So, I stagger in after work on Thursday and flop in the recliner. I was fighting a cold and just worn out. The kids are playing nicely (ha) and I\’m vegetating, when I start to hear this awful sound. A cross between a meow and a cry. I assume it is our pet-stray cat we\’ve named Kingy, and he/she\’s hurt, so I begin pacing from window to window to find him/her. (Kingy is only our cat in the sense that we feed him/her. He/she was left behind when our former neighbors moved away.)

Jack and I explore around and find nothing, so back to the recliner I go. Audrey is freaking out because she can hear this terrible noise and she knows that a cat is IN THE HOUSE, which is not good, since she is terrified of anything bearing fur. I reassure her that there is no cat in the house, and then, all of a sudden, SOMETHING bangs up against the HVAC return vent. SOMETHING is in there.

\”Okay, kids, grab your shoes and coats. We\’re going to the car,\” I pronounce bravely. My mind is not so calm. Holy cow! What the heck is in there? A skunk? A racoon? And where\’s John? Why won\’t he answer his phone?

My kids are absolutely silent in the car as we wait patiently for John to arrive home. He does, half an hour later. When he sees us bundled up and waiting in the van, I reveal that we have a critter somewhere in the duct work. He and I venture back in the house, John with a shovel in hand (?!?) and are greeted by a lovely aroma. At first, I think skunk. But, as I am able to tolerate it for more than ten seconds, I realize that it is not skunk. It is, in fact, cat pee.

The smell is overpowering. We don\’t know where this animal is, and we know that there is no way Audrey Gilbert will sleep in this house tonight. We pack up the essentials and head west to the Holiday Inn Express for a fun filled mini-vacation. The kids love it. I am stressed to the max and crabby beyond description. A Wal-Mart run to grab a few forgotten essentials soothes me somewhat, but still, I am thinking, \”THIS is my life? For real?\”

I can reflect on this now without losing my cool because the house smells okay again, a the cat was caught (and released), and the exterior vent he/she used to enter in has been sealed. All in all, it was just another typical day at the Gilbert house.


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