Al Batt: Folk cures do nothing to alleviate persistent hiccups

Al Batt: Folk cures do nothing to alleviate persistent hiccups 

Published by tlittle@bluffco... on Mon, 09/23/2019 - 11:32am

By : 

Al Batt

For the Birds

I had hiccups for forever and a couple days, enough to cover a two-week vacation and then some. I was unable to eat and sleep wasn't restorative. They were burdensome and exhausting, but no record. Charles Osborne of Anthon, Iowa, began hiccupping in 1922 while attempting to weigh a hog. He continued hiccupping until 1990, 68 years later.

My hiccups were relentless, like an ant bully with a magnifying glass. Hiccups might be one of the plagues mentioned in the Bible. The synchronous diaphragmatic flutters are involuntary and spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm. Hiccups are a form of myoclonus, as are the sudden jerks or sleep starts experienced before falling asleep. The hiccups were side-effects of surgery. It baffled a team of doctors and nurses. They gave me shots and pills, which were of no help. "You shouldn't be having these," said one doctor.

"Hick!" I replied, involuntarily describing myself.

 I did radio shows with hiccups included. The guy who cleaned my room, friends, family, radio listeners and complete strangers offered folk cures. Old wives added tales claiming hiccups were caused by elves.

I had someone frighten me by showing me my hospital bill while I held my breath, bit on a lemon, gargled with water I drank from the far side of a glass and squeezed my earlobes while tugging on my tongue. Then I spit on my right forefinger before placing dry sugar on the back of my tongue, ate mustard on a saltine cracker with a spoonful of peanut butter and drank pineapple juice while visualizing a green cow grazing in a blue field. That's worked in someone's family for years, but it didn't help me.

I repeated the word, "pineapple," using it as a cudgel until they subsided.  

Occasionally, I get a hiccup, two or three. I try not to panic.

Echoes from Loafers' Club 

Crappy diem.

That's carpe diem.

Maybe to you.

Driving by Bruce's drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I stopped at an echo point. I didn't need a password to yell "O. Leo Leahy!" The echo repeated what I'd said. O. Leo Leahy was a name used on The Bob and Ray Show. Those were a couple of radio geniuses not all that familiar today. Old is good, but new is often better. Cars are amazingly good today. I thought of the car I owned when I was a pup. I paid $75 for it, which was at least $70 too much. It gave me heat in the summer and air conditioning in the winter. It carried me to my last day on a job before I headed off to school. The company I worked for built implement buildings. I was the young squirt. On my concluding day, I was paid for staying out of the way. My boss said that it was money well spent.

Working in a salty snack mine

My job was to go to the supermarket and gather as many bags of salty snacks as would fit comfortably into a shopping cart. This was to provision a large gathering of folks with a hankering for free snacks. As I checked out, the cashier looked at my cargo chips and said, "Wow!"

"Winter is coming," I replied.

Nature notes

A deer had run in front of my car. It wasn’t a large ungulate, probably a half-a-buck. I watched a raccoon climb down headfirst from a tree by rotating its back feet. In an attempt to keep from worrying that I was spending too much time offline, I attempted to see a cloud that looked like the city of St. Cloud. I walked face first into a spiderweb. I apologized to the spider. If you wish to thrive, leave spiders alive.

Blue jays bothered an eastern screech owl trying to sleep in the yard. The owl’s ear tufts of feathers are called plumicorns. A flock of starlings traveled the edges of the woods. The name starling comes from the Anglo Saxon and means little star – likely from its star-shaped silhouette in flight. Turkey vultures are known to the Cherokee as "peace eagles" because they never kill.

The yard was busy with busy honey bees. According to Golden Blossom Honey, in order to produce one pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited. A hive of bees flies 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year. An average worker bee makes about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.


The sounds of young raccoons needled into my sleep.

I fed the birds. I have a loyal following of avian gourmands. Birds are cute so they can extort food from me. My feeders are busy. Bird populations can vary greatly from place to place and time to time. One yard's feeders aren't representative of all feeders in a state.

I saw my last Baltimore oriole in the yard on September 11. I miss them. I played Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" in their honor.

A dragonfly propelled on wings of cellophane flew by in a zigzag pattern.

Blue jays, the yard's security guards, sounded an alarm after discovering the daytime roost of an eastern screech owl.

A nice woman called to report a colony of bees in the wall of her house. Her home had become a Bee & Bee. When her doorbell buzzes, so does the wall. Honeybees build nests out of beeswax. Yellow jacket wasps build paper nests and are sometimes found in walls. At this season of the year, the yellow jackets have time to attend picnics and search for sugar. They are natural biological controls as predators of insects, but develop a sweet tooth now and desire sugary foods like ice cream, soda and fermenting fruit that provide energy and fuel nasty dispositions. A friend tells me they dislike diet soft drinks.

Playing in the state softball tournament one year, I was standing on second base when the umpire nearest me called a timeout. The young son of the home plate umpire had been guzzling a soft drink from a can in which a yellowjacket had crawled into. He was stung and suffered an allergic reaction. Fortunately, there was an ambulance at the tournament that hauled the boy to a hospital. He ended up in fine fettle, but about 62 people a year die of wasp or bee stings in this country. August and September produce the most yellow jacket stings.

Things to look for

1. Arrival of dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows.

2. A deer's reddish summer coat is replaced by a dense gray coat that provides insulation and camouflage.

3. Ruby-throated hummingbirds exit the state.

Thanks for stopping by 

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” ― Charlie Tremendous Jones

“You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” — Zen saying

Meeting adjourned

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Do good.

© Al Batt 2019

Editor’s note: Al Batt will be appearing at the Preston Public Library on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. He will share his humorous stories and excerpts from his book, “A Life Gone to the Birds.” All are welcome.

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