Monday, December 5, 2016

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Peter has Maxwell 5, Stoke the Flames Higher, released to the wilds of the internet today. It's been so long living with the book hanging over our heads, well over a year after he thought he could finish it, that it's still taking time to process the idea of the book being done, gone, out to readers.

(Okay, I still have promotion to do, although I got the newsletter out this morning. But that post-publication checklist is rapidly dwindling, especially with turning print and audio over to Castalia house.)

Now for that strange post-piece period in an artist's household, when Peter looks around and sees things that have been ignored for months under the fog of ill health and press of plot: the boxes in the living room that he plunked there when we moved in, back in February, and has been grumbling that he'll get to when he has time, and don't move them, wife, because you won't put them in the right heap in the garage. (The garage still has to be unpacked, too.)

Meanwhile, I wake up, take a deep breath, and look around, too, at the things that I've let slide: the pile of laundry I've been stealing clean clothes out of instead of folding, the floors that need swept, the pile of mail that wasn't urgent to deal with... And that diet and exercise thing. Blargh.

Some households make new year's resolutions, and base their spurts of activity annually. Some have the "when the kids are back in school." Ours, apparently, has "Once the book is done."

I feel better knowing I'm not alone, and other author spouses confirm this is normal, and the weirdness shall soon pass. Or, to quote one, "Yeah, two weeks. After about two weeks, he starts getting really distracted plotting, and then starts sneaking off to write instead of doing the chores..."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m working today. And you know what? That’s awesome. Because I have a job that carried us through Peter being unable to make up fiction and write it down for the last year and a half, through the surgeries. Seriously, yay! (Besides, this means all the coworkers with kids will be able to have Thanksgiving with their families. Even the ones with military spouses, and you know how rare that is!)

And Peter is feeling well enough to write again. Not just “I’m physically capable of putting fingers to keyboard”, but “I am trying to hold a battle in space that’s four light-hours wide in my head, and make sure there are no inconsistencies as each ship gets the information and acts upon it, and the other ships see those actions in turn…”

And I now have a hangar for my plane: came open yesterday.

I’m going to take an hour lunch (swing shift) to pop over to a friend’s house, where we’re having a group Thanksgiving dinner. And for the friends around us, I am truly grateful.

All in all, it’s a good year. Terrifying, traumatic, expensive, frazzling, but a good year. We have always lived in interesting times, and I’ll take my blessings where I can get ’em. You take care of you and yours, and have a happy Thanksgiving, too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Right of Way

I learned to fly before I learned to drive. This means the first right-of-way laws pounded into my head at the helm of a motorized vehicle are based on naval shipping and physics. It is also enforced by nature - in aviation, most collisions are deadly to one, if not both parties. I understand that on the road, with its lack of falling, airbags, crumple zones, and often lower speeds of impact, accidents are usually far less deadly (though the total number of drivers per year means a smaller percentage of deadly accidents results in far, far higher numbers of deaths, every year.)

As on the sea, in the air, the biggest and least maneuverable thing wins. This means that hot air balloons, having no ability to steer, win over everything else. The equivalent on the road is: the broke-down car with its flashers on or road flares wins, no matter what you're driving. Also, trains win EVERY TIME. Because if it can't get out of the way, it WON'T. And, no, that combine isn't going to pull over to let your happy butt past. It CAN'T. So sit back and enjoy the farm road at 7 miles an hour, because you're on a farm road, and this is a known hazard here.

Second, the jumbo jet always wins over the small airplane. Because massive airliners take miles to turn, while small airplanes can get out of the way faster. Also, no Cessna is ever going to win an argument with a 747. While this may not be enshrined into road law, there are two practical aspects: the first is that nobody has ever yet won an argument with a semi, a dump truck, a school bus, or G-d forbid, a concrete mixing truck. They're going to take longer to get up to speed, and longer to stop, and massively more amounts of room, in the case of semis, to make a 90 degree turn. So prudent drivers will give them room to do so, not wanting to end up as a bumper decoration.

Most especially, the difference in stopping distance between a car and a bicycle... look, I commuted by bicycle. It wasn't because I was a happy eco-warrior, it's because I was spending all my money on flight lessons and college tuition. (Cars are expensive!) And from that experience, I hate bike lanes. I don't think cars and bikes should be on the same roads at all. I adore bike trails that segregate bikes from everything but pedestrians. I hate "bike paths" that consist of taking a chunk out of the road that put bicyclists and drivers into conflict every turn lane, and MOST especially bike paths on city streets that put the bicyclist in the arc of every parked car door being opened. 

As every motorcyclist and bicyclist learns, many to their scars and sorrow, cars and trucks have big blind spots, bigger stopping distances, even more mass than that to launch you down the road, and worst of all, they don't expect to see anything but cars, so even if their eyeballs register your presence, their brain will often fail to see you in time to avoid being hit.

And if you think it's bad as a bicyclist, honey, don't wear dark clothes in the night and jaywalk. Don't wear light clothes at night and jaywalk. In fact, stay out of the road, and as far off on the shoulder as you can, if you must be there. As millions of deer, moose, and elk can attest every year, not to mention coyotes, dogs, armadillos, skunks, and other furry critters, if you're moving at a walking pace in a busy road, you're roadkill. Even if you're protesting and your cause is righteous, well, whose to say the deer didn't think his cause was righteous, too?

And you poor darlings, at some point when you think you're brightly lit because you have the flashlight app on in your cell phone, walk over into the glare of parked headlights, and point it at the driver. Can he see it? Only from so close it's too late to avoid. Little glowstick necklaces and bracelets? Those are for ravers, not traffic. (Except when trick-or-treating, in which case, I'm going to be creeping along at three miles an hour and frantically looking for any sign of movement shorter than the bumper, and those help. But at normal traffic speeds, no.)

The second is that the car with the least insurance wins. I've driven flashy things, shiny and brand new, and observed other drivers let their asshole flag fly a lot more often than if I'm driving a beater that I can identify from any angle in the parking lot by its unique wrinkles and dents. Just like the guys with the fight scars on their knuckles and the level dead stare get a lot fewer men shoving them aside at the bar than dorks do, the beater car says it's a very bad idea to try to cut in at the last second of a merge by aiming at my front quarter panel and revving your engine while making eye contact and lifting your middle finger. Don't pick fights you can't win, eh?

Third, the ones with clearance win over the ones without clearance. This is all throughout road law, with its stop signs, traffic lights, yield signs, etc. Know it, follow it, avoid getting t-boned because somebody else expected you to follow the law.

Speaking of road law, it's not uniform. After almost a year in Texas, Peter and I got into a debate yesterday over whether a car was following traffic laws or not. Turns out, he's totally legal in Texas, but not in Alaska, and while arguably legal in Tennessee, he's also breaking the law in Louisiana. (Hazard light use, for those wondering.)

Yeah, that one surprised me, too. Pro tip: if you move to a new state, pick up their copy of the DMV booklet and read all the way through. It's the little things that get you, and that's not just whether you're required to have a front license plate or not - it's also whether or not the traffic around you is expecting you to do that thing you "always" do, or if they have different "of course" expectations here. 

Fourth: emergencies have right of way over everything else. If you're really enjoying some Tocatta And Fugue in D Minor, or anything else with lots of high notes and bass, take the time to check your rear view mirror for flashing red lights more frequently. Because Ambulances, Fire Trucks, and Police running with their lights on have right of way.

And, you'd think this'd be obvious, but any vehicle out of control has the right of way. If the wind is roaring across the Palmer flats hard enough to pick a semi up and drop it four feet over in my lane, I'm not going to pass him. Because I don't want to be next to him if a gust does that again! If the side of the semi in front of you disappears in dust and haze with a loud bang or two and exploding chunks of tires are flying higher than your vehicle, GET OUT OF THE WAY.

Similarly, if you _think_ a vehicle is shortly to be out of control, you can argue that you were legally right, but physics will win. So if you see a car with a tire that's wobbling very badly in and out, a truck with a load that looks about to depart the pickup bed, a semi on a downhill with one brake locked up and leaving a thick trail of smoke, or a perfectly sound vehicle that's weaving across all lanes... now is the time not to argue. It may be the time to call 911 so a nice officer with flashing lights can help fix the hazard before it becomes an emergency, but it's also time to just let that one have Right of Way.

Last but never least, if you encounter angry people who look like they're going to swarm your vehicle and injure or kill you - drop it into low gear, add gas, and drive on. People intent on hurting you do not have right of way, okay? Call the cops when you're at least several miles down the road, somewhere safe, where their angry friends who also wanted to injure or kill you even before you escaped can't wing you with a bullet.  That's a situation where the only way to survive is not to be there, so Move On, because Your Life Matters.

Stay safe out there.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Oh, dear

Ashbutt has been growing by leaps and bounds. A month after he came home, he's already twice the size of the kitten who slept most of the way home. The growth doesn't look like it's slowing down any time, soon. He has more rambunctious energy than two humans and an adult cat can deal with (and today he learned how to climb legs encased in socks. Ow.) He also purrs, near-frantically, at almost everything. Including the food bowl, where he's eating more than Kili does, and has also quickly learned to show up when she gets treats.

To date, I've heard two faint, tiny little chirps out of him, and one gigantic squall when he dashed underfoot and said foot landed on his tail. (Well, at least we know he's not mute.) But an extremely quiet cat, purrs aside.

Tonight, I realized his tail is already fluffier than Kili's fully adult tail. This bodes a long-fur fluffy future. With some trepidation, I did more internet searching, and happened upon some incredibly close matches to his own kittenish frame and coloration.

They both had the caption: "Black Smoke Maine Coon Cat"

...oh, dear.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


We have acquired a kitten. He was presented with a dual attack: first by a friend dumping the purring kitten in my lap. Second, by the inescapable logic of "You need to take this one home. He's too pretty for the 'yotes to eat."

I'm not complaining, mind you. Well, not much. Sleep deprivation is a torturous thing, even when it's due to four pounds of black and silver fur attacking my toes through the blankets, and the purring loudly while shoving a little wet nose in my face and trying to nibble on my earlobe.

Yoga now requires excess cat toys, to throw and distract someone long enough to get a pose or two done.

Folding laundry... the only way that's actually getting accomplished is to lock myself and the older cat in the guest bedroom. Kili flops on the bed, and declines to even do her prior playful interference. In every line of her sacked-out body is "Oh, Bast, I'm too old for kitten antics. At last, a respite!"

Sadly, that only works until Kili's enjoyment of a kitten-free space is overriden by her awareness of a closed door (an abomination unto felinity.)

No matter how cute, this picture represents laundry that didn't get folded. Because someone thinks a towel held up to fold in half is an exciting new climbing wall. Every. Time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Introverts Don't Unite, Given a Chance

There's a chain on the front door, that we only use at night.

At about 5:30 this afternoon, my husband goes to check the mail, and stops dead at the front door, eyeing said chain. "You haven't been out at all today?"

I pointed at the backyard from my spot on the couch. "I've been out! I pulled weeds, and watered the herbs, and sat in the shade!"

He undid the chain. "Yes, dear."

"Hey, it's my day off!"

"Yes, dear."

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Recovery and rain

My darling husband continues to get better. This morning, he felt up to doing the dishes, and did so... though this afternoon has since proved that amount of bending was, ah, ambitious. Ah, well.

I have no surgical excuse; I just don't feel like sweeping, or want to tackle folding the last loads of laundry. Sadly, there's no good excuse for not shouldering the responsibilities of adulthood to go with the privileges thereof, so after this short update, it's off to the salt mine (laundry pile) I go!

On other notes, got rain yesterday. Surprising, unexpected, and joyous. (There have been other thunderstorms nearby, but I was starting to wonder if the house was at the meteorological equivalent of the center of the target in a flour-bombing competition.)  The grass has switched from yellow-brown and mowed to bright green and shaggy in less than twelve hours. Well, I needed a little more mulch anyway, so it's all good.

And last but not least, I have this distinct feeling I may soon be the butt of a joke by the Divine. You know, I go shooting my mouth off about how I never use and don't need my instrument rating... That's like inviting the universe to offer an opportunity for IFR flight, isn't it now. *sigh* Back to the books and simulator, to try to reforge and hone those skills!