When the Cat’s Away…

When Daniel took his new job starting at the beginning of June, he told me he would need to travel two to three times a year, twice for conferences and another time to Indiana, where the company is based. We’re now less than four months into this gig, and he’s on his third work trip with more scheduled.

Ok, I confess—I should not be complaining about this, mainly, because I was a major encourager of this particular trip. When you’re trying to figure out the ins and outs of a new job, nothing lays out the company’s culture and expectations like “virtual coffee” (aka-a skype meeting)…. or not.

So I told him to “Go,” figure out his questions face-to-face (a dying activity in dire need of revival in my opinion). I sent him with my blessing, and just maybe I had some ulterior motives up my sleeve as well… because we all know that when the Cat’s away, the mice will

.Sleep!! The Cat and I are rather opposite when it comes to sleeping preferences. I like lots of moving air (a fan blowing directly on me); he despises it. I need white noise the whole night, which he hates. He sleeps with the covers (literally!) up to his chin, even on the hottest summer nights. As for me? Well, I’m usually too hot for any covers since the desired moving air isn’t moving. (I recently slept in our living room near the AC vent with the ceiling fan on high for two nights because what else is a girl with marathon-training-metabolism to do?) I am a light sleeper; he’s “dead to the world” as he puts it. I go to bed around 11pm, and he comes in any time between midnight and 2am, waking me out of my soundest sleep of the night.

So when the Cat goes away, I look forward to a few nights of uninterrupted, windy sleeping. Now, if only I knew how to turn off our geeked-out alarm clock that the Cat forgot to “unset” before he left. (Actually, the Cat did email me a detailed five step guide to turn off the alarm, which I managed to do… ahhh, even more sleep.)

When the Cat’s away, the mice will NOT cook.

empty sink
Not cooking leaves the kitchen sink available for other important activities.

“Ian, you said you’d like cereal for lunch? Sure… especially since you had a Costco muffin for breakfast instead of cereal.”

“Yes, Alice, you may have a peanut butter cup for dessert; I’m not baking this week.”

“Oh, Dear Mother-In-Law, can we invite ourselves for dinner on Thursday evening? Thanks so much!! See you at 6pm.”

I like to think that when the Cat goes away it’s actually very healthy for the three of us at home because we’re mostly vegetarians for the week. Meat is not an option if I need to prepare it. Cereal is the entree of choice for what many would consider an alarming number of times.

I did manage to hard boil some eggs on Monday night for a good serving of protein lasting two meals (pat myself on the back), but that was the only pot I made dirty the entire week (an additional high-five). We limped along on leftover chili, occasionally sponging off of others’ cooking/hospitality, the occasional chicken nugget (I don’t really call them meat unless you’re buying “breaded chicken parts,” and even then maybe it’s questionable.) and… cereal.

(Just so you don’t think I got too spoiled, I did bake at the end of the week due to company coming on Sunday, and I also processed tomatoes which would have otherwise rotted. In the end, I did scrub quite a number of pots.)

Ian doing tomatoes
Ian helping make tomato juice for tomato soup.

In June, when the Cat went away, my week ran incredibly smoothly. This time around was a little different, and I realized that when the Cat’s away, the mice… also have to learn to be cats.

The Cat happens to be the resident car mechanic, so when a red light went on on the car dashboard and I had no way of contacting Daniel immediately, I tried to think like the Cat. I pulled out the owner’s manual and started reading. “Red light: Stop the car as soon as possible in a suitable location and read the message shown in the text window.”

Hhhmm – no message presented itself in the text window, and from the manual, this sounded like it had the potential to be somewhat serious. I didn’t want to be the one responsible for blowing up the car while the Cat was away, so I made the switch into the older-less-kid-user-friendly-second-car (thank goodness for two cars) and used that one until the Cat’s Brother was kind enough to check out the troubled car.

(It turned out that the car was fine, and I was the troubled one. But the Cat’s Brother has agreed to keep that story quiet until my 50th birthday party when I’ll be too senile to be embarrassed by it.)

Also (and maybe most importantly), the Cat normally handles any trauma-laced-with-blood-situations because this mouse-ette is known for her incredible(bly embarrassing) fainting capabilities. I can handle a scraped elbow and the occasional bloody nose, but there’s no guarantees with anything more involved than that.

So when I was walking down the hall on Monday morning and heard a large THUMP,” followed by an “I’m-really!-hurt-cry,” I knew exactly what had happened before I even saw it. I found Alice in a pool of blood on the floor by her bunk bed. The blood was pouring from her nose, luckily not from any other place on her head.

Thankfully Alice was consolable and quite lucid, confirming to me that she had indeed fallen from the top of one of the bedposts where I’ve seen her perched many times before. She sported a large shiner right above her eye for a day or two; but even that was gone by the time the Cat came home.

Alice school
Proof that Alice was indeed still functioning fine after her fall.

There were some other slight problems that caused me to miss not having the Cat here to help… technological problems, a very small school issue, nor could I go running without finding childcare, etc. And I definitely looked forward, as did the kids, to the Cat’s return.

*    *    *

The Cat got back, safe and sound, early Saturday morning. We’ve resumed our dismally-clashing-sleep-schedules, and I’m semi-back to cooking gourmet meals like grilled cheese with tomato soup and frozen ravioli. The Cat also gave me a much!!! needed pep-talk to go do my long-run Saturday afternoon; otherwise I might have stayed at home and eaten cheese, which in hindsight might have been a wiser decision (OUCH!!).

Unlike most mice, we’re super excited to have the Cat back under our roof, and we’re even more glad he’s not planning to be away again for a couple of months. Welcome Home, Daniel!

The End


P.S. No… I do not actually think of Daniel as “the Cat.”