Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Eating and Sleeping

I was in Ojai last week and I stopped for coffee at the local place. You get all kinds of Hollywood types who come into Ojai -- Psychics, Aromatherapy Dreamers, Organic Pudding Salesman. All idiots, like me. Practical people go elsewhere.
Who should I meet at this coffee shop but Writer Sean Daly perched on a stool. I had not seen him in three years, since we both stopped attending Doc Murdock's weekly writing workshop, held at the Ojai Library.

I said I admired his recent novel. He said he enjoyed reading Frog Hospital. And what are you reading these days, he asked. History, I said. Captain Cook and his epic journeys. But Sean is reading contemporary short stories.
We were both sitting on stools inside the coffee shop. Stools are tippy and uncertain. I am afraid of heights and I can't enjoy coffee and conversation while perched like a bird. Besides that the coffee shop was packed and noisy at the ten a.m. hour.
I said to Sean, let's sit outside, pointing to an empty table on the patio. He said, nah, I gotta go and eat something.

This I understood. I eat breakfast every morning at 7 a.m. while watching the local news on TV, while reading the daily newspaper, while making very brief comments to Laurie. She does not want to hear my excited reaction to a news story, or my pithy summary of major events. Just the bare bones facts.
We talk later in the day. For the meal itself, today I had Cheerios with almond milk and a scoop of plain yogurt. Over that I squeezed some honey.
I need that scoop of yogurt -- need that protein.  Even so, I get hungry again at mid-morning and carry a banana with me if I'm going to a gardening job. Or crackers and cheese.
My weight is good at 175 and five foot ten inches of height. It never varies. I get exercise everyday and Laurie loves me. 
That's the program.

Sleeping. I am an excellent sleeper. I could give lessons. If I could make money teaching people how to sleep, I would do that.
Even right now, at 8:30 a.m., I feel well-rested and ready to take on the day. Why? Because I had a good night's sleep.
I get in bed shortly after ten p.m. and read a book. Ten minutes later I switch off the light. Ten minutes after that I am sound asleep. At night, with my head on the pillow, I forget my cares and woes. I am happy enough to be in a warm, comfy bed. During the day time I struggle and moan and sweat and scheme  -- all that nonsense. At night I sleep.
Sometimes I have dreams. Last night I dreamed I was at an all-day hippie party at Beth Haley's house in LaConner. Why did I have this dream? I have no idea. Dreams make no sense to me at all, except that I have them and they are usually pleasant. I knew Beth Haley's late husband, Charlie Berg, and her son, Olav Berg. Beth herself grows flowers for a living. I would often see her delivering flowers around LaConner. I was at her house once, about twenty years ago. I  have never had a conversation with her. But this is typical of living 25 years in a very small town, and seeing someone delivering flowers day after day, and year after year -- such a person becomes imprinted in my subconscious -- and sure enough she showed up in my dream last night.
Most nights I sleep soundly until about five a.m. whether I dream or not. In that early hour I begin to -- not wake up, but I am lightly dozing and moving about under the covers. Thinking about stuff at this early hour is not a good idea, and I try not to let my brain start working, but if often does. I just tell myself that any conclusions I reach at five a.m. are null and void.
I get up at 6:15, later on weekends. The point is that on most nights I get almost seven hours of sound sleep, and maybe an hour or so of light sleeping. It makes me feel like God's special child. During the day I complain a lot because things are not going my way, but at night -- sweet dreams.
And this is what I ask when I hear someone has a toothache or a head ache or minor ailment. Did you sleep well? That is the boundary for me. If you sleep well, you will recover naturally from your ailment. but if you are robbed of sleep because of pain or worry, then you need to seek help, medical or otherwise.
A good night's sleep is the measure of tranquility in your life. No matter the daily strife and conflict, if you can sleep good in your own bed, then you are truly at home and at peace.
Politics. All this news from Missouri, from Ferguson and now from the University of Missouri. It makes me think of my Uncle Bob. He lived in St. Louis. We often visited him and Aunt Clare when we were growing up in Chicago. Dad grew up in St. Louis. Aunt Clare was his baby sister. She married Uncle Bob and they lived in a tidy house in outer St. Louis with their two children, Terry and Donna.
Uncle Bob did not have a favorable attitude toward black people. He explained that Missouri was in the northern part of the South and so had southern attitudes about race, which he supported. I took note of that as a growing child when we we stayed at his home.
Uncle Bob was a lineman for AT&T, a steady job. He supported a wife and two children, owned a home and sent his kids to college. Well done, I would say.

 And he drank Pepsi for breakfast. I though that was so radical. My mother let me have Coke once a week, and here it was Uncle Bob drinking all the soda he wanted, even at breakfast. It made me want to grow up -- because if you were a grown man you could drink Pepsi for breakfast, if you wanted to.

It gets so hot and humid in St. Louis in the summer time. When trouble broke out in Ferguson this summer, I knew the heat and humidity just made it worse. It would not have happened in the winter.

I don't know what Missouri is like these days. I last visited my cousin Terry in 2004. I highly doubt he thinks the same way as his Dad about race. But it was not something we ever discussed. Terry worked for the phone company too, but he kept being shifted from company to company, from AT&T to Lucent and to other permutations of telecommunications. The old days of llifetime employment with Ma Bell are over. Still Terry made a pretty good living and owned his home and also owned a forty-acre farm out in the country where he built a cabin for weekend retreats.
This story about Uncle Bob, and his son Terry, and the generation born to Terry -- it's all relevant to the events  in St. Louis. It gives you a context. St. Louis is a rich and highly diverse city -- poet T.S. Eliot was born there, jazz great Miles Davis was born there too.

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Fred Owens
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Fred Owens
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My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
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