Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ruger MKII Hunter and Gun Bloggers Rendezvous

Need a good reason to attend Gunbloggers Rendezvous?  Great shooting matches, camaraderie, food and fun are one thing.  Supporting a great cause such as Soldier's Angels is another. But how about a chance to win the beautiful firearm pictured above. Go over to Kevin Baker's blog Smallest  Minority (link is further down) to see some of the details.

One of this years items donated for the raffle is a beautiful Mark II Hunter donated by Ken Jorgensen and the wonderful folks at Ruger.  It's sitting in the Range safe right now, to be transported out to the event. There are also all sorts of other firearm accessories and items that are part of the raffle, such as this revolver holster that Partner hand hand-made and donated for the raffle last year. 
Kevin's most current post is  here.  Partner in Grime is even in there a couple or three minutes in shooting his 1911.  EVERYONE looks like they're having a ball. I've not been able to attend as all of my vacation time each year is reserved for my elderly Dad, but Partner and his Dad have attended and have had a wonderful time.  You don't have to be an expert, only a safety minded member of this responsible gun community. Go back through Kevin's archives over the last few weeks.  He has several bits of information about the event and pictures of some of the past raffle prizes. 

Go check out the posts and consider making the trip.  You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Abby Acquisitions

I had a chance to fly home for one night this last week, to get some sleep and fresh clothes, the upcoming schedule sort of in limbo.  Before my flight, I had a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and an orange at the hotel,  but figured I'd best get a snack to take on the plane, as low blood sugar and long flights don't mix.  So I picked up some beef jerky.  Most airport beef jerky is pretty lousy (being made up of diced and smoked unclaimed luggage), but this stuff was quite good and after a  little nibble mid-flight, I tucked it into my soft-sided briefcase.

I have to say though, it was good to come home to a house with lights on, and someone waiting for me. Before I got Barkley I remember too well, the years of coming home to an empty house, something I'd just grown used to.  It was as if loneliness were a callous and complete condition of living which seems forever fixed, only to melt before a pair of brown eyes and a wagging tail, that capricious and faithful spirit that forever waits.

I had gotten spoiled before this last assignment though.  I've only had to take one overnight  trip since we got Abby, Partner watching her at home while I was gone.  But I DID bring her a new toy when I returned that time.
This time, there was more than one night away and no toy, just one tired dog Mom, even though Abby snooted my bag as if expecting something to come out of it.

No one was up late. Abby collecting her beloved stuffed toys and one by one carrying them to her bed in my office, while she then sleeps on the futon from which she can look down the hallway to where the bedroom is.
Early the next morning, not long after dawn, I wake to an unusual noise. I can sleep through trains all night long, but if there is a sound in the house that isn't normal, I'm awake in a nanosecond. The sound was odd, there in the dim stillness of the house, almost as if Abby was eating something. It wasn't Abby crunching on a piece of kibble left in her bowl.  It almost had a plastic sound. Then it stopped.  Partner got up to investigate.  I heard a laugh and was told to come look.
She'd snagged the puffy bag of beef jerky out of my briefcase.  She didn't try and gnaw it open, thinking perhaps it was just a really tasty smelling toy.
I was just keeping your bed warm until you came back.  
Thanks for the new toy Mom.  It didn't squeak at all but it smells like cow!

I thought, as I put water on to boil for tea, that my time at home may sometimes be short, but it is never boring.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Night Guardians

These things I warmly wish for you. Someone to love, some work to do,  a bit o' sun, a bit o' cheer,
and a Guardian Angel always near
-Irish Blessing

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peru's New With You - An Impromptu Blog Meet

Every year or so I end up in the Southwest on business of the conference or speaking engagement variety.  I've had the good fortune on previous trips of getting a rental car to make an additional trek so I could get together with Lawdog and Phlegmfatale, Holly and JPG and Lucrative Pain and other folks in near or neighboring states.  It had been a while since I'd been out this way, a couple of years even, where I had any free time to myself.  This time also had enough time to make a side trip where I got the chance to meet a couple of bloggers, husband and wife, the female half of the family, one that I  chit chat with all the time and am proud to have as a friend, as she's seen me through some "hair on fire" stressful times as well as some joy.

Gee, who could that be?

Tall (well, with the gorgeous , very tall high heels), beautiful, curly Brunette hair.  Any idea?  Oh, the great shoes should give it away if you have seen her blog header.  (Post knee blow out, I'm pretty much stuck in boots or flats that look like something Mickey Mouse would wear)..

And look!  It's Happy Hour.
After a long drive it was an early evening out with Jennifer and her handsome  husband  EvylRobot as well as their son  (and no, everyone was driving so there was no alcohol, but oh, was there some good food).

 Zarates Restaurant up in Edmonds, Oklahoma.( Yes that's right,Oklahoma, where there is the best Latin American food I've personally seen outside of Latin America.

The food was terrific, the restaurant worth the very long drive, the food both Latin, Caribbean and Tex Mex.  The owner is from Peru and although the restaurant started out Tex Mex quite a few years ago, he started adding dishes of his native country, with other Latin and Caribbean dishes added as well.  It  was so popular, they are now part of the regular menu, and a very popular part.   The food from that region was seriously authentic and looked so good, which probably explained that at 6:00 on a Tuesday, there wasn't a single parking spot in the large lot and people were waiting for tables (though not too long, the service being very good).
Jennifer had Lomo Saltado, steak sauteed over an open flame with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cilantro, ali pepper and red wine, served with cilantro sauce, rice, yucca and sweet plantains.

This was Caribbean Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa.
Cerviche Mixto Peruano.  White fish, shrimp and calamari with red onions and red bell peppers, milk, and rocoto pepper, cured in lime juice and served cold with steamed yucca and white Andean corn.   There's a bit of a wait while it's prepared and cured and almost had me drooling (and I'm not a seafood or fish person at all).
I was ever so boring and ordered the taco platter (tacos are one of my favorite things) and they were wonderful with rice and beans so much better than the minute rice with spice and bean flavored gruel you find at too many "Yankee" Mexican restaurants.  With wonderfully seasoned meat and the freshest of veggies, along with the great beans and rice, I slicked the platter clean.
Next time though, I will be a little more adventuresome, as the other specialties looked incredible.

We were there a while, catching up, talking about stuff we don't talk about on the Internet, flashing our knives to see who was carrying WHAT (Look, I can have a white handled blade, it's not Labor Day yet) and trading puns.  Plus I was thoroughly charmed by a scary smart, witty 15 year old that any parent would be proud to have as a kid.

I am so glad I made the long trip before I caught a flight out to other, less exotic destinations.  For I confirmed  what I always knew, that these folks are my tribe, and I'm glad to know them.
 - Brigid

Monday, July 14, 2014

Well. . Morroco Mole Would Fit in It - The Joys of Rental Cars.

 Economy Car - a small pellet shaped object that can carry you to the scene of the accident.

I've had some small "sub compact" cars in my day but this one was about the smallest I've had yet.  I fortunately asked for the bright red one, so at least I'd be visible even if I was no bigger than the red dot on a 7-Up can.  I couldn't help but utter "it's so small" and the young man processing my rental got that look that is often reserved for that phrase and countered with a cheery "it has NINE air bags".  I looked at him and said "honey, you could put the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in this vehicle with me and I still wouldn't feel safe".  But I did thank him for getting the red one.

It looked brand new and was sparkling clean.  Legroom was more than required for a hamster; the cockpit ergonomics weren't bad and the a.c. had the car cooled before I even left the parking garage.  But then I went to accelerate. The only way I can describe the sound is this:  picture the Cast of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" suddenly miniaturized by some magic shrink ray until they were all six inches tall.  Now picture Leatherface firing up his little chainsaw.  That's the sound the engine made.
It's a Toyota. something. Yanni? Yetti?  Something like that and it's my wheels for a few days.  I had arrived at my hotel. I'm amazed, not only that a human being can cover hundreds of miles in a couple of hours but that I did some of that in a car that was about the size of a 9 mm cartridge.

I have rented a LOT Of vehicles over the years. Over the last ten years I had to rent when I went to see Dad as his driving skills weren't good enough where I felt he was safe on the the freeway which is occupied by "Crazy Oregon Drivers" until you cross the Oregon state line wherein it's occupied by "Crazy Washington Drivers".  Plus he's a far distance from the international airport. Up until this last year when the keys were taken away, he did really good around town and always offered to come get me..
But I did not want him trying to merge with giant semi's and teenagers. There wasn't any other option. All of his friends were gone and none of the other family lived close enough to fetch me. The rental is an expense, but a necessary one, no matter how often I go there. But I went for a big vehicle, as there is nothing more unsettling then looking up at the undercarriage of a log truck, some of the logs secured by what looks like dental floss, on a rain slicked highway.

The rental place I go to out West always has some chipper person who asks "what brings you here?"  I know they're just trying to be friendly, most people getting to them worn out after flying long distances. That would render anyone cranky, especially a particular redhead, whose suitcase went MIA, who now envisions buying something to wear at the only store by Dad's, a Big Box Mart with a ladies department full of outfits the size of tank parachutes.
So I wasn't in a particularly good mood, and besides, they just saw me two weeks ago, and weeks before that, one of dozens of trips. They know me by name, they know where my Dad lives and that I don't need a map to the house or the cemetery.  And still they ask what brings me here.

The next time they asked, even though I was just there a couple weeks ago,  I gave them a little smile which can be either friendly or scary depending on if you're the good guy or the bad guy and responded with-

"Contract hitI'll be needing something with a large trunk."

The agent, as usual, didn't miss a beat, saying "that's nice, you want to upgrade to a full size then?"
I've had some interesting car experiences over the years, from the time I got a free upgrade to a full size pickup truck to an assortment of cars the size of gym lockers that accelerated at the speed of rust. There was one "loaner" car that had likely traveled with Lewis and Clark and was given to my copilot and I to drive to our lodging. The next morning, there was a hard frost. There was also no ice scraper. Fortunately that side trim that was flapping in the breeze was easy to remove, and made a dandy scraper (honestly, it just fell off!). And we won't mention certain third world places where you want to check the car's interior for things that sting, spit or bite (Ack! Windshield Viper!)

There's no telling what city will give you what car.  I've rented a car from airports that you that were so new and shiny you could practically eat off the tarmac and got an asthmatic clunker that smelled like an ashtray and I've been into some fairly outdated  terminals where I have expected to get run over by goats as I went to baggage claim and get a bright shiny full size sedan, actually made in America.
This last squirrel trip, I fared a little better, the car at least being brand new and spotlessly clean. But I'd hoped for an upgrade. Sometimes the compact is actually a normal sized car, depending on what the rental car company has on hand by the time I roll in.

But not on my return to this city where I am convinced the car rental agencies there have a special little "Brigid" wing of the garage where they keep the gutless wonders. I am also certain they keep them parked nose down on a ramp so that my special Brigid edition rental car can simply roll down to the check out area and appear to have an engine in it, until it is past those spikes in the pavement that prevent me from bringing it back.
I remember the first time I rented on other than my own dime, and as directed, got the "economy" car. It was clean, bright, all four doors open as if the clowns had to get out in a hurry. I gulped and asked the rental agent "what kind of car IS that?". I swear the agent said it was a "Hyundai Accident". Perhaps that was "Accent". On second thought, I think the first was correct. But Dad's second car (his first being a 1984 Chevy Truck) was a larger Hyundai and he loved it for zipping around town on errands. So with a blue sky, a tailwind and a gathering where all I had to do all week is stand up in front of people and sound intelligent, I was determined to enjoy the drive.

As I accelerated onto the ramp for the freeway, trying to edge in front of this semi that looked JUST like the one in Dual. I remembered all the talk about how the human body can actually FEEL acceleration. I've pulled some G's in a swept wing jet.  I know what it's like. And this car, well this car could do that. Right? As I floored it, watching the semi truck come up rapidly on my car, the entire body of which would fit UNDER his bumper, I realized that I could actually feel a physical force, that of my body aging as the car slooooowly went from 35 to 60.

After watching everyone blow past me with the look, I wanted to get a sign for the back window that said I own a 4 wheel drive TRUCK, THIS is a rental. I got it up to 72 on a long stretch though. But at that point, the transmission started moaning like a disinterested hooker and the whole frame started shaking like one of those paint mixers at Home Depot.
But I made it, only checking once to see if the floorboards rolled up so I could put my feet down, yell Yabba Dabba Doo! and pass someone.  Just like today, another trip, another spot of safety and rest along this life's journey.

On the blog I talk of perspective. Being thankful for all we have. And I am. I arrived here in one piece. I have gainful employment that challenges me and sends me out in the world to perhaps educate others, to meet with like minds. It's getting to meet friends in the cities I travel to, putting faces to the names of folks I've talked to for years, fellow women bloggers and their families.

It's freedom, of the road, of the mind, of the spirit. It's a 100 degrees and I am looking up at the bumper of a Volkswagen Beetle. But there is also Keebler fudge striped cookies melting on the seat next to me and a rough hewn landscape out my window, the blur of trees as old as God, where sometimes above, a bird sings a plaintive and tremulous song that rises above the sound of the traffic. And if the brakes give out, I can simply turn on the air conditioner and coast to a stop.

Life is good. Wherever your road leads you.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

When Whovians Hit the Kitchen

I am sure there are more than a few Dr. Who Fans that visit here. Among them, I'm probably not the only one who has wondered how the Tardis always manages to emerge from the depths of time and space to land on earth without injury to someone on the ground. So here at the Range, I made up a bumper sticker, to bring awareness to the world of the dangers. (And yes, I made extras for my Whovian friends).

Still it would be so cool to have a Tardis to visit various times or even various parts of the globe without lines or TSA (and no, shouting out you're a Time Lord to bypass security is only going to end up with you in a cell).  But think of it, the possibilities for a time traveling foodie- breakfast in Oslo, lunch in Paris and dinner in Sante Fe.
Young Amy: What is it? What's wrong with you?
 The Doctor: Wrong with me? It's not my fault, why can't you give me any decent food! 
You're Scottish, fry something!

This recipe was a little bit of several cuisines, a tasty experiment for dinner last night that involved a little time but no time travel. It was a cross between Hungarian Chicken Paprika and braised chicken with onions and peppers. I reduced the amount of Hungarian seasoning  typically used in chicken paprika and  instead of using green peppers I used diced fresh jalapeno, extra garlic and some red pepper and herbs.

The chicken is pan fried in a small bit of oil until browned, then simmered in a fragrant stock until done.  That seals in all the juices making for an incredibly moist and tender piece of meat that almost falls off the bone. The spices added a nice touch and the sour cream sauce had a nice bit of depth with the addition of the peppers, garlic and onion.
click on photos to enlarge

It turned out really good.  Partner in Grime said "it's a keeper!" and offered to clean up while I wrote down what went into it. When a handsome man in a bow tie offers to wash up the dishes, don't turn him down.

  • Sour Cream Chicken with Peppers and Onion

  • Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Live From The Laboratory

    All sorts of things come out of the Secret Squirrel kitchen, shop or laboratory.  Sometimes it's the smell of something burning that's not supposed to, sometimes it's a completely new Chemical Formula. (which those of you who grew up in the 60's will likely understand).  I hope there's room on the Periodic Table for this one.

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    A Girl's Guide to the Grill

    It's grilling season again.  The trusty charcoal grill is out under the pine trees and there is ground beef from our local Polish grocery store (with butcher!) to form into perfect patties.

    Sure, that crockpot last weekend was great, but it's time to barbecue:
    First, there was a little cleaning up in the garage as the barbecue was brought out of hibernation.
    What Scrapple is Made From (explains the chewiness).

    But then it was time to light off the coals.  I like a charcoal grill, an old one, just like my Dad used.  I even have a little one for the Crash pad that a friend in Texas sent me.  Gas/Propane have no thrill.  You turn a switch, you turn it off. A Charcoal grill compared to one of those is like comparing a radial engine to a jet engine.

    Like a grill, it's easy to teach someone to start a jet engine, anyone with two fingers can do it.  You just need to move a switch from "OFF" to "START" and them remember to move it back to "ON" after a while. Sometimes you don't even do that, as it's spring-loaded back to ON.

    To start a round engine you need two hands that can move like a hummingbird on crack. The right hand for the primer, energize and engage switches, the left hand being busy with the throttle, magneto then back to the throttle to control the starting RPM and then for the mixture and. . . .
    Even being ambidextrous and nimble isn't enough start a round engine, you seduce it into motion, which requires skill, finesse, patience, a gentle touch and a fair bit if style. Failing that there is curse words. If that fails there is meditation and celibacy.

    Why?  For starters (pun intended) there is no computer controlling the fuel/air mixture. If the mixture is too rich you'll end up with parts of the engine that look like wet charcoal briquettes and then it's NEVER going to start. If it's too lean it won't start.  Some of  the pilots would say the mixture is like being married, giving you new ways every day you can be wrong.

    Jet engines start by whining a little, then give a delicate girly little "poof"and start whining a wee bit louder. Round engines give a satisfying rattle-rattle, click-click, BANG, more rattles, another BANG, a big manly BELCH, followed by the explosive resonance of  a mechanical FART, more clicks, a bunch of smoke and finally, the serious perfection of low pitched roar. It's the sound that machines should make.

    So yeah, I use an old fashioned barbecue.

    First - let's get the meat ready. There are some easy steps to get a burger that's bun sized AND juicy.
    You want to start with a meat mixture that is not too lean. Venison is healthy and tasty prepared properly, but for the perfect grilling burger I prefer beef. The most flavorful and juicy burgers are not the low fat versions, but simple 80% lean beef.   If you have a butcher that will grind the meat (or grind your own), ask them to grind it using a a coarser grind than the pre-packaged stuff. It's not as dense and it feels juicier, with that slightly crisp on the outside feel in your mouth.

    Seasoning - Simple salt and pepper is always good, however. . . .

    the Range hamburger  seasoning is pretty  basic but gives the meat a nice smoky flavor that's a bit spicy, but not too much, or too sweet, like some hamburger sauces.

    1 and 1/4 pound ground meat
    1 and 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    1/8 teaspoon  molasses
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder or a small chunk of chopped fresh onion.
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    a small splash of Worcestershire sauce, just enough to moisten and hold the meat together
    Good topped with cheese and lettuce, or perhaps Tequila Lime coleslaw with some baked beans
    You want to handle the meat as little as possible. The more you squish it around getting the spices blended, the denser your patty will be.  Premix the seasonings together, THEN mix with a spoon. If you've defrosted the meat and it's "wet", add a couple teaspoons of bread crumbs (Big Bro's favorite tip for defrosted meat that was "wet" was to add a packet of  instant maple oatmeal to a pound or a pound and a half of meat, something I never knew for years and his burgers were great!)  If it's a leaner cut, or venison, add a little liquid - olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, BACON FAT (subliminal message), or balsamic, etc.

    Let meat sit at room temperature about 30 minutes (but not much more than that).  Why?  Have you ever watched or participated in one of those "Polar Bear" meets where normally sane people jump into freezing cold winter water en masse like demented lemmings? (OK, once, it involved a pool on New Years, a bunch of  pilots, martinis, and it was California so it wasn't exactly FREEZING winter water)

    That's a shock to the system.  It's the same if you put your nice burger from the cold fridge onto the hot grill.  You'll just end up with a tough burger.
    Yes, my patties look like blood cells. When hamburgers cook, the middle tends to plump up. That makes the toppings slide off and make the burgers shrink. You've seen it, you start out with a nice big patty and when it's done it's half the size of the bun. Burgers WILL reduce as they cook, especially the 80% lean, but the "dent" helps a bit. Make the patty about 15 - 20% wider than the bun, Make the dent about as half as deep as it is wide in in the otherwise "sort of" uniformly sized patty.

    OK, now that  your meat is resting, get your grill ready. I like to use a "chimney" to get some hot coals going.  The chimney generates a strong updraft that quickly turns briquettes into hot coals.  It was pretty simple. Put 3 pieces of newspaper in the bottom, pile the coals on top, light the paper, wait 15 minutes. Look down in there, they should be JUST about ready. At 18- 20 minutes, dump them out and you've got hot coals.

    Don't have one?  Make one!"

    What materials are on hand.  Hmmm.  Cardboard box?  That would be a no?  Styrofoam?  Also a no.  Fruitcake?  The fruitcake itself would never burn, but I'm afraid of a chemical reaction between brandy infused cherries and Coleman fuel. (likely the source of the original  "cherry bomb") So no.
    How about some 16 inch non-galvanized duct work?  To the Bat Shop! To speed up combustion, you can use a hammer and a large to punch vent holes in the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the pipe. (You may need to brace the inside of the pipe with a chunk of wood as you punch these holes.)

    Even without vent holes, it will still work  Crumple 2-3  of sheets of clean newspaper in the bottom, leaving a few edges sticking up where you can get a match to them. Fill almost to the top with charcoal. Add just a dash of lighter fluid to a few of the briquettes.  Do not soak them with it, the newspaper and the chimney will do the work.

    Now step back and wait several minutes Fire Marshall Bill says so.  You don't want vapors on you or in the immediate area when you light it off. 

    After a few minutes have gone by, light the paper, stepping immediately away, and wait for combustion..
     Light Off !

    When you see white ash on the coals near the top. It's ready to pour out onto the grill

    Wait, there's no handle on this thing! 

     Fortunately for us, we have the HOTR Universal Pot Handle Tool

    Set the chimney on something non combustible, and away from children, stupid friends or relatives or pets as, it will stay HOT for a while. 

    Now that the coals are hot and spread around, it's time to cook. 
    Cook the patties "dent" side up first. Once those burgers are on the grill, don't press down on it as they cook. It won't cook faster, it'll just dry out quicker. Try and only flip it once.

    Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness,  Some meat will stay pink in the center even when they're hot enough, and fattier cuts can brown before they're fully cooked. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part, it's done when it reaches 165 F.

    Have some napkins handy, for these are some juicy burgers.

     "Clear on 2!"
    BUT DO NOT FORGET THE LAWS OF BOTH AERODYNAMICS AND  PHYSICS.  If you bend over to set something down, beer will spill.

    Partner in Grime - "What happened".
    Me - "Immutable Laws of Physics"
    Partner in Grime- "That's alcohol abuse you know."

    We paused for a moment of silence.

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Whitetails in Action - The Harem

    He shows up in a wide open field, just looking for love and the whitetail equivalent of a "sandwich".
    A little bit later, as the sun fades, his ladies show up.

    I will not point out to my readership that the ladies are all aware of a "threat" and poised to run while Mr. Buck continues eating a little supper while humming "Get Down Tonight".
    You all stay safe out there.

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Why Women Take So Long in the Bathroom In the Morning - The Truth Revealed

    I have had a number of people, well, women readers who have become friends anyway, that have sent comments via email regarding my hair photo on the right sidebar f the blog and it's alleged natural beauty.

    Just so you know, said picture involved a hair cut expense that would have made Congress proud, three different hair products, a round brush, a hair dryer, cursing in various languages including really bad Swedish, good lighting and 30 minutes in the bathroom.

    Gentlemen, there's a reason the women in your life spend a lot of time in there. But for their loved ones, for those special occasions and the occasional internet picture, it's worth it. For yes, because we want to look nice for you, we are doing the hairstyling equivalent of photoshopping our head

    For THIS is what my hair looks like when I wake up in the morning.