Or stupid Homo sapiens.
(I’d write a post of import to someone other than me, but as I mentioned yesterday, the world is beginning to overwhelm me. Today I searched “Sunniest places in New Zealand.” I am sure that NZ has its own problems, but starting a war with North Korea and dealing with the daily antics of Tangerine Jesus aren’t among them. )
So you get this story instead:
I’m in the process of demolishing the downstairs bath. (I’ve got some really hideous pale yellow tile if you need some replacements.) Getting rid of the garbage is part of the challenge. I was shoveling out some of the plaster and tile through the bathroom window. I left the window open to get some fresh air in there. I closed the door to keep the animals out. Zoot and Dingo, my indoor cats, have occasionally gone walkabout, and it’s not fun.
She Went Out Through The Bathroom Window
Like most things in my house, the bathroom doorknob doesn’t work so well. (You should see what I have to go through sometimes to make sure that the boiler works. Another story, another time.)
Enter, or exit, Genius Mutt, who was not on a leash, as I let him out into the backyard. The bathroom door was not latched, it turns out, and when I came home–after dark, mind you–there was Dingo, coming to the back stairs to come in the house. (For a long while I couldn’t tell the difference between my cats, so Dingo wears a collar with a bell attached to it). I can hear her usually before I see her. He sees the cat, which means time for terrorizing. When the cats are cornered, they’ll smack Kaleb on the nose, and he’s such a big chicken that he’ll back off, but when there’s open space, the cats prefer to retreat and the chase is on. Dingo runs and hides somewhere in the backyard. I bring the dog inside, screaming at him for chasing the cat (yes, useless at best, counterproductive at worst).
I set out to get the cat. I do not want my cats outside, not during daylight hours, and certainly not at night. We have a lot of coyotes here in suburban Boston. I hear them at night, especially when a chorus of pups starts on yipping fit. I’ve lost cats to coyotes, and it’s not pleasant, especially when you find the remains. I’d rather not be living among top predators in this kind of space–they can be packed much more densely here than in the wild–but I don’ think that that is about to change.
Missing animals upset me. They make me worry. My mind starts to wander to the worst-case scenario.
I go back outside to get Dingo, but she is still frightened from having the dog chase her all over the yard, and she bolts into the darkness. Shit. Back inside, get the flashlight, get a bowl of food.
I spend the next hour trying to find the cat. I call her. I shine my flashlight into hidden places, including the neighbor’s shed. I wait for the police to show up and ask me what I am doing slinking around other peoples’ yards at night. I look under bushes, cars, along fence lines, up trees. No cat. Not even the sound of her bell. I know that she probably hasn’t gone that far–cats rarely travel great distances under these circumstances. It’s getting late, but I don’t want to go to sleep. I want to stay outside and stay vigilant for coyotes and run them off if they come on my side of the street (they live across the street, in the woods by the river.
But eventually, inevitably, I can’t do it anymore. I’m too tired, too worried, too frustrated. A lot of my worry is just about the cat, but it gets confounded and conflated with other things. I’m worried about having to tell my son and daughter that Dingo has disappeared, and may or may not come back. I worry that in the turmoil of the post-divorce period that the children are still feeling a loss, and I don’t want to add another loss. I think of my life here, how there is only one thing keeping me here–my children–and that I’m not ready for more loss, either. My life isn’t that bad. I’m safe, I have a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator. A family, who although not here, is behind me every step of the way. A woman who looks after my soul and my well-being. But a lot of things have disappeared in the last while, and I’m not looking to add yet another animal companion to the mix.
She came back. I woke up at 3:30 AM, went outside, and she wasn’t there. I woke up again an hour later, and as soon as I opened the door, she meowed, and ran inside, heading straight down to the basement where the food is. As I write this, she is sitting on the desk next to the computer, and when I rub her head she starts to purr.
I imagine that at some point she will again escape, and I will think, Oh no, not again. But for now I’m going to just enjoy the purring sound, and try not to think about everything else that’s going on in the world.
Yup, folks, summer is over. Don’t start giving me your lip about it not being the “official” end of summer, about it not being Labor Day yet, or the even stupider nonsense about the equinox. The bare naked and ugly truth is that summer is kaput, morto, D-E-A-D. The kids are back in school, marking the real end to the carefree feeling that accompanies the wonderful warm months. Time is now lunches and buses and report cards and social complexities and teachers of both the competent and incompetent variety, not to mention that biggest waste of children’s time known as homework. (Of course, every teacher thinks her homework assignments are useful and important, but whatever–I’ll be targeting those maroons shortly. Also, since I’m taking detours, the weather isn’t correlated with arthritis[1,2,3]* and sugar doesn’t make your children hyperactive, but I don’t bother arguing these anymore because, well, because people also vote for Donald Trump and deny global warming and I’ve got other Twinkies to fry.) First idiot that says something saccharine about the changing of the seasons and oh snow so pretty gets salted and sold to cannibals.
This year’s summer was ridiculously short. Embarrassingly short. I felt ashamed telling my kids that they had to go back to school, and no, they were in no mood to start up again with their respective academic purgatories, junior high and high school. Students in Massachusetts didn’t get out until June 26, which should have been cause for the pillorying of the both the Superintendent and the members of the School Committee, but all we like sheep have gone apathetic, and we’ll probably settle for a week at the fourth of July in a few decades. And students will still get a better education in a dozen other countries.
*The third article is much more interesting and nuanced, and it does correlate physical activity and season, which may be a confounder in these studies.
2. Dorleijn D, et al; Associations between weather conditions and clinical symptoms in patients with hip osteoarthritis: A 2-year cohort study; Pain, Volume 155, Issue 4, April 2014, Pages 808–813
3. Feinglass J, Lee J, Dunlop D, Song J, Semanik P, Chang RW. The Effects of Daily Weather on Accelerometer-measured Physical Activity among Adults with Arthritis. Journal of physical activity & health. 2011;8(7):934-943.
4. Wolraich ML, Wilson DB, White J. The Effect of Sugar on Behavior or Cognition in Children: A Meta-analysis. JAMA.1995;274(20):1617-1621