Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Texas Scotch Eggs

Scotch eggs are a delightful thing - not only can they be made to satisfy keto, but they're an excellent way of stretching expensive meat by wrapping it around a cheaper egg. The latest round I've made includes a handful of this and a handful of that from the garden, which makes it even more rewarding for me. Like meatloaf, you can change the ingredients every time and still get a good meal.

12 eggs for boiling
1 more egg for the meat mix
1 pound country sausage
1 pound hamburger
1 tbsp lemon zest (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried, to taste)
1 thai pepper, seeded and diced fine
1 handful sage leaves, diced (or 1-2 tsp dried, to taste)
1 tsp mesquite-smoked salt

First, hard-boil eggs. Easiest to put them in a pan with cold water, heat it to a rolling boil, then take off the burner, put a lid on it, and let sit for ten minutes.  Then drain hot water, add cold, and let sit so they cool to non-burning temperatures. Repeat as necessary.

Second, peel the eggs. Easiest if you get a paper plate lined with paper towels, and a teaspoon out of the silverware drawer. (Yes, the eating kind of teaspoon, not the measuring kind.) Roll the egg on the counter until the shell has cracked into several portions, then flip the spoon over so the curve of its bowl matches the curve of the egg, and work it underneath the shell. This will allow you to lift and peel away large amounts of sheel much easier than picking it it with your fingers. Rinse each egg to remove any tiny shell fragments, and let dry on the paper plate.The dryer your eggs are, the less slippery they'll be.

Third, preheat the oven to 350 F. Set out a baker's half-sheet or two cookie trays, lined with aluminum foil or silicone mats for easy cleanup.

Fourth, chop the herbs and toss into a large mixing bowl, crack the egg into the bowl, and then add the spices and the meat, and mix thoroughly. I don nitrile gloves and mix by hand, because then I can just move on to step 5... and no sausage under my fingernails.

Fifth, divide the mixed meat in half. (Just ram your fingers down the middle of the bowl to make equal halves.) Then divide again, so it's in quarters. Given you have 12 eggs to cover, this means each lump must cover three eggs. Scoop out roughly 1/3 of a lump, and form it into a ball in one hand. Then mash that ball flat with the other hand. pick up an egg, place it in the center, and wrap the meat around it. You may need to squish the sausage mix around some in order to get even and complete coverage. Put the meat-covered egg on the cooking tray.

Sixth, pop the meat-covered eggs into the oven for 25 minutes. 20 will probably do, but I like 25. Pull out very carefully, realizing you're going to have a puddle of grease in the bottom of your tray(s). Stick the tray on the stove burners to cool down.  If you want, you can make the mustard sauce to go with them.

Mustard Suace

1 egg
1 cup mayo
1 Tbsp ground mustard, or 1/4 cup prepared mustard
a couple of strips of sundried tomato (optional)

Mix everything but tomato in a saucepan, then bring to simmer, stirring frequently. As soon as bubbles start poking up (or the sauce dramatically thickens), you're done. Remove immediately from heat, and pour into a bowl to serve. Garnish with sundried tomato strips.

Work well served hot, or served cold.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why does getting better hurt so much?

At the rehab center's gym this morning, I was working away at the weight-machine and corestix portions when I observed a bunch of elderly folks toddling toward the yoga studio room. Good for them!

Then I went to do my free weights, and discovered that the ladies and gents had taken off with all one the one, two, three, and four-pound weights (except one lonely one-pound weight sitting abandoned at the bottom of the rack.)I gulped, and looked at my discharge instructions. Well, they do say "increase weight as condition improves." So I picked up the five-pound dumbells, and proceeded to try to do two my two sets of ten in every range of motion with them.

Oh, my stars and garters. Ow. That felt almost like I was back in the beginning of physical therapy. On the other hand, it wasn't actually injurious, and perhaps I had been taking it a little too easy...

I'm now lying on the couch, trying to decide if I'm a masochist or just really well trained by a succession of physical therapists. Because I know when I next go to the gym, I'm going to do that again.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bacon-wrapped stuffed dates

I had these, many years ago, as an appetizer for a chef's tasting menu. Since then, I've been looking for the best recipe to recreate 'em, and I"ve pretty much found it.

A few notes:

1. Pick a mild, soft blue cheese. Stay well away from anything crumbly, or "salad-ready". In fact, if you really can't abide blue cheese (though you may be surprised, when it's in this), then a Camembert, brie, or Gorgonzola will work as well.

2. Use medjool dates. No, really. They're juicier, taster, and... as they're larger, they're easier to work with. Easier is better. And get the ones with pits; they're jucier, and you're gonna be cutting them in half anyway.

3. Find the bulk-bin nuts section for your slivered almonds. You can get twice as much as you need for a half to a a third of the cost of buying 'em pre-packaged. And given that you're going to be using roughly a quarter of a cup... we're talking spending 75 cents here, not $3.50 for a fancy package

Blue-cheese  & almond stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates.

32 Medjool dates (just get a pound, and save the money, get the ones with pits in.)
1 small wedge soft blue cheese (Somewhere around a cup?)
1 pound thick bacon.
1/2 cup slivered almonds (You won't use it all, but you won't run out.)
Pepper grinder
Mesquite-smoked salt (optional)

Cut each date open lengthwise, and pull out the pit. The tray on which you're going to cook these is a great place to store the split-open dates - and if you have a silicone sheet, it makes cleanup so much easier!

When you've gotten all your dates de-pitted, wash all the sticky off your hands and the knife. Now, drop 2-3 pieces of slivered almond in each date (4 for the really big ones, 1 for the really small ones.) Cut the cheese into small chunks, and then stuff each date & close it back up. (Soft cheese makes it easy to adjust the amount needed to the size of the date, and stuff the rest in the next date down the line.) You're aiming to have no empty space, and no cheese oozing out.

Wash all the gooey off your hands and the knife, and put away the rest of the dates, blue cheese, and almonds. Come back, and place about the number of toothpicks you need on the cutting board, plus a couple extra. (You're about to have raw-meat hands, and don't want to contaminate the jar.) Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Open the bacon package, and cut the chunk of bacon into thirds. (The original recipe called for quarters, but that's just fussy, finicky, and more bacon is better.) Then, wrap each stuffed date with a piece of bacon, and secure with toothpick. Place on baking sheet when done.

When finished, wash the grease and raw meat off your hands, then grab your pepper grinder and add a dusting of pepper to the top of the bacon, followed by a light sprinkle of mesquite-smoked salt. (If you're grilling, skip the salt, keep the pepper.) Pop tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Put away the tiny bit of leftover bacon, clean the knife and area thoroughly. You're now ready to make the rest of dinner and there's only one cutting board and knife that need washing.

When the appetizers are done, give them 5 minutes of resting time so nobody burns their mouth. Or, you know, let the appetizer-snatcher beware. Can be served cold, but better piping hot.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gardening in Texas

Ah, Texas. I just had one of the contractor's guys ask very, very politely if he might have a few of the Thai Peppers growing outside my back door. Please, ma'am. Might I have 4? I didn't grow any this year...

The pepper plants are, ahem, prolific. I happily gave some away (they're still unripe and green, but they're already hot.)

And then a friend brought a sprig of catnip with her to dinner. Kili is now ensconced on a chair where the kitten can't get at her easily, sitting on her catmint, stoned as can be.

She also brought her latest round of plotting for the extra back yard I have... perhaps a trellis shaped like a quonset hut, for squash and melons, convertible to a hoop house for some things like citrus that can't take the coldest parts of winter? And what do I think of a fig tree? Or pallet gardening?

...I think these plans are more than my remaining shoulder and knee can handle. But together, together we can take on the world! Muahahaha!

(Okay, the world of gardening. In north texas. in our yards. Take on, at least. Conquering remains to be seen...)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


I love hot running water. I have turned down jobs that were off-grid, because I did not want to live without hot running water, refrigeration, and electricity.

I have been out of Alaska for... six years, now? Still feels like just the other month.

I have been in Texas for a little over a year.

I have just finished a long, hard, hot morning of yardwork. And taken a lukewarm shower. And for the first time in my life, I liked it lukewarm instead of hot.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fat Head Pizza

Sarah Hoyt recommended the Fat Head pizza crust recipe to me, as low carb and yet tasty. I have to agree, this is the first pizza crust of the low carb variety I've run into that is actually as good as the wheat-based version.

One minor note: it's incredibly filling. I didn't have parchment paper, so I patted it out by hand on a silicone baking sheet into roughly a 9x11in crust. I loaded it up with toppings, hoping it'd be enough with a salad... and between Peter and myself, we had half a leftover pizza and leftover salad.

Definitely a keeper... and good enough for company! I loaded it up with straight tomato paste for the sauce, sauteed bell pepper & onion strips, chopped basil out of the garden, the last of the pepperoni in the fridge, and some sausage, then added a little oregano and plenty of mozzarella on top. The recipe called for 5 minutes more of baking, but I hit it with 30 seconds of broiling to give the cheese topping that proper touch of browning and faint blackening on the toppings that poked through.

Monday, June 5, 2017

One cookbook too many...

I like cookbooks; they're entertainment for me. For example, Gordon Nelson's Lowbush Moose (And Other Alaskan Recipes) is a wonderful collection of stories of places and people in Alaska, and the recipes that bring them to mind. The Rocky Mountain Wild Foods Cookbook neatly avoids the problem of so many other edible plant guides by providing ways to make what you find into a tasty dinner, not just a handful of munchies on a hike or survival "Eugh! This is why we domesticated all the alkalines out of our salad greens!" rations.

Hank Shaw's Buck Buck Moose is an excellent collection of recipes to make hooved wild game delicious (and I like supporting him, after all the years he's put into more stories, ruminations, explanations, philosophies and recipes on his website.)

And then there's the cookbooks I go to often for recipes. The first is Prof Noakes' Real Meal Revolution, which is the fruit of two South African ultramarathoners taking on ketogenic lifestyle and cooking. The recipes are a healthy version of the food my darling man loves, and tasty enough it's worth the trouble of translating grams, Celcius, and courgettes into American english. Then there's Dana Carpender's 1000 low-carb recipes. (Best one-star review ever on Amazon: "This is just a compilation of all the best of her prior cookbooks!" Yeah, that sold me!) And Stephanie O'Dea's More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.

Unfortunately, I just got another cookbook... and when I went to put it on the shelf, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. The poor thing collapsed, and wiped out the next shelf down, flooding cookbooks and reference books everywhere across the floor. Just because it's going on 20 years old, and has been disassembled and reassembled across at least 4 moves...

Off to to our itty bitty town hardware store for some brackets, and busting out the cordless drill! (Itty Bitty Town's hardware store is staffed by a couple old guys who are masters of jerry-rigging, and a couple high school kids whose farm boy origins mean they're pretty possessing of clue despite their age. They can't compete with Big Box Store in the nearby city on price or selection, but they're masters at suggesting which duct tape and how to rig the bailing wire, and completely unflappable when someone comes in with pajama bottoms, bathrobe, and urgent need for some plumbing bit.) I cleaned them out of their inch and a half brackets, and couldn't resist a magnetic retrieval tool on the way out. (Vision of where a screw might end up with feline assistance were dancing in my brain.)

By the time my darling man and I were finished, both shelves aren't going to move until the entire structure gives way. And the cats only got a little stepped on. And... I reluctantly thinned out a stack of books I'm not going to re-read, and cookbooks I'm not going to use again because I've gotten the one or two good recipes I use memorized. (They're lovely books, but too high-carb for us, now.)

I shouldn't be eyeing the empty space and contemplating my next cookbook... but Hank Shaw's Duck Duck Goose is calling my name...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Peppers and Dill

Despite the title, that's not a recipe. The dill is doing most excellently - I think it's trying to bolt. So today's dinner included fresh dill and oregano in the tapenade-stuffed pork loin, and steamed carrots with a sauce of butter, lemon juice, and fine-chopped dill. I also made some refrigerator pickles - fresh-sliced cucumbers, peppers, and half a red-onion, all thinly sliced, with vinegar, stevia, salt, and some dill stuck in the fridge to marinate to itself overnight.

Dessert was dill free: cherry pie and black walnut ice cream.

Meanwhile, I have little tiny thai peppers growing. I've never seen the skinny little peppers grow before, and was surprised and amused to find that after the flower is pollinated, the petals don't drop off. Instead, they become a wrinkled brown crown on the pepper itself as it grows out from the base of the flower stem. I picked a few rings of dead flowers off peppers this morning, and it seems like they grew half an inch by evening. Spiffy!

The tomatoes, on the other hand, are strangely curly-leafed (I suspect it may be a blight or virus), and none of the flowers have turned into little green tomatoes. Win some, lose some!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lists, Plots, and cleaning.

Some people have a list of chores they need done, and mark them off as they are done. Some people have a list of chores done divided per day, so Saturday is laundry day while Wednesday is clean the bathroom day, or something.

Me, I needed more motivation than that. After the injury spent months grinding me down by staring at all the things that need doing and I couldn't do, I've started on a simpler track:

I do things, and make a list of what I have done.

I learned this from a writer, Dean Wesley Smith, who was talking about the artificial divide between pantsers (make it up as you go along, plotting by the seat of your pants) and plotters (have a detailed outline before you write the first word). Most authors aren't actually one or the other, he contends, and there's a wide range of folks who agree that their "plotting" ranges from six bullet points on a notepad that have to be accomplished by the story's end to writing the ending, and then figuring out how to get there, or building a plot, then writing scenes with characters, and as the characters do their own things by their own motivation, revising the plot.

Dean himself plots in reverse. That is, he'll come up with a title, and then write whatever comes to mind, in the style of a pure pantser - but when he's done with a writing session, he pulls out a notebook and notes down who the people are, where they are, and what they did in the scene. After every session, he'll add to that. And if he gets stuck, he'll pull out the notebook, look at the plot so far, and go "Ah! I haven't done anything with that character / plotline!" or "I need to flesh out that character arc." And that'll inspire him on how to go on.

I'm not that awesome. But I can clean in reverse: look around, pick something, and start cleaning. Then clean the next thing, and the next, noting them down as I go. The advantage is that I'm making a growing list of "I got this done", instead of failing to cross out a list of "need to do." So when I become one with the couch in a puddle of very tired and sore shoulders, I can feel accomplished at everything I managed instead of frustrated at what I didn't do.

Hey, works for me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


For the last few months, OldNFO has been tossing a chapter at a time to us when we come over for dinner (and sometimes, bringing a revised or new chapter when he comes over for dinner.) The story is awesome, even if it's, in his inimitable way, something completely tangential to most Military SciFi right now. Even better, it's now out for sale!

Remember when he had a maintenance tech get stranded because he was too busy setting up the illegal still to notice the evac order? If you don't, he's got the story up for free right now:

But yeah, same universe - this time, it's the story of a medically retired ground-pounder who just wants to get to a nice little backwater planet and live a quiet retirement.

Things never work out that way.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tapenade-stuffed Pork Loin

Sams club had artichoke-olive tapenade. It looked nifty, and we were tired and hurting, so it ended up in our cart. (Grocery shopping when hurting is like grocery shopping when hungry; pain definitely erodes my impulse control.) So I was looking at it, and wondering what the heck one does with tapenade besides putting it on baguettes.

Turns out, it's good stuffed into pork loin. I added a little roasted garlic to the jarred mix, and then used about a cup of tapenade on four pounds of butterflied pork loin. (two 2-pound chunks.) Then I coated the top and sides of the pork loin logs with bacon, and secured them with kitchen twine.

See here for a pretty good idea of how I prepped the pork loin.

One difference: on top of the bacon, I sprinkled mesquite-smoked salt from Amarillo Grape & Olive. Excellent stuff, and makes up for a distinct lack of charcoal and fire.

Because I don't have a grill, I preheated the oven to 425 F, and cooked them for 40 minutes, then rested them for 10 minutes covered loosely with aluminum foil before carving.

Served with coleslaw and dessert of French silk pie, and everyone was happy. Even LawDog, who failed to object fast enough and got tasked with the twine-cutting and carving. (I distrust myself around sharp objects when past a certain level of tired, and have wonderful friends who don't mind stepping into the breach and making sure everything happens without blood or bandaids.)

Good stuff. Even if you haven't had jars of tapenade end up in your grocery cart, try it out!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Low Carb Coleslaw

Or, what to throw together as a side dish to tapenade-stuffed pork, barbeque, or pepperoni pizza chili.

Low Carb Coleslaw

2 bags pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 red onion, quartered and then thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt

Mix together, cover, chill for an hour. It won't look like enough dressing at first. Mix again well; the dressing will have pulled water out of the cabbage, onions, & carrot shreds, and made the whole thing much creamier. Serves 8.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Low Carb French Silk Pie

I promised Phlegmmy that I'd compile a recipe that I've drawn from three different sources, so here goes:

Low Carb French Silk Pie

1-1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients, add melted better and vanilla. Mix into a ball of dough. Press into pie plate in roughly even depth and up the sides a little, bake for 12 minutes. Let cool. (Takes longer than you think to cool; start this early.)


16 oz cream cheese, room temperature (2 boxes)
4 Tbsp sour cream
4 Tbsp butter, melted (half a stick)
1/4 cup truvia (or other stevia blend)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp truvia (for whipping cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract (for whipping cream)
1 Tbsp brandy (Van Der Hum, or Blackberry brandy. For the whipping cream.)

Put cream cheese, sour cream, butter, 1/4 cup truvia, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and salt in bowl. On low speed, mix everything together until very well blended, and then beat a little faster to aerate. Rinse off beaters. Check crust - if still hot, pop into fridge to cool off.

In separate bowl, mix whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and brandy until stiff peaks form. Break out a spatula and gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate batter a third at a time, until the whole mix is creamy, fluffy, and well-mixed. Then scoop into pie crust, and smooth off the top.

Refrigerate - if you're making more than a few hours ahead, cover. Otherwise, just chill and enjoy.

The crust is an a variation on an excellent crust here: Wicked Stuffed
with chocolate and cinnamon added a la here: CJ Eats Keto
The filling is drawn from here: Ruled.Me

As a note: cocoa powder (and stevia) are bitter. One of the main functions of salt in cooking is to remove bitterness. Many cooks (and recipe creators) don't realize this, and instead try to overwhelm the bitter with sweet. If you're looking to cut sugar (and expensive sugar substitutes), the first thing to do is look at your ratio of bitter ingredients to salt to sugar. In this case, I have removed the sugar from the crust entirely by adding salt, and cut the sugar in the filling in half by adding a teaspoon of salt. The people eating the pie didn't miss the extra sweetness at all; they liked the pie just as is.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Proud, fierce, independent cat

Kili is a loving cat... from two feet away. She likes to be on the arm or back of the couch when I'm sitting on it, or curled up on the other side of the bed when I'm sleeping and Peter's already up. If I'm on the treadmill desk, she's ignoring me in the windowsill nearby.

Every now and then, on her terms, she likes actual contact; she'll climb on my chest, purring, in the middle of the night and settle in happily. Or she'll claim my lap, and I'm just supposed to move my laptop elsewhere and let her sit... but if I try to pet her, I get this look from her, and she vacates to out of touch range. (She's a pre-owned cat from the shelter. Like many pre-owned cats, she has issues.)

But last night, we had a front stall out over the Red River, and the bedroom was brightly lit with almost continuous flashes of lightning. I realized this when I woke up to the light and noise... and found a cat welded between my hip and Peter's side, underneath both our arms. Purring frantically.

Yep, proud, fierce, independent cat... until scared, and then it's all in on finding a way to be practically hiding underneath her humans, where they'll protect her.

Cats really are little women in fur coats!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Way Up North has moved!

If you haven't seen a post from Rev Paul lately, and were wondering where the daily life in Alaska, meditations on Scripture, and Unalaska Police Blotter reports went, he's now at:

If you're not reading him already, go forth and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When people love their job

This morning, I was at the rehab center's gym, faithfully grunting, wheezing, and trying not to whimper as I'd made up my mind that today I was going to get through every single exercise on the discharge instructions list, at full weight, full reps, full time.

Side note here: North Texas Rehab has a gym area and a pool, and they've opened both up to the public as regular gym memberships. I think this is awesome business sense, because it lets them recoup cost for all the expensive machinery and pool maintenance - and in the therapy sense, because it lets clients continue working on the same machines and routines when they graduate to self-directed. Wish more places did that!

While I was contemplating the levels of sheer stubborn bloodymindedness the dumbbell exercises were taking, one of the older physical therapists was gently coaching an elderly lady through exercises nearby. She finished before me, and tottered her way out the door with a "Well, young man, I'm certainly glowing today!"

The therapist turned back to me just as I was collapsed on top of a yoga ball inbetween planks, and said "You doing all right?"

I lifted my head until I could see him, and summoned up a smile. "Yeah. Just following all my discharge instructions," and I twitched a hand at the form, "So I don't end up back in physical therapy."

He looked heavenward, raising two fists and pumping them. "Yes!!!" Then he looked back at me with a grin that pretty much showed all his back teeth. "The ones you're doing are great exercises. You'll get a lot stronger in no time."

I nodded, slightly dazed, and blinked a few times as he left the gym area. Then I finished the next set, and remembered that physical therapists are not unlike airplane mechanics: they rarely get to see the things they put so much work into actually doing well and working great. Apparently, I have made his day by proving that at least one client follows instructions, and is putting in the sweat labor to continue getting better.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes

The recipe for this one is simple: preheat oven to 400 F. Slice top off tomatoes, scoop out innards with a spoon & discard. Turn upside down on a paper towel to drain while you make tuna fish salad the way you like it, and slice the cheese to cover the tops.

(Mine included tuna, mayo, diced celery, thinly sliced green onion, a little mustard, some cajun seasoned salt, and chopped parsley from the garden.)

Turn tomatoes back over. Spoon tuna fish salad into tomatoes, place on baking pan(I used a silicone baking sheet for low-mess cleanup), and top with cheese slices. In my case, I turned a couple pointy tomatoes that wouldn't stand up straight over and smooshed in the pointy end, or sliced it off with a sharp knife so they'd stand up straight.

Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your tomatoes. Let cool a couple minutes, so the cheese doesn't burn your mouth. Enjoy!

Two out of two cats agree that I'm the most popular woman in the house right now, as the scent of hot tuna wafts out of the oven.

Original recipe here:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Duke Elegant and AvCanada

Sometimes things slip away into the dusty archives of the internet, and sometime they're lost and only 404's remain to mark their passing. For everyone who loves flying, let me pull back the curtain and show you some tales that were saved, when an old aviator found a message board and started swapping some "been there, done that"s you'd normally never hear anywhere that regulators and busybodies could ask questions.

Armed with the anonymity of an internet handle and a diagnosis of cancer that cleared off the last care he could have given, he started telling stories. The board is gone, (upgraded), but the stories have been saved.

I give you: Duke Elegant, and the big chill.

The intro:

The rest of the pages are here:

and finally wrapped up at Tales of a Wayward Aviator

Read 'em all. There's a bit missing here and there (sad to see the nose art from the firebombers is missing, now), and it's a strange form to see archived instead of reading as they came out, but what's left is worth reading, and passing on.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rules for When to wake up the husband

Daddybear has an excellent (funny and true!) list for when it is and is not appropriate to wake up your husband...

For a taste:

1. Do not wake up your husband for inclement weather until the dude on TV is telling folks five miles from your house to get in the basement.
2. Do wake up your husband when you hear something that may or may not be a home intruder, large critter on the porch, or ghost.
3. Do not wake up your husband for a sick child until the child tells you it is sick. That is, of course, unless said sprog is an infant, in which case neither of you will be asleep anyway.
4. Do wake up your husband if the child announces said malady by spewing like a shaken can of cheap beer.

for the rest,
Go here, enjoy!

Read the rest, and tell me, what other rules would you suggest?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Italian-stuffed poblanos

This recipe started with the wicked stuffed blog's version, but I ran into a couple problems. First, banana peppers aren't in season in early April in Texas, so... poblanos. Also, doesn't take as much stuffing as they call for.

Italian-stuffed Poblanos

2 pair nitrile gloves (optional, but makes handling cut peppers and seeds so much easier!)
10 Poblano peppers
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs mild country sausage
1 onion
2 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch red pepper
pinch garlic powder
2 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 cup wine
8oz shredded mozzarella
1 cup marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Don gloves, and set out two baking sheets with either silicone baking mates or aluminum foil
Pour olive oil into a bowl you can reach into to get oil all over your hands (but don't oil up yet.)
Cut off tops of poblanos & deseed.
Oil hands, and rub down the outside of the poblanos.
Put knife you used in the sink, then remove gloves & throw away.
Bake pobalos for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sausage over medium heat. Add fennel seeds, black & red pepper, cook until browned. Add onion & salt (if you think it needs salt, cook until onions translucent.
Add herbs de provence, and deglaze the pan with the wine.
Set sausage mixture aside to cool.

When peppers come out of the oven, let cool until merely warm to the touch.
Don second pair of nitrile gloves, open cheese packet.
Cut each poblano in half, then strip out the pith and seeds you missed earlier.
Lay poblano halves back on baking sheets, skin down.
Crumble the sausage & onion mixture even finer if needed, and heap onto peppers.
Layer cheese on top of sausage mixture. Toss gloves, have still clean hands.

If you let everything sit to room temperature, pop trays back into 350 oven for 5 minutes or so. If not, skip this step.
Turn on broiler, and broil peppers until the mozzarella is bubbly and browning. Swap baking trays & broil other one, too.
While broiling, stick marinara sauce in microwave on reheat power, stopping to stir occasionally, until steaming hot.

Serve marinara on side with ladle, and trays of peppers laid across the burners on the stove, with a spatula. Is tasty, not fancy.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Biting off more than I can chew

I'm about to graduate from Physical Therapy. Unfortunately, I already know this song and dance: I'm not 100%, I'm just to the point where I don't need to be supervised in order to safely get there. I know the exercises, I know the routine, I have the equipment... go forth and get the last 10% back, and better tan that, on my own time.

Sadly, my brain still wants to say "You're 100%! You're graduating! You should do ALL THE THINGS! And do them now!"

Well, I can get the bathrooms cleaned, three loads of laundry folded (and two more washed), and dinner made. But I can't get those last two loads folded, and even dinner's going to require a while on the couch recuperating before I get up to tackle the last stuffing the peppers and sticking them in the oven bit.

Our writing group is going low carb. This is awesome, because it means I get to try out low carb recipes that are just far, far too much work for two people. This is a whole lot more work than my shoulder likes, because I'm using it as an excuse to learn the dark arts (chemistry and physics) of low-carb baking.

Today's recipes will either be wonderful or be the kind of disaster that sends us out to a nearby restaurant. Among other things, I figured out that the "lemon custard" for the tart was really just a sweetened hollandaise sauce... right as it split on me. Thank goodness for the internet, because I'd clean forgotten how to repair split sauces!

now I just need to mop the kitchen and dining room, vacuum the couch and cat tree (Maine coon kitten - when it comes to shedding, he's definitely the malamute of the cat world!), mow the back lawn, clean the place up, fold the last two loads of laundry, and...

Maybe I'll just sit here and have some tea.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Relearning the basics

It's a truth and a truism that you don't necessarily go to experts to learn the very basics: if you want to learn to paint, you'd better learn a bit about gauche vs oils vs watercolor and what brushes, or brushstrokes, do what, much less how to mix pigments, etc. before you do a class with Franzetti, Whelan, De Royo, Sam Flegal, or Melissa Gay.

This is because experts at doing are much in demand to do instead of teach, so their teaching time is limited and best saved for going from good to really good and need a lot of practice with the new techniques you just learned, eh?

Except... (there's always an except) When you learn from someone who's very good at what they do, and they're taking the time to start at the utmost basics, you can learn a heck of a lot faster because you get to skip a lot of guesswork, learning wrong, and having to unlearn the wrong way in order to relearn the right way.

And a surprising amount of what goes wrong at the mid level, preventing you from getting to great, has to do with needing to go back and fix / perfect the basics.

I've been lucky, or unlucky, enough to receive basic flying instruction in several different environments, from Palo Alto to Alaska Oklahoma to Appalachia. This was partially a function of running out of money for instruction before achieving the license several times, and partially a function of relearning after physical therapy. When your muscles no longer pull with the same amount of force or pressure that you used to have, it's a good idea to go over the basics of how much push, pull, turn, and twist to do before you get into a tight spot where you really need the airplane to do what you think you told it to do.

I like the crusty old curmudgeons, the quiet guys in the battered ballcaps, because the experience they can impart and the standards they hold me to are priceless. Each one had something different to teach me, and some extra experience to learn, over and above their local knowledge. Some things I learned in offhand comments in conversation would later save my life, or prevent me from getting into a fix that required greater skill than I had to get out of.

Now I'm back in physical therapy (and I'm probably going to pick up a local flight instructor when I'm done, at least for an hour or two.) But I'm tackling another physical sport... shooting.

Now, my dearest darling husband wisely absented himself from teaching me, because husbands teaching wives is... fraught. But OldNFO and LawDog consented to drag my carcass out to the firing line, and start with the very basics: stance, grip, how to carry the gun on and off the range, where to focus, how to sweep the safety off, etc.

Those two gentlemen are very good shots. OldNFO is an extremely patient teacher. And I... I try to be a good learner. Tell me what you want, and I'll do my best not to have to be told twice. (Though I inevitably miss some things on the first round. I aspire to make different mistakes, instead of the same ones over and over!)

Now, when LawDog is demonstrating where my elbows should be when carrying the pistol, in order to make maneuvering in the stack and fighting a hostile who's going for the gun easier... Yeah, that's the thing with learning from experts. Their tangents are fascinating, even when your skill level is nowhere close to being able to apply it.

Like Paul Claus muttering about having to rock the floats for a curving takeoff on glassy water, because the suction with no waves will increase the drag and lengthen your takeoff run significantly otherwise. Or... shoot, I don't remember which author it was now, but explaining that writing to length was a matter of writing the story, then if you needed to pad 10-20 thousand words, you added another character, 20-30K another subplot, and if you needed to cut, see prior. Or Mr. Buckland noting that boredom kills, so if you're likely going to get stuck under a slow-moving low pressure front, make sure you have a good thick book you wanted to read and some handicrafts in the plane. "I think I'll go see if I can make it" is the cause of a lot of heartache.

But make sure you get the basics down first.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Getting better

I know I'm getting better when the symmetrical physical therapy exercises are a challenge to the uninjured side of the body, too.

...or more out of shape? Um, let's stick with getting better. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Low carb flan

Still working on the syrup at the bottom, but I've got the proportions worked out for the custard.

Syrup: next time I'm trying
1 Tbsp Truvia powder
1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 Tbsp water

1 cup cream
1 cup half & half
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp truvia

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Find a pie plate that fits inside a baking dish.

To make syrup: combine ingredients in bowl.
Spray pie pan with nonstick cooking spray & pour mixture in.
Microwave on half power for 4 minutes.
Place pie pan in large baking dish.

To make custard:
Whisk together all ingredients, and pour over syrup in pie plate.
Place baking dish on oven rack, trying not to slop custard over the side.
Add water to baking dish, trying for up to the level of the flan, but not in danger of slopping over on the oven bottom or in the pie tine when you put the oven shelf in so it can bake.
Bake for 45 minutes or when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (65 minutes on my last try.)

When finished, if you turn the sink into a room-temperature water bath and plunk the flan in it, it'll cool quickly. Otherwise, let cool however and cut into eighths. Serve with clotted cream for pure decadence.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spell check problems

Alma and I had a hilarious conversation the other month, in which we pontificated upon the theoretical problems of spell check in a world where magic works, and auto-correct might try to substitute shrubbery wrath (like the shining) vs. Shub Niggurath...

She now has the result up for free on her blog! Go forth, and giggle!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The real interesting part...

So, over at a friend's tonight, and he had the Oscars on.

One of us was definitely watching for the costuming. I kinda was, too, though I was playing "spot the costume mistresses fixing everything for photo ops."

But four of us were really playing "spot the security in tuxes." My goodness, that place was swarming with security! So we were counting the number of people in dove position, and spotting the security guy in tennis shoes instead of shiny black wingtips that aren't so good for hauling butt, and the security guy who clearly neither knew nor cared that his bowtie was askew... (I kept expecting a costume mistress to make him twitch by running up and fixing it, but the camera wasn't catching it.)

There were some celebrities there, too. I didn't recognize most of 'em, so they got labelled manbun-boy, concentration-camp-vampire woman, unhappy-child-bride, etc. But who cares about them, when there are costumes, costume mistresses, and security to watch?

Apparently appendix carry was really popular this year, because most of 'em weren't printing on the tuxes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


There are 17 muscles in the shoulder. The fall only bruised and irritated, inflamed, or pissed off 15 of them. Missed a perfect score by two!

And then I wonder why healing is taking so long... ah, well, time to do my physical therapy homework again. Will write more later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

In 6-quart slow cooker, assemble:

4 lb pork loin / pork butt (I used a quartered chunk of pork butt, defrosted)
1 jar sauerkraut
1 bottle beer
4 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium apples, chopped

Cook on low for 6 hours (or, if you're not sure it defrosted all the way through like me, I did high for 3 hours and low for 3 hours).

Serve with couscous and steamed broccoli (five minutes on the stove for one, five minutes in the microwave for the other).

It's not low carb. I'm cold, tired, and the rain's making my joints ache; it's perfect comfort food. Feeds 6-8, with ice cream for dessert. Eat, and enjoy the company of friends and a fire in the fireplace afterward.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rainy Days

I like rainy days. Somewhere along the way, rainy days became my internal signal of "Yay! A dedicated day to do all the housework chores, so they're all done when it's sunny and I can go fly / hike / enjoy outdoor life!"

So to me, rainy days smell of cleaners, and fresh laundry, and blasting good music all through the place.

(My husband is confused by this, but shrugs and just disappears into his writing.)

Unfortunately, this rainy day is frustrating, because I'm not healed enough to Clean! Everything!

Ashbutt is frustrated, too - here you can see him going "Where are my birds? There's rain hitting the window, but no birds!"

Some Beautiful Shots of Winter

Matt's updated his blog with some beautiful shots of winter flying in Alaska. Go check out what I ran away from!

And yeah, I don't miss pushing the planes around on ice, either...

Monday, February 13, 2017

A paen to starting rotary engines...

For everyone who's missed the lyrical and lovely writings of Brigid at Home on the Range, she's ba-ack! Not on her blog, which is still locked down post-troll-attack, but in a guest post at Borepatch's!

The ancients wrote that the great things to be seen are sun, stars, water and clouds. I think they forgot the round engine.

I have a fair amount of experience flying jets and as much fun as I had, I do have to agree - there is absolutely no mystery to a jet engine. The air travels through it in a straight line and doesn't pick up any of the pungent fragrance of engine oil, hydraulic fluid or pilot sweat.

The rules for the operation of a jet are basic. When I first had some beginning airmen to teach there was this preprinted poster with the "four forces of flight". Lift. Weight. Thrust. Drag. Each were represented by a drawing of a man. Someone, of course, drew a dress on Mr. Drag, which now would just get them sent to the corner for "sensitivity training". But it wasn't all that much harder to teach airmen gas turbine engine technology. I have kitchen equipment more complicated.

Go on! Go read it! You know you want to howl with laughter, especially if you've ever tried to perfect angling the clipboard so it deflects the oil spume from the DeHavilland Beaver's engine when you're adding more oil in flight!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Romance and Science Fiction

I know, I know. Ruminations on romance from a gal who's still tickled pink that her husband got her a Ruger Mark IV in steampunky bronze, and promptly declared it an early valentine's present. (Look those things are scarce as well-behaved kittens right now. I'm not fool enough to expect him to be able to find it right on St. Valentine's, and I didn't want to wait until the day to get it, either!)

I'm a woman. I like love stories in my fiction. I know, I know, a lot of y'all see the protagonist making puppy dog eyes and the gut reaction is just like the grandkid in The Princess Bride:

But I also grew up on Anne McCaffrey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton, and other Grand Old Dames of science fiction and fantasy, who believed in working love stories right in with the thrilling action. Who doesn’t enjoy fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles? Or Princess Leia and Han Solo's banter, in the middle of space battles?

Unfortunately, from the 80's on, I saw a lot of emo navelgazing gutting the SF&F romance, and then wearing its skin, calling itself by that name, and demanding respect. It allied with erotica and romance that picked up the barest trappings of SF and declared itself part of the genre without any of the love for the ideas, tropes, or fans. (They seem like a movie crew directed to the wrong set who throw on the costumes, shoot faithfully to their script without exploring anything they've found, and then declare that they must belong to the genre and frachise who were supposed to be there.) This inevitably leads to heartache and heartburn, and giving romance a bad name.

So I wrote the kind of book that I love to read, but have a very hard time finding anymore. It’s set on a colony trapped in a crater while the terraforming on their iceball is failing. While the two factions have temporarily ceased their running civil war and are pretending to cooperate in order to install a weather station that’ll warn them both of killing cold coming down from above, things are never as simple as they seem!

It’s got fighting and skiing, avalanches and intrigue, killing cold and uncovering old secrets, gunfights, true love and sacrifice…

Hope you like it, too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

South-Africanized Cheese and Onion Samosas

What do you do with a leftover cheese and fruit tray from Sams Club? Make samosas! Because then it's different enough it's a brand new dish, instead of trudging through leftovers!

Cheese and Onion Samosas, South-Africanly Spiced

2 medium sized yellow onions, finely diced

2 Tbsp Hatch Green Chilis, mashed (or jalapenos, if you like spicier)
1-1/2 tsp minced garlic
4 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or cilantro, if you like it)
4-5 cups cheese, chopped into tiny bits (or grated)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp garam masala
1-1/2 tsp chili powder

3 packets of puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten, for an egg wash.


Pull the puff pastry out and let it thaw.
Preheat over to 400 degrees F.
Crack eggs into a bowl, beat, and set by the chopping board.
Chop everything that requires chopping, dump in large mixing bowl with all other filling ingredients. Either stir with spoon or just put on a pair of non-powdered gloves and mix by hand.
Unfold puff pastry. cut on fold lines into 3 strips, and cut each of those into thirds, so you have squares of pastry. Roll  out each pastry square until it's roughly twice original size, and add egg was in a sealing strip to two sides.
Put filling in the middle, and fold the pastry over into a triangle packet, pressing to seal edges.
When baking tray is full (remember, these expand when baking), brush the top of dough with egg wash.
Bake for 20 minutes. Silicone baking sheets very helpful here, so it doesn't stick. Easiest to start one tray, pop it in, then start the next tray.
Pull out, let cool at least five minutes before eating.

Makes 27 samosas, which is enough to use up the cheese of the cheese tray. Feeds at least 5 adults with no appetizer or side dish. for the leftover fruit, toss any past saving, then half or quarter the rest (removing any stems from grapes and the green bit from the strawberries.) Add a tablespoon (or two) of rum, half a teaspoon of vanilla, and mix well. Let sit for half an hour to soak, then fold into whipped cream. Serve as dessert.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Male / Female Miscommunication, or, why does she say that?

This morning, I realized my husband was making noises very similar to many men when confronted with an obstinate / upset female of long acquaintance. And we talked about it, and after ruffled feathers were soothed, I realized this is probably one of those communication issues that confound many, many men and women over the years. So here, ladies and gents, is a translation guide.

On the surface (if there were a transcript.)

Female: Problem A exists.
Male: So, I'll fix Problem A.
Female: Two weeks ago, you failed to do Thing B.
Male: So? What's that got to do with unrelated Problem A?
Female: You didn't do Thing B!
Male: That doesn't matter. We're talking about A! And besides, I told you I'd get to B.
Female: Uh-huh. *frosty silence*
Male: What? I told you I'd fix Problem A. Why are you mad?
Female: Nevermind.
Male: ...So how 'bout them Sports Team?

Humans of both sorts, here's a full translation.

Female: It is bothering me that you have failed do anything about  Problem A, so I am now urging you to fix it, in the hopes that this will motivate you to immediately do something about the extremely obvious and irritating Problem A.

Male: Problem A exists? I did not realize this. I shall fix it, but because you have provided no coding of urgency or projected must-be-completed-by date, I shall assume it is low priority and get around to it within the next month. Or year.

Female: I do not trust your airy and overconfident promises. I have prior requested you do Thing B, and you have broken your promise to do anything about it, nor provided any explanation on why you could not do anything about Thing B. Therefore, I worry that you are obviously blowing me off, and just making soothing noises while ignoring my needs.

Male: Thing B has no bearing or relevancy to Problem A. I do not understand why you are bringing up other items on the low-priority schedule; Problem A will also go on the low-priority list and eventually get done. Yes, I still have Thing B on the list, along with Z, Q, V, and J. The list is growing shorter; I have fixed Problems and done Things S, F, H, and G for you within the last two months.

Female:  If I explain what relevance B has to A, namely your broken promise and my lack of trust in you, this shall become an acrimonious discussion. I do not with to have angry words with you; I desire Problem A to cease immediately. If I continue to press upon the importance of A, I shall be blown off as "nagging." This is a no-win situation, in which I shall be forced to continue to deal with A. And B. And Z, Q, R, T, U, V, X, I, J, K, L, M, N, O.....

Male: The female is angry. Why is the female angry? I have promised to do A. and B. Is it because they are higher priority than indicated? Who knows? Last time it appeared to be about unrelated situation C. Each time I attempt to clarify why she was angry, I get my head chewed off. Well, I shall try again, because I desire straightforward communication instead of problems.

Female: The male has decided that my concerns are trivial and unimportant. Nothing will change. I shall give up on ever getting Problem A fixed by him, and figure out how to deal with it on my own, while adding that to the broken promises and grievances list that shall eventually destroy our relationship. I have just lost even more trust and respect for my partner; this is a terrible day. I want a good cry and chocolate and Problem A to be solved, and I am not going to get any of those. I hate life.

Male: The female is very angry, and refuses to communicate why. Well, what can't be fixed must be endured. Let us change the subject, put whatever that was behind us, and enjoy the day. 

Lessons from the translation team:
Ladies, when you need Thing Done or Problem Fixed, provide a proposed deadline and the appropriate amount of urgency. If Problem of Thing is part of a multi-step process, explain that Thing 1 must be accomplished in order for you to deal with Problem 2, which has a deadline and urgency as follows. (Sometimes, your partner will find a different way to deal with Problem 2 that does not even involve Thing 1. Negotiate! Don't Demand! Recognize that he has his own priority tasks, and sometimes is counting on Thing 1 not changing state until Date 3.) Once you have ascertained the deadline, consider the matter dealt with. (Unless it's a long deadline, and then ask when is appropriate to check for periodic updates, as in, once a week or month. If you ask him and he tells you when to check in, it's not nagging.) Calendars help here.

Gentlemen, when your lady announces a problem exists or thing needs doing, request the urgency and the proposed deadline. Negotiate for a better deadline. If the urgency seems mismatched with the problem, ask leading questions like "Is Thing X blocking you from doing something else you want?" "Has Problem A recently gotten worse?" "Is there something coming up that will turn ignorable situation A into Massive Problem A?" Hopefully, this will help train your partner into providing this information on future problems.

Ladies, if you're certain that the gentleman has forgotten about items Q - X, this is the time to make a list of all the things you want. Include the urgency and proposed deadlines, and what goals you hope dealing with these will accomplish. Then put it aside until you're no longer frustrated and angry. Request that you two sync schedules, and ask him for a list of things he needs you to do. Explain you're trying to find a new way of avoiding the same stupid fight, and that you hope he will have patience as you two try this new thing out together. Then, when you're both full and happy, pull up your lists and calendars, and start negotiating. Don't be surprised if he's already done some things, and forgotten to tell you that they were accomplished. Don't be angry if he has forgotten something; we're all human.

And if you hear the words "You always" or "You never" come out of your mouth, SHUT UP IMMEDIATELY. Hold up a hand, apologize right away, and explain that you're getting emotional and need a moment to calm down so you can tackle this together. Trust me, he already knows... but the apology will do a lot of good.

Don't expect to get it all right on the first try, or even to get through all the items on the first try. Don't expect him to do everything you need right away. Expect that you may actually have to start to get somewhere, and then put it on hold and try again later. Communication and negotiation are learned skills, and they take practice. Keep trying, and it will get better.

Gentlemen, if she approaches you calmly with a list of things she needs help tackling, pick one you can do quickly to show that this is a much better way to approach life. As for the rest, realize it's not a list of unreasonable demands; it's a plea for help and an attempt at breaking the cycle of "Whatever!"

and last but most importantly:

Ladies: If you're engaged in Learning Task 123, and your gentleman has just reprimanded you for not doing Task X or demanded that you do Thing Y,  do NOT use Problem A or Thing B as a reply instead of "I don't trust you" or "I am worried that you are overlooking an issue from my perspective" or "Yes, I acknowledge that I am slow, uncertain, clumsy, forgetful, and may be doing something wrong, but I am feeling extremely embarrassed, belittled, patronized, uncertain, or scared. Or all of the above. Please stop making me feel this way, or at least allow me time to process and overcome these feelings."

Gentlemen: Get someone else to teach her Task 123. If you absolutely have to, when she brings up completely unrelated honey-do list items, realize this is her way of trying to provide a statement about her feelings and reactions that has nothing to do with the unrelated matter... but that she fears will be socially unacceptable to state baldly. Ignore the red herring, and after giving her a small breather in which you indicate calm, patience, and love, ask how you can help, and what's frustrating her with her learning Task 123.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ashbutt vs. The Door

Kitten is growing like a weed. He is now able to stretch up and put paws on both sides of a door handle, but hasn't quite gotten tall enough to get leverage. Yet.

When we first moved into this house, we put in lever-handles. The rationale was that they're easier than round knobs when your hands are full or one arm is in a sling. (My former housemates, when they read the last criterion, will nod and say something like "Of course D factored that in, right along with doorways wide enough to crutch through.")

We didn't anticipate maine coon kitten. To quote the great Credence Clearwater Revival: "I see a bad moon rising / I see trouble on the way..."

Have a picture of Ashbutt sleeping on the defeated corpse of his enemy: the formerly neatly arranged table runner. And yes, his tail is truncated: he chewed all the fur off the tip when he finally caught it after hours of chasing. Thankfully, Aurora taught me all about bitter apple spray when living with ferrets, so it's growing out again.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

So this is happening.

Never underestimate the power of a competent tech. 

When Annika Danilova arrived at the edge of the colony's crater to install a weather station, she knew the mission had been sabotaged from the start. The powers that be sent the wrong people, underequipped, and antagonized their supporting sometimes-allies. The mission was already slated for unmarked graves and an excuse for war...

But they hadn't counted on Annika allying with the support staff, or the sheer determination of their leader, Captain Restin, to accomplish the mission. Together, they will overcome killing weather above and traitors within to fight for the control of the planet itself.

Friday, January 27, 2017


Defrosting the deep freezer is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do. Yeah, not only does it involve finding things in the depths of the shelves that make you really glad you adopted putting month & year on vacuum sealed food, but also radically revising meal plans. "Huh. Since when do we have 8 pounds of cod? Apparently, since every time I wanted fish, bought frozen fillets, and didn't get around to cooking it."

Unfortunately, the extreme danger didn't come from "clean-the-freezer" inspired meal options, or dropping a rump roast or turkey on my foot (one, I caught before it fell and hit. The other, I dodged.) No, the danger came from the defrosting part. Specifically, the wet tile of the kitchen floor.

Physics is not your friend when the coefficient of friction goes away, and gravity asserts itself.Otherwise known as, I bounced myself off the counter, the stove, and the floor, with a failed attempt to arrest my fall resulting in landing badly.

After uncurling from a fetal ball of profanity, I grabbed an ice pack, woke up my husband, and asked him to drive me to the clinic. He did a brief check on what was and wasn't moving (and what produced high-pitched screams when poked), and took me to the ER instead.

Nothing's broken, as per x-rays. But I have a sling, some heavy duty painkillers, and when an ER nurse says, "Honey, you're going to have some spectacular bruising!" ...she's right. *sigh*

Meanwhile, I'm feeling rather apologetic toward the chaos I just caused the work schedule, and toward my husband, who got to finish the defrosting project. I'm also rather frustrated by the sling. (Not stupid enough to ditch it, though.)

Kili has decided that I'm hurting, so she needs to curl up on my legs and purr for hours. Ashbutt, meanwhile, has decided I'm home, so I must want to PLAY! When 10.8 pounds of kitten crashes into a very bruised shoulder as I'm lying on the bed...

Well, I've gotten a lot of sitting on the couch time in, instead of lying in bed and sleeping. I'd really enjoy all this downtime, if only I felt up to doing something fun with it.Ah, well. At least I'll have a job to get back to, and I have a husband who loves me and is determined to coddle me, and it wasn't worse. Thanks be to God it wasn't worse!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ashbutt is teething

Did you know that kittens have (and lose) baby teeth, just like humans?

When he started chewing on power cords, we suspected something was seriously wrong with his little fuzzy brain. When I found a tooth embedded in my yoga mat, we realized what the problem was.

Don't ask how I found it, what yoga position I was in, or just exactly with what part of my anatomy I found said embedded tooth. Just... don't ask, okay?


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pepperoni Pizza Chili, version 2.6

A friend of mine recently discovered she and cumin don't get along at all, digestively. So the question was floated: is it possible to do chili without cumin? Challenge Accepted.

Pepperoni Pizza Chili (feeds 6)

3 pounds ground beef
1/2 bottle of beer (yes, the other half is supposed to go in the cook) or red wine
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained (did you know they pack kidney beans in corn syrup?)
2 cans tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained (I used regular & flame-roasted)
1/2 bag frozen diced onion & bell pepper strips, or 1 onion + 2 bell peppers, diced
2 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper (skip if you use a can of rotel tomatoes)
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp garlic
1 pack pepperoni pieces, cut in thirds
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp smoked salt

Fills my 4-quart slow cooker to the top, so you may want to use a 6-quart slow cooker instead. Also, I like my chili thick enough to hold its shape when scooped out. If you like it thinner, don't drain the tomato juice from the cans, and put the rest of the beer in the crock pot instead of in the cook.

1. In batches small enough for your frying pan, brown the hamburger and fennel, black pepper, and red pepper. If you're not using a frozen stir-fry mix, saute the diced onion. Deglaze the pan with beer or wine (or water, if you don't have/want the alcohol.)

2. After dumping the ground beef in the crockpot (or inbetween batches), drain and rinse kidney beans. Add to crockpot.

3. Drain & add diced tomatoes. If you like it soupy, add without draining.

4. Add tomato paste, italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, and basil.

5. Add Worcestershire sauce and smoked salt. If you're using the frozen pepper & onion, add it now - if not, add diced green bell peppers.

6. Cut the pepperoni pieces into thirds, add.

7. Turn slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. At some point, wander by and stir the dish, so the pepperoni pieces get broken up and everything is evenly distributed.

Serve with a salad or coleslaw or something, and garlic bread if you can stand the carbs. Goes great with a cabernet sauvignon, and the company of good friends.

Friday, January 20, 2017

the little moments

So, my darling husband took me to a late breakfast this morning. It wasn't planned; we'd just gotten out to pick up plywood for some shelving, and sandpaper. When he offered breakfast since we were in town, I thought that sounded wonderful.

The place only had one TV on, and it was (thankfully) muted, placed high up over the kitchen area. I realized, after the waitress brought coffee (yay coffee!), that the TV was showing the inauguration. So I started adding commentary, like "Wait, they're doing the second verse of America the Beautiful? Oooh, burn!" My husband gave me an odd look, and I had to explain, "It's 'Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law'... and since when did the last administration ever believe in self-control, liberty, or following the law?"

He shook his head with a smile, and told me, "Let me know when they're swearing in Trump, so I can turn around and watch."

And when they finally started, Peter stood up and put a hand on the back of the booth, to watch the swearing in. Interestingly enough, other than the chefs busy cooking and the waitress who was taking an order, in the space of about three seconds, the rest of the kitchen and wait staff also all appeared to watch the TV. Nobody bothered putting the sound on; we just watched the closed-caption scroll past, and the oath take place. Then the speechifying started, and everybody turned their back on the bloviating and went back to work (or eating.)

Not that it wasn't a fine speech, but words are worthless. We'll see what this president does.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

farm cats are hardy critters

So, Ashbutt went off to the vet to get tutored.

When I picked him up, the surgery discharge instruction sheet had combine spaying and neutering, canines and felines. So the instructions included "If you let your pet outside to eliminate, keep them on a short leash" and "no energetic activity. No climbing or jumping. No running." etc.

The mental image of Ashbutt outside on a short leash was hilarious. But no climbing or jumping? I looked down into the wide, stoned eyes of anesthia-recoving kitten, and went, "Yeah, right."

The next day, the vet tech called to check on him. "How is Ashbottom doing?" (There's a nice older lady who works there who just can't bring herself to say "butt", so he's Ashbottom in their files. Eh, doesn't worry me, makes them happy, whatever.)

"Well, so far he woke me up by attacking the feet under covers, has chased springs all over the house, ambushed all ankles and the older cat multiple times, swarmed up the cat tree and knocked everything off the mantel, attacked any reachable hand, pounced on the older cat from the back of the couch, and that yowl and hiss you hear is the very cranky older cat up on the guest bed, trying to beat the stuffing out of him as he keeps reaching up and batting at her."

The vet tech finally stopped laughing, and said, "So he's doing fine."

"I'm pretty sure he... Ashbutt! Feet are for walking, not chewing on! Get off!" A pause, as I shook him off. "Go find a spring or something!"

"Yep, he's fine."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

There, not here

Writing on the myth that indies can only be successful writers if they're fast over at Mad Genius Club today.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Yay for the Hearing Protection Act!

In general, I'm not a fan of legislation. Every new law removes a piece of freedom for the law abiding, and generally does nothing to stop the law-breakers, as well as hitting us with unpleasant secondary side effects. 

In specific, there's one bill now being introduced that is almost 100 years overdue. The Hearing Protection Act, which will allow gun owners to buy mufflers for their guns without massive federal "we didn't ban this, we just made it almost impossible to get." Seriously, I know calling 'em "silencers" is the movie-logic thing to do, and calling 'em "suppressors" is the technically correct term, but what are they really? They're mufflers, just like on your car, your lawnmower, your neighbor's car... (except that one annoying kid who thinks that the louder it is, the cooler it is. He'll be seeing the audiologist by the time he's 30.)  

I've had the great fun of playing with guns that have mufflers. (C'mon, pedantic people. When I'm hanging out with a lady friend at the range, and we're giggling about boys, and airplanes, and planning whether to go hiking in the mountains next week or split cocktails and tapas depending on the weather forecast, it's playing. You can hold forth on "deadly weapon" all you want, but yeah, yeah, so's a butcher knife and I play with new recipes that require chopping all the time!)

When you combine electronic ear muffs with mufflers on guns, you get two amazing things: one, you don't have to deal with the concussive punch off some of the hand cannons, which makes them a lot more fun to shoot for a lot longer. Second, like many ladies, I find screaming stressful - even if I'm not angry. So if we don't have to scream in order to be heard for basic conversation, we're a lot more relaxed and happier. (And yes, chattier. See: Ladies.) 

Besides, have you seen my new Ruger Mark IV? It came with a threaded barrel, and really needs a muffler to balance out the whole black and bronze and steampunky design!

Fairfax, Va.— The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) applauded Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo on Wednesday for introducing the Hearing Protection Act, an important bill that eases restrictions on tools that help gun owners and sportsmen protect their hearing. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House (H.R. 367).
“The Hearing Protection Act would make it easier for sportsmen to purchase the tools necessary to protect their hearing,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “Many gun owners and sportsmen suffer severe hearing loss, and yet sound suppressors – a tool that can reduce such loss – are overly regulated and taxed.” 
The Hearing Protection Act, S. 59, would remove suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act, replacing the current process with a National Instant Criminal Background Check. In addition, the bill would reduce the cost of purchasing a suppressor by removing the $200 transfer tax.
 Suppressors are often mischaracterized. Unlike in the movies, they do not “silence” the sound of a firearm.  By reducing the decibel level made by a firearm to a safe range, suppressors reduce hearing damage for those who shoot and hunt.
S. 59 would make it easier for gun owners and sportsmen to purchase suppressors in the 42 states where they are currently legal. Purchasers would have to pass a background check prior to a sale.
“Gun owners and sportsmen should be able to enjoy their outdoor heritage with the tools necessary to do so safely. This bill makes it easier for them to do that,” concluded Cox.
Source: NRA Media
Hat tip to Old NFO!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thinning the Library

Step one: put out crates on couch.
Step two: remove cat from crate.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Basic Income's basic failures

My darling husband and I have quite a few points of disagreement, many of which come from having such different life experiences. Today, we ran into one of those, when the topic of Basic Income popped up. My husband noted it was an elegant solution, provided the governments involved did actually cut all agencies, bureaucracies, bureaucrats, and programs that currently are failing at the solution of providing for the lowest income.

I made a rather rude noise, and declared it an extremely stupid idea. He protested that it was an elegant one, when taken in isolation from all other considerations.

So is communism. Elegant, pretty, completely stupid and really deadly when you try to run it with real humans instead of angels... yeah, basic income is just as flawed in the concieving, because it fails to account for the fact that humans are human. My husband focused on the danger of an all-powerful governmental state, but I see that as looking past the fundamental problems, baked in from the beginning.

There are two fatal flaws for basic income - two is overkill, really, but it has both.

The first is economic reality: you cannot have welfare for all, and open borders. If you're handing out apartments and cars and cash to anyone who shows up, you get... well, the "refugee crisis" in Europe, where the third world is showing up for all the benefits, while demanding that it gets to keep the culture and beliefs that have kept the third world being the sewage-mud streets and failing kleptocracies that they are. Even with a bloody great ocean in the way, you get the same thing in the USA: tell people that we'll make illegal aliens citizens for free as long as they're under 18, and we get a flood of children sent by their parents from all over central and south America, to get citizenship and then bring them to the good life. Converting layers of bureaucracy to straight cash will only make this even more of an incentive for the rest of the world to move to the good life.

Given the sort of political affiliation that would drive through a basic income, please, try to tell me with a straight face that said party would implement basic income and harshly closed borders, with deportation of all illegals. Can you get through that sentence without breaking into eye-rolling or laughter?

The second is human reality: there are a great number of people who will only work just barely as hard as they have to, in order to get by. For all the people who've fallen on hard times, taken welfare, and then promptly gotten off when they've gotten their feet back under them, there are plenty more who've become a permanent drain on the system, now in their third and fourth generation of never having held a job.

Before you take that deep breath to call me a raciss and shut off your mind, let me show you a subset of them that transcends race, colour, creed, or religion: stoners.

Yeah, you tell your average stoner that they're gonna get a basic income, a flat, and a car... explain to me exactly what makes you think said stoner is ever going to decide (and carry through) becoming a productive member of society? Dude. That's whacked, man. Like, seriously! What are you smoking, and are you gonna share?