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.