Sunday, April 30, 2006

Play Ball!

April 30, 2006

What a coincidence that my friend Rashmi would get free tickets to an Orioles game for a day that the Mariners were in town. And what better luck than to have the perfect spring day for the game yesterday. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky the entire day. It was baseball weather.

Baltimore is about a 20-minute drive from my home. We went down and found parking near the convention center. Ten dollars. I was in reverse sticker-shock! Just $10 for all-day event parking? If we were in Seattle, parking that close to the stadium would start at $25 or 30 (and I don’t even want to venture a guess for the same in Manhattan).

We walked down Pratt Street and over to the famous Inner Harbor – Baltimore’s main tourist attraction. Visiting the harbor has been on my to-do list for weeks. The cool thing about going there with Rashmi is that she was raised in Maryland, so she makes a great tour guide. One interesting fact she pointed out was that the first casualties of the Civil War occurred right there on Pratt Street.

The harbor walk was packed with people walking around, renting paddleboats, taking harbor cruises, walking aboard the tall ships, and visiting the aquarium. We ate a delicious seafood lunch and then walked and shopped until game time. The views from Federal Hill Park were great.

I hadn’t been to a baseball game since my friend Tom used to take me to M’s games at Safeco field in Seattle. I learned a lot about baseball from Tom in 2001-2002 (when the Mariners were top of their league), and came to love the game. Very few people wore M’s caps or shirts at Oriole Park at Camden Yards yesterday, but I was one of them. Another cool thing about Rashmi is that she knows baseball. And she enjoys it as much as I do.

When we got to the gate, Rashmi handed me my ticket. I took one look, saw the five-dollar price tag and laughed out loud. Neither of us could believe how cheap the seats were. (If you were familiar with the company Real Interface that gave her the tickets, you'd understand.) Rashmi noted that one ticket was less than the price of parking! What can I say, I’m a cheap date. Granted, they were nose-bleed seats, but for that price I expected bleachers, not actual seats. The seats were actually pretty good. Behind home plate and slightly over on the 3rd base line side. Our view was excellent. We were almost able to call balls and strikes ourselves.

By the way, you young single men out there: Rashmi is single. Late 20’s, college degree from Boston, owns her own home, works at the F.B. I., and is something of a technology geek (but you wouldn’t know it unless you sat in the same office with her). She’s super-bright and has a warm, generous personality (and great sense of humor) to go with it. You couldn’t ask for a better friend. Oh, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone.

So that’s my plug for Rashmi (a.k.a. Tech Writer Girl). :)

Anyway, it was a weird feeling being in the opposing team’s stadium. When the 34,000 fans there cheered the O’s, I felt out of my element. And I was disappointed in the M’s. First of all, it wasn't the same Mariners team that I used to know. I didn't recognize most of the players. And the majority of them were named Jose, Luis, Ramon, Hernandez, Lopez, or Gonzales.

My Mariners did nothing for the first five innings – one hit, and that was it – while the O’s racked up runs. As soon as I got out of my seat and went to use the restroom in the 6th inning, the tables turned, and the Mariners started scoring runs right and left. I should've left my seat sooner! I missed out on Ichiro stealing a base or two and getting a run. By the time I got back to my seat, the score had gone from 4-0 to 4-3. And the O’s fans were not happy.

Every time a Mariner scored, the fans booed. I found this to be in very poor taste. Of course, by the 7th inning most fans are drunk, but that’s really no excuse for poor sportsmanship. And some 11-year old kid a few rows up behind us screamed his annoying head off the entire time. I kept thinking, “Where is his mother?” Combined with boo-ing fans, and rude fans in front of us who spent more time standing than sitting (because they kept getting up for beers and bathroom breaks), I am not sure I’m inclined to become an Orioles fan after all. We’ll see.

In any case, the M’s won 8-6! It was an exciting finale, as the closing pitcher for the Mariners kept loading up the bases, keeping me on the edge of my seat. He finally struck out the batter, and the game was over. Whew.

Baltimore is a neat city. I definitely want to go back and do some more exploring.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


April 25, 2006

Well, the kitties are still separated. I must say, I’m proud of my Martin. He’s gotten much better about this new kitty in the house business. His recovery time after seeing, hearing, or otherwise sensing Little Miss Madison is much quicker now than during the bathtub ordeal.

Last Wednesday was the two-week mark, and Martin and I were in the kitchen. I was fixing dinner. Miss Madison had finally started displaying some real fear of the other, bigger cat - (all an illusion, trust me) – and wasn’t coming out of her room. So I left the door cracked and kept an eye on the stairwell in case she changed her mind.

My back was turned mere moments when I heard a scuffle and some loud screeches on the other side of the kitchen island. Madison had snuck in and pounced Martin! Both were surprised, I’m sure. Next thing you know, he’s running for his life down the stairs, and she’s pounding after him. I chased after and found him in a corner under a table hissing at her in the basement. I immediately took her to her room for a time out.

I was surprised at how quickly Martin recovered that time. I thought I’d never see him upstairs again. But he was wandering around in no time, being extremely stealthy when approaching the top level (where her bedroom is). He’s been good that way ever since.

So, as of a few days ago, now I leave her bedroom door opened an inch or two at all times. I have a door stop and large rubber band keeping her from opening it. Martin will carefully peer in there from a distance, never going too close.

I let several days pass before I tried another introduction. Tonight Martin was sleeping in “his” swivel chair in the living room on the middle level of my townhouse. I let Madison out. Slowly she ventured downstairs, keeping an eye out for the big ‘fraidy cat that Martin is. She went around and around the room a few times, never noticing him in the chair. I stayed between them. Finally she spotted him and hissed. He hissed back. I turned the swivel chair so they couldn’t see one another and removed Miss Madison to the stairwell. She thought about it for a minute and decided to go back to the safety of her room.

I consider that the first quasi-successful intro between the two. No major fight broke out, and I praised them both profusely.

Tomorrow will be three weeks. Slowly, but surely, I plan to make this work! My boy needs a girlfriend. (Or maybe, like me, he knows he’s better off without any complicated male-female relationship in his life.) We’ll see.

Ceiling fan is hung, and just in the nick of time. It’s warming up here in Maryland.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Reunited with Mona

April 22, 2006

Wow – hard to believe that April has nearly come and gone. It’s raining today, so I’m spending the weekend indoors, doing more home chores. I have to hang a ceiling fan in my bedroom and several IKEA shelves in the other two bedrooms. I’m finally getting settled in. All of the boxes have been unpacked, broken down, and recycled. I even came across some items from storage that I had been afraid were lost forever - the most important of those being Mona.

When I moved from Bellevue, WA, to Manhattan in late 2004, I had to box up of a number of things for storage. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fit it all in a New York apartment. The problem is, after I moved, I couldn’t necessarily remember what had been stored. When something came up “missing” in my life – I didn’t know if the movers had lost it, or if it had ended up in storage.

Mona was one of those items. Mona was a gift from my sister-in-law Judy and brother Dave a couple Christmases ago. 2003, I think. I adore her. She's my Martini-drinking, cigarette-smoking, slutty-dressed alter ego. Since I don't drink or smoke any more (or wear slutty outfits), she does it for me. It wasn’t until I was getting ready to move to MD that I realized that I hadn’t seen her in over a year. I worried about her. Was she in a box somewhere? I dug through boxes looking for her, to no avail. Finally, after a few weeks of searching, I unveiled her from one of the very last boxes I had left to inspect. I was so happy to see her.

Things seemed much better then. Life was whole again. Mona and I were reunited. The universe was in order. Whew, that was a relief.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Kitty Adaptation

April 10, 2006

It’s been almost four full days now since I brought Little Miss Madison home from the shelter and put her up in her own guest room. According to all the literature I’ve read, you should keep a new cat separated from the existing cat for 5-14 days, introducing them slowly during that time.

A couple of times I’ve let them see each other through a cracked door. Each time, Martin has hissed at this new kitty invading his territory. That’s normal. My fear has been that Martin wouldn’t be accepting of the new cat, not vice-versa. It never occurred to me that Madison wouldn’t accept Martin. He's so docile and lazy that I figured it would be easy going for him. Boy was I wrong!

Today I tried a quick introduction to see how things would go. Martin was in the master bedroom, and I let Madison see him from the hallway with the door open. He hissed at her, and to my surprise, this little girl ran at him at full speed, chasing him under the bed! I quickly separated the two, and put her back in her room.

But poor Martin. He went into the bathtub and cowered in there for an hour. I finally took him out and put him on the bed where he cowered in the same spot, unmoving, for another 20 minutes, his eyes glued squarely on the master bedroom doorway. Finally, I picked him up and carried him downstairs so he could eat, which he did. My baby! I feel terrible. It just breaks my heart to see him so fearful in his own home. I never imagined him to be afraid of a little kitty that weighs half as much as he does. This is why you have to be careful introducing a new pet into a household that already has pets.

So, I will keep trying. Poor, poor Martin. He's my baby. I've always been so protective of him, and now I feel like I've let him down allowing this intruder in his home. I hope it works out in the long run. I really want him to have a playmate.

Madison is back in her room, purring away like nothing ever happened. Last night when I went in to play with her, I brought the little laser pointer that I’d gotten for Martin a couple years ago. Martin never showed the least bit of interest in that toy. But Madison is his polar opposite when it comes to toys. She’ll play non-stop until I’m too tired to play. The laser light is a fun toy. She thinks she’s caught the little red bug, then it disappears out from under her paws. Hee-hee!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Too Cute for Words

April 6, 2006

Martin and I have a new addition to the family. She’s a 7-year-old tabby cat from the Howard County Animal Control shelter. She was given to an 11-year-boy many years ago. That boy grew up, the parents divorced, the 19-year-old young man went to live with his father, and his dad said “No” to keeping the cat. Hence, she was dropped off at the shelter on 3/31/06. For a long time I’ve thought about getting a companion for Martin. I met this new kitty on Monday and brought her home this afternoon. She didn’t have a name.

She seemed a tad aloof when we met. A very pretty, thin girl with long hair, green eyes, and feathery feet, she immediately made me think that she should be pussy-footing down Madison Avenue. Hence, Martin and I will call her Little Miss Madison.

I had to sneak her in the house quickly before Martin could figure out what was going on. I ran her up to a third-floor bedroom, and Martin’s been hanging outside her door ever since. When you introduce a new cat to a multi-cat home, you have to do it very slowly. That means that Madison will have to stay in her own room (the guest bedroom) for several days while both cats get used to each other's smells.

Most cats take one to six months to adapt to a new home. I remember when Tom gave me Martin in late 2003, he spent most of the first several months sleeping on a comforter folded up in the bedroom closet. It was a long time before he’d let me pick him up or scratch his ears.

Madison is quite different in that respect. She purrs like crazy every time I go in her room, and she rubs up against my legs. She loves to be combed. She reaches up and rubs her face against mine. So precious! She’s a very sweet girl. I’m sure Martin will be a great friend to her. Tom (Martin's previous owner) told me that Martin lived with his sister his first 8 years, before both were given up for adoption and (unfortunately) separated. That was when Tom adopted Martin in 2000. So I think he’ll get along just fine with Madison.

I'm finally done unpacking all the boxes from our 3/3/06 move. Now I just need to finish furnishing the new townhouse and then shell out about $15K for a deck, patio, and fence. After that, the only big project is window blinds. Then I'll be done! I'm ready to be done moving.... I think Martin is too. He seems to have adjusted well and is already losing weight from running around and going up and down the stairs. That's my boy!