Tag Archives: grotto


I have spent the bulk of today following a trail of faintly glowing residue throughout the house. I first discovered this trail in the first floor water closet; along the walls originating at the sink, this trail went over and around the oval mirror, around the outlet and it appeared out the door. The trail appeared lighter and shinier than the wallpaper (which is a truly relaxing shade of dark lavender-grey) and there is no getting around it – it looks like tentacles. This trail has taken me across the house; up the staircase to the Vivarium, across the hallway to the Laboratory, even out onto the Widow’s Walk. I lost it in the grotto and the subterranean canal, but admittedly the walls are made of rock and in the flickering lights it’s difficult to fully track.

My guess is that something lives in the canal and came out last night to explore the house. It appears my nocturnal dragons were not patrolling the house as usual and instead were having a bit of a drunken yahtzee tournament in the garden, enjoying last night’s temperate weather.

So until this creature appears again, I am at a loss as to the origins of this tentacular trail.

Tentacular is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to tentacles; resembling a tentacle or tentacles. According to the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia this definition pertains to any aspect of a tentacle or tentacles: the nature, structure, function, or appearance of a tentacle; adapted or used as a tactile organ; tentaculiform: as, tentacular character, movements, or formation.

The word originates from the Latin tentaculum. Tentaculum, then, is a noun that means A tentacle of any kind; also, a tactile hair; a vibrissa, as one of the whiskers of a cat. Similarly, One of the stiff hairs situated about the mouth, or on the face, of many animals, and supposed to be tactile organs; a tactile hair.

Tentaculum is derived from the Classic Latin word tentare, which means to handle, feel; attempt. Tentare, in turn, is derived from the Latin word temptare which means test, try; urge.

One might say that my beard hairs function as tentaculum; they sometimes seem to have minds of their owns and Bubo swears they move independently of my skin. Oh, if only that were so! Like Medusa, but instead of serpents as hair on her head, my wee beard hairs dance and move like undersea creatures. Creatures who enjoy the crumbs of baked goods. You odd fellows know what I am talking about: a good mustache and beard brush is essential to looking your best.


Glum in the Sunshine

I am covered in muck. All the rain has caused the grotto to overflow and I needed to clear the catacombs.

Afternoon forecast: whiskey, ice & a book.

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I have spent two days underground, exploring the newly unearthed canal beneath the house. August has brought many storms to Brooklyn, and this past week we had some earth-shattering thunder-bashings. Literally earth-shattering, considering that the lightening and thunder knocked loose a wall of the catacombs and instead of packed mud and earth, I saw an opening. I cleared away the debris to discover a canal, running east/west, through a tunnel-like cavern.

Bubo and I spent much of yesterday in the grotto, as we’ve taken to calling it. The temperature is a good bit cooler within the grotto, and the humidity feels high. I will be testing it later today with some instruments specifically made for that.

This morning, I took my coffee into the grotto. From clearing away the wall in the catacombs, I’ve managed to create a sitting area overlooking the canal. I sipped my coffee and watched the water tumble past. It’s surprisingly light and clear down there, leading me to believe that there are clearings in the tunnel roof and walls allowing sunlight to pour in. Unless, perhaps, this is not an abandoned waterway at all, and there are lights lining the walls. I’ve not explored very far, yet. I’m still taking readings of pH levels of the water. The fact that it smells like beef stew after 6 pm is fascinating. And makes me wonder if the canal is in fact filled with beef stew and not pure Brooklyn water. So many questions to answer!

This discovery leads me to today’s word.

Selcouth is an adjective meaning unusual, strange, rare, uncommon or wonderful. It is from the Middle English, in turn from the Old English selcūþ, seldcūþ“unusual, unwonted, little known, unfamiliar, novel, rare” – which, in turn, are from seld + cūþ (known).

This grotto, this canal, are certainly selcouth, wouldn’t you say? Could it lead me into the Paerdegat Basin? Is it made of beef stew? Is it still used as a secret waterway? Does it meander through the entire Atlantic Coast, or is it Brooklyn-specific?

I’m putting the finishing touches on an exploration boat – think Dr. Livingstone meets Cleopatra’s barge – to fully explore with Bubo. Would you join me? It promises to be a selcouth journey.

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