Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) is back doing the Hili dialogues, with many thanks to Grania for substituting for me when I was in India.

Good morning to all, including humans, beasts, and all the ships at sea: it’s Sunday, January 7, 2018. Yes, 2018 is here, and now I have to get used to writing that year on my checks, except I hardly write checks any more (Like books made from real paper, checks are disappearing). It’s National Tempura Day, as well as Christmas in countries like Russia and Ukraine, whose Orthodox Churches adhere to the Julian Calendar.

On January 7, 1610, Galileo first observed the four “Galilean moons”: the four largest moons of Jupiter (Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Europa). On this day in 1835, HMS Beagle, on the way home with its cargo of Darwin and his specimens, anchored off the Chonos Archipelago, the subject of Chapter 13 in The Voyage of the Beagle On this day in 1927, the first transatlantic telephone service was inaugurated, sending calls between London and New York City. On January 7, 1955, Marian Anderson became the first African-American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The opera was Verdi’s “Un ballo in maschera” and she played Ulrica. It was the first and last time she appeared on stage in an opera, but she had a distinguished career giving recitals and playing with orchestras. She died at 96 in 1993.  Here’s a bit of that famous performance in which you can hear her lovely contralto (singing begins at 2:35):

Finally, on January 7, 1999, 1he Senate began the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. He was charged with one count of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, both involving Paula Jones—not Monica Lewinsky, as many people think. Clinton was acquitted on February 12.

Notables born on this day include Millard Fillmore (1800) and Bernadette Soubirous, the young girl who became famous when she saw a vision of a woman (never described by her as the Virgin Mary) at Lourdes in France. She died of tuberculosis in 1879 at age 35 while praying, and of course Lourdes, given the imprimatur of the Pope as a site of miracles (Bernadette was made a saint) became one of the world’s most famous religious sites. It’s now visited by 5 million praying and supplicating pilgrims per year. Here’s what Bernadette looked like:

You may know the schmalzy and religion-osculating movie about her life, The Song of Bernadette (1943), for which Jennifer Jones, playing the title role, won the Best Actress Oscar. Here’s the trailer; but YouTube has the entire movie here.

Others born on this day include the racist Orval Faubus (1910), the black actress Butterfly McQueen (1911), Gerald Durrell (1925), Katie Couric (1957), and Nicholas Cage (1964).  Those who died on this day include Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII (1536), Nikola Tesla (1943), Emperor Hirohito of Japan (1989), and mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (2006, age 93) who wrote the famous climbing books Seven Years in Tibet (1952) and The White Spider (1959). Both are great reads if you like adventure and the mountains.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili got another tube of the delicious Japanese “cat’s snack” sent by embroidery artist Hiroko Kubota.

Hili: This Japanese paste loves to be in the mouth of a Polish cat.
A: Did you ask the paste?
Hili: No, but I can feel it.
In Polish:
Hili: Ta japońska pasta bardzo lubi być w pyszczku polskiego kota.
Ja: Pytałaś ją?
Hili: Nie, ale czuję to.
The good news from Poland is that the wooden house of Elzbieta, Andrzej the Second, and Leon has been moved to Dobrzyn in pieces, where Andrzej and Malgorzata are storing it in their barn equivalent until it can be assembled and put on a foundation this year (yet to be poured). Stay tuned. Meanwhile, Leon is having business as usual:
Leon: Menu, please.
Here are a few tweets from Heather Hastie, whose latest post deals with Fire and Fury, the new book about Donald Trump, (By the way, thanks to Heather for sending me a swell birthday present—an All Blacks rugby jersey, the official garment of all Honorary Kiwis).  In the first tweet I’ve stolen, someone is offended by needy baby raccoons:

. . . and a needy cat, who needs to GET IN!

Look at the size of this moggie, probably a Maine Coon Cat:

Matthew sent a clever cat using what I think is the mail flap of a house to make its egress:

Finally, we have two illusions tweeted by the same person, but sent by two different people, the first from Matthew Cobb. . . .

. . . the second by reader Diane G.:


  1. Posted January 7, 2018 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    From your post… I remember.. today is birthday of my mom 🙂

  2. George
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Welcome back Jerry. The Hili Dialogues are not the same without you. Which does not mean they are better with you – just different. Grania does a great job.

    Your comment about writing so few checks reminds me that last year I wrote my last check that said “LaSalle National Bank”. LaSalle was acquired by Bank of America in 2008 and disappeared. But the checks are still good – the routing code was valid which is all that mattered. So I kept using them – five or fewer per year until they ran out.

    I remember that in the days before ATMs (what we called Cash Stations after the ubiquitous machines from First Chicago), to get actual cash you went to the Jewel (a Chicago grocery chain – and yes you went to THE Jewel – which is how we say it here) and used your check cashing card to get actual greenbacks. Which you actually used.

    A question for Malgorzata – you used the term pasta in Polish for paste. Which is correct but I thought it applies to things like glue, not to something you consumed. The woman who took care of my mother used pasztet (which means pate) as in pasztet pomidorowy for tomato paste. Is than an American Polish variation? I usually hear the word makaron used for pasta (Italian word for noodles which is now a part of American English) but I have heard some Poles use pasta instead of makaron.

    My favorite weird difference in American Polish is “what is on television” – which is how Americans ask what program is being broadcast. Since television was not invented before the emigracja wojenna left Poland, they translated that literally and say “co jest na telewizji.” In Poland, people assume that you are asking what is on top of the television set. In Poland, they say what is in the television, “co jest w telewizji.”

    • Malgorzata
      Posted January 7, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I discovered your question first now. Yes, “pasta” in Polish is used for edible things as well, especially if they are made out of fish but not only. There is “pasta rybna” for example. For tomato paste you use “przecier pomidorowy”, not pasta. Pasztet is only pate. Unles there is some calamity of not too serious kind, and you say: “No i pasztet” which means you are in trouble but it has nothing with anything edible to do. The woman you describe must’ve used some Polish-American variety. In Poland nobody would call makaron “pasta” – it would be incomprehensible for anybody who doesn’t know Italian.

  3. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    That ‘Peach’ illusion just did my vision in. It is absolutely impossible to see the whole picture at once. It reminds me of the visual effect just before the onset of a migraine.

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s bloody good.

    By the way, talking of visions, if Lourdes is so efficacious, howcome Bernadette kicked the bucket at 35? Or is that a cynical question we’re not supposed to ask…?


    • George
      Posted January 7, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      My mother, who was a very devout Catholic, always wanted to visit Fatima (in Portugal) so my sister took her there. She also took her around Europe to much nicer places. Even my mother thought the place was terrible. It is a huge church surrounded by stores full of cheap catholic kitsch. Basically, a huge commercial enterprise – all have their hand out. I imagine Lourdes is even worse because of it reputed healing powers.

    • Posted January 7, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      You know who doesn’t make a pilgrimage to Lourdes when he gets sick? His Holiness.

  4. GBJames
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Dead, praying, at 35… famous for a miraculous vision of a health-restoring deity.

    You can’t make it up.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted January 7, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      That does seem to jump right off the page, doesn’t it.

    • Posted January 30, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same.

  5. Merilee
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The raccoons remind me of Lady MacBeth: and yet, there’s a spot…

    • George
      Posted January 7, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Are you sure it is not the witches? Double, double, toil and trouble…

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 7, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      You need to lose the middle “t” 🙂

      Strangely enough I was reminded of the weyward Sisters while watching those cute raccoons

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Ironically, another famous role of Jennifer Jones was as the temptress in “Duel in the Sun” with Gregory Peck. Raised Catholic, Jones spent her latter years as a Unitarian.

    “Song of Bernadette” is actually adapted from a novel by the Jewish writer, Franz Werfel, who passed through Lourdes while escaping Nazis. (Some would say, “forget all the Christmas carols written by Jews. Song of Bernadette was written by one.”)

    The best thing in the movie is Vincent Price as the skeptical clergyman who doesn’t believe Bernadette. It was before he got typed as a horror actor.


    I had always assumed the first African-American singer at the Met was Leontyne Price (who had a long career there). Now I know I was wrong.

  7. Ken Phelps
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Raccoons? I was thinking evangelicals at an altar call.

  8. ealloc
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Those illusions weren’t just “tweeted by” the same person – I believe they were “made by” him!

  9. nicky
    Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Marion Anderson, “just wow”, how come I didn’t know about her? She’s Great! (and I do not really like opera sing song) Thank you for that.
    Those optical illusions are powerful, I thought I knew about all of them, because of Michael Bach’s website (the alpha and Omega of visual illusions), but the ‘entangling circles’ were new to me.
    Just in case:

    • Merilee
      Posted January 9, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Opera sing song??

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