Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So how is that reloading going?

I'm learning a lot. The way I usually do. The hard way. Since I'm off to another state to speak at a conference tomorrow I will leave you with some reading material until my return.

Monday, July 27, 2009

All Fired Up

For cooking anyway. Some tidings from Turk who came into Indiana for the blog meet and stopped by the Range to visit on the way, bringing with him gifts of hot sauce for his friends.

You'll have to click on the picture to enlarge it to see the names. You can probably guess which one he picked out for me.:-) I can't wait to try it on something!

How about some Three cheese and smoked chicken enchiladas. This is a quick meal I've thrown together for my shooty friends more than once. There IS a lot of hot sauce here.

Add some cheddar cheese drop biscuits and some salad with a tangy vinaigrette to cool the fire and you're all set.

Click to enlarge. I dare you.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Let the Games Begin.

It had been many weeks since I'd been to the range, the first grouping with the Kahr made it that much sweeter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fishing spots

My dad bought me my own little fishing pole when I was barely big enough to hold on to it and then would watch with loving patience up on the bank to make sure I didn't fall in. So last night, when I discovered a forgotten little cherry rod during a recent clean up in the shed, I walked on down to the little lake that borders my property and sat on down for a spell.

I invite people I know through work or shooting who have grade school-age kids to come fish here on the tiny little body of fresh water right behind my house or on nearby park waters. Many have taken me up on the opportunity. It's a safe, quiet place, where the kids can fish while the adults wait "safely in the jeep", as they used to say on Wild Kingdom, with a cold ice tea or beer, listening to the laughter of kids used to city homes, tiny yards. It's a quiet spot away, for just a moment, from the exhaustive clamor of the city. It's appreciated and they often reciprocate by doing something to help me around my place. Though I appreciate the thanks, just the wide smile of a kid who has caught his first "big" fish is all the thanks any of us might need.

As I walked down to the water tonight, the sun was setting, leaving wisps of lavender ribbons across the sky; clouds moving up from the Plains, wispy strands through which I could glimpse was the phase of the moon.. The bobber moved slightly, a fish, or the wind? I saw one huge fin slicing the water when I first moved in; it was either a giant carp or Nessie. I was tempted to jerk the line, to see what I had, but I waited. This is what patience is all about, being wholeheartedly engaged in the process that's unfolding, rather than yank up the line to see what's at the other end. Patience is what I needed. I've been going full tilt for so long that when it all pulled into one moment of pain, I realized I needed to take a break. That's why, as I sat, I prayed for some quiet, I prayed for acceptance and patience. Patience isn't stressed, it isn't unhappy, its a steady strength we apply to each experience we face, be it life showing it's fangs, or a quiet weekend in a simple household.

As I waited, the call of what sounded like a loon brought me back into the moment and I thought about all the things I needed to do at home. Iron clothes in prep for a couple days on the road while I'm a guest speaker at some conference, cook dinner, call Dad and Tam back. And I stopped. "Can you hear that?" I whispered to Barkley, sitting by my side, tail wagging, poised to strike in case I reeled in a slab of hickory smoked bacon. "That" being the sound of a small bass jumping on a small span of water on a planet spinning through space.This is what fishing is all about, not catching anything, not putting a meal on the table, but for me, like flying a little tailwheel airplane, simply a time with nature to be savored when the whole body is one sense with the water and delight imbibes through every pore with the gossamer cast of a line. I really don't care if I catch anything, frankly, I'm not that enamored with that part of it, I just enjoyed the communion of elemental waters.

The crickets began their chorus to usher in the night, and the note of the sparrow is borne on the wind from over the water. And from the waters edge, a salamander crawled out, that traveler of both the water and the land, equally at home in both. We're all born of water, as we emerge from the watery landscape of the womb, we discover we can breathe, and we leave behind the comforting water world of our mother's body, to become searchers of the land, seekers of adventure. What caused that first being to emerge from the womb, from the water of life? The pull of nature, or something more primal? There was a Disney movie of a redheaded mermaid, half human, half fish, who gave up the freedom of her watery home for the love of a man. What is that primal urge that drives us out and up, away from our comfortable origins to a land that can often be dry and barren? Perhaps we simply leave the water searching for that love.

As the last of the daylight seeped back into the sky, I thought back to what has been troubling me, but only briefly, for my mind now, like the lake, is rippled but not ruffled. These small ripples of water raised by the evening's wind are only a hint of turmoil in a slowly calming stream. As the day pulled out of the sky taking the wind with it, I cast back out into the now still center of the pond, the moment causing me to hold in my breath. There it was. Utter and complete stillness. I wanted to hold my breath, because even inhaling and exhaling was like a cacophony. The trees were absolutely quiet, the animals of day hunkering down for rest, and the night creatures not yet stirring. There was no breeze, no recognition of air even; it was the sound of nothing and everything. It felt like all life…and my future…and beyond was contained in one space, and I was not just casting into it, I was part of it. It's one of the most peaceful coherent moments I've experienced. A heavenly spot of time.

Poets talk about "spots of time," but its only been flying and on the water where I've experienced eternity compressed into a moment. A moment where in an instant you can see your whole life and make a choice. No one can even explain to you what this "spot of time" is until your whole horizon is a fish and then the fish is gone. I thought of one salmon off in the great North. I shall remember that fish when I'm an old lady. After fighting him until my arms groaned, I brought him up. For a moment, I saw the sun glinting off his 30 pound back, rainbow diamonds of light dazzling my eyes. I was so enamored of him I couldn't even take a breath and in that instant before he was gone, line snapped, it seemed as if time had stumbled. Then as the clock picked itself up again, I looked at the bare expanse of water while others patted me on the back, consoling me and urging me to try again. Only then did it hit me what it was that I had lost.

I thought back to fly fishing in Gunnison while I went back to Colorado to visit family, watching the fly fisherman standing, rod in hand, in the rushing water making the most beautiful movements, a ballet of line and wind and hook. A ritual of the chase, the cast like a tease to the unsuspecting trout, placid in their world, until he pulled them into his. As the trout took the bait, the man would smile, that quick knowing smile, and pull with a quick flick of his fingers and hands, like lightstrokes on a keyboard, and plant the hook. Then after reeling the trout in, he gently pulled the hook from the mouth, gently cradling the fish in his hand as a way of speaking his peace. Without a sound and a quick unemotional tickle of her belly, he said goodbye to her as she headed back downstream.

Catch and release.

With my house fading into shadow, darkness falling, I decided to head back. I didn't catch anything, my true catch was as intangible and indescribable as the twilight playing on the water. I think of what Thoreau said "many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after". For to fish is to flirt, with dancing water and surging life, warm lips to cool water, we reach for a transparent kiss of the unknown. We willingly bite the secret barb, to be brought to shore barely breathing, gasping up into somewhere unknown, searching upward to catch a glimpse of who it was that wanted us.

Tonight I have no choice but to pull the hook of that fly out of my lips and swim away safely downstream.

Catch and release.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Grab and Go Breakfast

I hit the day running and other than weekends, there isn't time for breakfast. So, sometimes "breakfast" is an oatmeal cookie or a honey and oat granola bar. If I'm desperate there are some snacks in the break room at work, but Pop Tarts in my opinion, are not food.

Or this time, a little treat to take into the office and share. Scandahoovian Almond Bars. A rich, not too sweet, buttery dough flecked with sliced toasted almonds and just barely drizzled with almond infused frosting. They're tender crisp yet soft in the middle on day one. Day two, they're crispier and great to dunk in coffee. Day three, I hear they get pretty hard but I've never had any last that long.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A week off.

I'm taking a week or so off from blogging. I'm getting a bit burned out between this and work lately. I post daily and see pictures of a piece of ham get 30 comments and an essay that's like opening a vein get four. I understand why, but still I wonder some nights it's worth the time away from other things that during this time of year I really need to do.

Life has piled it on lately,and I've grown disillusioned about human nature in general. When this happens, I need to just hole up and be by myself with my thoughts for a while and then I'll be fine. Some open sky, a knife, a gun, some beans and cornbread. I hope you will all be here when I come back, but I understand that sometimes when one is away, the cattle wander off.

I'll be back soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Air and Water. Water and Air.

Air and water. Water and Air. The two elements of this world that I love the most. Part of my childhood was spent on the waters of a lake in Montana where we stayed at a little cabin some summers, years before Californians discovered it and developers took over the place, building vast condos that blocked out the sun.

My brothers and I would get up while it was still dark, and march down to the waters edge, hoping to get there to see the dawn explode over the water. During the day we'd float upon it in inner tubes, flotillas of youth, between fishing and swimming. I could spend hours there, just watching the way the water shaped itself around the rocks and me, the gentle waves moving against the shore, like breathing. In the bright cold water, there would be bass and crappie and all wonders of strange life.

We'd wade along the edges, gingerly looking, while not harming anything that was there, hoping to find a prehistoric shell to take home, knowing that at some time, this whole land had been ocean. We occasionally found bits and pieces of things, but nothing ever matched the one perfect shell we got on that trip to the Oregon coast to meet out cousins one summer. Many of you have seen a sand dollar. They're commonly sold in souvenir stores. But what you see is only the remaining skeleton of a living sea creature. When living, the sand dollar is covered with fine hair like cilia that cover tiny spines, soft, and almost purple in color. But the remaining shell is beautiful, fragile, white. The essential essence of what this creature was.

Until I was about 10 I wanted to be a Biologist, preferably a marine biologist (that or a spy, biologists didn't get to have cool guns and shoe phones). Then one morning, when I was in my early teens, as I ran and launched myself off of a dock, airborne for only a moment before splashing into the ice cold water, I heard a sound. It was a small plane flying up over the high altitude lake, causing me to look up in wonder, not ever having seen one in this remote area. Wondering who the pilot was and what that must be like. My world in that moment, was more than one with the water, but was the world of air and sky, and though I felt as if I was living in a alien world in either, among creatures that were so different from me, somehow I knew I would belong there.

After that, on summer nights when we'd build a fire and sit and listen to the lapping of the waves, dreams of my airborne future filled my head. The sound of the water, growing and swelling in rhythm to my heart beat, an accompaniment to the laughing and roasted marshmallows, the joys of a night on the water, under open stars. My heart had shifted, I would likely major in the sciences I loved, yet the affirmation and promise of the rushing waters that carried those aerial dreams needed to be a part of me.

It wasn't too many years before I was taking lessons after school and soon was practicing "turns about a point", ground reference maneuvers, low over collections of small lakes. It was a perfect time, for those hours I was free. I've always been that way, devoted to family, but chafing at a leash, electronic or otherwise that follows me when I am earthbound, making me long for the sky.

Tonight I needed to get back up there watching the clouds go past, thinking back to my first flight over 20 years ago, to the first person I ever kissed, to the smell of Lycoming exhaust mixed with the scent of fresh cornfield, to the distant memory of what it feels to be free. Patiently sitting, watching, remembering everything past, hoping for everything good of the future, in a bone deep calm that only a pilot or people who make long road trips probably understand, until it's finally time to descend. To descend through layer on layer of cloud, thinking back, layer and layer of memory. Memories in an airplane, the first, the last, in the heart of the nation or over still mountain lakes, winter to summer, hours to minutes. From that first flight to this one, the distance seems endless.

Water and Air. Air and Water. I make that final descent for the airport, the heat of legions of cornstalk pressing in around me, the sun so bright I glint into the glare, trying to catch a glimpse to the runway, rousing myself from the almost stupor that descends from an hour aloft. It's like being a child, being coaxed from the back of a car after a long drive to make a quick stop at a gas station when all you want to do is crawl back in the cool seat, book in lap, moving 70 miles an hour towards the place you most want to be. In my mind I was already on the way there, passing all the small towns in which I would never live and people I'd never get a chance to talk to, rushing headlong towards the place where the rest of my life was awaiting me. Somewhere just up ahead in the blue.

The blue of the sky glances off the blue of the reservoir, I soar past small islands of clouds as the sky and the water and the whole universe appear as an infinite expanse of deep blue calm.
The being and cadence of rushing water is part of who I am, as is the rush of wind past the cockpit, directing the currents of my future, setting the pace of my desire, powering the shape of my dreams. The undercurrents of air and sky over time has shaped who I am, eroding away all that is non essential, til all that is left is pure white thought, a pristine light shell that is my soul.

Air and Water.
Water and Air. I descend into the deepening blue, dreading the anchor of earth again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Outdoors 9-11

This last week I had a chance to get a long walk out in the woods out past where the corn stops growing. I took a light coat in case of rain, as it's been unusually cold and wet, and of course, a trusty .45 in a Blackhawk holster. This is my "outdoors hiking, moving, fall and winter holster". It's not as sleek as many other holsters I own, but in the clothing I wear outdoors it works, and works very well for what I need it for. This particular holster is unique in that there's a locking mechanism that keeps the gun in place during other than just strolling movement, as well as acts in preventing someone else from grabbing it. Yet with a little practice, it is as easy as pie for you to draw.

Cabela's says "Thumb breaks can slow your draw and get in the way when you re-holster. But you won't experience those drawbacks with Blackhawk's patented SERPA Technology™. It engages the trigger guard as you holster your firearm and secures it until you release using the normal drawing motion with your trigger finger alongside the holster. No snaps or straps to get in the way. The textured Carbon Fiber model can be worn on a belt or used as a paddle holster."

I've had mine four years and it works without a hitch and has held up very well. The one thing I noted when I first put this on was how SECURE it was. I could pole dance with this thing and it wouldn't budge.

It's home to a .220 and draws with the finger indexed where it is supposed to be, off the trigger. Unlocks easily, re-holsters easily and locks with no insertion force. This is a holster that's NOT going to make it easy for someone to take this gun away from me.

The drawbacks? The paddle attachment that comes with it really grips my jeans when I'm carrying. That's wonderful from a retention aspect, but at the end of the long day, sometimes it's a bear to get off. The belt slot attachment works better with belts up to one and 3/4 inches (when you remove the two spacers). I would recommend practice with it as well, quick firing capability is there, but it's something you should practice with, as it might be different than what you are used to.

But it is my favorite holster for being outdoors with a vest or jacket on to conceal the bulk that's more than some holsters.
I've spent a lot of time in the back country. All of it alone. I've camped, but not in a "National Park", because frankly, until recently, as a lone female, I wasn't going in one unarmed. If you're in the outdoors and you have an encounter with a criminal or an aggressive animal, there is no 9-11 box where you can call the police. And just like in the suburbs, 9-11 isn't going to do you a lot of good if you're staring down the face of a knife in the hands of some thug and the police are not going to be there in the next 10 minutes.

There were four bear attacks in parks last year that I know of. Small risk when you consider the millions of visitors. But think again. Bears aren't the biggest danger. The last year I could find statistics on violent crime in the parks from was 2006. For some reason, they haven't posted them where they are easy to find since then. In 2006, there were 116,588 reported offenses, including 11 killings, 35 rapes or attempted rapes, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings and 261 aggravated assaults.

Crime and violence are working their way into our rural areas and our parks. The days of mellow nights under the stars with perhaps your only fear, that of cowtippers or Yogi the Bear stealing your picnic basket, are over.
Urban problems are creeping ever outward, with alcohol or drugs being part of most violent incidents. Hideaway methamphetamine labs and marijuana fields in rural areas and forests are one reason, society degrading as unemployment skyrockets is another.

When the "guns in national parts" debate was ongoing the detractors said that guns would "ruin the outdoor experience". I don't know about you, but some whacko defending his meth lab intent on raping and killing me would certainly ruin MY park experience.

I don't fear the local four legged predators, the most common around here being coyotes. I fear the two legged animals. So I carry when I'm outdoors. Like the coyotes who share my land, I am alone even when I'm in my pack, dispossessed except for those times I am in the outdoors, for it is only the outdoors that feeds and nourishes me. I haunt the shadows of the wilderness that my own race continues to destroy. Yet, like the small field rabbits that are the coyote's prey, I just want to go about my way, unmolested, free to travel in sunlight or darkness without fear.
Some say we are safer out here in the country, in these small towns of America. Despite the country setting, and red white and blue speckled mailboxes, there is no truly safe place anymore, especially for a woman. Though there are certainly more crimes where more people live or where the the law-abiding are disarmed, the heart of evil roams equally at will through asphalt and country roads. Predators are among us, watching from a line at the corner market, waiting in the darkness of a rural parking lot or that untraveled, unbeaten path. Waiting for that sign, that manner, that tells them that you are un-toothed and un-fanged, a soft and vulnerable target.

Our primordial past is closer than we realize. Watching us.
So I carry something large, and black as night, in a holster that holds up to it's job. Because not every creature in the woods is some furry gentle creature seeking sustenance at my door in the night.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Free Range Chicken


The appliance repair people finally called. It was either going to be
(1) you get a new range under warranty or
(2) we have the part that was shipped via Djibouti.

The part is in, to be installed on my next day off, this Friday. So another work week of non- kitchen cooked meals. I've got pretty good at alternative methods, but tonight I was craving homestyle chicken and noodles after no breakfast and a wimpy salad lunch. How to do it without a stove?


Grill some chicken tenders on the barbecue with just a little seasoning salt.
Slice and toss them with some caramelized onion and garlic that you've cooked in a cast iron skillet over the coals in a tiny bit of butter. Remove the chicken and veggies to a covered small bowl and keep the cast iron pan handy. Do not wipe it out and keep it warm.
Get some water simmering as best you can and cook some WIDE fresh noodles in a separate pot. Pick a good quality Italian or Amish style noodle, no wimpy generic noodles for this dish.

Make the sauce in the cast iron pan. Traditional chicken and noodles has a cream sauce but this Home on the Range version has an alfredo style sauce with the addition of an extra kind of cheese and some special seasoning. It's fool proof and can be made in minutes.

You will just need three kinds of cheese, some milk and seasoning.

Lightly steam or grill some fresh broccoli or other veggie while the sauce simmers. Toss it all together and serve with some more fresh grated cheese.

Dinner in a little more than a half hour without a stove.