A Not-So-Brief Note About Soap

I’m interrupting my discussion of cleaning things because I just have to tell you about soap. Humans make this cleaning thing so very hard on themselves! If one goes to a store and looks at the cleaning supplies there, is … Continue reading

Popping Corn Without Magic

As I have come to realize I may be living without magic for quite some time, I have decided that humans (the Ryan kind anyway) are actually quite interesting, and so I have taken to studying their ways a little. If I can think like a human, perhaps I might be better able to learn how to do things without magic. I mean, they have been living without it since they were born from mud, right? Surely they have figured out a few things.

And in my study of human behavior, I have two nearby subjects to observe.

My neighbors have been quite interesting the last few days, and I am glad because staying inside of the house and trying to figure out how to best perform the actions of life without magic is becoming most tedious. I am very grateful to them for the entertainment they are providing to me. I can hear them very clearly from my bedroom if they a arguing in their living room, as it is about six feet from my living room window, and though a lot of it makes little sense without understanding what they are really talking about – humans talk in circles so much; I wonder how much easier their lives might be if only they were to speak plainly about things, but instead they insist upon talking about subjects that are quite unrelated.

For instance, I am almost positive that the lady neighbor was not actually upset about having to remove a lipstick stain from the man’s shirt collar, and yet she kept talking about how difficult it was for her to forget about, but how hard can it be to get lipstick from clothing? Surely it is not memorable in difficulty? I will have to investigate.

Anyway, I have noticed that when they don’t want to refer to something very directly, they use the word “It” – that is a word they enjoy using. It and another word that Flora has informed me is not to be used in polite company, so I shall pretend they are saying “puck” instead, since Puck the Mischievous is a greatly admired character among our culture, and from what I can tell to “puck up” is to make a mistake or to mess up things very well, both things Puck of the stories was indeed very renowned for. I believe my polite replacement will work well.

I have also been informed that the backyard is an eyesore, yet again, by the lady neighbor. She marched over here after a very loud but unintelligible shouting match… Well, that is not entirely correct. I have discovered a most amazing human delicacy called “popcorn”, which is dried corn kernels you pop into little crunchy balls of delight. They can be coved in just about any flavoring and munched on, and I have learned they are best enjoyed while being entertained, such as when attending a theater movie or listening to a screaming match while leaning out the open window to hear them better on a lovely night.

So there I was, listening and eating pieces of popped corn from a bowl, (I had these sprinkled with melted cow’s butter and dried lavender blossoms), and the lady walked out her front door in the middle of the yelling. She got to her car and had the door opened when she saw me. I waved and smiled; it really was a pretty evening last night, and if I had a driving machine I would take it for a ride with the windows down and let the breeze table my strange yellow hair. Anyway, she saw me and got all frowny and then walked over to the window and stood in front of me with her fists on her hips like she expected me to do something.

I offered her some popped corn kernels, but she got even more frowny and informed me that the front yard being neat now only shows how awful the back yard has become, and that I needed to get that taken care of very quickly (I was polite and did not inform her I almost have that taken care of).

Then, she turned quickly, making her hair fling out behind her in a dismissive fashion. And believe me, I felt very dismissed. I spent the rest of the night practicing the move, thinking it would be most useful the next time my dear sister decides to share her dear ideas about how I am choosing to spend my time and how I am choosing to live in my humble human dwelling and my “even more humble human body”. She gave a meaningful look to my bosom when she said that, and I did not tell her that many men seem to think my human body is not so humble.

I am improving at not saying things that might get me in hot water, which is useful.

Well, I practiced that hair swing almost all night until I was too dizzy to stand. I even tried it on The Cat, but The Cat was much less than impressed and wanted me to brush her instead. Hopefully my powers of hair dismissal are good enough to work on Flora.

The lady neighbor has not returned yet today, and I wonder if the argument was about whether or not he could track her – according to my memory, she is not due for another “business trip” for at least another day. Maybe she is hiding and he will have to guess where she is? She, at least, is not a Council spy, or she would be friendlier to me, I would like to think. The man, though, he seems to enjoy trying to see through my windows at night. I have taken to wearing a robe instead of walking about in nature’s own for now, but I really must see to getting more secure window coverings. Perhaps this weekend.

 

How to make popcorn on the stove:

You will need:

  • A pot for cooking with a lid – I have a rather large pot that Flora used to make soup in, which was quite satisfactory in this endeavor. I I’d try it in a shallower pan at first, but that ended in a rather messy disaster and I prefer to not have to sweep the kitchen so often as I have been needing to. Plus, if you use a larger pot than you think you will need, you can use it as a mixing bowl as well. I will explain.
  • Popping corn – I found some very pretty kernels that are all different colors and they pop up to be slightly different colors, which is simply charming.
  • Fat that can take high temperatures – I choose a kind of cow butter product called ghee, which is basically butter that has had all the things that can burn removed from it. It is a marvelous invention, and can get very by hot without burning.
  • Butter
  • Seasoning for the popped corn – this can be just about anything edible.
  • A large bowl to hold the pop corn.
  • A mixing spoon

Now, of course, in the store you can buy bags of popcorn that simply can be microwaved and will pop up into a little bag of joy, but they are more expensive and limit one to so few choices of flavoring. Plus, the Internet tells me they might contain harmful chemicals, and after going to so much trouble choosing cleaning chemicals that are not toxic, it seems a shame to ruin it by ingesting poisons.

So I shall pop corn on the stove instead for now. Besides, it is some of the best fun I have had yet in my kitchen. If I ever get my magic back, you will still find me with a pot and fire popping corn, because it is better than poking skeskes with sharp sticks for an evening of enjoyment. And that is hard to beat with how their eyes shoot our purple sparks when they get mad.

Anyway, get your things ready to begin with, because this all happens really fast once you get started. You will want to have your pop corn measured – I used 1/3 cup – and the ghee or oil in your pan – 3 tbsp for the 1/3rd cup popping corn, and the bowl convenient to receive the pop corn once it is fully popped. You’ll also want to have butter and salt and any other seasoning you enjoy at hand.

Put your pot on the stove at medium-high heat and drop in 3 tablespoons of ghee. This seems to be a minimum, but I imagine if you would like, since ghee is basically concentrated unsealed butter, you could add more and leave less work of buttering later. If you like salt, this is an excellent time to add it so it can mix with the ghee and then coat the popped pieces evenly. Don’t add anything that can burn though, because the oil is very very hot.

When the oil seems hot, drop in a few kernels of pop corn, and wait for them to pop. They might jump out of the pan, which makes me giggle a lot. Don’t touch the oil or ghee to see if it is hot. This leads to sadness and hurt fingers.

When the sacrificial testing kernels have popped, then the oil is hot enough. Drop in the 1/3 cup of popping corn and cover with the pot’s lid, or else there will be popped pieces of corn shooting all across the kitchen and getting everywhere. So cover the pot, then pick up the pot (you may want to have some of those protective mittens for this), and shake it away from the heat for a count of thirty, then return to the heat and shake it while the corn pops and makes fantastic sounds.

It really is great fun.

It helps to keep the lid loose for crispy corn, but make sure it isn’t so uncovered that the popping corn does not spring out – it is clever and escapes easily.

As soon as the popping slows, uncover the pot and deposit the corn into your waiting bowl so it cannot burn. Burned popcorn smells awful.

Then, put the pot back on the stove and turn off the stove. Melt your butter with the remaining heat and then mix in whatever seasonings you would like to use before dumping the popped corn back in the bowl and stir with a long-handled spoon.

Pour back into the big bowl, find something entertaining to enjoy (like neighbors arguing) while you eat it, and snack away.

I have made three bowls of the stuff today!

 

If anyone has any recommendations for more flavorings, I would love to know what they are.

 

(1,758 words)

 

How to Wash Clothing Without Magic

Humans wear clothing made by sewing woven fabrics of all different fibers and combinations and colors and textures and qualities it makes one’s head spin. In the Realms, one only need to go see a spinner wiggins to get a fantastic little shift made of spider silk or starlight, or any other magically conductive material, and with a mere thought and a few crushed leaves as a sacrifice, we can glamour just about any desired appearance or any kind of look we want. Well, we could. Of course, pixies such as me generally prefer being naked unless we are forced into polite company or are working undercover gathering information about a certain magical council which shall remain almost not mentioned, and I maintain this practice in my home. Or I did, until my nosy neighbor began trying to spy on me through my windows. Now, I wear a little dress or a robe when at home.

Anyway, these human clothes become dirty after a while. They get spattered with food or mud, spilled tea or anything else can happen, and just having a human body creates sweat and other excretions that dirty clothing by it being in contact with skin. (I will get into cleaning a human body later.) And eventually, clothing must be cleaned unless you wish to throw it away, but Flora is very stern about how wasteful this practice is, and so I have been repeatedly trying to learn enough about laundry to even begin to report on the subject. For as many kinds of clothing there is, it seems there are that many ways and tips and things for how to care for them. I am most perplexed.

And I won’t even get into the cleaning of “stains,” which are marks on the clothing that are hard or impossible to get out. (As a note from an earlier post, it turns out lipstick is definitely hard to remove from a shirt, and that explains my neighbor’s extreme reaction to having to clean it from her husband’s clothing.) Stains are such a large problem that there are even books – entire books – on stain removal. That is too much effort for me, so if you have a specific spot you cannot seem to get out, consult the Internet or one of those stain books. My poor little pixie mind is unable to grasp how much work can go into just getting rid of a stain. Why, it seems that a simple “Out damn spot,” spell ought to be able to fix everything (except blood stains, those never really come out no matter what magic is evoked).

Please keep in mind that this is one of the most needed and also most performed tasks in a household, particularly if children live within it, and is deceptively simple.

 

How to wash clothing:

You will need:

  • A clothes washer – This is a big machine that looks like a barrel inside and it’s job is to swish the clothing and laundry soap together and the clothes rub against one another to become clean, then it rinses out the soak and spins the clothing around to draw the water from them so the clothes can go into the dryer.
  • A clothes dryer – Another barrel-looking device. I cannot figure out how it works, but it involves heat and the clothes turning about in the heat to dry and there is a screen you must clean or else it gets… Oh I don’t understand.
  • Laundry soap – Please note that this is different than body soap, hand soap, floor soap, face soap, tooth soap, and it is definitely different than dish soap. I keep reading about some kind of castile (or something) soap that can do all of these things and more, but I have yet to try it.
  • Laundry softener – Also labeled fabric softener. It comes in liquid and sheets, but don’t get their application confused. The liquid softener goes into the washing machine when it is on “rinse”, and it does not go into the dryer like “dryer sheets” do. Ugh, this is all so confusing!
  • Dirty clothing – if it is not dirty, you can wait to read this post.
  • A laundry basket – Holds clean clothing so you can put it away.
  • A mop (optional) – In case you mix up the soaps and the machine overflows with bubbles. Not that this necessarily happened to me.

First, the laundry must be sorted into types. Flora, the queen of perfect clothing, prefers to sort into colors because if you wash a light-colored something with a dark something then the light colored thing will get stained with the dark colored thing. The dark colors are washed in the coldest water, then the lights can be washed in warm water.

But, I have also read to separate by fabric softness. Softer stuff is more easily torn, so it should not be mixed with harsher materials. Like the “blue jeans” I have a pair of. They a quite rugged, and would probably chafe any of my nice silky dresses. Also, I have read that everything but bed coverings and towels can be washed in cold water.

Because I am feeling petty toward Flora, my dear sister, I am going to advise to sort by fabric.

Softer, delicate fabrics should be washed as gently and quickly as possible if you don’t “hand wash” them. (There is a hand wash setting on the washing machine, and this makes me fear hands might come out from the sides of the barrel part and start grabbing at my clothes, so I have not used it.

Then rougher fabrics can take more of a beating.

The more dirty the things are, the longer the wash needs to be and the more soap,you will need. Luckily for me, every soap dispenser seems to have directions as to how much is needed. Do not – I repeat – do not just pour as much as you like into the machine. This results in needing the mop nearby and having to re-wash your clothes with just water. Several times.

Towels and bed stuff needs to be washed at the highest heat, and towels should not have softener added because apparently it keeps them from absorbing water, which really is a towel’s purpose in life, so this would be a sad thing.

So, determine what kind of laundry you are washing. Then choose the appropriate settings to set your dials and buttons and things on the washer. Put the desired kind and amount of soap into the washer before the clothing goes in, and then turn on the machine. When it hits the rinse cycle, if you are choosing the liquid softener stuff, put in as much as the directions tell you to. Then wait for the cycle to finish.

(NOTE: if you don’t know what setting to use, there is usually a little tag inside the clothing that will tell you what works best for that cloth. I suggest following that instead of what I am recommending. I really do not understand clothes washing.)

When they are done, it is time to dry the clothes.

To dry:

Remove the laundry from the washer and transfer into the dryer. Make sure anything that must “lay flat to dry” or might shrink is taken out and dried in the air, not the dryer. Toss in a “dryer sheet” if you are using them. Close the dryer and choose the appropriate settings for the fabric. Make sure the lint collecting screen thing is clean before you press the start button, or you might burn the world down or something, I couldn’t’ tell what happens if it isn’t done, but probably nothing good. If only I could summon one of those dandelion-fluff eating trolls. They would probably love the taste of the fluffy stuff that collects in that thing.

Alternately, there is the option of hanging the clothing in the yard to dry from a line, but I have not tried this tactic as I fear the neighbor man who likes to peek in my windows might try and take some of my underthings or something. He seems to like complimenting what I wear, and I have the feeling he possibly would want to have them for himself the way he stares so. He is becoming quit a nuisance.

When the clothing is dry, transfer into the laundry basket and put in the bedroom. I cannot figure out how to best store these things, clothing, as it seems futile to put too much effort in storing them carefully when they will only be worn and dirtied again, but the piles of clean and dirty clothing in my bed room are also a bit unsightly and I am worried the Ryan boy will think I don’t know what I am doing, which is true but I do not want him to realize it so soon. Also, The Cat enjoys sleeping in the clean clothes too much, and her fur makes the clean things impossible to wear until they are cleaned again.

I do, however, make sure the towels are hung appropriately in the bathroom and the extras are kept in a cupboard in my hallway, and my sheets are put away. These things make sense, as they are used more than just the day before the become useless until washed.

(1,546 words)

How to Feed A Cat Without Magic

Well, the Council of Magical Affairs has been gracious in their wisdom and have given me quite a strange companion. I have awoken this morning to a new house mate. A cat.

I am unsure of their motivations. Did they worry I might get lonely, as it is certainly a long time before I am approved for common human contact away from my hovel? Did they somehow coerce the cat to keep track of me? That bit is hard to believe, as cats are notoriously unbeholden to anyone for any reason ever.

And now I am sharing a dwelling with one.

As many of you are aware, pixies and cats have a tense history, what with their propensity to chase us and hold us down while their young chew on our wings. They are also very sharp, not only in the intelligence sense but in the claws and teeth sense, which makes me tense. Very tense. Every time the little fuzzy thing opens her mouth to yawn, I jump in case I actually need to run.

And of course, she is quite affectionate. She rubs against my legs as I walk in an attempt to trip me, perhaps, while I walk, and when I sit down to write, she likes to lay next to me and does that forward and back motion with her front paws that seems to mean pleasure, since she rumbles when I find the courage to pet her head. (Flora has told me that the paw thing is called kneading, and the rumbling is purring, and yes both of them mean she is happy, she also adds that I am a stupid glitter winged biddy.)

Anyway, I woke up to her. She was looking at me fiercely in the face from the space next to my pillow. When I opened my eyes, she meowed and ran out to the kitchen, where I discovered all the supplies I might need to care for her, including the box filled with special sand for her to use as a toilet, and she already had.

I do not know why, again, she is here, she seems to have some idea, but is not inclined to tell me, of course. Because she is a cat that’s why. I am sure she is able to talk to me still even without my magical abilities. But I suspect she enjoys my confusion. And my fear. She is sharpening her claws on the carpet-coved pole I found in my living room after I made my morning tea, and I simply cannot help but squeak in horror when she pounces on it and then runs away, as if she is practicing killing something. I know my sounds of fear are making her laugh. I just know. And I am sure the Council, if they are somehow watching me, are laughing as well.

The little pink tag that was hanging around her neck on a collar says “Jezebel”. Well, it did, but she seems to have lost it already.

We have only been together this day so far. Much of it has been spent with us staring at one another, her discontented with my ineptitude, and me unsure about which things I am inept. Aside from owning a cat, I suppose.

Because this is a guide for the magic less pixie, I suppose I will take advantage of this new development and write a brief how-to.

 

How to feed a cat:

You will need:

  • A cat
  • Bowls – I have one small cat dish, but I recommend having more than one to begin with. Read on and see why.
  • Assorted favors of tinned cat food
  • A spoon
  • Paper and a pen

Now, were I back home in the Realms with my magic at hand, I would simply conjure some whisky to trade to the Pied Piper and get him to fetch me a few rats, maybe. Or maybe I could sing in a few mice or birds as prey, or even convince the cat that my neighbors were far tastier than I and then run away until the cat was full. Of course, in the Realms I am a pixie, and might already be eaten by the cat, which in a morbid way would mean I had successfully managed to feed her after all.

But no matter.

Start with choosing a random can of food and open it. Wait for the cat to come trotting in expectantly, and she will sit and look up with hope other eyes. Feel an odd sense of wanting to please the cat, then scoop out some food into a bowl one offer it to her by setting it on the floor.

Watch with sinking feelings as she sniffs the food a little, then comes back to her sitting position, paws together, looking up at you with an expectant look that surely you do not want her to eat that.

Of course you don’t. How silly of you.

Open another can. Put it in the next bowl. Offer this to the cat next to the first dish on the floor.

Watch with dismay as she disdainfully sniffs that bowl, then yawns and looks at you again.

Repeat this process until all the flavors are open and offered to the cat. Watch with confusion when she goes back to the first bowl and eats everything you gave her.

She will wash her face by licking her paw, then rubbing it back along her whiskers and ears and such. If she has been pleased with your offering, she will wash her face.

If she is displeased, then she will maybe lick her lips and saunter away, obviously disappointed at how poorly you are at caring for her.

Feel vaguely confused at how much you want to please her. Follow her and proffer the herb catnip as a gesture that you will try better in the future.

I suggest starting a list of what foods she likes. It may pay off in the long run.

 

In other news, I called that Ryan boy and told him how pleased I am with the potato I cooked with his recipe. He asked if I had tried cooking the meat yet, and I said no, I really have no idea how. He thought that a funny and told me he ought to come over some night and give me cooking lessons. And for all the pixie dust I said sometime he ought to. Now, I am panicking and looking around my house at how much needs to be cleaned and sorted out before I could ever dream of having a boy over.

Then, I panic that I am panicking about a human boy in my house. Surely I am not being influenced by this human world so soon? I have an elf back home after all! If I ever get home, that is. No harm in having him over just to help me with my responsibilities in reporting on how to live without magic, yes? Maybe he knows something about how to please cats. I should ask him when I go by his shop for cat food tomorrow.

Oh, and the lady neighbor came by again and told me that the weeds out in my back yard are making her sneeze. I asked her if that is what causes sneezing, because I have been doing a lot of it too. She did not think this was funny, even though I did not mean to be. Then she told me to clean the back yard up “or else”. Or else what, I did not get to ask, because she turned in a way that made her hair flick in back of her and walked back to her house all straight-backed and angry seeming. I wonder if she is always like this, or if she is simply easily perturbed by overgrown yards.

I will have to research how to clear weeds as soon as I can, of course. But I also have a messy house to clean in case Ryan was not joking about coming to assist me.

Humans seem to put a lot of stock in clean houses. And mine has become harder to keep that way what with this cat laying on things and leaving hair behind on all of it.

Oh, we’ll. Just more things to keep me busy not escaping. Good night, everyone. Pleasant dreams.


(1,380 words)

 

How to Bake A Potato Without Magic

I was so excited to find out today that I might be relieved of what the humans call “cabin fever” and venture out alone into the neighborhood in which I live. I wore that little dress I found before, and it felt lively swishing around my thighs as I walked up to a little corner market in the “neighborhood” where I live. Inside, there is a smaller assortment of what I might be able to find in one of the big grocery stores Flora has driven me to.

Anyway, the clerk boy behind the cash register was very helpful in assisting me with buying some small things to bring home for my dinner, and they even had a bouquet of daisies, nice and fresh, for me to munch on with my nighttime cup of foxglove tea (I am much better at making tea now, I might add).

I was most pleased to discover that humans eat nightshades. I thought they might be poisonous, as the foxglove is, to humans, but there in the little vegetable and fruit bin was a bunch of lovely potato roots and even a few tomatoes, though they were already red and not green anymore, so I did not get any. The clerk was eager to tell me that green tomatoes were poisonous unless they were fried, but he did offer to bring me his family recipe next week if I came back. He a lot of this while staring at my breasts in a very flattering way, and I was surprised that I did not mind.

Human men, of course, have an exaggerated interest in mammary tissue as far as I can tell, and a shame it is because human females are forced by this fascination to always wear clothing covering their breasts, lest the men become distracted and crash their cars or what have you. I am so sad for the women that they are restricted so – the feel of wind against your bare chest while flying about in a spring breeze is most wonderful.

(It is a wonder, he is the first person I have come across who was not condescending about my inexperience. Rather, he was excited to share what he knows, and that alone is very refreshing.)

But anyway, the night shades. I told him I would love to try his recipe, and did he have any suggestions for the potatoes. I liked talking to him, he has pretty dark eyes and I kept finding my face getting hot when he would smile at me. Most strange to be attracted to a human. I will have to return to this market often if possible. I am finding it quite difficult to predict the future at all in this human world as things seem to change often. He told me that potatoes need cooking, and that he has many ways he likes to cook them but have a tried them baked?

He has given me his recipe for baked potato, scrawled on a piece of the paper they print a record of what you buy on, along with his phone number at the bottom of the paper, “Just in case I had any questions.” Then he helped me choose a few pieces of meat to try cooking, and I bought them though I don’t have any idea what to do with dead flesh of cow. I will freeze them, though, in case I feel adventurous in the future.

On my way back from the shop, I had to walk past my nosy neighbor’s house. The man was out front, and he stopped me to chat and let me know that I was wearing such a flattering dress (I notice that I do mind when he stares at my breasts, very much, unlike with the boy in the shop). He let me know that his wife was going back out of town on business of some sort. Why does he feel the need to let me know these things? He kept talking about how when she was gone I really ought to come over.

But no, that does not explain the initial invitation. Maybe he really is a spy for the Council, and his sudden insistence upon becoming closer to me is because of my new probationary period. I can only speculate, however. I cannot think of any other reason. And I do wish he would not stare at me so. I also wish I could find a better way to extricate myself from his awkward conversation.

I am running out of polite ways to put him off, really. His wife, though she still has been short, perhaps, with me since the lawn incident – maybe it is because the back part of the property is still overgrown? It is hard to tell, but I really do not understand why he is only interested in me eating with him only when she is away. Maybe she is more angry than I thought?

By the way, the boy’s name is Ryan. The shop boy, I mean, not my queer neighbor.

Yes, my mind keeps wandering back to him. He really is most pleasant to look at and to talk to.

Here is his method for oven cooking or “baking” potatoes, in this case they are “russet”, which means they’re kind of brown and rather large, bigger than my fist. And dirty, so scrub them well before beginning with a brush.

 

Here: Ryan’s method for baked potatoes: (I will leave off the phone number if you don’t mind.)

You will need:

  • An oven – one of those big kiln- like objects in most kitchens, beneath the stove burners. Some Faeries have magic-powered ovens, I know, but these are heated with gas or electricity,
  • Potatoes – I’m using two, but I am sure more would work.
  • A fork – one of those utensils that is used to eat, it looks like a pitchfork.
  • Oil – I am using oiled oil, which is made from pressed olives. The kind I’ve bought is labeled “virgin” which Ryan told me means was the first pressing of the olives, but it still makes me giggle.
  • Salt – I know, the fae don’t react well to salt, but I’ve figured out that it is because it dispels magic and hurts when the magic is taken away. No magic to lose makes salt a rather pleasant condiment.
  • A baking sheet – a large metal tray that you can rest things on and then put inside the oven, and take back out.
  • Oven mitts – padded hand coverings which are used to handle hot things safely.
  • Butter
  • Sour Cream

Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Pre-heating is important, because things don’t start cooking the way you want them to unless the oven is as hot as it needs to be.

While the oven heats up, wash the dirt from the potatoes and dry off, then poke holes in it with the fork to let boiling juices inside out.

Then, rub the potatoes with the oil and sprinkle on the outside with salt. Set the potatoes on the baking sheet and then set this all in the oven when it is 350°.

Wait an hour. Then, check the potatoes by skewering them with a fork. If the fork pokes inside them easily, then they are done. If the potatoes are still hard, then wait another twenty minutes and test again.

When they are done, pull them out with the oven mitts on your hands, and then transfer the potatoes (with something that isn’t your bare hands) onto a plate. Cut open with a knife and then mush the insides with a fork. Spread with lots of butter and salt, and then add a big glop of sour cream.

I usually like my root nightshades raw from the ground, but I must say this was very very delicious. Worth the wait.

Of course, I polished it off with sugar-dusted daisies.

And thought about the boy from the shop. How interesting that I cannot get my mind off of him. Even noticing the neighbor man peeking into my living room window before I shut the curtains (I may need to invest in better window coverings) cannot dampen my spirits,


(1,352 words)




 

Mowing Grass Without Magic

I believe I mentioned the existence of lots of growing things on either side of this house previously as a challenge, and I have continually been avoiding doing anything about it, because I am rather unaccustomed to dealing with garden wildernesses without the help of my magic to seek out wasps and the right roots and flowers or where something that should not be disturbed might be living.

But as usual, I find that my annoyingly nosy neighbors have decided to ask if I intend to. Well, neighbor, but they are both to blame as far as I care. It is starting to become very tiresome, this meddling. I feel as if my sister, the Council, my neighbors, and all other form of being have suddenly decided to take great and overbearing interest in my doings. And I am beginning to wonder if my neighbor might even be a spy for the Council – the man has made several overtures for me to come to his house and dine with him while his wife is out of town. I find this most disturbing – we all know very well that eating and drinking what another offers us in their dwelling is an invitation for enchantment!

What does he think I am? A pixie to be enslaved with honey cups and glasses of chilled white wine? (He gave me this last detail as a means to entice me, though I have never tried a chilled white wine, I imagine it to be like a cold mead, which is most intriguing). But despite all, I declined his offer, even when he gave me a bouquet of flowers.

But the flowers and the asking for me to come eat makes me sure he is in place to spy on me, either for the council or for other reasons, and that the flowers were to encourage me to tell the truth. Shame, too, because they were some of the tastiest flowers I have come across in a very long time. I should have asked him where he procured them; I do miss munching on daisies before bed.

Flowers are a dangerous gift. All one needs do is place a little ambrosia dust in the middle of one, and as soon as you might smell or taste the stuff, there you are in a puff of hazy glittering air and glowing for all the Realms to see and they can take you anywhere and do nearly anything to you and you have to tell the truth if they ask you any questions. (Now, it isn’t that I haven’t been tempted to try this trick to woo a certain elf male, but of course, I continue to refrain.)

The neighbor did not stop at his flowers, I might add. He kept telling me exactly how long his wife would be out of town, and indeed she got back yesterday as he predicted. I wonder if this was some way of telling me is is watching me, or has powers of omniscience? What is the goal when a human reports how long their spouse is away?

The day she got back, the wife even bothered me. I was sitting out in the back yard, contemplating if the magical tracking the Council uses to help me maintains focus on the house alone might allow me a stroll. (I’d just found a lovely little fluttery dress in the things Flora brought me, and wanted to feel the wind on my skin as I strode about.) I was on the front walk, when she came over, walking the way my mother used to fly when I had left something out in the rain to ruin, and told me that my garden was a total disgrace and that I needed to do something about it. And didn’t I need to have pants on.

I’m not sure why she asked that about my outfit; she has worn skirts before, so I believe they are clearly a part of the human wardrobe. Perhaps she was concerned I might catch a chill. It was hard to tell, because she was obviously upset about something, and she asked me a few questions about her husband and what he was up to while she was away. Maybe they are playing spying games against each other, and she is feeling upset that he guessed when she would be back and is trying to get back at him. Maybe she hid some kind of spying device in my grass and the length of it is interfering with it’s working. Human gadgets could be disturbed by grass, maybe. They are easily disturbed by things like “solar flares” and bumps and moisture, so I do not see it as being impossible.

Anyway, she did seem plenty mad, and I do not wish to draw any of her anger my way if I can help it. I have enough trouble.

So, my friends, I have successfully managed to mow my front yard. (The back, I suspect will need the weeds and things pulled out of the ground manually, which will have to happen later.) I did not do an incredibly good job at mowing, I suspect, because this was my first time operating machinery at all, and as I have said before, I am rather insecure about dealing with anything I might find living in the yard without my magic to help guard me. It seems that people like to mow in some kind of very specific way, but I cannot quite grasp what is so special about one method over another.

To Mow:

You will need:

  • A hag stone – if you cannot actually find an authentic, adder stone, then any rock with a hole in it will do.
  • Lawn mower – I found a lawn mower in the little shack that humans call a “shed” in back, and it appears to run on electricity, because I had to plug it in with a long orange power cord. It reminds me of the vacuum contraption I have not yet found the courage to use, I fear it may suck up something important, and then where does it go? Is the vacuum a portal into another place where it disappears? Is there an alleating nomgog living inside of it? Or is it as boring as all the other human things are and must be emptied, so sucked up objects are not lot forever? Oh well, back to mowing.
  • Somewhere to put grass trimmings – in my case, this is an extra garbage bin that is reserved for organic waste. Most convenient.

First, since so many varieties of Folk like to live hidden in grasses and things, and many are very good at concealing themselves when living in human territories, make sure to scan the yard for any signs of them by looking through the hole in your hag stone. Of course, I am not allowed any magical implements, so I had to do this by tramping about and ringing a bell, to make sure they all left the yard before I got started, which seemed to amuse some of the youths on my stet to no end. You might think they weren’t taught anything about how to scare off mystical creatures. Negligence, for sure.


Luckily, my yard seemed free of any of the things that might wish to inhabit such lovely tall grass, and so I was able to get on with mowing.

As I said, this particular mower is electricity driven*, and so I must watch for the cord at all times, so I decided the best was was to hold the cord behind me and attack the grass in a forward and back kind of motion, going over each patch of grass and weeds until it seemed shorn close enough to the ground. Some patches were tall enough that I had to raise the end of the lawn mower and sort of set it down on top.

The way these mower things work is they have blades beneath a big compartment that spin around and cut the grass, then the clippings are flung back into a bag kind of thing, like what one might pack harvested krikri eggs into to take home. This bag fills up quite quickly when the lawn has been let to grow, and so must be emptied into the receptacle. Just take it off, dump all the trimmings into the open top of the bin, then stick it back on and keep mowing. If you wait too long, then, well, it’s messy and probably just trust me on this. Empty it often.

And there, now my neighbor lady has not reason to be angry with me anymore, and she can turn her attention to figuring out how her husband knows so blighted much. At least while she is back, he probably won’t be asking me to come and eat his evil food offerings for now. At least I hope.**

*The Internet tells me that most lawn mowers are gas and oil powered, and give off noxious fumes. I am most grateful for the inconvenient but not poisonous option of electricity. There are others which have a bunch of spinning blades that move when the contraption is pushed forward by hand, but that is just creepy. And all that iron to possibly touch? No. In my human disguise, I am not so badly hurt by iron as most fae, but I do not wish to handle spinning blades of death either.

**Although this issue is a welcome distraction from my Council troubles.

(1,567 words)