Blossom the Cat Gets Sick

Blossom the Cat Gets SickBlossom loved school release days because that meant Willow could spend more quality time with her.  That Friday morning Blossom awoke, looking forward to a day of being waited on paw and foot.  But she sneezed three times before she ever got out of her sleeping basket.  And by mid-morning Blossom was already dozing off, curled up next to Willow while she read a book.

When Willow suddenly hopped off the couch to take a phone call, Blossom sat up and blinked.  Her eyes had crispy matter balled up in their corners.  But this was OK because Willow was off school and could baby her.  Only Willow bounced back into the room, announcing she was doing a sleepover at Lilly’s.  This was where Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever, also lived.

“Willow, you can’t leave now,” Blossom rolled over on her back.  “I’m getting sick and you need to take care of me.”

“Silly Blossom,” Willow scratched her tummy.  “I’ll be back in the morning.  Be good for Mom.”

As Blossom watched Willow scamper down the driveway and over to Lilly’s, her nose began to run.  All that runniness made her sniff more.  And sniffing more made her nose’s insides feel squishy.  She sulked off to the couch where she pulled at the shawl draped over its top, making it roll down on top of her.  While she huddled under the shawl, thinking how unfair Willow was being by going off to Lilly’s and Riley’s house, she dozed off again.  She woke up to what she concluded could only be the worst.  Her claws ached, her fur shivered, her eyes drooped.  And where was Willow?  Off having one meower of a time.

Blossom plodded into the kitchen where the TV was turned to Top Chef.   Mrs. H was half watching and half leafing through a cookbook.  Feeling totally ignored, Blossom meowed, “I’m sick and my nose is all full of crispy things.”

Mrs. H looked up from her book.  She knelt down and felt Blossom’s nose and then her forehead.  Sitting back, she said, “You’re sick.” And after crinkling her brows a bit she added, “Hmm.  What to give a sick cat.  Chicken soup?”

Chicken soup sounded super to Blossom so she uttered a pathetic mew and rolled over on her side, lying there like a cow ready to call it a day.  And after Mrs. H poured some warm soup in Blossom’s bowl, she found an old baby blanket, wrapped Blossom up in it and sat with her in the rocking chair.

“Once you feel better, I have to read up on my appetizers for Book Club tomorrow night,” Mrs. H said.

Blossom had no idea Mrs. H could be so nurturing and, even though Blossom was already feeling better, she decided it might be of benefit to remain sick a while longer.

That night Blossom woke up.  And sat up.  She felt well enough to do her nightly prowl but decided maybe she’d rather have more chicken soup.  So she crept to the door of the Hatchers’ master bedroom and meowed loudly.  “More soup, please.”

The covers rustled and Mrs. H sat up.  “Huh?”

Mr. H was sleeping on his stomach.  His light snoring stopped.  “What was that?”

Mrs. H rolled over and groaned.  “That darn cat has a cold.” She got out of bed.  “She’s being extremely needy.”

Blossom grunted.  She wasn’t being needy.  She just wanted attention 24/7.

It looked like Mr. H had his face crushed into the pillow.   “Warm milk is supposed to put you to sleep,” he said in a muffled voice.

Mrs. H sighed, scooped Blossom up in one arm and staggered out to the kitchen.

“Will you wrap me up like a baby again?” Blossom whined.

Mrs. H plunked Blossom onto the floor, pulled a soup bowl from the cupboard and filled it with milk which she then microwaved.  After testing its warmth with her fingers and placing it on the floor, she said, “Now drink this and Go. To. Sleep.”  Then she headed back to bed.

Blossom knew that when Willow spent the night away from home, Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher had this secret ritual of seating themselves side by side at the kitchen table and sharing a huge bowl of ice cream before they went to bed.  She jumped up onto the sink.  There was the bowl with melted ice cream still in it so she polished that off as well.  She returned to her sleeping basket feeling like a spunky kitten.

The next morning, Blossom’s eyes weren’t crusty, her nose was cold and its crispy boogers were gone.  But Willow had not yet had her turn nursing Blossom back to health so it was important to continue her sickness.  Dragging herself into the kitchen, she watched as Mrs. H dropped two sticks of butter into a microwavable bowl.  “Mowww,” she said.  “I’m still very sick.  Maybe you could call Lilly’s mom and make her send Willow home.”

Mrs. H looked up from her cookbook, her mouth a slit.  “I hardly got any sleep last night because of you.  I hope I don’t screw up these appetizers because my brain’s half asleep.”

Blossom almost chuckled at that.  How could a brain be half asleep? That would be like saying her tail was half asleep.  However, she could sense Mrs. H was in no mood to be challenged so she assumed her sick pose instead and let out a pitiful mew.

Mrs. H stomped over to the fridge.  “Oh, I don’t believe it!” she whispered, standing before the open freezer section.

Blossom jumped a little, then readied herself to skedaddle in the event she’d sent Mrs. H over the edge.

Mrs. H turned to Blossom and said, “I don’t have enough spinach!”  With that, she removed her apron and huffed off to the coat closet.  “Wait!” she hurried back to the kitchen and placed a paper towel over the butter.  She threw a worried look at Blossom, but then added, “Maybe this isn’t necessary, but better to be safe than sorry.”

Blossom was wearing her best miserable look, not exactly sure why Mrs. H bothered to cover food with paper towels anyway.  Was it because she thought a fly might stop by and land on it?  Possibly, but most likely Mrs. H thought that Blossom couldn’t find butter if it was under wraps.  Which was as ridiculous as dressing a snake in pants.

As soon as the door closed behind Mrs. H, Blossom sprung to the counter top and inspected the ingredients waiting to become Book Club appetizers.  In addition to the butter in hiding, there was a bowl of cream cheese and one of feta.  Holy catnip, she could sample a little from each and none would be missed.

First she licked a little off the ends of each butter stick.  Then clawed a little cream cheese off the rectangular undersides where her claw marks wouldn’t be seen.  She saved the best until last.  The feta was stinky as dirty sneakers.  She knew this because her nose was no longer stuffed-up.  Feta was also totally awesome because a cat could neatly spear the individual crumbles with a single claw, which she proceeded to do.  One, two, three, four feta clumps.  She admired her toes and wiggled them, a ball of cheese at the end of each, then popped them one, two, three, four into her mouth.  Blossom was truly grateful she’d recovered enough for this little cheese tasting party.

After inspecting the phyllo dough, covered in wet paper towels, and deciding it wasn’t worth a lick, she heard Mrs. H’s car roar up the driveway.  It was time to assume her ailing cat pose so she sprawled out onto the floor.  Just as the door opened, she let out a little sigh.  And then a few more, to make sure she was heard.  Mrs. H entered and, joyful gerbils, Willow was with her!

The first words out of Mrs. H’s mouth were, “Willow, now that you’re home, will you please take care of Blossom?”

Mrs. H set to work chopping spinach, then beating the cream cheese with a vengeance and finally brushing her phyllo sheets with melted butter.  She never gave Blossom one concerned glance. But, no matter, now it was Willow’s turn to play nurse.

“Willow, you’ve had your fun,” whimpered Blossom.  “Now take care of me.  I think I’m near death.”

“I wrapped her up in that blanket,” Mrs. H nodded at the baby blanket draped over the chair.  “I’ve never seen her so dependent.  I wonder if she’s running a fever.”

“Mom, really?”  Willow looked at Blossom.  “Blossom, poor baby.  Are you that sick?”

Only Blossom knew Willow like the back of her paw.  And Willow’s scrunched eyebrows and sparkling violet eyes were not saying poor baby at all.  Maybe something more along the lines of you faker. 

But Mrs. H was strutting about the kitchen like a contestant on Top Chef.  So Willow, being the good little cat owner, wrapped Blossom up and rocked her in her arms like a newborn baby.  And Blossom caught herself right before she belted out a purr, which would have been a sure giveaway that she was in good health.  Instead she let out a pitiful wail.  And, for good measure, wailed again.  Then she let her body go limp.  And hung her head like a dead cat would.  But not before crying out once more.

“Ok, that’s it,” Mrs. H clinked down her cooking spoon, hard enough to make the bowls on the countertop rattle.  She marched off into the bathroom.  “This will determine if I should call Dr. Moss.”

“Now you’ve done it,” Willow said under her breath.

Blossom listened as Mrs. H pulled out a drawer, making its contents clatter about. She perked her ears, not sure hearing the vet’s name was a good thing.  Mrs. H rushed back in to her phyllo dough. Blossom immediately hung her head again but out of the corner of her eye spied Mrs. H triumphantly holding up a different utensil.

Willow turned up her nose.  “Ew, Mom,” she said.  “A thermometer?  I know where those go.  You know, Lilly’s mom bought one of those new instant-read ear thermometers for Riley.”

Blossom’s ears stood at attention.  Thermometer, what’s that?  Does this have to do with me?  Blossom tried squirming but Willow had her in a bear claw grip.

“Well, this is a perfectly good old fashioned thermometer and we’re not spending big money on an ear thermometer just because Lilly has one,” said Mrs. H.  “Now that you’ve got a good hold on her, I’ll just pick up her tail and take her temp!”

Blossom didn’t like where this scenario was headed.  “I’m not sick anymore,” she cried.  “See, my cold’s all gone!  I’m fit as a fish stick!”  Straining against Willow’s grizzly bear grip, Blossom bolted from her arms and thumped to the floor.  She tore off to the bedroom and scrambled under the bed.  She’d stay there until next week, if need be.  She listened for footsteps coming down the hall, but none came.  Instead, Willow and her mom remained in the kitchen, laughing.

“I guess Blossom isn’t sick anymore,” said Willow.  “I think the thermometer had something to do with it.”

Mrs. H had resumed beating the cream cheese to death, the spoon making a frenzied clink, clink, clink against the glass.  Blossom could almost see the corners of the woman’s mouth curl up into one of her wise old owl smiles as she said, “That trusty thermometer works every time!”

Blossom the Cat Builds a Snowman

Blossom the Cat Builds a Snowman

Blossom loved snow as long as it didn’t get stuck between her toes.  And, at least once each winter, she liked to go into her back yard and roll a snowball.  She couldn’t stack snowballs on top of one another the way Willow could, but she was able to roll one ball and decorate it, which she did on this snowy gray day.  After patting and smoothing her snowball’s surface just so, she scouted the yard for embellishments.  Birdseed eyes, twig whiskers and a beautiful red berry for a nose.  Blossom the Artist made a snow cat.  She sat back to admire her work.

The next day as Blossom pranced outside to gloat over her artwork, she saw Riley, her best feline friend forever, out in his yard.  He’d rolled his own snowball and added similar décor.  And Blossom’s nose bent just a bit out of joint when Willow and Lilly scampered into the yard and sized-up both decorated snow animals, like their making had been a team effort when really it was totally Blossom’s idea.

“This one looks a little lopsided,” Lilly commented on Blossom’s creation.  The girls laughed and went off to build their own snowman.

Blossom re-patted and re-smoothed her snow cat as the steam puffed from her ears.  A little lopsided.  She sat back to see if the lopsidedness was gone when she saw Merle, the neighbor bulldog, on the other side of the chain link fence rolling his own ball.

“Look,” said Merle, doing a little hop.  “I’m making my own snowball!”

“Awesome,” said Riley.

“Cool,” said Blossom.  But what she was really thinking was Copycats.  That’s when she noticed the pinecones scattered beneath the Hatchers’ old fir tree.  She waited until Riley and Merle had gone back into their houses, then gave her snowball pinecone ears.  Try to match that, you guys.

The following morning as Blossom trotted out to appreciate her artistic talent with pinecone ears, Riley and Merle were already there.

“Look, Blossom!” said Riley.  “My snow cat has a mouth I made out of the black sunflower seeds we feed the cardinals.”

“And my snow dog has hair I made from the corn we feed the squirrels.”  Merle was beaming with pride at his snowball with a zillion corn kernels covering its top.

Willow had returned with Lilly and Francesca.  The girls oohed and aahed over the snowballs.  “This one’s a blonde.” They pointed at Merle’s.  “So cute.”  Then Riley’s.  “Sunflower seeds, how creative!”  And finally Blossom’s.  “Pinecones, hmm.”

Pinecones, hmm.  Blossom bristled.  Riley and Merle were her friends but snow animals were her idea and, really, she’d paved the way for all future feline and/or canine artists.  Blossom darted into the Hatchers’ garage, searching the shelves for fur or feathers or fuzz, anything to make a tail.  Blossom the Artist’s snow cat would be the first with a tail.  Every kid on Tulip Drive would come to view it.  Maybe she’d make more snow cats and open a gallery.

Blossom spotted an old bottle brush sitting in a glass jar.  Flipping it out and onto the garage floor, she dashed back to her studio.  Now her snow cat had pinecone ears and a tail!  Top that, Riley and Merle.

But the following morning as she stepped outside, she paused on the icy steps.  Riley and Merle were down at the corner, working away.  “Their snow animals better not have tails,” Blossom scowled.

Riley had added a banana tail.  Merle’s snow dog had something protruding from its backside that looked suspiciously like Mrs. H’s eyelash curler.  And flipping fishsticks, they’d gone one step further.  Their snow animals were wearing hats.  Riley’s was sporting an empty Campbell’s soup can and Merle’s a Burger King crown.

Blossom huffed off, leaving Riley and Merle scratching their ears.  Copycats, she sulked.  Merle was so proud he could lift his leg and hit a single rose on a rosebush spot-on.  But did Blossom try to copy him?  No.  The same for Riley, who used the kids’ sandbox for his personal litter box.  Did Blossom meow and hiss because she needed a sandbox in her own yard?  No.

But Blossom did have to admit, the Burger King crown was one meower of a look.  And that soup can with its red and white label was quite striking sitting atop Riley’s snow cat.  She almost cringed over her observations because neither hat idea had been hers.  And now she had to come up with her own snow cat hat, a hat that would be the talk of every person and pet on Tulip Drive.  Being an artist suddenly felt exhausting.  And why was it snowball making had been fun until Riley and Merle joined in?  Blossom didn’t want to think maybe she was being a bit of a sour puss over all this.  So she didn’t.

Instead she trotted into the house.  All this huffing and puffing was giving her a meow-graine.  Without thinking she wandered into the Hatchers’ master bedroom.  In the olden days she used to curl up in Mrs. H’s underwear drawer.  But these days there was no room in it for a lounging cat and that thought made her even grumpier.  Mrs. H often laughed at herself, saying she owned more underwear than shoes.  In fact, she’d acquired so many pairs of underpants that recently when Blossom pulled the lingerie drawer open for a little getaway nap, a whole rainbow of underpants spilled out onto the floor.

Blossom sat up straight and blinked, her heart sprinting at the thought that flashed through her brain like swimming minnows.  Mrs. H had underpants in every color.  Red, yellow, blue, even striped.  And so many, one pair would never be missed.

Although no one was around, Blossom tip-toed up to the chest of drawers and with her paws slowly pulled the middle drawer out.  She selected a pair of underpants the color of blue sky on a cloudless day.  After flinging them out onto the floor, she silently pushed the drawer shut and, pants clenched in her teeth, left the room.  The blue underpants would make a beautiful hat.  A work of art!

All she had to do was stretch the underpants so that the leg holes each fit over a pinecone ear, which would act as an anchor.  The task was a whisker more difficult than she’d thought.  Blossom would have expected Mrs. Hatcher’s underpants to stretch a bit more than they did, but she finally got them in place.  The result was dazzling eye kibble.  Paws down, better than a Burger King crown.  More colorful than a soup can.

That afternoon, Blossom couldn’t stop peeking out the kitchen window that faced into the back yard.  She kept admiring the way the light played off the glistening snow head, the berry nose, the blue underpants.  It was sheer bliss being Blossom the Artist.  Nothing could flatten that feeling until Willow called out, “Mom, did you put my blue underpants in your drawer?  I can’t find them.”

Blue underpants?  Those were Willow’s?  Blossom looked to the window.  A couple of neighbor boys were gathered down by the snow animals, looking them over like men checking out a new lawnmower.  One pointed at the blue underpants.  Blossom had her nose pressed to the window, totally absorbed in the boys.

“What’s so interesting out there, Blossom?” Willow had come out of nowhere, making Blossom rocket off the window sill.

Blossom thought she might just melt into the floor.  If Willow saw her blue underpants in the back yard, on Blossom’s snow cat, with boys checking it out, oh she couldn’t even think about her future. She had to act fast, there wasn’t even time to don a thinking cap!

Blossom rolled onto the floor and howled as if her tail had been stepped on or tied in a knot or she’d just plain gone crazy.

Willow’s hands flew to her mouth.  “I’m sorry, Blossom!  Did I step on you?”  She looked around, trying to retrace her footsteps that obviously had not been near Blossom’s tail.

Blossom howled again and tore to the back door.  “Let me out, Willow!”

“What’s going on out there?”  It was Mrs. H in the other room.

“Hold on, hold on,” said Willow, practically stumbling to the back door, confusion sprouting from her scrunched eyebrows.  “I think maybe Blossom’s going to be sick,” she called to her mother.

Blossom raced across the yard as if fleeing snapping Dobermans.  Her teeth ripped the underpants from the snow cat, sending the pine cones flying.  She darted into the garage, stuffing the underpants into a dark corner behind some tin cans holding paint brushes.  She’d retrieve them later.  If she ever regained composure after her underpants faux-paw.

Heart still leaping about, Blossom stuck her head out of the garage.  The boys were gone but Riley and Merle were at the fence, eyes wide.  She tried to stroll out like nothing had happened even though she could barely breathe after such a close call.

“Are you OK?” said Riley.

“Oh, hi,” Blossom said in a small mew, thinking how close she’d been to going from Willow’s Precious Cat to A Cat That Needs To Be Locked Up.

“Where did your snow cat’s pinecones go?” said Merle.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Blossom peeped.  “I decided my snow cat should be bald.”

She was already starting to feel a little better.  “Your snow animals look great, by the way,” she said.  “You guys are truly artists.”