Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

It is the end of the year and a good time to make new resolutions. Therefore, I hereby resolve to

• Lose weight, preferably by convincing my mother-in-law to move to Kentucky.

• Drink while driving only if Bleb is familiar with the route.

• Print a disclaimer on the Wizard Water© bottle absolving me from responsibility for any misuse of the product, including but not limited to: rapid hair growth, rapid hair loss, sudden blizzards, general disatisfaction and bovine combustion.

• Find a quicker way out of Atlanta, Augusta, Cartersville, Dahlonega, Savannah, New Orleans, Memphis, Tallahassee, Paducah, and any place with a new jail.

• Invent a grease that will increase the squeaking of door hinges, and market it as a burglar/husband-coming-home-late-at-night alarm.

• Find new uses for Wizard Water©, perhaps in the area of whiskey production.

• Be more patient with Yankees, particularly when they are betting.

• Teach Bleb French, or the French shuffle.

• Teach Yankees to accept Bleb at the poker table.

• Keep Bleb out of the neighbor’s tobacco barn and far away from all incendiary products.

• Learn to speak fluent politician.

• Kick the pigs out of the basement as soon as the weather warms up.

Life is too short to be lived quietly, and too long if you do.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Festive Food

A Holiday Dinner

If you are a bachelor, or your wife is away visiting relatives and has left you to your own devices, you might try this easy-to-fix holiday meal:

1 can beans
several thick slices of bacon
a handful of candy canes

Fry the bacon in a large cast iron skillet. When bacon is fried, add beans and cook until the beans are hot. Pour into a bowl. Stick candy canes in the bowl. Serve.

If you have a block of cheese, you can make a fancier version. Chop the cheese into small chunks. Stick a candy cane into each chunk. Serve with the beans and bacon. Use the candy canes to dunk the cheese into the beans.

Your guests, if you have any, will be impressed.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Trouble with Christmas

lump of coalThe trouble with Christmas is the conditions you have to meet in order to reap its benefits. Hot apple cider is a necessary restorative in cold weather. You shouldn't be expected to sing for it. Stuffed goose with all the trimmings is just the thing for a hungry man who has labored all night playing poker in a poorly heated saloon; he shouldn't have to wait additional hours for in-laws to attend the meal.

Last month I expressed my dissatisfaction over such requirements with my friend Kringle during a friendly game of checkers at Mr. Nix's store.

"Just who exactly decides what is 'good'?" I asked. "I'm very good at selling Wizard Water©, but every year I find a lump of coal in my stocking. My wife, on the other hand, can't bake a biscuit that doesn't require a sledgehammer to break apart. They are only useful as wheel brakes, and yet every year she gets a new hat. I wish you would clarify what you mean by 'good'," I told him.

"Good," replied Kringle "is what benefits others, not just yourself. At least your wife's biscuits have some use."

"If I can do something that benefits others, then will you bring me a new hat, too?" I asked.

"I'll think about it," said Kringle. He excused himself to speak with Mr. Nix.

While he was out, I noticed a pair of squirrels lying on the frozen ground in front of the store. They hadn't been there a few minutes before. I walked outside, removed my scarf and gingerly picked them up. They appeared to be breathing. What would benefit these creatures the most, I wondered?

I remembered Kringle's red wool sack lying near the potbelly stove that heated the store. "A few minutes in a warm place might revive these fellows," I thought. I walked back and gently placed them inside the cloth bag. I intended to tell Kringle, but saw the sheriff approaching the store and decided to leave by the back door.

A week later I was in Mr. Nix's store again, and Kringle accosted me.

"I've been looking for you," he said. "Last week I was taking a sack of lace to the Ladies Home Aid Society for their annual potluck dinner and fundraiser. When I arrived at the dinner and opened the sack, a pair of squirrels jumped out. They were tangled in the lace. They dragged it through the puddings. Then they dragged it up the windows, but not before running across a half-dozen iced cakes, leaving a trail of footprints. By the time they were caught, there was pudding and icing smeared all over the floor and curtains. One of the creatures had to be fished out of the punch bowl. The table holding all the food was overturned by screaming women who were trying to leave the hall."

"You wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

"We experienced some very cold weather last week, as you recall," I said. "No doubt those poor squirrels needed the warmth of your sack. I would thank whoever put them in there."

"I would not," said Kringle, glaring at me.

"But saving those critters benefitted them and not the person who put them there, didn't it?" I asked. "That qualifies as good, doesn't it?"

Kringle gritted his teeth. "Technically, yes," he said. "And because you have shown me what type of good you are capable of, I'm going to ask you to do something that I've never, ever asked anyone else to do."

"What?" I said.

"Don't try to do any more good things this year. You've done enough." With that, he left the store.

I'm terribly pleased.

I hope he knows I wear a hat size seven and a half.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wizard Water Restores Energy

Doc asleepWizard Water©is a wonderful energizer, but should not be used in place of a good night's sleep, at least not on a regular basis. A little Wizard Water© may help you work through the night, but does not eliminate the need for rest. When its energy is expended, you will sleep for as many hours as you missed, plus a few extra. A stingy ranch boss I knew who was too cheap to hire a crew of cowhands did not heed this instruction. Instead he stayed up for three months in order to guide a herd of cattle by himself from Texas to Chicago. As soon as he delivered the herd he stopped taking my elixir. Six months later he awoke to find himself covered with tattoos and wearing a turban, on display at a sideshow exhibit outside Cairo, Illinois. They called him "The Sleeping Sikh" and charged the public five cents per person for admission. He is now embroiled in a lawsuit with the circus owner for a share in the ticket receipts.

So beware -- there are hidden risks. I recently used Wizard Water© to help me get through a lengthy a poker game. This game stretched over four days because several of the players were using gold dust and would only up the ante one grain at a time. I outlasted my competitors, but I paid for it. I must now sleep for the remainder of the week. I must also share my winnings with my wife. To do otherwise, she warns me, and I risk being sold to the nearest vaudeville troupe as "The Dozing Doctor."

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


turkey_dishesIf anyone tells you that the holiday season is a time of excess, point to your frugal management of food. Yes, some meals may seem extravagant, but thanks to iceboxes, cold weather and other preservation methods, nothing need go to waste.

All parts of the turkey, for example, have a use. The meat can be eaten as soon as it is roasted, or it can be smoked, dried or pickled and stored for later use. Turkey bones can be saved and added to soup for flavor, or boiled further into gelatin for broths and desserts. The large feathers can be made into writing instruments; the pin feathers can stuff pillows. One may also boil the beak and feet to the same purpose as bones, or dry them for use as back-scratchers. It is a little-known fact that the turkey head also makes excellent wolverine bait and, once caught, the wolverine can protect your valuables (after you have tamed it).

Likewise the fruitcake has a myriad of uses: door stopper; theatrical curtain counterweight and ship ballast, among other things. I knew a woman in Nome, Alaska, whose concerned relatives back East always sent her a good quantity of fruitcake to carry her through winter. When fuel grew low, she would toss one on the fire. It would usually burn for a week.

What may seem like excess could also merely be a misapplication of Wizard Water© to stretch a meal. A little flour and a few drops of Wizard Water added to turkey drippings, for instance, can more than quadruple the available gravy. Only try this if you are expecting a lot of guests, though. A widow who lived alone once added a little Wizard Water© to a 10-quart pot on her stove, thinking that would be adequate, but the pot overflowed. If she hadn't been wearing a bamboo bustle she might well have drowned before she floated into the yard. (She was not a wasteful woman, either; she sold the excess gravy to a bricklayer who used it as a sealant.)

So never look at your holiday dinner as an extravagance. If anyone criticizes the quantity of food you are serving, show them the cold storage room that you have built of stacked fruitcakes sealed with congealed gravy, containing all your smoked turkey, quill pens, pillows and back-scratchers, well-guarded by your trained wolverine.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some Thanksgiving Advice for Travellers Out West

Never trust a trail cook everyone calls "Vinegar."

Do not assume that men familiar with fixing steak will also know how to cook a bird.

Never tell a cowboy where you keep your whiskey.

Do not add gunpowder to the cavity of a turkey, no matter how hungry you are or how much whiskey you have had. This will not hasten the cooking process.

Do not weigh down a pot lid with rocks if the pot is to be placed over an open fire. This goes double if the turkey inside the pot has been stuffed with gunpowder.

If invited to share a Thanksgiving meal with cowboys, make sure they understand the previous two rules.

If you happen to be far afield on the eve of Thanksgiving and overtake a cattle drive, always ask if the cook is happy. If you learn that the cook has quit, and someone nicknamed "Vinegar" has taken his place, likewise excuse yourself with urgent business elsewhere.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lying Vs. Stretching the Truth

Some folks accuse me of telling untruths. That is not so. I always tell the truth, at least in part. A flat-out lie is just too dangerous by itself. I learned that from my uncle Hiram. Uncle Hiram -- may he rest in peace -- told lies without a grain of truth in them and an utter disregard for their ill effects. One day he told a whopper of a falsehood so big that it gave all his human listeners severe indigestion and their horses a bad case of colic.

I will not repeat it for obvious reasons. That falsehood was so big that as soon as the sound of what he said reached his own ears, Uncle Hiram's ears swelled up to the size of dinner plates. A little later the horses expelled their colic, but with such a powerful blast of air that they blew out the windows of nearby stores, and in all the wind Uncle Hiram was beaten to death by his own flapping ears.

That's why I don't tell lies.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mountain Music and Medicine Show - November 6

Tucker Station String BandThere's nothing like a brisk fall evening to bring folks inside for some good music and bad jokes. While the temperature in Dahlonega fell into the upper 30s, inside the Holley Theatre Curly Maple warmed everyone with their fast-paced, traditional and Celtic-flavored tunes, and the Tucker Station String Band (Ron and Reuben pictured at left) displayed some fine fiddling and harmonies.Steel String Session

Lisa Jacobi, Pete Dasher (pictured at right) and the members of Steel String Session kept the crowd heated up with some high energy mandolin, fiddle and dobro playing.

Folks who arrived early were lucky enough to hear the talented Dickerson kids sing and play traditional Appalachian tunes.

Mountain Music Medicine Show Nov2010

The Buzzard Mountain Boys pestered me and Professor Grant with their usual nonsense; I am used to it but Professor Grant (who is a northerner) is now afraid they will apply to a local college and use him as a reference.

Thanks to all the volunteers and supporters who make this show a success! I'll be back next year if the sheriff doesn't object.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Life of a Business Man

Doc and Thaddeus Augustus

It's been a busy week. While in Cartersville, I unwisely left a box of gunpowder near Bleb's feedbag. Bleb is not particular about what he eats. A day later, after I won the shooting contest award for originality, Bleb broke wind and most of the Wizard Water© bottles as well. He was at least a quarter mile away from the crowds, but the sound was quite clear.

Despite losing most of my product I nearly made a profit in Cartersville. That is, until someone pointed out that most card decks don't carry seven aces. I tried to explain that it was a French deck, but the gentlemen at the table felt that it was best if I played by American rules. Then, considering my involvement in the earlier incidents, they insisted that I return all funds and leave town as soon as possible. I thought this was very generous of them, because most gambling establishments don't give you a running head start.

Since then I've been busy restocking my Wizard Water© supply. I should be ready for my appointment in Dahlonega this coming weekend. I will be there at the usual spot on Saturday, Nov. 6, if the sheriff doesn't object.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Day in Cartersville

Doc Johnson shooting silk

I have just returned from the Cowboy Festival at Cartersville, Georgia. I am very tired and all out of bullets. Actually I forgot to pack bullets and had to use scarves. When the judges of the shooting contest asked me why, I told them that that is the way they are now doing it in France.

cowboy reenactors

I did not win, but I did get a prize for originality. Many thanks to "Doc" Stovall, Sheryl, Liz and all the folks who put this event together.

More later, after I've had a chance to feed Bleb.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Going, Going, Gone

Doc JohnsonAnother Gold Rush Days festival has come and gone and I'm happy to report that it went so well this year that when it was over I didn't need an escort to the county line.

Chris Smith and Steve Shaw held onto their title for fastest cross-cut sawing team, even though I kept my promise not to sell any Wizard Water© to them before the contest (last year they won in under 30 seconds. This year it took them over a minute). Steve ShawHannah Davis, age seven, was named Best of Show in the costume contest for a dress her mother had worn when she was Hannah's age. Gold Rush King and Queen Dr. Larry and Sallie Joe Sorohan were crowned by their grandchildren Alex and Griffin. Hannah DavisBenny Armour (pictured below in the white cap), who has been transporting the parade's Grand Marshals in his horse-drawn wagon since 1966, was named Grand Marshal himself and got to pick his co-rider in the shotgun seat for a change. Members of the Golden Eagle Band of North Georgia State College and University (NGCSU) found someone Benny Arnoldto unlock the room where their instruments were stored in time to march in the parade. Holden Ross beat a formidable group of older contestants to win this year's hog-calling contest, and the grandmotherly Brenda Evans beat out a much younger set of competitors in the buck dancing contest Brenda Evans(and no Wizard Water© was involved there, either)! My wife enjoyed fresh chicken tamales made by the good ladies of St. Luke's, and purchased some blackberry jam and locally grown tomatoes and apples at the farmer's market in Hancock Park just off the downtown square. I enjoyed some ham biscuits, corn bread, beans and rice, and porkchops-on-a-stick.

Many thanks to Wayne and Sabrina Gooch for their hospitality, and to the Jaycees who run this festival and handle the myriad of challenges that come their way. They not only oversaw the vendors, contests and parade, but they have promised town officials that they will retrieve all hogs still found within city limits by noon tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Going for the Gold

Doc Johnson at GoldRushI'll be up in Dahlonega, Georgia again Saturday and Sunday October 16 & 17 to emcee the annual Gold Rush Days festival. There will be food, crafts, contests, live music and on Saturday afternoon a big parade! Besides the proud marching cadets from the North Georgia College and State University, this year's parade will include folks in recyclable costumes! I'm not sure if that means they'll be wearing last year's costumes or riding unicycles, but you can be sure they will be eye-catching! Will Miss Sadie Bafile reclaim her buck-dancing title from last year's winner, Miss Maggie Dyer? Will Chris Smith and Steve Shaw hold onto their title for fastest cross-cut sawing team? Who will win the wheelbarrow race? Can anyone beat Amy Masten at the hog-calling contest? You can only find out if you're there!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mining for Silver

I once resided in a cabin out west where I'd staked a claim on a small tract of land that I was certain would produce silver.

A terrible windstorm blew through one night and moved my cabin down the mountain and halfway into the local saloon. When the owner complained, I showed him my property deed. It stated that I owned mining rights to all land within a quarter mile of my boundary marker. The marker was inside the center of my cabin. (I had, with great foresight, placed it there to prevent would-be property thieves from moving it.)

The saloon owner took issue with my claim. He did not want a stranger tunneling under his business. I offered a compromise: I would extract gold from a different quarry in exchange for renting him the mining rights to his saloon. He agreed. For several months thereafter I ran a very profitable faro table on the floor of his establishment while he dug beneath it.

My gambling business would have continued had not another storm blown my cabin back up the mountain. The wind was so fierce that it also blew out several tunnel shafts begun by the saloon owner. The shafts slammed into the mountainside, barely missing my cabin. A quick examination of these tunnels proved my silver claim to be worthless, so I attempted to recoup my investment by suing the saloon owner for property damage.

He was disinclined to pay me or to wait for the circuit judge's monthly visit. He instead hired a posse of a dozen or so of my former faro clients and tried to settle with me out of court. I left to seek my fortune elsewhere. Mining is a tricky business -- before you jump into it, consider all the angles!

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Desert Chase

Wizard Water© is a powerfully potent potion, but must be used with care! Do not spill a drop! I was once walking through high desert country when I tripped over a rattlesnake, accidentally spilling a few drops of Wizard Water© on him.

The snake reared up his tail and gave a long warning rattle. I picked myself up slowly, so as not to startle the creature further. That was enough time for the elixir to do its work, however. The snake grew in size. As his physiognomy increased, the distance between us decreased, and he -- no doubt thinking that I was approaching him -- rattled with greater urgency.

I needed no further warning. I leaped as far away as I could and then looked back.

Alas! The snake had lunged, too, and just barely missed my heel. I began to run, but he was on the move now and slithered after me with alacrity. I increased my velocity, clearing bushes and boulders. Still the creature pursued me, his size helping him to close the distance.

Well sir, I ran so fast that I ran out of my boots. Then I ran out of my pants, and then my drawers. The viper kept coming, though. With great relief I saw that we were approaching a cliff. Just before we reached the precipice, I slid into a gully. The snake could not brake so easily and sailed out over the edge. By this time he was going so fast that he split into a dozen smaller snakes. These split into a dozen more. They rained onto the landscape below.

Later, I warned some ranchers in the area that they might expect an increase in poisonous serpents. They dismissed my story, perhaps because I was not properly attired. "If that were true," said one, "we'd throw you to the varmints."

From this experience I learned two valuable lessons:
  1. Do not spill Wizard Water© on snakes.
  2. Never issue a dire warning unless you are fully clothed.
If you are ever in western Wyoming, you can see where it happened and judge the truth of this story for yourself. Just ask the locals to direct you to Snake River. Don't mention my name, though.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Note on Medicine Show Music

sawI always try to include a little music in my shows. The other day I won a cornet in a game of chance. I’m not sure what a cornet is, but if I can’t find somebody to play it, I know a fellow who says he can use it in his still.

At that same card game, another fellow tried to use his accordian as collateral for a bet. It has been my experience that the sound of air escaping from an accordian is best experienced in late winter, when firewood is running low. History records that the gallant defenders of the Alamo held that fort for 13 days against over 2,000 Mexican soldiers led by General Santa Anna. It is a little-known fact that the primary reason they were able to hold out for so long was because the defenders had an accordian and cotton wool to stick in their ears, and Santa Anna’s men did not. For these and similar reasons neither I nor my fellow gamblers would accept the accordianist’s offer. He had to scale up if he wanted to draw, but no one liked his pitch and he finally folded.

Usually I can find a fiddler to liven up my presentation, but lately I’ve been considering something more exotic, like a musical saw. It sounds like a fiddle, but unlike a fiddle you can defend yourself with it. (There is no defense for accordian music, but at least if you are holding a saw, no one will object out loud.)

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Narrow Escape With the Help of Wizard Water

One summer while I was in Texas a few years ago, I was set upon by a band of wild Indians. I was on foot and had just enough time to take a sip of Wizard Water© before running for my life.

We ran for miles, through grasslands and woodlands, up and down canyons, across desert. They would not give up. Finally, I came upon a frozen lake. I slid across it. The Indians were too numerous and fell through the ice. Thus I escaped.

Thank goodness for Wizard Water© - without it I could never have run until winter!

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mountain Music & Medicine Show - September

YahoolaMiz Lynn

I parked the wagon outside Nix's general store in Dahlonega, Georgia last night and was joined by the bands Yahoola, Little Country Giants, Mist on the Mountain, the Georgia Pick and Bow Kids, and that pair of reprobates the Buzzard Mountain Boys. Local lady Miz Lynn was so inspired by the latter (or by something they brought with them from the mountain) that she jumped up and danced on the stage! The mayor even joined in with them on a song or two! I must find out what they're adding to their corn.

One thing's for sure - a good time was had by all! Come out and see what it's all about the next time I'm up there on November 6, or visit the photo albums on their FaceBook page.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Windy Weather

The other day a storm came up out of the west, blowing eastward. It was so strong that it delayed sunset by four hours, and blew most of the knotholes out of my house.

I found them later all over the barn. I'll leave the knotholes there for now because they help keep the barn cool, but come winter I'm going to have to knock them out again and store them somewhere.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Advice for Bachelors

squirrelWhat not to serve a guest, no matter how quick and easy it may seem at the time:

- sardine and rhubarb stew
- hard-boiled figs
- fried whiskey
- fallen squirrels
- iced pinto beans
- poached bread
- ground chicory pie
- "found" possum
- Grits a la Mode
- spaghetti cooked in the same water you boiled the coffee
- mashed okra
- macaroni and lard

It is however, perfectly acceptable to serve any of the above to relatives you don't wish to see for a while.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Mosquito Problem

mosquitoesAbout a year ago I had the misfortune to get lost in the Atchafalaya swamp in Louisiana. Mosquitoes were everywhere. I wore my coat, despite the heat, to keep from getting bitten. Unbeknownst to me, however, the bottle of Wizard Water© that I kept in the top pocket was leaking.

The mosquitoes were ravenous. They tried to reach me through the wool coat. Suddenly I felt a strong breeze. I looked up. There, hovering overhead, was a swarm of the largest mosquitoes I had ever seen. I felt the damp pocket and realized the insects had absorbed the elixir while probing the coat.

I turned heel and ran as fast as I could. A fishing shack lay ahead, but even closer lay a dory pulled up onto high ground. I dove under the little boat just in time. The mosquitoes followed close on, hitting the hull so hard that their stingers drilled straight through the wood.

When I saw the pointed beaks appear inside the boat, I did not wait. Quickly, I turned each proboscis back against the wood so the insect could not remove it. Soon the underside of the boat looked like a carpentry project full of bent nails.

My troubles were not over, though. The boat began to rise. I hauled myself under the cross thwarts and hung on. The mosquitoes, their beaks stuck in the hull, lifted the upside-down dory into the air. They carried it above the shack, then above the trees.

I was worried at first, but the increased elevation enabled me to get my bearings. New Orleans lay to the east. Even better, by carefully swinging an arm or a leg, I discovered that I could direct the still-hungry insects to fly where I wished. We headed toward the city. We might have flown all the way there, but a strong gust of wind dislodged me and I fell into Lake Pontchartrain. I managed to swim safely ashore and walked to the French Quarter. The boat flew out of sight.

Since then, I always check the corks that seal my bottles. If you bought a bottle from me before this year, you should, too.


NOTE: Mrs. Doc knows that the passive voice is considered bad form, but Doc doesn't reform easily.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Danger in the Swamp

I once took a shortcut through the Okefenokee Swamp that was almost the death of me. I was on my way to Tebeauvilee, where my wagon was being repaired, and despite warnings from locals I thought the route would save me some time. I was not worried since I was wearing a good pair of buffalo hide boots and carrying a bottle of Wizard Water© in my back pocket. As I waded through the murky water, though, snakes repeatedly lashed out at my legs. I could feel the impact as they struck the boots. The leather was so thick though, that their fangs just stuck fast. Before long there were a couple dozen snakes attached to my boots, their tails lashing wildly in the water.

All that ruckus attracted the attention of a bull alligator. Bull alligators are the largest type of meat-eating water lizard. This one was about twice the length of my wagon and at least as wide. He likely took the splashing as a sign of a drowning animal. I noticed him slide off a log and head in my direction. I knew there was no way I could outrun him.

I reached a shallow spot where my boots were exposed to air and pulled the bottle of Wizard Water© out of my back pocket. Quickly I tapped a few drops onto the backs of the snakes and waited a couple seconds. The alligator was coming up fast. The snakes grew faster though. They expanded so much there was hardly room for one body against the next, but the heads were still stuck fast in the boots and the tails writhed like Medusa's wig.

The alligator lunged at me. He had not counted on the action of the enlarged tails, however. Whap! Whap! Whap! Several dozen snakes whipped across his snout with force of snapping bridge cables. He was knocked back a few feet. He came at me again, and was again knocked back. He would not give up. Again and again he lunged, more times than I could count. Finally the beast lost consciousness and the snakes beat him to death.

I managed to drag the body to a dry hillock. There I skinned it. I took the hide with me to Tebeauvilee, where I had it turned into a fine pair of boots to replace the snake-bitten pair.

The alligator hide boots proved even better than the buffalo hide boots. For one thing, they were waterproof. For another, considering their previous owner's single-mindedness, I'd have to say that they were at least twice as thick.

As for the old boots, I tried cutting off the snake bodies from that pair, but they just kept growing back. I finally sold them to a lawyer running for political office, who used them as an example of the wily ways of his opponents. He lost that election, but the boots were such an attention-getter that he used them for three more election campaigns.

One thing you can count on in this world: the persistence of reptiles and politicians.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Medical Knowledge

There are literally thousands of miles of blood veins and arteries in your body. This is why people get "tired blood."

Wizard Water© can help "tired blood," because it speeds up the process by which blood travels through the body without wearing it out. Combustion, however, is possible.

I knew a farmer who fed half a bottle of my elixir to his best dairy cow when her milk production slowed. The cow began to produce milk nonstop. The milk grew warmer and warmer, and he soon realized the cow was producing cream. Elated, he continued milking her.

Things might have been alright had her condition stabilized, but the cream grew thicker. Finally the cow ceased producing anything at all, though its udders were quite distended. In a panic, the farmer ran to fetch a veterinarian. This action probably saved his life. Upon his return, he and the animal expert found bits of Bessie splattered all over the stall, along with prodigious amounts of a thick white substance. The veterinarian tested the latter and determined it to be a mixture of yoghurt and cottage cheese. This greatly puzzled the college-educated doctor. "I can't explain it. There is no precedent for this in any of my textbooks," he told the farmer.

When the farmer found me, I was able to explain it easily. "The heat caused by speeding up the poor beast's constitution created a product she was not equipped to emit," I told him. "She burst apart. Next time, follow directions."

I don't believe in reading a lot of medical texts. Practical experience is the best teacher. (Besides, I know of too many horses who make far more money than I do, without ever having learned to read.)

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Recklessness of Youth

squashThis past Saturday I sold a bottle of Wizard Water© to a young lad in Toccoa with the usual warning that my product is highly concentrated and should only be used in small doses. He had other plans in mind, it turned out, because his mother came to me that afternoon and reported that she found her son wrapped in squash vines.

Apparently, after hearing what Wizard Water© can do, the boy decided that a full dose would save him the trouble of toting buckets of water to irrigate his family's garden. He recklessly poured a whole bottle of Wizard Water© over some freshly planted squash seeds. No sooner did he turn to get the hoe, however, than he heard a loud "boom!" and was showered with dirt. He looked back and saw that the squash plants had burst out of the soil. The vines were running towards him. Alarmed, he hacked at them with the hoe, but they grew so fast that he couldn't hit them twice in the same place.

He tried to flee, but the vines wrapped around his legs. Before he knew it, he was thoroughly enveloped. He called out to his mother -- too late. By the time she arrived the plants had carried the boy past the garden gate. The mother was distraught, of course, and ran to me for advice.

"Can he breathe?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied. "And we've gotten about fifteen pounds of squash off him already."

"Then I would leave him there for a day or so, long enough for him to consider the error of his ways and for you to harvest the crop that he was too lazy to take care of in the proper way. When you have enough squash, water the plant thoroughly with well water to dilute my elixir, and cut him free."

She promised to do as I advised.

Let this serve as a warning to other like-minded youth -- laziness does not pay! If you doubt me, you can go see for yourself -- the boy is situated directly opposite the Toccoa train depot...or he was yesterday. Just stay clear of the vines.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another Use for Politics

It was hot and dry again this week. My wife is now boiling shadows to water her garden.

I am working on a compound that makes use of political tracts as a fertilizer. I grew some very large watermelons earlier this summer with just a single campaign promise. Unfortunately, when we cut them open we found they were full of hot air. I am persevering, however. It seems to be more economical than actual manure, since a little bit goes a very long way.

copyright ©2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Possum Music

possum and persimmonsA customer once asked me if Wizard Water© was good for anything besides treating human illness. "Certainly," I replied. "It is the banjo player's best friend. All you need is a bottle of my elixir, a bowl of persimmons, a set of matches, and a small cannon.

"Around dusk, put out a bowl filled with persimmons and Wizard Water©. Wait nearby with the cannon. When a possum appears and begins to sup from the bowl, carefully aim the cannon. Do not fire immediately, but wait until the Wizard Water© takes effect. You will know it has taken effect when the creature grows to about half the height of a barn. Then take careful aim and fire. Due to the creature's increased size, you will not miss. Make sure the cannon is aimed away from any human habitation.

"Once you have killed the possum, skin it as quickly as possible and stretch the undamaged portion of the hide over a banjo frame. The hide should tighten of its own accord within a few days. In no time at all you will have a musical instrument at almost no cost.

"The advantages of a possum skin banjo are two-fold: 1) it serves as a warning to other possum; 2) its homemade appearance serves as a warning to those who would consider earning a living with this instrument."

Possum skin banjos, by the way, produce a clear tone, with no more hissing than what a banjo player usually encounters.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fortified Fireworks

patriotic postcardWizard Water© should not be used in the manufacture of fireworks. This discovery came my way through serendipitous circumstances, which my concern for public safety compels me to share. Normally I would not risk a show on an untested product, but last week, in an unexpected conflagration, I lost some excellent Chinese fireworks that were intended for a special Fourth of July medicine show in Savannah.

Since there was no time to replace them, I thought to improvise some rockets of my own creation using gunpowder and various colorants blended with a little of my elixir. Unfortunately, I did not take into account the way water expands when heat is applied -- especially Wizard Water.

I don't have time right now to go into the details of what occurred (I am expected in Biloxi on urgent business). Rest assured that no one was hurt, unless you count those who were trampled in the stampede. I expect the bursts to shrink later tonight as the evening grows cooler.

If the ordnance sergeant at Fort Pulaski inquires after me, tell him his wagon is safe. He can retrieve it from the south moat below the colonel's quarters.

copyright ©2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another Fourth of July

mule chewing on wire fenceBleb got into the garden again yesterday and ate his way through the cowpeas, lima beans and peppers. I was unaware of this when I went to the barn last night to store some fireworks for my show next week, otherwise I might not have lit the hanging lamp. Then again, I might. I had no idea that gas could carry that far.

I will be spending the rest of this week repairing the north wall of our barn. My wife is adding barbed wire to the garden fence. With luck, another shipment of fireworks will arrive before I have to leave for my appointment in Savannah on the Fourth. I will likely be too busy to write.

One of the neighbors inquired this morning as to whether I was teaching Bleb how to climb trees. "No," I replied, "he is just inquisitive that way." If you see a mule with a charred tail sitting in a tree, tell him to come home.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Hot Weather

We've been having a real hot spell this month. My wife has taken to fixing coffee by setting the pot out to boil on the front porch. I heard a knock on the door two days ago about noon, and it was a shadow from the oak tree next to the house trying to come inside. Bleb's own shadow has been crawling up into his harness lately, making it hard to fit properly.

I almost acquired a bearskin because of the heat. I was walking down by Curry Creek and spotted a very large bearskin draped across a bush near the water, with no humans in sight. I was about to remove it from the bush when I heard a splashing sound. I looked over at the creek, and there was an ursine creature about four times my size headed for the bush, sans fur. I left quickly -- the bear could have his skin and I would keep mine.

Yesterday I thought I'd try to cool things down a bit by mixing up some ice made from Wizard Water© . The ice froze so hard though, that none of the cold would rub off. I'm storing it in the fireplace in hopes that it will eventually warm up enough to provide a cool breeze when wind blows down through the chimney.

Until then, we are making do as best we can with cardboard fans and extra bits of shadow that my wife dug out of our well. I tacked them under the roof last night.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Piedmont College Bluegrass Festival

Vic & Curtis BlackwellI was up in Demorest, Georgia yesterday for their first bluegrass festival at the new Arrendale outdoor amphitheatre. They had a terrific bunch of performers -- The Buzzard Mountain Boys, American HoneyJohn Oliver & Carmel Ridge; the Solstice Sisters, Curtis Blackwell & the Dixie Bluegrass Boys (Vic and Curtis pictured above), Mountain Hoodoo, Bluebilly Grit, the Foxfire Boys, American Honey & the Wild Turkeys; Hawkproof Rooster and the Musselwhite Family (Molly Musselwhite pictured at right). Those Musselwhite kids have a hard time cracking a grin, but they produce a great sound. Bluebilly Grit is another family-based band that gets better every time I hear them -- and they were good to begin with!

MMMS castThe weather was a mixed bag -- it was cloudy but hot enough to melt my cardboard collar. It's a good thing that the cast and crew of the Mountain Music & Medicine Show always have plenty of funeral parlor fans and Wizard Water© on hand to help them keep cool! I look forward to doing this again next year -- thanks to everyone who made this such a great event!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Springs of Panacea

I was in the town of Panacea, near the Gulf Coast of Florida last week but could sell no Wizard Water©. The town already has its own curative waters -- a cluster of sulphur springs noted for their remarkable healing properties.

There are at least 13 of these small springs, and each one possesses a different virtue: one reportedly heals deafness of the left ear; another heals deafness of the right ear (care must be taken when applying the waters of each, because in combination they cause baldness). Another spring kills cockroaches -- although the owner of that spring asks that bathers first bag all such vermin prior to dipping them in the waters. Yet another spring miraculously removes elbow warts. Another makes an excellent bear repellant.

I could go on, but my list of what these springs cure would be incomplete, as a town official told me that new remedies are discovered weekly. I am certain that by the time of this writing they have come up with a few more.

The one thing Panaceans cannot do is properly bottle their water -- you must travel through the swamps of Florida and visit the town itself to receive the full benefit of the efflux. Wizard Water© has no such drawback. You can carry a bottle with you wherever you go and it will retain its full strength. In fact, if you throw it with enough force it will repel not only bears, but also landlords and persistent law enforcement officials.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sheep Dip Warning

sheepIt is well known that one can protect newly sheared sheep from skin infections and pests such as scabies by dipping them in a steaming bath of tobacco juice, sulphur and hot water.

I once thought to speed the healing and wool regrowth process by adding Wizard Water© to the mix, but must warn others not to attempt this.

The wool will grow out quickly but, owing to the addition of sulphur and tobacco, also tends to ignite easily. The speed of the wool growth, in fact, seems to be what initiates the critical spark.

If you happened to see the great illumination on the hillsides of Rancho Los Cerritos back in '81, rest assured that such an event will not happen again. I added a warning to the Wizard Water© labels and the ranch owner Mr. Bixby, after selling a lot of smoked mutton, decided to pursue barley farming.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More on Frugality

beerMy wife is very frugal and now insists that I keep a notebook and write down everything I purchase, in the belief that I will reduce my spending. It hasn’t quite worked out as she had hoped, however. Now I only buy things that I can spell.

We have a lot of beer, beef, and beans, but we are very short on flower.

Copyright © 2010 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blame It On Bleb

mule plowingI was all set to stop by the Shields Ethridge farm near Arcade, Georgia yesterday, but Bleb had other ideas.

He somehow contrived to leave the barn early that morning, and visited a neighbor’s tobacco-curing shed. I searched for him in his usual haunts – my wife’s garden, the fish pond, Happy Sal’s Dance Hall in town – but could not find him until the neighbor brought him back.

“Your mule has been in my curing shed,” the neighbor told me. “He ate a third of my tobacco crop.”

“I’m terribly sorry,” I said. “I’ll change the lock on the barn door. He’s figured this one out.”

“The crop was nearly cured, too.”

“Nearly – yes, Bleb can be somewhat impatient.”

“You owe me for that tobacco,” he said.

“I’m sorry, but I’m short of funds right now,” I replied. “Could my mule possibly work off the debt he incurred? It would serve him right.”

The farmer thought this was a reasonable solution, and so Bleb is spending his days plowing enough land to produce a replacement for what he ate. The farmer insisted he start right away, so we had to miss the mule festival at the Shields Ethridge farm. Bleb is duly chastened. He dearly loves a social gathering, especially if it involves others of his kind. I think he won’t make the same mistake again. At least until he figures out how to pick the new lock.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Animal Wrangler

Someone once asked me if travel improves a person’s behavior. The answer is no, but it does spread it across a wider area. If your personality is just too big for where you live, a trip across the country might give it enough room to make it useful rather than a liability.

I once worked as an assistant for an animal caretaker at a circus. One morning when we were stopped at a small town out West, a giraffe escaped. I was sent to find it and bring it back. I had no wrangling experience whatsoever, and had no idea how I would capture the creature if I did locate it. I needed the job though, so I went out. I asked everyone I met if they had seen a giraffe, but folks just gave me queer looks. Finally I realized that no one out there knew what a “giraffe” was. When I told a cowboy that I was looking for a long-necked, piebald calf, he nodded and showed me where I could find it.

“I figured him for a maverick ‘cause he had no brand,” he said. “I thought about adding him to my herd, but he was grazing on a tree. There just ain’t enough of those kind of tall greens on the trail to Abilene to feed such a particular eater.”

“That’s why folks give them to us,” I told him solemnly. “Because of their tree-eating proclivities. They’re unusual here, but as common as cats in upstate New York, and a whole lot peskier. They were imported from Africa to trim trees, but they got out of hand. The apple farmers hate them. They reproduce like cats, too. I’d keep a close eye on your calves this spring. If you see any with long necks, wire Mr. Barnum and he’ll take them off your hands the next time he comes through town.”

“We ain’t got no call for tree trimming out here,” he said. “There’s so little shade in these parts, I’d hate to see it all get et up. Thanks for the warning.” He was so worried that he roped the giraffe for me. I returned with it two hours after I’d left. My boss was very impressed.

“You have a real way with animals,” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I think I’m better with people.”

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Stagecoach Adventure

stagecoachThe other day a former stagecoach driver told me that a single bottle of my elixir saved his life. He was transporting mail between Abilene and Tucson, he said, when he was set upon by a dozen masked gunmen.

The gunmen began shooting, and he returned fire. He soon ran out of bullets, though, and commenced to throwing everything he could spare at them – canned beans, parasols, whatever was handy. Nothing helped, until he chanced upon a bottle of Wizard Water©. He threw that, too, but the bottle slipped out of his hand and fell backwards, towards his own team of horses. It hit the rigging, broke, and splashed Wizard Water© all over their legs. Within a minute those legs grew to five times their normal size.

Soon every gallop took the coach high above the cactus. The vehicle would sail through the air for a few seconds, then slam back into the trail. At one point the team topped some telegraph poles. The gunmen slowed their shooting, fascinated, and probably unsure of where to aim.

Finally, the driver spotted a train in the distance. He urged the horses in that direction. They caught up with the locomotive, leaped, and the entire stagecoach landed in an open car of unshucked corn.

The train pulled ahead of the highwaymen. Out-run and out-leaped, the bandits gave up pursuit.

Over the next several hours, the legs of the horses began to revert to a normal size. By the time the locomotive finally stopped, they looked like any other set of equines buried waist-deep in grain. When the stationmaster saw the coach in the corn, he insisted that the driver pay full passage for himself, the stagecoach and the team.

This happened many years ago, said the driver, who quit the postal service shortly thereafter to join the Texas Rangers. “I wanted a job that was less dangerous than transporting mail," he said. "I can face armed bandits. What bothers me is surprise cargo. Also, when we started clearing the tops of the cactus, I couldn't help thinking that the good Lord did not intend for us to drive to heaven."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hauling Smoke

In my younger days I tried numerous professions. One of the hardest jobs I ever had was delivering coal from a train station to homes in Boston. The hours were long, the coal was heavy and the work paid very poorly.

After about a month, I decided to go into business for myself hauling smoke instead. It weighed less and I figured it would pay better. I’d noticed that on particularly cold winter days, the smoke from the coal-burning stoves and fireplaces didn’t just hover over the rooftops – it froze solid. It blocked sunlight and made the short, dark days of winter even darker for people living in those houses. I would walk from building to building and offer to clear away the smoke for a fee. Folks paid readily.

To clear the air, I would climb onto a roof with a ladder, saw out a block of smoke, tie a rope around it and pull it into my cart. Then I wrapped the block in a wet sheet. The sheet would freeze in the winter air, sealing in the carboniferous cloud should any start dripping off, and add enough weight to keep the block from floating away. I would continue in this manner until the roof was clear, and then move on to the next building. When the cart was full I would take the blocks to a lumber mill, where I packed them in sawdust for shipping. I sold most of the blocks to the army. They bought a lot of smoke to make jerky.

This worked fine until spring, when the Army switched to canned beef. The thaw also made it too difficult to saw the clouds effectively. I didn’t quit, though. I took old barrels and attached them to the tops of the chimneys in order to fill them. When I had enough to load a rail car, I shipped them to Tennessee. There they were purchased by a certain whiskey manufacturer I knew who liked to age his whiskey in smoke-cured barrels.

Of course, once the barrels were opened a lot of the smoke escaped, but the prevailing winds blew the cloud east into the Appalachians. Much of it remains there to this day. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Smokey Mountains.” Now you know how they got that name.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Banjo Vine

Very few people know this, but not too long ago banjos were not made, but grew wild up in the mountains.

I first learned this on a trip to Nuckollsville, where I stopped to sell some Wizard Water©. I was hoping to hire a local musician to entertain the crowd in between pitches, and I was directed to a cabin just outside town. The fellow named Bryson who lived there said he couldn’t help me, though, because it was “too early in the season.” I asked him what he meant, and he said “Well, the banjos ain’t ripe yet.” Then he pointed to a clearing in back of the cabin. There lay all manner of miniature banjos, attached to a trailing vine that wound all over the yard. None of them were bigger than your fist, and all the necks were green, where they grew out of the vine.

“When do you think they’ll be ripe?” was all I could think to say.

“Oh, long about June,” he replied. “But most of my crop is spoken for. I promised it to a mail order company.”

“About how many do you plan to produce?”

“That depends,” he replied. “on how many get et by beetles first.”

“Well,” I said, “we may be able to help each other.” I proceeded to demonstrate the wonders of Wizard Water©. I put a drop on one of the immature instruments. Within minutes it had grown into a full-sized banjo.

“I’ll take a case of that stuff,” said Bryson. “if you’re willing to put my payment on account until I get paid for the crop.”

“I’m afraid I’ll be out of town by then,” I told him, “but I’ll trade you a half-dozen bottles for this full-grown banjo and your services.”

The deal was struck, and I had a seasoned player and a slightly green instrument for the next two days. I paid him at the end of that time, but warned him not to over-water his crop. “Just a drop is probably all you need,” I said. “Whatever you do, don’t water the roots!”

He didn’t listen. Two months later, Sears, Roebuck & Co. was suddenly offering the instrument by mail order for fifty cents each, when the standard price was at least $1.75. The countryside was overrun with cheap banjos. Banjo clubs popped up all over the country, and banjo orchestras began to show up in some of the larger cities.

I stopped by the town on my way to Dahlonega and paid Bryson a visit. His property was covered by the vine; banjos were stacked in piles higher than his cabin.

“I wisht I’d listened to you, Doc,” he moaned when he saw me. “This here’s too much work, and the price the mail order company will pay just keeps going down.”

“Supply and demand,” I replied, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Not long after that, a fire swept through the area. Bryson’s crop was totally destroyed, and the Knuckollsville banjo craze was over. Bryson took up gold mining.

I still have that first instrument, though I don't play it. It continued to sprout vines, and I made the mistake of leaving it leaning against the house, where it took root. Now it twines around the porch posts, and occasionally sprouts an instrument or two. I have no plans to go into production, though, as I am too busy selling Wizard Water©. Anyone who wants to pick a banjo, come on by the back porch.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Hunting Aid

I once had a fine hunting dog, but since the patent medicine business was keeping me very busy I sold him to a couple backwoodsmen I know -- Jim-Bob and Joe-Bob from Buzzard Mountain. They came to me about a week later and said they wanted their money back.

“What for?” I asked. “That’s the best hunting dog in three states. He’s treed everything from raccoons to alligators.”

“Well he’s no good at duck-hunting,” said Jim-Bob. “We want our money back so we can get a smaller dog. Maybe one of them Mexican chihuahuas.”

“A chihuahua?” I asked, “For duck-hunting?”

“Yep,” said Joe-Bob. “We can barely get your dog up in the air. We figure we can throw a chihuahua much higher.”

“You don’t want a dog for that,” I said. “Everyone knows cats are better at catching birds. I’m happy to refund your money, but I happen to have a half-dozen trained birding cats that will save you a trip to Mexico.”

“We don’t need a half-dozen; just one,” said Joe-Bob.

“You say that now,” I replied, “but the next time you startle a flock of mallards, you’re going to wish you had a few spare cats. I will even include a bottle of Wizard Water© to strengthen your throwing arms.”

That said, they exchanged the dog for six young felines and a bottle of my elixir. The dog seemed none the worse for wear, except it refused to go near ponds.

When I recently returned to Buzzard Mountain, Joe-Bob informed me that the cats had not caught a single duck.

“We ain’t upset, though,” he added. “They’re too good at keeping crows off our corn. Jim-Bob thought he’d feed them some of that Wizard Water©, and danged if it didn’t improve their leaping ability. You never seen so many cats leaping so high above a field of corn, just a-swattin’ crows out of the air left and right.”

“Well that’s wonderful, gentlemen,” I said. “I know you will put the corn they save to good use. I was prepared to help you if the cats didn’t work out for their original purpose, though. My mother-in-law has acquired one of those Mexican dogs you spoke of, and you are right – they are perfectly suited for duck-hunting. Hers is especially good at clamping on to something with its jaws and not letting go. For a small fee, I will to loan it to you.”

The boys declined my offer, but only because they were too busy with their farm. I will check with them next fall, though, when the geese fly south.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

An Instrument of Note

The largest stringed instrument I ever saw belonged to a church in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. The church was small and could not afford to haul an organ from the lowlands up the mountain roads, so instead the members commissioned a local woodcarver to make them an extra-large dulcimer. It was about as big as a regular church organ, with over four dozen strings , and it took half the church choir to play.

Now it’s a little-known fact that the more strings an instrument has, the more weight it will gain over time, due to the accumulation of notes that get caught in the strings. This dulcimer was too heavy to shake out on a regular basis, and after a year it became so crammed full of notes that even the male choir members could barely play it.

I was in the town at this point, and the choir director asked me if my Wondrous Wizard Water© could strengthen weak finger muscles so the men could play the church dulcimer.

“Certainly,” I said, “it helps strengthen anything you care to use it on.”

He bought two cases of Wizard Water© , which I thought was a wise investment. I learned later that he gave most of it to the choir, and what little was left he added to a whitewash that was painted on the church exterior.

A few months later a tornado ripped through that town. It flattened buildings on both sides of the church but -- except for some broken windows -- the church itself was left miraculously (I would say wondrously) intact. The only thing lost was the dulcimer. Church members said they found it in a field six miles away, split into its component parts – a banjo, a mandolin, a fiddle and a washtub bass. They recognized it because some of their sheet music was stuck in the strings. Taking this as a sign, a few members used the parts to form a gospel string band. Nowadays that church’s services are among the liveliest east of the Mississippi, and they get a good crowd at funerals, too.

“A bunch of separate string instruments are a lot easier to play than the single large dulcimer,” the choir director told me. “We don’t get in each other’s way as often.”

“Of course it’s easier, I replied. “You’ve got Wizard Water© to keep your musicians’ fingers strong and limber!”

“And,” I added, “the wind most thoroughly cleaned out those strings.”

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Last Week's Show

Georgia Public BroadcastingWe had a little excitement when I was in Dahlonega last week. Woodrow Parks reported that there was a shoplifter in the area. He says a fellow walked into his drygoods store and spent a lot of time in the lingerie section. When Woodrow tried to confront him, the man disappeared. Woodrow says the stranger just gave him the slip.

So Woodrow noticed his stock was low and called the sheriff to report a theft. The sheriff came and asked him if he could provide the particulars. Woodrow said no, the stranger ran off with them. The sheriff said what he meant was: did he have a description? Woodrow told the sheriff he was pretty sure the stranger only took silk. So if you see this fellow, let the sheriff know.

I can't help you if you missed the thief, but if you missed last week's show, you can view some pictures of it in my photograph album.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Mountain Music & Medicine Show - March 20

Russell TannerThe sheriff was nice enough to let me park my wagon across from Nix's store up in Dahlonega last night for a performance of the Mountain Music and Medicine Show, I think in part because he wanted to see the show himself. With groups like the the Hoyles, the Georgia Mudcats, the Skillet Lickers, Mist on the Mountain, and the Buzzard Mountain Boys, who can blame him?

Etowah AdamsYoung Etowah Adams and his sisters Sarah and Selu opened the show with several pieces they learned through the Dahlonega "Pick and Bow" program for young musicians. I wish more towns had this kind of program (I could supply my show more easily with talented young artistes)!

Thanks to all the folks who work so hard to bring this show to town. Check back later this month to see more photos of the show. Hope to see y'all again in May!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Treatment for Snoring

On rare occasions, my recommended cure for snoring does not work. I once knew a man who respirated in his sleep with such great vocality that he woke his family AND the neighbors, and no amount of Wizard Water© corkage seemed help. He came to me, very distraught.

“What can I do, Doc? My wife says I keep her awake all night, and everyone within two miles agrees with her!”

“Does it sound something like a whistle and a roar?” I asked.

“So I am told.” he replied.

“There’s your answer,” I replied. “Hire yourself out to a riverboat company. I know a captain who needs men like you. He says they are a cheap alternative to an expensive steam whistle. He hires one man for the day shift, and one for the night shift. Room and board are covered.”

The man took my advice. The last I heard, he was plying the Mississippi between Hannibal and New Orleans. The folks along the river occasionally complain about the loudness of the new “steam whistle,” but the captain is satisfied because other boats keep a wide berth. His family and neighbors are satisfied, too, because they get a full night’s sleep when he is home now, due to the fact that he has accustomed himself to working the day shift.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the Advantages of Staying Calm

I was once chased by a grizzly bear. If you have never seen one of these creatures, all you need to know is this: grizzly bears are to regular bears what elephants are to dachsunds, but with more teeth.

It happened late one night when I was taking a little-used back road, riding a horse I had borrowed from an associate. I was on my guard against surprises, otherwise I might not have noticed the snap of a tree branch behind me. I looked back, and at first wondered if the full moon had gone behind a cloud, because the trail behind me was pitch black where it had been bathed in moonlight only a moment before.

Then I noticed a silhouette against the star-filled sky, and realized that I was looking at a living creature. It was a bear as big as a buffalo. To be perfectly accurate, it was as big as a buffalo standing on top of a courthouse. That might not have alarmed me, had the creature not also been headed in my direction.

I am not one to panic. Calmly, I turned around and, with as little movement as possible, urged my horse to increase its speed. This it did, but not by enough, I soon learned. The sound of cracking limbs grew closer. I looked back and saw the bear just a few hundred yards away and closing fast. I spurred the horse forward. The horse, which must have gotten a whiff of the beast, leaped ahead with alacrity as if it had been slapped by lightning.

Unfortunately, we were headed downhill, and this only helped the great creature. My steed jumped over boulders as tall as fence posts, but it did no good. The bear merely swatted them aside and continued to gain on us. He got so close that I could hear his grunts. I knew that I had but a few seconds before we were overtaken.

Just then, I saw a low-hanging branch ahead. I resolved to grab that limb and take my chances in the tree it was attached to. With luck, the bear would not notice my absence and continue to pursue the horse. I hoped that, once lightened of its human load, the horse would lead him far away.

We rode under the tree and I reached for the branch. Unfortunately, the bear dove for us at that very moment. The impact knocked me unconscious.

When I awoke, I found myself still in the saddle, tangled in the reins and moving along at a good clip. I could not understand why I was still alive. Where was the bear? I looked around. No sign of him. The road entered an open area and in the full moonlight I saw the answer: the bear was beneath me. He was wearing the bridle and bit, and saddled just like the horse. While I lay unconscious and tied to the saddle, that bear must have eaten the horse from tail to nose, right under its harness and all its gear.

Well I rode that grizzly down the mountain into the next town. Since it was so late and I did not wish to disturb anyone, I guided him into the livery stable myself and put him in an unoccupied stall. There, the satiated creature curled up and promptly fell asleep. When I was sure he was slumbering soundly I dismounted, borrowed another horse and quickly went on my way.

So remember - do not panic when confronting danger! Keep a cool, rational head and you should come out no worse for the wear! (This especially applies to livery stable owners who forget to lock their doors at night.)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Secret to Longevity

The secret to longevity is to live as long as possible. Proper diet and exercise can help. Here are a few tips on how you can incorporate proper diet and exercise into your life:
  1. Do not overeat.
  2. Do not undereat.
  3. Do not eat anything your mother-in-law fixes after a heated discussion.
  4. Do not eat near wild animals, or dispute their claim to a meal you thought was yours.
  5. Chew your food thoroughly. Always spit out foreign objects such as sand and lead shot.
  6. Do not eat with your back to the door, or your head in full profile near a window.
  7. Always eat in a room with at least two exits.
  8. Practice running. Running is a vastly underestimated aid to longer life.
  9. Swimming can also extend your life.
  10. Do not forget how to climb. Some people regard climbing as just a sport for young boys, but the ability to climb trees and scale walls is physically beneficial for adults, as well.
  11. Practice ducking on a regular basis. Ducking – the act of suddenly bending one’s head or entire body to one side or another -- is a good form of exercise, as it maintains muscle flexibillity and keeps you mentally alert.
All of the above practices, combined with the help of Wizard Water©, will contribute to a longer and healthier life than you would have known otherwise. Last but not least: learn when to stop talking. This is called “exercising restraint.” It is a particularly healthful form of exercise, especially when combined with running, swimming, ducking, or tree-climbing. If you doubt this, just look at me -- I am living proof that it works.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yankee and Other Languages

I have been learning a new language, to help widen sales of Wizard Water©. Of course as a doctor I must know Latin, but most folks don’t speak Latin, and it even confuses a few pharmacists when I write a prescription (I am often asked to translate “izard-way ater-way”).

So now I’m learning “Yankee.” It’s like English, but louder. Already I can say “Wassamatta?” (“What’s the matter?”), “Gedowdadaway” (Get out of the way) and “Yoozegize” (Y’all). I expect to be fluent fairly soon, as languages come easily to me.

Next I will take up “Washington Politician.” I would like to seek funding for my perpetual motion machine and luminescent dairy cow, and it may help.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Romantic Notions

There are many tokens and notions you can give to a woman that will earn her affection – flowers, perfume, candy, and jewelry – but most of these cost a good amount of money. I have found a few fairly inexpensive things that you can do or get for your sweetheart which have the added advantage of leaving her speechless. I offer them here for the inspiration they may provide:
  1. Put some suet on her favorite bonnet, so songbirds will alight on it.
  2. Whitewash the dinner plates.
  3. Starch her best tablecloth into a form that both fits neatly and firmly over the table and offers a sculptural centerpiece for the placement of special dishes.
  4. Spread chicken feed in the yard to spell the words “I Love You”, and make sure to call her after the chickens are released.
  5. Oil the butter churn.
  6. Fill the well bucket with catfish.
  7. Buy her a pair of bright plaid stockings. Plaid stockings are both appreciated and cheaper than any other kind of stocking. You can gussy them up with a little lace.
  8. Give her a hat decorated with ribbons and stuffed squirrels. Or ribbons, stuffed squirrels, and suet.
These are just a few of the romantic gestures and notions with which you can impress your loved one with a minimal investment of cash. I guarantee she won’t know what to say.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Farmer’s Friend

Every product I develop is thoroughly tested at home before I take it on the road. I may stop this practice, however. Last summer I came up with a way to help farmers who must milk their cows before sunrise. I collected a lot of lightning bugs and fed them to our cow. Sure enough, her udders began to glow in the dark. I neglected to tell my wife about it, though, before I went out on a sales trip. When I returned a few days later, she told me that if I planned to market this product I should also include something to treat chickens that stop laying eggs – as ours had -- due to prolonged exposure to a woman’s screams.

copyright ©2010 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.