08 May 2010

Nine lives?

I don't know about cats having nine lives, but Bertie seems to have at least two. He's the cat we “rescued” — got as a gift, I should say — from a departing English friend about a month ago. Yesterday we discovered a side of Bertie that we hadn't been aware of before.

In the middle of the afternoon, as the attic work crew was finishing up its work for the day and the week, somebody rang the bell down at the front gate. It was M., the woman from across the street. She and her husband, B., live up in Blois but have a weekend/summer house here in the hamlet.

Our hamlet (9 houses) on the edge of the Renaudière vineyard

M. is one of the neighbors who was clearly not pleased when we announced that we had adopted a cat. “Yet another cat in the neighborhood!” she exclaimed rather shrilly, I thought. “If you knew how many crottes” — that's French for poo or poop — “I have to dig out of my flower beds, you'd understand.”

The next day, she went so far as to bring us some crottes de chat, in a little tray, for our inspection. I assured her that Bertie did his crottes in a litter box in the garage. I know, because I clean it out daily. I didn't really need to see the poops that M. brought for us to admire, or commiserate over.

Peonies are in bloom in the back yard right now.

Another neighbor has at least two, and maybe three cats, you see. And those cats must be pooping in M.'s garden. It's not anything new, because the neighbor's cats have been around for the seven years we've lived here. A few days ago, when I mentioned to that particular neighbor, C., that some in the hamlet really don't like cats, she basically said « Tant pis ! » — Tough!

And she said, as I've heard her say before, « On est quand même à la campagne ici. » — we live out in the country, and everybody might as well get used to it. I think she's right. I'm sure the cats help keep down the rodent population.

The new stair is on the landing, next to the kitchen.

So M. was at the front gate yesterday. She's been a good friend to us, and it was a friendly visit. She wanted to get a first look at the attic work, I think. I invited her in to see the new stair, and then I invited her to walk up and see the room. She did, and she was surprised at how spacious the attic is. « C'est énorme ! », she said, « et très clair. Quel changement pour vous ! »

After looking around for a couple of minutes and chatting with her, I decided to bring up the subject of the cat. “Oh, he's something else! ” she said. “He sits on our window sill and watches us through the glass.” She laughed.

Notice that the old wallpaper is mostly gone now.
We'll have pictures of it as souvenirs.

“The cleaning lady says he comes right in the house with her when she arrives. The other day, she found the cat upstairs, sitting on a bed under a Velux window.” Another chuckle.

“The cleaning lady said she was afraid she might lock the cat in by accident when she finishes work, and she was worried about that,” M. went on. “I told her not to fret, because the cat's owners have the key. If the cat doesn't come home in the evening, they can come over and look for him — they have the key.” That's us. We do have their key, and they have ours.

Our friend Sue from California planted this row of irises
in our back yard when she visited in 2006.

I again reassured M. that Bertie is most likely not one of the cats pooping in her flowers. And I was glad to learn that Bertie has made some new friends in the hamlet. His secret life is no secret any more.


  1. Ken, I loved that tale of Bertie and your neighbors. Since he isn't allowed to come into your house and be with you and Walt, and he obviously craves human company, he is looking to the neighbors for some of that. I wish you and Walt could figure out a way that you all (that is you, Walt, Callie, and Bertie, could all be together, at least some parts of the day, in your house. Perhaps time will take care of that!

    I'm loving reading (and seeing) the wonderful progress in your attic space. It's going to be just beautiful! And love reading about the saga of Bertie, as it continues.

    Donna in SF


  2. Good for Bertie ! It didn't take long for him to integrate !

  3. I still can't believe she brought crottes for inspection.

  4. ...and the lion lays down with the lambs(or something like that).

  5. LOL, Bill. M. is a lioness, in many ways.

    Meredith, we couldn't believe it either. M. is a woman who really doesn't like animals. She wants her place to be perfect, and crotte-less.

    Donna, the two animals are aware of each other. When the weather improves, and the attic work is finished, we will get them together. It has to happen this summer. Bertie can't live in the cold garage and the cold outdoors next winter. He has to move indoors, and Callie is going to have to deal with it. Both animals are so sweet and docile that it is bound to work out.

  6. Your neighbor, M is a piece of work, but Bertie is fearless. Good for him. I think he's enjoying the good life.

    I bet all the neighbors will be wanting to see the attic work...

  7. Oh, that Bertie! That's a great story:)) I agree that Bertie just wants some love :)

    I have never heard of someone bringing animal crottes over for inspection. What a hoot.

    I love the new staircase!


  8. It's fun to read about you discovering what it's like to live with a cat! They are so much their own creatures with their own lives.

    I once moved into a large apartment complex with my gregarious cat and before long, I would watch from my balcony as he was greeted by name by neighbors who were complete strangers to me. When I talked to one, she told me that Sebastian often dropped by and took a nap on her bed with her rabbit!

    Also, congratulations on getting rid of that wallpaper!

  9. i think the fact that ur neighbor has so many kitty crottes in her yard may be drawing Mr B over there too...a sense of cat community so to speak....good that u have a key to her place...at least u know where to look if he's missing for a while.....i'm glad she sounds like she's not too offended by B visiting.....attic work lookin great...it'll be nice to finally be able to let B inside so he doesn't feel left out

  10. Bertie is very smart. The good thing with cats is that they adapt anywhere.
    The garden looks beautiful, as well as the staircase. You are so close to the end, I can't wait to see the end project (either with soft or hardwood floors -lol).

  11. Reminds me of an All Creatures Great and Small story about a cat that disappear from home and go attend church meetings and social events.
    M should have brought you longue des chats cookies, not crotte des chats. Euuww ick-what an odd thing to do.

  12. I can't believe someone would actually go to the trouble of bring crottes on a platter. That's hilarious.

  13. Why not take a piece of that old wallpaper and "frame" it in a small picture frame and hang it in the hallway.....I know, I have a weird sense of decor. Staircase looks great.

  14. Good on Bertie,
    Cats have the ability to change anyone's poor opinion of them - they just usually can't be bothered!
    Your neighbour sounds like a piece of work. I think you should respond with some of Callie's crottes on a platter so she can see how lucky she is to just have cat ones!

  15. Bertie is one smart cat--he'd have been a good diplomat. Another benefit to M is that if Bertie is in her house, just the scent of cat may help keep away undesirable critters.

    Second the congratulations on getting rid of the wallpaper, and love the idea of framing a bit of it as a memento.


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