Monday, December 30, 2013

Nothing COMMON About A Damn Cold!

Every year shortly after Christmas I come down with a cold.  First my throat begins to hurt. Next I start sneezing.  Not just a sneeze here and a sneeze there.  Oh, no, a damn sneeze every where!  And not just one sneeze.  Yesterday I sneezed eighteen times in a row.  I  counted them!

Then my nose starts to run.  Clear substance drips without warning out of my nostrils.  At first, out of only one, but then both take turns.  After that, one nostril gets all stuffy.  I can't breathe normally.  In an hour or so, both nostrils are stuffed and I'm only breathing through my mouth now. Naturally my mouth gets dry so I drink whatever will moisten it.  Because of all the liquid, I need to go to the bathroom constantly. And I mean CONSTANTLY!

Oh, and did I mention the coughing?  It begins with an occasional hack.  Then a more pronounced hack.  From that it develops into a full-blown, elongated wheezing hack that shakes my whole body. Those kind make my head throb.

Back to the nose problem.  Now the substance I'm trying to blow out is thick mucous the shade of a motley yellow-green mix.  I say trying because it just doesn't come out with the normal nose-blowing action.  I have to close one nostril with my finger, then blow, and hopefully a tad of that crap will release and slither out into the tissue.  I must repeat his process over and over and over again to gain a little relief.  But just when I think I'm slowly returning to some degree of health, the other nostril fills up with that junk and I'm screwed.

How to get rid of the common cold that is anything but COMMON when I'm the one suffering with it?  Well, by all means, get dressed, put on my winter wear and drive to the nearest pharmacy.  Of course, while in the car, I'm hacking, sneezing, and can't breathe at all.  Passing out behind the wheel before I reach my destination is a real possibility. Hell, dying in a car accident at this point seems heavenly compared to what this damn cold is doing to me.

I go into the drugstore and find the cold remedy aisle.  If I took the time to count all the bottles, tablets, gels, caplets, and syrups that are there, I'd probably fall over and not be found until Spring.  Perhaps the best solution compared to anything offered on the shelves.  Matter of fact I'm sure of it!

So I grab something that promises relief from sore throat, persistent coughing, nasal stuffiness and constant sneezing.  WOW, I've hit the mother lode! I pay a pile of cash and head out the door with a light-hearted feeling that very soon my cold will be history.

Once home, I swallow three times the recommended dose and wait.  Nothing happens.  In less than two hours, I down four times the recommended dose and wait.  Still nothing.  Finally, in utter desperation, I drink the rest of the foul-tasting crap and wait.  NOTHING!

After four more long days of sheer torture, I begin to see a dim light at the end of the tunnel.  My sneezing has subsided, my coughing is less, the mucous is now back to a clear substance, and no more sore throat.

Seven days of pure agony.  Nothing I did or could have done helped in any way shape or form to reduce the pain.  But finally, my damn cold is gone.  And believe me, nothing was COMMON about it! 

A note to the medical profession:  When you don't have the answer to a physical ailment, just say so.
But, please don't just give it a title like the COMMON COLD and wash your hands of it!  Although washing my hands continually probably would have been the answer to my COMMON COLD in the first place!

Happy New Year, everybody!

Monday, December 23, 2013

I Wish You Well

In a recent email, my one and only granddaughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  I replied that the health and happiness of my family and peace in the world would be the greatest gifts I could ever receive on this special holiday.  She shot back a second time.  "No, Grammy, I meant what 'real' presents were you hoping for this Christmas?"

Now granted Brenna is only eight years old.  Her idea of  'real' is formulated from what we've taught her over the years.  Rattles, blocks, pull-along toys were her first 'real' gifts  Then came Barbies, a doll house, Candyland and such.  Last year she and her brother received the Wii and several games to go with it.  And this Christmas, Brenna will be opening a point and shot camera, earrings from Greece, and the hands-on version of the internet's Bejeweled.

I'm not surprised at all by what 'real' means to an eight year old.  I'm sixty-nine.  I have no need for any material gifts.  Don't get me wrong, whatever my family generously affords me will be certainly appreciated.  But, as I sit in my living room and gaze at the sparkling tree, the blazing fire, and my furry companion, Shadow, I feel completely at peace.  I'm in good health as is my hubby; we don't have a mortgage, our bills are paid, and we can come and go as we please.  All is well here.

Hence, my wish for my family and everybody in this world is the same peace, health and happiness that my husband and I hold dear.  To me, these are the 'real' gifts every person longs for.  Perhaps until they realize that these are the 'real' presents needed to satisfy their hungry souls, all will continue to experience the let-down that inevitably follows Christmas Day.

Not to worry though.  As you grow older, material things will matter less and less.  And one day they won't matter at all. 

Peace, Health, and Happiness.  I wish you well.


Monday, December 16, 2013


The high for today in Pittsburgh is 25 degrees.  If you factor in the wind chill, it's 12 degrees. To you folks in Minnesota, our temps this time of year are probably considered balmy.  But to me, brrrrrr, is the only adjective that qualifies.  I'm cold and I hate to be cold. I hate to be hot as well, but cold, I just can't tolerate.

So I'd like to stay inside by the fireplace and read all day.  Yet, because our microwave died yesterday, I'll be traipsing around the area looking for a replacement.  That means bundling up, driving all over God's creation with my irritated and irritating hubby to find that special deal.  I'll have to get out of the car and into the cold umpteen times.  Then once finally warmed up in each store, once again, I'll be thrust into winter's blast until I reach the car which will probably be parked in the last spot of the lot. 

Even though we liked the make, style and price of the first microwave we saw today, we definitely won't buy it.  Why?  Because my hubby believes we need to search far and wide for that perfect deal that he knows exists somewhere out there!  After 4 hours or so , we inevitably will return to store #1 and purchase the very first one we saw.  

I will be ticked off, hungry, and tired.  But mostly, I'll be cold!  And not just bodily.  By this time, speaking to my hubby won't be happening.  Grunts and head nods will be the only communication he'll be lucky enough to receive from me for a while.  He will notice a chill in the air and it won't be the result of the outside temperature. 

Things between us will remain icy at least until the new microwave is installed so I can get back to cooking the modern way!  Brrrr!!!!!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Never Made Christmas Cookies With My Mother

Yesterday I began making Christmas cookies for the upcoming holiday.  As I  measured the flour, chopped nuts, and formed dough into one inch balls, something strange popped into my head.  I never made Christmas cookies with my mother.  Never, not once did she share that commonly-practiced loving bond of tradition with me.  And now, of course since her passing, we will never have that opportunity.

So I asked myself "why" didn't we ever measure flour, chop nuts, and form dough into one inch balls together those many years ago?  Or "why" didn't we roll dough and cut out angels, Santas, and stars together in her kitchen? 

I can only conjecture at this point.  But since we lived with my Baba and Zedo in their house, the holiday baking occurred in my grandmother's kitchen. Baba and my mother did all the baking.  They made nut and poppyseed rolls together; they shaped dough into squares and filled them with fine fruits which we called "kolachi," together, and they filled and fried dough then dusted them with powdered sugar together.  They talked, complained and laughed about life together.  Their mother and daughter bond became stronger and stronger as heavenly aromas floated through the air and golden brown delights were pulled from the oven.

I wish I would have experienced that holiday togetherness with my mother, too.  It would have been a chance for us to become closer and share stories that remained untold. It would have provided me with tales I could now share with my own daughters and my grandchildren as well.

But, if I sound resentful, I'm not.  It's not that our parents and grandparents didn't love and care for us, it's just that our place in the family structure for the most part was one of dependency.  They birthed us, and they fed, clothed, and housed us.  Words like "nurturing and bonding" were never used. How could they have been?  Nobody had ever heard of them before.  We were to do our chores, stay out of trouble, and pretty much stay out of the way.  So inviting their children to make Christmas cookies simply wasn't a consideration. 

As I continued baking my holiday specialties, something else occurred to me.  I never made Christmas cookies with my own children.  At first, I thought them to be to young to engage in the intricacies of baking.  Then, I usually did my baking when they were in school.  I could focus more clearly when they were out of the house and have the peace and quiet I absolutely loved during the otherwise hubbub of  holiday preparations.  After school, my children couldn't wait to change clothes and either dash outside to go sledding with friends or bring those friends inside for a rousing game of monopoly.  Although "nurturing and bonding" were definitely words in my vocabulary, strangely enough I never associated them with making Christmas cookies.

So I wonder if my own children wished we could have experienced that holiday togetherness in my kitchen. A time when we could have talked, complained, and laughed about life while measuring flour, chopping nuts, and rolling dough into one inch balls.  Do they resent the fact that they were never included in that loving traditional bonding?  I intend to ask them if they do and attempt to explain myself as clearly as possible. 

I know my daughters bake Christmas cookies with their children and have been doing so since the kids were very little.  They tell me about all the fun they have and are proud to display their decorated creations.  The words "nurturing and bonding" are now not only known and used by their mothers, but certainly practiced as well.  Their children will have wonderful memories of baking Christmas cookies and of the stories that were told while doing so.  They will long remember the nurturing and bonding they felt in their mothers' kitchens as adults and most probably hand down that glorious tradition to their children, too.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cha-Ching! Let the Christmas Chaos Begin(g)!

With the Thanksgiving turkey not yet emulsified in their stomach juices, the throng of holiday shoppers were out the door, on the road, and in the stores in record time.  Heck, many of them passed on the traditional meal entirely electing to sit on the pavement for 8 to 10 hours BEFORE any of the Big Box stores officially opened.  Just so they could get their grubby little paws on the latest tech devises, hot list toys, or must-have gadgets of the year!

A Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death by a crazed group in New York trying to be first to secure "God-knows-what" that they simply had to have!  Even taking a person's life was obviously worth it in this sad case.

I've lived enough Christmases to know that the shopping frenzy experienced by many from Thanksgiving eve thru Saturday morn is ridiculous.  I have always purchased presents well before this madness, gotten the same if not better prices, and had absolutely no confrontations in doing so.  I also had the time to check on whether or not everything was in working order and exchange something without aggravation.

No, I'm not trying to toot my own horn here.  I'm trying to let people see how preseason advertising manipulates them into being and doing what they would not normally be and do.  The constant TV and newspaper bombardment of Thanksgiving Eve and  Black Friday sales causes usually clear-thinking individuals to strap on their credit card weaponry and engage in unbecoming purchasing warfare.  They are driven. They can't stop themselves, addicted to the "cha-ching" of the cash register doling out unimaginable discounts.  Most are totally unaware of the chaos surrounding them and the ones that are aware just don't give a damn.

On Saturday afternoon, I walked into a practically deserted Target to buy a few groceries.  When finished, I calmly perused the toy section.  The shelves still held the coveted sale items with the same coveted sale prices. Admittedly the aisles were a tad messy, but anybody looking for that special something would have had no trouble finding it.

At the check-out, I talked to a beleaguered sales associate who looked like she'd just engaged in battle.  Actually, she said she had.   She told of the terrible behavior she'd witnessed over the last twelve hours or so.  Her Christmas spirit was totally spent well before Christmas had even arrived. 

Instead of beautiful holiday music, the only thing ringing in this young woman's  ears was the "cha-ching" of the cash register and the wild chaos in the aisles.  Bah humbug!