Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Deaf Voice Dilemma

I am Deaf.

I'll spare you a detailed explanation of my audiogram with concepts of decibels and frequency levels, but just know I'm really really Deaf.

The moment I open my mouth to speak, hearing people can't seem to help but exclaim, "But you speak SO well!"

I'll weakly smile and nod to acknowledge this sentiment, but inside I am cringing. Why?
My voice is a double-edged sword. The moment I speak, any conceptions of my Deafness and communication needs I've worked hard to acquire immediately fly out into the void with very little hope of ever coming back.

The very second I use my voice, in many hearing people's minds, I am no longer different. I am just like them. I speak, therefore I hear.


Well, yes. With my hearing aids I have developed sound awareness. What many people struggle to realize is that there is a HUGE difference between sound awareness and actual understanding.

Sometimes if the conditions are perfect, my brain can piece together these sounds paired with visual cues to allow me to get the gist of what's going on. But that is NOT reliable communication.

I'll ask a person to write, type or enunciate more clearly after realizing I cannot understand. Oftentimes, I discover the hearing person has already firmly established in their mind I am not different and finds it extremely difficult to accommodate my communication requests and needs.

All because I opened my mouth.
All because "I speak so well."

A lifetime of this frustration has taught me that sometimes it is just easier for everyone involved if I simply do not speak at all.

I am grateful to have learned American Sign Language later in life. ASL has opened up so many communication channels for me through sign language interpreters and video relay service for the telephone. I realize that the majority of hearing people do not know sign language, so signing isn't always an option. As a culturally Deaf person vouching for my peers, all we ask of you is to ACCEPT our communication requests and needs. We're all different and have spent our entire lives learning and fine-tuning our own communication preferences. It is not up to you to determine that. Simply accept us for who we are and we need, and I promise you there will be significantly less friction and frustration.
To all the well-intentioned folks who comment on my voice and insist I use it, I appreciate the sentiment. All I ask is that you understand regardless of my speech (or not), I am still DEAF and always will be Deaf.

It is my job to educate, but your responsibility to respect and learn. So pass this along to others!

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Multi Pitch Communication with a Deaf Climber

When climbers meet me for the first time out on the crag and discover I am Deaf, curiosity is usually expressed on how I climb multi-pitch where verbal commands shouted blindly up and down pitches is considered essential. I want to share a system that I have tweaked and experimented with over the years. It works for me. It is not a "one-size-fits-all" solution. Various situations might call for unique adjustments, such as shortening the pitches to stay within visual range. Always discuss with your partner communication expectations before each climb and adjust communications as necessary to adapt to that particular climb.

Deaf climbers and hearing climbers with Deaf partners are not the only ones that can benefit from this "No-Voice" multi-pitch communication system. Hearing climber teams may benefit as well. Many accidents occur from misunderstanding verbal commands shouted a pitch away, especially in windy conditions or on crowded crags with many voices mingled together.

 Disclaimer: Rock climbing and mountaineering is a dangerous and technical sport. This is not an instructional guide. Seek proper and professional instruction.

Silent Multi-Pitch Climbing Communication when the leader and second are out of both sound and sight range: 
If climbers are within sight range, predetermine ARM signals with your partner. Hand signals are too small and can be easily misinterpreted... From a pitch away, a thumbs up or fist motion look the same

1. The leader climbs, builds anchor at top of pitch and clips in. Set up belay device in guide mode (or preferred belay method) but do not thread rope through the belay device yet. Pull up the rest of the rope.
2. The second does not take the leader off belay, even if the second suspects the leader is safely clipped to an anchor. Continue to feed the rope through the belay device.
3. When the leader suspects the end of the rope has been reached (usually indicated by the verbal command from the second: "that's me" ), let out a some slack and pull tight. This helps ensure it's not just rope drag or a pinched rope. Put the rope through the already prepared belay system and put the second on belay.
4. A few feet before the leader's rope pulling reaches the end of the rope (the second's harness), the second holds the rope taunt for the non-verbal "That's Me" command. Wait 10 seconds for the leader to put the rope through the belay device. The second releases a few inches of rope at a time. If the rope continues to tighten, you are on belay. This technique is especially reassuring for hanging belays where breaking down the anchor before the belay is on could have very bad results!
Regarding rope tugs:
Some people like to incorporate rope tugs for communication. I personally prefer not to rely on this method since wind and rope drag may influence rope tug perception. Additionally, the leader clipping the rope may feel similar to the common " tugs for off/on belay" that some climbers use. Also, rope tugging could potentially knock down loose rock. As I mentioned before, my voice-less multi-pitch communication system is just a base system to use. If you feel it is necessary to add rope tugs, discuss with your partner and use at your own discretion.

Be safe and climb on!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lavender Hot Chocolate/ Mocha

Lavender Hot Chocolate / Mocha

  • Create a double boiler by placing a bowl over a pot of boiling water
  • Whisk together: 
    • 1 cup of milk, any kind (dairy, nut, etc)
    • 1 heaping tsp cocoa powder
    • 2 heaping tsp sugar, any kind (I used coconut sugar)
    • a generous sprinkling of ground lavender *
    • Optional: Make it a mocha by adding a shot of cold brew coffee
  • When it is warm enough, strain through a coffee filter and enjoy!
* How to make ground lavender:  Use food grade lavender flowers and ground them in a spice grinder. Sift through a strainer for lavender powder. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Oatmeal Tea

Little did I know my fate was sealed as I brushed against the thick foliage while loading kayaks onto the truck. The day had been glorious, following the the sunshine with the rhythmic dipping of paddles into the water. We were learning from an instructor how to read the water currents to safely navigate a river. However, the danger for me that day turned out not to be in the swift water currents. It was in my inability to identify poison oak.

It didn't take long for the rashes to show up and spread all over my body. With my skin inflamed and irritated from head to toe, few remedies brought as much relief as an oatmeal bath. Simply make a large pot of “oatmeal tea” by using six times more water than oats. (For example, one cup oats in 6 cups water). Cook the oats for about 15 minutes to draw out the healing properties into the water. Strain and add the “cooking liquid” to your bath. Put the solid cooked oats in a porous bag. Muslin bags work well or a DIY version such as nylon stockings or cotton tied into a bag. You can add this oatmeal bag to the bath, but be sure to keep it contained in the bag! I learned the hard way and had a difficult time explaining to my grandmother why her bathtub drain was severely clogged with oatmeal. Oops!

The anti-inflammatory properties of oat tea baths sooth any kind of skin irritation, whether it be poison ivy/oak, sunburns, insect bites, chapped/dry skin, rashes, or eczema. Oatmeal is gentle so it works on all skin types, including sensitive skin of babies and the elderly.

What makes oatmeal so soothing and healing for the skin?

  • Oats contain polysaccharides and proteins. This means they leave a protective layer on the skin which helps prevent dryness as well as help maintain the skin’s natural barrier function of keeping the bad stuff out and the good stuff in.

  • Itchy and dry skin as a high pH level. Oatmeal aids with restoring balance and normalizing the skin pH.

  • Oats are filled with saponins. Saponins are natural cleansers which work to remove irritating dirt and oil from the skin’s pores.

  • Oats contain one of the highest lipid content of natural cereals. This is good news for the skin since it acts as a moisturizer and lubricant.

Just be sure to pat your skin dry instead of rubbing. Rubbing causes irritation which would undo all of the amazing benefits of an oatmeal bath. While oatmeal baths do provide relief, the best form of relief is prevention. Stay well hydrated and learn the causes of your skin irritation. Educate yourself on how to prevent it from happening.

Personally, I've learned to identify poison oak and poison ivy. :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Citrus Peel Vinegar Infusion

Citrus Peel Vinegar Infusion

“Do not use cleaning chemicals on your kitchen surfaces. Someone will inevitably make a sandwich on your counter.”   -Found on a random passerby’s LuLuLemon shopping bag

Inspiration does indeed strike where you least expect it, during moments when you think you’re not looking. This was the case of my cleaning revolution.

Look at the cleaning supplies aisle, and you’ll most likely see a plethora of chemicals that are toxic to bad bacteria…. but also toxic to our bodies and the environment. Commercially available “green” cleaners often times are just a marketing gimmick. A closer look at the ingredient list reveals the contents really aren’t that good for you. Truly safe and natural cleaners might be safe for our bodies, but they damage our wallets more than we’d like and are still just as wasteful with so many bottles and containers!

If there was a frugal way to clean your home using the waste by-product of food in your kitchen, would you do it?

There is! All you need are your leftover citrus peels, white vinegar, and a mason jar.

Save all of your citrus peels in a large mason jar. By leaving the lid off, the peels will air-dry to prevent rot and mold. When the jar is full, fill it with white vinegar. (Tip: Buy the vinegar in bulk.  Less container waste and it is usually cheaper too!) Let the vinegar and citrus peels soak in a warm sunny window for two weeks, or a little longer if a warm sunny window isn’t available.

By doing so, you are creating an infusion. An infusion is a quantity of liquid in which herbs (or in our case, citrus peels) have been steeped long enough for the properties to transfer to the liquid.

But why are we infusing citrus peels? Sure, it will make the vinegar smell better, but consider these reasons as well:

  • The peels are a natural solvent (meaning it can effectively clean grime and cut grease without the use of toxic chemicals)
  • Natural acids repel bugs (so long summer-time flies in the kitchen!)
  • They are antioxidant, antiseptic, and antibacterial
  • Naturally deodorizing oils in peels neutralize bad odors
  • The aroma aids in mental clarity, stress reduction, and improves concentration

Once your vinegar infusion has seeped, strain out the peels and dilute the vinegar with water with a a 50/50 ratio (more vinegar for really dirty messes) in a reusable spray bottle. Compost the leftover peels instead of throwing them away.

You have just created a cleanser that not only reduces waste and eliminates the need for chemicals, it is healthy AND beneficial for your body. Next time think twice before tossing those citrus peels!

EDIT: Use Organic citrus peels since pesticides and chemicals will infuse into your vinager. Wash citrus peels before use. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Twas the Bight before Christmas

'Twas the Bight before Christmas : A Climbing Poem by Christina Cox
'Twas the bight before Christmas
And all through the crag
Not a single rope was flaked out
All tucked away in rope bags

Each rope was coiled in the bag with great care
In hopes that a climber would soon be there
Each cam and nut organized from from blue to green and red,
Tantalizing dreams of hard sends in each climber's head
My partner in her helmet, and I in my cap
We had just agreed on plans traced on a topo map
When out on the rocks there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my guidebook to see what was the matter
Away to the base of the climb I flew like a flash
Tore out my headlamp, expecting to see a crash
The moon on the gleam of holds covered in chalk
Guided my path on this late evening walk
When what did to my wondering eye did appear
But a daring soloist, displaying no fear!
With a sure-footed grip on the rock did he stick
I knew in a moment this was a destiny he picked
Delicate like a mountain goat, each move he made
And he whistled and shouted and called them all by name.
Now Sloper! Now Jug! now Pocket, and Crimper!
On Sidepull, on Undercling,
On Edge, and Pincher!
To the top of the route! To the top of the wall!
Now Climb on! Climb on! Climb on, all of ya'll!

Ode to an Anchor

Ode to an Anchor: A climbing poem by Christina Cox 
If I were an anchor I'd be tied to a tree
Strong and alive, in all ways SRENE
Part hex perhaps, but no Tricams I desire
For if I were to set, your second's temper will fire!

When pondering my placements, be not hasty not quick
A dead tree or poor nut will not do the trick
Creativity, wisdom, and flexibility I need
Until you are satisfied, do not rush the deed
I will hold you through your commitments and crux
Do not fear that move, for in me you trust!
And when the climb is over and the day is done
Rest assured, your safety has been defined in a pun