Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fluffing 3/12/09


Weather Report
Cloudy-snow by tomorrow
Wind 3-5 mph
Temp -8C

I imagine every couple has some sort of "going-to-bed" ritual that may seem a little strange to the rest of the civilized world. We have had one for some time, but it has become a little more of a dominant theme to our repose here in Russia. I digress.

At home in Sacramento we have (had) a California King bed for many years. Here, son Brian and I try out the new bed when we first got it. Cindy and I sleep with the windows open year round and after some experimentation, we settled on a light thermal blanket for summer and a feather (down) comforter that we use all winter; It is really toasty. Well, among the assorted comfort foods and a few articles of clothing that we brought on this mission last May, Cindy insisted that we take the comforter and I will have to admit to all the world, THAT WAS A GREAT IDEA! We have used it every winter night since we arrived and even took it in our small carry-on luggage, using one of those space-saver ziplock bags from which you suck out the air with the vacuum, on two visa-renewal trips.

Further background. Our current bed is a queen size one of questionable vintage that we inherited from the mission president and wife when they bought a king some time before we arrived. During our initial orientation meeting with the Mickelsens (mission president and wife) Sister Mickelsen gave us a set of "slightly worn" sheets that fit the bed, for which we were grateful since the former occupants of this apartment apparently took the sheets with them when they left several weeks before we arrived.

That being said, let me give one more piece of background; we have found NO STANDARD SIZES IN RUSSIA. That was very upsetting. It may be our ignorance or reality, but we are zero for our efforts. In our western mentality and total ignorance we went to IKEA to get new sheets for this bed a few weeks after our arrival. Having not thought to measure the actual mattress, we just bought queen size sheets. WRONG! When we got them home they were far too large for the mattress and IKEA would not take back an opened package of sheets.

For our next trip to IKEA a month or so later I measured the mattress length, width, and thickness to get the right size. We bought the closest thing to those measurements and found that the fitted sheet was still about 4 inches too long, but I just tuck that excess in at the foot and we live with it; something you learn to do here. With the oversized sheets, Cindy has decided to expand her part of the "going-to-bed" ritual to accommodate the on-going problem of the top sheet also being a bit over-sized.

Oh, one more background piece; Cindy calls herself the "Princess and the Pea", that is, she is the princess. You know the story about the test of a true princess. If she is so sensitive that she can feel a pea under fifty mattresses she is a true princess; I married a true princess. Each night I stretch the sheets so that there are no wrinkles to bruise the princess. Sometimes I'm not thorough enough and we have to get out of bed and re-stretch the sheets to get rid of the "pea" so the princess can repose in total comfort. It's all part of the package and she is definitely worth whatever I can do to make her snooze painless. OK, here we go.

Now to the ritual. Since we purchased the feather comforter, the Princess decided that it needed to be fluffed each night before either of us got into bed and even then we needed to be careful not to "crush the fluff" as we got between the sheets, but the ritual goes further than that.
It is my job to monitor and adjust the air flow into the room so that the princess is getting just the right amount of air. I am known as the commissar of fresh air, and the princess may ask me to get out of bed to adjust the windows several times until just the right amount of fresh air is flowing. It's still OK.

Now in Novosibirsk the ritual has come to full blossom. Each night, as we prepare to get into our "queen-size" bed, we now have a combination of air-flow calibration, "pea removal", "fluff", and now sheet measurement that goes on each night. Some nights I have gotten ahead of the process, completely losing my focus, and have opened the window slightly, allowing the -25 C night air to begin to fill the room, or I'm just standing by waiting to do so in our little bedroom where there is only about two feet between the bed and the surrounding walls, in my abbreviated sleeping costume, while the princess is still making sure that the sheet is exactly the same length as the comforter on each side of the bed and the comforter is fluffed properly. In that small space, I have to keep dodging the fluffing princess as she moves from one side of the bed to the other, measuring and fluffing and being sure all is ready.

Sometimes I just have to leave the room entirely and stand in the doorway because when the princess gets into fluff mode, it is a whirl of activity and on occasion I have gotten fluffed in the process. you know, it's like the riot police not being too particular who they club while restoring order. One night I got both fluffed and measured and was in the process of having my wrinkles stretched when I escaped to the safety of the water-closet.

The final scene of our "going-to-bed" ritual is for the princess to ask the commissar of fresh air what side he is going to sleep on tonight. Now, this is a courtesy afforded me because of a pulled muscle in my left shoulder (obtained lifting a 6" binder of payment-file receipts off the window sill next to my desk last December) and a slight case of bursitis in my right shoulder, not to mention my hernia repair that occasionally needed extra consideration.

After being informed of my selection, the princess places my two pillows (to keep me upright thus reducing my snore) on MY 1/3 of the bed so as to mark the space she will occupy for the night. She then places an extra "neutral" pillow next to my two to prevent me from rolling over on her during the night and crushing her or landing an elbow to her head in my efforts to find a painless position. Finally, she places her small pillow in the center of her 2/3's and we are ready to pray.

By this time I am semi-comatose because I have mentally gone to bed some time ago. All I need now is to kneel and close my eyes and I'm gone. On occasion I have missed the prayer and that's a problem when I'm the one who prayed.

Well, now we are ALMOST ready to get under the fluffed-and-measured-comforter except for the last application of lotion to the princess' feet and Mentholatum to her lips which is my signal that we are going to sleep.

I invite you to examine your "going-to-bed" ritual and see how you match up. We all have one and if you analyze it there are definite messages and symbols there that are worthy of a few minutes consideration. Actually, the princess and I use this time to laugh and tease about our personal little rituals and how silly the whole thing is. We have a lot of laughter in our marriage and going-to-bed includes a good measure of it. In fact, when Shannon was still living at home, she would sometimes come into our room and ask us to hold it down so she could sleep.

I love my life with the princess and look forward to each night that I can join her under the fluff for a moment of intimacy and laughter.

What a girl. What a country.


Bob and Doretta Henshaw said...

"Fluffing", I love it! The more I read, the more I laughed. I will finish my note, have Bob read and then we will begin "our bedtime routine" for the evening.

Love to you both,
Bob and Doretta

Shannon Simmons said...

I love you dad! You and the princess are fantastic....

Melinda said...

That is so funny. I love how you write. I can't believe how similar our mission experiences are. Not the fluffing part, but the dogs, the pollution, garbage on the ground, melting snow etc.... You post about how much your mission has changed really sounded exactly like we felt when we first arrived. It isn't really the stuff you hear about when couples come home is it. By the way, we are from Sacramento too. We are going home to a new home for us in Fair Oaks, what is your home ward? I love your blog it is fun to read. Love, Sister Kinghorn
P.S. tell the princess hello for us