Monthly Archives: April 2012

Manticore

I woke early this morning – one of the gargoyles has started snoring once the sun starts to rise and it is impossible to sleep with that going on (imagine rocks sawing against each other).

In the kitchen I found a note in Mordecai’s scrawl:

A manticore has been spotted at the Gold Dome. Have gone to see for myself.

Immediately, I packed Bubo into the jallopy and hit the road; while Mordecai has full faith in his and Charles’ combined abilities, they are no match for a manticore. So Bubo and I are in Montpelier, Vermont, home of the “gold dome” – the state building (Montpelier is the capital of Vermont). We have yet to see Mordecai, Charles or the manticore.

A manticore is a composite beast of Indian origin. It has the body of a lion, the face of a man, and the tail of a scorpion. An incredibly active beast, it is able to leap large distances, feeds on human flesh, and, some say, can shoot spikes from its tail. All accounts agree that the manticore’s voice is a whistle that sounds like a melody from pipes.

Pliny the Elder quotes Ctesias as saying that the manticore has a triple row of teeth that meet like the teeth of a comb. Reports differ on the eye color – some say blue and some say grey. But, to be honest, if you’re seeing the creature’s eye color, you’ve got larger problems than differing reports or colored contact lenses.

Bubo and I are staying in a church in the quaint downtown; it is cool still in Vermont, and Bubo is out hunting in Hubbard Park. Once the town goes to sleep, we shall strike out in search of Mordecai. Hopefully these reports of a manticore are greatly exaggerated, I have no wish to tangle with one.

My hope is that I can woo Mordecai from this foolhardy errand with apple cider donuts and the promise of a more-docile cryptid hunt through the outcroppings of Mount Mansfield.

Keep your fingers crossed, and should you hear a fearsome whistling, lock yourself inside. And don’t tell Mordecai.

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Skating Along the Edges

Mordecai and I went roller skating this weekend with the vivacious lass Bindel Fallstaff. What is it about propelling oneself in a circle on wheels that causes such unmitigated joy in humans?

There are no photographs of the event, though I’m sure you can imagine the glorious scene if you close your eyes and sit quietly for a moment.

There is this photograph, however:

DUMBO never disappoints.

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Decklen

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

Deep in the stacks of maps on the third floor of the British Library lived Decklen. Old, composed, and rather polite, Decklen grew up among the books and manuscripts, from a teensy little pup to the venerable and aged creature he is today. Fed and cared for by librarians (who love a well-behaved furry thing who adores knowledge as much as they do), Decklen grew in size and in education. His appetite for books and information surpassed his appetite for toast and jam early.

If one had managed to stay in the library overnight, one might witness this fellow loping past the stacks, re-shelving books, pulling new ones, taking big deep and satisfied sighs when he found a book he particularly wanted.

And so Decklen grew and aged in the British Library. He slept behind shelves and danced in moonlight on the terraces. He ate up as much knowledge as he could, and he learned how to brew a perfect cup of tea. Unfortunately, with health regulations being what they are these days, the librarians were forced to ask Decklen to leave. They knew that he would find a new home, surrounded by new pages. With a noggin filled with Chaucer and science and even some rather significant philatelic facts, this monster would, at the very least, be delightful conversation.

Perhaps you should peruse a bookstore or a library soon. Perhaps you should keep some toast in your pocket, and maybe a tea bag or two. Look through the stacks of books – the really dusty ones with books gleaming with words and not fancy covers. That’s usually where Decklen can be found.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

 

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Susurrus

Early this morning I took a walk. It was before the sun rose, and a breeze lifted leaves and pollen from the sidewalks and swirled around my feet. Bubo was on my shoulder, and as we so often do, we walked through the Green-Wood Cemetery, enjoying the quiet that so rarely graces Brooklyn.

We walked beneath the trees and wound around the gravestones and it felt as though the earth were telling us a great secret, barely audible at first. Soon the wind was whipping through the trees and there was an explosion of leaves, flowers, pollen and feathers. Then that low rumble. As I often mumble, something wicked this way comes. Usually this means Mordecai is on the move, but he’s laid up in bed with a fever and Charles is reading him the complete works of Dostoevsky.

This brings us to susurrus. This noun is pronounced soo-SUHR-uhs and means a whispering or rustling sound. From the Latin susurrare to hum, to whisper, the first documented use of the word was 1826. And, naturally, you can use the verb susurrate (to whisper, murmur) or the adjective susurrous (full of whispering sounds) to round out your vocabulary.

One might say that Bubo and I experienced a low susurrus before the wind created the botanical explosion in the cemetery. One might also say that a violent storm is often preceded by a susurrus of anxiety and power. One might say a lot of things, my dears, and it is important that one has a full vocabulary with which to speak.

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