Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Asprin, Bellybuttons and Bandaids

Ah, spring.

This past weekend presented a couple of perfect 70F days with little or no wind and so we set out to rake and plant and sow seeds and celebrate the coming of a verdent summer filled with the smell of roasting brats and roses. Sunday evening, as we sat on the deck overlooking our day's work with a cold beverage in hand, it started. The first itch.

By Monday morning, my neck, nose (nothing's sacred) and chin were blistered. By Tuesday, the small families of ivy rash had moved to the top of my feet and legs. Clearly, maximum doses of Benadry and witch hazel weren't doing the job, so I cried uncle and called the clinic.

It was fairly obvious to my fellow patients why I was there. "Did you try a mud poltace?" A sweet voice whispered over her Ladies Home Journal. "Witch hazel" I replied. She nooded.

My mother grew aloe vera plants and at the onset of a rash, burn or cut would snap the end off a stalk, spit the shoot in half and bandaid the gooey mess to the injury.

We all have our traditions. I thought I'd share some from "American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940."
  • Colds: Turpentine and lard rubbed on the chest. If turpentine isn't available, use coal oil or kerosene.
  • Measles and Smallpox: Dried and baked sty-pig dung made into a tea. Sheep dung works too.
  • Sore Throat: place a small amount of powdered sulphur in a paper funnel, and place the small end of the funnel in the sufferer's oral cavity and blow. If the victim coughs or blows first, the cure becomes a two-fer.
  •  Motion sickness and allergies: place an aspirin in your bellybutton and secure it in place with a bandaid
  • Warts: gather as many pebbles as you have warts, rub one pebble on each wart, then take them to a crossroads and throw the pebbles over your left shoulder. The warts will go with them.
  • Warts (version 2): Take a chunk of dried mud fallen from a hoof of a mule, and rub it on the wart. Spit on the under side of the chunk, and then place it on a gatepost.
  • Stiff neck: wrap a pair of underdrawers which have been worn more than two days around the neck.
A cortisone shot and a day one dose of my methylprednisole multipack complete, I look almost human. But it probably wouldn't hurt to tape an asprin to my bellybutton.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Loosing your Marbles

Two weeks ago, I drove to Nacogdoches to spend summer break with my granddaughter Lily, a fifth grader. Since we really didn't have anything planned, each day unfolded much as it did when I was 10. We woke up when we liked, ate what we liked, and spent most of the morning poking fun at one another's hair and choice of clothes.

The first day, I scanned the Internet looking for cool things to do in town. They'd just moved to Nacogdoches in January and immediately settled in to a new job and new school and so had not had the opportunity to scout out local fun spots. We had a picnic lunch at the arboretum and walked the azalea trail, and visited Millard's Crossing Historic Village where Lily tried the hand pump and corn husker. We made shrinky dink charms and shamrock-shapped cookies for St Patrick's Day. We didn't spend any time in front of the TV.

Since we didn't have television for most of my childhood, my brothers and I spent weekends and summer vacations in the creek catching crawdads, in trees, or playing with green-plastic army men in dirt and tree twig forts. One of my favorites, was a marbles game called "ringer."

You start with either a chalk line on the sidewalk or by drawing a 2 foot circle in the dirt. Each player choose 10 marbles (typically ones they weren't afraid of loosing) and their best shooter. The goal is to knock a marble out of the circle; if you succeed, you get to keep the marble. If you don't, your opponent gets to take a crack at it.

Shannon had Saturday off, and so we decided checkout the historic district and some antique shops. Lily stuck with me as I pointed at one old game after another shaking my head that they were now considered "antiques." We came across a ziplock bag of about 50 Tree Frog Marbles that included a couple of nice-sized shooters. I smiled and handed them to Lily. "Why are you buying those?" she asked.

"Because I lost mine," I smiled.

I have a bid in on these beauties through eBay; now to find a steelie.

How to Play Marbles  ( click here for a little refresher)