Saturday, March 22, 2014

Age and treachery, part 35

"Old age and treachery overcome youth and enthusiasm, every time." -My father

Calmer Half came into the bedroom with a cup of tea, a cat, and the amused news that our friend was out in the living room, very frustrated. I looked up from Old NFO's book, The Grey Man - Vignettes, and made an inquisitive noise. He shrugged, and the cat leapt down to attack my hand. "The kids won't wake up."

"Oh, that's easy." I reached carefully to hug him with my left hand while my right hand was still encased in a ball of kindle and cat, happily teething away on my skin and the kindle case. "I'll just get some pants on, and get them right up."

He arched an eyebrow at my mischievous smile, and I whispered my plan. "Pancakes and bacon. Few people can sleep through a dishwasher being noisily unloaded, and no college kid ever slept through the smell of free food."

It worked, too :-)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Loose Change

Today, Calmer Half and I got out in the sun for a walk. It was only about a quarter mile, up and down the road, and my lungs wouldn't have taken another fifty feet - but I'm feeling well enough to feel housebound. This is progress! The sun was shining, air calm, birds singing, squirrels scampering, old dogs sprawled in the yard and not even bothering to lift a head as we toddled by.

As we walked along the road, we saw fourteen cents and a pair of nail clippers scattered on the ground. I eyed it, and contemplated if stooping to pick up abandoned money would be worth the coughing fit that bending would trigger. Looking over at Calmer Half, I saw the most disturbed look on his face, as his eyes scanned the quiet suburb intently, hand hovering over the pocket that hangs heavy.

"Love?" I couldn't figure that one out. He looked over at me, and grimaced.

"I'm used to things like that being left in the street so the target will stay still long enough for the sniper to get a good shot." He squeezed my hand in a vague apology.

"Ah, but you're in America now." We toddled on, leaving the coins, and the past, behind.

"I know."

"I love this country."

"I love you."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Saint shot full of arrows day

Calmer Half and I had our date day yesterday instead of today, celebrating both Valentine's and 10 years of his still walking after his back being broken. It was glorious! We went to two different stores on different ends of the city, "looking for ammo." Which made a glorious road trip in the sunshine with the car heat on pleasant - and after stopping at a Krispy Kreme with the "Hot now!" sign on, we proceeded to a third side of the city for the best Thai around.

It was even better than expected - the owner was out, and while his wife was being sole waitress, the son had been dragooned into cooking. The guy was doing his best, and it's clear he really learned how to cook from his parents! However, he's very new at the restaurant - he wasn't up to doing the full menu, and the food we got was made much closer to home cooking than restaurantized-thai. His mother rocketed around looking anxious while he whipped up fresh spring rolls half the size, half the meat, and bursting with flavor, and the tom yum soup I got had at least twice the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves westerners normally get. He did forget that critical question of "how hot?"

That's okay, I know what sliced bird's-eye chilis look like, and how to pick them out. It was glorious!

Monday, February 3, 2014

sick, I am

Apparently Yoda had laryngitis, because after I croaked out the information that was absolutely needed today...

Well, higher management was making noises suspiciously like giggling, and contributing radio traffic like "After the input from Dagoba, there, the Death Star has decided..."

...yeah. Fortunately, higher was also pretty good at working with me today on "I've got X,Y, and Q under control, Z will take care of itself until the boss between us gets back, So-and-So already has a heads-up that he may need to fill in for me, so when you can spare him from critical task F, just pull him. I go see the doc now, and not coming back till I'm well."

I have good management. Though, higher has the funniest face when they come out of a blind corner, so I don't see them until after they've heard me say "Someday my prince will come, and he'll be bearing ten thousand rounds of 22 Mag..."


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Good Books - detective noir flavor

Are you in the mood for some human wave fiction - stuff where the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and navel gazing or humanity-is-awful is prohibited? Here's some good stuff by authors I know and like, whom you might not have run into yet.

If you're in the mood for the love child of Dashiel Hammett, Larry Correia, and Jim Butcher, try Pixie Noir by Cedar Sanderson.

It's got all the gritty detective feel of a detective noir film - except the PI's a pixie, who's paid to bring a lost faerie princess to court. Said princess lives in rural Alaska, rides snowmachines, is proficient with a shotgun, and has no inclination to go anywhere with a stranger...

As for the authenticity of detail and the level of humor, Cedar lived out close(ish) to Tok. This is a woman with an impish sense of humor, a motherly eye for knowing when trouble's about to get disastrous, a steady hand on the shotgun, and a deeply shared appreciation of the awesomeness of indoor plumbing.

Want more detective noir, heavily leavened with humor that's about as non-PC as you can get? Try Dave Freer's Bolg PI series. Some of you may know Dave already from his Baen work (Rats, Bats, and Vats - a darkly humorous look at cloning soldiers in the future, and culture clashes.)

Start with Bolg, PI: Away With The Faries

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds this restricts him to oddball clients. In this his first case, a wealthy fruitcake who want to dance with the fairies. Most PI's would do their best to avoid this because they know there are no fairies. Bolg would like to avoid it because he knows the fairies too well, and they're mean.

(Includes a magician who charms feminists into doing his ironing, and the PI thinks the pub's sausages are organic - after all, they probably have organs in them... Yeah, that kind of book.)

Dave Freer is another former South African who, instead of moving to the USA like Calmer Half, moved the family to Flinders Island, Tasmania, where he homesteads, dives for lobster, and hunts wallaby for dinner. He also writes YA steampunk, and helps me tease my husband by reminiscing about food from home not available elsewhere. (Calmer Half is currently counting coup by having found an intermittent source of Mrs. Ball's Chutney.)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

new word, auntie?

Once upon a time, an aunt who shall remain nameless and blameless was driving a small female niece somewhere when another car cut her off. Said aunt worked in construction, and was prone to road rage. She sucked in an angry breath, and inflated with rage. "YOU...."

At which point, a high, clear voice perked up from the small child in the passenger seat whose head barely peeked above the windowsill (No, Auntie didn't believe in car seats, either.) "New word, auntie?"

...such trouble, such danger, such a bright and precocious little pitcher, ready to parrot anything her favorite Auntie may say!

"COW!"

"Cow, Auntie?" Somebody was puzzled.

"Yes, cow. It's a very British insult." Auntie nodded firmly, with a grave dignity.

"Cow!"

... so now, I have learned another New Word. Well, it was actually a phrase, muttered with all the force of a swear.

"Damnyankee weather!"

As in, "When's this damnyankee weather going back north where it belongs?"

It boggles my mind that I live in a place where one expects to simply be able to wait out winter by staying home for a day or two, instead of learning to cope, or dress for it, or drive in it... and it's true, they don't need to. Snow is gone within four days for a historic cold! Culture shock all over again, I tell you. And New Word.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Note to Self - Thai Food Is Hot

So, when going to a little hole in the wall Thai restaurant where the gentleman behind the to-go buffet at the front and the waitress are clearly Thai, and the appetizers are not being recorded on the notepad in any western script...

Do not accidentally order a dish, with nearly-correct Thai pronunciation, that is a variation not on the menu.

If you do, and realize it when the waitress looks at you in surprise and says "Oh! Yes! We can make that, too!", the first thing to do is hastily apologize, and say no, you'll be pleased to eat whatever the cook wants to make, your apologies.

Realize, the cook is going to bring the dish out, and the main entree, and that when the main entree comes out, the "mild" you asked for is going to be Native-Thai-mild, not American-mild. Smile, eat the dish, try to pick out the shaved slices of thai bird chilis, and declare it perfect. Because it's your fault for absentmindedly letting the very nice waitress assume you know enough about the culture and food to be able to handle the culture and food.

So, remember, self!
Tom Yung Koong is tom yum soup with shrimp. That is what Siam Cafe offers. Tom Yum Gai is with Chicken. Do not order tom yum gai if it's not on the menu, or be prepared to sniffle and sweat through your "mild" Koong Pad Ped! (red curry with shrimp and veggies)