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Musings

  • I was once told that nothing good comes easy.  If that’s true, then this house must be glorious.
    • We applied for the mortgage in early June, and thought that the recommended 45 days for it to process was a bit excessive.  Imagine our shock when we were frantically providing paperwork, money, and explanations less than a business day before our closing.
    • My bank has a very convenient web portal for uploading the myriad pieces of paperwork that you have to provide when applying for a mortgage.  Of course, the lady we worked with didn’t seem to have a handle in using it, so we ended up emailing her most of it anyway.  Several times.  In a couple of different versions.  And it all had to get to her immediately or our mortgage would be denied and the world would end.
    • Day of closing was a real treat.  Our 9 AM appointment to sign all the paperwork was delayed by several hours BECAUSE THE MORTGAGE COMPANY DIDN’T THINK IT NECESSARY TO SEND THEIR APPROVAL AND MONEY TO THE TITLE COMPANY.
    • I will say that the actual signing went rather smoothly. I think I signed my name more for the mortgage than I ever did for a security clearance.
  • We moved in this week, and it’s been a marathon.  The movers got the big stuff and a lot of things we’d packed, and we’ve spent the last three days taking other things over from the old house.
    • The look on the movers’ faces when they saw the Coca-Cola machine, arcade game, pinball machine, and jukebox was priceless.
    • You’ve never known stress until you’ve got three coolers full of frozen meat and vegetables in the bed of your truck and you get stuck in a traffic jam in July.
    • All that canned food and such we have gathered so that we have the necessary amount of shelf-stable food for emergencies?  Yeah, my ammunition was lighter.
    • It’s amazing how quickly you go from “We have to keep this because it might come in handy” to “Forget it, let’s get another dumpster” when you have to drive 20 minutes each way with each truckload of stuff.
  • Irish Woman is happy that we now own a riding lawn mower, complete with two cup holders.  One is for the beer that she will drink while mowing the lawn.  The other is for the other beer she will drink while mowing the lawn.
  • Boo has had some misgivings about moving out of the only house he’s ever known, but seems to be adjusting.  Having a basement he can hang out in, a neighborhood full of kids, and a buddy who lives a couple of doors down seem to help.
  • For the first time in my life, I have a home with more than one bathroom.  I’m not sure how to handle this.
  • The dogs are finally returning to normal.  We put them into a kennel for a couple of nights while we moved to the new house, which freaks both of them out. Then we didn’t return to their house, with all new smells and rooms to explore. Plus, there are other dogs visible from our kitchen window, so they have someone to yell at.

Book Review – Intensely Familiar

Alma Boykin continues the story of Lelia Chan and her Familiar Tay in Intensely Familiar.

Home is the Hunter . . .

Something moves in the darkness, hunting the hunters. An ambush leaves Lelia Chan weak and troubled. Her husband André returns from an extended deployment with problems of his own, some old, some new. Both shadow mages and their Familiars need rest. Their enemy, however, does not.

Magic solves magical problems: that’s the rule among Riverton’s magic users. But what if it doesn’t? Especially against a foe who is Intensely Familiar.

Intensely Familiar starts with a punch to the gut and keeps you reading until the last sentence.  Like the rest of the series, it is a character-driven tale with fast, intense action sequences. It’s not a thriller, but it keeps your attention through good story telling and pacing.

Lelia Chan is wholly fleshed out by now, but Ms. Boykin continues to let her grow and evolve without forcing the character forward.  Her husband, Andre, is also well done, but we are still learning about him as a central character in the story.  Other characters, such as her employer, Arthur, round out a cast that we can all relate to.

Intensely Familiar ends a multi-book story arc and hints to more in the future.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Ms. Boykin takes her characters.

Musings

  • I know it doesn’t count as camping if we get a cabin and sleep in beds, but I have to wonder why I’m just as tired as I would be if we slept on the ground and hiked all day.
  • The first night we were there, I brought in the food cooler, but left the beer cooler out.
    • The raccoons opened that one and gave everything a good pawing over with their muddy feet.
    • No worries, said I, as I drained the beer cooler, gave all of the bottles a going over with a Clorox wipe, then put them back.  It’s nature, I said.  They’re just following their rambunctious instincts.
  • The second night, I arrived back at our campsite approximately 15 minutes after sundown to interrupt a raccoon smorgasbord in progress.  It looked like I’d thrown a hand grenade in a hen house as the fuzzy little bastards unassed the cabin’s porch.
    • This time, they gave both coolers a good going over, and I had to separate out the contaminated food from the still-vapor-locked stuff.
    • That is, of course, once I’d cleaned up the bologna, cheese, blackberries, and raw bratwurst they had strewn across the porch.
    • I ended up having to throw out all of the uncooked breakfast sausage, the ham, the leftover sausage gravy, and almost all of the fresh fruit.
    • Did I mention that this was after dark and I could see their beady little eyes watching every move I made?
  • Breakfast on Sunday, for two adults and a 12 year old with a hollow leg, consisted of a pineapple that I cut up with my pocket knife, bananas, hot dogs, 2 day old biscuits with jelly, and coffee.
  • Because of all this, I am declaring an official jihad against the thieving rascals.  No longer will I gently prod them off of my porch at night.  Nor will I indulge my lovely wife when she defends them based on their cuteness.
  • During our travels to and from the wilds of southern Indiana, I had the unique experience of stopping at a convenience store in an area whose drug problem has made the national news more than once.
    • The display of novelty glassware was only dwarfed by the “It’s not ephedrine anymore!” stimulant selection on the other side of the register.
    • Also, who would have guessed that the folk around there needed so many metal scrubbing pads?
  • The work to finalize the purchase of our new home continues.  The inspections are complete, with the exception of the one done by the Veteran’s Affairs folks.  I’m happy to say that our new home has a modern septic system, no evidence of termites, and the minor issues with the roof are being taken care of as I type this.
    • Irish Woman is already shopping for the pool she wants for the back yard.
  • The current work in progress is off to the beta readers, and I have a wonderful cover in the works from the nice lady who did my last cover.  Should have some snippets from it in the next few weeks.

How My Day Went

Me – Did you do the thing?
 
Them – Yes, I did the thing.
 
Me, a couple hours later, with definitive proof that they did not, in fact, do the thing – Why isn’t the thing done?
 
Them, after some silence on the line – Well, doing the thing was hard and boring. Why don’t you get someone else to do the thing?
 
Me, getting The Voice out and polishing it a bit – Because everyone else is doing their own things
 
Them, now sounding offended – But I don’t know how to do the thing. Nobody taught me how to do the thing.
 
Me – You’ve been doing the thing, incorrectly, for a decade. And here’s the email I sent you with instructions my cat could have followed for doing the thing.  Just do the thing and it will be done.
 
Them, now defensive – Why do we have to do the thing? Nobody wants to do the thing.
 
Me, now with both The Voice and two drops of Retsin – The thing needs to be done, it needs to be done right, and if you don’t do the thing right, the people who pay you to do the thing are going to be angry.
 
Them – Well, I’ll try to do the thing sometime next week. I’ve got other things I need to do.
 
Me – Name them.
 
Them – What?
Me – What are the other things you have to do now?
Them – Well, you know, just.. things.
 
Me – You not doing the thing correctly, right now, is stopping me and other people from doing other things that need to be done.
 
Them – So? Those aren’t my things to do.
 
Me – Just do the thing. Now.
 
Them – Why are you so mean? I mean, I’ll try now, but I’ll just break things.
 
Me, trying to remember why I got into this line of work – If you break things, you will fix even more things.
 
Them – But I’m getting off work in an hour or two.
 
Me – The thing takes 20 minutes if you do it right, and it’s only just now past lunch. Do. The. Thing.
 
Them, now really out of sorts that someone would tell, not ask, not cajole, not bribe, them to do the thing – Alright, alright, I’ll do the thing, but when it breaks, it’s your problem.
 
Other Them, 15 minutes later – Hey, the thing is broken.
 
First Them – You see? I told you. Now the thing is broken and it’s your fault for making me touch it.
 
Me, giving my monitor the migraine salute – Did you do the thing the way I told you to?
 
Them – No, I did the thing the way I wanted to. Now it’s broken. Listen, I gotta run. Just fix the thing and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help out when I get back tomorrow.
The sound of someone abruptly ending an electronic conversation and disappearing back to whatever realm they go to when they’re not on the clock.
 
Me, beating head against desk, trying to make the hurting stop – This is why we can’t have nice things!

Musings

  • Well, after several years of talking about it, numerous negotiations on what we both want and are willing to compromise on, both of us choosing hills we’re willing to die on, intense discussions about moving to North Dakota and taking up some honest living or another, stalking areas we wanted to live in, a couple of false starts, then a sprint to get to a house that we both liked before it was gobbled up, Irish Woman and I have started the process of purchasing a new home.
  • We looked at two houses yesterday.  Both were very nice.
    • Both properties were on the market for a little more than 24 hours when we took a tour.
    • One was a bungalow built in 1916.  It had been added onto, and had a lot of character and other things that made me like it.  It was on the edge of the country, with one of my favorite watering holes just down the street.
    • It also had plumbing and wiring very similar to our current house, which gave me pause.  One of my goals was to not get another fixer-upper.
    • By the time we got done looking at the bungalow, someone else had put in an offer, so deciding to not bid on it got easier.
    • The other house was a relatively new (well, newer than the house we have now) ranch on a nice lot in a neighborhood that we’ve been keeping an eye on.
    • We looked at the second house, then talked on its porch for a few minutes before asking our realtor to make an offer.
    • The market around here is so hot that a lot of properties don’t even make it to the realty sites before they’re sold.
  • With that, we began the paperwork part of this process.  As much work as this is to do electronically, I cannot imagine how it was done in the days of carbon paper.
  • Today, I have provided the following things to our bank:
    • VA certificate
    • Statements from our checking, savings, and investment accounts
    • A copy of our contract to buy the house
    • A picture of the check I wrote for the deposit
    • Our latest statement on our current mortgage
    • A genealogy going back five generations on both sides
    • Our latest horoscopes
    • Proof that we are, indeed, human.
    • Pawprint impressions from both dogs and one of the cats
    • An offer of our son’s hand in marriage to the last scion of some obscure Italian nobility. I’m told she’s quite lovely.
  • Finding someone to do the home and septic inspections was an adventure all by itself.  Apparently I’m just one of a million yokels who are buying homes these days.  I found one, count them, one inspector who could get the job done in the ten days we have per the contract.
  • Our plan is to move out of our current place, then fix, paint, clean, and polish everything so that we can put it on the market.  We’ve already gotten the plumbing fixed, and more is to come.
  • Hopefully, by the time the Kentucky Derby rolls around on Labor Day, we’ll be settled into our new house one county over and will only have one mortgage.

Review – Forget Nothing

Michelle C. Meyers and Jason Anspach teamed up to explore the life one of the more intriguing characters in the Galaxy’s Edge series.  Their work pays off big time in “Forget Nothing

She Chose the Hardest Way

The daughter of a Legion war hero, fighting was in Andien Broxin’s blood. But the battles Republic marines face on strange and alien worlds are a far cry from the vaunted, brutal, no-holds-barred conflicts fought at the edge of the galaxy by the elite legionnaires.

Until a devastating war erupts right in the Republic’s stellar backyard.

Newly stationed on a mid-core planet being harassed by terrorist revolutionaries, Andien and her fellow “hullbusters” find themselves right in the middle of a desperate fight for survival. All their training, standards, discipline—all the hard paths—have led to this. If she and her fellow marines are to come out of this alive, Andien will have to find out who she truly is…and what she can become.

We first met Andien Broxin on Kublar in Legionnaire, the first book in the series, and the character became more and more important to the series in later books.  She’s tough, talented, and dedicated to her mission.  Forget Nothing takes us back to when Andien was an officer in the Republic Marines.  This female warrior is capable, but believable. Yes, she kicks ass and leads from the front, but she’s not a cartoonish GI Jane who beats up grown men and has a pithy comment to spit out over their prostrate bodies.

Meyers and Anspach wrote this character in a way that reminds me of the best leaders I have known, regardless of their gender.  She pushes herself constantly, but the characters has limits that push back.  She’s experienced, but has things to learn as the story goes on.  She’s brave, but is written in a way that you can feel her overcoming the shock and fear of combat.

The other character that stood out in the story was Gunny O’Neill.  If you’ve ever known an old, crusty NCO who was a master at motivating his troops with sharp comments and wry wit, you’ll recognize him immediately.  I laughed long and hard at some of his absolutely genius dialogue.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve heard some, but not all, of it before, because it’s been directed at me.

Forget Nothing is well-paced, and Khristine Hvam’s narration is almost 100% spot on.  The story flows through several sequences that flesh out Andien Broxin as a person and an officer, then rushes into several excellent combat sequences.  The character is allowed to make mistakes, then struggle to overcome them.

If you’ve enjoyed the other books in Galaxy’s Edge, I think you’ll enjoy how the authors filled out this character and gave us a good understanding of her backstory and how she’s put together. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Andien.

With Apologies to Kipling

I went into a Walmart to buy a box of shells,
The manager ‘e up an’ sez, “Those we no longer sell.”
The girls be’ind the register they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nut, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Firearms Owner”, when the mob comes to play
The mob comes to play, my boys, the mob comes to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Firearms Owner”, when the mob comes to play.

I went into a concert as sober as could be,
They waved the guy with a bong in his pocket through, but had no time for me;
They pointed to a “NO GUNS” sign affixed upon the wall,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they give me a call!
For it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nuts not allowed!”;
But it’s “Can you defend my shop, friend?” when the thugs form a crowd,
The thugs form a crowd, my boys, the thugs form a crowd,
O it’s “Can you defend my shop, friend?” when the thugs form a crowd.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ folks like me who their guns they want to keep
Is cheaper than cleaning up the streets, an’ that’d be starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ honest people when they want to shoot a bit
Is five times better business than voters knowing you’re a twit.
Then it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nut, wait your turn!”
But it’s “Neighbor, can I borrow a gun?” when the towns begin to burn,
The towns begin to burn, my boys, the towns begin to burn,
O it’s “Neighbor, can I borrow a gun?” when the towns begin to burn.

We aren’t no Dirty Harry’s, nor we aren’t no madmen too,
But honorable folk with firearms, just citizens, like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, honorable citizens with firearms don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun nut, fall in line”,
But it’s “Please protect the unprepared, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please protect the unprepared, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ bans for magazines, an’ suppressors, an’ ammo, an’ all:
But we’ll stand a turn at guard with you if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about with empty promises, but prove it to our face
The gun is just a tool, it’s the man sets the pace.
For it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Gun Nut ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Gun Nut sees!

Musings

  • Irish Woman was furloughed from her job a few weeks ago, but she’s been keeping herself busy by undoing a lot of the landscaping and redoing it.
    • She tried to tell me that the new gas power washer could count as her Mother’s Day present.  I told her I wasn’t looking to die that soon.
    • One of the goldfish ponds in the front yard has been filled in. There were no fish in it, but several rather large and stubborn bullfrogs had to be ejected into the remaining pond.
  • I’d like to say that Boo has adjusted to this, but I’m pretty sure he’s scavenging scrap wood from the house to shore up the roof of the tunnel he’s digging through the back yard.
    • I’m tempted to warn him that the septic tank is back there.
  • The search for the new house has ground to a halt for the time being.
    • In the area we want to move into, our choices are either a $200,000 hovel that needs a few hundred thousand dollars worth of work put into it before it would be livable, or a palatial estate that costs more than the GDP of some small countries.
    • Other areas aren’t any better, and Irish Woman has made up her mind about where she wants to live.  I’d argue with her, but I’d rather be happy than right.
  • I must admit to a small amount of panic buying a couple weeks ago.
    • I purchase the coffee I like by the case from Amazon.  I get a new case automatically sent to me every couple of months.
    • Normally, that means I’m drinking from one case, with one or two cases on the storage shelves at any given time.
    • With me being home and working stupid amounts of hours, my coffee consumption has reached back into the “Working mids shift and having a newborn baby in 1992” range.  I soon found myself opening my last spare case with no coffee inbound from Amazon.  I was also out of cups for the Keurig.
    • When I went to order an extra case, my coffee was out of stock, so I ordered two cases of my second favorite and another case of assorted KCups.
    • So, I’m drinking my way through one case, have two cases of almost-as-good coffee, a case of “I need a cup of coffee, but don’t want to make an entire pot” fixings, then Amazon dropships a case of my favorite coffee on my doorstep.
    • If I can get a muzzle onto the monkey riding my back, I should have about 6 months worth of coffee.
    • Irish Woman looked at me crossways over this.  I just shrugged and pointed to her bourbon collection.
  • Boo and Irish Woman have started making a batch of homemade vanilla extract using $25 worth of vanilla beans and a bottle of good Finlandia vodka.
    • Friends tell me that making it with brandy or rum is also excellent.  We’ll try that next time.
    • Yes, they used good vodka to make vanilla extract.  Yes, I approved.  Vodka and I have the same agreement I have with tequila – Everyone leaves everyone else alone.  I use it for cooking, and it doesn’t try to get me in trouble on the Moscow Metro again.
  • We finally broke down and hired a plumber to come in and fix several small and a couple rather large problems we’ve had.
    • I know my limits.  I don’t work on things that could burn down or flood the house.
    • Even with them doing us a solid and only charging time and material, that sucking sound you hear coming out of Louisville is my wallet.
    • The plumber said that he’d do some of the easy things first, then tackle the hard things.  Little did he know that there are no easy things to fix in this house.
    • Is it a bad thing to hear the pleasant, mild-mannered man working on your plumbing stop, swear under his breath, then start hitting something with a hammer?
    • On several occasions today, he and his helper have told me that they’ve never seen anything like what we’ve got going on.  Hey, the plumbing is original from the late 1940’s and was put in before building codes reached this far outside of the city limits. You’ve got to expect a few surprises
  • I didn’t mind spending money on a 30 yard dumpster to clean out our house, garage, basement, and attic of all of the extraneous stuff we’ve accumulated over the the last 20 years.
    • I did mind, however, giving up space in the dumpster for stuff we found that the original owners had left behind.
    • It’s amazing how much stuff we have that only took a second or two to decide that it didn’t make the cut.
  • The battle with the honeysuckle continues.  I’ve resorted to the unilateral use of chemical agents against the foe.  If that doesn’t work, there’s always incendiaries.

Audiobook Review – Gods and Legionnaires

Nick Cole and Stephen Anspach return to their foundational Savage Wars trilogy with Gods and Legionnaires:

The Coalition is reeling. New Vega and its other worlds have fallen beneath the boot of the newly allied Savage marines, and the death count continues to rise at a staggering rate. One thing is clear: The war to come will be a fight for the very survival of the species. For both sides in this conflict, now is the time to become what fate, and victory, demand.

The Savages – post-human monsters who believe themselves to be gods – are intent on remaking civilization in their own violent and pathological image. Yet their alliance is tenuous. Among the many tribes of the Uplifted, as they call themselves, the struggle for supremacy rages on. All know that in the end there can be only one tribe. One leader. One truth.

Meanwhile humanity’s last, desperate hope is the formation of a new kind of fighting force: The Legion. Those select few who are hardy enough – or foolish enough – to undertake the relentless, grueling, and merciless candidate training will have the chance to be transformed into mythical heroes…or die trying. They will be pushed beyond their physical and mental limits as they seek to survive an unforgiving planet, lost and derelict ghost spaceships, and, worst of all, the cold, unflinching brutality of Tyrus Rechs. At the end of this crucible, only the one percent of the one percent will earn the right to be called…

…Legionnaires.

Gods and Legionnairesis really two books in one.  The first part is told from the perspective of Crometheus, a Savage marine who was part of the conquering force at New Vega.  In the second part, Tyrus Rechs puts the first volunteers to The Legion through a crucible designed to weed out the weak and perfect the strong.

In the “Gods” part of the book, we learn more about the Savages.  Crometheus delves into his own history and how it intertwines with the Uplifted, as they call themselves.  The tale is reminiscent of Imperator, which dealt with the origins of Goth Sullus.  The authors crank it up to eleven here, though.

There is some action as the Savages continue their crusade to conquer the known galaxy, but most of the story occurs in the main character’s head.  You definitely have to pay attention to the story as it unfolds, because it wraps around itself at several points.

“Legionnaires” follows a group of recruits as they go through Tyrus Rechs’ version of boot-camp, Ranger indoctrination, and hourly gut-checks.  Characters from the battle of New Vega return, but they’re joined by new faces that join them in the grueling training put on by the galaxy’s supreme warrior.

Stephen Lang’s narration is very good.  His telling of the almost stream of consciousness “Gods” part of the book is excellent.  We already know he can narrate an action scene, so seeing him deal with the psychology and inner voices of all of the characters in Gods and Legionnaires was a treat.

This is the middle book of a trilogy, so we know where they came from and we know they’re going somewhere.  Gods and Legionnaires is a great way to spend a few days trying to map out the road between those two places.

Book Review – Gods and Monsters

Holly Chism has come out with the next volume in her Modern Gods series, Gods and Monsters:

Here there be dragons…again, damn it.

Deshayna has her sanity back, and forces older than the gods have granted her a new purpose. Chronos, his freedom restored, fights for his sanity, and with it, a purpose in helping Deshayna—now called Shay—with hers. The gods are starting to pull together more…and it’s about time.

Millennia after the last dragons to threaten human existence have been hunted down, they’ve started to reappear, hinting to the surviving gods that something more sinister appeared first: Tiamat.

Instead of a confrontation, though, the gods—major, minor, and genus loci—are drawn into a frustrating hunt for a predator that flees rather than attempting to strike.

Gods and Monsterscontinues the story of how the ancient gods live and thrive in the modern world.  The story discusses, and is sometimes from, the point of view of Poseidon, Hades, Odin, and Artemis.  A cast of other deities from other traditions rounds out the cast.

Mrs. Chism always packs her stories with human interactions, such as love, competition, and conflict, but Gods and Monsters also has quite a bit of action as the characters come together to fight against an ancient evil.

This is a quick read, but doesn’t feel like it.  An action-packed chapter that whizzes by is followed by one that slows down and shows us the more human and family side of the characters.

If you haven’t read the first few books in the Modern Gods series, you should probably take some time and read them before starting this book.  It’s well told, but builds on what came before.  Like the rest of the series, there are a couple of adult-oriented sequences in Gods and Monsters, but none of them are gratuitous or unnecessary.

Gods and Monsters is the best work I’ve read by the author, and I’m really looking forward to what comes next.

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