Four days earlier, during a rain storm that had helped our lawn achieve jungle status, Bo The Dumb Dog had opened our back door and let himself in. He dug through our trash, probably ordered some porn on pay-per-view, and then let himself back out when the rain stopped. In the meantime, the door to the back yard was open and the cats, Leonard and Sheldon, let their curiosity take them where Daughter 2 was afraid to let them go: outside.
We came home that fateful afternoon to discover the back door still open, trash strewn through the house, and the cats missing. Bo The Dumb Dog was sitting just on the other side of the door. He smelled like one of my wine coolers, and he looked very proud of himself.
"The cats are gone!" Daughter 2 cried as she ran through the house, checking all of their favorite hiding spots.
"Don't worry," I consoled her, "Cats always come back. Everyone says they do." And, just to secure his place in my heart as my favorite Sheldon came back not even ten minutes later.
That night as another summer storm moved in, I just knew we'd find Leonard crying on our front porch. We did not. Daughter 2 was crushed.
The next day, we roamed the neighborhood hollering for our wayward cat. He did not holler back. Daughter 2 was quickly losing hope.
The day after that as we drove to town, I prayed that we wouldn't see his flattened body on the side of the road much like the neighborhood squirrels. Then I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving when we didn't see that.
And on day four, as I cut and bailed the front yard, The Daughters and the new neighbor had found him.
"Momma! We found Leonard! He's in a tree in our back yard!"
I stopped the mower and raced through the garage, grabbing a step stool. Daughter 2 stopped me. "He's really high."
I grabbed the ladder. "No, higher," she said. I dragged the ladder out back anyway. What did she know about height?
A lot. She knew a lot about height. Leonard was about 30 feet up our neighbor's pecan tree. His particular branch was on our side of the fence. His mews, however, spanned the radius of about five blocks.
I set the ladder up and crawled to the top rung, resting my butt against the privacy fence, promising God that if he wouldn't let that particular panel fall into my neighbor's yard, bringing my large-boned self with it, I would go on a diet. (Related: Anyone else on My Fitness Pal? Look me up.) I didn't fall, and I couldn't reach poor Leonard, who continued to cry.
I spied a jumprope on our patio and made a make-shift lasso. I hustled to top of the ladder yet again, leaned my huge hiney against the fence. I swung the rope around my head like I was Roy Rogers and then flung it in the general direction of the cat. I firmly believe that I would have roped that little
doggie damn cat had I actually held on to one end of the rope.
I climbed from the ladder and grabbed a piece of paneling that we had used as a bridge over a mud hole when we were setting up the trampoline. I climbed back up the ladder dragging the paneling behind me. I rested my bodacious bohunkus against the fence yet again and held the paneling panel up to the tree. It missed Leonard by a good six feet.
In the meantime, The Daughters and The New Neighbor Girl started yanking on Leonard's limb and pulling it as far as they could to the ground, thinking they could create a tree ramp for Leonard to climb down. He continued to cry and clung harder to his branch.
"Daughter 1," I hollered. "Grab my phone from my pocket."
"To call the fire department?"
"Great idea, but I was actually just wanting a picture for my blog."
She refused. Kids these days.
I climbed down and, thanks to Daughter 1, decided to give the fire department a call. I told myself a picture of a sensitive and hunky fireman would be better for my blog anyway.
It turns out, however, that they only rescue cats in the cartoons. Really.
I called animal control. She said that as soon as she tracked down the three rascally dogs that were tearing up a local park, captured a boa constrictor from a car at the mall and chased a skunk from down town, she'd be right out to see what she could do. I told her to bring a tall--really, really tall--ladder.
In the meantime, Leonard was crying louder, and Daughter 2 was becoming more and more frantic.
I cursed the fact that we technically didn't even have a tree in our back yard, yet trees were always causing us trouble. We had mountains of leaves to rake up in the fall, and in the summer they always littered our pool ...
I grabbed the skimmer from the pool house and trekked up the ladder yet again. I rested my roomy rump against the privacy fence yet again. I sighed and prayed, "Diet. Got it." Then I extended the extra-long pool skimmer up to Leonard.
He would have nothing to do with it.
"C'mon, cat!" I hollered and tried to scoop him up. He mewed louder and moved from the net. I tried to scoop again, as best as I could scoop from ten feet away. He moved closer to the girls who were still bending the branch toward the ground.
We played this little scoop-move-holler game about seven more times before Leonard was close enough for Daughter 1 to reach up and snag him.
An excited meow escaped from Leonard as Daughter 1 pulled him to her chest.
Joyous shouts filled the air!
The three girls raced to the house to get Leonard food and water. They let go of the branch just as the pool skimmer caught a stray limb that was now flying upward.
The branch whacked me in the face; the now-hung-up pole flipped me sideways, and my shorts caught onto the privacy fence behind me as the ladder s l o w l y fell to the ground. I scrambled to find something to break my fall.
Somehow, I didn't get injured. Too badly. Not that anyone cared anyway. The cat was home, and that's all that mattered.