TO HEAR: THE OBJECT OF THE EXERCISE – Marilyn Armstrong

THE OBJECT OF THE EXERCISE: TO HEAR

Yesterday, I got a call from the Audiology Department of UMass. She said she wanted to give me the rest of Garry’s official audiological follow-up appointments — as opposed to the surgical follow-ups. I had already gotten the ones for pre-op and Surgery, plus surgical follow-up. Lucky for both of us, she didn’t expect to talk to Garry personally. This is the only medical place that realized he can’t talk on the phone.

As a deaf person, he can’t chat on the phone. That’s what the surgery is all about. Every other time I talk to a medical person other than our family guy, they insist on talking to Garry. I hand him the phone, shout “JUST SAY YES!” Which he does and the conversation can progress. They totally fail to have a grip on the “he can’t hear” issue. Either that or they think if they yell louder into the mouthpiece, that will fix it.

No more of these!

The cochlear implant is a surgical miracle and a lot of technological fine-tuning. Post surgery, he has a date for “turning on the equipment,” three more tune-ups, with a final official get-together after six months. If he needs more help or another type of help, like speech therapy, we can add those.

It’s just as well we aren’t trying to do this in Boston. We’d never survive the traffic.

The object of all of this? To bring Garry back into the world. To make him part of the conversation. To have him in it and not have to round it up and tell him about it later. To take him out of the enclosed space in which he now lives and bring him into the bigger world — the way he was. The way I remember him.

All those objects they will put in his ear and on them? These will change him. I have a feeling they will change him more than he expects. Maybe even more than I expect.

Tune in! We’ll be playing this one by ear.

HARD TIMES AND NEW DAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

Easy times are not when we create solutions to problems. I was sitting here today thinking about the 1400s.

Not everybody sits around thinking about the 1400s, but I do and fairly often. It’s part of the pleasure and burden of a deep passion for history. Right now, I’m reading a series of books about the Tudors. The early Tudors. Owen, Edmond, and Jasper. And, of course, Henry who became the seventh of the many Henrys of England.

The 1300s were a horror show for the old world.

The bubonic plague hit the continent in the 1340s, arriving on ships from (probably) Constantinople. The Black Death swept Europe.

Beginning in 1346 and continuing through 1353, the number of deaths — from war, disease, or anything — is unparalleled in human history. Ultimately, the Black Death killed more than 25 million people in Europe. And the world was much smaller, so 25-million people were the largest part of the human race.

More than half the population of Europe died in the plague and in some towns, it was as much as 100%. In other words, everybody died. The forest grew back over lands that had been sown. Murderous gangs that had formerly been remnants of disbanded armies roamed through Europe. When most of the peasants died, everyone starved because there was no one to grow new crops.

A burst of invention occurred. The peasantry, always been the least valuable members of European society, suddenly achieved importance. So few people remained who were able to grow crops, it was not unusual for peasants to go from castle to castle to see where they could get the best deal for their labor. The middle class grew too, while more than half the nobility disappeared. Between death by plague and death by war, many families slid from the bottom of nobility to the center of poverty. By the 1600s, many former nobles were tilling their own lands.

The Wars of the Roses consumed England. The printing press arrived. Europeans took to movable type with enthusiasm. The press was created sometime between 1400 and 1455. Movable type swept the scribes away.

I’m sure someone was telling everyone that this whole “printing thing” would never last. It was probably someone running a school for scribes.

The 1400s saw the invention of:

The golf ball (1400)
The piano/spinet (1400)
The trigger/matchlock (1411) The handgun arrived in 1364. Before the trigger, it was ignited with an ember or another form of portable fire.
Oil painting (1420) The paint was invented long before this in China, but oil painting techniques (Rembrandt, et al) were 15th-century.
Hoisting gear (1421)
Spectacles/eyeglasses (1450) Possibly earlier.
Printing Press (1450-55) Johannes Gutenberg
Engravings (dry) (1465)
Muzzle-loaded rifle (1475)
Parachute (1485) Leonardo Da Vinci
The copyright (1486)
Bell chimes (1487)
The map globe (1492) This is also when Leonardo was pondering flight because he had a parachute, so you ought to be able to fly, right?
Whiskey (1494)
Sometime during this same period, the moldboard plow was invented, turning agriculture on its ear. Historians are still arguing this issue.

This might not sound like a lot to you, but the invention of the printing press was a bigger deal than the mobile phone or the computer or, for that matter, electricity and diesel power. It overturned the world. Made knowledge available to the many rather than the élite few.

Back when eyeglasses were really expensive

And everybody drank the whiskey.

The point is that times were really bad in the 1300s and only nominally better in the 1400s.

These terrible old days gave the world a kick in the butt and triggered the arrival of central government among nations. It elevated the peasant and middle classes. It advanced banking and industry and art. Towns grew as guilds developed. The building industry changed and expanded. Bridges were redesigned to enable better roads. Better roads made it easier for people to take their goods to market.

Everything changed, including religion because this also was the birth of Protestantism, though it was not called that until later.

Hard times create a new world. Our two world wars were what pushed Europe into socialism and the caring world that they now (or used to) embrace. I think a lot of people forget that before the first world war, it wasn’t a caring Europe. It was a bunch of rich nobles doing whatever they felt like to anything and anyone.

The world doesn’t advance when times are easy. When all is well, we get lazy. Comfort doesn’t force change.

I’d like to think that the current awfulness is going to push us into a creative change which will ultimately improve our world. I don’t know that it will be true because I don’t think I’ll live to see the outcome of this world into the next, but I’d like to think that’s how it will go.

PAULA’S PICK A WORD FOR JULY 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: PICK A WORD IN JULY – Y3

You are wrong if you think I forgot about July’s Pick a Word challenge. I’ve just been too busy to see the last week’s entries, but I will get to that soon. For now, here is the July’s mix for you:
canicular, splash, feathered, marine, scenic


And here are a few pictures to go with it. Canicular reminds me a song my mother used to sing “Canicule, Canicular.” The song never made sense to me and still doesn’t. But I think it was about a small railroad that went up a mountain. It was hard to tell.

My mother never remembered lyrics, so she’d sing the song’s title over and over, but never sing lyrics that made sense. I remember all the melodies and some very odd words.

Ogunquit shore

Canicular — If you don’t think this is narrow, try hauling a bag of groceries up past the lift chair!

I love the waves on the shore, but usually, my camera doesn’t like it nearly as much. Let’s hear it for water-resistant cameras!

Feathered 

Photo: Garry Armstrong – About as scenic as it gets!

HOLY MOLY ROSES! – Marilyn Armstrong

FLOWERS OF THE DAY – THE ROSES, OH THE ROSES!

When I went out and spent a day cutting the roses as far back as I could, I thought they might not grow this year. I was so wrong. Wow, I was very wrong.

The roses were a little late in getting started, but they have covered the bush. They look like the rose bouquets that cover winners of the Derby.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many roses on a bush. It is the first time the roses have ever outdone the daylilies!

SPEAKING OF CURTAILING – Marilyn Armstrong

Curtailment without elimination is a process

In difficult times, some people go on the stump. They give speeches. They carry signs. They march. They sign petitions and attend meetings.

I write.

Of all the things I can do, writing is on top of my personal list. I never know (does anyone?) if the stuff I write reaches anyone. Speaks to anyone. Changes anything, but I like to think it does. Sometimes. Maybe, now and again, I get someone to think about something they otherwise would have ignored.

Always writing has a “reaching out” quality in it. For me. I know there are a lot of writers who seem to spend their words exploring their inner selves and I respect that, but that ain’t me. I need to reach out.

Moreover, I don’t write because “blogging is fun.”

I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil and form words. I wanted to write from the moment I knew there was such a thing in the world and I haven’t changed my opinion since. If I didn’t blog, what else would I do? I’m not a novel writer — I’ve proved that repeatedly.

Regardless, my need to write is powerful. These days, I write a blog, but I always wrote something. I need to find a balance where I can be friends, write, and also have a non-computer life. I just have to figure out how to leave a little time and space to get other things done. I suspect this was easier when connecting wasn’t as easy as it is now — and we didn’t have the power of the universe in our keyboard.

By the way, I also give excellent driving direction, just in case you are planning to visit.

POPULARITY: UPS AND DOWNS by Marilyn Armstrong

Recently, I got “set up” with Instagram. Assured that I could be very popular on it, I set up a password and was left still baffled by how come I can’t use one of my laptops. I don’t have an iPhone and I’m not really comfortable on my mini iPad. But no matter. I could work it out.

All I need to do, is want to make it work. Which I haven’t done.

Assured that I could be very popular, I realized I wasn’t sure I wanted to be more popular. I think maybe I’m entirely popular enough. I feel obliged to respond to commenters. As it is, I barely have time to do anything but work on the computer.

When I have a busy day that requires I do outside stuff — like shopping or cooking or spending the day on telephone hold — I look at my “inbox” and there are hundreds of new emails. I know I won’t be able to even open them, much less answer them. As bedtime rolls around, I delete almost everything, saving a few things that I really want to read and hope I’ll find time for.

Tomorrow is another day. Another few hundred emails will show up. If I leave today’s stuff until tomorrow, I’ll be buried. I may never dig out.

So is that the only reason I don’t want to be “more popular?”

Not entirely. To me, at least, popularity is responsibility. People in my world — online and off — expect me to respond to them, to answer their comments, to pay attention to what’s going on in their world — and rightfully so.

Except — I’m out of time. I can’t do it.

I can not do one thing more than I’m already doing. I’m stretched thin. Of those hundreds of daily emails, I’m able to read fewer than half. I barely have time to entirely read even the few I open, much less thoroughly read anything. Of the (too many) blogs I follow, I read maybe a third of them on a good day. On a less good day during which I’ve got other obligations than computing, I may not get to anything. I find myself at midnight looking at a mass of unopened emails and knowing I can’t do it. I’m tired. All I want is to read for a few minutes and fall asleep.

I’ve run out of conscious hours.

Too much of something is very similar to nothing at all. Having mountains of material to read and being unable to spend any time digging into it is very much like not reading. The result is nagging guilt. This is not what I had in mind.

I don’t want to give up on the people I follow, but I’m in over my head and that’s without adding anything more. So no Instagram for me. No more anything. Garry’s surgery is two weeks away and I’ve got to find time to deal with him and me and our lives. Everything else will have to wait.

Being more popular is not what I need.  What I really need is more time!