Month: October 2020

The Big Reveal

Sigyn and the human female put their little heads together about costumes for All Hallows Eve this year. I honestly have no idea what they’ve come up with. Sigyn assures me there is a theme, but she won’t tell me what it is. I’m supposed to see the human female to get my costume and then meet Sigyn in hers for the Big Reveal.

(later)

First, I would like to go on record as saying that I do not approve of this costume. Not one little bit. You want to see, though, don’t you? Sigh. Very well. If you laugh, I will turn you into a toad.

A toad would be better than a pea pod.

Human female, I owe you for this. You’ve just assured yourself of several more years of mischief, you can count on that.

But for my Sigyn, I will do anything. Now, where is she? She was supposed to be here.

Maybe she’s over there?

I think I see her over there…

(Just for future reference, walking in this getup is not easy at all. I cannot turn my head, and the pod is flapping about my knees. I feel like a dork.)

“I’m over here, Loki! Don’t you just love my flowerpot costume?”

Well I guess the “theme” is botany or plants or horticulture. Figures. Now that the human female has retired, it’s look at plants, read about plants, write about plants, look at more plants, draw plants, and, I suppose, torture Loki with plants.

“Hi, Sigyn! I see two beautiful flower pots. How do I know which one is you?”

(I’m not mad at Sigyn. No doubt this was mostly the human female’s doing. I will indulge my sweetie and play along.)

“Oh, there you are! You look lovely, my dear. That is a most becoming color and shape on you. The pink really brings out your eyes.”

“Thank you, Loki. Are you about ready to go?”

“Yes. I shall just go and fetch the traditional pillowcase for hauling home any candy we might encounter.”

“Hee hee hee! I know Loki doesn’t like his pea pod outfit, but he sure is cute in it. His bum wiggles extra cutely when he walks.”

“All right, Sigyn. I have fetched the pillowcase.

I am also bringing Gungnir, because if anyone makes a crack about this pea get-up, I want to be able to eviscerate them efficiently.”

“Sigyn, a thought occurs. Can you even walk in your costume?”

“Um, no? Not really? I can shuffle a little bit but it’s rather constricting around the knees.”

“I figured as much. No way can we seriously cover any useful terriotry if you can’t walk. Wait right here, though. I have an idea.”

“Here we go. Let me lift you in. If you can balance and manage the pillowcase, I can pull you.”

“The things I do for love.”

>|: [

Now We Are Really Getting Festive!

We are still in the Mostly Red Store. I have recovered from the trauma which resulted in once again seeing Thor’s stupid face absolutely everywhere I go. Come, Sigyn my beloved, let us go look at all the fun All Hallows merchandise!

Ehehehee! Now this is what I’m talking about! OOOooooOOOOO!

It’s like having a tiny little ossified apartment and looking out the window. I could spit on people passing by on the sidewalk down below!

We do seem to have struck the motherlode of fake skeletons. They get more and more ridiculous every year, with animals and animal parts that have never known the touch of bone represented in bony glory. Last year, there were spider skeletons. This year it’s……

Weiner dogs! I’d leap to rescue my fair Sigyn, except a) the dog is smiling, and b) I can hear her giggling. Probably because the idea of bone ear flaps is so, so absurd.

Spoooooky lamp:

The tentacles are a nice touch. It needs some real candles, though, not those little electric bulb thingies. Candles come in every scent now, you know. We could probably find some crypt scented ones if we looked hard enough.

Sigyn! Come over here–this part of the store is like a little arcade or amusement park! We can have our fortune told.

Happy Times Ahead“? What kind of an All Hallows sentiment is that? Find me some white-out and a Sharpie, Sigyn. I can fix this to say something like, “A handsome trickster will eat all your candy” or “No mask required; you’re ugly enough on your own.”

This is more like it!

The seat buckets swing freely, so be careful you’re not dumped out!

Supposedly Sigyn and the human female have sorted out costumes for us this year, but it might be fun to go look at what’s on offer.

Witch, superhero, ballerina, cat, vampire, superhero, princess, princess, cosw, princess… But, Sigyn! Look at this one, the one with the blue:

It’s a yeti costume! We could buy it and dress the human female up as Yelp! We could hand her a popsicle and she’d be all set!

Although the pink hippo on the left there might be more apt…

>|: [

Really Feeling the Spirit Now

It’s no secret that the festivities surrounding the upcoming celebration of All Hallows are going to be somewhat diminished this year. No trick-or-treaters, for the first time in living memory. You know what that means, don’t you?

More candy for me! The humans have a bag stashed away, and I know where it is. It would be kind of me to eat most of it. The male’s teeth don’t need the sugar and the female’s waist doesn’t need any part of a pound of Starburst.

Still, it never hurts to get a little more in the mood, so here we all are at the Mostly Red Market. Ostensibly, we are here to purchase some new non-stick frying pans, since someone (innocent whistling) in the house insisted on using the old ones on high heat, which absolutely ruined the non-stickiness. Sigyn, let us let the humans wander off to peruse the cookery vessels while you and I enjoy the more festive merchandise.

This establishment appears to be much in favor of fall decor. Sigyn is captivated by these ersatz apples that glow like precious gems.

Maybe we should by a bag. I believe the human female has not tasted this variety yet.

Look! Fake gourds to go with the fake apples!

Depending on how they are weighted, some of those might make interesting juggling props. Probably less messy than real pepos if you happen to drop one, too.

And here we have some seasonal literature.

Pffft! Those two Things aren’t that scary. You want something truly horrific, you take a look at the human female when she first wakes up, sometime. Now THAT is enough to frighten anyone!

Hmm. I guess not everything for sale here today is fall- or All Hallows-themed.

Unless there’s something inherently sinister about llamas or drinkware that I don’t know about… Exercise caution, my precious. I know you want to give it a hug, but llamas have quite a spitting range and I believe you are standing within it.

Oh, for the love of Jormungandr’s shiny little scales! Can I go nowhere without being reminded of my oafish “sibling”?!

I can only pray that one of the “activities” included in this book is smacking his stupid face. That would definitely put me in a holiday mood!

>|: [

A Bone-a-fide Interesting Exhibit

The human male’s last day at work will be Friday. After that no one in this house will have a reason to go up on campus, or any keys to get in anywhere.

I’m trying to make sure the humans go out with a whimper, not a bang. The human female’s former Prep Staff still don’t have a working phone in room 313. Their office isn’t finished yet, either. The construction on the second floor of Heldenfels is nowhere near ready. I like to think that I’ve trained the contractors very well and that my mischief legacy will bear fruit for many days to dome.

Sigyn and I are enjoying this last bit of access to take in the appropriately-seasonally-spooky collection of skeletons that Intro Bio has. Leaving aside the replica human skeletons that seem to end up wearing masks, goggles, sunglasses, scuba masks, etc. and which are often left by the students in positions such as reaching through their own ribs or picking their noses, there are a lot of lower vertebrate skeletons to look at.

Sigyn says she thinks she can be pretty brave around bones if I’m there. Don’t worry, my love. Just think of it as a little All-Hallows-Eve-y peek at what goes on inside our furry and scaly friends. Besides, I’m sure all these animals were happy to will their bodies to science.

Starting at the bottom, evolutionarily speaking, we have this finny fish.

Great Frigga’s hairpins! That thing has so many bones. Fish skeletons often get drawn as if they were like combs all the way down, but in the ribcage area, there are two rows– a row on what would be either side of the guts. This reminds me. I haven’t pulled the surprise-fishbone-in-a-bite-of-dinner prank to the human female recently. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Next up–amphibians. The frog, as you can see, takes the diametrically opposed approach to ribbiness–it doesn’t have any.

I has some wide projections on the vertebrae, but no ribs. And the dinkiest pelvis ever. Overachieving as to toes, though, so I suppose it evens out.

Ehehehehe! Sigyn, look at the salamander!

That doesn’t even look real. Are we sure that this wasn’t made up by some props department somewhere? Check the label and see if it says, “Made in Hollywood.”

Next up: reptiles! You can see that this turtle’s shell is actually part of its skeleton, outgrowths from the sternum and backbone, not just some armored-up flak jacket that’s completely separate from its body.

Effective, and it suits him well, but I’m glad to have all of my bony bits on the inside, thank you very much.

Birds are reptiles. Did you know that, Sigyn? The only real feature that separates birds from dinosaurs is that birds are still around today, while dinosaurs have long since shuffled off the ol’ mortal coil. Well, I guess some of them, the velociraptorish ones, sprinted off, but you get my point.

Eww! How would you like to have your fingers turned into little nubbins like that? If you could fly, I suppose it would sweeten the trade-off, but still. And look at the skull—see how the eye sockets indicate this pigeon could stand on Wednesday and see both ends of the week? Creepy, isn’t it? The human female can do that too! But DON’T try to imagine what she looks like without her skin. (shudder). That way lie nightmares!

Yes, my sweet, the monkey does have a very cute little skeleton. A bit like yours, I’d say, if you had a cunning little prehensile tail.

And could grab things with your toes. You could climb plants properly and hang on tight and you wouldn’t have to dangle from things. But I guess that would take about 67% of the fun out of nature walks, wouldn’t it?

Now just hold on a minute here! What is this armored dillo doing in the skeleton display? It still has its outside on!

Oh, right, right. You are absolutely right. I’d forgotten. The hard bits of its armor are indeed bone.

And right again–this is a mounted whole critter, not just the bones. Well-spotted, my petal.

And also, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the external ears aren’t part of the skeleton.

Have you had enough of looking at bones, Sigyn? I have too. Let’s go home. I think I know where the human female hid the All Hallow’s Eve candy.

>|: [

An Autumnal Perambulation– Fall Color!

The cooler weather means it’s no longer a hardship to go out and get a little exercise. There is certainly plenty to look at. While this part of Midgard does not, as a rule, enjoy a particularly colorful season in terms of changing tree foliage, there is some color to be had if you know where to look.

Shining sumac, at least, is holding up the red end of the fall spectrum.

Those red leaflets will soon fall off. Until they do, this is one of Sigyn’s favorite plants.

Look! There’s a tree that has begun to color up nicely!

Sweet glittering bifrost! Closer inspection reveals that this is not, in fact, a tree with colored leaves. Or rather, it’s a tree, and there are colored leaves, but they don’t belong to the tree. It’s a dead tree, completely enrobed in fall-tinted poison ivy. I wonder if I can trick the human female into collecting herself a a nice big sample …?

Farkleberry can always be counted on for some nice maroon tones.

How about fuchsia?

This little purslane is close kin to the larger moss roses people in these parts like to grow in the summer. With their succulent leaves, both kinds can take a lot of drought and heat, but fall is a good time to find these wild ones.

And finally, some floral fireworks in the form of exuberantly yellow goldenrod.

Sigyn, my treasure, you look mighty pretty up there! (Oh, and see the elm leaves in the background, human female? That’s what a native elm looks like. You’re welcome.)

>|: [

You Had ONE Job

I am still trying to make the human male’s last few days on campus memorable. Meddling with maintenance remains one of my chiefest joys.

The handicap door-activation button on Heldenfels is frequently out of order. This is quite inconvenient for those staff and students in wheelchairs, not to mention anyone trying to maneuver a large, loaded cart through the doorway.

Last week, Tsk, tsk! Things weres are on the fritz again.

Slow, Silent, and Costly were summoned (again) to fix it (again.)

I have heard that they finally showed up to address the problem. Let’s see how that turned out, shall we?

Oh, well done.

>|: [

We Found Treasure on a Walk!

The weather has definitely improved. It is still warmer than optimum for a Frost Giant, but we are no longer flirting with triple digits, and the mornings are cool enough that our daily perambulations are no longer a penance.

The shift in the seasons can bring new things into prominence in the local flora. I wonder what we’ll find today?

We are down at one edge of the neighborhood. Not much interesting so far. This is–

Wait.

What tree is that?

It looks as if it is growing a whole crop of burnt orange superballs!

Ah. The human female says that this is one of the locally-native persimmon trees. We have run into this plant in the woods before. There are quite a few in the neighborhood, but I don’t recall any with fruit. I think I would have notice something like this before, don’t you, Sigyn?

Sigyn, stop! No, it’s not that I care whether you steal fruit from other people’s trees. Pfft. As far as I’m concerned, you could take all you want. No, it’s that while the fruits on the tree may look ripe and delicious, remember what the human female said—they’re not edible until after a frost or unless they’ve ripened enough to fall from the tree on their own. Otherwise, they’re very astringent and eating one is like trying to eat dry felt.

The ground under these two trees is littered with windfalls just lying there unappreciated. Is the human female going to…? She is! She is! She has gathered up a double handful. Ehehehehe! I always suspected she had a little larceny in her!

Poke, poke, poke. They’re so…soft… and squishy.

Like barely-contained pudding… What do they look like inside?

Orange, all the way through, and gooey. Sigyn’s going to taste one.

(nom nom nom) She says they taste like, “a combination of apricot, pumpkin, and mango.” In other words, they taste orange. (nibble, nibble…) They’re very sweet–much like dates in that regard. Not bad. Not bad at all. No wonder all the wildlife love them!

There are five big, flat seeds in each fruit. The human female, having long desired a tree or two in her yard, purposes, after eating the fruits, to wash the seeds and plant them.

Here’s where I come in. Persimmon trees are either male or female and, of course, only the females bear fruit. In the wild, male trees significantly outnumber the females. What do you suppose her chances are, if all of these seeds come up, that one of the trees will be female?

Let me rephrase that. If I am involved, what do you suppose her chances are of getting a female tree?

Or will she continue to being reduced to stealing the neighbors’ fruit?

>|: [

Mischief Expands to Fill the Space Allotted

The human male is retiring at the end of the month. (Odin’s eyepatch! What am I going to do with BOTH of the mortals home all day, every day?!)

Given that, I am trying to fill his remaining days with as much annoyance and bafflement as I can.

Case in point: Someone has brought him some very old laptops. Computers going out of service in the Biology Department have to come to him so they can have their hard drives wiped and whatnot.

This one doesn’t look too bad.

This one, on the other hand…!

I am not a computer geek by any stretch of the imagination, but I am fairly certain that batteries should not look so blivetous and bloated!

By Thor’s Bitty Ball-peen! There are two of them!

They appear to be seconds away from some sort of explosive decompression.

I wonder what will happen if I poke it….?

>|: [

On The Horns, As It Were, Of an Ethical Dilemma

The human female is a tree-hugger. Literally. There are photos of her, hugging trees. When she was a tot, she used to tell people that she wanted to be a tree when she grew up because, “Trees are nicer than people.” Also, this is Texas. Shade trees are practically worshipped as minor deities.

Thus, we have established that she is an dendrophile. She is also rampantly, rabidly anti-exotic-invasive-species. She will get up early on a Saturday to yank up Japanese honeysuckle or some other Problem Child from the local woods or waterways. She routinely monologues about the evils of Ligustrum, Chinese Pistache, Chinese Tallow Tree, and Chinaberry in the local woods and has been known to snap any sapling she finds right off at the base. She has whole presentations for homeowners’ associations about what not to plant and which native species make better substitutes. Slides and everything.

Which is why I am laughing so hard that I may need to excuse myself to the Little Lokis’ Room so as not to have an accident.

You see, multiple years back, a large oak tree in the front yard breathed its last, and that part of the yard has been bereft of shade since. This made a nice opening for Mischief, so five or so years ago, I planted some elm seedlings yonder thataway. Five stout young trees sprang up right on the property line, in a nearly perfect straight line. There are native Cedar Elms all over the back yard and plenty of Winged Elms in the neighborhood, so she just assumed the newcomers were one of those and didn’t pay them too much mind.

Elms are fast growers, subscribing to the philosophy of “Live fast, die young, leave a lot of offspring.” (As opposed to say, oaks, which believe in “Slow and steady, live forever, leave a few acorns here and there and it’ll amount to a forest someday.”) So, in no time at all, we had actual, tree-sized elms on that property line. She mowed around them, pruned away some branches that were too low to walk under, and remained oblivious.

Earlier this year, however, she finally took a good hard look at their leaves and noticed they were a bit too tapered at the base and shiny for Winged Elm, a tad too narrow and smooth for Cedar Elm. The bark wasn’t right, either… Suspicion had begun to dawn. Could these be Chinese Lacebark Elms, Ulmus parvifolia, an exotic species from–you guessed it–Asia?

Lacebark Elms were introduced around here back in the 1940’s or so and are very pretty, with glossy leaves and interesting bark that exfoliates from pale gray-brown to orange. They’re resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, but they tend to be brittle-wooded and susceptible to mistletoe and rather short-lived. They have escaped cultivation and can be found in the local woods. The human female always tells people not to plant them.

The human female is nothing if not a great rationalizer. “Maybe,” she told herself this past spring, “they’re a native species. After all, I don’t see any peeling bark yet, and the trunks haven’t developed that fluted look Ulmus parvifolia usually has… Maybe they’re some sort of new Lacebark/Cedar Elm hybrid. Maybe they’re sterile and won’t cause any problems! I mean, I didn’t see fruit on them last fall!”

It’s like she doesn’t even know me. Today she is taking a good, honest, clear-eyed look at them.

See the flat, pale green things? It’s October and we have elm fruits! This rules out Winged Elm, which fruits in February before the leaves come out. And they’re clearly setting a ton of fruit, which probably means they’re not hybrids. (Or if they are, they may well be fertile and capable of polluting the gene pool of fall-flowering elms.)

She is finally admitting to herself that it is time to put her money where her mouth is. Does she thank me for what are now five healthy trees taller than the house or practice what she preaches and cut them all down? Which would you rather have, woman—shade or credibility among your fellow native plant nerds?

It’s too delicious! You’re going to be miserable either way and I love it!

>|: [

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

It’s a bright, breezy day today, and the human female has conceived the notion that it would be a good day to rummage in the front hall closet, find the kite, find a nice open spot to launch it, and spend some time enjoying the invigorating tug of wind on rip-stop nylon and a couple hundred feet of string. Sigyn thinks that sounds like fun, so apparently it is now a Major Expedition.

We could, of course, do this in the park across the street from the house, but noooo. The human female has to go for a long walk to reach this other open area she sort of vaguely remembers the location of. Just, you know, to get some exercise in—because just standing there holding string and looking up does not burn any calories at all.

Well, the park is not on this street.

Or this one. We have been wandering now for some time. Consult your phone, woman. The thing is full of maps. You might as well use them.

(some time later)

Finally. We’re here. It’s not so much a park as a big impoundment area for storm water, but it is lushly grassy and free of kite-eating trees. She can set up in one corner and let the kite drift out across the entire length. I have to hand it to her. It’s not a bad spot, and the long grass makes a very pretty anemometer, as you can see in this little movie.

I have not seen the kite that I can recall. I wonder what it looks like? There are different sorts, you know, Sigyn. Some are easier to fly than others. Some require a stiff wind and expert handling, while others are good for little kids and novices.

Here’s the bag. Could be anything in here!

Help me turn it over. There may be a clue on the other side!

I have heard of this Purveyor of Kites! I believe she bought this kite many years ago, on a trip out of state.

It is certainly colorful! Though it would be vastly improved if green were part of the color scheme.

It appears to need a bit of assembly. There’s a dowel that should fit into these two little pockets here, and…

Great Frigga’s Corset! I should have known! It’s a delta kite. Infants can fly deltas. They are the nearest thing to foolproof that there is. They are rated three teddy bears in the catalog! They launch in the merest puff of wind and are steady, stable flyers. She should have this up and soaring in no time.

Oh, I am a bad, bad man. I can’t help myself. As much as Sigyn wants to see the kite aloft, I want to see the human female looking foolish, so…

It’s up! It’s up! The wind has caught it and—oh, no! The string was playing out so quickly that a large mass of it slid off the spool and tied itself into a massive tangly knot that can’t unwind any farther! Aaaand the kite has nosedived into the grass! It’s going to take her a while to sort it out, Sigyn, but we can do some impromptu plant-hunting while we wait.

What’s that pale pink flower over there?

If the wind would quit blowing it around, we could get a better photo and ask the human female when she’s done with her knot.

Now we’re ready! The string is all untangled and re-wound and the kite’s up and….Ehehehehe! I made the wind drop just as enough to stall the kite and she didn’t run fast enough to get it back up. She’s going to have to wind all the string back up and try again.

And again. She’s got her boot cast on since we walked quite a way to get here and she just doesn’t maneuver very well it it. Nimble she is not!

And again. Wow! The breeze is rather fickle today, isn’t it?

Okay, it’s up this time! It’s really up! Sleipnir’s fetlocks! Look at that! The string was unspooling really fast and it got caught ’round the finger of the too-big gloves she’s wearing to protect against string-burn and it was either shake the glove off or lose a finger! So there’s the glove on the string, away up there. She’s going to have to down the kite to get it back. Oh, too bad! I wish I had a photo of this, but it happened so quickly!

Tenth time’s the charm…. Time for another fist-sized knot! There’s no untangling this one, I’m afraid. She’s going to have to buy a spool that actually has ends and isn’t just a cylinder that loops of string can slide off of.

But still, we did manage to get a quick little movie of the kite at its best making the most of the breeze and showing off our modest success. Lovely. Just lovely.

While she’s packing things up, my dear, let’s take another look at some flowers.

Oh, good find! The human female (suitably humbled and ready to go home) says this is Branched Blazing Star. It is the rarest of the Liatris species in Texas and is found in only a few counties. Most of them have long, spike-like inflorescences, but this one has heads on the ends of branches. Fun fact: they set all the flower buds and then bloom backwards down the stem.

Well, it is getting warm, and the human female still has a long, failure-tainted trudge home. We never did get the kite properly up, but we saw flowers and waving grass, so even the human female is tempted to put this one in the “win” column.

>|: [