The CallerID information on my cell phone guaranteed I wasn't going to enjoy the interaction.

I received a call today from my mother. Now, normally, I enjoy talking to her. However, she's been having a bit of a tough time recently for a number of reasons. To cap it off, a couple of weeks ago, her favorite cat vanished. This is something that all owners of 'outside cats' dread. I had told her numerous times that this was a possibility - not to prepo an 'I told you so' but because I knew it was something she wasn't really prepared for, despite her nightly almost-panicked session of calling for the cats to come in the house.

My parents live in a rural area, next to the main two-lane highway through the region (and only main road). There are hunters in season, there are tractors on fields around the house, and there are occasionally just mean-spirited jerks with .22s or shotguns and not much to do. There are predators of all kinds. There are all manner of poisonous things a cat might eat - or that its prey might eat.

In short, it's not that the cat did anything stupid (for a cat) or even made a mistake. The odds are stacked against them, up there.

However, this cat had made it a couple of years, after her predecessor had been hit by a car almost immediately after being adopted as a kitten. She was a proud (and fierce) hunter, bringing field mice, shrews and birds into the house to play with until they stopped moving - and then, always, she ate what she caught. We'd started treating Mom's predictable nightly cat-calls with amusement and (I am guilty to realize) some derision - on the premise that 'if you're going to have an outside cat in the boonies, deal.' My mother is a crazy cat lady; when did that happen?

A couple of weeks ago, the cat didn't come home.

My family searched everywhere they could, and found no sign. There were several cats missing from the village they live in, and they had seen a fox in their front yard a couple of times. Normally, foxes would avoid cats (and vice versa) since they're both after roughly the same prey - but the Fish & Wildlife department explained to Mom that in the midsummer, foxes are teaching their kits to hunt. Thus, August is the only month of the year, typically, where 'domestic animals' might suffer their privations.

Not good.

Mom tearfully told me that a couple of times, she'd heard faint meowing when in the front yard. She'd searched every time, and found no sign of Sweetie (yes, the cat is named Sweetie; I was scandalized by this until I met her, because...well...that was her name). I attempted to comfort my mother a few days ago, because she was suffering tremendous guilt that the night Sweetie had gone, the other cat had been anxious in the kitchen - usually a sign of trouble - and Mom hadn't gone into the yard to check in the middle of the night when she was getting a glass of water. Had she done so, she was sure, she would have been able to save the cat.

Now, my mother is, in fact, 'loading' an enormous amount of her current problems onto this straightforward real-world one. She's ascribing guilt to herself enormously and has her emotions bound up in her cats - too much, perhaps - because she's under stress, is working hard, and for any number of other reasons I don't know or understand right now.

I explained that if a fox had taken Sweetie, there's no doubt she (or he) could have killed the cat - but that there was very little likelihood that s/he could have done so silently. Sweetie was a night hunter - and while a fox could certainly kill her in a straight fight, there's no way I can conceive of that she could have been surprised. The noise would have been awful, and there would have been no doubt what was going on. I've been in the yard when Sweetie's brother tried to sneak up on her, leading to a catfight - and a couple of times, it's escalated to a racket that no-one would be able to sleep through a mere fifteen feet away with open windows.

But today she called me.

She was crying again, and she told me that she'd heard the meows (she realizes) near one area of the house every time - near where there is a fairly large porch, walled off from the foundation. Today, there's a 'smell' near there.

When trying to comfort her over the past two or three weeks, I didn't dwell on the tendency of cats to come home and hide when injured. I've seen other relatives' cats do that when hit by a car, for example.

I just spoke to my father. They pulled the siding off the porch area, and there's a stench. They're very, very sure the cat is in there.

I don't know what to say. If my mother wasn't hearing things, then the cat was alive under the porch and unable to come out for at least a week and a half after she went missing. She would have died literally underneath her family's feet.

I know, intellectually, that it's not our fault. I know that this is the kind of thing that happens. I know that this cat, adopted from a barn, had two and half (three?) years of perhaps the happiest life I've seen a cat live.

None of that is going to make a difference when I think of her under the porch, dying.

I'm worried about my Mom. I love her, and I know this is hurting her terribly.

This is an email sent from a rescue worker who's doing what she can in New Orleans right now in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It's taken from a blog called boingboing.net. I followed the link from Salon.com, and I'm putting it here because I don't want to lose it.

There are dead animals floating in the water, pets left behind. Surely people thought they would be back to collect the pets. Not so. The rescuers smell like gas when they come back in; there's gas in all of the water that consumes the area. Fires are burning all over the place. Our teams are tired and they are thirsty and they are hungry. And they have a place to sleep and water to drink and food to eat. I can only imagine how the people without these "luxuries" are feeling right now. Each night will be a race against time. When night falls, people can't get picked up from roofs, the rescuers can't chop into people's roofs to check the attics for anyone alive or for anyone dead (sadly, there are dead). At night we can't see power lines we can't see obstacles, we can't see any of the things that will bring down a helicopter or pose a danger to boats rescuers.

One of the teams came in today after having been out for hours at a time. One particular rescuer went straight to a corner and collapsed into tears. I went directly to him and just held his hand. What else could I do? I said nothing. He said it all. They lowered him 26 times and he pulled 26 people to safety. He wants to be back out there but there are mandatory rest periods. His tears are tears of frustration.

Entire teams are working on nothing but evacuating the hospitals. All four of the major hospitals are beginning to flood. Critical patients have to get out or surely they will be lost. Generators cannot run forever; that's just the way it is. There are limited facilities to take those that are rescued and those that need to be evacuated. Anything that leaves by air leaves by helicopter. There are no runways for planes that aren't under water. Only one drivable way in and out.

Water everywhere and more keeps coming. Until they can do something about the three levees that are broken, more water will come and more water will kill. The water poses major health threats. Anyone with even a small open cut is prone to infection. Anyone who touches this water and touches his eyes, nose or mouth without find a way to "clean" himself first will be sick with stomach problems before long. It's bad and it's getting worse. It's not going to be anything better than devastating for days or weeks at best.

I wish I could tell you that I'll check in again soon. I can't. I don't know when my next message will get out. We'll be leaving where we are within just an hour or so.

This rips me in half.

I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for most of my childhood and all of my adult life. My mother and all of her family are from there. It's my home.

I was there in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit. I saw the devastation that happened, and I was devastated myself. My beautiful city seemed ruined beyond all repair.

I was so proud of my town when her people pulled together and rebuilt. I can honestly say it's an even more lovely place now than it was before that storm.

But it was never under water.

I look at pictures from New Orleans and I just weep. It makes me despair.

I don't know what else to say, other than that my heart goes out to all the people who call that gorgeous old city home. I have no idea whether or not she will even be salvageable. I've been crying for days now, and I cannot even imagine what you folks are going through.

My family is donating to the Red Cross. I wish we could do more.

POINT/COUNTERPOINT:
Tyler Evans
, Grade 4, Miss Bell's Class, Shady Grove Elementary
and
Vichizzle McNizzle, Pimp Daddy


Hurricane Katrina

Vichizzle: Yo muthafuckas, there be some fucked up shit goin down they in N'awlins. Fer real, dawg. First of all, that big fuckin sea ho Katrina comes flingin her windy tits into tha Gulf Coast and tearin it up. They thought it wuz gun kick some major N'awlins booty but she axtually does a major blow job on Gulf Port, Mississipaayy! Blows that fucker up! There be mo shit layin around aftah that than one o my hotel rooms on a Sunday mornin, knowhaddi'msayin? So aftah dat, everybody be thinkin that N'awlins got off lucky, get a little bit o water outta small part of the city and they be all a'tizzle again. But then shit goes bad. FUCK. Them fuckin levees break and all kinds of H2-HO from that Lake Ponchawhatthefuckyoucallit be cole spillin into the great streets of the Louisiana haven of drinkin, smokin, fuckin, and suckin.

Now fuckas down they have no powah, be in twentayy feet o water filled with shit (and I mean shit fo real), nastayyy chemicals, and dead muthafuckas be floatin round in it, too. And they crazy muthafuckas be wadin in dat shit, either tryin to get the fuck out, or lootin! Dat right. They fuckin stealin clothes an radios. What the fuck mattah wit dem? Suriously. Where they fuck they gonna plug they new big screen tvs and CD playahs into? They gonna float 'em all the fuck to Texasss? Shit. All I know, the Vichizz be glad his ass ain't down there. But I'm a lil wurried. Few o my hos be down there gettin me some fine Southern weed and I ain't heard from 'em. Lot o y'alls be thinkin all us pimps be turrible to our hos, bitchslappin 'em around an shit, like yo see in da movies. But, least fo Vichizz, I don do dat. I good to my hos. Dat right. I fuck anybody up who fucks wit 'em. And I wurry bout 'em when they in trouble. I could hawlay sleep lass night. Course that coulda been cuz o that good shit I snorted fo crashin.

But anyways, my main point is, dat shit down there is sad and I wish 'em well, even the stupid muthafuckas, and makes the Vichizz sad to hur that maybe thousands be dead. I know I come off all cole and harsh an shit, but the Vichizz gots a heart. My line o work, though, gotta be a hardass most of the time, dat juss the way it is, knowhaddi'msayin? I juss hope it's back to normal by the time Mardi Gras rolls around, yo. Don't know what the Vichizz would do without his annual tiffyfest.

Tyler: Recently a really bad huricane hit the city of New Orleans and some other place in Missisippi. Its name was Katrina. Most people thought it was going to blow away New Orleans but mostly it destroyed that place in Missisipi. Then everybody thought that New Orleans was safe, but some dams broke and water from that lake spilled into the streets and flooded the whole city. Some people went to the football stadium for safety. My dad said he thought it was eyeronic that their team is called Saints when the entire city is always filled with a bunch of sinners.

Yeah, my dad says that they had it coming, that it is God's wrath on them like Sadam and Gommorah. He says that city was filled with sinners and hores doing all kinds of drugs and bad stuff and God flooded it like he did the entire world a really long time ago. He said that a bunch of gay people were about to have one of their parades right after the huricane hit. He said it was not a coinsidence. But I was watching the huricane stuff on TV and they showed that one guy who lost his wife over and over, and it made me sad. Why would God make people so sad? Will God someday flood my friend Bobby Miller's house? My dad says he's probably a little fairy with the way he walks and because he might be gay he doesn't let me hang out with him anymore. I would miss Bobby if that happened.

My new teacher Miss Bell says that next week the school is going to have a bake sale to help the victims of the hurricane. Would it be going against God to try to help them if he's trying to kill them all? I am very confused. But I guess I'll sell some of my mom's muffins anyway. They're very good. My dad tried to keep her from doing it but she said a really bad word to him and did it anyway.

Vichizzle: Hey, juss heard from one o my hos, she be callin in da cell phone at the edge of some bridge down there where peoples be gettin signals. I all glad an shit that she be OK, but she got sepurated from the utha ho while they be partyin at one o those ho-tels. Don't know where she at. Fuck. And she lost all that fuckin weed down there, too. There goes that par-taay I wuz plannin next week!

Tyler: They say is a lot of poop floating around in the water down there because people are going to the bathroom in it. Ewwww. Why aren't they using the toilets? Maybe they are a bunch of animals like my Dad says. I might eat most of the muffins. They look so good!


11/24/04 == 12/20/04 == 12/21/04 == 12/30/04 == 01/31/05 == 02/10/05 == 02/14/05 == 05/18/05 == 07/25/05 == 09/01/05 == 10/24/05 == 12/22/05 == 07/20/06 == 10/31/06 == 02/07/07 == 07/13/07 == 12/18/07 == 9/17/08

I woke up yesterday at six and promptly went back to sleep. Duty, however, called, and I went over to my girlfriend’s house to move (most of) my stuff out of her spare bedroom and living room, where it’s been living since the end of July; her mother (who lives on New Orleans’ West Bank) had decided to come up to Oxford from Baton Rouge, where she’d taken refuge after Hurricane Katrina with my girlfriend’s sister. Pretty much everything that would fit in a car is moved; the only things left are a large bookcase and my chest of drawers.

Of course, after I moved all that (heavy) stuff, her mother decided not to come until Monday or so.

Got paid around two o’clock, so I went to the tax assessor’s office in the Chancery Building on Lamar to get a car tag for the Dodge Intrepid I bought from Dana on Sunday. I’m satisfied with the car, particularly given what I paid for it. It does need some stuff done to it–well, a lot of stuff, actually. But it’s mostly stuff that can be done one thing at a time as I have the money.

Work was slow but irksome. The expeditor kept going outside for long breaks, at one point leaving Thomas and me to take care of things for half an hour. As I said, we were slow, so there was no problem getting orders out, but still, that’s just unacceptable: I’m not getting paid for standing in the expeditor’s window.

I’d intended to go straight home after work, but I decided to stop in at Ajax and say hello, since it was just after 10 (we’d closed the kitchen at Volta around 9:40). Chatted with Joey for a little while when he got off work, but he’d worked a double, so he went home after having his shift beer (I still don’t understand how he can drink Miller High Life). Keylon and I compared notes on Croft vs political science. At some point I found out that the Preacher’s Kids were playing at the Longshot, so–since by this time it was already 11:30–I decided to go over there. Crowded. Packed. I’ve never seen that place so full–though of course, I rarely go in there. Shortly after I got there, Tyler and the boys started playing. There was much rockage. Chatted with Gina after the show, and then walked home.

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