Joanne Palmer: Cookies and washcloths cure all |
Joanne Palmer

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Joanne Palmer: Cookies and washcloths cure all

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

Today, I am a grumpy old lady.

My joie de vivre is wadded up inside mogul-size mounds of tissues scattered all over the coffee table, and my usual sense of humor must be buried in there, as well. I feel peckish. As I lay underneath four blankets on the living room couch with a congested head and achy body, it is easy to convince myself this is the first stop on the express bus to swine flu. Excuse me, I mean H1N1.

Besides being sick, there are homemade chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen, and given the choice between the cookies and chicken soup, which would you choose? Exactly.

Scientists have neglected to research the medicinal properties of Tollhouse cookies, especially the kind I make, with real butter. Chocolate always makes me feel better, and chocolate and chicken soup together may pack the punch I need to send this cruddy head cold packing.

Even though I don’t have a fever, I am tempted to apply a wet washcloth to my forehead. I come from a long line of wet washcloth people, and I’m sure my family tree would support this claim. My mother is a big believer in the wet washcloth, and as a child, a wet washcloth always was administered before a thermometer, soup or a bowl of ice chips. Besides the wet washcloth, she always brought a bell to my bedside so I wouldn’t have to strain my voice calling her. All I had to do was give a little ring and listen for her footsteps bounding up the stairs.

“Nurse Jane FuzzyWuzzy,” she’d say with a smile.

What is making me grumpy today is the number of options available to the sick person. I know this a good thing, and in any other state besides a congested sneezing one, I wouldn’t despair.

But somehow when I feel peckish and just want to get in and out of the grocery store in record speed, it is maddening to stand in front of the boxes of tissues trying to decide between extra soft, super soft with aloe or just scratchy cheap tissues that will make my nose redder and more swollen than it already is. Then I realize tissue is not a politically correct choice. I should be using a cloth bandanna or handkerchief instead of killing trees, and this realization makes me feel worse than I already do.

The tissue choice is not nearly as overwhelming as the cold medicine choices – all of which are probably not as effective as the wet washcloth – but there are four-hour cold remedies, eight-hour cold remedies, 24-hour cold remedies, middle-of-the-night remedies and middle-of-the-day remedies, and they all blur together.

Maybe I need cough drops and a heating pad, too. And a magnifying glass to read the list of ingredients and side effects.

After making these mind-numbing decisions, I headed for the car. Halfway across the lot, my plastic bag (shame on me) ripped open and my glass bottle of tomato sauce shattered, my boxes of tissues flew into the air and my cold medicine sat in a heap in the middle of a parking lot while sleeting, cold, could-be-snow rain fell on top of the whole sad pile. And me.

I just stood there sneezing, unable to take any action.

Fortunately, the store employees arrived quickly, graciously guided me back into the store, double-bagged my groceries and replaced the tomato sauce.

I felt better already, which just goes to show that kindness is really the best remedy of all.