Sunday, March 7, 2021

Even More Repetition - ThisTime It's Okay

As we begin the second year of "two weeks to flatten the curve," life can seem a bit repetitive. How many times have you thought, "What day is it?" But sometimes more of the same, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

After doing a bit (a very small bit) of pre-spring yard work this weekend, I enjoyed a relaxing cigar on the deck. After opening each drawer in the humidor several times, I finally selected a Foundation Tabernacle to smoke. More indecisive searching followed in the beer fridge, before I grabbed a Lost Colony Hatteras Red Ale. The Red Ale was a leftover from our fall trip to the Outer Banks. 


Both the beer and the cigar have been mentioned in these Musings previously. The Tabernacle is especially persistent in its appearances. Knowing I've mentioned these things previously, I looked through previous postings and came across this post from December. That's when the déjà vu hit me and I did a double take. That picture…


As I've lamented often of late, "I really need to get out more." One other interesting note, the temperature during that December outing was actually warmer than it was for the March setting.

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Damp and Cool IDPA Match

For just the second time this year, I was able to hit the range and enjoy a fun IDPA match. I opted to shoot the Compact SIG P320 in the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) division at the monthly match held at the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Cub. I've only shot this gun a few times in the last two years, so it would be interesting to compete with so little practice. The day of the match was prognosticated to be wet and cool, and indeed it was. Sadly, though I'd spent the last week watching the rain percentage column of the weather app, I'd paid little attention to the temperature prediction. After a couple warm days, I was slightly underdressed for the weather, but persevered. 

Our squad's first stage had us standing in a "cage" of sorts, with a low horizontal port to the front, and a vertical port on the two sides. There were two small steel poppers in the front, and two paper targets to each side. The course of fire consisted of two strings. Each string requiring us to engage one popper and one paper target on each side. The preferred method of engagement for most shooters was to step back and to one side where we could shot a close target to one side, and further one on the other, then drop down to engage a popper. I shot this stage -2. 



Next up, more steel. I suppose steel is a good choice for a rainy day. Our second stage had three poppers shot in the open followed by three paper targets from behind cover on either side of the stage. I was -1 on this quick stage.



When I first walked into the next bay, I saw barrels. Just barrels. But approaching the stage, it was apparent that there were five paper targets well hidden from view behind the barrels. As one walked across the front fault line left to right, the targets came into view, but just barely. Adding to one's chances of hitting a barrel, each target required three hits each. It was a fun stage, and I must have found my rhythm at that point, and even warmed up a bit. I was -0, and even placed third overall on the stage.



Next we shot a dreaded, to me, speed stage. I think I've had more misses on up close targets than distant targets over the years. We started with a close target requiring two body shots and one head shot, then engaged three more head-only targets with one shot each. On the first head-only target on the left, I either shot too soon, or moved away too fast and fired a miss. I even went back to look at the target at the end, and studied the target for a moment trying to see the hit, then decided there was an edge hit and called it good. In retrospect, I should have gone ahead and took a makeup shot. Instead I ended up -6 for the stage.



The final stage we shot started with our unloaded gun and all magazines placed on a table. There were three open targets in front of us, and four more to be engaged from two points of cover. Shooters had to decide how and when to reload or stow magazines. Shooters in most divisions chose to do a tactical reload at the table after shooting the first three targets. Since I was shooting in CCP, I had only 8 rounds in each magazine instead of the ten I was used to from shooting in SSP. Once I thought it through, I think he lower capacity was a benefit on this stage.



At the starting beep, I stowed one magazine, then loaded and engaged the first three targets. Shooting the lone target at the first point of cover used up the eight rounds, and I could reload on the move to the next cover position. There I shot the last three targets. This was another -0 stage, and my second best finish overall.

Despite the dreary weather, and my admitted reticence to leave the house in the morning, it turned into a very fun morning with friends. The club was using rain shields on the targets which avoided the aggregation of shooting through and pasting under plastic bags. And as a bonus, I felt generally good about my shooting. I placed 10th of 28 overall. I was the only CCP shooter among the small group of shooters who braved the weather. The round count was low, but the stages were interesting, and fun. Between the lower round count and quick stages, we were done shooting in about 2½ hours. It was a most pleasant way to spend a rainy morning.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

St. Gabriel Possenti: Patron Saint of Handgunners

Today, February 27, is the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti.

Legend holds that Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the tradition associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense. Sadly, the founder of the group died in 2017 and it appears the organization is no longer active.


A few years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the title St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are now familiar with the Saint and his story.

In another interesting "coincidence," my Virginia Concealed Handgun permit was originally issued on February 27, the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners!

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

Today would be a great day to hit the range. If that's not possible, maybe I'll buy some extra ammo instead, if I can find any for sale at a reasonable price.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Two Warm Days, and Cigars

After several weeks of cold weather and seemingly endless winter precipitation, we were treated to a couple days of warmer weather this week. Of course, I took advantage of that tease of spring to sit outside on the deck.

On the first day of the brief warming trend, I rushed outside right after dinner with a bottle of Elijah Craig bourbon and a CAO Pilón to go along with the libation. The sun would soon be setting and I did resort to turning on the heater at my feet. Nonetheless the hour long smoke and sips of bourbon provided a good digestive. The cigar's creamy cocoa and nutty notes were a good match for the vanilla and oak in the mild-mannered bourbon.


The next day proved to be even warmer, creeping up over 60° for a short time. I was even able to finally get the thick layer of ice off the sidewalk to the front porch. To my delight all my Zoom meetings for the day ended by mid-afternoon. My thoughtful wife prepared our dinner early so there'd be more time afterwards to enjoy the outside before the sun set and temperature ultimately dropped.

The selection for this evening was Liga Undercrown Maduro paired with Starr Hill Little Red Roostarr Stout. The Undercrown is a favorite stick, and I've enjoyed many of them in the Robusto vitola. This time I opted for the larger Toro. The familiar espresso, cocoa sweetness, and dark fruit flavors were present, although I felt they were less pronounced than in the smaller stick. The sweet chocolate and vanilla of the stout paired well.


By the time the two hour smoke ended, the sun had set. I resorted to adding a sweatshirt, but never needed the heater. I must say, it's been a while since I enjoyed the deck without supplemental heat. The spring preview was short-lived, but was a welcome reminder that warmer weather is just a few weeks away.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

A Lenten Sacrifice

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers.

The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.

This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

'Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening - he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all..."

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well... It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."

Friday, February 12, 2021

Powstanie Broadleaf Short Perfecto

We had a brief respite from the cold mid-week when the temperatures hit 50° in the afternoon. I decided enjoy an after dinner smoke on the deck. Even though the temperature dropped while I smoked, it was still an unseasonably temperate setting, though I did eventually fire up the heater.

A few weeks ago I picked up a few Powstanie Broadleaf Short Perfectos. The Powstanie Broadleaf is one of my favorite smokes, but I had never tried the Short Perfecto vitola. The small 5x50 perfecto seemed perfect for a quick smoke. 



Like the other size offerings, the blend features a Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over an Indonesian binder. Estelí Ligero, Jalapa and Pueblo Nuevo tobaccos are the filler tobaccos. It's a full-flavored smoke, with creamy chocolate, wood and cedar spice treating the palate.
 


I got an hour's worth of enjoyment out of this little stick. That was just long enough to coincide with the sun setting and the evening chill setting in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Saint José Sánchez del Río

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed by Mexican troops for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory." The young martyr was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005, and later canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.

The Saint's story is one with which few American Catholics are familiar. That is a tragedy in its own right. Though they might not know the Saint's story, many Americans are no doubt familiar with his face. The picture, shown below, of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that is often seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for religious freedom is looking down at them while they eat.


After José was captured by government forces fighting the Cristero, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholic countrymen, yet he never wavered in his faithful resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood as a final act of defiance.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong when our own persecution comes.


Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Snow, Sun, a Cigar, and a Beer

The predicted Sunday winter storm was, fortunately, a bust. It snowed quite heavily for a few hours in the morning, but then the sun came out, the temperature approached 40° and the woods soon sounded like a summer rainfall as the snow melted from the trees. It was still cool, but there was little wind in the air. I took advantage of the sun to enjoy some deck time.


The beer selection was Starr Hill 2 Tone Vanilla Porter. This beer pours nearly black in color with a thin mocha head. The aroma is sweet vanilla and caramel. Sipping gives flavors of espresso, cocoa, and a very mild vanilla sweetness. The mouthfeel is light with a lingering hint of bitterness.

Not knowing how long I had before the sun went behind the clouds, I grabbed a moderately small stick. The Southern Draw Quickdraw Pennsylvania Broadleaf is a small 5" x 46 Corona Gorda but it still gave a 75 minute smoke — lasting much longer than the 12 ounces of beer.

The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper hides a Nicaraguan binder, and Honduran and Nicaraguan fillers. The predominate flavors are cocoa and coffee, with a touch spice. The cigar's flavor melded well with that of the porter. 

The initial weather prognostications indicating the day would be spent indoors were thankfully inaccurate, allowing for a surprisingly pleasant and restful Sunday afternoon.