Sunday, February 15, 2015


We had the greatest idea. Our imaginations ran wild. We’d have tee shirts, buttons, flags with our logo. Logo. What could we use as an identifying reminder of our idea?

The above ideas began after a birthday dinner in which the family sat in an upscale restaurant (for our area it was “upscale”.). The members turned to me and said, “Did you hear our conversations?” I replied “No, but I got the gist of it.”

Son 2 said he knew then how difficult it was for me to hear (a) between walls (b ) in a crowded place (c) around corners (d) and everywhere in which no one was facing me. So began the process of helping me enjoy family get-togethers in the future with ideas flying left and right.

After figuring out what the logo would be, Son 2 went online, “Just to be sure there’s not one already.” There was - - not just one but variations of the standard logo for impaired hearing. We were disappointed but happy. Disappointed we didn’t think of printing tees, buttons and signs, and whatever forty years ago when my hearing problem was in its infancy; disappointed that we hadn’t learned the symbol wasn’t used more often in public; disappointed that I had lost so much enjoyment in the myriad of table conversations.
We found a company that printed anything you want on tees and buttons. I ordered several buttons with nifty statements. From the logo alone to a few words. Each button makes clear the message I need to convey when the cashier babbles incoherently (I think) “Thatistwentythirtytwo.”  Maybe she’ll read on my lapel “Speak a little louder and more clearly,” instead of apologizing when I ask for a repeat – twice – she’ll understand.

I wear a different one every time I leave the house. You know what? No one sees or comments on the button. I have to announce in a group why I'm wearing it. Do you think voices increase in volume because I'm there? Absolutely not!

When you know of someone with hearing difficulties, touch him/her on the arm and speak while you look directly into the eyes. Then see a smile develop.


Daughter Janie was in the second grade in 1970. With February 14 soon to arrive, I asked if she were going to give valentines to her class. No. Was her answer. I asked again a few days later. No, came the second time. Then the night before at 9 p.m. J said she had to go to the store. Why, I asked?  "To buy some valentines for my class." What made her change her mind? She failed to give me a reason. Just insisted she buy some.

With package in hand she sat in her room and vigorously wrote a few words on the back on each valentine, shoved it into its envelope, wrote a name outside. This she did for 25 students and the teacher.

The family of mom, two sons and J went to the same school. I taught in high school at one end of the building; the kids at the other end in elementary school. At lunch Janie's teacher came up to me and asked: "Did you read your daughter's class valentines?"

"No, she wouldn't let me."

Her teacher revealed each student got this message: "Happy VD Day!"


Thursday, February 5, 2015


“I will not sit on a paint bucket. Period.”

 “It’s only for the summers, Hon,” I argued.

“Don’t care, no paint bucket.” Dick folded his arms, his chin thrust defiantly forward.

We had a newly-built cabin in the lower Catskills with a separate bath house containing an old tub large enough for a midget to sit. Missing was a toilet. We were living off the grid. No electricity, no water source.  After consulting several books on the subject, the paint bucket seemed our only choice -- unless husband Dick forked out big bucks for a compost toilet.

“Listen,” I began, “a paint bucket is the smaller version of a purchased toilet. We prepare it to accept a  layering of stuff inside. Never any odor. Once loaded, we cover it, set it aside to compost, and begin with a new bucket.”

“And what happens when we’re ready to come home and there’re forty buckets composting?

“Well, uh, let’s play it by ear the first year,” I replied weakly.

 Such a simple process to create your own toilet: You take a five-gallon plastic paint bucket and have ready in a small garbage can torn-up newspaper, leaves, sawdust, and food scraps. Begin with the first bucket layered with scraps, alternate waste and scraps until the bucket is full; snap on a lid and place it in the sun outdoors and proceed to use second container.  A bi-weekly walk in the woods to collect moist leaves lying near the ground keeps the scrap bucket ready in an emergency.  At the end of a period of time the covered waste disintegrates into a loam-like substance, clean and ready to nourish plants. Paint buckets cost a couple of dollars at the local hardware store. Who could improve on an instant bathroom?

Dick next complained about a permanent ring indention appearing on our backsides. I suggested, “We can use a toilet seat.”

“Negative,” he quickly countered.  I rolled my eyes. There’d be no friends visiting; we had been told how crazy we were at age 70 to tackle living without amenities. Who would spend the night if we had no television set?

I quickly replied, “Inside the bath house we’ll post a sign with directions ‘How to Use the Toilet.’ To ease the process, a decorative cardboard crown will hang next a sign stating ‘For Guest Use Only’. Directions will suggest the sitter put on the crown and pretend to be King or Queen of his/her throne.  Our friends will ignore the inconvenience and come out smiling.”

“The crown thing is stupid. Management doesn’t approve!” Dick declared

How could I win? I gave up fussing and let Dick have his way. He ordered a medium-sized composting toilet. We installed it into our new bath house by setting up a pipe that reached from toilet to the outside roof. The toilet was so high off the floor we had to put a step stool in front to hike ourselves up onto the seat.

I smiled all summer. His way cost time and energy. He soon discovered the New York summers failed to produce enough heat to compost the material. He spent time every eight days raking out the compost himself and disposing of it. 

Below is an at-the-door glance of bath house interior. Tub in rear, compost toilet on right. We gave up using  toilet and used Wag Bags.