No phone, no lights, no motorcars. Not a single luxury.

OK - that might be exaggerating a bit. There were lights and motorcars. But there was no wi-fi, my go anywhere with you network didn’t go with me to this place, and there was not a television machine. I think if I were stuck with Gilligan and his friends, the first thing I’d make wouldn’t be a radio out of coconuts, it’d be a wireless router.

See? Even just now as I was typing the last couple of sentences in the mountains without internet access, twice I started to bring up a web browser to look up three correct spelling of Gilligan, and the Sprint tag line.

It’s amazing how addicted accustomed we become to having something. A few years ago a hurricane knocked out our power for a week and I was eight months pregnant at the time and on bed rest. So I couldn’t really leave the house, The KoH was working retail hours back then, which meant that pretty much any time during the day that would be convenient to be home he wasn’t and I was just hanging out in the house by myself all day every day. When the power first went out, I was determined to make the best of it. “My ancestors lived long lives without television to keep them company,” I thought to myself smugly, “why shouldn’t I be able to get along for a few hours? So I can’t watch tv. I’ll just listen to the radio.”

And then, when the sudden realization of the idiocy of that statement set in, I decided to pick up a book and read instead. Only it was nine o’clock at night and reading by light of a flashlight at eight months pregnant while lying on my left side (have I ever mentioned how I have this particular disorder that makes me see three of everything when I lie of my left side? Not so much good for the reading. Also makes me nauseous.) didn’t seem like such a great idea either. So I decided to call someone to talk to. (It must have been really bad if I was willing to use The Phone.) Only our phones are the kind that you plug in so when the power goes out they don’t work. “OK then, ”says a determined me who is now talking to herself, “I’ve been meaning to finish up some work on that book I’ve been working on, I’ll just fire up the computer and…. Wait never mind.”

I think I ended up going to my elderly neighbors’ house to lie on their couch and watch them bicker. It was at least as entertaining than most reality television shows.

So this weekend, I took the whole fam-damily and we went to the mountains of Virginia to attend a cue camp. Here:

Since Monica and Barry have chosen cued speech for the form of instruction for their daughter, I’ve been wanting to learn about the process and be able to cue with Mari as much as I can when I’m around her. And since The Dormouse and The Caterpillar spend an awful lot of time around Mari, this family-oriented camp seemed perfect for us all to learn more.

For those not familiar, cued speech is not the same as sign language. Which is a shame because I know a good bit of sign language and have been able to use that with my girls and with Mari when she was learning. It’s a shame because I was secretly rooting for them to choose sign language as Mari’s method of instruction so I wouldn’t have to learn as much new stuff. But I guess they made decisions based on silly things like what’s best for Mari and not what’s easiest for NG. Thoughtless aren‘t they? It‘s a wonder I‘m still friends with them.

Here's my nutshell description of cued-speech-as-I-understand-it after this weekend.

Cued speech is a method of visually reproducing sounds in language that you can’t see on people’s lips when they talk. There is a series of eight hand shapes that represent consonants and six four (I stand corrected; thanks Hilary) placements around the face that represent vowels. Together with the shape of the mouth when you form words, these are able to visually represent each one of the forty-two phonemes in the English language. The basic thought behind it is to give deaf/hard of hearing children and adults all the information they would normally get from their ears, but can’t. It is, instead, done visually. It doesn't replace spoken English, it just fills in the blanks where hearing leaves off.

I love sign language. I think it is a beautiful, expressive language. But cued speech appealed to the other side of my brain and while I didn’t expect to be bored by the weekend, neither did I expect to find it as completely fascinating as I did. I was surprised to learn that not only does the word get cued, but also the accent used to say the word. For example, the word “dog” said by a Westerner like me, sounds like “dahg.” But add a little Southern drawl and you get “dawg.” Both words, while spelled the same, are cued differently. To language and dialect geeks like me and The KoH, this is cool stuff. We learned that The KoH and I each say The Caterpillar’s name differently and therefore we each cue it in a different way. With cued speech, the nuances of regional dialects in a language are transliterated and communicated equally as well as they would be communicated to people who hear them.

We had a terrific three days and at least the attendees at the camp were completely kind and welcoming to us newbies. We met lots of new friends whom we hope to see in the future. The little kids had separate classes in which they played games, did myriad activities and learned to cue their names and some common words. Us big ones went through an intensive overview of the basics and now, while we conceivably could cue any word in the English language, we get to go home and practice. Be… cau… se… we…. are…. ssssslowwwwwww. And no one wants to have a conversation with someone when it takes five minutes to say “My name is…..” and then stand there waiting because you can’t figure out how you actually say two of the vowels in your name.

In fact, we all enjoyed it so much that I did not, in point of fact, go into telecommunications withdrawal when I couldn’t get the internet for three days. In fact, I almost didn’t notice it. Alright, you got me I noticed it. But I did not go running naked through the woods with a laptop in my hand yelling “Help, help! My kingdom for a wi-fi signal!” and that’s something right?

Someone at the camp thought it might be a nice idea to have a twitter stream going throughout camp. But then when no one could get the local network to work on their computers (there was supposed to be a connection available in the conference building, but after the first day it didn’t work), they instead put up a “Twitter Page” on the wall and had people add their “Tweets.” Which I think, used to be called "writing on a piece of paper with a pencil" but I'm not sure.

Here are some of the things I would have tweeted had I had internet access and/or my husband did not tell me it was "inappropriate to put on a paper that hung in the conference center." Killjoy.

Untwittered Tweets

Dormouse crawls into bed with Monica:
Monica: Your elbows are bony.
Me: So are her knees.
KoH: And her feet and her shoulders and her ribcage and her chin…
Monica: And her soul?
Me: No that’s my soul.

Monica’s FacePlace status one day (she could get internet, damn my lack of iPhone): To all the people who can read this, congratulations! You aren’t one of the people I unfriended today.

KoH forgot to bring his pajamas and decided just to sleep in his jeans.
Me: Why don’t you take your pants off and just sleep in your underwear?
KoH: I don’t want Monica to see my peep.
Me: Trust me, she wouldn’t see it anyway.

Nature abhors a vacuum. The Dormouse abhors silence.

What's the past tense of "tweet", "twat"? That just sounds dirty.
Once I was trying to connect to the internet on my iPhone and it found a network called "Toys for Twats."

Little boy comes up. He’s fallen and scraped up his elbow and needs the nurses’s attention.
Monica: OK, let’s go find the nurse. Who’s your mommy?
Boy: Um. I don’t have a mommy.
Monica, once the boy had walked away: Well, THAT was awkward.

Me: If I’m complaining about sugar giving me heartburn then I probably should not be eating a chocolate bar right before dinner, huh?
Monica: I was gonna say something but my mouth was full of sun chips.

Excited little boy who won a door prize: I won! I won! I don't even know what it is! (It was a network travel cable.)

Here’s a cue a lot of people need to know if they work with little kids: Pee-Pee. Oh... also: Poo-Poo.

What are you doing here? I thought you weren’t coming until after work.
Well I left the house 20 minutes late and then I had to stop for gas.
So you just decided not to go at all?

I labeled my boob like five minutes ago and no one noticed. I’m offended.

I wasn't kidding about that last one.

I can cue that now.