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.