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...

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