Now that is all very well if you happen to know in advance that you are going to have a bad day, but sometimes the crises - like my cracks when they first kicked off - come at you out of nowhere. By this time you may already be wearing your chosen SOTD, which, perforce, becomes caught up in the 'horror and terror of the first water' (to borrow my father's phrase) that subsequently unfolds.
Which is something that so easily could have happened with a bunch of Puredistance scents the other day. I was testing four of them at once to determine my favourite, progressively narrowing the field over the course of the weekend to WHITE and SHEIDUNA. (I am still struggling with the whole capitalisation issue, though writing the word 'capitalisation' in lower case is helping a bit.) And in a final wrist-to-wrist play off, my overall favourite emerged, as...but I will save that titbit for later. ;)
So yes, last Thursday I was engrossed in the fairly thankless business of cleaning windows. Oh my word, what a rich seam for a blog post window cleaning techniques that actually work would be. In my desperation, I tried Mr Muscle, vinegar, and an E-cloth and water - sometimes all on the same window, endlessly rotated until the smears looked marginally less noticeable through half closed eyes and with the roller blind pulled down a few inches - and am now that sad soldier who is actually lusting after a Karcher Vac. But the point about the window cleaning is that I was somewhat distracted, though on and off during the day I had wondered why Truffle had not come back in since breakfast...It was mild weather, so I tried to convince myself she had just wandered a bit further and was enjoying herself in the uncharacteristic sunshine, even though I knew deep down that that wasn't her usual MO.
|Truffle on the roof of the shed next to the garage....|
I also downloaded a 'lost cat' poster template, and was faffing about trying to resize photos when a friend messaged me from a train - having seen my Facebook status about Truffle's disappearance - and kindly offered to do the artwork for a poster. I explained that I was in fact nearly there with that, but he was able to combine two photos and make them fit the template, so his intervention was most timely. Not that I needed the posters in the end, as you will see!
Next up, I did some reading on the Interwebs, and learnt that for an 'outdoor access' cat like Truffle, the most likely outcome was that she had become trapped, probably within a short distance from home. The site recommended conducting an 'aggressive physical search' of her primary territory, comprising a five-house radius. It so happens that I am adjacent not only to five houses, but also to 33 lock up garages(!). I had already been round these a couple of times, calling Truffle's name and trying to listen out for any sound, which was tricky, given the ambient traffic noise.
|View from the neighbour's garden|
Then on a third circuit later that morning, I was passing the garage nearest to my house, which belongs to people in the next street, when I heard a cat crying. I also felt a paw underneath the garage door, though a short while after, the crying stopped and the paw was withdrawn. I still had proof that a cat was in there, even if it didn't turn out to be mine....
BUT I didn't know who the owners of the house were, so I loitered in that street for a few minutes and chanced upon a man unloading his shopping. I asked him if he knew the names / jobs / routines of the home owners. He told me that the wife was a part-time curate at the local church, so I jogged over there at the double, disturbed the vicar's wife, who was in bed, ill!, but gamely staggered downstairs because I had kept knocking. She texted the curate, asking her to ring me, and staggered back to bed, though not before letting slip that the curate's husband was a GP in the next county. And that the couple mostly lived there, only occasionally coming to Stafford.
|Well ventilated garage of doom|
There was no response from the curate, and of course I was frantic by now, as Truffle had been shut in the garage for nearly 30 hours already with no food and water. I know animals can survive for much longer, but obviously you don't want your pet to suffer for a moment, never mind a day and a half. So I promptly googled all the GP surgeries in and around the town the vicar's wife had mentioned, and found a doctor with a surname matching the curate's. Bingo! I rang the surgery, only to be told it was his day off. I asked the receptionist to try to reach him on his mobile and explain the urgency of the situation.
And thus it was that two hours later, the husband duly arrived and opened up the garage. Even on those odd times the couple come to Stafford, they hardly ever use it apparently! Moments before, my friend, Jim - he of the fine quips in my shortlisted entry for the 2015 Jasmine Awards - had turned up unprompted with a length of rope and a general air of reassurance. I stood outside to catch the cat if she ran out, and it was Jim who found Truffle cowering in a corner - collarless, filthy, frightened, and smelling of 'old stuff in garages' and p*ss. And no, that isn't 'puss', though she was back to her normal smell after a few (self-administered) washes. ;)
|This is so going on her next collar...|
"I'm so pleased that you got your cat back. You wouldn't know how much your thank you card meant. I was feeling low after being in bed for the majority of the day. My husband came and gave me your card. It made me smile."
Oh, I don't feel so bad for getting her out of bed now. ;) Plus it sounds as though she is on her feet again. Unless the vicar played postman?
Then on the vet's advice I kept Truffle more or less indoors over the weekend, just letting her out briefly and under my watchful eye, but by Sunday she was feeling a lot more adventurous and events took another disastrous turn.
Yes...it appears that while dogs have a short term memory span of five minutes, cats have a whopping 16 hours! But I am afraid that is nowhere near enough. For notwithstanding her earlier ordeal, Truffle managed to fall in the hole all over again! Even though I had already spent an hour supervising her outdoor access without incident, suddenly she leapt up onto the garden wall, and from there it was a mere hop, skip and a jump to the garage with the holey roof. Down which she promptly fell. The roof is made of full asbestos(!) and is really friable and crumbly as you will see, but I am running ahead of myself.
As the hideous and distinctly Groundhog Day-ish news sank in, one of the lodgers who lives next door (I'll call him 'L' - not his real initial ;) ), and who happened to be loitering in the service road, offered to take a look at the hole. 'I'm only small', he said, 'I could probably get down there' - which despite his slight physique I privately thought unlikely. In a flash, L had shinned up the ladder like a rat up a drainpipe, and before he could get anywhere near the hole, he suddenly created a much bigger one of his own...'Er...now I've done that, I might as well go and get the cat?' he volunteered, with an uneasy smile. A second later there was a sickening thud as L jumped to the concrete floor some six foot or so below. He promptly opened the garage door before I could tell him not to and Truffle shot under it like the proverbial bat out of hell! Luckily, she darted back home while the pair of us set about clearing up the bits of asbestos on the floor.
|Sun glinting on the polythene sheet|
In vain did I try to persuade L to use gloves like me. 'I'm 45, I've had a good innings', he said phlegmatically. Well, I for one would like to live long enough to see Truffle wear out / lose the three replacement collars I had just bought her. ;) Oh, make that four, as I later found the one she lost under a tree. Anyway, after sweeping up the debris, L and I managed to do our own rather nifty roofing job, though I say it myself, involving 'found' things from my own garage - two bits of board from picture frames, a huge piece of plastic groundsheet folded in half, and my old airing cupboard door to weight the whole lot down! I had kept it because it was too big to fit in my car to take to the tip - never thinking it might actually come in handy one day.
Our improvised roof covering in place, I rang the owners to confess what we had done, lump in throat. Luckily they weren't at all mad at us for technically trespassing and damaging their property, and have said that this second incident - which is fast turning into that lost parent business in The Importance of Being Earnest(!) - will galvanise them to get the roof fixed properly as a priority.
So there you have it. In the space of four days, Truffle and I lost at least two lives apiece, and I also learnt that herding cats is an utterly doomed venture. And was also touched by the tremendous support I received on- and offline from concerned friends, as well as the community spirit on the ground that led to both the happy outcomes.
|Home Sweet Home|
Now I had carried on testing the Puredistance samples meanwhile - well, applying them at least, and occasionally remembering to sniff them. I figured that if they had been tainted by Truffle's first fall through the roof, that feeling wasn't going to get any worse from this point on, besides which, she had been repeatedly rescued!, neatly cancelling out the bad associations from before.
And unexpectedly, Truffle and I seem to have a much closer bond now, I would say - or I do to her at least. Presumably she has no memory of either incident by now, hehe. She has slept on my bed for a total of five nights so far, without spending half of it jumping on my head, as happened the last few times we attempted - and quickly aborted - a 'co-sleeping' arrangement. If she continues to be so well behaved, we might even be able to entertain this cosy regime on a more regular footing.
Then Monday was happily uneventful...Truffle went in and out of the garden unsupervised numerous times, and I have almost stopped worrying that she won't come back...
Oh, and the favourite Puredistance? - the one that really 'went the distance' during this strange r*****coaster of a long weekend, and which not only came out the other side unscathed, but had the power to subliminally comfort and shore up my fragile mood? It was that creamy, fruity, at times discordant, yet mesmerisingly fizzy amber and myrrh-fest that is - SHEIDUNA.
PS Proper perfume posting resumes shortly...