Month: May 2012

The dance of ASL


Opera singers prefer the round tones of Italian. Many people consider French the “language of love” and think it sounds sexy.  Many non-signers see American Sign Language (or Signed English, for that matter) as a beautiful dance of body and fingers. These days, it to me is simply communication.  However, I have also started a still photo series on the photoblog on the Art of ASL. It is harder than I thought, because without motion the word is sort of lifeless.

And therein lies the great beauty of ASL.  It lives and breathes for me in a way which no other language does, including my natal language of English. I now pick up the nuances of the individual speakers.  The most skilled terp  I use is also the hardest for me to understand – go figure. My favorite terp is so busy I barely see him once a week.  He’s just the best – he is so expressive!

I requested terps for one of my 12 step meetings and now we’re the first in the state to offer it for Al-Anon.  At first the group simply said, “bring them on” but now people are ecstatic. They want to learn the language.  “I’m so glad you came.”  “It is wonderful having the interpreters here!” ” I wish I knew the language.” To the ones who are serious about learning I said, “Sit next to me, listen to the words and correlate them with the signs.” I have 17 DVDs full of ASL – anyone who wants to learn – I had the technology,

On the one hand I have a group of happy, enlightened people who see terps for the deaf a wonderful thing, a learning experience, something life-enriching. And then I get a call about a Deaf person being attacked on the job for the crime of being deaf. Being Deaf is a state of existence in which you don’t communication with sounds, you communication with expression and motion. It is no reason to attack  a man.  But that is a concern for Friday.  Tonight I am thankful for a terp and a warm group.

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Lipreading Mom

Lipreading Mom’s Note: When I think of an inspiring role model for all of us lipreading moms and dads, I think of Denise Portis. This mom of two not only thrives with a profound hearing loss, but she lives with the balance-affective condition Meniere’s Disease. The first thing I noticed about Denise was her sense of childlike wonder. In many photos, Denise hangs out with a cute canine named Chloe, her lovable hearing service dog. On her blog, Hearing Elmo, the main image is of Denise snuggling with a dozen red Elmo dolls. After receiving a cochlear implant, Elmo’s vibrant, giggling voice was the first sound Denise heard. Denise shares how her hearing loss journey models creativity and compassion to her two children.

Denise Portis’ Story

My children are 11 months apart. I clearly remember my husband turning to me in the family room in 1991, while I rocked…

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When the village dogs know you’re there, go back to base


I’m home today with a miserable cold.  It is rare I ever give in and stop infecting the rest of the world, but today I am shot. Since my voice is still almost shot it is a good day to sit around in PJ’s, read, type, drink lots of liquids and recuperate.

Except… the dog goes absolutely bonkers.  He runs to me and the window, me and the window, and he’s barking like crazy. Of course, I check.  No squirrel in the yard.  “Be quiet, Duke.” He  is still barking his fool head off, in fact, he’s even more agitated and his “yarking” starting to trend deeper. Now his bark is dropping into the “I’m a Bull Mastiff” register. The hair on his neck is raised. let him out on the gated porch and almost lost him over the gate – something unanticipated. Now he’s got hair raised from his neck to his tail. Okay, this is serious. Duke’s is running from side to side,  growling, snapping, deep “roof! roof!” coming out of his 27 pound body.  Yup, he’s officially going into aggression/defense mode.  Dogs are not  known to have hallucinations.

Aha!  There!  We have some young fool wearing a camouflage outfit like swaying grasses hunkered down behind a shrub brandishing an orange and yellow water cannon. There is an intruder in the neighborhood and Duke is all over it.  I’m lucky Duke didn’t go over the fence and bite the fool, since Massachusetts is a state which has 100% liability for the first bite.

I open the window and in my best (hoarse) old lady voice say, “Son, you’re scaring the dog. Go play somewhere else.”  I disrupt his “shot” as a car drives by and I add, “When the village dogs find you, go back to base.  It’s over.”  I hope to hell if he goes into the military he considers the fact the village dogs will turn him into mincemeat unless he’s more careful than this.

It’s been Eons…


About 4 years ago I joined a site called Eons.  It was a boomer focused social networking site located in the greater Boston area. Over the years it morphed with the lowered age limits, created and then spun off a dating site that was sort of moribund from the get-go. Now it appears Eons itself may have stuck its fork in the wall late last week.

There’s a FB page saying the three remaining staff members are trying to get a “server problem” fixed.  No commercial website is down for the better part of a week without part of the problem being financial.  My best guess is that the sound of “Taps” comes next, which is too bad. I hope I’m wrong, but even if it staggers back to life, I’m not sure what happens next. People are bailing.

In my trip down memory lane, Eons had various forums I enjoyed and all sorts of “groups” with volunteer leadership. As long as it was legal, there was a group around it. Some groups were a few friends, some had hundreds or more.  I think the photo forums might have been my favorites.

It was fun while it lasted, yet I was already drifting away.  Facebook.  Blogging.  Still, Eons reminded me of the old CLink echo net forums – real discussions as opposed to narcissism in action. So I did check in a few times a week.  The members that knew each other are starting to gather here and there on the web.  I hear a few hundred are on Facebook and there’s another group I know of on another website where I was invited to join.

And so it goes.  It’ll be interesting to see if the remaining staff can raise it from the ashes.

An adventure into body art


Something that really doesn’t require hearing, just intention and the willingness to allow yourself to be punctured a zillion times with a needle bearing ink.  It felt like a very tiny scalpel making tiny cuts.  I do wish I’d turned off my hearing aid since the hum of the machine was sort of like having a very large insect buzzing in my head.  But once the artist started working moving wasn’t an option.

The tattoo was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter.  I’ve had folks tell me to make sure I really want this because I’ll have it “forever.”  I responded that “forever” from my age is not nearly as long as “forever” from the aspect of a younger person.

I did not grimace or comment even though the session was pretty uncomfortable. And it was done in stages as it was shaded.  The sore spots got sorer with each application – deep purple, lighter purple, and white.  Take a lesson from that if you’re considering taking the plunge. Consider lettering – all one color – no shading.

The artist did an excellent job.  It will take a bit of getting used to that I now have a permanent  purple bracelet on my right wrist, but as with all changes with my body (the scars, ear piercings, hearing aids, sagging skin, wrinkles, etc.) soon it will be the most normal thing in the world.

I’d found a “bracelet” associated with Irish Brehons and then lost track of the website – which was really quite annoying.  Look as I might, I never duplicated the search.  I considered the word “Serenity”, but settled on Celtic knotwork across my right wrist as a”bracelet” of sorts.  I suppose it should have been green, but I don’t care for that much green.  I like purple – purple fingernails, dresses, scarves, blouses, even a purple shawl, so there you have it!

I don’t have a good photo of it.  It’s darned difficult to take a photo of your wrist with your other hand using an iPhone. I know.  I tried.  And the photos taken at the tattoo place really don’t do it justice.

I wonder how many boomers out there have taken the plunge into body art (outside of pierced ears).

The joys of sounds


“The hills are alive….” well, no, not the hills.  The room.  And it isn’t exactly the sound of music, it’s the sound of my cell phone.  During a meeting.  An interpreted meeting.

Now, mind you, when I use my cell phone in general I use my bluetooth enabled Phonak hearing aid with a Phonak iCom and I know my cell phone is ringing when I hear a ring-tone in my ear.  However, the ring tone I use on the cell phone is loud and funny.  It suits my sense of humor as it blasts out, “Oh, where is my cell phone?” over and over.  This is great if I am in a quiet space or I can feel the phone vibrate or see it flash.  But… if the phone is in my purse, on the floor, by my feet, and if I’m  not wearing my iCom or it is not on (why wear an iCom in a meeting?) then I’ve got no clue the cell phone is screaming “Oh where is my cell phone?  Where is my cell phone? Where, oh, where oh where oh where…is my cell phone?

Which brings us to last night.  I’m intently focused on the terp when suddenly one terp who is “off” starts signing at me about a phone.  Phone?  What phone?  I look around the room.  I look back to the terp. She points to my purse and I look down to see a glimpse of my iPhone flashing away and I’m acutely aware it’s telling me to find my cell phone.  Oops!  I duck under the table, scoop it out of the purse, turn it to vibrate and submit to good-natured ribbing about the ring tone and the deaf lady with the phone.

Which brings us to the fact that some of us hard of hearing, almost but not quite deafies can use a cell phone under certain circumstances.  Like when I’m in a quiet area and I’ve got my bluetooth function feeding sound into my ear.  Mostly, though, I use it for text messages and email, but sometimes I do use the phone feature.  And I guess I’ll keep the funny ringtone since everyone (but me) got a good laugh out of it last night

Once upon a time


Once upon a time I had a mother. She birthed me and held me and fed me and made sure I was safe and warm and as happy as she could help me be.  We lived in various places, finally settling on a little patch of land out west. It must have been a real drag for her, since she’d lived in beautiful places like Washington, DC and wild and historic places like Dickinson, ND, but I never heard her complain. It must have felt like she was a pioneer wife in an arid land.

When I was growing up I had a pony and, later, horses.  I never realized how afraid she was of her Tomboy’s horses until many years later. She would hold the reins for me at times and probably thought the huge herd creatures were like equine dinosaurs.  I could barely get her on the pony – once.  She was a good sport, even though I was not at all like my feminine sister. I was more like my greatly idolized brother.

She put up with the fact I hated piano and wanted to play guitar and be a singer. She even sent me to guitar lessons and singing lessons.  I no longer sing or play guitar, but I have the history of appreciating music – including opera.

She left me when I was 27 years old. She did not want to go. None of us kids wanted her to go, but cancer in those days left one very few choices. From March to May was all she had after she found out.  I have very few things mementos which remind me of her – but what I have means a great deal.  When I look in the mirror I see her looking back at me, for I do look a lot like her.

Whenever I see lilacs I think of her. And the lilacs bloom this time of year.  She loved to read and I followed in her footsteps. She liked crossword puzzles and I used to be addicted to them. She was a believer in social justice and guided me in the path of believing we were all equal in the eyes of God (as long as those folks were Catholic  – LOL but I’m no longer Catholic and I’m sure she understands).  If she were alive today she’d be 97 years old.  If she were alive today I’d still live close to her.  If she were alive today I’d have never left her.

Maybe there is a reason she left so soon.  I’d have never found my joy in the land of Alaska. I’d have missed much.  Then again, I’d trade it all for her. Maybe she knew…