Everything Old Is New Again

If you’re entranced by the latest cultural throwback, a completely silent black and white film called “The Artist,” then perhaps you are charmed enough to try out another very old thing that was recently discovered – the world’s most ancient mattress.

Mom-With-Too-Much-Time-On-Her-Hands Concept of a Prehistoric Bed

National Geographic says the find in South Africa is a squishy pad made out of compacted grasses and leafy plants, and is 77 thousand years old. That’s about how long it has been since I turned the mattress at home. In prehistoric times and today, bed maintenance isn’t one of those ‘top of mind’ tasks.

So how good a night’s sleep could you get on a bed of Jurassic Leaves? Personally, I wouldn’t expect much. For me, it’s all in the pillow, and National Geographic doesn’t mention that kind of accessory in this bedroom set. This is the bed you set on fire every so often just to get rid of the garbage and discourage pests. So not only did they not have ‘sleep numbers,’ they just plain didn’t have numbers. And it shows in their behavior. If you can’t count, there’s no such concept as ‘too much.’ And these ancient beds are large enough to accommodate the whole family – which is the sleeping preference of people for whom the concept of one or two to a bed “is unknown.”

I take news of a prehistoric, smelly, insect-ridden family bed as just one more piece of evidence that proves we modern people are hopelessly spoiled. Our obsession with creature comforts has made us weak and whiney, and if magically transported back 77 thousand years, we would probably die in less than 10 minutes. And why not? Anything would be better than eating a still-throbbing heart from the bloody remains of some recent kill and then trying to sleep in a leafy, buggy bed. Survival of the fittest, indeed! If THEY were so fit, why are we so Unfit? And how awful will our current beds seem to people 77 thousand years from now?

What do you need to have in order to fall asleep?

103 thoughts on “Everything Old Is New Again”

      1. Long story Barb. But early in my life I spent a year in a too small bed. I vowed the rest of my life I’d have plenty of space to roll around in. Hence the king sized bed.

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  1. my husband, who falls asleep standing up even, says all you need is a clear conscience. but i haven’t been able to figure out what it is that helps me fall asleep and STAY asleep. a good question, Dale. maybe i’ll find the answer today in the wise postings of the baboon congress.
    after milking today we’ll go out and i’ll try to clean the pee off of T’s front legs so it doesn’t eat down to his bones. then trim his front hooves that i couldn’t get to when he was so frenzied last month. that oughta help me sleep tonight.

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      1. 🙂 well, T is a good guy so i want to keep his legs working. my rewards will be a nice, warm shower and a trip to TJ’s in Mahtowa to buy from his old fashioned bulk Christmas candy selection and then eat some on the way home. hope all of the baboons have as good a day as we’ll have.

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    1. I swear by Yogi “Bedtime” tea, Barb… sip a large mug of it right before bed and see if it does the trick. Helps me sleep sound ALL night long!

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      1. *snort snort* (one for each of you)…
        I drink it straight… doesn’t seem to even need the additives suggested by the two of you. There have been times where I’ve wondered if all the ingredients are legal… I’ve checked the label, and they are! 😉

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  2. I have a strange, messy personal history when it comes to sleeping. One result is that I don’t think of my bed as a place to sleep but more a place to entertain the right sort of friend. In the past I’ve been tempted to envy Barb’s goat T, for it seems he gets to do a lot of entertaining, but at least I don’t have to deal with pee on my front legs.

    For sleeping, during most of my life I’ve done better on sofas than beds. At my cabin, of course, the best sleep of all was in my gazebo in a sleeping bag in a hammock swinging in the night breezes coming off the big lake.

    Until recently I suffered from a raging case of sleep apnea, and when that had me I could sleep anywhere doing anything. I lost my favorite coffee mug a few months ago when I fell asleep while holding a mug of steaming coffee to my mouth.

    Now that I know about sleep apnea what I need to sleep well is a strange machine called a CPAP. It has a grey console and a hose that ends in something that looks like a pink bra wrapped around a nose piece. Each night I stretch the bra over my head, position the nose thingie and turn on the machine so it can blow refreshing air into my lungs. I wouldn’t mind being a Neanderthal, but I’ll bet their CPAP machines were really crude and uncomfortable.

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    1. My dad used CPAP. Once he had it, he realized how little sleep he had been getting. Mom loved it, too, because she wasn’t waking up every time he quit breathing to listen for the next breath. 🙂

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    2. don’t be tempted to have T’s entertaining life. in the time you can say “up, head back, down” it’s over. and almost always outside in the cold. all he gets is a petting and a “GOOD BOY!!” and i get the money 🙂 i think he sleeps fairly well though.

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      1. Now that you put it that way, Barb, I suddenly got the idea that you’re a pimp manager for goats! A very sweet, and highly ethical one at that. 8)

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      2. Clyde’s right, but thanks, Joanne iBL – Pimps R Me. when we lived in Mpls, and i was a poor student working at the European Flower Market in the middle of the IDS center, we’d see the pimps hanging out on the second level balcony – warm and cozy. my pimping isn’t as comfy – and it’s a good deal smellier. and on tuesday morning i got bopped in the nose when T moved in before i got out of the way. but then, my clientele are willing – T is very ethical also – he never breeds until a doe is ready. it’s like the Orson Wells commercial – “we will sell no wine before its time” 🙂

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  3. For the first two hours, a mild sleeping pill and three central nervous system pills. For the next two hours an hour or so of pacing and watching TV, and taking Excedrin and Ibuprofin, For the next hour or so, a drink of water and a pace or two around the house while eating something. For the last hour 8 hours of being awake. What I sleep on is irrelevant.

    2 above outside. Did do my last outdoor bike ride yesterday, only went down on the ice once. Did 3520 miles outdoors this year. Now going to the nice and convenient bike upstairs for an hour or.

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    1. clyde. i have my motorcycle poised to go out when the sun is shining and the temp is up there enough to feel nice in minnesota. wind chill is factored in for my rides as i have no windshield, i would guess you gave the same issue. in january after the blood thickens up 20 feels so warm it makes me smile.
      sorry to hear you went down yesterday. may want to look at winter wheels with the grabber tread for your active lifestyle. how is the new place working out, carpet padding vapors and stuff done being issues? neighbors are not too in your face? got any christmas carving going on or are your hands too knotted up for that this year?

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      1. tim
        I’m done until March
        When is it nice enough for you to ride? what temp do you need?
        apartment is doing fine; no chemicals, convenient, nice to have exercise room upstairs with no big rush of users
        only know the manager and the one person we knew before we moved in. Quiet building, stiff quiet rules. We are at an isolated end.
        Done carving for now, maybe for forever, quit painting, can barely type anymore.

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  4. I can generally sleep most anywhere so long as I’m warm (but not too warm) and it’s quiet. The latter was one of the first true compromises to be made with Husband as he is a white noise kinda guy…and it makes me crazy. Ten years in we have found accommodation for each other’s needs with a quieter set of “white noises” than Husband used to use (and that aren’t so noisy they keep me awake). Left to my own devices, I’d sleep in the middle of the bed with a dog curled up next to me…but that was one of the other compromises of marriage. Sigh.

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    1. my wife does sllep in the middle of the bed with her dog curled up next to her, unless that is i get up to go read or work on the computer in the other room

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      1. We’ve had an ‘indoor’ dog the last couple years. ‘Allie’ the rat terrier either snuggles up behind my knee or down at the foot.

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    2. Husband is mildly allergic to the dog, so that means we try to minimize the dog fur on the bed. Plus, with to adults on a queen sized bed, there probably isn’t room for a hound who is, I’m sure, a bed hog (judging from how he snuggles on the couch, when allowed). My prior hound not only curled up with me on the bed, she liked to sleep with her head either on my shoulder (if I was sleeping on my back), or on my hip (if I was sleeping on my side) – she was a totally bed hog and I frequently woke up about to fall off the bed because she had been pushing me over.

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      1. Try sharing your regular double bed w/ two dogs, a cat and occasionally, the Teenager! Although in his defense, Thorin doesn’t usually stay on the bed for more than 1/2 an hour or so. Rhiannon and Zorro are all-nighters however.

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  5. Unfortunately, I’m a very light sleeper, so everything bothers me. Too much noise keeps me from falling asleep, and too much light or heat wakes me up, after which I then have trouble falling asleep again. I used to not be able to sleep in hotels because the mattresses were too different from what I was used to at home (switching to a nice solid futon has helped somewhat). Oh, and caffeine and alcohol both mess up my sleep as well. No wonder I’m more exhausted after a convention (supposedly a vacation) than beforehand!

    Reminds me, I’ve noticed one advantage to the passing of the Dowager Empress: no one is yowling for attention at 4 A.M. anymore. I suspect I may actually be sleeping through the night more often than not these days, thanks to her removal to the Summerland.

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    1. I used to sleep at will. I would often fall asleep on the living room rug on my stomach. I would correct papers that way then fall asleep. So the cat would sleep in the small of my back (which was how cats slept on standing animals in our barn in my childhood). But when me daughter got to the crawling stage, she would push the cat off my back and sleep there herself.

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  6. sleep perchance to dream. i love sleep but it has aleays been an afterthought. someone pointed out a fistfull of years ago my issues in life may be caused by sleep deprivation. i am using sleep as a recharge as i do with my phoen when it is getting low. plug it in for 20 minutes before i need to get to that next meeting and then remember to plug it in after so it doesn’t run out on the way to the next one. it eventually gets plugged in somewhere and gets back up to 100% but no telling when or how many days in a row that will happen. i tend to run on autopilot much of the time. i do have my prefereences when it is time for bed. a cup of tea, a monster glass of water and a computer bedside and the tv on to letterman then turner classic movies. i used to have people in china wher my 3 am is their 4 pm who i would correspond with in the middle of the night but i have modified that and only do it when there are deadline issues i need to check in on. i am never too worried about it and always get caught up eventally but the other night was a doosey. i made ann appointment with the owner of one of the comapnies i work with to meet a guy in atalnta at 1 pm tuesday. he flies a little plane and we agreed i would ride down with him departing at 630am form the milwaukee area. i had stuff here on mnday so i figureed i would catch a nap in the afternoon and take off about 10pm to drive over with 2 hours factored in for cat naps along the rest stops on route. laid down at 3 fell fast asleep until 320 woke up and knew i was screwed. when i get a total relaxed state for 20 minutes its tough to get back to sleep again so instead ofleaving at 10 i left at 8 and as i drove across wisconsin i would pull off and get 30 minutes here and 1 hour there. 2 or 3 in the morning with 2 or 3 hours left to go dictate how much rest you can get. hit the plane at 6am and had time to get a cup of coffee. good thing too the pilot host was not much on customer service. we got to atalnta and had the meeting and flew bak arriving at 8pm and i jumped in the car and got back to minneapolis for a n appointemnt wednesday morning. leaving there at 8 getting back in at 3am slept until 730 and am now back to as close to normal as i get. years of living out of a suitcase inan always too dry hotel room in where the heck am i today wakeupmode have left me dysfunctional in yet one more claimable area of life. usual routine these days is cbs news, letterman asleep before end. swithch to movies upon 2 am restless rollover and get up at various intervals for pit stops due to mass quantities of tea wine water consumed throughout the day.(i am a liquid guy) final wakeup about 6 to 7 with blog roll and getting the kids off to school. their om is home this year til 9 am and that is a huge help , last year she was gone a 701 and school send off was my top of the list morning activity.no problem except my youngest has watched too many tv shows and is afraid of being stolen so if i had to leave early i had to make arrangements with the other bus stop people to help out. 1- or two mornings a week typically. i dont have sleep apthia i dont think but i do have screwed up sleep habbits. this along with all my other screwed up dysfunctional approaches to life me for entertaining blog conversation and christmas party antecdotes but there may be a better way. what do ya think?

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      1. which why? the atlanta trip was an answer to a deal ive been cooking up for two years. it will mean more business than my company can handel so we need to go be job creators and partner with another fistful of people to help us until we have all the dts connected rwo years down the road. people always ask me how do you do it an i always answer how do you stop?

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  7. Just my pillow and blankie. Flannel sheets in winter are such a good thing, and no sheets in the heat of summer (no A/C). Husband and I have figured out we sleep better if we start out together, then separate, so I’m usually on the futon in the guest room, which I love. I count myself supremely fortunate that with a few exceptions, I fall asleep almost instantly. I may be awake for a while if I get up mid-night, but I’m finding that if I drink very little after supper, I’m sleeping almost through the night.

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    1. That was our pattern for many years: start together, end apart. I wonder how many couples do that. Now we know it is common for sleep to occur in several distinct blocks, so it isn’t such a big deal to move in the night.

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      1. I joke about how Husband and I have separate beds in the same bed (sleep number bed, different numbers – separate top sheets and blankets for our different heating and cooling needs…quite civilized, really).

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  8. Morning–

    I didn’t sleep well last night for some reason. Arthritis in my knee woke me up; must be a weather change coming.
    Usually I sleep pretty well; it helps if you stay up until 1 or 2 AM and read the blog before bed…
    I used to go to sleep with a radio on and then no alarm would wake me up in the morning. I remember more than once my dad coming up from the barn, yelling at me to “GET UP!” and slamming the door and stomping out. I hated facing him after one of those episodes.

    I won’t hear our daughter fussing during the night but a dog barking will wake me. On the farm, a barking dog usually means there is a problem; either someone coming down the driveway or varmints in the chicken coop. And I can’t fall asleep if there’s an incandescent light on, but fluorescents don’t bother. Curious.

    OT- I’m not a friendship assassin after all. Does this mean I’m out of the band?

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    1. what band? i am missing the reference.
      i know waht you mean about the dogs. i have no need for a security system. if anyone steps foot on the property the basset and the wolf start yapping loud and the little dog does the whirling dervish ip dance to chime in. my sleep like everything else is a thing of the moment, sensative or dead to the world. thats me just when is the question.

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      1. tim, you know, THE band! The Post-Punk (or maybe string ensemble) all ukulele band who’s name Dale suggested as ‘Friendship Assassins’ – from Monday 12/5.

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      2. I thought it was “Assassins of Friendship”….either way, I’m pretty sure an all uke version of “We Will Rock You” would have to be in our repertoire.

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      3. i missed that with my sleep attemp in my afternoon nap before the all nighter on route to the little plane. i am thinking uke and mandolin are the next two instraments to take on but i am being seriously sidetracked by my daughters trumpet right now.

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    2. I’m a sound sleeper, once I fall asleep I’m dead to the world. Emergency sirens, thunderstorms, fireworks, loud parties, I simply do not hear them. But, let a cat throw up anywhere in the house, and I’m wide awake instantly.

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  9. I once heard that Vern Sutton got married relatively late in life. He fussed and fussed about how he could possibly sleep with some other person in his bed. So he practiced by sleeping with a strange object in bed . . . an ironing board.

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  10. I seem to go in phases. Sometimes I sleep like a baby. A lot of times I don’t. The things that help me sleep are low-stress, good health, strenuous outdoor exercise, no liquids after 7 p.m., my own bed, and silence. It’s not easy to get all six of those at once.

    If I’m stressed about something, my sleep pattern is the first to show it. I don’t sleep well if my emotions have been cranking or I’m excited about something. I hardly sleep at all the week of Rock Bend. I don’t sleep well away from my own bed either, although I can get used to being in a different place.

    I’ve had some really noisy neighbors here in Waterville but it’s been pretty quiet in the last year. I got used to turning on a fan or an air filter to create a little white noise in order to cover up what was going on outside. I haven’t needed it for the noise lately, but the asthma is a whole other story. I’m just getting over a bout of sinusitis and asthmatic bronchitis. The coughing and asthma has been much worse at night. Last night was the best night I’ve had in awhile. I got about five hours of sleep before I started coughing! 🙂 I think I’m on the mend!

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  11. Greetings! Being a light sleeper, I need quiet and dark. A cool room, ‘cuz I like covers. Snuggling kept to a minimum, as I like my space. Down pillows, down comforter and cozy flannel sheets — preferably Lands’ End 6 oz flannel as there is nothing finer or softer on God’s green earth. I never thought I’d like flannel sheets, but now that’s all I have on my bed year round (AC is necessary in summer). Since menopause, I’ve had more difficulty falling asleep, but it’s much better now.

    And of course, a good firm mattress. I am also religious about bedtime — a consistent sleep and wake time is essential for good health in my mind. Tim, my friend, I could NOT do your lifestyle — so, good luck with that.

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  12. I think biB’s husband is right, a clear conscience does wonders for sleeping well. For me, lack of stress, a firm mattress, soft pillow, down comforter, warm feet, and a cool room are also important. A pet or two snuggled up next to me don’t hurt either. Buddy, a favorite cat of mine that died three years ago, loved to snuggle between the headboard of the bed and the top of my head, sort of like a furry, purring cap. I miss him still.

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    1. I remember staying with a friend at her apartment in New York and her warning me that one of her cats was like your Buddy…added bonus: the cat liked to chew on your hair while you slept. Made for some interesting “bed head” the mornings I was staying with her.

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      1. The Anderson Hotel in Wabasha offered the option of a free cat to sleep in your room at night. Don’t know if they still offer that service, but they used to.

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      2. The Anderson House has been closed for a few years now – victim of the economy. It has been purchased recently and will re-open but I don’t think the new owners are going to run it in the same way. There will be some rooms available (sans cats) but they’re going to be putting in some shops on one of the floors. They won’t emphasize the restaurant either. The owners own The Pizzeria in Wabasha – great chicken and garlic whole wheat crust pizza.

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      3. Sadly, the Anderson House closed a few years back. It was always fun to visit the cat room and see just which feline was the purr-fect one for you!

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      1. That was the Albert Hall (“now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall…”). From “Day in the Life”- which is topical, sorta, since there is also the line about, “Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…”

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  13. Sleep? What is that? I was up until midnight baking three pies for our agency Christmas party. I finally fell asleep at 1am, and got up at 4am so I could be on the road by 5am so I could drive 2. hours to testify for 15 minutes in Tribal Court in New Town, ND. (They are on Central Time, which makes everything early for we who are on Mountain Time.) The road is a curvy and twisty two lane through the Badlands with hundreds of oil related vehicles on it. Then I drove back and I am going to go to bed until Lunch. I need a cool, quiet room and a firm mattress. I have a husband who snores and who likes a warm room. I also have a dog and two cats who like being warm, and they think I am lots warmer than my husband, so they glue themselves to me at night. One of the cats also purrs really loud and sort of snores I don’t sleep particularly well. At least my husband hasn’t had many nightmares lately, since when that happens he strikes out and I sometimes get punched. It also doesn’t help when the terrier gets mad that there are cats in bed and starts barking at them and chasing them out of the room in the wee hours.

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      1. Clyde, you reminded me of this:

        Just a little atom of Chlorine, valence minus one
        Swimming through the sea, digging the scene, just having fun
        She’s not worried about the shape or size of her outside shell
        It’s fun to ionize
        Just a little atom of Cl with an unfilled shell

        But somewhere in that sea lurks handsome Sodium
        With enough electrons on his outside shell plus that extra one
        Somewhere in this deep blue sea there’s a negative
        For my extra energy
        Yes, somewhere in this foam my positive will find a home

        Then unsuspecting Chlorine felt a magnetic pull
        She looked down and her outside shell was full
        Sodium cried, “What a gas, be my bride
        And I’ll change your name from Chlorine to chloride!”

        Now the sea evaporates to make the clouds for the rain and snow
        Leaving her chemical compounds in the absence of H2O
        But the crystals that wash upon the shore are happy ones
        So, if you never thought before
        Think of the love that you eat when you salt you meat!

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  14. I’m one of the fortunate ones…. no sleep issues for me as long as I have fresh air. The window by the head of my bead is open to varying degrees year-round. I like a cool room, so when the temps drop to the negative digits I just pull the down comforter tighter under my chin. I hate a hotel room where the windows don’t open.

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  15. I love pillows; I have a lot of them on my bed, for sitting up and reading and for snuggling into later. I’m also a bed reader. When I realize I’ve read the same paragraph four or five times – that’s when I turn off the light.

    One of the things I’ve noticed the last few years is that on the nights of the month when the moon is fullest, I have more vivid dreams, dreams that I actually remember clearly after I wake up. This is one of those weeks… although this week they’ve been more stressful than usual due to my hectic schedule. You know, the dreams where you have to be someplace and you’re hopelessly lost and you can’t remember where you parked the car and you forgot to pick up the doughnuts!

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  16. Nothing is really required for me to fall asleep. Maybe the drop of a hat. Staying asleep for an appropriate span of time is another thing. The best thing is to have spent several hours of the days doing something physical like garden work or a good long hike in the woods. A warm cat to snuggle up to is a must. Caffeine doesn’t disturb my sleep, but alcohol can if consumed too close to bedtime.

    Last night I had a dream that I was back in Gleason’s in downtown St. Paul. It was a store on St. Peter Street years ago. They had these barrels of nuts and candied fruit that you could buy in bulk for holiday baking, and it always smelled so good in there.

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  17. a millennium ago i worked in the OR at the old Swedish Hospital. Dr. Frank Johnson, Sr. was a thoracic surgeon there – a skilled and meticulous man. he could stand in one spot and dissect, mend and tie 100s of silk sutures for 8 hours – when he had a 30 minute break before the next long surgery, he stretched out on a gurney, crossed his arms over his chest and went to sleep. bingo. when it was time, he’d awake and stand another 8 hours over another fortunate person (fortunate to have Dr. Johnson doing the surgery, even if unfortunate in needing the surgery). i always wondered if he slept that well at night or only could power-nap for 30 minute segments.

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    1. Husband power naps like that, learned it in the army. I get all nervous and jittery if I know I have to hurry and fall asleep fast. Just can’t do it.

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  18. *snort snort* (one for each of you)…
    I drink it straight… doesn’t seem to even need the additives suggested by the two of you. There have been times where I’ve wondered if all the ingredients are legal… I’ve checked the label, and they are! 🙂

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    1. damn… that comment belongs waaaay back at the top for Barb and Tim. I’ll repost it there and the rest of you can just pretend you didn’t see this!

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