29 September 2007

Friendships, the Quiet of a Kayak and Looking at the Same Moon...

"If you choose a time,
I'll catch the moon,
I'll see you there.
From wherever I am,

Wherever you are,

We'll find somewhere.

I see the same stars in the same sky.

Shining down on you.

I'll be looking up from wherever I am
And it's you I'll see,

If you're looking, too.

Are you looking at the same moon?"

~ Phil Collins, "The Same Moon"

Wasn't it beautiful? This past week, that full moon was something to see. I saw it from my bedroom window. I saw it from the sand on Wrightsville Beach this past Tuesday Night and I watched it dance on the calm waves. I heard about it spreading it's glow on Manhattan when Katie called me Wednesday Night to share with me how beautiful it was in her town. My friend Mike called me from Baghdad Thursday afternoon (my time), and he was looking at it shining over the desert. Last night I saw it rise out of the Atlantic as a glorious orange orb and, again, it was positively breathtaking. Truly, it was just something not to be missed. (Photo: My new shades! I'm back in business! 27 September 2007).

I guess it just kind of occurred to me that for as vast as this planet can sometimes feel, it's entirely wonderful that even across tons of miles and several time zones, we can share the same view, albeit a few hours apart, perhaps. I'm willing to bet it looked pretty beautiful in France as well. What says you, Michel? Were you "looking at the same moon", along with the rest of us? What a cool sense of connectedness courtesy of an awe-inspiring "la bella luna".

Connectivity. Whether it's via the portal of the moon, the sun, the stars or the water, its such a caveat of our existence, isn't it? It's completely free, dependable - save for a few clouds sometimes, but even when clouds obscure the light and you're suddenly pitched into darkness, you still know the light is up there and that, after a few hours or days or maybe even a week sometimes, the wind clouds will push away and the light will shine through just as it always has. That's such a comforting thought and knowledge and belief of the return of light after darkness, gets us through squirrelly patches we run into from time to time. I guess the seeds of Faith are borne and nurtured when it's dark and cloudy, and I've found that if I listen close, I hear a clear and steady voice telling me the light is still really there and won't be obscured indefinitely. Sometimes, believe is all you can do.

Sometimes, it's enough.

A bigger sense of connectivity comes when I think of friends and family. What a dazzling connection - talk about powerful.

"I took a walk alone last night,
I looked up at the stars,
To try and find an answer to my life.
I chose a star for me.
I chose a star for him.
I chose two stars for my kids, and one star for my wife.
Something made me smile.
Something seemed to ease the pain.
Something about the universe and how it's all connected..." ~ Sting

Of course Sting gets it. I'm starting to get it too, but with nothing close to his eloquence. He is, after all, STING! But still, haven't you done that? Gone outside and looked up at the stars and sort of toss a question out to the deep void of space, "What is this? What should I do? What am I really about and whatever it is that I'm about, how can I do it better? Why am I here and, oh yes, could someone up there show me a clear purpose and light a torch so that I can find the path?"

Hey, I've done it a lot of times in my life. I hope I'm around to do it many more times in the future. Even though it may seem like a futile exercise or maybe just a good excuse to go outside and star-gaze, I really do sometimes feel closer to some answer and maybe I am just a tiny speck in the galaxy, but I love staking out a tiny claim. I love my fellow specks, too. Well, most of them. :-)

The moon is such a stunning source of planetary interconnectivity, but even more compelling, is the connectivity of relationships - all of them. Do you ever stop and think how many relationships you have? What those people mean to you and what you may mean to those people? Friends, family, and of course, the animals we're "owned" by. I can't imagine my life without my animals and certainly not without my friends and family. I have connections with people I'll probably only know through exchanging e-mails. I can tell instantly when I "connect" with the author of a book that comes to mean so much to me and touches me in a way nothing else could. What about a song that resonates and you find yourself playing it over and over and over again until other members of your household beg and plead with you to give it a rest? Happens all the time at my house - just ask Justin. Lately I've practically worn out, "I Was Brought to My Senses". No question about it, I'm strung out on Sting and his lovely British accent.

As humans, we appear to be in possession not only of Connective Tissue which set us all up perfectly for "Connective Issues". Doesn't anything come without "issues"???? Hey, it's not always simple and easy-to-understand, but it's generally worth further investigation, this connectivity predisposition that can sometimes feel like a curse, but is overwhelmingly a blessing.

Having said that, there are a few connections where it's just best to disconnect. Hang-up. Cut the line. And who hasn't had a few of those? I've had a handful I should have passed on, but I guess they served the purpose of those darn hard-won lessons. Hanging up is an option I should probably practice more than I do, but curiosity often gets the better of me. I eventually hang-up though not hanging up earlier is probably, well, one of my hang-ups. Did I mention I'm not perfect? I'm sure I didn't have to - I bet you picked up on that something close to instantly.

But for the love of God, Country and everything holy, hang up on pirates. Just do yourself a favor. Skip the cruise and pass on all "Jolly Roger" types, unless it's the sour apple flavor of the hard candy. Sooner or later that pirate is going down. Skip those types of connections. Paste a post-it note on your forehead if you must, but remember the mantra. [Geoff, I loved your word scramble - it really was garbage!]

While a few connections should be avoided at all cost, there's always the risk of swinging too far on the scale which, I think, would be tantamount to "no dialtone", i.e., being "out of order", and rendering one unable to connect at all. This would set one up for a period of isolation and I don't even like the sound of that word, much less the concept it represents. It's just not natural, unless you're a gene in a petri dish, sitting in agar awaiting some brilliant, skilled scientist to isolate you and cite you as a culprit responsible for some devastating disease process. Personally, isolation is one of the MANY things I'm happy to be hopelessly inept at doing well. I think it's a completely uninteresting and terribly boring. Connections are definitely the better choice, I suspect. Over-correcting a course is probably just as silly as steering in the wrong direction - either way, you're not headed in the right direction and it's finding the right direction that we're all supposed to be about, or so I'm told.

I love this one particular clip from "Feast of Love" and no, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've worn out the clips on the website. (Click here to watch Morgan Freeman give Greg Kinnear some fine advice..."Jump, jump - next time with your eyes open!" Morgan Freeman says it's OK to jump. Morgan Freeman is a wise man. I remember him from the "The Electric Company" when I was a little girl. He taught me how to sound things out and put words together on PBS, way back when I was in elementary school. If he says it's OK to jump, just make sure your eyes are open, that's good enough for me. He also says, in another clip, "I'd proceed with caution...". That's pretty smart talk as well.

But still, I'm just so grateful for connectedness, interplanetary and otherwise.

I didn't go kayaking this past Sunday Night. I went to dinner, instead. Kayaking didn't get canceled, it simply got postponed. Friday night, according to one expert source, the waves weren't right for surfing but they were optimal for kayaking, so I had my first sunset kayak experience. I wasn't sure about the whole thing, having never been before, but of course, I fell in love with it. It was quiet, like sailing in a way, but the view was almost the same as being 'one with the water' and, in a way, that's how it felt. My first kayak adventure was in a two-person kayak and I was in "first class" which meant, I got to have beverage service (Jasmine tea), but I paddled as well - and it was a lot of fun.

When I told Katie of my plans, she once again advised that I check the weather forecast first because we all know how I love taking to the water in tropical storm conditions, but I assured her it wasn't going to be that ill-conceived and/or adventurous. We paddled due west, toward the setting sun, and for a few seconds I felt like that "Bugs Bunny" cartoon, one of my favorites when I was a little girl, where Bugs is paddling after evading, yet again, becoming trapped, and off he strokes in his canoe, toward the setting sun. The image made me giggle.

We soon reached the marsh and it was so awesome being lower than the reeds. We saw heron, egrets and lots of fish jumping about. No dolphins, of course - I seem to be a dolphin deterrent, something I wish I knew how to remedy - but even without the marine mammals, it was still a "don't miss" evening cruise. The tide coming in took us around twists and turns and in places the clear water was no more than a foot deep and I could see the oyster beds as we passed over them. Of course, when we got to the "cul-de-sac" at the end of the marsh and it was time to return home, paddling against the incoming tide and current required a little elbow grease, but it was such a cool ride on such a "picture postcard perfect" evening. A fantastic way in which to spend one of the last days of September.

Now, if that wasn't enough, about an hour or so later, I saw the moon emerge from the horizon and rise to the sky and take it's mobile position amongst the stars, already present and accounted for, and the soundtrack of the languorous waves was the perfect accompaniment. There were quite a few people also enjoying the beach, well, save one couple who were lying on the sand enjoying taking photos of themselves with their cell phone. They were totally missing the moon but I don't think they noticed or cared. Ahhhh...maybe youth really is wasted on the young, as the old man commented in "It's a Wonderful Life", when James Stewart was taking forever to get up the courage to kiss Donna Reed.

I don't really think youth is wasted on the young - maybe we should just stop thinking of ourselves as getting old? Aren't we perpetually growing up in some form or fashion? Is there some ill-conceived rule that states one's youth must occur between the ages of "X" and "Y"? If there is, I want no part of that and that's certainly not some attempt by me to take away one-second of my 47 years (plus) years on this planet...no, no, no - I claim every single one of them and, if anything, I'm kind of proud for having survived so far, but just because chronologically I'm 47 years old, doesn't mean that I have to abandon any of the fun those people between the ages of "X" & "Y" have. I don't buy into that and I happen to know better. So far, I'm having a great "youth" and I project it will last as long as I do. Sometimes I think people really do go much too willingly and far too gently "into that good night". I've got no plans for that and I suspect I'll be in real trouble should I consider the notion.

It has, quite obviously, been a very nice week. I met up with Jimi for lunch at "our place" (i.e., Elijah's) this past Thursday. Speaking of not growing up, I picked him up from his office, crutches in tow. He had been walking his new puppy and from what I could gather, the puppy (a bulldog variety), went one way while Jimi was still going the other and he wound up with a sprained ankle. He took it in stride, as he does almost everything, except for that fact that his "stride" now came attached with crutches. It really didn't slow him down too much and he was even more amusing on his Tylenol with codeine, not that he needs it to be funny! He's generally larger than life.

We had a spirited conversation over salads and he even shared some of his tuna with me as he picked at my shrimp. We downed a lot of tea and I topped it off with coffee. We noticed to the left of us was what looked to be a gathering of the "Red Hat Society" but not a fun-loving chapter. They looked rather dour and Jimi pointed to one that seemed to annoy him by virtue of her facial expressions. We vowed never to appear that way in about thirty or so years when it comes to be "our turn", but who knows...nah, I don't see it and I can't imagine animated Jimi ever affecting a dour visage. He's just too infused with so much spirit. I imagine him to be an irascible old man someday, still pondering which tattoo to get next.

I received a package this past week. It came from Little River, SC, but it was actually by way of Baghdad. My friend Sgt. Mike sent me an incredible gift and, along with it, a "push" for me to get down to business. I can no longer spend my time in my newly redecorated bedroom relaxing and reading...oh no, no, no...he's served up the means for me to write wherever I am and is determined that I become more "mobile". He sent me a spiffy IBM Think Pad with a wireless card so there's no running and there's no hiding. I have strict instructions and he's a radar specialist so I have a feeling I may well be under surveillance.

It was a phenomenal gesture and kind beyond all measure. Thank you, Mike. I'll keep playing those Power Ball numbers so that you have a multi-million dollar check waiting for you when you return to the states. You're one of a kind and, as you remind me, another "gift" of having dealt with a few of the obstacles I ran into this summer. Good things happen to us even when it looks like we're in the middle of a mess and stumbling into you has been such a gift.

Mike and I "connected" this past summer when he signed my guest book with an aside about sailing. At the time of his signing, I was "forbidden" by Capt'. H(ook) to respond but, of course, I did send a thank you to the man who signed my blog, but at the time, that was all I did. It wasn't worth the fight. A couple of months later, Sgt. Mike read about my car accident and e-mailed me good wishes and a gift card for some tea. This was about a week after the car crash and a couple of days after I became "disengaged". At last, it was safe to write. He's proven himself to be a great cheerleader and has a kind spirit. I know his family must be so proud of him and I'm sure they can't wait for him to return home. We're all praying for that, Mike!

But I still think you have a coffee problem and, coming from me, that's saying something!

There is one important thing that I want to touch on that happened back in May. My Dad, as I've written many times, is a diarist. He's one of the finest writers I've ever been privileged to read. For my 47 plus years as his daughter, he's kept a daily diary. That's a lot of diary entries! I'm sure he could tell me exactly how many because he's got a calculator for a brain and he's driven by statistics but his motivation and power come from his heart and his heart, as anyone will attest, must have been one that God used as a proto-type in terms of function and design and the power to love. (Photo: Harry Burke & Barbe Cook, May 16, 2007.)

Both of my parents are very special and not just to me - but to many people. In fact, many of my friends have "adopted" these two fine people and when I was drearily considering the insensibility of moving to Raleigh this past summer, I got a keen sense that many of my friends were more concerned that my parents stay in Wilmington, regardless of where I went off to. I heard a lot of "Whew's", when I'd share that they had no plans to relocate North - they were much too bright to even consider the ridiculousness of such a notion.

A few days before Katie, Justin, Billie and I took off for the Outer Banks, as I drove to Fayetteville to pick Katie up from the Amtrack Station, my parents were privileged and oh-so-pleased to welcome unexpected company to our home. Excitement was at a high-pitch level! A gentleman who was CFO with the parent company that owned the coal company my father worked for before he retired, had retired 18 months before my Dad. Mr. Harry Burke worked in Chicago and was known, around our house, as the "big brass", but more importantly, the relationship that developed between my Dad and Mr. Burke segued into a friendship and has carried on long past retirement.

Following retirement, Mr. Burke left Chicago and relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona while my parents retired EVERYWHERE we moved (and it's been a lot of moves!). All during this time, Dad and Mr. Burke would stay connected via phone and e-mail and keep up with the goings-on in their respective lives. Even though my Dad retired in October 1986, 21 years ago, they've shared many phone calls, traded news, followed each other's family happenings and, in the case of poor Mr. Burke, tried to keep up with us geographically. (Photo: Janet, Maxine, Harry, Barbe & Marsha, May 16, 2007)

While Mr. Burke has been happily installed in Scottsdale, AZ, my parents have lived in Amarillo, San Antonio, San Angelo, Stow, OH, El Paso, Pembroke Pines, FL, Charleston, SC, Amarillo (again), and finally Wilmington. That's a lot of push-pins on the map!

Though they have corresponded and visited via telephone, they had not seen each other in over 22 years. On 16 May of this year, as I was driving to pick up my lovely daughter, my Dad and Mom enthusiastically welcomed Mr. Burke, his companion Marsha and his sister Janet, who lives in the area. These two "old" friends had quite a wonderful reunion. My parents were so happy to see all of them and have the chance to visit in person. Oh how I wish I could have been here for it, but I am told it was a wonderful thing. I know it will go down as one of the highlights of this year in the best way possible.

I haven't checked, but I can imagine it made for "red ink" in my Dad's diary. The way it works, if something particularly noteworthy occurs in the course of a day, such a birthday, raise, or some other milestone like a car wreck, tropical storm sailing, breaking up with a pirate (sorry, I couldn't resist), these things get what I call the "red ink" treatment. Now, I'm sure I've made for a few pens' worth of red ink in my references in these volumes - some of it even good! But I have no doubt that May 16th and the visit with Harry Burke made for a "red ink" notation and probably in capital letters. I know my parents still talk about that day and renewing their friendship with this special company. Of course, my Mom made a cake and I know coffee was probably served.

As they got things ready for their visitors, it reminded me of when I was a little girl on Sunday Mornings, getting the house polished and shined for either relatives or sometimes even the pastor (I was always particularly instructed to watch my mouth on those days!). There was always an extra "hum" and verve. It was very much like that as I left to go retrieve my daughter and I so enjoyed hearing about it after I returned home with her. That was an extra special day - a visit from a long-time friend and former co-worker AND a visit from a granddaughter all in the same day. My dad may well have had to get a new red pen for that one!

As I've mused about the way my friends have swooped in and taken such fine care of me these past few weeks, sometimes I think of my parents and all of the friends they've collected through the years - how they've kept up with them, rejoiced right along with them through good news, and prayed at the dinner table for them and through long, heartfelt phone conversations through difficult times. My folks have taught me so many lessons through the years, but the presence of friendships in their lives has been a paramount component to their quality of life and thank God I managed to pick up on this. Friends, as they've shown me by example, and the love of family, have been what's counted most in their lives. They've been both the recipient and the giver at various times in their lives and it's been patently obvious how they've managed to live such a rich, love-saturated life with a great deal of affection and kindness.

I've observed in my life, so many times, how this is inarguably true. Much more so than possessions or money, it is these intrinsic relationships that I think count for a life well-lived. I am grateful for my parents example, just as I'm grateful for, and to, the people who claim positions within my inner circle. In the words of Robert Frost, "it has made all the difference...". (Photo: I "heart" these people...Daddy, Justin, Katie & Mom, May 2007).

It seems to me that no matter what life might fling at us, or what mess we may find ourselves mired in, if we have a hand or two to hold, we're going to be OK. Maybe a little bruised and scratched and roughed up a bit, but it's going to be fine. I'm pretty sure it's one of those things that "matter most".

As with my Dad and Mr. Burke, even after not seeing each other for over 21 years, the "connectedness", that bond remained intact, viable and strong. It was nurtured through the years with notes and phone calls, well-wishes, warm thoughts and no small measure of prayer. Distance never compromised it. Time seemed only to make it even more precious. Is that not just the most incredible gift? Thank God for these relationships and ties that bind. Then again, thank God for a lot of things!

And thank God for the gift of the full moon this past week. If you missed it, you really missed quite a site, but don't beat yourself up too much - the calendar reports there will be another one in less than 30 days. Maybe you'd better circle 26 October on your calendar. I'd suggest using red ink.

23 September 2007

The Fall of Autumn...Transitioning into a Transitional Season

"There are a few more freckles on your shoulders.
The hammock swings lower and touches the grass.
The apples are ripe and the corn is past .
Everyone says summer goes by so fast,

And we just got here..."
~ Carly Simon, "We Just Got Here"

The last day of summer was sweet. It was just such a delight - the entire day and into the evening. It was the perfect coda to a tumultuous, crazy, adventure-filled period of time. The summer of 2007 is now, officially, one for the books. It is history. It was quite an interesting time, indeed. (Photo, top: Sue & Susie, 22 September 2007.)

My good friend Sue dropped in yesterday morning bearing gifts from Starbucks. Whenever she comes by, she's always got a surprise or three up her sleeve. She never quite understands that she's the real deal, the main event and even if her hands are empty as she raps on the door, she IS the "gift". And so it was yesterday.

We were all so happy to see her. I hadn't seen her since we last had coffee at Starbucks (where else?) way back in April on a Saturday Morning at Mayfaire. Too much time had passed and so much had happened in our lives. It was so wonderful to reconnect with my energy-infused friend who now lives in Topsail but brought her NY accent and verve with her. She's a force of nature, this one.

My Mom joined us for coffee, talk and a discussion of all that had transpired in the season of sun that was coming to a close. It was great being with both of them. We spoke of her impressive daughter who is in her 3rd year of residency at a hospital in Charlotte. She shared news of her visit with her Manhattan-based son and his wife, who visited her last weekend. Both he and his wife are attorneys in NYC and what interesting lives they lead. She no longer has her side-kick, Cody, who is her daughter's bouncy, boisterous and beautiful Labrador who, one night when Sue was sharing dinner with us, decided that he wanted to go for a swim and we watched in awe as he leapt in our pool with wild and reckless canine abandon. What a show he put on for us! It was hysterical. (Photo: Maxine, Susie & Barbe, 22 September 2007.)

We talked of sailing misadventures and the beauty of the Abacos. She told me that when she read my e-mail back in August when I wrote about my car wreck and, after visiting the blog and checking out the late, great PT Cruiser, she literally cried. She's a passionate woman and I knew she was giving an honest account of her initial reaction. I was spellbound. I reminded her I was in the car wreck and I didn't even cry! She must have gotten emotional enough for both of us.

My Dad finally got up and joined us at the table and collected his warm hug from Sue. Vanessa and Joe came by Friday Night and of course, my Dad got an enthusiastic hug from Vanessa so he had two blond hugs in two days. He felt he was living large.

The conversation around the table went in every possible direction and eventually my Daddy pulled out his diaries and shared some old memories with Sue, who listens with rapt attention to his eager and colorful storytelling. It was just so good to have her back among us. I sat there sipping my hot coffee, surveying the scene, and feeling so happy to be in my home, among family and a good friend, warm sunshine bathing us; a perfect accompaniment to the goodness of those sharing this table with me. Life could only be "tagged" delicious in every single way possible. Moments such as this may look ridiculously common and maybe not so noteworthy, but it's a collection of such "notes" that make any life notable and, I suspect, the recalling of these times comprise a great deal of one's "best recalled times", a little later in life. In fact, I'm sure of it. (Photo: Maxine, Barbe & Sue, 22 September 2007.)

I received an e-mail from my wonderful friend, Mike, serving in Iraq. Well, to be more accurate, I got an e-mail with a heading of "Look! Santa Came Early!". I opened it up and nearly fell over. I signed on to try and talk sense into him, but what can you do with crazy people hanging out in Iraq? He definitely rendered me temporarily mute, but I found my voice quickly when I found him on Yahoo Chat and even though I'm his "elder" by 6 1/2 years, he paid no attention to my admonitions. I'm going to have to schedule a "sit-down" with that boy when he gets stateside this December. If he thinks Iraq is challenging and has "fireworks", he's got no clue until he's dealt with me in person. Thanks Mike - you're an amazingly generous and sweet soul, but you're in so very much trouble. It's sad to reenter the United States in such a way, but you brought it on yourself and though you may be a good foot taller than me, I'm not easily intimidated. But you will be! :-)

Then, I took on something crazy. I had been at a friend's home the night before and was admiring his house and the moulding, and decided I should strip the wooden moulding and handrail of my staircase. I blame him for this, though he refuses to take any responsibility. I got out the liquid stripper and started peeling and melting the paint adhered to the wooden spools and rail and I'm in the middle of a mess, but I think the results will be worth it. Right now, it's just too soon to tell, but I remain optimistic.

What had been a beautiful sunny "last day of summer" Saturday, soon clouded over and thundered boomed in the distance. We had a heckuva storm late yesterday afternoon! I actually took a nap, uncharacteristic for me, and woke up to three nervous cats pacing around my room. It lasted quite a while and looked impressive on the radar. Eventually it passed, as storms always do. If I learned nothing else this summer, I did learn this.

Finally, I took a friend up on an invitation for a final beach walk of summer. I drove over to Wrightsville Beach and we walked in the waves just shortly after low tide, the moon now sprinkling the undulating water and it looked like diamonds dancing in the dark. It was as close to breath-taking as imaginable and I scanned the almost empty beach and just breathed it all in. I was aware that fall was washing in and taking summer out with the tide. It wasn't sad. As we walked down the beach, my mind silently did a quick rewind of the summer - so much of it involved the waters of the Atlantic my feet were stepping in at that very moment. I reached down and dipped both hands in the surf and just let it flow through my fingers.

I can honestly say that this past summer, I didn't just make casual observations from the safety of the shore. I was in the middle of it, in more ways than one. I'd made mistakes, misjudgments, miscalculations and misread the signs, but even with so many "misses", I can say I lived this summer. I guess when you "jump in the water", you're just going to get wet and maybe knocked back by a rogue wave now and again and that's life. It's OK. It is absolutely OK.

For as many mistakes as there were, I learned a lot; I participated. I splashed, sailed and swam and I made it safely to shore and how grateful I am that the shore I returned to was the one on which I found myself walking last night. Wrightsville Beach. The first place I met the ocean when I was six years old. It seemed so oddly apropos that summer 2007 ended where my love affair with the ocean began way back in 1966. My 2007 summer started with a bang, a tropical storm and the illusion of promise. The summer ended with a serene stroll on the beach, calm waves, "a few more freckles on my shoulder", but none the worse for wear and, in many ways, wiser, definitely in better shape physically, and a much more peaceful mind, heart and soul.

Before we walked off the sand, I turned for one last look at the "summer ocean" and I had to smile and whisper, to God, a sincere and heartfelt thanks. For the beauty, the wisdom, the adventures and for surviving it all!

I'm going kayaking this evening. I've never been on a kayak and I'm looking forward to it. It seems a reasonable way to begin Fall - communing, once again, with the water and nature. No tropical storms are forecast so I think it will be a safe expedition. Of course, I'll be taking my camera and if we don't encounter rough marsh conditions, I'll upload the photos later tonight.

As for the Autumn, well, it's not this particular season I have issues with - it's the one that follows that I don't care so much for. I may have been born in February, but I am not a winter person by any stretch of the imagination. However, were it not for the diminished hours of daylight, the chill of the air, the occasional gray skies, summer probably wouldn't hold such charm. I'm definitely going to look for the good stuff, enjoy the days, remain open to opportunities and celebrate every single morning I'm afforded the gift of hopping out of bed and into my days. I'm stunned at how fast they continue to fly and I swear I think time gains momentum in terms of warp speed with each year I celebrate in February.

Maybe the more days we're allowed to hang out on this planet simply increases our awareness of how precious it is and, as we all know, there isn't an infinite quantity of them so that means there's just no time to waste and plan on "living large" another day. No, this is it. This is the "big show". The seeming ordinariness of these "days of our lives" are the "show". How (extra)ordinary they turn out to be is largely up to our own creativity and invention. I aspire to being as creative as I possibly can. I want more nights when I can look at the 24 hours I've had at my disposal and think, "Yeah, I squeezed the most I was capable of out of 'em.". And, because I'm human and know all of my days won't report such stellar results, on the ones I've lagged and been careless with, I want to look back at the end of those, and hopefully determine to do it better next time. And then do it!

And, on a happy note, there's only 272 days until summer but, of course, there's a lot of living to do until then. Happy Autumn to all you leaf lovers out there.

Oh, and a special congratulations to my dear friend Michel and his daughter Anne! She received her Ph.D in neuroscience yesterday! I had the great fortune of meeting Anne on a trip to Nantes a few years ago. We consider Michel part of our family and that makes Anne family, right along with Gwenn, Brieg and Charles. I also know Michel is so proud of her as well he should be. I'm proud of her, too! Well done! C'est Magnifique!

(Photo: Michel and Susie in Central Park, Oct. 2006.)

20 September 2007

"Feast of Love", "Maiden Voyage" and, Word on the Street is that "I'm Back!"

[Note to Michel: Thank you for the sweet remark in the guestbook. You've been an indelible "part of the story" for over ten years. It's my most sincere wish that you'll always be "part of the story".]

"...they all intertwine into one remarkable story in which no one can escape being bent, broken, befuddled, delighted and ultimately redeemed by love's inescapable spell."

Sounds like a "don't miss" to me. Even though it's a work of fiction, most of us are pretty familiar with the mechanics of it all and have experienced some, if not all, at one time or another in our life. Hey, sometimes in the tiny span of a month or two!

am dying to see this movie. Ok, I do love Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear and this movie sounds like a messy relationship - several messy relationships - and what a great time to watch someone else in the middle of it? So yes, I want to see this movie! I WILL see this movie. I checked the previews and found no mention of "pirates"; this informs me that it's safe to go back to the cinema. Whew!

I know, I know what you're thinking: Chick Flick! Oh get over yourselves :-) You guys really like movies like this, you just have to pretend that you don't. Leave a comment and tell me if you plan on checking this film out - if you have checked it out, leave me another comment and share with us (me and my posse readers) what your impressions were.

Let's see...in other news.

I lost my sunglasses on Wrightsville Beach Sunday Evening during a lovely bike ride. I felt so naked without them! I felt like I was missing a limb walking around without them! I went to Visionworks on Tuesday, ordered another pair with the same prescription and they came in yesterday. I'm back in business. The frames are slightly different but my gosh it's good to have sunglasses again.

Yesterday I also talked with my friend Billie, who took Katie, Justin, Stephanie and me to the Outer Banks in May of this year, the week before I flew to Marsh Harbor. He'd been having some disturbing eye problems that I personally attributed to his trip last year to Romania and the Black Sea and his enjoying the scenery of the beach goers in the region of the world where hanging out at the beach is a topless affair for both males and females. Apparently, after a CAT Scan, MRI, angiogram and several other tests, the doctors he visited in Florida agreed with me. The diagnosis being that one eye was stronger than the other which accounts for his occasionally seeing "double". Nothing life-threatening thank God! (Photo: Billie and me on the trip home from the Outer Banks. That's Katie peeking over Billie's head.)

This was good news for all of us. I'm sure it was a relief to him, especially given that he turned the big "50" last Tuesday (sorry Billie, you knew I was going to mention that). Plus, I no longer have to be extra nice to him in case his disturbed vision was something gravely serious. What a relief! :-) I can only be so nice! Seriously, I'm so relieved he got the "all clear" though I cautioned him that, at his age, he needed to stay away from European beaches for the near future. I'm sure my good advice fell on deaf ears, just like he told me back in May I was crazy for going sailing with Captain Ron in international waters.

He said something interesting during our chat, a comment echoed by two other people yesterday. "Susie, you're back! My smart ass friend is back in business!". I didn't realize how "gone" I'd really been, but I guess I must have been and maybe it took awhile for all of my components to return. I do feel much more settled now and yesterday marked one whole month of a return to sanity, or at least my brand of it. How fitting.

Did you know that yesterday (19 September) was "Talk Like A Pirate Day"? Well, it was! I personally didn't observe it, but I saw several references to it on the Internet. I listened to a pirate for four months this year, thank you very much, and that was more than enough for me. I had to laugh though. Some people really do live in that "pirate" fantasy. It may sound all whimsical and fun but if you've ever rubbed elbows with someone pathologically in that mindset, it becomes chilling. I'm firm in my resolve to "Just say no!" to those with pirate leanings in the future. It's not a good gig.

I finished three books over the weekend, in between applying white enamel to the trim in my room. I'd started each of these books this past summer in Oriental so it was nice to see how those stories ended. "Adrift", "Maiden Voyage" and "Red Sky in Mourning" have been read to the final page. Great books - particularly the latter two.

I'd love to read more from Tania Aebi, the author of "Maiden Voyage", a young lady who circumnavigated at the age of 18 and finished her adventurous voyage in 2 1/2 years, meeting a whole cast of characters along the way including the man she would eventually marry. What was even more compelling about her book, was how her solo-circumnavigation changed her inside. It was a beautiful book and she writes in such a conversational way that you feel she is talking to you. I loved her style, her stories of each exotic landfall, how the trip helped her deal with things in her past with her family, and life in general. She wrote so eloquently of the fear she experienced during rough times alone at sea. In a very small way, I could relate to a lot of it.

This was a young lady who began her highly improbable goal of being the youngest person to circumnavigate single-handed with no solid knowledge of sailing so she learned a great deal through trial and error, storms and vast quantities of time spent with no other company but her cat onboard. She confronted personal demons, learned to rely on herself, on God, and grow into the person she was meant to be. I HIGHLY recommend it. It's one of those books that you feel sad to arrive at the final page. She felt the same way as she made the crossing from Gibraltar across the North Atlantic to arrive right back where she started, at South Street Seaport in NYC.

Tania left there a naive, untried 18 year old East Village barfly, aimless and with no solid plans for the future. She came back into her home port with a great deal more maturity, a seasoned sailor and so much wiser for having experienced all of the wisdom of her long trip, lessons imparted as she ticked off each nautical mile. I have more to say on "Maiden Voyage" at a later date. It had a huge impact on me, as did "Red Sky in Mourning". Yes, both books center around sailing, but so much of what I read in them easily transcended into the lessons and experiences of just living life. Even a life not spent on "those packets of miseries that we call ships.", as Kipling succinctly described them. It seems to me that whether we confront all kinds of storms, whether on a roiling sea or on terra firma, and it's not the storms that are nearly as important as how we learn to handle the chaos they deliver.

I visited my doctor this past Tuesday for my follow-up from the car wreck. Everything seemed to be in tip-top order, save my still accelerated pulse. Yes, part of my triple digit pulse rate had a little to do with simply being among "white coats", but it wasn't like that prior to this past summer. I've known my doctor for almost 7 years, and before this past May, my heart rate rarely spiked when I'd make my visit.

I explained what all had transpired in the weeks since August 10th, and he smiled sympathetically and nodded. He's good like that, very understanding and wise and then, he asked a question I had so hoped to avoid. "And how much caffeine are you drinking?". Ugh. It's hard to hedge on that one. I mean, the better question is when am I NOT drinking anything with caffeine? Yes, I smiled and reluctantly conceded, that might have something to do with it.

I talked to a friend later, who kindly forwarded me a news item he'd found on Yahoo news that very morning and, though I had seen it all before, I needed to revisit "the facts". I'm going to try drinking more decaf or, at the very least, half decaf/half caf, but as far as cutting back on tea, I don't see that happening.

Not to mention, my UK friend, Alistair, sent me another pound of "the good stuff" via Fed-Ex and gosh darn it, I love that Jasmine #12 by Adiago Teas. I mean, I can't resist iced jasmine tea. It's my own personal "nectar of the gods", it's my inspiration, my pleasure, my liquid dessert and it goes well with EVERYTHING. (Thank you Alistair - it was great seeing the Fed-Ex man again after a long summer absence!). (Photo: Me and Alistair during his visit to the US this past summer, having lunch at Courthouse Cafe.)

You know, what strikes me right between the eyes as I go about my day-to-day assimilation back into my life? My friends. Oh my dear, precious friends - the ones that Captain Crazy was so intent on my jettisoning so that all of my time, attention and mind could somehow become focused and transfixed on his life. I remember so many times when he would chide me for taking their calls through the summer, doggedly chastising me for my interaction with them. It always made me feel so sad to possibly imagine not having so many dear people in my life, once I made the final move to Raleigh. This past summer, "pirate boy" wanted me lock, stock and barrel and I nearly fell for it. I almost did and it makes me shudder when I consider what a profound and impossible to fill void the loss of Billie, Michel, Jimi, Mike S., Sue, Sharon, Sally, Amy, Jonathan, Alistair, Kathleen, Jim, and so many others. Not only that, to be told that I should stay away from Wilmington for at least a month after moving to Raleigh, even to the exclusion of my family - my dear, wonderful family who has been there for me through thick, thin and everything in between.

I look back on it now and I think, "why would I even consider such a suggestion? Why didn't I tell him - hey, you, Captain Crazy, you're the only deletion that should be made on my 'playlist'", but for whatever reason, I couldn't find a way to say it. The pressure continued through the summer and grew exponentially in the early days of August. When the engagement ring went on my finger, it might has well have been a noose around my neck. Of course, it would never have worked, not for long, but that I even allowed him to attempt to make these changes in my life is sheer insanity and can only speak to the pitiful insecurity of a horribly mixed-up man with more "issues" on his plate than I can count. No one who truly loves another person, in a healthy, positive way, would make such a wholly improper and lay down such a ridiculous dictum.

What is even more astounding, is how these people saw what was going on, felt the divide that was being created and yet, they still cared for me. Each of them have welcomed me "back home", back into the fold, held my hand as I stepped back into my life and allowed me to rejoin theirs. I am humbled by it and what I am most sorry for, is that I ever allowed this man to have the opportunity to say it more than once, because if I had acted as I should have, hearing his proclamation should have been all it took to eradicate his position and send him back to Raleigh, with his stupid guitar and tail tucked between his legs'. I am so filled with thankfulness that my friends arms have opened back up to me and that they have forgiven me for my temporary insanity. Real friends do that. I have so many real and amazing friends.

It's the same with my family. I was being pulled away from them as well, and I know they had to feel it and wonder, "Does she realize what he's doing?". But they supported me, they loved me, I'm sure they prayed and hoped for the best, but it was as if I was in the clutches of a dark, sinister, control-freak bent on total possession of me. That's not love - that's dictatorial and it's not the path to a healthy relationship. Every evening, I come back to the same overwhelming sense of sheer and utter gratitude for the people in my life. Where was my "voice", I wonder? I still can't account for it, but I have most definitely learned a great deal about "not so hidden agendas", and the strings they very often come attached with or, in the case of Captain Crazy - ropes disguised as lassos. I now know that any man who loves me, won't try and separate me from the best parts of my life and will, in fact, embrace the people who matter most to me.

But back to other items...

I am having a great time with my new (to me!) car. But yesterday, something odd happened. The rear passenger window, on the driver's side, went down all by itself and refused to go back up. Of course, this happened hours before the rain that we so desperately need arrived. Kathleen and I managed to manually force the window up, but I'm going to have to take the car into a "professional" and that just screams MONEY! I don't think the motor that drives the power window is burned out, and a few friends offered that the window may well be "out of the track". Oh well, hopefully it can be easily resolved with a minimum of $. Otherwise, it's a smooth ride and if a car can be fun to drive, and I've never been "into" cars, this car is like a team of horses with the desire to GALLOP! It's very smooth and even more powerful. I'm still learning what all the buttons do, mostly by simply pushing them and seeing what happens. I've never been one to shy away from pushing a few buttons, as those who know me well will readily attest.

I have three new books on deck to begin that I'm very excited about. More on that later. I think I have enough to keep me out of trouble. I am thankful that life has calmed down considerably, I've gotten my bearings, almost finished my room and life has settled down to a nice, manageable pace. I am feeling more like "me", the "me" I was prior to April 27th, and that's a good thing.

While my daughter is extolling the virtues and renewing her love affair with fall, I find myself lingering in the final days of summer. What a wild, crazy ride it was, but even a tumultuous summer is still summer and summer is the best part of the year in my book. I love the heat, the humidity, the flip-flops, going barefoot at every possible opportunity and warm, sultry nights tailor-made for stargazing. Yes, you can stargaze in the other three seasons, but it's just more comfortable on summer nights, laying back on sand warmed by bright sunshine.

I just spoke with Katie on the phone during our daily "What's Up?" phone conference and as she was making her way to her favorite lunch place, she interrupted herself in mid-sentence: "Pumpkins! Mom, the pumpkins are out! They're for sale!", she said with no small measure of excitement. She's such an autumn-loving girl. I'm sure she must have been switched at birth but, gosh I love her as if she were my own. :-) You can check out her "ode to fall" by clicking here: Sweet Tea in NYC. Leave her a message, particularly if you have any clues as to who her "real" mother is. I'm sure she'd appreciate the information.

And to my buddy Mike in Iraq, thank you so much for the encouragement, the wise advice, and the gentle way you listened to me "vent" my fears with regard to what is on my literary plate, and taking each of them, one-by-one, and breaking them down into manageable steps in a story that started years ago and continues to this day. Your guidance and compassion, even as you go about your work in a "high-alert" environment, meant the absolute world to me and gave me more strength than I can possibly express. No matter what time we chat, you're a bright light in my day and we'll all be happy when you finally return back home.

"Feast of Love"

Now don't forget, "Feast of Love" opens nationwide on 28 September. This will give you more than enough time to find yourself a friend, an uber-evolved male, or think about a guy or gal you've been dying to ask out and, if all else fails and no one's caught your fancy, just sneak your dog or cat in if you need to hold onto something. A paw will do in a pinch but watch out for the claws if you choose a cat. That way, you won't feel as if you don't have a date!

Oh, and if your "date" is of a four-legged variety, you are obligated to share the popcorn with your little friend. Hey, don't laugh about taking a pet as a date to a movie. I've been on dates when I would have much rather have been with one of my animals. I'm not even kidding about that! So pick a great guy or gal or borrow a pet. Just go SEE IT!

Then come home, log online and leave me a comment!

14 September 2007

The Cat's NOT Got My Tongue...

"When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future." ~ Bernard Meltzer

"Ain't that the Gospel!", as my daughter would say.

'm still working on that. I've been writing about it (privately) and it's been incredibly cathartic, but in addition to forgiving Captain H(ook) for the events of this past summer, I also have to forgive myself for being so completely naive and stupid! It's a process but one worth pursuing.

I'm keenly aware of the potential for my negative feelings toward the erstwhile captain to form into a resentment of mammoth proportions and, in the end, that will ultimately result in damage to me, more so than to anyone else so, one could say, it's a self-preservation pursuit, but one I am chipping my way through.

The difficulty comes not from missing the relationship. I mean, that would make as much sense as missing a tornado if you lived in Oklahoma or the people in Homestead, Florida pining for Andrew, days after he swept through town. It's not that kind of loss that challenges me. It's the fact that I steered into the path of that tornado in Oklahoma or hung out in South Florida, long after Hurricane Warnings had been broadcast. Not only should I have gotten out of town, but I should never have been in the vicinity of that "disaster waiting to happen" in the first place.

It was as if I was sailing a course for Bermuda and wound up rounding Cape Horn, which is a pretty treacherous parcel of ocean, and you really have to be "asleep at the helm" to veer that far off the chart, but that's almost exactly what happened. And, in the end, it truly was as if I stepped out of the companionway and walked to the fore deck expecting to see a beautiful beach in St. George's Harbour, only to discover I was sailing off the coast of "Cape Horn" and rather than seeing a swaying palm over turquoise water, I saw ice floes and "The March of the Penguins!" which was, in fact, a great movie, but not a place I would care to make landfall...er ice fall. (Check out the site, "March of the Penguins"...seriously it's a fantastic movie - I love Morgan Freeman's intro words, "In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way.") Sorry Morgan - love didn't find a way into this tale, but the conditions were harsh and growing worse with each passing day...

Perhaps in time, it will be revealed to me why my rational mind chose this summer to take an extended vacation, but until then, I grapple with it. If I come up with any reasonable answers, I'll be sure and enter that into the record but it may well be one of those weird phenomenon, courtesy of some ghastly and ill-fated alignment of the planets and maybe the moon was in some onerous state and possibly a brief but blustery El Nino crossed my horizon and, factor in a possible dip in caffeine consumption or dearth of chocolate and there you have it - a repeat performance of a mating ritual that was familiar and well-rehearsed, having been "tested" on other unsuspecting women on prior dates (with only limited, short-lived runs and/or success) - complete with the same soundtrack and "Saturday Night Fever" dance moves. (Yes, Glen, I know that alone would make a funny book!).

There is solid solace to be found however, even from the most grotesquely unadvised decisions and I have to remind myself of that as well. I think about how much I grew to love all that is sailing and then, as if on cue, Magellan will hop up on the back of my office chair and nuzzle me with his sweet kitten face. Or, I'll glance over and see the Bahamian flag that flew during my time in the Abacos and, if you discount that one day of sailing in a tiny, sail-shredding 60 knot wind for 12 hours through treacherous seas that you should never have been on in the FIRST FREAKING PLACE, the rest of the time the scenery was gorgeous and the water was simply beyond description, and those things remind me that even in some of the most insanity-ridden periods of our lives, good things still fly, pounce and sometimes the "sea"nery, even in the presence of the strangest among us, can take our breath away. I witnessed many a sunrise and sunset, alone in the cockpit, taking it all in as that little sailboat plied through the waters.

I even managed to meet new friends who remind me that "everything happens for a reason" and it may not all be due to a gross error in judgment. I take a lot of comfort in that fact, alone. It's the one thing that makes a modicum of sense out of a great wellspring of nonsense. So much nonsense. Geez...LOUISE! (Not to be confused with the Bonnie Raitt gosh-awful song, "Goodnight Louise" The Captain tried to cover it, but the results were not well-received.)

Onto happier topics and, save for a brief bout of food poisoning this past week, I have to say that things are looking blessedly up and a few events have been genuinely wonderful. In between the abdomen-crushing pain of eating questionable salad and/or dressing, the likes of which I haven't felt since Justin made his presence known after 36 hours of labor, life has been on the upswing.

Last Saturday Night, I was invited by a friend for a dinner cruise on the Cape Fear aboard the lovely "Henrietta". It was a three-hour tour, but fortunately the skipper knew what he was doing and we didn't land on a deserted island. It was a warm, late summer night. My friend and I dined on chicken and pork barbecue and, knowledgeable fellow that he was, he was pointing out all manner of wildlife hiding in the reeds along the river. For a few moments, I regretted having uncharacteristically leaving home without my camera.

"There's a kingfisher, see it?"

I did.

"Are those geese?", I asked.

"No, those are cormorants, I think.", he answered.


And then we both spotted something streaking by the beautiful riverboat that neither of us, and I'm willing to bet that many of our fellow cruisers, had never witnessed before and certainly didn't expect.

The "wildlife" announced themselves with the sound of a distant humming, similar to the noise a small "John boat" motor might emit, growing louder as it closed the distance: There before us, in the golden light of a setting sun, along the mysterious and winding, black water Cape Fear River, what turned out to sound similar to a "John Boat" was, in fact, said boat, carrying three, genuine, homegrown southern redneck males. Even though the phase of the moon, according to the "Current Moon Phase" widget on my blog , was reported to be at about 3% of full last Saturday Night, I can testify that the moon grew full as the middle redneck was situated in a pose familiar and natural to this particular species; his head deep into a beer cooler, trousers dropped, on full display to all of us on the East facing side of the river.

For a few moments, only the humming of the boat's small motor and the inane cackling of it's trio of troglodytes was apparent and then, as those of us in viewing range quickly collected our thoughts and determined what it was we were seeing, came a collective and audible "gasp".

My first thought was, "Thank God I forgot my camera."

Yes, nature was abundant on the seaward bound currents of the old river. My friend and I exchanged glances, as if needing to confirm that we weren't having an ill-timed and nasty hallucination and then we did the only thing that made sense at such an unexpected and distasteful sight: we just burst out laughing. I mean, what else could we do?? There was really nothing much to say other than, "I don't believe I just saw that...". I certainly wasn't drinking and I didn't think anyone had spiked the food and, other than trying to quickly erase the "vision" from my mental hard drive, I felt fine.

It only reconfirmed for me what I imagined when sailing in the rough waters of the Abacos Sea, with waves pitching in every direction...I must really have a cast-iron stomach.

I searched the sky, the shoreline of the river, my fellow passengers, my friend, my plate and even into the depths of my glass of iced tea - anything and everything, in a desperate and focused attempt to replace that image with something, anything else.

Other than that, it was a perfectly lovely evening, and certainly one I won't soon forget, rife with such wildlife sightings as it was. I wonder if that's what one self-published "writer" was talking about as he spoke of the "cloudless skies, moonlit nights and the rejuvenating power of the wilderness experience"?

Thanks, I think I'll pass.

That was more than enough wildlife for this city-slicker.

And then, perhaps by some sort of delayed transmission, I ate a salad Tuesday Evening for dinner, and within 30 minutes, wondered if I might be in labor. I don't think it had anything directly to do with "the creature from the Cape Fear" on Saturday Night, but who knows? I might have been repressing it to such a degree that the pain that I attributed to a salad on Tuesday, may well have been a latent side-effect of "rednecks in the raw". I may never really know.

I am "OFFICIALLY" back on the road again and trying to rein in the power of this new (to me!) Lincoln LS. I'm not accustomed to 8 cylinders and God knows my mind isn't always operating on all it's cylinders, but I'm slowly getting adjusted and as grateful as I am to be driving this new ride, I never get in the car that I don't remember, even for a few precious seconds, how incredibly thankful I am that I got through my car wreck on the tenth of August with only a few bruises and scratches and I stop and give thanks for the PT Cruiser that protected me through that knock-down, spin around. That PT Cruiser was a sturdy little car and it may not look as "cool" as the Lincoln that replaced it, but I'll always have a special spot for it in my heart. However, to be honest, this Lincoln is fun to drive...it's insanely fun. I'm still trying to figure out what all the buttons do.

And then, before I place the key in the ignition, I stop and give thanks for one more thing: That I'm not facing yet another trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. Not that there's anything wrong with Raleigh and there are many fine people who call it home. I met several of them during my trips "up north", but I'm afraid until the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce (I'm sure they have one, right? :-) finds a way to install an ocean, complete with tides, wave action and miles of pristine sandy beaches, well, it's just no Wilmington, North Carolina. That's not to say I wouldn't drive up "there" to pick Katie and John up from the airport, cruise up to catch James Taylor in concert at Walnut Creek or visit my friend Nina in Cary, though I think she would have so much more fun at one of our waterfront restaurants which means I'll lobby her to take a walk on the "south side".

When I made my last trip home from the small townhouse in North Raleigh way back on August 8th (and this was in the PT Cruiser), I checked my rear view mirror and, lo and behold, Raleigh was in it. I even checked both side mirrors to confirm my sighting and yes, Raleigh was in those as well. Wilmington is home and I'm just so deliciously pleased about that. I adore this town and so much the more from having been away from it so much this summer. I feel its embrace like a dear, old friend.

Hey, that's a lot to be grateful for, in my book.

Speaking of wonderful, as I was walking up the stairs this morning with my thermos of coffee, headed for my office and ready to fire up the computer, I was greeted by a trio of friends waiting for me at the head of the stairs. I'd like to think they were there solely for the purpose of welcoming me to a new day but I have to be honest - I know what it was about. Kitten Food. Syl, Cassie, Princess and yes, Magellan, are all hooked on Nutro Max Natural Kitten food. Now, Syl and Princess are 15 plus years and can hardly be described as "kittens" and Cassie is a 60 lb. dog, so by all rights, this is Magellan's dish, but how can I say no to these faces? They stand in line very politely, waiting for their turn at the bowl. They look up at me with heart-melting, doe-like eyes. They feign adoration for me, but I know it's all about the "pink bag"

Speaking of Magellan, not only has he not blogged lately (I've heard complaints about this from as faraway as Iraq!), but there have been a couple of behaviors we've seen from him that we're watching closely with no small measure of concern. Even though he had scant exposure to his adoptive "father", he's been exhibiting mannerisms that are clearly the result of even limited exposure from his brief time in Raleigh. Now, we're not prepared to call in a therapist quite yet - we're "monitoring" the situation, but clearly, he's got some of his Dad in him and I've been told by an animal therapist to "document" him when I catch him, "in the act". It's disturbing, no question, but I just keep hoping it's similar to when Justin had asthma as a little boy and we were told he would "outgrow" it. Justin did, so that gives us something to hold onto where Magellan is concerned but, then again, there's the "Katie Chronicles".

Katie was always the "boss", always assumed the role of leader - in fact, at NASA Space Camp for two summers in a row, she assumed the role of Shuttle Commander for both missions. I asked the doctor about this and he said, "Oh Susie, she'll outgrow the need to boss people around...".

Well, guess what? She did not!
She STILL takes charge. I have no doubt if she were recruited to work at Mission Control in Houston, she'd nudge whoever the Head of Mission Control happens to be, out of his/her chair and send him/her out for coffee (no sugar, only cream!).

So, no, obviously, kids don't always outgrow these worrisome behavior traits, but it's still early in the game for Magellan, and we're just hoping for the best. If he starts applying to law schools or begins writing fiction, we're going to have to formulate a game plan with a reputable feline therapist and, in the words of the immortal Barney Fife, "NIP IT IN THE BUD!".

In the meantime, the animals are getting along in perfect, blended-family style and everyone seems to be very accepting of each other...well, except for Princess. She hisses if Magellan walks within three feet of her, but she's all hiss and no bite. Magellan doesn't seem to pay any attention to it whatsoever. I don't see that changing and, most probably, they won't exchange gifts at Christmas, but there's always one in every family who just has to be difficult and I guess Princess assumes that role. Otherwise, these step-siblings are getting along famously - in a friendly, frisky co-existence. You'd never guess that (most of them) weren't litter-mates, if you were to observe them as they go about their days and nights. I love 'em all!

I am aware, from having had two African Grey Parrots, that some animals prefer to perch themselves higher than anyone else in the room - as it gives them a feeling of superiority. Again, this is a common behavior with Magellan (and many, but not all, attorneys). Typically when I'm on the computer, he is "perched" along the top of my chair. I'm not sure if he's trying to read what I'm writing or just waiting for his chance to surf the 'net when I leave the room and he wants to be the first in queue. But I get the distinct feeling that he's assumed the role of my "in-house" editor.

Admittedly, since the creation of his own blog, though he's loathe to update it, he's taken on the aspect of being a "tech-cat". How this plays out when I'm not here, I can't really say. Since no damage to my system has been observed, I'm not going to make a "big deal" of it, but I get the idea that he's under the impression that I'm using "his" chair and that this desk, affectionately known as "Central Command" is now his domain. True, he's a fiery red-head and that may well have something to do with this aspect of his personality, but if I start receiving a monthly statement for "Internet Usage", we're going to have to have a sit-down talk and, well, it's not lost on me - he has retractable claws and he knows how to use them. I hope it doesn't come down to a bloodletting, because I have an idea it will be my O-Positive blood that gets "spilled".

On the bedroom front, I finished painting the shutters, the drawers, and yes, I even installed a bookshelf! Photos to be posted soon! I also redid the loft and it looks warm, cozy and inviting. I've made my peace with the coming of cooler weather and if it has to be, at least I'll have a welcoming spot to read books and think not-so-deep thoughts. I'll post photos of that as well, but I felt with the animal pictures on this entry, readers would be on "cute-overload" and these animals are so saccharine to view that I can't be held responsible for any acute outbreaks of diabetes. You look - you take your chances.

Until next time...

Oh, and if you've read this far, please sign my guest book! It's really not that difficult.