Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sew, what's with Appleseed?

I lurk on several 18th century-based Yahoo groups. A couple of weeks ago a woman stopped by one of them and said that she volunteered with the Appleseed Project, mentioned that they teach marksmanship and the history of April 19. 1775, and that she was putting together a farmer's wife outfit for telling her history lesson. Hey! I knew about Appleseed! Sort of. A little. I contacted kyjam off-list and offered to help her out. We e-mailed back and forth about what she needed to do, and when we realized there was no way she was going to get everything done in time for her shoot on September 11th, I decided to box up a bunch of clothing I wasn’t using at the moment and send it to her. Because it’s all about me, you see. I don’t want the 2A/gunnie crowd looking like idiots to us living history types, and I don’t want the living history types coming across as snobby to us 2A/gunnie types. See? It’s all about ME not wanting to look bad. Really. So tonight I took an apron I made (takes off shoes count), um, 15? 16? years ago when I didn't know any better, and fixed the too-wide waistband and too-wide pleats. I took off the 1 ¼” linen band and ties, and repleated it using ½” pleats, bound it in linen tape, and added 3/8” apron strings. Now I just need to put ties on a straw hat and get it all out the door.

Too wide wasitband and ties on the left, new wasitband across the top of the pleats, and new apron strings on the right.

Between kyjam and Rattail Bastard, I think I’m being talked into this whole Appleseed thing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quilt update

So that “Quilts of Valor” thing? Yeah. I didn’t go subtle for the first one. It’s red, white and blue. It's cliché.  The more artistic one I had planned? I came up with a different design, and I’m reworking it in my head. It’s going to drive me mad. But, as usual, I digress.

I love the concept of a patchwork quilt – you use scraps of fabric that aren’t useful for anything else by cutting them into pieces and stitching them together into something useful, and usually quite beautiful. The process I learned was to make templates for the shapes you need and trace around them onto the back of your fabric, leaving enough room to then add a quarter inch seam allowance. After marking each piece twice (sewing line and cutting line), you cut each piece out, then carefully line up your stitching lines, and start sewing. I never managed to get the hang of machine piecing – I can’t get the corners to match up the way I want them to.

So, getting back to construction of the quilt top. Making a quilt out of scraps is a great idea. I can even wrap my head around why you would want to go out and buy perfectly good fabric so you can cut it up create a specific pattern of color and line. What I can not do, is cut up a square of fabric simply so I can then cut it into 4 triangles and sew them back together into a square. So I’m not doing it. So there. For someone that tries to reproduce original sewing techniques when possible, this alternately causes me to feel like a rebel and a loser. I find I’m getting over it pretty quickly.

See those blue triangles? There are 160 in this quilt. See the white square? If this were being contructed in a traditional manner, they'd be made out of four triangles sewn together. See the red square? There are only 20 of those. I haven't counted the white triangles. I don't think I want to know.

You can see the yellow lines for cutting and sewing. And the penny is there for scale. I like using a small needle. It makes it easier to make small stitches.

I estimate I'm 5% done so far.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just don't start calling me Gecko45

Due to the fact that Sweet Daughter was coming down with a cold on Friday night, neither she nor I slept well that night. We were trying to take a nap yesterday - she finally fell asleep, but it took me over an hour to unwind. Just as I was drifing off, my slumber was shattered by the sound of ripping Velcro. The REPEATED sound of ripping Velcro, I might add. I stumbled down the stairs to find Shorter Half assembling some sort of rig for my Springfield XD. I gave him the evil eye and asked what in the world was he doing???

 He'd picked my pistol up from the gunsmith (got the LaserLyte installed), had added the flashlight, and was putting together a rig so I had a holster that would fit it with the light attached. The light is for use in the home, and it's easy on, easy off so I can pop it off to use with my regular carry rig.

I think I'll forgive him.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Larry Correia is offering to redshirt people in his next Monster Hunter book for good cause. I am SO doing this.

He gives the option of sending along any specific items of description that he might be able to use. (age, size, build, interesting factoids like: you’ve got a lazy eye, penchant for Mohawks, look suspiciously like Ernest Borgnine, etc.)

I need suggestions – so far I’ve come up with the fact that I’m a middle-aged office manager, my first two guns were a flintlock and matchlock, SayUncle thinks I’m 7’ tall, and that Sweet Daughter wanted a “handgun like Mommy’s” for her fourth birthday.

Got anything to add?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Local Politics

When I was in the Midwest this summer with family who don’t necessarily share my political views, the conversation inevitably turned to politics. I just kept my mouth shut as nobody was going to change anyone else’s mind, and there was no way things would have ended well.

At one point a family member said “I hate politics -- let’s change the subject. So, Nancy, how’s Shorter Half doing?”

I said, “Well, ever since he got elected to the School Board he’s been pretty busy. I don’t know if being married to a politician is supposed to better or worse than being married to a lawyer.”

At that point we decided it was time to adjourn and go to dinner.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chincoteague and Assateague

Sweet Daughter and I had the chance to meet up with some family members last week in Chincoteague. My sisters had rented a house, and we went up for some R&R for a couple of days. The house was right on the edges (several edges, actually) of wetland, and the views were gorgeous. The mosquitoes were the size of small hummingbirds, and you couldn’t open your car door without the little buggers swarming in to greet you. We even brought a bunch home with us – apparently we were the transport for some sort of insect foreign exchange program.

View from the bathroom

View from the deck.

In the morning, we’d get up bright and early and drive over to Assateague to spend the day at the beach. It’s a lovely place, very clean, with lots of “facilities”, changing rooms, and showers. We saw ponies. We saw dolphins. I relaxed. SD got her life jacket strapped on because she has no fear of the water. She’d start out with her favorite sport of jumping over the incoming tide. The lead to many, many instances of one wave sucking the sand out from under her feet as she landed just as an incoming wave would rush in and knock her end over end. This didn’t seem to bother her much, but when she tired of it, she picked up shells, made sandcastles, and has a wonderful time.

Wild ponies on Assateague

Sweet Daughter shows off her glitter Care Bear (temporary) tattoo.

The second night we picked up an ice cream cake from DQ. SD asked “I wonder what it tastes like?” My sister answered “It tastes like Pooh!” And it went downhill from there.

We spent two hours one evening riding the trolley in circles around Chincoteague, much to SD’s delight. We got ice cream, saw the Misty statue, and bought t-shirts. The town has managed to retain its identity, and hasn’t sold out to the tourism trade, which is nice to see.

Misty statue

After 3 ½ days of blissful relaxation, the 200 mile (and 5 hour!!) drive home blew it all to hell. So much for relaxed, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

SD and my sister.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Multifocal contacts update

After three weeks, I've decided that you can have them when you pry them out of my cold dead eyes. Seriously -- I can thread size 8 needles without reading glasses. I can see the computer screen. I can read the labels off of soup cans. I can read the newspaper. They're not perfect, mind you, but they are leaps and bounds better than regular contacts plus reading glasses. Night driving is a little different -- instead of the halos I used to see around lights (headlights, street lights, etc.) I now get a brightly diffused glow. Things like reflective road signs are a little brighter, and those sodium streetlights now look cheerful instead of gloomy and sullen.

I don't know how much they cost per box (I'll find out tomorrow), but I'd sell a kidney (mine, even!) if I have to.

Monday, August 16, 2010

All things bright and beautiful

Shorter Half is one of those types who does better on massive amounts of caffeine – or other stimulant. They calm him down, slow his speech to an understandable degree, and usually limit the number of conversations he will try to carry on with you simultaneously to a reasonable number, like 2. I’m sure most of you know the type.

Well, today Sweet Daughter and I returned home after her swim class to find him opening the mail. He’d ordered a strobe-type flashlight for my pistol and was busy taking the thing out of the blister pack, putting the batteries in, and muttering some sort of stream-of-consciousness monologue about the lack of quality instructions, or lack of quality equipment, as it wasn’t working properly, when viola! A bright flashy light appeared in my peripheral vision, reflected in the hall mirror from where he was pointing it down the stairs.

He then said something like “Hey! When it gets dark out, why don’t we turn off the lights, and I’ll go to the top of the stairs and you go to the end of the hall by the front door, and I’ll turn this on, and you can tell me how annoying it is!” I declined, possibly even telling him he was out of his mind. It was bloody maddening just seeing it out of the corner of my eye in full daylight.

Moments later I turned around to see him completely mesmerized, staring into the flashing light.

Truer words were never spoken.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Women and Shotguns

She came up with the size of the typical women shooter, and more importantly their unique differences from men. Women have longer necks, different chests, smaller hands and other distinctions that clearly indicated a need for a women’s shotgun.

So Marty created a shotgun with a shortened stock and length of pull so women could reach the trigger easier. The stock took on a Monte Carlo configuration to accommodate women’s longer necks. She also made the stock toe out, providing a better fit for the female shape. Marty then added a palm swell for smaller hands. In the end, you could argue that her Valmet 512 SC of fall 2004 was the first shotgun designed by a woman for women.

Except for the smaller hands, shortened stock, and length of pull thing (I'm 74" inches across, fingertip to fingertip), I think she's got some good ideas. *grin*. Go read the whole thing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Like I don't have enough projects to do

So, in the comments of my Charities post, Linda in TX suggested that I check out Quilts of Valor. I used to quilt – that’s how I learned to sew by hand. Miles, and miles by hand… *grin*.

I sort of tucked it away in the back of my mind until I got home from work today and I found a minute to start paging through my quilting books. I wanted to do something patriotic that wasn’t cliché. Not that there’s anything wrong with cliché, I just wanted to come up with something original and a little low-key. I found a block that triggered an idea, and I think I’m good to go. Now, I just have to wait for the math side of my brain to kick in so I can calculate the size of the blocks and how much fabric I’m going to need.

I want to include a rather long quote that will run across the horizontal strips between the blocks. Other than embroidering it by hand, anybody got any ideas on the best way to do this? Fabric marker? (Not my first choice, I have crappy handwriting.) I’d like to do it in 18th century-style script but I don’t know what my options are. I’m pretty good with 18th century sewing technology, but I don’t even know what’s out there for the 21st century.

UPDATE: Ooooh! Thanks to Bob S. in comments, I poked around a bit and found I can allegedly use an inkjet printer. I'll check in to this ....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another one

For the blog roll. Double Trouble, who has me seriously considering becoming a contender for the "who traveled the farthest for the next NE Blogershoot" prize. I wonder if he even remembers offering to let me fire his gun? I haven't forgotten. *grin*

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


You’ve probably noticed that Sweet Daughter has been thinking about “Camouflage People” a lot this summer. On the way in to daycare this morning, I told her that CP’s have a pretty crummy job – some have to live far away from home and their friends and families, and some are in a place that’s even hotter than it is here (99 degrees today), and they live in tents, and it’s really dusty, and it's dangerous, and they do it all for not very much money. Tonight at dinner she asked me if she could send some of her allowance to them so they could feel better.

So, what are your favorite charities that benefit service members?

About to depart on her first airplane trip (that she remembers, anyway), SD is distracted from mugging for the camera just as the shutter clicks. She has spied a CP, and he must be addressed. "Thanks for keeping us safe!" she calls, while waving to get his attention.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Can't argue with that!

As I may have mentioned before, Sweet Daughter loves cats. Shorter Half is allergic to them (so a pet cat is out of the question), but SD includes cats in her life when she can. There are two cats at daycare. She talks about teaching “cat school (I have no idea. I just smile and make encouraging noises.) She often meows at me when she wants something. When asked her name, she responds with Firstname Middlenname Lastname-Cat. She thinks that Breda, who shoots, works in a library, and HAS CATS (trifecta!) is someone whom mere mortals can only dream about emulating.

So, back at the age of 3 1/2, she drew this picture of a cat. She very carefully pointed out everything she included when she showed it to me.
Yes, that is one scary-a$$ cat. She ought to sic THAT on the Big Bad Wolf. Click for big.

She carefully pointed out the ears, eyes, nose, whiskers, mouth, teeth, tummy and two legs.

When I asked here where the other two legs were (I mean with such exacting attention to detail, what was up with only two legs??), she sighed, barely suppressed an eye-roll and explained slowly, as though I were a backwards child needing extra time to comprehend a new and difficult concept, while flipping the paper over:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shotgun fun

We took the Mossberg over to The-Friends-with-75-Acres house today to see how it shot, and so I could lose my shotgun virginity. Shorter Half measured the maximum distance in our house between the end of the hall by the bedrooms and the entry near the front hall, and paced off the distance when we got the range. At that distance (a little over 30 feet, if I remember correctly) without sights, the Mossberg shot a little high. Like maybe a hand-span. Not enough to worry about, I don't think. I did notice more decided kick than I'm used to (yes, compared to my Brown Bess …), so I think a recoil pad is in order. Oddly enough, my shoulder isn’t bothering me tonight, but the right side of my jaw is.

I also got to shoot a Remington 12 gauge. That was a slick little gun, but I like the controls on the Mossberg better.

We also did a reactive target demo for Sweet Daughter to show her what happens if you shoot something filled with a liquid … like the Big Bad Wolf.

First the soda can.

Then the gallon jug of water.

Then the TFW75A’s son shot another jug. Sorry that I moved, but you can see the water just starting to spray out.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is "accomplished"?

In Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, Miss Bingley makes the observation that (for the early 19th century):

"No one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved."

"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

Joe Huffman follows the same train of thought, starting by talking about calipers and then segues into Jeff Cooper:

Before the young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills he should acquire, apart from any state-sponsored activity. Certainly the youngster should be taught to swim, strongly and safely, at distance. And young people of either sex should be taught to drive a motor vehicle, and if at all possible, how to fly a light airplane. I believe a youngster should be taught the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat, unarmed, together with basic survival skills. The list is long, but it is a parent's duty to make sure that the child does not go forth into the world helpless in the face of its perils. Shooting, of course, is our business, and shooting should not be left up to the state.

Austen may seem silly compared to Cooper, but if a parent’s duty is to make sure their children are prepared to face the perils of the world, then Austen’s definition certainly made it more likely for a woman to “marry well” which was sort of the same thing at the time.

Considering "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading" is a given, what do you consider an essential skill to be considered one who greatly surpasses what is usually met with?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


While waiting for my bifocals (thanks, Ben Franklin!) to get made, I got a trial pair of multifocal contacts. Not the monovision, with one eye used for distance, and one eye used for reading (what if my dominant eye was my distance eye? That would make using sights a bit of a challenge), but actual lenses for near and far vision. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly. I know I was expecting points between “near” and “far” to be weird, but let me just say, wow! What a pleasant surprise.

The eye doctor pretty much told me I got to pick where I wanted my near vision to focus, I chose reading distance instead of computer distance. I’d rather wear reading glasses while sitting from of the computer than have to fumble for them every time I want to read a label in the grocery store, or thread a needle. With the trial pair I have in right now, I actually read the local paper tonight in low light with no problem. I read the fine print on a coupon. The computer is a bit fuzzy, but not enough to be a problem for short periods of time.

This type of lens is supposed to be tricky to prescribe and may take six weeks to get used to, but I have to say I’m seeing better with these than the regular lenses I was wearing this morning. I haven’t had a chance to try them at night to see glare, shadows and hazy vision is a problem.

What I haven’t done is check the price on them. The sticker shock on the bifocal glasses was a bit of a surprise, so I’m sure these will be similar in gouge-factor, but I’m thinking they might just be worth it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Can anyone read this?

Michael W. received this lovely piece of Japanese art from this gentleman.

Can anyone translate for him? It was picked up (out of a trench, is that right, Mike?) in Japan during WWII.

Robert W. Snyder, Jr., 1947 - 2010

Robert W. Snyder, Jr., thank you for your service to our county. His obituary is here, please go read the whole thing. The tributes left on the guest book are also worth a look.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Blog-roll update

Wow. I’m really behind on adding people, and honestly, I don’t know where some of you are coming from. Maybe I should rephrase that to wonder why the tens of you are stopping by, unless it’s just out of sheer curiosity to see what tangent I’m taking this week. Not that I’m complaining, and I’m not fishing for reassurances, but as an unpopular kid growing up, I find it amusing that people stop by on purpose, and it’s not to try to T.P. my dad’s trees.

First of all, I am very remiss in not adding bluesun at Dead Man Dance sooner. He’s been commenting since the beginning, and has stuck with me from bayoneting pot roasts to making 18th century gingerbread to listening to me (of all newbies!) offer thoughts on carrying a concealed pistol.

I’ve added Daddy Bear’s Den with whom I have that whole “middle-aged parent” thing going on, and The Clue Meter.

Ah, and the Blazing Orange. He was one of the first bloggers I met in Charlotte before the “Agh! Too many people for me to remember!” thing hit. I know he can pick me out of a police line-up because he and Caleb were standing back-to-back checking out who was taller, just as I stood up from behind the table and tried to scoot past them. It was kind of funny, at least from my perspective, but maybe you had to be there. (And no, I’m not really 7 feet tall. Stop spreading rumors, JayG!)

Anyhow, if for some odd reason you link to this foolishness, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours let me know and I’ll reciprocate. Unless you creep me out, or something.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Three and a half months late

BAG Day. Buy a gun day.

Shorter Half just returned from The Nation's Gun Show.

He showed amazing restraint when he bypassed a Garand and an M14. Instead, he picked up a Mossberg 500. We didn’t have a shotgun, and now we do.

One reason we didn’t have one before now was because I refused to have a Chinese made one in the house. I won’t pay money to the Chinese army.

The first thing I made SH do was run upstairs to show it to Sweet Daughter who was trying to fall asleep. “See? We've got a new gun to keep us safe from the Big Bad Wolf!” He knelt outside her room, aimed down the stairs towards the front hallway, and pumped the slide. SD daughter positively cackled.

I like the safety on the top of the wrist which makes it ambidextrous. I like the lack of sights to distract me. (How do I use those again? *grin*) I did ask SH if we could put a laser sight on it -- I told him I want to put a red spot where I want the red hole to go.

I've never fired a shotgun before, but it seems very intuitive to use. I can’t wait to take it out and make it go “blammo!” Bring on the zombies!