Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bad theater, broken dishwashers, and the mysterious cat

Context: Kind of stunned after wrapping up my year as a board president and getting back into my writing and digital content business full time.

Last night Tom and I went to see Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart at ACT Theater. I was not eager.

Because I have so many last minute meetings and weird client emergencies, I inevitably end up moving our tickets from date to date. And, even when it all gets settled, I usually wish we could just have a quiet evening at home. However, once I get to the theater, I enjoy the show and am glad we've gone.

Last night may change all that!

Have you ever been to a play where the ushers give you a warning as you enter? I hadn't, but last night they were warning everyone that the play was 2-1/2 hours long.

What they didn't tell us was that it was 2-1/2 hours of two nearly indistinguishably shrill actresses, both in red wigs and elaborate period gowns, ranting and raving. If there had been any scenery to speak of, they'd have chewed on it. The high point of the first act was the scene where they finally meet and are shrieking (Mary Stuart) and snarling (Elizabeth I) at each other.

During most of the scenes, male actors dressed in modern business suits stood by, looking about as involved as accountants, until called upon to speak their lines. Some of the Men in Gray turned out to be double agents.

When the intermission arrived, audience members stood up, as if stunned, and drifted out into the lobby. Tom and I just sat there. It slowly dawned on us that we both wanted to be somewhere else, and we simply fled.

On our way through the Convention Center to the parking garage, we came across a wonderful exhibition of prints, many of them by a local artist of Finnish heritage, Mirka Hokkanen. When we got home we looked her up on the internet and discovered that our favorite of her prints from the show, Peeping Tom Cat, was available for all of $20 on Etsy. (You can also see it on her homepage, though the low-resolution version there hardly does it justice.) We bought it, and I'm sure will enjoy it long after all memory of the Mary Stuart performance has faded.

* * *

I've been putting off various repair work because of lack of time to deal with finding, scheduling, and supervising things, but am now starting to come to grips with things like the flooding storage locker, the mysteriously rattling dishwasher, and the front steps badly in need of weather-proofing.

My favorite professional movers (Adam's Moving) are coming next week to help me move things from the flooding storage unit to a non-flooding one in the same building. I discovered that Sears, always so eager to get me to renew my dishwasher warranty, stopped being eager after the dishwasher turned 10. So it's now out of warranty. A diagnostic visit from Sears is exorbitant enough that I contemplated replacing the dishwasher — unfortunately, every mid-range dishwasher recommended by Consumer Reports gets low ratings from actual human beings, with nearly every reviewer saying that the new KitchenAid/Bosch/Kenmore dishwashers with all the nifty features and energy-saving ratings aren't nearly as sturdy or dependable as the old ones.

Since the problem with my old Kenmore Elite is a minor mechanical issue with the whirling spray arm, I've decided to get it repaired by a local repair person (not, shudder, Sears).

The ideal solution, apparently, would be to find a 10-year-old KitchenAid/Bosch/Kenmore dishwasher that has never been used and buy that.

* * *

And now, for the mysterious cat, Mr. Garibaldi. He turned up four years ago as a pathetic stray tomcat, absolutely terrified of people. He'd sit on the back porch with his nose against the glass door and stare. But when I opened the door to put out a dish of food, he'd flee and hide under the porch. Gradually, he got used to me and would allow me to pet him and sit next to him while he ate.

My neighbor the cat rescuer, Joe, was also dealing with Mr. Garibaldi (he calls him "Sidewinder") and it was Joe who succeeded in capturing Garibaldi and getting him neutered. Garibaldi then moved into Joe's house, and would come by to visit me only on weekends when Joe was traveling. Occasionally I swing by Joe's yard and Garibaldi comes over to be petted.

Garibaldi often vanishes during the summer, and returns in the fall. I was concerned because Mabel and Zoe ran him off one night last spring and he hadn't come by since. Every night when I go into the kitchen to turn off the lights and lock up, I look for him. And last night, there he was.

I got out the food, put it in a dish, took it out to him, and sat on the steps while he ate. Just like old times. He looks great — fluffy and healthy. You'd never guess how battered he'd been four years ago. He ate most of the food, and then trotted down the steps and sat on the patio, staring up at me.

I'm fascinated by Garibaldi. I interpret it as a good omen when he shows up, but it probably just means he's hungry.

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