29 November 2005

education is priceless

by Cecily
Here are 3 sentences from my homework. No I did not make them up. I'll let you know if I got an A or not.

Jim married the librarian who always wears her hair in curlers.

Put the tofu that made Jim choke in the garbage that is in the corner.

The squirrel that I saw attack a little old lady threw an acorn at me!

28 November 2005

heavy cloud no rain

by Cecily
The problem is not actually the weather. The problem is my muddled psychological reaction to said weather. Regardless, about a month ago, Washington, DC turned into Portland, OR.

It's all in my head, I realize this- I'm in school again so I only notice the insanely cloudy weather. Saturday, for example, was lovely. Sunny, clear, not a cloud in the sky. That day went in one ear and out the other (I'll give a dollar to whoever can think of a better metaphor for that. It shouldn't be hard.)

Weather is like astrology; you only remember it when it fits your preconceptions.

Anyway now it's all cloudy again, the same way it was cloudy for FOUR STRAIGHT YEARS when I was an undergrad. This is my memory of college: uninterrupted dreariness. Back then I would usually go to the library or the computer lab all day every day so the weather of the outside world didn't really impact my existance. Now I do all my homework in my house, and I can tell how cloudy it is because my house has windows.

I get really irritated when it's cloudy and it doesn't rain. Minnesota spoiled me or something. In the midwest, the sky gets overcast, electric tension builds in the air, there is a tremendous thunder and lightning storm, and then it's over. When it rains, you actually need an umbrella.

Which, living in Portland made me incapable of using. Umbrellas are for wussies. Now I see people wandering around in the barely-even-drizzling Washington "winter," wrapped up in five scarves and gigantic pink overcoats and carrying umbrellas and STILL they hesitate in the doorway because their fancy Washington suit might melt if it gets a drop on it.

And since I am from Montana, I pretty much despise people who wear suits, or who live in Washington, or who allow any form of weather to have any effect on their activity.

As it turns out, I am impossible to please. Who knew?

24 November 2005


by Cecily
My sister works on an organic free range buffalo farm. I mean, BISON. They also sell turkeys. Last weekend I went to see her at the farmer's market and there was a sign that said "let's talk turkey about turkey!" but when I tried, she told me "that's not how turkeys talk."

Which seems like a poor sales strategy to me. What happened to "the customer is always right"?

I guess I wasn't actually a customer. "CECILY is always right", that's how it's supposed to go.


Last year for Thanksgiving I had pizza. It wasn't even good pizza, it was frozen pizza from the gas station down the corner. We also had mashed potatoes and gravy, and some other more traditional fare. Then we felt embarrassed about our lack of holiday spirit so we made a pact to always refer to the pizza as "turkey."

"Would you like another slice of turkey?"
"This turkey is delicious!"
"Do we have any more pepperoni turkey?"


This year I hope to be eating actual turkey. Courtesy of my sister's boyfriend's brother's wife's cousin's father's sister's friend's coworker's son.

Just kidding. Actually it is my sister's boyfriend's brother, that's all. I'm going to their house to eat turkey and drink wine, and then my sister and her boyfriend and I are coming back to my house to sleep it off.

Mmmm. turkey.

18 November 2005

harm, hormone derange

by Cecily
My favorite pasttime is doing silly things with words. I had forgotten about this particular silliness; to really experience it properly you need to read it out loud or have someone else read it out loud to you so it's not that great for the deaf population. I still laugh until I cry anyway...

My personal favorite is Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, but they're all pretty good.

10 November 2005

you don't LOOK stupid

by Cecily
On Tuesday I went to see Noam Chomsky talk about language origins at Georgetown. At several points during the talk he mentioned ASL and directed everyone's attention to the interpreter and/or the "signers" in the audience.

That was fine; he was open and respectful and there was no problem. Sadly (in many ways), not everyone is Noam Chomsky. As I was making my way down the stairs after the lecture ended, I happened to be immediately behind one of the interpreters. Some boy came up and started asking the interpreter something. The interpreter turned around and (I guess) recognized me. "Are you deaf?" he asked. "yes" I said. Then we all started interviewing myself about if my internal monologue is in ASL or English.

That part was tedious and annoying but this is the best part: at the end of the conversation when I was trying to look like I had somewhere to go, the boy said this: "It's always been a dream of mine to learn to do sign language."

That's quite a dream, there, buddy. Keep your feet on the ground!

People say some weird things when they are confronted by deafness for the first time.

My main favorites are:
-Oh, I'm so sorry.
-Oh, that's great!!!!
-No, you're not.
-You don't look deaf
-When I was in 2nd grade 20 years ago there was a kid in my class with a hearing aid. We weren't really friends though. But he was cool!

One of my friends was once given a wheelchair during check-in at the airport. She doesn't use one. Several other friends have been given Braille menus or taken by the elbow and guided across the room. Or told (loudly) that they would for sure be going to Heaven, and in Heaven everyone can hear.

I understand that people are not familiar with disability in general in our culture, and with deafness in particular, and that people are just trying to be nice, and that they mean well, and they probably are actually really great people deep down, just like me.

I don't really care. Think, just a LITTLE bit, before you talk. That's all I'm asking.

08 November 2005

Safari (by Jocelyn)

by Cecily
(My sister's in Africa visiting our dad. And her friend named Anne. Here is what she has to say about Tanzania):

It's raining again, and I am sitting on the balcony again, watching it rain. The rainy season in Rwanda had not quite begun, and so everything was dusty and dry and golden, with only bits of green in the wetter spots. Here, it is still like a garden; I have found each a nice contrast to the other.

It took us much longer to drive to the Serengeti than we had thought it would; instead of two leisurely partial days of driving, it took us all of the hours of daylight on our first day driving to get to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria, and much of the next day to get from there to Seronera.

I thought of Stanley and Livingstone and Burton and Speke and that other one, as we approached Lake Victoria. Not too long ago, a Rwandan man showed me decisively on a map the Source-of-the-Nile-in-Rwanda. There are, of course, sources of the Nile all over the place; in fact a whole watershed full of them, I would imagine. Makes me wonder just what those guys were looking to find, when they set out on their Quests for the Source, and whether Lake Victoria was ever enough of a Holy Grail for them, or whether they always felt unsatisfied. (I'm sure there are a lot of biographies about this in my future, waiting to be read.) I imagine Livingstone's journeys cut short by an enormous summer thunderstorm in Ethiopia - "This is it!" he cries, drenched by the rain that's about to flood the river, "I've found it! The Source of the Nile!"
But I digress.

Crossing the border from Rwanda to Tanzania took a long time. It is not that the Rusumo Falls border crossing is particularly high-traffic, but there was of course the requisite amount of standing in line to fill out papers, and the early-morning line of trucks waiting to cross that we had to navigate around.

On the other side, everything was different right away.

Okay, no it wasn't. But the landscape did change quite soon. The densely-packed farms with their banana trees and living fences, villages every mile, and people everywhere pushing bicycles loaded with water jugs and bananas, the children thronging their way to school, the steep hills and narrow valleys - these all all petered out almost immediately to be replaced by scrub woodland (the sort that looks as though it's exhausted from regrowing itself too many times) with occasional farms. And then as we drove east, the land flattened and the dirt stayed red. The woodland (some places fuller and better grown than others) changed to plains with enormous trees (some of them baobabs, Adansonia digitata, some of them not); the hills were made of exposed, weathered lumps of granite. There are not so many villages along that road, and not so much traffic on it, though more than half of it is paved. It is pretty empty country, is Western Tanzania. I mean - relatively speaking.

Driving is driving, I guess; not very exciting, either while it's happening or afterwards. So we did a lot of that, and then we stayed in Mwanza, which is a biggish town, and then we went on the Serengeti.

I feel a little dumb, trying to say anything about the Serengeti. I'm sure other people have said it better.
We found Anne (who is, for those of you interested in Anne, in glowing good healthy and apparently quite happy doing fascinating good work; as beautiful and amazing and fun as ever). Anne has a lot of fantastic bones at her house; all different antelope skulls with long curly horns, big beefy cape buffalo and also giraffe legs, looking like machine parts. I covet them, of course; knowing just how illegal it would be for them to have left the park in my possession, and knowing that I would never do that, does not make me any less covetous.

So, then, we went to a lodge and stayed there and drove around looking for animals for a few days. And found some! A few cheetahs, dutifully photographed and whatnot for Anne's Scientific Information. And so many other things.

We saw a pride of lions eating a zebra in the early morning under an acacia tree, with a bunch of hyaenas circling around. The lions would growl at the hyaenas, who were stealing a leg here and a chunk of skin there, making their hyaena noises (which, in contrast to what I had imagined, they make with their noses down almost to the ground) - until finally the lions had eaten enough and gave up and left or were driven off, leaving the hyaenas to chase each other around and jackals to lick the ground. Man, oh man are hyaenas ever beautiful and fascinating.

(In case anyone was wondering, these hyaenas were the spotted variety, Crocuta crocuta - the kind that people once thought were hermaphroditic, where the females have higher testosterone levels than the males, and false scrotums.)

We saw hippos out of water in the afternoon, a little suprisingly. A mother and two young 'uns eating stuff by the banks of a scummy pond. The mother had an oxpecker-dug hole in her side (with the oxpecker still poking his beak in sometimes) that looked ouchy. Anne says that someone published a paper recently suggesting that oxpeckers do not only eat the parasites off the large herbivores; they also seem to enlarge and keep open the parasite holes, and eat the flesh of the hippos (or whatever) directly. I say in response, a wildlife researcher is a wonderful companion to have in the Serengeti.

We a saw a porcupine that had stayed awake too long, rushing all waddly for cover in the early early morning in the shortgrass plains; warthog mamas and their little piggy babies running around; gazelles and antelopes and buffalo and jackals and all manner of neat birds; and then the elephants.

The managers of the lodge we stayed at, who are friends of Anne's, are Elephant Enthusiasts. And so I saw a lot of elephants. And I loved them! All huge and beautiful and intelligent - elephants often return to the bones of dead relatives and pick them up and touch them, and elephants sometimes bury their dead.

We watched some (a few mothers and several offspring) drinking when they had broken into a well near the lodge. The older ones with the long-enough trunks would kneel to reach down and suck out water. The little ones would suck it out of the mouths of their mothers and siblings.

We saw twenty-some of them, early one morning, heading off quietly and purposefully to god-knows-where across the plains. Anne took lots of pictures; we drove in circles around them for half an hour, and they looked at us, but just kept on going.

The most amazing part of looking at the elephants, though, is when they look right back at you. We sat one evening, drinking beer in the Land Rover parked right next to some elephants eating at sunset; we looked out at the elephants and drank beer, and they looked in at us and ate grass.

I'm back in Rwanda now; we are off to look at gorillas tomorrow, and then I will return to Virginia on Tuesday.

It has stopped raining. The sun has come out. I hope that all of you are well and happy.

07 November 2005


by Cecily
My stepdad bought a new hot air balloon. "New to him" as my mother was quick to observe. Its name is the Surprise. It is very patriotic.
the old owners flying the Surprise
We (well, he) had a hot air balloon when I was little. Its name was Bad Gravity and it was substantially more aesthetically pleasing that this new one.

If less patriotic.

I am VERY excited about this new development, lest my snotty remarks about what balloon is the prettiest of them all throw anyone off. I love the Surprise!

Anyone who wants a hot air balloon ride, come to Montana in December. I'm getting my pilot's license so watch out.

05 November 2005

those crazy German artists

by Cecily
Do you have quicktime on your computer? Go look at this movie immediately

clip of movie

I don't know what the soundtrack is, because I can't hear it. But it probably wouldn't help anyway since the website is all in German and I don't know any German. I really don't care, though, as it turns out, because just watching the movie as a silent film is still making me all teary-eyed in love with the world.

04 November 2005


by Cecily
I had a weekend of more social interaction than ever before! It was fun but exhausting.

First, Maryrose and Trisha came to town. We drank beer and ate ice cream and vegetables.

Then Joanna came to town. We drank wine and hung out in the back yard.

Then we had a Halloween Fun Party at my house. It involved wearing costumes, and then becoming intoxicated and taking parts of the costumes off and putting other costumes on and generally being kind of drunk.

Also there was some dancing around in crash helmets

Then it was time to get back to work. The fun is over.