Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Moving On - A Chapter from Saving Grace


Chapter 47- Moving On


My husband and I had retrieved the rest of my things to be moved from my home to his. There was a box of dog toys on the porch which I couldn't bear to open. We had talked about getting another dog, looking at reputable breeders, checking ads; but I didn't think I was ready, waiting for a sign perhaps.

That night as we went to sleep I dreamed of my old dog Barkley, something I’d not done in several months.

* * *

In my dream life hadn't changed; my brother and Barkley were still with me and it was just a normal day of prayer and reflection.

On the wall is a crucifix, symbol of blood and wind, strength that follows me through my day.

As I enter the building the light shines on those small testaments of ritual, those things that bring peace and beauty to what could otherwise be chaos. A drape of white cloth upon which lies a cup; a candle there, unlit for now but soon to be anointed by flame.

I know he's waiting for me so that I can unburden myself. He's probably thinking as well, it's been so long since I've been back. I wait outside the door for just a moment, taking in the tranquil quiet, the peaceful shadow.

But first I will light the candle, for me, for souls unlit. For the ones I could save and those I could not, all merging now into one sustained breath that ignites this small candle into flame. The flame swirls up unto the heavens as the stars bow and draw backwards.

In my pocket are implements forgotten. I gently finger them like beads, uttering the words that came from my mouth as I worked with them, words that strung out like coronals of roses as I disturbed another’s solemn remains, bent and bowed to my duties. Forgive me. Forgive them.

I pull those tools of my day from my pocket and lay them upon the white cloth. In the candlelight they gleam like the nicked and scuffed chain mail armor of angels.

From behind the door I hear the murmur of movement as my arrival is sensed. I stand outside, as silent as I did not long before, tongues of ash and flakes of fire raining on down, anointing the bones of men. How I wish they would stir, awakening to the fire, but they sometimes do not. I make the sign of the cross, peace to their ashes.

I open the door but it is not the door to penance and confession, not at this hour, this place. But it is a door to one that still, with heart untouched by either sin or evil, will listen to me even if he cannot speak.

He will listen as liquid words flow from weary brain, symbols that are not of a periodical but of the elements of mystery, questions asked, and reasoning answered. He will listen without asking and he will forgive without penance, though he can be stirred to almost evangelical zeal by a small nugget of biscuit.

From the distance, a church bell---a sound that does more than note one more hour, one more increment of time and grief that's ticked since Genesis. It's the sound of hope and faith, one that cleaves the air with a sharp instrument of promise as a dog joyously barks.

For it is not a man of a cloth I was unburdening myself to, but my best friend Barkley the Labrador retriever.

When he has eaten first I will go out to sit at that cloth covered table. I will take the meat, the bread, and the wine and I will pause, bent with sin but saved by grace, there as I bow my head in thanks. It is thanks not just for the company of friends and the reminder of hope but for a small furred creature who blessed me with the wag of a tail.

* * *

I awoke with tears on my face and the comfort of words in my head.


I think it is time to add another dog to this home. This time it's going to be a rescue, a dog who needs a home as much as we need him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wild Blue Wander

The air didn't stir, not even the steady inhalation of the crew disturbing it.

Outside as the wind rushed past at 400 and some miles an hour, the clouds go by the window like a blur. Passengers don't get this view, and if you're lucky and have a cruise altitude right on top of the cloud deck, where you are going in and out of the whitecaps of clouds, it's a breathtaking display of speed.

But outside right now there was only darkness and inside only those small sounds that survive each movement, the flick of a switch, the input of data, plotting course and heading, the key of a mic.

Dad asked me the other night if I missed it. not flying in general, the putting around the sky in a small craft, stopping for a landing and a hamburger somewhere, but the flying that I used to do. If someone walked up to me today and said "here's your jet and the credit card to pay for its gas", I'd be on my way to some far corner of the world in a heartbeat.  But the thought of getting up at 3:00 am to put in a 15 hour day, eating meals that might actually be good warm, and being away from loved ones for weeks on end lost its appeal somewhere around my 40th birthday. Flying over countries where there is occasionally small arms fire is even less appealing.
So I hesitated as part of me, snug in the warmth of my house, with hot coffee and biscuits in the oven, was thinking "no I don't miss it at all".

There are part I miss.  I missed the chirp of wheels on a very short strip that had likely  not seen a large transport before, and the crowd that came out to see this wonder.  I miss seeing the formation of weather from aloft, the ring of moisture laden air that dances around the calm of the center even as the air currents begin their uprising, forming into a sinister dark wall that should have a sign on it "there be dragons".
I miss the low moaning of the engines as the sun peeks up over the horizon as we head into the eastern sky, our ship laboring heavily in a sky of black water now lit by the gleam of a distant world. I miss looking up into the heavens, of the generation that still knew how to navigate by the stars, the stars themselves looking at us as if for the last time, the cluster of their brilliance, laying like a crown upon God's brow.

I miss the crews, even the not-so-nice one that liked to shove his seat back into the new engineer's knees on purpose.  It's surprising how warm the metal ends of a seatbelt can get when someone holds a lighter to them for a bit.  The sky holds its surprise  and its vengeance you think, as the flame diminishes to a burnt spark that vanishes with a click that's as sharp as metal against bone.

I miss some of the old birds, the ones that bear with them the weary air of a schooner that's been around the world.  I miss those even more than the new, shiny craft with a glass cockpit and all the personality of a microwave.  So few of them left, so many just languishing in the desert.  Some have bones that rattle at night in the hot desert air, the fight in them still strong, even as their form is aged. Others fold their winds up in rest, weary from their battles.
I miss that feeling I had when four bars went on my shoulder for the first time, and I wore with it, not just a pride but a responsibility I wasn't sure I was ready for, even as my crew looked at me for their first directions.  But I found out quickly, just how weighty is that role when there's a fire in #2 and an inch thick coating of ice on the wipers and in the simple whine of a master caution light is every sound of the sky, the deep, drumming  vibration of the air and the clang of metal, tumultuous in only your head and you expect at any moment to hear your own name in the clamor of the ship that only you hear because you are the one it's doing battle with and you'd best do it now or your men will be lost. But you can't let them see this, you simply give the commands and make the movements you've practice a hundred times that calm down the sounds in your head, as the engine is secured and you make way to the nearest port.  It is only later, much later, and alone, that you let the fear out.

There are other things, that lie in distant memory that come to mind as I lay in my bed, one that I can sleep in without it pitching and rolling over an ocean at night. There's a conception of wind and weather that can't be experienced in any classroom, those storms that penetrate the defenses of man, the awful pause that is the ship's hesitation as it breaches a front, and the curse and the prayers that can be awakened within the breast, when you realize that the weather forecast is nothing more than someone in a dark room casting bones across the ground and hoping for the best.
There are a million little ways to hurt yourself, not the obvious big, hole in the ground kinds--but bungee cord engine covers and small pieces of metal, the dinosaur exoskeleton of a craft that is more carnivore than herbivore, which likes to take the occasional nip out of you as you prepare it for it's day.  I look at the small scars on my hands, and for an imperceptible moment, feel my fingers close upon a switch to start the engine at the beginning of the mission, a symbol of every little habit we pilots have that bind us to our wings.  In my mind I release it--listening for the sound of returning wind.

So many nights spent away from my family and my bed, my spirits falling with the barometer, longing for lightning, something to spark me from another strange bed in a strange land, eager to get back in the air again. There is so much missed out on-- birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, faces and names and sheer human touch, even as we bonded, brothers in arms, with weariness and laughter..
But it draws us, like moth to flame, that sky, in our youth and in our trust, giving us an confidence that some might call ego but we simply saw as something that we held that made us a worthy opponent to the demand of the day.  We looked at it as a challenge as a man in a shirt of chain-mail would watch the sharp point rushing towards him, born on the forward motion of deep black and the rush of the wind.  We loved the boredom of it, we loved the abject challenge of it and when the sound of the engine ceased, hopefully on the ground, it seemed as if there was a pause in every sound of the world, but that of our own hearts.

The sky, with it ability to tear up the earth, to uproot trees and to dash the small birds of the air to the ground, had simply challenged me in its path one day, and I stayed for the battle.  But the day came that I turned from her, not in submission but simply, with weariness.  It was on such a day that I looked at the visages of those that have gone before, those that climbed up to that line between earth and sky, that point in space where sometimes heaven does not release her crew back except as dust of this earth. And I knew I was ready to hang up my wings.
I enjoy what I do now, putting together the pieces of puzzles, the trinity of man, choice and fate that often ends badly but from which there can be reckoning.  Everything else is the past, one we can lean on and learn from, even as it remains in the past.  The whole great blue expanse of those memories for me now is simply a flicker, a small flame that blazes and then burns the fingers, as my future plucks me out of the noise and the wind that I had not been fully aware of, until I had passed beyond its hearing.

Like any airman that's done battle with the sky and lived to remember, I do miss it-- even as I leave it behind.
 - Brigid

Monday, May 18, 2015

Changes

I have been out of pocket  late working, doing a quick check on Dad out West, and doing a  final edit read of Old NFO's new Book on the Grey Man Series - Changes.  I'm NOT the beta reader you want for grammar but if you need to know how to correctly estimate the height of a headless body, apparently, I'm your gal.

Today - a single day off at home before going back to work. Not sure if I'll do anything. Yesterday started at 4 am. and I didn't get home until almost dark. You know you're tired when you're too knackered to microwave a chicken pot pie and dinner is 2 ounces with a splash of water.

For those waiting for Jim's book - it is SO worth the wait.  It was an incredibly riveting and detailed read, bringing back the characters we all loved, and introducing a few new ones.  (And I do NOT want to meet the guy known as "The Punisher" except over a friendly beer).

Til tomorrow folks.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Prepping Menu - Himilayan Style

Anyone that visits here regularly knows I do love my bacon.  But honestly, I eat meat-free meals  and snacks much of the time when I'm cooking during the work week.  It saves me a lot of money on grocery bills and is healthy when the vegetarian meals are based on real food and not pasta and neon colored cheese.

Having a number of bean/grain dishes on hand that everyone likes is good for both the budget, not to mention being easy to store long term in prepping supplies (you could easily replace the fresh onion and garlic with dried).

The following dish may not be particularly photogenic but it's one of my favorites, and about 25 cents a serving if you buy your food and spices in bulk.

Dal Bhat - a staple in the Nepalese diet, and something you will likely see for both lunch and dinner in that region, It's something I pack for lunch several days a week as it's cheap, surprisingly delicious and very filling, and I can eat it cold or hot depending on where I'm at.

Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups rice
4 cups water

I make mine in my all purpose steamer, 40 minutes and it's perfect.


1 sweet onion chopped
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons minced garlic (or 3 cloves of fresh garlic)
1 cup dry lentils (any variety)
3 cups water

1 -  14 1/2  ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1 teaspoon and it was wonderfully hot but not painfully so when paired with the rice)
1/2 teaspoon coriander (if you have it, I've made it with and without)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Start rice cooking.

In a Tablespoon  of olive oil, saute onion and garlic in a large fry pan on medium heat until softened. Add lentils and dry cook two minutes.

Add water, cover and cook covered on medium for 15-20 minutes.

Stir in spices and tomatoes.  Cover and cook covered  20-25 minutes - until lentils are soft and the liquid has been absorbed (medium heat or just enough for a gentle simmer/steam).

Serve on rice with a squeeze of lime juice.  It is often  garnished with cilantro and chopped red pepper but I usually serve mine with just the lime juice to save time and $$.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Night Quote

Growing Older is Mandatory---Growing Up is Optional.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Walther PP - The Simplicity of Firepower

The Wather PP (police pistol) was originally produced in 1929 at a factory at Zella-Melhis, which lies in what is now Eastern Germany.  Even being a bit late to the automatic pistol party, compared to such pistol manufacturers as Mauser, Luger and Colt, it was still considered a marvel in simplicity and accuracy.

The PP was one of the first commercially successful double action pistols, with an exposed hammer, a single column magazine and a fixed barrel, which acts as the guide rod for the recoil spring.  First issued to European Police and sport shooters, they became popular for both concealability and accuracy. During WWII, Walther produced many PP series pistols for the Wehrmacht (the uniformed armed forces of Germany during 1939 to 1945). It also became a popular sidearm for high ranking Nazi officers and party leaders (collectors will find some embellished and marked to denote the party or ministry and even the title of the person).
A model in simplicity and accuracy, they were one of the more copied pistols, with the exception of the venerable 1911, soon to be found all over the world, manufactured over the years in .22, .25, .32 and .380 calibers. The Walther PP, in any caliber, is straight blowback. More simply put, when the gun is fired,the barrel does not move rearward with the slide until chamber pressure diminishes. What retards the slide is simply its weight, the recoil spring and the main spring.

The PP's were part of a series that included the Walter PP, PPK (appearing in 1931), PPK/S and later, PPK.E. The PPK, with it's shorter grip and barrel is much more well known to people who aren't necessarily firearm collectors, being the pistol (a 7.65mm/.32 ACP) that was James Bond's signature guns in many of the films based on novels of Ian Fleming, who created the fictional character. That choice of a weapon had an effect on not only its popularity, but its recognition

The newer series are manufactured in Germany or the US, but this pistol is of decided German origin, 1945, and chambered in .32, the original chamber of the piece. Before ending up in the safe at the Range, it belonged to a long retired Midwest Police Officer. How he ended up with it, I did not know, as his family had little history, but many Walthers were brought back as trophies by returning GI's after WWII.
It is what is known as "AC marked", denoting a late wartime pistol from the Walther factory with milled finish (high polished finishes not being a priority during war time).  The AC proofmark is found on the side of the slide, and many of these firearms had neither Walther inscription or trademark, though this one does. You will find some with (pressed) wood grips and some with cross hatched plastic. During late war production, about anything was used and finish become progressively more crude as conditions for the German's deteriorated, though functionality remained quite good. Even so, Wartime PP's are favorites of collectors and those in mint condition can command a very good price.  Post War finish of the PP's and PPK's is still among the finest found.

Handling.  It's pretty much the same as most conventional DA/SA semiautomatic pistols, with a slide-mounted decocking system that's been emulated on many other pistols. The only other firearm in the series I've handled is the .380, which is more common. I think the sights on the .32 are a little bit better regulated for point of aim equals point of impact than the .380 and the double action was a bit smoother. But outside of that and barrel length I didn't see much cosmetic difference.
Another  advantage of the PP (and later PPK/s) over the PPK is that it has a full steel backstrap. That will provide a grip surface even if you manage to drop the piece, breaking a grip, or have one go missing. (if you drop the PPK and break the grips, save it for breakfast because at this point, it's toast, as far as firing)

The .32 also was also a little less "snappy" which any of you who've fired smaller firearms know what I mean.

Sights - fixed, about as simple as it gets, plain black front sight with the "U" notch in the rear.
Field Stripping.  To remove the slide, after checking that the magazine is removed and there is no round in the chamber, you must first pull down on the trigger guard. This is where an extra hand would be handy. Some people will twist the trigger guard slightly to one side to hold it against the frame. Twisting  parts on something that old is not always a great idea (any of you over 40 who have done Yoga will attest).

After clearing your firearm, you can use a pencil between the trigger guard and the frame (the equivalent of a slide catch on a sig) which takes the block out of the way so the slide can then be moved forward ("Gunsmithing with the No. 2 Pencil"- Firearm Bestseller - FAIL).

Being a fixed barrel design you must pull the slide rearward, lift and then slide forward. Still, it's quite easy with a little help.

The grips come off easily to access the internals and overall cleaning is pretty standard.  If you've field stripped any other PP model or most Sig's it's very intuitive.

Concealed carry. It is small, the barrel a bit less than 4 inches and slender so it's easy to conceal.  That being said, I'd certainly want something more than .32 if meeting up with someone intent on my serious harm or death.  But in the pocket, while in the garage, it would make a nice back up gun, chambered in something such as PMC 71-gr FMJ or Hornady 60-gr XTP. The FMJ does have decent penetration but some folks prefer a more expanding bullet, which would result in a wider wound channel. Personally, I'd use the XTP. Even if it's not as aggressive in its expansion, it would likely give you better "bad guy penetration" than the FMJ and it's a load that's been reliable for me.
Biting the hand that feeds you. As I've said before, the DA trigger pull on the .32's are a bit smoother and lighter than the .380s. Perhaps Walther added an increased power mainspring in addition to the recoil spring, or something else. In any event, the double action on the .32 is NICE.

But don't be fooled by light and pretty. This gun has sharp pointy teeth. The slide is mounted low enough that it is VERY easy to get your shooty hand bitten by the edge of the slide. My hands, as far as palm size and finger length, are about the same as most guys my height. Once when the moon was full and I was bitten by the first of the small pocket pistols, I was cursed with continually getting my hands nipped, even adjusting the way I held on to it. The Walther PP is no exception.You may go unscathed, but if you have big hands, considered your self forewarned.  Keep off the moors, stick to the roads.
Still, I'm glad this one found its way home. Although it has seen some use and wear, it's still a very elegant little piece, quite aesthetically pleasing with the long barrel.  It has some history, including from times in our world that we hope are never repeated. Yet, whatever its journey, it ended up in the hands of a good man, where it defended and protected for many years before making its home here. I'll keep it fed and clean and hopefully, with the proper stance, set of the mouth and a gentle hand, it will domesticate well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Miss Congeniality - Mid Week Range Recipe

It's not very photogenic, but it "has a great personality".

I went to Kroger last night to get some supplies, intending on making some Nepalese lentils and rice  (Dal Bhat,) a staple for a nourishing cheap lunch during the work week since I had some limes, cilantro and assorted peppers to use up (a popular garnish on the dish).  But then I spotted the tomatillas.

 As one of my readers, who generously kitchen tested the recipe a while back had this to say:

"Oh My Goodness! My yummy, scrumptious, tasty, awesome goodness! Excellent recipe, Brigid. I made it tonight and it got "excellent" for a review from my wife. It's staying in the recipe file. Thanks. " -David"

So for a busy week night - just a recipe,

Chicken Southwest  - made with tomatillas, which come into their glory normally in the month of July/August, but sometimes show up earlier in mild weather.  It was  my own spin on a recipe sent to me from a gal friend out West, original source unknown.

5 chicken breasts
salt to taste
5 thick slices provolone cheese
1/2 of a VERY large vidalia onion
1 1/4 tablespoon olive oil
8 small tomatillas, half of them chopped roughly, half sliced thinly
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons key lime juice
10 slices of jarred jalapeno
1/2 heaping teaspoon fresh mined garlic
1 small handful cilantro roughly chopped
1 1/3 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Penzey's Southwest Seasoning (or if you don't have it, ancho chili powder)

Salt the chicken breast and place in pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, saute sliced onion in olive oil until translucent. Chop tomatillas and put in a bowl with lime juice, garlic and jalapeno slices.

In another small bowl mix seasoning and cilantro.

When chicken is about 10 minutes from being done, add in lime juice, tomatillas, and garlic to onions on the stove and saute over medium heat to cook, stirring constantly.

When chicken "pings" top with slices of cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes. Add in cumin, Penzey's and Cilantro to the tomatilla mixture and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, until Cilantro wilts (just a few more minutes)

Serve chicken on top of rice, (I use a mix of basmatti and brown rice) and top with tomatilla mixture removed from the pan with a slotted spoon , drizzling the rice with a bit of the extra juice if you like.

Serve with sour cream and more cilantro. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Colt Magnum Carry - Add This to the Wish List


Many folks new to handguns consider revolvers "old fashioned" or even not worth looking into.  This may be due to their relativity low ammo capacity and a design that says more Maltese Falcon than The Matrix (like that's a bad thing).  But revolvers were used for serious defensive shooting, chosen above other firearms for a good reason. Back then, the average revolver was more reliable than a standard auto pistol.

Design had changed greatly over the years with respect to autopistols  and their reliability can be as good as the care you give them and the ammo you feed them.  But I can say one thing for a fact.  Even with the best of care, even with the best of ammo, and no "noodle wristing" allowed,  I've had a misfeed in an auto.

So that is something I think of whever I tuck a revolver in my holster for defense carry.  I've never had a misfeed in a cleaned and cared for revolver. Ever. I wish I had a bigger budget to own more, for they fascinate me, from a function standpoint, from a historical standpoint.  So when one of my favorite squirrel buddies offered to let me check his out for an online review there was NO way I was going to turn that down.


The Colt Magnum Carry.  It's a model of the Colt  that was only manufactured for one year, through the year 1999. This wasn't too long after Colt discontinued the last of the old "D" frame revolvers with plans to  build on the series.  The planned replacement for the "D" frame, was to be a series of small frame revolvers to replace the old Detective Special and Diamondback types.  Many of you reading here, I'm sure, are familiar with the Detective Special. Detective Specials were a snub nose revolver manufactured by the Colt Company starting in the late 1920's with a shortened barrel and compact frame, typically used by undercover policemen, which explains the name. The guns have been portrayed in many movies, one of my favorites "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Godfather" and on TV shows like "Dragnet" and "The "A-Team.."

And yes, for the Range Report, I wore too much bling,  assumed a modified Weaver, scowled and said "Pity the Fool" as a water (milk?) jug was slain.


The first in the series was the Colt SF-VI or Colt "Small Frame, Six Shot" (a .38 special revolver).  The name was to prevent confusion with the last of the Colt Detective Specials as they were still in the distribution pipeline.  The Colt SF frame was a stainless steel revolver that was essentially a small Colt King Cobra action with the King Cobra's transfer bar safety/ignition system. It was also essentially the same, dimension wise, as the D frame though.  Once all those were through distribution and to their new homes, Colt changed the name to the Cold DS-II, which many revolver buffs called the Detective Special Two.  That was never it's official name, which was simply DS-II.

Along came the  Colt Magnum Carry. This was the SF-VI/DS-II with a somewhat  thicker top strap and chambered in the .357 magnum. The first batch even carried the roll stamp "2nd Edition" on the barrel next to the words "Magnum Carry". Packaging was in a Colt Custom Shop's Box and Serial numbers start with the prefix SYxxxx. It featured fixed sights with frame notch rear, a serrated hammer, a nicely smooth trigger, fluted cylinder for six rounds and a factory Hogue black textured wraparound three finger groove grip that feels like home when you place that hand around it.


One year, just one year, it was available, to be discontinued in 2000 when Colt dropped most of their double action revolvers and .380 autos.

As the design evolved all of the guns were unique  with some similarities, and some differences.  The SF-VI and DS-II have a Colt contracted copy of the Pachmayr "Compac" grip.  (they look like the Pachmayr but don't have the steel liner inside and were made by Vintage Industries for Colt, not the Hogue grip of the Magnum carry.

None of them were big guns but they weren't the firearm equivalent of a Paris Hilton Purse Chihuahua either.. The standard barrel length for all three models was 2 1/8", but there some 3 inch ones floating around, I've heard.  Do readers know?


Range Report. 

Ammo - .357.  Need I say more?  .357 is rightly known for its power and is used in many other Colt revolvers, like my favorite, the Python and Anaconda models.  Like the other Detective models it holds six cartridges unlike the J frames which I believe typically held 5.

The Colt Magnum Carry instruction manual states that the gun can use regular .38 Special ammunition, as well as .38 Special +P and .38 Special +P+ ammunition, (high-velocity cartridges typically only used by law enforcement.) The Colt Magnum Carry may also fire .357 Magnum cartridges. Both were tried, both are dependable.  This firearm is a double-action revolver, so that when you press the trigger, it both cocks and releases the hammer, so you don't have to manually cock the hammer in order to fire.  Nice!

Finish and Frame:  The original Detective Special models had a dull black carbon finish. the Colt Magnum has a bright stainless steel finish with a black rubber grip and three finger mounts. It carried a frame-mounted rebound firing pin and transfer bar as well.  Frankly, this, to me, is just a beautiful firearm, in looks and function.  


Weight:  It's light, stated as 1.31 lb (0.595 kg). That's lighter than the Lawman which leads me to. .

Trigger - Heavy but pretty smooth.  I'd almost bet this one has had a trigger job.  There aren't a lot of gunsmiths that can do a really bang up job on a revolver trigger but they ARE out there and further down, I have included a link for one of them.

Recoil:  Think the slightly heavier Lawman packs some recoil? With .357 it's batten down your bustle and plant your feet in firmly, this baby is going to let you know it means business.  With .38 though,  it's about comparable to the Lawman though and it IS less than the Smith and Wesson Airweight.

Sight - Whoever designed the front sight was a 22 year old with 20/20 vision.  It's a smooth stainless steel blade with not as much contrast as these eyes needed but it was manageable close in. Author Frank W. James, who lets me blast whitetail on his property in the fall, sent his out for a  Patridge front sight, complete with the McGivern gold bead to the folks at http://www.cylinder-slide.com/.   He was very impressed with about the work they did on that, and his trigger.


Concealed Carry:  The Magnum Carry is easy to conceal, it's not a big gun considering the power. It's sort of a modified "round butt". I was told long ago that rounding increases concealability but to me, it just seems like you'd lose some of the grip dimension you need for solid control of the firearm during rapid fire situations. Still, with just some basic shooting from low ready and defense shots, it was imminently controllable.  It tucked smoothly into the holster as well, his a southpaw one. Yes, there is a reason there are no photos of targets from southpaw holster firing (I'd give my left arm to be ambidextrous)

Sight Picture - One thing with snubbies is that when they feel natural in my hand, they shoot just a tad too high. When you get it where you are getting the shot placement you want, it will initially feel like you are "pointed down".  Just something to be aware of.

Overall, it was a lot of fun. This is not a gun for the meek or the broke, but it's an excellent carry gun if you can find one. They are somewhat scarce and prized by some as a "must add" to a well rounded collection.  I was honored to get the chance to check it out. 

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go adjust my bustle.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Time and Tide

The morning is quiet, the phone silent, outside only the cool quietness of a Sunday morning.

It's Mother's Day, a  day of quiet reflection and of sorting through some old photographs that were just put quickly into a box for the move.  The phone won't likely ring today, but I smiled when I checked Amazon and saw that a few more Kindle's sold last night.

As I talked with a friend yesterday, we discussed how we tell our stories because they are in us. Money and fame can be indicators as to the merits of our craft, but underneath it is simply the joy that is in the telling, and the recognition within us that to others, the stories are worthy of being told.

As I opened that box, I see one photo of my brother and I. I am wearing a dress. I do NOT look happy.  I have the same attitude about dresses to this day, though in the closet is a Celtic blue and white wedding gown in the best Renaissance maiden style, worn with love that is as strong today as then.

Further down in a pile, a photo of my parents. They look to be in their 40's. They are in cowboy gear, surrounded by others in cowboy gear.  They look like their very own Roy Rogers movie and given the empties on the table - the cowboy gang had not just whiskey, but beer for their horses
There's a few photos from my youth.  I look at them in wonderment, not even being aware at the time of that youth, or even of my face or form, it just being the vehicle to move me through my days.

There's photos of my daughter, of my granddaughters, of great nieces and nephews.  There's a photo of that dress, that wedding that was almost two years ago, and seemed like yesterday.

Where did the time go?
Did I note as I left my early youth that the passage had begun?  Or did I simply float, detached from the earth, traveling solitary and swift through the skies, as if I were my own planet, the stars around me just distant distractions.

We do that, when we're young, casting off that which seeks to hold us earthbound, moving onward in that circular solitude that is the egocentricity of youth.  Once in a while we meet others like ourselves caught up in their own destinies, appearing as nothing more than a speck on the horizon then moving away.  We had our own futures, and they had theirs  We might join up in a brief flare of the sun that at the time seemed forever but in looking back we see it as brilliant and quick as a flash of the muzzle, as short as a fleeting dream.

Where did the time go?
I look at other pictures - those years purposefully alone, my life a landscape warmed by Autumn's sun but not enough where it stirs either heat or movement, lazy, brandied days of rest and exploration wrapped in a mantle of warm clouds. My shoulders are hunched from a load of hope and regret, but the eyes, even as they show tracings of laughter, are still bright, looking upward, not looking back to the past, seeing the future as an unlimited plain, even one walked with a sidearm.

To the floor falls the photo of an airplane; one with steam gauges and a sweep of wings unchanged since the Cold War.  So many hours in that craft where I did not find the true peace that is God until seven miles above the earth.  There would be days of the sublime sweetness that is a turbine engine's song, as we murmur to it, coaxing it higher with words as delicate as a lover's touch.  Then there are those days where God sends the messengers of our fate to us not in wrath against our presumptive push to heaven or the folly of man's invention but to warn our ignorant hearts that we are sometimes just along for the ride.
That airplane is probably now in the desert.  It's likely mothballed with a warthog and a tomcat or two, the desert air merely passing over it, as it's forgotten with a parting touch as light as an indulgent caress.

Where did the time go?

I look at another photo - of a form laying in the bed in their last days, having lived too long for the fire that's within them, but not nearly long enough. In those last days we would not talk of that coming Death for it was already with us, interrupting us with its silence, taking up space between us as we attempted to draw close. Death would reveal the color and sound of its truth soon enough, even as we did our best to keep it from hogging the conversation.

On the dresser now - a small but heavy box within which is the weight of love and three cartridges that rang out over a military cemetery.  Each one is an embodiment of the truth that Death has to have the last word.

Where did the time go?
The rain having ceased, I went  for a walk, looking slowly and carefully at others who are out enjoying the brief sun between storms.

There are the young teens, wearing unsuitable clothing as some badge of honor, ear buds in, enclosed in a world that includes only them.  Not yet chastened by the sudden discovery of the insignificance of their youth, they fly above anything of weight, and I smile, remembering too well those years, not wishing them back for any amount of gold.

There are the elderly-- wisps of hair made silver by time's brushstroke, eyes crunched and crinkled with much laughter and tears as salty as the sea.  They move with some difficulty, as if the earth grabs on to their feet with each step; but they are moving, looking at something ahead that I cannot see.

There is one couple out, about my age, looking worried and stern, unhappy that their knees may hurt, or there's another door ding in the car, moving sad and still  Is it by choice some get this way as we reach middle age, seeing mortality up close, hearing the voices of the dead, wearied by our own thoughts which used to fly with the rapidity and vividness of dreams?
There is another couple, also about my age, as I've seen them as I moved in.  But their age is invisible as they whiz by me on their bicycles, laughing into the wind, daring time to catch up with them. They might have some sore muscles tonight and but there may be whiskey and beer for their horses, shared without regrets.

I might have 50 years left I might have 50 days.  I know how I want to live them.
My youth is behind me, and what is ahead is known only to God himself.  I can go through the day with awareness of that which can't be recaptured  or I can snatch with a hand of courage, a moment from the remorseless rush of time.  I can hold in my hand the rescued fragments of life;  holding so tight I can feel the prick of its sharpness drawing a drop of warm blood as I breathe deep this day. That will be my truththat uncertain fate that binds us to one another, to the world.

Today is my time.  I will look at the future, and the end that waits us all, not as a cry, but as a whisper from a great distance, heard not with fear but an encouragement to wrest everything of this day that I can.

Today, I will arrest within the space of a breath that time.

For it is mine.

 - Brigid

On Mother's Day


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Girl's Day Out - Pomme Frites and Photos

Since tornadic weather kept me from driving home for a single night off, I hung around in Indy while Partner in Grime cleaned up from a plumbing project that had required the water being off for a while. (don't worry - I'm making homemade croissants tomorrow so he will be rewarded).

Girls Day Out!  It's been a couple of months with work, time at home and the move.  It started with detailed secret code known only between friends.

Tam:  Brugge Brassiere?

Me:  2 pm?

The clandestine arrangements made, A good nights sleep was had and after a walk with Abby it was time to make the drive into the city from the crash pad.

We've had some good times over the years on these regular outings, seeing the mundane, the incredible and sometimes, just the uh. . "uniqueness" that the stores and people of  Broad Ripple can be.
No, I did NOT buy a pair of these for Partner in Grime.

But there have been a lot of good times on such days.

Such as the time we were idling  idling at the intersection of Broad Ripple Avenue and College.  Suddenly, from the passenger seat, I hear a soft but sharp little "eek!", sound I'd never heard before.

Something just scared the bejesus out of  Tam .

Apparently, the giant plush snake that just been poked at her through the open window from the car idling right next to us. Not the recoil she's used to.

The snake was being wielded by a dapper elderly gent in a pristine Volkswagen "Thing".  Her "eek" gave way to laughing and he then picked up his companion from the passenger seat.  A giant stuffed marsupial of some sort,  holding it up at us so we could see its teeth and furry claws, waving its paw at us, then turning the corner on the green light with a cheery wave.

You expect to see some fine arts and good food here -  but not necessarily some old guy waving his snake at you.
Yes, welcome to Broad Ripple.

Today, Tam got there first - she was easy to find -  look for tall blond sitting at a table of cool camera stuff.  A camera with steam gauges.  I love it!

Drinks of course are on the schedule.

Pooka - a tart, almost sour beer brewed with boysenberry.

As Jed Clampett would say"Yea Doggies that's good!"  I could have had several but the last time I had too much beer at Brugge there was an incident involving someone flinging a mussel shell on a passing hippy on the trail that could have ended badly

That was followed  up by a meat, pate, cheese and fruit plate.
and hangar steak with pomme frites.

There was lots of catching up to do, with conversations on recent shooty outings.  After hearing about Tam's shooty fun lately, about all I could add was  "I did see a box of 22 LR and almost got to touch it!"

It's been sort of crazy busy the last few months and I've not been to the range but for basic proficiency in the last six months.

Then we traded the usual technical information.  I taught her all about Alarm Clock Bombs (Homeland security - such things simply involve  noisy neighbors, a large battery powered Chinese alarm clock  set to o'dark early. and some duct tape).

And I learned there are a million ways to die in the Frontlines universe though there seems to be no guidance document.  (Really?  Not even one of those yellow and black "Dummy" guides?)

Seriously good times catching up on our favorite authors, friends and family activities.
Broad Ripple was busy with people and cars and bikes.
And all sorts of things that probably have their own story to tell.
As the river gently flowed we said goodbye-- planning on another outing in the near future.
I'd be more excited to see you if you hadn't forgotten my pomme frites and hangar cow.