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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: Just Passing Through – Relative Pitch, #FirstDayOfSpring #10Thankful

Spring has sprung!

What’s up everyone?

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for a spot on my local television channel.

What’s Up Oxford – Rogers TV

I’m still nervous to be on camera, saying “um” a lot, but I was happy overall.

I’m thankful my local newspaper gave my story a chance.

Woodstock resident hopes to help blind people enjoy the movies with better descriptive audio – Woodstock Sentinel Review

I made the front page. The Ontario premier was on the second page.

It’s frustrating that my own local theatre didn’t even respond to interview requests, either because they were busy or avoiding the whole thing, but I don’t intend to let them stay silent on this issue for much longer.

I’m thankful for a few recent opportunities from my irregular appearances on Twitter.

I hesitate to get into these really, yet, and what they actually are or might become, but I am feeling pretty good about it. At least, with this whole recent set of realities about the risks of Facebook, at least Twitter is a totally risk free platform, right?

Yeah, right. Sure. Still, I know the risks and they must be weighed rationally.

I’m thankful for modern medicine here in Canada.

I take all the modern hospital facilities and equipment for granted, as I’ve always had it available to me. Here in a country such as Canada we have so much. In 2018 I have no reason to believe my loved one won’t be safe and taken care of.

I’m thankful for universal healthcare…not free like some people like to say/think it is.

Like the great and powerful gun debate, the one over what universal healthcare system Canada has vs what the US has and how both countries compare to many others, this rages on and on and on.

Nothing’s perfect. Certainly Canada is not. Yet, I am glad I was born here and have no tough insurance choices to make, no mega medical bills or debts hanging over my head and neither do my loved ones.

I’m thankful my brother is doing better, that it wasn’t something more serious.

He had stomach pains, but it wasn’t on the side where his five-year-old transplanted kidney sits. That brought me relief when I heard, even though I wanted someone to find out why he was having pain otherwise.

They thought it was his appendix, but no sign that that is the case. Frustrating, the mystery of the whole thing. For now, he’s doing better, and I hope it will stay that way.

I’m thankful for a gathering of strong voices.

I do worry for all the pressure put on those who are still young, fighting and speaking for safety and an end to gun violence, but they are strong in spite of it all. I hope they can survive it, but I am glad the adults aren’t silencing the younger generation.

I’m thankful for an Easter egg hunt, with the kids, in the yard.

The sun was out, but it was still a bitterly cold wind blowing as they searched. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to bother them much.

I’m thankful for spring.

Even though I don’t agree with most about how horrid winter can be, I do admit when it’s a lovely feeling to sense the start of a new season in the air.

I love the birds and even the rain.

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Speaking of Easter and spring…this one plastic egg got discovered by a wild creature, instead of a child; child proof and critter proof too.

I’m thankful for nature. (More to come on that as April draws nearer.)

What animal, would you guess, tried to make its way in for what treats were hiding inside?

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TToT: Black Holes and Doughnut Holes – Heather and Bogs, #10Thankful

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically,” said Stephen Hawking, renowned physicist and director of research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge, in a May 2011 interview with The New York Times.

I’m trying Stephen, I’m trying.

Stephen Hawking’s Canadian connection.

His knowledge of cosmology was mind-blowing to me, to me as a young girl who loved space and the planets, and now I listen to his words (still left behind) about his curiosity at what’s out there, up there, somewhere.

Stephen Hawking was, it seems to me, about three things: family, curiosity, and humour.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful my passion project has been released.

http://www.cfb.ca

My movie survey is right there on the home page.

I’m thankful my father and my uncle had a successful and necessary road trip together this week.

They had to travel, go for a few days, to deal with a few things from my uncle’s passing away last week.

I’m just glad they could do it together, as brothers.

I’m thankful I heard back from a few local media outlets about spreading my message for better audio description.

My local
radio station (104.7 HeartFM)
put my story on the Friday morning news report and on their website.

I’m thankful for another yoga session and I felt no lingering issues.

I felt badly about myself, a little as I was doing the stretches, but tried to give myself a break.

I really do wish I were more flexible, in ways that matter like strength and balance, but I do pay close attention to the sound of her voice as I try to follow along and not think too much.

If you know me much at all, you know that’s not so easy for me, but that’s the one hour out of my week I really try my best.

I’m thankful my part (introduction) is almost entirely complete on a paper about the value of braille.

I was thankful to have the help from a research and referencing expert, a library student, to give my writing credibility. I would never want to appear as if I were trying to take credit for words, thoughts, or ideas that weren’t my own.

I am not sure what is left to do, where this paper will end up, but I am proud I am part of it.

I’m thankful for Ireland.

I don’t use St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to get shit faced, but I do understand the celebration of a country such as Ireland because it is an important place to me.

I’m thankful for Canada.

When all hell’s breaking loose with the current US Wh, and when governments like China and Russia seem so corrupt because their leaders seem to go unchallenged, I am grateful for the relative calm here.

I know some would argue about the actual fairness of things, even here, but I know it could be worse. Even when I find Ontario to be heading in the wrong direction, I can feel good that people can choose.

I am thankful I can speak about such things, here on my blog, without fear of being silenced.

Nobody’s attempting to assassinate me by poisoning with a powerful nerve agent. Phew.

I’m thankful for Stephen Hawking’s words (see above, to the quote at the top of this post).

I am thankful, also, for his ability to see the lighter side of life.

RIP Mr. Hawking.

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Silence Is Acceptance, #MeToo #HolocaustMemorialDay #JusJoJan

There are many things I would like to speak about, on an ongoing basis. Listening to stories of survivors of the Holocaust, their strength and bravery in speaking on such horrid things, makes me feel like not enough is said as of yet, from all of us and that we all must say something.

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There are a lot of things going on, past and present, that I’d like to
address
and then something stops me from saying anything at all. Fear, but of what?

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I am stuck on the Holocaust and I have been for a long long time. I take breaks from thinking about it, to preserve my sanity, but ultimately this historical event creeps back into my thoughts. I am lucky I can take those breaks. I didn’t experience it, though I know many who did have gone on to live perfectly wonderful lives. It feels haunting, even if I often wonder how I’d have moved on if it had happened to me.

I want to speak on things, to write about them, to make sure people don’t forget. Mistakes are repeated. Humans are doomed to repeat what once was. We can’t seem to help ourselves.

If I speak up on such things, I am told I worry too much, as if I am supposed to forget that if I had lived during the time of World War II I would be considered a waste, as one of the disabled.

Yes, if I’d lived in Europe during that time, if I lived anywhere back then, and even if I lived here, years ago, kidney disease would have killed me.

Morbid, perhaps. Speaking up, or addressing the things that haunt my mind, this unsticks those cobwebs from the furthest corners of my brain.

I am lucky to have an address and a roof over my head, even if my heat does keep crapping out on me. I am lucky to be living in 2018 and celebrating that I was born after the inventions of dialysis and organ transplantation.

I saw Nazis marching in North America, I hear that Poland just made it illegal to mention Poland’s involvement during the Holocaust, and I wonder what to say, what I can say about these furious subjects.

I see people are saying things aren’t so bad, and they aren’t really, but they are for some people and they could be, any day, for more of us. We need to stay vigilant and on guard to halt dangers from reoccurring.

Sexual misconduct and resignations as a result are happening in Canada, in Ontario politics now too. Forget presidents and porn stars. This is not so hard to get, is it?

The men who complain this is going too far, that they can’t even talk to women now, make me want to bang my own head against the wall repeatedly.

Pop culture. Politics. Personal space. Is it really so hard for men to not act inappropriately with women and young girls? Really? Reeeeeeally?

It is maddening. I want to keep addressing all these things, to make people get along, and to practice tolerance and compassion. What is it going to take?

TELL ME!!!

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TToT: Lightbulbs and Lightning Strikes, #LookBackMarchForward #10Thankful

January isn’t making anything easy on me, but it too shall pass.

Somehow, I’ve had Billie Holiday on my mind as this month stretches on, painfully on and on.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for the never ending list of ideas that come to me, as potential topics to write about.

Writer’s block, no way, at least not in the usual way of things.

When I am given the job of writing something, I may get a block, but that’s more from my fear of not being able to do the job I was asked to do, not being good enough.

I’m thankful for a return to my writing group in 2018.

It was a difficult day/week/month, but those people are there for me.

I wrote about a young woman, musician, who was hearing the news that Kurt Cobain had died, and wondering how to navigate the perils of fame.

It is a question on my mind. The group listened to my clumsy story and seemed curious, as curious as I am about what I’ve been thinking since I heard Dolores O’Riordan was gone.

I did smile and even laugh, with my group of local writer friends. Worth it.

I’m thankful for a list of tough questions to answer, to better know myself.

I am a writer, but I have a lot to learn. Sometimes, it requires that I look deep into myself, to find the truth. Otherwise, my writing will not keep on the forward momentum I hope to have.

It’s hard work, difficult and painful and sensitive stuff, but I am determined to see things more clearly on the other side.

I’m thankful for a first successful meeting of
The Canadian Federation of the Blind,
Ontario, in 2018.

I’m thankful for a contract opportunity to write about something so important to me.

Braille is not a well understood thing, for many, even as technology takes on bigger parts of all our lives.

My early literacy is thanks to my parents and to the school I was in and braille is a large part of all that.

So, to share about the value of braille is so important to me. I just hope I can do it justice and give to it as much as it has given me.

I’m thankful Canada’s government didn’t shut down.

Disfunction at the highest level.

I know very little about trade agreements, but Canada is doing the work and staying involved with other countries, while moving away from what the US seems to be heading for.

They are being run by someone who only pitches America, America First, or whatever, all things made in America. Whatever, to bring more jobs. I guess that is left to themselves, in their own country. Isolation.

If his government can’t even work together, to stay open a year after his inauguration, how well will they do, on their own, if that is what they prefer?

I’m thankful I could be in on a meeting to discuss traveling out west, for a convention in British Columbia.

The Canadian Federation of the Blind have a convention, every May, where issues important to blind Canadians are discussed.

This year, Ontario is coming to western Canada and we are going to make our mark.

I was only in B.C. in the airport, changing flights to the Yukon. I intend to go back, to speak about the project to make audio description in movie theatres a common thing, and I will see the Pacific Ocean while I’m at it.

I’m thankful that the marching continued, one year later, with all the more reason to do so.

I wondered, did worry, that it was a one year hit action/movement and those who like to criticize would be able to point at the one time visual as a sign that making our voices heard isn’t needed or productive.

I did not see all the signs, but had a few read to me. Some smart sign writers in those marches.

This is a current US president thing, true, but it is bigger than that guy. It is a stand against what has been.

It leaves a bunch of us out, those who find marching in the streets difficult, but it is heartening to me anyway.

I want things to only get better, going forward, in the years to come. I have a vested interest in that, in compassion and in empathy, for not only one gender or class or whatever.

I understand the fatigue that can set in, but we all must keep doing something, however small. I am still working out what that something is for me.

I’m thankful for a chance to listen to a local orchestra, playing my kind of a symphony and to see a movie live, that I missed the first time around.

I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the film, on a big screen at a sport stadium.

Then, I saw the soundtrack being played by live orchestra. It was a strange experience of my senses.

I heard parts of the soundtrack, differently than I’d ever heard them, when blended into the background of the movie on DVD at home.

Int was strange, seeing with a crowd of other major Harry Potter fans, with all the cheers and the comments made by nearby fans.

The bells and the percussion section and the other main instruments that make up that famously known and heard Harry Potter musical sound.

I’m thankful for things that happen (or don’t happen) for a reason.

Maybe I don’t get what I want, in one moment, but that leads me to something else. Maybe I am getting what I can handle, what I need to teach me what I need to know.

Who knows.

I resisted the “door/window” line of optimism.

I am ending, this week, with another comforting song from The Cranberries, the Irish band that was and is no more.

My brother generously added it to his playlist on the radio show he hosts, every Friday morning, on a college radio station in London, Ontario.

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The Licking of the Flames, #SongLyricSunday

Storms and slides. Mud, water, fire, wind, snow. Oh, the entire world, burning uncontrollably.

The natural world is a powerful force and it cares little for what we mere mortals think or want.

Song Lyric Sunday, #SongLyricSunday

In Ontario (the province where I live) and out east in Nova Scotia there have been two awful house fires in the news the last few weeks, killing multiple adults and children.

Sometimes it is human error and sometimes there is no-one to blame, though blame is rather off point.

We humans like to spread it all around, but where does it get us?

I hear all of these disasters, going on all around, and I remain untouched where I reside, but my mind races and can’t keep pace with world events.

Then there are those fires that some start, metaphorically, to distract and divide and destroy.

***

Hearts are worn in these dark ages
You’re not alone in this story’s pages
The light has fallen amongst the living and the dying
And I’ll try to hold it in, yeah I’ll try to hold it in
[
Chorus] The world’s on fire
and It’s more than I can handle
I’ll tap into the water (Try and bring my share)
I try to bring more More than I can handle (Bring it to the table) Bring what I am able

I watch the heavens but I find no calling
Something I can do to change what’s coming
Stay close to me while the sky is falling
Don’t wanna be left alone, don’t wanna be alone
[
Chorus]

Hearts break, hearts mend Love still hurts
Visions clash, planes crash Still there’s talk of
Saving souls, still the cold Is closing in on us
We part the veil on our killer sun
Stray from the straight line on this short run
The more we take, the less we become
The fortune of one that means less for some
[
Chorus X2]

LYRICS

***

It feels as though the whole world is on fire, more and more these days, alarm bells going off on all sides, in all directions.

I stand, somehow avoiding the licking of the flames directly – for now anyway.

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To Boycott Or Not To Boycott? #FireandFury #SoCS #JusJoJan

Does boycotting a place work?

VfTciwU.jpg

No, seriously…I wanna know.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday/Just Jot It January

Tim Hortons is the place to get your coffee in Canada and I believe the US even has them, possibly along the border of our two countries. I seem to recall, when watching some US television networks through cable, that there was a commercial for the company, but its called Tim Hortons, Coffee and Bake Shop or some such thing.

So, the minimum wage hike that went into effect here at the start of 2018 has everyone in the province of Ontario talking, and now the story spreading across Canada because it isn’t only concerning Ontario, not at all.

Minimum wage, up to $14 or something, and still to rise to $15 in the future. Good for those working certain jobs, but apparently bad for those companies (Tim Hortons) who have to pay more.

The real trouble started when Tim Hortons started cutting back on other benefits their employees did have, supposedly to make up for this change.

There are two sides: the side of those supporting those workers and those workers themselves I guess and the companies and those who have always said rising minimum wage will break us as a province and as a country.

I know very little about the economy and never have. I try to read and listen to the news, but it’s hard enough keeping up with all going on in the world. I don’t have a mind for the study of our economy, (economics). I know it’s good and important knowledge to have, I know that, but I can barely figure out my own affairs, budgeting and bills and the money I’ve started to make, still so new to it all.

Trying to figure out how the province and Canada as a country runs is beyond my capabilities.

NM2Bjaw.jpg

So, though Canadians have seemed obsessed with Tim Hortons coffee for longer than I can remember, some are calling for that to change.

It’s not about a greedy corporation at all, some say, because this wage hike issue is put on each individual franchise.

I don’t run one of those either. I don’t know and hardly feel like I should speak.

I got my coffee from McDonald’s today, but that isn’t anything all that new. I simply prefer it and I don’t like being told I have to follow the crowd and be like all other Canadians who can’t go without my Tim Hortons fix.

I tend to look at the subject of corporate greed as a thing that happens. I see minimum wage as affecting real human beings, people who need understanding, but so do all humans I guess, even those who run the giant corporations and companies.

As a writer and creative, one who wouldn’t be all that good at matters of crunching numbers and running a business, I see things from the human perspective. Not to say all creative people are that way. I only know what side I end up falling on, though I try to see any issue from more than just one side whenever and wherever possible.

I don’t know if boycotting the company in question is the answer here, or ever, but that’s what Canada is talking about this week. Well, like other countries nearby, it’s that and Fire and Fury too. Rumour has it that even demand for the book is growing here in Canada. I can’t say I’ll read it, but I think the whole thing is wildly bizarre, and yet unsurprising to say the least.

Fire and fury is a good way to sum up how hyped everyone seems to be. I do feel all the greed that does exist, more than ever from those who make the most money, but I can’t claim I know what I’m talking about on what Canada’s economy has done in the past or will do in the future.

I bet the woman who runs
these prompts
likely has some thoughts on all this.

Linda is to thank for me not feeling totally lost at the start of a new year, as a writer, and she, as a fellow Canadian, might know more about Canada’s economics than I do.

Either way, I thank her for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, all the weeks of the year, and for Just Jot It January, for the first month of each brand new one.

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