Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Not All Girls

 Not all girls are made
 of sugar and spice,
 and everything nice.
Some girls are made 
of adventure, fine beer,
brains, and no fear.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Last Thing - Words for Memorial Day

The last thing I saw was the a disk of golden sun through a haze of smoke. In the few months I've been here, the sun and duty's risk are the only constants.

The last thing I heard was the report of fire.  Just one last wild spurring of colors made sound, shaping the hot blind earth into darkness.

The last thing I felt was an intake of breath, air drawing in deep. It lays warm in me, then stills. I thought nothing could reach me.

I never felt what hit me. 
I think that was close, surrounded by the savage heat that no longer burns, the fecund odor of sand and earth that reaches not my nostrils, the incredible silence. Oh God, why is it so quiet?

I look down on my form from above, whole but without body, thinking I must have a concussion, as this vision could not be real.

I close my eyes and recite the steps to field strip my AR.  Bolt fully forward, remove the bolt carrier and the charging handle, and will unblinking eyes to clear my sight.

 But the vision didn't change.
They knock on my front door, with words that my wife's ears and heart will have to accept without proof, but for their sound.

They watch her search their words for anything that can hold sanity together, with language that is within her understanding.  But with the words she hears, she crumbles like fragile paper.

They gather up my things for her, a comb, a ring, a broken blade, a wallet photo of my Mom and Dad, their hair singed with ashen grey, where none before existed.

They send me home in a box, draped with a flag, in clothing I had never worn.
My body is buried in the late summer, the corn in fervent zeal, bowing before behemoth combines that will pull it into an oblivious end.

My name is spoken reverently, soft force that drowns out the protesters.  It takes everything my Father has in him, not to confront. They  know not what courage and duty really mean, their nothings as irremediable as my everything.

My wife says my name silently over and over, until it takes shape and form, then falls into a sob as taps are played.  The sounds drifts up to echo in heaven.

But sometimes an echo is heard
My gravestone sits as if listening and waiting, the cemetery vacant. The trees have long since turned gold.

My wife sits with my last letter, worn from the many times she's read it, sun slanting through  trees, quiet light upon the dying leaves. She reads of the restless moments of every last memory, taking what comfort she can from my words.

My words to her, of my love, of my fears, of the child she carries. The more she reads, the less she sees, as the writing becomes fainter, words wet with tears, until the paper itself crumbles away.

The paper is as fragile as she has become strong.
The cemetery is old now, my grave now surrounded by others, so many others. My eyes live on in a child I never met. My name lives on, on a stone in a place forever solemn, in a picture, in a flag.

I am everywhere, in memorial. I am here, in a tombstone, in the flag I hope you salute more than once a year.  I am part of  the earth beneath you, of the wild, strong blood that formed this land, of all that lived, and should live, in freedom.

I am dust in the wind, the hard roots of the past, the sound of earth as it falls on a pine box, the broken body of the past, the invisible footprints of  patriots.

I am your father, your son, your daughter, your mother.  
I gave my life in service to my country. I am a memory that begins and ends with what is left, stakes in the hard ground on which to peg our history.

When the last thing you see is that disk of golden sun in the sky, remember me. Remember my sacrifice.

For I am everywhere, in the trees, in the wind, under your feet in a land that's still free.

 You never knew me but remember me always.

LB Johnson - author    http://lbjohnsonauthor.blogspot.com/

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memory Day Weekend - What it Means

It's not a day off from work.
It's looking at history, and what has withstood time and conflict.
It's not meeting friends for a meal and fun.
It's not ice cream and a barbecue.
It's not sitting in  your lounge chair.
It's raising your flag, remembering what is important as you look hard at everything.

It's stopping to be grateful for the men and women who paid for your joys and your freedoms with their lives.
It's remembering brave sacrifices.
It's putting your pride in your country out  for all to see, not on this weekend, but every day of the year.
It's  remembering duty and courage and the willingness to defend. 
It's honoring the memory of all of those brave men and women who gave their life int he service of this country, so you could live, here today, in the safe place they made for us. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Night Bucket Lists

If you are on Facebook with me, one of my female shooty friends gave me  this "bucket list" of things one may  wish to do in a life lived fully  I've amended it slightly to make it shorter as Abby Normal the Lab wanted to add HER bucket list to the end.

Feel free to cut and paste and add your own "X's" for those things you've done.
Barkley - Lavatory Retriever
Shot a gun. X (well duh!)
Gone Camping. X
In Bear Country. (Bonus Points) X
Gone on a blind date. X He thought LEO was my astrological sign, he was on house arrest , it didn't end well.
Skipped school. X  Went to the park to read.  My whole class showed up on a field trip right where I was sitting.
Ran a Marathon.
Been to a foreign country outside of those that neighbor yours. X
Seen one of the "Seven Wonders of the World". X
Flown in a helicopter. X
Been on a cruise.  (I look at cruises like Abby does at Thunderstorms - we'll be in the closet)
Served on a jury. (called, always disqualified)
Been in a movie.
Played in a band. X  Clarinet, high school.  No groupies.
Sang karaokeX  In Florida, alcohol was involved.  Sang Willing Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" as "Blue Hairs Driving in my Lane".
Made prank phone calls-before caller ID, of course.  X Called the dog tattoo place (before microchipping) and told them Barkley wanted one of Cher on his butt
Had more pets than humans living in your house.  X
Went sledding down a big hill. X. And over a culvert...
Been downhill skiing. Does tumbling down a pretty good drop withOUT skies count?
Been water skiing. X
Rode on a motorcycle. X
Jumped out of an airplane. X
Been to a drive-in movie. X
Rode an elephant. (when I was a kid the movie DUMBO scared me!)
Been on TV. X (many times)
Been on the radio. - The Book of Barkley has been read on the radio.  I haven't been on it.
Been in the newspaper. X
Donated blood. X  Regularly, as I have O blood.
Gotten a piercing. X--See "Cruises"
Gotten a tattoo. 
Driven a stick shift. X
Driven over 100 mph. I plead the Fifth.
Been scuba diving.
Rode in the back of a police car.

NOW for the INTERESTING Life Activities by Abby Normal the Labrador retriever

Ridden in a Four Wheel Drive. X
Puked in a Four Wheel Drive. X
Pooped in the car. X
Pooped on the only rug in the room. X
Hidden in the closet during fireworks. X
Had your own birthday cake. X
Hidden one of your Mom's shoes just before she goes to work. X
Eaten your family's dinner off of the counter. X
Pretended like the cat did it.  
Worn underwear on your head. X
Been on a sleepover at another dog's house. X
Climbed over the furniture blockade. X
Begged for a single kibble when your bowl is full. X
Gotten stuck carrying a long stick up the narrow back steps.
Asked to go out, ask to come back in before even stepping off of porch. X
Gotten expensive dog bed, prefer floor. X
Beg to throw toy, won't let you have it to throw again. X
Swam in a lake.
Refused to go for a potty in the rain unless your Mom holds an umbrella over you? X
Eaten a bug. X
Liked it.  X
Found the only mud puddle within a mile right after being groomed. X
Aggressively bark at large scary animals in the wild, but afraid of bicycles.  X
Place head on Dad's leg at dinner.  When he won't give you food, move to other side. X
Drops tennis ball in Mom's glass of wine. X
Found your furever home. X

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Another Use for that Cast Iron Skillet

I always shake my head when I see all the boxes and brands of cornbread mix in the store, most of the ingredient lists which read like a chemical experiment.  Cornbread is about the easiest bread in the world to make and I've yet to meet someone that didn't like it.

I made some cornbread with my low gluten wild yeast whole wheat sourdough  with no extra flour added to the batter and it turned out awesome so I then wanted to try and make some that was gluten free, without using a bunch of almond and coconut flours.  How about gluten free sourdough? Use rice flour - it ferments easily, making a great base for delicious bread with that nice tang you associate with sourdough. 

I LOVE sourdough bread for the taste AND the health benefits:

Sourdough is:
– easy to digest
– contains the healthy gut bacteria lactobacillus (the same major player in yogurt and kefir)
– has most of the phytic acid  broken down and
– doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar like traditional bread often does (I'm hypoglycemic so this is always a concern)
Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
You will need:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 and 1/2 cup White Rice Flour (I'm pretty sure brown rice flour would also work, this is just what I had on hand)

To make starter in a 1 quarter glass container (yes, you can use plastic, but I prefer glass), combine 1 cup of 110  - 115 F non chlorinated water and  2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast and 1 and 1/2 cups white rice flour. Let sit loosely covered in a warm place for 12 hours, stirring with a wooden spoon every 3-4 hours, before using for the first time.  It's thick to start out, then thins, with often a layer of liquid on the top, this is normal and you simply stir before using.

Each time  you use a cup simply replace what is used with a cup of warm water (preferably non chlorinated) about 110 degrees F.  and 1 and 1/2 cups white rice flour.  Let it sit loosely covered for 12 hours before using again or store in refrigerator for later use.  In a few days add a cup of the water and a cup and a half of the flour and stir, letting it sit 12 hours at room temperature.  This should give you enough to make your first bread, but always make sure you leave at least one cup of starter left.

Try and use it weekly as regular feeding will make for a more robust starter and over time it will get more "sour" for that flavor.  But if it sits for more than two weeks reactivate it by removing a cup of starter, then feed it by replacing that with 1 cup four, 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup water and a teaspoon of sugar.  Let sit at room temperature for 12 hours, then put back in fridge.  

And if you want to throw in a handful of fresh blueberries and cooked bacon no one is going to stop you.

For the gluten free cornbread.

1 cup GF Sourdough Starter
2 cups cornmeal

1 1/2 cups milk 
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup lard, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Mix milk and lemon juice together and let sit a few minutes.  Preheat oven to 425 F. and grease a 10 inch ovenproof skillet or baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the starter, cornmeal, milk mixture, sugar and eggs (beaten first).  Stir in the melted lard, salt and baking soda.  Bake 25-30 minutes.

Serve with butter and honey 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekend Canon Fodder

Angry bird blocking sidewalk
The best part of waking up.
A local company was going to throw this out, and a perfectly good variac as well. 
 Going to ship this to Tam and Bobbie.
Escape by a hare
Remnants of old Chicago history
Yes, I sure want to drive a double decker bus in Chicago traffic!
Who is a good girl?
Chill mornings
Warm afternoons
Grill time
Anyone can microwave
 Homemade Korean barbecue sauce
Winging it.
It will be Monday before we know it