Thursday, December 3, 2020

Relaxing On A Sunny Afternoon

Not being a cold weather fan, I immensely enjoyed the warm, sunny afternoons we were treated to over the long holiday break. The day after Thanksgiving was no exception. Mid-afternoon I once again found myself on the deck, enjoying the sunlight coming through the trees and the sounds of happy birds in the woods. 

My cigar choice was the COA Pilón. I decided to start off with a little "pep up" in the form of a Chai Tea. I felt the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg flavors of the latte would make a good compliment to the cigar. The creamy cocoa, nuts, and honey notes of the smoke indeed made for a pleasing combination.

Of course, the warm beverage was short lived, lasting only an inch or so into the smoke. Perusing the beer fridge, I spied a Sam Adams Octoberfest. The sweet, malty goodness of the ale was also a pleasurable match for the cigar. 

The glass of beer lasted slightly longer than the tea, but was also empty before the cigar reached its conclusion. Knowing the evening held the possibility of another cigar, and perhaps a little bourbon, I finished the CAO Pilón without an additional beverage. The sun reflecting off the remnants of the fall foliage made for sufficient accompaniment.

No a bad day in the neighborhood. Even the sounds of leaf blowers in the distance were easy to ignore.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Finally Got in Some Shooting

Two months. That's how long my range bag has been sitting untouched. Between family commitments, weather, and socialistic restrictions on freedom, opportunities to hit the range have been limited. In addition, I've been somewhat reluctant to dig into my ammo stash, given I don't expect the availability (and cost) to return to "normal" levels for at least two years. That said, I was excited to be heading to the Cavalier Rod and Gun Club for the monthly IDPA match on Saturday morning.

After a night of fitful sleep, due to excitement and some nervousness, I arrived at the range to greet friends and marvel at the sunny, warm morning. I also soon lamented dressing for slightly cooler weather. But it was time to shoot!

The first stage our squad shot had us staging the unloaded gun on a table, and all the magazines on another nearby table. After retrieving and loading the gun, there were three targets to be engaged around a wall and two more from either side of the stage after moving up range. This was my "shake off the dust"stage as I finished 5 points down.

The next stage was an unusual "open field" course with an odd start. Our gun was left on a table, loaded with just one round. Magazines were also on the table. There was a target directly in front of us, another off to the right that required a step or two backwards to engage, and as we continued backing up, two more targets appeared behind barriers. All targets required 2 hits each, except the last, which was a head shot only target requiring a single hit. Yep, start with one round, but it was the last target that required only one shot minimum. 

I shot the first three targets on the move while retreating. My path drifted to the left a bit causing me to take some extra steps to get to the fourth target, though I did shoot the course -0. 

Following that we moved to our first "normal," draw from the holster stage. The course of fire began with a close target that was shot from retention. Turning, we engaged two distant targets from cover before beginning down a winding path to finish the course. The remaining targets were generally shot while leaning around tight cover. Again, a -0 zero stage for me.

As we rounded the bend to the next bay, the first thing I noticed was a double swinger with two non-threat targets. It was soon realized that the swinger was immobile, but that didn't make it any less "in the way." The whole stage was shot from the box and started with us leaning leftward to hold the shovel handle. The target hidden behind the non-threat mass could be engaged low and from the right. Three open targets were then shot in priority. All targets required three hits minimum. 

My shooting on this stage felt really good. Transitions snapped to the targets and the sights were set quickly. The stage also went by in a blur. When it was all done, I was -0 on what was to be my best stage of the day, coming in 2nd in SSP and 7th Overall for the stage. 

The final stage of the morning continued the uniqueness of the stages shot thus far. We began seated at a table, the unloaded gun in a box, and magazines placed about the table per the shooter's preference. Shooting did not have to be done while seated. Directly to the front were three partial targets. To either side, obscured by barrels, were targets that only became visible when moving to the opposite sides of the table. Additional targets were found be retreating up range and shooting around walls on either side.

There were numerous paths that shooters took around the stage to engage all targets. My path started by stepping to the left, grabbing a magazine left on that side of the table, and engaging the three center and far right targets. Moving to the right end of the table, I engaged the far left target, then grabbing a magazine from that end of the table, reloading, and backing down the wall to get the outside target, finishing at the opposite wall and last target. Other shooters opted to circle the course, starting and ending at opposite ends of the table. Stages that offer many options are always fun to shoot and observe. Alas, I was -3 for the stage.

The Cavalier match on this warm November morning offered a welcome chance to visit with friends, and to get in a little range time. Though the round count was relatively low, the unique and interesting stages were a blast. It also shows that fun shooting doesn't rely on high round count. I felt really good about my shooting, although my placement of 21st of 31 Overall, and 12th of 23 in SSP would make one think otherwise. That finish, combined with a total of just 8 points down for the match, likely indicates to a general slowness of movement and shooting. Something I could probably improve on with a return to regular dry fire practice

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful morning, an extremely fun match, and a treat to see friends. And for that I couldn't be more thankful. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Post Turkey Smoke and Drink

After devouring a delicious Thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by Colleen, while the family "rested" in the living room, I sought my solace on the back deck. The sun had not yet set, and the temperature still hovered in the upper 60's. 

Lighting a Rocky Patel LB1, I contemplated a beverage. I'd been looking forward to a glass of bourbon as a digestive. However, we had enjoyed some bubbly Prosecco with dinner, so I continued that with the cigar.

The Rocky Patel LB1 boasts a smooth Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, along with a Honduran binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. Coffee, cedar, and a subtle earthiness make for a satisfying flavor profile, come through first. The medium bodied smoke starts off with a touch of spice, transitioning to a muted sweetness in the background.

To my delight, and some surprise, the crisp flavor of the Prosecco paired well with the smoke. As the sun set and the cigar neared the its end, the call went out that pie was being served. That was my cue to join the family inside. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Flying Dog Barleywine & Crowned Heads La Coalición

Plans for an an early logout from work on Thanksgiving Eve didn't go exactly as hoped, but I was still able to be ensconced on the screen porch before the sun set. It was a bit on the cool side, but nothing the Big Buddy propane heater couldn't counter. I dug through the basement stash and found a Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine. I am not sure how long the bottle has been sitting, but the paper label was faded and a little brittle. It's likely that this is a survivor from the beer tasting we hosted in the summer of 2013. I was confident the 10.2% ABV drink had aged well. 

The Horn Dog Barley Wine poured a translucent reddish brown color. The carbonation level was low despite the brief appearance of a beige head. The aroma was that of sweet caramel with a hint of alcohol. The flavor profile was rich with dark fruit notes like raisin and fig. A mild caramel and brown sugar sweetness lingered underneath to tease the palate. Even after some seven years, there was an aspect of booziness in the flavor still. All and all, this was an enjoyable libation. Alas, after double checking the fridge, it was the lone bottle hidden away.

The cigar choice for the before-dinner repast was the Crowned Heads La Coalición. This cigar is the fruit of a collaboration between Crowned Heads and Drew Estate. This particular stick is a 5 ½ x 50 Gordito vitola. It features a very oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper over a Sumatra binder leaf. Tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua makes up the filler. The stick starts off with a spicy kick of pepper and cedar. Dark chocolate, espresso, and a sweet nuttiness make appearances throughout the smoke. The pepper notes seemed to decrease as the smoke progressed. Or perhaps that was the numbing effect of the ale.

I nursed the beer and the cigar for almost 90 minutes. The flavor combinations were enjoyable and complimentary. I have more of the La Coalición sticks on hand, and look forward to pairing them with other strong beers and whiskies.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation. 
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington
Although President Washington proclaimed this day of thanksgiving and prayer in 1789, the Thanksgiving Day we celebrate today didn't become a national holiday until 1863 when President Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you a day filled with family, friends, and fond memories. May God bless your life with His gifts today and everyday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Classic

This never gets old. It just wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving if I didn't laugh at this again.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Saturday by the Fire

It's was a relaxing weekend in general. After spending a little time Saturday morning clearing some underbrush and fallen trees, we decided to spend the better part of the day relaxing around the fire pit. After getting the fire started, and pouring a couple beers for Colleen and I, the first cigar I lit was the Micallef A

The Micallef A was first introduced last spring as the "To Be Named Maduro." The preview of the cigar gave members of the Micallef Ambassador program the opportunity to try the cigar and suggest a name for the final release. The final naming as simply 'A' is to honor the Micallef Ambassadors.

Micallef A features a Nicaraguan Maduro wrapper, an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The 6¾ x 54 Churchill is the only vitola offered. When I smoked the preview stick, there were frequent burn touchups required to maintain an even burn line. The experience this time still required touchups, though they were less frequent. However, the wrapper peeled away from the cut end in several chunks, leaving only binder exposed for the last one inch of the stick that I held in my mouth.

Despite the construction issues, the flavor of the stick was quite enjoyable. A rich coffee and chocolate "mocha" profile dominated. There was a bit of pepper spice that built towards the finish. I paired a Lagunitas IPA with the Micallef A, and the stick lasted well into my second pint.

With the fire burning strong, and the sun starting to slip behind the trees, I returned to the humidor for a Fratello DMV Delaware (2019.) The cigars of the 2019 release of the DMV series all have an Ecuadorian binder with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. Different wrapper leaves gives the variation between the four cigars in the annual release. The Delaware sports a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. 

The 5 x 47 stick burned well and held a long ash. The flavor profile was full bodied with dark chocolate and espresso backed by cedar and pepper. I also detected a bit of leather and wood coming through. I have enjoyed all of the Fratello DMV variations I have tried, and this was no exception.

It was eventually time to stop feeding the fire and head inside for a late dinner. I hated to walk away from the smoky pleasures, but tomorrow was another day holding the expectation of more cigars before the weekend wound down.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Remembering Blessed Miguel Pro

[Reposted from November 23, 2013.]

November 23 is the Feast Day of Blessed Miguel Pro. Born on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Pro was ordained a Jesuit priest in Belgium in 1925. He returned to his home country in 1926, in the midst of that country's Cristeros War. After being falsely accused of an attempted bombing, Father Pro was executed by government forces without trial

Blessed Miguel Pro's final request was to be allowed to pray to his heavenly Father.

After which he refused a blindfold and faced the firing squad bravely, proclaiming ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Father Pro's executioners initially failed at their task, and the deed was finished at point blank range.

I am saddened, but hardly surprised, at the ignorance of the American public regarding the persecution of Catholics, and of the Cristero War that took place in Mexico in 1926 through 1929. Some 250,000 people lost their lives in a persecution that was supported by the government of the United States with both funds and air support. Given the ever-growing intolerance towards Christians, especially Catholics, in the United States, we would do well to remember.

Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.

Images from Wikipedia.