Running for a purpose…

Megan after finishing the Air Force Marathon

2016: Megan Shew achieves part of her dream…

 

Sometimes a hero runs toward the thing that everyone else is running away from. And sometimes a hero just runs…

Such is the case with Mason, OH resident Megan Shew, who is preparing for her long-awaited shot at the October 22 Marine Corps Marathon. It’s tough enough to secure a slot in the Leatherneck race, let alone to finish the grueling 26.2 mile course. And it is tougher still when you suffer from a chronic illness that saps your strength and feeds on your exhaustion!

Megan grew up dreaming of becoming a Marine. Military service was a way of life in her family: Her father served in the Army, her stepdad and her sister in the Air Force, and her brother, Brian, is a Marine.

Brian has always been my hero, and, as silly as it may sound, running this marathon is very emotional for me. It is the closest I will ever get to my dream of being a Marine,” Megan explains. “I know there is no comparison, but running this race, in some tiny way, makes up for my impossible dream.”

Her dream became impossible before it even had time to blossom. In 1982, at the age of 11, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The diagnosis came after an extended period of abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite and exhaustion. Although Megan didn’t know it at the time, Doctors were grimly predicting cancer.

She had just entered the sixth grade and weighed in at a meager 52 pounds. “I had no energy, no strength… just getting on and off the bus was a challenge. My bus driver would stop and wait for my mom to get to the bus door so she could help me into the house.”

When Megan was finally admitted to Children’s Medical Center in Cincinnati, a week of relentless tests and examinations produced the sobering diagnosis of Crohn’s.

The chronic condition has a broad range of symptoms but typically involves inflammation of the digestive tract that leads to severe abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea or vomiting, and numerous other issues. It would be a challenging diagnosis for anyone, but especially for a young girl on the brink of her teen years.

Living With Crohn’s
Megan quickly found herself adjusting to a new way of life that included steroid injections and up to 22 assorted pills per day. It was a frustrating and confusing time and Megan’s friends attempted to draw her out and get her involved in activities that might distract her from the indignities of Crohn’s.

When she was invited to join the Cross Country team, Megan’s first meet resulted in an excruciating run that seemed to stretch on forever, leaving her embarrassed and exhausted. “Not only did I come in dead last, but the next race started and they just kept lapping me, time and time again, until that race finished too! I was running and getting out of breath and then walking, then repeating the same sequence over and over…but when I finally crossed the finish line, everyone was screaming for me. Both teams! Both teams’ friends and family congratulated me for sticking it out and finishing the race,” Megan recalls.

Despite the encouragement from onlookers, she was mortified by her performance and never returned to the team. But the desire to run had taken root, in spite of her body’s lack of cooperation. She tried running again after graduating from high school, but she could only manage a couple miles at a time. Still, it was at this point that she began to cautiously and quietly dream of someday running a marathon. But there were other races to be run in the meantime…

By the year 2000, after giving birth to her son Michael, Megan was still facing an uphill battle with the symptoms and side-effects of Crohn’s.

I was terribly overweight after my pregnancy and I began running again, thanks to the encouragement of a former boss who had become a friend. But I still couldn’t get past three miles,” Megan recalls. “To make matters worse, I was diagnosed with asthma! Every time I’d try to increase my miles, the Crohn’s would get worse.”

Once again, she was forced to abandon the idea of ever pressing beyond that three-mile limit. Then, in 2009, she was admitted to the hospital during a severe Crohn’s attack; so severe, in fact, that she thought she might be dying.

I’m not convinced I wasn’t,” she says now. “I was so dehydrated that my veins were blowing up each time they tried to insert an IV. I had to have a special device implanted in my chest to help the medicine go into my body without destroying my veins.”

She was placed back on steroids and given high doses of other medications, including one called Remicade that worked well for about 18 months…“until my body began rejecting it, which sent me into anaphylactic shock. The doctor had to discontinue it altogether.”

The Breaking Point
She had no sooner begun to mend from this episode when she had yet another serious flare-up that resulted in a ten-day hospital stay. She was exhausted, in pain, depressed, and unable to function in any normal manner. “The steroids packed on even more weight, and I was now on antidepressants in addition to everything else. I lived like a hermit, terrified to leave the house for fear of having a Crohn’s related “accident.” I couldn’t even work a three-hour-a-day job or walk through a parking lot without getting winded. I could barely stand up straight…

But, then, one night, she dreamed that her father, who had died in 2010, sat down with her and explained that if she didn’t make some lifestyle changes, she would be spending her next birthday with him. It was the wake-up call she needed.

Once again, Megan began to push herself; this time with a sense of urgency and a new resolve.  She started slowly this time, walking regularly, beginning in April 2013.

My first goal was to lose 10 pounds. My next goal was to be able to slide my engagement ring back onto my finger. The day I hit 25 pounds lost, I tried the ring and it reluctantly slid on,” she recalls. “I pray that I always remember exactly how I felt that day. My husband Kevin was standing next to me, totally clueless about what I was doing. When that ring fit over my finger, I burst into tears and collapsed into his arms, completely overcome with emotion. The poor guy had no idea what was going on!

That little victory spurred her onward, though not without the occasional stumbling block. Several days later, she was half-a-mile into a two mile walk and already feeling frustrated with her progress. She passed an old man tending a garden, and noticed that his legs were bandaged and banged up, and that he was steadying himself with a walker…yet there he was, doggedly weeding a patch of land around a flagpole.

Here was this man who was in much worse shape that I was at that point, yet he was still outside doing yard work! I got so angry at myself for MY pity party, that I walked seven miles instead of two.”

Megan caught him outside several days later and thanked him for his inspiration. “His name is Roy and I’ve never seen him since. I drive that road every day, sometimes four times a day and, every time, without exception, I look for him,” she says.

In the wake of that life-altering experience, she began to push herself harder…jogging the last quarter mile home until she was breathless, then walking for a bit, then jogging again, if only for a few seconds, then resting, and then pushing through again and again.

Megan recalled that a friend from high school was a runner and she began quizzing her about methods and inspiration. Through Regina, Megan learned about Olympian Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method. This technique, coupled with her friend’s encouragement, was the final piece to the puzzle. Suddenly Megan’s dream of competitive running seemed within reach.

And though she knew she would never become a Marine herself, a new dream was born: to complete the Marine Corps Marathon. One of the top marathons in the country, the very best runners vie for a slot in the Marine Corps run.

Gaining Ground
As Megan’s endurance and determination increased, she mastered longer and longer runs. In fact, after repeatedly being turned down for the Marine Corps race, she set her sights on running in the Air Force Marathon. And in September 2016, she achieved that goal.

I finished in six hours and 47 minutes, with just 13 minutes to spare. I stopped to shake hands with, and thank, every service member I encountered along the course. It was an incredible experience,” she says. “I don’t know how to explain how it felt to cross that finish line, and to cross it in time. I sobbed as an airman put the medal around my neck. Once I caught my breath I was on cloud nine, it was like being on a high. It took a week for me to realize it was real.”

Finally finishing a marathon was part of the dream – but it wasn’t the WHOLE dream.

In 2017, Megan got the news she had been waiting for…she was in; come October she would be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC! In a Facebook post asking for sponsors, Megan explains that, “This fall, I will be waiting behind the starting line, waiting for the starter’s gun, waiting for the most important 26.2 miles of my life, waiting to ‘run with purpose’ and ‘finish with pride.’”

But she isn’t simply running to prove a point or even to thumb her nose at her Crohn’s; instead she’s running to honor her heroes and to support America’s veterans.

Her purpose, first and foremost, is honoring her brother Brian and those like him who sacrifice and serve in our nation’s Armed Forces. “Without men and women like Brian, who protect and defend us, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we enjoy in this great country we call home,” she explains, adding that she is also running on behalf of an organization that enriches the lives of American military veterans through physical and social activities. Team RWB (Red, White and Blue) focuses on creating quality relationships and experiences for veterans that will contribute to their life satisfaction and overall wellbeing. The organization emphasizes enrichment consisting of three core components – health, people, and purpose – and they achieve their mission via two core programs: a Chapter and Community Program and a Leadership Development Program.

While running this marathon is a tribute to my brother’s service, and to all who have served, it is also a great opportunity to raise awareness and funds for American veterans in need. While I am putting in the hard training miles, and finally finishing my own 26.2 mile journey, I want each step to be a step forward for Team RWB, so they can continue to help our veterans every day,” Megan explains.

Support ‘Team Megan’
Her Facebook post includes a link to support her effort – https://donate.teamrwb.org/fundraiser/982292 —  and she writes, “As you go to the fundraising page to donate, please think about the veterans in YOUR life. I want to use this as an opportunity to recognize as many as possible. It would be great if every donation were associated with a specific veteran or active duty service member. If you want to honor your brother who served, please donate and be sure to list his name in the comments. If you want to honor your sister and your grandfather, make your donation and name them both in the comments. Any donation, large or small, will help Team RWB continue to do their great work for veterans. And it would mean the world to me to have hundreds of veterans to carry in my heart, to remember, and to honor as I train and compete.”

After a lifetime of fighting — and overcoming — daunting challenges, Megan Shew is running this race and reaching for this inspiring dream not to draw attention to her own battle but, rather, as a way to celebrate the service and sacrifice of others. And although she admits that she does not accept praise comfortably, she just may have to get over that. For it is clear, even if she never steps across another finish line, that she is already a champion – and the living embodiment of the Marine Corps motto – Semper Fi (always faithful).

Please sign up today to support this courageous woman in her effort to honor our veterans and achieve a dream.

Picture of a champion

Portrait of a Champion

Megan Running the Air Force Marathon

Megan heads toward the finish line at the 2016 Air Force Marathon.

With friends at the 2014 Tutu 5 miler

Megan and friends at a 2014 “Tutu 5-miler.”

Advertisements

Safe Havens across America

One goal of this blog is to embrace and promote those products or businesses that support the rights guaranteed under the constitution…including the Second Amendment.

I want to spotlight companies that welcome concealed carry permit holders, as well as those products that encourage security, promote constitutional values, and are, whenever possible, MADE in America!

In Ohio, for instance, the Kroger corporation made a point of letting shoppers know that they welcomed lawful gun owners who carried. Conversely, Panera Bread made it known that they did NOT want permit holders to carry their concealed weapons on the premises (even though they would be CONCEALED.)

I’m not a big fan of boycotts but I am a big fan of spending my money wisely. I made up my mind several years ago that, as much as I loved Panera, I had no desire to spend my hard-won dollars with someone who, under the right circumstances, would deny me my constitutional rights. More pragmatically, I have no desire to hang out in a place where criminals believe no one is armed. If I am a robber, where am I going to commit a crime…in a store that welcomes gun owners or in one that says “hey, we’re a gun free establishment”??? Well, that’s a no-brainer!

So, part of the role of “Safe Haven” is to make you aware of those places that truly have the potential to be “safe havens.” And I’m not just talking about pro-gun establishments, but also those that embrace freedom and ALL our constitutional liberties (and obligations). I also want to hear American success stories — businesses and individuals who have parlayed freedom into a professional success story that will inspire and uplift us all.

There is much to celebrate in this great country of ours; so many people who are embracing the benefits of liberty while happily shouldering its responsibilities. Safe Haven wants to shine a light on all those who work hard, stand up for what’s right, and fight for the freedoms guaranteed by our founding fathers. Please help us in this mission by making us aware of: businesses that honor our second amendment, individuals with a great American story, and products or services that are made in the USA!! You can email us at SafeHaveAmerica@gmail.com or post a comment on this blog.

Thank you and have a safe and FUN Independence Day (and remember to give thanks for our men and women in uniform…be it military, law enforcement or fire!)

American Flag Wallpaper

 

The Blog Formerly Known as Thyme

cropped-2safe-haven.png

The blog formerly known as “Thyme” is changing its name. I personally loved the concept of Thyme, which, in the herb family symbolizes strength, courage and conviction. Then again, for a blog that talks a lot about guns, maybe greenery just didn’t quite fit the bill.

So, after much thought and reflection (and my husband trying unsuccessfully to find any defensible relationship between herbs and weapons) I decided on a better name, one that symbolizes and unites the varied topics this blog may cover.

Safe Haven.

In my opinion, there is no haven more secure than one that is protected by skilled and safe shooters. There is evil in this world, sadly, and, if it comes knocking at my door, I want some way to level the playing field. Firearms do just that.

But this blog is about much more than just guns…it is about a lifestyle, a lifestyle that is personified by the Second Amendment and our many rights and responsibilities as Americans.

Those of us who value our constitutional freedoms have many things in common. We may be different races or different religions; we may live in different geographies or embrace different attitudes; but we share a passion for independence and personal accountability. We are more likely to believe in a higher power. We are more likely to find big government annoying and distasteful. We are more likely to reach out a helping hand to those in need. We are more likely to be suspicious of elected officials, media types, and other self-appointed mouthpieces who tell us they want to do things “for your own good.” We cherish home and family and we still savor a multi-course meal around a sprawling table packed with family and friends; a meal that starts with a prayer and ends with a rollicking discussion, or debate, about the state of the nation and the world. We don’t agree on everything…sometimes, we don’t agree on anything — but, dammit, we’ll defend to the death that right to disagree.

So this blog is the first step in a project that will seek to unite those of us who hunt and shoot and value freedom above all else. “Lifestyle” has become a huge buzzword today…and every company in the country targets specific lifestyles for their common tastes, purchasing habits, or other demographic features. Well, to my mind, we folk who own guns, love liberty and still believe in hard work, a hand up, and a hearty meal are the ORIGINAL American lifestyle. Indeed, we are, and always have been, a true and lasting Safe Haven.

Stay tuned for articles, offers and ideas that fall under any or all of the Safe Haven sub categories: Faith, Firearms, Family, Food and Fun (and everything in between). We will be switching domains too, but, for now, you can still find us at Thyme.blog.

Thanks for reading and welcome aboard (again…)

 

Being a good retail customer

In a previous blog entry I tackled the expectations a customer should have when visiting a firearms retailer. Today, let’s turn the tables and dissect the topic from the other side of the counter.

Gun shops, just like every other retailer in the country, exist for one purpose — to make a profit. There may be many other, more noble reasons for their existence, but the bottom line is: if a profit isn’t made, nothing else matters. Doors close. Lights go out. Employees are dismissed. So it’s important that shop owners and employees alike remember that the goal is to acquire — and retain — customers. Doing so demands more than good prices or a convenient location; it requires knowledge, patience, and a spirit of service.

BUT — it is equally important for the customer to put some effort into being the kind of patron that makes a salesperson break into a grin. By earning the status of “valued customer” you have also earned a lifelong resource for firearms information, accessories and activities. You’ve earned unbiased opinions and technical advice from folks who live and breathe gun stuff. And, on those rare occasions when something goes wrong with your brand new firearm, you simply have to hand it to your pals behind the counter and let them fight with the manufacturer. You just can’t get that from a mail order company and you often can’t get it from a mega store that just happens to have a gun department! A real “mom and pop” shop staffed by true blue “gun goobers” is always a customer’s best bet.

It’s kinda like dating; you want to be the best possible person so that you attract the best possible person! So what can you do to become the best customer…thus attracting the best retail support?

Recommendation 1:  Know the basic rules of gun handling — or ask the salesperson to instruct you. I used to cringe when I handed a gun across the counter and the customer’s first action was to crook their finger around the trigger and point that muzzle straight at me! Of course, when you work behind a gun counter, you actually get used to having guns pointed at you. It happens all day long, but it’s usually just for an instant, and it’s virtually unavoidable in a busy shop. Still, it is easier to concentrate on providing good service when you are dealing with someone who already understands that fingers stay off triggers and muzzles stay pointed up or down. And no, I don’t necessarily expect a beginner to know these things — but I do expect them to ask.

Recommendation 2: If you are visiting a gun shop to look at guns, please be willing to touch them. Seriously, I’ve had to literally wrap fingers and thumbs around the grip, while the customer holds the gun at arm’s length, visibly repulsed. Most often, it is a female patron with a hubby, boyfriend or dad who is determined to get her interested in shooting. It rarely works. But, every so often, even a female on her own gets skittish about handling a gun. If you are serious enough to be considering a gun purchase, please understand that achieving firearms proficiency requires actually holding the weapon!

So long as you’re shopping at a professional operation, nothing bad is going to happen. The gun will not discharge, explode, or otherwise harm you. Trust your sales person and let him or her walk you through the mechanics of gun handling.

Recommendation 3: Be respectful of the salesperson’s time. Playing a game of 20 questions is fine if the shop isn’t crowded. As I say repeatedly, a gun shop should be an informational resource for new shooters. BUT, if the counter is stacked 5 deep and the sales staff are running around like ants on crack, it might be better to see if you can make an appointment for a one-on-one consultation. Many gun shops will accommodate this, or, at a minimum, ask someone when it might be more convenient to pop in with a list of questions. (Caveat: if they act like you’re crazy for having a list of questions, you are in the wrong shop anyway, so move along!)

Recommendation 4: Don’t dismantle the gun without asking (this doesn’t usually apply to newbies…but often applies to the friends they bring with them). You may know how — and you may want to show your buddies that you know how — but that gun doesn’t belong to you yet. As soon as you sign form 4473 and pass the background check, you can proceed to dismantle your new toy (depending on whether your state allows you to take it home immediately). If you’re not sure how to take it apart, most counter staff will gladly demonstrate the process. But we do get tired of having to pause and reassemble a gun that you “coulda sworn went back together easier than that.”

Recommendation 5: If you are seriously planning to ask questions and gather information, please don’t bring your know-it-all father/brother/boyfriend/husband who wants to show off his knowledge (and who is probably already annoyed that you aren’t relying solely on his advice.) It’s been my experience that your male friend/relative often lacks some of the information you are seeking (and you probably know that, or you wouldn’t be questioning your local gun goober). As your salesperson, I don’t want to have to correct your beloved, but if he is giving you bad information, I kinda have to say something! Like the fellow who insisted to his petite and timid novice shooter girlfriend that an Airweight .357 magnum would be very comfortable for her to shoot (uh…not likely); or the guy who insisted to his wife (and her shooting instructor) that a Ruger single action .22 cowboy revolver was a “great carry gun” (uh…double no); or the fellow who argued that setting the safety on a Sig P238 was “optional” (oh, hell, no). A good salesperson knows when to shut up and not interfere with family dynamics — but when those dynamics involve a potentially bad, or tragic, decision on your part, we HAVE to speak up. If you want to avoid an uncomfortable situation, come to the gun shop solo and ask your questions. Then you can research the information for yourself and have a follow-up discussion with your all-knowing spouse/boyfriend/father.

Recommendation 6: Have a price range in mind. My hubby spends his days asking shoppers what type of gun they are looking for and, most important, how much they want to spend. “Knowing their budget helps me narrow the list to 4 or 5 guns that we can compare and contrast,” he explains. “I hate it when someone says ‘I want the best’ without understanding what that really means.  So I hand them an Ed Brown and they almost faint at the price tag. You have to have some idea of what you can afford to pay. The bottom line is, don’t waste your local Ferrari dealer’s time when all you can afford is a Volkswagen.”

Recommendation 7: Don’t expect a rush job. The process of buying a gun, from start to finish, takes a minimum of roughly 20-30 minutes. Even if you walk in with a specific gun in mind, there’s still paperwork to be done, there’s still a process. “It’s like telling your doctor you want the surgery but you only have 15 minutes to spare,” my hubby grumbles good-naturedly. “And if you’re gun shopping on a day when three-quarters of the country has the same idea — like Black Friday — be prepared to wait even longer!” And he’s right — I’ve seen the national background check service become so overwhelmed that it simply shuts down. Meanwhile, customers are pacing in frustration, sometimes threatening “to go buy my gun somewhere else.” Well good luck with that. If the system is down…it’s down EVERYWHERE!

Recommendation 8: Don’t blame the individual gun shop for following the rules. Yes, you need photo ID with a current address. No, your buddy can’t fill out the form for you. No, you can’t buy that handgun yet, even though you’ll be 21 in four weeks. No, we can’t make an exception for your domestic violence conviction, even though you’re no longer married to that person. And no, the special military pricing for Glock Blue Label products doesn’t apply to you if you’re still in ROTC. Firearms dealers can get in serious trouble if they don’t follow the rules.  If you find one who offers to “cut you a deal,” with a wink and a nod, you should run as fast and as far away from him as you can.

So there you have it: A few well-intentioned tips for beginners (or those who can’t figure out why the sales staff runs and hides when you walk through the door). Building a solid relationship takes work, and the best customer-merchant connections happen when each party is considerate and appreciative of the other.
In fact, that’s a pretty good recipe for ALL relationships!

All shapes and sizes

There are all kinds of guns out there waiting to be purchased and properly used. The best way to find what you want and need (at a price you’re happy to pay) is by building a long-term relationship with a trustworthy and professional firearms retailer.

The BEST carry gun?

CourtneyThe popularity of concealed carry permits over the past decade has given rise to a marketplace revolution of light, lean shooting ma­chines. Suddenly, every popular full-sized handgun has a “mini me” version, suitable for easy concealment and swift action.

Experienced shooters may understand that there are trade-offs between your dependable, hefty handgun and its more nimble sports car model, but novices sometimes leap at the first cute little compact that sparkles at them under the counter lights.

When I was in counter sales, I would cringe when a father/son/husband/boyfriend would tap the glass above a Kel-Tec P3AT, Ruger LCP, or Taurus TCP and enthusiastically tell his daughter/sister/wife/girlfriend “this’ll fit you perfectly!”

Yes, fit is a big issue with firearms, and something that must be considered when selecting a gun, but there are many other fac­tors of equal or greater importance, especially when you are dealing with first-time shooters.

You MAY carry a gun… but SHOULD you?

The availability of CCW/CHL (Concealed Carry Weapon/Concealed Handgun License) per­mits has prompted a lot of folks to excitedly put the cart before the horse when it comes to firearms. They take whatever training their state requires to get that prized permit, without giving much thought to what they will carry, if they will actually carry, and whether they have the mental fortitude and physical skill to actually use the weapon if necessary.

A GOOD CHL class will force stu­dents to consider these things – however temporarily – but firearms curriculum varies broadly from state to state. And, even in more stringent states, instructors run the gamut in skill, knowl­edge, and commitment to “doing it right.”

For the men who goad their wives into classes – and the wom­en who agree to do so “only if I can use a cute little gun, because I don’t like those big, loud ones,” – the unfortunate truth is that, when it comes to recoil, accu­racy, overall ergonomic fit, and whatever else you want to throw into the mix, size does matter. But not the way you may think.

You don’t purchase a con­cealed carry weapon for the same reasons you might purchase a full-sized gun. Your .40 cal Glock G35, Springfield XD-M 9 mm, or Sig Sauer 1911 .45 ACP may be the perfect home defense gun and a blast (pun intended) to shoot on the range, but you may quickly devel­op an intimate relationship with your chiropractor if you decide to routinely carry one on your hip or in your purse.

The P3ATs and LCPs, by contrast, are not much heavier than your average wallet. But that doesn’t mean they are neces­sarily well-suited to the needs of a novice shooter. If you plan to carry a concealed firearm, you have one objective and one alone: personal defense. You need to know what your concealed carry weapon is…and what it isn’t.

Mini me pistols have limited value

The “mini me” revolver or pis­tol is a niche weapon designed for a very narrow tactical objective. It requires advanced training and a clear understanding of its inherent weaknesses if you hope to use it effectively for self defense.

For instance, a smooth pro­file, the very design element that makes it easy to slide your CCW gun swiftly from your pocket holster, also makes it harder to aim. The sights on a traditional TCP, LCP, and similar models are virtually non-existent, because their pres­ence would pose snagging issues if you had to yank your gun from your waistband or pocket holster in an adrenaline-stoked panic. More recent LCP models – the LCP Custom in 2015 and, to a lesser extent, the new LCP II, have attempted to improve the sight issue. It’s almost academic, though, because in a personal defense situation, I promise that you won’t have time to carefully line up your attacker in those fancy high viz sights. The whole purpose of those Kel-Tecs and Rugers is to have something that is easily drawn and quickly utilized. That requires practice…but their diminutive size poses other barriers to the casual afternoon range time that would enhance your skill and competence.

Novice shooters make the mistake of believing that a small gun somehow implies a light trig­ger pull and an absence of recoil. If they shot BB guns, CO2 pistols or even cap guns as children they may surmise that any light, small pistol is going to fire with similar ease.

In fact, part of the nature of many concealed carry guns is a heavy trigger pull which makes it much less likely that you will accidentally discharge the gun while fumbling with it. This is a nice safety ele­ment – especially on guns like the traditional LCP that have no manual external safety – but the long trigger pull makes it more physically demanding to shoot for long periods of time. And if you can’t or won’t invest some serious time into training with the pistol, you won’t develop the instinctive proficiency demanded by a high stress situation. The new LCP II MAY be a good solution for you, trigger wise. It boasts a lighter, crisper (but still very safe) trigger pull and easier racking on the slide, among several other much-needed improvements. I’ve not had the opportunity to shoot this model but the reviews I’ve read warn than it has a “snappier” recoil than the original. Yikes. For those of us with old wrists…or those with inexperienced wrists, “snappy” is not a good word.

Newbies pick up these tiny, lightweight firearms with the flawed thinking that small and light means comfortable to shoot. In fact, it is usually just the opposite.

Light does NOT mean mild

Small, light guns – of any caliber — can kick as much or more than their big, heavy counterparts. In fact, when a friend and I needed a couple of spent .50-cal. cartridges to show students in our NRA pistol class, it was with some trepidation that I squeezed the trigger on a Smith & Wesson 500 at a local range. The barrel was so long and the gun so heavy that my “girly side” was convinced the recoil would knock me into next week (plus I had seen that ridiculous internet video where some chick in a bathing suit knocks herself silly by limp-wristing an S&W 500). But common sense told me otherwise – and common sense won out. Indeed, the resulting kick jarred the web of my thumb and rattled my wrist a tad, but much less than I was expecting…and not THAT much more than your average lightweight carry gun in .380 or 9 mm.

Of course no one is advocat­ing concealing a full-sized .50-cal Desert Eagle in your pocket (okay, well someone might love the idea…but not me and not for beginners). The point is simply that many people – especial­ly new shooters – are not prepared for the hand-jarring recoil of a petite pistol.

To make matters worse, those who want to carry must contend with the pervasive and sometimes conde­scending argument that carrying a concealed .22 is less effective than whipping out a slingshot. Indeed, many CHL classes won’t allow students to qualify with a .22. Some purists argue that a .22 won’t dissuade a determined assailant and that rimfire ammu­nition is more unreliable.

My hubby has 28 years in law enforcement (many as a shooting instructor) and over a decade in gun shop management and sales. He argues that a .22 will serve a personal defense purpose quite nicely, especially if it’s the model you are comfortable with. In the end, he says, “it’s all about bullet placement, NOT caliber.”

He further makes the point that, if the individual is comfortable with the gun and enjoys shooting it for practice, they will naturally become more proficient at that all-important factor: bullet placement.

Not so wimpy, afterall

For new shooters, the .22 offers more physical comfort (less jarring to the hands) than larger caliber pocket pistols. It is also quieter (less jarring to the psyche) and cheaper (less jarring to the pock­etbook). These factors conspire to increase the likelihood that a novice will head to the range more often in order to become proficient. And, as we all know, the more fun you have and the better you shoot, the more likely you are to want to expand your horizons and step up to different models and calibers. So today’s timid .22 packin’ mama may be tomorrow’s take-no-pris­oners Glock totin’ diva.

Is a .22 pistol or revolver the be-all and end-all for personal defense? Maybe not (sorry hubby). But if you buy your girlfriend an S&W Airweight .38 Special and it gathers dust on the top shelf of her closet, who are you protecting? The gun you have in your pocket or purse is infinitely more useful than the one tucked into your sock drawer. And this never-ending .22 de­bate dovetails nicely with the final “misconception” of the day: that anyone can tell you what the “best” CHL/CCW gun is. Sooner or later, in every CHL class, someone raises their hand and asks “so, what’s the best gun to conceal and carry?”

What’s the BEST concealed carry gun?

There is an answer to that question. The problem is, that answer is different for everyone. The best gun? The one you like, use, and can actually hit some­thing with. The “best” gun fits your hand, your lifestyle, your physical and mental structure, your wallet, and your needs. It’s that simple. When you buy your first concealed carry gun, do your homework: miscon­ceptions are born of ignorance. Ask questions, study the maga­zines, go to your local range and rent the gun you are interested in buying.

And, please, don’t listen to anyone who says “this is the gun you need…” They may be right – but, in the end, the only person who can make that deci­sion is YOU.

Visiting a gun shop

Thyme logo

As I wrapped up writing “The Handgun Guide for Women” in 2015, I told my husband that I was adding a new chapter titled “How to Visit a Gun Shop.” John chuckled and said “That’ll be a short one. What’ll it say…’drive to the shop. Get out of your car. Go inside.” (He’s quite the humorist. Just ask him.)

My hubby’s levity notwithstanding, that particular chapter proved to be one of the most popular sections of the book. It was singled out by several reviewers, and, when I receive emails from readers, many mention it specifically.

Why? Because, despite our “I am woman; hear me roar” mentality in the 21st Century, there is still something a little intimidating about marching into the testosterone-drenched bastion of manliness that is your average gun shop. AND because, too often, the typically male sales staff either can’t or won’t make the effort to draw out the novice shooter.  If you are female, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that “sexism” is rearing its ugly head but I’ve spent enough time behind the gun counter to know that most guys really wish women were more interested in firearms, not less. It would be a darned sight easier to sneak that new Springfield into the house if sweetie pie was also a shooter!

Of course, there certainly are those men who believe women can’t, or shouldn’t, shoot. But my experience tells me they’re the minority. My hubby (who has worked for or managed four different gun shops since retiring from law enforcement) says that negative gun shop experiences are more often related to wages and training. “Most gun shops do not pay their staff exceedingly well and, except for the big box stores, most don’t offer any kind of comprehensive sales training,” he says. “As a result, you sometimes have less motivated — or generally unskilled — salespeople.”

But for women, who are often new shooters and already feeling awkward about their lack of knowledge, all those stern male faces behind the counter can seem pretty intimidating. More so, if the sales people act disinterested, uninspired, or downright hostile.

Case in point: I received a message last week from Texan Carolyn Tice, who wanted to share two recent (and very different) gun shop experiences.

My first try was at the mom and pop where I often visit the shooting range,” she explained. “I was considering three different Rugers at the time. However, the ‘kid’ behind the counter said he could only pull out one at a time. I spent a good amount of time waiting for him to pull out, then put back, then pull out, then put back, etc. The guns were very disorganized and he had to work the entire counter to find the guns I was looking for!

Well, issue one is how the heck do you compare guns if you can only have one out at a time? I’ve visited gun shops where this is the policy but it makes no sense to me, from a customer service standpoint.

As far as grouping merchandise for display, I’ve seen shops group by brand, by style, or even by price point. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but it really shouldn’t be an issue so long as the salesman (or woman) is allowed to grab several at once to compare for the customer. Limiting your staff to showing one gun at a time conveys a distrust of your customers, your sales staff, or both!

But Carolyn’s experience got worse…

Carolyn reported that her salesman finally “pulled out a SIG P238 and informed me that if I didn’t buy the P238, I wouldn’t be able to kill anyone…” 

Excuse me? Is that the new gun lobby slogan… “guns don’t kill people; Sigs kill people”? I’m a big fan of Sigs, but, last time I checked, they aren’t the only lethal weapon on the market.   

Carolyn’s husband then stepped into the discussion and wisely pointed out that bullet placement, not brand name, determine how much damage you do in a personal defense encounter.

The couple wisely exited that particular shop. 

I was very disappointed, but not ready to give up. Next, we went to Carter’s Country,” Carolyn recalls. “We were also looking for a couple of items…among other things, I needed a new clip for my Bersa Thunder .380. I started looking around and the gentleman helping us (he was 74 years old) started asking me questions about what I was looking for. I told him and he promptly pulled all three Rugers out and laid them side-by-side. He then went on to talk about each one in a language I could understand. I told him my problem with my husband’s Ruger 9 mm – it was just tooooo loud for me and that and the possible recoil scared me. He then pulled out the SIG P238. It was a LOT more than I ever intended to spend, but when he described the gun and pointed out several similarities to the Bersa Thunder I was using, it was a no-brainer for me. The salesman spent a lot of unrushed time with me and made me feel really good and quite comfortable with the P238.

I was relieved to hear that Carolyn’s experience at the second shop was much improved. Sounds like she not only got a great salesman, but also someone whose lifelong love of guns and shooting made him eager to share his expertise. And, the best news of all for that shop, was that he managed to upsell her a more expensive gun (and a very good one) while securing a permanent customer. You can bet that, the next time Carolyn and her husband have firearms needs, they won’t mess around trying out other shops…they’ll go straight to the guy who treated them well.

Carolyn’s story is only one example of why I added that chapter to my book. I wanted to offer some tips on what women might anticipate — and SHOULD demand — from a firearms retailer. And I wanted to make sure lady shooters understood that, no matter how negative their first experience might have been, there ARE shops out there that will value your patronage and work hard to keep it.

Guns are not only a costly investment but they should never be an impulse buy (at least not if you are a first-time buyer)! New shooters, be they male or female, should always feel comfortable asking questions and weighing their options carefully. It behooves gun shop owners to emphasize customer service and to make sure their sales staff has at least a basic understanding of the products they are selling.

For my part, I would like to spotlight the folks who do things RIGHT! I was fortunate to work for Olde English Outfitters in Tipp City, OH for several years — and to experience a shop that genuinely cares about its customers. I know there are others out there and I’d like to develop an evolving list of competent and attentive retailers. Feel free to message me on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GunGirlsBook/ or email me at handgunguide@gmail.com with your recommendations. And, if you work for a great gun shop — especially one that specializes in new or female shooters — check in with me. I’d like to  give you a shout-out in my blog and on my FB page. Women are the fastest growing demographic in the firearms industry, and catering to their concerns and questions just seems like a shrewd business move to me.

Cutline # 10

A little time and attention can quickly convert a new shooter (of any gender) into a lifelong customer.

Blue Star Mother

Thyme logo

Almost a decade ago, I gave a speech at an Operation Welcome Home celebration in northern Indiana. The speech was about 20 minutes in length, and nothing very remarkable, but I had sweated over the details because I wanted to send a message to all parents — past, present & future — who had ever watched with a mixture of pride and fear as their son or daughter joined the military. I wanted to make those parents feel proud and I wanted to tell them that their child’s service was appreciated and important (as if they needed to be told?)

At the time, my son Michael was 13, and his fondest wish was to become a military pilot. In my speech that day, I talked about Michael’s dream and about my own blend of swelling heart and nagging apprehension. I wanted the audience to know that, even though I wasn’t exactly in their shoes yet, I “got it.” But I didn’t. Not really.

I wrote that speech with the comforting detachment of a 10-year buffer zone. I knew Michael had all kinds of time to develop new interests, change his mind, chart a new course. Heck, when I was 13, I wanted to be a movie star, a game warden and a talk show host…you see how well that worked out!

So my words that day, however well-intentioned, were delivered from the outside looking in. I didn’t know what those parents were going through and, in my heart of hearts, I could tell myself that I might never know…that there was “still time” for other options.

Perhaps I should have known better. Afterall, Michael’s grandfather on his Dad’s side was a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army, and one of his Uncles had attended the Citadel, while another served as a linguist for the Army. And, although my family didn’t have a lengthy military history, Michael’s formative years were steeped in veteran-related projects and people. He watched me work for several years on a book about a Vietnam veteran, and sometimes he accompanied me to the office and encountered a cadre of irascible old military pilots at the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He forged a lifelong friendship with my then-boss and later business partner, Lt. Col. Mike Jackson, USAF (Ret), and, he watched — even volunteering occasionally — as I organized veterans’ celebrations or assisted vets and their families with VA benefits.

Guilt sometimes gnawed at me…perhaps I was unconsciously pushing him toward the military? We seemed to live, eat and breathe the topic — but, as patriotic as I was, and as proud of our men and women in uniform, I could continue to comfort myself in the dark of night that “he still has time” to choose a new path.

Even as he graduated from high school and started college, joining Air Force ROTC, I reassured myself that there was “still time.”  Even as I watched world events continue to deteriorate, I could breathe a silent sigh of relief that there was “still time.”

But as I struggled with my doubts, Michael grew in his resolve. He switched from Air Force to Army ROTC (the Air Force didn’t let him roll around in the dirt as much as he wanted to). Then he took on the task of resurrecting the Pershing Rifle Society on his college campus. He began attending Army leadership conferences  and coming home with awards and ribbons. The Army gave him a scholarship, and his commanders and peers acknowledged him as a disciplined and solid leader.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that the time I’d been counting on for all those years was finally running out.

Five  weeks from Saturday, that last grain of sand will slip through the hourglass, as Michael graduates college and is commissioned into the United States Army as a 2nd Lt.  My old pal Col. Jackson will commission him and deliver his first “official salute” (apparently the Colonel holds no grudge at Michael’s defection from blue to green.) And, when it’s all said and done, my baby boy will be “Lt. Engel.”

Even typing these words gives me a lump in my throat that is equal parts pride and undefined emotion. How did the time pass so quickly? When did that scrawny tow-headed kid become a muscle-bound GI in camo and boots? And when did I become the very parent I was lecturing to on that sunny afternoon in Indiana so many years ago?

And, although Michael long-ago gave up his pilot dreams (hereditary vision issues nipped that in the bud), he just couldn’t quite manage to choose a military vocation that a mother could fool herself into calling “safe.” No, he had to campaign for — and get — a slot at EOD school…that’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Ever seen “The Hurt Locker“? Well, I haven’t and it will be a cold day in Hell now before I do!

So, what do I do as I spiral — half joyful, half fearful — into this new role as “Blue Star Mother?” Well, I guess I take the only action that has ever really been mine to take — I trust in God and I pray for Michael’s safety, as I’ve always prayed for those who serve. For a control freak like me, putting all my trust 14962730_10208227426871384_5425022146370994237_nin God — and in Michael —  is easy to say and hard to do. And, yet, neither one has ever disappointed me.

Time finally ran out on that 10 year stretch when anything was possible, but, in a few weeks, I get to flip the hourglass back over and watch my son embark on his chosen career with a conviction that inspires and humbles me. And all I have to do is love him, support him, and finally LIVE the words of that speech I wrote so long ago.


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

 

 

Doctors’ Orders

Well, the doctors have spoken — and their prescription for hearing protection makes perfect sense to me!

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reported yesterday that a group called “Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership” released a white paper confirming that suppressors (sometimes referred to as silencers or mufflers) are the BEST way to prevent gunfire-related hearing loss. This supports current legislation known as the Hearing Protection Act (HPA) of 2017 (House Bill 367 and Senate Bill 59), which seeks to eliminate the $200 transfer tax on suppressors and remove them from the 1934 National Firearms Act (where they were inexplicably lumped together with sawed-off shotguns and machine guns).

This white paper flies in the face of a recent tweet from Gabby Giffords’ group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, claiming that foam ear plugs are superior hearing protection for hunters and shooters.

I can say from experience that ARS’s claim is a big old pile of horse hooey. While the high pitched hum that dances around in my head 24/7 may not have been entirely caused by firearms discharge, the aforementioned gun blasts certainly played a contributing role — and the foam ear plugs I have worn for years did little to slow my hearing loss or dull the electrical whine that keeps me company all hours of the day and night.

My friend Mike proudly attributes his “20-20” hearing to foam plugs covered by a noise- attenuating set of muffs. This works pretty well for him, but then he’s a flat-headed guy with Air Force hair. For some reason, those muffs never quite seat themselves properly atop my poofy girl hair and apparently lumpy head. And since I am often trying to teach a class, it is just downright frustrating to be shouting instructions, cramming foam tubes (that never stay put) into my ear canal and constantly readjusting the bulky set of ear muffs squatting atop my lumpy head.

p22_silencer

A couple months ago, I taught a class of seven at a local indoor range. I wanted to make sure my students got plenty of personal instruction, so I qualified them two-by-two, spending about 45 minutes with each group. Of course we weren’t the only folks shooting on the range. We conducted our class over the din of 9 mils, 40s and more than a few .45s. When I finally came off the range and pulled out my ear plugs, I was shocked to discover that my hearing level still registered as if my ears were completely plugged. I yanked and rubbed and poked my ears to no avail, and I spent nearly 24 hours wondering if I was permanently hearing impaired (and my hearing wasn’t that great to begin with — but this was a new level of lousy!)

Thankfully, my ears finally opened up a bit and returned to semi normal. But I’m pretty certain that afternoon of shooting did some permanent damage, even though I was wearing foam plugs and a pair of standard shooting muffs.

Once I could hear again, I immediately invested in some high-end Howard Leight noise cancelling muffs which are better suited to instruction, anyway — you can hear normal conversation but the crack of gunfire is immediately muffled. And they work like a charm, although my poofy hair and lumpy head still interfere with proper fit.

But the idea of being able to shoot or teach with a suppressor sounds ideal to me. I don’t understand why these tools have gotten such a bad rap or how they ended up on such a restrictive list.

My theory is that the anti-suppressor lobby watched a few too many gangster flicks, where Edward G. Robinson pulls out his roscoe (that’s gangster speak for “gun”), screws on a can (again, gangster talk for silencer), plants two (silentegrobinson-end-of-ricoly, of course) in the back of some poor stooge’s head (I hope it wasn’t Curly), then strolls away whistling nonchalantly.  After all, if you see it in the movies, it must be so…right? Just like those cowboys who fly backward through plate glass windows when Black Bart plugs ’em with a couple 45 long colts? Well that’s a debunking for another day.

The NRA reports that a suppressor’s primary function is to “reduce the muzzle report of the firearm, (thus) protecting the hearing of the firearm’s operator and reducing noise and disturbance to those in nearby vicinities.” Unlike their portrayal in movies and TV, these devices “do not render firearms all but soundless. They do, however, make them safer and quieter to operate.”

And, while the anti-gun lobby usually hypes Europe as a shining bastion of gun-free sanity, the crickets are deafening on this topic,  since the UK, Finland, Germany and other European countries have little to no suppressor limitations and, in fact, consider it a courtesy to use one!

But, fear not, all you folks who believe the streets will run red with the blood of innocents if the HPA passes: Suppressor ownership may still be cost-prohibitive for many people. Not only are good suppressors relatively expensive, but if you don’t have a threaded barrel (and most guns don’t) then you either have to have a new barrel made or buy a new gun. Oh, and these handy little devices aren’t exactly tiny, either…which pretty much destroys any hope of  concealability.

So, at least for now, I continue my hunt for the perfect plugs and a pair of muffs that sit more like a tiara than a tool chest atop my poofy, lumpy head.

Common Sense II – A Father’s Love

Thyme logo

A young woman sits in a mental hospital this morning because finally, someone showed some common sense. Her classmates are headed to school, safe and sound, because, finally, someone showed some common sense. No grief counselors, no memorial services, no flowers and teddy bears stacked sky high on an eerily empty sidewalk…because, finally, someone showed some common sense.

In recent years we have been treated to a disturbing parade of school shootings. Young people, feeling empty, hopeless, frustrated, bored or whatever it is young people feel when they are detached from society and suffering emotional turmoil, have too often turned to that one device that contemporary culture tells us will give them power and authority — a firearm.

What had once been a tool of convenience…for hunters, sportsmen, cops, and those who simply wanted to protect hearth and home, has become a symbol of dominance and potency, courtesy of a little industry known as “Hollywood.” Not that our pals in Hollywood ever take responsibility for their role in the growing body count. Nope, they just scream that law-abiding citizens should be separated from their legally acquired firearms — while they go about their business of making films that intentionally promote and glamorize violence.

Not that Hollywood is completely to blame here, but their smug arrogance just chaps my dumplings. A lot has changed since I was in high school and my male classmates pulled into the school parking lot each morning with hunting rifles mounted on the back windows of their pick-up trucks. A lot has changed since the generations before me actually learned gun safety IN school! A lot has changed since families sat down at the dinner table each night and discussed what was happening in each other’s lives. And, yes, a lot has changed since faith, personal responsibility, and discipline spent more time in the home than self-esteem, personal empowerment and parents in search of their bliss. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with the latter qualities — except when they are deprived of equalizing values and standards; then they breed selfishness and narcissism, which often leads to detachment, entitlement, and a pervasive feeling of not getting what one is owed by ones peers or society in general.

The common denominator behind most of the mass shootings in recent memory has been one simple (or not-so-simple) issue: mental health. Firearms, courtesy of our friends in Hollywood, have provided a convenient “cure for whatever ails you,” however momentarily. But the root cause — even when abundantly obvious to others — goes unacknowledged. Until last week.

A father in Maryland did the toughest thing a parent could do when, on March 23, he turned his daughter over to the authorities, after discovering disturbing entries in her diary and a plot for an April 5 attack on her school. In her room, police found bomb-making materials, a shotgun and ammo, shrapnel, fuse material and other items uncommon in most teen-aged girls’ bedrooms.

The family was apparently aware that she was struggling with mental health issues — but did not realize how badly her mental state had deteriorated. Perhaps one could argue that her parents might have spoken up a tad sooner, especially as the magnesium tape, flechettes, shotgun rounds, fuses and pipes made their way into her room (I think my folks would have noticed an influx of that nature…) BUT, I am thankful, at least, that her dad was willing to speak up and place his daughter where she would not only be unable to hurt others…but where she can find resources and support to fight her own demons.

This story is tragic enough in its current form, but it would have been far more heart-breaking had her father not shown some long overdue common sense and taken the appropriate action.

Contemporary society seems to find it easier to blame an inanimate object (especially a scary one like a gun) than to take responsibility as individuals and as a nation.  Like frantic, aging hippies, we encourage everyone to “do their own thing” while we pay as little attention as possible to whatever that “thing” is, lest anybody think we are judging them. We’ve fought hard to detach the stigma from mental illness even though that stigma often allowed people to get the help they needed. We’ve deliberately diverted our eyes from our neighbor’s activities (heaven forbid we be accused of being a “busybody”), even if it means that they gather under cover of darkness with like-minded thugs bent on terror, and we’ve virtually walked out of our children’s lives and sacrificed them on the altar of independence, self-esteem and personal freedom. The problem is, before we left, we forgot to teach them the simple truth that “S#*t Happens” in life and you’d better be prepared for it with mental, emotional and spiritual tools that will not only allow you to weather said S#*t, but to grow and learn from it, as well.

Perhaps this young woman in Maryland now has a chance to find peace, to undo the knots in her head, and to lead a productive life. I pray that is so — and I offer a prayer of gratitude to the courageous father who not only gave his daughter the chance for a normal life, but a lot of other kids, as well.

A ‘Brit’mas tradition

Thyme logo

I was a junior in high school the year my mother announced that we would try our hand at making “homemade mincemeat.”

I had only the vaguest idea what mincemeat was. I knew I kind of liked mincemeat pie (not as much as blueberry, but way more than rhubarb!) but I had no idea what the gooey substance inside the crust actually consisted of.

Imagine my surprise to discover that mincemeat — AUTHENTIC mincemeat, not the canned, bland store version — actually contained real meat! And… (and this is the part that disgusted my sensitive teenage palate) that, properly made, this meat concoction must sit around the house for a several weeks … unrefrigerated.

Uh … What, mom?

One of my best friends in high school was British and she not only endorsed my mother’s cockamamie plan to allow meat to ferment on the kitchen counter, she also provided her mother’s time-honored olde English recipe.

“It’s a tradition in our family. You’ll love it,” she assured me.

I still remember slicing up large chunks of beef and beef fat (suet) and dumping them into one of my mother’s brightly colored Pyrex mixing bowls. The meat was carefully folded into a sea of brightly colored fruit peels and chunks, then generously doused with brandy (which did make the mess smell a darned sight better!)

holly sprig

Still puzzling was the requirement to LET IT SIT for several weeks before using. My mother explained that we needed to stir it every day, periodically adding more brandy, rum or sherry. We weren’t much of a drinking family but, man, I loved the rich, boozy smell that wafted up from the bowl every time we lifted the spoon! Mom further cautioned that the marinating meat must be stirred clockwise in order to ensure good luck for the coming year (counter-clockwise would have the opposite effect, so my sister and I were very careful to stir wisely).

Additionally, she explained, we should make a wish each time we stirred. I can’t remember if my wishes came true (I was probably wishing that no one got salmonella from eating 3-week-old unrefrigerated meat!) but I vividly remember stirring that strange mixture every evening before dinner.

Then, just before Christmas, mom announced that it was time to begin baking!  We made mincemeat pies, and tarts, and cookies, and my mouth still waters when I think of that rich, hot, citrusy and, yes, deliciously alcoholic blend of pure holiday ecstasy.

It tasted far better than I could have imagined and, most of all, we had started a very memorable family tradition! It has been many years since I made or tasted real, homemade mincemeat. Mom discontinued the labor-intensive project after my sister and I left home. I tried it once in my mid-20s then chickened out on eating the fermented meat (I was a less hearty soul back then.)  But running across this recipe recently inspires me to possibly try again for the 2017 holidays…or maybe sooner. A good mincemeat pie knows no season!

I’ve included my high school pal’s family recipe below. Let me know what you think if you decide to make this! And if you are squeamish about letting it sit out for several weeks, I would recommend refrigerating it. Don’t know how, or if, that will change its consistency but it still has to be better than the stuff in jars or cans off the store shelf!

Mrs. Keen’s Traditional Mincemeat Recipe
1/2 lb beef
1/2 lb suet
1/4 lb citron
3/4 lb candied peel
1 lb apples
1 lemon
1 orange
1/2 lb sugar
1/2 lb currants
1 lb raisins
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brandy
1 cup dry sherry additional brandy or sherry wine
(optional) or rum (optional)
Directions:
1. Put meat, suet, citron, peel, peeled and cored apples,
lemon and orange through the meat grinder.
2. Mix thoroughly with sugar, currants. raisins, spices,
salt, brandy and sherry. Let sit. Stir daily for about
two weeks … then prepare tarts, pies, and more!