Saturday, July 2, 2016

Of Course I Went to Law School...

I'm troubled. I'm dissatisfied.  I'm Irish.
- Marianne Moore

Every day of my life, I am the third act of Ms. Moore's trilogy.  On far too many days, I am the first two as well.  Not today however.

For today, my Irish ass as well as the rest of my "prone to burn if not protected by a sufficient amount (a/k/a "A LOT") of SPF-50 Sunscreen" self is on vacation.  Proof, perhaps, if of nothing else then that even dissatisfaction needs a holiday. 

To borrow a phrase from the late, great Warren Zevon, "I'll see you in the next life.  Wake me up for meals"... 


Friday, July 1, 2016


Here's a fun fact (I can actually see my daughter Suzanne rolling her eyes in anticipation of what is to come):   July 1st in a leap year is literally and figuratively the mid-point of the year.  It is the 183rd day of the year and 2016 has one hundred and eighty-three days left in which to delight, amaze, and terrify us.  

In the movie of our life that plays on a continuous loop in our mind's eye, it may well seem as if it was just last night that we were raising a glass to - and singing wistfully of - old acquaintances.  Nope.  It was considerably longer ago than that.   I sometimes wonder why champagne appears to be the beverage of choice when one has a toast to make given that champagne's arguably two most readily-identifiable characteristics, which are the way in which is spills forth out of the bottle upon the cork's ejection and its effervescent bubbles that rise immediately to its surface before bursting and disappearing, define its fleeting nature.  On second thought, perhaps I have just answered my own question. 

Whether one views life as a sprint, a marathon, or a race of some as-yet-undetermined middle distance, it is a race in which time neither slows nor stops, irrespective of whether presently you are enjoying it or it is, instead, trying your soul.  It waits for no one.  Not today.  

Not ever. 


Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Toast to a Life-Long Alliance

When eyes meet in silence, a pact can be made
A life-long alliance that won't be betrayed
Won't be betrayed...
- Pete Townshend

One of the world's genuinely good humans is observing a birthday today.  I initially wrote 'celebrating' but Mark is Scottish and the Scots - with their general makeup and world view - make the Irish look like card-carrying members of the Sunshine Carpet Cleaning Company.  Thus, celebrating felt as if it might be a bit of a stretch.  Observing is a far safer wager. 

Either way, I hope that my old (albeit not older than me) friend Mark takes a moment or two today to enjoy the annual marking of the date of his earthly arrival.  Whether he will do something "crazy" such as work only a fourteen-hour day so that he might spend a bit of quality time with his two kids I would not pretend to know.  There are scant few people I have ever met whose work ethic makes my own seem embarrassingly soft.  Mark is one of them. 

He is, also, an exceptionally loyal and good friend.  Rare these days is the person whose word is his bond.  Mark is such a person.  As long as I have known him, my nickname for him has been "Bowinkle" when in fact the animated character he most strongly resembles is Horton, Dr. Seuss's elephant.  Each of them say what they mean and mean what they say.  

Happy Birthday, old friend.  And thanks for what is now fast approaching four decades of friendship. 


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ascension From Rocky Top us the color is a flag of pride,
Because it identifies us as Lady Vols and, therefore, 
As women of an unmistakable type.  Fighters.  
I remember how many of them fought for a better life themselves.  
I just met them halfway.
- Pat Summitt

If you believe in the illusion that Life is fair, then Tinkerbell likely had to blow an additional shot of fairy dust into your coffee yesterday morning just so you could make it through the day once you had learned of Pat Summitt's death at the far-too-young age of sixty-four.  If you live an illusion-free existence, then you accepted the news as being par for the course in our celestial day-to-day, and appropriately broken to the world on a Tuesday, thus reinforcing its status as the week's worst day. 

Although she earned her living as the Head Coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers Basketball Team, which team she coached to 1,098 victories and eight NCAA titles during her thirty-eight years on the sideline, Pat Summitt's influence extended far beyond the ninety-four feet of hardwood she patrolled with unwavering intensity for close to four decades in Knoxville. I dare you to read this story that Princeton University's hoops coach Courtney Banghart shared on her Twitter account yesterday and not smile - at least a little.

Every one of the teenagers who came to Tennessee to play basketball for Pat Summitt earned her degree, irrespective of how much playing time she earned, and became an inextricable part of the fabric of Summitt's life as the coach did hers.  

She may have "just met them halfway" but, once she did, she remained with them forever...

...something which neither death nor time shall diminish.  


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Soul Food

I have no firsthand knowledge of just how many kernels of truth are contained in the old saw about the early bird and the worm.  I have a "no-worm" dietary policy, even when the slippery fellow in question has been basting in a tequila bath for an indeterminate amount of time prior to making my acquaintance.  Even when I was a full-time drunk - a lifetime ago - tequila was not go-to booze for me.  Candidly, other than when it is consumed in shots, tequila seems to end up in brightly-colored, cheerily-named drinks.  I am Irish.  I have zero interest in such silliness.  

Irrespective of how well the early bird fares vis-a-vis the great worm hunt, I can attest to the fact that getting out the door early in the morning to run creates the opportunity for me to see some visually spectacular images.  This weekend, while Saturday ended up being a sun-filled, warm Jersey summer day, it did not begin in an auspicious manner.  When I went for my run at sunrise Saturday morning, there was daylight but no sunrise of which to speak.  As dawn broke, the sun and the clouds were locked in a knife fight for control of the sky.  

Sunday morning's sunrise, however, served to reinforce my belief that weather has no memory.  Knowing that the Missus and I were going to go for our inaugural "northern" bike ride (over the Shark River Inlet and into, first, Avon-by-the-Sea and thereafter Bradley Beach) since we had ridden south on Saturday morning when Margaret broke in her new wheels, my running route on Sunday morning was south.  As per my custom and practice, before I headed south towards Spring Lake, I ran east on 17th Avenue to our beach, hoping to catch the sunrise.  I did and I was not disappointed by what I saw. 

17th Avenue Beach - Belmar 
June 26, 2016

I am a creature of habit and - as such - I tend to run straight along the water when I run south into Spring Lake and then return north to home through Spring Lake's downtown and, then, past Lake Como.  Sunday morning, instead of bearing due south on Ocean Avenue, I made a right turn onto South Boulevard, which is a Spring Lake street that borders Lake Como (the body of water) on its southern side.  In Lake Como, we have its companion street, North Boulevard, which performs the same function on our side of the lake. 

As I ran west on South Boulevard, with the lake to my right, two young people on their bicycles were riding east.  The young man, who was about fifteen feet ahead of his female cycling companion, was riding his bike in hands-free mode and as he pedaled past me I noticed that he had his phone raised up in front of him, preparing to take a picture.  I really did nothing more than follow the natural trajectory of his path of travel and swung my own head in a northeasterly direction in order to see what it was he was attempting to photograph.  

Lake Como at Sunrise (South Blvd. Spring Lake)
June 26, 2016

Having now seen for myself just how beautiful the sunrise looked over the lake, I bore around South Boulevard to 3rd Avenue (a slight turn to the north) because I presumed that I would have a chance to see something at least as gorgeous as I had seen moments earlier.  My presumption was correct. 

Lake Como at sunrise (taken from 3rd Avenue)
June 26, 2016

Sunday morning, I made the southern leg of my journey the inland leg.  I ran through Spring Lake's downtown district and once I reached Passaic Avenue, I turned left and headed east towards the ocean.  When I reached the intersection of Passaic and Ocean Avenues, I crossed over Ocean Avenue so that I could get up onto the Spring Lake boardwalk and then turn for home.  The early-morning sky looked pretty damn fine over Spring Lake too. 

Sun coming up over Spring Lake 
June 26, 2016

"Aloha, Keep Off Canoe!" - Spring Lake
June 26, 2016

Boardwalk & Lifeguard Stand at sunrise (Spring Lake)
June 26, 2016

Far be it from me to tell the early bird how to handle his affairs but I were him, I would lift my head up and take a look around every now and again.  A juicy worm makes for tasty eating, no doubt, but as my great-grandpa Phineas once observed, "bird cannot live by worm alone.  He needs a little food for the soul." 

A sentiment I could not have better expressed no matter how hard I tried. 


Monday, June 27, 2016

The Sea of Tranquility

I cannot remember precisely how he worded it - and George Carlin was such a genius with language that I do not want to guess at what it was he said for fear of not doing justice to his words - but I found myself spending hours on Sunday thinking of what Carlin said about humankind's relentlessly inane pursuit of "stuff".  

Margaret and I got up onto the beach before 9:00 AM and spent our day less than fifty feet from the water.  Shortly after we arrived, a little boy (maybe four or five years old) plopped down in the surf about twenty feet in front of us with his dad and a red plastic bucket.  For the next several hours, son and father worked together building sand castles.  They were so close to the surf that every fifteen minutes or so whatever work they had completed was washed away.  And neither of them cared.  The little boy laughed and laughed and his father never tired of starting anew on their oceanside construction project.  

Sunshine, patience, and a plastic bucket that was likely purchased for less than ten dollars.   All the ingredients needed to provide a little boy with an unforgettable day.   If George Carlin had been on the beach yesterday, I suspect he would have been grinning ear-to-ear.  

Him and me both.  


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deeds and Words

You take things for granted - or at least I do - during my lazy summer days at the Shore.  Typically, the most thought-intensive part of my day is deciding how far I am going to go on my morning run.  I am a man in slow motion at the beach.  Action?  Not really. 

Yesterday afternoon as Margaret and I were sitting on the beach soaking up the sun, the two young men manning the lifeguard stand on our beach proved themselves to be men of action.  Two swimmers started flailing in the water - in trouble and in need of assistance.  Without a moment's hesitation these two youngsters (if I had to hazard a guess I would estimate each is twenty or so) dived into the water and rescued the two distressed swimmers. 

Not everyone is wired to place himself or herself in harm's way to save another - especially when that someone is a stranger.  These two kids - neither of whom likely makes enough to retire a rich man from his gig as a Belmar lifeguard - did so instinctively.