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LIFE & TIMES / WENDY MILLER

Chanting Midsummer Mantras of Boredom

August 03, 1995|WENDY MILLER | Wendy Miller is editor of Ventura County Life

I don't know about you, but about this time each year I hit the hot, sticky midsummer wall. It comes at the very moment that my kids start to chant the mantra: "There's nothin' to eat, and there's nothin' to do. There's nothin' to eat, and there's nothin' to do."

It is right then that I realize the seasonal offerings, which in mid-June were so abundant, have more or less been spent, and now I am in summer withdrawal without any overdraft protection.

The vacation trip is over. The best camps--the expensive ones involving theme parks, aquatic gear and ancient explorers--are over. The grandparents are all doted out and refusing to answer the phone. The other kids in the neighborhood are all on vacation for the rest of the summer, and, if you believe my children, all of them are someplace really great, much better, in fact, than anyplace we have been. Ever .

The seasonal doldrums have so flattened the younger members of my household, they are into the mantra weeks ahead of schedule.

And the really hot season is still ahead of us. I have sought answers or refuge in newspapers, television and radio. But somehow, mudslides, hurricanes, killer heat waves, civil wars and budget crunches are not the sorts of things that help ease the summer blahs. In fact, these are the sorts of things that make it hard to digest your Wheaties in the morning.

So how exactly are we to get through it?

According to free-lance writer Barbara Weldon Tone, hundreds of people countywide improve their individual and collective mood each week by simply opening their mouths.

And screaming?

No, and singing.

All across the county, choir groups attract those who want an old-fashioned, low-tech approach to elevating their spirits. Depending on the group, the season and the inclination, the music they sing might be religious or secular--anything from madrigals to show tunes, from Beethoven to barbershop.

One thing they have in common, according to Tone, is that all their members--from teens to octogenarians--seem to have a whooping good time.

Now if I could just convince the kids to join a choir. My daughter might be game, but I don't know if my son would go for it. For that matter, I doubt that I could convince any of these groups to offer an 8-year-old a spot in the choir.

If they did he would finally have something to do and he would have to start chanting a new mantra, or, in this case, singing a new refrain. But only if I also got him something to eat.

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