Hedonistic Winter Naps

Nap Haven

The art of the nap is one I developed late in life. From the age of 3 to, oh, 40 or so, I could no more take a nap than I could sing lead at the Metropolitan Opera. (Trust me, folks, I cannot sing.)

Naps are a gift most wondrous.

The best ones are the ones that sneak up on you. Planning a nap sucks the essence out of it – like planning a laugh. The pleasure of the nap is inversely related to the intention to nap. Conducting one’s day in productivity mode and then suddenly finding oneself in bed drowsy with increasing lethargy is oh so good.

Even though I’ve discovered the joy of naps, I am still unable to sleep anywhere other than in a bed – preferably my bed.

Even sweet Babette needs a blanket these days.

Winter naps differ significantly from summer naps. Both are pleasant. The winter nap, however, also serves as a body warmer. Recently, and particularly, I’ve enjoyed the dichotomy of being snuggled in my bed while gazing at the frozen tundra which is my yard outside the French doors. Listening to the wind cause the barn to grown and creak has been a nice backdrop to puppy snores and the hum of the nonstop furnace.

Since I haven’t, for the most part, worn anything but pajamas for days, I’ve enjoyed the feel of thick silk against my sinfully high thread count sheets. We hedonists enjoy such pleasures. There have been incidents of crawling into bed in jeans and a sweatshirt. There’s something somewhat illicit about burrowing into the bed clothed in something other than nightwear. Napwear?

I’ve been running at full tilt for months. I knew I was exhausted, but I’d underestimated the extent of it. When downtime hit, I had a number of ambitious projects lined up. I knew I’d need a couple of days of R&R before launching said projects, so I did plan naps.

I’m not sure you could call them naps. I woke in the morning, drank a half a pot of coffee, went upstairs to change clothes and, instead, ended up crawling back in bed where, with some resemblance to a coma, I clocked another 3 or 4 hours of deep, drool on the pillow sleep. I’d get back up, drink the second half of the pot of coffee and end up back in bed for another 3 or 4 hours of sleep before giving up on it all and just going to bed for the night. I reckon that I slept 18 hours a day for a week or so.

I should be well and thoroughly caught up on sleep by now, but it appears maybe not. [The first order of business tomorrow is to make arrangements to have my thyroid re-tested – even if exhausted this is an insane amount of sleep.]

Eyes of Love

If not for the impending arrival of the houseguest and Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s arrival, I think there’s a good chance that absolutely nothing of those ambitious plans would have been accomplished. Mind you, I didn’t make a dent in any of them, but some order has been restored in my living environment which is a great comfort.

Today is my last day, for sure, of downtime. Last Sunday should have been, but snow storms, car problems, plumbing problems, and electrical problems kept me home much of this week. These problems allowed me good time with Chef Boy ‘R Mine and Girlfriend O’His, but the New Normal is knocking on the door and it’s time to get my stick shift out of neutral and rev the engine.

While I’m not planning a nap, I think one is likely.

Puppy Pile

The puppies are champion nappers and if I do succumb to one, I’ll put them in bed with me where Trudy will serve as a foot warmer, Willy as a stuffed animal to clutch as I snooze, and Babette slumbering on top of the covers while completing the tableau of the Still Life with Snoring.

A normal nap does involve street clothes unless it’s summer and I’ve been gardening. In such cases, I strip down and really wallow in the texture of the bed linens. But it is winter. Most likely, this afternoon will find me in jeans, sweatshirt and accompanied by puppies snoozing (and drooling on the pillow) away a couple of hours. (A pox on the power nap! Anything less than a couple hours can’t properly be called a nap.)

It’s all good. While the past ten days have been anything but Total Zen in 2010, I’m feeling pretty grounded and centered. Restored, if you will. The renewal of the New Normal schedule of my life seems doable. A couple of weeks ago, I was ready to wave the white flag of surrender. The opportunity to nap has made all the difference.

Where’s the stick?

I didn’t get the house cleaning/furniture moving gene. Or the vacuuming one.

No pictures. Are you kidding? Let you see the mess I have wrought with one good foot, a bad back, and a Loratab fog?

Last year's Little Tree that started this monstrous horrible mess.

As my father would say, Where’s the stick? [You’re supposed to ask, What stick? And then he says, The stick you stirred this mess up with.]

It’s a flippin’ mess. I can’t imagine what I was thinking. Well, yes, I can. It went something like this.

Mom is coming up eventually to wallpaper the ceiling in the cow bathroom.

While she’s here I should ask her to get the little tree out of the closet for me.

There’s no place for the little tree.

There is a place if I move the sofa forward a couple of feet.

Ah, but, now there’s no room for the desk. [I’d rather die than do without the desk. I love desks.]

OK. If I move the Evil Sewing Machine, I can slide the desk down 10 feet and Voila! room for the tree.

Can’t move the desk. It’s too heavy, I have one foot, and my back already hurts.

Take the drawers out.

Push.

One inch at a time.

Gaze in horror at the mess behind the desk. [I found Willy’s toad, may he rest in peace.]

Drag out the vacuum cleaner. [I’d rather clean the cat box with my tongue than vacuum, but sometimes you just gotta break down.]

Oh No!!!!!!!!! Where do I go with all the crap on the desk and the walls.

Connie wrings her hands in panic and considers another Loratab.

At present, the Evil Demon of Fabric Manipulation is in the middle of the floor as are the vacuum and the carpet cleaner. There’s a toad carcass, a forest worth of dried leaves, several acorns, and a letter I never mailed on the floor where the desk was.

The puppies are wild with consternation.

I never move furniture. I never vacuum. And Willy is mourning the toad.

It’s my mother’s fault.

My mother sewed, vacuumed and moved furniture the way some women buy shoes or bake. It was a great comfort to her to stir everything up (Where’s the stick?) and then re-assemble it in a completely different pattern – often using the Torture Implement of Bobbinhood to whip up some curtains or table runners along the way. When she’s stressed, she vacuums. Vacuums when she’s happy. Vacuums when she’s sad. Vacuums because she needs to and vacuums because there is nothing else to do. At any one time, she owns three or four vacuum cleaners. She lusts over them in stores like I do desks (and shoes).

I spent my formative years listening to the drone of the vacuum cleaner and bruising my shins in the middle of the night.

I only move furniture around until I have found the exact perfect configuration. I’ll move it round and round for some months, maybe years, and then I find the one setup that works and there it remains until it disintegrates into a dust heap. I term it finding the spot the universe wants that piece in. The family room and the Christmas tree are always a battle. The exact perfect configuration does not accommodate the tree.  I was not happy with last year’s arrangement and so here I sit.  Completely demoralized as I lose this battle.

And. So. Here I sit. The family room is in complete disarray. I’m completely out of oomph. My foot hurts. My back hurts. And there is a dead toad lying on the carpet.

I hate being a grown-up.  I have to clean this up whether I want to or not.  And it’s going to involve the vacuum cleaner.  And I have to touch [shudder] the Beelzebub of Thread to keep from bruising my shins in the middle of the night as I stumble down here to guzzle Coca Cola.  (I never drink soda, but Loratabs provoke a need for massive quanities of Classic Coke.)

Ancestors

I think I'll name her Emily.

I think I'll name her Emily.

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, I am introducing my Ancestors.

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a U.S. federal holiday set aside to honor those who died in combat. In the southern states, and Appalachia in particular, the holiday has expanded as a time to remember all of one’s relatives who have passed on.

Because my dad was in the military and for a host of other reasons, I grew up without an extended family – without ancestors, so to speak. My immediate family does not have a cemetery that we can go to this weekend and decorate. We will not be attending any Homecomings (family reunions often held at churches or cemeteries).

While I’m not really all that keen on the idea of spending Monday at a cemetery eating potato salad, I do miss knowing the people that make up the furthest branches of my family tree.

When we moved back here in 1985 and bought “Frank’s old place,” I was often asked, “Who are your people?” That, or some more subtle variation, is a common question and one of the defining characteristics of Appalachian culture. Often the conversation begins with “Where are you from?” The questioner is expecting an answer that names a county or town with more descriptors identifying the family tree. We don’t particularly want to know your occupation (so forget the “so what do you do? question), we want to know who you connect to – how you fit into the quilt of our communities.

My mama's people - the infamous branch.

My mama's people - the infamous branch.

I explain that I’m not from anywhere as my dad was in the military, but that my great-grandparents were Appalachians who out-migrated around the turn of the century. Consequently, I grew up with hillbilly ways in non-hillbilly places. My people, the ones I’m related to by blood, are scattered around the country and due to different life circumstances, I don’t have a lot of information about the kinfolk much past a few generations. It’s kind of sad.

Dusty cardbox box of ancestors

Dusty cardboard box of ancestors

One day, while perusing stuff in an antique store, I found a bin of old photographs. I was enchanted and appalled. Who? Who, in their right mind, would get rid of old family photos? These people, their individuality permeating sepia, were languishing unloved and unappreciated in a dusty cardboard box in a junk store.  The indignity!  And then it dawned on me.  For $3, I bought the first portrait of my Ancestors. I’ve adopted many Ancestors since then.

The photo below is one of my favorites. I’ve named them the Kinton family and have decided that the photo is of a married couple, the vicious mother-in-law, and the sulking teenage son (who, as you may note, is trying to distance himself from the embarrassment of having to hang out with his parents).

The Kintons
The Kintons

I’m particularly fond of the noble steeds. Apparently, my extended family eschewed equestrian activities for burro-ian ones.  [Note:  Now we know where I got my innate sense of dignity in awkward situations.]  Of all the Ancestors, this family intrigues me the most and set the tone for my collection.  Not all, but many of my Ancestors, are quirky.  While I regret not knowing my real family well, I love the freedom of choosing people and creating biographies while simultaneously being pissed off that someone, anyone, would give up such precious photos.

I love the church pew - I'm strange that way.

I love the church pew - I'm strange that way.

The Ancestors have been languishing in a dusty cardboard box on my church pew for sometime now. I want a better life for them, buth such things take time and money – precious commodities in my life.  My goal is to have them all professionally framed so I can hang them above the church pew to be viewed (and remembered). I will be able to point to “my people” and, as soon as I finish writing biographies for each of them, explain where they lived, what they did and who they loved. [Note: I adore the church pew. Having been raised in a fundamentalist religious tradition, I take a certain amount of contrary pleasure in sitting on the church pew en flagrante déshabillé, smoking a cigarette and sipping wine.]

I’ve spent the morning digging through the ancestors as well as photos of my more immediate family. It’s been a bittersweet time. I’d like to go to a cemetery and sit in green grass and remember them – pull some weeds, plant a rose or two, admire the daisies growing on the hillside. Instead, I will spend this weekend working in the garden that includes many of the plants they gave me or I dug up from their yards after they passed.

Daisies - a really underappreciated flower.

Daisies - a really underappreciated flower.

We lost two of my dad’s sisters a couple of months ago.  Marvelous women, both of them, we are still grieving.  They died two hours and 900 miles apart, some what unexpectedly. I’m planning to go to the nursery and buy their favorite flowers to plant in my garden. I think that will encompass the spirit of things.

In memory of Kathy, and, in particular, Irene, who loved the absurd as much as I.  One after one, they endured some of the most horrible events life can offer, yet still managed to laugh.  I miss them both.