Saturday, January 30, 2016

Systems of Shooting

"I had no system of shooting as such. It is definitely more in the feeling side of things that these skills develop. I was at the front five and a half years, and you just got a feeling for the right amount of lead. "-- Lt. General Guenther Rall

It's a quiet day - it was a tough week, a murder nearby, a young security officer, gunned down as he arrived home, in front of his wife,  the suspects still out there. Then, to top it off, I had to block a someone on Facebook (no one I actually knew and not part of the blog network, simply a "friend of a friend" in real life and someone I'd admired) after they went on off topic rant on what was meant to be a humorous post after an upsetting day, insulting some actual friends in the process, even if unintentionally.  Add to that blog trolls, politics and the weather, I was in the mood to get out of the house. and hang with people I know in the flesh. After dropping a note to my daughter and the grand kids (it's been almost 16 years since my daughter and I met when she graduated, how cool is that, but how old that makes me feel) it was time to pick up a firearm again.

I'm sure across America there are malls filled with women shopping. I'd rather have a root canal than go shopping, which is probably why I'm the only woman in North America that only owns two pairs of shoes. Although I did buy a new dress for the symphony once, treating the boutique like enemy territory, going in and out as quickly and quietly as possible, I do need to go again. I need a new suitcase. . . well, it's pretty beat up. . . when traveling with it, I look like Mary Poppins fallen on hard times. But I'll see if I can do my shopping online when I get home and head out to the range instead. It's been two months since I'd been. Requal is not going to be pretty, but it's not about impressing someone.

I like to go there early when I have the whole range to myself. When it is just me and the target. There is something about opening the case and taking out my weapons, taking the stance. That first deep breath and the pull of a trigger, my heart pounding as if in anticipation of that first kiss. The background noise of conversation as people arrive after me is inert behind the walls, I can only hear my breathing as the sound of the first shot flares through the air, the way a sonic boom bursts the lie of silence.

Just another morning, with the right amount of lead.  I feel better already.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Hitting the Mark

These aren't your typical cowboy biscuits. Made by layering a cream cheese and whipping cream infused biscuit dough with tiny slivers of butter, folding end over end, they're not something you can put together between getting the four legged crittersdown for the night and the first rampage of hungry rangehands. But if you have some time on an evening or weekend, these are well worth the trouble. Several cowboys have tried making them in their own kitchens after I made them for friends, including Old NFO who gave them two thumbs up from his kitchen. The result is 72 layers of dough, with an incredibly light, but definitely biscuit, taste. After one of these you will just use that can of "flaky biscuit" dough for target practice. Layered Cream Cheese Biscuits I first had them at the Robinwood Free Meeting House, a creation of Chef Michael Gagne, but I wanted to try and make my own. They were worth the work. They're tall and tender, just like some cowgirl you may know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

MMMM. . . Mausers

A couple readers over the last 8 years have asked where the "Mausers and Muffins" name came from.

The Mauser was the first firearm I ever fired. Dad had an old 8 mm Mauser in the closet and when I was about 12, after learning the basics of gun safety, and shooting something much smaller with my Mom (yes, my MOM taught me how to shoot, she was a Deputy in the Sheriff's Department).

Let's just say, that experience gave me a healthy respect for the power of a firearm. This is a gun that wants you to show it who is in charge. Your grip should be strong, the stock, firmly and solidly, placed against your shoulder.  If you want to pick up and play with something light and fluffy that can draw blood if mishandled, go buy a damn kitten.
I've had one in my gun safe ever since, sometimes several of them. A girl needs something to accessorize with her bayonets, right?

Here you can see a crescent emblem on the Model 1938, built at the arsenal in Turkey. Which leads to  today's poston the Turkish Contract models 1890 through 1938. We can spend some time with coffee and 1954 ATF Marked Rifles and some others another morning.

The earliest model of a Turk Mauser I have data on is the 1887. The Ottomans placed their first order with Waffenfabrik Mauser for over half a million rifles patterned after the Gew. 71/84 bolt action rifle. This black powder rifle was to be chambered for the 9.5x60R military round. When the Ottomans terminated the contract, they made the switch to smokeless powder after accepting less than half of their original order.

Then followed the 1890, and the 1893, and the next interesting modification the 1903. Although the Turks had a modern and well equipped army, and upgraded their weapons far more often than other nations in the Middle East, in this rifle the Ottomans were "keeping up with the Joneses". In this case, the German Army, and they ordered rifles modeled after the Gew. 98 and chambered for 7.65x53. (Note: The 7.65x53 and 7.65x54 are essentially the same cartridge and seem to be interchangeable.) It also came with some other small changes similar to previous designs. If you don't know if what you have is this model, the straight bolt handle has a distinctive tear-drop shape. That will give you a solid clue. The stock should also have a pistol grip and the rear receiver bridge will have a "high hump" at the clip loading point. This hump was necessary to support the unique stripper clip in use at the time.

There was also two carbine versions of this rifle with 21.65 and 17.72 inch barrels. When converted to 8mm this is often called an 03/38. This was a gun mentioned above that my Dad had, originally my grandfathers I believe, and one that was the first of its kind that I shot. The really short barreled Mauser was nick-named the 'Camel Carbine' as it was issued to mounted troops, and it had a VICIOUS muzzle blast and recoil. I think the intent was to make me VERY aware of a power of a weapon at an early age. It did that.
Plus when you've been knocked on your ass by the Camel Carbine you're less likely to go running to Mom to whine when you've barely skinned your knee playing outside.
This post's feature is the model 38. The Turkish Republic updated their old rifles to a common configuration commonly know as the Model of 1938 and all in 8x57 Mauser. Although they started the conversations in 1933, ANY rifle converted to that standard is known as the Model 38, even if it was built later. For they were not actually a model of a rifle, but really a standard for rifles to be arsenal reworked.

The Mausers assembled from accumulated parts started during WWII as Turkey became isolated and began assembling their own rifles from stored up parts. The first time both the receivers and parts were made in Turkey was starting in 1940. I'm not an expert by any means, but it appears that all Turkish assembled rifles were marked 1938/K. Kale, for the arsenal where they were assembled. There are also other numerous model 38 Mausers, marked with the 'Ankara' arsenal marking, and these are usually German made rifles that have been refitted. The Home on the Range Mauser is, I believe, a 100% Turk 1943 K. Kale. This is a large ring model with a small shank (normally 0.980 inches in diameter with 0.645 inches of threaded area at 12 TPI) rifle.

The large ring (1.410 inches in diameter) is unique to most Mausers made from 1898 onward. This was along with other features that showed up on the scene at the same time, like the third safety lug, cock on opening, and the gas escape features (after eating a piece of that prime rib I discovered Barkley is equipped with that feature). Though the original idea was for those to take a large shank barrel, the the Ottomans and Turks had large ring receivers made that would accommodate the small, likely to maintain part commonality with their older models. Since they ended up rebarrelling most of them later, it might have been just as good an idea to keep with the old basic Mauser design, but at the time it seemed like a good idea (like making pastry at 5 am).
Having typical 1898 Mauser actions, it's robust and simple. The same techniques used by generations of shooters on Mausers work just fine on this old Turk. And it works for me.

This rifle did get a little "fine tuning" to ensure that all rounds, including old 50's 8 x 57 mm ammo, shoots reliably in the form of a new 24 pound firing pin spring. If you were almost 70 years old, you'd lose a little spring in your step, and the old Mausers are no different. Springs weaken with age and that wear is hereditary with the old Turks. It also has a front sight from a VZ24 Mauser, which puts it on point of aim at 100 yards, rather than 6-8" high at 100 yards as the original sight would have.

Those were really the only changes. This weapon wasn't rebarrelled as many of the old Turkish models were but the birch stock appears newer than manufacturer. Many of the old Turk models are "Frankenguns" with many of them arsenal "reworked" too a more convenient style (read. . a short rifle configuration., typically about 44 inches, this one being 49).

It's a find, and especially at a good price. Like finding anything in the historical market, do your homework, and ask around. Many different rifles can be called the Turkish Model 1938. This would include but is not limited to the GEW 98, Cz 98/22, Turkish Model 1903 and the Model 1893. These are readily available today from varied suppliers for prices ranging from about $150 to several hundred.


Like anything with value to you, sometimes you have to do a little homework and take some time and care when procuring a classic weapon. Quality can range from the "barn fresh" to the painstakingly crafted and cared for. But you won't regret the acquaintance.


As for the "muffins" in Mausers and Muffins?

Well, THAT is easy to answer.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Lessons from a Rescue Lab - Using the Right Words

This one is for my best friend  Midwest Chick who I have shared many an adventure of dogs and cats with, for any of you who have read The Book of Barkley.  I thought of her today when shopping at Etsy for a gift for a Friend and seeing catnip "joints" and I had visions of Goldie the cat getting stoned on top of the Cat Condo. In her words - a lesson in dog vocabularies.

Abby knows quite a few words; she's extremely smart, but I think she knows some that we humans may not know.

Barkroom -that small dark closet I go go to when it thunders
Ballderdash -  a mad chase across the dog park to fetch the ball.
Floordrobe - that pile of clean clothes that makes the best place to nap when pulled off the bed
Slowbber- lazy drooling
Peticure - getting my nails trimmed
Hairaphernalia - all the grooming stuffs Mom uses keep the fur looking nice
Napcident - accidentally falling asleep while watching for squirrels
Overtoyed - being SO excited from all the new things to play with
Foodiness - when I sulk because you haven't fed me yet
Vettlement - what Mom ends up paying the vet after the pet insurance settles the claim
Fooditarian - the ability to eat anything that's found on the kitchen floor
Infilthtrate - when I come in the house with muddy paws
Toppleganger - knocking something breakable off the table with my tail
Peeography - mapping out the neighborhood one bush at a time
Incendairy - that time I got diarrhea from eating too much cheese
Naptivating -  something that just makes you want to sleep
Carioki - when I howl to the radio on a drive
Intoxicat - when someone's had a little too much catnip
Petrofried - what happens to me when there's big storms
Meanderthal - people that walk me too slow
Shoeberries -  The little decorative bits that are all that's left of your new shoes

Bathroam - following my Mom wherever she goes
Sockrifice - eating just one sock out of a pair
Peeoccuppied - not paying attention to Mom when I'm doing my business
Cattitude - you know what I'm talking about
Carpolepsy - being all excited about a "drive" then immediately going asleep
Phonundrum - barking at the doorbell when it's really Dad's phone
Mytopia - when the walk to the dog park is longer than it looks
Chillenged - Not wanting to go out and potty when it's 10 degrees out
Fartunate - what you are when someone else in the room gets blamed
Bathing Snoot - putting your cold nose to your owners backside as they get in the shower
Puffalope - a square puffy creature that comes through the slot in the door that's so fun to kill
Petrol - checking every corner of the yard for squirrels
Blamestorming - making it look like the cat did it
Toilert - when I bark because you get up at night to pee
Suppervise - when I have to watch every bite that goes in your mouth
Catsnip - getting Mittins neutered
Shedlines - when Mom realizes she needs to vacuum up the hair today
Abdicat - when you renounce all claims to be head of your kingdom when you get a feline
Travelsty - having to commute to the veterinarian
Nocra- not liking vegetables as "treats"
Mouse Potato - the cat that just sleeps all day
Fartland - a great open expanse of couch that you suddenly have all to yourself.
Bonecall - something you just have to respond to
Askinine - when humans ask "do you want to go out?"
Stuffiecate- How you dispatch the plush squeaky toy before disemboweling it
Epoophany -  I will know the secret of life if you just let me out one more time
Interwet- when I knock Mom's coffee over on the keyboard with my nose
Treat and Great - saying hello to my pet sitter
Lawndry - pulling the clothes off the line is fun!
Reciprocat - taking the neighbor's "free kitten" because they took one of yours
Defence - what the neighbor put up to keep their dogs from getting loose
Affleasement - when I just have to give in to the urge to scratch
Furloin - if I keep licking myself there Mom will give me food to distract me
The Collar Store - where we go to get cheap pet toys
Toester - laying on Mom's feet to keep them warm
Catacombs - where the kitties go hide in the basement when it's time to go in the cat carrier

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chilly Outside? - Winter Warm Up Food

Are you going to eat all of that cheese?

Although it warmed up into the 30's -  Partner and I had no urge to head out Sunday afternoon to do anything.  Tired from house projects, it was just a good day to make up a big pot of something we can eat for a couple of days with plenty of leftovers to freeze.

Lunch was easy.

Pizza Bread with salad.  You can't really mess this up.  Spread some tomato sauce on half a loaf of french or Italian bread, top with different cheeses and a sprinkle of garlic powder and some dried basil and oregano and bake at 375 F. for 10 minutes.

But I still need something for dinner. OK - I sort of winged this one, not sure how it would turn out and it turned out better than expected so Partner in Grime said I should post.
Ginger Chili Stew.  It's not true chili as there are beans and there are more than your usual chili seasonings in here.  But it's a tangy, spicy blend that will warm your stomach with just enough heat to feel it in the back of your throat.  The secret ingredient?

Ginger Ale.  Partner in Grime gave it two thumbs up and said he was glad I made a huge crockpot full so we could freeze some. Being an Illinois native, the man has NEVER had Frito Chili Pie - so guess what is on the menu tomorrow night?
In a pan saute a large chopped onion, in a little olive oil until softened and remove.  Then cook up 2 pounds of ground meat (beef/pork/venison or any mix thereof)

In a crockpot add

1 -  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juice (I love Muir organic, they have a zippier taste)
2  - 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 Tablespoon (one and 1/2 teaspoons) apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup honey
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 Tablespoon (1 and 1/2 teaspoons) Molasses
5 teaspoons minced garlic from the jar
1 can chopped green chilies
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt (a lower sodium salt/herb blend found in a lot of grocers that Big Bro and used all the time)
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
Stir and add onions and meat (drained of any fat in the pan)  Add 4-5 cups canned veggies, drained and rinsed. I used all beans as I was cycling through some by date from the prepping cupboard, but you could use beans, corn, hominy, or mixed veggies.

Stir in one 12 ounce can of ginger ale (NOT diet) and simmer on low for 5-6 hours. (Note:  my crockpot tends to run pretty hot - I'm sure you could cook this for 8 hours on low in most crockpots).

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cheese if you like, some crackers, and a frosty beverage.

Makes enough to feed a large family with leftovers.



Saturday, January 23, 2016

DIY - With Back UP

For those of you who have followed this blog for a few years you know the current "Range" is a labor of love.  Some say we were crazy, my selling my four bedroom, three bath custom McMansion and giving away ten's of thousands of furnishings to Veteran groups and Partner not getting one of those yuppie condos along the lake like the successful members of his graduating class.  No - we have a hundred year old fixer upper Bungalow with just our most prized books and possessions, all kinds of charm and no giant mortgage.

It's only 20 some miles from the city but it's on a very deep lot, with a long driveway and big separate garage, unusual given the age of the neighborhood.  It has a tiny front and back yard, but has two nice side yards giving some distance from neighbors lined with full grown spruce, lending quiet and privacy to the place.  From here, each of us can take a non-freeway, backroad to work, each in 40  minutes (opposite directions).
Homes in the Village are in the upper 300,000's to 400,000's range. We'll have, even with professional builders for kitchen and bath, about 280,000 cash in the place,doing all the restorative work DIY.  We don't plan on moving, Partner won't retire for 34 more years, we're more likely to build a little cabin or restore an old caboose out in the country for the weekends when I retire in 5-7 years.
Yes, this would be too cool

But it's been a lot of work, complete landscaping (small patches of dead grass don't count) complete new plumbing and rewiring, more plumbing, subfloors, wood restoration, removing stained wallpaper, plasterwork.  There's still a lot more to do, a main floor bath last redone in the late 60's, new steps front and back, a chimney that's coming out to make storage space in the back of the house and the "Green Acres" sunroom, that has a lot of potential (and is home to the farmhouse sink that's going into the kitchen remodel so I have a full length countertop where it is currently tiny counter/sink/tiny counter)

But it went from looking like this (big ugly window has to go)
to this

And this (dirty wallpaper and Liberace chandelier and too many doors).
to this


And the pink master bedroom. . .
was given some lace curtains and  a more golden glow.
We kept the same basic colors - just updated and cleaned up a bunch, rewiring but keeping the wall sconces.

All the heavy drapes came down and delicate sheers and lace from the thrift shop went up. Given how far above the street level the main floor sits (walk out basement) people can't look in, even if they came through the trees onto the property, though we're building canvas blinds for some of the windows.
And what once an ugly bedroom downstairs we didn't need, with a great view off the porch
Became a spot where two books were written

We did everything ourselves, including restoring all the "found on curb" furniture we added. But when it came time to do the bathrooms and kitchen I called in back up.

Why - because all I could think to do with this involved C4 which the Village was NOT going to give me a permit for.
We were lucky to get the gentleman (a former physicist, turned builder/designer) that did the famous"Meathead's" kitchen (amazing ribs dot com). 

Because you need a professional like that to turn the Mamie Eisenhower Pink bathrooms and"that bathroom whose name may not be spoken"
into something a little more tranquil and fitting the house.
Or a place for a quiet soak after a long day.
Today - we went to his business and picked out everything for the kitchen.  You all remember the kitchen, with the horrific peeling red linolium from the "water-inator" post?

Partner removed the floor and subfloor (which was NOT an easy task as we didn't know if it had asbestos, and it didn't) and laid in tile.  I wanted to keep the antique appliances and design a kitchen around those and Mom's  colorful Swedish Horse collection which will be on top of the new cabinets.
A new subfloor went in (as well as an antique light fixture that came from a local storefront in a "going out of business" sale (the plasterwork will be completed when it's warm again, this was  basic structural and electrical only work).


Then the tile.  Still there were the solid metal cabinets and someone covered in contact paper (yes, contact paper).
Today - we went in, wrote a check, and selected our custom cabinets,counters, back tile and lighting. The cupboards will be white maple (and who knew there were so many shades of white)
The countertops will be dark.  The lighting in the store doesn't do the color justice - it's a rich dark slate color with a bit of marbling to it that compliements the dark blue black floor tile perfectly.
 and the handles will fit in quite nicely with the fittings on the 70 year old antique stove.
It's cute and there's a lot of memories of us in this kitchen with this stove so I can't get rid of it.
This is just a rough hand drawing, but you get the idea.  The farm house sink will be 90 degrees to this and the frame it's mounted on will join up with counter to form a nice junction where I can work. The backsplash will be an antique looking tile. Yes, no dishwasher, in a tiny kitchen like this that is wasted space.

When you've made your new lamp out of an old coffee can - sometimes new-fangled just doesn't impress.
I think Mom's Swedish Horses (and friends) would approve.