Tuesday, August 30, 2016

1911 - Proven by History, Carried by Thousands

We were the good guys. We had a plan.  It was a complicated plan, one that needed to be followed exactly.  You know how on CSI type shows they'll be out in the field where they can come up with a way to match DNA with a can of Aquanet and a long tube? (Wait, that's a potato gun.)  Real life is not like that. Coming up with a way to conduct a complicated experiment involving materials technology with what's on hand is usually a bit more detailed. In this case, the plan would come to fruition with the implementation of a design, one that was thought out and laid on paper, to the last microscopic detail. Of course that means someone usually decides to "improve on it".

So in this mission, essentially that happened and the original design was "tweaked",  without consultation, which meant it wouldn't work, at all.  The plan had to be re-written, not only to solve the problem, which was growing uglier as one waited, but  to also the fix the new problem that the freelance "improvement" to the design made.

The Second Design came with it a Mil Spec no one else would recognize.

MIL-TFD-1111

There were a few eyebrows raised. Finally someone had to ask.  "What does that mean?".

"Make It Like the Friggin Design Four Ones." (for once)


A design proven by history.

There are many 1911 style weapons out there, from “plain vanilla” straight 1911s to full adjustable sights, underlug accessory-rail equipped weapons designed for special ops, both military and civilian LEO type.  Many of you have one somewhere in that range, in your home or in your holster and for many a good reason.

This is a firearm  that is essentially unchanged in 100 years.

Some things you just can't improve on. Like a firearm that's proven itself over a century. The gun that sits on my table, that rides on my hip, is, but for the smallest accommodations in a few external parts, a few cosmetic updates (and likely better steel), is the same fundamental firearm John Moses Browning developed and Colt produced a little over 100 years ago. 

The first 1911 was born in the Colt Factory the year Roy Rogers was born.  If you are now saying "who is  Roy Rogers?" please go play a video game and come back later with a note from your Mom. It was the same year that Ginger Rogers was born, when John Rigby designed his .416 caliber rifle on original Mauser action for African big game and the same year the Ottawa Senators won the Stanley Cup. (Go Sens!)

When Gavrilo Pincip shot the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 with a  32 caliber FN Model 1910, much of the world realized that war was imminent and firearms would play a part in it. There were numerous firearms manufactured at that time, but it was John Moses Browning's .45 that was provided to the soldiers, with some two and a half million or more of  them manufactured to fight the war. To get that many firearms in service, contracts went out to other manufacturers besides Colt and Springfield Armory to make them, including a couple companies up in our neighbor to the North, Canada.

Twenty-One MILLION people died in that war, soldier and civilian alike. The losses continued through WWII, Korea and onward.   I am sure many lives were defended because of that firearm.  Something else that has not changed over time.

I'd toyed with the idea  of getting one, I already have more than one .45 to shoot, but I've heard so much about the 1911, all positive.  So it was no surprise that when I picked this one up, a Loaded 1911-A1, for the first time, I said.  "Oh, Yes."

"Loaded" 1911 does not mean it has a round in the magazine or chamber.  Consider it loaded, like your sub sandwich  or burger would be.  It has ALL the goodies, full length guide rod, polished feed ramp, enlarged ejection port, extended ambidextrous safety selectors, custom trigger and beavertail grip safety.

Concealed Carry - For carry, there are a variety of holsters.  I'm a big fan of  Dennis at Dragon Leatherworks holsters and his Talon  holster fits this firearm well and distributes the weight evenly.  But holsters notwithstanding, there are three basic ways to carry this firearm concealed.

Door #1 - The hammer is down and the chamber is empty.  This means you have to manually cycle the slide before you fire it.  Then, to return the firearm to its previous carry position you have to drop the magazine, empty the chamber, drop the hammer, and reload and reinsert the magazine, all without doing something stupid that's going to put a hole in anyone, including you.  You might as well carry a two and a half  pound hammer as a self defense tool.  It's likely quicker.  Carrying for quick self defense with an empty chamber poses more of a hazard to you than the criminal who is coming right at you.

Door #2 - The chamber hs loaded with a round but you must you cock the hammer with your thumb prior to firing.  If you've fired a single action revolver with a large hammer whose purpose IS be cocked by your thumb, you're familiar with the concept and it doesn't feel odd.  Still, this requires that you pull the trigger carefully and lower the hammer over a loaded chamber prior to re-holstering the firearm. Again, that's an extra step between the bad guy and the defense of your life. Personal choice here.

Door #3 - The one that makes liberals, old ladies and poodle dogs shudder in their shadow and that, my friends,  is cocked and locked.  This means the hammer is cocked, the chamber is loaded with a live round and the thumb safely is ON.  This means that the weapon is ready to fire NOW. All you have to do is click the safety down, pull the trigger while maintaining your grip and click it back up after the threat has the prerequisite hole in it. That's something that Barkley could even manage had he opposable thumbs.

But remember, when  the gun is cocked and locked, the sear is blocked from releasing the hammer. Further, unless a firing grip is on the pistol, the thumb safety swept off, and the trigger is pulled, the gun will not go off.  In my opinion, that's safer than the carry condition of some firearms.

Again, it's a personal choice, but I prefer Door #3.  Instant readiness.  If that door opens and a bad guy rushes in, intent on harming or killing, you can react in an instant.  That is why I carry a .45 for self defense in this manner.  Not to to be considered cool in the tactical sense, nor to balance my somewhat forward center of gravity, but to get the firearm in action when my life may depend on it, NOW, with the fewest opportunities for mistakes.

Some armchair gun enthusiasts like to say that you shouldn't carry a 1911 cocked and locked "because it requires more training than other guns".  I humbly disagree, at least for this particular model.
I'm no expert.  The gun manufacturer's don't pay me or give me freebies to write reviews and I doubt any of them will read them. I'm a better shot than much of the population, I'm a worse shot than a lot of my readership, I'm sure.  I simply know the basics.  I keep practicing the basics.  As such, I can say that I found the operation of this particular 1911 cocked and locked IS instinctual and functional. And I SO did NOT miss that very long and dreaded trigger pull on some double action autos that is like waiting at the doctors for that "you'll just feel a little pinch".

Again, my opinion, and as I tell anyone that reads here, for any new firearm, find a friend that's actively owned and shot one for years to offer guidance.  Even better, for a new firearm OR new to shooting, get an experienced NRA instructor like my friends Lynne F. Keads and Bill at Eastern Iowa Firearms Training  and get some "dual" on it as  we pilots would say.

Size and Weight - the barrel is 5 inches. That's a nice long sight radius for you to peer down for accuracy. Stainless steel, the height is  5.5 " and the weight 40 ounces (with empty magazine). This is a heavy firearm and for some folks, size and weight tend to go against the grain for the concealed concept, as they want light and small.  There are many folks that can and do carry "duty" size pistols and with the right holster and clothing, they conceal them well.  Weight, for me is not an issue as I'm not going to be carrying it all day long, nor size, as I'm 5 foot 8 in bare feet and curvy.  I also like it for recoil. Go fire a tiny lightweight gun with a largish round and then fire the 1911. You'll notice a huge difference in both recoil and comfort. I'd as soon be tied to chair and forced to watch "The Bachelor" than fire 100 rounds through my Kahr 40. The 1911, I can easily shoot for a morning at the Range and although my grouping gets a little looser as I get tired, it's still quite manageable.

First day with the 1911 target.
Trigger - Not just Roy Rogers trusty stead any more.  The 1911 A-1 trigger is nice.  It seemed like my finger just traveled about one nano-millimeter before it encountered resistance, and then just traveled another short distance until releasing with no discernible over travel.  It breaks as crisp and easy as that piece of Grandma's china after someone had too much eggnog.

With that, let's go to the thumb safety on the 1911.  If you've ever operated the bass-ackwards thumb safeties on some double actions, you will fall in love with the simple up/safe down/fire function of the 1911.

But remember, the primary safety is between your ears. Never rely on a gun’s “safety” to protect you from unsafe gun handling. A safety is only a mechanical device, not a substitute for using some common sense.

Grip - I can't count the number of  people I've talked to that try out a new handgun and immediately compare the grip to that of their 1911.  For that "new" firearm they're trying, it's like being the second wife after the first wife died after winning Miss Universe, curing cancer, and waking you up every morning with. . . bacon.  You will ALWAYS be compared to that first, impossible to replace love.  The 1911 is like that for some people.

The feel of the grip is unique, but not in a "she has a unique personality" way, but comfortable, like something you've felt before.  It just fits like it was built for YOUR hand.  The grips, as well, are beautiful.  Sure you could replace with a set of Crimson Trace laser grips, but would you want to? Springfield Armory, as well, seems to have somehow tweaked the original grip safety (an ornery afterthought designed by a committee who have never handled a weapon while under fire) so it works well even when gripping the firearm riding the thumb safety high, for use at any moment. I'm not sure as to what was done, or if it was just my perception, but it did perform well and it's infinitely better than some modern firearms that are lawyered up with a wealth of safeties that only a six year old could operate under duress. 

Accenting the grip area is a nicely cross set of wood panels that contain the double-diamond pattern, along with the Springfield Armory logo. It's not just nice looking, the texture of the surface provides for a positive hold.
The magazine release button  is easy to push in with either the thumb of the right hand, or the middle finger of the left hand (the "how am I driving" finger).  The magazines slide in well, and drop freely when you push the release button. The magazine is 7 + 1, and the firearm typically comes with two when purchased.

Accuracy - You don't necessarily need the "FBI crouch" of old movies and you most certainly do NOT want the "gangsta style" stance unless you want to make  sure the threat gets a chance to get a round off at you first.  Shooting "from the hip" works if you are being attacked by a hippopotamus on Ambien, but in most cases it's going to result in your getting your ass kicked, probably with your own weapon that is grabbed out of your hand.

Learn to use your sights.  Unsighted fire may work at powder burn range, but sights weren't put on a firearm so you could hit a zombie woodchuck in the eye at 200 yards. Sights were made so you can hit a target that's coming at you when you are not going to get a second shot. Using your sights takes practice and concentration.  I don't have a single handgun with laser anything though I have AR15s equipped with holographic technology and some night toys.  Iron sights are my friend and the ones on the 1911 here were very easy to adapt to, even in quick draw.

Stripping and Cleaning- Stripping and cleaning is pretty much standard for any of the 1911's.  http://how-i-did-it.org/detail-1911/field_strip.html for some guided instructions.

Much easier than the take down of the Ruger Mark III. (below)
Would I recommend the "Loaded" 1911 A-1?  Absolutely.  It's got a grip you will always feel comfortable with.  It's manufactured with the best in American Made quality, to one of the highest standards there is.  It's not an inexpensive firearm, but it's one you will own for a lifetime, and then likely pass on to your child or a niece, a nephew.  It's one you'll let your best friend shoot. This is a firearm that will retain its history, over time.

Springfield Armory has nailed the exemplary character of a distinguished sidearm and I'm proud to have one in the home and by my side.

 - Brigid

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Quote - Some Things are Timeless

Barkley

Trust is not that which binds, 
but that which bonds.
Abby

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bacon Jam - Your New Addiction

After a long work day and no desire to make a five course meal,  a grilled cheese is easy.  But how about adding a leftover fried chicken thigh and homemade bacon jam made with your favorite hot sauce?

1 lb smoked bacon, sliced into small pieces (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium brown onion, sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce - I used my favorite from

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (not the additive laden cheap grocery store"maple like" syrup)
cracked black pepper (to taste)
Extra water (see directions)

Directions.
In a non stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent. Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so and stirring. When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam”,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Abby Lab - On the Constitution

Abby - do these white shorts make my butt look big?

Abby wisely, and silently, pleads the Fifth.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dock Dogs Quotes for the Day

 Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
- T. S. Eliot
 Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
- Ray Bradbury
 No need to teach an eagle to fly.
— Greek Proverb
 Time is flying never to return.
- Virgil
 I have not yet learned to keep still.
 Apollonius of Tyana
The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy. 
Carl von Clausewitz 
  You have freedom when you're easy in your harness.
- Robert Frost
 The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
- Douglas Adams
 He who is brave is free.
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  Boldness be my friend.
- William Shakespeare
 No man is free who is not master of himself.
- Epictetus
 Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.
- George S. Patton
 Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.
- Voltaire
 The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long.
-  Lao Tzu, Te Tao Ching
 My soul is in the sky
— William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
 It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.
- Carl von Clausewitz
 Courage is knowing what not to fear.
- Plato
A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live. 
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
 Life must be lived as play.
- Plato

Sunday, August 21, 2016

No Step

We have successfully ripped out the back steps (the first floor sits on top of a walk out basement) and will be assembling the new ones, so blogging will be light until tomorrow night or Tuesday. The old steps (which were no longer structurally sound) went straight down to the drive which made putting them inside a fence impossible, given the layout of the drive, yard and garage.  The new ones will go back 90 degrees into the yard (with a landing) so the fence can go in that allows doggie direct access to the yard in bad weather.


It's been a learning experience.  I've learned Partner in Grime is pretty darn good at construction. And I learned that I'm pretty good at making sandwiches.  See you all later!


Friday, August 19, 2016

DIY Dinner

On the basics -

"The gunsmith should, and probably will, be quite content to master the task of screwing in a brass front sight on a shotgun without having the sight look as if it had been mashed between two moving gears."
- Professional Gunsmithing by Robert J. Howe (1946)

On the Shotgun -

"During the course of a year there is probably no other type of weapon that will cross the gunsmith's counter in such quantity and variety as the shotgun - from the engraved expensive British and German double barrel custom made jobs to the single shot eight dollar price of a boy.  And like a mother chick with her brood, the gunsmith must learn to know and love them all, for woe betide the gun craftsman who publicly refers to some customers pet scatter gun as being inferior to another type."
 - Profesional Gunsmithing by Robert J. Hower (1946)

There's all sorts of ways to do things, but sometimes just the basics can be as good as all the new found gadgets.  The books these quotes are from is an excellent one for a basic understanding of Gunsmithing.  The skills are timeless, only the technology and tools have changed (if you don't have the skills all the technology in the world is useless).  It also has some info on how to use old Atlas Lathes and Mills.

You have to understanding the basics.  Such it is with gunsmithing, such it is with another craft - foodsmithing.

With a kitchen full of expensive gadgets, mixes and packaged food, most people can put dinner on the table. But truly understanding how basic foods are cooked and why flavors turn out as they do is the difference between an "OK" cook and a "why is there a line on my porch?" cook.

What do we have to work with? There's  a few hamburger buns left from the cookout, a few canned goods.  A cheap chunk of roast beast was picked up, one that will be best prepared by slow cooking as  that will soften the connective tissue without toughening the muscle.  Still, it will need something to bring out the flavor.

It's DIY dinner time.

First you need to sear the meat the get the flavors that come only from the Maillard Reaction.


 No, not Mallard! It's MAILLARD.

It's a form of nonenzymatic browning resulting from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, normally with heat (and named after a French chemist who described it, not in the context of a French Dip but in attempt to reproduce biological protein synthesis). The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors.
  
In the reaction, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created, that in turn break down, forming yet more new flavor compounds. The browning reactions that occur when meat is roasted or seared are complicated, but most  occur by Maillard browning with contributions from other chemical reactions, including the breakdown of the tetrapyrrole rings of the muscle protein myoblogin (you've all just been waiting for this, haven't you?)
 
This enhances the flavor of any food that contains proteins and sugars and there are some food whose flavor profiles owe a LOT to Dr. Maillard.  Grilled roasted meats, crusty bread, dark beer, roasted coffee, chocolate, toast, cookies. Any food that you are cooking at temps above 250 F are going to have some Maillard components giving it color/texture/aroma.  If you know that, and can take full advantage of it, your dinner guests will thank you, even if you experiment on them, like I do. 

So don't forget to sear.  It's a scientific chain reaction of "MMMMMM". 

Range Beef Dip

Into a crockpot went:

2 1/4 cups beef broth (with added water to bring total liquid up to 2 and 1/3 cups
1 cup Merlot
1 can cranberry sauce
1 package Knorr French Onion Soup Mix *
1 heaping teaspoon crushed garlic
a couple of grinds of fresh  tellecherry black pepper
3 1/2 to 4 pound rump roast

*homemade soup mix  (no MSG)=  3/4 cup dried onion, 1/3 cup Penzey's beef soup base or bouillon powder, 1/4 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp parsley flakes, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4  tsp pepper.  Store in air tight container and use 4 Tablespoons for most recipes that call for a package of soup mix. 

First, lightly and quickly sear roast in a smoking hot pan covered with a thick sheen of oil.  It's done properly when there is a light brown crust on each side and the smell is pleasant, not acrid.  Don't overdo!

Place roast fat side up in crock pot and cover with the remaining, ingredients which you  have blended in a bowl. Cover and set to lowest setting. Seven to eight  hours later, the meat will be falling apart tender and the au jus will be  fragrant and  incredibly good,.  The cranberry adds a delicious undertone, not a fruity taste.  I'd have preferred some crusty Ciabatta rolls to stand up to dipping the sandwich, but messy will work with a knife and fork.

Try it.  It may not be as great as your Mom's recipe, but, like a basic shotgun, it's still pretty darn good.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Packin' Heat - Sausage Omelette with Scoville Brothers Hot Sauce

I will never master the perfect restaurant omelette that looks like an Origami Master assembled it but I can make one that TASTES a whole lot better.

This is the basic omelette, enough to feed two.

8 ounces kielbasa, sliced and cooked
6 large eggs
2 Tablespoons milk
salt/pepper
1/4  to 1/2 teaspoon Scoville Brothers Heavy Metal heat (to taste)
pinch of dry mustard
I added a couple tablespoons of chopped red pepper and a tiny bit of spinch which was leftover from salad last night - optional
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
a generous 1/3 cup smoked Gouda

Some tips:

Soak the eggs for 5 minutes in hot (not scalding) water.  This will help the omelette cook faster and the faster it cooks the more tender it will be.

Use butter instead of olive oil in the pan, letting the pan heat 2-3 minutes before adding  a teaspoon or two of butter per serving (this recipe serves two).  Use basting brush to even coat the bottom of your pan.

When you've mixed up the egg with milk so yolk and white are incorporated (without whipping them into froth) throw in some fresh herbs such as basil or chives, or some leftover spinach or peppers for a little color and flavor

Think outside the box as far as ingredients.  Instead of the standard ham and onion and cheddar I made this omelette with leftover cooked Kielbasa and smoked Gouda (1 to 2 ounce per two eggs).
My favorite tip.  Add a 1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce to the  beaten eggs, more if you like it extra spicy.  For Omelettes I love Heavy Metal Heat from
It's a Ghost Pepper Sauce and their hottest but it has a surprising depth that really makes the Range recipes sing. If you are a "chili head" you will LOVE this sauce.  For a milder taste, try the new Cowboy Crooner, we use that on our scrambled eggs with tortillas (migas) all the time.

Order it online or visit their Peck O'Peppers Gallery (for food, spices and work by local artists) at

702 Indiana Avenue. #9
Kouts, IN  46347

That's just south of Valporaiso, an easy drive from Illinois or Central Indiana.

It's located between the new Gauntlet Gun Shop and
Cross Saber Custom Gunsmithing
World's best hot sauce located between two nice gun businesses, if you need a sign you have to visit that is it!

Now for cooking your omelette - add eggs, stirring briskly with a silicone spatula for five seconds on on medium  to medium high heat.  As soon as the "curds" form so it's looking  a bit like scrambled eggs, lift the pan and tilt it around until the extra liquid pours off the top of the curds and into the pan. Use a spatula to shape the edge into a round and make sure the omelette doesn't stick. Sprinkle on any cheese you may use  Now walk away  You heard me. This tip is from Alton Brown and it works. Let your omelette sit unaccosted for 10 seconds to it can develop the proper outer crust.  If it needs a bit more time to cook though, depending on size, do so, but don't mess with it any more.

To finish, shake the pan gently to make sure the omelette is indeed free of the pan.  This is the part where you normally fold it over to get the perfect shape.  I usually fail at this so I just tip it all onto my plate.
Doesn't that look better than a bowl of Special K? 

Friday, August 12, 2016

One Voice, One Vote

The elections are a few weeks off and the TV is off, where it is likely to stay until late tomorrow night. There have been many words on the TV, words on the Web, some that make you wonder, some that just make you wonder if someone was hypoxic. Here at the Range, it is just Thursday morning.  I've a cup of coffee and a hour to write,  and just relax before my work day starts. There is no lamp light, only the glow of a keyboard and a candle lit, the match then snuffed like a dying planet in miniature, extinguished with just the rush of breath.

I can not tell you who to vote for, where or how. But think about it.  What seems to be monumental at this moment to the world is, for my world, for yours, just one vote, just one action. Actions, that when taken, can not be undone.

I've never had a tattoo. One of my  closest girlfriends has several, but they aren't really tattoos, they are works of art, incredibly detailed and delicate history etched into flesh. They are hidden by clothing so it was some time before I was even aware she had them, until changing clothes together for a formal occasion, they were revealed as her clothing fell to the floor like flower petals and I was struck by the beauty against alabaster flesh.
 But I always hesitated to get one. For starters I have a pretty low threshold of pain, which apparently is not uncommon among redheads. Then there is the whole "what would I get?" I have enough freckles that if someone were to connect the dots on my arms with an ink pen as a prank while I'm asleep, it might resemble a tattoo (don't ask how I know). But still, it's a big choice and a permanent one.

Some tattoos are crafted with months, even years, of thoughts and stories behind them. Others are done on the spur of the moment at the urging of friends who say "everyone has one, you need to have one too!" Both end in that moment when you unclench your hands from the pain, fingers filling again with blood and you realize that the rose, maple leaf, or big battleship with the words "Wanda Forever", or whatever it is that your heart clasped firmly on to, will be marked on your body for the rest of your life.

Such are those moments in early adulthood, when one is proving points as much as themselves. Two members of my family had died and the rest of us scattered in our grief, myself wandering the skies of a big world far from anything familiar. What I yearned for was the smell of fresh baked bread, sewing machine oil, fresh cut grass, the long ago sound of Mom laughing as Dad sang "Barnacle Bill the Sailor", chasing the little ones down the hall. I wanted family dinners around an old table, the sound of happy voices, the tender touch of hands that uphold and forgive. What I had what was life handed me, and no amount of wishing can bring back dreams that weren't yours to craft.

But I can remember those days as if it were today, the sounds, the throated roar of an engine, the whisper of wheels on the pavement, the oily smell of jet fuel and asphalt that lay heavy on my skin as I wandered. I had the tools to take care of myself, yet I unknowingly was looking for someone to anchor what had somehow been set adrift. Looking back now, I think "how naive !" But unfortunately, the future of individuals, indeed, a very nation, can lie in the actions of those so unaware of the true costs of things.

It's not long after, that I awoke one morning with a slight headache from jet lag, wondering, for a moment, where I am. I've awakened next to a stranger. Not really a stranger though, we had known each other a little less than a year and agreed on this venture, much to the delight of his family anyway. But now I just see a stranger, mouth shut in a firm line, no tenderness in it, a head tilted away from me, no longer listening. The cheap hotel a.c. blows over my legs like sweatshop silk, dust laden light glinting on a ring on my left hand, put there at some little "church" in a desert town where nothing seems permanent except loss.

I was not the girl he had wanted to marry but I did not know that at the time. That girl was not suitable, according to his parents. I was the girl they wanted him to marry, to come into the fold with, a big farm to inherit someday, a big future. Myself, I wanted that absolute of family, mine torn asunder. I was at that age of my 20's where every parent, every magazine, it seems, was urging one to marry.

I spent the next 10 years paying for the mistake of not being that girl, the hopes of laughter giving way to sounds no louder than a sigh but filled with such fury.
Actions. At the time we do things for reasons known only to us, and then looking back on those choices, years later, at the scars that only show when the cover of fabric falls away, do you wonder -What WAS I thinking?

So I don't make choices quickly any more. The people that share my life, my table now, are ones I've known for years. They know my strong choices and uphold them, they know my poor choices and forgive them.  As well, I accept them for what they are, not attempting to change them to fit something I need.
They are around me when it comes time to celebrate something. They are dinners, bad puns and zombie targets, tools and discovery, songs and music, too long dormant. They are there when the rain falls like knives, simply warming me, their flame drying me from the inside out.

There are some that might rightly say, that when all is said and done, just one action, just like one vote, will not change the course of the future. But it will let me sleep, knowing that for this moment, I made a choice. It's not the choice of a naive child in an adult's body, looking for someone to provide for me what I was capable of providing myself. It's the choice of one who has worked and lost and cried and fought, and will continue to do so as long as God gives me strength.
Yes, it's just a voting booth, just the motion of a hand, a moment in time. As the hand moves, so does that time, so much longing and loss, hopes dashed and restored, lies told out of the depth of our hearing and whispered softly in our ears, the clang of coins filling a pocket or scattering on the ground like tears. It's just a vote, it's just a simple action.

Or is it?

I curl up with my coffee and my notepad, looking at the photos on my desk of those people in my life that taught me to love and trust again, smiles of shared moments, a touch that is like gold in the hand, firm and secure. I look at the shelves against the walls, so many books, some patches, some awards, merits of years given and service paid to something I still feel is more important than just being popular. There's a flag and a small cross, ceremonial shapes of mortality, reminders that some choices are everlasting. There's a tail from a whitetail, taken in a hunt, some spent brass that guarded a life, a piece of old uniform fabric, the scents of verbena and gunpowder and freedom that soak into my skin and bones like ink, to stay with me til the end of days.

It is just one small voice - but it is mine.
 - Brigi