Tag Archives: north country


It must be said, there is nothing like a nap beneath an apple tree in the Northeast. Mordecai and I are in Vermont, having tracked a couple of SpiderBots traversing the coast of Lake Champlain.

Having spent the bulk of today hiking through Camel’s Hump State Park, I am in need of a nap. I am not, strictly speaking, a young man.

As it is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and as Mordecai is already asleep and I am awfully drowsy, I thought today’s word was rather appropriate.

Groggy is a noun that means dazed or staggering, as from exhaustion, blows, or drunkenness; weak and unsteady on the feet or in action.

Groggy originates from Grog, which is an alcoholic beverage – usually rum – mixed with water (and often served hot, mixed with lemon and sugar). Groggy first meant intoxicated, which clearly happens if one imbibes too much grog.

Pirates typically drank grog and I would venture to guess that if you mix your run with enough lemon juice, you can stave off boredom and scurvy in one gulp. Of course, I’d rather not be aboard a ship crewed by groggy pirates.

Apparently, grog comes from Old Grog, which was Edward Vernon’s nickname. Who was Edward Vernon, you ask? Why he was the 1757 English admiral responsible for diluting the sailors’ rum.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, this groggy old fellow (from exhaustion, not grog) will celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day by napping for a wink or two. Bubo will continue grumbling that pirates get a celebratory day while owls do not.

The Ticonderoga at The Shelburne Museum. Not, strictly speaking, a pirate ship.

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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.


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.

Twitter, Titter, and Read

Admittedly, I am quite an old-fashioned fellow. However, there is no denying how delightful the internet is. So much information, right at my fingertips! Now, obviously, I still pour into books – I like the smell of ink and paper. I like the heft of the tomes and I like the way my library looks filled with information and I like the portability of books.

And after the incident last year involving my bathtub and a computer, books are necessary should you want to read whilst bathing. (A breath-taking woman in the North Country informed me she intends to put her Kindle in a Ziplock bag in order to use it in the bath. She’s smart as well as stunning.)

On a lovely and cool August morning such as this one, I sit on my veranda sipping coffee and peruse the inter-world. Here are some of my favorite findings.

Today, August 24th, is Jorge Luis Borges’ birthday. “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” http://ow.ly/6bv5q

My cousin Amelia went into space in a homemade space ship. She never sent images like these back. No grudge held: http://j.mp/poFekI

Thank you to all my feathered friends. You make life soar. The joy of feathers http://bit.ly/o6HUSQ

Bubo did a little dance when she saw this: http://oddments.blogspot.com/2011/08/muricate.html. If you’ve never seen a great horned owl do a dance, I recommend against it.

This is absolutely beautiful. If you’ve been excused from work early, create something astounding. http://www.behance.net/gallery/May/1713447

It is never too late to start planning ahead, you know. Cryonics centers around the world: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/09/features/waiting-for-the-future

That should keep you busy for quite awhile. Happy Wednesday, my dears.



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