Savoring The Flavors of Youth

The holiday melancholy swings on its annual arc, bringing that nostalgia and
hints of winter’s chill. It was a whirlwind ride of 250 miles yesterday to visit family and friends. The usual suspects decked the tables with their warming scents and familiar satisfaction.

The wheel turns and carries us with it, bringing valentines and Easter eggs, fireworks, turkey legs, and stockings full of welcome mysteries. But the way that wheel speeds up as we get older…that is a thing I did not expect. Age brings that introspection and patience as the challenges of the season assault us in the grocery store and on the street. Best to step aside and let that frantic soul pass – that, the lesson age brings.

As Trooper works another long shift and the dogs sleep from their day of snacks and running around, I’ve time to remember the holidays before…of mom’s hands – not so gnarled – expertly managing every dish, the timing and logistics managed with the grace of long-experience. Each year we have the annual scorching of the crescent roll in her honor. A humorous gesture I am sure she’d laugh at, it was still a solemn moment of acquiesence. No more that bend of her head into the stuffing to sniff at the herbs and call it sufficient. She wouldn’t call again for someone to hold the heavy oven rack as she spooned more butter over the turkey’s glistening crisp skin. All these things we have taken away and made our own, trying to do as she did with as much quiet certainty.

I remember the first time I prepared the feast, taking the burden from her shoulders for a year. A rite of passage, a passing on of the rites – fold this, scald that…it was close but not the same even when it was my nose buried in the bread sack to breathe in the sacrament of sage and pepper.

And no more the walks on snowy streets after, the digestif of the pedestrian. I can recall dimly an ice skating rink of frozen corraled water over the dead grass at a park with “cheater” blades that helped not at all. And a sister, blonde and perfect, whose pom-pom’d leather boots skimmed with delicate hissing across that mysterious transparency.

Older, I remember a quick knock at a back door of a basement apartment and a mother’s confused face as she carried in a basket full of a holiday’s feast-making. She was not one for charity, the queen of Making Do. But I still remember her glistening eyes and furrowed brow – waves of anger, shame, and relief rolling one after another across it. I was too old to be concerned with such old fashioned familial concerns. I had alley assignations to attend to, and blue-crusted snow to break in a dangerous night stroll. I never really understood until much later the importance of that moment…the salvation of her duty provided by the kindness of a stranger.

So it is that a suggestion or request the other morning in a sleepy down comforter haze came with surprise, shame, and confusion…I’d given up that role and surrendered it all. Did I want to do it, in nearly the same late age as she did, so that the hands that wipe tears and pull warm rolls from an oven bear the same lines and thin skin?

Thoughts whirl, years blur, and I think on immortality. On giving more meaning to the season. And it scares me half to death.

I’m A Princess, Damn It! Day

Yeah, so…it was “I am a special snowflake” day for me and I was nicely spoiled. My stepdaughter took me for a lovely day of Sephora sampling (got the needed Mercier blush, of course) and lunch after.

And then Trooper hauled home after his class to fetch us to dinner. But before he left I was given my gifts – just what I asked for! Every girl needs new Wilson mags, right?! And I coveted this bag so he got it for me, too. (Handy, I thought, for when you just want to be hands-free and holstered up on one side…) All the guys at GT’s were cracking up when he said he was shopping for his wife’s birthday. Hey – what can I say? I’m easy to please…

And now? Homemade cake, courtesy of my stepdaughter (mocha with orange buttercream frosting). And maybe a couple of these on my pillow. Trooper knows how I adore the little balls.


A Good Day’s Work

One has to wonder at their choice of banana-yellow caps and shirts for the ROs but we sure did stand out. Just not a color one tends to wear, generally. Of course, they were rather filthy by the end of the 10 hour day…

We arrived at a very windy range with a bit of a chill in the air. I was pleased to have my wool cover shirt in the truck as it was the perfect layer over my silk longjohn shirt (hey, it’s thin, light, and very warm) and this lovely RO shirt. I wondered how the 1000 yd range shots would work with that gusting wind but, as it turns out, I would never know.

We arrived, waited at the briefing, and were assigned by our good pal to be ROs at the Top Shot range. Two teams (red and blue, of course) of two people each would shoot and try to be the fastest to hit two stationary and one stubby falling target at 100 yds. I wish I could speak about the rest of the ranges, vendors, BBQ, etc. but from the moment we arrived at our spot we were hauling ass. Trooper and the other ROs took the OBRs, mounted scopes, and got them squared away.

Before you could say “.308 ” there was a line of at least 25 people on each team. And it never slowed until the cease fires. Trooper and his mate would greet the two shooters on their team, introduce them to the weapon, and then get them squared away to ensure they got the best shots for their 5 rounds. Meanwhile, I loaded mags with 5 rounds over and over and over again for 10 hours. Yes, my nails are ruined and, yes, I have a terrible case of mag thumb. I was so proud of my husband – he gave each person the same briefing over and over again but never made it sound rote. And each shooter was given very individual attention to ensure an optimal experience.

I have to say most of the people were VERY good about the lines, and there was very little grumbling. I think we managed to keep our line to about 30 minutes wait at the worst because we worked like a machine. One of the very first shooters (with a respectable 6.38 seconds, I think) was Dustin Ellermann. Trooper is a great fan of his, having such respect for how he represented himself on the program. They had a few moments to speak and shake hands. Many people recognized him in the few minutes he had in the area.

However, the most impressive shooter at our side of the range was Daniel Harubin. We’d been told that the fastest shooter would win a “big gift” so when the injured vet stagger-stepped his way to the platform we wondered how fast he could shoot – after all, shooters could only put a foot on the platform and then take their preferred position and shoot. This guy had a foot and leg in a brace, still recovering from having it very nearly shot off in Afghanistan.

Well, hell – we didn’t need to concern ourselves as he shot the hell out of it. Sure, he took time getting up again but he just went back into the line. All day long he’d appear, take his shots and see if he could improve on his time. Eventually, the line understood – he would sit on the crate at the front and if there were any single shooters, he’d offer to take the other gun.

Meanwhile, 5 rounds were loaded in each mag, over and over and over again until I just knew only that – a glance up now and then, a judging of the line, ensuring there was a party of two or finding a match for those rare single shooters…and let me add here that the weapon shot perfectly regardless of the filth blowing into it, and the constant firing. We personally saw over 2000 rounds go off our table into the two guns so just assume 1000 rounds over 1o hours with only the briefest of swabbing with a dirty shemagh and a swipe of oil twice that day. (BTW, the LaRue mags were far easier to load than the PMAGs…not to denegrate the latter as they are AMAZING but for girly hands, they were nail breakers.)

During the first cease fire, DPS Air came in, SWAT in the doorway of the helicopter, performing a bit of aerial shooting. In the winds that day, it was impressive flying. I suspect Trooper’s academy mate was one of the guys in the doorway but we were too busy to do any meet and greet. Instead, there was just enough time to break down the OBR, swipe out the worst of the dust, and get it back up again.

The hours sped by, rare glittering cylinders of brisket made their way to our AO, and I only managed to get a single one. I was glad we’d packed a cooler with snacks to keep our energy up. As the sun started to set, the line dwindled and Danny had lost his top shot standing ever so briefly to Wes (4.4 seconds). He came back and kicked it – knelt so fast that you would never have known he was injured a few weeks ago. Three hellaciously fast shots, three hits, and the timer sang out – “4.35!” and he stood with rather some effort. Wes just shook his head with a smile then shook Danny’s hand.

Just this morning, he noted on his Facebook page, “…as much as I would love to be selfish and keep it, I’m going to donate the “Top Shot” LaRue Tactical OBR that I won yesterday to the Wounded Warrior Project. These people do alot of great things for wounded Soldiers and their families, and I couldnt think of anyone more deserving. Hopefully, when they auction it off, they can get alot of money to help out more wounded guys!!!” I am telling you – the guy is an impressive individual. Now, if only he’d quite smoking. *snicker*

With that, the day ended – as we packed up the gear we could hear the announcer call his name, and give him the OBR. Filthy, but smiling, we packed it in and headed to the Monument Grill for dinner. We felt a little bad going in there as rough as we were but it was on the way home and good eats.

I can hardly think of any criticism, really. It is an incredible kindness to the shooting community and fellow Texans. I might ensure there were better comms to each range and a Director to disseminate information. It might be better to host a two-day event as it seems to have become quite popular. And I might try to have more ROs to relieve others to permit down time and a few hours to scope out the vendors. If it wasn’t within 100 yards, we didn’t see it. That, and a separate supply of brisket for us. HA! Yeah, that’s a must for next year.

Just add it to your calendars, friends. It’s one hell of an experience courtesy of one hell of a man.

Big Damn Weekend

The thing with being married to the law is that you take your off days seriously, plannning as best you can to make the most of it – even if that’s planning a few extra hours sleeping. So it is that we’ll be at the LaRue Day…Trooper will RO and I will help where help is needed. We’ve several friends with booths who can use a hand so I’ll be their Girl Saturday and do whatever is needed.

Of course, being a woman I am trying to decide on the best attire for the day. Obviously, sturdy boots and a long sleeved shirt but…the Statement T-shirt is the decision at hand. Perhaps the Happy Face! Or…Kalashnikitty

Or maybe I should just go with the standard Crye Combat Shirt which does the job without saying a damned thing.

The really nice thing, though, is that I get to hang with some really amazing guys (and gals). That they admit me into their world is a great compliment and I never forget the somewhat rarified air I breathe among them…unless they have the beans with their BBQ. In that case I battle for air.

Hope your own day brings big bangs and smiles…