It’s 2:10 am and I cannot sleep. Sometimes a writer’s brain never stops. Sleep is crucial to our health and that is why it is necessary that your bedroom is built for sleep. Is my bedroom not built for sleep– is this the problem?
In years gone by the bedroom was a place for sleep, sex, and childbirth. I know that for a fact as one day when I was a child I overheard my Grandmother whisper to her friends that one should only have sex for procreation. Since I did not know what sex was I kept that word in the backburner of my mind for years.
Live-in servants did not always have a bedroom at all. Cooks and housemaids might sleep in the kitchen, while the butler or footman made do with the pantry or scullery. Even when given a bedroom, a servant might be expected to share it with any other servants in the house. My Grandmother had live in help and her name was Gladys. Gladys was a chain smoker and she ended up dying in the back bedroom where my Grandmother made me sleep after Gladys’s passing. I can tell you truthfully I hightailed it under the covers at night so I would not have visions of a dead Gladys blowing cigarette circles in my face.
A brass and iron bedstead furnished with the spring mattress, nice hair mattress and bolster, an four pillows if a double, two if a single ,bedstead, is the beau-ideal of a sleeping place for health,” Mrs. Panton wrote, “and should furthermore be provided with two under-blankets — one in use, one in store in case of illness — and two good pairs of nice Witney blankets.” She also recommends an eider-down quilt for winter, furnished with an extra covering fashioned with buttons so that it could easily be removed and washed. Three pairs of sheets are the least that can be allowed to each bed; the top sheet of each pair should be frilled … four plain pillowcases for each pillow, and two or three frilled and embroidered ones for the top pillows. Pilllows, yes pillows, somehow my pillows have deflated and I think this is my biggest problem in getting to sleep at night. Steve suggested exchanging my pillows with others in different bedrooms– but they all have nice pillow shams on them– have to evaluate the situation tomorrow.
With all of these organic materials, it is little wonder that bedbugs were a great problem. By the 1880’s, homemakers reported that fleas were not expected in “decent bedrooms,” although “at any minute one may bring a stray parent in from cab, omnibus, or train.” Constant vigilance had to be maintained, and the bed itself examined regularly for infestation or any sort. Years ago we once had a dog that grew his own colonies of fleas and somehow they made it up to my son’s bedroom on the third floor. I also wrote about that and I called the story “Gone With the Fleas!”
The popularity of iron and brass bedsteads did away with a good deal of the problem — one typical method of dealing with vermin was to have a carpenter take the bed apart; then take the pieces of the bed, along with all the bedding, into an empty room or outside, wash the bed frame with chloride of lime and water, sprinkle Keating’s powder (a pyrethrum-based insecticide) everywhere, then wait and repeat daily for as long as necessary before putting everything back together again. If the infestation was totally out of control, the bed and mattress were left in an empty room that was sealed airtight, and then sulfur was burned to disinfect the bed and surrounding area, to prevent the spread of the problem to the walls and floors. Wish I would have known about this when we had the flea issue years ago. All I know is a good sprinkling of Borax continually vacuumed does the job and for the love of God leave the house before you use those Raid Flea Bombs.
Sheets should be washed every fortnight or once a month, noted that pillowcases needed changing “rather oftener, chiefly because people (especially servants) allow their hair to become so dusty, that it spoils the cases very soon.” Maybe I should have washed my hair today– maybe that’s it!
A single candle, brought upstairs at bedtime, was the recommended lighting. More prosperous homes had candlesticks upon the mantel and dressing table, “with a box of safety matches in a known position, where they can be found in a moment,” Many household books “worry away” at the location of matches — in the days before electricity, it was essential to be able to find a match in the dark. Heck, I can’t even strike a match let alone find one.
My eyelids are heavy but my thoughts are heavier. I want to sleep, but my brain won’t stop talking to itself. Let’s download the top 100 songs from the 80s and listen to them all while writing about the past. Maybe I should just watch an entire season of American Horror Story ( no then I really won’t sleep)– or should I rearrange my bedroom? No, Steve is sleeping and would not appreciate that at 2:36 am. I think Mr. Sandman lost my address. I live on the corner of Sleepless Road and Insomnia Street- just look for the bleary-eyed crazy person in the middle of the road. Due to tonight’s lack of sleep- tomorrow has been cancelled. Maybe it’s really because I am awake in someone else’ s dream.
Waiting for a sleepy feeling…
And after all I’m only sleeping
Author’s Note– I get excited by the mere mention of the word “old photos”. This is no joke-you have no idea. Crystal-Ann de la Mare is going to share her family’s Cowansville, Quebec pictures which are priceless. Linda gets all excited at 11pm=no sleep LOL.
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun