Bless us all during this sneezy time of the year

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Be able to sneeze without sounding ridiculous. That means neither stifling yourself or spraying your immediate vicinity.

-- Marilyn vos Savant

I am paying for past sins.

I used to laugh at people who suffered from allergies.

I grew snarky at their sneezes. I showed irritation at their constant coughing.

I rolled my eyes as they trumpeted their miseries into a handkerchief or tissue.

"Nice elephant call," I'd say smartly. "Do they ever respond?"

I was oblivious to it all.

Well, these days I'm in that same sniffling, sneezing, wheezing situation I used to disdain.

It happens every spring.

In fact, this spring it's probably worse than usual, state officials say, after a colder than usual winter unleashed the pollen parade on us now.

Pam Knox , the assistant state climatologist, told the Athens Banner-Herald that such suffering is universal.

"I don't have bad allergies," she said, "but I think this time of year -- everybody, I think, feels some effects."

And not just people.

"Even my cat is sneezing," Knox said.

"Bless you," I say.

Bless me, too.

BLOG ALERT: My Our Town history blog on augustachronicle.com might tell you something you didn't know about "Fighting Joe" Wheeler , the old general that Wheeler Road is named for.

For example, did you know he appeared in one of the first war movies? It was filmed in 1898.

Pretty good for a guy who was born the year the Alamo fell.

YOUR MAIL: Doris Charnock sends a postcard from Atlanta, where she says she is attending the Viking Cooking School and learning how to cook fish in new ways.

Pat and Wayne Fuller , of North Augusta, send a card from Martinique, where "we saw the Savannah Gardens and St. Louis Cathedral and wonderful sites in Port-de-France, the capital. Weather is great."

TODAY'S JOKE: Here's one from Bill Wood in Hephzibah.

Clem and Lulu had nine children. They went to the doctor to see about getting Clem a vasectomy.

The doctor gladly undertook the procedure. But afterward, he asked why, after nine children, they decided to do this.

Well, Clem said slowly, they had read in a recent article that one out of every 10 children being born in the United States was Hispanic, and they didn't want to take a chance on having such a child because neither of them spoke Spanish.

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