walkies

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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A Neenering We Will Go, Part II: What Passes For Fall Color

We are walking back along the Neener Path. Sigyn is exclaiming about the “fall color” we are beginning to see. Now, this part of Midgard doesn’t get the blazing reds, yellows, and oranges that other parts do, but she is very cutely appreciative of what we do get.

There is just a hint of red in the Virginia creeper and the holly berries.

The shining sumac is having even more success.

We will have to remember to come back to look at it again later, since it should just get brighter and brighter as the season wears on. By the time the leaves start falling, it will match my sweetie’s outfit entirely. As it is now, she’s the brightest thing on this path.

In addition to red, there is a good deal of one particularly garish shade of pinkish purple. I speak, of course, of the beautyberry berries.

It clashes with everything!

The insides of the fruit are a rather disappointing yellowish hue. I really wish the color went all the way through, because then you could do useful things with the berries, like dye some fabric that would look hideous on the human female, or else just leave some berries in her chair to dye the seat of her shorts in lurid fuchsia spots. Pants acne!

This same color, watered down, is actually pretty common around here in the fall. The human female would say its because certain classes of anthycyanin pigments are found in a number of plants and… Blah, blah, blah–snore! Shut up and look at the flowers.

The morning glories are the same kind as the ones back at the house.

Even some of the stemmy bits are purplish.

Some of the fall-flowering beans take the color even lighter. This fuzzybean (Sigyn, did YOU name it?) does it,

and so does this tick-trefoil.

Those little beany flowers are only barely pinky-purple. We will have to come back when more of them are in fruit, because–if I remember correctly–the fruits are covered with tiny hooked hairs that cling onto everything. If I can get the human female in a fuzzy sweatshirt and off balance, one good nudge should serve to get her covered head to toe with botanical velcro bits.

Oh–here we are with the bright shade again. This is the human female’s beloved false foxglove.

That she can’t get in focus to save her life. Well, actually, it’s not her plant–that’s the one that grows on the outcrop in the next county over. This is just its more common, more glamorous cousin.

It’s like a little, pinky-purple sorting hat.

And that appears to be the end of the fall color for today. There are plenty of leaves falling, but they’re doing it without changing to anything but brown.

Some of the leave are quite large.

I’m not sure where this huge burr oak leaf blew in from; I haven’t seen one anywhere around here.

And here is the champion of all!

Not the largest sycamore leaf I’ve ever seen, but certainly big enough to make a decent party tent for someone Sigyn’s size. But no, sweetie, I don’t think you should carry it home as a souvenir. It’s a little breezy today, and if you hold that leaf up, it’s going to soar like a kite and take you with it! If you really want it, make the human female carry it.

The neighbors already think she’s weird.

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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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The Aftermath of the Walk, Part I: Entanglements

Ugh! Going for a walk this time of year really is a torture. The sun glare is awful, the heat and humidity are brutal, and the mosquitoes are nearly Sigyn-sized this year.

The human female, as off-putting as she is on walks, while she’s spouting botanical trivia and other things I have to tune out, is even MORE repulsive once she gets back home. Red-faced, sweaty, and apt to just drop clothing wherever. Norns’ nighties! Cover up, woman! There are some things no one wants to see!

She is particularly sweaty today. Her hair is nearly dripping. If she were smart, she’d be very careful about ripping the elastic out of it and not just—

Ehehehehe! Snort! Ehehehehehe! What a moron! She didn’t count on the special tangling spell I put on it, and now that elastic is stuck, stuck, STUCK! Plop that ponytail down on the table and let’s have a look.

Gasp–Ehehehe! I volunteered to cut it out for her, but for some reason she elected to have the human male do it.

It’s like she doesn’t trust me with a pair or scissors…

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Too Hot For a Walk, But Apparently We Are Going Anyway

Newsflash, mortals. It’s summer, and it’s hot outside. Oh, the calendar says it’s still “spring,” but when the Heat Index is 106 F, it’s summer, no matter what equinoxes and solstices and tropics of whatnot say.

Still, Sigyn and the human female are keen to go walking whenever the female can drag her bloated carcass out of bed early enough to get going before the day changes from “balmy” to “humid inferno.” Believe me, as a Frost Giant, I’d prefer to do anything else, but I can never be sure Sigyn will make it home safely without my protection, so I usually tag along. Here, then, is a random assortment of images from walks around the neighborhood.

Sigyn makes new friends wherever she goes. She’s about to make a new one right outside the front door.

Look up, Sweetie! It’s one of those rolly-uppy isopods with the many strange Midgardian names.

And here is a very juicy slug!

Hmmm. Has the human female already had breakfast? ‘Cause I bet it’d go down easy…

Some of the slugs are black and velvety-looking. This one’s out for a stroll slime.

Black-velvet Leatherleaf Slug photo - lejun photos at pbase.com

I made a video! Great Frigga’s hairpins! I just looked that one up and it’s an exotic invasive! You go, funky little foreign slug! Come to our house and eat up all the human female’s flowers!

This red-eared slider turtle is a little shyer.

It says it is perfectly happy sitting in the pond by the Large Ugly Apartments all day and has no interest coming out on the bank to get acquainted.

Ugh! It really is annoyingly hot out here today! Sigyn, why don’t you greet your little floral friends and then we can go home and get out of the heat. Maybe have ice cream for lunch…

The lilac chaste tree in the front yard is looking pretty good.

Especially when you recall that I keep inviting the neighbors to butcher it periodically!

The leaves smell very good and it’s not a bad place for a dangle.

The crape myrtles are in full bloom as well. Whenever there’s wind or a good rain, the flowers fall off and make for what Sigyn says is a “very festive sidewalk.”

Many of the wildflowers are done for the year. This cut-leaved evening primrose is still prettifying the roadsides, though.

Looks like there’s some horseweed in there too.

Keen-eyed Sigyn has found the buttonweed in someone’s lawn. It looks like bluets, but the flowers are a LOT bigger. And furrier.

On the other hand, this purslane has flowers like its cousins, the cultivated, showy moss-roses, but the flowers are a lot smaller.

The human female says you can eat it. No, human female. YOU can eat it. I’m not in the habit of snacking on lawn weeds.

You can eat this one, too. Make yourself a nice salad of the leaves and add in some of the fruit when they show up.

You’ll like them—they look like tiny yellow tomatoes and are only a little bit poisonous.

And your noshing on them will eventually leave more ice cream for the rest of us.

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A May Neener Perambulation

The human female and Sigyn and dragging me out on another Neener Walk. Didn’t we just go?

My innocent question was met with a mixture of scorn (the human female) and gentle reproof (Sigyn.) Apparently, things happen quickly in late spring, with the early spring flowers winding down and the summer flowers just appearing on the stage. It is therefore some sort of moral imperative that we take the trail down by the LUAs (Large, Ugly Apartments) and make note of what we see.

Oh, well, as long as it’s for science. (insert eye-roll.)

The highlighter-yellow false dandelions have been up forever.

And so has the bur clover.

The human female says it has been a good year for dogshade. It’s in all the ditches. Sigyn says it looks like lace.

Thistles are old hat. Be careful, my love. You are up very high and they are very prickly.

Greenbriar is also nothing new. This one is just about to bloom

The farkleberry has nearly finished flowering. If I didn’t know it was related to blueberries, I’d think it was kin to lily-of-the-valley. The flowers look a little alike.

No, human, don’t bother me with the slanty Latin name or start harping on monocots and dicots. I don’t care, and you know it.

The venus’ looking-glass has been out for a good bit. It’s tall enough that the human has to lift Sigyn up to get a good view.

The daisy fleabane started early this year and is gong strong.

We should take some home with us, Sigyn. The human female has some itchy bites she says are from fire ants, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she actually had fleas…

This cut-leaf evening primrose has yellow flowers which turn orange as they fade.

I suppose that’s mildly interesting.

I remember the dayflowers from previous years. They’re such an alarming color.

Ah. The spiderworts are up. The human female really likes them.

The brown-eyed susans showed up last month.

And so did the tickseed.

Have you noticed, Sigyn, that all of those yellowy orange composites are always EXACTLY the same color? With blue flowers, there is usually some variation in shade, but nope, these are all the same. That can’t be natural… I don’t trust them.

So where is the new stuff? Things we haven’t seen already this year?

All right–the prairie gentians are new. I will give you that.

Sigyn is squeeing! She thinks she has found “an itty bitty teeny tiny one.”

The human female says no, it’s a centaury, and that it’s a cousin of the gentians. That’s right, human. Take all the fun out of my sweetie’s delight with your tiresome pedantry. No wonder you never get invited anywhere.

I don’t remember seeing this before. If I did, I forgot it.

Go on, Sigyn. Ask her what it’s called. Ehehehe! Look at her waffle and stutter! She can’t remember what its name is! She says she always confuses Mecardonia and Lindernia and can’t remember which one has yellow flowers and which one has white. Woman, you are losing it, and we all know it.

What about this yellow one?

It’s on a small little shrub with shreddy bark. The human female is calling it “St. Andrew’s Cross.” What a ridiculous name. I swear she makes this stuff up.

Odin’s eyepatch! I’ve needled the human female enough that she is barking back at me! “Fine,” she is saying, “If you don’t want to learn anything about botany, show me what you are interested in. What did you see this morning that you liked?”

Glad you asked! I thought this mushroom was neat.

Might have to put some in the next batch of spaghetti sauce…

And this. This makes me very happy.

Because it means somewhere, there is an annoying, cute–possibly even squeaky–stuffed animal that has had its puffy guts ripped out.

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A Whole Walkful of Tiny, Pretty Things! (Sigyn Speaks)

Oh, my goodness! The weather has been just beautiful lately! The mornings are nice and cool and the afternoons are sunny and the flowers are just loving it! (Some rain hasn’t hurt, either!)

The human female and I are going for a walk around the neighborhood just to see what’s up. It’s too late for bluets : ( but there is sure to be something nice.

Starting with our very own lawn!

The evening primroses are pinker than they look in the photo, and they are everywhere!

So is the lyre-leaf sage. The ones coming up around the corner by the hose are nearly white, but the ones that have popped up in the lawn are purple, purple, purple.

What’s even nicer is that they’re perennial! Where they are this year, they are very likely to be again next year. When they’re done flowering, I will help the human female transplant them into the flower bed so they don’t get mowed.

That’s what’s good about the spring flora. A lot of it is short enough to pass under a mower largely unscathed. I can see the winecups in the grass of the park before we even get there.

You’d think the bright fuchsia would clash with the nearly-orange scarlet pimpernel (hee hee hee! I almost wrote “pumpernickel”!) but it doesn’t. It just makes a sort of earthbound fiesta.

The blue-eyed grass is open from about midday onwards.

The flowers are always a purply-blue, but in its miniature cousin, the flowers can be yellow, pink, lavender, pale blue, or a sort of bright arctic white, usually with a maroonish eye-ring.

They like a sandy soil, and so do herb sherard and the dwarf dandelions.

Whole sections of the lawn here are lavender and yellow orange. I just never get tired of the dwarf dandelions!

Another sand lover is this eny-weeny member of the carnation family.

I think it’s thyme-leaved sandwort, but I will have to pick a flower and take it home to key out, because there are several species that all look very much alike.

Speaking of itty-bitty white things, look at this dogshade!

It looks like lace, doesn’t it? A lot of the carrot family plants have flowers like this. It’s a good year for this plant–I’m seeing it everywhere! And do you know what? The flowers are sweetly scented! There is enough of it that you can smell these plants just walking by!

We’ve gone around the whole block now and I think we’ve seen just about ev—-

Ooooh! What’s that yellow up ahead?!

You could be forgiven for thinking this is one of the bur-clovers or sweet-clovers, but it’s one of the true clovers, specifically low hop clover, an introduction from Europe. The flowers fade and get all paper-baggy as they age. I like it not only because it’s such a cheerful color, but because the leaflets are heart-shaped and fold up to look like green snowflakes! I just want to give it a hug! But I won’t hug the little barley by my left hand, because it has long awns and is on the far end of the poke-you-in-the-eye scale.

Oh, haven’t we had just the BEST walk? Thanks for coming with me, and always remember to keep an eye on the ground, because you never know what precious jewels will be hidden down there!

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A Very Pleasant Blue and Purple Walk

The weather has been, by any measure, absolutely lovely lately. Cool nights, moderate days, sun, and enough showers to keep the flowers watered. And in order to enjoy the flowers, we are out for a walk along the Neener Path.

As I’ve pointed out before, though she likes red and yellow flowers best, such as this Cut-leaved Evening Primrose…

…Sigyn has a keen appreciation for blue and purple as well, so that’s what she wants to look for today.

The Henbit has been up since January.

Sigyn says sometimes you just want to lie in a patch of flowers that look like fuzzy sock puppets.

There is an extraordinary abundance of Lyre-leafed Sage this year. The flowers range from nearly white to medium purple. In spots, it almost looks as if we have bluebell woods.

This specimen has an extra-bendy stem.

Spring is a good time for various entities of a leguminous nature. This is Deer Pea Vetch.

Sigyn thinks the little fruits look “just like tiny snow peas.” She’s not wrong.

Loki Weed–Sorry, Loco Weed looks a lot like vetch to me, but the human female says it doesn’t have any tendrils.

I know this one–Baby Blue Eyes.

The human female is physically incapable of getting one of these in focus.

Sigyn, look! Did you know there were Blue Hats here?

Oh, right. My bad. I forgot. We renamed these …Star-leaved Cobalt Puffs.

Ow! Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Sigyn, my treasure, I love you with all my heart, but your cute little squees are not always easy on the ears. What did you find that has you so excited?

Oh! Violets! The human female says it’s more usual to find these in the woods. I guess there are woods on the other side of the boundary fence and this side of the path gets quite a bit of shade. Where are the leaves, though? The ones with three leaflets belong to Bur Clover.

Ah. It’s very pleasant here, isn’t it? While you and the humans continue to exclaim over the posies, I think I’ll take a little rest before we head home.

The moss is a bit dry, and its capsules are a bit pokey, but it’s still cushy, and it always feels good to get the helmet off. Wake me up when it’s time to go home.

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It’s Nice To Know Her Hard Work Was In Vain For Nothing

Remember how last week I wrote about going on a walk with my beloved along the Neener Path? Well, I lied. I did go for a walk, I did go with Sigyn, we did go along the Neener Path, and we did, in fact, see all of the flowers, but it wasn’t last week. It was a week or so before, before all the cold weather. I just hadn’t had a chance to put it all together. Besides, I think it made a good story, writing about it after Fimbulwinter. Look up “unreliable narrator.” It’s a literary thing. Sue me.

(The human female says the flowers will be back in a week or so. The dandelions and henbit are already blooming again. Sigyn hopes the bluets are not far behind.)

Today, though, we really are going on a little walk. We’re out at the herbarium where the human female is working on the BBBB. Turns out that many, many years ago the local Boy Sprout troop made a nature trail in the woodsy bit of land south of the building. The human female was their consultant with regard to what labels to put on all the plants. She helped write up the trail guide and everything. Since then, however, the trail has fallen into disuse. The road that leads to it is closed off, and you can really only see the entrance from in front of the herbarium.

Inviting, no? Let’s go see how it all looks, Sigyn. We can start with the sign.

Time and the elements have not been kind to the mounted specimens of plants.

And winter has not been kind to the flora.

Idunn’s little apples! Things are looking quite crunchy! I know that we are looking at last year’s grasses and fallen leaves, and that the deciduous trees are bare this time of year anyway, but still! That is quite a lot of…beige.

Oh! Wait! Sigyn sees a bit of color on that little tree over there! Maybe something is blooming!

Oh. Just a bit of lichen on a winter-bare hawthorn. Sigyn finds lichens fascinating.

You would think that the yuccas got nipped by the ice, but no.

They’re still green!

The junipers are too.

Kind of prickly and sticky-resiny, but green nonetheless.

Except for this one.

I didn’t think you COULD kill these things, except perhaps with a bulldozer! It looks like it has been defunct for quite some time. It may not have been the cold that did it in…

Ah. Here we have one of the lovely plant marker signs.

That’s held up well.

We’re not seeing very many signs of incipient wildflowers, although these may turn out to be something later.

Don’t ask me what. I can barely remember plants’ names when they’re in full flower. This tiny stuff is just so much ground clutter.

This one here might be one of those furry gray composites the human female was beating her head against.

No way to tell whether this will be one of the ones with the pappus bristles united or one that has bristles that fall singly. And do you know what? I don’t care.

Uh, oh. It looks like the trail ends here.

The human female says that it used to wind around for quite a bit longer. There was a bridge, and it crossed a road, and there were a good number of interesting trees. Hmm. Maybe it’s just overgrown?

Of course, the fact that an apartment complex has been built over there probably doesn’t help either.

So it looks like the trail and the human female’s contribution to edifying the populace is no longer. Ehehehehe! I don’t think she even has the text of the trail guide saved anywhere. And this obsolescence predates ME! I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Sorry, Sigyn. It looks like we won’t be seeing any flowers today. Let’s just rest here on this nice moss pat and then go back.

Hmm. The moss looks (and feels) a little underwhelming. But I guess it is still only late winter and not spring yet.

Hey, human female! Can you find your way back to the herbarium, or are you lost? It would be just like you to lose your way in a such a small area. Who knows? You could wander around out here for days, shivering at night and starving. You might have to figure out how to eat yucca and dead oak leaves! And fend off wild dingoes and weasels!

Or maybe the fact that you can still see the building and your car will give you a little clue.

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Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

The improved weather is giving us a chance to explore the neighborhood a bit more. There’s a new subdivision south of us that we haven’t visited yet. It’s a nice evening, Sigyn. Let’s go for a walk.

Uh, oh. I don’t have a good feeling about this..

I’ve heard of “going for the rustic look,” but this seems a bit much.

And the new neighbors don’t look too friendly.

Odin’s eyepatch! Definitely NOT friendly!

STOP LICKING MY SWEETIE YOU HIDEOUS CREEP!

Augh! The ugly dog is armed!

Great Frigga’s corset! What a misunderstanding! Apparently, they’re not from around here, and are unused to Midgardian customs. Where they come from, a good bum-licking is how they say “hello.” The exchange of saliva is regarded as a sign of trust and friendship. I don’t see the appeal, but I’m glad not to have to slaughter all of them–my mischief schedule for today is already packed.

Ah, and I guess here comes the Missus.

Greetings, Madam. What a lovely… home you have. I like what you’ve done with the…foundation.

Sigyn is making friends with Auntie Sk’rrbx.

While I have the “pleasure” of introducing myself to Uncle Raaarbaghk.

We should get together and talk weapons over a tankard of ale someday soon.

It’s a growing family. The triplets seem… nice.

Well, it has been “lovely” meeting all of you.

Sigyn, darling, we need to be going. You can come back tomorrow to swap recipes and whatnot.

Well, that was interesting. I can do without the licking, but I think Uncle and I could become very good friends…

Time to get home, though. I’m teaching Taffy Cat how to mangle the blinds.

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