Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Bedtime Stories

Posted on September 9, 2009 - Filed Under self reflect

My sister is on a mission to tempt me into moving to CA while simultaneously torturing me with the most challenging bedding I have ever experienced. I have spent years on futons, on the floor, and even sleeping tent-less in the Arizona desert with all kinds of creepies just waiting to play snuggle bunnies with me in my sleeping bag. This however has posed the most challenges I have every faced in the arena of bedding.

When I pulled into the driveway last Friday my sister was ecstatic about a recent “bargain” they had acquired at a local estate sale. As I got the tour I saw this lovely and comfortable two-seater pull out covered with a beautiful deep red blanket. Whipping off the red cover, however, there emerged a baby-poo green-mustard-pretzel-colored corduroy love seat. (FYI, those of you mommies who nursed your babies know about breast milk poop – it smells like warm pretzels – and has an interesting color to it unlike that of formula fed babies whose poop is sticky, dark, and just as putrid as our own hot adult feces. You can’t argue that poo is just poo – because it isn’t. This couch had that breast-milk fed baby poo color.) This love seat was “antique” dating to 1968 making it one year older than me. In its better days it was a lovely forest green corduroy, and the only way I could know that was that Monica removed the seat cushions to show me my lovely new-used sofa-bed, and there in the depths were flashes of fabric rarely bathed in sunlight and moonshine. This treasure was attained for only $30 dollars – AND – when that makes up practically 1/5th of her bi-weekly paycheck, I can see the allure! It was an exciting event, as I was the first to be blessed with this bargain bedding opportunity, and with the lure of flannel sheets, two soft feather pillows, and a nice down comforter, the bed looked perfect… until she tucked me under the covers that night and left me alone to battle the springs and noises.

Laying in the darkness, pleased with myself for having braved a long day of flying and an additional 4+ hour drive to Caspar, I settled into the warm sheets only to find myself being startled by loud pops when I would adjust. At first, unaware that the actual sofa-bed was contesting my desire to get comfortable, I figured the house was creaking or the fridge complaining. Jug Handle Creek Farm is on a wonderful property that dates back to the 1890’s (or so). Monica & Michael live in the creamery, of course, remodeled for the caretakers, but none-the-less an old facility. Yet, as my hips began to ache, and I moved again to find some rest amidst the fatigue, the bed began to talk to me. “Ploing…(pause)… Pling Ploing…” The music of that couch startled me awake each time I moved, and although scientists state that we move a bazillion times during the night, I think I must argue that pain made it necessary to stay fixed in one location. Each movement was a new dance in an effort to dodge a spring, a bar, an added lump under the cotton top, or a sag between bars. Unable to find the perfect sleeping position, I have since battled 11 days with the pull-out sofa bed, and survived.

I actually extended my stay a few more days, to continue work on their new satallite internet and network, map printing to Monica’s Mac, and further explore some of the coastal wonders. I was promised improved sleeping conditions, and with much celebration of my extended stay, the camping thermarest was plucked from the attic and added to the bedding. This new addition made the springs more tollerable, and certainly firm like a board, however I think by then the bed was irritable with me. Perhaps it was used to being folded up for 40 years, or maybe the cush around my tush is less than I fathomed. Either way, Tuesday nights sleep over at the Marina Inn in Alameda before the flight home was heavenly. Certainly, I may be on the hunt for better bedding next time I visit.

The property sports three cabins (no bathrooms, only wood stoves) and 7 bedrooms in the farmhouse that potentially sleep 30+ people. So, if the space was not occupied you might wonder what would have prevented me from moving up there. Frankly, it has become a tradition that when I visit I bring with me as many episodes of “Ghost Hunters” I can possibly carry, and Michael pops a batch of fresh home-turned, real butter heart-stopping popcorn and we curl up on Monica’s other butt-busting couch for at least an hour of late night haunts. We do this, almost religiously, ALWAYS before going to bed. Then Monica goes and curls up with Michael, and I wander off in a frightened state of loneliness, to bury my head under the covers. Needless to say, after several episodes of haunted, creaking, ancient homes, I don’t think I could sleep soundly up the hill… in the farmhouse… alone… with extra bedrooms, dozens of doors, and numerous parlors of old musty furniture and rocking chairs (that just might rock on their own.) The simple fact that the third attic in the creamery has a small antique sink about a foot off the floor WITH a medicine cabinet, and cloth lined ceiling is creepy enough.

Each night before I zonkered out my mind ran amok with fantasies about the use of that attic. I imagined it being used by an outcast little person, or for an abhorrent child left in the attic for misbehaving, dirty and terrified. Every sound added to my imagination, the phantom being still haunting the attic. In my mind, it made no sense that the space would have a sink installed, and half a ladder dangling from the top of what used to be a chimney. If anything it was put there to satisfy the spirits of the old creamery – and should it be removed, things might just start happening. Additionally, out in the woods, with a full moon visiting, and nothing on the windows, it was easy to get spooked by shadows. When I asked one of the board members who happened to stay several days on the property for “vacation” about hauntings she smiled and avoided the topic, only because Monica moaned at the question. I think Ghost Hunters is not the show to watch at the farm, especially with such an old farmhouse staring down at you.

Granted, I love old houses, and the history tied to them. A tour of the property is lovely. Monica and Michael are lucky that in recent renovations the creamery was provided with bathroom facilities (as well as the farmhouse). Jug Handle Creek farm actually has 3 latrines on the property – 2 of which are still in use, mostly by campers. Additionally it is funded by numerous grants to provide Nature Education to the community and children. The property line runs along the Jug Handle Creek Ecological Staircase, a unique stretch of 5 miles on which each new level up provides a whole new set of vegetation unlike the level before, as well as a pygmy cypress and redwood forest at the top of the hike. The hike is pleasant – long but without a sense that you are walking up several 1000 feet to the top. Walks down to the ocean are stunning, it doesn’t matter where you start. I spent a good chunk of time each evening sitting as close to the water (AND as far from those pesky ROGUE waves that are purported to carry off small children and unsuspecting adults) and just watch the water move about like a huge breathing being. It was entrancing and peaceful. I could see the allure of the ocean for all the small communities that run along this treacherous coastline. I can see myself enjoying evenings by the sea. The wildflowers, the birds, the sound of the ocean… all of it full of energy and power. Although I wish I could stay even longer, I admit that I have been missing the kid, the husband, the licky face pup, and a cozy bed.

My last day in California I rented a hotel and we took the day to take a tour of Alcatraz Prison (Ghosts of Alcatraz). Alcatraz has a particular energy that is enthralling. It carries a fascinating history, from being used as a fort, to becoming a famous prison, to being a historic site of protest by Native Americans in 1969-1971 until their removal from the island, and now a National Park preserving the history. I’ve noticed that with my macro lens I am more apt to look closely at things others might pass or dismiss as they wander the halls of the prison with the audio tour playing in their ears. (BTW the audio tour is fabulous, full of the voices of past prisoners and guards as narrators, and audio re-enactments of some of the most famous efforts by prisoners to escape Alcatraz.) I found little details or remnants that brought home the experience these prisoners may have had, from residual prints pasted to walls, etchings in concrete, to the layers of paint the prison has gotten over the years. When I visited in 2007, I bumped into a ranger who had just finished speaking to a small group, and when I asked what was up one of the blocked stairwells, he invited me to come along and see an area of the prison that is not open to the public. I got to peruse the medical facility, including both the cell of Capone who was growing ill due to syphilis, and the solitary and LARGE room for the “Bird Man” of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud. Monica, despite the fact that San Francisco was a stomping ground for her during her college days, had never been. The two of enjoyed discussing what we saw and taking pictures of the artifacts that were part of the journey…. Spending time with my sister is priceless…. I miss my sister already.

To view images taken during my 11 day adventure… click here


One Response to “Bedtime Stories”

  1. monica on September 9th, 2009 10:51 pm

    HEY! The couch was from 1966, so it's THREE years older than you. I laughed my ass off, reading this post. I'm so sorry you were tortured by the 43-year-old baby-poo sofa bed from hell…I'm hoping NEXT time you're here, you'll be bringing your OWN bed…along with everything else.

    I miss you, too! I had so much fun and had such a lonely drive home. It was NO FUN going to Old Navy without you.

    Thank you for being so generous with us. We hope to repay you in kind soon…