Here Today, Gone Tomorrow


The last load of laundry is all folded and put away, but then your kid dumps out a bag of stinky, sweaty soccer gear. After you’ve spent the day cleaning the house, your crowd rumbles through the door, trampling pristine vacuum lines, scattering crumbs on the tabletops. The dinner you’ve fussed over all day — slicing, dicing, simmering, stirring — is wolfed down in minutes, and you’re left with congealed remains and crusty plates. Yes, the beauty of our endeavors can be fleeting!

This weekend, here in Sarasota, artists created their own ephemeral masterpieces at two different festivals, with no thought given to the temporary existence of the work.

Friday, at the Chalk Festival  in Venice, we stood on a scaffold at an unused  airport runway to take in the 450 foot shark painting created by a team of artists.  In town, we viewed more pavement art in their beginning stages. Some artists sat hunched on the asphalt,  drawing freehand, glancing occasionally at pictures in their hands. A couple laid out huge computer printouts punctured with holes so that color could seep through a chalk-filled sock smacked on the pavement. Others used long-stemmed chalk holders to outline their work. The finished pieces often didn’t look like much to our naked eyes, but when we looked at our photos, we gasped. Breeching whales jumped out of the ocean; bears perched on ice floes, toads sat on lily pads.

On Saturday, we headed to the Siesta Key Crystal Classic, a sand sculpting competition. Virtuosos wielding trowels and shovels built castles, a beach-friendly Santa, and a selfie-snapping gorilla. Some sculptures featured faces as haunting and alive as those we’d seen at Versailles. Sculptors chiseled away — if you can chisel sand — and beautiful figures emerged from the white sugary stuff of Siesta Beach.

The chalk artists and the sand sculptors seem to have the same mindset — their art is temporary. They’re content to enjoy creating something beautiful just because it’s beautiful. Crowds gawk at their work for a couple of days, and this is enough. In a day or two, they’ve left their work behind,  off to another festival in another town, perhaps.

This afternoon, we went back to Venice to see the works that weren’t completed on Friday, and the artists were nowhere to be seen, not around to hear the praise from the throngs viewing their completed pictures on the pavement.

But, our visit was cut short. Gray clouds turned black, and we dashed to the car to dodge the downpour. Now, as I sit in our living room, listening to the heavy rain outside, I feel wistful. The sandy beauties  have already lost their edges, and  colorful rivers of chalk  run along the curb in Venice.

The world’s museums are filled with centuries-old paintings and sculptures, but I celebrate the artists who are content to let their creations dissipate in a thunderstorm.


Wunnerful, Wunnerful!

“It’s a lovely day today,

so whatever you’ve got to do,

you’ve got a lovely day to do it in, that’s true.”

—- Irving Berlin

Tonight while channel surfing before Mike settled on some college football game, we landed on an old episode of Lawrence Welk, and just for some chuckles, we had to watch a bit.

In the 50’s, the Lawrence Welk Show was must-see TV for us Dineens. On Saturday nights after dinner, we five kids took turns having our baths,  drifting into the living room to plop in front of the TV until our bedtimes.  Lawrence Welk was cornball even back then, and we mocked his accent, his stiff smile, and those “champagne” bubbles floating over the band members. But what else was on? We only had four channels, and besides, Mom liked the show. My dad was no fan of the maestro, but he was a sucker for anything the  Irish tenor Joe Feeney belted out.

While we watched  the show tonight, I could almost feel wet hair on my neck, freshly shampooed for Sunday church. On those long-ago Saturday nights, while Myron played his accordion, the so-so-sweet Lennon Sisters harmonized, and Mr. Welk waved his baton, I sat in my pajamas and robe on the couch next to my mom, handing her bobby pins from a tin box so she could roll my hair in pin curls. While Norma Zimmer warbled some saccharine tune,  Mom wrapped a kerchief around my head so the pins would stay in place while I slept. Then, on Sunday morning, I’d be off to Mass with wreath of frizz on my shoulders.

Tonight’s blast from the past was in color — garish compared to the black and white images in my mind’s eye.  The schmaltz-o-meter was blowing up on this episode from 1973, a tribute to Irving Berlin. 1973! I wouldn’t have guessed that Lawrence Welk’s brand of entertainment  would have survived past the mid-sixties, but — go figure! — he remained on the air until 1982.

I’m pretty sure that by ’73, I was about ten years beyond my last viewing of a Lawrence Welk episode.  Yet, the show was still hanging on. While most of us were singing Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and Elton’s “Crocodile Rock”, Myron Florence played Berlin’s “Always” on the accordion, Bobby Burgess and his partner Cissy King whirled around to “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and  gussied-up couples from the audience shufflled around the dance floor to “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” When we were glued to “All in the Family” and “Mannix”, there was still a sliver of the market share — my grandmother, for example — tuned in to a duo crooning “Easter Parade.”

Then, the show continued to air, at least somewhere, for another nine years. Cheesy? For sure, and with a shelf life of a bright orange box of Velveeta.