Month: December 2020

Just a Suggestion…

Dear Human Female,

I know that the last week has been very busy for you and that you’ve had to snack on the go. I’m sure your physician would be happy to know that you are choosing fruits, nuts, and veggies and not just chips and cookies. Yes, three cheers for you for the zip-lock baggie of almonds in your backpack. Protein, healthy fats, etc. Very smart. Truly, you are to be commended.

Too bad you’re not smart enough to check whether someone might have unzipped the zip-lock…

>|: [

More Fun With the Do-Gooders, Mostly of the E-I-E-I-O Variety

The gifts I wrote about yesterday are spread out in multiple rooms at one of the local churches. All of the packages Sigyn and I were examining yesterday were in the room that is usually a nursery for very tiny Midgardlings. You may have noticed the sign on the windows.

“Do not let kids play with the blinds.”

I totally played with the blinds.

The nursery’s toys have all been stashed to the side for the duration of Operation Yule Chaos.

Sigyn, of course, has made a beeline for the farm animals.

Oh, Sigyn, Sweetie! Please do not kiss the piggy! You don’t know where he’s been! That cow has disturbingly large lips, the donkey appears to an imbecile, I suspect the dog is rabid, and the goat–the goat clearly has jaundice. In fact, why don’t you go see if there are eggs in the nest in the barn, instead?

I’ll just be over here in the farmhouse.

Wondering if Old MacDonald and the missus…

…have anything worth stealing.

>|: [

Mine! All For Me!

The human female is hanging out with her do-gooder friends again. This time, they’ve collected a quantity of Yule gifts for the less fortunate of the community.

They are all sorted out by the families they are going to.

Everything is so well organized! The presents come in with the family number and a note as to what the gift is. As the parcels are sorted into family bags, the temporary tags are replaced with the recipients’ names. There’s a spreadsheet and a schedule of pickups and everything. It would be a shame if someone, oh, say, switched all the tags around…

Sigyn likes looking at all the festive gift bags and wrapping paper.

“Look, Loki! Red and white boingy ribbon!”

She’s particularly smitten with this unusual yellow llama paper.

Can’t say I’m as enthusiastic about this superhero wrap. I know this spidery fellow hangs out with Captain America and my stoopid brother Thor and all that crew. Bah, humbug.

(poke, poke, poke) I think some of the gifts must me motion-activated tots’ toys, because as we shift things about to look, some of the packages are talking to us. They’re paper-muffled so we can’t understand what they’re saying, and the effect is rather eerie.

What do you think is in this snowman one, Sigyn? It’s a bit squishy, so it might be clothes.

This is all such a gargantuan effort, and the best part is I didn’t have to help. I do plan to sneak back in tonight and help myself, though. I plan to leave all the clothes, but I am pretty sure there are books, games, blocks, stuffed animals, and some girly things Sigyn would like.

I can sense the general outrage from here. Listen–I have to put up with the human female all the time. Surely, if anyone is less fortunate, it is I.

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Mischief Update: And Thus Were Many Things Unloosed Which Had Been Made Firm

I do my level best to make sure that the humans’ lives are much like trying to keep an unhappy octopus inside a mesh bag. Something comes loose. They poke it back and something else escapes.

The human female’s car went to the shop to have routine service and to have the “low tire pressure” light checked into. It came home all fixed and CLEAN. (She owes whoever washed it a pan of brownies or something because Odin’s Eyepatch, was that thing filthy!) Well, since the colder weather means that the honeydew-dripping wooly hackberry aphids aren’t pooping on the car anymore, it has actually stayed clean. Couldn’t have that, so I saw to it that the latest cold snap put the tire pressure light back on…

For some reason (innocent whistling), the human female gets a lot of headaches. Her latest refill (11 tablets) was shipped on the 11th of November, and tracking showed it had been put into the mailbox on November 14, a day in which no mail was received at all. She waited. Nothing. She called the mail-order pharmacy and convinced them to do a reship. Then she asked her physician to send a one-time prescription to the local pharmacy to tide her over until the replacement showed up. She got that filled, and then the replacement pills showed up in the mail. Then, three weeks after it was logged as “delivered,” the original shipment arrived. She called the mail-order pharmacy back and tried to pay, since now she had a total of 33 tablets, 11 of which she hadn’t paid for, and they just laughed. Three cheers for free drugs, but that’s another loose end and it niggles.

The human male got locked out of ALL his University authenticated accounts—email, files, etc.— right when he was trying to use them to complete retirement paperwork. Fun fact: When someone high up in IT retires, they lock down their account good and tight to make sure no one has access to passwords and permissions that they shouldn’t have. Apparently he was not even allowed to have access to his own information. He was very “cheery” around the house until that was resolved.

The humans have been using Zoom videoconferencing software extensively this year, both for work and for keeping up with family and friends. Originally they both the premiere (unlimited time) version through the University. Without warning last week, the human male’s account suddenly disappeared entirely and the female’s was cut to 40 minutes (this was after his log-in was restored). Many phone calls later, the human male has been told that the University’s “identity verification” office has had a lot of turnover in staff recently and they are “waaaaay behind” on problem tickets. At some point in a far-too nebulous future, his account may be restored. Possibly to the pro plan. Possibly not. Stop moaning, humans. You can pay for your own premiere account with what you saved on headache pills…

The knob on the human female’s dresser drawer parted company with the dresser again.

So he wouldn’t feel left out, I arranged a little surprise for the human male.

Note, if you please, that is not a missing screw. Missing screws are for amateurs. That is a broken temple piece. (Note also the corner of the recent, we-think-you-are-working letter from They’re Really Swamped. The human female is not so good at clearing off the desk.) The human male went to the mall (which he loathes) to get them repaired, only to find they’d changed their hours and weren’t open. On his second trip, on a different day, he was told that replacement frames would have to be ordered. They’re supposed to call him when they come in. Waiting…. Waiting…

Let’s see… What else can I turn my hand to?

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A Very Poofy Walk (Sigyn speaks)

It has been a little rainy recently, and the human female has been busy, so we haven’t had the chance to go for a good walk very often. But today is bright and shiny and breezy and chilly, and there’s nothing that can keep the human female and me indoors! We’re exploring what Loki calls the “Neener Walk” today.

The flowers are almost all gone, and the fall color has faded or blown away. What’s left?

IT’S POOF SEASON!

A lot of the plants around here make fluff when they go to seed. I want to hug them all!

The goldenrod stalks are still pointy on top, they’re just not golden anymore.

Hug, hug, hug, hug!

The late-flowering thoroughwort is a little pricklier, but still a treat to nestle in.

Hee hee hee! It’s breezy enough that my bed is swaying! The asters are low to the ground and would be less likely to make someone seasick.

Oh, wait, this patch is even better!

Achoo! I sniffed up a little fluff there! Always a hazard of a walk this time of year.

Dandelions are mostly spring things, but you can find them in the fall and winter here too. Always time for making wishes!

It’s not just the daisy family things that have gone fuzzy, the grasses have been busy too! The silver bluestem won’t hold still for a photo, but it’s definitely puffy.

Little bluestem is a bit less floofy, but there is more of it. It used to be one of the main prairie grasses from south Texas all the way up into Canada, but there isn’t much prairie left.

The dry foliage is a nice, coppery color, don’t you think? The new shoots in spring will be blue-green.

I think the Grand Floof Prize goes to bushy bluestem! If you hug just one plant, it should be this one.

It’s so windy today. If I hang on tight, I bet I could get a ride! Back…

..and forth…

..and back again, over and over!

Whee! My walking buddy is making a little movie!

Oh, this walk was such fun! You should definitely go on a walk and see if you can find some fluff of your own!

: )

A Very Annoying Midgardian Breakfast

It has been quite some time since I ruined the human female’s breakfast. I’ve done some of my best work there. I mean, swapping cat litter for her Grape Nuts cereal? Inspired.

I think I will remedy this oversight this morning.

I see that blueberries are in the bowl, which means I am getting another chance to wreck cold cereal. Besides the kitty-litter lookalike, the human female often eats these little pillow-shaped cereal bits that are supposed to be good for her. But not today! You see, on the last shopping trip, I saw to it that there wouldn’t be any of those in the store. I like to do that: take one thing on the shopping list and make it totally unavailable. (People think it’s the pandemic. It’s not. I just like to wreck the meal plan.) Last month it was canned green enchilada sauce–none anywhere in town. This month it’s the apple-flavored fizzy water that’s so popular in this house. The human male, wanting to please the harpy at home, purchased something similar, but of more robust proportions.

Just how much larger than the minis are they?

That’s huge!

Oh, wait. There is more than one “big biscuit” in this package, and there are several packages in the box.

(poke poke poke). I think I can feel three in here.

Three biscuits would not fit in the bowl with the blueberries–or even without the blueberries! I wonder what the suggested serving size is?

Drum roll….

Ehehehehe! Two biscuits. By my reckoning, if she eats two, she’ll have one left over that she’ll have to seal up and wedge back in the box. She won’t come out even until she’s eaten six!

Not to mention that cereal that is anything less than 100% hermetically sealed goes stale in about twenty seconds here…

Stop whimpering, mortal. There’s always dry toast.

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I Hate Yule Shopping

It will come as no surprise to long-time readers that I loathe, despise, detest, and abominate crowds of Yule shoppers. I don’t like humans as a rule, and I like them even less when they’re pushy, cranky, tired, grabby, and not wearing masks properly. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t care about catching a disease–I’m immune and Sigyn is under magical protection—but I really like the local ordinances that mandate that the mortals have half their miserable faces covered up so I don’t have to look at them.

Hence, I am all for shopping online, and I especially like it when the human male and female do it. True, it means I have to see them when they’re decked out in their Comfy Pants and barely groomed, but it means they don’t take Sigyn with them and I don’t have to leave the house to protect her and and rub shoulders with Midgardians, either.

Auugh! By Jormundandr’s pointy baby teeth! Now not even shopping at home is safe! Just look at YoungHuevos‘s special Intel processor offer!

Does everything have to be Avengers’ themed? And if so, does Thor’s stupid face have to be right on the front of the box?

I can’t be the only person sick of seeing his bulbous biceps and lightning-wrapped instrument of bludgeoning.

Ugh, humans, can’t we go look at a different website? Something nice and lovely and cheerful and tasteful, like, oh, I don’t know—hernia trusses or colorfully mutant My Little Pony plushies?

My Little Pony Hugs and Fun Pillow, 1 Each - Walmart.com - Walmart.com

(Seriously, is no one concerned about this terrible case of equine brachycephaly?!)

Ugh. I have lost the little faith I had in humanity. I am, as they say, out of here. If anyone wants me, I will be napping off a shopper’s migraine.

>|: [

A Mysterious, Mischievous Craft Project

Sigyn, do you want to help me make something? I’ve gathered up the supplies we’ll need. We’ll start with this scrap cardboard from the recycling bin.

Let me just sketch things out…

I know you want to help with this next part, but I’d hate for you to cut yourself on the scissors.

They’re the human female’s good sewing shears, so they’re awfully sharp.

Nearly there…

All right. This next bit is where I could really use your assistance. I have scored the cardboard, we just need to fold it up.

Yes, just like that!

Now the foil. Let me do this part–the cutter bar is wickedly sharp. (Ask the human female’s thumb.)

My love, this would work so much better if you didn’t stand on it.

There you go. I’ll just rip this off…

(fold fold fold wrap wrap wrap)

Finished!

Utah, Romania, California, Netherlands, and now Texas.

Where should I put the next one?

>|: [

She Thought This Part of Her Life Was Over

The human female once blithely imagined that retirement from the University would mean an end to the bureaucracy and paperwork. Snort!

The first fax of her retirement paperwork vanished into the ether. So she mailed it in and asked to be notified if it had arrived. No message was sent.

She went to pick up her retiree ID card. They had to remake it because they had her retiring from the Law School.

Once she got the direct deposit of her pension sorted out, she thought she was home free. Has she met me?

Which was why she had a multifaceted moment of confusion/panic/anger/frustration when she received a “polite” letter from TRS (ostensibly stands for “Teachers’ Retirement System of Texas” but actually stands for “They’re Really Swamped,” since every incoming call is greeted with “We are experiencing longer than usual wait times, in excess of thirty minutes…) informing her that since she was employed half-time or less with a TRS-affiliated agency, she was in danger of losing her retiree status and her pension, as there are Rules About Employment After Retirement. Ehehehe! I called it the Global Warming Letter, since it was essentially warning her that she was on thin ice. This came, of course, as no small surprise since the human female, so far from being gainfully employed anywhere, has elevated the practice of being a lazy retiree to an art form.

Of course, I saw to it that this letter arrived after the TRS offices were closed for the Thank-a-Turkey holiday, and I got to watch her add “Oh-my-gosh-how-do-I-fix-this stew” to the menu.

As soon as the wheels of bureaucracy began to turn again the following Monday (nearly a week later!), I had the chance to mess with her some more. She called TRS. She was informed that the wait time was about half an hour. She opted for a call-back.

The kind person who eventually called her back was unable to elucidate the matter beyond reiterating that TRS records showed her working for the A&M system as of October 1. This led to a truly amusing exchange that included, “But I retired on August 31.” “All I can tell you is what’s in the system, ma’am.” “Am I about to lose my pension?” “No, because it shows you as hired, but it doesn’t show you as actually having worked any hours yet, so you’re fine at the moment.” “Can you tell me where it is I’m supposed to be employed, so I know whom to go growl at?” “I don’t have that information. I suggest you contact whoever handles payroll.” “Payroll for the department I retired from, or payroll for the University as a whole?” “Either or both?” “What proof should I ask them to provide that I am not working?” “Nothing, it will happen as part of a normal report.” “Is there really no other information you can provide?” “No. You can set up an appointment with a TRS coach if you like.” I’m not entirely sure what followed that, but it sounded like muffled imprecations and the sound of a head hitting a keyboard…

She was pretty sure the mix-up was the result of her being considered a “Research Associate” for the herbarium, which is a courtesy title for definitely-unpaid work, so she thought she might have to take on the multi-headed monstrosity that is AgriLife, but she decided to start small, with payroll. The Biology Department’s payroll person is currently out on extended leave, so she left a message with the Assistant Department Head for Business Affairs.

She searched for the number and called someone at the University level. They told her to contact the Main A&M Payroll Office.

The main A&M Payroll Office offered to transfer her to the Tax Compliance Office. By this point, I was trying so hard to smother my giggles that I think I broke a blood vessel in my left eye.

The phone transfer didn’t work, just rolled her over to a hold with no message, so she hung up and called them directly.

By this point, quite some time had elapsed, and I relented enough to cut her a little slack. The Tax Compliance Officer took the human female’s garbled explanation of the situation seriously, told her that she believed her because she had at least one other person with the same problem. The October 1 hire notice had been triggered—I kid you not and I am so proud of this twist!—by the cutting of the human female’s final paycheck from the University. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the University’s own HR programming, the ineffable Workday, saw her getting paid and reasoned that if she were being paid, she was an employee, QED.

Somewhat later, the Tax Compliance Office called back to say that it had been taken care of and should cause no further trouble. There was something else about the original information having been sent to TRS on the wrong form, but I didn’t catch it. I was laughing too hard to hear precisely what was being said.

Oh, what a good joke! Workday reaches out its spectral, skinny arm from beyond the grave and dishes up more mayhem. What’s next? I think I might try to work dead cats back in somehow.

>|: [

P.S. The human female asked if the human male is going to run into the same problem when his final A&M paycheck is issued. There have been assurances that this will not happen, which just means I need to think of something else…

Another Stabby Cabbage Recipe

Not too long ago, Sigyn and I helped the human female make CRC. I do not mind occasionally helping in the kitchen. If I am involved, I can make sure that what results is actually edible. Sigyn, I think the humans are Preparing to Cook again. Let us see what’s going on.

The human male is fiddling with a gadget which does not appear to be his phone.

Oh, you’ve got one too?

I want yours! It looks like it has a whip and maybe a bomb on it. Mine just has boring words and numbers.

What do you suppose these are for?

Oh, wait. I recognize these! These go with the electric smoker that the human male likes to play with. One is the remote for the smoker and one is the readout for the thermometer that gets poked into the meat.

The human male is smoking pork for pulled pork, and you know what that means!

Time to make The Slaw.

This is a recipe that the humans made up themselves, based on something the Knittery Friend served them once. It’s the only sort of slaw the human male will eat, and it involves a lot of knifework and unsafe kitchen utensils so of course I want to be involved…

Sigyn likes to help with the carrots.

The human female, who is capable of learning, usually opts to don the cut-proof glove before invoking the shredding device, which is first cousin to the mandolin which tried to amputate her thumb in the Great Mandolin Scalloped Thumb Debacle of 2018.

Sigyn! I know that you like to watch, but please see that you do not fall in!

Idunn’s little apples! That is a LOT of shredded carrot. The human female does not know how to make a small batch of this stuff. (Actually, there are no measurements at all when it comes to the veggies, only the dressing.)

Now we come to my favorite part–the dismemberment and destruction of a head-sized brassicaceous globe of green crunchiness!

Sigyn, this is going to get pretty violent. You may not want to be this close.

Have dagger, will shred!

Prepare for your doom!

Stabbitystabbitychopchopchopshredstabbitystabbity…

Ah. That was extremely cathartic. I highly recommend officially sanctioned culinary mayhem as therapy for repressed aggression.

Time for the pink stuff. Since this is an Asian slaw, we need some of this pickled ginger or gari.

Again, no fixed measurements exist. This is all done by the TLAR method (That Looks About Right.)

That’s it for the vegetable matter. Nothing left to do but to add the dressing…

..which is composed of 4 parts rice vinegar, 3 parts sugar, 1.5 parts canola oil and 0.5 parts sesame oil (don’t overdo the sesame oil–a little goes a long way!), plus a few shakes of Aleppo pepper. The human male just scales up the recipe to make as much as needed and funnels it into an old vinegar bottle. Very handy.

Stir everything together assiduously and serve.

Better yet, let it sit in the cooling box to contemplate its sins for a bit and then serve. If there are any leftovers, they make a great basis for an Asian salad. <sniff sniff.> Mmmm. This stuff is awesome. And, judging from the porky smells that are beginning to waft in from the back patio, this is going to be a night when I don’t need to phone for take out.

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