Monday, March 4, 2013


Here's Jack. I'm not even going to add "in a box" because you've already done that and are feeling pretty darned self-satisfied, aren't you?

There's a long sad tale about the leash law for cats in Pinellas County, Florida, and about the old woman a couple houses over who called Animal Control against my beloved critters. I've spent a week trying to protect them without forcing them indoors where there are no trees, no lizards, no breezes or gusts, no rays of sun, no blasts of rain, no unexplained noises, smells, or movements to explore.

That is, I've spent a week trying to figure out how to go against the ordinances without getting caught.

The most radical strategy was to relocate Jack. He was probably the culprit, if indeed any of my cats are. There's no proof that it's my cats who so upset the woman. I don't think she could pick them out from a lineup, not that anyone could get a clowder of cats to line up.

My buddy Mike met Jack when the kitten was less than a day old, along with his six siblings and their one exhausted, remorseful teenage mother. Mike's got a huge heart, as anyone knows who's met him, so he was the perfect recipient of the transfer – of the return actually. He'd had the whole litter for its first six weeks, and he's got other cats, including Jack's mother who has blossomed into a strong, healthy, spayed adult with many interests both inside and outside the home.

So on Thursday night, I wrestled Jack into a carrier. He objected, hissing at me for the first time in our three-year history. I didn't hiss. I sobbed.

Jack handled the integration into Mike's household by spitting, growling, and swatting at everyone until he was finally let out of the carrier, at which time he engaged Rico (or was it Bullet?) in fisticuffs, causing Mike to oust all but Jack and his mother (whom Jack refused to acknowledge, despite her early sacrifices). The cat had calmed down by the next morning, so he was allowed to go outside again.

And he never returned.

That's where the voodoo comes in. I'm as rational as the next one (ahem), but when my heart's involved I'm bobbled and thrashed along on a tsunami of emotions that has me begging to overpay for any bottle of snake oil.

So when a friend reminded me of the principle of feng shui that reduces negativity by aiming a mirror at the source of negativity, I hung a couple of mirrors facing both the complaining woman's house and that of her cohort, who has only used anonymous letters so far. For good measure, I'm going to buy another one and aim it at the cell-phone tower which is way too close to my house.

Another friend told me to smudge the property with sage. I'm all for that, except (1) I can never get up a good head of smoke and (2) it's embarrassing to walk around outside like that, where everyone can see me. Telling you about it – that's different. You might think I'm just being wise or funny – or insane. If you see me do it, however, you've got your answer.

I consulted my spiritual adviser, who told me to put the cats in pale green and yellow. I'm assuming she meant light, not sweaters. She told me to repeat I trust. I trust. That, actually, has helped a lot. I'm to push fear away, and to not even think about what might happen. I suspect that's a sneaky way of telling me to stay in the now.

A friend in Minnesota reminded me about the giant lump of rose quartz she'd given me. That helps ease an aching heart.

I chanted the St. Anthony prayer for lost things, even though referring to Jack as a thing seemed ... cold.

All this time, I was alternately crying like I hadn't cried since my parents died, big rib-cracking wailing ... and breathing deeply, thinking of pale green and yellow, stumbling along, trying to follow instructions, trying to be hopeful.

Men, too, have their voodoo. An emailing man checked in often to inquire how I was holding up. That felt good. That meant I had allies, which was hard to remember when I felt so persecuted. Mike came over with Ben & Jerry's and Girl Scout Cookies. That had a calming effect on me.

And then Sunday morning, behold: Jack was at the kitchen window.

So Jack is back and the old woman is still a threat, but I've got my fingers crossed. We had a big wind come through last night. I worried about my mirrors breaking, but not about seven years of bad luck. Please. I'm not superstitious.