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I’m No Smuggler, #JusJoJan

I didn’t feel any sort of an ominous, heavy weight in the room until I was told of the real situation at hand.

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The men behind the desk had guns strapped to their sides and wore bullet-proof vests, or so I was told, a voice whispering in my ear.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

Oh, there was still some lingering aggravation on my part, but by that point I was going along with the program. I would soon have my package.

I’d been aggravated for weeks, on account that my braille display (electronic braille machine) had stopped working after only one year’s use. I wasn’t particularly hard on it and I’d done nothing to damage it, unlike my dear departed first Mac laptop.

The line of braille is little metal dots, poking up, and then, one day, some on the left side just decided they no longer wanted to do their job. This made reading the first few words of each line nearly impossible. What a way to aggravate me.

I waited and finally I phoned the necessary number and requested a repair. Mine would be sent back, across the border, and a temporary replacement would be sent to me in the meantime.

Quite the switch. Still, I didn’t anticipate any problems until I was notified that the delivery service could not deliver it to me.

I needed to fill out, print out forms and take them to Canada Customs for clearance.

It was a whole thing, for a time there, but now that I have the loaner here, all that aggravation feels so far away.

I can, once more, read articles and essays, thanks to the magic of Bluetooth and my iPhone.

I can write and read back what I’ve written. I can spellcheck my writing and edit my own work.

It’s so nice to have all that aggravation behind me, for now, and I am thankful I held my temper and frustration/aggravation in front of those customs guys with the guns – only for precaution of course.

Easy gentlemen. I’m no smuggler.

End of the week prompt word for Just Jot It January
This, That, and the Other
with “aggravate/aggravation”.

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Bumps Under Fingers #WorldBrailleDay #JusJoJan

January 4th is Louis Braille’s birthday, French inventor of the braille code.

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I think two of the best qualities any person can have are passion and compassion. I believe we’re all passionate about something.

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I am passionate about braille literacy, as an extension of literacy as a whole.

Braille is hard to learn for many people who lose their vision later in life. I’ve known braille since I started to slowly learn it in my first five-seven years.

I am practically allergic to math and numbers. I am deeply passionate about words and braille.

In this world of technology, there is less and less push for blind people today to need to learn braille at all. That, to me, would be like never learning to read. Though many prefer to listen to the talking programs on computers and phones, I still wouldn’t trade that for the feeling of those bumps beneath my fingertips.

Thank you, Louis Braille, for what you did so long ago.

This first-Thursday-of-the-month JusJoJan post comes from
Rosemary Carlson, Writer
with her prompt word-of-the-day: passionate.

What is it you’re passionate about?

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TToT: The Sound of Water at the Edge of All Things – Sirens and the Bird Song, #10Thankful

Your Memories on Facebook
Kerry, we care about you and the memories you share here. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from 4 years ago.

Kerry Kijewski, August 28, 2013

I have a dream…that one day we’ll live in a world where not only people of all ethnicities and cultures and religions will live together in harmony, but as far as we’ve come with that, we still have a long way to go: for black and white and yellow and brown, for women, and for LGBT too. I have a dream that as far as we’ve come with accepting all people included above, that the next step is to bring people of all disabilities into that list.

I have a dream that one day, people all over the world will recognize that people with disabilities of all kinds, physical, mental, or intellectual will be received and given the chance to prove that they have something to offer, each and every one of them.

I have a dream that one day…we will be given the same chances and opportunities to show the rest of the world just what we are capable of…that we have love and intelligence and dedication just like anyone else, and that we are just as eager to help out, make a difference, simply to participate in the world we share, to function and thrive as willing citizens, in our neighbourhoods, our communities, and as part of the bigger world’s stage.

I have a dream that people with all disabilities will one day live in a world where we are judged not by our lack of sight or hearing or mobility, but by our hearts, our minds, and our gifts, talents, and abilities. I have a dream that we will one day be taken seriously as contributing members of society…that we may be given just the same opportunities in ife to let our skills show and our hard work shine through, without the fear of being thought of as less than…I have a dream…

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech… Fifty years later…I have given mine…there’s hope yet, I know there is.

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I appreciate the reminder of my relative size. There are bigger things in life that I must remember still.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful I could have a day in Toronto with my sister, brother, niece, and nephew.

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A dinosaur really dwarfs you by comparison.

I’m thankful I got to see the blue whale exhibit at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum).

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I got to feel a exact sized replica of a blue whale brain.

I’m thankful my niece and nephew seemed to get so much out of the museum.

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Then we got up close with a replica of the blow hole.

It was just nice to see, that although there was the usual amount of youthful restlessness, we were still able to show them things that they found interesting.

Mostly dinosaur or other, more modern animal stuff.

I’m thankful for all the new sounds my niece is now making regularly.

At six months old her vocabulary of sound is really growing.

I swear I hear words sometimes. No rush. It just makes me smile, whatever she’s saying.

I’m thankful my rough draft of my SiriusXM piece was so well received.

The editor said she was swamped, but couldn’t help listening to the thirteen-minute piece.

Her positive feedback was encouraging.

I’m thankful I got to see my brother play music at my town’s local fair.

The small crowd size left a lot to be desired, but it was more of a nostalgia thing than anything else.

I’m thankful for things to do and places to be away from the loud noises while the roof was being fixed…

I’m thankful for a yearly catch-up lunch.

She started out as my pupil aid when I was in grade one.

Then, as I needed it more and more, she learned braille and became my braille transcriber.

Back before computers were much of a real option, in the 90s, I would braille out my schoolwork on a manual braille machine and she would transcribe the assignments, in print underneath, for my teachers to read and mark.

That was years ago, she has moved on with working with other students in the meantime, but we still like to catch up every now and again.

We discussed my writing and her summer travels out east with family.

I’m thankful for a nice time out with a friend at a place that smells like chocolate and has delicious lattes with vanilla sugar.

It’s not my choice for a chocolate shop, all sugar free and vegan, but it wasn’t a bad spot for a drink.

I’m thankful for stories of history.

Regal. Often stilted. The music of the latest movie about Jacqueline Kennedy/Onassis was heartbreaking and real.

It was based on an interview she granted a week after John’s assassination. She spoke to her priest first and then the journalist.

I don’t know why I am fascinated with this part of still fairly recent history, as the exact graphic details of the killing are horrifying and this film does not shy away from that.

I am fascinated by the history of the 60s as a whole, for many reasons, as a time of real upheaval, feeling eerily similar to now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE

From John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King, Jr. From “all men” to “all men and women and all of us” in the twenty-first century and fifty years on and onward.

I don’t wish to strictly compare or relate, but this stuff is similar in my experience, but mine alone.

Self evident indeed.

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TToT: Being the Heroine of My Own Story – Lucky, #EarthDay2017 #WorldBookDay #10Thankful

“There, sitting on the warm grass, I had my first lessons in the beneficence of nature. I learned how the sun and the rain make to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, how birds build their nests and live and thrive from land to land, how the squirrel, the deer, the lion and every other creature finds food and shelter. As my knowledge of things grew I felt more and more the delight of the world I was in. Long before I learned to do a sum in arithmetic or describe the shape of the earth, Miss Sullivan had taught me to find beauty in the fragrant woods, in every blade of grass, and in the curves and dimples of my baby sister’s hand. She linked my earliest thoughts with nature and made me feel that ‘birds and flowers and I were happy peers.”

—Helen Keller, The Story of My Life

I’m trying to have the sense to live in the moment and to enjoy myself in that moment, whatever it might be, like Helen Keller and her teacher Miss Sullivan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rlQqWbp7rY

The only time things seem to make any sense is when I am with my nieces or nephews, holding my niece.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for more time spent, just myself and my little buddy Mya.

She didn’t want to sleep the entire time. She didn’t want to miss one second of her time with Auntie Kerry.

Then Kim told me there are a few photos recently taken where Mya looks like me. I may never have my own children. My sister will never know how much this small thing, one I won’t ever likely fully understand because I can’t see the pictures, means to me anyway.

I am thankful for my last violin lesson for a few weeks.

Last time we missed multiple weeks it was I who was going away. This time my teacher is traveling.

I hope, like last time, I don’t fall too far back in my progress.

I hope her trip is everything mine was to me, all she hopes.

I am thankful for my return to the library.

I haven’t been to my writing group (The Elsewhere Region like I like to refer to it) since February, for a few reasons.

Everyone there seemed pleased to see me, a few even saying they missed me. I missed them and their wonderful imaginations.

We had little scraps of paper with a few lines of story prompt written on them, thanks to one of the members of our group, and mine included: a frog prince, a talking donkey, a cloud castle, and Betty’s wish list.

Who is Betty you ask…well I asked myself that same question. It was the first try for me, in a while or at all really, at writing fantasy. I liked what I came up with, though I have no idea where I was headed with it, but then my equipment decided to cause a problem.

I was reading my story in progress out loud to the group, they were riveted, and then the second half of what I’d written seemed to vanish. I am sure I wrote it, but my technology doesn’t always cooperate.

I am thankful I could answer a few questions about how I’ve learned and lived as a blind person, for a good cause.

My sister’s sister-in-law works with a young boy who is blind. She helps him in his neighbourhood school, but she had some questions about how I’ve grown up, how I learned, and how my mom saw it all from the parent perspective.

She had the coolest keychain on her keys. Instead of a cube with coloured squares, she has three blocks that move from one side to another, and they contain tactile dots. They are braille dots and they make different letters in braille when you mix and match them.

A fun thing to do with your hands. She sounds like an excellent teacher who wants to keep learning the best possible ways to teach her student to be as successful in his life as possible and it seems he is lucky to have her.

I am thankful for a friend reaching out, mentioning me to her friend, and a new and possible connection made in the world of women writing and women’s storytelling.

Thank you Lizzi. Women helping and supporting other women. We can always use the help. I appreciate it.

Who knows what will or will not come of it, but that is what making connections is all about.

I am thankful for a lovely first visit with my new neighbour in my home.

We had a nice talk. Many more to come.

She even warned me about the roofers coming to her house and called me this evening, to check on me, when she thought she heard a noise over here.

I am thankful for this earth.

I watched Bill Maher say that 45 needs to forget “Make America Great Again” and instead “Make Earth Great Again.”

I totally agree. Mars is cool and everything (says this fan of planets since childhood) but we don’t have licence to be careless, reckless, and destroy this planet, just because some want to get there. It is not the answer to our problems of environmental and climate changes. Taking care of this place, the one already with plenty of water and life and the air we breathe, that will benefit us all in the end.

As many said, every day should be Earth Day for us all.

I am thankful for science.

All Around Us and Everything Essential

I thank all the scientists in my life: my oldest friend, my many excellent doctors over the years, my cousin and his wife, my new friend who is also a writer, Bill Nye The Science Guy (for teaching me to love our solar system when I was a child), and to so many who are much smarter than I am in these matters.

I owe science big and I believe those who marched all around the world were warranted in doing so. We need to make a statement. Science is worth fighting for.

I am thankful for another excellent episode of Anne The Series.

A young girl runs through a dark, snow covered forrest, carrying a lantern and wearing only a thin layer of night clothes.

Ahead By A Century.

I am glad Anne and Diana are allowed to be friends again so soon, but I didn’t expect these three things to happen, all in this one episode of Anne The Series: Diana’s sister almost dying, Anne meeting Great Aunt Miss Josephine Barry, and Gilbert suffering a huge loss.

The fist fight is one of the memorable parts of this one, likely brought on by grief and a need to defend a newly growing love and respect, even if the source of that love and respect doesn’t make it easy, like one before her.

Though Anne is conflicted about what her future should be, between romance that most young girls are desperate for and her strong ambition, she knows when she listens to her heart.

This episode is all about letters, long lost pleas that will now never be addressed and unfinished business and apologies.

More flashback with Marilla this time, as a young girl, about Anne’s age. Sadly, youth cannot last and family obligations altered everything, but not necessarily for the worse, for some more than others.

Matthew offers to help Gilbert, Marilla and Gilbert have a enlightening conversation about place and time, and Anne finds a kindred spirit in old Miss Barry, who the writing hints as having had a long same sex relationship with another woman. This was never even alluded to in the series I loved growing up, but the times are changing and I am glad for that. It was one of the pleasant surprises of this week’s instalment.

Some of my favourite themes explored in this narrative are those exploring grief, loss, stubbornness, regret, and how decisions can or may influence the future.

Anne goes to give her apology when she finds an abandoned house, Marilla is stuck with her regrets, and Matthew goes to the bank to make some mysterious financial transaction.

Season finale already next Sunday. That went fast and I hope the break isn’t too long, that a second season is in the works.

“Romance is a pesky business. No sense to be made of it.”
—Miss Josephine Barry

I am thankful for books, but not only them, but books in accessible formats.

On World Book Day, I am not just thankful for books, though I am always thankful for those. It’s being able to read them, hold them, learn from them, and to access them in either e-format, audiobooks, or in braille.

This wasn’t always possible if you couldn’t see to read and it still isn’t always made easy. I just want to be like Helen, with her love of reading and learning. Or Anne and hers.

And so one more week ends and another begins. It’s all still an endless, giant enigma to me.

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TToT: In My Head I’m Swept Away – Collective Arts, #10Thankful

Things are changing. I guess that’s a normal part of life. I wonder when it might be that this concept doesn’t feel so strange to me. I complained that these things are fading away, like this here ten things of thankful exercise, and then I’m the one who has faded away from even attempting it. Since the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 I’ve been preoccupied and all over the place. I still am.

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I liked Lizzi’s attempt at coming up with
fifty
and not just ten, back around Christmas. I thought, since I am on my way to parts unknown very soon, I’d try for somewhere between ten and fifty, to cover for those I’ve missed in recent weeks and the week I’m sure to miss coming up.

January throws me off somewhat, no matter the year.

This is meant to be a bunch of things I’m thankful for from the year that just was and some of what I’ve been thankful for lately. I will set a timer and see how long it takes me to come up with fifty items for this list of mine.

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For the perspective a year can give.

For snow globes.

For winter in Canada.

For the violin.

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For the bow in my hand.

For the strength and muscles needed to play.

For people willing to fight back, stand up, speak out.

For reason, logic, and common sense, which isn’t quite common enough.

For the challenge of learning to adapt and familiarize myself with new things.

For the discomfort that often causes because it helps me grow.

For the variety of sizes in Pesos.

For a Spanish language program I can listen to, shuffled up in my iTunes library.

For the syncing of all info and contacts even.

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For KFC (Kijewski Family Christmas).

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For journals and diaries.

Sophia showing Auntie Kerry her journal.
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For treats made especially available at Christmas.

For all things tactile, like the letter S.

For being exposed to new people.

For a first date.

For the smell of coffee.

For the scent of cinnamon buns when I step foot in the mall.

For people watching, even the way I do it.

For music of all kinds.

For salad.

For the stars and moons of all kinds.

For rainbows.

For sunsets and sunrise.

For mild and frigid.

For the sound snow makes, that crunching, when it is really cold here.

For a female Canadian on our money…the money with braille on it.

For my violin teacher.

For a spa experience.

For a shopping trip with a friend.

For hearing my name coming from the smartest of smart almost-two-year-old little girls, only here for a visit.

For my cat’s strange and sweet behaviours.

For my cat and dog ALMOST ALWAYS getting along.

For travel agents.

For the life lessons from those who push me to require more of myself.

For rice cakes.

For the coolness offered by the frozen food section of a grocery store.

For snow covered country inns.

For buffet breakfasts.

For scrambled eggs.

For podcasts.

For perfecting family pancake recipes with Ketchup.

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For inspired ideas.

For audio technology.

For song lyrics.

For the ability to provide a jam space in my basement for a bunch of talented and creative musicians.

For creativity.

For outdoor concerts.

For personal invites to travel and write and meet others who love both those things.

For family days at the beach.

For giving myself a year to focus on me.

For borders, be they on countries or the sections of a country.

For Netflix docs.

For photos I cannot see.

For governmental programs that help make life easier and more hopeful.

For opportunities for my brother to play his music outside.

For coffee shops.

For intimate and cozy live concert venues.

For Halloween candy.

For wine and pizza.

For manicures.

For new writing opportunities.

For laptops.

For braille.

For hard decisions.

For blogging.

For miracles and magic.

For little puppy/rabbits.

For first days of school.

For the chance to do an interview with an editor/writer I admire.

For peg dope.

For sul ponticello.

For cello music.

For long tones.

For drag and drop audio.

For fireside chats with a train to be heard somewhere far in the distance.

For pasta Tuesdays.

For packing/to-do lists.

For my mother’s talents with a needle and thread.

For doctors who listen.

For medication coverage.

For tolerance.

For pizza with family.

For catching up with an old friend.

For my first violin concert and my second and my third.

For everything in the ocean.

For space and the eight/nine planets.

For morning glories.

For phone booths.

For talented family in the kitchen.

For family sharing food.

For my cat’s soft fur.

For a world full of accents.

For comedians.

For the chance to laugh rather than crying.

For Niagara Falls.

For heated car seats.

For mint filled cookies.

For secondhand clothing.

For the chance to face my fear of secondhand items.

For gavels.

For jokes, knock knock or other.

For rewatching old movies.

For good neighbours.

For unexpected book sales.

For the sound of skating.

I should probably stop here. This is just a start to a list. It goes to show just how much there really is to be thankful for, if you take the time to look, list, and add them up. I topped 100 things in this list and I think I’ve made my point.

I am starting to panic about why I’ll be missing TToT next time. I have so much to be thankful for. I just must learn to trust in all of it.

Bonus Thankful: airplanes and the responsible pilots who fly them.

Mucho Gusto!

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One Dot at a Time {VisionAware post}

Braille is the best!

Adventures in Low Vision

 Photo shows braille lettering on a white page. Welcome, 2017.  Resolution makers, breakers and those who don’t bother, we all face the sparkling promise of the year to come.  It’s invigorating to imagine shedding the dry skin of previous failures or poor choices and to begin with a smooth touch on new goals.

For me 2017 will be another year full of adventures–intentional and otherwise–as I live each day well with low vision. One of the fun challenges I’m doing is learning the braille alphabet. In celebration of World Braille Day as well as Louis Braille’s birthday, VisionAware published my piece, One Dot at a Time, on learning braille as a person with low vision.  Braille will continue to be something I value in 2017 as living well is all about choices and options.

How do you mark the new year? What resolutions or goals have you made for 2017? What do you think about braille?  What choices and options are you grateful for…

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You Bet Your Boots, #SoCS

It’s another
Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SoCS
and I am thinking about yesterday.

I am thinking about eyes and, yes, about a lot of other random words that do and don’t include the letters “y…e…s”.

Not necessarily “yesterday” as in the actual yesterday, which is about to change, as I waited to write this until the very end of my Saturday.

I spent my actual Saturday having fun with family. That is exactly what I needed to remember what is most important and to forget the yesterdays lately, ever since November 8th, 2016.

I thought of the Beatles documentary I saw recently and their song:
Yesterday.

The “yesterday” of the times during the Beatles popular years looked a lot different from my yesterday. The world is made up of the big and the small things that make up both. Times really change a lot and yet, yes/no, they don’t, as it would appear.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, but “yes” I could. The world is not actually any worse than it was yesterday. My eyes didn’t deceive me, though I wouldn’t have a problem wording it that way.

My eyes help me less and less, though most days I don’t notice either way.

The times spent with my niece and nephews involves me and also my brother explaining more and more that we can’t see, that our eyes don’t work. Sometimes one of them tries to make sense of this by stating that “their” eyes work, as if they are trying to make sense of the fact that they can still see and to work it out in their mind.

My niece is oldest and seems to understand. My nephews are a few years younger than her and are still working it all out, but they are getting there. They need to be reminded to let us feel a toy they want to show us, for example, like on this most recent visit when my nephew wanted to show us his lip balm. I should have smelled it anyway. I soon did and it smelled like strawberries.

Yesterday I could play a game with my soon-to-be-six-years-old niece and not have to think too hard about all the things that are hard. She accepts me for me, her aunt, and she puts her small hand into mine and guides me to where she wants me to go in our games.

My eyes made it impossible to watch my nephew’s swimming lesson the other day, but I still wanted to be there.

My eyes made it impossible to read the menu at dinner with my family, but luckily they could read and we knew, pretty much, what we wanted at a restaurant we’ve been to eat at hundreds and hundreds of times before.

My yesterday of sorts had my eyes working better than my today. I can’t change that. I eat pizza with my family and it tastes just as delicious, with or without fully functioning eyes.

Yes, okay, so the world makes little sense to me, more than ever, but it’s not all bad. I can still write stream of consciousness thought and not have to be perfect or say what any one person expects me to say.

Yes, I do like living in Canada and having it become dark so early, as I feel the night has just as much to teach as the daytime.

Yes, I can focus on the good and use a positive word, instead of no no no no no all the time. I can agree that the world is out of sorts and this is a “yes” statement, instead of just being something negative, where “no” is like a shake of the head.

Yes, I have all the Cherry Coke I could possibly need right now and to last me for a long long time. Can you say sugar rush/sugar coma anyone?

Yes, if I’m not careful I will hold down the shift key for not just the first letter, “y” and onto the second letter, “e”. My computer’s voice program sounds it out like “yeeeees”. That’s how I know, but soon I will have actual braille to read from when I write, so my own editing can go more smoothly. I won’t have to rely entirely on those little subtle clues that I made a small blunder.

YEs.

🙂

I realize that this is a small thing, in the grand scheme of things. All the things, all that my eyes cannot see, so my ears pick up on instead.

Yes, I have been somewhat of a “yes girl” in my life, not wanting to say “no” if I can help it. Hearing that word, “no” isn’t always easy, but sometimes we have no choice. Yes doesn’t always give us what we want.

My yesterdays have been a mixed bag of yes’s and no’s and maybe’s because I can’t always make up my mind. I am somewhat famous for that indecision actually.

Yesterday is in the past and my broken eyes can’t look back to see what I may or may not have gotten wrong. Tomorrow is all I can do anything about now.

Yesterday is over and done with now and tomorrow is all we’ve got to work with.

Yes, I will do my best. My yesterdays’ weren’t all that bad really. It’s just easy, with working eyes or without, to see things that are in the past as being worse than what they maybe really were.

Yes, I have a lot to look forward to coming up. Yes, I am looking ahead to these things. Yes, I loved all the yesterday days I have had.

And YEEEES, I absolutely did eat some of my niece and nephew’s old Halloween candy while visiting, but it was mostly the stuff they don’t like, so it’s okay.

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