Random Mischief

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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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.

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Another Sign That Autumn Is Upon Us

There’s another way I can tell that it is autumn. It’s migration time! The last hummingbirds are tanking up on nectar for their long journey south, wild geese will soon be honking overhead, and we are experiencing the annual running of Carassius auratus subsp. caseus.

This species of small fish returns to the same spawning grounds every year. Nature is cruel, though. Not all of them make it home. Sigyn and I have just encountered one such on our walk this morning.

It must have been a very good jumper to have made it here.

I know it’s sad, dearest, but it’s all part of Nature.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! There’s another one!

Oh, now my sweetie is really upset. Come along, love. Let’s go home and eat something pumpkin spiced and talk of more pleasant things.

(later)

I know! We can log on to the Fat Bear Week website and see who won this year. My money was on good old 151.

What a prodigious embonpoint! You can see that the migrating salmon that didn’t make it just ended up as plump, chunky, huggable bear.

Hmm. I wonder if something similar happens with C. auratus subsp. caseus?

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A Neenering We Will Go, Part I: Greeting Old Friends

Now that is is definitely fall and the temperatures have cooled a portion of a smidgen of a little bit, the human female is more likely to shift herself out of her chair and go for a walk. Today, she and Sigyn have decided to go see what’s what along the Neener Path by the Big, Ugly Apartments. We haven’t been down that way in a while, so I’m a bit curious myself to see if anything interesting is going on.

Ah. I think this will be a morning of seeing things we’ve seen before in other years. Sigyn calls it “Saying Hello to Old Friends.” I call it “It’s October and There’s Ragweed, What Did You Expect?”

Look at all that pollen! I’ll be sure to give this stem a good flick as I dismount, just to make sure the human female can appreciate its devotion to anemophily.

Some of the composites are better at keeping their sneezables to themselves. Bitterweed, for instance, contents itself with flowering eleven months of the year and making cows that eat it give bitter milk.

Horseweed just likes to get tall and poofy and seed itself into people’s yards.

Late-flowering thoroughwort (a ridiculous name!) is rather similar visually, though the plants have larger leaves and the flowers are white enough and dense enough so that it’s almost ornamental.

I’ve still made sure it drops tons of seeds in the human female’s yard every year, though.

Mistflower is more well-behaved. All it does is make patches of blue in shady spots.

Sigyn wants to pat it and cuddle it because it looks like “fuzzy fireworks”. Botanical fact: The fuzzy, threadlike bits are the styles in the tiny flowers, not the petals. There. Don’t you feel smarter?

The climbing hempvine is related and has flowers that are made the same way.

It likes wet spots and thinks the ditch along the Neener Path is a good place to be.

Peppervine is also abundant here. Sigyn likes the berries when they are unripe and pinkish.

I prefer them when they get all plump and inky black.

I still say we should sneak some into the human female’s breakfast. Sigyn says we should be nice and just dangle.

Hmm, what else is here? Ah, yes. Plenty of woolly croton. Another fuzzy thing Sigyn likes to cuddle.

I’m sensing a sunggle-pattern here. But since I am also one of the things she likes to snuggle, I am not complaining!

Well, huh. I take back what I said–not everything blooming today is something we’ve seen along this path before. This one is new:

The human female says this is something called “shoreline seapurslane”. Sigyn says the flowers look like “little stars.” I say the silly thing is about one hundred and thirty miles north of fitting its common name…

So here we are a the turn-around part of our walk, though we can stop and look at more things on the way back and–

Great Frigga’s Hairpins, Sigyn! Stop right there!!

Somewhere, there is a female persimmon tree with ripe fruits, and you nearly stepped in the big pile of seedy raccoon poop!

The human female is getting that look in her eye. If the trees in the woods have ripe fruit, the trees closer to home might have ripe, delicious fruit too. I suspect our next walk is going to be in our very own neighborhood…

(to be continued)

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A Last Few Sweet Things

I must admit, I have enjoyed my time here in the desert-y end of the state. The food has been great, the scenery is a welcome change, and it is ALWAYS a treat to spend time with someone who isn’t the human male and female. Aside from poor Sigyn breaking her arm and the lecture I received about “Not Criticizing Others’ Handicrafts When They Were Just Doing Their Best With What They Had”, it has been a good visit.

Now there are just a last few things to do.

We need to go for another walk.

We need to look at some more tiny flowers.

And the human female has to offer a further bit of quilt-related help. Her mother is nearing completion of a quilt of her own, not one inherited in pieces from someone else. It’s all in shades of chocolate and caramel, and it will probably end up being named “Sweet Shop” or something similar.

Sigyn and the human female put their giggly little heads together and decided that it needs some appliqued chocolates scattered upon it. The human female bought two colors of fabric—for milk and dark “chocolate”—and created a half-dozen fabric morsels that look right out of a Whitman’s Sampler.

(For someone who can’t eat chocolate at all, she sure has an unhealthy obsession with it.)

These two are our favorites. Sigyn likes the dark chocolate swirl and says it has a cherry cordial inside.

I, of course, have claimed the one with the “L” and the bite taken out of the corner.

There is just time for one or two more shared family stories, one more round of good-night hugs, and one more delicious breakfast before we take to the road very, very early tomorrow morning.

Farewell, mountains. Farewell, desert wildflowers. Farewell, human female’s mother. Take care of yourself until we can visit again.

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Noms Make Everything Better

Sigyn is feeling better today, thanks in no small part to the human female’s mother’s cooking.

Every morning has started with a good breakfast. This is what she fed us our first morning.

Blueberry pancakes with REAL maple syrple and peppered bacon.

Last night, she cheered Sigyn up with fried rice, egg rolls, and spring rolls.

Sigyn really appreciated the sauce for the egg rolls, which was her favorite color.

No one made me a sauce in my favorite color. But then, I didn’t break my arm, and at least the soy sauce bottle has a green label.

It really is all about the food here. At breakfast, we are asked about what we want for lunch. At dinner, we’re reminded that there are cookies and ice cream and about four dozen options for breakfast. The human male and female have even pitched in with a will. They made tzatziki to go with the Greek meatballs for lunch, and they are planning fish tacos for one of the nights we are here.

And when we aren’t making food or eating food or talking about it, we are shopping for it. There are one or two things the human female’s mother needs, and Sigyn and I have tagged along to see what a different market looks like.

I am pretty sure the market back home doesn’t stock… this.

And I find that I am absolutely okay with that.

Oh, now this is neat! The human female’s mother has taken us to her local Asian market, since she needs to purchase some more of her favorite Korean coffee. Such places are always entertaining to look in, and this emporium is exceptionally well-stocked, well-organized, and very bright and clean.

Sigyn has found something she wants to try.

Evidently the pale pink sort we have at home is not brightly colored enough.

She also thinks that these look “fun”:

Dearest, did you read the fine print on the package? They’re not actually that color, and I doubt they have smiley faces.

The human male has acquired some ramen,, along with some dumplings to prepare for the human female’s mother to try later in our visit. The human female has seized upon a package of these. Are they cookies? Are they crackers? I don’t know— and neither does she, though I think she has hopes that they will taste like the sesame cookies the human male’s former student worker’s mother made for her once.

Uh oh. I can feel it coming on. I have been very, very good all day and the urge to do some mischief is just bubbling up inside me. I’m not sure I can control myself. . .

Augh! It’s like they knew I was coming!

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Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose, Part II: Of Plants and Owies

Oh. I see we have to look at the outside of the house as well as the inside, to see if anything has changed.

For starters, the big mulberry tree that was in the backyard is gone. Sigyn, the human female, and the human female’s mother are all in mourning. Borer beetles, I think they said.

The “dwarf” arborvitae trees in front of the house are bigger than ever.

Never trust a plant salesman out to make a quick buck, unless you don’t mind having to prune things every year…

The pomegranate bush in the front planter is also still thriving.

Reddish flowers and good for dangling–in Sigyn’s book this is the perfect shrub.

The human female says the Virginia creeper vine that is swallowing the back of the house wasn’t quite so rambunctious the last time she saw it.

She says that tomorrow she’ll drag out the stepladder and trim it away from the eaves and windows. I think that is a very good idea. Not that I care about possible damage to woodwork and masonry from the vine’s sticky little aerial rootlets, you understand. I just like to sHaKe ladders when she stands on them, especially if she’s holding sharp tools while she’s up there.

Of the multiple four o’clock bushes that used to be under the bedroom windows when the human female was a sprout, only one remains.

Sigyn, I know the human female says they are pollinated by big, fuzzy, night-flying moths that look like hummingbirds, but do you really want to sit and wait to see them? There are hours and hours of daylight left.

It is getting warm out here! Shall we go inside and look at the houseplants? I don’t care if they’re real or artificial, as long as air conditioning is involved.

Hmm. New cactus in the kitchen window. New schefflera in the bathroom. Same old ficus in the den. And Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Hanging from the shower curtain rod is the same oak-leaf ivy that the human female had forty years ago!

It isn’t much larger than it used to be, but look how thick the “trunk” has become!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Later. Much later.

I think my heart rate has finally come back down to normal. I don’t want to spend an afternoon like this ever again!

I was just about to tell Sigyn to be careful climbing around in that ivy when she suddenly lost her footing or her grip or something and took a tumble right onto the tile floor! Even with my godly reflexes, I wasn’t quick enough to catch her, and we got to see a part of the human female’s natal city neither of us wanted to.

It’s a nasty break in her upper arm. I’ve been speeding the healing along with my magic, but she’s still going to be in a cast for a while.

I’m so sorry, my love. I just wasn’t fast enough.

The only good thing—if any part of this can be called “good”—is that it’s her right arm and she’s left-handed. The human female’s mother has administered healing hugs and is feeding her to “keep up her strength”. The human female, though, she’s going to pay. After all, it was her stupid ivy. Dangerous plants like that need warning signs or something. Just you wait, mortal. Revenge, served hot or cold, is one of my very favorite dishes, and I’ve been taking cooking lessons…

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Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose, Part I: Inside

We are enjoying our stay with the human female’s mother. (Unlike her daughter, she’s a joy to be around.) The human female is wandering around, soggy with nostalgic sentiment, gazing at the home she grew up in. Sigyn, let’s tag along and “help” her play What is New and What is the Same as it Has Always Been.

The human female’s mother loves eagles. The big poster just inside the front door has been there for years.

The collection of eagle figurines still adorns a shelf in the dining room

Sigyn finds these little fellows to be quite friendly…

While the larger ones in the living room are a bit more intimidating.

Don’t you give my sweetie the stink-eye, you featherbrained fowl, or you will learn a different meaning to the word “bust.

The collection of decorative plates on the hallway wall is still there, though a teeny-tiny oil painting by the human female’s aunt has joined the ranks of round things.

Sigyn likes it because it’s “just my size.” If you like it, my love, I shall secret it away in my luggage when we depart.

The other walls in the house have lots of blue-and-white china plates. There is also a good assortment of tableware in the same color scheme—as well as a new, quaint-but-impractical pair of pointy shoes.

Sigyn, you should have had the flowery one.

The dining room table is also where one can usually find a puzzle book.

My sweetie is very good at simple substitution ciphers.

There is still a flock of photos on the table in the living room.

That one is of the human female on her wedding day. Her mother made that lacy dress, can you believe it?

The sewing machine music box is new.

Wind it up and the treadle and needle go up and down, while the wheel goes round and round. Clever.

The hoop-framed quilt blocks are still on the bedroom wall.

I think one of the human female’s grandmothers made them. The mania for cutting up perfectly good bits of fabric and sewing them back together seems to run in the family.

The printed-plush leopard rug is still on the door of the room we are staying in.

I understand that it is customary to manipulate the plush so as to give the feline “blind devil-kitty eyes”.

I am more than happy to comply.

Same old soup tureen on the hutch in the dining room, though time seems to have done for both of its handles.

The human female’s mother has been known to hide cash in here, so it is worth a closer look…

And finally, the bathroom, where the human female is seeing whether she can still find the “pictures” in the patterns on the tiles.

The raccoon is still above the sink.

Okay. Now I see him.

Supposedly there’s a horse in the shower.

You must admit, mortal, that’s a bit of a stretch.

But the fact that the human female has been seeing things that aren’t there since she was a gap-toothed brat in pigtails just goes to show that her mental instability is of long standing and has nothing to do with me, all rumors to the contrary notwithstanding…

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Making New Friends (Sigyn Speaks*)

I’m so excited!!! We are going on another walk around the neighborhood. There has been more rain than usual recently, and all the little desert wildflowers are blooming! Loki says they’re just “weeds”, but look!

This is caltrop. I really like this plant!

Ferny, fluffy leaves and sunny yellow flowers that draw loads of butterflies! What more could you want?

“I like that the fruits are spiny and stick in people’s shoes.”

This little Sida is yellow, too, and also has five petals, but the leaves are very different.

It and this globemallow belong to the cotton family. Isn’t that neat?

Nothing else is quite that color. The flowers can fade to purplish.

“I like plants with flowers that start out the color they mean to go on, like this nightshade. And it’s spiny. Bonus!”

I think there might be two kinds of bindweed here! One has white flowers

And one has pink.

That might just be natural variation, though. Either way, they’re good for dangling!

Loki thinks this dodder is a better vine.

“It’s parasitic, and therefore inherently cool.”

There are plenty of yellow composites out today. This paper flower is really striking! The petals turn pale and dry up–just like paper!

We’re not sure what this one is–but it’s fun to lounge around in!

Loki says he knows what this plant is:

“It’s a chili pequin. These little fruits are going to be hotter than Muspelheim. Let’s take some home and put them in the human female’s lunch…”

That’s not very nice! But we could look to see if any of these prickly pear fruit are ripe and take those. You can eat them fresh or make candy or jelly out of them, if you take the prickles off.

Oooh! What is this fun little plant?!

The flowers look like they are made out of crepe paper!

Hee hee hee! Our resident expert says it’s Heliotropium convolvulaceum. What a big name for such a dainty plant!

Oh, now here are some really pretty and unusual ones! They’re in the Nyctaginaceae or four o’clock family.

What looks like one flower is actually a cluster of several, and what look like petals are actually sepals!

Here’s another kind, with tiny flowers and grayish leaves:

We don’t have a key to the Chihuahuan desert plants with us on this trip, but they might be a sort of Allionia. Sometimes it’s fun not to know all the names and just appreciate the plants because they’re pretty!

Who knew the desert could be so bloomy!

: )

*With occasional interjections by your favorite diminutive Frost Giant

FINALLY, Some Different “Walkies”

Finally! The humans have been trying to break free of job, plague, condestruction, and various other entanglements for over a year, in order to go visit the female’s mother who lives in the faaaar western portion of the state. After a very, very long car trip, here we are in another time zone, in a different house, being fed a lot of good food and enjoying some different scenery.

The human female, in order to burn off some of the good food and revel in the different scenery–and the low humidity!–is taking a long walk in order to revisit the neighborhood where she grew up.

It is a very strange place. What is one to make of this inscription on the wall around the school?

Don’t look, Sigyn! There is a dead bovine in the middle of the thoroughfare!

The human female says those are just transitory aberrations and that some things never change. For example, one can still look between the houses and see the desert.

The Franklin Mountains haven’t changed.

They’re still there, at the end of every east-west street.

Ehehehe! Ow! I think I just sprained something laughing. I just asked the human female what their names are–and she doesn’t know. Umpteen years of living there, and she never learned which name goes with which peak. Oh, well. suppose it doesn’t matter. When I take over this planet, I’m naming everything after myself. Except the really pretty bits, which I will name after Sigyn.

Other things have changed. The human female went to elementary school here.

They have torn bits of it down and are rebuilding. Probably to get rid of her cooties.

The junior high school has been completely remodeled:

Likewise the high school, which is totally unrecognizable.

Apparently, as she got older, she left more and more contamination behind, and the only remedy was to tear down and start over.

This is the house where her family lived when she was born. Someone else lives there now.

I guess Baby Human Female didn’t have too many cooties, because it’s still standing and hasn’t changed much at all. It has a lawn, while many of the other houses have desert landscaping.

Except this one, which looks like some fantastic botanic garden run amok. There is not a square inch of unoccupied ground.

Sigyn is in love with it. Perhaps we can stop by again, my love.

(later)

It was interesting to see some different landscape plants for a change. We found some small trees busy dropping curious brown fruits all over the sidewalk.

(poke, poke, poke.) I don’t trust it.

The female says it is a jujube and we should taste it. I’m not going to try it, mortal. You want it tasted, YOU taste it.

“Tastes like a date”? I’ll just bet… If you’re still alive in eight hours or so, then we’ll talk.

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