Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Way They Are...

Today's banner is actually the view from behind a London commuter, a week ago today.

Natives visiting the British Museum
Travel is so broadening.  In one sense, I can't be safely broadened any further.  I am too big already, and especially for England, a country of narrow spaces.  (Don't start me on the women's bathroom stalls in one particular jewel of modern English architecture).  In the more important sense, however, of course I need all I can get.

I loved my trip, which ended yesterday when I touched down in (blessedly sunny and bright) Boston.  I traveled alone, but I stayed with friends   I was handed around from one host to another by one particularly kind, cultivated and generally excellent family.  I was shown various corners of London and a few other places in the country by them, very well fed by them (see reference to broadening, above).  I went to see these friends and to see some of the English places that I had fictionalized or by which I had been inspired - from a distance - when I was writing that book (you know the one, see the sidebar ====>).

I did see those people and places and not one disappointment in the lot.  In fact, things were better and more magic than I had any reason or right to expect. Thanks to my native guides, who brought me into the homes of several of their friends, I also got a real look at life in modern Britain. It was fascinating and I'll be thinking about it all and processing it for some time.  Just stopping in here this morning, taking advantage of the time shift to get a ridiculously early start, and to say a little something before the glow wears off altogether.

I am not on the payroll of the British Tourist Board, but I could be.  I don't know anyone who wouldn't like to visit the UK and I am here to say do it if you can.  You won't be sorry.
Castle ruin, just lying around, spotted on a walk...

I'll add before I use up the last the minutes of this found early morning hour that driving home through New Hampshire and Vermont yesterday I also got, for at least the length of the drive, to see our bit of the US through English eyes.  It was so beautiful it could break any heart.  Mine just held on.

More eventually.  Having set my reset button, I'm off for a bike ride.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Deaf Ear

If you have to lose an input, I suppose there are worse ones than the hearing in your right ear.

I speak from experience.  But, when I am lying down and speaking with a book cover positioned over the left side of my face, I can't hear myself.  Fortunately, it's a not a position I am in very often these days, now that bedtime stories have passed from our scene.

My bad right ear has gone from a nuisance to something close to a handicap, but considering the other possibilities, I am not complaining too much.

I had a colleague years ago, an older woman whose pedigree showed in her name and her bone structure.  She was the daughter in one of those families that have one son, one daughter, and a railroad concern.  The mother drank and was prone to rages.  I always wondered if that had something to do with the loss of my colleague's right eye.  I never learned how it had happened, or why she wore an eye patch rather than a glass eye (I had another friend with a glass eye and I always had trouble figuring out which one it was).  The eye patch, of course, became her defining characteristic.  She told me once (with a smile) that she hoped my children wouldn't be afraid when they met her, and tapped the patch. (They weren't. Patch or no patch, she was obviously a friendly creature).

I think of this sometimes as I am leaning in to some soft spoken person, asking her to repeat herself, or moving walking companions over to my left side.  My bad ear is a bother but the ear still looks OK, and shallow being that I am, I am grateful for that.  Also, one can get by with a bad ear.  Ask Stephen Colbert.

The trouble, as is the usual the case, is on the inside.  Those tiny bones in my right ear that are supposed to move around in response to the sound waves are stuck.  There is an operation: they actually replace the little piston type bone with a new one. I have inquired about this a couple of times.  Both times, the surgeon said it was unclear whether it would help me much, given the range of my hearing loss.  I don't quite understand this, though he tried to explain it and I was close enough to hear it all clearly.  There is also the risk that the little bit of hearing I have left (like when I turn my hair dryer into that ear, or brush the teeth on that side of my head with a power toothbrush) might be lost forever, so on I go with stuck ear bones.

Hearing aids, BTW, have proven of limited use. Someone once described hearing aids like having a flashlight in the dark.  Better than nothing, but nothing like daylight.  I have tried them, lost them, and been disappointed.  I guess I'm ready for another round now.  I don't mind being seen in a hearing aid.