Today I see the world from a new perspective – yesterday was my 55th birthday.
I’ve been really worried lately, times are hard, things seem to be getting worse. Prices are going up on everything, taxes are going up, Obamacare has made medical care harder and more expensive to get. As if on cue, tools and appliances I’ve depended on for years have been breaking, necessitating spending at a time when money is really tight.
Yesterday I finally had sort of an epiphany – everything is going to be fine. I’m going to take Alfred E. Neuman’s advice, and stop worrying so much. I’ve being reacting – that means, being a reactionary. It’s time to start acting.
So I asked my husband to take me shooting. You know, with a gun. I wanted to get comfortable with guns again because I think it’s stupid to expect other people to protect you.
Of course I’ve shot before. I grew up in Glenn County, where the sheriff or CHP will tell you, “I can’t be here for at least 20 minutes, you better have something.”
Hunting was a way of life when I was a kid, and people carried shotguns in their pick-up trucks, kept them on racks on the living room wall, or if they were rich people with really nice or antique guns, they kept them in a case to keep the dust off them. My family kept our guns in the spice cabinet next to the kitchen stove, and my uncle had a few in his closet. Later my grandparents kept them propped next to their bed. As children my mother and her brother had their own guns. We didn’t have hand-guns – even my grandma could shoulder a shotgun, and everybody around the Butte City 4 Corners knew they better damn well call before they show up at my grandparents’ house after dark.
In the middle of the night, our “next door” neighbor John Burrows would call my grandpa on our phone – which was rigged with one of those ringers you could hear out back in the orchard – “Andy, I just seen somebody headed for the slough…(a wild swamp area between our two houses)” And my gramps would put his boots and jacket on over his pajamas, grab the gun, and grumble his way out the back door. Of course we’d all be awake and following his every step, Gram toting her own shotgun to watch silent and deadly from the back stoop. She was a sight People – her teeth were sitting safely in a glass in the bathroom, and her hair was pinned up under a do-rag. She’d have a pair of Gramp’s boots on, and an old shirt pulled over her nightgown, and if she couldn’t find her glasses, well, we just hoped she’d recognize Gramp when he came stumbling in through the truck garden.
“Got-damn Burrows, thought he saw something again!” he’d curse as he came back in. But once we heard a shot, and we all sat in cold sweat. Burrows had thought he’d seem something, and it was Gramps, and luckily Burrows was a crappy shot. “Got-damn Burrows!”
Well, when I took my husband out to the place to spend the night while my gram was still alive, I took him on an after-dinner stroll down the ditch bank, and what did we find just the other side of the slough, but a man standing watch over a load of nuts with a shot gun. He told us nut thefts are bad out there, and what could law enforcement do about it? Yes, during nut harvest, a smart farmer gets himself a shotgun and a pot of coffee and sits in wait in his orchard at night. It’s fun, you can shoot rats on the ditch bank as long as there’s no cars coming.
Yeah, what can law enforcement do, but stand around waiting for crimes to be committed and then hold up their hands and say they don’t have enough man-power to do anything about it?
Annie, get your gun.
My husband’s father hunted as a child and took my husband hunting. So, when my kids were old enough, we sent them to the gun safety course at the Search and Rescue facility south of town. They had to read a lot of material, take chapter tests, and then a similar, hour and a half long written exam proctored by Search and Rescue members. They were just learning to read, it was a great experience for both of them. It required them to sit quietly and work in a room full of people for an hour and a half – I think that shows focus. They both passed with high scores.
We have hand-guns because we go into the wilderness and most law enforcement people will tell you it’s a good idea to carry protection. When we were annoyed by a 300 pound black bear at a campground near Lassen, the two lady rangers who came around the next morning expressed surprise that we were not armed. Stanley was not a particularly aggressive bear they said, “yet”. They’d had a lot of problems with him, and that meant he wasn’t scared of people anymore. He came into our tent site, started sniffing at our tent, and even when we threw stuff at him he wouldn’t go. We’d got rid of him, finally, when our friend slipped into the car and started honking the horn. Both of those ranger ladies where strapping .45’s – two little housewife looking ladies, the only thing on their bodies that were bigger than those guns were their butts.
We have some friends who have a range on their remote property – a clear cut with a giant dirt mound along one hillside. The ground is littered with years and years of casings, broken glass and bits of clay pigeons. We used festive paper cake plates nailed to the front of the mound, easy to see if you hit the target.
I’m small and light-boned, I’ve had arthritis, officially, for about three years. I was afraid, since I hadn’t shot a gun in years, that it would hurt. So we started with the .22. My husband makes us wear earphones, cause it’s actually quite loud. But, it was “child’s play” to shoot, hardly any recoil. From 30 feet out, I was able to hit that little paper plate twice in 11 shots. I kept my general cluster right around the rim, you could see the dirt flying. It was gratifying – I just don’t want to be afraid, and now I think I can manage.
I won’t be packing around my hood, though. Too dangerous. In your neighborhood it’s better to be packing a club of some sort. I like a broom, my husband prefers an aluminum baseball bat. Of course we have the dogs. Oh Lord, after what we did to a rat that tried to get in our garage, I pity the motherfucker who comes snooping around my house in the middle of the night.
Crime, I’m about to take a bite out of you.