Adventures

Agalinis navasotensis–Scientia Versus Tempestate

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.

(later)

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.

(later still)

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:

Prope est ut si quid agerent sciebant.

>|: [

Pensé Que íbamos a Visitar Solamente Una Mesa Vieja, Pero en Realidad Hay Aquí Una Ciudad Completa, Part III: Of Fancy–and Possibly Haunted–Comestibles

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 green chile, 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.

(later again)

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.

>|: [

Pensé Que íbamos a Visitar Solamente Una Mesa Vieja, Pero en Realidad Hay Aquí Una Ciudad Completa, Part II: In Which There *IS* a Table

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.

>|: [

Pensé Que íbamos a Visitar Solamente Una Mesa Vieja, Pero en Realidad Hay Aquí Una Ciudad Completa, Part I: A-Shopping We Will Go

The humans have proposed a day trip. When I heard them discussing it, I was under the impression it was just to the local furniture store to buy a table, but we are going to visit Old Mesilla, a town which, even though it is in a completely different state, is closer to the city we are in than the city we are in is to any other city in Texas. Sometimes Midgard just doesn’t make sense.

We are taking the long way there. Sigyn is entranced by the fields of cotton and the orchards of pecan trees we are passing, all watered by cleverly constructed canals that tap from the Rio Grande. I am busy planning how best to annex this territory when I launch my final push to take over the planet. From what I can tell, whoever controls the supply of three vital commodities—water, adobe, and Hatch green chilies—can be king in this part of the world.

We have arrived. It’s a small place, but apparently “rich in history.” Its main claim to fame is once having housed the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid. Well, now it has housed me, so it is even more significant.

There is a bi-towered church on the main plaza.

I know Sigyn would like to see inside, but unfortunately the doors are locked. That is fine with me. It doesn’t appear to be the sort of place that would welcome a Norse God anyway.

The human male wants to take some photos of the outside. I have other plans for his camera.

The square is surrounded by quaint little shops. Sigh. I just know I’m going to be dragged in and out of each and every one of them, but for my sweetie’s sake I will paste on a happy face and tag along. Besides, I might be able to find a good present for her. Yule is only three months away, after all.

This shop seems to be full of very… colorful knicknackery. Some of it is tasteful, if a bit religiously offensive to someone of my godliness.

I haven’t the heart to tell her that the little well is meant as a receptacle for holy water, not an observation post…

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Such gaudy papier mache’ pussycats!

The human female’s mother is in the market for a new feline. But I do not think this is the sort she has in mind. Still, I might buy her one of these. She’d have to display it, out of politeness, and either one of them would clash wonderfully with all of her eagles and blue and white china…

And I might invite these fine fellows home for dinner.

We’ll have a jam session afterwards and all the neighborhood dogs will bark. It’ll be great.

Sigyn has discovered some more sedate companions.

Licking Sigyn on the forehead in 3…2…1. Slurp!

This next emporium has a selection of woven end embroidered items.

Those are so bright that I bet even the human female couldn’t manage to lose the glasses case in the black hole that is her backpack.

Jewelry store.

Store with spiced pistachios and local wine.

More knick-knacks.

Gallery.

And our penultimate stop, the building that used to be the jail that held that famous outlaw. There is some very touristy stuff here, as well as a little something that I think will need to make an appearance in the human female’s stocking

After all, Yule is only three months away…

>|: [

To Market, To Market, Part II: To See All the Other Goodies

We’re still here with all the other folks (and dogs!), looking at all the things here that are NOT vegetables, meat, or eggs. There’s a bouncy castle over on the far end of the lot that Sigyn says she would like to try out. I know you would, my love, but the kiddies bouncing around in there right now are much bigger than you, and I’m afraid you might get hurt. But we can go look at other fun things!

Things like this:

It’s a sampler of some of the pecan varieties grown in Texas. The human female says that the last two in the bottom row are what the native pecans look like, and the others are kinds that have been bred to have bigger nuts or tastier insides or thinner shells. The University has a whole Pecan Short Course that they teach for local growers every year. Too bad this booth isn’t giving out samples of all of these. One of each kind would just about make a pie!

Sigyn has made a butterfly line (like a beeline, but squigglier) to a booth that has bedding plants.

The human female says these fancy, jumped-up daisies are Gazanias, which I think sounds like something you say when someone has sneezed. She’s going to buy a couple to put in the front flower bed, where–knowing her horticultural skills– I predict they will sit without ever making another blossom.

The human male has encountered a rather humorous boo-boo on a hand-lettered sign:

Ooh la la! Ce vendeur a de beax macarons! And they have samples! Which ones should we try? Sigyn is interested in the strawberry-rhubarb but I’m leaning towards the pistachio.

By Fandral’s grande embonpoint! Those are delicious! I think some need to come home with us…

But right now, I think we need a different treat. The day is growing rather hot and I some cold refreshment is in order. Luckily, there’s a deliciously convenient pushcart right at the end of this row of booths…

Mmm.

New Rule: All ice cream sandwiches should be made with snickerdoodles on the outside!

Well, Sigyn, we have visited all the booths at least once, tasted some fun things, bought some good things for dinners to come (samosas–also yum!), talked to some interesting people (the lamb lady is originally from Argentina!), and had a delicious treat. I think it’s time to go home and maybe have a little nap…

(much later)

The macarons the human female bought turned out to be neither strawberry-rhubarb nor pistachio, but since lemon goes very nicely with natural vanilla bean ice cream…

…I think I’ll forgive her just this once.

>|: 9

To Market, To Market, Part I: To Look at all the Funny Food

The weather is good enough today that we are headed for the local Farmer’s Market in search of whatever they have that isn’t leftover Gaming Weekend snacks, basically. On our last visit, the human female bought some magnificently delicious honey, and she’s hoping the same vendor is here today so that she can buy some to take to her mother, just in case the Condestruction mess is EVER resolved and we can go to El Paso for a visit.

Alas! That honey-seller isn’t here today, but there are plenty of fresh, colorful things to buy. Sigyn thinks the squash are “cute.”

Especially those weird ones that look like ghostly spaceships…

And of course, tomatoes are more fun when they come in BOTH of her favorite colors!

I am more interested in these big, sweet onions.

There is someone a few stalls over selling naturally-fed lamb, and the human male is eyeing it. That plus these will equal something delicious, I’m sure. And if not, if cooking plans go awry and the onions are forgotten and turn all sprouty and mushy and smelly and the human female has to clean that up, well, that’s fun too.

Great Frigga’s Corset! Sigyn, stop! You know what those ARE, don’t you?

They might be an interesting shade of orange, but they are still BEETS. You know the human female loathes, abominates, and despises them, and while it would be fun to buy some and sneak them into the chill chest for her to find and be grossed out by, *I* don’t particularly like them either. I’d much rather the space in the cooler be devoted to things I might actually eat.

Such as these bizarrely pastel eggs. Do you suppose the blue ones are blue on the inside as well??

>|: [

to be continued…

A Painted Adventure, Part III: Prettier and Prettier! (Sigyn Speaks)

Whew! Our little group of three vehicles was a little late to our third painted church, but we found it! Praha used to be called something else, but the Czech settlers renamed it after Prague. I didn’t get a photo of the outside since it was raining. It is partly made out of limestone quarried not too far from here.

Assumption of the Blessed Mother, Praha has a barrel-vaulted ceiling that is painted wood. And the painting is all plants!

It’s supposed to look like the Garden of Eden, and it does! If you look very closely, one of the cathedrals in Prague is painted there too. There is another very fancy altar–which the guide says was made by the same company that made the last one we saw. Imagine hauling that all the way from San Antonio! The altar rail and pulpit are very fancy. They had been put away in storage but were found when the church was restored. Wasn’t that lucky?

The font is very ornate, too.

There is a LOT of gilding in here. It must have taken months to redo it all!

I quite like this band of stenciling on the walls.

More flowers!

Our last church is built of red brick with some white stone accents. St. Mary’s/ Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in High Hill is regarded as the “Queen of Painted Churches”–and it’s not hard to see why!

Everywhere you look, there is some scroll-y foliage. (Scrolly foliage, scrolly foliage, scrolly foliage–that’s fun to say!) The guide says the ceiling is done with panels of painted wallpaper that were made “back East.” The pillars are painted to look like marble and there are a lot of statues–lady saints on one side and gentlemen on the other. The altar is from the same company again! I guess they made a specialty of making big altars for little churches.

Oooh! Look at the arch! It has everything–scrolly foliage, words, pictures, and some lovely blue flowers underneath.

The windows here are very fine. They are from three dates–1899, 1909, and 1930–which is why they don’t all exactly match.

Look how pretty! The human male is taking lots and lots of photos. I hope he gets a good one of the flowers in this design!

I hope Loki is happy in the car with his book, because I could just sit and look at this place all day.

Sigh. We can’t stay too long, though. The guide has to close up the church. It’s time to get back in the car and head for home. We could try going back a different way, or we take the same route we came. Let’s go the same way, please! I want to look at all of the funny animal yard art around Round Top, because I’m sure I missed something on the way down!

What a FUN day!

: )

A Painted Adventure, Part II: Comestibles and Commoddities (Yes, I spelled that correctly)

Sigyn is talking a mile-a-minute about the “beautiful churches” she saw this morning. Don’t forget to draw breath, my love. I fear you will hyperventilate in all of your cute enthusiasm. In any case, it is time for lunch, so you need to pause a while and eat something.

The tour group (looks mostly like clones of the humans–folks of that “certain age”, wearing comfortable shoes and practical haircuts) has appropriated the back room of a very casual, country style restaurant. No doubt the proprietors are glad to have them in the back room, away from normal customers.

Odin’s eyepatch! Everyone has just been issued a vinyl glove. What are we meant to do with this? Oh. Apparently it is for handling the spoons on the buffet line. Is that to protect the food from the people or the people from the food???

The offerings look fairly pedestrian. Choice of chicken, sausage, or a pork…thing. Vegetables and various carbohydrate-laden sides. Bread. Salad.

It’s colorful enough but, sadly, not really terribly good. Too much salt in the meat and green beans and not enough crisp in the vegetables. Sigyn’s not worried though. She’s chattering away with our tablemates and casting a longing eye at the dessert offerings.

Peach cobbler or bread pudding? It’s one of life’s toughest questions.

One for which Sigyn has a lemon-sauced answer. She has pronounced this, “yummy.” I gather it tastes better than it looks.

This dining establishment has a gift shop attached, fully stocked with a plethora of unusual items. I think I shall purchase some of these seasoning blends as gifts for the human male’s mother.

Let’s see him try to explain when she unwraps them.

Sigyn wants to buy this shiny jukebox.

It’s very quaint. I believe it comes with this dining table and chairs, along with a musical selection device. But I do not think the chairs would be very comfortable.

This display says “Gund for Baby.”

Ehehehehe! I did not know that the stuffed toy manufacturer had branched out into barware…

Great Frigga’s Corset! We dawdled too long! The tour group is leaving! Hurry! Back to the car!

The weather, which has been spitting rain all morning, has chosen this moment to precipitate in earnest.

There is no sign of the tour guide’s red pickup truck, and the list of churches we have does not have addresses, so the humans aren’t sure where to go or how to get there. And are you sure you know which of the remaining two you are supposed to be visiting next? I suppose you have a 50-50 chance…

There are two cars behind us, also left behind, and the human female is frantically googling. The next church is supposedly in Praha, but looking it up doesn’t help much, since these tiny rural churches are usually listed as belonging to the nearest viable town, not the historical, no-longer-really-there town that is in their name. GoogleMaps doesn’t seem to ever have heard of Praha. Not only that, but half of the churches in these parts have “St. Mary” somewhere in the title. Could the one listed in Flatonia be the one they want?

I have it figured out, but I’m not telling. The car behind us thinks they know, so they are now going to lead as our ragtag group of three vehicles turns around. I guess all you can do is pray I haven’t been switching road signs around and hope for the best.

>|: [

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!

: )

Aftermath of Escape to the Big City to the West–What Followed Us Home

Let us take a look at some of the comestible goods which followed us home from the Big City to the West. In addition to the Large Market, we also visited an Asian grocery store and a couple of stores selling Japanese goods, so a bit of the resulting haul is a bit “theme-y”.

The human male is a fan of All Things Ginger and has a special fondness for ginger beer. He found two sorts he hadn’t tried, and I urged him to purchase them.

He has pronounced the lemon-lime one “horrible” (Ehehehehe! I could have told him that) and the other “okay, but not as good as my favorite one.”

What were those spices they brought home again?

Oh, now I remember. The Ras El Hanout is to replace the jar of Ras El Hanout they bought but didn’t like, which was to replace the empty jar of the Ras El Hanout that they liked a lot, but which I have made certain is no longer being manufactured.

The other jar holds Carolina Reaper pepper powder. I foresee some quality mischief of a capsacious nature in my future.

The human female is, I see, still incapable of leaving the Large Market without a quantity of gummy octopi septopi.

The way she plows through those things, they are sure end up on the CITES list before the year is out. If conservationists managed to breed them and increase their numbers during the period in which she was confined to town by the pandemic, they are about to lose what little progress was made.

This little bun-oid object game from the Asian grocrey.

It is certainly wrapped up in a fancy manner. (poke, poke, poke) What do you suppose is inside, Sigyn?

There is a filling of some sort. Any ideas?

It looks like a fossilized egg yolk, but the human female says it is lotus seed paste. Sigyn is keen to taste it.

That good, eh? (nibble nibble) It’s all right, but I think I prefer sweet red beany goo as a filling.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! What is this…thing? I didn’t see her slip this in the basket! And she’s planning to eat it for breakfast?!

It’s… It’s staring at us.

The label on the back says, “Anpanman.” Human female, look that up and see if this is even safe to eat.

Ah. Apparently “anpan” refers to a bun filled with sweet beany goo, and there is a comic character whose head is one.

Wait. Sweet beany goo? Dare I hope?

!!!! Anpanman, I think I love you.

>|: 9