I spent the better part of my Saturday learning about handguns at Shooters Paradise in (as the instructor very aptly dubbed it) Hoodbridge. We got there an hour early so we took the kids out for burgers at Five Guys and then I headed over to the Basic Pistol I class.

After several hours of instruction and learning the protocols and range rules and practicing loading, aiming, firing, and unloading with plastic cartridges, we spent an hour on the range. I definitely liked the revolver better than the semiautomatic; it seemed far, far more manageable and just less… um… big bang.

Bang, but not big bang. Yeah. Very technical terms.

Took copious notes, loaded and fired both the revolver and semi until I was out of ammunition, learned about carry laws in Virginia, stuffed my brain with information so as not to be entirely stupid… All in all, a very good way to spend a Saturday. Matthew still thinks I’d be safer with a semi, I tend to disagree. If I’m afraid (not intellectually, but gut-quiveringly and teeth-clenchingly) of using it on the range, I sincerely doubt I’d be any happier carrying it in the short term. Longer term, I’m fairly certain it could grow on me–but not yet.

Good beginnings

Matthew was even more productive. While I was at the range, he stayed home and framed and hung the window that he brought home on Friday. A window! In our shed!

Siding will probably happen next weekend, I think he’ll be wrapping up the soffits tomorrow.


Well, the Learn to Shoot class at the Bull Run Shooting Center was most informative. I hit 2/8 on skeet, and 3/11 on clays using a semi-automatic 20 gauge shotgun. In short, I sucked, but not so massively as to completely rule out ever having fun at the sport.

I learned about the rules for playing at the BRSC, too, which were fairly easy to remember. Generally, it was all safety stuff–carry your weapon with the breech open (and empty), only point your weapon downrange, etc.

However, my right shoulder now sports a beautiful bruise. I mean, this is truly painful. D’oh!

The first order of business after my class was getting proper ear protection, because the little earplug things were not really cutting it. We went to a sporting goods store and picked up a bicycle helmet for Rebecca, ear protection for me, and a knife because the whole running to Matthew to borrow his paratool every time I needed a blade was getting old last year.

When we got home, I started washing up the dishes and Matthew opened up packages. The look on his face when he put on the hearing protection gear… I can tell I’m going to have a hard time getting him to not wear them when the kids are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

While I iced my shoulder, Matthew finished installing the remaining shingles and peak vents on the shed roof. He then kept going and put up the French doors, swept out the shed, and installed a doorknob so that he could lock his tools up _in the shed_. Finally.

Next weekend we’ll probably end up installing the window and siding the whole thing. Joy.


Marcus was born seven years ago in a little house in a medium town to two very happy parents who counted his toes and kissed his fingers and boggled at how, exactly, he managed to weigh ten pounds, two ounces at birth. He greatly enjoyed his baths, loved pulling the cats’ tails, and was a spectacular spitter.

He now climbs trees with almost (but not quite) reckless abandon, speeds down the driveway on his bicycle to cut a figure-eight through the front yard, and fixes his sister’s oatmeal in the morning. He greatly enjoys reading Roald Dahl books, wants to be a train engineer when he grows up, and wants to die before the sun goes nova.


> idiosyncrasy _n., pl._ *-sies.*
> 1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
> 2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.
> 3. An unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.
> List five of your own idiosyncrasies and then tag five friends to do the same.

### I am deathly afraid of sharks and aliens.

As phobias go, I find that I can cope with these quite easily. They generally do not affect my daily routines as much as, say, a fear of spiders or the sky falling or flying insects or the like. (Ants do not count. Ants will be covered later.)

I made my [younger sister]( cover _Call It Courage_ with a brown paper bag so that I would not have to touch the picture of the shark on the cover. When I was younger, I had the occasional freakout in the middle of a pool because of the invisible chlorine-digesting sharks that lay in wait at the bottom of it, but I’m pretty much over that. Also on the list to avoid are baths; I’m really not a big fan of them. I greatly prefer showers. I will probably never go on a cruise. I am very leery of oceans and beaches and the like.

I inflicted more agony upon the same sister with my fear of aliens. (Only the H.G. Giger brand, mind.) We shared a bedroom, and every night she had to go through the ritual of turning on the closet light, closing the middle closet door, closing the outer closet door (there were two bedrooms with connecting closets, a feature I saw and loved in [_E.T._]( that was built into the house), and finally, turning off the closet light. Yeah. Otherwise, no sleep. I have not yet inflicted this on my husband, although he has occasionally done things like, um, jumping down from his desk onto the floor next to me right when the monster chase starts in [_The Relic_](, which made me scream very, very loudly.

I have seen each movie in the [_Jaws_]( and [_Alien_]( series multiple times. I do this to try to convince myself that there are strings attached. Each time, I fail miserably.

### I cannot eat if my kitchen is a disaster.

Crumbs on the floor? Dishes in the sink? Pots on the counter? I cannot eat. I cannot have so much as a cup of tea if there is not _some_ degree of order and cleanliness in my kitchen. I have issues with my kitchen. I love my kitchen. It is the _one_ room in the house that is entirely under my control. I get antsy when things like motor oil and lumber and screwdrivers and toolboxes are left in my kitchen. I get irritable. I get snappish. It is best to keep stuff out of my kitchen unless I put it there.

### I cannot post/email/communicate unless it is perfect.

I write drafts of emails. I write drafts of little blurby things that end up on staff pages for various projects. I obsessively draft most entries for this site that are actual content and not little link library posts. I rehearse communications with other people in the shower and while I am doing dishes (because those are noisy activities where people will not look at me strangely for my constant muttering). I make up situations in my head when I am falling asleep because I know I will say the wrong thing. I am very good at saying the wrong thing.

The situation: I am at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Ottawa, Ontario with a group of people from [BSDCan](
Kirk McKusick: So, how do you like Ottawa?
Me: Iowa? It’s a great state. I spent a summer there with the Women in Science and Engineering Program at Iowa State University.

Two minutes later, I realized that he was asking about Ottawa. I have no context for conversations. None. Whatsoever. Hence the muttering. Much muttering.

### I cannot sleep without having taken a shower.

I must go to sleep with wet hair. I have braved below-freezing weather and cold water that never really warmed up in order to take a shower at Girl Scout camp. At the Confirmation retreat, I was the first girl into the showers with their sulphur-laden water that smelled of rotten eggs. (The retreat was in Sulphur, Louisiana. Clue, much?) The very first thing on my mind after sex? Getting a shower. After giving birth? Getting a shower. After a day of really doing nothing except taking it easy with the kids? Getting a shower. I _must_ have my shower. Period.

This extends to the kids, a little bit. They must have a bath if they have played outside.

### Ants. Oh. My. God. Ants.

This is from my mother, and her mother before her. It has been passed down through the generations. If we see an ant, we kill it. It must die. It must die and be completely dead. I have been known to smush them with my bare hands. I will sit and smush ants in their little fucking happy trails until they are dead. I will spray poison until I get dizzy because the ants, they must die. I hate ants. I am not afraid of them. I hate them in a new, special way.

I have had minty fresh ants, a trail of little green blobs which smelled minty fresh when I squished them because they had been drinking Creme de Menthe. That is how evil ants are. They go after your soul, and then they go after your liquor.

So, Things

Things, they are decent. We have been working very hard on completing our shed project. This weekend, we started roofing (first, we had to build a scaffold) and wrapped the building in a Tyvek skin. All very exciting.

I have learned that I do not like heights, but that I can build up a tolerance for them. Once on the scaffold, my knees get dizzy. Not my head, no, that would be normal. But my feet and knees get dizzy. We’ve been shingling the roof and I help Matthew out by passing him supplies as he nails them onto the roof. Also, I help by finding and reading the instructions on how to nail shingles, as we kind of messed up the first few courses because lo, no instructions were read.

Rebecca and Marcus are starting kindergarten and second grade, respectively. We are using the Calvert homeschooling curriculum and supplementing heavily in the science and history departments because I am picky and annoying. (I object to Attila the Hun being portrayed as a very nice man. Taking all the fun parts out of history is just as bad as not teaching it at all.) Marcus has decided that reading is cool, and spends his car rides reading every sign that we pass. He is very interested in chemistry (um, especially thermodynamics) and electronics (radio and sound generation–the louder, the better). They are both taking gymnastics at a local gymnasium; Rebecca has two classes per week and Marcus, one, because the other classes for his age group all fall smack dab in the middle of rush hour, which is really ugly around here.

I will hopefully be taking a Learn to Shoot lesson at the Bull Run Shooting Center next weekend. Shotguns are big and heavy and loud, and I have been told that I will have a bruised shoulder if I ever shoot one. The very nice man at [Virginia Arms]( suggested the lessons as a good way to try out different shotguns so that I could get a feel for the punch. I am apparently petite and will be knocked off my feet by some of them. Vaguely nervous, but I’ll cope. I would prefer to not have a black-and-blue shoulder, but it is apparently part of the process.

I should update more often because life is becoming more interesting than not.