Monday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Monday, January 9, 2017, and a balmy 23° F (-5° C) in Chicago; we have some snow predicted for today. It’s also National Apricot Day (though I don’t think they’re in season), and National Cassoulet Day, celebrating one of my favorite French dishes. In India, it’s Non-Resident Indian Day, celebrating the contributions of Indians who live outside their country (imagine having a National Expats Day in the U.S!). The date was chosen because it was on this day in 1915 that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.

On this day in 1349, the entire Jewish population of Basel, Switzerland, was rounded up, herded into a barn, and incinerated. They had been held responsible for the Black Death, since Jewish mortality was seen to be lower than that of non-Jews. On January 9, 1916, the Battle of Gallipoli came to an end, a great victory for the Ottoman Empire and a disaster for England, Australia, New Zealand, and France. The victorious commander was Kemal Atatürk, who later became Turkey’s President and a great force for modernization, secularization, and equal rights for women. Finally, it was on this day in 2015 that the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre were killed, but another attack took place in a Jewish supermarket in Paris, with four hostages killed along with the Muslim attacker.

I report with sadness that Nat Hentoff (born 1925), author and jazz critic, died on Saturday. Those born on this day include Simone de Beauvoir (1908), Richard Nixon (1913), Bob Denver (1935), Joan Baez (1941), and geneticist Alec Jeffreys (1950).

Those who died on this day include Caroline Herschel (1848), the astronomer after whom Brian Cox named his cat (it’s a calico, ergo female):


Author Katherine Mansfield also died on this day in 1923. Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is demanding that her staff warm things up:

Hili: You haven’t made a fire in the fireplace.
A: I have to fetch wood from the woodshed.
Hili: Never put important duties till later!
In Polish:
Hili: Nie napaliłeś w kominku.
Ja: Muszę przynieść drewno z drewutni.
Hili: Nigdy nie odkładaj ważnych obowiązków na później!

And in nearby Wloclawek, Leon is also suffering with the cold, but has turned indolence to his advantage.

Leon: I’m hatching new ideas for the icy winter.


All the cats are housebound and cold! In Winnipeg, Gus has taken over a blanket that was given to his staff, reader Taskin, who now can’t use it. Her note:

The blanket I was given for Christmas has received the coveted “Gus Seal of Approval” 🙂



  1. Monika
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Oh yes, the cat seal of approval. My late cat always tested soft and comfy things for me. I bought a new duvet, I placed it on the bed, up hopped the cat, sniffed it, plonked himself down and looked at me: You chose well, I approve. I bought a sleeping bag, unpacked it and put it on the sofa. I walked out of the room, as I came back I noticed a bump inside the sleeping bag. The cat was in the bag and approved. 🙂

  2. Barney
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    It looks like Non-Resident Indian Day celebrates Indian citizens who live outside India, not non-citizens or foreigners living in India. The equivalent would be an “Americans Abroad Day”.

  3. Dominic
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Also the anniversary in 1887 of Thomas Stevens completing the first round the world trip by bicycle

  4. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I first encountered Nat Hentoff as the writer of the liner notes to Bob Dylan’s second 9and first major) album “The FreeWheelin'”.

    I later grudgingly admired him as the only fellow writing anti-abortion articles for “Free Inquiry”. (He was also against voluntary euthanasia.)

  5. Posted January 9, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Re the Basel massacre. Ironic that the isolation in ghettos that protected the Jews from the worst of the Black Death also exposed them to massacre.

  6. Posted January 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Re: National Apricot Day: this is about the time of year that my mother would bottle her second batch of “apricot brandy”, not actually brandy but a fiery liqueur with an intense apricot flavor, made from apricots that my parents dried in the summer. Better than the “brandy” were the dried apricots that had flavored the concoction, which were tender and very alcohol-infused. We nibbled them very sparingly, but damn they were good.

  7. haymanj
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Apricots are in season in Australia

  8. Mike
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Who names all these Days.? we don’t have that kind of mass day naming in the UK,at least I haven’t heard any,not that I take much notice in any case.

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