An Interruption at TGB – Day 2
Talking About Death

An Interruption at Time Goes By – Day 3

category_bug_journal2.gif This is the third and final day of the TGB Interruption. Actually, the interruption is finished - for me, although not you. I'm back to my normal schedule today, but I'm writing this late on Sunday afternoon when I still wasn't.

So you're stuck with one more golden oldie. This was one of the most fun to write in all the time I've been blogging. It's not even embellished for effect. It is what really happened one day in September 2007. (The link at the end of this story does not lead it a golden oldie; it is a new posting at The Elder Storytelling Place.)

This tale of Ollie the cat begins in mid-2006, when he and his housemate, Ronni, moved from Greenwich Village to a new home in Portland, Maine.

The Maine apartment is much bigger than their New York City home – specifically, much longer with lots of room for a young cat to gallop from one end to the other (when he is not snoozing).


For an entire year, Ollie the cat lived inside this house and took pleasure, when windows were open, in ka-ka-ka-ing at the birds and squirrels who hang out on the electric lines in front of the house.


During that first year, Ronni did not allow Ollie on the deck because cats are known to get distracted while stalking birds and bees and butterflies. Who knows, he might forget himself and take a flying leap to the ground from the second-floor.


It was a distraction when Ronni, on a beautiful day, took lunch or dinner among her flowers and plants or read a book lying on the chaise longue, purchased just for that purpose, while Ollie screamed through the screen door demanding to join her. But Ronni has lived with cats all her life and knows their wandering ways. So Ollie was deprived of the one thing he wanted most – to be outdoors.


It wasn’t easy keeping Ollie in the house. Cats are born experts at whisking between human feet when they want to be somewhere they are not allowed. Especially when Ronni was carrying dirty clothes through the kitchen door and back hall to the laundry room or was hauling the big watering can to the deck, Ollie sometimes escaped, but not for long. Ronni is practiced at catching errant cats.


Still, it was annoying to Ronni to keep constant watch on Ollie when doors were opened and closed and she did feel sorry for the little fellow who desperately wanted to frolic in the fresh air and take in the heady aromas that only cats and dogs can smell. And so, when the snows had melted and spring arrived, Ronni relented.


At first, she stayed with Ollie when he played on the deck so she would be there to grab him if his interest in a bug took him too close to the edge. But humans – or, at least, Ronni – are more easily bored with bug stalking than cats and in time, Ollie was allowed on the deck alone.

In fact, when Ollie altered their morning routine by yelling to have the kitchen door opened before breakfast and even, sometimes, before sunrise, Ronni left all the doors open on good weather days so Ollie could come and go at his whim. And all was well - or close enough, if you don’t count regurgitated dead bugs on the rug.


When it wasn’t raining, Ollie spent most of his summer days on the deck chasing bugs or snoozing on his favorite outdoor chair. It was his habit to check in with Ronni at her desk a couple of times in the afternoon or, on hot, humid days, to loll around indoors stretched out on the cool porcelain of the bathtub. And on a few occasions, he slept overnight on the chaise. Ronni tried that once herself and understood the attraction on a cool summer night.


Ollie likes his evening meal at about 5:30PM, no exceptions, and if Ronni hasn’t filled his bowl by then, he tracks her down and taps her on the arm in a certain way that means, “Hey, it’s dinner time. You don’t expect me to eat those leftover crumbs from breakfast, do you?”

Several days ago, Ronni looked up from her laptop and realized it was an hour past Ollie’s dinner time. He had not reminded her and she had not seen him since early afternoon. Where could he be? She checked the deck. No Ollie.


Ronni called his name from the kitchen - he usually comes – but no Ollie. She checked behind the sofa…


No Ollie. She checked his cupboard hidey-hole…


No Ollie. She checked the guest room closet…


Still no Ollie. She looked under the bed. There were some lost cat toys, but…


…no cat. She hadn’t done laundry that day, but just in case, she checked the washer and dryer.


They were empty - of a cat, anyway. She checked behind Ollie’s favorite deck chair where gardening equipment is kept.


No Ollie. The cat was gone, gone, gone. How could that be? wondered Ronni. Then it struck her in all its horror - perhaps Ollie had fallen off the deck. You see, there is a six-inch lip of flooring beyond the fence of the deck. Ronni could never watch when Ollie patrolled out there.


Heart pounding, Ronni grabbed a flashlight – dusk was settling in – and ran downstairs to the small back yard. She looked behind every bush and flower and weed. With great relief, Ronni found no dead or injured cat. She looked up at her deck – it was a long way down.


Back upstairs and again on the deck, Ronni pondered this mystery of the disappearing cat and softly called his name. Was that a meow she heard? She called again. Yes, yes, it WAS a meow. But where was it coming from? The adjoining laundry room? No cat there.

Ronni called to Ollie again from the deck. There was no doubt this time; it was Ollie’s voice – coming from the yard.

Ronni raced downstairs to find Ollie peering out from under some plants behind the birdbath.


Even after several hours on the loose, Ollie wasn’t ready to come home and he nearly evaded Ronni's grasp. But cats forget sometimes that humans are bigger and stronger than they are.

He yowled as Ronni caught him by the tail, but what’s a little pain, thought Ronni, compared to being squashed beneath a car’s tire or torn apart by the rumscullion cats who prowl the yard at night. Nevertheless, he fought her all the way upstairs.

How did Ollie get to the yard? Did he fall by accident and just happen not to hurt himself? Did he forget where he was and leap after a bug? Or did he carefully calculate the distance and deliberately jump to the ground from the second floor?

We will never know. But two mornings after Ollie’s escape, Ronni woke to a dream image of him sailing off the deck with all the magnificent grace of feline gazelle.

And that is the tale of how Ollie the cat lost his outdoor deck privileges. Ronni is certain she lost a few weeks off the end of her life due to stress and fear.

When she recovered, she was angry with Ollie. So angry, in fact, she is publishing this formerly secret, inelegant photo of him in the chair where he will undoubtedly spend more time now that his outdoor privileges have been revoked.


[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, liloldme tells the true story of a Sentimental Goodbye.]


I used to own a ground level condo, my upstairs neighbour had two cats. On more than one occasion they leaped down from the balcony to my deck; one would hang around till dinner time when its owner returned from work, the other would take off and her poor owner spent days leaving treats on my deck and waiting in hope and fear for the cat to return. It always did, but it had to be captured, it was so skittish. I always wished those cats' balcony privileges were revoked, but I guess their owner had stronger nerves than I.

The photo tour of your home is lovely, even if a bit unusual!

It's a gift, Ronni...your offering us this repeat at a time when it's so dark out there. Sometimes feel as if TGB is an online class (for those of us academically oriented) in how to balance the work. The personal and the political keep me with you--even when my take is not yours.

Doesn't hurt to have your sidekick an elegant guy like Ollie. Can almost see his rumpled tux and cigar as he's caught off guard at the end of the party.

I rarely read a book a second time but I enjoyed Ollie's adventure as much today as I did back when.
Thank you, Ronni.
Glad you are back to your normal schedule.

OH! How I loved that story!

As a professed cat lover, I smiled throughout while recognizing those similar traits that all cats possess.

Thanks for the morning smile.
: )

I remember hearing something about this before....LOL.

That last photo is priceless. He's posing like I did after the birth of my first child, when my stitches got infected.

Ronnie has left Wenda laughing out loud -- not the lol version -- but really laughing out loud.

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