Monthly Archives: November 2011

Lopeholt

My oh my. Thanksgiving does take a great deal out of one, doesn’t it?

Perhaps it’s all the eating. Or all the family.

Or, in my case, a rather long drive with Mordecai. You’ve not known exhaustion until you have been in a car for twelve hours with my brother.

Which is why, upon our return to the home in Brooklyn, I let out an immense sigh of relief and slipped my shoes off in the cold garden.

You see, my pets, my home is a lopeholt

Lopeholt is a noun which means a refuge, a place of safety. This word is obsolete, and is thought to come from the Dutch for run and hollow.

Whatever the origins, I find my lopeholt an essential part of my mental health. (Yes, yes, many would question the soundness of my mind, but ignore that.) A haven is necessary, and if I might pontificate for a moment, a haven free of all the hullabaloo of our modern world will keep you sleeping better and feeling more human.

Trust me. I know from lopeholts and sanity.

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Keekwten Mehl Leen

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, in the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, a dragon came to rest. She enjoyed the peace the Oregon coast promised, having fled the great dragon wars occurring over Greenland at that time. The heavy winter rains and thick summer fog kept her scales from drying out and she soon fell into a deep and blissful sleep. When she woke, this dragon had become part of the rainforest; her great tail looked like a nurse log and vanilla plants had wrapped their tendrils around her eyelashes. Tiny sentient berries played hide-and-seek amongst the ferns that lined her scales, and the bears of the woods brought her fresh salmon to eat. She was hidden and safe in these woods, and she let out a great sigh of relief.

The Yurok people called her “Keekwten Mehl Leen” (moss with eyes) since her scales looked so much like the ground cover and only her clear dark eyes were visible. Content in the t’ohl t’o leehl land, this dragon protected her cheykenee nerhpery (little berries) and the Yurok people with a simple bellow and spurt of fiery breath. For their part, the Yurok made sure she had plenty of food and quiet. Should you offer her fresh salmon and the scent of vanilla, Keekwten Mehl Leen will tell you the stories of the first peoples, in the softly gutteral Yurok tongue.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.


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Gallimaufry

Well it is nearly Thanksgiving, and I’m sure many of you have turkeys thawing in the refrigerator, beans ready for snapping and pies begging for the oven. I am in a quonset hut in Sebastian, Florida, listening to pelicans mumble in their sleep while my cousins Eulalia and Willis do a little night fishing. Mordecai, back from the North Country, is quietly smoking his pipe and Bubo is off gallivanting in the balmy southern skies. We are preparing for a quiet and subdued Thanksgiving, hoping that Silas returns from his boar hunting in the Everglades refreshed and reinvigorated and less morose about the loss of his toe. Surprising that he’s so delicate, isn’t it?

Tomorrow we shall eat and give thanks.

Which brings me to today’s word.

Gallimaufry is a noun with two meanings: both a hodgepodge, miscellaneous jumble or medley and a ragout or hash; a dish made of leftovers.

First used in the mid-1500s (sometime after 1545 but sometime before 1555), gallimaufry comes from the Middle French galimafree, which is a kind of sauce or stew. It is most likely an amalgamation of galer (to amuse oneself) and mafrer (to gorge oneself).

Incidentally, mafrer is from the Middle Dutch moffelen, which means to eat or nosh.

So whilst enjoying your holiday – which is sure to be a gallimaufry in all senses of the word – try to take a moment to give thanks for the people in your life, not just the things.

Waldorf

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

Jessica Battersea is an 87-year-old former librarian. She lives alone in a little cottage on the very edge of the Dark Peak Moors, spending her days catching up on back-logged reading and gardening. In the Dark Peak area of Northern England, good gardening weather is scarce, the climate keeping steady around 50 F and the wind being strong and wet.

Jessica had scared herself silly reading a short story by Edgar Allen Poe when she went into the garden one particularly dark and bracing day. She clutched an enormous cup of tea in her tiny hands and shivered looking out across the bleak landscape. Then she heard it. A thick Scottish brogue from somewhere behind her. She nearly fainted, her heart nearly stopped, and she dropped her tea.

She turned to find Waldorf, huddled beneath the cement umbrella of a particularly ugly garden statue. Habitual politeness overran shear fright and Jessica stammered a “pardon me?” Waldorf continued to mumble something about “moo cows angry” and he looked slightly malnourished and pitiful. Jessica decided, perhaps idiotically, that he was harmless.

He is, but little old ladies tend to romanticize garden creatures, don’t they? She brought Waldorf inside her warm little cottage and she immediately learned two important lessons: he is terrified of cats and he hates hot chocolate. He dashed the hot mug of cocoa Jessica handed him against the tiny fireplace and shrieked like a banshee when approached by her oversized tabby Waffles.

Through patient trial and error, Jessica learned that Waldorf adores canned beans and single malt scotch, so he sits in a fleece-lined garden pot most days, looking out across the moors, snacking on beans on toast and sipping good scotch long into the night. He and Waffles eye each other warily, but can agree that a nap in a warm patch of sun is truly rejuvenating.

Waldorf’s origins are as-of-yet unknown, and any story that he tells is hardly intelligible, due to his thick brogue. His moods are stormy like the countryside, but Jessica is content to watch the frost cover the land silently, carefully crocheted afghans around each of their shoulders.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

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