Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday: The magical and the mystical, "it's good for what ails you"

Every winter for the last couple of years, just after Christmas, it seems time for me to get sick. Despite scrubbing my hands, and using disinfectant on every door handle and door jam in my house, something always seems to catch me. Getting sick led me to think about the kinds of remedies used for generations in my family to cure various ailments. Some of these curatives seem more like magic than medicine, and I wonder if it was the placebo effect which worked wonders rather than the remedy itself. Suffice to say I don't recommend any of these, so proceed with extreme caution if you feel tempted to give any of them a try.

Hot tea bags for styes in the eyes:

My mother swears by this remedy. You boil water for tea, and allow two bags to steep. While the tea is still quite warm (much too warm for me), you bathe your closed eye with the tea, pressing and holding the bags to your eye until all of the tea liquid is gone. You repeat this process for any number of days until the stye has disappeared.

I think a warm compress works just as well, but my mother is convinced the cure is in the tea. I believe my mom may have picked up this practice on the Canadian side of the pond, because she was completely unfamiliar with tea bags until she came to Canada. In Ireland tea was always made with loose leaves, not tea bags. Someday I will share the story of my mom's first encounter with a Canadian tea bag.


Poultices are credited with working very well for infections. My own mom as well as mothers and grandmothers down through the maternal line of my family are credited with the use of poultices. My dad's mother and grandmother also used them.

Bread and Milk Poultice:

My mother would heat milk and soak slices of bread in it. She would then either wrap the concoction in thin brown paper and apply it to the wound, or apply the bread directly to the skin. When I was a teenager I suffered a very bad sunburn on my shoulders, and out came the warm milk and bread poultice. It took away the sting and the skin healed beautifully.

Mustard Poultice:

Mustard poultices were used to treat congestion and coughs, and even walking pneumonia. The mustard must be made from mustard powder (hot dog mustard just won't do). The mustard preparation is thickly spread on strips of cotton which have been soaked in very hot water; these are applied to the chest. Such a poultice is said to offer immediate relief of discomfort in the chest by increasing circulation in the afflicted area. I'm happy to say I have not yet had to wear this concoction.

For a sore throat and a bad cold: A woollen neck wrap with lots of vapo-rub:

I don't know if this actually worked, but when I was a child I loved to be wrapped up in a soft flannel neck wrap, my throat covered with loads of vapo-rub to effect a cure. When I had a sore throat and cold, this remedy was followed by lots of bed rest. It seemed to do the trick. This remedy is attributed to my mom.

For a sore throat: Gargling with salt water, lots of salt water:

Just thinking about this cure makes me feel a little queazy. The worst part of it was accidentally swallowing some of the mixture. Just the thought of this cure always made my throat feel better. This remedy is attributed to my maternal great grand-aunt Alice Ward.

A very hot needle to remove a splinter:

OUCH!!! In my opinion the remedy in this case is far worse than the ailment. The needle is super heated by holding it in a fire or on the hot burner of a stove. It is pushed into the skin in the same area as the splinter in order to draw the splinter out. This is another remedy attributed to my maternal great grand-aunt Alice. I think she may have had a touch of the sadist in her.

For general health and well being: Cod liver oil malt:

My maternal aunt Bernadette must own responsibility for the use of this. I still remember my very first encounter with this menace. Aunt Bernadette had it shipped to Canada from Ireland, by our aunt Kathleen I suspect. It arrived in a very large jar, and we gathered all around hoping for a spoonful as Aunt Bernadette opened the jar. The scent of it wasn't too bad; however, when she plunged in a large metal spoon and drew it back out the ladle was covered with a dark, thick, gooey mass. She pressed me to ingest it. I did, and although it didn't taste so bad, the texture was very unpleasant. Thick, goopy and and kind of chewy, it stuck to my teeth. I could feel myself wretch as it slid down my throat. "It's good for what ails you", she exclaimed, "it's healthy". Eventually we were given Canadian style cod liver oil in tiny round capsules which I was quite happy to ingest.

Do you have any home remedies in your family tree?

Thank you to The Graphics Fairy for the clip art.
©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2011.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mappy Monday: Making use of a lesson learned

On Wednesday 5 January 2011, I was one of many who 'attended' Thomas MacEntee's excellent webinar "Google for Genealogists". The presentation was filled with solid advice for genealogists and family historians who want to make the best use of the 155 applications Google offers.

One of these applications is Google maps. For many years I have used Google Maps when travelling, and over the years as I began to document the history of my family, I created maps to guide me to the various places in which family members were born, lived, died, and are buried in Ireland. I have emailed maps to others and printed out maps; however, I have not yet used such a map in any blog postings.

In his presentation Thomas demonstrated the use of such a map. If you wish to include a map in a blog post, after you have created your map in Google Maps, you will see on the left side of the map page the icon for the link possibility. If you click on this link icon you will see the HTML code you will need in order to post your personal map. You can also customize the map size.

So...Thank You Thomas MacEntee for this suggestion and many more, and here on Mappy Monday is the first of many family tree related "Google Maps" for this blog. If you click on the blue markers each one bears a description of the significance of the place on the map. For the best overall view, click on the link to view the larger version.

View 'On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History: Mapping out family history in a larger map

©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2011.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ancestor Approved: Thank You for the lovely surprise

To put it mildly, I have felt less than great over the last few days. Maybe it's that big let down that happens after all the mad rush to get ready for hosting over the holidays. When you know you don't have to prepare anything for anyone, then maybe your body takes over and says, "okay it's time to get sick".


This morning, still not feeling 100%, I received a message from Jo at Images Past awarding this blog the Ancestor Approved Award, a lovely surprise. Thank You very much Jo. Back in April Carol at Reflections From the Fence and Sharon at Kindred Footprints recognized this blog with the award, and I am very grateful to receive it once again.

My list of ten lessons learned needs a little tweaking, so I ask that you allow me a little time to get that done, and to pass the award along. The old saying "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" seems most fitting at this time; however, the spirit of gratitude is alive and feeling very well, and I thank you so very much.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Mystery Monday: In a daguerrotype: who is she?

It is funny what you come across when you are running around picking up odds and ends in preparation for Christmas. In preparing our home for company we had to go to a drapery shop to pick up a finial for the dining room drapes. In the midst of their mad play, our dogs had become entangled in the drapes and down came the rod, smashing one of the glass finials, so off to the shop we went. Walking from the parking lot to the drapers we noticed a antiques and curiosity shop nearby, so we went inside to have a look.

In a larger counter in the middle of the shop was displayed a selection of photographs and cartes de visite. While they were interesting, all were only copies of the originals. While I was perusing them, for some unknown reason, the word 'daguerrotype' popped into my head (not a usual occurrence) and I asked the shop keeper if she had any. A daguerrotype is a 'photograph' produced through the 19th century process developed by Louis Daguerre, in which an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapour are employed in order to produce an image.

The shop keeper said she had only one, which had been in the shop since it opened, and which just happened to be in a cabinet directly behind me. As far as I know, the woman in this image is not a member of my family, but I could not leave 'her' in the shop because I felt there was some reason I was supposed to have her image. Someone must know her story. The image was sold to the shop after a family cleared out the farm home of a deceased elderly relative in Ontario Canada.

Who is this woman in the daguerrotype?
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