Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It's a good week

First, and most importantly, LawDog's book is out! He had a totally awesome launch, between Castalia's new release mailing list, his fans, the gunbloggers, Larry Correia's bookbomb, and an instapundit mention... out of over 5 million books in the kindle store, his hit #87 for a few hours!

Even more importantly, judging by reviews, the readers love it. Whether old fans or new, he's made a lot of people laugh (and cry, and spit out the drink they'd so unwisely taken just before reading that particular observation...) This is the best part of being an entertainer - the ability to connect with your readers, to pull them out of their everyday life and make them feel something else for a moment.

The rest of the Tiny Town, Texas Gun and Writing Club is even more ecstatic, because it's just so incredibly wonderful to see good things happen to people we like. All teasing about him resetting the bar aside, It was an excuse for a party last night. Granted, I cook dinner for LawDog's Lady and all the guys every week, but hey, I got a fancy tiramisu dessert from the deli, and sparkling cider so we could have a toast despite multiple people disliking the taste of champagne. (It was too sweet. We promptly went back to our regular drinks. But hey, the form was observed!)

Second, on a more personal note, I have now progressed on learning the correct form for the deadlift to the point that the trainer wants me to acquire weightlifting shoes. This is pretty awesome!

Yes, I'm still on the lightweight training bar with the 5-pound plastic plates that are merely meant to hold it at the right height... but now I get to buy a new piece of clothing! (I'm such a woman.)  It'll let me upgrade from rank n00b to level one newbie with one of my armor and equipment slots filled! (Okay, I'm such a female geek.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

nonverbal communication

We have a water fountain for the cats. Yes, they're spoiled - but also, it means I can just pour more water in, let the two cats duke it out, and clean it / change the charcoal filter once a month, instead of having bowls on the floor that need monitored daily for water volume and cleanliness.

Because it's a fountain, the motor noise changes when the water level drops past a certain point. This makes "when to refill" really easy.

Now, some people have cats that meow a lot. Some breeds are naturally talkative (meezers!), and others, it's been argued, figured out that the big dumb thumb-monkeys can't figure out body language and have to be meowed at like kittens. My cats, well, the maine coon kitten chirrups, but the older cat doesn't meow.

Kili just came and got me, by way of walking to where I was sitting, and putting a paw on my knee. When I put the book aside to provide a clear lap, she faced away from me, then stared over her shoulder. I sighed, put the book down, and followed the tail-high slow walk that stayed two steps ahead of me to the water fountain. She crouched and stared at it, but did not drink.

"It's full, Kili."

She stared at it, and did not drink. When I didn't get it, she looked up at me, then stared hard back at the water fountain.

"Cat, I have it on the schedule to clean it and replace the filter Saturday."

More staring at the water fountain, like it's a spider she hasn't decided how to kill.

I sigh, unplug it, and pick it up. Kili immediately dashes around the kitchen island, jumps up on the counter, and stares at the sink where  I'll wash it.

"I got the point, Kili."

Right, maybe there's a reason this cat doesn't meow. She's got her people pretty trained on the nonverbal communication.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Today, for the first time in my adult life, I did a deadlift. I actually did several of them, under the close direction of a Starting Strength coach. I also, for the first time in my life, did a bench press with a barbell. That was easier... no, it was simpler. Less body parts moving in concert with less timing. Easy evaporated around the third rep, and never came back.

I did not do a squat. The folks I'm paying very good money to be experts think I need to work on leg presses before I try to attempt a squat.

Very sadly, unlike scrawny 18-year-olds who can get away with drinking a gallon of milk and eating a loaf of bread a day, I am advised to up my protein and keep my carbs low for now. I was so looking forward to more bread...

Right now, though, I'm looking forward to a bath filled with epsom salts. I am going to be so sore tomorrow.

And then Friday I'm going to do it again.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Prepping, Bread, and Oil

We got back from Libertycon on July 3, and racked out. When we got 'round to unloading the car and cleaning the house, it was Independence Day, and all the stores were closed... and I had 6 hungry people to feed dinner, despite a rather empty fridge!

This is the kind of thing I prep for. The end of the world as we know it may or may not come once a lifetime, but extra mouths at dinner, not wanting to go to the store due to blizzard, volcanic ashfall, wildfire burning upwind, heavy rains, or just don't want to is a lot more common.The only downside to having no fresh veggies in the fridge was that I had to bake and cook, so I served a hot meal with no cool salad.

Appetizer: Greek psomi bread with dipping oil
Entre: Chicken chili on rice (Yay slow cooker and rice cooker!)
Side: Green beans with sauteed bacon, onion, and garlic
Dessert: Ice cream with sangiovese chocolate sauce

I was going to do a casserole, but the bread took long enough that I switched to beans, which can be microwaved and mixed with the sauteed part of the dish to be ready on time.

Psomi is really easy to make if you have a bread machine to do the kneading for you:

1 cup water (warm is best for dissolving the honey. No hotter than body temp, though.)
2 Tbsp honey (Killer Bees Honey. Amazing stuff!)
1.5 tsp quick yeast
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Use dough cycle. When it's finished, I cheated and formed the loaf into a mock braid directly on the silicon baking sheet, no extra floury surface needed, and slapping saran wrap over the top for the rise time. I also sacrificed crustiness on the loaf by oiling my hands to make it easy, which left the surface of the loaf lightly oiled, and then baking it at 325 for 30 minutes instead of 400 with sprayed water for extra steam for 15 minutes.

When it came out, I let it sit for two minutes, then dumped it onto an appetizer platter, with steam rising from where it broke in half while being shaken off the baking sheet. The mock-braid parts rose high and free, nicely browned and crispy, and were promptly broken off and eaten by happy hungry family.

Dipping oil:

1-2 tsp Tuscany Dipping Seasoning from Amarillo Grape & Olive
(Or use this recipe's spice mix, or make your own mix)
A few torn fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon capers
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (use the good stuff.)

In bowl, mix the spices and balsamic vinegar. Microwave for 10-15 seconds, set aside.
In pan, saute capers & garlic in olive oil until capers have bloomed. Toss in basil until just wilted, then pour/scrape everything into the bowl with the balsamic & spices. Serves 2; triple for a hungry crowd who's going to attack the fresh loaf.

(I cheated last night; I was out of capers, so I just added a little extra fresh basil from the garden to the spice mix before microwaving, and wilted it just fine like that. It was low-garlic, but no one complained, especially not with the good olive oil and 25-year balsamic.)

Despite being an emergency meal thrown together from stores, I got no complaints.