It is yet again time to get packing for the annual National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. We look forward to this trip every year. While I’ve already laid the ground work of the NFB Convention, I love it so much, I just had to write about it again. One seminar I will be attending is about the Braille code. Unfortunately, some changes are being made. Not only do I not understand the reasoning behind these changes, but I need to find out what all of them are. Since I teach Braille, it’s important for me to stay informed of changes so I can properly teach my students. Even if I dislike the change, the damage in this case is already done. So I will be in a three hour workshop next Tuesday. Dishon and I are really hoping that we get another nice room this year. Last year, we stayed in a gigantic suite. All we did was ask for a room with one bed, so we’re doing that again this year. The beauty of convention is that while we know what to expect, there’s always something different each time we go. Whether we meet new people, attend a different meeting or are made aware of something else the NFB is fighting for, we are never bored with monotony. We take off Monday morning at 6:45 a.m. The pro to this is the ability to get settled earlier in the day. I plan to spend some time at the pool this year. Italians can tan very well.
Last Saturday, a group of forty-five went to a casino known as the Lady Luck Casino in Black Hawk. A majority of the group was blind. One might wonder how blind people would gamble successfully. Let’s start with the slots. Since Dishon and I have some vision, we were able to enjoy the slots. The ones we played were quarter slots. The numbers showing your current credits and the number of credits you won were bright red on black. When one has vision like mine, contrast helps. While I couldn’t visually tell what I won, I could tell by the sounds the machine made that I had won something. Both Dishon and I left with a little more than we came with, but that’s all I will disclose as far as money is concerned. In the area of table games, dealers are pretty good about telling you what’s on the table. They cannot deceive you because they are constantly on camera. While gambling isn’t something one should do all the time, it’s fun now and then. I have a feeling that Dishon and I will go back with a few friends in the near future.
This vacation has been great. My day at the spa was wonderful. My leg wax did not come out the way I wanted it to, but aside from that, it was very relaxing. That night, Dishon and I went to one of our favorite restaurants called Ted’s Montana Grill. If you plan to visit Denver and are craving a bison steak, that’s the place to go. Once we finished dinner, we went home and exchanged our presents. Tuesday was my lazy day aside from trying Wal-Mart grocery delivery for the first time. While it was time-consuming, the men who delivered our groceries were very friendly and not a single item was forgotten. Wednesday, I went to lunch with a few friends and got a couple of errands done. Thursday, a friend of ours came into town and is staying with us for a couple of days. I made my famous chicken alfredo Thursday and Dishon is making homemade pizza tonight. Today, despite being on vacation, I stopped into the center for one of my student’s graduation meal. It was delicious. We will see what the rest of the week will consist of. Whatever the case, it’s a beautiful day and I have four days before returning to work. While this vacation was very much needed, it’s still strange being away from my job this long. I think it will feel good to be back next Tuesday.
Today, Dishon and I went on a bike ride. Before you gasp and your eyes dilate, let me explain some more. In order for the blind to ride a bike safely, the best option is tandem bike riding which is what we did today. An organization known as Eye Cycle does a number of rides every year. They vary in distance and the group usually stops for lunch at some point during the ride. Today, we rode for twenty-five miles total. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it all the way, but I finished what I started. It was perfect biking weather and the restaurant where we stopped had outdoor seating. Will I participate in every ride? Probable not. But now and then, it will be a fun thing for Dishon and I to do together. While the blind don’t have everything at their fingertips, the options for sports and exercise are expanding all of the time. Dishon participates in running at least once a week now. He ran a five mile run yesterday. How is this done safely? Each blind person is matched with a sighted guide and they hold a tether. Part of why I haven’t participated is the thought of putting that much trust in someone else. Sure the same somewhat applies to biking, but with biking you have the handle bars to hold onto. What’s important is that he is enjoying it. I can’t wait to go swimming soon.
Monday, May 19th is Dishon and my two year wedding anniversary. It seems like only yesterday we had gotten married and went on our honeymoon in Vail. Two years have gone by. We don’t always agree, but we communicate well and can put our feelings out on the table. Even if feelings get hurt, it’s not long before apologies are made when needed. We haven’t decided where we are going to celebrate, yet. Aside from that, I will be having a spa day to kick off my week of vacation time. While I love teaching Braille, I never take time off. Furthermore, I rarely call in sick. So this is well earned. I will post once we’ve celebrated and gifts are exchanged. No matter where we go, we will have a nice evening of quality time filled with love. Of course , people are always telling me that we have to make it past seven years and then we’re golden. I see no reason why we wouldn’t. We both said for better or worse and we meant it.
Yesterday, the Colorado Center for the Blind walked a beautiful bike path to the Hudson Gardens. It was a gorgeous day. The agenda was to tour the gardens, have lunch and then participate in a basic self-defense class. One may wonder how we managed to stay together on a bike path. Well, I would be lying if I said we never get separated. But often, what we’ll do is if someone gets ahead, they will wait at a turning point and verbally direct people to turn left or right. we also are informed if we should be walking on sidewalk, gravel, dirt, etc. The bike path we walked yesterday changed frequently as far as what it consisted of. If you ever walk a bike path with a friend, put a blindfold on and pay attention the your other senses. Feel the path change from sidewalk to gravel beneath your feet. Smell the air and feel the sun on your skin. Listen to the group of birds chirping in the trees. Beautiful things like nature and the outdoors truly demonstrate that blindness is not a tragedy. It’s just a characteristic. You can still enjoy life without sight. You can still smell the flowers and feel a nice breeze on a spring day. You can still go to the beach and smell the salty air combined with the food on the board walk. You can still enjoy the sensation of sand between your toes. If blindness was really a tragedy, I wouldn’t be able to say what I’ve said with confidence.
Today has been a nice day. I went shopping with one of my close friends at a local shopping mall. A lot of people wonder how blind people navigate malls. There are several approaches one can take. It also depends on whether or not you have specific stores in mind. If you have a specific store in mind, one approach would be to walk into a store and ask which store it is. If it’s the store you were looking for, great. If not, ask for directions to the store where you want to shop. Sometimes, different stores have different scents. I can almost always point out Bath and Body Works as well as certain candle shops. Once you’re in the store you were looking for, ask for a shopper’s assistant. Some stores are better with that than others. Today, my friend and I went into a dress store and no one there was very helpful. The lady behind the counter wouldn’t come around because of my friend’s dog. If you need to go up or downstairs, escalators are easy to hear. Whichever way you need to go, it will always be the one on your right if they’re right next to each other. If not, you can place your hand on the side and feel which way it’s going. The biggest pain in the neck when it comes to malls is navigating the parking lot. They’re huge and it’s hard to know if you’re following the right row of cars. It’s not impossible, it’s just always ben a component of travel that messes me up. Regardless, we had a great time and neither of us left empty handed. It’s never fun shopping for several hours and finding nothing.
One thing Dishon and I have been doing together lately is watching a show entitled “Growing Up Fisher.” It’s a family show narrated from the perspective of a man telling his family’s story starting from age 11. The parents are divorced and he has an older sister. So what’s the difference between this family show and others on television? The boy’s father is blind. The blind community often gets upset when television tries to interpret blindness and add it to a character. Silly? In some cases. In my view, blind jokes are ok if they don’t give the audience the impression that the blind are dirty or incompetent. So far, this show doesn’t do that at all. The father’s character is a lawyer. He has his own place, helps take care of the kids and is funny. Blind comments or jokes that are made are comments that are often said by blind people who are comfortable being blind. More importantly, if you can’t laugh at yourself once in awhile, you will more than likely be unhappy in the long run. I highly recommend that you check out this show if you haven’t already. If you have NBC and/or On Demand of some sort, you should be able to find it. Let me know what you think of it. I’m off to watch the latest episode.
As regular followers know, I want a baby very badly. I’ve wanted kids since I was a kid. Regular followers also know that the hold up is money. I either need to find a supplement from home or work just to pay for day care. Getting to the point, my husband is the President of the Colorado Association of Guide Dog Users (COAGDU). The other day, he and I worked with a group of friends to put packets together for an upcoming guide dog seminar. It got me thinking about getting a guide dog of my own. I’ve always considered the possibility, but I wasn’t sure why it came to mind then. At first, I thought it was simply because we were looking at so much material related to guide dogs. But then it hit me; I thought it might take my mind off of babies. Anyone who follows my blog and knows about guide dogs will know that that is the wrong reason to get one. Others have said, why not get another pet? Well, our landlord doesn’t allow pets. Yes, I have Randall, Dishon’s guide dog, but he will always be his dog primarily. So at this point, all I can do is give him love, keep job hunting, and know that things happen the way they’re supposed to.
As a Christian woman, I do believe in the power of prayer. I pray a lot for family, friends, victims of disasters, families in mourning, etc. But I also believe that prayer is not something you should force upon someone. A few weeks ago, I was returning from the Missouri NFB Convention. It was myself, four colleagues and one of our students. We drove to and from. This particular part of the trip home occurred in Kansas. We had stopped for lunch at a restaurant known as Freddy’s. They have amazing custard. Anyway, We were enjoying our food and a man came to our table. He remarked that he was a Christian, believed in miracles and wanted to pray for us. One of my colleagues responded by politely saying that we were perfectly happy being blind and did not need a miracle. The man’s response was that he did not believe that and he still wanted to pray for us. My colleague, still being polite, said that she would rather he not do that. He left the table very upset. It’s such a touchy subject. People will debate that he meant well. And for all we know, he knows another blind person who is not happy being blind. Not every blind person is happy being blind, just like not every married couple is happy being married. There are people who are unhappy even in their own race. But not everyone is the same. To me, if someone is looking for prayer, that’s a different story. Had this man chosen to pray for us in his own time, that’s between him and God. Was I as upset about what happened as some others? No. But the point I’m making with this post is that blindness doesn’t have to be a tragedy and lots of people still think that it is.