Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blog Meet - Shooty Weekend

The morning dawned clear and a bit cold but perfect for some fun before breakfast. The LEO range at Iggy Creek was open early, and open to the public after 9 a.m.  I was there very early, and got a chance to visit with Partner in Grime  (who brought something in .45) and set up before anyone else arrived..

Friends, shooty fun AND a blog meet, all in one weekend.  What's not to like?

There was an assortment of fun things to play with.

I do OK, able to properly perforate a piece of paper or defend against  a one eyed, one legged armed pirate (assuming Polly doesn't have a laser sight) or a zombie.

Tam ?  Now Tam is just lethal. 

The hand and arm were getting a bit tired  after a box or two of .45 but I tried a few magazines in the new Karh .40.  This is the target. The first five shots (it's a five round magazine) were all in a line through bullseye.  The rest, not so good. as my hand was hurting at this point.  This is not a "let's go plinking!" gun but those first shots from rapid, low ready would definately stop an assailant.  The rest would at least get his attention.

A great morning, but soon there's a blogmeet, so it was time for a couple of Mr. Squishies and a drive past  my pad to fetch something.

For I'm transporting a little surprise for Roberta X.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Barkley - Wine Sommelier

I am not allowed to lay on the couch.  Notice, I am NOT laying on the couch.

Mom is busy entertaining prior to a shoot em up at the gun range tomorrow.

So I will be your host this evening.

Dinner is in full assembly mode, something with roasted turkey bits with mushrooms and wine sauce served on caramelized onion/sage stuffing with vegetables roasted in walnut oil and a drizzle of cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar.  And there's some cheesecake thing (provided no one explodes).

Mom is having fun, though I think we need to cut her off the wine as when some bikers drove down the road past the front window she starting singing "Oh Harley Boy, Your Pipes, Your Pipes are Calling." I think it's an Irish thing.

Dinner smells really good.

Hey! I got a bowl of nasty dry crap.

They probably won't let me have an Irish Moon Shot before bed either.

But Mom will be reporting back later with a recap of the shooting, some photos of gear and later in the week, a recipe or two.

 - Barkley

Friday, September 28, 2012

Be Still My Beating Heart - Revolvers, Adrenalin and Cheesecake

1999 Colt Magnum Carry.

A 357 powerhouse

Adrenalin Junkie Cheesecake

A chocolate covered espresso bean/cookie crust, filled with  cheescake made of two kinds of dark chocolate with a dollop of espresso and a bare hint of  Madagascar vanilla.  Topped  with a deep chocolate ganache and served with whipped cream and espresso sugar.


If you can find it, the Sharferbergs chocolate for the filling and ganache is worth it.  It's very complex, Figs and red wine, honey and spice with just a hint of coffee. I'm not sure as to the spice, there's a bite that lingers on the tongue that stems off the natural bitterness of dark cocoa.  Cheaper chocolates will load up a bar with sugar to dull that taste,  Not this one.  It makes for a glorious cheesecake.

Go on make a batch, everyone has room for one last bite.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Concealed Cupcake

It may not be legal in Illinois unless inside your own home. 

Cupcakes  with Vanilla Bourbon Frosting.

Your favorite dark chocolate cupcake recipe
3 sticks plus 2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3 cups plus 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar sifted
3 Tablespoons whole milk
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon quality bourbon (I use Knob Creek)
3/4  teaspoon Mexican or Madagascar Vanilla
1 vanilla bean scraped (you're using just the pulp)
a pinch of kosher salt

With a paddle attachment, whip just the butter on medium for 8-9 minutes.  NO less.  Add remaining ingredients and mix for six minutes until light and fluffy, adding in a pinch of salt in the last minute or two.

Serve on  your favorite cupcake (and this is SO going in my pumpkin rolls this year).

Monday, September 24, 2012

For Kiri

In memory of Kiri and his people friend La, one of the wonderful volunteers up at Wolfpark research and wildlife center of Indiana and to Eclipse, the wolf that I sponsor. (Photos from Wolfpark)

The Wolf Is In My Soul

The wolf is in my soul,
strong life force, intuitive and loyal .
Take me not from my wild nature,
 it is essential to me.

For that wild nature carries what I need,
dreams, words, songs.
All I really need to be,
all I really need  to know.

Seeing through the eyes,
of woman's intuition.
Like a starry night,
I gaze into the night, through a thousand eyes.

In my pack, I find integrity,
in my tribe, I find peace .
I speak and act on my own behalf,
open, but never tamed.

My heart is of the wolf,
bearing battle scars of time .
Writing my secrets on walls,
refusing to be ashamed of my free spirit.

You can find me wild,
in open air and  pristine woods.
In forests of solitude, so quietly,
whispering words from instinctual need.

Does my pack heed my words,
as I stop to see if you catch up?
For I have many things to show you,
an enduring spirit to share.

Join me and run those last hard miles,
howl at that weathered door.
Stand sentry at the window of your dreams,
unleash your wild heart.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

GunShow, Fair Food and FacePalm Skeletons - Weekend Adventures Part II

I've arrived home from gun show/ fall fest weekend with my new purchase in tow.  It's a Kahr in .40, a little firearm to tuck in my coat pocket on those days there is a little chill in the air and mayhem lurking in the shadows. I'll have a range report up in a few days.

Yesterday  afternoon was the Scarecrow Fest in Wanatah, Indiana. I took just my tiny little pocket camera to save on toting things so the pictures aren't great, but you get the general idea.

You can say all you want about funnel cakes, deep fried candy bars, and other fair food, including a giant eclair the size of my torso (even splitting it we couldn't finish it).

But after breakfast and a pastry have worn off and you've walked all over looking at crafts and canned goods and quilts, art and antiques, nothing is as good as a ear of fresh steamed Indiana corn, dipped into a crockpot full of fresh dairy butter and sprinkled with garlic salt as you head back to the car.

After the fest we headed into shop at some of the quaint little stores in nearby towns.  At one little store that has gifts, nice kitchen ware and novelties for adults and kids alike, I  found an abbelskiver pan, and at the same store, a little skeleton Halloween decoration,  his head in his heads Face Palm Style.  I laughed, and put him in my basket.

I passed on the Electronic Yodeling Pickle though I'm sure there were some shoppers, sick and tired of trying to convince a jar of pickles to yodel using sheer force of will, that may have purchased one.   I don't think it's going to replace the IPod.

Purchases in hand, we headed through the country, to home.

As we neared home, Midwest Chick and I noticed that the creepy house up the road, had finally sold, the one that looked like the movie house where people go to and never return from.  She and I had referred to as the "Fritter House" (referencing an old horror movie). Someone bought it and was totally renovating it and a new subdivision was going in across the street. The garage sale before the sale  was something we'd joked about though -   "Is that blood on that fillet knife" and "I didn't know they made yard gnomes with pointed teeth".  But it was nice to see it being  fixed up for a new family, even if, as we drove past she said, "takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's Fritters" and we busted up while Mr. B. looked at us funny.

It is really a pretty area though, and I'm looking for land north and northeast of here to build in a couple of years.  This is the home I'm having the architect draw up plans for.  A two bedroom, one bath bungalow, with good sized kitchen, a place to write a book and a big shop.The driveway will be a little wider and further out from the house for offloading things, and the garage in back will be a large shop but this is the dream home I plan on.


Once home, it was time to bake.  Two loaves and some hamburger buns.  Midwest Chick thought she'd make some "slider sized buns". They turned out to be a LITTLE bigger than planned.

"OMG, it's bunzilla!

"Uh, Mr. B. you're going to need to make the patties a little bigger, Midwest Chick's Slider buns are plate sized!"

The burgers, grilled outdoors with just a pinch of ancho, pepper and cumin were perfect on the buns, with just a little smokey cheddar and a few condiments.. The beef was 4-H raised beef, of which the freezer is full.  Even without "toppings" on for the photo, they were the size of a Buick (but much more tasty). The bread was delicious, making light, flaky buns, another hit recipe from Midwest Chick's kitchen.

Full of burgers and a glass of wine, we listended to old jazz til we got sleepy, Barkley snuggled up to everyone on the big couch.

Soon it was morning.

Where's Barkley?  Oh uh. Someone got wrapped around the tree chasing Mr. Squirrel.  His zip line, which runs on a high line from the deck to the back, takes him deep in the yard, with a bungee on either end so a quick stop won't hurt him.  He knows the path, which parallels a dirt road the tractor uses, but apparently he got sidetracked and is now stuck, his lead wrapped around a tree.

Mom!!!  It's Stuck!

Barkley rescued, it was time for breakfast.  Mr. B. made us corn pancakes with a dab of molasses and vanilla in the batter with Amish bacon and fried eggs.  I've a cooler of Amish bacon from Beef Mart to take back with me, to share with some friends and a couple colleagues.

It was time to load up! The old farmers around here say that the amount of nuts on the ground is indicative of how hard the winter is going to be.   This is the driveway.  There's actually gravel there somewhere under all the nuts, more so than even the hordes of squirrels could haul off.

Oh, you guys are SOOOOO toast this winter.

After I waved goodbye and headed out, I gave Og a call on the bluetooth.  He'd been squirrel hunting and wasn't able to join us with his family.

Private Og bat phone - ring ring

Me (cheesy Russian accent):  "I told you to keel moose and squirrel.. . . . "

I'd already heard that they'd seen no squirrels, just animals OUT of season, such as  a "whitetail that had a rack big enough to put a grand piano in".  He even tried our favorite trick, pretending to be whitetail hunting so the squirrels come in by bus to loudly  harass everyone.  It didn't work.

But it was good to catch up with him and I hope he gets a smile out of these posts, as do some of you who know us.

When I got home and put Mr. Skeleton on the bookshelf, I realized how lucky I was, not to just live in a land where we have the ability to spend such weekends with those we love.  But our ability to live where our hard work keeps the freezer full without outside help, where neighbors help neighbors but pull their own weight and where we can gather at night, snug in our homes, sharing the fellowship of freedom and fun.

Thanks for sharing.
Brigid and Barkley

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gun Shows, Beef Mart and How I Ended Up Being a Booth Bunny - Weekend Adventures Part I

I'm up at Midwest Chick  and Mr. B.'s for some weekend gun show and Scarecrow Fest up near Amish Country

It's a warm and cozy home out in the country. I have a big comfy, antique bed to sleep in.  There is a fridge in the garage full of Yeungling. Barkley will be sleeping with 4 cats. Pandemonium may ensue.

I  had to work a long day yesterday but when I rolled in there was this incredible smell in the house, homemade beef in peppered gravy with vegetables that had been simmering in a stoneware dutch oven with 2115 secret herbs and spices. Mr. B. is a great cook and I knew it would be good after a long day, especially with the cheddar garlic biscuits Midwest Chick made.

Some dinner, some conversation, a little lab therapy with Barkley who like us, missed Schmoo the lab greatly.  With a small sip of whiskey and a long hot bubble bath, I was off to sleep.

We started out early with a big breakfast at Viking Chili Bowl (best breakfast and fastest service in Valpo).

Then it was off to the Dunes Rifle and Pistol Club Gun and Knife Show at the Porter County Fairgrounds. The gun show was busy, but not as packed at entry last year when we got there right when it opened.  Last year it was unexpectedly cold and Midwest Chick and I didn't have warm coats.  Mr. B. offered warmth and we snuggled up, one under each arm as we waited in line a half hour.  There was this older gent behind us who said "I can't get my wife to go to one of these things and he gets TWO women".

I came home with a new firearm, of course, this one here with Barkley a little Kahr in .40, perfect for the pocket when I didn't want to have a .45 strapped on while just puttering around the yard and made in the USA.  There were all kinds of things to look at. There was antique and modern firearms, military relics swords, knives, ammo.  Mr. B. found a Remington model 788 in .308 and needed to remove the scope, which he didn't purchase.  He went to another booth and borrowed some Allen wrenches.  Another fellow said "they just gave those to you to use and didn't know you?  Wow, everyone is so nice here!"  Mr. B. said, "we're all armed".

Everyone we met was informative and friendly and several sales were made, but not to the guy who was quite polite but tried tried to sell me a gun with "I sell lots of these (pointing to a tiny little .380) to women."

At another booth, I got a handcrafted knife with a handle made out of a railroad tie for Partner in Grime.   He's across the planet somewhere dealing with something cantankerous, so  I wanted him to have a little souvenir from the show.  Midwest Chick, as well,  got a couple of really cool knives.

Where I somehow I ended up as a booth bunny.

Jim Shulls knife booth. His knives were modern and primitive at once, with detailed and caring workmanship. Midwest Chick bought one.  We'd been walking for a while and my knee was starting to really  hurt. As Midwest Chick was finishing the transation, they both saw I was hurting and he offered me a chair next to him.  When I sat down,  Midwest Chick laughed and said "adjust your jacket', indicating I needed to show a little more cleavage.  We laughed, and I said "I'm a booth bunny?" and we all laughed but within a few minutes his booth had new customers  "Where'd she come from?'  two gentlemen said, as they stopped to look at his knives.  Jim laughed, winked at Midwest Chick who was looking at some things across the aisle and said "I think someone traded her for a knife, how am I going to explain this to my wife?

I said. "I said the magic words, you have a chair and I have beer!"  (OK, I didn't have beer but they chuckled).  Jim made some more sales and Midwest Chick and I wandered off with a wave, my knee ready for round two of the days adventures.  Thanks Jim, I'd never been a 'booth bunny"  before and it was really fun, even for 15 minutes!  His knives are really cool folks,  so check out his website.

After the show we went over to the Scarecrow fest, crafts, games, and food, lots of food and then it was time to drive home to check on Barkley and unload the stuff we all bought.

There will be more fun tomorrow!  Right now there are homemade hamburger buns to make, and meat to grill.

Because it's never a trip to Midwest Chick and Mr. B.'s without a visit to . .

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sweet Things

Triumphs are Red
Roses are Pink
Enough Lucas Wiring
You'll Soon Turn to Drink
- Brigid

I saw a card for Sweetest Day, which I don't believe is an actual holiday unless you live in a Hallmark Store.  I'd never heard of it til I moved to the Midwest certainly.

I will be avoiding all trappings of that, but for you ladies that wonder if your partner or best friend is going to get you something for that holiday or the big Christmas one coming you I'd caution against taking a peek over their shoulder at their computer screen when they're shopping online.

It might ruin the surprise.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

It's a good thing  you have a designated driver Barkley
because you sure can't hold your licker.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Parts of a Complete Breakfast

Amish bacon, eggs and buttermilk pancakes made from scratch.  Proper fuel to do a  complete disassembly of the Ruger Mark III.

click to enlarge the photos

I love shooting this gun and it's easy to do a quick clean after a morning at the range, but everyone says this firearm is hard to put back together after a complete tear down.

Wow!  There are a lot of parts in this thing.  

I think I need more bacon. . .

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Posts From the Road - Dwindled Days

The thing I recall most was the lack of clear sunset.

Living in the city you really don't notice the skyline. Or it least, that is as I remember it, time framing those days with a memory more focused than the days themselves. I remember noise, and tall buildings and people rushing about like worker ants, there in those evenings conjured by the time and tide of recollection.

I'd seen land other than my hometown, remembering long drives across the desert on the way to visit my Dad's brother at his ranch. We had no air conditioning and on one such trip, I'd stealthily stowed my turtles along in their little turtle habitat into the trunk when no one was looking, not wanting to leave them for the the lady that fed the dog and watered the plants. Half way across the flats, my Dad went to get something out of the trunk. Turtle soup. I honestly don't remember the incident itself, hearing the story in family tales, and telling my long time readers of it.   I don't remember, but Dad said there was nothing more heartrending for him to watch the heat shimmer off the ground while his little girl cried her eyes out for something, that in its saving, she had destroyed.

But later trips were fun. On Spring break instead of hitting the beaches, I bought a Greyhound Ameripass and rode from coast to coast and back, stopping every couple of days for sleep and showers in a cheap hotel, seeing a slice of Americana that included the Tall Corn Motel, thunderstorms gathering over the Black Hills, waves breaking over the shores of Maine, horizons as broad as my future was.

Another university took me to a large urban area  and the sunsets came and went without notice. I'd be working away and the sun would be there, and the next thing you knew it was just dark, as if God somehow had a clapper and with a movement of mighty hands decided it was bedtime. Perhaps the sunsets were there, and I just did not notice, caught up in life, noise and the narcissistic self preservation of youth.

But when a midlife change in careers brought me from a farm in rolling hills down south to the north, I'd forgotten for how FLAT it was. I could say, as the poets did, that the land "gently rolled" but that would be implying way too movement on the earth's part. Other than the occasional wooded down slope into some low creek and river land, it's flat. Plain and simple.

It was so different than where I grew up, I drove for miles without seeing a Starbucks, and out of habit, I'd check the side of the roadway for elk, an action that even after years of less sky and more concrete, was still second nature for me. But here, the only large animals are in the corn, a multitude of unseen deer hiding like silent nuns from human contact and not likely to stray out in the roadway during the daylight hours. Everywhere I look is the remnants of that corn, sentient rows of former proud stalks, that stood fading in the early winter air, dead to silent hints of abundant summer past. Summers of green and hard work and plenty.

I notice it hunting, I notice it up on the James Farm, on which I'm blessed to walk the fields with my friends. I notice it even more so on the drive back to Colorado to visit Brigid Jr., making the drive in two days, stopping only for barbecue outside of Kansas City and gas. The scenery's changes were so very small as I went west, that many would not notice, wrapped up in wind and music. County after county of silos and sunflowers that fluttered like flags on the breeze until it begins, that slow dance of the sun into the Western sky. It became a ritual, that daily birth and little death of the sun, rising and ceasing like wind or fire. I simply watched, as lengthened shadows crept across the cab, laying themselves like a hand on my thigh, as the sun disappeared in shuddering breath.

As I drove across Kansas, I thought. Why is this land so different from where I grew up? Certainly I can put on the scientist hat and say it was the glaciers that moved down from the north in the Cnozoac era, or the giant dust storms that followed that carried the soil away, then replaced by layers of volcanic ash from the West, creating a vista of fertility. But the difference is more how I live in it, as opposed to it's geological origins.

There is something about being able to see so near and so far. Some people feel exposed out in the open land, I don't. I walk the fields, gun in hand, nothing more than a moving lightning rod for those things that might wish to strike me, but they don't. I feel a lot out here in the open heartland , a black lab  named Barkley by my side, and it is not fear, it's comfort. It follows me as I walk, the sound of my breath, the whisper of God there in the corn, the vista of open miles of ground in which I perceive the absolute truth about the past, the truths about the hurts that come from one own actions, revelations beyond the buildings and billboards of illusion.

When I went home after the funeral, my family again asked why I didn't move back west. I didn't have a husband or young children to hold me in place, they said. I wasn't quite sure what to say. I don't have any promise to this place. Years later, I tell them the same thing. I like it here, my heart is here, the miles of corn, the open prairie grasses to the West feel like home to me, this place, the big lake up north where the loon sings its song to its beloved. I'll not retire to the land that's become "new California". I'll retire here, somewhere out far away from the city, where buggies dot the road, where I can own a mile of land and be self sufficient, driving into the city only to see friends and load up supplies.

It will be nothing fancy, just my own little patch of earth, flat and rich with grass from the fertile soil, with a view looking west.  Just to the north, past the woods and the stream, will be cornfields, geometric and furrowed, planted in the Spring when the first dove calls to her lover. The land will spread out flat and pure as freshly spilled milk, clear out to where the sun is settling down for the night even where I sit now.

They say the Rockies are God's country, but so is this, a small juncture of tree and grass and perhaps a simple lawn chair. A small point in space among a great expanse of glory, where the Trinity is intact because it had never been otherwise, simply tested by the fragility of youth and the passion of yearning. God lost and then found, postulated here in the open miles of our faith and need.

The afternoon breeze blows in from the next state, curtains gently moving inward and out, as if by the breath of summer itself. The grill is warmed up, Barkley guarding against squirrels intent on stealing a Bratwurst. No, I don't think I'll move back West, content to be near here. Especially on days like today, in which I have no demands on my time, other than to just sit and watch the sun go down. At the edge of the trees, are unseen ghosts of those deer who used to walk across this space, silent and secretive. I point my finger at an unseen buck. Bang.

With a look to see how much light is left to grill, and a sip of lemonade, I take in a memory of my last hunt from a blind. It was a day of bracing cold and little activity, the sky spitting snow, the deer hunkered down for warmth as I should have been.

At noon I came on down for a squished  peanut butter sandwich and a break. Then I went back up. The afternoon sky began to clear, sun glinting off the large cornfield that bisected the stands of trees where marks indicated that the deer had their own superhighway.

The deer weren't moving that day, too much wind, too much blowing snow, they'd likely stay down until morning. As I will soon. But I had no great desire to leave the stand just yet, captivated by the sunset that could be seen for miles.

There, in the western sky it began. What struck me were the colors. How do you describe such color? First a gathering blue grey like the whole of a confederate army taking over that space between light and dark, leaving streaks of red upon the ground, blood leaching into the earth. That royal blue-red, that in centuries past would have been forbidden to be worn by the masses, on threat of death. Then the sun lights up the horizon in one last encore before leaving, oranges and yellows, dripping like forgotten fruit into the horizon, their taste and texture, fragrant and lush against the plate of the earth. Then, finally, darkness that hints of languid dreams as it pulls itself up over the form of earth to cover it and keep it warm.

And so I sat, under sunless, moonless cover, my gun in my lap, the night soon to be a blanket over me. So dark. So quiet. I was left to trace in the early night with my eyes closed, all those variated colors that I held for an instant, all the colors that I cataloged in memory, alone in the darkness, the lost hues and shades, sitting up in a tree watching the land as the eyes of day went dim.

Tonight I've just got a lawn chair and a horizon, but the colors are the same. For on yet another night, the sun makes it's scheduled and solitary goodbye. But if I keep my eyes closed, closed real tight, I can still see the sun, bursting across the back of my eyelids, in the frames of memory of other warm evenings. Color splashing across blackness, set loose in a sudden spray, a thought of something, someone, in the back of my mind. A thought that feels as ticklish as electricity before the blackout. Thought of the color and the warmth of those fine days, a sudden flash of light in this dark world. So I keep my eyes closed as long as I can, to hold the picture in. I've got the last light of thought in my soul, stored in a photograph engraved on my eyes, and it will keep me until the sight of another dwindled day brings you back to me.