Thursday, August 6, 2015

It's Only a Fire

The thirty-five year old boy ran down the outside stairs and banged on my shop door...."Hey, Stephen, help, help."

Needless to say yesterday wasn't a fun day. This building dates to 1949, it's solid construction of concrete block and timber and has withstood the test of time. Well, it had until this man-child moved in upstairs.

Above my shop are two apartments - a very large two bedroom, and a nice studio unit. The boy lives in the studio. He's thirty-five with the maturity of a sixteen year old child.

He continually pisses me off.

And, yesterday he damn near brought this building down with his reckless and slothful ways. He explained he'd crawled from his bed to find water under the closet door - the location of the hot water unit, he then heard 'weird sounds.' He smelled smoke. So, he went back to bed.

Him, "I thought it would clear up and go away..."

Really, he said those exact words.

As he dozed, the water heater went - snap, crackle, pop.

The last pop was the safety valve saving this boy's life. Its design worked very well. It also woke the kid. That's when he ran downstairs to fetch me. I asked was there a problem.

I swear to all that's holy he said, "It's only a fire." I ran upstairs to find a nice mess, and the thermostat on fire. Put it out. Flipped the breaker. Ran back downstairs and closed the water valve to his unit.

The small studio apartment, of course, was flooded. The Boy, "Man, this sure is a mess, who's gonna clean it?"

Certain gene pools should be issued expiration dates.



Tuesday, August 4, 2015


If you'd like a copy you better hurry,

as there are only two copies left.


Coffee Time

Yes, it's early but I want....this.

Can't you just taste it.

Barbara has hit this one out of the park.


In other news - I have nothing this morning. Three new toys arrived via snail mail early this morning and my new/old items need to be sorted and fondled.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Up Front

I still remember the first time I read Up Front by Bill Mauldin. I was about twelve. Maybe thirteen, not sure, but anyway, our house had this special closet. It was filled with my father's 'don't you dare touch it things,' and it smelled wonderful.

When I'd crack the door, even just a bit, there was the scent of leather, Hoppe's Number Nine, and wool blankets - but I loved best that deep sweet smell of dusty books.

His books were piled high against the far wall, wonderful books. Books bound in leather and cloth, and here and there were jumbled piles of paperbacks.

One day I slipped inside in search of old copies of Field & Stream. I wanted to research the fine art of bass fishing, and if not bass, at least learn the art of bluegills. Instead I came upon a copy of Bill Mauldin's wonderful book.

I still own my father's copy of Up Front. It's a first with the original dust jacket now torn and crumbled and it barely clings to the binding but that's fine - its mine. Or, should I say, my dad's.

Sorry, Dad.

Willie and Joe became my childhood friends. At such a tender age I truly didn't understand all Bill's jokes, nor the implied sadness. By the age of fifteen or so I'd read the book at least a dozen times.

Last night I found and read Up Front again for the first time in over forty years, and understood. War is hell. The horror forever occupies space within those deep recesses of our minds. This scar is seldom, if ever, allowed the light of day.

If you too have a copy dig it out dust it off and read it again.

We owe it to Willie and Joe.



My morning routine is simple, after I park my truck I unlock the shop door then run through my setup for the days business - which leaves the difficult task of trash. 

Every night of the year critters drive by and throw their damn empty beer bottles, fast food bags, used condoms, crumpled cigarette packs, spent shell casings (really) out their car windows onto my shop's lot. Which leaves me, plastic bag in hand, a ticked off sanitation worker.

After I've policed the grounds I normally drop the mess into two large trash containers, blue bins. Couple of weeks back I opened the lid and found a very nice old Vornado fan. It was a small unit, heavy with brass and aluminum with its original electrical cord, and at first glace seemed perfectly fine, but on closer inspection I found the fan bent just ever so slightly.

It was mine.

Back in the shop I flipped her over and wrote down the model number. Quick Google search dated the fan's manufacture date between 1955 and 1958.

I adjusted the fan blade, took a screwdriver to her six support screws, topped off her two oil wells with twenty weight and connected her to a bit of electrical juice. She hummed like the day she was born.

Someone had dropped her. The little Vornado fan now has a place in my family room. Isn't it amazing the treasure we find in unexpected places.



Sunday, August 2, 2015

Slow and Easy

We attended church today.

Notice I said, 'we.' She insisted, so I said, "Yes, Dear." For said attendance she gave me the afternoon off - no chores or shopping or yard work. Just a nice quiet peaceful Sunday. Yes, she treats me awful on occasion but then she turns on a dime and is sweet as honey...go figure.

 (Please don't tell her I said so, begging here.)

It was time to practice the slow and easy method of reloading. The weather weirdos insisted we prepare for a vast and awful flood so I thought it time to try my hand. Went out into the garage and gathered components - powder, bullets, primers, and of course, brass and case lube.

It was fun. Hey, did you know that resizing brass with a hammer will leave marks - deep hairy oh my good gawd scars on your wife's nice portable wooden table....well, it will.

Yes, the 'ole Lee Loader is slow, but its relaxing and as I've said, fun. Take your friggin time. I screwed the pooch on the first four me when you flair the case mouth, tap lightly.

Not sure why I'm wasting my time here but maybe, just maybe, some young fella out there will find this roll your own ammo enjoyable some rainy afternoon this winter.

Above is the end result, a nice finished piece of .38 Special. I used very old Hougdon HD38 so only loaded an even dozen. Four minutes per round, start to finish, at a careful pace, was my best time. I'm told experienced God like creatures can beat me by three minutes.

Soon I'll take the dozen rounds to the range and put 'em thru my Model 19 Smith and we'll see if the vintage Hougdon becomes a display tin.


I smell porkchops. She's also whipping out peanut butter brownies.

What a nice afternoon. Rain, not yet, but my boat is tied out back.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Coffee Time

I can't bake worth a flip. Just being honest here. Which leaves me no other choice but to ask my Sweet Wife if she'll whip out a batch of these for me. In the meantime I'll be out back on the deck, when the rain eases off, shooting a mess of armadillos for tomorrows breakfast.

Y'all come, hear...

If you too would like to try this nice coffee treat the recipe is, here.



Storm Clouds

Business has been brisk, this morning. These notes are typed on the run....


This is the time of year when Floridians prepare for destructive storms - hurricanes and tropical depressions with all their heavy wind and rain.

Daybreak gave us a thick heavy layer of black dense clouds - hard rain is expected. August and September often kicks our butts. If a hurricane is birthed I pray the Good Lord smacks it aside and sends its evil winds elsewhere.


For the first time in many, many years I did not renew my subscription to Shotgun News. Today was accounts day here at my small business. Paid the important 'you gotta pay 'em' bills, and then turned to the less important maybe pieces, like for instance, American Handgunner magazine. I read Handgunner. On the other hand Shotgun News has become a slim rag of its former self. When last weeks issue arrived I simply flipped it on my reading table where it remains, ignored. Thus, I'll keep my money, unless they offer a huge discount on a two year subscription.

American Handgunner is here to stay. I read it cover to cover. Several days from now some young wet behind the ears kid will open an envelope marked as sent from River City Florida and extend my subscription...and, it'll be tax deductible.


Since I wrote the above two hours have slipped into history.

For two weeks now I've stepped outside the rear of the shop to look for the little raggedy kitten that lived in the weeds of the raised sewer bed.

When she first arrived I'd leave food and water on the back porch which was protected from the rain by an old aluminum awning. I'd return a few hours later to find the food gone. Before my nightly departure the pan was refilled, and of course the next morning I'd return to find it empty - so, either the kitten or the local raccoons had fed well during the night.

Took about three days for her to feel comfortable around me and not long afterwards she'd allow, give me permission, to scratch her ears. Within a week she decided she belonged in my office and would scoot pass me into the open door and land on my desk.

I named her Irish. I mean, come on, what did you expect....

She enjoyed face bumps. She was a cute little booger...

Sweet Wife says I'm just a big 'ole teddy-bear and a softy when it comes to creatures in need of care
...yeah, I guess so, can't help it.

One morning, a few days ago, I walked outside and Irish wasn't there....hasn't returned.

Kinda miss her.


Hey, time for work. Take care.