quaint Midgardian customs

A Visit to the Not-so-wild West, Part I–A Belated Yule

The humans were supposed to travel west to visit the female’s mother for Thank-a-Turkey Day. What with one thing and another, that trip was cancelled at the last minute, so the human female and her family decided to try to meet up after Yule instead.

Sigyn and I have tagged along and here we all are now, in El Paso, where temperatures, while a little warmer than average, at least feel a bit more like winter than our part of Texas has been lately. (We left with Queen Anne’s Lace blooming on the roadsides. Which is crazy!)

We got in last night and the human female’s sister (whom I am predisposed to dislike, since she finds me “mean” and “snarky“) and her husband arrived early this morning. We have observed the ritual exchange of gifts. The human female made necklaces for her female relatives. The sister’s daughter (the human female’s niece) sent along a box of toys for the Terror Twins, as well as a present for the human female. Let’s unwrap it and see what it is.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! What IS this thing?!

Once again the human race astounds me with the depths to which it will sink. The above is a rubbery cat which will forcefully “barf” a felt hairball when squeezed. The human female is now shooting felt balls all over the parlor and cackling like a lunatic. “Dignity” is just a word to you, isn’t it?

(later)

Someone was finally able to wrest the hairball-shooter away from the human female long enough for more prosaic gifts– such as a sweater and a set of apple-shaped ceramic canisters–to be opened and admired. Thank-yous have been said, naps have been taken, and it is now time for a belated Yule feast.

As soon as we can get Sigyn out of the candle holder we can begin.

Hang on, sweetie. Loki’s coming. (How does she even get into these situations?)

The human female’s mother has outdone herself. We are starting with these snailish-looking appetizers.

(poke, poke, poke) I think the resemblance is only coincidental. As near as I can figure, these contain spinach and red pepper and no actual mollusks. Sigyn just likes them because they are red and green.

Mmmm. Roast pork, mashed potatoes, spiced carrots and parsnips, asparagus, applesauce, and rolls.

And, as usual, there is enough for a gathering twice this size. Sigyn, if the human female doesn’t gluttonize too much, we might get to enjoy mashed potato pancakes for breakfast and delicious roast-pork sandwiches!

This is almost worth being trapped in a car with the humans for thirteen hours…

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Mischief is In the Cards

Every year the human female tortures all of her friends and relations with a long, boring Yule letter, tortures herself composing the letter and writing a personal note in all of cards, and tortures the human male with her ditherings about finding addresses and getting things signed, stamped, and mailed. For two or three evenings running, the living room (or wherever she’s perching) turns into Yule Card Central.

She ordered her cards online this year. I made sure one box was back-ordered and delayed about four weeks, but it finally arrived just as she was about to start.

She’s mid-task now. Some of the envelopes have a bit of ursine artwork.

I fail to see what polar bears have to do with the solstice, the birth of a god, or anything except portions of Midgard north of 66°30′ N, but I’ve long since given up trying to make sense out of this crazy realm.

Sigyn approves of the stamps with the pretty lady and the baby…

…and is equally entranced by the black and white bears on the return address labels. More bears? I tell you, it makes NO sense!

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! The human female appears to have finished writing the cards (though I will bet any amount you like she has forgotten someone and will have to scramble to do a few more at the last minute). She has reached the bottom of one of the boxes of cards and discovered one of my little Yule mischiefs.

You know how fancy boxes of cards come with an extra envelope, in case one makes a mistake with the address?

I made sure this box has one envelope too few! Ehehehehe! Now she has to choose between going through her stash of envelopes to see if she has one that fits, taking the time to create an envelope out of blank paper, OR go against her innate miserliness and throw away a card that can’t be mailed. See? I told you–torture!

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Now I Want Brownies

It’s that time of year again. The human female and the band of Do-Gooders she helps out are working on putting together food bags (you can CALL them “baskets”, woman, but nothing will change the fact that they’re floppy and not woven out of anything) for people who might not otherwise have a calorie-filled Thank A Turkey Day.

I’ve already had a little fun by making sure that one church didn’t bring in as many donations as they said they would.

Still, the bag-packing room is full.

Everything is all neatly sorted. The expired food has been disposed of. The weird, random things that people donated have been put somewhere else. There’s just no place for Spam and canned chili in the game plan. And this isn’t even everything. The volunteers have already packed most of the bags. The front hallway is full of ones waiting for pickup.

So what’s in the other room is mostly just the extra, in case they’ve made a calculation error and need it. (Because math is hard.)

Having so much already done means that a)

The human female is too late to do her usual thing of making sure the frosting matches the cake. It’s creepy, how obsessed she is with making sure that a carrot cake mix gets a cream cheese frosting and the strawberry cake mix gets a strawberry frosting, and so on. Sigyn thinks that any cake is improved by the addition of funfetti frosting with sprinkles. I agree! Me, I like to make and bag up the weirdest combinations I can. So far, my best creation was a camouflage cake mix with the coconut-pecan frosting that goes on German chocolate cake.

b) It is also too late to discombobulate the stuffing.

Each regular-sized family gets two packages. The volunteers try to send two of the same brand and kind, so it matches. I think it’s more fun to mix it up and put cornbread stuffing with pork stuffing when no one is looking. (Seriously, what kind of monster puts pork stuffing in a Thank the Turkey Day food drive?)

and c) No one is going to notice if…

A couple of boxes of Super Extra Fudgy Double Gooey Chocolate Brownie mix somehow vanish into the dimensional portal pocket of my cloak and go home with me.

What do you think, Sigyn?

Do we liberate a bag or three of marshmallows to make the brownies extra, extra special?

(later)

Soon people will begin arriving to pick up their food. Just to keep things interesting, I’ve arranged for some people to back out of their pickup and want a delivery. Others just won’t show up and won’t be reachable by any means. One large family will somehow only get half of their meal and the human will have to deliver the other half, which she will do to an outdated address and have to call to arrange for a meet up or porch delivery. Someone from DoorDash will drive through the pickup area with an order of fast food for someone at the church school. One bag will break. Someone else will come and hustle away the extra before the volunteers know if they’ll need any of it.

By the end, I will be very thankful for such a fertile opportunity for mischief, and all the mortals involved will be thankful to get off their feet.

Take care, minions, and don’t forget to Thank the Turkey.

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Hyvää kanelirullapäivää!

Wake up, Sigyn! It’s a very special day! Do you know what October 4 is? It’s Cinnamon Roll Day! That’s right! In some northern countries, they celebrate by eating cinnamon rolls today. That is my kind of holiday!

When the human male mentioned this last night, the human female immediately hatched a plan. Now, I know the human female knows how to make cinnamon rolls–I’ve seen her do it. But she’s lazy at heart, so she decided that walking to the market, buying some bake-your own rolls, and eating those would be good enough. And the exercise would negate the calories from snarfing the rolls, right?

So here we are, on a pleasant fall morning, about to embark upon a gastronomical celebration.

The early light is pretty, but it hasn’t reached the schoolhouse lilies yet.

We are now at the market. The bakery must not know what day it is, because there isn’t a huge display of warm, cinnamony goodness.

And it looks like there was a run on brioche…

We’re headed, therefore, to the refrigerated dough section. We’re nearly there, but a display of All Things Pumpkin Spice has caught our eyes.

Um, no. Let us keep looking.

All right. Here we are. Pizza dough, bread dough, crescent rolls… Well, these look interesting, and they do come in both red and green options…

But we are here specifically for cinnamon rolls, so we should keep looking.

Ah. Cinnamon rolls. By Volstagg’s Straining Waistcoat Buttons! We have a lot of options. Almost too many. I have never seen strawberry ones before.

Is that even legal? What else do they have? How about Extra Rich Buttercream Icing?

I mean, there’s a 1-800 number for a cardiologist right here on the label, but they could be good. . .

Sigyn has countered with these.

Intriguing, but the human male is not one for Cream Cheese Icing.

The human female swears that the Orange ones are good.

But I think these would be most appropriate for the Rightful King of Asgard and Future Ruler of Midgard.

Truly kingly!

(later)

So what kind did we get? Who whined and wheedled until she got her way? Who do you think?

This is the human female trying to determine whether the round pan specified is going to hold all eight rolls.

It’ll be cozy, but it should work.

The time has come to open the roll of refrigerated dough. This is always the exciting bit. Sigyn, do you see where to start peeling away the paper wrapper?

Ehehehe! The human female has already greased the round pan, but look here!

She could be feasting gluttonously sooner if she’d paused long enough to read the Faster Bake Method instructions. She’s too lazy to wash the round pan and pull out a baking sheet, so she’ll just have to pace and salivate for the whole nineteen minutes.

Time to gently poke the sealing seam on the roll of dough…

BOOM!

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! The walk home from the store and the messing about with measuring pans took long enough the the eager little rolls just burst out of the can before I could even touch it!

We’re lucky it didn’t shoot the little can of icing across the room.

Oh, my. The rolls have also had enough time to fuse together into one big, solid log of dough.

Those perforations aren’t going to be any use at all. The human female is going to have to cut the rolls with a knife. Stand back, Sigyn! We don’t want you in the way of her rudimentary knife skills.

Here we are. All tucked in and cozy and ready for Mr. Oven.

(Twenty-three interminable minutes later…)

All done! They do smell wonderful, don’t they? I think I detect a hint of almond in the dough.

Frosting time!

Best let the human female do the honors, dearest. Orange icing doesn’t come out of red velvet very well.

Ta da!

Looks like she hasn’t used all of the icing, and she’s left two unfrosted, since the human male likes sweets less than she does. That is fine with me–it just means you and I can eat the leftover frosting right out of the can.

It’s nomming time!

Mmm. Lämmin, tuoksuva, herkullisia kaloreita.

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Es Martes de Tacos, y Creo Que Falta Algo

Midgardians have some very odd notions of what occasions warrant a celebration.  For reasons I cannot fathom, it seems that eating meat wrapped in a flexible or crunchy corn shell on a particular day of the week is A Thing.

To this end, the human female has e-invited some friends and work colleagues to a Virtual Taco Tuesday.

¡Que comiencen las festividades!

She has chosen an appropriate video background:

interior-of-the-restaurant

…and is now preparing the repast.

taco tuesday 1

Looks like tonight is a “crunchy” night.

I made sure the human male purchased this particular box.  Behold!  Not a one of the delicate vessels is broken!

taco tuesday 2

A light is dawning.  Let’s see if she can count this high.  1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10…

11…

Hmmm.  Better have another look at that box, mortal.

taco tuesday 3

Ehehehehe!   Now you know why I handed him this box.

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Flowers For My Birthday

As I noted yesterday.  It was my birthday a few days ago.  I’m now in the Post-Birthday Slump. Sigh.  Another year older and no closer to ruling Midgard.  The human female’s nasty acetone threat was hurtful too.  I am in desperate need of cheering up.

And since a happy Sigyn never fails to make me smile, we are doing what my beloved likes best, walking and looking for flowers.  No place fancy, just around the block between chilly showers.  It’s not too early for winter annuals.

See?  There’s the smile I needed!  Sherardia is an old friend.

sherardia

And the burr clover is in bloom too.  What fun!

medicago

Of course, it’ll be more fun when it gets around to making burrs.  Watching the human female pick them out of her shoelaces and socks is one of my favorite spring traditions.

Sigyn has found one she really likes.  It’s called “cowboy satchel”—or something like that.

capsella

Tiny, delicate white flowers, heart-shaped fruit, sturdy enough to climb—What’s not to love?

From her high perch, she has a good, close-up look at the fuzzy purple henbit blossoms.

lamium1

I will admit to liking this one as well.  Purple is a most fitting color for royalty, they say.

lamium2

As well, the flowers look like little sock puppets, all proclaiming, “Hail, Loki!  Ruler-to-be of all Midgard!”

And, since I have magic at my disposal, I can actually make them do it.

What have you found now, my love?

dandelion

“It’s a dandelion!  You can make wishes on them!”

Really?  How quaint!  And what are you going to wish for?

“That you have a wonderful year ahead!”

I tell you, mortals, this woman is too good for me.

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Seasonal Midgardian Art

While the humans are napping-off the effects of too little sleep/multiple long liturgies/too many jellybeans, Sigyn and I have come up on campus to see what’s on display in one of the museums.  Yes, it’s a weekend. Yes, it’s a holiday weekend.  Yes, it’s a holiday weekend and the doors are locked until Tuesday, but when has a locked door ever slowed me down?

This is what we came to see–a whole exhibit of painted eggs.

ruddereggs

No, Sigyn.  I don’t think they’re real.  I think they’re wooden.  I like the one in shades of green, waaay back in the corner.  Which one is your favorite?

Look all you like.  When you’re ready, we can head back home.  I’ve heard there might  be strawberries and Blue Bell…

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A Simple, Soupy Supper

There is a Midgardian children’s rhyme about a footwear-obsessed woman punishing her supernumerary offspring by providing them only potage for their supper and then sending them straight to their nightly repose.*

Clearly, Midgardians view the consumption of soup as a penitential act.  Or at least that’s how I read it.  It makes sense, then, that the humans are preparing and serving a simple soup supper as one of the final acts of their yearly Lenten observances.  (I’d say “festivities,” but Lent’s not supposed to be festive.  Perhaps it should be Lenten “miseries.”

Oh.  Hmmm. Perhaps it won’t be too bad.  Look, Sigyn, there is a marvelous salad.

soup-1

Which is apparently not for the soup supper.  How disappointing!  No, it looks as if we shall be saladless.  And breadless, just as in the quaint little jingle about bad parenting.

Different mortals have concocted different soups.  Vegetarian chili, potato, split pea…  All homemade and lovingly simmered.  What have the humans I know brought?

soup-2

Look, Sigyn–they’re CHEATING!  Yes, I know they’ve had “the busy week from Hel,” but everyone else managed to make the time to actually cook, so no sympathy from me.  What kind of soup comes in a screaming yellow packet, anyway?

soup-3

Made from scratch my eye!  How lazy can you get?!  Just add water and it’s soup already.  Pfft.  No love there.

Personally, I went for the chili.

soup5

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*With surreal juvenile literature like that, Asgard’s tales of world-binding serpents, eight-legged horses, etc. seem distinctly less fantastic.

 

 

 

None of This Makes Sense, Part I:The Beef

Apparently tomorrow is a special day for some Midgardians, those whose ancestors hail from a very green and damp bit of the planet’s northern hemisphere.  On this day, they are supposed to eat a certain traditional meal, except that that the natives of that particular bit of Midgard  don’t actually eat it.  The whole assemblage of comestibles is apocryphal, something made up in this country, more or less.  The human female, not being of a very discerning or discriminating nature, has bought into the hoodwinkery and has plunged with gusto into the whole rigamarole of corn, beef, and cabbage.

Here is the beef for the feast.  I am highly suspicious of meat that comes in a bag.

bag

Poke, poke, poke.  Look at that–it broke the tip off Gungnir!  If no one can manage to cut this, we are ALL going to be hungry and need charity.

Time to trim.  Even Volstagg wouldn’t want all that fat.  Here’s hoping my dagger can get through this.  (Sigyn doesn’t need to see this part of the process.)

timetocut

And now Mister Beef gets to simmer all day.

simmer

The human female has wandered off to do whatever it is when she’s not doing anything useful.  This is my opportunity to do a little mischief.   Turn up the heat a little and ploof!  FOOOAAAAAAAM!

splat

The human female will have fun cleaning that up, but it serves her right for tossing out my dagger with the scraps.  I made her comb through the whole garbage with her very own hands, but we didn’t find it.  She will pay for this, you can be sure, and for a very long time.

Sigyn is really interested now because it involves this “cute” little packet of spices.

spices

As I said, the beef will simmer all day long.  I get that. But what about the rest of the meal?

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