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Chips, westerns good coping mechanisms

Everybody experiences stress of some sort, of one kind or another.

How we respond to it is another story.

I’d like to think I handle it well, but I don’t, truth be told, although I try.

I’m probably a lot like my horse Thunder — uptight when normalcy takes a vacation.

Last Sunday, for example, when it was super duper windy, I thought this was not a terribly bad way to start a new month, even if it did involve some unexpected weird snow squalls I wasn’t exactly ready to welcome.

But the wind did get rid of all the leaves we were assuming we’d have to rake, a chore that would rob us of another three, four or five hours of our lives that we’d never get back.

So three cheers — no, make that four or five — for mother nature.

But Thunder, who is happily in chronic head-down, grass-eating mode, suddenly wasn’t eating and seemed stressed out a bit.

Hmmm.

He was looking very, very alert all of a sudden as if a horse fly were on his back, about to help himself to a bite, and he was staring intently at something in the corner of the field.

Hmmm.

Then he was trotting around nervously in circles, stopping long enough to look again at that very same spot.

I’m happy to report that I was able to intervene and eradicate his elevated stress level. The culprit was a big, bad piece of black tarp that the wind had blown from somewhere, and it had got stuck on the back part of the fence.

Scary, stressful situation solved. Horse mommy to the rescue.

This whole year has been one stressor after another, from the COVID-19 situation and our response to it and the presidential election.

Better Half, the household’s self-professed political analyst, monitored returns all alone because I couldn’t bear to watch.

I retreated to another part of the house with my stress relief — a bag of Kroger brand potato chips that are, of all things, prime rib and horseradish flavored. Crazy delicious! That’s some good eatin’, Clark.

I felt better, sedated by salty chips that tasted as if they’d just come off the grill.

And I watched, not election returns, but a good old rerun of a “Big Valley” western episode, where everything stressful gets resolved in a matter of so many minutes and so many commercials.

Ironically this particular episode was about the Barkley family members aboard a train, on their way to the state fair, and Audra, looking forward to entering her pickles in the competition, is stricken with appendicitis.

Luckily for her, there’s a doctor aboard. He’s got a shady past, but he’s got a relatively sharp knife, a steady enough hand and some whiskey for sterilization and a post-operative toast.

I don’t know if Audra ultimately got a ribbon for her pickles but at least she got out of a pickle.

Ditto for my sister Cathy.Imagine my surprise to hear that she was fine one minute and the next having her appendix removed after experiencing chills, nausea and pain in her right side.

Thank God for modern medicine.

Have a good week and may your stress levels be low.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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