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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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TToT: Man Who Ate The World and Other Losses – Dive In and Go Deep, #10Thankful

Well, that didn’t go well – not well at all. A big bust you could say.

Trade war looms as Trump and adviser lob insults and accusations at Trudeau – The Globe and Mail

Britain. France. Germany. Italy. Japan. All their support is welcome, but all good intentions aside, none of them must share a border with a foolish reality TV personality, one whose spokespeople said openly Canada and Justin Trudeau were mocked to look tough for the most serious meeting any president could ever be having.

If I ever wanted #45 to succeed in something, it was now, when the world could possibly end up exploding into nuclear war. The rest of it, if we in Canada had to swallow his insults for that purpose alone, I’d say we could gladly take that on. I fear we haven’t heard the last of it though.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for marking June 5th, transplant anniversary, with a dinner with my dad to celebrate 21 years.

I have my father and I have a working kidney. Makes me the luckiest woman around, I’d say.

All one needs – one of each. Top notch.

I’m thankful for an inspired writing prompt to make us all write better at my writing group.

“Love was a hallowing man with a home and only I knew that.”

And the stories just sort of spun loose from there, from all of us, getting us to write in styles we weren’t often known for amongst that room of our creative peers.

I’m thankful for a delicious vanilla latte and catch up with a friend.

I’m thankful for biscotti.

I’m thankful for the right and access to vote.

The accessibility issue is a different story, but not nearly so bad as it could be. These are the times I wonder if I have the right to complain, to think I should try for betterment.

It was a braille sleeve that the voting card slides into and braille and raised numbers for each party’s offering for my riding, not that I claim to understand all the lingo. So, I was with someone I trusted, to help make sure the card was lined up properly and to let me know the order the names were going with the numbers. I learned later alphabetical. Should have known.

So, I counted down, to the correct number, and made my X in the small cut-out circle provided.

Now, all the strong wording was that Ontario’s possible next provincial leader, if chosen PC/Conservative Party, would basically be giving Ontario its very own copy of the guy put into the Whitehouse. Enough to scare anyone.

Was that all they were trying to do? (Whom I’m not really sure.)

And thus I was lucky to live in Ontario, Canada, where I could vote, where my blindness didn’t prevent me from voting, my right in a democratic society. And some of you will not have known much about this, but the PC was voted in, and he is the brother of deceased Toronto mayer, known around the world a few years back, Rob Ford, who even made it onto the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

What have we gotten ourselves into, I wonder? Is he a #45 wannabe?

He sure feels like it, but as we don’t do anything really to anywhere near as dramatic of a degree as our neighbours to the south, I don’t know if he’s going to be as bad as all that. (See my opening for this week’s post.)

As switching from one party to another often goes, in politics, the Liberal Party had a lot of years to run Ontario and now it’s someone else’s turn. I just hope all the scare tactics were playing on mine and other people’s greatest fears, though sometimes my dramatic side feels totally justified.

I’m thankful for the ocean, on World Oceans Day and every day.

The morning after Thursday’s election, I was feeling low about everything, when it seemed the party to beat had started to seem like the NDP, but no big surprise, as my negative side kept whispering in my head. All I wished for was to be by the ocean.

I’m thankful for Dr. Sylvia A. Earle and her mission.

Mission Blue

I’m thankful for my sister helping me shop for what looks/feels good on me, even without being able to see any of it from my end.

It is the strangest thing, to go by fabric and texture and shape, rather than how a colour looks or how it looks on the body. Again, I’ve learned that yellow isn’t my colour. Shame really.

I’m thankful for documentaries about puffins, grey seals, and the coast of Ireland.

The Parts Unknown host visiting the closest thing to Ireland, this side of the Atlantic.

And travel storytellers like the one that was lost for good.

Anthony Bourdain and the Missing Piece – Longreads

RIP to Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

Anthony Bourdain became one of #MeToo’s strongest allies – The Lily

Earle said to “dive in and go deep” and that’s the way Bourdain seemed to live his life, right up until the end.

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.”

—Anthony Bourdain

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TToT: Back Home In Ontario Edition, #CFB #Organize #Empowerment #10Thankful

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”

—Jonathan Swift

I have been away for a few weeks, most recently in British Columbia and before that, I guess I couldn’t seem to organize my thankfuls, but a visit to the ocean is good for a little perspective.

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Caption: Sitting with my group, by the lighthouse, at the end of the breakwater in Victoria.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities

Speaking of, “Organize” was the theme of the 2018 convention for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, in Victoria, BC.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for capable airline pilots.

I’ve probably flown ten times or so in my life. Every one of those times, I hold my breath as the plane speeds down the runway, takes off, and lands again later on. I get nervous, clench my hands into fists, and then try to just go with it.

Through all that, through every bump and jostle of turbulence, I am grateful to feel that there must be a super capable person in charge of flying that aircraft.

This time, flying across Canada and back, was no different.

I’m thankful for a mostly accessible place to stay.

The hotel was a lovely one, with braille in the elevators, marking each floor as you stepped out, all except braille or other tactile numbers on the room doors.

The guy at the desk when we checked in even thought, without us having to suggest it, to stick a piece of tape on each ID key card.

By the end of five nights staying there, I started to feel at home. It was wonderful. I walked around the lobby and the floors with relative ease, even with the drunk group on my floor the one night.

“Blind woman coming,” one of them announced, the loudest of them all. “Stay to the right.” This I already knew.

I couldn’t resist turning back to him, as I walked right to my room door and went to pull my card out, to inform him that my name was Kerry and to: “have a good night.”

I’m thankful for a writer with a car.

A friend of some heard I wanted to visit a few specific places during my Victoria stay and generously offered to drive.

We took cabs otherwise. I did a lot of walking as it was. I appreciated the ride.

On the first leg of that driving, we got to know each other and I discovered she is a writer too. After that, we had plenty to talk about.

I’m thankful for the breakwater.

Up until recently, this long walkway sticking out into the sea, with the lighthouse at its end, had no railings. It wasn’t quite so safe when you couldn’t see.

Now it had railings and I could walk out into the water. I was in heaven out there, as windy as the day was. I never wanted to come back in.

I’m thankful for a welcoming tour of an historic bookstore.

MUNRO’S Books

My new writer friend knew the manager and we were greeted warmly and given some in depth backstory about the building and the owner, who once was married to Alice Munro and is famous for that union.

I’m thankful for a comfortable and also stimulating day of discussion, listening, and new friendship.

http://www.cfb.ca/programs-and-activities/conventions

It was the largest group for its convention. We from Ontario were celebrated and welcomed guests in attendance for the first time.

There were talks and discussions throughout the day on Saturday, making it a long one, but oh so worth it.

Being in a room where almost everyone is without sight, there was help and understanding assistance from everyone, from where to find an available seat or to feeling free to speak one’s mind. We didn’t always agree on every issue (universal design, accessibility, guide dog issues, career search, disability awareness), but we all were there to listen to each other.

We even had a few special visiting guest speakers: one was an expert on advocacy from University of Victoria and the other on social media trends.

I’m thankful for compassionate and passionate sighted allies and their ideas.

As nice as it is to join together as those living as blind Canadians, as essential and important, it’s good to be able to share with understanding people with sight too.

The writer/driver and her partner were there, along with a university student film maker, to capture the day’s events and they decided to interview some of us, for development of a possible short documentary called Listening To Blind Canadians.

In her car, she told us how she knew one of the women from the CFB and their parents had found companionship with each other in their later years. She didn’t seem to be fascinated by blindness in any artificial kind of way, like we were some sideshow to her. Just that she wanted to be there, as a friend and ally, to bridge the gap and promote a wider understanding through shared humanity.

I’m thankful for helpful people during travel.

From the BC Ferry Service employees, who helped us on and off and to comfortable seats to many public transit (Sky Train) workers who helped us find the next train, the right one.

We decided to do a ferry ride to the mainland and back, in one day. We went to check out Vancouver and meet up with my brother’s friend for lunch.

We did mostly traveling though, met another blind person on the bus and traveled part of our way with him, and yet I even got to walk into the water of the Pacific.

Even one of the fellow CFB members, also attending the convention, was a big help. He was around and free to go along with us, knew the city of Vancouver pretty well and had lots of practice riding those trains.

I’m thankful for delicious salads on my travels.

It was greens, seeds, cucumber, a sort of sweet vinaigrette, and the freshest little cherry tomatoes.

Mmm.

Last time I found a delicious salad like that, I was in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I’m thankful for those who came before.

We were able to travel on buses and trains independently, knowing our stop was coming up, all because of an automated announcement of streets. I take this sort of thing for granted, but it wasn’t always the case. There were people who demanded that service and had to fight for it.

I met the CFB treasurer, who was born in the UK, who wrote a book
The Politics of Blindness
and then I finally managed to read that book.

Here’s to the beauty of Canada’s west coast and to organization, to truly make a change.

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