Did you air mattresses out, too?

I was changing the sheets on my bed this morning when I remembered another of our regular chores from when I was a kid — the semi-annual “airing of the mattresses.”

This ritual took place in early Spring and late Fall. Why then, I don’t know, but I guess it had something to do with the fact that we just couldn’t do it during snowy Winter months!

Anyway, we kids got roped into helping because Dad was away at work and Mom couldn’t complete it by herself.

“It” consisted of hauling all the mattresses off their box springs, dragging them downstairs, squeezing them out the door, and draping them across lawn furniture on the patio so they could “soak up some sun.”

Crazy? Maybe.

But my mom had it in her head that mattresses needed to be aired out on a regular basis, that the warm sun and fresh air would help us all sleep better.

Did it work? Maybe, maybe not.

It was back-breaking, even for kids.

You had to grab hold of the handles manufacturers used to attach to the sides of mattresses and wrestle them off the bed — not an easy chore unless you’re a linebacker.

Then you had to drag that mattress down a flight of stairs. More often than not, I wound up as the “front person” since I was the oldest kid; that meant I had to guide the mattress down to safety while somebody at the top of the stairs merely had to give it a push.

When it fell into the wall, both of us stopped midway and dissolved into fits of laughter before Mom came to chide us and put the task back on track!

Once downstairs, we dragged the mattress across the floor, opened the door onto the patio, and shoved it outside. There, Mom had prepared some lawn chairs or recliners, and we hoisted the mattress on top of them so it could “sunbathe.”

After a few hours, we reversed the process, placed clean sheets on the mattress and waited to jump in bed.

Mattresses don’t come with handles any more. In fact, mattresses today don’t have two sides. I learned this when I helped Mom look for a new mattress several months ago.

Regardless of the brand, we were told, mattresses now come with only one side for sleeping. The other side is covered by a gauze-like material that “hides” the innards of the mattress.

This means that no longer can you flip a mattress over, top to bottom and side to side, the way we used to. All you can do is “spin” it if you want to make sure it wears evenly.

I’m pretty sure this has something to do with planned obsolescence. Mattress manufacturers probably figured out that folks were hanging on to their mattresses longer than they wanted them to, and they decided that would never do.

Maybe that’s for the best. Now that I’m an adult, hauling mattresses downstairs and outside falls way down there on my list of fun things to do!

R.I.P., Declan

Shock, sadness, and anger are in the forefront today as word spreads about the death of a 20-year-old student at the University of Notre Dame.

Declan Sullivan, a junior film and marketing major from Long Grove, IL, was killed when the hydraulic scissor lift he was videotaping football practice from on Wednesday toppled over in 50-plus mph wind gusts.

This happened just before 5 p.m. EST. The young man was taken almost immediately to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

I didn’t know Declan; however, as the mom of one of his fellow students, I’m reeling from the news.

How could something like this happen? Where were the adults who were supposed to be in charge? Why was this student up on a portable tower 50 feet off the ground with sustained winds at 40 mph (when manufacturers of such an apparatus acknowledge they shouldn’t be used in winds over 30 mph)?

According to news reports, this kind of tower is used by all the major college football programs, as well as the NFL. At Notre Dame, I understand, one typically sits in each of the goal-line areas, in addition to permanent towers situated along the 50-yard line. Perhaps it’s time for a new, safer way to get a bird’s-eye view of practice?

Now everybody knows that, the higher up you go, the stronger the winds. And this was a wicked day, not fit for man or beast. In fact, earlier in the day, students were sent to basements and other safe places when tornado warning sirens blared out.

Football practice the evening before was moved indoors because of inclement weather. Shouldn’t it have been inside on Wednesday, too?

I can’t help shuddering when I think of the horrors this young man endured just doing his job that day. Reports indicate he posted online his trepidation at being on the tower in 60 mph wind gusts and called it “terrifying.”

Why did he stay up there??

A spokesman for the University told a news conference today that pep rallies and such have been canceled this week, but the game on Saturday versus Tulsa will go on in Declan’s memory.

I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to say what Declan would, or wouldn’t, have wanted. But I suspect it will be a subdued atmosphere, and winning (or losing) will have little to do with it.

Notre Dame officials assure us a full investigation will be conducted. That’s as it should be.

But the fact remains that this young man died way before his time. His grieving family, friends, and colleagues will need to band together, taking comfort from their faith and one another.

I’m sure there’s plenty of blame to go around on this one, but “blame” won’t bring Declan back.

Such a senseless tragedy.

Tummy Troubles??

One evening a couple of months ago I heard an ad on TV that grabbed my attention.

It was for Culturelle, a probiotic supplement designed to eliminate forever those digestive upsets we all get — constipation, diarrhea, “tummy troubles.”

Sounded too good to be true, actually, but I wrote down the Web address and checked it out the next day.

There it all was, in living color:

  • Testimonials from people “just like me” who had stomach issues once but, thanks to Culturelle, were “cured.”
  • Informative copy telling the whys of stomach troubles and how Culturelle can “cure” them.
  • Discussion of “good” vs. “bad” bacteria and comparison with other probiotics available.
  • Side effects, dosing, where to buy information.
  • Even coupons to help cut the cost of a package at the store.

Still a skeptic, I called the toll-free customer service number and drilled them on the particulars. Finally, I decided I’d give it a try.

The first couple of days, I felt great. Maybe this will work, I thought. But I “thought” too soon. By Day 3, I had a resurgence of “tummy troubles,” so I called customer service again.

Not to worry, I heard. It takes time for your digestive system to adjust to the “good” bacteria and eliminate the “bad” stuff. Keep taking Culturelle with confidence and you’ll see how strong your immune system will become.

So I kept at it. But two weeks later, I found myself in the bathroom four times in one morning! Shoot, I was afraid to even leave the house.

Once again, I phoned customer service and described my experience for them — the bloating, gas pain, digestive noises, and diarrhea.

You shouldn’t be having these issues at this point, I was told. Maybe at the beginning, but not now. You might be one of those who can’t take Culturelle. Package it up and return it to us for a partial refund.

Best news I’d heard in a LONG TIME!

To be fair, I never felt bad taking Culturelle (if you discount that last day), and part of me wonders whether I should give a different probiotic a try. After all, we live in hectic times, we fail to eat properly, we subject our bodies to a variety of toxins like antibiotics, and there must be something to the studies of how probiotics “strengthen the immune system,” right?

Or do they? The FDA hasn’t rubber-stamped them, and manufacturers are quick to note that results differ among individuals. But still. . . .

Maybe it’s just human nature to worry about invisible things like our digestive systems. Any thoughts?

Back to the Books

Have you ever noticed how “Life” sometimes gets in the way of things you’re supposed to be doing — like keeping up a blog?

That’s exactly what’s been going on in my corner of the world.

For the past 13 months (give or take), I’ve been playing chauffeur for my mom. Not because she’s afraid to drive, not because I have time on my hands and enjoy that sort of thing.

No, it’s because she had eye surgery and can’t drive right now.

The ordeal started in September, 2009, when Mom had cataract surgery performed by a local ophthalmologist. Yes, she checked him out beforehand and received rave reviews; the procedure would be a snap, he told her. So much so that she’d be golfing again — or anything else she chose to do — the very next day.

Hah.

Afterward, her vision was blurry. And time didn’t make it one bit better. Not only has she not even touched a golf club — she’s been unable to read (her passion) or drive; even cooking and walking for exercise are real challenges.

No matter that she religiously inserted the drops and ointments she’d been given. No matter that she was “taxied” (by me) to and from his office every week.

Finally, in desperate fear that her vision was getting even worse, she got a second opinion.

And learned she needed to see a specialist in Indianapolis, who advised her to undergo corneal transplant.

Scary stuff, but it’s wonderful what true professionals can do these days.

That surgery was in mid-September, and my sister (thankfully!) shepherded her through it. But Sis had to go back to her life, leaving me to (once again) taxi Mom to follow-up appointments. And once again, the appointments started off every couple of days, extended to every five days, then weekly, and most recently, two months.

It’s too soon, really, to proclaim the procedure a success, but everybody is guardedly optimistic.

I, too, am beginning to see light at the end of this tunnel. To hope that, once again, Mom will be back to her active self and I can resume my own life.

And even though she’s yet to return to the golf course, Mom is reading again!

Krud Kutter

When I find a great product, I have to tell the world about it.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has insisted on washing every window in her house — all three floors of it!

As kids, we hated this ritual — the nasty discarded T-shirt rags, the ammonia-scented Windex, and having to lean w-a-a-y out the window (all the while praying you didn’t fall to certain death!). It seemed like such a time-waster, when we could be out with our friends playing and having fun.

Besides, nobody else in our neighborhood washed windows (or so we thought). Why did we have to?

But our arguments fell on deaf ears, and we could count on at least one “wasted” Saturday sometime during every summer break. Mom would get out the rags (washed, of course) and the Windex, and we’d sigh, groan, and grumble — to no avail.

After we kids grew up and moved off, Mom continued this task. Only this time, she’d found a little “helper.” No, not a cleaning lady; they don’t do that sort of work. Her helper was called Krud Kutter.

I remember when she told me over the phone about it. “Whatever,” I thought without enthusiasm. “Just as long as I don’t have to participate.”

This morning I saw her get out the hose with that determined gleam in her eyes, and I knew what was coming — window washing.

“I need your help,” she said.

Uh-oh.

Following her directions, I attached the Window Wash plastic bottle to the garden hose, spun the dial to select the suds or the water, and power washed until my heart was content.

This product is awesome! We did the entire house in about a half-hour!

Best of all, Krud Kutter doesn’t leave any streaks, it gets rid of all those nasty spiderwebs and bird poop, AND it’s even earth-friendly!

Who could ask for more?

I still can’t say I enjoy window-washing, but it’s really nice looking outside and seeing things through crystal-clear glass.