The humans, at long last, have a date for their roof to be replaced. All that remains is for them to choose the color of the shingles they want. A runner from the roofing company has just delivered the samples.
By Thor’s Bitty Ballpeen! I was expecting a few little bits a few inches square, not these giant, heavy tomes! Let’s heave one open and see what our choices are.
Sigyn is really excited.
I don’t have the heart to tell her that the “adorable doggie” doesn’t come with the shingles.
There quite a few color options. This is the one I want.
Green.It’s the best color for anything. Except maybe bread.
Well, RATS! Apparently no one anywhere has green. I demand that we wait until these are available!
I am being told that my vote does not count. Bad move, mortals. I will remember this.
Double rats! Of all the options shown, only three are actually available.
Whatever happened to the human female’s car, the one with the shattered window?
Oh, child, whatdidn’thappen to the human female’s car!
When she started calling repair places the next day, she found that I’ve tied things up at the dealership so completely that they couldn’t do anything about it for about a week. She then called the auto glass place, and they said they could take it the following day.
Of course, I saw to it that the price was rather “ouch”, but lower than the deductible, so I guess there goes your Cheeto and stamp money for the month.
So she drove it gingerly there, losing only a few tinkling fragments along the way. When she picked it up the next day, the fellow there told her that her battery was–and I quote–“On its last legs.” The he told her that there was something wrong with her VSA (Very Sinister Acronym) and that he’d had to wedge something under her brake pedal to get her brake lights to go off. Of course, she had no clue what he was going on about, but she promised to have it looked at, paid him for the window, and drove on home—with the glowing orange VSA light on the dash shining away.
When she got home, she located the owner’s manual and looked up “VSA”. It informed her that this is the Vehicle Stability Assist System and that she! should! not! drive! without! having it fixed! She called then and made an appointment for bright and early today to, you guessed it, have it fixed.
So that is what we are doing this morning. The humans are both going to drive to the dealership so that they have the male’s car go get breakfast and run some errands. The dealership is not that far from the house, so they don’t need to leave until shortly before that 8:00 a.m. appointment.
Ehehehe! I have, of course, prepared some fun little surprises for them. Surprise number one: The human female’s key fob won’t beep open her car! She’s thinking that maybe the battery in the fob is dead, so the male is trying his. Surprise number two: His won’t either!
It’s a good thing her car is quite long in the tooth, because it actually still has a keyhole. She has now managed to get into her car (glass tinkling and falling), where —surprise number three! some weird little rubber thing is falling out from under the dash and landing on her foot. Hope that wasn’t something important! Surprise number four: The battery is completely dead. Defunct. An ex-battery, if you will. Norns know that if I’d sat outside during February’s deep freeze and August’s pitiless heat I’d be feeling a little punk too!
Cue much consternation because a) they are now going to be very late, and b) though the human female knows where the jumper cables are, the human male has not the slightest notion of how to do it. (He knew, once upon a time, but he forgot. Or so he says.) And, of courses, surprise number four: the cables won’treach between the two cars because the batteries are on the left in each car and the cables don’t quite reach between with the cars side by side–and with the dead car and a wall of sunflowers on the left of the driveway and a fence on the right of the driveway, there isn’t any way to turn the male’s car around in the garage so they can be nose to nose. Clock is ticking!
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Are they going to have to call the auto service, or maybe push the dead car down the driveway and into the alley so they can more auspiciously maneuver the male’s vehicle? Alas, no. They’ve now tried pulling the male’s car so far over toward the female’s that he can’t open his door enough to get out and help . The female has fetched the manual and is referring to the diagram. She can’t quite get the last connection on the specified engine bolt for a ground, but she seems to have found something metal and clipped the cable on. She’s regretting the sunflowers by the driveway right about now, because she’s having to go all the way around both cars and duck under those Asteraceous behemoths to get into her car. Which has, finally, started. Now she has to repeat the cable process in reverse, once again threading her way around both cars.
Oh, you are going to be SO late.
(a bit later, and definitely after 8:00 a.m.) The human female drove very carefully down the access road (if something was going to go wrong, she didn’t want it to go wrong at 70 mph) to the dealership. She has explained everything to the Helpful Young Man who came to greet her, then again to the other Helpful Young Man who is actually going to organize the service: check the battery, and figure out what is going on with the VSA and/or the brake light. Simple, right?
(a bit later again.)
The humans are at their favorite bakery, enjoying some hard-earned treats. (You did wash the engine compartment ickiness off your hands before you started wolfing that breakfast sandwich, didn’t you?) Surprise number five! It’s an anonymous third Helpful Young Man, sending them a video via phone, showing them that, while the air and fuel filters look fine, the power steering fluid is both low and sludgy, and the brake fluid is not looking very good either. The battery has, as suspected, shuffled off its mortal coil (battery coil, get it?). And the tires are looking none too new. What would the humans like him to do? A return text is sent: Yes to flushing and filling the fluids, along with replacing the battery. No to the tires. That is a problem opportunity for mischief for another day.
But what about the VSA???
(later, oh later again)
The humans are now back at the dealership, ready to pick up the female’s freshly refurbished car. They are armed with some coupons, hoping to save a few dollars and planning to sweet-talk their way past the “Coupons must be presented at check-in” rule. The helpful young man is going over everything that was done, and surprise number six! he’s even going to allow the coupon. Isn’t that good of him?
But what about the VSA??? Odin’s eyepatch! The Helpful Young Man forgot all about the VSA. Suddenly, there are a lot of Helpful People involved–and they all seem to remember nearly getting the human male killed earlier this month, because they are all being rather overly effusively apologetic. So sorry! Express service doesn’t usually do diagnostics like this, so we sort of forgot! So sorry! We’ll check that out right away! The Helpful Young Man’s supervisor–I think he may actually be the Head Tech–is now reassuring the humans that the VSA light was probably a result of the failing battery. It’s not on now, and he’s even going to take the car for a little test drive to see if it comes on again.
Now wait just a minute! The Helpful Young Man is now falling all over himself to honor more than one coupon and offer them an additional discount to make up for their wasted time. So sorry! So busy this morning! Come on, mortal! There’s no need to treat the human male and female like royalty. I mean, maybe shove some free popcorn from the popcorn maker at them and offer them a place to sit while everything is finished up, but have some self respect!
(a bit laterish) The Head Tech is back. No Very Sinister Acronym light. Nothing failing, nothing falling off. But wait! What about the weird rubber thing that fell on the human female’s feet? The Head Tech has no clue as to its identity. It is probably whatever the auto class fellow used to fiddle with the brake light.
Norns’ nighties!Surprise number seven! (Well, actually not a surprise if you know the human female. She can’t find the blasted car key to get in and drive home! She’s turning out her pockets and fossicking in every nook and cranny of her backpack trying to find it, while the human male is looking exasperated and the Helpful Young Man is swearing on his ancestors that he thought he handed it back.
Ehehehehe! Surprise number eight: The key WAS handed back, and human male has just discovered it in his pocket. With one final round of apologies and oh-no-it’s-all-fines, we appear to at last be done with this merry little adventure. All’s well that ends well, with only one loose end remaining.
Just what IS this thing?
If the humans manage to figure it out, I will be very surprised.
It’s still too hot to want to cook, but we have to eat something. I suppose we could all sit around under the AC and eat cold cereal every night, but we have not fallen that far. Yet.
The jury is still out about whether just caving and having strawberry ice cream for dinner is déclassé or counts as one serving of fruit and one of dairy.
Tonight, the humans have decided on something of a compromise. They are having a Dim Sum Night–but someone else has had the chore of making all the morsels. One trip to the Oriental Grocery plus a rummage through the freezer for things bought on previous trips should turn up a respectable assortment of things to choose from. Now we just need a pot of boiling water, a bamboo steamer, and a skillet, and the stage is set for a quick dinner without a lot of prep time. And no hot oven, which is a deal-breaker these days.
The steamer is very cleverly made. I like it.
Mostly because I know that *I* will not be the one cleaning it.
Sigyn, let’s see what the humans picked out.
Gyoza. Good choice. Not Chinese, but still delicious, and the human male can usually make these without burning them.
Now wait just a minute! Soup dumplingsare Chinese, but bulgogi? Definitely not. It is very pan-Asian in here tonight!
There are some other dumplings that will be boiled, as well as some broccoli with oyster sauce. I bet the broccoli was the human female’s idea, as a nod to “nutrition.”
Mmm! I think some things are ready! Rather than wait until everything is done, let’s sample them as they come.
The boiled dumplings look pale and sort of lonely on the plate, but they’re full of tasty meat and veggies, so I will happily put them out of their misery.
These want a spoon, because they really are full of filling and soup! I looked up how they make them, and it turns out that the soup goes in as a sort of jelly and only melts into soup as the dumplings are cooked. Don’t watch the human female eat hers, Sigyn. I saw it once. It’s not pretty.
Here come the gyoza!
Crispy on the bottom, tender on the top. You distract the human female and I’ll snag us one or two of hers as well as our own.
Sigyn gets excited about broccoli. So excited, in fact, that she forgot the oyster sauce. Maybe next time.
The human female says we have something special for desert tonight. I wonder what it is?
Owww! My ears! Great Frigga’s Corset, Sigyn, what is all the squealing for?
Hedge-hog shaped bao buns full of sweet red beany goo. I must admit, this is a thing of whose existence I had never once conceived.
More squealing! But not the happy kind. What now?
Custard-filled bunny buns! Sigyn doesn’t know which is worse, that we are going to eat little bunnies or the fact that they appear to have their eyes on their ears….
Fortunately, there are also apple-flavored mochi, another product I have never tried.
(poke, poke, poke) They certainly have that soft, small-mammally texture I associate with mochi. I wonder what they’re full of? Or maybe they’re solid all the way through?
Apple goo! And it’s delicious!
That is just the sort of meal I like–I didn’t have to make it, I’m not going to clean up after it, and there was as much dessert as anything else. Apart from the disturbing bunnies, I think it was a great success.
Best part? There is more of everything in the freezer so we can do this all again!
The human female is still adding stamps to her stupid collection. She’s finding some cheap in online auctions. These came the other day.
Sigyn, of course, loves them. She says they’re “botanically correct” and “little works of art”, and besides, the human female already has a set like this one, but with different plants. She thinks they’ll look good together on an album page. That’s assuming the human female ever gets around to putting all her stamps in albums, which is a mighty big assumption!
Other stamps are coming in on approval. I’ve mentioned some of these before. Historically, approval stamps were sent to a collector on approval–the collector paid for and kept the ones they wanted and returned the others. Nowadays, it’s all online. People put up images of what they have for sale and collectors can page through virtual “albums” to see if what’s on offer corresponds with holes in their own collections. The prices are usually very low, and the human female has been grabbing things up with an enthusiasm equaled only to that engendered by a family size bag of Cheetos.
More purchases arrived in the mail today! Sometimes, Purveyors of Philately catch onto the fact that she likes stamps with plants and sweeten the experience by putting botanical stamps on the envelopes.
Other times, not so much.
Let’s see what we have here.
Looks like a nice assortment from a variety of realms.
I see some Japanese stamps. Sigyn is particularly taken by the one shaped like a watermelon wedge. The Vietnam one is nice too, I suppose, but I predict the human female is going to have the very devil of a time identifying the two pinkand yellow Japanese stamps. She’s going to have to comb through every 82 yen stamp in the catalog, because of course doing something sensible like putting the year on their stamps never occurred to anyone over there.
I’m looking at a group of little flower definitives from Germany. If the human female can manage to collect the whole set, issued over a number of years, it will actually be worth something. If not, they’re just colorful pieces of paper.
Like very, very nerdy confetti.
And see those two stamps with blue backgrounds and white flowers? They go with two others already in her collection. There is a fifth one, and the seller had it, too. Too bad someone beat her to it… Now she’s going to have to check all the approval books forever, until she finds that elusive DDR 1194.
I can’t tell if she’s indulging in a harmless hobby or a well-embarked upon a slow descent into madness. I don’t know whether to shoo her away from the stamp sites late at night or aid and abet her spending money on something she can’t eat, wear, read, or shelter in. I mean, every penny spent on stamps is a penny not spent on something *I* can eat, wear, read, or shelter in. I suppose it will depend on how far she’s willing to go to collect every. botanical. stamp. ever.
But, hey, woman–did you see that someone’s auctioning a souvenir sheet with set of poorly-drawn peonies from Angola? With some strange little faces in the margin?
The female is out at the herbarium again, dealing with the last few genera in the part of the Big Book of Boring Botany she’s working on.
Xanthium! Today she’s addressing the genus that includes cockleburs. Cockleburs are are such fun–you can stick them all over people, knock botanists into bur-laden plants, or just leave the prickly little porcupine eggs where they can be appreciated by the unwary at a later date.
There are two species of cocklebur in Texas. The human female is wondering how best to tell them apart, so she is doing a little reading. Hmm. It says here that X. strumarium is quitecommon in wettish areas. It has broad, oval-ish leaves, large burs, and smooth stems. X. spinosum, which is less widespread in this state, has narrower leaves, smaller burs and—
Sweet Sif on a Poppyseed Cracker! LOOK at those spines! Some of them are almost as long as my Sigyn is tall! There is no way anyone could confuse this with its far-less-lethal cousin.
I approve of this plant. I feel a soul-deep bond with this plant. Non-native, spikey, maligned, and capable of dealing damage on an unprecedented scale, both of us. We understand one another, this plant and I. I want a dozen of them, immediately, for the front flower bed back home, and another fifty or sixty for the back yard.
Isn’t this beautiful? I’ve been dabbling a bit in modern art and special effects, and I’m very proud of it.
I think thebluelighting is very effective.
What is it? Well may you ask!
I spent most of last night trying to think of what mischief to do next, and about three a.m. I listened to my black little heart, and it was whispering, “Having one active claim in with Usually Sounds Amiable…Although is not enough. You can do better. You can do more.”
It’s true. I CAN do more. With the craft room all taken care of, there’s only the roof to vex the humans. The Helpful People at USAA are going to think the humans don’t love them anymore, so today I did this.
That is the rear driver’s-side window of the human female’s car. She walked out of the herbarium and just found it like this.
Isn’t that pretty? Observe how the shatter pattern radiates from one spot, like the tail of some precious and mystical comet.
The human female literally does not know what hit her. She didn’t hear anything hit the car when she was in it, so she doesn’t know if a someone mowing the lawn out near the herbarium flung a rock with a mower or whether it was a small pit made by gravel spun up by a passing vehicle at some point in the past. In this part of Midgard, it’s not unusual for a tiny pit or crack to suddenly propagate if the temperatures get extreme and, well, it is August.
What she does know is that this isn’t going to be cheap or easy to fix. After speaking with Usually Sounds Amiable…Although, she knows that the special clause in her auto policy that lets windshields get replaced for a $100.00 deductible with very little paperwork is not going to apply. Because this is a side window, the full $500 deductible on the policy will be invoked. It’ll only make sense to file a claim if the bill is over $500. So now she gets the fun of calling all the auto glass places and the dealership to see what it’s going to take to fix this. In the meantime, she’s holding her breath lest some stray cat or bird peck or falling acorn or extra-heavy air molecule completes the shattering, leaving her with a gaping hole and a lot of glass to sweep up.
It feels good to have another open-ended project set in motion. And I couldn’t very well let Hello This is Claudia How Can I Help You feel neglected, now could I?
Bleargh. It’s too hot out to want to walk in the neighborhood. It’s too hot to want to get in the kitchen and cook. And the human female hasn’t replaced her stitching lamp yet, so things have been very boring here. No wildflowers, no homemade bread, and no needlework to sabotage. It’s just herbarium plants and postage stamps. I have had to content myself with the ongoing woes of condestruction and jamming monkey wrenches into the humans’ trying to get out of town to visit the female’s mother. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
The ficus that the human female had to repot isn’t in quite a big enough pot and the pot it is in has soil up to the rim, so that every time she waters it, water overflows onto the books in the bookcase below. While I hate to damage a book, watching her kick herself for forgetting to buy a new pot makes me chuckle every time.
Attempts Total Involvement finally did finish the craft room ceiling.
They did a very good job, but the crew let the humans know they were on their own with regard to getting all the books from their temporary bunker in the garage back onto the shelves, despite what the original representative had said. In the end, the project manager and his trainee helped the human female lug all the boxes, and then she spent the better part of two days putting her room back to rights. Of course, I slipped the books a few magic fertility pills, and the human female swears she reshelved more books than she boxed up. She’s not wrong… I also multiplied the various tchotchkes and doohickeys that inhabit the windowsill. She has a functional room again, but if she purchases so much as a pin, something will explode. Naturally, I signed her up for the newsletter of every quilt fabric and bead purveyor there is.
The roof is still up in the air, as roofs are wont to be. The human male has expended approximately one-quarter of his time recently on trying to reach the roofer, who supposedly had worked out a contract with Usually Sounds Amiable…Although. He succeeded in making contact just last Friday. (I had convinced the roofer that the humans wanted to wait until they could get green shingles again, which is definitely not the case.) Suddenly, the project went from “Roofer? What roofer?” to “We can start week after next,” which has toppled several boxes worth of dominoes, calendar- vist-the-mother-wise. There will be a choice between Boring Brown and Grizzly Gray, which no one is pleased with. That’s a fine bit of mischief, but even I will miss the green ones. And after the roof, there will be gutters. Gutters offer so many opportunities for mischief and landscape wreckage; I’m sure at least of of the inhabitants of this house is going to enjoy the process.
The rest of the human male’s time has been spent on the phone with Usually Sounds Amiable… Although. I felt it was not sufficient mischief for him to have to listen to their scratchy, repetitive scratchy repetitive scratchy repetitive hold music for hours at a time trying to get word about the roof. Thus, I had his USAA credit card develop problems. In the past, the humans have had the USAA house and car insurance billed once or twice yearly to the USAA credit card, which the humans pay off every month. I got bored with that, so when USAA updated their customer information files, I switched them to having their insurance billed monthly. The male called and had them put that to rights. I unfixed it, so he kept getting daily email and calls about updating his information. He called again. I unfixed it again. We did several rounds of that, and he thinks the billing is straightened out. Ehehehehe. We shall see, mortal. We shall see.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t leave the human female feeling left out, so I played a little havoc with her credit card as well. She finally, finally found some jeans at Keeps Old Hairy Ladies Satisfied that fit her lumpy form, and she bought two pair. They were even on sale! The Helpful Clerk at the checkout told her that she could save 20% if she opened a charge account, which she agreed to (with the idea of paying it off immediately and then cutting up the card). Imagine her mortification when her card was declined at the register. She’s not insolvent (though I took care it should look that way to the lengthening line behind her!)–it was simply trying to read the card as a debit card, which it is not set up to be. So she tried her bank debit card–and it wouldn’t take that either! And she wasn’t carrying cash! Great Frigga’s corset! Was her facered! The clerk (no doubt memorizing her features so as to watch for them on the evening news or a post-office wanted poster) told her she could wait for the bill in the mail, address the charge online, or come into the store any time to pay her bill in an acceptable fashion.
She attempted to activate her new card online and pay it. She was unaware, you see, that I have a nice side hustle designing black-smudged gray-on-gray Captcha images and insuring that log-ins time out and then pages fail entirely. Ehehehe! She couldn’t get anywhere near a payment screen! She would have to pay in person. Once the human female felt she could show her face in the establishment again, she went in to do just that. And her credit card was declined again! And so was her debit card! Cue more groveling and humiliation! Lucky for her, the human male was along for the ride, and his debit card works. Finally the sales associate figured out that the reason the female’s credit card won’t work is because it IS a credit card. In his words, “You can’t pay credit with credit.” She gave up trying to explain to him that KOHLS was still getting paid, but he would have none of it.
Of course, the next errand was to the bank to try to get the human female’s debit card working again. The Helpful Banker says a new card should be arriving “soon,” but we all know how elastic a “soon” can be! The HB also informed the humans that, contrary to what they had been told, now that the bank has been sold to a Still Larger Bank, the account number which they have had since 1981 will be changed. I am going to pour myself a cold ale and sit back and watch while they try to think of all of the places their bank account number is, as well as all of the automatic payments they are going to have to reconfigure. It goes without saying that their retirement pension automatically goes into that account, which means dealing with They’re Really Swamped (AKA They Who Do Not Answer E-mail or Hire Sufficient Phone Answerers) to make sure their monthly pittances go to the right place. I’m starting a pool about how long it will take them to get that sorted–any takers? This will be the fourth time the bank has changed hands or reorganized since the human female opened the account. Oh, well. She keeps threatening to replace the hung-upside down wallpaper in the front hall. She can use all the now-useless checks with the now-obsolete bank name to do the job. They’re blue. It’ll look swell.
Hmm. What next…? I did car repairs recently. The felines manage their own mischief, upchucking on handmade quilts without any prompting from me. I know! It’s time for parking permit renewals. Maybe I’ll get involved with that.
I had such fun breaking things yesterday that I just can’t stop. What can I get my hands on today? Which of the human female’s oft-used belongings shall I mangle next?
Ohhh. That’s a good one! It’s summer, and sometimes she comes all over warm and has to fan herself furiously while she blushes and sweats. She usually has this or another fan handy, and when they snap mid-waft–or else come out of the purse or backpack broken– it’s always good for a chuckle. As you can see, it’s usually one of the outside blades that breaks.
Yep, broken again, down near the pin that holds it all together. Perdóname, señoras elegantes. Estoy a punto de acercarme mucho y sacar el pegamento. Prometo no mirar debajo de tus faldas.
Yup, snapped clear through.
Are we ready?
We’ll just let that cure for a bit.
And then we’ll see if it holds any better than the previous three breaks she’s mended.
She does have another fan, a pleated paper one. It has a metal handle in two parts so that it can fold up into a case–no plastic to break. Looks sort of like this:
She got it years ago as a thank-you from the two Asian students who came to pick up a sofa she and the human male were giving away. She forgot she had it until she found it when she was dealing with the wreckage in the craft room the other day. It moves a lot of air and fits neatly in her purse and she really likes it.
I have had enough botany for a while! I think I’ve earned a break.
As in, I think it’s time to break something.
I think I’ll start with this.
Looks like some sort of fancy tournament weapon, doesn’t it?
Wrong! It’s the human female’s specially-ordered, specially-expensive microscale. Or, it is when this bit:
…is attached to the end of the wand-y part. It’s engraved in 0.1 mm increments, which lets her hold it next to things under the microscope and measure all sorts of really tiny planty bits that only other botany nerds care about. Too bad she doesn’t know how to solder. She’ll have to see if super-glue works. I’m betting the answer is “no.”
Tsk, tsk. They just don’t make hangers like they used to…
One more! I wanna do one more. Hmm. What would be most annoying?
Rats! She caught it as it was falling off her arm, rather than losing it somewhere. And the little spring-loaded pin stayed on the watch. It’s just the leather that separated. I must be losing my touch.
Supposedly this stuff works on leather.
I think she’ll find, however, that it works best on glue caps…