Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, December 15, 2017



I don’t like to talk on the telephone. I think it’s genetic. My brother is the same way. We communicate through our wives. They don’t mind talking on the phone. In fact, they seem to enjoy it.

It’s not exactly the talking that bothers me. I do fine if someone calls me, especially a grandchild. It’s the dialing, or punching, or saying the #, or thinking it, that gives me trouble.

I assume that just thinking the number is the next step in wireless technology. In fact, that “thinking” stuff to get it to happen is already here, especially for paralyzed folks. They look at a glass of water, concentrate, say without words, “I want a drink,” and the robot arm brings the glass and its straw to their lips. That is a marvelous thing for them to be able to do.

I’ve done some “thinking” action stuff along the way. When I was a long-distance runner, someone told me that when you get a side stitch, concentrate on it real hard and try to make it as bad as pain as possible and it will go away. Counterintuitive, but it worked every time.

I went for quite a while to Bjorg Holte, a deep-muscle therapist, the Pfrimmer kind, for stuck shoulders, always the problem part of my body [2nd to the brain]. [1] That woman could get her fingers so deep into me that I thought she was coming out the other side! She taught me to move my blood around so that it would heat a body part so it would be more pliable to work on. I got pretty good at it. One day she jumped up and dashed to the sink and ran cold water on her fingers. “You burned me,” she said. I was sorry for Bjorg’s fingers, but I was also rather proud of myself. I had no idea that I had super powers.

However, as I was saying, when I so rudely interrupted myself, my telephone problem is initiating the call. There are a lot of obvious reasons why that might be, but I avoid thinking about the obvious. The problem with being a writer is that you want a reason that is esoteric and different.

My father did not talk on the phone, except in February, when we lived 750 miles north of him. Then he enjoyed calling Helen and telling her about how he had crocuses and daffodils coming up. Then he would laugh and laugh. Helen was always his favorite child, at least from the time I married her, and she was the one who did the most to care for him, by far, but he, too, did not initiate the call. He would wait until Helen called to see how he and Mother were doing, then tease her in his Hoosier farmer way.

So I’m a fan of new technology, if email and texting can be considered new. They keep me from having to “dial” the phone.

 I’m also a fan of old technology, like letters. I have two long-time close friends who have trouble talking on the phone because their brains have been subjected to strokes and now they can’t find words. Neither of them even knows what a computer is. So each week I write to them, say the things I would say if we talked on the phone, except with much better sentence structure and grammar. Whatever words I find, they can read those very well.

So what’s the point of this reflection? I’m not sure. I just like to tell stories. I’m not sure there needs to be a point, but I’m willing to let you find it if there is one. But I will say this: in a world where everybody is in touch with everybody else all the time, it’s good just to step aside once in a while, out of the flow of words.


1] Bjorg came to the US from Norway when she was 20. She was a sculptor, a very good one. But, she said, “I realized I spent all my time by myself, in my studio. I needed something to keep me in touch with people. So I decided to become a sculptor of bodies. I was already a student of anatomy, for the sculpting, so the two go together quite well.”

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