Saturday, December 31, 2011

I did it. blogged every single day for a whole year.

Last year, In January of 2011, I made a resolution. I promised to blog each and every day.  A story about being blind.  A good thing about being blind.  Some people thought I wouldn't do it and I wondered too.  There were days when it was particularly difficult.  When my beloved retired guide dog Gia died, when I was in the midst of creating my one woman show, when I didn't feel well, when I was travelling, when my dad had a bad accident.  but I kept going and am so glad that I did.  I've grown to love blogging.  It has become a part of my day and also has given me great ideas for storytelling.  I shall continue.  Maybe not always each day but as long as I have something interesting to say, I will carry on.  Thanks to all of y ou for reading and for showing an interest in my blog.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Great things about being blind. The thoughtful gift.

During this past fall, I performed my one woman show in three places.  A poster was made for this.  A poster that everyone seems to have loved.  Yesterday, I exchanged gifts with my mom.  She gave me one of the best and most thoughtful gifts ever.  She took my poster and had it framed.  I can now hang it on my wall and keep it forever.  What a great gift.  Great memories.  I know I can't see it but I am proud of it and proud to have it preserved.  I'm grateful to my mom for thinking of such a thoughtful gift.  Also, I'm grateful that she didn't think, "She's blind.  She won't care about having something like this."  Along similar lines, all of my guide dogs' puppy raisers have given me puppy albums of their pups.  I know I can't see them.  Part of me wishes I could have touched and held and spent time with my future guides as pups but I am so very very glad I have the pictures to show others and to keep for myself.  Thank you all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Great things about being blind. First wintry walk.

We've had snow and it is cold here.  So, yesterday, my guide dog and I took our very first walk in the major snow and snow conditions.  First, I put on her boots for the first time in months.  She wasn't particularly happy about this.  I called her and she came but when she saw the pruple pawz boots, she sneaked off.  Usually, she bounces over and I can hear her collar jingling but I heard none of that this time.  Didn't know where she crept off too.  I called her and reluctantly she came back.  Then, when I would try to put a boot on, she would curl up her paw and try to move it.  Once one boot was on though, she was great about the rest and enjoyed her liver treat when they all were on.  I think she was glad to have them on for the salt.  Her work in the snow was brilliant.  She was careful and cautious and guided me skillfully and carefully around clumps of snow.  I love to hear the patter of doggy paws in their boots too.  It is freezing this morning so soon we shall have another session of boot drama.  Stay warm and safe.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great things about being blind. Food surprises.

Sometimes, I open a can of something, a box of something, a bottle of something, a carton of something, and am surprised by its contents.  this happened to me the other day.  Luckily, this time, it was a pleasant surprise.  I try to keep my food items organized so I know what they are.  Labeling them or putting them in a certain order.  I bought some apple juice the other day in a jug.  Always before, it has been plain apple juice.  I had some yesterday and it is spiced like the spices for hot apple cider.  I guess they have it for the holidays and the person helping me shop just grabbed it.  It feels exactly like the other jug of juice I have bought before and it tastes pretty delicious actually.  I heated some up last night and it was so good.  What a pleasant surprise.  I have had unpleasant and strange food surprises too but this one was very nice.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Great things about being blind. Writing while lying down.

We've been having lots of swings in the weather. It was cold then warm and supposed to get lots of snow today. I woke up with a bad head ache and a bit queezy. So, I'm lying down again and blogging, checking e-mail and facebook. Lying down and I don't need to look at screen or keyboard to do it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Great things about being blind. Christmas dinner smells.

Last night, we had a christmas dinner with family. As I entered the house, I smelled that wonderful turkey smell. There is nothing l of christmas dinner. I listened to beautiful christmas music all day yesterday too. Choirs, lovely simple carols, beautiful harmonies. Maybe that is what looking at a beautiful work of art is like.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

GGreat things about being blind. Christmas morning snow.

I just fed my dog and took her out. It is very quiet outside. Few cars. Few people. I love the peace and quiet. It is snowing lightly and cold. Our feet crunch on the snow. Tulia sniffed and snorted. A beautiful peaceful christmas morning.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Great things about being blind. Christmas voices.

All of the christmas shows are on these days.  The ones I remember watching growing up.  Frosty the snowman saying Happy birthday when he came to life.  It's a wonderful life.  The Charlie Brown Christmas.  Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.  A christmas carol.  Hearing those voices again is so wonderful, so comforting, so christmasy.  The grinch song always makes me smile too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Great things about being blind. Listening to a Child's Christmas In Wales

One thing I like to do every holiday season, is listen to A child's Christmas In Wales written and read by Dylln Thomas.  His voice is so beautiful and deep and lilting.  And the words are so wonderful.  I first heard it as a kid on vinal records my parents had.  I was entranced from the first time I heard it.  Remarkable!  It is true storytelling in the use of words, voice, and language.  I listened to it again yesterday.  I love it every year.  If anyone hasn't heard him perform it, it is on and probably other places.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great things about being blind. The sounds of freezing rain.

It was freezing rain yesterday afternoon and last night too.  When it does this, I am glad I am blind and cannot drive.  It must be frightening and nerve wracking doing that.  I'm not quite sure what freezing rain looks like but it has certain sounds.  when it taps against the window, it really taps hard on the panes of glass.  When you hear it hit the railing or the car or any hard surface it also taps and clatters and bangs.  When it hits your skin it stings and it makes a tick tick sound against your hood.  You also can hear people walking cautiously moving with cautious steps and sometimes sliding.  So, when I hear all of these things, I try to be as careful as possible.  Stay safe out there everyone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Great things about being blind. And they say guide dogs don't problem solve?

Yesterday, I was doing a bit of christmas shopping and moving through a crowded little mall of sorts.  Tulia is very careful as she moves along through crowds.  I had wanted to go straight to the end of this open space.  Suddenly, Tulia turned left.  She did it with purpose so I followed her.  She then turned right and right again and back to where we had been.  I had no idea what she was doing until someone ran up to me to tell me about it.  She said there was a huge crowd of people standing talking and not moving.  Tulia had looked at them and then stared at them to see if they would move.  She does have the power to get people to do it but these people were oblivious I guess.  Tulia then glanced around and then spun left and then right and right again after we had gone around the people.  The woman was chuckling and said Tulia gave the group a bit of a dirty look with eyebrows raised.  As if to say, "You make my job so tough."  I thought back to some conversations where people say animals can't think and problem solve.  They sure can.  Thanks to Tulia for her work and dedication.  Thanks to you whoever you are who came and told me all about it so eloquently.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Great things about being blind. Playing carols

My grandfather was very musical.  He wasn't musically trained in any way but he could sing and remember songs and words.  No one else in our family seemed at all musical.  when I came along, and showed musical aptitude from an early age, he started teaching me songs.  I remember folk songs, irish ones early on.  but, I really remember that some of the first ones I learned were christmas carols.  I am playing carols for a seniors christmas party next week and so yesterday, I began practicing them on my keyboard.  As I p played the familiar melodies, I could hear his voice in my head.  It occurred to me then that maybe this is what it is like for a sighted person when they look at photographs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Great things about being blind. Guide dogs at play.

Several times within the past few days, people have mentioned to me that they didn't think guide dogs got to play.  They thought that they work all of the time.  That, when I am at home, they have to guide me around the house.  This is not the case.  I strongly believe that, just as we work better when we also get time to relax, so do our guide dogs.  When my dog is at home, she is not working.  I do not need her to help me around the house.  She is loose.  She plays, chews a bone, sleeps, and is a dog.  We have play dates with other dogs especially other guide dogs.  Sometimes we go for walks where the dog is not working and gets to run and sniff or works part of the time and runs and sniffs for the rest of the time.  I think it makes them more relaxed and better workers. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great things about being blind. Lost and found gloves.

Last night, my friend and fellow storyteller Sherri and I told holiday stories for kids and then adults at a local cafe.  It was lots of fun.  It was very cold last night.  When Sherri drove us home, Tulia jumped out of the car and then I stepped out and my foot stepped on something soft, squishy even.  I almost didn't put my hand down in case it was something gross.  But, I was too curious and when I did put my hand down, there was one of my gloves which must have  tumbled out of my pocket as I looked for my keys.  I put the glove on and then searched for the other one but it too was gone.  Sherri looked beside the car and there it was too.  I hate wearing gloves as they are like blindfolds for you sighted folks.  But, I need them and I hate losing them.  So glad I decided to be curious and touch what was under my foot.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Remember performance tonight on December 17 at cafe 97

I am telling stories with fellow storyteller Sherri Yazdani at cafe 97 on Maine street in Ottawa at 7 PM tonight.  Admission is free but donations to the tellers are welcome.  Stories for kids start at 7 with a break after and then stories for adults around 8:30.

Great things about being blind. Cold clear morning.

This is the coldest morning we have had  yet this winter.  But it is clear and bright.  when I took Tulia out, her feet crunched on the grass.  We went for a quick walk before her breakfast but she was very anxious to go back inside.  She walked very fast.  That cold air that you breathe in, you can feel it all through your chest.  Wonderful sun is shining in and warming up my back as I type and Tulia is stretched out on the bean bag very content.  It always feels so wonderful to get warm after you are cold. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Great things about being blind. Happy birthday to the Tulia dog.

My guide dog tulia is three years old today.   Where does the time go?
I've learned so much from her over the year and a few months that we've been together.
She is my fourth guide dog and they all teach us so much.
Tulia is the happiest dog I've ever seen.  Filled with a joy and love of life and all that is in it.  She bounces along with glee.  She is also calm and focused when working.  She is very intelligent.  She gives everyone around her joy and makes people smile who aren't feeling particularly like smiling at all.  First thing in the morning, when she hears me stir, she always gets up off her doggy bed and bounces over, I hear her collar jingle and her paws swishing across the carpet.  Then there is a wagging body beside me and a little chin leaning on the edge of the bed.  "Good morning!  Good morning!  Good morning!  Isn't it fabulous to be alive."  Then, she quietly goes back to bed.  I've grown to love this little ritual of hers.  Happy birthday wonderful Tulia.  Everyone that knows you is lucky to have you in their lives.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great things about being blind. Listening to the harp. Final storytelling rehearsal.

I am performing tonight on the national arts centre fourth stage. In a show called 500 years of Christmas. We tell stories about christmas through the ages. We have a harpist playing between each story too. We had our final rehearsal last night and I am pretty excited about the show. As I listened to the harp last night, I just loved the sound of it. The way the harp is so rich and full of different sounds. How the low notes are so resonant and the high ones so sharp and clear. Hope some of you can make it to the show.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Great things about being blind. The smell of pine trees.

The other day, I walked past a lot selling christmas trees.  I breathed in the piny smell and it really brought back wonderful memories of putting up and decorating trees.  Of sitting under the tree.  Of touching all of the wrapped gifts and guessing what they were.  Of singing carols.  Of christmas baking.  Of surprises you had for others.  All of that with just one sniff of pine!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Great things about being blind. Learning music.

I've mentioned before on this blog, that I'm back to playing piano again.  I'm taking lessons from a very good friend who is also a very good pianist and teacher.  We are working on the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.  I've always wanted to play it anyway.  We just learn a few bars a week and then I listen to the recording I make of it on my ipod and follow and learn that way.  I was practicing yesterday.  I have a lot on my plate these days and was feeling kind of wound up and stressed.  But, as usual, music calms me down.  The slow rhythm of that Beethoven slowed my breathing, my heart rate, everything.  NO wonder I have always loved Music and Music Therapy.  So powerful.  I love to hear the different colours of the chords and the progressions and I get lost in the whole thing.  When I finished, I felt like a whole new, much calmer, less scattered person.  I like learning music this way too by ear and learning a bit at a time and tacking it on to the last bit. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Great things about being blind. Identifying gifts.

I told a little story the other day about how good I was and am at identifying wrapped gifts. It makes sense really. I have a good sense of touch, hearing, and smell. I would always pick up wrapped gifts as a kid. First, I would feel their shape. If something is flat and square and you squeeze the edges and they bend, maybe it is a book. Then, I would shake it and listen. Clothes swish back and forth in the box for example. I would smell it. Chocolate orr other foods smell of course and so does leather or bath products. I was so good at it as a kid. I would be very unpopuuuuuularough by telling everyone very loudly what they got. They found me quite irritating at times. Especially the gift givers who were trying to surprise others.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

great things about being blind. Music, storytelling, and guide dogs make an impression

Yesterday, I volunteered with some singing friends. They sing in a small group either trio or quartet. We all went to a group of people who are homeless or at least are at risk of being homeless. I went along to tell stories and of course had Tulia my guide dog with me. As the hour progressed, people interacted with us all more and more. Listening to the songs, suggesting carols, and laughing at my funny stories. I had two stories to tell. At the end they begged for another one. After all was done, I took Tulia's harness off and some of them patted her and she rolled around looking for belly rubs of course. The combination of music, stories, and dogs was a magical one. Touched my heart. As we left, huge snowflakes were tumbling from the sky. Thank you to my friend for inviting me along. To those who listened and welcomed us all.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Great things about being blind, a wonderful dad.

Yesterday, was my wonderful dad's birthday. He has recently had some health issues but is recovering with humour and tenacity and a positive attitude. I have been thinking about what he has given me over the years. Sure, material things for which I am grateful. But, more than that. Always a belief that I could do things. That I was smart and capable. That I was blind yes but that was more of an inconvenience at times than something to be pitied or mourned. It was all about figuring out how I could adapt activities. I thank him for that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Great things about being blind. Christmas show and harp music.

Had a partial rehearsal for our Christmas show on December 15 last night. To find out more, I will post a link at the bottom of this post. I'm happy with my three stories. And the harp carols were beautiful. A light snow was falling as the rehearsal ended. Our kind host gave us all a ride home and it did feel Christmasy when I took Tulia for her last walk last night. I love the sound of the harp playing carols. Ottawa Storytellers fourth Stage Series: Christmas show

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Upcoming performances.

I have two upcoming performances next week. At the NAC fourth stage on Thursday December 15, I am in a program called 500 years of Christmas. To find out more, go to the Ottawa Storyteller's web site. See link below. On December 17, Sherri Yazdani and I are performing stories for holidays. First for kids and then for adults. At cafe 97. More details to come on that shortly. storytelling performance on the fourth stage

Great things about being blind. Access to braille.

Yesterday, I was working proof reading some braille documents. I enjoy that very much. I am so glad when people think to provide documents in braille. The other day when flying on Porter Airlines, I was thrilled to receive my safety card in braille. I am also always excited to get braille programs, braille cards, braille menus, and anything else in braille too. Although I have other ways of reading text, I do really prefer braille when I can get it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Great things about being blind. Belated happy volunteer day.

I believe that earlier this week it was international day of volunteers. So happy day to all volunteers. I've always enjoyed volunteering for many reasons. Learning new skills, helping my community, having fun, meeting new people, giving back to others. As someone with a disability, volunteering has been very important to me too. I was able to practice tasks and learn skills so that in job interviews, I could explain with confidence how I could do a job because I had volunteered doing it already. Then, I got hooked on volunteering and have done some sort of volunteering ever since. I also have benefited from volunteers. From volunteer readers and drivers to the puppy raisers who raised my guide dogs and so much more. So, get out there and volunteer. It's great!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Great things about being blind. The bad day that turned good.

Yesterday started out very badly.  I had reserved a taxi the night before to pick me up at 8 AM to take me to the airport.  When I reserved the cab, I specifically stated that I was blind and would be traveling with my guide dog.  Tulia and I were standing on the porch at around 5 to 8 and I heard a car pull up and stop.  He never got out or said who he was.  I walked down the stairs and called,  "Are you my taxi."
He opened his door and went crazy on me.
"I will die if that dog is in my car.  I will die.  I have allergies.  I have a note from the doctor."
I calmly explained that I had mentioned the dog when I called ahead.  That not taking us was against the law.  I put my hand on the cab door.  "No no no I can't take you.  I will die."
"then, you have about two minutes to get me another cab because I reserved it for 8 Am.  You will stay here until you get me one or I will get in your car."
He called dispatch.
The dispatcher gave him a hard time.  He was yelling at dispatch but telling them his customer was very agitated.
I was mad but calm not agitated.  That was him.
A cab pulled up behind him.  A very nice guy who got out and told the other one that he was an idiot.
Then, took me in his cab.
He even walked us to the air line desk which was very nice of him.
He was lovely and kind.
The porter airline staff were stellar yesterday.
Helping when I needed it.  Not condescending or over solicitous.
I took three other taxis.  All drivers were wonderful and great.
The workshop I presented went very well I think and hope.  A great group of people working with new Canadians who wanted to learn how storytelling can assist them in their work.
My flight home was delayed.  As I said in the last blog post, I sat on the plane home beside a very nice man and we had great conversations.
He walked with me out to the cabs at the end of it all so I didn't have to wait for staff to do it.
Very kind of him and he just directed  Tulia and I perfectly.
When I got home, there was a phone message from the cab company management asking me to call.  Will keep you posted.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The nice people you meet.

I've had a long and adventurous day and am tired. Just want to thank the wonderful man I met on the plane who walked with me from the plane to my cab and was such good company to talk with even though the flight was delayed and tulia didn't get dinner until 9:30 PM. Thanks Tim I don't know your last name.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Great things about being blind. Walk in the snow.

The other day, my guide dog and I, my friend and her guide dog, and our friend went for a walk in a large park in the snow. I loved hearing the dogs run around together. Their jingling collars. Them snorting in the snow. Their feet. My feet crunching through snow. Great conversations. Laughter. The snow was wet and good for snowballs. I loved forming them in my hands. This walk made me happy and relaxed. The dogs too I think. Tulia came home wet and tired and content. Nothing like good friends, good dogs, walking in nature, and snow!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Great things about being blind. Touching animals. It's a small world.

Last night, I told christmas stories to a church group of seniors at their christmas dinner. I sat with them for dinner and pie although I already had dinner so just had pie. Then, told stories that were well received. About my grandparents and christmas. Then, sang my first carols of the season. A wonderful magical night with great people. A lady came up to me after and asked if I remembered a trip to the museum of nature where people let me touch all kinds of animals. Squirrels, chip munks, humming birds, other birds, bears, beavers, etc. They were mounted and stuffed and usually not allowed to be touched. I loved that day so much. I never knew how long a squirrels tail was. How big it was. What a beaver's teeth were like etc. I couldn't get enough of it. Anyway, this lady was one of the ladies who let me touch those animals and she said she never forgot the wonder in me as I did so. I thanked her again and again for showing me nature. What a small world it is. Glad I could tell stories for her last night and give back a little for what I got all those years ago.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Great things about being blind. Kind describer.

Performed stories last night in a bar and did not like my performance. It was noisy and although afterwards people said that people were listening, it really didn't feel like it. There were lots of performers there. Some slam poets, a comic, and some reading poetry. A woman sat beside me and described each person as they got on stage. She told me about their hand movements, facial expressions, what they were wearing, what they looked like. In an environment where I felt somewhat lost and left out, she really helped me to feel more comfortable. I thank her for that so very much.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Upcoming performances

Tonight I am performing at an event at Ottawa U for international day of disabilities. It is not an open event I don't think.
Tomorrow I am performing for a church seniors group at night. Again, it is not an open event.
However, two upcoming christmas events are open.
On December 15, I am on the NAC Fourth stage for our storytelling series. 500 years of christmas.
We trace christmas through the ages.
I am performing with fellow storyteller Alan Shain and some musicians.
On Friday December 16, will be telling christmas stories for kids and adults with fellow storyteller Sherri Yazdani in a local cafe. More details to follow.

Great things about being blind. Happy birthday Gia.

My wonderful last guide dog Gia would have been 12 today. I am writing this with a tiny black lab snoring at my feet. My Gia was with me for over nine years. She worked for almost exactly nine years and was retired with me for about six months before cancer took her from us. She was solid as a rock as a worker. Kind and calm. She loved carrots and stuffed squeaky ducks. She shreded kleenex and offered a paw regularly. She loved to swim. She worked beautifully even after I wrecked my knee and got arthritis. She had a calm serene spirit. In retirement, she loved to play with Tulia and go for walks with us letting Tulia do the work. I would find them sometimes all curled up on one doggy bed. They kissed each other at the end. Thanks Gia wherever you are for a wonderful life together. Hope you are enjoying a carrot cake.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

re-posted blog post from Jan Andrews about my storytelling show.

Flying in the Dark's initial run is over but the accolades continue to come in. We gathered comments, as we always do, after the shows but Kim is still getting emails and so are we. Everyone is entranced with how she opened and closed by telling in the darkness, adding to the immediacy of her experience; how she carried us into her landscape so we too in our own ways could live it -- a landscape of sights and sounds and scents and textures that is rich and full. Everyone is intensely moved by her honesty in the second half where she allowed us to see not just her strength but her vulnerability; where she -- a daily blogger of Great Things About Being Blind, known for her humour and positiveness -- allowed us to enter into the other side of her world.

No one will ever know how hard this was for her. If I have learnt anything from all of this it is that living with disability means you have to prove your ability, over and over on a daily basis; you have to keep demonstrating how good your days are; always and always you may find yourself faced with the voices of pity, the voices that imply you are not just disabled but incompetent, the voices that seek to undermine. You can't afford to admit that you have weaknesses; you are pushed to appear almost super-human, even though you may do that with a laugh.

I didn't feel I could put this before but now it seems fitting to let it be known that she was wrestling with words and shapes and images almost until the last. In this, she showed incredible artistic commitment, always coming back for more. One of our sessions left both of us shaken to the core. We had thought it was "all right" and suddenly it wasn't. Neither of us knew what to do but still she hung in.

The work was hers and what she finally crafted -- in its simplicity, its grace, its laughter and its poetry -- had nothing to do with impositions from outside. Having said that, I would note that the work Jennifer and I did with her was what opened the doors. I would also say this depth of work is rare but when I see what Kim achieved I am yet more convinced that storytelling must have more of it if the art form is to keep on reaching out to listeners and so grow.

I'm going to finish with some quotes from Flying in the Dark's admirers. Before I do that, I would also point out that this is a show which has legs. It can travel. It could come to you if you would book it. Just get in touch with 2wp at

On to the quotes:

"A very moving performance, exceptionally honest."

"Kim, now I have the opportunity to tell you again how much I enjoyed your storytelling last Saturday night

in Perth. When the lights dimmed and faded away, and your voice came out of the darkness as a small child, full of wonder and joie de vivre, I was enchanted, and I am pretty sure the rest of the audience was too."

"Kim is a great story teller - gentle and vulnerable one moment then funny and raging the next. She had me gripped from the first moment."

"In the second half you showed your adult self, the struggles that I share with you and the courage that you have and I have and that makes us equals. I was able to stop thinking of you as "the remarkable blind woman" and start learning skills from a remarkable, but at times insecure just-like-me woman."

"Story telling is such a lost art - who knew it was alive and well in Ontario until you two came along? And, do you know what? It's just the same as being a child and listening with that tremendous focus, totally enchanted, totally in thrall, hearing nothing else, knowing nothing else."

"Thank-you, Kim, for that wonderful, funny, thoughtful, profound and totally entertaining show."

Great things about being blind. Still receiving great comments on my show.

I am still receiving lots of great comments about my storytelling show.  Thank you to all who came and listened and commented.  You are all wonderful!  In another post, I am going to re-post a blog entry from Jan Andrews of two women productions who produced and assisted with the creation of the show.  It was such a pleasure to perform and I hope I get to perform it again and again and again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Great things about being blind. Listening to the breathing of my dog.

I am in the midst of several work commitments and I woke up in the night a little anxious about alle to do. As I lay there, I heard my guide dog Tulia at the foot of my bed. Breathing deeply and regularly in her sleep. Snoring with a calm rumbling bass sound. And then periodically, a long contented sigh! Listening to the calm noises of my sleeping dog, I felt much calmer too. Then she started dreaming. Tulia is one of the happiest dogs I've ever met. she started wagging furiously and then making those little barks that sound like she's under water. furious running of the feet I heard them clicking against the wall. Then another long sigh and back to quiet sleep and somehow I went back to sleep too. Thank you tulia

Monday, November 28, 2011

Great things about being blind. Wonderful descriptions.

Over the past few weeks, I've learned a lot of things. I learned how you set off fireworks and what they might look like. I didn't set any off. I just had a conversation about them. I learned how long and what shape an otter is. I learned a little about the colour and quality of candle flames. Of course, I haven't seen any of these things but I love hearing the descriptions and knowing a little more about those things that are visual.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Great things about being blind. Hearing your audience.

There were 81 people at my show last night. I am so grateful to all of them. To all of the audiences I've had in the last couple of weekends. I loved hearing their responses. A chuckle, a sniffle, a full out laugh! A snort of indignation. A gasp. A giggle. The quiet of listening. The applause. The warm hugs and greetings afterwards. It has been quite a journey and I couldn't have done it without all of you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Great things about being blind. Interview and one more show!

Another show tonight. The third in a series. I will miss it. Am sad to finish in a way and hope that I can do many more performances of it. If anyone is interested in a show or house concert wherever you are, get in touch. The show is getting very good reviews. Being interviewed on cbc radio this morning 91.5 Ottawa. You can find it later on line and I will post the mp3 when I get it. Thanks to all for all of your ongoing support.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Great things about being blind. Looking forward to my show tomorrow.

Last week at this time, I was pretty nervous about my one woman show. Now, I am a bit nervous but mostly excited and a little sad that the show will be over for now. Would love to travel with it. After much grief in its creation, I do love it very much. If anyone would like it in their community, let me know and we can try to arrange it. House concerts, or performances of any kind are most welcomed by me. On another note, I'm off in a few minutes to be interviewed by cbc radio for a program called in town and out in cbc radio in Ottawa. Will let everyone know what time it will be on. Tomorrow it will be on some time between 6 and 9 AM on November 26.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Great things about being blind. The fur coat adventure.

I promised this story in the blog a few weeks ago. I wrote a post a while back talking about shopping for clothes and how I couldn't wear clothes that I didn't like to touch. I promised a story then. Other blog entries came up and I forgot to tell it. So, here it is now. One time, I was clothes shopping with my mom. I was wandering down an aisle on my own and she was in another one. I was touching clothes on the racks. Sometimes I touch them and if I really like the feel of them, I call the sighted person over to look. Often, they say they are hideous but every now and then I find the perfect thing. I was just sliding my hands along the clothes and I found a really nice furry coat. Not real fur. I wouldn't wear real fur I don't think except for the dog fur that gets all over me regularly from my guides. But a nice soft smooth fake fur. I ran my hands over it some more. Suddenly, it moved. It jerked. It said, "What the hell are you doing?" It was a woman in a furry coat. I apologized and when she turned and found that I was blind, she laughed a lot about it. I didn't ask her for her coat.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great things about being blind. Questions from kids.

We just got back from a day's work in a primary school. Four sessions of 45 minutes each to kids from grades 1 to 5. Lots of wonderful and well thought out questions. I so love doing storytelling and disability awareness in schools. It energizes me but I am pretty tired right now. Time to curl up with a good book and a wonderful Tulia and a cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Great things about being blind. Imagination.

On the weekend at one of my shows, got reacquainted with someone that I knew as a kid. She was a sort of guide for me getting to and from music camp when I was about 10 and she was 14 or so. For the next few summers, we spent time together when I was home alone and we did things together. She had a great imagination and she said how she remembered that we spent days at a time in other worlds. We recorded these radio play things and loved lord of the rings etc. Brings back great memories for me. Got me thinking about imagination. Since vision is the sense we all use the most (90 percent of what we learn is through our eyes) if someone is blind, they need to fill in gaps in their knowledge sometimes. They can ask questions. I do that a lot. And/or they can imagine things. I do that a lot too. So my imagination which is quite developed could have developed in part due to my blindness perhaps. However it developed, I am glad it is here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great things about being blind. Crunchy grass.

This is the coldest morning yet this season. I pulled out my winter coat for the very first time. When my guide dog and I went out and she stepped on the grass, I heard it crunch as she walked on it. The sun is beautiful though too but it is a chilly morning. Winter is coming.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Great things about being blind. Performing my show.

We're back from our adventure. The first two performances of my one woman storytelling show "Flying in the Dark". It was so wonderful. Thanks to Jan and Jennifer of two women productions for their suppport and for the transportation, company, guidance, and humour. Thanks to all who came out and heard the show and supported me. Thanks to my mom for taking Tulia when I was on stage. The two shows were quite different as audiences were different and responded differently. I haven't listened to the recordings I made yet but am very happy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great things about being blind. Multiple jobs of a guide dog.

The other day, we were talking to someone we know and found that he had just had to say goodbye to a beloved pet dog.  She was older but he was very upset about it.  He asked if he could pat Tulia.  Sometimes when you lose a beloved canine friend, you just need a dog fix.  And sometimes you really don't.  He did.  So off came the harness and Tulia obliged by being friendly, flopping on her back for a belly rub, wagging, etc.  I hope it helped.  She always cheers me up when I am sad.  She is such a happy little labby.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great things about being blind. Using the brailler.

I used my old brailler the other day to braille programs for my show "Flying in the dark"  It is a heavy old large machine.  I got it when I was six.  I usually use my braille note taker or computer or accessible ipod touch these days but sometimes I still use the brailler.  It is very satisfying to braille things by hand.  It is noisy and heavy but dependable and works well.  I was slow at first but soon picked up speed.  I guess you never foget those skills you learned first when you were six.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Great things about being blind. Final rehearsal.

Yesterday, we had our final rehearsal for my first ever solo one woman show, "Flying in the dark"  I can't thank Jan and Jennifer of two women productions enough for believing in me and in the show.
Check out their page at
I was nervous before the rehearsal and still am a little but mostly now I am very excited.
Performing on November 18, 19, and 26 but happy to perform in other locations with this show.
I've never worked harder on a piece.  Thanks to Canada Council too for their financial support.
If I hadn't been blind, I wouldn't have created this particular show!  Here we go!  Flying!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Great things about being blind. Riding the bus.

yesterday, Tulia and I went to make a video for a web site for the organization I work with bringing artists into the schools. I am one of their artists. Videos won't be up until the new year but see the link to their web site at the bottom of this post. It occurred to me as I traveled there, how much technology has helped me on these journeys. I got on the bus. The bus gives audio announcements for each stop so I didn't have to ask the driver where to get off. I could just listen and ring the bell like everyone else does. I didn't have to worry about if the driver might forget my stop. While on the bus, I called the office to ask if someone could meet me at the bus stop or watch for me at least. when I got off, they came and met me as it was a bit tricky to find the office and I hadn't been there in a long time. It was a much smoother journey for all of us with my cell phone and the audible bus announcements.MASC bringing artists into schools

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Great things about being blind. How blind people read traffic.

My guide dog and I were waiting to cross a street yesterday. The light was green when we arrived at the corner. I know this because traffic is going in the direction I want to walk. I hear it flowing along parallel to me. If I get to a corner and I hear that fresh surge of traffic meaning a green light, I direct my dog forward. If she sees some reason why we shouldn't cross, she will not move. but, if I get to the corner and I know the light is green but am not sure how long that has been the case, I wait for a fresh light. yesterday, someone said I could cross the street. I explained that I was waiting for a fresh light. Just as they said I could cross, the light turned red. Then all kinds of people still ran across. I actualy think blind peopleare more careful in traffic than sighted people. I always tell people that I'd rather wait one more minute at the curb to be sure than to cross unsafely and be gone. We are all in such a rush these days!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Great things about being blind. When guiding is your job.

Yesterday, tulia and I were walking along with a friend. Tulia was guiding me. My friend began commenting on what she was doing. guide dogs generally take us around things. Things in our path. We don't always know what things they are. Just that we are being taken around something. Tulia swerved around something. My friend said it was odd coloured pavement. Guess she thought it was dangerous. She did it again later and then took me all the way around a picture painted on the sidewalk. Viewed it as a dangerous obstacle I guess. She is so meticulous. She just had a grand run when she was not caring about me that much. Just sniffing and running and wagging. We worked on her recall and it improved as the walk went on though. She was loose and having a great time in the fenced in park.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Great things about being blind. choosing music for my one woman show.

As I prepare for my upcoming one woman shows in Peterborough, Wakefield, and Perth. See link at the end of this blog for details. There has to be background music playing before the show and during the intermission. At first, I was inclined to just let play whatever they had. I have been so busy with the show itself. But, I kept coming back to burning a cd. And so, this morning I chose. Bach preludes as the one in C minor is one of the first pieces I ever heard on the piano. Then the Mozart Clarinet concerto. One of the greatest clarinet pieces ever in my view. I loved playing it as a clarinetist and listening to it too. Then Beethoven. Piano sonatas especially the pathetique and the moonlight. I am learning the first movement of the moonlight right now but also Beethoven figures quite prominently in my show. I burned the cd and listened and felt the beauty of it. The power. Knowing it will steady my nerves and show me the beauty that is creating art. I am so glad I did it. Thank you Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. I love music with words too but it doesn't work so well for intermissions. One woman show link

Saturday, November 12, 2011

the creation process. Like climbing a mountain.

I've been fully immersed in my one woman show. It is being performed on November 18 19 and 26. See link for locations. I've been writing on my ipod, on my computer, on my braille note taker. I've been recording with my ipod, with my mp3 player. Storytellers do not read our material. We create stories to be told. I've been shaping, re-shaping, figuring out bits. Putting things in. Taking things out. Running the full show which is about 80 plus minutes of material. Over and over and over. Maybe now it is right. A little tweeking left and of course it always evolves as you perform it. Being blind has advantages for storytelling I think. I have a great memory. I have to. Can't look at street signs. Have to count blocks, remember where I turn left or right. How many doorways to pass to get to a room. good memory helps in storytelling. I am always immersed in words, language, the sounds of them. Good for storytelling. Onwards I go with this. It feels like a marathon run. The climb or a tall mountain. Hope the summit is marvellous!Two woman productions

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another full rehearsal of my one woman show.

One more full rehearsal of my show today. It is so interesting to see how it has progressed. The first full run through, we were very happy with the second half and not with the first half. The second run through, very happy with the first half and not the second half. I've made changes. Hopefully tightened things up a bit. So, hopefully today we will be happy with the whole. Rehearsing a show that is an hour and a half long takes time in itself. Wish me luck. Here's hoping it is great today. Only one week left until the first performance. See the link for more details on it.My show and two women productions

Great things about being blind. Moving around the house.

Someone asked me yesterday if I used my dog or cane to get around my own house. The answer is no. Once I am home, the dog is loose and she is no longer a guide dog. She is a dog. running around, playing, drinking water, sleeping in the sun. My cane is standing in a corner by the door. I move around. I know where things are. I don't count steps. I just know what is around me. They asked how long it took me to learn a new place. They asked six months? I'm glad they asked. six months? No. A week. Sometimes only a day. Depends on the place really and how much I move around it. If it is small, it may take only an hour or two. I'm so glad I get asked these questions.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Great things about being blind. My one woman show and tv.

I taped an interview yesterday with cbc television. It is for a show called Creative Block which will air some time next year. It is an hour long feature on an artist and they featured me, my storytelling, and my one woman show. We talked about disability arts too. They were wonderful, natural, and friendly and asked great and thought provoking questions. I loved talking to them and got paid for the story they recorded. Wonderful experience all round.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great things about being blind. Playing the piano.

I played piano when I was a kid. I started when I was six and took lessons for the next eight years or so. Then, I quit to concentrate on other instruments. After a while, I played again at work when I was doing music therapy. but, I haven't played in ages very much. Just recently, my friend has begun giving me lessons and I am back to playing classical music again. It is so relaxing. The sounds, the chords, the choices of notes the great masters have. It is so relaxing and awe-inspiring. Like walking in nature perhaps. Maybe this is what it is like to view a masterful work of visual art.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great things about being blind. Walking in leaves.

When I was little, we used to play in piles of leaves in the fall. Jump in them. Roll in them. I hear that their colours are beautiful but their sounds and smells and the feel of them is equally beautiful to me. when you walk in them, they swish. They crunch. They move. You can kick them and hear them skidding down a path. Walking in leaves makes you feel very powerful. Or it makes me feel that way. I love the smell too. Sharp smell that reminds me of fall. And to touch them. Rough and some of them crumble in your hands. It is a great pleasure. And a little sad to think a season is changing and soon it will be cold and icy and snowy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great things about being blind. Explaining the inaccessible.

I took a really great storytelling workshop with a wonderful storyteller yesterday. I learned a great deal. It was a wonderful day with a great group of storytellers. I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends. Whenever something was a little visual, they explained it to me without me having to ask. When I asked further questions, the workshop leader or my friends explained further. It is so great when people do this naturally and don't make you feel stupid or like you are taking too much of someone's time. What a wonderful feeling to be part of such an inclusive group and how great it is to always learn new things.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great things about being blind. Getting a ride.

Yesterday, Tulia and I had a very busy day. We had to buy a gift, then went to the children's storytelling festival where I was performing. From there, I went to visit family for a birthday dinner. I was going to take a cab there but was offered a ride by a kind friend at the festival. It is so nice sometimes when these things work out. We had a great chat in the car and I arrived early safe and sound. Thanks for the kind assistance.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Performing today at the children's festival.

I am excited to be performing today at the children's festival. It is free admission for all. I am performing from 3-4. For ages about 8 and up. Stories of family and friendship.
Library and archives Canada at Wellington and Bay.
I'm in the auditorium.
Come and enjoy.

Great things about being blind. Listening to things at top speed.

On my ipod, I have the speech rate set to %100 so I can listen to things quickly.
Last night, I was going over stories for a performance today. Listening to the text of the stories.
I could skim quickly through to find what I needed.
Then, I listened to the recording of myself too.
It too, I sped up.
Like speed reading I guess. Speed listening and it really works.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Great things about being blind. The feel of material.

I've been shopping for clothes recently. To find something new when I perform my one woman storytelling show in a few weeks. My mom and her good friend are great clothes shoppers and love it. I let them find bargains and clothes that look good on me. But, I can't wear something I don't like the feel of ever ever ever. It could be the best looking thing but if the material feels awful to me, I won't wear it no matter what. I feel terrible in it. I've always liked soft, smooth feeling material. Velvety things, suade or very soft leather, soft cotton or wool. I don't like scratchy material or fake feeling material at all. When I go in a clothing store, I feel all along the racks and find clothes I like the feel of first. Then, I ask what they look like. Tomorrow, a story when this went very wrong.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

story creation. Mulling it over.

I've come to realize as I work on my one woman show, that there are all kinds of activities in the creation process. The crazy frantic writing and recording. The research. the editing and re-recording. In storytelling you have no notes. It is just you and the story. Then, there is the mulling. absorbing things. Thinking things through. I used to think I was being lazy or procrastinating when I was doing this. but it is equally important to the process. After some part of the creation, to step back and think things through. Allow other ideas to come forward.

Great things about being blind. Helpful construction worker.

The weather here is beautiful. Wonderful fall weather with lots of sun. yesterday, while out running errands, we came across construction. I've probably said this here before. Construction is hard and confusing for me. the loud noises make me lose my sense of direction sometimes and I can't hear what else is going on around me. Like other traffic. Sometimes the sites are not well barricaded and I get into the midst of a gravely mess. Guide dogs help with all of this but it still can be tricky. when I heard the noises ahead, I thought about going another way. I sometimes do this. I slowed down and listened. The machines stopped. I approached. The worker described to me in great detail what was going on, how far the construction lasted, how long they would probably be there. What a great help it was. He also didn't turn the machines back on until I had crossed the intersection and was further up the next block. Thank you whoever you are.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Several upcoming storytelling performances.

I have several upcoming storytelling performances. this saturday November 5 I am telling at the children's festival in Ottawa at library and archives Canada from 3-4. Stories of friendship for kids 8 and up and adults. Admission is free.
Storytelling with my one woman show, for details see
and look for flying in the dark.
Storytelling on the NAC Fourth stage for the christmas show 500 years of christmas.
December 15.
I'm always available to do school shows, shows for adults and seniors, and house concerts. To find out more, please contact me.

Great things about being blind. More halloween.

there were a few great things about trick or treating as a kid who was blind. I could wear any kind of mask or face covering and not worry that I couldn't see. I would get candy in my bag and wouldn't know what anyof it was until I got home and surprised myself by feeling it and smelling it and finding out. I could trick or treat in the dark with no problems and no getting lost.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Great things about being blind. Halloween adventure.

We didn't get to give out much candy last night. But, when the bell rang and the little kids came, it reminded me of a halloween adventure I had. I must have been about 9 or 10 years old. We were going all together around. A bunch of kids. We came out of one house after going in one door and out another. I knew we had been walking up hill but suddenly we seemed to be walking slightly downhill. I told the others we were going the wrong way. We were supposed to be going slightly up hill and we were going slightly downhill. They said no we weren't going the wrong way. We got to a house and rang the bell. The woman said, "What are you doing back here again? We've already given you candy." I was right. They had gotten turned around after coming out of the house. I was so proud of myself. It was dark. I knew where we were better than the others. they checked with me after that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Great things about being blind. When you're a little anxious by smelling smoke.

We were away for the weekend and took the train back yesterday. It is so nice to have a small guide dog who can fit comfortably at my feet on the train. We boarded and Tulia curled up at my feet. Soon after leaving the station, I smelled smoke. Lots of it. Others pointed out to train staff about the smoke. I was nervous at first and then realized that Tulia was lying sound asleep on my feet. If it had been very dangerous, I think her canine instincts to flee would have gotten her up at least sitting up and sniffing. It made me calmer. The train stopped. Smell of smoke grew less. They checked everything out and thought it was due to new brake pads. On we went. No more smoke until we approached our station. Then I smelled it again but not as strongly. so, Tulia was right. Nothing to worry about. I am so so much calmer in these situations with a steady, calm guide at my feet. Thank you to my guide dogs for being such wonderful workers and companions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great things about being blind. Touching the elephant.

Yesterday, I wrote about touching a koala bear. It reminded me that when I was quite small, I was allowed to touch an elephant at the zoo.
I don't remember much about it as I was very little. I do remember climbing up a kind of ladder and then being lifted up to touch the elephant's side. It felt like a coconut I remember too. I am always grateful for people at museums, zoos, and other places that let me touch forbidden things. How else will I know what they are like after all?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Performing next week at the children's festival.

I am performing next week on November 5 at the children's storytelling festival in Ottawa. At the library and archives on wellington street from 3-4.
Admission is free.
Although it is a children's festival, my set is fun for people of all ages.
The theme is friendship.
Please come and enjoy.

Great things about being blind. Touching a koala bear.

I hadn't thought of this in a long time. A friend yesterday posted something on facebook about a koala bear and it made me think of this. When I was in University, my dad lived in Australia working for the Canadian government. I went to visit him there one christmas. We went to a zoo of sorts. Not a real zoo as the animals were free within the grounds. Kangaroos, camels, even a wombat. I touched them all. It was so wonderful to feel the fur or hair, the shape of them. To listen to rare birds. The man who owned the farm took me around and let me touch things. Generally, no one was allowed to touch anything. We reached the koala lying on a branch. He said, "I'm going to let you touch the koala's back. Just so you know, the queen of england was here and I wouldn't even let her touch the koala." I did touch its nice soft fur. Go blind people. We can do things sometimes even royalty doesn't get to do.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Great things about being blind. Answering questions.

Recently, I was sitting on a bus and a woman started talking to me. She said that a relative of hers was losing vision. She was very curious about how I used my ipod. Of course I had it with me. We then talked about guide dogs, canes, computers, marking appliances, and all kinds of things. She was very intelligent, interested, and asked great questions. She was a pleasure to be around. I hope that I helped her and maybe her relative too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

great things about being blind. Education of the public continues.

Recently, I was waiting for a bus at a busy stop. I don't always use this but there is a card you can hold up to tell the drivers which bus you want. It comes with a pack of numbers, brailled in the corners and large print. I can slip the numbers of the bus I want into this plastic sleeve and hold it up. I only do this at very busy stops when I need a certain bus. I had it the other day. The bus stopped. I got on. A man came up to me on the bus and said, "My friends and I are having a debate. Do you have those numbers so you can teach your dog which bus to find?" I laughed so hard. Couldn't help it. I explained that the numbers were for the driver or those around me to read. My dog is smart but I doubt she can learn to read although that would be handy for reading documents etc wouldn't it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Great things about being blind. Where is the hotel?

This must be my week for being asked where places are. I guess I look like I know where I'm going when I'm out walking. That is a good thing. A tourist stopped me esterday to ask where a certain downtown hotel is. I knew where it was and could direct her. She was very grateful and said others around us had no clue where it was and they could see. Go blind people!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

great things about being blind. Kindness at the bus stop

tulia found me a bus stop yesterday. We've been using it for weeks. It is marked by a pole along a stretch of sidewalk. As we stood there, a man came up and said that there was a sign that the bus stop had been moved. He showed me where the new stop is closer to the corner. The driver said it had moved a while ago. Strange, all drivers have picked me up at the old stop and no one has told me it has moved. Thanks so much to the people who were thoughtful and took the time to inform me and help me find the new stop. You are awesome.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Great things about being blind. Asking for directions.

The other day, quite early in the morning, Tulia and I were walking along when a car pulled up beside us, they rolled down the window and asked me for directions. I know our downtown area extremely well and could provide very detailed directions including about the one way streets. They asked why I knew about the one way streets. Knowing which are one way help me to figure out where I am if I lose count of blocks. So, I remember which are two way, which are one way and which order they are in. The people were very impressed with my directions. I could tell them exactly how many blocks to travel and which streets to turn on. As for visual landmarks, they were out of luck.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Great things about being blind. The laughter in the room.

For the last three nights, I've been part of a remarkable group of storytellers and performers bringing a murder mystery to life at one of our local museums. I had a funny scene and listened for the laughs each time we performed it. Since we performed it six times a night, there were a lot of laughs. Like people identifying others by their faces, I can hear certain people's laughs. I would think, "Oh good. There's..." It is always fun and a bit of a surprise to realize that you know someone in the room.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Great things about being blind. The kindness of the starbucks worker.

This morning on our way to yoga class, a woman approached us on the street to say that she worked at the starbucks near me. I had gone in there a few weeks back looking for one of their braille gift cards. They didn't have any left. In the mean time, I did find one at another store. But, this morningg she approached me, introduced herself, and said that she had gotten some more of the braille cards and had put a couple in the back for me if I needed one. I thought it was most kind and thoughtful of her. "After all," she said, "You need it more than the sighted people do. It makes it much easier for you to know what cards are in your wallet and which one the starbucks card is." She is so right. I do appreciate her kindness and thoughtfulness.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Great things about being blind. The public amuses me.

The other day, I was clothes shopping with my mom. She is a good shopper and likes it. We were in a store and found these inexpensive but nice jackets. I was trying one on. Not in the fitting room but in the area just outside of them. My mom had gone to look for more jackets. Tulia was sitting beside me in harness. A lady walked in towards the fitting rooms. She started patting Tulia. How do I know? You can feel a motion through the leash which I was holding. I explained patiently that she shouldn't pat my dog because my dog was working. I know this confuses some people. If the dog is sitting still or lying under the table in harness, are they still working? Yes they are. I am very clear about people not patting my dogs while working. It can lead to dangerous behaviours like the dog running me into something, pulling me towards people, etc. tulia is a people friendly dog so I have to be careful. And besides, she's so cute everyone wants to pat her. The woman said, "I have to pat your dog because I was blind for a year when I was 17." I just repeated, "Don't pat my dog. She is working." The woman went into the fitting room and closed the door. I laughed. Tulia was just sitting there like a statue. but how could someone justify patting a dog because they were blind once. I wrecked my knee a few years back and was pretty physically incapacitated so does that mean that I get to pat every service dog for a wheelchair user? I just can't follow the logic. I didn't buy the jacket either as it didn't fit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Great things about being blind. The feeling of a hair cut.

Yesterday I got my hair cut. I really really needed it and it feels so much better. I love that feeling when the extra hair comes off and my face is not hidden behind my curly hair. My guide dogs always amuse me too. They sniff the hair on the floor. "whose hair is that? Not mine is it?"
I like people who cut my hair who listen to what I say but also tell me honestly what looks good. My mom's neighbour is cutting it for me now. She is a retired hair stylist and only cuts a few people's hair at her house. She is so great and so much fun.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Performing in a group on October 20, 21, and 22 2011

I will be performing with a group of about 20 people in our annual series, spirits of the times. It is always held at a local museum here. The billings estate museum. It is usually a murder mystery. People travel around and hear different scenes and try to solve the crime.
I am a nun this year.
I've been a worker, a schoolgirl, a women's christian temperance person, a blind murderess, and several other characters. If anyone wants to come, seating is limited. Saturday is sold out but still tickets for thursday and friday.

Great things about being blind. Ipod touch to the rescue.

Yesterday, my ipod touch came to my rescue several times. I had to go and do a storytelling presentation to a large group of government workers. I found several things I could wear but was looking for a white top and a red vest I have. Good old colour identifyer ap identified them for me. Then, I had to dress all in black for the part of a nun I am playing for our ghost walk series. I even have a black dog of course. How convenient. Again, snapped my clothes with the ap to make sure they were black. Then, last night in dress rehearsal, my partner needed her script a little and didnt have one. where was mine? On my ipod touch so I put it on so we could hear the lines. Good old ipod touch with voiceover saves the day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

like old friends.

Next week, fellow storyteller Sherri Yazdani and I will be performing our olympic and paralympic stories at a management retreat for staff at a long-term care facility. As I re-learn these wonderful stories, it is like becoming reacquainted with old friends I haven't seen for a long time. sherri and I are hoping that this is just the start of repeats for this show in the upcoming olympic and paralympic year. If anyone would like to find out more about the show, please contact me at

Performance for government workers.

I will be doing some storytelling today for some government workers at one of their meetings. Can't wait. It is always so fascinating to tell stories in different venues for different audiences and show people how wonderful and engaging storytelling is.

Great things about being blind. Eavesdropping.

I think I have said on this blog before that the equivalent for me of people watching is people listening. Eavesdropping. I do love that term. Yesterday, there was a woman on the bus talking on her cell phone. I couldnt help but listen. she used such interesting language. I suppose we shall just have to weather the storm. He was the most marvellous benefactor. I shall be descending from the bus at its next stop. Wow this was great. She spoke softly but with a very resonant voice. I would have loved to have had a conversation with her. She sounded interesting and the language was intriguing to me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Great things about being blind. yoga ignorance is bliss.

I was talking to a friend the other day about yoga classes. I had just come back from my yoga class for blind people. She said that at her yoga class, people worry when the person beside them is more flexible, more able to do perfect yoga poses, stronger, seeming less tired, etc. The great thing about being blind and doing yoga is that you don't look over and compare yourself to anyone else. You just do your own yoga to the best of your ability and you do get better and stronger and have less worry I would imagine. Here's to being blind while doing yoga.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Great things about being blind. Thankful for family.

I won't write much about this here yet, but a family member has had quite a serious accident. He will be okay but it got me to thinking about my family. My parents and grandparents, uncle, and other relatives had probably never been around a blind person before I was born. They didn't know anything about blind people. How they did things. How they functioned. If this blog had been around for them, perhaps it may have helped them. And maybe it is helping others. I would like to hope it is anyway. But, they rose to the occasion. They included me in everything and never limited the activities we did as a family because of me. We all skated, cross country skiid, bicycled, swam, water skied, and more. They always treated me like an intelligent kid and said I could do whatever I wanted in life. They gave me confidence. They gave me humour. They gave me determination and I am forever grateful to them for being so wonderful.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Great things about being blind. Company when sleepless.

Last night someone had a gathering. Well not a gathering. A loud and long party. At three in the morning it was so loud, I couldn't take it anymore. No, I didn't go to join in. I got up and came downstairs. I read and listened to podcasts in the dark. I put the head phones in and played my electronic keyblard in the dark. And then, Tulia got up and came looking for me. I doubt she was having trouble sleeping but it was nice to have a black dog keep me company when I was awake for a good part of the night. And nice I could read and write and play music with the lights off so no one else was disturbed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The creative process

I heard a wonderful storytelling performance last night from a storyteller from England called Christine Cooper. Battle of the trees. It was so excellent. Very intricate weaving of stories throughout. From ancient tales to modern. From the autobiographical to the mythic. And music and a few recorded voices thrown in. I asked her about the creation process after. This is so much on my mind lately because of my own show that is in creation. She talked about mulling things over in her head for a long time. I used to feel guilty when I wasn't physically working on a show. Not recording. Not writing. But just thinking things through. The more I do it, the more I know that it is absolutely a necessary and huge part of the process for me and should not be overlooked.

Great things about being blind. The dog that welcomes you home.

I went to a storytelling house concert last night. It was crowded and I got a ride and besides it was raining and Tulia hates rain. So I left her at home. I had a wonderful time. Great stories, food, and company. I hardly ever leave Tulia home. She is my guide after all. So, last night when I came in, I was a little disappointed. All was quiet. No Tulia waiting at the door. As I took off my jacket though, a thundering racket on the stairs. A jumping. A bouncing. A leaping running labrador came flying down two flights of steps as she had been up on her bed in the bedroom. A wagging joyful dog who gave me kisses and sniffs and wags. I'm glad she wasn't pining away for me but doesn't it make your heart joyful to know that another being is so glad to have you home?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Great things about being blind. Learning always learning.

As I create my one woman storytelling show, I am learning so much.  Learning about creating a full show of integrated stories.  Learning about the way I tell stories and things I can do to improve myself as a storyteller.  But, also learning some surprising things.  I never knew how super man holds his arms up when he flies.  I thought they would be straight out to the side.  I never knew how tight rope walkers did what they do.  I always forget how far away people can see things.  Much further than those of us who are blind can hear things or people.  I am glad that I am forever learning and learning and learning.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Great things about being blind. Not seeing the pigeons.

Yesterday, I stepped outside my house with a friend. she then told me that two pigeons were strolling down our sidewalk. Yuck yuck yuck! I love animals of most types but I do not love pigeons. They once tried to make a nest on our balcony. I don't like the noises they make. I just don't like them. But, I wouldn't have known they were walking there if my friend hadn't said. I'm glad she said it but I'm glad I haven't seen them other times strolling down the sidewalk. In this case, blind ignorance is bliss.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Performing tonight.

I am performing with fellow storyteller Lisa Virtue tonight at the tea party cafe 119 York street in Ottawa. Two thanksgiving tales from me. Some dogs, some music therapy, fire alarms, interesting seniors. Lisa is telling a family story about well you'll have to come and see and possibly a tandem tale too.

Drawn to the story.

My one woman show is coming along nicely. At last the second half feels like a story with a real arc that makes sense. I keep being drawn to it, playing with it, adding things, taking things out. And a few weeks ago, I felt like running from it. Ah the creation process.

Great things about being blind. Two beings moving as one.

The other day, my guide dog Tulia and I set off to go to yoga and run errands. It was a clear beautiful morning. The recreation centre for yoga is several blocks away. Some long ones. Some short. As we moved along the streets, I thought about how natural it feels to walk with Tulia now. when I first got her, her gait seemed strange. More bouncy than Gia's before her. Her movements were different. She was so much shorter. I'm sure she was thinking the same about me. but we've hit that stage where we seem to know what each is doing. As we neared the yoga place, I thought, I'm early. Time for a cup of tea at the starbucks. I slowed down. Tulia slowed down, glanced right at the yoga doors and then I said forward instead, she pranced off and took me to the starbucks door instead. While running errands, it felt the same. To the grocery store. To the bank machine. It is like we can read each other's minds. It has happened with all of my guides. Creeps up on you this feeling but is so wonderful when you get to that place.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Great things about being blind. Exercising blind.

Yesterday, I read newspaper articles while riding the exercise bike. I wanted to make sure I got a lot of exercise before I ate a big thanksgiving dinner. I can read articles with my ipod and don't need to look as I pedal. I listen to them and pedal away. Another thanksgiving dinner tonight so to the bike again I go. i actually try to bike every day as well as getting some exercise with Tulia.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Great things about being blind. More wonderful assistance in the store.

It is beautiful weather here. Warm and sunny and what a great thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday, I dropped into a small store that has lots of bulk items. I needed a few things and when we got to the section, I asked for one thing I knew they had. Without me having to ask, the sales person asked if I wanted to know what other similar bulk products they had. She read them all to me. she was unhurried and patient. I ended up getting some bulk dark chocolate covered mixed nuts and rasins so maybe knowing all of what they have is dangerous? Thanks to her for making my shopping a pleasure and thanks to Tulia for not grabbing things off the floor in the bulk foods.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Great things about being blind. Thanks to apple

I've raved about my ipod touch before. but since the death of Steve Jobs, I want to talk about it again. It is rare that a company that is mainstream thinks of accessibility right out of the box but apple has. I walked into an apple store, bought my ipod, and they helped me turn voiceover on and I could use the ipod. I had a bit of a learning curve but now I blog, surf the net, do e-mail, listen to and download podcasts, identify colours of things, read books, listen to music, record my storytelling. And so much more. I am never without my ipod. Thank you Steve and apple. May other mainstream companies learn from your example.

Friday, October 7, 2011

who said creation was easy?

I spent the bulk of the day yesterday with Jan and Jennifer from two women productions who are putting on my one woman show in November. They are coaching and assisting with it. We're going to work on it today too. See the link to their site at the bottom of this post. What a job creation is. Hard but rewording work. Getting everything just right. The whole second half will probably be new material and is not at all what I thought when we started. I will be doing some house concerts in Ottawa after christmas too I am sure. If anyone wants to offer their place or knows of performance locations, let me know. Happy to tour the show as well. If anyone is interested in booking it and/or talking about it, let me know. 2 women productions

Great things about being blind. Election results.

We had a provincial election here yesterday. I mentioned before about voting independently for the first time. Last night, when the results started rolling in, I followed them on twitter. I wasn't convinced I would like twitter at first. I like to write and resented that I had to fit my words into 140 characters. but I like it now. I use tweetlist ap on my ipod touch and it is very accessible. Before, when watching election results, often they would scroll along the tv screen. I couldn't follow as well as I would like to in the moment. I had to wait for the tv announcer to say the results whenever they felt like doing so. Last night, up to the minute results came through on the twitter feed and I was informed as things happened. Yay accessibility.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great things about being blind. Wonderful customer service.

While out running errands the other day, I stopped to get lunch at a local burger place. They have home made burgers which are delicious. I got the combo which involves getting a drink out of the cooler which I can't do independently. Well, I could but who knows what drink I would get. Before I even asked if someone would get me a bottle of water, he said, "I'll get your drink for you. What would you like?" Then, he read me all of the toppings for my burger. He got me a bag to carry it in and napkins etc without me having to ask. How nice. It is always wonderful to have good and thoughtful customer service.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I am such a up on the technology dog.

Yes, yes I am the smartest and techiest guide dog. I now have a twitter account @TuliaKimard a strange name I know but there it is.
I also have a facebook page Tulia's musings but not my own facebook account.
Maybe Kim will get me one?
follow me. My tweets will be wonderful.

Glad to be performing our olympic paralympic material again.

As the olympics and paralympics approach, my fellow storyteller Sherri Yazdani and I are thriled to be starting to perform our olympic and paralympic stories again. I will be performing my paralympic story for a workplace team building next week and we are doing our set for another workplace event in a couple of weeks. The program is wonderful and riveting. If you would like to book us, contact me at

Great things about being blind. Word processing.

When I was in highschool and university, I had to type essays, exams, and assignments on a typewriter. Although I was and am a fast and good typist, I could not proof read my work. If the ribbon ran out, I wouldn't know it. A story for another blog post. People had to proof read for me. since the advent of computers, I am now able to type and proof read for myself. I am able to save documents so that even if my printer runs out of ink, I can print a document somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Great things about being blind. Braille gift cards.

The other day, I got a gift card from starbucks. I have a few of these gift cards. I have had them for coffee shops and other food places, for book stores, and more. They are flat and smooth and I have to really keep them straight so I don't pull out the wrong one at the wrong time or place. but, this new starbucks card says in braille starbucks across it. Thank you starbucks. I wish every store would do this. Now, I can put my hand in my wallet and feel and read which card it is. Oh to have the day when they are all like that and I don't have to label them or put them in order myself.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Storytelling at the teap party on October 11

I will be performing with fellow storyteller Lisa Virtue at the tea party cafe 119 York street in Ottawa next Tuesday October 11 from 7 to 8:30.
My stories are of holidays. My most memorable thanksgiving. A dog with a passion for holiday eating.
Lisa is telling a tale about a summer stunt and there may be some skunky adventures too.
Come and join us.

Proud to be learning part of the odyssey

We started on an epic journey yesterday. 17 storytellers with 17 different storytelling voices, all going to tell the whole odyssey in one day on June 16 of 2012.
A day long experience for audience and tellers.
Something not to be missed.
I'm honoured to be telling a tale so ancient with such beautiful language.
Telling this type of material enhances all the other types of stories I craft and tell.

Great things about being blind, what can I do with my computer?

Thanks for your great questions after yesterday's post. Someone asked how to make their web sites accessible. I will comment on that in future posts but someone also asked what programs I can use on a computer. I use screen reading software on my computer and ipod. It reads what is on the screen. In future days, I will talk about various programs that are easy and difficult for me to use. For now, if you have an iphone, ipod touch, or Ipad and you want to try voiceover which is what I use, go to settings, general, accessibility, turn voiceover on. The gestures are a bit different so try the practice gestures help but then see what you think. Thanks again Apple for making your devices accessible right out of the box.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Great things about being blind. Web accessibility.

Over the past few days, three different people have asked me to check their web sites for accessibility for blind people. I am so glad. I haven't done it yet but will do so soon. Times are changing. It used to be that no one thought blind people even surfed the net. Thank you for asking me to give you feedback. An accessible web site is always a pleasure. An inaccessible one causes great frustration.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Great things about being blind. Learning to type.

As sighted people could not read what I wrote, I learned to type when I was in grade four. I learned to touch type on a regular typewriter. I couldn't proof read my work but could type very quickly soon after beginning. I am typing right now on my bluetooth keyboard with my ipod touch and a blog booster ap. How times have changed. I'm so glad I learned to type all of those years ago.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Great things about being blind. Learning to sign.

Okay, I don't mean learning to sign as in sign language although I have attempted that too. Learning to sign my name. It was tricky. Every morning in grade eight we practiced it. I was told how to make each line using an empty braille cell for orientation. K for example is straight up the left side of the cell, back down to the middle, up to the right on a slant. Back to the mddle on the left, then down on a slant to the bottom right. Make sense? It did to me. Tomorrow, learning to type.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Great things about being blind. There's something on your shirt?

So, someone asked me the other day, "If I saw that your shirt was on inside out, if your clothes didn't match, if you had spilled something on your shirt, should I say something?" We all struggle with this right? We see someone with one of these things and don't quite know if we should say something. Well, I never have that problem but my answer to you is yes please say something. Not loud and embarrassingly but on the side. I do really appreciate it. Otherwise, I might just stroll into a job interview like that or something.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Great things about being blind. Getting my signature.

Someone asked about how to show a blind person where to sign a document. For someone who is totally blind like me, a very good way is to put something just below the line. Like a a credit card. That way I can feel where the signature line is. I often carry signature guides with a hole in the middle. You can then place the card on the paper with the line in the hole. Makes life a lot easier and you don't have to worry about me signing in the wrong place. Tomorrow, how I learned to sign my name.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Performing tonight at the tea party cafe

I'm performing tonight with another storyteller at the tea party cafe in Ottawa 119 york street. Wonderful tea, goodies, conversation, small and friendly atmosphere. We each have two stories. If you want to find out from me
What was my first job?
What was so unique about my boss?
Who made a bunch of blind kids cry?
Come and hear the tales.

Storytelling workshop begins again.

I've begun delivering my second storytelling workshop on autobiographical storytelling. what an interesting group and wonderful participation. I learn so much from doing this. We are in a new wonderful location and I enjoyed myself so much. You always learn a lot when you teach.

Great things about being blind. Kibble for the guide dogs.

Yesterday, I went to a new location to start teaching a storytelling workshop. My friend met me at the bus stop and showed me the way there and back to my other bus stop after. So, I had to find three new bus stops and a new building. I used back chaining and food rewards and my guide picks things up so fast. It is easy for a blind person to do too. find the door, bus pole, with a cane or someone show it to you. Feed the dog there. Step back two steps hold the leash and see if she surges towards it. She almost always does. More food. Back a little further, surge, more food. Then back to the corner and work to the pole or steps. She finds it like magic. How wonderful this is.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Great things about being blind. Accessible voting.

Yesterday, I voted in advance for our upcoming provincial election. I went to the station and they had an accessible voting machine there for me. They had to set it up first but once it was set up, it was wonderful. It talked me through the whole process, had large tactile buttons, confirmed my voting choice and then printed the ballot. It was absolutely wonderful and I could do it totally independently. How wonderful that is. It's about time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Great things about being blind. Guiding on the stairs.

People have asked me how they should guide someone who is blind on the stairs. It is simpler than many people think. Do not grab my arm from behind. I will then be ahead of you and will have no idea what is in front of me. Let me take your arm. This way, I can feel as we ascend and descend stairs. When we get to a flight of steps, you don't need to count them. By feeling the motions as we move, I will know when we reach the top or bottom. Just tell me that we are going up or down and anything unique about the stairs. If they are curved, with steps spaced widely apart, or anything like that. Then, we can proceed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The process of creation.

I'm working away at my one woman show which will get its debut this November thanks to Jan and Jennifer at two women productions. It is quite a process. Creating, recording myself, writing, editing, trying things out on others, discussing, working with my voice and words, and more. I spent a full day working on it with Jan and Jennifer and last night I felt like I had run two marathons, swam a river, and then walked across Canada. But it is tremendously exciting and rewarding and hard work. Seeing it take shape is amazing. Stay tuned for dates and locations.

Great things about being blind. showing me to a chair.

This sounds simple. Some people make it more difficult than it needs to be. You are showing me to a chair in a room. do not lift me into it. Yes, this has happened. Do not place me in front of it and push down on my shoulders to get me to sit down. Yes this has also happened. Explain where the chair is in relation to me. My guide dog may find it if I ask her to do so. but, if you are guiding me to a chair, place my hand on its back or arm. Then I can deal with it. Pull it out, examine it to see the best way for me to get into it. Thank you for reading and for being so wonderful with comments.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Great things about being blind. Describing a room.

If you are orienting me to a room, here is the procedure. When we step in, you can describe the room to me as best you can. How big is it? What does it contain? Where are the doors, tables, bathrooms? Anything you would like to know yourself if you entered a strange room blindfolded. Then wait for my questions. I will ask what I need to know. Thank you. It is great when I get wonderful descriptions of new locations.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thanks for your comments.

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments and suggestions. I value them so much and they help me to write and create the blog.

Great things about being blind. The food on my plate.

Eating can be an adventure. What is in front of me? I know what I ordered so maybe the piece of chicken I need to cut is in front of me. Or maybe mashed potatoes. Or maybe the roll. I've speared little cups filled with cranberry sauce and brought them confidently towards my mouth. I've stabbed a piece of bread on a fork. But, mostly I just proceed with caution feeling with my fork around the plate to tell by texture what is there. But, if you help me at a buffet (another post topic) or if you put food on my plate telling me where it is is most helpful. People use the old clock face method. Your meat is at 12, your vegetables at 3, your potatoes at 6 etc. When mentioning this to a group of kids once a little boy was horrified and said, "You mean you eat your meat at 12 and can't eat your vegetables until 3?" I'm sure he imagined me sitting at a table all day long. I'm hungry now. Breakfast time I think?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Storytelling at the tea party cafe.

I will be telling stories at the tea party cafe 119 york street in Ottawa next Tuesday the 27th from 7 to 8:30.
My stories will be about first jobs, and about my relationship with our local fair.
Come and enjoy.

Great things about being blind. Pouring cold liquids.

So, a great thing about being blind and pouring and making tea is that you can do it in the dark with your eyes closed. Now on to cold liquids. They are easier. I line up the bottle, jug, or pitcher with my glass and then pour. Again, I listen to the sound. As liquid gets closer to the top, the sound is higher and different. I put the tip of my finger into the glass too and feel the liquid touch it. If you are giving me a drink, cold or hot, and if you put it down in front of me, let me know where it is. In front of your right hand. To the right of your plate. To your left on the table. Or pass me the cup and I will put it down. tomorrow on to eating!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Great things about being blind. Food on my plate.

People seem to be enjoying these posts and have lots of questions. Many revolving around food and drink. Let's tackle drink first.
Can a blind person make tea and coffee and carry hot liquids? Yes. If done carefully I can. To make tea, I have a complex system of funnels. I pour cold water into my teapot. Then, I put a funnel in my kettle to pour the water from the tea pot into the kettle. this means I know how much is in the kettle so can't hurt myself when pouring it into the tea pot again. Next, I boil the water. I have a different funnel that I put over my teapot while I pour the boiling water in. Maybe too complex but it works for me. I also have something called liquid leveler which beeps when water touches it when it is placed over the edge of your cup. I don't use it much though. I listen to the sound of the liquid filling my cup. It sounds different as it gets to the top. I do touch it briefly with the very tip of my finger too and don't burn myself doing that. Tomorrow on to more drinks and food. Now, I need a cup of tea.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Great things about being blind. Moving my stuff.

We are in a room together.
I have placed my bag, coat, etc on a chair or table.  Say we are in a meeting or workshop.
Maybe you have to rearrange the room.  Put tables up or take them down.  You move my bag.  Place it somewhere else.
Perhaps we all go for lunch.  I am alone in the room looking for my jacket and bag.
A blind person needs to remember where they put their things in a room.
My coat is on the chair nearest the door.  My bag is on a chair with arms in front of a round table.
And so, if you move them, I may search over every square inch of the room.  Literally,  for you, you can do this easily.  Scan the room with your eyes.
For me, I need to touch everything.
Now, my guide dogs have been and are pretty good at finding our stuff.  There are often kibbles in my bag or a water bowl which helps.
But please, if you need to move my stuff, can you tell me where you moved it to?  Thank you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Great things about being blind. The hand shake.

Now, when you meet a blind person, do you shake hands?  And how?  This is often a comical situation.  I meet someone, I put out my hand.  They see it.  They put out their hand.  In the mean time, I don't feel their hand so I withdraw mine.  They withdraw theirs.  Maybe I hear something that indicates this.  A rattle of some jewelry.  The hand hitting the leg.  So, I put my hand out again. Etc.
So, you can take my outstretched hand, or say that you are giving me your hand.  Or we can have fun wiwth this hand shake game.  As always, talk naturally but verbalize as much as is necessary so that we understand each other.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Great things about being blind, Entering and leaving a room.

So, you enter a room where I am.  Unless it is very quiet and I heard you open the door or walk in, I might not know that you came in, who you are, where you are in the room.  So, when you enter a room and if you know I am there and am blind, say something.  You could just say something natural like hello.  If I know your voice, you don't need to say who you are.  I'll ask if I don't remember.  If we've never met, it would be helpful if you say who you are and if anyone is with you.  And, if you  have to leave our conversation to go somewhere else within a crowded room, could you tell me first?  I've had many conversations with walls, posts, or other objects when I thought someone was still standing there talking to me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Great things about being blind. Guiding a blind person and their guide dog.

Now, you ask me if I need help, I say yes.  I have a guide dog with me.  What do you do?  Well, you don't call the dog and give her directions.  You don't grab the dog's leash.  You ask me how you can help.  Perhaps, I will say that we can follow you.  You will walk ahead and keep talking to me.  You will give me and not the dog directions.  Perhaps, especially if we are carrying on a conversation, I might say that I will take your arm and have you guide me.  At this point, I drop the dog's harness handle and she is no longer working.  You are the guide.  Tomorrow more etiquette tips.  HOpe they are helpful.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great things about being blind. Guiding a blind person.

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of always asking if a blind person needs help.  Once I say, yes that I do.  What do you do next?  Well, you don't grab my arm from behind and start pushing me ahead of you.  This is , as you can imagine quite unnerving and also unsafe.  Think of you being in the dark and shoved from behind.  If you are ahead of me and I take your arm, then I can feel as  you move around things, climb or descend stairs, and if I feel you are not the guide I want, I can let go of your arm and go my own way.  Smile!  Or, once I am not needing you to guide me, I can let go, thank you, and proceed on.  Do not grab my white cane and guide me with it.  This has happened.  Tomorrow, how to guide a person with a guide dog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Storytelling at the tea party cafe.

I will be storytelling in two weeks at the tea party cafe in Ottawa.
I am sharing the stage with another teller.
Come and hear stories about my first job and about the super ex.
You'll love the stories, the company, and the tea and treats.
September 27 from 7-9 PM. 119 York street.

Great things about being blind. When in doubt, ask.

I have been asked several questions about proper etiquette and guiding for blind people. So, I start a series of posts about that over the next few days. Hope they are helpful. It is great to be blind and be around people who get this. First, guiding a blind person. Since I am totally blind, the rules are slightly different here. Someone with low vision may tell you what to do to be most helpful. for someone who is totally blind, first ask if you can help in any way. Perhaps I am just standing outside enjoying the sun. Maybe I am waiting for someone. Maybe I know where I'm going but am taking a break. Ask if the person needs assistance and listen to what they say in order to determine what kind of assistance they need. That is the first step. Always ask. Don't grab my arm, my dog, or my cane. That feels like I've been attacked in an alley.Tomorrow, the various guiding techniques.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Great things about being blind. Independence in colour identification.

I don't always know what colour my clothes are but I tend to know by feel what goes together after I am told about it. I hang clothes together. I remember them by feel. but, sometimes I need a certain colour. Yesterday, I was asked if I could wear a red shirt for some photos taken of me. I forgot to ask Richard in the morning if a certain shirt was red. I thought it was. He was gone and only my dog was here so I took my ipod, and my colour identification ap aid colors and first I took a picture of my black lab Tulia. The ap said, blac. So I took a picture of my shirt and the ap said red. And red it indeed was. What a rush of independence I had. May not seem like much but it is to me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Great things about being blind. Not seeing images.

One more 9/11 inspired post. I am a history and news enthusiast. I love podcasts, reading articles, listening to the radio. I love history and figuring out history and so after 9/11 I spent some time with the media trying to figure out what had happened and would happen. Many of my friends and family said they had to stop watching because they showed the same graphic images again and again. I didn't see them. For this, I am grateful. I know what happened and knew what happened but didn't have to watch the same images over and over. I could absorb things at my own pace. At my own rate. In my own way. And so, I could filter the media and absorb the disaster in the ways that made sense to me most. Not that anything about it ever made sense. so glad to be blind on that day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Great things about being blind. 9/11 and my guide dogs.

In the summer of 2001, I had a yellow lab guide dog named Margaret. We had only been together for three and a half years but she was showing me in no uncertain terms that she didn't want to work anymore. She would refuse to board the bus, would pull me towards traffic, would not walk past loud noises, would run from her harness. So, I had to retire her and re-apply for a guide dog. I was due to fly from here in Canada to Oregon to get my third guide on September 29 2001. On september 11 2001, what did I get in the mail? My airplane tickets. At first I said, "I won't go. I can't fly." But, I did go and met my wonderful Gia. And on September 11 2010, I graduated from training with my tulia. I'm glad I have great guide dog memories associated with 9/11. Tomorrow one more post on the media and 9/11.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Great things about being blind. September 11 and the dogs who were heroes

All guide dog handlers think our dogs are heroes.  And they are.  As we all are at times.  And at times they are funny and annoying and not always well behaved.  but, yesterday I watached a youtube video of a guide dog and his person who got out of the world trade centre on 9/11 and it touched my heart and made me cry.  The fact that the guide wouldn't leave him even though he let the dog go.   The fact that around all of this chaos and noise, the man and dog continued to walk, continued to move.  For a blind person, loud noise and chaos is one of the most frightening things for me.  I don't even like loud bars as I have no idea where anyone is, where I am in relation to anyone or anything.  I don't like construction noise as I walk as again I can't hear what is around me.  So, I can't even imagine how chaotic that day must have been.
Another grad from my guide dog school,
guide dogs for the blind
Got out of the centre with his dog and has recently published a book about it called thunder dog which is very good.
After 9/11, I didn't cry.  I felt numb.  I couldn't see the TV images and was grateful for that.  But, a few days later, on learning about the two grads and their guides who exited the trade centre, I put my head down on my computer keyboard and cried and cried.
Amidst the chaos, the wreckage, the violence, there was a canine and a person and the two of them working together in friendship, in harmony, in trust.
And, to know every day that I have a creature who if called upon would do what those dogs did, makes me so so glad I'm blind.  And makes me cry!