Neighbors


The neighbors have been great about stopping by and introducing themselves since we moved to our hundred-year-old house three months ago. There's Earl. Darwin. Pickles. And this timid male who comes frequently but as of yet hasn't introduced himself. Oh, and Patches, of course.

Evil Patches.

These cats come at regular times throughout the day to visit our cat Alex and to partake of the bountiful bowl of cheap kibble my son fills every morning. The bowl of food (and usually a bowl of milk as well) sits on a plastic Rubbermaid cube, three by three by three, that houses summer flip flops, old work shoes, and other smelly footwear from which my children refuse to part.

Earl, a beautiful grey male, comes in the morning, eats daintily, then settles in for a nap beside Alex, both cats' tails gently moving in the misty morning light.

Sometime around noon, Darwin, the new cat from overseas, leaps onto the front porch, walks along a piece of white trim past the dining room, around the corner to the kitchen windows and on to the back porch.

The dogs are indignant at the cats' visitations. Tails up, ears up, they stand at the window, barking, turning around at me, wondering why I don't intervene with these freeloaders who, unlike Alex, don't bring me presents of chipmunks and mice, setting them at my feet with a proud and gentle mew.

But I let them eat.

All except Evil Patches who beat up Alex on his first night in the neighborhood.

Evil Patches is not welcome here.


* * *

We set up a card game at the kitchen table last night after dinner. My son didn't want to play. He wanted to spend time on the computer.

"Your eyes are turning into squares," I said, referring to the shape of our ancient monitor. "You need to spend some time with your family. Come and play."

He sighed and got out the cards. I put on the tea kettle. My daughter shuffled the deck. My husband shuffled in in his slippers and pajamas to join us. The dogs romped around in the kitchen and fell asleep as we settled into our game.

"Your turn," I told my daughter.

She was looking outside. "Raccoon."

"That's not..." I began and turned to see a massive raccoon sitting on the shoe cube eating the cat food. We set our cards down. My daughter snapped a picture. My son tapped the window. The dogs napped at my feet.

My husband stood and went to the door, opening and shutting it several times in quick succession.

The raccoon continued to eat.

I got up to put the kettle back on. "What are you doing?" I said to my husband, still slamming the back door.

"Trying to scare him away."

"Why don't you just let him finish eating? He'll leave when the food is gone."

"He'll beat up Alex," my husband said.

Good point. The raccoon clearly had fifteen pounds on our cat.

My husband slammed the door a final time and headed to the basement, returning moments later tossing a miniature soccer ball from one hand to the other.

"What are you doing?" I asked again.

"I'm going to lob this at him," my husband said.

"Don't let him in the house," I said, watching the raccoon, who looked rather comfortable on the shoe cube, more comfortable, in fact than Darwin or Earl or even Alex ever had. "He may have rabies."

My husband opened the door a crack.

Tentatively stuck out a slippered foot.

Brought the foot back in and closed the door.

Opened the door.

Stuck out a foot.

Brought the foot in.

Closed the door.

While my children watched, my husband studied his slipper, wondering whether the teeth of a raccoon could penetrate the threadbare fabric.

The tea kettle whistled. I turned off the stove.

My husband opened the door. Stuck out his hand. Stuck out his head. Aimed. And fired.

The raccoon skidded off the shoe cube. My husband skittered out in his pajamas to retrieve the food bowl and skittered back in.

The raccoon returned, hauling itself back up onto the shoe cube. He looked around expectantly. Sniffed at the water bowl. My daughter snapped another picture. My son tapped the window. We studied the black mask. The long fingers. The bushy tail. Watching this raccoon--if only for a few moments--was much more interesting than any computer game could ever be.

The raccoon pressed its nose against the kitchen window a final time then leapt from the shoe cube and disappeared into the night.

"Whose turn?" I asked and took a sip of tea.

Only then, did the dogs wake and begin to bark.




Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Neighbors

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Neighbors


The neighbors have been great about stopping by and introducing themselves since we moved to our hundred-year-old house three months ago. There's Earl. Darwin. Pickles. And this timid male who comes frequently but as of yet hasn't introduced himself. Oh, and Patches, of course.

Evil Patches.

These cats come at regular times throughout the day to visit our cat Alex and to partake of the bountiful bowl of cheap kibble my son fills every morning. The bowl of food (and usually a bowl of milk as well) sits on a plastic Rubbermaid cube, three by three by three, that houses summer flip flops, old work shoes, and other smelly footwear from which my children refuse to part.

Earl, a beautiful grey male, comes in the morning, eats daintily, then settles in for a nap beside Alex, both cats' tails gently moving in the misty morning light.

Sometime around noon, Darwin, the new cat from overseas, leaps onto the front porch, walks along a piece of white trim past the dining room, around the corner to the kitchen windows and on to the back porch.

The dogs are indignant at the cats' visitations. Tails up, ears up, they stand at the window, barking, turning around at me, wondering why I don't intervene with these freeloaders who, unlike Alex, don't bring me presents of chipmunks and mice, setting them at my feet with a proud and gentle mew.

But I let them eat.

All except Evil Patches who beat up Alex on his first night in the neighborhood.

Evil Patches is not welcome here.


* * *

We set up a card game at the kitchen table last night after dinner. My son didn't want to play. He wanted to spend time on the computer.

"Your eyes are turning into squares," I said, referring to the shape of our ancient monitor. "You need to spend some time with your family. Come and play."

He sighed and got out the cards. I put on the tea kettle. My daughter shuffled the deck. My husband shuffled in in his slippers and pajamas to join us. The dogs romped around in the kitchen and fell asleep as we settled into our game.

"Your turn," I told my daughter.

She was looking outside. "Raccoon."

"That's not..." I began and turned to see a massive raccoon sitting on the shoe cube eating the cat food. We set our cards down. My daughter snapped a picture. My son tapped the window. The dogs napped at my feet.

My husband stood and went to the door, opening and shutting it several times in quick succession.

The raccoon continued to eat.

I got up to put the kettle back on. "What are you doing?" I said to my husband, still slamming the back door.

"Trying to scare him away."

"Why don't you just let him finish eating? He'll leave when the food is gone."

"He'll beat up Alex," my husband said.

Good point. The raccoon clearly had fifteen pounds on our cat.

My husband slammed the door a final time and headed to the basement, returning moments later tossing a miniature soccer ball from one hand to the other.

"What are you doing?" I asked again.

"I'm going to lob this at him," my husband said.

"Don't let him in the house," I said, watching the raccoon, who looked rather comfortable on the shoe cube, more comfortable, in fact than Darwin or Earl or even Alex ever had. "He may have rabies."

My husband opened the door a crack.

Tentatively stuck out a slippered foot.

Brought the foot back in and closed the door.

Opened the door.

Stuck out a foot.

Brought the foot in.

Closed the door.

While my children watched, my husband studied his slipper, wondering whether the teeth of a raccoon could penetrate the threadbare fabric.

The tea kettle whistled. I turned off the stove.

My husband opened the door. Stuck out his hand. Stuck out his head. Aimed. And fired.

The raccoon skidded off the shoe cube. My husband skittered out in his pajamas to retrieve the food bowl and skittered back in.

The raccoon returned, hauling itself back up onto the shoe cube. He looked around expectantly. Sniffed at the water bowl. My daughter snapped another picture. My son tapped the window. We studied the black mask. The long fingers. The bushy tail. Watching this raccoon--if only for a few moments--was much more interesting than any computer game could ever be.

The raccoon pressed its nose against the kitchen window a final time then leapt from the shoe cube and disappeared into the night.

"Whose turn?" I asked and took a sip of tea.

Only then, did the dogs wake and begin to bark.




Labels: ,

4 Comments:

At October 9, 2013 at 4:14 AM , Blogger j umbaugh said...

Funny!

 
At October 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM , Blogger Jayne Martin said...

Nothing like country living.

 
At October 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM , Blogger Deborah Batterman said...

Really delightful. . . . I love the way you depict the cats and that the raccoon adventure got your son away from the computer. And those dogs -- sleeping through it all. Can't help but be reminded of a night, years ago, when a raccoon was being very noisy, trying to get into a garbage bin of ours. My husband managed to scare it away my making even more noise.

 
At October 11, 2013 at 3:00 AM , Blogger Comingeast said...

Loved the descriptions! Your husband's antics cracked me up because my husband would have been the same way. And thanks for recommending my writing to Sandra! I am so humbled.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home