You might also like

Monday, May 14, 2012

That lady’s place

I came home from work one night, back in the late eighties.  Both my kids were out of high school and gone; it was me and three cats—Otis, Frankie and Scotty.  As soon as I came through the front door I saw something was wrong.  Items on the front hall table were scattered and on the floor.  A burglar?  My hand was still on the door knob; I was about to back out and go for help when the broken plant, dirt and pot shards tumbling down the stairs from the living room arrested me.  What kind of burglar would be kicking my plants around.  Plants in macramé hangers, suspended from the ceiling.

I looked up the stairs into the living room.  More chaos.  An upended table.  Dirt all over the carpet.  Window curtains down. Sofa cushions on the floor.  Three cats on high alert.

“Who started this?” I demanded.  No one looked at me. They didn’t look at each other, either.

“Who did this?”  Not a muscle moved. 

I followed the trail of damage into the dining room and found the focus of cat attention.  Clinging to my lovely macramé Roman shade:  a Starling.  The biggest Starling in Lake County.  With the big, brave cat leading the way the other three trailed behind me. The Starling flew straight through the pass through into the kitchen and landed on top of a cupboard. 

I called the police.  “There’s a Starling in my house, come get it out.”  The Mentor police didn’t do that.  I assured them I would not be hanging up.  They gave me Fish and Wildlife’s number.  No answer there, so I called back to the police, who told me it was after working hours.  No kidding.  I was in my kitchen at six pm, wanting out of my suit and three inch heels and into a pot of coffee and supper.  Once again I was not hanging up until someone came for the Starling.  They offered me the “after hours” number for Fish and Wildlife emergencies, but cautioned me a fish and wildlife emergency was defined as a rabid raccoon or a deer that ran into a car.

Still in my yellow silk suit and three inch heels, with three cats sitting at my feet, staring at a Starling that stared back, I called Fish and Wildlife emergency.  A lovely lady.  Her husband, the Ranger, was down at the Chagrin River, releasing Coho salmon.  No idea when he would be back, but she would let him know.

I left the kitchen, but the cats didn’t, so I hustled them outside.  Sweatpants and a raggedy T shirt were all I could manage.  I wanted a cup of coffee, but the starling was right above the coffee maker.  I wanted something to eat, too, but the starling was in my kitchen.  I cleaned up the mess in the other two rooms and the hallway.  That Starling did not budge for the vacuum, just glared at me whenever a new load went in the trash can.  The cats kept slamming the garage door.  They could open the screen door, but the interior door was shut and they were not pleased.

I sat on the couch.  At eight o’clock I called the lovely wife again.  Oh, yes, she’d radioed him and he knew.  He was still releasing fish.  I turned on the TV and pretended there was no Starling in my kitchen and my cats weren’t slamming the garage door. 

At nine o’clock my TV shouted “I’m at that lady’s place.  Over.”  I ran to the front door, let the Ranger in and took him to the kitchen, babbling about the starling, the mess, the cats.    He took off his jacket and swung a sleeve up at the Starling.  The bird sailed to the ground.  The Ranger dropped his jacket over the bird, scooped him up and went to the front door, which I opened for him.  He opened his jacket and the Starling flew away. 

The Ranger got back in his Fish and Wildlife car, picked up his radio and said “I’m leaving that lady’s place. Over.” I made a pot of coffee and went to bed.  I had to get back up and let the cats in because they wouldn’t stop slamming the door.


  1. Life surrenders to women who do not hang up. We have no cats, but have had flickers and jays in our fireplace via the chimney. A mesh cap on it has stopped those dramas.

  2. Oh, Joanne. I have this image of you in your yellow, waiting and waiting. I bet your cats had a whale of a time before you got there!

  3. I think Clovis would have went after the starling in his younger years perhaps. He used to be a daring hunter of birds and squirrels. Joe gets snakes for people all the time as he is fearless. I run from snakes.

  4. Oh, that made me laugh! I'm a (retired) wildlife rehabber,and so used to catching birds.
    Thanks for the giggle!
    Jane x

  5. Sounds like something out Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds'. glad everything turned out OK in the end

  6. I meant to tell you I have a Canon Rebel T2i camera. Got it at Costco where you have 90 days to return it if you do not like it. It came with two lenses. You and Tom have gone to the birds today.

  7. There is supposed to be some kind of omen in having a bird in the house but it escapes me what that is... last summer we had a small bird in the house that was equally as easy to get rid of. No damage thank goodness.

  8. Those kitties must have been exhausted after that busy day! Did you ever forgive them?

    1. I concluded the bird was over their heads all day. He stayed out of reach. It was cat mayhem I cleaned up. I also believe the starling waited for a cat to reach almost the top of a curtain before flying to a new perch. For smarts, cunning and sheer mischieviousness that starling won hands down.

  9. I had a couple of birds get into the garage last year. That was enough to creep me out.

  10. Although it must have been frustrating at the time, it's pretty funny reading about it now!

  11. Oh how I remember. We have had a Crested Wood Pigeon in our house in our absence and the cats did indeed tear the place apart trying to get it. Unfortunately they did, but from the havoc wreaked it was a brave battle.

  12. OMG, Joanne, you crack me up. That is a fabulous story! All that worrying and the guy just threw his jacket over the bird!!! (Joanne, you're SUCH a girl!!!)

    You are a fine, fine storyteller. A gem!

  13. Funny story! I hope you watched him carefully - you'll be able to do it yourself next time. And if that ever happens to me, I'll probably be able to do it too, after reading your description.

    I find birds a bit scary flapping around inside, on the rare occasions they do. I suppose the bird found it even scarier.

  14. remind me never to leave the house with the cat still in it. we had a couple of wrens get in the house once, I managed to get them into the bedroom which had a door out to a little porch. Opened that door and closed the other door into the rest of the house. After a while they found their own way out.

  15. That's lady's place, ha. My cats over the years have brought me many a present, I will have to tell a few of those tales, this was a good one, I love the description of you suit and heels and then your sweat pants. Ha.

  16. Great story! I'd like to see a burglar get into your house with those three attack cats on duty! Well done!!!