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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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TToT: A Pile of Sleeping Sharks – Idiots and Animals, #10Thankful

“Isolation offered its own form of companionship: the reliable silence of her rooms, the steadfast tranquility of the evenings. The promise that she would find things where she put them, that there would be no interruption, no surprise. It greeted her at the end of each day and lay still with her at night.”

—From “The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Recently, I’ve only wanted to stay home with my cat. Maybe I really am becoming a cat lady.

I’m so sick of the idiots (and worse) in this world. There is so much immaturity and lack of care or concern for other people. Animals are where it’s at.

All I wanted was an enjoyable visit with family, but I was the one who didn’t choose to leave my phone at home that day, the day of rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful that my brother’s band got back together, to practice for a gig, by playing in my basement once more.

It was all the songs I love, those I became so familiar with after months of hearing them in my basement.

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Secrets Revealed

This is a photo of their set list from the show the other night. My brother wrote it out in braille. They thought their fans might like to see. My brother didn’t really need it. He had the list memorized already.

I’m thankful to join in with a friend in a worthy cause.

He wants to start a branch of the National Federation of the Blind/Canadian Federation of the Blind in Ontario. The one currently going is out west only.

The biggest organization for the blind in Canada is still the CNIB (Canadian National Institute of the Blind) and yet it isn’t enough. It isn’t fulfilling all the needs, according to us, the ones who are in need of the service.

This sounds like a lot of work, but my friend sounds up for the job and I want to do what I can.

I feel so helpless with so much going on. I need to be able to do something good.

I’m thankful for peaches and ice cream for my nephew’s birthday.

I may have had both a small sundae and then a small cone.

Fresh peaches are the best part of August. When you mix that with my favourite vanilla soft serve, I am in paradise.

For the birthday, we did things backwards: ice cream first and then dinner. Dinner was pizza anyway.

My nephew is still grasping the concept of what a birthday is. He isn’t overly interested in why people sing and light candles, depending on the day. You say Happy Birthday to him and he says it back to you, like it’s a greeting. He makes me smile with his total innocence. I need more of that to fight the overwhelming stress and gloom that often threatens to bring me down.

I’m thankful for a mild night out on a patio, listening to some relaxing music, until the rain came.

A friend of ours was playing at a local restaurant. We got through ordering drinks and appetizers before the rain started up.

Until that point, I was enjoying the guitars, both with his singing and as instrumentals.

I’m thankful for all the amazing art my niece made at art camp.

She is artistic, like her father. She is the little girl who loves to create things. She reminds me of myself at that age.

She is a natural at making things.

They made letters for their first names out of crystals and jewels. She showed me an ocean in a jar, made with water and oil and food colouring. She made a polar bear mask. She tie dyed a pillow and made another pillow, so soft and with many knots around the edges instead of sewing.

At this camp there was something called the splatter paint room. Nothing but bright colours, paint splattered all over the floor and walls. You can go wild, make as much of a splatter mess of colour as you want, and it’s all okay.

I thought, since I am so bad at interior decorating for my own house, even though I can no longer see colours: why not make myself a splatter paint house?

Her love and pride for the things she made, as she was showing us, made me miss colour, art, and made me so happy for her and so proud to be her aunt.

I am thankful for the bottle of water my newly four-year-old nephew gave me when I said I was looking for something to drink.

He just opened the fridge and got it for me.

He is the master of his fridge and his home at this age and it is so sweet to witness.

I am thankful for what a thoughtful little sweetheart he is.

He told us, the moment we arrived, that he wanted to get his mother some flowers. He had previously told his dad that he was “thinking” about getting her some flowers.

He’s been thinking about this. It constantly amazes me, the kind of kids they are, and the sorts of things they think about, before deciding to share with the grownups in their lives.

I am thankful for the Max Mix.

My brother is a music fan and he has a lot of it himself. When he noticed my nephew had a love of music, he made him a mix of all the songs my nephew seemed to love.

He remembers lyrics and loves to sing in the car. He is so cool, cooler than me anyway.

I am thankful for a beautiful day to sit outside for a five-year-old’s birthday party.

People gathered, kids running and playing, while I sat and had a cool drink.

They have a big yard, the yard we had as children, and so much room to run and play games.

It wasn’t too hot. It wasn’t humid. The air was perfectly summery and pleasant.

I’m thankful for his amazing little mind and imagination.

My nephews are both so smart. He knew people were coming and he worked on a show to perform for us, all week long. He prepared a screen with a border, like a TV, but when we were all outside, he set it up like a play or puppet show, using chairs as the stage.

It was a form of fan fiction with his favourites: Littlefoot (from Land Before Time), a T Rex, and Curious George.

It turned out to be this whole epic adventure story and it all came from him.

Desired Consolation – Bjork

Basically, it was the kids that kept me sane this week. Then I think of Bjork’s question in the song: How am I going to make things right?

I wonder if I can. What that will look like, I do not know, but I have to try something.

The woman who was mowed down was nearly my age. What made her come out, to such a place, on that day?

“If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention.”

—Heather Heyer

RIP Heather

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