A Mouse in Every Pot and a Cat in Every Bed*

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*The similarity of this slogan to Herbert Hoover’s 1928 presidential campaign slogan is completely intentional. However, it does not mean that Mr. Hoover endorses any of the candidates below. Unfortunately Mr. Hoover died in 1964 and is unable to make such a declaration.


Here at Cheeseland we have been discussing the U.S. Presidential election a lot while trying to ignore the candidates as much as we can. It has become painfully clear that none of the candidates has a strong pro-cat stand (or any other animal, for that matter). In fact, we are unable to find a reference to cats anywhere in the published speeches.

Finally, someone suggested that we would have to put forward our own candidates. Both Super Snoops and Kommando Kitty quickly stepped back and said that they were much too smart to want to be President. So the search was on.

We were a little concerned about sending our mice editors George and Lenny out to find strong candidates. We didn’t want them eaten by interest groups or action committees. They did a fine job.

Below are our potential choices:

 

 

Name: Charles Scruffikan

Hometown: Detroit, MI

Current Job: Mouse Patrol

Strength: Not easily intimidated

 

Name: Edward “Biff” Kellingham III

Hometown: Braintree, MA

Current Job: Inspector at family mattress company

Strength: Calm under pressure

 

Name: Creamsicle

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Current Job: Yoga Instructor

Strength: Fast on her feet

 

Name: Jaime Tiggs

Hometown: Washington, DC

Current Job: Undersecretary of the Interior for Wildlife

Strength: Experience working with Congress

 

We are currently in negotiations for a debate between the candidates. You may forward any questions here. Please – nothing about technology.

At Sixes and Sevens

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I love this phrase because it’s just obscure enough that people think they should know what it means. (To be in a state of confusion or disarray.)

This post was intended to be about things that give me pause, but while checking on the phrase’s origin, I found some things to add to the list.

I had thought that the expression referred to numbers in a game of chance that were the riskiest and therefore led the gambler to some confusion about whether or not to make the bet.

That is true, but the better story comes from the possible second origin. I am still slightly at sixes and sevens about the whole thing.

England has something called an order of precedence for their livery companies. A livery company is a trade association and does not have anything to do with horses (which confused me very much the first time I read through the description of the dispute.)

The livery of Merchant Taylors (tailors) and the livery of Skinners were both chartered in 1327. They became the sixth and seventh trade associations in England. There is no surviving record of which was chartered first, but they started fighting about it almost immediately. Wouldn’t they have had to be chartered at the same place? Did someone bribe the clerk to change a date? The English were pretty fussy about their hierarchies.

It got so bad that in 1484 the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Billesden, decided that at the Feast of Corpus Christi (how many know when that is?) the associations would swap places and feast in each other’s halls. It seems to be that skinners and tailors would attract a completely different type of crowd. Perhaps leg of boar one year and pheasant the next? Whiskey and mead? I love the mayor’s title.

The associations still swap places every year. They are still known as liveries. Both are part of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies (the top 12 in the listing). Sadly, the armor makers did not make the cut. English hierarchy remains alive and well in 21st century Britain.

One last note: the liveries maintain the word “worshipful” in their title (e.g., Worshipful Company of Fishmongers – #4). It’s not clear who they were worshipping, God or King. I think it was basically the same at the time. I would guess neither today. We just don’t have that kind of tradition here in the U.S.

Why do medieval English feasts always make me think of a bunch of people sitting around in the semi-dark eating greasy joints of some animal? Somebody there had to be eating the rest of it.

Moving on:

Was there anyone else whose first reaction to last week’s mega-storm on the east coast was to make sure it wasn’t going to hit them before it got to its destination? And be happy that it was going somewhere else?

Do politicians running for President get as tired of listening to themselves as the rest of us do? I think it should be like Family Feud: two candidates go head to head to see who can guess what Americans really want. Then they’ll know what they should promise (well aware that they won’t be able to do it.)

Why would someone come into a mega-store and ask whether we carry Amazon Fire Sticks? Do they not understand the concept behind Amazon?

Also unclear on the concept: the lady who returned her slow cooker saying that it cooked too slowly. (Yes, it did work correctly.)

If an airline can claim that they have arrived on-time even though they have to sit in queue for an hour and a half, why doesn’t that principle apply for arriving for the meeting they scheduled around your flight?

It’s ironic that they originally built Washington, D.C. on a swamp. I think some of the original residents may still be wandering the government halls.

I did not realize that there are Lego sets now that need to be locked down because they cost more than $100.

I think I need to buy one of the tablets they make for toddlers. They look totally indestructible.

How many kids appreciate (or can even see) the color gradations in a 156-color box of Crayons?

Why can you buy (really) inferior brands of chocolate at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter that are not available the rest of the year? Is it just a sideline for a wax company?

Is your beloved cheap, broke, or chocolate-blind if he/she buys you one of those atrocities? Is it worse to be cheap or chocolate-blind?

Why can’t I find any cards to send for Groundhog Day?

Are Divas Born or Made?

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Diva – prima donna; a usually glamorous and successful female performer or personality; especially a popular female singer Merriam Webster Dictionary

Prima Donna – the main female singer in an opera company; a person who thinks she or he is better than everyone else and who does not work well as part of a team or group Merriam Webster Dictionary

Diva – a b****y woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all. often rude and belittles people, believes that everyone is beneath her and thinks that she is so much more loved than what she really is. Selfish, spoiled, and overly dramatic. Urban Dictionary

The other day I woke up to Super Snoops sitting at the foot of my bed looking at me as if to say, “I’ve been waiting more than 30 seconds for you to get up and let me downstairs. What’s the problem?” I think cats are naturally born divas. Even the sweet ones have their moments of, “Just turn off the rain so I can lie in my favorite sunspot.”

When I was little, I heard that Maria Callas was a real diva. I had no idea who she was or what diva meant, so it got tossed into the back of my mind. A lot of useless stuff lives there, so it was right at home.

According to the Internet, there are a lot of divas around at the moment. We have Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce. I don’t really know much about them. However, they certainly seem to be in charge wherever they go.

Thinking harder about it (a painful process), I realized that there really wasn’t a male counterpart to a diva. The Urban Dictionary says that it’s “hustler,” which is a stretch. I really don’t think Mariah Carey gets what she wants by misrepresenting herself. I think she gets what she wants because people want to make her happy.

I once read that the rock group Van Halen insisted on having all of the brown M&M’s removed from the bowl in their dressing room. I read it in Rolling Stone, so I know it’s true. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would much rather order a room full of white gardenias than paw through bags of M&M’s. Why they would want someone handling their food is a separate issue entirely.

Regardless, all of these people are able to make these somewhat silly and unreasonable requests because they are talented and extremely popular. Management doesn’t want their star to disappear before the show. A new toilet seat at every stop (Madonna) seems like a small price to pay for the income from the show. (Of course, management is not the one who has to search for the perfect shade of paint to redo the dressing room or try to keep the star functioning after they have consumed the entire bottle of pricey Scotch requested.)

I wonder at what point the transition to true diva starts and how it happens. My daughter told me about three potential divas she ran across in LA. The first was her roommate K. K had seemed pretty normal at home. She was a little stressed and flaky, but the world would be full of divas if those were the criteria. However, after being chosen as a finalist for several awards and not winning, she began to boo the winners. Afterwards, she complained somewhat excessively about how the judges didn’t appreciate how really talented she was. Her mother was a definite enabler of the behavior.

Then there was the young man (14 years old) who seemed to assume that because he looks good in clothes, everyone would be dying to sign him. He had appeared pretty normal until the last day. His disappointment at only having a few callbacks exposed the real diva. Instead of trying to sell himself to them, he told one of the agents that he was only interested in modeling and did not want to be trained in acting (for commercials and that type of thing.) The judges did not appreciate his talent either.

Finally there were the girls who received a lot of callbacks and only went to the ones that interested them. How they knew the others wouldn’t have been a good fit is anyone’s guess. But the girls knew they were too good to condescend to meet with them. Hopefully it worked out with the agents who made the cut.

I’ve come to the conclusion that human divas are made, not born. (Although some seem to have better genetic material for it than others.)

Cats can’t help it. It’s inbred. But they look so cute when they do it.

Slothly Ruminations on Human Behavior – Part Two

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Image result for sloths  Les Sloth, Guest Contributor

Conventions are very strange things. For example, they are very boring. At least this one is. The beautiful, talented people are actually competing against each other. But they don’t talk to each other or fight. It’s not like those people on TV who are competing to be President; whatever that it. I guess those people are not beautiful and talented.

Mainly we have been sitting in a room and watching people walk and talk. Everyone is dressed very nicely. I wonder what they do with all of those nice clothes when they are home. Particularly some of the people on the runway. I have never seen Cat or B in anything like that.

B only walked one time. I thought she was very pretty. She was wearing jeans and looked really normal compared to some of the other people I saw. I guess she did OK. She didn’t fall in front of everyone and that was important she said.

She talked a lot though. A few times she sounded like she was trying to sell things to the other people. The other times she just sounded like she was just rambling about something. She sounded most normal then. She sang one time too.

There were a few people who watched and wrote things down. Some of the other beautiful, talented people watched too. The people B knew all watched each other. They told each other how great they were. The people who wrote things down never told anyone they were great. They didn’t smile at anyone either.

I think Cat will be very happy with the job that C has done. B has not been crazy at all the entire trip. C does interesting things during the day while B watches people walk and talk. I think she has actually been outside the building.

I think I have done a good job too. No strange people have come near except the ones she wants to talk to. The other night the lady with the black hair who is in charge of B’s group lost her phone. While they we looking for the phone, one of the guys had his wallet stolen. That wouldn’t have happened if he had a sloth bodyguard.

The PR part is working too. Already a couple of people have asked for B’s picture and wanted a private audition. It’s a good thing that they wanted pictures. The lady with the black hair wanted B to take at least 50 or 60 pictures with her. She also had to take resumes. They took up a lot of space in her bag. So did the clothes and shoes, but I don’t think she’s supposed to give those to anyone.

The only things left to do are callbacks and the awards dinner. I’m not really sure what a callback is. B says they don’t have anything to do with phones or people calling out her name. I don’t know what kind of awards they are giving out. I really hope they only talk after we eat. I think they will have a salad so I can eat too. Then I can sleep while they talk.

We are going home the day after that. I have to lay on one of those machines again so they can make sure I’m not going to blow up the plane. I hope Cat is there to meet us. This trip has been the longest six days of my life.

 

 

Slothly Ruminations on Human Behavior

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Image result for sloths  Les Sloth, Guest Contributor

I really didn’t have to ruminate much to come to my conclusion:

Humans are crazy!

Cat assigned me to accompany B to Los Angeles for her modeling/talent convention. I joined her and her friend C while they finished packing for the trip. I don’t think C was going there to be beautiful; I think she was supposed to keep B from being crazy while she was being beautiful. I hope Cat’s paying her more than she’s paying me.

Apparently it takes a lot of stuff to be beautiful and talented. B had two overflowing suitcases before C arrived. C helped her repack so all that stuff fit. Unfortunately, B still had a lot of stuff. Fortunately, it doesn’t take as much stuff to prevent craziness so C could share some of her space.

Cat drove us to the airport in the dark. We had to get in a line where all the humans had to take off their shoes. Humans have ugly feet – no fur or claws. They made me lie down on a belt that went through a big box. B said they were looking for explosives. Why would I eat explosives? I’m a vegetarian.

The plane ride was awful. The airplane people said that animals ride under the seat. They also said that I really should be in a cage in cargo. I showed them my ticket. They finally said that I could have the seat but that if I made a mess on the seat I had to leave. Can you believe that?! People can be so rude.

We finally got to the LA airport. I was really sorry I’m not an insectivore. There were a lot of big black beetles on the floor. B carried me. She said it was too dirty for me to walk and that someone might step on me.

We had to wait for the luggage. That’s a really scary place. There were a lot of people pushing each other trying to get their stuff. I think I would have left some of that stuff there and bought something better looking. C was really good at making sure no one got our stuff. That probably helped B not be crazy.

We got to the hotel pretty quickly. I think everyone in LA must be late getting somewhere. All they do is run around.

After we got there, B had a message that she had to go to a meeting. Of course, I went with her. There were four people there besides B. A lady with black hair was really excited and told them everything that they needed to do. The lady seemed pretty stressed out and was making B and her friends annoyed. Luckily, the lady didn’t have a problem with me being there so B didn’t get really upset.

B had to go to some kind of singing practice. I don’t know how humans are supposed to sound when they sing, but they didn’t sound anything at all like the songbirds where I come from. I guess B did OK. No one threw anything at her or walked out.

The last thing she did was to put on a lot of makeup and have someone take pictures of her. I think that went pretty well. I don’t understand why all of the pretty girls there had to put stuff on their faces to have their pictures taken. Sloths look good the way we are. And none of them looked as good as a lady sloth when they were done.

That was the end of the stuff B had to do on the first day. She went to eat with her friends. I went back to the room to try and figure out whether the people were having a good time there or not. I fell asleep before I could decide.

More to come.

Annual Cheeseland Staff Meeting

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Once a year all, the reporters for Adventures in Cheeseland get together to describe major projects they are working on for the next year. George and Lenny are responsible for herding the cats (so to speak).

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George: Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for taking the time to come to Michigan for this meeting. Cat has a few things that she would like us to mention at the beginning of this meeting.

Lenny: First, we have to commit to having something to publish once a week.

(Under his breath: that’s her fault not ours. General snickers. George takes over.)

George: And our readership seems to be trending a little intellectual. She want us to get a little more mainstream.

mehitabel: Not gonna happen.

Ahab: Not with me. I didn’t sign on to be dumbed down.

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(Agreement around the table.)

George: Cat thought that might be your response. So she hired a freelancer for our first attempt. I’d like you to meet Les Sloth. He is going to the convention with Cat’s daughter to get a first-hand view of modeling competitions. (Groans all around.) He’s posing as her bodyguard and PR rep. If it works out, he’ll be a regular contributor.

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(Les looks around and gently smiles at everyone.)

Ahab: No disrespect Les, but how are you going to guard B? Aren’t sloths rather (searches for correct word)

Les: Yes we are slow. But we are also very cute and that tends to disarm people. While they are looking at me, I have a buzzer to B’s traveling companion who works as B’s wing person. She will be able to talk to people and explain that B is there for work, not socialization.

Ahab: That actually might work. Welcome to Cheeseland.

(The others welcome him as well.)

Ricky T. Tavi: So what are you calling your piece?

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Les: Cat and I agreed on “Slothly Ruminations on Human Behavior.”

archy (snickering): That title should draw in the Twitter crowd.

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George: If that’s what Cat wants, that’s the title.

archy: It wasn’t a reflection on you, Les. You seem like a nice guy.

(Les smiles at him.)

George: So what else is happening this year?

mehitabel: We’re looking into adulteration at a cheese-puff factory. They may actually be putting cheese into some of their products.

“Ace” Sopp: I am looking into a secret group of sub-Saharan animals who are putting together a peace-keeping group to try to help their northern human neighbors.

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Ricky T. Tavi: Unfortunately it appears that there may be some doping on the Bengal Tiger surf team. Since Ahab is the head of the commission for the summer games, we are working together to try to prevent a scandal.

Ahab: Unfortunately, we are finding evidence that the problem may be more wide-spread than we first thought. The human surfing social habits are spreading to the animals.

H. Chris Andersen: I am looking into the beginnings of socialized medicine for animals, particularly in Scandinavia. We are hoping to avoid some of the start-up glitches the humans have experienced. For example, most animals can’t wait several months for tests and surgery.

George: I assume we will be sending someone to the human Olympics this summer?

Ace: Ricky and I drew the short straws because we live in hot climates. I hate dealing with humans. They always act so condescending.

Ricky: Like they’re better than we are. Les, you’re welcome to join us. It’s in your neighborhood and you’re studying humans right now.

Les: I would like that.

George: Great! It looks like we have a good start to the year. Remember to keep us updated on what you’re doing. Don’t forget about the time the Tasmanian devil almost bankrupt us trying to recreate a typhoon.

(They all laugh and adjourn to the dining room.)

Is December Over Yet?

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As we get older, the months are supposed to sneak past us so quickly that we don’t even see them going by. December didn’t get the memo. It’s not like I really accomplished anything; it just feels like it took forever not to.

December showed off some pretty quirky human behavior. And some amazing first-world stupidity.

I always do a lot of baking for the holidays. It takes about a week and I generally make the same things. Unfortunately my week was interrupted by cranberry bread for my husband to take to work, breakfast breads for my daughter’s fundraiser, and putting together a gingerbread reindeer and sleigh. (Not really difficult if you have four hands.) Luckily for my family I was still in my holiday daze when they remarked that I had not made fudge this year.

I went to an interfaith peace kick-off meeting on December 22. The timing was significant because it was the season of Christmas, Hanukah, and The Prophet’s birth. And because those of us who work in retail are in a perpetual haze. I hope the woman sitting next to me won’t be offended if we meet again and I have no clue who she is.

Someone left an empty tube of acrylic paint on a shelf at work. There was no mess, so it wasn’t vandalism. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just put the tube in your pocket than empty the contents into it?

Somebody took a small-sized safe. The empty ones we sell. If you can’t afford a safe, what are you going to put in it?

We had a new employee for a few weeks. She was hired as a stocker. After a couple of weeks she could stock five cases of toys in eight hours. (That’s approximately 30 toys.) Turns out that a large part of the problem was that she spent the night shopping – picking out items, looking them over, deciding what she really wanted, replacing what she didn’t, and paying for her purchases.

When the company had documented enough to fire her, she was highly offended. She called the store director to complain about unfair termination. Complain very loudly. He asked her if she was challenging the reports of shopping on company time and inability to perform the job. No, she agreed that it was true. It just wasn’t fair to fire her.

Last night four bored young men came into the store. I heard this tremendous “music” and went to investigate. They had turned on all the dancing Christmas bears and were taping them on a phone. I tried not to laugh when I asked them to please not do it again.

You may recall that my daughter B was invited to L.A. for a modeling/talent convention. They are leaving this coming Tuesday (1/4). Last Sunday (12/27), her agency wanted to see all of the clothes she was bringing to L.A. They told her that her dress for the award dinner was way too loose and needed to be tailored. She was lucky. A couple of the other people had to make major wardrobe adjustments. In a week.

This week the agency told B that she did need a portfolio after all of 6 to 8 pictures. She could get the perfect display album for just $45 from them. But they were out of stock. She bought an $18 presentation portfolio from Staples that displays the photos beautifully. Good thing since last night the agency said she needs 10 copies each of 3 other pictures.

B needed to purchase the pictures from Costco/CVS/Walgreen’s/Staples. It seemed simple enough. Download the picture file, enter the dimensions and quantity, and place the order. The pictures were professionally taken to be printed as 8×10. However to order them as 8×10 online she needed to crop them as if they were taken as 8.5×11. For one of them, she had to choose between taking off part of an arm or her head.

I thought I was going to be a huge favorite with the cats. I bought a water fountain and a huge fleece bed for them. They are finally getting over their fear of running water and using the fountain. The bed is used on rare occasion by one or the other of them. Next year it’s back to special food.

And now that December is finally going away –

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Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016!