Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

Susan

Let’s start this off by reminding everyone that the woman who sold us this house used to let a bobcat sleep in the shed. A bobcat who seemed nice because it purred. She told us this after she had walked us through the house to “explain” a few things. Only, later we found out that all those explanations were lies. So we started to think that maybe it was a mythical bobcat. Which, hey. That’s kind of awesome. We bought a house with its own mythical bobcat. What can your house do?

And then the first few nights we slept here we heard critters in the ceiling above our bedroom. No problem! Call the critter catchers! People so enthusiastic about their jobs that if they don’t come out of a crawl space without a few scratches in the face and a missing earlobe, they consider it a wasted day.

Now, they couldn’t assure us that it wasn’t a possum or raccoon or WHATNOT, but they were pretty certain there were just a whole bunch of birds nesting in the soffit of our roof. Those birds now have homes elsewhere, except… we’re still hearing noises here and there. Nothing like before, but enough that we think maybe the critter catcher wanted to screw with us and left behind a few tenants. And if that were the case, how do you get back at a critter catcher? It’s not like you could break into their house and let loose a bucket of snakes. They’d wake up and be all, CHRISTMAS!

So. Fast forward to Monday, my birthday. Things were normal until Marlo disappeared from sight for less than ten seconds. We didn’t even hear the usual thud, but once she started crying I came to her rescue only to find that she had somehow chipped off half of one of her four teeth. HALF.

Double-you. Tee. Eff.

Billy Bob
That tooth is now so sharp we’re afraid she’s going to slice her lip open. Or, worse, since she’s taken to head-butting her sister when she doesn’t get her way, use that tooth to commit felony homicide.

Please someone assure me that this has happened to their infant and that the solution doesn’t involve the use of a tool you’d buy at a hardware store.

Then my father called and said he wanted to stop by and drop off a birthday present, which is awesome except that he was driving all the way over from his house. His house that is located so far to the west that he has to be careful backing out of his driveway so that the car doesn’t fall off the edge of the earth.

So I took that time to write a little bit of a letter to myself to commemorate my birthday. And about a couple paragraphs in I knew I wanted to include one of my baby pictures in the post. I keep all of my baby pictures in a black scrapbook with acid-free paper (so very Mormon of me, I know!) that I remembered setting aside before the move. But no amount of hunting or turning over boxes could locate it. I hunted through the entire office, off into the basement where all the boxes that haven’t been unpacked are sitting like lonely little prisoners who violated probation by leaving the country and partying in Cannes and… oops. Wrong prisoner.

In the back of my mind I knew my dad was on his way over, so I ran up to the office to see if maybe Jon had shoved some of my stuff into one of the closets up there. Two of the closets are finished and have walls and floors, but the other four open up into the attic crawl space and are filled with air conditioning duct work and insulation. I hadn’t checked any of those closets yet, so I moved some boxes out of the way, flung open the door to the closet at the far south of the house, and standing not a foot away from my face was a very large, very hairy animal with giant shining eyes.

Okay. What would you have done in this situation?

Right.

That’s what I thought.

I slammed the door, had a heart attack, died, came back to life, and then ran screaming down two flights of stairs. SC-RAH-HEAMING. It just kept coming out of my mouth involuntarily. I couldn’t stop it: AAAAAHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH!

The whole time thinking OH MY GOD I FOUND THE MYTHICAL BOBCAT.

I ran into the kitchen still screaming AAAAAHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHHH-HHHHHHHH! And Jon is all, dude, are the kids okay? And I was like, THE KIDS? Are you kidding? The mythical bobcat could have jumped out of that closet and clawed my face off! I’m lucky to be alive!

It took several minutes for him to calm me down enough to talk coherently:

What had I seen? I didn’t know, I didn’t get a very good look, but it was really hairy and looked like a cat! A big cat!

Was I sure it was a cat? I DIDN’T KNOW. I wasn’t going to spend the time inspecting the intruder only to have it jump out and tackle me to the ground! YOU GO LOOK.

But, Heather, you know how allergic I am to cats. I can’t go look. YOU DON’T LOVE ME.

At this point I saw Tyrant grab a broom, and I said, please! Please don’t hurt it if you find it! And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m just going to give it a little shove.” And then he walked over to the stove and grabbed the butcher knife.

Jon and Tyrant both started laughing, and I was like SERIOUSLY. THERE IS A FOREIGN ANIMAL IN OUR HOUSE. So Jon straightened up a bit, ran to the basement and grabbed an old dog crate. Then he handed it to Tyrant and bid him good luck.

My father finally arrived, and I was a total mess. He and my stepmother sat in the living room while I paced the kitchen and tried to engage in conversation that had nothing to do with wild, fanged animals. Nearly impossible. How was your drive over, dad? Were you chased by any tigers?

A few minutes later Tyrant walked into the living room, broom in one hand, crate in the other.

“Heather,” he said gravely. “It’s a good thing you found this cat when you did. It’s skin and bones. I doubt it would have survived another day.”

Diego

Diego

Wait a minute, it’s not a mythical bobcat? You mean a poor little cat has been stuck in our attic crawl space? Am I allowed to bawl uncontrollably on my 35th birthday without looking like I’m pining for my youth?

I called animal control immediately hoping they’d arrive before the poor thing collapsed from dehydration, and after they showed up Tyrant told me to spend some time with my father while he walked around the neighborhood to do some investigation. I did everything I could to focus on my father who had travelled light years to wish me a happy birthday, but all I could think was, how long had that cat been in the attic? How did it get in there? How could it have survived without food or water? Why can’t we all just get along and save the world?

I apologized to him for being so preoccupied. And he was like, Heather, do you not remember taking road trips years ago, and if you saw a dead animal by the side of the road everyone had to assure you that it was taking a nap? Because otherwise you’d cry for three days? You just started your thirty-fifth year of life by saving an animal. And it didn’t cost him any money. So, good day all around!

And now I’m going to cry just typing the end of this:

Tyrant got some information from a neighbor who was pretty sure that the cat was the pet of another neighbor. He found that woman’s phone number, called her, and said, I don’t know if you’re missing a cat, but— and she couldn’t talk she was crying so hard. Yes, she was missing a cat. In fact, the cat had been missing for four weeks. She’d gone around the neighborhood before we moved in asking everyone if they had seen him. And after four weeks, she’d given up hope. She was currently in Oregon, but she’d have a friend go and pick him up. His name is Diego.

She had never been on good terms with the previous owner of this house, and she’s certain that Diego was locked in that closet intentionally. I can’t let my mind go there.

If it hadn’t been my birthday, I never would have walked into that closet, never would have found Diego. Yesterday the owner flew in from Oregon to see him and thank us. And I was like, don’t thank me, thank my mom! She went into labor on July 19th, and that’s why I opened that door.

He’s going to be totally okay.

However, I’m still a little jumpy and afraid to open closets.

  • Gypsy

    I feel dumb, too. But, Susan?

  • emmasota

    This is the best story I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for brightening my day. You are such a great writer!

  • kristanhoffman

    1) LOLOLOL: “And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m just going to give it a little shove.” And then he walked over to the stove and grabbed the butcher knife.”

    2) I’m the same way about roadki– “nappers.” My boyfriend still lies to protect me, I’m pretty sure.

    3) I cried reading the part you jumped ahead to. Sigh. Happy birthday to you, and thank goodness for Diego.

  • Girlbert

    Happy 35th! Omigosh, what a day!

    Poor kiddo – at least she’s on her first set of teeth, huh? Ouch…

    Thanks so much for sharing about Diego and his now much-relieved owner – I love me a good “Long Lost Pet: FOUND!” story. Totally brightened my day. 😉

  • tthomas48

    This would have all been so much easier if you’d received proper “cat in the wall” training from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

  • Glasseystare

    Oh, the tooth thing! When my son was about 18 months old, he took a header in the tub. Yes, I was right there. No, I couldn’t catch him in time. I still feel bad about that 14 years later.

    It looked exactly like Marlo’s and stayed that way until it fell out and the permanent tooth came in. No harm, no foul. We told people that he filed it down to look extra-tough for the kids in day care.

    Congrats on saving Diego. Any day you can help one of God’s creatures is a good day.

  • jules.maas

    Thank goodness for you and the Tyrant, Heather! Thinking of poor Diego trapped in that closet so long just has me about in tears – especially because:

    A) I know there are too many evil people out there who WOULD do that to an animal without a second thought.

    B) He looks JUST like my Algie, and I can’t help imagining him stuck in there. (I swear they must be brothers – they are both huge Maine Coons with the same coloring & smudgy black nose! Shameless kitty-mom photo: http://maaspublications.net/blog/2009/04/blue-eye-sphynx/)

    Anyway, it’s SO GOOD to know he’s safe & sound now.

    Happy Birthday, Heather!

  • Jen Morrison

    That poor cat!
    Maybe I’m being obtuse, but does the purring “bobcat” sound so like a cryptic reference to the cat locked in the attic? What other weird things did she say? Sorry, but this could mean some way fantastic stories for a long time!

  • buffangel2000

    Whoa! Three cheers for Tyrant the hero! I was convinced you were nose to nose with a raccoon. So happy for Diego’s mom!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    The Hangover reference just made my day!

  • whoknew

    I think Marlo is trying to get in on the current vampire craze…one tooth at a time.

    Poor Diego. So glad he was reunited with his family. This reminds me of the time my husband was hanging drywall in our attic and accidentally walled our cat behind the wall. We were lucky he had a loud meow or we never would’ve found him.

  • Missives From Suburbia

    Okay, what’s wrong with the dogs? How did they not know that cat was around? My Coco-like Malamute would have been going bonkers and never would have left that door.

    Marlo looks adorable, chipped tooth and all. I have no idea what a dentist would do to it–file it down a bit so she doesn’t cut herself? Poor girl. She’s already got the hillbilly look going.

  • Dani

    I knew someone who had a very similar story only it was a cocker spaniel and they new it had been locked up intentionally because it was in a crate.

    People who would hurt animals are EVIL but the people who save them ROCK!

    BTW the cocker had a happy ending, was adopted by my friend who found her and named her Button.

    P.S.I hope Marlos tooth can be fixed with out to much drama for you all.

  • meganbeth

    Susan Diego The Bobcat

  • tokenblogger

    My son chipped a tooth when he was two — he slipped on some ice as we were walking up a hill. I swear that ice just came outta nowhere for my little boy!

    At the Dentist’s he says to leave it alone unless it starts hurting or whatever (I obsessed over “whatever” for the first few weeks after) because it was still acting as a place holder before it was time for the permanent teeth to come in. That Dentist was so spot on!

    I glad Diego was not a bobcat…

    Tyrant is just multi-skilled, isn’t he. I hope you’re paying him well!

  • bets

    But who is Susan?

  • Angeerah

    Poor Marlo! I am sure your dentist can file it or something. It’s a good story though for when she’s older

    But, shit! Sorry to swear but if the previous owner deliberately locked the cat in the house, I want to find her and punch her in the face. I know that is a violent reaction but that sort of thing makes me ill and I have no tolerance for people like that. I am glad, Tyrant, Jon and you could rescue that poor kitty. I cannot imagine how the cat would have been trapped other than sneaking into the house when the lady moved out and somehow ending up in a crawl space. That woman sounds seriously messed up.

    I hope things get better with this house because it really is lovely!

    Oh and happy birthday!

    And I promise I won’t punch anyone as a result of reading your post. That sounds like a good warning label for your blog.

  • utahbeach

    What a great story. I’m surprised that after Chuck’s hyper vigilance about the raccoon living in your old chimney that he didn’t tip you off to Diego.

    What a breath of fresh air you must be to that neighborhood. To think that the past owner of your house could have sentenced a poor cat to a death by starvation is horrifying.

  • aussome1

    shucks!! Poor Marlo such a cutie though!!!
    As for Diego..you had me howling with laughter upon finding him in the closet thinking he was your bobcat!! By the end of the story it makes me wonder if “Susan” did this or if he might have wandered in by mistake. Find myself loving Tyrant a bit more everyday!!!

    BTW– HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!

  • SOLO dot MOM

    one of your bestest… or at least for this week! LOL

    Loved this.
    thanks for sharing your b-day with us!

  • Anndruh

    We just bought our first house last October, and brought with us our two previously 100% indoor cats to their first backyard. My husband was like, “Hey! Let’s just let the cats outside and see what happens!”

    So he did, and they took off over the fences and didn’t come back.

    Well, one came back. The other did not.

    The other one was the cat I’d adopted my freshman year in college. I’d had her longer than I’d had my husband.

    4 days went by. My heart was aching. I hadn’t been separated from this cat for longer than 48 hours in 7 years. Then, a little boy knocked on our door. He was holding my cat (I put up copious amounts of missing signs around the subdivision).

    “Uh, your cat got locked in with our cats when we left for my grammas last week.”

    So my cat spent a week eating someone else’s food, pooping in someone else’s litterbox, and playing with someone else’s cats.

    Good times all around.

  • Larkspur

    Oh dear god, your new house has been longing for new good residents. Can’t you just feel all the nooks and crannies and timbers and joists or whatever houses are made of just sighing with relief? And how cool that Diego got saved in the nick of time on your birthday?

    Yes, a weird person lived in that house, a weird not very nice person. Now a bunch of excellent weird people live in the house. House is happy. House doesn’t need any ritualistic cleansing of its aura. House has taken care of that itself. Your dwelling loves you.

  • Agent Scully

    If the old owner really did lock Diego in that closet (and seriously, how the eff does a cat get locked in a closet of its own accord?!) I wanna bash her face into a wall. People who hurt animals…they should die. Seriously. I don’t believe in the death penalty. But for animal abusers? Strap them down in that chair, pull the switch and walk away. I have no qualms about that.

  • nrward82

    I have to agree with @Kilowatthour. I’m very interested to know who Susan is. Is it Diego’s human?

  • PunkinP

    For all those wondering who Susan is. She’s the woman they bought the house from.

  • gitana

    shortly after we bought our house we were chatting with our neighbor over the fence and he informed us with a shifty side glance and a slightly lowered voice that the woman who had originally lived in the house since it had been built had been one of Manson’s girls back in the sixties…
    as he put it she was “not one of his fovorites mind….I mean..I don’t think she ever killed anybody or anything…but she was part of that whole commune and all…”

    Needless to say I don’t go in the attic….EVER.

  • Cojo

    On the bright side, Marlo looks less like Spongebob. Still altogether too cute but that goes without saying.

    Have you ever considered having your house exorcised or at least have a wiccan burn some sage and clean up the house’s aura? And people thought *you* were wackadoo. Bobcat lady trumps your wackadoo. You are no longer the valedictorian of wackadoo, sorry.

  • Peanut22

    OMG, I’m crying reading this. To think that someone would intentionally lock a poor animal in a closet is beyond my realm of thought.

    Susan should be locked in a closet for 4 weeks to see how she likes it.

    Seriously. I know that it can’t be proven and all, but the animal cruelty laws are just not strict enough.

    Thank you Heather for this brilliant story.

  • Trina

    Firstly, i’m trying NOT to laugh out load as i’m at work, and i’ll get in shit if i do, and I swear I’m going to pee my pants as I can totally see you running down the stairs to Jon and Tyrant. OMG.

    Secondly, SO happy this story has a happy ending, and that the former owner gets locked in a closet somewhere for 4 weeks! HMFFF!!!!!

    Oh yeah, who’s Susan??

  • Issa

    Sadly, I think the only thing you can do is have that tooth removed.

    My cousin’s daughter did that. She was a bit older, say 16 months maybe. Wooden chairs aren’t jungle gyms. Anyway, they had to remove her top two teeth. She was toothless until they grew in when she was about seven.

    Happy belated birthday by the way.

  • redvixen

    Oh My GOD!!! I have been wondering since @blurb tweeted that sounds like Heather found bobcat. What a story!! Glad kittie is ok, even though I am not a cat person. And I would be afraid to open closets as well. Hoping your birthdays bring calmer gifts in future 🙂

  • GraniteGirl

    I am sooooo glad this story had a happy ending! I was really sweating it there for awhile! Kudos to Tyrant for doing the leg work and finding Diego’s rightful owners. What a great story and a great birthday present! You can’t ask for a better present than some good karma!

    But I’m still curious about Marlo’s broken tooth and how that will all pan out… Keep us posted!

  • Krys72599

    I’ve been reading your blog for years now, and every time I read an entry like this one I think, “It’s just not possible for all of this to happen to one person!”
    But it does – to you!!!!
    It’s amazing!!!
    Thanks for my laugh’o’the’day!!!

  • barbara

    I have this hilarious vision in my head of you running through your house screaming. I’m sure I would have done the same thing though.

    What an awesome story. I’m glad he’s back with his owner.

  • tracy

    Oh, what a great ending. Except for the crazy-susan part. I totally have goosebumps, and am frankly surprised I’m not bawling.

    Things happen for a reason. They do. Sometimes it’s not always so easy to see it, but how awesome that you witnessed it on your birthday!

    PS, an ex and I once rescued a litter of gerbils someone had abondoned on the side of the road. Gerbils. GERBILS. So yeah. I think I know EXACTLY how you feel about lost or injured animals. 🙂

  • pinkone

    Poor, poor Diego!! and poor you, too, for the stress of not knowing at first if it was tame or feral: and having to deal with this on your bday. I am soo glad Diego is reunited (though if he hadn’t been you would have HAD to keep him, he’d be part of the family & I’d be scared of giving a cat away who’s been part of something that traumatic). Keep us posted on the tooth, would love to see pics of Diego “all better” – do you plan to stay in touch with his owner, even if only online? here’s hoping…

  • mommioandretti

    poor marlo. poor you. poor cat. at least it makes for good blogging, eh?

    no chipped teeth for my 18 month old baby boy, but he smashed the heck out of his finger with a maglite and it’s now black. not broken, just black.

    and yes, we let him play with very large, heavy flashlights. or, at least we used to.

  • ame_me

    So I know that this post was jam-packed with all sorts of things that I should be focusing on, but my brain keeps going back to you opening the closet door and finding an animal staring back at you…

    I.would.have.died.

  • Norabloom

    Susan was the woman at the hotel who helped Heather when they were trying to buy their house:

    “When the woman at the hotel finally managed to get that fax to send I asked about her name and told her that if my husband’s vasectomy miraculously reversed itself, we’d name our next kid after her.

    It’s a boy? Sorry, kid. I promised Susan in New York.”

    I think the purring Bobcat was named after Susan.

  • raddit

    ok I TOTALLY started crying to hear that Diego was reunited with his owner. Happy late birthday!

  • Tricia

    I also thought Susan was the woman who sold you the house… I had forgotten about NY hotel fax lady. Seriously, there’s been so much chaos, commotion and change with you guys recently, it’s getting hard to keep it all straight! I need The Dooce Companion or something….

  • irisheyesliz

    I’m glad that this crap happens to people other than me. July 2008, hubby away on “business” trip. I decide to change the furnace filter and find a snake. Yes I screamed and ran and jumped up and down like the little girl I am. So, I would have reacted the same way you did Heather when you saw the glowing eyes.

  • PunkinP

    Ooh- I stand corrected on who Susan is. Thanks Norabloom!

  • katnip79

    This has nothing to do with your post, but not sure where else to comment. It looks like Chuck may have a soulmate!

    http://cuteoverload.com/2010/07/16/tomatoes-that%e2%80%99s-how-it-always%c2%a0starts%e2%80%a6/

  • RoseTattoo

    Billy Bob. That’s just straight up funny!

  • Ashley in OK

    I’m not even a cat person and I’m beside myself someone would do that to an animal. I’m so glad you found him! Happy Birthday to Diego, really.

  • Svaha

    ~ Happy Belated Birthday to you!

    ~ A dentist can buff down the sharp edges on Marlo’s tooth. Shouldn’t take more than a minute to do so even a fussy baby can (usually) get through it. Happened to my youngest as well.

    ~ Glad Diego and his owner are back together. I was watching a couple of cats for a friend until she could find a pet friendly apt again. One was an outdoor cat like my cats. I live in the boonies and have lost pets to coyotes, fox, fisher cats, etc. One day one of the friend’s cats didn’t come home. At first we thought he might be with a neighbor because he was an uber friendly cat. After a couple weeks we gave up hope and assumed something had happened to him. Telling her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Three months later he came meowing out of the woods complete skin and bones and all his front claws worn down. I have a neighbor who doesn’t live in her cabin during the winter. We think he must have got trapped in a shed of hers and couldn’t get out. Couple weeks of sleeping on a heating pad and eating real food he was plumped up, his claws had grown back and reuniting him with his owner was an incredible day.

    ~ the fact that a bobcat purrs may not necessarily mean it’s friendly. It could just be happy ’cause you look tasty and are walking right up to its mouth.

  • Missybeme

    All the questions about “Who is Susan” made me think that Dooce should do a “Dooce Trivia” contest. 🙂

  • Nerissa

    I almost started crying just from reading it! Great a job saving that cat on your birthday! What a great ending….and btw, that previous owner sounds crazier (and more malicious) everyday.

  • kilowatthour

    oh, i get it now. i *was* being obtuse.

    “So Jon and I discussed this quite thoroughly, and have decided we can live without hot water, and if anything crawls out from the vents in the ceiling we will name it Susan.”

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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