Shift Work

Ah, yes – after the amazing glory of almost an entire week off during a holiday Trooper is back to work. Night shift. Sigh…

Once again, my gun sits nearby, extra magazines with it. Once again, the dog is quietly shepherded to the pasture so that the Master can sleep. And, once again, the dinner hour is late so he isn’t starving when getting to the end of his night.

I’ve been enjoying some the quiet time by reading again, sorting through the inundation of catalogues, and working on my photo collection. And yet, there is still so much to get done. I often feel guilty about it. Laundry, dishes, clutter…no matter how much I try to remain on top of it, there is always more, sisyphean.

For Trooper, there is gun cleaning and uniform pressing, glove cleaning and shoe polishing. Fortunately (if one can say that), he just did much of it for the last funeral so it ought to be a bit easier to accomplish. He is quite serious about a boot polishing – all that water and flame, the plastic over his finger to avoid the transfer of polish through the rag. The edge dressing applied and then the boots laid away to keep things clean.

I was so pleased to see his photos, that perfect state of respect and alertness. An eye that does not see your mourning but protects it. I like how the gloved hands rest together over the buckle, then move in gently cupped folds to the pants seam. And the photo where every knee was caught in mid-raise, even and syncopated. I adore his dedication to the task and how much it matters to him that everything be just so.

I’ve no sense of detail like that except in photography. Only there do I strain for perspective, for balance and shading. I do sometimes miss it, those winter mornings on the trail where it was only myself and the crackling leaves. It was a kind of duty, a perimeter patrol. But it was a lonely one.

No, I suppose a pasture in chilly morning with a puppy’s head stuffed in a warren is close. Not exactly the same cathedral of trees…but a sense of peace there, too, yes. A big wuffling salute to another day. After all, they are not guaranteed.

Who DIDN’T Shoot This Holiday Away?

(In this post I will attempt to use accurate grammar. Unlike the prior post which was composed after the inhalation of much sugar and butter.)

Ah, what a wonderful day it was – we drove to Houston as did a few other family members – since my brother was on-call at his medical facility. We brought Ranger along, having introduced him to their behemoth and gut ripper dogs already. (He and Gut Ripper get along great. Behemoth has to just bark from the sidelines in his lack of stamina.) The dogs were outside much of the day, having a great time.

Inside, we were feasting like never before. I’d put all my sides in nukeable glass dishes which worked out nicely. Everyone got along and there were very few inappropriate comments. (There are poorly raised teens there who come up with foolish criminal situations to quiz Trooper with…) Dad was, as always, entertaining. Dancing, singing, speaking of many things. Trooper sat with the Rooskie and they talked about the Cold War, each from their view of things. It was extremely interesting for him.

But then, the next day, we fortified ourselves with buttermilk biscuits, eggs, and some more ham before heading to a new range. (Did you notice that this was re-enacted by nearly all the bloggers you know?!) This one is open 365 days a year! AMAZING! And tho not indoor, it has a generous amount of cover and the weather here is rarely so cold that you’d be pained to be out there. They were VERY professional and yet welcoming. So often a range or gun shop can house the worst in egos. The distant glare of wanna-bes who hate you for having been. But not here. I liked that you were assigned a rifle lane but can roam the pistol section and shoot as you wish there.

The entrance fee was quite reasonable – particularly when you consider that you need do nothing but shoot. You don’t even have to police your brass. Matter of fact, if you intend to keep it, you’d better pick it up as the gentlemen run by with their funky sweeper often. I’m sure its a profitable endeavor for them.

They were doing a land office business and we got one of the last rifle lanes (shorter) available. We were going to get the sights all set so we waited for the cease fire and he set up the target. That was about the last fun there was for me. I have NO IDEA what was going wrong but I could NOT shoot the damned thing! OK, better put I could not AIM it. I suspect a number of issues – none of them related to Trooper’s aid. Cross-eye dominance is, I think, a major issue. Old prescription of glasses needing updated is another. Having to crane my neck over to see through the sights while not knocking my glasses askew another. And, of course, the reports of MASSIVE weapons to either side of me startling me and making me even more angry.

I’ll fess up right here and now. Tears of frustration started rolling and I had not a single hanky to hide them in. What was wrong with me?! I was just not making it work and no matter how much patience I applied it just wasn’t coming off at the other end of the range. I gamely kept trying, the others to either side of us giving glances – tearful women with high powered weapons being a sensitive matter – but eventually, I just had Trooper shoot his SOCOM and stood back. I was smiling through the tears, angry at myself for them, wishing I could just make it stop. Wishing I could just announce to the guys that for me it’s like trying to masturbate in an oven glove. NOT WORKING and pissing me off.

Ah, well – we moved down to the pistol range – the longer one which I think was 25 yds. He had his 1911 so we shot that. I love that thing. It is SO point and shoot. And the sights are just spot on. Also, I could use either eye to focus and, frankly, the left rocked. Head shots over and over, belly buttons given. Chests remodeled. Of course, they were the fun zombie targets that our friend gave Trooper as a gift. So, it all ended on a high point and I was happy to have proven to myself that I am capable of shooting well.

But I am damned well getting my eyes checked. And we’ll go to the free range and work on that rifle issue. Oh, hell yes. Because I will not give up that easily. We’ll figure it out and make it work.

Turkey Shoot

What a terrific way to spend a day with family? Well, some of them, anyway. Took visiting family members to the range to shoot a wide variety of weapons. The group was an interesting mix of new shooters, non-shooters (gimpy hand), a former Soviet Army shooters. And Trooper, of course, giving instruction.

I don’t think we could have found a better endeavor! Everyone had a terrific time and were surprised, I think, at just how fun it can be. And this with your basic paper target. Nothing fancy. Turns out that the Soviets thought arms training for 12 hrs a day for a month was about right. Turns out that even 25 years later the training sticks with you. He was a terrific shot!! And so eager – he made it a fun time.

My sister has been wanting to try it and was very pleased with the experience – another one in the fold, as it were.

There was the handy ol’ .380, my basic 9mm, his 1911 (gorgeous creature), and 45, as well as his boyhood’s 22, my AR15 and his SOCOM rifle. A generous plenty (similar to the photo at the header though a few have been traded out here and there). I held off on shooting much, allowing Trooper to spend time on the visiting shooters. The non-shooter took dozens of photos, cackling at her husband’s fluency with the weapons.

We’ll head back Friday, I think, alone and spend time tuning the rifles with the new sights. I had no idea it’d go so well, frankly. We’re trying to talk them into moving here and I think today’s fun was a big step in the right direction.

And tonight? Well, I’ve been slaving over the “sides”. My SIL is making the turkey and I am making everything else. Hence, this late post…done but for one more load of dishes to wash. And a shower. But I think that can wait till morning. Right now, this is for you guys.

Make it a SAFE and happy holiday – buckle up, sleep it off instead of trying to get home, and if the family starts to make you nuts, remember there are many empty chairs at tables around this nation and mothers weeping quietly in the kitchen for the lost and absent ones.

Well, that and apply alcohol. My SIL declares she has acquired more Mead for the occasion.

Dear God. It could get ugly.

Morning Duty and Mourning Duty

Trooper had honor guard duty yesterday (and I fondly reviewed his photos online today – love that spit and polish uniform) and came home exhausted. Which, of course, meant that Ranger needed some personal time this morning.

We went to the local pasture, something he loves to do. We think he is far more suited to Search and Rescue than Security in terms of personality and the videos give the sense of why…I hope they aren’t insanely large files…I wish you could hear his wuffling. Made me giggle. Oh Gawd…I am baby talking to him in the 2nd one. My apologies in advance. Please know that I am mortified.

We have to do some research but I think it could definitely be his “job”. He needs one, being that type of dog. All in all, he makes it a fun if blustery excursion. (And I think he has the cutest doggie butt when he is all hunched up like that.)

If I don’t manage another post of useless hooey, I hope everyone has a terrific holiday! Me? I am getting my list ready so I can go to the store. Woot!

Stone Garden

On Veterans Day I took Ranger to the local park, a scrub brush and sponge in hand to clean the small granite marker under the flagpole at the forgotten rear of the park. We’d replaced the tattered flag again recently and I enjoyed its flapping above me as I gave the stone a quick wash. It just seemed…an appropriate thing to do, really.

Trooper and I watched a Nat’l Geo program on Arlington the other day, each of us sniffing a bit here and there as the Old Guard did their job. We were glad to have watched it before watching the HBO program, Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery.

In the former program, one was able to see how the groundskeepers and everyone associated with the site had such tremendous respect for what they were doing, for the people there, living and dead. The HBO program made them seem callous or at least oblivious. What they do is a very delicate balance of getting work done around mourners.

Most of the family members interviewed seemed to be freshly grieving which, I believe, brought out emotions and words that were…harsh with proximity. But the one thing that stuck with me – that made me just weep – was the mother who said all she wanted was to, “…hear him say he forgives me for not being there with him when he died.”

How evocative was that simple sentence? It said in a few words what poets have striven to embody for ages.

I have a particular reverence for the place. I know no one there. I’ve never been. But it has a deep connection for some reason. All the men and women buried there are familiar with the endings each other experienced. I imagine them conversing, comforting the newly arrived. I wish Trooper would think more seriously about going there. I think about how much I’d like to be there, someday, if room could be made near him.

And then, later, I thought about it in the future, forgotten and overrun with wilderness. The buildings no longer pristine, the marble barely visible through vines. Could that day ever dawn? Will I live long enough to see it?

I have to hope that there will always be someone there, caring for the place. That the Old Guard ensures its ranks never falter. Just keep it…sacred.

Another Log on that Fire

Heh, oh – rich, this.

In an official lunch with foreign diplomats, Icelandic President Olafur
Ragnar Grimsson shocked neighboring Nordic countries with inviting Russia to
take use of the strategically important airbase.

Foreign diplomats hardly believed what they heard when the Icelandic
president said that his country needs “new friends” and that Russia should be
invited to take use of the old U.S. airbase of Keflavik.

New friends, is it? Mmmm…I suppose we’ll at least know where to drop the bombs if/when the time comes.