Unfortunately, the worst thing about being on vacation is missing the pets. Ideally, when one takes a vacation, one would like to spend more time with one's pets, but unfortunately I can't take the brood with me when I visit my parents. First of all, they just won't fit on the plane. Second of all, my dad would not be pleased with what Tess could do to the hardwood flooring. I love my girl, but she is kind of a bull in a china shop.
I realized that animals are so ingrained in my day-to-day goings-on when I walked into my childhood home with my parents after the ride back from the airport and I was disappointed that there were no critters flocking to the door ready to greet us as we came in. It amazes me that even after all these years I still expect to see Flag at the front door when I walk in. I expect to see Mindi trotting out of the kitchen or sitting on the couch, watching us with her big blue eyes. I still listen for Daphne's high-pitched weiner-dog yapping that always made me clap my hands over my ears. It doesn't matter how old I get, or how settled into an adult routine in a town a thousand miles away. When I walk into my parents' house I am fifteen again, gangly and awkward, and most comfortable with animals. Time seems to stand still here and my strongest memories still seem to be of the animals we adopted and fostered over the years. The house seems empty and strange without them.
My parents haven't had pets in years, but so much of my life growing up involved animals that I still find it hard to adjust to an entire week of no critters. My first day of vacation, I spent with my best friend in Colorado, and even she has her two Bengal kittens that I couldn't seem to leave alone while I was there. Animals just make life worth living, I think. And while a vacation is a good thing - it's nice to get away from the grind of work, the cliquishness of my town, and the lunacy of some of the library patrons - a vacation would be so much better if I could bring Tess with me and take long walks around the lake with her, or have Puckett to sleep with me in my old childhood bed. Percy and Willow would love my parents' house - there are so many places to jump on and all this space to run through. Plenty of things to break. This is all fantasy, though. I know in reality that Tess is so territorial that she would be a complete basket case in a strange, unfamiliar place that she would never have a moment's rest, and in turn would drive the rest of us crazy. Puckett would judge. Percy and Willow would destroy the house, starting with my mother's breakable knickknacks, and I would probably never be invited back. In the real world they are better off where they are, at home with the Cowboy fulfilling their every need. True, Tess will refuse to eat for a day or two, Puckett will poop in my shoe and ignore me for three days when I come home, and Percy and Willow will huddle together in kitty solidarity, wondering why their world has been rocked, but the Cowboy spoils them worse than I do. He'll take Tess for runs and play with the cats and probably let Puckett sleep on the pillows.
A week with no animals is weird. To satisfy my craving I ended up watching the FIDO channel where they were showing a program about police dogs in Manchester, England. Every dog that trotted across the screen made me point and say, "It's Tess!" My mother says there are birds outside to watch and geese on the lake, and if I get too lonely for animals my old boss at the animal shelter has a couple of labs I can play with. I will probably end up at the animal shelter that was my first job just to get my animal fix and then of course I will probably smuggle some unsuspecting kitten back in my suitcase and cause a stir with airport security. I can't handle a whole week without animals. By the time I fly back to Colorado, I'll be so desperate for animal love that I'll annoy my best friend's kittens to the point of homicidal feelings. They may murder me in my sleep before I get a chance to fly home to Wyoming.
Imagine my glee when I realized I was sharing the downstairs level of my parents' house where my old bedroom is with two unexpected guests even my mother didn't know about. I call them Cheyenne and Gertie. Cheyenne is a brown widow. I'm not sure what Gertie is, but they have each spun a web on either side of the door frame of the bedroom - rather large, impressive webs - and they don't seem too concerned that I have invaded their living space. Cheyenne was a little shy at first. She slipped behind the wood frame with just a leg hanging out until the next morning when she obviously decided that I'm okay and hung rather blatantly in the middle of her web. She also left a bug carcass on the floor. Gertie is smaller and more subtle. She hasn't left any remnants of meals lying around yet, and clearly she is much more outgoing because she felt no need to hide even when I poked her web a little. Apparently I'm not the only one who attracts spiders, my mother seems to as well. My best friend from college (who I will get to see this week) also just acquired a gorgeous bird-eating spider he hasn't yet named and he proudly sent me a few pictures. She's pretty, but I'm not sure I want anything bigger than Cheyenne hanging around loose outside my temporary bedroom. I'm not exactly into Shelob here.
This morning I got up to go to the bathroom and Gertie had decided to pay Cheyenne a visit. She was hanging at the bottom of Cheyenne's web with a bug carcass below her, almost like she was stopping by for tea and bringing a housewarming gift.
I'd better get back to my pets soon. I may be losing my mind. I'm talking to spiders and personifying them to the point that they appear to be having regular tea times with each other.
The babies in Colorado
PIGGIES IN THE WATER!
Cheyenne is not ready for her close up.