Month: September 2020

I’m Sure This is a Metaphor, Part III: I Could Say Something Cutting, But It’s Nearly-Wordless Wednesday.

Scissors are handy, and the humans own several pairs. Some have specific uses—fabric, embroidery thread, etc.— but most are general purpose. Sometimes they are findable, and sometimes the humans swear there was a pair here just a minute ago…

I like to keep them on their toes by moving the scissors about. There might be a pair in this drawer.

(Plus the pair on the coffee table…)

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I’m Sure This is a Metaphor, Part II: Holding It All Together

The human female is elbow-deep in this junk drawer now, and it has become apparent that the humans have a fixation with fastening things to other things. Probably a sublimated desire to keep their lives from falling apart. (I’m sure I don’t help with that. Ehehehehehe!)

The first thing that is obvious is that, Sleipnir’s fetlocks!–they have never thrown a twist-tie away in all their lives.

Look at this! Unclench, woman! Some of this has got to go. Yes, I know that they won’t recycle, unless you’re willing to sit and strip the paper off the wire of each one of these. You’re not? Hypocrite.

Sweet toothy Fafnir! It’s not just twist-ties. Behold the proliferation of paperclips!

This polychromic assortment is but a tiny sample, culled from the generous handful that are scattered throughout. Most of the others are the standard silver sort in a variety of sizes. I am keeping this waspy-looking stripey one and I will probably abscond with the airplane-shaped one as well.

From paperclips to binder clips. (clip!) I swear (clip!) these things are (clip!) BREEDING in here. Nothing for it (clip!) but to fashion (clip!) some sort of centipedal vertebral model (clip!) so that they all stay together.

Is it art? Or it house cleaning? You decide!

The humans appear to have considered all their options for hanging things.

This is not counting the half pound of blue-tak the female had holding up all the colorful cards on her office wall.

And it’s not just hanging. We are prepared for any sort of gluing emergency that may arise.

Any sort of gluing emergency.

Instructions for a glue so noxious the human female won’t use it in the house. The fumes cause dain bramage or something.

And now we come to the tape.

Blue painter’s tape, masking tape, and package sealing tape (which we could actually us more of. I’ll have to make sure it is omitted from the shopping list until after it becomes critical at Yuletide.)

The humans are well-provided for when it comes to the other sort of tape:

Not one, not two, but THREE rolls! Plus some sort of gimmicky little dispenser thing. This sort of accumulation is what can happen when “someone” tells both humans separately that tape is needed for giftwrapping. I think I shall suggest that the human female store some of this away with the wrapping paper, gift bags, and tissue paper. I shall then suggest to the male that since there is only one roll in the drawer, more is needed come December. And because a three-pack is more economical…

Humans are so gullible. “We need tape.” “This paperclip might come in handy.” “Cleaning out this drawer will bring me closer to perfection.” Dream on, mortal. Dream on.

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I’m Sure This is a Metaphor, Part I: Where None Dare to Go

The human female is still on her cleaning and organizing kick. We all know it won’t last, but it’s amusing to watch her try to assemble order out of chaos.

chaos (noun): lack of order or intelligent design

What’s her latest project? I will give you a hint. It is roughly the same size as a breadbox, and it is so terrifying that the human male will, on principle, do without something rather than approach the Maw Which Swallows All Things to seek it.

Of what do I speak? Gird your loins. We’re going in…

The junk drawer under the toaster. All hope abandon, ye who enter.

Great Frigga’s hairpins! What a mess! This is what happens when you don’t have a pocket dimension to store odd bits and bobs in. Random objects, big and small, just get chucked in here, willy-nilly. (Mostly nilly). They sit in there for an indeterminate amount of time. A month? A year? A decade? Who knows! Sorting this lot out is not going to be quick. We may be here all week.

I mean, first we have to figure out just what all of this cr@p is. These two plastic bits: Want to take a guess?

If memory serves, the gray thingy used to be part of the dishwasher. I seem to recall posting about how I loosened this and it came off and then there was nothing stopping the top rack from sliding all the way out of the machine… Probably, but I can’t be arsed to go back through the archive and find the post. I just remember that the human female tried bending the track the rack wheels run in to keep this part in place, but no go. Why she’s hung onto it when it can’t be put back in I have no idea.

But what’s the black thing? It has a hole, so obviously it’s supposed to go over something… And it’s rubbery, so it goes over something quietly and…grippily. Again, no idea.

Go ahead and dispose of them, woman. (And I’ll be sure to see that you remember what they’re for and how important they are after the trash has been picked up…)

Ah, keys.

There is an actual written Midgardian law that all junk drawers must contain at least one key for which the use is unknown. The same law stipulates that such a key may not be discarded, under penalty of prosecution. Probably dates back to some Medieval locksmith’s guild or something. In any case, the humans are in double compliance, because the purpose of only one of these is known with any certainty. The thing that looks like a baby’s-nose-cleaning-syringe is for adjusting the programmable thermostat manually. I’m not sure why it’s needed, since one can just poke it or control it via smartphone. I, of course, can just brush it with a wisp of magic whenever I want to make the humans too hot or too cold. The wedge-shaped key might go to the freezer in the garage. Or it might not. The magnetic one? Pffft. Nobody knows.

Now, these, I recognize!

They’re for putting holes in things, making confetti, and removing the peppercorns from Genoa salami slices. They make a satisfying bloingy noise when used, and I love to make it so that the little covers that are supposed to keep the punch dots contained always come off at inopportune times and scatter paper bits everywhere. Now, why the humans have two of them is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they each had one before they were wed? Clearly this one on the left is superior because it has this extra, useless finger loop thingy.

Two hole punches might be understandable, but what is with three partial bottles of technical pen ink?

Why three? Why start a new bottle when the old bottle(s) aren’t finished? Why aren’t these with the technical pens? Why do they have different product numbers? How ancient are these, anyway? I have questions, people, questions.

Whew! We’ve only just begun and I already want a break. I shall close with the following:

Which of these statements is/are true? Answers in the tags.

  • Salami was originally made from–are you ready for this?–donkeys
  • Waterproof ink is made with bug juice
  • The first recorded record for a paper hole puncher was published in 1889, when a man named Benjamin Smith helped create spring-loaded hole puncher that had a receptacle to collect those little clips.
  • The humans’ freezer was once burgled. The thieves stole ice cream, pizza, and all manner of meats. They left a trail of roasts and chops in the shrubbery as they fled.

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A Steadfast Ally

I have been remiss. I have not heretofore mentioned or introduced one of my most stalwart allies. This is a grave oversight, for truly, I have done some of my best mischief in concert with the internet service provider known affectionately as Suddendrop.

The humans are watching a movie on a streaming service and the plot has advanced to the critical stage? Poof.

The human female is Zooming with her mother and sister of a Sunday afternoon? Bye-bye.

Download of a huge directory of files is *almost* complete? So sad.

The human female is trying to blog, or do an online jigsaw puzzle, or read a fic, or check the weather. Sorry, no can do.

It’s fall, and people everywhere are getting stupidly excited about how green leaves turn to russet and scarlet.

For me, there’s no better time than when that green light turns to orange.


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It’s not always the large mischiefs that are my best work. Sometimes it’s the small, nagging, niggling things that mess with the human female just enough to keep her off-balance and have her questioning her control over her life and her surroundings.

Case in point: She’s been organizing and decluttering and trying to generally un-munge the house recently. Find a trouble spot? Eliminate it! She somehow has the notion that if only she can achieve a base level of tidy, it’ll all be maintenance thereafter.

Snort! I just I keep making new trouble spots.

The more inexplicable, the better.

This is why I make sure the this one spot of sealing gasket on top of the fridge door collects stains, crumbs, and…things.

She can’t figure out how. After all, it’s not as if the freezer above is showering down a rain of detritus, or that everyone who opens the fridge does so with very dirty hands and by the top of the door rather than the handle. She keeps cleaning it up. And yet every single day, more. . . stuff.

It’s the housework equivalent of a pebble in the shoe or a loose tooth.

Next up: that one corner of the bathroom that the shower door drips into when it’s opened and which collects dust, cat hair, and lint and always needs cleaning and that likewise daily drives her just a little bit further ’round the bend.

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Here a Neener, There a Neener, Everywhere a Neener-neener, Part II: New Releases (and possibly some shoving)

Yesterday we looked at plants we’d already seen recently. Nice, but a bit BORING. Where are the new things? I checked the calendar. It is FALL now. Show me fall things!! I demand fall things!

Ah. This is better. False foxglove. Shows up like clockwork the third week of September.

Sigyn and I have a fondness for this plant. Well, one of it’s relatives, anyway—the rare one that grows on that outcrop to the east of us. I wonder if we’ll get to visit the outcrop again this year?

What does one call that color, anyway? Pink? Purple? Pirpkle? Whatever it is, it seems to be a theme. (Trust Texas to have non-traditional fall color!)

The Beautyberry is quite conspicuous in the understory.

Gaudy, but great for dangling. (The one at the house does not have any fruit this year, on account of I let the tree-removers drop a big oak tree on it earlier this year and it is in the process of recovering.)

The Beggar-ticks has flowers the same color, only a few shades paler.

It has typical bean-family flowers and makes interesting little legumes (one of which is visible at the left end of the stem). They’re scalloped and break up into single-seeded bits that are just covered with microscopic hooked hairs, which makes them perfect for being dispersed by furry animals or clothing. I will keep an eye on this extensive patch, come back in a few weeks when they’re good and ripe, gather up a pound or so of them, and do a little experiment to see what happens when you dump them in the washer with a load that includes socks, sweatpants, and towels. (I’m all about the science.)

Looks like the Woolly Croton is doing well this year.

It has separate male and female flowers and is very, very furry.

Hey, I have an idea! Let’s see how well the Beggar-ticks stick to the Croton! A wildflower cage-match. It’ll be brilliant! I can sell tickets. . .

Whatever else Sigyn does on a nature walk, if she gets a chance to sit in a holly, she calls it a perfect day. The fruit on this Possumhaw are about half-ripe.

A little further along the path we have yellow rather than pirpkle. Unless I’m mistaken (which I rarely am), we are looking at Camphorweed.

That’s the flower head in the photo, but the wispy foliage to the left belongs to Horseweed, and the leaves to the right to another something else. (Sigyn, are you going to play ‘He loves me; he loves me not’ with the flower? Because I can tell you, if the ‘He’ is me; he definitely, definitely DOES!)

The something else those leaves belong to is, I think, Climbing Hempvine. The human female says, “it’s our only local viney member of the sunflower family or Asteraceae.”

She also says it’s related to the Mistflower. I can see that. Both have the same fluffy flower heads. There is certainly a lot of it here, sprawling over shrubs and climbing trees. It likes wet feet, so I imagine it is very happy here in the ditch by the path.

(That’s it, human female… Lean out over the wet ditch just a little bit more for the photo and it will be my perfect day… A little bit more… One good shove…)

Odin’s eyepatch! I hate it when she catches me plotting and removes herself to safety. I really, really wanted to see her sopping wet and muddy today! Oh, well. Maybe I will have another chance for mischief on the way home…

Hmm. There’s more water next to the sidewalk on the way home, a big floody area by the part of the wetland they didn’t build Large, Ugly Apartments on. I could push her down the slope into the Bagpod bushes…

Nah. She likes the clusters of redorangeyellow flowers so much and enjoys popping the seeds out of the inflated legumes enough that she’d probably just sit happily in the water enjoying the plant.

She wouldn’t like being pushed into the Horsenettles though. They have lovely flowers, but they’re very prickly.

In fact–ouch!–this member of the Nightshade genus–ah!— is– ow!—very unpleasant to sit in! I think I shall vacate! Besides, the sun has risen enough that it has cleared the surrounding trees and buildings, and it’s making me all squinty.

I don’t like squinty.

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Here a Neener, There a Neener, Everywhere a Neener-neener, Part I: Reruns

We are once again making our daily constitutional an act of defiance against the supposedly private path belonging to the Large, Ugly Apartments. What floral delights are on display today?

Looks like some things we’ve seen before, for starters.

We have a few last, confused Evening Primroses. What is wrong with you? You should have finished months ago!

With the advent of (somewhat) cooler weather, the proper fall flora is beginning to come into its own. Some are plants that we’ve seen recently but which are now putting on a better show.

The Mistflower is nearly as exuberant as my beloved. It is breezy enough and Sigyn dangly enough that no part of this photo is in focus.

The St. Andrew’s Cross has cooperated with a nice bloom this morning.

(sniff, sniff) No scent that I can notice, though. You could put a little more effort into things, you know, Mr. Hypericum.

More Fuzzy Bean. It and Sigyn are climbing all over everything.

The Late-flowering thoroughwort, which we looked at back in July, when it had only a few blossoms, is just covered now.

The one in the human female’s front flowerbed is similarly clothed. It is literally weighed down with bloom and is nodding over the lawn–where it will spawn hundreds of vigorous and inconvenient seedlings next spring (with a little encouragement from me, of course.)

Finally, we have the brilliant, electric-blue Dayflower.

We never get tired of this plant. If the human female is nice to me, I might try to establish a colony at the home, just so we can have a glimpse of this color every day. Goodness knows she’ll never manage it on her own.

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Never Fear

My readers have been quite vocal about their concern. “Loki,” they say, “With the human female retired from the University, how will you keep up with your mischief? Whatever shall you do?”

It is very kind of all of you to be worried for me. Rest assured, I am not idle.

First off, I have left quite a lot of residual mischief floating around Intro Bio. Two of the vendors that the human female used to deal with now have “punchouts” in the Aggie Buy purchasing interface, which allows for faster, easier chaos. Apparently, trying to order cuvettes for the spectrophotometers from Fisher now prompts a message in their new punchout that they can’t sell them to A&M anymore because of a deal A&M has with Another Vendor. I suspect that the “other vendor” is the Vendor Who’s Responsible.

The construction in Heldenfels is NOT finished. The teaching labs which were to move to the second floor are still waiting to have a usable space to move into. Workmen did, however, finally put the missing ethernet connections in the area of the third floor where one had been removed when the utility conduit was put in. In fact, they put four ethernet connections in. The fact that they put them all in room 319 (tiny, tiny prof office) rather than 318 (Techs’ office) is causing some consternation. The missing outlet in 318 was replaced, but it is on the wrong wall. But, hey! A completed work order is a completed work order!

And there is plenty to do here at the house, messing with the human female’s expectations about how retired life should go. She catches up on laundry; I wad the sheets up in the dryer so the middle of the mass doesn’t dry. She cooks up a new recipe; I make sure a perishable ingredient doesn’t get back into the fridge and is discovered too late to salvage. She tackles a “quick” organizing job; I make sure it takes half a day. She finds a serial drama she wants to watch on YouTube; I make sure it isn’t available in the U.S.

She resolves to get in some walking as many days of the week as she can; I make sure that the housekey that should be in her pocket…


Now she gets to sit on the front porch like a big, dorky milk bottle until the male gets home from the store.

The days are just packed.

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In Which Sigyn Finds Something Potentially Very Interesting

Some recent wet, cool(er) weather has resulted in a plethora of fungal exuberances. Right outside our own front door, Sigyn has discovered une pléthore de très petits champignons.

These are truly tiny. Some are no more than 1 cm tall, and they’re on fallen oak and elm leaves.

Ordinarily, I would just say, “Yes, very cute,” (referring to Sigyn), listen with half an eaer to her squeak with delight at such perfect miniatures, and then think of them no more. However, an acquaintance of the human female’s just happens to be visiting the her barium this week and he is the foremost mycologist in the state. The human female showed him the photo above, and he was most intrigued. He says they do not look like any species he knows.

He has sent this email:

I did a quick micro look at the mushroom.  The few spores I found did not
turn blue with iodine, so that should rule out the genus
Mycena.  It may be
a species of
Marasmius however I do not observe certain cells in the cap
Marasmius has.  I return home tomorrow and will look at some of my
monographs.  Good find!

Odin’s eyepatch! I have just performed the Google upon that genus name, and there are over nine hundred named species in that genus! Not all are white, not all are so tiny, not all grow in Texas, and many have very specific requirements as to substrate. Still, there must be a multiple species to which Sigyn’s little “shroomies” (her word, not mine) might belong. Still, Mr. Mycologist definitely has a feel for such things, so perhaps it is something new after all.

If they are a new species, I shall insist that he name it after my beloved.

Which will no doubt engender more squeaking.

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Is It a Plant—Or a Pet?

One of the human female’s techs gifted her with this strange object as a “You’re going; please don’t come back” gift.

I have no idea what it is. It’s an Erlenmeyer flask, with a twig, some pebbles, and a green, furry thing.

Sigyn wants to pet the green, furry thing.

I’ve been staring at it now for twenty minutes, and I still don’t know what it is. It certainly hasn’t done anything.

I don’t trust it.


Ah. This may provide some elucidation.

“Mossball Terrarium.” So this thing is a mossball. A ball, as it were, of moss.

I am unopposed to moss. (It is very comfy to nap upon.) But I think of moss as something land-loving, preferring shady nooks and tree trunks. I’ve never seen any under water.

Oh. What we have here is false advertising. It’s not a moss at all; it’s an alga. And they can live for centuries and be passed down as a family heirloom? Bizarre.

The instructions look simple enough.

It’s cute that someone thinks the human female won’t kill this in a month.

(a bit later)

I’ve been doing a little research. Apparently, these “mossballs” are so popular that there are numerous fakes about. According to my sources, it can be difficult to distinguish the the genuine from the ersatz.

We’ll see how long it takes the human female to notice when I replace hers with a ball of green dryer lint…

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