Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Growing Up

Today is the day I just took another important step into adulthood.

Today, I bought my first torque wrench.

It is a CDI, not a full Snap-On, though you don't know how much I miss chasing the Snap-On truck like a parade of sled dogs following the bearer of the doggie chow. (Isn't that an automatic reflex in everyone? I know you can make every head pop out of any nook and cranny in an airplane shop just by calling "Snap-On truck's pulling in!")

I was flat-out astounded that my husband had never before, in his entire life, used a torque wrench. All through my formative years, this was one of the things that marked the transition from shop help to apprentice; the trust to be given a job that required a torque wrench. And the fully certified mechanic saying "Let me see your conversion math. All right, you got it. Now, this is the right torque wrench for that job. If you drop it, I break you. Let me watch you set it." I knew I was getting competent when I was allowed to borrow the torque wrench without being double-checked (and you'd better believe I checked my inch-pound to foot-pound math very, very carefully.)

Calmer Half, though, learned his wrenching in the African Bush Mechanic school of hard knocks. This apparently involved more shooting at things with teeth while changing your tyres, and digging out, and "Is it tight enough? Stomp on the wrench again!" and "Well, if it won't move, use the tank to tow it."

So I carefully explained the caveats to him - that there are lots of tool brands I don't know, and I have no rigorous tests or reviews to prove anything. However, my Daddy kept a small basic stash of Snap-On tools and advised "Ten bucks saved on the tool costs a thousand an hour in the emergency room." Also, every airplane mechanic I knew in Alaska used 'em. Sure, they had a lot of other brands, and some things heavily modified by torch and welder to be the perfect tool for the job, but the strong advice was "Get Snap-On as soon as you can afford it."

Calmer Half smiled at me, and said thoughtfully, "I'm going to use it for an AR-15. It's only working on something four inches away from my favorite pair of eyes. I think that's recommendation enough."

Wow. My very own torque wrench!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Adventures in food you can't read

I popped into the Romanian import store to get a treat for my husband while he's sleeping, and found a can I didn't recognize mixed in with the pate selection. Intrigued, I flipped it over and noted it was marked $2,54 on the bottom - so whatever it was, it'd be a relatively lighthearted, cheap adventure.

The store owner perked up as she bagged my pate tins, and waved it at me. "You'll like this! Is wonderful!" I grinned, and we giggled over the joys of surprising people we love with food. She understands that Food Is Love, after all.

When I got home, I cracked open the mystery can to try it, and was surprised by little headless fish in oil. Squinting and bringing the can up to bright light, I found the 4-point english font required for import among the Cyrillic: "Smoked sprats in oil."

Shrugging, I decided to try some with cheese. And that's when my shins were tackled by twelve pounds of all-consuming hunger in cat form.


By the way, they're tasty with a nice sharp cheese. Just lock up the cats before you crack the can, lest you have to excavate cat claws from your thigh.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The ritual words are important

I know, I know, Calmer Half and I share our bank accounts, our home, our marriage, pretty much everything (except the turkish delights, those are all his, and the kalamata olives are all mine). And I knew exactly what I was getting for Christmas (I'd already held it and tried it), and it was a toss-up as to which of us would pay for it, because shared accounts.

That doesn't matter. There are still important rituals that must be performed.

So Calmer Half dutifully ignored the gentle laughter of the gun store employees as he lifted the box, pressed it into my hands, and said "Merry Christmas."

Of course he got a kiss!

...and being a wise man, he was not at all slow to deny any possibility that he was going to make his wife wait until Christmas to shoot it.