Associations and accessors...has to be something obvious I'm doing wrong

I'm quite the Rails beginner and I think I just need a good shove in
the right direction. TIA!

schema:
CREATE TABLE `ticket_statuses` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL,
  `status` varchar(255) default NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
);

CREATE TABLE `tickets` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL,
  `title` varchar(255) default NULL,
  `details` text,
  `status_id` int(11) default NULL,
  `opened_at` datetime default NULL,
  `closed_at` datetime default NULL,
  `last_activity_at` datetime default NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  KEY `fk_ticket_status` (`status_id`),
  CONSTRAINT `fk_ticket_status` FOREIGN KEY (`status_id`) REFERENCES
`ticket_statuses` (`id`)
);

models:
Ticket belongs_to :ticket_status
TicketStatus has_many :tickets

ticket controller list method:
...
def list
    @ticket_pages, @tickets = paginate :tickets, :order => "id DESC",
:per_page => 10
end
...

ticket list view:
...
<% for ticket in @tickets %>
    <tr class="<%= cycle("list-line-odd", "list-line-even") %>">
        <td class="name"><a class="ticket" href="/ticket/show/<%=
ticket.id %>"><span class="yellow-tag"><%= ticket.id %></span></a></td>
        <td class="name"><%= h(ticket.title) %></td>
        <td><%= ticket.ticket_status.status %></td>
        <td><%= ticket.last_activity_at %></td>
    </tr>
<% end %>
...

All I want to do is print out the ticket_status.status field in my list
view. I can do this all day: <%= ticket.status_id %>. But when I try
<%= ticket.ticket_status.status %> I get the "You have a nil object
when you didn't expect it! The error occured while evaluating
nil.status" error. I've emptied my tickets table and added all new
ones. What stupid thing am I doing wrong?