Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s December 21, 2016, with four shopping days left until Xmas and the First Day of Koynezaa.  It’s also another double food holiday: National French Fried Shrimp Day and National Hamburger Day. So have a burger for me! It’s also São Tomé Day, celebrating the African island where I did fly field work on flies. And it’s Winter Solstice—the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, ergo the beginning of winter. Google has a Doodle:


On this day in 1620, the Pilgrims landed on the site in Massachusetts now known as Plymouth Rock. If you’re a crossword puzzle addict (I’m not, for I’m lousy at them), you’ll want to know that on this day in 1913, Arthur Wynne published the very first such puzzle in the New York World. On December 21, 1937, the Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” premiered in Hollywood. It was the world’s first full-length animated movie, and it was a good one. Imagine what the audience thought! And, in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. 270 people were killed, and the bomber was eventually released.

Notables born on this day include Maud Gonne (1866), the population geneticist Sewall Wright (1889, died 1998), Heinrich Böll (1917), Jane Fonda (1937), Frank Zappa (1940), Samuel L. Jackson (1948), Chris Evert (1954), and Julie Delpy (1969 ♥). Those who died on this day include F. Scott Fitzgerald (1940, one of my favorite writers, who died at 44; do you remember Dr. Eckleburg’s billboard?), George S. Patton (1945), and Nobel Laureate Edwin G. Krebs (2009). (Once you win a Nobel, it always precedes your name!) Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is demanding to be carried inside:

Hili: Do you see that a freezing cat is sitting here?
A: Just a moment, I have to finish the sentence.
Hili: Fine, I will wait here being very unhappy.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy widzisz, że tu siedzi zmarznięty kot?
Ja: Zaraz, tylko dokończę zdanie.
Hili: Dobrze, będę tu czekała taka nieszczęśliwa.

Out in the Arctic wilds of Winnipeg, Gus is having fun indoors, and we have a video. Notes from his staff Taskin:

Here’s a Gus video. His new love is to play with the catnip toys when I whizz them under tissue paper. It’s like hunting! I am now condemned to have shredded shards of tissue paper strewn all over my living room forever.

Voilà: “Playing with Gus”; note how he brings his toy back to the tissue paper:

An animal encounter from reader Randy Schenck in Iowa:

Just outside the window is the Opossum (Dedelphis virginiana) with the interested observer inside watching.  This appears to be a younger one just having lunch on the available bird seed.  Notice the size of the tooth–you would not want to get very close to that.



Finally, a groaner from reader Mark Sturtevant:




  1. Dominic
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t F. Scott Fitzgerald deserve a heart?! ♥


  2. Peter
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    the population geneticist Sewall Wright (1889, died 1998) – died 1988.

  3. darrelle
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Now I have a Heart ear worm. Not bad as ear worms go!

  4. GBJames
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark Sturtevant, for my morning chuckle!

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Ditto! (Well, evening chuckle.)

  5. Addie Pray
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Snow White was not the first animated feature, though it is commonly credited as such. Lotte Reininger’s marvelous “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” came out in 1926. There may be others as well.

  6. rickflick
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Solstice – the reason for the season.

    I used to see opossum in Michigan where temps drop pretty low for a Virginian. They showed up on the garden compost heap in winter. As I remember, they all had missing toes, which I attribute to frost bite.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      I think they lead a pretty tough life around here in winter. No one seems to like the Opossum much…not attractive enough I guess.

      • Christopher
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        I think they’re lovely! Granted, I have a soft spot for under-appreciated, unloved underd*gs, but if an animal isn’t “cute” or “beautiful”, they are always interesting. But, honestly, if do find something a bit cute, if dopey, about possums. However, I don’t recommend ever cornering one, as I did with friends in a barn when I was a wee lad. They turn from dopey to dangerous at the drop of a hat. Spitting and hissing violently, showing off those needle-sharp teeth…I didn’t get any closer to find out more. I may have been a dumb kid, but I wasn’t THAT dumb.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          I did that as a kid too. Once you’ve annoyed them sufficiently, they play possum, which is cool.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            Yes, I have had them drop over and play dead if I just happen to go outside and surprise them. Have always loved Opossums and glad to have them around.

        • Diane G.
          Posted December 21, 2016 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

          I love them, too. One wintered in our garage one year and got to where s/he’d take a milkbone from our hands with its forepaws. (I did worry about it possibly getting too accustomed to humans to its detriment as a wild animal, but when the weather improved it decamped and seemed to revert to typical possum-hood.)

      • Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Opossums do live tough lives, and they’re tough themselves. I don’t think I ever prepared a museum specimen of an adult that didn’t have old broken bones. One roadkill opossum had a in the past broken its lower jaw just to the right of center and more or less healed it. Amazing.

        And then there’s what my relatives call “The Opossum Story” when urging me to tell it to visitors, hoping to gross them out while amusing them. But no — it’s too long. 🙂

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 21, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        I know that’s terrible about how people think about opossums I think they’re cute

  7. Bent Backenforth
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I notice that Gus is following one of mystery writer John D. MacDonald’s rules of cat behavior: when in doubt, wash.

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m so happy for the solstice. Today the sun will set at 4:48 PM where I am and when I’m at work I have to walk a kilometre to my car so always try to hightail it out of there before the sun goes down

  9. Posted December 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    In the Hili photo, there is some curious effect (I guess, reflection in the glass) that makes her look semi-transparent.

    • GBJames
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      That’s very weird!

    Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    One essential appliance for cat ownership is a shop vac–makes short work of hairballs, spilled food, cat vomit, tracked cat litter and shredded paper

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 21, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Interesting. I’m not the house cleaning expert but not sure that would be the best tools for the hairballs/vomit on a rug situation. Maybe a first pass. Additionally, not many people keep a shop vac around the house or apartment.

  11. Hempenstein
    Posted December 21, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Noted in passing – the Google Doodle creature on the right seems to be reading a book. Not sure if that’s in reference to something specific.

  12. Posted December 22, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Kitty 🐱 in two legs:

  13. rickflick
    Posted December 23, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Behavioral plasticity. Very touching.

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