Weight Lifting, a Baby Swan, and a Tea Bag Dinner Party

When Ann first told me that her next blog would be about a “tea bag dinner party” I was a bit puzzled.  Would she be serving different kinds of tea?  Would tea bags be used as some sort of clever decorative accent on the table?   When she saw that I was bewildered, she repeated herself.  Turns out that she was thinking about a “FLEAbag dinner!!”  Well, that certainly cleared it up!  You will have to read the blog to see what that is all about.

Pickles Hearing 1

Pickles is often more truth than fiction.  Love that comic strip!

Am I like Earl and just hear just what I want to hear?  Although there is probably some truth to that, I like to think that I hear things creatively.  How boring would it be to hear everything exactly as intended?

sulphite truck

I know that it should be “sulfite” on the truck, but I couldn’t resist posting this photo.


The label says “contains sulfites.”  Were they provided by Chris?

Take for example when I first got to know my cycling buddy Chris.  While on a ride I pulled up beside him and asked what he did before he retired (almost all of my cycling compadres are retired).  He told me that he sold sulfites to wineries.  I thought that was an odd career line, but I knew that wine labels often include sulfites as an ingredient.  I imagined truckloads of sulfites being shipped to our local Sonoma wineries with workers shoveling the white powder into vast wine vats.

It wasn’t until months later that I learned that I had misheard him and he had actually said that he sold software to wineries (to help them manage their production inventory or something to that effect).  So much for my imagined truckloads of sulfites.

deaf sentence

Great read.  Here is a review from the L.A. Times

Teaching in a university provides fertile ground for creative hearing.  In this regard, the novel Deaf Sentence by David Lodge struck a chord with me.   The protagonist, a college professor who is gradually losing his hearing, has all kinds of whacky adventures and at the same time provides a thoughtful analysis of what losing one’s hearing can mean.


One creative hearing episode from when I was still teaching at Sonoma State stands out in my memory .  At the beginning of the semester a female student dropped by my office to see if she could get into one of my classes.  Unfortunately, it was full and I couldn’t admit any more students unless someone dropped.  She told me that she needed the course to fulfill her requirements, was very stressed, and had been weight lifting for two weeks.

My first thought was to wonder what weight lifting had to do with all of this.  Was that her way of relieving stress?  I could imagine her in the university gym therapeutically pumping iron.  It took several minutes into our conversation to realize that she said that she was “wait listing” (which means that she was on the list of students waiting for an opening in the class).  I don’t recall if she ever got admitted to my course, but the image of her lifting weights is still vivid.

Single baby Black Swan walking across a pathway

A more recent example of my creative hearing was just last week when our daughter, Sara, was visiting us in Glen Ellen and had driven to the local Sonoma farmers market with Ann.  When I later met up with them at the market they told me about the heartbreaking scene they witnessed while driving over.

A very frightened baby swan was frantically running down the road with traffic all around, clearly separated from its mom.   I wondered what would a baby swan be doing in Glen Ellen, but recalled a recent bike ride where I did see some swans on the Russian River and was told that yes indeed there were wild swans around.  So my mental image of a baby swan, which obviously had not yet learned to fly,  scurrying through the traffic seemed plausible (also, we do have a creek in Glen Ellen).  It wasn’t until they mentioned that it still had its white spots that it dawned on me they were describing a baby fawn.  I may never hear the end of that one.

Swan Vineyards Russian River

Another “Swan” from the Russian River Valley

Ann has often said that we should keep a log of all of our miscommunications (if only the ones we can laugh at).  At least I think that’s what she told me.  All said and done, maybe the humor of the Brian Crane’s Pickles says it best.

pickles hearing 2





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