Friday, February 19, 2010

A Moment of Silence For Friend Possum

Last Evening I had to deal with an intruder, a thief in the night. In this case it was an old, cranky possum. Wild beasties in the woods Helene and I accept and even embrace. That's part of the joy of living in the country. The problem was this old boy wasn't in the woods. He was on the covered porch cleaning up cat food.

I found him when I went out to dip candles (I will talk about that another day) sitting on the table where we feed the porch cats. He glared at me and kept eating. I could see why, this was one of the biggest possums I had ever seen. Half again bigger than the porch cats, and we are talking Texas Farm Cats here. Peppy, who would give Harry Dresden's "Mister" a run for his money was having nothing to do with him.

Bear, the Sheppard/Rott puppy Helene got me for Christmas, was more than ready to take charge. Bear is the new hire at HomePlace and eager to prove himself. He isn't full grown but thinks he's the size of a draft horse, and if his feet are any indication he may make it. I love Bear's willingness but in D&D terms he has strength second to none and intelligence of almost one!

Now if you folks know posseums you know they have teeth and claws and are more than willing to use both. They can be rabid, and even if they are not the bites and scratches can cause infections. Not to mention they hurt like hell in addition to the physical damage they can cause. This guy had the look of a mean drunk looking for a fight. I wasn't eager for any of us to experience that first hand.

Now I know some of you are saying "Why not just run him off?" Did you catch the 'mean drunk looking for a fight' part?

Truth be told, as hardnosed as I try to present my self, I had tried to run him off two nights earlier. He and I scared the daylights out of each other when I came on him while collecting laundry. If I hadn't dropped the laundry basket between us when I reached for the broomstick to run him off with it could have been ugly. The problem is once they learn food is available they will keep coming back. Now he sat at the cats dish glairing at me as if to say "I would have seconds when you have time."

Since he was on the porch I stepped into the house and got the old Winchester 69A .22 my Dad taught me to shoot with. I wanted something that would stay in friend possum. I also wanted something that shot strait enough to put him down instantly. I wanted to take him out but didn't want him to suffer. One shot and it was all over. The cats were gone and Bear wanted to know what he had missed.

This happens about half a dozen times a year. It isn't all bad news. Half the time the intruders are raccoons and they end up in the freezer. Waste not, want not. I wonder how one cooks possum?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Stephanie Plum Movie is a GO!

Wake up the kids and call the neighbors! There's finally going to be a Stephanie Plum movie, we hope, we hope, we hope
As exciting as this news is, it's been a long time coming. For as long as I have been reading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series there has been talk of a movie. Janet sold the movie rights years ago but nothing happened. At one point she even tried to buy the movie rights back but the studio wouldn't let them go.
A few days ago Columbia Pictures and Lakeshore Entertainment announced they had cast Katherine Heigl in the movie version of ONE FOR THE MONEY based on the first book of the series. If the film is successful there is lots of material for follow ups.
Readers have love/hate relationships with their favorite books being make into films and I was one of the worst. There is no actor or actress in the world that will fill everyones expectations of what Stephanie, or Ranger, or Lula will look like. Then there is all the neat stuff not filmed. I personally think we have a winner in Katherine Heigl. As for the neat stuff not filmed...
Ten plus years ago I started working background in historic films and learned the ugly truth. Movies are in a constant battle for time. The time it takes to film a movie can make or break a project. And then, if the film is too long it suffers. The question should be dose the film respect the book it's based on? I have high hopes for this project
One of my earlier post, titled Could They... delt with the problem of Stephanie shooting a would be killer while her gun still in her purse. I will be curious to see how this part of the story is handled
For the Stephanie fans the next book, SIZZELING SIXTEEN will be released on June 22, 2010. Helene and I will be at the Barnes and Noble in College Station, Texas that day to get ours.
I will post more information about the ONE FOR THE MONEY movie as it comes available.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It Only Takes One

The bruise on my big toe was passing from the black stage to green and yellow. Didn’t hurt any less but it was still going away. I hadn’t really thought about it for days until I stared dumbstruck at the IM message on my computer. Then it throbbed as bad as the day I had hit it.

The message was from a friend in a city I lived in some years ago. One of his friends, a guy he had grown up with, was dead. It had been a stupid accident. The dieing hadn’t been quick. He had dropped a handgun and tried to catch it. When it stuck it fired. The bullet hit him in the chest. He had called 911 and was still conscious when the ambulance arrived. He finished bleeding out on the way to the hospital.

So why was I obsessing about the bruise on my toe? Less than a week earlier the same thing had happened to me. I had been in a rush and hadn’t properly snapped the safety strap on my USMC style shoulder holster. When I leaned over to police my brass the weapon, cocked and locked, slipped out and landed hammer spur first on my toe. It took less than a second and had been pointed at my chest when it struck. I got away with profanity and a limp for the rest of the day.

Stupid? Yes, that’s why we call them accidents. Why had the other guy died?

For one thing his weapon was a Czech CZ-52. Say what you will about the CZ-52, it’s a pretty serviceable, hard hitting sidearm for those that take the time to make friends with it. Unfortunately the Czechs were more concerned with coming in on budget than safety features. Mine was a Colt 1911. I’m not saying a 1911 will never go off when dropped, but this one didn’t. That brings me to the other reason I’m alive – fate, or in other words, pure dumb luck.

All of us practice gun safety. But it only takes one moment of carelessness or thoughtlessness for disaster to strike. A long gun leaned against a fence that falls over. Better yet, reaching across to the passenger cab of a car or truck and taking a weapon by the barrel rather than going around the vehicle and taking it up properly. Then there is always that heart stopping BANG, often followed by someone exclaiming “But it was empty!” Sometimes it’s the voice of a child.

Kids and shootings accidents are a match made in hell. I grew up before gunlocks, and when gun safes were for the rich. I knew where my Dad’s guns where. I knew they were loaded. This was also in an age where there were still consequences. I knew the quickest way I would ever meet Jesus was to be caught playing with one of them.

Gun safes and trigger locks have their place, but they are no substitute for parenting. My father didn’t just tell me not to play with the guns, buy why. He also taught me how they worked. I knew where the safeties were and how to tell if a firearm was loaded. I have had accidental discharges, but not until I was an adult and should have known better. Thank goodness they never damaged anything but my pride.

Knowledge is one of the best cures for shooting accidents. Safe practices are a must. Know where your bullet is going to stop. What’s on the other side of those trees? Will your backstop absorb shotgun projectiles? How about handgun or rifle bullets? Is it tall enough?

Not all shooting accidents are accidental discharges. There are also ricochets. Hair triggers can cause embarrassing moments when a weapon discharges before the shooter intended it too. They can also be tragic. You might think it would be impossible for someone to load the wrong ammunition into a firearm. It isn’t and it can be disastrous.

The only way to stop all shooting accidents is to stop all shooting. There are lots of folks out there that would embrace that notion. I hope they hold their breath until it comes true. To me the best course of action is to follow the advice of the old sergeant from Hill Street Blues:

“Be careful out there!”