Picking up where we left off last week, I am pleased to report that the mysterious sound that has been emanating from the woods here on Lowell Branch has been positively identified. An alert reader from Harlan County suggested that I go to allaboutbirds.com and look up eastern Screech Owl. The site is a program of Cornell University and has hundreds if not thousands of bird photographs as well as audio recordings of the sounds they make.
I am very familiar with one call a screech owl makes, but it turns out they have at least three and my bird is stuck on number three. But after I clicked on the sound button, my mystery bird had might as well been sitting behind my computer speakers. I felt like an idiot.
I was overwhelmed by both phone calls and email when I asked to hear from folks who have my lack of sleep problem. As you may recall, I mentioned that I was only sleeping about four hours a night and waking up alert and ready to go at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Several of those who responded said they were similarly afflicted and that they didn’t consider it a problem, but many others said they had solved it.
Let me first say that if I simply listed all the folks who have been in contact with me regarding sleep deprivation it would take the rest of this column and half of next week’s. Several people suggested vigorous physical activity late in the day, followed by a hot shower just before bedtime and then peaceful meditation wherein one meditates without any worry about anything.
Other solutions included drinking warm milk with (take your pick) half a banana, gingerbread, raisins, cornbread, vanilla cookies, fried apple pies, dark turkey meat, turkey broth, oatmeal, and on and on and on. Ginger tea sweetened with honey was popular as was any tea heavy on aromatic spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and the like. Chamomile tea figured prominently. Two ounces of brandy mixed with half a cup of apple cider made the list more than once.
My email pal, Pauline White who runs a missionary food pantry in Benham (Harlan County), says there is a non-prescription sleep aid pill called Midnight or maybe it was Midnite, that she gets at a Rite Aid store in her neck of the woods. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, she takes one, dozes right back off, and says she wakes up in the morning feeling fit as a fiddle.
I’ve tried most if not all the other suggestions as well as most over-the-counter stuff to no avail, but Pauline is the only person who came up with Midnight. And, like yours truly, she says she has tried everything else and this is the only stuff that works without her waking up and feeling drugged. I haven’t found it yet and I may have to send Pauline some money and have her put a box of Midnight in the mail.
Nobody responded to my plea for a new start of white cornfield beans. I’m still looking.
In other news, it has become payback time in our bedroom. Last fall I got hooked on a series of books written by Ann B. Ross that have to do with the life and adventures of Miss Julia.
I laughed so hard and so loudly as I lay in bed reading that Loretta often fussed and growled that I was keeping her awake. On several occasions she stormed out of the room and went upstairs to the guestroom before I could volunteer to take my book elsewhere.
Miss Julia is a steel magnolia widow of a “certain age”, as she describes herself, who finally discovers what life is all about after meekly and humbly enduring a 40-year marriage to the richest, most chauvinistic man in Abbotsville, a fictional small town in North Carolina populated by both good and bad eccentrics.
There are currently 11 books in the series and it is very important that they be read in the order they were written. All titles begin with Miss Julia and in order they are 1. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, 2. Miss Julia Takes Over, 3. Miss Julia Throws a Wedding, 4. Miss Julia Hits the Road, 5. Miss Julia Meets Her Match, 6. Miss Julia’s School of Beauty, 7. Miss Julia Stands Her Ground, 8. Miss Julia Strikes Back, 9. Miss Julia Paints the Town, 10. Miss Julia Delivers the Goods, 11. Miss Julia Renews Her Vows. The 12th title, Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle, is scheduled for release on April 5 and I am like a little kid counting the days till Christmas. I suggest you clip this column or write the titles down and please be advised that the books keep getting better and better as they go along.
Anyway, Loretta has finally decided to take up Miss Julia and now I’m the one being kept awake by laughter until midnight. I have discovered that the bed in the guestroom is more comfortable than I would have imagined.