Monday, April 10, 2006

Travel Log -- Spring Babies

Last week we began with a trip to see baby chicks and bunnies at the local ranch supply store.

While I signed my fingers to the bone at the SEE conference this weekend, Larry and the kids played. First, they went to the Museum of the Rockies, home of the world's largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skull. MOR offers a planetarium with amazing movies, and hands-on exhibits for kids of all ages. They also have a pretty good Lewis and Clark outdoor exhibit, but L & C make me yawn. They are over-exposed. Anyway.

The next day, Larry and the kids went hiking with our dear friend Sharon, found a duck pond, picked me up and we all went out to Michael and Glenna Wood's horse farm. They raise quarterhorses and paints. Here's Olivia with Glenna and a three-day-old foal. Paul was napping and missed the whole thing, poor guy.

Today it was baby lambs at a sheep ranch 25 miles north of here.

Uh-huh. Today I'm feeling a little grateful to raise kids in this neck of the woods. Of course, it's spring. That helps. My memory of the harsh winter fades with the coming of spring. I forget those days of your nose freezing shut if you snuffle too hard, and hands chapping constantly, and having to plug in the car.

PS the pallor on Olivia's face is the remains of having her face painted like a dalmation at our spring party yesterday.

Novel Update

It's been reviewed, edited, re-reviewed. I've drafted a query letter, obsessed over the name and hyperventilated over the probability of colossal failure. So next week, likely, I will jump. My plan is to send queries out first to agents, then small and mid-size publishers, then vanity presses, and when they reject me, I'll self-publish. (Jokes.)

But seriously, it's a short coming out/coming of age novel about a boy whose life is seriously complicated by his alcoholic mother, and how he breaks out of all that. I'm not thinking that's a mainstream kind of a thing. The more conservative members of my extended family will shun me for even suggesting there a gay person might deserve peace and happiness. My mother will not approve, but she will still talk to me. Then comes the next hurdle: There's sex in it. Two paragraphs. Maybe I could put instructions in it: "Dear Mom, don't read page seven."

And then, there will the people going, Anne Bauer? Who the hell is Anne Bauer? She's not gay, so how could she possibly tell the story right?

All I can answer is this: I've loved men. I've felt a good deal of my life like an outsider passing for normal, afraid of being found out and exposed. I've researched and checked my work with people who do know. (Two of my gay friends said, "OMG, I'm surprised, but you got it right.")

I wrote it as it was given to me and I was as surprised as could be when Micheal turned out to be gay. When I tried to write stuff that didn't belong, I couldn't make it work. So, for better or worse, this is the story given to me at this time; this is what I will go forward with. If it's supposed to be helpful to somebody, it will find a home.


Who knew there were several sign languages? Jennifer's going deaf -- right now, 80% hearing in one, and 12% hearing in the other, and all indicators point south. Bilateral acoustic neuromas will do that.

So, we go to learn sign language, a challenge enough in itself for me, with my poor fine motor skills. But it's just not that simple. There are several sign languages, but the two main camps are: American Sign Language, the lingua franca of the deaf community, the cornerstone of deaf culture; and Signing Exact English (II), a language created to help deaf children better learn the written English language. (I'm sure I'm not explaining that right, but please feel free to help me out -- I'm new to the controversy.)

Seventy-five percent of the signs are the same. SEE uses affixes (prefixes and suffixes), articles, and conjunctions which ASL largely does not use, but depends on gestures and facial expressions accompanying the sign to achieve shades of meaning.

This weekend, Jennifer, Michelle (her mother), our mother, and I attended the SEE conference. I've never been to a better, more thought-out, professionally presented conference, btw. My brain spun, but I thought, "hey, I learned well over a hundred signs, I'm doing much better."

Then I went to Sign Club tonight, where we do ASL, and it turns out, most of what I learned this weekend didn't translate for the particular lessons we are supposed to learn this week and next. I hit that 25%.

I'll learn something or other. It took me a couple of years to learn to type, and two formal classes, but I did eventually learn. I'll learn this, too -- hopefully well enough to communicate with Jennifer by the time she needs me to. She got hearing aids today, and those may help.

Jennifer was sick this weekend, and still went to the conference. Saturday, I found her throwing up in the bathroom. She didn't ask for help. None of the women in the bathroom with her even knew she was yakking. I got her some water, class started back up, and we didn't hear a word about discomfort from her. She never complains. I love her, I admire her, and I hope sometime soon she lets loose and screams and bitches and rants.

Monday, April 03, 2006