Friday, December 14, 2007

Radio interview!

This morning Glenn Hascall, host of KHYM radio in Kansas, and a FaithWriter friend, did a short interview with me over the phone about Peculiar People. It was pretty cool. Of course, after the fact I always think of all the things I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve said differently, but especially for a first radio interview I think it turned out well. I was glad it wasn’t live and could be edited a bit. ;-)

I was so glad Glenn offered this opportunity, and he’s even given me a copy of the clip to archive on our website. The piece will be broadcast on Friday, Dec 14th sometime between 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM Central time. You can listen live online at the link above. Later I’ll post the archive on the PeP website.

I’ve been looking forward to the interview all week. It was really funny because Tuesday I woke up all in a panic, sure I had missed the interview. Then I realized that the interview was on Thursday and I was fine after all. I still wasn’t quite sure what day it really was and panicked all over again deciding I’d missed my final exam for school. But no…the exam was on Wednesday. Finally I realized it was indeed only Tuesday morning and all I needed to do that morning was order carpet for one of Dad’s houses. Heh.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Book Release--Struggle Creek!

Whoo Hoo! After a year and a half of work, Peculiar People's first novel is finally in print and available to buy! Check out Struggle Creek at the Xulon Press bookstore, or order it directly from a contributing author in your area. (for some reason they've listed only me as the author, but hopefully that'll be fixed by tomorrow)
This unique novel was written by twenty-seven authors. It's a mystery story about a small Tennessee town. Each author wrote a chapter from the viewpoint of a different town member, but all the chapters tie together to make one novel. Come join the lives of the children who stumbled upon a strange dome in the woods, the new Deaf boy who's found himself caught smack in the middle of a dangerous mystery, the sheriff who is trying desperately to keep his town safe, and the actors trying to give the town hope. These are just a few of the delightful Struggle Creek residents who may seem a little familiar to those who know the authors, since we've given the characters a touch of ourselves.

PeP will be having an online book dedication prayer time on Friday, October 26th at 5:00 PM Pacific time (8:00 PM Eastern time, Saturday 10:00 AM Sydney time). If you are interested in joining us for that, just make sure I have your MSN instant messaging contact information.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Surgical success!

Chrissy from Australia’s surgery was a success! She had it last week and within a day or two she was up and walking around with much more ease and less pain than before the surgery. Praise God! There is still a chance of blood clots to be praying against, but so far everything is going wonderfully smoothly.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Seven, Eight...Up, Down...what's the difference, anyway?

The first couple weeks of school I was feeling pretty on top of my game. I can tell a huge difference between my signing skills, both receptive and expressive, compared to the beginning of the year last year and this year. I still have a long ways to go, but defiantly getting there, and my tutor has commented on the big improvement in my receptive fingerspelling and numbers. Because of my vision-related learning problems, receptive fingerspelling and numbers will always be one of my biggest challenges (I can even fingerspell a word back to you, with all the letters right, and sometimes still have no clue what the word is).

Well, today my private tutoring didn’t go so well. In ASL, 7 and 8 are very similar and even those who do not have dyslexic tendencies can easily mix them up. Last week I thought I had finally gotten a grip on them. This morning, however, I think I put down 7 every single time my tutor signed 8...the whole hour. By the end of the time he was chuckling at me (in a nice way) because I was so annoyed at myself.

A lot of my new classmates are feeling overwhelmed, too. Maybe I should take some of my own advice I’m giving them, and push through it. Things will get better. There are always good days and bad days. ;-)

I’m so glad I’m only taking two classes this term. I’m not sure how I’ll manage when my load gets heavier, but maybe some of the other stuff will lessen? Besides school, I’m trying to juggle coordinating the FW writing conferences, coordinating three (count ‘em, three!) different Peculiar People projects, plus a little bit of office work to pay the bills.

It’s actually kind of bad timing for both my interpreting career and my writing career to be taking off at the same time, but if I slow down on either of them then I will loose ground. At least it’s (mostly) fun and exciting stuff that’s all happening, if hard work.

Speaking of fun and exciting things happening, keep your eye out for some great Peculiar People news later this week!


Monday, September 24, 2007

In Limbo

Today was the first day of the Fall term. I guess I never got around to blogging last year about the fact that I decided to add a year to my schooling. It was kind of a stressful time and I didn’t blog much then. I think most of you know anyway, but when I reached the third term of my first year in the interpreting program, I realized that I wasn’t ready. The first two terms are more how to interpret, and the third term you really get into the interpreting itself. I was still struggling too much with the language and wasn’t ready to focus on interpreting.

My grades were all fine at that point, so technically I could have kept pushing through. But after spending much of the first couple weeks of the term in tears because I was so frustrated and stressed, I spoke to my teachers to see if it would be possible to retake a few of the first year classes before continuing on with the harder interpreting classes.

They agreed to let me. As far as I know, I’m the first person to voluntarily drop back and retake classes in this program. A lot of people fail out and retake, and it’s common to have three years before you graduate the program. Most of those retake second year classes, though. I felt it would be better to get a stronger foundation of the language down first, so that I could better learn and focus on the interpreting part of it.

While it was a hard decision at first, especially to think of leaving my classmates, who are a second family, I’m really glad I am doing it this way. I continued with half the classes that third semester and then have worked hard all summer. My skills have improved a lot, and I’m looking forward to seeing them improve even more this next year.

It was kinda odd going back to the ASL class I’ve already taken. I’m surrounded by 23 other students who are scared, nervous, and feeling overwhelmed with the immersions into signing. They talk about being nervous at Deaf events, and scared of presenting things in front of the class…

I listen, and I remember so well those feelings, but no longer struggle so much with them. But I’m but weak in ASL grammar and the use of the language just the same as them. I feel a little stuck between two worlds--one foot in the first year and one foot in the second year. One annoying thing (lol) is that I don’t have a good answer for a simple question I get asked constantly--“What year are you?” Everyone in the Deaf Community is familiar with the program I’m in, and knows it’s a two year program. It’s a simple question that, from me, requires either a long answer or a incomplete answer. Oh well.

My decision to voluntarily retake some classes will perhaps result in more students following my example as needed. It’s rather exciting to think that my decision may result in more interpreters with better skills. One of my classmates was also struggling, though her grades were okay. After seeing my decision, she decided to follow suite. She told me that it helped her to see how well it was working for me, and to see that I still was included fully in the second year group.

Besides the slight feeling of being in limbo, today went well. The students were nice, and I have some close friends from during the summer or past classes in the class. The second year students, last year’s family, have classes right after ours. We share a lunch break, so I was able to hang out with them for about 45 minutes.
I’ve been home for a week now, and a busy week it’s been, for sure! I tried to concentrate on getting rested up and ready for school. On Monday after my flight, I slept and rested all day and hung out with family. My family keeps mentioning how quiet it was while I was gone. ;-) They missed me a lot, and of course, I missed them, too.

On Tuesday I called up a friend I met a few months ago who will be a classmate this year to see if she wanted to work on fingerspelling with me. Breezy is really an answer to prayer. She lives about ten minutes from me (surprising, considering that our school is an hour drive away), she’s around my age, a Christian, and has free enough of a schedule that she’s been able to meet me at the last minute to practice signing quite often through the summer.

On Wednesday the language tutor managed to work me into his schedule. During much of the summer I would leave my tutoring sessions very discouraged because I was struggling so much. The last couple ones before I left for Australia were going much better, so I was hoping that I hadn’t lost too much during the month of little to no practice. My tutor actually said that it wasn’t obvious I hadn’t been practicing and commented on how much I’d improved since he started working with me.

On Thursdays whoever can from my class last year meets together for dinner and signing time. I’m impressed that we’ve been able to keep that up over the whole summer. It’s been really great for practice, and nice to keep in touch with friends, too.

Saturday I went to a Deaf Expo. That was awesome. Over two thousand people showed up throughout the day. There were 80 different booths offering various products or serviced of interest to the Deaf--everything from video relay services, to T-shirts with signing graphics, to free videos of the Gospels translated into ASL, to adoption agencies.

There was also a stage with productions going on all day. One of my teachers, Patrick Fischer, did some dramatic storytelling--he’s a professional actor as well as an ASL teacher. The performances were anything from the adoption agency explaining the details of adopting Deaf children, to fun things like Patrick and a magic show.

There were a ton of people there I knew from class, church, and other Deaf events. It was great just hanging out all day, browsing the booths, watching the performances, and chatting.

On Sunday my family went out to lunch together, and had a lovely time. Then in the evening we had a FaithWriters cyber party. We had 15 people chatting on instant messaging! How fun! Confusing for those not used to it, though. ;-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Air Clinic

It started the day before my flight. I had abdominal pain that just seemed to get worse throughout the day. It occurred to me that a 13 hour flight over the mostly empty Pacific Ocean wasn’t exactly the most opportune place to have appendicitis. Visions ran through my head of those Readers Digest stories about a poor doctor doing emergency surgery on a suddenly dying patient. You know the ones--when the surgical equipment consists of a pocket knife and a drinking straw, and vodka doubles as antiseptic and anesthesia. Only nowadays I suppose it would have to be a plastic knife that did the honors.

Of course, my gut pain was only indigestion that was mostly gone the next day, but the whole thought process turned out to be sort of eerie foreshadowing.

About a third of the way into the flight, the call came over the sound system, as though right out of my dreams: “Would any medical personnel that happen to be on the flight please come to row 22?” I sent up a prayer for those involved, and then attached my rubber neck. For the next few minutes, any passenger who rose to stretch their legs or go to the loo was subject to Sticky-beak Amy’s scrutinizing gaze.

An older lady rose and headed toward the front of the plane. Ah ha, perhaps this was a nurse or doctor. A few minutes later she came back again, murmuring something about stretching her legs. Then a young distinguished-looking man, perhaps of Indian decent, rose from the seat directly in front of me. I assessed him. Yes, I could easily picture him a doctor. Then he turned to his friend. “Row 22, was it?”


It was quite some time before he came back again. I dozed with one eye open so as not to miss it. When he finally appeared, he started to slip into his seat without a word. Then, lucky me (good thing I’m not a cat), he stopped and faced his friend--and by default me. “She’s pretty sick. We’re going to land early,” he explained. “We’re gonna try to put down in Hawaii.”

We all stared at him.

He laughed. “No, really, she has a fever. I gave her an Advil.”

Nothing major. Good. So that was that.

At least for the moment. Several hours later I opened my eyes to find him once again returning to his seat. “This is becoming a regular free clinic,” he said wryly. “That guy passed out.”

For the entire rest of the flight, the poor doctor was in an out of his seat, attending his patients, often summoned by a pointed glance from a flight attendant. I’m not sure whether it was just the two sick people, or whether there were more. Or perhaps I was mistaken and there was only one, I’m not sure. At one point I saw the flight attendants giving oxygen to the lady.

About an hour away from our landing in California, an announcement came once again over the loud speaker. “Hello, this is the crew captain. We have a medical situation that is rapidly becoming an emergency. We’re going to land a little early and try to get into a closer gate. Please ensure that the aisles are clear and remain in your seats until the EMTs can come take out the patient.”

I exchanged glances with the man next to me. The crew captain’s voice sounded downright shaken.

The doctor in front of us was explaining to his friend that he’d once had a patient with the same symptoms as this person. He thought the person would be fine and was going to send them home when they keeled over and died, right on his medical table.

When we arrived, I was able to see that the lady, though surrounded by EMTs, was able to exit the plane on foot. I pray she recovers quickly. I hope the generous doctor has an uneventful rest of his journey.

Back Home

For my last night in Australia, Norm and Chrissy took me to their favorite restaurant, a military club. It was a lovely dinner with chatting and teasing, and the gentle music of a live pianist in the background. When we arrived back home, there was a small wrapped present on the front entry, addressed to me. I guessed who it was from, and couldn’t hide my pleased grin as I ripped open the envelope. The card was signed by each of the ladies from the nearby church’s women’s Bible study. These ladies have adopted Chrissy, and now me.

The gift was a mug adorned with Numbers “May the Lord bless you and keep you…” It will be a wonderful reminder of the love and care these women extended Chrissy and I.

The morning of the flight, I did the last bit of packing, then Chrissy, Norm, and I prayed together. At the airport we checked my bag and then lingered over a hot drink. Chrissy cried when I left for the gate. (Aunty Chrissy and Uncle Norm, I’ll miss you!) At least I will see them in two years, Lord willing, when they come to the US FW conference and do some sightseeing. Then a few years after that I plan to return to Australia for a Down Under FW conference.

Unlike my spacious flight to Australia, the return flight was completely full. My back problems and to the discomfort of the cramped seating area, so I only dozed now and then. As I’m writing this during my five hour California layover, I haven’t had more than a few cats naps for about 24 hours. I caught another cat nap on the waiting chairs here in the airport, too. But I probably will have been awake for about 33 hours before I’m able to get substantial sleep.

One benefit to a crowded plane, at least to an outgoing person like me, is that I have seat-mates to chat with. Across the aisle on my left was a family with an adorable year old baby. All the babies on the flight were remarkably good for how long of a flight it was. My seat-mate directly next to me was an Australian who was moving to London, with a sightseeing stop-over in New York. This is his first time in the US. Five years ago he returned to Australia after living in London for five years, so he was excited to be going back and connecting with his friends again. In the window seat, another young Australian man was headed back to his home of two years in Seattle, Washington.

I’ve dedicated a separate post to the adventures on the plane itself. ;-) Only a few more hours now, and I’ll be home!

P.S. I’m home! I was tired enough that I slept during most of the two and a half hour flight from California, but I’m still about to fall into the laptop, so g’bye for now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Down Ender

One day left in Australia. This month went by in a blur. All week Chrissy and I have lamented--this is the last week. There’s so much I didn’t do…not only a couple of places here in the Sydney area we’d hoped to visit, but there are a few housework things I didn’t get to--back cupboards to scrub out, and last mop of the floor… Now I'm trying to get myself packed, Norm is packing for his two-week trip, and we're making sure things are ready for Chrissy to be on her own for two weeks. Visit, don’t be over yet!!

This week I’ve lingered over things, soaking it in, enjoying it. I listen extra closely to the Aussie accents, trying to absorb a little more of the drawl, the Down Under expressions. My eyes spot the brightly-coloured birds, and listen for their sounds that soon will fade from memory. Most of all, I enjoy Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Norm; their light banter and chuckles, the way Chrissy and I can talk FaithWriters and know that the other really understands, Chrissy's hearty laughter as she reads something funny on the message boards...

On Monday Deb Porter (from FW--the one who came home with me from the conference) and her daughter Kylie came to visit. It was a great time, and lovely to meet Kylie, who I’ve heard so much about. The time went too quickly, and I look forward to the second FW conference next summer, when we can once again catch up.

Several times this week Linda dropped by for a visit. She’s the leader of the Bible study that met here a couple of weeks ago--from the church that found out from a friend of a friend (times 4+-) that Chrissy was housebound. This group of ladies have swept us up with love and concern and blessed us so deeply. They will be checking daily on Chrissy while Norm is away, and Deb will come one day, too.

In the middle of the week, Linda brought another Bible study member to meet Chrissy. Lee-Ann wasn’t able to come to the meeting here last week, but will be one of the ones checking on Chrissy next week. She, too, was wonderfully sweet. Both Linda and Lee-Ann do a little writing, so of course we talked about FaithWriters. Linda joined last week, and it didn’t take much to get Lee-Ann totally excited about joining. She practically bounced out the door, eager to get home and sign up and start a challenge story right away.

This morning I woke to an email from Lee-Ann, offering to take me to see The Blue Mountains--one of the places we’d planned to go but weren’t able to make. It didn’t work for me to go today, but it was so sweet of her to offer.

I so wish I could take this group of ladies home with me. Chrissy is wishing she’d met them sooner. In a few months she and Norm will be moving quite a bit north in Australia. But several of these ladies reminded us that God puts people in our lives for special reasons, and for special--sometimes short--seasons. They’ll be here to step in when they are desperately needed--while Norm is on his business trip.

Tomorrow Chrissy and Norm will be going in the morning to help her parents as they prepare to move into assisted living. Meanwhile, I’ll pack (and sleep in a little ;-) ). In the evening, we’re going to their favorite restaurant for my last evening here. Then I fly out early Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chocolate + Babies = Happy Amy

Today was a long, but good day. We left the house at 7:00 AM and returned about 8:30 PM. Chrissy and Norm’s youngest grandson is a month old and they haven’t yet been able to see him, so today we made the three-hour drive and got to visit their daughter, son-in-law, and the grandkids--three under the age of two-and-a-half!
I got to hold baby Dylan most of the time we were there, and played peek-a-boo with the older two. :-D And their dad taught me how to do a Tim Tam Slam--haha. A Tim Tam is two chocolate biscuits with chocolate filling, dipped in a chocolate coating (with that much chocolate, obviously they are yummy!). To do a slam, one bites off a small bit of opposite diagonal corners, then dips one bitten end in hot chocolate while sucking on the other end. As soon as you get a bit of moisture through the cookie, you have to quickly stick the whole--now soggy and melted--thing in your mouth before it disintegrates into your drink. LOL! On the way back home, we went to Hunter Valley. I guess there are a bunch of world-famous wine companies there, but we just walked through the shops--everything from a shop filled with different kinds of olive oils, to gift shops, to lolly shops.

We took the back road home to try to avoid the highway jammed with everyone returning from a weekend away. However, the road was solid curves the whole two-and-a-half-hours, so especially after the long day, Chrissy was in pretty severe pain by the time we got home. My back wasn’t real happy, either. ;-)

But we’re back home now, writing and recovering nicely. ;-) I can’t believe that in one week I’ll be flying over the Pacific Ocean right now. Time has gone fast! I haven’t done hardly any sign language or math studying while I was here, so I guess I better get busy, lol.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Last night a local church held their women’s small group at Chrissy’s house. A couple of women at that church found out that Chrissy was pretty much housebound from a friend of a friend of a friend who contacted a woman in that church who contacted the leader of this small group. She’s been to visit a couple of times and brought the small group over so Chrissy and I could attend.

What a blessing! It’s been a few years since I’ve been involved in a Bible study group and I’d forgotten how wonderful it is. The eclectic group of ladies were very open and very real. We worshiped a little and then the leader brought us into a discussion of how we have no condemnation in Christ, and how important it is to not waste our time beating ourselves up for this or that which we didn’t do or shouldn’t have done. Instead, we need to simply ask for forgiveness and move on in God’s grace. The discussion moved on to our focus in life--how we should be living for eternity rather than this lifetime on this world. Everything we do here should be preparing for eternity.

These ladies are going to jump in and help Chrissy after I leave. The day after I fly home, Norm is going to have to leave for TWO weeks, yikes. He got a promotion to Commanding Officer in the military, which is a great honor, but is required to have this two week training time in another city. We were quite worried about Chrissy being alone, but God is working things out. Another friend of Chrissy’s is going to make up a bunch of meals she’ll just be able to grab from the freezer and heat up, so with the Bible study ladies popping in to check on her, she should be okay.

Today Chrissy and I got to meet another FaithWriter friend for lunch. Chrissy had met Karen E. before, but it was my first time. It was a lovely lunch, and so nice to spend time in real life with our friend.Yesterday I came down with a cold. Thankfully it’s not a terribly bad one, but still enough to make me want to be sleeping a bit more than usual. Between that, getting ready for the Bible study, and everything else, I got a little behind on dishes. Norm was out of town, so I was juggling dinner and hand-washing the rest of the dishes. Chrissy and Norm’s son, Ken, comes on Wednesday nights and he got off work early today. He jumped right in and helped with dinner and the dishes. It was so nice and now we’re all caught up.

Well, I’m actually letting myself write a story for the FW challenge this week, so I better go back to it and then get to bed. G’night, mates!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Experiencing Australia

Well, I didn’t get to hold the koala after all, but I did get to pet one! The three of us went to Koala Park and saw all sorts of things. Koalas are nocturnal, so all of them were sleeping when we arrived. I guess there are about thirty of them allowed to roam freely through the park. A few of them are gathered to sleep in a certain area so one can easily be found and woken for petting times throughout the day. The marsupial was more interested in the eucalyptus leaves the ranger was bribing him awake with than us, and pretty much ignored the pats and flashing cameras.
We each got a turn petting him and posing for pictures. He was quite wooly, similar to very short sheep’s wool, and a tad greasy feeling like that, also. It was quite soft. Pat, to answer your question about smell, I didn’t notice it, but someone else commented on the smell and the ranger said it was from the eucalyptus diet. So you were right that they smell a bit. ;-)

The Koala Park had a ton of other animals, such as dingos, peacocks, an echidna, kangaroos and wallabies, emus, kookaburras, and such. There was also a very disturbed wombat. Poor thing was pacing in an unvarying pattern in just a small section of his enclosure. He was still plodding blindly when we came back by on our way out, and I finally thought to throw him some of the Cheerio-like food we’d bought for the animals. The snack successfully broke the spell, and he paused to eat.
In one area we were allowed to go in and play with the grey kangaroos. They ate the cereal out of our hands and let us pet them. They are a bit wooly, too, and very soft. One kanga reached up and held onto my hand as he ate. His long nails were rather prickly, but it was worth it!
There were various birds such as roosters, chickens, and wild birds wandering around, too. One pea hen became enamored with Chrissy’s wheelchair, and followed us everywhere we went until we finally snuck out of the kangaroo enclosure without her. She managed to find us later, though. LOL!

After the park, we drove to a spot overlooking Sydney harbor’s North Head, and had a lovely picnic there. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have, because I was feeling pretty nasty for a few hours. After lunch I started feeling better after we got on a ferry across the harbor. It was quite lovely and I got to see the opera house quite close up. I got some great pictures of it, too, as you can see if you follow the link at the end of this post. When we passed through a smaller straight of the water, the waves picked up and the ferry rocked about in a delightful way--at least, I enjoyed it. ;-)

On the other end of the boat ride, we roamed through another open market in an area called The Rocks. I picked up some gifts for family, and we just wondered and looked. There were musicians and performers in that area, also. We stopped and watched a contortionist squeeze herself into a tiny glass box. She said she was the only street performer world-wide who could do that trick.

As we ferried back to Manly Harbor, I watched the sun setting above the bridge and opera house--a picture that has become rather a trademark of Australia. Somehow it really sunk in--I’m in Australia!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Just a bit wonky

After I wrote the last blog post, we ate our dinner in the darkness of the backyard, under a full moon and the myriad of sparkling stars, which were slipped a little differently in the sky than I’m used to. As we ate, a dark shadow began nipping at the bottom of the moon.

I bent over the telescope, my dinner bowl in one hand, the other hand nudging the scope to follow the moon’s slow arch. The shadow bit deeper into the bright orb. Through the telescope’s magnification, the moon looked like a glowing ball that had been dipped into a puddle of ink. As the evening wore on, the shadow filled the moon, until at last the whole thing turned a dusky red. When I stepped back into the house, the edge of the ball was once again tinging a brilliant cream.

Last night we had a different sort of adventure. Norm was out of town with business, and I was washing up the dinner dishes as Chrissy finished a shower. Suddenly I heard not just a thump, but a whole series of huge thumps and bangs. I rushed for the bathroom and hollered through the door, “Did you fall?” A slight whimper answered me. “Can I come in?” I pushed open the door and found Chrissy sprawled on the floor in her pajamas, a dazed look splashed across her face.

Thankfully she was all right, though her back was jarred, and a large bruise has spread across her arm from her frantic attempts to keep her weight off her back as she slipped on the mat and fell. For some reason I was reminded of my days as an assistant figure skating teacher as I helped her up, showing her the easiest way to find her feet again.

Today Norm was back from his trip, and had the afternoon off work. Chrissy was feeling well enough to go out, so we went for a wander around Richmond Lagoon and then the Nepean River. I was glad Norm was there to push the wheelchair, because my back is still crying from getting used to pushing it on paved ground, and this was grass or gravel half the time.

(Norm says it's fashionable to take pics at a wonky angle like this. ;-) )

The sun sparkled merrily on the water, and birds swam and waddled about, looking for food and chatting to us and each other. As I spotted a couple of particularly large water birds, I asked, “What are those black swan-like things?”

“They are black swans.” Norm laughed.

Which would be why they looked rather like black swans. (What can I say? I’m used to white swans.) We even saw a pair with a family of fluffy grey signets.

Here's me infront of a wattle tree--they have tiny fluffy yellow blooms. The sun was rather bright in my eyes, so pardon my squint.

(Wattle it be)

On the way home, we stopped at Koorong, a large Christian bookstore that I hear about often on the FW message boards. A bit further down the road from there, we passed some military acreage. I was tickled pink to spot dozens of grey kangaroos grazing in the fields. One of them even jumped about a little for me.

Tomorrow we’re going to a Koala Park where I actually get to HOLD some koalas!!

P.S. Haha, check out a silly “Are you a Crazy-Creative Writer?” test I made for the fun of it:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wheeling Around

We’re settling into a bit of a routine. Chrissy has her meds at 7:30 AM, so I serve eggs of some sort for breakfast. Then I do some cleaning or ironing and wash up the dishes. After lunch we often both lay down for a nap. We play around on FaithWriters off and on, and do a bit of writing in the afternoons.

Yesterday we got the wheelchair they’ve rented for a month, so today I drove the two of us to the post office and then to the mall. I find that I adjust quite quickly to driving on the other side of the road. Chrissy was so happy to get out of the house on a weekday. We got a drink and I had a couple of donuts. We went out to an outside balcony and sat in the sun to drink and eat our snack.

The wheelchair is heavier than I would have thought, so I have to be careful when getting it out of the back of the car. There are quite a few slopes in the mall, so my back was happy to have only a short outing. Haha, once the isle to get out of the checkout counter wasn’t wide enough for the chair and as I tried to get it back out, we got stuck. There wasn’t enough room to go forward or backward. Finally the man in the queue behind us had to actually lift up the back wheels of the chair and move it to a different angle so we could get out.

Before we left, I had a lovely surprise. The doorbell rang and a man handed me a box. It had my name on it! Turns out it was an “We miss you” teddy bear gift from my family. It’s so silky soft and cute.
Chrissy’s little Pomeranian dog, Tammy, has been quite wound up lately. She’s a tiny bit jealous of me and will try to push between me and Chrissy sometimes, LOL! Tammy does like me, though, and sometimes we play fight with my foot. But I got tired of sacrificing my toes and asked for a doggie toy for her, haha. So Norm came home last night with a bright pink smiley face with a tongue and pink rope pigtails. Tammy loves it and we all had a good tug of war fight last night with lots of growls and giggles and chuckles.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A wee bit o' lollies

Yes, I know this blog title is mixing Scots and Aussie expressions--read on and you’ll see why. ;-)

This morning (it’s Sunday here), we went to a church that has a Deaf ministry. Because American Sign Language (ASL) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan) are each languages completely different from English and from each other, it was a bit of a challenge to communicate with the Deaf at that church. However, I learned the Auslan manual alphabet and a few signs before I came, and many of them knew a little of ASL fingerspelling, so we managed to communicate with only a little trouble. Australian and American Deaf culture seems very similar--I felt very comfortable chatting with them.

Those who don’t have an interest in signing, pardon me while I ramble for a minute--feel free to skip over the next two paragraphs. ;-)

I find the two-handed Auslan manual alphabet quite awkward, but I learned it pretty quickly. Of course, being able to do the alphabet in order and actually using it to spell or read a word are totally different things, but I actually did okay. Just a few of ASL and Auslan signs are the same, and quite a few are the same or similar sign but completely different meanings (which can be a bit confusing).

The two interpreters at the church were volunteer interpreters who didn’t have interpreting training. They did a lovely job. I found it interesting, but not surprising, that it seemed they were using the equivalent phenomenon to a mix of what we call Pidgin Sign Language and Signed Exact English-- which is ASL (or in this case Auslan) signs being used in an English grammatical structure. It’s a common contact language used by hearing or non-native signers who are not yet fluent in ASL.

The church was having a special celebration this morning--it was the twentieth anniversary of an American couple’s Aussie ministry in that church. At one point they set off a huge explosion of streamers. There was a Deaf and Blind lady who has a dog guide, and they actually had to take them out of the sanctuary before they could set off the streamers. I guess legally there can’t be any animals nearby when they set it off.

The guest speaker was from Scotland and he had a wonderful very strong accent. His sermon was on how all Christians are champions and we must never give up. We can’t be “to’l plonkers”, that is, losers, hehe.

After church we picked up Chrissy and went to the outdoors Heritage Market and wondered around the shops of homemade products and little knickknacks. This lovely water wheel is there, so we paused for a pic by it.

There were a number of musicians scattered around, and we stopped to watch and chat with an Aborigine, playing a didgeridoo. It makes a fascinating sound! A didgeridoo is the long wooden pipe with a bulb shape at the end, like you can see in the photo. The musician actually can breath in through his nose at the same time as he’s blowing on the didgeridoo, meaning he can play an unbroken stream of music.

The name of the instrument is an onomatopoeia. The traditional song played by has a melody that sounds like “didgeridoo.” He did all sorts of sounds with it, even telling stories with sound effects. He would tell us what the story was about, and then use hand motions with one hand while he played a melody with sound effects like a truck rumbling by, a horn, police siren, or animal sounds.

There is an Asian Noodle shop in the market that serves gluten free noodle dishes (Chrissy is a celiac). It was delicious! I got a egg noodles with chicken and vegetables, with a light hint of peanut sauce and coconut milk. The servings were huge and I barely made a dent in mine. Will have plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow! Norm was a “guts” and ate all his. ;-)

But best of all, lol, we found a lolly shop. Those who know me, tease me about how much candy I eat, so I had to get a pic in front of it. (I eat so much candy is that it’s one snack I can have without it making me sick--that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! LOL!)
After we got home, Chrissy had a rest as she was quite worn out from walking, and was hurting a lot. Tomorrow we’re renting a wheelchair for a few months, so that will make going out easier on her. While she was resting, Norm took me for a short driving lesson so I could get used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road. It actually wasn’t too hard, and I adjusted quickly. Chrissy has a small car, so that helped. Now I’ll be able to take us places if we need to go out while Norm is out of town or at work.

Here’s a link to a few more pictures:

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Birds and tumblers and giggles

Today we went out to Chrissy’s favorite place. It’s a lovely walk along Hawkesbury River. I saw a number of birds that are very colorful and pretty, plus a cute sparrow just like the ones we have at home. ;-) We stopped at Gloria Jeans--a coffee house chain. I had a some hot chocolate. It’s a bit different than US hot chocolate--less rich and less sweet. It was very nice, though. I also discovered that what we in the US call a barbeque, they call a webber, and they often call bikes "push bikes".

After lunch Norm and I went to a small circus that has stopped nearby. The animal acts weren’t very exciting, and the animals weren’t very enthusiastic except for one monkey who thoroughly enjoyed his flips and handstands. However, the people’s acts were great. One of my favorites was a sort of Three Stooges type tumbling act. It was also a lot of fun when a six of the gymnasts’ young girls and toddlers came out and did a few tricks.

Chrissy had a rather hard evening--very painful. But she took one of her higher pain killers and now she’s quite giggly, lol.

Tonight Norm and Chrissy’s son, Ken, joined us for dinner and we ate outside with a fire in the outside wood burning fireplace. We made a late birthday cake for me, and then, apparently in Siggee tradition, Norm and Ken sang a very low, off-key rendition of happy birthday while Chrissy and I giggled.

Now Chrissy and I are sitting side by side, working on our laptops and chatting, hehe.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sparrow's Flight

Tuesday the 21st, 10:35 PM Pacific time

I sit here at the boarding gate in California, tired of waiting already. The flight’s been delayed an hour. Then of course, is more sitting--14 hours of it. I feel like I ought to be doing jumping jacks or something now, while I have the chance. ;-)

The waiting area is filled with a lovely mix of accents, strong Australian, a faint hint of Australian, Pacific non-accent, or various other countries. A few rows over, a mother with a lovely Aussie accent is reading aloud to her daughter. I’m tempted to move where I can hear better, to help polish up my poor attempt at the accent. LOL.

I can’t get internet access at this airport except by paying for it, so I’ll probably add to this a few times before I actually post it.

Oh, they just said they are beginning boarding. Maybe it won’t be that late leaving after all!

Wednesday the 22nd, 10:55 AM Pacific Time

We crossed the Date Line some time back, so it’s really Thursday the 23rd, 3:55 AM where I am. This plane has three lines of two seats. I’m in a small area with only three rows, and one little TV for each row. The larger section behind me has one large-screen TV for the whole area. Even with my food allergies, I was able to eat at least a little of what was served so far for all the meals, so thanks to those who prayed for that.

We’re blessed because the plane is almost empty. The flight attendants encouraged everyone to spread out, so almost every person has a whole three-chair section to himself. It’s not as comfortable as one might think to lay down across them, as they are rather lumpy and the folded-away armrests are rather hard against the back.

Every seat has a pillow and blanket, so that means I have three little pillows (plus my own wrap-around-the-neck one) and three blankets to help make things a little more comfy. Of course, every time we hit turbulence and the fasten seatbelt sign comes on, those of us who are laying down have to sit up and buckle in and try to fall back asleep in some other position. But I did manage to sleep off and on for about five hours.

I think we have about two and a half hours left of flight (and only a few minutes left on my laptop battery). We have yet to catch up to the sun, and it’s hard to even spot the stars. Somehow, no matter what seat I pick online, I always manage to be right over the wings, hehe. It seems to be my fate. For a while I thought we were passing through a lightning storm. I felt rather foolish when I realized that the flashes were only the wing light reflecting off a think bank of clouds. All I can see out my window at the moment is the pale white of the wing, illuminated by the steady flashing of the white wing light, and an occasional cloud drifting by. Perhaps we’ll catch up to the sun in time for me to get a glimpse of Sydney as we land.

Thursday the 23rd, 2:20 PM Sydney Time

I’ve arrived in Sydney! It took me a while to go through customs because of the long line, but I didn’t have any trouble. They took away a trail mix because it had dried fruit in it, but they let me keep my other food and the wooden and shell gifts I had.

Norm met me at the airport with balloons, and took me the scenic route home so I could see the harbor and a couple of Sydney bridges. It's so funny--my avatar is a picture of me looking down, so Norm said he looked for a girl in a pink shirt who was looking down. Sure enough, I was! I got a kick out of that story, because both Deb and Scott from FW thought I was shy because of my avatar. LOL!

Today we’ve just chatted and had a lovely quiet day. Chrissy is in quite a lot of pain today--aggravated from traveling to the doctor appointments yesterday, probably. But good news! The surgery has finally been scheduled for her back, and they’ll only do one surgery, instead of two like they’ve talked about. The surgery isn’t until October, but at least a date is firm.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Australia, here I come!

Two weeks ago I had no idea that I’d be packing right now. I’m packing for a month-long trip to Australia, no less! That’s right--I’m going to Australia! It’s all happened so fast it’s hard to believe. I have a FaithWriter friend who has a severe back injury. I--and my whole family, really--have gotten quite close to her and chat over IM and the phone quite regularly. Anyway, she’s waiting for surgery (which keeps getting postponed thanks to the government-run health care) and doesn’t have much mobility, plus is in a lot of pain.

So just a few days before the FW conference, she invited me to come there. That sent my head into a tizzy! But in-between organizing for the conference, I figured out that it would work with my schedule, got my visa and plane tickets (thankfully I already had my passport) and my parents’ blessing, and here I am with my bags almost packed!

Though I’m not going under the most wonderful of circumstances, I’m very much looking forward to spending time with “Aunty” Chrissy and to seeing Australia! I have a few other FaithWriter friends in the area, so am planning to get a little visiting and sightseeing done on the weekends. This will be the furthest away from home I’ve been, and the longest time away by myself, so it will be quite an adventure.

I’m leaving August 21st and getting back on September 16th--one week before my college starts up again. I fly to California and have a pretty long layover there, then have a straight flight--over 14 hours--to Sydney. Ug. I’m praying that my back won’t bother me too much, and that food won’t be a problem. Because of my food allergies, I have no way of knowing if I’ll be able to eat the meals the airline provides, and I have to be careful bringing my own food into another country.

The time difference makes the flights rather amusing. On the way there, I leave on what is the 21st here in America, and arrive on what is the 23rd in Australia--seemingly a three-day flight. On the way back, I arrive here seemingly a mere five hours after I left there. LOL! Once one of my cousins “lost” her birthday on a flight to Indonesia.

I’ll be journaling regularly here on my blog, so be sure to check back or sign up on the Blogarithm (little box to the right) to receive an email notification when I post.

I’m getting on the plane and chasing the sun in less than 24 hours! I’d love your prayers both for myself, and for Chrissy. Thank you! I’m off to the land Down Under!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Midsummer's Daydream Come True--FaithWriters Conference

Wow, what an awesome week! Most of you know I've been busy all year planning and coordinating the First FaithWriters Writing Conference. It was last weekend in Detroit and was so awesome! Those who went described it as a family reunion because so many of us have close relationships on the FW message boards--this was the first time we'd met in person. I thought there would be a bit of adjustment needed, as I connected the physical person with the cyber person I knew, but I was wrong. The connection was instant. One man described it by saying that we've gotten to know each other's souls, and the body is just the package of it.

All Friday night and Saturday I was sooo busy. Seemed like I could get about three sentences exchanged with any one person before someone else was calling for me! I was the MC as well as coordinator, and at least one person described me as "pretty much just a blur" as I rushed around. LOL! I must say, it was rather fun being famous for a weekend, though. ;-)

It's hard to believe it's all over. Things went so smoothly, especially considering it was our first conference. Even Sally Stuart, our special guest speaker who speaks at many conferences, commented on how special it was.

It's a good thing I love all the coordinating work though, because it's starting all over! :-) Next year's conference will be in Tennessee on August 8th and 9th. We're working on inviting speakers and finding the exact location, now.

To read a full account of the conference, check it out here.

After the conference, my friend Deb from Australia, one of the other conference coordinators, came home with my family for a few days. It was so special to get to spend that extra time with her, and helped lessen the loneliness of leaving all our FW friends. I loved getting to show her around my beloved Pacific Northwest!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Signing Camp: Interpreter of the Caribbean

I hope ya'll had a wonderful and blessed Independence Day (or regular ol' 4th of July for those who don't live in the US ;-) ). I laided low Wednesday because I caught a bad cold from a couple of campers at total immersion sign language camp, but it was still a good day.

Speaking of signing camp, here's some more about it. :-D

All the campers were divided into groups of four, and each group created a humorous skit and practiced it throughout the week to perform on the last night. The groups were created with varying levels of signing skills put together, making communication a challenge at times. However, our group didn’t have any big problems and the skit came together nicely.

As we were brainstorming, someone in my group mentioned a popular Deaf joke. So I changed it from a bank robber and a backyard to pirates and a desert island (arrrr!) and threw together a rough draft skit in about a half an hour, to see if that was an idea we wanted to run with. Heh, everyone was very impressed with it (including the teacher--who is an actor himself). The others in my team added some great elements to it and it was a big hit on Saturday night. I particularly liked the title, “Interpreter of the Caribbean.” Hehehe.

Basically the story (our version) is about two Deaf people who are shipwrecked on an island. They stumble upon a treasure chest, and just then spot a pirate ship approaching. They hurry to hide the gold, and then try to hide themselves, but the ship reaches the beach before they have time.

The two pirates become angry when they find that their gold is missing, and quickly spot the two trespassers who they deduce must have hidden the chest. In the shouting and threatening that follows (with the very effective means of a sword), the Deaf people finally convince the pirates that they won’t be able to reveal the location of the chest until they have an interpreter.

One of the pirates sail off to find an interpreter and manages to kidnap one and drags her back to the island. Upon the threat of death, given through the interpreter, the Deaf people quickly reveal the location of the buried chest.

They reveal it to the interpreter, that is. The interpreter, however, sees a prime opportunity to make a fortune, and announces that the Deaf person refused to tell where the chest was. Oh my. Needless to say, the pirates aren’t too happy and drag the Deaf person off to walk the plank, forgetting about the interpreter who rushes to fill her pockets with gold coins.

The original joke ends there, but our story has a twist of conscience. As the interpreter rejoices over her wealth, she hears the cries of the drowning Deaf person and gives in, throwing a rope to rescue her. Now the two live happily ever after, rich, friends, and

STUCK on a desert island forever.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Signing Camp: No Voice

I just got back from a total immersion sign language camp. It was great! There were about 47 adults and young adults there, mostly from Oregon and Washington, but a few other states as well. The eight teachers are all Deaf and were wonderful.

I have tons to talk about, hehe, so I’ll tell all about my week in a few different posts.

Since it was total immersion, we weren’t allowed to use our voices at all. Before I left, everyone was teasing me because I don’t tend to stay quiet for very long. ;-) But I didn’t have a problem. It was more frustrating for the beginner signers, but my skills are enough that I could generally at least get my idea across and understand what was being said. I really appreciated having five days of full immersion.

On Saturday we went to Saturday Market--an outdoors market with vendors selling all sorts of different kinds of things. We had to pretend we were deaf and interact with the vendors without using voices. I found that everyone was very kind and did their best to figure out how to communicate with me. For most of the vendors, we could use gestures to communicate, and they figured out to hold up how many fingers the cost was. Because of my food allergies, I had to do more written communications with the food vendors. The first one I tried just looked blankly at my paper asking if the meat pockets had tomatoes in them. I realized he didn’t speak or read much English, so I tried someone else and found something I could eat.

A few of the other campers had some funny stories. It’s rather funny to be able to hear what people are saying about you, when they think you can’t. One person was trying to buy something and heard the following conversation between the vendors:

“Hey, doesn’t your uncle know signs?”

“Oh, yeah, I think so.”

(since the uncle wasn’t there, this was hardly helpful information)

“Hmm… Hey! Maybe he can read.”


They write a note. The camper (he must have some writing blood in him somewhere) then actually edited the English spelling and grammar of the note, answered it, and handed it back. We laughed so hard when he told us about that!

One of the Deaf teachers voices really well, and she was having a bit of trouble communicating with a food vendor at the Saturday Market. So she looked around to make sure no campers were watching and then voiced that she didn’t want onions. Ha! Just then four campers came around the corner and caught her in the act. Too funny.

On the last morning of camp we were allowed to speak. It was so funny to hear everyone’s voices. It was like, “Wow, I didn’t know you had an accent.” Or, “Oh, your voice is deeper than I expected.”

Now that I’m home, instead of being all excited to use my voice, I’m feeling sign withdrawal and keep trying to sign to my family who doesn’t know any ASL. As much as I enjoy seeing my family again, I wasn’t quite ready to come home.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Now THAT was an interesting day...

To set the stage, on Wednesdays we have three two-hour classes. This morning we arrived and were told that the teacher of the second two classes was sick.

The first class of the day went great. Then as the teacher of that class walked out the classroom door, she tripped on a student’s backpack and hit her head on the doorframe. She went home with a minor concussion.

Then when it was time for me to leave for the day to go volunteer at a Deaf School, I somehow missed the 3:00 shuttle (not sure if I was a tad late or if they left early). I was supposed to be at the school by 3:30 and didn’t even get to my car until after 3:20.

So I quickly hopped on the freeway. And stayed on the freeway. For about two hours. Uh huh. The trip from the college to the school is normally about 25 minutes. I made it today in, oh, about an hour and a quarter. There was an accident on the freeway and it blocked it up for MILES. So much for volunteering.

Hopefully that’s the extent of unusual things that will happen today.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bittersweet Term End

Today is the last day of my Winter term. I’m happy, because it was an incredibly challenging term and now we get a week of break. I’m happy because I can feel I’m improving and my grades show that. I’m happy because it was a good term, with the good memories standing out from the bad.

I’m sad because this was the last class with my favorite teacher. Patrick is a lot of fun and gives great feedback and encouragement. I’m sad because several students, “family” members, will not be back.

I survived finals--six final tests, and several papers all in two weeks or less. One of those papers ended up ten pages long and the other was twelve pages. I’m all done with classes and have one more paper due tonight that I’ve hardly had time to even start on yet. Off I got to whip that up and then I’m free!!!!!

That is, free until Monday when I start work so I can have gas money to get to school next term. ha.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I knew it! (winning concert tickets)

My local Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) radio station has a game called “Sink or Swim” each night, where they play two songs and have people call in to vote on which they like the best. During the voting, they typically give something away to a random caller. Today they were giving away tickets to a concert.

I was listening to them as I drove home from an “Interpreting English Idioms” workshop and as I called in to vote I just knew I was going to be that random caller who won the tickets. You see, I’m not keen on really loud music (which is what most CCM concerts are, I think), and I only like some of the popular CCM music.

So naturally I would be the one they’d pick instead of some teen who was dying to go. LOL! Whadda ya know, I was right! At first I thought I’d ask them to pick someone else who would be more thrilled, but then I thought, “hey, it would be fun to do something different.” Turns out it’s the Saturday after all my finals wrap up, so it’ll be a nice beginning to Spring Break.

I don’t even remember who it was a concert for, lol, but I think they may have said Jaci Velasquez (sp?) was a guest singer, and I like her music. I’m thinking about who to take with me to the concert. Yes, Wren, you are on my list of maybes. ;-) But I’m thinking I may invite a non-Christian classmate (though I decided I better avoid the Lesbian ones lest they get the wrong idea, heh) or someone like that…

Anyway, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been to a CCM concert before.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Here comes Amy the Sparrow as LarryBoy the Cucumber!!

I pulled an all-nighter last night, working on a college paper. Well, I laid down for about an hour and half, but since I didn’t sleep a wink that doesn’t really count. Amazing thing is, I actually made it through the day and had a good one to boot!

During our second class of the day, we took a field trip to another classroom to see The Illumination Project--A social justice theater project. A group of students write and perform short skits that deal with experiences they have had regarding the current topic. This term’s topic is racial prejudice. The group acts out the skit of the day about a simple act of prejudice that could easily happen on campus, but with no resolution to it.

Then they perform the skit a second time. This time an audience member can call “stop!” and go take the place of on of the actors in an effort to help the situation. We audience members were not allowed to take the place of the main person being prejudice, but could step into any of the other roles. The point of the Illumination Project is both to help people become more aware of prejudice around them, but even more so, to give them practice taking affirmative action in a safe environment where they can experiment to see what works and what doesn’t, making us all more likely to step up next time we see something, instead of just fuming from the background.

And yes, I yelled stop and joined the action. I mean, hello, improv acting and defending someone wrongfully accused? If that doesn’t have Sparrow written all over it, I’m sure I don’t know what does!

OK, so on to LarryBoy. In ASL class at the moment our topic is animation (mainly to give us experience describing and interpreting any odd and unusual thing that might come along). So today we had to pick a famous animated character to describe. Tomorrow we’ll each take turns describing the physical characteristics of a character and then add a little action. Then our classmates guess who our character is!

I considered Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Sully or Mike Wazowski… But then I thought of LarryBoy!! It was someone unusual that was unlikely anyone else in class would pick, and does he have a great outfit or what! So yes, I’m highly pleased with who I picked. And shhh, don’t tell any of my classmates.

By the time I got to the end of the school day and was working on LarryBoy, it had been about 27 hours since I’d slept and I was flying high on adrenaline and decidedly giddy. Rather a fun state to be in when dealing with impersonating a cartoon character, but I knew I had a long drive home and would be crashing hard soon, so I left immediately after class instead of practicing and working on homework like usual.

Sure thing, I’m about beat. So I’m headed off to find a LarryBoy VeggieTale to refresh my memory with and then it’s off to an early bed for me! Singing out, from Sparrow the LarryBoy Impersonator!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Deaf Vietnamese Dance Troupe

That was so awesome!! Great way to end mid-terms blues! I just got back from seeing a Deaf Vietnamese Dance Team. This is their first trip to the US. At any given time there were up to four languages going on: spoken English, American Sign Language, spoken Vietnamese, and signed Vietnamese. I think I saw just about every form of translating there is. There was ASL to English, Vietnamese to English to ASL, ASL to English, Vietnamese Signs to ASL to English, copy signing, whisper translating…I could go on for a while.

One of the dance routines they did was to use their bodies and dance moves to spell their name. It was pretty tricky to guess what the letters were, but some of the Deaf kids got pretty skilled at it as each performer did their name. The six-troupe dancers brought up volunteers from the audience and showed them some learning techniques such as following: One person would be the leader, and another person closed his eyes and put his hand on the leader’s shoulder, then tried to copy all of his movements.

Some words seem to be the same in Vietnamese Sign Language and ASL, but most is different. I could understand, however, why Deaf people throughout the world are typically able to learn to understand each other very quickly.

I learned how to count up to ten in Vietnamese Sign Language. I’ll try to describe it using ASL terms, to the best of my understanding. Of course, I was seeing the numbers on the other side of a dimly-lit auditorium, so no guarantees on minute details. ;-)

1 and 2 are the same as ours.
3 is the ASL six, English three
4 and 5 are the same
6 is ASL “Y”
7 is an upside-down ASL “L”
8 is ASL three
9 is ASL “X”
10 is similar to ASL twenty, but with only the very tips of the thumb and finger touching, similar to the ASL sign for DOT (as in .com)

*Note: there are several different kinds of Vietnamese sign systems and I have no idea what the one I saw is called, so I am referring to it as Vietnamese Sign Language.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm in the Newspaper!

I'm in the newspaper!

The article about me and Peculiar People is out in my local paper today! It's just a few paragraphs of a column, but still way cool. I showed the article off to all my classmates and teachers at school today. I'd hand them the paper and it was fun to watch their faces as they glanced at it with a puzzled look and then lit up when they saw my name. My ASL teacher especially got excited.

If you’d like to read the article, go to and in the right-hand column click on the “Bits and Pieces” Feb. 14th article under Arts and Living, “Lost star helps jewler find profits”. Then scroll down the page (to right under the advertisement picture) to find the sentence: A collective effort. The article starts there. For some reason it won’t let me link directly to the article.

I had a good day at class today. I had a sign language presentation to do that was a bit difficult and had lots of finger spelling, but I actually did my finger spelling fairly smoothly and got a compliment from a class mate saying how much I had improved on my signing skills.

This afternoon I'm going to start my weekly volunteering at a school. I'm excited, but also nervous about my language skills.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Published and Paid!

I got a special book in the mail today. It was devotional compilation by Lorna Owens, Everyday Grace, Everyday Miracles. I think I was more excited about the check inside it than about my name inside it! LOL! I've been published in anthologies before, but this is the first time I've been paid for my writing.

Mom and Dad say I should frame the check, haha! I think I'll deposit it first, though. ;-)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Watch Out World, Here We Come!!

Whoo hoo!!! I’m so pumped!

OK, OK, I’ll start at the beginning. Our local newspaper’s “Life” section periodically will mention a theme and ask readers to respond. A few weeks ago I responded to one with a story about Peculiar People’s novel, Struggle Creek. It wasn’t mentioned in the article, so I figured that was that.

While I was at school today, I got a phone call from an editor of the paper! It wasn’t even the same editor I had submitted the story to originally, which proves what I’ve been saying all along--Peculiar People is unique enough that just the concept will originate interest. We chatted for about twenty minutes and I think I actually talked coherently at least half the time. ;-) My cell phone (I was still at school) dropped him TWICE, though. How embarrassing is that? He was very nice about it, though, said he's used to it (oh the joys of the 21st century).

So PeP’s first bit of publicity will be in a few days, in a newspaper column. Hopefully the first of many. Watch out world, here comes Peculiar People!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ending with Style

Well, you can’t say I don’t know how to end a bad week with style. Let’s see, last post and last Thursday left me with the flu. Now, eight, count ‘em, eight days later finds me still sick. I missed two days of school, including a test. Today I finally felt well enough to go back in, or got frustrated with missing school, or something along those lines…

To jump to the end of the day, and the finale, I locked my keys in the car. Now you have to understand, my school is an hour from home when traffic is good and by this point it was the start of rush hour. So it’s not like a family member can just pop right over with another set of keys. Be that as it may, Dad was generously going to drive the way anyway. (Besides, he locks his keys in the truck often enough that he doesn’t have much room to tease. ;-) ) However, imagine my delight when I discovered that campus security can break into cars, er, unlock cars. Fifteen minute wait, two second jimmy, and viola! unlocked car.

To fill in the rest of the day, I went on a field trip today. Three of us from my interpreting class went to a soil analysis class to scope it out to see what issues an interpreter would need to figure out if there were a Deaf consumer. It was rather fun.

Then after the field trip the three of us got to talking about religion. We had a rather interesting mix--a Wiccan Priestess, a Seventh-Day Adventist, and me, a Evangelical Christian. I love that we were able to have a fun conversation without anyone getting mad or defensive.

Of course, the day was wrapped up with our Thursday night family movie. It was a lame old, old musical, but it was fun laughing at it together, hehe.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

One of those days

It was one of those days. You know, the kind that starts by staying up with homework until 1:15 and getting up at 5:00 and going downhill from there? (Hey, at least I didn’t oversleep.) Actually, the issues started the day before. First and foremost is the fact that I’ve gotten about 12 hours of sleep total over the last three days. That’s not something my unhealthy body can handle well.

Anyway, every week have to video-tape two interpretations, using school equipment. Nineteen of us have to use it and it is available limited hours. I did my recorded interpretation yesterday afternoon. I actually felt that I was improving and did a half-way decent job. Figures. Then I got my tape mixed up with a blank tape of a classmate’s. At first I thought all was fine and we just had two of us on one tape. But late that night I went to do my self-evaluation and discovered that mine was taped over completely. Great.

So I got to school at 7:30 AM (it’s an hour commute) to redo it. The receptionist we have to get the camera from wasn’t there. Double great. So in-between two classes I ran back and did a stressed and rushed interpretation and was 20 minutes late to my next class. So, a badly done tape, but not self-assessment. This isn’t the first time I’ve messed up my homework this week (unusual for me), so I thought my teacher would be upset with me.

Thankfully she isn’t. She actually called it “extenuating circumstances” and is letting me not only redo it when I’m not stressed, but turn it and the self-assessment in next class (normally she doesn’t take any late homework).

All through the day, even after figuring everything out, I was feeling stressed and shaky. By the end of the day I decided I have the flu (confirmed by a low-grade fever). Headed home without redoing the interpretation like I wanted, and discovered that I had forgotten to put my parking permit on my mirror. That’s right, I had it in my car and just forgot to put it up--resulting in a ticket, of course.

On the way home I stopped to get a movie for tonight and retuned some Hollywood videos to Blockbuster Video.

Yeah. One of those days. But, I’m gonna forget about the loads of homework for now, like I always do on Thursdays (no classes on Fri), and go curl up with a movie and then go to bed early!

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Music of 2006

Music is important to me. It’s a big part of my relationship with God, a big part of…well, of my life as a whole. As I’ve been looking back over 2006, I’ve realized that I have a lot of memories attached to music, so I thought it would be fun to use that for my first blog post of the new year.

Aleluia, aleluia, aleluia, aleluia!
Aleluia, aleluia, aleluia, aleluia!

Last spring we had a family reunion in Mexico. One of the Sundays we were there we attended a church that was pastured by my dad’s best friend. Though most of us in the reunion group could not speak much Spanish, there was one thing that crossed the language barrier and drew us all into one family as we worshiped--music, especially the Hallelujah Chorus. I can close my eyes and still feel the goosebumps, hearing the mixed accents of voices raised to God…

God will make a way,
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.

The last few years I’ve been searching for what God wanted me to do now. As much as I like being able to work for Dad, I knew I didn’t want to do bookwork for the rest of my unmarried life. I applied for a few jobs, but was still a bit at a loss, not sure what to head toward, besides my writing, which wasn’t ready to support me.

Well, over the span of a couple of years, God began letting me know that He wanted me to become a sign language interpreter. There is an intensive program at a community collage about an hours drive from our house. However, it’s the top second or third in the nation, and difficult to get into. I knew that if I was accepted, it was only because that was where God wanted me.

I was accepted! Here I am, one semester into it, and loving it even if it is ever bit as hard as I was told it would be.

Ring around the rosy,
Pockets full of posy,
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down!

I have three nieces now, and what fun we have! One of the last times I was over there the four of us played Ring Around the Rosy and my youngest niece (1 ½ yo) learned to fall down in the right place for the first time. Each time I visit I teach the youngest a new sign language word and she remembers and uses them!

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign your name
to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You

I’ve had the honor of singing and signing on the worship team of our church. This is one of the songs we often do, and one line in particular has a double meaning for me. “I want to sign Your name to the end of each day”

Would you go with me if we were lost in fields of clover
Would we walk even closer until the trip was over
And would it be okay if I didn't know the way

I catch a ride to school a couple days a week with one of my classmates. She likes western music and I’ve found a couple favorites. This one brings back memories of hours of gnarled traffic and difficult homework fading away as the two of us belt, “Would you accompany me to the edge of the sea, Let me know if you're really a dream!”

Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the days.
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

My mom’s favorite movie is “Fiddler on the Roof”. We watch the movie a few times a year and listen to the soundtrack as often as possible. Some people have comfort foods. All I have to do to get that warm comfortable feeling is to hear any of the music and it imminently conjures up memories of all the ladies in my house singing and laughing together.

I know the plans that I have for you
Plans for good things and not for evil
If you put your trust in Me

I can only imagine what 2007 will bring. I know that Peculiar People’s first book will be published, perhaps even the second and third! I know I’ll work harder than ever at school. But what else? What other delights, trials, and joys will this year bring?

I don’t know. But I can’t wait to find out!

“God Will Make a Way” by Don Moen
“Lifesong” by Casting Crowns
“Would you Go With Me” by Josh Turner
“I Will Go Where You Go” by Elaine Califf