twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was Spike's hatchday today and we played it safe by celebrating it with a low-key lunch at Sugarcube Corner. All six of us were there at lunch and there was sparkly rock cake (the Cakes used Pinkie's rock candy so that we could eat some too with out breaking any teeth) but no gifts. Just a good time with good food and friends, and a wobbly rendition of It's Your Birthday which, had we sung all the verses, surely would have sent everypony seated in Sugarcube Corner fleeing for the exits.

Later I gave Spike the biography I'd purchased for him in Canterlot. He gave me a strange look after he opened it up. Maybe he had been hoping for something more practical, like a Pony Latin dictionary of his very own? I could get him that next year.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I'd thought that maybe I wouldn't be writing an entry tonight in this universe spanning journal, but here I am. There was a chance that dinner with my brother's family in the Crystal Empire would finish too late for Spike and me to come home. They had invited us over when I'd foalsat Flurry Heart so Spike and I caught the Friendship Express to the Crystal Empire early this afternoon.

Dinner was at 7. Flurry Heart started her dinner at 6:30 and by the time the kitchen sent up our entrees to the royal dining room, both Cadence and Shining were coated in mashed peas. Flurry got cranky halfway through the mane course, so Spike and I waited while Shining and Cadence lulled her to sleep. Flurry's crib was right near the dining room table. Dinner finished at 8:30 and we moved to the sitting room for tea and cookies. At 9 PM it looked like Cadence and Shining were going to fall asleep on their feet. There was a train at 9:30, so we beat a hasty exit and trotted to the station just in time.

The Crystal Empire streets are so lovely at night. Quiet and clean and with the geyser of light from the Crystal Heart washing everything with a flood of contentment. An "air of contentment" is a real thing in the Crystal Empire. That's why I didn't gallop in a panic to the Train station, we were just feeling too mellow. We made it anyway, and the conductor was happy to see us, even as we hopped in through the door as the train was starting to move.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I went biography hunting in Canterlot today. Moondancer is quite busy at the moment but she gave me a list of booksellers to try. For Spike's hatchday gift, I found a biography called The Astounding Stall Ion, and because books, I picked up a new book on spells. Transformations and Transportations, The Magic Of Being Two Places At Once. I started reading it on the way back. The technique promises to allow a pony to throw all five senses at once into a remote object, but I don't think it gives you a better understanding of that object, unlike the Haycartes spell. This could be useful should I need to, say, accompany Spike to the Dragon Lands, incognito. Better than going disguised as a rock or a dragon.

I passed a long line of ponies waiting to enter the Epona Exposition at the Canterlot Cultural Equinology Museum. The lineup still stretches around the corner. The exposition was to be moved to Manehattan in the fall, but with the persistence of the crowds in Canterlot, that plan has been put on hold.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Spike is back from Crystal Empire fireworks festival, none the worse for wear and toting a fresh bag of mixed gems to snack on. From the look of the lights and the wash of joy coming down from the north, it seems Spike wasn't the only one who enjoyed the fireworks festival yesterday.

It's Spike's hatchday in three days. While I was putting together my checklist for the hospital visit, on the day I also foalsat Flurry, Spike dropped a few hints about how cake and presents cheer him up when he's down. Spike isn't exactly subtle. So I think I'll get him a book. Maybe a biography of a comic book artist? I should be able to find one of those in Canterlot. Moondancer would know where to look.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Already the East Pasture is starting to recover from the pounding it got on Picnic Day. Those pasture specialists are good at what they do. This evening we got another spring shower delivered by Cloudsdale, which should help.

It's just me and Starlight Glimmer in the castle tonight. Spike is in the Crystal Empire again, hard at work as a Pan-Equestria Fireworks Festival VIP, and Trixie is out touring. Starlight said she wanted to try out the new and improved magic show she's developing. I think she said Trixie had a stop in Appleloosa planned. I hope they like tea cups.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I had a pretty wild day today. It started out sane enough with Nurse Redheart who came trotting up to my door. She has a whole classroom of sick foals who have wound up in hospital with the horsey hives. According to her, something happened to them during the Picnic in the Fields. Since it fell on a school day, they went to the picnic as a class. All the foals had a great time picnicking with their classmates, but the next day, the foals in one class started looking a little bleary. That afternoon had been set aside for the class picture, and by then it was apparent that the entire class was breaking out with urticaria. It turns out that that class, in a fit of high spirits, had gone rolling in a sandy area during the picnic. There may have been ants there or all the foals may have become overheated in the sunshine. Whatever the cause, 24 hours later they looked lumpy and miserable, just in time for the class picture. So now they're recovering in a hospital ward. Most of them are feeling either itchy, feverish or both, and all of them are feeling down about the whole ordeal. At least this urticaria isn't contagious. So this morning Nurse Redheart had the idea that a visit from me could cheer them up. I thought that was a great idea and after she returned with a time for my visit (lunch time), I made plans with Spike to sweeten the deal with cupcakes, read them a story, and give them each a small gift.

Then Shining Armor and Princess Cadence showed up with Flurry Heart and asked me if I could look after her for the day. Of course! I could run all my errands with Spike and my niece, she would get nice long walk through Ponyville, meet a bunch of foals and I would read a story to everypony! What could be simpler? Turns out that keeping an eye on a highly mobile foal while running errands and holding conversations isn't quite that easy. I didn't give Flurry Heart enough attention and she knocked over a few too many things in the shops I went to. And erased Cheerilee's notes off her blackboard, and caused havoc in the hospital. Next time I foalsit my niece I'll give her my undivided attention the whole time.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Some parts of the east pasture are looking a little worse for wear this morning, especially from the view from the castle balcony. All those thundering hooves running the steeplechase and the six-legged race churned up the ground quite a bit. There were pasture specialist ponies out trying to smooth out the damage today.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Spike got back from the Crystal Empire in time to join us at the town picnic event. I went down to the train station to pick him up. He looked pretty tired when he arrived so it was no surprise when he flopped down on our picnic blanket and fell asleep. Pinkie and Rainbow Dash had already picked out a spot for us near the grandstand and they took off as soon as we arrived. There were ponies everywhere scouting about for a flat spot with a view and the field about me was filling up fast with picnic blankets. Fortunately, Rarity and Fluttershy arrived soon after I'd spread my blanket and I didn't have to explain to anypony why I was taking up so much space. Rarity had Applejack's blanket as well as her own. Applejack was already setting up her beverages at the contest area in a part of the pasture reserved for most of activities that Mayor Mare had promised us. From our picnic blanket, we could wave to Applejack and see Pinkie too as she unpacked a cart laden with sparkling rock candy. We couldn't see Rainbow Dash anywhere, she was probably suiting up with her Wonderbolt cohorts.

I was starting to get hungry, so I opened my picnic basket. The picnic I'd packed was utilitarian. With Spike out of town, I didn't embark on any fancy preparations. Hay chips, carrot sticks, some hay, peppermint tea, a few cupcakes. La haute gastronomie. I swapped a few bites with Rarity and Fluttershy. Spike woke up long enough to eat a few of the gems that the Crystal Empire fireworks organizers had given him as a thank you. We had Pinkie and Dash's baskets too, but we resisted the temptation to see what they contained.

By now the East Pasture was pretty full of picnicking ponies, all riding cloth rafts in the sea of grass. Pinkie bounded in, gave each of us a rock candy necklace and proceeded to dump out the contents of her basket into the mix that was what Rarity, Fluttershy and I had brought to eat. Downslope from us, Mayor Mare climbed up onto the bandstand, unfurled a Picnic In The Fields banner, recapped all the events that were in store today and declared the picnic begun. The stomping applause, muted since we were all standing on blankets on grass, was the cue for the Wonderbolts' precision flying routine. When that was over, we remembered we had food to eat and down on the bandstand, the Ponytones began to sing. Pinkie had bounded back to her rock candy stand to make sure everpony had enough string and to replenish candy where she could. Rainbow Dash had still not returned, but as the Ponytones sang, I noticed several pegasi pulling a bunch of clouds to somewhere by the edge of the picnic area. Rainbow Dash was with them and I could see that they were sculpting the clouds into an obstacle course. I'd wondered how winged ponies were going to compete in the steeple chase. Jumping over the ditches, hay bales and fences is just too easy with a few wing beats.

After the concert, Mayor Mare announced the winners for the beverage contest. Zecora got a blue ribbon in the hot category, Applejack won in the juice category, and two other ponies got top honors in the slurry and cold categories. None of us had gone down to try the drinks, there were just too many ponies there already. Applejack and Zecora, their blue ribbons tied to their manes and picnic baskets in their mouths, made their way up the hill to join us. They'd barely taken a few mouthfuls of hay when Mayor Mare announced the sporting events: the six legged races, the steeplechase (ground then aerial) and the round robin netball tournament. Applejack, as the local rodeo champion, was one of the judges for the ground event. She told us that Rainbow Dash was on the panel for the aerial event, so we wouldn't see her until that was over. We packed a light lunch in a saddlebag for Applejack and wished her luck. Then we toasted her after she had trotted off by eating the apple pie she had brought to the picnic.

Pinkie came back and we watched all the sporting events while we polished off all the food. Mayor Mare awarded more blue ribbons and Rainbow Dash and Applejack came back from their stint at judging. Pinkie had rock candy necklaces for them, but otherwise, there was nothing to eat. So I invited everypony to the castle for supper. We fixed up a hot meal and took it out to the balcony overlooking the East Pasture. Apart from a few games of netball, most everypony had collected their things and gone home for supper. As Celestia lowered the sun, ponies were returning to watch the last event, the fireworks. We could just see Mayor Mare on the bandstand, addressing the crowds one last time, but we were too far to hear her. Then darkness fell and fireworks bloomed in the sky.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The Picnic in the Fields extravaganza is tomorrow, ergo the last day of teasers from Mayor Mare. For her last big reveal, she told us that there will be fireworks over the East Pasture. I hadn't really planned on staying all day at the picnic but with everything there will be to do and see, I guess I should pack extra food. Or leave mid afternoon and watch the fireworks from the castle. We'll see.

Pony Games

May. 15th, 2017 11:51 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Cloudsdale sent us a little spring shower today, but that didn't slow Mayor Mare down one whit. She was out at the top of the Town Hall steps under a big red umbrella and revealing the next teaser with much enthusiasm: the picnic will include a steeple chase event, six legged races, and a dozen balls and nets so ponies can play netball. The races will be fun to watch! I wonder if I can convince Starlight Glimmer to run the six legged race while tied to Trixie. Hee hee hee!

Rock Candy

May. 14th, 2017 11:43 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
As part of the buildup to the picnic, Mayor Mare was giving away rock candy necklaces and throwing balloon animals into the crowd today. That probably explains the roped-off areas near the bandstand. It's clear now that this picnic is going to be a big deal. Mayor Mare may be going overboard.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The summer Fireworks Festival is again taking place in the Crystal Empire. Spike left this morning to attend to his role there as celebrity and hero. He'll be presiding over the events, lighting the first rocket, but he's not judging the events. It's a nice low pressure job with lots of attention. Spike isn't complaining.

Mayor Mare teased us with a fresh announcement from Town Hall. The Ponytones will serenade us with fifteen favorites during the picnic. Assembly of a temporary bandstand has already begun. I went to look and I was amused to see that it's getting built at about the same location where we put down our picnic blankets for the picnic surprise party we sprang on Pinkie. The acoustics are good there, it's a low spot and the topography of the rolling hills in the field there make for a natural amphitheater.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
There are five more days to go until Ponyville's Picnic in the Fields and Mayor Mare gave us another announcement from the top of the Town Hall stairs. This year there will be a punch and beverage contest. There will be tables, glasses and awnings set up to allow twenty contestants enter up to three beverages each. There will be judging and ribbons awarded in four categories: hot, cold, juice and slurry. There must be enough of each beverage to serve 50 ponies a small glass of each. She had entry forms on a table at the foot of the stairs and I picked up three, one for each of the beverage making ponies I know, Applejack, Pinkie and Zecora. Pinkie was out, apparently meeting with ponies in preparation for the picnic. She probably already had a form and she might be too busy to make punch, but I left one with Mrs Cake to give to her, just in case. Applejack was out too. I left her a form on her kitchen table. Then I packed a jar of zap apple jam and trotted off to Zecora's house in the Everfree.

The Everfree is looking as dreary as ever, but sprinkled in among the brilliant green skunk cabbage leaves and unfurling ferns are little forest flowers, white, pink, yellow and shocking blood red. Pretty but wild. The forest smells of wet, rotting wood, decaying leaves and dangerous beasts. I longed for wide open spaces where I could see danger in plenty of time to flee.

To my relief, Zecora was home. I told her about Mayor Mare's announcements and I gave her the third entry form for the beverage contest. Zecora is an expert in liquid refreshments and I soon convinced her to enter. We filled out the form right there so I could drop it off at Town Hall on my way back. I didn't stay long, just enough to have a cup of tea and to give Zecora the jar of zap apple jam. Then I headed home, picking some Everfree trout-lily leaves on the way.

Picnic

May. 11th, 2017 11:39 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Posters inviting all Ponyville residents to this year's Picnic in the Fields have gone up on official buildings and in shop windows. There was also an official announcement in the Ponyville Express that invited all to hear what Mayor Mare had to say about it this afternoon. So I went and I learned that the event will take place in six days and that the Wonderbolts, including our Rainbow Dash will give us an aerial show. There are more surprises in store, but Mayor Mare is keeping us in suspense, saying that there will be a new official announcement on each day leading up to the picnic.

Convection

May. 10th, 2017 11:58 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I was roused this afternoon from a chapter on nutritional deficiencies and related pathologies in Baabaaraa Blaack's book on sheep wellbeing, "All About Ewe, From Flock to Fleece", when a quire of loose paper burst out onto the balcony on a gust of wind, Starlight Glimmer in hot pursuit. Somepony had left the front door open and a whirlwind of rising air was racing up the stairway again. I went down to close a few doors before this Treecastle sucked all of Ponyville clean of dust, dirt and anything that wasn't nailed down. Spike is going to be grumbling for a week.

Down in the entrance lobby I found Applejack and Rainbow Dash engaged in a lively game of Ring Fling, the castle doors wide open to let in the warm spring air. It was a close game and they hadn't noticed the dull roar of air rushing up the stairs at the far end of the lobby or the vortex of debris merrily sailing in past them. The satisfying crack of wood on wood of a well flung ring and keeping score had all their attention. That and the grit on the floor that was making rings grind to a halt well short of the goal. I shut the doors and gave them brooms.

This place was not made to stable a herd.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I had tea and hay biscuits with Applejack today at Sweet Apple Acres. The Apple family is pretty busy this time of year, watering and weeding and Applejack told me of the time, when she was still a little filly, when she expanded their herb garden and she decided to grow thyme for the first time. She was determined to do it all herself, like a big filly, from tilling the ground, to weeding, all the way to harvest.

The expansion took over some of the old field part of the garden spot by the barn, an area the Apple family would mow from time to time, but which was mostly left to grow wild. It was pretty weedy and most of the plants that sprouted there were only fit for goats and sheep. Applejack squared out her work area, tilled those weeds under, broke up the soil, spread fertilizer and adjusted the pH of the soil. It was hard work for a little filly, but Applejack was a stubborn little filly. She planted her thyme seeds in raised rows and watered them dutifully. Soon there were plants growing.

Since she hadn't grown thyme before, she was a little unsure which plants were thyme and which were weeds. She tried to sort them by taste but she wasn't sure what thyme tasted like, or wild carrot either. So she ate quite a few of the sprouts as she weeded. Turns out that the thyme was growing well, but so were the giant asters and the wild carrots. Wild carrots are mildly toxic, and even as young plants they can make a pony feel nervous. Not the best thing for a filly to sample when she's already worried she'll fail at gardening thyme for the first time. She was well on her way to ripping out all the thyme and turning her project into a wild carrot garden when she finally straightened out what was thyme and what was weed. She ended up transplanting a lot of thyme before, she hoped, anypony had noticed.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
During lunch Starlight Glimmer told me that she had been in Manehattan last week looking for tickets to more Bridleway shows. She succeeded in getting good seats to An Equestrian in Prance and A Capriole Line. The first one, An Equestrian in Prance, has music by Gorse Girthwinch and a lot of dancing. A Capriole Line is all about dancing. I suggested she branch out to ballet and try to catch a show by the Royal Lipizzaner Ballet in Canterlot.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Another pleasant day well spent, reading in my library.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Rarity is in Manehattan today, renewing the lease for her shop. She's a very busy pony, on the train several times a moon, going to Canterlot and Manehattan to restock her boutiques and keep abreast of the trends and successes in the clothes industry. Perhaps she should hire somepony to manage her Ponyville boutique while she's traveling.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was rough getting up early to watch the meteors dash across the sky, but worth it. There were a few frisky ones that streaked quite high overhead, but most stuck to the horizon. When the twilight brightened the skies, sending the shooting stars and the constellations scooting to their daytime haunts, I picked myself up and descended the flights of stairs out into the morning mists. I walked alone through the green fields of growing timothy grass, Ponyville's finest, wet and silvery with dew. The southern birds were awake too, singing their claims of virility and territorial ownership, ready and willing to take on any that dared challenge either. I lay claim to a patch of tall wet grass, and ate it. My song was the rhythmic ripping and chewing of the green stems I harvested. Breakfast.
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