Tag Archives: family


I might have mentioned that my half-cousins arrived suddenly and unexpectedly early yesterday morning. Hiram and Lida are, naturally, different than your average relations. Of course, if we’re being absolutely honest, not a single being in my family is average, but Hiram and Lida are different even for us. Of course, they’re half-cousins and no one is completely certain of their full lineage.

Hiram, you see, is part henbane. Henbane is an Old World plant (formally known as Hysocyamus niger) that is part of the nightshade family. It (and thus, Hiram) has sticky, hairy, fetid foliage and greenish-yellow flowers. The plant possesses narcotic and poisonous properties that are especially destructive to domestic fowls. (Get it? Hen-bane?) So that’s Hiram. And Lida is, obviously, a mermaid. It surprises me that she visits family so much, considering that not everyone has a water feature large enough to accommodate her. Of course, Hiram and Lida travel the country in a specialized motor vehicle that looks like a cross between a camper van and a small tanker trunk, so she is able to keep hydrated there.

What makes them horrid house guests is not just Lida’s need for water, not Hiram’s ability to kill domestic fowls whilst he sleeps, nor their surprisingly powerful fetidness (imagine a malodorous plant and a slightly-over-heated fish). It is all of these things combined: their pestilence.

Pestilent is an adjective with a number of different meanings (all of which fit Hiram and Lida to a T):

1. Highly injurious or destructive to life; deadly.

2. Likely to cause an epidemic disease.

3. Morally, socially, or politically harmful; pernicious.

4. Infected or contaminated with a contagious disease.

5. Causing displeasure, annoyance, or disapproval.

Pestilent originated in the mid-15th century from the Latin pestilens, which originated from pestilis meaning of the nature of a plague, which comes from pestis meaning deadly contagious disease.

At any given moment during the day, Hiram and Lida could destroy a poor chicken’s life, are socially destructive (people who smell like they do are not good at a party), and both cause annoyance. They are rather pestilent, wouldn’t you agree?

Perhaps you would describe YOUR half-cousins as pestilent, as well.

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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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Happy Fourth of July!

Well, dears, my guess is that most of you in the States are outside, having hot dogs and hamburgers and waiting for your local fireworks display to celebrate American Independence Day.

(It was on this day in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 original colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.)

The dragons have been incredibly busy putting the finishing touches on their sure-to-be-eye-catching home-made fireworks display for this evening. I’m hoping for clear skies since dragons + fire + home-made fireworks + thunder and lightening = mayhem.

Silas has a few pitchers of lemon berry cocktails cooling in the ice box and has been slaving in the kitchen all morning. Mordecai has been in the cellar grumbling to himself and I’ve been in the Laboratory with the monsters. It’s best if the three of us only stay in close contact when cocktails are involved. You understand: family.

Have a safe and happy holiday, oddlings. Remember that fireworks are not toys and be good to each other.


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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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