safe and sound

Fluffy’s Adventures in the Wild have come to a happy end. After the wayward cat refills her belly and catches up on her sleep, she will be interrogated and her story will be a matter of public record.

In the meantime, thanks to all who expressed concern, assisted in the hunt and provided advice and hope.

We are eternally grateful.

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#fluffycomehome

If you are sick of reading my struggles with our missing cat, then you probably aren’t reading this right now. You saw the tweet or the post on Facebook and rolled your eyes and scrolled through your stream.

If you are instead heartsick with me over the loss of a beloved pet, then bear with me as I list everything I’ve done to find this animal, and please tell me if you have new ideas.

Late night, early morning cat food bag shaking.

Anytime of day calling for her.

Trapping. With tuna fish.

“Lost Kitty” sign posting.

I’ve sent more than one email to our local community listserve, filed reports with the DC and Prince George’s animal shelters. I dragged my friend Rachel to go with me to the PG complex where we tried really hard to not make eye contact with any forlorn animals.

I used a pet rescue service where a volunteer brought her dog to sniff out Fluffy’s whereabouts. It yielded five places she’d been but she wasn’t in any of them at the time. Nor has she been there on my return visits.

I’ve knocked on doors. Trespassed into my neighbors’ yards. Brought Fang outside in her carrier hoping her meows and scent would call her sister home.

As mentioned before, my town councilwoman has been awesome. My friends have been outstanding. Two friends dreamed this weekend that she came back. Fluffy is not far from the minds of my inner circle.

And hopefully she’s still not far from home.

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Boston love

You know it’s been one hell of a week when it barely registers a blip on the screen that the president and a U.S. Senator both received ricin-filled letters.

I think as a nation we gave a collective sigh of relief on Friday night when “suspect #2” was apprehended in Watertown after 24 hours that felt too far fetched for a screenplay, let alone real life. Afterwards, Bostonians on lockdown all day went out for a drink. Or rather, several.

I wish I could have joined them.

I’ve spent the weekend being especially nostalgic for the city of my young adulthood. Boston is as much where I’m “from” as anywhere. I’d never even been to Boston when I arrived on her doorstep at age 18 for my freshman year of college at BU. But I immediately fell for her charms.

Boston is the first place I officially lived on my own. It’s where I experienced first true heartbreak. I made life long friends. It’s where I learned to take public transportation and walk through the city like you mean it. I learned to be hearty. And drink Guinness.

When I first arrived, I was overcome with delight to be in a dorm five blocks from Fenway Park, though dismayed that bleacher tickets cost $7.00. So I discovered college hockey, which was free with our student ID. Friday nights in the winter were dedicated to cheering our team, often to chants of “BC sucks.”

I love the accent. It sounds like home to me. I love the Dunkin Donuts on every corner and the absolute worship of ice cream. Ditto steamers. Lobster. Chowder. Head of the Charles. The Beanpot.

In Boston, I rented my first apartment. Got my first “real” job after a string of jobs that felt anything but unreal.

I learned to cook. Entertain. Mock the weather. I became obsessed with the idea of running the Boston Marathon. And took to the streets every Patriots Day to cheer runners on. I climbed the Citgo sign. Twice.

But then I left Boston, seeking professional opportunities I couldn’t get from the place that nurtured me, developed me, fed my soul.

But I miss her.

I find it somewhat extra poignant that my favorite bar (the Crossroads) closed its doors permanently this weekend. I can only imagine what Saturday night was like.

This too shall pass and eventually I will stop torturing my kids with the songs on repeat that remind me of Boston.

But until then, good times never seemed so good.

community spirit

When your house is five miles from a major city, and that major city is Washington, DC, you consider yourself to live in an urban area.

Or at least I do.

Cheverly (where is that?) is on a metro line, inside the beltway, dubbed “Capitol Hill East” by those Hill denizens who belong to our pool. Nestled between route 50 and I-295, it isn’t exactly Bedford Falls.

(Well, except for the wildlife. If I catch another raccoon, I’m making a Davy Crocket hat.)

Since posting to our little Cheverly listserve about the long lost Fluffy, I’ve been astonished by the huge small town calibre level of response. I immediately got a phone call from a woman offering to help. She sent me a link on finding lost cats, borrowed on my behalf the two traps I’ve been using (and gave me a tutorial on how to use them) and checks on our status everyday. People have responded to our “lost kitty” signs with concern, support and leads. And when the Cheverly Police called to tell me they took down said signs because posting is not legal, people offered to put yard signs on their lawns.

Yesterday, I received a phone call (and last night, a visit) from my Town Councilwoman offering her services to help.

And that’s not to mention the support all my friends are extending. From exploring abandoned burned out houses with me to walking/running the neighborhood with eyes wide open, everyone has responded in a heartwarming way.

I do believe I’m as overwhelmed by the outpouring of community spirit as I imagine Fluffy is by the Great Outdoors.

maximum capacity

We as a nation can’t seem to cut a break this week. The planets must need some serious realignment.

I have to admit that I’ve felt guilty not absorbing every word of news pertaining to the Boston Marathon bombing. I haven’t yet read Gabby Giffords’ reaction to last night’s failed gun vote in the Senate. A fertilizer plant exploded in Texas? Luckily I have NPR to tell me what I need to know.

While a lost cat seems trivial to all the tragedy that happens each second of the day the world over, it’s what I’m capable of focusing on in this minute. I can’t control whether a nut or nuts bomb an iconic U.S. sporting event (one that is dear to me in a city that used to be my home). I certainly can’t control how the U.S. Senate votes. But I can do everything in my power to find a beloved pet and return her to my devastated children.

While I believe as humans we have unlimited ability to love, laugh and show compassion, I also think there’s a maximum amount of sadness, fear, heartache and despair that one can shoulder.

So for this week, and hopefully it’s not even a full week, I focus my attention closer to home. I’m sadly cynically confident that there won’t be a lack of bigger issues awaiting my attention when our own family crisis is over.

three days and counting…

Tonight will mark three days since Fluffy disappeared. To keep my spirits up, I’ve been trying to think of it as “Fluffy’s Adventure in the Wild.” But each day gets harder, especially since I have to be the tone setter at home. When little boys cry, I try to remain upbeat. When they say they’re scared they’ll never see her again, I tell them to have faith. When my younger son showed me the “come home soon” card he made at school, I assured him Fluffy would love it and bit back the tears until after he went to bed.

Last night I set traps. The “humane” kind that don’t injure, just capture. I checked them every two hours during the night (and thus am on my third cup of coffee). My haul? A really angry orange tom cat, a skittish gray and white cat, and in the wee hours this morning, a raccoon. All were immediately freed, of course, and hopefully will be smart enough to not be lured back by the tempting scent of canned tuna.

Thank you all for your advice and support. I have talked to neighbors. Posted signs. Filed reports with DC and Prince Georges County animal shelters. I called my vet and the nearest vet to my house. Speaking of my house, yes I’ve checked every nook and cranny.

I love your stories of cats that have escaped and been gone several days only to be found close to home. They help and I remind myself (and the boys) of them constantly.

Tonight the kids are with their dad and I’m planning a full out assault. More trapping. Crawling in bushes and under houses. Checking the premises of a nearby home that recently experienced a fire and where a tabby cat has been spotted. It’s kind of far for a scaredy cat to travel by paw, but who knows.

Maybe it’s a chapter of Fluffy’s Adventure in the Wild.”

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come home

Having three cats makes me borderline crazy cat lady. I completely recognize that. It’s hard to admit sometimes, particularly to men, that three purring beings live in my home. But there’s a pet heartbeat for each of us, so that makes it acceptable.

Except we are missing one of those heartbeats right now. And that’s anything but okay. Fluffy has been gone about 36 hours now, if I’m calculating correctly how and when she slipped out the door without my noticing. Of course, because I have three cats, I didn’t detect her escape right away. It was 3:30am yesterday when I realized the warm blob in her usual spot in the middle of my bed was her sister, Fang. By 5:30am when I woke not to the pesky Fluffy begging to be fed, I sensed something was horribly amiss.

(I know that by sharing that last paragraph I do indeed solidify myself as a crazy cat lady. But why does no one call people who let dogs, big dogs even, sleep in their beds crazy dog people? Dogs drool, shed more, and have the potential to take up a significant portion of bed space. And they don’t purr. But I digress.)

I went outside with a bag of cat food and for nearly two hours called her name. I sent a message on my neighborhood listserve. But time was ticking so I went to work and steeled myself for the conversation I knew I’d have to have with my boys.

I left the office early to beat them home, armed with Fluffy’s favorite wet food, “lost kitty” signs to blanket the block with, and a confidence that she’d come back by dinner.

She didn’t.

After teary kids went to sleep, I walked the perimeter of my heavily treed yard and my neighbor’s bamboo wonderland, flashlight in hand. In one heart-stopping moment, I heard a literal cat fight. Or maybe it was a cat something else. They can make some noise. Noises I’ve never heard from a cat. Not sounds I ever want to hear again. I broke it, up but neither feline was my Fluffy.

At 11:30pm, I threw in the towel. I set out some open cans of food hoping the scent would draw her home. Not even five minutes later, I looked out my kitchen window to see a fox eating the food. Hopefully he’s nice and full now.

None of us slept. Jack even climbed in bed with me briefly, something he never does. Colin – my cat whisperer – called out to Fluffy in his sleep, and woke up twice to ask if she’d come home. So I got up for good at have been outside since 5:00am, her favorite hour to eat, because we have to find her.

I have to find her.

the outcome

They came. They saw. They conquered. My horrible overgrown yard, that is. Yesterday was my turn for 2013 and for more than the prescribed amount of time, my friends tangled with what can best be described as the evil thorny cousin of tumbleweed. They also pulled ivy. They cut down trees. They planted. Kara and Don bequeathed me a gazillion plants from their Cheverly house yard, not to mention the patio furniture and chimera that they no longer need now that they are urbanites living in Baltimore.

And the result? I have a yard. I have a place to sit and enjoy my quiet slice of peace outside the chaos of the city. I am already thinking of other things I want to plant, and I want to throw dinner parties out here before it gets too hot and buggy to enjoy.

Once again I find myself overcome with emotion over the dedication that a group of friends can display over projects that get shoved to the bottom of our own to do lists at home. I’m especially touched that my friend Rob, who said he couldn’t stay long because he had some deadlines he was stressed about, decided to stay well into the evening because he was “having fun.” And that’s the thing. It’s fun to help. It’s much more fun to be at another family’s Warriors day than it is to run your own. Because there is nothing like transforming a room, a yard, or whatever the object of change is and seeing the look on the face of the owner of said space at the end.

But with that said, in spite of the sore muscles, sunburn, and piles of debris in my front yard that need to be hauled away, this was the best Warriors ever. And I cannot thank my friends enough.

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Warriors 2.0

I have written before about the “book club for home improvement” my friends started and graciously invited me to join in 2012. Ten families. Ten months. We each get one turn to have four hours (or more) of help of raising the barn of our choosing.

I had my first turn in August 2012. Today is my 2013 turn.

And what a lovely day it is. I was nervous because the weather has been more erratic than my sex life (hot, cold, hot, cold) but that sassy minx Mother Nature appears to have delivered a beaut for us today, a day when I plan to tackle that beast of a yard my house rests upon.

I can’t predict exactly what we will accomplish but there will be a chainsaw involved.

Regardless of what gets checked off the list, I am looking forward to a day with my friends, and if last year’s Warriors day serves as any guide, I will cry tears of joy when it’s all over.

There will be after photos. Of the work, not the tears.

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she’s alive…

And she thanks you for your concern.

All kidding aside, it’s been rather humbling to get so many “why haven’t you written?” or “where are you?” or even “are you okay?” questions over the last several weeks. It turns out that when I don’t write, you assume I am: sick, overworked, overworking out, in love, in a style rut, too depressed, too happy and/or in Lake Como with George Clooney.

But the truth of the matter is, I just haven’t had the inclination to share. After a relatively short period of time (in blogger years) of presenting the details of my life in a very public way, I felt like keeping my thoughts more private. (“Private: [prahy-vit], adjective, personal and not publicly expressed; not usually applicable to blogging activity.”) Of course, I’ve started posts in my head, usually as I’m about to fall asleep. They never felt share-worthy in the morning . I’ve contemplated the copycat method, building off interesting posts written by the three bloggers  (Wardrobe OxygenDC Celine and Lemmonex) I take time to read.  But what I came up with always seemed forced and weak, not complementary to the original.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to write. I just didn’t want to write it. I kept my thoughts confined to my head and heart and shared with close friends in a more conventional format. That is, over dinners, wine, the phone and the occasional g-chat.

However, now a new season is upon us, and I’m going to try this writing thing again. Much like it’s hard to get back into an exercise routine after a break from the gym, I already feel this is going to be a difficult readjustment. My fingers aren’t quite as nimble on the keyboard. My brain is searching for the right words to make you want to check back to see if I’ve posted. But I want to maintain a balance between what’s going to be mine and what’s going to be yours.

In case you aren’t convinced as to why I’ve maintained radio silence, let me reassure you: I’m not sick (except a pesky head cold). I work decent hours (was oddly nostalgic for an all-nighter Senate vote-a-rama session recently). I haven’t been to Biker Barre in a week. I haven’t been on a date in awhile. I haven’t bought any new clothes (unless you count a date dress that’s awaiting the right occasion). I’m not depressed. I’m happy, but not distracted. And I’m not currently traveling with the newly single George Clooney.

Though if he plans to be in DC anytime soon, I have the perfect dress to wear to meet him for cocktails.