Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Guns and Chocolate

This Christmas ended up having a theme. It wasn't planned, but I got a LOT of chocolate.

I also ended up with these bits from assorted folks ...

Michael W. is here visiting for Christmas. He sharpened all my kitchen knives yesterday and then made dinner. He's a great guest. He also gave me a hackbut and accessories.

He's in the garage making a powder measure at the moment.

Should I stain it really dark so I have an EBH?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Non-Christmas Related

Because if I have to hear "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" or "Feliz Navidad" one more time today, I'm going to burst a vessel, I give you: 100 Riffs

(If the embed do-hicky's not working, click on the link ...)

Saturday, December 22, 2012


In these last few days before Christmas, I've found myself making tangerine marmalade, dog biscuits, horse cookies and Sweet Daughter has been making catnip toys for her favorite cats. (BTW, taking dog treats to the dogs at the new local gun store earns big points.)

Speaking of local gun store, they told me they'd done 14K of business on Wednesday before 5:00 p.m. This is a small store, open less than two months that still doesn't have a functional web site.

We have company coming for the holidays this year, and today will find me trying to get the house in some sort of order. And probably baking more dog biscuits.

Dog Biscuits

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 toasted wheat germ
1/2 brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

I didn't have parsley, so I just used mint, which I chopped in the food processor.  Since I have a tiny little Oscar food processor (yes, from 1985, why do you ask?), I ran the everything through in batches and then dumped it in a big bowl and combined it there. They I rolled it out 1/3" thick and cut it into squares. Sorry, but I don't have time to fiddle with fancy cookie cutters.

I put them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and put them in a 350 degree oven. Two minutes later, I remembered that I forgot the egg wash, so I pulled them out and brushed them with:

1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water

and put them back in the over for about 35 minutes until they were brown. Then I turned the oven off and left them in overnight. Then turned out very dry and crunchy, and the gun store dogs loved them.

This made two jelly-roll pans full of biscuits.

Horse Cookies

1 cup dry oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup shredded carrots or apples
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Mix the ingredients in a bowl, and then drizzle in molasses while you stir until the dough just sticks together - probably about a quarter cup. Form into balls, and flatten with with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Press crushed peppermints or candy canes into the top and
bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

This only makes about a dozen cookies. I'd double or triple it next time.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Squirrel Report

If you don’t already listen, I don’t suggest you start now. But if you do, I get to co-host again tonight.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is it just me?

A delivery driver asked me for my "John Henry" this evening. I said "John Henry was a steel-drivin' man. You want my John Hancock." I got a look that indicated I had sprouted another head or some such.

Later I was at the Y while Sweet Daughter took her swim lesson, and woman came over and watched me knit on circular needles. She said she was a knitter, but she stared as though I was some sort of alchemist. She just stood there for a good ten minutes as I knit one, purled one, ad infinitum.

I really need to work on my deathstare.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And the answer is ...

* Wrote personalized sweepstakes copy for a mail-order catalog company.

I worked for Fingerhut first as a temp, hauling the boards around, then as a copy clerk, then wrote for their sweepstakes department. “Congratulations, Title Lastname! You may have already won $100,000 (if we draw your winning number blah blah blah blah blah.)”

* Cocktail waitress in a college bar.

Weekend drink specials were 3-for-1 and cost $1.90. Sometimes I’d get tipped the 10 cents. On a good night, I’d make $2. Popcorn and soda were free for the employees, but the hotdogs were still 50 cents.

* Mapped and transcribed county cemeteries.
Paid summer internship which utilized my double major of Geography and Historic Preservation.

* Sold hats out of trunks at home parties.

Got laid off, and had to make money somehow. Oddly enough, I was their best salesman. Go figure.

* Costumed walking tour guide in a capital city.
When asked when the 2:00 tour started, I replied “In the afternoon.”

* Cartographer: made analog maps for cruise missiles.

First job out of college. Back in the dark ages before AutoCAD. We took the brown (land) and blue (water) plates from the topo sheet and shot a new image. By hand, we scribed what the missile needed to “see”, shot a new positive, digitized it (with a VAX!), and then assigned numbers to the elevation lines with a touch pen on a monochrome computer screen.

* Worked retail in a well-known fabric store.

Nope. This is the one I’ve never done.
* Nightclub disc jockey in the days of vinyl.

This was where I waitressed. The hours were shorter, but the aggravation was less. And I had a horrible case of mic fright.

* Provided admin support for an industry association which developed a set of audio algorithms.

* Managed a handful of historic properties.

These belonged to a family partnership that was rather laid back. I learned all sorts of interesting things here … like patching roofs, and everything I ever wanted to know about toilets.

Monday, December 3, 2012

One of these things ...

… is not like the other.

In lieu of actual content, I’ve held all of these paying jobs except one. You get to guess which one.

* Wrote personalized sweepstakes copy for a mail-order catalog company.

* Cocktail waitress in a college bar.

* Mapped and transcribed county cemeteries.

* Sold hats out of trunks at home parties.

* Costumed walking tour guide in a capital city.

* Cartographer: made analog maps for cruise missiles.

* Worked retail in a well-known fabric store.

* Nightclub disc jockey in the days of vinyl.

* Provided admin support for an industry association which developed a set of audio algorithms.

* Managed a handful of historic properties.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote, dammit.

So, I just got my 6th election-related call in the last 3 ½ hours. This one had a real human on the other end and she told me she was calling to remind me to vote tomorrow.
“Really?” I said. “You’re the 6th call I’ve had since 4:30. Do you think I live under a rock? Do you really think I’m dumb enough to NOT know it’s election day tomorrow?”

“Umm …”
“And seriously.  If I was stupid enough to NOT know tomorrow was election day, would you really want me voting?”


Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Prep

So what do you do before a hurricane? You play proctologist with the storm drain in your driveway so the garage doesn’t flood, and you practice shooting zombies.

Sweet Daughter and I stopped in our new gun (and only!) gun store in town  last week. They're still ramping up, but we bought some ammo and SD picked out some targets as we had planned on meeting up with Shorter Half over the weekend to do some shooting.
That is a black cat on her forehead from a "Harvest Party" at school.
Unbeknownst to SD, SH is, um, a bit put off by roaches. The target she chose for him was a giant zombie roach. When all was said and done, I think SH put every round he had with him through that target.

I was given a pretty standard issue zombie. SH wanted me to try his AR -- that thing has so much stuff dripping off of it, it took me a minute to figure out where the magazine went. It was the first time I’d shot anything with a scope – and wow. That was easy. I put the crosshairs in the center of his forehead and let fly. Since we were rather close, the first shot was a little low. I walked it up to what looked like the center of his forehead and went to town. I tried to get my sights back on target as quickly as possible, and kept firing. I’d estimate I was getting a round off every two seconds.

 Here’s what I find interesting – I was aiming for “center of mass” as it related to his skull, not realizing I was high and over to the left. This is because I didn’t notice the “hair”, and I subconsciously saw the mask as good guy, and avoided it.

Sweet Daughter had her Crickett and decided not to use the bi-pod this time, firing it from the shoulder. When all was said and done, all 40 shots ended up on the paper. She was tickled. At one point she was a bit frustrated by the chest shots. SH explained how the heart shot would have killed him, and how the shoulder shot would have disabled him. “But Daddy!” she said, “That won’t work. Everybody knows you have to shoot a zombie in the head to kill it!”

Sweet Daughter with her war face.
 Smart girl.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Photo of the habit.

I was fortunate to have run into Richard Nadeau (a real photographer!) at Colonial Williamsburg. He was kind enough to take some photos of me in my riding habit. He is in the middle of a major move, but took the time to dig out a computer so he could email me this.

Thanks again, Richard, and if you're reading this, I hope to see you in Williamsburg again next year!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Merida Costume

Sweet Daughter has been consumed with all things “Brave” since we saw it in the theater this summer, and she decided that’s who she wanted to be for Halloween. I’d started collecting bits and pieces before I went into hyper-drive on my riding habit, so I had the teal colored velour (thanks, eBay!) and the dark brown suede shoes (thanks, eBay!) when I decided to get down to business this week.

Photo found here, the Pixar Wiki site. 
You see … there was a party last night and she wanted to go, so I had to get busy.

You know what the hardest part was? Deciding where I was willing to cut corners because it was JUST A COSTUME. Quit laughing. You know who you are.

Yes, I researched it. I looked at still shots of the movie. I zoomed in on the details trying to figure out what it was they were basing her gown on. (And, no, it couldn’t have been the fancy one, it had to be the “everyday” dress.) Now, medieval fashion is not in any way my strong point, but I could tell that there was some kind of dress over some sort of shirt/shift/chemise thing. But what to do for the gown? Then it occurred to me. I’d made this tunic for a co-worker this summer. What if I just cut it floor length? And made it with different sleeves? Then the shift-thing could poke out in the gaps, and hopefully look like the movie.

So, where to start? When in doubt, go with what you know, so I grabbed the Mill Farm shift directions that are included with their girl’s 18thcentury gown pattern and lengthened the sleeves so they’d fit over the bend of the elbow and still come down to the wrist and end in a 1” ruffle. I cut them sideways so the neat selvedge edge of the muslin (yes, cotton muslin. Go ahead, say it …) would act as the hem. I used bias tape for the casing for the elastic (I know, I’m still twitching from the experience), inserted the elastic, and sewed up the arm seams. I cut the body out of the remaining width of muslin and didn’t even bother to cut in an A-line. (I know, I was living dangerously at this point, and there was no looking back.) I measured the width from the point of shoulder to where I wanted the neckline to be, and everything in the middle got cut out for the neckline (2” deep in back, 3” deep in front). I added a ruffle of some pre-pleated ruffle thing found at our local Micro-Walmart (had I been thinking, I would have cut the shift 1 1/4” narrower, and used the selvedge from the other side), some more bias tape and elastic, and I had a neck casing. Add sleeve gussets, sleeves and hem, and done in 90 minutes.


For the gown, I started with a mock-up. I measured her chest and waist, and the distance from her waist, up over her shoulder, and down her back to her … waist. I cut a piece of scrap fabric out that long and folded it in half. I added some width for ease and seam allowance, and cut an A-line shape along those measurements and sewed up the sides, leaving room for the armholes. I cut a + just big enough for her head to poke through, and tried it on over the shift. I pinned the shoulder seam, drew where the armholes should be, and marked the neckline. I also fit the sleeve pieces that were cut to her arm measurements (plus seam allowance). I marked the hem, and the shape of the upper sleeve, and then went to work on the teal velour.


I bought two yards off of eBay – they were already cut, when meant the gown wasn’t going to be any longer than about 36”. Luckily, that was just about right so SD could run around without tripping. I cut the main panels from two rectangles of fabric, and then transferred the shaping from the mock-up. From the remaining fabric, I cut 4 triangular gores, making sure the nap on the triangles went the same way as the gown. I cut a slit up the center of the front and back rectangles, and inserted a gore in each one, and one on each side.

Center front gore

Then I finished the rest of the side seams, hemmed the armholes and neckline, and had SD try it on. To say she was happy with it was an understatement.

How I love eBay!
The sleeve pieces I cut without any ease, as the velour had some stretch, and I wanted them to stay in place. I sewed some 1” wide tubes out of the scraps and used those to connect the sleeves together and attached them to the gown.

A friend of SD’s had bought a Merida costume which actually came with a wig. Since the friend already had perfectly long, curly red hair, she gave SD the wig. Add leather shoes, and a bow and arrow left over from her birthday party and she was all set.

Add a cape made from a yard of gray fleece cut into a half circle and you're ready for the cold.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Uber Project

About two years ago, I got the crazy idea of making an 18th century woman’s riding habit. Not just any habit, but one based on a regimental uniform as seen worn by Lady Worsley and Mrs. John Montressor. I started collecting the bits and pieces needed, and in June I got started. I debuted it this past weekend in Williamsburg. Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures as we’re not supposed to be seen with a camera in our hand while in 18th century clothing. I’m hoping to get more pictures, but this will have to do for now.

Sweet Daughter looks sad because she had just shut a very heavy door on two of her fingers. We've got it wrapped in ice.
I did have a brief “Oh … crap” moment while on my way to the Commander’s Meeting on Saturday morning. You see, we turned our coats for “Prelude to Victory” that weekend, and were portraying Continentals and I was wearing red. Bright, screaming, lobster-back red. But you know what? Not one single person asked me why all weekend. Not only that, the Continental Guard posted on the Wythe House came to “present arms” not once, but twice when I walked by. It must have been the epaulettes. Or something. Because (1) I was a woman, and therefore could not possibly have rank, and (2) I was in a red. Even his Excellency, General Washington (and his staff) took note of me and gave a polite nod in passing.

I call that a win.


While strolling around town, I had a brief squee moment when I ran into Lauren from The American Duchess. I don’t spend as much time on the costume blogs, but I recognized her from a tutorial she did on hedgehog hairstyles. I believe I blurted out “HEY! You have a BLOG!” Classy, no? Anyhow, she looked fantastic, and was very polite as we compared notes on seaming techniques. And I seriously covet her silk stockings.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Musket BOLO

I know this isn't an area of expertise for the majority who stop by here (myself included), but while poking around your local funshows, please be on the lookout for two muskets stolen from east Tennessee in mid-September.
The first is a Japanese 42” barrel reproduction Brown Bess, with black sling, repaired crack in wrist, missing side plate, and missing bayonet lug – it’s been well used for over 30 years.
The second is a 36” .62 barrel officer's fusil, with curly maple stock, black sling, and St. Andrew device in lieu of escutcheon plate, also a reproduction.

I don't know the owner of these personally, but saw the notice and thought I'd pass it along. If you have any information, please contact
Paul Pace at
I've requested pictures, and will post them if they are available.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Guess who I met?

I heard that Larry Corriea was going to be at Ft. Belvoir signing books today. None of my other hoplorati friends from the area could commit to going, so Sweet Daughter and I made plans to make the trip ourselves. I planned carefully – I called to make sure a civilian could get in, I programmed my Garmin, printed out back-up directions and chose my outfit carefully.  Yes. When one is meeting a New York Times best-selling author, one wants to make an impression. You know where this is going, don’t you?
I wore the werewolf shoes.
We got at the PX right at noon, and we went in. Yes, I wore the almost 6” werewolf shoes at an army post PX at lunchtime. (My inner introvert is still hiding in the closest, angsting “Why? Oh whhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?”) I recognized Larry right away – and who was standing there but MsgtB who said something along the lines of “It’s Nancy.”  
Okay. So he is that tall.
And Larry Freakin’ Corriea stood up, shook my hand and called me by name.  Larry Freakin’ Correia knew who I was – or at least remembered my name from Monster Hunter Alpha where I was red-shirted but didn’t die.  You know all the nice things people say about Larry? They’re not exaggerating. And it’s clear that he adores his family. He showed us pictures and shared stories. He signed books, he signed a red shirt for me, he took dozens of pictures. He even signed this.

This is MsgtB’s hoplorati hat. I know that I’ll catch hell for outing him as a thoughtful and decent guy, but he had Larry sign his hat for me, as he didn’t know if I’d be able to make it  to the signing or not. Damned nice of him, even if he did mention in the very same breath that I be handing over my hoplorati  hat to him in exchange.

Sweet Daughter hung out while we adults bored her nigh unto distraction, but she was very well behaved. Larry even commented on it and mentioned that his 7-year-old would have been setting things on fire by this point. I have to admit, I was very conflicted. On one hand, I was quite proud of how SD was behaving. On the other, I had a brief moment of self-doubt as a parent. SD wasn’t setting things on fire. Was I doing something wrong? Was I neglecting her education in some way? I think this will make up for it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Honoring our war dead

Remember the story of the partial remains of our troops being incinerated and dumped in a landfill?
On Sunday, September 23 at 4:00 in the afternoon, a plaque will be dedicated to honor the memory and sacrifice of at least 274 service members of all branches who died in combat. Sweet Daughter and I plan on being there. Let us know if we should look for you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Officially Hoplorati

EDITED TO ADD: Buy your own here!

I know I am, because I have a hat that says so. I was not having the best day yesterday – at least not until I opened the mail and found a gift from Broken Andy. This is now my most favorite hat ever. It marks me as one of the Hoplorati without scaring the hoplophobes.  And I’m touched and honored that Andy thought enough of me to send me one.


There, MSgtB. Will this do?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Busy, busy, busy

I'm working on an insanely ambitious project. I don't want to give out too many details lest I jinx myself, but here is Part 1 (I've heard it called a neck stock, a roller, a cravat ... I just know it's about 5" 5 feet long and has a rolled hem all the way around.) and Part 4 - an 18th century riding habit shirt.

1/8" narrow hems? Check. Stroked gathers? Check. Flat felled seams? Check. Button links for the cuffs? Check. All hand-sewn except for the long seams under the arms and up the sides? Check. Skin missing from the middle of my needle-pushing finger? Check.

Parts 3 and 4 are in progress. Maybe I'll post pictures as I go along ...

Test fitting the patterns for Parts 5 and 6 have begun. Part 7 should be the easy one. (HAHAHAH.)

Oh, and it needs to be done by Columbus Day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Regal Entertanment Group assures your safety!

Really! They said so!

It started last Friday when I e-mailed REG to ask about their firearms policy. The front doors of the local theater weren't posted, and there was nothing on their website prohibiting firearms (but their "no outside food or drink" rules were quite clear). However, after standing in line for tickets, I saw the old handgun silhouette with the circle/slash up on their ticket window. I emailed them asking what their policy was, and if it was a "no gun zone" to please make it a little more apparent by posting the main entrance doors and state their policy on their website.

This morning I received the following:

August 08, 2012

Dear Ms. R.:

Thank you for taking the time to communicate your concerns regarding our facility security policies. Please understand that Regal Entertainment Group, with the assistance of safety experts and law enforcement personnel, has developed policies and procedures designed to provide the safest environment for our guests and employees. Rest assured these policies and procedures are not designed with the intent to inconvenience or otherwise cause hardship to our guests. However, we believe these policies appropriate to assure the general safety of all guests and employees.

Please note all law enforcement officers, whether on or off duty, are exempt from our gun prohibition policy in the theatre, as long as they identify themselves as such either by display of a badge or other identification upon request.

Again, thank you for taking the time to advise us of your concerns.

Customer Relations Department
Operational Services
Regal Entertainment Group

So after much deletion of sarcasm ( I didn't say I got it it all ...), I replied with:

So you are saying that Regal Entertainment Group can assure my safety under any conditions within your theaters? Boy, I bet that CineMark had thought of that! Think of all the lives that would have been saved.
I find it unlikely that a bad guy intent on causing damage will obey your "no guns" sign any more than people intent on sneaking in their own candy will follow your "no outside food or drink" rule. The difference being that somebody with a contraband box Skittles isn't likely to cause me any harm. But then, neither is a Concealed Handgun Permit Holder. Please understand that as a Virginia CHP Holder, I have no felony or domestic violence convictions, no mental defects or disabilities, I have passed a criminal background check, and I am trained in the safe and proper use of my pistol.
The bad guys you need to worry about are the ones that ignore rules. (That's probably why they're considered "bad guys".) Not just your paper sign, but the rules of society. Surely any reasonable person can understand that someone who is willing to break the law to harm others isn't going to be stopped by a piece of paper. Even my 6-year-old understands that concept.
Please reconsider your "no firearms" policy. Until then, I will be taking my business elsewhere and asking my friends to do the same. I understand that even using social media, that's not going to be a drop in the bucket to REG. But to those of us who like to keep ourselves and our families safe, it's important.
Nancy R.
P.S. You never did address my original message which had little to do with your handgun policy, but rather with posting the front door and the corporate web site instead of hiding your "no guns" sign back on the ticket booth where it couldn't be seen until one had stood in line to buy their tickets.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Remember the "My First Car" Meme?

John over at My First Car has been bugging me for pictures ever since he asked if he could share the story of "Mr. Valiant". Well, I found some. They're over here (scroll to the bottom) if you want to see nerdy Nancy at age 18. And if the link to the portable TV isn't working, try this one.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Loose Woman Brownies

Slutty Brownies - or, as Alan calls them, Floozy Brownies. These are currently making the rounds on the interwebz, and the recipe I saw consisted of chocolate cookie mix spread in the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan topped with a layer of Oreos and those topped by a brownie mix and baked.

They looked interesting, but it just made SO MANY. I thought they’d be better made from scratch as did everyone else and their brother. I also thought they might work baked in muffin tins. Today while I was at a Big Box Store I saw “snack size” mixes and thought I could give a small batch a try.

I used Betty Crocker snack Chocolate Chip Cooke Mix and Duncan Hines Snack Size Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix because those were my only snack size choices.

I got out 12 cupcake liners and lined some muffin tins. I made the cookie mix according to directions and added a little extra water so the dough wasn’t so stiff. I added about a tablespoon of dough to each liner (it made 10) and then pressed it down with an Oreo and left the Oreo on top. Then I mixed up the brownie mix and added another tablespoon to the top of each cookie. This left a little brownie mix left over, so the last two muffin cups were filled with a tablespoon of brownie mix, then an Oreo, and then another tablespoon of brownie mix.

These were baked for about 15 minutes. Make sure you DO NOT over-bake them. The brownie should be gooey, and the cookie on the bottom will still be soft.

I thought they were good. Not ZOMG AWESOME TO DIE FOR BEST THING EVAR! Personally, I found them to be neither fish, nor fowl, nor good red meat (metaphorically speaking). I’d rather have Toll House Cookies (made from the 1930’s recipe, thank-you-very-much) or chewy gooey brownies on their own. I don’t see that the Oreo adds much … but the snack-sized mixes make a reasonable amount, the cupcake liners are good portion control, and they will take care of that craving for sweets you’ve got.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I know, I know.

I am LONG overdue for a post. But it’s not like I’ve been sitting around all this time. Well, not much.

This spring, I decided I needed a new camp bed. My prototype had a couple of issues, and I thought I could improve upon my design.  So I sat down with a pencil and an index card and played around with some numbers, taught Sweet Daughter how to select lumber, and then went and cut it all according to the number while visiting my sister with the table saw. I also cut down my original camp bed for SD to use. And managed to leave the headboard behind. Sigh.

I got a good start on it in April, hoping to have it done in time for the Petersburg event, but that didn’t happen.  With SD’s help, I got it put together.

And painted.

And it worked. By having three support panels instead of two, it’s easier to pack and transport. The prototype needed one simple adjustment – one of the side boards had warped, and I needed to adjust some of the hardware to account for that. It made me cringe to not have it all square and plumb and stuff, but it works. As my brother-in-law said, “Working code trumps all theory.”

Having two bedsteads in the tent makes for a narrow aisle up the middle, but there is a ton of storage under them. And if it rains, I don’t have to worry about drying out wet bedding. No, they are not accurate, but if you happen to seem from outside the tent, they pass. And they’re a heck of a lot better that a cot from a Dead-Animal-Head-on-the-Wall store.

The Barracks
Then there was a trip to Ft. Frederick at the end of June for the 50th Anniversary of the Brigade of the American Revolution. There weren’t as many participants as I was expecting, but it was a lovely relaxing weekend. Well, except for having to haul our gear into and out of the fort. And for where my leather shoes slipped on the dew-slicked wooden steps and I slid down a few on my shins (yes, I was holding on to the railing), but I got ice on the shins, and ingested some rum punch and felt better.

Salmungundi for lunch with fresh raspberries, beef, chicken, oranges, hardboiled eggs, mixed greens, oranges, fried chicken skin and I've forgotten the rest.
The view from the top of the fort shortly before slipping on the stairs.
The view from camp after slipping on the stairs.
I finished another gown for SD.
Tired girls.
Then it was off to the beach for a week with my sisters, which is another post. And I am starting on an insanely ambitious sewing project that is already overcome by mission creep that I refuse to jinx by typing it all out. Maybe I'll post pictures as bits get finished. I need it done by Columbus Day weekend.

More as I come up for air ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thoroughly assimilated

I went to Kohl’s yesterday to spend some “Kohl’s Cash”, use a 20% off coupon, oh, and another $15 in cash cards. I figured I buy something I wouldn’t ordinarily get for myself. An impractical dress, or high-thread-count sheets, or an expensive piece of cookware, but I kept striking out. The dress that I sort of liked didn’t fit, the bedding was the wrong color, the cookware just wasn’t what I was looking for, and so on.

Frustrated to the point of tears (I really wanted a pretty dress that would magically make me look 10 years younger and 20 lbs. lighter … I don’t know what the problem was), I grabbed something useful and headed out the door.

Shorter Half listened to my brief explanation of the unsuccessful trip. “So what did you end up getting?” he asked. I showed him the package and he burst out laughing.

My $4.19 set of kitchen knives.

Subconscious at work … buying more blades.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

“I have become what I beheld”

When I started hanging out and reading gun blogs, I’d notice the posts about knives and other stabbity things, and think “Well isn’t that nice. Another pocket knife. How many does a person need? What’s up with that?”

My dad used to carry what he called a “pen knife”. It was just a regular old folding pocket knife with either some wood or horn on the handle. I’m sure he used it for more, but I primarily remember him using it for sharpening pencils, opening envelopes and for slicing up apples and other things he wasn’t supposed to bite into because of his dentures.

Michael W. (Cutler to the Stars!) had a box of blades he’d acquired over the years and offered one to me. I chose a small Leatherman and threw it in my purse. I don’t think I’ve ever used anything other than the scissors, and that was mostly to cut tags and labels from recent purchases. I tried carrying around a little folding knife in my jeans pocket on the weekends and promptly lost it as it popped out of the stupid shallow pockets when I sat down. No great loss.

Then Shorter Half gave me a little Gerber Paraframe.  It had a clip on it so it stayed put when I clipped it to my pocket. It would ride around in my pocket for the weekend, used once in a while, like when I opened a recalcitrant package at a baby shower, or for sharpening a pencil.  Or so I thought.

Then I misplaced the Paraframe and my world collapsed a little bit. Dang, I had no idea how often I’d been using that knife while gardening. Or opening letters. Or cutting thread or yarn. Or just opening just about anything purchased in the toy department that has a zillion clips and wires and just plain crap involved in the packaging. I found my hand reaching down for the non-existent knife a lot more than I ever remember using one. After mourning for a week, I made a list of what I didn’t like about the Paraframe – namely that it took two hands to open. So I hopped over to Brownell’s and make a selection. I looked for something with assisted opening, was small, didn’t have “tactical” in the name, had a clip, and was under $30.

Somehow, without knowing it, I have become assimilated. I have become what I beheld. And two hours after the knife from Brownell’s arrived, I found the Paraframe. Clearly, my subconscious is working overtime getting me to buy more blades.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kid Shoot I, 2012

I don’t know who ordered the weather, but dang. It was perfect. In the 70’s with warm sun and a cool breeze.  Broken Andy brought an inflatable bouncy thing which was a stroke of genius as far as letting kids (especially the ones that traveled more than 10 miles) work off some energy before settling down to break things with pellets.

JB Miller brought a box of clays and wire coat hangers and did some wire origami magic and made a cool hanging clay holder thing that I didn’t get any pictures of. This, along with some balloons, some hanging soda cans, some soda cans on a ledge, and a couple of store-bought reactive targets made up “the range’.

There were 11 adults, all told and 10 kids. 6 of the kids belonged to gunnie-type parents, and 4 were classmates of Sweet Daughter’s. Michael W. (Cutler to the Stars) started things off by letting the kids handle a tomato and note the resemblance to their own selves – a skin covering firm, yet kind of squishy insides. Then he promptly shot it with a pellet pistol and showed them the damage and explained that shooting a person would do the same thing, so don’t do it.
"Ve have veys of making you talk ..."

The kids came and went on the range, taking turns with a grown-up helping them out, and playing on the swing set and sandbox when they weren’t waiting. It seemed to go really well, and I don’t think there was a kid there that didn’t have a grin of accomplishment at one point or another. 

The adults got their chance as well, and I may have another mom hooked on the idea of shooting. After getting the hang of the pellet rifle, she pointed at my pistol and asked if she could shoot that as well. I explained that there wasn’t a safe place in my little yard to do so, but that there was talk of getting a “Mom Shoot” together for beginners and she should really come to that. I kept a calm and neutral tone, but inwardly I was jumping up and don’t clapping my hands yelling “WE’VE GOT ANOTHER ONE!!!”
Then there was the food. Oh, my goodness, the food. Everybody brought stuff. There were burgers and hot dogs. Michael W. took Vidalia onions, quartered them and wrapped them in bacon, secured with a toothpick. And then he grilled them over low heat.



Mr. A Girl brought deviled eggs and cupcakes. There was pumpkin crunch. There was rainbow Jell-O. And for party favors, there were little chocolate revolvers.

But guess who the one kid was who didn’t shoot? Sweet Daughter. After everyone except JB Miller and his lovely wife had left, she said “HEY! You didn’t call me up to shoot!” I replied that she never asked to shoot, and I wasn’t going to have her perform like a trained monkey if she wasn’t interested. JB graciously donated his leftover clays and high-tech hangers and she had at it.

All in all, I think it was a successful event. The kids were all well behaved and considering that there was a wide range of ages, all interacted very well with each other. The adults seemed to enjoy the afternoon almost as much as the kids did.

In the lessons learned section, I think having activities other than shooting for the kids to do was key. While we had a ratio of almost one kid per adult (an it seemed to work well), but I think it would work with fewer adults. Reactive targets are the only way to go, and I think the ones that make some noise (plink, pop, crack) as well as visibly changing form when hit were the most popular. We had hand wipes down on the firing line to use after handling pellets. We had plenty of inexpensive shooting glasses to pass around. We had name tags. While I was still riding a wave of adrenaline that evening I said I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Two days later, I don't think my opinion has changed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The 20th Anniversary

… of my 29th birthday.

Sweet Daughter gave me a Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete, in tacti-kewl black with the 17" blade (now with 20% more Mall Ninja!) Ostensibly, it’s for keeping the vine-covered slope between the yard and the road cleared, but I think it will come in handy for a visual aid once she’s dating.

“Hi, Mrs. R. Is SD home?”

“Yes, she’ll be down in just a minute.”

(With SD not being there to divert him yet, his attention will be drawn to the Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete with some of the black paint missing, a few dents in the 17" blade, but still with 20% more Mall Ninja! positioned across my lap.)

“Um, ma’am, can I help you with that?”

“No thank you. I’m just cleaning the blood off the blade before it does any damage.”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another Kid Shoot update

So, I was checking Sweet Daughter’s homework this morning before it was turned in. One of the assignments was to use her spelling words in a sentence.

“I’m having a kid shoot.”

Yeah. No way that could possibly be misinterpreted, right? I fired off a quick email to her teacher explaining that we were teaching kids to shoot BB and pellet guns safely, and that we had a retired policeman and firearms instructor managing the firing line, and that SD was not actually planning on shooting kids. She got back to me, laughing, saying she’d been hearing all about this event for some time, and that she understood my house was finally getting cleaned up.


In case you are on the fence about attending, it’s Saturday, June 2nd, in my backyard, starting around 2:00. Email me if you need more details. There will be gunnies, non-gunnies, future gunnies and what sounds like lots of food. The weather is supposed to be beautiful.A high of 77 degrees, mostly sunny and no rain. But don't believe SD about the state of the house.

And, it’s open carry weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kid Shoot Update

Yeah, yeah. As in letting the kids shoot, not shooting the kids. Now that I’ve got the disclaimer out of the way …

We’re still planning on June 2, rain date June 3. Michael W., retired L.E.O., firearms instructor and Cutler to the Stars® will be here, and I’ve had at least one other adult offer to come by and lend a hand. There’s pellet gun fun to be had, a swing set, a sprinkler to run through, and a grill for a post-shoot cookout.

Sweet Daughter’s BFF will be here along with the rest of her family. Our neighbor and his son hope to show up, and Broken Andy plans on coming with his kids. I tentatively mentioned the event to a couple of other local moms and I was surprised at the enthusiastic response. That weekend is already booked for them, but the asked if they could attend the next one, and two moms have stated that *they* want to learn to shoot as well.

So, if you’re interested (with, or without kids), let me know and I’ll get you directions and details.

Oh, and rumor has it there may be a cake. Or something with candles. Lots and lots of candles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Open Carry Weekend Reminder and my 2 cents

Just a reminder that OC weekend is coming up June 2-3.

It seems there is a segment of the gunnie population that is against Open Carry, and a few of them quite vociferously so. I was going to add my 2 cents to the discussion (echo chamber?) when I realized that I can’t do it as well as Linoge, or the comments here , or Robb, or a bunch of others, and it doesn’t matter.

While some will bemoan my lack of “training”, Sweet Daughter will be explaining to a kid in Target who wanted to know “why that lady has a gun” that I wear a gun to keep her safe.  Others will assume I must be an “attention whore” and I wear a gun in order to start conversations. That being said, if you're staring at my gun which just happens to be next to my left boob and you hurriedly complement the azalea in my shopping cart (directly in front of my left boob) as a way to prove you weren't really staring at my gun or my boob, I will respond in a pleasant manner even though I really didn’t notice you staring because I just want to check out and go home. And no, I’m not just waiting for my opportunity to engage in “ass-clownery” so I can pump my fist in the air and yell “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!!” when in fact I’m a raging introvert that just wants to do my errands in safety.

I have my own reasons to OC and I’m very thankful that I live in a part of the world where I can do so.  If there are those that don’t like OC, then by all means – don’t do it. I’ll make a deal with you – I won’t tell you what do to, and you don’t tell me what to do. Because I don’t remember asking your opinion, and I certainly don’t need your permission.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gardening attempts

Or, if you throw enough crap at the wall, some is bound to stick.

I have a bit of a dark brown thumb. Gardening is not my thing. I basically stick stuff in the ground, threaten it,  and if it dies, I rip it out and may or may not try again. But this year I finally succumbed to Sweet Daughter’s request for a bigger garden plot. Her current space is about 24” x 24” -- small enough to weed and water while waiting for the school bus. But she wanted more.

It started with the sunflowers. And that meant finding a place to put them (how about in the corner of the yard by the 6’ tall section of fence?). Which meant digging up the blasted Bermuda grass and the Virginia Creeper, and putting down some real dirt, and a landscaping timber or two. The discounted tulips that were past their best at Easter? Why not? They were cheap. Then there were the extra annuals for the containers in the front of the house. And then a Black-Eyed Susan was strategically placed in front of the great gaping hole in the boxwood. And, holy cow, those Crape Myrtles sure do grow quickly. These came up from a long forgotten network of roots, popping up during a dry spell one summer when the grass wasn’t growing. Violets were transplanted from my sister’s farm so we’ll always have part of it at our house. A $1 pack of “wildflower” seeds meant knocking together something resembling a raised bed so they could contained. Luckily there’s a pile of old timbers from the previous owners, or that would have ended up being a $20 pack of seeds.

And we can't forget the marigold that SD coveted and earned by helping the "Plant Lady" at our last reenactment.
Then there are the redbuds. I love redbud trees, and I seem to find a volunteer each year that gets painstaking transplanted, and invariably mowed over. (Call it aggressive pruning.) Well, I’ve moved two so far this spring, found a third, and the one that got mowed flat last year is coming back. So far, so good.
And then I discovered the “scratch and dent” section in the nursery at Lowes. Why not? I’d rather kill a $5 blueberry bush than a $10 one (and after killing 4 in the past few years, these are both are doing very well, thank-you-very-much). And that’s when SD saw the raspberries. “Momma! Look! Raspberries! You love raspberries! Think of the money you’ll save!” I grabbed one, liked the price and put it on the cart. Then the nice gentleman with the mullet and muscle shirt came running over with two more. (No, I have no idea what that was about.)  I managed to resurrect the Catawba grape that got mowed last year. I planted a Carolina Jasmine to cover the chain-link fence. I started some morning glories from seed. I put in some more herbs. I put an azalea in under an oak tree where it’s hard to mow. I pruned back and Shorter Half moved about 20 Barberry bushes to the other side of the fence, closer to the road.
SD got a larger section of flower garden, and plants were procured. Seeing Breda’s tomatoes shamed me into planting a couple of my own. Roma? Safe. Then I picked a variety at random … a Jet Star. Low acid, good for eating and cooking, it said. I got it home and read the fine print. Grows four to six feet tall. Really? Any suggestions on what to use for a tomato cage or should I just ask what what caliber? Attack of the killer tomatoes is right.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

O/C Marketing Fail

I try to be a good ambassador when I O/C. I make an effort to not look like a slob, or to act like I’m anything but a safe, sane, typical person. Last Sunday, I failed in that endeavor.

I’d been working in the yard all day, digging holes, pruning, weeding, sowing, transplanting, hauling water, you name it. I had to run to Wally World to pick up some mulch and some groceries, so I took a break and headed out. I did not change clothes, or even apply lip gloss. My pants were dirty, and my arms were so scratched from cutting back the barberry bushes, I looked like I’d been cutting myself. I got home, unloaded the car and got back to work only to realize I’d worn this shirt,

At least this part was on the back.
 and this hat.

Yeah. I'll try really hard not to do that again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kid Shoot

As in kids shooting, not shooting kids.

At the NoVA get-together in Stafford at the end of April, the topic of “Take your Daughter to the Range Day” came up. To sum up a long, convoluted conversation, the following were observed …

Some ranges have an age limit due to insurance regulations, and so young kids can’t shoot.

Getting kids started with a pellet gun means you don’t have to wear hearing protection, and so instruction is easier.

An adult can grab the barrel of a pellet gun (or pellet pistol) to maintain muzzle control without worrying about injury.

Targets can be hung at a more appropriate height and distance, and they can be reactive.

Pellet guns, with a proper backstop can be shot in the backyard.

There was more, but you get the idea ...

So, is anybody interested in a Kid Shoot? The date that was kicked around was the first weekend in June (plan on Saturday, rain date for Sunday). Michael W. (retired LEO and firearms instructor) said he’d come up and lend a hand, and JB Miller has a couple of pellet guns and found a really cool target. Sweet Daugter even volunteered to share her purple pistol.
Sweet Daughter, age 4, first time shooting

I could host it here* -- there’s a place to set up in the shade, a swing-set, and BrokenAndy volunteered to bring an inflatable bouncy thing so the kids have something to do in between turns shooting because I’m not anticipating long attention spans.  Frequent changes in activity, yes-- sort of like squirrels on meth. We could wrap up with the adults taking a turn or two, and throwing stuff on the grill.  I’m sure that if this is successful, there will be other ones planned before the summer is over.

I’m open to suggestions – let me know if you might be interested in coming (with or without kids) at dethosp@gmail.com.

*I’m about a half hour from Fredericksburg, VA, about an hour from the north side of Richmond, and about 45 minutes from Waldorf, MD.