Tag Archives: relatives

Pop-Ins Un-Welcome

I don’t mean to sound unkind, but I do detest surprise visitors. Especially when they’re family.

Look who showed up at 6 am this morning with nary a warning shot nor a note to herald their impending arrival.

I could have then pretended to not be home. Or mentally prepared myself.

Or moved.

Oh, family. Can’t live with ’em, wouldn’t exist without ’em.

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Un-Flagging Patriotism in the Face of Fabric

Well a Happy Flag Day to you, American oddlings!

As many of you know, June 14th is Flag Day, a holiday to commemorate the American Flag. It was in 1777 that the Continental Congress officially approved the design of the Stars and Stripes as the national flag for the United States of America. Flag Day was established as a national day in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson.

Until 1912, when President Taft standardized the arrangement of the stars, the placement (each star symbolizing each state of the union) was up to the individual flag-maker’s discretion. In those days, you see, flags were sewn by hand.

Imagine if Bubo had been sewing flags in the 1800s. I envision flags with stars outlining a great owl head or an ax.

Legend has it that in 1776, George Washington approached Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for the new nation. Scholars disagree on whether or not Mrs. Ross was a seamstress (some say she was an upholsterer’s apprentice) and on whether or not Mrs. Ross actually did create the first flag. Everyone does agree, however, that Mrs. Ross knew Mr. Washington and, in fact, did sew flags.

It also appears that Mrs. Ross was married a total of three times (Mr. Ross being her first husband) but what this has to do with flag sewing, I do not know.

The Birth of Old Glory [detail],
Percy Moran, artist, copyright 1917.
Library of Congress Prints & Photograph Online Catalog

The current flag – with 50 stars – has been in place since 1960, when Hawaii’s statehood was ratified, and has been in use the longest.

Public buildings display “Old Glory” on this day each year, and some folks declare the entire week to be “Flag Week”.

Here, all the creatures in the house are encouraged to create their own flags; our family’s crest has long been in dispute with so many missing factions appearing whenever a design seems to be solidified. I appreciate the symbolism of flags, and the difficulty of creating an image that inspires hope, power, freedom, and perseverance. Our family hopes to inspire none of these feelings, and perhaps that is the root of our problems.

Mordecai has been strutting about with a flag fastened to his shoulders like a cape; it is black (naturally) and has a single word emblazoned upon it: “YES”.

I, for my part, responded to him as only a brother can. I made a small flag (approximately the size of a cigar box) that simply says “NO” and I have it in the brim of my cap. Once he realizes my flag is made from a panel of his good tweed coat, this Flag Day shall go from passive aggressive to aggressive faster than a dragon in summer.

That’s impossibly fast.

Happy Flag Day, dears.

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Needless to say, it’s been an adventurous week. Hunting a manticore – for research or for sport – is dangerous, exhausting work and I am finally home in Brooklyn, sipping tea and licking my wounds.

A manticore bite is nothing to scoff at, you see. My arm is still swollen around the wound and my cheek is healing with a rather stunning scar. Bubo assures me that I look fearsome and dashing, but she’s been particularly attentive and I know my two day fever was a concern to her.

Mordecai and I were successful in finding the manticore; it was prowling the woods near the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. We were able to observe from the cupola of a stunning home on College Street, and I would have been fully content with a notebook full of observations. My brother, naturally, was not satisfied. He needed to get closer to the beast.

His insatiable need for closer examination is how we, decked out in thick protective gear to ward off the deadly spikes of the manticore’s scorpion-like tail, came to find ourselves creeping through the wooded backyards of Montpelier’s fine citizens, carrying woefully useless weapons of self-protection.

The manticore itself is how we found ourselves speeding off towards Sugarbush at 3 in the morning in the jalopy. The manticore is a shockingly fast runner and the jalopy is a shockingly slow vehicle and while we nearly lost the creature in Duxbury, we came to a head on Route 17 in Camel’s Hump State Forest. Mordecai nearly lost an eye and I received the full glory of a mantiore bite on my arm.

The jalopy withstood the brunt of the attack and it appears that there’s nothing like old tire rubber to disgust a composite creature. Bald tires may be horrid to drive with but they’re the answer to a cryptid attach. When the manticore spat a few teeth and tire bits out of its mouth and roared towards Bristol, Mordecai and I launched a Dunkirk back towards the Mad River Valley.

Dunkirk is a noun meaning a retreat to avoid total failure; a crisis situation that requires a desperate last effort to forestall certain failure.

Coined in the early 1940’s, the word refers to the evacuation of 330,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkerque, France in the face of enemy fire in World War II. This military maneuver occurred in 1940 and was considered a desperate move to avoid what surely would have been a crushing defeat.

Our Dunkirk took us all the way into New Hampshire, where we sought solace with old friends and my delightful pen pal Esme. She brought me a tiny bat-eared fox totem that kept me company while I slept through the worst of my fever. Bubo was exceedingly brave and flew west to ensure that the manticore was not on our tails. It was not. It appears there’s a sea monster in Lake Champlain that was unimpressed with the cryptid sipping at its shores.

I am allowing myself this week to recuperate and then I shall force Mordecai to shed his ridiculous eye patch and assist me in rebuilding the jalopy. I shall also consider drawing up plans for a tank. If Mordecai insists on chasing dangerous cryptids all over the country, he should at least have a proper vehicle.

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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