NOT KILLING THE PHEASANT – Marilyn Armstrong

We had a rifle. It was my first husband’s rifle. It took just one bullet at a time since it was really a competition rifle. It wasn’t intended to do anything but hit targets. Paper targets.

It was a very pretty gun, though and my son still has it. He keeps it clean and oiled, but I don’t think it has been loaded in more than 20 year. Maybe more.

One of my last photos developed in the darkroom, the wood-stove in the camp in Maine

We used to take that rifle with us up to Maine where we went camping. We didn’t build the site. It belonged to a friend of my husband’s parents. It was a big, open one room cabin with six beds stacked up on one wall with ladders to get to the upper ones.

There was an old Home Atlantic wood stove that was the absolutely easiest and most effective wood stove I’ve ever used. There was a gas range and gas lamps. No electricity when we were there, though it did arrive later and along with it, came pollution as people emptied their washing machines into the lake. All that grey water ended up killing many of the large mouthed bass and driving away the loons.

But this was before electricity, when everyone lived quietly without loud music and no washing machines. We did have a weather radio that ran on batteries.

One day, it was time to “go hunting.” This meant taking the rifle and a handful of bullets. Nailing a paper plate to a fir-tree, then killing the paper plate. And there we were, killing that plate deader than dead.

Along came the pheasant. He walked slowly up to the tree where we had nailed the target plate. He stood there. And waited.

A long argument ensued. Should we shoot the pheasant? We could eat it, right? Except no one had any idea how to clean a pheasant. Or even pluck one. And what if we shot it, but it didn’t die? Would someone be willing to shoot it again?

No one was willing to shoot it in the first place, much less twice.

My version of caged birds

Another long consultation. After which, we all got together and virtually pushed the stupid pheasant into the woods. He didn’t want to go. For some reason — you’d have to ask the pheasant what he was thinking — he wanted to hang out with us. We were, apparently, more interesting than his usual crowd.

When finally we convinced him to go away and please, don’t come back, we packed up the gun, gave up on targets, picked a few more blueberries and had fresh corn and blueberry pancakes for dinner.

No pheasant that night — or any other night. Just not our thing.

And this is why arming teachers to shoot the guys with assault weapons is such an incredibly stupid idea. I bet none of the teachers could shoot the pheasant either.

See it on Sue Vincent’s site!

COMPUTERS, SOFTWARE, GUNS, AND US: NOT A RANT, JUST A RAMBLE

Yesterday, I tried to download a book from my Audible.com library and got a message telling me I didn’t have adequate permission.

I’ve been an Audible member since 2002 and I’m pretty sure I have more than adequate permissions. I tried what I thought I knew, then gave up and called Audible. Which is not as horrific as, for example, having to call Dell. I think I’d rather have a root canal than have to deal with Dell service people. The folks at Audible are nice. Helpful. Mostly knowledgeable. Pleasant and patient. Which is good because when my computer is playing up, I transform into a very cranky old person. I depend on my computer. I expect it to just do its job, without complaint. Without hesitation and without any special massaging. I don’t burn incense to it as I used to with some of my more persnickety machines through the years.

72-alien-two-blue-tools-10212016_07

We went through every menu and fixed permissions. Edited the registry. Nope, permission still denied. Which was when I realized that the application denying permission was actually Chrome, not Windows or my operating system. Good news? I wouldn’t need to call Dell. Bad news? What are the odds of actually getting a person to talk to at Google?

But my new friend at Audible had a secret weapon. He gave me the tech support direct line for Google! How cool is that? I was dubious, but I finally womaned up and called them.

Two dogs and a computer
Two dogs and a computer

They answered. It was human, not a robot. We got it fixed. Something had corrupted between when I signed off last night — well after midnight — and when I arose in the late hours of the day and signed on. This confirms my belief that our dogs secretly have opposable thumbs. They do stuff on the computers while we sleep. How else can a perfectly good browser go bad while nothing is happening? It’s got to be the dogs. J’accuse!


One of the many conversations Garry and I had yesterday had to do with weapons and shooting people to protect ourselves or others. He said he might not be able to kill anyone unless they threatened me. Then, all bets were off. I said I was afraid, unfamiliar as I am with guns except for the 22 mm target rifle I used to slay paper plates almost 50 years ago. On vacation in Maine. Even then, I didn’t load the rifle or clean it. Someone just handed it to me, loaded and cocked, said “Hold it this way” and I shot the crap out of that paper plate. It never stood a chance against my wrath.

That same long ago day in Maine, as my friends and I were passing the rifle around, shooting those paper plates (which we had tacked to an understanding pine tree) … a pheasant wandered by, and decided to hang around awhile. He wasn’t impressed with our fire power. He just stood there, in front of the tree, looking at us.

pheasant

An argument broke out. Who would shoot the pheasant? What if we shot him, but he didn’t die? Who was going to shoot him again? Who would pull out the feathers and what else did you need to do to make that pheasant into a meal? Eventually, we just shooed him away. Mighty hunters we were not.

Given that little piece of history, I have no reason to believe in my ability to kill anything. For any reason. If I started to think, by the time my brain registered the need for haste, I’d be dead. Unless that other part of me kicked in, that “emergency response unit” that seems to pop up only on an “as needed” basis. At which point all my thought processes stop and I just do whatever I need to do to survive. That could happen, right? But I wouldn’t count on it.

Garry has at least had the benefit of having gone through basic training in the Marine Corps. Once, a long time ago, he could take his weapon apart and put it back together with his eyes closed. Not that we have such a weapon, but at least he has — somewhere in memory — a fundamental familiarity with a weapon.

Lucky that we’ve never been tested, eh?