Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 54 ~ One Year, One Nose


Mentholatum



I have a cold. Second one this year so far. I've done well with illnesses since moving to the old mansion, suffering only a day or so before the symptoms begin to wane. I think I know who the offending viral infected happy to share it culprit is but I am certain he didn't intend to make me sick. In fact, he probably hasn't a clue that he has. So anyway, it's chicken soup, Mentholatum, Ricola, and mild decongestants on the menu today. What I smell when I can smell is menthol and not much else, which is funny because the part of my brain that describes smells, puts the words to the mental images created by smelling, is working a little better than when I actually can smell. According to Gabrielle Glaser's book, The Nose, A Profile of Sex, Beauty, and Survival, smelling and describing what you smell at the same time is much like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time, or writing with your wrong hand -- your mind knows what it wants but it misfires in the operation. I'm finding words to describe scent that I was unable to while in the midst of smelling what I'm trying to describe, or something like that -- or there is the remote chance I've gone over my 24 hour limit of cold medicine and I'm high and hallucinating all of this. I am not using my improved skills here, though. No, I'm saving my truly brilliant scent writing/thinking for writing guest posts on other blogs. (And that statement reminds me that as a child I would tell my school mates I had a pet lion in my backyard but they couldn't come to see it because my parents would beat me bloody if I allowed anyone in the yard -- not a word of which was true.) Yes, I do have ADD.

Last night before bed (at 2:00 am) I took the oral decongestant and rubbed the Mentholatum on my upper chest and dabbed just a bit under my nose, then tucked in to sleep. However, as I was rubbing in the Mentholatum, my mind wandered back to my childhood, back to when my maternal grandmother was alive, 1970-something, to blood red camellias and waxy white gardenias, earthy and spicy geranium, lipless dogs and baby goats. My grandmother had ten healthy children who all lived into adulthood, despite grandma being told after each and every birth that it had to be her last, that the child wouldn't survive, that she was on the verge of death herself -- but granny kept going like the good Catholic girl she was. She survived, the babies survived, and the irony in this, if that's even the correct word, is that she passed in her late 70s as the result of a stroke brought on by the news that her firstborn child, a man in his late 50s, had passed from a heart attack. But, oh, yes, the Mentholatum . . . Grandma was a gypsy or sorts in her later years, moving from the house of one child to the next. I was always happy when grandma stayed with us. She was funny and reverent and magical. The family teased her that she didn't have a green thumb, but an entire green body as every plant she touched seemed to thrive under her hands. Grandma would snip off a small twig from a plant she'd pass while on walks or while visiting friends, take the twig home and plant it in a pot and before you knew what was happening, that twig was a bush! As a devout Catholic, grandma's nightly rituals were a sight to behold. Once she'd cleaned up and put on a cotton nightgown and slipped into her perfectly made bed, the ritual would begin. The nightly rosary, the whispering lips, the closed eyes, the soft ticking of the rosary beads, an occasional sigh, sometimes a tear, then almost brusquely the rosary would be put away in a pouch and grandma would reach for the biggest jar of Vick's Vapo-Rub on the planet. It had to be at least a quart-size (these are 10-year-old eyes that see this). Grandma would dip in two fingers, pull out a gob of rub the size of a golf ball, and then she would shove it down her throat! No matter how many times I'd watch, I was horrified every time this part came up. I mean, I gag thinking about it! At any rate, the next part of the ritual were the goodnights, a hug from grandma, then a kiss on the cheek, and the smell of menthol on her warm breath.

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