Jenni

About eleven years ago, I met a girl that excited me. I was on the way out of a bad relationship, and everybody said that it was a rebound relationship. When I was at work or school, or she was at work or school, all I could think about was freeing up the schedules to the point that I could see her again. I loved her. I was a conservative young man, and I was not going to let my emotions run away with me, but all I wanted to do was to have a life with this girl. From the first date, which included her paying for some chicken fingers at Denny’s, I felt this way. I’m here to tell you, people, the feeling does come and go.

But today, after eleven years, I was sitting at my desk at work, and I felt the same way. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over so I could be with Jenni. I was crunching the numbers, planning my shipments, prettying up an equipment manual because the last one I did was better than the older ones, and I couldn’t give it 100-percent of my attention, because I can’t stand being apart from her.

I have said on several occasions that I would fight back to back against the zombies with her, over anybody else, any day, ever. That only has a little to do with her xtreem skillz. It has more to do with the fact that I know her and love her. Have you seen my baby with a shotgun? Might I add, that is a 12-gauge? Zombies beware!!!

On the above mentioned day one – first ‘date’ and such, I’m sure that it was mostly puppy-love, but it turned into so much more. The last decade plus has wielded a relationship that is better than that perfect, first date. What I have is a soul-mate. She knows me, and she still loves me (imagine that). I will pester her about leaving shoes around the floor, and sneezing all the time, and being cold when it’s 80 in the house, and even make up annoying little nicknames for her like ‘Juniper Limb,’ which she even uses as a screen name on forums, and she only ever returns love. How could I not return that love?

I know full-well that both of you that read my blog also read hers. Therefore, I know that you know of the deal that she’s working through right now. And, I know that you know how she feels about me through the experience. Wow. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that special. I’m simply trying my best to be there for her. “I’m trying to be my best…”

I also know that if you are following me, you know that I am also personally facing issues intertwined with all the stuff going on. It hurts, guys. It hurts bad. I vaguely wrote about it a year and a half ago. Like a sick or injured animal, I’m really not comfortable sharing the specifics of that quite yet. I feel shame. I know that I shouldn’t, but I do. I imagine the dog with the injured leg, ignoring the pain, so he doesn’t limp, and the others in the pack don’t see his weakness. That’s kind of how it feels right now.

Even though Jenni’s news only recently broke, I knew. I didn’t know who, but I knew. Before the fact, I thought it would be a relief. In a way, it is. It hurts a lot worse than I expected it to – and yet, not so much. What I had in mind was completely fictional and unreal. It was a cartoon ghost created in the dark depths of my own mind. Recently, sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode, but other times, I feel so much more free than I have before in the last decade. The funny thing is that I avoided asking her about it because I was afraid of how it would hurt. It’s still worth it, and I should not have put off the question for my own benefit. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have still let her have her time with it, and come out in her own timing. But, enough of that for now!

I love her. All else aside, this relationship is working! My ‘rebound’ relationship turned out to be the rare and wonderful ‘real thing.’ Every time we have hit a rut in the road, it has only drawn us closer together. I know that hard times can drive a couple apart, but I will reference my above comment of fighting the zombies back to back with her. Right now, we are figuratively fighting zombies. They are no longer alive, but they do threaten our very being. The times are bad. But, I’m back to back with the one person that I want to be with for the experience. If there are any two people that can live through this battle, it’s my Jenni and me. We will make it, and we’ll be stronger and closer for it.

As Jay G tends to say,

That is all.

Prayer Request III

I know a lot of you have to be wondering what the heck is going on. This is what Jenni has to say in her most recent blog entry:

A long time ago, I was a victim. Yesterday, he threatened my family. I had never told anyone that he had molested me when I was child. Now, my husband knows, my parents know, my in-laws know, and anyone else that needs to know will soon know. I have set that ball in motion. And I am free.

I decided that it wasn’t my shame to carry so I gave it back. Now that I have opened it up, I know that I have scars to deal with. That’s okay. There is no shame in being a victim. Particularly if you were a helpless one. That is a burden that I will not carry any longer. He can have it. I also will not allow my silence to put anyone else at risk. I will not be silent any more.

The person in question has innocent children. Out of respect for them, I will not divulge any more details here. I will be doing what I can to make sure they are protected and safe. Hopefully, by breaking my silence, they will not be victims. I will not be backed into a corner by a child molestor. He will not have any power over my family.

All of the above was brand-new news to me yesterday. Needless to say, I was a little shell-shocked. I’m feeling an amazing peace about it all now. The numbness and rage have pretty well subsided. I know that this is a beginning point for some much-needed, put-off healing.

I love that girl! To a large extent, this is her fight and I’m the back up. I wouldn’t let her do it alone, afterall! Thanks again to all of you for your continued support. You people are awesome!

Prayer Request Update

I want to thank all of the wonderful people that have offered us support today. You people are amazing! There are a lot of bloggers that have a whole lot more readers than I do, but I’ve got the best ones. With the issue that we are facing, we are not out of the woods yet, but I’m feeling a peace and clarity that I didn’t think would be possible this soon. I’m feeling a lot more like my optimistic self, and Jen seems to be feeling a lot better as well. Perhaps I’ll feel at liberty to share such struggles on the interwebtron. But, in lieu of that, thank you for just taking my word for it. I should have something more entertaining up before too long.

Biblical Thoughts

Have you ever noticed how many of the biblical stories that we all know are so very vague? You know there has to be a real story there, but they sum it up in like one or two emotionless sentences. For instance:

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

Genesis 2:20a via Bible Gateway

Alright. This sounds like it may have been an event of some kind. I understand that mankind has always been interested in his surroundings, and that we want to grow, understand and conquer our settings. But, this is just a little on the bland side. This passage came up on Sunday, and my mind got to wandering…

*In The Garden of Eden, Adam is given the task of naming all the creatures on Earth. God is keeping track as he goes.*

“God, we’ve been at this for hours. Are we done yet?”

“No, Adam,” God chuckled at the new human, “There are still lots of animals. What do you want to call that one?”

“Hmmm… I think that’s going to be a bird.”

“Alright. What about this one over here?”

“That one is also a bird.”

“Are you sure? These two creatures are quite different from each other.”

“Oh, good point! Well, the first one can be an ostrich and the second one can be a sparrow.”

“So, neither one is a bird?”

“No, they’re both birds, just different kinds of birds. God, are you getting all of this?”

“Oh, yes. Both birds, ostrich and sparrow. I’ve got it.”

“God, I’m getting bored.”

“Let’s just name a few more animals, and then we can take a break for a while. What about the creature on the log? What would you like to call it?”

“The one on the log? I don’t know. It’s kind of slimey. On a log. On a log… Let’s call it a frrrrrr… Let’s call it a FROG! Hee hee!”

“Alright, ‘frog‘ it is. What about the one standing next to it?”

“That’s a DOG!”

“Okay. And, how about the small one swimming in the water beside them?”

POLY-WOG! Hahahahahahaaaaa!”

“Now, you’re just being silly! Come on, Adam. Just a few more animals for now. Look at that one over there. What do you want to call it?”

“Woah! That is one weird looking animal! God, why’d you make that one so strange?”

“I had to mix things up to keep creation interesting. What would you like to call it?”

“It’s just so bizarre! It needs a really weird name. Let’s call it… …a… …plat… …eeeee… …pus! That’s it! It’s a platypus.”

So on and so forth. I have to wonder if there ever were more details that got lost somewhere in the oral tradition. Maybe we’ll know someday.

My friend, Orange Neck in New York

In response to my last post, my interwebtron buddy “Orange Neck” commented:

Awwwww…why do you mid-west rednecks get to have all the fun? :(

ONinNY, there are lots of people like you. Many people wind up in areas that they simply don’t belong for whatever reason. My other freind, Instinct is pretty much in the same boat, actually. If you want to live out here, you will eventually, and I’ll tell you why that’s good enough. Jesus told a parable in Matthew 20:1-16:

1″For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3″About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5So they went.

“He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7” ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8″When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9″The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12’These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13″But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16″So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Now, I’ve never been to heaven, but I live in Oklahoma. *snickering at my own silly reference* The way I look at it, somebody like Orange Neck or Instinct eventually winds up in a place like this. Even if it’s a lot later than they wanted to, it still counts. I work with a woman who is a naturalized immigrant from South Africa. She’s more of an American than most natural-born citizens I’ve ever met. Consider how the population of Israel has grown nearly ten times over! The same goes for here. There are a lot of people living in Oklahoma that are not Okies. Similarly, there are a lot of people who have moved to Oklahoma that are more Okie than I am. Will you be an Okie one day? Just make sure you aren’t the Okie in boots with a New York accent! Even if you are, it will only get you punked, not injured. The bottom line is this: Whatever you want in life – whatever your heart truly desires, work for it and towards it. You’ll get there soon enough.

Happy Father’s Day!

I’d like to take the opportunity to give a belated shout-out to all the fathers out there. I will say from personal experience that it’s hard (and yet quite rewarding) work being a dad. I know that I haven’t done everything right in my role as a dad – and neither has anyone else. I hope that the other dads out there put in the effort to be the best dad that they can. We are called to be gentlemen, warriors, and spiritual leaders. It takes two parents to raise children, and neither role can be diminished in the least. Being a dad is one of the most important jobs that anyone can have. It’s right up there with being a mom!

At this point, I’ve been a dad for ten and a half years. I’m much better at it now than I was at first. One of my co-workers recently became a dad. This was his first Father’s Day. Early on, when he complained about the midnight feedings and diaper changes, I told him that this was the easiest he would have it. I told him that the journey from infancy to adulthood only got harder and harder as a parent. BUT… A big BUT, it will be worth it!

Now that the kiddo is ten, parenting is WAY more of a challenge than ever before. But, he’s so much more fun now! On Saturday, we rode a bunch of roller coasters together. He goes shooting with me, and he can clean his own rifle after our outings! He’s capable of making some complicated decisions on his own at this point. Ten is such a funny age. I hate the word ‘tween,’ but I do understand the sentiment. He’s caught in the limbo between being a little child and being a budding adult. His good decisions are getting more frequent and more predictable. That only makes it that much more frustrating when he does something childish!

On Friday afternoon, the three of us went to the gun range. He is usually so responsible with a firearm, but not on Friday. I had to repeatedly remind him to keep his trigger finger in check. When he emptied his magazine, he didn’t bother to pull it out and lock the action back. He proceeded to sweep the entire range on his way back from the firing line. Needless to say, I was furious! I was not too hard on him, though. I took his rifle from him, cleared it, put it away, and told him what he had done wrong. He knew. That’s all I had to do. He said he was sorry. I told him that I was glad that his irresponsible behavior had not led to anyone being shot. I told him that I knew he would do better on the next range trip.

It was my fault, though. He is ten. I’m his dad. It is my responsibility to be the range safety officer when he’s at the firing line. He’s always so good with the gun that I got sloppy on the one occasion that he happened to be off his game. That just serves as a reminder that I can’t slack off, and I can’t get lazy. Like teaching a kid to ride a bike, you often have to hang on to that seat even when it feels like they are balancing it on their own. He’s turning into a great man, but he’s not riding the bike on his own quite yet. There are times to allow a child to fail because of their own poor choices, but never with a firearm, and I know this. Still, at some point, you have to let go of the bike and let them ride it on their own.

In six years, he’ll be driving. In eight years, he will be a legal adult. If I do my job right, he’ll be a mental and emotional adult. I’m always shocked at how many people never actually make it that far. But, the kiddo has a great mom, and I hope that he’s got a great dad! That’s my goal – my most important job right now.

To all the gentlemen that are fathers of children – Keep the faith and run hard! Play hard and guide and mold those children. Chivalry is not dead and respect is not archaic. Love your kids, and keep them going straight. More than anything, love the kids third best. Love God first, love their mom second best, and make them a very close third. I believe that many mistakes are forgivable and easily surmountable. Follow the simple guidelines above and you will be a successful dad. Good luck and God bless!

To all the gentlemen that are fathers of adults – thank you. The job is not in the least an easy one, but thanks for sticking with it. Your job has contributed to all of us!

A Long Entry Describing a Long Weekend…

It was an interesting weekend that made me think about many things. Although I would like to break this one up into more than one post, that’s just not going to happen. From Friday evening to last night constituted one of the more bizarre and yet delightful weekends that I can easily recall.

Nearly a year ago, on June 19, 2008, I received my letter from OSBI telling me to come in and get my weapons license. I wrote about it on my blog the next day. At the time, carrying was awkward. The gun was heavy, the holster was crappy, and I felt like a young teenager who could not hide what felt like a brand-new, huge protrusion. In the same vein, it felt like everyone was staring right at it, and like I could not possibly wear enough clothing to cover it. Also in the same comparison, I didn’t quite know how to use the equipment optimally. Since then, I’ve become more comfortable with carrying and shooting, through practice and training. I ditched the cheap holster for one of my own design and craftsmanship which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in the world of CCW. I became proficient shooting with both hands or either hand alone and added a twin to my carry. I’ve drilled in defensive shooting, and developed skills that I didn’t know I was lacking. Over the last year, I’ve become far more aware of my surroundings as I go about my daily life, always looking for the advantage, keeping my eyes on entrances and exits, sizing up other individuals as possible friends or foes. At this point, I’m safer without my gun than I was fully-armed when I first started carrying. That is to say that there may be times that I leave my gun behind, but I am never unarmed. What I have gained in my pursuit of defense has started to turn me into the weapon that I’m supposed to be. It’s not at all that I was defenseless before, but now I know far better how to avoid the fight, or quickly end it if I need to.

On Friday evening, Jenni and I decided to go to our monthly wine share event that we had not attended in several months. This is a charming event that roams around our home town. Lots of locals come, each with a bottle of wine, and mingle while sipping. It’s a great way to meet new friends and potential network contacts. In the state of Oklahoma, the law reads that it is illegal to have access to a firearm while ‘under the influence of alcohol.’ In practice, what this amounts to is that you should not be in the same room with an open container and a firearm. So, when we went to our wine share, we unloaded and locked away our guns prior to the event.

Over the course of the evening, we met several people that were a lot of fun – great conversationalists. I wound up talking about art and fashion with another young man there. His girlfriend had dragged him, kicking and screaming, and then he got to see what a fun get together it actually was. He commented on the jacket I was wearing and asked where I had bought it. This was an Armani that I purchased on eBay. I was wearing it primarily to cover my empty holsters, as I didn’t really want the conversations to go that direction on this particular evening. Fred had a hard time believing that I had paid so little for the designer label jacket, and asked if I had to have it tailored or anything. By the time our wine share was winding down, Fred asked Jenni and I to go to a party with the two of them, to another friend’s house. I thought it sounded like great fun, so away we went.

The hostess was a charming immigrant who knew what a meal is supposed to be. There were grilled chicken and beef kabobs, potato slices baked with onions, and countless, delicious vegetables and cheeses. Let me stop to preface here: I don’t usually eat much for breakfast, but Jenni and I had made a stop on the way to work. Lunch was provided by the office, and I took the opportunity to really load up on pizza, in anticipation of having wine before dinner. Then, they broke out cake and ice cream at work to celebrate a few office birthdays. Needless to say, I was not terribly hungry after wine share. Even so, I picked around at a skewer and a few potato slices and a couple of green beans. The people seemed nice, and flirtation among the group was rising. I didn’t think a whole lot about that as I thought they were simply feeling their alcohol. Things started to seem strange to me right about the time that Jenni leaned over to whisper in my ear under the noise of the party. She said that the hostess had just told her in French that after the food, we were going to get in the pool, and swimsuits were not allowed. I looked around the crowd with a whole new… …er… …appreciation. Actions that I had written off as harmless enough started looking sinister. Don’t get me wrong – whatever consenting adults wanted to do in their own time is none of my business, but I felt like we were being roped into a swinger’s party. I don’t know if that was true or not, but we didn’t stick around to find out! We pulled the whole ‘Woah, would you look at the time!’ bit and made our way towards the front door, vaguely back-to-back. We thanked the hostess for her hospitality and complimented the meal. Fred met us on our way out, and we told him that it was about time we turned in. Much to my relief, he made no protest and we got out cleanly.

Now – as I said before, I don’t know what was going to happen after that, and I don’t really care. It’s got nothing to do with me, and we controlled the situation to make sure of that. Had we not been as aware of our surroundings as we now are, the story could have been very different. If our suspicions were correct, what does that say about Fred, who gave no indication of the nature of this party? I personally want to believe that everyone is good at their core, and worthy of the benefit of doubt. It will not be the first time for me to say that I hope the worst-case-scenario is not the true one, but we also didn’t stick around to find out. Just like a game of chess, one must play several moves ahead to stay out of danger and make the win without a serious fight.

Friday night, comfortably at home, we laughed off the evening, had a drink just the two of us, watched some TV and went to bed.

Saturday morning, we went to the range. It was way too hot and windy to try the farm, and the mosquitoes, ticks, and poison ivy are out of control this year. It pains me to say that I don’t see myself spending much time out there prior to Fall. I still wasn’t hungry, but felt like I should eat something before shooting, so I had a turkey sandwich at the range cafe. We each went through about one hundred handgun rounds and fifty shotgun shells. The two of us split one hundred rounds in our new Ruger 10/22. My handgun shooting was a little off, but not as much as I was afraid it would be following our bizarre evening. My rifle marksmanship was predictably deadly, if not a little high on the target. Jenni complained of the same. I would have attempted to adjust the elevation, but we are about to replace the sights, so I didn’t really see the point of adjusting for the time being. We saw one of the new, Colt, .22-caliber AR’s. We also saw several very nice old pieces of history including a Winchester 92 in 44/40 and a Springfield trap door! Apparently, someone was settling an estate.

There was an NRA instructor course taking place, and we had the opportunity to meet a man who has a great story behind him. The legend goes that this gentleman was a pilot in the military at one point in time. After retirement, he was on a plane that had an accident. The plane was literally ripped in half by some harsh weather coupled with a pilot error. This gentleman was ejected from the plane, seat and all, and found himself making a rapid descent into the mountains from thousands of feet in the air! His training took over, and he unstrapped from the seat only to realize that he had no parachute. Plan-B was to attempt to steer his body to the softest looking spot in the mountains. This resulted in his survival with broken arms and legs, broken ribs, and missing teeth. Even with his injuries, he made his way back to the wreckage of the plane and gathered up survivors. He put them in the remains of the fuselage as the only shelter available, and assessed the situation. He determined that he was in better shape than any one else present despite his condition, so he walked several miles to the nearest town for help. “You hear that clanging sound when he walks,” my friend Will said, “Those are his brass balls.” Yeah. I’ll say.

After the range, we went to the house of a couple that sings in the church choir with Jenni. They were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and wanted everyone to come over for cake and margaritas. Upon arrival, Jenni was drafted to take pictures. A .38 shell fell out of the cuff of her jacket, and the host snatched it off the floor before it could bounce a second time. (I had wondered where that shell had gone when I was collecting our spent brass at the range.) This obviously led to shooty conversations. I had a great time talking to them and their family. A girl in the family, a niece or something, kept talking about the medical powers of various metals and crystals. I don’t believe in the mystical properties of crystals, but I do know of the medical properties of magnets. I try to avoid those suckers like the plague as I’m over-sensitive to them. The magnetic bracelets, shoe inserts, etc. make me hurt in quick order! I realize that there are probably a lot of people who would think I was full of crap for saying so. So, when I hear someone talking earnestly about something that I think is hooey, I usually laugh quietly to myself and keep my mouth shut. I don’t know everything, after all. We now have a pending date to go skeet shooting with the host couple. I’m really excited as I’ve never shot skeet before! I’ll probably bring my house gun along although I suspect I’ll wind up shooting something else. I still wasn’t hungry, but I did have a piece of cake. I paced myself, having two margaritas over the course of the two or three hours that we were there.

After the anniversary party, we went to Jenni’s parent’s house to pick up our kiddo and have dinner. We had sandwiches. I still wasn’t very hungry, but had a small sandwich and some chips. We watched one of those stupid tabloid shows where they show the dark, dark secrets of the celebrities. Most of them were quite laugh-worthy, as I would have expected, but there was one little feature on the show that I found to be very telling. They did a short concerning the marriage of the Obama’s. It strikes me as interesting that for the first time in history, the first couple of the U. S. is of the caliber that the tabloid shows are attracted to them. It’s pathetic actually, and quite telling that they get balled in with all the hollow-headed entertainers. Saturday night, we went home, laughed at the events of the day, and had a drink, just the two of us, and watched some T. V.

Sunday morning, we went to church. Especially in what has seemed to be the wake of a rash of church shootings, I find myself paying special attention to entrances, exits, and people in church. I don’t let this awareness distract me from the worship or the message, but I will not be caught unaware. I feel like God does not want me to be a victim, and He wants me to protect others if and when I am called to. Therefore, I owe it to Him to remain alert at all times – not in a state of paranoia, but always ready to do what needs to be done. This is why I felt it necessary for me to get my CPR certification as well.

Sunday afternoon, we spent with my Dad, as mom went to Cape Cod with a friend for the weekend. My brother and sister-in-law met us there. We had pizza and Dad’s delicious home-brew! We gave them updates on our strange weekend and had some smokes and some good laughs. As evening drew, the three of us continued home. We cut the kiddo’s hair, and mine as well. I’m becoming a fan of the #2 clipper guard. I told our son that he is welcome to wear his hair in any longer style of his choice once he is consistently making responsible independent hygiene choices. I’m not stressed out about that. He’s a ten-year-old boy, afterall! The three of us watched some cartoons and he ate dinner. Once he went to bed, Jen and I watched some Terminator and had a drink, just the two of us. When we shut off the T. V., we talked and laughed about all the crap and great times that we had had over the weekend. The two of us skipped dinner last night, and my appetite seems to have returned to normal.

Michael’s morals of the story:

1. Remain attentive. Very little is ever as it seems at a first glance. Some thing turn out to be better and some worse. If you are going to see the true nature of anything, you will have to be observant. This will often allow you to avoid potentially bad situations instead of trying to figure out how to get out of one you are stuck in. Often for me that comes down to shutting up and listening.

2. Gunnies are generally the best people you are likely to ever meet. There are great and wonderful people in many divisions, subcultures and walks in life, but the organized shooting community seems to have an unusually high concentration of the most upstanding, admirable people you are likely to cross paths with.

3. The secret to a long and happy marriage – laugh a lot and set aside time for just the two of you as often as possible. Enjoy friends in common and watch each other’s backs. Definitively set up your common boundaries against outside forces and do not let them get compromised. Enjoy great food and drinks together, but not to excess. Never drink enough to affect your actions or your speech. Love your kids, but love each other slightly more. Don’t let the kids come between you. The best love you can show your children is to love their mom or dad more than any one else on the planet. Spend time with God, individually, as a couple, and as a family.

And, this rant is officially over.

The First and Only Inherited Gun

One morning, the fam and I (the Evyl Robot Empyre) were getting ready to go to our daily life at school and work. We were running a little late that day, and in a rush to get out the door. We had largely made up the time when we were heading out the door at 7:00 a. m., when my phone rang.

The first thought that went through my head was, “Who in the world is calling me at seven in the morning on a Thursday?!?!?” I looked at my caller I. D., and saw that it was Grandpa.

My first thought was worry. It was muted, but it was there. My dad’s dad is getting up there in years. Close to 90. When he was a child, his doctor told his parents that he wouldn’t live a long life due to a congenital heart defect. In his eighties, he climbs on the roof to repair his house, he roots around in the attic, and he digs in the garden out back (which is a small slice of Eden, I might add). My grandparents have been married for 59 years, and live on their own. They lead a very active lifestyle, live passionately, love passionately, and live remarkably fast. They aren’t scared of new technology and entertain guests from out of town. Grandpa gets up before the sun to do his daily bible reading and prayer, and Grandma will cook a meal any time I show up for one. Great people.

Knowing that he wakes up before the dawn, it wasn’t so strange that he might be calling at that hour except that he doesn’t usually. I answered the phone, “Hello?”

“Michael,” he said, “It’s your Grandad. Is this a bad time to call?”

“No,” I responded, “This is a fine time to call. What’s going on?”

He said, “Well, I’ve got your great-grandma’s shotgun here, and I know that you like guns, and if you would be interested, I’d like for you to have it.”

This was kind of a shock. A welcome shock at the time, but a shock, no less. I didn’t know that he had his mother’s gun, and I didn’t know why he would choose now to bestow it, but I was interested, “I’d love to have it. That sounds great,” I clumsily responded.

“Well, give me a call and let me know when you want to come by,” he said.

We parted ways at that. Needless to say, I wondered what the heck kind of gun it was that he was giving to me. I was pretty well obsessed all day long. He said it was his mom’s shotgun. That’s all I knew. Would it be a pristine gun, or a total, rusted out basket-case not worthy of hanging on a wall? There were several bore sizes that it could be, there were several action types, countless makers… the possibilities were nearly endless!

That afternoon, I called him back to let him know that I wanted to come by. He sounded eager for the visit. When we got to his house, he explained that he wanted to sort out his stuff, and pass it out to who he wanted to own it, before they had to fight over it after he was gone. I didn’t like where that was going. He told me that he knew that he wouldn’t live forever, and that he wanted to make sure that treasures like this went to the people he wanted them to go to. He said that he wished he had two guns, so he could give one to me and one to my brother, but since I seemed to be more into guns than my brother…

I didn’t tell him that my brother was not less into guns, only less into finances currently. I did tell him that I would gladly share – that any time he wanted the old gun, that it was his as well as mine. That was sincere, and still is. I also told him that I hoped he would stick around for a while, because I would miss him as well as a bunch of other people.

That’s about when he presented me with this:

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This is a Stevens .410 that was built about a hundred years ago.

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It has the hammer-block safety, spring-loaded firing pin, and a serial number.

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You see, Great-Grandpa wanted Great-Grandma to go hunting with him, and she decided she was game for it (as it were, not literally, of course). He bought her coveralls, and this gun. He went out and bought the absolute, nicest, small-bore shotgun that he could afford. She tried the sport a couple of times and decided it wasn’t for her. She did keep the gun though.

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Years after the fact, some cousin was using the gun in the field and shot it, not realizing that he had gotten sand in the barrel. It blew off a few inches from the end of the barrel. At this point, the barrel has a very slight bulge in the end of it, and it lacks the sight bead. My brother and I have cleaned and oiled it for these pictures (it looks 100% better than it did originally).

The gun shoots beautifully. I was shocked that such a thing would do so well, so old, beaten and used, lacking the end of the barrel and the sight. And yet, it does function as it should, and it shoots true.

Either person who has been following my blog knows that there are a few guns in The Evyl Robot Empyre. Each one of them is special. Even my twin revolvers, which are with me all day everyday are unique to each other much like the difference between .223 and 5.56 brass is different to the touch when sorting. I love this old single-shot .410. It is a piece of heritage and a piece of history.

Somewhere, I have pictures of the boy shooting his great, great-grandma’s gun. That’s something that is truly priceless. I worry about Grandpa. I know that his time here is limited, and that The Father will call him home, but I don’t want it to be soon. Then again, I don’t really get any say in that. At the same time, I’m honored that he would give me such a treasure. It doesn’t have much monetary value, but it it priceless in my hereditary line.

Maybe someday, I’ll be giving this one to my grandson, telling him the story about his great, great, great-grandmother and her short stint with this wonderful old shotgun.

Hail To The Chief II. -Concerning My Best Friends

The way of things is odd, to say the least.

When I got married, I married my best friend. After nearly ten years, she remains my best friend and my soul-mate. We have made it a point to grow closer together rather than drifting apart, as I have seen many couples do with the weathering of the years. At this point, it just seems natural to spend the time together that we do. Most people who meet us have no idea that we have been together for so long. I like it this way. I’m looking forward to the next decade with her and the one after that, so on and so forth.

If you are close friends with your family, i. e. parents, siblings, cousins, count yourself as fortunate. This is a blessing, and not to be taken for granted. My wife and I are very close to my brother and sister in law. I value their friendship and their place in my life. Granted, I may get annoyed at them from time to time, but that is the way of siblings, isn’t it? If you don’t get annoyed at them, you probably aren’t that close.

All that being said, I come to inner-circle best friends. I have three best friends that don’t fit into any of the above categories (arguably). I’m speaking of non-blood relatives that are close enough friends that they may as well be. These three friends in no particular order are Darren, Beej, and Sean. Something else that these three people share in common other than essentially being non-blood relatives to me is that they all three voted for Barack Obama on Tuesday, and I don’t think any less of them for it.

I’ve known Beej since I was in second grade. Back then, she was a squirrelly little kid, and went by Bridget. Of course, I was also a squirrelly little kid, and I was known as Michael. Later, she decided to go by her initials, B. J. She found that this new moniker had mixed results, and her group of friends settled into calling her “Beej,” even in written word. Beej is a highly gifted, highly intellectual individual that has had the most unique personal story that I can recall. But, I would have to let her tell you about that on her own time and motivation. When Jenni and I took up handgunning in January, 2008, it kind of scared Beej at first. She wanted to come for a range session with us just to see what it was about. After her first trip to the range, she was hooked and the disease took her over. She now has a Smith & Wesson revolver and a Sig 9mm and has been thinking about getting herself a shotgun and some formal training. She thoughtfully listens to and reads our conservative views, but doesn’t embrace them on our word. I’m proud of her for that. If everyone could openly consider all viewpoints and come up with their own independently, the world would be a better place to live.

I’ve known Darren for nearly as long as Beej. I can’t remember whether it was in late grade school or junior high when Darren and I met. Darren has done some really crazy stuff in his life. He has a cabin out in the woods, but currently leads the career military life with his wife who is a nurse for the United States. In high school, Darren and I chased after some of the same girls. We’ve always had our differences, and never let them bother us. I’ve always been an opinionated fan of Japanese cars, and he has always been vocal about his Pontiacs. There have been times that we poked fun at each other for such differences, but at the end of the day, we’ll drink from the same scotch bottle. I think it was during the 2004 election that I discovered how vastly different our political views were. I have to admit that I was shocked at the time. Darren has had points in his life when I thought to myself, “Dear Lord, he’s going to kill himself.” But such is they way with young men, I suppose. This is how we grow into full-fledged, grown men. I can’t help but wonder if he thought the same of me from time to time.

I have been friends with Sean for the shortest amount of time of any of these three dear friends. I met Sean about 7 years ago maybe? We were fast friends from day one. He and I were both driving (and modifying) 1983 Honda Civic Station Wagons. He had commented that he wanted to lower his. Without hesitation, I asked Sean to buy the supplies needed and to bring them to my house on my day off, and we would lower his car. I didn’t really know the first thing about him, but he struck me as a good person. My first impression of him could not have been more right. Sean and I got to know each other over the engine compartments of many Japanese cars. Together, we fixed some basket cases, and screwed up perfectly good drivers in the pursuit of making them perform better. I have fond memories of some of those monstrosities, which took on personalities of their own and were usually unfit for public roads in their final forms. Sean is a metal man. He has a heart made of solid gold, a mind like a steel trap, iron convictions, and if I had a sister, I would do everything in my power to marry her off to him so we actually could be brothers.

As I said before, all three of them voted for BHO. I find it incredibly interesting that I felt so very strongly about this election – that it was not a matter of black and white, or right and left but to me it had become a matter of right and wrong or good and evil – and yet, the three people that I would consider family except for the lack of blood relation each disagreed with me on this point. Of course, with the way my brain works, I’m trying to find correlation – some sort of cause-and-effect situation in or about my life that could explain what would seem to be such an odd coincidence. I have spoken with each of them in turn about the election. They all know that I’m opinionated and outspoken (that’s just the nice way of saying a big-mouthed punk). A great friend will allow that and still care about you. Each of them has seemed hesitant to touch the issue to varying degrees, I suppose in fear that they would elicit my opinion maybe? I shudder to think that that could be the case!

Ultimately, I hope they find that I am proud that my friends think about things, and have individual beliefs and opinions. I hope they know that when it comes down to it, we agree on all of the important stuff. I believe that God’s Will is the One Constant, and though different stuff happens because of what we as people do, His Plans will come about one way or another. I am a believer in the strength of the individual. I am a believer in unity in small groups. Once you really get down to it, these people – my immediate family, my extended family, and my adopted family – are more important than all the people in DC rolled up into one big, corrupt ball. As I wrote in my previous entry, I hope they are right and I am wrong on this one. I also hope that such petty things never damage friendships like these.

(By the way, I still think you guys voted wrong! ;-P)