6

Are Aardvarks Anteaters?

Image result for aardvark

Greetings from Les Sloth. You may have heard that Cat wants each of us to write about an animal that may be less well-known to our readers. To be perfectly honest, it seems kind of silly. How do we know what you know?

Anyway, I decided to look through an animal directory to find something with an interesting name. The first thing I came across was the aardvark. I didn’t know anything about aardvarks, so I decided to interview one. If the readership is full of aardvark specialists, I apologize for not choosing a more unique creature.

Image result for aardvark

The first thing I discovered is that they are nocturnal, which is bad. The second thing I learned is that they live in sub-Saharan Africa, which is good. Day in Costa Rica (where I live) is night in Africa. So we would both be awake, which is good.

I spoke with a very pleasant aardvark named Mel. Actually, I can’t pronounce his real name, so he said to call him Mel. The conversation started a little strangely.

Mel: Greetings from Malawi. It is very nice to speak with you.

Les: Thank you for taking the time.

Mel: I only have one ground rule. Do not ask me about Arthur or any of the other aardvark cartoons the humans have on your side of the world.

Image result for aardvark drawing

(I had no idea what he was talking about, so I agreed not to talk about them.)

Les: Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Mel: I am built sturdily. About 150 pounds, 7 feet long (including tail). I am pale gray with extremely tough skin and sparse fur. My back legs are longer than my front legs.

Image result for aardvark

Les: Wow. That’s about twice my size.

Mel: Yes, but we don’t have your extremely nice-looking fur coats.

Les: That’s very kind of you to say. Do you have a family?

Mel: We are expecting our first child in late spring. It will be an exciting time for us. Of course, it will share its mother’s burrow for the first year.

Image result for aardvark

Les: Congratulations! What types of things do you like to eat?

Mel: We mainly eat ants and termites. There is also an aardvark cucumber that is very tasty. I’m told that there is something called an avocado that is popular in the States.

Les: So you’re an anteater? We have anteaters over here. In fact, they are close relatives of sloths. Maybe we’re cousins or something.

Mel: Actually I am an ant eater. I eat ants.

Image result for aardvark

Les: Anteaters eat ants. And termites. And they look a bit like an aardvark.

Image result for anteater

Mel: That is all true. But it is a coincidence. We are the last surviving branch of a prehistoric African family tree.

Les: So you are an ant (pause) eater, not an anteater.

Mel: Exactly!

Les (disappointed): So I guess we’re not related.

Mel: That’s true. But I would like very much to keep in touch as friends. You seem very nice.

Les: Thank you! I’ve enjoyed talking with you as well. Take care of yourself. Don’t get eaten.

Image result for predatory animals

Mel: I wish you survival as well. Farewell for now.

Mel had been so nice that I am sorry we are not related. I did get his address. As soon as I’m done here, I’m going to get online with Amazon and send him some ants. I should have asked if he has a favorite type.

Image result for edible ants

(all pictures courtesy of Google Images)

0

One Last Look at the Animal Olympics

(Words in italics are translated at the bottom.)

The sloth 10-meter race was amazingly quick this year, coming in at less than five days for the first time in Olympic history. The winner, Maria Perezoso of Costa Rico, said that she credited her intensive training regime with moving vines for her victory. She also said that the climate in Rio was similar to that at home which helped her breathing.

One of the best ideas this year was to separate the gorilla gymnastics from the rest of the competition due to the weight differences. After the tragic accident in London where John Gorilla misjudged his landing and fell on the monkey team practicing on the next apparatus, there was no question that something had to be done. This year’s competition was thankfully accident-free.

The biggest upset of the year was the victory of Lin-Lin Panda in the 20-meter tree climb, beating heavily favored A. M. Biri. Mr. Biri is challenging the results. The Olympic Committee is awaiting drug-testing results before making a decision.

Once again, Russian bears won all of the wrestling medals: Igor Obez’yana – gold; Sergei Obez’yana – silver; and Petya Obez’yana – bronze. The Canadian Alan Brown Bear ended in fourth place, the best result for a non-Russian bear in the last eight years. Russian cubs are taken into training when they are four months old, which probably accounts for their dominance. Unfortunately, there is some impact on social development and these bears rarely mate.

As expected, Samuel Duma dominated the short running events. His only real competition was I.A. Duma, his training partner. Hando Paa came in third, undoubted aided by the cheetah who was close behind. Mr. Paa said that instinct took over and propelled him to his bronze medal.

The long-distance running events took an unexpected turn when Dubai entered several camels in the races. On the hot track, Abraham Jamal easily outpaced his competition. Ishmael Jamal took the silver. Alexander Kudu from the African savannah was the third-place finisher. The camels will be definite contenders going forward. The other competitors found them rather rude and almost mean.

Unfortunately most of the swimming events had to be cancelled. When the water was tested prior to the first race, the officials found a significant amount of chlorine. Suspicion immediately focused on the Russians whose Siberian tigers had been disqualified due to failed drug testing. The tigers had been heavy favorites to win several events. The other theory is that the maintenance crew had been given the human requirements by mistake.

The other animals laughed at the idea of the hippos entering a team in the water polo competition. No one is doubting now that they have won the silver medal. Their style is definitely unorthodox, using their snouts to propel the ball. Their coach, Jonas Kiboko, credited the team’s desire to prove the critics wrong for the strong showing. Unfortunately, the elephant team ended the hippos’ run. Their long trunks provided superior accuracy, and the team went on to win their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

Overall, the games were a huge success. Now the animals can relax until their human counterparts are finished and provide them with a ride home. Unfortunately, the animals lost their petition to attend the human games. Apparently the cheetah eating the capybara early in the games has led some humans to fear for their own lives. For their part, the animals are hoping that there are no hunters on the human side.

 

Spanish – sloth, Hausa – gorilla, Hausa – monkey, Russian (transliterated) – bear, Swahili – cheetah, gazelle, Arabic (transliterated) – camel, Swahili – kudu, Swahili – hippo (Translations provided by Google. The African translations are limited by the number of languages available.)

 

0

Slothly Ruminations on Human Behavior – Part Two

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.

 

 

3

Slothly Ruminations on Human Behavior

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.

3

Annual Cheeseland Staff Meeting

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).

Image result for two miceGoogle Images

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.

Google Images

(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.

Image result for sloths  Google Images

(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?

   Google Images

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

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

https://i0.wp.com/static.ddmcdn.com/gif/cockroach-close-up-660.jpg Google Images

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.

  Google Images

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.)

10

The Year of the Sloth

You can thank Barbara over at Silver in the Barn, a wonderful blog about her insights into life (and photography) for the title. She had a post around the beginning of the year about how certain items seemed to be more prevalent some years than others (https://silverinthebarn.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/minotaur-ukulele/). She also asked what we thought our year might be titled. I had been thinking about writing a sloth post, and it seemed like the perfect title.

Wandering around the blogosphere, I was reminded of the interview Kristen Bell did on The Ellen Show about three years ago showing how much she likes sloths (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5jw3T3Jy70).

That may have been the starting point for the love affair some people have developed with sloths. My daughter has certainly joined the fan club. I was amazed that I was able to find a sloth calendar at a major brick-and-mortar bookstore. There it was amongst the overwhelming number of dogs, cats, cars, sports, and spiritual calendars. (Horatio reminds me that there was also one with pictures of hedgehogs.)

If you type in “sloth” on YouTube, you will get a long list of videos about the little guys (average height 23 in/58 cm; weight 8.75 lbs/4 kg). Google says it has over 22 million results for “sloth”. Of course, we all know that Google lies. Those results include doubles, triples, etc. of the same item and any 600-page essay that includes the word. Nevertheless, this may be the year.

So why did we fall in love with an animal named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins? It moves so little and slowly that algae grows in its fur, so it looks like it has been to the salon for a green tint. Any animal that moves that little has a certain appeal to those of us always yearning for a nap. They sleep 15–20 hours/day (which sounds just fine to the cat sleeping next to me). Even awake, they are often motionless. Kind of like football fans in the fall.

Sloths are versatile as well. They come in the two-toed and three-toed variety, but have basically the same traits. They live almost their entire lives in treetops. Those long arms allow quite a bit of freedom in the trees. They have a powerful grip which may not even release in death. Sounds a bit like some people and their money.

Sloths mate and give birth while hanging in trees. I can’t imagine how birthing would work.Who would catch the baby?  Maybe they come out clinging to the mother. That’s how they spend the first nine months of their lives. (How do they know when nine months is up?)

However, I think people are attracted to them because they are almost excessively cute. How can you resist an animal that looks like it’s smiling all the time and gives great hugs? (http://www.slothsanctuary.com/meet-the-sloths/)

Plan ahead. International Sloth Day is October 20. If you want a real sloth at the party, he/she will need to start moving now. It’s a long way from Central America.

Facts courtesy of National Geographic (http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/three-toed-sloth/)

Pictures courtesy of The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica (http://www.slothsanctuary.com/)

 

 

6

Doggy Doggerel

They’re not all about dogs, but I couldn’t resist the title.

 

There once was a dog named Jerome,

Who chewed up the neighbor’s best gnome.

The neighbor was mad

Jerome was so bad,

He now chews his gnomes up in Nome.

 

An aardvark was feeling some stress,

That his love life’d become such a mess.

He’s been dating a twin,

But the trouble he’s in –

He bought the twin’s twin a new dress.

 

Gorillas love termites, you know.

The teens thought they’d put on a show.

They sat by the hill

Being ever so still

While their rivals’ envy did grow.

 

My pet armadillo named Rusty

Noticed he’d become rather musty.

He went out for some air,

Rolled in sand while out there;

Now Rusty is dusty not musty.

 

Have you been to the animal fair?

My friend the platypus took me there.

He poisoned a child,

Was sick on a ride,

Got kicked out when he pummeled that bear.

 

The sloth was so late for his date,

The girl thought she just didn’t rate.

She cried for a while.

Then with a smile,

She went out and found her true mate.

 

And now you know why I never claimed to be a poet.