Friday, May 29, 2015


First of all, I would like to say that I think "Piggly Wiggly" is a totally stupid name for a grocery store.  No one asked my opinion, of course, but there it is.  The reason I think "Piggly Wiggly" is a dumb name is because pigs are fat, and people don't like to be reminded about pigs and about getting fat when they are at the grocery store.  The only good thing about the name is that it is fun to say.

You may wonder why I am writing about a grocery store whose name I don't like, and I will tell you: it's because Mom bought a photograph of an old Piggly Wiggly® store.  This store may have been in Kansas City.  I only say this because the photographer put K.C. after his name.

The photo Mom bought.  This store was having a big sale on Lustrwax at the time.
I'm not sure what Lustrwax is, but I think it probably isn't dog food.

Anyway, when I looked up Piggly Wiggly® online, I found out there was a lot of interesting information about the history of this store.  The first Piggly Wiggly® was opened on September 6, 1916.  It was located at 79 Jefferson Ave. in Memphis, Tennessee.  The man who founded the Piggly Wiggly® line was named Clarence Saunders.  He had a really good idea, which was that people should be able to go to the store and look around and see all the items, then pick out the ones they wanted to buy.  Before this time, people took their grocery lists to the counter at the store, and the clerk went to fetch their items from the stockroom.

The original store in Memphis

Mr. Saunders thought this old method of shopping wasted a lot of time and money, so he invented the first modern, self-service store.  People who went to Piggly Wiggly® to get groceries entered through a turnstile, and then they walked through the store's four aisles. They were able to view all 605 of the items for sale.  These items were displayed in packages and were organized into departments. When the customers had chosen all their items, they brought them to a check-out stand where they paid.

In 1917, Clarence Saunders patented the concept of a "self-serving store."  Here are all the things that made Piggly Wiggly®  different from the stores that had gone before it:

--Everything in the store had a separate price tag.
--There were checkout stands.
--There were lots of nationally advertised brands.
--Prices could be lower because food was bought in bulk by the store.
--Refrigerated cases kept the products cold longer.
--Employees wore uniforms, so they handled the food in a more sanitary way.
--Fixtures were designed and patented to be used through the store.
--Each store was owned independently as part of a franchise.

1950s Piggly Wiggly® interior
Roadsidephotos (Flickr)

All of these ideas seem old-hat now, but they were exciting and new back in 1916 when the first Piggly Wiggly® store opened.  It didn't take long for the self-serve grocery model to be adopted all over the country.  Stores of this type were called "groceterias" because they were kind of like "cafeterias," which were becoming popular at about the same time.

But getting back to that crazy Piggly Wiggly® name:  How did Clarence Saunders come up with it?  The fact is that nobody knows for sure because he would never tell anybody.  When one person asked him how he chose such a strange name, he just said, "So people will ask that very question."  There was one story about how Mr. Saunders was riding a train, and when he looked out the window, he saw some little pigs trying to wiggle their way under a fence.  I guess that's as good an answer as any, but I still think he could have done better.

Nowadays, Piggly Wiggly, LLC is an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers.  Its headquarters are in Keene, New Hampshire.  There are more than 600 independently-owned Piggly Wiggly stores in 17 states, mostly in smaller cities and towns in the South and Midwest.  There is a replica of the original store in the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, which is a mansion built as a private residence by Mr. Saunders and later sold to the city.

I have never personally been in a Piggly Wiggly® store because (1) the only dogs allowed in grocery stores are service dogs, (2) there are no Piggly Wiggly® stores near us, although Mom says there used to be one a couple of miles away, and (3) I think the name of the store is ridiculous.  However, if I knew I could get a yummy raw chicken wing from a Piggly Wiggly® store, I would be there in two seconds flat!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


The Refectory by Theophile Gide

If you live in a monastery or a convent of a religious school, you go to the refectory to eat your meals.  It seems like they could just call it a dining room, but I guess they wanted a more special name for it.  The word comes from the Latin reficere, which means "to remake or restore," by way of the Late Latin refectorium, "a place one goes to be restored."


A philter is a potion or a charm that is supposed to cause the person who takes it to fall in love.  Usually, they are meant to fall in love with some specific other person.  I don't know if a philter would work on a dog or not, but it might.

Any kind of magic potion could be called a philter.  If you remember that old song Love Potion Number Nine, you will realize that the song is talking about a philter.  And now you will also have that song stuck in your head all day!


Mom recently read a couple of really old books called The Iliad and The Odyssey.  In these books, the Greeks and Trojans worshiped a bunch of gods such as Zeus and Hera and Apollo.  In order to get these gods to help them out in battle, the warriors were always making sacrifices.  One kind of sacrifice was called a hecatomb.  This was a really major sacrifice that involved killing 100 oxen or cattle.  Afterwards, the warriors had a big feast and ate the meat, so at least it wasn't wasted.  I'm just glad they weren't sacrificing dogs!

Nowadays, the word hecatomb is mostly used to mean a slaughter or massacre with many victims.


A monteith was a big punch bowl, usually made of silver, and it had a bunch of notches around the rim.  The reason it had notches was so that wine glasses could be hung upside-down into the bowl to get chilled in ice water.

The name for this kind of bowl came from an eccentric Scotsman named Monteith (Monteigh), who always wore a cloak that was notched around the bottom.


Sartorial means something that has to do with tailoring, clothes, or style of dress.  For example, you can do sartorial work or dress in sartorial splendor.  When I wear my little Tommy Bahama doggy dress, I always feel that I am sartorially adorable.


If something nudiustertian happened, that means it was on the day before yesterday.  I don't know why more people don't use this word because it is so easy to remember and pronounce.  Plus you can almost always be sure that something worth talking about occurred on the nudiustertian.

Friday, May 15, 2015


After a month as a thriving dealer in antiques -- well, sort of "thriving" -- Mom decided she had outgrown her booth.  So she thought about renting a second booth in another mall.  But then she asked how much it would cost to rent a bigger booth in the same mall where she already is.  The bigger booths look like they are about twice as big as the one Mom started out in, so she thought they would cost twice as much.  This would mean $200 instead of $100.  But when Mom asked, she found out the bigger booths were only $150.  And the owner is renting the booth to Mom for $125 to start with because she moved in the middle of the month.

So yesterday, Aunt Barbara helped Mom schlep all her valuable antiques from the old booth to the new one.  Mom brought some new shelf units in, and that helped fill up the space.  Also it made more places to display things, and they are not so jammed up together anymore.  Except that they will probably get that way again because Mom went to an estate sale again yesterday and bought a bunch of stuff.  And she has some friends who want to put stuff in her booth, too, so now maybe she has room for some of their antiques.

The sun face that is hanging on the wall by the moon face sold yesterday.  Mom got it a long time ago, so she doesn't remember what she paid for it.  She put a price of $8 on it, so that's pretty much $8 profit (except for what the store takes).  

The old booth number was 51, and the new booth number is 15.  This is a little confusing, especially if you are old and forgetful, like my mom.  but we are hoping she will be able to remember.  She had to go through and change all the numbers on the tags in her booth.

We think Mom will make twice as much money, now that she's in a booth that's twice as large.  At least that's the way it seems like it ought to work, if you ask me.  And if we have twice as much money, we can buy twice as much dog food.  Yum!

Anyway, if you like old stuff, and you want to buy some of Mom's old stuff, you can go to this website to find out how to get to the antiques mall:

Monday, May 4, 2015


This breed of cat is called a "natural" breed, which means it developed all by itself, without people's help.  Back in 1000 CE or so, the Vikings may have brought short-haired cats to Norway, along with some long-haired cats that came from modern Siberian and Turkish Angora breeds.

All these cats ended up with Norwegian farmers, where they worked hard to keep the mice from eating the grain.  In the meantime, they made lots of kittens and grew long, thick coats to keep warm in the cold Scandinavian winters.  The result was the Norsk Skogkatt, which means "Norwegian Forest Cat" in Norwegian.

Maine Coon (left) and Norwegian Forest Cat
Forest Cats are big, like Maine Coon Cats, but there are some differences between them.  The Forest Cat has large, almond-shaped eyes that are set at an angle in a triangular head.  And if you look at the cat from the side, you will see that the profile is straight.
The Forest Cat has a double coat that is insulated and waterproof.  The outer layer is made of long, coarse guard hairs, and those cover a dense undercoat.  In front, there is a full ruff, and in back, there are "feathers" on the legs and a bushy tail.  Norwegian Forest Cats can be any color, except for having colorpoints, like Siamese or Himalayans do.  They have long legs and a sturdy body.

Wikipedia, Uploaded by ToB

Coat care is not as demanding as it is for some other breeds.  Weekly combing is usually enough, except in spring and fall, when the cat is shedding.  Because they have strong claws, Forest Cats are very good at climbing.  Their life span is around 14 to 16 years.  Unfortunately, they sometimes inherit kidney and heart problems.
When Forest Cats are fully mature, at about age five, males will weigh from 12 to 16 pounds, and females weigh 9 to 12 pounds.  These cats are natural athletes with a lot of energy, so they like having fun toys , tall scratching posts, and perches with good views of the outside.  Also, they like to get plenty of attention from their people.

In general, members of the breed are friendly, sweet, and intelligent.  They adapt pretty quickly to new people and situations.  They are family-oriented and don't bond with just one person -- they love everybody in the family.

By the early 20th Century, the breed had almost died out because of interbreeding with domestic shorthairs in Norway.  But the Norwegian Forest Cat Club became interested in preserving the breed.  Their efforts were put on hold during World War II, but after the war, they were able to create an official breeding program.  Forest Cats were registered in Europe by the 1970s.  The breed is very popular currently in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and France.  The late King Olaf named them the official cat of Norway.

In 1979, the first pair of Forest Cats arrived in the U.S.  The American Cat Fanciers Association recognized the breed in 1994.  The best way to get a Norwegian Forest Cat is to buy a kitten from a registered breeder.  This is sort of expensive, though, so be ready to pay between $550  and $800 for a kitten.

I did not ask Mom if we could have a Forest Cat because (1) we have way too many cats around here already, and (2) all of our cats except Latifa are bigger than I am, so I already feel both outnumbered and outweighed!