Blossom the Cat Plays with Tater Tots

Blossom the Cat Plays with Tater TotsThe moon was full.  Gazing at it from the Hatchers’ living room window, Blossom studied its craters and crevices until she could pick out the face of the cat.  The Meow Moon.  The Meow Moon brought fun times and good luck to all cats that believed.  And on this glowing night, Lilly, Willow’s best friend forever, and Riley, Blossom’s best feline friend forever, were spending the night.  The promise of fun danced about like dandelion fluff.  Blossom could feel it in her toes.

Dinner time brought the Meow Moon’s first sign of good luck when Mr. H noticed flashing red lights reflecting off the living room bay window.  “Come look,” he said, squinting toward the end of the block.  “There’s a squad car down at the Dogners’ house.”

The Dogners had two teenaged boys who were about as smart as dogs, performing poodle-brain stunts like littering Tulip Drive with their soda cans.  Or crashing their cars into the garage door.  Or putting frozen pizzas into a 450 degree oven and forgetting to remove the cardboard trays they were packaged in.  The Dogners’ last name alone was enough to make cats shake their heads, which Blossom and Riley did as Mrs. H and the girls pulled on their coats and trotted down the street like chickens chasing feed.  Mr. H called, “Wait for me!” and slammed the door behind him.

The Meow Moon had nothing to do with the Hatchers’ fascination with emergency vehicles, but Blossom was pretty certain the Meow Moon was responsible for the pan of tater tot hotdish Mrs. H left on top of the stove.

Blossom and Riley leaped to the countertop and began picking off the crispier tots that blanketed the casserole, then flicking them onto the floor.  The food was still very hot and curls of steamy potato went straight up Blossom’s nose.

“Whoa!” meowed Riley.  “There’s enough tater tots here to fill a litter box!”

“There’s enough tater tots here to play Tot Hockey all night long!” said Blossom.  “I hope the Dogner kids did something really naughty.  Mr. and Mrs. H will be down there for hours!”  Blossom’s fur felt afire.

And just like that, the low, loud howl of a siren screamed from the end of the block.  Dots of red light beat across the bay window like spots from Willow’s disco ball.  Blossom and Riley scampered to the window.  A fire truck had pulled up to the Dogners’ doorstep.

Blossom and Riley wide-eyed each other.  “Pizza fire,” Riley said.

“Thank you, Meow Moon!” Blossom sighed at the huge orb, pale yellow against the black sky.  Its cat face smiled down at her.  The Hatchers and Lilly were still at the end of the street with the other neighbors, huddled like sheep waiting for guidance.

When playing Tot Hockey, the goal was to bat as many tater tots as possible under the fridge.  Blossom and Riley skidded over the tile floor, smacking the tots this way and that.  Poof!  Poof! The golden pillows of potato flew under the fridge, some tapping the wall behind it.

Blossom couldn’t remember when she’d had this much fun under a Meow Moon.  “Hat-trick!” she cried, whacking three tots in a row.  But on her next slap shot she accidentally scooped when she should have tapped and sent the tot flying up into the air where it gracefully arced and landed in a slot of the toaster.  Ching! cried the thin wires within.

Then Riley did the same.  His tot did a loop-de-loop and disappeared into Mrs. H’s utensil-filled ceramic pot, making a squishy sound as it dropped down between the wooden spoons.

Blossom and Riley looked at each other.

“We aren’t focusing,” said Blossom.

“And I’m running out of tots,” said Riley.

They scrambled back to the stove for replenishments, flipping them onto the floor.  Blossom noticed with the top layer of tots gone, those beneath had bits of soup and ground beef stuck to them.  Oh well, they’d clean them off as they went.  But they didn’t.

Blossom’s next tot shot landed atop the fridge.  Riley’s nailed Mrs. H’s bookshelf, crammed to overflowing with cookbooks.

The tot assault continued with tots settling into the fruit bowl, behind the glass pot in the coffeemaker, balancing in the curve of a skillet hanging from the overhead pot rack.  One tot was shot with such force it wedged right into the wrought iron curves of the wine rack.

One tot popped straight up and stuck to the ceiling.  Blossom stared up at it, a little tic starting along her back.  A tater tot stuck to Mrs. H’s kitchen ceiling could be troublesome.

The round of Tot Hockey went on.  One tot vanished among the bottles of olive oil clustered near the stove.  One settled on the small shelf of the fridge where the water dispenser was located.  Another into the cute little wooden egg cups that looked like ducks.  And yet another into a watering can placed near the sink.  A half of a tot ended up on the TV’s cable box.

Blossom’s fur felt itchy.  Their recklessness was getting out of paw.  And furthermore, the red lights flashing off the window were gone.  She darted to the window and peered out.  The crowd down at the Dogners’ was breaking up.

“Game’s over!” she meowed. “Time to clean up the tots!”

“Just call me Zamboni toes!” Riley said, digging around in the bookshelf, then pawing about the centerpiece and plates on the kitchen table, swiping all tots to the floor.  Poof! Poof!  Poof! murmured the tots as they hit the tiles.

Blossom fished tots out of the spoon holder, wine rack, egg cup, batting all to the growing pile.   When most tots had been gathered and grouped in the center of the kitchen, almost resembling the crowd gathered down at the Dogners’, the cats took mouthfuls of them back to the now cold casserole on the stove, dropping them atop what was left of it and patting them back into place.

Blossom attempted to snag the tater tot from the toaster but it kept slipping from her toe tips and she was afraid her paw might get stuck.  She withdrew her paw and huffed.  “I hope the next time they use the toaster it doesn’t smell like baked potato.”

“We used almost all of them!” Riley beamed proudly.  “And didn’t we do an awesome job putting them all back?”

“There’s one still stuck on the ceiling.” Blossom fretted, wondering once Mrs. H returned, how many minutes it would take her to spot a tater tot squished to her tidy ceiling.  Blossom did a check out the window.  The Hatchers were still halfway down the street talking to another neighbor.  She looked to the moon, its cat face grinning like that in the story about klutzy Alice who stumbled down a rabbit hole.  “Meow Moon, where are you?” she begged.  “Mrs. H is going to see that tater tot on the ceiling and I’ll be in the doghouse for sure.”

In the still of the Hatchers’ home, Blossom’s ears pricked.  She heard a small poof!

“Blossom!”  It was Riley in the kitchen.  “You’ll never believe this!  The tater tot just fell from the ceiling!”

But Blossom did believe it.  The Meow Moon did not disappoint.

Later that night in their sleeping baskets, Riley said, “Blossom, why did Mrs. H make frozen pizza after they got home?”

“Oh, she said something about cat hair on the tater tots.”  Blossom chose not to dwell upon Mrs. H marching up to the tater tot hotdish after they returned, then giving Blossom a look that could melt ice off a bird bath.  If Lilly and Riley had not been spending the night, it was quite doubtful the Meow Moon could have saved Blossom from a meow-nstrous time-out in the basement.  Of course, Blossom reasoned, if Riley hadn’t come over, she wouldn’t have been playing Tot Hockey in the first place.

Or would she?

Blossom the Cat Makes Valentines

Blossom the Cat Makes Valentines

Red and pink foil-covered kisses and paper heart-shaped cutouts covered the kitchen table.  Crafty Willow was making her own valentines, but as she’d left her project and gone to Lilly’s, Blossom decided to take over and do a little crafting herself.  Blossom the Crafter would make a valentine for Riley, her best feline friend forever, and another for Merle, the neighbor bulldog.

Peeling the red foil from two kisses, Blossom smoothed out their wrappers, leaving the chocolates to roll around on the table.  She had been collecting something much tastier than chocolate from the Hatchers’ kitchen trash over the past two nights.  For Riley, she’d selected part of a fish stick and, for Merle, a piece of Willow’s uneaten hamburger.  These she wrapped in red foil.  Then she pawed two pink paper hearts from the table.  Willow had plenty to spare.

The winter wind ruffled Blossom’s fur as she trotted out to the spot where the backyards came together, carrying the valentines and treats in her teeth.  First she shoved one heart through the chain link bordering Merle’s yard and weighted it down with the foil-wrapped chunk of hamburger.  The heart’s edges lifted slightly but Blossom was not worried.  Mrs. Hatcher’s hamburgers were heavy as rocks.

Next she slipped Riley’s valentine through the fence but before she could weight it down with the fish stick, a gust of wind swept the paper heart up into the air.  Blossom’s head did circles watching Riley’s valentine dance and twirl about like a leaf.  The heart sailed up, up into the sky where it skewered itself onto the end of a leafless branch of the Hatchers’ apple tree.

Tiger toots, she huffed.  Now she’d have to climb up the tree to fetch it.  Using her claws as climbing picks, she ascended the tree trunk and crawled out onto the first branch.  The valentine waved bravely at its end as Blossom inched her way along.  The branch swayed slightly, making her peer at the yard below, not sure how she’d get back down.  She wasn’t really up that high although the heated bird bath in the far corner resembled a mini-donut.  It might be best to let this effort go and just pilfer another heart from Willow’s stash.

Without warning, Blossom’s ears pricked to the sound of flapping wings.  Dylan, the crow, lighted next to her on the limb, blocking her way to the valentine.  Blossom’s nose wanted to wrinkle into a snarl whenever crows crossed her path.  However, Dylan was the only crow she knew of that flew to his own beat instead of running with his flock of lying, garbage-picking cousins.  Dylan also could never pronounce Blossom’s name correctly which was a real fur curler.

“Hi, Balsam,” Dylan crowed.  “Who’s this valentine for?”

Blossom thought about flipping Dylan off the branch with her paw, he was so little.

But then he said, “This valentine is truly beautiful.”

And because Dylan appreciated good crafting when he saw it and because maybe there was a whisker of a chance he might help her get back down on the ground again, she replied, “Thank you, Dylan.  It’s for you.”

“Blossom!”  Merle had been let out and was anxiously watching her from his yard.  “Is this heart and hamburger from you?”  His tail wagged.  “You should put your work on Pinterest.”

And though Blossom would have preferred a basement time-out to balancing on a branch halfway to the clouds, Merle’s compliment made her feel like she might be able to fly.

“Is this fish stick from you?”  Riley was out as well.  “I didn’t get a heart though,” he said, tail drooping to the snow.

“I did,” Dylan crowed before Blossom could slap a paw over his beak.

Riley’s eyes were round as quarters.  “You made a valentine for Dylan and went all the way up there to deliver it?”

“Whoa,” Merle did a little hop.  “That was really big of you, making a valentine for a crow.”

Now what was she supposed to do?  She wanted to explain the heart was for Riley but Dylan’s beady black eyes were drilling holes in the side of her head.  “I didn’t exactly make a valentine for Dylan,” she said.

“Yes you did, Balsam,” cawed Dylan.  “You just said so.”  He nodded his little head.  “And Balsam wrote on my valentine,” he crowed down at the others.  “It says Be Mine.”

“Huh?” Blossom was meow-stified at Dylan’s lie.

“Really?”  Riley’s furry forehead wrinkled up.  “Blossom, when did you learn to write?”

“I didn’t!” said Blossom.  Maybe she should call Dylan a liar right now and figure out how to get back down herself.  She glanced at the bird bath, now looking more the size of a Cheerio.

Be Mine,” Merle wagged his head.  “Are you two in love?”

“Why didn’t I get a valentine?” Riley turned circles in his yard like maybe he was missing something.

Two more crows, bigger than Dylan, soared in, wings spread.  One started pecking at the heart.

“Leave that alone.”  Blossom thought about clubbing the crow until she saw two more fly in.  She was feeling outnumbered.  Their crow cries were annoying as claws on chalk paint.

“That’s my valentine,” Dylan bragged.  “Balsam gave it to me.  And it says Be Mine.

Blossom watched as one, two, three, four more crows landed in the tree.  They were on both sides of her now.  One was above.

Another crow studied the valentine.  “It does say Be Mine.” His black eyes glared at Blossom.  “Shouldn’t you be pawing out valentines to your cat friends instead of sitting in our tree?” he squawked.

Blossom considered jumping.  One, two, three more crows, at that point she lost count.  More and more came.  They were taking over the tree like locusts.  From her high-in-the-sky post she could see more dogs and cats gathering in their yards.  The only thing that could make this crow kerfuffle worse would be if Sheba, the glamour kitten, happened to trot out.  Blossom heard a distant door slam.  Oh poodle poop.

“What’s going on over there?” It was Sheba, running back and forth along her own picket fence.

Riley raced across his yard to meet her.  “Blossom gave a crow a valentine that says Be Mine,” he meowed loud enough for every dog and cat along Tulip Drive to hear.

“What?  I didn’t get any valentine at all from Blossom,” she whined.

“I did!” barked Merle.

The usual sulky kitten look took over Sheba’s furry face.

A schnauzer whose yard backed up to Sheba’s jumped at his fence.  “That cat in the tree gave a valentine to a crow?” he woofed.  “What’s the world coming to?”

Two dogs further off started barking.  Meows in the next block floated over the housetops.  Blossom watched the neighborhood yip and yowl and hiss and howl over a cat giving a valentine to a crow.  Her ears buzzed from all the noise.  She felt like expired Meow Mix, an outcast.

And then the unthinkable happened.  One crow from the flock swooped down from his perch, soared across the yard, narrowly missing the pointed tips topping the chain link fence, and plucked Merle’s foil covered burger from the ground.

There were barks of dismay, meows of disgust, caws of disbelief.  And then silence, the hush so great the squirrels ceased scurrying.

“Dude!” one crow called.  “That’s totally bad manners to snatch someone’s valentine treat.”

A few dogs yelped in agreement.

Blossom crossed her toes that stealing a valentine might top her giving one to a crow.

The crows took off, swooshing up as a group, dotting the snowy sky with their black bodies, leaving all the dogs and cats looking up, jaws hanging.  All the crows, that is, except for Dylan who remained on the branch.  He gazed at the fluttering heart like it was priceless carrion.  “Thank you for the valentine, Balsam.  No one ever gave me a valentine before but if they did, it wouldn’t be near as beautiful as this one.”

Blossom was about to ask why Dylan had to open his bird beak and tell everyone she’d written Be Mine on it.  But no one cared anymore if she did or didn’t.  And Blossom thought it best to not add to the day’s meow-athon of bad manners, even though it was all Dylan’s fault.  Instead she said, “I’m glad you liked my valentine.  Oh, and Dylan. . .”

She was about to inquire if Dylan had any pointers about descending tree trunks, but wings flapping, he readied to take flight.  She watched his little stick legs dangle briefly in mid-air and then he was gone.  Riley and Merle were still in their yards.

“Thanks for the valentine even if I didn’t get to eat it,” Merle barked up at her.

“Yeah, thanks Blossom,” said Riley.  “It’s the thought that counts.”

Blossom’s friends headed back to their warm homes as she shivered in the tree.  She’d hoped maybe one of the many dogs and cats that came out to watch this backyard cat-astrophe might offer help or a suggestion of how to scale a tree backwards, but they’d all gone back to playing and pooping in the snow.  So it was up to her.  Perhaps if she jumped, once her feet left the branch, she’d curl up tight like a worm.  Plus the ground did have mountains of snow covering it.

So she jumped.  “Meowwwwwwww.”  But the drop was so short she didn’t have time to curl.  Poof!  She landed butt-first in a drift, sinking up to her neck.  The displaced snow showered down upon her.  It was cold and soft and tasted like . . . snow.

Blossom bounced to her feet and shook herself off while bits of snow flew from her fur.  Tree jumping into the snow was absolutely meow-velous!  She hadn’t done anything that fun since performing somersaults across Mrs. H’s sparkly cocktail dress, laid out nicely on the bed.  Yes, Blossom would definitely hang up her crafting hat now.  She’d found a new winter hobby.