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Friday, July 30, 2010

Flowers for Friday: Hibiscus Hues

Hooray! My hibiscus are in bloom.
Look at all the hues my hibiscus have:

Pink hibiscus

White hibiscus

Pale pink hibiscus

Hot pink hibiscus

Burgundy hibiscus
Do you wonder what made the hole in this one?

This little beetle is to blame!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Calendar Garden

Entrance to DeFries Gardens, New Paris, Indiana
I visited here with friends this past weekend.

July blossoms

More summer flowers.

The garden layout as seen from the observation tower.

Each day of the year is marked on a brick along the circular
pathway. We enjoyed spotting our birthdays as we walked around.

Most sections of the calendar garden weren't in bloom.

Cone flowers

Black-Eyed Susans

Waterlilies in the center of the garden

An interesting tree stump.

I can just imagine this toad croaking, "Ya'll come back now!"
Indeed, I want to visit here again during other seasons of the year.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Librarians Do Gaga

I was catching up on email today and noticed two different librarian friends had sent this to me. I finally took the time to watch it. I am not all that familiar with Lady Gaga and her music so probably some of it was lost on me. Hope you get a kick out of it.

This video is captioned. Unfortunately I have had trouble embedding it on my blog. If you are unable to access the captions here, try viewing it on YouTube here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My New Measure for Success

Sometimes inspiration can be found in the littlest things. Like a refrigerator magnet. I spent the weekend at a dear friend's new home and was intrigued to find the following thought in her kitchen.

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

I was unfamiliar with this quote. The magnet attributed it to Emerson, but apparently there's some question as to whether he was the actual author or if it was composed by Bessie Stanley instead.

I really like the emphasis on relationship with others as the basis for success rather than individual achievement. Service rather than accomplishment or accumulation of material wealth.

What do you think?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Flowers for Friday: Perennials and 2 Surprises




Tiger lily


Surprise #1 We didn't plant anything in our deck boxes
this spring, but blossoms have appeared anyways!

Surprise #2 A morning glory has entwined itself along our garden hose.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Finger Spelling Inspired Art Project

While I'm on the subject of crafts, I wanted to share this picture my son made at school this year. His assignment was to create a picture featuring his hands. He chose to illustrate finger spelling in a colorful, fun way. For anyone unfamiliar with ASL, the hands below are spelling out R-U-S-T-Y, the name of our dog, from the perspective of the person signing.

Yes, I know the Y is shown sideways - most likely because he ran out of room on the paper but perhaps it could be artistic license.

My son had never mentioned this assignment to me so it was a wonderful surprise to find it among the many art projects he brought home at the end of the year. I plan to keep this one and perhaps even frame it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kym, Here's My Needlework

This stamped cross-stitch hangs in my kitchen and greets all my friends who come in through the back door. It took me more than 10 years to finish. Not because the design was difficult, but life events got in the way of my good intentions.

I think I bought this crewel project at the same time as I bought the welcome cross-stitch one above. If it looks familiar to you, I wrote about it once before on this blog post about my kitchen.

I bought this counted cross-stitch sampler to make as a gift for a college boyfriend's parents who were farmers. Alas, the relationship was finished before the project so I kept it. It also hangs in my kitchen where it coordinates with my black/white checkerboard tile floor.

This sampler was the second cross-stitch project I ever sewed. Afterwards, I vowed never to do counted cross-stitch again (where you work from a blank canvas and a pattern on a separate paper). I haven't stuck to that promise but that's definitely the most difficult project I've ever attempted.

I suggested this counted cross-stitch design I found on the internet as a Christmas gift my son could make for my parents. It was his first (and possibly last) time to cross-stitch but he did complete the project. I liked it so much that I decided to make one for myself. This pattern was originally for a bookmark but I think it looks great in the larger size. I keep it prominently displayed in the kitchen for those times I feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

As the post title indicates, I created this blog entry with Kym in mind. She had recently expressed surprise that I liked to do needlework. I wrote her back promising to post these photos. When I went to take the photos however, I realized that most all of my recent projects have been gifts that I have given away. Two of them are pictured on this post.

Currently I'm in the middle of making the stamped cross-stitch design above for a good friend of mine. I thought you might like to see a project in progress. To me it looks as though it could use a good ironing. This is a small project that is going very quickly. I hope to give it to her soon.

Does anyone else like to cross-stitch?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Craft Fun

While I was in the craft store with my friend the other day, this bright yellow sun caught my eye. For some time now, I've been wanting to create a craft to display in my downstairs bathroom during the summer. I've had that itch because I have a craft I put on display there during the winter months. It spells out SNOW with a snowman made out of the O. I got it along with matching hand towels at Target. I was sure I could make something myself if I found the right materials. When I found the word Celebrate and the flip flops, I decided to give it a try.

This craft was easy to make. All I had to do was paint the word Celebrate and glue the other pieces to it. I chose to use two colors for Celebrate because it would make a nice effect with the mirror reflection. In the photo below you can see how it looks in the bathroom. I find it really brightens my mood to see it. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who's in Control of the Canoe?

Recently I took my teenage son to an early evening Campfire and Canoe event at a nearby reservoir. For the first hour, we received instruction on canoeing and water safety from two parks department employees. Then we donned life jackets and selected our paddles. Gathered at the water’s edge, we got a quick lesson on the basic strokes we would need to maneuver our canoes. Then we were launched. And that’s when the fun began.

On the beach our guides had recommended that the heavier person or the person with more canoeing experience should be seated in the stern (back) of the canoe to steer it. Based on those criteria, the choice for us was obvious. I sat in that position because I had canoed before (more than a quarter of a century ago) and I outweigh my son.

We started out fine but quickly went off course directly into some fishermen’s lines. Oops. I was shouting out directions to my son that I thought were helpful “Paddle left. No, no. Paddle right. Now!” At the same time he was yelling guidance back at me. Since I wasn't wearing my hearing aids for this activity, I had told him to raise his voice at me.

With our inexperience canoeing together, we kept veering off course. Straight into rocks, a buoy, and other hazards. One of the park guides helpfully hovered nearby in her canoe to offer us encouragement and advice. Meanwhile the other eight canoes were heading off to the far reaches of the reservoir. I felt embarrassed. My son was exasperated. At one point he laid his paddles across his lap and announced that I could just paddle the canoe all by myself.

The guide suggested we trade places. It was her observation that my son’s strokes were stronger than mine and that he would do better in the leadership role. I’m sure she was right on that. But I had a huge fear of trading places while on the water. I was sure we would tip our canoe if we tried it. This had happened to me before and I was determined to stay dry that night. We tried coming in close to shore to make the switch but naturally ended up headed towards the middle of the reservoir instead. Secretly, that was fine with me as I really didn’t want to risk overturning the canoe.

At that point, my son told me he would paddle the canoe on his own. Doing that seemed to work a whole lot better for us. Every once in a while I would dip my paddle in to help steer right or left but he provided the main power for our voyage. With the pressure off, I began to relax and take in my surroundings. The sun was starting to set and it was very peaceful on the water. I gently put my paddle back in the water. Now that we weren’t trying so hard, my son and I were able to paddle together in rhythm. We caught up to the other canoes and even paddled over to the far side to see a beaver dam.

All too soon it was time to head back. We did just fine until I got a bit anxious about our ability to reach the shore without hitting any of the other incoming canoes. My son reasserted his authority and took over the paddling once more. Thankfully, we managed to beach our canoe without any collisions. We were dry and still speaking to each other. Well, sort of. My son announced that next time he would go out on the water in a kayak - a boat for one person.

Next, the park guides graciously hosted a campfire with hot dogs and s’mores for everyone. This improved my son’s mood immensely. Before leaving, we were asked to fill out an evaluation card. I was happy to give the park guides excellent ratings. But when I came to the question about whether this was an enjoyable experience, my son forced me to be honest on our rating. To explain the lower score, I wrote an apologetic note explaining “my son gave me a hard time”. Somehow I’m sure they’ll know whose card that was. Ha, ha.

Actually I can’t wait to go back but I think I’ll go canoeing with someone else. Or perhaps I'll convince my son to give it another try. Either way, I can guarantee you I’ll be sitting in the bow (front).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Amazon Adventure

This week a group from Hear the World is exploring the Amazon in Peru. Phonak and Global Explorers teamed up to offer this first Hear the World Expedition. Here's a quote from their flyer:
The acoustical environment of the Peruvian Amazon is a complex symphony exploding with life where one's ability to listen is increasingly magnified. The capacity to hear is a fundamental part of life many take for granted; yet one in every six people worldwide is affected by hearing loss...

Full-time students ages 17-22 with or without hearing loss were eligible to participate. Accompanying them is Bill Barkley, the keynote speaker of the 2010 HLAA Convention. Previously Bill traveled to Africa and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Hear the World. This would be an amazing feat for anyone but even more so when you consider that Bill has Usher's Syndrome, a leading cause of deaf-blindness.

The travelers departed July 8th for Lima, Peru and will return home July 17th. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers that they will have an amazing adventure and stay safe.

In the fall the group will complete service projects where they tell their own stories. In the meantime you can follow along with the group by reading their expedition journal complete with sound clips and photos. You can also get to know the students on the expedition team by reading about them here. You can also read the group's Facebook updates (even if you don't have an account) here.

What a wonderful way to spread the word about hearing loss. I'm so proud of every one of them for committing to this incredible adventure.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Photo Fun for Friday: London Waterfowl and Pelicans

We saw the swans while walking along the Serpentine River in Hyde Park with Liz and Richard. The geese, duck, and pelicans we saw in St. James Park.

This concludes my series of posts on London.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Traveling in London with Hearing Loss

My trip to London last month was the first time I had traveled abroad since being fitted with hearing aids. Visiting a foreign country always provides challenges and I honestly wondered how my hearing loss would affect my ability to communicate and participate in all the activities I had planned. The good news is that I did just fine! Everyone I dealt with in London was courteous to me and no one from salesclerks to train ticket sellers refused to repeat what I missed. Of course, I had my son with me who has normal hearing. But as it turned out, the British accent was nearly indecipherable for him. I actually understood people better than he did!

At our hotel, we were happy to discover that our room’s television had captions (see photo above). They were easily activated by a clearly marked button on the remote. It was funny to us that my son needed the captions just as much as I did. We really enjoyed watching the programs that were on in the evening. In my opinion, the British captions were better than the captions I’ve experienced at home in regards to their accuracy and timing. My English friends were surprised to hear that assessment. Of course it was based on a limited sampling of programming.

Many of the trains in London had captions posted for every announcement made on the loudspeaker including the names of stops and information about connecting trains. This was extremely helpful. I remember during my previous trips to London (even before knowing of my hearing loss) having to keep a watchful eye on the tube station map on the train car wall and a lookout for the station walls to see the names of each stop we made, always being careful to keep track of the number of remaining stops. Having the captions on the train helped me to relax and feel confident that I would disembark at the right station.

Deaf people get a discounted price for tickets to the royal palaces. Deafinitely Girly told me this so I decided to ask for the discount when we visited Hampton Court. By simply pointing to my hearing aids, I was admitted with a student priced ticket and my son as “my carer” got in free. That was great for my wallet at the ticket office, but I did find it a bit embarrassing when we were at the Maze entry and someone asked which one of us was the carer. I pointed to my son and said “He is” with a little roll of my eyes. It was ironic because inside the maze my carer took off and left me to my own devices. When he despaired of my EVER finding my way out, he did come in and find me, though, so I guess he was a good carer after all.

I flew over and returned on American Airlines. There were several movie options to watch on the personal screen attached to the back of the passenger’s seat in front of me. Unfortunately, none of them were captioned. Not even the foreign films which were all presented in English. I tried watching movies but even with the volume turned up to the max, I could not understand the dialog over the sound of the plane’s engines. Sigh…I wrote an email to American Airlines about it after I returned.

I received the following reply:
We are in receipt of your email regarding the lack of closed captioning video presentations aboard our aircraft. I must say you raise an issue to which we have given much thought.

Although we do have a few large viewing screens on some aircraft, the majority of customers viewing video presentations do so on smaller bulkhead or ceiling-mounted screens (a necessity if customers toward the front or rear of a cabin are to have any chance at comfortable viewing), as well as personal video monitors installed in individual first class seats and portable media players distributed to customers in our business and first class cabins on International and Transcon flights. While these arrangements extend our "reach" throughout the aircraft, there are obvious limitations on screen size in all these examples. Because we have limited ability from a logistical standpoint to assure that passengers requiring captioning will always be seated in a particular area of the aircraft, we would have to provide captioning on all screens. Providing legible captioning forces a reduction in picture size to unacceptably small dimensions for all passengers.

Open-captioning is another option; but because current video architecture allows only for an "all-or-nothing" system on board, we effectively return to square one. Another disadvantage to this option is that open-captioned movies are typically unavailable in such a format until three to six months after the uncaptioned version is on the market. Still another factor with captioning of any kind is the inability to provide more than one translation on international flights; we currently provide dual language audio translations in such cities.

In addition, thank you for feedback about our Customer Relations email form on Since it's a standard form and we might need to follow up with a passenger by phone, the form is set up to require a phone number. However, if you prefer or require a response in writing, simply letting us know (as you've done) is appreciated.

We do appreciate your interest in these matters and the spirit in which you wrote. We pledge to continue our monitoring of available technology in this area and thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts.

Readers, what has been your experience with traveling with hearing loss?

London: Meeting Deafinitely Girly

I hope all of you are regular readers of Deafinitely Girly. I find her blog fun to read because of her wonderful sense of humor. She has an extremely active social life and everyone in her life has a descriptive nickname in her blog posts.

I was thrilled when she agreed to meet us at our hotel for dinner one evening. There was one small problem. I didn’t have any idea what she looked like. Deafinitely Girly is very careful about her privacy and doesn’t post any photos of herself on her blog. Fortunately, when we stepped off the elevator and walked towards the hotel lobby, she was waiting for us and cried out a welcoming, “Sarah!!!!!”

We had a wonderful time at dinner. We were able to communicate exceptionally well. DG doesn’t wear hearing aids. She relies on lipreading. Naturally, I always faced her when speaking and enunciated clearly. My son did not. I found myself interpreting for her what he said - when I could understand him myself, that is. He really enjoyed DG’s company and talked a mile a minute earning himself the moniker “The Chatterbox” on her blog post about our meeting.

I enjoyed learning more about DG’s work life and her experiences in the local deaf community. She’s a great conversationalist and I could have listened to her for hours. It was difficult to say goodbye after dinner. We sat in the lobby and talked more and even posed for some photos - which you won’t see here because I gave her my word on that. When it was time to part, she said, “I wished you lived in the same country as me!” and gave me a great big hug.
I knew I had made a friend for life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spreading Seeds of Faith, Hope, and Love

Blowing seeds
Blowing Seeds by Es' Factory

I was thrilled this week to receive an email from my aunt that said in part,
Dear Sarah,
I am sending you this email to show you what I did with your recent blog. You can see, I sent it on to the adult Bible class I teach at our church...The folks loved getting the song. It really did come to my mind shortly afterwards when we learned of the death of an elderly lady...whose whole life was one of seasons of love. So, Miss Sarah, you never know how far-reaching your influence is...

I'm so happy to know that encouragement I received from a friend and shared here on my blog was spread even further in the world.

I've always believed in my heart that my role in life is to be an encourager. To care about people and help them feel better no matter what situation they find themselves in. I'm an unrelenting optimist who always holds out hope for a better tomorrow. At least for others. Sometimes I'm not so positive about my own situation. I am learning the importance of encouraging myself when necessary.

Faith, hope, and love are three powerful words in the lexicon of encouragement. Here is what they mean to me. Faith is a belief beyond what I am able to perceive with my senses. At one very dark place in my life, this word came into my mind and I clung to it like a life preserver. When all else was gone, faith remained. Some people feel that faith can be lost. For me my faith is like Play-Doh. It can be stretched and shaped and changed over time, but it's still Play-Doh.

Hope is a belief in the power of change. I don't know why I'm an eternal optimist. Many people say I look through "rose-colored glasses" and don't have a realistic view. But I have seen people change. I've seen healing and I've seen broken relationships repaired. Not in every situation but enough times for me to hold out hope that it can happen again.

Love is a two way street. For me, it is easier to give love than to receive it. I find it hard to think of myself as "lovable" but I'm working on that. I'm starting to realize there are more people who love me than those who don't (and yes, there are people like that in my life.) I'm starting to value the opinion of the people who love me more and not define my self worth by the others. I am able to love others because I look for the good in them. Even when it's hard to see.

Readers, if there are any words on my blog, that you find of personal encouragement and you would like to pass them on to others, you have my blessing. My aunt credited me for sharing the song with her and I appreciate that. Receiving credit is nice and something I try to do on my blog when using words or images from other sites (see photo above as an example). Together let's spread some faith, hope, and love around our world.

Friday, July 2, 2010

An Echo in My Ear

Since Wednesday night, I've been experiencing an echo in my left ear. For the last week and a half I've had an upper respiratory infection. On the weekend I had a very bad nosebleed. I think this is what has led to this new symptom. It is so annoying. I made an appointment with an ENT doctor but I can't get in for 3 weeks. Have you ever experienced this or known someone who has? Any ideas on what I should do until I get in to the doctor?

Update - Thanks to the power of Facebook, I had a friend contact me with the name of an ENT who might be able to see me sooner. I made an appointment for 2 weeks time. While talking with the receptionist, she said my problem is very common and is probably due to fluid in the Eustachian tube. Just hearing that reassurance made me feel much better.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

London: Meeting Tina (Funny Old Life)

While in London, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Tina aka Funny Old Life. We met on a Sunday afternoon at the Imperial War Museum. I chose this venue because I knew my son would be well entertained exploring the museum on his own while I had a chat with Tina.

I met Tina at the museum's front entrance. I already knew what she looked like from photos and that she'd be accompanied by her service dog, Smudge so it was no trouble to spot her. We went inside to the museum's cafe for a snack where Smudge was a big hit with the other patrons, young and old alike. He was very well behaved settling down on the floor while Tina and I talked.

As you may know if you read Tina's blog I Look So I Can Hear, she got a cochlear implant this spring. I was interested to learn more about how she is doing with it and getting to know her better in general. The two of us were able to communicate quite well. Occasionally we used a notepad when we couldn't understand each other but part of that was due to the different ways we use our common language English. For example, did you know that "getting the mickey out" means to make fun of someone?

After awhile, we left the cafe and visited a tranquil Tibetan peace garden located on the museum grounds. Smudge got to remove his little coat that marks him as a service dog and run free off leash. Soon he met up with another doggie that looked exactly like him but a bit bigger. The two dogs had quite a lot of fun exploring together.

Tina had some interesting stories to tell about her experiences with Smudge. The scariest was that he had recently fallen off the tube station platform. Yikes. The funniest stories were the ones where people misunderstood Smudge's capabilities. For example, once when Tina asked a man for directions, he bent down and told them to Smudge instead of her!

I really enjoyed hearing Tina talk about her interest in photography. It was marvelous to get to know her better and our time together was all too short. I truly hope our paths will cross again. Until then, we'll be keeping in touch online.

If you'd like to know more about Smudge, check out his blog Just Smudge.