Friday, December 23, 2016

Notes from the Home - December 23, 2016

Here in Columbus, Christmas seems a long way off. Beautiful weather will do that. And we've had beautiful weather: chilly mornings, pleasantly cool afternoons. abundant sunshine, gentle breezes. The mornings say it is fall, mid-October. The sun warms, and by afternoon, these late-December afternoons feel more like April. The weatherman is saying it will be partly cloudy on Christmas Day, with a high of 75 with a 10-percent chance of rain. I don't remember Christmas being like that in Ashtabula or Bethel Park.

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It is Friday morning, just after four o'clock. I have been up for an hour, and I have been awake since one-thirty. I don't understand it. Getting to sleep has not been a problem; getting enough I sleep has. I get in bed most nights between nine-thirty and ten-thirty, quickly fall asleep, and wake up three or four hours later. In no hurry to face the day, I spend an hour-and-a-half trying to get back to sleep. As the body begs for sleep, the mind picks up speed, and like a spoiled child, it demands attention. The only way to shut it up is to get out of bed.

Wednesday, after a string of five nights with less four hours sleep, I found myself in the middle of an argument over taking a sleeping pill, The hydroxyzine Dr. Miller prescribed is good stuff, too good. He wrote the prescription in September when I was having difficulty falling asleep. It helps me get to sleep, then it keeps me asleep longer than necessary, ten hours or more. The body doesn't move well these days and changing positions in bed takes some effort. There is no tossing and turning; once I fall asleep, I don't move until I wake up. Ten hours in one position makes an already stiff and uncooperative body much stiffer and more uncooperative - and achier, too.

The devil at my left ear, who argued that a full night's sleep was worth a few achy joints and stiff muscles in the morning, won. The angel at my other ear, who kept saying, "You'll be sorry," gloated for hours Thursday morning.  After nearly eleven hours sleep, I awoke Thursday morning feeling as though I'd spent Wednesday doing some sort of demanding physical activity. I hurt. And as I slowly got dressed, I struggled to stay awake. That is when I remembered the hydroxyzine always left me feeling more tired after a long night's sleep than I did before I went to bed. My days are never highly productive, but Thursday I broke my record for nonproductivity.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

One Friday in Fall

A crisp, clear Friday morning. The Covenant Woods’ drives and parking lots were covered with leaves, tossed out of the trees by two days of wind and rain. The day looked and felt like the October days I loved in Ashtabula, up there along Lake Erie.

As I circled Covenant Woods on my trusty chariot, the day sparked memories. Walks to Lake Shore Park, where I watched the waves rush to shore and felt the wind that pushed them and the cool Canadian air across the lake.

Memories of raking the leaves that carpeted the yard. Six-year-old Bethany watching my progress from the dining room window. When the pile of leaves reaches a satisfactory size, Beth rushes out. “Let me help,” she yells, diving into the pile and burying herself. She is silent for a moment, then asks, “Where am I, Daddy?” “I don’t know. Where are you?” An explosion of leaves; “Here I am,” Beth shouts triumphantly, wildly waving her arms. Good times, even if I have to rake up the leaves she scatters.

The memories were interrupted by a phone call. Russ said he was going to bring the pictures over. He has been looking into the history of the Harris clan on In his search, he found a man in – or the man found him, I’m not sure which – who had two photo albums that once belonged to my dad’s Uncle Hiram. The man wanted to sell them, Russ wanted to buy them, and now Russ was on his way to show them to me.

Hiram was quite the shutterbug, and his recordkeeping wasn’t bad. Beneath nearly every picture there is a note identifying the people in it and where it was taken. One or two, according to the note below, were taken at Geneva-on-the-Lake. The photographic record spanned the years 1908 until 1919, or so. An enchanting trip through time. The men seemed to always be wearing a white shirt and tie; the women were almost always in ankle-length dresses, even in the summer.

 It was a different world, and most of the people in it died before I came along. My grandfather died in 1943, five years before I was born. But in a way, I did know him. When Dad went into the service, my grandfather kept him informed with a series of wonderful letters, which Dad gave to my grandmother, Nana, after my grandfather died. The letters were often read aloud at family gatherings. My grandfather wrote beautifully, and his sense of humor shined brightly in every letter he wrote.

An hour or two after Russ left, Beth called. She brought me up to date on the grandkids – Hayden and MaKenna – and events of note in the Pratt household out there in Idaho. We talked for a half hour.

I can’t remember when I enjoyed a day as much as I enjoyed that Friday in fall.

My grandfather, Thomas R. Harris, in 1912


Alisha, the activities director, asked me to play Reader's Digest editor and condense an article on spring health tips she'd found ...