Monday, May 16, 2022

IT WAS KIND OF A CRAZY WEEK

 

A lot of small events happened this week, so I’ll just give a rundown of each day. All I can say is that after being laid up with Covid for nearly three weeks, I was surprised at how many things had changed in the outside world during that time.

MONDAY:  My friend Bobby, who’s 83, calls me every day. This day was no exception. But for some reason, he sounded as if he were talking through a megaphone…on Mars.

“You sound a million miles away,” I said to him.

“Yeah, I dropped my phone in the toilet.”

“Well, put it in some rice. It will help get the moisture out.”

“Cooked rice or raw rice?”

“Raw rice, straight out of the box.”

“I don’t have any rice. I hate rice.”


TUESDAY:  Decided that if I didn’t want to starve to death, I had to go grocery shopping. Trouble was, I hadn’t been out in 17 days, thanks to being knocked off my feet by Covid. Even though I felt good and my at-home test came back negative, I still didn’t want to set foot in the “big city” again – the place where I’d originally met and brought home a nasty hitchhiker called Omicron.

But I put on my face mask and strapped my tank of sanitizer onto my back, then climbed into something I vaguely remembered was a car, and drove off. I was surprised at how nervous I felt.

At the end of my long, winding, country road I discovered something new – a traffic light. But not at the corner of the road – no, about 50 feet to the right of it. This meant the cars stopped at that light were backed up in front of my road, so I couldn’t pull out onto the highway. Finally, one kind soul motioned me to pull out.

So I did, and I nearly got broadsided by a car coming from the other direction.

I figured the guy who’d motioned to me that it was okay to pull out was frustrated by the new light and decided he’d like to see someone die because of it.

My first stop in the “big city” was Agway, where I often buy my dogs’ extra-large biscuits…only to be told the company wasn’t making them any more. The clerk showed me a dog biscuit, which she described as “large” instead.

“That’s large?” I asked. “That wouldn’t even be an hors d'oeuvre for my dogs!”

So I left there biscuit-less.  


I then proceeded to spend the next three hours searching for chicken tenders, which are a key ingredient in the pot of soup I make every day.

“There’s a shortage of chicken,” one employee told me, “because of the avian flu.”

A clerk in another store said, “There’s a shortage of chicken because we can’t get the trucks here to deliver any. There’s a shortage of drivers because diesel fuel’s so expensive.”

I finally found two packages of chicken tenders at, of all places, Walmart.  I grabbed them so fast, I caused a breeze.

By the time I drove into my garage four hours later, unloaded everything from my car and put it away, I felt as if I’d run a marathon. I also was suffering from sticker shock. The same groceries that had cost me $129 before I got Covid, had just cost me $169.

There was a message on my machine from Bobby. At least his voice sounded a little closer than during his last phone call. He said to call him. I did.  There was no answer.

 

WEDNESDAY:  I was craving brownies, so I baked a batch from scratch. I ended up with more chocolate on the counter and myself than in the mixing bowl.

The brownies came out like cardboard bricks. Even worse, my taste buds still are having problems, thanks to Covid, so the brownies also tasted like cardboard bricks. I figured I always could save a few of them to use as weapons.

At sunset, I went for a walk on the trails on my land. I was looking down, as I always do because the trails have rocks and small stumps on them, and I don't want to trip and end up doing a face-plant. Suddenly I heard a snort. When I looked up, there was “Dierdra,” the young doe that follows me around on my walks. We stared at each other for a few seconds, and she gave me a look that said, “So, what’s new? Got any food on you?” then she walked off. I don’t know why, but as I watched her walking away, I noticed how pure white her tail was, and I wondered how she kept it so clean (I honestly think I’m suffering from something they refer to as “Covid brain”).

That night, I was eager to watch the finale of one of my favorite TV shows, “Domino Masters.”  Talk about a tense competition!  I mean, teams of domino professionals setting up thousands of dominoes made to fall in precisely calculated ways to trigger things such as mini-avalanches, fires that burned through strings to launch balloons or turn on water, and even mini-vehicles that went flying over a washed-out bridge. One team had an accidental “topple” as the members were setting up their dominoes, and they lost hundreds of dominoes and countless hours of work.

It really was tough to see grown men cry.

The victors turned out to be the team called “The Domi-nerds,” from Massachusetts, who now are $100K richer.

I called Bobby again. Still no answer. 


THURSDAY:  Before I even got out of bed, Bobby had called four times and left four messages, asking me why I hadn’t returned his calls. He said he was worried I might have had a relapse of  Covid and he was wondering if he should call someone to do a wellness check on me. I called him back. No answer. So I left a voice mail, telling him I HAD been calling him and I was fine.

Found out that a comment I’d made on Facebook had gone viral – over 6,000 “likes” in an hour. It was a photo of a supposed vegan burger, and without a doubt, it was one of the most disgusting-looking things I’d ever seen.  I mean, here is the photo.



My comment was: “Maybe if they’d made it look more like a burger instead of like a pile of dog crap, it would be more appealing. As they say, people eat with their eyes first!”

The comments poured in, “Bravo!  You said exactly what I was thinking!” or “Glad someone had the guts to say this!” 

By the end of the night, my comment had been “liked” over 12,000 times. I’d always wanted to become a media sensation and go viral, but I never would have imagined it would be for saying that a vegan burger looked like dog crap! I’m just sorry that I also didn’t mention what a “nice touch” the pieces of corn in the “burger” were. 


FRIDAY: I belong to two neighborhood/town groups on Facebook, and one of them reported that up near my area, two “homeless-looking” guys carrying hatchets had been knocking on doors after 10 PM and asking if anyone needed brush or trees cleared.

Um, I’m all for people trying to make a living, but if I looked out my window at 10:00 at night and saw two guys carrying hatchets and walking up my driveway, I don’t think, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to have my rhododendron bush trimmed,” would be the first thing that came to mind.

Anyway, most of the comments were, “Call the police if you see them!” to which one guy responded, “Oh, sure, just because these poor guys are homeless, you all want to make the situation worse for them by calling the police!  Read the Bible, will you?”

Another person responded to him with, “Fine – then when they come knocking at your door at midnight, why don’t you invite them to come in and stay overnight? And then you also can feed them three square meals the next day!”

The first guy never responded back to that one. 

When I prepared my cup of tea later that night and grabbed a sugar cookie to go with it, I noticed that the cookie had what looked like poppy seeds on it.

The "seeds" turned out to be ants – teeny-tiny, itty-bitty ants. I looked down at the counter. They were gathered in a circle, and I’m not certain, but I think they were square-dancing.

I really hate bug season.

 

SATURDAY:  I decided to venture to Hooksett in search of extra-large dog biscuits and sure enough, dealing with the light at the end of my road once again resulted in seeing my life flash before me.

Not long ago, at Tractor Supply in Hooksett, I’d purchased a 15-lb. box of XL dog biscuits for around $13, so I prayed they still had some. To my delight, they did. I grabbed a box and lugged it up to the counter, then pulled a $5 bill and a $10 bill out of my wallet.

The clerk scanned the box. “That will be $16.99.”

If I hadn’t been so desperate for dog biscuits by then, I might have told her what she could do with them, but then she offered me a free bag of a new gourmet dog food. I figured free was good, so I paid the $16.99.

She then handed me the free dog food, which she said normally was priced at $17.99 for a 5-lb. bag. For that price, I expected to read that the kibble was coated with 24-karat gold.

My dogs were raised on Purina Dog Chow, which costs about $13 for 18 lbs. So I knew right then that even if they fell in the love with that gourmet food and threatened to rip out my jugular if I didn’t buy another bag of it for them, they’d never see it again after the free bag was gone. After all, they're just good ol' country dogs, not the Rockefellers.

Before I headed home, I dashed into Shaw’s to see if they might have any chicken tenders. Apparently the avian flu that had affected the chicken supply at Shaw’s in Concord hadn’t affected the supply in Hooksett. They had plenty of chicken tenders – and even better, they were on sale. I bought three pounds for about $8. So that made me feel much better about the extra money I’d paid for the XL dog biscuits.

While in Shaw’s, I also searched for ant traps or ant bait. Every product I read said not to use it near food preparation areas. Well, the reason why the ants are drawn to food-preparation areas is because that’s where the FOOD is!

So I didn’t buy any.

And the ants still are square-dancing on my counter.

 

That night, I watched a movie on Netflix – the sequel to Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America,” which took 30 years after the original to finally be made.

I guess when they were making the movie they figured that because it had been so many years since the first one, most of the people who’d seen the original probably were so old and senile by now, they wouldn’t remember the jokes and one-liners from that movie…so the writers recycled most of them. They also added quite a few rap-song numbers to fill up space.

I dozed off about halfway through the movie, and when I woke up about 20 minutes later, I realized I hadn’t missed anything.

Oh, and at last count, the “likes” on my Facebook comment about the vegan burger had increased to over 18,000. At this rate, I just might be invited to appear as a guest on “Good Morning America” to discuss it.

 

And now it’s a brand new week and I have no idea what it will bring…except, judging from this morning already…more calls from Bobby asking yet again why I haven’t returned his calls.

So I guess I’ll try to call him, and if I still can’t reach him, I’ll buy him a box of rice and take it over to him.

Unless, that is, the price of rice is now up to $25 a box. 

Heck, it might be cheaper for him to just go buy a new phone.

 

#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net

 











Monday, May 9, 2022

I MISS WATCHING THE BIDDING WARS ON EBAY

 

This is the first year in ages I haven’t bothered to sell any of my junk on eBay. Why? Because things have changed too drastically.

For one thing, no one seems to want to bid on auctions any more. They want the “buy it now” option. That’s because they don’t have the patience to sit around waiting to see if their bid will turn out to be the highest when the auction ends in a week. They want the item now! And even better, they want the seller to tack on the “or best offer” option, which means if they don’t care for the “buy it now” price, they can offer something even lower.

To me, as a seller, that’s no fun at all.

I can remember, way back when, the fun and excitement of watching the bidding wars for my items, and even better, being surprised when something I thought wasn’t even fit for the donation box at Goodwill would end up selling for over $100. If I had put a “buy it now” price on those, I’d have thought $2 was being greedy.

But now, all of that has changed.

I still can recall, years ago, when my uncle had done some cleaning and was going to toss out a box of stuff. I asked him if I could have it because maybe I could sell something in it on eBay.

He’d shrugged and said, “Well, as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Good luck with it! I wouldn’t give you even a buck for the whole box.”

I searched through the box of “treasures.” There were, among other things in it, broken tools, a dented Civil Defense helmet and a clamping device that held ice-skate blades solidly in place for sharpening. It must have weighed close to 20 pounds.

And then there was the ladies’ hat from the 1920s. It was made of straw and had satin flowers and silk leaves in clumps on it. It was shaped like an upside-down bowl and looked as if someone had sat on it. The leaves were riddled with tiny holes, and the brim, which had been sewn to flip up around the entire edge, had come unstitched, so it was up on one side and hanging down on the other.

“I think this should have been tossed out back in 1925,” I said to my husband. “The only person who would wear it would be someone in one of those zombie videos, where they wear these old flowered hats and dresses covered with dirt when they rise up out of the ground.”

“I think I’ve seen a hat something like it before,” my husband said, “on a horse they called Old Dobbin. It’s just missing the holes for the ears.”

I don’t know why, but I decided to put the hat on eBay. I figured even if I got a dollar for it, it would be a dollar more than I previously had. I shoved the hat on a Styrofoam head and took some photos of it. It came out looking great in the photos…almost like brand new.       

“Look at these pictures of the hat,” I said to my husband. “They look ten times better than the actual thing, for some reason.”

“Then you’d better be really honest when you write the description,” he said. “Be sure to mention the hat is so full of holes, it looks like Bonnie wore it in the shootout where she and Clyde were killed.”

I wasn’t quite that blunt when I wrote the description for eBay. I said the hat was old and not in very good condition, and it might make a good hat for trick-or-treat. Throwing caution to the wind, I listed the opening bid at $2.

Two days later, the hat had been bid up to $21.

“Check for a label in it,” my husband said when I told him. “Maybe it’s by some famous Parisian designer and we don’t know it!”

I checked every inch of the hat and didn’t see any labels or markings on it at all….except for a couple mildew spots on the lining.

One potential bidder e-mailed me to ask, “ What size head will this beautiful hat fit?”

Beautiful hat?  Was she, I wondered, looking at the right auction?

It was impossible to get an accurate measurement because the hat was so lopsided, and the straw had become so stiff, it sounded as if would crack into pieces if I tried to manipulate it too much. So I measured my own head, then plunked the hat on top of it. It barely reached my hairline, and I was pretty sure it was supposed to come down to my eyebrows.

I wrote back and told the woman my head measured 23 inches and the hat came to only my hairline. 

She answered with, “Oh, that’s a shame. I also have a big head, so I guess the hat won’t fit me.”

“Some woman on eBay just told me I have a fat head” I huffed at my husband.

I received no sympathy whatsoever.

The hat finally sold for $76 to a man named Christofe in Paris, France. I was pretty sure the guy hadn’t had an eye exam in a long, long time.

“I can’t do it,” I said to my husband. “I can’t take the man’s money. Maybe my description of the hat gained something in the translation from English to French, and he mistakenly thinks it’s wonderful. Or maybe he didn’t even read the description because he can’t read English, and just looked at the photo, which makes the hat look a lot better than it really is!"

My husband shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. After all, when it comes to auctions, it’s ‘buyer beware.’ It’s not your fault if he can’t read English."

“But remember the last time I sold something to a guy in France? He ended up giving me bad feedback on eBay because he misunderstood the description.”

I finally decided to stop worrying and just wrap the hat and mail it. I crumpled some tissue paper and shoved it inside the hat so it would keep its shape in the shipping box. Then I picked up the hat so I could wrap the outside of it with tissue paper. When I did, half the flowers fell off and landed on the table. 

That did it. The only thing I could do at that point, I concluded, was to write to the Frenchman, confess what had happened to the hat and offer him a refund.

“No, no!  I want!  I want!” he wrote back.

So I sent the hat off to France, even though I was certain that by the time it arrived it would be nothing but a pile of straw with some moth-eaten leaves sticking out of it.

But to my utter shock, Christofe wrote a couple weeks later to say he loved the hat and it looked even better than he’d anticipated.

Yep, I sure do miss those days on eBay.


#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net

 



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Monday, May 2, 2022

I'M TRYING TO BATTLE COVID-19 ALL ON MY OWN

 

For over two years I managed to escape catching the dreaded and much-feared Covid-19 virus, mainly because I rarely left the house. And when I did, I was armed with everything from a stack of masks to a variety of purse-sized hand sanitizers in so many different scents, my handbag gave me a bad case of slope-shoulder whenever I carried it. 

The reason why I was so overly cautious is because I can’t get vaccinated. You might be wondering why. Well, that makes two of us.

Every time I tried to make an appointment to get the shot, I was asked if I had any food or drug allergies, so I’d say yes and list them. The response that always followed would be, “Sorry, but we do not recommend that you receive the vaccine.”

So I didn’t 

But as I said, I did remarkably well at avoiding catching the virus…until Friday, April 22, when I slipped and made a fateful error that would come back to haunt me.

I’d taken my car to the dealership to get it repaired. When the work was finished, the employee handed me a pen and asked me to sign the worksheet. After I paid the nearly $500 bill, he also handed me a wrapped chocolate-covered mint and thanked me.

When I got back into my car, I didn’t follow my usual routine of sanitizing my hands, the steering wheel and even my car keys, as I usually did. No, I wanted that mint. So I tore it open, touched it with my bare, unsanitized hands, and ate it.

As soon as I did, a sense of germophobic panic swept over me. I thought of the germ-encrusted pen, probably handled by 20 people before me, I’d just touched when signing the repair sheet. And then I’d touched the mint.

“It had to be chocolate-covered,” I muttered. “I can’t resist anything that’s chocolate-covered.”

I convinced myself I was panicking for nothing. I mean, the odds were in my favor that nothing would happen. Surely during the past two years, I must have made similar mistakes at least a few times and I was fine, so I put the incident out of my mind.

That Sunday morning, I awoke and noticed I was feeling pressure points on my body where it touched my mattress. The thing is, I have one of those Tempurpedic foam mattresses that contours to the body when you lie on it, to alleviate any pressure points. So why, I wondered was my right hip tender where it was touching the mattress? I rolled over onto my other side. Within five minutes, that hip also began to hurt. I thought maybe it was time for a new mattress.

I got up and realized my throat was dry…really dry.  I drank water, then juice. My throat still felt as if it just had been through a sandstorm in the Sahara. I couldn’t figure out why nothing seemed to relieve the dryness. Even worse, I wasn’t thirsty, just dry, so it was tough to keep swallowing water.

As I walked out to the kitchen to get another glass of juice, I noticed that my heart felt as if it were racing. My usual heart rate is around 60-65. I took my pulse. It was 90, which was really unusual for me.

By nightfall, I was feeling warmer than usual, and my throat was feeling even dryer. I took my temperature. Normal for me is 97.8F.  It was 99.9F. I began to get worried. Had my worst fears finally been realized? Did I have Covid? 

During the free home-test giveaways from both my state and the government, I’d managed to collect several Covid test-kits, so I figured the time had come to use one. I took the test and waited the 10 minutes for the results. Believe me, it was the longest 10 minutes of my life. Suddenly I knew what if felt like to be “Dead Man Walking.”

Negative.

I breathed a sigh of relief. So why was I having these weird symptoms? The flu perhaps?

By midnight Sunday night, my dry throat had turned into a fairly severe sore throat. And a new symptom had emerged…a headache. Maybe I’m a weakling when it comes to headaches because I never get them, but this headache seemed like the Queen Mother of all headaches to me. Even opening my eyes hurt, and when I tried to lie down, the entire top of my head pounded so hard, it felt as if it were about to blow off.

I slept, and I use the term loosely, sitting up that night, with a cold compress on my head.

I might add here that the last time I had even so much as a cold was over 15 years ago, so anything I had in the house, like Tylenol or aspirin, had expired back then. There was nothing I could take to ease my pain.

Monday morning, I felt totally sick. I had gland tenderness in my neck, a terrible sore throat, splitting headache, eye pain, ear pain, and body aches. My temperature was 101F, yet I felt chilled to the bone.

I figured maybe I should take another Covid test, just to be safe.

This one came back positive. I sat staring at the two lines on the test strip and thought, “Okay, so you have it. But you’re lucky – this is the mildest variant.”

At least that’s what the newscasters on the local news had said when they reported that Omicron rapidly was sweeping across the state.

Because I live alone in the middle of nowhere and have no immediately family, I thought it might be a good idea to let people know about my situation in case I suddenly keeled over. I wanted people to keep track of me and how I was doing, so if I suddenly went silent, maybe they’d call someone to do a wellness check and I wouldn’t end up lying on the floor for a month before someone missed me. So I put a brief post about it on Facebook.

Offers of help, even from strangers, poured in, asking if I needed anything.

“Yeah, a 9mm,” I joked. “To put myself out of my misery.”

But really, my dogs and I pretty much had everything we needed – except I would have killed for a throat lozenge or even a piece of hard candy for my throat. I even searched through my purse, hoping to find a lint-covered Lifesaver or something in the bottom. But would I really make someone drive 20 miles out of their way just to bring me lozenges? No.  I told myself I could do without.

Monday night, I dared to look at my throat, using a flashlight. Two things immediately scared me – my uvula was neon red and swollen and my epiglottis was popping up and touching it. Prior to that, I’d had no idea what those two things were, but through the miracle of the Internet I learned all about them – and that they normally shouldn’t be touching each other.

“This could lead to epiglottitis,” the blurb read, “a medical emergency that requires a tracheotomy to avoid suffocation!”

Let’s just say I wished I hadn’t read any of it. I made myself a cup of tea, curled up in a blanket on the sofa and wondered what was going to happen next. I was beginning to suspect that the way Covid worked was it threw darts at a map of the human body hanging on the wall to determine which area to attack next.

Meanwhile, two sets of dog eyes stared relentlessly at me. They wanted to be fed. They needed to go pee. They wanted to play fetch.

I wanted to be left alone in my misery.

But I got them fed, watered and comfortable, then crawled back onto the sofa. The headache, to my relief, finally began to let up. But new symptoms replaced it – queasiness and a very bitter taste in my mouth. Everything suddenly was unbearably bitter, even the sugar in my tea. And the fact that I already felt queasy, made the bitter taste even more annoying.

I wanted chicken soup. I would have settled for a can of the stuff at that moment, but I had none. So I made soup from scratch, which was the last thing I wanted to do. I realized, as the soup was simmering, it smelled like burnt waffles. I then realized that everything smelled like burnt waffles – even my tropical dishwashing liquid that usually smelled like fresh pineapple. I had to admit what I’d been fearing to admit – my sense of smell and taste slowly were deteriorating.

My chicken soup ended up tasting like very bitter, very disgusting slime. I choked it down. And the sugar cookie I had for dessert also tasted bitter, with the consistency of sanded cardboard. I took only one bite, and it hurt my throat so much, I didn’t take a second bite. I was done.

Then, because of my queasiness, I prayed the food I’d managed to eat would stay down.

One thing a doctor once told me was that a fever is one of the body’s best virus and bacteria-killing mechanisms, which is why fevers exist in the first place. He said a fever should be allowed to run its course, so trying to stop it in its tracks isn’t a good idea because that prevents it from doing what it is meant to do. So, I told my fever to keep doing its thing. I didn’t have anything to stop it with anyway, so I had no choice.

But the sore throat was looking and feeling worse. One online doctor recommend saltwater gargles three times a day.

“But!” he said. “The ratio of salt and water has to be precise, and the water has to be warm, or it won’t work. He recommended 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in one cup of warm water.

I made the mixture and gargled, and no kidding, it was like gargling with something from the Dead Sea. Never have I tasted anything saltier in my life.  But I stuck with it, and by Wednesday morning, my uvula and my epiglottis no longer were touching each other. I successfully had split up their love affair.

Wednesday night, two new symptoms appeared. My nose suddenly completely stuffed up. One minute it was fine, and the next, it felt as if I had a massive sinus infection. I also developed a cough. It seemed to originate from a tickle in my throat, not from somewhere deep in my chest. I guess you could call it a superficial cough…a very annoying, superficial cough. And when I coughed, I sounded exactly like a goose honking…and it scared the dogs.

It scared me, too. I mean, I’d never realized I could make a sound like that.

Thursday morning, I took my temperature and it was back to normal, which made me think I was on the road to recovery. But the cough got worse and my throat still was sore. And my senses of taste and smell completely disappeared. NO more burnt-waffle smell, no more bitter taste. There was just nothing at all.

So everything I’d heard about Omicron being nothing like the original Covid wasn’t true. The only symptoms I didn’t have were shortness of breath and fatigue.

Today is Monday, eight days since my symptoms began. If you look up a “typical” case of Covid, it says it lasts about five days. I guess I’m not typical because I still feel too crappy to do much of anything. And just an hour ago, I suffered a pretty substantial nosebleed, so I have no idea what that was about. 

And my voice!  I sound like a man! Twice today I’ve answered the phone and was called “Sir.”

I’m trying to be patient, I really am, and I’m counting on my body to emerge the victor in this personal war.

I will update this post daily, just to let you know how I’m doing.

Wish me luck…


#   #   #

UPDATE:  Tuesday -  Still sound like a guy and still have no sense of taste. But I use a daily spritz of vinegar on my dogs to repel ticks and fleas (It really works!), and I suddenly could smell a faint odor of vinegar. Made me think that maybe I'm regaining my sense of smell. We'll see. Still no appetite, so I'm still struggling to eat. Ordered a new thermometer, so I can't take my temperature until it arrives, but I'm feeling cool, not hot.


UPDATE:  Wednesday - Last night was my worst night yet, which hit me totally out of the blue. Went to bed, tired, and suddenly started to cough these deep, terrible coughs. The coughing wouldn't stop. It was like having a bad case of the hiccups, but it was non-stop coughing instead. Four hours later, I still was coughing and getting panicky because there was no lull in it at all. My ribs were killing me, my breastbone was tender, and my throat was really raw from so much coughing. I tried drinking warm liquids, breathing steam, wrapping my neck in moist heat - nothing stopped the cough. Finally, I rolled over onto my stomach in bed and the cough let up. I fell into an exhausted sleep and woke up at 5 this afternoon!  I haven't coughed again yet, but I feel as if I've just gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson. My oximeter says my blood oxygen is 98, so at least that's still good. I'm glad I have an oximeter because it gives me peace of mind. There's really no need to be hospitalized with Covid unless blood oxygen levels are low. I remember, when Covid first hit, a doctor on TV saying to splurge the $20 on an oximeter and keep it handy because if you catch Covid and feel really crummy, the oximeter will tell you if need to go to the hospital. I was smart enough to buy one back then, thank goodness. So no matter how rotten I feel, if my blood oxygen is still up there, it at least gives me hope. But if it suddenly bottoms out - I'll be aware of that, too, and get help!


UPDATE:  Friday - Spent Thursday doing a lot of sleeping. I did take a short walk on my land and the fresh air and sunshine felt heavenly. Last night I was craving brownies, so I made some from scratch. Seeing that I've dropped 12 pounds, I figured I could splurge and treat myself. But they tasted terrible, of course, because my taste buds still are all messed up. Instead of bitter, everything now tastes salty, even when there's no salt in it. So one bite of brownie, and that was enough for me. I froze them, however, so when my taste gets back to normal, whenever that might be, I still can enjoy them!

Today I feel wiped out, but my voice is beginning to sound less like a foghorn, and my sense of smell is slowly returning. I did find out that someone I know who lives right near the dealership where I went, also came down with Covid, so there might be a pocket of the illness brewing in that area. If I survive this bout, I never want to get it again! I do worry about the long-term effects from it, but I'm taking one day at a time for now, and each day finally is getting a little better. 

My mail notification says my new thermometer was delivered today, so I'll walk out to my mailbox and get it. Haven't been able to take my temp. since Monday, when my other thermometer died.


UPDATE: Monday 5/9 - day 15!  Well, you know you're feeling better when you get excited about being able to smell a dog fart!  Actually, my sense of taste also is returning - and today I was able to taste my bowl of soup for the first time in two weeks. It was the best soup ever!

My temp is 98F and my cough, although still annoying, is much less frequent. So I guess I'm just about recovered. Now, if I can avoid ever catching Covid again, I'll be happy. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

Although...there is one certain person...

Never mind.











Tuesday, April 26, 2022

CREDIT CARDS ONCE WERE A STATUS SYMBOL

 

Even though credit cards are a common thing nowadays, years ago, they were considered a status symbol. Just about everyone used cash back then, so credit cards really weren’t part of the norm.

Back in the late 1960s, before I ever met my husband, he applied for and received his first credit card. It was called Master Charge (now MasterCard) and his credit limit was $2,000.

In those days, $2,000 was considered a small fortune. You figure, around that time my parents bought a Colonial-style house near Livingston Park in Manchester for $12,500, which my father thought was outrageously expensive.

My husband was so proud of his credit card, he treated it as if it were made of spun gold. He wrapped it in tissue paper before putting it into his wallet, so it wouldn’t get scratched. And I suspect he even slept with it tucked in his underwear.

When we were dating, he often used the card to try to impress me. If we went out to dinner with friends, he would take out the card and say, “My treat, I have my Master Charge right here,” and then he would flash the card as if it were a signaling mirror for a rescue plane. 

OLD GAS STATION SIGN

After we got married, he decided to “honor” me by adding my name to his account so I could receive a credit card, too – which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t such a hot idea on his part. I mean, by adding me, the credit limit was raised to $10,000, which was dangerous in my hands. And with the annual percentage rate at 24%, well, that made it even more risky.

But when my husband first handed me my very own card, I suddenly knew how Charlie, the kid in the Willy Wonka movie, felt when he found the precious golden ticket in his candy bar.

Over the years, the credit card served us well. We used it for emergencies, vacations, and for buying things online. And every three years, when the card expired and we were sent two fresh new ones, I was forced to listen to the same thing from my husband.

“Do you know how many years I’ve had this MasterCard?” he’d ask, sniffing the new card and inhaling deeply, then making an “aaaahhhh” sound, as if he were smelling freshly baked bread. “I applied for it the day after I turned 21!”

I wasn’t quite so sentimental about the card. I’d just grab it, hop into the car and leave skid marks in the driveway as I sped off to the mall.

But after my husband died, when it came time for the MasterCard to expire once again, I called the bank and explained there no longer was any need to send two cards because my husband had passed away.

“So you just have to send me my card from now on,” I said.

“Oh, I’m very sorry for your loss,” the representative said. “We’ll take care of that for you right away.”

I thought nothing more about that call until two weeks later, when I was shopping online and whipped out the MasterCard to pay for my items. 

The card was rejected. 

I tried again.  Still rejected.

I grabbed the phone and called the bank’s credit-card hotline.

“Oh, as it turned out, that account wasn’t a joint account,” the woman explained. “Your husband was the sole account holder. You were just an add-on.”

“An add-on?” I repeated, slightly insulted that I hadn’t been important enough to be the co-owner of the card. I felt as if I’d been reduced to the plus-one on a wedding invitation.

The woman explained, “Because the account holder is gone, we had to close the account. And we’ll be expecting his estate to pay the outstanding balance on the card.”

“Estate?” In spite of the fact I was panicking as I tried to mentally calculate how much money I now owed the bank, I had to laugh. “What estate?”

“Well…if he left everything to you…then that also includes his bills, unfortunately. You are now responsible.”

Great.

Finally, I gathered the courage to ask, “Is there any way you can just undo the cancellation and get the card back?”

“I’m sorry, no. If you want your own card now, you will have to start all over again and fill out an application.”

“Then you’re saying my husband’s prized card he’d had since he was 21 is gone forever, never to be used or heard from again?”

“I’m afraid so,” she said.

I hung up the phone feeling as if I had just committed card-icide.  I had killed my husband’s cherished possession and sent it to the great beyond.

Even worse, not only was I without a precious MasterCard, I also was stuck with paying off the balance. Had I been a contortionist, I would have kicked my own backside. 

Every time I saw a MasterCard commercial on TV after that, I cringed and then glanced apprehensively at my husband’s urn on the hutch, expecting him to leap out of the ashes at any moment and insist that we hold a memorial service for his treasured card and then bury it out in the yard, complete with a headstone with the MasterCard logo engraved on it.

But mark my words, I will apply for a new card and put it to good use in memory of the old one.

The only problem is, the way I figure it, my personal credit limit probably will be around $15.

#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net

 




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Sunday, April 17, 2022

I THOUGHT FAKE GRASS WAS THE ANSWER TO ALL MY PROBLEMS

 

I honestly pity Carl, the poor guy who has the frustrating job of mowing my lawn. The front lawn is no problem – it’s all grass. The back, however, a big fenced-in area where my dogs freely romp, looks like the site where the movie “Avengers: Infinity War” was filmed.

For one thing, it’s a combination of sand and clay, so the only thing that grows in the yard is a bumper-crop of dust. Lawrence of Arabia would feel right at home out there.

In the spring, however, the dust transforms into mud, the consistency of which could give quicksand a run for its money.

There also are scattered clumps of something that resembles grass, but it’s more like rubberized green wire. I spent 10 minutes trying to clip a long clump of it one day and finally just yanked it out by the roots.

But the holes are the most upsetting and unsightly aspect of the yard. My two dogs have, for the last five years, been in competition to see which one can dig the deepest hole. So far, the rottweiler is winning because she actually dug down to the pipe that connects to the septic tank. If the old expression “digging holes to China” is true, then I expect the dogs will unearth egg rolls and chow mein any day now.  

SEPTIC PIPE WITH INCRIMINATING PAW PRINTS

The weird part about the holes they dig is there never is enough dirt left around them that I can use to fill up the holes again. I have no clue what they do with it…eat it? Last year I paid for a truckload of dirt so I could fill in the holes. Within a month, the holes were back and most of the dirt mysteriously had vanished once again.

Not long ago, I searched online for suggestions about how to stop dogs from digging. The most common solution seemed to be to provide a private sandbox for them, then bury treats in it to keep them digging only in that one area and not all over the yard.

I thought it sounded like a pretty dumb idea. I mean, I was trying to break the dogs of their digging habit, not teach them that if they dig they’ll find treats.

But then, I happened to spot an advertisement on the dog-digging page that made my eyes widen. It said: “Are your pets ruining your lawn? Do they dig it up? Urinate on it and turn it brown? Are insects thriving in the grass and hitching rides into your house on your pets? Are you tired of mowing, watering and fertilizing? Then our synthetic pet-grass is for you!”

Synthetic pet-grass? I’d never heard of it. But I was intrigued. I continued to read all about it. The pet grass, according to the information, was supposed to be very realistic-looking fake grass that was odor-proof, stain-proof, bug-proof, chew-proof and dig- proof. It also featured built-in drainage, could be hosed down to clean it, wouldn’t fade and never would need watering, mowing or fertilizing. The photos showed houses that had synthetic pet-grass lawns, and they were…well, spectacular looking. They even had lawnmower marks in the grass to add realism. 

I was sold. I mean, it sounded like the answer to my prayers. And even though no prices were listed, I figured it would pay for itself after a while because I wouldn’t have to pay anyone to mow it. I immediately contacted the company.

“I completely understand your problems,” the sales representative said to me. “And believe me, our synthetic grass can solve all of them. We just finished a place up in Maine where their dogs had severely damaged the yard. So we installed the synthetic turf on all 12,000 square feet of it. The homeowners are thrilled now because their property always looks beautiful and requires absolutely no maintenance.”

He asked for my yard’s measurements, took down all of the information and said he’d get back to me with an estimate. As I waited, I looked out the window and saw the dogs happily digging up the yard and flinging dirt at each other. My first impulse was to run out there and yell at them, but then I thought, “What the heck? Let them have their fun! Soon, there will be a beautiful, bug-free, dirt-free lawn out there they won’t be able to dig! That’ll fix ‘em!”

The next morning I received an e-mail from the pet-grass company. The estimate for the job was $24,000. I swear my heart actually stopped beating. My first thought was those people up in Maine who were so happy with their 12,000 feet of fake grass must have been related to the Rockefellers.

To say I was disappointed was an understatement. My perfect idea, my perfect solution, cost more than the national debt of Liechtenstein.

I sent an e-mail response to the sales representative and told him I’d get back to him when I either won the lottery or had my novel published and sold the movie rights to it. 

Meanwhile, on the bright side, I guess if the dogs do continue to dig, they might prevent a burglar from sneaking up on the house in the dark because the guy surely would break a leg…or two. 

I just hope Carl, my lawn guy, doesn’t end up becoming a statistic. I think I’m going to continue to need him for a long time to come.

 

#   #   #

 


Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net













Tuesday, April 12, 2022

ASICS GEL SHOES - THEY KEEP ME RUNNIN'

 

For over 50 years now, I’ve walked at least two miles every day. During the height of the pandemic, however, I increased it to three miles…mainly because I was trying to alleviate my nearly terminal case of boredom.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed a pain in my right thigh-muscle during my daily strolls. When I’m wearing my slippers in the house, there’s no pain, but during my outdoor treks it’s definitely there. I finally realized that my running shoes, my Gel Venture-4s by Asics, are so worn out, they're causing me to walk on the inside of my right foot. This, I also noticed, makes my hip stick out and probably is the cause of my thigh pain.

So I decided I probably should invest in a new pair of shoes before I end up permanently damaging some essential body part. I headed to a sporting-goods store.

When I arrived, the store was empty – and by that, I mean I saw no employees or customers. I had the whole place to myself. I walked over to the shoe department and after wending my way through a maze of Nike, Adidas and Reebok shoes, finally found the Asics aisle.

That’s when I discovered that my Asics Gel Venture-4s had progressed all the way up to Gel Venture-8s.

Apparently it had been much longer than I’d thought since I’d bought running shoes.

I was concerned because I previously had purchased the Venture-4s only after trying on every other brand and style in about six different stores and finding something I didn’t like about every shoe: “Too tight, too big, not enough arch support, too stiff” and “guaranteed to produce a blister the size of a silver dollar,” I’d muttered back then.

I’d started to feel like Goldilocks, minus the Three Bears. So when I finally did find the “this one’s just right!” shoe, the Gel Venture-4, I’d whipped out my debit card and spent the $60 while breathing a silent “hallelujah!”

Therefore, last week I’d hoped I’d just be able to grab another pair of the Venture-4s and be in and out of the store in a flash because I already was so intimately acquainted with that particular shoe. But due to the fact I'd skipped over the Gel-5,6 and 7, I knew I was going to have to try on shoes once again.

And believe me, I wasn't looking forward to it.

As it turned out, I couldn’t tell if the Venture-8s were a vast improvement over their predecessors, or if they had lost something as they’d escalated…because there weren’t any in my size to try on. So I went hunting for an employee.

I spent about 10 minutes aimlessly meandering throughout the aisles before I finally spotted an actual human coming out of the back room.

She looked at me as if to say, “What the heck are you doing here?”

I approached her, held up the Asics Gel Venture-8 and asked if she might have it in size 8.5.

She frowned at me. “That’s a men’s shoe you’re holding. The women’s shoes are on the wall over on the other side of the department.”

“I know,” I said. “The men’s sizes fit me better in this brand.”

“I’ll go look,” she said, still frowning, and disappeared out back. She returned with three shoe boxes. Each one contained some form of an Asics “Gel” style…the Gel Venture-8, the Gel Contend-7, and the Gel Nimbus-24. She handed the boxes to me and once again vanished.

The woman was like Houdini.

I sat down on a bench and after removing a yard of crumpled-up paper from inside the toes of the shoes and undoing the decorative knots in the laces, tried them on. Once again, I was transformed into Goldilocks. One pair was too tight in the heel and the other slid up and down when I walked.

Discouraged, I tried on the last pair, the Gel Nimbus-24. When I laced them up, they felt so comfortable, I began to understand why they had been named after a cloud. I was excited.

But then I stood up and walked in them…and my heart sank. For some reason, they didn’t feel level. My right foot felt higher than my left, so I was forced to walk in an up-and-down motion that made me feel as if I were waddling, kind of like a giant duck. 

I removed the shoes, set them down on the wooden bench and knelt so I could inspect them more closely. Sure enough, the right one was at least a quarter-inch taller than the left. 

About five minutes later, Miss Houdini reappeared and asked how I was doing. Her tone, however, told me she couldn’t have cared less what I said. I was tempted to test her reaction and tell her the toenail on my big toe had been torn off inside one of the shoes and I needed help finding it.

Instead, I explained that I really liked the Gel Nimbus pair, but one shoe was higher than the other so they made me walk unevenly.

“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” she huffed.

I pointed at them on the bench and told her to look at them for herself. She did and then shrugged. 

“I don’t have another pair of those in your size,” she said. “I guess I could order them for you, but it might take a while.”

I figured that now that I knew the style name and number I liked, I could go home and just order them myself online, and probably for a lot less money from another supplier. However, I had no clue what any of the shoes cost because none of the boxes she’d given me had prices on them.

So when I got home, I immediately searched online for Gel Nimbus-24.

They averaged about $150 a pair…on a good day.

PEEK-A-BOO! MY CURRENT SHOE!
(THAT'S MY FINGER, NOT A SKINNY TOE!)
I wouldn’t pay that much for a pair of shoes even if they were sparkly red and had been worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

So I’m still clomping around in my ancient Gel Venture-4s. Even worse, my bunion actually poked right through the material on the right shoe and made a hole in it during my walk yesterday morning. 

Oh, well…at least my feet will be cool this summer.

#   #   # 



 Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net




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