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Happy New Year?

2017Happy 2017.

Say, didn’t we do this just a year ago, and the year before that?

And so on, and so on…

Seriously, best wishes for a Happy New Year to my family, my friends, my FB friends and especially my Internet and blog friends!

Most years fail to meet expectations at some point, but 2016 (for me, anyway) was particularly bad.

(There is no need to account for the negative items here.)

Thus, I’ve great hopes for 2017.

It does say something about the human condition, for all the pessimism, depression, war, disease, man’s-inhumanity-to-man, that EVERY YEAR we return to this ritual of celebrating the onset of a new year with positive hope for the future.

Either we’re optimists, or insane. (“Insanity – repeating the same behavior, expecting different results.” ( attributed to Albert Einstein)

Today, right now, I vote for optimism.

What other choice is there?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

To all my friends and family near and far.

And, to all my Jewish friends,

HAPPY HANUKKAH!

And to my ‘other’ friends,

Joyous Solstice (belatedly)

And Best Wishes for a Safe and Healthy return for those in service to this Great Republic!

And to everyone, regardless,

PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN

Let’s hope 2017 is a better year for everyone.

Guffaw

img_1633

Christmas Eve at my niece’s last night!

But Wait! There’s MORE!

(Oft heard tag line on late-night TV infomercials)

And, apparently, my Life!  🙂

Dave the Genius Mechanic was in town last night, and collected me for our all-less-often dinner out together at Red Devil.

We get together a few times a year to trade stories about the progression (regression) in our lives, friends, relatives, etc.  His work, not mine. (as I am on disability).  Sometimes we touch on taboo topics like politics, too.

With his busy interstate work/home schedule, and his many other interests (like boat building), his shooting has taken a back burner.  As far as I know, he’s not shot or purchased a firearm in some time.

Dave was kind enough to loan me a gun when I was ‘gun poor‘ in the distant past.  I’d sold all my handguns, and was in need of one for a security guard job.  I carried her for a number of years, and even shot her competitively.

Eventually, she was returned to him, no worse for wear.  (Well, hardly!)

SO, Dave’s in town, and going through his stuff, and finds this gun.  It occurs to him that he’s shot and carried her much less than yours truly.  And he really doesn’t have a use for her…

PLUS, he read my recent post regarding my roommate’s gift to me of one of her firearms.  And for him, that cinched it!

As he dropped me off after dinner, Dave announced “I have something for you.” (in that understated, low-key Midwest style of his).  And he reached into his trunk and hands me THIS!

ruger_security_six_357

not exactly as pictured

A revolver I carried and shot a lot, but never owned!  But, now I do.  (Dave mentioned something about Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday when he gave her to me.)

She needs improved stocks, and maybe a little gunsmithing.  But, she’s mine.

In 2009, I had over 50 firearms.  Then came the vault burglary.  Until Thanksgiving, I had two firearms.  Now I have FOUR.

Sure, I still rent a room, have a beater car, etc.  But my firearm inventory has doubled!

And, more importantly, I have friends!

Thank you, Dave!

(for the uninitiated, she’s a 1972 Ruger Security Six – old frame)

 

 

The Garlic Goldfish Have Returned!

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The Garlic Goldfish (a perennial favorite Christmas snack) have arrived!

Actually, they were assembled by yours truly, in a couple hours standing at the iron skillet, Worcestershire, Blue Bonnet margarine and garlic powder at-the-ready.  Then slow baked until dry and toasty.

(For the uninitiated, this is a snack I’ve made traditionally for years.  Originally, I made standard Chex Mix, with the requisite addition of peanuts, pretzels and the like.  With a tablespoon of this, a dash of that.  I determined two things – people singled out the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers for consumption so the other ingredients were wasted, and screw this tablespoon-dash thing!)

I cover roughly 9/10 of the bottom of the skillet with Worcestershire, add 1/2 a stick of margarine, and sprinkle garlic powder generously.  Then marinate a pan full of crackers until they soak it all up, over medium heat.  Transfer all to a turkey roasting pan and bake @ 300° or so, turning every 10 minutes of so to check for burning, until they are all dry and crispy.  (I use Blue Bonnet because it’s cheap and takes the high heat.)

I used to make these in massive quantities for Christmas when I was employed and bring them into work.  It became such a tradition that folks would start asking me in September if I was bringing in goldfish that year!
🙂

Consumer Warning – they are QUITE addictive and go great with beer!  People consuming these snacks needn’t be concerned they will be molested by vampires, or members of the opposite sex. (Unless they, too, have partaken of the garlicky treats!)

FTC – neither Blue Bonnet, French’s Worcestershire, Pepperidge Farm Crackers or anyone else gave me anything!  I bought and assembled it all myself.  Go make your own – and Merry Christmas!

Guffaw – Now Less Gun Poor!

(as an unintended follow up to my previous post)

I’ve recounted from time-to-time in these pages about having slowly developed a small collection of firearms, only to have the 800 pound safe and her contents of the same removed in my absence.

Fifty-one guns?  An ‘arsenal’ to some.

Then Life events significantly decreased my income, making it impossible for me to rebuilt my collection.  Sad to be sure.

Thursday last, Thanksgiving, was coincidental with my birthday.  And, with the exception of one greeting card (from my insurance agent) no other cards or gifts were received.  Even though three folks did gift me with musical versions of one birthday song or another – which were nice gestures.

It would have been nice to receive a gift of some kind, though…(I’m NOT asking!)

Moving into Friday, my lovely sister took me to lunch at my favorite pizza place, and gifted me with a card and CASH!  Not enough for new (or used) ordinance, but very surprising and special nevertheless.

THANK YOU!

Upon returning home, my roommate was sitting on the couch, watching TV, and playing with her firearms.  She has a small collection, including a couple I gifted her with when we were dating.

She hands me her Sig Sauer P245 (one of the aforementioned gifts – after clearing it, of course) and states, “Happy Birthday! And Merry Christmas!”

(Me) “Wha…?”

After wrestling a few moments with the moral implications of her giving me my gift back as a gift, I said, “Thank you!”

I now have my trusted 1911 (the Bob Hall Signature Model), the S&W 442 electroless nickel, a single-shot pellet pistol sent me by an Internet friend a couple years ago, and the Sig Sauer P245.

My collection is being rebuilt – slowly!

Good things come to those who wait – sometimes even if they are impatient and brooding.

🙂

 

not precisely as pictured

not precisely as pictured

Remembering Clive

Going to the recent memorial for Bob reminded me of others who have gone before.

Like my work-pal Clive!

One of most unforgettable characters when I worked @ TMCCC was CLIVE.

At least that’s the name from which we all knew him:  Clive.

Could he have BEEN any more British?

Clive was another of the credit card fraud investigators with whom I worked.  He had the accent, was married to his American wife (his 3rd, I think) and had lived in the United States (legally) 40 years.

I once asked him why he didn’t go for citizenship.  He said a piece of paper wouldn’t change where he was born!

He was a classical liberal and loathed Margaret Thatcher.  We had many a thrilling political discussion.

He found out via the company grapevine I was a firearms enthusiast, and was quite anxious to know if I had a Lee Enfield .303 rifle.  He apparently was familiar with them through the British military.  I did not, but he still wanted to go shooting with me.  We made a desert run (with his pal, a retired Flagstaff PD guy ‘Harry’, also an investigator) and had a blast (no pun intended).

I suggested he could obtain his own SMLE, but he didn’t understand that particular abbreviation.  And, anyway, he explained his American wife (whom he lovingly referred to as SWMBO*) wouldn’t stand for it.  She didn’t like guns.  I knew a high-end range in North Scottsdale offered lockers for storage.  And he was carefully considering it.

I took a vacation week, and upon my return found out that Clive had also.  He told his wife he was not feeling well and stretched out on their couch.

He never awakened.  (this was some years ago)

I never knew much more about him, until I saw his obituary.  Turned out his first name was Richard, and he had been a respected scientist in the U.K.

From his obituary, in part…

For many years Clive was a Research Scientist for Weyerhaeuser and has three patents. He was a founder of Home Builders International, which developed low cost housing in Third World countries using mostly straw and mud for construction. He and his wife, Dawn, spent six months in Mexico City where Clive helped establish a factory to manufacture the straw and mud into a material suitable for home construction. He was the founder of the Phoenix Institute of Technology. It was a national group of scientists who developed a report on methods to generate power in Third World countries using only local resources. The report was presented to the world at an international environmental conference in New Mexico in 1995. It was written initially for the Vatican and the Mennonite Church who are the largest missionary groups in the world. This research was done and sent with no monetary exchange. (…)

Clive served 3 years in 341 Squadron of the Air Training Corps, connected to the Royal Air Force. (…)

I miss our spirited exchanges, my friend.

*She Who Must Be Obeyed

 

♫ When I’m 64 ♫

♫ “When I’m Sixty Four”♫

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with youI could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
If it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck & Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?
Ho!

(apologies to Paul McCartney)

Well, I turned 64 today.
There’s no one special person to whom this song applies.
I suppose I should be grateful I’ve made it this far.
But, frankly, doing it alone sucks.
(I’ll stop whining now.)
I DO have friends, family and animals to whom I can turn in time of need.
And that means everything.
Almost.
A touch, a hug, a kiss.  Holding a hand?
Doesn’t appear to be in my future.
(Okay, I will stop whining now!)
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Saying Goodbye To Bob @ Burro Town

My dear friend Bob Hall passed away February last.  He had suffered complications from diabetes (first losing a big toe, then the lower half of a leg), then ultimately acid reflux lead to GERD, and then esophageal cancer.  The last few months of his life, he was eating through a feeding tube.  Lost half his weight, and was fighting pneumonia which finally took him.

I had known Bob, first as my investigation boss at Tom Ezell & Associates; later as my boss at Legendary Guns of the West (where I worked part-time), since 1981.  More than being a boss, he was a dear friend.  We saw each other through the stuff of life.  I’ve a stepbrother – Bob and I are much closer.

He was always honest and true to me.  His trademark was nothing is so serious that a joke cannot be made about it.  Irreverent humor – Firesign Theatre and Monty Python quotes were often exchanged between us.

He was a crack shot and loved to go ‘to the desert’ to go shooting.  Even in his final days, using a walker.  And he passed his love of guns and The Second Amendment to his wife and daughters.

He didn’t want a somber funeral.

I heard from one of his daughters that this Saturday (yesterday) was to be his memorial celebration.  A caravan of his friends and family went to the desert to one of his favorite shooting spots, did some eating, shooting, then spread his ashes.

Bob’s favorite things, family, shooting and grilling – combined!

I was honored to have been invited, and was honored to bring and shoot my 1911 – a National Match slide on a Vega frame, with lowered Bomar sights, a Micro bushing, and Swenson ambidextrous safety,  hand-fitted by gunsmith Burke Hill.  Which Bob sold to me in 1983.

I dubbed her The Bob Hall Signature Model.  My roommate calls her Bobbie.

It’s been probably 20K rounds, and except for occasional cleaning, lube and replacing the recoil spring @ 3000 rounds, not much has changed.  She remains a tack driver.

Essentially a race gun (c) 1977.

And she is my companion when the Phoenix weather permits.

Bob sold her to me for a pittance.  He never profited from guns he sold to friends.  And I had to make payments to him, I was so poor! (having been a new father at the time.)

It’s only fitting I take her to what Bob called Burro Town to shoot her one more time.

For Bob.

So, about eighteen of us gathered yesterday.  Did some shooting – ate BBQ chicken with all the fixings. (including cherry cheesecake – Bob’s favorite!)

Then, we stood in a circle and shared memories of Bob.  There was tears and laughter.  Then Anita (Bob’s wife) asked those who wish to to take some of Bob’s ashes and place them about Burro Town*.

Then, we shot a simultaneous volley in his name.  All of us using guns once owned by him!

This is the photo the family chose to place on the food table.  Bob hated having his picture taken.

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(*It was named Burro Town by Bob, due to the wild burros that wander the region.  Usually, we see a few.  Yesterday, they were absent.)

donkey-crossing-warning-sign

But we who loved him were there.

 

Helen Rawls RIP

Tempus Fugit

Helen Rawls is a childhood memory.               Helen Rawls Obituary

Jim (about who was written here previously) is my oldest continuous friend.  I’ve known him since August 1960, when he was in First Grade and I in Third.  She was his mother.

Helen passed on Halloween at 97.

from her Arizona Republic obituary (in part):

…She spent the remaining years of her childhood in Indianapolis, graduated from Short Ridge High School, became a stenographer, and joined the Army. She was one of the first women (other than nurses), to be a member of the armed forces.

… Helen was active in the Community Christian Church, as a member of the ASU Faculty Wives and the League of Women Voters. She was also a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, tutored at local schools, and worked with various other charities. She lived the last 29 years of her life at Friendship Village Tempe.

Services are at Friendship Village Health Care Center – 2525 E. Southern Ave. Tempe, on Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 2:30 pm. Contributions can be made to a charity of your choice , in Helen’s name.

Until I read the above, I’d not known she had been in the Army.  She was my friend’s mom.  And a fine woman.  She was pre-deceased by her husband Bill, who had been a physics professor at A.S.U. in 1996.

Bill had served in the Navy.  My thanks to you both for your service.

Helen and Bill were the most functional family on the block.  (Obviously, an improvement over my dysfunctional family!)  Raised quality kids, participated in church and civic affairs, recycled before it was cool.  I knew Helen as just one of the housewives on the block.

Hardly just!

I’m glad they are together now.

 

So, I Went SHOOTING On Monday…

la-dee da, la dee da…

Actually, this is a VERY BIG DEAL!

Since I became ill (with the lymphoma* – the unnecessary extra the is necessary now that I’m getting older!  😛  ) and went on disability, I’ve been shooting very little.  Perhaps six or seven times in the past 7 years…

And, when I was working I was going two to three times a month!

This is a very big deal, and a good thing!

(THANK YOU TO MY BENEFACTORS WHO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION AND FUNDING, AND THOSE WHO PROVIDED AMMUNITION.  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.)

AND, I’m told there is a tentative shooting date in DECEMBER!

OO-RAH!

‘hats and horns all around!’hats-and-horns

*I’ve been in remission since August 2009, thank-you-very-much!  Six months of chemo did the trick.  (knock-on-wood!)

 

 

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…