Monthly Archives: September 2012

Whish

Yesterday was a stormy day in Brooklyn; the sky was dark and foreboding for much of the day, and the air was heavy with the coming rain. The dragons, suffering from some sort of seasonal molting process, were flitting about the garden as though in a frenzy. And after a full day of recovering from Cousin Cate’s mushroom “vodka”, I was ready to post here in my journal.

Until the power went out.

We initially assumed it was from the storm. But we were the only ones without power. And then I heard the tell-tale sounds of flivvervaats in the walls. It appears juvenile flivvervaats are like squirrels – they adore crawling through walls and ceilings and chewing through electricity wires. Fabulous. These creatures gestate in the womb for approximately 4 months and then require an additional 2 years to be able to live without their mothers. That means 2 years of suffering through chewed bookshelves, destroyed power cords, and an odd and pervasive odor that mimics nutmeg on a good day and Valerian root on a bad day.

It also means that we are all acclimating to the sounds of flivvervaats in the house. This includes an increasingly robust encyclopedia of sounds. Which brings me to today’s word.

Whish is a noun meaning to move with a soft, rushing sound; whiz; swish; the whirring or whizzing sound of rapid motion.

First used in the 1500s, whish is an echoic and imitative word. This sound became the word used to describe it. Like woosh, bloop, or peep.

Though the power is back on in this old house, and the garden has been cleaned of detritus from the family equinox festivities, there are still whishes from within the walls, keeping the human inhabitants a bit on edge. Perhaps once this storm system passes the flivvervaats will calm down.

Or perhaps I’ll have another belt of this mushroom vodka and be unaware of things for another 20 hours.

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Groggy

It must be said, there is nothing like a nap beneath an apple tree in the Northeast. Mordecai and I are in Vermont, having tracked a couple of SpiderBots traversing the coast of Lake Champlain.

Having spent the bulk of today hiking through Camel’s Hump State Park, I am in need of a nap. I am not, strictly speaking, a young man.

As it is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and as Mordecai is already asleep and I am awfully drowsy, I thought today’s word was rather appropriate.

Groggy is a noun that means dazed or staggering, as from exhaustion, blows, or drunkenness; weak and unsteady on the feet or in action.

Groggy originates from Grog, which is an alcoholic beverage – usually rum – mixed with water (and often served hot, mixed with lemon and sugar). Groggy first meant intoxicated, which clearly happens if one imbibes too much grog.

Pirates typically drank grog and I would venture to guess that if you mix your run with enough lemon juice, you can stave off boredom and scurvy in one gulp. Of course, I’d rather not be aboard a ship crewed by groggy pirates.

Apparently, grog comes from Old Grog, which was Edward Vernon’s nickname. Who was Edward Vernon, you ask? Why he was the 1757 English admiral responsible for diluting the sailors’ rum.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, this groggy old fellow (from exhaustion, not grog) will celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day by napping for a wink or two. Bubo will continue grumbling that pirates get a celebratory day while owls do not.

The Ticonderoga at The Shelburne Museum. Not, strictly speaking, a pirate ship.

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Strange Beauty

“Beauty always contains an element of strangeness.”

– Charles Baudelaire

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Vituperate

The Autumnal Equinox falls on the 22nd of September, over a week away. I already have numerous family members in this house, and as I’m sure happens at your house during the holidays, people are rubbing each other the wrong way.

There have been a few thrown mugs, one bout of fisticuffs, and plenty of harsh words. And that was just this morning before breakfast. Which brings me to today’s word.

Vituperate is a verb which means to rebuke or criticize harshly or abusively; berate; to find fault with; to scold; to overwhelm with wordy abuse; to censure severely or abusively.

It is derived from the Latin vituperatus (past participle of vituperare), which is from vitium meaning fault plus parare meaning to make, prepare.

First used in the early 1500’s, vituperate is synonymous with vilify, censure, and berate. One who vituperates is a vituperator and it must be said that there has been an enormous amount of vituperation in this house this week.

I just hope that this old home can withstand another week of familial unrest before the equinox. And I hope this old man can withstand it. I refuse to walk through my house with a helmet on. But safety first, my dears, safety first.

 

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