07 December 2006

Infamy, history and memory

The MacDill AFB PX (or, I suppose, BX in Air Force Speak) can be a strange place. This time of year, the snowbirds are in for the winter, and it's nigh on impossible to wander around the PX without getting stuck behind a pack of slow-moving retirees. I normally try not to be too bitter about this, figuring that if I'm lucky, I too will be old and slow-moving someday.

Once in a while I step around some codger moving at a glacial pace, and glance back at him only to be amazed.

See, these are old military people. Old war dogs. And you forget about that until you look back at some little old guy who's wearing a Pearl Harbor Survivor cap. Jesus God, I always think. We think of it as history, but for some guys still out there walking around, it's a memory that probably still comes at night.

I had the good fortune to get to visit Pearl Harbor as a side trip of a Marine Corps mission some years ago. It's a beautiful sight, and if you get the opportunity to see it, you should. There's still oil surfacing from the ships, 65 years later. There are still Sailors and Marines in those ships.

And once in a while, out walking around, you run into the boys who made it off the ships. Of course, if you think about it, that wasn't the end of the war for most of them. Some of the ships were raised, and all of the Sailors who could went on to see that war to the end.

On December 7, 1941, they weren't old men, and they weren't yet "the greatest generation." They were just boys, Sailors and Marines, doing Sailor and Marine things (that is, drinking and chasing women).

Remember that with the old folks in the store and the parking lot. You never know. I pass old-folk cars in the parking lot that have WWII stickers and "ex-POW" license plates. I nod at old men in the exchange who have no legs. I get cut off in the commissary line by tiny old ladies who patched up soldiers under barrages of artillery in European mud.

For some of them, it ain't history, it's a memory. Thank them while you still can. And remember that every image you see on tonight's news from Iraq and Afghanistan is a memory for one of our modern warriors. Thank them, too.

06 December 2006

Product Endorsement!

Time to point out another product worth spending your hard-earned money on. Sparky, as many of you know, is a little rough on squeaker toys. OK - very very rough. He usually has them less than 24 hours before he's wrecked the squeaker. At 4-8 bucks a toy, I can't afford to keep up.

But then we found this guy! It's a "black squirrel" from the American Kennel Club "Outdoor Series." I picked it up in Michigan and handed it over within minutes of walking in the door, so he's had it...eleven days. And he's been working on it. And it's STILL squeaking.

Don't tell him, but I think Santa Claws has an AKC Outdoor Series "raccoon" hidden away somewhere...

Buy these AKC toys! They'll squeak until you take them away from your dog and grind them up in your food processor!

Abby and the Hippies

I promised a story about Oregon, didn't I?

Years ago, in the days before Mr. Abby, I had a long distance "thing" with a guy we'll just call the Sailor. He was in the Navy on a ship out of Everett, WA, and I was on Okinawa.

I said it was long-distance.

I was just past 21, and took a week or so of leave in the summer to fly to Washington. There, the Sailor pointed out that he had some hippie friends in Eugene and they'd invited him and me down for some event called the "Oregon Country Fair."

We rode the train from Seattle to Eugene (which was pretty - I recommend it most highly). We met up with the hippies and rode out to the Fair site with them (in their van - I'm not kidding). We'd camp there for a couple of days, the plan went.

Now, a little background about me, particularly at that point in my life. I probably qualify as a "conservative," but it's a stretch. Back in the late 90s, I was distinctly less so. I've never been a "peace and lover" flower-child type, but I'm pretty into everybody just doing their own groovy thing.

I was a little far to the left for most of the Marine Corps (my lack of a Rush Limbaugh quote tattoo on my ass leaves me left of most of the Corps), but I figured I could do the hippie fair thing.

Well, apparently two or three years in God's Beloved Corps had left me a little different than I was before. The hippies were all very nice, but they seemed like freakin' space aliens to me. The clothes were...well, hippie clothes. Not a big deal, I thought. I've got kind of a homeless park ranger thing going on, I can work with that. Well, no, Abby. You might be able to sleep in the dirt in your clothes for a couple days, but the Marine Corps has done something to your posture...

This was the hard part. I found that no matter where in this whole place I was, I felt like a damn federal agent or something. I could NOT find a suitable "hippie pose." I had very few just-standing-around poses in my inventory then, and they went something like this:

A - standing with my feet shoulder width apart and arms folded.
B - standing with my feet shoulder width apart and hands behind me
C - standing at the position of attention (feet together) with my hands in my pockets

That was about it. And I think they all went with a disapproving scowl. I felt like a fed, and the hippies looked at me like I was a fed.

So it was an uncomfortable couple of days. I'm not into pot, and if there's no marching, I'm not into drums. I don't get giant puppets on stilts, and I cannot function somewhere where there is no meat available in the food for sale. I finally managed to find beer, but it was some sort of homemade ginger atrocity that not even a young Marine on leave could choke down.

The only highlight was in the grounds itself. It's a beautiful location, and with any group slightly less over the top than the hippies, I think it would have been fabulous. They had the most wonderful communal showers I've ever visited (raised wooden decking, open air at the top, good pressure, warm, etc). The only downside was that it was co-ed communal showering with hippies.

Now if it had been co-ed communal showering with Marines, it would have been great. As it was, one naked experience with hairy, pudgy friendly people my parents' age and older was plenty. More than plenty, in fact.

So that was the Abby and Hippies in Oregon story. In the end, the Sailor and I parted ways on distinctly less-than-friendly terms, and I haven't been back to Oregon since then.

But if you're in the market for a big ol' Hippie Fair Good Time, the link to their site is below. Enjoy. And don't forget your shower shoes.

OK - I can't make the link work, so you'll just have to cut-and-paste.


OOh! Another map!

And I got to do a worldwide one, too! I had to check "China" because...well, Hong Kong is a part of China.

Man, I look at THIS map and think, "what a lot of places yet to see..."

create your own visited country map
or check our Venice travel guide

I'd LIKE to do a trip through Europe someday. I'd also like to do Africa, but THAT will wait until someday when I'm not burned out on "roughing it."

Places I done been

I thought this was a fun little tool. The red states are the ones I've washed up in or wandered through at some point or another. I find it hard to believe I've never passed through Vermont or New Hampshire, but I couldn't remember, so I didn't opt for either.

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide


You know, looking at that reminds me a trip to Oregon some years ago. That's a good story. Perhaps later tonight I'll make a pot of coffee and share it with y'all.

05 December 2006


FedEx...let me COUNT the ways I curse you.

I engaged in a long drawn out email exchange with FedEx about my package's Tour of Florida. This involved answering questions like "what does the package look like?" Answer: "I don't know, because it's in WEST PALM BEACH!"

So finally it gets over here, and it's "On Truck for Delivery." Now, I have to go do some shopping this evening, so I clicked on the site one more time.

"Customer not available or business closed, 1445."

WHAT??? I have been here ALL AFTERNOON! I recently took a shower, but I have Bad Dogs in the house. They'd have barked. I went outside and poked around. Nada. No FedEx slip. Were they even here? I dunno - I watched the truck cruise up and down the road earlier this afternoon. Perhaps the CLEARLY PRINTED NUMBER on my mailbox confused them and they tried to delivery my crap somewhere else.

This is starting to make me CRANKY.

Oh well, I've other things to do today. Like some hard core KWANZAA SHOPPING.

04 December 2006


Yep. I keep A List. I'm that kind of gal. It's a loooong list, too. It could be titled "enemies of the realm," or "people who've pissed Abby off," or even "those entities which need to be whacked upside the head with a bat."

And today, Federal Express is On The List.

I ordered some crap. And it shipped from LOUISIANA on 29 NOV. Now, we are talking FedEx "Home Delivery," so it's not like it was going to be here the afternoon of the 30th.

But I have absolutely NO LIFE, so I've been clicking on the tracking page. Estimated delivery date, it said, 2 DEC. Cool. Home Delivery happens on Saturdays, so I was down with that.

Hmm...Saturday comes. I click on the tracking page. Last entry? "Departed FEDEX location," which was Orlando, at 2145 on the 1st. Cool, I thought.

Saturday stretched on...no package. Hmmm... clicked on the tracking page. The only thing that had changed was...no estimated delivery date anymore? Grrrr....

Still, I figured, it would show up early Monday. It's FedEx. They're good. It's a busy time of year.

So it's Monday. No package. Hmmm... clicked on the tracking page. Still no delivery date, but a new piece of tracking info.

"In transit," it said. "West Palm Beach, Florida."


So I'm annoyed. Is it anything super-important? No - just a couple little things for Kwanzaa and a little toy for me. But still. I'm bitter. Very bitter. And FedEx is On The List.

03 December 2006

Home Run

Mmmm...venison tenderloin. I just hit one out of the park.

When I came back south, I brought along most of a doe that Carl had shot while I was up north. Yes - I took pity venison. I can live with that.

I'd carefully separated the tenderloins when we cut the deer up. I stashed them in a corner of the freezer till Mr. Abby was out of the area. Then I got to work.

First - thawed the tenderloins. Once thawed, I salted and peppered both sides.

Then I fired up my small skillet with olive oil, crushed garlic and mushrooms. Once that got sizzling, I dumped in the rest of a bottle of red wine and a little balsamic vinegar. I cooked this, then dumped some sage in after a sniff. I then ignored it and let it simmer down.

Then I fired up the stove under my heaviest skillet. I let it get hot. Very hot. Then I dropped in the tenderloins. 90 seconds on each side. Did NOT touch them while they were searing.

After those 3 minutes, I pulled out the tenderloins. I gave them some mushrooms and sauce.

Oh so good...I prefer my meat rare, and so it was FABULOUS.

I'd like to work more on the sauce. I think next time I'll add some beef broth and cut back on the wine a little. And perhaps some salt. Normally, I'd make the sauce in the pan the meat was seared in, but venison is so lean there'd be little to gain.

Anyway...if only deer came with more of those yummy little tenderloins. Good stuff.


It's almost Christmas, and I am one happy camper about that. Contrary to the belief of one family member who recently called me "Scrooge" after I bitched about the Christmas-music blitz I endured on my drive south, I LOVE this time of year.

This year, Mr. Abby and I will pack up the Bad Dogs and head north for a Big Ol' Family Christmas at Bad Dogs (North). My stepkids will fly in, and it will be a hoot.

I love being home for Christmas. I'd low-crawl through a hail of machine gun fire to be home for Christmas. I've spent...four?...Christmases away from friends and family (boot camp, Okinawa, Okinawa, Iraq). That's enough. I can do it - but if I don't have to, I don't wanna.

We did one Christmas down here with my folks camping in the back yard and the kids and dogs. Not. Enough. Room. It works better up north. Plus there's snow, and the rest of the Bad Dog Family.

We have to pick our priorities, and I've decided this is one of mine. I have a close family and I enjoy them. I don't want to miss the opportunity to engage in all our weird, non-religious Christmas rituals. It gives me great joy to watch my whole family sitting around, eating snacks and opening presents. It gives me great joy to sit down for too much food at a family Christmas dinner. It reminds me why I've been doing the things I've been doing since I became an adult.

THAT is worth defending, and it is worth driving across the country for.

So this year, we'll have pretty much the whole Pack up home (except Cousin Ruth - communist). There will be Too Much Traffic at my parents' house. They will have put up a tree that is Too Big. We will eat Too Much Food and Too Many Cookies. The dogs will race around and chase Hobbes under the tree. I will mislabel packages and erroneously give Mr. Abby's underwear to Mom.

It will be fabulous. I can't wait.

Range Time!!!

Packed up my little uber-tactical "range purse" and headed off to do some shooting this afternoon. I've been recently, but had one of those "crummy" range days (just couldn't get comfy, inconsistent, etc etc).

Today, however, was a STELLAR range day.

I bought a new pistol a few months ago. I shall post a picture so you may all drool before I continue.

OK. Stop drooling. You'll mar the finish. :)

It's a 1911-style .45 auto. I love this design - the single-stack magazine makes it perfect for my hands (it's a lot slimmer that the grip on many of the newer-style big automatics).

Anyway, I've been religously putting 150-300 rounds a week through it. My pistolwork is improving, too. I normally shoot one, big, ragged hole out to about 20 yards, at which point I shoot a cluster of little holes. I haven't put a round outside the 5-zone (the part of the target designated as sure 'nuff dead) in months. Until today, but that was only one and I was firing with just my left (weak) hand.

I'll stop bragging now. I just love my Warrior, and I love to shoot it. I love very best to shoot it well.