Tag Archives: whiskey

Good Green Mountains

Well, oddlings, I must admit, things were a bit rough there.

There was the mysteriously roving hole in the roof.

There was the fissure in the foundation that multiplied each night.

There was the morning I discovered that the pet gravestones in the front garden had been sucked underground.

There was the note from Cousin Cate that our Great Great Uncle O. Underhill had gone missing. Again.

There was the call from Mordecai that he had relocated most of my creatures from the Laboratory to the Underhill House when the wallpaper had turned itself into curtains and the curtains turned themselves into a chair.


And then there was the morning I came back from a pre-dawn promenade in the cemetery with Bubo to discover that the house was gone. Instead, there was a smoldering pile of rubble and a stench of potpouri and whiskey.

And so we left. We got in my jalopy and sputtered to Great Great Uncle O. Underhill’s house in the mountains of Vermont.

We have houses all over the world, you know. The Underhill House is laid out exactly like my Brooklyn House in mirror image. Rather…odd, wouldn’t you say?

Weary from our journey, I collapsed in an armchair (exactly like the one in my Brooklyn parlor) in front of the wood-burning stove. There was a bottle of whiskey on the side table with a card tied round its neck.

The card read: Mine is yours. O.U.

I do believe I am home.

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The Cellar

Something has unearthed itself from the cellar floor. This something is large, tentacled, and very energetic.

The cellar door is locked.

Whiskey is in hand.

All right, creature! Do thy bidding! (And please do not break the parlor windows. We just had those replaced.)

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If you’ve never had the pleasure of sharing a four hour car trip with an owl suffering from a basher of a head-cold, consider yourself an extraordinarily lucky person.

It seems that whilst exploring the Palladian Circle in Congress Park, I caught a nasty cold. It also seems that, whilst exploring a vast and confusing maze of tunnels beneath the hills of this same Congress Park, Bubo caught my cold. I blame the stale air in the tunnels. And Bubo’s refusal to cease her habitual nips from my hip flask of whiskey. Sharing does tend to extend to germs, my dears.

Palladian Circle Sculpture, Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York

These tunnels beneath the hills might, at one time, have led to the basements of the various Victorian mansions surrounding the park. I can only imagine what nefarious and prohibition-based escapades occurred below the seemingly proper streets of Saratoga Springs.

This delightful creation is part of the Presbyterian Church now:

This is not my house

The tunnels spider-webbed in all directions, and I was so thoroughly turned around when we extricated ourselves that I nearly toppled into one of the springs the town is so well-known for. I might have taken “taking the waters” a bit too far at that point. You might say that this underground system was rather crinkum-krankum.

Crinkum-krankum (some might spell it crinkum-crankum and we are all correct) is an archaic noun which means something full of twists and turns; a thing fancifully or excessively intricate and elaborate. It was often used to describe something that was much ornamented and could refer to artwork, carved chests, and even music. Herman Melville even had one of his mariners use it in reference to whales that looked rather different than the whales he was used to: “I tell ye, men, them’s crinkum-crankum whales.”

According to the esteemed Michael Quinion on his delightful website World Wide Words: The word has a confused origin. It’s related to the older crinkle-crankle and cringle-crangle, which are both based on crankle, meaning a bend, twist or curve. In turn this derives from crank, something winding or crooked or a cranny or inaccessible hole or crevice, a sense that had been borrowed from that of a handle.

In the interest of full etymological disclosure, crinkum-krankum was also used as terribly vulgar slang term for what Francis Grose explained as “a woman’s commodity: the private parts of a modest woman, and the public parts of a prostitute.

Naturally, I will have none of that in this house, though I am quite aware that Mordecai and Silas enjoy extreme bawdiness and I admit to blushing often when those two are in their cups and having open discussions. I am the more modest of the relations, I am quite aware. Crinkum-krankum, as far as I’m concerned, is the perfect word to dub a winding and confusing garden wall or an overly elaborate vase.

Speaking of vases, Bubo was particularly fond of this urn, also on display in Congress Park. A pair of painted iron urns, titled Night and Day, were created by Danish neoclassical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and were placed in the park in 1830. This photo shows the night side of the urns. Can you guess why Bubo particularly likes these?

Night and Day Urn, Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, New York

Borscht Theft

After a delightful dinner courtesy of Cousin Silas, I settled into my arm chair with my electronic copy of Morgue for Whores by the delightfully nefarious Roy Edroso. My feet propped comfortably on a fuzzy lumpkin, a whiskey hugging its ice, and my evening quietly lay ahead of me. (The dragons took tonight’s clear skies to play a game of their own invention; part boggle, part frisbee, and all flying. I have no idea how it could possibly be organized.)

In walks – calm and collected, if you like – an eyeless long-limbed Blue Foonsjab. I’m assuming it was a Blue Foonsjab, I’ve only read about them and there are no photographs of the creatures. Shedding whisps of blue fur, it galomphed straight from the garden to the kitchen. It opened the ice box, pulled the borscht out of the fridge, and filled a canteen that it pulled from the depths of its furriness.

Then, as though this was an every day happenstance, it galomphed straight back to the garden with not a word nor peep. Not even a drop of borscht on the kitchen floor (thankfully) though its canteen was full of the delicious soup.

Now how am I supposed to read after that?

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