this is why we can’t have nice things

Running Errands Today? I Think Not!

The human female has Things to do today. She needs to go put gas in the car and pick up something for dinner. She also has books due back at the library. She’s even planning to park at the grocery store and walk to and from the library for exercise. She has it aaaaallll planned out. She’s a woman with a mission!

However, I have my own agenda.

Ehehehe! Reader, you are correct–that tire was new just month before last! It still has those little rubbery whiskers on it!

Her whole day has come to a screeching halt. Why?

Because I live to screw things up.

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Ooh…Eew!–Once Upon a Time…

There was a little shoe. A little, partly-blue shoe.

Once, it had been one of two partly-blue shoes. A duo of partly-blue shoes that belonged to you-know-who.

And what did I do?

I ordered some poo!

Specifically, I went next door and enlisted the help of the neighbor’s stoopid, ill-mannered, pooch. That four-footed menace was only too happy to leave a little “present” in the tallish grass right along the edge of the humans’ driveway. The human female, coming home in her old silver car, stepped right in it and tracked it into the house.

The human male was telling her about how he spent the day cleaning up a stinky feline mess. ( What sort of mess? Let’s just say the Federation is not the only entity troubled by Klingons…) She was making faces and sniffing and saying that– Pew!– she thought he had missed something. After a moment or two of playing “Hunt the Stench”, she caught a clue that it was her own footwear that was so truly offensive. Eew! She put the shoe outside so that the poo could be a bit less “fresh” when she tried to clean it off.

The next day, she attempted to clean it off, using a bamboo skewer like a hoof-pick. Of course, she put it off until she was running late, so she didn’t have time to do a proper job. She was forced to leave it until she could get back to it with soapy water and an old toothbrush.

That was several days ago, and the shoe is still sitting outside the front door.

Everyone who has visited the house has remarked upon the single shoe sitting all alone. “You‘ve been robbed.” “Did you know there’s a shoe on your porch?”

(poke, poke, poke)

Noop. I’m not volunteering to de-goop this shoe.

Meanwhile, she has grabbed her older pair of shoes, the ones that have been reduced and demoted to gardening, and she’s been wearing those. It was when she put them on that she noticed that the gardening pair was actually in better shape than the half-pooed pair! Perhaps it was time for a new pair?

Of course, when she went to order replacement shoes online, they were out of her size, so she’ll have to make do with something different. Will the new ones fit when they come?

What do you think?

Stay tuned…

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Wrapping Up a Mischief

From time to time, I like to hand out advice for aspiring mischief-makers. I impart such pearls of wisdom as “plan ahead”, “take your time”, “pick the right moment”, “hit them where it hurts”, “enlist the help of minions and felines”, etc. Of course, no one can hope to approach my level of naughtiness, but the more chaos in the world, the better.

Today’s lesson is: Know When to Call it A Day. This week I have wrapped up a very long-running project. Readers who are paying attention will recall that, while on a short trip back in September to visit the human female’s mother, I worked my magic on the human male’s prized camera, causing it to malfunction. It was throwing a weird error message, but if he tried to take a photo, it would actually do it, and then he could keep taking photos as normal.

He did some research and learned that this was a Known Fault and that there was a recall. If he was willing to be parted from it for a short time, the manufacturer would fix it and send it back.

There ensued a Wrapping Project, which involved hunting for packing tape, not finding packing tape, buying packing tape, hunting a Suitable Box, hunting a second Suitable Box because the human female insists on two boxes with cushioning between, as well as multiple iterations of the return address, both inside and out. The male printed a little label for the camera itself, giving his name and information. He printed out the postage paid shipping label. That took several tries because I never tire of the pdf vs printer scaling struggle.

The finished parcel went to the manufacturer via Unrepentant Package Squashers. It managed to make its way there, with the human male tracking its progress like a starving cat watching a mouse hole. The required service was performed, and he tracked its progress all the way home.

It arrived with a whole sheaf of paperwork.

Eagerly he put the battery back in, loaded up a memory card, and pointed the lens at the nearest stationary object.


Ehehehehe! Usually, that rapid-fire shutter noise indicates a sports photographer capturing some exciting feat of athletic prowess. Unfortunately, in this case it signified only that a great deal of diddly squat was happening. No shutter opening, no mirror moving, and definitely no photos happening.

The service papers were examined a second time.

No hint of trouble here. He cleaned some contacts, removed and reinserted several bits, and tried again.


To say that the human male was Not Pleased is an understatement. I, however, was plenty tickled.

A call to the manufacturer elicited the predictable response: “Well, it was working when it left here. Guess Unrepentant Package Squashers shook it a little too hard in transit. We’ll send you another shipping label. Send it back and we’ll look at it again.”

The resulting growl would have done Fenrir proud.

The human male watched his email for the promised shipping label. And watched. And watched. When he could stand it no longer, he called and inquired as to just how long it took to make a label and attach it to an email. The Helpful Person on the other end (trained by me, of course) said it was definitely in the priority stack and someone would get to it Very Soon.

The next week, he called again and had essentially the same conversation. It was like one of those fairy tales, the ones where the quest has to be attempted three times or the princess has to go to the ball three nights running to snare the prince. You know the ones.

A few days later, the promised label arrived. The humans did the whole packaging routine all over again (sans buying tape, because they did remember they had some). The label was printed and reprinted until it was larger than a postage stamp. And then I reminded the human male that even though he had taken the main camera battery out, there was still a smaller, non-removable battery that powers some other portion of the contraption, and it requires a Special Warning Label before it can be shipped–something that should have been on the first package.

And this Special Warning Label? It’s in color, of course, and the humans don’t have a functional color printer. The male was obliged to go to a copy center and print one.

Interesting fact: Felines are easily spooked by tooth-gnashing noises.

The package was reassembled and thoroughly inspected.

At last, it was deemed ready to mail.

So back it went–to the Main Service Center this time, with the human male tracking its progress and waiting for the all-important notification that it had arrived back at the manufacturer.

Not too long after, he received a notice from Unrepentant Package Squashers that it was on its way back. Before the service center even acknowledged having it. (I liked that little touch!)

The camera arrived. It was carefully unpacked. The main battery went in. A memory card was inserted. The camera was aimed and the shutter pressed.

Click! Success!

Why did I not cause the camera to malfunction a third time? Because I know when to quit. I had achieved my goal–multiple weeks without the camera, two trips to the UPS place, two trips to shops (for tape and label print out), multiple phone calls, several weeks of waiting, aggravation from camera service personnel AND parcel service personnel, and some dental damage, which will likely be permanent.

That was. . . Enough. A true Mischief Artiste knows when to bow and accept accolades for his achievements. So the Great Camera Caper of 2021 is one for the books.

Until, of course, I hide the lens cap.

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I’m a Big Fan of Breakage

I had such fun breaking things yesterday that I just can’t stop. What can I get my hands on today? Which of the human female’s oft-used belongings shall I mangle next?

Ohhh. That’s a good one! It’s summer, and sometimes she comes all over warm and has to fan herself furiously while she blushes and sweats. She usually has this or another fan handy, and when they snap mid-waft–or else come out of the purse or backpack broken– it’s always good for a chuckle. As you can see, it’s usually one of the outside blades that breaks.

Yep, broken again, down near the pin that holds it all together. Perdóname, señoras elegantes. Estoy a punto de acercarme mucho y sacar el pegamento. Prometo no mirar debajo de tus faldas.

Yup, snapped clear through.

Are we ready?

We’ll just let that cure for a bit.

And then we’ll see if it holds any better than the previous three breaks she’s mended.

She does have another fan, a pleated paper one. It has a metal handle in two parts so that it can fold up into a case–no plastic to break. Looks sort of like this:

She got it years ago as a thank-you from the two Asian students who came to pick up a sofa she and the human male were giving away. She forgot she had it until she found it when she was dealing with the wreckage in the craft room the other day. It moves a lot of air and fits neatly in her purse and she really likes it.

So I hid it.

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The humans buy a lot of things on line. Not that they buy a lot of things, but they do a lot of their purchasing online. The reasons for this are threefold:

  1. It is too blasted hot to want to get in the car to go anywhere. In the female’s old car, this is particularly true, since it sits outside and it takes the AC at least ten minutes to make the car remotely bearable.
  2. It is easier to shop online than wander around town looking for the bizarre items they do buy.
  3. Local stores seem completely unable or unwilling to stock clothes and shoes that fit the female’s peculiarly-shaped body.

If you think this makes their life easier, you would be correct. But I can’t have that now, can I? From time to time I like to tinker with their online shopping experiences. Low-level mischief includes PayPeople timing out or the captcha on a particular site not working–or working too well, forcing them to identify seventeen levels of buses, street signs, and scribbly alphanumeric gibberish.

Middle-tier mischief involves items which are temporarily out of stock.

Sometimes, though, I like to escalate to Full Mischief Mode and really have some fun.

Case in point: The human female has not bought new jeans in approximately three years. For over a decade, she could walk into one of the local clothing emporiums, select her brand, style, and size, and walk out. I couldn’t let that continue, now, could I? First, I saw to it that the usual Purveyor of Denim stopped carrying her brand. Then I fixed it so that no store in town has them. Then I worked with the manufacturer to change the fit and fabric so that ordering them online was a gamble.

Recently, she’s become desperate enough to try to order them online anyway, direct from the manufacturer. (Ordering pants online and expecting good results is one of the first signs of impending dementia. Fact.) She was so pleased with herself! They were even on sale.

That limbic happiness lasted for three days, until this showed up in her mailbox.

No “Sorry,” no coupon, no explanation. Since that was the entirely of her order, she was left high, dry, and poorly-clothed. She tried to make sure the order had been refunded, since it was obviously a lost cause, but the PayPeople website was less than helpful. (I’ve been working with their IT team, and I’m really proud of my efforts there!) She was able to chat with a cheerful customer service bot, who asked her a lot of questions and then told her she’d need to try back in the morning when the meat sacks were actually present. The fine print on the PayPeople site suggested helpfully that pending charges that aren’t resolved after 30 days automatically roll back to the purchaser. Will that work? We shall see…

You remember my recent shefanigans with the ceiling fan ? The human female spent a good quantity of time online trying to find some good, sturdy chain with strong connectors so that they could repair the fan once and for all. She finally found some guaranteed to be the same chain used for military dog tags! She ordered it gladly and waited for it to come.

And waited.

And waited.

Crickets chirping in her mailbox. Eventually she thought to check the tracking on the purchase and found my little bit of fun:

Ahhh. Who doesn’t love a good Unspecified Problem?

Daunted but not defeated, the humans made their way to the local hardware store and carefully selected some chain which, while not necessarily up to military standards, looked as if it would do the job. They stood on the bed, disassembled the fan, connected everything all up again, reassembled it, and tried the fruits of their efforts.

Broke on the first pull. The human female is *just* tall enough to pull that short chain and completely fed up with this project, so this is how things will be going forward, I believe. I might tie something ugly on as a fan pull later… Maybe something the cats will think is a toy. . .

The human female has turned to her hobbies for solace. With her stitching light dead and the contents of the craft room piled all higgledy-piggledy in the guest room, it’s only stamps she can work on. There’s an order she made with a company in Spain, of all places, and it should be arriving any time now.

Most of it, anyway.

Muchas gracias España. Al menos dijiste: “Lo siento”.

>|: [

The Week From Hel, Day 4: No, It Doesn’t End

Still no word from the roofer or the adjuster on the roofing claim, and still no paperwork from the AC technicians. Can you say, “holding pattern”?

The humans have some errands to run today. Going anywhere is like gearing up for an expedition to the Gobi Desert. Water? Check. Phone, just in case one of the adjusters or contractors calls? Check. Pocketful of fountain pens? Check. Sunscreen? Might not need it; they’re indoor errands. Mask? Check. Glasses?

Uh, oh.

That’s not a missing screw, it’s a broken arm! If you think this looks familiar, you are absolutely correct. When I find a good bit of mischief, I’m not too proud to reuse it. The human male’s glasses broke in exactly the same way in December of last year. They were replaced. They broke in exactly the same way again in April of this year, when it was just outside the 100 day guarantee, so he had to buy a new set of frames then. He and the human female are quite frustrated. I can practically see the steam coming out of their ears! No little clerk had better try to make them pay again!

Eehehehe! I have trained the clerks at the optometrist’s shop well. She agreed to replace the frames for free and said she had them in stock. Then she said no, she didn’t. They were the wrong size. Raise hopes; dash hopes–always a recipe for fun. She’ll have to order them in, which will mean another trip to the mall at some future date. When the humans suggested that having the same critical failure each time probably indicates a faulty product that Corporate might want to do something about, the clerk rather condescendingly pointed out that they were the least expensive frames in the shop and they “couldn’t be expected to last like the pricier pairs.” Apparently a lifespan of two months is deemed adequate for the money-conscious.

Back to the house, after purchasing the lone replacement bulb in the city.

The human female has been in contact with the fine folks at Obsolete Technology Troubles, and they have given her instructions about ripping a part out of the lamp itself so that a new bulb will fit. Yes, let’s involve tools! This sounds to me like a prime opportunity for mischief, so let’s take a look.

Well, I’m no task lamp technician, but even *I* can see that that metal bar is going to make getting a new bulb in more than a bit tricky. What does the part where the bulb actually has to go look like?

Great Frigga’s hairpins! That is one very fancy, proprietary socket! And you can see how the bulb toasted its label over its lifetime.

Let’s try the new bulb.

How lucky do you feel?

It fits! Does the lamp light?

It does! But–ehehehee! It has a dizzying, stroke-inducing, high-frequency flicker that would drive the human female crazy in about fifteen seconds. Tsk, tsk. Looks like you may need to do the modification the OTT representative suggested.

The human female is requesting clarification with regard to just what part needs to come out.

Yes, yes, just grasp with a pair of needle-nose pliers and yank.

The human female has pulled. And pulled. And pulled. The little metal piece is very slippery and it’s hard to get a grip. The human male is trying now. Ouch! This is now officially a properly-mischiefied project. In this duel, first blood goes to the lamp! While the human male avails himself of antiseptic and bandages, the human female is going to get a bigger pair of pliers. Grr—1, 2, 3–yank!

It just looks like a troublemaker, doesn’t it?

No, not me–the piece of metal, stupid.

So, does the bulb work properly now? It does not! Which raises multiple questions–Do you have a bad bulb? Will a new bulb ever work in the old lamp? Or have you just ruined your lamp forever by ripping out that little metal piece???

Well, you have other things to think about. You need to prepare for the restoration folks with their water-remediation equipment. Time to move the treadmill so they can get to the craft room through its own door and not by traipsing through the bedroom

Now we know where Taffy Cat’s pom poms all ended up. Also all the dust and cat fur on the planet.

Maybe this other pom pom is better?

And where does the treadmill need to go? The garage is the logical place, but it really doesn’t fit through the door to the garage without mashing fingers.

I know! Since you won’t be using your stitching corner any time soon, you should just park it in front of the sofa!

There! Hardly noticeable at all.

(later) The we-make-it-like-it-never-happened folks have come and gone. The wet sheetrock has been removed from the ceiling.

Looks like a bit more of the tape and plaster came down. The folks who put up the new ceiling are probably going to have to cut some more sheetrock out. You know, so some more insulation can fall down.

There is a fan in the attic, drying out the insulation. There is a fan in the craft room.

There is a big, portable dehumidifier in there, too.

I’m sure they want you to say it like “Dries Air,” but you can’t tell me you’re not reading it as “Drizz Air.” And what happened to the other 1,199?

It has a long, long drain hose that snakes its way to the human male’s bathroom sink.

The gurgley noises are freaking out the cats…

You will also have fun trying to keep the cats out of the craft room, since the door has to be open every now and then.

Well, That’s a good day’s mischief. Not every day can be like Tuesday, so I’m reasonably satisfied. After all, I just made a mosquito bite the human female on her elbow. Indoors.

Icing on the cake!

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The Capiz is Kaput, Capisce?

The human male’s mother, as the wife (as I understand it) of a military man, has lived all over Midgard, including some realms somewhere in “The East.” Over the years, she acquired many items of an artistic or knick-knacky nature, some of which have found their way into this household.

One such is a set of Yule ornaments fashioned from very thin shell, decorated with an assortment of beads and sequins.

Sigyn admires them greatly, and I will allow that they have a certain snowy charm, even if the silver-lined beads have tarnished about the ends. The human female has never used them on the large Yule Tree, but she has dangled them from the ficus in the dining room. Since they are practically weightless and quite pretty, they resided there day in and day out for years, slowly twirling in any stray air current and, thankfully, largely ignored by the felines.

As I said, there is a whole set of them, and they are all different.

This was all well and good until the human female decided that 2020 had been such a year that she did not feel up to decorating a large Yule tree (a process which, in this house, takes days and costs lives.) Instead, she festooned twinkly lights around the dining room window and in the aforementioned ficus. The capiz shell ornaments remained, and were joined by some other light-weight trinkets and baubles. It was simultaneously festive and sad, and the tree drooped miserably.

As soon as practical after Yule, the poor beleaguered ficus was un-decorated. The lights and most of the ornaments were banished to their respective boxes in the attic, and the capiz shell ornaments remained on the dining room table until such time as the ficus had recovered somewhat.

Well, as is often the case in this house, things were swept off the dining room table to make room for some other project or game play or baking experiment. The ornaments disappeared and, though the human female has wondered from time to time where they’d got to (*I* could have told her, since I helped clear the table and put them away “safely”), she didn’t do anything about locating them until today, when she needed something out of one of the bookcases in the room and the stack of ornaments slid out of hiding and crashed to the floor.

I am sad to report that vintage glue is no match for such a concussive impact. F=ma, and all that.

There were small losses to the ornamentation before, but quite a lot of sparkly bits are now scattered all over the floor, leaving the translucent disks absolutely bare in spots.

Norns’ nighties, what a mess! There is nothing for it but to sweep up the detritus and think about making repairs.

Unfortunately, though the human female can probably source silver-lined bugle beads fairly easily, some of the more unusual, antique sequins are just not available any longer. The plain ones, yes, and probably the snowflakes as well, but those flower shaped ones or the ones with the crimped edges or the pointy leaves? Not even Sequins Upon Sequins Ad-infinitum (Sequins USA) can help.

What do you think? Too much?

>*|: [

Hoy Todos Celebran Como Si Sean Mexicanos! (Personalmente, Creo Que es Solo Una Excusa Para Beber Cerveza)

The humans have checked the date on the calendar and tailored tonight’s menu accordingly. Taco Tuesday falls on Wednesay this week, I guess. They are now exploring the market to ascertain whether suitable decorations might be available for purchase.

Ouch! My eardrums! Such squeeing! Sigyn has discovered that they do, in fact, have a selection of small piñatas. Sigyn loves games involving candy, and I like hitting things with sticks, so this is a notion we can both get behind.

Yes, yes. The saguaro is very cute, my love. However, even I, with my rudimentary knowledge of things cactaceous, know that it is native only to the Sonoran desert and thus not entirely appropriate for this part of Midgard.

What is this next one supposed to be?

I see gilded hooves, so maybe it’s supposed to be a burro? It’s so ugly that bashing it to death with a club is probably a mercy.

Ah, yes. Let’s celebrate Mexican victory over the French with a crispy-shelled taco, a dish developed on this side of the border.

And how challenging a piñata can a crispy taco be, anyway? In my experience, those things self-destruct the minute you touch them…

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Multicolored Mischief

The pounds and pounds of seed beads the human female has are all very well and good, and Sigyn finds it fun to just run her fingers through him and roll around in them, but they really are just useless bits of glass if nothing is done with them. To that end, the human female is going to string some up today.

Those weird, barely-there flesh color (Odin’s eyepatch! WordPress’ color-picker isn’t working!) ones are the ones she wants to start with.

Through trial and error, she has determined that a string of 39.5 inches (100.33 cm for my minions in civilized realms) will go twice around her fat head.

Overexposed, much?

Hmm. These beads are bigger than her usual size 11/0 (I have no idea what that means—I just saw it on the package). Will there be enough of them to measure out 39.5″? There’s only one way to tell. She will just have to start stringing—after six or seven attempts to thread the itty-bitty beading needle. (I broke all but the ones with the microscopic eyes.)

Wanh wanh! There are NOT enough beads to make her preferred length. She’ll have to settle for a once-around, with some left over.

There should be enough for a full double length of these.

But after staring at that rosaline for a bit, she’s in the mood to work with something other than pink. Perhaps something multicolored?

Those mixes aren’t too bad. I can see how a string of those might match just about any outfit.

Great Frigga’s corset! This lot, though–augh!

Sigyn thinks they’re “fun” and “cheerful.” I think they might need to have a little meet-up with a vacuum cleaner. I’m leaving. Call me back, Sigyn, if she decides to work with something that won’t burn out my retinas..

Ah. These are much better. This is a real mix. The human female is going to have to be clever to get all the different colors and sizes evenly distributed in her 39.5″.

Ehehehe! I distracted her and she put too many of the long, skinny bugle beads near one end. She had to unstring everything and start over. She’s doing better this time, but I’m not sure she’s going to have enough beads! 26″…30″…33″…36″…37″… 38″…39″… Will it work? Will it work? She is holding up the unfinished strand to see if it will loop twice around her head…


Historians in years to come will argue about what just happened. It may be that a sharp-edged bugle cut the thread as she was unwinding it from around her noggin. It could be that she lost her grip on the needle and the thread pulled itself out. I suppose it is even possible that I gave string the tiniest of yanks. What is certain is that one minute she was holding an unknotted strand of beads that did, in fact, loop ’round her capitulum twice, and the very next minute she was gaping and listening to the boink, tinkle, tinkle of a gazillion little bits of glass hitting the table, her lap, and the laminate flooring. There followed a period of frantic hunting and sweeping, in hopes of recovering them all. I’ve hidden a good few. Will she make it?

Sweep, sweep, string, string, string…

She will not! Too short for a double loop, too long for a single loop. She could make a short single loop, but with a mix like this, the few leftover beads wouldn’t be useful for anything else. She’s opted for one single loop that she can tie a “decorative knot” in. There you go, mortal. You just keep telling yourself it’s “fashionable.” I’ll be over here feeding the missing beads into a pocket-sized black hole from which they will never be recovered.

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Loki, the All-Knowing, Part II

We have not yet reached the limits of my vast knowledge.

I know why the television remote does not work.

I know why your phone will not charge.

Do you want to hear about the dryer? How about the doorbell?

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