13

Bats in the Belfry (and Elsewhere)

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Being just a couple of days before Halloween, we thought this would be a good time to get to know a little more about that much-maligned symbol of the dark, the bat.

Our initial plan was to interview a few at their annual Bats are Misunderstood Mammals (BAMM) convention, but some of the members were afraid that outsiders couldn’t be trusted to not give away their location. Apparently our multi-species orientation was not enough reassurance.

So we had to speak with them via Skype (no picture). Here’s what we found out:

Cheeseland: So why all the secrecy? This is your big season.

BAAM: You have got to be kidding. We hate Halloween. All it does is popularize the stereotype about bats. We are not scary animals that swoop down in the night to scare people.

 

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CL: Umm. Actually we have seen some bats come down after us.

BAAM: Sorry, our bad. Some of you guys are lizards and birds, aren’t you?

 

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(uncomfortable silence)

CL: OK, enough of that. Tell us about your good deeds.

BAAM: Well, we eat lots and lots of insects. You guys don’t have insects on staff, do you?

CL: Let’s keep moving.

BAAM (nervously): It’s mainly mosquitoes, everyone hates mosquitoes don’t they?

(silence)

BAAM: Nectar! We love nectar! We have a huge role in pollination. In fact, the majority of our species eats nectar and fruit.

 

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CL: Really? That’s very interesting. And where do you live?

BAAM (relaxing a little): Oh we live pretty much everywhere, except where it’s really cold. We like relatively enclosed spaces. Since we sleep during the day, we prefer to keep out of the sun.

CL: It seems like a lot of you can live in a small space.

BAAM: Actually, yes. Our bodies are quite small, and we wrap our wings tightly around us.

 

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CL: Does that cause any problems?

BAAM: It causes one of the huge misconceptions about bats. When it gets dark, we want to get outside to  eat. So we all try to rush through the same openings. Sometimes it looks like we’re coming out as a horde to cause trouble.

CL: And some bats probably have fly lower than others which is what looks like swooping.

 

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BAAM: Exactly!

CL: We’re out of time here. We’d like to thank you for sharing your time with us.

BAAM: Thank you for having us.

(Before the connection breaks, we hear a loud bat voice: How many times do I need to tell you? Never do an interview with one of those liberal animal groups! They always make us look bad.)

 

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(all pictures courtesy of Google Images)

9

Halloween: The Well-Dressed Cat

Editorial Comment: We at Cheeseland are not fans of cats dressing for Halloween. However, as a service to those who are, we have invited Tiffany Furreau, consultant on “The Real Cats of Beverly Hills” to show us the latest trends in cat costumes. Please do not let your humans see these pictures.

 

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Greetings from sunny Southern California! I’m Tiffi, stylist to the stars, and I’m here to show you the latest in cat fashion for that special Halloween party.

One of our very favorites is the classic Puss in Boots. You can be every lady cat’s dream date. Don’t you just love the feather in the hat?

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Want something a little more traditional? Witches are always a good look. And as you can see, it’s no longer a black-cat only costume. Party at your house? Add a bubbling cauldron and you have a sure-fire winner.

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Going as your favorite food can be a great conversation starter. The tongue is a nice touch if you’re going for the irony angle.

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Maybe a group of friends could join the fun. This lobster costume is just adorable. I would probably ditch the pot. It looks so common. Besides, you couldn’t circulate and enjoy the food and drinks.

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I think this burger costume is very chic. But I do think it rather overwhelms the poor kitty wearing it. I think it would be perfect for a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest cat. And after the party, it makes the perfect bed.

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Don’t you think these three would make an adorable selfie?

 

You’re almost certain to be a hit if you dress like a human. What better way to start the ball rolling on how silly humans are than to come as a pilgrim? And the look on this kitty’s face is perfect.

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Editors: Thank you very much Tiffi for your interesting offerings. However, we aren’t convinced. We still feel that the well-dressed cat looks best in fur at home or a party:

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13

The Truth about Black Cats and Halloween

There are many stories about black cats and Halloween. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what they really do on October 31.

They make a list and check it twice

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Gotta make sure who’s naughty and nice

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First the naughty:

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Mouse in the bed here

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Missing candy there

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Making mischief everywhere

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Then the nice:

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Watching for trouble

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Protecting the treats

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Nuzzles and snuggles that can’t be beat

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At the end of a long night

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They can be seen

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Asleep in their beds, enjoying a dream

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This post is dedicated to Tigger, my parents’ first cat. She was a beautiful, long-haired tuxedo cat who would sit very still in the back corner of the porch and watch the trick-or-treaters. Every once in a while she would move, startling the kids who thought she was a decoration.

14

Cat Forum: Halloween Safety

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Snoops: Greetings, fellow felines. Welcome to Cat Forum where we catch the news that the others drop.

Kommando: Do you like that? The marketing folks thought we needed a slogan and that’s what they came up with. It makes me think of a dog sitting under the dinner table.

Snoops: Regardless …

Kommando: Seriously, Snoops. Do you want a slogan that makes the audience think of drooly dogs?

Snoops: We can deal with that later. We have a very special guest today. She is Captain Ginger McPhurrson from the Cat Safety Patrol. She is going to be giving us some tips about Halloween Safety. Welcome Captain and thank you for being here.

Captain McPhurrson: Thank you for having me. I would like to commend you for planning ahead. So many cats think that all you need to do for Halloween is get some kibble treats and send the kittens out around the neighborhood.

Kommando: See? The other people didn’t even get a chance to drop this. It’s a dumb slogan.

Captain McPhurrson (laughing): You may have a point there, Kommando. There are three things I would like to talk about: trick or treating, catnip, and humans.

First is trick or treating. If you are planning to allow your kittens to go out this Halloween, you need to go with them. The days are gone when the fathers could take out the kids and hang out drinking spiked cream while the kittens went door to door.

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Last year, we caught a band of cats who were ransoming kittens for tuna and other goodies. A whole neighborhood bought tuna steaks to get their kittens back.

Snoops: That’s terrible. Those poor kittens!

Kommando: Those cats should be sent to a dog shelter!

Captain McPhurrson: We agree. The important thing is that no kitten should be out by themselves on Halloween. This also applies to the 1-year-olds who think they are all grown up. No parent means no trick or treating.

Snoops: That is definitely good advice. What else do you have for us?

Captain McPhurrson: I want to emphasize that Halloween is meant to be fun, but catnip needs to be used responsibly. Every year the hospitals are full of hallucinating cats.

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Snoops: Can you tell us how much is safe to use?

Captain McPhurrson: Well, that’s part of the problem. Some cats don’t seem to be affected by it at all, while others seem to be “nipped” after a few leaves. We recommend that every party have at least one or two non-nippers. That way they can watch for friends who seem to be overly frenzied.

And under no circumstances whatsoever should catnip be given to a kitten under one year old.

Snoops: You said you also wanted to talk about humans.

Captain McPhurrson: Our best advice is to avoid them as much as possible during the Halloween season. Those of you who live in cat communities should stay in your neighborhoods. Humans are all wrapped up in their own kittens and don’t watch where they’re going. Besides, human kittens are scary on Halloween. They usually dress up so they don’t look like humans.

Kommando: The really funny ones are the ones that try to look like cats.

Captain McPhurrson: They are scary looking.

You cats who keep human servants have a different issue. Some of those humans will try to get you to dress up in little costumes or use you as a prop for their party. You shouldn’t sacrifice your dignity for the humans, no matter what treats they offer. Before you know it, you will be on Instagram or Facebook and all your friends will know.

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Snoops: That is a lot of really good advice, Captain. Thank you again for being on our show.

Captain McPhurrson: I enjoyed being here. I hope you both have a happy, safe Halloween.

 

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(All other pictures courtesy of Google Images)

0

I Don’t Remember any Vacation

A few weeks ago, I realized that my work anniversary was coming up soon, and I still had vacation time left. When I started at the store three years ago, that would have meant a decision between taking the time off and getting the extra money.

However, management has changed hands. Now you either use your vacation by your anniversary date or you lose it. There was no announcement of the change in policy, but it didn’t take many people losing the money for word to get around.

Studies have shown that vacations are good for productivity. I hope that the studies were referring to work productivity. Today is the last day of my vacation, and I honestly don’t remember how I spent most of the time.

I decided to take one of those vacations where you just stay around the house and relax. My husband was working and the kids had school, so I could just hang out.

Except for the newspapers everywhere. And the 10+ magazines laying around. And taking my son to his driving test. And picking up his “new” car. (It’s a ’72 VW Beetle, and it is SO cute!) And the meeting in Detroit. And needing to do church stuff.

And hundreds of e-mails. (I love you guys, but for some reason you never seem to write fewer posts just because I’m really busy. Gotta work on my telepathy.) Don’t tell me to read everything through my Reader. I rotate who comes by email because the Reader is full of other blogs that I look at occasionally. If I promised to read everything in my Reader, I would never look at much of anything.

So here I am on Sunday evening. I read a few of the magazines. I threw away some of the papers (after reading them). You can’t tell the difference. It still looks like we’re waiting to paper the walls with newsprint.

I caught up on all the Internet news services I follow. I’d forgotten just how depressing the news can be when you actually read the full stories. I may just go back to reading the headlines and celebrity gossip.

Could someone send me a note if ISIS makes it to Ankara or Ebola wipes out an entire nation? I don’t need to know if George Clooney and his new wife get pregnant with the world’s current cutest baby ever. Remember to mark it “Urgent”. I’m not sure how long it will take for the e-mailbox to overflow again.

I finished a book. Yay!!! That only leaves about hmmmm twenty-five or so to go. That does not include the ones on Kindle since I read those on breaks at work. I got caught up on the reading for my Monday night class.

If it sounds like I spent all my time on my rear, you are wrong. I also spent a couple of naps with the cats. They were amazingly friendly once they got over the trauma of me not getting up at 2:30a to feed them.

Kommando Kitty has learned that if I’m lying on the sofa using the laptop, she only has to try sending one email before I pick her up. She has also turned on Spotify a couple of times. (She has terrible taste in music.)

I did not get the yard ready for winter. I did not look for another job. I did not do one single thing that I will be able to tell people tomorrow when they ask what I did with my time off. And it’s great.

The really scary part is that I only really have trouble with my sinuses at work. At home, I am generally tissue-free unless there’s some kind of front coming through (you Michiganders out there know what I mean). But this morning I woke up with dry eyes and a semi-runny nose. The aching in my front sinuses is there too. MY BODY KNOWS IT’S GOING BACK TO WORK TOMORROW. And it’s not happy.

I see by the ads that some of the Halloween stuff is already on sale. Anybody in the market for a taco costume for your dog? How about some orange and brown chips for cookies. (I think they’re all chocolate, but it doesn’t come out and say that.)

The Christmas toys have been clogging up the back rooms for a while. The sooner you buy the Halloween stuff, the sooner we can all start complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. Time’s a-wasting.

5

What is Your Pet Wearing This Halloween?

Our cats haven’t been invited to any Halloween parties this year. Probably because we took away their Facebook pages. They were using them to lure unsuspecting mice over for “parties”. Now we’ve “ruined their lives forever”.

(Important Note: I am obviously a cat lover. Before we go any further, I should also mention that I would never own a dog under 40 lbs and prefer them larger than that.)

Everyday at work, I walk past the pet supplies (it’s on the way to the breakroom). For the past few weeks I have been noticing the pet costumes. Valuing my blood, I have never considered putting a costume on any cat who’s owned me. It seems that in the cat world, kittens are cute and cats are elegant. And elegant does not want to dress up like a banana. I thought our assortment was rather far-ranging with animals (tigers, sharks, pigs, lions), food (hot dogs, pumpkins, bananas), and other (bees, convicts, college team jerseys). Little did I know.

I went online to see what else was available, just in case. The first thing I learned was that cat costumes are significantly different than dog costumes. Apparently I am not the only one with a fear of pushing feline feet into a clown costume. With one exception, they were all hats or things that go around the cat’s waist (do cats have waists?). I found tutus, wings, a clown ruffle and hat, a devil hood (stop the jokes dog lovers), a princess hat (obvious choice), and a cowboy hat with bandana. I did not find a cat looking amused in any of the pictures.

The same site had over 300 costumes for dogs. I think my favorite was the movie starlet: satiny dress, blonde wig, and fake boobs. It seems that it would give the dog body image issues. A couple of the others I thought were a little unusual were the watermelon fairy, the flower fairy, the woopie cushion, the mermaid, and the putter pup (tam, shirt, and pants). The cave dog was adorable. I’m not really sure how the dog picks out the costume he/she wants to wear. There must be some kind of system though: some of the dogs looked pretty happy and some looked miserable (they could have been channeling the cats, I suppose). Maybe it depends on whether “Mommy” listened to what the dog wanted or picked out something she thought was cute, but in reality the other dogs would laugh at. These costumes were all in the 415 – $45 range, but on sale at 20% off.

Another mistake I made was assuming that costumes were all for small dogs. There is also a site that caters to large dogs (shepherds and retrievers not mastiffs and newfies). I discovered that large dogs prefer to wear uniforms – police, fire, vets. There was also a devil outfit. I really liked the grrrroovy dog (looked like Jimi Hendrix) and the pop king dog (looked like Howard Stern). These dogs all looked pretty content. Guess it’s easier when no one’s trying to get you to wear tulle.

Of course I had to look at clearance. That section was almost entirely NFL-related. The dog could get sweaters, cheerleader uniforms, jerseys, and/or t-shirts. I noticed there wasn’t anything for my team, the Detroit Lions. I would like to think that it’s because there is no market, not because I am going to be seeing lots of dogs in ill-fitting clothes all over the state.

Since things are already on mark-down and clearance, it won’t be long before they start to run out of the favorites. Be sure to pick up something soon, even if it’s just for the picture on your Halloween cards (if you procrastinate like I do, you can use it for Christmas). If you wait too long you will have to use the hair dye gels and go as Nicki Minaj or Lady Gaga or go retro as a ghost in a pillow case

2

Nothing Says Last Day of Summer Like Trim-a-Tree

According to my calculations (which should be double-checked), there are 95 days until Christmas. It’s almost time to start nagging my family for suggestions, so I get them by December15th if I’m lucky. Otherwise, it’s fall to me. Our burning bushes have just begun to burn, the weather’s getting cooler, and we have less roadkill because the genetic pool of the animal world has finally been downsized to those who understand why their parents told them not to play in the road.

Not so in the retail world. A point of pride at Ralph’s is that we are always the first with new merchandise for the season. I’m not sure how it’s tallied, so I’m guessing that’s like being the most famous. Statistics can be used to prove anything, but should be limited to those who know how to use them safely. For example, last year summer got an early start. So we opened our garden center two weeks early. (I know this because it was part of a presentation later in the year.) It’s that kind of thinking makes Ralph rich. Of course, this year summer decided to visit us on it’s vacation from other spots, so we had an end-of-season sale like you wouldn’t believe.

Halloween candy has been out for weeks. Of course, everyone knows that’s just a cover for us to buy it for ourselves now and buy the “real” Halloween candy on October 30. It’s the beginning of “The Holidays” when we’re allowed to eat what we want because it’s only once a year. The Holidays used to be between Christmas and New Year’s, then we pushed the start back to Thanksgiving. Now we’re moving in on Halloween. Maybe we could do like the bears – eat everything in sight for a couple of months then sleep it off til spring. It would beat slogging around in the ice and snow. I bet I’m not the only one who wished they could lose a couple of pounds overnight.

But everything pales in comparison with Christmas. I know some of you still associate Christmas with the Nativity, but you probably still give thanks on Thanksgiving too. It was over 80 degrees and humid yesterday, but as I walked through the back end of the store on my way out, there it was… the first Trim-a-Tree box (artificial tree with its own decorations). I had been expecting something since the big toy sale a couple of weeks ago. By Monday, there will be more. Pretty soon it will be an invasion waiting for Halloween.

The small stuff will start sneaking in soon. Things like cards and ribbon. Sparklely sweaters and Santa boxers. On November 1, the big stuff will make its appearance. We’ll have trees, door decorations, fake greenery, blow-up Santas, tinsel, and all that other stuff the Whos put up in Whoville. Part-time Christmas music between Halloween and Thanksgiving then All Christmas All the Time. People will complain it’s too early, but they’ll start looking and slowly start buying. Those people who have everything up by the middle of November must have bought it somewhere.

The big sales were traditionally the day after Thanksgiving. It’s still a big day, but unless you want to stand in line and fight for the 5 HDTVs that will be available at 4a, you might as well sleep in. December has become one huge rotating sale. Best of all, the stuff that we convinced you was must-have at the beginning of November is on sale in the middle of December. By a couple of days before Christmas, almost everything has been marked down. (No, this does not give you permission to wait until December 23 to remember you have to give your wife a present without a cord.)

My advice? Eat as much Halloween candy as possible. With a little luck, you’ll hibernate until the whole thing is over.