Sunday, March 29, 2015

There's No Place Like Home on the Range

The kitchen floor is finally finished.  The kitchen is small and very odd shaped, with several little cubbyholes, and places for shelves, so designing  the tile layout so its not too busy, or too boring, when everything is reinstalled was a bit of a challenge.

But I am SO happy to be rid of the 1930's red floor from hell.
I got the easy part--color and flooring selection and design, and Partner and Grime got the hard part - ripping it all out (asbestos backing so the room was a sealed off science lab for a few days), building a new sub floor and gluing down all the tiles. I showed back up when it was half done. And we finished it up this weekend, a little time together before I pop out and see my Dad again.

And it matches the stained glass window that replaced the big ugly window on the right hand side wall, where the farmhouse sink will go.
The cabinets and counter  (to be installed after a major basement plumping task) will look like this, except the sink will actually be a antique white farmhouse sink on the right wall where the portable little "island" is now.  The section under the window will be continuous countertop, so I have a large work area. Then a fresh coat of light yellow paint and a collection of antique plates that match the colors to go on the wall with some other retro stuff.

So to celebrate having a functional kitchen again - I fed my husband very well.


Mongolian Beef
Yes, that's a leaf made out of a carrot.  Never underestimate the bored.

And Beefy Enchilada Casserole with a spicy and garlicky homemade enchilada sauce.
Recipe for the enchilada casserole (tonight's experiment) is up at

Enjoy your evening - hopefully with all the chores done and a little time to wander down the hall

and write.


Friday, March 27, 2015

TBOB - Portland Book Review Featured Book

The Book of Barkley by L. B. Johnson

BookofBarkleyIt’s A Doggone Life

There are many good books about the dogs we let into our lives. The Book of Barkley, a memoir-like novel by L.B. Johnson, is up there with the best and is reminiscent of Marley and Me. In this debut novel, Johnson weaves together the stories of two lives, her own and Barkley’s. We follow their two lives, from bringing the roly-poly black Labrador retriever pup home, through all the usual doggie events – nurturing, playing, traveling in the car and, not least, reacting to strange places and loud noises. The latter is described with high humor. “Suddenly there came this enormous BOOM of noise from a distance,” and Barkley was out the door like a shot, running for his life, while the narrator is shouting “Barkley, come back!” Seemingly, to no avail. Dog owners know the drill; after a while both Barkley and owner calm down and life goes on.
Using Barkley as the thread tying it together, the narrator tells her story, starting out as a sing le working woman living in the American Midwest. After acquiring Barkley she reminisces about daily life with a dog. At the same time, she dips deeply into her past life and childhood, all about growing up in Middle America. She also changes jobs and locations, moves houses, and before it’s over she falls in love with a dog-loving guy and gets married. All the while, Barkley is her anchor and the book’s focal point.
The Book of Barkley is well written, as these few snippets demonstrate. For example, th e author says that nothing “has taught me more than a dog… how to look carefully and inquisitively at everything, how to look deeply, without restraint or judgment or expectation… how to be happy with what you have today, here, now.” Near the end, after Barkley has gone off into the afterlife, she writes, “He was a dog, but he was much more than a dog. He was love that crept in on four paws and rem ains, as long as memory lasts.”
If you like dogs and dog-inspired human interest stories, chances are you’ll like this one.
Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ships Passing in the Night.

Duty called and I'll try and stop back in on Saturday with a post.  Be safe out there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Were Wolves - a Word from Abby the Lab

We were wolves once.
Wild and wary.
Stealth and cunning.

Then we noticed you had couches.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Winchester Model 1894 - My Cowboy Action Hero

I grew up watching old Westerns. Most weren't original, having been out for years, and seen in reruns, though I always remember Gunsmoke from when I was little. I loved Rifleman, Wanted Dead or Alive, Palladin, anything with John Wayne. The good guys were known, the bad guys obvious. The heroes rode a landscape of the lever action, the name of their firearm more than a forgotten name, their duty and honor more than a shout of defiance but an honor scratched into every weapon they held. The weapons would show the marks of their courage, etched into the very wood and steel of what they carried, not casually, but with the hurt and pride and grief with which men long since unremembered had died for.

Even as a kid playing cowboy and Indian (I was never anything but a cowboy, let the little sissy girl next door play the schoolmarm). I envisioned myself on a horse, lever action in one hand, reins in the other.

Needless to say, the first time I shot one, the thought that ran through my head was, "gee,  cowboys like John Wayne never yelled "*#($%!" and rubbed his shoulder after (though the Duke usually carried a model '92)

That first one I shot had some kick to it, with a butt plate that was pretty thin. But it was love at first shot. Sure, one could put a nice recoil pad on it, but did John Wayne have a recoil pad?

All I knew was I wanted one. It's hard to go wrong when designed by John Moses Browning.

The Winchester Model 1894 (also known as Winchester .30-30 rifle, Winchester 94, Win 94, .30-30 Winchester, or simply .30-30) is one of the most famous and most popular hunting rifles made, selling over 7 MILLION rifles. 1894 marks the year of its design the name from the manufacturer , the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. In 1980 it was picked up by U.S. Repeating Arms under the Winchester brand.

The original Model 1894 was produced in .32-40 Winchester, .38-55 Winchester, .25-35 Winchester, .3o-.30 Winchester and the .32 Winchester Special. It was the first hunting rifle chambered for the then-new smokeless powder cartridge. The .30-.30 Winchester, for me anyway, is the cartridge that is synonymous with the Model 1894 Rifle.

Variants of the Model 94, over its long history, also included the Winchester Model 55, produced from 1924 through 1932 in a 24-inch barrel, and the Winchester Model 64, produced from 1933 through 1957 in 20, 24, and 26-inch barrel lengths. A little bit of history from Wilkipedia - the model number 55 was used twice by Winchester, first as a Model 94 variant introduced in 1924, and, later, as a short-lived single-shot/semi-automatic hybrid .22-caliber rifle that self-cocked the hammer each time it was fired.)

So what's the difference between the 1892 and the 1894?
The Winchester 1894 was designed to permit the cycling of longer cartridges than the Winchester 1892 carbines could permit. When the lever is pulled down, it brings the bottom of the receiver with it. That opens up more space and allows a longer cartridge to feed without making the receiver longer, keeping the firearm tidy and size. The mechanism is complex but very reliable. Stripping the action is something that requites multiple stages, a slight bit of swearing and some practice, but it's not impossible for a beginner. Fortunately, from what I have read, it is rare that you have to completely strip the action.

Minuses: If you compare it to its competitors such as the Marlin Model 226.7 and the Marline Model 1894, a "minus" for some would be that Pre '64 Model 94s eject fired cases up and over the shooter's shoulder when the lever is operated rapidly. This precludes a scope mounted to the top of the receiver and comprises the greatest negative of the Model 94 design compared to the solid top Marlin 336, which ejects to the side and which has solid top receivers.

You could do a side mount or scout type, but most simply go for no scope. I have a scope on my Marlin and it was used on last years deer hunt with Og, Mycroft Holmes and Rangebuddy, to great success. But I am undecided as to actually calling this a "minus". Leaving the scope off reduces the weight of the gun as far as hauling it around in the field and it can allow the shooter to sight in more quickly, close or with moving game. Some folks don't want to mount a scope on anything that is going to ideally shoot within 200 yards anyway. Open sights work nicely if you have your sights adjusted and you know your point of impact.

After the early 80's, Winchester modified the firearm so that it would eject the empty shells out at an angle between the original Winchester design and the Marlin design. This made it possible to put scopes in a more normal position, on the top of the receiver. I'm not sure about the change. It was sort of the way I felt when McDonalds changed the Filet o Fish briefly back in the 80's, adding a big designer artisan bun. Better perhaps, but I missed my old, slightly squashed, non yuppified fish sandwich and was happy when they changed it back.

The mid 1990s brought a change from the long-used half-cock notch safety to a cross-bolt safety like the aforementioned Marlins. Yes, they lawyered it up. I'm glad the one I can shoot is an older one. Somethings just don't need "improving.The last ones leaving the factory in New Haven in 2006 before production ceased had tang mounted safeties. In what I'm familiar with, a half-cocked hammer notch serves as a safety. But owning a number of striker fired weapons, I'll say it again. The best safety is between the shooters ears.Pluses -You can talk about looks and feed and usability and all of that, but call me a romantic, sometimes you just look at something touch something and you know you love it. You don't need to add up "selling points" You are already smitten.

The 1894 is much this way.

It's easy to pack, tote and will hold its own wet, sandy or dusty. It's pretty darn hard to get a failure to feed with a lever action even in the worst of conditions. The ejection is position, the feel, nimble and quick.

This gun is like that date you bring home that all of your brothers and even your Dad will actually like. It's a gun that makes friends easily. It's a powerful gun that fire's a nicely sized 30 caliber bullet. It can take down a deer with range and power limitations of it's cartridge. It can, if you are as quick as it is, and stealthy, take down bigger game.

For it IS fast. A bit more so than the Marlin 336 and even more so than the Henry and Uberti. Very nice, fast handling rifles themselves, but not as fast as the Winchester 94. The reason is simple, they weigh a lot more and are balanced further forward, which although steadying the swing, slows it.

The range was tested out to about 200 yards. The .30 - .30 cartridge is a good all around cartridge capable of getting that bigger game as well as game at a longer range when fed high performance ammunition like the Hornady LeverEvolution, Cor-Bon DPX Hunter, and Winchester Supreme loads.
Some online reviews have complained about its accuracy. Will you shoot a 1" group with open sights? No, not for this shooter anyway. But it's as accurate as I need it to be for what I intend to do with it, as reliable as any good hunting rifle, IF you treat it properly. Lever action rifles in general need to be stroked like you've done it before. No simpering virginal handling of the thing. Fire the darn thing and enjoy it.

For this "no strong bear paws" shooter, it was a bear to load, but oh boy is it is a pleasure to handle. Clean lines, slender receiver, blued steel and lustrous walnut, perfection of line and balance that you'd expect from JMB. If you can get a hold of a pre-64 94 Carbine, don't let it go. They're more expensive but worth it. But even with the later models, there is a reason it's the best selling sport rifle in history. It earned it.

If you get a chance to fire one, do. If you get a chance to buy one, definitely. There are a LOT of good rifles out there, but this will always be what I picture in my hand when I still have those dreams of riding the range in the wee hours of the night with John Wayne, gun by my side, the feel of justice where strove and sounded the law of the land, for which freedom and safety were the end, and the firearm, the tool.

Though just maybe in my dreams I'll have a recoil pad on it.

It's a bear to load, it hurts to shoot and oh boy is it FUN!!!!!

Other Specs:

Magazine capacity - 6 cartridges
Barrel length - 20" (round)
Twist - 1 in 12"
Sights - Post front, adjustable semi-buckhorn rear; drilled and tapped for receiver sights
Length of pull - 13 3/16"
Length overall - 37 7/8"
Weight - 6 1/2 pounds (7.5 pounds if you add a scope and mount)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guffaw in AZ - You Best Be Sitting Down :-)

Bacon Wrapped Roast Lemon Chicken

I put up all the photos of the Range Recipes on a Pinterest Page. That way you can scroll down through them, find something you like, then get the recipe off the sidebar here or using the blog search engine.

I'm hungry already.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Best Laid Plans - Photos from Saturday

I made it home. The kitchen floor was not done but it's getting there. The house has been rearranged a bit, the refrigerator being on the sun porch.

Abby was happy to see me.

Sure - she's all sweet and fuzzy and innocent, but just grab a Milkbone. . . .
The last thing a dog treat ever sees.

I brought a few more things up from Indy to add to the decor as we redo the kitchen.
There was the usual mail, but one wonderful surprise.  A beautiful etched pendant and a thank you note from  Lori-Anne at Rockin' LJ Wildlife Rescue and Esquine Sanctuary, in Tyrone, Oklahoma.  For over 12 years she's taken care of animals in need, including a number of blind horses.  TBOB sent a little check for some hay and herpersonal note just made my day. Thanks Lori-Anne! Consider a donation, it costs close to $1500 a week to feed the animals and much of it comes from her own pocket as well as earnings from her beautiful jewelry. Her auction page for her jewelry is on Facebook - enter in the Facebook search engine -
Rockin LJ Blind Equine Sanctuary benefit and auction page

We did take a break from chores to get into the Heidi Pops Toffee Popcorn (I got that and the cheesy jalapeno pretzel flavored) as I got badly trounced in dominoes. I might as well have put almost all of my fleet in dry dock and played Sequestration Battleship.
Then it was back to work.

The house looked like a testosterone bomb had gone off.  I'd left meals for each night, ready to nuke; but there were glasses all over the house, some leather-working stuff laying around, zillions of tools, and a pile of laundry that had its own base camp.

But Partner not only put in 8-11 hour days at work--he worked on the floor until late each night,.
And from the blanket I pulled off of the sofa - I think he just laid down there and fell asleep, never making it to bed, probably waking when it got light.
I realize how lucky I am.  Sure we could have paid someone to build a new sub-floor and prep and lay the tiles, but I'd rather have that money in the bank for the future, and to help others when we can.

OK - so still no stove in the kitchen
 That's what a barbecue is for.  We've got burgers and fresh/frozen corn and ice cold beer.
Tired, full, and grateful for the weekend. - 
Brigid and family

Friday, March 20, 2015

You Were the One for Me - a Meme

It was going to be  a long drive home with traffic after a long duty shift.  Adding to the fun would be an assortment of truckers who truly believed that because their truck could go point five mph's more than the other semi truck in the right lane truck they should take over the only passing lane and stay there for 15 minutes, while cars back up behind them 10 miles. Usually when I finally get past one of them, I'll speed by like a lizard on a tile floor, full throttle and giving him that friendly Hoosier wave (involves a distal phalanx). Since our kitchen floor is not quite done, and I'm very tired, Partner in Grime suggested I just get a good nights sleep while he lays the rest of the tile, and I'll go up in the morning. Sounds like a plan and I have Heidi Pops popcorn (pretzel jalapeno this time)

I can't say I love the commute, but I love my husband and our home, and it just happens to be several hours from where I work.  But sometime it's a pleasant enough drive, listening to music and the news. After all the news of Washington and extremists and such lately, I'd almost love to go back to the good old news days when the headlines were simply some New York mayor candidate that can't keep from sending photos of his namesake to strange women.  All I could think of was, as tired as I was -  "what if politicians were named like the seven dwarfs".  You'd have  (in New York anyway) Hippy, Horny, Sleezy, Gropey, Greedy, Humpy (only six dwarfs, Doc was replaced by Obamacare).

But you know, for every story I read like that, for every relationship that's imploded in the news, I still know dozens and dozens of people, many like family to me, some actual family, that have someone in their life that is their one and only.  Many of us also have had the blessing of parents that weren't just partners in the marriage, but were best friends as well.
Yesterday, my friend Bill Keller - Author of  Just the Basics, shared a picture with his friends of he and his not-yet wife in 1971, re-united after he'd been away for four years in the military, two without even seeing one another once. She waited for him, and you can tell by the look in their eyes, they are both very glad. You look at the picture of them now, forty some years later, and they still look at each other like that and when Partner and I shared a meal with him last, and he talked about her, his face lit up in the same manner. That just makes me smile.

Every family has their stories of when "Mom and Dad" met.  My parents - sixth grade.  Dad mercilessly teased the new girl in school all day. On the way home she wound up and beaned him from a good distance with a milk bottle. I'm surprised it didn't hurt him, but he was certainly impressed by both her throw and her aim. They were pretty much inseparable after that, only being apart during WWII.

Since I work with all guys, no one really talks about "relationships" though (unless it involves a relationship with a buffalo chicken wing), but once in a while someone let's something slip. When leaving for a business lunch with someone that's also a close friend, h  noticed the large tire iron wedged where I could easily grab it from the front seat of my truck (the "drive through Gary road service tool").

He just smiled.  He then told me the story of when he decided he was going to marry his wife of some thirty years.

He said "we were in our 20's, in her car, at the mall for something she was supposed to pick up for her Mom.  We came out and though she was well within the lines of her spot, this young jerk pulls in, parking so close to her there is no way she can get IN, let alone OUT, then walks off with a smirk. There was barely enough room on the passenger side for her to get in.  I couldn't fit but she was able to climb in the passenger side, but getting out of the spot was almost impossible, he being an inch from her car.  After quite a few minutes of  small, but precise maneuvering, she got the car free."

Ahh, I thought to myself, a woman who can handle a vehicle.   Then he continued.

"What I was so surprised with, was how calmly and skillfully she just take of the problem, without asking for help. She just calmly and expertly, got her car free".

So I said "that's when you decided she was the one for you?"

"No". . he said.  "It  was when she had backed out.  She got out of the car, all composed in her pretty little dress, took out the tire iron and busted out his headlights."
Oh, how I laughed But I bet we all have some stories.  Certainly we all have the ones of when we knew someone was NOT the right one for us.  Storiest hat involve bad manners, crazy relatives, "you have HOW many pet ferrets?", underwear under the bed that's not yours, an aversion to firearms, yard signs for Democratic senators, an assortment of 2nd degree felonies and personal computer misdeeds that would make Snowden blush.

Almost all of us have been there, and it usually leaves you wanting nothing more from the world than air to push on through and exhale. Then you meet someone,  Sometimes you come together like two ships, becalmed, floating next to each other until you finally, and softly, touch, and you are captured by that which is the essence of dreams. Sometimes you meet in heat and flame, built up over years of carefully tended embers that survived some rough miles, just needing the right touch and a breath to give spark to it.

Either one is a wondrous journey, one that for me began in a little coffee shop in Indiana where a little train ran on a track along the ceiling inside as the forgotten coffee grew cold and a black dog waited patiently at our fee. We had been the best of friends online for many years, because of a shared spirit and a few mutual souls that we knew. But we met because that one long-time blog reader said "would you like to meet me for coffee? and I said "yes."  

So - for those of you married or in a long term relationship, what was that moment when you knew this person was for you?

You all have a wonderful Friday night.
 - Brigid

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Judging a Book by its Cover

The book, like TBOB, is black. It has some grammatical errors on the back cover scribing (this is just a draft) but I got to add #1 Amazon Best Selling which was actually a big smile. Still, I like the way it turned out. The design was mine so be kind, but I like it. And yes---a real photo of the author - taken on my 50th birthday. I'm close enough to squirrel retirement I don't care. the photo used for the cover is personal and means a lot to me. I'm sure some of you will recognize those little copper baby shoes our Mom's used to have done up.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Feet to the Fire

My publisher just sent the galley drafts for the cover and interior of Book #2 - Saving Grace.  I have 50 some chapters to proof before approving the "go to print".

So you all keep the home fires burning for a day or two, until I'm done.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Black Labs and Fireflies

I still miss him, remembering as the last of the snow melts. Oh, how Barkley loved to play in the snow. But I can only think of these words, and smile.

May have been the losing side.
 Still not convinced it was the wrong one.
Captain Reynolds - Firefly

Saturday, March 14, 2015


The Book of Barkley just hit #1 in sales at Amazon.   Not #1 in the Free Kindle Store, where it had been before but #1 in actual paperback book sales for genre.

Thank you - all of you.  For without your support and encouragement I never would have written an actual book, content to just craft my little stories. Those of you that tweeted it or mentioned on your blog or Facebook to get that initial push out of the gate can't be thanked enough as well as those of you who read it and reviewed it.  Amazon has 15 million books for sale, so it was a little daunting to enter that market as a first time author.

I am especially thrilled as March sales are going not to just a couple  bloggers' pets that need some help, but Midwest Lab Retriever Rescue and DFW Lab Rescue and we just sponsored a search and rescue dog with Search Dog Foundation (it takes $10,000 to train one dog)

I miss you Barkley, as do we all. But now the world will know how special you really were and you will be remembered after we both are gone.