While this ‘shot’ might lead one to believe I’ve worked to accomplish a tight cluster of marks at the shooting range, I view this instead as an achievement of another sort entirely.

Not so long ago I would have easily dismissed any notion that I might ever find myself handling, let alone shooting or owning a firearm. However, when my husband began researching and shopping around for a handgun a few years ago, I asked – on a whim – to hold one to see what it felt like in my hands. It was a huge sucker – a.50 caliber monster, that made me look and feel foolishly like Dirty Harriet but I was intrigued. When Bill and his brother enrolled in a class in order to get their permits to carry, I signed up as well.

Not long after that, I purchased a .22 caliber Browning beauty and we shot a few times – even joined the local Ikes that first year – although it’s been several months now since we have fired our pieces. Time is always a problem and while we enjoy target shooting it often takes a backseat to other interests. No matter. The important thing for me is that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and participated in something I would have written off before without having made any real attempt to understand or learn what it was all about. I’m no NRA, gun-toting, enthusiast (another discussion entirely but thank you – no); however, I do pride myself on trying something new and opening myself up to new possibilities!

I read somewhere once that to be a good writer it is helpful – encouraged even – to read as much as you can. Reading increases your vocabulary and sharpens critical thinking which are certainly useful tools for expressing oneself via the written word.

And so while I just haven’t felt like blogging much the last couple of days (NO idea where that came from) I’m going to stock up on a few brain cells by way of the engrossing Into Thin Air, quite apropos given the wintry blast that’s shaken up the heartland this mid-November weekend. Feet up, warm cup o’chai close at hand, a crock pot of chili simmering away for the evening meal and I’m good.

Inspiration: my vessel awaits!



On our trip to Colorado in September, we had the privilege of experiencing what it’s like to hike Rocky Mountain National Park. Aside from the magnificent beauty of this amazing place, it was awe-inspiring to contemplate the forces of nature that molded and shaped this spectacular landscape: the tectonic plates and the crush and rumble, the slow grind of rock and sediments and water and ice, the featured players in creating this most incredible terrain in all of the natural world.

And so, stumbling upon this smaller rock wedged – just so – beneath this large boulder (or perhaps the little guy is really only propping up the bigger fella?) gave me pause to consider how, after all that geological activity had exhausted itself to create the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us, seen and not yet seen, these two rocks would end up in just this manner.

My five sisters and I grew up on an acreage south of town. Our property was home to the sawmill my Dad owned and operated, the old schoolhouse he’d attended as a child, the house we lived in, a functional, compact, barn Dad built from scratch and a small, wooden, nondescript edifice we called the brooder house.

I didn’t even know that was how it was spelled until just now when a quick Google search provided me with the official definition: a device or structure for the rearing of young chickens or other birds. An alternate meaning of the word would be a person who broods but that is another matter entirely.

For us girls, however, there was another way to describe it and that was playhouse. Although designed for raising chicks, it was never really used by Dad for any other purpose than storage, most notably sacks of grain for the handful of farm animals we occasionally kept in the barn just a few feet away. When the barn was empty, so was the brooder house and written large upon our imaginations were ideas of how to transform it, if not into something of beauty, then into a private hideaway or retreat of sorts.

I recall fashioning a type of bed and a desk out of scraps of lumber – plentiful when your dad works with wood for a living – and I think I even laid out cups and saucers to serve tea to unexpected guests. However, no matter how much I swept and tried to clean or hung up pictures on the walls, it was still, after all, just a brooder house. Even at a young age, I was fond of decorating and designing and creating special places to suit my enthusiastic, yet grandly misguided, ideas. Sigh. How does that go – something about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?

Because the brooder house had rotting floors and unsecured doors and windows, it was pretty much open to the elements and therefore a handy refuge for both winged and four-legged creatures. Swallows built nests in its eaves, hornets constructed hives, and on occasion we heard and sometimes saw mice. Still we were undeterred.


Until Dad decided to move the brooder house to another location on the property and used the end-loader to lift it off its moorings. I think we were all stunned when we saw the large number of rats that scattered when the building was raised into the air and I was struck by how large – and fast! – these loathsome creatures appeared to us that day.

Even now, after all these years, I remember – with great clarity – that moment and the sick feeling in my stomach when I realized what it was that had caused those scratching, scuttling, scurrying sounds we heard below us whenever we spent time in that ‘special’ place of ours. It was, then, time to move on.

Dull, dreary, brown, mousy and nondescript…

That pretty much describes the month of November.  After the colorful leaves of fall find their way to the earth below, we’re pretty much left with bare, lifeless trees in a monotone landscape.


It occurs to me that November, the second to last month of the year, shares the same boring distinction – as far as months go – as that of the second month of the year, February. True, November has Thanksgiving, a wonderful American holiday and February can boast of Valentines Day, a commercially-driven day for lovers but weather-wise there is not much to recommend either one. Both have their fair share of gloomy, sunless days and cold-for-the-season temperatures with both pesky winds and unwelcome precipitation.


Still, both months have merit. November is the gateway to the holiday season while February signals the halfway point of winter with the promise of spring soon to follow. For now, however, with the end of daylight savings time and the transition to cooler temps and the promise (threat?) of snow in the wings, early November can be fickle and unreliable. Nothing to do but hunker down, enjoy those hot, comforting beverages, stir up a pot of chili, burrow into a good book or catch up on those recorded TV programs and series – Orange, House of Cards, Breaking Bad – you’ve been wanting to watch (or watch again). Now, before the busy season is upon us, sit back and make the best of it!