Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wheeler Engineering Universal Bench Block

If you've ever disassembled your firearms much beyond what is necessary for basic cleaning and maintenance, especially when it requires pushing or punching out a pin, or if you've needed to adjust or drift the sights on your gun... you've probably wished you had a third hand and two extra fingers.  You can always use a vise if you're careful not to damage your firearm, but nothing beats the utility of a good bench block.

My first bench block about thirty years ago was a six-inch long piece of two-by-four with a couple of holes drilled in it to punch out pins.  Eventually, I made a nice oak bench block with various holes drilled for punching out pins and a groove I routed into it to set and hold a slide in place while I worked on it.  Well, a couple of years back I picked up the Wheeler Engineering Universal Bench Block.

This bench block is made of a tough, non-marring, non-scratching polymer that has held up well to quite a bit of regular use.

While it has a lot of features designed specifically for working on the 1911... which is good as it seems a smooth running 1911 needs fairly regular maintenance... many of the grooves, holes, and other molded features work well on other firearms that I've worked on such as Ruger, Glock, S&W, and many others.

A good gunsmithing vise is always handy if you have a regular or dedicated workbench, but this handy little bench block can go right into your range bag and be used on the go.

So if you find yourself needing a third hand or driving a pin or punch into the palm of your hand while working on your firearms, you might consider picking up a... Wheeler Engineering Universal Bench Block.

On a side note... blogging might be light this next week or so due to my surgery.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

No man (or woman) is an island...

I'm scheduled for major surgery this next week.  While I don't anticipate any significant problems and I'll only be staying in the hospital for a couple of days, I will have a few weeks of recovery that will leave me physically vulnerable.  I don't care how well prepared you are physically, mentally, financially, spiritually, or even tactically... there will always come a point in time where you can't make it alone... and if you reach that point alone... it's too late to do anything about it.

I don't care how good you are, there are things you can't do or overcome on your own.  It might be age, it might be circumstances, and it might just be bad timing... but at some point you will need other folks... human assets and resources beyond your own capabilities.

You see, I've been a prepper before I ever knew what the term meant... it's just the way a lot of country and farmin' folks are raised, but often folks who want to discuss prepping, survival, self-defense, and related matters typically want to focus on things or themselves rather than on others.  That's one area where many small town and country folks still have an advantage... they already know it's tough to make it on your own and they recognize the importance of others, of friendships, of neighbors, of community.

If you haven't done so already, I want to encourage you to look at your life, your circumstances, your location, and other factors... do you have good, strong friendships, partners, human assets and networks in place?  Let me encourage you to evaluate and strengthen some areas that could prove to be vital, even critical, for when you can't make it on your own.


Are your building your family, or letting it slowly fall into dis-repair?  Some folks have strong immediate and extended families with deep relationships and support, while others couldn't count on their family to show up unless they had a winning lottery ticket they just cashed in.  I'm blessed with a terrific wife who does more for me than I deserve... we are a team, a partnership.  We each have our own strengths and weaknesses... and we compliment each other very well.  I know some guys who treat their trucks better than their wives, but a truck won't have your back during a home invasion or when you can't physically lift yourself out of bed for a couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, we don't have any extended family in the area as the closest are over three hours away.  How strong is your family?  How good are your friends?  How good of a friend are you?


Are you a good neighbor?  Do you have good neighbors?  Do you even know who your neighbors are?  We have good neighbors and we try to be good neighbors.  Those relationships are important to us and some of our best friends are our neighbors.  I'm amazed at a lot of folks in town and especially in the suburbs and cities that barely know the neighbors they live fifty, even five, feet from... yet out here in the country, we know most all our neighbors for a mile 'round.  And that can be especially handy when dealing with two-legged varmints that are dumb enough to come around here.  How are your neighbors?


Are you active in your community?  Do you even have a definable community?  That's an easier question for many small town and country folks to answer than a lot of city dwellers.  Our community is far less fluid than a lot of suburbs, cities, and McMansion-villes.  Communities can offer a lot to folks, especially those who offer something to their community.   How's your community?


Are you building strong networks?  We are blessed with great networks through our school district, community, workplace, 4H, shooting sports, the gun club, fellow shooting instructors, a group of like-minded preppers, and especially our church.  We even have a good network developing in the blogosphere, but that is not always as practical as folks in networks of close geographical proximity.


Quality human assets, or good folks as we call 'em, are probably one of the most valuable things you can develop and obtain.  They are a force multiplier that can not be duplicated by "things".  Good folks are givers... and you need to be a giver too, not a taker.  I think that if you find yourself lacking in human collateral, you may want to consider your role as a giver or a taker... get involved, give of your self and your time... and avoid groups comprised mostly of takers.  That doesn't mean you can't be on the receiving end once in a while, but you'll find that if you're a giver and contributing to others... that will never be a problem.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered,  two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

This may be a topic of little concern to you... but take some time and reflect on your life and your situation... maybe you're focused on paying off all your debt, stocking up more ammunition and firearms than a small country, storing away enough food and supplies to keep you well-cared for until you're a hundred and six years old... or maybe you haven't done a thing, you're hoping 911 works when you dial it... you're too busy with nine traveling sports teams with your kids... you're too rushed to even stop and help a stranger that's lived next door to you for six years...

Just remember this... folks can be your biggest force-multiplier 'cause... I guarantee that someday you'll have to wonder who's got your back...

No man (or woman) is an island...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our First Blogiversary: and we have some winners!

One year ago today, I had just spoken with my dad.  Our time together left in this life was quickly coming to a close... turned out to be less than a month.  When life is having a downhill moment, I've always turned to things that lift me up... my God, Gals, Guns, and Grub.

I had been following quite a few blogs out here in the gun blogosphere for some time.  I decided to give this bloggin' thing a try and through some conversations and great encouragement from some good folks, including the masterful and beautiful word-weaver known as Brigid over at Home on the Range and my ol' buddy Matt who fires fast at Jerking the Trigger... here we are one year later.

As a Christian man... and if you believe otherwise, that's OK with me... I'm instructed in 1st Thessalonians 5:11 to, "encourage one another, and build each other up" and that's what so many of you out there on the web have done for me and my gals, and hopefully... we're doing some of that for you too.

While my passion, profession, and past-time are teaching and instructing... my foundation is one of life-long learning.  The Good Book also tells me in Proverbs 27:17 that "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  You folks, especially those listed on the right-hand side of this blog, encourage and sharpen me and the gals daily.  We greatly appreciate your words and work.

So with that idea of appreciation in mind, the gals and I have used a random number generator to determine a couple of winners in our first Blogiverary Give-Away... so congrats to Elijah from Westminster, Colorado and Scott from Ayersville, Ohio. 

Just shoot me an email in the next forty-eight hours to godgalsgunsgrub (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and tell me a t-shirt size: M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL.  We'll get those sent out to you right away.

A big thanks to all of you who read and follow this blog or our Facebook page... it's Our First Blogiversary: and we have some winners!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Five Bucks: Shootin' Dum-Dums

Sorry to disappoint some folks, but we're not talkin' about shootin' that neanderthal your daughter is dating... nor are we talkin' about shootin' zombies.  Shootin' Dum-Dums is something we've been doing for a long time because it's fun, it's challenging, and you can eat any extra targets when you're done shootin'.

Now before you laugh at this as a game for youngsters, you need to realize that this is a target requiring accuracy and precision.  Those little suckers (pun intended) represent a sub-Minute-Of-Angle (sub-MOA) target at one-hundred yards... and they're not much bigger at closer distances.  While they're a lot of fun to shoot, there's a little surprise when you hit the target dead-center.  So if you're interested in a challenge, here is what you need to do...

Pick up a bag of Dum-Dums at your local wally-world or grocery store.  Swing by the home improvement center or lumber yard to pick up a 3/8" or 1/2" wood dowel rod, and you can either buy a 2" x 2" x 8' piece of pine lumber or find some scrap wood at home.  The wood is to make a simple Dum-Dum target stand.

Cut the 2" x 2" x 8' lumber down to shorter lengths.  Drill some 5/32" diameter holes about 1/2" deep and 2" apart on one side of the 2" x 2" lumber.  These 5/32" diameter holes are where you'll insert the sticks of the Dum-Dums to hold'em while you shoot'em.

Next, drill a 3/8" diameter hole about an inch deep if you bought a 3/8" wood dowel rod or a 1/2" diameter hole for a 1/2" wood dowel rod at each end of the 2" x 2" piece of lumber on the opposite side of where you drilled the holes for the Dum-Dum sticks.  I like to keep my wooden dowel rod "legs" about 18" to 24" in length so the targets are above the ground and any tall grass or weeds.  Also, you can use other materials instead of the wood dowel rods, but just be aware that steel stakes or rods could cause a ricochet.

With the wooden dowel rod "legs" installed, stick your Dum-Dum target stand in the ground out on the range.  Be careful to know what's beyond your target.  Finally, unwrap and stick a Dum-Dum in each 5/32" hole.

Now, you're already to shoot Dum-Dums... and that's when you'll get a surprise we discovered several years back.

It's not exactly tannerite, but when you hit a Dum-Dum dead center, even with a .22 long rifle, it bursts into a small white cloud of... I guess it's powdered sugar for lack of a better or more scientific explanation.

And sometimes when you hit those Dum-Dums, they shatter... smashing and throwing pieces up in the air.  My little gal (if sixteen is still little) did the shooting for these photographs.

Shootin' Dum-Dums can challenge some of your better 4H Shooting Sports kids and those little Dum-Dums can also humble a few tactical professionals and varmint hunters when you set them out at 100 yards.  We've also drilled the 5/32" holes in a two-by-four and just set it on the ground to hold the Dum-Dum targets.

So if your looking for more fun shootin' or you think you're up to a challenge that doesn't involve zombies... try shootin' some Dum-Dums.

Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Guns are the true equalizer...

Over the years, I have have been blessed with the opportunity to literally teach hundreds and hundreds of men, women, boys, and girls from ages four to seventy-eight the fundamentals of gun safety and use, concealed carry, self/home defense, hunting, and competition shooting.  As a long-time, certified NRA and 4H Shooting Sports instructor... I have worked with a wide variety of folks through basic firearms courses, Ohio Concealed Carry courses, Boy Scouts, and 4H along with personal and family training opportunities.

I have seen and trained victims of abuse, rape, and crime who gain back their confidence.  I have witnessed the peace and joy of overcoming fear.  I have watched the building of self-esteem from the satisfaction of good, safe shooting.  I've seen seasoned law enforcement officers and those serving in our military get back to focusing on fundamentals and improving their shooting skills.

Guns can put a hundred-and-two pound gal on equal or better footing than a two-hundred-and-fifty pound attacker.  Guns can also put a smile on the face of someone who might not have much reason to.

We had a young man join us again for a couple of days at Shooting Sports Safety Camp, which was held this past week.  He'll be starting high school this fall while continuing his battle with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that was weakened and left him confined to a wheel chair at a very young age.  It took a lot of strength and determination for him to join us on the range and even hold a gun, but this is one tough young man.

My fellow instructor, Steve, provided the one-on-one instruction, coaching, and assistance while I handled RSO and line coach duties along with our other instructors.  Steve brought his Smith & Wesson M&P 22 for the young man to use.  Those adjustable, M4-style stock guns are not assault rifles, they're just ADA-compliant firearms that can be adjusted for a proper fit for the shooter.

It was a hot and tiring week out on the range, but the results for this young man were the same as they were for everyone... smiles all around... plus some cool refrigerator art to take home.

That's just one more reason why... Guns are the true equalizer...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

So what did YOU do at camp this summer?

It's been a busy week for me and the gals.  A couple of years back some of our fellow 4H Shooting Sports instructors and advisers, Bruce and Cindy, organized and offered a summer Shooting Sports Safety Camp with the assistance of our local gun club, a Friends of the NRA grant, and help from others including some dedicated club members and some fellow instructors, plus the wife and I.

It's a four-day long, day-camp for forty kids between the ages of eight and eighteen.  It includes many of our 4H Shooting Sports kids and others who are interested in learning about gun safety and shooting.  They have the opportunity to choose two tracks for the week... shotgun or pistol/archery.  We have skills levels ranging from never touched a gun to holy smokes, that kid just went twenty-five for twenty-five in that round of skeet.

The shotgun folks get to learn gun safety, all about shotguns, skeet, trap, and five-stand. On day three, we mix it up a bit and run all the kids through some archery and some cowboy action shooting on the cowboy action range where they get some pistol, rifle, and shotgun time.

Between club guns, kids' guns, and instructors' guns.... there was quite a collection of shotguns on hand for the week.  There was even a reloading and muzzle-loading demonstration.

Pistol and archery kids spent time learning pistol shooting with semi-autos and revolvers in the morning, then they moved to the archery range in the afternoon.  Yep, those are my Five Bucks: Balloon Dueling Trees in the background there.  It was a hot week, and forty kids plus another dozen or more instructors and help sure enjoyed the cooking for lunch each day.  A few watermelons skipped dessert and ended up in a lethal force demonstration too.

And every night there were a lot of semi-autos and revolvers and rifles and shotguns to clean and service.  I bet you can guess what I'm doing tonight.

The week ended today with awards, certificates, and some refrigerator art from the range.  A big thank you goes out to the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen Association for hosting the camp and to all the organizers, instructors, and helpers including Bruce, Cindy, Grant, Steve, Jeff, Judi, Britney, Todd, Jack, Richard, Butch, Kaitlin, Beth, Dave, and especially Rick who volunteers many hours fixing, mowing, and keeping the club and ranges in top shape year 'round.

I hope summer is beginning well for all you folks... but nothing is better than seeing smiles on the faces of kids safely shooting guns and... they all have a terrific answer to the inevitable question... So, what did YOU do at camp this summer?

PS: Don't tell the anti-gunners, but I've now instructed or assisted in instructing over one-hundred and fifty youth just this year so far and I can't imagine any of them buying into the anti-gun lies and rhetoric as the years go by.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Blogiversary Give-Away...

This little blog adventure began for me almost a year ago on June 20th.  I've been blessed with some great conversation, excellent discourse, fun interaction, and new friendships along the way...  so I thought I'd give away a couple of God, Gals, Guns, Grub t-shirts to you folks.

They come in any color as long as it's black with the God, Gals, Guns, Grub logotype on the back (above) and the tag line "Learning a little more every day" over the heart on the front.

How it works: (I'm a little new to this give-away rule making stuff.)  

Pick a number between one and one-thousand and head over to our Facebook page to leave your number in a comment on the Facebook post for the give-away (give us a "Like" over there if you want - not required) or put your number in the comments area for this post.  

The rules are simple, please enter only once before 12:01am on June 20th (our blogiversary) and the gals will use a random number generator to pick a number between one and one-thousand.  I'll announce the winners on June 20th, 2012 (our one-year blogiversary) and the two folks who picked numbers closest to the number randomly generated by the gals will each get a t-shirt.  I have one t-shirt available in each size from Medium to 3X.  Check back on June 20th as the winners will need to send me their mailing addresses within 48 hours of the announcing the winners so I can send them to you or the gals will draw another winner.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck with... A Blogiversary Give-Away...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Daughters and a Heritage of Gunpowder and Lead

Today was the first National Take Your Daughter to the Range day so the plans with our 4H Shooting Sports club was the perfect coincidence.  Between our 4H club, 4H camp, and Shooting Camp at our local gun club, my main gal and I work about thirty days each year with our other certified 4H Shooting Sports instructors teaching and training over one-hundred youth ages eight-to-eighteen in four disciplines including rifle, shotgun, pistol, and archery.

Once each year, we move over to the Bullskin Trail Black Powder Club's shooting range for some instruction, training, and shooting fun with a lot of different black powder firearms.  The kids get a chance to learn about the history and heritage of many firearms that helped build this country, also why the second amendment is as important today, as it was two-hundred-plus years ago.

There's even an original log cabin moved from a family's homestead here in the county.  This is a primitive facility as the restroom is up a hill, then the third tree to the left.  You can see some of our 4Her's learning about black powder guns including terms like flintlock, cap and ball, and ramrod.  It's also a lot of fun for them to see where so many sayin's and phrases come from like "flash in the pan", "keep your powder dry", "don't go off half-cocked", "were taking everything... lock, stock, and barrel"... even "bury the hatchet". 

All the folks had an opportunity to do some hatchet or tomahawk throwing 'cause in those pioneering days, once you shot your rifle... the slow reloading meant you better have a back-up plan.

The wife and I spent some time with our daughter shooting (above) and one of our club's first-year members whose mom is also in her first year as a certified instructor posed for a quick photo-op on the range (below).  Start'em young and the apple won't fall far from the tree.

Gunpowder and lead with black powder firearms have real meaning for the kids.  Talkin' about lead balls, powder horns, paper and cloth patches, smooth-bore muskets, rifled muskets, six-shooters... it was all there today.

Modern in-line black powder guns are pretty reliable, even high tech... but the accuracy and thumping boom of a Hawken or Kentucky Rifle is still pretty fierce.  A .54 caliber ball isn't anything to laugh at, whether you're a buffalo, a grizzly bear, or even a two-legged adversary.

Some of those old smoke poles were longer than a few of our shooters were tall.

We even had a one gal's shooting experience turn out to be just a "flash in the pan".

It wasn't just all daughters on the range today, we had a good showing by the guys.

Trigger squeeze, sight alignment, sight picture, breathing... BANG!  Safety and fundamentals still count and there was a lot of lead sent down range today at the targets for practice. It's always fun to watch the confidence of these kids build with each shot.

We have a lot of gals in our 4H Shooting Sports and I've had a lot of gals come through my NRA and Ohio CCW courses over the years... more so in the last few years.  I hope interest from the gals keeps building.

We're very glad to have gone shooting with our daughter on the first National Take your Daughter to the Range day... but in many ways I hope that someday, gals going to the range is such a natural thing, we won't need a special day to remind folks to take our little gals shooting...

Until then, lets just keep using it as an occasion to remember our... Daughters and a Heritage of Gun Powder and Lead.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ruger LCP... a no-excuses, back-up plan

There has been a lot of debate over the years about which caliber or cartridge is best for self-defense, but Jeff Cooper's first rule of gun fighting has never changed: "Have a gun."  According to John Lott, the author or "More Guns, Less Crime" and many other articles and books, his research indicates that on average only a couple of percent of the population who can get a concealed carry permit do so and then only a very small percentage of that small percent with permits carry daily. 

While there are many reasons folks don't carry their gun every day, one of several reasons I have found in talking with family, friends, and students is that the gun is just a lot of weight and bulk to carry and conceal every day... especially on hot, summer days when you don't feel like wearing clothing that makes for easy concealment of a gun.  I would suggest that a quality "pocket pistol" like the Ruger LCP shoots a lot of holes in that excuse.

While many folks consider the 9mm or .38 Special as the minimum caliber for self-defense, I would say that modern .380 ACP cartridges offer at least a minimum level of ballistic punch that most two-legged varmints wouldn't want to tangle with.  The Ruger LCP offers six-plus-one rounds of .380 ACP capacity in a package that is smaller than my wallet on payday, and that is pretty small.

The trigger is double-action only with a long, but smooth and fairly easy trigger pull.  The magazine release button is easy to access and index, and there is a manually activated slide stop, but it doesn't hold the slide open after the last shot so you will have to cycle the action with a quick overhand as part of reloading the pistol.  While the pistol is small, it uses a stiffer spring for recoil management, so some folks with arthritis or weaker hands may find grabbing the slide to cycle the action a bit more difficult than a larger pistol.

For those with larger hands, the Ruger LCP comes with two floor plates for it's magazine.  One floor plate is flat while the other is extended and allows me to get my index finger on the trigger and two fingers fully on the grip, but poor Mr. Pinky still has to dangle in the wind.

Take-down for cleaning and maintenance is easy.  First, always make sure the gun is unloaded and there is no ammunition around.  Then you simply lock the slide back, remove the pin from the left side, slide the slide forward off the metal rails in the polymer frame, and then take out the guide rod/spring and barrel.  Reassembly is just as easy.

Now any review or discussion of the Ruger LCP would probably not be complete without also taking a look at the Kel-Tec 3AT.  Some folks argue that the Ruger LCP is just a copy of the Kel-Tec 3AT and while they are very similar, the overall design of a semi-automatic, locked breech, double action pistol is nothing new.  Additionally, in my view as an owner of both pistols, the Ruger LCP is what the Kel-Tec 3AT should have been with a slide stop, a titanium firing pin, a better extractor, and a much higher quality of fit and finish.

My wife bought me our Kel-Tec 3AT as a present a few years ago.  I couldn't get through a six-round magazine without two or more malfunctions.  I called Kel-Tec and the technician said I should run at least a two-hundred rounds through the gun so the parts have time to "wear in".  After two-hundred-plus rounds, it wasn't much better.  On the second call to Kel-Tec, the technician said I could send it in, but there was a seven to ten week turn-around time due to a backlog of work needing done.  He suggested, if I was comfortable, to use some 1,000-grit sand paper to polish the feedramp and clean up the grooves where the slide rides on the rails.  

I do a fair bit of amateur gunsmithing, so I gave the little Kel-Tec an internal "fluff and buff" and I had much better results, but with over a thousand rounds through that gun, it's still only mostly reliable with FMJ "ball" ammo so I may send it back to Kel-Tec yet.  I've shot several of these Kel-Tec 3AT's and have several friends that have owned this model with similar results, but two friends say Kel-Tec has been good with fixing most issues through their service department.

The Ruger LCP (lower in photo) on the other hand came out of the box and has given the gals and me no problems whatsoever.  For us, the fit and finish, along with the ergonomics, is better then the Kel-Tec 3AT while both guns are pretty accurate, even with their diminutive sights and "snappy" recoil.  I have no trouble putting seven rounds from the LCP into a six-inch Shoot'n-See target at ten yards off-hand, although this gun is best suited for up-close, self-defense work.  Our two little LCP's reliably feed FMJ's, Federal Hydra-Shoks, and Winchester PDX-1's without any problems.  I've purposely tried to slightly limp-wrist this little gun and it still cycles.

Many folks refer to the Ruger LCP as a "pocket pistol" because it does easily fit in your pocket.  I would encourage anyone with a pocket pistol to carry it in holster, preferably a holster with a closed muzzle end if you carry it in your pocket to keep fuzzies and other items in your pocket from finding their way into the barrel.

The Good:  The Ruger LCP is a reliable, quality pistol right out of the box.  It's size and weight eliminate all excuses for not carrying a gun and it works as a terrific back-up gun that can be concealed almost anywhere.  The street price at gun shops is very competitive and affordable.

The Not So Good:  Mostly, my concerns are applicable to the Ruger LCP and most pistols of similar size.  The diminutive sights and short sight radius are not easy to use without practice so don't try to pass this off as a beginners or ladies gun.  The recoil can be a bit "snappy" for some folks preferences and cycling the slide can be difficult for folks with limitations in hand-strength or dexterity.

There are already a lot of reviews out there for the Ruger LCP, so if you need specifications or other detailed information like that, it's easy to find.  We've had almost three years of experience with the Ruger LCP with well over a thousand rounds downrange from the one gun and it has just been a good, reliable firearm.

While I have carried everything from a .357 magnum and 1911 down to a .22 long rifle, my primary carry gun is usually a Ruger SR9 or Ruger SR9c, but in my opinion... you can't go wrong with the... Ruger LCP... a no-excuses, back-up plan.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Our house, in the middle of our street...

Back in the 60s, my folks bought a house about a mile outside a small town.  We were surrounded by farms and fields, there were trees to climb and country roads to be explored.  We built friendships, made memories, added scars and wrinkles.  Homes were open and places to be back then.  It was our base for our adventures, our supply depot, our resting place.
Our house it has a crowd
There's always something happening
And it's usually quite loud
Our mum she's so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down
And a mess is not allowed
Our house, in the middle of our street
~Lyrics from "Our House" by Madness
Maybe it was the lack of central air conditioning, but the doors and windows were open, we came and went, people and neighbors stopped by and were in and out.  There was one telephone and it was fixed to the wall in the kitchen... which I'm not sure in this day and age of cell phones and texting... still isn't such a bad idea.

There was a brick fireplace in the family room where countless family pictures, gatherings, and marshmallow roastings took place.  It kept us warm when we truly learned the need for prepping while the power was out for two weeks during the Blizzard of '78.  It also served as the background for many family photographs, even the first Christmas for my main gal and I about a quarter of a century ago.

My mom still answers the first phone number I ever learned forty-some years ago.  Old photographs hang on the walls... joined by new photos of my daughter, the steps upstairs still creak in the same order, and some of my baseball caps and farm hats are still hanging with work clothes in the basement.  My first dog, Smokey, a black and white mutt from the humane society lived with us for sixteen years in that house. But things have changed.

Over the years those farm fields sprouted houses.  That little town of 2,800 friends and neighbors we lived near swallowed our farms and country living... swelling to almost 35,000 people and strangers.  The lane and a half gravel road leading out our way, where cars and pick-ups had to have two right tires off the side of the road to pass, is now a busy three-lane boulevard.  You can't walk up the road or across the field to shoot anything anymore... no more fence rows to walk and hunt.  It's not the same as when I grew up, but it's still my home in many ways.

It's not been a year since "Pa" passed, and Mom had talked about selling the house and moving down our way to be near family.  Well, mom called last night. A neighbor in the real estate business called her about a family interested in buying her house even though it wasn't listed.  A little back and forth... a price was agreed to... and it's a done deal.  We'll be moving mom down our way in the next few weeks.

I knew it was going to happen eventually, but it still kind of feels like the last chapter of a good book has been written, the cover closed, and it's being put on a shelf to collect dust in the back of my mind.  Unlike my grandfather's farm house where my aunt now lives, this house will no longer be in the family.

What can I say... it was... Our house, in the middle of our street...