Month: October 2021

And People Say I’m Too Hard on the Human Female

I get all sorts of complaints. “You’re too hard on the human female.” “I don’t like it when you say bad things about her.” “You should try to be nicer to her. After all, you’re sharing her home, RENT-FREE.”

To these, I say…Pfffft! You have NO idea the aggravation that mortal brings to my life, the daily annoyances and cheerful stupidity I have to put up with! The countless indignities to which I am subjected… Really, she only gets what she deserves.

And for some inexplicable reason, her disrespect seems to reach a peak at this time of year. On All Hallows, she frequently earns an entire year of mischification just by what she tries to make me wear. I tell you, this year I won’t do it. She wants someone dresssed up like a pea-pod she can damn well wriggle into the blasted costume herself!

Unfortunately, I have been very busy planning my conquest of Midgard and I failed to notice how advanced the month had become. By the time I gave any thought to what to “be” this year, all the good costumes were gone from the rental shop, and it’s a point of pride with me not to just cast a glamor over myself and look like whatever I choose. Thus, while Sigyn scored herself an amazing costume, well….you’ll see. (Or if I have anything to say about it, you won’t.)

“Behold, my Sigyn!”

“Beautiful as always, my love, but show everyone the rest of your costume. Turn so that they can get a proper look at you.”

“Isn’t she magnificent?! She is beauty, she is grace, she’s a centaur with a smiling face! You look very fierce my love, with your wrist bracers and quiver and short bow. Ready to take on anything!”

“Come on, Loki, don’t be shy! Come show everyone what you’re wearing this year.”

“I am not coming out.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. The human female chose it specially. You’re going to be fine.”

“I won’t and you can’t make me.”

“I’ll give you all the dark chocolate I get tonight…”

“Promise?”

“Yes. Come on, come out here.”

“Fine. But if anyone laughs, there will be bloodshed.”

“Grrr. Not only has the human female stuck me, a literal god, in a chocolate rabbit suit, but she’s hidden my All Hallows pillowcase and told me that of course, an Eater Bunny would have a basket, instead. I’m betting that not only will people laugh (bloodshed, remember!), I won’t be able to haul a quarter the goodies I usually bring home. And there’s no room in this getup for weapons. Every part of this stinks.”

“I think you look cute!”

“I don’t want to be cute.

“Oh, come on. It will be fun!”

“Do I have to?”

“Pretty please? For me? If you want to take a weapon along, I can carry Gungnir for you so it’s handy if you need it.”

“Sigh. Very well. But I want it noted that I do so only under extreme protest.”

“I’ll go but I won’t have fun.”

(later)

“Well, that went about how I thought it would. Everyone laughed. I have a list as long as my arm of people who are scheduled for a thorough smiting. And to top it off, we didn’t even really get any good candy. The house on the corner, that one with the weird vegans, they were handing out apples.

“The ONLY good part of the entire evening was how great my sweetie looks in leather.

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How Is It Spooky Season Again Already?

How is the end of October nearly upon us? How is it All Things Black and Orange time again? Time has no meaning anymore–and the cognitive dissonance is not helped by the fact that the All Hallow’s Eve tat has been out since AUGUST.

I shall speak to my followers from my candy papal balcony

Oh, well. My sweet, let’s see what’s on offer. Perhaps there is something amusing. Or something really hideous I can buy for the human female.

I don’t know…. Does this count as amusing?

It certainly counts as unnecessary.

We could buy some questionable wall decor.

It would certainly be appropriate, given the human female’s approach to housework. Or we could remind ourselves–as if we could forget–just what part of Midgard we live in.

Ugh. No. Because if it goes up in the house I will have to see it, too.

Uh, oh! The shelf-tidying person is headed our way. Quick, Sigyn! Act like you are really interested in something while I pretend not to be plotting mischief.

Ah, yes. Cucurbitaceous salt and pepper shakers. Good choice.

Oh, even better!

They’re certainly ticking the “hideous” box! Let’s buy them as a gift! The human female will have to display them prominently so as not to hurt our feelings, and they’re sure to clash with everything. And I think they’re meant to be tea-light holders, so there’s always the chance she could singe her fingers lighting them up. Bonus!

Or, no, wait! THESE.

All hail, the evil Toad King and his Lovely Bride!

Or is this fellow better. I mean, worse?

Hey, little guy! What’s your name?

Actually, I think he’s kind of cute, and he just makes me miss Jormungandr…

This or the big rubber spider behind me would be good, but unfortunately the human female is not afraid of members of the Chelicerata.

Sigyn, are you having any better luck over there?

Sweetie, I think you’re missing the point of this exercise. This lantern is almost attractive.

And, light of my life, please take care you do not become trapped in there. (You know it’s not just possible, but actually very likely, given your track record…)

Hmm. Not hideous. Maybe amusing?

If we get invited to an All Hallows parade, it will be just the thing. You could ride along and throw candy to younglings. (Keeping, of course, all the best dark chocolates for me.)

Say, isn’t there usually a plethora of anatomically incorrect skeletons —?

Unhand her, you ossified miscreant! If I find even one little perforation on my beloved, I will scatter you across multiple hectares of barren ground and then set the pieces alight.

Are you all right, my love?

Sigh. Apparently all right enough to get into more trouble!

(Smite, smite, smite.) Rescued again!

Do you know, Petal, I think we should abandon my plan to find something awful for the human female, cut our losses, and just go home. You’re all covered with alligator bone dust and rabid rat spit, and it’s going to take all afternoon to decontaminate you and make you tidy again. The human female will just have to be hideous enough on her own.

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I Have Trained the Minions Well (Wordless Wednesday)

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Batting 1.000

As much fun as we have had looking at plants recently, it is time to think about eating some. Thus, a trip to the local greengrocer.

On second thought, we might not want to eat these.

I expect they’d be rather rubbery and chewy. Sigyn is enchanted by how none of them are green. The pink ones are her favorite (so very nearly red), but the gray ones have caught her attention too.

This one, now.

I still owe the human female for losing my helmet in the sedge meadow, so I think this magnificent specimen is going in her next salad. “Here, madam. I have prepared an unusually succulent repast for you.” I won’t even be lying!

But we are here for more traditional fare. I got all excited when I saw the sign for these:

Until I realized that these aren’t going to be full of actual blood. They’re just red inside. Rats. I was planning such a surprise for the human female’s morning juice!

Lettuce. Carrots. Apples. Lots of apples. Pecans. Pumpkins. Beans. The usual.

Lettuce see (ha! See what I did there?) what non-produce comestibles they have. There is some whitish cheese in the cooler, and they have the Middle Eastern flatbread again. I’ve made them stop carrying the Parmesan cheese breadsticks the human female likes–again!, and that low sugar yogurt she bought here once but hasn’t been able to find again. She could get a big sack of lentils though. Yogurt/lentils. Same, same.

The human male has reminded her that they are nearly out of popcorn. They usually get the heirloom kind with the thin reddish-black hulls. Do they have some today?

Noop. Not unless Amish popcorn is invisible.

Ehehehehe…

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Lick Creek Park, Aftermath

Today is Master Naturalist field trip day!

We certainly couldn’t ask for a nicer day. A cold front blew in last night, and it is actually JACKET WEATHER! The group is a nice size–enough people to be interested and ask good questions, but small enough to be able to pay attention to everyone.

We…are…moving…very…very…s l o w l y. The human female has a lot to say about a lot of things. The information just keeps coming! It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose.

Great Frigga’s Corset! One of the budding Master Naturalists has spotted a plant the human female has not recorded before in the park. It’s a great, tall grass with spikelets like nothing I have seen before.

Eastern Gama Grass. The male flowers are at the top of the spike (to the left, but not open yet.) The female flowers are lower down in the inflorescence (to the right) and have these fantastic, purple, fuzzy styles. The male flowers will fall away once their work is done, and the fruit of each female flower will be hard and cylindrical like a bead and eventually fall separately. Nice find!

Trees. More trees. More grass. Some shrubs. Things with berries. Things without berries. More trees. Stupid bench.

Sigyn, look! What’s that?

Ow! Squealing! Apparently it is ladies’ tresses orchid season and that is one of them. It’s not one of the Navasota ladies’ tresses–those are endangered and much less common–but it is still an orchid. Sigyn thinks the way the flowers are in two spirals up the stem is pretty cool. I like the way the plants blooom without their leaves (which are up only in the spring) and how none of the scientists has figured out yet what weather conditions make for a good orchid year. The human female is doing something complicated with her hand, showing how the shapes of the flowers of the common and rare ones are different. Everyone is looking at her blankly. And yet she is undeterred.

(later)

Oh, how my wrath shall grow and rage until I smite the human female with all that is in me! We finished the field trip and are home now. The human female is counting it as a success, as several people wanted to stay past the allotted time and explore with her. I count it as a disaster! You know how nature nerds always say, “Take only photos, leave only footprints”? Well, the human female left something in the park and I’m not sure I shall ever get it back.

We were down by the Great Desolation again, looking at all of the white-flowered, no-longer-a-mystery white Bidens. While everyone was oohing and ahhing over the silly thing, Sigyn and I sat down in the shade to rest a bit. I took off my helmet because the day was growing a little hot after all. I told the human female to be sure to carry it back to the car for me (it does get heavy), but she was too busy yakking and I guess she did not hear my instructions, because when we disembarked at home just now, my gorgeous horns were nowhere to be found! That hag LOST my helmet somewhere near the sedge meadow, probably in a patch of that stinky Pluchea! She swears it was an accident, but I’m fairly certain she did it on purpose. I’ve had to magic up a spare. Do you see now why whatever mischief I whip up for her is no more than she deserves?

She did manage to come back with this:

She says it is probably Carolina laurel cherry. It has alternate, simple leaves, and the bark “looked Prunus-y”–whatever that means. It is, however, missing one of the diagnostic features of Prunus caroliniana, two tiny, dark glands on the underside of the leaf, one on each side of the leaf stalk. Do you see any glands, love?

She says she’ll have to go back in the spring and see what the flowers look like. If she can remember where it is…

The mystery plant sample is not all that followed us home today.

There is, she says, rather a lot of panicle-leaved tick-trefoil in the park this year. It has small, pink beany flowers and little legumes that break up into one-seeded segments just loaded with microscopic, hooked hairs. They really do cling like ticks.

This will teach her not to tie her jacket around her waist and then wade through the tall stuff! She is well and truly covered with these little clingers, and she’s going to have to sit and pick them off her pants, jacket, sweatshirt, and bootlaces one… by… one… by… one. (Serves her right!)

Ehehehe! That is a LOT of little velcro-y bits! And that’s not even counting the one ones she hasn’t found yet. She’ll be finding them in the laundry for weeks, if I have anything to say about it.

Augh! I can feel…. They’re on me, too, aren’t they Sigyn?

Get them off! Get them off! I was very careful not to get any at the park. These are just from her picking them off her clothes and flinging them every which way. She is just about as hapless as it is possible for a single mortal to be, and this day’s work will cost her another few years of grief from me—and she’s getting off lightly.

Grumble, grumble, grumble. Plot, plot, plot…

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Lick Creek Park and the Mystery Composite, Revisited

The human female has been kicking herself for dropping the ball on the mystery composite. So here we are all, back out at Lick Creek Park to see if we can locate the remains of the one she uprooted or, should the Norns send a miracle, another of its kind.

Botanical incompetence aside, it’s a lovely day, bright and somewhat cooler. The goldenrod is beginning to make a fine show.

I see you, Sigyn!

The camphorweed is just as enthusiastic and just as yellow.

The lobelia, in contrast, is a rather fetching shade of purplish blue.

What are you staring at so intently, my love? What is it that has you so enthralled?

Oh. The human female says the corollas are “fenestrate”. The petals are all fused together except for a slit or “window” along one side through which the stamens can be seen.

She remembered the word “fenestrate.” Maybe she’s not a total botanical failure.

Down here in the bottomlands, there is a lot of climbing hempvine. As in, A LOT, a lot.

There is also a truly staggering amount of sumpweed, ragweed, and cocklebur. All things sneezy and prickly.

Some of the southern wax myrtles are doing quite well. Sigyn loves its fragrant foliage

I really need to buy my sweetie some sunglasses.

In the really damp spots, there is knotweed and the repulsively stinky, pink-flowered camphorweed.

I know–I just said that yellow thing up there was camphorweed–and it is. This pink stuff:

is in a different genus, Pluchea. And it really does smell terrible! “Pluchea” is sort of the noise you make when you smell it. Probably meant to keep herbivores away. I know *I* wouldn’t munch on it!

Hold on! What is that?!

It’s the human female’s mystery composite! And look at how big this one is! The leaves at the top of the stem look completely different from the foliage she saw before. She has some good heads to look at, too.

And fruit! Lots of little, spikey fruit. She might actually be able to redeem herself with this!

She is reasonably certain that this is a Bidens. It all fits–compound leaves, likes wet spots, fruits each with two long awns, like antennae on a bug. It is might even be a native that just hasn’t been documented for the park before. Time to take a better-yet-not-destructive sample and go home and hit the books again.

(later)

That took forever, but the plant now has a name. It is, indeed, a Bidens. Hairy beggarticks. She thought that it would be fairly simple to figure out which one, since not all of them have rays, and of the ones that do, many have yellow rays rather than white. Of the ones with white flowers, not all have achenes with minutely barbed awns. It was keying out one way in her big, older book of Texas botany and a different way, Bidens pilosa, in the manuscript she just edited, and yet it looked just like the photos and specimens of Bidens alba she was seeing online. But the Flora of North America site doesn’t even have Bidens alba, though the USDA site does–though not for Texas. Eventually she actually read all of the material in the manuscript she edited and was reminded that newer treatments have placed plants formerly called Bidens alba into Bidens pilosa, which does grow in Texas. So, basically, she was trying to tell it from itself. It is known from East Texas and from West Texas but has not been recorded from this county before. Either no one has been poking about in the right places at the right time to find it here (less likely) or it has indeed been brought in with the construction (more likely.) The human female has never seen a live plant of it before, so I suppose she can be forgiven for not recognizing it immediately from written descriptions she worked on over a year ago.

But for the sloppy initial botany? She’s going to have to repent long and hard for that.

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In Which the Human Female Completely Forgets How to Botanist

Sigyn! Guess where we’re going today? Lick Creek Park! We haven’t been there for ages. There was the plague, the blocked trails, the rampant destruction from the construction of the water treatment line that runs through the park, etc., etc.–the human female hasn’t dared go out there for months and months, for fear she’ll have her heart broken again.

But since she’s supposed to lead a field trip out there in a few days, she figures she should go out and relearn the trails and make sure she can speak intelligibly about the plants.

And here we are! Hmm. The plantings around the Nature Center don’t look very good. I don’t think the budget stretches to as much maintenance as they might need. Hold on–where’d Sigyn go? She was right here.

Idunn’s little green apples! I turned my back for one minute and where do I find her? Dangling from a tree! (She’s such an eager little thing.)

Hold on–that is a river birch. By the Nature Center. “Nature” didn’t put that there, I can tell you that much. The staff must be giving it all the water on the planet to keep it happy up here in the uplands. Still, having one so agreeably handy to show the field trip participants will be convenient. Otherwise, the human female would have to drag her field trippers through some pretty thick bottomland to point one out. Good, find, my love!

Now here’s a bit of garden that is looking much more lively. It’s maintained by the local chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, and it is just full of plants that hummingbirds and butterflies like.

In September, this place just fizzes with hummers, but it’s a bit late for them now.

(a bit later)

We’ve been wending our way down to the bottomland. The usual fall plants are out. The female yaupon hollies are all decked out with shiny fruit, and the deciduous holly is coloring up nicely as well.

Sigyn loves them now when the fruits are yellow. She’ll love them even more when they are bright red later on.

The shining sumac is already red.

Sigyn, my love, is the sun in your eyes? Here, try this other branch down here where you can dangle in the shade and still appreciate the fall color.

Sweet Sif on a Cracker! Where the human female usually stops with a group to talk about the native grasses in a little grassy open area, the City has mowed the grasses down and put in an ornate concrete bench and a stone path. In the nature park. It sticks out like two sore thumbs.

Not only that, we have reached what used to be Deer Run Trail, which ran along the old inflow line to the water treatment plant. Last time we were here, they had cleared it out to a width of forty meters and it was completely devastated. Nothing but mud and trenches. I’m sorry to say it doesn’t look much better now. The new line is in and the trenches filled, but it’s still all bare and open, hundreds of trees are missing and, even though the City promised to do remediation, that seems to have consisted of planting a few trees and calling it a day. And most of those trees are live oaks, which do not occur naturally in the park. I think the human female is having a little stroke, or at least a spittle-flecked nutty.

And oh, what now? The human female has stopped dead in her tracks because she has seen A Flower. Here in the wasteland, where it is all cocklebur and croton, she has spotted something with an actual showy bloom. It looks like an escaped zinnia. Something Asteraceous, anyway. Probably some weird waif brought in on construction equipment. The foliage isn’t something she recognizes either. It is definitely something that should not be here. Snap! One weed, broken off at the ground. She’ll take one of the flower heads and this glorious photo:

And no doubt she’ll be able to hit the books and figure it out in no time. Then she can be good and outraged about yet another foreign weed in the park.

In any case, it’s getting HOT out here and the trails are more or less where the human female left them, so it’s time to head home.

(later)

Ehehehehe!!! The human female has now spent hours trying to figure out what that white flower is! It is nothing she’s seen in the Park before. It’s not a zinnia, and it’s nothing cultivated that she recognizes. It’s not even anything she recognizes as being from Texas! Oh, frustrated botanist, let me gloat about just how badly you’ve messed up.

Did you get a good photo? No, you did not. I’ll put the photo here again so no one has to scroll.

Just look at that! It’s the botanical equivalent of a Loch Ness Monster photo. Worse than useless.

Did you look around and see if there were other plants of the same sort so you could get some idea of the variation? No? Pitiful!

You KNOW composites are tricky–you spent the better part of two years editing a manuscript on them! You know you can’t get anywhere without having the tiny fruits to look at. Did you collect any? No, you did not! That is the sort of mistake you used to chew your undergrads out for.

Did you get a GPS point of where you collected this interloper? No? What’s that stupid fancy phone for, then? Do you think you could find the spot again? Oh, wait, that’s right, you broke the only plant you saw off at the ground.

Everything wrong. Everything. You will never figure that plant out now. Retirement has turned your brain into tapioca pudding. I think it’s time to turn in your credentials and maybe even offer to send your M.S. diploma back to the University.

Even Sigyn is disappointed in you. Let that sink in.

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Of Zinnias and Mooncakes

I do soooo much mischief that sometimes I can’t keep track of it all and I fall behind in writing about it. No rest for the wicked! And sometimes it’s the little, not-especially-mischiefy things in life I don’t get down on paper. Or electrons. Whatever.

ANYWAY. This is by way of being a catch-up. None of this is recent, but it made Sigyn smile, so it’s important.

The human male came home one day with some enormous zinnias (plus some thistles) that someone at church gave him.

There was a red one AND a yellow one, so Sigyn was extra excited.

That right there is some pretty decent camouflage.

And one day, somewhat after the traditional equinoctial celebration, the human male came home from the oriental market with the biggest, last-chance-for-this-year mooncake Sigyn and I had ever seen.

It was enormous.

Could Sigyn and the human female eat it in one go? They were certainly willing to try.

(poke, poke poke.) The wrapper said it was filled with lotus seed paste. But I didn’t trust it, because I know that often there are other things hidden inside.

The human female, pretending she wasn’t going to eat all of it, cut herself a slice. (She wasn’t fooling anyone.)

See?! I knew there was something else lurking inside! Vindication! People really should learn to listen to me.

But what was the orange stuff? The human female took a bite and said she thought it tasted like egg yolks. Sure enough, she did a little looking online and learned that mooncakes are often filled with salted duck egg yolk. She and Sigyn didn’t care for it much and didn’t eat it, but they ate the cake and the lotus seed paste, all the while reading about Mooncakes and What Goes In Them. Apparently, the really fancy ones have two egg yolks inside.

Then the human female read how many calories are in one of these things, put her fork down, and turned a funny color. She and Sigyn by this point had eaten most of it between the two of them, so they shamefacedly put the rest in the cold box to save for another day. Sigyn, of course, doesn’t need to worry about her figure, but the human female is a different story. She consoled herself by thinking that since they didn’t eat the egg yolk and saved a bit for later, it was probably only million calories instead of a million and a half.

The only person who believes her lies is her, but then, she’s extra-gullible.

Anyway, we had two fall treats, one colorful and one sweet. Which brings to mind the ancient Chinese saying,

更明智的做法是在远处吃花和欣赏蛋糕,这样裤子才能继续合身。

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Well, What Did You Expect?

I have noted before the human female’s preference for unusual colors in fountain pen ink. She is also rather finicky about her pens. Perhaps you recall the antique olive green one she purchased at her first pen show? It has never functioned satisfactorily, being unpleasantly “scratchy. Recently, she had an expert adjust the tines so that now it writes smoothly.

She wants to fill it with an olive-green ink to match the pen. That weird color she has called “Walk the Dog” is just about perfect. The human male filled the pen for her yesterday, did a little test sentence, and handed it over. The middle sample is what the ink is supposed to look like. (The bottom one is her weird pinto bean ink, “Brunch Date.”)

So it does write olive for the human male. The human female’s test sentence is at the top up there. Tada! While olive green is green, I like darker greens better, so I changed it for her. No olive here, no sir!

After she asked herself what ink had been in the pen last (because, even though the human male flushed the pen, sometimes there’s a little carry-over), she located her little pen notebook in which she writes down what is in all of her pens.

Ehehehehehe! See that?! Same pen, the Shaeffer 275, and the same ink! Dark green in the Shaeffer and olive green in anything else!

I have thoroughly enspelled this particular writing instrument, and no matter what color you put into it, mortal, dark green is going to come out. Get used to it.

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P.S.–In Today’s Mail

A BILL from Insurance Carrier Number Two that is for TWO months and is marked PAST DUE.

She can’t win, she can’t quit the game, and the rules keep changing…

Ehehehehehehe!

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