By (Hounds)tooth or nail


This was an amazing prompt from fantasticab,  Rae and Finn have the same cushion so how did Karim come about the houndstooth! 

Sprawled on the couch, weary limbs cast in every direction. On a cobbled street a couple were viciously shouting at one another gesticulating boldly. Karim shook his head, his English was improving greatly since he was able cross the threshold of number 18 unfortunately with his new found vocabulary Karim found that the watching tv hadn’t improved.  Karim’s fingers itched towards the remote, flicking his eyes towards the kitchen door as his fingers hovered over the buttons. Linda appeared at the door sleeves rolled up, pink rubber gloves adorned with suds slowing dripping to the floor in a small bubbly puddle at her feet. ‘Don’t. You. Dare. I’m. Listening. To. It.’ she hissed formidably, smiling sweetly she turned back into the kitchen. Huffing Karim settled back into the plush cushions. The front door swung open.

‘Rae, you are early’ Karim greeted her, glad of the distraction from the warring couple on the tv screen. Rae blushed slightly. ‘Urm yeah Finn wasn’t feeling too well so I thought I would leave him to rest ’ . ‘Rae, love. How was Finn’s?’ Linda said emerging from kitchen. Rae was bouncing on her toes, her eyes darting to the stairs behind Karim.

 ‘Fine he was a bit ill so I left it was fun we listened to some music and stuff his Da has some great tunes you should see his living room you’d like it loads of room just like it’s out of one your mags that you leave in the bathroom he has these cushions what is that Women’s Way calls them…urr scatter cushions they are like black and white, houndstooth yeah? they smell divine that smell that boy smell you know, sweat and ck one anyway super busy busy I have to write this essay for English about well nevermind I wouldn’t bore you with it’ in a movement so fast Rae was up the stairs before Karim could process the long spiel that had come pouring from Rae’s mouth in one long breath. Hearing her door slam and the thumping of her music shake the ceiling, he glanced  at Linda, she was standing in the middle of the room, staring at the light fixture, her brows were creased and plaited, the tension and worry visible in her ramrod straight body.  Shaking her head she smiled wearily at him. ‘So what are Ken and Deirdre fighting over this week?’


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One of the most popular ghost stories of the Octagon House is that Dolley Madison is sometimes seen down in the drawing room, and that the scent of Lilacs often accompanies her ghost.

The oldest recording of the spirit of the First Lady is from 1912, when the Washington Herald reported that “…between midnight and dawn…there is a low hum of pleasant conversation, the sound of silver and the clink of glasses as a splendid company with gay liveried men drive up and take away the departing guests.” The article is referring to the ghostly continuation of one of Dolley’s famous parties.

In 1937 the book “Washington: City and Capital” stated that, “At midnight Dolley Madison is believed to hold court again among the shades of pretty women and stately men”

The 1941 book “Ghosts that Still Walk: Real Ghosts of America”, by Marion Lowndes, describes ghostly receptions held by Dolley, states that Dolley has been sighted in the front hall, and says that the smell of lilacs is noticeable whenever Dolley is present.

The Bethlehem Globe-Times in 1949 reported a story in which the mortal Dolley (while she was still alive) was distressed at the ghostly sounds in the Octagon and reportedly told her husband, “James sir, we’re going to move”.

Jacqueline Bouvier (later Kennedy) wrote an unpublished article about the Octagon in 1952 in which she reports that “in 1939 the wife of an army general stationed in Washington, on a tour through the house, smelled lilacs ‘so strong, so suffocating, wherever I turned that I could hardly breath.’”

The head of my department (my boss’s boss) has smelled lilac in the house before, and had no knowledge of the ghost story before she experienced it. (In fact, she asked my boss if she had spritzed a scent in the house earlier in the day, and was a bit dismayed to find that nothing had been sprayed). Later she did some research of her own and found the story of Dolley Madison’s perfume, and is now certain that’s what she experienced.

And a guest on one of my tours last week mentioned in passing that she liked the flowery lilac scent in one of the rooms (she said it reminded her of her grandmother).

On the other hand, I just found this bottle of fragrance oil in a filing cabinet by my desk. That being said, this is a pretty full bottle and was probably just used for Halloween tours in the past and doesn’t account for some of the older stories. My boss had no idea the bottle was in the filing cabinet until I mentioned it to her yesterday. So any ghostly scents in the house since at least May have been non-assisted.

Tumblr Prep! Thursday 11/15 at 7pm at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.

Celebrate the launch of Jen Adams’ The Books They Gave Me with a night of literary education starring Jen as English, Jason Oberholtzer of I Love Charts as Math, Phil Edwards of Fake Science as Science, and Michelle Legro of My Daguerreotype Boyfriend as History. 

Free drinks, school picture day with laser backdrop (courtesy of Have Booth Will Travel), brown bag PBJ/PBR specials, and more! Books will be for sale to benefit Housing Works, as will a Limited Edition My Daguerreotype Boyfriend 2013 Pin-Up Calendar. Enter the #bookstheygaveme contest for a chance to read on stage!

Are you coming to the Housing Work rehearsals with John and Hank Green on Monday, January 14th? If so, you have a shot at winning a pair of tickets to see them on Tuesday, January 15th at Carnegie Hall for “An Evening of Awesome” in celebration of the anniversary of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. We will be giving away a pair of tickets to this SOLD OUT show at both the morning and afternoon rehearsals.

Hope to see you there!


Join Tumblr at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe to celebrate Book Expo America and three amazing writers on 5/29 at 7pm.

John Darnielle (singer and songwriter from the Mountain Goats) will read from his forthcoming novel Wolf in White Van for the first time in New York!

Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl et al.) will read from Eleanor & Park, talk about her inspirations (hint: The Sunset Tree), and introduce her forthcoming novel Landline.

Catherine Lacey will read from her forthcoming debut novel Nobody Is Ever Missing.

There will be free drinks, Tumblr swag, and much meeting-up. Join us!

Announcing the Rehearsals of Awesome!

Attention Nerdfighters! We have some awesome news! In addition to January 15th’s live Carnegie Hall event, John and Hank will be doing two rehearsals on Monday, January 14 at Housing Works Bookstore in NYC!
A couple of things about these warm-up events:

  • There will be two, one at 11:30 AM and one at 3:00 PM on January 14th.
  • They will take place in the Housing Works Bookstore Café (Housing Works is located at 126 Crosby Street, New York, NY)
  • They ARE open to the public, but they are also ticketed events. Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase now. Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to Housing Works, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end the dual crises of Homelessness and AIDS. Find out more about Housing Works here.
  • Buy a ticket to the 11:30 AM show
  • Buy a ticket to the 3:00 PM show
  • The rehearsals will feature John and Hank only (no Mountain Goats or other special guest stars that are scheduled to appear at the Carnegie Hall event).
  • Signed books will be available for purchase at the venue, but there will not be a book signing following the presentation.
  • By purchasing a ticket, you are guaranteed admission; seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Tickets will be on sale till January 13.

That’s all the details! Hope to see you there. 

LIVE poetry event featuring Poet Laureate Philip Levine, 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner Tracy K. Smith, and two fantastic poets from the Tumblr community: Saeed Jones and Karolina Manko.

This Monday, April 23, 7 pm, at Housing Works Bookstore in NYC. Open bar. Amazing poetry. Poet Laureate. Pulitzer Prize Winner. Poets from the Tumblr community. Put it on your calendar and come out to celebrate poetry with us!