Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm on a rampage. . .

A de-cluttering rampage! I have a small house. Add that to the fact that I have a personality flaw which forces me to hang on to "stuff" and that is a prescription for chaos!

This weekend, in between watching March Madness games, I decided the time was long overdue to do something about it. My first stop, the drawers in my bedroom dresser and chest. I ended up with two piles on my bedroom floor. One pile was the "throw out" pile and the other was the "keep" pile. I found an old flashlight with batteries inside with an expiration date of 2000. Within the "keep" file, I chose which things would go back in the drawers and which would be put into storage totes and taken to my shed out back. Wow! I actually have room in these drawers now to find things.

Next I tackled the shelves at the bottom of the stairs in the basement. This is where I keep kitchen items that I use, but not everyday, so I wanted this space for things that I could easily get to. This area had become dust covered and crammed.

There were two boxes of things that had been wrapped in newspaper, uh, and put there when I moved into this house, uh, well, 14 years ago. On top was an old food dehydrator that I used years ago in my backpacking days that was buried in dust. I also found an old square waffle maker that I had since back in the 70's and I couldn't tell you the last time it was used. I can assure you it was long before I had grandchildren or daughters-in-law.

So I swallowed my shame, removed everything from this area, used the vacuum cleaner and began sorting things to throw out and others to keep. I used plastic totes to store things in, thus keeping the dust away.

By this time I am starting to see real results and I'm motivated to continue. Why is it my house suddenly seems to be bigger and roomier???

Stay tuned. Who knows what other so-THAT'S-where-this-has-been momentsI I will have.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: The Dragon Leatherworks' Fugly holster

For those who carry a concealed weapon legally, and their numbers are staggering, I want to share my thoughts and experience with the Fugly, an inside the waistband holster, from Dragon Leatherworks. Click here for the website

Why is it called the Fugly? Well, because it is freakin’ ugly!

I don’t know about others, but I find I need a different method of carrying depending on what I am wearing and which firearm I am carrying. There is no one holster for every situation just as there is no one firearm suitable for every carry situation.

I stumbled onto the Fugly and Dragon Leatherworks from reading one of the many blogs I follow online. I first e-mailed Dennis, the owner, and asked if his products are sold in stores in my area. He was quick to reply and explained that in order to keep his costs down, as well as the price of his products, he sells only online. He is located in New York State in the Catskill region.

Compared to the price of other quality holsters on the market, I questioned whether a holster with a price tag of $39.00 could really be a good holster. But after reading several reviews and his own explanation of the holster on his website, I decided to give it a try.

What a pleasant surprise! The day it arrived, I put it on and wore it for several hours. I was hardly aware it was there. I was amazed at how comfortable it felt without the expected breaking in period.

I am grateful to Dennis for promptly answering all my questions. This dealer knows all about good customer service.

There are certain things I look for in a holster, probably the same things you look for. Above all else, it must be truly concealable. I don’t want any hint that I am carrying a firearm. I am not one of those idiots who think it is cool to display a firearm, “just because the law says I can.” I want it to last. It must be comfortable to wear. I want the trigger area to be enclosed within the holster. And I want quick access on drawing, along with holding the firearm securely. Oh, and don’t forget ease of placing the firearm back inside the holster. The Fugly does all this.

So how can he sell a quality holster at this price? The part of the holster that is inside the waistband is unfinished leather, hence, the “ugly” part! The thought of wearing a piece of unfinished leather against my skin was a bit unnerving to me. “Won’t that wear out the leather?” I asked in an e-mail. He explained that the combination of your body oils and perspiration serve to make this part of the holster softer. Yes, it did take me awhile to get past that one! Over time you need to clean this part of the holster and he explained how to do that. I know how to take care of leather, but “unfinished” leather was not something I was familiar with!

Is there anything I don’t like about the Fugly? Yes. I find, when not dressing in layers, I need to wear a shirt that is one size larger than my normal size to totally conceal the holster and firearm. I could get away with wearing my normal size and still be within the definition of “concealed”, but to the trained eye, that little “bump” on my right side is a giveaway. Another point, I asked if he could make a Fugly for a revolver. The answer was no. The way the Fugly is constructed does not lend itself to the increased width of a revolver. I can live with that, given all its other features!

One other important point. The Fugly is entirely made in the USA from only materials from the USA.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mayberry, USA

It has been over a week since I returned from Alabama for my annual family reunion. My mind keeps turning back to Mayberry USA – I will use that name to refer to the small town where we were.

I have known Mayberry all my life. My earliest memories of it are visiting Granny and Popa, who lived just outside the town limits, having moved from the farm on the outskirts of town before I was born. It was a sleepy little town back then and it hasn’t changed much in the downtown area. There is still a dime store (remember those?), small shops, a church here and there, and at the end of Main Street stands the large brick Court House in the middle of the traffic circle. Just a block or two to the east of the Court House there was a small ice cream shop where my cousin, Gwen, and I used to go for banana splits. I haven’t had a banana split in decades! Once we stopped by and the couple behind the counter had maybe a little too much to drink and they gave us our banana splits for free!

My aunt and uncle used to run a small mom and pop gas station and grocery store. These types of stores, long before the present day convenience stores, were common in the South. Sitting at that store on any given day, one would witness a cast of colorful characters coming and going. Most of these folks, black and white, had lived their entire life within the state of Alabama without venturing out to the rest of the USA. They were farmers or employees at the old glove factory. Most never finished high school.

There were Mutt and Yvonne. Mutt was a heavy drinker. Yvonne, whose smile showed several missing teeth, was about as wide as she was tall and never heard of cosmetics and beauty products for women. But she could easily throw Mutt over her shoulder and carry him home when he had too much to drink.

Mutt and Yvonne, along with most of the other customers, would come in and pay last week’s grocery bill and put this week’s groceries on credit. There was a charge book for each customer and most all of them paid their bill sooner or later.

I guess you could say the store was a gathering place for the locals to catch up on the latest gossip or to generate more. In front of the store were metal patio chairs where customers would sit and chat awhile as they drank bottle after bottle of Pepsi or Royal Crown Cola.

My cousins and I often followed the dirt road behind the store that led to a big open field. In the spring and summer it was covered in wildflowers.

On the north end of town there is now an exit from the Interstate highway. I couldn’t believe I was really in Mayberry several years back when I returned after an absence of many years. Dozens of hotel and restaurant chains had sprung up on what used to be nothing more than cow pastures or pine forests. There is a Wal Mart Superstore! There are people from diverse ethnic backgrounds working here.

Yes, civilization and a new era have come to Mayberry. But there is still that sense of genuine Southern hospitality from days gone by.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sugar Coated Almonds

My cousin, Pam, brought these to our reunion last weekend. Oh! are they delicious! It's one of those snacks you just can't stop eating!

Coat sides and bottom of a pot with butter. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Boil on low till sugar dissolves and comes to a boil. Once it boils, cover for 2 minutes. Then continue until a thermometer reaches the soft boil stage (236 degrees). While you are doing this, spread almonds on a baking sheet and put in 250 oven for 10 minutes to toast.

Butter a sheet pan or cookie sheet.

After the sugar mixture reaches the soft boil stage, remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add almonds - 2 cups or more - stir to coat almonds. Then place on a buttered cookie sheet and bake at 250 for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes.

Once they are taken from the oven, let them sit for half hour or more before storing in a tight-lid container.

You can use any nut, but the almonds were perfect for this snack.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family Reunion, March 2011

I arrived at the small Alabama town where my cousins and other family members gather every year for our reunion. This one was even more fun than previous years.

By Friday morning, the Jacksonville contingent, Pam, Aunt Ileen, Kenny and his wife, Bobbie, had arrived. We went over to the property that our family has owned since it was deeded from the government back in the 1800s. Kenny and I went to work unpacking our guns and shooting "stuff". Soon we were filling the air with gunshots and laughter as we aimed at our targets, both paper bulls-eye targets and stacked up plastic bottles. I took out my Sig Sauer 1911 .45 and from 12 or more feet away, I hit the crosshairs of the target. I looked toward Kenny for a congratulations. . . instead I got, "A blind hog in the woods can find an acorn now and then." That's Kenny!

Later I emptied the magazine all within the middle circle of the target. . . "Hmm, must be a few blind hogs walking around."

Saturday was the big day. Before the crowd arrived, it was just me, Kenny, and Bobbie. Kenny was walking along the road leading in to the property, cutting back brush with his huge machete. Bobbie and I went for a walk through the property. Kenny soon joined us. "Oh, wait! Look over there," she said. She had found a Kodak moment!!! There was an old log surrounded by small trees just starting to bloom.

I snapped this picture of them and then it was my turn!

Before long the Pensacola and Andalusia crowd had arrived. There were now 16 of us.

This picture is all of the cousins that were present, lined up from left to right with the youngest to the oldest. The space in the middle is in memory of Paul, who died in 1961.

And here is everyone else.

The above two pictures are why I drive 2200 miles (round trip) every year to attend this reunion. We are an eclectic bunch, with varying perspectives, scattered here and there across the country but we are family and family is important.

Not pictured is Aunt Hazel. She is in failing health and bedridden. Bruce, Debbie, and Richard rented a van so that she could come even though she isn't able to mix and mingle with the rest of us. God bless her.

Our meal that day was my camp dutch oven pot roast.

Debbie had never shot a gun in her life and doesn't know the difference between a revolver or pistol. I decided to fix that. So I put the gun in her hand, showed her how to hold it and how to aim. "Don't put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire and keep the gun pointed 'that way'," I told her. Like I said, we are an eclectic bunch. . . Debbie fired the gun, heaven only knows where that bullet went, but not on the target. She turned to me, holding the gun like it was a dead rat. "Here," she said as she handed it back to me! She then picked up her rod and reel and went fishing in the lake.

I tried my hand at fishing. The last time I had a fishing line in the water, a few of those present were not even born. My line tangled miserably. Should have known better, but I asked Kenny what happened. "Operator error." was his reply.

After a fun day that went by much too fast, we packed up and another reunion was over. Some of us headed over to Rita's in laws' vacation home on a beautiful lake. I'll try to get pictures from there uploaded soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another fantastic reunion with my cousins is now history!

The much anticipated third annual reunion with my cousins on our property in Alabama is now over and it was a most enjoyable day.

Watch for more on this day along with pictures very soon.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A 5K for the Bennett Boys!

My grandsons, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew completed a 5K race yesterday. That's over 3 miles and folks, that's a long way for a little guy of 5 years old. Andrew ran the first 1.6 miles then took a couple of walking breaks.

I'm proud of you boys, and I'm grateful for Jen and John who are raising MY grandkids in a healthy and wholesome environment!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Words of wisdom

This is something we should all read at least once a week.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month..

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."