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Monday, August 31, 2009


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! #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" 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 is an especially big deal for us, as railfan guests truly are the backbone of our business; Trains and Railfan & Railroad 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 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 "Huge Lips Skinny Hips" contest on, 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 (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...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Huge Lips, Skinny Hips... & other obsessions...

Okay... By now you (and all our friends on Facebook & Twitter) know that I'm Obsessed with winning the "Huge Lips/Skinny Hips" contest from & taking my hubby on that fabulous "fashionista" trip to NYC. I'm 'obsessed' because I think it's actually possible, and because it'd be fun to prove that a Normal woman over 50 (read: Not Madonna) is actually "hot" enough to personify a lip gloss, And "hot" enough to 'go viral'- and knows a thing or two about the power of Social Networking!
These photos were taken July 4th, and while I'm certainly no sylph (yet), at least I've managed to diet my way into the spangly Bob Mackie number I'd eBayed myself several months ago. Having "grown" into a size 8, that's what I bought, but it turned out to be a Very Small 8, and wouldn't even Begin to zip up... I hung it in the closet & persevered with my Gentle Diet (5 cups of green tea a day when possible, charting Everything I eat/drink, and trying, also when possible, to keep under 1000 calories a day), and finally tried it back on the afternoon of July4th... and -Wowee!- it zipped!
All I've lost so far is a big , fat 10 lbs, but when you're 4'10" tall, that's one entire clothing size! The photo on the left also shows that at 50 I can still hop up & down on one foot in 5" spike (red) heels, which, of course, makes me the total personification of "Red Sole" lip gloss!
As I write this, I am at #66 in the "Huge Lips/Skinny Hips" contest, so "Viral" is clearly working!!! But I still only have 34 votes, and am still only "warm", so I NEEEEED YOUR HELP! Please click the link to the right & vote (once) for me, & then "share" it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, via email, etc. If you can, please write a "comment" on the entry, too! The more times you share it (I post it on Facebook & Twitter once a day) the better...

Re: Madonna, on my 50th birthday, back in April, a good friend emailed me 6 un-retouched photos of Madonna from a recent photo shoot. This was Absolutely THE best birthday present I received! I IMMEDIATELY felt ABSOLUTELY GREAT about myself and the way I look! :-D

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Please take 10 seconds to click & vote!

This is a plea: PLEASE take 10 seconds to click on this link & vote for me- Ms. "Red Sole"- in Purple Lab's Huge Lips-Skinny Hips Contest:
I am Ranked at Number 83 as I write this, & with your help (please Tweet it from the rooftops, Facebook, MySpace, & email the Dickens out of it, too!) maybe I can win that fabulous "fashionista" trip to NYC! Most importantly: my winning will help shatter the myth that people over 50 don't have a Clue about "viral marketing", "social networking", and other such things!
(There's a link on the right side of the blog to my entry, as well).