Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2015 07 20 One Down, Fifty Something To Go July 20, 2015

Well I did it. One down and fifty something to go.

A couple days ago I finished up with my first online class at KVCC, and I’m here to tell you that although Blackboard was a nightmare, I did it. Grin

Back last April and early May, I was having fits. I never thought I would be able to figure out the Blackboard program. It just seemed so cumbersome to learn, and as the weeks winded down towards the first day of class, things started falling into place. A lot of hard work and determination ended up making the difference. My wife giving me rides to campus for some pre course tutoring didn’t hurt either. She never gets enough credit for how she has helped me these past few years, and hopefully if I can pull my head out of my butt for a while, I can appropriately show her my appreciation.

Well, there I was this past May, heading into week one of the course which was Sociology 101. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I felt as prepared as I could. The work load wasn’t that bad, some reading, some writing, some more reading and writing, and voila! Course complete!

I only had a couple incidents of incorrect posts and disappearing assignments, but the work load wasn’t as overwhelming as I had first anticipated. There was a ton of writing, but me and writing seem to get along fairly well. I sit down, I start to type and before I know it, three or four pages are staring back at me. Piece of cake. Piece of crumb cake.

So here I am, taking a break for a week or two, and then it’s time to gear up and head towards two more online classes for this fall. I already have one of my text books ready to go on my Learning Ally ap, but I have to get some help for the second book, which is available on a different platform that I’ve never used before. One more thing to learn.

I’m going to be taking English 101 and, get this, The History of Rock and Roll. Yup. You heard it right. As much as I love music, this is one class that feels like it fell down from the musical part of the heavens. Makes me wonder if all of heaven is under the influence of music. I suppose it depends on the person, right?

I’d like to thank my tutor and mentor at the college. His name is Nick, and he really has made the difference with being able to learn and work through some difficult items, like the Blackboard.

Thanks Nick.

Oh ya, I’ve been asked to be part of a mentor program for first year students this fall. I was humbled beyond belief when I was asked, and with much honor, I accepted the position. I’m not sure how much mentoring I’ll be able to do, but if I can pass along a little piece of what has been given to me then I’ll be one extremely humbled and happy goat.

I hope your summers are going well. The muggy weather is here for a couple days, but overall it hasn’t been that bad.

Thanks for stopping by, and please take care, or else!

dp

 

2015 07 03 A Goat and His Computer July 3, 2015

A Goat and His Computer

Now then, let’s see. Did the Malware scan finish?
Yes, and detections have been successfully removed.

Is JAWS up to date?
Affirmative, and working amazingly well.

Is iTunes all set?
Yes. The latest update is installed, and synchronization has been acquired.

Are the Flash, Adobe Reader and Windows updates good to go?
I’m fairly certain they are adequate as well.

Well then, I guess that’s just about it, right?
I’m afraid the answer is no.

What do you mean, no?
Are you kidding me?

Do I look like I’m kidding?
You don’t look like anything. I’m a computer, and I can’t see.

What a coincidence! Me too! Really though, why did you say no?
Hello? Are you kidding? Did you just arrive from outer space or something?

No. Why?
Have you updated to JAWS 16 yet?

No, not yet, but I have the cd.
How about Windows 10?

No, that isn’t going to be available until the end of July.
You know you need JAWS 16 to be able to run Windows 10, right?

Yes, I’m fully aware of that.
What else are you aware of?

I’m aware that talking to a computer probably isn’t going to get me anywhere.
So why bother then?

Why bother? Why bother? I have to listen to your screen reader all the time, so why can’t I reply once in a while?
This isn’t Dragon Dictation you know.

Yes, ok, I know.
Don’t worry. I’m not gonna tell anyone, ok?

Ok. Thanks.
No problem. Now, go ahead and continue with your post.

Post? You think this is a post?
Well, it doesn’t look like a plank, a beam or a two by four.

Very funny. Were you a comedian in your past life?
My past life?

Yes, your past life.
In my past life, I was just a bunch of mixed up ones and zeroes.

Really?
Yup, ‘fraid so.

Man, talk about evolution.
Tell me about it.

You’re the computer. You tell me.
Hahahaha. That was so funny, I almost forgot to reboot.

I’m glad you have such a good sense of humor.
Thank you. I’m glad you learned how to touch type.

Ya, me too, but it was hard to learn.
I bet.

The wrist cramps, the sore fingers and elbows.
Poor thing.

You making fun of me?
Do you really think I’m going to say yes?

What’s the matter? You chicken?
No. I just don’t want you to shut me down.

Doesn’t matter. You’ll still be talking inside my head.
Really?

‘Fraid so.
Do you have one of those Bluetooth heads or something?

Now THAT was funny!
I wish I could smile, because I would be.

I’ll just imagine that you are.
Thanks. I appreciate that.

No problem.

What’s the matter now?

I gotta get going.
Do you have to do the dishes again?

Yup. Again.
Dish pan hands?

Ya. It’s pitiful.
Soft as a baby’s?

Watch it now!
Sorry. I got carried away.

Ya, I noticed.

I still have to get going.
Ok then. Take care.

I will. You too.
Affirmative.

 

2015 07 01 Almost Cut My Hair July 1, 2015

Almost Cut My Hair

It happened just the other day.

Actually, I did cut my hair, and it happened yesterday. Yes, it was getting kinda long, a few inches longer than is required to donate to an organization that takes donated hair and manufactures wigs for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from different medical diagnosis.

This is the first time I have attempted to grow my hair this long, and as my wife cut it yesterday afternoon, I decided that I would begin growing it out again. It’ll probably take a year and a half, or so, but with such a great cause, why wouldn’t I?

My wife has donated her hair several times over the past few decades, and I had always admired her for doing so. Her hair is incredibly thick and I would imagine they got a good head start on a finished product with each of her donations.

I was a little upset at the amount I was donating, for my hair has been falling out fairly quickly the past couple years. I’m not sure if it’s from the craniotomy I had done back in 2013 or not, but with this last double bout with a meningioma, the brain surgery and the radiation this past winter, I’m surprised I had any hair at all.

Anyway, I’m starting fresh, with a new hair cut, a new goal in mind, a fresh batch of apple sauce bubbling in the crock pot, and hopefully in 18 months, I’ll be chopping off my pony tail once again.

I woke up this morning and reached behind my head to do up my usual pony tail, but the hair was gone. I smiled as I reached in my mouth, took out my hair scrunchie, slid it in my pocket and tried to find my slippers at the end of the couch in the living room.

I am blessed beyond belief. Blessed that I have come through some health issues in fairly good shape, blessed for having an amazing woman stand by my side through the ups and downs, blessed to have an occasional piece of chocolate, blessed to still be able to attend college, blessed to have had the chance to meet some incredible people the past five years, blessed to have such an amazing family, immediate and extended, blessed to have my God to pray to every day, and I’ll stop right there for now. No use getting carried away, right?

I’ve written in here before how much I hate cancer, and there’s no doubt that I always will. The only good thing about cancer is that it sometimes points us towards an open heart, so that we may realize all of the truly beautiful things in our lives.

I am fortunate, as a cancer survivor, a cancer conqueror, that I’m still able to feel the warmth of the sun, hear the waves crashing on the shore, hear the wonderful voice of my grandson, and taste the magic of life itself.

I cut my hair just the other day, because it was getting kinda long. It was the best thing I have done in a while.

Thanks for stopping by and have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July.

dp

 

2015 06 27 Discombobulated June 27, 2015

So there I was, standing with a arm full of folded bath towels when all of a sudden I walked up to the fridge and opened the door. There I was, standing in front of an open fridge wondering why I was standing in front of an open fridge. I couldn’t remember ever having put away folded bath towels in the fridge. As I closed the door to the fridge and turned towards the bathroom, I smiled and shook my head, wondering how I was ever going to find my way to my pillow that night.

I shouldn’t have felt so discombobulated, because it wasn’t like I never did absent minded things like that before I lost my vision. Fact is, I used to walk into a room, stop, and think why I walked into that room at least once or twice a week. Fact is, I’ve been absent minded since they discovered I came equipped with a mind. Fact is, the busier I became during the course of my life, the more I frequented rooms for no particular reason. Fact is, being a human is like owning a free life time pass to the greatest show on earth, and the popcorn always has just the right amount of salt and butter.

No, sorry. No m&m’s. I just saw that in the Whiplash movie, and within a couple weeks from watching the movie, I’ve heard people talk about this trendy blend a couple times. Weird? Oh you betcha.

So, as I was saying, no one knows about being absent minded more than I do. There were those occasions that I would drive right by my next sales stop and keep on riding towards my next stop. Some times, I didn’t realize what I had done until I did in fact arrive at that next stop, and then, as I stared at the invoice of the customer I just rode past twenty minutes before, it finally dawned on me that my truck did a bad thing.

Bad, bad old truck! Might as well blame it on something else, right?

Have you ever thought of something, some place, some word, some occurrence, but for the life of you you couldn’t transform the thought to words? Is that a form of absent mindedness? Is mindedness a word? Should it be? What was I writing about?

Oh ya.

I have run into non connectivity between my brain and my keypad quite a bit these past few years. I know what I’m thinking about, but I can’t think of the correct word to adequately convey the meaning onto the screen. I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “Why don’t you use a thesaurus?”

Goat don’t work that way.

Fact is, if I can’t say it one way, there’s always some other way to construct a writer’s path that gets the job done. I know I’m not the most fluent of writers. I don’t have a pocket dictionary in my pocket. I have a limited vocabulary that sometimes has me scratching my head. I do like to paint a picture with words, but I probably should have gone to artistic colors in text class or something, because I do at times feel like a fish out of water when it comes to hitting a concrete wall of confusion and doubt.

About half an hour ago, I was standing in the middle of the kitchen, slowly turning around in a circle, from the sliding window, to the kitchen sink, back to the kitchen table, and all the while I wondered what it is that I was supposed to do.

I didn’t figure it out. I didn’t remember. I didn’t let it bother me though, and so I walked in this room, woke up my computer, opened a word document, and as I sometimes do, I started to write.

I didn’t remember anything I wanted to write about, so here it is.

 

2015 06 20 Hate to Admit It June 20, 2015

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I get extremely frustrated with things. I mean, to the point when I’d like to open a window and chuck all of it out onto the front lawn and let Mother Nature have a go at it. I don’t like the feeling when I get in these moods, and some days, no matter how I try, I just can’t seem to shake all the crap out of my head.

Is this human nature? Is this me not being able to let go? Is this something that after nearly 55 years I still need to work on? How is that possible? How come after all this practice I’m not good at certain things like this some days?

I know, I know. Some of you are probably thinking what to write to me right now, trying to think what to say, thinking what golden nugget of experience you could slap down onto the table that would point me in the right direction.

Fact is, I would appreciate the hell out of any response that could find the magic potion, or remedy, or cure. Fact is, even if I had heard that profitable saying that did the trick, it would be like I was hearing it for the first time, even though I might have heard it a thousand times before.

I experienced one of these days just a few days ago. My insides were all bunched up into a tight little knot that would embarrass a boy scout for not being able to untie. From the early morning hours, I could sense that something was adrift and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t quell tide after tide of emotional swells that totally took control of me and drowned the ramparts with that unforgiving seawater that never sleeps as it eats away at whatever it touches.

That was just a few short days ago, and although I managed to find my pillow that night, I lie wide awake and turned over and over again the ravaged emotions that reminded me how human I am, and how much I have no control over.

I write a lot about how there is an opportunity within each hurdle we face. Inside days like those, with the bitter pills that I sometimes swallow are those carefully hidden sweet drops of nectar that keep my needle pointing north.

Now, if I could only remember if I’m supposed to be going north or not.

Thank you all and God bless every one of you. I always pray that I might keep paying it forward. I have received so much through my lifetime, so I’d better get on with it.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great night.

dp

 

2015 06 17 None the Less June 17, 2015

I noticed something the other day, and that’s that I shuffle my feet when I walk across the floor. I do the same thing that used to make me laugh when I was a young sprite. I’ve turned old, right before my very eyes that can’t see. Not that it really bothers me, or I should say, out of sight, out of mind, right?

I remember when I was a young lad, watching older people and the way they handled themselves. They just seemed to have such a significant stature about themselves that I was sure I would never see. Now, I don’t know if I have achieved that same stature as I used to witness, but I’m old none the less.

I know, I know. All you guys and gals that are roughly the same age as me are calling me names as you read this, or completely exiting this post. I’m sorry for stuffing you into this rude category, but all I’m trying to do is convey the fact that no matter where I go, the older I become, and I’ve been to quite a few places, so I can’t help but realize that I must have done some huge amounts of oldening up.

Is oldening up a useable phrase?

I didn’t think so, but I ain’t letting that stop me!

Onward, through the fog!

There I go, getting older by the moment again. Again? I didn’t stop getting older, did i? I didn’t stop maturing and acting, umm, older, did I? I didn’t stop doddering and fidgeting and rambling and fumbling, did I? I just pissed a lot of you off once again, didn’t I?

Good. Nothing like getting things accomplished.

I was with my son and grand son the other day, and as I sat in amazement, I thought to myself how wonderful it was to be able to be with two of the most important men in the world. I thought and I shifted in my seat as I thought some more, and it dawned on me that my grand son Jack is the same age as I was when I used to look at grown ups, older people as really, really old. Then I thought to myself that I’m of the age that I never thought I would ever be, and as I once again shifted in my seat, I smiled as I reached out and squeezed Jack’s shoulder.

Then I reached down and grabbed his knee until he screamed out in tickled agony!

Sometimes being old has its advantages, you know?

 

2015 06 12 Just Another Friday June 12, 2015

Another Friday is upon us, and as another week winds down, June is nearly half over. I know I’ve written about how fast time flies by, and how fast opportunities come strolling down the sidewalk in front of your home, but some times I feel as if without my sight, how am I supposed to realize all these things going on around me?

I’ve heard that with vision loss comes a heightened existence of your other senses. I realized this first hand during the first year or two of darkness, perhaps mostly because I was receiving extensive orientation and mobility lessons.

Gang Way! Biggie Billy G with a cane coming atcha!

Seriously though, I did notice my hearing, my smell, my sencing of items around me, they all seemed to jump up a couple notches, and believe me, it helped me more than a few times as I swept through the sidewalks and intersections of Waterville. One step at a time, one sweep of the cane after another, with an incredible teacher standing guard over my progress.

So much of my life changed way back on that July day in 2010. So much of my life seemed completely lost, and what wasn’t lost, stood a few feet from me, arrogantly smiling, knowing full well it was just out of my reach. I hated that feeling most of all. Most times, when I would work towards these things and finally place my hand on them, they didn’t seem the same. They didn’t have that shine, or that shape, or that sense of belonging to me. I was a visitor in a foreign land, full of never ending change that I wasn’t prepared for.

Life though, continued moving ahead, and so did I.

I didn’t really know what to do, so I just kept doing whatever presented itself to me. It’s amazing to think back and understand what was really happening with me. As my life suddenly changed, so did the opportunities that presented themselves. I was a first grader all over again. I understood that there was a lot I didn’t understand, so I stood out next to the mail box, with my cane, and waited for the school bus to take me to the rest of my life.

The rest of my life. When you say it and think about it, it sounds very open ended. It sounds like amidst the anxiety of the unknown, there’s a feeling of excitement, a feeling of incredible opportunity that jumps out and asks if you’re ready or not. Ready? Me? Ready for what?

Funny thing, these obstacles full of opportunity. Dare to tread through the frightening narrows and you just might be surprised. I know I have been.

Complacency put a halt to my life experiences many, many times. I was comfortable, and anything out of the ordinary threatened that comfort to the point where I would turn and walk away, cowering back to my little, comfy place.

That was probably the most important thing about me that changed, and I’m here to tell you, it scared the gummy bears outta me. Fear of the unknown was something I never did well. I’m not saying I did it any better these days, but I put my head down, dug my heels in and did it anyway.

And here I am, a few days older with those experiences that have helped me to become a different man, swiping a white cane as he moves forward.

I have been introduced to an amazing array of inspirational points of light. I’ve been shown a courage that I never knew existed. I have been given the hope and support of a community that so many of the world never recognizes. I am blind, and I am in awe with a sense of admiration that has inspired me as I keep moving forward.

How many ways can I describe the thanks and gratitude that I feel for the opportunities I have been afforded? How many times can I say thanks and show my appreciation? How many of you have lived your lives so that I may come to know the gifts you possess?

Ok, I admit it. I’m rambling once again. As I write this post, there are people out there who don’t ever stop living their lives. Some folks might categorize them as being handicapped. Some folks might see a condition, instead of seeing a life full of life. Some will never understand how strong these people are, how determined and driven and capable and inquisitive they are.

I never did, but I sure as hell do now.

 

 
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