Whirlwind Getaway, Day 3, Part Three: The Hirsute Woman

The human female is having a hamburger craving.  (She also wants to lose weight; do you see the problem here?)  She is poking about online, in search of a well-recommended restaurant in some part of town we can actually find.  She has settled on a place named, improbably, The Bearded Lady.

This is going to be very good or very, very bad.

I’m intrigued, but I can’t let her have it all her own way, so I’ve thrown up some impromptu construction between here (our room at the inn) and there, so that her navigation by phone will be useless and she and the human male will argue and wander about until they figure out how to actually get there.

Here we are!  It is in an old white frame house in a rather down-market part of the city.  A waitress with purple hair has seated us at a table outside.  I am more than fine with that, since the inside of this establishment has decibel level that would rival a smithy working at full tilt.


Sigyn is intrigued by the appetizers.  Please, my love, let us not order the cactus strips…

But, by all means, I shall order the L.U.S.T. burger—any dish named after a mortal sin is right up my alley.


The humans are perusing the extensive list of wines and hard ciders.  Some of them have very… odd names.


Think I’ve found the one I want.

Sigyn is forgoing the more exotic beverages (the sweet little thing has no head for alcohol) in favor of examining the herbage.  What is it, my love?


She says it’s, “mmmmlavender.”

The purple-haired waitress has brought the human male’s cider.  The label says it’s supposed to be flavored with lumberjacks, but turns out it’s actually made with rhubarb.  He’s not overly impressed.


But Sigyn approves of the color.

All of the reviews for this place said, “OMG, you have to try the fried leeks!”

So we are.  (poke, poke, poke.)  They seem harmless enough.


(nibble nibble) Odin’s eyepatch!  These alliaceous tidbits are quite delectable.  I mean, nearly anything is good beer-battered and fried, but these are superlative.

Our burgers have arrived.  The human male has lost no time divesting his of any vestiges of pickle.  The human female will probably eat her pickles separately, which is a noted quirk of hers.  She’s ordered her cow-sandwich with caramelized onions, but I don’t see any.  Perhaps they are lurking beneath the beef…


Sigyn has no opinion on the burgers, being entirely distracted by the cheese-sprinkled fries.

We will likely have to roll the human female out of here on a barrow, and no doubt tomorrow she will regret gorging so dreadfully, but for now, we are all replete.

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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 3, Part Two: All Shapes and Sizes

We are continuing our survey of the animal kingdom.  There are tall animals and short animals; bulky animals and slender animals;  hairy and scaly and warty animals. (And the human female, who is hairy and scaly and warty and bulky and short altogether.)

And then there is this magnificent bastard.


Oh, you beauty!   Look at those horns.  I think I have found a worthy animal for my iconography.  Wolves and snakes and eight-legged horses are old news.  This creature, this paragon, this ibex is truly a beast after my own heart.

Uh, oh.  It is clouding up and threatening to rain.  All of our party deems it prudent to seek shelter and sustenance and wait out the squall.  The humans have chosen salad.  You distract them Sigyn, and I will take the opportunity to appropriate some of this delicious lettuce.  I’m thinking maybe the ibex might like a change from alfalfa and hoofstock pellets.


(later)  The rain has passed over.  We are now studying a large reef tank which is home to a shark and many colorful fish.  Look at this one:


I cannot decide whether it has some sort of terrible skin disease or if it came that way.  The label says it is a wobbegong or carpet shark. That is one patchy-looking carpet.  Time to call Stanley Steemer.

Ehehehehehe!  Sigyn look at this little fellow!  What a beaky little face!  He could nibble an apple through a picket fence.


The tank sign says this is a “birdmouth wrasse.”  You’d think with that skinny little kisser he couldn’t eat much, but apparently they will happily eat their tankmates.  Way to go, little fishy!

Outside, the zoo has a large area of pavement set with fossils from various parts of the realm.  Sigyn has become enamored of this ammonite slice, which does indeed exhibit a pleasing fractally goodness.


All day, we have been seeing signs directing visitors to the Mola.  “This way to the Mola!”  “Why not see the Mola!”  Now, I have to admit, the human female knows quite a lot about animals for a botanist.  She says the only “mola” she knows of is the ocean sunfish, which seems to have misplaced its tail at some point during its evolution. (Take a look at that link.  Those things are creepy.)  However, there is no indication on the zoo map of any large, tail-less, mostly-cartilaginous fish.

(somewhat later)  Ah.  Museum Of Living Art, or MOLA.  That is what this establishment calls its reptile house.  Out in front is another one of the ubiquitous statues.  This one depicts a komodo dragon, a fierce, fearsome, wickedly clawed reptile after my own heart.


Given that this statue is lifesize, however, I think I am quite content for it to reside behind glass inside this facility!

This building houses many dangerous reptiles.  Behold the deadly Gaboon Viper and its exceptional camouflage!


Best to be careful, then, in the jungles of sub-Saharan Africa.  If disturbed, this serpent is likely to lash out and bite one right in the gaboon.

Augh!  Out of the MOLA and back out into the sun.  So BRIGHT!  Warn a fellow, why don’t you!  Still, it is reasonably cool, so there is that.

On our way out, we are stopping to look at one of several colonies of large, garishly pink wading birds.  By Hugnin and Muninn’s downly little pinfeathers!  Have you ever seen anything quite so silly, Sigyn?  (Besides the human female, of course.)  Their beaks are on upside down, those knees are ridiculous, and can we TALK about the flappy pink feet?


And so noisy!   Standing next to the flock is like being at a crowded cocktail party full of garrulous, inebriated kindergarten teachers.  Several of the improbably-colored creatures have built tall mud nests, each crowned by a single large egg.   Just what we need!  More gabby, roseate, stilty-beasts!

We have been walking all day.  Sigyn is starting to look a little weary, though her brave smile never falters.  Come, my love.  Let us repair to the inn, have a bit of a wash-up, and venture out in search of a delectable supper…

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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 3, Part One: Critters Galore, Most of Them Looking Decidedly Melty

What a difference a day makes!  A cold front blew through last night, it rained, and it is pleasantly cool and overcast outside.  This calls for a warm breakfast.


Sigyn’s enthusiastic, but I’m not entirely convinced that those are real eggs.  Or at least not real chicken eggs.  Has anybody checked to see if there are unexplained lizards in the kitchen?

Speaking of lizards, that’s what’s on the menu for today in another way.  The humans had considered visiting another art museum this morning and, in fact, they were on the way there, when the pleasant weather changed their minds and they diverted to the Zoo instead.

It is a very fancy zoo, with lush vegetation and quite a few sculptures.  Sigyn’s not very brave around large live lizards, but this bronze one is probably harmless.


Still, I’m not sure I like the look in his beady enamel eye…  First sign of a forked tongue darting out at my beloved, you brazen monitor, and you get a Gungnir-poke in the snoot.

Small, bright-eyed, curious, terminally perky, squeaky-voiced, and cute as all get out:


That describes either the meerkat or the person looking at the meerkat.  In fact, can we even be sure from that photo who’s on what side of the enclosure glass?

Here’s another sculpture.  Judging from the shine, this bashful, pint-sized pachyderm gets patted by hundreds of people every day.


But I doubt many of the people who pose for photos with him sit on his head.

I want to see some live animals.  Proper big ones, too, not little members of the Herpestidae.

This will do, though it seems a little under-inflated.


My working theory is that they had it inflated for warmer weather and, now that it’s colder, the air inside has contracted, leading to this general air of floppiness.  Does anyone have a pump?

The zoo keeps two rhinoceros.  Rhinoceroses? Rhinoceri?  Both have chosen to emulate large, wrinkled bath toys today.


Lions are supposed to be strong, noble, and powerful.  These lions, however, appear flaccid, ineffective, and as harmless as two under-stuffed sofa pillows.  Mid-morning is rather early in the day to be taking an afternoon nap, gentlemen.

Perhaps they have been hunting all night and are weary.  (Have zoo staff counted the antelopes this morning?)


Perhaps they are bored.  Perhaps they need something constructive to do.


Surely there’s a library or something somewhere they could be guarding.  Or a movie they could be announcing.  If they only had the nerve.

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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 2, Part Three: A Little Night Music

The humans, after a sorely-needed shower (frankly, they smelled!) and a bit of a rest, are ready to go out again.  Apparently there is a very Important and very Prestigious musical competition going on in this city, and we have managed to acquire tickets.

This undertaking will necessitate making the journey downtown once more.  That is not so difficult.  Finding a place to PARK, now, that is another matter entirely.

Well, they pulled it off.   Here we are, hurrying to find Bass Hall, so that we may claim said tickets.

And here is the hall.  Look, Sigyn!  With a name like Bass Hall, I was expecting fish, but no!  Winged Minions to welcome me as is my due.


Ha!  I have played a prank on the humans.  The ticket office is not open yet!  Now they will have to rush in order to find a place to dine and get back in time to get the tickets.  Time is short and they are wasting time dithering.   What to eat?  What to eat?

Aaand it looks as if it will be tacos this evening.  See anything you like, Sigyn?


Well, this is unusual.  Sigyn is more interested in the green sauce than the red.


Of course, that red sauce is more like brown sauce, so maybe that’s why.

Here are the tacos.  The human female chose fish. Hmmm.   I’m not sure I trust them.  What are the green bits?


We have hurried back to the concert hall and have secured the tickets.  The helpful usherette has suggested to Sigyn and me that if we go up to the Fancy Bar Lounge, we can go out onto the balcony to better observe the Winged Minions.

Up close, they are quite magnificent, especially in the light of the westering sun.


What do you think, my love?  Should I have some like this on my palace when I build it?

Here we are up in our seats.  I believe this is what mortals call the “nosebleed section.”  Still, the view of the stage is uninterrupted, which is good.


Oh, Sigyn, look up!  The ceiling, in keeping with the statuary outside, is all feathery!


The artist has painted two little birds up there among the clouds.  Do you see them?

Let’s see who is on the program.  It looks to be quite the international affair. Hmm.  Rachel Cheung, Eunae Lee, and Sergey Somebodyorother.


(later)  I must confess that I am quite impressed.  We heard three of the competitors and they were all very accomplished.  They were allowed to choose what they played, with the exception of one very clangy modern piece which they all had to play.  Somehow they all made it sound different.  Sigyn and I both thought that the Russian was the most outstanding, though.  I do wonder how it will all turn out!

(Yawn!)  It has been a long and tiring day.  I am sure the humans will drag us around all day again tomorrow, so let us go back to the hotel and dream of hungry koi and melodious pianos.

And Winged Minions.  Must have those.

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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 2, Part Two: The Humans Don’t Know When To Quit

Triple ugh.  If anything, it has gotten hotter.  The humans are all drippy and wilty.  They think it is time for lunch.  Lunch someplace cool.

(later) What?!  By my pointy little horns, these two have NO imagination.  They have returned the SAME restaurant at which they ate yesterday, and have ordered the exact same dishes.  Pitiful, that’s what it is.

Somewhat restored, we have all returned to the garden to see what other delights there may be.

Look, Sigyn!  There is an (indoor!) exhibit of miniature trees.  Come stand next to one for scale.  I don’t really understand the mortal fascination with making things as small as possible, but I will admit it—this does look like a regular, large tree.  Very well done.


The gentlemen at the entrance said we could vote for our favorites in the show, but this specimen doesn’t have a number.  Oh, I see why.  This isn’t a tree. It’s a fern or something.  Sorry, Sigyn.  I know you like it.  You’ll just have to wave and tell it it’s doing a very good job of being a fern in a tiny pot.


Sigyn is hoping that if she is quiet and polite, the two old men will invite her to have tea with them.


Great Yggdrasil!  Look at the roots on this one!


I think this one has been hitting the fertilizer pretty heavily.  Someone should put it on a diet.


Well, that was edifying.  Onward.

Sigyn never can resist a statue.


Careful, dearest.  She looks possessed.  Or as if she’s about to drop you.

Now we have found a greenhouse full of something called “begonias.”   Here is a nice planting of some with very colorful leaves, all grouped around what is billed as a reflecting pool. 


I’m afraid that all it really reflects is the fact that no one has filled or cleaned it recently.

Sigyn is having fun identifying which plants in the bed are alike.  It is like a horticultural matching game!

I like the green ones, and I like how each blade grows in a spiral.


Sigyn, of course, prefers the red.


Now we are in search of the scented garden, which the human female wants very  much to see.  We are standing right where the map says it should be.  Oh, no!  Have the staff decided to close it for refurbishment?


What bad timing!   What a shame!   Ehehehehehe.

Speaking of time, how late is it getting to be?  I GUESS WE’LL NEVER KNOW, WILL WE?


Don’t look at me. It was like this when I got here.  I swear.

We have moved on to the perennial garden.  Daylilies do not come in red, but Sigyn likes the yellow just fine.


Alstroemeria.  Now THAT comes in red.


Looks like they are out of garden guides.


Yes, Sigyn, this is a cute little “fixer-upper.”  And it would be fun to live in a garden.  But it’s, um, a little lacking in the windows department.  Not to mention that to go in and out we’d have to detach the whole front wall every time.

Also consider that it has no air conditioning, which on a day as hot as this one, is a real deal-breaker.  Whew!  I don’t know about you, but I am ready for a nap and a shower.  Not necessarily in that order.

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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 2, Part One: Do We *Really* Want to Be Outdoors?

Ugh.  No relief from the heat.  If anything, it is hotter than yesterday.  Large City to the North is not friendly to Frost Giants.  The humans have no consideration for me, though, so we are off.  Time to get going!  Things to do!  People to see!  Double ugh.

But first:  breakfast!  The human female’s preoccupation with waffles— and difficulty with them—has been documented here before, from her slap-dash approach to toppings  to her inability to fill a waffle iron completely.  She is at it again.  The inn at which we are staying has two waffle irons, one of which makes the standard round waffle at which she fails so spectacularly, and another which produces conjoined quadruplet wafflettes.  The female, self-righteously believing she is saving a few calories, has opted to only make two.  And eat them plain.  They don’t taste as nice that way, but at least I’m not forced to look at one of her Jackson-Pollock masterpieces.


Our main activity for today is a visit to the Botanical Gardens.  I hear they are very fine, especially one sub-garden which has been groomed in the style of a garden from the other side of this realm.  We shall begin here.

The human male, who has lived in foreign parts, says this is a lantern.  I do not see how that can be correct, as there is no bulb and no cord.  Nor is there a reservoir for kerosene or other combustible.  Obviously it is a rustic little rain shelter, for use should inclement weather arise.   Or possibly, a very fancy bus stop.  Luckily, we have no need of either today.


There is a series of pools and falls running through the garden.  The human female has purchased some fish food to feel the finny denizens of the pools.

But I have let these most persistent waterfowl know that breakfast is served.


The fish are coming, but the ducks are faster, so likely the fishies will go hungry.


Once the ducks are distracted elsewhere, the feeding frenzy can begin.  Don’t get too close to the edge, Sigyn!  One of those gaping mouths could suck you right in!


It is not only ducks and carp who appreciate a good fish kibble.


Apparently, there is a lot of eating going on here today, because down by the big pool, there’s a big blue heron standing perfectly still, just waiting for a bite-sized carp to get a little too close…

The landscape materials here are very fine.  This boardwalk through a bamboo thicket is both decorative and sturdy.


The bamboo itself is eminently suitable for dangling.


Sigyn, should you be doing that so soon after breakfast?

The human female has given up trying to count the number of maple varieties represented here.  Sigyn, naturally, prefers the ones that are red all year round.


Another rain shelter.  This would make a cute little summer house, don’t you think, Sigyn?


There is not much blooming at this time, but trust my sweetie to make a beeline right for the showiest blossom.


The bluey-purply ones are nice too.  They look like little bells.  Or, if you are Sigyn, big bells.


While Sigyn and the human female are botanizing and the male is taking photographs, I can explore a bit on my own for a while.


Neener neener neener.

Sigyn has rejoined me and we are completing our circuit of the garden.  There is some very decorative bamboo fencing.  Mortals, why cannot we have this at home?


The gift shop is apparently partially a nursery.  It sells these quaint little trees.


As well as the tiny little buildings to put next to them to give them  a sense of scale.  (Actually, rather than making the miniature trees look big, the tiny houses just make Sigyn look ENORMOUS!


All of our exploring and marveling at the beauties of nature, as well as our reading about the symbolism of the objects in this garden, have left me with just one burning question:

Sigyn, if I bought you this raccoon sake set, would you use it?


What is is they say in this realm?  “Stay tuned, kiddies.  Lots more to come!”

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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 1, Part Two: Mostly Art

Suitably fortified with spring rolls and bobba tea (I’m still not sure I trust those little black chewy things at the bottom) we are all ready for adventures.  But ugh!  Is it ever HOT.  I think I might like to adventure in an ice rink—the human female once went ice skating in this city, someplace downtown.  Of course, she’s too feeble-minded to remember WHERE, so we will all just have to roast.

Oh.  Well.  At least we are going to do indoor things today.  But Odin’s Eyepatch, people, does it have to be art?  I am not in an “art” mood.  I don’t want to be edified or uplifted, I am on vacation.  I want adventure.  I want thrills.  I want excitement!  I want—


—never to meet this gentleman in a dark alley.  He is properly fierce!  Well, as fierce as one can be with bows on their shoes and pumpkin pants

Perhaps he is merely giving art patrons what the humans refer to as “the stink-eye” because many of them are pausing for quite a while to ogle admire this young woman


who, though separated from him by several hundred years and the Bay of Biscay, would appear to be his sartorial relative.  (Or Sartoris relative.  Ehehehehe.  Art joke.)

The human female quite likes this next one, though I have no idea why.  She says it reminds her of the bridges in London (despite the fact that it was painted by a Frenchman) and that it “neatly captures one brief moment on a foggy morning and a little slice of city life; how the three figures, though occupying the same space, are separated from one another by class and preoccupation with their concerns.”


Snort.  What a lot of pretentious twaddle.  Probably she likes it because it is mostly blue.

Up close, this next one is a mish-mash of quickly-slapped on brushstrokes in varying shades of gray.


From a moderate distance, it does an astounding job of capturing the light on a quiet winter morning.  I can practically smell the wood smoke on the frosty air and hear the snow crunch under the old woman’s feet.  Looking at it more closely again, I see that I was right the first time.  It’s little slaps of gray paint.  Hmmm.

This next one is all slappy as well, and presents a street scene in colors not found in nature.


Supposedly, it is very valuable and shows “mastery in its use of yellow, an uncommon color for landscapes.”  Probably uncommon because if you were to put this thing in your living room, you would need to redecorate so as not to clash with it.

We have now wandered into the section of the gallery devoted to art from the Eastern portions of this realm.

Sigyn thinks these gibbons are funny.


I think that if a human mother dangled her offspring like this simian is doing, there would be authorities involved.  Still, it rather makes me wish that there were a tame and willing gibbon in our household, because those long-reaching arms would be perfect for getting things out of the tops of the kitchen cupboards.

The human female and Sigyn are in raptures over this gold and floral folding screen.  There is some serious plant-squealing going on!


The human female is peering at the flowers and making squeaky noises because, apparently, they are painted with such skill that they can be identified by genus.  She is particularly excited about what she says are little blue dayflowers:


Sigyn is quite familiar with dayflowers.

Ehehehehehe!   By Sleipnirs eightfold fetlocks!  This is splendid!  The human female has become so enthusiastic, peering closely and pointing and squealing that she has been asked by the guard to step back or, preferably, leave the gallery entirely.

I always said that too much botany would get her into trouble someday.


Having left the art museum, we are in search of one of those large markets that the humans are so fond of.  Their intent is to buy something interesting for dinner.  But first, a visit to a store that specializes in things to hold…other things.  The human female is enthusiastically telling the male (who has never been to a store of this chain) that it is a wondrous, yet dangerous place.

She’s not wrong.


Hang  in there, sweetie, Loki’s coming.

Now we are a the large market.  Sigyn approves their horticultural offerings.


She is also entranced by these heirloom tomatoes.


Beloved, you may not want to hug these weird things.  I am fairly certain that a good few of those do not conform to the usual spectral specifications for berries of the genus Solanum.

Moreover, I am reasonably certain that this is not a tomato.


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