Christmas Kitties

Bela is not amused with his reindeer cap!
"I hate you for doing this to me."
"Seriously? Another photo?"
Surly Santa.
Drunken Sailor Santa
Deer Sidney

So, yeah, I took a few photos of the kitties with their Christmas costumes on. And they really liked, it obviously. I took these back on December 5 so Sidney was under the weather but still kicking. I didn’t bother him too much–and he was always the best sport when it comes to my ridiculous antics.

Goodbye, Sidney.

Today we had to say goodbye to our dear feline friend, Sidney. He was a dearly, deeply loved part of our family for nearly 14 years—a third of our lives!

Sleek kitty

Sidney was an unusual cat. He was lavish with his affections, insatiably curious and (often) downright naughty and incorrigible!

Merry Christmas

We were laughing today, thinking about all of his many “accomplishments” in his short, sweet life. This is what we tallied off the tops of our heads:

  • Learned to jump onto and “ride” the big, tacky wicker chair we used to have all the way to the ground. He would leap up and dive into it, essentially creating a thrill ride in the house.
  • Broke at least two dozen dishes and serving pieces from jumping on the counter and knocking them off.
  • Had a great love of carbs and bread. This love led him to learn to open cupboards.
  • Loved human food and would eat nearly anything he could get his mouth around—celery, ¼ of a pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes—you name it.
  • Learned to open cupboards (so expertly that we had to install child safety locks on all of them in our first apartment).
  • Commandeered a wicker laundry basket as his bed. We would eventually line it with sheepskin but it started out with a simple blanket folded up.
  • Learned to open drawers—exhausted by the task he would generally sleep in them once he opened them. He figured out how to go up from the back of dressers and push out drawers; one morning I came into the bathroom to find all the drawers open. He had opened the cupboard to get to the drawers.
  • Jumped out of a second story window. Twice. Also? Learned to open windows when Dale lived in Chase’s house in Michigan.
  • Liked water. Sometimes he crawled right into the shower with Dale. This also made training him impossible. He was deaf so you couldn’t yell at him and he loved water so you couldn’t spritz him.
  • Would drink from any unattended cup, even if it belonged to company.
  • Discovered the bathroom sink fit him perfectly as a bed.
  • He could skillfully maneuver my head off my pillow to claim it as his own without ever waking me up.

Sidney was incredibly sweet and maintained an incredible disposition his entire life despite having had quite a few health challenges. As a kitten he got an ear infection that left him deaf. He battled severe gastrointestinal issues and often suffered stomach distress (exacerbated by the fact that he’d eat anything off the floor, off the counters, etc.). His knees were bad in recent years and while medicine helped it didn’t reverse the issue. And, finally, he had a fast-growing tumor and cancer. He was a tough little guy with a sweet, strong spirit.

Bela watching over Sidney this morning

If you ever met Sidney you know how special he was and you know how much we
loved him. Below is a sampling of some of our favorite photos of him. Feel free to click on any one of them to go to a bigger version of the photo.

Dale’s Aerobatic Flight!

Dale had talked about going on an aerobatic flight for a very long time. One day last winter Groupon offered a great deal for a trick flight with Gauntlet Warbirds, located in Aurora, Illinois. Dale told me about it and I bought it for him for his birthday in June. The flight had to be rescheduled several times due to weather in the spring and he didn’t end up getting to take the flight until August! And I had to learn to edit video in order to create this post! So, yay for new skills.

Anyway, he ended up on an Extra 300, one of the most maneuverable civilian aircraft in the world.

He was geeked, obviously. He had to gear up and wear a flight suit!

His co-pilot took him out onto the tarmac to greet the Extra 300. Dale’s carrying a parachute on his back.

There she is! In all her terrifying glory. I was pretty much crapping myself and secretly glad that the flight and tricks would be too far away for me to see it happening.

Dale, cinching his bits in place. He had to be strapped into the cockpit.

Who is that? Why it’s the World War II flying ace The Red Baron!
Dale gets a final debriefing before the flight…

Anybody else singing “Highway to the Danger Zone” yet? Because I totally am.

Here’s a quick video I took of Dale’s flight taking off–with some smudge of something on my lens. Oops. I was pretty much crapping myself at this point. Then I went to Starbucks and Dale did this…

This is a 14-minute version of Dale’s flight. I know that’s long but it’s my first attempt at editing a video–and it was really flippin’ hard because I don’t have a Mac, ok?

It was a 30-minute flight. This is the take-off and the bulk of the tricks. I put little title cards in to let you know what’s going on (it’s like a silent movie). If you want to skip right to the tricks go in about 3 minutes!

To give you an idea how insane this whole thing is: at 1:30 in the video the pilot asks Dale if he’d like to take the controls–they let you drive the plane with no lessons! How insane is that? And Dale took the controls and did a roll! Craziness. There are a few tricks after that point that pretty much make me want to toss my cookies. But as we learned in the video I posted from Yellowstone? I pretty much always want to toss my cookies when it motion.

Dale says that he had a lot of fun on the flight and he would love to go on another one–and if anybody out there is looking to buy Dale the perfect Christmas present he says he’d happily accept the responsibility of an Extra 300 of his own.

O, Christmas Tree!

We went to Richardson’s Tree Farm the day after Thanksgiving (we went to Trish & Rudy’s for dinner and it was fabulous–thanks for the invite!). It’s a super cute tree farm. And on the tractor ride to the back 40 we saw a guy who was taking his task a little too seriously–he had a generator and an electric saw. A bit of overkill, yes?

Dale was hunting the old-fashioned way: with a saw.

Here’s a video of Dale taking down his tree! Hee! That’s me yelling, “Timber!”

Dale with his kill!

Mounting his kill on the car.

Once we got home we put the decorations up. This included the silver tinsel tree that we put up in the dining room. Sidney quickly curled up under it.

I put up my mom’s hand-painted Christmas village. I love it!

Monty and Sidney pretty much set up shop under the fake tree. Not sure why. I guess they like to get hair on my cross stitch handiwork.

And finally! The Main Event! It’s our Christmas tree for 2010! She’s a cutie.