Sunday, February 27, 2011

Recognition - A Photo and Thoughts

click to enlarge the big brown eyes if you dare

Mom, that wood's stacked kind of high. It's icy. Be Careful.

Because you know, you have treats in that coat pocket.

It's always nice to know there are those that care about you. While I was recovering from surgery, the indomitable Whitetail Woods - Rick K. presented me with the Stylish Blogger Award. At the time, I just didn't have the energy to do all the links and such to pass it on, but thanked him (if you love the outdoors and hunting, his blog is not one to miss).

Then it turns up again, Jim Rawles at presenting me the award as well.

All right gentlemen, I give up. :-) I am feeling better after all. So in keeping with the rules of the award, I will pass the award on to 15 other bloggers, and divulge 7 secrets about myself. (Seeing as how Old NFO and Murphy's Law, who know me professionally, threatened with a list of 15 today.) I don't hide much. You all heard about Seigfriend and Roy and the infamous static electricity incident. Which led me to the invention of the "Don't Tase Me, Bra !". But there ARE some things you don't know.

7 things you don't know about B.1. I once got sent to the principals office for reading a copy of Road and Track behind my history book.

2. I started college at 14. It was the free wheeling 70's but the reason I was the only girl on the campus not wearing a bra was sadly, I was the only one that didn't need one.
3. I HATE tomatoes in their cold, seedy, alien, larval life form state.

4. I will never ever be a size zero. I could care less.

5. I was jogging in the park when I realized I was in the middle of some college running event. Up ahead the tape for the finish line. What could I do? I picked up my pace, ran through the tape, arms raised, shouting. "I won! I won! and kept on going.

6. In 5th grade Mom bought me the world's ugliest and sturdiest shoes. Money was tight in our house but I hated them. I took a hammer to them, put them on a string and dragged them behind my bike for miles. I smeared peanut butter on them and let the dog play with them while Mom was sleeping. . After a month they looked suitably worn out. Mom dragged me back to J.C. Penny, complained about the quality of the shoe and got a new pair, EXACTLY the SAME.

7. I would rather watch Top Gear than ANY show involving shoes or fashion.

8. I used my first four letter word. . . . loudly, on the pastor from the Lutheran Church. I used it quite a few more times before I hung up my wings.

9. I once was caring for a friend's  budgie that I could NOT get to talk. A family member was staying over and I left them with the TV to fend for themselves  with naughty vision on cable as I had to go to bed for an early sortie. I woke up to my precious, previously mute, bird screeching "Nice Tits!" at the top of her little bird lungs.  I had fun explaining THAT to the owner.

10. I still cry, at taps, at the slaughter of the innocent, at the sound of a voice late in the night calling from a military installation so very far away, making sure I'm OK.

And here are my 15, in no particular order. You guys make each day a little wiser and brighter. Thanks

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Deershank Redemption

Most hunters aren't quite sure what to do with the shank. Elk, deer, antelope. But nothing gets wasted here. This book is one of the best I've seen if you've never processed your own meat and need detailed, pictorial instructions (and don't worry folks, those are painting drop cloths, not the scene of violent meat mayhem).

Shanks (the lower part of the leg) have a lot of sinew and connective tissue so there really isn't a lot you can do to make them tender or tasty. So they usually get ground up into burger. Nothing braises quite like a shank, whether it be lamb, beef, veal or, in this case, venison, but if you are short on actual prep time, a marinade makes a good alternative. For the hunters out there, we all know that we really shouldn't’t waste the shanks of the deer, elk or antelope we shoot and with the right prep you can get a tasty supper. Prep is the key. Muscles that get a lot of work, though tough as all get out, are full of flavor.

A proper marinade is easy, and will help to break down the connection tissue into a silky coating that will tenderize and sweeten the meat. Add in a little spice and some savory bacon. . . .

I made this a weekend or two ago, and it was a hit.

Bacon Wrapped Venison Shanks

2 lbs venison shank per person. For each add:
1/2 lb bacon (Plain, thin-sliced Bacon is best)
3 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups soy sauce
2 heaping teaspoons of ground ginger
dash of garlic powder (or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of minced garlic).

Mix sugar, soy and seasoning in a large zip lock bag (you can use more than one bag if you have several helpings, I usually only have four to prep unless I got the Three Mile Island Whitetail). Poke just a few shallow holes in the venison with a fork. Add venison shank(s) to the marinade in the bag. Put in the fridge at night and let marinate until dinner tomorrow.

Remove the shank(s) and place on a slotted bake sheet with a drip pan or aluminum foil below to catch dripping. Don't throw away marinade.

Wrap the shank in uncooked Bacon. You may use more than 1/2 a pound, just make sure the shank is covered, securing it as needed with a toothpick or two.

Drizzle some of the the remaining marinade over the meat. You want enough to moisten the meat and also a little in the bottom of the pan so you can continue to baste the shank with the marinade throughout the cooking process with a brush or a turkey baster.

Place on center rack in oven and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. This should cook the meat to about rare. If you want it more cooked, even with the searing step that follows, add 5-10 minutes. This is a naturally tough piece of meat so leaning towards rare will give you the better cut and taste.

Remove shank from oven and place the shank directly on a grill over medium-high heat for a minute to sear the bacon and outer shank. If you wish to pass on this step, cook the shank at 300 degrees F. for an hour and a half, remove and let rest five minutes and slice and serve. The bacon won't be as crispy but it will be as good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Night Vision" Barkley

The look says it all. Busted.

I swear, If he's going to keep stealing my brand new underwear I'm getting him an inflatable poodle.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Update - Gun Show

Sometimes the best weekends aren't at a exotic location, but in a warm home, among friends who understand what is truly important.

And good food. I was lucky and got to spend the weekend with Mr. B. and Midwest Chick.

Boiling oil. It's not just for medieval sieges any more.
Pepper steak. Marinated for two days, tossed in flour seasoned with cayenne, cumin and paprika and flash fried at a high temp so it melts and explodes on your tongue at your first bite. Mr. B can do a meal up right, I can say that. Midwest Chick and I just stood around with a beer going "it's Shake and Bake and I helped" in a cheesy southern accent and nibbling on the beef as it came out of the pan, it being too good to wait for the table.

He cooked it in small batches so the pan stayed hot, and the meat crisped up and didn't get soggy, as can happen if you try and cook it all at once, overcrowding the meat.

Tossed with stir fried broccoli, onion and pepper we served it over rice. It was incredible.

click to enlarge
Add in a bottle of Yuengling, a loaf of homemade bread that Midwest Chick crafted and some butter I picked up at a local dairy farm.

Then, after a good night's sleep, it was off to the Valparaiso Gun Show. We arrived a couple hours after opening and the line was still out the door. We didn't wear coats, thinking we'd just be in and quick so the 20 minute wait got a little chilly. Mr. B, being a gentleman, put an arm around each of us and tucked us in close. The man behind us in line was like "I can't even get ONE pretty girl to come to the gun show with me, he gets two. . .".

We spent several hours, perusing many displays and business offerings, including a stop at 21st Century Firearms of Bluffton. Their employee Jahred works hard for a great business with good service and a new firearm was picked up.

There was something for every taste, from weekend shooter to medieval enthusiasts.
I looked for a Fairbairn Sykes knife (between the third and fourth rib, seventeen degrees up. . . . ) for the collection but couldn't find one, but the show had a pretty good collection of flat edged weapons of all varieties.
Just Say NO to pink guns.
Then off to a place in town for a little bite to eat. Don't even ask. OHHHH. New Toys!!!
Tonight, a dinner out with Og and the Mrs and other friends, and another Yuengling may sacrifice itself for the cause. Cheers - Brigid

Thursday, February 17, 2011

RePosts from the Road - Girl Scout Gunsmithing

Changing out grips isn't real gunsmithing, but it's still something one should try their hand at. Real gunsmithing can be challenging and technically demanding. The gunsmiths I've met are a combination of mechanic, metalworker, mathematician, artisan, ballistic expert and chemist. The gunsmith trade is one that through time has been respected and supported in most Western civilizations. The skills of the gunsmith were necessary for the very survival of early colonies, towns, and cities. Skilled men, providing the services to protect and defend; providing the services to keep peace among the town's people.

In this case, this is the equivalent of some kitchen cosmetic work, the modification required the mighty skill of working a screwdriver. Lets see..... righty tighty, lefty loosey.... yup, I can deal with that. If there was a Girl Scout Badge in this, I could have nailed it.

I love wheel guns, and have owned a couple, as do friends of mine. This one here, is a Taurus snub nose .38 , model 85. It's about fifteen years old, and can count in its history thousands of rounds and thousands of miles of CCW carry as well, always being a personal weapon.

It might be that you just want a different grip, or it might be after years of careful use, you notice a small crack. . The wood is still beautiful, but eventually the grips are going to loosen and perhaps to the point one might come off. That is not an option. So, in this case it was a Hogue Monogrip replacement unit.

I'll be the first to admit. I can do a lot of technical things but as far as guns, I'm not the most experienced with doing more than field stripping, cleaning, bluing and occasionally putting on a scope. The last time I tried to put something together of a non forensic nature involving small pieces, it was that lighted, animated reindeer thing for the lawn for Christmas. After going through the directions, which were written in Sri Lakin, I wrote the manufacturer asking that they consider including with the "all parts included! reindeer kit" (1) directions in English (2) tiny elf-sized metric tools and (3) a gun capable of taking out a reindeer.

I needn't have worried about this little project. Al Gore could have removed these grips. Simply pull the one screw out of the panels and pull them away from the frame, being careful not to lose the locating pin that resides in a frame hole at the bottom of the frame.

The Hogue Monogrip installs with a neat little widget that's included with the grip. Slipped over the frame with the locating pin through it, it provided a good place for the single screw that holds the Hogue Monogrip on the pistol.

With the widget installed as per instructions (wow. . in ENGLISH) it was simply a matter of sliding the Monogrip into place and installing the single mounting screw. That simple. Total time for the job, start to finish, less than ten minutes.

The result is a positive and good feeling pistol grip. Soft enough to really stick to the hand, while being firm enough to provide lots of control. Yes it's rubber, but it's not tacky or spongy. Recoil absorption should be good. The texture of the grip, a sort of "cobblestone feel" as the manufacturer calls it, should be a good medium between a smooth grip and a checkered one.

Not bad for a few minutes at the workbench. Leaving time for other garage projects after supper. Anyone got any duct tape?

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Now, not only do I want the car, I want a piece of key lime pie.

Next time you are at the grocers, look in the aisle that has lemon juice and try and spot a bottle of Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice . If they have it, grab a bottle. It's a great addition to the kitchen. I use it for all sorts of things, marinades, stir fry, and a HOTR favorite, lime jalapeno chip dip . If you didn't manage to shoot cupid out of the sky, it makes a nice appetizer. :-)

3 cups ranch dressing
¼ cup green chilies, roasted
¼ cup jalapeño, pickled, marinated, (or my preference) roasted
a pinch of Penzey's ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice
1/3 bunch fresh cilantro
1 Roma tomato, diced

Place all ingredients except cilantro and tomato in blender and blend until smooth. Add tomatoes and cilantro and just pulse until chopped fine but not pureed.

Serve as a salad dressing or as a dip for chips.

But the real classic when it comes to key limes is key lime pie. The recipe is on the back of the bottle, and in the comments here. I just make a simple graham cracker, butter and sugar crust and there you have it.

Prior to the 30's when the Overseas Highway opened, the Keys had no fresh milk, no refrigeration, and no ice. Because of this lack of milk, local cooks used canned sweetened condensed milk which had been around since 1856. Good cooks still use it as it's the secret to a creamy Key Lime Pie. There are differing opinions on the making. Some use whipped cream, some meringue. Some use a pastry shell, some graham crackers. I prefer Graham Cracker, but a homemade one, not the pre-made ones which are made out of ground presto logs. The consistency should be more custard than pudding and have a light yellow color. You do not put green food coloring in a Key Lime Pie though I've seen some that look like Marvin the Martian made them.

The original key limes themselves looked like little confused lemons, and were native to Malaysia, likely arriving in the 1500's with the Spanish. When a hurricane in 1926 wiped out the large key lime plantations in South Florida, growers replanted with Persian limes which are easier to pick and ship. The key lime, however is is smaller, seedier, has a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind than the Persian lime. Today, the original key lime is almost a ghost, and any remaining trees are found with small growers and in backyards, their fruit seldom leaving the Keys. Their unique taste is what makes a true key lime pie a rare treat. Forget the big Persian limes, heaven forbid you use that stuff that comes out of a bright green plastic lime, for an authentic taste use the real thing.

Some things are classic and should not be messed with.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Notes from the Road

Travel light in life

take only what you need;

a loving family,

good friends,

simple pleasures,

someone to love,

and someone to love you,

enough to eat, enough to wear

and a little more than enough to drink,

for thirst is a dangerous thing.

Photo is from the Gravity Bar in Dublin on another trip.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I am an Airman

Low Flight
Oh! I've slipped through swirling clouds of dust,
a few feet from the dirt.
I've flown my Intruder low enough to make my bottom hurt.
I've SRTC'd the desert, hills and valley, mountains, too.
Frolicked in the trees, where only flying squirrels flew.
Chased the frightened cows along, disturbed the ram and ewe,
and done a hundred other things, that you'd only care to do.
I've smacked the tiny sparrow, bluebird, robin, all the rest.
I've ingested baby eagles, simply sucked them from their nest.
I've streaked through total darkness,
just the other guy and me,
and spent the night in terror of things I could not see.
I've turned my eyes to heaven,
as I sweated through the flight,
put out my tired hand
and touched The Master Caution Light

I gave my Dad a call Saturday night as I always do. He's doing better since my Step Mom passed, even going as far as getting a dog, one a family member had raised but needed a new and quiet home, as they had a new baby in the home. Dad took to the dog better than we thought, saying with staid cheer, "his days are numbered, so are mine, we'll enjoy them together. The dog is 11. He is 91. Dad's a remarkable man, having been through a great war and outliving two beloved wives and a daughter. Tragedy never broke his spirit, he learned to duck and cover and survive, with courage and honesty. Adversity only gave him the life energy that propels him to this day, that I am still fortunate enough to share with him. I hope I can muster the same courage as I proceed in life, to take the sequence of events and luck, combined in a thrall of the forces that Clausewitz calls friction and chance, that pull that defines a life, and with it mold who I am, who I can be. Because I am definitely his daughter, for good, bad and always, a fighter, a survivor of wars of life's own making. And like my Dad, a retired USAF Colonel, the sky is in my blood.

It was really stormy yesterday,and again today, with another half a foot of snow dumped on top of another foot of snow and ice. So much for getting out of the house. I did sort through some old photos, some of them back from when I was still flying actively. There's still pages in the album that are blank, pictures loose in a drawer, or stored on the computer, waiting to be cataloged. Pictures of skies long ago, pictures of my last fight before I hung up a set of wings I'd worked years to obtain.

I have no regrets about a career change, and other major changes I made in my life, but within me always, will be the woman my Dad raised, someone who loves freedom and justice, someone who knew that to do anything with my life other than what I have done, would be to ignore my souls natural response to living, and I would now still grow old, but with regret.

Though my career is completely different, the sky is still full of beauty and in my way, I still revel in it, if only for a afternoon flight with a friend. Smelling the rain on the heavens and feeling the wind on your face as I stride towards the aircraft on the ramp, the horizon full of things hinted but not yet seen. Live your life to the fullest and fight for your dream. Better a belated and streaming dawn than a life lived in twilight, the photos say to me, as I look and see myself, four bars on my young shoulders, flight bag in my hand. The flight bag, a battered stickered briefcase overstuffed with technical information that has to be read long after the flight is over; regulations, memos, bulletins. new approaches. Always new approaches to add to those we know too well, the convoluted cha cha that is JFK, the fog shrouded dance that is Beale.

We are airmen.

Male or female, young or old. we are airmen. We know, but do not gleefully await, the lively jig that is a Washington/ Reagan visual. We know the mountains around Anchorage and the deep hole of disorientation that lies east of Miami. We knows the gates at Dallas, and the long lines at LAX and the up and down escalator drill that is Cleveland. We've strolled, walked and ran the full tilt of DFW, trying to catch that transport that will take us home. We have politely pushed through the throng that is New York LaGuardia and reveled in the clear sparkling crispness that is the brand new terminal at Indy.

Civilian or Military, pilots remember. We remember Calgary and Cold Lake, Travis and Tuscon. We remember Phoenix, and Philadelphia, Kallispell and Kabul. We delight in the perfect clarity of a cold New Mexico sky and remember that late night mambo down an ice slicked runway in Chicago. My Dad's generation and mine began on round gauges, and round engines. for which starting was an artistic endeavor requiring holy curse words and sometimes meditation.

Those that fly now, may have been raised on the technology of the wi fi age, but we both understand outdated fire equipment, short runways, poor lighting, and cranky crew chiefs. But there is still something that all of us will never comprehend and that is simply not being aware of these things, the complacency that can end our day on a uncorrectable note of finality.

We relish the cheerful warmth of the coffee in Vancouver and and the pause of an ice cold beer in Denmark. We recall the icy winds of winter and the soaring thermals of a glider port in June. My generation and the last speaks as if old lovers of the DC6's for which landing was not so much a meeting with the earth but a ballet of finesse, prayer, body English and nerve. We remember the C130, the vagrancies of the DC9 and the new car smell of the early Boeings. We still recall with youthful pride the rumbling thunder that is the DC8. We reminisce over the vast remote landscape of the DC10 cockpit and the snug little sports car feel of the T-39. The young ones have no such memory, yet are busy making their own, being front row participants in technology my Dad's generation only dreamed of.

Pilots speak a language handed down from generation to generation and only slightly understood by their non flying partners. We banter about EPR and ALPA and Mach and HUD and pickle pause and pull. But when it's time for the approach, the cockpit quiets and the concentration is almost tactile. For though we have tasted the insulation of the sky, we know too well the adrenalin surge of danger. We respect the power of the atmosphere and we know what it means to fight for control, of the plane, of what we believe in, and that is the uncommon faith in what we can do, what they are doing. But as calm as the enroute segment might be, we never truly relax, for just as strongly as we believe that a pilot's not done at age 60, we believe in capriciousness of the sky and know that every day brings a chance of facing something yet unseen, something not in that textbook or flight manual, that will pit out countenance against the red line of fate.

But there's the beauty- the quiet mornings as the sun peeks over the horizon on that early flight to the east coast, the beautiful surroundings of a fog draped landscape below. It's evocative and inspiring and sometimes, despite the early, early showtime, the joy of it all reaches out and grabs on to us. And despite the occasional bone weariness and the constant change of the job itself, the happiness takes hold. The happiness is like nothing else we experience, not even the wonderful sanctuary of family, and it grabs hold of us and shakes us like a playful puppy. And we can't imagine being anyplace else.

We are airmen.

As a group we are strong, driven, defying mortality tables of other professions, yet we head out to their semi annual physical with all the trepidation of the family pet headed off to the vet for the first time. We are fiercely individualist, yet bonded together, family people at home and aloft. We compete with good spirit, yet bond with courage, we celebrate our successes and mourn our fallen Gone West.

We know the smell of sweat and JP4, the campfire aroma of engine exhaust, the warning red of Skydrol and the blue of the sky over the Poles. We hear and see every little thing, from that imagined miss in an engine as we fly over the north Atlantic, to the banging, belching, manly fart of a Pratt and Whitney as we roar down the runway at full power.

We are reportedly overpaid but usually underpaid, entrusted with equipment worth millions. And lives. Entrusted with so many lives, in transport and protection. We're much less than gods and so much more than bus drivers. We're commuters and soldiers. We're husbands and wives; fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. We're friends whom others trust, whom our crew and payload trusts. And it's that trust that brings with it a reverent responsibility.
We are airmen.

We know the overwhelming beauty of a Pacific sky as the sun seeps into the deep purple horizon, and the pristine beauty of the sun's reemergence after a long Atlantic crossing. We've seen the fathomless jeweled blue of Crater Lake, and the twinkling glamour of Paris. We remember the sea of waving corn that is my home, Indiana, the winding road of the Mississippi and the perfect icy stillness that is Fairbanks in February. We'll not forget the monument that is McKinley, or the deep crack in our planet that is the Grand Canyon. We have seen the tiny blips of the satellites that help guide us, track across the vast gateway to heaven, we've felt the incalculable force of a thunderstorm on the Plains. We have worshipped at the alter of a sun stroked morning, prayed into the beauty of a dark velvet night, spun robes of clouds, the candlelight of dawn. We've shared Communion with God in the sanctity of the stratosphere.

We've danced along the northern lights, seen water spouts in clear air, banners of ash from an active volcano, horizontal rainstorms, microbursts of fury and St. Elmo's fire. We've seen things no one would believe, things only a pilot will experience and we're hooked on it, not for the pay and the glamour, as those elements of it, have, as well, changed. We're hooked because there is a reasoning beyond ego and beyond anything but that we need this freedom as an essential element of our being as we wake each day.

I wish that time, money and the weather would allow for a quick flight today, taking perhaps, a friend with me, aloft with the cool wind. And the solitude. The air. There is a solitude I can find no other place, one that wavers slow while I lean back against the leather seat and close my eyes for just a moment and breathe deep. Head thrown back I stick your hand out into air the temperature of a lover's soft breath, trailing my hand in the wind. Time strolls by like a day at the seashore until the sun melts into the horizon. All I have is the breeze, fresh air, to cool me quick so I can rest, to blow out of our eyes and my brain and my blood all that's making me hot and weary.

If we were able to take that flight today, we'd dip down towards my home, we could smell the scent of the land, reminding us of so many fields in the past, the smell fresh and green , a dense smell of grass as the sun sets upon it. The scent lifts off the landscape just as night covers the day, the signal that we're close to the ground, the strip straight ahead. The wheels would skip off the grass as the new moon glimmered upon us, solitary creatures riding the crest of cool night air, exhaling with the exhaust of the plane, ready to be home, to sleep cool dreams.

I am an airman. With dreams of the pilots that have gone before. Dreams of flights to share; to pass on the life of the sky that my Dad passed on to me.

- Brigid