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  2. Agree again, except it would seem better to just take that sentence out of the SHB and save all this interpersonal crap. Like you said, words are important. A person should be able to quote from the SHB's descriptions ( like me--absent offering any of their own slant or interpretation), without such an uproar. I suspect the original intent of the sentence was inclusive, rather than exclusive. They didn't say CAS is neither. They said it is a combo of both. Again, I didn't write it and I don't necessarily agree with it or care. But briefly pointing it out, without interpretation shouldn't have been the source of such a firestorm. If folks don't like it, and think the word "reenactment" has misdirection connotations, then be my guest, remove it. I'm kinda tired of being drawn into arguing about nothing.
  3. Thanks. I guess my way it would be more like an onion cobbler.
  4. While Vidalias may vary somewhat from farm to farm and season, if they say Vidalia on the label they better be from Gawja! https://www.exploregeorgia.org/blog/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-vidalia-onions
  5. John if you saw my work, you would never accuse me of being professional.
  6. My brothers and their families bought me one that was cased and engraved from a dealer for some family related work that I did for 4 years. I can't remember the Colt engraver without looking it up but I think that my gun was made in 1863. Horace
  7. I see “Vidalia Onions” often, even at Costco. That's why I don’t think they are really Vidalia. More Vidalia are sold than were produced.
  8. Linn Keller 3-22-13 Sarah sat two pies on the Brigade's long table and straightened. It was shortly before supper and she knew her good home baked pies would be welcome. She also knew she had business with Mr. Llewellyn, and she knew the smell of good pie would bring the man a-floating through the air, drawn along nose-first with a dreamy smile on his face. Llewellyn didn't come into the kitchen in quite that manner: instead, he walked in with his fellows, laughing, wiping his hand as best he could; Sarah saw his sleeves were turned up and wet in spots and she knew he'd just washed up for supper. She also looked at the heavy plaster encasing most of his right hand. The Brigade saw Sarah standing by the table: rough, loud and moderately profane good-fellowship turned instantly into respectful and decorous language, the Brigade swarmed around Sarah, inquiring as to her health and well-being, stating the attractive nature of her hair and her attire, and informing Llewellyn that he really should hurry up and marry this lass, for if she kept them supplied with pies, she was a firehouse wife of great value. "Supper is not quite ready," Sarah said with a half-smile, and her expression wasn't the usual bright and cheerful they were used to seeing: she slipped a hand around Llewellyn's arm and murmured, "A word, good sir?" -- and the pair walked the short distance to the middle of the apparatus bay. Sarah reached down and picked up Llewellyn's right hand, feeling the weight of the plaster, looked up at the discomfort in his eyes, knowing the discomfort was because he saw himself as diminished or weakened in his fiancee's eyes, and not due to physical pain from his injury. "How bad?" Sarah whispered "No' bad." Llewellyn reddened a little, looking away. Sarah laid a warm, gentle hand on the man's clean-shaven cheek, feeling the little stubble there: "Why did you do it?" Llewellyn's jaw hardened: Sarah felt the change in the man, felt the muscles bulge under her palm. "I'll tell ye why," the German Irishman called, sauntering casually toward the two. "Miss Sarah, ol' Froggy said things to Lew here" -- he clapped a hand on Llewellyn's left shoulder, looking approvingly at his fellow -- "he said things that would make a chipmunk fight. Called him anything but decent." He looked from Llewellyn to Sarah. "Do ye know wha' he did?" Sarah looked at the plastered hand she was holding in both hers. "No." Sarah looked at the German Irishman, then at Llewellyn, her brows puzzling together for a moment. "He did nothing. Just stood there and worked on his beer. Calm as anything. Why, you'd think he was St. Francis the Sissy!" "That's Assissi!" the rest of the Brigade chorused and Sarah realized the Brigade had drifted out to almost surround them. "Froggy kept talking like that. Kept saying things that painted the man wi' a most vile brush an' he just ignored th' drunk, just took another pull on 'is beer." Sarah looked from the speaker to her husband-to-be, frowning a little. "I'll no' repeat wha' he said, 'tis no' fit for a decent woman's ears." Llewellyn's head came up a little and Sarah saw the color start in his face and she knew something just said, had been said there in the Jewel. "Then the man spoke of you." Sarah's head turned abruptly the few degrees it took to snap her eyes from Llewellyn's to the German's. "I'll no' repeat that either." Sarah took a long breath and swallowed hard, looking down at the man's plastered hand. "How badly are you hurt?" she whispered through a dry throat. "'Tis nothin'," Llewellyn said, looking away. "Liar," Sarah said bluntly. "You don't cast nothing." She laid her hand against his cheek again, then around back of his head, pulling his face close to hers. "You're hurt," she whispered. "Because of me." Llewellyn's face darkened and Sarah saw anger in the man's eyes. "Because o' him," he said quietly, and when a strong man in anger speaks in a quiet voice, it's time to give him some space, because he's containing energies best left untapped. Sarah shook her head, looked down. "No," she whispered. "I can't ... no." She looked at Llewellyn, her lovely young eyes vulnerable, bright. "I won't have you hurt because of me," she whispered, and then her eyes lightened and her voice hardened. "I won't have it. Tell me where he is." "No." Llewellyn's voice was flat, hard. Sarah's eyes went pale and the stripe down her face stood out, red and angry. "LOOK, YOU DOZY WELSHMAN, I'LL NOT LET ANYONE HURT MY HUSBAND!" "AND I'LL NO' LET YOU GET YOURSEL' IN TROUBLE OVER ME!" Llewellyn shouted back, his voice echoing in the brick bay. "I WON'T GET IN TROUBLE! I'LL SKIN THE SCOUNDREL ALIVE!" Sarah shouted. "I'LL NOT HAVE MY WIFE SKIN A MAN IN PUBLIC!" "THEN I'LL DRAG HIM TO THE LIVERY, HANG HIM UP ON A GAMBLING STICK AND SKIN HIM IN PRIVATE! HE HURT MY HUSBAND AND I'LL HAVE HIS SCALP!" "YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING!" Llwewellyn roared, his face gone from red to purple. Welsh eyes glared into ice-pale eyes: Sarah was up on her tippy-toes, her face thrust into her fiancee's, they were nose to nose, each had their hands fisted -- well, Llewellyn's left hand was fisted, the other was still shelled in casting plaster -- and the two glared for a long moment, trembling a little. "You," Sarah whispered, "are a hard headed man!" "And you," Llewellyn whispered back, "are an infuriating woman!" They each held their glare long moments more, until Llewellyn's resolve broke and his fury cracked and fell from his face, and Sarah's eyes darkened and she tried to stifle a laugh, and the Irish Brigade laughed and clapped one another on the shoulder as Llewellyn and Sarah gave themselves over to laughter, every bit as hearty as their fury had been the minute before. Sean stepped up to the pair, gripped Sarah's arm in one hand and Llewellyn's in the other, and when he could talk without sniggering, said with a grinning face, "I'll no' take ye in private f'r a Dutch uncle talk. Ye fought in public, I'll speak t'ye in public." He looked first at Llewellyn. "Lad," he rumbled, "had ye no' done somethin' I'd ha' been terrible disappointed in ye." He looked at the Welshman's casted hand. "Next time, take it from a brawler. Throw yer beer in his face, step t' the side an' cold cock him wi' the mug when he charges by ye." Sean released the Welshman's arm, brought his big, scarred hand up to Llewellyn's eye level, opened and closed it a few times, then traced a line with the middle finger of his other hand. "I've worn yon plaster glove mesel'. This bone, an' this, before I learned t' use a beer mug instead." Sean looked at Sarah. "Lass," he rumbled quietly, "ye remind me much o' my Daisy-me-dear." He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. "Ye are a guid match f'r Lew here, an' I doubt me not you're perfectly able t' skin th' scoundrel wi' a spoon f'r his misdeeds." "Now." Sean straightened. "I'll no' have raised voices in me firehouse, but I'll no' beat th' subject t' death. Let's eat. It's easier than turnin' ye over ma knee." Sarah's eyes went pale and Sean held up a peacemaking palm. "No, lass, I'm no' about t' try," he said reassuringly. "I tried doin' that wi' Daisy once an' she like t' beat me t' death!"
  9. Linn Keller 3-21-13 The Welsh Irishman looked into the mirror behind the bar and took a slow draw on his beer. The man beside him should have dined well, and wined himself wisely: instead, he dined wisely and wined himself very, very well: so well, in fact, that good sense was smoked out of his intoxicated skull and he decided he wanted to fight, and he decided he wanted to fight this quiet-spoken, red-shirted Irishman. "Ya damned bog Irish are all alike," he muttered, swaying a little and glaring at the fireman: "ya come over with yer stink an' yer song an' ye do nothin' but drink an' fight." The Welsh Irishman never said a word, he just took another slow pull on his beer. It had been a long day and a hot and tiring day: Sean wanted an inventory of all their hose, whether laid on the rig, whether hanging in the drying tower, whether rolled and stored on the rack. Every hose had to be brought out, every length stretched and inspected, every coupling and connection examined: the serial numbers they'd stamped into the brass couplers themselves, had to be compared to a master list; hose that showed wear was set aside to be tested or discarded: cycled-out hose would be sent back East, where the ends would be cut off and mounted on new hose, the old hose -- well, they didn't know what would become of the woven jacketed linen hose, and frankly they did not care: as long as they had good hose to work with, they didn't care if those damned Easterners cut old hose into ribbons and tied them into bows on city lamp posts. The Welsh Irishman did the lion's share of the work; a rolled length of hose is not light, and he'd personally picked up and packed most of their inventory himself: hard work is hot work, hot work is dry work, and the Welsh Irishman was having his one beer before his meal. At least that had been his intention. Now he stood, one polished boot up on the gleaming brass foot rail, leaning against the smooth edged mahogany with one elbow, gripping the beer mug with his good right hand. "Just look at you," Schlingermann sneered. "Ye're yella just like all yer kind." Llewellyn took another slow pull on his beer. The rest of the Brigade slowly drifted near; a look, the tilt of a head, and the German Irishman inquired of the reflection if he, Llewellyn, wished them to teach the ill mannered drunk the error of his way: Llewellyn's reflection looked back and shook its head, ever so slightly. "You ain't got the decency t' work an honest job," Schlingermann slurred. "You ain't got th' guts t' fight, neither." Llewellyn took a shallow pull on his beer. "An' now you got th' sand t' put yer damned Irish hands on a good woman." Llewellyn froze momentarily. "You know what I hear?" Schlingermann said, his voice low, contemptuous: "I hear she's loose." He nodded, sensing a change in the quiet Irishman. "I hear she's so loose you have to tie a two-by-four across your backside fer a safety --" The Welsh Irishman's muscled arm drove hard knuckles into the drunkard's face. Even Sean was impressed by the punch. One moment, Llewellyn was standing away from the bar a little, his right hand relaxed around the heavy glass beer mug's handle: the next, he was turned, his arm shot forward, and Schlingermann went over backwards, half-flying, half-sliding half the length of the bar. Llewellyn opened and closed his hand a few times, then he turned back to his beer mug, picked it up and took another slow, unhurried sip. The German Irishman walked over to the groaning form, seized an arm, rolled him over on his face: he took a good handful of material between the man's shoulder blades, twisted, gripped a handful of trouser material and picked him up by crotch and collar: he walked toward the door and Tom Landers slipped past him, paused with his hand on the door handle. "OPEN THE DOOR," the German Irishman sang, hefting the starting-to-stir form: he paced toward the wall beside the door, counting aloud with each step, "ONE, TWO, THREE, CLOSE THE DOOR!" -- and heaved the man headfirst into the blank wall just inside the closed, fancy glass paned portals. The building shook a little with the force of the impact. The German Irishman grabbed an ankle and dragged Schlingermann back, then picked him up again. "OPEN THE DOOR!" the Irish Brigade sang in chorus, and the German Irishman chanted, "ONE, TWO, THREE, CLOSE THE DOOR!" WHAM! and Schlingermann met again with the abrupt halt where his face stopped and the wall started. The German Irishman grabbed an ankle again, dragged the drunkard back and hefted him up to belt buckle height once more. "OPEN THE DOOR!" he shouted happily, "ONE! TWO! THREE!" -- and this time he swung Schlingermann a quarter turn, neatly heaving him down the steps and into the street, where he skidded maybe a foot before flopping limply to the ground. Tom Landers shook his head, went back inside the Silver Jewel. About half a minute later, the door opened and a hat scaled out and landed near the unmoving form on the frozen dirt street. Landers stepped up to the bar and accepted a mug of coffee. "Who was that?" the Welsh Irishman asked quietly. "Froggie Schlingermann." "Froggie?" Tom Landers chuckled, sampled his coffee, nodded. "Froggy. For the size of his mouth." The Welsh Irishman nodded, sampled his beer again.
  10. Linn Keller 3-21-13 I gathered up my feelin's and stuffed them down in a bottle and stove a cork in tight on top of 'em. There would be time enough for feelin's later. I blew my nose and give Sarah a wink and she knew I was lyin' to her -- you can tell a lie without words and I'm surprised God didn't hit me with a lightnin' bolt because I was doing my best to look like nothin' was wrong and that was a flat out lie -- anyway I picked up that rag Sarah used to clean off her blades and I did it when she was lookin' elsewhere and I stuffed it in my own saddle bag. The rag was bloody. Sarah was stirred up enough inside, I didn't need her a-puzzlin' any harder over what happened, and that spread-out wipin' rag didn't seem to occur to her. We saddled up and headed for home and warmth. Angela streaked toward the front door yelling "Daddeeee!" with the absolute abandon of a happy child and I reached down and snatched her up and swung her towards the ceiling. Angela giggled and reached up and just barely touched the ceiling with one pink finger and I swung her down and kissed her forehead and said "How's my Princess?" "Sawwah!" Angela exclaimed, delighted, and I handed her to Sarah, and Sarah laughed and hugged the little flannel enveloped bundle of wiggle and giggle. I picked up Esther's hand and kissed her knuckles and then I hugged her too. "The twins?" I whispered. "Fed and abed," she whispered back. "Good." Esther laid a hand on my cheek. "You're chilled. I'll have Mary make something." "Tea, if you please," I murmured. "Nothing for me, thank you," Sarah said uncertainly: Angela gave a disappointed little "Aaawww," and Esther and I both glared at her over non-existent spectacles and said "Sarr-aaahhh," in a warning tone, and Sarah's anxiety dissolved into laughter and she threw up her hands, shoulder high: "Oh, all right, if you simply must!" We thawed out by the kitchen stove and drank tea and ate buttered bread, Angela in her chair, swinging her legs happily, at least until she kicked the underside of the table with her bare foot: you'd think she broke her leg plumb off in two or three places from the fuss she made. I kissed her little foot and Sarah took it in her hands and studied it and finally allowed as she could fix it if I had a couple nails and some boards and maybe some good horse hoof glue and some string, which got Angela to giggling again, and finally once we got the chills chased enough, Sarah headed back for her place and I packed Angela upstairs and got her tucked back into her own bunk. Sarah looked long at the Sheriff. "You came for me," she said. "I had to," the Sheriff said. "My little girl needed me." Sarah nodded. "Thank you, Papa." The Sheriff lifted his hat, and Sarah turned Snowflake, and paced off into the frosted dark, and the Sheriff turned and went inside. Sarah rode just out of sight of the house, then turned: she returned to the Sheriff's barn, slipping in its back door: his Beagle dog begged a petting, for he knew Sarah, and she fussed and made over him, and he wagged his tail and was happy: he followed her to the Sheriff's saddle and he watched happily, wagging his white tipped tail, as Sarah opened one saddlebag, then the other. She removed a crumpled, frozen rag, stuffed it in her coat pocket, then went back out: she squatted and gave the Beagle dog a final ear rub and he wagged and licked her face, and she and Snowflake headed back out and set their course for the Rosenthal spread. Sarah waited until she was in her bedroom, and the door closed, before striking a light and removing the frozen, balled-up cloth from her pocket. She worked it out flat and held it up in the light. Sarah's eyes went a little pale. The rag was red with frozen blood. "So it did happen," she whispered. Sarah blew out her lamp, looked out the window. She leaned against the window sill, her breath fogging the glass. The white wolf sat at the edge of the fenceline, looking at her: it stood, yawned, and then trotted off, unconcerned.
  11. Linn Keller 3-20-13 Sarah looked up as her Papa walked his mare toward her. She raised her blade before her in salute. The Sheriff dismounted, ground-reining his red Cannonball, and gravely returned her salute. He looked around at the steaming, unmoving carcasses. “Report,” he said, as if a superior officer. Sarah swallowed hard. “I need to clean my blades,” she said a little unsteadily. “Snowflake, come.” Snowflake walked over to her, bobbing her head, and Sarah leaned her forehead against the mare’s neck. “Stand,” she said, reaching into a saddle bag: she pulled out a rag of some nature, pulled off her canteen, laid her blades on the ground and soaked down the rag. Sarah wiped down the main-gauche first, rinsing water down its length, then wiping it: she did the same with her bastardo: less than a hand-and-a-half, longer hilted than a one-hand sword, it was perfect for her height and reach. She laid the bloodied rag out as if to dry, retrieved another, carefully wiped dry each blade before the water froze: when both were dried to her satisfaction, she retrieved a small pouch, tugged at its drawstring, opened the bag’s neck. “I learned this from the Japanese,” she said, dipping two fingers into the black leather bag’s interior: her fingertips were white when they came out, and she proceeded to rub each blade, carefully, thoroughly, for the entire length. “Powdered limestone,” she explained. “As fine as Mama’s face powder. Any time I handle a blade I rub it down with this.” I raised an eyebrow: she’d found something I didn’t know. “Papa,” Sarah said, not looking up, “I’m scared.” I looked around. Cannonball was cropping grass; she was not troubled in the least, and Snowflake, likewise, was more interested in fodder than our surroundings: had there been a threat, the horses would know before I would. I looked at the carcasses, looked closer. I bent, then squatted. The nearest carcass had no head. “Good Lord,” I murmured. “You can call me Sarah, we’re among friends,” Sarah said lightly. I looked at her, surprised: I’d used that line time and again, and I found myself almost laughing when I heard it from her lips. I leaned forward, hands on my knees, and pushed up: getting up from a squat was not as effortless as it had been when I was eighteen. I went over to the other carcass. It was horrendously cut … I know how much effort it takes to put a blade through living tissue, especially when using the edge and not the point. I looked at Sarah with new respect. “You had a time here,” I said. “You could say that.” She turned the blade over and dipped her fingers into the sack again. She looked up, nodded. “They came from that direction,” she said. “No howl. Nothing. I saw them come and I didn’t want to wind break Snowflake and end up with both of us dead anyhow, so I decided it was time to stand and fight.” I nodded. “For all things there is a season, eh?” I nodded again. “So I’ve been told.” Sarah glanced up, then resumed rubbing her blade with the powder-fine limestone. “I caught the leader coming in, turned and caught the second. I knew my first two strokes …” She paused, frowning, trying to put her meaning in words. She stepped back, getting a little distance; she drew the pouch closed, tucked it back into her off saddlebag, then stepped out away from me. “The first one came in from there – so –“ Sarah swung the sword, slowly, and I could see her body respond, I could see how she drew her power out of the earth and focused it through her diaphragm and through the shining edge of her blade. She spun, swung again, and I could see how she maintained momentum with a turn, instead of a chop and a stop and another chop: she made one fluid turn, two deadly cuts, presented the point for a third. I saw grace, I saw beauty, I saw smoothness and precision and I saw death itself in a straight-blade ballet. We walked for a little, together, holding hands. “I wanted to think,” Sarah said quietly. Frost-brittle grass crunched under our boots; the horses followed docilely. “What about?” I prompted. Sarah stopped, threw her head back, eyes closed. She took a long breath, blew her steam toward the stars. “What am I?” she asked, turning to look at me. Even in the dim light I could see the trouble worrying her pretty face. “Am I just a link in some great cosmic chain, a stepping stone for my bloodline?” She looked at me … beseechingly, I think … and asked, “Is there nothing more?” “Tell me what you were doing before you rode out here in the meadow.” “I was” – Sarah dropped her eyes. “I wanted to see something.” “You wanted to see if you had the guts to jump on a flatcar again.” She looked sharply at me. I put a fingertip against her lips. “I’m a Daddy,” I said quietly. “It’s my business to know something about my little girls, even when they keep surprising me.” Sarah nodded; I withdrew my finger. “How did … how …?” “Never mind that. Tell me why you wanted to jump the flatcar.” “I wanted … I wanted to see …” She shivered a little and I gathered her into me. “Papa, I was scared.” “Are you still?” “No,” she said, squeezing me tight. “Not as long as you hold me.” It was my turn to take a long breath. “Did you jump the flatcar?” “No.” “Why not?” I asked gently. “It wasn’t necessary.” “You realized that.” Sarah nodded, then shook her head, frowning. “No. No, that’s not right.” I nodded her a go-ahead. “I was afraid.” “Go on.” “Papa, I saw… when I was … I went through the mountain …” I nodded again. “Go on.” “Papa, I saw … I saw me in the past … I saw my blood in ages past …” “You saw yourself as a warrior-maiden in many ages.” Sarah’s eyes snapped to mine, wide, surprised. “You saw yourself, always a fighter, always the strong one, always the one to stand against the enemy.” Sarah’s mouth opened a little. “You didn’t see everything.” Sarah blinked. “You didn’t see the wife and the mother, you didn’t see the teacher and the caregiver. All you saw was a facet of yourself. One facet. You saw the reflection of what you were in that moment, when you were what you had to be.” I saw confusion in her eyes as she looked at the memory again. “Papa … I saw myself as I will be.” I nodded. “Just not in this lifetime.” I smiled a little. “Papa, I saw …” Sarah swallowed, then she reached up and turned my lapel over and ran fingertips over my badge – “Papa, I wore this, and I wore your pistols and I stepped out of your office and the doors were glass and heavy and it was stone instead of logs but it’s in the same place and I was the Sheriff, Papa, and I saw me draw your pistols and cock them and invite someone to come right on and try me if they thought they had it in them –“ Sarah stopped, took a steadying breath. “And I saw selves beyond that, Papa, fantastic things yet to come, and I was part of it.” She closed her eyes, sorted out her thoughts. “Papa, if I am just a link in the chain – my – you asked what I was thinking.” I nodded. “If I am just a vessel, a link, then I should hide somewhere and go nowhere and do nothing, just hide from the world so I don’t get hurt or killed and raise children and hope one of them will live long enough to pass my blood on to whoever … to whatever next generation … but Papa, I don’t have any control over that.” Sarah’s hands gripped my upper arms and I could hear anguish stressing her voice. “Papa, all I can do is take care of me. I can’t … my children, I can’t –“ “I know,” I soothed, stroking her hair: I leaned down and kissed her forehead. “We can’t live our children’s lives. Much as we’d like to keep them safe and provided for as long as we draw breath, we can’t. They grow up and they move on and all we can do is hope we gave them a good start.” “What should I do, Papa?” Sarah whispered. “Should I bow my head and say ‘Kismet’ and let cruel fate play with me like a cat with an injured mouse?” Her voice was hard as she asked the question. “No, Sarah,” I murmured. “No, you live your life by your own rules and apologize to no one for it. Trust in God and all will be well.” I put my arm around her shoulders and pulled her close again and I felt her nod as she leaned against me. Sarah was sniffing a little and about an inch and a half from crying. The right thing to do would have been to hold her and let her cry, let her be a little girl in her Daddy’s arms. I was selfish. I couldn’t do that. I tasted the echoes of her rage, I smelled the nectar of her fury. There is no more intoxicating posset in all of Creation than the righteous fury of a warrior, hard pressed, who takes weapon in hand and charges into battle armored with the knowledge that he is utterly, absolutely, in the RIGHT! – and Sarah knew its taste, and I felt the rage build within me and try as I might, dear God! I tried! – but the rage grew and I too felt the red fires of war claim my blood. Sarah felt the heat radiate from me like I’d suddenly lit a fire behind my wish bone: she pulled back, startled, and I saw the fear in her eyes, for I know my own eyes were bone-white and likely glowing. I’d been told that happened, when the war-rage was on me. Sarah reached up and slapped the flat of her hand, hard, on my breast bone and threw her head back, her eyes half-closed, her lips half-open, the very image of a woman drunk with lust. I managed to damp myself down -- I could not do it for me – but when I saw what my inferno was doing to my little girl, I seized the rage and threw it from me, slung it into the cold night where it died almost instantly. Sarah bared her teeth and snarled, her eyes red, blazing like two railroad lanterns, the whip-scar a scarlet blaze across her face: it took her a moment but she, too, grabbed her rage with both hands and slung it across the frosted meadow. We stood there and shuddered and I was damp and starting to chill: I looked at Sarah and she looked at me and she looked normal and I reckon I did too. “What was that?” Sarah half-gasped, half-whispered. “The Rage,” I coughed. “It comes on me in battle.” I shook my head. “It is not a good thing.” “’You must control your passions’,” Sarah quoted. I nodded. “We did,” I wheezed, bending over, bracing my palms on my bent knees. “We both did.” “I like it,” Sarah whispered, licking her lips. “I like … its taste.” I nodded. “There’s no ride like the Adrenalin Stallion,” I agreed, not quite trusting my voice: I coughed, spat, coughed again. “It’s like strong drink or opium. I want to go back to it.” Sarah nodded, reached up, grabbed the shoulder of my coat. “Papa,” Sarah whispered urgently, “I was considering whether I should be a meek little housewife. I don’t want to do that. I want to be me. I don’t want to stop riding hard and I don’t want to stop being an Agent.” “Then don’t,” I said bluntly. Sarah shook her head. “No – no, Papa, you don’t –“ Sarah pushed me impatiently away, turned, walked away: she drew the bastardo, slashed viciously through the air a couple times, turned. “Why the wolves?” she asked, her voice clear, untroubled … but cold, cold and analytical. “Why the wolves and why at that moment?” I walked up to my little girl, looked down at her features, bleached into a pale mask in the washed-out light of the rising moon. “What wolves?” I whispered. Sarah quirked an eyebrow, then looked down, looked around. She cocked the sword over her shoulder, reached back with her left hand and brought the main-gauche into guard, the long-bladed dagger shining and slender and very silver. “Where are they?” she hissed, turning, eyes working over the frosted ground. “I stood here – I received their charge here – I struck here, here, here” – she followed her foot-marks, mashed into the fragile frost – “I killed … they were … “ Sarah looked at me, her eyes big and frightened. “Papa, what happened?” “Do you know,” I asked quietly, “why war is so terrible?” Sarah shook her head. “It is so terrible because if it weren’t, we might grow too fond of it.” Sarah tilted her head a little, curious. “Do you remember how good it felt when the Rage was upon you?” Sarah’s eyes closed, then opened, and she nodded. “It feels the same to me. It feels good, Sarah. There is no feeling like it, when you know you are right, and you are free to make right without restriction or limit!” Sarah nodded again. “What could be more right than preserving your own life, when set upon by ravening Death itself?” “Then I created them?” “No.” I shook my head. “No, my dear. The Almighty does not cause us misfortune but He is not a’tall bashful to use misfortune that hits us, to teach a lesson.” Sarah looked around again. “No tracks. Nothing … they came from this direction, a pack should …” “Should leave sign, yes. There is none.” “A lesson.” “Yes.” “I don’t understand.” “You asked a question: should you be a meek little mouse of a housewife, jumping up on a stool and standing up on your tippy toes with your petticoats all bunched up, screeching at a mouse on the floor, or should you scoop up your child in one arm, level out a pistol with the other hand and invite whoever it is to come right on, you’ll settle his hash?” Sarah blinked. “Oh, I’ve seen, Sarah. I've seen you. My Mama had the Second Sight and I have just enough of it to scare me. Men aren’t supposed to have it.” “But you blow fire and stop blood with the Word.” “Death is coming.” “Death comes for us all.” “I know … but to the man it comes for, it’s just almighty personal.” “You saw your own death?” “No.” Sarah sheathed her blades, laid a gentle hand on my cheek. “Papa, what is it?” “I will be given a choice.” “A choice.” Sarah’s eyes darted left, then right, looking from one to the other of my eyes, trying to find an answer beyond, or behind, my words. “I will decide” – I swallowed and grief washed over my hot soul, chilling it and making me shiver – “I will decide who lives.” “And … who dies?” “Who gets killed.” I looked away; my voice was harsh. “I will … the murder will be mine” – I held up a hand, clawed fingers trembling in the pale light – “as surely as if I’d –“ I leaned my head back. “The time is not yet, Sarah. Not yet. The crop is not ready for harvest, the grain is sown but sleeps in the earth, but in the fullness of season I will make a choice and then I will have to make another, and I will be utterly alone when I do.” Sarah shoved herself against me, her eyes pale, hard. “Not if I can help it,” she hissed. “We’re talking about you, not me.” “You’re going to kill me?” “No.” I passed a hand over my face. “No. Back up now. The wolves.” “What about the wolves?” “You had to be shown.” “Shown what?” “Do you remember the Rage, just now, and you cast it from you?” “Yes.” “That.” Sarah blinked, puzzled: she pulled her head back like a surprised little girl and I nearly smiled. “I don’t understand.” “Sarah.” My voice was a whisper again; I laid my hand against her cheek, feeling how chill it was: she leaned her face into my palm, closed her eyes, humming a little for the warmth in my palm probably felt good. “Sarah, you can be the woman you’re becoming. You can be wife and mother and a proper lady and you can be just as whalebone-in-your-spine strong as you’ve always been. You can be the warrior you’ve always been when the need comes up. How long you’ll live and what-all you will do …” I smiled. “That’s up to you, dear heart.” “What about you?” “Now that question is deeper than it looks, ain’t it?” Sarah nodded. “Papa … will you sire more children?” A sadness draped itself over me like a blanket. “My children …” I closed my eyes, hugged Sarah to me. I wanted to feel life. I wanted to feel her, alive, healthy, young, strong, the way she should be. “Papa?” Sarah hugged me again. “Papa, why are you crying?”
  12. Linn Keller 3-20-13 I kissed Esther and stroked the twins’ hair before heading for the front door. I did not know what was going on but I knew I was needed. I picked the double gun off the rack before reaching for the door knob: I drew back my hand, then pulled open the gun rack drawer and grabbed a handful of swan shot cartridges. I put them in my right hand coat pocket. Settling the hat on my head, I looked at my reflection and thought, God Almighty, don’t let me be goin’ to war. Sarah turned Snowflake back toward town, back toward home, walking her, looking around as the moon threw a nimbus arc over the horizon. Halo around the moon, Sarah thought. More snow. She smiled ironically. Of course snow. It’s March. It’s winter. What did I expect? Sarah sighed, turning her head a little, studying the shadows as she rode. He thought he taught me better, Sarah thought bitterly. He never taught me to handle … How to handle what? Being a woman? No. What he taught me, I can apply – To what? Being a meek submissive little housewife, a good obedient – That’s not fair, she interrupted herself. I can apply what he taught me to anything -- The hair stood up on the back of Sarah’s neck and she spun Snowflake. Sarah went in half a second or less from relaxed and introspective, to ready to fight for her very life. Sarah blinked, then kneed Snowflake hard and kicked her in the ribs. “YAHHHH!” she yelled. Snowflake didn’t need to be told twice. The Frisian was bred at sea level for the express purpose of carrying armored knights into battle at a dead-out gallop. Sarah knew high altitude is not the place to run a horse, but Snowflake was no usual Frisian, and she was long and well acclimatized to the thin air: Snowflake ran at first out of need, then in but a few moments, when muscles were warm and blood up and hot, she ran for the joy of running. Snowflake was a dark line scribed across frost-white grass, Sarah leaning low over her, hands on either side of her neck, whispering “Run – run – run – run!” – until they were in the middle of a big meadow. “Whoa, girl,” Sarah commanded. Steel whispered from fleece-lined scabbard: Saran kicked one leg up, turned in mid-air, blade up and ready: her eyes were beyond pale, they burned red in the darkness, the whip-scar blazing on her fair skin as the lead wolf leaped for her throat. Solingen steel flashed in the moonlight and the first wolf fell, cut in two, head tumbling and snapping in the moonlight, red blood gushing black as Sarah whirled, catching the second wolf in the same manner: she paused, blade spinning in a quick circle, her teeth bared: she thrust into a run, screaming, catching two with one slash and impaling a third: she reached behind her, brought out a left-hand dagger, spun, steel spinning faster than the eye could follow: the blaze of her eyes, the cold silver arcs of hard-swung steel, gave the scene a light not of this earth. The fight was over in less than five seconds: with three dead and two more badly injured, the pack broke off its attack: Snowflake was long out of pursuit range as Sarah turned, growling, then charged the remaining pack members. The other three wolves turned, ran: when the alphas were killed, their best fighters put down, when their quarry screamed and came at them with Death spinning about her, they wisely chose to break off hostilities. Sarah was breathing harshly, growling a little with each breath, then she went to each of the carcasses and delivered a mercy-stroke to each, behind the shoulder and through the heart, snarling with each vicious, precise thrust. Sarah stood, steel sagging in her hand, until the blade’s tip kissed the frosted grass underfoot, then she turned, raising steel to sky, threw back her head and screamed a warrior’s challenge to the diamond-studded heavens. I saw her maybe a quarter of a mile away. I knew it was Sarah. I could feel the fire that burned inside her. It was hard frosted already and Snowflake was a moving black streak coming right toward me. I whistled her down and she broke her gallop, trotting over to me, blowing: I leaned well over and reached out and she let me rub her nose and she wasn’t bridled but she was saddled, so I said “Come on, girl,” and she followed me like a puppy, trotting along just about even with my shoulder, at least until I came out of the little depression and saw Sarah again. I’d heard wolves and I’d heard Sarah scream and I knew that scream. It was the same one I’d heard rip my own throat raw. I knew that raw throat and I knew that battle joy and I knew how much I loved the terrible moment when I was decided to fight for my very life, when every other care and concern fell away and all of Creation and all of Eternity was distilled into one bright moment and one course of action, and I knew what it was to lose myself in that joyous abandon of warfare, when no doubt remained anywhere and every gun on the ship was turned to face the enemy. Sarah was standing wide-legged, arms overhead, and I saw steel in the moonlight and I saw something red where he face should be, as if her eyes were afire, and a streak of living fire down across her face. I blinked, looked again, and they were gone, but I remembered what I’d just heard … I remembered a cold night in Tennessee when we were jumped: outnumbered, we fought like two hells, every man Jack of us, until it was belt buckle to belt buckle, everyone was shot out and no time to reload and it was bayonet and rifle butt and knuckles and butcher knife and I and we three had our backs to one another, backed up onto a bare knob: all three of us were cut, all three bloodied, all but me was shot at least once but we were still on our feet and fighting. Like most fights it lasted a year but was over before we realized it. We three stood crouched a little, blades in hand, teeth set, and then we realized the fight was over and we’d survived. We straightened slowly and we raised steel to the heavens and threw back our heads and we felt our chests swell and the three of us screamed defiance to the heavens, shaking bloodied blades at the lofty moon. I blinked, shaking my head, dismissing the memory. Sarah was there and she needed me.
  13. Charlie MacNeil 3-19-13 "An' about damn time, too," the voice growled again, and again the unseen hand descended. "Anybody who says he or she ain't ever been afraid either hasn't ever done nothin', or is a damn liar." Sarah shivered again, and spoke. "But I've never..." she began, fully realizing that it was probably just as well that she had no living audience who would most likely vote for her incarceration in the nearest loonie bin had she been seen carrying on an apparently solo conversation with the open air. She paused, then began again. "I've never let it stop me before." "The onliest thing it stopped this time was you bein' a damn fool," the familiar voice continued. "You know what you can do, there ain't nobody out here to see you, and no big bet on the outcome, so why get yourself hurt for no better reason than to try to prove you ain't afraid of anything? Dang, girl, I thought I taught you better. You got a big future ahead of you, don't be messin' it up now. Give it a chance to happen." The weight lifted from her shoulder. "Think of the future..." the voice faded into the evening breeze, and Sarah pulled her cloak tighter about her shoulders. "Thank you," she whispered as she kneed Snowflake back toward home, wondering if she was indeed ready for commitment to an asylum of some sort. Sometimes she was fairly certain that she was. After all, who carried on conversations with people who weren't there, except crazy people? On the other hand, the voices did have some dang good ideas sometimes...
  14. Outside of Georgia I can't recall ever seeing a Vidalia Onion.
  15. Linn Keller 3-19-13 Snowflake shivered under Sarah’s reassuring hands. Whispering, she steadied the big mare as the ore train came near. The black Baldwin, hissing, thrusting hard against the load it carried, was a frightening enough sight; steam hissing from the pop-off, plus the barking chant from its exhaust, and the black Frisian walled her eyes and leaned a little, as if to whirl and run. Sarah’s hands and Sarah’s knees and Sarah’s whisper held her in place, though Sarah felt her mount's tremors plainly. Sarah waited until the train was past, making Snowflake stand for its length: cars groaned and squeaked, the rails and ties sagged a little as each pair of steel trucks passed over, then eased back up to level as the weight came off them; Sarah waved at the caboose, and an anonymous hand, barely seen through winter-fogged glass, waved back, and the train retreated up-grade, fighting gravity on its way to the stamping mill. Sarah sat and waited until the train was out of sight before easing Snowflake into a walk. She turned the midnight mare, walked her over to the tracks. Snowflake shied, throwing her head, voicing her discontent. Sarah never moved: she might as well have been carved of ebony herself, for she too wore black that evening: she turned the mare back to the tracks, eased her ahead one step, another, until she was nose over the shining steel rail. Sarah talked constantly now, her voice quiet, reassuring, telling Snowflake the rail would not move, it would not bite her, it was all right: Snowflake turned her head, looking down track, looking where the train had gone: she shook her head again and snorted, then pawed at the rail. Sarah nudged her ever so slightly and Snowflake stepped up onto the tracks, then down the other side, switching her tail. “Snowflake,” Sarah whispered, “the other rails are over here. I need your help with these.” Sarah looked up as The Lady Esther came in view a mile distant, the lighter chant of the passenger locomotive echoing against distant granite: unlike the Baldwin freight engine, The Lady Esther was … well, she was far more elegant than the bulky, black, single minded design of the freight engine. Her wheels were a little bigger, a disadvantage on the grade, but as she pulled much less tonnage, the difference was negligible: in fact, her times over the same distance were a little better, in spite of less leverage with each piston-thrust. “Stand, girl,” Sarah soothed the mare, and Snowflake froze, watching the oncoming engine. Sarah felt her begin to tremble again. Tom Landers brought the prisoner’s supper to him. It was still hot, still a good eatin’ temperature: Tom was a fair man and he knew the prisoner was one handed and would be for some time, until that broken wrist healed, so he had Daisy’s girl cut the meat up fine and butter the bread before she loaded it on the tray, a nicety the prisoner would very likely never note nor appreciate, but Landers did it for the simple reason that it was a decent thing to do. Landers set the tray down on the knife scarred table outside the cell and poured a shot of something kind of milky into a shot glass. “What’s that?” the fellow asked, cradling his plaster cast. “Pain killer,” Landers grunted. “Slows down the bowels so you’ll want to drink all your coffee. I’ll fetch you some water. Drink all you can, you don’t want plugged up.” “No,” the fellow agreed, turning his head away: “no, don’t want that.” Landers slid the tray under the door, handed the coffee cup between the bars. “Thank’ee kindly,” the fellow said, taking the coffee, then he set it down on the floor and picked up the shot glass from the tray, slugged it down, then struggling a little, picked up the tray, bracing it with his casted-up hand. Landers waited a moment, then headed back out. Nothing to it, Sarah thought. Match speed and jump. Just like jumping from a standing-still horse to the depot platform. I’ve done it before. Nothing to it. Sarah watched The Lady Esther approach, waved at the engineer: she grinned at the gloved hand thrown up in greeting, and as Snowflake backed up two steps and stopped, she again caressed her neck, murmuring to her. The passenger car was half full of miners, as it usually was; none waved, few even looked her way: those that did would see only a black rider on a black horse in the gathering dusk. Sarah saw the flatcar, tensed a little – she had but to turn Snowflake, get her up to speed – No. Sarah leaned back in the saddle a little and Snowflake, responsive to the change in weight, backed obediently. Sarah sat up a little and Snowflake stopped. Sarah was shivering now, eyes big, her breath coming fast as she saw through the eyes of memory, saw her walk through hell – Sarah saw herself, defying the Dark, looking right and looking left and seeing herself far in the distant past and through the now and to the future. I don’t know why, but I matter, she thought. What am I? I am nothing. I am nobody. Sarah felt the ghost of a hand on her shoulder and heard a voice that wasn’t there, a familiar growl that said “Girl, I never met anyone who wasn’t important one way or another.” Sarah opened her eyes, breathing hard, then she rubbed her eyes. What am I even doing here? she thought. I know I can jump onto that flatcar. I can even dismount at speed. I’ve done it before. Why do it again? Sarah opened her eyes and whispered the answer aloud. “Because I am afraid,” she admitted, her voice shivering a little.
  16. Linn Keller 3-19-13 Air hissed out the touch hole as I thrust the ram rod slowly down the bore, pushing the spit patched ball down on top of a charge of triple-F. Angela looked curiously at my warbag and horn, slung across my chest from opposite shoulders. She’d watched me shoot before, but never a rifle that loaded from the front end, and never one you had to prime, and I’d be willing to bet when I touched that front trigger and bang she went, why, it would be the first time she ever saw a flinch lock being fired. My hands had eyes; I could have loaded and primed in full dark, so familiar was the exercise: even with this rifle I’d never shot before, this brand new to me rifle the Daine boys built, this masterwork in curly maple and octagon steel and silver furniture: I fetched out the ram rod and slid it back down its thimbles without looking, then brought the rifle up, almost tossing it up, catching it at its balance point and pulling the stopper out of the antler priming horn. I’d traded for that little priming horn some time back, I admired the scrimshaw work on its polished butt end: a crossed tomahawk and knife, with feathers dependent: whoever did that work did really fine work and I probably offered the fellow more than it was worth, but I was satisfied and so was he so I reckon that’s all that counted. I tapped the end of the priming horn against the pan, knocking out some priming powder, then stoppered the priming horn and slid it back into my possibles: I thumped the stock with the heel of my hand, settling the powder to my satisfaction, laying it up against the touch hole, but not into it. Matter of fact I run a little whittled stick into the flash hole and made sure it was clear. It had a good flint, freshly knapped, the battery piece was clean and bare and I’d tried it for spark, so no oil lay invisibly on its face to prevent a good spark shower when the cock fell. I had my eye on a particular pile of horse apples. Angela watched closely as I used two fingers to simultaneously fetch back that cock and the battery-piece, then I fetched back the set trigger with my middle finger and brought that rifle up to shoulder. No, that’s not quite right. I did not bring it to shoulder. It kind of floated up, like a feather on a puff of breeze. I held it in ag’in my upper arm, settling the crescent where the arm muscle tapered down a little, and taken a sight on that pile of second hand horse feed. The back sight was a finer notch than I liked but it was what I’d used on my old flint rifle all my life so I was used to it, and the front sight was a bright spark settling on the black and steaming pile. Angela put her hands over her ears and tilted her head, plainly curious about this funny looking riffle I had up to shoulder. I sighed out my breath and that front sight set dead steady and I eased my finger back a little, just felt the trigger, and when the sight was right where I wanted it, pressed that trigger ever so light … A flint lock, properly tuned, is as fast as anything else and you’ll never convince me otherwise. When the hammer fell and she flashed up in front of my good eye it sounded like sn’BAM and I just saw the splatter before smoke rolled up and blocked it from view. I held for a moment, then brought the crescent off my arm and lowered the rifle slowly, setting the silver crescent over my boot like I always did, and Angela, big-eyed, blinked and offered a quiet, admiring “Ooooh!” I brought up that powder horn and smiled at the burnt in lettering, done at my request when I made me a horn to replace the one that I’d lost, or maybe it got stolen, I was never sure: in regular, squared characters, a couple lines of doggerel which suited me: “I, Powder, and Brother, Ball, “Hero-like, do conker all.” Inside the end plug was something no one would ever see. I’d wrote in it the words my Pa wrote in the end plug of the horn he made me, many years ago, when I was just a lad with my first rifle: Linn Keller His Horn He’d written the date and damned if I could recall when that was, so I did not put a date in it, but once I got it all fitted up proper and glued in nice and tight and then pegged in with brass nails, I waxed its joint to make double sure it was water proof. I’d done this with salt horns in the past to good effect and it worked well, it kept the salt from taking water and caking too bad, but a salt horn I made so the end could be taken out if need be. Angela never offered a word as I stood there wool gathering. I fetched out the ram rod and blew a long breath through it -- the bar'l, not the ram rod -- then I charged it again using the horn tip powder measure while I chewed on a strip of shirt front linen I tied to my war bag strap. Them what is well chawed flies truer to the mark. I set the ball and sliced through the spit patch with a patchin’ knife I kept in a little sheath on my warbag strap and I run that down on top of the powder, I fetched it up with a kick and a catch and half cocked and primed and brought it to shoulder and sn’BAM and another road apple kind of disappeared off that pile, for I picked the shot and she shot true. I must have spent an hour out there with that rifle – “riffle,” as Angela called it, and I laughed and agreed with her – and finally went both allowed as we’d had enough fun for one day and headed back toward the house. I carried that flint rifle balanced in my good right hand and Angela’s little hand gripping my left hand and I don’t recall feeling quite that content in a very long time.
  17. There are a number of folks that think it is really cool to wear a Kilt to a COWBOY match. A lot of these same folks also think it is cool to do a Hawaiian dress day at a COWBOY match. There have been those that thought it was cool to dress like a Football team at a COWBOY match, or even a Baseball team. Some folks seem to think this game is about the Boar Wars, some think it is a RODEO with guns. I've seen one that thought it was a skin contest wearing a Speedo Bathing suit, and then there is the Godzilla type and Space man type... don't forget the Blues Brothers, and the Clowns, or by all means, the Steam Punk crowd, the Spanish American war buffs and a few misplaced WWI show up from time to time. Bottom line is that the Dress code in this game has NEVER been enforced per the intent of the rules (hint: it's a cowboy game, however that could be subject to change, or some creative "Clarification" ) You can wear totally incorrect dress styles or even totally out of period styles that have NOTHING to do with CAS, and nothing will happen, in fact, it is often sanctioned, because someone thinks it is Cool. However, if you look like a for real 1870s cowboy, and shoot CC, and happen to have some lugs on the bottom of your Boots, then you are subject to a SDQ for every stage you wear them on. (that's not cool). Folks say "It's a Fantasy game", so I guess that covers it. For me, it's a Cowboy game, I'll dress like a cowboy. Before anyone starts bashing me for my hard core CHOICE of clothing, consider the fact that I've had the same attitude on this topic since day one. I have never changed, never participated in these deviations, But also have never made too much of a big deal about it.... because, about the only one that agrees with me is the Judge, and he hasn't said anything about it since he banned modern Levi's at the Second TG convention at the old Frontier, only to have to take it back because the Theme for the next EOT was "Silver Screen Cowboys"! Ha! So if you want to wear a skirt...I mean Kilt, to a Cowboy match.. do it. Snakebite
  18. Problem is that most of the onions sold as Vidalia are only sweet onions
  19. Would I be correct in assuming that once you have saute'd the onions they go into the buttered casserole dish and the batter gets poured over them? Saving the recipe, likely make it this weekend if I can find the onions. Hmmm...and a big glass of buttermilk to wash it down.
  20. Got about 1475 miles on with 450 left to go tomorrow. kR
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