Month: June 2015

An Early Summer Walk, Part II: Unexpected Treasures

I suppose part of the allure of these floriferous outings is that there is no telling what you will find or what may happen.

I hear that on one field trip with a class full of students, the human female somehow lost her balance and fell into a large patch of cockleburrs. Now, I can bestride the stars and move between realms, but I cannot yet travel through time. The minute I DO achieve time travel, I am going straight back to that moment. I cannot be the only person who would pay money to witness that event. I will charge admission to view her humiliation and become exceedingly wealthy. (Now that I think about it, I am certain I WILL invent time travel and go back to that momentous field trip, because I have a suspicion as to how she came to tumble in the first place…)

Speaking of accidents, be careful, mortals! Watch where you tread, you clumsy oafs*! Do you not see this oologous treasure?

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Is there someone here who can tell us what manner of bird misplaced its offspring? No? Then I shall declare myself the Ornithologist du Jour and proclaim that this is the egg of the Lesser Spangle-breasted Wood Nordler.

If I am wrong, prove it.

This is also a bit unexpected, but not really a surprise:

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Sigyn and I have encountered this excruciatingly orange fungus before. The more I study fungi, the more intrigued I am by their chitinous omnipresence.

Oh, now this passionflower is a little jewel of a plant, very easy to overlook but exquisite in its delicate detail. Sigyn likes its intricate blossoms and its history in folklore.

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I like its springy, whip-like tendrils. I also like the way Sigyn’s hair shines in the sun. Whatever shampoo you are using, dearest, it is really working for you.

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* Or should that be “oeufs”?

An Early Summer Walk, Part I: Short Botanist, Tall Tales.

Against my better judgment, I have allowed myself to be dragged on yet another planty walk by Sigyn and the human female. If I trusted her to get my beloved home safely in one piece, I would gladly stay at home, but alas! I must go along to see that no harm befalls. She has a few of her botany-nerd friends along today as well. Their goal? To look at the early summer flowers and see what all the recent rain has accomplished. It is far too early in the morning to be so chipper. They are all busy pretending that it isn’t a million degrees out here already. And it is humid enough that I think I just saw a fish swim by at eye-level.

It is like taking a field trip in a crock-pot set on low….

Sigyn has found something. Show me, my sweet. Ah, trust you to zero in on the poofy things first! The human female says this is a small, herbaceous Acacia. Really? An Acacia? If that is the case, then where are the giraffes?

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Ah ha. I thought so. She was wrong! Now she is saying that she was mistaken and it is a Desmanthus known as "I’ll-annoy Bundle-flower." Bundle of mis-information, more like.

Here is one I have not seen before. Something leguminous, by the look of it. Sigyn thinks it is a beautiful color, and I concur.

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The human female has cast aspersions on its morals and announced it to be a "Whorey Pea."

That can’t be right.

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Sigyn, what are you doing? Yes, I can see that you are hanging upside down on that electrically blue flower, but why? Oh. Well, if it can’t bear even your slight weight, let go and Loki will catch you. Ehehehehe: The human female is telling a story about how the plant got its name. (She is known to be fanciful and I do not believe it is true, but it is a good story.) She says that the flower has two large blue petals and one very tiny, insignificant white one. The great botanist Linnaeus named this plant called it Commelina, after the Commelijn family of Dutch botanists. The older two brothers were eminent scholars, while the third did relatively nothing. If they still confer plant names on lazy botanists, I am surprised that there are not a double dozen species named after the short woman at the front of this traipse-along…

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How did that get there?

Sometimes the humans’ refrigeration unit seems to be empty, but more often there isn’t room to squeeze so much as a lima bean in there. Open the door, things fall out.

Deli goodies get hidden, condiments go missing. Where did the last orange wander off to? Didn’t they have feta cheese? The female swears they did; the male isn’t sure… They forget what is lurking at the back. This is where all the plastic containers have gone to. Unlabeled leftovers turn into semi-sentient entities. It’s a cross between a treasure hunt and an episode of “Hoarders.” And then–O happy day! Something like a long-lost, half-empty jar of peanut butter comes to light and meets up with its twin (also half-empty) and it becomes clearer why there are space problems.

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These two jars can party with the full jar waiting in the pantry.

And that just-purchased broccoli has a doppleganger in the crisper drawer.

Of course, it doesn’t help that they’ll blindly buy whatever ends up on the shopping list, no matter how it gets on there.*

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* Which explains the three jars of ground coriander in the cupboard and the unopened bottle of pomegranate molasses, circa 2006.

What a nice surprise!

The human female has taken her overseas book package out in the sunshine to open it.

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Look, Sigyn–look at all the funny animals and pretty plants! I think you’ll like this book!

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But I’m not sure you’re going to be able to read it! Let me see if I can make some of it out. “Once upon a time, between Easter and Pentecost…” By my pointy pagan helmet (which I am not wearing, because it is hot out here today) this book seems prepared to mix religion and plants and little animals wearing shoes. Turn the page, and let’s see how it goes on.

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Judging by the squealing noises she is making, I suspect the human female bought it for the illustrations alone. Apparently, though the entomology is a bit dodgy (bees with buckets?!), the flowers are depicted well enough that they can be identified to genus.

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Blah, blah, blah Campanula, blah, blah, Convolvulus and Briza…. Isn’t she curious about the text at all? “Smudgeman Mole, his wife, and three Malwine boys, all in shiny velvet coats… had not the slightest sense for horticulture…” This book is bizarre!

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Why are the dung beetles wearing shoes? What does a grasshopper put in its pipe? What has the mouse in the apron so exercised–the grasshopper squatting on his compost heap, the unfinished barrowing the beetles have scuttled away from, or the headlines in today’s paper??

I have so many questions.

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Oooo! What did we get?

The human female came home yesterday to find one of those annoying “we-tried-to-deliver-a-package-but-you-weren’t-home-so-now-you-have-to-take-off-work-to-come-down-and-get-it” notes stuck to the door. But packages are always fun.

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A trip to the post office provides various opportunities for entertainment. Sigyn likes to check her weight on the scale.

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I think you’re perfect sweetie, but if you really want to know, I’ll punch the buttons for you. Hold on a minute. Okay, now it’s working.

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Very petite and trim! That would make air travel for you very, very inexpensive. I’m serious! I’m not sure the humans are going to get a vacation in this year, but maybe we could mail ourselves to someplace fun…

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Ah. It’s our turn at the window now. Sigyn thinks the loaner pen is nifty.

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Wow! Look at the package! It is from a foreign country and is covered with interesting stamps, including one with flowers.

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The customs label says, “Book.” Hurry, mortal! Aren’t you curious? Open it!

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

Especially if it comes at someone else’s expense.

I shall elaborate.

The human female, being a “delicate flower” and a genetic hash of undesirable traits, can be counted upon to do whatever the doctors least expect. Earlier this month, she received a routine immunization. Against, I might add, a disease which she has already had but would prefer not to have a second time. Two days later she felt ill and her arm was blotchy red, swollen, and hot, sure signs of either a scary but non-threatening adverse reaction (boring) or a massive incubating infection (slightly more interesting.)

She betook herself to the walk-in clinic, where the physician’s assistant told her, essentially, to grow up and stop whining. On the off chance that the arm was indeed infected and preparing to fall off, the PA agreed to place a prescription for antibiotics on file at the local pharmacy, to be filled if needed.

Soon after that, it became clear that the arm was on the mend (yawn), and the prescription was forgotten.

Imagine the human female’s surprise when a week or so later, a package arrived for her in the mail:

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Mail-order delivery of pharmaceuticals is one of the things Midgardians have which usually works very well. If I am not involved…
How shall I befuddle thee? Let me count the ways.

1. Prescription sent to mail-order pharmacy rather than the local apothecary

2. Filled immediately, not on file

3. Wrong dosing instructions (3 times daily for 10 days vs. twice daily for 7 days)

4. Wrong drug entirely   Not even the same class of antibiotics

The look on her face as she tried to make sense of this was worth any amount of trouble on my part. Listening to her grind her teeth through four separate phone conversations with four different people trying to explain just how wrong this all was gave me the biggest laugh I’ve had in weeks. She was quite dramatic, explaining how she was too clever to have taken the drugs without thinking, but if she had and had been allergic, she might have died. (!) Or if she had truly needed them and they had been a week coming and not immediately to hand, she might have died. (!!) And how she did not want to pay $20 for a drug she did not need or ask for. Oh, the outrage! Ehehehehe! Imagine a small, irate, puffed-up bird hopping up and down and cheeping indignantly and you will not be far wrong.

I am now checking how much this spare doxycycline will fetch on the black market and…. Rats. It won’t buy Sigyn and me a vacation, or even a nice dinner, but perhaps we can split a cupcake and rent a movie. Oh, well, I’m not in this for the money.

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The Promise of a Garden

The human female has just about given up on planting much this year. Overnight, the weather has jumped straight from apocalyptically rainy to hot enough to fry small plants in one afternoon. It is as if someone flipped a cosmic switch. (Note: Not I! I do not care for heat.) It is certainly too hot to start anything

It doesn’t stop the human female from dreaming, though. She looks wistfully at the seed packets but has pretty much given seeds up as colorfully packaged snacks for bugs and fungus and the colorful photographs and descriptions as so much horticultural fiction.

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Besides, for one with two plant-related degrees, she has a surprisingly brown thumb. Her best crop is excuses. "The city water’s too salty." "My soil has too much clay." "I don’t have enough time." Moan, moan, moan.

Sigyn has garden dreams. Mostly, Sigyn dreams of a whole garden full of red flowers.

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In addition to the flower seeds, this shop has a plethora of vegetable seeds, though it seems sure that vegetables sold by a company called "Burpee" are bound to give one massive indigestion.

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The human female loathes, abominates, and despises both beets and cantaloupe. I think I’ll give her something to justifiably whine about and plant some of each in her one flowerbed that actually grows anything. Spin the rack, Sigyn. If they have any horseradish seeds, we will purchase some of those as well. I believe that would be what Midgardians call a "trifecta."

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