'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

31 December 2011

Happy Election Year

Happy New Year to you all. It's been a great year and a lot of that is thanks to you. I've made some friends and had a lot of fun. Thank you sincerely.

May the new year bring you health and happiness and may the Stupid Party find a way out of the darkness and into the light of true freedom. I really want obama to be a one termer who fades into history.


30 December 2011

Cooking Things With Fire

Now a lot of you are real cooks, bakers and essentially professional level chefs. I'm just a guy who burns dead things over fire. But I do occasionally get it just right so I'm throwing this out there for any backyard BBQ aficionado. Sorry, no pictures. It vanished like smoke on a windy day. I have a gas grill but this technique will work with a charcoal one. Instead of turning off burners just make sure you have space on the grill that's away from the direct heat and have a means to cover it.

Mesquite Tri Tip

I bought 2 largish tri tips from Costco. I like them in the 1.5 to 2 pound range. Any bigger and you risk having a tough piece of meat. I actually like Costco's meat department because you can get some pretty fresh beef from them. Tri Tip is best done with as fresh as you can get.

I use a sweet Mesquite rub. I prefer rubs over marinades just because I've had better luck using them. Again, I bought the Kirkland brand and it's very good. Nice smell, good taste without being overpowering and excellent as a rub. I use Worcestershire sauce as the base for the rub and add the mesquite to taste. Rub the tri tip a few hours before cooking and let it set in the fridge. I make enough rub for the initial seasoning with enough left over for one basting and some to add in when I let the meat rest.

Set the BBQ for a medium heat and let it get all the way hot. Put on the meat and let it sear on both sides. After it's nice and brown go ahead and baste with about half of the remaining rub. My grill is three burners so I turn off the center burner and turn the other two up just enough to keep the heat at medium. Put the meat over the dead burner and let it cook indirectly for about 45 minutes. Watch the meat and don't let the exterior burn. If it's starting to blacken either turn down the heat a smidge or move the meat/coals further away.

When the active cooking is done I wrap the meat in foil and add in the rest of the rub. Seal them well. Turn off all the burners except one and set it on it's lowest setting and put the meat back on the grill, away from the burner. It's really letting the meat rest and essentially allows it to finish cooking the rest of the way with it's internal heat. You can also put the foil wrapped meat in a cooler but the grill technique works better for me.

The Tri Tip comes out tender and juicy. It's really easy to overcook Tri Tip and end up with a very dry meat. Frankly, I've ruined a lot of meat by overcooking which is even easier to do on a grill. Keep it in the foil until you're ready to eat then unwrap, slice and serve immediately. I made it tonight for a get together and it was a big hit, even with The Boy who's not  a big steak eater. It disappeared with alacrity. Lu made a mess of  her wonderful stir fried New Potatoes and we served it with steak rolls and a cold beverage. There are no leftovers.

I love to BBQ but the learning curve is steep while I'm a bit slow. I've been burning meat over fire for years but only now getting to the point where I don't have to make excuses for why it's under/over done.


28 December 2011

For Brigid. In Sympathy

Recently Brigid blew out a knee and just had surgery. My thoughts and prayers go out to her but I wanted to show my support in a more tangible way. She's too far away for me to bring over a dish or take Barkley for a walk so I'm left with morale support.

I'm so sorry you got injured Brigid and I know you've been under the knife a time or two before this but I wanted you to know.

I feel your pain.
Cool pants eh? That picture was taken in May, 2006 right after my surgery for a completely blown Achilles tendon. My toes were swollen up like 10 little Vienna sausages. My hands developed massive callouses from the crutches. It took me 5 months to get released to light duty and a year before I went back to patrol. More pics here.    
Hang in there Brigid. Let your friends and loved ones help. Do your rehab and everything the nice doctor says. And remember;

You're not old you're just in need of a tune up.

Get well soon!!


24 December 2011

Merry Christmas To All

From the Six clan to you. May you have joy and peace and may the new year bring you happiness.


23 December 2011


Twas the night before Christmas, with a chill wind a-blowing
A glance out the window confirmed it was snowing
I was out in the workshop, cranking hard on the press,
The bullets were Nosler; the dies? RCBS!
My new Lyman tumbler was shining the brass
As hard flakes of white stuff kept tapping the glass
A glance at the mercury showed the temperature was dropping
And it seemed a good plan that I soon would be stopping
The evening grew darker and the snow started drifting,
You could tell that this storm would not soon be lifting
So I cranked up the heater, and rubbed hands together
Hoping elk, deer and rabbits would survive this foul weatherhttp://t.mookie1.com/t/v1/imp?%25&migAgencyId=43&migSource=adsrv2&migTrackDataExt=1800773;74350967;248246588;44887876&migRandom=4994560&migTrackFmtExt=client;io;ad;crtv
I scrubbed out my Marlin, and wiped down my Colt
Then took out my Savage and oiled the bolt,
I touched up the bluing on my trusty Sig Sauers
And made myself busy as I passed through the hours
It might have been Midnight, or a little thereafter
When my senses were jarred by the noise of his laughter
I was barely awake, I must have been dozin’
When he burst through the doorway, his white beard all frozen
His red flannel coat was all crusted with ice
And he stood near the heater, saying “Man, that feels nice!”
Was I only just dreaming, had my mind played a trick?
Or was I really the host to fat old St. Nick?
He brushed off the snow from his round little belly
And fixed a warm gaze on my fine old Benelli
“I can see you still hunt some,” said this wise Yuletide jester
As he fingered the stock of my vintage Winchester
He glanced ‘round my workshop as the storm became louder
“Looks to me that you’re running a bit low on powder.”
So he reached in his bag, and pulled out a case
Of Hodgdon propellants, with a smile on his face
Then he paused while he pondered, and he seemed to recall
“You’re a front-stuffer shooter, here’s some patches and ball.”
And then one more package, to clean my guns fine
A bottle of Hoppe’s, that old No. 9!
I held up my hands and said, “That’s quite enough!”
“I’m about out of room for all of this stuff
“You’ve been way too generous, you’ve filled up my shelves.
“How’s this going to look to your over-worked elves?”
“Don’t worry,” says he, “I’ve got plenty of toys
“For all of the good little girls and boys
“And there’s more in my sleigh for their sisters and brothers
“Their hard-working dads and their tireless mothers.
“But for hunters and shooters, there’s always new ammo,
“Binoculars, boots, or a full set of camo
“A backpack, a firearm or a razor sharp knife
“Something they’ll treasure for the rest of their life.”
With that, he departed, and outside I could hear
Him speaking so softly to eight tiny reindeer
“There’s work to be done. We don’t want to be late
“Let’s make for the sky, boys, the children won’t wait!”
With sleigh bells a’jingling, and a hearty “Ho! Ho!”
He was off like a rocket in a flurry of snow
He left nary a track, but one thing I remember,
He promised he’d be back this way next December

Remember Those Who Will Not Be Home This Christmas

In a couple of days we will celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas day. We'll open brightly wrapped packages, eat til we're stuffed, sing some carols and enjoy friends and family. As we should. As is right and proper. The chance to enjoy this holiday in the warmth and comfort of our homes has been bought and paid for by men and women who will never again feel the embrace of loved ones nor see the joy in their childrens faces upon opening a particularly precious gift. Brought to us by men and women who will spend yet another Christmas away from hearth and home so that we, their beloved countrymen, might have this day in peace. They will ever be in our hearts.

To all those we have lost. How we do miss you.  For all those who are still serving, so far from your loved ones. We love you more than we can say. Thank you for your service and sacrifice. Thank you for allowing me to have those I love best near to enjoy our holiday in peace and comfort. Thank you for keeping the faith.

From my family to you and yours may you have a Merry Christmas. We pray that you will find your homes again safely in the new year. May God bless each and every one of you and may we never forget.


22 December 2011

What Makes Lu Laugh?

This does. I'm pretty sure I've seen it before but it had Lu falling out of her chair last night. Pretty sure it was the nuts thing.

Captain Morgan Christmas Cookies

1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts (optional)
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
Sample the rum to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the rum again, to
be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter
in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one peastoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make
sure the rum is still ok, try another cup just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the frigging fruit off the floor, and check the rum.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters just pry
it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the Captain Morgan to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who geeves a sheet. Check the
rum. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a psoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall

Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, bow the throwl through the window, finish the Maptain Corgan and
make sure to put the stove in the wishdasher.
Cherry Mistmas !

20 December 2011

Happy Hanukkah

Sunset today marks the first day of Hanukkah. You can read more on the story and customs and practices here.

To all our Jewish friends here and around the world we send our hopes for a happy and prosperous Hanukkah season.

Chag Chanukah Sameach!


18 December 2011

Sunday Kipling For Our Special Girl

This is a special Kipling dedicated to a special lady. Our Chrisi girl is 15 years old today. Chrisi came home almost a year to the day after we got Trooper. Her full name is Lu's Chrisimas Surprise because of her birthdate and because I took a chance and bought her from our breeder without Lu knowing. She was always The Princess. She loved to run and retrieve and play with her big brother. She's been a near perfect companion for Lu, accompanying her on long trips and protecting her from unseen dangers. Now she's a big sister, passing on her patience and good manners to her little brother (who adores her). She no longer runs and frolics but she still goes for walks and rides. With still bright eyes and a wagging tail she'll always be our Princess. 15 years go by so fast. It seems like a lot but we're hoping for still more time with her. Greedy I know but she's our Chrisi girl. She's old and grey now but every once in a while, usually when it's least expected, the puppy in her will come out for just a bit and we smile and reminisce and appreciate her all the more

We love you Chrisi. Thank you for your companionship, your protection and your love. No one ever had a better dog. Happy birthday Sweetheart.

Here's a Kipling just for Chrisi. I hope I can be forgiven if I've changed it just a bit. :)

The Cat That Walked by Himself
Kitty can sit by the fire and sing,
Kitty can climb a tree,
Or play with a silly old cork and string
To 'muse herself, not me.
But I like Chrisi my dog, because
She knows how to behave;
So, Chrisi's the same as the First Friend was,
And I am the Man in the Cave!

Kitty will play Man-Friday till
It's time to wet her paw
And make her walk on the window-sill
(For the footprint Crusoe saw);
Then she fluffles her tail and mews,
And scratches and won't attend.
But Chrisi will play whatever I choose,
And she is my true First Friend!

Kitty will rub my knees with her head
Pretending she loves me hard;
But the very minute I go to my bed
Kitty runs out in the yard,
And there she stays till the morning-light;
So I know it is only pretend;
But Chrisi, she snores at my feet all night,
And she is my Firstest Friend!

17 December 2011

Video Interlude

I'm working on a post but my muse is goofing off again. She's so lazy. Instead how about something cool and fun on a Saturday?
As you watch this bear in mind it's a simulation. A computer game. An awesome computer game complete with nomex racing gloves.

12 December 2011

Raising Boys With Risk

I'm sure you've all seen the news about the 9 year old who was initially suspended over calling a teacher cute (The administrator was later dismissed). Then there's the first grader being investigated for sexual harassment over punching another boy in the groin during a fight. There are many, many more such. A depressingly large number. It's as if every adult in the nation has forgotten what it's like to be a kid.

Here's a blast from the past I'm betting a lot of you remember.
Glory Glory Hallelujah
Teacher Hit You With A Ruler
Blow Her Through The Door With A Loaded 44
And She Ain't Gonna Teach No More
Come on. I can't be the only one out there that sung that as a child. There were more that my memory simply can't bring up any more but the point is that young boys do stuff like that. It's all about learning what it means to be a man, pushing our boundaries and doing risky things. Not once did I or anyone I ever knew actually blow a teacher through the door with a loaded 44. We didn't even consider it. But we could sing about it and tell each other lies about how cool we were and just be boys engaging in harmless behavior with that heady tang of risk and being an outlaw. I'm absolutely certain that the teachers heard that song and others just like it many times yet none of us were so much as sent to the principals office over it much less suspended and investigated and charged criminally. Common sense and a dose of 'they're just being boys' perhaps?

Cute? What guy didn't have a crush on a teacher? Perhaps it was one of your mom's friends or an older girl in the neighborhood or even a distant cousin who was the most beautiful creature ever created by a supreme being who clearly knew what a girl was supposed to look like. Asking a boy to exercise the virtues of an adult is insane. Besides what's wrong with appreciation and adolescent fantasy? It's all part of growing up. And don't talk to me about abuse. I experienced it first hand and it's got nothing to do with a boy who likes his teacher.

How about fighting? Any guys out there who got into a fistfight or two as boys? I did, many times. And yes, groin punching was a pretty routine tactic, accepted and even expected when small fists start to fly over matters of honor or self defense. I did get sent to the principal a few times over such but never got more than a stern warning to stop fighting at school. Or else. What else? I never found out because we respected the school administrators (and especially the Principal!) even though the stricture against fighting at school was routinely ignored or forgotten. because boys are boys and fighting with each other is as natural as breathing. I have a brother who is 15 months my senior. Close enough for us to be physically pretty equal but far enough for friction to develop and develop it did. Living in a house with 3 boys and a single mother who worked and went to college left us with a lot of hostility and a lot of time in which to exercise it. We had hundreds of fights. We spent one whole summer fighting nearly every day. And not the pushing, shoving kind of fighting but the knock down, drag out type I refer to as fist fighting. I had pretty much a permanent black eye for months. But neither of us turned into serial killers or criminals or anti-social monsters. Heck, I consider it as just good preparation for a later career where fighting with angry, drugged out, violent men was routine. I really need to thank my brother sometime for teaching me the value of a good scrap. Never trust a man who hasn't been in at least one good fight.

The value of risk has been driven home to me by my grandson, The Boy. I'm teaching him rock climbing. Even with my background and knowledge, when I see him scaling a sharp face or see him standing atop a conquered climb, just inches from a fall, my heart leaps into my throat and my first instinct is to order him away from the edge and to carry him down to where it's safe. My daughter shakes her head at me and watches with ill concealed pride. She knows. She understands that he must be allowed to experience risk. He must see that he can conquer his fears and overcome his limitations. He needs to have an outlet for his aggressive feelings. To deny him this is to deny him a chance at manhood. He may not be able to hear, he won't read and he can't think but he can see. He can experience first hand what it means to risk and win. He must be able to experience pain and failure if he is to learn to judge.

We are emasculating our boys, sacrificing them on the altar of political correctness. Willingly turning them over to those who hate them for their very maleness and kidding ourselves that they know better than we how our boys should be raised. A boy who is denied a chance to be a boy will grow up top be a frustrated man, unsure of who or even what he is. Mini bikes and BB guns and pulling the pig tails of that girl in second period that we like but don't quite know how to admit. Climbing hills and throwing rocks and getting dirty. Wrestling with the dog and getting into fights with the school bully. Scrapes and cuts and bruises and occasionally something worse but learning about life from them.

Suspended? Investigated? Shame on us all. Those boys should be celebrated for being what they are. Boys who will someday grow up to be men (God willing).

Make no mistake about it, we need men in our society. Men who dream big, build big and are ready to fight at the drop of a hat over the things that matter. Men who understand their power and have learned, through painful trial and error, how to contain and focus it. Men who have been allowed to experience the joys of budding puppy love and infatuation so they can recognize the real thing when it appears and be equipped to appreciate, value and protect the one they love.

We do our boys no favor by wrapping them in a blanket and protecting them from all of life's ups and downs. We're not protecting them at all, we're punishing them for being boys and setting them up for a life of frustration, depression and failure. We're not teaching that 9 year old to respect women, we're teaching him to distrust women. We're requiring him to grow up misogynistic. And we wonder at the divorce and domestic violence rate in this country. We're not teaching that first grader fairness, we're teaching him that it's better to be a victim than a survivor. Better to lose a fight and take a beating (or worse) than win at all costs. We're teaching them that being a boy is wrong and that they're somehow bad just for being what they are.

I am grateful for growing up the way I did. I love my scars, my wounds, my soaring triumphs and crashing defeats. They were honorably obtained and taught me that I like being a man. I'm rough and crude and I use bad language from time to time. I'm lumpy and hairy and sometimes smell of the sweat from honest toil and I don't care. I eat red meat and even kill it from time to time. I like guns and big trucks and dogs and motorcycles and fast cars. I love cop movies where the bad guy gets his in the end. I love my career choices. Being a soldier and a cop define me and I'm good with that. I love my wife, her softness and kindness and her womanly curves. I love how she smells and her gentle kisses. I love that she's a woman and allows me to be a man. I love my tools and making things with my hands. I love my daughter and my grandchildren and I'd do anything to protect them and see that they have the same opportunities in life that I had. If that makes me a bad person then so be it. I think that a man makes his own way to hell with those who desire nothing more than to see him fall and fail and disappear. I make no apologies for any of it.

And so I want The Boy to have the chance to grow up to be the man I know is buried in that small, sturdy body. I want him to be free to take risks, knowing that we'll be there to help him up, dust him off and send him on his way again. I want him to experience the first blushes of a crush without the fear that he'll be labeled a harasser of women and girls. I want him to fight for what's right and true and honorable without fear of arrest and ostracizing by a society that hates and fears him. I want him to play sports and learn to shoot and climb mountains and ride a motorcycle if those are his desire. I want him to be free to choose his own path, whatever that may be, without a hostile society imposing their will upon him.

He's my little man. My Boy. The one who copies me and watches me with wide eyes. What does it mean to be a man? In the end that's a question only he can answer however much I, his parents, his teachers and every busybody, nanny in the country want to influence him. Boys should be treated as apprentice men lest they never stop being little boys.

I fear that is what we've come to. A country run by alleged adults who either never grew up or who grew up hating what boys become when left to their own devices. For my part I'll emulate my daughter and remember what it was like to be a boy trying to become a man. I'll point him in the right direction and then step back to allow him to win or fall on his own. Lessons, advice, wisdom, the lore of the tribe, all these are his for the asking but the option to be the man he wants to be is his birthright and be damned to the very pits of Hell to those who would rob him of that.


11 December 2011

Sunday Kipling

Man I'm late again today. Christmas is almost here. My son in law will be here soon to spend the holiday with us and we can't wait for him to arrive. In the meantime there's dinosaur footprints to see, puppies to play with and turkey stew bubbling on the stove. Mmmm, smells like family. Have a great Sunday my friends.

The Four Angels
"With the Night Mail"--Actions and Reactions

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Earth came down, and offered Earth in fee;
But Adam did not need it,
Nor the plough he would not speed it,
Singing: --"Earth and Water, Air and Fire,
What more can mortal man desire?"
(The Apple Tree's in bud)

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Waters offered all the Seas in fee;
But Adam would not take 'em,
Nor the ships he wouldn't make 'em,
Singing:--"Water, Earth and Air and Fire,
What more can mortal man desire? "
(The Apple Tree's in leaf.)

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Air he offered all the Air in fee;
But Adam did not crave it,
Nor the flight he wouldn't brave it,
Singing: --"Air and Water, Earth and Fire,
What more can mortal man desire?"
(The Apple Tree's in bloom.)

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Fire rose up and not a word said he;
But he wished a flame and made it,
And in Adam's heart he laid it,
Singing: --"Fire, Fire, burning Fire!
Stand up, and reach your heart's desire!"
(The Apple Blossom's set.)

As Adam was a-working outside of Eden-Wall,
He used the Earth, he used the Seas, he used the Air and all;
Till out of black disaster
He arose to be a master
Of Earth and Water, Air and Fire,
But never reached his heart's desire!
(The Apple Tree's cut down!)

10 December 2011

Rules Of The Road Bicycle Edition

Let me say right up front that I am a bicyclist. Lu and I do ride on the roads of America. But we avoid narrow, well traveled streets and obey all rules of the road (though I did once give Lu and the DO a near coronary by bombing down a mountain road at breakneck speeds with them following in the truck..another story). Names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

Joan has a post up about those bicyclists who can't seem to act like reasonable people. You know, the ones you fantasize about sideswiping off the road and into the annals of the Darwin Awards. In that light I'll pass along this story to hopefully give you a little satisfaction that there really is justice in the world. Occasionally. I was also nearly punched out by a lawyer. There was spit and screaming and everything.

Back in the day when I rode a motorcycle for my daily bread I was also one of our accident reconstructionists. I was dispatched to and investigated complex accidents, including injury and fatals. On this occasion I was sent to an auto/bicycle crash where the bicyclist received significant but not life threatening injuries.

Here's the stage. There's a doc in the box located near our recreation trail. The parking lot is surrounded by a 6 foot wooden fence. The exit crosses a sidewalk that makes a bend so it runs parallel to the fence on the drivers right. The sidewalk run from the parking lot exit to the curve and fence was short (I can't recall the exact distance but it was short). A careful driver can see pedestrians with no problem. Anything faster? Not so much. The cross street is divided by a raised concrete median with a cutout. The recreation trail ends at the street, requiring that trail users cross a city owned wharf parking lot or use the cutout and the street to pick it up again.

The driver was leaving the clinic after a visit with the ships doctor masquerading as qualified medical professional (another sore spot for me. Don't ask). Witnesses state she came to a complete stop at the parking lot exit whereupon, not seeing any pedestrian traffic close enough to be a hazard, she moved forward and across the sidewalk to enter traffic.

Enter the bicyclist. He decided to leave the recreation trail path and travel down the sidewalk in order to cut off the extra 100 feet or so he'd have to travel to use the cutout and pick up the trail again. He promptly crashed into the side of the car and managed to injure himself and damage the car and his bicycle.

I got there and conducted my investigation, including a time/distance calculation that showed the bicyclist was traveling at considerably faster than a walking pace, fast enough that it would have been impossible for the driver to see him. I found the bicyclist at fault for riding on a sidewalk (against the law in California) and cited him. In the report I noted the blind spot created by the fence and curving sidewalk as well as the bicyclists speed and short sidewalk run as factors mitigating against the driver being able to see the cyclist as well as there being no reasonable expectation on the drivers part to be looking for a bicyclist riding down the sidewalk in the first place. Her responsibility was to check for immediate hazards and when none were present she was free to navigate freely.

Fast forward 3 years and the inevitable civil suit. I was deposed by the plaintiff's attorney and on the fateful day arrived at the appointed place at the appointed time. I should have known what was coming. When I got into the conference room where the deposition was to take place the defendant's attorney was sitting back in his chair with a shit eating grin on his face. Through the whole deposition he said exactly two words.

The plaintiff's attorney started out by getting my training, education and experience in the record. Then he went on the attack. You know those small dogs commonly referred to as ankle biters? The ones who bark furiously and growl and snap and generally threaten without biting until you get a hand just a little too close? Yeah, that was this lawyer to a T. We went back and forth for hours. He just couldn't wrap his mind around the idea that in an auto/bicycle accident the driver wasn't automatically at fault. I imagine the injuries suffered by the rider were enough that he was eyeing a fairly hefty fee for his services and as we continued he saw that settlement disappearing further and further into the distance. At one point he asked me if bicyclists were fair game. If a driver could just completely disregard cyclists and injure them out of hand. My answer sent him into spasms of apoplexy. In that moment I understood what a conniption fit looks like. I was actually concerned that he was going to have a stroke. I told him that as long as a bicyclist was in violation of the vehicle code, operating his conveyance in a place he shouldn't have, in a manner disregarding his own safety and the driver exercised due caution then what happened to the bicyclist was his own fault. He leaned across the table toward me, spittle flying from his lips, and screamed that it was now open season on bicyclists according to me and there would soon be blood in the streets, cats and dogs living together and generally the end of the western world as we know it. I really thought he was going to punch my lights out he was so angry. The defendants lawyer just sat there, a log, and watched the plaintiff's case going down in flames, a smile on his lips. I hated him for that but what you gonna do? Has to be the easiest case he ever took. The deposition wound down from there but that lawyer was obviously a defeated man. I was right and he was wrong and the fact that he couldn't rip me apart and make me recant my investigation and testimony deflated him like a pin popped balloon. You could actually see the dollar signs flying away from his eyes.

The defense attorney's response? The only two words he uttered through about 4 hours of questions, answers and bitter recriminations? "No questions".

I never heard the final outcome but I didn't receive a subpoena for trial so it's pretty certain that the case was settled. I hated that the bicyclist was injured but the bottom line here is the the rules of the road apply equally. If you ride on the road your health and safety is your responsibility. Knowing and obeying the statutes regulating cars and bicycles isn't just a good idea it's essential to remaining a breathing, uninjured person.

But yeah, winning an argument with a lawyer so thoroughly that he nearly smacked me in the snot locker was one of the highlights of my career. It was a good day.


08 December 2011

Ok, Now It's Done

The last item to be completed on the pirate ship is now done. You'll recall that I painted it Ace Pirate Ship Brown but I didn't do any decoration. That was waiting for 2 small hands and large imaginations. And it needed a name. Behold the USS Ghost Pirate.
Why Ghost Pirate? Because she's 7 and he's 5 and that's just the way they roll. That is a picture of the ship's namesake below the name. He looks pretty darn ghosty piratey to me but then I may just be a bit prejudiced.

Here's Little Bit proving she can both paint and spell. She did the bulk of the work while The Boy hung out and 'supervised'.

Small hands, some poster paint, a small paint brush and a big heart can work wonders.

The ships wheel. It was a lazy susan Lu found but it's now been turned into the mechanism to move worlds.

A pirate ship moves on water. When none is at hand then some must be provided.

Little Bit graciously gave the back side of the ship to The Boy. It's clams, starfish and way down at the bottom a treasure chest.

The kids decided to honor the builders by inscribing our names on the ship. Grandpa got the prime spot which put a smile on my face I'll never lose.

If you look just behind the swing you can see a cannon complete with cannon ball and lit fuse. I even hung Christmas lights on it.

Touched by angels it is now complete. A child's play area is not done until those it is meant for have christened it. When I look at it now I no longer view it as a blank canvas waiting for the master to create a work of art. It is whole, warm and inviting. It says "Here there be children". No captain ever had a finer vessel. No Papa ever had finer grandchildren. If what we create is a mirror of our souls then I am content. I made 2 small children happy. I better epitaph I cannot imagine.


06 December 2011

Dog Home Care

Times are tough but we still have responsibilities and that includes our canine companions. Veterinary medical help is usually very reasonable and most vets will work with you on health care and medications for your beloved dog but what if even that's too much or not available? Here's a list of human meds that are safe and effective for dogs in times of trouble. It's a good list but not comprehensive. I've researched the list as best I can but I recommend you consult your vet before using them. He/she might have better info than I do about cheaper and more effective treatments. I've used some but not all of those listed on Trooper and/or Chrisi with good results. If you have other info please chime in.
Snivel words. I am not a veterinary doctor nor do I play one on TV. I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I'm just a dog owner and a prepper with internet access. Do your homework.

30 Common Human Medicines for Dogs
• A & D Ointment: antibacterial for scrapes and wounds.
• Anbesol: topical anesthetic for mouth pain
• Artificial Tears: eye lubricant
• Aveeno Oatmeal Bath: soothing rinse for itchy skin
• Benadryl: antihistamine for bug bites-also makes pets sleepy
• Betadine: antiseptic for cleansing/soaking wounds or injuries
• Bufferin or Baby Aspirin: pain relief
• Burow's solution: topical antiseptic
• Caladryl: soothing topical for pain or itching
• Cortaid: anti-itch cream
• Desitin: for skin inflammation
• Dramamine: helpful for car sickness, nausea
• Dulcolax: for constipation
• Epsom salts: for soothing soak for sore paws
• Ipecac Syrup: to make dog vomit
• Kaopectate: to control diarrhea
• Lanacane: topical anesthetic
• Massengill Disposable Douche: body odor/skunk spray
• Metamucil (unflavored): for constipation
• Mylanta Liquid: for digestive problems and/or gas
• Neosporin: to help prevent wound infection
• Pedialyte: counteracts dehydration
• Pepcid AC: to control vomiting
• Pepto-Bismol: for diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
• Phillips' Milk of Magnesia: for constipation
• Preparation H: soothes sore bottom
• Robitussin Pediatric Cough Formula: cough suppressant
• Solarcaine: topical anesthetic, helpful for sunburn
• Vicks VapoRub: for congestion
• Witch hazel: topical antiseptic

23 Helpful Household Items
Just good stuff to have around the house for canine emergencies.
• Blanket/cookie sheet/ironing board: stretcher
• Bubble Wrap: stabilize leg fracture/injury
• Canned Pumpkin: for constipation or diarrhea
• Condoms: to cover injured/bleeding paw
• Dawn Dishwashing Soap: decontaminate fur
• Heat pad: for arthritis/aches
• Hose/sink spray: flushing wounds
• Hydrogen peroxide (3%): given orally to prompt vomiting
• Ice bag/frozen peas: topical pain control
• Karo syrup/honey: for shock
• KY Jelly: lubricant such as for eye out of socket
• Olive oil: to suffocate/kill ear mites
• Pliers: remove porcupine quills/foreign object in mouth
• Pantyhose/necktie: muzzle
• Mustache trimmer: clip fur around wounds
• Needle/Safety pin: acupuncture CPR
• Teabags, soaked and cooled: to treat hot spots
• Turkey baster: flush wounds, give liquid medicine
• Rectal thermometer
• Saran Wrap: seals wounds, holds bandage together without sticking to fur
• Sterile Saline Solution: flush wounds, eye injuries
• Squirt gun, squeeze bottle: give liquid medicine/flush wounds
• Yogurt: settle digestion, control gas

04 December 2011

Sunday Kipling

It's Sunday and it's a great day to be alive my friends. Kiss the one you love best. Say a prayer for our service men and women deployed in harms way. Be glad for your pain because it's that which reminds us of what it means to be human and free.

Hymn to Physical Pain
"The Tender Achilles"
From "Limits and Renewals" (1932)

Dread Mother of Forgetfulness
Who, when Thy reign begins,
Wipest away the Soul's distress,
And memory of her sins.

The trusty Worm that dieth not--
The steadfast Fire also,
By Thy contrivance are forgot
In a completer woe.

Thine are the lidless eyes of night
That stare upon our tears,
Through certain hours which in our sight
Exceed a thousand years:

Thine is the thickness of the Dark
That presses in our pain,
As Thine the Dawn that bids us mark
Life's grinning face again.

Thine is the weariness outworn
No promise shall relieve,
That says at eve, "Would God 'twere morn"
At morn, "Would God 'twere eve!"

And when Thy tender mercies cease
And life unvexed is due,
Instant upon the false release
The Worm and Fire renew.

Wherefore we praise Thee in the deep,
And on our beds we pray
For Thy return that Thou may'st keep
The Pains of Hell at bay!

01 December 2011

Trails And Dogs And Kids

With the DO and the kids here my blogging has been light. That'll probably be the case for a while, we don't get to see them too often so that's where most of my focus is right now. One of the things we've been doing a lot of is hiking. It's educational plus both the kids and Angus get the exercise they need. Ok, me too. We've got a lot of trails and jeep roads in this area so the chances for adventure are high. There's plenty to see and we've even started some rock climbing classes. Little Bit enjoys the climbing but The Boy is a natural. He and Angus have already formed quite a bond. A boy and his dog, a dog and his boy.

Speaking of Angus. Isn't he a handsome boy? He's growing and maturing.

But he's still a puppy. He loves to run and these hikes are pure joy for him. He gets to wander and run and smell and just be free. That is one happy dog.

What's been amazing is Chrisi. She went into a deep depression after we lost Trooper. So bad we thought we were going to lose her. Then we brought in a certain small dog into her life. Her interest in life has returned and she's a changed dog. At 15 years old. Now every morning she comes to me and asks where we're going and can we go right now pleasepleaseplease?? It's been wonderful to see the change in her. She can't go fast but by golly she goes.

The areas where we hike is pretty rugged country. It's high desert and absolutely beautiful.

One of our favorite trails is Jem Trail. It runs through what was once a shallow sea. There are shale beds everywhere, prime fossil hunting territory. We're planning a picnic here so we can spend the time to thoroughly explore and look for remnants of ages past.

The intrepid safari leader.

Me, the DO and the lead dog. No one gets ahead of Angus.

Hopefully, now that we've had time to spend together, I'll be back to posting regularly but no promises. There's trails to hike, dogs to run and train and adventures to be had.

I think I see a nice rock face that's never been climbed by man, dog or child before. Just begging to be explored.


30 November 2011

Lots of Courage

From a Forbes Article:

Joe Kittinger is not a household aviation name like Neil Armstrong or Chuck Yeager. But what he did for the U. S. space program is comparable.

Life photos from the Life website.  Click image to be taken to the site.

On Aug. 16, 1960, as research for the then-fledgling U. S. space program, Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger rode a helium balloon to the edge of space, 102,800 feet above the earth, a feat in itself. Then, wearing just a thin pressure suit and breathing supplemental oxygen, he leaned over the cramped confines of his gondola and jumped--into the 110-degree-below-zero, near-vacuum of space. Within seconds his body accelerated to 714mph in the thin air, breaking the sound barrier. After free-falling for more than four and a half minutes, slowed finally by friction from the heavier air below, he felt his parachute open at 14,000 feet, and he coasted gently down to the New Mexico desert floor. Kittinger's feat showed scientists that astronauts could survive the harshness of space with just a pressure suit and that man could eject from aircraft at extreme altitudes and survive. Upon Kittinger's return to base, a congratulatory telegram was waiting from the Mercury seven astronauts--including Alan Shepard and John Glenn.

More than four decades later Kittinger's two world records--the highest parachute jump, and the only man to break the sound barrier without an aircraft and live--still stand. We decided to visit the retired colonel and Aviation Hall of Famer, now 75, at his home in Altamonte Springs, Florida, to recall his historic jump.

FORBES GLOBAL: Take us back to New Mexico and Aug. 16, 1960.

Joe Kittinger: We got up at 2 a. m. to start filling the helium balloon. At sea level, it was 35 to 40 feet wide and 200 feet high; at altitude, due to the low air pressure, it expanded to 25 stories in width, and still was 20 stories high! At 4 a. m. I began breathing pure oxygen for two hours. That's how long it takes to remove all the nitrogen from your blood so you don't get the bends going so high so fast. Then it was a lengthy dress procedure layering warm clothing under my pressure suit. They kept me in air-conditioning until it was time to launch because we were in the desert and I wasn't supposed to sweat. If I did, my clothes would freeze on the way up.

How was your ascent?

It took an hour and a half to get to altitude. It was cold. At 40,000 feet, the glove on my right hand hadn't inflated. I knew that if I radioed my doctor, he would abort the flight. If that happened, I knew I might never get another chance because there were lots of people who didn't want this test to happen. I took a calculated risk, that I might lose use of my right hand. It quickly swelled up, and I did lose use for the duration of the flight. But the rest of the pressure suit worked. When I reached 102,800 feet, maximum altitude, I wasn't quite over the target. So I drifted for 11 minutes. The winds were out of the east.

What's it look like from so high up?

You can see about 400 miles in every direction. The formula is 1.25 x the sq. root of the altitude in thousands of feet. (The square root of 102,000 ft is 319 X 1.25 = 399 miles) The most fascinating thing is that it's just black overhead--the transition from normal blue to black is very stark. You can't see stars because there's a lot of glare from the sun, so your pupils are too small. I was struck with the beauty of it. But I was also struck by how hostile it is: more than 100 degrees below zero, no air. If my protection suit failed, I would be dead in a few seconds. Blood actually boils above 62, 000 feet. I went through my 46-step checklist, disconnected from the balloon’s power supply and lost all communication with the ground. I was totally under power from the kit on my back. When everything was done, I stood up, turned around to the door, took one final look out and said a silent prayer: "Lord, take care of me now." Then I just jumped over the side.

What were you thinking as you took that step?

It's the beginning of a test. I had gone through simulations many times--more than 100. I rolled over and looked up, and there was the balloon just roaring into space. I realized that the balloon wasn't roaring into space; I was going down at a fantastic rate! At about 90,000 feet, I reached 714mph. The altimeter on my wrist was unwinding very rapidly. But there was no sense of speed. Where you determine speed is visual--if you see something go flashing by. But nothing flashes by 20 miles up--there are no signposts there, and you are way above any clouds. When the chute opened, the rest of the jump was anticlimactic because everything had worked perfectly. I landed 12 or 13 minutes later, and there was my crew waiting. We were elated.

How about your right hand?

It hurt--there was quite a bit of swelling and the blood pressure in my arm was high. But that went away in a few days, and I regained full use of my hand.

Col. Kittinger, after he landed, via Air Force Heritage site.
What about attempts to break your record?

We did it for air crews and astronauts--for the learning, not to set a record. They will be going up as skydivers. Somebody will beat it someday. Records are made to be broken. And I'll be elated. But I'll also be concerned that they¹re properly trained. If they're not, they're taking a heck of a risk.

30 Days of Thanks- D30

Wow, last day of my 30 Days of Thanks!  First I have to thank you all for allowing me to post all my thoughts this last month; it has been quite fun to share bits of my life and myself with you all.  Secondly, I have to thank the Six for allowing me to have a voice here, and to encourage my writing.

And so, to finish!

I think I'll end with the simplest thing I can be thankful for, and for the most profound gift we as humanity have been given: the ability to love, and to feel love in return.  The joy of my children's faces, the touch of my husbands hand, the sound of my father's voice, the calmness of my mother's smile...  Truly, from love comes all good things.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It has been wonderful to keep myself in the place of thanks for this last month.  It is truly amazing how a bit of thanks can change one's perspective so completely!

~The DO

29 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D29

Yesterday the kids and I get back into the swing of school and I had no choice but to be thankful that this nation is still one of freedom.  I have the option of teaching my kids at home because, so far, the government has yet to claim that right in totality for themselves.  It reminds me that the point of our nation was that the government was to protect us from those things we couldn't protect our selves from (i.e. the armies of other nations) and not to be the parents to my children.  Nor to me, for that matter!  So, at least for now, I am thankful that I live in a nation of freedom and of personal responsibility!

~The DO

28 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D28

This is the time of year when all eyes turn toward celebration.  Sometimes celebration can be tiring and challenging, but it also reminds us that we are alive, and that people care about us.  I try not to stress over my celebrations, I don't worry about getting every last Christmas activity done, I pay more attention to the fact that I get the chance to watch my kids discover the holidays, and what they mean to them.  I'm intensely thankful that I get to experience anew all the joy of this time of year through them.

~The DO

27 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D27

I love getting lost in a project.  Ever start something, some project doing something you love, and suddenly hours have gone by and you didn't even notice?  I LOVE that feeling.

~The DO

26 November 2011

Sunday Kipling

My daughter and grandkids are here and my world is complete. Today we will decorate the house and our tree. The boy and I will char animal flesh over fire and we will eat like the tribe of fierce pirates that we are. I hope your day is as good as ours will be my friends.

This weeks Kipling is very long but well worth the read. Stay with it to the end. This is Kipling the master at his very best.

The Sacrifice of Er-Heb

Er-Heb beyond the Hills of Ao-Safai
Bears witness to the truth, and Ao-Safai
Hath told the men of Gorukh. Thence the tale
Comes westward o'er the peaks to India.

The story of Bisesa, Armod's child, --
A maiden plighted to the Chief in War,
The Man of Sixty Spears, who held the Pass
That leads to Thibet, but to-day is gone
To seek his comfort of the God called Budh
The Silent -- showing how the Sickness ceased
Because of her who died to save the tribe.

Taman is One and greater than us all,
Taman is One and greater than all Gods:
Taman is Two in One and rides the sky,
Curved like a stallion's croup, from dusk to dawn,
And drums upon it with his heels, whereby
Is bred the neighing thunder in the hills.

This is Taman, the God of all Er-Heb,
Who was before all Gods, and made all Gods,
And presently will break the Gods he made,
And step upon the Earth to govern men
Who give him milk-dry ewes and cheat his Priests,
Or leave his shrine unlighted -- as Er-Heb
Left it unlighted and forgot Taman,
When all the Valley followed after Kysh
And Yabosh, little Gods but very wise,
And from the sky Taman beheld their sin.

He sent the Sickness out upon the hills,
The Red Horse Sickness with the iron hooves,
To turn the Valley to Taman again.

And the Red Horse snuffed thrice into the wind,
The naked wind that had no fear of him;
And the Red Horse stamped thrice upon the snow,
The naked snow that had no fear of him;
And the Red Horse went out across the rocks,
The ringing rocks that had no fear of him;
And downward, where the lean birch meets the snow,
And downward, where the gray pine meets the birch,
And downward, where the dwarf oak meets the pine,
Till at his feet our cup-like pastures lay.

That night, the slow mists of the evening dropped,
Dropped as a cloth upon a dead man's face,
And weltered in the Valley, bluish-white
Like water very silent -- spread abroad,
Like water very silent, from the Shrine
Unlighted of Taman to where the stream
Is dammed to fill our cattle-troughs -- sent up
White waves that rocked and heaved and then were still,
Till all the Valley glittered like a marsh,
Beneath the moonlight, filled with sluggish mist
Knee-deep, so that men waded as they walked.

That night, the Red Horse grazed above the Dam,
Beyond the cattle-troughs. Men heard him feed,
And those that heard him sickened where they lay.

Thus came the Sickness to Er-Heb, and slew
Ten men, strong men, and of the women four;
And the Red Horse went hillward with the dawn,
But near the cattle-troughs his hoof-prints lay.

That night, the slow mists of the evening dropped,
Dropped as a cloth upon the dead, but rose
A little higher, to a young girl's height;
Till all the Valley glittered like a lake,
Beneath the moonlight, filled with sluggish mist.

That night, the Red Horse grazed beyond the Dam,
A stone's-throw from the troughs. Men heard him feed,
And those that heard him sickened where they lay.
Thus came the Sickness to Er-Heb, and slew
Of men a score, and of the women eight,
And of the children two.

Because the road
To Gorukh was a road of enemies,
And Ao-Safai was blocked with early snow,
We could not flee from out the Valley. Death
Smote at us in a slaughter-pen, and Kysh
Was mute as Yabosh, though the goats were slain;
And the Red Horse grazed nightly by the stream,
And later, outward, towards the Unlighted Shrine,
And those that heard him sickened where they lay.

Then said Bisesa to the Priests at dusk,
When the white mist rose up breast-high, and choked
The voices in the houses of the dead: --
"Yabosh and Kysh avail not. If the Horse
Reach the Unlighted Shrine we surely die.
Ye have forgotten of all Gods the Chief,
Taman!" Here rolled the thunder through the Hills
And Yabosh shook upon his pedestal.
"Ye have forgotten of all Gods the Chief
Too long." And all were dumb save one, who cried
On Yabosh with the Sapphire 'twixt His knees,
But found no answer in the smoky roof,
And, being smitten of the Sickness, died
Before the altar of the Sapphire Shrine.

Then said Bisesa: -- "I am near to Death,
And have the Wisdom of the Grave for gift
To bear me on the path my feet must tread.
If there be wealth on earth, then I am rich,
For Armod is the first of all Er-Heb;
If there be beauty on the earth," -- her eyes
Dropped for a moment to the temple floor, --
"Ye know that I am fair. If there be love,
Ye know that love is mine." The Chief in War,
The Man of Sixty Spears, broke from the press,
And would have clasped her, but the Priests withstood,
Saying: -- "She has a message from Taman."
Then said Bisesa: -- "By my wealth and love
And beauty, I am chosen of the God
Taman." Here rolled the thunder through the Hills
And Kysh fell forward on the Mound of Skulls.

In darkness, and before our Priests, the maid
Between the altars cast her bracelets down,
Therewith the heavy earrings Armod made,
When he was young, out of the water-gold
Of Gorukh -- threw the breast-plate thick with jade
Upon the turquoise anklets -- put aside
The bands of silver on her brow and neck;
And as the trinkets tinkled on the stones,
The thunder of Taman lowed like a bull.

Then said Bisesa, stretching out her hands,
As one in darkness fearing Devils: -- "Help!
O Priests, I am a woman very weak,
And who am I to know the will of Gods?
Taman hath called me -- whither shall I go?"
The Chief in War, the Man of Sixty Spears,
Howled in his torment, fettered by the Priests,
But dared not come to her to drag her forth,
And dared not lift his spear against the Priests.
Then all men wept.

There was a Priest of Kysh
Bent with a hundred winters, hairless, blind,
And taloned as the great Snow-Eagle is.
His seat was nearest to the altar-fires,
And he was counted dumb among the Priests.
But, whether Kysh decreed, or from Taman
The impotent tongue found utterance we know
As little as the bats beneath the eaves.
He cried so that they heard who stood without: --
"To the Unlighted Shrine!" and crept aside
Into the shadow of his fallen God
And whimpered, and Bisesa went her way.

That night, the slow mists of the evening dropped,
Dropped as a cloth upon the dead, and rose
Above the roofs, and by the Unlighted Shrine
Lay as the slimy water of the troughs
When murrain thins the cattle of Er-Heb:
And through the mist men heard the Red Horse feed.

In Armod's house they burned Bisesa's dower,
And killed her black bull Tor, and broke her wheel,
And loosed her hair, as for the marriage-feast,
With cries more loud than mourning for the dead.

Across the fields, from Armod's dwelling-place,
We heard Bisesa weeping where she passed
To seek the Unlighted Shrine; the Red Horse neighed
And followed her, and on the river-mint
His hooves struck dead and heavy in our ears.

Out of the mists of evening, as the star
Of Ao-Safai climbs through the black snow-blur
To show the Pass is clear, Bisesa stepped
Upon the great gray slope of mortised stone,
The Causeway of Taman. The Red Horse neighed
Behind her to the Unlighted Shrine -- then fled
North to the Mountain where his stable lies.

They know who dared the anger of Taman,
And watched that night above the clinging mists,
Far up the hill, Bisesa's passing in.

She set her hand upon the carven door,
Fouled by a myriad bats, and black with time,
Whereon is graved the Glory of Taman
In letters older than the Ao-Safai;
And twice she turned aside and twice she wept,
Cast down upon the threshold, clamouring
For him she loved -- the Man of Sixty Spears,
And for her father, -- and the black bull Tor,
Hers and her pride. Yea, twice she turned away
Before the awful darkness of the door,
And the great horror of the Wall of Man
Where Man is made the plaything of Taman,
An Eyeless Face that waits above and laughs.

But the third time she cried and put her palms
Against the hewn stone leaves, and prayed Taman
To spare Er-Heb and take her life for price.

They know who watched, the doors were rent apart
And closed upon Bisesa, and the rain
Broke like a flood across the Valley, washed
The mist away; but louder than the rain
The thunder of Taman filled men with fear.

Some say that from the Unlighted Shrine she cried
For succour, very pitifully, thrice,
And others that she sang and had no fear.
And some that there was neither song nor cry,
But only thunder and the lashing rain.

Howbeit, in the morning men rose up,
Perplexed with horror, crowding to the Shrine.
And when Er-Heb was gathered at the doors
The Priests made lamentation and passed in
To a strange Temple and a God they feared
But knew not.

From the crevices the grass
Had thrust the altar-slabs apart, the walls
Were gray with stains unclean, the roof-beams swelled
With many-coloured growth of rottenness,
And lichen veiled the Image of Taman
In leprosy. The Basin of the Blood
Above the altar held the morning sun:
A winking ruby on its heart: below,
Face hid in hands, the maid Bisesa lay.

Er-Heb beyond the Hills of Ao-Safai
Bears witness to the truth, and Ao-Safai
Hath told the men of Gorukh. Thence the tale
Comes westward o'er the peaks to India.

Pirate Ship Update - Finished (Mostly)

It's been a while since I posted about the Pirate Ship I was building for the grandkids. I managed to break Lu's camera and still haven't replaced it so when the DO got here she took some pics for me. Click any picture to enlarge.

Here's where we left off. The main cabin structure without siding and the beam laid on for measuring. No prow and no landscaping.

Because I was sans camera I didn't get any further build pictures so here's the finished project. I'll just have to talk you through what I did, how I did it and why. I was overruled on the whole two story thing by higher command. I just cut off the 4x4s at the rear of the ship and used the two in front as rigging. The 4x6 beam is bolted to the roof with the end held up by a 1/4 inch steel 4x4 that's 10 feet long. The steel 4x4 is set 3 feet into the ground with 160 pounds of concrete. The beam has a swing, a tire swing and a climbing rope.

The prow is set on another pier block and attached to the main cabin with 2x6 framing. The floor is OSB over 2x4 floor joists. When I decided against it being two stories I went ahead and roofed the main cabin with shingles. The sheathing is more OSB with 2x4s and 2x6s for support. Everything is either nailed or screwed together.

Lu and I were at an antique store when she found this rock. It's fiberglass and it is way cool. 75 bucks. I love finding stuff like this and it added a nice climbing rock to the play area.

We had some old fishing net floats that Lu contributed to the build. I hung them on the sides and used some nylon rope as rigging.

Here's another view of the swings. I wanted to keep the ship theme so used wood and rope everywhere I could. Lu tested everything out. Just to be sure it was safe of course.
You can see the steel 4x4 post here. At the top I took two pieces of angle iron, welded them together to form a U bracket, drilled it, welded it to the post and lag bolted the whole thing to the beam. It's solid as a rock. That was Sarges idea. I was going to use an A-frame but this is both stronger and takes up a lot less space.

I bought a small basketball goal and mounted it to the end. We're planning on having some epic HORSE games. I went down to Ace and bought two gallons of brown paint. The paint guy asked me what shade and I told him Pirate Ship Brown. He offered a color, I accepted and it's now officially known at my local hardware store as Ace Pirate Ship Brown. He still chuckles whenever I come in.

Every Pirate Ship needs protection and this one is no different. This is a gun ship not a sissy merchanter. If you look closely you can see the cannon mounted on the side of the prow. That is most emphatically not a Nerf gun. It's a period correct replica of a repeating cannon manufactured in the 17th century by Theodor Geisel Armaments commonly referred to as a Ma Seuss. It's NFA of course. You can also see inside the main cabin. There's a 4x4 post just inside the doorway that holds the ships wheel. I put down some old carpeting I had from the bathroom/hallway remodel for padding. It's snug, cozy and a great clubhouse.

All in all I'm please with the result. The ship measures out at 7 1/2 feet wide by 20 feet long and 8 1/2 feet high not including the spars. It's surrounded by outdoor carpeting with gravel around the whole thing. It has swings, ropes, a basketball hoop and a rock to climb. The kids seem to enjoy it so I'm calling it a success.

Here's a random photo of Angus enjoying the play area just because he's so cute.

The yard was originally dirt and weeds. Lu took care of the weeds and I covered the rest with landscaping fabric, outdoor grass carpeting and gravel. That's 10 tons of gravel I moved by wheelbarrow, shovel, rake and a 5 gallon bucket. Each and every pebble. It really looks quite nice with the ship surrounded by a green sea and gravel shoals. There's plenty to do and it's a nice place for adventures and fantastical voyages of imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed the build with enthusiastic help from Sarge and Lu. It was all done off the cuff and straight out of my head. I think that's called seat of the pants engineering. All you real engineers should probably just look away. I tended to over build and it's managed to stand up to hard play and the usual Hurricane winds. This place is aptly named. The kids are going to take some paint to it and decorate it to their hearts content. It also needs a name. Monikers are being bandied about and as soon as one is chosen it will be painted on the prow.

This was a true labor of love. We managed to turn a couple of hundred square feet of dirt, mud and weeds into a play area for the kids that will hopefully allow them good, clean fun and a chance to exercise their imaginations as well as their bodies. I hope it reflects that.

30 Days of Thanks- D26

I am immensely thankful for imagination.  Watching my kids play with Angus, out in the Pirate ship, making up games, is seriously amazing.  They are so creative!  My kids make books,  build amazing Lego creations, are creative problem solvers, and they see life in an amazing way.  Imagination allows for fascinating books, beautiful art, and fantastical science.  Imagination allows for a more interesting world, for a more creative existence, and for a more fulfilled life.

~The DO

25 November 2011

Return Of TheRedneckEngineer

What with the arrival of the kids and all I missed the blog return of a favorite. TheRedneckEngineer is back and getting ready to blog again and that is a very good thing. People who can build guns from scratch and are willing to write up their projects are rare and precious folks. You can find a link to his site over on my blogroll.

Welcome back brother, we've missed you.


30 Days of Thanks- D25

I'm late posting today, as we've been enjoying our Thanksgiving meal a day late but with much  joy, love and laughter.  Today I'm very thankful for the internet.  It has allowed me to keep in contact with my family in way that you didn't use to be able to, making living so far away a bit easier.

~The DO

I'm not lazy Mr. President - I Am Boxer

-I've had a job and earned an income for 44 years, since my first paper route when I was 8 years old.
-I've paid thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of dollars in taxes, much of which has gone to feed the voracious appetite of the entitlement programs of this country.
-I pay my debts, including my mortgages and college expenses for myself ad my wife to earn our degrees and professional diplomas so we could increase our earning power and spend more money on taxes.
-I've given freely to charity.
-My chosen professions have damaged my body and left me with injuries that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
-I have shunned the spotlight and declined notoriety for it's own sake.
-I have helped those who needed me and protected those who could not protect themselves.
-I voluntarily wore the uniform of my country and swore myself to her defense.
-I have laid my life on the line in defense of the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
-I have given first aid to the injured and had some of them die in my arms.
-I have never asked for a thing beyond a fair chance to make my own way in the world.
-I am obliged to no one and don't ask anyone else to be obliged to me.
-I am a gun owner who has never used a firearm to take anothers life though I am prepared to defend anyone from the horrors inflicted on the innocent by the evil.
-I have never sought to be thought a victim for my own ill choices.
-I have done harm and sought forgiveness. I have had harm done to me and forgiven.
-I have done all this and more without complaint and I am not alone. Most of my fellow countrymen have done and endured far more than I.
-All my life has been spent in the pursuit of excellence and Independence. My share of the American Dream. That vision may not be shared by all but that is the very essence of what it means to be American. Our dreams may vary but the idea that we are masters of our own fate, beholden to none, independent entities free to pursue our idea of Happiness without coercion of others is ultimately what separates us from the rest of the world.
-The president says I am lazy, that I need to do more. The occupy protesters say I owe them what I have earned, that I need to give them more.

-The words of the President and the violent crowds screaming for my blood and that of those just like me makes me grieve for a nation filled with the indolent, the narcissistic, the immature and the ignorant. I, and those millions of Americans just like me, have labored for decades to do a little more with a little less. We have searched for ways to work just a little harder, a little longer. Striven to make and keep America great only to see it being sold to the glue factory for the price of a barrel of whiskey.
-I say the President is right, I haven't done enough. Here's my answer to OWS and you Mr. President.
-I am Boxer, magnificent yet flawed with too much trust and too little suspicion. The one who's motto was "I will work Harder". I am neither Napoleon not Squealer. Honest, hard working Americans work, they do not connive and seek power over others. So I will work harder. To make sure the OWS legacy is remembered as ignorant, psychopathic violence masquerading as social justice. To make sure you Mr. President are remembered as the one term, abject failure that you are and nothing more. To ensure my grandchildren grow up in a free and prosperous America.
-Yes, I am Boxer but one who has learned his lessons at great pain. I will work harder but somehow I don't think you and ows crowd will be happy about it Mister President.
-Vote them out. Vote them all out.

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving To You

My daughter has been posting the 30 days of Thanksgiving all this month. I'll add my voice to hers. I am truly thankful for her and my beautiful grandchildren as well as a son-in-law who has treated them so well and givenb their care over to us so many times without complaint. I can't wait to see them in just a few hosrt hours. My heart sings with joy.

I am also thankful for each and every one of you out there who visit with us and leave us your precious thoughts and ideas. You have shown me so much kindness and support I cannot begin to show my respect and admiration for you.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. May you celebrate this and many more with those you love.


30 Days of Thanks- D24

(After Vienna with my husband yesterday, the kids and I are on a plane today on our way home)

 (All the Rockwell photos found here)

Family, friends, home, peace, joy.

 Thanksgiving is an awesome day, one of my very favorites, and I'm very thankful I'll be getting to spend it with family.

I'm also very thankful for the Wright Brothers, since it will take me 17 hours, and not 17 weeks, to get from Hungary to Utah today!

Happy Thanksgiving all, may it be truly blessed.

~The DO

23 November 2011

Challenge Update

So far so good. It's been tough but with the support of family and friends (Thanks Laura and Michael!!!) I'm within spitting distance (Pun!!) of my goal. The first few days were the worst but it's getting better. Late evening walks with Lu, Chrisi and Angus are helping. Lu has even turned over the decision on her holster over to me so at least she's confident. The DO and the grandkids will be here tomorrow and that will also help. I can't wait to see them tomorrow.

Michael, I hope all is well with you. Hang in there my friend. The finish line is in sight!


30 Days of Thanks- D23

(We are all in Vienna today enjoying our last European city trip before we move, hence my thoughts about moving!)

I am beyond thankful that the military moves us, rather than having to do it myself.  Nothing beats telling other people what to pack, and where to put it!

~The DO

22 November 2011

30 Days of Thanks- D22

I'm thankful for Hungary, and for the Hungarians, and for the people of Pápa.  I know I've done the whole living abroad thing already in this 30, but as I sit here on my last full day in this country, perhaps never to return, I'm a bit nostalgic. Hungary has been good to us, and it is a great place to live and to travel.  A new chapter is exciting, but sometimes it's hard to turn the page...

~The DO

21 November 2011

God, Gals, Guns, Grub On Carrying

Dann brings the big guns out and intelligently opines on a topic near and dear to my heart. What do you bring to the gunfight? I wrote about this in September, Carry as much gun as you can, but Dann does it better.

While you're at it head on over to Brigid's place and peruse her writings on this as well as many other firearms subjects. Tam might have written one or two posts that might possibly be on topic. How about Miguel or Fred or Murphy's Law or Borepatch or Frank or Michael or Keads or The Mad Ogre or Rourke or Mr. Completely or North or ASM826 or Say Uncle or Breda or Kevin or Oleg or WhenTheBalloonGoesUp or, well, you get the idea (and my apologies to anyone I missed, it was unintentional. I get easily distracted by shiny things).

My point is that there's a wealth of information out there just in my blogroll. People who are educated and experienced and who have nothing to sell and no hidden agenda beyond a desire to voluntarily give of the knowledge they've gained in lifetimes of effort and sometimes dangerous work. People we should all read, listen to and heed. And they're just the literal tip of the iceberg. A casual perusal of their writings and blogrolls yields a veritable wealth of folks who have been there and done that when it comes to firearms and self defense. And here's the funny thing. None of them, not a single one, will look you in the eye and tell you they are the be all/end all of shooting and bad guy defeating. It's the instructors responsibility to justify their teachings and advice and everyone who opines on these subjects is presenting themselves as teachers or subject matter experts and yes, that does include me and this very post. Don't be afraid to call BS when you see it. A good instructor welcomes hard questions.

For me the bottom line is this. Do your homework. Ask questions (and in that vein question everything you're told). Be a cautious consumer. Take everything with a large grain of salt. Ask yourself (and whatever source you're considering) what they're selling, especially if it's themselves. I've been to a lot of shooting/self defense classes and all instructors are not created equal. By the same token, someone I hate may be the bee's knees for you. Like instructors, students are as different as their needs and learning abilities. It's your money, spend it wisely.

I'll end this scribbling with something I've said many times and will continue to say. The 'experts' may be right or they may be wrong on any given subject but which they are depends on you; who you are, what you want, what you need and what you can afford. Knowing that is the beginning of wisdom in a field rife with gadgets, charlatans, tactical cool, fan boys, big boys and a disappointing tendency toward a herd mentality.

Carry. Carry what you can, what you believe in, what you can afford but carry. Train. Beg, borrow or steal the best instruction you can find and afford. This is an area which surprisingly does not follow the 'you get what you pay for' meme. There's an awful lot of very good free information out there if you dig a little. There's also an awful lot of high priced ignorance and stupidity. Figuring out which is which and who is who is the essence of becoming and staying an informed shooter. Discernment isn't just a fancy word, it's a requirement. And if someone calls you a fool because you don't carry what they recommend or train the same way they do then consider the source, learn what you can of value from them and move on. Self defense is a subject that is vitally important and it's far too easy to get discouraged by the ramblings of the self described elite. The mall ninja meme is funny right up to the point where you've paid for it and the price might be very dear indeed.

A big Thank You to all the gunnies on my list (and those I neglected to mention). I have learned something important from each and every one of you. And it didn't cost me a thing except a little time. Your efforts may go essentially unrewarded on the web but they don't go unappreciated. I hope you continue.