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?