1 March

Off To Get My Head Checked. Birds, And Tulips. Zip Stole My Glasses. I Want To Hear The Donkeys Bray Again. Aging Gracefully.

by Jon Katz

Ever since my concussion, I’ve felt I’m not hearing things that other people are hearing. Every morning, I used to listen to the donkeys braying when we woke up, but lately, Maria hears it, but I don’t. I find myself saying “what?” to Maria and others speaking to me.

I  twinge at this; I remember my grandfather and his ugly, protruding hearing aid. He had trouble hearing anything I said.

At the same time, I refuse to be one of those old men who keeps asking people what they are saying. Maria says she doesn’t mind, but I bet she would in a while. I want to make aging as easy on her as is possible, since she wants to care for me while keeping her work vibrant. I can help with that.

One thing I’ve learned about aging is that getting ahead of being old is better than falling behind.  My medical efforts to stay healthy have been successful so far. I went to see my primary care doctor this morning – Dr. Dodge – and she told me it was wise to see an audio specialist and figure this out. So I am. Hearing loss is very treatable these days.

A few years ago, I would have been ashamed to write on my blog that I might need a hearing aid. Who would want to read the rantings of an old man?

To me, a hearing aid is one of the ultimate symbols of aging. I couldn’t bear to be photographed when I started losing my hair and looking away from the mirror. I’m over that.

I have a better handle on it now. I feel young and full of energy.

I want to hear the donkey’s bray in the morning again; I want to hear Maria speak to me without asking her to shout or repeat herself. My hearing is good, but I want to hear better. They have made amazing progress in making small but potent hearing aids.

I’m looking forward to it facing this and learning about it; it’s another adventure in this phase of life.

I am not ashamed of getting older anymore; I’m ashamed of hiding and lying about it. Some want-to-be troll wrote me the other day to tell me I am a narcissist and can’t handle criticism or disagreement. I had to smile. Trolls are the least of my worries; nobody is more critical of me than I am. I am narcissistic, of course. Anyone who has writtent hree memoirs must be narcissitic. But not as much as the people who think my world spins on their opinions of me.

Aging teaches me what is essential and what isn’t, and peckerheads and nasty people are not worth much of my time.  I’ve never felt happier or less interested in other people’s opinions of me and what I do—freedom at last.

I’m still trying to figure out what to make of all this, but I’m grateful for it. I was tied up all morning; I’m glad to get home, post some photos, and take some. Maria brought me some tulips, and I will have a good time with them.  We have a social weekend ahead of us; we’re going to have dinner at a neighbor’s house, and friends are coming to dinner at our house on Saturday and Sunday. A whole weekend, I’m looking forward to it.

Monday I’m taking a Leica class in using my new lens.

I put my glasses down to take a flower photo, and Zip grabbed them and started running off to the barn with them. I shouted, and he dropped them. I don’t know what to make of this either. Zip, like me, is not like the other children.

Portrait, Zip cleaning himself.

Maria brought me six bright red tulips.

Zip is always right with me when I come outside with a camera. He is a picture hog and is also insanely curious about what I am doing. I’m happy to have him around. He poses naturally.

Maria took this photo of me taking picture of the tulips while Zip looked on.

A lovely big woodpecker hung around the feeder today. I’m taking a Leika Academe class Monday morning to learn how to use my new 100-400 mm nature and bird lens.


  1. These days, hearing aids are not those big bulky devices you remember. My friend’s hearing aids are unseen in his ears and controlled by his iPhone !!

    1. You zyou know what is cool? My hearing aids are bluetooth. I can listen to music, NPR, anything. And no one knows.

  2. My sister has needed hearing aids since age 40, she’s 79…can’t see any of them… & she gets to hear us! Much has improved since our grandparents day.
    Love all the Zip pics, & what a rascal, stealing your glasses 😃

  3. As a lover of birds I’m enjoying your photos immensely. The one of the male red-bellied (You have to look hard to figure out why they have this name) is an excellent one. Thanks for sharing.
    As an “owner” of cats for 35 years I’m enjoying all the Zip photos, too. He is certainly photogenic.

  4. When my partner and I each got hearing aids, our life changed – for the better. It is easier to communicate more intimately. I don’t have to stand in front of him so he can read my lips. I hope the same for you. I know unsolicited advice is not your jam. but let me leave you with this one thought: Costco Hearing Center is the most cost effective option we found, and the service is kind, efficient and educational. Audio tests are free.

    1. Thanks, Val, on this one, I could use advice, and I appreciate it. Thanks..it’s wanted and appreciated..I have a couple of moths to figure this out before getting tested..

  5. Many people who work with cats state that the best way to introduce yourself to a cat is to let them smell the ‘legs’ of your glasses. They smell stronger if you to a cat’s nose than your hands. Often when working to lessen aggression, reaching out with your glasses is effective and keeps you safe from claws and teeth, while letting the cat get a whiff of you. I did not know this myself until I saw some cat behaviorists do it and it looked effective. So… Zip loves your smell!

  6. I was travelling and met an older veteran, he’d just gotten Uber small hearing aids and told me he kept them on his bedside table. His eyesight was faltering also. One morning he woke up thirsty, thought his hearing aids were his vitamins and gulped them down with his bedside water. Think of all the fun you’ll have 😉


  7. If you’re anywhere near a university with a speech and hearing lab, I would highly recommend seeing an audiologist there. In a teaching university, they’re always up on the latest solutions for hearing loss and the most current equipment. Ours, at the U of Connecticut, is amazing and she just helped me to regain hearing in my left ear, lost completely over 12 years ago. I’m sure someone could help you, too.

    1. I have a fine specialist thanks. I’ll do this thoughtfully and carefully. I have plenty of help.

  8. Do not feel self-conscious at all about wearing hearing aids. I got mine at age 55. My family is so glad I did, and I can hear the birds again!

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