Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Was That?

I've noticed lately that my hearing is not as sharp as it once was. For instance, when the whole second grade classroom is abuzz and some cherub whose voice doesn't ever raise above a lisping whisper says something to me, I have to bend to her level and say, "What was that?" repeatedly. If a train is hustling by I often can't hear my idling car engine. Likewise, when the phone is not pressed directly against my left ear (my "good" side), I often miss parts of the conversation from the other party and have to uh-huh and mmm-hmmm my way along until I pick up the gist of what I missed. I've gotten along just fine with what hearing I have left until last Sunday. Now I have cause to pause.

J and I were on our way home from a Transfer Station run when she suggested swinging by a fast food place and indulging in one of their inexpensive hot fudge sundaes. Any time the world fudge is mentioned I am all for whatever it is I need to do to get it. Besides, it was a beastly hot day and ice cream sounded like a bowl of heaven so off we went. We pulled up to the talking order board and when the scratchy voice asked us what we wanted, J leaned out the window and said, "Two hot fudge sundaes, please."

"Do you want double fudge for an extra dollar?" inquired the board.

J looked at me. "Double fudge?" I asked. J nodded. "Sure!" we both said at the same time, I to J and J to the talking board.

"Pull around," said the board so we did.

At the window, a young fellow handed J a small paper bag. She passed it to me and I looked inside. Surely our sundaes could not be in there. Just as I suspected, they weren't. What was in there were two apple pies.

"These are apple pies!" I exclaimed. J looked at me with raised eyebrows. She whisked the bag from my hand and gave them back to the fellow saying, "We ordered hot fudge sundaes, not apple pies."

"Oh, the sundaes are coming," he said with a smile. "You agreed to the pies for an extra dollar. They're our special this week."

J's eyebrows crept up another notch. "We did?" she asked me. "Did you hear anything about apple pies?"

"Double fudge," I said enunciating each syllable, then "Apple pie." No way did double fudge sound like apple pie, even if I dragged the syllables out. I shook my head at J. "Nope," I said. "We agreed to double fudge. Who eats apple pies with hot fudge sundaes?"

"We don't want the pies, thanks," she told the window guy, but he handed them back to her saying that since they couldn't put them back we might as well take them and he'd deduct the dollar from our bill.

"Stranger things have happened," he intoned, his own eyebrows rising for emphasis.

All the way home we puzzled over the misunderstanding. Who could mistake double fudge for apple pie? Apparently two hot, tired, more-than-middle-aged, on-the-twenty-year-plan old bats like us because between them, those sundaes didn't have enough fudge to qualify as a single serving, never mind double. It was all very disconcerting.

I've been practicing the two phrases. If I speak through a paper towel tube with a piece of saran wrap held tightly over one end and I mumble, you might mistake one for the other, but you'd have to be hard of hearing in the first place.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Parker the cat who knows the value of an afternoon nap.
The sun rises awfully early on summer mornings and though I don't have to rise with it, I often do. Sleep has become an evasive commodity lately (lately being the past ten years or so). At first I blamed my semi-insomnia on worries - you know, the ones about money and children and things you wish you hadn't said or done that loom like monsters in the deep, dark night. But, I have a job, my grown children all have jobs, we all have places to live and food to eat. And worrying about those things no matter what time of day or night never did present a solution. Now I blame my ever increasing age. I am older now than I've ever been and I can see signs of deterioration. It's the ones I can't see that seem to be causing the trouble.

Books and magazines offer solutions to what seems to be a global affliction. One can go the drug route complete with little flapping butterflies hovering over one's prostrate body, the health conscious route that advises a light evening meal and a brisk walk afterwards, or the natural route which involves chamomile baths and spraying one's bed linens with lavender. I avoid drugs whenever possible and prefer my butterflies out of doors so I tried first the healthy route. Summer evenings are fine for an after dinner stroll around the neighborhood but winter nights fall fast and early. A brisk walk to the end of the driveway involved hat and coat and boots and mittens. Just dressing and undressing made me tired and I'd tumble into bed earlier and earlier each night. My ability to stay asleep did not increase, however, and I would find myself awake and semi-alert well before dawn. By mid-morning I was desperate for a nap!

Lavender on my bed linens smells heavenly but does not put me to sleep. Chamomile baths are out of the question as my tiny cottage has no room for a tub, but chamomile tea does not put me to sleep either. Nor does warm milk, a small glass of wine, or gentle yoga just before bedtime. I've tried reading in bed, counting sheep (and blessings), and meditation, none of which make me fall asleep more readily or stay asleep once I've nodded off. I'm beginning to suspect that the folks who come up with these remedies stay up all night thinking about them.

My latest tactic is to enjoy the pre-dawn hours, to rise slowly, make a cup of steaming tea, sit where I can watch the sun rise or the rain fall, and breathe in the new day as it unfolds. When I wind down around three in the afternoon, I take a nap. So far, that's working just fine.