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Saturday, December 19, 2009

THE SNOWSTORM- & we still have power!












I write this at the beginning of what is evidently going to be THE SNOWSTORM of the last 7 years. It is Seriously Snowing, as you can see from my "Pokey-in-the-snow" pix, and Weatherbug's been chirping madly on my computer warning that we are due for 12-20 inches before Sunday morning! We haven't had a storm like this since the Ice Storm that hit when we first bought the Inn building in 2002, and it really is something to behold! It's beautiful and wondrous, seasonally appropriate, etc., BECAUSE we are on the inside, toasty-warm and looking out, & because Dan made sure we had enough wood chainsawed into manageable logs for the fireplace, propane, candles, batteries for flashlights, etc. (I had one small "Oh, s***!" moment tonight when the power went out for 10 seconds, and put my head in my hands in despair, but then it all came on again, and life resumed!) And so, with mugs of Chef Dan's turkey gumbo & glasses of red wine at the ready, we were all set when Route 52 shut down & we could take lovely, still photos of the Pocahontas RR chugging by from our front porch! Route 52's been plowed now (gotta keep The Highway open for our coal trucks, dontcha know!), and it's literally a twinkling, snow-covered wonderland out there- right out of a Currier & Ives engraving! It's 1:20a.m, and our Inn guests are tucked up into their beds and the table is set for their breakfast, Pibble-Bear, Lady & Kitty are snug in their bed, and I am winding down: Facebooking (started an album of Pokey-in-the-snow pix for our railfans on the Elkhorn Inn "fan" page) , Tweeting, eBaying, Sweeping, & Blogging... because we still have power! Yay! LOL

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Elkhorn Inn Sweepstakes & Contest Winners!

Last night (Dec 2, 2009) wonderful Dreama Denver (Denver Foundation, Little Buddy Radio, etc.) did the drawing for the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre's "Facebook Fan" Sweepstakes winners, and Elisse (me) announced the winner of the Elkhorn Inn's "Marketing Buzz" contest at Gary Bowling's House of Art in Bluefield, and BluefieldView put it all on YouTube! Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrOy1-DPeLo
We've notified the winners, and most have already claimed their prizes! :-)
Dan & I are SO glad that a real, live Railfan won our "Marketing Buzz" contest, and gets the Grand Prize of a $320 gift certificate for a 2-night stay at the Elkhorn Inn & a Chef Dan dinner for two!
We've gotta say it: BluefieldView makes THE best videos! Terry Rowe somehow manages to flatter us all, and flattery will get you Everywhere, dahling! :-) He does an AMAZING job of promoting all the many things southern West Virginia has to offer, and we truly owe him a debt of gratitude, for without his 24/7 work and Facbooking & YourTubing & Tweeting, we'd never know of many of the great things going on right under our noses!

Tonight Chef Dan made us an amazing turkey gumbo- with a 'chocolate roux', andouille sausage, okra, and shrimp- and it was THE best thing to warm one up on a cold, winter evening! Walking into the kitchen at Just The Right Time, I got to help him make the roux, & discovered it really is a 4-handed feat- I've no CLUE how he does it alone! The creamy, rich roux gives the gumbo a smooth, sexy smokiness, and all the different textures of the shrimp, sausage, okra, & turkey, plus the 'zing' from peppers & his secret mix of herbs and spices make for one Very luscious, sexy soup... Yes, soup Can be sexy!


This past weekend, Dan & I threw the puppies (Whiney & Drooley, a.k.a. as Pibble Bear & Lady, pictured, drooling) in the Jeep, & zoomed up to our friend's hunting cabin in Virginia for a quickie getaway. I have NEVER seen a dog drool as much spit as Drooley- I mean Lady- did in the first hour of our trip. I SWEAR she has secret pouches in her face that can hold quarts of spit... Lady's part lab, & this trip gave new meaning to words "water dog"... It was actually rather an amazing thing to witness, albeit in a rather nasty & disgusting way... The Intention of this little jaunt was for Dan & I to hunt together, & so we packed enough camo, long underwear, ammo, & Hunter Orange for a week. In prep for our Saturday Walk In The Woods To Go Get Dinner, I had to make sure I could accurately shoot at least one of Dan's weapons; his rifle having such a long stock that I couldn't even see thru the scope properly, I target-shot his 12-gauge shotgun... and flipped over backwards! Although I (amazingly) hit the target with 3 out of 12, I did it while flipping head-over-arse & evidently put on quite a show... For when I stood up- DEEPLY embarrassed, as I've Never been thrown by a gun- our friend Judy was speechless, & her son was agog; unbeknownst to me, I had blood running down my face! If I'd had that gun braced against my shoulder (as I'd been taught to do), I would have dislocated it & wound up in the ER, but fortunately I listened to Army Dan & tucked it under my armpit! So instead of hunting, Dan & Ms. Puffy-Face (with her "hunting wound") trundled off to Clark's to look for a gun that boo-boo might actually be able to hunt with, and I found the gun of my dreams: a super-light, short stock AR15. For "only" $800! So when we win the lotto... :-)


On the way back to the cabin we stopped at Gray Ghost Vineyards for a wine tasting :-) & to make up for my blueness at not being able to hunt, we bought a couple of bottles for our little "wine cellar" back at the Inn... I especially liked their "Victorian White", a "stainless steel Chardonnay" that has a lovely, light pineapple-y nose, & I think will be great with the Vietnamese foods that Dan & I love to make... We'd brought all the fixings for the spicy Vietnamese green papaya-grilled beef salad, and made it for our friends at the cabin, and the minute I got home I ordered more green papayas (& fresh Thai peppers & coconut milk...) from http://www.tastepadthai.com! Taste Pad Thai Truly has THE best fresh produce & groceries for Asian cooking- delivered right to your door! On top of which, their customer service is Great, AND they now have a 20%-off coupon if you order on-line! YAY!



On another happy note, the Sweeps Queen of Landgraff, WV really Did win an LG Bliss phone in the "Lose Your Ugly, Find Your Bliss" Sweepstakes! I sent in the affidavit, they emailed me that they got it, and I'm now waiting on the arrival of my Bliss! (My True bliss will be if it actually works here in southern WV!) I am ALL excited about this, having given up my cell phone in 2002 when we moved to southern WV from NYC- I couldn't get so much as a message on it here, much less make a call. But Wally World put up a cellphone tower right above the Elkhorn Inn, & l'il Bliss is supposed to take pix and do all Sorts of cool stuff! I have High Hopes for this baby!
So yeah, I really DID hit "critical mass" in the Sweepstakes Department this year! Some people play solitaire on the computer at 3a.m.; I enter sweeps... LOL

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving!

Today Chef Dan made his magnificent fresh-oregano-stuffed turkey, with an incredibly crispy herb-and-smoked-sea-salt rubbed skin, and we had it with "Saffire", a crisp, dry white wine from our trip to AmRhein Winery in Virginia earlier this year, and it was wonderful! With it we had our garden-grown potatoes, mashed with the skins on and topped w/Chef Dan's rich, creamy giblet gravy, and an herb-bread baked stuffing made with our fennel pesto, and cranberry sauce with grated orange peel... and it was truly a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at the Elkhorn Inn! I am deeply thankful for a great many things, but Numero Uno is that I'm married to the love of my life...















Last night Dan & got dressed up & went out for a 'night on the town'- and yes, you can actually do that now in the mountains of southern West Virginia! First we had a wonderful "pre-Thanksgiving" sushi-saki feast at Kimono in Princeton; they truly do have some of The best sushi I've Ever had in the USA, and last night they were Packed! Then we went to Gary Bowling's House of Art in Bluefield for their always-great Wednesday Night Open Mic, and had a great time! Gary Bowling's had The biggest crowd- standing room only- and it is a BIG place!- and it was really jumping! At the end of the evening Dan & I wound up dancing to "I Love You Just The Way You Are", sung by Dreama Denver (the voice of Little Buddy Radio and the personificaton of the Denver Foundation- she is the widow of Bob "Gilligan" Denver), and by the end of the song I was literally in tears- but really Good tears! :-)
Hope your Turkey Day was grand, too!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vietnam & Thai in West Virginia!

After our happy Railfan couple left the Elkhorn Inn on Saturday morning, Dan & I had a "foodie" weekend! My box of wonderful fresh produce arrived from www.TastePadThai.com (2 gorgeous green mangoes, fresh lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, & thai chilies, among other things!), & I cracked open Mai Pham's wonderful Vietnam cookbook & cooked for Chef Dan! www.TastePadThai.com sent us a special slicer as a gift with my order, and with it Dan (yes, I let him help!) was able to easily make the perfect julienne strips of crisp, green mango for my Green Mango Salad! Tossed with a spicy sauce, and topped with thin strips of marinated, grilled beef, Asian Basil, flat leaf parsley, and chopped peanuts, we managed to recreate a dish we'd had in Saigon last year and loved- right here in West Virginia! I also made us Thai Tom Yum Gai soup- with coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass & Thai peppers, sliced, fresh mushrooms & shrimp- a soup I've LOVED for years, but haven't had since I lived in NYC. It's Such an easy soup to make, but you can't make it without the special fresh herbs & spices... and the smell of it is literally intoxicating! With our Vietnamese-Tahi dinner we drank Ginseng Wine from Summerville, West Virginia's Kirkwood Winery http://www.kirkwood-wine.com/ It's So much like the Vietnamese snake wine that we both love, that we even use it to top up our souvenir bottle of snake-&-scorpion wine! I think Kirkwood's ginseng wine is truly my favorite wine now- it has a totally unique taste with a very slight bitterness that I LOVE... & it reminds me of our time in Vietnam...
Today we continued our culinary weekend & figured out how to make the Ultimate Condiment: the Vietnamese Chili-Lemongrass Salt we'd fallen in Total love with at the Dakbla Restaurant in KonTum, Vietnam! We browned finely chopped lemongrass & Thai chilies in chili oil in a cast iron skillet & tossed it with coarse kosher salt- making THE best condiment in the world! Gimmee a bowl of rice & some of that chili salt & I'm a happy camper! Looking back, I see how important food- really Good food!- has been to me throughout my life: I remember almost everything I've done in terms of what I ate, who I was with when I ate it, and what we were talking about while we ate! For me, this chili-lemongrass salt literally & physically brings back our wonderful honeymoon last year, especially the cooking classes Dan & did in Saigon & HoiAn, and the magic days we spent "trekking" (and eating & drinking...) through the Central Highlands with our guide/friend Huynh www.vietnamhighlands.com If you're interested in having a truly wonderful experience seeing & experiencing the REAL Central Highlands of Vietnam, Huynh is the person to see... (See my blog posts after April 2008 for photos of our time in Vietnam, as well as Korea & Japan). Yes, I put on 25 lbs. eating & drinking my way across Asia w/Chef Dan, & came waddling back with 2 chins, & have been on a diet ever since, but it was worth it! :-)
Tonight, after we topped the last of the green mango salad w/grilled chicken, Dan made us luscious Vietnamese Fried Bananas, and while he dusted his (appropriately) with confectioner's sugar, I sprinkled mine with that divine chili-lemongrass salt! I've always loved the sweet fruit/spicy combination, and the hot banana fritters with their gooey-sweet, molten centers were so yummy with just a bit of "zing" from the chili salt! :-) I tried the chili-salt on crisp slices of cucumber, too, and it was almost as good as on the green mango! (Reminded me of an amazingly juicy, sweet mango doused with chili sauce I got from a Latino food cart on W. 23rd Street in NYC in 10/2001...) I then put up a jar of Vietnamese Pickled Chilies with Garlic (and some lemongrass, just for kicks), so we'll have them to enjoy for awhile, too...
It's now Winter, & getting cold; leaf-peeping is behind us, & it's getting dark earlier and earlier... and yes, I may have SAD, but I find all this Incredibly depressing! So I decided Dan & I needed something fun to do to occupy us thru the slow, cold, winter... and cooking the authentic Vietnamese, Korean, & Japanese foods we love seemed to be a cool thing to do! But with only WalMart & Food City within an hour of us, what's a "foodie" girl to do?! So while Dan was hunting w/his buds in Virginia, I trolled the internet night after night for Asian cookbooks, recipes, and exotic food sources, and came up with some GREAT finds: www.TastepadThai.com, especially for their fresh herbs & produce (as well as pantry items, & the cayenne pepper stick-on heating pads that I haven't seen since I lived in Germany & which are Great for muscle & arthritis pain); www.hirts.com for seeds to grow things like lemongrass, red perilla, and green shiso for Vietnamese "table salad"; www.pacificrimgourmet.com and www.VeryAsia.com for my "sushi kit", dried exotic mushrooms, & all sort of cool spices and condiments; www.amazon.com (especially for (used) books & cookbooks); www.bestkimchi.com who will actually FedEx Korean BBQ, Kimchi, & scallion pancakes from NYC; and even good ol' www.eBay.com, where I found a Hawaiian supplier of Japanese foods! In addition to stocking our Asian Pantry, I treated myself to a batch of winter reading material: Korean, Vietnamese, & Japanese histories, fiction, and cookbooks- & now we're cookin'- literally! (I just hope I don't put on 40 lbs. in the process!)
Speaking of things "foodie": We've just added a fab gourmet sea salt sampler to the Elkhorn Inn's Gift Shop: samples of 16 different sea salts, just like Chef Dan presents to guests dining at the Elkhorn Inn- and it's only $19.99! (This is the Elkhorn Inn's corporate gift this year, too, and our supply is limited, so please order early if you need holiday delivery). Please check out the Elkhorn Inn's Gift Shop for a great selection of unique, fun and AFFORDABLE gifts for the holidays- including hand-crafted coal gifts and ornaments, quilts, books, stained glass, jewelry, and gourmet jams, jellies, and relishes, that are all made by real people, right here in WV and VA! We have new embroidered logo spa robes, shirts, & caps, too- and we can include them (or any of our other gift shop items) with gift certificates for stays at the Inn & Chef Dan Dinners! Have fun shopping for the holidays- and let us know what you think! :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shopping!

It's "that time of year" again- The $#&%!! Festive Season- and so one's mind turns (whether one wants it to or not) to... Shopping! This blog post is Totally about shopping, and includes a few products & merchant's I've come to love...

In the last 7 years- since we moved here to the rural mountains of southern WV- I've become a die-hard, passionate eBayer, and while I internet-window-shop all the high-end fashion & retail sites, such as Neiman-Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Bendel's, Bloomies, Vogue mag, etc., I then put up eBay "alerts" for items I covet, & once they pop up (and almost everything eventually does...) I then play wait-&-see, coming in at the last, heart-pounding second to snag that bargain Missoni sweater or Viv Westwood heels, or cashmere coat! (& yes, last week I've snagged all of the above!) This Native NYC Girl has Never been comfortable "paying retail"; it makes one feel like an eejit! In The City I was a habitue of the fabulous Upper East Side Thrift Shops where one would oft rub elbows with the Ladies Who Lunch while combing the racks in pursuit of that AbFab $5 cashmere sweater! Nothing thrills a NYC gal so mucg as snagging a Missoni cashmere suit or Burberry coat for $25, or a pair of Ferragamo pumps for $15! (As readers of the blog know, when I travel on business, if I have an hour free I usually make a bee-line for the local Goodwill or Salvation Army; one never knows What treasure one may find, especially if there's an "upper income" neighborhood nearby!) In the process, I've turned Dan into the Thrift Shop King of Landgraff, WV- Truly funny as he STILL professes to HATE shopping! When at home I turn to www.eBay.com- for darn near everything, from designer duds, cosmetics, & perfumes I could never otherwise afford, to one-of-a-kind vintage quilts, carpets, and decor items for the Inn, to office supplies, "toys", and even vehicles! Although I shop eBay all year- late at night, Nothing beats it for sheer, mindless relaxation- come November, I'm Seriously looking for Hanukkah gifts for Dan- the man I have Never been able to surprise! But this year I think I may actually be able to do it! Don't tell him(!), but early this summer I snagged him the eBay bargain to beat all: a Gorgeous, new, dark-green shearling coat (and while I was at it, a fluffy Mongolian Lamb jacket for me...) from 2 great eBay furriers (one in Canada who had GREAT stuff...), & boxed them up & hid them in the cedar closet... I also got Chef Dan a portable pocket pepper mill, after he actually mentioned in a restaurant that he'd like to have one... I'm currently eBay-following a fabulous electronic hog call (!) & brush pants for the Texas hog-hunting trip we're planning, as well as ski duds for both of us (so we don't look like dorks when I take him back to Winterplace to ski, as I fully well intend to do...) And then I discovered BestKimchi www.bestkimchi.com in Flushing NY (home of The Best Korean food outside Korea), and as they will actually FedEx fresh Korean BBQ, Kimchi, & even Korean scallion pancakes, Dan just May be getting a Korean Feast that he won't have to cook himself! :-D

Products (and merchants) I've come to Love:
Rejuvacote
I am 50, and for 37 years I've been trying (sometimes desperately, as readers of this blog know...) to find a way to grow my paper-thin nails out longer than the quick- and to stop them from tearing off the minute I use my hands for anything- and I FINALLY FOUND IT! THIS STUFF WORKS! I not only have long nails that I can put polish on & not feel stupid, but they aren't paper-thin any more! I have REAL, HEALTHY, THICK NAILS! Which is nothing short of Amazing! I was told for years by doctors that my paper-thin nails were due to the fact that I have Psoriasis, and that there was nothing I could do about it- and that was a lie!!!! I have used Everything on the market, but nothing worked; I recently tried NailTek for a number of months & it helped a bit- but more as a coating than anything else, and my nails still tore off. But Rejuvacote REALLY worked- & fast! I have real, normal nails now, polished up all pretty, and I've not even 1/2 finished one bottle! :-D

Clorox OxiMagic Spray
I never thought I'd say I love a cleaning product- ANY cleaning product- but I LOVE Clorox OxiMagic Spray! It really works and takes out stains- even horrid things like dried coffee & red wine- on contact- & I go Nuts when we run out of it! And so, naturally, our local WalMart has stopped carrying it... but good ol' Family Dollar keeps it in stock! Because we have the Inn, and it is Huge and requires a LOT of cleaning damn near constantly (all of which Dan & I do ourselves), I do not say this lightly: OxiMagic Spray is Da Bomb! :-D

Aminogenesis
I try LOTS of anti-aging products. Since I turned 48 it's become my "hobby". LOL. I read Spa B-2-B publications religiously, check beauty websites constantly, & do trials of new products as often as I can. At 50, I'm Always on the prowl for the Next Greatest Thing to (at least visually) "stop the clock", and when I compare close-up photos of my face to those of most of my peers, I think I've been at least reasonably successful! LOL I've tried everything from LaMer (didn't do a thing for me), Philosophy (no results from their anti-aging products, but I do like their 2-part microdermabrasion kit), and Lancome Precious Cells (nice & creamy, but no results), to Skinceutical Ferrilic C E serum, and Obagi Elastiderm Eye Gel (jury's still out on these two), as well as drugstore & WalMart products like Olay (feels nice, but no real results). But to date I always wind up going back to AminoGenesis, for their products Truly help my skin look its best, and they're the only products I've bought repeatedly for years now- and yes, as a result of this we sell them in the Elkhorn Inn's Gift Shop and on-line Gift Shop: http://store.elkhorninnwv.com The products I love best and won't be without are: Cocoon Body Lotion (which actually helps my Psoriasis, and has clinical research to back it up), Photolagen for sun damaged skin, Dermascyne 2 & 3, and Very Very Clean Cleanser. No, they're not "cheap", but they're a Helluvalot cheaper than LaMer- and (most importantly) they actually work! :-D

Queensboro.com
ALL of the Elkhorn Inn's gorgeously full-color embroidered shirts, spa robes, chef's aprons, & caps now come from www.Queensboro.com! They do THE best embroidery, have THE best prices, and THE best customer service! We have ordered from other suppliers over the years, but Queensboro has won our hearts- they are ABSOLUTELY the best. They have a VERY cool & user-friendly website, with a neat program that allows you to change the embroidery colors for each garment adn see what it will really look like- AND they were able to create a great embroidery graphic of the Inn from a photo, AND they have only a 4-piece product minimum, so you can order small quantities, AND they have Great sale prices, AND their Customer Service people are EXCELLENT! :-D

BioFreeze
Dan has arthritis in his hands, and sometimes he's in terrible pain from it. (There is NOTHING worse to have around than a workaholic in pain!) We have tried a LOT of stuff, but BioFreeze actually works & TRULY helps take the pain away almost immediately. GREAT stuff! :-D

iGourmet, D'Artagnan, Very Asia, Pepper-Passion, & Amazon
Somewhat of a "foodie", I love to get Chef Dan yummy gourmet things we can cook with (or that he can cook with & I can eat, LOL), and the only way I can get us "exotic" foodstuffs, such as Vietnamese pho noodles & fish sauce, Japanese nori & pickled ginger for sushi, Korean BBQ sauce, Thai lemongrass, Chinese black fungus mushrooms, Italian truffle cheese, and specialty meats like buffalo Fillet Mignon, elk steaks, or wild boar bacon, is to order them online... and so some of my favorite retailers (besides eBay) are www.igourmet.com (for WONDERFUL cheeses, sausages, condiments, spices, etc.), www.dartagnan (for THE best gourmet meats and their EXCELLENT Cassoulet Kit which comes with Everything you need, from the French Tarbot beans & sausages to the duck confit & fat!), www.pepper-passion.com for Vietnamese & other exotic peppercorns that Chef Dan likes to cook with, and www.veryasia.com for Asian foodstuffs. www.Amazon.com Marketplace has great stuff, but their shipping costs are INSANE, and so I've taken to using it as a source, and then buying directly from the individual merchant's websites. (I just ordered Asian foodie things from www.tastepadthai.com and www.pacificrimgourmet, both of whom I discovered on Amazon Marketplace, and will let you know how they are, shortly!) I do love www.Amazon.com for books, especially cheaper second-hand books, and this fall I finally treated myself to a slew of books I've coveted for a Long time: Oliver Statler's books on Japan, one of Mai Pham's great Vietnamese cookbook, and anthologies of Korean & Vietnamese short stories... I'm back to curling up in bed (or by the fireplace, or in the bathtub...) with a good book (or two or three), and it's my Fave thing to do in the winter, when it starts getting dark (and cold) at 4p.m.!

CarrotInk.com
I discovered www.carrotink.com thru MyPoints www.mypoints.com- my very favorite shopping portal- and I am VERY impressed with their products, their prices, & their customer service. They do re-manufactured extra-large ink cartridges for both our printers at less than half the price of what the regular-size ones cost at WalMart, AND they have free shipping, AND when you call their Customer Service you get knowledgeable people who can actually answer one's questions, AND you get MyPoints on each purchase! :-D

MagicJack
Okay, I was a skeptic. When Dan paid $19.95 for this and brought it home I rolled my eyes, convinced that it Had to be a total scam. But he hooked it up to our computer & it works- and now we (and Elkhorn Inn guests) make all our long distance calls from it at no charge! And there really were no hidden charges! They did NOT ask for a credit card when he registered! I'm impressed! (Actually, I'm AMAZED!) :-D

MyPoints.com
As for www.MyPoints.com, this year in the process of simply shopping for things we'd buy anyway, we've again totted up some 17,500 Points- enough for $150 in gift certificates! :-D We've been members of MyPoints for over 7 years, and it's a GREAT program that really works! My only beef with them is that some of the retailers I love to shop at aren't on there- www.dartagnan, http://www.igourmet.com/ http://www.veryasia.com/, http://www.pepper-passion.com/, and http://www.amazon.com/, for example. But (thank goodness) www.ebay.com is! :-D I also use www.ebates.com, which does give cash back, but only if the seller isn't on MyPoints. And once I've found what I want, bargain-hunter that I am, I then Google for Coupon Codes... A lot of this may seem idiotically time consuming, which it is, but (like entering sweeps), it beats playing solitaire! I think the most important thing about shopping is to have some fun at it- I've called it "retail therapy" for years, and if you think of it that way it assuages the guilt! LOL

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oy! (But I can't complain- I'd be an idiot)...

With the good, comes the bad, right?
We've had a wonderful fall at the Inn. If I complained about Anything I'd be a criminally stupid idiot. Homer & Linda Hickam stopped by the Elkhorn Inn the night before the Coalwood October Sky Festival and Totally thrilled our guests (and us)! Homer signed books, posed for photos with our guests (and me!), and was, as we say in Yiddish, a Total Mensch! :-) He is really As Good As It Gets, and so is Linda, for it was she who informed us that some of Homer's books that we had in our Gift Shop were First Editions and REALLY special! :-) (Our only "Rocket Boys" Signed First Edition is on eBay right now... and there's a bid, so it will definitely sell to one Really Happy Person! Check it out! http://shop.ebay.com/290367934084 )
Our many wonderful Railfan guests have been enjoying the Inn, leaf-peeping, and all our wonderful Pocahontas trains, and the Inn's great, new ATCS Monitor and Scanner, shooting backup pix & videos off our balcony & patio... and we've had guests from as far away as Alaska & MN enjoying the Inn... (Our AK guest gifted us with a jar of her home-made "half-smoke" spicy salmon, which was like Manna from heaven for Dan & I!)
Our hand-crafted WV coal gifts, McDowell County jams & jellies, coal candy, and vintage American Quilts have been flying off the shelves for Hanukkah and Christmas gifts, proving that REALLY affordable- read: cheap!- gifts, that are unique, fun, "green", and actually made by Real People, right HERE, still have some allure! :-D
On the Sweepstakes Front, the Sweeps Queen of Landgraff, WV won a couple of Real Goodies, including eye glasses (she Badly needs) from http://www.EyeBuyDirect.com, a fairly fabulous pearl necklace, beauty products, and two hog hunting holidays (!) in Texas...
But our love-dog, our Tiger, still hasn't come home, and both Dan & I are broken-hearted and not sleeping- for the last month. We've almost lost hope of ever getting him back, but I just Can't lose total hope. Tiger was my love-dog, my puppy, my all-time-best cuddle-dog, my "Mr. Lickey", and my laughter... and I just Can't bear to lose hope that by some miracle he'll come home safe...
In the last week, Lady & Bear-Puppy literally chewed through windows- twice- & took off, scaring both Dan & I to pieces. Dan literally had to rebuild a 1922 window as a result... Since they Never pulled this kind of thing before, I assume it's been desperate attempts by Lady to find Tiger- her Puppy-Hubby- but they came home safe, thank G-d. Wet, shivering-cold, & exhausted- but safe... last night, when we had guests at the Inn. tey literally banged into the side door to let us know they were home! Lady, Bear, & Kitty are now all cuddled up together in their big box, and all is well, but we miss our Tiger SO bad...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn (I mean winter...) is here...





















I love fall, don't get me wrong. It's REALLY pretty here in the so. WV mountains when the leaves turn, and they turn late here and usually hang around for quite awhile- it's still pretty here come Halloween. As you can see from the photos, two weeks ago Dan & I had a magical day, ATVing and having a picnic up above Miracle Mountain, seeing the leaves start to turn in the glorious summery sunshine... But I personally hate Cold, and we had our first frost the other night... Having "Weatherbug" chirping madly on my computer to let me know what was in store, Dan & I managed to pull in 6 Tabasco pepper plants totally Covered in tiny peppers, all the herbs, and one window-box full of flowering geraniums at The Last Minute, before everything else got whacked by frost. I am SO bummed, as the marigolds & geraniums were totally covered in flowers, & the roses still had buds! And now everything we couldn't drag inside has frozen :-( So for me, winter is now here- 6 months of it! :-P We have a fire in the fireplace every night now, and the aromatic oak smells glorious & makes the Inn all "cozy", but I'm now wearing Layers, and will be doing so until April, and as an Official Summer Girl, this doesn't thrill me to the core of my being!
The Good News is that for the first time in 7 years, Dan & I went to Yom Kippur services- at the Bluefield, WV Synagogue- and it was wonderful! Dan finally got to hear Kol Nidre done Right! I was literally in tears throughout the service- the familiar prayers and music opened up a great well of loneliness in me, I guess... It's been WAY too long since I was in shul! I got my lulav & Israeli etrog on eBay, and so was able to do Sukkot right- and right here at the Elkhorn Inn! :-D I got a lovely porcelain Havdallah set from Israel (made in China- LOL) on eBay, too, complete with the braided candle, cup, spice box, and tray, and since I can get Manischevitz Kosher wine for Kiddush @the Kimball, WV Walmart(!), I basically have everything I need to do Shabbat the way it's supposed to be done- even up here in the rural mountains! :-D

We've had lots of happy railfan at the Inn this past month, with more again tonight enjoying the trains, our scanner & new ATCS Monitor, and ATVing couples and Foodie Guests arriving tomorrow for Chef Dans Prime Rib, and our hand-crafted WV coal statues are flying out of the gift shop... and so everything is really great & we have been truly blessed... but we've evidently lost our wonderful Tiger-dog, and this has broken both our hearts. Tiger & Lady managed to run off about a month ago, and tho' Lady returned 2 days later, Tiger didn't. Dan's driven all around the mountain, day after day, but no one's seen him. Tiger was my "baby"; we raised him from when he turned up as a pitiful, emaciated puppy, and losing him was like losing a piece of me. :-( We posted "reward" posters all over the place, and got calls from someone who claimed to have our Tiger and then hung up on me. Dan and a police officer ransomed & rescued him, (he was badly hurt), but it wasn't Tiger. And so we now have Bear, a darling, lovey-kissy pit puppy, and he's healing up nicely. He and Lady and Lucky Kitty all sleep together nestled in a box, and he's full of puppy-kisses... But we miss our Tiger SO bad, & I haven't slept right for a month. We still pray that by some miracle he'll come home safe, and also that someone is loving on him like we are loving on Bear...
To try to cheer myself up one night when I couldn't sleep, I visited http://www.dartagnan.com, http://www.VeryAsia.com, http://www.igourmet.com, and http://www.ebay.com and went Gourmet Food Shopping to give Chef Dan something to do & his Foodie Wife something glorious to eat! The fruits of my midnight shopping spree have started to arrive (bless you, FedEx & UPS! What Would we do in these rural mountains without you???): Wild Boar Tenderloin, Buffalo Fillet Mignon medallions, duck & boar bacon, and lamb sausages from d'artagnan, and Korean, Japanese, & Vietnamese foodstuffs from VeryAsia... The igourmet Italian truffle cheese I adore & a batch of condiments are due to arrive tomorrow, & the Sushi ginger, panko bread crumbs, and black & golden sesame seeds, next week. (I'm about to get us the little Japanese plums- umeboshi?- & hopefully some Vietnamese pho rice noddles- tonight on eBay...) I ordered a batch of used books off http://www.amazon.com/, including one of Mai Pham's excellent Vietnamese cookbooks, and so I'm in the process of gathering all the bits & pieces we need to make Korean and Vietnamese dishes & "real" sushi & maki rolls, so the next time Dan brings home sushi fish or scallops from ab fab Food City in Bluefield we can make the "real McCoy"! Up 'til now we've always eaten it as sashimi- simple & utterly sexy-wonderful- but I thought it'd be fun to try to actually make maki rolls and such, and to do it w/the "right" kind of rice, nori, and condiments. Chef Dan will be doing his herb-rubbed smoked lamb chop racks for the Inn's Gourmet Guests this Sunday, and is planning to smoke some of the wild boar tenderloin, too...

While hunting for wild boar recipes on-line, I wound up on http://www.epicurious.com, and saw one of those keyword Google ad links for a "free wild boar hunt", and I HAD to check that out! Dan's an experienced big game hunter, but I'm a newbie; I've been Dreaming about "really" going hunting with him since we did a little pheasant hunting on Jeju island in Korea on our Honeymoon last year... and so we've both registered to win a free wild boar hunt in Texas on http://www.huntinghoghunting.com! I figure our chances are pretty good, since how many epicurious.com visitors would actually want to hunt their own boar? LOL

BTW, the Sweeps & Contest Queen of Landgraff, WV recently won a couple of great things: a pair of (sorely-needed) eyeglasses from Eye Buy Direct http://www.eyebuydirect.com via the great Born2Impress Blog http://kidzborn2impress.blogspot.com/ I follow; she always has great info, showcases great products, and hosts some Very cool contests! I haven't had a Real pair of glasses since I got contacts at the age of 16 (34 years ago! AAAUGH!), and so this is Truly a great win! Eye Buy Direct has some Very cute glasses, including ones with rhinestones which are Just My Thing! LOL You can even download a photo of yourself & virtually "try on" all their glasses, so you can see how they'll actually look! Without that option I'd be REALLY afraid to order glasses on-line, but I easily uploaded a face photo of myself, and tried on a mess of glasses, finding that the ones with the rhinestones I so admired will actually look good on me! :-D (And now I have to go get a prescription!)

I also won a fairly fabulous and elegant $75 freshwater pearl sterling silver necklace from http://www.MyJewelryBox.com via Steal The Style http://stealthestyle.com/, another great website and Blog I follow (and I follow them on Twitter, too @StealTheStyle). Remember my rule of thumb: only enter for things you REALLY want to win! :-)

I Didn't win the "Huge Lips Skinny Hips" contest from Purple Lab NYC http://www.purplelabnyc.com on Brickfish (http://www.brickfish.com/), and got Seriously bummed (LOL), but then I got back in the fashionista saddle and entered 4 more Brickfish contests, so yes, you can go on http://www.brickfish.com/ RIGHT NOW and vote for me (elisse) and help "Boomer Babe" win a Macy's shopping spree in NYC! (Even my 87 year-old mother is voting for me every day!) I am Determined to somehow win a makeover in NYC, so I can get back up there to see my eye doc (Dr. Farkas, who's been (along with his dad), my eye doc since 1975, saved my sight by catching both my detaching retinas in 1993 when I had NO symptoms, and is the ONLY eye doc I trust), wander about my old stomping grounds, and meet my BFFs & new Facebook friends at Marty O'Brien's on 2nd Ave., and take 'em all to Macanudo's for scotch and cigars! So PLEASE click, vote for me, & Share! :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Explore Modeling - Face of e.l.f. Casting: Elisse Goldstein-Clark

Yes, I'm at it again! PLEASE click and vote for me (link below) and help make me the +40 face of elf cosmetics for 2010! (Miracles can happen, right?!)

Explore Modeling - Face of e.l.f. Casting: Elisse Goldstein-Clark

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Homer Hickam at the Elkhorn Inn, 10/2/2009!

Tonight guests of the Elkhorn Inn who are staying with us to attend the "October Sky" Rocketboys festival in Coalwood tomorrow had a REAL treat as they were finishing up their Chef Dan dinner: in walked Homer & Linda Hickam! Homer signed books and chatted with everyone, and made it a Truly special evening for all of us!




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Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Magic Mountain day...

We had THE BEST DAY EVER today! Rode our ATVs up to Miracle Mountain, and then kept going... found a GORGEOUS place to have a Totally Private picnic lunch at the tip-top of a mountain, looking out across the mountains in the sparkling, summer sunshine... A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, roast beef sandwiches with tomato-basil tapenade, and thou! We truly found "our private West Virginia" and had THE most romantic, fun day I can imagine... the kind of "honeymoon holiday" day that makes you never want to live anywhere else...



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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Elkhorn Inn's new Contest & Sweeps- enter now!

Yes, the Sweepstakes Queen of Landgraff, WV has finally launched OUR sweeps- AND a great contest, too! We have some really great prizes from the Elkhorn Inn Gift Shop, & the Contest has a Grand Prize of a $320 gift certificate to the Elkhorn Inn Inn for a two-night stay with a Chef Dan Dinner at the Inn for two on one night! In order to enter the Sweepstakes, you have to be a "fan" of the Elkhorn Inn on Facebook, so the first thing you need to do is click
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eckman-WV/Elkhorn-Inn-Theatre/53453051478?ref=mf and become a fan! Just by being a "fan" of the Elkhorn Inn you're entered in the Sweeps, but you get an EXTRA entry for each new "fan" you get us- so get us lots of new fans to increase your chance of winning! The Contest is to find (and suitably reward) the most creative and enthusiastic "fan" of the Elkhorn Inn for the most successful marketing and promotion of the Inn using "social networking" and other media... You can read all the details for both the Contest and the Sweepstakes in the "Notes" on the Elkhorn Inn's Facebook fan page. Both the Sweepstakes and the Contest end Dec.1, 2009 at midnight EST, so you've got 2 1/2 months to build up your entries! The key is: you MUST LET US KNOW that you've sent us fans, or guests who've made reservations, or if you got us media coverage, or Tweeted or Facebooked or MySpaced or YouTubed about us- we have to know what you did in order for it to count! You can email us at elisse@elkhorninnwv.com, leave a message on our Facebook fan page, or "tweet" us @elkhorninn on www.Twitter.com.

The Best news this week was the article on the Elkhorn Inn in TRAINS magazine, and that another article on the Inn is coming out in the WV State Journal. The wonderful TRAINS article by Alan Byers has resulted in tons of calls & a number of bookings, and even a radio interview on the Tom & Judy & Dan Mid-Morning Show on WMST in Mt. Sterling, KY on Sept 1- Tom is a Big-Time Railfan! Click on: http://www.gatewayradio.net/grwcommon/audiofeeds/TJ/TJ-09-01-2009.ram (You will need RealPlayer, which is a free download), go to 1:31 (a bit after the 10a.m. news) and you'll hear the train music & then my interview with Tom! I talked about Alan Johnston, Stacy Grubb, & South 52 playing at our Theatre, trains, and other things! :-)

I also had a small (humorous) piece that I wrote about my dad published on The Sweet With The Bitter blog about caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's and memory loss: http://thesweetwiththebitteralzheimersblog.blogspot.com/ Those of you who think there couldn't Possibly be anything funny about dealing Alzheimer's should read it. (Those of who are dealing with or dealt with it Know what I'm talking about...) I sent Ms. Diederich a number of funny stories about things that happened during the years my father was losing his memory, and she used one in her latest post. Yes, these stories are all funny in a sad & bittersweet way, but they are funny nonetheless. Alzheimer's & memory loss are so deeply tragic and painful to live with, that if you don't find things to laugh about you'll go mad... I remember late nights playing Scrabble w/my mom & telling "Alzheimer's jokes" to each other until the tears literally ran down our faces from laughing so hard... What else can you do? :-)

It's September, & I'm trying to (sadly) make peace with the fact that summer is just about over, but this does Not make me happy. I am SICK & TIRED of having advertisements for fall & winter clothing rammed down my throat for the last 2 months, while it rained here & we waited for summer to magically & finally appear. Fortunately, the leaves here in the mountains of southern WV are still green, and the weather (finally) has been in the 80s, so I haven't packed away my summer togs just yet, but fall looms... I'd be Fine with fall if fall hung around long enough for me to really enjoy it, but fall is never long enough & segues all too rapidly into Winter, and we get about 6 months of Serious Winter here- & it's NOT my favorite season! I'm a "summer girl", through-and-through! Gimmee the dry, arid heat of the Israeli Dead Sea & Negev Desert any day!

Our garden did Not do great this year- too much rain perhaps- and the other day Dan harvested the last of the corn and a few more tomatoes; we ate the last of the corn tonight. The other night he made a Wonderful pepper/fennel-crusted pork loin with a wine-sage-cream sauce that was dee-vine! He got the idea from the CrazyCanukBlog that I follow- and you should, too (she's on Facebook, as well)- she has GREAT recipes! Last night Dan made his amazing crunchy-on-the-outside-tender-on-the-inside latkes- potato pancakes- and we had them with our sweet, summer garden corn & roast chicken...
At least we were able to freeze a lot of oregano pesto and tomato-basil sauce this summer, as well as some of the wild-blackberry sauce we made, so at least in the dead of winter we (and our guests ) will be able to taste a bit of summer...


















As you know, we've added a Cat to our Animal Family at the Inn: Tiger-the-Pit-Bull & Lady-the-Lab now have Lucky Kitty, the tiny, brave kitten that walked into the Inn like he owned it, & got to stay! Lucky, all 2 lbs. of fuzzy, purring adorableness, has another Sibyl-like side, and that side managed to kill & eat 5 birds last week before I realized where he was getting them from & Dan was able to plug the opening in the chimney & so save the rest of the nest... Finding Lucky in the midst of his, uh, "meal" was none too pleasant, and proved to me that cats really Are different from dogs... Even the tiniest of tender fur-balls has a rather terrifying "killer" instinct within it.... (L is the first cat in my life...) When I called & called him & no cat appeared I got scared- something must have happened to poor, defenseless little Lucky! And then his tiny head popped out of the high chimney opening, with an almost-dead bird in his mouth, & I nearly had a fit. (Having him later mew twice & then puke bird down my computer printer & across desk didn't thrill me, either...) But little Lucky provides hours of amusement for Tiger, who has become "Kitty Daddy", and licks the kitten like a mommy cat would; Lucky whacks at T with his paw and bites him, & chews on Lady's tail- basically doing whatever he can to try and get a rise out of both dogs- but both T & L are so amazingly gentle w/him that it gladdens the heart to watch them play... Lucky's taken to sitting on my shoulder while I work at the computer, and to sleeping on my printer; when he wants attention he simply walks across the telephone, credit card machine, & my keyboard...

Fall brings with it the Jewish High Holidays, and that's my one bright spot. I'm planning a trip to Hair Studio, my fave Aveda Salon in Princeton, WV, & a suitably festive mani-pedi @ the Mercer Mall... & I've gone eBaying for holiday things: a lulav & an etrog, a Havdallah set for Shabbat, & Hanukkah candles for our many menorot, among other things... & then, of course, there are the irresistible "bargains" I stumble across late in the night in the process of looking for "needed" things, such as outrageous Vivienne Westwood shoes with hearts on them, or really expensive cosmetics and anti-aging potions at bargain-basement prices... As I've said before, out here in the 'boonies' eBay is a quasi-shopaholic's dream-store! I follow a gazillion things on eBay daily, sometimes for months at a time: everything from outrageously high-heeled Louboutin shoes (size 38 in case anyone's looking to gift me...) to Obagi Eye Cream, WV mining & railroad memorabilia, ATV supplies, and giant, inflatable outdoor decorations...
Last week I scored Dan a gorgeous new sheepskin coat (his Hanukkah present- don't tell!) for $100, & myself a full-face helmet for ATVing (dust in my eyes while riding drives me & my contact lenses NUTS) for 99 cents! And while I have eBay, feel not sad for Dan, for he has his fave thrift shops, and the other day he came home from Catholic Charities w/yet another one of his amazing deals: a brand-spanking-new 8-bottle wine cooler for the bar room that we hope to some day finish... We've been working on it sporadically now for 7 years, and it'sa bout 3/4 done, and I have high hopes that we both might live to see it open & operating... Anyone wanna help? You help, you get dibs on having that First Official Drink at the Elkhorn Inn Bar!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Empowered...

Nothing quite so empowers one as hitting a fairly small target at a decent distance with a 20 gauge shotgun. :-)
The other night, whilst I was Facebooking & Twittering away at the computer, adding such pithy 140-character-or-less bon mots as "Train Tweets: The Pocahontas RR is chugging past the http://www.elkhorninnwv.com! #railfans #trains" to the tweeting universe (and patently oblivious to the rest of it), Dan went out back and shotgunned a copperhead snake that was freaking out the dogs.
Totally immersed in the computer, I heard not the dogs freaking out, nor the Boom of the shotgun- Nada. This was Not a good thing. Plus, I later wondered, what if I had? This was not the first time we'd had the dogs freaked out by a snake, but it Was the first time the dogs were freaked out by a Poisonous snake, and the possibility of it happening again at some point is a good one, so Boo-Boo better better be able to Deal, as they say...
And so yesterday I went out back w/Dan & "Li'l Betsy", our antique gift shotgun from NY friends who inherited it, and picked out a couple of targets in the creek (the shadow in front of a piece of drift wood, a sunlit spot on the water) and successfully blasted 'em. Boom! Reload! Boom! Reload! Boom! Reload! Woo-hoo! It is SO nice to be able to step out back of one's home and blast away at things in the peaceful quiet of one's own backyard, with no neighbors to p-o...
Li'l Betsy has a bit of a kick to her, but today my shoulder is neither black nor blue, and I now feel Quite empowered & Much more capable- of taking out a poisonous snake, among other things! :-D
We've had a number of guests at the Inn over the last few weeks, including many Railfans, which has been a lot of fun. Our littlest railfan guest this week (age 6) was enchanted with the inn & all the trains, especially as the Pocahontas' RR engineer's "tooted" him on the RR horn! We've had several guests book the Inn's "Ultimate Railfan" package, too, which includes two nights at the Inn, a Chef Dan Dinner at the Inn, and a signed copy of one of James Porterfield's books- either "From the Dining Car" or "Dining by Rail" www.jamesdporterfield.com. The best news this week is that we've just learned the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre is featured in the October issue of TRAINS Magazine, as well as in the Sept. issue of the WV State Journal! TRAINS Magazine www.trains.com is an especially big deal for us, as railfan guests truly are the backbone of our business; Trains and Railfan & Railroad www.railfan.com are THE magazines most of our guests read, and for the Elkhorn Inn to have been featured now in both publications is a great thing for us and McDowell County.
We have several upcoming festivals in our area, too, so we've been getting ready for our guests who'll be coming to enjoy them:
Sat. Sept 5th (Labor Day Weekend) there's an "ATV pig roast" and live band up on the mountain, and Dan & I are planning to ride our ATV's up and enjoy that- hopefully with our guests! Sat. Oct. 3 is the October Sky - Rocket Boys Festival in Coalwood with Homer Hickam & the Rocket Boys of book & movie fame, and
Sat. Oct 10 is Oktoberfest in Bramwell, with live music and a microbrewery beer sampling... and the "leaf-peeping" should be Gorgeous all the way through Halloween!
Dan & I Finally got to do a bit of ATVing this week, riding all over the mountain for 6 hours, nice-and-easy, and found a "secret" valley where we had a fun picnic. It was a Gorgeous day, mostly sunny and in the 70s, and everything is still that wonderful deep, summer green... I will NOT LET SUMMER GO! I do not want to hear ONE thing about fall, sweaters, leaf-peeping, holiday gifts, "rich & hearty warming stews", or ANYTHING that even IMPLIES that summer is over! We get 8 $%&*!!$! months of winter here every year and I want to drag summer out as long as I possibly can! We harvested a whole Mess of oregano last week and made several quarts of REALLY good oregano pesto, and we've been harvesting tomatoes, as well, and so cooking up lots of tomato-basil sauce. Like the wild-blackberry sauces & salsas we make, I like to freeze them so we can have a "taste of summer" when we badly need it in the winter! Chef Dan treated me this week to a couple of glorious "foodie" meals: seared sushi tuna one night, accompanied by a truly fine saki our friend Cindy gave us, and the next night tiny scallops sauteed in garlic and oil with almonds over pasta with a Maycas del Limari 2006 Chardonnay from http://www.wine.com/ that Dan got from the "puppies" on DogFather's Day! As you can see, it is almost Impossible to diet in this house, but I have managed, over the last 6 months, to actually lose some weight- the proof was getting boots zipped all the way up that wouldn't even Begin to close back in May... The only "trick" I can attribute this to was writing down Everything I put in my mouth (and its calorie count) for over a month, which made me Think about what I was consuming- and cut it down. And I Do try to drink 5 cups of green tea a day, as this truly does help me lose weight more rapidly...
As readers of this blog know, for the past several weeks I was like, you know, Totally Obsessed with the http://www.purplelabnyc.com/ "Huge Lips Skinny Hips" contest on http://www.brickfish.com/, and whined, wheedled, plead, & otherwise drove all my friends nuts begging them (you) to vote for my entry. Well, the contest ended the other day, and as I have not yet received The Phone Call, I gather I didn't win the fabulous fashionista trip to NYC... Such is life! It was fun, and actually quite a learning experience, vis a vis the promotional usages of "Social Networking" and "Social Marketing" to create "buzz"... I now have another 5 entries on Brickfish (!), and I will add links to my entries on this blog, but I will not (for the moment, anyway) drive y'all crazy with them...


As I write this, Lucky Kitty- the most appropriately named kitten in the world- is asleep on top of my computer printer. Lucky has become, obviously, a House Cat, with all that this implies: he now has a litter box, a cat collar with a tiny bell (that's still too large, & which he pulls off), and store-bought kitten food, it's spoiled rotten already, & is about to get a Scratching Post with the $10 gift certificate to Petco that The Sweeps Queen won on www.GoPetFriendly.com (a great site about traveling with ones pets), before he even Thinks about damaging any furniture. Lucky has spent his first week @the Elkhorn Inn tweaking the Tiger- literally.
One Incredibly Self-Assured Kitten from the minute he strode into the bldg. like he owned it, L has taken to perching on the the back of my office chair & whacking at Tiger-the-Pit-Bull's nose with his paw, while T attempts to lick it like a Mommy Cat! Watching the two big dogs play with the tiny kitten and chase each other around (practically bouncing off the walls of my office...) is pretty funny and incredibly sweet... At night Tiger, Lady, & Lucky all curl up in the big dog box, and T even lets kitten drink from his water dish! They are now a Complete Animal Family: Mommy Lab, Daddy Pittie, & Baby Kittie! And that is IT! The Elkhorn Inn Animal Farm is CLOSED! Note to all strays: It's over! Finito! We're officially Full! Chiuso! No room at the Inn! Go away!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We Live in the &%$!*&%$! Country...

There are moments, however Grand it is out here in this green & beautiful place, when Living in The Country makes you want to slam you head into a wall until you pass out.
And this was one of those weeks. As readers of this blog know, the FIRST post on this blog was
a photo story about how McDowell County PSD screwed our county out of water for 28 days in the dead of winter. Well, kids, they did it again. As all is well now and we have our water back, and happy guests at the Inn, I will now post an (almost) unabridged diary entry from August 15, 2009:

10a.m.: Day 8 of no water, thanks (again) to the McDowell County PSD. We lost $680 in business this weekend, & I am about to pull my hair out by the roots. ONE of our elected officials finally turned up- Cliff Moore- and he seems to care, but he's basically 5 days late & a dollar short. He turned up just as the Roving Rabbis from Chabad Lubavitch pulled into our driveway. And thank G-d the Roving Rabbis came- I needed their visit very badly. (Tweet them @rovingrabbis).
Yesterday- after 6 days w/out water- the McDowell County PSD finally delivered their promised 250 water tank (which we truly believed would Never happen), but no fittings & no pump (& no water either- their promised water truck Never arrived), so it was useless- a giant "redneck joke" sitting in our parking lot. Dan then drove back & forth from the mountain spring on Route 52 & filled our hot tub w/Another 200 gallons of water (having used up the first tub full to make the water run for weekend guests...), & then we stayed up until 5 am trying to work out how to get that water up to the 2nd floor; our sump pump wasn’t strong enough. Dan eventually wound up carrying over 60 gallons of water up 3 flights of stairs in 5-gallon bucket increments, after first carrying the 45 gallon drum up 3 flights, while I walked behind him with my hand in the small of his back. I couldn't even Lift one of the buckets. He then pumped that water into the system and made the showers run and the toilets flush. I am TRULY married to McGuyver.
The next day, Moore finally got us the only pump available in the Region, but it was too small, too- even when attached to our sump pump- to pressurize the building, so last night Dan Again bucketed over 60 gallons of water up 3 flights of stairs- one 5 gal bucket at a time- to make the showers run & the toilets flush.
NOW McDowell County PSD says we will supposedly have water back by 8p.m.; I'll believe it when I see it flowing. I’ll give Moore credit for actually following up & calling us for “status updates”- it’s more than anyone Else in WV has done. For the last 8 days I’ve been “Tweeting” my 500+ followers; I even Facebooked about it. Our losses from the last 2 years of the PSD's "no water" issues- 28 days, 4 days, 2 days, etc., and now 8 days with no end in sight- are now in the thousands of dollars, & the damage it does to McDowell Co. & WV tourism immeasurable.
The "irony" is that this is NOT normal; when Kimball Water had control of our water for the first 5 years of our lives here we had basically no problems. McDowell County PSD raised our rates 300%, & then screwed us- and everyone else in this area- out of water, for days and sometimes weeks at a time.
We are literally Living a giant Jeff Foxworthy redneck joke that is an utter humiliation to WV Tourism and the State of WV.
I’ve made a number of calls to the Charleston, WV PSC (Pubic Service Commission), & it’s literally like pissing into the wind; the nastiness I get slapped with is like urine. I asked Mr. Bocker, the latest "official" I've dealt with: "what are you doing to get water back to this area?" & his Immediate reply was "actually, nothing". At which point I hung up. He had just spent 10 minutes trying to figure out where we were, with NO CLUE about ANYTHING relative to this area or situation. “Shara” at the PSC told me "if you go to Governor Manchin, he'll just send it back to us and I'll tell you the same thing I'm telling you now". Then she called (3 days ago) to leave a message on out answering machine (which I saved), stating that our water would be restored by 8p.m.! While we have the Only business in this area- a nationally & internationally-recognized hospitality business- there is ALSO an entire Community of residents in Kimball, Landgraff, and Eckman, WV, who’ve gone w/out water for 8 days again, too- families with children!- & NO ONE in this state gives a Hoot about them, either. I like to think my Tweeting & Facebooking has helped to get the "Rural Water Commission" people and Charleston poo-bahs down here, & to at least get the McDowell Co. PSD Working on the water lines, but who really knows? I DO know that if we stay silent we can probably forget about having properly running water Ever In Life. As usual, the McDowell Co PSD blamed it all on someone else: this time it's 'a coal company'; they have NEVER taken responsibility for ANY of their water outages. But then Ms. Shara at the Charleston PSC slipped up & told me it was NOT the fault of a coal company... Oops.
Meanwhile, I'm taking reservations hand-over-fist, & so am literally Praying for water restoration: Ultimate Railfan packages, other railfan guests, October Sky/Rocketboys Weekend bookings, Bramwell Oktoberfest bookings, ATV families & couples, Labor Day Weekend & “Romance” packages...
Dan has gone to P’ton to get the bolt he needs for his ATV so maybe we can at least go riding again...
9:03pm: The good news is that the water went on at 5:30p.m. on Day 8. And that the water pressure is excellent.

And now for the Really important stuff: I am up to #40 in the “Huge Lips Skinny Hips” PurpleLabNYC Brickfish contest!
If all our friends from Facebook, Twitter, our website, and this
blog vote for me ever day (and there's only about 10 days left), I may actually have a chance of winning! So Please vote & "share" it with your friends! I'm getting on my entry, too- makes me feel a Whole lot better about turning 50! One of the things I want to prove is that us old "Boomers" know a thing or two about "Social Networking"! The other thing I NEED to prove is that we're still "hot" enough to go 'viral" AND win a beauty/fashion contest!
And while I'm 'personified' by "Red Sole", all of PurpleLab's lipglosses have great
names: Kitty Pole Dancer, Love mY Thighs... check it out! (My entry os on the right, & you can click on that to vote).
And “Lucky”, the black kitten that turned up on our door, waltzed in and Took Over the Elkhorn Inn, is being Loved On by both Tiger (pit bull) & Lady (lab); the two of them are literally fighting over who gets to be "Kitty Mommy"- which is a Royal pain in the neck but pretty hilarious, all the same! Lucky- named such for Obvious reasons- is So overly affectionate & Incredibly Ingratiating that we should have named her “L'il Suckup” or “Baby Brown Nose”! She is curled up behind me in my chair as I write this, & has NO fear: she allows me to hog-tie her, cuddle her like a baby on her back in my arms, dangle her upside down by her feet, etc., & gives both Dan & I a Stupid amount of tiny, raspy “kitty kisses”- all in an almost “dog-like” way…
I am Not a “cat person”- never have been- but this was Way to much affection for for either Dan or I to stand… & so now we Have to come up w/vet $ for shots & such. Watching Tiger gently play with her, lick her like a Mommy Kitty, & slowly ‘chase’ her ‘round the room was a hoot… so I guess “Lucky” gets to stay… Hopefully as an Outdoor ‘mouser’ cat… But I have a sneaking suspicion we will wake up w/her on our head all too soon… @least she's endeavoring to eat dog food! LOL
We went ATVing yesterday, riding up on the mountain in the nice, hot summer sunshine;
we stopped for french fries, found our "secret" waterfall, and had a good afternoon...
And now for a Bath- in one of the Elkhorn Inn's lusciously deep, antique, claw-foot bathtubs...