Tag Archives: drought

Ear wax

I remember clearly the first time I saw my own ear wax. The first great California drought I experienced was in 1977 and 1978. Like a good citizen I cut down on my showers. One day I noticed that one of my ears was plugged up to the extent that I couldn’t hear at all on that side.

At the doctor’s office, they put some stuff in my ears and had me sit in the waiting room for a while. I remember it as quite a while, perhaps half an hour, after which I was brought back into the examining room. They had me hold up a cup-like thing to my ear and took a thing like a 409 bottle and stuck it in my ear and commenced to squirt.

Shortly they were done and I could hear again! Miraculous!

Then the doctor showed me what was in the cup. Aiee! It was a huge black, greasy-looking cylindrical thing about a half inch long!

‘That came out of my ear?’ I was dumbfounded. I had no idea such things existed. Then they did the other ear and another greasy black thing, not quite so large, came out of that one.

Over the years since, I’ve come to realize that my ears generate wax and must be cleaned out periodically. Recently, I’ve mostly gotten it  done along with my annual physical. I thought I had it done in January but I can’t remember for sure.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I felt that familiar sensation of my ear plugging up. I didn’t want to go to the doctor now just for that so I looked into what was available OTC. Sarah told me about a squirt system she had used that sounded like the one the doctors used so I got one.

Today I got it out and got everything ready. After I had left the drops in for a while, I got Sepi to come over and run the squirt bottle. She was almost to the end of the water when the big plug came out. She was dumbfounded! She had no idea such things existed!

Sepi is very worldly so when I show here something she’s never seen before, it’s worth mentioning. My astonishment from 40+ years ago was somewhat validated.

Now she wants her ears cleaned out!


For many years, I thought that if only everyone in the world could get a hot shower every morning, we would have world peace. For myself, a shower in the morning was a given before just about anything.

Recently, I’ve come to the realization that there might be another way. It started when I was visiting Sarah in Amsterdam in 2013. She had a room in a house and one of the other roomers very graciously found another place to stay for the week or so that I was there. It was winter and, although we rode bikes everywhere, I wasn’t doing much sweating in the cold weather.

Europe, in my experience, is much more attuned to the need to cherish our limited resources. The extensive train system is well known. In Holland, there are many thousands of bikes in use on dedicated bike paths. The houses are smaller in every way, except perhaps the ceilings as the Dutch are tall.

So I didn’t shower every day and I found that I didn’t get all itchy. Or, rather, my skin passed through the itchy stage into a comfortable stasis.

When I got home, it took a while to really learn this lesson. As the drought worsened in California, I eventually remembered my Holland experience and resolved to shower less to save water. I found that showering every other day, or sometimes every third day, was sufficient to keep me clean and not smelly.

I do wash my hands often as that is a disease vector, and I keep my face clean. I have a filter on my shower head that is supposed to be good for 10,000 gallons. The paperwork that comes with it says it should be changed ‘with normal use’ every six months. I did a calculation. If I use 15 gallons of water in a 5 or 6 minute shower, I can shower 667 times before changing the filter. At, say, 200 showers a year, that’s 3 1/2 years of use!