Sunday, March 7, 2021

SOL21 Slice 7: Lingering thoughts


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

It is the single greatest joy of retirement to no longer have to jump out of bed at the sound of an alarm on a cold dark morning. Actually, let me clarify, no longer needing an alarm at all. Wait, more specifically: no longer having to get up at all if I don't want to - I can just linger in my bed. 

This is divine.

This is how I wake: curled on my left side, zig-zagged, right foot nested on my left, knees stacked on top of each other, like I'm readying for that awesome stretch position from my zoom stretch class. No, I don't want to get into that position; no, no, no, typically, my bladder is excruciatingly full, and I dare not move. That's the first big decision of the day - weighing the urgency of going to the bathroom versus recollecting the remains of my dream. Typically, the dream wins, and once I've summoned its memory, I'll rush to the bathroom, and then scamper back into bed.

I like to lay on my side, one hand under my pillow, the other resting on the bed near my face; I pull the warm comforter up over my body and the top sheet up to my eyes. Cold mornings in the house, with the heat not yet resoundingly strong, that's where you'll find me: ensconced in my flannel sheets. 

I know there are strong opinions about this, but mine is solidly on the side of flannel. 

Flannel: softness that slides into smooth

Not scratch - some sheets, they are far too stern for my liking - straighten up! keep alert! They're prickly, keeping me on edge. 

Flannel: softness that slides into smooth

Not too much of a slide - some sheets are almost manipulative, like slick salespeople, leading you places you didn't know you wanted to go, where you didn't expect, slippery. I need more control.

Flannel is good company, soft, in a way few things are: no pretense, no slide, no scratch, soft into smooth.

I remember early on in my marriage, an elderly sister-in-law visited with us (elderly! ha! I bet she was in her 60s, like I am now). Betty was married to one of Tony's brothers, though he was not along for this trip, because she was in town on business. Oh, Betty - if there was dictionary with people's faces, she'd be somewhere in the C's, around caustic, cantankerous, cranky, or crotchety. I didn't know her that well at the time, but I was excited for her visit, eager to show off our little baby. I know it was cold outside, and I put flannel sheets on her bed. Betty - I kid you not - snapped at me, "get those damn things off my bed, I'm not some poor country girl." I was stunned, and burst out laughing, having learned early on in my life to use humor to diffuse uncomfortable situations, and I asked "How do you really feel?" Yes, I learned something very important from her - she taught me to ask visitors about their preference in sheets.

Things people feel strongly about:


putting cornbread in buttermilk

thermostat settings

coffee versus tea

Coke versus Pepsi


Betty, she was not like flannel. 

What are some other truly soft things? I think, the leaf of lamb's ear plant "stachys bizantina," so dear to touch. Or, walking barefoot on green moss on a warm summer day - but this is much too rare a feeling, just doesn't happen enough (perhaps why the world needs flannel). I guess velvet is smooth, though it can be cold, and strangely thick for me.

Seriously, flannel is just right.

Until it's not.

Oh my! Those first warm days in spring - GET IT OFF! GET OFF OF ME!! I DO NOT WANT FLANNEL ON MY BED! I become Betty, hear me roar! Well, I don't snap at myself. I just change the sheets. New season beckons.

"If you think taking care of yourself is selfish,
change your mind.
If you don't, you're simply ducking your responsibilities."
- Ann Richards


  1. This is divine. I feel those same early morning urges. To face such tough choices between going and dreaming embody the challenges of retirement life. Love the comparison of Betty to flannel sheets when they are too hot. I’ve never slept on flannel sheets. I’ve always thought I’d be too hot w/ them. Maybe next winter I’ll try th out and see.

    1. Thanks, Glenda! I hope this message of retirement isn't too frustrating to read about for all the teachers who are working so hard this year; I have definitely adjusted to this new pace.

  2. I love the way you organized this piece, beginning with mornings, sliding into sheets, and then shifting into reflections about Betty.

  3. Oh, Maureen, what a joy I have in reading your posts. Your gifts are evident each day. This poetic treatment of soft and sliding flannel is delightful to read and listen to. (I find myself often reading parts of your posts aloud.)

    And Betty! What a sweet descriptive paragraph you included there, and your laughing reaction and "How do you really feel?" was perfect! Bravo.

    I could go on about your great description of how you sleep and other soft things and other things that people have strong opinions about. There is a treasure here!

    1. Thank you, Denise! I appreciate your comments!