quaint Midgardian customs

Oh, so much to do!

I know that last year I wrote at length about the Midgardians’ preparations for Yule.  Don’t think for a minute that because I haven’t nattered on and on this year that I haven’t been helping the human female with  the preparations.

When, thinking that the framer had the details from the last on on file, she didn’t spell out that she wanted her grand-nephew’s birth announcement to be framed vertically, without a mat, I filled in the missing details.

sampler

Mighty fine!

I helped with the yule cards.

cards1

Let’s see, the card for the retired deacon in the nursing home goes in the envelope for the mother-in-law, and the card for the mother-in-law goes to…

I also made sure that the postal clerk was out of the more traditional stamps, the kind with the lady and the baby on them.

cards2

I don’t know who these strangely round-headed people are.

I helped decorate the tree.  That took almost all of a whole day!  This is how we do it around here:

Before starting, it’s vital that the tree be firmly seated in the stand.

treestand

I bent the cap just a bit so that one of the screws is frozen in place. The tree will always list at least 4 degrees to starboard now, but since the humans themselves are more than slightly “off,” I figure it suits.  Plus, it’s just fun to watch them bicker about which way it needs to be adjusted.

Next:  Check the lights.  This string is fine, but I twiddled the other so that one of the four component strands is out.  One of the colored strings “inexplicably” is all lit on one end and dark the rest of the way.  The human female says it shouldn’t work that way and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sort it before giving up and fetching a new string.

testing lights

The feline can usually be induced to chase the strings as they’re put on, which will probably take out a few more of the little bulbs.

cathelp

Stop whining, humans–I am helping you do your part to conserve energy.

Then we put the ornaments on.  The human female likes the shiny glass kind.   The fragile shiny glass kind.  She dropped and broke one of the very dark green ones that the human male and I really like, so I retaliated by nudging a blue one off the tree.  (The floor was quite crunchy there for a bit!)

I was going to leave it at that, but then this snooty, skirted tart with a shiny hat and a harp gave me a dirty look, like I wasn’t good enough to handle tiny bells and glass fruits and veggies and the little wooden cherries that go near the top of the tree.

broken angel

Not so fancy now, eh, b*tch?

Now, what to do with the aftermath?  Hide the evidence?  Tuck into slippers?  Drop into tomorrow’s oatmeal?

brokenornament

I know!  I’ll hang it on the tree, and let the human female wonder which other one of her precious baubles is missing. She’ll drive herself crazy trying to remember if there was another apple and how many of the solid burgundy ones there are supposed to be…*

She’ll be too distracted to poke the presents under the tree.  Just another service I provide.

You’re welcome.

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* Do you know, I think it is a conspiracy larger even than my mischief that, at this time of the year, when the adults are worn thin and tired and stressed, and the small people are bouncing off the walls with sugar and excitement and scarcely-repressed greed, that all of these clumsy, butter-fingered mortals are brainwashed into handling bubble-thin glass and dangling it multiple meters off the floor.  It’s a recipe for carnage and recriminations.  I love it.

 

 

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One Yule Tradition I Actually Like

I can do without cards and lights trees and carols, and I can certainly do without wrapping, but there’s one Yule custom I don’t mind at all.  The Department’s annual potluck Yule luncheon is usually a good time, and there’s no knowing what people will bring.  The human female usually makes pilaf.  In the spirit of the season, I’ve offered to help.

pilaf1

Rice and onion and peas and raisins and almonds and chicken bouillon and parsley and coriander…

pilaf2

I have it on good authority that it’s all in how it’s stirred.  Sadly, this won’t be the human female’s best batch and we will all be out of luck.  You see, she’s forgotten the butter, and the coriander has lost all its flavor.  Oh, well.  You know grad students.  They’ll eat anything.  There won’t be any leftovers to bring home.

<later>

Are there any good goodies here today?  Hmmm…let’s see. Turkey, sweet potatoes, ham, salad–not bad.  Oops!  The human female got here late and there was a long line, so she’s missed the macaroni and cheese.  But there’s always enough dessert to feed an army, and she’s come back with a whole plateful of tidbits.  (This doesn’t look like watching a waistline to me!)

party1

Cherry pie, a pielette, some sort of cheesecake brownie thing, a holly cake, and a bear who looks as if he knows exactly what his fate is going to be.

Well, put my hair in pin-curls and call me Frigga!  The human female hasn’t eaten all her dessert.  She’s taken most of the plate back to her desk to nibble on while she “works.”

Sigyn, while her attention is elsewhere, let us, um, make sure they are safe to eat.

party2

You sample the holly cake while I see what’s under this fluffy stuff.  (poke, poke, poke) Can’t be too careful with fluffy stuff.

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This Makes a Nice Change

Most days, the human female dines, as she puts it, al desko, meaning she shovels whatever she has brought into her face while surfing the web or reading a book.  Bo-ring.  She knows she should get out and get out some exercise and fresh air, but old habits are hard to break.

Today she is meeting up with a friend for lunch.  She has crawled out of her office hidey-hole and stepped, blinking, into the sun like some light-starved troglodyte.  She has made her way across the street and into the next building over, where they are dining at the friend’s desk.  (Baby steps.  Baby steps.)

Let’s see what’s on the menu.  The friend has brought some leftover soup.

lunchdate1

Looks good, doesn’t it, Sigyn?  What did the human female bring?  Oh, apples.  How original and unexpected.

lunchdate4

The human female has shifted into Nerd Mode and is lecturing about the one called Orleans Reinette, “an old French apple, one with a nice balance of sweet and tart, and the parent of several other cultivars.”  Blah, blah, blah, blah.  Dork.

Here is the inside:

lunchdate5

What is it she wants me to notice?  It looks like an apple…  To anyone but the very weird, one pome is much like another.  But now that I look at it closely, I do see that its green skin has quite a bit of russeting around the stem cavity.  Where did we see that before, Sigyn?  Oh, yes, the little apple she called Roxbury Russet.   Come to think of it, this bears a remarkable resemblance to a Roxbury Russet.  If I didn’t know better, I’d say that some mischievous someone had been switching the little labels on her apples…

Surely that’s not all she’s having for lunch?  I mean, she could do with a bit less avoir du pois, but one cannot live on little green apples.  Ah.  There it is.  It’s sandwich time!

lunchdate2

Hmm.  Whole wheat–good beginning.  What’s inside?  Oh.  Cheese.  Always cheese.  And she always, always, eats it in the same manner.

lunchdate3

Crusts first, in a circle. Round and round, finishing with one small, circular, doll-sized sandwich at the very end.  I’m given to understand that her mother eats them in the same fashion, which raises the age-old question–Nature or Nurture?  Does the human female eat her sandwiches in this odd geometric fashion because she grew up watching her mother do it, or is there something lurking in her genes which compels her to nibble circumferentially?  Is there, somewhere amongst the roots of the family tree, an ancestress who consumed the Ur-sandwich this way as homage to some superstitiously-revered sun deity?  Or is it a mere affectation, something she does on purpose, just to drive me mad?

Arrrgh!  This is going to bother me all day. Stupid humans and their stupid lunches…

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Who Was Frederick and Why Did They Name a Burg For Him?

The humans, not being fans of the eleven- to thirteen-hour car ride between here and the human female’s mother’s town, decided to split the return journey in two, stopping over in a small-but-relentlessly-historic-and-peppy town.  It was named for Frederick Someone-or-Other.  I do not know what he did to deserve it, but it doesn’t matter, because he (not being a god, like me) is long dead.  When I come to rule all of Midgard, I will rename it for Sigyn, anyway.

The town has already decorated for Yule.  It was cold and a bit misty, but Sigyn and I went down to the park on Main Street to look at the lights.

fburg-lights1

I must admit it was very pretty.  Sigyn says Yule lights are very romantic.  I am not so sure.

fburg-lights3

I rather felt as if I were about to have to answer a spate of harsh, rapid0-fire questions.  I suspect that the old-fashioned lights had a kinder, gentler glow than the new ones.

fburg-lights-4

The green ones, sad to say, do nothing for one’s complexion.

The next day, the humans did what the female calls “poking in shops,” which is what I call “buying presents for everyone but Loki.”  Books for small people, colorful socks for a grownup, and some unusual edibles for various personages that weren’t me.

fburg-edibles

This shop had taster jars of various nummables out.  Sigyn was brave enough to try the hot pepper jelly, but she liked the cinnamon honey butter better.  More gifts for other people were purchased.

All in all, an unfair distribution of presents, and I will punish the human female accordingly…

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Dull but Delicious

Phew!  Finally back home, with access to a computer.  I’d like to regale you with tales of all the exciting things I did in the human female’s home town with her mother (whom I actually like) and her sister and sister’s family.

However, it was not an exciting trip.  I suspect “exciting” was not the goal.  No, I’m reasonably sure that the purpose of the trip was to eat as much as possible, stay up late, play games, eat some more, and laugh like lunatics.  In which case, mission accomplished.  (I now know where the human female gets her insanity. It is, sadly, genetic.  All of the blood relations seem to be thus afflicted.)

The Eating Holiday table was quite festive.

table

I’d share a photo of the feast that was laid upon the board, but it didn’t last long enough to get the camera out.  Volstagg has some serious competition when turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, stuffing, gravy, and all the trimmings are involved.  I reached for the peas and nearly had my arm bitten off!  Sigyn was quite frightened and actually hid behind the sweet potatoes, which ended up undisturbed near the human male, who does not care for them.

There was piiiiiiiiie.  I approve of pie.

The following day was celebrated as some sort of Shopping Holiday.

blackfriday

I was looking forward to going out amongst the crowds for some sanctioned pushing and shoving and grabby-handedness, but the humans declined to participate in the combat and stayed home and played bored games all afternoon.  Yes, I spelled that right.  I find most human pastimes insufficiently challenging.

At least the food continued to be worth the visit.  The human female’s mother is a good cook.  I wasn’t too certain about one of her large, round breakfasts…

breakfast

…but it turned out to be a tasty cake make of leftover mashed potatoes.  I made sure to have Sigyn ask for the recipe.  Now, if I can just induce the lazy human female to make them!

I did not have the opportunity to do too much mischief (leaky cranberry sauce container in the cold box was my best effort),  nor did I wish to discommode the human female’s mother unduly.  Oh, I chased the cats around the house at night and made them holler (but not much more than usual), and I made sure some items never made it into the car for the return trip, but all in all, it was an uneventful time.  I am well-fed, well-rested, and ready to bedevil the human female all the more in the days to come.

Tomorrow I shall relate our adventures on the return trip home.

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Are We There Yet?

Ugh.  I let myself be persuaded to go along on the humans’ trip out to the far western portion of this state/province/fiefdom of Midgard where the human female’s mother lives.  What they neglected to mention is that this is just about the biggest damned state/province/fiefdom in this particular realm.  We are going to be in the car  ALL DAY.  It is too late to back out now, and Sigyn has her heart set on going, but I want to go on record as saying I am not looking forward to being cooped up in a metal box with the human female’s choice of music for so long

I have invited a few friends and acquaintances to accompany us.  If I’m going to suffer, everyone else is going to suffer too.  We are all packed, I have dosed Benno and Fisi with Dramamine, and I guess there is nothing left to do but drive.

starting-out

Note the time.  Note also that it is a whole hour earlier where we are headed because this state is so indecently huge that it can’t be squashed into a single time zone.  Unbelievable.  When I rule the world I will tidy this mess up.

……

The scenery has been rather same-ish for the first several HUNDRED miles.  Tree, farm, cow, field, truck, truck, giant metal rooster.  (Don’t ask me.  It is, apparently, a thing.)  We have now encountered a few hills, and there are some odd goats that are all white with brown or black heads.  I’m sure there is a story behind that.  (Actually, it looks like the sort of livestock joke I would play.)  The vegetation is a little scrubbier and the road a little more wind-y, but otherwise, yawn.  We have how many more hours of this?

The human female has been driving all this time  (I’m always amazed that the Department of Public Safety lets her loose on the highway) and now it is time for a stop.  I am given to understand that the roadside establishments in this realm have a “charm” all their own.  I shall attempt to alleviate some of my boredom on this trip by examining some of the wares and comestibles for sale.

mason-deer-corn

Sigyn?  Do you know what “deer corn” is?  I have tried plain popcorn, and I know that caramel corn is quite popular.  I guess this is a venison-flavored snack?  That’s not the worst snack idea I’ve ever heard of, but why would anyone want thirty pounds of it?

…..

We are eating a lunch that the human female packed, so as not to “lose too much time” dining at a restaurant.  Mmmm–there is nothing quite like juggling a beverage, a sandwich, small root vegetables, and other crunchy orange things in a moving vehicle.

lunch-in-the-car

Not to mention that these particular crunchy orange things are preternaturally messy and addictive. Sigyn, my love, it pains me to remind you that aren’t allowed to go near them.   We’ve barely got you cleaned up from the last time.  I think there are some pretzels in the bag in the back seat.  Those should be safe.

….

Later.  By Odin’s crummy depth perception!  This isn’t our destination?!  Sadly, no. This hamlet is called “Junction.”  The human female says that is because this is where Nowhere meets Boonies, and I’m inclined to believe her.  Let’s see what’s on offer here.

junction-cookies

¡Muy delicioso!  There are many sorts of small cakes labeled in Spanish.  Some of them look tasty, but rather than choose the first thing I see, I shall keep looking, in case there is something better a little further on.

junction-pickles

This is not it.

Sigyn has found something red that looks to be sweet and a little nutty.

junction-peanut-brittle

Like calls to like, as they say.

Hours later and we are now just half way.  Outside are flat-topped small mountains that the human female says used to stick up out of a huge inland sea.  Now all that is left are rocks, sand, cactus and other prickly plants, and another 360 miles of asphalt. I feel a desperate need to jump out and stretch my legs.  And maybe scream a bit.

maybe-ozona

This is Ozona.  Or maybe it’s not.  One West Texas town is much like the next and I am losing track.  The humans are navigating from memory and Yelp is asleep on the map.  Let us see what gastronomical delights await inside.

ozona-wine

Ooo.   Wine pouches.  Classy.  As much as I could really use a good stiff drink, I think I will pass.  Oh, joy.  We’re all getting back in the car.

….

More miles, fewer trees, more desert-y bushes, and bigger hills, some of which could generously be called small mountains.  The human female has had a nap, done some more driving, and handed off to the male again.  The sun is beginning to sink, though as we are proceeding westward at 80 mph, it it taking its own sweet time to reach the horizon.  No, it is going to shine in straight into our eyes for as long as it possibly can.

Another stop. This little store sells candy with interrogative text on the wrappers.  My love, who are you when you’re hungry?

vanhorn-candy1

And look– they have one for me.

vanhorn-candy2

….

It is fully dark now. There is a pale full moon peeking in the window, but no stars to speak of.  In fact, some clouds are gathering, and I believe we will be rained upon before we reach our destination.  This is the Chihuahuan desert, so of course I expected rain.  It’s the crazy sort of anomaly that makes sense when you have been in a car for about ten hours.  Sigyn, do you realize that we could have flown across the ocean in the time we have spent in the car today?  And after this, our last stop, we still have two hours to go!  Let’s have one last look at strange Midgardian foodstuffs and drinkables.

fort-stockton

Aw, Sweetie, I love you too.  It’s a hellish trip, but I’d go to the end of the galaxy and back if it would make you happy.

…..

Still later.  Lights, open door, hugs, proper food, bed.  We’re home.

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What Happened to all the Little Taters?

What happened to all the little taters?  They were most cruelly boiled until they were tender and ripe for the smashing, that’s what!  Two big pots of them!

Sigyn, my love!  You’re up!  You’ve luckily missed all the sharp parts of the process, and now the human female proposes to turn these bland chunks of spudly boringness into something a little more interesting.

potatoes7

Look at the steam!  Careful, Sigyn, they are still very hot!  The human female says it is time for the other ingredients.

Milk, parsley, minced onion, a bit of garlic, and an obscene amount of butter.

potatoes8

Oh, and she’s got the mixer out!   Those potatoes won’t know what hit them!

potatoes9

Mmmm!  I have to admit, they do look and smell pretty good.  Do you now what we need now, Sigyn?

Gravy!

potatoes6

I expect that the human female is going to spend a good part of today in a turkey coma, and then tomorrow, the humans are planning to travel all the way across this interminable state to visit her relatives and have another turkey coma.  I may take a short hiatus from keeping this journal.   Sigyn and I are going along, and then I plan to do quite a lot of eating myself.

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