Man does not live by fizzy water alone—assuming, of course, that he has any fizzy water. As we have seen, the presence of any particular carbonated beverage cannot be assured.
The human male is fond of trying strange flavors of potato chips. And he has lots of options! If there’s one thing that continues to baffle me about this planet, it’s the propensity of the residents to try to shoehorn the most outlandish, least intuitive flavors into chips.
Here are some of the more daring offerings I’ve noted recently.
Not just chicken, mind you, but chicken sandwich. Complete with essence of dill pickle slice. Urrrrr.
Or how about cocktail-flavored chips?
Or chips with pretensions of being other fried snack foods?
Then there’s these:
I can’t even anymore.
Oh, wait! These! You have to buy and try some of these! They’re not potato chips, but come on! It’s a moral imperative!
I never thought about it before, but now it’s going to keep me up at night: Just what does a chupacabra taste like?
We did, indeed, continue our day in the Big City to the West with a visit to a Japanese home goods store, the Japanese stationery and book emporium, and the enormous Asian grocery store. Miraculously, we did not purchase anything in any of them. How does that even happen? Are you humans sure you are feeling all right?
As we so often do, we are finishing our trip to the a Big City with a trip to the Large Market. The produce is the first section inside the entrance. There are no new varieties of apple today, so the human female is a little bummed, but Sigyn is just enchanted by the new mushroom incubators they’ve put in.
She wants to know if we can put one in the house, but since mildew is a fungus, I think we already have more than our fair share of fungi in the bathroom.
I am quite intrigued by these heirloom tomatoes.
The green ones are nice enough, but any wolf peach so black it matches my soul has got to take first place in my dark little heart.
This is a very confusing sign.
They in no way resemble chili/chile peppers, so I’m guessing they mean that these pears are from Chile, which is impressive. Pears do not travel well, being thin-skinned and prone to poke one another with their stems when they get bored in transit. But just what part of these is supposed to be flamingo-ish? (They certainly can’t be part pear and part flamingo because, sadly, genetics just doesn’t work that way. Although it does give me some ideas…)
My last mischief of the day, (other than seeing that the first two stops the humans make to use the restroom before hitting the road are sans working plumbing), is to ensure that the humans’ favorite brand of tiny pretzels is unavailable. While they search just to make sure a bag hasn’t gotten wedged behind something else, I’m going to go look at the floral section with my sweetie.
This display of bouquets in all sorts of warm colors is exactly to Sigyn’s taste.
But it could maybe use more yellow…
That is a lovely arrangement, Sigyn. The fringe-y white tulips are especially nice and the grouping as a whole would make a very pretty wedding bouquet. But it gives me the most horrible feeling that you and I forgot to celebrate our maybe-wedding anniversary this year. Let’s plan to make up for it sometime soon, yes?
Given the presence of an Asian market within a ten mile radius, the likelihood of the humans checking it out approaches 87%. Therefore, it is no surprise that there is more than one in the game plan for today’s visit to the Big City to the West.
Our first stop is a Japanese grocery and gift shop we have visited before. Sigyn loves this place. It’s where we got the moon-faced bun man last year. They have them again today, but Sigyn is thinking that today she wants to try one of the kitty-faced ones.
That’s almost as vacant an expression as Flannel’s.
While Sigyn is looking at sweets, I am examining their selection of home-made rice packets wrapped in leaves.
Slap some numbers on one of these and you’ll have yourself an oversized, edible, four-sided die.
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Sigyn, come look!
It’s a veritable rainbow of delicious, delicious ice cream mochi! I’d ask which kind you want, but since I have my own little pocket dimension in which to sequester things, I say we just take a box of each and figure out which one is the best later.
Yikes! Look at the size of this gobo root!
The human female is always moaning about having to weed the yards. New goal: track down the seeds of this plant and put some all around the property, preferably alongside something with shallow, delicate roots that cannot be disturbed. I want to watch her try to get one of these out in one piece!
What have you found now, Sigyn?
Ah. I know what that is, even without looking at the sign. It’s a set of figures representing the twelve animals of the Asian zodiac. This year is the year of the Tiger. I haven’t checked, but I feel sure I must be a Tiger or Dragon–or after that Svadilfari business, perhaps Horse is more fitting. Sigyn is undoubtedly a Rabbit, she’s so tiny and cute and mild-mannered. Having seen the human female when cake is involved, I think it’s safe to mark her down for “Pig.”
The human male has bought some apple mochi (Just mochi, sadly. Not ice cream ones) and some instant noodly things. While he’s checking out, Sigyn is having one last look around.
She has the happy ability to make friends wherever she goes. We haven’t been here twenty minutes and she’s already been invited to join the yoga class!
Next stop, the game store in the Asian strip mall. It’s not necessarily oriental, just conveniently located.
Well, this looks like a fun one.
I have been the only person at a party with an axe before, and it was indeed a very good time.
Human female, where did you go? Come over here and look at this:
Someone put your face on a game without your permission.
The humans had some business in the Big City to the West today. Sigyn and I have tagged along on this jaunt because, the business being now concluded, we have some serious poking and marketing to do.
Sigyn and the human female have been sweetly cajoling—well, Sigyn has been sweetly cajoling and the human female has been whining–so our first stop is a bead shop. Norns save us.
I should have brought a book. It is going to take forever for those two to look at everything! The selection of seed beads alone is astonishing.
I am surprised. Sigyn usually hummingbirds right toward the reds, but today her attention seems to have been caught by these metallic beads. Gold is very godly, so if you want some, Sigyn, I will get some for you. I could use anything you don’t require to jazz up my wardrobe a bit.
Okay, now she’s found her element.
What would you do with several hundred fist-sized beads?
Or with these fancy jars of what looks like colored sugar?
The human female says “AB” stands for “Aurora Borealis” and describes a particular sort of luster coating that is applied to the tiny glass beads. I’m not sure about that. I think it stands for “A Bunch,” and is put on jars of beads whose contents the jar-fillers didn’t bother to count.
Ehehehe! I know that “Miyuki” is a manufacturer and that these are beads meant to space out larger beads on a strand,
But you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound like some sort of futuristic, intergalactic basketball team.
All of the sparkly enticements have quite gone to Sigyn’s head. My sweetie has just discovered that strings of 3 mm Czech fire-polished beads are the exact right size for swinging on.
We may be asked to leave. I don’t think the proprietors mind so much about the swinging. It’s the little, Sigyn-sized Tarzan yells they don’t appreciate.
Perhaps, my love, a strategic retreat is called for…
Some of my minions who receive notification of my exploits via email have let me know that the messages have started to come through minus the tags at the bottom. Since some of my best snark is often in the tags, I find this infuriating. Everyone should have access to all of my thoughts and stream of consciousness ramblings. I am consulting with WordPress about this. Until there is a resolution, I believe you can click the title in an opened email and be directed to the website, where you can enjoy the fullness of my musings. Or just go straight there. lokispeaks.wordpress.com
The human female says it’s nearly time for a visit from the Eater Bunny. It usually happens earlier in the year than this. I was kind of hoping that murderous lapine character was going to give carnage a miss this year, but no such luck.
Do you know, I’ve been on Midgard for a good few years now, and I’m still not sure what the Eater Bunny’s M.O. is. Do people put out baskets of candy and eggs in hopes of placating and sating him so that he won’t eat small children? Or does he leave out baskets of candy and eggs to fatten up the children for when he devours them?
It seems wise to play it safe and put out the comestibles, so here we are at the market, mulling over our festive carbohydrate options, of which there are a terrifying number.
Some of the candy is just regular candy dressed up in Eater Bunny-themed packaging, which I think denotes an utter lack of imagination.
See? It’s just regular chocolates in a fancy wrapper! Sigyn approves of the yellow and the flowers, though, so I may buy her a bag.
On the other hand, some of the season-specific offerings boggle the mind.
I’m no ornithologist, but no species of robin I know of lays eggs in such alarming colors.
And if your chicken lays eggs this shape…
…it’s time to consult a vet. Or else a herpetologist, because in my experience, it’s snakes that lay oblong eggs like that.
Well, here’s something new. Chocolate squirrels.
That’s actually a pretty great idea, Sigyn. You can make friends with them, and if they start acting too nutty (Ha! Get it? Nutty!) or get out of line, I can eat them release them humanely in the local woods.
It’s no surprise that the garish, blobular, chicken-shaped marshmallows known as Peeps have put in their annual appearance.
I think these are mislabeled, though.
I’m pretty sure these are Poops.
Sweet Sif on a Cracker! Don’t look, Sigyn! It’s…It’s hideous.
“What was THAT?!” The humans have just heard a very loud crash from the general direction of the kitchenish area of the house. Thus begins my mischief of the day! The fun is in watching them scurry around trying to determine the cause and the extent of the calamity.
Everything seems fine in the kitchen. Nothing has fallen off the top of the cold box. Nothing has tumbled out of the dish drainer, and the dishwasher is not running, so it’s not an appliance malfunction. All pots and pans seem to be secure.
Perhaps it was in the front bathroom? No, everything is fine here. No shower doors have fallen down, and the litterbox has not exploded. (You laugh, but a match applied to the miasma that Taffy Cat is capable of leaving would have dire consequences indeed.)
Oh, this is too rich! They still haven’t found it! The hanging rod in the front hall closet is firmly in place–no tumbled coats here.
Nothing is amiss in the game room. The teetery stacks of games are all still upright, and the shelf with the printer on it has not collapsed.
The humans are completely flummoxed. They have no clue WHAT that terrible noise was. Ehehehehe! This is even more fun than I thought it would be! I would have been satisfied with the mischief if they had sussed it out right off, but watching them trying to figure it out has been even better.
(later) They still haven’t found it. Oh, well. It is time to start dinner. The human female is fetching the rice from the pantry.
And she’s catching a clue…
Wow! I do good work.
All I did was nudge a five-pound bag of sugar on the top shelf, thinking it would fall on someone’s head in due time. When the human male replaced a roll of aluminum foil up there after lunch, things must have shifted and it fell off the shelf. The bottom shelf was actually a cookie sheet placed atop a wire grid cube. It collapsed under the assault of the sugar, spilling all of its contents against the door.
Dinner will be delayed. There’s a shelf to rebuild and provisions to replace. On the one hand, I’m very impressed with the mess, and the sugar bag leaked a little, so there’s that to clean up as well. On the other hand, I’m a little disappointed that none of the salsa or honey bottles broke. I would pay money to watch the human female try to get honey (or her precious maple syrple!) off the linoleum.
The human female is taking for. ev. er to work her way through the Lepidium virginicum(Peppergrass) specimens out here at the herbarium, sorting each of them into one of two subspecies. Subspecies virginicum has glabrous (bald) fruit and pedicels (fruit stalks) that are round in cross-section and usually not more than 0.2 mm wide. Subspecies menziesii has glabrous or puberulent (with minute short hairs) fruit and pedicels that are flattened toward the top and usually more than 0.2 mm wide. Which all sounded well and good to her—until she started looking at hundreds of sheets and measured parts and parts and more parts and found that almost all of the Texas plants of both subspecies have the glabrous fruit, and the pedicels are–you guessed it–just about 0.2 mm wide exactly and maybe only a little bit flattened.
Face it, woman. NOBODY but you cares about things that are too small to see without a microscope. *I* don’t care. No one else in the herbarium cares. Other botanists don’t care. I doubt even the plants care. Why don’t you just slap any old name on the sheets and have done? I mean, who exactly do you think is going to call you on it? You’ll be long dead before anyone looks at these specimens again.
Norns save us, she’s going to try to figure it out anyway. She says there’s a sure-fire way to tell which subspcies a plant belongs to–it’s just nearly impossible to see. It involves making a cross-section of a seed and determining which way the embryonic seed leaves (cotyledons) lie inside of it.
Do you mean to tell me you’re going to take one of those little brown dots and cut it open to inspect its innards?! Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?
I can’t believe it! She’s actually going to try.
She has captured a seed on the little bit of putty under my foot. I guess the putty is to keep it from skittering away. I can barely see it–it’s scarcely a millimeter long. Sigyn can see it in a little more detail with her hand lens, but the human female is going to need to do this dissection with the highest power of her microscope.
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! She did it! She took a very thin blade, cut that little seed right across the middle, and then used a fine dissecting needle to tip the cut surface up so she can look at it. Ehehehe! Now she’s trying to take a photo through the micoscope with her phone. There’s a knack to doing that, one she decidedly lacks. Mostly she’s just waving the phone in the general direction of the eyepiece. She looks drunk.
Ugh. She is now trying to teach us how to recognize the different types of seed leaf arrangements. Again, I don’t care, but Sigyn is interested, so I’ll show you the photos she eventually managed to capture through blind luck.
In subspecies menziesii, the radicle (embryonic root) and the two cotyledons line up in a row. The cotyledons are termed incumbent.
Here, I’ll label it with my magic.
In subspecies virginicum, the cotyledons are accumbent. They lie flat sides together, edge-on to the radicle.
Again with the label magic, and to help my sweetie remember, I’ll toss in a handy mnemonic doodle.
“If it looks like a bunny a-comin‘, the cotyledons are accumbent.”
(I can’t believe I wrote that. The things I do for love…)
Sigh. How many folders of these plants are there to work through? Yeah, next time, I bring a book.
Sigyn and I are at the herbarium again. Sigyn is helping the human female with the various mustard specimens. She’s developing a good eye for the subspecies of Lepidium virginicum. (Sigyn, that is. The human female is still clueless.) I’m here to make sure nothing untoward happens to my sweetie. There are hundreds of cabinets in this place, and if she got locked in one, it would take ages to find her. That’s not even considering all the bookshelves, the boxes, and various assorted cubbyholes.
Sigh. This is so boring. Nothing exciting ever happens here, and —
Great Frigga’s Corset! What’s all the hollering?! One of the herbarium workers has just come in from the hallway and says someone in one of the other research groups housed in this mammoth building has found a snake in their area! A live snake! (Since the University’s collection of animal specimens is housed out here too, a dead-in-a-jar snake would be nothing out of the ordinary.)
How you can tell the place is full of nature nerds: Everyone, including the human female, is running toward the snake, hoping for a glimpse. Will it be venomous? Will it bite someone? We don’t know! We just all want to see! Sigyn says she’s not scared if I’m there. Stick close, my love! I have a certain rapport with most ophidians and will see that you remain unharmed.
I see it! The little fellow (?) actually has his head between an open door and the door casing, a most perilous position. The discussion now is about how to get it out of there without crushing it or being bitten.
But what sort of snake is it? That will largely determine how we all proceed from here. We can see it is not a rattlesnake or coral snake, nor does it look like a copperhead. That only leaves water moccasin on the list of local venomous snakes.
Aha! Someone closer to the snake than I has noted the upturned snout on the beast. That would seem to indicate that we are dealing with a Hognose Snake, a species harmless to humans. Their venom is weak and their usual method of dealing with conflict is to play dead. This is something I want to see!
Odin’s Eyepatch! This snake has chosen to go straight to Plan B! It has flared out a hood and is declaring itself to be a deadly cobra! No, wait–it has made its head broad and triangular–it’s a deadly viper! It is striking and hissing and threatening to dispatch all of us! Such a show of baseless bravado!
The human female is suggesting a broom and a bucket for collecting this fierce thespian. A bucket being unavailable, a wastepaper basket has been substituted.
Oooh! He is NOT amused! We are getting treated to more strikes and a good view of its pink gullet.
Sigyn wants to know what she’s looking at. Here, sweetie, let me use my magic to show you.
The black dots are his eyes and the red dots the corners of his mouth. You can see that he’s widened his jaw and flattened everything out to give himself a bigger head. It’s quite a neat trick!
Well, that was exciting. The human female and one of her colleagues are going to take Mr. Hognose outside and put him in the shade near water so he can go about his business of eating toads and other small creatures.
It’s not every day that dull herbarium work turns into a live-action natural history lesson. I’m glad I came out!