Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Dinner

19th century feastThere is nothing like a plate full of roast beef, goose paté, oyster croquettes, potatoes mashed with chives and heavy cream, cranberry jelly, pickles and soft white bread rolls with sweet butter, followed by Neapolitan ice cream, plum pudding, coconut cake, Madeira wine, a good imported whiskey and a Cuban cigar.

Unfortunately, my wife only cooks what is near at hand. Once again our holiday table is laid out with roast possum, fried hog's feet, cornbread dressing, applesauce, pickled green beans, sweet potato pie, apple cider and coffee.

In an effort to help, I told her that I've had much better meals in New York city, as well as Boston and New Orleans. "Your cooking lacks sophistication," I said. "We need a more cosmopolitan table."

She invited her mother from Atlanta.

I am not sure if she is trying to comply or shut me up.

Copyright © 2011 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Not to Put Into a Christmas Stocking

1. Jelly
2. Loose tobacco mixed with lemon drops
3. Live turtles
4. Anything with a beak.

Copyright © 2011 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Company You Keep

old money and cardsMy old acquaintance Kris Kringle was in town the other day to pick up supplies. He lives up north and only gets in every few months.

"I don't see how anybody could live alone year round," I told him.

"I keep busy," he replied.

"Yes, but don't you miss company?" I asked. "Don't you long for a good poker game among friends?"

He thought about that and allowed as how it might be nice. It so happened I knew of a game that very night. He joined me and two miners I'd recently met.

All went well until one of the fellows, "Arkansas" Jack, claimed a full house with five aces.

"How do you figure that?" asked Kringle.

"Well look at it," said Jack. "Three of a kind and two of a kind. That's a full house."

"I'm looking at it," said Kringle, "but I'm not sure you get what I'm saying."

"I'M SAYIN' that my full house beats your three of a kind," said Jack, raising his voice.

"I understand that," said Kringle, "But since when does one deck of cards hold five aces?"

"Well obviously this one does," said Jack. "That's what I was dealt, and I'm not arguin' with it. What's more, that one hand and this other hand holding my .45 say the pot is mine."

And so "Arkansas" slid the pile of coins, gentlemen's watches and one diamond stickpin into his hat, excused himself from the table, and left.

Kringle looked hard at me.

"You think I had something to do with that?" I exclaimed. "He made off with my wife's favorite hatpin."

"I think," said Kringle, "that you should not play with the same people twice."

"I generally don't," I replied. "but only because I like meeting new people."

"I was referring to myself," he said, glowering. "At least until you get a new pair of glasses."

And with that he left, too.

Guess I know what I'll find in my stocking later this month.

Copyright © 2011 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Slow Hearing

clothes pinsWizard Water© can speed up hearing, as I've mentioned in the past. However, did you know that Wizard Water© can also s-l-o-w hearing down? That's correct -- if you don't like waking up before the cock crows, want to follow rather than lead the pack, and most especially don't wish to know when your time is up, simply put a drop of Wizard Water© on the back of each ear and quit listening to the world at large. Before too long, you will sleep late, avoid dangerous situations by letting others take the risks, and generally live a longer, happier life.

I knew a luthier's assistant who followed this prescription and slowed his hearing down so much that he only learned of bad news ten years after the fact. Though his boss fired him, he continued carving fiddle pegs and managed to produce so many that his former boss started selling the overflow as clothes pins and corset tighteners. The luthier eventually had to rehire the fellow in order to expand the business.

Consider that if you ever think that faster is better. Sometimes you can get ahead even though you're behind by holding on, as long as you keep up.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Political Advice

A word of advice: Never eat dinner at your mother-in-law's house if you vote for the "Free Silver" Party. She will hide all the utensils.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things to Be Thankful For

  1. Ten cords of firewood, stacked and dry under the shed.
  2. A clean chimney, from which all starling nests have been removed.
  3. A bin full of coal, even though it cost you your gambling winnings.
  4. A roof that doesn't leak because you spent two days putting down new tarpaper.
  5. Sweet potatoes all dug up and curing in the basement.
  6. A ham and a turkey, though they cost almost as much as the coal.
  7. A well-fed, newly-shod mule who doesn't have foot-rot.
  8. Two sacks of cornmeal, a sack of sugar, ditto coffee beans and 20 tins of oysters.
  9. No plans to travel out of town on business.
  10. A wife guaranteed all the previous things, and who is therefore willing to fix you dinner.
copyright ©2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Dissatisfied Customer

I was at a hotel in Abilene awhile back and met a cowboy who'd just ridden into town after being on the trail for a couple months. He was hot, dusty and exhausted. After hearing me extol the virtues of my elixir, he purchased a bottle and retired to his room.

Later that afternoon I was accosted by the hotel manager.

"Did you sell some of your Wizard Water© to the cowhand in room 202," he demanded. I admitted that I had indeed sold my elixir to a fellow of that trade, but did not know in what room he resided.

"Well right now he resides in a bathtub!" cried the manager. "He cannot get out and says that you are responsible! What do you know about this?"

I told the manager that I did not place any hotel guests in hot water. "Just how," I added, "did the fellow say he got into such a predicament?"

"He says he drank a jigger of your Wizard Water©. Then he poured some into his bath for good measure."

"Oh dear," I said.

"'Oh dear' indeed! He now exceeds the circumference of the vessel in which he sits! Indeed, sir, he overflows it! "

"Well the fault clearly lies with this cattle-wrangler. I always caution my patients to take only a small prescribed dose. He has clearly exceeded that dose," I replied.

"Yes, but he is too tightly wedged and cannot budge! How can we separate him from the tub? We have guests waiting to use it," cried the manager.

"I cannot help you there, sir" I replied. "I am a medicine salesman, not a civil engineer."

I left soon thereafter. The cowboy's condition would eventually revert to normal, I knew, but I did not want to encounter him after his uncomfortable experience -- particularly if he discovered that the drain and plug had branded him.

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Variety Acts

I was up in Dahlonega last night for another Mountain Music and Medicine Show. Sawnee Creek, Mountain Rascals, American Honey and the Wild Turkeys, and Cedar Hill made the show one of the best ones yet – and not just because Jim Adkins of Cedar Hill did a terrific duck impersonation.

I have worked at bringing a singing animal into my medicine show, but it is difficult to teach a parakeet to keep up with a banjo. Bleb is also giving me trouble. He only knows “Happy Birthday to You,” won’t learn anything else, and -- according to my wife -- he sings off-key.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Fun Hallowe'en

Victorian Hallowe'enTomorrow night is Hallowe'en. I have no sweets in the house, but that is alright. I am prepared. I know over 200 card tricks. Last year I won 10 popcorn balls, 7 rolls of taffy, 15 lemon drops, 24 pieces of butterscotch, two wax candles and 12 cents. I hope this year someone has a caramel apple.

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cowboys in Cartersville

I was back in Cartersville this past Saturday and Sunday for their annual Cowboy Festival and Symposium. I thought cowboys only went to rodeos and round-ups, but it looks like they get studious at times, too. They also get musical and poetic. This event featured string bands and cowboys reciting their own poetry, as well as shooting and cooking demonstrations, Indian dancing and fast-draw competitions. One fellow who tried my Wizard Water© fired off shots so fast that he got a blister on his trigger finger. I lost him as a customer, but gained a few others as a result.

A fellow all in black named Hopalong Cassidy also stopped by and asked me if I'd seen any masked men riding with a herd of cattle. I had not, but said I would keep an eye out. Such a thing is hard to miss. I did pass a herd of goats on my way home, but they were unaccompanied.

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

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gold Rush Days Again

I had a great time emceeing Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega, Georgia, the past two days. The weather was clear and sunny, and there were plenty of contestants for the crosscut saw contest and other events.

This year the Grand Marshal was a dog -- a yellow stray named "Nugget." Nugget is known for her punctual rounds to many of the downtown merchants, particularly those who serve food. I was Grand Marshal a couple years ago. I wondered why the town would pick a dog over a human. Mr. Nix pointed out that although I was certainly a good choice, the parade organizers needed someone who wouldn't compete with the merchants in selling a product. The sheriff said it was because the dog ate more biscuits and gravy than I did, and thus promoted commerce. My wife said it was because Nugget was a lot prettier. Whatever the reason, she charmed the crowds. I will have to study her technique.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Apple Festival

I visited the annual apple festival in Cornelia, Georgia this past Saturday. They had more pottery for sale than apples. There were stoneware plates and ceramic bowls, porcelain butter dishes and earthenware creamers, jugs with faces and vases of all shapes and sizes, but no yellow-specked King Solomon apples or dark red Limbertwigs. Maybe all the good produce had already found buyers, and the stuff no one could swallow was still up for grabs. That is possible, as any trip to the state capitol will tell you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Modern Photography

I am an impatient man and am constantly looking for ways to do things faster. Take photography, for instance. Why should it take hours to create a photograph? Why not a few minutes?

Accordingly, last month I offered some Wizard Water© to a photographer I know in order that he might conduct an experiment. The fellow added a few drops of my elixir to the chemicals he used to develop his contact paper, to see if it sped up the development process. It didn't have the desired effect. Instead of the portrait developing in less time, the process took even longer than usual. To make matters worse, the visage he photographed did not appear at all. All that showed up was an image of a pair of hands seemingly reaching toward the camera lens -- hands that did not even belong to the photographer. He processed three such sets of images before the truth dawned on him: the paper was reproducing the light that had fallen on it when it was first manufactured.

I was sorry to hear this, as otherwise I might have greatly expanded the market for Wizard Water©.

An old soldier who was at the studio for his portrait put things into perspective.

"When I was young, we only had the daguerrotype, and it took over 30 minutes to imprint an image on the plate," he said. "The portraitist made us sit on tacks so we wouldn't blink. It was very uncomfortable."

"Folks today have it easy," he continued. "You only have to hold a pose for five minutes. Five minutes! Why, if you tried, you might even hold a smile for that long! How marvelous is modern science!"

And I suppose it is.

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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bleb Overindulges

The first annual Tony and Ann Ianuario Memorial Bluegrass Festival was well attended, and folks not only enjoyed five fine bands (The Buzzard Mountain Boys, Pool Mountain, Three Bucks Shy, The North Georgia Bluegrass Band and BlueBilly Grit) but at the end of it anyone who played an instrument was invited up on stage to jam.

A fine time was had by all - even my mule Bleb. Bleb is not partial to music, but he did discover a grist mill up the Yamtrahoochee Creek a few hundred yards from where the festival was being held. He sampled some of the ground corn meal, then some of the unground corn, and heartily approved of both. Luckily the miller was attending the festival and did not return until after Bleb had left. Bleb is paying for his overindulgence, though - he has a bellyache that rivals the time he ate a barrel of pickled okra.

I wish Bleb would develop a better sense of taste. You would think a creature with such big ears would appreciate a good fiddle tune -- but then you would think politicians would know when to stop taking credit for good weather.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Annual Tony & Ann Ianuario Bluegrass Festival

Saturday afternoon, September 17, I'll be emceeing the first annual Tony & Ann Ianuario Bluegrass Festival in conjunction with Art in the Park at Hurricane Shoals Park, Maysville, GA. Tony and Ann were special people who loved bluegrass, handcrafts, storytelling and helping their community. The event is free and held in an open-air amphitheater. Join Pool Mountain, 3 Bucks Shy, BlueBilly Grit and The Buzzard Mountain Boys for four solid hours of bluegrass!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Shortcut From Dahlonega to Gainesville, Georgia

I'm back from Dahlonega after hosting another Mountain Music and Medicine Show. The show went well, even with a few lineup changes, but I was little short of funds afterwards when the sheriff' passed the hat for his Indigent Relations' Fund.

On a positive note, I believe I found a shortcut out of that town that takes you nearly straight down to Gainesville, instead along one of the roundabout mountain roads. Just drive a waterproof vehicle, such as a tightly constructed medicine show wagon, into a shallow section of the Chestatee River. Unhitch your mule and invite him to step onto the wagon bed. Throw a few bottles of Wizard Water© against a boulder upriver behind you. Wait for the Wizard Water to take effect. When the river has risen to about tree height, ride the wagon all the way down to Gainesville.

This shortcut will shave at least six hours off your trip. It is not for the faint of heart, though. Or anyone transporting drygoods. In fact, I only recommend it if you need a fast way out of town and know the sheriff can't swim.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mountain Music & Medicine Show - Back Again!

Doc JohnsonI'll be hosting the Mountain Music and Medicine Show at the Holly Theater in Dahlonega, Georgia on September 3rd (this upcoming Saturday night), starting at 8:00 pm. If you get there early you'll probably get to hear some pretty good pre-show picking. Guests are the BS Band, Arlo Finch and the Green Jungle Band, Rick Harris & Friends, Homegrown Revival, and those corn-brewing, story-stretching, no-account string-playing fellows from Buzzard Mountain. With that many performers, I hope we have enough room for an audience, too! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Quick and Reliable Way to Wealth

wildwestpokerThere are many ways to achieve wealth, but none are as quick and reliable as armed robbery. The element of danger that accompanies this method, though, is only exceeded by pearl diving and mining with explosives.

Games of chance are another quick route to wealth, but they lack reliability and carry their own hazards. This is especially true if your fellow players can spot bottom-dealing.

If you must gamble, therefore, play with the sight-impaired. This not only increases your chances of winning the hand you deal yourself, but decreases your chances of becoming suddenly encumbered by multiple, accelerating lead weights. The latter are too quick and reliable, unfortunately, to leave to chance.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Advice for Eating and Living a Long Life

Cheese and bacon taste good with anything, and are always in demand. If you want a future that is secure into the next century, invest in these two commodities.

Do not bite off more than you can swallow.
Do not swallow more than you can chew.
Do not swallow tobacco, but if it's unavoidable you'll be glad you followed the other two rules.

Chewing bourbon is unecessary. Or should be.

If you look down and cannot see your shoes from a standing position, it is time to get a stronger girdle.

If you're going to live a long life, keep your debts small or your whereabouts unknown.

Stay on the safe side of 45 - the side where the bullet is pointed away from you.

Retire early, unless there's a high stakes game nearby.

Never share a strip of beef jerky with a dog or a joke with a politician. You won't get either back -- at least not in good shape.

Sand is not good for digestion. Avoid landing in it face-first.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means 12 pounds of cure can be poured into a 12-ounce beer mug.

If you've got everything going for you, drop the heavy stuff and run faster.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wizard Water Helps All Over

Has your get-up-and-go got up and gone? Wizard Water© is the perfect pick-me-up for the long, hot, dog days of summer. It energizes the most listless of young men and puts a spring in the step of the oldest.

Why, I knew a man who sat on his porch every day for the entire month of August. His beans went unpicked, his house went untended, and his family went unprovided for.

His son happened to see my show and bought half a bottle of Wizard Water. (Normally I don't sell my product by halves, but the boy explained his plight and that he had no additional funds, and I took pity on him.)

Well that boy put a tablespoonful of my elixir in his father's oatmeal, and soon the older man had not only picked all the beans, but also replaced the roof, built an extra room onto the house, laid a foundation for the local schoolhouse, constructed a corral to contain a herd of wild horses he'd lassoed, and harvested his neighbor's entire cotton crop -- and that was just on Tuesday.

The last I heard, he was finishing the schoolhouse (all three stories of it) and planting a second crop of beans. His family appreciated all the help at home, but was fixing to move to North Carolina just to get some sleep.

I asked his son how they would transport their goods over yonder, since the head of their family needed the horse and wagon.

"Not a problem," said the boy. "Father's going to drive us there and then quarry some granite to carry back here so he can build a clock tower."

So there you are. If your get-up-and-go has got up and gone, Wizard Water will help, both hither and yon.

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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Mail Car" Max

Since I am well-travelled, I am often asked about the best routes to take. Sometimes I can oblige the individual with a knowledgeable response, and sometimes I tell him about "Mail Car" Max.

"Mail Car" Max was a medium-sized mutt of indeterminate ancestry who made his home at the railroad station in Yonkers, New York. Every morning he would hop on the 6:40 a.m. mail and freight train going due south to Fort Washington. There he would get off and relieve himself, then reboard and continue on to Brooklyn. In Brooklyn he would disembark once more and visit a local tavern, where he was given a bowl of beer and a sausage biscuit. After that he would take a nap. He always woke up in time to board the 2:10 pm westbound train, and returned travelling north by way of Hoboken to Fort Lee, where he completed a circle by taking a ferry back to the city.

Max was well known to all the porters, who documented his travels. When he wasn't sitting on a mail sack he often rode with the conductor, looking out through the foremost window.

Why didn't Max simply hop back on the northbound train to Yonkers for his return trip, in order to get home quickly? Why on earth did he go through New Jersey? Perhaps he preferred the view when crossing the Hudson River from the west to the east. Perhaps he felt he should comfort the porters who had to work in the Garden State. I do not know. The "best" route is sometimes a matter of personal taste, and there's no accounting for that.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chicken Wrangling

blackeye peasOut West the farmers have so much open space that they try to do everything on a large scale. I met a fellow who kept a chicken ranch of over 5000 birds. He herded them like cattle. Every fall specially trained dogs and poultry wranglers would drive the flock south to fields he owned in Florida. Come spring they'd move north again. "It's a tedious process," he said, "but they can't handle winter on the plains."

I suggested he add a little Wizard Water© to their feed. "They will either warm up with calisthenics, or fly all the way to Ocala," I said. He did as I suggested, and sure enough, the trip to Florida was shortened by half.

However, with extra time on their hands, the birds started getting into poker games with the wranglers. They used themselves as collateral. The wranglers, who couldn’t read the birds’ expressions, began losing games, and often accused them of cheating.

This came to an abrupt end on the return trip when the flock thundered through a field outside of Abilene. They churned up the crops so badly that the sheriff fined the farmer 25 cents per chicken to pay for damages.

Since then, the farmer ships his chickens by train. It costs more than traveling by foot, he says, but it’s cheaper than paying a fine for what the sheriff called "disturbing the peas." Plus, the birds aren’t allowed to run free, so he doesn’t have to worry about fowl play.

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

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dealing With Heat

Hot weather is the bane of many who must work outdoors. There are places so hot that the people who live there have to live someplace else. A farmer once asked me if I could recommend some way to deal with extreme heat.

"Yes," I said, "Move to Nova Scotia."

"I can't," he said. "My farm is here."

"In that case," I said, "I can only offer you an untested theory. In my travels I have seen that people who live in the Tropics consume very fiery cuisines. The Mexicans season their meals with jalapeño peppers. The East Indians burn their stomachs with curries. West Africans chew the powerful piri-piri chili pepper, and the Polynesians eat lava.

"I believe this is in response to the weather. These natives eat hot things to raise their internal body temperatures to more closely match the external temperature. This enables them to work with impunity in the equatorial heat. Of course, they are used to such searing dishes and we are not."

The farmer pondered this a moment and then walked away. I put the incident out of my mind. A year later, he approached me and gave this interesting report:

"I thought about what you said, Doc, and decided to test your theory. I fed one of my cows nothing but peppers, onions, chili powder and a little sulfur for two weeks during the hottest part of summer. My other cattle were collapsing from the heat or wouldn't budge from the shade, but this one galloped around an open field for hours in the full sun.

Everything seemed fine until she trotted into a creek and exploded."

"Ah!" I said. "I am sorry for your loss. Obviously her system had adapted to extreme heat but could not adjust quickly enough to the cool water. This is good to know. If you ever decide to try this method yourself, take care to avoid sudden changes of temperature."

He said that would not be necessary, as he planned to avoid the method entirely.

That is probably a wise decision. I will rest easier knowing that this cure is not being practiced by anyone in my vicinity.

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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom for Travelling Life's Highway

19th century doctorA vigorous 15-mile walk will do more for an unhappy man than all the medicine in the world, especially if his creditors are unaware that he has left town.

When one window of opportunity closes, another one will appear. This is why you should always keep your eyes open and a crowbar handy.

Do not worry about financial setbacks. It is always possible to live beyond your means.

You can tell the size of a town by what you see on the front page of its newspaper. Crime, scandal and politics -- large town. Crop reports and school recitals -- small town. If the only newspaper you see is from a village 20 miles away, you are at a mailbag stop.

If you must stay at a boarding house, always ask for a bed with sheets.

Always tip the stableboy who minds your horse, or else don't be surprised if halfway to the next town your animal develops a loud case of gas.

If a cowboy joins you for dinner, hide your liquor.
If a minister joins you for dinner, hide your liquor and your opinion.
If a sheriff joins you for dinner, share your liquor and hide your real name.

Don't bother shooting a bird unless it weighs at least 40 pounds. It is not worth plucking and cooking anything smaller, as there is so little meat left after you have removed the feathers and burned it.

Never trust a one-eyed card dealer or a three-fingered explosives expert.

A long head start is better than a fast horse.

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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Safety Tips

There are many ways to celebrate the fourth of July, but enthusiasm should be tempered with caution. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Always make sure that your Roman candles are pointed away from yourself.
  2. Do not come between a cannon and a countdown.
  3. Make certain that any mortars you light are not aimed at occupied buildings, including chicken houses.
If you discover too late that your rockets were indeed aimed at an egg production facility, it may help to know that a sudden shock to birds helps to prevent avian flu. Tell the owner of the demolished chicken shed that the surviving flock will be stronger and more disease-resistant. A few birds may be lost and the feather quality of those remaining may suffer, but what a small price to pay for peace of mind regarding the health of the rest of flock!

This should buy you enough time to catch the next train out of town.

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

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Quick Way to Paint Fences

This past week my wife announced that her mother was coming for a visit. She then started cleaning the house and insisted that I paint the picket fence.

The fence extends for quite a distance and painting both sides would take some time, so I went to a local drinking establishment to think about the best approach. Sitting at a table just inside was the fire chief. We got to discussing a big fire at Happy Sal's Dance Hall the previous week that he'd had trouble putting out.

"It's too bad you couldn't throw dirt on it," I said, "An avalanche would have put that fire right out."

"Yes," he said, looking into his beer, "but Miss Sal wouldn't be happy. Women hate dirt."

“Yes,” I said. “My mother-in-law likes things to look spotless.”

Which gave me an idea.

"Look," I said, "what if you added some slaked lime to your steam-powered water pump? Then when you spray a building you will leave behind a layer of powder that will continue to smother the flames long after the water has vaporized."

"Are you sure it won't foul up the pump?" he asked.

"Not if you add a little Wizard Water© to the steam engine to give it added power," I said. "I happen to have a large amount of slaked lime at home, as well as Wizard Water©. There is even a fence nearby that you can test the pump on."

He walked back to the fire house, and with the help of a couple volunteers pulled the pumper over to my house. They fired up the steam engine. I poured about 100 pounds of slaked lime into the 80 gallon reservoir, stirred it up, then added a couple drops of Wizard Water© and stood back.

The men aimed the hose at the fence, and at first all went well. A steady stream of whitewash covered the first half of the fence in just a few seconds. It was a job that would have taken me over an hour to complete. As they rolled the engine around the fence corner to continue, though, the water pressure seemed to increase. The hose began to jerk wildly. The men held on, but the hose tossed them into the air and whipped them around violently. The house began receiving the benefit of the whitewash.

Just then my mother-in-law stepped out onto the front porch. She had arrived early. She, too, received the benefit of the whitewash. In fact, she received several coats.

Luckily I had only used a few drops of Wizard Water©, so the steam pressure soon abated. The fire chief was impressed, but decided to stick with plain water in the future.

“If I ever go into the house-painting business though, I may come see you,” he added.

My wife was, as usual, not pleased.

“Mother is VERY upset!” she said later. “She says she doesn’t feel safe with you around, and she’s leaving as soon as she can get the paint out of her hair.”

I am sorry about that. I thought whitewash improved the look of everything. That is not true. The house and the fence look much better, though.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Cowboy Event

Next Saturday I will be at the Wild West Fest in Marietta, Georgia.

I understand there will be fast-draw demonstrations, lasso lessons and all kinds of Western activities.

I will NOT provide the cow catapult as earlier planned.

The catapult, which can hurl an adult male cow across a field and into a lake, is a spectacular and entertaining diversion, especially at night when sparklers are tied to the animal's horns and tail.

However, election season is coming up, a newspaper reporter will be there, and the town council is reluctant to be credited with throwing the bull.

Therefore, there will be no grand finale paying tribute to all the cattle drives of the great wild west. Folks will have to enjoy my usual honest pitch for Wizard Water© without any embellishment, and wait for the cows to come home on their own.

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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Occasional Toothache

tooth extractionCan Wizard Water© cure toothaches? That depends upon what kind of toothache you have.

Do you have a mild toothache? Ignore it. The pain you feel will only increase if you lend it attention.

Is your toothache severe and unending? Remove the offending tooth immediately. You may wish to seek out a professional dentist or barber, enlist the aid of a friend, or devise a method of your own, but if you hesitate, remember: a constant pain rarely disappears of its own accord. It usually requires assistance.

The occasional toothache is another matter. This kind can be treated effectively with Wizard Water©, depending on the occasion. I knew a sea captain whose jaw ached severely, but only every four weeks.

"I don't know what causes it, Doc," he told me, "but it keeps me up for one or two nights, and then it's gone."

Further inquiry revealed that his pain coincided with the appearance of the full moon. I recommended that he take a small dose of Wizard Water© during that time. He followed my advice, and found relief when his body swelled to match his swollen gums. Thanks to Wizard Water's ability to expand skin elasticity, he experienced no pain.

His huge size also intimidated natives at the port where he was berthed.

"When you are bigger than the nearest building, your dock fees go down considerably," he told me.

So you see, it is best to determine what type of toothache you have before treating it. You may need a little Wizard Water©, or you may need to tie a length of twine to your tooth and your horse's saddle and then slap the horse.

Do not, by the way, try to use the latter method after taking a dose of Wizard Water©. A tooth the size of a tree stump will upset both the horse and the natives.

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

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Second Annual Piedmont College Bluegrass Festival

doc_johnson-06042011I just returned from hosting the second annual Piedmont College Bluegrass Festival in Demorest, Georgia. The weather was cooler than last year. Last year it got so hot and humid that two mandolins, a banjo and a fiddle belonging to members of The Foxfire Boys swelled up and could only be used as string basses. The musicians were mighty upset. Their rendition of "Old Joe Clark" sounded so profound, though, that a local minister hired them to replace his organist, who'd been blown out a church window in a steampipe mishap.

That was last year. This year, as I said, the weather was much cooler. Only one mandolin swelled up, and only to the size of a guitar. Next year I'll advise the musicians to bind their instruments tightly around the middle with twine, to keep the swelling to a minimum. That way at most they will wind up with dulcimers, which are easily replaced.

In Arizona, they have the opposite problem. It's a dry heat, and their basses tend to shrink. If you've got a penknife and are quick, though, you can turn a large bass into two smaller instruments, neither of them dulcimers. I believe The Foxfire Boys are planning a trip out there soon.

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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Music and No Mayhem

I will be acting as master of ceremonies for the second annual Piedmont College bluegrass festival in Demorest, Georgia, next Saturday, the fourth of June.

That's the fourth of June, not the fourth of July. I will be in Savannah on the latter date, at a private event involving a lot of gunpowder. I anticipate things will go better in that seaport city than last year. If you hear of any combustion-related mishaps occurring by the docks in early July, however, keep in mind that I was probably elsewhere.

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

Sunday, May 22, 2011


muleWe're back from Mule Day at the Shields-Ethridge farm and Bleb isn't speaking to me. He thought we were going to attend a "mule appreciation day" with lots of music, hay, licorice sticks and back scratching. He was right about the music, but was sadly disappointed by the rest of the offerings, which were intended for humans. He was particularly disappointed by the lack of hay and licorice sticks.

What's more, it looks like he will be spending more time at the farm than either of us anticipated, since he found a table full of fried pies by one of the barns. The ladies who intended to sell the pies now insist on being reimbursed for what he consumed; I promised them Bleb would help with the plowing until the debt is repaid.

basketOn the positive side, I never have to worry about Bleb going hungry, partly because he's so resourceful, and partly because he's not particular. He will find something to eat even if it means consuming someone else's handiwork. Of course, this means that after he finishes plowing for the Shields' ladies, he'll also be working for the fellow whose baskets held the pies.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mule Day

mule plowI'll be at the Shields-Ethridge farm on Saturday May 21 for their annual Mule Day celebration. The farm, along the middle fork of the Oconee River, has been in the Shields family since 1802. During the war, the women who were left to manage the farm hid a couple 500-pound bales of cotton from Yankee soldiers and Confederate tax collectors. When the dust settled and prices were high, they were able to sell the bales for a good sum -- which may have saved the farm. The family was frugal and rarely threw anything away or tore anything down, so there is a lot to see -- a cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, a grist mill, a schoolhouse and all sorts of working matter.

On Saturday, the Crystal River string band will perform, and there will be barbeque and crafts demonstrations, and of course I will be there with my Wizard Water©. City folks can even try their hand at plowing, if they've a mind to.

likes the idea of a Mule Day, but I don't think he realizes that it's about farm work. He seems to think it will involve a lot of corn, oats, and lady mules. I have not told him different. This will ensure a swift ride to the farm. After he sees his fellow working mules, the ride home will be even swifter.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Room for Improvement

combI was in Dahlonega last night, for another Mountain Music & Medicine Show of string band music with the groups Bluebilly Grit, Hawkproof Rooster, and Pool Mountain. Bluebilly Grit used to play near a grist mill; I told them they could make more money selling music than cornmeal and they decided to try it. Now I just wished I'd also told them that they needed an experienced salesman like myself to manage them. I know if I could add band member Amber's voice to my Wizard Water© I could open a whole new market to gospel choirs looking for a heavenly sound. Speaking of singing, Nancy and Charlie Hartness of Hawkproof Rooster fiddled and sang so irresistably that the groundhog that lives under the theater came out and step-jigged up the back stairs. Not to be outdone, Pool Mountain's banjo, bass, fiddle and mandolin playing put so much electricity into the air that several ladies' hats began floating over their owners' heads. By the end of the program, the groundhog was dancing onstage with Mr. Nix, the audience was stomping loud enough to rattle the brick walls, and several of the performers caught fire and had to be doused with Wizard Water©

So I guess you could say it was a pretty good show. I do think, however, that a few tunes would be vastly improved with the addition of a wind instrument -- something like, say, a comb. I offered to provide such an instrument on "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" but all the musicians declined. I would perform it solo, but it loses something without the additional backup.

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

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Theatrical Career

Taurus the BullI once auditioned for a play which called for the part of a doctor. I told the director that my training would lend an air of authenticity and make up for what I lacked in emotive facility. He questioned my medical abilities until one of the actors broke an arm. After setting the arm, I made the cast.

Thus encouraged, I entered an acting contest called "Be a Theater Star!" I didn't win, but the judges were so impressed with my improvisation upon a work of Shakespeare (when Julius Caesar battles Hamlet for the hand of Juliet, from "As You Like It") that they gave me a constellation prize. They said it is called Perna (which is Latin for "ham"), a dim cluster of celestial luminations that lies just below the constellation Taurus (the Bull).

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Arbuckles coffeeA good pot of coffee is hard to beat. It wakes you up in the morning, keeps you alert on long rides, and warms you on cold nights. In fact, a good pot of coffee does the same things that a wife does, but at half the cost. The only drawback for bachelors is that they must fix the coffee themselves.

Here is my recipe:

- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Add a half pound of Arbuckles, taking care to remove the peppermint stick.
- Let it boil a good while - at least until the water is reduced by half.
- Add a drop or two of Wizard Water©.
- Stick a metal implement that you are willing to part with, such as a bent nail or a broken horseshoe, into the pot. If the implement stands up on its own, and does not dissolve after five minutes, the coffee is ready.

This brew will keep you going for at least a week, sometimes longer. I knew a cowboy who fixed his coffee this way before a cattle drive and, even though he fell asleep during an all-night ride, he stayed upright on his horse with his eyes open. His frozen posture and intense stare so impressed his compatriots that they took the rest of the trip off, as he appeared able to keep both the cows in line and cattle thieves at bay. When the fellow awoke two days later, he found he had developed a bad case of insectivitis -- too many bugs in the eyes -- but the bonus money he earned for bringing the herd in early more than covered the cost of treatment.

If you are a cowboy contemplating this brew, keep in mind that you will also need a well-trained horse who is familiar with the route and doesn't startle easily. And be sure the horse knows that at the end of the trail he'll get the peppermint stick.

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Cure for Lost Shoes

horseshoe magnetDo you ever forget where you put your shoes? I knew a woman whose children constantly misplaced their boots. And though the family lived in a one-room cabin, she always had great difficulty finding their footwear first thing in the morning. One day all five pairs of boots might be sitting by the fireplace, another day she might find three left ones on a bedpost, two more in a windowsill, and six right ones under a pile of firewood.

"What am I to do, Doc?" she asked. "By the time I find my children's shoes, the sun is high in the sky and they are late for school."

I thought about her problem and came up with a solution -- and my latest invention -- magnetic soles.

"All you need do," I told her, "is run an iron baseboard around the inside of your cabin. Then tack these industrial magnets onto the bottom of your children's boots. The magnets are thick and resemble horseshoes, but if an equine animal can get used to metal footwear, surely your children, members of the human race and therefore superior creatures, can too."

The woman did as I suggested and reported success.

"Thanks to your invention, Doc, I always know where to look for my children's shoes -- along the baseboard," she said. " -- and if I tie the laces tight enough, that is where I can find the children, too."

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Words of Warning

Wizard Water©, like any medicine, must be used with care. Do not take more than the recommended amount. Do not apply it in concentrated doses to any organic matter, living or dead, without a doctor's supervision, unless I am well away from town.

Above all, do not spill it!

One of my clients carelessly uncorked a bottle of Wizard Water© while sitting on his bed, scattering elixir all over the mattress. Soon the feathers inside that mattress quadrupled in size. Unable to stand the pressure, the ticking split open. The stuffing spilled out and began to multiply. The activity continued thus until the poor man was hip-deep in feathers. He escaped, but the feathers filled the house. He had to wait three weeks before he could reenter his own home -- and managed to do so only because the weather turned cold and the plumes flew south. He tried to get a reimbursement from me for the contents of his good feather mattress, but I refused. I will not be held responsible for customer carelessness. Besides, come summer they might return home to roost.

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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Universal Solvent

Wizard Water© also makes an excellent cleaner. Be advised that in it's purest, undiluted form, though, it makes no distinction between dirt and other organic matter.

Copyright © 2011 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something to Get Rid of Headaches

I have discovered a new headache dispersant: solfeggio. "Solfeggio" is an Italian musical term that means "go away." It is used by opera singers to clear their lungs, but it can also be used to clear away other things.

You do not have to be able to sing in order to use solfeggio. I know, for I am not a singer (in fact, as a lad in Sunday school I was asked NOT to sing, just mouth the words so the other children didn't flee), and I have tested this method myself and found it to work. Simply chant the seven musical notes of the diatonic musical scale (or whatever seven notes come to mind) loudly and repeatedly. You will find that the cause of your headache disperses.

This cure generally only works in cases involving crowds or problem customers, but sometimes that's all you need.

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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fire and Flood

Chicago Fire 1871The Great Chicago Fire of '71 just missed St. Patrick's church on West Adams Street. Some folks say it was divine intervention, but I'll tell you the truth -- it was the Devil and a beer pump. A few years before the fire, the owner of a brewery located further down the block decided to open a drinking establishment next to the church.

Well, old Scratch favored this arrangement. He could have a drink in the saloon during services, and keep an eye on who was coming out early. He liked it so much, in fact, that he covered the cost of running a pipe directly from the brewery to the saloon. The place soon became known for its cheap, reliable supply of beer, both winter and summer. It didn't hurt that one of its regulars, who smelled slightly of sulphur, also often treated churchgoers to a pint or two.

I used to stop by there on business trips. Scratch was always up for a card game, didn't mind sharing his clients, and I knew enough not to bet anything I couldn't easily replace. The Sunday night that the fire broke out, he'd strolled out with a parishioner named O'Leary, and I was left with a room full of gaming enthusiasts.

About an hour later, one of the patrons spotted flames and shouted a warning. When it became clear that the fire could not be contained, most of the customers fled. The owner asked me why I did not panic as had the rest. I replied, "Because sir, the means of your salvation is at hand."

"I have yet to see you enter that church," said the owner, "I did not take you for a religious man."

"It doesn't take a religious man to see the practicalities of this situation," I replied. "My Wizard Water© is super-saturated, you know, and will more than double any liquid it is added to. And you sir, have several large tanks and a pumping mechanism at hand."

"A few bottles?!" he cried. "I'll buy all you've got!"

I advised him that two bottles would be enough, but he insisted on purchasing my entire stock. I sold it to him, but the look in his eye worried me and I left the premises as quickly as possible.

I was about three blocks away when the flood caught up with my wagon. My suspicions were correct -- the owner must have added every bottle to his brew tanks. The foamy water raised the wagon as high as the rooftops and carried it for several miles, until I was able to lasso the town hall steeple in Cicero, to the south. St. Pat's, built of solid brick and mortar, survived intact and in place. The wooden brewery and saloon survived too, but floated free. They are now situated about five miles south of the church. The pastor regards this as one of the few blessings caused by the great fire.

Scratch was not pleased. It was bad enough to have his favorite tavern relocate without his say-so; even worse that the credit went to Someone Else. I'm afraid he suspects that I had something to do with the removal. I could argue that Scratch was not entirely blameless in the matter, either, but he is disinclined to look kindly on the truth. Maybe that's why we get along.

Still, I'll wait until St. Pat's has another beer vendor for a neighbor before going back. Sharing affinities with the Devil is not a good enough reason to visit Chicago, unless you're running for office.

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

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Tonic

herbal tonicNow that winter is nearly over, you are probably preparing to make or take a spring tonic. Spring tonics are an important health aid that reinvigorate the body after it has spent long months indoors. All families have their own recipes, but if you want to guarantee a good effect, remember that adding a little Wizard Water© to your regular ingredients is the most effective way to revitalize the blood, energize the heart and stimulate the kidneys.

If you are contemplating a tonic but not satisfied with those you have used in the past, you may wish to try one of my own:

  • For children under the age of five, boil a pound of ramps or new onions in a quart of water. Let it cool, then add a cup of cod liver oil, a drop of Wizard Water© and serve by the tablespoonful.
  • For adults, boil five pounds of nettle leaves in two quarts of water. Cool, then strain the water into Mason jars. Add a quarter cup of kerosene and a drop of Wizard Water© to each jar, and let the jars sit for a day. Serve by the tablespoonful. You may add molasses to improve the taste.
  • For horses, cows and mules, the recipe is the same as for adult humans, but add a cup of pine tar soap shavings and triple the dose.
  • Do not try this on chickens.
Any of the above tonics will cure indolence. They will, in fact, get the weakest creature to move faster than you have seen him move in a long time.

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

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras 19th centuryI’m back from New Orleans and very glad of it. It is Mardi Gras season in Louisiana, and it takes very little to encounter trouble. I saw a man who was dancing get cut in two by a careless reveler who was wielding a sword. No surgeon was immediately available and the populace appealed to me for help. Thinking quickly, I glued him together with sealing wax. Then I instructed one of his companions to cover him with blankets to keep him warm. His friends went in search of some gin to ease the pain. Before they could return though, the wax melted, and his legs ran away.

I hope the legs are found, or they return of their own accord. I can’t say what the final outcome was. I decided to head home right after that, as I did not want to be held accountable for half measures.

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hearing Aid

A man once came to me complaining that his hearing was too slow.

"Doc, I'm in trouble" he said, "I supply cattle to several markets back East. Every time I go to the cattle auction in Tucson I get beat out by men who bid quicker. That auctioneer just talks so darn fast that I can't tell where the price is. I once bid three dollars a head for 20 head of cattle only to find out that the bidding had closed five minutes before I chimed in. What can I do?"

"What you need," I said. "Is a little Wizard Water©. Take a bottle with you to the next auction, and right before it starts, put a drop in each ear."

He did so and sure enough, his hearing speeded up. Now he can not only follow what the auctioneer says, but his ears work so fast that he can hear how far the other cattle agents are willing to bid. He shouts out their highest offer before they can open their mouths, and while they are thinking over whether or not to proceed further, the auctioneer's gavel comes down and he buys the beef.

"I've got another problem now, Doc," he said. "The other day I met a lovely young woman and I already know that if I propose she'll say yes."

"There's a drawback to everything," I told him. "Wizard Water© can certainly help you to hear faster, but sometimes that only speeds up your mistakes."

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wind Advisory

Canyon Diablo - Volz trading postIf you ever visit Canyon Diablo out in Arizona, beware of the wind. Locals say it once blew the devil's shadow against a saloon and held it there so firmly that he couldn't walk away. The building began to heat up, flames erupted, and Old Scratch only managed to free himself after his shadow was burned off. The fire also took down the saloon. After that they called the road through town Hell Street.

No one misses the saloon -- they have 14 more, plus 10 gambling houses and eight brothels on a two-block stretch. They need them; the citizens are mostly cattle rustlers and stagecoach robbers and favor lively entertainment. You can tell when you're getting close to town by the increasing frequency of gunfire. The marshals there all die unquiet deaths within a month of taking office.

On second thought, never mind the wind in Canyon Diablo -- beware of the town.

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shaking the Cat, Or How To Predict Marriage

Ladies who wish to divine who among them is soon to marry may try an old method known as "shaking the cat." Take a new quilt, fresh off the frame, and place a cat in the center. Enjoin all unwed females present to stand in a circle and each take an edge of the quilt. On the count of three, quickly lift the edges of the quilt and toss the cat into the air. Take care to catch the feline again upon its return. Do this several times, each time lifting the cat higher. After the animal has reached the rafters, continue to toss it overhead, but allow it to retire from the activity if it so desires. Whoever is nearest the cat at the point where it vacates the textile will soon be wed.

This may sound like a frivolous and unscientific method to predict marriage, but it has been a tried-and-true practice for generations in the Appalachian mountains. I myself have seen it work. My spinster aunt Ada, age 43, participated in one such cat-shaking at a quilting bee, using her own newly completed quilt. I -- a young boy at the time -- was enlisted to supply the cat from a neighbor's barn. All went well until the animal reached the rafters. At that point the cat decided it was tired of the aerial life, and upon its return gripped the quilt deeply with all 20 claws, simultaneously losing control of its bodily functions. The quilt, torn and stained, was ruined. Aunt Ada was furious. She confronted the cat's owner and demanded reimbursement in the amount of one hundred dollars.

"It is," she claimed, "a fair price, as I sold a similar quilt to a New York dealer for the same amount last year." The owner of the cat, a bachelor farmer, refused to pay. She sued him for damages and won. Rather than sell his farm to cover the costs, he married her.

"It seemed the lesser of two evils," he said, "-- at least at first."

So if you wish to know when you will marry, try shaking a cat in a quilt. If you wish to know who you will marry, make sure the cat belongs to your intended, and is full of cod liver oil.

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

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wizard Water Strengthens Poultry

chickensWizard Water© is excellent for strengthening poultry, if you give them enough motivation. I had a customer near Pikeville, Kentucky who kept his liquid corn production facility in a chicken house, in order to mask the smell of fermenting sour mash. One day he decided to add a little Wizard Water to give it an extra kick. The chickens got into the mash and nearly devoured his entire product. He moved the still, but the birds found it. Now every fall after the corn harvest he must place the equipment in a different location. The birds always return. He moves it further upstate each time, but the chickens are determined, and they have been strengthened by my elixir. You may doubt me, but it's true. If you happen to be in eastern Kentucky this fall, just look for a flock of chickens flying north.

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Texas Travel

You cannot cross Texas in less than a week. For one thing, the state is wider than four Eastern states strung together, and longer from north to south than six Sundays. For another thing, the storms out there are so fierce they keep moving the border. I once took a train from New Orleans to San Francisco, and outside of Abilene we ran into a cyclone so fierce that it pushed the city limits to the east side of the Mississippi. To make matters worse, the winds turned the tracks around, so the engineer had to run the train in reverse all the way over the Sierras. Even with Wizard Water© in the boiler to speed things up, we didn't reach Sacramento until the previous Friday. I was early for an appointment, with no good excuse.

My pocketwatch ran backwards for weeks after that, too. It didn't start ticking forward until I visited Boston. Even then it moved about one minute for every five of actual time. They say that time stands still in Boston, but the truth is it just mimics what's happening in Congress.

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Device to Improve Milk Production

cowI have invented a device guaranteed to produce milk from a cow. My "Electric Milk Inducer" consists of a small treadle-operated generator with a wire extension attached to a metal clamp. Before milking, simply attach the metal clamp to one of the cow's ears, taking care that it remains connected to the generator by the wire. Take the cow's udders in both hands and begin milking. If milk is not forthcoming, move the treadle up and down with one or both feet. This will generate an electrical charge that will be relayed to the cow's ear via the clamp. The cow may jump, but it will also produce milk.

Be prepared for some noise on the part of the cow. For that matter, you may feel a shock yourself as you hold its udders while operating the treadle. To avoid this, you may wish to wear my patented shock-proof mittens. They are heavily quilted, and contain thin wood chips in each quilt panel to shield the wearer against electrical excess. They are available at a nominal additional cost. Owing to their bulk, the mittens may interfere with the milking process, but only slightly. If they heat up, remove them immediately. Also, after the first day's use of the Inducer, do not warn the cow that you are coming.

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

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Advice for Those of Limited Means

I was playing poker with some cowboys out West, when one of them accused me of betting with counterfeit $100 bills. I asked him to prove it, and he pointed out that Bat Masterson was a Canadian and not eligible to be depicted on U.S. currency.

I respectfully disagreed, but nevertheless offered to play with lesser, more common notes. Everyone thought this was best, so we continued the game with $75.00 Buffalo Bills.

All went well, and I eventually walked away several hundred dollars richer, less my initial stake.

If you should ever find yourself short of funds, it is best to improvise. I considered betting with corn, but most cowboys don’t believe in the stalk market. In situations such as these, I have found that a lot of bull usually produces the most chips.

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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mountain Music and Medicine Show Begins Its Tenth Year

Ugly CousinI'm back from Dahlonega, where they celebrated the tenth year of The Mountain Music and Medicine Show. I'm not sure which is more amazing -- that folks are still coming to the show, or that the sheriff keeps allowing me back in town.

Last night we had the music groups Mist on the Mountain, Fool's Gold, Ugly Cousin, and Mrs. Nix's cousin Frankie. Frankie was sort of a last-minute substitution. We had a terrific act planned -- a human cannonball -- but he had to cancel at the last minute. You might say he went out with a bang. He was not the caliber of performer we normally employ.

Luckily Frankie showed up, sang his heart out, and folks overlooked the fact that he was from New Jersey. I hear that in New Jersey they favor the marching music of John Philip Sousa, and boil their bread dough before baking it into something called "bagels." I suppose in a crowded place like New Jersey folks want to make sure their music is heard and their bread is safe to eat. Down here we prefer banjos and fiddles over tubas and trombones, and boil our corn before drinking it. We want to make sure we have fun.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nix's Store

Nix Store exteriorI will be up in Dahlonega again next Saturday for the Mountain Music & Medicine Show, but before I arrive I would like to heartily recommend Mr. Nix's grocery store.

Mr. Nix's grocery store always has the finest quality goods at the most reasonable prices. Mr. Nix gets his corn meal straight from a nearby mill on Yahoola Creek, and imports flour, sugar and coffee direct from Gainesville. He stores it all in solid tin bins or oak barrels that seal securely, so you know what you buy will be fresh and mostly bug-free. Likewise the eggs are never more than a week old, and hardly ever hatch before you get home. He stocks the most popular kinds of candy: licorice, horehound, and molasses. His loaf bread is prepared with the finest sulfur of copper to preserve the dough. In the fall and winter you can take your pick of locally smoked hams; they are tied securely to the rafters so you need not fear any falling on you. And all the cans are labeled.

Mr. Nix also endeavors to make the latest scientific products available to his customers. Just last month he purchased a new soda water dispensing machine. He sought my advice on the least expensive way to operate the device, the better to offer his clientele the lowest price. I not only supplied him with a formula that would produce the gas needed for beverage carbonation, but also a recipe for a novel and stimulating liquid refreshment. The former involved a simple corn-based recipe developed by the Buzzard Mountain Boys; the latter a unique mixture of caffeine and nitrate. I told him he could concentrate the carbonation with jolts of electricity borrowed from the hotel a few doors away.

That was last week. I had to hurry home for the holidays and did not see my suggestions implemented. I just heard from Professor Grant, though, that there will be a slight delay in introducing the dispenser. Mr. Nix had to order another one from Chicago, plus new front windows and a skylight. It seems that the original dispenser was shoddily constructed, and split apart on its first use. Mr. Nix is cleaning up now.

Do not let such inconveniences deter you from patronizing Mr. Nix's grocery store, though! He has a special deal right now: canning jars are half price if you bring a third of them back filled with something edible. They should also be labeled.

I look forward to presenting my medicine show next week in Dahlonega, and to hitching the wagon in front of Mr. Nix's store as usual. I'm sure he looks forward to it, too.

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