Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sorry for what?

Yesterday, we went briefly to the mall so that I could get some pants hemmed and fixed. I don't like braving the boxing day crowds that much but we did it anyway. I left my guide dog home as it was so crowded and went sighted guide. I went into the change room and put on my new pants, came out and stood on the step so that the woman could see them. She pinned them up and then asked me to turn sideways to see the mirror. I was not sure if that meant she wanted me to see the mirror or if she wanted to see it. I turned sideways anyway. The length felt good to me so when she asked if that was okay, I said yes. then as I reached for the wall ! touch it and orient myself, I think she finally realized I was blind. She said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." This happens a lot. It got me thinking. She probably was embarrassed for telling me about the mirror. Yes, but I find those things funny and refreshing actually. Was she sorry I was blind? Not sure! Was she sorry she didn't realize I was blind? Not sure. She had given me good service and was very nice and respectful so I saw no problem.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow and kindness

We have had a lot of snow here. It is still coming down. Early this morning, I put on coat and boots and took the guide dog out. Winter travel can be somewhat challenging. When it is snowing, it muffles sounds. Cars sound quieter. People's footsteps are quieter. there is something peaceful about that but it can be challenging too. Also, banks of snow at driveways and corners make it challenging to move about. We had taken a short walk and I was coming back home when I met someone I don't know well but have chatted with before. She said how great my dog was and that she was watching closely as we walked and looking back at me to make sure I was okay. I'm not sure that was what she was doing actually. She probably was but she might have also been saying, "Hurry up. Let's get inside." then, she passed me a dog biscuit and said she knew she could not feed or interact with my dog in harness but she wanted her to have it. Snow, kindness, christmas spirit. What could be better than that?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Performance on saturday dec 22 at the diefenbunker

This is one of the most interesting gigs I've ever had.  In celebration of not the end of the world.
See link here for more.
You survived the end of the world!
Join the Diefenbunker's Survivors Brunch on Saturday December 22, 2012 from 10:00am - 12:00pm
Just in case the Mayans were off by a couple days, it's best to join me in the safety of this underground nuclear blast shelter for brunch on December 22nd, 2012 from 10:00am- 12:00pm.
Myself and my fellow Ottawa Storyteller, Mary Wiggin will recount tales of survival and near encounters with the devil, while you enjoy a brunch buffet provided by the Swan at Carp.
After brunch, the Museum's guides will lead your through a special "11 Steps to Survival" Tour. Each guest will also receive a special limited edition Diefenbunker Survivor's Gift.
Cost: $25.00 per person | $15.00 per child
$45.00 per couple
Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Please call 613-839-0007 or email or visit us in person at 3911 Carp Road.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The reason to walk through the slushy world.

Yesterday we had freezing rain. Last night we had rain. Today we have snow. I was working on some stories and other paper work. I was going to stay in working on it but felt I needed a walk and my dog did and so we set off. It was very slushy and wet and a bit icy on the sidewalks. My dog wasn't happy with her boots or the slush really. I considered turning back after a bit but needed to get a few things and so kept going. I'm glad I did. After picking up a few things, I took a short cut through a building and as soon as I opened the door, heard the live sounds of a wonderful choir. We stood and listened for a while. What a good choir they were and what a nice surprise. Loved it and made the trip home enjoyable as their songs and harmonies stayed in my head!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy birthday to my wonderful guide dog.

Where does the time go. My little Tulia guide dog is 4 today. Already? She is such a great dog! Everyone loves her and she is a great worker and lots of fun. I wish it was sunny for her birthday. She loves that. But it is cold and cloudy. We had a game with her favourite squeaky ball and now she is curled up in her bean bag bed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New canadian bills

Today I found in the bank machine, my first ever new $20 bill. It is very different feeling. But the raised bars that indicate which bill it is are much more pronounced and I believe they won't fade like the old bills did.
So glad!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three funny things done by the dog!

My guide dog is a character. She has always been a character. I always love having guides with great senses of humour and great self possession and she has it all. So, yesterday, she did three funny things. I was out for lunch with my mom. We entered the restaurant. Mom was guiding me and Tulia was walking beside me but not working. As we passed a table, she gently placed her little black head in a lady's lap. She's never done this before. The lady let out a little squeak but then said how beautiful Tulia was. How much she loved dogs. Tulia then sat down right beside my leg. "Did I do that? did I?" After a while, it was pretty funny. Next funny thing. After the lunch, I was home and went looking for my slippers. Who was lying on them both warming them up, yes it was the Tulia. They were nice and warm when I put them on. Next funny thing. All weekend I have had internet trouble. In fact, 2 times my mac computer shut off by itself. The internet was not working. I was about to call my service provider and also apple about my mac. When, I discovered that one of the many dog beds around here, had moved slightly and was up again the wall where a plug to the power bar was. so when Tulia would flop herself down on her bed, she ended up turning off power to the computer and also to the router. Problem solved. Moved the dog bed over.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The dog's memories live on.

It has been more than a year and a half since my third guide dog Gia died. And more than two years since we worked together as a team. But still she is remembered. This morning early, Tulia and I were out for a walk. A man said good morning to us with a cheerful accent from somewhere like Jamaica or one of those lovely warm islands. Then he asked if my other dog had died. he said he used to see us all of the time. He said she was such a nice dog. Then he paused and said, "All of your dogs are nice." Tulia was sitting beside me as we chatted and she tilted her head and leaned it on my leg. I'm sure she was giving him the look she does with everyone. "I am the cutest dog ever! Isn't that right?" On another note, I was with someone who has early stage dementia the other day. Tulia sat with her head on his leg. He said, "This dog has the kindest eyes." Later, he asked the nurse where that nice dog was.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

International day of disabilities.

Yesterday, December 3 was the United Nations day of persons with disabilities. I reflected what a long way we have come even since I was born. There were no computers for us when I started school. I had a brailler, a large and heavy typewriter and braille books. I never dreamed of apps or touch screens or GPS navigation that talked. But, even though technology has hepled me immensely, still the things that I still have with me every day are not high tech. My guide dog. My cane. My orientation and mobility skills.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Supporting a worthy cause I am coordinating for people who are blind or partially sighted

Hello to all of my wonderful friends.
Below find the text of a letter I send along seeking donations of equipment or money for a very worth while group I am coordinating.
This is a group helping people who are blind or partially sighted with their accessible technology.
It is one of the most wonderful and rewarding things I have done in quite some time.
We have started a once monthly tech group where we all come together and share tips and devices and laughs too!
Last week with over 20 people ranging in age from 16 to 70s, we shared and taught each other.  The many guide dogs in the room were also very well behaved.
Besides this group, we are also having drop ins where I help people with their equipment as well as workshops and training.
See letter below.
Also, if you can't help with equipment or financially and still want to support us by volunteering, please let me know as well.
We are applying for grants right now to keep the program going and hopefully growing.
Feel free to share this far and wide.
Thank you very much for your friendship and support.
Hello friends and supporters of the GTT Program,

We have been delighted by the interest in the GTT (Get Together with Technology) Program.

We thank our partners, CCB (Canadian Council of the Blind), and CNIB and our sponsoring organization, the CCCC (Crichton Cultural Community Centre) for their help and support.

We have commenced holding regular monthly Tech User Groups, Drop-in Sessions and One to One Training, and have a need for dedicated equipment for use in the program. This equipment would be used to provide hands-on training and enable users who are blind or have low vision, to become familiar with various kinds of technical equipment.

For people who are blind or have low vision, technology is often very costly and not always completely accessible. People who are blind need to be able to really examine and learn about all of their options before making a choice to purchase. Often retail store staff don't know much about the accessibility of the equipment they sell, so it is important that people  get to explore technology and be able to learn its features from peers or trainers who are blind or have low vision. This equipment may also be used by the GTT coordinators for administrative work for the program.

If you can donate equipment or funds or know someone interested in being a GTT donor, please pass on this message to them on our behalf. Donors will be issued a charitable tax receipt from the CCCC for all financial gifts or equipment.

Equipment requested:

ipods (especially ipod touch,  3rd, 4th, or 5th generation, but also ipod nano or shuffle)

ipads (any model including ipad mini)

iphones (3GS, 4, 4S or 5)

Android devices (running icecream sandwich or jelly bean)

macbooks (mac minis or imacs)

PC laptops

Digital talking book players (Victor models, Booksense or Plextalk)

If you have other equipment, please contact the GTT program to discuss this.

Thank you so very much,

Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman
GTT coordinators 
twitter @gttprogram

Kim Kilpatrick and Ellen Goodman 
GTT Program Coordinators 
Crichton Cultural Community Centre: (613) 745-2742 

Apps for everything but would I need this one?

Yesterday, I came across a posting of someone who was developing an app for an I device. It is one that converts colour into sound. It made me think. Would I use such a thing. I do sometimes associate colour with sound but it is a personal association. I think of dark colours as the bass notes on a piano or cello or tuba. I think of bright colours like the sound of a trumpet or flute or piccolo. I think of light colours as a ringing of a clear high bell. So I might not like it if someone else picked the sounds for the colours. I'd just rather hear the word. What that colour is. Very interesting concept though.

Monday, November 26, 2012

First snow.

I was a bit surprised to step outside this morning into our first snow. Not much. But some on the ground. That kind which squeaks underfoot and also is somewhat fluffy. My guide dog snorted when she saw it but seemed quite content to venture forth. Now the sun is out brightly so I doubt it will last long. but winter is coming. Oh the blindfolding gloves. The hoods which mask hearing. The thick boots which make it tougher to feel what is underfoot. but the clear crisp days will be here too. Smile!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Very exciting tech group last night.

We had our second monthly tech user group for people who are blind here last night. We had 20 people and six guide dogs in the room. Lots of laughter, lots of lively discussion, lots of knowledge sharing. I so love coordinating this program. It meets a real need in our community. It shows that people who are blind can assist others and help them learn. We can show each other what tech works, what apps work, and what we do. All age groups were represented. It was wonderful. You can follow us on twitter at @gttprogram. There is nothing like coordinating a program that touches your heart and that you feel passionately about. Thanks to everyone who makes this possible. Our next meeting on Monday Dec 17 we share our favourite apps with each other.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On community radio

Yesterday, I had a new adventure.  I have been learning for a while how to be on our local university radio.  I have always loved radio.  I think when you are totally blind, you do love it as it is the most accessible.  It is far more accessible than television and very blind friendly.
I have been trying to learn more about techniques and am starting to learn about audio editing.
Here is the link to the show I created.  Songs that contain stories.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Performing at dinner in the dark

Last night, I performed at a local dinner in the dark event. Everyone was blind folded and ate their whole dinner that way. Of course, I was not blindfolded and the volunteers were not.
The audience was very attentive and listened well. Laughed a lot and seemed very responsive. Just goes to show that storytelling is such an auditory experience. When I sat at my table, one of my table mates wanted to know if she had a glass of water. We each had one. She could not find it so I got up and helped her. It was nice to be able to do that. When the blind folds came off, one person said the room was totally different from what she would have imagined it to be! Fascinating!

Monday, November 12, 2012

did not recognize a friend's voice

I pride myself in knowing who people are by their voices. I'm good at it generally. I don't need to have met a person very many times before I know who they are. If they call me by phone, I know them almost right away by their voices. So, I was pretty embarrassed recently to meet a friend (a very good one at that) and not know her by her voice. In my defense, I wasn't expecting to meet her on the sidewalk as I did. She thought it was funny when I asked who she was. I was really embarrassed. But, when I meet someone out of context like that, I sometimes get confused. I suppose this happens to sighted folks too?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dinner in the dark performance.

Next week, I am storytelling for a dinner in the dark event to promote accessibility. I'm happy to do it. It amuses me slightly that this dining in the dark seems to be big business. People want to pay large chunks of money to do it. There are restaurants that specialize in it. Au noir is one in Montreal and Toronto and they also exist in Europe and I'm sure other places. It really makes me laugh to think that I do this every day in a way and that others pay a lot to do it. I would have never dreamed that this type of experience would be so highly valued.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Frustration Of Facebook

Today, I was trying to set up a facebook group. I got a ways along. Picked a name. Then it asked me to pick an icon. None labelled. Just said "link" "link" "link" I picked one. Do not know what it was. Then it asked me to add people. I did that. Then tried to go on but it would not let me. Twitter is very accessible and blind friendly. Why won't facebook listen? I've written and asked numerous times for more accessibility. Pointed out what I need. It is So Frustrating not to even get a response from them. Everyone, write to Facebook and ask for accessibility and not just for bits of the site but all of it! Okay, off my soap box now! Thanks twitter for being so accessible by the way.

European Email Draw 2012

European Email Draw 2012

We are pleased to inform you that your email has won the Internet Promotional Draws. All email addresses entered for this promotional draws were randomly inputted from an internet resource database using the Synchronized Random Selection System (SRSS).

Your email address was selected in the Category A with Code: LY875577/UK and Special Ticket: LY58212/2011-12, and this qualifies you to be the recipient of the grand prize award sum of Two million, five hundred thousand united States dollars.

The pay out of this cash prize to you will be subject to the final validations and satisfactory report that you are the authentic owner of the winning email address. In line with the governing rules of claim, you are required to establish contact with your designated claims agent via email or telephone with the particulars below:

Enquiry officer: Mr Steve Devlet
Phone: +447440430494

You are advised to immediately establish contact with the Enquiry Officer via the e-mail address above with the information's necessary: Name: Address: Phone: Cell Phone: Email: Alternative Email: Occupation: and Special Ticket:

Failure to complete the claims of your cash prize after 14 days of this notice will result in the revision of award. Hence, you should commence your claims process immediately, by contacting the claims agent ( Mr Steve Devlet) who would be guiding you through the Claims process.

Yours Faithfully

Promotion Co-coordinator
Muffy Kibbey
N.B. Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the Winners will result to disqualification, You are to immediately contact your claims officer with this email (

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Live tweeting being blind could be an advantage.

Maybe I could get a new job? Hire myself out as the blind tweeter? It struck me the other day while reading tweets about and from the Ottawa Writers fest, that I could tweet for our upcoming storytelling festival. See link below. I can tweet live at an event with my phone screen turned off and an ear bud in my ear. Not bothering any audience. Not that I will tweet during a performance but can easily do so in the breaks and spaces. Without any problems of lighting Etc. How cool is that? I will be using the app tweetlist which is totally accessible on my I device. I'm so looking forward to the festival. Ottawa Storytelling Festival

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blind people can get more halloween treats.

I do not remember this but my family has told me. My first halloween trick or treat, I would prance up to the door and say who I was. Then I would remove the mask so people could see I was blind. This exhibited a frenzy of candy giving. I got more and more. Home made fudge and candy apples (yes then we could accept those) two of everything. My parents told me not to say who I was and not to take off the mask so they would not know who I was or that I was blind. I looked very puzzled and asked, "Why? This way I get way more candy." Happy halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taxi anyone?

I've mentioned this before here, but, I will say it again. My guide dog has a phenomenal memory. The other day, we walked to a taxi stand at a near-by hotel to get a cab. Yesterday, we passed by there again. When we reached the stand, my dog sat down and bumped me with her head. "This is where those cars are that you like!" I laughed and laughed, patted her and we moved on. She is truly a genius of a dog. Maybe I should get someone to teach her to play chess? I was never good at that myself!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stay safe in the storm.

Much of North America will be hit by a big storm this week. Fortunately, I believe that we will miss most of it where I live. When you are blind, knowing your environment is very important. When I go out in a few minutes, I need to walk a few blocks to the bus stop. My dog guides me along but I do use certain landmarks to know where I am. A mailbox on my left, I can hear it is there and know I am close to the corner. I know where the garbage cans are along the way for doggy gifts. I know the bus stop pole. If a storm moves these things and others, I could be a bit turned around. Also, wind makes it difficult for me to hear traffic, people around me, and can be quite disorienting. So storms bring challenges to us all but sometimes different challenges to people who are blind.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More about the blind man and the sword incident.

I read a few more articles about the blind man in england who was tasered by local police. They believed or thought that his white cane was a sword. They had been alerted to a man wandering around with a sword. They saw him walking with his cane. They called and told him to stop. The thing about this is that if you call out, "Stop. Hey stop." I would not necessarily know you were talking to me. You would have to say my name if you knew it or actually tap my shoulder or be very close to me. So, he did not stop and therefore was tasered. Very odd situation. Some major disability awareness training needs to be done pergh?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I come with the dog!

I had been in conversation with someone who wanted to film me for a documentary. It sounded quite interesting. Documentary on blindness. I got an e-mail yesterday about it that stopped me in my tracks. Yes, wanted to film me but would do it without the dog. Without the dog? What? Wanting me to walk around the neighbourhood without the dog? Film what it is like to be me to be blind without the dog? I said no and I would not participate. No no no! I walk with the dog for a reason. Not for show. Not for the fun of it although it is fun. I walk with the dog to have safe mobility. By filming me stumbling around with no mobility aid, does this give a good impression of blindness? No! My dog is part of me. Part of the team. Sure I could use a white cane and do but that is when I choose to do so. But, if someone wants a picture of my life, the dog is in it. Would they ask someone with one leg to take off their artificial leg and hop about? No! Would they ask someone who uses a wheelchair to get out and roll about on the ground? No! I am and always have been honoured and glad to have my dogs in my life. It makes me sad and angry when people do not understand this. I am glad that most people get it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I get for reading murder mysteries at night.

Last night I was reading a murder mystery before going to sleep and I had a really awful dream that someone was chasing me through the house. But, then it was cool because it was one of those dreams I could shape myself. I turned off all of the lights and heard them blundering around. I went into the closet and texted 911 with my phone and my dog was there too and the police came and got the chaser. Bad dream turned cool for sure.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Something I learned

The other day was talking to a friend about another friend. In the process of the conversation, I discovered that my friend has dark skin. I have known her for several years and never knew this about her. It is so interesting to me that a characteristic that others use to identify this person in their mind, never even had entered my consciousness.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some police who need to have their eyes checked perhaps?

I was startled the other day by an arsicle. Some police in the UK thought a blind man's white cane was a sword and tasered him. A sword really? For anyone who does not know, the white cane identifies someone as blind or partially sighted. there are longer white canes that people use to travel if they are totally blind or have very low vision. There are also smaller shorter canes called identification canes. People carrying these canes do not need them to walk with but use them so that people know they have some vision difficulties. When someone travels with a white cane, they swing it of course. This is so that you can feel objects around you as you touch them with the cane. Yes you move it back and forth. Yes you touch things. Yes you may bang into things. That is what you do. But a sword? Really? Thank goodness I travel with a guide dog. I hope no law enforcers ever think my guide is asome kind of danerous weapon.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Exciting to be starting a new project.

Tonight, I am co-chairing the first ever monthly technology user group for people who are blind or have low vision in my city. People can bring their technology, share experiences and tips. We can help each other learn and find out what technology works best for us. If you want to know more, e-mail me at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

You never know who you will help.

Yesterday, on my way to do some storytelling with seniors, I sat in a coffee shop listening to my stories on my Iphone and preparing my thoughts. The coffee shop was on our way to the bus stop. Someone said, "Excuse me." I thought, "Oh no. I don't want to chat now. I want to prepare myself for storytelling." But, I smiled and said hello with a somewhat sinking heart. "You are able to use that Iphone and you are totally blind?" I said yes and explained how I devices are totally accessible to me. The woman found it fascinating and then admitted that her mother was losing vision and it was great to know that there were devices that she could use. As I went to catch my bus, I was so glad I had let her interrupt my preparations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So glad to work with little kids.

Yesterday, I told stories in a school to kindergarten, grade one, and grade two kids. Fun fun conversations.I always love the chance to educate the very young kids. Then, hopefully they will grow up being open to people who are blind. tulia of course had great fun being patted and admired. A teacher said, "What a great life for a dog." I agree. I hate it when people think our guide dogs have a terrible life.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thankful to be blind in Canada.

It is Thanksgiving day here in Canada. I am thankful for many things. But, for the purposes of this blog, I am very thankful to be blind in Canada. Sometimes, I remember something and hear something about blind people in other countries. Developing countries. Here, I have computer equipment, a braille display, a guide dog, the ability to have learned how to get around independently, laws that protect my rights. Is it perfect here? No. Are there things we can do to improve? Yes. But, in some countries, blind people have no equipment, no ability to move about independently, not always support to be educated. So, on this thanksgiving day, I am thankful to live here in Canada and to have had a family who supported me in all of my adventures.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Facial expressions.

Someone was talking about facial expressions yesterday. Reading people's faces. This person looks sad, angry, worried Etc. I can hear things in people's voices yes. But, I can't look across a room and see someone's face. A wink. A shrug. I wonder how much I am missing or if I get most of it?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Using your eyes!

I was told recently that my guide dog uses her eyes very expressively to communicate. I have been told this before. She pulls people in with them. She shows people to move out of the way with them. She raises her eyebrows. Someone said to me the other day that she was looking at me and then looking at them. They were guiding me and she glanced at them as if to say, "Okay. I'm off duty I guess?" It got me wondering. If my dog is so visual in her communication, does she find it frustrating that I don't get her visual signals? I imagine no. She uses other signals with me. She wags her whole self. She nudges me with her head. She puts a paw on my foot. She rubs her body against my legs. But, at first, she might have been a bit confused? Why is this person not communicating with me? Perhaps I am reading too much into this. Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

throwing up your hands

I was rehearsing yesterday for our murder mystery play. At one point, someone suggested I throw up my hands in exasperation.
I don't know what that looks like. I've never done it. They showed me and I tried it out. It didn't really feel natural.
Do people do this a lot? Fling up their hands skyward in frustration?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

reading minds?

Today something hit me. No not literally. When you first get a new guide dog, you and the dog don't know each other. I've loved each of my dogs almost right away. Felt comfortable with them. happy. Safe more or less (more safe as time passed) But, there comes a time, when dog human relationship has evolved to the place where I feel that sometimes we do not need to say anything to each other. Sure, I still give commands. Sure I still praise. sure we communicate. But there are things I know and my dog knows. It hit me today. As we walked along, Tulia paused. Not the pause that means, "I'm figuring something out." But a pause and a pull towards the grass that says, "Hey, can we stop while I have a pee. So off with the harness and she hit the grass. Then, as we walked, ahead of us in the block, a dog barking menacingly. A dog in a car. Jumping at the windows. Barking. All might be okay but I thought, "Well we could walk past that dog or we can cut through this building on my right and avoid the dog altogether. I did not say, "Right inside. or anything else. I was just thinking a bit when Tulia swung right, pranced to the door and showed me the handle. Then, later on, I was thinking about construction ahead and thought I would turn right and go around the block. Again, I was about to say right, but we had already turned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Finding stories.

It's odd that sometimes when you think you know what story you will create (or not create) it never works quite that way. Storytelling tonight at the tea party cafe 119 York street in the market from 7 to 8:30 PM with fellow storyteller Joanna Smith. Our set is about mythical creatures. i said, "No autobiographical stories this time. Just brownies and giants." As an intro to my brownie story, I was going to tell 2 lines about my own experience as a brownie. These two lines expanded and expanded into a story I had forgotten and actually did not know was a story until it came out of me. Much tweeking and reworking later, I am becoming happy with it. so interesting that the creative process is never quite what you think it is at the beginning.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

So glad I have such varied work.

i have had a very busy week. It struck me today as I was going for a walk with my guide dog, how glad I am to have such varied work. This week for example, I worked on a script for our hallowene murder mystery show. I worked on stories for a performance at a local cafe this week. I gave a presentation at a technology fair. i toured the exhibits at the fair. I worked on some accessibility work, upcoming storytelling performances. I attended a meeting about historical storytelling and a video publicity project. I did some publicity work and updated my finances and work schedule. I received 1 school and 2 seniors bookings. I just love having a wide variety of things to do.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Storytelling next week at the tea party.

I will be telling stories next Tuesday at the tea party cafe. 119 York street in Ottawa with new storyteller Joanna Smith. She is great! Our theme is mythical creatures. But somehow, no matter what I do, my own autobiographical material creeps in. Want to know about being a bad blind brownie? My act of inadvertent vandalism? And yes mythical creatures come into play too. Come to the tea party and find out all about it.

Storytelling next week at the tea party.

I will be telling stories next Tuesday at the tea party cafe. 119 York street in Ottawa with new storyteller Joanna Smith. She is great! Our theme is mythical creatures. But somehow, no matter what I do, my own autobiographical material creeps in. Want to know about being a bad blind brownie? My act of inadvertent vandalism? And yes mythical creatures come into play too. Come to the tea party and find out all about it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dog's calmness makes me calmer too.

A lot of people around me have been going through serious health problems and difficult situations. It has shaken me up greatly. Yesterday afternoon, I was working at my desk but thinking about all that is going on. Feeling sad and overwhelmed. And then, suddenly, a little black lab head bumped my arm. a dog appeared. Wagging her whole self. Living in the moment. Dragging over a rope with which to play her most favourite game of tug. And tug we did. Her whole self wagging. Then, she flung herself on to my legs. Rubbing her head all over me. Wagging, snorting, rolling. and somehow I felt better. Got that sense that life is to be lived joyfully. That things will be what they are but we can get through them and we will. And how did she know that I needed her to do that, just right at that very moment?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guide dog loves show tunes! Who would have guessed?

The other day, someone started singing show tunes to my guide dog. She went crazy. wagging and rolling around. All excited. We did not know many full versions of the show tunes. everyone in the room seemed to know a line or two of each one. But, each time, she got very very silly. Perhaps it was our laughter or the way we sang them (or tried to) but when we sang other things, she was not nearly so excited. So, does this mean I have to start taking her to musicals? That could be a pretty expensive project although I would not mind as I like musicals too.

Kim Kilpatrick
Storyteller, workshop leader, disability awareness and access technology trainer
Blog and samples of work at
Sent from my iphone

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dentist adventures

I had some dental adventures this week. Broke a chunk out of a tooth. No, I didn't bump into anything. I wasn't playing sports. I just bit into a piece of toast and there it was!
Or I guess I should say, there it wasn't.
Well, the good things about the dentists if you are blind are the following.
I thought of these while I was lying there and they were drilling and filling.
First, I had my dog with me. She was so calm and happy and would lean her head on my leg and once even on my shoulder looking at what they did. Felt so nice and comforting. Just like having your mom there when you were a kid.
Next, couldn't see the things coming at me.
Just lay there and let them work.
Bad things, had trouble talking from the freezing. On the way down in the elevator, I asked someone if this was the ground floor. He said, "Have you just been to the dentist?" Was it that obvious?
Anyway, all is well now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Falling off a platform

The other day, I read about a blind woman who died after falling off a subway platform.
We don't have a subway where I live but I did live for a while in a community that did and I was really afraid for a while of using it. The thought of the loud trains and the platforms and not knowing where the edge was if it wasn't marked with tactile markers scared me. I knew that other blind people navigated these systems with ease and was sure I could too if I learned how to do so. But I felt nervous and unsure about it none the less. After getting my first guide dog, I used the system fairly comfortably but still had an odd feeling every time I stood on a platform. Please, city planners and developers, put very highly feelable markings at the edges of your subway platforms. And, I mean feelable through thick heavy winter boots too and with white cane tips.
Stay safe in your travels.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Does my dog want a cup of tea?

I know my guide dog is smart. If she was a person, she would probably be an academic person, calm and refined, listening to classical music, reading, drinking tea. This morning, I was opening a new box of tea. Taking the foil off it. She ran in all excited. I do not usually let her in the kitchen and she stays out but she bounced in and was wagging and sniffing. Should I pour a nice pot of tea in her water bowl do you think? And what kind of tea do you suppose she would like?

Friday, August 24, 2012


People often say, and someone even said it this morning, "You are so brave to be walking out here by yourself." I was walking along a familiar street in the sunshine in my familiar home city. This is not brave. this is normal. several important people in my life are going through bad times right now. and they are doing so with what is true courage. With class and bravery and I am in awe of them. walking down my street is not brave compared to them and I send them my hugest admiration for their bravery and friendship.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

flapping wings in the house?

The other day, I thought there was something flapping in the house. I was not sure about this but thought I heard some wings flapping and some scurrying. i must say I got panicky. I could not see anything. But, I kept thinking something was there. About to dive on me or bite Tulia. there was nothing as it turns out. But, that night, I heard a rustling, threw pillows over my head but it was just a doggy pick up bag that was blowing about. I felt so stupid. Tulia slept calmly through it all. If a bird or a bat or any other creature had been here, I am sure she would have been more animated!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Carrying the flag.

I remembered the other day about carrying my province's flag in a provincial games. I was maybe 12 or 13 and a competitive swimmer. I was so excited to march in. There were a bunch of us carrying the flag together. The man beside me had no legs and used a wheelchair. He was old to my thinking (probably in his early 20s if I think about it) and very very nice to talk to a fidgety and excited kid who was bouncing off the walls. There were others all carrying the flag but I was beside him. He guided me in by my holding on to the side of his chair with one hand and the flag with the other. We got talking about our disabilities. He too was a swimmer and so we talked swimming and training and then I started to think about him. How did he swim so fast with no legs? I was jealous. He didn't have to do kick drills. I always hated kick drills. He laughed when I said it. It was a very clear realization to me that we were all athletes here. All working to be as good as we could be. All facing different challenges and overcoming them. But that is what all athletes do isn't it? We just have some more visible barriers to overcome.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mountain biking

While watching the Olympics, I started wondering what mountain biking is like.
I know what it is like to ride a tandem bike but not where they ride and how they ride on such rough terrain.
Everyone has been so very helpful with your descriptions.
Thanks so nuch for any input you can give me

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the dog we should trust.

Sometimes, when we go out to a somewhat familiar place, I start
to worry about the route and whether or not I remember how to get
there. When it is a totally familiar place, I do not give it a
second thought. The other day, I went to a location I have only
been to a few times. It involved traveling on one bus and
arriving at a transit station. Every transit station here is
somewhat different. Sometimes you just walk out doors on to the
street. Sometimes you have to climb a flight of stairs or
descend one, or climb and descend one. Sometimes, you turn left.
Sometimes right. Sometimes through doors. Sometimes not. I
thought while on the bus, that I could not remember how to exit
this station. Did I go up or down? Turn left or right? I got a
little worried. When we exited the bus, my guide dog spun left
and walked confidently forward. "Okay," I thought, "at least one
of us seems to know where she is going." The next thing I knew
her two front feet were placed on a bottom step. Tail wagging
furiously. "Okay. Forward." And up the stairs we went. I was
still thinking, "Okay. But what do we do now? How can I direct
my dog from here?" We reached the top and my dog turned right and
the next thing I knew, I felt outside air on my face, heard
birds, and there we were outside of the station. Lots of kibble
and praise. Guide dog trainers always remind us to trust our
dogs. It's an experience like this that really increases the
bonding between guide dog and blind person.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The 10 km swim.

So this morning they were swimming the 10 km open water swim. Even in my competitive swimming days, was trying to think how far I swam in our swimming marathon to raise money. 200 lengths I think it was and about 2 or 3 miles maybe. I wonder if I could swim 10 Kms. Just to see if I really could do it. Not in competition you understand just to do it. Can't believe they did it in about 2 hours. Very impressive. As a blind person, I find open water swimming a bit disorienting so will stick to pools and fun swims in lakes or rivers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

rhythmic gymnastics what is it?

Today, on the olympics, there is rhythmic gymnastics. I know they talk about a ball, a ribon and something else I forget. But, what exactly do they do? Very curious. Again, thanks to those of you who have provided sports descriptions for me. Most entertaining indeed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Can someone describe the cycling track?

Thanks so very much to those who gave me an idea about the pole vault. Fascinating to know more about these sports. Brings a whole new appreciation to me of what athletes do. I ran a bit of track in public and highschool so I know what a running track is like. I do not know what a track cycling track is like though. The velodrome. They said it was made from Canadian wood (the one in London that they are using now) but what is it like? It sounds like it is not flat like a running track but I am not sure.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pole vault. How does it work?

Thank you to those who have helped me to better understand how these olympic sports work. Question of the day, what is the pole vault and how does it work? I can't even picture it at all. I know it involves jumping over some kind of pole from a great height but can't picture it at all.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Badminton. Birds and rackets.

Someone did enlighten me about the hammer for the hammer throw. Thank you. I did not really think it was a true hammer. Smile! When I was about 10, we were watching some sort of sports events and badminton came on. I kept hearing about the bird. Hitting the bird. I stormed out of the room and said it was cruel for them to hit animals. I thought they were actually hitting a bird. Really how would I know they weren't? I still do not really know what a badminton bird is like. And what the differences are between rackets in the racket sports. So that is my olympic question of the day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

people don't think we can be athletes.

This morning, Oscar Pistorius made history by running in an olympic race and making it to the next round of the men's 400 meters. he does not have legs and runs on artificial ones. I can't describe them to you as I do not know what they are like. But, I have been following the story. Some people said that it would be dangerous for him to compete. This is a common thought. Sports would be dangerous for us, for those around us, and why would people with disabilities do them? I myself have participated in many sports. People are amazed to know that I ran cross country and a bit of track. But how? Why? That I was a competitive swimmer and paralympian. Again, why? How? Skiing, skating, hiking, sandem cycling. Participating in sports has kept me healthy, happy, given me interests and activities that I love, help me travel around the world with confidence. i have not yet quite figured out why this makes people so nervous. Perhaps it is because we are often perceived as weak and pathetic. This makes participating in sports unlikely and even dangerous perhaps. or maybe they imagine themselves trying to do these things with their eyes closed and this makes them nervous. i'm so glad for Oscar that he is making history in a classy manner. Go go blade runner.

Friday, August 3, 2012

what the heck do they throw in the hammer throw? More olympic questions.

Continuing in my blog series of questions about the olympics and events I ask you this. This morning, they talked about the hammer throw. So I am pretty sure they do not throw a hammer like the ones we use to pound nails in. But what do they throw? And how do they throw it? So curious.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sports: Olympic sports the visual aspects.

I think I have mentioned about my olympic adiction on this blog already. Yes, I have been watching the Olympics. I begin a series of blog posts on how I interpret olympic sports and also asking questions about them. It occurs to me how visual sports are. Unless you have done a sport, you cannot truly be sure of what it is like to do. I was a competitive swimmer and paralympian in the past. In gym class, I did some track, threw a shot put badly, a javelin comically, a discus terribly. I've riden a tandem bike but not a racing one. i have canoed and been in a kyak. I have felt the balance beam and paralel bars and rings. I've bounced on a trampolene. So, some sports involving these things, I understand. comretitive swimming I understand best as I spent hours and hours doing it. but, there are things I really donot understand. What are the rowing boats like? Are they different depending on the type of rowing for example?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Very concerned about the interview about blind people regaining sight.

I am writing with great concern with regards to your interview
tonight with the eye doctor and regaining sight for blind people.
Let me start by saying that I love your program and listen to it
faithfully through your podcast. But, what I heard tonight, made
me furious and outraged. I truly believe that the view that both
your host and the doctor expressed about blind people, is a very
negative and harmful one. I am one of those kids who has been
blind since birth. I see only a tiny bit of light in one eye.
My parents were told to treat me like a normal kid and not to
pray for a miracle. I grew up doing what other kids did. I was
encouraged to do anything and everything everyone else did. I
played sports and music and without my blindness would never have
had the wonderful experience of being a paralympian. I live a
normal active life. I have never pined away for my vision. Not
seeing is normal and natural. I just got on with life. I'm not
heroic or pathetic or saintly. I am blind. I was born blind. I
learned to read and write braille, then type, then computers and
braille displays. I use I devices, computers, and have a guide
dog. I travel independently. I work. I participate in sports.
I play music. I am a storyteller. I attend concerts, movies and
other performances. I have many friends and an active social
life. I volunteer assisting others. My life is not dull. I can
run down the stairs. Your doctor said that a blind person could
not do this. He also described his clinic as a sad and gloomy
place. This is not what blindness is to me and I do resent it's
portrayal in this manner. Blindness is a part of who I am. It
is fun, interesting, infuriating, fascinating, frustrating,
wonderful but it is a part of me. A part I would not change.
The real barriers I come across every day are attitudinal
barriers when others believe that blindness is nothing but
misery. If you would like to read my blog "great things about
being blind" I provide the link below. It concerns me that the
first person parents of blind children meet is a doctor who
believes blindness to be so negative.
Thanks again for your shall.
Kim Kilpatrick

Saturday, July 28, 2012

amazing to watch opening ceremonies with audio description!

okay Okay, I admit it! I am adicted to the olympics and paralympics. There is never enough coverage of paralympics in my opinion. But, even for me, there is enough coverage of olympics. I have always loved watching even before I was a paralympian myself. but, I have never really liked watching the ceremonies. They are always quite visual and I do not know what is going on. I was not going to watch the opening yesterday either but when I heard they had audio description (describing the action for people who are blind) I turned it on and was so pleasantly surprised and thrilled. I also followed along with my twitter feed. Tweeting with friends around the country and across the world. Thanks to those who described and thanks to those who tweeted along with me. Congratulations UK! Go Canada go!

Olympic opening finally accessible to me.

I admit it! I am olympic crazy! I love the olympics! Both winter
and summer but summer more so as I was a competitive swimmer and
paralympian. Yesterday, I turned on the opening ceremonies. I
do not always watch the ceremonies. They can be boring for me as
they are always so visual and I do not know what is going on.
But, yesterday when I turned it on, the audio description
started. So, as I sat there, I could hear all about everything
that was going on. I also had my twitter feed open following
along and tweeting with others around the world. It was amazing!
I loved it so much. Thank you to audio description and thank you
to those who made that possible. Some day everything should be
audio described all of the time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

People have strange ideas.

Yesterday, while out walking with my guide dog, a lady came up
and said that the dog was too small for me. A guide dog should
not be that small. I kept walking. What a strange thing to say.
She is one of the smallest guide dogs I've ever seen but she is
just right for me! It makes me wonder why she would have come up
and said that. Takes all kinds of people to make the world
interesting doesn't it?

Please disregard any spammy messages that get into this blog.

Hi all,
Thanks so much for those who pointed out that sometimes a post
somehow gets on to my blog. One of these spamy posts saying my
on-line banking etc is bad. Please please disregard. They are
spam and please never click on anything unless it looks like it
comes from me. Thank you so very much. And thanks for those who
read and keep me posted. I try to keep track but get busy

Monday, July 23, 2012

Public bathrooms.

As promised a few days ago, here is a story about public
bathrooms. They are tricky to navigate for someone who is blind.
They are never laid out in the same fashion. When you enter the
room, you do not know where things are. And even when you find
thebasics, you do not know where other things are. For example,
you find the toilet but are not sure where the toilet paper is,
where the flusher is. You find the sink but where is the soap.
Are there paper towels or a dryer. Where is the garbage can?
Within the past few years, new difficulties have arisen.
Sometimes you find the sink and are feeling about when the taps
go on of their own acord. Same now with paper towel dispensers,
hand dryers and even flushers for toilets. My dog can help me
find the basics in bathrooms. Like the door to get in, doors to
stalls etc. But not where soap is or anything like that. So,
entering a public bathroom is always quite an adventure.

Friday, July 20, 2012

forest fires and blind people.

I heard today that there is a big forest fire in a major wooded area a few hours away. I have camped there many times. It is sad to think of it burning. I started to think that blind people would have an advantage when trying to get away from a fire as they could close their eyes in the smokefilled air and move away along the ground. They could feel the heat with the face and orient themselves maybe better than a sighted person could. But, then the sound of the fire might disorient you and the smell would mask all other smells. Not that I am about to go and try fighting the fire to see if I am better equipped to cope. Just an exercise in thought from a safe distance. Thanks to those though who are fighting all of the fires around here during this very dry summer.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A blast from the past.

Last night when I took my dog out for the last time, I heard someone calling my name. Turns out it was a guy I worked with when we were 16 at my very first job. I was a camp counsellor for little kids. He recognized me and remembered my name. When you are the only totally blind person working at a camp and the first one ever to do so, I guess you stand out. He says he has seen me before but could never stop as he was driving. That was a very fun job and a great group to work with. I worked extremely hard but it was fun too and it got me launched into the world of work. For those who took a chance on a totally blind camp counsellor, you are awesome!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finding a bathroom.

The other day, I was having a meeting in a coffee shop that my
guide dog and I know quite well. We found the place with no
problem. My guide dog finding all audible crossing poles she
could along the way. We had our drink, our meeting, and then got
up to go. My guide dog marched with purpose straight ahead. I
knew the way outside was to our right but I was curious as to why
Tulia pranced so quickly and confidently in that direction. She
pranced proudly up to the bathroom door. "Here it is. Here it
is." Wag wag wag. It reminded me of when my mom used to ask if
we needed to go before leaving home. Did she figure I had had a
drink and now should go to the bathroom? Tomorrow, I will talk
about how going to bathrooms in public places is always an
adventure for people who are blind.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's written right there on the board!

Yesterday two times this happened to me. I'm not sure if the people realized whether or not I was blind? I'd like to hope they didn't know. They weren't able to see my guide dog over the counter? At least, I hope this was the case. If not.... I went out yesterday to run errands before it got too hot. I entered a store and asked about some items in the bakery. "They're all listed on the board over there." "I can't see it.' "Really?" Then she did read it to me. In another store, I asked a similar question and receivd a similar answer. I was despairing of humanity as I approached a street crossing. My heart sank. There was a huge fan blowing loudly and a large truck parked at the corner so I couldn't hear anything except loud noise. This makes it impossible to read traffic. As I was standing there, a man approached and said, "I imagine all of this noise makes it hard for you to figure out when to cross the street." A rational human being who doesn't expect me to read menus on the wall? Thank you! I could have hugged him. I agreed he was right and he told me when the light had changed. Maybe he should go and educate those store people?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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Confused or just listening?

The other day, I got off a bus at a somewhat unfamiliar location. I've been there before but not too often and not for a while. I waited for the bus to pull away. I do this because the loud noise of the bus always masks any other sounds in the environment. Once it had pulled away, I stood for a few seconds listening to what was around me. The sounds of the streets beside and ahead of me. I smelled the air to figure out if I could identify where I was by scent. Then, I was just about to tell my dog forward and set off when a woman came up and asked if I was confused. No I was just figuring things out. She then asked if my dog was confused or not very well trained. This was odd because as she was saying this, my dog took me around something in our path. It was extremely hot outside and I was in a bit of a hurry so I said slightly sarcastically, "Does she seem badly trained to you?" "Well no but shouldn't she know where you are going at all times?" "No. I have to know where I am going and direct her and she helpes to get me there safely>" "Oh! I didn't know that." Very many people think our dogs just take us everywhere and we have little or nothing to do with it. So, thought I would post about it here. Off for a walk before the real heat sets in again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is my guide dog training me?

Hi all,
It was cooler for a couple of days but today heating up again and
it is supposed to stay hot for many days. Tulia and I just got
back from a walk. I may have said this here already but she is
quite smitten with finding me
poles for audible crossing buttons. When we get to a corner, I
ask her if one is there. She spins her head left, right,
wagging, and if the pole is there with the button, she prances us
over and puts her face right under the button. I don't even know
where they are half the time as they are always in different
places but she sure knows them and finds them. If there isn't
one there, she hangs her head. She loves finding things.
Anyway, this morning, we went to the bakery which she hasn't been
to in ages and she found it. Then we walked some more and found
some crossing poles and she found a bus stop too which we didn't
need and a garbage can and a million coffee shops. Anyway, we
got to this corner where I know an audible pole is. She stopped
walking so I put my hand out, expecting the pole and encountered
a backpack. She had stopped not for the pole but because she
couldn't get around as there where lots of people there. The guy
turned around quite startled. I said I was sorry. I didn't tell
him I thought he was an audible crossing pole. I guess Tulia has
me well trained right?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sorry for junk mail posts and a cute Tulia story.

I am sorry that sometimes some post sneaks on here telling you to click or join or something. I may have to go in and change my blog settings so this doesn't happen. Don't click on anything unless it is in a blog post from me just to be on the safe side. Today, my guide dog and I were on the bus. A man across from me said, "That is an old old dog." I'm not sure if he was blind himself as no one but no one calls Tulia old. If anything, they say she looks like a young pup. I said that no she wasn't old. Others on the bus chimed in and said she didn't look old at all. Then, he said, "That dog is looking at you like oh it is so sad you are blind." I almost laughed out loud. Patiently, I said, "Well, I don't think so because if I wasn't blind, she'd be out of a job!" The people around us roared with laughter. Then he said, "That dog doesn't like being with you very much." At this, Tulia tilted her neck and kissed me right on the face. Everyone in the bus roared some more with laughter. So did I. Then of course, Tulia hammed it up. Tilted her head at the people and someone said raised and flicked her eye lashes. The man didn't make any more comments and we soon got off the bus with people around us still snickering. Takes all kinds I guess.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thanks to all for reading and your comments and kindness.

I know it has been a few days since I've updated this blog. I
miss it when I do not write. It is like writing a diary or
something similar. I like thinking of topics and telling of my
adventures. I want to thank you all for reading and commenting.
People have been very kind, sending me articles or links and
suggesting topics. If I do not always respond to you
individually, be assured I read and ponder what you provide to
me. Thank you! I promise to be more faithful about keeping up
with the blog. Happy summer.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada day!

It is Canada day hereddjuly 1. Our national day. I'm so proud
to be Canadian. Happy Canada day to all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is Tulia losing her touch?

I have talked about Tulia's abilities to charm people on this
blog before. I have also mentioned about her ability to pick a
table in a coffee shop (one where we have recently sat) and
decides that this is my table and her table and she goes and
stares at the people sitting there asking them to move). She is
masterful at it. I try not to let her get away with it but she
is subtle and good. A wag, a pathetic look in the eyes, a tilt
of her gorgeous shiny black head, and people rise, gather up
their coffee, newspapers, magazines, laptops and leave the table
to us. They move whole meetings to the other side of the store.
But, yesterday, it didn't work. She was trying. From the minute
we entered the shop, she looked at a table where we had sat last
week. As I moved towards another one, she slowed down, and
wagged, twisting her head longingly towards the old table. There
were people there. They continued talking. They did not comment
on her beauty, her cleverness, her puppy dog eyes. They kept on
with their meeting. Tulia walked very slowly, dejectedly,
looking back. I asked her to find me an empty chair. She did it
but not with her usual joy. After we left the shop, I had to get
her to find the audible crossing pole, the bus stop pole, a
building for our meeting, before she truly cheered up again. I
guess we should go to the coffee shop and let her practice her
charming skills just in case she has lost her touch!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You never know!

I told stories in a very loud, crowded environment the other day. It is usually not the best type of place to do it and I thought that it was a big disaster. We all have performances like that from time to time. It appeared to me that no one was really listening and there was a lot of background noise. i got through it. I left. Afterwards, I have heard good comments. Only goes to show that you just have !trust in yourself and your art. It is not the best place or way to tell stories but it seems it was slightly better than I had thought it would be.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grateful to live where I do!

I was on my way to the bus stop yesterday, when it started to rain very hard! my guide dog and I were soaked by the time we reached the bus shelter. I was feeling sorry for myself, soggy, and damp. I stepped into the shelter and then struck up a conversation with a man who was also waiting for the bus. He told me that he had worked all night at a grocery store. That he had come here from Libiya and had arrived here just before all of the fighting broke out there. He has lost 2 friends in the fighting. He was in his last year of medical school when he was forced to leave. Imagine, almost becoming a doctor and having to flee your country. Coming to a new land, and having to start all over again. "show, being wet did not matter to me any more and he began saying how great Canada is, I felt very proud and we had a wonderful conversation during our long wait for the bus. Thank you, for helping me put things into perspective.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Words are not enough to express how which experience was.

Saturday, 18 storytellers and more than 100 listeners took the
journey. We told all of Homer's odyssey all day long. 12 hours.
Lots of breaks. Every single person was brilliant. Rose to the
story. Made it come to life. Each voice so different but always
moving the story along. The audience came with us eagerly. The
greek ambassador came for part of the time too. It was an
experience like no other. I do hope that we get to perform it

Friday, June 15, 2012

leading up to a performance.

Tomorrow is the day! We've been practicing for months to have 18 storytellers perform all of Homer's odyssey. And the day is almost here! Tomorrow! 18 unique voices and styles, 18 wonderful local storytellers, telling Homer as it was meant to be told. it is so exciting. and storytellers do not read. We learn the story. Not straight memorization either. Learning the story so it is in you to tell. But of course with the beautiful language. what an experience! One I will not ever forget. Come and listen. You'll be amazed!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How old is a guide dog when it starts working?

A friend of mine wrote on my facebook wall and asked me about when a guide dog is old enough to take the responsibility of being a guide dog. It varies a little with each dog. First, when they are puppies, they go and live with a family who trains them how to be good dogs and gets them used to all kinds of situations. Then, they go in for formal guide dog training. All of my guides have been a little under two years old when matched with me. Some can be about a year and a half and some can be older. Thanks as ever to all of the puppy raisers who read this. Without you, our dogs could not be the calm and socialized beings they are! And thanks to the guide dog trainers reading this (especially those who trained my wonderful Gia and Tulia) you have given me a gift that is the most precious thing I could ever get.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The words flew.

All 18 storytellers performing on Saturday at the full day long
odyssey event are working on their books. Well, I assume they
are! Smile! I sure am! A phrase occurs in the books. His words
flew. Her words flew. I love that image. Words flying. From
my mouth to your ears. Words flew. What a lovely image. Please
come to the odyssey if you can. If you do, you need to buy
tickets ahead because the box office will be closed at the
beginning of the day. My book is just before lunch. It will be
a great time. Nothing else like it. I hope to see some of you

Monday, June 11, 2012

Re: [Great-White-North] My guide dog makes me laugh so hard!

Tulia reminds me of her half sister. Shelby loves to show me poles for crossing whether or not I need them. Especially the ones we need to cross to get to the grocery store that's a couple of blocks away. Her tale wags agains my leg very hard when she's so proud of showing me things.
Andrea and Shelby
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 8:55 AM
Subject: [Great-White-North] My guide dog makes me laugh so hard!


As many of you may know, my lovely guide dog somehow sprained her
foot last week. She has been home resting for the past few days.
Just going out to go to the bathroom about a half block away and
back inside. Gradually, she has started wanting to do more.
Wanting to play and go with me whereever I go. This morning,
before it gets too hot, I decided to try walking the 2 short
blocks to a building with a coffee shop inside in the food court
of the little mall. Tulia had not been happy when I went out
with my white cane and left her home. So, I put my cane in my
backpack and was also prepared to turn back if she started
limping. We set off. We walked slowly and carefully. But,
Tulia decided to show off her brilliance in her work and show me
everything along the way that she had ever showed me. Crossing
poles for the audible signals. She marched up to those and
planted herself right beside them. Doors. Benches. Tables we
had sat at. Showing me everything. As if to say, "What are you
doing with that crazy white cane? I am much much smarter!" I was
laughing so hard. We got to the coffee shop. She found the
line, then a table, then lay on my feet. I drank my iced coffee
and practiced some stories for our upcoming odyssey storytelling
show, and then back we came. Once again on the way back, she
pointed out the crossing pole, guided me around the recycle bins
(it is garbage day here) and came home flawlessly. I do not
think she limped either. She is still on her anti-inflamatory
meds but seems to be doing very well. She is being cautious with
her footing but I do not mind that at all. I'm still chuckling
at how she showed me she cannot be replaced by a white stick.
What a little character she is. She is now flat on her back in
the sun!

Recent Activity:


    My guide dog makes me laugh so hard!

    As many of you may know, my lovely guide dog somehow sprained her
    foot last week. She has been home resting for the past few days.
    Just going out to go to the bathroom about a half block away and
    back inside. Gradually, she has started wanting to do more.
    Wanting to play and go with me whereever I go. This morning,
    before it gets too hot, I decided to try walking the 2 short
    blocks to a building with a coffee shop inside in the food court
    of the little mall. Tulia had not been happy when I went out
    with my white cane and left her home. So, I put my cane in my
    backpack and was also prepared to turn back if she started
    limping. We set off. We walked slowly and carefully. But,
    Tulia decided to show off her brilliance in her work and show me
    everything along the way that she had ever showed me. Crossing
    poles for the audible signals. She marched up to those and
    planted herself right beside them. Doors. Benches. Tables we
    had sat at. Showing me everything. As if to say, "What are you
    doing with that crazy white cane? I am much much smarter!" I was
    laughing so hard. We got to the coffee shop. She found the
    line, then a table, then lay on my feet. I drank my iced coffee
    and practiced some stories for our upcoming odyssey storytelling
    show, and then back we came. Once again on the way back, she
    pointed out the crossing pole, guided me around the recycle bins
    (it is garbage day here) and came home flawlessly. I do not
    think she limped either. She is still on her anti-inflamatory
    meds but seems to be doing very well. She is being cautious with
    her footing but I do not mind that at all. I'm still chuckling
    at how she showed me she cannot be replaced by a white stick.
    What a little character she is. She is now flat on her back in
    the sun!

    Sunday, June 10, 2012

    So glad to hear an annoying squeaky toy!

    We have had a tough few days. Somehow, my guide dog sprained her foot the other day. She is on anti-inflamatories and rest. No work for her for a few days at least and minimal work for a week or two depending on how things go. She was quiet and loved her chewable pills. This morning, I heard a sound I have not heard in a few days. The squeak of a squeaky toy. She is still not allowed to play but her even wanting to is a good sign. I have always found the sound of that toy annoying but today it sounded great!

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    My love of reading.

    I have loved reading ever since I can remember. I loved being read to, learning braille, reading audio books, and reading in general. i am never without a book of some kind with me. Now with small dchpices, I can carry several. I love browsing libraries and finding books to read. so, it always shocks me to find someone who does not like to read. I came upon this again yesterday. I was working learning my odyssey in a cafe so I could get out and give my dog some work and exercise. i was taking a break from Homer when I overheard someone at the next table saying that she never reads and how much she hates reading and finds it boring. i almost said something but I did not. but how can anyone find books or reading boring? I'm sure glad I don't.

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Visit from the guide dog school.

    Each year, our field representative from the guide dog school pays us a visit. The great thing about Guide Dogs For the Blind is that they will also come and see you if you have any issues at any time. but, each year, they visit and offer you the chance of getting together and going for a walk, learning a new route, or working on anything you would like to learn. Our visit was on Friday and we worked on getting to the new vet's place. We tried various ways of getting there to find the safest and best one. My guide dog found everything. Remembered everything and worked like a pro. even yesterday, she found me new audible crossing buttons at another street. This is her new particular skill. Finding the poles with the audible buttons. It is quite amazing. When the visits are over, all of my guides have gotten quite silly when they get home. Rolling about and prancing. Like they just passed a very important exam. It is so cute!

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    Odyssey from a dog's view.

    My name is Tulia. I am the cutest black lab that ever lived or
    ever will live. Now, here is what you must know about the
    odyssey. All of the storytellers are working very very very very
    hard. I should know. I've been there for all that practicing
    and talking and moving about and discussing characters and
    everything. I snore through some of it but it is very good. I
    must point out that the first being to recognize odysseus when he
    comes home is not a person. Sure, his son does it after a
    goddess points it out. But the first being to truly truly
    recognize him is not a person but a dog. Here's to the
    brilliance of canines I say. So buy tickets and come on June 16.
    If you do, you will see me. And if you do and ask Kim nicely
    when my harness is off, you can pat me. Who can resist that?

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Getting the odyssey into myself.

    When I jumped at the chance to be one of the Storytellers
    bringing Homer's odyssey to life, I had not ever even read the
    whole odyssey. I knew some of the famous bits of course. But
    not the whole story. I set out to find the version we were using
    in audio or electronic format as I am totally blind and could not
    read the print version. I found several versions. Some in poem
    format, some abridged, some with boring readers, some for kids,
    and a few that I read right through. The story seemed
    interesting and I became more excited. I could do this. I've
    been a professional storyteller for over 10 years. I have a good
    memory. I love all material. But when I started to learn it, I
    could not remember it at all. The beautiful language did not
    stay in me. The words seemed lifeless. Beautiful yes they (,
    but lifeless too. Why? After some work, we came up with a few
    reasons. First, I could not picture the story in my imagination.
    I have not seen ancient greece. What were the pallaces like?
    What did they wear? Who were the gods? What did they do? How do
    you yoke mules to a wagon? I realized then how much I put myself
    into the stories I tell. Moving through them myself as the words
    fly to my audience. I could not do this. I was trying to cram
    words into my head and not put the story into myself and live it
    with all of me. So I started reading about the greek gods.
    Asking questions of our artistic directors and kind storytelling
    friends. What clothes did they wear? How big are mules? What
    would the pallaces be built like? I asked and asked until the
    pictures and the people became clearer in my mind. It was only
    then that the beautiful language flowed easily and came to life
    for me. And now as I tell my part of the wonderful story, I am
    there and the words come naturally. What a rich tapestry we wove
    in our rehearsals last weekend. Each voice different but always
    moving the wonderful story forward. Come and experience this
    with us. You will be amazed, amused, astounded, astonished. I
    raise my mug of tea to brilliant blind homer. Hopefully blind
    Kim (smile) will be brilliant too on June 16. Come and f9do

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    I am so lucky to have such varied work.

    This week I had such a varied work week. an accessibility presentation. Writing an article for a magazine. Learning my part for the odyssey. Playing piano at a nursing home. I am so lucky to do such a variety of work.

    Monday, May 28, 2012

    A weekend spent with brilliant blind homer.

    On June 16, at the NAC Fourth stage in Ottawa, The Ottawa
    Storytellers and 2 women pruductions will be performing Homer's
    odyssey. All of it. 17 storytellers. Over 8 hours of telling.
    A twelve hour day but with lots of breaks. You will never hear
    anything like this. Come. Try it out. You will be amazed.
    Tickets can be purchased from the NAC box office. This weekend,
    we ran through the whole thing. We rehearsed for 2 days. My
    part went well and it was fun to do. Remember that Storytellers
    do not read. They tell the story. Each of our voices is so
    different. Our delivery too. I was amazed at the rich tapestry
    of words woven by this remarkable story. If you cannot come and
    want to support us financially, make a donation under indigogo
    and ottawa storytellers. Will post the links here soon.

    Sunday, May 27, 2012

    Such fun at the piano recital.

    I had not played in a piano recital since I was very small. i have been studying piano again with my good friend Kathleen for over a year now. She is a wonderful teacher. We studied together as music Therapists many years ago. I was the only adult there. Lots of kids. Some playing piano some guitar. kids as young as 4. They all did great. Such a variety of music. So much love of it and energy. I am not as nervous storytelling as I am performing musically so I wanted to jump that hurdle and perform in front of others. I was nervous and made a few small mistakes but kept going. And I've wanted to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for a long time now. I was mobbed afterwards but all of the kids did not want to compliment me on Beethoven at all. No! They wanted to pat Tulia!

    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    My brilliant guide dog and my own unbrilliance!

    I have shown my guide dog how to find a few poles for audible pedestrian signals.  I don't always use them.  This is a button you push and when the light changes, it gives you a signal.  Here where I live the north south lights chirp and the east west lights used to cukoo but now play something called the Canadian melody.  Maybe I shall try to record them and post the audio here for your listening pleasure.  I use them mainly when it is quiet and little traffic and or when traffic is tough to read for some reason.  I don't always know which intersections have them and where the poles are.  The poles can actually be quite far from where I line up to cross a street.  Anyway, yesterday morning, my guide dog pranced up to a pole at a corner.  I thought she was sniffing it and was about to say no.  But, I put my hand out and she wagged her body so hard, and there was an audible button at a corner where I never knew a signal existed.  We were both pretty excited about it I must say.  She got kibble.  I got a good feeling in my heart!   Smile!

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    Crossing on a red light.

    There are some very good things about going for a walk early on a weekend morning. the streets and sidewalks are quiet and peaceful. My guide dog and I do not have as much traffic or pedestrians to go around. We can walk and enjoy it. there is one difficulty. It is harder to read traffic lights. if there is no traffic, you do not know if the light is red or green. the audible signals help with this. The other morning, we were standing at a corner when a man crossed the empty street. He said, "You and your dog are smarter than me. I just crossed on the red light." he then waited to tell me when the light actually did turn green. Thank you !you if you are out there reading this.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    guide dogs in and out of harness. The differences.

    Yesterday, I had a long day of working in various places and ways. i left the house early in the morning and got back near dinner time. My guide dog Tulia was in harness most of the day. when she is in harness, she is calm and professional. at one point yesterday, someone asked if they could pat my dog. about 6 or 7 people were in the room at that time. I took her harness off and she instantly became her off duty self. Wagging and rolling about. Wanting her stomach rubbed. the people were amazed at the change. not that our guides do not like working. They love it but they are working. so they are more serious and focused when working. And here is another myth. Our guides do not work when we are in our houses. They are loose and playing and sleeping and doing what dogs do. my dog is currently sleeping at my feet. And, there is nothing more comforting than a dog sleeping on your feet.

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    the smells of Spring!

    some nice smelling flowers are out on our street. Lilacs maybe. I smelled them for the first time the other day as I was walking past. beautiful flowery smell. I breathed it in and hope they look as beautiful. then I smelled the chip wagons. the smells of french fries that come out once winter is gone. i smelled the smell of ground and mud. Then, someone cutting grass so there was that wonderful grassy smell. he was nice and stopped his mower so we could pass. I always am grateful for this as loud noises always mask other sounds around us. I noticed Tulia sniffing the air a lot too. She too must love the springy smells and not having to wear her dog boots while out on walks.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    braille display "working with an Iphone.

    i am so excited. i am writing this on my braille display which is connected to my Iphone. i had some trouble pairing them but now I have done it. It is so cool. I can write on the display and have it show up on my phone. I can also read what is on my phone in braille. it is absolutely amazing.