Canine Bomb Squad


Ariel’s Prance


Beware of any species named ‘infausta’ because it sounds dreadful and means, in other languages, to suffer misfortune.

DSC_2048 Vangueria infausta_sm

Who would grow a tree known to possess evil powers? Only a sorcerer, whose research would confirm that one is specifically interdicted to make fire with the wood, and that the fanatical malediction is in reference to one’s cattle only bearing male offspring. I have surveyed Ariel’s garden and surrounding Eden and can safely say that there is no cattle around. There’s the odd skink and one particularly ugly toad, but no bison or yaks–I would have noticed.

In Africa Vangueria infausta is known as ‘wilde mispel’ (please don’t misspell it). The fruit is said to be similar to the apple (Eden again!). For those of you with a hankering for apple sauce (or male cattle), you may go to the garden section of your nearest Home Depot and purchase the seeds, which germinate freely when sprinkled with powder of algaroth and suspended over a cauldron of boiling ambergris.


Papillon breed

Prospero Dae Drabble

Myths and better myths


The ancient Greeks and the old-time Romans were great at inventing tepid mythical beings: think half-horse-half-man or, quiveringly, three-headed puppy dogs, but this lack of imagination is probably the product of bad wine or, respectively, a demonstration of the deleterious effects of having gotten rabies from one of Hercules’ pets (which are not necessarily from the animal kingdom, but that’s another subject) .

And yet what I am about to advance is no more imaginative, probably less so. But still, you are a captive audience and have little choice but to hear of how floriferous trees sometimes shred their ambassadors of color, making a rainbowy carpet for the downtrodden to rest upon. But what if these flowers did not come from a tree? What if they weren’t even dropped out of a florist’s van (oh those hairpin turns)? What if they grew straight out of the terra firma? That would be mythical, don’t you think?

So consider Kaempferia rotunda, a lovely ginger that flowers directly from the ground. Who needs the jaundiced mythology of the Greeks and the Romans? Incidentally, the species is native to China–just like the Papillon.


Marie Antoinette’ s puppy dog

Ariel the papillon

Some say the butterfly-dog breed originated in France, but I have my doubts. An arbiter of good taste and fashion, Marie Antoinette had, throughout her merry life, a bevy of Papillons, and I am not disputing this claim (except the part about her happy life). And, on a sun-clad afternoon, amid the singsong of peasants, she was paraded, merrily (see what I mean), on a squeaky-wheeled tumbril heading to the guillotine clutching a small dog, though this little nugget is only extant in the highly sanitized version of events: she cared not a whit about her own life, so it went, but made certain the boisterous little pooch wouldn’t lose his head over the pomp and circumstance of the festivities at Place de la Concorde, and so she had, clandestinely, lovingly, made meticulous arrangements for the cossetted canine to be housed indefinitely in palatial comfort, where he would forever convalesce after becoming aware of her bloody and untimely death. But historical accounts are unreliable, and facts are as malleable as clay in the hands of good writers–and but unruly gelatin in the hands of novices–yet unmistakably, history is written by the victors, leaving the vanquished in a bit of a spot, as usual.

But important evidence is being omitted. Marie Antoinette’s Papillon, as well as those depicted in paintings of the old masters, was an Epagneul Nain, a cute as a button, drop-eared progenitor of the butterfly-eared Papillon. But, in the good and revered name of science, try to offer a modern day Papillon the choice between Ratatouille, Quiche Lorraine, and Escargots–or Chop Suey, and you will learn something. The breed is most likely Chinese in origin. My experiments have consistently proven this point.


Under the blossom that hangs on the bough