Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Cross-Country Move & Searching for a Lost Cat!

Many apologies to all my readers for my long absence! It's been weeks since I've posted a blog. But I have a good excuse; I've had important business to do. 

For the past few weeks my husband and I have been relocating from Washington to Connecticut. As we both recently retired from our day jobs (I retired from teaching at Olympic College in December), we decided to move back to Connecticut to be near our grandchildren. They are growing up so fast; we don't want to miss any of that!

Our house sold quickly, quicker than we expected. The furniture was packed and loaded onto a United Van Lines truck, and off it went. My car shipped too. That left us with Jon's truck and a flatbed trailer with his Kubota tractor on top. We only had 3,200 miles to go!
The trip across country this time of year was challenging. It was exceptionally cold, and we encountered two snow storms--one on the Wyoming/Utah border and another in Ohio courtesy of Lake Erie. Temperatures were frightfully low day and night. We slept in our truck, since we wanted to be with our kitties and also to keep watch on the valuable items we were hauling. One night in Nebraska the wind howled and the temperature got down to 8 degrees below zero. Whew! No matter how many blankets I snuggled under, I couldn't get warm. Jon started the truck every hour to keep us from freezing. Thankfully, we had only four nights of F-150 Truck Hotel until we reached our destination.

I learned to appreciate several things in those five days and four nights--the hard work and friendliness of truckers (we slept at truck stops), the goodness of a hot meal, and the wonderful warmth of a hot shower!


As I write this blog, the crossing seems far behind me. I am sitting in my new office in Canterbury, Connecticut. It's full of boxes yet to be unpacked; but, I can get to my computers and begin work again. The sunny window next to my main desk has a view of the winter woods to the south of the house. It's a very different view than I had in Washington--no mountains or Douglas firs, no eagles flying by or green grass, no blue water in Hood Canal. Instead, there are endless maples and hickories and beeches, some with brown leaves still clinging. There are oaks too--so many oaks!--presiding over carpets of fallen acorns. Squirrels are busy burying and exhuming the bounty. Gray squirrels, not the little Douglas squirrels I saw in Washington. Stellar Jays have been replaced with the Eastern Blue Jays. And there are male Cardinals, wearing bright red feathers, looking for seed in the empty feeders. They are striking! I must get them some birdseed.

I've already experienced a snowstorm. About six inches fell last weekend, very powdery. It whirled around the porches and decks and put down a pure cover on everything. Snow was a rarity in the Puget Sound area, and when it came it was almost never powdery. There are commonalities though. This place is rural, and quiet, and beautiful. It had character, just as the Pacific NW had. But now, it's New England-ish.

The most humorous commonality was the little gray house mouse I found the other morning in death's repose in my bedroom slipper. A gift from Sadie. She's our Maine Coon, and she has settled in comfortably here, almost as if she's where she truly belongs. I suspect her great-great-great-great-great grandpappy cat came here to New England on a sailing ship a century or more ago. And that mouse? He might be a descendent of a mouse on that very same ship. I think she caught the little guy in the basement. Go Sadie, go!

Sophie, our older kitty, took some time to adapt. In fact, she's still learning the ropes here. She may be bred from a strain of Northwest cats, descended from the pet of some Norwegian lumberjack or Chinese worker in a salmon cannery. I must tell you a short story about her...

Sophie frightened us the first night in our new home, and for several nights thereafter. She is timid and shuns most humans other than us; thus, she immediately went in a search of a good place to hide while all the noise and confusion of the furniture movers was going on. In fact, she found a near fatal hiding place in a narrow opening at the top of the basement steps that gave access into the floor. She crawled into that dark, cold, labyrinthine space between the upstairs floor and the basement ceiling. The more noise she heard from strangers, the more heavy footsteps and loud voices, the farther into the floor space she crawled...until she was deep into a maze of pipes, wires, and floorboards.

That night, I called and called but couldn't find her. My husband assured me she'd appear from wherever she had hidden in due time. Our house remained rather noisy for several days, and there was no sign of Sophie and no meowing. By day four we were both panicked. We had made several thorough searches of the house. Then, I noticed that small opening under the top step of the basement stairs, an opening just big enough for a skinny cat to squeeze through it. I felt sure she's gotten into the floor. Again, I called and called. No answer. 

Then, as we were about to go to bed that fourth night, I thought I heard a distant, faint meow. Jon listened too, and after a few minutes he was sure he heard it.

Ears to the floor, we traced the origin of the sound. Then we rushed to the basement and called for Sophie. A desperate and feeble meow above our heads told us her whereabouts. She was, indeed, far from the place where she'd entered and unable to find her way back. Jon got a step ladder and removed some tiles from the basement ceiling. Moments later, a frightened but grateful feline face peered down at us. Sophie! We lured her onto a floorboard with cat treats and then lifted her out of the ceiling. Both of us were thrilled and relieved to have our kitty back!

As you can imagine, she was thirsty and hungry beyond description. We hugged and petted her as never before! Sadie seemed blase about the whole affair. Perhaps she had enjoyed her four-day stint as top cat just a bit too much. 

Reunited, we went to sleep that night, kitties curled next to us. It was a story with a purrfect ending, to be sure, though I think Sophie may have used up one her nine lives. This tale has been dubbed "The Lost Sophie Saga." I think we may tell it again and again.

You've probably noticed there hasn't been a single mention of a lighthouse in this blog entry. I apologize for that, and I can rectify it easily! This area was my home twice before, from 1976 to 1979 and again from 1986 to 2002. I wrote several books and many articles about lighthouses in those years. I presented many talks and school programs as well. Connecticut has been fertile literary ground for me, and I expect it will be again.

I'm excited to get back to the Nutmeg State!

Publicity photo taken by a photographer for The New London Day in October 1995 for the debut of my book, Guardians of the Lights: Stories of U.S. Lighthouse Keepers.

My "moving" hiatus ended, I'm getting back to work and will finish two Itty Bitty Kitty lighthouse guides--one about Bermuda and the other about Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Then, it's on to a fresh New England project, a book about a favorite Massachusetts lighthouse. I'll let you dangle there....wondering which lighthouse! Stay tuned.

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