This week…

This week been the same old same old.  It’s rained, the bean finally visited the doctor, and it’s rained some more.  She had developed a slight (nothing terrible in the labs, according to the doctor) secondary infection, for which he administered antibiotics.  She’s still got the bronchitis, of course.  The never-ending cough is still a vital part of our days and nights.

Her doctor congratulated her on not rushing in, praised her choice of OTC meds (thanks, Doc – you trained her well), and told her she’d been very patient.

So here we are, amid the storms, the rain, and the coughing, just waiting.

Sometimes, there’s just nothing to do but be patient and wait.

When your Bean gets sick

Not just a little sick.  Sick as in the immoveable elephant standing on your chest sick, and making a barking like a most annoyed seal who can’t get a decent breath sick. And said annoyed seal has an entire band of equally annoyed seal friends, all barking and hacking away, accompanied by the dreadful death rattle.  Ugly sick.

Yup, that’s what happened to my Bean.  Fortunately, we have a new in-house nurse (Smidge is recently licensed), trained to deal with problems such as this that come up.  Smidge feeds Bean her meds, doling them out carefully and at the proper times, ensures that she stayes hydrated, fixes her foods, and even used Bean’s credit card to order more meds, chicken soup, and even food to feed the old cat, who seemed to need food for some reason, maybe staying alive.  For a new nurse,  Smidge has done a great job.

Everyone gets sick.  Some get over illnesses quickly and easily, others are laid low for much longer.  A cold that generally lasts a week or so in most can linger for more than a month or mutate into something more serious in others. Some people deny illness and attempt to push through, others either can’t do that or prefer to give in and feed the illness.  I don’t think there is one right way or one wrong way to deal with illness.  After all, despite the misery of that so-called common cold, one can’t rush off to demand antibiotics from the doctor.  In the first place, antibiotics don’t work on viruses, which is what causes a cold or bronchitis.  In the second place, the overuse of antibiotics in our country is what has caused some resistant super-bugs to develop and threaten our medical treatment options.

People were urging Bean to go to the doctor, suggesting she needed antibiotics for dire conditions (other than the Bronchitis she’s had about 40+ times in her life and recognizes) such as pneumonia or “walking pneumonia.” Bean has remained steadfast in her refusal to go ask for drugs, reminding everyone she had no fever, so highly unlikely that she had any type of infection and doctors could do nothing except recommend the same over-the-counter drugs they had in the past that she’s already taking.  On TV news tonight, they were again talking about this issue of overprescribed antibiotics.

So while Bean is still hack-hack-hacking away, and pretty doggone miserable,  she insists she’s doing the right thing, and we support her.

The good news is that, after a full week of this, she’s still alive (albeit still sick as the proverbial band of barking seals) and we dollies are all still virus free. Second lovely fact: none of her friends’ computers have caught her virus either!


When grown-ups forget they are

This week, one of my contemporaries, a wee Dollie who recently came to live at our house, felt compelled to remind her former housemate – a grown up – that he wasn’t being very grown up when he called another Dollie a mean name.  He is the grown-up, and so he apologized for the not-nice name that he called the Dollie, and he was promptly forgiven. Good-O!

OK, so this is not quite my usual column, but the episode reminded me that grown ups make mistakes, just like kids do  at times.  It happens because we are human, and at times our better judgment is overcome by our not so grown-up selves.  But just like kids who do something wrong, grown ups need to acknowledge that what they said or did was wrong – basically own up to their mistakes – so the wronged one can forgive them and move on.  It’s really all about how we handle our mistakes that shows our maturity and good judgment, the very elements that make us grown-ups in the first place.

For example, if someone engages in name-calling, the rules of politeness dictate that they should stop the negative behavior and say they’re sorry, not keep on calling names.  If they tell a false-hood about someone, they should say they were wrong to lie about another and apologize to that person for saying it in the first place and to any others to whom they told the false-hood to correct the wrong.  If they say something that they believed at first was true, changed their mind, and then said that something else was actually true, it’s OK because everyone changes their mind at some time or another.  But, when they insist that the new truth was the first truth and lie about that in the process…well, if we change our minds, we need to acknowledge that we changed our minds, not pretend we never said that first untruth, particularly in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Does any of this sound familiar?  *sigh*


Today, we remembered 9/11 and the people who died or were affected by the dreadful actions taken against our country.  Four planes, two that hit the Twin Towers, one that hit the Pentagon, and one plane downed in Pennsylvania, a plane whose passengers turned into heroes when they fought back against those determined to injure even more people, changed our country’s sense of security forever.

It is sad – heartbreaking – to realize how many died or were injured in this attack and the aftermath.  It’s truly overwhelming to think about. But it’s important to remember that from the tragedy, many heroes rose up, men and women who stood up to the challenges of the moment, and fearlessly and bravely entered the rubble and the fires to rescue, remove, and treat the injured and wounded, many at the cost of their own lives. Some were trained firefighters, police, and hospital personnel.  Others were just citizens, simply there in that moment and ready to jump in and serve their fellow man.

It’s difficult to imagine the losses that came out of that terrible day.  It’s hard to imagine how those who were personally affected by losses from the attack have coped with them.  They are unimaginable, and not a single life can be replaced.  The country grieves with them.

But it’s also important to remember that, on that day, in that moment and in the days, weeks, and months that followed, we came together as a nation, and we stood firmly against what tried to take us down.

We must not forget what happened that day, or the amazing heroes and their sacrifices on our behalf, but we also must remember what we learned about uniting and standing together in the face of enemies who would bring us down.

Replaced by a memorial within their footprint, the towers may be gone but they will never be forgotten.  Our country’s people still stand tall in their stead.

We remain a nation united, whose spirit will never falter nor fall.



I SCREAM (for ice cream)

When people you care about most get sick, really sick; when you can’t stand Tom, Dick, or Harry; when you’ve already borrowed from both Peter and Paul; when your kid runs amok – again; when everything goes to pot (including the kid); when the political candidate you bet the farm on slips in the manure pile; when hell starts to look like the place you’d prefer to set up housekeeping….  When it’s hotter than H*E*double-hockey sticks, there is ICE CREAM…smooth, creamy, cold, delicious. Basically, when all else fails, there’s always ice cream.

Freeze your tongue, throat, brain, and the world.  Ice cream is perfect for all occasions.  When your little league team lost and it was your fault?  Ice cream.  Your best friend suddenly had a new and different best friend, not you.  Ice cream.  That terrible sore throat after you had your tonsils out?  Ice cream – all you could eat!  When you lost the spelling bee.  Ice cream.  When you won the spelling bee.  Ice cream. When your cone tipped and dumped the precious frozen stuff on the sidewalk and Uncle Bill said, no problem, and bought you another.  When your mom and dad got divorced but your dad still took you out in the middle of winter for ice cream.  Made you feel better, even if only for a little while. Those were the days, the most perfect of childhood days.

Some folks swear that one flavor makes you feel better than others.  I think the world may be divided along chocolate v. vanilla lines.  Cone or cup. Dipped or not.  With or without sprinkles.  Who cares?

A friend told me that her family used to go out every Saturday night for hamburgers when she was a kid.  There were only three of them, mother, father, and little girl, and they frequented one of the original drive-in burger joints (way before the arches came to town) that also had soft-serve ice cream.  As in REAL ice cream, not yogurt or some made-up synthetic stuff.

That ice cream was good stuff, made with real ingredients, and not at all like the cheap iced-up junk they serve these days.  The burgers were (she thinks) $ .10 and delicious, but they simply didn’t matter.  Finishing the burger was just the prelude, an appetizer.  The cones started at 5 cents and went up to 25 cents.  The treat was to get the 5 cent cone.  And it was good, very good, but she really wanted more.  She begged and pleaded to be able to have a larger cone.  They placated her with the 10 cent one, then the 15 cent one, but she wanted the big one.  The prize 25 cent cone.

You’ll never finish it, her frugal parents said.  But she kept asking, and finally, one day, her dad bought her the biggest cone they had.  As regulars, the owner had a soft heart for the little girl, and didn’t bother to weigh the cone as his wife would have done.  This was the deluxe, super-duper, gigantic, whopper of a cone.  But a quarter was a lot of money back in the 1950’s, and she wasn’t about to waste one single lick.  She didn’t want it dipped – she was a purist, and dipping would spoiled the rich, vanilla creaminess of the treat.  And it was a huge treat.  She finished every last lick.

Oh what would we give today to fill the heart of a child to overflowing for merely a quarter.

Ice cream makes the whole world seem right.


NOTE: This year, “Ice Cream Sunday” was celebrated on July 17.

Summer’s End

Form those burger patties, boil and chop the spuds for Mom’s traditional potato salad with green olives, bake the beans, set out the buns and the condiments (don’t forget the pickles), chop up the cabbage for slaw, make the dressing, slice a few thin red onions for the burgers, and make sure there are plenty of fresh tomatoes because, not only are they mandatory for any picnic, there won’t be many more tomatoes to come off the vines this season. It’s the last holiday of summer.

Labor Day seems like a funny name for a day when almost nobody actually works. It’s that extra bonus holiday at the end of summer where the Humans all pretend that they don’t have to go to work or school the following day.  It’s that one family gathering day.  It’s a summer picnic sort of day, a fitting end to a season.

It’s still hot in Virginia on Labor day, but everyone fanaticizes about the cool down that will come soon enough.  First the nights will develop a chill, just enough that everyone needs a sweater or light jacket in the morning.  And then, the mornings become downright cold, and a few neighbors will light fires in their fireplaces.  The scent of burning wood in the crisp, morning air, seems to promise what is still ahead – the autumn season, frost across the lawns, pumpkins and trick-or-treat, Thanksgiving turkey (and pie and leftovers), and suddenly everyone is anticipating December holidays and hitting the slopes.  Wait, wasn’t it summer just yesterday?

By January, everyone is shivering in their wooly winter boots, smacking their gloved hands together to stir up some heat, and wishing for the warmth of summer.  The best they can do is park their cars in a non-shaded area on a cold winter’s day, and be grateful for the little bit of heat that the day’s sun generated through the windshield.  Hot cars never felt that good in August.

But that first warm, true summer-like day, when it finally comes, beckons to all, a day when workers ditch jobs and kids cut out of school early. Ah, to be outside again without eyelashes glued to their cheeks.  The sun feels so good again.

Humans Beans are rarely pleased by the weather.  In the summer, they long for cool temps, and in the winter they long for warmth.  In the spring it rains, and the autumn it rains; both in-between seasons seem quite fleeting here in central Virginia.

So they rely on their summertime dreams of evenings spent around the fiery hearth holding steaming mugs of cocoa to warm their hands, and then, with cocoa in hand, they fantasize of beach sand and bathing suits and salty breezes in their faces.

So on this final summer vacation day, let’s simply enjoy the family that is with us, the picnic foods, and the opportunity to have gathered.  Let’s not look back or ahead, but simply appreciate the now – even if it is still freaking 95+ degrees in the shade.

After all, summer never lasts.  But then, few things do.  Enjoy while you have them.