Hi everybuddy! It’s me, Dori. *wavy paws* I’m so glad to see yoo. Welcome to Part 2 of my Octopurr Spooky Stories.
As I mentioned last week, in the past I made up spooky stories for the month of Octopurr, but this year, the stories are REAL! So grab yoor bag of Reese’s Franken-Cups, and a mug of hot buttered rum, cuz I’m going to scare every one of yoo, especially those who are considering a future move with cats.
In last week’s story, Disappearing Rooms and Stranger Danger, furniture dissy-peared and strangers kept ringing our doorbell to come inside. They even trapped us under false beds, and prevented us from using the litter boxes. Extremely scary stuff, folks! Yoo see, Daddy had set a date for retiring from the company that makes Amazon boxes, and he wanted to move his family before that happened since buying a home while employed has less hoops to jump through than after retirement. So, for the past year and a half my pawrents had traveled through Mrs. Ippi, Ally Bama, and Aunt Lanna (<- scary ol’ witch) at least six or seven times to search for the purrfect home in FloryDa. That’s where Daddy wanted to live. Not Momma. Momma loves the Tennessee mountains, but she caved. So sad, cuz Momma gets very crabby in the hoomidity.
Eventually they finally found a smaller house on the northeast side of the state with a huge water bowl in the backyard. Plus the screened-in Catio would allow the Wonderpurr Gang to get fresh air, as it was three miles from the ocean. The only trouble was, it took 12 hours without stopping to get there. And as that scary bad Chinese virus had suddenly turned the world upside down, traveling anywhere, even to the grocery store, had not only become dangerous… It had become deadly.
The month after we sold our home flew by like a flock of seagulls. The stress was unbelievable! Stuff still needed to be purged, so Momma posted on Facebook, and strangers showed up to buy it. And stuff had to be fixed after the house inspection, although really there wasn’t that much since Daddy had maintained the house all along. However, the cost of moving was adding up and being a finance guy, Dad told Mom they weren’t going to hire a company to move us. Rather, they were going to move themselves. That’s about when Momma started drinking.
There is so much that go into moving. Everything – right down to that plastic red cup used to water plants – needs to be packed or pitched out. The TV and internet disconnected, and the utilities shut off. Timing is everything, especially when Daddy needed WiFi as he still worked from home. He also had to dig out the palm tree that originally came from Jacksonville in 1997. It had been in a pot for years, and was finally planted in the ground in 2006. It flourished because every winter Dad wrapped it in a plastic tarp and put a heat lamp at it’s feet. The tree would have died otherwise. And knowing the new owners would not take care of it, Dad asked neighbor Jimmy and his boys to help dig it up and wrap it for travel back to FloryDa.
And Goodbyes, so hard on us all, needed to be said.
For the Wonderpurr Gang, we had to say goodbye to the Best Ever Pet Sitter in the World: Michelle Johnson. She was with us for so many years, she became family. She never once complained about feeding a herd of semi-feral cats, a marauding gang of raccoons, and one AssRabbit. Michelle was truly Wonderpurr when it came to dealing with our kitty antics. She even sent Momma photos of all the stuff I broke when I was a baby so she would be prepared when she came home. And when Fwank arrived, he was an angry mess, and he chomped on Michelle’s arm. But she forgave him, and then he sweet-talked her into letting him come inside the house. When Momma returned, and Fwank smoothly strolled past her, she was on the phone with Michelle asking, What the Friskies! And Michelle told her Fwank said he was allowed inside all the time, and she believed him. And that’s how Fwank became an indoor cat. We don’t think it’s possible to find another purrrson as great as Michelle to kitty sit, and so for now, Momma has put the brakes on future travels.
Also, Daddy had to say goodbye to the 2002 Windstar van he’d been driving since 2004. It was a death trap as the sliding doors didn’t slide, the air conditioning didn’t air, the driver window didn’t roll down; the back seat had vanished years before for some unknown reason. And the dashboard lit up with every conceivable warning. But Daddy insisted on driving it because every day he passed several accidents on his way to and from work in Memphis, and he would not risk the new Chrysler Town and Country mini-van. The day Daddy and the Windstar parted was very sad. He was truly teary to see it go. “It’s been a dependable piece of sh*t for so long,” he told Momma as they watched it towed away.
On July 13, 2006, Momma arrived at our home in Southaven. She met Linda Rettstatt, another author, within two weeks, and they’ve been close friends ever since. Saying goodbye was really rough on them, with their history of going on writer adventures to Louisville and New Orleans, and renting a house in Gulf Shores on the beach with other writer friends. But Momma doesn’t say goodbye easily. She’s willing to travel to see her friends, and so is Aunt Linda, so they didn’t say good-bye. Rather, see you later.
Moving away from neighbors like Jimmy and Shelly, who lived directly across the street with their four boys, was really hard. Our homes were the only ‘directly across the street’ houses on the block. So direct, we could see what they were watching on tv, and when they sat down to dinner. And they would call to tell us there was a raccoon waiting on the front porch for noms, or ask Mom why Dad was lying on his back in the middle of the lawn, talking on the phone. Chauncie Marie used to live in their backyard. Shelly named her Chauncie, thinking she was a boy. Then Chauncie gave birth to two daughters. The boys named the kittens Bucket and Barney. Clearly not being able to tell the sex of cats runs in their family DNA. Chauncie soon moved across the street to our house, and Momma named her Chauncie Marie. Shelly told Momma that Bucket… or maybe it’s Barney… looks just like their mom, compete with a bodacious booty! And Momma will miss Shelly's mom, Dee, who is probably reading this right now cuz she's a kitty lover, too. So many good memories with this family. We will miss yoo all!
The K plate is a Haley Heisman gift to Ray for going beyond the call of being a good neighbor, and the baseball is signed by the boys in tribute to all the baseballs that could have broken our front windows, but never did! Pro Athletes just like their father.
There were tears shed saying farewell, because we lived in the best-ever neighborhood. Seriously! Everybody moved into that brand new neighborhood at about the same time, and we all kinda grew up together, with babies and kitties like me being born, and lots of parties. Some were block parties with bouncy houses for the kids, and tractor mower races, and other parties were in the driveway with balloon tosses and fireworks.
For years, every Octopurr my pawrents threw a huge Halloween party in our garage. Those parties are still talked about by the kids who are now young adults. Our front yard featured a cemetery with silly tombstones, and the garage was decorated, and there were long tables on the driveway where food was served. The whole neighborhood was invited. Costumes were fun, and food was plentiful. Games for the kids and adults won great prizes. One year Daddy got a projector and played KISS concerts on the wall.
And for many years the neighbors came to our house for dessert after Thanksgiving dinner. I wasn’t around then, cuz I hadn’t been born. But Herman told me he enjoyed strolling through the crowd, hanging out with the cat lovers.
My pawrents were extremely teary when the last neighbor to stop by was Mary. Mary is from Michigan like my pawrents, and her family loves kitties and doggies. They had a great dog named Buzz who had just passed away, and Mary told Momma that they wanted to adopt the new stray cat, Stanley, if he would find his way two doors over to their house. Momma gave Mary the dog house KC had used, and the Fancy Feast Stanley enjoyed. But finding his way to Mary’s house was hard on Stanley. He was extremely feral, but he liked to sit on our front porch and hang out with us on the other side of the glass door.
When it looked like he would not willingly move to Mary’s house because she didn’t have any kitties, Momma asked Shelly to watch out for him, and last we heard Stanley, now renamed Koz, has been sited schmoozing with Bucket and Barney. After Mary gave Momma a tight hug despite evil Chinese virus, and said goodbye, Momma told her, “Not goodbye! See you later.” She then went into the house and sobbed.
A week earlier, two strange men were hired to pack the U-Haul truck of everything, except an inflatable mattress, and kitty stuff like litter boxes and beds. Momma and Daddy called Michelle for the last time to kitty-sit, then dissy-peared for four days. When they returned, they were driving a rental van. Momma told me they’d driven the U-Haul down to FloryDa, and emptied it into our future home. They then rented a cargo van to drive back in order to have a second vehicle to move the Wonderpurr Gang. Yes! Two van were needed to move us.
As I said, Momma arrived on Cobblewood on July 13, 2006. Fourteen years later, on July 16th, Momma and Daddy planned to leave at a strategic time as it took about five hours to reach Aunt Lanna, where they drive like it’s the fweakin’ Indy 500, and that’s in the slow lane. It’s a white-knuckled event that requires full concentration as cars swerve and weave in and out of traffic. We all got up at 6am, but there was still a lot of cleaning to do in order to leave our home move-in ready for the new family. So leaving didn’t happen until nearly 2 o’clock.
That’s when Momma and Daddy divvied up the Wonderpurr Gang, depending on who would be the easy travelers, and who would be a royal bitch to be trapped inside a car with. Guess which group our cat-rescuing Momma took? I’ll give yoo a hint: Fwank has chronic motion sickness, and could not be caged during the trip.
Stay tuned for next week when the real super scary stuff happens on the road to FloryDa.
Until next time...
Spread the laughter, share the cheer.
Let’s be happy while we’re here!