The Purity Survival Guide

Tip #1: How to make a thumb splint from comfort food

_DSC8890When I think of comfort food, my mind gloms onto Cyrus O’Leary’s Chocolate Cream Pie. Then I think of The Purity. Before I know it, I’ve grabbed my car keys and it doesn’t matter if I’m in my pajamas, I’m on my way to the store.

A recent surgery to remove a hooty from my left thumb placed me in need of a mild sedative, daytime sofa lounging and comfort food. Forty-eight hours into recovery, I went to The Purity to buy a chocolate cream pie. A couple of hours after returning home, I had an epiphany—in addition to putting heft on my backside and a few dabs of plaque on my arteries, that pie could save my life.

thumb2I’d been instructed to remove the impressive-looking thumb wrapping two days after surgery. I hesitated. That covering made me look like I’d been through something horrendous and garnered much sympathy.

People exclaimed, “What happened to you?” I’d respond with a dismissive wave, “Oh it’s nothing” when it was truly something. I’d had surgery! My thumb throbbed in pain. It throbbed! All the attention made me feel like a warrior woman—so brave and strong.

If I replaced the wrapping with a couple of wimpy latex bandages, nobody would even notice. I would suffer in silence.

I obeyed the doctor’s orders and took off the bandage. My thumb, forgetting it had a major gash running the entire topside length, started to bend. Up to that point in my life, I’d not given much thought to how it might feel to have a nail driven through my left thumb knuckle.

Now I know.

PieI needed to splint the back of the thumb to prevent it from bending and tearing the stitches. But I had no splint or substitute. As I mulled over a solution, I pulled the chocolate cream pie from the refrigerator and started eating. Whatever chemicals—I mean, natural ingredients—they put in these pies to supercharge brain matter allowed me to come up with a brilliant idea.

In case you ever find yourself in a similar situation, let me share my step-by-step instructions:

1. Buy a Cyrus O’Leary’s Chocolate Cream Pie (or any other variety, but chocolate cream is the best).
2. Have surgery on or do some serious damage to your thumb.
3. Write some gibberish on your hand with purple permanent ink. (Mine vaguely resembles the former USSR flag or an upside down Ritual Coffee logo.) (If anyone asks, say it’s a tattoo you got in the 80’s while in prison.) (After a certain age people stop talking about you, so it’s imperative to devise new and interesting ways to keep yourself an object of gossip.)thumb3
4. Take the cardboard thingy off the pie. (I’m certain it has a name, but who cares?) Cut off the front section.Pie2
5. Fold it a few times.
6. Apply it to the back of your injured thumb.thumb4
7. Place some gauze on top of the wound.
8. Wrap tape around the whole caboodle.thumb9
9. Enjoy your new hokey—yet still impressive—bandage and the attention you’ll receive for another week until you go to get the stitches out and the doctor asks what the hell…?
10. Eat one Cyrus O’Leary’s Chocolate Cream Pie a day until you’re completely healed.

After I'm finished with this pie, I'm out the door to go buy another!

After I’m finished with this pie, I’m out the door to buy another!

Yee Haw! Let’s Rodeo!


Photo courtesy Henrietta Wade

For nearly 50 years, the Shoreline Riders of Fort Bragg, California have hosted an annual rodeo. In my 21 years of living here, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never attended. In fact, I’d never been to any rodeo until last Sunday when I strong-armed my friend Marcia and her eight-year old granddaughter Mackenzie into letting me tag along.

In the car, Mackenzie got me hyped up over the promise of visiting the petting zoo. Upon our arrival at the rodeo, her grandma took her to see the baby animals while I waited for a hamburger at the concession stand. (I wanted to get food before the events started so I wouldn’t miss a thing.)

When I joined them, Mackenzie was cradling a tiny black piglet in her arms. It could not have been more than a few weeks old. Its brown litter mate was held by another child. As both kids begged to take the piglets home, I took a moment to peruse the “zoo.”


Disclaimer: Far be it from me to judge anyone who expends the energy to put together a petting zoo.

If I hosted one, it would be located inside the plastic hoop house that covers my raised vegetable beds. The humidity that drips off the ceiling creates a mini-rain forest environment which would add an educational component to the experience.

My petting animals would include:


Little Mr. & rodent

  • One deaf 14.75-year old black dog with a three-pound fatty tumor on his right side.
  • A belligerent 9-year old gray cat.
  • Whatever half-eaten furry rodents the cat could supply.

I would not charge an entrance fee, but for fifty cents you could view the tattoo on the inside of my left ankle. For a dollar more, I’d take you on a tour of The Purity Market.


The Shoreline Riders Rodeo petting zoo was designated by a temporary wire fence erected on a patch of dirt and consisted of:

  • The aforementioned super cute piglets.
  • A small raggedy sheep that was lying down, avoided eye contact and gave off the aura that it could never be coaxed to stand.
  • Two pigmy goats that had the psycho look of extreme post-traumatic stress disorder and tried to make themselves invisible by hunkering down behind a bale of hay.
  • A large predatory-looking rooster that no child wanted to touch.
  • A denim-clad, cowboy-booted elderly rancher.

After a few minutes, it was time to head to the stands and take in my first rodeo. I asked the rancher where to leave the piglet.

“Just put it in the bucket.” He pointed to a five-gallon recycled paint bucket that held a few handfuls of hay.

Really? Put the piglet in that bucket? Really?!?

How about I put it in my purse and take it to the SPCA?

I took a deep breath.

I was there to enjoy my first rodeo—not to bring the law down on the poor petting zoo rancher. The piglet went into the bucket where it stayed for about 10 seconds before another child scooped it up. I urged Mackenzie out of the area and into the stands.

The petting zoo left me emotionally scarred. Fortunately the bulk of my life is behind me, so I only have to suffer this particular trauma for the next two or three decades.

Photo courtesy Shoreline Riders

Photo courtesy Shoreline Riders

The rodeo, on the other hand, was filled with excitement: bucking bulls attempting to crush their riders, women expertly steering their horses in arcs around barrels, cowboys flying through the air and landing hard to tie down calves, and the horses—the beautiful horses that were so impeccably partnered with their riders.

Not having been to a rodeo before, I didn’t know how to behave. I loudly oohed and awed, shrieked and cheered. The woman sitting on my left was rather stoic and drank a lot of beer. I hope it was because she was enjoying her afternoon—or that she was an alcoholic. I hope it wasn’t to dull the pain of sitting next to me.

I highly recommend the Shoreline Riders Rodeo. I’m definitely going next year. In the meantime, I just might buy me a cowgirl hat and pair of boots.

Yes, Jessica—a pair of red boots.cowgirlboots