Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home (on the Range) Improvements

When I first purchased Home on the Range I was surprised the house had been on the market for a year and a half. The setting out in a rural community was beautiful, and the price a lot less than I expected. Then I walked in. Let's just say it needed some "updating". The landscaping was beautiful and the house itself, spotlessly clean, but the decor was dark and Victorian, and though there were some good windows, they were all covered up with heavy wooden valances and dark drapes.

Then there were the surprises. Home improvements done by others who, let's just say, should have left well enough alone.

But I persevered. Ripping our drywall, making rooms bigger, windows released from the heavy valances to open sun, new drywall, new tile, wood moldings, paint, fixing up a sun room which is now my office and Barkley's favorite nap spot on the little love seat therein. I did most of it myself,but after the initial frenzy when I first moved in, the work has settled down to bits and pieces of updating. New tile in the kitchen this last Spring, this next Spring a new roof and updated shop if the money's there. I plan on totally gutting the kitchen, but for now, paint, new tile and ripped out the flower wallpaper. It's definitely better than it was.
PINK KITCHENS. Always a crowd pleaser.
Much better.There's a huge formal dining room where I have a glass topped table big enough to feed a crowd but I prefer my little breakfast nook if it's just one or two people for supper, or a nice Breakfast on Saturday as the sun comes up over the pond.It HAS been a project.

For example. Guest Room #1. Well, here's what I started with. Yes that is PINK and RED
That's a little better. No pink cabinets. Big bed, grey walls.

Then there was a nice little living area off of the kitchen. Dark flocked pink wallpaper, low ceilings and dark. It about took C4 to get that wallpaper off of there.
This is better. 20 foot ceiling, at it's peak over the kitchen, part of a wall knocked out, and wide open. A door to the back deck with glass for more light.
The pink and dark living room? (No picture, it was THAT dark) there on the other side of the wall above? A wall cleared out, a perfect spot for Christmas with those I love.
And of course the guest room bathroom,. The vanity took up most of the room, making it look even smaller and yes it was pink with a cheap plastic counter. Think Barbie's not so dream bathroom.
But I could picture it taking shape, with odds and ends that I picked up with a vision in mind. A mirror, to hang over the vanity,that was made out of a beautiful piece of furniture to with a marble top and sink were added.

The floor made a huge difference, a synthetic tile that looks and feels like stone under the feet. The sink and mirror and lighting fixture, I raised up a few inches, as I'm tall, as are most of my friends. Not a noticeable difference unless you're a guest trying to shave in a mirror that's too low. The toilet and tub were in good shape, Just a general clean up and some fresh paint.












The walls are a Sherwin Williams color called Leather Bound, that, with the texture of the walls, look like rich warm amber leather. You can't quite tell the true color from the picture above, it's actually darker and richer than what that appears, but you get the general idea.

Then artwork. A leaf which I collaged over a piece of old fabric, hand stenciled and framed.

The lighting is subtle, with amber frosted glass, some dried flowers and some big soft towels. Old fashioned yet comfortable.

Still, I'm really pleased by how it turned out, especially since I did the whole thing for just a few hundred dollars.
When that room was done I could really feel how tired I was as I gathered up the fabric that will make the shower curtain up, a rich dense tapestry of material of browns and reds and golds, shining in the sun, I admired my handiwork, work that took up days, with as much breath and punishment, vision and euphoria as such a project entails. I was almost happy to have it done.













Hard work yet rewarding work. A good shop and a home that's self sufficient in times of problems is good. And tools. Did I mention tools? :-)


But enjoy hard work and the many things we learn about ourselves as well it. Small things, a house of new dreams.

I wonder if I should inform the neighbors

click on photo to enlarge

Monday, September 28, 2009

No Fruity Oaty bars???

Fruity Oaty Bars! Make a man out of a mouse!
Fruity Oaty Bars! Make you bust out of your blouse!
Eat them all the time! Let them blow your mind...
Ohh! Fruity Oaty Bars!

Fruity Oaty Bars Jingle - Firefly -the Serenity Movie

Well I'm not sure if they're quite the same as Fruity Oaty bars, but mention some chocolate cappuccino cheesecake bars made with Oreo Cookie crust and King Arthur flour's cappuccino baking chips and someone might bust out of something.

You've been warned.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

BLOG MEET

In attendance was the usual gang with Shooty Buddy and Mad St. Jack showing after the photo was taken. Old Grouch, Roberta X , Tam - View from the Porch, Joanna, Wayne, Shermlock Shomes and his bride, Rob, Mycroft Holmes and myself

A Belgium brewpub, Brugge Brasserie in Broad Ripple was the scene for the afternoons gathering. With, of course, name tags. I'll let you figure out who was who.

We don't need no stinkin'. . .
A Firefly fan. Mr. Cobb??
It's a brewpub as well so plenty of "medications" were available.
The "Other" Wayne
Our favorite Alpha Geekette
A Heinlein fan. . .
Guess Who?
No, this is NOT backwards in photo editing.
Turn around slowly and no one will get hurt. .
Then there was the food. Succulent tenderloins you could cut with a spoon, crepes, cheeses, sandwiches and of course what B.B. is famous for. . .

Would you like fries with that?

The dipping sauces include sweet chili, horseradish, homemade ketchup, roasted garlic aioli, blue cheese, hot curry (the group favorite), herb pesto, sea salt and sherry vinegar, Dijon/maple. . .

The beers are handcrafted. I'm on duty tonight so iced tea for me :-( But this hoppy Ale went along with some incredible stew and sure looked good.

A good time was had by all. . .

Fixing Trust Issues

I've mentioned several times on this blog that I have a Blackhawk holster for my Sig P226. It's not as sleek as many other holsters I own, but for the clothing I wear outdoors, it was a holster that a number of people recommended. 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.

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.


I noticed when I bought it how SECURE it was. It just flat out didn't budge and though it was a tad bulky I was happy with it. Until a weekend ago.

I went to a LEO range with a colleague and decided to do some "draw from holster" with it.

IT JAMMED

That's right. Facing off to Mr. Paper Bad Guy. I went to do a quick draw and it wouldn't come out of the holster. I checked the snugness of my belt. I checked the angle. Everything was normal. Same gun, the only gun I carry in it. I tried it the way I always do. Nothing. The gun would not come out. On about the 4th try it came out, reluctantly After that it worked, but not every time. I had Rangebuddy try it as well next time out with it. He's an ex Army Ranger and is as knowledgeable about weapons and their accessories as anyone I've ever met. He's quite familiar with Blackhawk. It stuck on him too.

A jam, equipment malfunction or a misfire on the range is frustrating. Hunting it will certainly ruin your mood. I'm sure more than one of us has been out there, muzzle loading or shotgun hunting for whitetail or Elk. You''ve been up since well before dawn, treading out into the woods across the sheen of first snow as quietly as you can, like walking on buttered glass, trying not to fall, trying not to make too much noise . You've waited, and waited, belly empty, bladder full, for that perfect shot. Still, you feel that old lift of your heart, that pristine feeling of new adventure, as if on your first day, as if you'd never lose it, no matter how long you've done this, the best of it all, the risk, the humility the pride. And you wait, until that perfect moment, the target clearly identified and in range and you pull the trigger and there's nothing but the snicker of metal against metal and nothing happens. The shot that wasn't lingers in the thick streaming air and your breath exhales as your 12 pointer and the does he was chasing bound away to the next county. It's not a good feeling.
But I don't carry this holster and this weapon for the range or for the hunt. I carry where I am the prey, and a"click click" instead of a "boom boom" may be the last sounds I ever hear.

I've worn this holster for over a couple of years, not daily certainly, but on regular weekends out in the city, drawing from it enough for practice until I found it easy to use. The SERPA button is very lightly sprung, I'm guessing by known weights of single action trigger pulls it's probably just a little over a pound. Point being, it's light, and doesn't require must of a conscious effort to operate it, no tugging or strength of hand, so I never noticed any impediment to a natural, instinctive draw stroke.

The holster has not been exposed to any heat or conditions that would warp it. It's not dirty. I wasn't doing a one-handed reload where I might have inadvertently inserted the gun in the holster facing backwards (when you do that I understand the tension device in the holster can lock behind the front sight, locking the gun in the holster.) I don't pull up on the weapon at all before or while pressing the button. I drew exactly as I've drawn it hundreds of times, having bought a couple of these over the years.

The SERPA button just stuck.

The manufacturer's website said The ‘Serpa Active Retention’ design consists of a plastic L-shaped component which functions as the release button [from the outside of the holster] and as the lock [which engages inside the trigger guard]. The short leg of the L-shaped lever pivots inward [toward the pistol], while the locking tab pivots outward to release the pistol from the holster.
My hand is as large as far as finger length as that of most men, so it's not the length of my index finger. It might be a piece of grit of something that not noticeable to the eye or just a defect in this one piece that showed up over time. Frankly folks, I'm at a loss as to explain, but I won't be using this holster for concealed carry any more. I'm not going to badmouth Blackhawk. Look, we all have issues with things, people, products etc. But I'm not going to put a label on someone or something for the entire interweb to see just for one problem. I still think they have a fine product overall. Certainly this one has worked for me for a LONG time. Anything made by man, even by the best of companies, has the potential to fail. Anything mechanical can fail. Looking at it closely I couldn't see any defect, scratch, dirt, etc. Nothing that would explain the failure when used in the same manner it's always been used. But I do know I will replace this one for concealed. I don't think I'd trust my life on it now.
I replaced it with the the Sig Arms/Sig Sauer Paddle Holster. They make one of these for the P220, P226, P229 and P250 models. It's polymer and fits over the waistband (which may be nice as I'm not a big belt fan) It seems to fit pretty secure and drawing from holster with it went off without a hitch. Sig advertises is as "one of the fastest drawing holsters you can find." and, like the Blackhawk, advertises "an easy to use retention system which holds the weapon secure. To access the pistol, simple depress the holster retention lever and draw the pistol from the holster. " The holster is fully adjustable for cant. I'll let you know how I like it after some range work.

I hate to let the Blackhawk sit. I've counted on it a long time. Trust is a two way street, if you ask for it you should give it back. And this old holster let me down.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pathways to Home

In a week I'll be loading up the truck and heading West to visit my daughter and do some hiking and outdoor adventuring with my best friend. Barkley is staying behind with a good friend who tends the place when I'm gone. He loves her and I know the place will be in good hands. I'm looking forward to both the drive and the trip. I've not had a "real" vacation in over 5 years, tending to my folks on my time off as they had a few health issues. Plus I love the Rockies. I've spent a fair amount of time there over the years since Brigid Jr. moved there with her adoptive parents and my pilot friend Deb got married to a local and built a cabin on the side of a mountain 15 years ago. Myself? I've lived all over the place over the last 20 years.

This is the longest I've lived in one place, though I'm settling into the land with thirsty roots. I won't retire in this home. The city is growing too close. At one time I thought I'd build back in Montana, but the Midwest has claimed me, and the song of the Plains is a siren to the gregarious loner in me. For now, this is what I need, close enough to where I can fly out for work, or make it into a city office in less than an hour. In a few years, a self sufficient and smaller home on a whole lot of land, big enough to hunt on. This fits me for now. For most of my life, I couldn't imagine living anywhere for more than a few years, and it's not because the desire isn't there. It's just been the life I have led. I guess the wandering spirit runs in my blood, passed on my from Air Force father to me. Seems like ever since I got a control yoke in my hand I've been wandering across miles of land . . . across rivers and towns. My Mom would have preferred I marry a hometown boy and stay in the tiny town in which I was raised, but once I tasted adventure, I was born into that gypsy life and have never really known another.

I have probably moved a dozen times in 20 years, chasing a flying dream for a while, then, back to school, then another school, then internships and a promotion in another city. St. Expurey said "he who would travel happily must travel light". And this adventurer did travel light, living on a boat, and small apartments for those first years, my books my biggest possessions and my photos of friends and family around my bed my only company most nights.There have been so many flights, so many moment that shine in my memory, milestones along the uncharted airway that made up my life. In the early years, I remember not just the airplanes themselves as I instructed to pay for college, but the feel of the cotton shirt I wore, the smell of my students aftershave, the song that was playing inside when I ran in to check the weather again. It seems as if all my early years were reflected in the window of those moving airplanes. I see my reflection, my past, through bug sprayed glass that tints the world bright.

The airplane, the destination and the years changed, as did the landscape of my career, but what was inside was always the same, drawn back to the sky as a way of release. The firm tension of the throttles, the ever varying display of numbers on gauges that ranged from the antique to the technically sublime. My memory just remembers my hands, clasped on the yoke, a testament to their refusal to be separated for long. The voices of the controllers reminding me that I was of the earth, the window reflecting the satisfied smile of being exactly where I wanted to be. My friend or a copilot with me, chatting with me of his or her life, our plans for the weekend, our dreams for the future. It might have been Fall or Spring, morning or night, but the feeling deep within the remembrance always stays the same. My life's journey have have changed and if I didn't have roots, there was that one constant. That of my reflection in that little plane window, still enraptured by a cockpit's illumination of a dream. No one could take that from me.

To some people all those changes would have been upsetting. But the adventurer in me looked on it as simply new landscapes to a life that broadened. Certainly, not all the changes I chose, but I found crying about it didn't make it easier, it's easier to pack what remains and look onward. So I looked at each new move, each progression in my career, like a new page, a chance to experience each day, each sky in all its glory. Another suitcase to unpack, full of memories of adventure. Besides, I wouldn't know what to do with a full size bar of soap anyway.
So what if at an age when my friends had 3 kids and their mortgage half paid, I was grasping the second dream of my live, living out of boxes again. Boxes in which somewhere was my favorite Led Zeppelin tape. I could still crawl in the cockpit of a little plane once in a while, watching the day in yet another new state slowly unfold above the clouds. The sun casting a pink haze over the sky, long before I could actually see its rays, as the ridges that rose from the land took on a glow you can't see from the ground. For just a moment I could block out the sound of the Air Traffic Controller, and I could hear life whispering to me in the sound of a Lycoming engine. For that moment in space I could feel the depth and potential of my whole existence. No matter what my troubles were, fretting whether I'd done the right thing with a total career change mid thirties, or the time spent away from my parents and siblings - when the earth turned on its axis one more time and I saw that sun rising over the nose of my airplane, it was universe reminding me of all that I did have. Amongst which was yet another day aloft, breathing deep the freedom of choice.

Choices, like when I moved to a place I had never been, a place where my grandparents were born, when I found suddenly found myself single. Packing up books and a 12 point deer mount that sat on the front seat of my car wearing a baseball cap, eliciting honks from truck drivers and waves from little kids as I embarked on the journey. I drove two solid days, to arrive in the middle of the night in a place I'd never set foot except for a brief job interview. Miles and hours spent watching the landscape, silver grain elevators, red winged birds, gold winged motorcycles and farm trucks all blending into a bright diorama of my new life. From my view point in that tiny car I was sitting tall, this new land rushing past me, racing at me, then away from me, the bug spattering on the window and the chatter of the DJ in my ear. I watched a dozen cumulus clouds erupt, mass assassination of mayflies and the disappearance of a slice of cherry pie at a tiny diner and the trip was just beginning.
It's still ongoing, though I've been here a while now. I've healed in this place. Though adult when I got here, I've grown up in this place. My home has gone from an apartment with all the coziness of a dental lab to a sprawling, warm, wood and art filled home on a bit of land. I sit here tonight after a couple of days on the road, with a cold beer, watching the sun set on a pond. MY pond. My land. And despite setbacks and a couple of tears along the way, it's spawned new faith, and strength in the countless days marked with bitter cold and radiating warmth, monotonous wonderful days of work and friends, gunfire and laughter, water and sky. Countless days here, now receding like ancient glaciers that once crept down upon this place, leaving the land flat in their wake, leaving an ancient mark upon my heart. A gypsy heart that's taking root.

I may someday decide to move, but my heart will have a place here always.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturdays Don't Get Much Better

Family Fun Day at the Atlanta Conservation Club. Lots of different types of shooting sports going on to participate in or watch, and food for all. I had the most amazing venison chili that someone had on the stove in the clubhouse and shared, not to mention the free hot dogs, chips and drinks.

There was hands on gun safety tips and instructions for guests and the older kids provided by the good folks at Indy Gun Safety.

And a little bit of everything else for the adults. Ah.. . . . here it is !!

READY?
GO!

Hey, this one moves!

Beyond a table of black guns the only thing that could make this day better?

A trip to the family owned Cicero Dairy Queen (which will still dip your chocolate cone in butterscotch if you ask nice) and a stop, directly across the street, to Wyatt's Guns. Dairy Queen and a great gun store right next to each other? How good can it get?

It's a beautiful, clean facility, family run by the nicest folks. They had an interesting selection, from a couple of incredible collector's pieces to popular models at decent prices as well as many guns for the sportsmen and women. The service was top notch. I couldn't find a particular holster I was looking for and they ordered me one, at a very competitive price. A new indoor range is in the works and it is going to be as nice as anything I've seen in the state. Even though it's a ways from where I live, I will definitely be back.

Time to wave goodbye to my shooting friends and head on back; the long drive back to my own "range" tonight, where Barkley patiently waited for me, tail wagging on my return. After a day like today, I will sleep well, brass to be polished, memories to be stored.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

COLLATERAL

col·lat·er·al Pronunciation: \kə-ˈla-t(ə-)rəl\
1 a : accompanying as secondary or subordinate
b : serving to support or reinforce

Have any of you seen the movie Collateral? If you haven't DO. I am NOT a Tom Cruise Fan but his performance in this piece is not only unusual for him, and extremely good. The plot in a nutshell? A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer: Cruise as "Vincent" as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in LA. I almost didn't recognize Cruise at first. He was perfect as a stone-cold killer, donning a sub-zero amoral nihilism as well as a suit with threads the color of the coyotes that roamed the LA streets that night. He throws out half rendered references to the I Ching and Darwin that reminded me a bit of Jules in Pulp Fiction. Jamie Fox, also in a role that surprised me with his depth, plays the cab driver forced to drive Vincent to his five hits, the body of the first mark ending up hitting the roof of his cab, giving his fare's profession away.

The interplay between two interesting characters is awesome, enough to make you overlook the plot holes that got a little larger as the film goes on, until finally the screenwriters just threw up their hands and started the action. By then I was not going to hit pause for anything. Cruise handled his guns like he had one in his hand his whole life, and the scene in which the two thugs steals his briefcase is one you won't forget. The speed reloads and Mozambique Drills are icing on the cake.

The main point I took from the film was not the action, and not the plot. It was a film that followed how people connect and react until the most adverse of circumstances. There's something in even the meek that comes out when someone threatens what they value.


I bet in the future, the cab driver in the film will carry a back up piece. I certainly do.

- Brigid

Monday, September 7, 2009

Taming the Wild Intergalactic Cowboy

Taming the Wild Intergalactic Cowboy. Or not. . .The TV is on very little in my house, other than tapes of Firefly and other good SciFi and Westerns. I'd as soon take a bullet as watch reality TV, though I like Discovery and History Channel, shows such as Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey Mythbusters and I think Red Green is 100 times better than about anything. Why? Because the alternatives on TV are a bunch of shows of guys with spiked multi-colored hair improving someone's wardrobe, content off in the Kingdom of Starbucks low fat biscotti or the wimpy hen-pecked man of the average sitcom. If you watched TV you would think that all men have been domesticated to within an inch of their lives.

There's a lot of talk out there about gender stereotypes with regards to women and weapons. But I'm sure men hate seeing themselves depicted on TV shows as incompetent, whiny dolts ordered around by their wives as much as women hate being treated like idiots whenever we get around tools (and the guns around here are just some of my tools).

I admire anyone with artistic talents, be it interior design or gourmet cooking, male or female. But I want a man that isn't afraid to be a man, an old fashioned, non trendy current fashion, kind of guy. Some will call me out-dated, but in this dangerous world we live in, it's nice to know there are some men out there that aren't spending their free time time getting their colors done or having highlights put in their hair. Not to pay my way, or fight my battles for me, but to simply be there, loving me unconditionally while I reload.

My Dad was such a man. Did it mean he didn't cry when the dog had to be put down, or he and my Mom buried their firstborn? No. He wept and he dreamed and he treated my Mom as an equal intellectually and valued her contribution to the home l (he better have, she had her own 9mm). But I never saw him color his hair or use an "AbMaster". If he chopped a tree down in the yard and it fell on the shed, that's because that's where he wanted it to go. He was a Home on the Range Man, and though they may be hiding in full sight in thicket and woods, or the local range, they are far from extinct.

Photo by Oleg Volk of my squirrel back up M.
So here is my little salute to the Home on the Range Man. He may be your coworker, a friend, your husband, your father, a brother, a lover. He may bear many of the same traits, goals and dreams as we strong females, but he is, and always will be, his own man.

Who is the Home on the Range Man.



1. He stands for a pregnant or elderly woman on a bus, subway or train. He does this not because he's expected to, but because it was the way he was raised. Like honoring our veterans, it's not sexist, it's a tradition of respect and caring.

2. He doesn't let some guy with pink hair redecorate his hair or his house on National TV. A Range Man's idea of "Grand Design" is a four foot stack of boxes of .45 and .223 he got last month, piled up between the tools and the lumber.

3. He eats red meat. Sometimes he kills it and field dresses it himself.

4. He just deals with it. Be it his bank account, his vehicle, or a bear in the backyard. He just takes care of it without talking over it for hours with his friends, or consulting a horoscope, or worrying about feng shui

5. He owns several outfits that will hide him from the enemy, or prey.


6. He knows the answer to any question involving steak, beer or blackpowder is Yes.

7. He doesn't know the difference between Puce and Plum and doesn't lose sleep over it.

8. He does NOT own more hair care appliances than the Home on the Range woman. If he owns a shower cap, the bus leaves at 10.

9. He knows how to properly kill stuff, be it spiders, ants, wild animals or bad guys.

10. He respects our Constitution and knows how to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He does so with his hand over his heart, or with the proud mil-spec hand salute of a Veteran, not standing like a piece of cord wood wondering who's looking at him.

11. He has at least one really good scar he can show you.

12. He man knows the difference between a:
....a reloading press and a drill press
....a chain saw and sawsall
....a fillet knife and a Caping knife.
....a vice and a vise, and when to use each.

13. He is a survivor, be it a National Disaster, Combat or Grade School, he doesn't go running to his Mommy at the first sign of trouble. (See #4)

14. He doesn't live on sprouts and carrot juice so he can live to be 90. He's strong and he can see his toes, but if he's eating a steak at 95 I personally will salute him.

15. He will seek professional help in case of forest fire, freak woodchipper accidents or lemming infestation. Otherwise he will go to Lowe's like the rest of us and tackle it himself.

16. He knows a "gut hook" is not some fancy move by a boxer.

17. He owns a gun. More than one. Like the Home on the Range Woman. It's one of the many, many tools that he owns and knows how to use.

18.He knows that love is not a pie, that sex can be much more than a casual sport, that faith, in your God, in your friends, in your family, is a little like a full-time job.

19. He regularly sharpens his tools, and his mind, taking the collective value of what he learns and passing that on to his son, or his daughters.

20. A Home on the Range Man is a keeper. Be he father, or brother, spouse or lover or simply a shooty friend you are lucky to have him in your life.