Monday, December 27, 2010


When I poured my coffee this morning, I barely glanced out the kitchen window, and noticing nothing amiss went to my computer and waited for caffeine to work its magic and raise my brain from the fog of recent sleep. I watched the birds out the back porch view flitting around the feeder now with more earnest efforts since the thermometer was reading in the 30’s. I heard Kitty’s whinny, also with a more earnest pitch, hollering for me to come feed, or so I thought was her intent. When coffee had done its job I returned to the kitchen window and saw the reason for Kitty’s pleas. Robijn and Joline stood just the other side of the rise of the field lines and were quite happy munching the still green fescue grass that grows there. I didn’t see Sunset the usual ring leader of escapes from the barn, but I didn’t panic about these two being out. I did hope they would refrain from a dip in the close by swimming pool, so I grabbed coat and etc and went out side to head to the barn.

I used to freak out when horses got loose, especially the young ones. Now I have come to notice that they won’t leave. Heck why would they and who would take them? As long as they are calm and merely graze the greenery it is not big deal. And as expected, once I had gotten to the barn to grab a rope to go catch the escapees, I turned to find them followingme to the door. Sunset had managed to have locked herself in Kitty’s stall, hence her absence from the front yard group. Order restored and all fed, I went back to the house for tea and a chance for the day to warm a bit before riding the working girls.

It is the day after the day after Christmas today. The weekend has been nice, cold but relaxing and slow. Christmas Eve fell on a Friday this year and we spent it at my parents’, a chaotic replication of the past eves, but with each passing of these events, a wondering of how many more will we share crosses my mind. This year my dad was quieter than on years before, and was tired. My mother looked festive in her seasonal garb, but she too is moving slower. Christmas day Mark and I opened our gifts from each other, a box of art materials from him, and to him I gave a small mortar.

This particular mortar is about 6 inches long and has maybe a 3inch dia. and with the help of some black powder, is capable of launching a helpless golf ball 300 yrds. or so. A friend of ours, who was a soldier in Nam and who blew stuff up then and still enjoys a good loud ballistic boom, had told me about this little mortar and suggested it for a gift for Mark, who also enjoys a good loud boom as well, and so I ordered it. What I didn’t know or think about was how it would fire. I knew that we had some black powder and some old golf balls but I didn’t even think about a fuse needed to send the ball out of the barrel and hadn’t ordered any. So Mark had a toy that he couldn’t play with, like getting a telescope on a cloudy day. No fun. Then Mark said that he bet we could get fire in that hole somehow, and thus became the focus of our intent for Christmas day.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, this little cannon, or mortar, is a very heavy small barrel with a golf ball sized opening at the firing end. To fire it, you place a charge of black powder in the barrel first, which sets into a reservoir in the rear of the barrel, then you stuff in the ball. On top of the barrel at the rear is a 1/8” hole that goes down to the reservoir, and this was where we needed a fuse to send a spark to the powder to ignite and blow the ball into the air. The trick was to get anything to continually burn long enough to get down into the chamber. With no firecracker with a steal-able fuse anywhere to be found in the house we were going to fabricate one of our own making. We had intent to ignite some powder, by golly.

The internet had postings of several options for making homemade fuses for fireworks or whatever, firebombs, etc. First we tried toilet paper strips rolled into tight cords and then covered with a paste of ground up match heads. These burned well, if, they held together long enough, but went out as soon as flame hit the hole in the top of the mortar. Next was yarn soaked in lighter fluid, same result. By then our elder daughter and son in law had driven out to the farm and so they joined our quest for fire.

As a youngster this fine son in law of ours had, self admission, been quite a pyromaniac of sorts and had made many fuses for various bombs for blowing up things, so he suggested tissue paper, from the close at hand newly opened gift boxes. Black powder was poured onto this and sprayed with a fixative and then rolled tightly into a shape as tho one might put in your mouth and smoke it. After several prototype attempts of almost doing it, finally we got a successful burn and resounding boom, and sent the ball flying across the yard to the pond’s edge. It was only a small amount of powder used that time since we were still very much on the bottom of the learning curve, but it was very gratifying to have improvised and prevailed. With our group victory accomplished, we retired to the warm fire and glasses of wine, and toasted our day.

The weather gurus had hinted there might be a white Christmas but that day only held very cold rain and dashed hopes for a jingle belled carriage ride. Yesterday tho, they said the same might happen and sure enough tiny flakes fell for most of the day, too warm to stick but lovely. At one point while feeding the horses the flakes got bigger and I felt like I was in a snow globe and half expected to be turned upside down.

In the late afternoon during the heaviset of the falling white stuff we hooked the bouncy mare to the carriage. So we did get our carriage ride in the snow, with bells on the mare jingling away. The lap robes kept our legs warm, and the soothing elixir in the flask kept our spirits bright.The pre Christmas stuff had its stress but post c-day and the day after the day have been just fine.  
check out the boom

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