Thursday, August 23, 2012

We Eat Skeet 'round These Parts

I've been the beneficiary of a couple of firearms over the past few years... mostly older stuff to be sure.  I've spent some time on the range, but I've not taken much time for the scatter gun side of things.  Lucky for me, my Pastor hooked me into a skeet-shootin' gun club romp last Saturday outside of Booneville. 

Might I say, it was the best time I've had in the woods in a very long while.

River Hills Sporting Clays is a short hike west of Columbia and features a wide variety of... 

Well,  I don't know... gun stuff.

I don't know a smidgen about the sport, short of what I watched on YouTube the night before.  Go to the their site and plod around a bit... that's where we went.  Basically, I was told to buy a box of shells, get my guns and go.

And I did.

My take away is that skeet shooting is a lot like golf.  You've got a cart, a course and a number of clays to hit at each shooting site.  And a firearm. What's not to like?

There were seven of us... I brought Jan's Remington 1100 20 gauge from the early 70s and my grandfather's Sears & Roebuck break-action, single shot, also a 20 ga.  Both kicked ridiculously for their size and I was left clutching my shoulder and scanning Midway's site for recoil pads at the end of the day.  It was a great day of gun smoke and Buckingham's BBQ with a chaser of Black Rifle to see what CMMG had to offer.

I'll be back at the traps soon, I'd reckon...

Oh, and the title goes to a story one of our party told about a newbie who, when told she was about to go shoot skeet, asked whether they were any good.  An elderly gentleman replied with a straight face,

"Sure, we eat skeet 'round these parts."

Monday, August 13, 2012

American Medalists Pay Taxes on THEIR MEDAL!

Someone approached me about this issue tonight and I scoffed... 

"Surely not in America," I thought.  

Land of the Free and and the Red, White, & Blue... ticker tape parades and the eternal right to sue.

Et cetera, Et cetera.

So, I went searching and sure enough, they are.  According to an article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, a gold medal is worth about $675, a silver clocks in at $382 and a bronze medal (due to the fact it's, well, mostly copper) runs about $5.  Then there's the $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 honorarium awarded by the U.S. Olympic Committee for the three top slots.  All of that is taxed when April comes around.

Basically, according to the Washington Post, win the Olympics and you fall into the same pot as someone who rocks Jeopardy and takes home the cash.  Both get taxed the same way.

Now, to be fair, the WP is quoting the Americans for Tax Reform blog that is proudly a bit right of center when it comes to supporting gov't taxation.  And the folks who call foul on the ATR and Sen. Marco Rubio's upcoming legislation to nix the tax, make a good point... If we let Olympic athletes off the hook for taxes, then we have to let all "winners" off the hook.  That means whoever won the top prize for PowerBall could claim tax exemption.  I can understand the "where does it stop?" point of view.

But, I still can't believe taxing the MEDAL.  It's the Olympics for cryin' out loud.

Now, if the Ladies Water Polo team get all kinds of payola from some capitalist hawking swimwear or water-proof toenail polish, then, sure, they should pay taxes.  That's the way it works.  In fact, most of these athletes should have a decent tax adviser that's going to clear off any workout/travel expenses for them, so they wouldn't pay anything anyway...

But don't tax the Olympic medal.  That's absurd.

"Make us proud out there, son..."

"Oh, yes sir! I want to do my best so I can help balance the National budget.  One medal at a time, sir!"

"That's right, just like a good American!  You'll get our country of the red in no time!"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

SUZI: A Flour Connection

My dad used to make his own bread.  He would make two loaves every week that would last them until he made the next batch.  He experimented with several different kinds and had a variety of flours in his stash.  My mom recently passed along some half-used bags of various flours that had been a part of his weekly ritual.  There was some whole grain rye that I wanted to work in to my normal recipe, but I have to admit that it took me a while to actually open the bag.  It sat in my pantry for several weeks, but one day I decided it was time to start using it.

I opened the bag, and with measuring cup in hand, I plunged into the rye flour.  As I did, my fingers felt the course texture of the flour, and I realized I was touching the very flour that my dad’s hand had touched almost three years before.  It suddenly felt as if I had put my hand right into my dad’s.  I stood frozen at that counter with my hand half covered with flour, not able to move from my spot.  And, I couldn’t see anything through the tears streaming from my eyes.

Almost three years later, I still think about him every day.  Some days it is still hard for me to comprehend that my dad is gone.  My heart aches that Cooper won’t know him and that he never even got a glimpse of our sweet little boy.

These are the gut-wrenching difficult things of life.  The things that nothing but the sweet presence of the Lord can make better.  It just stinks, people.  It just stinks.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Leftovers Are Not Your Future

Tonight I made some fries for dinner.  It was spur of the moment to go with some fridge cleaning we were doing for supper.  For the record, I also had a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken & smoked Gouda on Suzi's homemade bread.

Quite Delicious.

So, here's my story... You know those fries at the bottom of the box... the ones that are dinky and overly crunchy?  That's what was left on my plate at the end of the meal.  I was absentmindedly reaching for one when I realized there were more, fatter, satisfying fries still in the kitchen... warm and waiting for me to finish them off.

I didn't need to settle for the piddly stuff.  The good stuff was waiting for me to stand up and get it.

Now, it's not often you hear someone wax philosophical about french fries, but I've hooked you so far...  so here goes:

How many times do you settle for the junk at the bottom when you could have had the best... or at least much better?

Did you think you didn't deserve it?  Or worse, were too tired or apathetic to make the effort to reach a little farther?  I don't have to settle for the edges of life.  You don't either.  You can live in the richness of it.  Whether that means cheering from the stands or lunging victoriously across the field depends on your preferred position... but no matter where you are, don't be satisfied with the dregs of the experience.

Suzi's the coffee drinker in our Pack of 3.  She's got Cooper convinced the black stuff is tasty so she can have a drinking buddy.  She'd drink the hard stuff when we were overseas.  The kind with the grounds in the bottom of the cup.  You couldn't swig that stuff down or you'd end up with a mouthful of gunk.  If you wanted more, you'd have to waggle the cup and your host would fill it back up.

Whether you're on a spiritual journey or dealing with the harsh light of physical reality, this week you should drink deeply and then stop. And ask for another cup... don't think for a moment that the grounds are the end of your road.  There's better out there... and more of it to keep you satisfied.

Who knew French fries could be... soul satisfying.