Out with a Bang

The year, that would be.  Out with a bang.  Shot right through the brain.

Polly scores a hit ... on the bracket holding the target

This Christmas we added a compact 9mm pistol to our arsenal, so Polly and I took it and its big brother (a .357 revolver) to an indoor range this morning.  I wanted to get the feel of the new pistol, and thought Polly would enjoy some rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ too.

One of the things I truly miss about the military is small arms training.  Pilots in my day were required to carry pistols on combat missions (post-9/11, I suppose USAF aircrews carry pistols every time they fly).  Because we carried pistols we were required to take small arms training every couple of years.  The training was always a welcome and fun break: an hour’s worth of academics followed by another hour on the range, firing 50-100 rounds at paper targets.  I loved that, and nearly always scored expert.

Polly and I had a ball this morning.  We fired both pistols, taking turns on each, and I taught Polly how to load and unload both weapons.  She squeezed off only one errant round, hitting the red metal bracket holding up the target.  She’d loaded three rounds into the revolver and had clicked the cylinder in place with an empty chamber at the top … she expected to get just a click on the first pull, and she did, but when she dropped the hammer on a live round right after, she hadn’t really aimed the thing yet.  All her other shots hit the target on the body and head.  I’m happy to say I put all my shots into the target’s head.

We carried our guns and ammo to the range in an old Trader Joe’s shopping bag.  Polly was embarrassed, but I reminded her that you don’t want to look rich at these venues, lest someone follow you home.  When we did get home I taught myself how to disassemble and reassemble the 9mm, and the two of us sat at the dining room table and cleaned both guns.  Armed & dangerous, that’s us.  And clean.


Monday I worked on my motorcycle at my friend Ed’s garage, and we decided to ride our bikes to Patagonia for lunch on Thursday.  It couldn’t have been a nicer day for a ride.  We headed down Highway 83 to Sonoita, then took 82 west to Patagonia.  After a couple of slices of pizza at the Velvet Elvis, we continued west to Nogales, then back to Tucson on I-19, nearly 200 miles in all.

The Border Patrol has set up a permanent immigration checkpoint on I-19 between Nogales and Tubac.  It’s not supposed to be permanent, so they maintain the illusion of temporality by using trailers instead of buildings, traffic cones instead of barriers, lights running off portable generators rather than shore power, and a canvas-covered awning for shade.  The agents were mucho serioso Thursday, walking drug dogs around every car and truck, opening doors and trunk lids.  They normally wave motorcyclists through, but not this day: not only did they play 20 questions with Ed, the dog alerted on the back of his motorcycle.  Much opening and sniffing of saddlebags ensued.  I was dying to take a photo but knew better … had I tried to go for my camera they’d have shot us both dead.

About 20 miles north of the checkpoint I stopped at an emergency pull-off to take a photo of a hill covered in saguaro cactus.  We’d driven past that hill a few weeks ago with a friend from Australia who wanted to take a photo of it but couldn’t get his camera out in time (I was doing 80).  Here was my chance to make it up to him.  Just as I picked up my camera a hawk alighted on a fence post.  I wish I could say it photobombed my shot, but the fact is I saw the hawk as I picked up the camera and made sure it was in the frame when I clicked the shutter.  Here she is:

The almost-photobombing hawk


So what’s cookin’ these days?  Yesterday I made another double batch of Dad’s clam chowder for Donna to share with her co-workers at the gun shop.  Earlier in the afternoon we went to the fancy yuppie grocery store to get the ingredients, and while we were there I stocked up what I’ll need for boeuf bourguignon, which I plan to prepare on New Year’s Day.  I’ll be using the 7 1/2 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven I gave Donna for Christmas, and finally, for the first time ever, cracking open the copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I gave Donna three Christmases back.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, dear friends.  If I don’t fall asleep and burn it up in the oven like the girl in the movie, I’ll blog about it at Crouton’s Kitchen.

© 2011, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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