My Sunshine

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The world lost a wonderful, furry soul today.

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Little Gus was technically a cat, but somehow he was far more. Perhaps part dog and part human, he was his own breed. He always wanted to be with people and always had love to give.

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Gus didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was so sweet, I swear he was made of pure sugar. Such a friendly and innocent little fellow, he even made converts out of “non-cat people” and “cat haters.”

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Call me a crazy cat lady all you want, but Gus and I definitely had conversations.

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He would be looking for me, saying what surely sounded to me like “He-lloooo.” It was one short meow and then one long.

He would say, “Meow, meoooow.”

And I would say, “He-lloooo.”

And we would repeat this several times until he found me and came trotting around the corner, his little fur trousers swaying side to side.

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I was certainly as much a fool for Gus as he was for me. I would sing to him “Rock-a-bye Gussy” And “You Are My Sunshine.” As I cradled him like a baby with his paws in the air and rocking him side to side, he would look up at me with those big green eyes. I’m sure he was thinking something along the lines of “I have no idea what that sound is coming out of your mouth, but I think it comes from a good place and I love you. But please don’t quit your day job.”

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Oh how he loved shoes. He was a bit metro, I suppose. Particularly when I would return from being gone longer than usual, the moment I took off my shoes he was over snuggling up to them.

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We almost lost him three years ago to acute kidney failure when he was just four years old. The vet said his numbers were so low, she was amazed he was alive and that we would be lucky to have him through that weekend. He made it through the weekend, and the next week and the week after that, slowly but surely regaining his strength and cheerful attitude.   The past three years, he was on borrowed time, but it still seems far too soon to lose such a special little guy. He was a miracle in so many ways.

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I really believe that he stayed with us to make sure that my move south went well, that I was happy and settled. He knew I needed him and he was always there to keep me company.

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Thankfully, I took up blogging and got a new camera before I moved. That gave me the excuse to take a million pictures of my cats. I’m sure my blog readers got a little tired of the cat posts. But, hey, they were my willing (and only) subjects in my little apartment and now I have album upon album of Gus pictures. I will forever treasure the countless Gus expressions I was able to capture. He was such a character.

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Last night, he was curled up against my legs on the sofa as usual as we watched the news. He tucked me into bed, rubbing up against me and hugging my face with his tail. I pointed out to Eugene how loudly he was purring. He was so content to be there with us.

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We found him this morning laying like he always does on the kitchen floor where it’s nice and cool.   He looked so peaceful. The vet said it was likely a blood clot, sudden and unpreventable. I’m so thankful he didn’t suffer. I just can’t believe he’s gone.

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Gussy,

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

You make me happy when skies are grey

You never know, dear, how much I love you,

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Even though you’re not here anymore, I know your light will always be shining down on us.

Love you, little buddy.

The Sugarlump

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The Cat That Cried Salmon

It was a gloomy day in middle Tennessee on Monday.   To perk up after my lunch meeting, I decided to make myself a coffee. I usually limit myself to coffee in the morning so this is a departure from my routine. As my coffee machine (the setting up of which I will detail in a future post) was warming up, Gus started having an absolute fit, meowing loudly and constantly, desperately trying to get my attention. At first I thought something was wrong, but both he and Scarlett didn’t seem to be in any life-threatening binds. I went to the fridge to grab the half-and-half for my coffee and Gus continued his tirade, putting his paws up on the freezer drawer and looking up at the half-eaten can of salmon on the top shelf. He had been fed that morning per usual so I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss what about. Then it dawned on me. The term “conditioned response” popped into my not yet caffeinated brain and I realized that Gus heard the coffee machine warming up, which usually signals that I am about to crack open a can of Fancy Feast for his breakfast. As I assume he doesn’t track time very well, it was morning for all he knew and he heard his cue to beg for food like he hadn’t been fed in weeks and his life was falling to pieces.

 

I shouldn’t have been surprised that he would pull such a stunt. This is how we started the day (after his first round of salmon):

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I heard him crying like he was stuck or hurt and looked around the corner only to see him antagonizing Scarlett.

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He meows pitifully to provoke her and then punches her in face. What a punk.

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Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

 

Knock Knock…

During the ice age we experienced recently, there was a woodpecker that kept trying to peck through the exterior wall of my office.  I don’t really blame him except for the fact that he made it very hard for me and Gus and Scarlett to concentrate.  Me on my work and Gus and Scarlett on their naps.

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Barney Fife and Andy Griffith had narrowed in on this situation, springing into action from their deep slumber on the sofa in a matter of seconds.

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Scarlett tried to stare a hole through the wall.  Gus got distracted by a woman walking her dog.

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Scarlett assumed the position as the suspect’s knocking intensified.

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Scarlett decided she needed a better angle.

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Although this looks like a tender moment, Gus was not pleased that Scarlett infringed on his personal space.

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Gus shared his feelings and Scarlett quickly made him regret it.

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“Are you calling me fat???!!”

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Tensions subsided as the two were quickly reminded of the task at hand.  Mr. Pecker had resumed his knocking.

All in a day’s work.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

Kitty Christmas

Having had such a nice Christmas ourselves, it would have been just plain rude not to get the cats a little something. Not that they really care.  They normally end up playing in the gift boxes anyway.  But I happened upon another fabulous fur find and couldn’t resist getting the little boogers a treat from Santa.

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I got them a big, soft bed and a new scratching/play toy combo gym thing.

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While Gus was immediately hypnotized by the carpeted ball tree, Scarlett gave me the “I asked for a Play Station 4” look.

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Scarlett pouted for a minute as Gus executed his attack.

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It took a few minutes for them to declare the new bed habitable, but they eventually got in it.

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The bed is plenty big enough for both of them to relax in it comfortably.  This isn’t exactly the sleeping configuration I had imagined. From the looks of it, it wasn’t what Scarlett had in mind either.

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After a while, Scarlett settled into a position with a little more breathing more.  As for Gus, I decided to have a little fun with him and put one of those paper “ribbons” on him.   At first, he acted like it was some debilitatingly heavy back brace even though it couldn’t have weighed 1/8 of an ounce.  He went and sat in the bed with Scarlett to recover from his condition.

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Then he forgot he had a condition and a back brace and decided that hangy-ball needed catching.

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Mmmm, tastes like salmon.

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Time for a nap.

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Burst of energy!

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Time for another nap.

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He slowly overcame his condition, got up from the bed…

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and started to step out of his back brace to check out the carpet ball tree from another angle…

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Then he got distracted and had to sniff Eugene’s gift boxes…

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Nearly free of his shackles, he spotted Eugene’s egg-shaped lip gloss that was evidently much more entertaining than his gifts.  He and Scarlett then spent the next 30 minutes chasing it around the living room.

I should have just gotten them lip gloss.

And a Play Station 4.

Y’all keep it real,

Sugarlump

Tax Avoidance (Not Evasion)

It’s funny how, when faced with doing your taxes, vacuuming the sofa and ironing your socks become wildly appealing activities.  Suddenly, tackling that oil painting for my living room that I’ve been putting off since I moved in 11 months ago seems very urgent.  Brushing the cats’ teeth and cleaning out that “catch-all” basket of receipts, screw-drivers, lotion samples, paperclips and nail polish is just too hard to resist.

Doing my taxes really isn’t all that bad.  Because I own a business, I have an accountant who sends me a really nice tax organizer that makes the experience as painless and straight-forward as possible.  Every year, after I complete the document to return to her, I remark on how surprisingly simple it was.  And every year, I put off doing my taxes because something about it makes me want to do just about anything else.  I can’t explain it.

Today, instead of doing my taxes, I’ve done 4 loads of laundry and 1 load of dishes.  I’ve vacuumed, changed the sheets on my bed, rearranged the furniture and cleaned out the refrigerator.  Then I happened to find myself at Homegoods where I purchased 2 mirrors that were not the size I needed, but I had to have them.  Consequently, I have spent the last hour re-hanging everything on the walls in my apartment to accommodate said purchases.

At least I will have a fresh environment in which to do my taxes…whenever that may be.

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Off to French-braid Scarlett’s fur.  Doesn’t she look excited.

Y’all be responsible,

Sugarlump

Jailbreak

Until recently, I had left Gus and Scarlet in my bedroom suite when out of the house so that I did not return to find them patrolling the top of the upper cabinets in my kitchen.  I’ve heard that animals like to be somewhat confined anyway.  Maybe somebody feeling guilty about leaving his/her animals in a small space made that up, but I was going with it.  My cats had all of my bedroom, hall and bathroom to roam and they had all the food they could eat, water they could drink and litter box they could…well you know what I mean.  They were all set.

Imagine my surprise one night when I come home from work and am greeted at the front door by two 15” tall furry creatures eager to see the world beyond the front door.  I quickly closed the door and stood there for a minute, amazed that they could have gotten out.  I have small French doors that must be very forcefully pulled open and closed for the spring to lock.  How a 13 pound cat without thumbs or considerable muscle mass can open a door I struggle with on a daily basis is beyond me.  I thought maybe this was just a fluke and that perhaps I hadn’t closed the doors all the way.  But lo and behold, the next day, I was again welcomed home/hounded for food at the front door.

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When my parents were here a couple of weeks back, we decided to run an experiment to see how long it takes them to get the door open.  I closed the cats in my bedroom and headed out to work, leaving my mom in the living room.  My mom texted me not 20 minutes later that she had company.  Those little rascals.

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I also used to close my bedroom suite a night to keep the cats from standing on the stove and potentially scorching a tail or two.  In the middle of the night after the first few daytime escapes, I would hear the rattling of the door and then all of the sudden a click sound as the spring released and the door opened.

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Turns out Miss Scarlett is the brains and the brawn of this operation.  Gus doesn’t know nothin’ ‘bout nothin’.

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I have relented and let them roam the place as they please when I am gone now.  Although the other night, I had my hands full of groceries as I walked in the door and little Mr. Gus waltzed right out into the breezeway.  I shuffled groceries at lightning speed and grabbed Gus by the tail to drag him back inside.  I almost had a heart attack because there would be no catching that little booger if he got out and were beyond my reach.  Ever since, I stick my foot in the door first and Gus has learned not to stand so close. In fact, the novelty is beginning to wear off and there are times Gus and Scarlett decide it’s not worth their energy to get up from their cozy perches to welcome me home.

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I’m slowly losing control.

Y’all send reinforcement,

Sugarlump

Cause for Alarm

This week has been full of surprises.  Tuesday evening, I went to ladies’ night at a shooting range and got second place in our bullseye competition.  Everybody watch out.

Early the next morning, at approximately 3:00AM, I awoke to tornado sirens.  This was the first time I had heard them in person since moving to Tennessee so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on.  My weather channel alerts on my phone confirmed that we were under a tornado warning and needed to take cover immediately.  I grabbed my phone, the cats, two cushions from the sofa, and my laptop and closed us in the bathroom as I set up a little fort with my cushions in the bathtub.  I then decided I needed a flashlight and a bottle of water.  Maybe I should have thought through my tornado plan a little bit more.  In my defense, it was JANUARY(!) and tornado season doesn’t usually start until spring.

Anyway, as we waited out the very strong winds and tracked the radar on my laptop, the cats could not have been more confused/annoyed.  They kept looking at me like I was crazy and tried to dig a hole under the door to get out of the bathroom.  Apparently tornado safety does not apply to them.

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Thankfully, other than some seriously violent winds, we were alright.  There were, however, a few tornadoes within 50 miles of us that damaged several buildings and pulled roofs off of homes.

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Less than 48 hours later, the temperature had dropped nearly sixty degrees from the low seventies into the teens and it was snowing.

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day here as long as you’re indoors.  It’s a whopping 17 degrees at the moment and with the wind chill, it feels like single digits.

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There is still snow on most roofs and school was canceled, which I thought this was pretty silly, given that we got about 2 inches of snow.  New Englanders wouldn’t bat an eye at that kind of snowfall.  But then I discovered that there was still some dangerous ice lurking around as I tried to speed out of the gate at my apartment complex earlier this morning.  I spun in place for about 10 seconds until my Jeep finally slid forward, narrowly avoiding the gates as they began to close.

Like the weather, my garbage disposal has been acting backwards this week.  The other day, as I ran the water and turned on the disposal, instead of the water easing the food down the drain as the disposal ground it up, all of the food and water spun violently up and out of the drain and onto me and the counter.  The maintenance man just found a metal spear approximately the size of a chopstick jammed in the pipes, courtesy of the previous tenant.

It’s been a strange couple of days.

In other (likely related) news, I’m back to drinking coffee, but just a small cup.  Hopefully, things will now return to normal.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

No More Coffee

I have eliminated coffee from my diet.  It’s a dark time in my life.  Mostly because I can’t keep my eyelids open.

I’m thinking of substituting green tea so I will have something hot and caffeinated to drink in the morning even though I don’t really like tea, even sweet iced tea (gasp), the drink of the South.

I’ll report back on my java-less journey in the near future.

On the bright side, the sun finally came out this weekend after a week of cold, raw gloom and doom.

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I took this picture in the fall, but the weather was much like this today and yesterday.  Not a cloud in the sky and warm enough to go out without a coat.

This little fur coat here spends the majority of his days as pictured.  He does not, however, empathize with my coffee-less existence and therefore does not understand why I don’t want to get up at 6:30AM to feed him, no matter how loudly and pitifully he meows or how many times he punches me in the face.

It’s been a rude adjustment, but I think it’s for the best (yawn).

Y’all hold ‘er in the road,

Sugarlump

What Next?

This weekend, it was over 70 degrees on Saturday and part of Sunday.  A cold front moved in and by Sunday afternoon we were under a tornado warning as it stormed violently.  Yesterday, it was sort of snowing/sleeting with a winter weather advisory in effect.  Today, we are under an ice storm warning.  It wouldn’t surprise me if tomorrow brought a heat advisory or pollen alert.  Hang tight.

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It started to get icy in the afternoon.  Schools closed early.  I had the day off and have spent most of it under several blankets on the sofa, catching up on months’ worth of the food network.   It was the laziest I’ve been in a while and it was great.

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The cats are so confused that they have been snuggling with each other in the same cat bed even though there is one for each of them, SIDE BY SIDE.  I’m not sure Gus is as pleased with situation as Scarlett is.

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Oops, she heard me.  Not pleased with my commentary.

I think I’ll go out for a Mexican dinner to spice things up a little bit.  I lived in the Northeast nearly my whole life, so I’m not afraid of venturing out in the wintery weather.  (I apologize to my grandmothers if you’re reading this. I promise I’ll be careful.)

Stay tuned for the next spell of bizarre weather.  Get your bikinis ready.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

How do they know?

It amazes me how animals can sense when we need their comfort.  The other morning, I awoke from a very vivid dream feeling disoriented and sad.  I must have jumped slightly as I came into consciousness because my cat Gus, who was nestled up against my arm, with his head on my shoulder, wrapped his little paw around my arm as if to tell me it was going to be OK.

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I want to know how they know.

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Because they clearly know when their humans need a little comforting.

And they’re happy to oblige.

Sometimes I take for granted just how precious they are…

…and then I discovered that a little furry someone left me a couple of tootsie rolls on the bath mat instead of in the litter box.

Nothing is perfect, but these little muffins come pretty darn close.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump