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Elmlane

Fred's Views


Here Comes Summer?

If you have been visiting this site, you have no doubt noted that I have become somewhat lax in the last few weeks and failed to post any new articles. In truth, the "muse" has not been upon me. There have also been several incidents in my life that have affected my productivity.

As I write this, I am all but retired, having just two days or two weeks to go (I'm only scheduled to work on the last two Fridays of the month). Don't tell my employers, but it seems I actually get more done while "working" than when not. Of course, having my handy-dandy notebook computer with me assures that no slack time gets wasted. At home, even after some fifteen - plus years and two different computer platforms, I still get drawn into the "stupid" game of Empire (now Empire Deluxe). I play a very easy game with all the advantages in my favor and I usually manage to win in around 100 turns. That still takes about two hours. If I were to play a "normal" game, it could take hundreds of turns and consume numerous hours. Unlike most modern games, the rules are simple and straight-forward and the graphics are barely adequate for identifying the various elements, but at least they don't interfere with the game play. (Because Empire requires the use of the number pad to control movement - and because it is finicky about what operating system version it runs on, it won't work on my notebook. Consequently, when I have only my notebook, more work gets done.)

My wife has also been keeping me busy helping her prepare and plant the gardens. She also had me build an octagonal picnic table (without seats - we're using the plastic(resin) lawn chairs). We made it out of cedar and put about four coats of wood protectorate on it. It does look rather good, but when you figure in the cost of materials (over $100) and the two or so days I took building it, it's easy to wonder if it is all worth it. Still, what else have I to do now that I'm retired, right? Yeah.

Actually, I'm not retired, retired. I've just ended one career. I'm ready to start another. Only this time, I want to do what I WANT to do - at least until the money runs out. So, I'm looking for a project that involves computers, web sites, photography or goofing off. Those are my strong points, in no particular order. Or maybe cooking.

It's time to mention that we recently had a death in the family. As I have mentioned in some other article(s), we have had two dogs as pets. They were bichon/poodle crosses, and they had been part of our family for about nine years. Last month, my dog, Brandi, did not look well. (She had had a skin condition and suffered from arthritis, but both seemed to be under control.) We took her to the vets. They told us they would need to perform some tests to find out what was going on, but suggested that she should stay overnight. A few hours later the vet called and said it looked like Brandi's immune system was fighting itself and that she should be taken to the Veterinarian's hospital at the University of Guelph. So, we went down to the vet's, picked Brandi up and took her to Guelph (all in all at least an hour's drive). At that point, we owed the vet about $300 for the care she had received so far, and we were committed to at least $1,000 at the hospital. To make a long and painful story short, Brandi at first rallied, but then suffered complications and we were forced to put her down. Her chances of survival were minimal and the time she would have to spend to recuperate if she did overcome the illness made it financially impossible. All in all, it cost us about $3,000. But, what can you do when a member of the family gets ill? Particularly when you don't know, going in, just how good her chances are going to be, or not be.

There is some controversy about where dogs go when they die. (There is, of course, some controversy over what happens to us!) Some animals (and perhaps some humans) may not be much missed when they pass, but others affect our lives and show such depths of personality that it is almost impossible to contemplate that their spirit, their essence, disappears with death. So it is with Brandi. She and her sister were from the same litter, but could hardly be less alike. They shared a white coat of soft comforting fur, and, when they were freshly groomed, could sometimes be difficult to tell apart, but otherwise, they were distinctly different. Brandi had long spindly legs and towered above her sister. In fact, her sister could walk under her. Brandi walked with a smooth, fluid motion, while Amber resembled a robot with short, jerky movements. Brandi hated to be alone. The first Christmas I was home preparing Christmas goodies, but Brandi demanded my attention. Finally, I put her in a backpack and carried her around as I worked. She was perfectly content. If I laid down on the couch, she would jump up and lay down beside me. The same when I went to bed. If she got warm, she would eventually get up and move to the end of the couch or bed. But, if I asked her to return, she always would. She would put up with just about anything I did. I could hold her in any position, I could balance her in one hand, or I could tease her unmercifully. She loved it. She was shy and wary of strangers. She avoided "trouble", but, if trouble forced itself upon her, she was prepared to stand up for herself. She didn't like having her picture taken. I suppose it was the flash that bothered her.

She is missed more than any other pet we have ever had. But life must go on.

Amber is still doing well. But she has changed. Once fiercely independent, she now seeks attention. She and Brandi used to love to play ball - but only with a golf ball. Brandi was almost always the dominant one, commanding the ball and returning it (or, more often, not returning it) to me. Now Amber wants to play ball more than ever. And in just a few weeks, she has changed significantly. At first she simply chased and caught the ball, then left it where she found it. Then she started to bring it back a short distance. Now, she will usually bring it within three feet of you. If she doesn't, or doesn't quite get it within arm's reach, if you wait long enough, she will return it, or nudge it in your direction with her nose, a trait that Brandi had perfected when the mood struck her. Amber seeks out your company much more than she used to. And I'm told, if she is left alone, she will howl and carry on until either you return, or some other member of the household "wakes up" and comforts her. Obviously, she misses her sister's company. But it also almost seems as if she's trying to fill her sister's shoes as well.

If there is an afterlife for dogs, Brandi is surely there, and most deservedly.

I'm not sure how often this column will appear during the summer, but I'll try to have something new at least once every two weeks. You may have noticed that we now have virtual servers for two more of our domains. At the moment, if you type in either www.fodoweb.com or www.pic365.com directly into your browser's address/location bar, you'll get a message about the new location for these sites, and then you'll be forwarded to the old(current) site. It may well be fall before these new locations are fully up and running. These additions, however, now give us 350 megabytes of storage for our content. Should keep us busy for a few months.

I hope you have a pleasant and happy summer. I hope our summer weather will be warmer and more consistent than spring has been so far. Please, when you get the chance, come back and see us. We do appreciate your visits.

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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