Monday, November 21, 2022

Well, that was a trip!

Was on the road for 10 days for a conference, and learned a lot of things. It's a good thing when I come back with at least a hundred hours of homework to do in order to dig into information and implement what I learned. Some of the panels, I was definitely behind on the power curve... and some, I was nodding along and going "Yeah, we already do that."

Then I went to lunch, and got propositioned and my bag got stolen.

I should explain. I met up with Kacey Ezell, who is an awesome person as well as good author, and a mutual friend of ours, whom I'll call B. We decided to go to a restaurant in the casino next door, where the ladies had a wonderful steak the night before. The easier way to get there from where we were was to actually go outside and get a little sunshine, while walking around the sidewalks of Vegas... something that none of us were eager to do alone. As we walked along the entry/exit drive to our hotel/conference center/casino, a car started pacing us and the driver calling out. I looked in confusion at him as what he was yelling made no sense. He didn't have any Uber markings, wasn't a taxi, so why was he calling for me to get in the car?

B looked at my confused face, and broke the obvious news to the slow one in the group. "He's propositioning you."

"Oh! It's been so long, I didn't recognize it!" (Middle age. It's a thing.) "No thank, you. I'm married!"

This did not discourage the man, who switched to imploring that he needed more of my big booty in his life, and other salacious requests. After we parted ways from where he could easily follow (with some muttering of unhappiness at the fact that none of us were carrying, and we all now regretted that decision), I looked at the other two ladies. "Great. Now I feel very self-conscious about the size of my ass. After five years of weightlifting, I may have done too many squats, presses, and rack pulls."

The response was a teasing grin. "Or maybe... you've finally done just enough!" (With friends like these...)

So lunch in the Very Nice Cafe proceeded apace, and all went well, until we finished off a baguette. They came in little paper bags, and I flattened and folded the sack in to clearly show that it was empty, and encourage the waiter to bring another while we were distracted by talking. None of us were anticipating that it might trick the recognition filter of a pickpocket, but it got neatly swiped off the corner of the table by one just the same!

(In retrospect, it might have looked, from the wrong angle, like a flip wallet by the way I folded it. Wish we could have seen his face when he realized what he'd gotten!)

...While it was wonderful to network, learn things, and get hugs from friends, frankly, I won't miss that town.

Once we Escaped From Vegas (thankfully with less traffic jams, inane and insane drivers pulling stupid human tricks, and GPS misplacing itself than on the way in), we regretfully decided there wasn't enough time in the day to properly see the Grand Canyon, and made our way to Flagstaff. 

I know humans can acclimatize to anything. Not just because my life has moved from Alaska to Texas, but because people appear to happily live in Flagstaff, and elevations even higher. I, on the other hand, was winded just standing up. Thank G-d for oxygen in a can. 

That said, the food was lovely at The Northern Pines. As for the company, it was even better. We met up with Larry Lambert, who blogs at Virtual Mirage. You know, for a man I'd never met before and only seen a picture the size of my pinky nail that may or may not be an inaccurate avatar... I had no problem looking out the window as he walked up, and going "That's him." There's something about the breed of men my Calmer Half knows and enjoys spending time with that you can just immediately pick out from the body language and the walk. 

The conversation ranged all over the map, from firepower to philosophy to politics to pictures of an elk who's fond of visiting (quite the handsome critter) and flying. I'll just say that it'll be worth going back to Flagstaff to visit with Larry again, and he gives good hugs.

On the way home, Calmer Half yielded to my plea for a side trip, but told me I had to pick one: the petrified forest, or the meteor crater. ...of course the crater won! I'd love to fly over that thing and see the ripples in the bedrock from a good height, because just what I could see standing on the lip of the rimwall was amazing. 

Albuquerque was not so bad the second time, not after Flagstaff. Well, and the second time it didn't have seriously sketchy and twitchy gent eyeing the van while Peter was checking into the hotel that had me making a slow smooth movement for a piece of hardware... A night without incident and a morning with excellent coffee have me thinking better of that city than first exposure. All the same, I was very happy to get back to our tiny town where "youth run wild" means the cows have gotten out, and are eating my neighbor's roses.

Not that I had to get back to Tiny Town, Texas to see youth run wild. Just north of Claude, two black angus yearlings who were clearly in high spirits after finding or making a break in the fence came pelting at I-40 in the that bouncing full-tilt run of "you can't catch me!" Calmer Half hit the brakes, as did everyone else - Thank G-d the semi behind us had Very Good Brakes - and the beeves stopped just short of the asphalt, so close to the hood of our vehicle I could see the snot flying as they snorted. 

...Getting chewed out by the cats for being gone was kind of anticlimactic after that. 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Everything's fine

Kili-Cat occasionally expresses Strong Opinions with vocalizations that would school an irritated sailor, if only we could translate. Sometimes, it's with an ungentle nip that doesn't break the skin. And sometimes, with a well-placed bit of vomit. Which, hey, at least she doesn't say it with scat.

At least, that's for Calmer Half and myself. From vets I have heard "Come get your hellion!" and "that furry little buzzsaw" and her folder at each new vet sprouts fluorescent stickers saying things like DO NOT TAKE TEMPERATURE RECTALLY!! 

I like the latest Vet; when I warned her with the dreaded phrase, "She's usually very sweet at home, but..." they took me seriously. And mirabile dictu, Kili has yet to go into attack mode around them, and it's been 3 years. 

Well, we had to leave for an overnight trip (one of those "do you want to leave the house at 4am, and fight the metromess's finest rush hour traffic, to make it to this appointment? Or overnight in a hotel nearby?" decisions), and came back to find 6 piles of vomit around the house. I suspected Strong Opinion about us pulling out The Luggage of Feline Lamentation, but that was a bit excessive, so off to the vet we went. 

Besides, I've had her on new food for a while: I wanted to check she was actually doing fine on it. 

Kili was Not Happy about this. In fact, she sounded like a little serial killer with a chainsaw still distant in the smoke and fog, with occasional pauses to hiss at the vet tech. 

According the Vet, she has gained a pound, "which is just fine in a geriatric cat; we're worried about them losing weight at this point, not gaining it." She also has "beautiful clear eyes, nice ears, lovely well-taken-care-of coat, a little tartar on her teeth but not unexpected at her age, everything's fine on her internals, a little arthritis but also not unexpected at her age, and the vomiting is well within normal for cats, especially ones who eat a dry food diet, given her age..."


"...and disposition."

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Canned debate

 Or, how my Calmer Half wins the fight we didn't have. Because old age not only brings treachery, but patience and cunning.

A few years ago, my love bought some kitchen jars for me that he thought were what I wanted. They were beautiful, with olivewood lids and silicon seals (things I like). They also sucked, because the lids come straight off when I pull up, so any attempt to grab from the top results in broken glass and spilled grits. Also, the mouths were too small to get a half-cup measure in. 

So, rather than get more of them, I promptly started using quart and half-gallon mason jars for other grains, sugar, and ground flours. I didn't get rid of them, because I wasn't going to waste money already spent. Same reason for the mason jars: I had them, and why waste money when I've already got something that will do? 

It wasn't an ideal solution, but it was the duct tape and safety wire solution of kitchen organization. My love got these lids for the canning jars to make it easier to pour, clearly designed to turn the jar into a sort of sippy cup, and they made it better. However, the flours still clump, and the much smaller hole means it's a pain when things clump.  

A few days ago, my darling overheard the smothered yelps of pain and growl of frustration as I smacked the glass jar into an arthritic hand, and hurt myself more than it moved the clumped almond meal inside. I was grumbling (endemic to weather change and arthritis acting up, not this particular jar) as I then started rolling it on the cutting board to try to break up the clump so I could pour out a third of a cup.

He came out of his office and asked if he should get better lids, or more of the pretty jars instead? I recognized a "problem! fix problem!" air about him, and decided truth would be more useful than tact. Unfortunately, I didn't so it in a gentle, kind, or loving manner. 

You might even say I attempted to bite his head off and gnaw on his jugular. My darling simply waited it out, like a stone calmly letting a wave break over him, as I snarled that I did not like either alternative, and did not want him spending more money to improve makeshift containers I already disliked in the first place. When I was finished, he simply asked, "What do you want?"

That was the right question.

I finished pouring the almond meal, and cradled my hands to my chest as I grumbled that what I really wanted were vacuum-sealed plastic containers, but I wasn't going to spend the money on them, which is why I was making do with the glass jars in the first place. 

I got this puzzled look, completely ignoring the way I was snarling and focusing on the single relevant fact. "I've never heard of these. What are they? Can you show me?" 

So I limped over to his computer, pulled up amazon, typed in kitchen vacuum storage containers, and then informed him that I hadn't done any research because I wasn't spending the money, and I was going to go get a painkiller now.

As I made a cuppa to take the painkiller with, I heard faintly from his office, "Ouch! Yes, I see what you mean about the price!"

I thought this would be the end of it, but no.

An hour later, he's in my office. "Love, I just sent you three links, to three different sizes. Which would you prefer in the pantry?" 

As I was in much less pain by then, I was much calmer, and just looked at him with puzzled disbelief. "Love, didn't you see the price tag on them?"

He gave me this look like when I'm supposed to be somewhere in fifteen minutes, and haven't started drinking my tea or finding my clothes yet. "If I'm going to reorganize the pantry, then best we start with the containers we'll be using when we're finished. Decide what you want, so I can get that out of the way." As I opened my mouth to object, he shifted to a guttural tone of pure command. "You are NOT hurting yourself again."

...and that is how he preemptively wins the fights we don't have.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Teaser art...

 I've been sending snippets to Cedar Sanderson, as she's one of my alpha readers. About the point the team is far underground inside the ruins of an alien city, she sends me this feedback:

Saturday, August 27, 2022

getting ripped

I finally experienced the rite of passage for female weightlifters: I popped a shoulder seam on my shirt.

Women’s shirts are not make for significant upper body muscle. Once we start to develop muscle in our pecs, lats, delts, biceps, and triceps, the women's cut shirts with the cute capped sleeves get tight, and then it give way at the weakest seam.

So I carefully deployed a seam ripper… wait, no, couldn’t find mine. So I grabbed the lovely hand-forged damascus knife that was an anniversary present from Calmer Half several years ago, and used it as a seam ripper to remove the sleeves to make a tank top.

Fittingly, the shirt has a line drawing of a feline all curled up, with:

I don’t want to adult today.
I don’t even want to human.
Today, I want to cat.

Sounds about perfect for someone who works swing shift lifting heavy things too bloody early in the morning, eh?

May you all find time to cat, and your own sunbeam.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Shopping, not Buying

The Farmer's Market in Itchy Paw Falls recently had a large number of vendors split ways with its old location, so this morning I met up with two friends to check out who decided to move to the new location. 

Some days, you go shopping with Serious Intentions and a list to buy. 

Some days, there's mochas and strawberry lemonade popsicles and salsa and a sticker of an armed kewpie doll (glock in a shoulder holster) and a little ceramic whistle that sounds like a song bird...

One of the candle vendors had been next to CV Walter when she was selling her books at the art walk. When we checked out his booth (first time he & CV had seen each other since then), he had a new candle based on her books. Cross-pollination happens in the arts! How cool is that?

We also met a friend's kid, who is now an adult and an artist in her own right, holding down her own table. Which was another layer of fun, because first, we weren't expecting to see her there - we'd been referred by another vendor as "you've got to check her art out" and "She's cool." Second, because this meant four artists could stand there and talk shop about table rents and intellectual property and markets... And walk away having bought stickers she made, because we really liked them! (And now I have an easy and clear identification mark on my new laptop.)

We briefly lost Cedar Sanderson when we hit a table selling botanical things... It wasn't the dried flower wreaths, the floral bath bombs, or even hibiscus sugar, which I found really intriguing (I've seen vanilla-doped caster sugar for dusting the tops of pastries and cocktails, but never hibiscus-doped caster sugar before.) No, it was the vintage botanical being used as a prop for the goods. Next thing you know, she and the vendor are geeking out about old herbals and other antique botanical books and where they've found them... 

Given that I had stopped to have a conversation about what blooms at what time of the year and how much you had to hold back in the supers for overwintering a hive in TX vs. North Carolina with one of the local apiaries, I just stood back and grinned. Okay, and egged CV Walter into getting a little ceramic whistle that sounds like a songbird. 

Because cat harassment!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Want something new to read?

If you liked the other things I wrote, you might like this. It's not so much a romance, really, as it is about the problems that come after the happily ever after. Like meeting the family that he doesn't talk to, and finding out that there's more than one feud going on. It's about finding out the hard way that when you've been out defending the homeland, and not being there, home changes until it isn't home anymore, and the people there become strangers with a shared history in the thirty years Between Two Graves.

Of course, there are a couple firefights as well, because it's me. 

The blurb:

He swore he wouldn't be back while his parents lived...

Now, almost thirty years later, AJ is going home.

Ordered to attend his mother's funeral in the rugged northern border of the Empire, AJ is baring old wounds to his new wife, and burying familial feuds.

But the past won't die that easily, and grave secrets will threaten all the survivors and the women they love. Because the Feds are after AJ's unwanted inheritance...

And they're willing to risk a war to get their hands on it.

Currently available in ebook, print edition to follow very shortly (I accidentally introduced a formatting error and it spread. The cleanup to get chapters and page numbers to agree is tedious, and I love my detail-oriented husband very, very much for all the assistance he's giving on this.)