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.