Friday, August 31, 2012

Hoosier Family Traditions - Sugar Cream Pie

I wasn't born in Indiana, but my Grandma L. was. Her brother R. left Indiana as an adult, as did Grandma, to go to Montana for land to homestead. 

My uncle is buried out West. I try and visit his grave when I can.  He made a good life for himself, serving in World War I and coming home to the simple life of a farmer, homesteader.  He was 84 when he died, on his motorcycle. Not in a crash, but from his heart simply ceasing to beat as he raced down the road about a zillion miles an hour, a giant grin on his face. 84, an age others were in their rocking chairs. 

He had never married,  had no children. Dad said by the time he was ready to settle down, he was well into middle age and all the girls were long since married.  So he simply continued about his business, living a somewhat unconventional life to the hilt.
When he died no one stepped forward to bury him.  Grandma had passed, no one else in his immediate family would claim the black sheep of the family, but my Father did.

Dad never put "rules" on how someone should live for them to be family, heart and spirit was all that mattered. Dad remembered well the Uncle who gave him his first rifle at age 8, who told him stories about honor and battle, the man who lived the life he wanted to without apology, one of hard work and self sufficiency. So even though Dad had the bills of a young, growing family to pay, he paid to have Uncle R. brought to the nearest military cemetary for a burial with the consideration and respect he was due as a veteran, with family there to hear the taps.

I don't really remember him, I was too young.  I wish I did.  Dad said he'd have liked me, and I know I would have liked him. All I can do now is bring him a handful of sunflowers to be placed among all the many bare soldiers graves on this peaceful hillside.

I've been in Indiana a while, and  plan on building, from plans, my next and hopefully, final home up north in Amish country, close enough I can drive to visit friends in the cities near here and commute to work but far enough away that goblins won't raid the shop that will be bigger than my cottage. I love this state and I don't see myself leaving.

Besides, how could I leave a place where you can get a lifetime Concealed Carry Permit AND the State Pie is made of sugar and cream.

Yes, a State Pie, just as states have a State Flower (Peony)and a State Bird. After driving interstate 65 work I'd say the State Bird is the Orange Cone.

The Sugar Cream Pie -  the treat that's on almost every table at a potluck, the secret Hoosier Handshake, that simple dessert that everyone has a favorite recipe for.

The local origins likely lie with the Amish or Quaker families of Indiana who created it in pioneer days. It's popular in Pennsylvania  Dutch country and versions of it exist all over (such as the  Quebec Sugar Cream Pie). It's something the thrifty could make when the apple bin was empty with ingredients every farm kitchen had.  It's so popular that the Indiana Foodways Allaiance has even created a  a "Hoosier Pie Trail" with must-stop eateries for visitors looking to try their state pie and Indiana family owned Wick's Pies ships them to more than 25 states. 

The Range is not on the official pie trail, but we make a decent pie. There are many variations but they are all similar, you need cream, sugar and something to bind them together.  Some use flour, some use cornstarch.  Some mix the dry ingredients and liquids directly in the pastry with the fingers, some cook on the stove and finish both pie and crust in the oven.  A few are egg based, but those tend to be a little more temperamental.  This recipe uses no eggs.  Like anything made out in farm country, the secret is using the freshest ingredients possible.

Topped with  Cinnamon and/or freshly grated Nutmeg, it's even better on the second day.  So tomorrow, if anyone stops in off the trail, there will be pie (with only a tiny piece missing) on the table while we raise a toast to friends, family, and Uncle R.C..

Sugar Cream Pie on the Range

Single 9 inch pie crust recipe (the one on the sidebar for apple pie, readers have liked)
3/4 cup vanilla sugar*
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 cup whipping cream  
3 Tablespoons cornstarch 
1/2 cup sweet cream unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
grated fresh Nutmeg (you won't need a whole one).
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in the cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly., stirring constantly so it does not burn. Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a little grated nutmeg (I used a couple teaspoons of the butter and dotted it on the top before baking, but you don't have to). Bake at 325 degrees F about 30 minutes or until edge is bubbly and the piecrust is becoming golden.. Cool completely on a wire rack.  It will always be a bit jiggly but it will set up some as it cools. Serve at room temperature.
* to make vanilla sugar, place the following in an airtight container and let sit 8-14 days. 
- 1 vanilla bean, whole or scraped
- 2 cups granulated sugar 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Isaac - For My Readers In The Gulf

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob watch over you.
It's not as big as Katrina, but there is still great peril.  Be safe and know you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Brigid and Barkley

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tri-State Engine and Tractor Show - The Fun Continues

The Tri-State Engine and Tractor show is held every year in Portland, Indiana and continues to be the largest event of its kind in the world. I've gone to such tractor and railroad shows for years. The last two trips, I went with friends, which adds to the fun.  The road trip here is an event in itself, checking out the sights along the way and making quips about the other drivers and the passing landscape.

Watching a DeLorean go whizzing past: 

Me: (humming the theme song) "Go Speed Racer, Go"

From  the passenger seat, in Japanese accent - "make no extra movement, requires more frames, animation expensive!"

Looking for a place to make a rest stop:

 Me:  "There will be a gas station or a business along here soon.  Hey, there's a clothing store for women and plus sizes called Dress Barn"

From the passenger seat: "I think it would be best to avoid the word BARN in any association with plus size women's clothing."

Less than two hours from home, we're here!  Parking in the Jay County Fairground is free, and they have school buses to take you to the entrance.  There will be a lot of walking today, this would be a fun alternative. . .

 John Deere Go Cart by the front entrance.

It is going to be a scorcher.  Mr. B. has all kinds of extra water and I brought lots of sunscreen  (not being able to find those little tiles they use on the space shuttle which would probably work better for redheads). 
I had the kind with zinc oxide for my sensitive skin.  I apply it liberally, and then look at my friends and ask "too much?"
I hear back  "Next, on kabuki theater!" 
Oh well, at least with this and a hat, I shouldn't burn.  We start in the small engine section.
Moving onto lawn and garden tractors.  From the Hercules Gas Engine Co., Evansville, Ind. circa 1915
A beautiful little Bolens, maker of the first engine powered garden tractor
Just some of the scale projects that were on display.
Lots of interesting things everywhere.
Then there were tractors, all KINDS of tractors.

 There were even engine powered washing machines.  One (not this one) was branded "Easy" (yeah, right).
Most, equipped with an attached wringer, look like they could take off an arm easily.  But one thing we notice, there are not warning signs everywhere.  This place is loaded with things with teeth and moving parts and gears and all KINDS of scalding and burning potential.  I went into a bathroom in Northern Ireland once and they even had a "caution hot water" on the hot water faucet on the sink in the bathroom!  It's not much better in the US, with  warning notes telling you to remove the baby before folding up the stroller.
Here was  machinery in all it's mangling glory and everyone pretty much knows what is safe to touch or not, having the kind of intelligence that I wish to associate with -  "intelligence" meaning, the ability to sensibly cope with whatever environment you are thrust in, while retaining a measure of your own personal liberty and thought.  Roll out the hot steam engines and let Darwin take over, I say.
Though there is this little sign next to a very old "powered" saw.
What does is say on that paper?
But of course, there's always one in the crowd. . .
From the announcer's loudspeaker. "Folks I've seen 10,000 people here and I thought I'd seen everything but DO NOT drive your golf cart through the barn.  Do NOT drive motorized vehicles through the barns.
(Where signs aren't necessary, public humiliation WILL work.)
The show has all kinds of food for snacks and supper, but I packed tailgate food for a mid- morning light meal as our day started early and breakfast was a granola bar in the truck. There's spicy grilled chicken and tortillas to make wraps, all kinds of chopped veggies and two kinds of dressing, a spicy one, and a creamy one I made with cheese, peppercorn and caramelized onion.  There are grapes I bought fresh yesterday and cheeses and yummy cayenne almonds and cinnamon almonds (which Midwest Chick put in Mr. B's backpack before he left, yay!).  
After that, still more acres and acres of tractors and engines we haven't seen yet. There's also flea markets with antiques and crafts, hand crafted toys for the  kids, and things to interest a whole famil around the perimeter of the show.  Me - I just wanted to play with the engines.
I see a lot of folks in farm wear, as well as a large number of Amish and Mennonites, the ladies wearing beautifully crafted homemade dresses, the children all happy and well behaved.  The men in attendance look to be in their element, one and all, so many things to look at, to learn from and admire. These machines, if able to be hung on a wall, could be the epitaph of most of the men here. 
There are families and babies, and an occasional chair on which was marked "in memory of" the name of someone who had occupied that chair at many a farm gathering. Families are important, and we always miss those that by circumstance or death, remain far from us.
One thing we  notice though, there was NO litter.  No where.  I've noticed this, as well, at fairs in areas where the predominant industry is farming and small businesses.  But go to a fair in Lake County (blue state) and there's garbage on the ground everywhere.  It speaks to the type of people that attend this type of event, farmers, conservatives; workers; whether  poor, middle class or wealthy, all are cut from the same cloth.  Everyone here has a deep appreciation for taking care of things, a first hand experience of earning their own keep, of hard work and innovation. Some succeed ,and are properous, some, through fate, a bad choice or two, or nature, may not.  But all understand what went into their effort.  It's far removed from the "entitled" mindset that is taking over our country, don't work, someone will feed you, make a mess, someone else will clean it up.  It's definitely a refreshing change from what is seen in many public gatherings elsewhere..
In the afternoon there is big cups of iced tea and Sno Cones for all (one grape, one root beer and one blue raspberry please!)  As the temps are getting up into the 90's we are happy to give some of our money to the service groups that are providing food and refreshments here (including some amazing breaded tenderloins and other meats you could purchase by the case to take home).
But there is respite from the sun for a bit in the covered grandstand for a parade of antique fire engines and  all kinds of tractors.  We sit in anticipation while they line up to drive by the stands where their ownership and history would be announced.
We can't t tell what will come into view first, the machines stirring up a cloud of dust that is both portent and promise. But oh we can hear them, moving noisily and steadily, but not quickly, onto the track, the future, our past, the mechanised, mobilized unavoidable destiny that was, that is America.
As the machines move into view, several kids are perched up on Dad or Grandpa's lap "helping" to steer, another generation.  I hope that they  will come to appreciate this little piece of our history. We did chuckle at one young man, late teens I'd say, who has his beautiful young gal friend perched up on the edge of the  tractor, balancing herself in a pair of Daisy Duke shorts and a little shirt, flashing the hair and smile at the crowd like a beauty queen.
"Hope the Tractor Muffin doesn't fall off" was all I can say, but the men appreciate the ornamental features of that particular tractor. 
I remember this next one from last year.  Beautiful.
There are firetrucks as well.  I knew my good friend PA State Cop would appreciate this.
After that, there is still more acres and acres of tractors and engines and some working threshers to explore.
 After the day ends and before everyone heads out to start their work week, there are old fashioned board games to be played (this board, a $2 find at the thrift shop along with some model railroad magazines that were in immaculate condition). 
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Teach a man to play cribbage and a week later he is taking the board and running with it.
For those of you that play, you understand the significance of the skunk, which made his appearance after my first game of the evening. ( something from my cribbage playing family out West). 

But losing or winning, some of the best fun in the world is the old fashioned kind. 
If you live anywhere near farm country and you've not taken in such an event as the Tri-State Engine and Tractor Show and have any kind of interest in engineering, history, antiques or machinery, you should go.  Go, listen to the throated growl of a tractor, the labored chuffing that is a working steam engine, the whistle that is both challenge and release, before they're gone, taking with them the last echo of a young nation's fire and promise.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tractors and Wheel Guns - Childhood Memories

Mom can I go to Thunder Ranch instead of Girl Scout Camp when I get bigger???

Good Lord, I'm probably about 3  here, and what's with the Jack LaLanne plaid jumpsuit?  My family is there in the background with conservative attire (including suspenders), well dressed and keeping a safe distance. "SHE HAS NO GRIP OR MUZZLE CONTROL - STAY BACK"

If you are  reading this, I've rolled in from the Tri State Tractor and Engine Fest after a long weekend, making it back to  town in time to pick up Barkley at the doggie day camp before they closed. (All my friends who normally watch him were either at the Gas Engine Fest or the  IND Gun Show).

It was a great weekend.  Mr. B. made the drive down, though Midwest Chick had to work and couldn't make it (we missed you).  His company and knowledge of historical machinery always makes for a great addition to the group. The camera got passed around, so there were lots of shots.

As it was last year, it was quite hot, (definitely t shirt and denim shorts weather) and the crowd was big, the event, the largest of its kind in the country.  This year, Mr. B. brought walkie talkies, so we didn't get separated. (you have to watch it, one minute you've got a redhead in the group, the next you hear "mmm, SNO CONE . . .  and she disappears).

We had some fun with the walkie talkies especially after we figured several others were using the same frequency.

"The subject is in sight.  Team Six, go to the left."

"We'll do the exchange by the 110 pound bucket of lard, make sure the bills are unmarked."

"go left, no really, go left".

There will be photos tomorrow.

 I am  sorry to have missed the IND gun show and the Indy BlogMeet! with Tam and Roberta X  and the rest of the Indy gang. But the Tri State show is just too much fun to miss, especially when it's just once a year.

A day of steam, machinery, tractors and antique fire engines, all  those little things that take you back to your childhood and days gone by. Good days.  Good people.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leatherbound- Gun Bloggers Rendezvous and a Ruger

Going to Gun Bloggers Rendezvous?

Engineering Johnson  has a post up with some great GBR news and the story behind it.  Ruger has very generously donated a very dandy wheel gun, the Single Ten, to the GBR fund raising raffle.

If you haven't sent in your registration, get thee to Gunbloggers and send it in now. If you participate in the raffle you'll be helping Project Valour-IT and you might just get a Single Ten as your reward!

If you're really lucky, you might also get a donated hand crafted gun belt to go with it. (It's not finished in these first two  photos, taken a couple weeks ago, but it's going to be a dandy when it's all done.)

I've never watched anyone make a belt and holster from raw materials before. There was the pattern, an expanse of leather, some Fieblings dye and some tools.  He'd never tried it before, but he had the tools, and he wanted to do something for the fundraise.

 One evening, when I'm in the study writing sonnets of butterflies, kittens and violets (OK, I was online looking at a new Dillon press and bacon porn),  there comes this WHACK! from the other room.  Barkley jumped up and woofed.  WHACK!  Another woof.  It sounded like a pile driver.  Ahh, so THAT's how the letters are put on there, stamps and brute force.  Cool! 

I wish I was going to GBR for all the fun and fund raising.  But vacation was spent with my Dad,and I won't have any extra days off til, well, it's time to spend more time with him. Every day is precious, and sometimes doing a little something, be it a donation of your labor, your time or your heart for a good reason, makes it all worth it.  If you can work in a Ruger wheel gun in there, even better.

Go check out EJ's post on the firearm and then go show some appreciation to the folks over at Ruger for making this all  possible!  (Lori, you're the best!)

Update: There is still a little stiching work to be done but it's 80% finished -

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Do I Look Like a Home Defense System?

A couple weeks ago there was a home invasion not too far from Mr. B. and MidWest Chick.  Mr. B. writes of it in his post titled 1 mile from my home  A trusting older woman, someone's grandmother, living in a nice area out in the country, opened the door to a young man who did not look out of place, asking for help because his car had broken down.  He and his accomplices, who had been tipped as to the fact there were guns in a safe and money, came in, beat her badly and robbed her.  A quiet day, a small town, everyone thinks it won't happen to them. 

You've all probably saw those old ads on TV showing the guy in the hooded sweatshirt stalking some woman coming home from the store and trying to get into the house. The alarm goes off. The security company is on the phone with her in about one nano-second, assuring her the police are on the way as the would be-rapist runs away like a little girl. Thank you Acme Security Company!

Another one, some young babe wearing small bits of spandex is exercising on her treadmill which is set up in her living room, next to the front door, in front of the open window (sure, that's how I exercise). Shifty looking guys dressed all in black, including the" Spenser for Hire" dark colored watch caps, scurry in front of the window, leering at her. Then, the front door is kicked in. With one kick,  no less, instantly setting off the alarm, out they run.. Thank you Acme Security! It's a nice idea, but no security device is going to work well if it doesn't have brain-equipped users linked to it and police VERY close by to respond to the call.  It can be a deterrent but not a guarantee. For folks with no other methods of protection, it can be a false sense of security.

Even if the alarm company immediately alerts the police (one time a dog walker sent mine off by accident, they never did show up, probably never called), it could be 15-30 minutes or more before they are there.  In that time the criminals could have cleared out any jewelry and electronics I had, stolen all my Terry Pratchett books, raped the yard gnomes and drank milk directly out of the container in the fridge.

The commercials make me laugh. But not at the home invasion scenario. It's very real. According to a Department of Justice report, 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during home invasions. According to that same report, 1 of every 5 homes will experience a break-in or home invasion. That's over 2,000,000 homes.

The kick in the door scenario does happen, though with the door I have, it would take a whole lot more than one kick from a guy wearing black sweatpants. Charging through the front door, or coming in through the garage, which you left open, is one way. But frankly, hot burglaries usually start with knock at the front door. Do you know how many people will simply open their door to a knock? The criminal may not strike that time, but simply assess your home AND you, pretend to have the wrong house and leave. Have nice things in plain sight? Check! Look small and or helpless? Check!

The humorous 2nd amendment sign notwithstanding, I don't advertise that I have guns, so not to be burgled for them. I do keep burglar alarm signs and stickers up in likely entry points. But they don't have to worry about the alarm, if it's off and you just open your front door.

Common Scenarios include-

*A uniformed individual tells you that they are in the area checking for a gas leak,or a problem with cable or utilities and asks to check out your property. Do you have any idea how easy it is to buy a uniform and make an ID on a computer?

*A uniformed individual informs you that they have a delivery of some sort, usually flowers, telegram or a package.

Knock Knock! MAMMO-GRAM!

Knock Knock! LAND SHARK!

*The individual informs you that they are collecting for a charity or some other good cause.

*A stranger claims to be in some kind of distress and asks if he or she can use your phone or your washroom. That is oh, so common. The person looks ordinary, you are trusting and feel sorry for them. You open the door. Even if I have a pocket pistol on me, I am STILL not going to open the door, I'd simply offer to call the number of their choice from inside and the police for assistance.

The attack can be swift and violent. Home invaders often come prepared with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, knives or firearms  Home invasions aren't "we're going to burgle and empty house and surprise, there are people".  They plan it when you are there, inflicting violence on you being part of the fun.. Think they'll let you be if you are docile? Think again. Many in-home robbers ENJOY the intimidation, domination, and violence and some even claimed during trial (for the rape and manslaughter that ensued) that it was a "rush."

There are some common sense measures of protection -

*Keep a bright porch light on at all times after dark (try for 100 foot visibility on outdoor lighting).

*Install outdoor motion sensor lighting in the parts of the house that may be breached out of sight from the street. Hide it, so it's not obvious, and easily disabled.

*Look at your windows, some are so cheap they can be lifted out of the frame with a couple of tools, even if locked.  There's info on line on beefing up windows, money well spent.

*Get to know your neighbors (unless they have 3 wrecked cars in their yard, two pit bulls and a "my other car is a meth lab" bumper sticker).  One neighbor is a police officer, I let him know when I am leaving for any period of time and if (and who) will be house/dog sitting, the other a retired military officer, and educator. Both know that if the dog is barking for no reason (squirrel in yard) or there is anyone at the porch they don't recognize as a regular visitor, to check on the place.  I do the same for them.

*Do NOT open the door for any reason if you don't recognize the person. All legitimate repairmen and delivery people carry identification cards with photos and are instructed to show it to you. If you weren't expecting them, call the company to verify the visit while they wait outside the locked door.

*Install solid core doors, with heavy duty locks. Use four three-inch screws to secure heavy duty lock strike pates in the door frame. A good solid entrance door, preferably a steel commercial door and frame (like the ugly gray ones you see on industrial buildings) is a very good way to slow down entrance. A similar door with dead bolt for the bedroom door is useful too. It buys more time- wake up with an assailant or four standing over your bed and this really sinks in deep. (Yes, they can be made pretty with wood veneer, both the doors and the assailants, for the goblins the wood veneer is usually an inch thick and about 2' x 2' x 6'.)

Remember though, the door isn't generally the weak point when someone is trying to force their way in. The part that generally fails is the door frame where the lock penetrates.

There is a fix to this that's neither difficult or expensive.  Normally, all of the force of the dead bolt is only applied to the wood directly behind the hole. If you carve out a slot in the frame behind the deadbolt that runs 5 or 6 inches above and below the deadbolt, and then screw in a strip of metal, you spread that force out over a much larger portion of the door frame.

Lock all doors, windows, and garages at all times. I don't reload in the garage with the door open with my back to it.  I don't care how nice it is or how many kids are out riding their bikes around the neighborhood.

I won't even talk about these new cheaply constructed family homes in subdivisions made out of vinyl siding, a few beams , some insulationand drywall.  Frankly, you could break into mmost of those with a good knife.  Physical security of the structure is important.  If the structure is open to easy penetration you better have some back up warning system, be it motion, dog or whatever, that something is afoot.


*Keep windows clear but if you do have a few plants, make sure they are the small ,very spiny variety to make access difficult and hiding about impossible.  If you have a home alarm, don't forget to wire the windows, it's not always the door they come through..

*Use a secondary blocking device (a simple piece of wood will do) on all sliding patio doors and windows.

*Set the home perimeter alarm at night, if you have one.

Lock your door to the garage at all times.. I could jimmy a garage door open if I had to.  It's not that hard.

*If you have a family, have a security meeting. I can't stress this enough. Make sure your children are aware of the dangers of opening the door to people they don't know, even if "Mommy's or Daddy's in the next room". If someone does get in, have a plan as a family. Have a code word for the young ones or unarmed that means "heads up for danger and run". 

Effective personal defense responsibility is a learned behavior.  It should be core curriculum for all children.  Sadly, too often, the weakest link of a home security system is the habits of occupants

Now that you have the basics down, some more hints to keep you safe.

Gas , telephone, electricity and cable lines are checked from outside, not inside the home. If the person claims that they are there to enter your home for a utility or cable company and/or you are suspicious of the credentials they present (holding them up to your window) do not open the door and phone the company for confirmation. If the service is such that they do need to come in (installation, etc), and you are a female living alone, call a friend over to hang out with you when you set up the appointment.  I've had big burly shooty friends BE the person in the house when the service person arrived so no one knows I live alone. That's not being helpless, that's being smart.

Most delivery men will agree to leave a package outside your door. If they demand that you sign a form, you can call call the company and confirm that you are about to be in receipt of a package. If it's my neighborhood FedEx or UPS guy with the very recognizable truck, I tell them I will meet them at the truck, and will sign it out there. They don't mind, especially as I usually bring them out a cold water or fresh coffee and a cookie (I've relied a lot on delivery in rural areas).

In the situations where you are being asked for charity or assistance, use your most conservative judgment. Be especially careful if you see a large van or truck nearby, that may be there to load up your household goods after they've made entry.  I ask solicitors to leave a brochure, anyone else I would offer to call the police or family for them.  Do NOT open the door if you don't know them, male or female, for any reason.

The points here? If you open the door, your alarm is likely OFF. What are you going to do if the person just barges in? Think about it.

A alarm won't save you then.

I have a large barking dog, I intend to make all the noise I can, and I have a weapon where I can get at it. Firearms have been used many times to successfully defend a family from home invasion (though you rarely hear about it in the media) and can provide a means of self-defense in a life-threatening situation.

But you need to be able to get to it quickly. You literally have seconds once your home has been breached. Often handguns are kept unloaded or locked up to prevent children from getting their hands on them. Chemical sprays may be in a cabinet in the next room. You may not have time to get to them before being hurt yourself. I have a gun handy, and I mean HANDY.  Normally it is on me, I carry in the garage, I carry in the yard. I've sat up late on the computer writing with a snub nosed special in my jammies or robe pocket more often than not. I've worn a holster late at night enjoying a mug of tea that had more material than what I was actually wearing. Carry.  I have a couple guns in places you wouldn't expect, some knives tucked away, and most rooms have a chemical fire extinguisher (older home, funky wiring).

No gun, not going to have one? Chemical fire extinguishers can be a great little disorienting tactic til you can get out the door.

Think. Plan. That Bersa in the range bag in the back of the closet behind your skis isn't going to help you. YOU are going to help you. Knowing yourself, running a scenario, planning, you are more likely to keep your head. How you react depends on so many things other than the obvious, sex age, health. It's personality, culture, survival skills. How you react under extreme pressure, any special training skills and past experiences can save you. 

I've had survival training few women of my generation have.  My friends are, with few exceptions,  are serious shooters, many law enforcement or former special ops. It's a mind set I'm attracted to, that I learn from. Yes, I cry at happy endings in zombie movies but when the things get difficult I can be as tough. I've had to be. Survival isn't of the strongest, it's those who keep their head, breaking down what they need to do into the most elemental things. Clausewitz said "Everything in war is very simple. But the simplest thing is difficult." I remember that, and practice the simple things.

Some women say I'm crazy to keep a gun in my home. "He'll just take it away from you", I hear. One lady said, "I have a cell phone and a stick, I'll use that". That's your choice. You have that choice, in which you abrogate the ancient balances of hunter and hunter. You won't even be that afraid, there in that first moment, propelled by your unerring belief that you are just too good to be a victim, too smart, by god you vote for snappy dressers and drive a Lexus. Then as you look into the eyes of something only those of us who hunt predators have seen, you will know the moment when fear takes you completely. Skin, blood, bones, all will fill with it, memories of childhood innocence, memory of pride, all gone. Nothing left but the fear seeping into every cell. As you wet yourself, your last coherent thought will be sound of pleas for your life as your hands are bound and some thug with gang tattoos drags your 13 year old off to the back room.

Myself. I'll take my gun and take my chances. Call me a gun nut, call me right wing extremist. But I will hold on to that polished lucidity that differs me from the predator. A sense of morality, the power of faith and will, and John Moses Browning. I will protect my life and those I love, or I will die trying.

But having a gun in the home for protection does no good if you are not proficient with it; if you are down with a knife wound and your spouse doesn't know how to fire that Ruger revolver. If ammo is costly for practice, use a .22. for practice.  Just keep the basic hand/eye skills up. You need to be proficient even if you are frozen with fear, your hands blue, your blood slowed. You may only have one shot.

Sure it's easy to go to the range in the warm air, birds chirping and sun shining, but that's not when you will be firing. It may be low light, your adrenalin will be pumping, you may be shooting with something other than your regular hand, due to an injury. Are you going to use your weapon like you train, in cold and in heat, snow and in wind, left hand, right hand? Or are you going to stand there shaking, holding the useless gun you know you are not going to be able to fire, not now, not ever, tasting in your saliva that brass aftertaste of fear. Fear that is a dinner bell to the hungry predator.

I'm not an expert, but I can guarantee that hand will NOT be shaking should I have to pull a trigger on someone in my home threatening to cut me, rape me, kill me. What about you? You will not know how you will react to a personal crises, but you can PREPARE.

The fact that you've read this long winded post means you've thought about it. What would you do? Activate an alarm, fight, run, grab your weapon, send a guest or family member out the back to run for help while you fight from within? You better think about it now because the 60 seconds you might be lucky to get, is not going to be time to plan it out.

For your alarm system may be asleep.

We All Bleed Red - Give the Gift of Life

On the side of one of my gun cases is a sticker of a pint of blood

Some people casually look at it, some don't notice. It's from the Indiana Bloodcenter. I'm not a fan of needles.  I bore my childhood shots without a lot of screaming fits (which, flat out, wheren't tolerated by my Mom).  But I'd have tears on my face.

But as an adult, I had to have some more shots to protect me against some really icky things I might get in certain "work" areas.This was before Partner in Grime and I were more than friends.  I went with two former Marines, Special Forces, guys I worked with. We lined up, for what would be a series of shots. there was no privacy.

The nurse stops, looks at  me and says "could you be pregnant?"

I looked at her in the eye and said "NO" (my lifestyle, Old Fashioned or otherwise, was no one's business)  "I'm forty (mumble mumble) ".

She said "could happen, are you SURE you aren't pregnant".

My team mates, all 500 pounds of them are trying not to giggle like second graders.

I said "Trust me, I'm not. 

Further intrusive (look, this was a "employer" medical place, not my HMO)  she said"

"What form of birth control are you using?"

I replied, deadpan:

"Nudity, seems to be working."

The guys lost it.

But I hate getting stuck with a needle. 

I also donate regularly to the blood bank, including today.  Why?

My Dad was a volunteer for the Red Cross.  He gave gallons of blood over his lifetime, having a particularly rare type.  When he was too old to give due to health reasons, he volunteered to drive the blood from the blood drives in our tiny town, in special coolers to the big city, a 2 plus hour trip.  He got paid a little per diem, enough to cover gas, but the time and wear on his vehicle was his.  He did it for years, until he quit driving except to the store and church.

Another reason?  I have O positive.  I'm  a mixture of Scot/Irish (usually O), Scandahoovian (usually not O) and Cree (almost always O).  O-can be given to any blood type.  But if you HAVE O of any type, that's all you can take, anything else and you are toast, the others have some leeway.   So the blood banks usually call me when they get low on O.

I'd not given for a while, having had 2 surgies in 13 months.  Neither were such that I lost blood, but two that close together, I was a bit run down.

But it was time to donate again.

If you never have, consider it.  It  doesn't really hurt.  Getting pricked by a thorn in your garden hurts ten times worse.  Trained nurses can get that needle in with no more than a little pinch.  The draw process doesn't hurt at all, I just lay back, happy to have my feet up and chat at the nurse. He or she is your captive audience, tell them about when you were the star football player in the 70's, bring out the grandbaby photos, they are just sincerely happy you are there. 

Before you start, you will have to fill out a confidential questionnaire to ensure you haven't been somewhere or with someone that could put you at risk for certain diseases. (No, I have not played naked Twister in Tobongo recently and wasn't a fry cook at a burger place in the U.K. in the 90's.)  Once that's done, they check your blood pressure and hemoglobin (I was 15.1, a good number). The donation itself takes about 10 minutes plus 10 minutes to sit and have a cold drink and munch the free cookies and other snacks. A few days after your donation, you can also log onto their website and get your blood type and cholesterol numbers, all for free!

Then go home, none the worse for wear but a small bandage, knowing that blood you gave might literally save someone's life.