Posted in Family, Idaho

Pushing Past a Comfort Zone

my sketch of Grandpa fly-fishing

I’ve been laboring under a peculiar species of Writers’ Block for the last two weeks. It’s not that I haven’t had the inclination or the material for writing, but there’s Something Important that I need to write about—that I want to write about—but am apparently not ready to write about. And I’ve felt like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t?) write about other things until I had addressed this.

I’m not meaning to be mysterious here—I’ll share the gist of the matter. My Grandpa passed away two weeks ago. There is SO much to say about this man, about this life… but I think while I continue to work my way up to that, I need to revoke my self-imposed restriction and go on writing about The Rest of Life.

In the meantime, I can imagine the scene with perfect ease: Grandpa and God, hip-deep in a divine trout stream, trading stories. I imagine that God is as good a storyteller as my Grandpa… And perhaps, after all, telling a story is, in itself, a fitting tribute to Grandpa.

Which leaves me with just one problem—after some weeks without writing, there are lots of stories to tell! (Even the kids have begun to comment whenever something makes me laugh: “That’s going into the blog!”) Shall I begin with the completion of the chicken-house, or the shooting class, or our son’s introduction into junior high, or our other son’s re-introduction to football practice after his knee surgery, or Keoni’s foray into football coaching, or the Petroglyph Project, or the latest installment of the sewage-moat saga, or…

Shooting—I’ll start with that.

my instructor emailed a few pictures he took with his phone during class…

Keoni bought me a place in a concealed weapons class (intended for Mother’s Day, though presented earlier because neither of us ever manages to wait for the actual Occasion to give a gift that was nominally intended for that Occasion)… The class coupon was good until September 1, so (being the accomplished Procrastinator that I am) I emailed the instructor in the last week of August to inquire about scheduling. No problem (whew)—he had an opening in Thursday’s class.

We stopped at WalMart to pick up ammo before the class, and in his usual sociable way, Keoni struck up a conversation with the fellow behind the counter (“Bruce Gordon—they call me ‘Flash'”), who, like Keoni, has worked in prisons for a couple decades. Of course they turned out to have quite a few friends in common, so they chattered away while Flash unlocked the cabinet to pull out a box of Winchester 40-caliber bullets. As he wound up the transaction, Flash brightly inquired, “So this is your daughter?” Always amused when people make the (understandable) error, we laughingly corrected him. “Wife!

this photo is my new screen-saver :)

I dropped Keoni to coach his football practice, and headed south of town to the military shooting range. Laughable as this might seem, it didn’t occur to me until I was driving to the range that I might be in the intimidating position of being the only female in this class… And that much did turn out to be true. As pickup-truck after pickup-truck pulled into the dusty bay beside my minivan, it became apparent that I’d be the only girl in a group of Idaho hunters. But I will say this: if ever a girl needed to bolster her Inner Badass, there’s nothing to accomplish the job quite so quickly as strapping on a belt with a holstered weapon.

It also hadn’t occurred to me that there wouldn’t be a bathroom anywhere nearby, and after a hot afternoon drinking quantities of raspberry-green-tea, I badly needed one. Just to make sure, I inquired of the instructor, who was discernibly disconcerted by the question, and who started trying to think where the nearest “blue lagoon” might be found. “That’s okay,” I told him. “I’ll just step around the hill here.”  He called after me to ask if I were sure, if I were okay with that, if I needed a tissue… I reassured him over my shoulder, “Nah, I’m an Idaho girl.” (Although I did come back to report that it was a new experience squatting in the sagebrush with a holstered weapon belted on…)

token soccer-mom in the line-up…

I will admit to feeling intimidated and uncomfortable in that group, but I put on my best act of nonchalance, hid behind humor, introduced myself as the group’s “token soccer-mom”… And then we got down to it. Four hours of drills and target shooting, and I believe I may say I acquitted myself quite well. More to the point: my instructor commented several times that I must be having fun, because I had a smile plastered across my face the whole time!

In some situations I might have replied that a smile is my “default setting,” but he was absolutely correct. I was having a kickass time.

The only thing kicking more was my weapon—and there was some discussion about the advisability of a 40-caliber handgun for someone of my size… But then, I didn’t tire out in four hours, as the instructor had dubiously predicted I might, and {grin} there’s that “badass” factor…

My target from class. Don’t piss me off.

Anyway, I had a good time. I learned things. I shot well. I earned my Concealed Weapon Carry permit. And I won’t lie—I pulled my minivan out of that shooting range feeling pretty pleased with myself. I brought my target home to show, and glowed under the compliments of my husband and sons.

Chatting with my instructor, it turns out that he’d paid a visit to this blog before meeting me, and is interested in having me do some writing for his website. He proposed bartering some classes for some writing—and I’m tickled by the prospect.

All in all, there’s something to be said for pushing past a Comfort Zone!


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

98 thoughts on “Pushing Past a Comfort Zone

  1. Now if I can only find that t-shirt for you that says, “I miss my ex…But my aim is getting better! ”
    A Hui Ho’u Ku’uipo


        1. Sorry to jump in –
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  2. Keoni I have a button with that on lol I thought about you this week kana. It dawned on me that I hadn’t read a post from you in a while. Glad to see that you’re alright. I’m sorry about your grandpa. It always feels like a kick to the teeth when we lose someone we love.


      1. :) yes I imagine that it can be hard to keep it normal for your kids when your ex sounds like such a douch. sorry if that offends but that’s just the impression I get from the blog posts. you seem a lot happier with Keoni, it’s always a pleasure to be allowed a glimpse into your world.


        1. Well, *I* certainly think he’s a douche—which is why he’s an EX. I’ve always tried (though I can’t claim always to succeed) to keep my opinions to myself around the kids, and it’s actually harder now that they’re discovering the douche-ness from their own experience, and talking about it…


  3. So sorry about your grandpa. Your sketch is lovely and gives us a glimpse of the man I’m sure we’ll get to hear more about later on. I wonder if your target practice was also a way to deal with your grief. I can imagine that it would release a lot of the emotion.


  4. You are the baddest!

    I’m very sorry about your Grandpa and very touched by your sketch of him. Another skill you have. Kana you are talented beyond belief. I love your stories about your family the most. And now I hope we see more sketches.


    1. ack, no pressure… ;) I just wish I had the knack for faces–there are some photos of Grandpa & Grandma that I would dearly love to draw from… But I lack both the training and (apparently) the natural knack to capture a face properly. My attempts are recognizable as who they were meant to be, but that’s about as much as I can say for them. ;)


  5. First, my condolences on the loss of your Grandpa..The sketch of him is lovely and I’m sure he’s saying”That girl got it right”..Love the pics of you@ the firing range..reminds me of when I joined the Army and had to shoot a rifle..I kicked booty !!! You rock!


  6. Hi Kana! I came over here yesterday to check on you. I was missing your posts and wanted to see if I had just missed some. I’m glad you’re back. My condolences on the passing of your grandfather. I quite like the idea of him and God in their waders. I love the painting, too!

    I got my concealed carry permit after only a 30 minute class, which I had bartered for signs. The instructor thought he was doing me a favor, but I wish I’d had a little more training. Thankfully, after having it for 5 years, I’ve not had to use it. I just renewed for another 10 years and hope I have the same luck. Oh, I wrote my ex’s name on my cardboard target before practice and it was awesome!


    1. Thank you for checking in on me. :)
      I’m giggling about your target, applauding your ingenuity (let’s hear it for bartering!), and glad you haven’t had cause to USE your weapon! I hope for the same good fortune. I very much enjoy the satisfaction of target-shooting, but I earnestly hope not to have cause to put this skill to use outside the shooting range.


  7. Kana, I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your grandpa. I love the sketch you’ve done.
    I’ll have to share this post with my husband, as he teaches CC classes and shoots handguns in competition. Looks like you handled yourself and you gun very well!


    1. Keoni also spent a lot of years as a Range Master and competition shooter with the Oregon Department of Corrections… I’ve always wanted to learn to shoot; I just hadn’t been encouraged in it before. ;)

      After my one experience, I’m very much in favor of the idea of a “women-only” class—minus the testosterone and machismo and male insecurities… (Sorry, guys!—just calling it like I saw it.) Surely there would be a market for such a thing? A thought for your husband, if he’s not already offering it… ;)


  8. Kana,
    Guns bring me a huge sense of discomfort. It could be a Canadian thing, but I don’t think I can hide behind a cultural stereotype. It’s a very personal thing…


    1. And my deepest sympathies for your loss. I know you’re family is loving and supportive, which I am certain it is a beautiful and strong sanctuary to heal in.


    2. I don’t think a person needs to apologize for the cultural contribution to a personal feeling… Keoni and I were talking about this topic in more depth this morning—the politics of guns (both sides), the cultural comfort (or lack thereof) regarding guns, the reasons (the real ones, not politically motivated) for people’s attachment (or aversion) to guns… There’s definitely a follow-up coming! :)


    1. I’ve been thinking along those lines… Grandpa “existed” in my mind and heart even when I was a few states away from him and hadn’t seen him for a while—and the same seems true now. He STILL exists, in so many minds and hearts… But selfishly, I would wish for more—would wish to be able to keep adding new memories with HIM in them… It’s a complicated thing, grieving.


  9. What a great gift! I’m not sure I fancy it myself, but I’ll admit its kinda cool. What sort of things does that open up for you now? Gun laws are so, so different in the UK, but I’ll admit to being curious.

    I was wondering where you were too, having realised there was no post in my reader. I’m so sorry to hear about your Grandpa. Thinking of you at a difficult time.


    1. Ah, good question. (Keoni and I were talking this morning about the fact that I have “international” readers and should maybe expand the topic!)

      Most U.S. citizens over the age of 21 can carry a weapon (that includes knives, etc. as well as handguns) but without a Concealed Carry permit, the weapon has to be in plain sight. (Exceptions to the “right” to carry weapons include people who have been convicted of a felony crime, anyone who has been deemed mentally unstable, anyone discharged dishonorably from the military, anyone on probation or parole, and anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol.)

      WITH a Concealed Carry permit, the weapon doesn’t need to be visible, so I could have one in a purse, pocket, or hidden holster, or out of sight in my vehicle—and can carry it anywhere except a courthouse, jail, airplane, or school property.


      1. Wow! That… that is nutty. So as long as the weapon is visible, its legal to carry one (except for those omissions). That’s most people in the US, surely? Meep!
        I can’t even begin to imagine that here; I’d shit bricks if I saw someone just ambling along the street with a gun on their hip! o.O No matter how much I write about it.
        Amazing really.


        1. Here’s a “cultural difference” that I didn’t even THINK about when I started writing this… :) You’re right–that list means most adults in the US could carry a weapon, though the majority don’t. Still, I don’t think twice about seeing a shoulder-holster on someone—and that right there is a helluva cultural difference, now that I AM thinking about it.

          Most of the people I know who regularly “Carry” are law enforcement officers who carry even when they’re not on duty… Or women–particularly women who have previously been raped or assaulted. And I will say this (though I know people will have different views on the matter): the one sexual assault of which I was a victim would certainly have ended more quickly if I’d had a weapon to hand. I’m entirely certain that I wouldn’t have had to USE it—having it would have been sufficient.

          Yup, there’s definitely another post-worth of thinking going on over here! ;)


          1. It would certainly be a deterrent; I understand that. I can’t imagine that anybody would go after somebody else, in any form, knowing that they had a gun or a knife on their person.
            If you do write another post I’m looking forward to it; I really do find it all fascinating. Two countries; so similar and yet so very, very different in attitudes to things like weapons, driving, drinking, religion… hell everything, actually!


  10. “Most U.S. citizens over the age of 21 can carry a weapon (that includes knives, etc. as well as handguns) but without a Concealed Carry permit, the weapon has to be in plain sight. ” …Has to be in plain sight…
    I’m curious, does it mean that you can walk along a street with a gun hanging on your side like in western movies?
    PS: sorry, english is not my mother language and sometimes it is not so simple…


    1. Yup. Nearly everybody can, and not a few of them do.

      P.S. I wouldn’t guess from your writing that English is NOT your mother tongue. :)


  11. This is incredibly inspiring (and also majorly cool). I would give my right arm to fire a gun. And I probably literally would blow my right arm off whilst firing the gun.
    So sorry to hear about your grandpa – my granddad passed away 13 years ago and I still miss him every day.


    1. haha, that’s why the training! And I’m here to say that the price of the class does not include any limbs. I think most instructors have guns for student use—so go for it! ;)


        1. Ah, I spoke out of turn–we need little flags by our avatars! Well, if you’re ever visiting the American West, swing through Idaho and we’ll set you up. ;)


  12. First; Bon Voyage Grandpa.

    Secondly: Was wondering where you were. Nice to see you back. Missed you.

    Next: the gun thing: I’ve lived in Australia and now Canada, where wearing a gun (concealed or otherwise) is anathema in both countries, ** and although I’ve become sort of aware of it since I’ve been here, the concept’s never really ‘clunked’ into my forebrain until reading through these comments.

    You’re right that it’s a cultural thing, ‘cos I can’t get my head around walking into my local coffee shop and seeing someone sitting there sipping his or her latte with a gun on their hip, and checking their facebook account!

    ** apart from criminals and police.


    1. Ah, there’s the rub, in your last line. Criminals still have guns (because they ignore the laws)…

      The class instructor said something that really hit me in the gut… He said he’s been a cop for twenty years, and he’s never once arrived in time to STOP a rape or a murder. He said his job is to show up afterwards, clean up, and hope to figure out who did it. But he’s not on hand to prevent it. That’s specifically why he teaches concealed carry courses when he’s off-duty.

      On a lighter note: you can now imagine me reading your blog from a coffee shop with my leather-holstered pistol on my hip! ;)


        1. you’re not alone–all the comments have ME thinking today! :) Politically and socially I’m a Liberal—but here’s this gun-thing that doesn’t belong in “Liberal” territory…


  13. Dear Kana – so sorry to hear of the loss of your Grandpa. My Dad was also a keen trout fisherman. I’ve always believed he’s having an exceptional time of fishing since he passed away – pristine streams, the freshest air and the biggest trout. I reckon your Grandpa is there too & I hope they’ve met and compared fishing stories…. :)


    1. I imagine he might be… I don’t think Grandpa was a guns-guy after his WWII service, but he’d appreciate seeing a granddaughter kicking some guys’ butts at target shooting. ;)


  14. I’m so glad you’re back, writing your way toward the Grandpa stories.
    I’m so completely ambivalent about guns and our gun laws. On the one hand, the Girl Bad-Assness quotient really appeals to me. On the other, I can’t see how more guns on the street or in the coffee shop is ever a good thing.
    The whole “right to bear arms” issue breaks down for me when we get to automatic weapons and firearms meant for mass destruction. Why would anyone need those (except for military and law enforcement)?


    1. You’re right— it’s sort of that circular argument we keep hearing in political debates… “Guns don’t kill people; PEOPLE kill people” (ok, true) versus “those people would be less lethal without guns in hand” (ALSO true). Begging the pardon of Widdershins, it was fun to “mess with her mind” by proposing the scenario, but I truly don’t imagine myself wearing this around the coffee shop as a matter of course. Knowing it’s there when I’m home alone (living out of town in a flimsily-constructed trailer with locks that are more decorative than functional)—that’s something else again…


  15. Kana, I’ve missed you. I’m sorry about your grandpa.

    About the gun thing, I’m about as liberal as they come, yet I have no problem with folk learning to use weapons–as long as said folk understand when/where it is appropriate to use them. In a certain state where I used to live, businesses displayed signs reading “no weapons on this property” likely because gun culture there was prevalent to the point that people had to be told that carrying a gun into the grocery store might be too much. ;-)

    Where I live now, those signs don’t exist, as people here are less likely to feel a need to display a gun all the time. (We may have them in our houses, but that’s no one’s business.)

    I was in the Army for 15 years, and one rule I live by is never pick up a gun unless I seriously intend to use it. Otherwise, it brings nothing but problems. (Actually, that may be why the US culture–as opposed to the UK, for instance–is more accepting of weaponry. In terms of history, our country is in long-term adolescence. We’re so young in comparison. And you know how adolescents can be with their bravado and all.)

    Thanks for writing!



    1. I’m laughing—it’s such a perfect picture of our country, all pimply and hormonal, aggressive and petulant by turns… In other words, ADOLESCENT! Idaho, being a “red” state with a fair bit of the “”Old West” mixed in, is one of those states where nearly everyone is armed, though the hunting rifles far outnumber the handguns, and we’re not TOO likely to see them in the supermarket…

      As for me, I was thoroughly drilled in SAFETY (by my Range Master hubby) before even setting foot in the class, so as you say, my finger won’t be on the trigger at any time unless I’ve made a conscious choice to destroy something. (I’ll note the photo above—on a shooting range and pointing at a cleared target, finger NOT on the trigger.) No accidents allowed!! :)

      Thank you for your Service!


  16. Ahhh, there you are! So glad to see you back, but so sad to hear of your loss.

    May I prescribe a thorough inflation of said Inner Badass prior to any and all EX-douche visits? Or, maybe, just sit on the porch cleaning said gun as he collects the bambinos? I suspect it could squash some of the douchery, but I’m just guessing there.


    1. Teehee, I admit to giggling wickedly. (And yay, we have a new word! “Douchery” is going to be put to use…) I do have the satisfaction of knowing the kids are likely to be artlessly mentioning Mommy’s Shooting at their other house… :)


  17. Kana, I’m very sorry to hear about your grandfather. I’m happy that you had him for so many years; all my grandparents had passed by the time I was 24. The sketch you did of him is wonderful!

    Loved the gun story—especially the part about having the target out on the front porch!

    Wishing you guys all the best!


    1. I was just thinking about my high school graduation (the oldest of the grandchildren), and my mom commenting that Grandpa hadn’t thought he’d live to see any of the grandkids graduate high school… As it was, he got to see all eight grandkids graduate college (Ivy Leaguers, except myself), five of us married (and re-married, in my case), and meet two members of the next generation (my kiddos, including the son named for him). He outlived his own dad by nearly fifty years—and because he’d always expected to “go early,” we were continually aware of the blessing of having him still with us. As you say, I’m grateful for the time we had!


  18. I’m so sorry to read about the passing of your grandfather. It’s so hard to lose someone we love.

    I also took a concealed weapons class many years ago (when a permit was needed.) I enjoyed it as well. I’ll never forget, “two to the chest, one to the head.” That was the instructor’s mantra for when we shoot – don’t shoot to injure, shoot to kill. Love the pics of your experience. I also got a chuckle about leaving the shot up target out for the ex to see. Good one :)


  19. My condolences on the passing of your Grandfather. I’m looking forward to when that post has finished cooking, and you are ready to write it.

    I’ve been desperate to take shooting lessons since I was preggers with my oldest, but then I get pregnant again! I’m jealous of your pink ear protection. You did awesome. Way to go!


    1. That brings to mind some of my early sailing experiences, before I had my own Skipper’s Papers and we had to rely on invitations from my sailing uncle… They treated us to several lovely Christmas weeks onboard sailboats in the Caribbean—and EVERY time they invited us, I was pregnant. Couldn’t scuba dive or sample the rum! (Pregnancy: the only times in my adult life that I stayed sober… Until I got Sober!)


  20. Wow. You go, girl. I am quite impressed. I am very sorry about your grandfather. I know what you mean about experiencing writer’s block in the way you describe. It’s funny (funny as in strange) what our minds will do to us sometimes.

    I know that when I am straight-out busy, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I can’t focus enough to write anything. Even when I know what I have to write, I can’t get it out. It’s as if my mind is telling me to get some things taken care of first, skip a day or two of writing and catch up with Life. Then go back to writing.

    Once I do that, the words flow.


  21. Kana, I am so sorry to hear about your grandpa. My grandfather was the glue that kept my funny farm family from flying off into outer space. I think often about how much I owe him and how much I miss him (even 46 yrs later). One day I hope to share his story. Here’s hoping one day soon we’ll both find the words to open our hearts. – Nikki


  22. my condolences on the loss of your Grandpa. Mine was a huge influence in my life.. Love the sketch and cool beans on your permit. They just passed the law here last year or so allowing concealed weapons in bars.. I am not against guns so much as people who ignorantly carry them. I shot my fair share of different types in the Army and it was bad ass.. but my biggest fear is one of my kids will be at someone’s house who does not properly lock up their gun… My 17 yo had a friend who got a shotgun cause he could – as long as it is in sight you can carry it in your vehicle he brought it into the house one day and it turns out it was loaded and he tried to tell me – waving it around and pulling on the mechanism that it couldn’t be unloaded all while my little kids and pets were running around oblivious – I think he is afraid to come back to my house ever again… I went beserko…. that;s the kind of thing I dont get. take the classes and know your weapon I am all for it… – kind of ironic my grandpa was one of the worst about gun safety – he had a loaded gun under his pillow and itwop or three hidden around the house… weird that I just put that together…. glad to see you back. :-)


    1. That IS the scary thought, isn’t it? We’re making sure our kiddos know their gun safety, and we hope that the knowledge itself might provide some safety… Though we hope even more fervently that there won’t be a situation where that knowledge needs to be put to use!


  23. Very nice sketch of your Granpa.

    I wish that Norwegians had the same right to own & carry guns like they do in the US and other countries. The law/government is not doing sufficient to protect us and they have limited the citizens rights to own arms.

    My guess is that they’re to afraid that the citizens will turn the guns on their government.


    1. I’m not sure whether it makes any difference, but it was the CLASS (how to use the gun safely) rather than the GUN that was the gift… That’s probably splitting hairs, though. ;)
      More on the topic (politics, morals, Big Questions) in the post following this one…


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