A Dayton View | NevadaAppeal.com

A Dayton View

Karel Ancona-Henry
Nevada Appeal staff writer

I recently realized that I am a wanted woman who’s running a cat house.

Now this is not as bad as it sounds, and it all began about a year ago.

The first started when I would walk Natalie to the bus stop and little Robert would be there too, seeing his older siblings off to school. After the bus left, Robert and I, his little dimpled hand in mine, walked home, stopping to count to three before jumping over every crack in the road or sidewalk. It became a ritual.

On those mornings when I couldn’t or didn’t get my act together enough to get to the bus stop, I would eventually hear a “tap, tap, tap,” on the front door. About one-third the way up. So I knew before I got there that I had a little-person visitor.

First he came to give me a hug. Then one day I gave him a cookie, then muffins. Then, because I hadn’t had time to bake, he left with a lollipop.

Over time, the visits came once, sometimes twice a day and began to include Robert’s brother Joseph, then the neighbor boy Austin. Most recently, the boys brought friends who were visiting from places unknown.

It’s always the same.

“Karel, can we have a (food item) and a hug?” they ask.

Last week, while I was in the midst of writing (sometimes thoughts are fleeting and any interruption is a setback), the tapping on the door began. And kept going.

“I wonder how long a little boy will knock on the door for a cookie,” I thought. The answer is, until their knuckles bleed or you answer, whichever comes first.

So began the lesson with the neighborhood children that I’ve taught my girls since they were small. If I don’t answer after three rounds of knocking, (or if it doesn’t sound like you’re in dire circumstances) and I don’t respond, I’m writing. Come back later.

Once the boys’ mom figured out what was up, I answered the door and there was Robert, bearing a gift of cinnamon rolls then Snickerdoodles. It’s become an informal baked goods exchange program of sorts, but Sue and I have also started the conversation about taking sweeties from strangers and how the boys need to be careful about knocking on doors.

Kind of sad we have to lace the cookie/muffin/lollipop program with a reality check…

About the cat house…

Our cat, Wedgie, has been with us several years. I found him one day stuck between the front step and the fence (hence his name) and began feeding him. He stayed. To accommodate him, I usually leave a door open so he can come and go at will. Next to the door sits his food and water.

Children and cats are pretty much the same, I’m finding. If there’s food, they will come.

And cats become more brave as times goes by.

During winter, a couple strays had sought shelter in my garage and were most likely sneaking into the house for a snack when I wasn’t paying attention.

Last fall, I awoke in the wee morning hours to the sound of a cat fight in the house.

Sure enough, some other little boy – the four-legged variety – had sneaked in and laid down for a rest in one of the girls’ bedrooms and Wedgie decided at 3 a.m. it was not OK.

I learned then that one half asleep woman and two pissed cats make for an interesting fiasco.

Just last week, I was sitting in the middle of the living room floor busy with research when I heard “crunch, crunch, crunch,” and thought nothing about it until I noticed Wedgie looking rather annoyed. A tabby whose identity and residence is unknown was helping himself to the buffet. It’s also common to find four or five cats lounging about on the hot tub and sofas on the patio.

Our neighbor’s cat, Max enjoys rolling around on the back lawn, and our other neighbors and us now share custody of their cat, Shakespeare.

Shakespeare has been coming to visit since Halloween night 2006 and about a month ago, I returned from an overnight trip to find him and Wedgie sound asleep on my bed. He now splits his time between us and his Home of Origin, which Wedgie doesn’t seem to mind.

As for me, it’s all more amusing than annoying, considering the person I used to be. My grandmother, when told I was pregnant with Emily said, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” (I was far more interested in my career than children) and I’ve always believed only really old women ran cat houses.

I guess change is good!

• Contact reporter Karel Ancona-Henry at kanconahenry@sierranevadamedia.com or 246-4000.