15

Felines and Friends Academy Elections

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Bella Bear: I am so mad!

Daphne Bear: What’s wrong?

Bella: Those stupid cats think they run everything.

Daphne: Anything in particular? Or is this just a generalized rant?

Bella: The Student Council has decided that the end-of-the year trip should be to the State Park.

Daphne: What’s wrong with that?

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Bella: Nothing, I guess. But the games are all about running, and jumping, and catching mice.

Daphne: They won’t care if we don’t participate.

Bella: I know. But what about the rest of us? The squirrels don’t want to chase mice. They’re cousins or something. In fact, we used to have mice in school. Until the cats made too many jokes about lunchtime.

Daphne: That was in extremely poor taste.

Bella: And what about the other animals? Sheep don’t chase mice, and neither do goats. It’s ridiculous.

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Daphne: All right. What are you going to do about it?

Bella: What do you mean? They’re in charge. What they say, goes.

Daphne: Have you told them how you feel? Do you have better ideas for the games?

Bella thought for a few minutes.

Bella: I guess I don’t. It’s hard to think of things that everyone can do. But they should think of some things that don’t only appeal to cats.

Daphne: If you’re that upset, you should talk to them. They seem like nice kitties.

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Bella: I don’t know. They intimidate me.

Daphne (laughing): Seriously? You’re, like, 10 times as big as they are.

Bella: But they always hang around in a group. It’s like they’re in a gang.

Daphne: You’re being ridiculous. They won’t hurt you. They’re kitties, not ogres.

Bella (sighing): I guess you’re right.

Bella got up her nerve and went to see the cats on the Student Council. The leader was Cherie, a beautiful Maine Coon.

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Cherie: Hi Bella. What’s up?

Bella: I was wondering if we could talk about the picnic?

Cherie: Of course.

Bella: It’s just that the games all seem to be cat-centric. The rest of us won’t have anything to do. It happens a lot around here. We can study cat dialects, but there aren’t any classes to learn bear or anything else. And most of the music classes are cat music. We need more diversity.

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Cherie: I understand what you’re saying, Bella. But this school was started by cats, for cats. There are a lot more cats. We don’t intentionally leave you out. But we don’t know anything about bears, or most other animals.

Bella: Almost every animal in student government is a cat. And all of the leadership.

Cherie: That’s not our fault. The only animals that ran for offices were cats.

Bella: Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that.

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Jasmine Calico: If you’re so interested in changing things, you should run for office. The elections for next year are coming up.

Bella: Oh, no. I couldn’t do that.

Jasmine: Then you can’t complain about what we do. We work hard to do what we think is best for the students. If you don’t think we’re doing a good job, then try to change things. You won’t get anywhere just by complaining.

The other cats nodded in agreement. None of them looked angry or intimidating. In fact, they looked like they thought they were giving her good advice. Bella thanked them and left.

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Bella: I am so frustrated. Those cats are so arrogant!

Daphne: What now?

Bella: Would you believe that they said the whole thing is my fault?

Daphne: Really? Why would they say that?

Bella: They said that if I wanted to change things, I should run for office.

Daphne: So they won’t change the games?

Bella: I forgot to ask them about that.

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Daphne: What did you talk about?

Bella: I told them that the school is too cat-centric, and that some of the other animals needed to be considered when important decisions are made.

Daphne: That sounds reasonable.

Bella: I thought so. But then they told me that they’re cats, and they think like cats. If I wanted things to change, I needed to get involved.

Daphne: Were they mean about it?

Bella: No. But they’re in charge, they need to change things.

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Daphne: They told you they think like cats. If you want them to think like bears, or sheep, or whatever, you need to teach them. We don’t think like cats.

Bella: I guess. But I can’t run. No one will vote for me.

Daphne: Why not? You’re passionate about it.

Bella: I don’t know what to say.

Daphne: You’ll think of something. Do you want things to change or not?

Bella: I need to think about it.

Next week: Will Bella have enough confidence to run for office?

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

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8

Love is a Fresh Fish

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(Photos – and anything that resembles actual bear behavior – come from Wayne at Welcome to Tofino Photography.

Mama Bear had decided that after three years it was time for her two sons, Ben and Eddie, to move out on their own.

Ben: Mama, why are you kicking us out?

Mama: It’s time for both to find girls and settle down. I want grand-cubs before I’m too old to play with them.

(Ben walks away)

Eddie: What’s going on?

Ben: Mama want us to go and have cubs.

(Eddie blushes under his fur.)

Eddie: How are we going to do that?

Ben: With girls, stupid

Eddie: I know that. But how do I find a girl?

Ben: What do you mean? I’ve seen the way you look at Mary Sue. Just talk to her.

Eddie: I can’t do that.

Ben: Why not?

Eddie: I wouldn’t know what to say.

Ben: You could try “Hello”.

(Just then Mary Sue walked by with her mother. She looked at Eddie and smiled.)

Ben: See? She likes you.

Eddie: Isn’t she beautiful? That velvety nose, thick fur, white teeth.

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(He pauses.)

Ben: Just go talk to her.

(Eddie finally gets up the nerve to run after her when he sees Joe, Casanova of beardom, start talking to her.)

Eddie: I can’t. Joe’s talking to her and all the girls love Joe.

(All of a sudden, they hear a loud “whap”.)

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Ben (snickering): Well, Mary Sue sure doesn’t love him. Quit being stupid; You won’t know anything unless you talk to her.

(They’re walking along the riverbank and decide they might as well have lunch. After enjoying a nice fresh salmon, they continue on their way. They see two cubs fighting over a dead salmon.)

Ben: I know! You could give her a present.

Eddie: I’m not going to give her a dead fish.

Eddie: I don’t know. What if she doesn’t like it?

Ben: It’s food Eddie. She’s a bear. Bears love food.

Eddie: That’s true. Let me think about it.

(Ben shakes his head. Eddie thinks about how much he likes Mary Sue.)

Eddie: OK. I’ll do it.

(Eddie walks over close to Mary Sue. The water is falling over the rocks and it looks like a good place for fish. He gets into the water, slipping a little on the mossy rock. He easily catches a big fish and takes it out of the water, walking to Mary Sue. He drops it at her feet.)

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Mary Sue: Eddie, is that for me?

Eddie (embarrassed): I hope you like fish.

Mary Sue: I love it!

(She gobbles it down and smiles at him.)

Mary Sue: That was very sweet of you Eddie.

Eddie: Thank you.

(He hesitates a little.)

Eddie: Would you like to go to the picnic with me tomorrow?

Mary Sue: I’d love too.

(The next morning, Eddie meets Mary Sue on the beach. They walk together to the clearing in the woods where some other bears have already gathered. They snack on berries and talk. Eddie seems very nervous. Finally, he speaks.)

Eddie: Mary Sue, I’d like to ask you a question.

Mary Sue: You look so serious Eddie. What’s the question?

Eddie: Would you dance with me? (Rough human translation: Will you marry me?)

Mary Sue: Ohhh. I’d love to.

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(They get up and do their mating dance. When they are done, they walk off into the woods. Eddie is taking her to the den he has spent all night preparing in case she said yes. Back at the picnic Mama Bear is thrilled. She goes looking for Ben who has slipped away into the woods.)

Be sure to check out Tofino Photography. It has a lot more than bears. But we like the bears.

0

Calliope, Calliope, Wherefore Art Thou?

A few years ago, I realized that I had not seen a calliope in a very long time. In fact, my kids don’t even know what it is. How can it be that hundreds of thousands of Americans don’t know what a calliope is? Next thing I know, someone will say they don’t know what a harpsichord does.

When I was little, my dad worked for a large company that had an annual picnic at a nearby lake. It was a big deal – games, food, beer tent (Dad’s favorite). And a calliope.

I looked up the definition of calliope. It is a musical instrument that produces sound by sending steam or compressed air through large whistles. It also said that calliopes are very loud; some small ones are audible for miles. There is no way to vary tone or loudness. The only variables are the timing and duration of the notes. Don’t see any popularity issues there. Sounds like a lot of the kids who come through the store.

Calliopes must be tuned often to create quality sound (probably an oxymoron). The pitch is affected by the temperature of the steam, so tuning is almost worthless anyway. They decided to just tell people that those off-pitch notes were just a part of the instrument’s charms. It’s a good thing that rationalization has never caught on for singing.

Interesting note: The calliope was patented by Joshua Stoddard on October 9, 1855. (Start planning your anniversary celebrations now!) He planned for it to replace the bells at church. I don’t know what type of church Mr. Stoddard attended, but I can’t imagine waking up to the sound of a calliope playing two miles away. Or listening to it chime every hour. I’m thinking the people would have sent Joshua from his home in Worcester, MA, to somewhere on the open prairie.

Apparently a calliope can either be played by hand or mechanically. I read that calliopes began using music rolls starting in the 1900’s. The ones I saw always had human players. I wonder if the musicians were just pretending to play. How disillusioning.

The real reason for the demise of the calliope seems to have been the replacement of steam power by things that didn’t get into our lungs and try to kill us. No steam, nothing to drive the music. I think it was a conspiracy by the same people who don’t want Harleys driving through their subdivisions at 3a.

The only calliope-maker in the world right now lives in Peru, Indiana. So it appears that the instrument will not be making a comeback any time soon. It’s probably just as well. Who needs another type of loud discordant music floating around?