Month: May 2021

A Painted Adventure! Part I: We’re Off! (Sigyn Speaks)

Ohmyohmyohmy!!! The humans are going on a trip! It’s a day trip only, but still! And they said I can come! Loki, do you want to come too?

“Where are we going?”

We’re going to drive and go look at some pretty, old painted churches built by Czech and German settlers in the middle of the state. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Don’t you want to–

“No. I don’t ‘do’ churches. You know that.”

But! But you could help me look at wildflowers on the way and help navigate, and there will be lunch, and…”

“And I could make sure you get back here in one piece afterwards. Very well. I’ll come, but I’m bringing a book or something. Don’t expect me to go inside anywhere.”

Okay! We’re caravaning from the church here and heading west. We have directions with road names and mileages, but no town names, so navigation is going to be key…

Loki! Did you really have to make the lead vehicle miss a turn, making all the cars go the wrong way, and then drive off waay above the speed limit?

“Yes. Yes, I really did.”

Well, we are all back on course now. It’s very pretty country we’re driving through, and the area around Round Top is full of antique marts and places with weird junk and sculptures that would be worth a trip on their own. And there’s a lovely twisty bit of road near La Grange that is just gorgeous!

(a bit later)

We picked up a local tour guide in Schulenberg, and we’ve now driven to our first church, SS. Cyril and Methodius in a tiny, tiny town called Dubina. There it is! Isn’t it pretty, Loki?

“If you say so. Go on. I’ll be fine here.”

Oh, pretty! The ceiling is full of stars, and there are plants painted and stenciled all around!

That is a very fancy altar! There is an interesting picture on the wall by the next pew.

Oh, I guess the two fellows on this plastic-protected banner must be Cyril and Methodius.

They show up together a lot. Hee hee hee! I can never remember which is which.

Can you believe that everything on the walls and ceiling was whitewashed over at some point? Then, not too long ago, they decided to restore it.

Some of the art is stenciled and some is stenciled and then painted.

This is my favorite bit. I like the white flowers–they remind me of little white bluets!

Loki, that was really beautiful inside! You should come with us to see the next one!

“No, thank you.”

Silly Loki. He doesn’t know what he’s missing! I’m pretty sure the building wouldn’t really implode if he stepped through the doors…

( a bit later)

This church is St. John the Baptist in Ammannsville. These little towns used to be bigger. Now there’s not much more than the church here!

You can tell it dates from about the same time as the other one.

Squeee! This one is all PINK inside!

The tour guide says the paint is on canvas applied to the walls and ceiling, rather than painted wood. That is interesting! He also pointed out the pinch-clamp hooks for men’s hats on the pews on this side of the church. They used to make men and women sit on different sides. Isn’t that silly?

The artwork is more Art Nouveau and less primitive, with lots of shadowing to make all the foliage and ornaments really stand out. And the “marble” columns aren’t really stone–they’ve just been painted to look that way!

There’s some stenciling on the lower part of the walls.

It must have taken forever to paint all of this, even with stencils! There is some nice stained glass, too.

That was so much fun!!! But now it’s lunch time. Loki, are you ready to go get something to eat?

“Of course, my love. That is the one part of today’s agenda I can truly get behind.”

More later!

: )

How Do You Know How Much Is a Tibble Is?

Did you notice, when we were making that ersatz-scampi earlier this week, that there was something… funny about the butter. Allow me to elaborate.

Observe!

The wrapper is printed such that one can cut through it in measured tablespoons, acquiring preciesely what a recipe calls for. But I have seen to it that these sticks are wrapped incorrectly! That first tablespoon is going to be more than a tablespoon, and that last one is going to be short. Baking is an exact science, so this has the potential to cause real problems. Eheheheh!

And it’s not just these two. Nope! It’s all of them. See? Just peer round the corner, here.

Behold! Wrap-around cutting guidelines!

I just love the way the human female’s eye twitches…

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Breaking News: Experimental”Planting” of Lettuce Leads to Amphibious Mammal Infestation

The human female fancies herself something of a scientist. She likes to “experiment,” but since she doesn’t often make notes or test her outcomes to see if they are repeatable, I think it qualifies more as “farting around.”

In any case, she recently read that it is possible to grow new lettuce from a lettuce core. Since she is cheap as well as curious, she decided to give it a try with the remains of a particularly fluffy and delicious head of leaf lettuce we recently enjoyed.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! It appears to be working! The old leaves are withering, but there are new ones lengthening in the middle!

They’re already more than a Sigyn tall! If this keeps up, she’ll have enough to stuff a sandwich or something. But do be careful, dearest! I don’t want you falling in!

Sleipnir’s fetlocks! The lettuce has attracted a prodigious, pachydermal interloper!

I know my beloved has a way with animals and is not in any real danger, but still—I can’t look! She’s….she’s feeding it, isn’t she?

And does she have to sing the “Hippo Nommy-noms Song“?

I suppose if the humans ever go bankrupt, my sweetie could support us all by having a menagerie of well-trained animals that will literally eat right out of her hand and which will obey her every wish.

I mean, you’d pay to see this act, wouldn’t you?

Ta da!

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Close, But No Cigar…

Sigh. I’m really going to have to have a word with Flannel Cat. She’s earning full marks for puking from high places, as well as for chewing on the corners of the human female’s stitchery pattern. She’s even doing well at hopping up on the stove to try to reach the African violet victims that have been moved from their doomed perch in the window to the (relative) safety of the pass-through.

But A) She was not stealthy enough to jump up on the stove quietly, and the human male was able to catch her in the act and…

B) She didn’t quite get the plastic chicken-broth-carton-cap down inside the burner pan where it would catch fire and reek next time someone started cooking.

Flannel’s cute, but she’s not the sharpest crayon in the box.

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There’s Nothing Like a Good Paella

The humans are food-bored again. The human male has promised us paella tonight! Come on, Sigyn! Let’s see how it progresses!

First, we assemble the ingredients. Says here we’re gong to need some saffron threads. Fancy!

Now, where is the saffron?

Ah. No saffron. I’m no expert, but I do believe that saffron is a critical ingredient for paella. Let’s consult the recipe again.

We do have arborio rice, do we not?

Correct! We do not! Did someone perhaps erase saffron and arborio rice from the most recent shopping list? I’m sure I couldn’t say. I suppose it’s possible.

Clearly, we are not having paella. The human female seems to think she can throw together something that might conceivably be termed “scampi.” Translation: We have shrimp and chicken and lots and lots of garlic.

But first! The yellow pepper.

It was purchased specifically for paella, but we are all agreed that it doesn’t really “go” with scampi. Say bye-bye to the pepper, Sigyn. It will no doubt vanish into the crisper drawer in the cold box, where it will languish, forgotten, until it’s too furry/soggy/moldy to be good for anything at all.

Don’t look, Sigyn. It’s time to cut up some chicken.

Do you know whose idea it was to have boneless, skinless chicken thighs be so weirdly constructed? No, it wasn’t me. Chickens predate me by a good few thousand years. However, I certainly approve of how awkward they are to cut up!

Sauteing the chicken renders it much less queasy-making to look at.

Notice the dried shallots soaking in the background. Also the Hungarian paprika, just for a little flavor.

Now we make a roux for the sauce. We need butter for that.

Sigyn loves butter and would lick a stick if you let her. Sorry, my love. Not today.

Mmm! Smell all that good garlic and butter and chicken stock and white wine and shallots!

(It doesn’t show in the photo, but I keep loosening the small handle on the pan. The human male tightens it back up. I loosen it again. It’s a little game we play.)

Ehehehe! More of my perfidy is discovered! Scampi usually involves pasta, but it looks like we are also out of linguini, fettuccine, and all the other -inis. Whatever shall the humans do for the starchy part of the meal?

By Volstagg’s straining tunic buttons! Gnocchi? That’s preposterous! That’s unheard-of! That’s weird!

That’s… not a bad idea, actually. They’re sort of like pasta, and these do have garlic in them.

We have acquired the shrimp and some asparagus. I suppose that’s so we can pretend we are getting our vegetables when, in fact, this is all pasta, butter, shrimp, chicken, and garlic. Whatever lets the humans sleep at night, I suppose.

Getting closer to done…

I must admit–it smells pretty darn good! But then again, you could put garlic and butter on an old tire and it would smell just as nice.

Time to plate!

Great Frigga’s Corset, that’s ugly!

(nibble, nibble.) You know what? This scampi-adjacent mess is actually good! But don’t tell the humans. I don’t want them getting swelled heads.

Hmm. You know what I think? I think they should find the arborio rice hiding in the pantry tomorrow, that’s what I think.

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Mischief Update–Naughtiness Old and New

(Checks notes) Apparently I’ve been so busy doing photographable mischief that I haven’t had the time to write about all the other mischief I’ve been doing.

Firstly, the roof. You will recall the Hellishly Horrible Hailstorm that Happened Here. Suspecting that the roof had been damaged, the humans had three different roofing companies out to give their opinion. The consensus opinion was that the human female looks awful in shorts. And that the roof is, indeed damaged. Not only that, the gutters and leaf guards on the gutters have taken a big hit, and my army of trained squirrels have eaten all the vent caps. True!

All it takes is a little bit of this.

The humans contacted their insurance agency, who sent someone out to have a look. Days passed, and the insurance company sent a very detailed run-down on what they were willing to pay for all the various steps of roof replacement, gutter replacement, vent caps, etc. So then the humans had to decide which roofing company to go with, and they had to get the gutter company out to offer an opinion as to whether they really need replacing. I had a chat with the roofing company they selected, and made sure that the estimate, when the humans received it, exceeded what the insurance is willing to pay. I had a second chat with the gutter company, which is of the opinion that the gutters don’t need replacing, exactly, but that maybe they need to come off before the new roof goes on. And then go back up or get replaced. Ping-ping back to the roofing company, which says they don’t need to take the gutters off to replace the roof. Return serve to the insurance company, with the humans providing the roofer’s bit and asking what happens if they spend more on the roof and less on the gutters. And that is where the ball lies, with everything on hold as the humans wait to see if the insurance company will increase what they’ll pay for the roof. The first check from them has arrived, and I made sure the bank’s lobby was closed due to lack of staff when he went to deposit it. However this all turns out, you can be sure I will hide some important piece of paperwork that the humans need to submit to prove that they actually did the repairs, so that they can get the remaining settlement money. Assuming we can ever get the repairs to take place. There’s a two-week waiting period for repairs once you even get on the schedule—and who knows how long the repairs will take, or what the roofer will find when the old shingles come off? (He’ll find that plywood has tripled in price in the last few months, that’s what he’ll find…)

I continue to train the felines to add “spice” to the humans’ life. I’ll have to work with Flannel Cat some more, though, and teach her how to harf up her supper more quietly. Unfortunately, last time she did it, she telegraphed her intent with a prodigious gagging noise and some extreme facial contortions, such that the human male was able to leap up from his seat on the sofa so that he was unscathed when the rain of soggy kibble fell from the topmost perch of the cat tree, which stands directly behind the sofa. Flannel spectacularly decorated that perch, the next two levels down, the sofa, and the floor, but she missed the human male. Pity. Both felines routinely hurl upon the bed quilt, though, which necessitates a lot of laundry. Good kitties!

The gold “balloons” on the fence around the Large Ugly Apartments (LUAs) continue to irk me. They put them up, I deflate them,

they put them back up. I deflate the whole row.

So far, I am winning.

As you can see, NO option is Loki-proof, and at at least $7.00 a pop, it all adds up.

Breakfast continues to be fruitful ground for mischief-making. The human female and I had a long conversation the other morning about whether it was useful and saves time if the eggs come pre-cracked.

I say it is. She says it isn’t. Agree to disagree.

The gravity in the bathroom is still functioning.

If I grease the towel rod, I think I can get this to happen on a daily basis…

The lone surviving hollyhock has bloomed. It has frilly, pale pink petals.

Don’t get too attached to it, human female. I’ve inoculated it with some sort of orange rust and invited some spider mites over as well. They’ll go nicely with the runaway mint and the dollarweed I’ve let loose in the lawn.

The humans continue to try new recipes. I like to suggest ingredients to them.

Somehow they did not go for that one.

I meddled with the human female’s iPad tablet so that it would not charge. At all. It was actually losing power while plugged in and eventually shut itself completely off. The human male took it to see if it could be repaired. The repairman plugged it in and it worked perfectly, making everyone look like an idiot. I love it when that happens. Meanwhile, I’ve arranged that the human female’s laptop will, once or twice a day, just decide to stop charging unless she wiggles and waggles the cord around just so to find the sweet spot.

Hmm. What else is new? The next door neighbor mowed down the elm seedling between the houses that the human female had put a big, red, DON’T MOW flag on. So much for a free, conveniently-situated shade tree.

Oh, and my new hobby is putting little pinhead sized holes in all the human female’s favorite shirts. Right in front where they can’t be invisibly mended. And I made sure the only jeans that fit her have been discontinued.

All in all, I’m keeping busy. It’s true that I don’t get to wreak sweet havoc with vendors and office coworkers these days, but it’s still a good life. I mean, I can still arrange for cryptic and confusing email offers like this one.

And it’s time to feed the cats again.

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The Capiz is Kaput, Capisce?

The human male’s mother, as the wife (as I understand it) of a military man, has lived all over Midgard, including some realms somewhere in “The East.” Over the years, she acquired many items of an artistic or knick-knacky nature, some of which have found their way into this household.

One such is a set of Yule ornaments fashioned from very thin shell, decorated with an assortment of beads and sequins.

Sigyn admires them greatly, and I will allow that they have a certain snowy charm, even if the silver-lined beads have tarnished about the ends. The human female has never used them on the large Yule Tree, but she has dangled them from the ficus in the dining room. Since they are practically weightless and quite pretty, they resided there day in and day out for years, slowly twirling in any stray air current and, thankfully, largely ignored by the felines.

As I said, there is a whole set of them, and they are all different.

This was all well and good until the human female decided that 2020 had been such a year that she did not feel up to decorating a large Yule tree (a process which, in this house, takes days and costs lives.) Instead, she festooned twinkly lights around the dining room window and in the aforementioned ficus. The capiz shell ornaments remained, and were joined by some other light-weight trinkets and baubles. It was simultaneously festive and sad, and the tree drooped miserably.

As soon as practical after Yule, the poor beleaguered ficus was un-decorated. The lights and most of the ornaments were banished to their respective boxes in the attic, and the capiz shell ornaments remained on the dining room table until such time as the ficus had recovered somewhat.

Well, as is often the case in this house, things were swept off the dining room table to make room for some other project or game play or baking experiment. The ornaments disappeared and, though the human female has wondered from time to time where they’d got to (*I* could have told her, since I helped clear the table and put them away “safely”), she didn’t do anything about locating them until today, when she needed something out of one of the bookcases in the room and the stack of ornaments slid out of hiding and crashed to the floor.

I am sad to report that vintage glue is no match for such a concussive impact. F=ma, and all that.

There were small losses to the ornamentation before, but quite a lot of sparkly bits are now scattered all over the floor, leaving the translucent disks absolutely bare in spots.

Norns’ nighties, what a mess! There is nothing for it but to sweep up the detritus and think about making repairs.

Unfortunately, though the human female can probably source silver-lined bugle beads fairly easily, some of the more unusual, antique sequins are just not available any longer. The plain ones, yes, and probably the snowflakes as well, but those flower shaped ones or the ones with the crimped edges or the pointy leaves? Not even Sequins Upon Sequins Ad-infinitum (Sequins USA) can help.

What do you think? Too much?

>*|: [

A May Neener Perambulation

The human female and Sigyn and dragging me out on another Neener Walk. Didn’t we just go?

My innocent question was met with a mixture of scorn (the human female) and gentle reproof (Sigyn.) Apparently, things happen quickly in late spring, with the early spring flowers winding down and the summer flowers just appearing on the stage. It is therefore some sort of moral imperative that we take the trail down by the LUAs (Large, Ugly Apartments) and make note of what we see.

Oh, well, as long as it’s for science. (insert eye-roll.)

The highlighter-yellow false dandelions have been up forever.

And so has the bur clover.

The human female says it has been a good year for dogshade. It’s in all the ditches. Sigyn says it looks like lace.

Thistles are old hat. Be careful, my love. You are up very high and they are very prickly.

Greenbriar is also nothing new. This one is just about to bloom

The farkleberry has nearly finished flowering. If I didn’t know it was related to blueberries, I’d think it was kin to lily-of-the-valley. The flowers look a little alike.

No, human, don’t bother me with the slanty Latin name or start harping on monocots and dicots. I don’t care, and you know it.

The venus’ looking-glass has been out for a good bit. It’s tall enough that the human has to lift Sigyn up to get a good view.

The daisy fleabane started early this year and is gong strong.

We should take some home with us, Sigyn. The human female has some itchy bites she says are from fire ants, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she actually had fleas…

This cut-leaf evening primrose has yellow flowers which turn orange as they fade.

I suppose that’s mildly interesting.

I remember the dayflowers from previous years. They’re such an alarming color.

Ah. The spiderworts are up. The human female really likes them.

The brown-eyed susans showed up last month.

And so did the tickseed.

Have you noticed, Sigyn, that all of those yellowy orange composites are always EXACTLY the same color? With blue flowers, there is usually some variation in shade, but nope, these are all the same. That can’t be natural… I don’t trust them.

So where is the new stuff? Things we haven’t seen already this year?

All right–the prairie gentians are new. I will give you that.

Sigyn is squeeing! She thinks she has found “an itty bitty teeny tiny one.”

The human female says no, it’s a centaury, and that it’s a cousin of the gentians. That’s right, human. Take all the fun out of my sweetie’s delight with your tiresome pedantry. No wonder you never get invited anywhere.

I don’t remember seeing this before. If I did, I forgot it.

Go on, Sigyn. Ask her what it’s called. Ehehehe! Look at her waffle and stutter! She can’t remember what its name is! She says she always confuses Mecardonia and Lindernia and can’t remember which one has yellow flowers and which one has white. Woman, you are losing it, and we all know it.

What about this yellow one?

It’s on a small little shrub with shreddy bark. The human female is calling it “St. Andrew’s Cross.” What a ridiculous name. I swear she makes this stuff up.

Odin’s eyepatch! I’ve needled the human female enough that she is barking back at me! “Fine,” she is saying, “If you don’t want to learn anything about botany, show me what you are interested in. What did you see this morning that you liked?”

Glad you asked! I thought this mushroom was neat.

Might have to put some in the next batch of spaghetti sauce…

And this. This makes me very happy.

Because it means somewhere, there is an annoying, cute–possibly even squeaky–stuffed animal that has had its puffy guts ripped out.

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Ruined Breakfast, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

So the human female did end up taking a cart of yogurt with her and eating it when she got where she was going. She soon discovered, however, that–just like the strawberries– the yogurt had frozen solid in the back of the fridge. It had thawed by the time she got to it, and she learned a fun fact: Did you know that when you freeze and thaw Greek yogurt, the result is a thin, watery liquid with tiny, fine curds of yogurt that feel in the mouth a lot like ricotta cheese? She did the best she could, eating her Curds and Whey like some woebegone Miss Muffet. She put the empty carton in a plastic bag, tossed the bag back into her backpack to deal with later, and went about her day.

It is now “later.”

I have written before about the disaster that is the human female’s backpack. The outside is held together with mending and good wishes, and the inside is an unparalleled Chaos Dimension. What you may not know is that in her infantile stupidity, she always totes around a little tin of tiny, knobby plastic building blocks. They go with her everywhere. I have no idea what she sees in them. They are pointless and boring. In any case, to make sure that the tin stays unscratched and that any loose pieces stay corralled, she keeps the tin and some other odds and ends in a little white cloth sack.

Today, I saw to it that the Little Cloth Sack met the Somehow Open Plastic Bag with the “empty” yogurt carton from yesterday’s disastrous breakfast.

Wet is bad. Sticky is bad. Wet and sticky and slightly cheesy is even worse. And because the particular carton of yogurt was one of those that has…

a sidecar of goopy, fruity stuff (which she didn’t finish and didn’t dispose of), the mess is even worse.

Ehehehehe! Have you learned anything from this? Like–I don’t know–maybe making sure your yogurt doesn’t freeze, washing out your used yogurt cartons before dumping them in a bag that’s not really sealed, or–and I’m going out on a limb here–maybe not carrying around little plastic toys all the time?

Sigh. I suspect she won’t absorb the lesson from this situation. She’ll get a reminder tomorrow, though, when she discovers that her sunglasses case has been similarly thoroughly gooped.

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