13 August 2006

The truth about cats, dogs, iPods and adjusting one's sails...

"My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am."

I have a confession to make: I am jealous of Cassie's ability to grow blond hair. Cassie is a natural blond...and let's...just leave it at that. But she IS gorgeous and barks (scoffs) at the idea that blonds are of very little brain. She's just as sweet as she is beautiful and I try not to hold it against her that she doesn't have to have her roots touched up every 6 weeks or so. Personally, I do subscribe to the theory that blonds have more fun...I know two, at least, who do.

I don't know if too many people happened to read it, but a couple of weeks ago I read a news report, courtesy of a link on another site, which went into great detail, in words and pictures, of how Chinese officials in one particular province decided to handle a rabies "epidemic". I was stunned at the barbaric treatment of these dogs and wondered how a country, from which many of our possessions are made, could find their actions acceptable. Residents were offered 63 cents for each dog they turned in to be destroyed, but neighborhoods were canvassed and if a dog was found, even if that dog was attached to a leash and was being walked by it's young owner, it was seized and beat to death on the spot. Nevermind that it appeared healthy and in fine condition. No waiting around for those efficient government officials - they beat and bludgeoned the dogs to death. The photos were difficult to look at, and it certainly didn't give me a warm feeling with regard to the Chinese government, not that I ever had one, but who ARE these people? Thanks to my buddy Keith for the link, hard as it was to read and look at the accompanying photos, it's important to know what's going on out there and, I must admit, whenever I see something I own or pick up with the words, "Made in China", I want to bludgeon it.

Starry, starry sky...

A light rain fell for the better part of Saturday until around 6:00 and then the clouds parted and out came the sun. Things looked hopeful for the Perseids, I thought. I went to an incredible meeting Saturday Night and was warmly "Welcomed" with many hugs and lots of catching up with people I haven't seen in almost a year. It was fantastic to see so many friends I've been away from for much too long. It felt like going home and, in a way, it was exactly that. After an incredible hour and many touching moments, an old (in a good way!), dear, wonderful, friend took me to The Oceanic for some dinner and possible star-gazing.

Even though it was 10:30 at night, I had never seen the pier of The Oceanic lit up so brightly - wouldn't you just know they installed high-beam, illuminating lamps which are great if you dropped a contact or decided to look for sharks teeth, but a little overpowering if your desire is to scan the sky for shooting stars. However, I can't complain, because just before we took our seats, there was this gorgeous, amber-tinged moon which looked as if it was climbing right out of the ocean. It was breath-taking and it made up for the fact that we couldn't get past the ambient lighting to catch a dark patch of the sky. Every few minutes, we'd glance toward the ocean and the light dancing off the waves looked as if a path was being uncovered, giving the illusion that you could walk right out to the horizon.

The other noteworthy item, besides an amazing dinner, was that the wind was kicking up a cool, cool breeze and there we were, almost shivering in mid-August. How strange. When we got in the car after dinner, my friend reflexively turned the heat on in his SUV and looked at me and said, "Am I really turning the heat on and it's August?". Strange, indeed.

We headed for my house and obviously, we needed to warm up which could only mean I had to fire up the coffee pot! In exchange for a pot of coffee, the iPod I was so graciously presented with a few weeks ago, but was clueless to program, was magically brought to life, along with new songs that had been sent to me courtesy of an iTunes gift certificate - so now I can (legally) listen to Sting and look cool doing it. Amazing! I also had a very detailed lesson on how to download songs but I'm not sure I could do it without technical supervision. There is something about an Apple product which feels foreign to me. I think maybe it's the fact that the instructions are too easy and I try to make them much too complicated, having been aligned with Microsoft for much of my computing life.

Speaking of computer-related products, did you realize that yesterday was (August 12th) was the 25th anniversary of IBM presenting the first home personal computer? I can't honestly remember not having at least one, and usually more, computers in the house. How quickly they became a standard feature in most of our lives, both working and personal. And, while most of us have come to embrace computers as part of our lives during both work and non-work hours, interestingly enough, IBM recently sold off the division that makes PC's to a Chinese company. Kind of ironic.

Today was a lot of fun as well. I went to see "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Bobby Ricky". It was very funny - and there's no way you can't love Will Ferrell, but I'm not sure I loved it more than "Anchorman". My daughter and I may be debating this for some time. I did, however, laugh a lot and it felt so great.

While Will Ferrell & company were completely entertaining, Mayfaire Cinema was followed by a sumptuous dinner at Bluewater, sitting outside, watching the boats stream past on the ICW, and really great prime rib was topped off with coffee and a gorgeous sunset. No chill bumps this evening - the sun was almost back to its normal self, and it couldn't have been a nicer. I did bring home leftover tuna stuffed with spinach and goat cheese and Cassie was most grateful. I had a few bites of it at dinner, in exchange for sharing my prime rib, and it was almost too delectable to eat.

I've been tenatively offered the chance to sign on as first mate (think Gilligan) if a friend of mine decides to move his sailboat down from Oriental to a slip at Carolina Beach State Park marina. The funny thing is, he put his name on a waiting list in October 2003 and this past Friday he received a call out of the blue that his name had popped up. Not that Oriental isn't a perfectly beautiful spot, cell phone reception is spotty at best, and there's not a heckuva lot going on other than beautiful scenery (and some blood-thirsty mosquitoes) at that particular point on the Pamlico Sound. So, it looks as if a sailboat relocation may be coming up.

Now, I was very forthright and admitted the obvious, that my sailing credentials were basically nonexistent. I'm sure I could only cause problems on a beautiful boat, even a really well-equipped vessel who goes by the name of "Victoria" and who's dingy is named "Secret"...clever, huh? Those crazy globe-trotting computer geeks. But hey, if someone is silly enough to think I can take direction and orders, even after watching several episodes of "Gilligan's Island", who am I to argue? Some people just have to learn the hard way. :-)

Personally, I think the obvious lack of judgment in asking me to even step on a beautiful sailboat may be due to brain damage. Though it's rarely discussed openly, I can't help but wonder if some people suffer serious neurological deficits after spending way too much time in Australia and hanging out with Koalas and Kiwis, but I googled it and there's no real hard data or a study that's been done which might support or refute my theory. I wonder if it has anything to do with the exposure of watching water circle the WRONG WAY as it escapes through a drain? That's got to mess with your mind even more than people driving in the wrong lanes. Oh I know, I know...it's beautiful, yada, yada, yada...Whatever.

In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends. ~ John Churton Collins

The past few weekends, whether enjoying the beach in the middle of the day, walking around downtown after a late dinner, or getting back on track in other areas of my life, it has almost felt as if I drew a "get out of jail free" card in a repetitive round of Monopoly - you know, when you're in the middle of that game and you start to get the feeling it will never end and it just goes on and on and on and you arrive at a point where you just want to SCREAM?

My summer started out feeling that way, but after some tough choices, life began looking better. Although with the recent infusion of energy and new activities my Sudoku game has probably suffered, I most certainly haven't and I savor these days - in ways I could never have appreciated had I not had a tough few months leading up to this point. Don't get me wrong, I still love Sudoku, but for a time, while hiding away in my office to avoid conflict and because I generally had nothing else to do, I played more Sudoku than one might normally play in a couple of years, just to keep my mind focused on something other than the sheer insanity of a difficult situation so, clearly, it had it's place and I'm grateful for those mind-bending puzzles, but just now, when I see the familiar grid in Newsweek or USA Today or the NY Times, I get a strange flashback and I usually opt for something else. I'm sure that will dissipate and improve with time. Most things do.

And in a final note to Miss Katie, Sylvester and Cassie wanted you to know that they, along with Felix and Princess (wherever they are), wish you a happy birthday MONTH because, as we know in the Parker/Cook family, we don't simply celebrate the "day" of our birthdays but, in fact, the entire month. So when you look at these photos of Cassie and Sylvester, just know they were thinking..."HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! THANKS FOR ABANDONING US!!!!"....ooopps, they told me not to write that last part, but again, I don't tend to listen.

It's going to be a crazy week, but it's been an exceptionally relaxing and fun weekend and for that, I am most grateful. Life is fun again and new adventures are springing up all over the place.

It is friends, both old and new, that make these days so much easier than they might otherwise be. Unexpected daisies, movies, iPods that suddenly appear in my life, crazy text messages from special daughters (who are aging at alarming speed!), and a family that smoothes out the occasional rough patches with love and kindness, somehow knowing when I need those things the most.

One final footnote in the form of a serious request:

I don't mean to be combative or rude, but to the person, and you know who you are, constantly sending me text-messages and e-mails and making attempts to sign my guestbook, knowing those messages will find themselves deleted, I would appreciate it very much if you could make good on your promise to please cease any attempts at trying to communicate with me. Surely you must have better things to do and, if you don't, perhaps this might be a good time to find some better ways to fill up your time and direct your energy toward a pursuit that is healthy and doesn't border on stalking. I realize this is a difficult transition for you, and I know it will require a period of readjustment, but you will get to where you need to be sooner, if you simply let this go. Thank you in advance - I know you must truly want to "do the next right thing". Your life really is waiting on you to step into it, and I wish you the very best - it's time to move forward.

Ok, I'm done for today - grateful for yesterday and looking forward to tomorrow! Enjoy these summer days and squeeze everything you can out of them. Time is flying by at an incredible rate!