Tag Archives: Vermont

Pseudoscorpions in the Paper

This morning I had a pseudoscorpion crawl out of my newspaper and onto my sugar spoon. It’s a gloomy and moody day and I was requiring extra coffee to get my day started.

That surprise visitor did the trick.

pseudoscorpion_0258Tiny and harmless to humans (at least the ones in Vermont are), the little fellow none-the-less surprised me alert.

I transported him (via sugar spoon) to the cellar, where he is sure to enjoy a plethora of cluster flies and other prey.

(Special thanks to WhatsThatBug.com for helping me identify the critter and to Eurospiders.com for the photo.)

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Tuesday was Town Meeting Day here in Vermont (granted, some towns met Monday night). We townspeople gathered in meeting halls, school auditoriums, and theatres to discuss our town budgets, town business, and whether or not to use funds for various items like new dump trucks. It was a long day for many of us (especially those of us not particularly gregarious or tolerant of fold-out chairs) but it is always nice to see your neighbors and enjoy a cup of coffee and a freshly baked maple cinnamon roll.

For many people, yesterday brought along Weltschmerz.

Weltschmerz is a noun that means world weariness; pessimism, mental depression, apathy, or sadness felt at the difference between physical reality and the ideal state. How often have you experienced Weltschmerz this year already, oddlings?

It hails from the German Welt for world plus Schmerz for pain. Literally, it means world pain.

Many consider this part of the oeuvre of true Gothic romantics and the likes of Lord Byron, Hermann Hesse, and Alfred de Musset.

It can also be in the oeuvre of a rather old man who has spent a feverish night making notes in his Laboratory Journal only to rise in the morning and discover that the heat is still not working in that wing of the house and the scones are too dry and the coffee is not strong enough.

Nothing a stiff drink and a brisk walk won’t cure, eh?

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Good Green Mountains

Well, oddlings, I must admit, things were a bit rough there.

There was the mysteriously roving hole in the roof.

There was the fissure in the foundation that multiplied each night.

There was the morning I discovered that the pet gravestones in the front garden had been sucked underground.

There was the note from Cousin Cate that our Great Great Uncle O. Underhill had gone missing. Again.

There was the call from Mordecai that he had relocated most of my creatures from the Laboratory to the Underhill House when the wallpaper had turned itself into curtains and the curtains turned themselves into a chair.


And then there was the morning I came back from a pre-dawn promenade in the cemetery with Bubo to discover that the house was gone. Instead, there was a smoldering pile of rubble and a stench of potpouri and whiskey.

And so we left. We got in my jalopy and sputtered to Great Great Uncle O. Underhill’s house in the mountains of Vermont.

We have houses all over the world, you know. The Underhill House is laid out exactly like my Brooklyn House in mirror image. Rather…odd, wouldn’t you say?

Weary from our journey, I collapsed in an armchair (exactly like the one in my Brooklyn parlor) in front of the wood-burning stove. There was a bottle of whiskey on the side table with a card tied round its neck.

The card read: Mine is yours. O.U.

I do believe I am home.

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I woke early this morning – one of the gargoyles has started snoring once the sun starts to rise and it is impossible to sleep with that going on (imagine rocks sawing against each other).

In the kitchen I found a note in Mordecai’s scrawl:

A manticore has been spotted at the Gold Dome. Have gone to see for myself.

Immediately, I packed Bubo into the jallopy and hit the road; while Mordecai has full faith in his and Charles’ combined abilities, they are no match for a manticore. So Bubo and I are in Montpelier, Vermont, home of the “gold dome” – the state building (Montpelier is the capital of Vermont). We have yet to see Mordecai, Charles or the manticore.

A manticore is a composite beast of Indian origin. It has the body of a lion, the face of a man, and the tail of a scorpion. An incredibly active beast, it is able to leap large distances, feeds on human flesh, and, some say, can shoot spikes from its tail. All accounts agree that the manticore’s voice is a whistle that sounds like a melody from pipes.

Pliny the Elder quotes Ctesias as saying that the manticore has a triple row of teeth that meet like the teeth of a comb. Reports differ on the eye color – some say blue and some say grey. But, to be honest, if you’re seeing the creature’s eye color, you’ve got larger problems than differing reports or colored contact lenses.

Bubo and I are staying in a church in the quaint downtown; it is cool still in Vermont, and Bubo is out hunting in Hubbard Park. Once the town goes to sleep, we shall strike out in search of Mordecai. Hopefully these reports of a manticore are greatly exaggerated, I have no wish to tangle with one.

My hope is that I can woo Mordecai from this foolhardy errand with apple cider donuts and the promise of a more-docile cryptid hunt through the outcroppings of Mount Mansfield.

Keep your fingers crossed, and should you hear a fearsome whistling, lock yourself inside. And don’t tell Mordecai.

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