[6 Trandary 4261]
In the morning I arose, and brushed myself off of ashes. When I actually burrow into the ashes, they never get off my feathers very well, though my sides and tail and such are clean in an instant. At times like this I contemplate an entirely scaly way of life. Such a matter must needs be delayed of course.
Fortunately (*), I now have a little blue glass pitcher with a shrimp for a handle, and thereby can fill up our half-barrel easily enough.
Of course, filling up the giant mottled green gourd-shell punchbowl for bathing is not so easy. The half-barrel for water is in the kitchen, next to the door to the apartment -- where else would it be? Whoever is carrying water does not want to carry it one step further than is entirely necessary. But the punchbowl is nearly as far away as possible, at the back door of the apartment, where anyone but me can tip it over and drench our straggly roselantern bush with my bathwater. (When I try, I'm as likely to drench anything around. The full punchbowl weighs more than I do, and wobbles itself greatly when I shove it.)
Me:"Dustweed, could you do the kindness of filling the punchbowl for me? For I have already filled the half-barrel, and my strength for water-carrying is exhausted."
Dustweed:"It seems a fair enough slicing of our labors, for today. Though I think the strength you have exhausted more properly belongs to your enchantment project than to you personally."
Me:"The dung of the cyarr! But in any event, I own the amulet, and so its strength is mine if it is anyone's save Merklundum Harnipsundum the Dog who Killed a Fish's." It is rare enough that I am annoyed enough to use profanity, especially so early in the morning, but I was still cross from Strenata the night before.
Dustweed:"True enough. Still, you should increase your potencies still further."
Me:"And what do you mean by that, Dustweed? Surely no amount of hoisting logs over my head will make me as strong as you."
Dustweed:"Ah! I do not mean the potencies of your body, which, as you say, will forever be small."
Me:"The dung of the cyarr, stirred up with offirrah and served in an ivory bowl! I need no further insults and outrages, O both-female; my Orren friends supply them in quite sufficient numbers."
Dustweed:[flattening zir antennae at "O both-female"]"A small apology, Sythyry, for talking like you so early in the ash-covered morning. What I mean is this: if we are to hire a servant -- who may as easily carry water for you, if you arrange it in advance -- might as easily do it now."
Well, it's no "we" who is hiring the maid, but an "I", though I will share.
After I had bathed, everyone who more or less lives here was more or less awake, and Dustweed had filled our largest pitcher with kathia. I had intended to use a smaller circle of people to decide who to hire, but getting that circle alone might be an hour's work, so I talked to everyone.
And nearly everyone got it wrong, thus:
Me:"Dung of the cyarr, dried and pressed into paper, with tax records written on it. I'll go get poor Darkwad then, and vicious insects in all your ears."
Darkwad was staying at Pratter's Inn, and I poked at the Herethroy waiter there, and was told to talk to the cook. The cook said, "He's off in the streets somewhere about, likely near the Academy Quarter market. I lent him some carrots and onions and chub-beetles." She did not explain in precisely what state she expected him to return them.
So I flew around the market for some little while, and finally spotted Darkwad -- sitting cross-legged on the grass just off the boardwalk on Glassbutcher Street (one of the main streets leading into the market), with a little fire of twigs burning on a fireskin in front of him, and skewers of vegetables and beetles.
Me:"Ho, Darkwad! I've come to hire you."
Darkwad:"Ho, Sythyry! You're too late by half a day."
Me:"Dung of the cyarr, mixed with wool and formed into a conical hat! How, too late?"
Darkwad:[Grinning]"I already have a job. Specifically I have already hired myself. I am my own vegetable-buyer, scullion, sous-chef, master-chef, stevedore, maitre d'hotel, majordomo, minordomo, staff of six waiters elegant in their blue-green dresses. Oh, and dishwasher. We must not forget the dishwasher."
What I should have said:"Ah, excellent! With all of these jobs, you must find yourself well-paid in the extreme! If a bit tired at the end of fifteen days at once."
What I did say:"What?"
Darkwad:"I've decided not to work for anyone for now. I'll sell grilled foods in the marketplace, and have my freedom and my wages both, that way. Here, try a sample." He squeezed a bit of pren juice on a half-roasted carrot -- not the usual sort of orange carrot, but one with a crimson outside around a pale white root -- and waved it over the fire a bit, and dusted it with powdered chili, and handed it to me. It was quite good.
Me:"Well, then, I guess I shan't be hiring you after all. But I shall be having breakfast of chub-beetles and carrots, I suppose."
And after that I returned home for another long bickery voting session, and in the end we hired Jarmiet. We'll get her in the afternoons, our Evil Neighbors get her in the mornings, and we'll alternate which apartment she cooks lunch in. Which means that we'll be seeing a lot more of our Evil Neighbors, which is no bad thing.
Hah! "Fortunately" is an unfortunate figure of speech. No great fortune was involved -- I did not find this blue glass pitcher lying forgotten in the street, nor yet abduct it bodily from some ancient temple of elemental stinkiness, or even notice it in the tray of some seller of curios and assorted junkments and perceive its true value. I made it. Last term. In Enchantments class. I have no great competance this century, but I insist on giving myself full credit for what little I have. In my own journal at least.