Monday, September 8, 2014

The Plot Thickens

The mystery of the Lady Slipper Stalker continues. On Friday afternoon, September 5, when I left the school building and walked out to my car, I found another item slipped under the windshield wiper. I was not surprised. 
The item that was left on my car is on the left; to the right is the advertisement
from the current issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine.
I had been talking to Ms Oswald and Mr Friese only minutes before, and Oswald let it slip that there was something on my car. Friese claimed innocence, by the way, but said he was definitely enjoying watching this whole plot play out. (See? I said he had a sneaky side.)

When I got closer to my car, I could see the item, and before I even picked it up, I knew what it was--it looked very familiar.  

Photo of the cover of the Calendar which is patiently awaiting
the new year, when I will hang it in my classroom.
You see, I subscribe to Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine, a publication of the Minnesota DNR, and the little snippet of paper on my car had come from the back of that magazine. It was part of an advertisement for the 2015 Wild Orchids Calendar produced and sold by the DNR. I was already familiar with this ad and this calendar, because I had purchased the calendar about a month earlier. (It's a really nice calendar, and all the photos were taken by Jim Brandenburg, one of Minnesota's most famous photographers:  check out his blog and listen to an NPR interview with him here).

I'm very familiar with the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine, because I first saw copies of it at my grandparents' house, and I have many fond memories of paging through each issue. The photographs and articles in this magazine helped spark my interest in wild flowers and plants. 

So this ad, which shows all the photos in the calendar, was a sweet little (non)surprise that made me chuckle all the way home. 
All the photos in the Calendar
I have seen six of the twelve orchids featured in this calendar, by the way, and I hope to see the other six kinds in the years to come. When I got home, I posted an update about the mystery on Facebook. Please note Oswald's suspicious response.
The "KM" in the post above refers, of course, to
Kelly Momsen, of the Math Department.

Last night, Ms Momsen finally emailed me to "prove" her innocence. She sent me two photos, as evidence of her  blamelessness. You can see them below. 

I don't know about you, but I don't really think these photos prove anything... There are two spots (to my knowledge) where Showy Slippers grow at Jay Cooke State Park, and the Main Office is very close to both of them. She could easily nip out of the Office and take a shot... just sayin'... In fact, I seem to remember her saying that she had taken some photos the day before I ran into her at the Park Office this summer. 
Momsen at Jay Cooke State Park Main Office,
doing her job, & not, so she says, taking flower photos.
But who took this photo? Mr Diener, maybe? 

Ladyslipper, the cat, looking very un-flower-like!

And as for the cat, it looks like a very sweet creature, but this photo does not prove that Momsen didn't take the Photo in Question. (You'd think a Math teacher would employ better logic, wouldn't you?) In an email message to me, Momsen says that "her favorite type of lady slipper is of the feline variety," but--again--this proves nothing! My question would be why did Momsen name her cat "Ladyslipper"? What inspired her to apply such a very un-feline-like name to her cat? Surely, the sight of these majestic wild orchids in a State Park setting suggested the name...

I now suddenly remember, too, that I ran into Momsen at Jay Cooke during the summer of 2013. She was with Mr Dexheimer, a former Marshall teacher and photographer, and one other person; they had all just been looking at and taking photos of the flowers! But she says she's innocent, so... 

Here are my thoughts at the moment:
  • Either one (or more) of my suspects is lying, or one of the still-silent suspects is, in fact, the culprit.  
  • I have not yet heard from Mr Diener, and with all his State Park connections, he remains a suspect--perhaps we must now even consider him Prime Suspect #1. [Update: Mr Diener says he's innocent, but I'm not sure I believe him!]
  • Mr Johnson (Middle School) has yet to say anything, so my suspicions stand.
  • Ms Oswald is certainly involved somehow...
  • Mr Pearson still seems to know more than he's saying (I'm almost wondering if this isn't a Math Department conspiracy, or if there isn't some Math-and-Science collaboration happening here!).
  • My DNR intern friend has remained silent through all this, too...
  • Of course, it could be someone I haven't even thought of yet, Like Mr Wicklund, or Chef Korach, or Ms Vigen, or Ms Durant, or even Mrs Fishel, in which case, I'm willing to entertain suggestions. In a comment, nominate someone for suspect-status, if you think you have a good reason!
  • Is the person who put the Photo in Question on my car the same person who put the Calendar ad on my car? Are there two culprits?!
I know that I could just forget about this whole thing, and perhaps "accept it as the universe saying hello," as Ms Oswald has said to me, but when the universe hands me a puzzle, I want a solution! At the very least, I'd like a clue as to where the photo was taken--if there's a Lady Slipper spot in our area, I want to know about it, so I can go there and see the flowers for myself. 

--And just to be clear about it, I'm not mad--I'm amused! I hope you are, too. (This has been a nice way to begin the school year.)


  1. I had a lovely before school coffee with Ms. Flaherty and Ms. Ball last week in which we were all looking at a copy of the MN Conservation Volunteer, which seemed to be in Ms. Ball's possession. I have had several interesting classroom relics of Ms. Ball's show up secretly in my classroom or mailbox (old grammar book, plastic insect, photo of a blue parrot, etc.) My strategy has been to take said relic, dress it up in a paper costume, and return it to Ms. Ball ding-dong-ditch style. That has been pretty effective at preventing further relics coming my way. She seems a likely suspect according to my logic, which is far superior to that of Ms. Momsen. Also, have you considered the STRONG possibility that you are dealing with 2 different suspects here? Good luck!

    1. I find this very interesting, Ms Kiero. I had a chance to ask Ms Ball about it and her behavior was quite suspect. She wouldn't answer my direct question! I believe I am dealing with two suspects...Thanks for the tip, and, yes, your logic is very good!