Conversations Over Breakfast

“I woke up this morning, and lady Valeria was standing at the gate to the garden, with her eyes wide and weird and her ears in disarray,” said Mr. Hoyt to his spouse over breakfast.

“She got out?” his spouse replied, with horror. “She has ruined her reputation. We are all to pieces.”

“No, no. Only the contained are, near the piano. Someone left the gate open.” Mr. Hoyt paused. “Also, no one saw her, and I could see that there was no young man with her. Her reputation isn’t ruined. But we must have a talk with her about her prospects and potential ruin.”

“And we definitely cannot have her go about with her ears in disarray,” Mrs. Hoyt concurred. “What will people think?”

“Indeed,” Mr. Hoyt said. “For everyone knows a young man in possession of a good lap must be in want of a cat.”

And this, gentle readers, is a taste of Hoyt-sanity. Yes, we’re…. peculiar. And that’s without counting younger son — basement son — popping up speaking a fake language at us for ten minutes….

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

135 thoughts on “Conversations Over Breakfast

  1. Just a point of clarification…when you say “fake language,” do you mean verbal gobbledygook that doesn’t hang together, or something with a recognizable structure that seemingly isn’t related to any language you’ve ever heard of? I contend that only the first would be a “fake language.” Anything else would be an unknown language, of possibly a language simulacrum. Your overly pedantic friend…

    1. I’ve occasionally thought about the possibility of languages that use some previously unused (at least to my knowledge) characteristic of verbal utterance as informational modifiers. For example, I don’t think any language has used volume of expression as a lexical or grammatical information carrier. What might a language that did so be like? Or what about a language that used not absolute or relative tone, or frequency, but a change in tone or frequency as an information carrier? Yes, I know about various Asian languages that are tonal, but I’m talking about something more like operatic singing. And what about the yodel?

      1. Leftroids use volume to cover up the lack of information in their utterances… 😀
        Mollari: “Perhaps it was something I said?”
        G’Kar: “Perhaps it is everything you say.”

        1. Watch your language, there are children reading this. 😉

            1. My first cat, a Balinese, could be heard from across the boarding facility when I picked her up after TDY, and she’d swear at me all the way home. I interpreted it as, “Where on Earth have you been? What have you been doing? There’s another cat, isn’t there?”

              1. C doesn’t have that volume but he certainly makes with the fussing when he wants to! He actually took a bit to warm back up to me when I made it back home after being gone a week, though. I think he was mad because he couldn’t check out the pretty girl who was looking after the cats for me while I was gone…

                1. We’ve had cats that after we were gone and returned that gave us the “butt treatment”. Wouldn’t leave us alone. Insisted on being on laps, but instead of having head toward us for petting, etc., would plop butt toward us. OMG if tried petting (claw treatment). Would not budge. Once determined whomever had gotten the message, would turn around and demand petting. Well that and one cat who would crawl under the bed and pull out all dad’s clean socks and undies from the drawers and leave them directly in the center under the bed forcing dad to crawl in and retrieve them. Note. All without uttering a single sound to be translated.

              2. Angie the BC ate something way too inappropriate (we have sufficient acreage that dead critters can be found. She and her older partner in crime had a few too many incidents of such before we stopped letting roam the property.) and got horribly sick. This was bad enough that she had to stay overnight at the vet’s Critical Care equivalent. By 8PM, she was out of the woods, and we went to pick her up the next morning.

                Judging by the sounds and the relieved looks from the vet techs, once she felt canine again, she wanted to let Flyover Falls know that she mightily objected to confinement. She had an outrage bark that could deafen–worse than Kat’s.

                OTOH, once we picked her up, All Was Forgiven. Whew!

            2. Actually there is one bit of cat body language that our family has always interpreted as obscenity. An annoyed cat will often flick or “flirt” their tail forward when annoyed or if they do not want to do something. We have ALWAYS interpreted this as the feline equivalent of the “finger” or being flipped the bird. We also had one cat Spike a big old orange tom that would read you the riot act if you had been away, or on the way back from the Vet. We always felt this was rather “Salty” language and accused him of swearing like a sailor.

              1. The Salami Cat would go sit in the room with us and then ostentatiously turn his back on us to indicate Supreme Displeasure.

                Barnacle Bill the Admiral’s cat would steal my sister’s bras and leave them by the front door.

                Though I love my doggos, I miss having cats in my home

                1. The foursome are not often vocal, save for certain occasions. Doofus cries. Woe is he, the world is against him! The forces of evul have won, and the brainless hero-cat is laid low by… shoe… that he stuck his head into… and now fears is permanently attached.

                  Nastycat sings. Badly. He sings songs of twu wuv to the neighbor’s pet thingamabob. I think it’s supposed to be a ferret. Also, I think it’s stuffed. Nastycat’s ardor is undiminished. He just knows his paramour pines for him just as much as he does for it.

                  Neighborcat and Othercat utter short, chirping meows. Mostly to get my attention to remind me that the communal trough is looking a little low. They are the more serious of the four. There are occasional hisses and battle cries when they deem it time to defend their territory from encroachment by other living things. Not while hunting. Hunting is serious business.

                  One of the littlest fuzzballs has a prospective home-to-be. It appears that Neighborkid was successful in his attempt to convince Tiny Woman that they would be good servants to their new furry master. The battle continues over the other ones.

                  The rain of late displeases the foursome. Nastycat because it means more baths when he ends up covered in mud. Neighborcat because it gets the prey wet when he’s bringing back the rent payment, as he seems to think. Doofus forgets that rain exists until he is wet, then complains because rain should not exist and outdoors should not exist. Also, he thinks rain is a terribly plot by the dog across the street. He peers suspiciously out the window in that direction rather often when it rains.

                  Othercat has taken up residence under the porch while the wet is happening. A red squirrel has been taunting him of late. The last squirrel that tried that came to a bad end. Fat squirrels are not commonly the prey of housecats, but the foursome are something like prodigies when it comes to killing. Anything their size or smaller is fair game. They’ve even taken skunks, rabbits, snakes, moles, rodents of unusual size and strength, and others.

                  It does not do to underestimate the fearsome foursome.

                  1. Our two 2 year old cats were introduced to Wind and Rain the other day. They. Are. Not. Fans. The year old batted at them as they came running in. By the tail message the two were whipping back and forth, pretty sure we were being sworn at in silent cat.

                    Then the other morning the bigger male was in the bedroom window pawing at the window with tail whipping back and forth. Translation: “Squirrel! Get out of my tree. Squirrel! Get off of my deck. Squirrel! Get off of my grass!”

                2. The back turning behavior we refer to as disfellowshipping us (sort of like the Amish). Our black void cat Hiccup does this when dinner is not delivered on time.

                  1. Sara the Lab-Aussie stole leather work gloves and rubber-handled screwdrivers. When Angie the BC was a pup, she got into the sun room and rearranged the shoes. No chewing, just odd rearranging.

                    Kat-the-dog likes to stick her nose into everything (and her people). If I’m wearing my orange fleece gloves (you mean it’s Spring where you live? How nice!), they’ll become targets for chewing. No quarter if they’re being worn.

                    She has a couple of barks, but the indoor voice approximates an angry F-15. The outdoor outrage, think F-15 on afterburner. Somebody’s got to rival the jets…

                    1. Pepper steals Socks. Leave them on the floor, she takes off with them. We have cats that open drawers and steal what they can out of them. Bad because typically small and then Pepper can get a hold of them. She is more likely to swallow something bad for her.

                    2. The late Mr Nemo would furnish his puppy bed with underwear….. but only if it had been worn. Fuzzy stole shoes until she figured out that it wouldn’t stop me from going to work for long. Sugar hasn’t shown her clothing preferences yet.

                    3. Our dogs would steal food, if it seemed reasonably able to be construed as, “But you left it out for us!”

                      And the one dog that had eaten everything trash, as a puppy abandoned on the side of the road, would try to eat used Kleenex. Which was not good for his tummy.

                      I’ve never had a dog want anything to do with any of our clothes, though. Maybe it’s a scenthound thing?

                    4. Isis and Ishtar taught me that leaving food on the counter was a very bad idea. I left a stick of buttur out once, and saw it had been extensively licked.

                      OTOH, when the slow-cooker flew off the the counter in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, both cats decided that the roof was a more attractive option than checking out any roast beef & shards meal.

                  2. The one odd thing I’ve had stolen was my college class ring. The cat in question was our orange tom spike when he was a young (10 Month?) old cat. Got up one Saturday morning to see him furtively headed under our bed, and caught a glimpse of the ring in his mouth (hooked I think over one of the long bottom canine fangs). Got out of bed and lo and behold there was the cat with a collection of several shiny objects including my class ring, and several of my wife’s earrings which has gone “missing”. My wife said that we had clearly adopted a cat burglar. He grew out of the shiny thing obsession as he got older.

                1. Yeah, that’s also in the Border Collie vocabulary. Angie used it regularly when she was displeased about something, and Kat is starting to vocalize like that if we’ve done something well out of the range of her expectations.

                  While neighbors shooting firearms (pistols on up to hunting rifles, the ranch behind us has an occasional rifle/pistol/shotgun setup) doesn’t bother her, an episode of Midsomer Murders that featured a lot of starting pistol shots got her wound up to extremis. Interesting, since the body count in that episode of MM was exceptionally low; only one (successful) murder for the entire episode. (OTOH, she doesn’t object when it’s other sounds of mayhem, though I think she prefers it to be as quiet as possible. Poison FTW!)

                  1. Was just treated to a choir of “Noooooo. Mommy. Noooooooo. I’m dying.”, “When I get out of here. I’ll do something! Something Bad!” I think there were swear words too.

                    Today was apply Revolution Flea treatment to cats … And, clip nails.

                    At least I can clip nails. First 10 cats we had I didn’t start the process when they were kittens. By time I had to. Couldn’t. Took two of us armored up. Even then I didn’t escape unscathed. Harder when the cats in question are tiny anyway, then fragile because of age. Cats now (except when they attack us) don’t need to have their claws clipped. But If I don’t now, I won’t be able to later.

            3. :eyebrow raise:

              Of course cats cuss you out. Probably THE most likely of all the beasts, save Marines, to do so.

              1. We had a livestock guardian dog (notorious for thinking the hoomans are rather dense First Officers) who was independently minded even for the breed. I once saw my stepfather deliver a stern scolding at the back door for something she’d done…when he went back inside, she sat down with a flounce that bounced her ears and delivered at least three minutes of high-intensity “rassinfrassin knowitall hooman” toward the closed door.

        1. okay, well, if you’re going to bring the whole thesaurus to this discussion and be all hoity toyty by outclassing us all, we must admit defeat. 😀

            1. I know! That’s not the time to admit defeat, that’s the time to go tangential! Or orthogonal! Or calvinball!

              Besides, I’m terribly disappointed no one yet has mentioned “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

              1. Ya know, this was a terrible day to be testing text-to-speech in the latest OS upgrade. slinks off to see if the bell, book, and candle—and holy water—are still where they were the last time

      1. Ubby Dubby?

        Hubbi Frubbends!

        Hi Friends!

        From a kids TV program of the 70s called “Zoom”.

    2. I’d clarify to “artificial” for the latter, myself.

      From artifice (duh) so made, rather than fake, like… wander off and look… oh, cool, we don’t have a root for fake, it’s just… kinda… sounds good enough to pass…..

  2. When I and friends were about 16, in Newport Beach, Cali, we would freak the tourists by loudly arguing with each other, one in Spanish, another in German, and the third in Japanese, with tonalities and gestures suggesting that we were actually communicating.

    1. I did that with an ex-girlfriend when I was in college. She spoke fluent Swahili, I speak fluent Indonesian, and we had a conversation one time in front of some people who didn’t realize it was two different languages.

  3. Meanwhile rack at the branch, er, back at the ranch, actually up here, atop the world, tangled in the taiga, May showers bringing June flowers. A good day to fire up the forge once I dig the coal from the snow.

    Often passing though my yard. a lynx I’ve named Jinx, her ears look fine, rain or shine.

  4. Heh, this really does make me wish everything would stop getting Murphyed up so mutual cat sitting can be a thing…

  5. Any time a joke falls flat in a family conversation someone is going to say, “It was funnier in the original Klingon”

  6. Jimmy throws up on purpose if he isn’t happy with the feeding schedule or something else. Fiona hisses when she is displeased (put words to that…) or just looks at me with contempt.

    If I’d been there I would hope I’d have the presence of mind to say “Dude, how do you say ‘I love you’ in whatever you’re talking?” Be fun to learn a new language for 8 minutes.

  7. I like to mess with my wife by switching between English, French, and Spanish midsentence (she took five years of French in high school and she’s been doing Spanish on Duolingo for a while now). Ex: Tu quieres avoir le breakfast avec mi? [EVIL LAUGHTER]

    I’ve offered to teach my children what German that I know. But my wife is firmly convinced that swearing in a foreign language actually DOES count as swearing, despite all the times I’ve calmly assured her that it doesn’t. She tells me some nonsense about not getting into Heaven on a technicality.

    Just wait until I get reasonably good at Russian. That’ll be entertaining.

    1. Try some Quebecois swearing, which seems to be mostly naming Catholic religious objects in an agressive manner: “Tabernac!”

    2. Thanks to Alexander Solzinitzin and a college roomate I can say, “incestuous son of a female dog!” in Russian.

      1. My, make friends in a Spanish bar, phrase, translated into English is; You’re a stupid, big
        bellied, drunken, fat, bum. Hey it’s served me well in Miami, Cuba and Mexico. Only one guy, in Miami, invited me to step out in the alley with him, but he changed his mind.

        My, make friends in a Russian bar and in a Japanese bar phrases are a wee bit cruder.

        My, Latin friend making phrase, if I ever get to an ancient Roman bar; Tu es nihil sed canis, You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.

      2. That made me giggle.
        I was a platoon leader when Germany was East and West. We had a company that did signals intelligence and all that Tom Clancy stuff.
        My platoon (before I became XO) had all the linguists: German and Russian.
        My first sergeant happened to be a Russian linguist, and taught me the only thing I know in Russian other than “thank you” and “no”.
        Radio operators used to use it to sign off their broadcast when things got slow.
        It was the equivalent of m*erfker in Russian. And it makes me laugh even now–some of what we did was interject ourselves into Russian and German radio broadcasts.

        1. My sister took a semester of Russian in college. All the rest of the family learned was ‘ежик мороженое” (yezhik morozhenoye) – hedgehog ice cream.

          1. I just started The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and the Russian-English is hilarious. IIRC, RAH’s missus learned Russian, so that may have given him a leg up.

            1. My company (ie, not me) got sworn at in Ukrainian, back when I was working at a call center. I couldn’t help laughing, because I could understand some of it, and then I asked the guy please not to swear.

              He was very embarrassed. Because of course one doesn’t swear in front of a lady who can understand one!

      3. ooooh. I must learn this. Thanks to a mystery series, I know how to say Mother Effer in one of the main Indian dialects. TRULY useful when getting spam calls.

    3. Favorite story, someone needed to swear– so they started saying prayers in Russian.

      (relating to Dr. Loss’ comment, my cursing is saying food items aggressively BEEF BULLION!!!)

        1. For a while, I tried using blasphemy.

          Pratchett style.

          “PERSONIFCATION OF ARCHETYPES!” just really didn’t work.

          “CANDIED ORANGES!” did.

          1. It always comes in one of the voices from Wind In The Willows, especially Toad.

        2. Especially when delivered in the intonation used by Robbie Coltrane as Dr. Samuel Johnson in Blackadder the Third.

          (He had just found out it was the one English word he had forgotten to put in his dictionary.)

          I find that all manner of incredulity and disgust can be vigorously expressed by the correct shout of ‘GORGONZOLA!’

          1. :tries it, in the tones usually associated with Sam L. Jackson yelling ‘monday friday’:

            Yep, that works.

      1. When driving while the children were young I would sing the Up With People Song, instead of cursing at the idiots surrounding me, Alas,, I’m a New Yorker who worked on Wall Street so I tend to use profanity as punctuation. the wife don’t like it,

        You can tell a great deal about a people by what their curses refer to. It would seem we English speakers are fascinated by sex, whilst our French neighbors are more focused on the product of their digestion.

        1. Portuguese is so ancient we don’t know what most of our curses refer too.
          Estapor might have something to do with lightening.
          May lightening strike you IS a curse, and highly offensive to…. zeus?

          1. While I’d prefer to avoid any lightning strikes, a lightening strike that took about 30 pounds might be nice.

        2. You are a brave and upstanding citizen. Me, I had to deal with a rather fraught ride home after I narrowly dodged a fenderbender, because then I had to listen to two-year-old Kid merrily singing the “Fook Fook” song all. the. Way.

          I drove home with the best deadpan face I could manage, because if I’d laughed once I’d have never heard the end of that particular, um, song.

            1. That, I must say, is a truly impressive earworm. On the plus side, I lined it up to do the weeding with. 🙂

        3. The story of Hunter Biden’s laptop and the anatomically improbable password comes to mind. The BC realizes she’s in trouble when she gets a heartfelt “dammit”, though I tend to incorporate the f-word in many words and phrases dealing with the offenses done by various mal-administrations. (FICUS and Despicable Kate Brown and the clown cars in Washington D.C. and Salem, OR in particular.)

          Haven’t used Brandon or FICUS as swear words. Yet.

            1. I’ve growled that when staring at the prices at the pump. Along with FJB and other imprecations.

            2. God bless him, our mailman is named Brandon. Appears to be an aging hippie with a taste for chocolate chip cookies.

              1. One of the candidates for a local political position is a Brandon F. Of the four, he’s the only one spending money on radio ads. Lots of radio ads. “Forget it Joe, we already voted.” (Fraud-by-mail is the law here, why R’s cannot get state offices.)

      2. Mine used to refer mostly to my frustration in attempting to get published. “Editor!” “Rejection!” “Go copyedit yourself.”
        Robert, entering first grade, was very shocked it gave him no street cred.
        OTOH my favorite was GGMP. (G-d give me patience.)

      3. The Russian equivalent of “Oh sh*t” is “ah Blin!” which literally translates to “Oh PANCAKE” (slang term for cow patties)

        For English, I will say my father’s “Large Dark Aardvarks!” is a favorite.

    4. I often use chemical or drug names for cussing. CHLORAMPHENICOL! might get me some odd looks, but won’t result in lectures about language as, er, various Dutch-derived words more often used. And I do wonder how many brains I’ve broken with a simple change away ‘female dog’ to …well, “You dirty rotten son of a Radium Dial watch!”

      1. Mark Twain told a story about the first mate of a steamboat, deeply religious and vigorously opposed to profanity, who kept his roustabouts working by cussing at them with terms from Lyell’s Principles of Geology. It was the only book this mate ever read, and he employed it solely for the impressively profane crash of those obscure technical words.

          1. I use German on one of the copiers. I’m not swear-swearing, but it gets the point across, and keeps the unhelpfully curious at bay.

        1. I’ve worked with equipment that devolved into swear words after the nth+ time it failed to perform. “Left handed son of an Ultratech leadbonder!”

          I won’t get into software that does the same. Time to check my blood pressure.

    5. Have you ever encountered the International Dictionary of Obscenities? I’ve had it on my shelves for years now.

  8. I suppose it’s much too mundane go out with only clothes or hair disarranged. But ears? That takes rare talent.

  9. I’m trying to type this with Zelda lying half on my lap, and half on the keyboard tray. The keyboard is therefore just a bit too far away for best ergonomic touch typing. So this is a short comment.

  10. Re-watch Mel Ferrer as Cyrano describing how to insult someone creatively and you’ll never settle for mer profanity again. Unless you’re lazy and unlettered.

    1. Law Dog used to have a magnificent inspirational post about how to truly insult without defaulting to whatever is currently trendy. (Someone had called him a follower of the dude with the schnurbart). I sat in awe and wonder as I read, then memorized some of the basic concepts to use later, with variations as appropriate.

    2. Jose Ferrar, and the original Cyrano was one of the best movies ever.

      1. I remember a piece of corporate brain sucking when we had to sit opposite our primary rival while the6 told us everything they didn’t like about us. All we were allowed to say in return was Thank you. Intonation becomes important

        1. “If you had but wit to color your discourse….”
          Sorry you had to sit through all that shite. It’s hideous.

    1. If the toilet is bolted to an old cast iron sewer pipe, that would make a natural path for lightning.

      Makes me glad I remodeled my bathroom with all ABS plastic drain pipes. Not likely to attract lightning.

  11. Change of subject and prayers requested.

    Mom is now in an in-patient hospice facility, and as the nurse describes, is either calming down and getting better, or is in the final stages of dementia. (From history of the past few months, the latter is the most likely.) She’s 99, and I’ve noted the decline from afar (I’m 2000 miles away, and traveling to see her wasn’t and isn’t in the cards).

    We were able to talk to Mom yesterday, courtesy a really nice nurse who held the handset to Mom’s ear. She seemed to have recognized our voices, for which we’re grateful. $OLDER_BROTHER and $NIECE are visiting often, but $O_B lost his snarky edge–he’s finally realizing that he’s going to be responsible for a lot of things. We expect the call any day now.

    Out here, we’re doing OK. There’s similarities between MIL’s passing and Mom’s, which is mixed news, but we’re more-or-less emotionally and spiritually prepared. I’m a bit worried out the family back east, though, and prayers for all would be greatly appreciated.


    P.S. Thanks for the prayers for my own medical misadventure. The nosebleed got fixed, and recovery seems to be pretty much complete. The preventative steps seem to work. One less thing to worry about.

    1. Hugs and prayers for you and the fam, friend.
      There are some really good, intentional grieving resources available should you need them. With all the mess with both Mom and Dad dying in the past handful of years we’ve learned a lot about the topic.
      Be well, and God’s blessings on your Mama for an easy passing to the next world.

      1. I thought I replied, but it’s been one of those days… A prayer page would be wonderful!

    2. May Himself watch over you and yours. Dementia is a horrible thing to happen, both to the person and those they love. It will take strength of character and patience. May you all have plenty of both, and grace in dealing with the inevitable difficulties. May there be joy to combat the sorrow, and may you and yours grow stronger, closer, and tougher through facing it, for the world is not kind to those with something valuable to lose.

      1. We got The Call from $OLDER_BROTHER just after bed time last night. Mom passed away, quietly, in her sleep. $O_B sounds a wreck. (They were renting a house together.) I think I’m OK; it was time, and she’s where she needed to be. I’m praying for the rest of the family.

        Rest in Peace, Mom. Going on Mother’s Day was fitting.

        1. So sorry. As stated, even when expected, even when a small blessing, when you think all the tears have been shed, you don’t, it isn’t, and you haven’t. Prayers for you and yours.

        2. Thanks, all. I did a lot of grieving in advance, but the shade of Billy Mays is calling: “But wait, there’s more!”

          1. Big hugs. It’s the surprises that grab you. Like seeing something and your chest swells because you want to tell her about it and oh….

              1. Every time I go into the woods I weep for my Papa. He died in 2015. I don’t expect to ever end. And that’s OK.

              2. 52 for my father. It gets easier, eventually. So much I wanted to talk to him about. Dad, say “I love you” to Mom for me.

                Mom’s kid sister died in 2015, the same week as MIL passed away. (Both near Mom’s birthday.) April is going to be hard. (Aunt_B’s oldest daughter is an ordained minister, and will make it to Mom’s service and will participate in it. Thanks, L.)

  12. My breakfast conversations with the octopus in my head mostly cover things like human sexuality and exactly what in a full simulation environment would go from “accurate but you know you’re in a sim,” “can’t tell the difference,” and “better than life.”

    (Better Than Life, BTW, would be like living on a movie set. Things can go wrong, things can go bad, but there’s not minor inconveniences. You might not get your breakfast on-time, it might not be cooked well, but it won’t be completely wrong.

  13. You mention “basement son”. Is there a corresponding “ceiling son”?

    (In case one might not recall the meme, that’s a riff on ‘cat’ in each spot, devil vs angel. IIRC, around 20 years ago.)

    1. Right now only basement son. Getting his bearings, and hopefully out by end of Summer. 😉
      BUT for now, he’s basement son. And we’re enjoying our time with him.

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