twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I felt like stretching my legs a bit this afternoon, I just needed an excuse to get out. So I packed my saddle bags with my Piaffle game and my trusty Whinnypiafficon on one side and half a tub of vanilla oat swirl ice cream on the other and I went to see if I could tempt Fluttershy into playing a game. It turned out that not only was Fluttershy in a mood to play Piaffle, she proposed we find a spot in the western pasture to play. It was a warm day with just a slight breeze, a good day to relax in the grass. Fluttershy took a few minutes to gather up a picnic blanket, her tea set, a few bowls and her pet bunny, then we set off for the western pasture.

We'd barely walked a dozen paces when Pinkie leaped of nowhere and near made us bolt right out of our skins. Long story short, we ended up being three ponies, and a bunny, out soaking up the sun around a scrabble game, drinking tea, nibbling the grass and eating half melted ice cream. It was a fun game, Pinkie managed to bridge two triple word scores with one word! After that, Pinkie's win was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Pinkie told us that her sister was due to finish her dissertation soon and earn a Rocktorate. I hadn't known that Maud was that close to finishing. Pinkie is very proud of her sister and excited. But then, when is Pinkie not excited?

It's going to be a good night for watching shooting stars tonight. The best time, according to the Astronomer's Almanac, will be about an hour or so before the dawn. I'm either going to pull an all night vigil, or get up well before Celestia raises the sun. I think I'll get up early.

Hot Food

May. 3rd, 2017 11:56 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Spike and I went into town together this morning to restock our pantry. In our travels we bought a tub of vanilla oat swirl ice cream at Sugarcube Corner and apples from Applejack's stand at the market. These are apples that had been in storage since last year, so they were a bit wrinkled. Spike combined those with some of the oats I'd bought yesterday and made an oat apple crumble in time for lunch. Ice cream and apple crumble hot out of the oven is hard to beat. We also picked up some winter squash and jar of really spicy pickled carrots. We had some dried mushrooms so Spike put together a very spicy goulash for our supper. I've downed three pots of mint tea since supper to wash that down.

In Transit

May. 2nd, 2017 10:38 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I guess no one answered the door yesterday when the mail pony came knocking with a parcel for us. So today I went down to the mail office to pick it up. I was hoping it was a stack of books I'd ordered from Random Horse but instead it was a selection of starter gems for Spike's gem garden. He grows them. The box was small enough that the mailmare could just have left it in the mailbox with the letters.

While I was out I dropped by the market to buy some specialty oats and molasses chunk cereal. It's made by a pony with a grain stand here in Ponyville. He was still out of that mix, cold stone rolled oats are in short supply this time of year, so no oat chunk cereal for me. Maybe next week. I'll just make do with regular oats in the meantime.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I had a quiet day in the castle today. I don't know where Starlight Glimmer and Trixie have trotted off to. I had a silage soup with my hay for lunch. I didn't realize we had quite so many tea cups and I couldn't find the salt shaker.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Those showers we had a few days ago has spurred the plants into a burst of fresh growth. Spike went to the market today and came back with his basket piled high with dandelion, trout lily, cattail and alfalfa. Lunch was a real treat!
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The map table looks like it may have shifted slightly. Maybe somepony tried pushing on it, just to see if it could be moved.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was really warm out today, almost summer-like, with blue skies and bright sunshine and only a light breeze. I decided that it was too nice to stay indoors in our cold rock castle when I could take my reading outside. I set up a parasol on the bigger balcony in such a way that I could soak up the sunshine with my hind quarters while soaking up literature in the shade with my eyes. Starlight Glimmer and Trixie joined me on the balcony, each with their own reading material. I saw that Starlight was having Trixie read The Art of Invisibility Spells. From the grumbling and the number of times that she whispered questions to Starlight, I gather that Trixie was finding that book a slow wallow.

By late morning Cloudsdale drifted in over Ponyville's fields and several squads of weather ponies arrived, pulling in flotillas of rain clouds. While they set up, we collected our books and brought them inside. I went back out to watch the weather ponies at work. The cloud layer was just a bit lower than the top spire of the castle, so I had a good view as the pegasi knitted the clouds together. Then, as I watched, there was a wave of rain that started at one end of the cloud bank and ran all the way to the other end. On top of the clouds and out of sight, pegasi galloped and bounded across the fluffy stratocumulus field they had made, triggering the clouds to release a light spring rain. It was still very warm and it really felt good to stand there in the rain with my head down, feeling the warm water run in rivulets down my neck, back and sides.

The light rain cooled the air, but the ground below was still warm from the morning sun. That created updrafts of warm air, some of which followed the castle walls and flowed onto the balcony. The air currents brought with them the delicious smells of spring. Fresh green growth, small spring flowers and catkins, the wet embrace of mist, and the rich odor of loam. I closed my eyes and drank in the moment. I think spring is my favorite time of year.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
We met up at the train station this morning, all hot to trot for this friendship retreat I'd booked for us. We were off to have fun, fun fun!

Spike, Starlight Glimmer and Trixie had the castle to themselves for the day. They saw us off as we boarded the train and Starlight Glimmer thoughtfully gave us a bag of salty pretzels before the train left. So the first thing we looked for when we arrived was a water fountain. Then, following the directions that Manehattan Escapes had sent me, we checked in and got locked into our room! It was loads of fun solving all the puzzles that eventually gave us the key to the door. We would have cracked it faster but we stalled before turning the key. We missed beating the record for that room by a few seconds. Rainbow Dash was a little disappointed by that, but it wasn't like we were going to win an award. Maybe we'll go back some day and try another of their locked rooms.

It was a fun challenge that called on each of us in one way or another, like Fluttershy's delicate precision, Rarity's eye for jewels and Rainbow Dash's speed. But it wasn't what everypony imagined a "retreat" to be. I think Rarity expected something called "Manehattan Escapes" to be more like a resort hotel.

It was still early when we disembarked back in Ponyville and Rarity suggested we go to spa. We all agreed that going to the spa was a good idea and a great way to end a fun day. So after telling Starlight that we were back and going to the spa, we followed Rarity to her favorite retreat. Ponyville held together while we were gone and I couldn't help noting that the castle was neither on fire nor in ruins. Well, maybe the spa ponies looked a little lost, Aloe saying something about missing a massage table they'd don't remember having. Otherwise, same old peaceful Ponyville.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Pinkie and Applejack invited all of us over for a down home zap apple brunch in the barn today, so I rounded up Spike and Starlight Glimmer and we trotted down to Sweet Apple Acres. Applejack and Big MacIntosh had already brought down enough straw from the loft to make tables and seats for everypony and Pinkie had festooned the place with enough balloons, banners and streamers to make it look more like a celebration than a brunch. Except we had a record player instead of a DJ. There were tablecloths on the bales, and on that, baskets of zap apples, zap apple jam and plates. While we took it all in, Sweetie Belle and Pinkie came in through the door carrying fresh baked bread and a big serving bowl of spring grass and dandelion salad. Then Sweetie Belle dashed back out and Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash walked in with mint tea and fresh biscuits. They put that down on the table and came over to join us. Finally Big MacIntosh came in with a tray of cups, Sweetie Belle was back with a pitcher of water, and Rarity arrived, flanked by Applejack and Granny Smith. It was time to eat!

Pinkie put "brunch music" on the record player (it sounded like the Pasture Symphony by Beathooven) and we all found a place to sit and fill our plates.

After lunch we helped clean up the dishes and hoist the bales back into the loft, then the Apple family went back to making jam, Sweetie ran back to class and Starlight and I headed on back to the castle.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Applejack dropped by earlier today with seven jars of zap apple jam for us. She didn't stay long since she was on her way to Fluttershy's cottage to give her a few jars of the jam as well. Spike baked up a small batch of biscuits for lunch and we spread zap apple jam on those while they were still hot. Granny Smith hasn't lost her touch, it's still the best jam ever.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I woke up sore and tired this morning. Between the star gazing at all hours and those brushes against the zap apple trees that sent me careening wildly to the ground, I think I over did it. That afternoon nap yesterday was not enough. So I went back to sleep for a few hours. When I finally got up, I was still sore and feeling a bit weak from not eating breakfast on time. A plain breakfast of first cut hay and beet pulp soup helped stoke my metabolic fires but I was still sore. For that, a massage usually helps. I collected Spike and Starlight Glimmer, who brought Trixie, and the four of us walked into the spa. I got a deep tissue massage, a long fragrant soak in the hot tub and finally a good brushing and spritzing with peppermint and lavender. I felt so mellow after that. Or as Spike called it, mellow smellow. Spike the beat poet. He beat it before I could beat him.

I found Spike waiting for me in the lobby. He was looking content and I could feel him radiating heat from a good ways away. He'd curled up on the hot rocks in the sauna until he was hot enough to leave smoking claw prints on wood. After he cooled down a bit, he got a massage. The masseuse had to pile three towels on him to keep from getting burned.

Starlight Glimmer and Trixie had already left and gone to Sugarcube Corner. They'd settled for the sauna followed by a seaweed wrap and a pulsating pressure shower. I should try that some time. We found the two of them still at Sugarcube Corner sharing a sundae and giggling about something. Fast friends.

There were a few other couples at tables at Sugarcube Corner, and come to think of it, at the spa too. I realized that it's Hearts and Hooves day today. A trip to the spa makes for a good bonding experience, I've noted that in my reference book on Friendship (The Magic of Friendship, a Reference Manual, chapter on Building Friendships, Pair Bonding section, sub section Mate Selection and Vetting).

Well, I feel much better.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
It was zap apple harvest day! After an early breakfast, I was joined by Spike and Starlight Glimmer on the balcony to watch the morning sky above Sweet Apple Acres. We got there in time to see a thunderstorm collect above the trees all by itself, dissipate and leave a brilliant rainbow that reflected down on the zap apple trees. That was the zap apple ripening chain-reaction. I love chain reactions! Time to lend the Apple family a hoof.

When the three of us arrived, Applejack, Big MacIntosh and Sweetie Belle were hard at work. Spike teamed up with Sweetie Belle and made a short apple-tossing brigade from the pickers to the apple tubs. I picked apples from the higher branches while the others concentrated on the fruit they could reach. I'm still getting better at flying, but it's hard not to brush up against the branches. I got a few shocks. So did Starlight Glimmer. Only Spike was spared.

Picking apples by hoof is slow and tiring, and after one too many jolts, my muscles were getting twitchy. By lunch time Pinkie and Fluttershy had arrived and Starlight Glimmer and I were ready to call it quits. Spike was still going strong, so we bid good luck to the relief team, picked up a small basket of two dozen zap apples for later and left Spike to continue on until he was ready to leave. We went home to get some rest. I skipped lunch and I took a long nap.

I was pretty tired, I was up half the night watching the meteors racing across the starry skies last night, right up until the wee hours. My twitching wings woke me up mid afternoon, so I went down to the kitchen. Spike was back so we ate together and shared a zap apple for dessert. He said the harvest was going well and that Rainbow Dash and Rarity arrived shortly after we left, but Rarity didn't last long. Picking apples off of electric trees isn't really her forte.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I walked over to Sweet Apple Acres to see the zap apples. They won't be ripe for at least two days. Right now they're grey and not very appealing.

I'd read about a fun activity to do with friends in Manehatten that I think we'd all enjoy, so I proposed this Manehattan getaway to Applejack, as something fun to do before the summer arrives and everypony gets really busy. She said she'd be all for it after zap apple season. Then I went around to see how my other friends felt about a friendship retreat trip and everypony is keen to go! So I've written to reserve a spot for the six of us in five days.

Down Pour

Apr. 21st, 2017 11:24 pm
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
At sundown I was on my balcony, my Double Bridle night and day refractor telescope pointed out to the sky above Sweet Apple Acres, fresh quills, scrolls and ink on a table at my side. A fresh pot of Zecora's chocolate peppermint tea too. It's day four of the zap apple season and I was not going to miss the shooting stars!

Earlier today I picked up the Hearth's Warming doll that Rarity had made, packed it along with some fur-leaf tea Starlight Glimmer had bought for me last time she was in the Crystal Empire, and trotted off into the Everfree forest. There I ran right into a downpour.

Last year I stumbled into one of the Everfree's psychotropic spring rains, a light drizzle that had me feeling a little too carefree for my own good in an environment teeming with dangers. This time the rain did not give me euphoria. Instead, this downpour was a real downer. I was soon berating myself for not bringing an umbrella (into a forest!), then I became sad that my mane was wet and droopy, I was sure that the puddles were ruining my hooves and I was going to end up lame. What a terrible excuse of an academic. I slowed down to sulk, but there were spring peekers everywhere. Watching me, judging me, making comments on my worth in their bell-like chirps. That drove me forward until I fairly stumbled into Zecora cottage. I nearly turned tail but before I could bolt, Zecora opened her door and called me in. She parked me in front of the hearth where I stood like a sad wet mop, staring at the flames and dripping. Eventually Zecora got me to drink something hot and zingy and my mind crawled back to the land of the living. Then I noticed the lingering stench of skunk cabbage.

So I didn't stay long. Over some more of that hot sharp tea, I shared some Ponyville gossip and news with Zecora. I gave her the fur-leaf tea and the doll, both kept perfectly dry by my saddle bags. Zecora put the miniature Zecora doll up on a shelf to watch over her, a little bit of pony culture to keep her company. Then, chewing on peppermint sticks to ward off whatever mood the Everfree weather might throw at me, I left Zecora and walked back home through the rising mists and the occasional chirp of a spring peeker.

In the dusk that followed Princess Celestia's sun to bed, the shooting stars streaked over Sweet Apple Acres. Right on schedule.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
The award ceremony was this afternoon. After all the guests arrived, I gave a short speech outlining the amazing achievement of these four, of how they saved Equestria, freed the Princesses, and opened the Changelings to a world of new possibilities, all while becoming fast friends. Then Princess Celestia and Princess Luna bestowed on each an Equestrian Pink Heart of Courage, which is a medal of honor that is suspended from a ribbon and worn like a necklace. Then there was a reception and party where all the invitees could mingle.

During the reception, Discord pestered me as he often does, with a dilemma. The dilemma being, what lies ahead for Starlight Glimmer. I was going to continue with her lessons (Friendship is such a broad topic, we could go on for years!) but Discord is right, Starlight has proven that she no longer needs to be led to water. Of course Discord, just to make me sweat like a horse, suggested I come up with a "master plan" for Starlight that would somehow snowball into launching her into some impressive career or other. As if I had Celestia-level Pinkie sense. I don't. But, eventually, Starlight Glimmer needs to find her own way, and the way that she and her friends rescued us from Queen Chrysalis' clutches demonstrates that she's able. So I declared her graduated.

I was resigned to the fact that Starlight Glimmer would leave. There are so many great libraries to visit, interesting places to go to in Equestria, other things to do than stay in a mostly empty castle in a small town. But to my surprise, Starlight has decided she wants to stay here!

I gave her the mirror to put over her dresser. I'm so happy that she's staying.

Trixie is also staying here for a while. Starlight tells me that Trixie wants to learn magic. I would have thought that Trixie's specialty was magic, so I'm surprised that she needs help. But, what are friends for, if it isn't to help each other? It will be interesting to watch this develop.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
I have an idea for a gift! Instead of a book that she's already read, or a Hearth's Warming doll that might just remind her of the frivolous aspect of Hearth's Warming, I'm going to get her something useful! That isn't a book. I'll get her a mirror like the one I have over the bookcase by the window in my room. It's great, I stuck several pictures of my friends in the gap where the mirror meets the frame on mine, and I'll do the same for hers. That way she'll be reminded of her friendships each time she looks in the mirror! It's perfect! There's a store in Ponyville with several sizes in stock. I picked one out, but I just have to check that it will fit above her dresser. Somehow I'll have to get into her room to measure that space while she's out. Pinkie gave me several pictures I can use and the store is open early tomorrow. I just need that measure.

I have received an impressive pile of letters from ponies confirming that they will be here tomorrow for the ceremony. Pinkie snapped them up and galloped off with them. She has folder for everypony in her party planner room. I guess she going to file them each away and plan the ceremony party in light of who and how many ponies are coming. I suspect that there will be ponies that will get here before their RSVP's get through the mail system.

Spike let me know that the zap apple trees now have leaves.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Applejack popped in this morning to tell me that timber wolves were heard howling before the dawn in the wood out by the Apple family farm. Ergo, zap apple season has begun. Applejack says not to worry, she'll find time to come to the award ceremony and party. Then she went back to help set up the heavy wooden tubs they'll be using in the mad rush to harvest the zap apples. That will happen in five days. On the day of the ceremony the zap apple trees will be in bloom. At that point, they will only be requiring water, which Applebloom and Big MacIntosh should be able to handle while Applejack attends the ceremony.

I am stumped as to what to get Starlight Glimmer... a book about friendship? A monogrammed hairbrush? A Hearth's Warming doll?
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Lots of mail today, most of it RSVP's for the ceremony. Fluttershy confirmed for Discord, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor will be there, I got a yes from Thorax and this afternoon Trixie replied in person. I offered her a room in the castle, but she still prefers her wagon. Thorax's letter was written on a scroll of rough, grayish paper with faint, random zigzags running through it. Curious.

With the date fixed, Pinkie and Starlight have been sending out invitations left and right! I hope everypony fits into the hall I have planned. Pinkie is in charge of the party and decorations. I think I should get Starlight a surprise gift for the occasion.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
Princess Celestia wrote back to say that the day I chose will be fine for her and Princess Luna. I'm still waiting for letters back from the Crystal Empire and Thorax. They aren't equipped with dragon-breath post! I did use pony-express post. Mayor Mare says she will clear time for the ceremony and if need be, she can reschedule. It's five days now. I hope that will give everypony time to make arrangements to come. There are so many unknowns to try and factor in. Somepony could be too sick to come, or the zap apples could ripen the day of the ceremony, or there could be a Wonderbolt emergency calling Dash away.
twilightpony: Big tree with windows and door, fall foliage (Default)
While I was off at Wonderbolt Academy, Rarity finished Zecora's doll and the Advisory Council of Equestria has decided to award the Equestrian Pink Heart of Courage to Starlight, Trixie, Thorax and Discord, in light of their outstanding achievement and distinguished service to Equestria in their rescue of our Princesses from the clutches of Queen Chrysalis. This morning I received a scroll from Princess Celestia and she would like the ceremony to take place at the Friendship Castle. This is a great honor! I wrote back to Celestia to confirm and to see when she and Princess Luna would be available, and I got down to writing letters to Thorax, Trixie, Discord, Mayor Mare, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor to see when would be the best date for everypony. I proposed a date six days from now to give everypony time to get ready. I also tasked Fluttershy with contacting Discord, just in case the mail pony has difficulty delivering Discord's mail. I'll get Pinkie to coordinate with Starlight with sending out invitations, just as soon as we can establish a date.

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