Monthly Archives: May 2012

Klaxon

It appears that the two weeks I spent hunting the skunk ape in Florida made me rather sensitive to the sounds of Brooklyn. Perhaps it was the nights I kept my ears trained for tell-tale sounds of bipedal shuffling, or the days I spent communing with lowing alligators and mourning doves. Blame it on the skunk ape or blame it on Florida, the result is that I have spent the last few days jumping at the normal sounds of New York: blaring sirens, explosive horns, the thundering subway, hordes of children screeching down the streets.

Which brings us, naturally, to today’s word.

Klaxon (pronounced klak-suhn) is a noun meaning a loud electric horn or alarm. First used in the early 1900s, a klaxon was specifically found on motor cars and the word came from the name of the manufacturing company. Nowadays, a klaxon is a loud warning signal and can be used to describe any horn or alarm sound.

And it’s fun to say, isn’t it?

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A Sleepless House is a Cranky House

When your brother sets a fire in your cellar and shorts most of the wires in your house, thus ensuring that you do not have air conditioning when the temperatures are in the uppper 80’s (Farenheit), do not hurl a metal sculpture of an angry porcupine at him.

Do as I did, soak your feet in a tub of ice water and watch some television. Embrace the late-night programming and keep all the windows open for any semblance of a breeze. Pretend the stench of burnt wires and earth is actually extinguished campfires and eat some cold marshmallows.

Morning will come soon enough and then you can force him to repair the damage on his own whilst you sip cool mint tea and read a book at a cafe.

It helps to have a cranky great horned owl to keep him on task. It helps if she spent the evening sharpening her talons.

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Memorial Day

How did you spend this Memorial Day, oddlings?

Bubo and I took a stroll through The Green-Wood Cemetery, paying our respects to the soldiers who have fallen in their service.

We missed the annual concert the cemetery hosts each year, but we had a lovely and contemplative walk.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and there are over two dozen towns and cities across the United States claiming the title “birthplace of Memorial Day”. The tradition could have started in the South before the end fo the Civil War; organized women’s groups were decorating the graves of soldiers who had died in the bloody battles even then. Waterloo, New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson but it’s rather difficult to prove an exact date or origin. And, honestly, does it matter? The important thing is that countrymen and women remember their fellow countrymen and women who died in military service.

The National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in December of 2000 and asks that all Americans observe a moment of respect and remembrance at 3:00 pm local time each Memorial Day.

It’s never too late to take a quiet moment and remember things.

I had my moment of silence at The Green-Wood Cemetery. It’s been a bit of an aural melee here at the house; Mordecai has been shooting fireworks off from the widow’s walk and the yeti seems convinced that what she’s doing to my great-great-great-grandfather’s bugle is playing taps.

Trust me, she’s not.

Happy Memorial Day, oddlings.

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Lillywack

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.

261 miles downstream from Manaus in the middle of the Amazon River is the island of Tupinambarana, covered in forests and accessible only by air or by water. The island has been separated from itself by natural channels, so that it is actually four separate islands, and these channels pulsate through the trees. It is within these channels that Lillywack lived.

Gentle and thoughtful, Lillywack is fascinated by humans. She finds our voices lyrical and mesmerizing and each year crept close to the town of Parintins to listen to the sounds of the Boi Bumba festival.  The Boi Bumba festival takes over the town every year and is based on the folkloric tale of Boi Bumba. There are many different variations of the legend, but a common version tells the story of a rich farmer who gives his daughter his favorite boi (ox) as a gift. He entrusts his ranch hand Pae Francisco to care for the boi, but Pae Francisco’s pregnant wife, Mae Caterina, develops an inexplicable craving for the bull’s tongue. Pae Francisco thus kills this prized beast to satisfy his wife’s need.

When the crime is discovered, adventures ensue as local Indians hunt and capture Pae Francisco in a forest hideout. Brought before the rich farmer for judgement, Pae Francisco faces death for his deed. Desperate to save his and his wife’s lives, Pae Francisco attempts to resucitate the ox. With the assistance of Curandeiros (spiritual shamans), Mae Caterina and Pae Francisco are able to harness the power of the drum beat and bring the ox back to life.  Thus, their lives are spared and all is forgiven.

Each year, 35,00 people gather in an arena to party and participate in the Boi Bumba festival. It is described as “an incredible musical and theatrical experience, a religious procession, a tribal ritual, a giant puppet show, a fairy tale of powerful villains and brave heroes, a folk art presentation, a major party for the audience and an energizing choreography of the galera all at once.”

So you can understand why Lillywack was so fascinated. Each year she crept closer and closer to Parintins, hungry for more lights, more music, and a better view. She crept too close, though, and was discovered by a boatload of fishermen, drinking in their wooden craft in the river. They offered the creature quentão (she wisely refused this hot and alcoholic beverage) and let her watch the festivities with them from the safety of the water.

Intoxicated by what she saw, Lillywack prefers to live amongst humans now, favoring the bright lights and stories of our world than the rich, aquatic quiet of her world. She now resides in the United States, and loves any holiday that involves a parade. There may be tiny Lillywacks growing in every country, for all we know. Or perhaps Boi Bumba will entice another Amazonian creature to come out of hiding.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.


 

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