Sunday, November 30, 2014
"Most civilization is based on cowardice. It's so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which would lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame. -The Stolen Journals - God Emperor of DUNE
My Dad's a fighter, and I try and remember to tell him I'm proud of him. For the life he lead after the war, not just during. A Golden Glove boxer, a career soldier and military police officer, he was a true defender of home and family. 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. Like my father and my mother, herself a law enforcement officer, the fight is in my blood. They adopted me late in their life, so the blood that flows is that of what was taught, not that which was carried, even more important as I make my way in a world that grows less safe with each breath.
My parents didn't differentiate between son or daughter when it came to teaching us the basics to survive, and just like my brothers I was equipped with an immutable sense of who I was and what type of life I wanted and a fairly clear understanding of what would be required to obtain and protect it. It doesn't matter if you are male or female, the will to fight is either there or it isn't. That is why, like my parents before me, I support the Second Amendment. For it has prepared me for what life may throw my way, horizons that tilt and change, full of challenges.
I have no regrets for this life I lead, no apologies in what I do, have done, to be true to myself, to my family's legacy, for that is how I was raised. To be someone who knew that to live my life any other way, than what I have, would be to ignore my soul's natural response to living. I live as I must and I love who I do. To do otherwise might mean growing old in oblivious quiet, but it would be with regret.
That life includes fireararms. They are legally obtained and I train to proficiency with them. They are cared for and respected. They are my tools, they are my protection. They are not instruments of death, but only of safety, the flesh and bone that directs them principled by law and order, rather than calculated violatione, their possession inherent with the capacity to maintain the law, not break it.
So today, I ready my bag for a trip to the local range, to practice those skills which enable my independence. Live your life to the fullest and fight for your dreams my Dad always told me. Words I agree with, especially when I traded in a lucrative career for this one, in which I hold true to myself, making small efforts to make the world a safer place. Better a belated and streaming dawn than a life lived in twilight, I say to myself as I look in the mirror, range bag in hand. A bag overstuffed with equipment, paper, stapler, targets, ammo and weaponry. The provisions of someone prepared for life. I look forward to these days, revel in them, if only for a few hours of feeling the strength in my hands, my will in action, striding towards the target after the magazine is empty, a day full of things hinted but not yet seen, life viewed through a haze of smokey freedom.
Today - I am not soldier. I am not an army. I am simply the Second Amendment, the outdoor ranges and the fields of my world where I am most at home. I know the smell of black powder on a jumbled path across the Rocky Mountains, the convoluted jig of waters that flow through the Cascades that I follow to my camp site. I know the mountains of the West and the deep ache of muscles that carried my hunting gear into God's country, seeking sustenance, rifle to my shoulder, eyes focused on the source of my strength. I have worshiped at the altar of a sun stroked morning, prayed into the beauty of a dark velvet night, spun robes of clouds, the candlelight of dawn, the church of the woods in which set up camp. I've shared Communion with my God in the sanctity of a stand of trees, my cup a blessing of the bounty of the land, my rifle the power to keep my family fed during times of lean.
I am the Second Amendment. I know the long lines of a gun show and have strolled, walked and ran full tilt, the length of a conference center packed with those like myself. I have politely pushed through an obstacle course of displays at some Big Box Mart for the last remaining box of Winchester White Box, and reveled in the wonder of a small family owned gun store, shelves full of the unique. I know the value of thrift, and the thrift of survival. I know the new gun smell more than the new car smell. I delight in the perfect clarity of fresh bluing and the late night whoosh of a Dillon press in full swing. I look forward to the perfect sky of a morning range and remember as well, the ice slicked ladder that led up to a blind, from where I sat in wonder and wait, for a single whitetail that would feed both my need and my family.
My Dad's generation of shooters began with blackpowder and the eyes of a hawk. Though I have been trained in sniper scopes and all manner of high tech weaponry, we both understand the history of it all, and the responsibility, the complacency that could end our day on an uncorrectable note of finality. His generation, and now mine, speak as if old friends, of the Ruger and the Winchester and the early days of Browning and Colt. We still recall with youthful pride, the rumbling thunder that was our first lever action. We reminisce of the vast landscapes of the open prairie, shotgun in hand, bird dog by our side and that snug little sports car like feel of that little .40 we bought as our back up.
It is the language of my father's generation and it is my own. It's a language handed down from generation to generation and only slightly understood by our non shooting partners. We banter about bore and brass, half-jacket to hangfire, pattern and parallax. But when it's time for the shot, the range quiets and the concentration is almost tactile. For though we have tasted the insulation of our armor, we know too well the adrenalin surge of danger. We respect the power of our weapon and we know what it means to fight for grip, for stance, for what we believe in, and that is the uncommon faith in what we can do with our freedoms. We laugh and we joke, but we just as strongly believe in the capriciousness of life, of the indifference of humanity, and that every day brings the chance of facing something yet unseen, and lethal. Something more dangerous than a paper target or small horned animal, that will pit our countenance against a world without safeties.
I am the Second Amendment. I relish the the quiet mornings as the sun peeks over the horizon as I make my way to my blind, the beautiful surroundings of a fog draped landscape below as I climb into it. It's evocative and inspiring and sometimes, despite the early, early showtime, the beauty of it all reaches out and grabs me. And in spite of the occasional bone weariness of the early hours, the freedom takes hold and shakes me like a playful puppy. I can't imagine being anyplace else but here in these woods, with my Dad's old Browning in my lap.
I know the overwhelming beauty of a Plains sky from a small ground blind as the sun seeps into the deep purple horizon and the pristine beauty of the sun's settling after a long day. I know the sea of waving corn that is my home, the winding roads of a farm deep in pheasant country and the perfect icy stillness that is a winter morning during first day of whitetail season. I know the bright traces of Orion and the tiny blips of satellites that guide me in the night as I find my way home, my 20 gauge at my side. I've felt the incalculable force of a thunderstorm's rain as I tried to keep my powder dry and the tears that tracked my face, leaving rivulets as if on earth, as we laid a fellow hunter to rest beneath his favorite tree.
I am the Second Amendment. Not to use my weapon to take something I did not earn but to save something that I did. That, for reasoning beyond ego and beyond anything, being something I need; this freedom as an essential element of my being. I am granted this liberty by one that came long before any government, the right granted by God to provide and protect and save. A right I embrace with pride.
Like those that have gone before me, I am strong and driven, law abiding, yet free. I am fiercely individualist, yet connected with my brothers and sisters in arms, family people at home and in the field. I compete with good spirit, yet bond with courage. I celebrate our successes and mourn our fallen. I am your friend or your neighbor. I am your father, your mother, your sister. I am charged with a reverent responsibility and I never forget it, nor should you.
I am the Second Amendment, as were all of my family, the fight in us strong.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
So today, there needed to be some serious housekeeping. But first, after the kitchen was scrubbed to where surgery could be performed in it, a pork roast was seared and then went into cockput with onion/sage gravy and some handcrafted pierogis stuffed with mashed potatoes and cabbage that I get from the little Polish deli in the Village. That way, when he rolls in there will be dinner.Oh, (#)@. There's only one beer, and there's two of us--best cook extra pierogis and wear something low cut, maybe he won't notice.
Then it was time to clean.
That done, time to I pick up before vacuuming the oriental guns (that was supposed to be rugs - that's a subliminal typo but you know what I would rather have been doing than vacuuming)
You don't be vacuuming up my Angry Birds!
But it wasn't only canning, and cooking and cleaning in this Range family. No, this is an old fashioned house. There was also some sewing.
You all have a safe and sane Saturday, I'm going to enjoy a night off, in my own bed, and pancakes in the morning with my husband. Because. for some strange reason - I'm kind of tired.
"Sure. . . . 'Abby - pancakes are bad for dogs.' You go on telling yourself that."
Thursday, November 27, 2014
I've volunteered for much of the last 20 years--for the homeless, for the battered, and lately for the unwanted animals.
Man's cruelty to his fellow man is legend, but what people do to an animal that just wants to love them is heartbreaking.. I wrote The Book of Barkley to honor the stories of my best dog ever and my brother, who both died from cancer within weeks of each other. I thought it would be a good thing, remembering their stories,of childhood, of coming into adulthood, of the awareness of our mortality and how we dealt with it with faith, while renewing a relationship with a God we'd sort of left behind. But I couldn't help, being human, of thinking of all of the extra income from being a famous "writer" that could help with my Dad's nursing expenses (insert abrupt reality of what most writers make here and sound of crickets from much of the public, entranced by werewolves and spaceships and vampires).
And then things changed. I got out and interacted with rescue groups as I adopted Abby and realized-- Barkley would't care if his Mom had a new truck, he'd want to help other dogs.
So, all of the proceeds of TBOB are being donated to animal rescue. In the big scheme of things, not big money, only a couple thousand since July, spread out to a dozen or so organizations. But every dollar counts, and as Barkley's story spread, more people will provide more donations with their purchases as the book is slowly discovered by those sharing it with their dog loving friends.
You said there'd be a slide. . .
Please take a moment and click on these words: Peanut's Promise.
This group, up in the Windy City, not far from where we live, is doing incredible things, their latest project--rescuing Labrador Retrievers who have lived solely to breed purebred puppies, with bad food, harsh elements outside 24/7, little, if any medical care, and no love or affection. Some had no more than a depression on the ground to sleep in. When they get sick, or old, or barren, they are discarded. In this case the breeder is giving them up, a blessing for them, but a lot of work for the volunteers with that many dogs, all neglected, coming in at once. I am just one tiny little part of that effort, but I wanted to help and spread the word.
Because it broke my heart to see it.
Because every Lab should have a home where he's a family member, as loved as the two-legged ones.
So, for Black Dog Friday Weekend The Book of Barkley is only $2.99 on Kindle and only $4.99 through Christmas and New Years. ALL of the proceeds, Kindle and paperback, are going to Peanut's Promise. You can gift it to someone with just an email address and a date you want them to get it and if they don't have a Kindle device there's a free app to read it on your laptop that's available to them when they claim it.
The book is also in the Amazon MatchBook Program so if you buy the paperback, the Kindle is less than a buck. All of the proceeds through New Years, big or small, is going to support this group of wonderful volunteers, part of Lab Rescue and Adoption Wisconsin and Illinois, and the dogs they are trying to save. You can also sponsor a dog - this is Juno who I am sponsoring through the adoption process to offset the costs of treatment and care until she's adopted by a lucky family. She's responding well to the care and love, gently taking a treat from one of the volunteers in her most recent photo.
On this Thanksgiving Day, give a little back to those that are thankful for the smallest thing. If you don't wish a copy of a book, and want to help, please donate to them directly. If money is tight, and I know it is for many of you, simply share their story with a link on your blog or Facebook to this post or their site or go to their site for a twitter feed.
Happy Thanksgiving, All of You. Abby and I are on our own, ready to go on duty while Partner is with is family, thankful to be able to help in the small ways we can. - Brigid
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
On a plus side, I've learned one good thing through this tough year: who my friends really are. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I had a busy week as well, but not so busy that I couldn't heat up a home cooked meal when he rolled in.
And for breakfast the next morning I said "Popovers?" and he shyly said "if it's not too much trouble" which is husband speak for "hurry, hurry make them now!" I keep a popover pan at the crash pad, but it had not been used in a while.
Popovers Crisp on the outside, soft with soft, rich almost custard-like interior, with layers of goodness, they're worth a little extra trouble. I'd recommend a popover pan for the height and crispness but you can make these in a muffin pan.
On I-65 Northbound, I'd prefer four wheel drive and dual flame throwers, but a full stomach will do.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Abby had been in foster care only a week when we met, with a very loving lady and her husband, but the scars from time in a shelter showed in her eyes. She was lucky - black dogs are the last adopted and the first euthanized in shelters. She was rescued just hours from death by the wonderful people at Love of Labs Indiana who drove hours and hours to transport her. They got her started on the heartworm treatment that was necessary to keep her alive, then worked to find her a loving home when she was well enough from that treatment to be adopted.
This photo was taken when she first showed up at the crash pad. She had been fed well and groomed carefully by the rescue folks but she was still thin from the heartworm treatment, scared at being someplace "strange" again and not even excited to get a treat.
Here she is now (and that tail is about ready to go into mach tuck)
Plus, it has made me happy to be able to donate all of the proceeds from the Book of Barkley to a number of organizations, including Love of Labs Indiana, Westside German Shepherd Rescue, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue, Midwest Labrador Retriever Rescue, For the Love of Labs Rescue, Central Florida Weimaraner & Dog Rescue, Angels Among Us Animal Rescue, Willy's Happy Endings and the local humane societies of friends and family. It has been great to meet and great some of them, provide donations and autographed books for auctions and just share our stories. Barkley's story was not about me, or about money, it was about spreading a message of love and faith and hope.
If you are considering a dog or cat for your home, please consider adoption of a rescue dog - there are so many wonderful souls out there just waiting to be rescued.
Friday, November 21, 2014
THOSE OF YOU FOR WHOM I HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS - ATTENTION!
I sent a half dozen of you some Barkley on Kindle last night or the night before while the price was reduced as an early Merry Christmas. I then realized, your email might send them to SPAM. So - if any of you and I communicate through my brigid email address - please go check your SPAM filter for something from Amazon so you don't miss out as a few of you got an early Christmas gift (the rest of you I'm still working on punching the air holes in the box before I package up your "gift").
Until later my friends, I leave you with some photos of Dad's last trip (literally, not just figuratively) to the Oregon Coast where we spent much of our childhood at a very humble vacation cottage we kept there.
With it being mid week and during school, it was a small group but it was a tight group. My cousin L (with whom Dad spent the summer) and her Partner K., and Big Bro's beloved only daughter and her daughter (her husband, a former submariner was working and wasn't able to make it) and Partner and I.
I remember once as a kid the tide went out so far we could drive a car around the backside of Haystack. Cars aren't allowed now, but 45 years ago, this beach was almost deserted but for the locals and the occasion moron that drove his car into the incoming tide and got stuck and watched it get covered with salt water. Still everyone morning, before it was even light, Bro and I would head out to the rock to check out the tide pools, not disturbing anything, just taking in the wonders of the natural world.
We'd throw some of them back in the water, the tide moving as fast and as slow as life itself, even as we ourselves could not sense that momentum, believing that it would always be like this. All that distance between ourselves and the future, it was not even a thought in that long peaceful creep of a childhood afternoon.
TV was not allowed at the cabin and we'd play outside unless it was raining hard enough to drown a duck, coming in only for lunch (and once to catch Dad watching football - busted!). We played, racing around rocks, trees and water until supper, when we'd come in to Mom, to fresh baked cheddar garlic bread and fresh caught fish. We'd bound in and she'd take us in, in arms that smelled of flour, her auburn hair scented with Wind Song perfume, her laughter a balm to any skinned knee that might have occurred during the days warfare. We ran until we couldn't take in a breath. We drove our feet deep into the sand, as if imprinting it forever. We conquered the waves on skim boards, shooting across the wet sand with nothing more than the physics of motion and an inch of water, getting a sensation of movement of air and water, that never left either of us.
I didn't mean we were ALL serious. There was these seagulls, and off to the left, one solitary seagull Partner asked why he wasn't joining and I said "he is just waiting for his tern". Laughing is good, even at really bad puns.
Time for some games as another shower comes through.
I got some "sea foam" candy and a HUGE bag of their incredible salt water taffy for my great niece and Monkeywrangler's kids.
So many meals at this place, in good times and in bad, as children, even during a time my Mom was battling cancer. She may have been too weak some days to get out of bed, but we were there, with Dad cooking pancakes that were so bad that the dog took them out and buried them and the one I threw in the fireplace wouldn't burn. Years later we still laugh about those pancakes.
We were there when storms tossed tree limbs like toys, taking out a window and reminding us just how vast and powerful the sky and ocean were, understanding both their saving power and severity. We were there through joy and hope and loss, and many, many a dismantled crab.
But for our first night- Chicken Tetrazzini.
We paused to say grace, for family and all our blessings. Then we dug in.
Before we knew it, it was time for "fresh off the boat" crab which K went and so generously bought. With it, there was mac and cheese and salad and garlic toast.
After a good night's sleep, it was soon time to go. K. taking Shasta out for one last romp on the beach before an 11 hour drive for them, back to the mountains.
Then back, as we gathered up our things.
Partner and I made one last trip, by ourselves, to the spot where my parents rented a cabin when Bro and I were children, right on the water, the place now a huge hotel. The dynamics of the ocean have changed, a river inlet to the ocean now shifted so much closer to the shoreline, where it had once been a huge expanse of beach.
What is it about certain things in life, the simplest of things, a tool, a smell, the feel of a piece of wood or small stone in your hand that evokes a place, a voice, a wistful goodbye, that makes you feel like a small child walking on a path of life that got suddenly big. And like a child, you deeply sense how it makes you feel, but the words you know to explain it are so very limited, so you just sit and look, and breathe it in.
The only sound I hear is the internal tick of a clock, the only other thing I can sense is a taste of salt, that of the ocean, or tears, I can not tell, but distilled there on my tongue taking me back some 40 or so years to that wooded area where we played soldier and spy, almost unchanged. As I stood there, I could hear my brother calling to me from deep within the green - We've beaten the bad guys, come join me. Not too soon Big Bro, I hope, but I will see you again
As he got into the car, I saw the tears as all he could get out was "last trip. . " Then I said "but you DID beat everyone over the age of 5 in Cribbage"-- and he slyly chuckled "I did" and laughed, enjoying the car ride back to his house with a stop for marionberry pie before we got on the ferry. Good memories to the end.
He yawns and his eyes close, there in the late Autumn sun, one last exhalation that empties his body of waking or worrying. The neighborhood lay in that soft hazy light that makes the houses look like old photos, faded scraps of color that scatter lightly on the earth, lighter than dust, with which one hard rain would wash forever from our sight and memory, were we not to gather them up to protect them.
I know that parts of my life are over and the cadence of my days and my future will change once again. But dealing with change as I grew up was easier at the cabin, because over the years it was as constant as the gentle waves upon the shore. And in this dark this night, as I sit in a quiet room, only my laptop to keep me company, I open up my picture folder stored therein, where I carry those glimpses of places and people that I love. As the world outside stills, I take myself back to it, as if I was there. I take myself back so I can let go.
I tell myself, not how much I miss him, and will soon miss my whole family, but that I am thankful for who they were to me, and always will be.
The cabin is gone, but it's the memories that matter. They are in me, the way waves, incessant, after a long time, cease to be sound, yet are still there