Take Care of Wonderful [TCW] News: Meet Our Farmers

We're only as good as our ingredients.

At TCW, we forage for some of the most wonderful farmers and partners we can find.  Their fresh ingredients are as "whole" and nutrient rich as we can get them. And yes, this means that every batch of Take Care of Wonderful soaps and products must be made from scratch and the recipes tweaked every batch, just like good cooking. Plus, we LOVE using farmer's fresh ingredients in new ways with new products, hoping to boost their revenues and support their goal of growing healthy, clean foods.  Yeah, we have to work a bit more to offer custom crafted, high performing, nutrient rich soaps and cleaners, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

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MEET OUR FARMERS

Oliver Farm

TCW is so lucky to have met Clay Oliver and his passion for saving his Pitts, Georgia centennial family farm. Oliver Farm is winning Good Food awards in the South and being welcomed in some of the best restaurants across the country. When Clay cold presses and barrels his sunflower oil for us, he has to load it on his tractor and drive it a long way to get it on the truck and headed our way. Then I get my tractor going and load it from the delivery truck and into my shop. This glorious, golden oil has a earthy, seedy smell that tells me its wonderful waxes, carotenoids, and goodness is what makes TCW products perform.  Thank you Oliver family for working with us.

Ag Strong- Organic & Non GMO

Fortunately, I met the founders of Ag Strong almost 7 years ago, and the Davis family was willing to host my visits share samples of their Non GMO and Organic food oils. Now, they're always in the TCW pantry. We love buying their full bodied ingredients and crafting special recipes. It's why our pure Castile Soaps do what they do. And TCW's loves Ag Strong's mission: "To serve family farmers by offering more profitable and sustainable cropping systems to help strengthen & restore the family farming community."

 Ahiflower & Nature's Crops

While foraging for stronger omega 3 sources to create a new recipe, I reconnected with Greg Cumberland, of the Bent Creek Institute and Nature' Crops International. Luckily for TCW, Greg shared samples of Nature's Crops Ahiflower, and I crafted some new products, shared them with friends and family. The results are awesome, as expected, since this plant seed oil is scientifically proven to offer a unique and unparalleled combination of essential omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids.  Please, do your own research about the benefits of Omega 3 and skin. At TCW, we expect this sustainable superfood to become the point guard on our team of new products.

Matriarchs

I know there's been a blue jay blueberrying  in my heirlooms this morning--yes, I know this isn't a verb but language evolves.  I head out the back door, to harvest enough for my coveted blueberry pie, a recipe from my mother-in-law that I found delicately stenciled in the back of her ragged Pope cookbook.  My rescues Eddie and Hammer chase the jay out of the bushes and up into the gum tree, where several crows cast watchful eyes for a chance to blueberry too.  

The cocky bird chatters away at us, but the much more fragile butterfly is tenacious and ignores us while gathering blueberry nectar.  I guess this  butterfly is clearly living in the present moment, the now.

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I hope these heirloom blueberry blushes keep living. They're about 60 years old, well past their typical life cycle, per the blueberry bush experts. The berries do more than compliment oatmeal and yogurt, provide a handy snack food on the way to long walk to the mailbox, and battle free radicals in my aging cells. The bushes are more than a seasonal fruitful attraction that hibernates their thin, grey arms during winter and then green in the spring and call beasts and fowl in the sweltering southern summer.

I have been friends with these blueberry bushes for more than 40 years, bonding with them under my grandmother's green thumb tutelage. As I child, I believed she had a stronger fondness for plants than she did people. Her nursery skills were certainly more loving to her array of plants, her vegetable and flower gardens, and to her pecan, walnut, apple and peach trees that fed us year round. Maybe this kind of love is better than the grandmother who might have taken us to Dollywood, to the local public swimming pool, to the magical Belk department store.

After my grandmother died, her 60 acres were parceled out, and some sold to a development company. Before her estate's land sale was finalized, my husband and I dug up her blueberry bushes, making sure to capture a huge root ball for their trip to my backyard, where they now have thrived for some twenty years.  I am glad I harvested them before they were forgotten behind the "No Trespassing" sign at her old drive way entrance, where a thick wall of struggling pine saplings, saw briars, and grasses make it seem as if her home place never existed, that life was never lived there. 

Now, the blueberry bushes are mine, under my stewardship now. But there's more value than just the berries--they're a talisman, an energy source to never lose my inheritance: my grandmother's dogged, persistent "presence," her passion for the earth, the dirt, of green living things, and her resilience to cycle on.

And, once again,  grandchildren--my grandchildren this time, her great grandchildren--will stumble and toddle to their lower branches. Their small, inquisitive hands will pick blueberries and eat them well before their pails return to the kitchen.

 

A privilege to get Oliver family farm's Good Food in TCW soaps

A journey from farm to soap

Clay Oliver has revived his family's centennial farm by growing and selling his artisan culinary oils to executive chefs and restaurants across the country. I now use his sunflower oil to all of our soaps.  What if this awesome oil can work so your skin gets the benefit of it while washing your boat or cleaning your refrigerator.  And you, your dog, your horse, or water buffalo (yes, I know a pet water buffalo who gets washed occasionally) can feel the glorious gold sunflower oil work its magic.

Oliver Farm has won many Good Food awards, and the pecan, green peanut, pumpkin, and sunflower oils are making lots of people happy.  Here's a link to Oliver Farm--the artisan oils make a great gift.

The whole Oliver family works to produce Oliver Farm Artisan Oils.

Oliver Farm's Georgia grown, glorious unrefined, nutrient rich sunflower oil just into my big soap pot in NC.  Stirred it in, and simmered it slow. We're so grateful to get this farmer grown, healthy oil for our products.

Do More With Less

It's possible--and rewarding-- to do more with less. I used this skill approach when I taught high school: every school and every student could use more resources, but we have to make the most of what we have--including developing and honing our own brainpower and skills.  Furthermore,  when we're "given" something, we lose the opportunity to solve our own problems--we lose innovation, work ethic, grit, collaboration, focus. So when I had the chance to make a cleaner using plant oil leftovers, I set out to see how much "work" I could make this soap tackle, and do it as safe and "clean" as possible.  For the "mammal" products, I foraged for well-known, humble "superfoods" that deliver a buffet of functions and benefits, and had a long history of science behind them.

 Even when washing a firetruck, our hands and skin are exposed--the skin is the largest organ, so it matters! Yes, our recipes could be more "exotic," but what's the point when superfoods that we eat can work to clean as well?   Yes, we can do more with less.

"I Love Teaching So Much I Quit." TEDx

Teaching took on a whole new meaning for this high school teacher turned biofuel eco-preneur when her students became her teachers. She learned how to transform waste into biofuel while at the same time identifying the enormous waste of knowledge, creativity and expertise that too often happens in our classrooms.

A high school teacher turned biofuel eco-entrepreuer, Tawana Weicker is the founder of Warhorse. Her career turning point came when her students became her teachers, challenging her to live up to her potential and to push past her fears. 

Respecting our ingredients and soap making craft.

When it comes to food, less is more. Quality ingredients required.

I'm  trying to eat less processed food, less preservatives, less refined ingredients, less artificial colors. It's a long list. 

The skin is an organ, and it can absorb many things that we slather and lather on it. You know that's how those topical pain reliever patches work. or those nicotine patches?  WARHORSE considers our skincare products--for all mammals--a skin food. We take the same approach to quality ingredients and a "LESS IS MORE" philosophy. We know that our ingredient selections and their vitamin, micronutrient, and fatty acid profiles are paramount. And yes, like the dietary recommendations for more raw, minimally processed, recognizable, whole foods, WARHORSE uses this basic approach to our soap making. 

We forage for quality, nutrient rich ingredients and we use a lot of them. So we don't need to add a lot of extras. Our ingredient list is pretty short and packs a dynamic duo punch--cleans and supports your skin.  As award winning chef Tom Colicchio axed a Top Chef contestant who presented a complicated, confusing dish: Less is Definitely More. Yes, sir, master chef, sir!  I hear ya.

Just like cooking, each food-grade ingredient is chosen and goes in the soap pot.

Just like cooking, each food-grade ingredient is chosen and goes in the soap pot.

WARHORSE has a respect for soap artisans like Dr. Bronner's, whose family started making soap in the 1800's. There's a reason the family's classic soaps have grown into global favorites by foodies and nature lovers.

WARHORSE has a respect for traditional soap making: it enables us to use whole oils and capture all their goodness without having to add "extra"  or super refined ingredients. And when possible, we forage for suppliers close to home, in the USA, like Georgia based Solio Family Farmers. After several trips to G.A meeting the Davis brothers and the Ag Strong team, we developed a genuine respect for each other's craft and history; we shook hands with Solio, with the goal of finding a way to include their raw sunflower oil and other plant oils in our recipes.

Tawana Weicker (left) and Robert Davis (right) President and CEO of  Ag-Strong  &  Solio . 

Tawana Weicker (left) and Robert Davis (right) President and CEO of Ag-Strong & Solio

The deep, rich, gold, unrefined  Solio  sunflower oil hasn't had carotenoids, flavonoids, antioxidents stripped out. We love its seedy, earthy scent.

The deep, rich, gold, unrefined Solio sunflower oil hasn't had carotenoids, flavonoids, antioxidents stripped out. We love its seedy, earthy scent.

WARHORSE is committed to honoring Solio's beautiful oils.

Solio supplies WARHORSE with a special unrefined sunflower oil that is full bodied, deep orange oil, has fantastic sunflower wax, lecithin, carotenoids, and glorious stuff still floating around in it. WARHORSE has supreme respect for this beautiful, rich oil, and we've  teamed this hero ingredient with other oils that compliment the full-bodied sunflower oil's character and nutritional profile. Our goal is to have a soap that cleans and offers a small buffet of super food for the skin. 

WARHORSE ingredients are Non GMO evaluated, and our people, pet, and horse cleansers are Non GMO Project Verified.  EPA registered lab testing shows we have NO pesticides, metals, glyphosate in our finished products. And we're food lab tested for Gluten Free, per FDA standards.

We encourage you to open up another tab on your computer screen or mobile phone, and do some google searches on our ingredients. You'll discover why we use them. So here's our starting lineup of Non GMO ingredients in our WARHORSE Skincare Soaps:

  1. Sunflower Oil--raw and unrefined. Supplied by Solio Family Farmers. Grown in the south east. 
  2. Coconut Oil. Do I really need to cover this one? Just google it. It's all the rage!
  3. Castor Oil, USP.  
  4. Avocado Oil, Food Grade
  5. Sweet Almond Oil, Food Grade
  6. Vegetable Glycerin, USP--which means  United States Pharmacopeia, and it conforms to all the legal requirements of the FDA and that it was produced in accordance with the principles outlined in FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).  Warhorse glycerin is supplied by a certified member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil
  7. Potassium hydroxide is the only non edible ingredient that goes on the pot. All liquid soap making requires it to saponify the oils into mild soap.  Once the KOH has done its conversion, there's none left in the soap (You can find potassium hydroxide in the ashes of burned wood. Plant or animal fat was mixed with wood ashes, and that's how soap got its start thousands of years ago).
  8. Dead Sea salt
  9. Essential Oils that may include various blends of lemongrass, lavender, geranium, rosewood, tea tree, eucalyptus, spearmint, cedar wood, allspice, and vetiver.

Ok, that's it. All this goes in the pot and simmers on low for a while, pH adjusted with some Non GMO citric acid to make it perfect for the skin, and then we whisk in our proprietary essential oil blends. It's done.  See Master Chef Tom, we don't ruin a good recipe with unnecessary ingredients.

Here's some information sources and resources: Warhorse encourages you to do your own research.  

Do Not go Gentle...

My turning 50 didn't even spur a "getting older" blip. No self introspection of what I should and shouldn't do, impervious to those "What You Should Never Wear After 50" articles. That was until  I recently saw a few "ole" friends for lunch at Stone Soup, and realized that we had all spent the first 30 minutes talking about serious stuff--the state of education, retirement accounts, and getting older.  But, just as quickly as I had spiraled into an unrealistic grappling to be "forever young," I experienced a revival of living in the now--to keep moving, moving past that mirror and over to my Sean T CD's or my kayak or a Mud Run with my nephew.  And I remembered that intense "living" has nothing to do with age, it's about attitude.

 A few weeks ago, a winter's-end-blast-of-cold froze and cracked a line in our basement. Well water spewed over a chest of drawers full of old photographs.  After mopping up, I sifted through the damp collection and found this old newspaper article about my Little League baseball game,  in a long forgotten scrapbook.

Tawana baseball

Twelve years old and defiant towards my big brother and the all boys baseball league.

Now, the pigtails are gone, and my knees would probably cement if I sat behind home plate, even just for one inning.  My batting average certainly wouldn't be out of the 100's,  with Barry Bowyer's fast balls brushing me  back off the plate. 

But the memories of playing springtime baseball, of being the solo girl in the field of boys, reminds me to keep moving, to get dirty, to refuse to go gentle.

A challenge propelled me to play baseball.

I tagged along to watch my older brother try out for Little League.

Once we got to Harmon Field in Tryon, the park was a staccato rhythm of thwunking and popping of leather against leather and the dull ting of ball against aluminum.  

I stood near the fencing, sidling up beside the line of hopeful fathers, as my brother walked off, glove in hand, and quipped an end to our quiet argument: "Girls don't play baseball."

I borrowed a glove and signed my name on the try out list.  I don't know what they--boys and men--thought.  

I tapped the plate, when it was my turn.  I hit, I took infield, I threw. I ran. 

The next week, I went to my first Red Sox practice. My baseball season started.

Thirty eight years later, it's another spring, and Little League is getting ready to start. And there will certainly be youngsters throwing, hitting, running at Harmon Field, as they have for the past 75 or so years.  But other young people will be vegetating, hibernating,  over contemplating. And while many young baseball players race and rebel against the umpires' might,  we all can be a player, regardless of age, like Thomas'  "Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight."

Keep Moving!

 

 

I'd rather be a Warhorse than a Princess...

Some people think Warhorse is selling natural beauty products.  We don't. But maybe we do. I guess it depends on your definition of beauty.

Rosalind Russell, actress and classic natural beauty, is quoted as saying, "Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic."  Ok, so maybe Warhorse does support a "beauty" regime--get out and experience life, get dirty, get clean, get dirty.

My niece loves the outdoors, and surely isn't afraid of getting dirty, of exploring, of battling her big brother when he tells her she's too much of a baby to trek around with him through the woods. Let's hope she continues delving into dirt while she's growing into an educated, sophisticated, dedicated young woman.

Recently I was asked by a magazine editor for my best beauty tips. My sister laughed when she heard the voice mail message. I hit "Call Back" on my phone, and I asked if I could talk about our skin-loving Warhorse Pet Shampoo or our Hand Soap that would remove heavy grime and leave working hands soft, even with repeated use.   Cleaning tips might be better. Gardening tips? Cooking tips? Soap making tips?  Nope, the interviewer wanted beauty tips. As my sister said,  "Anyone who knows you, won't believe it." After thinking long and hard. I gave up my secret beauty tips:

                                                Eat real food. Brush your teeth.

                                             Don't look in the mirror too often.

                                                                Get Dirty.

                                                                   Move.

I don't know if my tips will make the beauty cut, but it got me to thinking...

Pretty is pretty tough to attain and maintain, isn't it?  And I would be lying through my teeth if I didn't admit that I hope my husband thinks I'm pretty. Sure, I'd be happy if Hugh Jackman, who just seems so darn nice and genuine, saw me in one of his Laughing Man coffee shops and thought, "Gee, that woman is pretty, and I like her salt-n-pepper hair."  I've been encouraged to dye my graying hair. I'm getting lots of beauty advice, lately.

Yes, beauty advice is everywhere. But I certainly have no business giving it to anyone, except maybe my definition of beauty--choices that help us be healthier and happier. The push for perfection is pervasive. And it takes a lot of time and looking in the mirror to be perfect. And please look out for the little girls who can easily slip and slide into a Princess Problem. 

Yes, I know my blog articles are marathonic...but I will continue...

I taught high school students for 15 years, and I know something about the Princess Problem--the exhausting PERFECTION journey that many of my female students chose. If you want more about the Princess Problem, check out Dr. Rebecca Hains' research on girls, women, and media.  If you want to see the Princess Problem in action, just look around--you can't miss it.

I never tell my 3-year-old niece that she's "sooooo pretty." In fact, I never comment on her appearance, because she's gonna get plenty "beauty advice." I got her a toy helicopter on her last birthday. Books of course from an English teacher. For Christmas, it was a jug of Warhorse Body Soap to clean up her little grimy hands and her dirt-stained face after her many adventures with big brother or cousins. 

If we can keep her 3 year-old sponge soaking, impressionable mind away from beauty magazines, from watching "Red Carpet" events, from Housewives of New Jersey (except as examples of too much makeup), little miss muddy hands can develop some mighty girl power, and remain unscathed by the Princess Problem.  Once she's got her own identity, then maybe she can handle teen magazines.

So what's a girl to do?

Ok, be pretty--and be pretty fun, pretty smart, pretty messy, pretty sweaty, pretty skilled, pretty aggressive, pretty kind.

Diversify. Step out of your designated gender roles and get dirty.

 

 

 

Most of the time, I keep my back turned toward the mirror, away from the "eye of  a little god, four-cornered." Sylvia Plath's poem Mirror personifies the all-powerful mirror, of how we women empower it so much, that, indeed, it does force us to "tears and agitation"--that "terrible fish" that rises towards me. I NEVER stand in front of those department store mirrors. I got to keep moving.

We Warhorses like to keep moving and and get pretty dirty from some malaria fighting bug spray and jungle funk in a Costa Rica Palo Seco mangrove filled with red snapper and crocs, from some layered sunscreen on the NC Inter Coastal Waterway, from some 26 mile marathoner sweat, from some Biltmore Estate trail riding green horse slobber, from some Myrtle Beach Harley Week grime, from some Pea Ridge back woods 4 wheeling red red mud. And we probably have to admit we want to be pretty while we do it. So we wear cool sunglasses.

Interesting sunglasses observation. I wonder if Dr. Hains' research explores how sunglasses are used in advertising, and make us feel hip, relevant, serious, tough, pretty? 

But I do need my functional "See What's Out There" Costa sunglasses when I am fighting the glare and searching for bottom hugging flounder in the shallow salt water flats at Oregon Inlet. It's just an added benefit that I imagine they help me look sexier, younger, prettier while I try to wipe the fish slime and dead minnow stink off my hand on my very chic Michael Kors camo pants.

Flounder Fishing is pretty awesome.

Marilyn's Cleaver Does It All (If you're a minimalist, get a cleaver.)

I cooked a Christmas lunch this past Saturday. I'm not sure if it was "duty" propelling me or the chance to flex my cooking muscles--proving to my sons that I could, indeed, still make some tasty dishes, cooking something besides soap.

And I pride myself on slicing, dicing, crushing, chopping, transferring all the food with one wonderful hulk of a slice of steel--my mother-in law's multi functional cleaver. I'm a minimalist sometimes. More truthfully, I can't keep a good knife in my kitchen, with all the "borrowing" that happens to prepare fish or to replace a missing flat head screwdriver--they just never get back to my knife drawer. But nobody bothers with Marilyn's Cleaver because it's not a traditional cutting utensil, apparently.

I love using things that belonged to other people who taught me something, and things that have many uses. The green tray is from my gardening guru grandmother, Lillian--used as a TV tray when we visited her and watched Gunsmoke or Gilligan's Island. The blue pitcher was given to me many years ago by my resilient sister Amanda.  The utensils are all from my mother, hand me downs from her closed-up-shop-because-I'm-sort-of-retired-bakery. When I'm finished with them, my sons can flip a coin for these family items, or toss them in a box for Goodwill. My sons may not be nostalgic about my things, and that's ok. Maybe they will covet their father's john boat, or his old tractor, or our healthy blue berry bushes (that were my grandmother's that we relocated), or our industrious wood splitter that once belonged to my grandfather. 

Marilyn's Cleaver 1

I love to cook, but I don't like to follow a recipe to the letter.  Reading a lot of different recipes, I can sometimes find a pattern and KNOW that I had better include a spice or ingredient if I want it to be good because the same ingredient is in Emeril's, or in Barefoot Contessa's, or in Alton Brown's rice pudding, for example.   I did some light reading the night before the lunch, googling information and recipes on turkey, turkey gravy, cornbread stuffing, butternut squash, fresh cranberry relish, and rice pudding.  Chef John from Food Wishes gives a low stress lesson on preparing turkey and gravy.  But I typically don't cook a traditional Southern turkey meal. So I Googled. I do know how to make my mother's sweet potato souffle, but I still refuse to turn sweet potatoes into buttery mush and then cover with marshmallows. I just can't do it--ruin a good super food with too sweet mountains of Ghost Buster Giant Marshmallows...

I love to watch interesting people talk about interesting things when I cook. I've been watching some of the recent meteorite shower and decided to see what astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson had been up to lately while I cooked lunch. But a dose of Anthony Bourndain while I cook--soap and food--is inspirational. He just lets go with his "reporting," and it pushes me to let go with all conformity and fear and formal recipes. So I Googled deGrasse Tyson AND Bourdain.  Oh my gosh, a Star Talk episode with Anthony Bourdain.

So while I chopped my onions and onions and onions, and celery and carrots and onions with Marilyn's Cleaver, which was also used by her mother, and while I sliced the venison tenderloin with Marilyn's cleaver, while I whittled away at broccoli stalks with Marilyn's Cleaver, and crushed and chopped garlic, fresh sage and my rosemary (started from my mother's rosemary bush) with Marilyn's Cleaver, I heard Neal ask Anthony what he thought about all the wave of kitchen gadgets. Bourdain replied, "In almost every case, they are completely worthless. This salad shooter...Is cutting lettuce soooo hard? ...Something cutting onions for you is completely insane...two good knives...is all you need, a cutting board, a few heavy pans...there's very little that you can't do."

Well, surely you can see my euphoria--Marilyn's Cleaver could do it all in my kitchen. And Bourdain would approve! Marilyn's Cleaver prepared the entire my-sons-are-working-on-Xmas holidays-so-I-cooked-early-holiday-lunch.

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Somebody butchered the turkey with Marilyn's Cleaver...

Somebody butchered the turkey with Marilyn's Cleaver...

Emeril, Alton Brown, and Barefoot Contessa, and my mother's rice pudding recipe with a twist. I used my Kitchen Aid whisk and ice cold metal bowl to show my sons and future daughter-in-laws how their mixers will work...the ones that are being Fed Ex delivered from Amazon on Dec. 24.   I hope long after I am gone, they will still be whisking away, ignoring recipes and trying something different.

Emeril, Alton Brown, and Barefoot Contessa, and my mother's rice pudding recipe with a twist. I used my Kitchen Aid whisk and ice cold metal bowl to show my sons and future daughter-in-laws how their mixers will work...the ones that are being Fed Ex delivered from Amazon on Dec. 24. 

I hope long after I am gone, they will still be whisking away, ignoring recipes and trying something different.

Here's a link to the de Grasse Tyson and Bourdain food discussion: Star Talk

I really enjoyed the interesting food talk science, cultural and food history, and the always present Bourdain frankness. The hybrid rice pudding recipe was the final pre-Christmas-lunch-Aahhhh-dish, showcasing finely chopped Ghirardelli chocolate and split, red juice spitting pomegranates. However, the lunch star behind the curtain was Marilyn's Cleaver.

Marilyn and her mother, Angie. Chicago, Illinois, 194O's.

Marilyn and her mother, Angie. Chicago, Illinois, 194O's.




Buck's Tiller

The year end holidays are often a time to reflect, to remember those who are no longer with us.  But sometimes these people are with us just like the seasons, or with us during some ritual undertaking or task, or using something that once was used by them. Sometimes a special belonging can somehow possess their intentions and their goodness. Today, we plowed our onion garden with Buck's tiller, and my mentor and friend was there as well.

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This is Buck, also known as Philip L. Preston, Mr. Preston, Mr. Buck, The Buckster...and other names that his senior Polk County High students named him.  I worked with Buck for 14 years as a fellow English teacher at Polk. Buck taught English for 42 years, pushing students to explore Shakespeare and Fitzgerald, to write well, to work through their knuckleheadedness and turn to newly discovered endeavors.  Early in his teaching career, Buck was a whitewater rafting guide on the James River and taught Outdoor Education like Outward Bound. Clearly, he is a Renaissance Man.  

 

This is Buck and one of his grandsons. Fishing was a religious experience for Buck, and he shared it with his family or in meditative Outer Banks solitude, alone with rod and reel, salty wind, and lapping water.  On a Monday, after he had spent the weekend with his grandchildren, Buck would recount some hilarious episode and his narrative would conclude with a deep laugh so intense that it was clear he was reliving it again, although miles and many hours separated him from the event.

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 In the classroom, Buck challenged my eldest son and thousands of seniors to write clearly and concisely, often seemingly painful dissections and deconstructions of Hamlet's iambic pentameter speeches or Fitzgerald's poetic prose about Gatsby's desire about the future "...the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—"  Imagine the task of writing a well developed paragraph about the connotations and thematic significance of this!  But, Buck was able to inspire and snare the bored boys in his classroom with his introductory stories of a door mat flounder on 5 lb test line, or a blitz of voracious chopper blue fish that gorged themselves on bait fish and regurgitated so they could eat more, and Outer Banks sharks taking his silvered sea trout that was intended for the evening's dinner. Buck even had hunting stories, rafting stories, soccer stories. And most of his resistant writers relented, caved in, and dug into Gatsby's foreign world.

 

This is Buck's Craftsman tiller. I bought it from him years ago, before he moved on to other fishing waters, while we both were teaching English, while we were telling our stories to our captive students.

I love this tiller because it was his, because it tilled his beloved annual summer garden. Now it tills my garden. And today it got a new spark plug to soften its sputtering cough, and it crumbled the hardened chocolate dirt between my winter green onions. Buck's tiller is a talisman, a gardening ritual and symbol. This tiller is a grinding, churning symbol that we all, Buck's family and me too, can continue to push on, to plow hardened ground, to be resilient.  I was visiting Western Carolina University last week, and standing in line at McDonald's to get a cup of coffee, I saw Buck's great nephew Cole Preston. I taught Cole in senior English where we dissected and deconstructed Coelho's  The Alchemist  and O'Brien's  The Things We Carried . Great novels can teach us that their characters' journeys are often our own. And I have often thought about this Preston too, hoping he was plowing on, churning up the ground in front of him, learning to balance all the things he carries.  Cole and I both agreed that Buck is sorely missed.  I also have Buck's teaching copy of The Great Gatsby, with his handwritten notes and insightful commentary. Not surprisingly, Buck has underlined the last passage, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."  Just as Nick asserts in the conclusion of  The Great Gatsby , Buck and I too understand that the past is part of the future.  Buck has left the classroom, moving on to new fishing grounds, I imagine.

I love this tiller because it was his, because it tilled his beloved annual summer garden. Now it tills my garden. And today it got a new spark plug to soften its sputtering cough, and it crumbled the hardened chocolate dirt between my winter green onions. Buck's tiller is a talisman, a gardening ritual and symbol. This tiller is a grinding, churning symbol that we all, Buck's family and me too, can continue to push on, to plow hardened ground, to be resilient.

I was visiting Western Carolina University last week, and standing in line at McDonald's to get a cup of coffee, I saw Buck's great nephew Cole Preston. I taught Cole in senior English where we dissected and deconstructed Coelho's The Alchemist and O'Brien's The Things We Carried. Great novels can teach us that their characters' journeys are often our own. And I have often thought about this Preston too, hoping he was plowing on, churning up the ground in front of him, learning to balance all the things he carries.  Cole and I both agreed that Buck is sorely missed.

I also have Buck's teaching copy of The Great Gatsby, with his handwritten notes and insightful commentary. Not surprisingly, Buck has underlined the last passage, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."  Just as Nick asserts in the conclusion of The Great Gatsby, Buck and I too understand that the past is part of the future.  Buck has left the classroom, moving on to new fishing grounds, I imagine.

Anyone besides me craving a good tomato sandwich?

Anyone besides me craving a good tomato sandwich?

Not just any ole tomato sandwich. My husband tilled the ground and planted the tomato plants. Collected rainwater and soaker hoses delivered water. I pulled the weeds out and picked off the horn worms.  We gather tomatoes daily now.  We eat them daily. There's a reason this simple tomato sandwich is open faced--so I the sweet slices of Cherokee Purple and Early Girl and crunchy flakes of Icelandic sea salt and zingy Indian peppercorns hit my taste buds at the same time.

Warhorse Soap Does a Body Good- Just About Any Body.

So why do we need a soap, a cleaner? Maybe you don't. If you lounge on the couch all day, watching UNC EX travel shows or Youtube out on Elton John concerts or follow Anthony Bourdain to Croatia, Brazil, and New Orleans (I've done this a few times), you can even skip a shower or just stand and let good ole water do its thing. What's to clean?  Water will work if you've got a light dusting. But, on most days, In our family, we get dirty. Some of us get very dirty.

         My husband Carl has a dirty job, and likes it. In fact, he wears his grime like a badge of honor.

         My husband Carl has a dirty job, and likes it. In fact, he wears his grime like a badge of honor.

Many people thrive on dirty work and dirty play--outdoor jobs and careers that take us up close and personal with dirt, grease, grime, sweat, and the elements. And our out of the doors pursuits like fishing, golfing, hiking, gardening, dirt bike racing are fun. In fact, many of us LOVE dirt. It's the result, the evidence of our moving, our living, and our passions. And at the end of the day, or maybe the next day even, we clean up so we can go out and do it all again. 

Mud runs are fun and popular. If you want to see what Euphoria looks like, it's on their faces.  These former Polk High track athletes and their coach ain't afraid of little dirt. 

Mud runs are fun and popular. If you want to see what Euphoria looks like, it's on their faces.  These former Polk High track athletes and their coach ain't afraid of little dirt. 

Warhorse makes true glycerin soap.  It's a pretty old process, been around for thousands of years. Here's a few sources if you want to know the historical journey of soap: Dr Bronner gives a good overview of soap making (I love Bronner's tenacity for transparency and fair trade), and The US Cleaning Institute really gets into the history of soaps and the rise of detergents.

Warhorse makes cleansers using this ancient saponification method. ! Do your own research on our ingredient list and you'll discover all the skin loving good stuff that's in the bottle.

We don't have to add lots of extra micro nutrients in our soaps (like lecithin, B5, essential fatty acids, vitamins) because they're already in there. It's called Minimally Processed.  It's a buffet of super food for the skin.

We don't have to add lots of extra micro nutrients in our soaps (like lecithin, B5, essential fatty acids, vitamins) because they're already in there. It's called Minimally Processed.  It's a buffet of super food for the skin.

         This big guy has been working.  He got a bath in Warhorse shampoo too--body, mane, tail.

         This big guy has been working.  He got a bath in Warhorse shampoo too--body, mane, tail.

Barn chores are necessary for people who have animals, and some of us love doing them. It's a treat to clean up at the end of the day and rest so we can get up and do it again.  One soap can do your body and mane too.

Barn chores are necessary for people who have animals, and some of us love doing them. It's a treat to clean up at the end of the day and rest so we can get up and do it again.  One soap can do your body and mane too.

 Skin is a protective organ and what you put on it can help it do what it needs to do, or interfere. Cleansers that use minimally processed ingredients might simplify your cleansing and "beauty" regime, doing more with less. Works for head to toe cleaning. And as I have discovered, sometimes a day without exerting any sweat might just require some cleansing water. 

Warhorse: Persnickety Soap Science

 My home kitchen is where I often experiment with newly foraged ingredients --today my stove is a collection of local farmer grown, seedy, sweet grass smelling sunflower and canola oils, steel pots, pH meters, infra red temp gun. My husband was quite dismayed there wasn't something edible on the stove, other than a new version of  a gold soap.  Seriously, we test taste our soap to see if it's "done."

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I love exploring, just like many of our fellow Warhorses. I've got a new customer who LOVES the Body Wash and is packing it in her suitcase next week for her archeological dig in Jerusalem. I'm so jealous because being an archeologist is one of my bucket list dreams--inspired by Raiders of the Lost Arc.  Happy Diggin' Christine!

Here at Warhorse, we're sort of archeologists too--foraging and searching for a new local ingredient or source of raw materials that can make something awesome--effective and kind products that perform in an unusual way. Warhorse just got shout out by Cloverfield Vet staff--How does your Warhorse Multi Purpose Cleaning Soap make our own skin feel so soft and moisturized too after we mop our dried out hard wood floors, clean our  walls and kennels? We hear this often. From men too!

We love it when a group of men washing fire trucks, their turnout gear, and their firehouse floors and kitchen say their hands feel soft after all that cleaning. It's pretty exciting to see a bunch of guys getting all hyped up about our cleaning solution. Our Warhorse Multi Purpose dark stuff is indeed naturally aggressive and fiercely kind.  

If you want more info about skin and fatty acids, visit the link above. Gets into intense skin science.

If you want more info about skin and fatty acids, visit the link above. Gets into intense skin science.