Monday, February 26, 2007


Okay, I think I'll stick with Twins pics since the last ones didn't go over so well. Unfortunately, the trade off for having a team that has the reigning MVP, batting champ and Cy Young winner is that these days are over. Baby Jesus was absolutely mobbed this year. When I said I had never seen anything like Pujols getting rushed I had no idea I would see it again among my own people. I didn't get the Sports Illustrated signed. Dean got a team baseball signed by Mauer, Morneau, and Santana (among others) which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, I'm just not feisty enough to elbow my way in and get the autographs I wanted. I wanted the SI signed and I wanted my favorite Twins baseball hat signed by somebody cool. My first choice was Santana and I got pretty close. He signed some while he was walking between fields. I didn't have the coordination that the professionals have to run backwards while keeping memorabilia in his face. I was kinda just over his shoulder the whole time. Literally inches away from that gorgeous man and the temptation was strong to just reach out and touch that rock hard butt. But I didn't want to spend the night in the Lee County jail. I threw a world class hissy at Deano after my hat wasn't one of the handful of things Johan signed. It made me so angry that the people who are obviously going to sell this stuff on ebay and had hounded Johan for the whole day until got what they wanted. I just wanted my smelly, sweaty hat that isn't worth anything to have Johan's signature across the rim as a testament to how close I got to touching his butt.

But, as my mom consoled me, the players don't always think about what's fair when they are surrounded by people waving memorabilia at them. I don't blame him one bit and he's still one of my favorites. While I was patiently waiting for him to finish practice to get a shot at his butt, I mean signature, I snapped these picks of his stunning windup and delivery.

I also noticed Johan has really grown into his fame this year, joking around more with teammates as well as fans and media. Doing sprints, he started running back and forth with his fists up in the air like he was practicing for a championship. I also saw him tell Matt LeCroy he was happy to see him back and then tried to hold Matt's hand. It was hilarious. I used to see him as standoffish by I think I misjudged what in hindsight was timidness. The new personally add to the package and I have a full blown crush on Johan this year. Those silly teeny boppers can have the m&m boys. I'll take this Venezuelan specimen, thank you.

And speaking of specimen, I took this photo especially for my step dad.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nothing Says Baseball Like... a Munchkin?

So as I mentioned before, Monday morning we drove to Winter Haven to see the Indians practice. Correction: I went to see practice. Running, stretching, goofing off, baseball pants, batting practice, etc. Dean goes to watch practices but also to get autographs. Yes, I married a twelve year old. He brings stacks of cards and a couple baseballs and lurks with the kids and the retirees and waits for the players to sign. Anyway, because a good time to get autographs is right at the beginning of practice, Dean dragged me out of bed at 5 a.m. to get there early. We got there even before the players and for a full hour and a half Dean was the only one standing out there. Why was he alone? Because it was 43 degrees out (in Florida that's damn cold) and I was in the car, drinking coffee with the heat blasting listening to NPR's Morning Edition. I joined Dean when the players actually took to the fields.

After practice we drove down to Jupiter to see both the Cardinals and the Marlins. Of course practice was over by the time we got to Jupiter so we explored the town a little, ate at a sports bar and went to bed early. The next morning, we drove to the stadium (this time I slept in til six) and got there around seven. Dean didn't get one autograph before practice. I again hung out with the NPR crew for awhile before finding the local Starbucks. When the Cardinals practice was about to start, we were informed that the areas between the practice fields were closed because the clean-up crew hadn't finished tearing down from a street party welcoming the Cardinals back to Jupiter the night before. The only way for fans to get around the different practice fields was through the player parking lots, which the staff wasn't about to let happen. Instead a trolley had to cart us around the complex, removing all hope of wandering aimlessly and without plan. I was a little distraught.

We took the trolley to the first set of practice fields. When we got off the trolley Dean struck up a conversation with the guy selling programs as you walk into the practice field area. He discreetly showed Dean the schedule which revealed that Albert Pujols (the most coveted autograph signer and a pretty good player, HA!) was in fact practicing at a different set of fields. So we hung out with the program vendor shooting the shit and waiting for the trolley when here comes a Munchkin. Yes, you read correctly, a real live Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz. The Munchkin, named Mickey, is a St. Louis resident and can often be found at Cardinals events. The vendor and Mickey were on a friendly basis, so he stopped Mickey to introduce us to him. I was flabbergasted. Let's face it, of all the people I awoke that morning hoping to meet, a Munchkin was not even close to being on my radar. But Mickey greeted Dean with a handshake and me with a hug. He was more then happy to tell us some Wizard of Oz stories and interesting history. For instance, did you know that most of the Munchkins were German refugees fleeing Hitler's regime? I had no idea. He left us with some signed photos and some pictures:

This is actually the only picture I've gotten with a celebrity this spring training. Not that an actual Munchkin is a disappointment, I was thrilled. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Mickey is the one that plays the fiddle while leading a line of parading Munchkins around Munchkinland trailed by Dorothy in a horse-drawn carriage.

Cardinals practice was relatively uneventful. I snapped these photos for Lefty, just to make her jealous.

Pujols wouldn't turn around for a good picture, but the middle-aged woman next to me seemed plenty content taking pictures of his rear end. He was also characteristically poor about signing autographs. When he left the batting cages for the last time at the end of practice, everyone in the rather large crowd descended upon the fence separating him from us like ants on a dropped candy bar. I have never seen anything like it, and this is my fifth spring training. He signed for about 20 of the 200 people or so waiting. I just hope he did it for a lot of kids even though I couldn't see a thing.

I like that picture because Tony LaRussa is telling another coach something about somebody's swing.

I confess that Wednesday morning I punked out and slept in while Dean went to try to get Dontrelle Willis to sign a ball. He picked me up from the hotel in time for check out and we headed home. Tomorrow, it's Ft. Myers for two days to see my boys. I have missed them like crazy. My mission: get Baby Jesus to sign a copy of his Sports Illustrated. But like I indicated above, you never know what will happen.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Secret to a Successful Marriage is Bargaining

It's true. After 7 years, Dean and I have realized that it's all about give and take. You can do X if I can do Y. For instance, at the Cleveland Indians practice...

me, pointing to a group of players running across the field: "I didn't know Cleveland picked up Luis Rivas."

dean: "Sweetie, do I have your permission to punch Rivas in the face?"

me: "Only if I can sleep with Grady Sizemore."

dean: "Deal."

He makes a motion like he's walking towards Luis Rivas.

me: "No! You have to get a commitment from Grady first."

dean: "What am I supposed to do? Walk up to the both of them and say, 'Hey Grady, will you sleep with my wife?' and then when he says 'yes' up and cold cock Luis?"

me: "Exactly. Good luck."

Friday, February 16, 2007


I am stressed out. It's not so much that I am so busy I don't have time to take a deep breath. It's more like no matter how many deep breaths I take I can't seem to feel good about things. Work is about the same as always as far as having a lot to do but not so much I can't handle it. More the problems lies in the tension I am feeling at growing differences in opinion between my advisor and me. The two issues are (1) my plans for this summer and (2) my plans after graduation. Ultimately it's my life and I have to do what's best for my family and me. That's easy to say when I'm not seated up in his office listening to all his ideas for my future. I always felt so lucky that my dad and my stepdad are so supportive of me and everything I choose to do. Maybe karma is finally catching up to me.

I'm still feeling hypersensitive about the state of my furry friends in the world. I worry about them probably too much and come close to tears thinking about all the other animals out there with no one caring for them and helping them out. No need to tell me, I can't do any more than I'm already doing or else I'll burn out. My next "crusade" as runnergirl affectionately calls it should be to simply heighten awareness so that others will step up either by opening their homes, their hearts or even their checkbooks.

The aforementioned stressors have this week led to insomnia, moodiness and a general lack of focus. I'm no doctor, but in my experience there is only one cure for all these symptoms: BASEBALL. Yes, even though I whined, moaned and was utterly beside myself by the dismal post season my boys had, Spring Training has pleasantly snuck up on me. Dean took all next week off of work to celebrate this, his holiday season of sorts. He made plans to take a roadtrip Monday to Winter Haven to see the Indians, then on Monday afternoon to continue driving East to Jupiter to see the Cardinals on Tuesday, and then Wednesday staying and watching the Marlins. I've decided to be totally irresponsible and go with him even though I know I shouldn't. I'm not sure why we're not gong to Ft. Myers instead, at this point I just want to hear the crack of a bat and I don't really care from who. And sorry Lefty. If I get a shot with Pujols I'm keeping him for myself.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"Clip Clip Here, Clip Clip There...

We give the roughest claws--
That certain air of savoir faire
In the Merry Old Land of Oz!"

It’s mating season behind the dumpster. Several weeks ago, four big tom cats came around looking for love. Hopefully they didn’t find any with the few remaining unfixed girls I have back there. After taking advantage of the free food for a few days, three of them left. One has made himself quite comfortable. This one I’ve grown a little attached to due to his absolutely pathetic appearance. He has a mammoth build but appeared emaciated. He has long, coarse gray hair, very pronounced facial features and expressive eyes. He was missing big clumps of fur (including half the fur on his tail) and the rest of his fur had mats and snarls. Awhile back Heather had set up a hotel of sorts consisting of three big boxes set on their sides with blankets in them. He was perpetually in one of them, scrambling out whenever I came to feed.

Well, free boarding and meals comes at a price around here and he ended up in one of my traps Saturday night. I was happy and sad to see him trapped. The big toms are the ones to do a lot of damage reproductively but I was also quite nervous. You see, before cats get fixed for Spay Day, they get tested for feline HIV and feline leukemia. If they test positive they are immediately euthanized instead of fixed. I know this is the right thing to do, but if I’d ever seen a sickly kitty it was this one. For a split second I thought of turning him loose, but if he was sick that would be unfair to all the others living back there exposed to diseases.

I only set out two traps this month and with the help of my mother-in-law (a “Crazy Cat Lady in Training”) who’s here visiting, we filled both of them. It’s getting more and more difficult to traps cats that haven’t been fixed. The same ones seem to always want to go in. That requires me to stand close enough to squirt them with a spray bottle if they get too close. The squirting and subsequent rustling dissuades the shier cats from coming in. All in all it’s a chore that gets tougher each time. The second trap was filled with presumably a sibling of this kitten. The age is about right and the markings identical. Unfortunately, she’s just too old already to be socialized.

Sylvia and I drove the kitties to the ACT clinic at 6:30 am yesterday. It was the first time I’d been there since I usually enlist someone with a bigger vehicle to take them for me. Since Sylvia rented a car while on vacation we were able to fit both the kitties in the back seat. You know how you get into a rental car always slightly wary of what has happened in it? Well, now you can add transportation of feral cats to the list of possibilities. I spent a long day wringing my hands over my pathetic tom, waiting for a call from the clinic saying, “Sorry, but…”

Eight agonizing hours later, we got back in the car to pick up the patients. When we got to the clinic they weren’t quite ready. The female I had trapped was having a hard time raising her body temperature and was in “kitty ICU” with a hot pad and a few blankets. They brought out my huge tom who was also wrapped in a blanket so I couldn’t see his fur.

“Um, I know you guys fix like 100 cats…but when I brought this guy in he looked pretty pathetic…”

“Oh, I know!” A woman exclaimed, “He had awful dermatitis. We scrubbed him up and treated him for it. We gave him an antibiotic in case he scabs up and gets infected. We also cut out the matted fur, de-fleaed him, treated him for parasites, cleaned his ears. The usual. Plus a little extra TLC since he was sorta sorry looking.” My heart melted. They do so much there it’s amazing. Yet have time to love on the kitties and make sure each one is properly fixed up.

My pathetic tom actually looks pretty good. Maybe his bald spots will grow back now that he’s been treated. Since we picked him up yesterday, he is eating me out of house and home. Four cans of food already! I’ll give him one more when I get home and turn him loose after he finishes. The food has to go somewhere in the end and he’s already stinking up the balcony. Plus, after the help Sylvia gave me, I want her to be around for the most rewarding part.

My “cold girl” is also doing well. I gave her an extra towel and fleece blanket and she made it through the night so she’ll be just fine. I’ll keep her for tonight even though her appetite seems to have returned as well.

Letting the most primal, caring instincts out for a few days to help needy creatures (even non-humans) does wonders for the soul.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pretty Much the Worst Week Ever

Last week, which included this and this, ended yesterday with word that my step-grandpa died. It was not sudden, he had been sick quite some time. He was an extremely kind man with a fantastic sense of humor. He will be missed.

Despite the ugliness this past week has brought I'm okay. But I'm getting tired of writing sad serious things and I just need a couple of days to regroup.

Meanwhile, thanks for all your kind words from last post. I know not everyone understands why I am so passionate about this cause. You don't have to. Accepting that it's part of who I am is enough.

Friday, February 02, 2007

One Less

I’m about 90% sure one of the dumpster kitties got hit by a car.

A week ago I was driving home from work. I was taking the street home that I normally do, but driving past my usual turn to go up to the next block to get Chik-fil-A for dinner. Just past my complex (~ 50 yards) I saw a furry lifeless heap on the side of the road. Living in such a warm climate with high speed limits (sometimes 45 miles an hour on regular city streets) this is sadly common and I typically avert my gaze as I pass by or I will start to cry. That’s what I did a week ago also.

Then earlier this week I noticed one of them had gone missing. Some of them I don’t see every day so it does take a little while before I realize I haven’t seen a particular one. When I realized she was missing, my thoughts went back to the hit kitty from last week. I tried to keep up hope and tell myself that wasn’t her, it was just a coincidence. When I noticed that her brother (who she hangs out with) kept showing up for dinner by himself, I started to feel even crummier.

Yesterday I broke down and went to Heather to see what she thought. I didn’t mention the hit cat I saw because I wasn’t sure if I had talked myself into thinking it was her or what. I basically asked her (1) if she’s seen my kitty in any of her colonies after describing her and (2) how long she has gone without seeing one of her kitties before it turned back up. She very gently told me that she had seen the hit kitty. She had stopped to make sure it wasn’t one of hers and when she saw that it wasn’t she worried it was one of mine. She said she decided not to tell me unless I came to her and now that I gave her the description, she thought it was likely my missing kitty. The only way I could have been 100% sure was if she had noticed whether the ear was clipped (she was one I already fixed) and she said she couldn’t believe she forgot to check.

So I am pretty blue about it still today but I’ve resigned myself that she is gone. If by some miracle it wasn’t her I will be happy, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. What is bringing me down most is that she was one of the originals I started feeding two summers ago so I first met her when she was a tiny baby. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I truly regret not going to someone when I first found those kittens and they were small enough to still be housecats to someone. Granted, they wouldn’t let me too close, but if I’d have know then what I know now… I feel like as long as I live here, I will always be making it up to them. She was also one of the first ones I took for Spay Day so I had spent some time close to her. I remember her being pretty frightened and I had a difficult time getting her to eat even a couple days after the surgery. After I finally got her eating and released her she disappeared for a couple days, and seeing her after she had gotten over whatever distress I had caused her was very rewarding. I just wasn’t expecting her to disappear again.

I know their lives are not easy and are often short. I hope wherever she is now she knows someone cared about her.