Summer Blues
by Gilles d'Aymery

July 21, 1997

Dear Readers, I am aware that Swans has not published anything new in over a week and we have not given you any explanation for our sudden silence. So, allow me to bring you some personal news in my usual impersonal way...

It all started on July 7, 1997. On that day a tree-cutting company used our yard to cut a dead Monterey pine tree in one of our neighbor's lot. That evening, Luigi, one of our three cats disappeared. From then on here is a slice of our life:

Tuesday, July 8, 1997
Jan is in Pennsylvania. She left on Sunday evening. It is early morning. Both Blackie and Bijou (our two other cats) are begging for food. Luigi is nowhere to be seen. In the evening this writer takes his bicycle and pedals around the neighborhood to no avail.

Wednesday, July 9, 1997
Jan is back from her business trip. Luigi is still AWOL. Jan gets weary; while I gave birth to Luigi six years ago before leaving for Tunisia on a short-term job at the museum of Carthage, Jan had to take care of the kitten when her mother, Bijou, smashed her in the eye. Jan spent hundreds of dollars to save Luigi's eye. Luigi is Jan's cat.

Thursday, July 10, 1997
The Humane Society of San Mateo, California, which I visited and filed a report, does not have Luigi. A realtor visits us regarding the value of our house and lot.

Friday, July 11, 1997
Swans' webmaster posted an interesting article about our country and its defense spending. Jan and this webmaster-writer leave for Paso Robles in Central California to spend the night at the home of Katy, Jan's college friend, on the way to Santa Barbara for a job interview.

Saturday, July 12, 1997
We drive down to Santa Barbara and immediately check out the area. The questions are: Would we feel comfortable living down there, can we afford the place, and do they have baguettes (remember, this writer was born in France)?

Sunday, July 13, 1997
We keep looking around and we have no way of knowing whether Luigi is back home, safe. We saw a nice house with the help of a great and friendly realtor. Can we afford it?

Monday, July 14, 1997
The job interview goes fine and we drive back to Northern California. Luigi is not there when we arrive.

Tuesday, July 15, 1997
This writer scans a couple of Luigi's pictures and creates a flier. He prints one hundred copies in color and photocopies an additional 500 copies in black and white and goes back to the Humane Society - once more to no avail. In the evening, Jan starts plastering the neighborhood with fliers.

Wednesday, July 16, 1997
Jan finishes blasting the neighborhood with Luigi's poster. We offer a reward. Phone calls start coming. But no Luigi. The tree company that took out the dead pine tree delivers a huge load of what was supposed to be wood chips.

Thursday, July 17, 1997
This commentator starts using the wood chips and finds out that he got had. The wood chips are merely cheap mulch. He also goes to the back of the property, through the hedge, on to the fence and starts whistling his calling tune to the cats. The area is quiet. He keeps whistling and without warning hears a slight meowing. He repeats his whistling and again hears a faint answer. He calls the cat's name, Luigiiiiii, in a stressful way, and the meowing answers back. It seems to come from the neighbor's workshop. He walks to that person's property. He knocks on the door. Nobody is home. He decides to trespass and walks to the workshop door where he whistles and then calls again. The answer is clear; Luigi is locked inside. He's been gone for ten days now. This neighbor, two years ago, locked Blackie, our third cat in his garage for a full week. He also sued us over a stupid fence. It's a long story. Nasty, pathological people do exist. So, instead of breaking the door, the police and the SCPA are called, as well as Jan and our brotherly neighbor, Frank.

They all come at the same time. First Frank, then three police officers, and Jan, and eventually two women from the SPCA. We walk to the neighbor's home, to his workshop, find a vent that one police officer cuts away and Luigi is liberated. This household has tears in their eyes! Luigi ate three cans of food.

In the evening, the realtor visits us again to give us an appraisal of our property, were we to move to Santa Barbara. Another job offer is being refused for lack of competitive bidding. Whether the job is about Jan or this writer (sorry, can't be specific at this time), it has to make sense. That one did not.

Friday, July 18, 1997
It is decided to take it easy over the weekend. A lost cat, a potential new job, selling the house, buying a new one... Enough stress!

Saturday, July 19, 1997
Taking it easy appears to have a relative meaning in this household. A contractor, building a new house on the adjacent street and whom this writer met searching for Luigi, owns a bunch of 10-foot 4 by 4's that he cannot use for his building project and needs to dump them. We offer to take them off his site. Forty or more pieces of lumber that we load with the help of good ol' Frank on our 1962 Chevy truck, and lay down along the hedge of pittosporum we planted one and one half years ago all around our property line.

In the evening, already laying out and sticking the lumber to the ground with little regard for his aching back, this commentator gets interrupted by another unpleasant episode. A third neighbor who happens to have a feud with the cat's kidnapper comes rushing in the yard through the door in our contiguous fence and starts shouting at this now bewildered and physically as well as emotionally tired writer-webmaster-cat rescuer-gardener (pick and choose) who, for the occasion, seems to have become a "mother f....." and other friendly qualificatives not worth repeating here. Object of the crime? We dared passing through his property with the police officers to go and deliver Luigi from his imprisonment. Upon threatening to condemn the door, put barbed wire, kill our pittosporums and whatever other neighborly acts, he leaves our yard - in our neighborhood it's okay to trespass (what a moronic concept, trespassing...) to go and insult someone but it's a crime to pass through in case of an emergency.

Sunday, July 20, 1997
Now, it's the turn of the kidnapper to talk to us over the fence. Luigi could not have been in his workshop for more than two days and anyway the f...... cat (Luigi and I have the "F" word in common!) is back and looks healthy. Jan talks to him against my recommendation and is happy to report that she was very neutral. Jan loves neutrality - she must have Swiss blood running through her veins. Of course, instead of remaining silent, this frailed mind made a few unfriendly remarks about the concept of neutrality which pretty much plagued our evening with distress.

This writer is going to turn 47 in three days. His leg - with a double compound fracture which occurred last August thanks to the grace of an uninsured motorist who opened his car door at the wrong time - is still hurting, though getting better. Luigi is back to his parents (we have no children). The job's situation is in limbo. And we have great neighbors! Swans has suffered.

And you were left holding the cup.

I apologize.

Please, think of us and Swans with kindness. It is summer after all!

Published July 21, 1997
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