Monday, October 26, 2015


I have just finished reading SHOUTING WON’T HELP by Katherine Bouton. An excellent autobiographical journey wonderfully written by an accomplished writer and courageous campaigner. I am continually stunned by the discoveries I am making on nearly a daily basis about the pervasiveness of hearing loss and what is being done about it. Following Ms. Bouton on her journey is Hearing Loss 101. It is packed to the brim with information and personalized with one woman’s experience as she looses her hearing and spends a major part of her life seeking help. In the three page epilogue Ms. Bouton nails my emotional journey so well that as I read the last sentence I was surprised to find tears in my eyes.

Her words about missing the music experience stopped me in my tracks. I have noticed that when it comes up that I no longer “hear” music people just don’t seem to grasp the idea. It’s a strange irony that I find some comfort in the discovery of another person with a similar experience.

In the United States there are about 48 million, and counting, people with some degree of hearing loss, many of whom I pass shoulder to shoulder every day. In my age group 2 out of 3 people suffer from hearing loss. There is no outward sign that someone is living with a disability that can seriously affect their lives. Most of the time you can’t “see” that someone lives with hearing loss. If you have enough hair, even a cochlear implant can be hidden. Deafness is an invisible condition. The blind have a white cane. The crippled have a crutch or wheel chair. The amputee has a prosthesis. If you are interested in some interesting numbers check this out: (

People with hearing loss can be identified in some subtile ways. Being without significant hair on my head, my behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are quite noticeable. For years I was able to use CIC (completely in the ear canal) instruments. Hardly no one knew I had hearing loss. I smugly thought, “I have serious hearing loss and nobody knows”. Alas, things got worse and I was forced to “come out” so to speak with large BTE instruments. If someone seems out of sync with the conversation it’s probably because they are just not hearing what they need to hear to keep up.  Perhaps they are always saying, "what?".

It seems that vanity plays a large role in the use of hearing aids as well as the acknowledgement of a disability. This is a personal matter but it can and does get in the way of seeking and implementing help. I can tell you that when the problem gets bad enough vanity will go out the door to make room for results.

If you think you have any degree of hearing loss - get it checked out. See and audiologist or an otolaryngologist - ear, nose and throat doctor - Your quality of life is at stake. Don’t wait.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Recently, CA and I were fortunate to spend an entire week on Monhegan Island. We've been doing this for a long time - about 18 years, with only a year or two skipped for one reason or another.

Over that time, I have occasionally considered the possibility of not coming out here again. I've said things like, "Well, I have walked all these trails many times and have discovered all the secrets of he island so why keep coming?". And you know what - I keep being surprised, inspired and challenged.` So, I kept coming. There will come a time when I won't go to the island. Too old, too sick or too crippled  - or just unable to walk the trails I have always claimed were the primary reason I came to the island. Something like that happens to us all, sooner or later.

This was an unusual week as we were able to have our evening cocktail on the high deck that overlooked the village and on toward the mainland every evening. We have never had a week with such mild and inviting weather. There's always some rain and a chilly breeze that ends up chasing us inside or beneath layers of protective outerwear. Over the years, I have spent entire days hiking beneath a poncho or bone dry in a rain suit.  Not this week. It was incredible.

The photo above of the Island Inn at sunset was taken from our deck. When I see this, and other pictures from the week, I am, of course, arrested by the unique beauty and power of the island.  But there is another quality that has become extremely valuable to me: the natural silence of the place. I may be selectively observing or perhaps there is some force - real or imagined that enabled me to hear better. I am always needing a repetition of something CA or someone else has said. I'll take it - whatever it is, and relish it while it lasts. It could be that when we are hiking, we don't talk much. there's too much to see and "feel". Often we encounter people who seem to keep up a constant chatter as they walk along. I don't get it. 

On our first hike after unpacking we walked the trail out to Gull Cove on the ocean side of the island. Usually we can hear the sea well before we get there.  But it was low tide and the sound of the cove, usually domineering,  was absent.  When we got to the overlook, waves were making a little noise but it was a timid low tide demonstration. Later perhaps.

We walked down to the Island Inn Wednesday evening for dinner in their excellent dining room. The food and the view as the sun retreated behind Manana were memorable. 

We brought flashlights for the walk home. The ascent of Horn hill, where we were staying, seemed measurably steeper - due to the wine I am sure. It was still warm enough to sit for a while on the deck and make the photograph of the Inn. We  talked about the day. I remember hearing and understanding. It was so quiet. Then we silently absorbed the closing of the day.

Monday, October 12, 2015


Dear Friend, I couldn’t help resonating with your comment about fall being a difficult time of year. The fall and early winter seasons always bring me face to face with my aging, since I have a fall birthday. It also brings up my long past, which I keep in the background most of the time. Yet, when as it is such a formidable presence, it becomes difficult to ignore. And I do know, dear friend, that the work of real life is now, not then.

Sometimes It seems that I have lived several lifetimes and when I try to make some sense of it all, the effort fails miserably. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s just life and it’s meant to be accepted and lived as well as it is possible to do so. There is no standard that fits us all. Each of us lives by our own unique constitution and Bill of Rights.

Your comment reminds me that our vulnerability is our most shared experience. The Superhuman that is portrayed in magazines and Sunday supplements is a construct made to order, usually to sell something or solicit your vote. It would be a horrible mistake to think we are supposed to be like that. We’re not supper human - just human, which is quite enough.

True, there are those who are true heroes of modern life and whose example comes near to shaming some of us who are less driven toward achievement, or who are just tired of the effort. At times I think those people are the loneliest of all, but that is little more than a juicy rationalization.

I have always considered fall the “family” season. However, If you live long enough, family becomes scarce and very likely scattered. Friends can be an effective substitution, but friends are all dealing with the very same things you and I are dealing with.

Our Thanksgiving gathering is history since the death of Ruth, CA’s mother. I do so miss her and the nexus she provided for us all for quite a few years. There is talk of a gathering, but it’s only talk. We live so far apart and holiday travel is such a testy chore. We’ll have a turkey. We’ll dine on it for days.

CA and I have forsworn the traditional Christmas Tree around which we gathered with all the ornaments, each with its unique story, which was repeated in epochal solemnity. We have a “boxed” tree now that serves to acknowledge the indelibility of the event in our lives but takes less room in the room, if you know what I mean.

We’ll swap gifts, open packages sent from afar and perhaps walk on the beach and then indulge ourselves with Chinese food. We’ve done that for years on most Christmas days. It seems to work. The Chinese, for the most part, do not do Christmas. It must save them a lot of money.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


AS A RULE, I DO NOT LIKE TEAR JERKERS. However, now and then, there comes along one that is funny, expertly casted and tearjerkingly wonderful.

No, I’m not going to tell you what it was. That would spoil the whole thing. It’s not about the piece or movie or story - it’s about the value of tear jerkers.

Value? A value in tearjerking? You got to be kidding. Most of the time I am into stuff like THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE, THE DIRTY DOUZEN, HEARTBREAK HILL - stuff like that. I am usually not into the emotional stuff, just live action for me. Give me HIGH NOON or THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY and I am happy.

But now and then I find myself deeply involved with a story that touches something deep within my heart - why does this bother me? - and I find the odd tear trundling down my face. The truth is GUNS OF NAVARONE is not reality. Something like that may have happened once but it’s not life that can be expected in the real world. A scenario that was dreamed up and actors playing parts that were never real is not something that tugs at one’s heart strings.

What plucks the strings is human intimacy. The warmth of loving another. The uninhibited hope in a youthful face. PLAY IT FOWARD, comes o mind. Perhaps, AS GOOD AS IT GETS. Maybe even AND SO IT GOES, for a more recent example. I still have a tissue to cover that one.

I don’t think I’ll get to sleep unless I can find some reruns of AMERICAN PICKER, or, perhaps some old TWILIGHT ZONE stuff to soothe my mind. Tears don’t work this late in the evening.

Friday, October 2, 2015


You take all those pictures. You file them away, and maybe even put them in album books, but most likely in boxes and drawers. They lie there for decades. Now and then you fumble through them and say things like, “I need to organize these some day”. You haven’t said this? OK, I’ll blink first - I’ve said it numerous times, the last of which was just today.

I can see in my mind’s eye the ones I’ll most want to preserve, print, or duplicate. For sure I should digitize them. That’ll do it. Then I can share them with the entire family, who, of course, have been lined up since four in the morning to get their download, or their hard copy of these family treasures.

Of course, they are treasures to me. Does that make them treasures to my children, who would be the only people on earth I can think of with any vested interest in such matters?

It’s a lot of work. CA says it would make a great winter project. I think making a bi-weekly bowl of chili would do for a winter’s work. Of course, I can do both. I know the chili will happen and probably not too far off either with these cool evenings driving us inside from the porch for cocktails.

In a weak moment not long ago I threatened to just pile them up and light them up. I mean, in a hundred years who will even care? Or, is that even the question?

Don’t worry. I’m not going to burn them. Excuse me - I didn’t mean to infer that you care about my old photos. I’m just ruminating and hoping that I might get past this issue sooner than later.

I can see my favorite picture in my mind. It’s the one a street photographer made of Billie, my first wife, and me on Canal Street in New Orleans in September of 1949. We were on our wedding overnight. To say it was a Honeymoon would be a serious stretch of the imagination. Neither one of us knew a thing about anything, but we looked good. I In my shark skin double breasted suit in light blue and she in a shiny, I think taffeta thing - it made noise - with several petticoats holding it out at an angle. We looked like the teenage runaways that we actually were. It had to be obvious to the entire city. The photographer spied us half a long block away and we paid him a couple of dollars for the print which we didn’t believe would come - but it did. We didn’t have a clue about what lay ahead.

But that’s the thing about old photographs. They are slices of life that reveal more, sometimes, than originally intended.

I’ve been meaning to organize these photographs for decades. I think this is the year. Well, more exactly - the winter. I thinkI can work it in between bowls of chile.