Odin’s Eyepatch! Just my luck. I escaped from the tour and ran right into Thor.
“Ah, brother! There you are! Come! I have a belated Yule gift for you!”
“I didn’t get you anything. And what’s with the stoopid scarf?”
“Is it not magnificent? My beloved, Jane Foster, made it for me.”
“Well, you look ridiculous.”
“I am sorry to hear you say that, because…”
“…I had her make you one too! Now we are more than brothers! We are TWINS!”
Someone please kill me now…
Norns’ Nighties! Am I glad that’s over! Sigyn, I love you with all of my black little heart, but do not ever drag me to another one of Stark’s parties again, do you hear?
“Oh, Loki. It wasn’t that bad! It was fun to catch up with everyone, and Pepper insisted I take this lovely wreath home. And your red scarf looks so cute on you! Wasn’t it sweet of Thor to have Jane knit it for you?”
Perhaps Sigyn is right. Perhaps it was not such a bad party, dumb scarf not withstanding. After all, when no one was looking, I helped myself to a really good present that I will wear and use often.
Sweet Sif on a Cracker. I thought that the worst thing at this event would be if someone wanted to play party games. It’s so much worse than that.
Stark is giving those of us who haven’t been here before a tour of his workrooms. I know most of the world would give anything to get a glimpse of where the “Great Man” “makes the future happen,” but I would pay good money not to have to listen to him. However, Sigyn has made the “Behave, Loki Eyebrows” at me, so I will bite my tongue and trail along to view this Monument to Me exhibit.
Stark has all of his previous suits of armor on display. Some of them are in pretty rough shape, but these two are mostly in one piece.
He’s so proud of them that he even make a miniature Hall of Armor so that he could have a display of the display.
Recursive and narcissistic.
That’s not the only model here. There’s a mock-up of the Helicarrier.
And a scale model of a Quin Jet.
I have un-fond memories of one of those…
He even has a replica of the whole tower!
I have some bad recollections of that as well.
Ehehehehe! Hope Stark has vermin-proofed those suits…
Oh, marvelous. We have moved on from models and are now “meeting” some of the bots.
I am not sure, but I think they’re an Iron Legion Snowman and a windup Hulkbuster. A few minutes with Rocket, though, and they’ll be just a pile of loose bolts.
What is this thing? Some sort of fancy snow globe?
“No, it’s my first—well, my second—chest arc reactor. Pepper had it mounted for me.”
(Pepper:) “Proof that Tony Stark has a heart.”
Great Frigga’s Corset! The man is still talking!
No, Stark. I do not wish to “stay and meet Jarvis.” Enough. I am done with this tour (and your ego.) I feel a most urgent need to go back to the main room and fortify myself with refreshments. Turkey leg. Lobster. Margarita. Mead. I don’t care–anything that is not here…
Arrgh. This party looks to be just as pretentious and loud and obnoxious as I feared it would be. Stark has chosen to have it, not in the spacious lounge (whose window I once yeeted him out of), but in one of his cavernous workrooms. I suppose he was trying for “industrial chic”, but the result is not overly festive.
And here comes the man himself!
“Hello, hello! Welcome to me! And my tower! Glad you could make it. Sigyn, you’re looking as beautiful as ever. Dum-E, get these two a drink.”
“Hello, Stark. I see the Ugly Sweater Fairy paid you a Yule visit.”
“Pepper picked it out. I think it’s…quirky. Besides, Reindeer games, it’s about a thousand times better than that ratty green cape of yours. But come on in. Mi casa, and all that.”
Sigyn is a first-class mingler. She has made a beeline for the grill, where the female guests have got lobster and turkey legs going and are each possessed of a colorful cocktail.
(Captain Marvel:) “Hi, Sigyn! Glad you could make it!”
“Hi, Carol, Hi, Pepper! Nat, Darcy, good to see you. Is Jane here too?”
(Darcy:) “No, she’s off doing some science-y stuff at the South Pole. You know. Can we get you a drink? I’ve got a Purple People Eater, Pep’s a margarita girl, Widow’s got some mead or something, and Captain’s sticking with white wine.”
“Thanks. Maybe later.”
I see all sorts of people here I’d pay good money not to have to talk to. That corner over there looks particularly awful.
(Spidey:) “So this old lady bought me a churro. Turns out they’re great and now I can’t stop eating ’em.”
(Thor:) “Truly. I feel the same about these turkey legs.”
(Both:) “And that burger looks really, really good…”
I see the “No lie, there I was”-ing has started up over there.
Confession time. I can never tell Peter Quill and Hawkeye apart when they’re unarmed. Bow and arrow, it’s Birdbrain. Dorky goggles and a blaster, it’s Quill. No weapons? Toss up. Doesn’t matter, though. My tolerance for braggadocio is quite limited–my own glorious exploits are the only ones worth paying attention to–so there’s no way in Hel I’m going to break in on that little gathering.
Ehehehe! Nick Fury trying to make small talk with T’Challa and Muffy.
Now that’s an awkward situation almost worth coming to this party to see.
Well, well, well. What’s going on over there? Looks like the Arboreal Crowd are having a little confab.
Uh, oh. Someone had better keep an eye on Rocket…
or that little wreath-bot is going to finish the evening minus a couple of components…
Hmm. Mischief. Maybe this party isn’t a total waste of time after all…
Sigyn and I are back from our little holiday in Vancouver. We had a good time, but there’s mischief to do at home, so I can’t stay gone forever. Besides, Sigyn has an invitation to Tony Stark’s New Year’s Eve Party. She really, really wants to go. I really, really don’t. And I’ll tell you why.
A) I am not a “Party Person.” This is an established fact.
B) I do not particularly care for any of the people who are likely to be there. Let us just say that we have not always been kind to one another in the past
C) Pretty high up on my list of “Worst Ways to Spend an Evening” is listening to Stark brag endlessly, smirk at everyone, and flirt with anything that has a pulse.
Yet here I am, going. I can deny my sweetie nothing.
Let it be recorded that I finished out 2021 by doing a Good Thing.
Are you sure about this, Sigyn? It’s still not too late to back out…
“No, Loki. It would be rude. I’ve already said we were coming. It’s only for a few hours.”
Sigyn says one of her favorite parts of going on vacation is getting to know new people. I can’t say the same. I barely tolerate the mortals I already know. Meeting more of them sounds like as much fun as having my hair braided by my oafish brother Thor. (When he was about seven, he went through a Pretty Princess phase neither of us really likes to talk about.)
Sigh. For Sigyn’s sake I will paste on my best fake smile and greet the local populace.
I was under the impression that spotted owls were small birds. Clearly I have been misinformed.
All the local wildlife is a bit on the large side.
It wasn’t on my list of things to do today, but I guess we can help these fellows make snowmen. Let’s make it interesting. Sigyn, you help Nutkin over there with his, and I will help Earl with his, and we’ll see whose comes out best.
(later) Well, that was entertaining. Not. Those two long-tailed tree rats proved to have zero brain cells apiece and failed utterly to grasp the notion of piling one snowball atop the other. We ended up with two identical balls of snow. Nutkin’s had a few fewer embedded pine needles, so he was unanimously declared the winner. That is forty-five minutes of my life I will never get back…
This polar bear seems to have more going on upstairs.
She is smart enough to know that if she makes the slightest menacing gesture toward my sweetie or puts so much as one whisker out of place, Ursus maritimus is going to be one individual closer to extinction.
All of this hiking and schmoozing has given me an appetite. Sigyn, why don’t you go ask that jolly-looking hedgehog where we can get a good lunch?
“She says we should eat at her cafe, Tiggywinkle’s. It’s just over the next hill and specializes in mushroom dishes.”
Hmm. I suppose a nice portabello burger might taste good right now. Let’s go. But if I see AmanitaSurprise on the dessert menu, I’m out of there.
(later, after a delicious lunch)
Sigyn, are you enjoying your holiday?
“Yes, Loki, very much!”
Come here and be smooched. Happy Yule, my precious.
This part of Midgard is famous for its forests. Sigyn, being nearly as much a plant nerd as the human female, is keen to trek inland from the beach and “hug some trees.” I have no objection, so after a quick lunch at a likely looking food truck,
we are off to look at some forest giants.
Just remember, dearest, that pine sap is verysticky and does not come out of velvet easily at all.
(somewhere in the woods)
Hmm. I’m not sure I know the local trees. I was expecting Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, and the like. All of those are green, but there’s scarcely a green tree to be seen!
I guess maybe the pale ones are Pinus monticola, Western White Pine, and the tall one could be Thuja plicata, Western Red Cedar, but what about blue and yellow-and-pink ones?
I never thought the words, “I wish the human female were here so we could know what we are looking at” would pass my lips, but I really have no clue.
It is quite an unorthodox forest! And look over there, Sigyn!
For the past several years, Sigyn and I have made it a point to get out town between Yule and the New Year. We like to get away from all of the post-Yule bargain-hunting-retail frenzy, the sad sight of now obsolete Yule trees lying on the curb, and the human female’s constant moaning about how much she ate (and ate, and ate).
Last year and the year before, we had very good luck just taking off and going. We found great little places to stay, fun things to eat, and some kitschy little boutiques. We are taking off today for our annual jaunt, and I hope things go as well this time.
I’m not usually one to admit it when I make a mistake, but I have to confess that I sort of dropped the ball this year. I should have made reservations, but serendipity has always been part of the fun, and I didn’t think I needed to. I failed to predict that hordes of plague-weary travelers would all have the same idea that Sigyn and I did. No one seems to have any rooms!
First we checked the little retro cottages we so enjoyed last year.
“All full up. You should call ahead next year.”
We tried the big, fancy ski lodge near Tahoe.
“Sorry, mate. We sold out back in August.”
Well, now what, my love? There has to be something available. What? Are you sure? All right, we’ll give that a try. That does seem to be one of the few parts of Midgard experiencing anything like actual winter weather at the moment.
Shall I teleport us? No? Sigh. Sometimes Sigyn declines to make the best use of my godly powers. It is going to be a long, long trip, but if my beloved wants to spend the next day staring out a bus window and sleeping sitting up, then that is what we will do
(much too much later)
Great Frigga’s Corset! I have never been happier to leave a conveyance in my life. I don’t care what my beloved says, we are teleporting home when this adventure is done. My royal posterior will not tolerate a single mile more on a bumpy bus seat.
Now, the brochure says the cabin should be along this boulevard and around the corner. I still question the wisdom of a beach holiday in the Pacific Northwest in late December, but I never could say no to Sigyn.
Ah, here it is. Number 17. I must admit, it’s kind of cute.
Sitting on the beach in a cape and helmet would not have been my first choice, but if I’m going to do it, better here in Vancouver than back in Texas, where it is 80o F.
And I can stand anything, even beverages with umbrellas, if it makes my sweetie happy.
It is a lovely early fall day. The sun is shining and it’s not brutally hot. The calendar has rolled past the third week of September, so it is time for that annual botanical adventure, checking up on the rare Navasota False Foxglove, Agalinis navasotensis that the human female discovered. We are all headed to the outcrop in the next county over to see how many there are and how they are doing.
(a bit later)
Things actually look pretty good. There is a lot of grass this year, since the summer was wet. The human female and two other plant nerds have counted over 100 plants in flower.
A good year, if not great. The usual fall flora is in evidence too. The blue sage is open for butterfly take-out dining.
Or is it dine-in? Except the lepidopteran is not sitting down. How does it work with bugs anyhow?
It took a bit of looking, but we found the little cacti again.
The plant nerds have located the endpoint stakes of a sampling transect that was run in 2006 and are going run the transect again so they can compare results.
That’s the human female up there at the top of the outcrop. If you could see her any more clearly you might be turned to stone. You’re welcome.
Ugh! This science is tedious! Every half meter along the line, we have to note what is touching the line between 0 and 0.5 meters, between 0.5 meters and 1.0 meter, between 1.0 and 1.5 meters, etc., all the way up to the canopy. I think that at most of the points along line we are going to have…grass. It’s not in flower, so we won’t be able to write down what kind it is. Grass. Grass. Grass. And we have thirty meters of this to do? The plant nerds will be at this all morning and I will die of boredom. Time for a little excitement!
And here it comes! I’ve noted before that, while I cannot really control the weather, I can certainly nudge it along. (You don’t grow up around my stoopid brother Thor without picking up a few tricks.) So I think I will take advantage of the forecast “chance of precipitation” to see how dedicated botanists conduct a transect in the pouring rain.
Vera quaestio est quousque perstent antequam cladem agnoscant.
Norns’ nighties! They are actually doing it. The human female is crouched under a car windshield sunshade, trying to keep her notes dry, her partner is completely exposed, holding the height pole, and a third intrepid plant nerd is marking a GPS record of groups of Agalinis plants. Everyone is soaked to the skin and I am laughing so hard at the human female slipping in the mud that I almost fell down myself.
Sigyn and I, of course, are under a magic umbrella spell and are perfectly dry.
The botanists and all available paper being sodden, they have decided to call it a day and not set up a second transect. Farewell outcrop! We shall see you again in the spring, perhaps.
This is what the human female’s notebook looks like–after drying out a bit!
The notes themselves are barely legible.
I am grudgingly impressed, though. Her cheap little ballpoint did a pretty good job of not running.
When all typed up, the transect results look like this:
All of this wandering about and shopping and perusal of tomes the humans have neither the funds to buy nor the shelf space to house has rendered us all a mite peckish.
Our choices for a midday repast are varied. We can eat Tex-Mex at La Posta, which was once a stagecoach stop and has a courtyard full of parrots, try one of the trendy little cafes, or allow the human female’s mother to treat us to a meal at the Double Eagle. I hear it’s a very fancy place. Are we sure they will let the human female in? I mean, she is wearing shorts and she’s sporting that ringworm I made sure the stray cat she petted passed on to her…
The outside of the Double Eagle doesn’t look like much, but the inside is all antique wood and brass and glass and other shiny things the human female shouldn’t be allowed to put her grubby fingers on.
That is just the bar area. I hear the lemons cost $20 apiece. I can believe it.
The side, private dining rooms are just as over-the-top.
One corner of the place is even supposed to be haunted. Sigyn is a little nervous about that. Don’t fear, dearest! I am by far the scariest thing in this place.
Ah. Apparently we are going to eat at a restaurant-within-a-restaurant, a place called Pepper’s. I am given to understand that is is more casual, less arm-and-a-leg fare. Sigyn is excited that we are going to get to sit in the very leafy courtyard surrounded by ferns and cycads.
I think they put us here so we’d be upwind of the humans…
Here’s the menu.
They have assured us that, even though it says “Dinner Menu” we can order lunch.
Hmm. What do you fancy, Sigyn?
The human male and the mother are going for the San Franciscan. Nearly everything here has greenchile, but if you don’t like it, I suppose you could pick it off.
Vegan fajitas? Is that even a real thing? And what are “calabacitas?” Allspeak doesn’t know what to do with that word.
By Volstagg’s Greasy Chin and Fingers! What is this that the human female has been served?!
Chicken salad with pecans and berries in a pineapple boat, with a rainbow of fresh fruit. The photo doesn’t do it justice, since the pineapple top is still attached and hangs waaaaay off the left side of the plate. That is a lot for one person. Sweetie, you may have to help her finish it.
(later) Well, we are all completely stuffed. There will be some to-go boxes coming home with us, that is certain—and somehow the human female has persuaded our waitress to keep them cold for us while we go do more shopping.
Yay. More shopping.
That was a very full/filling day. We came home by a different route and got to see different fields and pecan trees and adobe houses and mountains. All in all, New Mexico was very interesting, and Sigyn was pleasantly distracted from her poor broken arm.
Plus, I always do like the chance to be snarky in a different state.
I am being dragged into another store, but I don’t mind this one at all. It’s a bookstore! And because it is an independent store and not part of a chain, the owners have felt free to stuff it full of interesting titles, and not just the mass-marketed rubbish that one can find anywhere. The human female is happy, because the natural history section is especially well stocked.
I think she’s hinting.
I have wandered into the children’s area and–Sweet Sif on a Cracker!
I don’t know whether to be horrified or intrigued… (page, page, page.) Actually, cover art aside, it’s a pretty decent child-level treatise on how various Midgardian beasts are constructed. I assume it’s only Midgardian beasts. I certainly didn’t see a depiction of the inner workings of a bilgesnipe.
Oh, now what’s this one?
Ah. It would appear that not all of the tomes are equally instructive. Or anatomically accurate.
Sigyn has joined me and–unusually for her–she is not really paying any attention to the books. Instead, she is looking at the jigsaw puzzles. This one is very whiney.
And now she is looking at the little dioramas in the center of the children’s room.
It is a very cozy-looking room. I think she is hoping the penguin will invite her in for tea. Or, since this is New Mexico, possibly enchiladas.
The rooms really are very detailed.
There is even mood lighting. I thinks Sigyn would very much like to live here!
I am fairly certain none of these rooms or their contents are for sale.
However, I have access to large sums of money, a great deal of magic, and a certain roguish charm. I can be very persuasive. If my beloved wants it, I believe I can make sure this day ends with the purchase of una mesa after all.