Whale Watching ! And, Proof that ASL is Expanding My Brain and Heart


A few weeks ago I was able to enjoy one last summery, fun moment before the busyness of school took over. We were sitting around a campfire with my sister-in-law and she asked why I’ve not blogged this summer while time allows. I thought it was interesting that she asked if I don’t have anything to write about.

I said “no” and don’t know what I said after. Then, the conversation went elsewhere.

I’ve been thinking about it though, and I haven’t been able to blog because so much good has been going on that it’s overwhelming. Lots of worry and hard work too of course. Yet, words can’t describe the process of expanding this language in my head and heart. Now, words and phrases are set loose in my head in Sign Language and English…and occasionally a French vocab word from Jr. High will pop up.

When I complain that my brain literally hurts and why, a friend who is a speech therapist promises me that it is because many physical and emotional and intellectual things are changing, and healing is happening rapid style as I adjust to the gradual hearing loss which is now in both ears. He has a way of turning me toward the perspective that it is a party in my brain with all of this language acquisition and he supports my bucket list efforts.

“A pretty martini with MyFriend and his husband” is now on a card. Not sure how we’ll find the time…it will happen one day or not and that’s okay.

But! Thanks to my husband, I accomplished my first Bucket List index card on 4th of July week this summer!

Not only did he and I go whale watching, I stood at the helm and gasped watching the water whoosh to the sky from a pod when they would peek up with a blow hole and exhale. The rumor is true that they are the boss team of the animal kingdom.

And , oh my word, when one of them came up, not far from the boat and flipped. I may never be able to connect English or spoken words. It was like a spiritual…


I can’t do it yet. I don’t have words to describe the beauty of that ten seconds of my summer.

All that the index card in my purple bucket said was to take a whale watching boat ride. I wouldn’t have cared if we never spotted one. That wasn’t my goal. Just knowing that I was on a big boat, and that somewhere under me, some miles close, was a whale – that was an amazing idea to me. There are not a lot of whales on the planet, and there is one me. And they are very big. And I am very small in comparison.

What’s more…

to then come back from Boston to Iowa to my Deaf and Interpreter friends for an end of the summer picnic and be able to explain in ASL – this time with full blown details and pictures in the air and visual sound, I can now explain exactly why the flipping whale made me burst into happy tears. I’m not a public BurstIntoTears type – for sure.

With my signing progress, I’ve only learned a tip of the ASL iceburg. I am in ASL three and there are six introductory levels for interpreting. This process is followed by a life time of study to stay updated on language changes and the like.

In the 1980’s my ASL was words…nearly 30 years later – my brain is giving me ASL pictures and video cameras. Intense.



it’s a lot.

I just found this beautiful song named Quiet Line by Lucy Waignwright Roche (with Mary Chapin Carpenter). Apologies to my Deaf friends that there are not captions or lyrics. For me, on my first listen, it’s about waiting patiently and being open to overwhelm-ment.

And yes, I just made that word up.

Prayers for a restful labor day to all. Or not.

Yours, Kate

A Quiet Line : Lucy Waignwright Roche

3 thoughts on “Whale Watching ! And, Proof that ASL is Expanding My Brain and Heart

  1. Very nice post, Kate. If there is such a thing as having a voice in ASL, you sure showed it here. And I love the photo. Enjoy your holiday!

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