I have about two more days of deadlining before I can get back to serious posting. In the meantime, here are some pix from the Montana ranch where L. and I stayed over the weekend.
Here’s our cabin:
The cabin featured solar power, a composting toilet, a claw-foot bathtub, on-demand hot water, and despite the satellite dishes, a blessed absence of all electronic media.
It was a short walk from our hosts’ house, but our nearest neighbors weren’t human. This is Ben, a rescued Belgian draft horse, and one of his buddies.
In the same pasture were Highland cattle. They’re a hardy breed that can endure a brutal climate. Because they keep warm with their heavy, almost bison-like coats, they produce lean meat, closer to game than to grocery-store beef.
Here’s the father of the late (but absolutely not lamented) steer who now occupies several freezers, including L’s and mine.
Despite their fierce looks and long horns, Highlands are known for being gentle. One morning the family’s two teenage girls (who are responsible for the livestock) took us into the pasture. We were surrounded by horses, cows, calves, steers, and Papa Bull, many of the animals crowding in for attention, others just watching while hanging back cautiously, but nobody (including Papa there) minding the intruders. I was more concerned about where Ben might accidentally put his dinner-plate hooves than what Papa Bull might do.
The ranch was beautiful and serene. In the mornings we went outside with cups of tea or chocolate and watched deer watch us then calmly return to their browsing.
Our hosts were great people — and what amazingly nice, mature children. It was good to be back in rural Montana, even though it was even better to arrive back home Monday night.
Here it is: The “before” picture of the rifle a reader generously donated for me to customize and raffle.
Next step: Sometime in September I’ll be posting two or three custom camo candidate designs for you to vote on. Sometime in October (assuming no major glitches), I’ll have the rifle painted and ready for your online inspection.
Returned from a lightning trip to Montana last night bearing warm memories and a freezer full of Highland beef (which my friend L. and I will divvy this morning, with some going to my vet in part payment for excellent dog care).
I also returned with the generously donated raffle rifle. It’s not the Mini-14 we talked about but a rebel rifle that offers even more potential for Customized Claire Camo.
I should be posting photos later today. Also plan to be catching up with both email and deadlines. I had less Internet access on the trip than I anticipated and am behinder than I intended. But so it goes.
People sometimes ask how I feel to be writing for S.W.A.T. magazine. Am I conflicted? Hooboy, am I.
The short version of the reason I write for S.W.A.T. is that Rich Lucibella, the publisher, is more stubborn than I am. The slightly longer version is that I have the utmost respect for both Rich and Denny Hansen, S.W.A.T.’s long-time editor.
I think Rich and I are pretty much attuned, philosophically. Denny and I … not always so. But he puts up with me in gentlemanly fashion and both guys have always been wonderful to work with.
Both are also men of integrity. When I saw Denny’s “Briefing Room” column in the newest issue, I asked Rich for a link so I could show you (very little of the magazine is usually put online). Here you go: “Needless Tragedy?” Denny writes about Jose Guerena. Keep in mind that this is by a veteran SWAT cop talking to other SWAT cops. Denny has already received some first-class hate mail. And delivered at least one excellent smackdown.
That article was written with the invaluable help of two other men of integrity — David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh. Everybody anywhere who writes about Project Gunwalker owes salutes to them. In this case, my gratitude is more personal; they reviewed the article, suggested many improvements, and saved me from myself a time or two.
P.S. I have a pdf of Denny’s Briefing Room column, though not my Gunwalker article. If you can’t read the digital-magazine versions, leave a comment using a real email address and I’ll send you Denny’s column.
I’m deadlining madly for the next two weeks. And when not making my way through a pile of assignments, I’ll be making my way to Montana and back.
It’s a whirlwind trip; just a few days. But the cause is excellent. A rancher — and blog reader — and his wife (who he says is a much nicer person than he is) are giving me a side of organically raised grass-fed Highland beef and are paying part of the cost of the freezer to house it. All I have to do is cover the butcher’s fees. My friend L., whose vehicle is big enough to haul this bounty, gets half the meat in exchange for making the trip with me.
This is all great for us, of course. Amazing, in fact. But between deadlines and travel, you may get “lite” blogging into early September. (You never know, though; often, the moment I say I won’t have anything to say, I’m struck with a burst of brilliancedeep thoughts words. So we’ll see.)
In the meantime, with brain tired from a day of actual WERK, here’s some “lite” stuff I’ve been saving up for a while.
I can’t grow anything. Really, notoriously, I can’t. When plants see me approaching with good intentions, they shrivel. I swear I can hear their little vegetable voices shrilling, “No! No! Don’t touch me!” But when I finally just give up and let the old garden area here get taken over by weeds and let the dogs lie in the weeds and crush them, what do I get?
A healthy harvest of elephant garlic! I should try neglect more often.
Consider yourself warned!
This is a bag of peanuts. Sort of obvious, yes?
Well, brace yourself. You will be shocked — simply shocked! — to learn that it contains:
Yes — “peanut ingredients”! Oh, the horror. (Actually it is sort of horrible, rather like “pasturized processed cheese food.”) I ate them anyway.
Robbie is my oldest, and secretly my favorite, dog. I’ve always been fascinated by his coloring but too intimidated to try to capture it in a painting or drawing. Such a complex pattern. But those brindle markings make great camouflage.
Can you spot the dog in this picture?
Robbie’s not very active. Even when not in full camo, he can frequently be mistaken for a garden gnome
But mostly, he blends in pretty much everywhere — particularly in places he is Not Supposed to Be. Here he is, cleverly disguised as a pillow.
“Pope Tells Pilgrims to Stay True to Faith.” Why is this “news”? Why on freaking earth is this news? It’s right up there with the headline the MSM prints every six months or so: “Pope Prays for World Peace.” I mean, nothing against Catholicism. As religions go, it was one of the best I ever tried out. The pope might even be a decent fella for all I know. But really, what does anyone expect the pope to say? Forget all that faith stuff and party hearty? A few nukes would go good right about now? How on freaking earth does this “pope endorses faith” stuff qualify as “news”? You’d get more actual news at Kim Kardashian’s wedding.
Speaking of religion … I could almost kinda sorta like some things about Rick Perry. I mean aside from him being a warmongering corporate shill, you know. But this part, no way …
Well, not exactly a roundup because we’re talking only two books here. But two good ones.
First, we’ve got three new segments of Jake MacGregor’s novel The Advisor this week, beginning with Chapter 29. We’re reaching the point where a few mysteries are starting to be resolved. (Always like that part of a book — especially when the author has been so artfully, maddeningly withholding in the early going.)
The second book, I want to mention before I have to send it back to the library. I’ve been conniving to keep this little volume in my hands much longer than the library usually allows because it’s so full of voice-of-experience observation about hard times.
I don’t think I’ve ever crammed one tiny book so full of bits of torn paper to mark passages that are quotable, startling, funny, or useful.
You may remember Orlov from 2005 or so when he predicted that the U.S. was heading for a Soviet-style collapse. He was in a position to know, having lived in the U.S. for many years but also having watched the USSR’s disintegration up close and personal. A blog reader (thank you, J) reminded me about Orlov earlier this summer.
This book is the continuation of his original observations — now that the house of cards has begun to fall.
Orlov is no libertarian and certainly no anarcho-anything. (He’s all for universal health care, for one thing.) But he is a sharp observer and often a scathingly witty writer. He compares the U.S. and Soviet systems, explains their shaky similarities, but also points out key differences.
Differences that don’t work in our favor in hard times.
In short (to paraphrase, and I hope not misinterpret) Orlov says the U.S. will suffer more from its collapse because … well, read the book and see. I can’t do him justice in a few paragraphs.
You almost certainly won’t agree with every word he writes. But it’s a fun read despite its subject, and there’s a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from it.