We lost MARK BELL.
My co-worker, shooting student, sounding board, reminder of things good, bon vivant, and loyal friend.
We had just attended Kevin Baker’s blogshoot the previous Sunday, and had spoken on the telephone, yesterday (four years ago – I cannot believe it’s been four years!).
Then his beloved wife Cathy called me tomorrow (four years ago) to tell me he had dropped dead from a heart attack suddenly yesterday.
Having almost lost Walter recently, this may be a little maudlin.
I don’t care.
PLEASE, tell the ones you love that you love them, and hug them, if at all possible.
Because you never know.
The passing recently of David Bowie definitely got my attention, even though I wasn’t a big fan – in any of his incarnations. (Sorry)
But yesterday, finding out that a founder of The Eagles had passed. Well, Universe, this is over-the-top!
As we age, we seem to see more of this – people who are part of our youth, our lives, passing into eternity.
Personal family and friends aside, these bookmarks in the story of our lives remind of us specifics in our past, and of the eventual future for all of us.
R.I.P. Good Sir!
When my marriage was winding down, my wife and I separated. And we eventually got divorced.
It’s only by the grace of God we remained friends. (And remain so to this day! :-) )
The separation was longer than most. Eight years. But, we lived apart, shared custody of Molly, equally (alternate weeks, with one alternate day in the middle.) And living a little more than a mile apart, it ‘worked’.
But, initially, when she told me she wanted to separate, pain aside, it occurred to me that I wanted to do something extra special at Christmas for our daughter.
And I found these art pieces of little girls interacting in their world, by Frances Hook.
And determined I could probably afford one each holiday season, as a special gift to Molly.
Sometimes, getting funds together for toys, clothes and such was difficult. And the statuettes were an additional hardship.
But, I managed.
And she seemed to appreciate them, even when the tradition began, when she was age 5.
The first one was entitled “Birdie”. I got it because I remembered her chasing sparrows in the park, trying to get one to light on her finger. Calling out “Birdie, birdie!”
And so it was to pass she received a different one each year for Christmas. It was nice as we all continued to share Christmases together.
But, Christmas 1994 found me having difficulty finding another Frances Hook porcelain statuette with a little girl in it that she didn’t already have. Eventually, I did find one, though.
And I found out the reason for the dearth of sculptures. It seemed, the artist had passed away the year Molly was born – 1983. And in 1994, the porcelain figurines stopped production.
We lost Molly the next March.
I wonder if somehow The Universe had made the connection.
From Oath Keepers (David Codrea)…
An email threat resulting in the closure of all Los Angeles Unified School District schools was apparently a hoax,The Los Angeles Times is reporting. Even had it not been, the incident illustrates how government infringing on rights does nothing but deprive Americans of freedom, and that the promised security in exchange for forced sacrifice is the most damaging fraud of all.
“The email mentioned explosive devices, assault rifles and pistols and was traced to an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany, according to law enforcement sources,” the report elaborates. That gives us some clues at least.
We know it wasn’t by any of the hated “homegrown extremists” (like Oath Keepers!) the government would like everyone to believe poses the real terror threat. And noting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s affinity for culturally terraforming her homeland in a way Allied and Soviet bombing, invasion and occupation could not, there’s a chance the perp was one of those jihadists government “leaders” in the West all seem determined to welcome in and then lose track of.
Still, say the threat had been domestic and real – what then? How does forcing Americans to surrender their right to due process and their right to keep and bear arms to a secret ‘terror watchlist” make anyone any safer? If the government knows they’re a danger, charge them and hold a trial, with a presumption of innocence and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on the state. And if they’re foreign terror suspects, how does allowing them to remain here and move freely among us help “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”?
In fact, there’s good reason to believe the whole point of that move is simply to provide another inroad for citizen disarmament, with those whose goal is to uphold fidelity to the Constitution and restore adherence to the chains of delegated powers libeled as “anti-government extremists.” The point is to disarm patriots, and not just by creating a “no buy” list, but by following that up with confiscations.
A truism I use regularly is that with “progressives,” every day is Opposite Day. Orwell described it as “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength,” and such lies are the foundation of every totalitarian regime. Maintaining the lies requires demonizing and thus dehumanizing those who are deemed an inconvenience to the planned order of things, those who must be eliminated. So naturally, the “solution” of importing millions from cultures inimical and even fanatically hostile to ours, ramping up the police state and maintaining increased levels of citizen disarmament along with more “gun free zones” is the mandate imposed. And anyone who objects is derided as a throwback, a racist, a coward who needs guns to make up for masculine shortcomings, a lunatic and a threat.
What was the solution offered by the Founders? Government limited to delegated powers. All exercise of those powers must advance the very reasons those powers were delegated in the first place: “[T]o form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
And as for what was needed when the Republic came under attack, they were pretty specific there, too.
How would that stop a hostile phone call coming in from Germany?
No system devised by man will ever be perfect. But security and freedom need not be mutually exclusive. Were the Founders’ vision the norm, schools and all places in the U.S. would be safer. It would be a freer place, with attendant accountability of those who make it less so, the criminals both in and out of government.
And as for the rest of the world? Freedom produces a powerful example to emulate, and powerful incentives to do so. And again the wisdom of the Founders proves timeless and true.
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world”: George Washington proclaimed in his Farewell Address.
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none,” Thomas Jefferson echoed in his inaugural address.
We can see the miserable, freedom-destroying results of our “leaders” doing the opposite. Anybody feel safer as a result?
I remember being in junior high school in the mid-60’s. Seventh and Eighth Grades. And maybe two, three times a year, some yahoo would either call in a bomb threat, or pull the fire alarm. Because he’d a test scheduled that day he didn’t study for.
And we would dutifully file out of classes to the playground. The teachers would take roll, and keep us more-or-less orderly, and when the ‘threat’ had been dealt with, we were allowed to return to the classrooms.
EVERYONE understood the nature of these ‘threats’, and there were never any fires or bombs found.
But, the world has changed. There are now real threats. In the past month (in my area) suspicious packages were found and dealt with. One was a suitcase on the light rail platform, another a bright, yellow backpack on the freeway.
NOTHING came of either, because they were composed of lost luggage and a missing backpack!
If the point of terrorism is to destabilize society through death and destruction, and the threat of potential death and destruction (or even the appearance of same), then the terrorists have won.
With all the hype regarding the opening of the latest in the Star Wars saga, I hearkened back to my first experience. Or rather the second.
And one of a relative’s…
Way back in 1977 (can it be that long ago?) a movie named Star Wars was released. I think I eventually went and saw it alone. And, of course, I was blown away.
This was in Phoenix’ premiere Cinerama theater – The Cine’ Capri. The wide screen, formal theater-sized experience. Red velvet curtains and all.
My sister had taken her daughter, then age 5, to the show. And both damn near had heart-failure when a hulking Darth Vader appeared behind them to menace the theater-goers in line for tickets!
I had been dating a woman named Ardith on-and-off for a while. She was an Army vet, liked guns and Italian food. She was a terrific kisser. And was mad for science fiction. Especially Star Trek. And thought Star Wars was some kind of cheesy rip off. (She even had pencil nudes of Spock she bought at an early sci-fi convention – but that’s for another post. On second thought, no, it’s not…)
I attended the showing stag because she had been unconvinced it was worthy of been seen.
Eventually, I convinced her.
And, being the prepared woman she was, she brought her ‘purse’. Essentially a duffel bag!
Lined with plastic – containing massive quantities of fresh, buttered popcorn and a six pack of cold beer!
What a terrific way to watch a movie in Cinerama with THX sound! (We just had to wait for the loud parts to pop the pop tops! :-) )
Ardith and I stopped seeing each other, and moved on with our lives. I married, became a father and I only saw two later sequels.
Then I kinda lost interest in the whole Star Wars thing.
Guess I got older…
Gotta go – it’s nap time.
I was in high school, active in the (award-winning) choir, and in The Mystic Crystal (the magic club). And one of the kids in the neighborhood pointed me in the direction of an amateur troop of kids who performed free. For people who needed entertainment.
And I thought what the heck.
They were called The Cavalier Players. Founded by a quintessential stage mother to get her daughter’s (marginal) dance talents exposed further, they performed free for anyone who would have them.
And I signed up.
I remember many elder care facilities, some like Phoenix’s The Beatitudes – the top of the spectrum. Others where the only thing in memory was the smell of urine.
And one Thanksgiving at the St. Vincent De Paul dining hall, packed to the brim with the unfortunate.
Other members included dancers, singers, gymnasts, and piano players. On one occasion, the tape deck with needed music broke, so (Geez! What the hell was her name?) the stage mom stepped out on stage, announced “I-AM-THE-ORCHESTRA!” and began humming so the dancer could continue with her performance!
Another time, Debbie J. (a gymnast) performed the splits, but had not stretched sufficiently. She reached the bottom of her split, but was unable to come back up. And began screaming and crying. The EMTs were called. She had torn some ligaments. YIKES!
Being a magician, my only faux pas were dropping my concealed handcuff key (loudly, on a wooden stage), and having one of my juggling balls bounce off the stage toward the audience.
At least I was able to exit the stage, pick up the ball in mid-bounce and continue juggling! I was much more mobile and faster, then.
I performed with them a couple years in high school. It did teach me a little about the less fortunate, and about the show going on.
We even made the local paper, with a photo! Sadly, in the pre-digital age, my likeness was over-done with ink, making me appear as a minstrel show player! Not very cavalier…
The stage mom and her daughter moved a couple years later. I never saw them again – guess the daughter never ‘made it’?
(See – I told you!)
My Life’s friendships are made up of many folks. But an inordinate number (for whatever reason) are named either Bob (Robert) or David (Dave)!
Who knows why?
I was walking to McClintock High School to attend a Summer School session (having missed my first Freshman semester because of the onset of my leg disability) and wanting to complete high school in 3 1/2 years to stay with my class.
Turned out, a number of other Tempe High students were also attending McClintock’s Summer Session. And walking more-or-less the same way to school.
Conversations ensued. It was about a mile-and-a-half from my house, and an 0700 start time, so it was early, ‘cooler’ (AZ summertime) and we were bored kids.
And friendships developed. One was with David M., who had to walk an additional 1/2 mile to get to where I was. Not to be confused with Dave the
genius mechanic, or David the artist college-roommate.
And we walked together to Summer School, and back on the return trip. And became fast friends.
David was smart, funny, musically-talented (playing piano by sound!). He was a school A/V guy and a photographer. And we both liked the same stuff. Magic tricks, philosophy and girls.
Not necessarily in that order.
And it was David who introduced me to the Firesign Theatre and Cheech & Chong!
And I introduced him to the magic club. And other the neighborhood guys became his friends, as well.
We palled around together all through high school, and into college.
His parents were divorced, and his mother was religiously conservative. She seemed to like me, but objected to the magic club, as there were things just not right there (in her mind.) She called playing cards The Devil’s pasteboards!
I remember both of us liking to listen to Jethro Tull. His dad was putting an addition on his house, and we used to sit in the unfinished rooms (for the acoustics) to play flute. I, self-taught with a rented one – he bought his and could play rings around me. Accompanying Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, again, with David playing by ear! He even held it wrong (not knowing any better) – both hands facing backward (fife-like) – and could STILL sound better! And actually play!
He was going to marry once. They canceled it at the last minute – I never did find out why.
And, as with many other friends, we drifted apart.
He has a common last name, and I’ve been unable to re-connect with him via social media for this reason.
Wherever he is, I wish him well!
(a follow-up to the November 8 post I Sometimes HATE Novembers, as promised…)
So, here I was, in my insurance-paid-for-rented-condo, about a mile North of my home, while contractors rebuilt it, after the drunk driver had hit it two weeks prior. That’s what I get for buying a corner lot, off a street that zig-zags. Drunks never caught that nuance, head straight for the alley, see the power pole, and crash into my back yard.
It had happened before. Last time it was just the fence that was destroyed.
I, of course, still had to go to work, pay bills, and check the mail at the house, all while surveying the excruciatingly-slow process of rebuilding the rear of my home and replacing the fence.
Thankfully (?) I was beginning to have more health issues (joy, joy) which meant I was missing more work. Which gave me the excuse to stop by and check the mail and the progress of the reconstruction more often.
And, it had been a couple of days since I had last checked the mail, and it was my birthday(!), so I thought I’d check the mail again. Hell, there might be a birthday check from someone in the mail? :-)
I pull into the driveway. No contractors present. This always bothered me, as this process was taking forever. Of course, mine wasn’t their only project.
(This had been a little over two weeks!)
AND THE SIDE DOOR WAS STANDING OPEN ABOUT TWO INCHES!
This alarmed me, as no one was around. The door had been always locked and the extra key placed in one of those Realtor-access combination locks around the door knob. Which was now nowhere to be seen!
I exited the car and drew my 1911 pistol. (Yeah, I know. All my training (which I had trained others to do many times before) was to leave the area to a relatively safe location and call the police to respond. After all, there may have been multiple armed intruders inside burgling my home!)
BUT, this was MY HOME! And the training went out the window. Sigh.
I slowly entered the kitchen, listening intently for any activity inside, pistol at-the-ready. Then into the living room, bath and two bedrooms. This was relatively quick, as it was a 740 square-foot house.
It was obvious someone else had been inside. Someone NOT a contractor. A home computer, portable television, stereo, some faux Samurai swords and a number of other items were missing. Movers had taken many of the larger furniture items to put into storage prior to the reconstruction. But I was told they were unable to take the gun safe, as they were prohibited from storing firearms.
They had removed the Dillon XL 650 reloading press from it’s mount, preparatory to the rebuild. But had not put it into storage. (I guess it was gun-related). It was gone.
And the 800 pound, Fort Knox gun safe was missing. And this was on the floor…
Someone obviously had pried off the combination dial and locking lever to open the safe. And when that failed, THEY TOOK THE ENTIRE 800 POUND SAFE!
Credit cards, spare checks, school transcripts, cameras, my birth certificate and over fifty firearms! Gone.
First, I called the insurance company, to see if they had perhaps authorized storage of the safe and it’s contents, and had inadvertently broken the locking mechanism somehow in transit. Then, I called the mover and the police.
And was scolded by the 911 operator, as it was for emergencies only. How was fifty+ firearms possibly out on the street was not an emergency?
Ultimately, the contractor, the storage guy, my insurance man and the police arrived on the scene. I recounted my actions upon arriving multiple times for each of them. And I was livid. To keep me occupied (and busy and out of the way) the police advised me to make a list of what was in the safe, including all the firearms and serial numbers.
I knew most of their descriptions by heart, but the list (with Polaroids and serial numbers) was not around. It was probably in the materials previously packed and moved to storage.
Fortunately, I still had many of the receipts and gun boxes, which were labeled on the edge with the numbers.
And set about making the list on a legal pad.
All parties were questioned. The contractor’s employees all had cellular telephones they were required to keep with them at all times (for GPS tracking purposes). And all passed the location test.
As if someone couldn’t have left the phone at home off-hours to do a burglary? Or they told someone else? Come on! I never broadcast about the safe in my home, suddenly, after many strangers had seen it, it went missing.
After six months, the house was reconstructed, painted, re-floored (safe drag marks) cleaned (even clothes in the closet dry cleaned!) and restocked with the stored items. I had called in to stop all my credit cards the same day.
I received a check for the maximum available from my policy. (Note-to-self: Make certain all valuables are covered, and if there is a cap it covers all firearms. I was insured for a maximum of 5K on the firearms, eventually paid just over 7K total. Firearm valuation of the missing? Over 21K! in 2009 gun values)
Fortunately, I had taken my favorite 1911 and .38 snub with me to the condo!
And none of the identity items, credit cards or firearms have ever surfaced.
I’m thinking Mexico, and thank God that Fort Knox makes a quality piece of security equipment! I suspect it’s abandoned in the desert somewhere, still unopened. (Let this be a lesson – if you’ve not done so already, bolt your safe to the foundation and wall studs – even if it weighs 800 pounds!)
And among the missing are my electroless nickel Colt Gold Cup, 1969 Browning High Power, 4 AR-15s, my Ithaca Deerslayer Police Special 12 gauge, my pre-model 27 Smith & Wesson 5″, my Sig-Sauer P220 – marked made in W. Germany(!) and my 1942 Springfield Garand!!
I had to use the insurance money for other things, and never was able to replace any of the missing firearms.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
♫…nowhere to hide…♫
Who posed (in part) this idea…
To me, the US – and most of the supposedly free West – increasingly looks like a truck being systematically filled with Semtex.
But it’s easy to counter cries of alarm with the fact that the truck is stable – because it’s true: you can hurl more boxes into the back without any real danger. Absent the right detonator, it is no more dangerous than a truckload of mayonnaise.
But add the right detonator and you’re just one click away from complete devastation.
We can see how fragile the U.S. is now by considering just four tendencies.
The Four Tendencies
There used to be a time (in my mind, anyway) that this constitutional republic strove to be the best. The best physically, academically, militarily. The best as a shining example to the rest of the World of individual liberty, rights and responsibilities.
A truly Norman Rockwell Nation.
We fed the rest of the World. EVERYONE relied on AND TRUSTED, the Dollar! People didn’t ‘just take a pill’ for every perceived ailment. And, while differing dogmatically, we strove to treat others as we ourselves wished to be treated.
The times, they are a changin’.
Most of us on the gunnie blogosphere are familiar with Frank James.
Excerpted from his obituary:
Frank published thousands of articles over seven countries during his career as a writer. He published five books and was awarded the Anschutz Outstanding Writer of The Year Award in 1994. He was an expert outdoorsman with a passion for adventure and travel. He also owned and operated farms in the White County area for over 45 years. Frank created the White County Shooting Sports 4H Program and hosted Davidson’s Gallery of Guns on the Sportsman Channel as well as appearing on Gun Stories that airs on The Outdoor Channel.
He was an active shooting competitor, having shot in The Masters International Tournaments and USPSA (IPSC) competitions. He and his wife were longtime members of Palestine Christian Church and he also served on the Wolcott Library Board for several years.
But, most of all, Frank wanted to be remembered as a farmer.
Because he helped feed people.
R.I.P. Frank. Most of us in the gunblogging world aspire to be like you, personally and professionally.
You will be missed.
h/t Tamara, (I’m sorry for your loss.)