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Monday Musings

Advantage to Cousin Silas visiting: his culinary skills. Disadvantage to Cousin Silas visiting: he punctuates conversations with his saber.

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Yoga Wisdom from the Atrium

It is inadvisable to wear an old silk kimono whilst doing yoga.

It is also inadvisable to use this as a yoga block:

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Batten Down the Hatches

Here comes Hurricane Irene. By this morning, we in Brooklyn were already experiencing weather due to the arms of the hurricane – rain and light wind.

I spent most of the day yesterday moving things inside from the garden and porches (possible projectiles. a garden gnome is formidable when thrown by 75 mph winds) and boarding up the uppermost windows.

Then I remembered the grotto and my secret subterranean canal. A large concern with a hurricane in the mid-Atlantic coastal area is the storm surge and subsequent flooding. This would make my underground river a danger from beneath the house. So I focused my attentions on the grotto. I pulled my tiny barge in from the canal. I boarded up the entrance to the grotto as best I could, with plywood and rocks knocked loose from this Tuesday’s earthquake.

I put Mahto to work making sand bags and Beatrix helped me layer and stack them to prevent flooding. The Gruffelnut has a surprisingly keen eye for this sort of thing, and with the help of the specimens, I believe the grotto has been blockade off and we should be safe from a subterranean flood. I hope the catacombs do not flood, but we are on rather high ground here. This old house is not located in a flood zone, and with the proximity to The Green-Wood Cemetery, we’re actually near the highest point in Brooklyn.

The dragons and Bubo spent most of yesterday in the wind, watching the storm clouds approach. Poor Barkly, he seems to have gone a bit mad from stress and storm pressure. The Laboratory was a room full of bedlam yesterday, though as the storm steadily approaches, all the creatures seem to have quieted down today. Perhaps anticipation breeds silence?

We have battened down the hatches and we are awaiting the storm.

Batten Down the Hatches is a nautical phrase, originating in the late 1700s (in William Falconer’s An Universal Dictionary of the Marine). Ship’s hatches (doorways, windows) were often left open for ventilation and air flow into the lower decks of ships. When bad weather approached, these hatches were covered with tarps and other coverings, held in place with strips of wood called “battens”. Thus Batten Down the Hatches literally meant  cover the doorways and windows and secure them with the strips of wood.

And you thought you wouldn’t learn something today. For shame, oddlings, for shame.

Stay safe. Be smart. As Cousin Octavia likes to say “A hurricane is like an angry ex-lover. You know it’s going to be bad. Just prepare for the worst and then you’ll just end up wet, tired and slightly dazed.”

Oh, Cousin Octavia. I am often thankful she’s a distant cousin.

Impromptu Naps Can Be Dangerous

When I am frustrated with a project or just in a rotten mood, I find that a walk can make all the difference. After my flying machine debacle, I wanted to clear my head (and get away from Bubo’s laughing, honestly). So I meandered through Prospect Park and over to The Brooklyn Museum. Museums intrigue me; like my house they are chock-a-block with fascinating artifacts, some valuable and some not-so-valuable. Unlike my house they are organized with name plates of information and full of strangers. I like museums, and I’m glad I don’t live in one.

I went to the third floor to the Mummy Chamber. I am fascinated with the Egyptian belief system and, of course, the mummification process. But more than anything, it strikes a cord with this old goat that the Ancient Egyptians had no word for art; just standing in the exhibit at the museum one is surrounded by what we call art. For the Egyptians, these objects and practices were just part of daily life. In their minds, if you are going to spend the time to make a comb out of stone, then add a scarab to it, or a relief of a woman. It’s not art – it’s life. I like that.

The museum has a number of mummies (with CT scan copies on the walls) and an over-twenty-feet-long Book of the Dead scroll. This chamber is kept darker than the rest of the floor, and it is beautifully quiet. I think you know where I’m going with this.

I dropped my eyeglasses when I leaned forward to look at the Book of the Dead. It took me a bit to crawl beneath the case to find them (my flying machine crash worked these old bones over), and when I did, I’m ashamed to say, I couldn’t manage the balancing act to put them back on whilst on all fours. I lay down on my back. I put my glasses on. I don’t know what came over me. I fell asleep.

I’d be more ashamed if I hadn’t slept so well. I admit to being a bit of an insomniac – there’s always so much to do and so much to see and so much to learn. But beneath the Book of the Dead, I slept the sleep of, well, the dead.

Is it more shameful that I slept beneath such an important artifact in a respected museum or that this respected museum’s staff didn’t find me?

I slept for nearly 15 hours. Apparently, I needed it. An elementary school child found me. It seems her field trip of compatriots was too much for her and she crawled beneath the Book of the Dead for a snack of dried cereal and dried apricots. I love dried apricots. I was rubbing the sleep from my eyes, trying to get my bearings, and the blessed little creature was sitting cross-legged at my feet.

“You must be very hungry.” She whispered. She placed a pile of apricots on my leg for me. I reached down, my back much less sore than it had been (sleeping on a hard service works, apparently) and gratefully snacked on the apricots. She smiled. I grimaced.

“I’m not a mummy.” I said in a whisper.

“Not anymore, you’re not.” She replied. She finished her snack and crawled out from beneath the scroll. I watched her feet march down the hall, a few beats behind the caucauphony that was her field trip.

Once the room was quiet, I rolled out from underneath the scroll, dusted myself off, and wandered back into the exhibit.

I probably would have gotten more of an earful from Bubo when I got home if I hadn’t gone into great detail about the mummification process and the Ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying their pets for burial with them. I described a gorgeous sarcophagus in the shape of a bird and Bubo huffed and headed to the garden. She had unplanted all of my herbs while I was at the museum.

We’re back to normal this morning, though. In the night, she left me a present on my window sill: a dead squirrel with a note in Bubo’s surprisingly beautiful handwriting. It said “You may mummy-fy this.”

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