I was spellbound watching a short film “Alone in the Wilderness” about Richard Proenneke who upon retirement in 1967 moved to Twin Lakes, Alaska and constructed a log cabin near the lake shore.
He built the cabin by himself by hand. No power tools.
Heck, I’m not sure I have any hand tools other than a leaf rake. Oh wait, I just found a Phillips screwdriver — does that count? The point is that I’m not much of a handyman.
Instead of Honey-Do lists I have Honey-Don’t lists, as in my wife saying, “Honey, don’t try to fix that. I’ll call someone tomorrow.”
I like to say I’m a counselor, not a carpenter. But now my colleague, Ken, has gone and built his own bookshelves. I like to say I’m a writer; I build sentences, not furniture. But one of my author buddies recently posted on Facebook a photo of the beautiful oak coffee table he made. I’m thinking about unfriending him.
Call Me a Craftsman
But I recently did build something from scratch that I’m very proud of: a bed pillow. That’s right, at a mattress store in Spring Hill I manned up at the Pillow Fill Station and crafted a fluffy masterpiece. Think of the PFS as Build-a-Bear for adults.
The most difficult part of pillow design is choosing a filling when there are five different options including memory foam, goose down feathers, natural latex, and buckwheat hulls. Plus, you can mix fillings for a truly custom sleep sack. The PFS is a veritable pillow filling salad bar. I think my previous and aging pillow was filled with coffee grounds, golf balls, and Legos.
I Dreamed I Was Asleep
A comfortable pillow is very important to me because I’m a restless sleeper. I’ve always had difficulty finding and staying in a satisfying position. Some people are back sleepers; some are side sleepers; while still others are tummy sleepers. I fitfully rotate between all three. I’m basically a rotisserie sleeper.
You’ve seen how some dogs will routinely paw and scratch their doggie bed and walk a few circles in it before laying down. That’s basically me on a queen mattress. But for a dog that routine lasts for a minute. I can keep it up for an hour or more.
That Dorrie has stayed married to me for 31 years without ever even once stabbing me at 2 a.m. with an ice pick is a testimony to her grace-filled love for me.
I Have Sleep Envy, Not Apnea
Fortunately for her, my wife is both a sound sleeper and someone who can fall asleep within five minutes of her head touching the pillow, her body relaxed and motionless on her left side. At five minutes I haven’t even finished the stretches and warm-up for my nightly mattress decathalon.
I’ve always envied Dorrie’s ability to turn her active and brilliant mind off like a light switch when her body goes from horizontal to vertical. My brain, on the other hand, interprets the dark as the signal to the mental workers on 3rd shift to get to work. One of the main tasks of the 3rd shift is to critique the 1st and 2nd shift’s earlier work AND give them To-Do lists for the coming day. But all that could be changing with the Presson T2000 Pillow. Flopping around in bed like a hooked bass on a boat dock could become a thing of the past.
Success Has Gone to My Sleepy Head
I have to confess that being a custom pillow builder has made me a bit prideful. Sunday afternoon I hung out in the bedding section of Bed, Bath, and Beyonce for a few hours and muttered smug comments under my breath as I watched lazy customer after lazy customer pressing plastic-wrapped pre-made pillows against their head. Americans have such a co-dependency on manufacturing. It makes me want to pack my pillow, move to Alaska, and build a log cabin using nothing but my instincts and a kit I ordered off Amazon.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at