I spent the majority of my Spring Break at Yuriko's house in Reading. Unfortunately, Penn State Berks already had its break, so Yuriko had to work during the day. Still, it was nice to be able to see her every evening and not to have to make the hour-long drive up from West Chester every other day. I tried to make myself useful while she was at work -- walking the dog, taking the recyclables to the recycling center, grocery shopping, cooking, washing dishes -- all manner of manly tasks.
The big challenge was introducing my cat (Tess) to Yuriko's dog and cat (Baylor and Darcy, respectively). We tried to do it gradually. Tess was set up with her own private room in the front of the house, separated from the other animals and the rest of the house by a gate. After everyone was used to everyone else's sent, we tried allowing a little more interaction. When the gate was removed, Baylor made his way toward Tess, hoping to get a better sniff. She felt threatened, hissed, and made a really weird, deep growly-type noise. This prompted Baylor to become a little more aggressive, and he lunged at her, barking. She stood her ground, wacked him with her claws, and then bolted. Baylor snapped his jaw at her as she fled, but no one was hurt. Tess spent the next few hours hiding under Yuriko's bed. I finally lured her out with some food and got her back into her private room, with the gate restored.
Darcy and Tess never had so dramatic a confrontation. Tess clearly didn't want to have anything to do with her, either, but Darcy was willing to check her curiosity and concede to Tess some personal space. The two cats seemed happy enough to leave each other alone. Baylor, however, really wanted to get back into Tess's sanctuary. I let him back in a couple times, but carefully supervised. Tess was still not happy, and she kept on hissing when he got too close. Will they ever be friends? Seems doubtful, but you never know. What is certain is that it will take longer than one week. Anyone out there have any suggestions for introducing an old cat to an old dog, both of whom seem pretty set in their ways and resistant to change?
If the weather had been nicer, I would have taken Baylor for some long walks in the woods. There are some big county and state parks outside of Reading that I am eager to explore. Most of the week, however, was pretty chilly and damp, so I stayed inside more than I would have liked. I caught up on my grading and blog-reading, filed my taxes, and read Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the novel that inspired the Showtime TV series Dexter. I've been fascinated by this show for a little over a year, so I was excited to check out the book that it was based on. Surprisingly, I now think that the TV show is better than the book. Usually it's the other way around, right? The book is not bad -- and many of the things I love about the show are also present in the book (and they were in the book first), but I really think the show improved upon the strengths of the book in interesting ways. I love the inventiveness of the book's basic idea -- feeding America's appetite for serial killers and vigilantes with the same character -- but the show develops many of the supporting characters in much more interesting ways, and it also has better dialogue than the book.
One last note about my break -- Yuriko and I took a couple fun day trips. One was just to King of Prussia, which might not sound too exciting, but it was my first time there. Ooh, and I bought a vest! I'll try to remember to show it off soon. We also took a day trip to New York, which was a lot of fun. An aunt of mine, who is a painter and photographer, had an opening at a gallery on the lower east side. We went to her show, which was really cool, and also did some other fun things: walked along the High Line (a park converted from an old elevated train line), visited the FIT Museum, and had 2 delicious meals (crepes for lunch, Indian curry for dinner).
This weekend we are taking a slightly bigger trip, to Charlottesville, VA, leaving Friday and returning Sunday. I hope it's a little warmer there!