A Good End to a Rough Week

It was kind of a harrowing week for The Colony.  My wife’s father had a narrow escape from a burst artery in the G.I. tract merely a few weeks after a heart attack.  Blood supply at a provincial hospital ran out after the third transfusion and her sister had to take a taxi into Manila to search some hospitals for more.  (Tell me again how crappy the American health care system is and I’ll tell you some more things about hospitals in third world countries.) She brought a few more back in an ice chest- by which time they had fixed the artery and stabilized him.

Dinner at Shinbou, Little Tokyo, Manila 2016. Papa in Lower left.

The Lord God answers prayers.  He got out of hospital today.  It is good to have an emergency savings account and better to not have to use it.  The Philippines is a tropical hell this time of year.  I’ve experienced the “prickly heat” George Orwell wrote about in Burmese Days.  I can’t imagine being there now- having emptied our savings for plane tickets to bury my father-in-law.

This year, we planted 20 feet of green beans.  Our first harvest produced enough to fill a five gallon bucket which was enough to fill 27 pint jars when we canned them last weekend.  They are ready to pick again and there are still tons of blooms on the vines.

This is a 6 gallon brew bucket and we’ve already snapped quite a few beans from it.

We also put away some fermented veggies.  Sliced carrots, daikon, mustard and radish greens, and quartered white onions spiced with dill and garlic.  Everything was from the garden except the onions.  They turned out excellent.  We put about 6 quarts’ worth into our extra fridge in the garage.  I have it rigged up with a precision temperature controller that also has a heat output.  Pretty handy!

The pickled veggies.

And to end the day, we canned another 9 pints of greens.

We pray for The Lord to bless our garden and our efforts.  He answers them.  Though I suspect He may not care much for corn.
My missus and I had a nice long talk about faith and baptism while we rinsed and chopped the greens before canning.  It was a good talk.  I love her so much.  She’s the best friend I’ve ever had and I love days like today where we can have a nice talk while working at the garden.

It was a good weekend after all we’ve been through the week past.

The Interesting and Odd Humanity of Tina Hayner

We had gotten up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning to make it in to work.  It was cold and a morning better spent snuggled up next to a loved one, but others with work to do needed support from our office, and so here we were… just me and the man who is now my assistant. 

“What time do you think she’ll be here?” Glenn asks in his Detroit yankee accent.  He was just recently promoted to our department.

“About 6:00 Monday.”  I’ve been here 4 years now.

” Hahaha… What?  But she told us to…”

“I know, man.”  I cut him off.  He seemed a bit surprised at my lack of outrage or even the most minor bit of annoyance.

“Aw.  She’ll be here.  She’s just running late.”  He’s still an optimist to this day.

“M’kay.”  I continued working, entirely unconcerned.

It was about 10:00, I think, when I got the call.

“GOOD MORNING, MY FRIEND!!!” Came a cheerful greeting through a cacophonous background of cheers and what sounded suspiciously like a marching band.

“Hey, Tina!  How’s it going this morning?”

“Scored tickets to the Notre Dame game! Sorry I couldn’t make it this morning.”

“Don’t worry about it.  We’ve got things tied down.  No worries.”

” ‘preciate you guys and your hard work.”

“Have fun, Tina.  See you Monday.”

“See you there, brother!”

If anyone else had done that to me, it would’ve thoroughly burned me up.  I might have even made a call to corporate.  But Tina was different.  She just had this kind of weird energy that you couldn’t help but enjoy watching.  She had a wonder and enjoyment of life that was usually contagious even when the vehicle of enjoyment wasn’t.  

And she always had our backs.  She never hesitated to toe up to some self-important wannabe managerial demigod on our behalf for some real or perceived slight against her employees.

I first met Tina at the job interview I had with her.   My first child was on the way and I had just been laid off from my job as a mechanical engineer at a company where I designed aerospace simulators.  That job loss was one that really smarted.

The job I was interviewing for was basically a career change- which had to have been obvious to us both.  I didn’t mention the baby situation to her.  It was a really good interview and we hit it off pretty well.  Two weeks later, I had the job that has turned into a 7 year career.

Tina spent the next 4 years training me for her position.  She had a part in me achieving a level of success in my career I hadn’t expected.  She encouraged my conscientiousness and meticulousness.  She enabled me to try new things and trusted my decisions… and expected me to own them.  And she owned hers.  

I think she knew she didn’t want to be there long.  She was good at her job, but it was a career she didn’t want to be tied down by in a field she didn’t particularly savour.  She had a lot of respect for H&P- especially the Helmerich family.  “They’re good, mid-western, conservative people.” she once said of them.  Tina was a die-hard “hippy liberal” to use her own words.

That was the other thing about her.  She was a classical liberal.  She just wanted to live and let live.  We had wildly opposing political and religious views, but could always talk about them without despising each other afterward.  I like to think we both came a little closer to understanding each other’s perspective.

Tina always had a good heart.  Any anger she showed was the kind of passionate anger aroused in people with good hearts against injustice and cruelty toward her fellow man.  It was the angry, impudent face of the 80s punk rock we both loved, but behind it was the more contemplative, soulful heart of the depression era folk music we also both loved.  It was a weird amalgam of temper to go with that weird energy.  And more often than not, we all had a good laugh over it… after the terror subsided.  We still laugh our heads off about the Notre Dame game.

Tina and I laughed at a good many things others didn’t.  We invented the Bastard-gram, but never sent one.  We couldn’t find a hairy, drunk old man willing to show up at someone’s office and hurl verbal abuse at them.  We shared a very eclectic taste in music and loved simple artwork.

https://youtu.be/O1ViAIdO3i4
This last year was full of heartache for her.  In February of 2016, her nephew Blaine Wells, was murdered in a case of mistaken identity.  From what I could tell, she had all but become his mother during his teenage years and young adulthood.  She’d been a great positive influence in his life- helping him turn from a life of drugs and delinquency.  It was one of those painful labours of love.  His murder devastated her, and may have quite literally broken her heart, I suppose.

I just found out she died of a heart attack- barely into her 50s.

I’m sorry I never got the chance to commission a set of teaware or a pickling crock from her pottery studio.  But the large earthen dragonfly vase she gave us still sits in a place of honour in our home.  I’ve been wanting to give her a call and have her out for sushi with my wife and kids.  She hadn’t met my youngest yet.  I wish I’d gotten to it a bit sooner.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”   -James 4:14.

Go out and have a pint with a friend.  Give them a call and laugh about some stupid memory.  Especially if it seems like it’s been forever.

“Alright! I’m a delivery boy!”

… as Phillip J. Fry so eloquently summed up the awesome ability of space travel to turn mundane careers into exciting ones.

The game, Elite: Dangerous, has done the very same.  Except for not having Grace Park in it, the game is as close as a sci-fi geek can currently come to realizing his fantasy of doing stuff in space.

From dog fighting with computer generated and actual human enemies in customized spacecraft to exploring one of billions of star systems and their planets in a realistically populated Milky Way galaxy to delivering equipment and various commodities between planets and star systems to mining asteroids for those commodities to taking part in the real time altering of economies and political control of inhabited space, the game has it all.  Except for Grace Park.

 Space-merica!

I’m having fun dividing my time between mining various minerals in the ice belts of gas giants in my Lakon Spaceways Type 6, trading precious metals and machinery in my Type 7, and putting my name (or gamertag as it is) on one of billions of yet-to-be discovered various classes of dwarf, giant, hypergiant, and neutron stars and black holes in my Diamond Back Explorer.

As with anything awesome, though, there is one minor point of non-awesomeness that can really irk me.  It goes like this:

“How much did you make off that delivery?”

“Nothing.  I got interdicted midway back and then blown to pieces and all my cargo stolen.”

“Man, that sucks!  Who did it?”

“Just some jackass.”

“Was it the dreaded pirate Neutron Beard?”

“No.”

“Lothar the Destroyer?”

“No.”

“Well who was it?”

“… Greg Roberts.”

“Greg Roberts?”

“Yeah.”

“Man, that sucks.”

“Yeah.”

There’s always something to ruin a heroic death.  And in Elite: Dangerous, it is often CaptainPoopyPants97, TheDorkinator, or Greg Roberts.

I hope I get to blow away some social justice warriors soon.  It should thoroughly trigger them to be blasted and looted by ThePatriarch828.

First canning of greens for the season.

“I wonder if you can eat radish greens…”  Turns out you can.  They’re a bit peppery like mustard greens, which I adore fried up with garlic and bacon.

Momma only ever boiled the heck out of greens and maybe added a bit of vinegar.  If you’ve never had bacon-fried greens, you’re missing out.
It was recommended I plant radishes in with the summer squash as (supposedly) squash vine borers go after radishes first.  I lost most of the summer squash two years ago and all the pumpkins last year to these little Takeru Kobayashis of the garden… and I was more vengeful over those pumpkins than I think I’ve ever been over anything.  I took a pocket knife and very meticulously avenged my pumpkin patch while simultaneously ingratiating myself to the local robin population.

Anyway, this year, I sewed daikons all around the squash.  They put out a crazy amount of green leaves- way more than red radishes.  After having learned that beet greens are edible, I’ve made sure to read up on all manner of root crop and haven’t been disappointed.

mmm… green…

The daikons haven’t been touched by any bugs as far as I can tell. So it looks like we’ll have plenty of daikon greens (canned 11 pints tonight) and pickled daikon with carrots and onion.
I bought a fermenting crock last year and have made several batches of sauerkraut and kimchi-style spicy cabbage.  I’m going for broke this year on natural pickling via lacto-fermentation.  Can’t wait to see how the radish/carrot/onion turns out.