Posted in Hearing Loss, Lost in Thought

On Communicating

Was wandering the internet and finding so many interesting things that I got confused. Which direction do I go in?

This is the lesson I take from housework: don’t think about the fact that you’ve got all these things to do before the visitors get here. Just focus on hoovering the landing! Put the kettle on, hoover the other rooms, one by one. Then have a cup of tea! You get less tired and irritable if you stay in that relaxed frame of mind, and will be able to accomplish more.

The same thing should work when your attention is going different ways and trying to get its teeth into different things. Any lion could tell you that — you can’t chase down two zebras at once.

First blog post follows. Others might take a few days or weeks, depending on how far they have dispersed into the bush.

— — — — —

So, let us say… I was thinking about how it might be possible for a severely or profoundly deaf person to get more involved in conversation with groups of normally hearing people. I don’t pretend to have found an answer to that, but the hunt goes on.

As I mentioned to a friend, groups are tricky. People can be genuinely keen to include you and they’ll say something like “I’ll write you notes,” but that’s not how conversations work. They need to fill any potentially awkward silences, even if that means talking while someone else is trying to write or read a note. I’ve seen my mother trying to keep me in the loop by writing something while all the time a friend is blethering away… it’s hard for her to keep both of us happy!

People might start with good intentions of including me, but soon slip back to their usual way of communicating.

Things might be better for future generations at a time when everybody is learning sign language at school — surely then people will be more included (and more easily included) than not. That’s all the hope I have.

When searching around for ideas and inspiration, I found a Vimeo video on lip-reading along with its connected essay, Seeing at the Speed of Sound by Rachel Kolb.

In her essay, Rachel mentions how she sometimes feels guilt about going along with hearing conventions. You know it’s not simple, barely even possible, yet we go along with it, or try to. That sense of disquiet puts you at war with yourself. I wonder if I’d be happier if I rocked the boat more? On the other hand, you can’t engage with people or change anything by pitting yourself against them.

I know what she means when she speaks of complete communication breakdown hanging in the air — gosh, that feels bad. I had a dose of that a couple of days ago, which is what sparked off this entire blog post and my discovery of these links.

There’s a bit in the essay where someone starts typing on a cellphone and she feels like hugging him — it made me smile, remembering when the audiologist typed everything down on his computer monitor. The relief was amazing! You understand everything and it puts you at ease — you are more likely to laugh and engage, because the tension and awkwardness has been lifted and you feel more equal.

Anyway, I’d just got to that bit in the essay then caught the most fragile of squeaks at the edge of my hearing. Uncertain there’d been anything, I looked up and saw my mother’s grey cat staring at me.
She squeaked again — this time there was no doubt.
“Just a minute,” I said. “I’ll get it.”
When I returned with her box, she looked at it, unfurled her tail, and went unhurriedly to take possession. I left to give her privacy, and couldn’t help thinking it was ironic that I was reading about the difficulties of communicating with people, but had no problems with a single rusty squeak. It does help if you know what the topic of conversation is likely to be!

Another post I came across today was A Tear or a Smile.

Both topics in that — white lies and responsibility — have been engaging my thoughts a lot.

When important, white lies don’t solve anything — simply causing confusion and allowing problems to steadily get worse… much like somebody regularly buying a brand of beer you detest because she thinks you like it. When she discovers the truth, months or years down the line, she feels like a stupid klutz. I know this from personal experience!

You can build on honesty and respect, even if slowly, but anything else is a shaky foundation or a total waste ground… yes, perhaps like ‘communication breakdowns’ where I escape to my lair rather than try to find a way. Sometimes, I guess, we have to start from rock bottom.

As for responsibility — I’ve been reading how it all rests with us. When something needs to be fixed or changed, we must ‘man up’ and get on with it. No question. I think, however, that we are responsible not just for ourselves but each other, and it would be dangerous to lose sight of that. People can go through a huge amount of difficulty that you might never be made aware of. What are we learning if we sit silently, each side of a chasm, and smile? I don’t yet know.

Posted in My Cats

Even the Cat Finds Me Annoying

Today Samson (one of my cats) was lying on my lap, and the TV was running long commercials I’d already seen a million-and-one times before. Because I was bored, I was repetitively patting his flank.

He got fed up with this, so he gently grabbed hold of my fingers, curling his paws inwards to hold them, and carefully stuck his claws in till I stopped moving! Then he plucked up both his hind feet and plopped them on top.

That’s a cat who brooks no nonsense. 🙂

Posted in Health Issues, Photographs

Kitten Fever

Yesterday visited Big Sister… she has some kittens. I didn’t take camera, so have no photos, but she had a naughty little Tortie who pricked my legs all over with a wicked little fork, so I put a hand down to stop her. Instead of stopping, she managed to scratch one of my fingers on the top and at the same time stab it under the nail, so I let out an awful yelp. We’re used to cats and kittens, so it’s not as though we screech every time we get nipped or clawed!

Pulled my hand away and the finger was already dripping blood from under the nail. Kitten wasn’t fazed, though… no intention of running! The more you object and wriggle and tell her to stop, the more she attacks. Looked across the room at an older cat who was watching all this, grinning wryly, as though to say “welcome to my world.”

Tortie kitten already has owners booked, and I asked “do they know what they’re letting themselves in for?”
“I suppose so,” said Mum. “She has a wicked little face.”
Wicked? It’s pure innocence… wide, astonished eyes.

She followed me upstairs where I was trying out Big Sister’s new computer, and Mum came in and said “she’s decided she’s yours.”
Not a chance! Anyway, Delilah would have something to say about that.

When I came home I left the computer off as I was fatigued. I thought nothing of it at the time, thinking “I’ve been out; I’m tired!” but wondered next morning when, before I even opened my eyes, I was feeling dizzy. Wonder if that kitten stuck me with a little bug! Or maybe it’s the tooth infection, though it appears to be behaving right now.

One bit of good news though…. it was nice, hot, dry and gusty: a good drying day at last!

Washing on a whirligig, surrounded by fresh greenery

Posted in My Cats


I’ve just been rescuing what looked like a wood mouse… very dainty little fellow. Cats are supposed to catch rodents living in the house, whereas ours catch them outdoors and bring them in to play with. For some reason, Delilah’s favourite torture chamber is the bathroom.

I was watching Suspect starring Cher and Dennis Quaid, and noticed Delilah joyfully grabbing at the tail of something trying to hide under the bathroom door. I grabbed Delilah (nearly getting my wrists slashed when she made a determined attempt to chase the mouse, which had scuttled temptingly over to the door of my sitting room). I shut Delilah in the bathroom and turned back round, expecting the mouse would have disappeared, but it was still sitting there. I didn’t really want it to go inside my sitting room, as we would never find it again, and it might chew cables and things… but when I moved towards it, thinking it would rush inside, it stayed, and then ran back and hid under a table on the landing (not very good cover).

I started to close the sitting room door, then realized why the mouse hadn’t gone in. It had stopped there on one side of the door, and on the other side of the door was Samson, my other cat.


Samson didn’t have a clue the mouse was there, though the sounds of Delilah thumping around in the bathroom seemed to puzzle him slightly; the mouse knew he was there without even looking. Maybe he saw the light change with his movement, smelled him, heard him, or all three.

Anyway, I didn’t tell… I closed the door on Samson, then went after the mouse with a shoebox. I thought I had him, put the lid on, carried it downstairs, went outside and opened the lid to place the mouse in the grass… and the box was empty! Arr. Stumped back inside, found mouse still lurking under the table, then it hid under the teddy bears lining the side of the stairs (they’re there for some tea party Mum’s going to hold). I would pick up a bear, exposing the mouse, and it would plink down a step and under the next bear. Then it plinked up a couple of steps, confusing me for a bit, as I was still working downwards. I blocked it from going back up on the landing, and it not only started plinking down the steps again, it FLEW down them, over the heads of the bears, and was at the bottom of the stairs in about 2.5 seconds.

Do you ever dream about flying? Being a mouse would be nice if it wasn’t for the predators, you could sort of swoop about without the need for wings.

After that it was a piece of cake; it obviously knew what a door was (is that a stupid thing to say? wasps know what doors are too) and it scrabbled despairingly at the front door (unfortunately shut) then huddled in a corner. I eased the door open, waited, and having hesitated for a long time as though trying to work out what sort of trap I had laid, it ran out and off into the night.

Delilah can’t find her mouse, so she’s beating up Samson instead.

Posted in Hearing Loss, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, My Cats, Photographs

Cats the World Over

Black Cat from the U.S.

I was mulling over ideas for an image contest I might enter… not having settled for anything yet, I looked through a gallery of stock images for white cats. The search term didn’t work that well and I ended up with all sorts: black cats, torties, tabbies, Siamese, Tonkinese, grey cats, tigers, cougars, women in costume…

At first I was just flipping through, stopping at this picture or that, thinking “this one would look good but I would have to paint the tail in” and so on. After a while, I got sad. My tinnitus changes to suit my mood (and reinforce it, I suspect), so I heard the pop equivalent of plaintive violins. I can’t identify it. A male voice singing kindly, as if over a guitar in the deepening summer dusk. A little bit distant, as though I looked over to the next hill slope and he’s sitting there in the honey-warm heather, warbling away on his own.

It’s a wonder I haven’t just drifted away in my sleep… stopped breathing, as the world I live in is not this one! Some of those modelling photos made me uncomfortable: they brought it home to me that I’m surrounded by a host of people living on a different planet. If we’re all on that other planet, who’s on this one?

Back to the cats. I wondered what the unwitting feline models would think if they realized people were putting them in pictures of their own, painting them, or just looking at their cute little button noses from the other side of the world. Each cat was individual… I could imagine how I would have loved each one.

I’d just finished that sentence (not wearing hearing aids as they were tiring my ears) and there was a loud bang, one of those that you feel all through you. You thought somebody was attacking and threw your arms protectively round your head, then realize something fairly major has fallen down or exploded… by ‘fairly major’ I mean not just a pile of books toppling to the floor. I whipped round, my heart hammering. Samson was chasing a moth and had knocked over a heavy tower of tape cassettes.

He wasn’t in the least bit repentant, just chased the fluttering will ‘o the wisp all the way down the stairs and back again, even with me standing on the landing shaking a fist. I looked over my shoulder just now, and he was skulking round by the foot of the tower again… doesn’t care if he knocks it down. Chased him out of the room a second time, but he’s immediately come back.


Where was I?

“Each cat was individual… I could imagine how I would have loved each one.” Sitting looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths… and I believe them.

Why should that make me sad? I have Samson and Delilah (otherwise known as Springy and Squishy). I’m thinking of other cats I’ve known… Sharky heads the list, followed by Thor, Fusspot, Lucky, Tarquin, Scampi, and others. Tarquin was a black moggy with a white bib; I named him after a character in a Georgette Heyer novel. (Well, I was 12 or 14 or something like that). Mum said Tarquin was the stupidest cat she’s ever known. A comfortable, friendly boy though; I miss him.

Does this mean that we can never look at something we like with without feeling pain? The only item I can look at and think “I’ll never lose this,” is my bed!

The accompanying picture is one of the cats I hovered over for ages in the stock photo gallery… he has kind eyes and a modest expression like Thor. if I could have given him a hug, I would have. The original picture can be found at One White Whisker. The cloudy sky is one of mine.

Later, when Mum came upstairs, I told her about the tower of cassettes being knocked over. She said (unsurprisingly), “yes, I heard.” Then added, “my friends tell me it must be nice to hear somebody moving about the house.”

“Who did that??? Don’t DO that!!!”
(Sound of cats thundering uncaringly up and down the stairs).

Posted in My Cats

That Stench

Over the past two or three days I’ve been surrounded by a smell. I kept the cat trays clean, but it was getting worse. Even Mum noticed it. She said the smell starts on the stairs and gets worse the higher you climb.

Tcha. I didn’t want to be known as That Stinky Diddums Upstairs.

Yesterday I found an old rug being used as a pee corner (Delilah is the prime suspect – I caught her on the old sofa, and it was probably she who went twice on Mum’s bed), so I told the cats they were no longer allowed into my upstairs sitting room during the night. It’s common sense anyway because of the computers and trailing wires in here. Once I caught Delilah trying to bite through the PC’s connection to the rest of the world (a pretty red cable to the router, now covered with some frightening chew marks. I nearly went through the roof). Cats, technology and trailing wires don’t always mix. But the place still smelled distinctly gamey. Throwing out the rug helped, but not enough.

Eventually, Delilah was seen juggling a sparrow. It was cold, scrawny, tattered and had been dead some time. It definitely smelled, so when she wasn’t looking, I chucked it in the bin outside. I washed my hands, opened all the windows, and brought some coffee upstairs, ready to put my feet up…. and the smell nearly knocked me out. Throwing out the bird helped, but not enough.

In bed that night, with my door closed, I could still smell something bad.

Today when I was coming up the stairs, I finally saw them…. three rodents lying under the desk on the landing. Each was at a different stage of decay, and one of them had soaked into the carpet. We didn’t spot them before because of various items sitting in front of the desk, but today they’d moved just enough for Delilah’s gruesome larder to be revealed to the world.

I have thrown them out and opened all the windows, along with the front door (so that the house got very cold, and then it started spitting with rain, of course). It does smell a lot better now… but I don’t think I will be happy till we’ve done some serious spring-cleaning.

Posted in Hearing Loss, My Cats

Talking Cat

Delilah makes me chuckle… she was going after a fly, and I caught her eye and said, beseechingly, “please don’t do it!” She looked guiltily back at the fly with a “waaahh!” as though to say “but I can’t help it, you know I can’t.”

Today, she was leaning close to my ear and I thought I heard a squeaky noise, so I turned and looked at her and said “did you say something?” and she immediately said “yah!” in that identical squeaky tone, so I knew it hadn’t been something going on in the house which should be investigated… set my mind at rest.

I don’t let cats go up on kitchen worktops (or try not to) so when I caught Delilah on ours, I said “get down!” and Delilah promptly jumped off. Mum laughed and said “did you hear that?”
“Hear what?”
“She said ‘oops’… or made a noise very like it.”

Posted in Hearing Loss, My Cats, Rants


Head still hurting – sore eyes I think.

One thing the cats do… they use the tray, and a stench arises, so I rush to scoop it out, thinking the smell will go away. A short while later, it’s still hanging around – I assume it’s still settling down and ignore it, then finally get suspicious. I look again, and there’s a second lot waiting there to be scooped out. I would have cleaned it up sooner as I don’t want to sit in a cat-fug.

I reckon this is one of the little drawbacks to being deaf you would never suspect… with reasonable hearing you would hear the cats scratching in the tray, and know right away. Just like you hear them start to be sick somewhere and have time to sling them outside or pose them over the basin, or you hear them howling and scrabbling in whatever cupboard they’ve got themselves shut into. When we’ve lost a cat, Mum will sometimes say “hist! I hear her… somewhere…..” and even if we don’t know yet where ‘she’ is, I feel a bit better. At least she’s not run away and got shut in someone’s horrible freezing garage. Then we might find her in the loft, which is often enough the first place we looked. We can’t always trust cats to come when they’re called; they hide away and grump, and if I can’t see them…. well, I don’t know they’re there, and I’m well on my way to a serious panic.

The poop-immediately-after-poop thing is something they often do; in this nice weather you would think they would use Mother Nature’s litter tray outside. It’s a lot bigger and softer than mine. Maybe I should pop my blog on the laptop and go out there myself to get away from the fug.

This morning (in the last hour or two in fact) they did it to me three times, not just once. I have thrown all the windows open. Should have asked Mum to look for a squirt gun.