Well, that, and the fact that my wife was hankering for some good comfort food.
So along with some soft-cooked cheesy chive eggs, I made "Duster Bacon"
It didn't write down any exact measurements, but the recipe is flexible with good results. About a half cup brown sugar in a pyrex dish. I added (1 tsp) fresh ground black pepper, 2 tsp onion powder (not salt), 1/2 tsp powdered cayenne pepper. Mix. I added enough water to make the mix into a slurry. Added a tsp of molasses. Nuked it for about a minute or two - enough to make the mix into a hot syrup.
I coated all of the bacon (two pounds) and then broiled the bacon on drip racks.
Thanks to everyone who posted kind words of support in part I of my post. Your messages were conveyed throughout the day and it meant the world to me. Thank you!
This afternoon, we went to my Father In Law's house in a very rural area. As his nearest neighbors also have a gun range in their side field, he didn't think they'd say boo if we squeezed off a shot or two. Here is the side yard. We set the target up next to the forsythia. You can see the rolling fields behind; nothing behind my target but fallow field.
I was nervous and excited as we set up to shoot. I think anticipation got the better of me, and thinking about what was going to happen had my stomach a little flip floppy. I trust my husband, I knew I am safe, I knew I was following those "4 Golden Gun Rules"...but I was still nervous.
Unfortunately, my Father In Law went inside to answer a phone call just before I actually started shooting, and he had the camera. I did not notice him leave; I was concentrating too closely on the instruction. FIL took 2 pictures before he left the area. These are when I was practicing holding the gun, and simply feeling the weight. Hence, no eye protection, no ear protection ( yet ). I assure you, I did wear both.
Though the .22 is bulky, my husband had me start with an odd duck of a gun, his Savage Model 501 .22 LR. See the bolt action? I'm left handed, and found it a little odd to work the bolt.
My husband had me shoot this gun for one main reason - it has no recoil whatsoever. It is relatively quiet, and he thought a perfect gun to shoot first. I liked the way I held it in my hands, and the relatively soft noise and no recoil made me feel instantly comfortable. I was eager, however, to get to a hand gun.
Next, I fired the Smith & Wesson 9mm. I liked the feel of it in my hand. It was compact, and relatively light. I had a good experience with the .22, so going into the 9mm, I was confident and feeling capable.
It was loud - louder than I expected, even with ear protection. It was powerful. I could feel the bullet leave the chamber. I felt the more pronounced ( but definitely controllable ) recoil. I felt comfortable squeezing the trigger, and did a respectable job hitting my target. This is what is at the center of the foam target, in the practice pics above.
My husband was very pleased with how well I did, and handed me the .45 Kimber. Heavy sucker!!
I looked at him dubiously, but raised the gun as he showed me, and fired. Power. Recoil. Decibels. I instantly realized after one shot that I was over shooting for my experience level, and handed it back to him with a smile. I imagined hearing "Don't do that again until you are ready" whispered in my ear ( Thank you, North! ) and demurred on firing it again. I think he got caught up in the moment as I did well with the S&W. I got caught up, too.
I wasn't scared. I didn't freeze. I was confident after my initial trepidation - serene and collected. I shot a gun - several guns - without incident. And I mean to do it again.
North is the reason I came to be in this place. Challenging me to overcome my fear and move past it. I would have kept myself cloistered from guns were it not for his guidance, support, and gentle shoves in the right direction. I truly appreciate your confidence in me, North!
I didn’t grow up with them. My father was not a hunter, not a boy from the country. I had no exposure to guns, no acclimation. As a young teenager, an unkind relative played a “trick” on me involving a small caliber handgun ( no clue what it was… ) that resulted in a bloody nose for me. Since then, guns have terrified me. I can be in a drugstore shopping for hairspray and band-aids, walk down the aisle and see a police officer – and my eyes instantly go one place: the gun holster. I am transfixed; a deer in headlights. I see the gun, and only the gun.
When I married my former Marine almost 20 years ago, I gained not just a husband, but his collection of firearms. I wanted nothing to do with them, and firmly insisted they stayed unseen – away from my eyes. Out of sight, out of mind. He would occasionally hunt, occasionally go shooting…but I did not have to actively think about the fact firearms were in my home.
About 10 years ago, a need to live a more genuine life had me searching for answers to questions I didn’t even know I was asking. Over 6 years ago, a need to connect with people I didn’t know with different viewpoints and opinions than mine had me reaching out online and making connections, friendships, relationships. God Bless Joss Whedon. Had it not been for him, I might have missed one of the most important connections in my life.
Hand in hand with these changes has been the sincere desire to break free from chains that bound me. Health concerns. Detrimental bad habits. Hurtful thought patterns. Fear. I’ve made many changes in my life in the past 5 years to better myself. I quit smoking. I’ve lost weight that held me back. I’ve accepted certains truths about myself rather than fight them tooth and nail.
Today is a big step in that direction. Facing a fear that has bound me for years: my fear of guns.
There is, when you are overwhelmed by looking at your own woes, always a source of comfort out there. You have to look up, you might need to reach out, but the comfort can always be found in a caring friend.
There are a lot of feelings of being a young child that are lost as you somewhat reluctantly wrap yourself in the experiences of being an adult. The magical warm feeling of Christmas is one easily identified, the dark frights of Halloween is another.
Having a Snow Day reminds me of certain feelings long lost to time. There were a lot of winter weekend days with a heavy snow fall - heavy enough to be forcing the sounds of the world into a dampened muffle - equal to or greater than a Snow Day. The weekend blizzards should have generated the same feelings in me as a weekday since they had nearly identical weather, but they did not.
If I woke early, I could hear the difference in the way that the house sounded. If I had seen the snow fall heavy the night before, I had likely fallen asleep with the thoughts of a Snow Day in my mind. On wakening I would listen first before I would dare look. I would listen while lying in my dark room in my warm bed. I would listen again for the absence of sound. Whereas most days when I woke I could hear neighbors going to work in cars, or even just warming them up while scraping the windows, on a potential snow day there would be a lack of these busy sounds.
And then I would look. I would open the curtains and see if there was snow and ice plastered against the windows. If there was, I would look over the whole window for a small spot I could peep through to see outside. Nature would want to still be dark, but man would usurp that condition with the yellow glare of a street light. It is that very light that would be my beacon, my guide.
Looking out a small clear spot in the window, looking through the spindly bare branches of decorative shrub, looking out past the evergreen tree that was planted at my height but in a short time shot up to become a giant I would look at the pristine soft blanket of white snow.
Depth perception was inhibited. There was nothing to reference as a scale. My single eye would see a marshmallowy mound where Dad's truck should have been. Seeing tires on the side, or any part of the toothy and dented grill would have meant that all bets were off. But if all was covered, if all was an unbroken pillowy smoothness, then there was a chance for Snow Day.
The last step to take was the dangerous step. Morning ritual was to get cleaned and dressed, and only then to walk up the steps to the kitchen for breakfast. This morning the mission was to break those rules. This morning still pajama-clad I would slowly and quietly sneak far enough up the steps to listen for the radio. My parents would have the radio on listening for school closings.
I would hear snippets of the announcer speaking, but nothing clear. It was AM, and I was well out of line of sight. I would hear only partial business and school names interrupted by static, and muffled by my location hidden on dark stairs.
But I didn't need to hear the name of my school ring out as clear as a bell in order to know. I only had to listen again for something that wasn't there, and then for something that was. My parents would be the translators of muffled sounds and static, for they too were listening to that broadcast. The nothing I heard from my parents told me that they were drinking their coffee quietly so that they themselves could listen.
If I then heard my parents, it was again not words that I would listen to, but the emotions of the exchange between them. I could tell by the sudden presence and the certain timbre of their voices that my school was closed for the day. I would slink down the stairs and back into my bed asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
There are events that happen in in a person's life that are dramatic and very life changing.
There are other times when what happens is a small nudge. A little movement. Not revolutionary, but evolutionary. A step from the current status to something new. This may not come with a lot of fanfare, may not involve fireworks, may not leave you dizzy or breathless. But it may change your life as a great thing, even though it is something in a small package.
My life received that this weekend, as a heart was graciously opened to me. A life was unlocked. I would maintain that it had been long in that state, but just unobserved. I may be right. Very likely right.
Nonetheless, without flashing lights and sirens a small event in the universe became an important event in my life as a key was turned, pins moved, and a tumbler rotated to open a lock.
The key was then cast into the forge from whence it came, forever dissolved. The lock jammed open, unlikely to ever be closed again.
For a gun that you carry - perhaps concealed, perhaps openly - for self defense you should be carrying hollow point bullets. Unlike a round nose bullet, a hollow point bullet will expand as it passes into tissue. A round nose bullet may pass through a body into an innocent person.
You might have a lot of 'range' guns that you take to the range and practice putting holes in paper. You might do that for sport. Round nose or wad cutter bullets are fine for this and much less expensive than hollow point bullets.
You should also be practicing with your carry piece. If you are running a lot of rounds through your carry gun, then using the less expensive round nose bullets is fine. You should, however, practice some with the rounds that you carry in your gun - the rounds that you will be using for self-defense.
Even though the cost per hollow point round can be two or three times the cost of a round-nose bullet, You need to make sure that that particular brand of hollow point ammunition will work in your gun at a critical time. You need to make sure that it feeds, fires, and ejects without issue. The time to find out that your ammo choice isn't right for your gun is at the range, not during a life and death situation.
Masculinity is not dead, despite society's effort to try to kill it.
As I grew up it there was a general perception that men were too gruff, too violent, too uncaring. I noticed an assault on men by 'feminists'. An attack on how men were, how they behaved. They were considered chauvinist pigs. They were primitive cavemen.
I grew up with this. I grew up with sitcoms that bashed the cigar-smoking, poker playing man. Tide commercials with women wrinkling their noses at the presence of a man's laundry. What was communicated was that there was something wrong with men in general. Or at least that was what was driven into me.
But the caveman was fixed by making him a sensitive wimp. The gruff man was emasculated. Cut down, not improved. Man became polyester disco weenies, man became preppy effeminate pansies. And now what does the world have as a result?
The caveman could be called upon to change the oil in your Chevy. The caveman would repair a woman's roof, build things. Kill spiders. The caveman might have grunted too much, may have drank too much. Wasn't polite in mixed company. But the caveman was a man.
A transition occurred. It was once that the "Wifey" served up a steak meal for her man. Unfair and sexist, and fuel for a positive change. The change, though, turned modern man into a weak passive herbivore. Modern man was forced to fix his faults by no longer being a man.
The fix to 'improve' man took away too much. Watered a strong man down to a woman that could grow facial hair - but wouldn't of course. Men were conditioned to be sensitive, but as a result became nonsupporting. Men would cry with you, but no longer have a shoulder to cry upon.
It is the passionate carnivore that is needed. Modern man needs to be a man. A man that is masculine, but still a gentleman. A man that will show strength FOR a woman, not just TO a woman. A man that will work not for a wage, but for a family - for the honor and integrity of completing an honest day's work to provide and protect.
You can be a gentleman that has the caveman's masculine skills, but not bluntly delivered. Strength, not aggression. Character, not abruptness. Polite presence, not boorish intrusion. Persevere, don't retreat.
Step away from what others have defined for you. Don't be the man watered down by political correctness. Be an improved man for your wife, girlfriend, lover, friends, and family. Define your masculinity by the strength of your character.
This question was posed to me by North. I began to attempt to describe masculinity from my point of view – a woman’s take. Here are my words, unedited from the email(s) I sent him.
“Masculine is the passion a man has for things like hunting and sports. It is not being afraid of a difficult task, of taking care of ones own. It is the slightly stale smell of sweat, and lingering aftershave. It is grease under the fingernails and a callous on the hand. It is stepping up. It is knowing what is right and standing tall for it.
Masculine for a woman is a smell. A rough hand on a freshly shaved leg. Knowing with a phone call he will come and change your tire in the pouring rain...not because he has to, but because he has to.
For me, a man who is masculine has a definite set of ethics and goals. He stands by them, even when compromised. He is not afraid to stand up for them. It is a projection of self to the world around him. But it is more than that. I've met men who have definitely ethics and are strong - but are not masculine. A masculine man has a ready laugh, an occasional stubbly chin. He has a wardrobe that has changed little in 20 years; he knows what he likes to wear, and he wears it - well.”
I wrote these words to North not thinking they would be a blog post. I was trying to convey to him that for a woman, masculinity is sensory. It’s like they say about porn – you know it when you see it. For me, masculinity is more than a trait or characteristic, it is the way a man’s coat fits him, or rather, how he fills the coat. It’s how he reacts to stress and situations; it is how he provides for his family and those around him – physically and emotionally.
The comfort and quiet strength of a masculine man exudes self-confidence and a non boastful presence. He is aware of himself and his place in society, and in no uncertain terms knows what he wants, and how to get it. The masculine man doesn't mince words; sometimes, his words are rough hewn. But he means them. Every word, carefully crafted so to express what he needs to say – and perhaps nothing more. Often, nothing more is needed.
North’s words above remind me that there is a need for the Masculine in our society. We need to praise the resurgence of men who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe in, or who have big shoulders to offer in tough situations. We need men tempered by emotion who know that to raise their country up, the strength comes from within. Showing strength when need be. Making tough decisions, and standing by the consequences of their actions. Men who are masculine were a dying breed. Their “comeback” has been a quiet tide, rolling in unnoticed until recently.
Boss made a notation. "We'll discuss it later. What are the marks of a sick culture?"
"Friday, I think you have missed the most alarming symptom of all."
"I have? Are you going to tell me? Or am I going to have to grope around in the dark for it?"
"Mmm. This one I shall tell you. Go back and search for it. Examine it. Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named...but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot."
I buried a close friend yesterday. Attendance at the church ceremony was indicative of the love for the deceased - the church was as packed as I have ever witnessed. There were people crowded in tight in pews, people standing layers deep in back. People packed in hallways. It was beautiful and sad.
My lovely wife, and my teen son, and I were a bit of an anomaly in the way that we dressed. I could count the number of men on the fingers of one hand that were wearing suits (with the exception of the immediate family). I'm saddened that this has become society's norm. This is not how I was raised to show respect for loved ones. This change has been a slow degradation over the years and makes me feel that even paying respect for lost friends has been watered down to doing the least personal effort.
Worse: Women with extremely low cut blouses. This is a funeral. Show some damn dignity. You must have something in your closet other than the slutty blouses that you wear to the bars to get laid. Buy a camisole. Wear a wrap. Something in a muted color, not garish. Leave the outfit you wore instead for your pole dancing gig.
I will continue to maintain my standard, as antiquated as it appears to be. Black trench coat. Black suit, shirt, tie. Monogrammed handkerchief (plus several spares that I give away to crying women). My wife wore a dignified black outfit. My son out-dressed 95% of the men there. Yeah I'm talking to you Mr. bright-colored football team jacket.
My friend was taken away. But I still have manners, decency, and respect. This is something of me that I will not let be taken away.
I had planned a post about giving up things for Lent. I used to do that many years ago but don't any more.
I had planned to mention that I didn't get the point of giving up potato chips for a set time, only to indulge again after Lent. So I stopped playing that game. It was only that to me. Just a game.
But today I read Jennifer's post. There is a lot there to absorb, a lot to think about. Thank you, Jennifer, for opening my eyes. I still don't plan to just follow 'Lent', but instead plan to make changes a new permanent part of my life.
Very touching are Jennifer's words:
I have friends that don’t hesitate to embrace me even without knowing why I might need it. I have friends that I’ve never seen face to face that I love and love me in return. Thank you for that.
It isn't snowing, but drifting down just outside my window from the eaves were broken flakes of frost no longer able to withstand the tug of gravity. Frost formed to be ice wings of a mythical winter moth.