Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is It Soup Yet??

Sometimes the Irish can save civilization. Sometimes it's all they can do to rustle up dinner.

Technically, I'm a mixture of Scot/Irish, Scandahoovian and Cree, but it's hard to tell with the green eyes, red hair and freckles. In any case, I draw from my Warrior Farmer roots in a lot of my cooking with good, meaty stews, soups and breads often on the winter menu.

It was a good night for it as I was pretty tired. I stayed up way too late last night (for my schedule) catching up with a friend who had been away for a while. Today dawned way too early.

Still, duty calls, reports to write.

Probie comes over, a puzzled luck on his face, looking at a document I'd just finished.

"uh, doc. . . WHAT'S RIGOR MORRIS?"

I look up straightfaced (Typo? Me??") . . "DEAD CAT FOUND AT THE SCENE."

It was just one of those days, So I was glad to get home for something nourishing. Tonight, no guns, no glory, just some really good leftover soup and some fresh baked bread. To make - caramelise a large diced onion in a pan with a splash of olive oil, add 4 ribs of chopped celery and about six sliced carrots and cook for a couple of minutes. Put in a crockpot with 1 and 1/2 lbs smoked ham hocks, a pound of uncooked and rinsed white beans, 2 quarts fresh chicken stock, a pinch of rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper,a large clove of garlic cut crosswise, a dash of hot sauce (I like Heavy Metal Heat by the Scoville Bros.), 1/4 teaspoon wild honey and 12 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus a couple dashes of salt (to taste). Cook on high for 4-5 hours, until beans are done, remove any stems of thyme, squeeze garlic to remove pulp, discarding the skins and stir into soup. Remove hocks and shred meat. Take a 1/2 cup of the bean mixture and pulse in a blender and stir back in with ham hocks.

With that, some quick bread.

Cheddar Peppered Biscuit Bites. Full of the bite of fresh cracked pepper and sharp cheese, they're baked in little triangles for little bite size bits of crunch with a soft, yeasty center.

Serve warm with butter , the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of old fashioned soup, stew, or even chili.

For now, enjoy the comforts of home. Tomorrow, a little firearm post - refinishing old blue.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Packin' Heat - Chili/Chocolate Brownies

Friends were stopping by, on their way to play a music gig in IND and I needed a little something to serve, a sweet treat, quick but not boring. You can't go wrong with something that involves dark chocolate, coffee, chili AND cinnamon.

Take your favorite fudge brownie recipe but this time add a splash of brewed espresso and a pinch of both cinnamon and cayenne pepper to the batter. If you use a box mix, replace all of the water called for with brewed coffee or espresso and add the spices. Now top with. . .

Chili/Chocolate Hot Fudge Sauce

Four ounces Dark semi sweet chocolate with Chilis (I used a 3.5 ounce Lindt bar plus the corner off a second one)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons heavy cream (total is slightly less than a cup).
1/2 teaspoon Mexican Vanilla (I use Penzey's).

Break chocolate into pieces and cook in the microwave in a glass bowl (high setting) for one and a half minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until almost melted. Transfer to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat on the stovetop and stir in sugar, salt and butter. Stir in cream, a little at a time until smooth. Heat through still on low heat, until thickened (do NOT bring to a boil). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Use to top brownies or save in the fridge to top ice cream.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where the Wubba Meets the Road -

Barkley stays at a doggie day camp occassionally when I know I'm going to be away from home 12 hours plus, til myself or a friend picks him up. He loves it, lots of outside and indoor play areas with wading pools when its hot and all kinds of toys. His favorite, this really hard rubber ball with feet on it. It also squeeked.

Barkley will destroy any cloth toy with a squeeker in minutes, but this one was so hard, he couldn't get his teeth though it and could just work it with his jaws, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEEK. (I think I should buy the folks at the dog camp some high caliber ear protection.)

I wanted to get him one, but I'd never seen one in the pet toy section of the stores where I shop. It looked to be made out of the hard Kong material but that's all I knew. Then, surprise! EJ was able to find one and presented it to Barkley a while back,, and he continued to play with it until the incessant squeeking was such it got taken away for a while each day (Look! A Squirrel! Mr. Squeaky? What Mr. Squeaky?)

Until the day the squeakee died.

He got a tooth in the little vent in the back for air to move in and out of. Over a few days, he worked enough of a hole in it that it wouldn't squeek but would just sort of wheeze like an asthmatic blowfish..

He was seriously bummed.
I know, Mr. SqueAky is DOA and your other friends are busy working. But come on, it's the new issue of Classic Trains!

I got tired of the look so off I went.

To the bigbox pet mart. They didn't have one in stock, but they did have a similar device, a kong style big ball that squeeked. Not as big, and not quite as hard, but pretty thick AND wrapped in extra tough fabric (reinforced! it said). The instructions were in English AND French (do not ask me why as it was "American designed and tested" and "made in China"). Jeu amusant et interactif! Fun, interactive play! At last I could use my college French, yes, for instead of taking a language that appears to be more popular than English in most border states I took French, which I speak really badly, which everyone makes fun of (or will until we are invaded by Canada ya hosers!)

The Kong WUBBA!

He was so happy. For three minutes. SQUEEK, SQUEEK, SQUEEK, JOUET COUINEURrrrr!


I removed the remains in a bucket.

Looks like it's going to be another round with annoying Calgon Dog instead.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Annie Get Your . . . .

GUN EMPANADASI'm still on desk duty for at least another month, post "blown out knee" repair. I know that means my team is working extra hard. I can run command central with a phone, but I'm used to being OUT there, directing things, pulling my weight. To let them know I appreciate it, I showed up with a large warm container of these for those who had morning duty (do not ask what time the alarm was set for). They were intended to be reheated for lunch. They were gone before the sun was hardly up,.

Sweet and Spicy Empanadas (double or triple the recipe if needed, heats up well in a crockpot after frying the beef and veggies).

1 to 1.2 pounds ground beef
1 sweet onion chopped finely
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot (I julienned and then chopped)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup sherry (alcohol will cook out, you'll just get flavor)
1 Tablespoon wild honey
1 Tsbp balsamic vinegar (I used a 20 year old one aged in bourbon barrels)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 or 2 drops Scoville Brothers Rockin Red hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon dark cocoa powder
dash of salt and pepper
3-4 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed and unfolded

Preheat oven to 375 F. (about 200C.). In a hot skillet, cook beef until no longer pink. Once done, drain excess fat and set aside. In same pan (which should still have a little fat adhering to it) cook onions and carrots in a splash of olive oil until onions are golden brown and caramelized, being careful not to burn. Add just enough olive oil to keep from sticking. When done, add beef mixture back in. Add in sherry and garlic (I didn't measure the garlic, but 3-4 cloves) and cook until sherry has evaporated.

Add in honey, vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, Worcestershire sauce, dark cocoa powder, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook till the sauce is thickened and there is hardly any liquid, but it's not dried out.

(Yes, you can click to enlarge the photos). Roll out thawed puff pastry, cut into 4 inch circles (I used a drinking glass to cut them out). Place a heaping tablespoon of beef mixture onto pastry. Fold in half and press sides well with a clean and dry fork to crimp and seal.

Pierce top of the pastry once with fork. If you wish, brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of milk). I didn't, only in that I was out of eggs, but they were still great, just not as glossy. Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden brown.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

When the one arises who can make you laugh, solemn Ista, angry Ista,
iron Ista, then your heart will be healed.
You have not prayed for this:
it’s guerdon even the gods cannot give you.
We are limited to such simples as redemption from your sins.

-Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Impressing Dinner Guests - with, yes, Venison!

Today is my "Friday" and in the Range neighborhood, folks don't want tofu, spray cheese (which, like any hazardous material in a can, should have written warnings on its use) or iceburg lettuce salad. They want FOOD (salad being what food eats!). I've probably lost my last vegetarian reader with this post, but venison, when prepared correctly is very tasty and can be quite tender.

My last deer harvested on a hunt with Og and company, was a doe. It was a long shot, the range of that Marlin with .357 pistol loads (you can't hunt with rifles in my state). She wasn't a youngster, but she wasn't all that big, though I didn't know that until the good clean shot was taken. That prompted my Dad, when seeing a photo of me and my deer to say in front of the whole family - "did you shoot a dog?" After enduring numerous cracks about the Whitetail Spaniel, people shut up after eating the prepared summer sausage and tenderloins that came from that bounty, a good 60 pounds of excellent meat to tide my house over for the winter months.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have on hand in your freezer, (or as a gift from a fellow hunter), a nice piece of venison (or yes, a chunk of good beef) this is a meal worthy of family or friends. The recipe comes from two members of the HOTR honorary Canadian division, father and son, Dad being long time friend and fellow sportsman Marty.

If you are ever in Langford BC, stop in at the excellent Fountain Diner and tip your hat to Marty's son, head chef Jesse Fischer who kindly shared his recipe (they're located at 2800 Bryn Maur Rd, in Langford, B.C.)

Venison Roast with Red Currant Jelly Sauce

Take one bone-in venison hip, this was a doe, very tender and succulent, 10-12 lbs. Line bottom of roasting pan with a basic mirepoix (a chopped mixture of onions, 50%, and celery and carrots at 25%, ). A note from B. - the finer you chop them the more aromatic they will be.

Chop 5 cloves garlic, and mix with 2 roughly chopped sprigs of rosemary and 1/4 c. of olive oil.

Place venison in roasting pan and coat with oil/herb mixture. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook at 400 F. for 45 min and then turn down to 300 for 2 hrs. until medium rare. Do not overcook! Remove venison from roasting pan and let rest 30 min.

Place the mirepoix and drippings into a sauce pan. Add 1 and 1/2 c red wine (HOTR recommends Malbec), place on stove and reduce by half. Strain to save the liquid. Julienne 10 small shallots and sauté in sauce pan until translucent. Add the saved liquid, 1/3 cup of red currant jelly and simmer 10 min.

Evening low light's not the best for a small camera, but it makes for a beautiful table.

Roast Potatoes

3 small skin on potatoes per person, washed and tossed with olive oil and 10 whole cloves garlic for the batch. Roast 30-45 min. at 400 F. until tender.

Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

Two whole medium tomatoes (your favorite, through yellow or orange heirloom ones make for a pretty dressing) washed, skin on. Cut in quarters, drizzle with olive oil (I added a sprinkle of summer savory to Jesse's fine recipe) and roast in 300 F. oven for 1 and a half to 2 hours (put in at same time as you turn down venison).

Cool and remove skin if desired, but not necessary. Combine with 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar and 1 cup olive oil. Process with boat motor. ;)

Serve over mixed green salad (no, not iceburg but good dark greens including wild greens if you can get them, iceburg lettuce has all the nutritional value of the USA Today newspaper).

See, a game dinner you'd be proud of. I had a haunch you'd like it :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Last Minute Valentine Dessert Idea

Let's see - you can serve your sweetie some ready made -


Homemade Chocolate Raspberry/Brandy Truffles rolled in dark cocoa powder with a touch of raspberry chipotle sea salt. A melt in your mouth taste of sweet and salty goodness and easier to make that you think (recipe in comments).

And for a certain friend that's not going to get one of these in Business Class - there will be some when you get back. . . OK, not the one in the front, it's a goner.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stuck on You

click to enlarge photo
A few of us were having a conversation a while back about women and gifts. I said, "I'm not a big fan of flowers. You get them, and they just die, and you have to throw them out and that's just sad" (not to mention other fun things the money could be spent on). I know, that's not the typical female thinking, but then again I own 4 pairs of shoes and would rather play in the shop than actually shop. I'm can pull off an evening dress with the best of them but I'm just not all emotional girly/blinky eyed about some things that others think are romantic.

"But what about roses? " someone asked. I thought about it for a minute. "They are pretty, but I don't like the scent of roses, not at all."

But tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and to my surprise, someone showed up with a surprise for me before they had to catch a flight somewhere.

What is this?

It looks like roses.

It IS roses, but not just regular roses, roses out of the ordinary. Each one was individually crafted on an antique table in a place I'm familiar with, with care, from my favorite household product . . . Duct Tape!

Each one, perfect, durable, in varying stages of opening, just like live flowers. They also came in many colors but not pink which I hate. And they don't smell like roses. When they were presented with a smile, I was instructed to breathe deep. Wiith a little assist from some cooking extract, they smelled like anise, black licorice, my favorite candy, of which a box of the good kind, is often in my truck.

Like true friendship, some things are meant to last.

Yeah, I got all girly/blinky eyed, but don't tell anyone.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

There' Snow Place Like Home - Memories from the Weekend

The snow arrived as scheduled Friday, and I was glad I arrived up north in the afternoon, before the worst of it. I had the truck loaded, clothes for a couple of days, plus water and food, lights, flares, a heavy blanket and a shovel, in case I got stuck, plus additional food, water and a bowl in the cab for Barkley. We ended up getting about 9 inches total overnight, and I was the only one who made it in Friday night, other friends who worked later, coming in from the snow belt, arriving Saturday after the roads were plowed.

Before the snow got too thick, a run was made to town. At the local Meat Mart, Mr. B. said the power went out. No one panicked. No one yelled for their Mommy, or their Senator. A dozen or so flashlights were whipped out, from the same pockets that probably held knives and a .40 or two. The clerks just gave folks a big chunk of whatever meat they'd requested, not being able to weigh it, thanking everyone for their business. A lot of people had cash to pay, as the automatic credit card reader was not going to work. They also got a big box of freshly made wings added to our small order. Life as usual in Hoosierville.

Once the shoppers were home, it was a quiet night of a light supper, some fresh from the oven homemade spice cake that Midwest Chick whipped up and served with choice of toppings (I had mine plain, it was that good) and a finger or two of really good whiskey before I crawled into a big comfy country bed covered with homemade quilts, while the fire blazed downstairs and dogs and cats slept together.

The morning dawned with skies clearing as it started to get light, but about 8-9 inches of snow. Mr. B. fired up the tractor and dug out their long driveway, parking and mailbox area, as well as a couple of the neighbors, one an elderly gent. He does it, not because those folks expect it, but because he can. I'm sure they appreciated it. We certainly did, my truck getting dug out and repositioned so when I left, I could pull straight out without having to back out onto a country road with a long truck.

I still can't do deep snow with the recuperating knee so after he arrived, EJ, our favorite engineer, took Barkley out for a romp in the back acreage being careful to avoid Lake Inferior on the South side of the property which was likely frozen over. Schmoo the black lab also got to prance around in the snow, both dogs out in their element, snooting the snow and gallumping around while near the house, while many happy birds were enjoying the suet and seed that Midwest Chick puts out when the snow gets deep or there is ice. (When the weather is good the birds fend for themselves, if you just give someone food every day, they never learn, or want to learn, how to gather their own.)

I'm back Mom!!

After that, books were perused. . . .

and bread was baked.

Soon, the sun was dipping in the sky again and it was time for an adult beverage.

Nitro Milk Stout. Phone calls were made to Og and company, safe at home but dealing with some household plumbing issues. Next time, my friends.

Dinner was Mr. B.'s masterful pepper steak. The meat is marinated for two days in a spicy but slightly sweet marinade and then dredged in seasoned flour and quickly flash fried in peanut oil at a super high temp so it's so tender you can cut it with a spoon, then tossed with aromatic steamed fresh vegetables and served over rice. He made it once before and I asked if we could have it again, it's that good.

After dinner, some "shop" talk and some "shot" talk. Han Shot First. You get the camera, I'll get the book. Despite George Lucas' explicit cinematographic assertion that "Greedo shot first." He did not. There, in that book called Star Wars, written by some George Lucas guy, (click to enlarge photo), it was confirmed, reading it aloud, that Han took the only shot, killing Greedo. Ha!

Soon,dishes washed, and leftovers put away for guests to take home, it was time for bed. The fire was checked, everyone was full and sleepy, and animals bedded down for the night.

It's Goldie the Lolcat - IM IN UR QUANTUM BOX

Nothing to getting going in the morning like the smell of Indiana Amish bacon as you get out of bed.

And of course, nothing like a country breakfast in the morning, prepared with friends and served family style, so everyone could enjoy as much or as little as they wished of the meal they prepared together. Toast, made with the homemade bread, served with fresh butter, real farm eggs, Amish bacon and hash browns made out of actual potatoes and cooked in a little butter and bacon fat with salt and pepper, not some potato like product shaped like a midget's shoe insert and deep fat fried.

After breakfast, with Mr. B. working, we read and played with our computers, Midwest Chick not being able to upload some Apple App, despite holding her mouth just right and our lighting a candle for Steve Jobs. We gave up on the Internet connection and watched some old TV shows, wondering again how McCloud can jump three stories without losing his hat and how you can run that fast in the mini skirt and high heels you were wearing in the previous scene (maybe physics was different in the 70's, but then again Ziva can be blown up by a bomb, flung 75 feet to land on Tony and not even mess up her hair).

Soon it was time to leave, the sun blazing bright, the snow already receding as I headed south. I had a great time everyone, we'll do it again real soon.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Aiming to Please - The Ruger Mark III

I have friends of both sexes, but there are some things you can only share with a gal friend or two.

So there I was, one day, and all I could do was make that call to Roseholme Cottage that went something along the lines of this. . . (warning - dramatic reenactment).


"Hi. . sniff, sniff" long pause "sniff

"Are you OK?"

"Oh, I just had to call. ." sniff sniff, sigh

"What Happened?"


"You took your Mark III apart didn't you?".

Well, it wasn't exactly like that, but Tam and Roberta X told me to bring it all over and they'd get me all squared away with it. A short drive later and some helpful hints from them, I was reasonably sure I could take care of my new toy properly. Once they explained the process, it wasn't hard.

Sure I love my 45's. There's absolutely nothing like it and the .45 is ALL I will have close to my side for home defense and my concealed is larger caliber as well. But the thought of having a little .22 to shoot with, so I could shoot more, was intriguing. An inexpensive but well-built little .22 would be even better. So after trying out someone's Ruger Mark I and later, Mark II, I bought a Ruger Mark III in a nice blued finish at the local non big chain gun store when it was there for a VERY good price.

If all you are familiar with are the Mark I and II, there have been some changes. The Mark III has been seriously "lawyered up" to keep some states happy, with a lot of additional safety features, some nice, some, not particularly necessary. But they're there. There's a magazine disconnect safety that prevents the pistol from being fired with the magazine removed from the weapon (as in lower picture). But be careful, removing the magazine doesn't mean there isn't a cartridge in the chamber and if you're going to handle it you need to remember to make sure the weapon is unloaded. But the magazine disconnect should prevent someone from discharging the weapon by accident after removing the magazine, I would think.

Another safety feature, required in some places, is the internal key lock. A key is inserted after the thumb safety is applied, into a little (and I mean LITTLE) hole just below the thumb safety and then rotated. If you have Shrek sized hands you are going to learn to hate this little key. But it serves to keep the thumb safety from being slid into the "fire" position until the internal lock is de-activated with the key. I'm ignoring mine, but unfortunately, there are some jurisdictions in the US that require such an internal lock. On the plus side, it's quite unobtrusive for those that don't have to, or like me, don't want to, use the device. Sort of like that exercise bike in the barn.

The third safety feature is a loaded chamber indicator. If you blow up my last photo you can see that the side of the gun is flush. That indicates that there is not a round in the chamber. If there was, there is a thin bar, the rear of which protrudes slightly from the left side of the receiver when a bullet is in the chamber. It can be easily seen and felt by the shooters. Very nice indeed.

Some people are going to hate the looks of that, but I didn't mind. The bar is activated by a spring-loaded piece of steel that touches the rim of the chambered bullet. There was originally some concern, and perhaps a proven problem, with the earlier Mark III models in that one could drop the weapon on the loaded chamber indicator (the buttered side down bread theory) and the gun could go off. Ruger did redesign this. The new design is said to have fixed the problem by modifying the one piece loaded chamber indicator. I don't need to remind you that this feature is NOT a replacement for gun safety practices, it's just an "extra".

Another nice feature is the magazine release button has moved from the heel of the grip frame to a position on the left side of the weapon, just aft of the trigger guard. A left handed shooter can easily press it with the forefinger, or the thumb of a right handed shooter. The rear of the bolt which is grasped to chamber the first round has been skinnied up a bit, providing a secure handle while remaining "finger friendly". The grip is good though one I would call the "Hollywood Starlet model" (thin and plastic). I've heard some say the low profile grip is a bit too thin for them, but I did find it comfortable in my large hand, though I would prefer a lower grip base of metal.

The loading button on the left side of the magazine follower is also larger than that of the Mark II pistols, and aids in easily loading the magazine to its ten round capacity.

As I said before, the one I most recently bought is a MKIII512, with a 5-1/2 barrel, drilled and tapped for Weaver-style scope adapter (included). ALL of the Ruger 22/45's, however have the same grip shape, feel, and familiarity of my favorite 1911 .45 caliber pistol. This makes for a low cost trainer for some quiet practice with that familiar 1911 grip. Reliable as well, in my first brick of ammo through it, I only had just one that failed to feed, copper plated, probably my sixth shot. But after the second brick I think I could have fired gumdrops through it and it wouldn't have had a problem.

The trigger out of the box was good, similar to the 1911 model – short trigger reset and follow through is minimal. I don’t have a trigger pull mechanism to weigh it, but I'd guess it replicates most factory 1911 models at being about 4-4.5 pounds. I honestly don't think I'll need a trigger job on it. An internal cylindrical bolt construction that ensures permanent alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving-slide designs.

Here's a target from my first shoot with it, about 30 feet, outdoors, which I held up to the light so you could see. The first three shots went, in order, high, then quite low, then a bit left, then right on after I adjusted my sight for windage and elevation (OK. . OK. . there was no wind and elevation issues, but if I have a new toy and I can tinker with it I'm going to). After shooting much of a small box of ammo, there wasn't much left of the center, a tribute to its accuracy, not so much my skill :-)The downside to this gun? It IS a harder to take apart and put back together to clean than my other pistols A degree in mechanical engineering may help. Or standing on your head. I was open to suggestions. The mag safety is problematic when stripping the gun, because you have to insert a mag, press trigger, remove mag, pull bolt, etc. And if you forget to remove the mag? Don't ask.

I've also been told that if you put it back together really wrong, it's going back to Ruger. Not encouraging words. Yes, I have a friend could take hers apart in about 30 seconds, but she can also build a radio out of a paper clip and a piece of gum. But I'm not going to give up. Everyone told me I couldn't put a transmission back into my MG and it was done, so we will see. Most times I do a good cleaning with a good quality brush/rod and some Hoppe’s #9 Bore cleaner and keeping the complete tear down for "every few shoots" not every time I go to the range. It still shots without hesitation, even if not fully disassembled to clean deep each time.

Note: be certain the any chemical you’re using to clean this firearm is “plastic safe.” It might be a rare occurrence, but certain solvents may deteriorate the lower frame.

If you can find a nice Mark II used, snag it. If you can't try this one. I got this gun at such a good price I couldn't pass it up. Depending on where you live, or your needs, you may want some of these safety features, but It's a nice choice. Not for self defense, I don't recommend .22 for that. But for something inexpensive to practice with, to hone your skills an mind set or simply a gun that would mak
e learning the fundamentals less intimidating for yourself or someone you love, compared to recoil of a 9mm or a .45 caliber.

But seriously, when you go to take it apart the first time, find yourself a nice starship technician.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Night Off! - with update!

Between physical therapy, long hours and the knee, it's been a long week. I'm still having a little trouble maneuvering solo around the shower while standing and ended up getting out of the shower one morning with baby oil in my hair (don't ask), the knee extra sore and one of those shower scrubbies with a suction cup wall attachment stuck to my backside like a giant leech. Add to that, being stuck at a desk for three months instead of field work, and "I haven't had a long walk in days" ADDD (Attention Deficit Disorder Dog) and I'm ready for something fun.

I need a couple of days with friends. No posts this weekend other than the Ruger review I saved to come up. . A recipe may follow :-) Or at least a picture of an empty olive jar.

Off we go, Barkley in his special harness that hooks into the seatbelt, so he can't become The Amazing Projectile Dog in the event of a sudden stop, off to spend some time as well with some of the gang up north and Schmoo the female black lab. (No Barkley you're not wearing Brut. You got a bath at the groomers, that will do).

I'm glad I used some annual leave and left early, it was already starting to snow when I rolled in, the tractor ready out front if needed (don't worry Mr. B., the photo doesn't show the serial number :-).

The house is in order, Barkley doing his imitation of a demented air compressor when we rolled into the driveway and he recognized where we were at. It's Aunt MC's and Uncle B's! Where's EJ and Og and Mrs. Og? Old NFO called, wishing he could join us as he's off somewhere in the far reaches of the world again. But for now, we were here and safe and Barkley was one happy puppy.

Schmoo and Barkley are soon curled up snoozing. The cats, Socks and Tank, look as excited as ever to see me. Bob and Goldie the cats are missing. Goldie is mellowed out in the cat rack. Where's Bob, Huck the cat's doppelganger?

From behind the property the snow continues, the light fades. Soon creatures of fang and claw will be looking for prey, sneaking up on the unsuspecting. We're all safe inside. . .what's that noise behind me, up high?

Aghhhhhh! BOBCAT!

Ok, now that my blood pressure has returned to normal (for weighing about as much as a Shelby Mustang, that cat is tactical, I swear) it's time for some Yuengling, a call to another close friend who I hope will join us tomorrow and some bread to be baked with Midwest Chick after supper.

For now, waiting for everyone to get back from errands and work and 8 inches of snow forecast, it's looking like a nice night to stay in.

Cheers! - B.