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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's a Cat's Life

So, as I was sitting here pondering ideas for a post, I looked down at the big, gray, snoring, twitching fuzzball to my immediate right.   And I mean - IMMEDIATE.  He has to be touching my leg, even though he is curled in a ball for one of his many daily naps.   Yep, Bandit.   So, why not a post about the world's most spoiled cat?

Bandit is the third feline to grace our household.  Harley was the first- a big ol' Maine Coon that was the smartest animal I have ever been around.  I had him for about 8 years before Big T and Shadow came into the family.   Shadow was just a happy coincidence about six weeks before we got married.  She was found under the porch of our first house, and I couldn't get rid of her.   Thankfully Harley was the best big bro cat and tolerated her kitten ways.

Bandit was  a pseudo-stray.  We were actually at a nursing home to pick up an adult stray when a car pulled up.   We assumed that the driver was putting this gray kitten out, and of course, Big T went to investigate.  Some conversation later and we were heading to my parents' house with two cats.  The older one was left in the barn, and the younger one was deemed our niece's cat that would live with us.   She named him Bandit to go along with our "motorcycle" themed feline trend.

 He was a tiny three pounds when we took him to the vet but otherwise healthy. 

I firmly believe that Shadow never really forgave us for bringing this pest into her otherwise peaceful life. He explored everything. Even where he didn't belong.   Or fit.
Lots of jumping involved to make it on top of the kitchen cabinets!

I know I filed that catnip in here somewhere.

I fit in here, I know I do.

Yep, I think this is a great location for the linen cupboard. Blanket please.

Now that he is an only kitty, he spends most of his day watching the wildlife in the backyard.
This is his squirrel watching pose.

Or napping.  Or getting ready to nap.  Or just waking up from a nap.

He still has a lot of kitty in him, and he likes to chase and fetch a ball, much like Harley did.  Not sure how he survived this awfully mean trick.

He is good to keep you company when you are working on the computer.

Mouse?  What mouse?

Oh, did you want to use this desk space?

Like most felines, he is territorial.  It is ALL his territory. 

My bench looking out my window
My rocking chair

My couch
Unlike most felines, he gets dressed up.
My first Halloween.  I hate you people for this. Aloha.
My first Christmas.  Ho. Ho. Ho.

He is not picky; he is willing to be spoiled by either of us. But Big T spoils him more than I do.

It's a thousand wonders that he knows how to walk as much as he is carried.

Kitty selfie!

 And we have times that are just weird funny strange, like this time that the weather was getting pretty nasty and he was watching the radar go around and around.  Scary.

James Spann is my hero.

And sometimes he is just......solemnly feline.


 And, well, he can be more entertaining than an Avengers or Harry Potter movie marathon.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Right Royal Night at LRG

For our date night, Big T and I signed up for a Primitive Archery class at Last Resort Guns, a local range right down the road.  Big T goes there to practice sometimes, and he also teaches the NRA Beginner’s Handgun class there occasionally.  Russ Durling, the CEO, was our instructor.  Russ is retired RAF and has a wonderful sense of humor.  He is also quite knowledgeable about bows (and weapons in general).  Plus, I must note that he has a lovely British accent.

The goal of the class was to make a longbow and three arrows and then learn to use them.  For information regarding the English longbow from Wikipedia, click here.

Our class was comprised of six students.  Besides the two of us, there was a mum and her two daughters and another lady.   We began by choosing the colors of our bow string, fletches, and nocks.  Fletches are the feathers for the arrows, and nocks are the pieces on the end of the arrow that notch into the bow string.  My fletches were blue-white-blue, my nocks were yellow, and the bowstring was black.

 Our first task was to make our arrows.  We were given dowels that had been “sharpened” sort of, on each end, but not to a point.   Using an ancient secret adhesive, Super Glue, we first attached the nocks to each arrow on the more pointy end.   

Then using the same ancient adhesive, we attached the pointers on the other end and gently tapped them with a hammer.
My most challenging part was next – attaching the fletches.  Using two popsicle sticks to hold the fletch, we added three small dots of the glue on the rib of the fletch and then placed it on the arrow, lining up with the little bump on the nock.   

 After we had one fletch on each arrow, then a guide was used to mark two more spots 120 degrees apart so that the fletches were equally spaced on the arrow.  After all of the fletches were glued on, then we ran a bead of glue down each one to make them stay put.  Then we set the arrows aside to dry completely while we worked on the bows.
We were all issued two pieces of bamboo, for the bow and the backer.  First we sanded them so that they had smooth edges on the side so that we didn’t get any splinters and so that our bowstrings wouldn’t be cut by a jagged edge in the notches.   

 Next we found the center of both pieces and lined up the centers and tied the two pieces together with leather string on each end with a flat knot.  
Now we had to choose a piece of leather about 5”x8” to wrap around the middle for our grip.  This was also secured with a longer piece of leather lace.    

And to make it very secure, two more leather laces were added between the grip and the other tie points.   Then we added a highly technical piece, a coffee stirrer,(see above) as an arrow rest. 
Lastly, we added the bowstrings.  First we made a loop and attached one end, then Russ showed us how to determine the length by placing the bow between his feet and behind his left knee. He then bent it to an arch to where the bow string would be approx. 13” from the arch.  

 Then the string was looped for the other end.   And tada – our bows were finished!
We are now ready to go to the range and put them to use. 
Big T had a huge advantage over me, as that he has used a bow before when bow-hunting. You can see here that he has a good stance.
  I had never even picked a bow up that I could remember, but with some good instruction,  I was able to hit the target after a few tries at the 5 yard mark.   I didn’t realize that you are supposed to hold the bow at a 10 degree angle; I always thought that it was held straight up and down.  I also learned that the more I thought about the shot, the worse it was.   I did have to keep reminding myself:  “Elbow down”, “thumb on cheek”, and “breathe”.   At one point, I was running through scenes from “Princess Diaries 2”, “Hunger Games”,  and “Lord of the Rings” in my mind, trying to figure out what to do to correct my shots.  I was glad that my shooting wasn't determining my fate or my dinner.

 Russ decided that he would challenge us a little and moved my target and Big T’s target to a distance of 15-20 yards.  I personally believe he over-estimated my skills, but after a few shots at that distance, he put up new targets.  My first shot was a bullseye!  

I freaked out!   Of course, I couldn’t repeat that.  But it was still cool. 

For our last couple of rounds, he let us choose zombie or alien targets.  I got an alien target.   On the very last round, I was able to get three arrows to stay in the target instead of go through it for a very funny picture.   Yay!!

Southbound with the Hammer Down - Turner Travels - Day 7

 When Big T finished his competition, we loaded up the Toyota with his gear, fueled up and headed south.  
Illinois in the rear view mirror

Once again, we did a bit of "shunpiking" and saw some noteworthy sights.   We saw so many homes flying the Stars & Stripes that I had to get one shot just to give them all a shout out.  It was encouraging to see the patriotic love for our country everywhere we went.

I knew that there was a barn quilt trail in Tennessee, but I didn't know there was one in Illinois too.
This one also reminds me of a favorite cousin.

I was on the lookout for old signs painted on brick buildings, but they were few and far between.

This church just had some neat looking windows.  Unfortunately I was shooting from the passenger seat at the red light, so I don't feel that I did them justice.

And yes, we got our kicks on Route 66, for about a minute and a half.

No, we didn't get lost and go to DC.  This is a picture of the Mount Vernon, IL version of the Washington Monument.

As you can see, it was beginning to get dark, and so ended the sight-seeing for this trip.  Plus, we were back on boring ol' interstates.   When you get the chance, travel the backroads.  You never know what you will see!