Tag Archives: Cousin Octavia

Hopping Mad

At approximately 3 o’clock this morning, a great shriek and a crash echoed through the house. There were bellows, furniture went flying and a brown furry creature the size of a small ottoman rushed past me as I wound my way through the hallways to Silas’s room.

Apparently, Suluk brought back a pygmy yeti from her travels last month.

Apparently, said pygmy yeti bit off Silas’s supernumerary toe.

You must understand: everyone in our family is born with a supernumerary toe. It is often on the left foot for men, and the right foot for women. And we always lose our supernumerary toes in odd and adventurous ways (naturally).

Cousin Octavia lost her toe getting drunk with sirens off the coast of Cuba.

Uncle Ruprecht lost his toe whilst in the Congo. It seems that he was bare-chested wrestling with a chubacabra in some sort of strength display.

Cousin Cate lost hers whilst playing polo on a hippogriff.

Great-Uncle Ebenezer lost his hunting with korrigans in Scotland.

Aunt Agatha lost hers in a freak accident whilst dancing with a Japanese Tatsu.

Silas had managed to keep his toe the longest. Most of us lose ours at a fairly young age, doing something reckless and dangerous. Silas’s ability to keep his supernumerary toe had become a point of pride with him, and the family often theorized on how he would finally lose it.

I suppose losing it to a pygmy yeti – currently a cute and fluffy little cryptid the size of a beagle puppy – was too much of a disappointment for poor Silas.

He left in a black rage before the sun came up. I have his toe in a jar, along with all the other toes of the family (we’ve always kept them, organized and labeled).

And now I have a pygmy yeti. I think he’s rather adorable, don’t you?

Batten Down the Hatches

Here comes Hurricane Irene. By this morning, we in Brooklyn were already experiencing weather due to the arms of the hurricane – rain and light wind.

I spent most of the day yesterday moving things inside from the garden and porches (possible projectiles. a garden gnome is formidable when thrown by 75 mph winds) and boarding up the uppermost windows.

Then I remembered the grotto and my secret subterranean canal. A large concern with a hurricane in the mid-Atlantic coastal area is the storm surge and subsequent flooding. This would make my underground river a danger from beneath the house. So I focused my attentions on the grotto. I pulled my tiny barge in from the canal. I boarded up the entrance to the grotto as best I could, with plywood and rocks knocked loose from this Tuesday’s earthquake.

I put Mahto to work making sand bags and Beatrix helped me layer and stack them to prevent flooding. The Gruffelnut has a surprisingly keen eye for this sort of thing, and with the help of the specimens, I believe the grotto has been blockade off and we should be safe from a subterranean flood. I hope the catacombs do not flood, but we are on rather high ground here. This old house is not located in a flood zone, and with the proximity to The Green-Wood Cemetery, we’re actually near the highest point in Brooklyn.

The dragons and Bubo spent most of yesterday in the wind, watching the storm clouds approach. Poor Barkly, he seems to have gone a bit mad from stress and storm pressure. The Laboratory was a room full of bedlam yesterday, though as the storm steadily approaches, all the creatures seem to have quieted down today. Perhaps anticipation breeds silence?

We have battened down the hatches and we are awaiting the storm.

Batten Down the Hatches is a nautical phrase, originating in the late 1700s (in William Falconer’s An Universal Dictionary of the Marine). Ship’s hatches (doorways, windows) were often left open for ventilation and air flow into the lower decks of ships. When bad weather approached, these hatches were covered with tarps and other coverings, held in place with strips of wood called “battens”. Thus Batten Down the Hatches literally meant  cover the doorways and windows and secure them with the strips of wood.

And you thought you wouldn’t learn something today. For shame, oddlings, for shame.

Stay safe. Be smart. As Cousin Octavia likes to say “A hurricane is like an angry ex-lover. You know it’s going to be bad. Just prepare for the worst and then you’ll just end up wet, tired and slightly dazed.”

Oh, Cousin Octavia. I am often thankful she’s a distant cousin.

Hurricane Donuts

Inspired by the bookstore Word in Brooklyn (they commented that they were going to make a raft of donuts for this oncoming Hurricane), I determined that I would make some apple cider donuts. I call them Hurricane Donuts in honor of Cousin Octavia (she has weathered many a tropical storm in the kitchen, frying up donuts for the multitudes who take refuge in her enormous concrete manse) and pulled out a gallon of apple cider to flavor them.

Upepo, that imp of a dragon, got so excited that he nearly burnt my left eyebrow off. Now I look terribly sinister and am starving for donuts! I managed to spill the batter all over the kitchen floor, and it was promptly eaten by the flivvervaat young who have taken refuge in the cabinet again after the rain started. Any batter that could have been saved was burnt by Upepo’s flames and is toastier than toast.

Instead, I am chewing on a sugar cane, drinking tea, and reading fascinating articles while the creatures and specimens excitedly prepare for a hurricane. I know this old house will weather the storm quite nicely, but I hope my fellow Brooklynites are prepared for whatever may come. The something wicked is not my brother Mordecai. It is Irene.

Five facts about Hugo Munsterberg, the father of Forensic Psychology, found here.

The Postmodern Mystery Reading List – 50 essential works – compiled by Ted Gioia, found here.

Stay safe, oddlings. There’s nothing shameful in preparedness.

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