Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I’ve gone back to making my vacation lists, but I’m worried that after all this time, I may have lost the knack for it. You wouldn’t normally think such a thing could happen, but then, this is me we’re talking about.

I don’t usually let the teasing and chiding of family and friends get to me. It mostly doesn’t faze me, what other people think of me. But for some reason I took exception to the high hilarity with which my family discussed my vacation list-making.

They showed they were related to a creative person by some of the very original lines they came up with. For example, “if you put on your Tuesday underwear on Sunday, does that screw up your whole week?” Another was, “if you’re standing on the deck of the ship reading your list and a gust of wind blows your list away, can you still get dressed?”

So for that and other reasons—primarily, being way too busy—I stopped making lists. I should have known better, because every vacation I’ve gone on where I haven’t made a list, I’ve forgotten something.

So I began to make a list for this vacation, but now I’m in a quandary because it kind of looks as if the vacation might start before the list is complete.

We set sail on Saturday for a 7 day cruise from New York to Florida and The Bahamas. This will be our fourth cruise. The last one we took was in 2005. That one also left New York, but went to Bermuda, and lasted ten days.

It was my turn to pick a vacation destination, and I have to admit a fondness for cruises. There really isn’t anything about the experience I don’t care for except, perhaps, the outrageous amount they want to charge for Internet access. My family tells me I can afford to pay the price, and yes, I can, but I simply refuse to.

Therefore, for only the second time since I began these weekly essays five years ago next month, I will not be posting Wednesday’s Words next week. I’ve been chided that I won’t be able to go an entire week without the Internet. If I find myself in need of a fix I might spend a half hour at the Internet Cafe. For a one shot deal, I might be able to stomach the cost. But between you and me, I know I’m made of sterner stuff. We’ll have to see.

My beloved also loves cruising. He believes he was a pirate in a previous life. One difference for this cruise, from the last: every other cruise we’ve taken has actually been in hurricane season—as is this one—and in times past DH has always hoped we’d get one. A hurricane, that is. Yes, I know your eyes are widening in horror, mine too, but we all have our little quirks and idiosyncrasies, don’t we?
He sort of had his wish granted last time, as we sailed behind hurricane Ophelia on the return voyage to New York from Bermuda in 2005. (It’s kind of weird that there was a hurricane by that same name this year, don’t you think?)

Anyway, there my beloved sat, on the bow deck—literally on the deck, because the seas were too rough to stand for long—in the company of a hand full of other brain affected men—as the ship drove forward, down into the water troughs and the waves shot many feet above them...

He really enjoyed that, but he’s a few years older, now. Also, on the last voyage, he did have a bit of motion sickness (on the calmer seas, if you can imagine). So this year, he is actively hoping there will be no big storms along our path.

I’m looking forward to our Florida stop, because I get to visit and spend time with one of my best friends, fellow author, the lovely and talented Miss Lara Santiago.
I’m also anticipating quiet moments on our own small, personal balcony, as the ocean itself tends to rejuvenate me. I know some of my readers—one in particular—is going to be jealous, and I apologize. He’s a seafaring man, who’s been landlocked for the last few years. I think it’s always hard, and beyond unfair, that we sometimes reach a point that we can no longer do that which we love most to do.

And while I won’t be online next week, I will be writing—because that’s what I love most to do, and I plan to keep doing it until I can no longer draw breath.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For the last several months, I’ve been trying to talk Mr. Ashbury into investing in a new television. Ours still worked most of the time, but it was more than 10 years old, and was beginning to have intermittent “issues”.

I honestly didn’t think it would take me as long as it did to win him over to the idea. That it did, surprised me because I knew he really wanted a new entertainment system. I thought at first he was only offering me token resistance.

As for myself, it didn’t really matter. My only concern was that our television didn’t die causing me to miss one of my three or four weekly one hour shows.

I see you shaking your heads. That’s all right, I don’t mind at all. Now you all know that not only doesn’t Morgan go to the movies or watch movies on DVD, she doesn’t watch much TV, either.

I’d much rather write, or read.

But my beloved truly enjoys his television time. He spends hours watching the various ‘Discovery’ channels, as well as the Military channel, numerous news shows, as well as several different drama series. I wanted him to have a really good device on which to enjoy his down time. After all, what’s the sense in working hard all your life if you can’t finally benefit from the fruits of your labor?

I knew something else had to be at work here. I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to understand the underlying issue at the bottom of his reluctance to get a new television. It wasn’t the money, and it wasn’t that the old TV still worked.
It was the technology.

Over the course of the last ten years, televisions evolved from being the “boob tube” that we grew up with, into being technological marvels with many and varied options and functions.

We’re both older than we used to be, and neither of us learns things—technical things—especially quickly. So the truth was, my beloved wanted to buy a new entertainment system, but was hesitant because he didn’t understand them.
Our daughter is a help in this area, and so is our son. They’re both in their thirties (where it seemed we were not that very long ago) and a little savvier when it comes to electronics—though our son admits that his kids, who are nearing their 20s, understand the new and the latest better than he does.

Timing, of course, is everything. A couple of weeks ago, a local chain store that deals specifically in electronics featured a promotion sponsored by Samsung. And so it was that my beloved and our daughter headed off to see what kind of a ‘deal’ could be made.

They were clever, going to the different suppliers in town, showing them the promo ad, and asking them if they could surpass it. A couple of the larger named retailers tried. But in the end, my little bargain hunters settled on going to the store that ran the ad—and were rewarded by an unexpected perk.

It seemed that while the chain’s head office had issued the flyer and authorized the promotion, not all stores had in stock the model of Samsung TV featured in the ad.

So my beloved ended up with an “up-graded” package—for just one hundred dollars more, he got a TV worth several hundred more than the one featured. He was happy because the one he got was actually the one on display at the store—the very one that he’d watched, and liked, and yearned for.

And so it came to pass that the Ashbury family now has a 3D LED monster (55 inch as opposed to the former 35 inch) TV in their rather modest living room. The controller for this behemoth has a keyboard on the other side of it! The package included a Blue Ray DVD player, Surround Sound, a lovely glass stand to set it all on, and 2 pairs of 3D glasses with which to watch the complimentary set of 4 Shrek movies. It also came with a Skype TV camera, which we are giving to our oldest son.

My beloved is mastering the controls faster than he thought he would, and is a very happy man.

And me, you ask? Well, I do know how to turn it on, and turn it off. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to do even more.

Probably just in time for summer re-runs.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It’s been two months since we returned from vacation to discover that we’d been claimed by another cat.

You’ll recall that we named this cat “Spooky” because that sounded better than “Creepy”—and because, quite frankly, the entire circumstances of her arrival, and her behaviour were more than a little of both.

I have been unable to discover any previous owner for this lovely black feline. I’m beginning to think my daughter is right. She believes that whoever owned the cat had been an elderly woman who had been moved into a care facility (Spooky isn’t as comfortable around men, you see). Jennifer tells me that some relatives calm “granny” by assuring her that her beloved kitty went to a good home, when in fact they simply either just abandon it on the spot, or dump it out in the country somewhere.

Spooky is not the first homeless animal the Good Lord has directed our way, and something tells me she probably won’t be the last.

In the next couple of weeks we’ll make an appointment with the vet, and have her examined, just to be certain she’s healthy. However, this was no scruffy alley cat that came our way. She wasn’t obviously suffering from hunger, neither was her fur unkempt looking.

But even without the veterinarian’s exam, there are some things I already know about this new familiar of mine.

As I may have told you, she’d been declawed (front claws only), and, we think, neutered. She was more used to women than men, and more used to adults than children. She’d cottoned to my daughter until I got home. I only had to pet her once, and she decided I was hers.

She’s not a young cat. I think she sleeps probably 16 to 18 hours a day, and she has no interest in playing. This tells me she’s more than middle aged. Our Booty kitty began to follow that pattern of behaviour when he was around nine or ten years old.
Spooky clearly is more accustomed to a quieter environment than the one offered here. Just by her mannerisms you can tell that she’s having a bit of difficulty adjusting to the comings and goings in this house. On top of that, just when she was getting used to the way things were, we re-arranged the kitchen, the office, and got a new TV—which I’ll tell you about next week.

Spooky appears to never have been given the opportunity to develop social skills as they apply to other animals. She doesn’t like that we have a dog, but seems to be adapting to the beast. On Sunday last, the dog wandered into the bathroom. Spooky followed and plopped her furry butt down right in front of the open door. Our poor dog—who out-weighs the cat at a ratio of at least 20 to 1—whined and cried until his daddy came and removed the furry predator from blocking his egress.

Our late Crashy kitty tormented the dog from time to time, and so the dog just assumes this cat will, too. Personally, I’m not telling him about her having been declawed.

There is one thing Spooky appears to hate even more than the dog, and that’s the occasional incursion of the MoJo kitty.

MoJo was the kitten my daughter got that caused her dear Crashy kitty to claim alienation of affection and move to granny’s (that’s here). MoJo has turned out to be quite the little con artist. He’s been visiting me off and on since he was old enough to find his way the two and a half city blocks from my daughter’s to here.
Now, however, he apparently has another house in the neighbourhood, and no longer goes back to my daughter’s (in his defence she did get two more kittens when he was young, and while they all got along at the time, they no longer do). He’s only here and at this other home—where, actually, he likely spends most of his time. We only see him once, maybe twice a week. He comes, eats, and goes, arriving and leaving at will, through the kitty window.

I know one more thing about Spooky that I can share with you at this time. She’s a very, very smart feline. She’s taken to sleeping in a highly conspicuous spot—on the shelf beneath the kitty window, thereby effectively blocking ingress for any itinerant cats, in general, and the MoJo, in particular.

If you go to my blog, listed below, you can see a picture of Spooky, taken while she was in one of her favorite places.