Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fun at the Lane County Fair 2017

The Lane County Fair came back to town last week! This is an annual event taking place in Eugene every summer. And of course, we always go every summer! We always have so much fun at the fair and the ride bracelets that allow people to go on unlimited rides until 10 p.m. are definitely a huge plus! My kids always get excited about the fair and we usually plan our trip for it weeks in advance! We usually got to the fair on a weekend because my husband works evenings all week so we went yesterday. We got home late and I was too tired to upload the 95 pictures that I took at the fair but I did upload a few of them, shared a couple on Facebook and, of course, posted my Ferris Wheel picture on the Snapshot blog like I do every year.

Today I have more time to do computer stuff so I am now blogging about our fair experience this year.

Did I mention yet that we had a great time?? It was really so much fun. I didn’t go on any rides this year (just didn’t want to) but I still enjoyed my visit at the fair.

Unfortunately, it was hot when we got there. The temp was 92 degrees. It was hot and sunny. I got pretty sweaty walking around after a while. Even though I was drinking water, I was still pretty hot and even felt a little lightheaded. I started to wonder if I was having one of those hot flashes again or just hot! I kinda got nervous about feeling like this in the heat and felt a little sluggish. I tried to get in the shade whenever possible or sit down so that I wouldn’t fall down! Eventually, though, it cooled off and I felt better.

At first, I thought we would be splitting up – with Trevor going off on hir own or with hir dad and/or me with my husband and Jesse or just me with Jesse – but we did stay together as much as possible.  On the occasions the kids went in different directions, they each had a parent stay with them. I know that Trevor is almost 16 but I just didn’t want Trev to be alone. I didn’t feel good about that, though there WERE times Trevor was alone for brief periods of time. Except for Jesse, we used our cell phones to text each other and find out where everybody was at.

Many times as I stood in one area, I could feel music playing. I wasn’t sure if it was fair music or not and Trevor pointed out that there was a band performing nearby.

At one point, as I got up to follow the kids, Trevor got my attention and let me know that I had just walked right past a friend. I really hadn't seen her! I had walked right past her! I do that sometimes. I tend to walk or run right past people I know! As I talked with her, she seemed a little hurt that I hadn't seen her and I felt really bad about that later. Fortunately, though, I saw her again later (I DID see her that time! Yay!), and so I went over to talk to her and gave her a hugf. I hope that made things right and helped her feel better. (I am terrible at noticing and recognizing people. Ugh!)

Just like last year, we ate a big fast food lunch before attending the fair because the food there is expensive (we once spent $60 on our dinner there!!) but we do buy junk food like popcorn, cotton candy and all that stuff. I had my eye on one “fair food” treat, though: Fried ice cream. I had it one year and loved it. And after dealing with being so hot, I was definitely looking forward to eating some ice cream!! Jesse got some fried ice cream too but he didn’t really like it. He also got an Elephant Ear (like Trevor did) and he liked that, too. (The Elephant Ears are good, too!)

I wanted to take a pic with Jesse but as it got darker and later, it didn’t happen. So I settled for a selfie with him.

Jesse won two toy prizes in games he played at the fair but he also got a Batman fidget spinner. I bought a Guns N Roses T-shirt. My husband asked why, since I’m deaf, I bought a band shirt. I explained that I was familiar with a couple of their songs before I lost all of my hearing. (Thanks to the movie Young Guns!) And, besides, a Guns N Roses clothing item is on my wish list. So, I was happy to get the shirt and I can cross that off my list!

Here are some of the pictures that I took at the fair. We really had a lot of fun and can’t wait to attend next year! I think next year, I will bring along extra water.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is there pizza in my future?

Recently, I saw an “On this day” post on Facebook in which I excitedly announced that I FINALLY had a new writing gig. This after months of trying to find a new one. That made me feel sad all over again because that supposed “gig” turned out to be a scam. It was NOT a good thing because I was – and still am – desperate for work. For ANY kind of job, really. I have been trying to get a new job or gig for over 2 years (I think it’s 3 years now?) and I am growing increasingly frustrated with every single rejection. I have applied for jobs and gone to interviews – all for nothing. On Sunday, I applied for two jobs and, on Monday, got an email from HR at one of those jobs to call and arrange for an interview. Because I am deaf, I use Internet relay (through Sprint). So when I called using relay, they said they needed to speak with me directly. I explained that I am deaf and must use relay for phone calls. (Relay involves another person to relay messages back and forth.) They said they’d let the top HR person know and they’d get back to me. They haven’t yet. They probably won't. And last night, I told my husband about this (he is also deaf) and he said they probably won’t be contacting me. I HAD told them I am deaf when I applied for the job – did they miss that note? But he said I would be too much of a liability for them and they’d get sued if something went wrong only because of my being deaf.

So once again, my deafness was a problem for me getting a job. Oh, sure. We’d all like to promote the idea that a deaf person can still be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do despite being deaf, but the reality is that it is Very Hard to get a job in today’s world if you are deaf. I know this so well. One lady told me she would have hired me if I had been able to communicate over the phone.

Discrimination against the deaf is alive and well, people. Especially in the workplace.

And of course, I have always wondered if there were other factors that prevented me from getting a job. Was it because of my limited work experience? (I have spent most of my adult life working from home.) The third degree burn scars on my face and left arm? The limited physical use of my left hand? Or my lack of a college degree? Or because I am only available for part-time work? Or because I’m from California??

Whatever the reasons were, I have not given up in my attempt to get a job. But it has gotten to the point where I feel like I will be filling out job applications for all of eternity! It’s almost a joke now, really. And sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time because I’ll just be told “no” again.

But I am too stubborn to quit. I may have obstacles in my path, but I’m the kind of person to work around obstacles. I don’t run away and cry and go “Boo-hoo! Poor me!” No, I keep going despite the obstacles and find another way to get things done.

But all of this struggling to get a job has made me sometimes wonder if I should just go into business for myself. I have read of other people facing these same exact struggles that I have faced and they found success striking out on their own.

So, maybe I should try doing that, too? Do something on my own? My own business?

I HAVE thought about this a lot for a long time. I have even had several ideas for different things to do. Different careers or different business ideas. Heck, I even thought about becoming an inventor! But all of those ideas eventually got shot down. I would spend time thinking about them, weighing the pros and cons and thinking long-term with these types of jobs and businesses. And nothing really seemed like a right fit.

This morning, though, an idea popped into my head, and the more I thought about it later in the day, the more I began to think maybe it could work.

As I drove my teen to work this morning, an idea for a pizza place popped into my head. That’s right: Pizza! But not just your average pizza. I had ideas for specialty pizzas. Of course, there’d be the standard pizzas: Pepperoni, supreme, and my kids’ favorite, cheese pizza. But I had ideas for different kinds of pizzas made with different kinds of ingredients. And by the time I arrived at my teen’s work, I had an entire menu in my head. As soon as I was parked, I grabbed my phone and started typing it all down. I got ideas for more things to add to that menu on the drive back. (The drive is an hour and fifteen minutes long!)

The thing of it is, though, I’m not much for making pizzas. I have only made one homemade pizza and it didn’t turn out very well. However, I have also made one of these specialty pizzas that I have on my menu, and it was really good.

What I liked about this idea is its uniqueness. If you want to stand out in a competitive market, you HAVE to be unique. You have to offer something new and something that is a personal style.

When I got home, I told my son about this idea and I showed him the menu I had typed up. He thought it was interesting.

At first, though, I thought, Nah, I don’t want to open my own pizza place. I am not good at making pizzas!

Well, maybe I can LEARN?? Maybe I can get training for it?? Maybe if I try making pizzas more often, then I’d get better at it? Especially these kinds of pizzas. Maybe.

Well, it’s something to think about. I really don’t have anything else going on for me work-wise. Maybe starting my own thing is the answer. Maybe that’s what I need to do. It’s something to think about.

At first, I wanted to throw away that menu. It’s probably too crazy of an idea. But now I’m thinking that maybe I should just hold onto it. Just in case. Maybe one day,  this will be the direction that I end up going in.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Touch-A-Truck 2017

Today was the Touch-A-Truck show. This is a free public event in which people get to see, climb inside of and basically "touch" trucks they don't usually get access to. The trash truck, mail truck and fire engine are popular mainstays but this year they also included the police SWAT truck as well as a major police riot vehicle. Trevor was too tired from work to go so I just took Jesse. He was mainly interested in the police and military vehicles. He also could not stay away from the big Pepsi truck. He kept going back to that one! He also got to meet Officer Rob Griesel and the K9 Blek.

Here are the pictures that I took.

Unknown truck.

 Pepsi truck.


"10-4, good buddy."

Logging vehicle.

Police SWAT vehicle.

Meeting Officer Griesel and K9 Blek.
Another police vehicle (not sure what it's called).

Eugene recreational bus.

Mail van.

Trash truck.

Military vehicle.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Today is the three-month deathversary of when we lost Rowena, my teenager’s pet rat. Exactly one month after Rowena died, however, we welcomed a new member to our family.

However, this new particular member of the family was sort of unexpected!

Ever since my dog, Chewbacca, died, we have made it a point to get a new dog or cat. My son desperately wants a Pug, but so far, we have not been able to get him one. We almost adopted a cat, but we couldn’t get matters situated in time before someone else adopted him.

Since I am all for animal rescue, I keep my eyes out for the chance to save an animal in need of a new home. In fact, if I had it my way, my home would be an animal sanctuary for unwanted or abandoned pets. Hey, a girl can dream! But for now, I have to keep it low-key, and that means replacing the pet that we had lost. Actually, two pets were now gone. The losses were sort of getting to us.

And that’s why I think it was providence that a new animal was brought into our lives exactly one month after we lost the second one. That animal was Smokey.

For some time, I had heard about Smokey in the neighborhood. My friend knew Smokey’s owner and my friend also occasionally cared for Smokey. Smokey is an American shorthair cat and his previous owners did not take very good care of him. They ended up abandoning him after they moved. My friend took care of Smokey, who had to live outside because she’d already reached her pet limit at her apartment, but she wanted to rehome him so that he would have his own official home. Also, my friend is planning to move, so she and her daughter worried about Smokey being taken care of after they left.

I expressed interest in taking in Smokey, but my husband needed convincing first. He wasn’t sure if it was a good idea since we are also planning to move. I know that moving is a difficult experience for a pet, but I felt Smokey would have enough time to adjust with us as his new family and get used to us before we move. So it was decided that we would take Smokey.

Unfortunately, we were not yet prepared for a cat. I had NO cat stuff at all. When we had a dog, he was with us for 21 years. I have not been a cat owner since the early 1990’s. All of my previous cat stuff was long gone. Also, we were not financially capable of going out to get cat stuff. In our hearts, we were ready to welcome Smokey, but we were not ready for him financially!

I told my friend and she took action. She placed a call-out to people in the neighborhood to help us out in being able to give Smokey what he needed in his new home. Litter boxes, cat litter, cat food and even beds were donated to us for Smokey. They even donated toys and a collar! I was very touched by this communal generosity. This definitely made it easier for us to take Smokey then and there! (Thank you again, everyone!)

Of course, there was also one other thing I worried about: Smokey’s previous owners coming back and looking for him. I had not heard good things about them and also that they may be violent. So I was pretty nervous about being the one to “take their cat” after they had abandoned him. (I must confess: I had once abandoned my own cat. I have felt guilty about this ever since. But I would be happy if someone had taken my own cat in and kept him as their own. In some way, I saw my taking in an abandoned cat as absolution for abandoning one. I am NOT happy about this part of my past. I used to be a rotten person and I know I did several bad things in the past that I am not proud of. I have never again abandoned an animal since. Even so, I have never forgiven myself for this.) But, fortunately, Smokey's previous owners never showed up. Seriously, I spent the first couple of months expecting to hear that they were back in town looking for Smokey. I held my breath and expected that we’d have to surrender him back to his previous owners. But now it has been three months and I am starting to breathe easier and feel that they are not going to come back for Smokey. Now I even feel brave enough to post about him on my blog.

When we first got Smokey, he was really edgy around us. He spent A LOT of time in his carrier and he wasn’t very trusting of us, either. The slightest noise made him jump. We had to be careful not to be too loud around him because he got scared easily. There was one time he even got out and ran off. That was hard; my son was in tears because he just loved Smokey. But, fortunately, Smokey came back, and a friend said maybe this means that Smokey knows this is his home now.

Later on, he felt more comfortable around us. He started to spend more time around us and out of his carrier. We would give him lots of treats and made sure he always had plenty of food and water. My son made him a cat box and we also got him a cat tower. We got him other toys and, when his neck wound from a fight with a neighborhood cat was healed, we put on his collar. He HATED the collar at first and I wondered if his refusal to wear it was his intention to keep himself a “free cat.” But he gradually accepted wearing the collar and stopped tearing it off.

Now Smokey is happily settled in with his new family. We love him a lot and give him lots of attention. He is very attached to my oldest and my oldest even wants to take Smokey with hir when ze goes off to college. (Ha!) I have taken lots of pictures of Smokey and my son even made a video of Smokey playing with his fidget spinner. Smokey has certainly adjusted well to his new family and new home and I am very grateful that we were able to take him in.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Singing on the road

Last week was the first official week that my teen started hir first job. It is a summer job, but it’s still a real, official job all the same. The job is located a ways past Blue River, Oregon, but we call the trip out there driving out to Blue River because it’s like only one other city we have to drive into before we get to the official job site. (I’m not really sure on the name. LOL I know, that’s stupid. I know we go into a town called “Rainbow” but then when we get to hir place of employment, the address identifies the city by a different name!) But we use Blue River as the mark for our trip. Trevor starts eating breakfast after we pull into Blue River, so that’s how it is for us with this trip. Blue River is the city we keep an eye out for.

Oh, and it’s over an hour away! Actually, it’s like an hour and fifteen minutes away. We drive through several cities to get there. And we drive up on a mountain. It is a VERY scenic route! I have to take a freeway and a very long highway to get there! I spent some time last week taking pictures while driving to and from there and sharing them on Facebook.

We have to leave for the trip at 5:30 in the morning so that Trevor can get to work on time. Because of this, I had to create a new weekly schedule. The new schedule calls for me getting up at 4 a.m. Monday through Friday. Trevor gets up at 4:30 to get ready for work and the trip.

So, yeah, both of us are pretty tired on the trip. I have a cup of coffee before I leave and fill my travel mug with more coffee. (Trevor drinks hot chocolate.) Trevor sometimes sleeps on the way to hir job. I, on the other hand, cannot sleep. I have to stay awake for the drive there AND the drive home. Even so, I have still been tired and sleepy while doing all of that driving. That COULD be a problem.

I have been trying different things to stay awake for the trip: Rolling down my window, not wearing my jacket (it gets COLD out there!), counting in Spanish (my Spanish is a little rusty so this can be a challenge), slapping my face, blinking rapidly, shaking my head and even driving fast. None of those things were very effective and I didn’t feel too good about that last one. It’s dangerous to drive fast on that highway! There are lots of twists and turns. I don’t want to go flying off the mountain!

Then I tried something else. I remember how, during the many times we were on the road when I was a kid, my siblings and I would sing to pass the time. As I got older and my deafness became more profound (and THEN I couldn’t wear a hearing aid anymore), I started to grow away from my love for music and singing. I stopped singing so often. Sometimes I sang lullabies to my kids, and sometimes when I couldn’t sleep I would lie in bed and silently sing, but that is about it.

So I gave this a try – but I didn’t actually sing at first. What I did first was just play songs in my head. That didn’t work out very well. Then I silently sang songs to myself. That worked better!

Then one day, on the way out there, my son noticed my silent singing. (My son rides with me on the trip to pick Trevor up from work.) He asked what I was doing and I explained to him that I was silently singing songs to myself because it helps me to stay awake. He said I wasn’t singing, I was just mouthing the words. I told him it was LIKE singing for me, because the song was playing in my head and I sang along with it. Then I joked that he really wouldn’t want to hear me actually sing because my voice probably sounds terrible. (I don’t really know how my voice sounds. I can’t hear it! I used to sing at school in chorus and also in Sunday School but I haven’t used my voice for singing for a very long time.)

But I was thinking about what he said. Later, I asked Trevor about it. Was it so terrible to mouth the words to a song?? Trevor told me there’s nothing wrong with it and people do it all the time.

This actually made me feel better. And, hey, I always felt happy when I was silently singing along to a song. I LOVE singing so much. In fact, I used to want to be a singer. My sister, Elizabeth, and I wanted to start our own band when we were teenagers! It just makes me feel good and I enjoy singing.

But I thought even more about it. And, later, I felt brave enough to actually sing in the van as I drove home one day. I had my window down, sure, but I didn’t care if anybody heard me! I was gonna sing!

This has actually worked even better in keeping me awake for these long drives.

But in the afternoons, when I’m driving there and back to pick Trevor up, I’m not brave enough to sing in front of my kids. I have not gotten to that point yet. And anyway, maybe it’s better that I don’t. I sing old songs. Not new songs, though my kids have TRIED to introduce me to them, but old songs. Songs I grew up hearing and singing. Songs I know the words and music to.

Songs I knew before I became deaf.

In a way, singing these songs, and playing them in my head, has helped me to remember them. I can’t listen to them anymore, so I have to rely on my memory on what kind of tune a song had, what kind of music it had, and what the lyrics were. Sometimes I have to go back to read the lyrics to help me remember a song again, but if I can’t remember the music for it, it’s very hard to remember the song itself if I only know the lyrics. I have to know the WHOLE sing. Remember all of it.

That said, these are the songs I sing on the road or that I’ll be mouthing or have playing in my head that I remember the words and music to:

“Heaven” by Bryan Adams

“Sister Christian” by Night Ranger

“It’s a Long Road” by Dan Hill

“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

“The Search is Over” by Survivor

“What About Love?” by Heart

“These Dreams” by Heart

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Jack and Diane” John Cougar Mellencamp

“Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers

“Soul to Squeeze” by RHCP

“Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon

“In My Dreams” by REO Speedwagon

“All Through the Night” by Cyndi Lauper

“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship

"We Built This City" by Starship

"Sara" by Starship

"Beat It" by Michael Jackson

"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson

"Thriller" by Michael Jackson

“Inside” by Ronnie Milsap

“Any Day Now” by Ronnie Milsap

“In the Still of the Night” by Ronnie Milsap

“It Was Almost Like a Song” by Ronnie Milsap

“I Love Rock N Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

These are the songs I’d sing or have playing in my head IF I remembered the words and music (some I know from when I had a hearing aid):

“Unforgiven” by Metallica

“Sad But True” by Metallica

“Enter Sandman” by Metallica

“St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr

"Come As You Are" by Nirvana

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana

"Lithium" by Nirvana

"We Will Rock You" by Queen

"Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

"Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen

"Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen

"Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

“Never Surrender” by Corey Hart

“Take On Me” by A-Ha

“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

“Queen of Hearts” by Juice Newton

It may be unusual for a deaf person to be singing, but I wasn’t born deaf. I have a voice and I did hear songs before I lost my hearing (I became deaf from meningitis). And, well, I’m an unusual kind of person. I don’t fit into any mold. So maybe it’s not so terrible for a deaf person to be singing. Used to be I got to a point where I shunned music and everything associated with it because “I’m deaf” and it’s not part of my world. But it’s a part of my past. It’s the person I used to be. And I have realized that it’s okay to let this person who sang and loves music out of her shell every once in a while. Even if I get criticism from the Deaf community for using my voice and not signing and indulging in something that “you need to be able to hear” to be a part of. Well, I’m doing this in my own way. And if the Deaf community hates on me for that, screw ‘em! I am used to having haters. Haters ain’t gonna stop me from doing what I have to do in life and what I WANT to do in life. Haters gonna hate! Let them hate. I don’t care. 

And, hey, if this is something that helps me to stay awake while I’m driving on a long road, it works for me. And I’ll do it.