Monthly Archives: July 2012

Poor Stuart Little

You know your kid is growing up when he’ll willingly sit and listen to a story without pictures.  Aaron and I have been reading Stuart Little together before bed.  He’s really enjoying it.  Just a few months ago, he got rather bored when we tried to start Harry Potter, but he seems to be quite taken with little Stuart Little.

So last night we’re reading together, and we get to this part:

“It was George who had the idea of stationing Stuart inside the piano to push the key up the second it was played.  This was no easy job for Stuart, as he had to crouch down between the felt hammers so that he wouldn’t get hit on the head.  But Stuart liked it just the same: it was exciting inside the piano, dodging about, and the noise was quite terrific.  Sometimes after a long session he would emerge quite deaf, as though he had just stepped out of an airplane after a long journey; and it would be some little time before he really felt normal again.”

As I’m reading the passage, I start getting slower and slower as I realize exactly what it is saying.  At the end, I unknowingly pause lost in thought.  Poor Stuart.  His little mouse ears getting damaged over and over again just because precious little Georgie and his parents can’t bother to get the piano fixed.  Have they thought about Stuart and his hearing at all?  What’s going to happen to him when he starts to get older and these Temporary Threshold Shifts have degenerated into permanent hearing loss?  Do they even make mouse-sized hearing aids?

So I’m lying there thinking about poor Stuart and his ears, and Aaron says, “Well, Mom, it looks like Stuart is going to have to come see you at your work.”

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Kitchen Facelift – Stage 1

Ever since we moved in to our house 8 years ago, we’ve imagined a different kitchen.  However, we’ve never really done anything it – other house maintenance has been more pressing, we were living on one income, blah, blah, blah.  Suffice it to say that a new kitchen has been on our wishlist for quite awhile.  What we envision is a complete remodel, with a bump out with french doors onto a deck.  And of course while we’re at it we’ll add a laundry/utility/bathroom.  Sounds great, right?  In my head it looks like this:

However, I don’t think that kind of project is in the cards for many years.  Two words: college funds.

So – we took a critical look at our kitchen to see if we could meet it halfway.  The layout of our kitchen is very utilitarian.  There is plenty of cabinet space, and adequate though not abundant counter space.  The appliances are on the newer side, and not unattractive.  We actually already gave the kitchen a “do-it-yourself” facelift when we moved in.  This is what it looked like before:

Notice the wood paneling, the barn-style fixtures, the heavy drapes.  We ended up painting over the wood paneling, giving all the cabinetry a lighter coat of white, and swapping out the fixtures for something more modern.  It ended up looking much better.

So we’ve lived with it that way for about 8 years, and have decided to go one step further and update without really remodeling.  That means, new floor, expanding the counter a little bit to give us a bit more space, upgrading our sink, and adding a hood over the stove.

Stage 1 is the floor.  See that dark thing on the floor in the last picture?  When we moved in, it was just a little slit, as if someone had been slicing something on the floor, and the scalpel just went a little too deep.  But over time, the edges curled up, and it ended up looking like this:

So last week, finally, we got our new floor.

We LOVE it.  It’s nothing expensive or fancy, just sheet vinyl, but it’s easy to keep clean, and it has the retro look that we both love.  Picture a dark counter top, new cabinet doors and drawers with new pulls and hinges, new window treatments, and a new wall color.  I’m thinking dark red or a deeper, warmer yellow.  I’ve been scouring the internet looking for color ideas.  It’ll be several months before Stage 2 happens, but for now, we are basking in our new floor.  It’s still a bit shocking whenever I walk into the kitchen!

Stay tuned!

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Boo!

Lydia was watching me play solitaire on my iPhone the other day, and she asked me how I learned it.  I told her that my Granny taught me.  Granny was a serious solitaire player.  She played with either a cigarette or a glass of booze in her hand.  Pretty much all day.  So she taught me to play Klondike solitaire (the kind that comes with every copy of Windows since it’s advent), Clock Solitaire (which I’m struggling to remember), and her favorite, called Boo.  She told me she made Boo up, and I’ve never seen or heard of anyone else playing it, so maybe she did invent it.  I don’t know – there are so many versions of solitaire out there, maybe this is just one of the more obscure ones.  But it’s great fun.  Here’s how it goes:

You’ll need two complete decks of cards.  Start by shuffling (obviously!), and then lay a single layer of cards out, seven in the first row (for card positions Ace to 7), and six in the second row (for card positions 8 to King).  As you are laying them out, you are also putting cards into your draw pile.  There are three rules for the draw pile:

  1. If you deal and Ace or a King, put one card in the draw pile.
  2. At positions 7 and King, put two cards in the draw pile.
  3. If you deal the same card as the card position, put one card in the draw pile.

So if you were to deal a King in the King position, you’d get your two cards for the King position, another card for dealing a King, and another card for dealing a King into the King position (that particular deal satisfies all three of the above rules for a total of 4 cards).

So here, at position 6 I dealt a King, so I put one card in the draw pile.  At position 7 I put two more cards in the draw pile.  At position 9 I dealt an Ace, so I put one more card in the draw pile, and at the King position, I added two more cards to the draw pile.  Keep doing this until you have dealt all the cards.  You should end up with something like this:

Now, the goal is to build up from suit-specific Aces on the left, and build down from suit-specific Kings on the right.  Any card that is on top of a card position pile may be played.  So you’ll see in the picture above, I can pull the Ace of Hearts down, but there is no 2 of Hearts, and no other Aces or Kings, so I’ll need to draw a card from the draw pile.

I drew a 3 of Spades, so I can pick up the cards in Position 3, and see if there is anything I can play.  I see there is a King of Diamonds, but that’s it.

So I replace the 3 pile (with the 3 of spades now on top), and draw another from the draw pile.  Here I see the King of Spades.  Nothing else usable yet.

Skipping ahead… I’ve now got all my building piles.  This time I drew the Jack of Spades, and in the Jack pile there are some usable cards that will allow me to use other cards on the board.  I can use the 9 of Clubs, then the 8 and 7 of Clubs from the board, etc, etc, etc.

You get the picture.  Just keep doing that until you’ve run out of cards in the draw pile.  It’s actually pretty hard to win this game, but if you want to cheat, when you’ve run out of cards in the draw pile, go through and take the top card off of each of the position piles and make that your new draw pile.  When I was a kid, I measured how well I was doing by how many times I had to cheat in order to win the game!

Thanks, Granny, for teaching me your game, and special thanks to Lydia for reminding me of it!

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Making a Difference

One of the things I like the most about my job is the immediacy of it.  There are lots of things I do every day that make an immediate improvement in someone’s quality of life.  Every so often I get a patient who has been neglected, either by falling through the cracks on our end, or due to health problems or cognitive issues on theirs.  Their hearing health is a wreck.  They haven’t had a test in five years, their hearing aids are dirty and barely functional.  They are unhappy because they can’t hear and don’t realize there is something to be done about it.  I even had a woman tell once tell me that she threw her hearing aids away.  I thought she was joking of course, and then suddenly realized that she actually had thrown them in the garbage.  After realizing that this had occurred several months ago, I stopped envisioning picking through her trash with rubber gloves on, and we decided to order new ones with the understanding that she should consult with me in the future if she ever feels like throwing her hearing aids away again.

Anyway, I had two patients this week who desperately needed my help.  Neither had had a hearing test in over three years.  Both of them had tubes that were rock hard, molds that were caked with wax, and microphone ports clogged with yuckiness.  Luckily, in both cases they had had just minor shifts in their hearing.  I was able to sweep out their microphone ports, change their tubes, clean their molds, then adjust their hearing aids on the ear, and it was like a revelation for them.  They were so happy and relieved that they didn’t have to spend thousands more dollars on hearing aids.  And both of them commented on the fact that they can tell that I really like my job.  Which I do.

Just another week helping people hear better, one at a time.

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Best Picture of Lydia

Ever.

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