There’s an aluminum ladder sitting in the back yard, just under the small kitchen window over my stove. It arrived at this location quite a few years ago when one fine spring day my husband and I locked ourselves out of the house. The plan had been to open the window I knew to not be locked, and I, being the smaller of the two of us, would scramble through over the stove and let him into the house. The plan didn’t work, as we couldn’t get the window open, so we ended up breaking in through the laundry room. The ladder remained where we’d placed it, because it was as good a place as any other for it to sit and wait to be needed again. It has also served as a gentle reminder to never leave the house without making sure I have my keys.
Over the years, various and sundry colony cats have perched atop that ladder and peered into our kitchen, as though the activities in my kitchen were a movie or play put on just for them. They’ve watched me cook meals, paint paintings, plan and finish all manner of projects. They’ve also watched the antics of the house cats, and on pleasant days, when I’ve thrown open the windows, information between the two cat worlds has been exchanged. Sometimes, when I’m late to feed the colony, one of them will sing loudly for their supper. So long as there are cats in the window, the ladder will never be removed.
It delights me when Cali Coco or Bonkers is sitting there when I stumble to the kitchen to make the morning coffee or to have a cat watching over my dinner preparations. There have been cats in the kitchen window for so long now, it would feel strange if they weren’t there. A cat sitting on a ladder outside my kitchen window is a fixed object in the scenery of my life, which is why I sometimes merely note a cat being there, without paying too much mind to said cat. This is especially true if the colony cats have already been fed, and their reason for peering into the window isn’t to remind me their bowls are empty, or if I am intently focused on whatever it is that brought me to the kitchen. Tonight, I was deeply focused on kneading dough for a pizza crust when I noticed a cat on the ladder.
It was just a brief glimpse, as I moved to grab more flour to add to the too wet dough. “Brown cat, must be Bonkers,” my brain noted. It wasn’t until I’d finished kneading and stretching the future pizza crust and turned to put it in the oven that I realized the cat was not a cat. It had its back to me, but the fur was all wrong. Too fluffy, and the body was far too round and not at all cat-like. Then it turned to look at me. A cat-sized raccoon! I tapped on the window, hoping it would run away, but instead it pawed at the window glass, as if it had seen the colony cats do just this very thing and be rewarded with full bowls of kibble.
Alas, the trick didn’t work for the raccoon, adorable though he was. He’ll just have to wait until tomorrow night and eat the colony’s leftovers. Perhaps, I’ll put out a bit extra. Eventually, he grew bored of watching me staring back at him and disappeared into the darkness of the yard. I wonder if he’ll come back to watch another kitchen window show? Was I entertaining enough for a repeat visit?
I had to go to my childhood hometown on Monday to do a little official business. Naturally, I stopped to check on things at the old house and poke around a bit to find some important objects to bring home with me. The business doing went fine, but then I got to the house, and a bit of drama ensued.
Someone who has been lightly keeping an eye on the place while I’ve been away informed me a couple weeks ago that it looked like someone had cleaned up the far back area of the yard, where there was a large old mesquite tree and a storage shed. The shed is still there, but the tree? Gone.
Was the tree in bad shape? Yes. Did the tree need to go? Probably. Is it possible the recent ice events caused parts of it to break off? Highly likely. Was any of this anyone’s responsibility but mine? Absolutely not. And yet, the rich fucker who owns the businesses on either side of the house, the one who so “kindly” offered to mow the yard and rake the leaves to keep the place tidier than I certainly would have, apparently decided to remove the tree, without informing, consulting, or asking me. I suppose the lovely chunk of it they set on the front porch table was meant to serve as my notification?
Furthermore, the gate at the side of the house in the front, and the gate between our backyard and what used to be Helen’s back yard both were wide open and tied that way. This leads me to believe his employees have been using my yard to travel between the two businesses instead of carrying their damn boxes of wine from one place to the other by way of the sidewalk. So yet again, the rich fucker has turned a potential act of kindness into a self-serving overstepping of boundaries. I should have expected no less.
Well, I’m not happy at all about the tree, but I am totally incensed about the use of my property as an employee super highway. I legally can’t abide it. It’s a liability for me to have people who are not me stomping around in that yard. Furthermore, if I allow it to continue, in the future, they could claim they have the right to an easement and continued future use. In short, this asshole is acting like he already owns the place, when the fact is he will own it only over my dead body. This decision was made long before mom died.
So now I’m shopping for heavy duty bike locks to chain gates shut and need to procure some “Private Property – Keep Out” signs. Another trip over there will need to happen immediately to secure the property lines. It is my intention to be doing this while the businesses are open and the rich fucker himself is around, but if he’s not, I guess the locked gates and signs will be his notification that he and his employees are no longer welcome on my side of the property lines for any reason whatsoever (though I will have written a politely nasty letter to leave at one of the shops for him as well). Fuck the lawn. I’ll deal with it, if and when I feel like it needs dealing with. His offer to mow/trim the lawn benefited him and his businesses more than me anyway.
I do hope he’s there though, because I would like to hear him explain his actions, instead of never hearing them at all. I’m sure they’ll be very entertaining. I bet his first excuse is that he didn’t know how to get in touch with me, to which I counter that his lawyer somehow managed to do that a mere seven days after mom died to ask about buying the house, so maybe he should speak to his lawyer. He should probably speak to his lawyer anyway, seeing as it’s illegal to remove trees existing on property you don’t own. I could sue for damages or otherwise cause him legal troubles.
Anyway, this is just a taste of the sorts of things going on in my life right now. Fun stuff, yes? The threads tying me to that speck of earth over there grow thin and have been rapidly snapping. I’m feeling confident that this year, the last connections I have with that house, that town, and the people who live there shall all be severed, and I will at long last be mentally, emotionally, and physically free.