Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blessings At Holiday Time

Once again the end of another year is upon us. The many celebrations of faith and new beginnings have already begun and will continue well after the New Year’s ball has dropped in Times Square and the , and the last drop of bubbly has been slurped from the proverbial cup of celebration.

I know too well that reflection can be painful as in the past year I have witnessed Janet, my wife of 19 years, passing. I have also struggled with a new way of hearing in my deaf world, and battled to go back to the working world. I have taken on many challenges that would seem as normalcy to most and not as a challenge. Walking without a cane only happened in February of 2009. I have no inner balance but that is a minor setback and a challenge. Hearing, with a cochlear implant is a huge challenge and requires the work and concentration beyond belief, just to be part of a conversation.Yet every day, in small ways, it gets better. I went to my first movie in a Cinema in over 2 1/2 years just last week. What a wonderful life I have!

Reflection can also be a time that will let you count your many blessings, and renew our faith.

In 2009 I met Mary. In a relatively short period of time we have merged our families as one, and put our love and faith towards building a beautiful relationship. This will be our first Christmas together, and that in itself is cause for great joy on our part, and indeed our families.

Dan, my 15 year old continues to amaze me. His love of life and zeal for the human spirit is magnificent when one considers what the lad has been through in the past 5 years. He watched his mother suffer and pass from blood cancer, his father go suffer medical trauma and loose his hearing, and then he lost his first and only dog to cancer in January of 2009. He is part of my team that keeps me going. Between Mary and Dan I have faith in this place, and have discovered a love that may have always been there, but perhaps got misplaced temporarily when I traveled at the speed of life, and did not take time to slow down and enjoy the concerto right before me.

So my blessings are there before me and I count them on a regular basis. Wonderful new love in my life with Mary and her family, continued love from the amazing Guitar Boy, and a network of old friends, and many new that inspire me to grow and go. Deafness has introduced me to so many amazing denizens that exemplify spirit and the dauntlessness that makes us look at life with a wonderful new and open way.

My cochlear implant provides me with sound. Glorious sound. I am grateful for the technology and the people that gave me back life's soundtrack.

As my family prepares to celebrate Christmas and the coming New Year I would like to extend from my family to yours wishes for a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and Happy Chanukah.
Each and every celebration brings us the opportunity to renew our faith in each other and in the world.From around the world I extend these wishes to you….



Friday, November 20, 2009

Becoming a Curmudgeon

November can be a cruel month.
It teases and flirts with it's summer like days to remind us of the summer past, but it also blows rain and premature December winds to remind us of what is yet to come.

I sat in a coffee shop on a rather nice November day, and I had this profound sense of not belonging as I watched dozens of people actively on cell phones. Talking, texting, twittering, GPSing, googling, downloading, playing, watching video, playing games, blogging.....

It brought me to this post: I seem to fondly remember a time not so long ago, when we could go to a movie, make an egg sandwich, read a book...whatever....and not have to post about it.

I remember the social network scene that involved real face time with real friends. It was a time not long ago when we could make a flan, BBQ a steak, walk a dog, go to church, lock our keys in the car.....and not have to jump on our devices to tell the world.

It is not there is anything wrong with this new world per say, it is just that I sat in the "FourBucks" and enjoyed my paper and my over priced hot foam, I looked up and at that moment saw a dozen or more people on cell phones doing all of the above I am sure.
It hit me.
Why did these devices, these "Smart phones" seem like the embodiment of everything I want to escape?
They are indeed the inevitable technological development and I thought, give us freedom to be better, to do more, to connect better, and yet in their abundance, I saw the measure of how far I had fallen away from the community of contemporary souls. The distance I have moved from the world I used to inhabit. How quick I became the curmudgeon I dreaded becoming.
I read updates from "friends" on Facebook and get angry at the simplicity of the messages. Not on purpose, but postings seem like a competition to get their downloads out there.

I don't belong here anymore.
My membership has lapsed.
Go. I thought

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jonesin For Clear Sound In A Noisy World

Thursday, I will grace the wonderful confines of Sunnybrook Hospital. I will visit the building and the people who restored sound to my life in May of 2008 after nine months in a cone of silence. It is a "working visit" as I have an appointment with the world reknowned audiology department for a schedule maintenance.

Sort of like a 25,000 KM tune up and oil change.

My audiologist will ask me how my hearing is, and I will respond as always: "Have none, still deaf as a stump".
But I will also fill her in on how my new digital sound is keeping me in the game sort to speak.

I hear most conversation in quiet, quite possibly in the 90% range when tested in the word comprehension game.
We play the "Repeat what you hear" game in a closed booth where I face the wall and listen nervously to a mechanica man made loud speakerl speaker in the room.

"What time does this train depart for Bologna?"
Me: "What lime does this pain fart in My Sherrona?"

They may or may test me to confirm this. I hope so, I so enjoy messin with the audiologist.

In noise, I, like most fellow CI-Borgs, suffer in comprehension. Put us in our McDonald's at lunch tim, e near a high school where the shrieks and noise make it hard on the hearing to get conversation, and us CIers just sit and nod when asked anything.
"Pass the salt"
I just nod and smile.
Fake it to make it.

I am, however, miles from where I was when I was first activated, and even in noise, I can get the meat of the conversation if I know the topic, and struggle to stay in the game.
Concentration is required, but it works. Follow the lips, know the topic, don't drift off. Stay FOCUSED to stay part of the planet built for hearing.

I just read about a new hearing strategy that my Cochlear Implant manufacturer is launching. It is called ClearVoice, and the reviews have me excited. It is designed for those noisy environments that we suck at hearing. One user described it the difference as "going from hearing a conversation in a jeep with the top down, to hearing the conversation in a high end Mercedes with windows rolled up. Quiet and nice"

I am intrigued, and will pursue with the good medical people at my clinic.

Phones still are the worst part of my "integration" back into the normal civilized world that favors the hearing, and punishes those of us with the "hidden handicap" - D/deafness. But I try and try to talk on the phone.

Some days are diamond and some are stone. Some phone calls are golden and "I get it" I really get it. Some suck as bad as the closed captioning horror and comedy show that networks give us to follow along. CC is worse than muddled hearing in most cases, and I have posted about this, and will continue to push where I can to get proper Closed Captioning for the hearing impaired in this country.

I still wake up every day and ensure I am indeed with pulse and on the right side of the grass. I check the Irish "Sports pages" (the obituaries) to ensure that I am indeed not is some elaborate dream that has awake and having coffee, and in my dream I read about my untimely (or timed!) demise.
After confirmation that I am still amongst the living, I quietly give thanks for what I have. I am one lucky deaf dog to be here, and will never let a day pass without giving thanks for all the love I have in my life, the people, the planet and all it's glory.

And my wonderful cochlear implant that gives me sound.

Glorious sound!

I still want to try "ClearVoice"



Friday, October 30, 2009

The Autumns In My Life

Autumn is a favorite time of year for me. I love the colours, love the not-so- sweltering heat, and enjoy the crispness and frangrent scents that the earth offers up for the senses, before Mother Nature sheds her annual skins of summer and bares down for a long and white winter nap.

There is something in the visuals of falls cascade of colours, that can be both magnificent in it's glory, and sad in it's reminder of what is about to come.

I never was a true summer person as I don't do so good in the heat, and as welcome as spring is after the long and arduous winters, I don't do so good in the wet either. So autumn be the main and fave time of the year.

I lost my hearing in the fall, and during my 100 day hospital stay, I watched from my 5th story institutional style window, the leaves turn and winter arrive.
Funny how it was comforting for me, in my newly and profound deafness, to view natures annual show.

It was a reminder I guess, that I was still alive, and that the miracles in nature (the cascades of colours, the change in season, the beauty of it all) were perhaps there to reinforce the miracle that had me still around to watch it all.
Deaf, no balance, in a hospital gown mind you, but only weeks earlier I was on life support with little to no prospects for seeing the 8th of September, let alone the first day of autumn.

So I took in the view in my cone of silence. Thought deeply and introspectively about a God of my understanding, and why I was still around.
I gave thanks in my own way, and looked at the world through new eyes, and no working ears.

That was two years ago last month. Seems like an eternity.
Today, as I type, I watch a rain gentle at first, then a torrent and mighty and times. The leaves, or what remains of them on the trees, are long past the vibrant and vivid colours that had spectators in awe weeks ago. They are reduced to unimpressive tones of yellows and browns.
Yet my awe and admiration for nature is more spectacular now than ever.
My gratitude grows still, after all I have been through. I have so much in my life, after having lost so much, but gained more.

I have new love in my new life.
I have a new way of hearing sound, and I never take any sound for granted. I never complain about the "noise".

I just wanted to write today as I watch life's concerto play out in front of me, and tell any and all that grace these simple pages, that life is wonderful!

I hope I never loose my sense of wonder at the world. A grace or gift that came to me after loosing my hearing and watching the world in that cone of silence.

Enjoy the day!



Monday, October 26, 2009

Money To Play With.

What is wrong with this picture?

New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillie's are in the world series of baseball.

Together these two teams spent an indecent - no an obscene amount of money, to pay a bunch of grown men to play a game.
Combined they spent over $300 million just on salaries!
Yes, they are indeed professional athletes And and yes, they are the arguably, the best at what they do.
But the fact is this: Twenty five or thirty some men get $300 million to PLAY a game.
For this season that runs from March to end of October. (OK this year November)

They get the rest of the time to play with their money!

Did you know that just last week, the World Bank loaned India $320 million to improve and repair more than six thousand kilometers of roads in the country? Roads that are sadly and badly needed to help the impoverished live a fraction better than before by giving medical supply, food supply and the Red cross access to the millions that live out of reach.

Or how about the fact that just last month Uganda took on a $320 million loan for much-needed health, water and sanitation initiatives? Clean water and plumbing that might, yes might, stop the spread of disease that kills thousands a day.

Closer to home and just two months ago, Colorado officials announced 267 government jobs would be cut because of a $320 million shortfall in the state budget. In the face of safe roads, clean drinking water and hundreds of families affected by unemployment, $320 million for a pair of baseball teams seems excessive, no?

In this country our First Nations people struggle with poverty and depend on handouts from the Government in many cases. Not that they are the only poor by any means, but rare is the day that goes by where I read in our National paper about another death on a reserve in the northern climes due to the links of poverty.

As the H1N1 flu makes news and noise, the vaccine to stop the spread, and God willing the deaths hits roadblocks because of lack of funds.

No roadblocks with the Yankees and Phillie's!

Spend like the world needs more rich athletes.

Spend like the poor will feed on watching these men.

Spend like roads and water are just silly and baseball will cure any disease, or build any road, or find clean water for those in need.

When does it end?

What would you spend $300 million on?



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Be Careful What You Tell!

Despite all of my life's grand scale of adversities and a few afflictions that saw me on pinned on God's mat in 2007, I have always maintained an overly at times, optimistic outlook.

Last week I had close to $500 fraudulently taken out of my bank account by a sophisticated scam. I noticed it hours just after it happened and called the bank to get answers. After no explanations, I drove to the branch and signed some papers to declare that it was not me or anyone I knew that removed funds. The money had been taken out via a telephone bank transfer, and I was told days latter that this is not new, nor is it uncommon.
It seems that many of us that embrace the social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Plaxo, Linkedin, and in some cases those of us who share stories of the personal nature on blogs, are giving out enough clues for sophisticated cyber criminals to figure out important pieces of information to claim to be "us".

We leave trails every day, and I always thought that those "things" only happen in movies and to those "other" people that don't practice safe banking habits etc.
Not so.
I do bank on-line and purchase the odd ticket on line. This is not how my fraud was perpetrated. I had criminals that somehow got enough information to go on to the automated telephone banking service and transfer just under $500 to someplace that I have yet to figure out or be told.

Think about it: How many times do we drop information about us in our day to day stuff?
To get passwords at times, many organizations ask us the secret question that only we would know: "What is your Mothers maiden name?"
Now think about how easy that is to find out in one of the many places where we chat/frequent/visit/leave messages etc.

Anyway, the bank is making good, and I am a little more careful things I write in the places I go.
The first question that the security folks from the bank asked me is if I post on facebook.

Makes ya think what you write about, and who is reading it. I naively believed that unless you were my "friend" there was nothing you could see about me. Man is that wrong I am told.
Anyway, a new experience that gives me yet another look at a changing world.

I heard a story about a couple that were excited about a weekend away in celebration of an anniversary. Like we all do they posted their "status" on Facebook to let the world know their excitement.
"Bob and I are excited to be leaving this morning for Niagara on the lake for the weekend"
They came home on the Sunday night to find their house emptied of all the electronics.

A business colleague of mine was going away on a week long get a way with his wife a few years ago. They ordered some furniture from a national chain.
The trucking company that delivers for the chain phoned to advise them that their sofa was to be delivered in a few days.
My colleague's wife pipes up, "But we are going to Barbados for two weeks and will not be back until..."
Arrived home to an empty house.
Neighbours thought they were moving!

For every security option their is a better scam.
For every mousetrap there is smarter mouse.

As I started to write in this post, I am still optimistic that the world is OK.
I like this place and find a lot more good people than not so good.
I am not naieve, I just hold out hope that the human spirit is wonderful, and I know that there will always be that element of evil and bad that takes from us. Robs us of our possessions for the sake of a lazy way of getting ahead or just surviving.

I just have to be more careful.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Closed Captioning Still In The Dark Ages!

Why is Closed Captioning so difficult to do on television.
Or is it?

Watch any show on any night and the "CC" goes from the ridiculous to the hilarious. Spelling is atrocious and following the actors timing of speech is never even close.
When you think about it, they know the script on any tapped show, so how hard can it be for the networks to just type the copy in and time it to the scene?
Good God man, we can do so much in animation, special effects, sound effects, but give the networks the task of attaching copy to the visual, it just blows the mind what they do with it.

There are conservatively 30 million D/deaf or Hard of hearing in the United States, and 3 Million of us in Canada that fall into that category. I, like many of my cochlear wearing implanted mates, struggle with sound out of a man made speaker. My brain seems to translate better from lips to processor.

To many of you reading this, you may have never had occasion to care about the world of "CC". Perhaps you saw it once at the doctors office or in the gym where they use closed captioning so the sound need not be put on, and you possible never gave it a thought.
But in my world, and my fellow d/Deaf friends, implanted with a CI or not, the closed captioning is how we get the rest of the story.

There is no rhyme or reason to the madness of how the "cc' consistently fails. Re runs on the Fox network seem to be the worst for some bizarre reason. If I watch the new episode of the same show latter that night, they get it close to bang on. The script follows the lips more or less. Occasionally the speech is too fast, and the script falls behind, but for the most part it seems to work in "new" episodes.
The same station, latter or earlier, broadcasting a 4 or 5 year old rerun of the same comedy show, is so far off the mark, I have to turn off and walk away.
What is the reason for this?

I have emailed at least one broadcaster asking them if they have any idea of how "off" the mark they are on "CC".
No response.
Don't care, don't matter to hearing executives. Besides, how big a market can the deaf world be?

We are a friggin huge market good network and television executives.

Sit up, take note, and pay attention.



Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting Out Of My Car, And Getting More Than I Paid For!

I hate the drive thru!
No, hate is a word I hate.
I dislike and question the drive thru.

I love my occasional "Four Bucks" and the odd "Double/double" at the local "Timmy's" But why on God's Brown and grey (used to be green but the drive thru is changing the colour) earth, do we have to line up like lemmings in our automobiles, whilst spewing out the toxic fumes like we were doing the world a favor by not getting out of our cars and walking in to spend our hard earned four bucks on a cup of hot foam?

I am challenged in the respect that speakers in these systems sound foreign in language to this cochlear challenged guy, and on occasion when the wind and rain team up with the "no parking" in the lot, I have done the deed, and driven to the oh so friendly speaker and heard:
"Mey si make your odour plans?"
"Yes, triple grande latte, one raw sugar"
"wood you lake anybing self wid dat?"
"No that's all
"that bums do spew dolls hairs and iffy spine lents. Please live to the sepent widow"

I know what the drill is, and I also know that they probably asked me a few other things to keep their shift supervisor happy. Perhaps wondering if I wanted to spend a few more shekels on a lovely biscotti. But I know what biscotti means: "Twice baked" So twice the price.
Look it up!
So we are lazy at best, because if we were in a "hurry" we would park and run in and grab and go. This of course all falls apart because the owners of these establishments put the "A" team, and plenty of them on drive thru detail, and then challenge them with timers and the history of each hour.

A photocopy that I saw in a "Red Robbin" in Thunder Bay last week
"October 3rd 2006 was our best shift ever! 284 vehicles served in the 7 to 9 am time, with an average serve time of 29 seconds per transaction. Can we beat that today gang?"

Now I park (farthest away) and wander in to the shop for many reasons:
  1. I like to walk. I spent 100 days in a hospital bed, another 30 with a walker and/or wheel chair, then the next 90 with a cane. This from a guy who ran two half marathons in 2004 and 2006, then had a medical 9/11 in 2007.
  2. Fresh air in me lungs feels good, and I take it whenever I can.
  3. The sound quality on a speaker is built for the 90% percent of the population who hear quite fine thank you very much. The 3 million Canadians, and thirty odd million Americans who are deaf or Deaf have no use for drive thru's! I am deaf.
  4. I am also cheap. Burning fuel at $1 a liter of Alberta tea, sucks quite frankly. While one sits in a line to spend $4 on a "FourBucks" I know, I know why the contradiction. Well I treat myself and indulge in an overpriced but lovely foamy frothy drink.
  5. I like people: I am in a space at this point in my life where I like to see face, see a smile, make a smile, tell the person to enjoy the day, eat it up, live it to it's fullest. I like to effect the day!
  6. Exercise is good! I park as far away as I can to get the tiny extra benefit that a brisk walk offers.
  7. For almost 10 months before being implanted with my Cochlear Implant, I lived in complete and profound silence. What I missed the most was one-on-one human conversation. In my hearing days prior to deafness, I took sound and conversation for granted. I traveled life at the speed of life. I never want to take the wonderful world of one-on-one human interaction for granted again!

My beef is that I stand in a small line while ONE nice lady tends to us, while a team of nine young fast bucks try to smash the old drive thru record of 18 seconds per vehicle. God forbid if I order a toasted bagel, the young brash 17 year old will break my servers elderly bones if she attempts to put a bagel in ahead of the 287 cars that NEED to get in and get out!

So what happened?

Why did life get so busy and so important that we can't leave our cars and enjoy the day, say hello to a live face, interact with others in line and live a life that is in real time?
We claim to be good denizens and caretakers of the planet. Just see how much we recycle.
But we can't leave our cars to do us good, other good, and leave a little smaller footprint?
Interact and leave a smile or get a smile?


I can.

There is the odd but occasional gloomy start to the day that began with life's usual fast and furious morning rituals, but has chaos and mayhem thrown at us.
Can't find wallet, realize shirt has stain on it, running ten minutes late due to looking for Guitar Boys permission slip to sign for school, no stamps in house to mail overdue payments...you get the picture.
It is no mistake that on these occasions that I feel the need for two things: More caffeine and a warm human smile that is genuine, sincere, and from the heart.
I get this fix from a few places where kind warm souls offer both, and I get the odd wonderful conversation in the line with other good souls who think a bit like me.

You can't get the second part of my equation from a speaker, and a face at the window that is more concerned with speed and serving the person they are talking to through their mic system, then paying heed to my concerns or the day I may or may not have.
The smile and "have a wonderful day" I get live and in person from a "counter" person (and yes they are human and have life"s, and I ask them about their life's if I get the chance. The response to my sincere inquiry is amazingly wonderful) seems to be indeed sincere and well intended, lift my gloom for hours and hours. Where as a drive thru can dampen and frustrate and do more harm to all creatures great and small that no amount of caffeine can ever repair.

I am not naive to believe that the drive thru's will ever be gone, but I am hopeful enough that there are many of us that might do the park and walk thing once a month, and graduate to once a week.
After changing (I love that word change!) some habits a bit and realizing that the smiles and human interactions make a difference. And the planet and our physical selves can get better, step by baby step; perhaps one day many of us may do what I do: Park and walk most days, and occasionally (sheets of freezing rain coming down on my Fourbucks parking lot) do the drive through.

Can we move the world a millimeter to the good by picking one day a month, and get out of our cars?



"We can do no great things, only small things with great love". - Mother Teresa

Here we are again! Back at the place that was warm and cozy for a year, but got neglected when life roared back at the speed of life.

The place that gave me solace and comfort in creating words; the blogs that I read in my deafness, wrote in my recovery, and laughed at when I needed to smile and make the world smile.

My history at the blog writing began in January of 2008 and in my utter and profound complete deafness, I wrote "Life in a cone of silence" diligently and daily for the better part of a year. If I missed a day, I got anxious and bothered.
When sound, or semblance of sound returned in May of 2008, I no longer resided in that funny, funny place called the "Cone", but in a digital funny, funny sounding world that gave me music sans one string on the guitar. Thus, "Five String" started a journey of self discovery and healing as I climbed out of my medical soup as it were.

In 2009 life "changed" more radically and quickly than I ever imagined it, so acceptance of change was key in keeping on my path that was filled with new love, new enlightenment and as always;,more change.

Looking back is difficult as it is "in the books", but I do recall having a dream and a desire to enact change with my writing.
I started "Five String" with a hope and a dream that I could maybe change peoples perception just a millimeter. Just enough to make a difference.
One year ago the world was going to hell in a stock brokers hand basket and the world was getting ugly. If the news were a weather report, every day read the same: "Black clouds, heavy wind and rain, Tornado warning"

As the the world hunkered down and battened down the hatches, a new President in the United States was sworn in, and the word "change" was used in sentences with the word "hope". It made me feel good indeed.

My world was changing daily as it always has and always will, but by accepting the change in my new outlook and philosophy, I had a relaxed almost confident outlook on the future.
I got away from putting fingers to qwerty and I miss that. I used to write for me at first. I wrote to keep my deaf melon in the game.

Then I wrote because I was angry that we live in a world where thirty million people live in slavery, a world where children in abject poverty make toys for rich children, where according to netaid, over one billion people, or one in six, live in poverty while two-thirds of Americans fight obesity. 180,000,000 Americans are over weight, and one billion other denizens of this good planet can't string together more than one decent meal a week!
but hey, distance negates responsibility right?

So I got busy, and life at the speed of light saw wonderful love enter this CI-Borgs life, and give me a wonderful euphoria that can only be experienced, not described.
Love at the right time heals and works magic.

Still does.

Every day.

But I still need to write, need to move the few dozen readers here another millimeter if I can. Need to reach out and help the deaf that look to us writers on various places like "Deaf Village", "Hearing Journey" "Deaf Read" and other wonderful forums that so graciously published my deaf ramblings and funny stories that saw a then 49 year old loose the world of sound, but think he could still survive a Wal Mart superstore by himself. It was funny to read, and hilariously therapeutically healing to write.

I wander my small piece of the planet with a skip in my unbalanced step, and love in my life, smiling at any and all who look at my magnet adorning head. I say hello to any that will listen, and I listen intently and earnestly, as sound, although in a new digital format, is the music of my soul.
I challenge myself daily to step out of my comfort zone and attack with zeal and vigor the challenges of doing what it takes to effect the quality of the day in a positive way.
I take ASL classes with Mary, the love of my life, every week, in the hope that I can use it one day to help where I can.

I love this place.
I love the people.

I miss writing.

I want to leave a tiny piece of this old dogs mind on whoever graces my pages one day.
So I am back!

"I feel the vacuum, the loneliness, the silence, the dehydration of the soul as people who want desperately to save our constitution, country and planet still wander the streets without knowing how to say hi to one another" - Sam Smith



Sunday, August 30, 2009

Touching and Hearing Home

I have to keep in check my overwhelming desire to right the wrongs. I have grown miles in my deafness and illness that of September 2007, and I changed, the problem I have is that the world around me kept basically the same ideas, and ideals.

It is coming up on my two year anniversary of my medical nightmare that cost me my hearing, my balance, and my old carefree world that knew no boundaries. All of that changed on September 9th 2007, when I ended up on life support, and parked in a coma until they could figure out what was going on.

The above two paragraphs are connected by the simple fact that I had a reprieve of sorts that led me on a path or journey if you will, to discover how amazing life can be. It also opened my eyes to the fallacious and misguided place this planet can be, when people put their deceptive and deceiving minds to it.

I saw in my total and complete deafness a different world than I saw in my old world.

Old David ran hard and fast, lived carefree and at times carelessly.
But by doing so I missed the concerto that life played out for me.
To be sure, it was playing in all of its glory, but I had blinders on eyes and ears, and dug cleats into the playing field so I would not miss any balls that came my way.
Problem was, I missed a whole lot of life and ended up 90 days in a hospital bed. Deaf as a stump, and walking only with aids of walkers and canes. Tough stuff for a guy who had yet to turn 50!

In my gratitude for not dying, I wanted to give back to the world "something".
Not sure what, but I felt like the world was new, and my gratitude overwhelmed me.

That feeling started to slide away and did not last, as after a year of "hearing" through the technological wonder of a cochlear implant, I felt myself slipping at times back into my old ways. Going back to the person that ignored life's concerto and ran full steam ahead into the wake that I wanted to, and managed to avoid in my new world.

I have to be conscious of the fact that I was given a reprieve two years ago.
For the first twenty five years in my professional career, I missed so much of life trying to make money for the company, attempting to fatten my personal inventory of "stuff" and make me better by doing what I know now is all the wrong things; trying to make things "perfect" for the family by purchasing stuff that I thought would make life better, trying to make an impression for the good opinion of "others", who I now know did not give a rodents rectum about me, and there I was trying to give the illusion of a "perfect" life.


So today as I go back to my new feeling of gratitude and my overwhelming desire to right the wrongs, I realize that the world is full of speed bumps that I can never rid, and I need to be grateful for this place. Warts and all!
Perhaps by just being here and taking note of the bumps and warts and being a friend when I can, a mentor when asked, a Dad when needed, and a good denizen of the planet always, is all that is required.

As I read once, it is sad and perverse in the fact that we only notice we are alive, when we are reminded of the fact that we are dying. Or in my case, I was literally dying. On life support and give the proverbial "24 hours".

The Grace I was given was a gift that I cherish to be sure, but I have to remind myself when I see the little and silly crap around me and in life, that the bigger context is what's important.

It is an amazing place, and I want to enjoy it. I have a new life now and very different from my old life.
I have new love that is exciting and generous in it's gift.
I have a new way of hearing that is a grace I sometimes take for granted and get depressed at the fact that it is not the same.
I should be so grateful for the technology that gives me sound.

Two days ago I was at a company baseball game and was asked to play. It is the first time in over two years that I put on the mit and swung the bat.
The first 100 minutes of the 120 minute game sucked big!
I have no balance and walking is a confidence game that I struggle with. Playing center field scared the crap out of this wobbly walker, and every ball (sadly many are hit there) that came my way, I closed my eyes and cursed the date of September 9, 2007 when I lost it all.
The two hour game seemed to drag on in my misery and pity party.

Then I had the Epiphany in the field that brought me back to my old euphoric state that my reprieve brought me almost two years ago.
I was alive, and playing baseball!
I was alive and playing baseball!
I was on my feet alive, and playing baseball!
I was alive on my feet playing baseball and hearing all the sounds!
I was alive on my feet playing baseball and hearing all of the glorious sounds, squeals, laughter, claps, cheers.
I was hearing life's beautiful concerto in all of it's glory.

I took my last at bat at got a single. My teammates hit me along to third base.
I scampered home on my co-workers RBI single.

As I touched home plate I looked up and gave a big smile to the big guy!
I heard the cheers and heard and felt the rubber of touching home.

Heard and Felt!

Who would of thunked that I would have heard and felt anything ever again? Especially if you saw me deaf and in a wheel chair 700 days ago!

What a great place to hang around for a while!



Friday, August 28, 2009

Tweeting Is Not Writing.

The world of Blogging, and the art of posting is going the way of the diary and the personal journal.
Micro blogging and "tweets" are now part and parcel of the art of the personal story.
The blog is a place where we write to share, get feedback where possible, and tell a story to the world.
And it literally is the world, as the internet has connected us to lands once foreign and not visited by us in person, but now the good people of Spain, Cuba, China, New Zealand among just a few, daily drop in to read our ramblings.

Twitter took the art of the story, and told us it was too long! There were many who did not want the 1000 word story. Just a simple "tweet" updating us on what television show we were watching, and what fruit we ate from the market.
Dumb it down and tweet it out.

"Brenda is out of bed and making lunches"
or "Ken feels 100 years old today"
or "Bucky had a steaming triple latte from "Fourbucks" a few minutes ago".
Was this what we wanted, or were we told that this is what the world wanted from us?

Are we lazy at reading or writing?
Just asking.

And I ask not to be a smart ass in the pejorative sense. I ask because I honestly want to know, from you dear readers: Is this is what we really only want to know?

I want to be connected to friends or even people that I have known through their writings, but never had the amazing good fortune of sitting down and breaking bread in person with.
After reading your posts for the past 2 years I feel like I know you. Should I feel silly reading a eight word experience with a egg sandwich?

("Craig just had the best egg sandwich ever!")

Actual tweet, I just changed the name to protect the name of the sandwich!

I dunno, I guess I am disappointed at the brevity of life and the recording of thoughts. Facebook started a whole journey of life "tweets" if you will, that took us into the lives of our social network.
Just today I read some "posts" on Facebook from my friends. I like these people and accepted their invitation to be their "friend" on Facebook, (this task in itself always makes me smile. "Will you be my friend"? I want to send message back: "I am your friend, or I thought I was") but I really don't care if they are "tired and going to bed" nightly. Well that is not entirely correct as I do care. I just always assumed that we get tired and we go to bed nightly. Posting it for their friends edification seem silly in my books.

Blogs are different in some respects, and can be challenging, enlightening, spiritually uplifting, and a damn good read!
Twitter took the blog and made it into the Readers Digest condensed version. Funny, because Readers Digest just filed for bankruptcy.

Now IBM has patented a device for our television remotes that will allow us to tweet a message out while we watch TV. Not only will is it a dedicated "Twitter" device, but it will have "canned" messages on the remote that will tweet a standard message.
"I am watching....(name of program will appear)" Too lazy to tweet or tap out a text? Just hit the #7 key and a pre-existing tag will tweet out your micro blog and tell your network of just as lazy friends that you are watching the latest episode of house, and you are luvin it!

I write for me.
I write because I love the art of words; the language.
I know that social networking is here and big, and I won't change that, nor do I wish to. I am on Facebook, and love to be kept in the loops of my friends lives.

I just don't need to know the minute and mundane details of their television lives.

I love the art of the story, and hope it never dies! I will always read your full account of lives journey with all the warts and speed bumps. I will laugh with you and cry with you, and savor the scents of the day with you as you describe in wonderful wordy detail the beauty of life!



Saturday, August 22, 2009

And In The End The Love You Take Is Equal to the Love You Make

Forty years ago this week, the Beatles released their final album. With little argument they were the worlds greatest band at the time, and arguably still are. They never recorded after the final album was released.

The song "The end" was the last song on their last album.

The last line of the last song is one that stayed with me for forty years, and became a philosophy of sorts; almost a creed to live by.

"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make".

Simple philosophy, really, but for many of this planets denizens, we live by greed and take. The world full of Ponzi schemes, selfish motives to look after only ourselves at times, and a philosophy of who ever takes the most, will have the most; gives our wonderful world pot holes!

I first heard the song which is appropriately called "The End", when I was 12, and thought that it made sense then. Even as a young boy the idea of giving to get things was part and parcel of my life. If I loved my dog, then he loved me back. if I helped my friend carry groceries, he would help me down the road. If I respected and loved my Parents, it made for a happy day.
Pretty simple.
Quid pro quo.
You get what you give.

I lived my live always giving selflessly. Rarely were there or are there motives to my selflessness. I have always lived with the ideal that love is right.
It takes work to hate, and it accomplishes nothing other than dredge up a pile of vile to sit in our bellies and fester. Loving is easy, or it should be. Not exactly an Ivory tower philosophy, but a simple one.

If a relationship requires constant work, and self help books, then I believe it needs to be re thought.
Love is simple. Or in my world it is.

If we go through life only caring about "US", this would be a pretty nasty world. Thankfully there are good and charitable people that go through life helping others. Giving a leg up to those who need, and a drink of water in the desert of greed. For every rogue trader that scams the good people out of their hard earned dollars, there are ten people that donate time to help. Give to those who need. Donate excess of goods or money to the charities that use the clothing, bedding, dishes, food, or money; to assist those down on their luck.

There are churches and missionaries that spend hours and dollars travelling the globe loving in all the corners.
God Bless them!

I like simple, and I believe that life and love can be simple.
If you give love, you get love.
Because in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make,

Along the way



Sunday, August 9, 2009

Deaf Swimming

Our last day at the Catalonia Bavaro Beach begins the same as the previous days:
I wake at 6 and fear a day of rain as it appears dark. But as I have now learned from the past week here; the sun rises much later than it does at home.The sun seems shy and perhaps a bit bashful at first. It fools us tourists with it's early morning feeble and almost anemic like power, that in hours will heat the sand of the beach and render it too hot to walk on.

By 7, coffee is made and drank in our resort condo. Mary and I have, for the past week, have enjoyed the eye opening brew our balcony. Our condo number is 19. 19 of 22 on our road or path. we are 3 away from the ocean and a brief 1 minute walk to the beach that we do daily first thing to secure prime real estate for the six or seven hours that we will spend each day.

The ideal location/location/location is a spot that offers a palm tree. Not too tall as to not offer shade, and not too short as to whack ones melon on each hammock exit! (Done that!) The prime spot must be close enough to waters edge so view is relatively unobstructed, but should also offer a short walk to offer refreshments that provide us with fresh squeezed cold juices in the early day, and scrumptious cold coconut slush iced/laced with dark rum, for afternoon mellowing out.

Once real estate is secured, a short walk for breakfast is next. Ingredients for omelette's are selected today.
In previous mornings, eggs, sunny side side up with sides of fried salami, bacon, or ham were chosen.
Alternate days fresh fruit and French toast is chosen for the break in nights fast. Today, being the last day here, Mary and I opt for the "Full-on/mega loaded" omelet. I add to little remaining space on my plate, a sugar coated donut that moments earlier was plucked out of a hot fryer by one of the many chefs that toil to treat us daily. Still hot to touch and taste, the "oh so bad" donut will be be a wonderful desert to end our last breakfast here on Bavaro Beach.

We will board a bus at 5 this day, to take us to Punta Cana airport. It is 15 minutes away.
I am not sad to be leaving, as sadness is an emotion that I have not felt in some time.
Yes, I would love to stay longer. I so love it here!
I love the ocean, and the peace it seems to bring me.
I love the "Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather", if I may borrow from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty". But my yearning for more time here is based on my current peaceful and contented mind set. All of the writings that you have read from our Dominican stay (assuming you have read the past 4 instalments), has been written in pen, in a journal, on the beach.
Each stroke of pen has been made as I face out on the gentle ripple of a spectacular blue and green Caribbean ocean.

Much of the time, in the past 7 days, my mind has been void of any and all thoughts except the view in front of me. It is at that moment. That sweet spot. or that Buddhist/Zen space of "NOW", that I pick up a pen pen at write.
And that moment is analogous, to opening a vein if you will.
Word and thoughts spill like blood once that mindset is achieved.

To really get into "ones head", one really has to get into "ones head".
So you see, today (last day here), my premature melancholy is not for the the sun, rum and sand, although they all will be missed. My despondent state is based on the mindset that I have recently achieved, and the worry that it will go away.
That place where I wanted to get to and succeeded!
My goal will be to maintain this place as best I can. To stay in this zone, or as close to it, upon return to the rodent race.

I have thought much about, but concerned little for little for Dan (Guitar Boy) while here.
He is in week 2 of "School of Rock" This has been his annual Summer day excursion, every July, for the past 4 years. He will be in his rock n' roll element, as well as looked after before and after "school" by Mary's adult son, who has moved in for the week to be Dan's "roommate".
I am anxious to see how the boy is, and for him to regale stories about making music. He is the love of my life, and I miss him. I can't wait to hug him!

This trip was many firsts in my deaf life that now approaches 23 months in length, and fourteen months in the digital sounding world of my implanted cochlear device.
Deaf swimming was a first that is most memorable.

On day one (July 26th) I sat on oceans beach with shirt off, but magnet of cochlear processor clearly strapped on. I took in all the sounds of laughter which despite the diversity of nations here in this resort, is the same wonderful sound in any language. After three or four hours of unrelenting sun, I tucked away my processor (those very expensive suckers cannot get wet!) and walked down the beach that moments earlier were filled with noise, but without my CI on falls into an eerie silence.

I can see the same children running and laughing, and I watch the same adults chatting and playing beach volleyball, but my soundtrack is gone! I am once again Deaf as the coconut shells that lie on the beach.
Deaf as the wheel of cheese that I see nightly at the buffet.
I instantly go back to the ever popular brain created auditory hallucinations of "Dave FM"

When I walk into the ocean, I notice that my balance (which has no inner workings) becomes more challenged. With no inner balance I have trained my brain to accept vision and the touch and feel of my body, its only GPS.
So when ocean floor enters the equation, David's brain gets pissed off, and makes me fall many times. For the most part it goes unnoticed, but some afternoons the barkeep looks a worrisome that his "Coco Loco's" have made this patron "Poco Loco"!

When I dive underwater I expect the same sounds from memory of underwater play over my life. The sounds that I heard when I was a child, exploring the underwater . That eerie underwater noise or sound. (Or is it a lack of sound?).
But in my deafness the underwater world does not differ an iota from the world above oceans surface.

The ocean is clear, and the schools of fish are constantly visible and plentiful. For the most part, the bottom is sand, but there are areas of rocks that can be seen and noted.
Mary and I walk out one day a good 1/2 a kilometer, exchanging soft sand for underwater plant growth under foot, but it is an amazing walk out into the ocean!

In the water I am a carefree nine year old again, when the days seemed to last forever at the beach, and summers lasted for eternity.
So today feels like labour day. That feeling that a young boys stomach gets, on the last day of summer vacation.
It will hit me again when I board the airplane tonight; and again when we land; and no doubt when I wake up tomorrow at home.

It will really hit home when I realize that the only man who will fix me an omelet....




Friday, August 7, 2009

Hitting The "Sweet Spot"

It is jut after 8 am on the Friday of our Dominican vacation, and the white pristine beach and it's Coconut palm tree citizens is waking up.
The sun is low, but rises so quick that I imagine it on a string that is pulled like a window shade or a curtain, rising to give us yet another magnificent day.
The ocean seems so calm this morning. Even the never ending and never changing wave breaks that happen about 1/2 a kilometer out from shore, seem tiny today, and I strain to recognize the spot that has been so familiar to me the past 5 days.

I think that perhaps the ocean is an extension of me this week. Choppy on day one, and a bit rough, but becoming increasingly calmer as the week progresses.
Today is the calmest.
As am I.
Mary, my soul mate is also in a Zen like state, and I have never seen her so at peace.

Yesterday I hit hit the proverbial vacation "sweet spot". That zone that many of us set out to achieve during our vacations in life. That place where relaxation pours over us, and paints our bodies with a glow of calm. The pinks and browns from the suns rays are just part of the special effects. It is the aura of calm that is the real magic.
There is a calmness in that "sweet spot" that whispers "maƱana" in an oh so quiet voice whenever I attempt anything that resembles labour or stressful activity. Nothing seems to matter except the air that I now feel traveling all the way to my belly as I breathe the calm ocean air.

In typical annoyance (although I truly can't see myself ever being annoyed again in life) it takes Thursday of my vacation to shed the mental images of excel spread sheets, unpaid electrical bills at home, emails that I envision racking up on my Blackberry and waiting in a cyber space cue for my downloading pleasure.

In this vacation and mental "sweet spot" that has arrived, I have stopped the anguish and feelings of guilt and remorse that were part of past life. I stopped the lying in bed and going over the "could of" and "should of" that I have been doing for the better part of my 51 years on this earth.
I did it!

I stopped the shit that I have been trying to put an end to! In the past two years I have come close to reaching that spot. That place. And my Buddhist readings and teachings have brought me oh so close. Teaching me that change happens is another way of saying "shit happens", and it brought me to a place where I "hit" this week, that subtly said to me that I should never have any regrets, no more remorse, no bitterness, no hard feelings, no guilt.....over anything in my life.

By midday Thursday, the gentle and ever present ocean breeze had kept and swept all the remaining crap away. Those old feelings were blown away by a proverbial and literal wind. I can't imagine a therapist couch that would provide me with that "sweet spot" that came over me on an island in the Caribbean ocean.

My mind was mind is now where I wanted it to be when I started this journey; this wonderful vacation: At peace with the past, content with the present, and uncertain but not worried or fraught with doubt about the future.

The sun will rise tomorrow, that I know for sure.
But if it is behind a mask of dark clouds, or an orange naked ball of magnificent glory it matters not.
That we know for sure!
It will still rise.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deaf Aerobics And Other Firsts!

The continuing journal of my seven day holiday and journey.

It is now day five in our vacation. For me it has become what I had hoped: A seven day discovery of David. The thought patterns and process of self diagnosis are neither planned nor thought out in advance. They occur at random.
For seven days I will be out of the home and work environment. I am four and a half hours by plane removed from my home and native land. This in itself helps me look down at where I am at this point in my life.

I can't imagine a time from from memory where I have been more content or at peace with me. To be sure, the Caribbean ocean that lulls me and the waves that dance before me daily have been a catalyst in the gratification I feel. But the peace that resides inside me today, has been manifesting for months. It is good.

In the past 23 months I have weathered great storms, and if I am honest with myself, the last five years have had hurricane and tsunami days. 2004 was the diagnosis of Janet's blood cancer that would take her life 4 1/2 later.

If I am really honest I suppose, I could find great gusts and micro bursts in my 40 odd years of memory, and 51 years in life; but I dealt differently with life in the past. Often I would view change as a tragedy. It took me 51 years to realize that change is part of life.
In previous versions of thought, I viewed "lack of things" as reasons for depression or unhappiness.
"If only I could make $10K more a year, I would be happy and out of this funk" I thought constantly years ago.
Years later when earning a much more substantial income I was now saying "If I could only make another $40K a year more, I would be happy and out of this funk" !!!!!!
We all know the life lesson about money and happiness. I only wish I heeded the advice back then.

So is it then fair that I lost so much (loved ones, hearing) yet found a wonderful peace within?
Not sure.
This I now know: Life changed. Always did and always will.
There were huge changes in my life, many of them physical, and many of them emotional in nature.
Always will be as well.
Babies were born and people in my life died. My father died seven years before my son was born.

I lost hearing and ability to walk for a time, but I gained a love of life and a new found patience that at one time was as foreign to me as natural hearing is to me now.
All storms subside. First into a gust and then into a clam and perhaps without the hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, micro bursts and clouds of impending doom, we might not have any calm, or perhaps we would not recognize the calm for what it is.

The peace I feel here on the last Thursday of July, in the last year of this decade, could only be a result of storms that have subsided in my life. I have new hearing and new love. I walk and fake balance (but my God is the beech here ever throwing my walking for a loop).

I am sitting under a palm tree that thanks to a vigilant resort staff armed with machetes to trim, would drop coconuts on us unsuspecting tourists. If heaven were a traveling summer theater group, it is indeed playing here: on this beech.
Four shows a day!
Evening performances as well!

Life lessons are often learned as if by osmosis, but the lesson never sinks in until we use the absorbed skills in one of our life storms.
I know this now.
Two years ago I would rage against any darkness in my life, choosing to fight or flee a storm that I know now cannot be defeated or retreated from.
I now choose to light candles in the darkness of the storms to guide me through. It is a better place to be.
Perhaps deafness taught me more than my hearing life did.

The sun shows me that it is now noon. It is directly overhead now and without the ever present gentle Caribbean breeze, I would fry like the proverbial egg on the sidewalk in July.
It is the dogs days of summer I suspect, and this morning we saw our first dog in the Dominican Republic. A cute and playful puppy frolicking at oceans edge. It is a reminder of the wonderful pets that have been part of life, and the change that saw them move out of my life.

After lunch I lull into my unplanned but not surprising afternoon siesta. In my REM stage my dreams today are of food. Again, not surprising based on my buffet prowess thus far at the resort. I am startled into an early awaking by Mary. She has jostled me awake because the puppy from this morning has returned and is paying the two of us a visit that breaks both of our siestas into a shortened nap. Dog days!

I made reference to the "many firsts" that this journey would serveup. By day one in my holiday I had my first cochlear implant through the airport security; first flight with my C.I.; first time in the Dominican Republic.
I have been to the Caribbean before. Twenty one years ago I ventured to Cuba. It was in December of 1987.

Single then, and going through through one of those life questioning moments, I spent a week on the island. It was over Christmas, and I remember most vividly pushing a broken down rented Lada automobile through the hillsides outside of Havana, trying to get the car back to the resort where I rented it from. This was how I spent Christmas eve in 1987.

One month prior to that trip, I had been at the funeral of my Father. A man who I had not seen or spoken to in 15 years. So this was Caribbean Island visit and round one. It was one of many "rage against and run from the darkness and storms". It was how I did the "why me" in life's earlier journey.

This trip, Caribbean round 2, is a candle lighting mission of sorts wwhere I dare to ask my self the questions, learn answers through thought provoking and introspective meditation, and discover more love and life again from Mary; my beautiful traveling companion and soul mate.

It is now after 4 in the afternoon here , and we have traded the breeze and blues of the white sand stage named "Bavaro Beach", to kick up the action pool side. The beach lays back and the swaying of the palms lulls it's remaining denizens to sleep after 2 pm. The wave breaks never vary in their location. The playground of the morning is now a nursery for overfed, over sunned adults.

The pool, just meters inland from the ocean and a break of coconut palms is a daytime frat party and aerobics club. Music pumps and thumps from high strung speakers, as Dominican's in hotel attired t shirts and shorts, walk the pool deck, attempting to cajole us lazy folks into joining in the fun. There is now Salsa lessons, and they don't take "NO" for an answer. I eventually get brave and join Mary in the shallow end of the pool for an aerobics workout. I tuck my magnet and processor into a case and head for the water.
Deaf as a coconut shell I wonder how I will keep beat to music I can't and will never hear without the aid of my "gear".
Matters not!
I am here for seven days of life, love laughs and many many firsts.
Deaf aerobics just adds to my list!



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cochlear On The Beach

The hues and shades of blues and greens of the Caribbean ocean defy written and even spoken description. If one was to give their best detailed first hand eye witness of the ocean to a police artist, the resulting painting would at best capture the "water" aspect, but would miss the beauty and spirit of a patchwork array of turquoise, indigo, pale and light blues, dark greens, and even a "Paul Newman eyes" shad of blue that only when when witnessed first hand does one "let go and take in".

To describe in words the ocean in this part of the world is akin to describing love making. Words can convey the idea, but to experience first hand almost defy words. I am in awe yet strangely at peace when I visit the beach and visit the ocean on our first morning. At time of writing this in my journal it is dust after dawn and Mary and I note that the pristine clean sand has been freshly raked, possibly hours earlier. It appears that the resort guests have staked their cabana claims much earlier than our 7 am arrival! Still we manage to snare one of the many umbrella structures crafted out of local hardwoods for base and table and topped with dried palm leafs that will provide a relief from a Caribbean July sun that will show little mercy when high.

It is hard to tell where the sky ends and the ocean begins when I gaze out at the horizon. There is perhaps one or two wisps of white in the Bavaro Beach sky that remind me of a chefs drizzling of melted icing sugar on a startling blue china plate. "This can't be real!" I say to myself It looks like man created the perfect sky. If one was to invent the perfect ocean scene, it would be the one that my my eyes drink in this morning. Breath taking!

By 7:30 am we are seated in the roofed but open air beach side buffet restaurant. Is one of seven dining options that the resort offers. There are also five bars that offer every cocktail and concoction under this sun. I do a quick and simple math and decide that we will not eat or drink at the same establishment twice. (This will prove to not be the case as we settled into creatures of habit and discover or favorite nosh spots)
The coffee is strong, dark and heavy. The brew is served in a 50/50 mix with hot milk making up the second half of the mix. It is the Dominican version of a "Four Bucks" latte I suspect.

As creatures of habit Mary and I find "our" beach real estate, that at the time of this writing has been under the same coconut tree shaded beach spot that has offered this white "Mungie Cake" some protection from the sun that will make my skin a "Canadian Lobster red" after day one. Our real estate will give give Mary some lightly filtered rays to make her already Berry Brown skin even darker.

As I lay here in our 4 x 4 golden sand carpeted environment, the unobstructed ocean view plays out a variety of peaceful scenes. The soundtrack is the ever pleasant breeze that is welcome as it offers relief of noon heat, but also a cochlear nuisance for my t mic on the processor. The "wind concerto" will play for the seven days that I spend here ocean side, but the beauty of the view and sun will bar outweigh the obstructed hearing.

Waves break at what appears to be half a kilometer from shore. Kayak's paddle day long and the occasional power boat filled to capacity with wanna be and perhaps some veteran divers chug by. I assume that the newbie divers all took the obligatory twenty minute course, then loaded tanks and masks on aluminium 20 foot floating dive school, and head off Bavaro Beach in search of exotic chorals, colourful fish, and dreams of a buried Caribbean Pirate treasure.
Ahhh ! There might be a Disney movie in the works!.
Catamarans and two man sail boats tack with same breeze that blows our palm tree ever so gently and wonderfully!

The ocean and Caribbean sky make one wonder why the word "Blue" is used in describing a lost love, or a melancholy moment. As I write this it is now mid week, and is somewhere between noon and five. I wear no watch so I guess. We keep a small clock in our beach back pack, but at this point that would require effort!
for some odd, yet fascinating to be sure reason, the moon is visible on this afternoon. A soft lovely white half moon is out in the mid afternoon sky, as the sun retreats into the west as I lay in my ocean facing fancy beach hammock. I guess at 2 pm by the suns position, as the still hot and lazy afternoon drifts almost sleep like. It is as if the day is having a late afternoon siesta.

My cochlear still gets the breeze concerto at steady and non interrupted volume, but the roar and din that morning featured and starred packs of families and couples frolicking in the ocean, has been lulled to the sound of a quiet and softly rustling of the ocean palm trees.
Big buffet lunches accompanied by wines, ales, and rum laced frozen special beach drinks are cause for a quiet exodus of the crowds to their air conditioned rooms. It is now the daily siesta retreat of the resorts denizens.
Mary and I partake in the ritual, but we prefer the snooze on our beach chairs. It is not so much a scheduled event, it just happens. Daily. Just after 2.
We both eat lovely and well at around 12:30. Over the lunch hour we pursue and graze the buffet, some days filling up on salads laden with marinated squid and octopus, other days a meat lovers delight with veal grilled to our order, beef off the hip, or pig ribs that were done in a wonderful BBQ sauce today.
There are days of full desert consumptions that bring a temporary quilt, that goes away after first bite. Vacations are not so much about moderation as they are about a passion for life.
The food and wine consumed go to work. We make our way back to our reserved beach spot and read our vacation books. I get through about four or five paragraphs, and am in REM zone sixty seconds after that.
I wake briefly to remove the magnet from head, and store the processor in safe harbour. I look over at Mary and she is GONE to sleep land.

More tomorrow or whenever I get motivated to type the rest!



Sunday, August 2, 2009

hola! saludo

Back from a week in the sun and sand. I ate too much, had too much fun, and had more than my share of sun.
I also wrote.
And wrote.
And wrote.
So you good reader, get to share my seven day excursion by way of journal.
I will not do the ungrateful blog faux pas of posting all of my ramblings in one heap of a post. I would much rather spread it out over a week or so, and hope that you get a sense of our journey that lasted seven days.

I hope you take a partial peace and piece of the experience I had, and I hope you enjoy,

The plane lands in Punta Cana International airport, and the first anomaly that strikes is the grass and palm thatched roof on what appears to be a tiny and primitive international terminal. I half expect to see Nick Nolte and Chuck Norris type characters come flying out on the tarmac in military decked out jeeps and duke it out with us with semi-automatic weapons, It is a visual deju vu almost from Hollywood. A movie like "Nicaragua" comes to mind.

It is just past 7:30 on Saturday evening when Mary and I land for my first true vacation in well over 15 years. I am both excited and open minded. Excited about visiting the Dominican Republic for the first time, and open minded about "letting go" and discovering a Zen like inner peace and tranquility that I hope comes from seven days of blue Caribbean ocean that is outlined with near perfect white sand, and boasted with ever ever present coconut palm trees.

As we exit the airplane right out doors to the steamy asphalt tarmac, the tar seems to melt and evaporate in a hot hallucination brought on by the 33 degree Celsius temperatures. The moist hot humid air fills my lungs immediately as if I just took a huge swallow of hot black African Rooibus tea.
The runway is lined with many planes that all sport foreign countries.I am in awe of the multitude of countries that are landed at this port. Holland, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, Japan, Germany, Finland...to name a few. In my naivete I pictured only us sun and beach deprived Canadians such as Mary and I that would come to this Caribbean Island in the heat of July. We would discover that we are just a tiny fraction of the tourist population here.

I am nervous to be sure, when I not two large men that work the "Immigration" checkpoint that I am in line to go through. There are no smiles on their faces and I hear no "Hola!" traditional welcome given to my fellow travellers ahead of me in line as they make their way past the imposing military attired Dominican civil servants. I quickly glance at my paperwork that I hurriedly filled out in the dimly lit terminal. The mostly Spanish required paper work has guessed at for the most part by me. As I approach the checkpoint I wonder if I will be detained for questioning as a result of my laziness and ineptitude.
The uniformed Dominican looks at my passport (although I truly doubt he read any of it or looked at picture for comparison), then took my guessed at answers on my paperwork and placed them in a box where I note thousands of others are lying in disarray. Perhaps destined for a fireplace in the hills.

Welcome to the Island!

This vacation will be a "first" on many levels. For starters in my life before deafness, Janet and I always opted to stay home on vacation and do house projects. In my world of business I travelled Canada extensively and constantly. Living in hotels,waiting for the inevitable flight delays and passing valuable family time in airport terminals that all have the same shops and sterile die cuts It has been two years since I have graced the the at one time very familiar airport security, and today as I flew out of Toronto, I am aware of my deafness more so today than in previous days in the past two years, as I struggle with boarding announcements and general airport information. In my cochlear Implant world the comprehension of electronically and artificially enhanced speech, is less than 10% comprehended.
It's noise!
Going through security I await with trepidation the "beep" of the metal detector that should pick up my surgically implanted tiny computer that lies millimetres just inside my melon. I have my Advanced Bionics card that will explain that I harbour no weapons or small metal projectiles that I might have evil designs or intent.
But no "beep".
I smile relieved, but wonder now about the reliability of our airport security.

Now arrived in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, the bus ride to our resort is a wonderfully short one. Bavaro Beach is a quick 15 minutes in the darkness that surprises me. It is barely past 8 pm, but the sun has been extinguished for almost 15 minutes, It is as if God has wet his thumb and snuffed out the ball of orange flame swiftly and with ease. The darkness snuck on us quickly, and will continue to surprise for the next few days. The darkness that engulfs us on this bus ride is in striking contrast to the sun that I marvelled at forty five minutes earlier.

On the way to Bavaro Beach the road seems narrow, but here are no lights for me to judge. The driver must know the quirks and quarks of the journey well. The large tour bus that takes about 40 or 50 of us to our destination seems so ill fitted for the narrow roads, yet the driver guides it well over the twists and turns. The narrow jungle growth lined paths appear to be almost rainforest like in setting. The driver stops and with patience it seems, waits as native workers on two-wheeled bikes take away the much need room to navigate his big bus through a particularly tight area. He waits for as long as he can, knowing that he has a schedule, but he respects their schedule to get home to their families as well.
He flashes his lights in the darkness to explain that his waiting is done, and the workers dismount and allow the big bus to pass throught the path that might be called a road, in this jungle like landscape.

We arrive at the resort and Mary and I are in awe of the sheer size as well as the majestic architecure. The huge white colums and glistening marble tiles in the entrance lobby are but a small indicator of the elegance and oppulance that will delight our senses over the next seven days.

More to come, and thanks for letting us share!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Act 2: A Love Story

If "Act 1" of my life were to be labeled or defined, some would call parts of the act both tragedy and comedy.

Tragedy in the sense that towards the end of my "Act 1", or in the last two years, I suffered a medical meltdown, on life support, in a coma for ten days, then a period after that night that saw me hospitalized for 100 days, and rehabilitating at home for 15 months.

During that time, and shortly after my medical 9/11, I became totally and profoundly deaf, lost all inner balance that put me in a wheel chair to start, then months and months (still on going) of physical therapy to teach me how to walk with NO BALANCE.

The above would be part comedy, and I saw the humor in life as I stumbled around deaf and awkwardly.

I crawled out of my medical soup and started down a road of recovery. During that part of my "Act 1" I lost my wife of 19 years to a dogged and determined blood cancer called Leukemia.
And oh yea, I lost my dog as well to cancer.

So my life in 2009 was started different, as my son Dan and I set out in the world as best we could. My mindset was good, and as I wrote often here, I was in discovery mode to see the world through a new and fresh perspective.

Then I met Mary!

I have posted about her and described how my new friend Mary graced and changed my life quickly. I first posted back in April this:
"So when someone graced my life a few weeks ago, I did the usual observing, listening, contemplating, deliberating, meditating, and reflective thought. After reasonable time and conversation it became clear that this new soul was a kindred one indeed.

I am pensive and rational by nature, so I was intrigued by my "full speed ahead" quest to spend more time with this wonderful soul as she was so engrossing.

My deafness along with my obvious magnet on my melon, has made me more shy and guarded than the previous analog version of myself. It was with great delight that this lady disarmed my silly perspective of myself, and made me feel "normal". In so much as I hate the word normal, and at times believe I am no different than before, I am also aware that my challenges with cochlear aided hearing do indeed make me different.

I had also forgotten how wonderful it is to share conversation one on one, as I posted a while ago. I get caught up in the wonderful world of sharing, and find myself "hogging" the conversation, as I have been for starved of that for quite some time.

Acceptance of new friendship can be hard. When one is "not looking", "not interviewing" or "not accepting resumes" for the friend position; one is caught of guard a little bit when the universe offers up a wonderful kindred soul to share and laugh with.
To allot and apportion my time with is a treat now as I look forward to the experience and the daily give and take of the conversation that is offered up when two people share common interests and goals.
The give and take of life is worthy of sharing with others. So my enchantment moved quickly to contentment.

Yes it has been a relatively short period of time in our friendship, but we are not 17 any more, and there is no sadness in that simple fact.

Life moves on at the speed of life. Change happens faster than we like, but it changes.
The glee and gratification of sharing the day to day trials and tribulations are lighter from the mirth and pleasure of having someone to chew the words with.
Another wonderful soul to relish the day with.
A kindred spirit to share the hilarity and jollity of life and it's joy.

There are no accidents in the Universe"
End of post.

Since meeting we have spent 134 days in each others company. We have only been apart for 7 days, and that was when Mary and her sister took a vacation together. It was during that week apart that I knew that I had something special in my life. A kindred spirit. A wonderful soul that was quickly becoming my best friend in the universe and the love of my life.

The relationship was amazing from the start, and it was as if we knew each other all our life's.
She made me comfortable in my "magnet on melon" appearance, and found it "silly" that I considered myself "handicapped", when I had hearing and other than a magnet on my head, I was just like anyone else.

We share life together as if we have been together for 134 years, not days. Our experiences, strengths and hopes from and for life are common indeed. I often question why such an amazing lady would want anything to do with a deaf old 51 year old.
Mary is a self proclaimed "Pain in the ass", but she is anything but!

Mary has two adult children so has been more than a tremendous resource in dealing with my 15 year old. Trust me on this, as good as Dan is, he is still a 15 year old boy discovering high school and all of the temptations and peer pressure that go with it.
Mary has "been there, seen that" and is amused most of the time at my naivety in the world of parenting.
I have learned much and continue to do so. Not just about parenting, but life. I have a wonderful teacher in my life now, that shows me not by telling or stating the obvious, but by watching her, and listening to her. I have learned mountains of good life lessons, and daily it astonishes me at how far I have come.

But it is the love that makes "Act 2" so wonderful.
It is indeed an second act in my life, and I am grateful for it. I will never loose nor forget the first act and how it shaped my life.
The wonderful things it brought me.
The beautiful boy that is also a love of my life is a major part of my first act, as is a marriage of 19 years, and a medical firestorm that changed the way I see the world.

But it is a love I have with and for Mary that is new territory and amazingly wonderful. I have never felt this way.

It is not a "puppy dog" love, nor is it the love/lust of two 17 year old's. God knows we are both not 17 anymore, and are clear on how short life is, and where we are in God's calendar.

So for the past 134 days I have felt the love of an amazing woman.
Shared stories, meals, laughs, friends, hurts, cries, hugs, cleaning duties, laundry, bed making, shopping, sunrises and sunsets.
I have met and spent time with her wonderful family, and her with mine.

We are in love!

So we will ride off in a plane to spend 7 days in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, and I am in bliss about having my new best friend by my side 24/7. No interruptions for work!

Life is amazingly wonderful and when I look back on the last two years I do a big "huh?"
How can I be so happy so happy after everything I have been through?

Answer is simple, and she goes by the name Mary.

Life in a Cone of Silence was my first attempt at writing a blog describing the world of deafness and how the world was viewed in silence.
Five String Guitar was a life in a liminal space that wrote about my new way of hearing the world through a cochlear implant, but offered up the limitations of sound. Five out of six strings if you will.

I found my missing string!