Friday, October 28, 2016

The Clipping of the Toe Nails

Should I suddenly and mysteriously die, the coroner tasked with figuring out why would wonder about all the scratches and gashes and bruises and punctures on my body and probably formulate a theory about ritualistic torture.  S/he’d be wrong… but circumstantial evidence would certainly point toward that being a viable theory.  The dog’s nails are even longer now than when I last asked the vet to clip them during a visit and he declined saying they’d wear down naturally as the boys were outside running around more over the summer.  That may be a perfectly true statement if they went out on a paved surface.  I can see how concrete would act as a kind of rasp and keep their nails down to a reasonable length.  But they are on grass.  And grass doesn’t make much of a file.  And their nails are now very long and very sharp!  They’ve pretty much become deadly weapons… And I am getting badly abused as we play and snuggle and jostle for sleeping position.

“Ouch!!” and “Owe baby… your wicked talons are ripping my flesh open so my guts will spill out and I will die and THEN who will feed you and drive you places?” have become way too frequent and dramatic exclamations around here.  Reaching for something to wipe up a trickle of blood as it runs down my leg has also become way too frequent of an occurrence.  And the amount of peroxide I buy to get blood stains out of my clothes is starting to garner me suspicious glances! I have the scars to back up one whale of a tall tale should I ever want to tell one!

It was time for me to get over this little fear and clip their nails myself.

I found this picture on Pinterest but the link leads to a dead blog...
leaving me with a really good illustration but no one to credit for its
creation.  Anonymous Wise Person, thank you!
So I went through all the preparations.  I studied up on clippers and techniques and safety precautions.  I gathered my tools.  I steeled my resolve.  And I wrangled Jack into position.

And clip.  Clip, clip, clip. One paw done.  He didn't pull away at all.  He just sat there, leaned down to sniff the clipper once, and watched me clip away.  The other 3 feet were done the same way.  His ONLY reaction was the expression on his face that said "Jack don't give a [insert your your favorite inflammatory exclamation here]!"  Lightning was curious about the sound and thought the little clipped ends that went flying would make a good snack.  He was probably also jealous that Jack was the center of my attention for those few minutes... the jealousy is strong between those two!  He tried to push his way in a couple of times.  My only struggle with clipping Jack's nails was making Lightning wait for his turn.  And then he sat there for me just as patiently.  Gizmo was the only objector... but he's afraid of pretty much everything so that shouldn't be a huge surprise, I guess.  It took a couple of treats, some soothing words, and a little longer but his nails are done, too, without a lot of undue fuss.

Honestly, clipping their toe nails is easier than clipping my own!

All that build up.  All the people telling me it was such a big deal - a difficult and dangerous and odious task better left to veterinarians and groomers who are trained to do it. All that time I spent worried about hurting them, or me!  Why?  I was thinking I would get to impress you mastering a new skill and it just ended up being no big deal.  I feel robbed.  Totally let down and deflated.  (Yes, I'm exaggerating!)  Either I have the most stupendously wonderful dogs in the whole world or this whole nail clipping thing is scam to steal your money!  It's probably that I've got really great dogs!!

There are a couple of things I learned worth passing along, though:
  • Take some time to touch your dogs feet and get them comfortable with their paws being handled.  Don't stick your fingers in between their toes, though.  That's one of those ticklish in an uncomfortable way, and it might get you bit, kind of places for many dogs.
  • Figure out how to identify the "quick."  It's the fleshy bit on the inside where the blood vessel is.  If you cut it, there will be blood.  And pain.  And you'll probably feel even worse about doing it than the dog does!! But it's not the end of the world if you do nick it.
  • Learn the very simple first aid steps to deal with a cut to the quick.  You can get styptic powder from a pet supply (or maybe even a barber? I remember my Dad had a "styptic stic" in his shaving stuff.) or even use baking soda, cornstarch or a quick rub with a clean bar of soap to stop the bleeding.
  • Handle the clippers a bit before you touch the dog with them.  Get used to how they feel in your hands and how the handles and blade move. You'll jump if you get pinched using them and when you jump your dog will jump, too.
  • Be calm.  Talk to your dog is confident soothing tones so they have the cues to relax and be confident you aren't hurting them.  Use treats to reward good behavior.

Monday, October 24, 2016

My Prepper Potty

My tolerance point with the outhouse was met during the rainstorm last week. I don't really like it at its very best and I especially dislike the nighttime mad runs to go pee. And I outright hate it when rain has turned the trail into slippery, slimy, sink-to-your-ankles, slurping, sucking mud where you get "stuck" and dirty yourself in the attempt to avoid dirtying yourself all while trying to keep your cell phone dry and clean because it also functions as your only flashlight.  Yeah... the experience was all that, with a cherry on top!

For years I've seen various prepper potties on Facebook, Pinterest, Blogs and other places and I've intended to add one to my own camping/emergency provisions but, honestly, it took this wilderness adventure to motivate me into action.  I was planning on spending around $10 on it.  I spent more. If you take the time to shop around you can probably find the pieces well inside that budget but, as noted, I had met my utmost point of tolerance with the available bathroom facilities so price wasn't my #1 concern.

$12.97 at Walmart.
To make your own prepper potty you need just 2 things: a 5-gallon bucket and a special lid. I'm using it only for nighttime needs and will be dumping it in the outhouse and rinsing it out the next morning.  And I'll rinse it with bleach water periodically, too.
$3 at Home Depot.

If you're going to use it in the traditional camping, or apocalypse, setting there are additional sanitation issues you'll need to consider. Since other bloggers have covered that in varying degrees of graphic detail, I'm just going to give you a few links to check out and not include that part here.

So... you went shopping and you've got your bucket and lid.  What to do with them?

Start by taking your lid out of its cardboard packaging.  Then snap it on the bucket pretty much the same way you'd snap the seal on your favorite Tupperware bowl.  That's about it... Congrats!  You are now the proud owner of your very own prepper potty!!

Lid up.                            Lid down.                           Lid up.

I think Home Depot's tag line is really appropriate for this project!

Using your prepper potty is interesting the first time or two.  It's not exactly ideal height... so getting yourself positioned can be a bit of a challenge.  (If you can find it, opt for a 6-gallon bucket and it's a little better!  Those extra two inches make a lot of difference!!)  Put an old towel under it if you're using it indoors just in case, you know, you don't "do this" in a straight stream.  Hey, sometimes it happens. TMI?  I sort of thought so, too, but decided since we are all friends I'd be safe sharing that sort of weird intimate personal detail.  This prepper potty is not a perfect substitute for indoor plumbing but it sure beats the outhouse! I highly suggest one for your tent camping/emergency equipment.

If you subscribe to any apocalyptic theories - End of the World, disaster bug outs, civil unrest pending the outcome of next month's Presidential election (all well within the realm of possibility) - I have an additional bit of advice.  Make your prepper potty NOW!!  And practice using it a few times so that it's familiar, especially if you have kids.  When the world around you is in a state of utter chaos is not the time to be perfecting your technique to squat!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Did you say that in your head like the city in Egypt?  If you did, you just set yourself apart as not a local.  Natives say it KARE-OH.

Where Highway 31 crosses the river leading you toward
Highway 50.  I find these old ironwork bridges so charming
and appealing...
Stained glass window in the
Apostolic Church of Cairo.
I LOVE stained glass!
With homes and businesses stretching along the North Fork of the Hughes River, Cairo is another charming small town just up the road a bit from Ellenboro along the formerly lucrative North Bend Rail Line that’s now been transformed into 72 miles of hiking, biking, and horse riding trail. And like most small towns, the parts that are really interesting and beautiful aren’t apparent unless you slow down and look for them.

Since I’m trying to do just that, I pulled into a parking space on one of the business streets and waved back to the man sitting on the front porch of his bicycle shop fixing tires.  We talked for a few minutes and I learned the shop is there to rent bicycles for day trips on the trail or to repair those that have had an unfortunate mishap along the way and had to be pushed in.

The old Bank of Cairo building, situated
beautifully on the river bank, is now home
to the North Bend Rail Trail Foundation.
He told me both diners, The Trailside and Shemp’s, were decent places to get dinner.  And he pointed out a decrepit old Victorian house that’s for sale... cheap.  At least it seems cheap from what I'm accustomed to seeing real estate list for.  Like him, I hope someone who loves those “painted lady” houses comes along and makes it a showpiece of this quaint little town!  He also alerted me to the Veteran’s Monument I’d parked by and still managed to miss seeing…

There's a bell I'm guessing gets rung ceremoniously during holiday commemorations and a pair of iron benches for those who want to pause, read, and reflect. These 5 plaques are aligned on a long and simple granite marker:

It was known as the Great War... the war to end all wars.

We went "over there" to the songs and cheers of our countrymen, and marched
right into the grim reality of twentieth-century warfare.  Poison gas, machine
guns, tanks, aircraft, and submarines were devastating innovations.  We fought
in trenches, on the sea, and in the air.

We helped make the world safe for democracy... but it was only the beginning.
This memorial is in honor of all of the World War II veterans who were involved
in the fight for the freedom of America and the free world.

Whether they fought in the Pacific or European theater, they faced a resolute and
often brutal enemy; yet they possessed the inner strength and courage that kept
them going on the beaches of Normandy, in the deserts of North Africa, and on
the islands of the South Pacific.

The actions of those who were called to duty were probably best described by the
words of Admiral Nimitz: "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
They told us, "We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it." So we
fought in the mountains at Heartbreak Ridge and waded ashore at Inchon.

We froze in the winter and baked in the summer sun.

At times, we were greatly outnumbered, but we still fought on and many of us gave
our lives for Freedom... for Justice... and for Peace

This memorial was erected in memory of the young individuals who went to war
as kids and lost their youthful dreams, and some their lives, for a cause - freedom
and honor - and came back as men with the horrors of war instilled in every fiber
of their being and were never given the respect and honor they so dearly deserved
from the public or United States government.

God will one day judge our actions.  Until then, He will shine on the lives of each
veteran now and forever more because He was with each of them in Vietnam. He is
the only One that truly knows what they went through and are living with every day.
"I have seen in your eyes a fire of determination to get this job done quickly so that
we may all return to the shores of our great nation.  My confidence in you is total.
Our cause is just.  Now you must be the thunder and lightning of Desert Storm."
- General Norman Schwarzkopf

I have connections to all these conflicts - relatives and friends who've served in the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marine Corp...  And the monuments celebrating the achievements of our veterans have sure found a place in my heart, especially the ones you find in obscure places where you don't expect them. I welcome these opportunities to stop and think about the courage it takes to offer yourself up for the good of your country knowing you might be called on to make that ultimate sacrifice.  There’s something sacred about that kind of bravery that deserves to be honored.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Leaf Peeping & Stuff

Jason came to check on us and make sure we were surviving our wilderness adventure.  While he was here we took little trips to explore some nearby cities.  And since he keeps telling my phone pictures are pretty bad, I've been trying to use my camera more. Not sure it helps a lot... the problem may be just as much my photography skills as the device I'm using.  One day we drove up to Parkersburg and he took me to Rural King, where we bought dog food, and then we drove over the 50 cent toll bridge into Belpre, OH where we stopped in at the world's tiniest Goodwill.  (Seriously!  I would question if it was even 500 square feet but he looked annoyed when I referred to it as an adorable miniature...)  I had to laugh thinking 'Do we know how to romance or what?'  Another day we took off in the opposite direction and took a look around Clarksburg.  That day highlighted how opposite from most people we are - he pointed the car straight to the mall while I wanted to take pictures of cool buildings, historic sites and nature.  Here's a few pictures of stuff I wanted to see that I managed to snap along the way:

Leaves are just starting to change colors for fall.

Sometimes when you look out at the horizon it's like you can see trees forever.

You can see that it's giving way, but green is still putting up a good fight
to stick around awhile longer.

One more shot of the first blush of fall color from along Highway 50.
The dogs got to show him their new favorite dog park.  They had a great romp and then crashed in the back of the Explorer while we played a game of heads = turn right, tails = turn left going on up Volcano Road.  We ended up on a road I don't quite have an adequate vocabulary to describe (let alone get pictures of!) where the car was bouncing and lurching over the ruts and boulders... Amazingly, it finally connected to another beautifully blacktopped road a few miles later.

Shortly before the end of the Civil War, Volcano emerged as a major oil producing
boomtown in the White Oak region of Wood and Ritchie Counties...

We both thought this little cave in the rocks and tree roots was pretty neat.

We turned a corner and he hit the brakes! There was
Ginger and Cindy, horses he owned before the family
farm burned 8 years ago and he sold them. He called
to them and they perked right up and then he hopped
the fence went to pet them.  They are following him
back toward the car for more...

I hear this construction site is a new nuclear plant.  Looks like a possibility to me.  And the guard frowning at me for taking pictures kind of reinforced the idea...  We were on a public road and not trespassing on a private build site. The signs didn't give many clues, they just said Entero Energy Clearwater Project (which didn't come up in Google when I searched).

From another day... in St. Mary's:
I walked in some famous footsteps!!  And I stomped all
around the bank here just to make sure my foot fell somewhere
that his did so I could honestly say that...

The Ohio River directly behind the monument for George Washington's landing.

And just when you think the adventure is over and you've FOUND him... find out you're wrong and the adventure continues!  We pulled in at the cabin well after sundown and I saw some bright lights up on the dark hillside.  I pointed them out to Jason.  He said a couple of words I won't repeat here and took off up the hill through the tall grass and brush and whatever else is growing there to investigate.  Before long he pulls up and tells me he's got to go meet the DNR officer and then they'll both come back.  An hour later... I learned the lights were some guys using spotlights on their pickups to hunt deer up there, which is illegal, on private property where they had no permission to be, which is even more illegal, and then evading arrest, which is even still more illegal.  What an exciting way to end our visit... And test if my phone, which has only super sketchy service up here, could even make a 911 call!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Friday Night Football

From the school's Facebook page.
Ritchie County High School/Middle School is just on the other side of Highway 50 and some of these pleasant Friday nights, I’ve heard a faint roar from the crowd at a football game or heard a particularly enthusiastic drum beat, or maybe a tuba blast, as the band kicked it into high gear. It all had me thinking that small town life really hasn’t changed all that much… High School sports still dominate the social culture in our heartland.  I’ve even been thinking it would be fun to go to a game.

From the school's Facebook page.  Looks like the whole county
came out for this game!!
On another Friday night.

When it isn’t raining (it is tonight).  Because, you know, I might melt or something if I get wet.

Now, I wonder if that’s something I really want to do.  Friday night in early October means football and when it's the only game in town, you hear about it.  Sometimes when you don't really anticipate it, even. Coming home my only strong radio station shifted from light rock to a 2-hour long pre-game show for… High School Football.  And I actually found myself listening with morbid fascination!

Still shot from a game tape found on

Some of the standout comments:
  • There’s a Catholic School somewhere near-ish named Madonna.  Apparently, their school color is blue because they are widely referred to as the Blue Dons. I’m not Catholic so I don’t know for sure… but isn’t it kind of rude to call the Holy Mother by a dude’s name?
  • Our local team must be having an off year.  One of the announcers said tonight’s game in Ellenboro is the kind where the other team should practice plays they aren’t very good at.
  • Technical and un-sportsman like conduct fouls are being called against half-time band performances and Homecoming activities when they don’t clear the field in precisely their allotted 20 minutes.  One guy went so far as to say there should be some electronic way to tip the field so they all slid into the end zone and could get sorted out later.  Another called for directors to come up with a universal signal for “ band geeks to just forget how it looks and get off the field in the quickest direction possible!” because a marching band stayed in formation through a hurried exit.

With those comments, the statistical analysis they were providing of teams, coaches, and individual players, and really just the overall tone of the show I had to wonder when High School sports got to be such serious business.  I’ve watched NFL commentary that was less detailed and critical.  Seriously, individual players had their skills shredded.  Coach’s competency was questioned.  Officials were criticized both over calls they made on field and judgment calls they didn’t make the way the commentators wished.  (The judgement call was over allowing a game to proceed during inclement weather because the rain, and the resulting mud on the field, affected who won.  They went on to criticize the losing quarterback’s mentality for dropping a ball when his hands were caked with mud because he should be smart enough to tuck multiple towels in his waistband to wipe his hands and just toss one when it got too dirty.)  But I think what bothered me most was the praise for “playing a very physical game” when one team inflicted multiple injuries on an opposing team and ruined any chance for them to play in the state championship tournament that year.

When did HIGH SCHOOL sports get so serious?   And when did adults get so mean about it?

Or have I really blocked so many unpleasant memories from my childhood that it only seems like I grew up inside a Norman Rockwell painting?  I don’t know.  But if this is today’s normal, I will happily move back under my happy little rock!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Some Thoughts on Apple Butter

Regarding the rules for West Virginia, The Farmer’s Market Vendor Guide: A Guide for Farmers, Sanitarians, and the Consumer lists apple butter, along with sorghum and molasses, as a food product with a special classification.  It can be produced outdoors in open copper kettles and then sold at Farmer’s Markets and other venues.  In order to sell most foods, the facility where they are produced is required have some level of certification as a commercial kitchen.  The reasoning for excepting these foods is that the combination of high temperatures before jarring and the generous amount of sugar they contain decrease the likelihood that the product is “potentially hazardous” to a very low level.  Maybe it also speaks to tradition and tourism, too.  Demonstrations of the historical method for making apple butter are featured at a number of fall festivals.  And at least two cities in West Virginia have dedicated Apple Butter Festivals!

Photo lifted from the Salem Apple Butter Festival, Inc.
Facebook page.
I had high hopes for a really unique experience when I drove the 30-ish miles east to Salem this afternoon.  With  no disrespect intended for the many hours of work put in by the folks who organize this festival, I have to say I was a bit disappointed.  It was busy and active and by all those kinds of measures, successful.  It's just... there was nothing to set it apart from any other street fair in any other town in America, except for the apple butter making demonstration.  I do have to say, I did enjoy watching it simmering in a big open kettle over a wood fire! That historical aspect is what was missing from the rest of the festival, in my opinion, as this was surely the best part of it for me.

Photo from the official website of the
Salem Apple Butter Festival, Inc.
However, you don’t need an open roaring fire or a big copper kettle to make really great apple butter.  Basically, it’s apples and sugar and spices cooked down to a jam-like consistency.  You can do it stovetop or even in your crockpot using any one of the dozens of recipes available on Pinterest.  Or, if  you are that kind of woman, you can bust out the cauldron and go for it outdoors... One of these soon to come days, I plan to give it a try!  Probably on the stovetop, though.

And unless I find a good reason to choose otherwise, McIntosh will be my apple of choice.

Photo from Jane Lear (actually read this post on
her fancy food blog - great guide for choosing
your apples!)

The West Virginia-grown McIntosh's seem especially delicious to me this year... maybe they always are; this is my first time tasting them here and I am wowed by their tangy sweetness with just a hint of strawberry flavor.  I'm pretty sure I could be a very happy girl with a whole orchard of these beauties in my yard!!  And the boys are surely loving having them fresh as our nightly snack!  Me too.

Monday, October 3, 2016

WW II Submarine Memorial

This is at Mountwood Park.  The boys and I explored the rest of the park last week but it was raining too much to get a look at their memorial to the lost submarine men that day.  Today we went back to the dog park to work out some wiggles and attitude problems and then took some time to remember and reflect at this small, simple, and unassuming memorial site on the shores of Walker Lake.

I learned a sad fact.  52 U.S. Submarines were lost in World War II.  This plaque on the front of the memorial lists those still listed as "On Patrol."  That's a sobering number... As is the number of men who are still onboard: 3,505 officers and enlisted men.

Words fail me to express my respect and gratitude for their sacrifice!

"We shall never forget that it was our submarines that held the lines against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds."  Fleet Admiral C.W. Nimitz, USN

I didn't find an explanation as to why, but the U.S.S. Cisco was given special recognition here, listing men who went down with her on September 28, 1943.  According to her Wikipedia page, "Cisco sailed from Panama 7 August 1943 for Brisbane, Australia, arriving 1 September to assume local patrol duties, until 18 September, when she docked at Darwin. She put out on her first war patrol 20 September, but never returned. Japanese records tell of sighting a submarine leaking oil on 28 September in an area where Cisco is known to have been the only submarine then operating. Japanese records state this submarine was sunk by bombs and depth charges. Cisco is thus presumed to have been lost in action 28 September 1943. The only survivor from the crew was Chief Radioman Howell B. Rice (USN ret.), who was taken sick in Darwin and sent ashore to the Navy hospital prior to Cisco's final voyage."

The lake side of the memorial has a plaque recognizing those who contributed to its building and placement.  It includes a number of WW II submarine veterans.

With the loss of our veteran's from this time period, I have to wonder how many stories are lost with them.  What could we learn that would help us not repeat the mistakes that drew the world into this war with its unspeakably horrible human cost?  I think these memorials help, both the famous and the obscure, when we take the time to stop, read and put some effort into really comprehending our history and how it's made our life today possible.  It also makes me think that a simple 'thank you,' no matter how appreciated, just isn't enough...

Roadside Regional Dining

From day one here, I've seen these things called Pepperoni Rolls in convenience stores and gas stations.  Jason shrugged when he told me they were a "West Virginia thing" and we went on our way.  Yesterday I was thumbing my way through some of those tourist magazines that are a staple of rest stops all over the nation and along with at least a thousand more things I want to do and see I found a short article on the humble origins of... the Pepperoni Roll.  So you know I had to try one.

This was my breakfast this morning!

Never heard of a Pepperoni Roll before?  Apparently, these little gems don't exist too far away from West Virginia... So once you try one your avenue to satisfy your craving is pretty narrow.  Unless it leads to your own kitchen.  Pepperoni Rolls are pretty simple to make.  Basically, it's just a nice soft dinner roll filled with pepperoni.  You could take your favorite yeast dough that you'd use to make dinner rolls, roll it out and cut like you're making pretty large crescents, layer some pepperoni inside, roll it up, pinch it shut and bake it.  And there you have a classic Pepperoni Roll.

See the inside?

The fats in the pepperoni that are solid at room temperature melt during baking and infuse the soft bread with flavor. Some bakeries are trying to gourmet them up a bit by adding cheese and/or herbs to the stuffing.  Or giving you a cup of warm marinara sauce for dipping.  I think either or both of those additions would be delicious... But just plain old pepperoni is classic and the way a purist would have them.  And of course, there's the expected disagreement over using sliced or stick pepperoni.  I say just use plenty of it!!

The story of how they came to be such a regional staple of roadside dining is really what's interesting, though, because it's such an American story.  Guiseppe Argiro, an Italian immigrant who came to the U.S. to work in the coal mines found his real calling in baking and started selling Pepperoni Rolls to other miners in 1927 from the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, WV.  Isn't that the American dream?  Starting with nothing and finding success inventing something iconic? They became popular because they keep for several days at room temperature, are lightweight and easy to pack and can be eaten with one hand - a real working man's lunch!  Today they are popular for tailgating, camping, and on-the-go snacking for these same reasons.

I think it's a safe bet if you put your money on me having more Pepperoni Rolls in the future...