Month: March 2016

Kitchen Mischief

The humans have become stuck in a culinary rut.  They can’t think of anything to make for dinner.  It’s just easier to eat out or pick up something to take home.  The female, if she could, would subsist entirely on buttered toast.

That is why I put my foot down and demanded that one or the other or both of them get up off their backsides, drag their carcasses into the kitchen, and make something decent.  Do you know what the humans did?!  They LAUGHED.  At me!  Laughed, and kept eating tortilla chips right out of the bag.

At this rate, Sigyn and I will starve unless we take matters into our own hands.  Believe it or not, I am an excellent chef. Dearest, tonight we shall dine on something delectable with pronounceable components.

What shall it be?  Hmm. An examination of the contents of the freezer (it’s cozy in there) reveals a plethora of possible ingredients.  I believe we shall start with this choice bit of defunct bovine.  It will make a most toothsome stew.  One touch of my magic and it is instantly thawed!


Fisi,  your aid is not required.  I do need a good knife, though.


I like this one.


Next, we trim and cut up the beef.  Sigyn, this might be a bit gory for you. I will call you when the butchery is concluded.


Fisi!  Bad hyena!  What did I tell you?  Go to your room!

Now that we have the beef browning nicely in a heavy cast iron pot, it is time to commit alliacide.


I won’t let Sigyn help with this part, either.  I do not like to see her cry.  (And yes, I am using the vegetable cutting mat and not the meat one.  What sort of sloven do you take me for?)

The beef is done…


…so it is the onions’ turn.


Mmm.  Nothing in all the nine realms smells better than caramelizing onions.  (Except perhaps for the back of Sigyn’s neck.)

When the onions are niece and brown, we deglaze the pan with some good red wine.  Huh.  Looks like that was the last.  No nightcap for the humans!  Next, shovel the meat back in, and add some beef broth and seasonings.  I like parsley, oregano, and bay leaf.  The clove will go in near the end.  Otherwise, it all cooks out, and we can’t have that.


Always count the bay leaves so you can be sure to get them all out before serving.  They impart a certain savor, but they do not themselves taste good, they never get soft, and they can cut up one’s innards if eaten.


On second thought, if I decide to share a tiny portion of this good stew with the humans, little bits of this one are going in the female’s serving. She probably wouldn’t notice.  At first.

Now we just let this simmer for a few hours.  Sigyn, let’s take Fisi for a walk, shall we?  There’s nothing worse than a pouting hyena.


Now it’s veggie time!  Carrots, I think, and potatoes.  Yes, Sigyn, this is the part you might enjoy helping with.


That is a lot of carrots.  You peel and I’ll chop.  Do you want chunks or coins?


Coins it is!  And hats too, apparently.  Very fetching.

The potatoes go in about forty minutes to an hour before serving.


I’ve done enough peeling for one day, and we’re using the little white ones, so let’s just drop them in clothed.

What?!  No!  Stop! 

Grrr.  Unbelievable. The human female has just waltzed into the kitchen and “taken charge of dinner,” confiscating both my knives and my camera.  Now she’s going to play fast and loose with my seasonings and take all the credit for a big pot of delicious stew.  Ohhh, mortal, you are SO getting bay leaves in the next six things you eat and I hope you choke on them.

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Going to the Dentist is Supposed to be Good For You

Midgardians are encouraged to visit their dentist twice per year, just to make sure nothing is rotten or loose.  These mortals spend a lot of time and money on their teeth, and for what?  They get maybe ninety years out of them.  Pffft! That’s nothing!  I’ll have you know Jotuns NEVER have to go to the dentist.  Our teeth will last for millennia, we never get cavities, and, unless one is knocked out in battle, we never lose them.  Asgardians are much the same.  Proof again that Midgard is Yggdrasil’s lowest, least-highly-evolved branch, probably due for  a good, hard pruning. (Don’t blame me–I tried!)

Howsomever, Sigyn and I have accompanied the human female on a visit to her dentist.  We actually like going with her, because a) she gets tortured and has to PAY for it,  b) there are toys, and c) the dentist and hygienist there are quite friendly and never fail to greet us.  Still, Sigyn has had one or two little mishaps there, as have I.  So let us say we are cautiously enthusiastic.

What’s this?!  Our friendly dentist has retired?!  Great Frigga’s knitting needles, this is intolerable!  The new dentist seems friendly enough and is pleased to make our acquaintance, though.  I suppose we shall just have to get used to the new dentist, new front desk help, new decor, and new equipment.

For example, there is apparently a new, extra-powerful spit-sucker


Hold on, dearest–I’ll save you!

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A Most Delightfully Insidious Plant

Most of the time, when I accompany Sigyn and the human female on their little botanical forays, I’m just there to make sure that nothing happens to my beloved and to enjoy her delight in all things chlorophyllous and/or floriferous.  If it makes her happy, I will traipse among the posies on a daily basis.  But for myself–meh.

Occasionally, however, I find a plant after my own heart.  Take today, for instance.  A close inspection of the “lawn” outside the big metal building where the human female spends a lot of her time has revealed some tiny treasures blooming in the blue to violet end of the spectrum.


The human female says that there are Sherardia behind me, Veronica just beneath Gungnir’s tip, and Orobanche ramosa to Sigyn’s right.  Those first two are so puny they’re hardly worth my notice, but the Orobanche is intriguing.  Sigyn, can we see if there’s one blooming in the shade, please?  (I do worry about your fair complexion.)


That’s much better.  These flowers are quite interesting–purple and fuzzy and looking like little angiospermous hand puppets.  What’s that, Sigyn?  Good gracious–you’re right.  The plant has no leaves!  No green parts at all.  I wonder why that is?

Ah.  Now the human female has hauled out her portable soapbox and is going on (and on, and on) about this pretty little thing.  Oh, ho ho!  It is a most marvelous, malicious member of the Orobanchaceae, a family consisting of parasitic plants!  This demure-but-pernicious species parasitizes a wide range of host plants.  Amazing! That would explain why the surrounding plants look a mite peaked.  Apparently, it is a worldwide problem, causing millions of dollars of crop losses in parts of Midgard.  Its seeds are like dust, tiny and capable of clinging to animals, shoes, machinery, and vehicles. And they can lie dormant in the soil for decades.  Best part?  Herbicide doesn’t kill them!  If the plant is mature enough to flower, it has enough stored, stolen food to flower and set seed even if its host is killed.  It was inadvertently brought to this part of the realm in 1997 and has encroached upon dozens and dozens of counties, with no hope of eradication.

orobanche 3

Sigyn is horrified, but I can see all sorts of uses for this.  First, I gather bushels of seeds.  Next, I make sure that every beet field on Midgard gets inoculated.  Then it’s the human female’s garden.  Then I hold the rest of the planet hostage.  Submit, or be sprinkled!

I take back every unkind syllable I have ever uttered about “boring plants.”  This little purple miracle may be the key to conquest!

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NOT Better Late Than Never

The human female has a regular routine for her orders from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things.  She puts the orders in ahead of time and has them arrive on Wednesday morning of the week before she needs them.  That way, if something goes wrong, she can get a re-ship on Thursday for Friday arrival, because Fed-up an Exhausted can’t do overnight air from Sunday to Monday, and by Tuesday it’s too late–8:00 a.m. labs.  She used to order two weeks ahead of time, but because my BAMN can be counted on to snarl things up somehow, she has moved that out to three to four weeks ahead, so she has time to unsnarl.  Or at least re-arrange the snarls.

So recently she ordered eighteen jars of Hydra, a tiny, freshwater invertebrate with a simple body plan and cunning little tentacles.  Actually, she ordered two packs of six jars each plus two singletons. Cheaper that way, but making two line items in BAMN for double the fun.  BAMN suggested she was ordering HYDRAulic machinery, so she had to settle for the “Biology Materials, subcategory specimens and cultures (not microbial)” code.  That’s pretty specific–the Department seems to be ordering a lot of “Miscellaneous” lately…

So, anyway, the Hydra arrived bang on schedule, and they were gorgeous!  Fat and happy and lively and budding. Tuesday, though, they were all stone dead.  Passed on to some Protostome Valhalla.  Cue funereal dirges.

Well, since it was Tuesday afternoon before the human female was informed of the mass suicide pact, when she called the Purveyor of Squiggly Things, she was told that thehad missed the window for shipping Tuesday for Wednesday arrival.  They did, however, promise to ship Wednesday for Thursday arrival, so at least the Thursday labs could see live Hydra.

Well, Wednesday came and went, with a reassuring shipment notice.  Thursday arrived.  No Hydra in the morning delivery.  No Hydra in the afternoon delivery. The last labs of the week finished late on Thursday, Hydra-less.

At four-forty p..m. on FRIDAY, the human female got a call from the front office that she had a parcel waiting for her.  Thirty hours late.  Cue cranky phone calls.  Bad weather, blah, blah, blah.  Planes delayed, blah, blah, blah.  REFUND, blah, blah, blah!  I’ll give the human female this–she is tenacious.  She knows it’s Fed-up and Exhausted’s fault, but she got the Purveyor of Squiggly things to refund a good chunk of the price of the Hydra.  She told them they could pester Fed-up and Exhausted for their refund.

So what does one do with sixteen jars of now-unneeded Hydra? Labs are over for the week, and it is now Spring Break.


Well, if one is Sigyn, one squeals at how cute and tiny they are.  Then one plays Funhouse Mirrors with the jar’s refractive properties.


Sigyn, my love, you appear to have two of each shoulder.


If you are the bloody-minded, science-driven human female and her Prep Staff, you set up an experiment with four treatments.  Eight jars go into the regular animal room at 72 degrees F, and eight go into the walk-in cooler at about 38 degrees F.  Four jars in each location remain unfed, and four will be served with the leftover live Rotifers left from this week’s labs.  (They’re the only things on hand small enough for Hydra to eat.)  We shall see what conditions they prefer, so maybe the next batch will survive long enough to actually be studied by students.

In the meantime, this semester’s students have had to content themselves with this truly amazing video of Hydra tearing itself a new mouth any time it wants to eat something.

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Update:  Hydra, or at least those provided by the Purveyor of Squiggly Things, prefer to be fed and housed at 72F.  Apparently it is only Hydra from Alternate Purveyor of Squiggly Things who prefer to “chill out” in the cold room.  The more you know.


Seasonal Midgardian Art

While the humans are napping-off the effects of too little sleep/multiple long liturgies/too many jellybeans, Sigyn and I have come up on campus to see what’s on display in one of the museums.  Yes, it’s a weekend. Yes, it’s a holiday weekend.  Yes, it’s a holiday weekend and the doors are locked until Tuesday, but when has a locked door ever slowed me down?

This is what we came to see–a whole exhibit of painted eggs.


No, Sigyn.  I don’t think they’re real.  I think they’re wooden.  I like the one in shades of green, waaay back in the corner.  Which one is your favorite?

Look all you like.  When you’re ready, we can head back home.  I’ve heard there might  be strawberries and Blue Bell…

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In Which We Meet the Fell Beast At Last

Sigyn wants to go look at the vetch in the front yard again, before it fades away.  (The human female says it’s a “wildflower” and “pretty,” but it’s really just a weed she’s too lazy to pull.)


Fandral’s mustache! Sigyn, do you see that?


Do you suppose…?  For years, we’ve been hearing tales about the Eater Bunny, vicious devourer of small children and hapless livestock.  You and I have encountered rabbits previously, and last year we assumed we’d proven the tales to be false, but this thing is so huge…


Aww.  It’s cute!  Maybe this one is friendly too and–


Avaunt, fell beast!  Release my beloved before I blast you into hasenpfeffer!


Kick, Sigyn, KICK!  You have to keep him from swallowing!


Quick!  I’ll hold his mouth open while you escape!  SPIT HER OUT, you lapinaceous hellspawn!

Sigyn, dearest, are you all right?  If he has harmed one hair on your precious head, I will flay him alive and make buntings for all the babies in the neighborhood!  Norns’ nighties!  That was close!

Wait!  What are you doing?


Once again, Sigyn’s rapport with animals carries the day.  Ride the bunny all you like, my love.  I’m right behind you, and if he so much as twitches a whisker, I will pith him on the instant.

You heard it here, folks–the Eater Bunny is real

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Dragged Into the Field Yet Again

The human female has returned to the scene of one of her crimes.   You may recall that back in October, she went to a field day in a neighboring county, for which she was given a gift she didn’t deserve, which is just the same as stealing.  The nature folks invited her back out to their property again today.  Sigyn and I have come along to see what the spring flora is doing.

It’s making flowers, that’s what it’s doing!  Before we even left the sandy yard around the house, we found these astonishing blossoms.


Um, is that the proper color?  I seem to remember that these should be BLUE.  There are also some white ones, some purple ones, and some lavender ones.  I wish I could say that I used my magic to make them different and more interesting, but I can’t take the credit.  Blame the human female.  When she’s around things often go wrong, even when I’m NOT involved.

(That’s not to say I haven’t contributed to today’s fun.  I knocked the human female’s hat out of her arms as she was loading all her clobber into the car this morning, so she arrived without it.  She looks even worse than usual in a borrowed hat.)

Onward!  It is a very pleasant day, not too hot, and not too bright to photograph white flowers.


Oh, do be careful, dearest!  Not only do you look precariously perched, but this Rusty Blackhaw is drawing bees!  While you’re hanging there, note the thick growth of reddish-brown hairs on the undersides of the leafstalks.  The human female says that’s how this plant got its name.

These blackberry blossoms show up nicely too.


This is not the usual local dewberry. No, this one is more upright.  Ow! But no less prickly!  Ow! Anyone who aspires to pie is going to have to offer a blood sacrifice.  Blast it!  My only consolation is that the human female is getting similarly shredded.

Perhaps we could turn to this tree for relief.  It’s a little known fact that willows grow in all nine realms (or did grow–Jotunheim and Svartalfheim have been just a tad ruined), and on each of them the bark is used as a relief for pain.


Sigyn, if you want to gather some of the thin, whippy branches, I will help you make baskets later.  It’s good for that, too.

Ehehehehehe!  The human brought her garish red rubber boots just so she could poke around in any wet spots.  Such as the fine pond. Now, I’m not saying whether I “did” or “did not” poke a hole in her right boot, but here is a hint: she is currently doing the AckIhaveawetsock Dance.  Whatever may be offshore is going to be left unmolested.


FINALLY! After a morning of Traipsing About, it is time to head back to the house with its wine and cheese capacious veranda so we can peer at the samples we’ve collected and identify the ones the human female wasn’t sure of.

Such as this Fuzzy Phacelia.  (No, really!  That’s what the book says is its actual name– Fuzzy Phacelia!)  Definitely not to be confused with #2., Smooth Phacelia…


Ehehehe!  Sigyn, are you sure it isn’t Scallopy Hatweed?

Idunn’s little green apples!  This one is called Rare Loco Milkvetch!


You can tell the human female wrote this book–she made up the names, I just know she did!  They sound even better if you read them out loud with a sideshow barker’s voice:  “Step right up, ladies and gents, and see the Rare Loco Milkvetch!  Not too close there, sonny boy, it’s been known to bite when cornered!”

Um, I don’t generally babble.  I think I may have gotten too much sun.  Sigyn, gather up your flower hat and let’s shoo the human female towards the car and head home.

With one more stop so my sweetie can study the trees, of course.


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A Simple, Soupy Supper

There is a Midgardian children’s rhyme about a footwear-obsessed woman punishing her supernumerary offspring by providing them only potage for their supper and then sending them straight to their nightly repose.*

Clearly, Midgardians view the consumption of soup as a penitential act.  Or at least that’s how I read it.  It makes sense, then, that the humans are preparing and serving a simple soup supper as one of the final acts of their yearly Lenten observances.  (I’d say “festivities,” but Lent’s not supposed to be festive.  Perhaps it should be Lenten “miseries.”

Oh.  Hmmm. Perhaps it won’t be too bad.  Look, Sigyn, there is a marvelous salad.


Which is apparently not for the soup supper.  How disappointing!  No, it looks as if we shall be saladless.  And breadless, just as in the quaint little jingle about bad parenting.

Different mortals have concocted different soups.  Vegetarian chili, potato, split pea…  All homemade and lovingly simmered.  What have the humans I know brought?


Look, Sigyn–they’re CHEATING!  Yes, I know they’ve had “the busy week from Hel,” but everyone else managed to make the time to actually cook, so no sympathy from me.  What kind of soup comes in a screaming yellow packet, anyway?


Made from scratch my eye!  How lazy can you get?!  Just add water and it’s soup already.  Pfft.  No love there.

Personally, I went for the chili.


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*With surreal juvenile literature like that, Asgard’s tales of world-binding serpents, eight-legged horses, etc. seem distinctly less fantastic.




Spreading the Annoyance Around

See this little orange box with its round black snout?  It’s my latest nice bit of mischief.


It is a fancy, very expensive video camera that can be attached to a microscope to capture whatever is going on under the microscope and send it up to a television in one of the teaching labs.  A wonderful invention.  When it works.

But it doesn’t work. I was merely practicing some of my unarmed combat maneuvers and something inside proved to be of decidedly inferior craftsmanship.


Because funds are tight and there isn’t room in the budget for new electronics, the human female is trying to be Resourceful.  She has called the manufacturer.  She explained to them that yes, it is definitely out of warranty; no, she doesn’t have the original invoice (its purchase predates her tenure); and no, she can’t afford to replace it.  Some of my silver-tongued skills must be rubbing off on her, because the manufacturer has actually agreed to take a look at it–free of charge.  It’s probably hopeless, of course (my money’s on toasted power supply), but Midgardians can be so foolishly, naively hopeful.  It’s almost endearing.  Almost.

So she’ll pack it all up by the numbers–one camera, one copy of the RMA form, two boxes, two layers of padding, ship-to address in three places, four copies of the shipping label– and send it on its way via Unrepentant Package Squashers.

In the meantime, the human female and her Prep Staff have put a spare camera in the lab this defunct unit came out of.  It was their last spare.  And it works all right, but its little connector cable is too short to reach the microscope in that particular lab.  Time to order another cord!  With BAMN.  Ehehehehe!

I am so bad.

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