Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blog Meet!

It was Indianapolis Blog Meet weekend.  Being the holiday weekend, quite a few folks were out of town, but we still had a pretty good group today after the Indy 1500 Gun Show.

Tam, Old Grouch, Roberta, Kerry (our long-standing official lurker), anonymous analytical chemist "I get paid to clean out the inside of capsules"--which had us all cracking up at his descriptions of working for a pharmaceutical company (we do hope you'll come to the next one), Partner in Grime and Nathan (otherwise known as Fuzzy Curmudgeon), as well as Og and Mad Saint Jack.

And Clifford, the Big Red Watch.
Of course, you tend to get the looks with one member in the group when you're around in public around a lot of geeks. . .with the "Is he or isn't he?"
Don't ask him when the next book is coming out.  He won't kill you, unless you ask him when the next book is coming out.

I handed out some bumper stickers I made to the Dr. Who fans in the crowd -
Seriously, it never lands on anyone, always on an empty street, with a flat surface.

Then it was time for the important item on the agenda - ordering beer!
Broad Ripple Brew Pub has some great handcrafted beers.  Partner offered to be designated driver, so I went for the Lawn Mower Pale Ale, which is a refreshing, low alcohol brew, perfect for a hot day (we won't mention the time I had two pints of that, only to find out I'd been served high alcohol IPA and the next thing you know I'm River Dancing at Roseholme Cottage!)

Then the food arrived, including their famed fish and chips and assorted appetizers (the giant pretzel with sharp cheese sauce and Indiana stone ground mustard pictured below.)
For some of us, this was going to be an early dinner.

The Brisket Sandwich with Bacon.  That's in-house smoked beef brisket piled on a bun smeared with pimento cheese and topped with applewood smoked bacon, sautéed red onions and their very own southern style beer BBQ sauce.
MMMM  Bacon.
The Brew Pub Build your Own Pizza.  I had chopped garlic, olive and pineapple.  Yes, that's an individual pizza.  I'd intended to take half of it home.  Somewhere that plan went awry.
Tam replaced the pineapple with jalapenos on  hers.
Taking up much of one wall of the pub, the conversations were flying in every direction possible.  Down on our end, Roberta and I were having a rousing discussion on Banana Slugs (Ariolinuzx columbianu G) and how you can mark them for research by branding them with little branding irons made out of 1 mm diameter copper wire fastened to plastic shafts and then freeze branding the slugs, like little slimy cattle, by immersing the branding head into liquid nitrogen for a few minutes.  Much giggling started over slug branding, the dangers then of slug rustling, but no one actually broke out singing "Happy Trails", at least until that second beer.

Down on the other end of the table I'm not sure what was going on but I heard, as Tam said, the most statistically improbable statement of all time with "I know the man who invented the licking robot!" and in the middle of the table,  "there was some guy  at the gun show selling powdered magnesium (mumble mumble) well. . it's Indiana. . . (mumble mumble). . and he can!" and then the conversations skewed and shot back out into the stratosphere again.
Not everyone was in the photo, but here's most of the usual suspects.

We also talked about some of the cool firearms that are going to be donated to a raffle for the Honoring Veterans Afield organization at Gun Blogger Rendezvous, including a little Winchester 74, fully restored by Partner in Grime, and a beautiful Mark III Hunter from Ken Jorgensen of Ruger that's in the Range safe for now, as well as others (click on the link for more information.)

Tam brought us all issues of Concealed Carry Magazine, her articles and the rest of the contents always a learning experience and a pleasure to read. Everyone commented on how polished and professional the publication looks as it has evolved over time, editor Kathy Jackson doing an outstanding job there, as is Tam, as a regular writer.  I had a couple of The Book of Barkley for some folks that might want an author autographed copy, and Kerry brought some fresh eggs from their homestead to share with our hostess.

Sorry, not Scotch Eggs, regular eggs.  Boy, those look good!
These are Scotch Eggs.  A hard boiled egg encased in sausage, breaded and deep fried with a creamy garlic ranch sauce to dip them in.

Then, as iced tea and waters were refilled and Roberta had this amazing gingerbread looking dessert with ice cream, the conversation went to engineering, several in the group being the sort that understand such things (and that pre-1920 electric motors can blow up transformers if started improperly, don't ask us how we know.) It was not a surprise that many of us were nodding our heads to someone saying  "It's all fun and games until the arcing starts."
Too soon, the food was done the games all over. It was time to head home, to a black lab that would be wanting to be fed, preferably one of those Brisket Sandwiches.

Thanks everyone, for the fun afternoon!
My people are home - and no, I wasn't in the kitchen snooting for crumbs.

Bullets and Biscuits

It's Indy 1500 gun show weekend, so there's lots going on and a lot of friends in town. So I didn't miss out on the fun, Partner drove down from the Range and is spending the weekend at the crash pad with me while someone watches our place, so he can go to the blog meet this afternoon.

Til then, Sunday morning thanks and praise is a little nicer with homemade biscuits!

White Lily flour made with soft winter wheat and minimal kneading is the secret to light as a feather, tall, southern style buttermilk biscuits. It's hard to find around here, Meijer stores usually carries it though.

2 cups self rising white Lily flour
1/4  cup lard (yes, lard, the real thing, not Crisco which is full of transfats)
2/3 cup buttermilk (or milk with a dash of lemon juice in it, let sit 5 minutes)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Cut lard into flour until the fat is smaller than baby peas.
Mix in milk just until it pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Knead on floured board 2 - 3 times,  cut into 8-12 biscuits and place very close together on a baking pan.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Serve with butter, honey or preserves and BACON!

Friday, August 29, 2014

On Origins

We sometimes go through our whole lives maintaining a single belief.  Some is written in the Good Book, some scribed on our heart or etched in tears.

Some are tales to be told.  My daughter Brigid Jr., as she is known here, was adopted into a family with a Native Hawaiian mother, after I had her as a teen. She is quite adept at Hula (which is NOT the grass skirt number you see at the bar by the Honolulu airport - THAT, my friends, is a Tahitian dance). Hula is living history in an art form.  For Hawaiian history was oral history, It was codified in genealogies and chants, which were memorized and passed down, generation after generation. In the absence of a written language, this was the only available method of ensuring accuracy. Chants told the stories of creation, mythology, royalty, and other significant events and people.
Such were the stories of my beginning, adopted out of a bad situation.  When asked as to my background and genealogy, Mom told me what she said she had been told by the caregivers who placed us with them.  I was just like she and Dad and would look like them, predominately Irish (with maybe a tiny bit of Scot) and lots of Scandinavian, like her. The eye slant?  That was said to be a bit of Native American, not hard to believe, given where I was born, with a high Northwest Indian population.

I identified my whole life with being Irish/Scandinavian. I was proud of whatever tiny bit of Native American blood I carried, volunteering and donating time and money to help some of the elders in that community.  That was my history, that was my belief, for fifty years. My daughter and granddaughters inherited the same unique slightly slanted, almond shape eyes, some thinking the little ones holding some Polynesian blood except for their blue eyes and  blond, blond hair. We'd laugh and say "no, we think they have a little Cree or something, we're not sure."

It was what it was, and I put my origins and questions behind me. I learned to make the dishes of my grandmothers, I learned the languages and the culture, just as my daughter has learned the culture and the language of the Hawaiian Islands (hearing a 6 foot tall redhead speaking fluent Hawaiian always gets some attention).
For it was my history, as I had no history; no one had tried to find me, no family remaining of blood. I tried the various sorts of Internet adoption searches after Mom had died.  But the trail was not just cold, there was no trail; no bread crumbs strewn to find my way, no one seeking me but the taste of ash upon the tongue.

So again, I  put it behind me and just enjoyed what I had, which was a wonderful family that loved me, a Big Brother who protected me and was my best friend.   I shared their hearts, I shared their heritage. I always filled out my "what race are you?" on applications as either "human", if it was fill-in-the-blank, or "white", for all I had was smoke and myth.
Besides I've always been a firm believer in hiring someone because of their skill set, not their color or gender.  I perfected Irish soda bread and colcannon, I crafted intricate Swedish pastries at Christmas time.  I learned that about any fish is good if you dip it in beer batter, fry it and serve it with chips and Guinness.

But I went ahead recently and had some genetic DNA testing done, if anything, to tell my daughter and two tiny granddaughters a bit more about their heritage, when they are old enough to understand.  It was an extremely reputable provider of this service, and not quick or cheap.
Big Bro and I with Grandma Gullikson (I look excited, as always, to be in a dress)

I got the results today.

I don't think anyone intentionally lied. I just think the placement folks didn't know and made up what sounded good to my prospective adoptive parents.  It was that or  my Mom said what she thought would comfort me, as in the beginning of our journey as a family, having come from a place where, as an baby, I screamed if anyone tried to pick me up to hold or comfort me.  I felt very much out of place.

The tests aren't perfect, and they certainly won't tell you who you are related to, but simply compare your DNA against known samples in the database for each area, comparing your DNA against those to come up with a primary geographic affiliation (where you share the same DNA traits  with the largest number of people).

I couldn't have been more surprised at the outcome.

For I don't have Irish blood. None. There's a slight possibility of a little Norwegian blood but only slight, and some other tiny percentages of regional DNA match scores including Welsh, and the UK. But no Irish.  In actuality, the regional DNA match score was predominately, from one country of the world. Not Ireland. Close, but no cigar.
Scotland, originating most likely in the Strathclyde area but possibly also from the Glasgow or Dundee area. My biological parents had remarkably similar Allele's in the Autosomal STR profile so they were likely of the same ethnic background, just with parents or grandparents (or so on) from a different part of Scotland.

But what about  that second, and not miniscule, area?--that measurable piece of something that perhaps gave me my unique facial features, and was not Native American as was claimed by those that passed on my history to me.

It was Ashkenazi Jewish (Budapest, Hungary)

Color me surprised. 
For tonight folks, I'm just going to sit here and think upon what we believe, and how fragile it is; rolling it around on my tongue trying to  taste the sweetness of it.  I'll sit and look as the night approaches, pondering the nature of half glimpsed truths; of the mournful stillness of wanting to belong, of the little death of losing something that you never held. I'll pour a small finger of amber liquid and gaze slowly at a glowing candle, a flame never wide enough to embrace the whole world, but large enough to sum up in glowing light, this one small soul, in one small corner of it. 

Still hate Haggis though.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Barkley Memories - Lessons in Mythology

In classical mythology, Cerberus was the hellhound who guarded the entrance to the underworld, and greeted people at home that wanted to date my teenage daughter.

--Brigid Jr, and Barkley, on one of her many  trips to visit while she was at Boston University and I was living back East.  I met her at age 18, after giving her up for adoption.  She and Barkley became fast friends and she misses him as I do, even as we laugh at some of the photos of him.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Steam-Punked Sunday

I hit paydirt on fun this weekend.  After Saturdays activities with Partner in Grime, today I got to hang out with someone who was not only partnered up with me at work for five years, back in the day, but was, and is, still like family. Like most folks who work as a team, we have few secrets, which can be good or bad, depending on who is listening :-) and his two sons inherited the collection of Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels that were Big Bro's and mine, as I wanted his youngsters to have them. They're a little young for them yet, but I can't wait until they are old enough to appreciate them.

But other than a few quick coffee meet and greets, when he was visiting the area, we hadn't seen each other like this for a while, his having moved  to take a great opportunity for a different and challenging job far away.  It had been almost 3 years since we just hung around one of our houses, like the old days.  But he moved back at the start of the summer, and life resumed as it had been, just with  an increase in the number of spouses, kids and/or pets.
It was great to have him back full time, with lazy weekend days, like today, to just hang out, the former Marine who could take names and take out a gnat at probably 1000 feet, now married to a beautiful and brilliant woman, with two little ones, a house. . . and a cat?   How times bring change to all of us, I thought,  happy to see him so content, now back home, with his family, just as he was so glad to see me settle down with Partner in Grime.  Catching up, is always good, the conversations today covering sniper gear and in invasion of wild raccoons (a story only for the cone of silence), silencers, bad home repairs, and beer, while the boys played with their boys in the next room.

Today, was just like old times, sharing laughs, sharing some hobbies.
 Lately, it's steam - and not in farm equipment, but as in punk.
I can't quite rock a corset the way his wife can, but we all have some serious fun putting together gear to wear.

Leathers fun to work with as I have learned from my friends. You can make coasters.  You can make holsters.

You can make Steampunk Goggles.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tri State Gas Engine and Tractor Show

And you thought I was going to be at home blogging?  :-)
 Not a chance. 
 There is just something about old machinery, things that have served a purpose, that still do, even if it's just maintaining the values of a past generation.
You go to these events and there's hundreds of people. There's no trash laying on the ground;  everyone picking up after themselves.  Everyone is polite.  No one's pants are hanging down to their knees with their underwear on show. 
 Items from the past are on display and for sale, many with their own stories to tell.
The language spoken is English and the only flags you see are those of the United States.  No one is using the F-Bomb as a verb as family relaxed, played, laughed with their Dads and said Grace over a giant Pork Tenderloin sandwich.
 It's the hard won, and hard worked for, respect of those that understand a way of life that may be in the past, but can still be the benchmark of how they live their life today.
This is the world's largest antique engine and tractor show. Featuring Minneapolis Moline tractors and Illinois built engines, this show has about every type of tractor I've ever seen.

Tri State Gas Engine and Tractor Show, in Portland, Indiana.
I loved this one which I called the Craftmatic Adjustable Tractor.
And then there were the more unusual ones.
Gas engines are like roaches you get one and they multiply.History, here in your backyard
With temps in the low 80's, some clouds and lots of trees for shade,  it was a great day to wander around. 
I just spotted a bike! A bicyle built for two.
OK, who is actually steering? (At which point, I saw this couple in their 80's on a golf cart.  The wife was driving.  She had red hair.)
Indiana manufactured steam engine.
I don't have a clue who this is, but he wanted his picture taken by the redhead.  We met some really fun people here today.
Indiana's own Heck-icopter.  It flew once, briefly in 1962 after the original Chrysler engine was removed so it would be a little lighter.  It's made out of mostly housing supplies and is probably the motor from a Cuisinart, I think.  I did not offer to take it around the patch.
Murphy's Law - no, you don't' want to buy one.  Though it might make a dandy greenhouse.
The area had 7 inches of rain the other night, a lot of the fairgrounds was so muddy it was impassable, and unfortunately, there were some lanes of tractors we couldn't walk to.
Say, another car is stuck.  Too bad we don't have something to pull it out .

Oh wait...
But we did see some unique ways to get around.  Vehicles of every shape, kind and size, and for all ages.
The King Midget Micro Car.  First on the cover of Popular Mechanics in 1951, it was advertised as the "500 pound vehicle for $500" you could build in your garage.

Paint flames on the side and you're good to go!
 A classic, even today.
This one is for Keads and Larry.
I remember this beauty from previous years. 

A warm but happy yellow Lab, enjoying some time in the shade. I packed us a picnic, ham sandwiches on homemade bread with watermelon and cookies.  But the Fest had all kinds of food from Indiana's famous tenderloin sandwiches to giant baked potatoes with everything but the kitchen sink on them.
For PA State Cop
And for Old NFO - the "Grey Man" Tractor
I could just watch this all day.
People had so many little creative tools, using the force of gas, motion and steam.

Yes, that's a tiny working cement mixer in the center.
You don't learn to do make things like this playing video games all day.
 (a miniature opposed  cylinder engine)

The  Maytag repairman is still standing around.
 That would be a "no"
Break time!  Partner In Grime is reconsidering his iced tea and is eyeing  my blue raspberry shaved ice.
You dispose of the trash, I'll meet you over by the "one armed man" bathrooms.
Then, it's time to head back to the crash pad in Indy after we wash up.  I know a little dog who will ready to see us, even if she got a nice walk today.
I think this day calls for an All American supper once we get back.
Cheeseburgers with grilled onions and home made fries.

We did bring home some of the  incredible "kettle korn" from Indiana Veteran owned  Mom N' Pops Kettle Korn, (momnpopskettlekornllc@gmailcom to bring some to your church, school, fundraiser, fair or fest.)  Not only was it the best I've ever had, the folks making it were so nice, making me a fresh hot bag, even though there were other bags pre-made on the table for those looking to grab-and-go. 
Best snack ever!
Thanks for sharing the day, but it's time to say goodnight.  Right now I have a sunburned nose,
 wild hair and "tractor butt",  but also a whole bunch of good memories.