The trouble might also be that our cats never went sailing with us. Saturday afternoon, at the end of another day unpacking a now-dwindling supply of boxes and scrubbing whatever that goo is that shows up on windows in newly built houses, I was sipping a glass of truly dreadful merlot (Brent's Mountain Merlot, 2005, Wintergreen Winery, Nellysford VA 22958) on the patio under the commodious porch roof, watching storm clouds rolling in from the southeast. The cats were lounging at my feet, believing in the sunny side of life to the west and ignoring the gates of hell that were opening in the opposite direction.

Now that I've swallowed the anchor, I can watch storms with leisurely fascination, knowing the likelihood of drowning in one is slim and that preparations probably won't present risky maneuvers with knots and shackles and slippery sailcloth and rolling line in a rising breeze on a pitching deck. I watched this storm until it was about 10 minutes away, then gathered up the porch furniture cushions and tossed the rest of the wine overboard. "Come on, kitties," I warned 'em. "You won't like what's coming."

The Ginger cat hopped up on a plastic chair. He's fat, so I guess he figured he could anchor it down. Obie opened one eye, then closed it and rolled over. Bob just sat there, looking at nothing in particular. I went inside to batten down the windward side of the house and invited the cats inside. Nobody accepted. "Are you sure?" Still no takers. "Okiedokie, guys. You're on your own." I closed the kitchen door.

Within two minutes, rain pelted the south windows and wind rattled berries out of the juniper trees. I watched a startled yellow cat scoot by on a wind-driven plastic chair. Obie disappeared around the east side of the house (right into the face of the storm--there's that bad karma thing he has going) and Bob started yowling to come in.

I let Bob in through the garage and watched Ginger thunder back up the patio to duck under a capsized boat that we're storing there until we figure out what to do with it. Obie came running back from the east side of the house, drenched, and flew inside. "I told ya so, dumbbells."

It rained all night and the cats pouted about it, forgetting that they don't get to go outside at night now anyway. They learned though. When Sunday afternoon delivered an encore of Saturday's weather, they kept an eye on the sky to the southeast and they came in on my first invitation.