Monday, May 26, 2008

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

Merlin went missing today. He must have got out of the room when one of us were going in or out. And then got outside via Sweetie's doggy door.

The last time I saw him was about 2:30 this morning shortly after I posted my poem and left the room to fix a snack. I wondered why he never bugged me for a bite of my roast beef sandwich but just figured he had gone under the bed to sleep--a new habit of his since we stopped keeping him on the harness 24/7 after the room makeover in January.

Now I'm wondering if he got out of the room when I was leaving or returning that time. But Ed swears he saw him when he got up at seven this morning and that he didn't stir off the bed when he left. Ed came and went several times between 7 and 11:30 when his return coincided with the Memorial Day military jet flyover that woke me up into a full blown panic attack.

There was a lot of confusion in the next five minutes as I grounded my psyche in reality. Ed left, closing the door and then I got up and opened the door again within seconds to go, well, you know, to do the things you do when you first wake up. I never checked to see if Merlin was near the door before I opened it. I never looked for him when I got back nor even really thought about him until a bit after 1PM when I called him, jingling the leash and harness which now means let's go outside. I was planning to go sit with him in the back yard and read The Historian for awhile and maybe work on my way overdue Friday Snippet with pencil and paper. Ed was going to join us with his book.

I didn't think too much of it when he didn't come to the jangle of the leash. I decided to visit a few Poetry Train participants while I waited. But he didn't show his face by 2 and I started to worry. Ed came back in about then to switch out books--he'd finished yet another one. I lost count of the books he finished on his three day weekend. The races were canceled Saturday due to the rain we'd been having since Tuesday and his Mom also had the three days off so he couldn't hang out on the PC as long in the mornings and I was monopolizing my laptop whenever I was awake.

Ed tried the harness jangle and then the extra noisy eating of potato chips, massaging the bag etc. Always sure to bring him out from wherever he is. But he didn't show. So I went and got a yogurt and popped it open in the room. Merlin NEVER allows me to eat a yogurt in peace! NEVER. So when he hadn't shown his face before I finished it, I was convinced he wasn't in the room at all or else too sick (or worse) to respond to our call and temptations.

At that point, Ed put new batteries in our flashlight and pulled a few things out from under the bed at the foot so he could shine the light under. He couldn't spot him but neither could he see clear to all corners from wall to wall. Then we sent this mechanical cat toy under the bed. It is a motorized ball with a ribbon for a tail. There is a weight inside that is spinning which causes the ball to roll and wobble, bump up against things, change its course and so forth. You can also put it in a paper bag and the bag acts like something alive is in it. Ed's Dad bought it for Merlin on one of their trips to the coast last winter. Merlin was afraid of it at first but I got him used to it by putting it in confined spaces like in a mound of blankets on the bed. Once it found its way out of that mound and onto the floor and before I could coral it it had gone under the bed. I was sure it would get stuck back under there and wear its battery out but it found its way back out. That was the time Merlin finally started chasing it. Though not under the bed where it was but rather on top of the bed wherever the noise it was making was though he did get down on the floor and watch it from a safe distance like a cat crouching at a mouse hole. But the second it came out from under the bed he was leaping away and back onto the bed to watch it careen around his food and water dishes.

It was remembering this incident that led us to try sending the motorized ball under the bed to try to flush him out. When I heard absolutely no sound of him moving around under there I became convinced he wasn't under there. The alternative is too grim to think. For our Merlin is a cowardly lion. The most timid cat I've ever known.

That is why it is so nerve wracking to think of him being on his own outside. He has been an indoor cat from a kitten. This trailer park has a dozen or more unfixed toms running loose and several of them are notoriously mean. There are also several mean dogs that occasionally get loose. The dogs aren't supposed to be but sometimes they do. One of them is rumored to be part wolf. Then there are the wild animals that populate the creek area. The two that concern me the most are the raccoons and the owls.

I managed to stay fairly calm all day. At least outwardly. But when it started to pour down rain just as it was starting to get dark about 8:15 this evening I couldn't keep the tears at bay for one more second so when Ed came in from the porch to switch out books yet again he found me blubbering over Merlin's leash and harness. My distress was as much due to loosing what little hope I had left that he would show up before dark. When it started to rain I knew he would not venture out in it if he had any other choice. He hates to walk across wet grass! He hates the rain. So if he had found any kind of shelter from that at all he would stay put until it stopped. So there was a bit of self-pity in my tears. I knew I was going to have to wait it out through the night sitting here with nothing but my overactive imagination for company. That and Ed's snores.

I couldn't focus on anything else all day. Which is why I didn't visit more than a couple poems and didn't get back to work on my overdue snippet. At a quarter to nine, I phoned my sister, Jamie, to borrow her shoulder. We talked for 37 minutes, catching up on each other's week. Only the first and last five minutes were about Merlin being missing. She challenged me to stop obsessing and try to write something. Anything. Todays post, a new poem, journaling or best of all the overdue snippet. She knows me well. She knows that writing is the way I work crisis out. She knows that I tend to get hyper-focused and when that focus is trained on an unpleasant situation which I have no control over that my mind will just wallow in it like a car in the mud, spinning its wheels uselessly, accomplishing nothing but flinging mud onto the windows and digging me in deeper and deeper.

So I took up Jamie's challenge. I decided to make today's post essentially a journal entry about the situation I am hyper-focused on, the crisis I need to work out or at least articulate. And maybe garner another shoulder or two? Or a prayer or two on Merlin's behalf?

I think I'm ready to move on to the snippet. Where I left off Crystal's story last Monday, I was sure I would have no trouble getting the next scene prepared for Friday. And I wouldn't have if I'd kept working on it the next day. I think I finally figured out the problem that is keeping me feeling like I'm chasing a short tail all week long with the memes. With Friday Snippet coming the day after Thursday Thirteen, it means I either have to have my snippet ready to go before I post my TT or I have to halt visiting TT until it is ready. The first thirty odd weeks I did Friday Snippets I was posting work from my files and portfolio which made it an easy nearly effortless post each week. Just cut and paste and post. Or in a few cases type it up off a hard copy.

The first installment of Crystal's story, Home Is Where the Horror Is, was the last of the material from my files and I thought I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. But a couple of the comments led me to rethink that. There was evidently some real hook in the story seed I had written over fifteen years ago. I had managed to make people care about fifteen-year-old Crystal and want to know what happened to bring her to the dire straights she found herself in and wonder what would happen to her. I found myself re-engaged in the story. I decided it would be a good exercise for me to take that story and play with it like a toy. Most of my other WIP I have turned into intricate knots of plot with interwoven time lines that trip me up when various issues requiring research doesn't put the brakes on entirely.

So I challenged myself to posting a scene per week hot off the keyboard. With the second Crystal snippet, I announced my intention. And then almost immediately came down with the flu. Which of course also played a role in digging the hole I'm in.

A week or two before that, I had also begun to post a new hot off the keyboard poem each Sunday or Monday for Monday Poetry Train. Which means that in spite of the flu that zapped me so hard for four weeks, the last two months have been some of the most productive for new creative output with ten or twelve new poems and nine new fiction snippets ranging from 700 to 2000+ words. How I wish I'd split that 2000+ word one in half and saved the second half for the next week. Especially since that was the weekend of the first or second time I put up a shell sans snippet on Friday and didn't paste in the snippet until Sunday afternoon. Every since then I've been chasing an ever shortening tail around the spinning hindquarters of the week.

Since I've got another seven or eight hours to wait before I can even poke my head outdoors to look for signs of Merlin, I'm going to turn my attention to Crystal's woes and aim for 1000+ words before I quit. But as soon as I have 4-500 I'm going to paste it in to Friday's shell. It may be more of a teaser than a full scene but that's better than nothing. And since it is obvious that Friday night through Wednesday morning is when I have the freest blocks of time for devoting to fiction and poetry, I need to stop waiting until after my TT is up to start working on the next snippet. If the snippet is prepared before Wednesday afternoon, then I would be free to totally immerse myself in the TT experience and enjoy it and then the following day do the same with Friday Snippet. It is something to aim for anyway.

If I had any sense, I'd split this post off from where I started talking about Crystal's story etc and save it for tomorrow's post. LOL But I'm hopeful tomorrow's post will be announcing Merlin's safe return.

For more pics or stories about him, click on the label 'Merlin'

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