Halloween! Halloween! Squee!

If there were any holiday Jamie and I celebrate, it’s Halloween. It’s a great holiday and we have fun.

This year, we’re not dressing up (this is…the second time this has ever happened since we’ve been together. It’s odd, but things have happened that have prohibited us being dorks and dressing up) and we’ve been pretty much keeping “low key” this year.

Jamie pointed out that he wanted to do a “traditional” pumpkin this year instead of doing our usual fare of “I wonder if I can carve this on a pumpkin.” One year we carved Blue from Blue’s Clues for his little brother on one pumpkin, a 1UP mushroom and one of the question boxes from Mario on another, and a rather intensive Caterpillar from the 1951 Alice in Wonderland on the last pumpkin. We also painted some pumpkins (tribal dogs) so Jamie could take them to work this year.

The “traditional” pumpkin came from a book of templates Jamie found (brought to you every year by the people who also make/sell the “pumpkin carving kits”) He really wanted to do a cat, because of Mr Uggs, and I found this guy. Rhonda refused to carve the pumpkin, swearing she’d cut herself and bleed to death (she is on blood thinners), so she watched us do it.

Jamie ended up having to tweak the cat ears while I realized I did my normal “trace with the knife and cut in to peices to get the pumpkin out” and I needed those peices for the horn/ear things. But! I have a cache of “craft foam square sheets” and I have some extra paper. So I made the template and worked on them, and the horn/ear things came out cool.

Jamie made the pumpkin seeds for me with this fascinating cinnamon/sugar and cumin mix. Sweet and has a kick.

So our day will be a nice, quietish event.

It’s cold here, but the ground hasn’t frozen yet. We’ll be watching a horror movie (either Splice or the latest incarnation of The Thing), snuggling, and have cider. I will have the fermented kind while Jamie will have a mulled-and-warmish kind. We’ll also be burying apples, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and this is the first year I have apples for it. I’m excited.


Dr Pain’s Nightmare

Review/semi-retelling of attempting the latest incarnation of Dr Pain’s. (You can check out their website here)

I decided to brave a local haunted house with some friends last night. Jamie and I were under the impression that it’d just be us and our two friends, but no, it was a nice fun group of six. The more the merrier and yay for being me and deciding fuckit. I don’t know these people and chances are, I’ll probably never see them again: so sarcasm ahoy!

Our friends decided they wanted to go to Dr Pain’s Nightmare (formerly Dr Pain’s Haunted Asylum). The only time Jamie and I had gone was when they were still located in Salem and some of the actors were known for wandering down the middle of the street and trying to get people to come. But, we met up for dinner and then made our way to the location that they have set up this year.

Right off the bat, there is no lighted signage stating that this is where the haunted house is set up. There were people with no reflective clothing walking around (not actors, just idiots), and the only things to show that this was the correct area was that Google Maps shows a warehouse on one side of the street and a rather large and beautiful cemetary on the other side. There were two of the polyester balloon Halloween lawn ornaments off to the side, a green light, and thankfully a rather large line of people. This could only be the place.

Our friend almost hit someone pulling onto the side-road to go to the designated parking area and we almost hit someone trying to turn around down the street to go to the correct side-road. This was because there were people fucking around and not paying attention to large lights coming at them.

We met up, we stood in line with everyone and after about twenty or so minutes we found that the line to buy tickets is elsewhere and this is the line to wait to go in. What? We discussed who was going to buy the tickets and Robert got volunteered to go. As we got closer to the front of the line, we learned there is just a green “party light” set up and a piece of paper duct taped to a plexiglass window that says something. Probably something to do with buying tickets, but it was hard to see.

Tickets handed over, the…intro kid made us stand in a single file line while we waited to be let in. I have no idea how best to describe this kid besides she was probably a teenager, she was shorter than I am (which I don’t encounter all that often), and was constantly screaming at one of the other girls who was taking tickets and making sure that people were getting their tickets. She was in this weird get-up of a short cloak (maybe knee length. Isn’t there a proper name for this length?), her face was painted half black and half white, and the costume was like a bikini top and a skirt. The website states that the Head Nurse will lead you to your doom or whatever, but that isn’t any kind of nurse costume I’ve ever seen before.

We waited, I noticed there were a couple posters on the wall that looked like Slipknot posters (what the hell) and was already beginning to be disappointed. I was kind of hoping there’d be a cheesy waiting room and over-acting from the “head nurse” like the other time we went to Dr Pain’s.

The intro kid decided to make me walk through first, called out to the rest of the group to follow us “to Hell” and opened the door to the haunted house before realizing that everyone else was…still standing single file. She got them to follow us while Anthony, one of the guys we met, made a loud comment that they didn’t follow because she only pointed for me to “follow” and they were all just waiting. (he had to be loud because holy crap the sound effects were really loud).

We were taken past someone beating on plexiglass and screaming and stopped at a gurney. Hey, they got a gurney! Awesome. And on it was this…weird, sad little mannequin that was a head and a disemboweled torso. We were informed of the regular rules. No drugs, no alcohol (queue joke from someone in the group), no flash photography (why would you take pictures?), stay within your group, don’t touch the actors and they won’t touch you, don’t go off or you’ll all die one by one, yadda yadda yadda. The intro kid makes a joke-thing about how everyone’s going to die except me because I was following her and everyone else was just lagging behind.

We’re told to go to the left. Ok. Anthony offered to go in front of me because he just “always goes first” when he’s with a group of people and is going through haunted houses. I let him go ahead of me figuring that at least I won’t be the one running into the walls and I’ll have something to keep an eye on while I’m going through there. Jamie was somewhere behind me.

We almost walked right into one actor who was dressed as a zombie. From what I could tell, he paid a lot of attention to his makeup, but it was such poor lighting that you could just get glimpses here and there. He shuffled, I said “hi!” and he froze. I really wanted to stop and ask him about his makeup and I don’t think anyone else in the group noticed him.

It was a series of rooms and uncomfortably tight corridors. One room had another mannequin torso on a gurney with a dentist/medical table right beside it. Alright! They got more gurneys! There were a couple pressurized chairs that made things move and there was a small, kid-sized rocking chair that moved and it was kind of hard to tell if it was a kid doing it or if it was a prop. Getting closer to it (because you had to walk past it to continue on), I realized it had to be a prop because it was terribly misproportioned and had no feet. It was seriously a full-head mask and something akin to a “body” wrapped in guaze and white fabric and tied into the chair.

There was one actor dressed in a doctor’s jacket, possibly scrubs (most likely just a dark shirt and dark pants), with face paint that looked like ABK’s without the red on the forehead. He had a little circular saw. There’s something wrong when your first thought is “I wonder if he’s ever tripped” and then “Is that the kid-saw you get at Lowes?” Maybe I’ve just watched too many horror films lately. The guy came up uncomfortably close to me and I wanted to punch him.

Maybe it’s just me, but when you go to scare someone in a group and they wave and say “hi!” and show no fear, you go and attempt to scare one of the group members who hasn’t spotted you. You don’t continue to shuffle up and get two inches away from the first person’s face and bear down on them. Also, he killed my momentum so as he lumbered towards me, I almost walked right into him.

One of the guys we met, Anthony, just basically hauled ass through the whole thing, making comments as he went. The other guy we met, Sam, was quiet through the whole thing. If he said anything, I don’t remember because it was pretty damn loud.

At one point, there was a room of a dummy in a rigged up “electric chair” and an actor in a large metal tub. I honestly thought the actor fell asleep until I heard them scream “help me help me” at someone in our group behind me. I almost ran into someone who was standing right beside a “doorway” because apparently they didn’t see me. The one guy just moved the black-guaze curtain and walked through and I had it in my hand, moved it, and then the actor moved. It was more like one of the awkward walking up and stepping out of the way but stepping in the same direction as the person you’re trying to get around.

They had someone in zombie makeup in a large “cage.” It wouldn’t have been bad if the actor wasn’t bending the faux cage bars every time he grabbed one. He kept hopping back and forth and I only know that he was in zombie makeup because either Jamie or S mentioned it. All I saw was a shadow hopping around like a jumping bean.

We got into the room right after that and as I was looking around, someone stood up and went “Raaaaah!” and I jumped. Then the guy in the makeup got in my face and asked if he scared me. When something is not there and then bam in-your-face, it’s surprising to me. But I was also running on high anticipation and expecting a lot more jumps and screams than what I got. He looked like a friend of ours, and what irritated me was that he stayed at my level grinning like an idiot and I wanted to punch him in the throat. To me, it’s kind of like having someone stand right beside you and stare down at you. It’s annoying and I don’t appreciate it. Yes, I know I’m short, but those who are taller than me do not need to remind me by leaning down a little bit.

The corridors through some of the areas were…odd. Complete visual deprivation, and very tight. Robert, Leland, and at least one other person had to “scrunch” up to get through. I barely moved and my hands were hitting both sides. I didn’t care for the “sharp turns” with no indication besides running straight into one of the other walls. Jamie said it was part of the point, but it reminded me of when I almost broke my nose at the Virginia Beach haunted house when my dad and I slammed into a wall because of a sharp turn.

There was, of course, a spider room. It wasn’t that bad, but I still don’t care for spiders. It would’ve been a little scarier if they weren’t the same ones you can buy in a retail store near Halloween. It would’ve been a lot creepier if there was someone in that room freaking the fuck out. What didn’t help was that Anthony decided he was going to play with one of the legs on the gurney. Don’t play with the props, that’s just rude.

We hit this one area where it was…a recreation of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake where Leatherface is running through the sheets and the leg goes through the air. Except it was “bloodied” sheets and all I could think of was the leg flying in the air and classical music. There was one of the body bags hung up in the middle of this to clearly take your focus away from the fact that there were people “hiding” back here.

There was one actor who was crawling around and he got super close to everyone. I told him “sorry, I’m afraid I’m going to step on you” because I wouldn’t move until he got at least a few inches away from me. Apparently I said this loud enough to cause the girl hiding a couple feet away to stand up when I walked by her. She kinda looked like a sepia version of the Night of the Living Dead girl and I couldn’t take her seriously. Really? You’re not scary just standing there. Gnaw on a faux leg or something.

We went through this area where there were tied up “bodies” where and you have to go through them to get out of the room. To me, it looked like you go left, but you go right because it was poorly formed (or maybe I just noticed it was only some black gauzy fabric over an open spot?) . It was cool to see they kept the body bag things, but it looked like all they did was cut them in half so they’re now horribly misproprotioned body bag things. Sam moved one and accidentally hit me in the head. It was kind of funny.

Then we got to the end where this rather tall actor decided he was going to get uncomfortably close to me and stare me down. We walked through a doorway and…it was sterile.

No fake blood, no black light paint; just a light right above the “exit” sign. I was expecting one last scare. I was waiting for it. It could’ve been behind the mattress that was set up, but it wasn’t. It could’ve come from the little alcove area to our right, but it didn’t. We could’ve had one last scream-and-jump from the darkened room with no door to the left. But no, everything was fine, we walked outside, and stood around discussing the haunted house.

Anthony was highly dissatisfied and became very vocal about how terrible it was. Sam was kinda meh about the whole thing, Robert mentioned going to another haunted house because he found it a huge disappointment. The group after us screamed loudly and hauled ass out of the exit.

The rather tall guy at the end followed them out, stood around a couple minutes and someone pointed out that he “must have a hard time moving his fingers.” I turned around and squeed over the Nosferatu hands. He must’ve heard me because he moved his hands and cast a shadow that was rather reminiscent of one of the scenes from the film. But then he must’ve gotten bored because he tossed his hands on the ground, moved the full-head mask up and lit a cigarette.

A couple other groups screamed a lot and Jamie pointed out that they must be going after high school girls because they’re the easiest to target. A couple people stopped by where we were and asked if this was where Dr Pain’s was and where to get tickets, which Robert pointed them to where to get tickets.

Eventually we agreed to go back to Robert and Leland’s house and just watch a scary movie instead of driving up to Radford and attempting to get into one of the St Alban’s haunted houses.

The overall consensus was: total disappointment.

If it were just Jamie and myself going, it definitely wouldn’t have been worth the amount that was paid. But since we went with some friends and we got to joke about it, it kind of made up for it a bit. The intro kid was literally the only one who seemed to be into working a haunted house. The other actors really didn’t give a shit. There were two people who jumped out and screamed and the only other reactions from the actors were the “I’m going to loom over you because I’m taller than you and that’s scary.” The guy asking if he scared me was kind of funny but also kind of irritating.

It was neat to see they have acquired a large number of props since the last time Jamie and I went. But it was almost like a sterile environment. Sure, some of the walls had blacklight paint and some of the stuff had dried faux blood on it, but nothing was gooey, nothing was drippy or glistening. Yeah, they upgrated in a way, but at least they could’ve done something with the torsos.

Jamie and I agreed that there were a lot of missed opportunities for good scares. The corridors would’ve been great, the end where there’s an obvious space between the “haunted house” and the actual exit of the building, there could’ve been someone under at least one of the gurneys. Jamie pointed out that maybe they were having an “off” night, but then we realized that this was probably all the main actors and if what we got was what they’ve done every night, they couldn’t have done all that great a job. If the music/sound effects weren’t so damned loud, maybe it’d be a little creepier. They obviously don’t use it to drown out the noise their actors make because you can easily hear people screaming.

When Jamie and I had gone to Dr Pain’s when it was still in Salem, yeah they didn’t have as many props, but there were points where everyone in our small group jumped or got startled. They did good with what they had, some of it was cheesey, but they also had spurts and the blood didn’t look like a Kool-Aid stain, the “head nurse” was hilariously over-dramatic. The body bags looked like they had life-sized bodies in them. The guy dressed as Dr Pain followed us through half of the haunted house and tried to freak us out by getting in the car with us and couldn’t get out because he refused to break character. Now that is dedication to your craft, no matter how cheesy it is.

Going to Robert and Leland’s house and getting jumped on by two very happy greyhounds and then watching a “scary movie” was much better than going to this haunted house. Doing this with some friends, joking about it afterwards, and hanging out kind of made up for the ridiculous amount of money per-ticket. The downside to this just made me want to do a haunted house and I hate haunted houses. And we all decided it probably would’ve been a lot more exciting to hop over the fence of the cemetary across the street and try to raise the dead.

(I ended up writing about four pages of notes down on this. I’m trying to be positive, I know they’re a local thing and I know they try [for the most part], but it’s so damn hard. It was basically an expensive ticket for a simulated snuff film and hearing easily scared high school girls scream. If I wanted that, I could just pop in a really bad horror film)

Peaks of Otter Winery

Over the weekend, Jamie and I went to Johnson Family Orchard for the simple fact of:: apples. We usually try to hit the Apple Barn, but the family has scaled back their massive orchard and leased out quite a bit of it. It’s also highly popular and there are people everywhere, so we figured we could try somewhere new. While we couldn’t do a Pick-Your-Own, they had a pretty good selection of apples to grab inside their store.

The drive up was rather nice since the leaves are changing and there wasn’t much traffic. Surprisingly, we did not miss the major turn-off because if you’re paying attention there’s a sign for Thaxton and like 30-50 ft later is a sign for the road to turn on. The closer we got to the orchard, the more we realized that this is one of the ways we take to get back to 460 while coming down from some hiking trails.

Another thing with this orchard is that they also do Peaks of Otter wines (it’s either the winery is right there or they have this mutual working where they can sell them and do wine tastings). So I got to try different wines!

Check out the view at this place.

And Jamie had to try the wines because he just wanted to try Kiss The Devil, but the guy explaining the wines pointed out you have to try all the wines before you can try that one. (I think he did it to mess with us because a couple came up later on and only tried four or five and got to try Kiss The Devil)

You’re given a sheet of wines with some information (name, what’s in it, pricing, websites, etc) and a little pencil to mark what you want (but I have a notebook!). We wound up at the wine tasting area at the last 10 on the list and joked with the guy about being short and old enough to drink wine.

Chili Dawg: You’re given a…dime sized blob of squeezy cheese (from a can) on your hand and lick that off (“Like you’re doing a shot of tequila!”) and drink the wine. It tastes like a chili dog. The first taste was surprising and then it was like you just ate an awesome chili dog and I hate hot dogs. Jamie immediately texted his boss to tell her that she was right.

Grandma’s Elderberry: I tried very hard to not laugh (“Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.” was all I could think of). It was a nice, sweet wine that wasn’t overpowering. My only note was “pretty good.”

Cherry Cheese Cake: I’m not a fan of cherry wines, but this one wasn’t bad and I was pleasantly surprised. It was much better than the Thomasillo Cherry (then again, to me, anything is better than their cherry which is disappointing because their pomegranate is amazing).

Cinfulicious: This was described as having a full stick of cinnamon in each bottle and works well even when heated up, especially if you’re a fan of mulled ciders. It’s a decent wine, it has a light cinnamony flavor that just builds itself up after a couple seconds and goes from a cinnamon candy flavor to “I’m eating cinnamon-sugar” and then to almost using a cinnamon stick as a straw. I want to try this warm to see the difference.

Apple Truffle: It’s apple mixed with a white truffle chocolate and it tastes like a Tootsie Roll. It is so weird because when it’s described, you’re kind of like “yeah right,” but then taste it and it really does taste like a Tootsie Roll. Jamie bought a bottle for Rhonda because she loves the candy. This also tastes much better than the Chocovine stuff. If you’ve tasted Chocovine and came out with the same reaction as I did (white wine that tastes like it’d been opened days before and mixed with melted Hershey bars), I definitely urge you to try this one. This is what a chocolate wine should taste like.

Ras Ma Tas Raspberry: My only notes are “not all that great,” and it reminded me of a mix between a Chateau Morrisette red (possibly the Laurel Mountain Red) and the Thomasillo (Tomasillo? I’ll have to check later)…blackberry? I think it was. And some sort of thick jelly. The sheet states “Great Body Lotion,” and that is probably the best description of it.

Frosty Morn: This is made with three different grapes, it’s a tasty wine, and you can taste a hint of oak in it (or whatever barrel they put this wine into. I liken it to oak because it is a taste that I recognize and that other people who do wine tastings have told me that such-n-such wine was in an oak barrell). This wine tastes like a wine I have had before, but damned if I can remember which.

Salty Frog Margarita Wine: This is a wine I’ve been wanting to try because every now and then a bottle or two will show up at our local Kroger (because the wine manager is awesome and that store is very into showcasing local wines). This was like drinking lime Jell-O but with a kick, or Lime Kool-Aid with a kick. To me, lime Jell-O and Kool-Aid taste about the same. It’s not exactly wine-like and it’s not exactly like drinking a margarita, but it’s not bad. I think I was expecting more of a margarita flavor like the kind of margaritas I’ve had at local restaurants (then again, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a normal green margarita).

About this time, the couple beside us came up and the husband requested to try only a couple different types along with Kiss the Devil. They tried the ones they wanted, he got a sticker, and never made a face or a noise or anything when trying Kiss the Devil.

Light Sweet Peach: My only writing is “ew.” Sometimes I’m a fan of peaches and sometimes I’m not. This was like drinking simple syrup without the thickness and someone just happened to add something like peach flavoring. It was really weird.

Blackberry Jammed: I like blackberries and some blackberry wines are pretty decent, but I wasn’t overly thrilled by this. It was lightly sweet, but also kind of “meh” and unmemorable.

Then we hit the end because they ran out of the Strawberry Reserve. Some people wandered away to go do other things and someone else went behind the little wine tasting area to call out to people wandering around that the wine tasting was going to start soon. They also had wine glasses for sale and joked about the little taster cups were “kind of sanitized” and from the local doctor’s office.

I love when people have a good sense of humor and people don’t take what they’re saying seriously. These guys were great.

We did not try the Peach Delight nor the Dry Apple “Virginia Apple Lovers” wines. I think these were also sold out by the time we got there.

Mojo: It’s a mojito wine that tastes like an actual mojito and not one of the pre-mixed containers you can buy. It was like fresh mint was shoved in the bottle and definitely a plus if you love mojitos. I like mojitos, but I have to be in the mood for them. I was surprised to find that Jamie liked the mintyness of the wine while I likened the initial taste-then-inhale to the smell of the salon my mom went to when I was a kid. Not bad, brings up nice memories, but wasn’t something I was expecting.

Blackberry Cobbler: It wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t like I was expecting. I was expecting a more powerful taste because of the cobbler name, but it had a nice, light taste. Jamie said he liked it. I think this would be a good wine to get people to try wines with or to give to someone who hasn’t tried Peaks of Otter wines.

Light Pear: It was sweet and it was crisp, it wasn’t overpowering and it wasn’t like drinking a fruit cup which I found to be a relief. Jamie didn’t care for it, but then again, he hates pears almost as much as he hates peaches so I’m not surprised. I would probably try a taste of this again before determining whether or not I’d buy a bottle. Or, if I get the extra money and feel like being a bit different, I’ll just buy a bottle.

Sweet Heart: This is a pomegranate/apple wine. It tastes more like pomegranate juice and I didn’t care all that much for it because it kind of tasted like really tart pom-juice. Jamie really liked it (but Jamie loves pomegranate juice) and my only notes are “ew.” I think I’ll stick with the Thomasillo pomegranate.

Fancy-pants painted bottles and copper pot thingy right in front of their Wall Of Ribbons. It was really cool

Peach of Otter: I like peaches, but Jamie and I were both in agreement that this was a…not great wine for us. My only note was “ew.” I probably could’ve written a little more, but by this time it was both guys doing the taste testing.

The older gentleman was very much looking for speed and trying to bang out every single one out with little care on whether or not you just finished your other sip of wine while the younger guy was explaining what that specific wine was. It was pretty funny.

Cafe Vino: This is likened to Kahlua liquer (which happens to be misspelled on the little sheet, I don’t know if it’s intentional, but it amuses me) so I had my doubts. I hate Kahlua. This smelled like fresh roasted coffee, like walking into a coffee shop right after or during the time where they roast their beans (so, for you locals, it smells more like Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea than it does Starbucks) and it tastes like coffee. Not like Kahlua or Bailey’s is supposed to taste like coffee, but like you just got handed a cup of black coffee.

During this time, the older gentleman was talking about this wine, describing how they got the taste of coffee to be how it is (it’s like eating chocolate covered espresso beans: fascinating and oddly awesome) and the younger guy was walking around and almost everyone who was doing the tasting got to have this twice. Jamie and I got to have another taste of this, but a couple of couples didn’t get to try it because the older gentleman stopped mid-sentence and asked what he was doing. The younger guy pointed out that he figured he could keep pouring the same wine because it makes more sense to pour the wine you’re talking about instead of doing the next one on the list and messing with peoples’ heads. I think this is what got Jamie to definitely pick this wine.

Pure Passion: This is something I wanted to try because I like passion fruit flavored things. I don’t remember what Jamie thought of it, but all I have on my notes are a question mark and a quick-sketch of one of my comic characters with a “wtf” look. What the hell did I just try? Explosion of flavor, but what flavor? I’m still not sure.

Pumpkin Pie: I thought this would be fun to try. I’m not as big of a fan of pumpkin pie as I am butternut squash pie (It’s been over ten years and I still can’t get over the fact that half of my family lied to me about the pumpkin pie every year. But that’s ok, I’ll take my grandma’s “punkin’ pie” that’s really butternut squash pie any day. It’s better flavor in the spices). I figured this would be fairly close to the taste of pumpkin pie…and I really hope it’s just me and the fact that I had tried 17 wines already on a fairly empty stomach…but it tasted like the smell of my Nanny’s house and that weirded me out to no end because she’s been dead for quite a while and I haven’t been in that house for years (I do have some of her stuff that smells like her and her house so maybe that’s why I can easily liken this taste to that smell). I was disappointed because it did that to me and also I’m fairly sure that’s not how it really tastes. It did have a nutmeg/clove/cinnamon taste to it. I’d give it a second chance.

By this time, the older gentleman has noticed that I am messily writing notes in a little notebook (it’s not that little, it’s one of those “lil’ chunky books”) and came right up wanting to know what I was doing. I’m taking notes! He pointed out that’s what the sheet of paper in front of me was for, but I countered with the simple logic of “but how will I know what wines to buy later if I don’t take notes on what I thought of them?” He seemed to understand that logic and was intrigued that I was taking notes on this.

I guess he’d never seen anyone take notes before? (ok, I know doing it at places like my local Kroger or Fresh Market is a bit weird since usually they have a small selection and all the wines are right there) I guess it’s one thing to see people mark out or circle what they want to buy right then but it’s so weird seeing someone make notes. Sure, the notes are for me and may not make much sense, but they help me out, especially if I go back and want to try a bottle. It’s kind of like that mentality of: you don’t have to have a good memory to tell the truth. Bullshit. If you don’t have a good memory, you will run into gaps that give you problems and therefore: notebooks help. It also helps when you have a neat idea.

The older gentleman made a joke about something and then told the younger guy that they should get a photo of me to put on their website. I thought it was pretty funny and snorted a bit, Jamie made a joke about how he’d have to get paid if they wanted a photo and the older gentleman acted shocked before saying “not that kind of website.” It cracked a lot of people up.

Plumlicious: It was…interesting. Kind of tasted like a plum, kinda not. It was lightly sweet, not overpowering and was something that I’d have to give another try before making a definite response to. I think this was one of the wines where the older gentleman was banging out tastes and that’s what I literally got: a taste. Not enough to make a definitive decision about, a couple drops that mixed with the last drop or two of wine from the last wine we tried and just enough to cover some tastebuds.

The Mango Tango: There is a scene in the short-lived but wonderful television series called Firefly in the episode Shindig where Kaylee (Jewel Staite) pokes Mal (Nathan Fillion) excitedly and goes “Oooo! Mangoes!” This wine made me think of that exact moment. I hate mangoes, I think they taste like pine trees smell and that is something I do not want on my tastebuds. But this wine makes me realize why people love mangoes and I was pleasantly surprised. I’d like to try this wine again to see if I get the same experience.

Vino Colada: This is their version of a pina colada. I hate coconut and while I did deal with it for a number of mixed drinks while we were on vacation (because that Twilight Zone thing was pretty good), so I didn’t really have much…hope for this one. But, again, I was pleasantly surprised and found that this is something that did not taste like coconut. It had a hint of pineapple, but wasn’t overpowering. I liked it, Jamie said it wasn’t too bad.

Strawbery Shortcake: Jamie and I both agreed that this was pretty good, had a light sweet taste to it, and tasted like something oddly familiar but we couldn’t figure out what. I was really tempted to make a joke about how it tasted like blending up the doll (late 80s, early 90s Strawberry Shortcake doll that was like, what, six or seven inches tall?)

Puff: The younger guy made a joke about how they were trying to get this wine to be like “Puff the Magic Dragon” but to please refrain from singing the song. This is where I got in trouble. I pointed out that I’ve never seen nor heard the song (I’ve heard about the song, but that doesn’t mean much). The younger guy asked me if I was sure I was over 21. I pulled my wallet out and showed him my ID, which amused him to no end, and I pointed out that my childhood was Ninja Turtles and playing video games. Jamie told him he’d get me to watch the video on Youtube, but only on the condition that he’s not home because he can’t stand the song (he likes the cartoon dragon, but that’s it). This is a dragonfruit wine and tastes like the lipsmacker lip gloss. It was interesting.

Blue Ridge Mountain Grape: This tastes like a grape freezy-pop that has a dry-wine undertone. This was really weird to me and Jamie said it wasn’t bad. I figured people who like grape juice would like it a lot more. Is it weird? I don’t care much for this wine because it reminds me of Welch’s and Juicy Juice grape juice too much?

Sangria: This is a fruity wine, like it’s supposed to be. It’s not overly alcoholic tasting, like some sangrias are, and it’s not a poignant dark wine that grasps at a hint of other flavors. This is a nice mix of flavors and it’s something that I wouldn’t mind drinking every now and then. I’m not a fan of sangrias, but I found this is something that I’d imagine the “how to make a real sangria” recipes taste like, with the orange slices and whatnot mixed in.

A 4ft statue of their little Kiss the Devil guy

Beale Treasure Sweet Apple: Jamie thought this one was ok; my only notes were “meh” and “the bottle’s cool looking.” I’ve definitely learned, I’m not a huge apple-wine fan. This was, unfortunately, a very forgettable wine, but that’s just my opinion. I saw quite a few people doing the wine tasting making notes to buy a bottle or having that look of pleasant surprise that they enjoyed it. More power to you, but I’ll go with something else.

Blueberry Muffin: This was explained as “the best wine to have with dessert, with a snack, even for breakfast.” The older gentleman laughed and continued “Ocifer, I just had a blueberry muffin.” It was pretty funny and it really does taste like a blueberry muffin. It was bizarre, it was fascinating, and I was surprised that Jamie didn’t hate it.

Afterwards, we got to try Chili Dawg again and I think that second try made it even better. It was also really fun to watch the girl who came up look around at everyone, give the guy a funny look like “yeah right” and “what the hell am I supposed to to?” while he was trying to explain that it’s like doing a shot of tequila. The look on her face of sheer terror mixed with disgust was priceless.

Kiss the Devil: We made our way through the list and got to try this wine. Technically it’s a cooking wine, but they do offer a taste test of it. 30 different varieties of peppers are mixed together to make this…insanity. I figured it’d be hot, probably with a hell of a kick and…it didn’t disappoint. Holy shit.

This is the first thing in years I’ve been able to kick back like a shot and I figure that if I did what Jamie did (swish it around then swollow), I’d be just like his boss’s boyfriend—on the floor and crying. I stopped breathing, I turned red, and it physically hurt to breathe. Jamie took a sip of Cinfulicious and said that helped a lot. I think I was able to get a sip of Ras Ma Tas, but I’m not sure. All I know is whatever I took to “help tone it down” did not help at all.

We got our stickers. The guy who tried it earlier was kind of sympathetic because he’d tried it and they both watched me as my eyes popped out and my hands went over my mouth. I somehow got some on my lip and it felt like my lip was rotting off for at least ten minutes afterwards. We left to go choose different wines, I tried a sample of apricot jam (and found it to not be the jam I am looking for so it’s all good). This would be good as a cooking wine and now I want Chicken Vicious.

We also went and picked a peck of apples, Jamie picked some homemade cheese, and the lady behind the counter gave us directions to a festival that was going on a few miles away. It was a lot of fun, we enjoyed ourselves and that’s really what counts. I’ve learned about a couple different wines, I found a few apples to turn into apple chips (or eat). We also got a little business card for their “wine club” thingy, which means…something. I guess it’s a “if you get X amount of stamps, you get something off your next purchase” like a couple bucks or something

Making Scarves

I have an over abundance of yarn (seriously. I’m able to fill 2 fairly large totes with nothing but yarn. how did this happen?) but on the plus side, I can make scarves and things.

One thing that cracks me up and I didn’t realize until I posted this picture on Facebook, is the stuff that covers the desk. In this photo there are three notebooks that you can see. There are two notebooks you can’t see, various notes on my neon note thingy that was supposed to be store-brand post-its but aren’t sticky on the back, and the list of wines from Peaks of Otter Winery that I am working on a comprehensive review post for.

And the rainbow scarf of course.

The scarf is intended for a small child who is currently  obsessed with the latest incarnation of My Little Pony.

(now let’s see what other colour I can do) P.S: the medicine bottle is for Mr Uggs and his wheezes/asthma problems.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson

Besides the wonderful knowledge that “Everybody loves a dog in clothes,” and notating that people are more receptible to pitties if they’re wearing something besides a collar and harness, Jamie and I have learned a good lesson when it comes to dressing a dog up.


When we took Izzy and Hobbes to Dogtoberfest, Hobbes got a Halloween bandana because we had figured he’d get hot in his Halloweeny pajamas or the Dino-Dog costume and Izzy got a pair of wings. We walked the dogs around for a while before we went to the festival and walked the dogs around as best as we could (as mentioned in a previous post), and came home with happy and tired dogs.

The next day, Jamie noticed that there was dirt under Izzy’s arm pits. He loved on her while holding her up while I used a war, wet cloth to try to get the gunk off. Then we found out that this gunk was because of the wings and it was goo from her body trying to heal itself. We immediately put a bunch of neosporin on the spots and kept an eye on it. She didn’t show any signs of discomfort and seemed to enjoy the extra attention she was getting every time we cleaned the areas and put gobs of neosporin on the areas.

A week and a half later, it’s like nothing ever happened to her except maybe fur got rubbed off a little bit.
So, lesson learned: Make sure the dog has some sort of sweater or t-shirt before putting wings on. The ones we had were your basic straps-are-elastic-bands and while I’m fairly sure straps that have some sort of covering or padding are great, I’ll try to put the dog in a shirt before strapping another set of wings on. But, on the plus side, we won’t be able to use these sets of wings.

In Izzy’s enthusiasm, the wings are bent beyond repair and we’re ok with this. She was adorable and that’s what counts.

What am I doing?

I decided that I was going to work on film and book reviews again. I figured I’m about maybe 10 books behind and maybe 20 films behind, not including “Apollow 18” and “True Fear: blah blah blah.” So I decided, I’d go through all the films that Jamie and I had rated on Netflix since we first began using it (which is awesome! even if you put a hold on your account, they still keep up with what you’ve rated).
There are 63 pages of 1-star ratings.

We watch a lot of bad movies for fun to see how bad they are. Some are supposedly great movies that we just really don’t care for while some are so bad we use it as a “worst movie” piece to compare other films to.
I’ve been going between what I’ve already reviewed and what we’ve “rated” on Netflix and…yeah. I haven’t even gotten to the 63 pages of 1-star reviews and I’ve only marked through the 4 and 5 star ratings and I’m…at needing to do 209 reviews. Some of the things I’ll have to re-watch, but holy cow, 209. I’m about to start working my way through 2 and 3 star ratings before I even consider going through all the 1-star ratings.

While I’m doing this, I’m also making notes on which films need to be re-watched (like Feed or the 1990 version of Phantom of the Opera). It’s an interesting process and I plan on doing this to the books I’ve read as well.

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Everybody loves a dog in clothes

This past Saturday (10/13) was the Vinton Fall Festival. The best way to describe it would be an outdoor shindig where selected streets are lined with vendors and a few of the shops on those specific streets are open and sometimes have different sales. The school has kid-oriented things, there’s a petting zoo, a monster truck ride, and live entertainment.

Jamie and I had decided that we would walk down to the festival using the path that we used to take for Firefly and Hobbes to walk out their crazy before going to class at Field of Dreams. Rhonda and Nanny decided that it would be easier to walk with us than to have Allen drive them down to the festival with Rhonda pointing out that she needs to “push” herself and it’ll be good for her. Jamie and I tried multiple times to get them to drive to the festival. Sure, it was approximately a mile walk, but that’s from our house to the festival area. That didn’t include all the walking around, standing around, going into the thrift shop that sells books, and it didn’t include walking back to the house.

We constantly got way ahead of them while walking Firefly, so we’d stop and wait on them. Nanny would tell us to “not worry about the old folks” and I did apologize a couple of times, pointing out that the pace we were going was good for Firefly to keep her mind focused before she was to be immersed in this festival.

Firefly was also dressed as a dinosaur. Jamie kept changing the name from dino-dog to wigglesaurus to other hilarious names.

A lot of people were enamored with Fly, a lot of little kids came up asking if they could pet her. Jamie would kneel down and hold Firefly’s collar explaining that he didn’t want her to get excited and jump. Only one parent pulled their child away and that’s ok. I completely understand that the parent was a little put-off by Jamie trying to be conscious of a small child being in close proximity to our rambunctious wiggle-butt.

We lost Nanny, Allen, and Rhonda shortly after making our way into the festival. Before we lost them, Jamie did remind them that we won’t be with them 100% of the time because he needs to focus all of his attention on Firefly. He’s not ignoring them on purpose, it’s just that he’s trying to pay attention to Fly.

They had a little shooting-range type thing with a bunch of people dressed up in Wild West gear. It was really neat to see and quite a few of those people were grinning and making comments about how cute Dino Dog was. Firefly didn’t flinch when the guns went off, she just kept trucking along and I think once she looked over to where they were like she wanted to go over and make friends.

I went over to one of the vendors to check out their wares (because I like ceramic pumpkins) and Jamie was hanging out, working on Fly’s sit-stay. One of the women from the Dalmation rescue came up and started talking with him. We found out that she’s a friend of our friend AJ. Rhonda showed up, pointed out that she lost Nanny and Allen, and we shared photos of our dogs while the Dalmation Rescue lady showed us pictures of her dogs.

The lady went back off to her booth to help and we walked a little farther on, Firefly and this beautiful pittie girl who looks so much like Ginger (the Vicktory dog) and Jamie was like “dude, your dog is so pretty! And she looks like Ginger, the Vick dog.” I’m not sure if he understood it, and I told him she was adorable (she had her toe nails painted bright pink too!) and he was, from what I guess, pretty relieved that we both had the dogs meet at an angle and I got in front of Firefly and told her that was enough face-to-face meeting. He mentioned that he really appreciated that someone else does that as well and understands that not all dogs are ok with that form of greeting.

We were working on heading farther along when a gentleman stopped us and asked if we were going to enter Miss Flygirl into the dog costume contest. We said we were interested, but weren’t sure where it would be held nor when. He happily informed us that it was going to be at the stage area (near the farmer’s market) and the sign-up was at 11 and the contest should start at 11:15. We thanked him and headed that way. We let Rhonda know where we were going, they said it was fine and headed along to look for the little thrift shop.

The gentleman who informed us about when the contest was happened to be one of the judges, so we made our way back to the stage where there were a few dogs and their parents waiting for the sign up sheets. One little boy honed in on Firefly and asked if he could pet her and she just took it so well. The little boy’s mom got Jamie’s attention while he got distracted by someone and let him know that her son was autistic but loves dogs. He gets super excited by dogs and I think Jamie just told her that was fine, if he wants to spend his time with Firefly, that was cool, he’d just make sure that Fly didn’t accidentally jump on him or something.

When the forms came out, Jamie was working with Fly, the little boy was loving all over her, and I filled out the forms for Firefly. Everything went pretty smoothly, one of the dogs decided she did not want to walk any more and just plopped on the ground. The little boy gave Fly a pat on the head and told her good luck and rooted for her along with a few other people who fell in love with her.

I didn’t think that the contest went on as long as it did, but after the judges figured things out and names were called, it took about an hour. Miss Firefly won 1st Place for tricks and we’re still not really sure how that happened. The only thing we can figure out is that the judges were walking around and watching all the dogs who were dressed up, and they had the opportunity to see Miss Fly in action with all those distractions.

The gentleman who asked us if we’d be entering the contest ended up being the Mayor, so that was pretty cool. He was carrying around his little dog (who had on a sweater!), we thanked him for letting us know about the time and told him we totally weren’t expecting first place. I had made a joke earlier about how Jamie should take Firefly center-stage because I have terrible luck winning things and he won the Maru book through the Roanoke Times Happy Wag blog. I think the Mayor was just highly entertained by a couple of dorks with a dino-dog.

We hung out at the same area so we could let the little boy know that Firefly won. We agreed to email some photos I had taken to this one lady and wrote down her email address (which I need to do) while we waited on the “train ride” that was being done for kids because the little boy was having a blast. (it was a guy who had made these little cars out of plastic drums, painted them, put wheels and steering columns on, had a couple that looked like racecars, and hooked everything to a riding lawnmower).

The little boy was really excited that Firefly won first place, he gave her lots of lovins, and his mom thanked us. It was really cool. Then we hit the Doggie-Doos booth, which was part of the “winnings” and Firefly got a voucher for a free spa day. And we started walking around to try to find Rhonda, Nanny, and Allen.

I got a text message saying that they were at the Farmer’s Market while a lady who was pulling stuff out of her shop to set up on a table outside asked if Firefly was a therapy dog because she was so well behaved. One guy was like “hey, it’s that dogasaur!” and Jamie said “dino dog.” The guy laughed and said “I knew I got it wrong.” I found it funny and the guy took it in stride. A few people congratulated Firefly on winning, some people had to come give wiggle-butt scritches, and we made our way back down to the farmer’s market. A little while later, I got a text saying that they were going to start heading home and they were sure we’d meet up with them on the way so we started back.

Rhonda’s leg started acting up so they stopped and were able to find a set of stairs to hang out at, I stayed with them while Jamie ran with Firefly part of the way home and power-walked the rest of the way. Jamie put Fly in the backseat and came back for us. Rhonda got the passenger seat, I sat in the back and pulled Fly onto my lap so Nanny and Allen could squish themselves in. It was about a three-minute drive (max.) and we got home with no problems.