Culinary (mis)Adventures

Xanadu Weyr - Domicile of Discernment

On the outside, this cottage is fairly unremarkable. It's of moderate size, though it's clearly not the home of a rider - there's no wallow, nor is there any means for even the smallest of greens to enter. It's set in the meadow, amidst the gentle roll of the terrain toward the ridge, but any adornment by flowers or ornamental plants is purely incidental. The exterior is painted white, and the roof-shingles are brown. There's a small wooden stoop, centered along the longer side - three wide steps leading up to a doorway framed by windows.
Once inside, the main room of this cottage is bright and airy, made so by a high arched ceiling and large windows that take advantage of their northern exposure, with gauzy drapes and pale golden oak sills. Overhead, there's more of that oak in the form of exposed beams, the ceiling between them painted a soft cerulean. During the day, there is likely sufficient illumination from those windows, but for night-time, there are recessed lights hidden within the beams that diffuse against the ceiling. The walls are white with a sponged speckling of the same blue from overhead, and underfoot is more of that oak.
The house has a central column of yellow fieldstone, with a fireplace facing into the room and a half-flight of stairs to either side - one leading up, the other down. Above the fireplace is an oakwood mantel, and while it may provide warmth, under most circumstances, the radiant heating system beneath the floorboards is likely to more effective. The fireplace may, however, provide a pleasant flickering warmth, and as such, a sofa and a pair of armchairs are arranged in front of it. The sofa's a velvety blue-grey, accented with a pair of red pillows, and the armchairs are brown leather - suitable for company but selected primarily for comfort.
There's a kitchen tucked off to one side, near the upward staircase. It's small, but well equipped, with granite countertops and a brushed steel cold-box and stove. There's an oblong wooden table with chairs set around it, and even some plants in small terracotta pots on the windowsill, as the presence of fresh herbs is useful when cooking.


It's been about a seven since Jethaniel and Darsce have returned and taken up residence in their new cottage. It's been a busy week, for their absence has left things to catch up on for both of them, notably paperwork for Darsce - and inspections of several areas (the hot springs being one of them and… oddly enough finding them closed as per Soriana's report - what the-?! Yeaaahno, she doesn't want to know!) Also there's been the getting back into the routine of early mornings and no longer lazing about. And LOTS of klah-drinking! The boxes in her old room have slowly filled, essential clothing carried over a few at a time on hangers to hang in the closet of their new place. Wedding gifts - when has there been time to open those? - remain waiting for them to see to - and oddly, Darsce has appeared almost harried around dinnertime, suggesting they catch those meals in the caverns (save for the night before when she'd provided a salad, carrot sticks, fruit and bread - from the Weyr's kitchens - in their own place). She peeled and cut those carrots though, managing her fork with the bandaged index finger not hampering her too much! Tonight? She is not intercepting Jethaniel outside of his office to steer him to the caverns. She's home before him by a few hours and so when he enters their dwelling, the scent that greets him is (presumably) dinner - and a cloud of smoke rolling out the door. And the sound of Darsce in the kitchen swearing nonstop with a voice that sounds just this side of frustrated tears.

In Jethaniel's absence, the Weyr continued to run smoothly. He knows this, in part, because the regular reports stating such - for various aspects of the Weyr - continued to arrive on his desk at their usual rate. The ones addressed specifically to him had a reduction in arrivals per day, but given the duration of his absence, have nevertheless become substantial. Fortunately, few of them are urgent; none of them were sufficiently urgent to interrupt his vacation, and many may even continue to wait after his return. There are, nevertheless, a large number of them, and while he has been conducting a continuous process of triage on his inbox to ensure that the high priority work is done, it is not yet empty. That, and various meetings and inspections of craft subdomains, have been sufficient to keep his days quite occupied. The evenings have seen more of his own things brought over as well, and he's made no objections to those meals in the caverns, perhaps simply presuming Darsce is as tired as he. Klah - even in copious quantities - can only do so much. Tonight, having finally delivered a report that (according to his assessment) is two days late, he returns home, walking through the meadow only to blink at the smoke… and blink again. The smoke is certainly, being an airborne irritant, conducive to causing tears, but the situation is likely more complex than that. "Ah…" There is certainly a scent. Whether it is entirely congruent with the concept of dinner depends on one's precise definition thereof. Jethaniel steps inside, but leaves the door open for ventilation as he approaches the source of those curses. Interestingly enough, it appears to be in proximity to the origin of that scent.

In Darsce's absence, the portions she oversees have run… more smoothly. *cough* But that's neither here nor there, right? Ohhh those assistant headwomen are such handy folk! Klah in copious amounts isn't totally keeping Darsce's fatigue at bay, but it's accomplishing (or rather she thinks it's accomplishing) its intended function - not that she's stated this aloud to, like… anyone! Thankfully the smoke, while acrid, doesn't have the flavor of wood burning - yet. So Darsce hasn't managed to set their new dwelling on fire. There is, however, in the haze that clouds their kitchenette, the flicker of flames coming from the oven and the shadowy shape of a coughing Darsce fanning it with a dish towel in the vain attempt to put it out (I mean, whut? people blow out candles, right?) while numerous pots bubble forgotten about on the stovetop. At least… the table is set nicely. There's that.

The kitchens are among those portions of the Weyr overseen by Darsce. If a relation is to be construed between her presence and the smoothness of the situation, it… will have to be conducted some other time, as Jethaniel has engaged in ad hoc reprioritization and discovered that goals for the evening such as 'not burning down the cottage' not only exist, but should be addressed in a prompt manner. Ideally, they should also be addressed in an effective one. While, in theory, Darsce's attempt to extinguish the flames could be effective, her use of the dishtowel is unlikely to either concentrate carbon dioxide or create a vacuum sufficiently to have any meaningful result, and may in fact, by generating gas exchange for the fire, have the opposite result as intended. Jethaniel does not, under the current circumstances, attempt to explain this to Darsce. He instead crosses to her, avoiding coughing primarily by the expedient of holding his breath, and reaches to catch her hands and draw them away. This is required because he's also lifting his foot to nudge the oven door up and closed. In a closed system, oxidation is self-limiting. This is one of the theoretical principles behind the use of a fume hood, and the precise degree of air required to maintain certain types of reaction has been responsible for the failure or success of multiple experiments. The failure or success of whatever experiment is, at present, within the oven is not Jethaniel's concern; he is merely interested in avoiding having the experiment conducted at a larger scale. He is, apparently, somewhat averse to seeing the conclusion of any of the experiments currently being conducted, as he intends to proceed by turning them all off, in whatever order is most apparent. Perhaps he simply can't see well enough, given the smoke, to tell which is the oven, and presumes if he proceeds across the control surfaces in an orderly and complete fashion, he'll find that one eventually. The table, being in a stable configuration, is permitted to remain set. That, or he simply hasn't noticed it.

Darsce's definitely not going to concentrate carbon dioxide where it needs to be. She already tried to blow on the flames and singed the ends of her hair in the futile attempt. She's never set a fire in her life - unless it was the metaphorical kind - and those, well. Depending on the type, she's either fled from them or reveled in them - especially the ones involving Jethaniel. So putting them out is an unlearned skill. Her concentration (or is it the smoke's concentration?) is such that she doesn't see him until her hands are caught and drawn away. Those pots bubbling away? Some are smoking too, having gone dry while Darsce flapped ineffectually at those flames, others are foaming and hissing in boilover. The stovetop and oven are, quite simply, a mess. As is the soot-smudged face of Darsce, who stands there in the middle of the kitchenette while their cottage - if not their dinner - is rescued. Between hyperventilated inhalations she's coughing, not having thought to hold her breath. Words - even the unrepeatable ones fail her as she stares through the smoke at the shambles in the dazed sort of wonder one will have for such epic disasters before her smarting, watering eyes turn towards Jethaniel and she rasps, "Thanks." Then promptly coughs, unable to stop.

The fire itself will concentrate the carbon dioxide; this is, in fact, one of the problems with smoke and the inhalation thereof. Jethaniel is neither wearing work gloves nor using tongs, but fortunately, nothing in those pots is sufficiently caustic as to cause him serious harm when it splashes on him during his cessation of ongoing thermal input to the carbonization reactions. Jethaniel has limited the access of the flames to oxygen, but as a consequence of the breath-holding that keeps him from coughing, he has also limited his own, but there is time before that becomes a significant issue in which he can search Darsce's face, ascertaining it still appears, beneath the smudges, to be much as it should. That much, at least, is good. Darsce is substantively intact; so is their cottage. Their dinner… is less so, but aside from glances to assure himself that the flames are behaving as he expects (flickering, consuming available oxygen, and subsididing) Jethaniel does not pay attention to what would have been a meal. His hands catch at Darsce's again, and he tugs her gently away toward where the air is at least a little clearer. Ideally, he would reach that clear air before he has to breathe. He is not quite successful in this, and his inhalation of smoke brings a turn of his head and a cough as he continues to draw Darsce away.

Darsce's observant enough to note the effectiveness with which Jethaniel deals with the situation, learning is happening as a result and the nugget of what, if not why, stored away for future use. For she will definitely need it again if she tries to cook. Her hands are found and she's easily drawn away to the point she spots the open door. Clear air. Now there's is an excellent idea! She'd been too flustered to think of seeking fresh air herself, but then, leaving those flames to do as they pleased had not been an option to her. That she might've been consumed along with the cottage has not occurred to her. That's where she wants to go, out into the early spring evening, chilly though it might be to draw several deep breaths and continue to cough that smoke out of her lungs while swiping at her watering eyes. "I'm so sorry," she croaks when she can manage words, "I ruined dinner." And then she bites down on the humiliated tears that press to be expressed. Nope. Not going to… damn! She's not a sobbing wreck, but silent tears, those willful, untamed things, leak out to make tracks down her smudged cheeks.

Memory is effective at creating associations. Should similar circumstances arise again, the means of dealing with them effectively will hopefully also do so. Outside, the air is cold and clear. Stardust perches on an exterior window-ledge, and she chirps approvingly as they emerge. Humans, present and accounted for! Jethaniel takes a deeper breath in the clear air, and turns his attention to Darsce. That he has questions is obvious in his eyes long before he says anything, but he is quiet as she coughs, keeping hold of one of her hands and tracing his thumb slowly over the back in a calming gesture provided in a minimum of space. The apology brings a squeeze of his fingers, a silent assurance. His lips part to speak… and then she continues, providing a context for that apology. For a moment, he simply stares at her. Despite his recent observation of the smoking, charred, and actively flaming components of what was to be a dinner, Jethaniel appears lacking in comprehension. "That is…" He shakes his head, and reaches out to put both his arms around Darsce and draw her against him. "…not my concern." He holds her, soot-smudges, tears, and all. The process whereby dinner was ruined may, however, be relevant to the things which actually concern him, and so, after a moment, his arms close around Darsce and his voice gentle, Jethaniel asks, "What happened?"

Darsce goes willingly into his arms, hers curl around him and her chin hooks over his shoulder. "I don't know, really. I made sure the oven was hot before I put the chicken in the oven and it cooked. It smelled nice for awhile." Even if she didn't spice it with anything. "The tubers took a long time to cook and the corn never did get tender. I kept poking it with a fork and it remained hard as a rock." Corn. ON the cob, heh, which he'll see if he helps her clean the mess up. And whole tubers. At least she peeled them? "I was right there, setting the table and arranging the cupboards, so it's not like I forgot." Though, did he notice how far he had to turn all those knobs to turn the elements and oven off?

That lack of knowledge may in fact be considered a nontrivial portion of what happened. Jethaniel continues to hold Darsce as he listens to her explanation. It is somewhat inexact, but cooking is not generally held to the same degree of precision as chemical reactions… certain aspects of baking aside. Jethaniel is aware of the difference, but, given that he lacks cooking-specific knowledge, makes the attempt to generalize. "It would seem the reaction became self-sustaining," he says after consideration. "Excess activation energy may cause them to become… somewhat less controlled." Which seems an applicable description for the state of kitchen at the juncture of his arrival. Jethaniel squeezes Darsce against him, and tilts his head to kiss at the side of hers. "Are you okay?" She appears, now that the coughing has subsided, to be substantively unharmed, and yet… he asks.

Can it ever! As Darsce in the long run will come to notice. Oh the chemical disasters that await Darsce's baking attempts! Future explosions await! Jethaniel speaks and the words… they lose Darsce in her current shattered state and she blinks to the meadow she's staring across even while her arms tighten in response to his squeeze. Though the tears have stopped, she lifts her head, tips streaked face to see him, "Less controlled sounds about right," she says with new wisdom. Does that mean she won't turn everything on high next time? No, because she isn't sure what 'excess activation' means…exactly. "I think so," she sniffs and then grimaces. "I smell like a campfire." No she doesn't - she smells awful. Singed hair is the worst smell, but the greasy smoke clinging to her isn't so great either. At least it's only the tips of her hair, easily remedied by a trim. She hasn't seen it yet though (wait until she does), so she doesn't mention that to him. And then she recalls that reach past boiling, steaming pots. with an inarticulate sound in her throat, she pulls away to fumble for his hands and search them, "Did you get burned?"

Jethaniel nods to Darsce's description. Explosions are part of the nature of experimentation? They provide unambiguous feedback that the course of action recently undertaken is not the intended one and should not be repeated unaltered… though it may take some trial and (copious) error to discover suitable alterations. Perhaps she'll discover explosions in a more literal sense if she tries to pour hot liquids into glassware - because it'll stop cooking if she pours it out of the pot, right? - or tries to cool a sizzling pan with a splash of cold water. As for her attempts at baking… a well-documented log of errors and unintended results may be quite informative when it comes to comprehending a new space. Admittedly, the culinary space may already be somewhat defined, but there is nevertheless potential for novel ventures. His arms relax slightly as she reports she is, in fact, okay, and he nods. Jethaniel does not comment on the smell, though it is certainly both notable and unpleasant. It would, in fact, be difficult to smell worse without the involvement of sulfur compounds, but he does not draw back. It's Darsce that does so, and Jethaniel lowers his head slightly for her question, his hands reluctant but not actually resisting inspection. "Not substantively." The overall pink of his hands may be ascribed to the fact that they are standing out in the cold. The scattering of faintly-brighter splotches may not, though this exposure to the cold is beneficial to them.

Culinary adventures have endless possibilities. Darsce can feel the reluctance as she attempts to draw Jethaniel's hands where she may examine them. She flicks a look at him for that reply and then eyes his hands with dismay. "Why didn't you say something?" she gasps reproachfully and in a flutter of rising panic despite the mild appearance of the burns. She's likely recalling that her sunburn started out pink and got worse as time progressed. Peeling skin and… AND it's Jethaniel. Her breathing picks up and she's fluttery with indecision, turning towards their cottage, then back to him, then stepping past him towards the Weyr proper, then reaching for his arm. "We… can you walk?" Of course he wan walk. You'd never know her father was a Search and Rescue wingleader and taught her some basic first aid. "We should get you to the… oh shit, I'm so sorry… thisisallmyfaultandI…" She weaves, pale. There's no blood, not one drop. And yet… Darsce faints. Melting into a little heap at Jethaniel's feet. What a wimp!

"It is minor," Jethaniel says to justify his lack of comment concerning the injury. It is, in fact, nearly insignificant… by his assessment. Darsce's opinion is otherwise, though he is more concerned by her reaction than the burns themselves - and was far more concerned for her than his own scalding. His brow creases, reaching out for her with those hands, pink-spotted and warm to the touch… though skin is normally so, despite the increase in exothermicity also associated with certain ongoing reactions. "Darsce," he says earnestly, "I am fine." He is burnt, yes, but far less so than their dinner - though both of these facts are relegated to similar degrees of insignificance by Jethaniel. His assurances are, however, insufficient, because Darsce's concern for him is (unlike those burns) far from minor. "It is only…" As she weaves and falls, Jethaniel makes an unhappy noise in his throat. He's too slow to catch her, but he kneels down to scoop her up, carefully checking her breathing to ensure that it has, given the lack of conscious concern propagated by the temporary lack of consciousness, steadied. Having done so, he gathers her against him as he looks into the cottage. The smoke there has mostly dissipated, though the smell will linger for a while yet. It suffices for his intentions, and so Jethaniel adjusts Darsce's position against him and rises, then carries her over the threshold of their house, though she is not capable of appreciating the experience nor symbolic aspects thereof. Once inside, he sets her gently on the couch and brushes the scorch-tipped hair back from her face, then closes the door on his way to the kitchen. The oven is glanced at, but not opened; while there are no flames currently visible, he does not wish to discover whether there are still pockets of embers which might be induced to further oxidation, and will instead permit it to cool fully prior to investigation. He does inspect the stovetop, and frowns at those once-simmering pots. The dishtowel, despite being ineffectual for extinguishing fires, is used as an insulating surface that he may move a charred pot further back from the edge, then carry another, full of recently-boiling water, over to the sink. There, he carefully pours out much of the liquid, thus reducing the hazards currently inherent in this kitchen. There'll be cleaning to do, but for the moment, Jethaniel ignores that part of things. He runs the cold water, first rinsing his hands, then stepping to the table to take a napkin and soak it in the cold water. The fact that his hands are present in the water during this time will at least constitutes some amount of care for those burns, though it is incidental to his actions. Once the cloth is wetted to his satisfaction, Jethaniel turns off the tap, wrings the napkin, and returns to the couch, where he settles to one knee by Darsce and begins to gently dab the soot and tears from her face.

There's one way to get carried over a threshold! Not that… it's a Pernese custom, but examples of such are available on the Aivas files at Landing and Darsce, in her research of Earth's wedding customs, no doubt knows of it. Too bad she's not conscious to enjoy it! She rouses at the cool touch of cloth to her face, lashes flutter, eyes open, confused at first and then her concern re-asserts itself. Not as panicked as before, but still intense, "You are not fine. You're scalded. We should go to the inf-" Ohwait. Cyrus is likely there. The thought of Cyrus leads to the remembrance of her sunburn and the cream he gave her. Between - or around - dabs to her face she say, "I still have the tin of cream he gave me for my sunburn," she offers. Why'd she keep that smelly stuff? Who knows, probably she'd planned to lob it at Cyrus while wailing it made her skin fall off. "It might make you peel (not true, but Darsce doesn't know this) - and don't tell Cyrus this - but it stopped the pain." Oh there'll be cleaning to do, charred dinner to toss and Darsce will help before seeking to remove that smoke stench from her person. There'll come a point wherever Jethaniel has gotten himself to where he hears the wail of, "My haaaaaaair!!!" That'll be when Darsce looks into that quality mirror hanging above the sink, yep.

Jethaniel smiles as Darsce opens her eyes again, then ducks his head at her insistence. Yes, but only a little? If this were a lab session, he'd be telling whoever was involved to file an incident report. As it is, he is averse to providing a description of the scenario. His hands have remained functional, have they not? They prove so by folding the napkin over itself neatly. "I will use the cream," he agrees when she mentions it, and lifts his gaze once more. That much, he's willing to do. Even minor burns are not particularly pleasant in sensation. "If it is insufficient -" By whose measure? "- I will go to the infirmary." Not that he's likely to deem it necessary, but at least he'll use that cream. The numbweed will help mitigate the pain while the oils and herbs, in addition to creating that smell, will promote proper healing. Jethaniel reaches for Darsce's hand and brushes his lips to the back of it, and he'll let her direct him regarding the cream and the application thereof. Then, there's the kitchen - more specifically, the cleaning thereof - and after tossing, wiping, and scrubbing, Darsce ascends the stairs in order to clean herself and Jethaniel sits down on the couch to rest. Several moments later, there's that wail, and his eyes lift, tracking up along the wall whose mottled patterning is surely still due to sponge-painting more than smoke… then close. He takes a deep breath, still tinged with the tang of greasefire smoke, and exhales it slowly. Welcome… home?


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