Scat Cat! by Nancy Quinn: A Featured Fun Guest Post

Scat Cat!

    When we left the urban lifestyle of Washington, D.C., for a more tranquil existence in the rural mountains of Montana, one of our adjustments was learning to live with the new neighbors.  Our home was in a different kind of neighborhood.  Instead of being surrounded by men, women, and children, we had cougars, wolves, and bears.  These predators rarely comprehend the idea of boundaries, or the notion that good fences make good neighbors, so we find them roaming about our property, often very close to the house.  

    Our most frequent nocturnal visitors are cougars that seem particular interested in our daughters playhouse swing set.  Perhaps it is just the curiosity of all felines, but I often wonder what they would do if I left out a ball of string.  It’s doubtful they would play with it because it isn’t food.  As stunningly gorgeous as they are, we don’t want to encourage their visits.  For the safety of my family, dogs, and horses, our goal has always been to discourage predators.  As an example, one particular night stands out in my memory.

    On the second floor of our home we have a large bedroom window that provides a grand view of the back of our property.  While admiring the stars one dark evening the motion detectors suddenly activated the perimeter lights, nearly blinding us.  Once our eyes adjusted, we saw standing in the middle of the yard a very large cougar.  He paused only long enough to realize the brightness was nothing to fear before walking over to the swing set.  This had me wondering how many times he had visited us before, unnoticed.  He sat regally in the play area, surveying all about him, like a king overlooking his kingdom.  Being a wildlife artist, I was enamored with his beauty and grace, temporarily forgetting what a potential threat he was to our family.  It would be dangerous to allow him to believe this was part of his territory.

    I was about to comment on this fact to my husband, but when I turned to speak, he was not there, having immediately retreated to the closet.  He ransacked it, searching for his rifle and ammunition.  As he fumbled to load it, I continued to admire the feline in his pose.  My husband opened the window, but was blocked by the mesh screen.  As he tugged fruitlessly to remove it, the cat rose from his perch and began to walk toward the woods.  On my last look at him, the cougar, who seemed completely unaware of the flurry he had created only a short distance above, slowly and confidently sauntered into the tree line, still secure in the knowledge that this world was his.

    We tried to follow his movements through the darkness with a flashlight, but the battery soon died.  My increasingly frustrated husband, incensed by the attitude of the beast, rushed downstairs and out onto the patio where he fired a single shot into the air, then shouted, “And stay out!” as a warning for the puma not to return.

    I have no wish to harm this mountain lion or capture him, except in spirit on canvas and paper.  I have handled many cougars in captivity, but seeing them in the wild is a thrill I will never tire of.

For more stories in our western adventure read “Go West, Young Woman!”  

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The Empty Chair by Phyllis Entis: A Featured Fun Guest Post.

The Empty Chair

It was always his chair, the deep-cushioned recliner with the pop-up foot rest that dominated one corner of the room. He did everything in that chair. Well, not quite everything. But it was his reading chair, his talking chair, his TV-watching chair, his snacking chair, and his snoozing chair. The recliner followed Mom and Dad from house to house, from living room to living room. It shed its upholstery periodically and grew a new covering, like a reptile shedding its skin and emerging glistening and freshly clad. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always a part of home. A part of him.

The chair didn’t empty suddenly. The process was a gradual one – a subtle stealing away. Nor did the chair empty in any physical sense. Dad still sat in it; he just didn’t inhabit it anymore. The conversations faded first as Alzheimer’s insinuated itself into and through his brain. Reading was next to go; although he kept up the habit of holding a newspaper or book, he never turned the pages. As the months and years marked the infiltration of the leading edge of his illness, he would stare blankly at the TV screen, his book or magazine held forgotten – often upside down – in his hands. Eventually, even the pretense of reading vanished along with his memories, his laughter, his love of life and his awareness of his wife and family.

The chair is gone now. It broke down soon after Dad died. He and it had grown old together, had grown tired together. The chair mourned the loss of the familiar contours of his body and refused to form a relationship with anyone else. Mom had the chair removed, and the corner where it once stood remained empty for a long time.

When Mom moved to her new apartment, she purchased a new chair – one without Dad’s imprint. Mom’s chair was her throne. She sat in it to watch TV, to nap, to snack on her tea and muffin, and to bask in the joy of receiving visitors. Especially family. She would sit proudly, the center of attention, trading quips, puns and jokes with anyone who would listen. But not anymore. Mom’s chair is empty now. We lost her last month, just six weeks after she celebrated her 93rd birthday surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She and Dad are back together again, sitting peacefully side-by-side as they used to do. Holding hands, trading stories, and basking in their mutual love.


Phyllis Entis is the author of the Damien Dickens Mysteries series, which includes The Green Pearl Caper, The White Russian Caper and The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper. Her debut novel, The Green Pearl Caper, was a Library Journal SELF-e Selection. Phyllis is a free-lance writer and retired food safety microbiologist with degrees from McGill University and the University of Toronto. In 2007, ASM Press published her non-fiction book, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives.
Phyllis Entis
Phyllis lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California with her husband and their Australian Cobberdog, Shalom. When she’s not writing, Phyllis usually can be found walking around town, browsing in the local library, or enjoying her garden

You can learn even more about Phyllis, her books and her other writing at Gone Writing.

Follow Phyllis and see all her books listed at her Amazon Author Page.