Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions for the New Year

I could not think of any areas in which I needed improvement, so this year I composed a list of resolutions for my wife:
  1. Do not wait up for your husband when he stays out late.
  2. If you must wait up, do so without a rolling pin.
  3. Always have a hot meal ready or easily prepared for your spouse. Grits do not count.
  4. A woman’s hat should not exceed the height of her husband’s hat, or the height of the doorway.
  5. Since a woman’s hat hosts flags, ribbons, dead birds and entire gardens, it is not unreasonable to expect a wife to add one or two of her husband’s Wizard Water© bottles to the mix. This at least can serve as advertising, which will help support her hat habit.
  6. A good wife should give at least two weeks’ warning prior to any visit by her mother, or at least enough time for her husband to saddle up the mule.
  7. Leaky roofs are God’s way of reminding us of His great power. As God favors us with frequent reminders, please acquire more buckets.
  8. Snoring is a form of deep contemplation and should not be interrupted.
  9. Learn more useful skills, such as carpentry and horse-shoeing.
  10. Do not wash your husband’s boots and leave them by the fire to dry – or should I say, to shrink three sizes.
  11. Coffee was not meant to be fried. Quit trying.
I showed my wife the list, and she read it carefully. I am now spending the night in the barn with Bleb. I hereby resolve not to do that again.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Delivering the Goods, Again

My friend Kris Kringle is very busy this time of year. I offered to help.

“Some of those homesteads up in the mountains can be hard to find,” I told him, “but I know where most everyone lives within thirty miles of here. I might be of assistance.”

Kris allowed as how he could stand to shave some time off his schedule. He asked me if I’d be willing to take a sack to the Hardin boys up in Woody Gap.

“I always get lost looking for them,” he said, “probably because I don’t go out there very often. They’ve been just good enough this year, though, to tip the scales in their favor. Now I’ve got to bring them something.”

I said I’d make the delivery for a new pair of gloves and travel expenses.

“I can get to the Hardins, but my mule Bleb likes alfalfa, and it’s a little pricey right now.”

Kringle agreed, and handed me a sack.  Payment would come after the delivery was made, he said. I set out promptly, and had no trouble until I met up with Hiram Hardin.

“What’re you doin’ out this way?” he asked me.

“I’m helping my friend Kris Kringle,” I said. “He wanted me to deliver this to you and your brothers.”  I handed him the sack.

“Kringle, you say?” said Hiram. “I’ve heard of him, but ain’t never seen ‘im. He ain’t stopped by our place in a coon’s age. Is this what all he owes us? Hoyt and Lucius was hoping for some ham.”

“I don’t know what’s in there,” I said.

He peered inside.

“Well look,” he said angrily, “--  three measly little candy sticks and two pair of mittens!” He waved some wool socks. The Hardin boys weren’t known for following fashion. “You maybe taking a cut in this here delivery? Where’s the rest?”

“That’s a good haul!” I cried. “And those aren’t mittens, they’re filters,” I told him, “to improve your liquid corn product.”

“They sure are shaped funny,” Hiram said.

“You attach each one to the end of the coil,” I said, “and let them filter the product as it drips out. It makes for a smoother drink.”

“Really? Well,” said Hiram. “But that’s it? No coffee or chewing tobacco? No ham meat? We gonna have to threaten Widow Eula again to give up a couple pigs to get us through Winter?”

“Of course not,” I said hastily. “Kringle also wanted you to have this.”  I handed him a bottle of Wizard Water©.

Hiram laughed. “We make our own, thank you.”

“Not like this, you don’t,” I replied. “One drop of this diluted in a bucket of water will peel the shoes off your horse. Two drops will double your corn output in less than two days.”

“Pshaw,” he said.

“Truly,” I said, “but you must not use more than two drops per gallon of mash. Trust me, it will more than double your product. Now if you will excuse me, I have an appointment in town.” I left before he could do the math.

On the evening of the 25th, Kringle stopped by a saloon where I was conducting business.

“I’ve been expecting you!” I cried. “I made your delivery and then some! This calls for a bonus!”

“ ‘And then some’ is right, Doc,” said Kringle gruffly. “What do you know about these?” He threw two mangled socks on the poker table.

“That depends,” I replied. “Where were they found?

“Buried about three inches deep inside Widow Eula’s bedroom wall. They lodged there after shooting through two doors. The doors were closed, by the way. They are the same socks I gave you to deliver to the Hardin boys.”

“Are you sure? I asked.

“I’m sure,” he said. “I know my product. Or I thought I did. My socks do not travel nearly as fast.”

“I made the delivery. Hiram can confirm it.”

“Hiram was last seen somewhere over Gainesville.”

“Well I know nothing about the extracurricular proclivities of your merchandise,” I said. “They were not in my care at the time. Take that up with your craftsmen.”

“I will,” said the old man. “Your mule’s alfalfa has already been delivered, but I’m afraid that will mean no time to make your gloves.”

I figured as much the moment he threw the socks down. Next time I’m asking for payment in advance.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Shopping

Mr. Nix, owner of Nix's General Store in Dahlonega, Georgia, has asked me to do my Christmas shopping elsewhere this year.

"Until you start telling me what you are putting on credit," he said, "I no longer wish to construct an itemized list of what has gone missing during one of your visits."

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Theatrical Politics

The other night I attended a theatrical reading of great speeches. It was presented by a local chapter of the Populist Party and leaned somewhat towards their views.

Onstage, an actor read the speeches of Caesar, Charlemagne, Washington, and William Jennings Bryan. He was loud and dramatic and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A gentlemen sitting near me did not feel the same way and was quite vocal in his criticism.

"This is just politics disguised as theater!" he cried. "How can anyone abide such simplistic, good-for-nothing rhetoric?"

"In the first place sir," I replied. "Politics IS theater. It may be enjoyed from a good seat that is out of spitting range from the actors, and one may boo or hiss if one is so inclined. In the second place, this performance is useful to me. I always wondered how other married men justified coming home late."

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Lesson Learned

Recently I awoke my wife from a nap. It was near supper time and I was hungry. I thought to prevent hunger in her as well. Therefore I urged her to start cooking soon. She disagreed, quite vociferously. She backed her opinion with a long, loud list of work she had recently completed. She recited the list for a full hour with no sign of quitting. When she started to wave her rolling pin at me, I thought it best to visit a friend in town.

Her response to my helpful suggestion reminded me of the firefly who fell in love with a lit cigar. He thought his dear one was reluctant to fly and so tried to help by pushing it off the window ledge on which it had been placed. The cigar fell into a pile of dry leaves. The leaves burst into flame and the flames soon engulfed the house. The firefly retreated in amazement.

“I will never push you again” he exclaimed, “- especially if it means watching all hell break loose!”

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More Weather Problems

The wind continues to play havoc with my product. Yesterday it blew my wagon against a cliff wall and then moved the wall two feet further west. The wagon would have been shattered if it wasn’t full of Wizard Water©. The strength of my product reinforced the wagon frame and so averted complete disaster.

However, some inconvenience was incurred. The constant pressure of the wind blowing up from under the carriage pushed the bottles out of shape. They became narrower at the bottom and wider at the top. In fact, they strongly resembled gin bottles. At my next stop, a racetrack, I was delayed by a revenue man. I tried to explain to him that the containers were NOT gin bottles, merely victims of wind shear.

He would have none of it. He insisted I pay the required liquor tax. So I told him that I was selling a powerful new horse tonic. It was so strong, I declared, that it invacuated wide-based bottles and altered the shape of glass. Likewise it strengthened hooves and enabled a beast to leap twice the height of ordinary hurdles.

“Why do you think I am at a racetrack?” I said. “I did not wish to say so at first, but I am here to replenish the stock of a certain prize-winning jockey.”

He bought two cases.

I still believe that honesty is the best policy -- but only if it works.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Unsettling Weather

The weather has been finicky of late. The other day a dry spell hovering over the area was suddenly interrupted by a windstorm blowing in from the east and an ice storm from the north. It happened so suddenly that frogs leaping out of the creek were tossed into the air, frozen and dehydrated within seconds. My wife’s laundry was similarly afflicted. She had hung it out on a line to dry, and it all froze. Then the desert-like air shrank everything. I tried re-sizing the sheets with Wizard Water©, but I was off on the proportions. Now they are only fit for ship’s sails.

I hope the weather settles, as this does not bode well for winter. I also do not wish to see any more of my vests converted into sofa upholstery.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Political Acumen

I make it a point to never get involved in politics.

“But you're a gambling man, Doc!” some people exclaim. “Why get involved in card games but not in politics?”

“Because,” I reply, “Aces made of cardboard are more easily acquired and hidden than aces made from promises."

"Also, it’s easier to run from a few men than from a country.”

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Little Music In Dahlonega

I am back from Dahlonega, where I hosted another Mountain Music and Medicine Show. The performers were the Rosin Sisters, George Norman, Whit Connah, Alex Thomlinson and Friends, the  Buzzard Mountain Boys and a duo who called themselves “Two-Toed Squid.” I did not ask the latter why they called themselves thus. I once made the mistake of asking an Apache warrior why he was called “Chuckling Bear” and spent next three days pulling cactus spines out of my hat.

So I no longer ask people the origin of their names. I make up an answer. In this case I believe that the musicians belonging to the band in question were such a rare and memorable pool of talent that they had to give themselves an equally rare and memorable name. Keep that in mind when you name your own children….but remember that “Two-Toed Squid” is taken.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Famous Gunfight

Some years ago I was in the town of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. There I witnessed a violent fracas between one of my customers, his friends and some lawmen. Unfortunately, the lawmen shot his bottle of Wizard Water© right out of his hand before he could make use of it. He had no recourse but to reach for his gun. For this he received a bullet shot to his head, under his right ear. This is a shot from which it is difficult to recover unless you have partaken of Wizard Water© first -- which he had not. If my client had guarded his purchase long enough to use it, I know the outcome would have been much different.

So never let your bottle of Wizard Water© get shot out of your hand. I think my poor former client would be alive today if he had observed that rule. Then no one would ever have heard of the infamous gunfight inside the vacant lot near the alley across from the McDonald house on Fremont Street in the town of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega

Weather was sunny for Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega, Georgia this year – no mist and drizzle. The parade and wrist-wrestling events proved popular with the crowds, and the cloggers earned a great deal of applause.

The hog-calling contest went particularly well. The winner, a young lad, called an entire herd into the main square. Then before they could cause any trouble, the Gooch family set about turning them into ham and pork chops.

A good time was had by all (except perhaps the pigs).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goldrush Days - Again!

I'll be back up in Dahlonega next Saturday and Sunday for their annual "Goldrush Days" festival. You don't want to miss the hog-calling and crosscut-saw contests! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Simple Philosophy

An optimist says a glass is half-full.
A pessimist says a glass is half-empty.
I say: get more Wizard Water© and you won’t have this problem.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Harvest Moon - Its Advantages and Disadvantages

The full moon is upon us. Many find it a source of romantic or poetic inspiration. It also has practical aspects, though.

For me a full moon is a critical time for production of Wizard Water©. Part of my receipt for manufacturing my elixir depends upon timing. Because water rises during the waxing phase of the moon, Wizard Water© can only achieve its strongest efficacy if produced during the moon’s fullest exposure to the Earth. This is one of the reasons why Wizard Water© is so expensive ($2 a bottle): it can only be produced under a full or near-full, waxing moon. To do otherwise spells disaster.

To give you an example: I once thought I would save time and increase my profits by generating a some Wizard Water© during a waning moon. The lunar orb was near full, but entering into the reduced end of the spectrum. Nevertheless, I labored on a fresh batch, and sold most of it to a pig farmer. He later returned to me and demanded a refund. His complaint: his drift of pigs shrank to the size of acorns. They were covered by the autumn leaves and were not found until spring, so he lost an entire season's profits, or so he thought. The farmer threatened a lawsuit, declaring that I practiced theft by deception.

I was saved from a legal entanglement by the recovery of the pigs. I gauged the prevailing direction of the wind and located them in a corn field about 20 miles from the owner's farm. They had been blown there by a winter storm and survived on fallen cobs. By that time they were larger than acorns, but still so small that it took three of them to make one strip of bacon. This turned out to be an advantage for the farmer, because bacon was scarce in early spring and commanded a high price. Small pigs were also easier to ship in mail sacks. He wound up making a tidy profit. I did not take any shortcuts with production after that, however.

So feel free to romanticize that rotund, glowing traveler in the night sky (the moon, not the wind-blown pigs)! Remember, though, that there is a practical side to everything. The effect of a waxing moon on Wizard Water© is not much different than its effect on swindlers and swine. Timing is everything.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marital Advice

Never try to compliment your wife by telling her that her biscuits saved your life. At least, don’t tell her that they knocked out the fellow chasing you.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On the Subject of Birthdays

Birthdays should always be celebrated with as much excess as possible. No celebratory depth should remain unplumbed; no height unscaled.

Don't just let friends sing to you, hire a terrier trained to howl a Verdi aria as well.

If drinks are free, drink as much as possible. When your host offers a toast to your health, toast him in return  - and keep toasting until you've used up a case of your favorite beverage.

Likewise, while candles are a common way to remember the passage of years, Roman candles make a stronger impact. Light a set of three dozen or more Roman candles on your apple cake, and neither you nor your guests will soon forget the event.

In other words, on your birthday don't settle for the expected. Insist on the extreme; also on a ready ticket out of town.
Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A High Wind

An old cowboy cook once told me how  Wizard Water© helped save a meal. A strong wind came up one afternoon, he said, and made it impossible to control the campfire. It blew the flames so fiercely that they separated from the coals and took off across the plains. The cook was compelled to give chase in his chuckwagon. He caught up with the flames but could see no way to stop their forward movement. Finally, he grabbed a bottle of  Wizard Water© from under the driver’s seat and circled the sparks while sprinkling the elixir on the ground. The flames could not cross the super-saturated earth and had to stay corralled until the Wizard Water©evaporated. The cook was able to finish baking his beans and boiling his Arbuckles. He’d travelled a good 20 miles ahead of the outfit though, and had to endure much complaining from the wranglers when they finally found him.

“That warn’t nuthin’,” he told me, “if the wind had blowed in t’other direction they’d be eatin’ in Cincinatti.”

He said that now he always keeps a bottle of Wizard Water© handy, “because you never know what kind of wind will blow your way.” A sentiment with which I heartily agree.

By the way, I will be emceeing the second annual Tony & Ann Ianuario Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, September 15 at "Hurricane Shoals Park amphitheater near Maysville, Georgia. Come on over if you're in the area!

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Mite Too Hot

The show went well last night, but it was a little warm inside the theater. In hopes of raising a breeze, I added a little of my elixir to the brush of a washboard player.

Sure enough, the brush picked up speed. The increased friction caused sparks to fly off the board, though, and before you knew it, Cornbread Ted's mandolin caught fire. Luckily a flat-foot dancer was able to stomp Ted out, and the audience thought the whole event was part of the act. Ted, who had experienced worse when a bee once caused an audience to stampede, carried on.

From now on when the weather is warm I shall just attach a fan to the nearest fiddle player.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

If the Creek Don't Rise...

...I'll be at the Holly Theater in Dahlonega on September 1 with Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans, Jim Wood and Friends, and Sawnee Creek. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Useful Household Product

If a bug should ever get stuck in your ear, have someone blow smoke into the ear. This will stun the insect and cause it to fall out. If you find yourself short of smoke, try to stockpile some by freezing a goodly supply in winter when your hearth is most active. Frozen smoke also comes in handy for preserving meat and darkening fabrics such as those to be used for mourning clothes and bankers’ suits.

It is easy to freeze smoke – merely wait for cold weather, then mist the air above your chimney with a few drops of  Wizard Water©.  As the water freezes in the chill air, the droplets will adhere to the smoke. Carry a large framed screen with you to catch the frozen mist quickly, otherwise it is likely to fall and shatter. Once coated in smoke-ice, the screen will have a dark but highly polished, reflective surface which can also serve for viewing oneself. Store the screen in an ice-house until it is needed, then merely place it in a warm location to melt the smoke.

Or you can avoid all that trouble and go to a smoke vendor. He will sell you smoke-screens in various sizes. I should warn you, though, that the prices are likely to be higher in summer. I should know, as I was once in the smoke and mirror business. I still occasionally deal in it.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Unexpected Event

I was caught in a meteor shower last night. Luckily, I was asleep under the wagon at the time and Bleb was stabled for the night. The roof of the wagon must be replaced, however. I must also find a wheelwright who can remove rocks embedded in metal rims.  

On the positive side, the wagon bed is now full of meteor dust. I expect to make good use of it in the coming months.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic suggestions

The ancient Greeks were fond of sports of all types. Once every four years they even suspended war between their cities in order to compete in their favorite sports – running, wrestling and throwing the discus.

There has been some talk of late of renewing this event on an international scale. I think this is a good idea, and I have some suggestions:
  1. Eliminate the requirement that athletes must speak Greek, or allow Pig Latin as an equivalent ancient classical language.
  2. Likewise, eliminate the poetry competition, unless it includes a physical element such as wrestling or belly-dancing.
  3. Make some sports more dangerous. One possibility: run a gauntlet over a track of hot coals. Another: juggle rattlesnakes.
  4. Serve something besides ox meat at the winners’ banquet.
  5. Put no limits on the monetary award that athletes receive, as long as the money comes from a betting pool and the winning bettor can split the pot.
  6. Make Wizard Water© the official beverage of the new Games.
I think these suggestions, if taken to heart, will vastly improve any revived Olympiad.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Hot Summer

This summer is too hot. I sold some Wizard Water© to a bartender who was serving beer at a political rally. Late in the afternoon he ran low on beer but not on customers. Thinking to stretch his product, he added some of my elixir to a half-empty keg. The keg -- which was quite warm from sitting in the sun -- began to swell. Foam spewed from the spigot in ever-increasing quantities. Soon suds covered the ground, then rose shoulder-high, then overwhelmed the stage.

The speakers fled and the rally broke up. Its sponsors blamed the beer vendor, and he blamed me. He is looking for me as I write this.

I am on route to Alaska, where cooler heads prevail.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another Caveat

Never try to extinguish a fire using Wizard Water©. Wizard Water© is an accelerative, and in most cases will increase the properties of whatever is exposed to it. I once spilled a few drops of Wizard Water© on the coals of a fire and, instead of going out, the heat grew in intensity until the ground beneath the coals melted.

The coals sank out of sight, leaving naught but the smell of burning granite. I feared the coals might might burn all the way through the Earth’s core and out the other side, but they must have hit a subterranean pocket of water, for a great plume of steam suddenly shot straight up from the hole and high into the sky. It maintained a height of several hundred feet for a few minutes, and then subsided. I left the area quite relieved that the matter had concluded without loss of life or property.

I have since been informed that geysers of steam appear in that location with great regularity. The phenomenon even has a nickname: “Old Faithful.” So far, no witnesses have come forward to accuse me of having any connection with it. I hope the situation remains thus, as I cannot afford to repair the chasm or replace the goats which have fallen in. Once the matter leaves the public eye though, all will be well. I'm sure that time is not long in coming, either. The Wizard Water© should wear off soon.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Production Problem

We here at Wizard Water© Enterprises, LLC, take utmost pains to ensure that our product is of the highest quality possible. However, sometimes unforeseen circumstances can interfere with the development process. Such was the case this past week, when lightning struck the tree near which the latest batch of my elixir was settling. The lightning jumped to the iron pot in which my product lay, and adulterated it with highly excited energy. After a bright flash, the contents of the pot disappeared, and I reasonably assumed that it had evaporated.

I immediately set out to make a fresh batch of my elixir, but discovered that my initial assumption was incorrect. The previous batch was still present, for every time I attempted to add a few key ingredients to the pot – such as water -- the original aggregation reappeared in the container, filling it to the brim. Whenever I removed my hand, the pot appeared empty again.

I regret to say that this has greatly delayed the production of Wizard Water©. The pot will not accept new ingredients, nor will it release the previous batch. I am not only at a loss regarding an explanation, I’m not sure how to recover what until now has been a perfectly good pot.

Therefore, I have ordered a new iron kettle from Sears, Roebuck and Company. The new container will be larger and accommodate more liquid. It will take about two weeks to arrive at my current location, though. I will advertise in the local papers when the next batch of Wizard Water© is available.

I trust my loyal customers will understand.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

After the Show

It was so hot in Dahlonega last night that Bleb decided to sit in the creek after the show to cool off. He sat there until noon today. Nothing but the promise of my wife's fried-egg-and-tomato sandwiches could convince him to leave. The result: we only just now arrived back home. My wife is mighty upset at being called to cook at 10pm on a Sunday evening, but a promise is a promise. When we return in September, I'm bringing along a set of bagpipes. They can make anything move.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Back to Dahlonega July 7

I'll be back in Dahlonega, Georgia for another Mountain Music and Medicine Show on Saturday, July 7. The musical guests will be Bluebilly Grit (hot off their win as as the best bluegrass band at the annual Telluride  festival), plus Cindy Musselwhite and Friends, Curtis Jones and The Mountain Gypsy Project, and the ever-popular-though-I-can't-fathom-why Buzzard Mountain Boys. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Popular Sayings And Their Origins

I knew a fellow who devised a cheap way to get his pigs to market during winter. He stood the pigs in shallow pans of water, and when the water froze, he tied the pans to teams of sled dogs. The dogs transported their live cargo to the city and were if anything faster than the train, which was slowed by frequent stops.

This did not satisfy the farmer, however, who wished to move even more pigs to market in a shorter amount of time. He attached sails to the pans. Sure enough, the notoriously strong winds west of Chicago filled the sails and pushed the ice pans and their inhabitants even more swiftly to the city.

All would have been well had not a prairie storm spawned a great tornado during one of the pig runs. It blew the swine into the air. The winds were so powerful that for weeks afterwards hogs were found as far away as the rooftops of Little Rock, Arkansas and atop the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

For this reason, folks in Chicago no longer use the phrase “living high on the hog.”

They do, however, occasionally say “a bird in the hand is worth a herd of pigs in an ice pan.”

And now you know what that means.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Roof stability

Necessity is the mother of invention, the saying goes, and nowhere have I seen this better demonstrated than up above Monteagle town in Tennessee. The ground there is so steep that instead of building their cabins from the ground up, locals start at the top and work their way down. As each wall nears earth, the builder stakes it into the sod with wooden posts. I suggested to one fellow that if he wanted even greater stability, he should plant fir tree seedlings along the support walls and add some  Wizard Water©. He did so, and sure enough, the seedlings sprouted almost instantaneously. They grew a foot a second, and soon the walls were girded with a fence-like series of living support posts.

My method would have worked perfectly if the seedlings hadn't displaced the roof. The fir trees shot through the shingles and lifted the beams skyward. Soon the fellow had a wonderful, four-walled enclosure fit for chickens and goats, but no shelter against inclement weather. He was so upset that he began throwing everything he had at me. An adze inadvertently hit the roof and knocked it off the treetops. The roof crashed into the mountainside and rolled until it lodged atop a church in the town below. The church's congregation was overjoyed. They had just lost their meeting house roof a few weeks earlier when it slid off during a storm. They had been praying for a replacement and now their prayers seemed answered, as this roof fit better and didn't wobble on the steep slope. The choir sang their thanks at the following Sunday service.

No one heard them, though. Nothing beats a roof with a perfect pitch.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Payment Strategy

I also knew of a fiddler who kept a rattlesnake rattle in the body of his instrument.

"If my employer delays payment after a show," he said, "I tell him, 'Well I can wait, but Lightning here insists on being fed regular-like.'

"Then I shake the rattle out of the fiddle body. When the rattle appears by itself I exclaim,'Oh no! He must've gotten tired of waiting to be fed and gone off in search of somethin' to eat!'

"I tell my debtor that Lightning is a special breed of rattlesnake known as a Shanghai rattler -- very fast, but luckily fond of bacon and human legs," said the fiddler.

"I tell him to set traps around both pigs and humans, if he wants the best chance of recapturing the fellow."

"Then I add that I would help, but I, too, must seek sustenance elsewhere, and I take my leave.

"This rarely fails to produce payment, plus some cured pork."

The fiddler appeared to be well-fed and was wearing a new suit and pair of shoes, unlike most of those in his profession whom I have seen wandering from town to town and job to job.

To which, dear Reader, I add the following: If you can lay on the ham, you'll always bring home the bacon.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

An Ingenious Use for Wizard Water

A cowboy once told me of an ingenious use he made of Wizard Water©. He'd purchased an expensive pair of leather boots, dyed in a red plaid pattern, but worried that thieves might make off with them in the night. Before going to sleep, he placed a rattlesnake in one of the boots, and let it be known that he had done so.

His trail companions not only left his boots alone, they slept in the chuck wagon.

Come morning, the fellow placed a jigger of Wizard Water© in a gunny sack near the occupied boot. Then he tipped the boot over in the sack's general direction. The snake, upon smelling the elixir, slithered quickly into the sack. The cowboy then scooped up the sack, tied it and carried it in his saddlebag until the next night.

He planned to continue thusly for the remainder of the cattle drive -- dropping the snake in the boot each evening and luring it out in the morning -- occasionally putting a mouse into the sack for the snake's nourishment and added incentive to return. After the first night, though, the Wizard Water© had its effect and the snake began to grow. In the morning, the rattler completely filled the cowboy's right boot and could not be dislodged. He could not shoot it without damaging the boot, and he could not knife it without risking its poisonous bite.

Finally, he sprinkled Wizard Water© over the boot, whereupon the leather expanded, freeing the snake. The snake had developed a fondness for Wizard Water© however, and carried the damp boot off with it into the desert.

He tried to get a posse together to search for the boot, but no one volunteered.

The cowboy then sought out the bootmaker. Red is extremely hard to match, though, even when it doesn't come in plaid. The fellow eventually had to order an entirely new pair of boots. Mindful of his experience, he asked that they be plain brown. He no longer attempted to guard them with rattlesnakes.

Keep this in mind if you ever see a large plaid boot lying alone in the desert. Whatever you do, do not look inside.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Never Leave Home Without Wizard Water

Never be caught without a bottle of Wizard Water©. I once imprudently left a game of cards early, intending to take a brisk walk to the next town. I thought the town was a mere five miles away, but it turned out to be 20 miles. I discovered this after the first 11 miles.

Since the way back was further than the way forward, I soldiered on. Normally, I could count on a dose of my elixir to prevent weariness, but I’d bet my last bottle on the game. It was now in the possession of a cowboy named “Buckshot.”

After several hours I was so tired I couldn’t see my feet. I tripped on a rock, fell forward into a ravine, and rolled into the Brazos River.

I lost consciousness. The river carried my senseless body downstream. I awoke roughly 240 miles later on a sandbar near Waco, missing one boot, all my cash, and my hat.

Luckily it was Tuesday.

The week previous, I’d paid for a shipment of Wizard Water to arrive at the Waco train station. Once I realized where I was, I went to the station and picked up my goods. I sold them over the next week.

Thereafter I never gambled away my last bottle of Wizard Water. Nor should you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Parable

A minister came up to me after my last show and said, "You tell some fine tales, my dear boy, but they are utterly without moral compass."

"What do you mean?" I asked him.

"I mean, son, that they lack any redeeming morality; they do not benefit the listener's soul. When you hear a sermon, you hear something of an improving nature. Other types of storytelling such as yours are merely for entertainment or to serve the vanity of the teller; they hold no true value."

"I'm not sure I agree with that, Reverend," I replied. "I've known too many preachers who put their parishioners to sleep with their long moral stories. Where is the value of that?"

"What the mind comprehendeth not, the heart knoweth," he replied. "A good parable is always more uplifting than a barroom anecdote, even if it is not easily understood."

 "A parable?"

"Son, don't you know what a parable is?"

"Oh yes!"I cried. "A pair a' bulls is twice as many as one bull. Unless you throw in a camel - then it's more."

That was the last I saw of the preacher. He stared hard at me and then walked away.

I believe there is a moral to this story, but danged if I know what it is.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mule opera

Bleb is in love. It will never work out. He's a mule and she's a young filly from a Kentucky racing family. He won't give up, though. Now he's trying to impress her with his singing. I've warned him that such an approach won't work.

"Congress is the only place where extemporaneous poetics are attempted these days" I said, "And it's not pretty. They call it a 'filibuster,' because it goes on and on and on until the newspapermen have to leave to feed their horses."

That got him to stop. Bleb hee-haws well, but our senator does it better. Never compete with a professional.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mountain Music and Medicine Show Lights Up the Stage

What a great Mountain Music and Medicine Show last night! I don't know if it was my Wizard Water©, or the full moon, or a combination of the two -- and perhaps the spring air as well -- but the musicians outdid themselves. The performance standard was set high at the start by a very talented young girl named Hannah From, who played banjo accompanied by the Buzzard Mountain Boys, sang acapella (that's all by herself, for those of you who don't speak Norwegian), and told a tale about a young man's attempts to win the hand of his true love. Her vivid description of his trials and final success held the audience enthralled (that's captive, for those of you who don't speak Algonquin).

Bluegrass Alliance rattled the walls (in a good way), Elise Witt and Friends charmed everyone with their musicianship and great harmonies, and the Hobohemians stepped off a freight train long enough to play a few sets of lively dance tunes. The only mishaps occurred when Witt's friend Jason Kenney's strings caught fire due to his fast playing, and later when Hobohemian John Amoss's accordian was set a-fire by someone who thought it was a fancy set of bellows and wanted to see how good it was at putting out flames. Otherwise it was a very good night.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another Mountain Music and Medicine Show

I'll be in Dahlonega again this coming Saturday night to host another Mountain Music and Medicine Show. The musical guests will be Bluegrass Alliance, Elise Witt, the Hobohemians, and the Buzzard Mountain Boys.

I'm looking forward to seeing those boys from Buzzard Mountain again. They owe me a pair of pigs and a new hat. I'll explain why if I can get the pigs out of the county without any trouble.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Chicken Activator

Wizard Water© also makes an excellent chicken activator. If your chickens are sluggish, not laying, or already stuffing a pillow, sprinkle a few drops of my elixir over them, and stand back. They will revive in a most lively manner.

I was once lost in the Ruby Mountain range of the Nevada territory, when I found myself surrounded by Shoshone warriors. They tied me to a stake and started to gamble over my belongings. I realized that once they divvied up everything, I would not be long for this world. Then I noticed that their leader had a magnificent headdress full of what appeared to be many kinds of bird feathers. He laid it down near me to keep it from interfering with his gambling.

Though tied up, I managed to pull out a flask of Wizard Water that I always keep within my vest.

"Ho!" I cried suddenly. “Steal my property and I shall send yours back to where it came from!” With a flourish I sprinkled some of my elixir on the headdress. Seconds later, several feathers sprouted legs, then wings, then a full body.

Soon part of the headdress transformed into an eagle. The rest of the headdress followed suit. Up popped two hawks, a turkey, an owl, three falcons and several smaller birds that I did not recognize. My captors paused and looked at each other, muttering. I prayed that the headdress had received enough of my elixir to effect a full reaction. It did indeed. The birds continued to grow, and grow.....until they towered over us. Within minutes, they reached twice the height of the chief! The Indians appeared puzzled but stood their ground. The raptors grew full sets of teeth. The braves mounted their horses and rode away at full gallop. The birds -- most of them hunters -- took chase.

I never learned of the fate of the hunters, human or animal, but I was grateful that the former panicked. I was counting on it, in fact. I knew that I would maintain my composure. Giant birds of prey with sharp teeth may seem frightening but they do not bother me. In my experience, hen-pecking is much worse.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Town vs. Country: A Time Perspective

Have you ever noticed how things move much faster in cities than in the country? That is because the close aggregation of people in cities speeds up time. The greater the distance between people, the longer it takes to do anything. This is why Sundays in New York City only take 3 hours, but a Sunday in Toccoa, Georgia takes all day and half of Monday.

I was reminded of this after a recent trip from Atlanta to Toccoa. I left by wagon early on a Sunday morning and was out of town and headed northeast in less than an hour. As soon as we passed the Atlanta city limits, though, our pace slowed considerably. For every mile that my mule Bleb carried the wagon forward, half a day would pass. We eventually reached our destination, but it took six months. By that time a rail line had been laid in. This angered the client I was travelling to see; he refused to pay travel expenses since I was obviously following the longest route, and it upset Bleb no end when he found out he could have taken the sleeping car.

From now on, on such trips I will blindfold Bleb. It may be that he can maintain a good pace as long as he thinks people are nearby. I will also tell him that the shortest distance between two points is usually the one for which you get paid.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another List

muleThis past Friday one of my customers added Wizard Water© to his wife's butter churn, thinking it would speed up the butter-making process and ease her labor. The vibrations of the pounding plunger were amplified, however, and caused his house to collapse instead.

I have made a list of things not to do with Wizard Water© and will add "butter churning" to the list.

I was present when the house collapsed, and immediately afterward I remembered that I had to catch a train. Unfortunately the locomotive had already left the station, and it took some vigorous running on my part to reach the caboose. Since I am still exhausted, I shall close with a joke that Bleb told me:

Question: What do you get when you cross a cow with a rabbit?

Answer: Hare in your milk.

(I did not say it was funny joke, just that Bleb told it. He has better taste in hats.)

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Accosted at Gunpoint, Part II

cowboys pushing wagonDid I mention that my wagon suffered wheel damage in last week's fracas? The barrage of bullets that followed the Cobb County Gang's assault was so intense that it splintered three spokes and chewed half a horseshoe's length out of the rim.

After the sheriff took the bandits into custody, he asked if I would testify as a witness to their crimes.

"How can I, sheriff?" I asked, "I can't get to the court where the trial will be held!" I pointed to the wounded wheel. "I can't even make it to the nearest town."

"Don't worry, sir," said the sheriff, "these gentlemen will be glad to assist you."

He instructed the remaining gang members to push my wagon wherever I wished. I told them I had an urgent appointment in Nacogdoches, Texas. We went there first. In that place I was not only able to get the wheel fixed, but I also sold my entire supply of Wizard Water© to the town's residents -- after incorporating the tale of the robbery into my presentation.

Which just goes to show that, while crime does not pay, one can profit from it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Accosted at Gunpoint

I was accosted at gunpoint Doc_with_gunand robbed by several desperate cowboys on Saturday. I drew my gun, but they managed to escape.


As luck would have it, a masked man rode up and offered to help.

He enlisted the aid of last_blastthe local sheriff, and the offenders were quickly dealt with. The chief bandit went down in a blaze of gunfire.

I offered the masked man a free bottle of Wizard Water© as a reward, but he declined.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Busy Saturday

This coming Saturday, March 24, I'll be at the Wild West Fest at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, Georgia, sharing my wondrous elixir with the local cowboy population and any ranch hands who care to stop by.

After that I'll travel to Cumming, some miles to the northeast, for a special presentation of the Mountain Music and Medicine Show. Musical guests will be Whitepath and Spontaneous Cracker Eruption, among others.

Hope to see you at one of these events -- or both!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time Travel

I met a man who claimed to have invented a machine that would allow him to "jump" through time.

"'Jump'?" I asked him. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," said the fellow, "that when you enter my device and turn the dial, you hop to the time indicated, moving over all the boring parts in between."

"That could come in quite handy," I said.

"Yes, but there are still a few problems to be ironed out," he replied.

"Problems? Such as - ?"

"Hard landings," said he. "The further forward or backward that you go, the harder you hit the Present when you stop. It feels like you are slamming into a wall or the ground after leaping off a building.

"I jumped a week ahead, for example, and twisted my ankle. When I tried hopping to last year's national meeting of the Grand Fraternal Order of Ironmongers, to which I belong, I felt like I'd leapt off a three-story building and rolled into a moving train. I broke a leg and a wrist, and my head hurt for a month.

"So my device is not practical yet, I'm afraid. And until I can make it safe, I will no longer travel through time except at the usual speed," he added.

"I don't want to risk jumping to a final conclusion."

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Back in Dahlonega


I was up in Dahlonega, Georgia again last night to host another Mountain Music & Medicine Show. We had a large crowd, and some of them were even attending on purpose. The musicians were terrific. Little Country Giants, Kinney & Blackmon, and Smokey's Farmland Band all played loud and lively enough to cause the chairs to vibrate and the roof to lose a few shingles. The crowd was very enthusiastic.

The audience was so enthusiastic, in fact, that they bought very little of my elixir! They were too energized by the music. I must take that into account the next time I visit North Georgia. My show must be entertaining and uplifting, but not too uplifting. Somewhere between a funeral dirge and a zydeco marathon, I should think. But with mandolins.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sleep Faster With Wizard Water

Wizard Water© can help treat insomnia. If you ever find yourself short on sleep, slip a bottle under a student in a Latin class, or anyone in the back row of a Sunday service. Retrieve the bottle after the event is over. My elixir absorbs the latent energy around it and transmits it via the same process that trees turn light into green leaves and municipal bonds accrue interest.

To demonstrate, I have just taken a small draught of Wizard Water that spent the entire winter in a bear's den....I shall soon....umm, uh....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.............

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Gravity Problem

I'm pleased to announce that I have solved the gravity problem.

As we all know, too many things hit the ground that shouldn't -- among them vases, flyballs, and unpleasant facts.

Here is the cure: Wizard Water© plus helium. Wizard Water's natural intensifying effects are amplified with the addition of this rare air, and the effect can be put to good use.

Do you occasionally drop a glass of whiskey, or a large amount of money on a horse named "Dust Devil"? Do you sometimes find yourself sitting in the dirt outside a saloon for no good reason? Wizard Water© and a little light gas can help.

The next time you notice yourself in a situation that requires equilibrium or the application of a counterforce to keep you from getting carried away, try the following: mix a few drops of Wizard Water© with an ounce or more of helium. Shake well, and pour it over the object on which gravity or imprudence may exert its influence.

Whether the subject is a pitcher full of beer or a minister delivering a sermon on the evils of drinking, the aforementioned concoction will lighten it and counteract imbalance. Try to drop a mug that has been treated with this formulation -- the mug will float to the rafters. Angry customers will inspire laughter, and advice from your mother-in-law will not weigh down anyone.

Just take care not to apply this mixture to campaign speeches. Such items are mostly hot air to begin with, and additional inflation can cause the speaker to float off with his words.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

He Signs His Checks With Xs

I'm proud to say that I can read an write. Education is a valuable thing. I knew a cowboy who couldn't read or write and just signed his name with an "X". It almost got him into trouble.

Being illiterate normally never caused "Two-Toed" Frank any problems, since he only went to the bank in between cattle drives to deposit the money he'd earned.

He lived like that for a number of years and managed to save quite a bit. Then "Two-Toed" married the ranch owner's daughter. The month after the wedding, the banker he deposited money with rode out to the ranch with a posse.

"I just noticed that you withdrew a hundred dollars," said the banker, and I was concerned that you were in trouble."

"Naw, I just got married and needed some money to get set up" said "Two-Toed". "But you saw me sign the check, so why did you think otherwise?"

"Because," said the banker, "you signed the withdrawal slip with three "X"s instead of one. I thought you were trying to tell me something."

"Oh that," said the cowboy. "My wife thinks that I need to act more respectible-like, so I added a middle and last name."

[NOTE: If you think you've heard this before somewhere, you probably have. I'm just too tired to tell you about Bleb's singing career.]

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Fisherman's Aid

Wizard Water© is also known as "the fisherman's aid".

The captain of a fishing vessel told me that he was once becalmed in Mobile Bay with a load of crustaceans in his nets. The catch needed to be brought ashore quickly or he risked losing his entire investment.

Luckily, the captain had a bottle of Wizard Water© on hand. He sprinkled the contents of the bottle on his catch and threw them overboard while they were still in the net.

The creatures revived instantly, grew several sizes and, since it was August, headed straight to shore.

Naturally, the ship that the net was attached to also followed. The captain not only salvaged his catch, he earned a bonus for bringing it inland as far as Louisville.

The captain then tried to enter his catch in the Kentucky Derby, but the judges turned him down.

They felt six legs was too much of an advantage, unless the crustaceans were running for office.

Keep that in mind should you ever find yourself trapped at sea -- sometimes it pays to be shellfish, but not always.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How to Deal with Mildew

This winter has been wet, but not as wet as the winter of ’73. That January was so damp that the mildew found its way into the Wizard Water© I had stored in the basement, sprouted roots and branches, and lifted our house off its foundation. I nearly panicked, but the growth favored warmth and headed towards the coast. I waited until we reached Savannah (where I had business anyway) then boiled off the remaining elixir. The house dropped onto Johnson Square and sits there to this day. Upon the conclusion of my business I sold the structure, except for the basement (which remained on the property up north). The money paid for a new home on the old property with the addition of a furnace.

We should not encounter such a situation again, but if we do I have prepared a map of the best sections of several cities south of here. Weather can be a problem or an opportunity, depending on your perspicacity.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Substitute Ingredients

There is no substitute for Wizard Water©. I discovered this one day when I came up short for a key ingredient for my elixir.

I decided to try an alternate component that looked the same -- air-rubbed sleet mixed with chicken tears -- but the resulting product possessed none of the usual strength. In fact the only thing it did was attract women and chuck wagon cooks. This might have had its uses, but I could not think of any.

After nine marriage proposals and 12 onion pies, I dumped the remaining product into a nearby well and hastened to a locale where all the necessary ingredients were near at hand.

Keep this in mind if you ever travel through Oklahoma. The well is still out there, and attracts an undue number of people who insist that you come when called.

Copyright © 2012 Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pain Management

Wizard Water© is marvelous for amplifying pain. Headaches, arthritis, ax wounds - Wizard Water© can make them all feel much worse.

"Why would one wish to increase one's pain?" you ask. That is not the goal! Please do not think that I wish to increase suffering - far from it! I only recommend use of Wizard Water© for pain relief when all other methods have failed. If nothing else reduces your discomfort, try increasing it for a short period of time. Add to your migraine headache with increased pressure; double the ache of a severe gash with a loud, high-pitched ringing in your ears. Before long, you will find yourself wishing for your pre-Wizard-Water© state.

This is Wizard Water©'s great benefit -- it helps you to realize that things could be much worse. Therefore, when the effects of my elixir wear off, you will feel much better!

Several customers told me so, and I do not doubt them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anvil-Shooting Practice

A fellow I knew once asked me to go anvil-shooting. I'd never been and asked him if it was difficult.

"Not at all," he said. "Anyone can do it, as long as you don't mind the noise."

Well I'm used to loud noises, but never having participated in this particular sport, I decided to practice first. The local blacksmith loaned me three anvils, and I shot them, no problem.

Danged if I could figure out how to field-dress them, though.

Copyright © 2012 J. Henry Johnson and Laurie J. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 1895!

I welcome the new year with great anticipation. 1894 was a terrible year - the anarchists loosed bombs and also assassinated the French president; the bubonic plague killed thousands in China; thousands of the unemployed marched on Washington, D.C. and thousands of those who WERE employed -- coal miners, Pullman porters and New York City tailors (all of who should have been grateful to have a job in these hard times) went on strike. What is the world coming to?

On the amusing side, women in South Australia gained the right to vote and to be elected to public office! Ha! Wait until their husbands see the results of that!

My New Year's resolution: To continue selling Wizard Water©, the Aid to Mankind. It will not cure anarchism or the bubonic plague or females seeking the right to vote, but it will keep me happily employed.