Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trying Mederma

 So, does Mederma work? That was a question I've had since I first began seeing the ads. A "scar cream"? It sounded like a bit of a stretch to me. But I had no scars (that I'll tell you about ... and that one isn't new anyway).

 But come last October, I was shaving (with a safety razor) between my eyebrows and later felt as though I had abraded the skin. Innocent enough stuff. What guy doesn't get nicks, cuts and razor burns? I didn't think anything of it until it got progressively worse. Soon enough the skin was raw and oozing and my nose and eyes were swollen. Clearly this had developed into a serious infection.

October 13 (2016)

 Before you get too grossed out, that's the worst you'll see. If I could stand that hot spot on my face, you can handle a glance.

 So, to the doctor I went. The nurse practitioner prescribed an oral antibiotic but no topical cream/ I began taking it as once and soon, within a couple of days, the redness began to fade. Trouble was, the infection certainly chewed quite a pit into the skin and left a fairly deep pock mark.

 That's when I thought of Mederma. I ordered a small tube (0.70 ounces) which I figured would not be enough to go very far. But when I stopped applying it three time per day (7 am, 2 pm, 9 pm) I still had at least a third of the tube left. Of course this was a small scar.

 Thus begun a seven month experiment with the scar cream ...

November 20 

December 20 

January 20 (2017) 

February 20 

March 20 

April 20 

May 20

 OK, if you haven't been creeped out yet, here's some information that might be valuable to you if you have a scar you like to get rid of. First, I didn't find that the scar cream 100% effective in removing the scar. It's still clearly visible and I was very careful about following a strict schedule of applying it. But I have no doubt that the scar is reduced in visibility.

 Without a control, there's really no way of knowing how an untreated scar would look after seven months. Maybe the same? Had I had two scars between my eyes - one on the left, one of the right - and treated only one, this would have been a fair test.

 But I'm reasonably happy with the results, whether the credit goes mainly to my body's healing ability or to Mederma. If I remember, I'll stop back at some time in the future and let you see whether the mark continues to fade.

Friday, May 5, 2017


 When I was a young child and Dad and I visited my Aunt Belle in Miamisburg, I'd often ask him to get out "The Shocker". It was actually a quack medical device purchased by my Uncle George who had died a few years earlier in 1947.

 The Electreat was fired up by pulling a slide down and gently tapping the device. An internal vibrator (presumably designed to convert the two D cell batteries DC current to AC) would start and the unit would begun buzzing menacingly. Both my Dad and my aunt could handle it without being bothered by the shock but I would always recoil in horror.

 I'd touch it (you had to hold the metal case in one hand and then touch the roller on the top to complete the circuit and get a shock) but that was about as far as I'd go. Once we three held hands and had the current pass through all of our bodies. As "safe" as the device is supposed to be, it reminded me of sticking my finger into a light socket.

 As you can see, the device was patented (by Charles Willie Kent) in 1919. My guess is that my uncle bought it in the 1920's.

 What brought this up was an article I just read ("Harnessing Ethereal Fire") in the Jan/Feb issue of Early American Life. Mom and I both read the story and we both thought of Uncle George's Electreat. "Where is that thing?" I asked Mom. She said she thought it was in her bedroom. We found it lying (dusty) on the top shelf of her bookcase.

 "For nearly two millennia medical practitioners have used electricity to treat patients, often little bothered by not knowing how, why or if it worked," states the article.

 I see these for sale on eBay for very little so the few that still have them seem even happier to get rid of them. For me, it's a connection to my uncle and my own childhood. But it isn't something I'm ever going to use.

 For those interested, here's the entire manual, scanned a page at a time. Click on any page for a higher-resolution version that's easier to read. And smile along with me ...

 Shocking, isn't it?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tom the Tiller

 I've had enough back and hip problems this year that getting the garden ready for planting season produced a bit of worry for me. I've already worked about a third of the soil by hand, turning it over with a shovel and planting white onions, lettuce and radishes.

 But the large expanse left to till was a concern.

 Enter Bob who offered the use of his tiller. Enter Tom who offered to do the tilling.

 All the orange flags in the foreground indicate where I've already planted. Most of the garden has been untouched but for manure which Jarred applied early in the spring. The clods of straw had to be broken up and incorporated with the soil.

 Tom said he found the little tiller fun to use. It's a small machine, probably better suited for flower beds (as is the way Bob uses it) but Tom worked slowly and went over every inch of the garden twice, again at right angles to the first pass.

 The day was nearly perfect. We had a record high of 82°. The only problem was the wind, gusting between 25 and 32 miles per hour.

 I suppose the time needed to till the garden was well less than an hour. The soil was dry and crumbled easily. I bought six tomato stakes at Home Depot earlier in the day and I'll buy tomato plants in a couple of weeks. Mom wants a Brandywine. I want at least one Roma. Then the garden will be finished.

 Here's a close-up of Bob's tiller. It's a Craftsman 4-Cycle Mini Tiller. The thing used so little gas that I filled it from a small measuring cup.

 So the growing season begins anew at Pinehaven.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stormy Weather

Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather

- "Stormy Weather" - Billie Holiday (1952)

 By mid-afternoon yesterday (04/05) the NWS had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch (till 9 pm). I watched radar as storms began to form in northern Kentucky and glide northeast. By 4:30 pm we could hear thunder approaching.

 The storms came mostly in two rounds: 4:45 pm and 6 pm. The first round dropped hail, mostly pea-sized with a few stones to half an inch. It was the lighter amount of hail, though.

 Our back porch was peppered with hail, mostly small stuff. It sure make a racket on the roof and the windows, though.

 Here's a close-up of the top of that chair. I got out a yardstick and measured a number of stones that were a full half inch across.

 After the latter storm, the ground was covered with hail. Our garden looked like it had snowed.

 While the rain was falling in a deluge, the hail floated atop the water on our back porch and seemed to move in waves.The ground seemed alive with movement.

 I watched as small hail gathered into drifts and move atop swells that must have been what one would see from a ship at sea during a storm. Over an inch of rain fell in about a thirty minute period.

 When the rain slowed I stepped outside and found this washed up against the base of our house.

 Here's a close-up of the hail outside our back door. Small sticks were knocked down by the wind. I'll have to clean them up in the days ahead. We lost one small limb from the south maple. A friend told me a tree fell on Fuls Road, taking out his power. Bob said trees were down on Puddenbag, too ... near his house in western German Twp.

 Wright Patterson Air Force Base issued a tornado watch for a while. I saw turbulence tear clouds apart but I never saw anything tornadic. Those were exciting storms, though.

 Care to see the raw video? OK, my hands shake (I have a benign essential tremor), the wind was blowing and lightning was striking nearby. Give me a break ...


 This video was facing WSW from my garden area.


And this video was facing nearly south.

 Yeah, that was close enough! Time to go inside!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


 My first memory of Snickerdoodles was at my grandmother's house when I was a little boy. The recipe must have been new at that time and she was proud of how they turned out. Bob and I loved them. So when we ran out of cookies, I decided to try a batch.

 I remember watching Martha Stewart make them on her PBS program so I searched for that recipe. You can find it here.

 I almost always "speed up" recipes and this one is no exception. I melted a stick of butter in the microwave, then added the sugar and eggs. Once that was well mixed, I added every other ingredient except for the flour. That always comes last ... only after the liquid is thoroughly mixed.

 I dropped ice cream scoopfuls of batter into the mixture of sugar and cinnamon which I had placed in a small plastic container (bottom left). I just shook it around until the ball of dough was coated and then lifted them out with a teaspoon and placed them on the baking sheet.

 I baked nine at a time since they spread a bit and I didn't want them sticking together..

 I made much larger cookies than Martha's recipe calls for. She expected four dozen; I got just 25. I added a minute to the bake time (11 instead of 10) and found that just right.

 This is a nice, not-too-sweet cookie that brings back memories of my childhood in the 1950's.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Paul Laurence Dunbar House

"I know why the caged birds sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,-
When he beats his bars and he would be free;

- Paul Laurence Dunbar (Sympathy)

 Tom and I recently visited the Paul Laurence Dunbar house in Dayton. Being an English major, I can't imagine never having been there before, especially since I live a mere 13 miles away. I am always interested in writers; Tom, it turns out, is deeply interested in old houses.

Paul Laurence Dunbar house
219 N Paul Laurence Dunbar Street
Dayton OH 45402 

 The Dunbar house is an Ohio Historic Site
A rear view of the house shows two small "attic" windows

The Living Room 

A Sitting Room (I believe) 

The Dining Room 

The house has gas lighting (see above left).

The Kitchen 

Water pipes are affixed to the interior of the walls. I suppose the house was fitted for public water after it had been built.

Another view of the kitchen 

A water tank stored hot water.

The enclosed back porch area (facing house wall) 

Another view of the enclosed back porch; "outside" wall 

The Dunbar's second floor bathroom 

The wall paper is a reproduction of the original wallpaper, still visible in one of the cabinets.

PLD's actual toothbrush 

Dunbar's mother's bedroom 

PLD bought this house for his mother, Matilda. She continued to live in the house for 28 years after his death. His father, Joshua, died in 1885.

Another view of Dunbar's mother's bedroom 

A third view of Dunbar's mother's bedroom 

Paul Laurence Dunbar's bedroom 

Dunbar's bedroom is on the second floor, near the southeast corner. Dunbar lived here from 1904 until his death two years later.

Actual typewriter used by PLD 

PLD's chamber pot sits beside his bed 

Just outside PDL's bedroom are the steps between floors 

A small room at the front of the house (second floor) 

Memorial of Paul Laurence Dunbar's death on February 9, 1906

References (click):
Aviation Heritage
Dayton History
Ohio History