Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections

Mrs. P Sorted Through It #JusJoJan

It’s when my braille translation program got all messed up and what came out from the braille printer made absolutely no sense.

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It was strange to call her Mrs. P at school suddenly. I’d gone for years thinking of her as my friend’s mother. She’d pick us up, make us dinner, and drop us off. All of a sudden, she’s my educator, teacher’s assistant, and I just don’t call her anything at all.

She was the first to use the word
gobbledygook
and I have been a fan of that word ever since.

High school seems so long ago now, like an entire lifetime ago, but I’ve seen a lot of gobbledygook since the early 2000’s.

It all gets muddled with so many voices, spurting out nonsense and opinions all over the place and my headaches persist.

What I’m saying here now is more of the same. I can gobbledygook it with the best of them though.

When most people run their fingers or move their eyes along a line of braille they get only gobbledygook. When I do it, the world opens up to me beneath my fingertips.

I relied a lot on my friend’s mom/educational assistant to sort through so much nonsensical jargon so I could learn what I needed to learn.

Thank you, Mrs. P and
Jim,
for bringing this word to my/our collective minds.

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Writing A Wrong, #JusJoJan

A bunch of holes, punched into a piece of paper – what is it?

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As it was once done, braille still can be written with the slate and stylus, a piece of metal or plastic with lines of the six cells that make up braille.

A piece of paper is slipped inside the slate, lined up, so the stylus can
poke
holes in the appropriate spots to make all the individual braille letter combinations.

I know it sounds confusing and complicated to people upon hearing this, but it is how I’ve known to read and write since I was a child.

Handy when writing postcards when traveling, though they are less common than when I was younger.

It makes that simple thump thump thump sound as I press the stylus into the correct spot in the small six dot space, which lets me know I am right where I mean to be. One centimetre off and the letter I meant to write has a wrong dot in it.

Though I no longer use the slate and stylus method, as I prefer the speed of Perkins brailers or, nowadays, my electronic/Bluetooth braille display.

Sure, technology truly is amazing and has made literacy for the blind more efficient, but without the basic yet brilliant invention of braille to begin with, the world would be without the beauty of braille for all these years.

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TToT: March Breaks and Time Straddlers – Design and Procurement #10Thankful

I can’t get the image of all that plastic in that whale’s stomach out of my head. Or the gorilla who was shot and blinded. Or fifty human lives lost in New Zealand last week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yks0RggaluY

But then, I am reminded, we live in a world with rainbows.

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“Watch the rain drop.”

I’m thankful for new Cranberries music. She’s dead, and that’s still unbelievably sad, but this song just released is powerful, even more because of how things are.

I am thankful for a good
classic Irish memoir
to read on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. (All twelve braille volumes of it.)

I’m thankful that another news network put a spotlight on the disability issues radio talk show I do with my brother.

Radio Show About Blindness Promotes Accessibility – CTV London

I’m thankful an interesting documentarian/filmmaker was generous enough to give me a few hours of his time, to ask me several thoughtful questions, to get to know my story a little better. I’m discovering, life’s all in the connections that you make.

I’m thankful for an upcoming Niagara Falls weekend trip with my family to celebrate the start of spring.

I’m thankful for my recent weekend away in New York City with my friend and travel agent extraordinaire, just in time for International Women’s Day festivities.

I’m thankful for rooftops, bars/restaurants/nothing but the roof.

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I stand on one, on a cold International Women’s Day in New York City, with my friend Anita.

I’m thankful for fear that I keep facing.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my fears and not feel so alone. On the stage, the presenter (my “writing mentor” was the presenter) spoke about fear in her talk and then called me up, along with two other ladies, to share what we’re afraid of.

I’m thankful for lovely songs and their singers.

Though I don’t mind winter like some do, I am thankful for this first day of spring.

“Everything is new in the spring,” said Anne. “Springs themselves are always so new, too. No spring is ever just like any other spring. It always has something of its own to be its own peculiar sweetness. See how green the grass is around that little pond, and how the willow buds are bursting.”-
L.M Montgomery, Anne of the Island

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Wrong Washroom, Who Cares? #Disability #JusJoJan

Sometimes I let it slip on by and other times I take hold of it and don’t want to let it go.

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There is likely somewhat of a
cathartic
feeling I get, during those times I can’t and don’t let it go.

This week, I come to discover that public washrooms at a local university aren’t labeled in braille and I feel stunned, but I don’t know why I’m surprised at all. I guess this is just simply one of those little things blind people are supposed to live with?

Our blindness does require we take risks, face fears, and don’t let so many things hold us back, even from using the washroom.

We can wait for someone to come by, which is how we ask for help when we can’t first solve something ourselves. Or else, we have to go, bad, and that means we must pick one and walk in. Whatever happens after that…who can say.

A small thing, unthought-of by most, because they don’t live with it every day. Understandable, on one level for me, but am I speaking up for the greater good or just making a fuss?

That word, activism is a push away word when people hear it too often. It becomes tiresome, but I get it.

Then I want to bring attention to a scam, people thoughtlessly asking for money in grocery stores, representing the grassroots organization for the blind I have found empowering. People say, what’s wrong with raising money, as a rule? Nothing. Many organizations do it. We, as our organization made up of blind people, wish to show that we can be more than symbols of pity and need.

But of course, there is a need, a lot of need. We have the need to be understood and accepted. We can’t sit back, all our lives, waiting for the rest of the world (mostly sighted) to get those things for us and more.

Some saying, oh these things are hard to deal with, when a scam spreads across Canada and I still need to do something to stop it.

It might be a bit of a
catharsis (thank you Enthralling Journey),
to tell people they’re not being thoughtful, or else I am a scene maker who loves the rush it offers when feeling self-righteous about any given situation when up against the insensitive.

Call it what you like. It is my reality. I often long to hide from it, but that only works for so long before I need to be doing more, doing something.

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Lights and Dots #JusJoJan

April In Paris is a favourite movie of mine. Billy Crystal and Marge Simpson. What could be better?

My parents and older siblings have been. I have not. Do I want to go? Of course I do.

Of course I want to experience
Paris
but I’d rather visit Normandy or the Brittany Coast.

Mostly though, I want to visit Coupvray, the village where the inventor of braille was born.

I don’t speak French. I heard a lot about dog poop after my family visited. I hear that’s been cleaned up since.

Just recently, a friend and I were discussing checking out the catacombs, if I ever get to the capital of France and if she ever gets to return there. She tells me stories of visiting, as a teen, on a school trip to Europe and I hear the emotion in her voice when she speaks of being up the Eiffel Tower.

Thanks to
Forty and Fantastique
for a travel related word because there’s nothing more, I enjoy jotting/writing about, than travel and place.

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TToT: 2018/2019 It Comes and Goes (Special Mementos Edition) #JusJoJan #10Thankful

I wasn’t sure, as 2018 drew to a close, if I’d be back here in 2019

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and yet I am, returning with a
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
edition of the
Ten Things of Thankful
list.

Holidays are all about memories, or rather mementos of a life. Here I go, jotting down the ones that most stood out for me this last holiday season, the previous year and into this new one.

I’m thankful for Prosecco. The popping of the cork was a bit of a production, but the resulting bubbly liquid was so worth it.

I’m thankful for little balls of chocolate that come wrapped in foil with a creamy centre.

I’m thankful for old toys that make a modern return to the lives of the children in the family, such as Lite-Brite and an Etch-A-Sketch. One I can use, but the other, not so much. Still, they are a backtracking from all the technology we’re now living with and they encourage creativity. I spelled out braille words with the coloured pegs, the light shining and flashing in behind.

I’m thankful for Christmas Eve spaghetti and meatballs.

I’m thankful for a family tradition of sprinkle cookies that my sister loves to make.

I’m thankful for my mom’s stuffing, which used to be my grandmother’s stuffing to go along with a turkey dinner.

I’m thankful for a holiday movie classic viewing, with my father, on Christmas Eve.

I’m thankful for KFPB or Kijewski family pancake breakfast, Ketchup on pancakes and my brother at the pan, trying hard to make them just like our Oma used to.

I’m thankful for photos I can’t see, of my nieces and nephews with Santa. Or the ones my brother takes during the celebrating.

I’m thankful for hugs, whether they be end-of-visit or a surprise hug at the start of our KFC festivities (Kijewski Family Christmas).

These are mementos, past and present tradition and pieces of something, of a family celebration that’s always a great great time every year.

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Caption: Sophia’s birthday cookies. Hands with nails to paint.

Go here fore
January joy
and for more from the blogger who suggested memento as prompt word.

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TToT: Making A Mossy Rock Start To Roll – Blue and Sparkle, #10Thankful

Music, for me, is like life. It illustrates life, the blue and the sparkle of it. I include three songs, throughout this post, and they range from get-up-and-go (high energy) to somber and reflective of the state and weight of the world. But, first, I start with a celebration.

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Happy 39th you guys.

Something to celebrate, to start things off. And, now, on to the thankfuls.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for my parents and their example of a solid and rooted life together.

I like to think of them (1979 them) and the parents they were to us (growing up) and now the grandparents they are (so adored).

I’m thankful for the lost and the found.

I thought I’d lost something that is important to me. Thanks, to my mom, for finding it.

I’m thankful my team’s paper on the importance of braille is finally out.

Improving Braille Availability in Canadian Public Libraries

I’m thankful Canada has this woman representing and working for us.

Chrystia Freeland wants to Fix the Twenty-First Century – The Walrus

I just love that her name is “Freehand” and she is fighting hard, with the US, over the whole NAFTA thing.

Some of us take a free land, our freedom and land, for granted. It’s existence isn’t necessarily guaranteed to last.

Not everyone agrees on NAFTA or tariffs, but I don’t know where this is heading. All I know is that it’s nice to see a strong female leader, here in my country.

I’m thankful I got to play Legos with my nephew.

I always loved those little blocks. I could be an architect and build a structure, a house, with a backyard and fence. It was one way I could create, with my hands, and make something I could touch and feel.

Great creative outlet.

I’m thankful my niece painted my nails, light blue and a sparkle on top.

She is quite the little artist. I love that about her. She chose my colour with careful thought. She is a pro.

I’m thankful I get to listen and have a conversation with them both.

We talk about eating spiders and other things. It’s the best conversation I’ve had in a long time. It’s nice to talk with little people who know nothing about adult issues and don’t care. They don’t follow the news, like I likely didn’t when I was there age, but my niece is entering the third grade this fall. I can remember back when I was that age.

I loved that my nephew showed me his fish and my niece loves to play with my dog because it just doesn’t make sense for them to get one, with their busy lives.

I’m thankful when my niece takes my hand and leads me somewhere.

I’m thankful for side hugs.

I’m thankful for music. And, especially this week, this music.

It speaks to things we’re all going through.

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