Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Disturbing Developments: Part Four of the Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker

[This is Part Four of The Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker. See also Parts One, Two, and Three.]

The only place I can see living Lady
Slippers right now is at home, amongst
my modest collection of Orchids: This
is Paphiopedilum victoria-regina, a
tropical Lady Slipper.
Unlike the great Sherlock Holmes, I am, Dear Readers, never bored.  But I must admit to being seriously perplexed, as well as exhausted. I am beginning to think I have stumbled into the midst of some strange conspiracy, for everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I find Lady Slippers! --Not the actual plants, mind you, which are out of season, but images of them and references to them. 

Yesterday morning, in the Main Office, I bumped into to Ms Momsen! I approached her with trepidation, but she smiled at me, and we embarked on a most interesting conversation. With great enthusiasm, she promised me she was innocent, and the longer we talked, the more I began to believe her. She explained that she had named her cat "Ladyslipper" because the color-patterns of the sweet creature's fur make her look as if she were wearing boots, but since "Boots" is such a common name for pets these days, she wanted to give hers a more distinctive name. This seemed like a plausible explanation...

She also told me she thought I should know that Mr Pearson was spreading a terribly Disturbing Rumor; he has been telling his students that I was the one who placed the Photo in Question on my own car, just so that I could create a series of mildly-amusing blog posts about it! 
The Photo in Question

I was stunned, and more than a little wounded, to think that Mr Pearson would say, or even think, such a thing! 

It is not, of course, true. 

I give you, Dear Readers, my word on that. 

Later, in the day, just as I was getting ready to leave school, I stepped into the Library to speak to Mr Whittaker (it occurred to me as I did so that he should be on my list of suspects, as he spends a great deal of time outdoors, biking, hiking, canoeing, and writing poetry!). As I was leaving, Mrs Tri asked me if I had seen what was on the window in the front hallway. I didn't know what she was talking about, so she showed me a small sign. 

The Small Sign
On the Small Sign was a question:  "Do you know the State Flower of Minnesota?" Mrs Tri laughed at my response, which was one of total surprise! I recoiled from the window in a state of horror--must I now suspect the Library Staff as well? Was this a clue? --No, surely not. I stopped to think. This must be a mere coincidence! With great relief, I remembered that our Middle School students spend some time studying Minnesota in their Social Studies courses. Yes, this must simply be part of that unit. Somewhat reassured, I put Lady Slippers out of my mind and packed up my things.

Braving the wind and rain, I walked out to my car, thinking not of the Case of the Lady Slipper Stalker, but rather of a most celebrated novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. My AP Lit students are currently reading it. We had a most stimulating discussion during Period 4A about the character of the hideous Creature brought to life by Victor Frankenstein, and although Thomaz N seemed to think (why, I cannot fathom!) that the poor wretch had the legs of a horse, we had come to the conclusion that he (the Creature--we're still not quite sure about Thomaz!) would make a passable Hilltopper, possessing "strong academic habits" and a great deal of "intellectual curiosity," along with a fair quantity of "self-discipline" and "compassion." (We have not yet finished the novel, so our views, about both the Creature and Thomaz, may change--or not!)

The Charming Book, as I found it
Wishing only to reach as quickly as possible the comforts of my quarters at 112A Candlestickmaker Lane, I trudged closer to my car--catching a glimpse as I did so of something yellow and pink on the windshield! (Let's see who's paying attention: 1 extra-credit point to the first member of the class of 2015 who can explain the joke I made in the previous sentence--your answer must be complete!)

A rather bulky package had been placed beneath the wiper. It consisted of a most charming book protected from the elements by four (four! someone was very careful!) plastic bags. I could see through the transparent wrappings that the book was one version of an Ojibwe legend about the origins of the Lady Slipper flower, entitled The Legend of the Lady's Slipper by Kathy-jo Wargin, a Minnesota-born author of highly-acclaimed children's books. She seems to specialize in pourquoi tales, of which this is but one. (Let's see who's paying attention:  there is another similar book by an author with a connection to Marshall School--the first member of the class of 2015 who can tell me the name of that author and describe the connection to Marshall may earn 1 extra-credit point!). By some accounts (I'm having trouble finding much information about the author of the Charming Book), Wargin has also lived in Michigan, and I know that she has written other books about Michigan. 

At that thought, my mind began to race--I knew that at least two faculty members were born in Michigan (let me know in a comment if you know who they are), and of course Mr Breen and his family came to us from Michigan. Could he, the esteemed Head of our School, be implicated in this plot? Must I add him as well to the list of suspects?! As I got into my car and pulled out of the parking lot, I passed two other cars--and who should be in them but Mr Breen (in one) and Mrs Breen (in the other)! --No, no, I knew I must not let paranoia overwhelm me. This was just another coincidence. 

After this emotionally-exhausting day, I finally made it home, a little shaken, I must admit, but no worse for wear. Later that evening, however, Mr Diener, currently my Prime Suspect, sent me a most troubling email.
The Troubling Email

How was I to interpret this? As an amateur Orchid-hunter, I very much wish to know the location of the Lady Slippers at Gooseberry, for I have never even looked for them there. Mr Diener seemed to be implying that the Photo in Question may have been taken at Gooseberry Falls State Park, where he works on the weekends. But his second paragraph, with its reference to Sasquatch, was, of course, most troubling; he mentions a photo of a footprint. I would very much like to see this photo! (In fact, if he's reading this, I challenge him to produce the photographic evidence to which he refers!) 

Last night, I was tormented by disturbing dreams in which Victor Frankenstein's Creature, who looked very much like Bigfoot, chased me along the hiking trails at Gooseberry Falls. At one point, the hideous wretch chased me out into the river, and we struggled in mortal combat on the very edge of the Great Falls! Just as I felt my feet slipping out from under me, I woke with a start, to find myself safe in bed. I reached for my laptop and began to compose this post. 

Dear Readers, if you know anything which might assist me in my inquiries, please do let me know, either in a comment or in person. And please keep your eyes open! I shudder to think what might happen next.


  1. At the risk of moving up on the list of suspects, I am compelled to admit that this mystery is resulting in very entertaining blogs, Dr Nygaard.

    1. Glad you're enjoying them! --Not entirely sure that you're in the clear...

  2. I had lady slipper soup for lunch today served up by Dean

  3. As I am in the safe space of my hillside kitchen, doors locked and shades drawn, I implore you, my friend, to consider your unwarranted feelings of paranoia. Never mind that our old, cherished friend Wanda Birnbaum visited early this week bringing a box filled with books of Ojibwe legends and folktales. Never mind that Lady slippers are appearing daily, surprising you around corners unexpectedly. Never mind that all around you people look at you and think LADY SLIPPER! As your companion walking these halls of this esteemed institution of higher learning, I worry about your distraction, your nervousness. I have held you up as my ideal of steady calm in the face of chaos all these decades, and yet you seem to cringe under the mystery of The Photo in Question. Please allow me to heat good Lake Superior water from my tap to make you a tea from your beloved Lady Slipper. My research, and I know how to check credible resources, shows that Lady Slippers have been used for any number of ailments, a few of which you seem to be exhibiting.

  4. Pam Scheunemann is the author of the children's book Lena and the Lady's Slippers. She is from Minneapolis. Duluth is mentioned in her book as well as the Ariel Lift Bridge.

    1. I was not aware of this one! Good job!

    2. Jordan, There's a significant spelling error in your comment; it's also a funny mistake, unintentionally so, I assume! Please do a little research and explain why your mistake is funny, ok?


  6. The author is Margi Preus. Her son is Misha Kahn. He graduated in 2007!

  7. He is now a Furniture designer/artist in NYC.

  8. 112A Candlestickmaker Lane
    221B Baker St.
    Opposites from Sherlock Holmes
    The Butcher The Baker and the Candlestickmaker

    1. Yes! I'm glad someone finally got this, Sean!