Ghosts, Goblins & Witches ‘Round the Globe … Redux

This was my Hallowe’en post back in 2016 … little did I know then just how scary things were about to get!  I’ve added a few pictures since the original version, and I hope you’ll enjoy seeing some traditions from other countries and cultures!   

 

halloween-3Here in the U.S., our Hallowe’en traditions hail back to Ireland, which is widely considered to be where Hallowe’en originated.  The Irish celebrate much as we do here, with children dressing up to go trick-or-treating for candy, parties with games such as bobbing for apples, bonfires, etc.  A traditional food eaten on Hallowe’en is barnbrack, a kind of fruitcake that can be bought in stores or baked at home. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way.halloween-2

So, let us take a look at what they do in some other countries around the globe:


Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead):

dia-1In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, All Souls’ Day, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Hallowe’en. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased’s favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast.

dia-2Día de los Muertos festivities often feature breads, candies and other foods in the shape of skulls and skeletons. Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find their way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.mariachi


Guy Fawkes Day

guy-1On the evening of November 5, bonfires are lit throughout England. Effigies are burned and fireworks are set off. Although it falls around the same time and has some similar traditions, this celebration has little to do with Hallowe’en or the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The English, for the most part, stopped celebrating Hallowe’en as Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation began to spread. As followers of the new religion did not believe in saints, they had no reason to celebrate the eve of All Saints’ Day. However, a new autumn ritual did emerge. Guy Fawkes Day festivities were designed to commemorate the execution of a notorious English traitor, Guy Fawkes.

guy-2On November 5, 1606, Fawkes was executed after being convicted of attempting to blow up England’s parliament building. Fawkes was a member of a Catholic group who wanted to remove the Protestant King James from power. The original Guy Fawkes Day was celebrated right after his execution. The first bonfires, which were called “bone fires,” were set up to burn effigies and symbolic “bones” of the Catholic pope. It was not until two centuries later that effigies of the pope were replaced with those of Guy Fawkes. In addition to making effigies to be burned in the fires, children in some parts of England also walk the streets carrying an effigy or “guy” and ask for “a penny for the guy,” although they keep the money for themselves. This is as close to the American practice of “trick-or-treating” as can be found in England today. Guy Fawkes Day was even celebrated by the pilgrims at the first settlement at Plymouth. However, as the young nation began to develop its own history, Guy Fawkes was celebrated less frequently and eventually died out.


Teng Chieh

teng-1In China, the Hallowe’en festival is known as Teng Chieh. Food and water are placed in front of photographs of family members who have departed while bonfires and lanterns are lit in order to light the paths of the spirits as they travel the earth on Halloween night. Worshipers in Buddhist temples fashion “boats of the law” from paper, some of which are very large, which are then burned in the evening hours. The purpose of this custom is twofold: as a remembrance of the dead and in order to free the spirits of the “pretas” in order that they might ascend to heaven. “Pretas” are the spirits of those who died as a result of an accident or drowning and whose bodies were consequently never buried. The presence of “pretas” among the living is thought by the Chinese to be dangerous. Under the guidance of Buddhist temples, societies are formed to carry out ceremonies for the “pretas,” which includes the lighting of lanterns. Monks are invited to recite sacred verses and offerings of fruit are presented.


Yue Lan

yueThe Halloween celebration in Hong Kong is known as “Yue Lan” (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) and is a time when it is believed that spirits roam the world for twenty-four hours. Some people burn pictures of fruit or money at this time, believing these images would reach the spirit world and bring comfort to the ghosts. Fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.


austriaAustria: Austria has a Pumpkin Festival in Retzer Land called Kürbisfest im Retzer Land. On November 11, Austria celebrates Martini which includes costumes and a lantern procession. Some people in Austria believe that if they leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp out, dead souls will be welcomed back to earth for that night.


Belgium: In Belgium some villages celebrate Hallowe’en while other villages focus on celebrating All Saints’ Day. On Hallowe’en night, a Belgian may be found lighting a candle in memory of a dead relative.

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Germany: Hallowe’en auf Deutsch became popular in the 1990s. People start to decorate around mid-October and use Hallowe’en as a party theme. On November 11, Germans celebrate Matinstag which includes costumes and a lantern procession.

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Sweden: In Sweden, Hallowe’en is known as “Alla Helgons Dag” and is celebrated from October 31 until November 6. As with many other holidays, “Alla Helgons Dag” has an eve which is either celebrated or becomes a shortened working day. The Friday prior to All Saint’s Day is a short day for universities while school-age children are given a day of vacation.


HalloweenWell, that is all I could come up with for today.  I will likely do another Hallowe’en post sometime between now and Hallowe’en.  Those readers who live outside the U.S., please feel free to share traditions and celebrations in your country by leaving a comment.  Thanks to all for giving me this opportunity to take a brief break from you-know-who!  I can breathe again!  Have a safe and fun Hallowe’en!

Maxine-halloween

‘Toons To Brighten Your Day … Or Not

It is a dreary, dark, rainy day here today, and I thought a few cartoons might brighten the day, lighten the mood.


The big story of the day … every day for the past month or so, and for the foreseeable future … is that of the impeachment inquiries taking place in the House of Representatives, and the response by Trump and the republicans …

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Ol’ Mick Mulvaney has been in the news a lot lately, since he did that “open mouth, insert foot” trick, and then tried unsuccessfully to remove his foot from his mouth …

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Corruption runs rampant in Washington these days, from the “president” down through his rank of minions, and among some in Congress who feel compelled to defend Trump’s speech and actions, though for the most part there is no defense.

corruptioncorruption-2Emoluments clauseTom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191023.tifcorruption-5corruption-6


You all remember last week when Trump was giving a speech and he claimed that he’s building a wall … in Colorado!

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Trump’s treatment of our Kurdish allies will not be forgotten any time soon.  Pulling our troops out of Syria, leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Erdoğan’s brutal attacks, was beyond unconscionable, and has shown our allies around the globe that the U.S. can no longer be trusted.

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The GOP once stood for “Grand Old Party”.  Those days are long gone, and for the past ten years or so, it has stood for only the wealthiest in the nation, willing to abandon the rest of us.  Still, I think they bit off more than they could chew when they nominated and later elected Donald Trump to the presidency, and they are now struggling to figure out how to support him, how to defend the indefensible.

GOPGOP-2Nick Anderson cartoon

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And last, but not least, since tomorrow is Hallowe’en …

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Have a safe and fun Hallowe’en!

Howly Jolly Monday!

Good Monday-before-Hallowe’en morning, my friends!  Not only is this the Monday before Hallowe’en, but it is also the last Monday in the U.S. before the end of Daylight Savings Time (DST), and this time next week, darkness will fall even earlier.  On the other side of the pond, the time changed this past weekend.  You know what this all means, right?  Winter is coming.  Snow.  Shoveling.  Slippery roads.  Sweaters. Socks.  Shoes.  Sigh.  Hey … I just realized … everything to do with winter starts with the letter ‘S’.  Yes, yes, my mind does work in odd ways, but we all knew that.  Anyway, to start this week out right, let’s have a little snack, a warm drink, and see about finding something to bring a smile to our faces on this cold, dark winter morn … (Sorry guys … no bacon today … I ran out!)

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halloween-donuts                        milk


Teeny tiny rats driving teeny tiny cars

Scientists at University of Richmond in Virginia have taught rats how to drive!  Now, the scientists claim this research is going to help them better understand human anxiety and depression … I’m not sure what the connection is, but the rats driving their little specially-made cars are too adorable!

mouseThey claim it proves that little rat brains are much more capable of performing complicated tasks than previously realized.  The scientists also claim that driving appeared to reduce the rats’ stress … hmmmm … quite the opposite effect than it has on humans.  But then again, the rats weren’t driving on the Interstate highway with 10,000 other rats trying to get ahead of everyone else!

Take a look …


Parking sticker shock …

A week or so ago, we had the occasion to go into the city.  Now, I avoid going into the city like the plague … for one thing, I almost always get lost downtown, and for another, I just don’t like crowds and tall buildings, much prefer trees and wide open spaces.  But, in this case, it was something that needed to be done for a friend, so we braved it.  We were parked in one of the many underground parking garages for less than three hours, and when we left, I got the shock of my life … $14!  Not only that, but to get out, you couldn’t pay cash, but had to use a credit or debit card!  Luckily, daughter Chris had hers handy!  But, if you think that was bad …

Johnny Cheung Shun-yee owned a parking space in front of the 73-story office tower The Center, in Hong Kong.  Take a wild guess what someone was willing to pay for the spot, one of only 40 in front of the building?  Nope … nope, more than that.  The equivalent of $969,000 USD!!!  That’s almost one million dollars for a bloomin’ parking space!  Turns out, it is also more than three times the average home price in Hong Kong!  And we thought the cost of living here was high! Hong-Kong-parking


‘Tis the season … for zombies???

In Key West, Florida, they hold an annual ZombieFest Street Party this time of year.  Some 11,000 zombies are expected to show up, riding bicycles down Duval Street, joined by a smattering of other creatures such as skeletons, evil clowns, witches and the like.

Hmmm … I know a few people who would fit in well there!


Now THAT’s scary!

We’ve all been, at one time or another, in those Hallowe’en haunted houses, right?  Personally, I don’t care much for them, for there is always something that reaches out and touches you in the eerie darkness, and I’m trying hard not to die of heart failure just yet.  But, there is a haunted house in Summertown, Tennessee, that must really be the haunted house to top all others!

Just to give you an idea, in order to even enter McKamey Manor, one must first complete a sports physical, sign a 40-page waiver, pass a drug test, provide proof of medical insurance, and prove they are at least 21 years old.  If you meet all those criteria, you must then watch a 2-hour video called And Then There Were None, which features footage of every visitor from July 2017 and August 2019 quitting before the end of the experience. Visitors leave by uttering the code phrase, “You really don’t want to do this.”

The owner of the house, Russ McKamey, says admission is cheap … a bag of dog food to help feed his five dogs, and the prize for finishing?  A cool $20,000.  Thing is, nobody has ever finished!  McKamey claims that the key to inspiring terror is a “mind game” that relies on hypnotism to have visitors tricked by their own minds. He said each experience is video recorded to prove to visitors — and authorities — that nothing illegal took place.

“When I use the hypnosis I can put you in a kitty pool with a couple inches of water and tell you there’s a great white shark in there, and you’re gonna think there’s a shark in there. And so, when you have that kind of power over people, and have them do and see things that you want them to see, then they can leave here thinking it really happened, and they’ll go to the authorities and say, ‘oh, whatever,’ and I have to come back and show the footage and say, ‘it didn’t go that way at all.”

Um … I don’t know about you guys, but I won’t be heading to Summertown, Tennessee, any time soon!


Let’s wrap up with some ‘toons …

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And a few funny signs …

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And, what would Jolly Monday be without a cute animal video?


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That’s a wrap, folks, for we all have things we need to be doing.  Please, please, remember to share those gorgeous smiles you’re wearing … I know from my own experience how much it can help sometimes just to have someone smile and say “Hey … how ya doin’?”  Keep safe and have a great week!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Jolly Funday Monday!

Good Monday morning, friends!  I hope you all had a fun and/or relaxing weekend.  Mine?  Oh, nothing much … you know, hiked up Mount Everest, paddled down the Amazon … just the same ol’, same ol’.  Okay, okay … I did next to nothing!  The girls and I did our usual lunch/bookstore trip on Saturday … I took a break from my blog on Saturday, by the way!  A whole day without writing a single post!  That’s the first time since sometime late 2018, I believe!  But, now begins another week, and I’m trying to psych myself into getting back into my household chores routine, because for the past several weeks I have seriously lacked motivation to do more than the absolute essentials.

Anyway, enough of that … there are treats on the table … I have no idea what, since I let Jolly prepare the table, though I baked the treats (you remember how Jolly is in the kitchen!)  So, grab a bite and let’s start this week off with some fun!

 

 

 

 

Note to rawgod:  Note that all three plates of bacon are uniquely different.  Take whichever you wish, but take only one, please, for the others are for Emily and Larry!


When you go fishing, you expect to catch … er … fish, right?  Sure, you might get a surprise by catching a mollusk of some sort, or these days you might well pull up a net full of plastic bottles ‘n such.  But what you really do not ever expect to catch is a …bobcat.pngThat’s right … a bobcat!

Bob Hereford was out fishing on Flathead Lake in Montana, with his wife, son Brett, and the family pooch, when they heard something thrashing around in the water.  Bob very carefully steered the boat in the direction of the splashing for a closer look, and there he was, struggling to stay afloat, the little bobcat.  Son Brett gently scooped him up in their fishing net, and they drove the bobcat back to shore, releasing him on dry land.Brett-bobcatExperts say that while bobcats can swim, they typically avoid bodies of water, and they speculate that it is possible an eagle had picked up the bobcat and dropped him over the water.  Either way, all’s well that ends well, and this fish story had a happy ending!


It’s no secret that cats like to get ‘in’ things.  Leave a cardboard box lying around … before you can turn around, there’s a cat in it … well, if you have cats, that is.  When Orange was still alive, his favourite place was the fruit bowl!  A laundry basket full of clothes left unattended?  There will soon be a cat in it.  Every time daughter Chris is packing for a band trip, the cats love getting into her suitcase.Candy-mom-dadLast week, Nick and Voirrey Coole – a couple from Isle Of Man, the United Kingdom – had scheduled their 40th birthday celebrations in New York.  When they went through airport security with their carry-on baggage, the security staff repeatedly asked them if that was their bag after it had gone through the scanner, they were puzzled.  They had purposely put very little into their carry-ons, for they intended to use them to bring back souvenirs.

The security staff unzipped the bag in question, and out climbed the Coole’s cat, Candy!  Nick later posted on Facebook …Candy-1

“You know that feeling when you get ushered into a side room at airport security because you’ve got a cat in your hand luggage? Candy decided to sneak into our hand bag, thanks Barry and Lorna for picking her up so we can head off on our holiday. Fair play to airport security for helping to get her home so we could catch our flight.”

Candy-2.jpg

As one commenter, Richard Lee said, “Cat was obviously thinking, ‘I fits, I sits, I fly’”


How about a few houses, all decked out for the spooky season…

spooky-1spooky-2spooky-4spooky-5  spooky-3spooky-6

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Oopsie … my bad … wrong scary holiday!


Shay Bradley died earlier this month, and his funeral was held on October 12th in Kilmanagh, Kilkenny, Ireland.  As friends and family stood around the grave where the casket had just been lowered, imagine their surprise when, from down in the hole, came a knocking sound and “Hello … hello!” … more knocking … “Hello.  Let me out!  Where the f*** am I?” … knocking … “Let me out.  It’s f***ing dark in here.”

His daughter, Andrea, posted on Twitter …

“It was his dying wish that we played this at his funeral. What a man, to make us all laugh when we were incredibly sad. He was some man for one man. Love you forever Poppabear.”


I think we have time for just a few cartoons …

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Alright, folks … time for us all to go forth and be useful … no, Joe, not multiply … you’ve already done your share of that!  Oh, but first … how could I forget the cute animal video?  This one comes to us courtesy of Colette … she saw it, and knew we would all love it!  It’s short, but guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!


jollyAnd now, we must really go.  Jolly and I have so enjoyed spending time with you this morning.  Share those smiles, friends … some people seem to have lost their own!  Keep safe and have a wonderful week!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Jolly Sleepy Monday!!!

Monday-sleepy-2Good … {yawn} … Monday mor {yawn} ning, friends.  Sorry ‘bout that … I’m super {yawn} sleepy this morning for some reason.  Maybe it’s the season change, for it was definitely autumn here this weekend.  Hugh tells me they even had a bit of snow out there in Minnesota!  So, did you all have a good weekend?  Anybody do anything exceptionally fun?

And now, it’s back to the grind … er, um … the joy of the work week!  But first … there are treats over there on the table, and then let’s see what fun adventures we can find to get into today, okay?

Bacon — the one on the left is Larry’s, the one in the middle is rg’s, the one on the right is Emily’s.  Now guys — she’s younger and doesn’t have to worry so much about her cholesterol.  I’m just looking out for you guys.

baconbaconbacon

Coffee or tea?

coffeehalf-and-halfcuppa-tea

Benjamin’s donuts ‘n juice

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A few holiday treats!

halloween-cake        halloween-cupcake


A night in a blimp?

blimp-3You all know the Goodyear blimp that flies over football games and such, right?  Well, guess what?  Now, you can spend a night in the famous dirigible!  Goodyear listed one of its blimps on Airbnb for three separate one-night stays October 22 through 24.

Somehow, Goodyear squeezed a bed, a couch, two chairs, several tables, a potted plant and plenty of football knicknacks into the tiny blimp gondola, and it looks surprisingly cozy.  And imagine the views you’ll have … why, I would stay awake all night just looking at th … what???  It won’t be leaving the ground? blimp-1Bummer.  The blimp will remain grounded in an air hangar minutes from Goodyear’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio.  Guests can step outside the blimp into an open entertainment center complete with a TV and open bar.  Heck, I can stay home and have television and a glass of wine.  I wanted stunning views!

Anyway, if you’re interested, it’s only $150 for a one-night stay.  Goodyear advises those interested to monitor its Airbnb listing on October 15 for a chance to make a reservation.


Tough luck …

A Japanese businessman traveling on business in Paris had his watch stolen last Monday.  Now, normally I would have empathy … I mean, it’s rather an invasion of person to have your watch snatched right off your wrist, yes?

The man had stepped out of the Hôtel Napoléon, near the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées, around 9 p.m. on Monday evening to smoke a cigarette, when he was approached by a man who asked him for a cigarette, but when he put his hand out, the thief seized the timepiece and ran away.

But, there’s a reason I’m not terribly empathetic here … the watch was valued at $830,000.  Obviously, if he could spend that much on a watch, when one that costs $30 would keep time just as well, then he isn’t in need of my compassion.  Perhaps at least the thief will find a way to do good, to help others, with the money he gets for the watch.

What, you may ask, does a nearly million-dollar watch look like (for nobody reading this post has likely ever seen one!)?  Well, it was a Richard Mille Tourbillon Diamond Twister, and it looks like this …

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Seriously???  And people pay almost a million dollars for THAT???


Pumpkin carving … glub blub

jack-o-lantern‘Tis that time of year, when people are carving pumpkins into scary faces and other things.  Where do you carve your pumpkin?  Chris is the pumpkin carver in our house.  She used to do it in the kitchen, but now she usually just sits on the floor out here in the living room and carves away.  But there is a group of people who have a unique pumpkin-carving place this year … underwater!

Nearly two dozen artists of all ages, working in teams of two, used dive knives and fine carving tools to transform their orange gourds into sea creatures Saturday. The divers also were challenged to keep the hollow, naturally buoyant pumpkins from floating off while they carved their critters.  Take a look …

Josephine Walker and Stephanie McClary from Detroit, Michigan, placed first with their representation of two moray eels encircling a heart.  Their prize?  A dive trip for two at Key Largo’s Amoray Dive Resort, the contest’s organizer.


And now for a few ‘toons ‘n pictures …

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I had to think a few minutes to get this one, but once I did, I chuckled

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This is soooooo me!

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And this one is for Hugh, with a little something extra, since I forgot Maxine last week!

Maxine-autumnMonday-famous-grouse


jollyWell, friends, I’ve really enjoyed spending a bit of time with you this morning, but I know you have things to do, places to go, people to see.  Please remember to share those gorgeous smiles you’re wearing … remember that some people didn’t make it over for Jolly Monday and they might need a smile.  Have a wonderful week all!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Time For Some ‘Toons!

It’s been another of those weeks that was filled with ‘breaking news’, most of it angst-inducing.  These days, as never before at least in my recollection, has it been so difficult, nearly impossible, to keep up with it all.  To a large extent, perhaps that is the intent of the small mind in the Oval Office.  I have no less than five posts started, but before I can finish one, something else pops up and the result is I cannot focus at all now, so … I decided it’s time for a cartoon break!


Last Monday morning, after a telephone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus leaving our Kurdish allies to fend for themselves.  Since then, hundreds of Kurds have been slaughtered by the Turkish army.  Nothing funny about the situation, but the cartoonists sum it up well …

kurdskurds-2kurds-3kurds-4Thank you Kurdskurds-6kurds-7kurds-8kurds-9


And, of course the other big news concerns Trump’s other phone conversation, this one with President Zelenskyy of the Ukraine, whereby he attempted to bully, blackmail, or bribe Zelenskyy into ‘digging up dirt’ on one of Trump’s potential competitors in next year’s election, Joe Biden.  A whistleblower, concerned about the call and other issues, came forward, and it was this that at long last motivated the House to open a formal impeachment inquiry …

impeach-2impeach-4impeach-5ukrainewhistle-blower


Just under three weeks ’til Hallowe’en, folks.  Those kids who are hoping to score some treats at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might want to re-think that plan …

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191009.tifimpeach-1-a


We all know of Trump’s ego … it goes beyond ego, really … narcissism, megalomania … I’ve never seen someone who thought himself to be so superior …

trump-egoBruce Plante Cartoon: Trump's new doortrump-ego-3


A last one … this, I believe, sums up the entire past three years …

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Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday Surprise — Birds’ Tongues!

A nice crisp, cool autumn weekend … at long last!  You guys have big plans?  I have no idea if we do or not … the girls usually decide what we’ll do on a Saturday, and I’m just along for the ride, the bank card, and the driver.  I can’t believe that October is already half over … seems like it only started yesterday!

A few days ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about whether birds have tongues, and if so, whether they have taste buds.  Of course … a perfectly normal conversation!  What?  You don’t discuss such things?  Anyway, naturally the question kept burning in my mind, keeping me awake far into the wee hours, and I simply had to satisfy my curiosity.  Well … turns out they do have tongues, and this ferruginous hawk just had to prove the point!ferruginous-hawkJust as birds come in all different shapes, sizes and varieties, so do their tongues — long tongues, short tongues, spiky tongues, curly tongues, forked tongues, frayed tongues, brush-like tongues.  Care to take a look at a few?

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This rainbow lorikeet has a brush-like tongue

These hummingbirds have forked tongues that are rolled up inside their beaks until submerged in liquid, at which time they partly unfurl.  As the hummingbird drinks, the forks of his tongue furl and unfurl, so it’s almost as if he is drinking through two straws.hummingbird-1

hummingbird-2Isn’t this guy pretty?  He’s a purple honeycreeper (looks blue to me) and has a very long tongue, to enable him to drink nectar from flowers (or the hummingbird feeder you have on the back porch).purple-honeycreeper.jpgWoodpeckers also have very long tongues that are also sharp and spiky … the better to get the bugs out of the holes in trees!  And here you thought they just liked waking you at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday!  This guy decided to take the easy way out, though, and drink from the hummingbird feeder.woodpeckerWhile we’ve established that birds do have tongues, what they don’t have is teeth, so birds of prey, such as fish-eating birds, have tongues with little rear-facing hooks or spikes to prevent a captured fish from slipping away from them.  Penguins have very spiky and partially keratinized tongues, meaning that parts of the tongue are made strong and stiff by keratin.

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Gentoo penguin chick

Geese and ducks also have spiky tongues, as well as hairy tongues and tongues with hard flat surfaces that, from a distance, seem to resemble a human’s tongue.  However, they are really nothing like our tongues, for they are covered with hairs and spikes that act like a sieve, allowing the bird to filter food particles from the water.

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Canadian geese

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Mallard duck

So, we’ve seen that birds have tongues, but do they have taste buds?  Now, this whole conversation started because my friend’s budgie had stopped liking one food that he was once very fond of, and nearly gobbled another that he never used to like at all.  Turns out that yes, birds do have taste buds, but not very many, and not on their tongues, but rather in their bills!fieldfareTaste buds in birds haven’t been the subject of much research, so not as much is known, but what is known is that birds have far fewer taste buds than we humans.  Depending on the species, birds may have fewer than 50 or up to roughly 500 taste buds, while humans have 9,000-10,000 taste buds. Birds can taste sweet, sour and bitter flavors, and they learn which of those tastes are the most suitable and nutritious food sources. The sensitivity to different tastes varies by species, but most birds use other senses—sight and hearing most prominently—to locate the best foods.

And now you know more than you ever thought you wanted to know about birds’ mouths!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures and the mini-lesson!  Now go forth and have a fun & wonderful weekend, my friends!

For more fun reading about birds and their mouths, here are the sources I used:

Let’s talk about bird tongues  (Research on Dark-eyed Juncos and why animals do what they do)

Bird Senses and How They Use Them  (The Spruce)

How Do Birds Taste Their Food?  (Audubon)

The Latest In Snarky Snippets

It took no time at all for Turkish President Erdoğan to begin implementation of his plan to attack the Kurdish troops in Syria.  Two days, I believe.  Today, Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria.  This, Donald Trump, is what you have done …turkey_syriaturkey-syria-2Already, two civilians have been killed and others wounded.  There will be many more innocent people who will die or be injured, and the blood of those people is on the hands of Donald Trump.  These were people who were going about their lives, minding their own business, hurting nobody.  They were our allies, until Monday when Trump betrayed them.

It is a complex situation that Trump does not comprehend, that even those who are scholars in Middle-Eastern affairs often find confusing.  But, Trump sold out for some favour from Erdoğan and now the U.S. has sent a clear warning to all of our allies that we are not to be trusted, that we may turn on them any day, with no notice.


I really didn’t want to talk about or even mention the impeachment issue today, but to ignore it would be to ignore the elephant in the room, for it looms larger than life.  Yesterday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the various committees conducting the investigations in the House of Representatives. An eight-page letter, as it were.  I have muddled through about half of it so far, and a more pompous letter I have never read.  What he had to say could have been said in a single paragraph.

In a nutshell, Cipollone, acting as Trump’s mouthpiece, says that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and that nobody in the Trump administration will cooperate in any way, shape, or form.  Duh … leave it to a lawyer to take up 8 pages to say that.  But, most of it was hateful, arrogant verbiage attempting to defend the indefensible and criticize all those who would wish to hold Trump accountable for his actions.

But wait … it gets even better.

Since there is precedent for impeaching a corrupt, lying, cheating president, the Department of Justice is now claiming that Nixon’s impeachment was unconstitutional and that the courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry.  This came when Beryl Howell, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, indicated that she may rule in favour of giving the House Democrats access to certain of the redacted parts of the Mueller report.  The judge asked the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March.

Elizabeth Shapiro, a deputy director in the DOJ civil division, argued that if the same Watergate road map arose today, there’d be a “different result” because the law has changed since 1974. She said the judge wouldn’t be able to do the same thing absent changes to the grand jury rules and statutes.  The judge was stunned, saying only “Wow. Okay.”  Hopefully she will find her voice soon.

Let’s put this in context here.  President Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied to Congress about a consensual affair with a staffer.  Period.  Nothing more.  But Donald Trump has twice … not once, but at least twice that we are aware of … sought favours from foreign governments to unfairly influence our elections.  And, whereas Clinton lied to Congress, Trump has done something much, much worse:  he has lied to We the People … all 330 million of us.


And, on that note I find that I really don’t feel like writing any more, and so I will leave you with Stephen Colbert’s latest take on it all.

Jolly Monday! 👻 🏚️ 👻

Good Monday morning, friends. Well, that’s something of an oxymoron, isn’t it … ‘Good’ and ‘Monday’ really don’t seem to belong in the same sentence.  However, for me, Mondays are special, for it means that I get to see all of you and spend a bit of time with you!  So, did you have a wonderful weekend?  Mine was fine … it was nice to have the cooler temperatures and be able to get out and about without struggling to breathe.  Now, I know it’s a little early yet, but it is October, and so I did a bit of Hallowe’en-themed baking for you guys.  Jolly helped, but after the time he set the kitchen afire, he’s only allowed to help with supervision.  So, grab a bite of something, a cuppa, and let’s see if we can find something to smile about!


Legally haunted???

See this house?haunted-house-1

This house can be yours for a mere $1.9 million!  It’s a large house … 4,628 square feet, with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, stained glass windows, arched doorways, a three-car garage, a sun room and a saltwater pool overlooking the river.  Oh … and it comes with one other accoutrement:  ghosts.  👻

It all began in the late 1960s when Helen Ackley and her family moved into the Victorian house at 1 LaVeta Place in Nyack, New York. Side note but here’s a fun fact: Nyack sits on the West bank of the Hudson River, and right across the river rests none other but the legendary Sleepy Hollow.

According to Ms. Ackley, there were ghosts sharing the house with them.  She said that one ghost woke her daughter, Cynthia, up every morning for school by shaking the bed. It gets better. When Spring Break rolled around, Cynthia made an announcement that there was no school and she was planning on sleeping in. Turns out the bed did not shake that next morning. Despite all of these instances, Mrs. Ackley says that it was a “peaceful coexistence with the spirits”.haunted-house-2The Ackleys would live in the house for more than 20 years before deciding to sell, not because of the ghosts, but simply to move to a warmer climate.  They sold the house to Jeffrey and Patrice Stambovsky, who placed a $32,500 deposit into an escrow account.  But, turns out the Ackleys rather forgot to mention that one pesky little detail about the ghosts.  Well, it wasn’t all that strange that the Stambovskys would hear about the ghosts, since Ms. Ackley had submitted an article to Reader’s Digest that was printed in 1977 detailing the paranormal experiences inside her home.

When the Stambovskys learned of the ghosts, they decided to call off the purchase, but the Ackleys refused to refund their deposit, so the case ended up in court.  Long story short, in what would come to be known as the “Ghostbusters” ruling in 1990, the appellate court ruled that, because a routine home inspection would never uncover it, sellers must disclose that a house is haunted to potential buyers.  And thus, this house is now considered to have been declared ‘legally haunted’.

In 1993 paranormal researchers were able to contact the ghosts and published a book on those events.

Since then, the house has had two more owners, but is once again up for sale for a mere pittance ($1.9 million).  Any takers?


Notice anything?

eakin-1eakin-2eakin-3eakin-4Take a look at these pictures.  Notice anything?  Some pretty detailed photography, right?  Wrong.  These are not photographs but are portraits done by artist Dylan Eakin.

“I’ve been training myself in photorealism since 2016. It’s been a bit of a journey, but I’m finally at a place, where I’m truly proud of my work. Charcoal is the main medium I used, with graphite for the finer details. Every once in a while, I’ll use tiny points of white paint for the highlights.”

I am in awe … but then, my artistic skills are zip, nada, zilch.  You can see more of Mr. Eakin’s work at Bored Panda.


Pics ‘n ‘toons

Here are a few cartoons and funny pictures I snagged …

pic-1pic-2pic-3pic-4toon-1toon-2toon-3toon-4


Adorable Lions

What’s your favourite critter?  Mine is … lions, tigers, bears, kitties, elephants, hedgehogs, giraffes, cougars, ducks, dogs, geese, camels, peacocks … well, you get the picture … I’m a critter-lover, so I loves ‘em all!  For today, let’s watch some baby lions having fun!


jollyThat is about it for me this week, folks.  Have a safe and awesome week, and remember to share those smiles with people you run into, people you work with, people you live with … we all need smiles … and yes, Roger Jacob, this means you too!!!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Saturday Surprised — Ingo & Poldi

Hey friends!  It’s finally here … it’s theweekend

The temps are 20° cooler here than they were a week ago, so I am happy.  In fact, it is predicted to drop to almost freezing in the coming week … I hope they bring the part for our furnace before then!  I stumbled, literally, across something this week that melted my heart, and … I think carries somewhat of a message, as well.  There seems to be a lot of people who think they shouldn’t associate with or care about another person because they look or act a little different than they do, but I think these two critters have a lot more smarts about them than many of those people.

Meet Ingo and Poldi …dog-owl-1

Ingo is a beautiful Belgian Shepherd and is rather large, and Poldi is, of course, a tiny owlet.  Professional animal photographer and artist Tanja Brandt from Germany took dozens of incredible pictures of Ingo and Poldi, putting their friendship on display.  Poldi is only one year old and the photographer describes their relationship as “protector-protected”.dog-owl-2

Ingo always wants to keep Poldi close by and always offers his love and protection. Poldi “doesn’t know how to live free”, according to Tanja.

Poldi is a bit more vulnerable than his brothers and sisters. He hatched two days later than his siblings and is quite tiny compared to other owls. In short, he needed more attention and care than others. That is in sharp contrast with Ingo, who has experience protecting others. The Belgian Shepherd comes from a family of police dogs and has definitely had his tough moments in life.dog-owl-3

Ingo might be the more protective of the two, but it’s absolutely clear in the photographs that owlet Poldi likes to take care of his loving four-legged friend as well. You can see that Poldi always snuggles up to Ingo and keeps him very close. Tanja captured some nice, playful and absolutely heartwarming moments of the two together and it’s an incredibly sweet sight to behold.dog-owl-4

Tanja regularly posts updates about Ingo, Poldi and their families on her website and Instagram account. All of the pictures are truly stunning and unique.dog-owl-7

Tanja took a photography workshop for beginners years ago and has always been a huge animal lover. She’s especially keen to canines and birds of prey. In other words, Ingo and Poldi aren’t only perfect for each other, but for Tanja as well.dog-owl-5

She also takes care of other birds such as hawks, falcons, and tons of other owls. Even though Tanja refers to the owlet as “Poldi”, it’s actually short for “Napoleon”.dog-owl-6

Of course, Ingo and Poldi both lead their separate lives, but the best friends regularly hang out together and Tanja is always close by to capture their beautiful moments on camera.

dog-owl-8dog-owl-9dog-owl-10dog-owl-11dog-owl-12dog-owl-13dog-owl-14dog-owl-15

Now, if that didn’t warm your heart, then you don’t have one!  I had hoped to post a video clip of the two, and I found a few, but none that called to me.  I hope that Ingo and Poldi brought a smile to your face this morning.  Now go forth and have a marvelous fall weekend!