Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Partial Cure for Baldness

I have been working on a hair restorative to aid the follicularly challenged. I have not found a definitive cure, but can report with certainty that the following treatments do not work:
  1. Cold baths. A cold bath will reduce blood flow to the head and strangle the hair roots.
  2. Hot baths. This opens the pores and causes the hair to fall out.
  3. Vinegar baths. This causes the skin to wrinkle and the hair to be sucked into the scalp. It is, however, good for temporarily avoiding a visit to the barber.
  4. Salt water baths. Turns your hair white.
  5. Vigorous rubbing. This further encourages hair removal.
  6. Beef jerky. If you eat a lot of beef jerky over a two-week period, hair loss will slow. If you continue to eat nothing but beef jerky, however, hair loss will accelerate.
  7. Hard work. Perspiration from hard work acidifies the scalp and promotes greater hair loss than any of the above methods. If you wish to preserve your remaining locks, then whatever you do, keep labor to a minimum!
cudgelSometimes a sudden shock will initiate a spurt of hair growth. Once I was hit on the head by a falling tree branch, and noticed a week later that a fresh patch of hair had sprouted in the area where the branch had struck. Inspired, I cut a thick staff of oak and bade my wife to apply it firmly to another bald spot. She did so, and sure enough a few days later, after the swelling had gone down, there was a fresh shock of bristles covering the bruise.

This is not a pleasant cure though, and I will continue to look for something more practical. However, those of you who have just a small bare spot may want to consider using this method. For one dollar, I can even provide customers with a finely sanded oak cudgel that will not leave splinters in the skin. When you see me, just ask for “the hair club for men.”

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beaversharks and Rope Serpents

riverI must warn strangers to the Southern Appalachians about some of the native wildlife here. Many of you know to beware of bears and angry groundhogs, but there are other dangers not as well known.

Beaversharks, for instance, inhabit the mountain lakes and the larger rivers. They resemble small sharks, with very sharp teeth and powerful jaws, but possess large, flat tails. They only hunt at night, in packs, lying in wait in quiet pools of water for unsuspecting skinny-dippers. The would-be swimmers hear the loud slap of the beavershark tails and assume that a harmless beaver dam is nearby. They are mistaken, however. Those who jump into water inhabited by a pack of ravenous beaversharks will leave little for their relatives to bury.

Far more insidious is the rope serpent. The rope serpent, as its name implies, resembles a plain piece of rope. It is most often found lying near a body of deep water. When an unsuspecting hiker tries to pick up the “rope”, the rope snake wraps itself around the hiker and pulls him into the water. The hiker drowns and then the serpent, like a python, eats him whole.

The best way to protect yourself from beaversharks is to avoid skinnydipping at night. The next best thing to do is to toss a few cans of pork and beans into the water before you go swimming. If the cans disappear, you know that beaversharks are nearby. If you toss enough pork and beans into the water, the beaversharks will eventually develop gas and float to the surface, where you can pick them off with a rifle.

Do this from a distance, though, and only if the moon is full. I knew a man who tried this method but used a shotgun while hunting by torchlight from his rowboat. He got within ten feet of a large pack of beaversharks and began shooting. The creatures he hit sprang leaks and were propelled upward by the escaping gas. They reached their zenith at about 30 feet up and started falling back -- into the boat. The remaining gas ignited as the fish successively fell past the torches. Folks on shore said it reminded them of Gettysburg. The hunter survived, but will not admit to any error in judgement and blames his missing ear on General Sherman.

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Mrs. Doc reminds any children preparing reports for school that Doc gets all his facts from The Barnum Book of Natural History & Electrical Engineering.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two Cold Cures

I once fell sick with a bad cold while visiting an old medicine man who lived alone up in the mountains. He taught me to do the following:

  • First eat a large quantity of fried ramps for breakfast. Ramps are greens similar to leeks, but have a strong garlic odor. They cleanse the blood of impurities.
  • Next mix wild garlic in bear fat, and rub it across your chest. This breaks up congestion. If you wrap yourself in a blanket, you will heat the mixture and increase its effectiveness. However, your family will start to avoid you.
  • Lastly grate a large quantity of wild onions and take a tablespoon every hour. Bad spirits will not stay in a body full of onion juice. Your loved ones will go live with relatives at this point until you make a full recovery.

Onion juice is hard to take straight, so I added a shot of whiskey each time to mask the flavor. After several hours of onion juice and whiskey, I fell into a deep sleep. I awoke two days later and my cold was gone! However, I now needed a cure for a headache. When the old fellow told me it involved chewing tree bark, though, I decided to forgo the inconvenience of pulling splinters from my teeth.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experience was why native prescriptions are not more popular. Even after a hot bath, I had to wait an extra two days before Bleb would let me near him.

I have since adjusted the above cold cure into the following treatment: when sneezing and congestion set in, take one ounce of whiskey with a drop of Wizard Water© once every hour. Do this until you cannot feel any symptoms of illness. This may take several days, but when you are feeling better at least your mule won't disown you. Keep the original cure in mind if you ever ask advice from a medicine man who lives alone.

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Mrs. Doc hastens to remind readers that any “cures” Doc describes are to be taken with a grain of salt -- but not literally.

Copyright © 2009 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tips for Gathering Honey

groundhog photo by Jacob DingelOne way to stretch a household budget is to gather your own honey. If you live outside a city, this is usually a matter of patience and common sense. Just keep an eye on what’s blooming in your garden, then follow the bees who visit to their hive. Wear heavy clothes and gloves, put netting over your hat, and near the hive entrance create a fire that is more smoke than flame. The smoke will drive the bees away or stun them, and then you can collect the honey.

Should you ever try to smoke bees out of a dead tree, first make sure there is no animal burrow at the base of the tree. Also – and this is especially important -- make sure that said burrow is not connected in some way to the tree’s hollow trunk. As the trunk fills with smoke, the bees will seek every exit they can find, and if such a connection exists they will swarm through it. This will cause whatever is living there – such as a groundhog -- to leave in a hurry. He will express his anger about it with anything nearby, including a human trying to collect honey.

In such situations, if the groundhog’s jaws happen to lock onto your boot, do not be alarmed. Just let him chew on the hide as you extract your foot. If he decides to chase you, don’t try to climb the tree from which you’ve been collecting honey, as this will only agitate the bees that have not been stunned. In cases like this, it is best simply to leave the honey for another day, and hope you can outrun both the groundhog and the bees while wearing just one shoe. Whatever you do, don't step in the fire with your bare foot.

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