I can hear you now

Today marks one month since I got hearing aids.

While the Old Guy jokes pretty much write themselves, the truth is I could have used these things 30, even 35 years ago, thanks to an ear infection that badly damaged one of my cochlea when I was thirteen. I’ve lived with pretty terrible hearing most of my life.


Now is better.

I’m still getting used to the things and still feeling a tiny bit self-conscious, which I’m assured is ridiculous since no one can see I’m wearing anything, even with my current buzz cut.

Instead, what people1 tell me is that while they never notice I’m wearing the devices, they definitely notice when I’m NOT.

And I notice too. Mostly, there’s a lot less of me asking people to repeat themselves (a LOT less), and I particularly appreciate the specialized modes for “listening to your friends with a lot of background noise” and “listening to your lovely wife while having dinner in a noisy restaurant.”

All in all, pretty good quality of life improvement that I’m grateful I was well-off enough to be able to pay for out-of-pocket, since my company insurance didn’t cover a single fucking dime of the cost.2

  1. Mostly my co-workers, since they see me 500% more than my family during daylight hours, because capitalism is monstrous and killing us. 
  2. Why do we put simple good living behind a five-thousand-dollar-high wall? Everyone should have access to this tech, if they need it. Healthcare for all. Fucking take care of each other, man. 

Conversation with my daughter

“Get in the car, goomba.”

“I’m not a goomba.”

“You’re a roomba-goomba.”

“That’s… I’m not… that’s not even a thing that’s possible! What is that?”

“Well, a roomba is a robot that vacuums people’s houses, and a goomba is a mushroom person that walks around, so a roomba-goomba is a robot mushroom person who walks around, vacuuming people’s houses… I guess.”

“I’m definitely not a roomba-goomba.”

“You’re sure?”

“I don’t VACUUM.”

Remembering Floy

Not that long ago, I walked into my grandma’s house and found the garage decked out in fourth of july red white and blue from one end to the other. The decorations continued into the house itself, and I asked her if she’d had any help setting everything up.

She laughed, once, hard, the way she did. “Ha! No. That’s all me. I do that.”

I looked at her – closing in on ninety-four at the time – and then I looked back at the stairwell leading into her basement.

The one with twelve foot high walls rising up on three sides.

Which were ALSO decorated.

“How’d you do THAT?” I asked her.

She looked at me, and learned in, and said “Ain’t I something?”

And she was.

It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to sum up a life. Anyone’s life, let alone one as long and rich as my Grandma’s.

It’s a tiny bit easier to look at the effect someone had on the people around them – the stories about them; what they said, and what they did; the things they taught us.

I asked my family for some of the things they learned. This is what they shared:

  • The world always looks better through clean windows.
  • Wash your face, your neck, and your ears, even if you can’t wash anything else.
  • The food you grow yourself always tastes better.
  • Never move into a new house with an old broom.
  • Always sift your dry ingredients before you start baking.
  • You don’t quit when you’re tired, or if things gets hard; you quit when you’re done.
  • If you don’t have time to write letters, send birthday and Christmas cards and jam every square inch with whatever you would have written in those letters… and if you start to run out of room, just writer smaller and smaller and smaller until it all fits.

(My mom learned that one pretty well.)

And here’s another one: when you’re sad, crying is ok – but so is laughing.

Grandma showed us living your faith was in the quiet way you give, serve, share, and show patience to those who need it the most – not how many Sundays you made it in to church.

She showed us love can find you, even or especially when it seems like it never will again.

Grandma showed us how to milk cows, feed calves, and carry buckets of water that were – at the time – almost bigger than we were.

We learned early, watching her, a woman can do anything a man can. She never told a girl there was any job on the farm they couldn’t do, and she never told a boy there was a recipe in her cookbook we couldn’t manage, if we were willing.

She tried her best to show us how to make bread as good as hers – even if none of us ever managed it; it was enough to try, and even better if we tried with her, in her kitchen. In fact, she shared every recipe she knew, gladly, from caramel rolls, to chicken, to squash casserole so good we’d go back for seconds, and then go back for thirds, put whipped cream on it, and call it dessert.

My kids remember that, and holding her hands, and the bowls of candy she somehow always had set out, and the fact she had the fanciest, best decorated garage any of them had ever seen.

Everyone who shared some of their lessons with me, including my kids, eventually wound down to the same thing, by the end: “These are just a few of the things I remember – there are a thousand more.”

And of course there are. In a life that touched so many, for so long, it’s impossible to fully take in the impact of our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.

So how can we remember her?

I would say: think of the small things – the little lessons, the tiny moments, the snippets of advice.

When you holler “no dirty feet in my clean sheets!” remember why, and share that remembering with someone else. Tell that story, and then tell another one, and another; as many as you can.

Some will make you sad, and you’ll cry. Some will make you sad, and you’ll laugh, and that’s okay too.

Don’t worry you’ll run out. There are thousands.

We are, all of us, a collection of stories, when you come right down to it, and Floy Jean, my grandma, was a good one.

She was, in her own words, really something.


My grandma is dying.

I’m throwing random crap onto the internet to distract myself, but the Fact of the Day is, my grandma is dying.

She’s 95 and, until a year ago, hadn’t been in the hospital since delivering her youngest kid. All her current medical issues boil down to “she’s never been sick a day in her life and everything’s just worn out.” She’s a wonder, and I’m unspeakably lucky to have had her in my life for nearly FIFTY years and been her ‘precious first’ of the grandkids.

But… that’s all just facts.

It’s my grandma and I’m stuck in Colorado and I’m basically eight years old and trying not to cry in school, right now.

Nothing makes sense and I keep finding myself staring out the window at nothing.

I Had a Great Year – You May Have, Also – and 2016 Was Still Terrible

I posted on Facebook about the Standing Rock action by the Corps of Engineers and, as I did here, noted it as a sliver of good news in an otherwise shit year.

Someone commented:

“I know you are talking about the election when you say “shit year” – or at least I hope you are saying that just for dramatic affect. Because from my perspective- It isn’t a shit year- So… I get where you are coming from- but for me- in the entire grand scheme of things- any day that I have healthy kids, any day or year that my parents are still alive and any year that Bryan and I are healthy, alive and working at jobs we like- well- I call that a pretty damn good year!!

Here’s the thing: if you’re saying “based on my healthy kids, my still-living parents, and the health of my spouse and myself, it was a great year,” then by definition it is not “in the entire grand scheme of things.”

The Grand Scheme of things includes MORE than just you and your family.

2016, even without the election, is like the montage at the start of an apocalypse movie, explaining how things got as bad as they are when the movie opens. To pick only ONE topic, the backwards steps combating climate change and the accelerating heating trends at the poles, far ahead of predictions, mean we have a lifetime of work to give our GRANDkids even a moderate chance to turn things around.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of good days, and by any measure, every day has good things in it, even if it’s bad on-balance.

But when I say it’s a bad year, I mean more than just how the year itself turned out, from January 1 to December 31. I mean the impact the events in that year will have on our lives going forward. I look at lasting harm, and what I then need to do.

In other words, when I talk about the year, I’m not just talking about how things went inside my house, and with my immediate family. If I did that, then yeah, 2016 was a banner year. Of course it was. I’m a straight white dude and my family is financially well off. I’m great.

But that point of view is dangerously myopic, and makes it too easy to think everything is going to be fine.

When I have a good day with my daughters, I fight harder to have women’s rights and health defended.

When I have a good weekend with my son, I fight harder for fair and well-funded education systems, with counseling backed by science, led by people earning a good wage, who can help kids when they struggle to succeed (or even make it through a day).

If I have a great Thanksgiving with my family, it means I’m going to fight harder to ensure all of my family have the same rights, and the same protections, everywhere in the country.

Good things don’t make me say “Y’know, over all, I have my health, and things aren’t that bad, and hey WE are having a great year, so why worry about what’s going on over there?”

Good things strengthen my resolve.

One of the best parts of my weekend was when I saw the breaking news on Standing Rock while I was with Sean. Not because of the news itself (which was great), but because it gave me the chance to explain how someone can be happy and crying at the same time, even if they’re guys. Especially if.

I’m not an optimist. That’s established.

I plan for the worst, and most of the time, when it’s not THAT bad, I enjoy myself all the more because I’ve seriously considered how it might have turned out badly.

And when it is just as bad as I thought, I’m prepared.

This year, I’ve been adequately prepared far more than pleasantly surprised.

I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Like wearing a Hug

Our OT suggested a weighted pressure vest for Sean last week, as we start to get a handle on his SPD. The effect has been dramatic. The weekend was great, and even with only a day in the vest last week, his teachers already noticed improvements.

It just grounds him (which I suppose is funny, given what it is), but man what an effect; not a different kid, but him, at his best.

Most importantly, he likes it.

Why Weighted Sensory Pressure Vests Have a Calming Effect for Children – Day 2 Day Parenting
Sensory pressure vests provide constant, even deep pressure to children when their body is craving this important calming and organizing proprioceptive input. Pressure vests promote self-calming, balance, and increased body awareness by enhancing proprioceptive feedback. Children with proprioceptive and tactile integration dysfunction benefit from the sensory feedback they receive when wearing the vest, because it gives the child the input … R…