Month: November 2020

Thank-the-Turkey Day Aftermath, Part I: Taking Stock

The human female roasted two chickens for Thank-the-Turkey Day because, “A whole turkey is too much.” Of course, the two chickens together weighed what a medium-sized turkey would have, so she defeated her own purpose.

No one ever said she was logical.

I tried my best to derail the process, making sure that the birds were done nearly an hour before the scheduled time. (It is sooo easy to hack a “How long do I roast a chicken” page on a cooking site!) She caught them in time, though, and they actually turned out pretty well.

Being the thrifty scion of thrifty New England heritage, she is making stock with the carcasses. She started out with both of them in one pot, then decided that was too crowded. She carefully transferred one and now she has two pots going.

The kitchen is redolent with the smell of simmering poultry, carrot, celery, and herbs.

Time to adjust things!

Uh, oh. That’s not good! I loosened the silicone grippy bits on the tongs just to be annoying. Having one come completely off was not part of the plan, but I’m here for it!

Now, where can it have gone to? It’s not on the counter… Didn’t fall in the sink… You don’t suppose…?

Ehehehehehehe! Bingo.

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Doing My Part for Science

The human female is back out at the herbarium—no bats today : ( — still working her way through the BBBB (Big Book of Boring Botany). Today she is working through hundreds of specimens of Liatris, identifying them all down to the variety level.

As near as I can figure out, Liatris mucronata used to be its own species, but it has been mooshed into Liatris punctata as Liatris punctata variety mucronata, a difference that matters to a very few botanistic pedants just a smidgen and to the Liatris itself not at all.

Great Frigga’s hairpins! I thought we were done here. She has finished the whole puctata vs. mucronata folders and has now turned her attention to Liatris elegans, which has not one but THREE varieties in this part of Midgard, “distinguished by the color of the phyllaries and the shape of the corm,” whatever that means.

The human female is quite annoyed that Gaiser named variety carizzana after the Carrizo geological formation on which it is found, and as such, it is misspelled.

It is all very dull. Time to liven up the varietal determinations a bit.

Augh. There are maps, too. The human female is going through all of the records she just updated and is making sure the corresponding counties are reflected on the maps.

Let’s see… Liatris cymosa… Sigyn and I saw that plant the day we went to watch the human female try to fly a kite. It is a narrow endemic, found in only a few counties in East Texas. We can do better than that!

There! Now it grows on the Edwards Plateau as well! Doing my part for conservation, don’t you know.

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A New Holiday Tradition

Thank-the-turkey Day is a time for family, friends, and food. Since the humans can’t visit family (couldn’t quarantine long enough) and all their friends are busy eating delicious food with their families, they’ve been left pretty much to their own devices.

Another holiday tradition is playing games. Lately, the human female has been playing a lot of Qwirkle on her tablet, practicing for the big day.

Secretly, however, I’ve been coaching the felines in Qwirkle strategy, and I think it is paying off…

How does it feel to lose to the “not-so-bright” kitty?

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A Repeat, But This Trick Never Gets Old

The humans, because a) it is far too warm for November, b) they want to “support a local business”, and c) are too lazy and “don’t feel like cooking”, have opted to get take-out salads from one of their favorite local eateries.

You may recall that they did this same thing not too long ago, and I had some fun with it.

Let’s see if I can pull the same stunt twice…

Do you see any chicken in the chicken-apple-pecan salad, Sigyn?

Ehehehehe! Neither do I! There’s none here, and there’s no chicken in the human male’s Chicken Caesar salad, either!

A couple of phone calls and some email later, and the humans have a digital “gift card” in the amount of the price of the chicken. But will they remember to redeem it before it expires? At some point, you’d think they’d stop ordering food from a place that can’t get the orders right.

But they’re not very bright, so maybe not.

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You Said You Were Lonely…

The human female has been spending a lot of time at the herbarium lately, still working on that huge botany book no one wants to read.

Sometimes she’s the only one there and it gets sort of lonely. Sometimes I arrange for there to be lots of volunteers there, working on other projects–I’ve seen to it that the crew working on mushrooms have booted her out of not one but two workspaces. Take today, for instance. She can’t work in the big main room. She’s going to have to work at her desk in her little office cubbyhole. It’s not bad, but there isn’t much room to spread out.

Is that a leaf under her chair, or a stray scrap of dark paper?

Wait–did that just move? Is that what I think it is? Time for a closer look.

Odin’s Eyepatch! It is! It is! There is a LIVE BAT under her chair! I had invited some of them to pay a visit the herbarium, but I didn’t know we were going to have a squeaky little guest today.

The human female, after a truly gratifying startle, has remembered the wise advice not to handle bats (rabies, don’t you know) and has turned an empty box over the bat and weighted it down with a book. The Herbarium Curator has called Slow, Silent, and Costly to come and remove the chiropteran interloper, and the human female has looked online for A&M’s “What to do when you find a bat on campus” page and called the number there. We’ll see if we can get any sort of response…

(later) Ehehehe! There was much confusion. Both phone calls ended up creating a work order with SSC and it took some time for the human female to convince them that a) there was just one bat and b) the bat-removal guy really could find his way out to the herbarium, which is pretty remote. Supposedly, he’s on the way! This is all so exciting. I can tell you, the human female is not getting any work done today!

(a bit later)

The venerable bat-catcher has donned a big glove and scooped up the unhappy flyer.

Looks a bit like a winged ox, does he not? Do not be fooled, however, he is not inclined to be still. In fact, there is quite a lot of “feisty” in this critter.

“I am fierce! I will bite you! I will bite your children! Fear me!”

This is by far the most interesting thing that has happened to the human female in… forever. Possible exposure to rabies aside, she should thank me, don’t you think?

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Done With One Thing and Looking Ahead

The human female and her band of do-gooders have just about finished the food-baskets-for-Turkeythanks-Day project.

Of course, I couldn’t let them finish un-meddled. The food for each family fit into two shopping bags, with the “B” or green bag having a gift card for fresh food purchases stapled to the side. The volunteers made a few extra bags, but theoretically, there should have been an equal number of “A” and “B” bags left over.

It was up to the human female to count the remains. The result? eleven “A” and 9″B” bags remain. Someone has double gift cards but is missing all of their rice and canned vegetables… Ooopsie!

I also arranged for her to have to make the last delivery, to the one person no one could get hold of. She called two or three times and even drove by the house, but nope, she’s got to sit on an “A” and a “B” bag until she can make contact. They’re in the guest room where the felines can’t shed on them. Naturally, Taffy Cat has made it her life’s goal to get in there and see what’s what. She can be found pawing at the door at all hours of the day and night. (Actually, I taught her that before the food bags showed up. It annoys the human female greatly!)

With one drive nearly in the rear-view mirror, it is time to look ahead to the Yule gifts for the same families. There is a huuuuuuuge spreadsheet, listing all the recipients and the gifts. Each child should be receiving one gift of clothing and one of a toy or something else they’d like. Let’s see what’s on the list…

Jeans, polo shirt, art supplies… Art supplies?! How boring! I think I can liven up this list a little.

Antique Mischief

The human female is in search of fuzzy socks. They should be in the top, right-hand drawer of the old dresser.

Great Frigga’s hairpins! The knob’s done a runner! I suppose you could find something and attempt to pry the drawer open. (One more scratch on this old behemoth would never be noticed.)

And hadn’t you better try to locate the knob before the felines stumble upon it and swat it into some dark corner where it will never be found?

Ah. I misunderstood. The knob has not disappeared. It came off in the human female’s hand, so she knows exactly where it is.

All she needs to do is find the nut that goes on the bolt-y bit at the back and put it back on the drawer.

This raises two questions:

a) Does she know it was I who loosened the nut in the first place? and

b) Will she think to find the nut inside the drawer, hiding under the fuzzy socks?

My money’s on “Probably” and “No,” respectively.

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Bountiful Mischief

It’s that time of year again. The human female is trying to assuage her consumer guilt by helping out a charity that provides holiday meals for the less fortunate.

Let us see if I can make the experience a little less gratifying and a little more chaotic.

Now, now mortals! I can hear you thinking, “Loki, that is really MEAN, sabotaging the food baskests for the poor!” I assure you, the poor will not be deprived of a single bean, not a flake of potato, not a smidgen of gravy. However, if the bean counters are a bit discommoded, well, where’s the harm in that?

Every year, the human female succumbs to the compulsion to match up all the cake mixes and frosting. Chocolate cake gets chocolate frosting. Funfetti cake gets frosting with sprinkles, etc., etc.

In theory, this prevents someone from getting, say, strawberry frosting on German Chocolate cake. In practice, I’ve done a bit of switching so that–horrors!–there is a spice cake with chocolate frosting instead of cream cheese frosting. Are you putting Pepto-Bismol in the bags this year? Because that sounds nasty.

The rice doesn’t have to match with anything. A bag or two goes in each package, plop! and all done.

Except that I have poked a hole in one or two of these bags, which will produce a small but steady trickle of grain that will take some time to find and even more time to sweep up.

Let me see… What else? I think I shall assort the gravy packets so that the last family gets a packet of pork gravy and one of cream gravy. And then I shall meddle with the cans of green beans so that they don’t pair up. Nothing says, “thrown together” like receiving two cans of green beans whose brands don’t match.

Ditto with the canned fruit.

And then I’ll distract the human female while she’s stapling the gift card envelopes to the bags. Did you do that row yet? How about those bags in the corner? Can’t remember? Guess you’ll have to check every one then, won’t you?

Ah. All done. And hey! Sigyn, look! There are marshmallows left over! Mischief is tiring, so this is a good place to rest…

…and plan what my next mischief will be…

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Time to Get Tough

I have been entirely too lenient with the human female recently. She has grown complacent. “I’m not working anymore. What can he do?” I have not forgotten the insult that was this year’s All Hallows costume. I owe her a vengeance, so I shall endeavor to make the rest of her week as annoying as lokily possible.

For starters, this:

I have convinced her car that she’s trying to steal the stereo,and it won’t provide any music until she enters a code she doesn’t ever remember hearing about.

Ehehehe! No amount of punching buttons seems to be doing any good!

(a bit later) Rats! She used her thimbleful of brains and looked in the owner’s manual and discovered the code scrawled on a page inside.

Very well, just for that, I will make the Low Tire Pressure Warning light come on. Have I used my Frost Giant magic to make the weather just cold enough overnight that the pressure in your tires dropped enough to trigger the warning? Or do you really have an incipient flat?

How safe do you feel driving now, wench?

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Making the Most of Fleeting Beauty

I can refuse my beloved Sigyn nothing, so here we are again, crunch, crunch, crunch, enjoying the little bit of fall color and drifting leaves that the thirtieth parallel affords.

The Virginia creeper seems to be trying to outdo all the other vines.

If it doesn’t feel like being red, sometimes it will opt for copper.

And if that doesn’t do it, there’s always the gradient effect.

About the only color it doesn’t do is lemon yellow. Good thing the little passionflower has that nailed down.

The trees and shrubs are vying for attention, too. Winged elm can’t seem to decide if it wants to be yellow or orange.

This one has settled on burnt orange,

which should be illegal in a town in which everything is required by law to be Aggie Maroon, but whatever.

Farkleberry is adhering to the maroon law as best it can. There are usually some maroon leaves in with the red ones.

(This year the fruits have hung on much longer than normal. Where were the birds that were supposed to have eaten them up over the summer?)

Shining Sumac can be counted on for a consistent, bright red.

SIgyn would be just as happy if everything were this color. I keep trying to explain that if everything were red, nothing would stand out and she’d grow tired of it quickly. She says that might be true but it would be “fun to try it out for a few days.”

The willows down by the mostly-dry-creek have gone enthusiastically yellow.

That photo doesn’t really do them justice.

The hickory, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be trying AT ALL.

Sigyn is trying to comfort it, assuring her that it is loved and valued for its sturdy wood and squirrel-treat nuts and that it is beautiful in its own way. My love, how can you appreciate any fall color with your rose-colored-glasses affixed so firmly to your lovely face?

The Bushy Bluestem has also opted for brown this year.

What it lacks in glamor it makes up in poofiness.

Where foliage fails, the fruit can sometimes be counted on to supply the color deficit. Beautyberry is always happy to provide that color that defies classification.

I don’t know what it looks like on your phone/computer/tablet, etc., but to my eyeballs, it’s a very, very obnoxious fuchsiamagentapurplepink not found anywhere else in nature except a rare species of sea slug that inhabits the waters off of Borneo.

(I made that last bit up. Might be true. Might not. Can’t be arsed to check.)

Greenbriar has luscious-looking fruit.

And let us not have that tiresome argument about whether black is a color or not. This isn’t optics, this is botany, and anyone who has played with the berries, pulling out their rubbery-snot innards to see how far they’ll stretch, can vouch for just how dyed their fingers are for the next day or so. It’s color. Case closed.

Well, this has been a lot of walking and a good deal of dangling and poking. Sigyn, see if you can find us a soft, pretty place to rest before we make the long trip back home.

Is she the best, or what?

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Ha! I was right!

Purple Sea Slug (Chromodoris sp.) | Sea slug, Slugs, Sea