Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dark Musings

Our morning is dark with hard rain and the lights of the shop glow intensely and the traffic gives that wet tire zing as it flows on the street. My office window has a tin overhang and the rain pounds it like lead shot which is very soothing, and I'm darn near ready for a nap before the clock strikes nine.

I guess I haven't a need to state the obvious, but I will - I've been in a grave deep funk, depression if you will, these last few weeks. The reason, or reasons, are not important, they're mine alone and I shall deal with them.

 I've lost myself in books. Long hours here at the shop. On a bright note, Sweet Wife has joined her church choir. She sings like a Nightingale. I've attended the last two Sunday services as support. I like to see her, standing among the group, her cute little shy smile like a ray of sun on a cloudy day. She's happy. And now, she wants to return to school for a nursing degree. She's had it with the financial world. I told her she has my full support. I'll live on beans and rice to make her goals come true.

I truly appreciate your support as I've taken this wee bit of time away from the internet and my blog. I will make every effort to continue to write, weak as my limited talent allows.

Change of pace....a fella, kinda of a city slicker, walks into the shop and removes an object from his man-purse. Hands it to me. Said, "Wanna buy this?"

I take it, give it a glance and return it to him, "No."

"Why not?"

So I explained that first of all it was a ticket to ten years in federal prison. It was once a twenty-two rifle, old and I thought perhaps once upon a time a military training rifle. The barrel had be shortened to just shy of ten inches by hacksaw. It's stock removed by same to form a hand grip. Black tape applied - ugly. The bolt and magazine were both missing. Useless.

Him, "Oh. Well, okay, here you can have it." He walks out.

I gave it to a friend. My friend likes ugly stuff.

Until then,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Yes, I know, I've been busy - so there. This is supposed to be my busy season. Not so much. This economy has kicked my butt. At least the weather is nice.

Spent most of yesterday in my garage sorting through my Coleman stoves and lanterns. I own a bunch...many wait for restoration. I have three stoves completely restored, two in stages and another torn down. I enjoy the work but I'd never be able to sell them and recoup my investment in parts and time. As they say it's a labor of love.

Anyway, a fella recently asked if I had one for sale. We settled on a price so this morning I lugged the beautiful old girl into the shop and it now sits in my office. Thing is - well, now I'm not so sure I want to let her slip away. The price I quoted wouldn't cover a tank of gas for my truck.

But a deal is a deal.


Our group gathered at the farm this past weekend and I missed it. Here I am the founder of this bunch of like minded individuals, and I let them down. Talk about an awful feeling....but, sometimes life just gets in the way.

Me, the guy that has always pounded the mantra, group first, screwed the pooch. Sorry guys. My friend and fellow group member, Senior, posted a nice note and described the day's activities. Bet they didn't miss me for a moment.

Bunch of slackers...


I will make extreme effort to make the blog rounds today...if work allows. Kinda miss you guys.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just So You Know

If you walk in off the street and you're wearing baggy pants and have your hat draped to the side with two AR's wrapped in blankets and you're about fifteen years old...

Why in the name of all that's holy would you appear surprised when I ask where you stole the firearms.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Drip, drip

Broken water line into the shop goes, whoosh. Plumber, all smiles. Gives me a lolly-pop. I want to punch his lights out.

What the's only money.


Monday, November 11, 2013

A Piece of My Heart

It had been stored in our attic, the red tricycle - Little Bit's ride when she was still ours to love. It was, in those days, parked in our garage in wait of her visits, and I can still see her tiny legs pump the red Flyer down our driveway and her screams of joy linger still.

Yesterday Sweet Wife came to me and said, "Get it down so I can clean it."


"I want it posted on Craigslist and sold."

Again, I asked, "Why?"

Her eyes were set to determination. I knew it best to drop the subject. I complied.

She took it from my arms and wiped away the dust, gave it a coat of wax. It shines. A pretty little red Radio Flyer - a tiny piece of Little Bit. I still remember her third birthday when it was presented to her. It had a big pink bow tied to the seat. Now, sadly, all that remains are the memories and three light scratches.

How does one price a piece of your heart.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Come to Papa

These, will happen.


Just as soon as I make a run for the ingredients.

Give 'em a try.


Just Stuff

When I walked outside for the paper, this morning, I found a thick fog and the river was flat and I felt wrapped in silence. Smoke twisted from my neighbor's chimney and gave the slightly chilled air a brambly oak scented undertone. Acorns splatted the roof of our travel trailer as the squirrels fed.

I need to splat a few of them for the pot.

Fall, is the best.

Fifty years ago I'd of been out the door and deep into the oak groves well before sunrise. Back then I humped an old single shot four-ten purchased Lord knows where. It suited my purposes. It along with my worn hand me down tan hunting vest, and a lunch, and about ten shotshells, and my trusty nine shot .22 revolver comprised my gear.

Tree selection wasn't important as long as it was situated deep in the woods. I'd settle my young backside at the base of the tree and wait. The squirrels moved early and I took any target offered. Seems like I'd sit their for hours but in reality when the sun reached the peaks of the tree tops I'd ease out.  With my gathered game I'd move quietly towards the dark creek and field dress my furry friends. I dressed the squirrels with a half rusty old Barlow I'd found at my school bus stop. Even though it held a good edge it had seen better days. I just liked the name, Barlow. I remember this tidbit because I'm sure it's still snuggled deeply in the mud on the bottom of the creek where I lost it that day.

I still remember the stark white banks of the creek, the sand polished by eons of rain and yearly floods, tiny bleached bones of ancient rock, and how it squeaked underfoot. The creek sat beneath high banks where palmettos and cabbage palms formed walls of green and brown. Afterwards I'd fill my canteen with the tepid tannin water and then retreat to a dry place in the brush for my lunch.

I always had a small fire for company. Lunch was simple. Do you remember those logs of red paper wrapped bologna. That was lunch. I'd cut my slices thick and unceremoniously slap the slices between two slabs of bread sans condiments and then wrap my sandwiches in wax paper. I liked my lunches simple. Creek water and bare meat and bread - a ten year old kids fantasy of mountain men.

I'd often kick out the fire and walk the creek towards the railroad tracks  - the long way home. While on the trail I'd pretend to be Jim Bridger, the famous mountain man. As a child any mountain man was my hero but Jim held the honor as I had just finished his biography. Even kept a flint and steel in my gear bag which amounted to nothing more than dead weight.

It was a long walk back to our little house. I had to travel the tracks, cross a huge field of cattle and its six barbed wire fences, but I enjoyed the time. Then, back to the world of farm work and family and school, and my books. The boots stomped free of dirt and cleaned and placed near the back door of our little house. Inside my mother would smile and praise me as the great hunter of the family.

Another day in the silence of the woods lost forever. Then she'd always ask, "Did you leave a little piece of yourself among the oaks for memories?"

I'd answer, "Always." 

"Good. Then your dreams will be filled with happiness."




Saturday, November 9, 2013


I try, I really do try to write everyday. It's just these silly bumps in my life get in the way and hamper forward progress. Like this morning.

Walked outside to drive to work and my morning paper wasn't in its usual spot on my driveway. Thought, oh well. I'll call at the office and have another delivered. Went online and my account had a red flag, the 'ole red flag said my account was delinquent. Called the suckers. It wasn't. Lady explained they'd received my check the fifth of the month and would immediately have a replacement delivered.

Fine, but for some reason a little worm in the back of my memory flipped and I began to check all my accounts. Back around the first of the month I thought I'd lost a bundle of mail, checks, but convinced myself I had indeed placed the stack of mail in our outbox. All was well, of course, but my investigation only took two hours.

Then, the lock set and knob of the front door to my shop broke, again, this morning. Flipped the switch for the lights and four bulbs over the shop's front porch went sizzle. Now I face a trip to the local hardware store and several hours of repairs after I close today.

And, my medication awaits at the local pharmacy which only took two days to renew...and, well you get the picture.

I should be back to normal, soon. That is if nothing else breaks or disappears or doesn't find its way to the lost and found.

Bumps in life are a pain in the butt. Literally.


Thursday, November 7, 2013


I feel like I've lost a member of my family, a brother. This is what happens when I take a blog break.

I wish my friend, Paladin, all the best.


Bits and Pieces

Our recent Nor'easter has diminished. I'll miss it as I like the cloudy rainy days and wind. Temperatures have leveled to the mid-seventies with low humidity. The dryness gives me drive.

I've purged my office. It's clean, less cluttered and the dust has all but been eliminated. Yesterday I humped six huge garbage bags of junk to the trash container and with each trip I dumped years of memories. I'm sure I made some bum very happy as he dumpster dived last night.

Anyone want a 1951 model Burroughs cash register? It works.


Our group met here at the shop last evening. We've agreed to cancel our table at the monthly gun show, for reasons we'll not discuss. We have though agreed to attend and sell at a later date, perhaps early next year. Shucks.

The group will have its monthly work day in a couple of weeks and should be fun. After our planned projects are completed we'll hit the firing range and blast vast quantities of small caliber lead down range. We'll restrict ourselves to small lead as hunting season is underway and its a real pain in the rear to explain dozens of bullet riddled bodies hanging from deer stands. Laws kinda funny about such stuff.

What tics me off is these Fudd's are well aware their hunting grounds back our firing range. It's a shame they can't be sports about it and wear bright orange targets on their backs.

But what 'da heck, .22's are cheap.


Now, a chapter from the daily news without commentary....

I've had at least a half dozen customers come in and complain they've lost their medical insurance. All are self-employed. One man explained if he chose the plan offered by his agent/insurance company, his monthly premiums would double and his deductible jumps from three thousand to seven per year.



Under a box in my office I've just found a stash of long lost military brass.  In total, about a thousand pieces. I'll not count. Seems to be a mixture of (in civilian terms) '06 and .308.

It's time to hit the bench.

Later, and hey, be careful out there.



Sunday, November 3, 2013


I made another winter season prep early this morning. I emptied my rain gauge, and set our timepieces back...then our water heater timer. She hates cold showers. There, done.

Last Sunday I decided it was well past time to trim our hedges and in the process disturbed about sixteen paper wasp nests. Those little yellow boogers took offense at the loss of their homes. Anyway, this morning when I removed the rain gauge from its mount I found a bundle of tiny paper wasp between the mount and the plastic tube. They barely moved in our high forty degree coolness. I felt awful. I really like the little spider killers since I hate spiders. Me and spiders have history.

So, I stepped back into the garage and took an old wooden matchbox, emptied it and returned and scooped the little yellow demons inside and placed them on a window ledge. I left a slip of a crack  for their escape. Hey, it's the least I can do after destroying their home and offspring. I know. I'm weird.


About the Corn and Shrimp Chowder.  This is a rough recipe since I cook by feel and taste and consistency. Here goes nothing....

4 to 6 ears of fresh corn.

Several slices of bacon, rendered, or four or five tablespoons of pork fat.

1 very large onion. I use sweet onions.

Kosher salt to taste.

Paprika, to taste. I seldom measure.

Ditto, cayenne pepper and/or a good Cajun spice blend.

2 or 3 tablespoons of flour.

2 large baked potatoes. Leftovers are fine. I normally purchase baking potatoes and nuke about eight minutes.

5 to 6 cups milk/cream. I use a combination of low-fat milk and half and half cream. For five cups I use three of milk and two of cream. Try and use the five cups for a richer chowder.

1 to 2 pounds fresh shrimp depending on availability. It's fine to use fresh frozen. Although fresh shrimp requires increased prep time it will make a huge difference in taste.

2 cups chopped baby arugula, or to taste.

Take the corn and very carefully cut the kernels from the cob. Scrap the corn milk from the cob and set aside. Please, don't hack off your fingers...

Scrub the baked potatoes and slap 'em in the nuke machine. Then, clean and peel the shrimp. Do not allow the shrimp to warm, keep cold. Meanwhile render the bacon...I know, but it is possible to prep several items at once. I do.

When the bacon fat is hot, chop and caramelize the onion. Take your time and really get a good brown on those onions as you'll want the smoky sweet flavor. Add seasoning and butter as they brown. Stir often. Adjust flame as needed. Now, grab the potatoes and rough chop, set aside.

When the onion has reached nirvana, dump in the corn and stir and cook for about ten to fifteen be the judge but I like to see a little brown on the kernels.

A word on spices - lean heavy on the cayenne pepper and paprika. If you can't taste the seasoning, well, you've failed. I also include a few good dashes of Cajun seasoning...but, it's your chowder so cook to taste.

Before I forget (Sorry 'bout this.) You may either include the bacon or set aside and crumble over the individual dishes when served. I cook my bacon in the chowder.

After the corn/onion mixture has reached perfection add two tablespoons of flour and stir and thicken. Now, add the potatoes and milk/cream mixture and stir. Drop in additional butter if desired. Lower the heat and simmer for at least thirty minutes. Stir often, please don't burn. I use a hotplate over my gas flame and will sometimes allow to simmer as long as an hour. She, hovers and will ask ever so often, "Is it ready?" Drives me nuts.

You want the chowder to be chunky and thick. If, its too thick for your taste it's fine to add just a bit more milk but be conservative.

About fifteen minutes prior to serving stir in the shrimp, and continue to stir until the shrimp turn pink...DO NOT OVERCOOK. When the shrimp turn pink they're finished. Overcooked shrimp turn to rubber. You'll want to taste the sea, not gum it to death.

Now, throw in the chopped arugula. I'm of two minds on this..she likes the arugula cooked in the dish, I like it sprinkled. Either works for me. You do it your way.

There...enjoy. If you have questions, ask. There are two or three, or maybe four things I love in life. God, Guns, and fine food. Well, books too. Then there's my wife and grandchildren...and campfires, and....


When she returns from church this morning she will return with an afternoon guest, a six year old tiny bundle of a wispy girl.

Halloween night I was invited to attend her church's trunk and treat block party. They used the excuse the church needed security and would I be able to attend with my wife and stand guard as the pack of children panhandled for sweets. I was also to bring two folding chairs and sit with my wife, and also if I pleased, bring along two hula-hoops. Sniff....and, ah, please bring several bags of individually wrapped candy pieces and containers. If I pleased, they'd love it if I were to also kindly hand out this welfare candy to the little critters and judge their hula-hoop contest, and oh, if possible please purchase gifts, like boxes of crayons for the hula-hoop champs.

Oh, and please if you will to arrive early...yes, we'd like it if you close your business early as we need help. After all, it's for the Lord and our church and since your wife is a paid in full member we're sure you will not mind at all....

The voluntary service to her church only cost me one hundred and sixty-five dollars. But, I got a date out of it.

Six times that night the little booger ran over and give me a hug and asked if she could please spend the night. We agreed on today. Should be interesting.

That evening, after the festivities, I was given a big hug and kiss and a pat on the bottom for my troubles.

Now, please excuse me as I need to ready myself for my afternoon date. Where did I store those old Barbie dolls.



Saturday, November 2, 2013


She said, "It's time for you to blog. You're lazy and it isn't fair to your followers." 

I said, "Heh," or something similar.

I stood in the kitchen and continued my corn and shrimp chowder, and let me tell 'ya, it smells so friggin good. She stood nearby and repeated herself. Then, "Post about your chowder."

So much for my book vacation.

My plans were to take a few days off, which I've done, and try and make a dent in my 'to read list.' At present I'm knee deep into The Lost Years by Barry Broadfoot. Highly recommended.

So there, my current state of affairs is loaded to the side of peace filled with easy music, books, and a nice pot of fresh corn and shrimp chowder. If the mood strikes I may move my watch back an hour tonight....or not.

Kinda blue, isn't it....the shrimp is added about fifteen minutes prior to serving. Chop about a cup of fresh arugula and sprinkle when served. If enough interest is generated I will take the time and write out the recipe....its locked away somewhere way back in the dark dank interior of my mind.

Take care.