Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Donner Party For Western Wednesday...!

Hopefully none of us will ever have to undergo the trials and hardships suffered by the Donner party in their effort to reach California. Just shows how adventurous some folks can be, I reckon

Donner Party rescued from the Sierra Nevada Mountains

In the summer of 1846, in the midst of a Western-bound fever sweeping the United States, 89 people–including 31 members of the Donner and Reed families–set out in a wagon train from Springfield, Illinois. After arriving at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, the emigrants decided to avoid the usual route and try a new trail recently blazed by California promoter Lansford Hastings, the so-called “Hastings Cutoff.” After electing George Donner as their captain, the party departed Fort Bridger in mid-July. The shortcut was nothing of the sort: It set the Donner Party back nearly three weeks and cost them much-needed supplies. After suffering great hardships in the Wasatch Mountains, the Great Salt Lake Desert and along the Humboldt River, they finally reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains in early October. Despite the lateness of the season, the emigrants continued to press on, and on October 28 they camped at Truckee Lake, located in the high mountains 21 kilometers northwest of Lake Tahoe. Overnight, an early winter storm blanketed the ground with snow, blocking the mountain pass and trapping the Donner Party.

Most of the group stayed near the lake–now known as Donner Lake–while the Donner family and others made camp six miles away at Alder Creek. Building makeshift tents out of their wagons and killing their oxen for food, they hoped for a thaw that never came. Fifteen of the stronger emigrants, later known as the Forlorn Hope, set out west on snowshoes for Sutter’s Fort near San Francisco on December 16. Three weeks later, after harsh weather and lack of supplies killed several of the expedition and forced the others to resort to cannibalism, seven survivors reached a Native American village.

News of the stranded Donner Party traveled fast to Sutter’s Fort, and a rescue party set out on January 31. Arriving at Donner Lake 20 days later, they found the camp completely snowbound and the surviving emigrants delirious with relief at their arrival. Rescuers fed the starving group as well as they could and then began evacuating them. Three more rescue parties arrived to help, but the return to Sutter’s Fort proved equally harrowing, and the last survivors didn’t reach safety until late April. Of the 89 original members of the Donner Party, only 45 reached California.

I can only imagine the joy felt when the rescue party showed up! Not something that I would ever want to experience first hand...the despair, not the rescue.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Peach cobbler if anyone wants a taste.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

No Post Today...!

Sorry, but I need to take a rest. I'm not feeling very well as of late, so I'm taking the day off. Sorry about that!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Orb Spiders On Monday Mysteries...!

Not many critters in all of nature's collection are as mysterious as spiders. The very idea of spiders can cause many of us to get chills down the spine and shudder at the very thought of this scary creature. No matter what we feel about the spider, some things about them are very mysterious, as shown in this article from Listverse.

Orb Spiders Of Madagascar

The orb spiders of Madagascar are known for their unique ability to create gigantic webs. Their webs are so massive that they can wrap around a Volkswagen Beetle. Despite this, orb spiders are smaller than the thumb of an average adult.

There are two reasons why the orb spiders of Madagascar are extraordinary. First, their silk is stronger than that of other species. Second, they build their webs over running water like streams and rivers, which is something that baffles scientists. There are several theories but no conclusive data as to how they are able to do this.

In addition, scientists are perplexed as to why orb spiders build such massive webs. Does this mean that their prey is also gigantic in size?

I would like to know why they build such massive webs as well, but I'll just wait for the guys that study that sort of thing to let us know..'cause I certainly ain't gonna get that close to one of those ugly things.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, if that's alright.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Another Item Having "Supernatural" Powers...!

Yesterday's post was about a mummified hand, and today we cover the item known as the "Witches Ladder". I had no idea that our ancestors were such a gullible bunch! Here from Listverse is the story about this strange piece of string.

The Witch’s Ladder

Photo credit: England: The Other Witin

In 1911, the widow of a famous anthropologist donated items found in an attic to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The objects included four brooms and a piece of string. The string was around 1.5 meters (5 ft) long, with a loop at one end. Feathers had been poked into the string along its length.

This was the only known example of a genuine witch’s ladder. The ladder was said to have belonged to an old woman, and thus a suspected witch, and was thought to be used for “getting away,” or stealing, the milk from her neighbor’s cows.

Unfortunately, nothing is known about how this worked, and though there is still speculation about the purpose of the ladder, aspiring witches today will probably find a trip to the supermarket a bit easier.

Folks had some strange ideas back then, but I reckon that years from now we will have people saying the same about us.

Coffee out on the patio again today!

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Very Spooky Hand...!

According to those that believe in such things, this mummified hand is good for many uses. From the folks at Listverse, there is even a recipe for making your own version.

The Hand Of Glory

Photo credit:

Whitby Museum in Yorkshire, England, holds the mummified remains of a human hand, known as a Hand of Glory. The Whitby Hand was discovered in the early 20th century hidden inside the wall of an ancient thatched cottage, and it is thought to be the last example in existence.

Supposedly formed from the pickled right hand of a convicted criminal, cut from the gallows while the body was still fresh, the Hand of Glory can be used as a candle by burglars, with the fingers being dipped in special wax and set alight. If a finger refused to catch fire, it meant that someone in the household was awake. The light cannot be extinguished by water or pinching but only by being doused in blood or blue milk. And where are you going to find blue milk?

The hand was not only a perpetual source of light, but it was also cheaper than paying a lookout, which could be useful.

If you fancy making your own Hand of Glory, and you have the right arm of a recently executed felon at hand, you will need to wrap the hand in a winding sheet, squeeze out the blood, and put it in a clay pot, adding saltpeter, salt, and pepper (for flavor, presumably). Leave it for two weeks, and then expose it to the sun “in the dog-days.” If you are not experiencing dog-days, you could dry it in an oven lined with ferns. Next (and this bit might be tricky), you need to make the candle wax from the fat of a hanged man, virgin wax (not from an actual virgin), and Lapland sesame (an oil from a plant now extinct).

Oh well. You could always use a torch.

I really don't care what you call it, I don't want that thing anywhere close to me, thank you very much! I will simply use a flashlight instead.

Coffee out on the patio again today, where we can catch a little sunshine.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

This Cocktail Has WHAT...???

At times we can come up with some very strange names for alcoholic drinks, but I reckon that is the nature of the beast. However, one of the strangest has to be from the Yukon according to the folks over at Listverse.

Human Toe Cocktail

Photo credit: The Guardian

Bars are known for alcoholic creativity. However, one cocktail is hard to beat. To order the sourtoe cocktail, one must travel to Yukon territory in Canada. The next step is to find the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City.

Ask for this particular drink, and the bartender fills a tumbler with spirit (often whiskey). The final ingredient—a mummified human toe—is then plonked inside.

The drink comes with one rule. Your lips must touch the toe. When that happens, the saloon hands over a certificate. So far, over 100,000 people have earned their certificates.

The drink’s history is just as weird. It was born in 1973 after an entrepreneur found the frostbitten toe of a rum smuggler. The digit had been kept in the smuggler’s shack since the 1920s and was around 50 years old upon discovery.

The entrepreneur started the drink as a way in which people could prove themselves as worthy Yukoners. The original toe was swallowed in 1980, but several frostbitten toes have taken its place since.

This is one of those things you might have to be drunk already before trying, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Better Hold That Baby More...!

Ever wonder if you are holding a baby too much? According to this study, the more we handle a baby the better it is for them.

Holding a baby can change its DNA. Studies show children who have low physical contact as infants end up with DNA cells that are less mature than usual, which can result in delayed growth and development. This means the effects of denying physical affection to babies aren’t just behavioral- they’re genetic.

Interesting, don't you think?

Coffee out on the patio for a change this morning!