9

Lone Hedgehog in a Cat-centric World

Greetings. It’s Horatio Hedgehog here. I want to share with you a rather unsettling experience I had recently while roaming the Internet. (Mom says this is an example of why I shouldn’t spend so much time on the computer.)

I decided to tour WordPress looking for fellow hedgehogs to befriend. It gets to be a bit boring talking to cats all the time. I figured there’d be a bunch of us. After all, we are rather cute.

Image result for hedgehogs cute

I found one, and he sounds like a pretty decent fellow. He is Hank the Hedgehog over at Living a Beautiful Life. He gets a lot more space on his blog than I do on mine, but I think he speaks well for us hedgehogs. And it appears that he doesn’t have to compete with two self-centered felines. (No offense, Snoops and Kommando Kitty, but you do love the limelight.)

  

The thing is, he was the only other hedgehog I could find. I used to know Alice, but she doesn’t blog anymore. It’s a shame; she was a real cutie. Where are the other hedgehogs? Snoops says it’s because cats rule the Internet. I told her she was crazy.

Then I looked for cats on WordPress. Good Grief! They are everywhere. Big cats, little cats, fluffy cats, sleek cats, real cats, cartoon cats, talking cats, posing cats, on and on. Why on earth are there so many cats? I live with two and they’re OK, but I wouldn’t want a herd of them.

I thought I would check the big Internet. That was really disturbing. It looks like we are pretty widespread (Europe, Asia, Africa). But some of those people think we’re a delicacy. That means they eat us!!

Can you believe that during the 1980’s Britain introduced “hedgehog-flavour” crisps (they’re like American potato chips)?  They didn’t actually contain hedgehog, but still. Have they also tried “badger-flavour”?

Image result for hedgehog flavour crisps

I went on to look for cats. I’m sure you guessed it. The place is overrun with them. On Google, my search for hedgehog brought back 76.4 million responses which I thought was a lot. But there were 2.25 billion for cats. Not a mention of food or medicine. Mom said cats had their bad days a few hundred years ago. That didn’t make me feel any better. Maybe I should start a hedgehog advocacy group.

Image result for prickle of hedgehogs

Apparently we African pygmies are the only ones who keep humans. Life for us is a lot easier. My humans give me food and water. And waxworms. Yummm. Waxworms are the best. And I think we’re the only ones who get to write blogs.

I guess cats are OK. Not everybody can be a hedgehog.

Image result for hedgehogs cute

 

Bittersweet Note: Snoops and Kommando wanted to thank Phoebe and her family at 15andmeowing for the cat-astic toys they sent (and a coloring book for Mom). Sadly Phoebe lost her battle with kidney disease this week and is no longer with us. We will miss her.

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11

Cat Forum: Interview with Alberto and the Tribe of Five

Today we welcome the extremely handsome Alberto, spokescat for the Tribe of Five. You can find him and his siblings at Feline Opines. It’s a pawsome blog. Among other things, Alberto reports on topics of interest to cats and their humans that can be found around the Internet. (Of course, he includes links so it’s really easy to follow even without thumbs.)

Could you tell us a little about each member of the Tribe of Five?
It would be my purrrleasure!   The Alpha of our Tribe is Tucker. Tucker and his sister, Jasmine are 14 years young. The humans got them from a rescue lady in California. They moved here with the humans about 10 years ago. Tucker says it was a loooong trip in the metal moving machine!  Lily was adopted from our local shelter (Panhandle Animal Shelter) four years ago and Oliver and I came to the humans as foster kittens two years ago also from the shelter. My humans are “foster failures” and Ollie and I are very happy that they are!

Tribe of Five is a great name. How did you get it?
After Oliver and I settled in, the female human looked around one day at feeding time and said, “Yikes we have a whole tribe of felines in this house!” and the rest, as they say, is history. (Plus it’s easier to refer to us as The Tribe of Five than use all five or our names!)

Do you felines ever have hissy moments?
Oh yes! Lily gets hissy when it’s time to get her nails clipped (actually “hissy” is a mild term, the humans often have to seek help from the first aid kit in the laundry room after a clipping session.)  Tucker does not appreciate anyone encroaching on his food nor does he like neighbor cats or the local raccoon staring into the room at the downstairs sliders.  Oliver and I are pretty chill but if you sneak up on us and make a loud noise, we might not hiss but I guarantee we’ll have a fuzzy tail!!!

Does it ever cause a problem that there are more kitties than humans (maybe competition for cuddle time)?
Well, it never causes a problem for the Tribe but the humans do have a few challenges. The female human was griping that there was no comfortable place for her to sit in the living room (because the male human and the Tribe occupied the sofa). She bought another sofa but that just gave us more space to spread out so now she has to squeeze between us to find a spot.  I find it quite thoughtful that she provided more comfy space for us and am a bit annoyed that she is still griping about seating.

How do each of you like to spend time with your human?
Tucker loves to be brushed, his favorite thing is sitting on a stool watching the female human prepare dinner (sometimes there’s a little treat forthcoming and Tucker is ever hopeful). . Jasmine, is still trying to transition back into the full household after going through a bullying experience (it was a very sad time for the humans, you can read about it here    https://felineopines.net/2016/07/26/amelias-story-part-1-2/  ) so for Jasmine cuddling with the humans at night is her favorite “me” time. Lily enjoys relaxing on the upstairs deck with the humans, sniffing the air and watching the birds at the feeder. I like walks with the female human. As soon as she puts my harness on me I know we’re going for a stroll and I love it. Oliver enjoys helping the male human play his guitar or assisting the female human as the house cleaning snoopervisor, watching her work and chasing the mop (he doesn’t like to hang around the vacuum monster though).

You Wander the Web every Wednesday. How do you find such interesting stories every week?
My goal is to find the most fabulous, undiscovered  feline stories on the web. I make sure my purrrsonal assistant searches daily and looks for things that we haven’t seen several times already. My favorite stories are about adventure cats and cats with jobs.

You had mentioned that your human was going to start taking you kayaking. Has it happened? What’s it like?
The female human loves kayaking and when she was at BlogPaws she met other humans who took their cats paddle boarding and kayaking. She decided she’d see how I’d take to it (I’m the chillest feline in the Tribe). It’s been a long process. We went through a few life jackets (none of which fit well as I managed to wiggle out of all of them). Until she finds the purrrfect life vest she won’t take me out on the water but we are planning a stroll to a quiet spot by the water so I can dip my paws in and get used to it in the meantime.

You seem to do a lot of the communicating for the Tribe. How did you get the role of spokescat?
The female human is a fiction writer and she says she likes to write in a character’s “voice”, She says we’re all characters and that I seem to have the loudest and most persistent voice and often, the most to say.  The rest of the Tribe do chime in now and then with their own purrrrticular points of view.

Does the Tribe get regular outdoor time or do you rely mainly on cat TV?
We are primarily indoor kitties due to the fact that we are surrounded by woods where all manner of critters live and also due to the fact that Tucker (whose cross eyes cause him a bit of visual difficulty) fell off the railing of the upstairs deck (twice) into the forest ravine below.  We now have a cool pop up net tent that fits all five of us and the humans can set it up for us on the upstairs deck, the front porch and the downstairs patio. It’s pretty cool! We have lots of big windows in the house and squirrel, bird, butterfly watching is very comfy on the wide window ledges.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Some folks have asked how I got the name Alberto. Actually my full name is Alberto Contador. The male human is a crazy bike racing fan and he said I was a mean fast feline machine and felt that he would honor a racer he admired. Sadly Alberto isn’t doing so hot on the tour this year and retirement might be imminent. I appreciated this opportunity to talk to the Cheeseland folks and want to say to Snoops and Kommando Kitty, “Keep on blogging!” The world needs to hear more from felines!

Purrs & Head Bonks
Alberto

3

Love/Hate

Suburban Hobo (http://suburbanhobo.com/) tagged me for the Love/Hate challenge. The rules are below.

  1. List 10 things you love.
  2. List 10 things you hate.
  3. Tag other people to take the challenge.

Love ❤

  1. Cool summer nights so I don’t wake up in the morning tired and sticky (no AC).
  2. Watching fireflies. We’ve had quite a few this year.
  3. Lying in the grass watching the clouds.
  4. Having the cats come up and nuzzle me.
  5. Watching the hedgehog eat worms. He’s amazingly fast. It’s a little scary seeing how quickly he scarfs, chews and licks his lips. (Do hedgehogs have lips?)
  6. Customers who appreciate my help.
  7. Thrift stores – never know what I might find there.
  8. My “dumb” phone. All it does is call and send/receive texts. I have no ability to stay connected 24/7, and I am really happy about it.
  9. Doctors who actually listen to what I say. I’ve started to see two holistic mental health professionals, and they are wonderful!
  10. Clear nights where I can see the stars and moon. Even if I see them when I get up for work.

Hate (more intensely dislike, except #10)

  1. Not being able to go into a bookstore and browse the shelves. I didn’t like it when Border’s and friends forced the small booksellers to close. I really don’t like that even those behemoths are being forced out by Amazon, et al.
  2. Getting the worms out for the hedgehog. My husband usually does it but he’s out of town. They come in wood chips that are about the same color. I can only tell that I have a worm because it’s cooler than the wood.
  3. People who are constantly connected to technology and still don’t have a clue about what’s going on in the world.
  4. The amount of roadkill I see on the local roads.
  5. Road construction on every major road around here.
  6. People who say they will do something and then don’t do it with no explanation.
  7. People who let their children run amok in public.
  8. Cleaning the litterboxes. The cats supervise and immediately test out the clean litter.
  9. Customers who get nasty because we are out of some product. It’s nothing personal, really.
  10. The Internet being so tone-deaf. I don’t like always needing to use smiley faces to show that I’m trying to funny, not being a jerk. L

Below are the blogs I tagged. I was a little confused about this part. I’ve seen people list from zero to ten people. If you choose to accept the challenge, feel free to distribute your largesse in any way you choose. If you do not choose to accept the challenge, please ignore the previous sentence. J

Purr and Roar (http://purrandroar.com/)

A Dog Called Storm (https://dogcalledstorm.wordpress.com/)

Creekview Carol (http://creekviewcarol.com/)

Mother Hen Diaries (http://motherhendiaries.com/)

PrairieChat (http://prairiechat.com/)

Robynchristi (https://robynchristi.wordpress.com/)

The Divine Peach (https://thedivinepeach.wordpress.com/)

The Weekly Cheese (https://theweeklycheeseblog.wordpress.com/)

 

 

2

Critter Capers: Horatio Takes on the Internet

Hello Humans. Nice to talk with you again. I’ve been watching Mom on her computer and decided that I need to set the record straight on some of what she was looking at on “social media”.  I’m going to start with pictures. I don’t want to get into some of things I’ve seen on Facebook and YouTube. Let’s just say that some people have no common sense filters when it comes to their animals.

Before I start, I must say that I really don’t understand why it is called social media. When hedgehogs are social, there is more than one of us present and we communicate face to face. As far as I can tell, humans are social one at a time and do it over a long period of time. And they don’t actually know who they are talking to.

Anyway, here we go. (Pictures are from Imgur.)

Seriously?! You’re probably looking at this and saying, “awwwww,” aren’t you? Do you know how humiliating it is to be objectified as food?  Ladies, would you want to be called “cupcake”?

Of course, there are worse things that can happen:

Is that not the cheapest suit you have ever seen? What makes humans think they can put their hedgehog in something they would never be caught dead in? (It’s a joke: that hedgehog is supposed to be dressed up like Dracula.)

Remember when you were little and your Mom took pictures of you in the bathtub? Then she threatened to show them to your girlfriends/boyfriends? How would you like this?

Now the entire world knows you still like bubble baths. Totally humiliating. And it perpetuates that fallacy that we all love water. As far as I’m concerned, water is for drinking.

I won’t even discuss this one. The human probably had it in his/her mouth before they took the picture. Ewwwwww.

I thought I’d include one picture I like. This is me with a new favorite food.

Horatio_cookie

Yep. It’s a chocolate cookie. Mom says it’s genetic since everyone else likes chocolate. I just can’t eat too much. I discovered I like peanut butter too. Human food is OK, but it’ll never replace wax worms. You really should try them.

I’m going to try to convince Mom not to spend anymore time looking at embarrassing hedgehog pictures. They even have ones with the private parts all exposed. I might have shown one of those but I was too embarrassed.

I would also like to request that all of you not post pictures of your animal friends that you would not post of yourself.

On second thought, maybe I should just take your cameras away.

One final question:

Why do humans think this picture is funny?

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.

3

Electrification in the 21st Century

 

 

I may have shared this reference with you before. (I’m not sure how much of a reference it is since I can’t remember who wrote it). If you do remember it, you’ll agree with me that this is a much better place to use it. So please forget its previous location.

In the early 1920’s, Soviet Russia realized that in order to truly modernize the country, it would need electricity in more than the major cities. So they decided it was time to electrify the villages. Note to non-Russian Studies/History majors: Soviet Russia is what they called it before the leaders decided that “Soviet Union” was a much better name for them and the countries the Imperialists had overrun and they decided to keep.

Anyway, the officials were very proud of this program and would send representatives out to remind the people how much better off they were now than they had been under the Tsars. In one village, they approached an elderly lady and asked her how she liked the new lights. She was not happy. Before she had lights, she thought her home was clean. Now she could see into the corners and realized what a mess she had been living in and how much work she had to do the keep it clean.

So at best, electricity is a mixed blessing. I am writing this on Saturday morning as I sit here without any power. They left a message on the answering machine that it would be out from 10a – noon. I guess they chose a time that would be maximally inconvenient for all of us because GM has a facility on the power grid and they have more money than we do and are pretty much closed down on weekends.

You may recall that I’m not very technologically advanced. I’m sure it’s not an answering machine anymore. It’s on the land line. It’s certainly not advanced enough to be voice mail. It is a huge advancement over the ones we used to have with tape that ate half of the messages. Advanced in the sense of the 1990’s.

Luckily I got downstairs to hear the message at 9:57 because they did turn off the power at 10a sharp. And once the electricity was gone, so was the machine.

Of course, I can type this because my laptop has battery back-up. More productively, I could be spending my time reading or cleaning. Or getting the flower beds ready for winter. Or watching the clouds.

On the other hand, I can’t make the chocolate chips cookies that were on the agenda. Our router is electric, so I can’t access the Internet. I can’t email people. And I can’t call them because the names are on an email I can’t get to right now.

We’re on a well with an electric pump. That means no water in the house. Including the toilet. Probably the only time that I look back at the outhouse at my grandparents’ cottage with fondness is when we have no power.

The cell phones work. Until they need to be recharged. Same with the laptop, tablets, e-readers, and all the other toys. Obviously, the TV is not an option. We have an electric garage door opener. I have had no luck getting in the side door of the garage since we moved in years ago. Even if I could get in, I couldn’t get the car out.

We rarely lose our power here. It’s a good thing too. With the population density of our neighborhood, the power company usually slots our restoration somewhere between parking structures and cemeteries.

We lost our power last Saturday too. That one was unplanned. A major storm swept through the area on Thursday, and thousands of people were still waiting for their power. We were fine after the storm. Ours had no apparent cause. Except my husband had finally bought a new HDTV for football season.

It was in the evening, so it was getting dark. We used a bunch of candles. It was actually very nice and peaceful. As soon as the power came back the TV was on, my husband switching between multiple games. None of which were going the way he wanted.

It made me wonder – can the power be routed so the well works but the TV doesn’t?

0

Peace in Our Time**

**A reference to World War One. Remember: I told you that one of the hazards of reading this blog was the possibility of learning something.

I wanted to remind you that this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI. (Yes, we count the part before the U.S. entered.) Those of you with school-age children may want to be prepared for macaroni U-boats. I can also see a debate on the futility of trench warfare vs congressional debate. Maybe Congress could debate the futility of trench warfare. Would they see the irony?

Back to reality.This this post could have been subtitled “Technology Strikes Back Part, Part 2: Going Global.” Last week we lost all electronic connectivity.

That’s right. No Internet. No TV. No land-based telephone. If we wanted news, we had to read it. Which would have been a lot easier if the Internet had not caused the papers to either shut down or only print a few days a week.

As you may recall, I am not a huge user/lover of technology. When my husband came upstairs on Friday to tell me that Comcast was out, I don’t think I showed the proper level of distress. That really shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. I’m the only one in the family who could have been home from work for three hours without noticing it.

My reaction was more along the lines of a sigh of relief. No Judge Judy (a family member’s secret addiction). No shouts of triumph at 2a because someone’s team had finally breached the wall and was attacking their arch-nemesis. No pieces of candy, marbles, flying pigs or whatever mesmerizing for hours. No more hour-by-hour updates of someone’s family (not mine) reunion.

Best of all, no solicitation calls at dinner-time. Admittedly we eat early (about 4p), but the timing is amazing. I’m told that non-profits were not impacted by the No Call rule. There seems to be some sort of team-tag going on. I will just get rid of one, when another one finds our number. Considering that it usually takes 3-4 repetitions of “I’ve told you not to call x times” before it gets through, I’m thinking that maybe my own pre-recorded response is the answer.

I probably could have been a little more sympathetic. My husband does use home email for work since the email at work is down for upgrade. I figure if they can use the excuse that their email server is down, so can he. He’s worried about a breakdown in communication. As if anything has been able to fix that problem since the beginning of time.

My son’s friends took pity on him and invited him to the modern equivalent of socializing: sitting in the same room and each person facing a screen instead of the other people. I had heard about it, but the first time it happened in our house it was a little unnerving. Back in the dark ages, if two or more people were in the same room and not talking they were either fighting or bored. Unless it was mixed male and female.

My daughter turned to cleaning her room. It was wonderful. She’s been promising to do it for some time. She’s going away to college in the fall. It’s going to be really nice to be able to leave the door open and not worry about losing the cats.

In a way, the timing was a little unfortunate. Edgar (my computer) and I had finally come to a meeting of the minds (so to speak). I realized what a sensitive personality he really is. And he realized that I could permanently disconnect his power source. We can generally get through an entire session without angst. It probably helps that my son taught me how to move around the screen rather than having the screen move around on me.

Nevertheless, I probably suffered disproportionately little. Even one of the cats was put out. She spends a lot of time with my husband while’s he’s on the computer. In his lap, not the keyboard (she’s a little non-technical too). No computer, no sitting, no warm-blooded furniture.

I guess we’ve all become creatures of the 21st century.

Update: It is now Wednesday afternoon (5.5 days later) and the connectivity has finally been restored (they did something in the backyard.) Maybe Comcast is right – their customer service couldn’t possibly be any worse after a merger with TimeWarner.