Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Furious Foos Fight Back

The most important thing to note in this blog is that I'm ok.

The second most important thing is that the Foos are clearly conspiring to kill me.

Basically, what I'm saying is that the following things may or may not have happened:

The Foos, in their rotten Foo-ness, may have decided to spend yesterday morning scampering in and out of the garden, into the flower beds, and all around the hosta, searching for and munching on any scrap of plant that hadn't been coated with the incredibly fetid Bunny-B-Gone.

It is also possible that, enraged beyond reason, I may have run over to chase them off...and I might have been wearing flip flops...and, in spite of my natural grace, I may have tripped and, ever so gracefully, fallen off the deck.

At this point the Foos DEFINITELY DID take advantage of my obvious incapacitation to scamper around the yard in what can only be described as an aggressively exultant manner, snacking on plants in a Foo Feeding Frenzy, stopping only long enough to shoot occasional glances in my direction and laugh at me behind their paws.

It is also possible that I am now, with the incredible agility and skill of a Ninja warrior, hobbling around with my poor left foot encased in a huge walking boot.
This, I'm sure, puts several questions in everyone's heads...

1. Am I ok?  Yes, mostly.  The doc thinks it's sprained not broken...a diagnosis I agree with since I consider myself something of an expert on broken ankles after the unfortunate Redbull Incident of 2002.

2. Am I in pain? Yes, my foot hurts.

3. Have I gotten my revenge on the Foos for their ferocious foraging? Not yet. I've been dreaming of new and possibly violent ways to keep them out of the garden but I have been unable to implement them because, as I may have mentioned, my foot hurts.

4. Am I at all concerned that we are almost out of milk, coffee, and dog food and am thus planning a quick trip to the store? No, my foot hurts.

5. Will I be making dinner in the foreseeable future? Only if I can do it from my chair because my foot hurts.

So the long and the short of it is that the Foos have won yet another battle in our ongoing war for control of the garden. I have been removed from the battlefield, bloody but unbowed and I am determined to triumph in the end....though not today because my foot hurts.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Bunny Foo-Foo and Who Flung Poo


A lot of people have been asking about the possum problem. I’m pleased to report that it has been solved. There’s not an epic tale involved in this solution; he’s just not living under the porch anymore. This could be because possums, according to the National Humane Society, don’t stay the same place very long. But I like to think it’s due to my vigilant efforts of constantly spraying water into any crevice a possum could be hiding, shining light into said crevice and stomping around the porch in front of the backdoor like I was trying to break through.

This is the evil, unnamed squirrel leaning
over the fence, gauging when he can
make a run at the feeders.
But please don’t think that just because we didn’t have to fight the possum as much as I had originally feared that this spring has been free from fighting. We’ve had a shocking number of wildlife battles in the last month or so. First this is the first of these is very common: the squirrel Who has decided his life’s mission is to empty my birdfeeders as quickly as animally possible.

His newest trick is to climb up to the supposedly squirrel-proof suet feeder, hang on it upside down, grab suet chunks with his grubby little paws, and shove them in his grubby little mouth. My newest trick is to sneak out while he’s doing it, try to turn on the water without him seeing, then spray the hose in his general direction while shouting at the top of my lungs.

It hasn’t exactly been a success.

Even worse are the bunnies.

If you ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you might remember how Anya, the former vengeance demon, thought bunnies were terrifying and even dressed as a big white bunny for Halloween because it was the scariest thing she could think of.

And then you probably laughed at Anya.

Newsflash: ANYA WAS RIGHT.

Oh sure, they look cute with their fluffy tails, their floppy ears and twitchy little noses…but this is all a disguise to cover up their evil hearts.
Bunny Foo-Foo

It wasn’t so bad last year when we only had one of the demons living under the far side of the deck. 

We chuckled at its antics, carefully shooed it away before we let the dogs outside, and even named it Bunny Foo-Foo after the children’s song…and just like that, we were lured into Bunny Foo Foo’s evil web.

Because this year, there is a new Foo in town. In fact, there are two new Foo.


Little Foo
Mini Foo










This, if you’d like to see photographic evidence of their evil hearts, is Mini Foo having a chew.



Which, in a nutshell, encapsulates the problem with bunnies: they are EVIL EATERS OF ENVIRONMENTAL ORNAMENTS!

Or, in slightly clearer terms, they eat everything!

They nibble on my nasturtiums, lunch on my lilies, hunger for my hosta, snack on my snapdragons…they especially love the huge number of native plants I’ve put out, like coneflowers and blanket flowers, but that didn’t quite work from an alliterative standpoint.

In any case, I have tried everything with these ridiculous rabbits.

I put cayenne pepper on all the plants – please notice how red the hosta is in the picture above while Mini Foo blissfully has a chew.

I covered the little seedlings with planters every night and uncovered them every morning…the bunnies bravely brunched on the blooms and buds.

I attempted to bribe the bunnies with delicious carrots and lettuce left in an enticing pile far from the flower gardens. The bunnies treated this as an amuse bouche, chowing it down then heading back to 
the flowers to fill up.

I even resorted to reason, explaining to the Foo Family that they were perpetuating the worst kind of bunny stereotypes, giving a bad name to bunnies everywhere, and should consider how they ould improve bunnies’ standing in the gardening world.

But these are the most self-involved, socially irresponsible bunnies imaginable…proven by the fact that that very night they responded by eating EVERY SINGLE ONE of my Stargazer Lilies.

To say I didn’t handle this well is an understatement of EPIC proportions.

Let’s jump over the histrionics that occurred when I discovered the carnage and fast forward to my furious rant to Opie a little later when I vowed that I would get those bunnies to leave our yard if it was the last thing I ever did and that they didn’t know what they were in for because I was going to give them the “possum treatment!”

Opie allowed as how he had no idea what I was talking about but that it sounded impressive.

First, I bought this highly recommended (and environmentally friendly!) bunny repellent and doused the plants with it…which, honestly, smells so foul, it’s possible that it will also keep humans and dogs from spending too much time in the yard…not helped by the fact that I also added a thick layer of cayenne pepper and garlic to the perimeter of each garden as a double whammy of protection.

But that wasn’t the possum treatment…the possum treatment means making their little bunny abode under the deck as uncomfortable as possible. I spray water under the deck from all angles every night, shine bright lights under the deck to illuminate their hidey hole, and stomp back and forth like a toddler having a tantrum.

Then, in a disgusting show of desperation, I actually scooped up some of the “dog dirt” from the yard and tossed it under the far side of the deck into the bunnies’ abode.

It’s interesting to note that, when I told Opie this part the story, he stared at me in what I thought was a shocked silence for a long minute. Only to realize that he was instead relishing the chance to make a joke he may have been saving since the second grade.

“This finally answers the question.” he said in an almost reverent tone. “Who flung Poo? It was you. You flung Poo!”

I don’t like to think this was the happiest moment of his life but it wouldn’t exactly stun me to learn it was in the top 10.

In any case, that is what quarantine has reduced us to: poop jokes and animal abuse. Hope the rest of you are holding up better…but if you have any sure-fire rabbit repellent tips, let me know!


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Mystery Solved!


Well the Mysterious Mystery of the Midnight Marauder has been solved.

Spoiler: It wasn’t a skunk.

Double Spoiler: It wasn’t a bunny either.

I mean, I did get some video of a bunny scampering by the first night I put out the GoPro and this did make Opie think he had called it. And I had some pretty deep-seeded concerns that I would have to admit he was right all along.


But then this morning all was revealed.

I got up around 5:30, like I always do, and took the dogs out back. Again, like I always do.  But I knew immediately that something was wrong, that the jig (or critter) was up because instead of going into the yard, the ridiculous dogs ran around the deck, sniffing and scratching, scratching and sniffing, and generally causing a ruckus.  Sassy ran back over to the area in front of the back door and, just like a few days ago, began digging and barking at the flooring.

I snatched her up and got her inside only to realize that Bubba had darted off the porch and was charging across the yard exactly like a dog who doesn’t realize he’s 14 and should therefore have his critter hunting days behind him.

So, I grabbed a flashlight (it was 5:30, people, it was still pretty dark!) and charged out after him exactly like a woman who doesn’t realize she’s not so young herself and should therefore have her critter hunting days behind her.

Then, when I caught up with the Bub, I realized he was pawing and nudging this big lump of fur with his nose. And, at first, I was horrified because I thought that he had killed a bunny.

Until I took a step closer and saw it wasn’t a bunny at all. It was a possum!

In related news, as I was writing this blog I started wondering if it was opossum or possum or both and, being the research nerd that I am, immediately stopped writing so I could find out.

This, in case you're wondering,
is a phalanger.
According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, both are correct when referring to the marsupial that meanders around North America. It’s interesting to note that in Australia and New Zealand, there is a similar creature referred to as a possum that is actually a phalanger. Seeing as this blog is written in North America, that’s probably not relevant but honestly, I just can’t help myself. Anyway, what is relevant is that in the US, possum is the common usage while scientific journals etc. prefer opossum.  However, when referring to the act of lying on the ground pretending to be dead, the expression is always “playing possum” not “playing opossum” Probably because alliteration is awesome.

In any case, now you all know all you’ve ever wanted to know about the etymology of possum, opossum, and phalanger.

You’re welcome.

But, to get back to the overall point, I ran over to the side yard, saw the poor possum lying on its side, mouth gaping open, and had to literally wrestle Bubba away from it and in the house.

Then I ran back outside…I’m honestly not 100% sure why. I mean, Opie is usually firmly in charge of carcass removal. But he was up most of the night working and I was trying to let him sleep a little later and I guess I thought I was going to see if there was anything I could do before dragging him out of bed…

But none of that mattered because the possum wasn’t dead…it was, you guessed it, PLAYING POSSUM!
This isn't the possum in question.  It's a totally different possum
 playing possum. I'm including it to show you, they really
LOOK DEAD  even though they're faking.

And when I shone my flashlight on him, he jumped to his feet.

In other related news, we are now very grateful for social distancing as this may be the only reason the neighbors haven’t come over to complain about a woman screaming profanity in the backyard at 5:30 in the morning.

But, horrified neighbors notwithstanding, this leaves us with the problem of what to do about the possum that is currently squatting underneath our deck.

Because, tree-hugging, animal-loving, bleeding-heart liberal that I am, I don’t want to kill the possum. They don’t carry rabies, they eat a lot of ticks, they’re good for the environment, they’re cute in their own ugly way…but he’s not paying rent plus he’s bigger than Sassy and, tough as she THINKS she is, I don’t see her coming out on top in a possum vs puppy brawl.  So, I don’t want to kill him but I really don’t want him to live here any more.

My first step was to text my fellow tree-hugging, animal-loving bleeding-heart liberal and now possibly ex-friend, Eric, and ask what he thought I should do with a porch-dwelling possum

He said they really like cuddles and kisses.

Which kind of reminded me of the time I called Eric to find out what to do about the snake that was in the compost bin. That time he said, “You’re so lucky! You must have a really healthy ecosystem going!”

Which makes me question why I continue to call Eric in these situations at all.

In any case, Opie and I have come up with two very distinct plans. Opie‘s plan is to do nothing until I run out of plans.

My plan is to use water and light and loud noises to effectively convince the possum that our porch is no place to raise a family.

Failing that, I guess we could get some live traps put them out and trap the thing and then try to relocate it. At which point I will, obviously, take the day off work, drive to St. Louis and deposit the possum in Eric’s garage. Partially because you have to take them pretty far away if you don’t want them to come back. And partially because I really want to give Eric useless advice when he calls.

The long and the short of it is that the possum won the first battle but I fully intend to win the war.  I’ll keep you all posted!





This, sadly, is the only picture I got of the possum...and, yes, I know it's terrible. But it's not as easy to manage a flashlight & take a photo in the dark while also running away cursing as you might think.



Monday, April 13, 2020

Critters, Creatures and A Little Bit of Craziness



We have a critter living under the deck.

And I know some of you are saying “Yes, we know, you’ve talked about that stupid bunny 10 times. Nobody is really interested in your bizarre bunny banter!”

First of all, while I am always a helpless slave to alliteration, that’s just rude. This is my blog and I can talk about whatever I want. But, more importantly, this is NOT the bunny but an entirely new critter. See, the deck runs the entire length of the house and the bunny lives on the far right end. The new critter, the critter of unknown identity, lives on the far left end of the deck. The end, might I add, that is closest to the back door.
No, this obviously isn't a real
bunny and this blog has nothing
to do with Pipsqueak Meow...but
this is a hilarious picture and
marginally relevant.


Which means every time I step out of the house,  I keep imagining some practically preternatural monster sticking a claw up through the boards of the deck, grabbing my ankle and dragging me down to its lair.

And if you’re scoffing at the idea of my slightly chubby frame being dragged through the tiny space between deck flooring, then you obviously haven’t read Stephen King’s short story The Raft in which a very similar thing is described in horrifying detail.

Since I have read The Raft, I can (and DO!) imagine my bloody, painful death every time I step onto the back porch. Plus, I’m having horrible flashbacks to 2005 when the vicious, mutant-sized raccoon and I battled for possession of my house.

An experience that should have taught me never to do critter research on the Internet.

But I get ahead of myself.  I should probably start by explaining how I discovered the presence of the critter. What happened was, I was out in the yard with the ridiculous dogs and I noticed a hole in one corner of the flower bed in front of the left side of the deck. I inspected said hole and thought to myself, “Self,” I thought, “those look ever so slightly like claw marks in the dirt around that hole.”

I consulted with the dogs and they not only agreed that we had a mysterious mystery on our hands but immediately began sniffing around the hole and then all along the side of the deck in their best imitation of drug dogs on the job.

Unfortunately, these are NOT drug dogs so they don’t realize that alerting the suspect that he (or it) is under surveillance is sub-par police work. Instead, they sniffed all along the left side of the deck, right up to the house, and both began barking and digging and running around like a couple of lunatics. Then they ran up the steps toward the back door and resumed barking and digging at the deck right in front of the back door.

Then I – also woefully poor at hot pursuit and thinking only of keeping the deck from doggy destruction – ran over, pushed Bubba out of the way and reached down to snatch Sassy up in my arms. And that’s when whatever is currently lurking under the deck growled at us.

At this point, I walked the dogs calmly in the house and told Opie we might need to call an exterminator.

Or, as he tells it, ran in the house with the dogs yelling about monsters and using the F word like a comma.

“It’s the bunny,” he assured me when we all calmed down.

“Bunnies don’t growl!” I retorted.

Except, of course, I have no idea if bunnies growl or not. I mean, I’ve never heard one growl but I don’t get into violent arguments with bunnies very often so I guess I can’t be sure.

And that’s when I made my biggest mistake: I started researching on the Internet. Which is not, you’ll be stunned to hear, filled with sweet stories of critters and and canines and Kimberlys living together in joyous harmony.

It is interesting to note that even in an urban setting, there are an alarming number of creatures that have been known to make their home underneath people’s homes…which means Opie had an entertaining evening in which I randomly shouted out possibilities, rabies statistics and other informative information.

“It’s the bunny!!” He kept insisting.

Which just goes to show you Opie doesn’t really understand the wily ways of wildlife. Plus, he wasn’t at all interested in listening to the various recordings of different animals growling and was unimpressed when I told him the skunk sound on this website: Critter Control sounded the closest to what I’d heard. He even went so far as to imply it sounded more like a whine than a growl.

Which also goes to show you that, as much as I love him, Opie isn’t really at the top of the animal identification game.

This is probably also why he didn’t want to come outside and help me tie the GoPro to the deck post above the hole in an effort to time lapse video the creature’s egress and ingress throughout the night.

So, the long and the short of it is, there’s a critter living under the deck, it might or might not be but probably is a skunk, and if I manage to get video evidence, I will only mention it to Opie once a day for the rest of our lives.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Lock Down and Looney Animals

In case any of you are wondering how things are going over here at the Yates Estates during all this lock down, I've put together a little Q&A that should give you some insight into the wild world of Kimberly.

And, no, don't worry, you don't have to come up with any questions or answers. I am putting together the things that you SHOULD be asking to get a clearer picture of the scene on the ground, as it were.


1. Did the sprinkler system go completely wackadoo, turning the backyard into a squishy swamp and necessitating prayer that sprinkler repair was an essential business?

    Yes...and, luckily, they are an essential business because they got over here pretty darn quickly, we shouted at each other from an appropriate social distance and they went right to work.

2.    Did the dogs assume the Sprinkler guys were virus-carrying miscreants or otherwise deadly criminals who were intent on killing everyone in the vicinity and were thus forced to run around the house barking a loud warning for the ENTIRE TIME THE GUYS WERE HERE?
    Yes.

3.  Are these same dogs fazed by threats of violence and/or loudly shouted profanity?
    No, definitely not.

4. Did the Sprinkler guys hear the screamed profanity and assume the woman inside the house was having a nervous breakdown?
    Unclear - they certainly didn't burst in to see if the woman was all right....though, to be fair, might be because they are from a Christian company known as the Living Water and it's possible they heard and were just too horrified to react.

5. Did the cat take advantage of all this mayhem to see if he could actually leap from the top of the cat tree onto the lamp above the kitchen table and subsequently hang there like a naked spider monkey?
    Not at first...but he made it on what I assume was his second try.

6. Is the cat similarly unfazed by threats and profanity?
    Based on the fact that he not only strutted around the house proudly but also proceeded to jump on the table and leap at the lamp from a variety of different angles, I think I can say with certainty Yes, 1,000 times YES.

7. Am I now considering Day Drinking as a valid life style choice?
  Also, 1,000 times YES.

Don't let the innocent face fool
you -  she's 9 pounds of fur-
covered steel!
8. Did the bunny who lives under our deck decide to scamper across the deck in an enticing fashion seconds before I finally was able to let the dogs out back and then run under the steps leading to a short hysterical chase in which 2 dogs crashed into each other and rolled off the deck in a flailing tangle of hysterical barking, snarling, and flailing paws?
    Yes.

9. Can either dog fit underneath the deck to attack said bunny?
    Bubba - no, though he gave it the old college try. Sassy - probably could but was unceremoniously dragged away by her harness as she was wriggling her way underneath then was carried into the house in disgrace.

10.  Did either dog exhibit remorse for their crazed bunny-chasing behavior or did they subsequently see the mail person approaching the house with a package and decide that she, too, had nefarious motives and needed to be scared away and therefore positioned themselves at the front windows, barking the bark of hounds that have killed a mail woman for less?
    The latter.

11. Did the cat take advantage of this new mayhem to see if he could use the blinds as a ladder only to tumble down to the floor where he pretended that this was all part of some kitty calisthenics routine and totally on purpose?
 Yes, but never fear, he wasn't hurt...as evidenced by the fact that when I ran over to see if he was hurt, he dashed past me, jumped up on counter and stuck his face in my coffee. Getting caffeinated, I assume, for his afternoon workout.

12.  Did I fortify myself with a glass of wine after all this drama?
      Sadly, no, but only because I had to work.

So, in summary, our dogs are as crazy as ever, our cat either has a future as a daredevil or has a death wish and I'm beginning to worry that we don't have enough wine to make it through lock down. And we might need a new kitchen lamp soon as I'm pretty sure it wasn't designed to hold the weight of a leaping cat.



Friday, March 20, 2020

The Peanut Butter Battle of 2020


In case you’re wondering how my life has been going in the last few months, I think you can get a feel for it when I share this important information with you: If a woman is standing on one side of the kitchen, filling her water bottle at the refrigerator and a slightly spoiled kitten is sitting on top of an enormous cat tree on the other side of the kitchen and there is a plate of scrambled eggs on the bar between them…the kitty will ABSOLUTELY get to the scrambled eggs first.
Lurking on the cat tree, ready to strike.

He will also exhibit NO remorse in spite of shouted recriminations and threats of violence.  He will, instead, grab a mouthful of eggs, knock most of the rest of the eggs to the floor as a diversionary tactic, then make a run for it, swallowing what he could but essentially dripping chunks of eggs far and wide throughout the house.

I suspect the cat in question may be in cahoots with the equally spoiled dogs who live here because instead of helping, they ran around, barking joyously, and devouring eggs with reckless abandon.

They maintain that they were just helping me clean up like responsible canine companions but, I’m sorry to report, these dogs are lying liars.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough drama for one day, we also had a little catastrophe I like to call the Peanut Butter Battle of 2020. 

Sharing peanut butter on calmer days
Right now both dogs, in their quest to be the most expensive animals ever to draw breath, are being treated for different non-life threatening issues. Which means that, after the unfortunate egg event, I still had to give them both their medicine.  I did what I always do: put the pills in a little bit of peanut butter and let them gobble it off my fingers. But Bub was worn out from his wild egg-devouring dash around the downstairs and had flopped down on the couch, too exhausted to move. So I gave Sassy hers first, then walked over to the couch to give Bub his…blithely unaware that the cat had sneaked back into the living room and was lurking on the other side of the couch like a Peanut Butter Bandit. 

As I reached down to give Bub his pills, the aforementioned cat jumped up like a Ninja, paws flailing, trying to get his claws on the peanut butter.

He later claimed that he was afraid I was poisoning Bub and was simply trying to rescue him.  But this cat, unfortunately, is also a lying liar.

In any case, he smacked at the peanut butter at the exact same moment that Bub was reaching his mouth out to eat it…basically, what I’m saying here is that worlds collided and peanut butter coated pills went flying across the room.

At this point Bubba, with the energy of a dog who is imagining a Peanut Butter Bandit absconding with his treat, jumped off the couch and lunged for it. Sassy, with the zeal of a dog who wants every treat ever invented, also lunged for it. The cat, still allegedly attempting heroic poison salvation, lunged for it.

And in the middle of all this mess was one slightly hysterical woman, terrified that the wrong animal was going to swallow the medicine, screaming every curse word she’s ever heard and shoving away any paw or snout in her immediate vicinity.

Yes, as a matter of fact, that woman WAS me.

And, by some crazy miracle, I prevailed. I got everyone separated, got the pills before the wrong animal ate them, and managed to get them in Bub’s mouth.

I guess I should be glad he got
 the peanut butter off his paws but
I'm kind of afraid what he's
planning next
At which point, the completely remorseless cat, stomped off in a rage to the top of the cat tree, leaving little peanut butter pawprints all over the floor in his wake.

Where are we now, you might be wondering.  Well, Bubba has essentially collapsed from excitement and is in such a deep sleep it’s entirely possible he won’t wake up until dinner.

Sassy is suspicious that everyone else has somehow had more peanut butter than she did and is sulking under the bed.

Pipsqueak Meow is modeling extreme social distancing and is sitting on the cat tree, triumphantly licking peanut butter from his paws.


As for me, I’m wondering if it’s too early to start drinking.





For other stories of Pipsqueak Meow's crazy adventures, you can follow him on Instagram at pipsqueak_meow or on Twitter @MeowPipsqueak or check out some of the links below






Tuesday, October 29, 2019

National Cat Day


Today is National Cat Day and in honor of that I thought I'd share a valuable lesson about the difference between dogs and cats that I recently learned.

Here's what happened:

I went out of town for a few days last week to watch my nephew play football and visit with my family.

However, the animals had very different reactions to my return home.  I walked in the door and the dogs went, in a word, bonkers.  They were running around, jumping up and down and barking out a veritable litany of joy. Which, thanks to my amazing animal communication skills, I can translate here:

"You're home! You're home! You're home!" Bubba shouted. "You left and then you came back and this is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to any dog EVER!"

"You're home!" Sassy agreed. "You're home and we should celebrate! With treats! And belly rubs! TREATS AND BELLY RUBS FOR EVERYONE!"

Pipsqueak Meow, though, was much more restrained. He meandered over to see what all the fuss was about then deliberately turned his back and sauntered into the bedroom. "I didn't even realize you were gone," he said.

He continued to ignore me for the rest of the afternoon, until we sat down to watch a little television.  Then he ran out, flung himself on Opie and began a litany of his own.

"Do you know who I love? THIS GUY! I love him with a love that's more than love! I love sitting on his lap, I love rubbing against his face. I love him! And you know why? Because he never leaves, that's why."

"He leaves to go to work every day," I pointed out.

But Pipsqueak Meow is the Earl Landgrene of cats: He doesn't want anyone to confuse him with the facts.

"I love him," he continued. "He is not a leaver. He is not an abandoner of kitties. He doesn't disappear without permission or explanation for days at a time. He stays where he is supposed to be and I LOVE HIM FOR IT!"

"I thought you didn't even realize I was gone."

"NO ONE'S TALKING TO YOU, FOOD LADY!" He yelled.

For the rest of the night, he would take occasional breaks from showering Opie with love to come over and sit near me on the couch but I'm pretty sure that was just so he could continue to give me "the cold paw." By which I mean he would  sit a few feet away, close enough that I could pet him but no so close that anyone would confuse what was happening with kitty cuddling.

But he saved the big guns until two in the morning when he decided to once again illustrate his displeasure by deliberately stomping across my face.

"Oh, so sorry," he said when I jerked awake and shoved him off. "I didn't realize anyone was using this pillow; it's been empty for days."

"Get off me, you ridiculous cat!"

"Question: are you at all interested in seeing a trick I learned in the last few days?"

"Does the trick involve SLEEPING? Because it's TWO IN THE MORNING!"

And he allowed that the trick would, in fact, work better if I was sleeping.  "Just relax," he said soothingly, jumping off the bed.  "Close your eyes...Pay no attention to the cat on the floor...Pay not attention to the cat under the bed."

This must have lulled me into a sense of false security and (or maybe just because it was TWO IN THE MORNING!!) I started to fall back asleep.

Which is when Pipsqueak bellycrawled to the foot of the bed like a Ninja kitty, clawed his way up the bedskirt, managed to wriggle under the cover and POUNCED on my feet in whirlwind of claws, teeth and ferocious meows.

What followed was a similar whirlwind of shouts, cursing, sprays of water and flung blankets...and more Ninja kitty moves as he flung himself off the bed and raced over to the top of the dog crate in the corner.

"I don't suppose you'd believe there was a monster under the covers?" Pip asked.

"You are a lying liar of a cat!"

"I saved your life."

"You're a ridiculous, lying liar of a cat and if you ever do that again, I'm going to freaking lose it, do you understand me?"

"You're welcome."

Still muttering angrily, I flopped back down and tried to go back to sleep, bracing myself for another onslaught of feline foolishness. But, as always, he seemed to sense my breaking point. He trotted back over, jumped into bed and snuggled next to Sassy and me, purring contentedly.

"Just promise you'll never leave again," he said.

And I still don't know how to break it to him that we're going on vacation soon!