Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Orson escaped

Orson went out in the back yard Monday morning as usual, but when Velma came home and we went to call him in from the back door, he didn't come. This is strange, since he usually comes running as soon as he hears us open the door.

We looked around the yard and he was nowhere to be found. The gate was ever so slightly ajar, so we figured he must have squeezed out.

We started looking around the apartments and houses in the alley near our yard, but he didn't come no matter how many times we called. We looked over fences, went into the yards of the neighbors we know, and then started making larger circles in our search.

I kept expecting to hear the tinkling little bell on his collar any minute, but as it got later and later, and he didn't come running up meowing, I started to get worried.

Velma had a thing to go to in the evening after dinner, but I was getting too worried to eat, so after she left I grabbed my flashlight and started walking around the block calling and whistling for him. Orson usually comes to my whistle.

He's been out all day! I kept thinking, How far could he have gone in that time?

But he's not that bold. He wouldn't have gone too far. Or would he? Did another cat come along? Maybe Orson went running along with him, only to get lost somewhere blocks away where he's never been.

Wild conspiracy theories started whirling around in my head as I passed a telephone poll with a "LOST CAT" poster on it. Is there a cat thief in our neighborhood? Did someone see Orson in the yard and grab him? He's friendly enough to strangers that he probably wouldn't put up a fight (damn him). Did a nasty landlord catnap him? But no, the two bricks that keep the gate closed from the inside weren't moved, and a thief wouldn't have been able to replace them from outside the gate.

I came home and made dinner, hoping Orson would show up at the back door now that it had gotten dark. Maybe he'd gone exploring and then got lost or freaked out by a noise or something and has been hiding out quietly all afternoon somewhere nearby...I hoped.

Damn cat. A year and a half ago I was verging on taking him back to the SFSPCA, but today I actually like him, now that he's calmed down and become more like a normal cat.

What if we've lost him?

I thought about Luna, who was hit by a speeding car on my supposedly quiet street in Mountain View. I thought about Bandit, the kitten I had when I was a little kid. One of the first times she went out in the back yard, she got scared and hid in the center of a bush after dark, even while my dad and I were walking all around nearby, calling for her, looking with flashlights. What if Orson's so freaked out that he won't come even if he hears us calling him? I'll never spot him in all the nooks and crannies in this city!

I went out again after eating dinner and walked around for over an hour, several blocks in every direction, making a wide loop of the neighborhood around our house. I even went down Mission and Ceasar Chavez, looking in parking lots and under cars, the whole time dreading that I'd spot him dead in the street.

Damn cat.

Velma got home around 11pm and we went out in the alley again, and around the block one more time. No jingly bell. No meow. No Orson.

Velma went to bed. I stayed up an hour or so longer, looked out the back door hoping he'd come back. No Orson.

I took a shower and got ready for bed, looking out the door one more time. No Orson.

Velma had put one of his blankets and a bowl of water outside the back door. We'd left the bedroom window open in case we'd hear him meowing in the middle of the night. I hoped he'd come back in the night.

Velma woke up early as usual, and went to check on him.

No Orson.

She left for work, and I fell asleep again, thinking about how to make "Lost Cat" poster.

I awoke when I heard the front door open. Velma had gotten all the way downtown and turned around to come home again, worried about Orson. She went straight to the back door to check again, I heard her open it and call, "Here kitty..."

Then I heard her voice raise a couple octaves and call again, practically with panic, "Here kitty!" and I sat up in bed. I heard her going out the back yard into the alley, and her voice got more distant, but I could tell she was saying something. I just couldn't hear what she was saying.

A minute later she came back in and I heard the back door shut, and next I heard the jingly little bell I'd been afraid I'd never hear again, as she set Orson down on the kitchen floor and he pranced off to his water dish.

She found the little white furry bastard meowing from the neighbors' yard, right across the alley from our back yard. He was trapped in their yard (although not really, since there's a big cat-sized gap under their gate door), and we have no idea where he'd spent all night. Or the day before, for that matter. Maybe he was just a couple backyards away and couldn't hear us calling. Maybe he'd been exploring under some house (he was covered in dust and dirt) and couldn't hear us. Maybe he was lost the whole time and just finally found his way back home in the morning. We have no idea. I'm just glad he's back.

Damn cat.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Other names for Orson

One night last year, before Velma and I had decided whether to keep the name he'd come with from the SFSPCA, Jenny and I brainstormed names for our all-white vampire cat.

Socrates (pronounced the Bill & Ted way)


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is Orson as smart as Nora?

Velma got a book from the library on clicker training your cat. She started a couple days ago on the training, and despite one setback that left her punctured and incredibly bloody, she's had a bit of success.

My guess is it's going to be slow going with our somewhat dumb vampire cat, but we'll see. I'm staying out of the clicker training for now. But I'm hoping Velma can eventually teach Orson to play chopsticks...or turn out the lights...

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