Looking at All These Wires

“I want to give you a sound system. Is it OK if I send it to you?” This was my oldest son, on the telephone. Sound systems are his passion. There was no real question. I was not about to say no.

Now I am looking at the array. There are nine components and about thirty wires of different sizes, colors, and lengths. They are unpacked, neatly lined up on a long table, with the speakers (I know what they are) mounted on their pedestals, and sitting on the floor against the wall.

I sip my coffee and look out the window. The world is white with snow. No way am I going out. No way is anyone coming to visit. This is the day to put this together. I feel no joy at the prospect.

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Flashback: It is 1943. I am married to a physicist with a master’s degree from Cal Tech. I have an AA from Santa Rosa City College. I am well along in my first pregnancy. In those days hospital deliveries included a ten day stay without getting out of bed. I said to Larry, “I want a little radio to take to the hospital with me.” He said, without a smile, “You can only have it if you build it yourself.” So he bought me a Heath Kit, showed me how to solder wires, read the simple schematic, and within a couple of weeks I had a good little radio.

Flashback 2: My youngest son Carl, in helping me with my computer questions, says, “There is nothing difficult about using a computer. Every item is simple and straightforward. It’s just that there are a lot of items.”

Flashback 3: My neighbor Jerry, who fixes problems around my house and yard, says with a laugh and a smile, “These things are not difficult. You just have to keep after them until they work.”

Flashback 4: It is a couple of days before Christmas. Daughter-in-law Sharon has committed herself to make many dozens of cookies, and wants to use, for the first time, her food processor that she has had for six years. The first time she tried it, six years ago, she was so frustrated in trying to put it together, that it went back into the box until now. Now, I sat at the kitchen table, read the instructions to her, one at a time, and she put the machine together, one instruction at a time. After half an hour it was working like a dream.

So here I go, one instruction at a time.

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