Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Newsy Letter to my Fans. By Syl Boyd.

Hello from the great city of Nashville!

In case you weren't aware, Phil and I have moved down South to be closer to our family - more specifically, our two unwed daughters. If you are a tall man who is fluent in American Sign Language and has a complete understanding of the Bible (King James Version only), you may just be the next member of the Boyd Family! This is a great honor and includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Frequent opportunities to buy Phil and I dinner, lunch, and/or breakfast.
  2. Many hours of watching television with us. We enjoy most shows on the USA network, but Saturdays are reserved for Alabama games (Roll Tide!). Phil also enjoys Storage Wars.
  3. One (1) matching Alabama tracksuit to sport year-round with us.

But I digress. Today is that most celebrated of holidays, National Sandwich Day. I'm going to share a few tips with you on not only how to make the perfect sandwich, but how to store it properly for future consumption.

Firstly, it's all about the bread. Don't be easily swayed by the light and fluffy texture of white bread or baguettes. That stuff will sour and mold faster than Kim Kardashian's marriage (zing!). You'll want to go for the hardy, thick, whole-wheat bread that's only digestible with a healthy serving of powdered milk. Now on to the fillings. If you're on a budget, peanut butter & jelly will go a long way, especially when freezing (spoiler alert!). However, if you've got a little extra cash, nothing says "Lunch!" like bologna and government cheese. Mayo or mustard should be the only other accoutrements - you're running a household, not a gourmet deli.

An example of expensive sandwichery that is NOT economical.

VERY economical.

Once you've made a batch of approximately 42-58 sandwiches, you probably won't be hungry anymore. But what to do with all these figurative pieces of Manna that lay before you? No worries! Simply insert each sandwich into its own little baggie, and shove 12 sandwiches into an empty loaf of bread bag. Then, place the filled bread bag into the freezer for storage! It's that simple!

The next morning, retrieve one frozen breadcicle and place it into your lunch bag. Wait 8-10 hours for it to thaw, then enjoy!

I hope you've enjoyed these pearls of wisdom on National Sandwich Day, and feel free to send me feedback on how your own sandwich freezing goes. Your family may not appreciate it at first, but they'll thank you for the tens of minutes it saves each week.

Until next time,

Syl Boyd

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deaf Can Do Anything! Almost. By Jemina

For some reason, this made it into the trip's photo album?
 “Deaf people can do anything!” is a phrase our mother often throws around to let us know that if a person puts their mind to something, they can be successful. As a youth, this phrase filled me with hope and admiration for my determined parents. But, when the phrase was bandied about prior to a rafting trip, I should have known we were headed for trouble.

One summer, Joy and I were invited (i.e., forced) to go camping with our parents and a couple of their married friends. We’ll call them Sandy and Brian. Sandy and Brian were lovely people and we had no qualms about enjoying the Smoky Mountains with them and our parents for a few days. The first day we arrived at the campsite, the main office had colorful pamphlets strewn about that Syl picked up to peruse. “Oooh, rafting, wouldn’t that be fun?” she exclaimed. We naively agreed and Syl wasted no time making our reservations.

The faces only a Syl could love.
On the appointed day, our party of six rafting novices lined up dutifully in front of our guide, a sunburned albino who had no clue that he’d just drawn the shortest of straws. Immediately, Joy begins interpreting his preliminary instructions, trying her best to emphasize the same words emphasized by the guide, as in, “When I yell LEFT, ONLY the left side paddles.” Strangely, nobody saw a problem with this scenario. Of course, once we left the safety of dry land, ‘twas mere minutes before the guide fully realizes that four of the six people in the raft cannot hear any of his commands—commands that are, to put it mildly, time sensitive. Joy and I are stationed on opposite sides of the boat, but by the time we get everyone’s attention to have them paddle a certain way, the current would shift and we'd  wash up on a rock or spin aimlessly down the river.

It is during one of these free-for all spins that my paddle hits a rock, ricochets off my face, pokes a lens out of my glasses, and gives me a black eye. I also lose the paddle. Frantic, I am searching for the lens on the floor of the raft so I don’t end up with Mr. Peanut’s monacle when we wash up on another rock. Defeated, the albino looks at his raft of four deaf people, a half-blind eleven year old, and my sister, the only capable one on the raft. Syl, noticing that her hearing offspring are at their wit’s end, decides to seize this moment and sign “Deaf can do anything!” For this lack of tact, she is met with only cold, angry stares.

When our albino guide steers our raft onto a nearby embankment, he signals to another guide and says, “I QUIT!” After conferring with an obviously older, more experienced guide, this brave man takes on our raft of misfits. The new guide, to his great credit, works out a system in which he slaps the side of the boat that needs to paddle . After a few stops and starts, we’re soon on our way again. My horrors, however, are not over. Since losing the adult-sized paddle, I’m left with the child-sized spare. Not wanting to leave my counterparts to shoulder the paddling burden, I decide to do my part, which unfortunately requires me to lean over the side of the raft at a precarious angle to reach the churning waters. I am officially not amused. It’s not long before we reach a shallow part of the river where the current is strong and rocks and tree stumps abound. New Guide slaps my side of the raft and I start paddling furiously. So furiously, in fact, that my momentum propels me headfirst into the swift river, child-size paddle in hand, other hand holding onto the outside of the raft for dear life. My legs receive a heinous beating as they’re bumped along the shallow current and tree stumps.

Confidently, the guide says “No problem, we’ll just lift you right up outta there,” grabbing the shoulder of my life vest. He pulls up and stops. Then pulls again. It’s only after he repeated this exercise several times, my legs dangling like a marionette’s, that he and I realize my vest is stuck on the raft’s air valve. Still, the fact that the burly guide couldn’t pull me into a raft did little for my fragile 11 year old self-esteem.

After a final series of mini-rapids, the raft mercifully reached its destination. Once we floated into the shallows, all four deafies disembarked, each one claiming to have had SO MUCH FUN! Meanwhile, Joy and I stormed ashore, vowing never to go rafting with deaf people again. To this day my parents look back on that trip with a healthy glow of nostalgia while the mere mention of it causes my legs to twinge in pain.

In conclusion, dear readers, Deaf people really can do anything. Except raft.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Interview with a Cicada (aka Jem)

Jem's officially been published! Granted, she had to pose as a cicada (check out her twitter account: Cicadas XIX), but we think this will make for an excellent story about humble beginnings when Jem is famous...

Read Jem's (aka Cicadas XIX) riveting and witty interview with Tennessee Home & Farm here:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our Mother's Day Gift to You: Syl's Tornado Survival Tips

Frozen Sandwiches would like to wish Syl and mothers everywhere a Happy Mothers' Day! In my mother's honor and in recognition of all mothers' apparent need to impart unsolicited advice to their offspring, I offer the following anecdote. Please note that I am not, in any way, making light of the destruction caused by the tornadoes that recently swept across the great State of Alabama. I am only relaying some of the words of wisdom Syl shared with me as one of several tornadoes made its way toward Anniston:

Syl: I am watching the news now. How awful for Tuscaloosa! What about Anniston?

Joy: There are several tornadoes in the area, but none have touched down near my house yet.

Syl: Stay away from the window. Go to your bathroom. Get in tub and hold onto faucet because tornado can vacuum u up if the roof flies away.

Joy (doubled over with laughter, is unable to immediately respond)

Syl (doubtless sensing Joy's skepticism): I am not kidding. I am serious. That is what I learn from tornadoes safety tips!

Joy (sitting in front of the t.v., eating cookies): Ok, I'm in the tub now.

Though this should be painfully obvious to you, the lawyer in me feels compelled to add this disclaimer: should any of you find yourselves in a life threatening weather situation, I urge you not to follow Syl's advice.

Always thinking of you,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Onward Christian Culottes

The following is a public service announcement, courtesy of your long lost friends, the Boyd Sisters. It has come to our attention (via an email from Syl) that our stories might have given some of our readers (mostly Syl’s friends) the “wrong impression.” We would like to reiterate here that Phil and Syl were not “bad parents” and that we did not intend to mislead anyone with our semi-hyperbolic accounts of certain childhood events. While we maintain that all of our stories are true, we do, from time to time, take artistic license with certain facts for comedic effect. Any exaggerations are obvious and intended to be as such. Again, the point of our stories is to make our readers feel better about their childhoods by reading about ours, not to lambaste Phil and Syl for their unconventional parenting techniques. Actually, all of the foregoing applies to the stories we’ve posted thus far. But not this one. Syl is completely responsible for…my greatest humiliation.
We all have our young crosses to bear. Some of us were chubby (Josh and Jemina). Others were ugly (James and I). Still others were shy and socially awkward (Me again). This is the story of my single greatest source of childhood humiliation. The skeleton I have shoved so far back into my proverbial closet—the one that both Syl and I both feared would one day see the light of day. (Insert loud SIGH here). Culottes. To the untrained eye, I (the unfortunate gangly he/she youth in the picture with the adult-sized glasses and makeshift bowl cut) might appear to be wearing a black skirt. In the much overused words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friends!”
The word “culotte” is French in origin and is defined as “a garment having a divided skirt.” While many of our finest fashion trends originated with the French, the culotte has to be one of the most enduring blemishes on the face of French fashion. What must have originated on the farms and in the wineries as a practical means of adapting to manual labor and making the cheese growing, goat milking, and grape stomping a little less cumbersome, however, was misappropriated and revived by fundamentalist protestants in the 20th century as a conservative alternative to its evil and immodest counterpart: pants. Yes, pants.
I don’t really remember putting on my first pair of culottes. Photographic evidence suggests Syl surreptitiously swapped my brother’s hand-me-down pants for culottes when I was between the ages of four (4) and six (6). Being a somewhat observant child, I first began to question said substitution in kindergarten when, during the frigid Rochester winter temperatures, Syl insisted that I put on a pair of sweatpants, and then cover said sweatpants with a pair of culottes.
“Why?” I signed to Syl.
“Because it’s modest,” Syl explained matter-of-factly.

“What does that mean?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“It means that your body is covered so boys won’t look at you in the wrong way.”

I suppose I should have been flattered by Syl’s maternal instincts but, as you can see from this picture, such instincts were a little off as I was not in any danger of getting positive attention from my male peers. I accepted my mother’s explanation that night and waddled out the back door of our house, through the snow, and joined my siblings as they clambered up into our fifteen-passenger Ford van.
Some time later, presumably because her secret hand-me-down supplier of dated women’s fashions did not share her pants-free worldview, Syl decided to commission a seamstress friend of hers to fashion custom-made culottes for me. Having rarely felt the crisp, cool stiffness of store-bought clothing, I viewed the ensuing trip to JoAnn Fabrics to be an acceptable compromise between the garbage sacks filled with used clothing that reeked of mothballs and the pipe dream of store-bought clothing with actual price tags. Once we entered the store, Syl selected three rolls of fabric: one blue, one black, and one gray. She asked me if I liked those colors and, after a glance through my smudged glasses I stated, “No, they’re boring.” Syl then tried to reason with me, explaining that these fabrics, once made into culottes, would “match with everything.” I was unimpressed. Nonetheless, lacking intellectual capacity at the age of seven to argue with that logic, all I could do was mutter “then why am I here?” under my breath, careful to avoid Syl’s piercing gaze so as to not have to lie about what I said. Syl paused a moment, no doubt mentally calculating her planned purchases before telling me that I could choose a pattern of my own. I brightened at this gesture of kindness, and strolled up and down each aisle, peering through my glasses and down my nose at each pattern, running my fingers along the material, mentally discounting them as I went along as being “too fancy,” “too adult,” “too scratchy,” or worst of all, “too girly.” I rounded the corner to make my way up the final aisle when the proverbial clouds parted and I saw it: a brilliant red Hawaiian print with an interlocking floral pattern and every color of the rainbow splashed throughout. The Wonderment! The Jubilee! TO BE CONTINUED…

Monday, September 27, 2010

D.A.D.D. (Daughters Against Deaf Driving). By Jemina

Ah, the family road trip. Nothing sparks more feelings of nostalgia than packing up the car for an exciting new adventure and location. Like most married couples who are contraceptively challenged, our deaf parents (Phil and Syl) considered air travel a frivolous expenditure for our large family and opted to drive anywhere and everywhere they deemed vacation-worthy. We were told that spending five out of seven vacation days in our 1989 red and white striped Ford Club Wagon was part of the adventure instead of a penny-pinching tactic, and camping in the great outdoors was much more enjoyable than sleeping in a stodgy old hotel room. Phil and Syl stretched their dollars even further by ensuring that our trips coincided with the closest Baptist tent revival or bible camp.

No destination was ever within an eight hour radius of our house since everyone knows outdoor Baptist worship events must be held in a godforsaken part of the Catskill Mountains. Therefore, Boyd Family road trips consisted of extremely long hours in the car with Syl carrying on lively one-sided conversations in order to keep Phil awake while he drove. More often than not, we children fell asleep in the back of the van after hours of watching Syl gesticulate wildly to Phil as he tried to both watch her and the road. Syl’s entertaining rants most often began as thinly veiled concerns over various church members’ spiritual growth then moved into the far more unproven rumors surrounding each member.

“I am worried about Sue Flemming- we haven’t seen her in Sunday School for a few weeks. Did you know that she once smoked the marijuana and was so high off her gourd that she crashed into her friend’s fence?” Syl would sign. “Anyways, she may not have taken it so well when I suggested that she was addicted to the marijuana and that the Lord looks unfavorably upon recreational drug use. I hope we see her next week- I’ll pray about it.”
While Phil pulled double-duty as driver and listener, the gentle swaying of the van rocked me to sleep as our fearless driver always managed to swerve out of harm’s way at the last moment.

At some point during our many road trips, blue lights would start flashing behind the Club Wagon and Phil would get pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. In hindsight I suppose every police officer stopping the giant Ford Club Wagon careening down the highway thought it must be the result of an erratic drunkard behind the wheel instead of a deaf man watching his wife sign, but it perturbed our parents nonetheless.

On one such occasion I was chosen as the interpreter between Phil and the very large, menacing policeman rapidly approaching the driver’s side. Normally a duty assigned to one of my older siblings, I felt a surge of pride as Phil designated me the official keep-your-father-out-of-jail ambassador. Officer Menace peered into the Club Wagon with purpose as he began his discourse of, "Sir, do you know why I pulled you over? Have you been drinking tonight?" while I climbed up to the front of the van near Phil’s window. "Officer Menace, perhaps I can explain; my parents aren't drunk. They're just deaf,” I offered helpfully, smiling with glee at being the chosen mouthpiece of the family.

The officer looked surprised to see a chubby nine year old with smudged glasses and a bowl cut addressing him with such familiarity. His drunk-driving suspicions appeared plausible as long as Phil remained mute. Strengthened by his suspicions, the officer bellowed "SIR, DO YOU KNOW WHY I PULLED YOU OVER? HELLO? SIR, ANSWER ME! DO. YOU. KNOW. WHY. I. PULLED. YOU. OVER???!”

Ever the pragmatists, Phil and Syl knew that while they communicated with hearing people on a daily basis, doing so now wasn’t going to help their cause. They looked at me with affected befuddlement while I explained to Officer Menace that my forty year old father was not suffering from premature hearing loss like an octogenarian, but was entirely deaf. This revelation led Officer Menace to stop looking at my parents as irresponsible simpletons and more like two people who could have him fired for screaming at the Deaf. After the color drained out of his face, the policeman muttered an apology and scurried back to his patrol car.

An unwanted brush with the law makes most people more cautious while driving, but Phil’s righteous indignation at being mistakenly screamed at made him feel like he could speed away on a sort of victory lap back onto the highway. Both parents praised me for what they assumed was excellent interpreting as Phil did not receive a ticket and/or go to jail, and I went back to dozing in the back seat. Before my eyes shut I felt a calmness wash over me as Phil and Syl picked back up where they left off with their conversation, our van barreling towards the great outdoors and the Great Commission of soul saving.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Naked Truth. By Joy.

My parents are big believers in the American dream. Like most of their fellow believers, they have always equated home ownership with securing a tangible piece of that dream. Unfortunately, as a young deaf couple trying to support a family of six on my dad’s meager associate pastor’s salary, their housing options were limited to a few neighborhoods bordering some less-than-family-friendly areas of Rochester, New York. By the time I reached my tween years, I noticed that our neighborhood was transitioning, and not in an upward direction. Once lulled to sleep by the sounds of crickets chirping and birds warbling, the popping of stray gunfire and wailing of police sirens now drowned these hallmarks of nature out. Though I was largely oblivious to the economic implications of the changing landscape, I definitely noticed that my new neighbors were a lot more colorful than they used to be. When some new blood moved in on the other side of my house, I was eager to make a good first impression. Before I could introduce myself, however, one of my new neighbors beat me to the punch.

Late one afternoon, I arrived home from school and hurried upstairs to my room. I threw my book bag on my bed and pressed “play” on my newly acquired compact disc player. I grabbed my brush and began rapping along with my favorite Christian rap group, DC Talk. I was rhyming hard core when I heard a competing beat. After a brief pause, I mentally confirmed that yes, I definitely heard the beat of steel drums coming from somewhere outside. Curious, I stopped rapping, hit the pause button, walked over to my window and peered out. My eyes scanned to and fro and I tried to pinpoint the source of the music. Suddenly, I saw a flash of bare skin through an open window in our neighbor’s house just above my own. The window, like the others in the house, was not equipped with blinds, shades, curtains, or any other fabric intended to ensure privacy. As the music I heard earlier was seemingly coming from that direction, I kept my eyes trained on the window and was mortified to see that the flesh belonged to my neighbor, a mysterious thirty-something woman with a pack-a-day habit and tattoos covering seventy percent of her body. Unfortunately for me, her tattoos did not fully obscure the undulating parts of her chest and mid-section I saw next. Horrified, I immediately spun around and tried to collect my thoughts. My first thought was to tell someone. Someone important. Someone who could make sure no one else was subjected to the gag-inducing scene I had just witnessed. But who? After mentally scrolling through a list of candidates, I settled on the one person whom I knew would share my sense of righteous indignation: my mother (hereinafter referred to as “Syl”).

My shoulders now heavy with the important news I carried on them, I approached Syl in the kitchen and requested an audience. Syl obliged and I proceeded to relate in fast in furious hand gestures the subject of my moral outrage. Predictably, Syl was furious at my neighbor’s inexcusable indiscretion and sprung into action. Or, as I should say, we sprung into action.
Having discharged my whistle-blowing duties, I attempted to leave the room. But before I could get out of arm’s reach, I felt Syl’s hand tighten around my shoulder blade. Twisting my neck around to see what she wanted, Syl signed, “You’re not going anywhere. We’re nipping this problem in the bud RIGHT NOW.” Slowly I realized that she intended for me to be her mouthpiece. My stomach immediately dropped as I realized I would soon be charged with the unenviable task of confronting my naked neighbor. I begged her to drop a note in the neighbor’s mailbox or adopt some similarly non-confrontational course of action, but Syl demanded that we address the issue right then.

And so we marched out the back door, down our driveway, up our neighbor’s lawn and climbed her porch steps before stopping at her front door—a door that Syl proceeded to rapidly and determinedly beat with her fist. I tried to explain that custom dictated that one knock on another’s door no more than three times, but Syl had no use for such meaningless social conventions. After a few seconds passed without an answer, I grew hopeful that my slutty neighbor would not make an appearance and began my transparent and ultimately fruitless attempt to coax Syl off of the neighbor’s porch. I had just convinced Syl to take a step or two back when I heard the screen door hinges squeak and saw the main door open a crack. Before I could stop myself, I looked back, but then quickly tried to spin Syl around before she saw the door. Alas, I was too late. Syl marched back up to the door, excitedly motioning for me to follow. I slid my feet across the splintered wood porch at a glacial pace, eventually making eye contact with the slits glaring at me from the dark crevice between the screen door and doorjamb.

“Yes?” a husky female voice queried.

I dutifully signed “Yes?” to Syl and waited.

Syl proceeded, unleashing her silent fury. As she signed, I spoke, trying desperately to soften the blow, to bring a sort of diplomacy to the situation.

Syl signed: “You have no respect for us. I have two teenage sons. You need to either keep your clothes on or get some curtains!”

I said to the naked neighbor: “We’re your next-door neighbors. Welcome to the neighborhood! Nice house. Though it sure could use some curtains, don’t you think? They’d really add a lot to your home d├ęcor.”

Doubtless sensing the disconnect between Syl’s beet red face, foaming mouth, and wild gesticulations and my composed, flat affect, the neighbor opened the door to reveal the same scantily clad woman I’d seen earlier. At this point, though, she was (thankfully) at least sporting a silky robe, albeit one that hit mid-thigh.

“What’s this about?” my neighbor said this time, with a decidedly unkind tone and an angry eyebrow raised in my direction.

Syl looked at me. I looked at the neighbor.

Syl signed, “Did you tell her what I said?”

I, of course, lied and said “Yes.”

I then turned to the neighbor and hissed through gritted teeth, “For the love of God, get some curtains.”

The neighbor leaned forward, cupped her hand around one ear, and said, “Huh?”

Seeing this, Syl all but flew into a deaf rage as she construed the neighbor’s physical gesture as a form of mockery. Before Syl could cut her way through the neighbor’s screen door and stab her, however, I desperately blurted out, “SHE WANTS YOU TO KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!”
Unfazed, our tattooed neighbor said, “Tell your mother to get over it” as she shrugged her shoulders and slammed the door in our faces.

“That went well,” I cheerily signed to Syl.

“What did she say?” Syl asked. “Is she going to get curtains or what?”

“She didn’t say,” I responded truthfully, speed walking back to our house, effectively ending the conversation, and praying all the while that our neighbor would move. SOON.