Hijacked Math and the Disappearing Cat

I knew this was going to be a strange day from the get-go. First order of business each morning is to write math review problems on the board. I have a favorite website for just such things. The problems are already made up. Answers provided. No pulling that stuff out of my head when I’ve exhausted what comes with our curricula. It’s absolutely fabulous.

Normally I’d be thrilled to share such information with my loyal readers (all two of you). But clicking on the bookmark for the math website today did not exactly produce the results I wanted. Sometime between Thursday morning and today, the site was hacked. It’s landing page was replaced with that of a rinky-dink automotive garage located in Kingston, Ontario, exactly 1,363 miles from my home.

“This route has tolls.”

“This route crosses a country border.”

Oh, me… Not helpful… At all.

My husband is usually home during the day while Kat and I take care of her homeschool work. One of the things that keeps Sam busy is cat wrangling Dobby and Hermione, sisters from the same litter, almost a year old. There was a third cat, Harry, but she was killed a couple of months ago — run over by a car, we believe.

(Yes, I realize Harry is a boy’s name. You can read her story and learn how she got stuck being called “Harry” here.)

Sam was gone before I got up this morning.  He left Kathryn with explicit instructions about cat care in his absence. She was not to let the cats outdoors unless someone was available to check on them regularly.

Since we lost Harry, we’ve been almost obsessive about keeping an eye on the other two. Our brains tell us that there’s no way to keep indoor/outdoor cats from roaming off our property and exploring the neighborhood. But our hearts are having a difficult time not being anxious when we glance outside and don’t see them.

After waking up, having coffee, and discovering the automotive garage where algebraic equations used to be, I let the cats out the back door. Kathryn relayed her dad’s wishes about their care.

“No problem,” I said. “I’m up now. I’ll keep an eye on them.”

Kat and I plow through a marathon math session despite the website snafu. Dobby has since cried to be let back in and is curled up in a kitchen cabinet. Hermione naps outdoors under the BBQ grill.

Next up, spelling and vocabulary test. Done. Check on cats again. Hermione still snoozing in the shade.

Science video on anions and cations follows. Cations… how ironic! Oh, wait… irony belongs in literary analysis.

Somebody goes out back to the laundry room. All is still well with Hermione.

Lunch break and then it’s American government… and that’s where the little stinker slipped away, nowhere to be found. Actually the study of American government makes Kathryn and me want to slip away, too.

At first I do not panic. There’s lots of places on our property to hide. I make the rounds out back, checking the porch, laundry room, under bushes, in trees, behind trees, peeking in the old rundown shed, looking on the roof. I call quietly, and then louder and louder. I stand still and listen in various spots. Nothing.

Time is ticking by.  I try the front yard, which is not fenced and dangerously close to the street. Cars and loose dogs are real dangers. No Hermione. Not in the hedge or the bushes or under a car or anywhere to be seen or heard.

Now I’m starting to feel really sick. My thoughts turn to Harry. I fear the same or worse has happened to Hermione. Poor Sam found and buried Harry. I could not bear the thought of him driving down our road towards home to discover another of our cats like that. To make matters worse, he was away from home doing a good deed for my mother. And here I am doing a right poor job of babysitting his cats.

I decided an enticement was in order, so I brought a bowl and spoon outside and retraced my steps to every single place I’d already searched, loudly banging the spoon against the ceramic and hoping this would produce a cat. It produced a cat alright, but not the right one. Dobby began to follow closely under foot, hoping for a tasty morsel of cheese or turkey. No Hermione… not even a little “mew.”

I know now what I have to do. I must get in the car and drive the neighborhood to look for her before Sam gets home. At this point, she’s only been missing two hours at most. But I am convinced that something bad has happened because she will not answer me.  And I am determined that Sam should not have to deal with the demise of cat number two.

I head for the house and make a mental note of what to take with me: towel (not quite sure why but seems like a good idea), car keys, cell phone, wallet, proper shoes. At this point I glance down at my feet and a rather embarrassing realization sinks in. I have been wearing my pajama pants all day long. Apparently the automotive garage thing threw such a “monkey wrench” (pun intended) into my plans that I forgot about changing into proper clothes.

Pajama day is normally not a problem or even an unusual occurrence for homeschoolers. However, a forty-something-year-old woman darting to and fro in full view of the neighbors, still wearing pajamas an hour past high noon, screeching loudly and making an obnoxious racket with dishes and silverware… that is “abnormal” in the flesh. Might as well put up a sign that reads, “Crazy lives here.”

I put on more suitable clothing, grab the needed items, and stop to tell Kat where I’m going. She continues to search our property while I drive the neighborhood.

Thoughts that run through my head on this trip:

“Hello there, nice repairman. How are you? No, I don’t technically belong here. Ignore the sketchy lady driving slowly down the street, please… Unless you’ve seen a gray tabby cat.”

“Please don’t call the police, nice man who lives on the block behind me. I promise I’m not casing your place for later.”

“Oh, dear… a bona fide policeman. He’s off duty. At home today. And I just made yet another slow lap past his house. This might not end well. At least I’m not still wearing pajamas.”

I decide to search another street and then complete the mile or so circle back home. No Hermione. When I pull into the driveway, Kathryn is waiting. No news from her end, either. She offers to ride with me for another pass through to help me look. We drove very slowly back through the area, and even to a few streets I hadn’t tried before. Still no cat. Well, we saw a couple. None of them ours.

By this time I’d been searching for almost an hour and a half. There was nothing to do but head home and face whatever disappointment Sam would have on his return. I knew I should have declared today a holiday and gone back to bed when I found that hijacked website.

Dobby was out back when we left. She never goes far. However, I figured it would look pretty bad to tell Sam I lost one cat and left the second out back when I went to search for the first. Time to convince Dobby to come inside.

Something rustled in the shadows under the azalea bush. I glanced over and saw gray tabby fur. Dobby, or so I thought… Out rolled that big, fat stinker Hermione!

My suspicion is that Hermione had sneaked away through a gap in the fence just around the corner from the bush and had returned home about the time we did. That is the usual path she takes when she decides to make a break for it and visit the neighbors. About the time we were listing the Functions of American Government, she was probably plotting to take over the world.

In just a moment or two, Dobby joined us. All was well in Catville again.

Sam arrived home less than half an hour later. After all the cat wrangling he’s done lately, he was highly sympathetic, and amused at my embarrassment over the pajamas and fear the cops would pull me over any minute. I was relieved to have an extra set of eyes on our girls.

My plans for a nap after schoolwork was finished didn’t exactly work out. But this afternoon wasn’t a total loss. It did confirm one thing I’ve suspected for some time. Sam and I have officially joined the ranks of “Crazy Cat People.” I’d like my T-shirt in purple, please, to match my pajama pants.


© 2015-2016 Our Lives in Stories


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