Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Embarrassment



It's late and I've worked my butt off today. But my day wasn't over. Exhaustion would lead to a mistake, a call to the police, and ultimate embarrassment.

My brother had told me months ago we may as well get rid of the decorative wood stove as he will never be able to get it approved on his insurance for use.

Yesterday and today, I caught a bug to get it done. That thing must weigh 300 or 400 pounds. The first problem was disconnecting the stove pipe itself, which wasn't hard, but freeing it was. It is severely rusted and full of gunk. Got it off, then began the arduous task of sliding that monster stove out through the garage. Surprisingly, it was not that tough. It has round knobs on the leg ends, that easily slid across the vinyl flooring and even the garage concrete.

What to do with it now? Not a problem. I went over to get my carrier at a house where I'd gotten cats fixed and that guy said he had a hoist, for engines, and a pickup and would do it, probably this Saturday, haul it to the recyclers.

He might also take some of the other junk that needs gone: an old dresser I took apart, thinking I could use it for a raised garden bed frame, still might, but maybe it should go, and a piece of hexagonal furniture I got at Goodwill and remodeled into a litter box hider. It's shot and needs to go too.

Then came the task of breaking up a four by four square of brick laid under the stove and the same square footage of brick against the wall behind where it had been.

"Well, this won't take long," I thought, overconfident as usual. Wrong.

I thought the project would be easy. I thought it would be quick. I thought it would be relatively pain free. Wrong.

I seriously underestimated the amount of brick. And drastically underestimated the amount of mortar.

I began. My tools? A screwdriver and a hammer. I broke them free, then pounded off the mortar, then hauled the bricks out to my yard and set them in the ground to form more walkways in my soggy backyard. I hauled the broken up mortar out to the side yard and filled in spots with the light colored pieces.

Over and over again, until my back whined and my leg nerves sang and my neck ached and my arms were scratched and bruised.

I got the floor layer out yesterday. Today, this afternoon, I went after the wall section.

The wall section was harder. The bricks each contained 8 holes through which mortar had been poured to make it solid. There were tie downs sealed into the bricks with mortar then nailed to the wall, to keep the whole thing from falling over.

My glove got a hole in one finger. The relentless pounding free the bricks of one another, then of the mortar pieces, then filling the bucket and hauling it out became painful. Each step became heavier. I drank lots of water.

At 9:30 the woman called that she had the calico kitten. I had to go get her. The woman complains if I don't come right away, if the cat meows, anything. I went over and got back, and was trying to clean up and do all the rest of the chores. After the living room was strewn with rubble most of the day, it didn't look too bad comparatively.

And then..AND THEN...sitting here, had just fed the apartment cats out in the garage and dumped the last bucket of bricks. I had meant to give them water, was about to do that when distracted, wanted to eat, was starving. I put some noodles on the stove and came in to check e-mail.

Suddenly, from the garage, I hear the cars' horn go off.

I froze, spine went tingly, a million thoughts raced through my mind. Who had honked my horn?

I didn't think I'd locked the outside door on the garage, since I'd still been working.

I grabbed my pepper spray, but my hands were shaking. I tried to calm myself. I turned the light on in the garage from inside the house and tried to see in from the kitchen window but I couldn't.

I pulled out my tracfone and tried to think of someone I could call, just in case there was someone out there, and so I would have someone on the phone as I went out. Then I saw the time on the phone. OMG, it was after 1:30 a.m.

So I called the police. I was talking to the operator, asking her if she'd just stay on the line as I went out into the garage when the likelihood of the culprit struck home: a cat.

She had officers already on the way, in fact, they were here almost instantly, outside my place, hands on their holsters. It was cool!

I told them quickly I thought it might be a cat. The neighbor man's cats are always getting in my garage. I saw a possum running out back, who also sleeps sometimes in my neighbors' garage, and didn't want the cops to see him. I was ashamed, for some reason, that there was a possum in my yard. These thoughts come with exhaustion.

The other people's cats, from the street over, are also always trying to get into my garage, the white cat and the orange and white cat. Then I remembered the torbi and the calico. Then I remembered I'd fed them then was going to give them water. My heart fluttered. It was one of them.

The officers rang my doorbell. They'd looked through my garage door and seen nothing and wanted to come through my house into the garage. I cringed. I knew there would be comments about the cat numbers.

There were, but they were nice about it. One officer said, "How many you got here?" I said, "I don't know, this is a cat rescue." They saw the garage cat run and said "That's cool," which made me feel less like a crazy cat woman.

I tried to motion to the blank square of white on the otherwise green wall to say I'd been doing a lot of work in here today, but how would they know I'd removed a wood stove and 32 square feet of brick and mortar. It would have been a great excuse however, for my appearance and the relative mess. I say relative because despite my exhaustion I'd cleaned the house up fairly well after the wreckage of the day.

There was nobody in the garage, thank goodness. But by now, I knew!

The moment they left, I checked the torti, calico cage. The torbi was missing and two of the clips were not clipped. That was my dead brain worn out mistake.

I searched for her and she's up on the wood near the rafters. I'll get her in the morning.

I felt guilty wasting the cops time. In my exhausted brain, I wished there had been someone in there, so I wouldn't feel so stupid now. No, I don't really think that, I'm too tired to think at all. Going to bed. I couldn't even set a trap properly to catch the on-the-lam torbi I'm so tired.

I wonder if it will be in the crime watch section of the paper.

"An Albany resident called police stating her car horn had mysteriously honked and she feared someone was in her garage trying to steal her car. When officers arrived, they determined the culprit to be a cat. They refused to arrest the cat, who had retreated to the rafters, citing limited jail space for feline offenders."

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