Surviving

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

2015 08 22 How Do I See Thee? August 22, 2015

How do I see thee? Let me count the ways.

I see with my eyes, although their finer days have stayed behind. I see with my fingers and hands, although some people might not find that appropriate. I see with my nose, and if it’s not too much trouble, could you take this bar of soap and go for a nice leisurely walk out in the pouring rain? I see with my tongue, but we won’t go there at all.
I see with my mind, and depending on what I’m thinking about, I’d say you look pretty damn good.

The fact is, I would love to be able to see as I used to. I’d love to be able to see the small little crinkles of skin beside the eyes when there’s a smile present. I’d love to be able to see those tears of joy that go along with the incredible feelings in your voice. I’d love to be able to see that little tongue sticking out of that incredibly cute little baby’s mouth as it first discovers what magnificent little toys its hands are. I’d love to be able to see the passion in the eyes of someone staring down an ice cream cone. I’d love to be able to see that nine year old face of my only grandson as he thumb wrestles with me. I’d love to be able to see my son’s bearded face as he sits beside me, driving his car. I’d love to get to see the smiling faces of my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters, just one more time. I’d love, oh how I’d love to be able to look into the bluest eyes I have ever fell in love with.

I don’t see the old traditional way anymore, and some days I really miss it. As time goes by, I think I miss it a little less, but I’ve learned a few different ways to see. It’s not the same, but it seems to do just fine in a pinch.

As the days, weeks, months and years go by since losing vision, my mind has been working overtime to pick up the slack. I’ve gone from not being able to memorize a phone number, to mapping out small little details in my mind. I can memorize a phone number these days, and I think that’s more to do with being able to put things like that to a rhythm that plays like music. 222 2222. Sounds like a hit song, right? Right?

Another thing my mind has learned how to do is to build images of the unknown, such as new people I meet, new places I go, New cars rolling down the street, and most of this mental imagery is done without me even having to ask my brain to do it. Is it becoming instinct after only five short years? I know I’ve seemingly tried to train my brain on some occasions, but usually that would leave me a little distraught because my mind has never really obeyed my orders very well.

It’s rather ironic when after I build a mental image of someone, and then they are described to me, I still automatically revert to my mental library when I’m around them, rather than using the description I was given. See? Once again my mind is taking the reins. Not that I’m complaining, but, maybe just this one time you could humor me, ok?

“I see!” said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

My mind has a tendency these days to fill my head with images, textures, colors, faces, and it all happens in an instant. No mental motoring required, no flipping through the pages, no changing the channel. It’s all right there in front of my nose, that is if I could see it.

 

2015 08 10 Describe It To Me August 10, 2015

I’ve always loved movies and always will. Although I’ve gone through periods of time in my life when I drifted away from the big screen, after some time I would find myself being tugged back towards that infamous silver screen, and for good reason. Its funny how during those times when I started watching movies again, certain characteristics of movie watching had changed, and new eras of movie watching had evolved and become the going trend.

I remember traveling to my parent’s home back in the mid eighties for Christmas. I don’t think I had seen a movie for several years leading up to the trip. While at my folk’s home in Hamburg New York, I sat in their living room and watched a pay channel viewing of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc. Also, during the trip, I, my brothers, sisters and other family members went to see the movie E.T. This was the first time I could ever remember crying while watching a movie. Call me crazy, but this experience stayed with me, and with the purchase of our first VCR player a few months later, I was hooked to movies once again.

The second time I fell away from watching movies was back in 2010 when I lost my sight. Granted there was a few forms of distraction going on, and these life changing tangents held me back from a life long passion of mine for a couple of years. I never thought I would ever be able to enjoy films or television really. Now don’t get me wrong as my wife stepped in and became the best damn describer that a billy goat ever had. She mastered the art of pause, describe and resume, and did it with ease. Unfortunately, this would turn a two hour movie into a two hour and forty-five minute experience. It also gobbled up one pair of double A batteries after another. Poor little remote. It never had a chance.

I can hear a distant rendition of Taps being played somewhere in the middle of a lush, green field.

Now then, where was I?

Oh ya. I didn’t ever find a way to thank her properly for helping me with description, and to this day, I’m sorry to say, but the movie watching experience just seemed to be missing something. I finally figured out that what I thought was the most important ingredient of all, vision, was the missing link between myself and my past passions for movies, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it but try to absorb, adapt and advance with the tools I still had control of.

During the year 2013, I kept hearing about described video service, or DVS as it’s known. I sort of poo poo’d it, never thinking that I would learn how to get these little gems of accessibility, nor did I really want to. I became comfortable with the way things were, and you know me, a pitiful creature of habit.

I had been using my iPod, along with an app that had access to a podcast that included described movies and television shows. I started using it more and more over the 2013/14 winter, and finally, found out how to acquire described audio files of movies.

The format was an mp3, which I was used to using with my iPod, and so, I uploaded a movie to my device, and instantly, I was hooked.

Let me tell you, this new technology has brought me back to my love of the big screen, and also television. I am full of gratitude for those who have developed this technology, and all I can say is thank you.

The silver screen is so much more than a visual experience. It’s about the music score, the wonderful array of audio styling’s and formattings. It’s about well developed story lines that accent a point in time, and with an ease similar to a summer’s breeze, being able to hear it described to you is to reignite a deep seeded passion that could never hope of being completely eliminated.

I hope that anyone who is visually impaired can some day be able to experience what I have come to love. I hope that this technology has only just begun. I hope that my audible ability to create visual images in my imaginative mind is just getting started.

I hope that you enjoyed this post half as much as I have enjoyed writing about it.

Thanks for stopping by, and go ahead and live a little, or better yet, I dare you to live a lot!

dp

 

2015 08 04 Tic, Tic, Tic August 5, 2015

Hello again.

I was just going through some of my more recent posts. I save them in a folder, strangely enough called, blog. Remarkable title, ay?

Anyways, I was rolling back through the last couple months worth of posts and I thought to myself, “My, how the time flies by.” Sure enough, it flies by, and real fast too. I went back to the early part of June and another thing dawned on me. Remembering back to the cold, dark, snowy winter, I remember saying to myself how much I was craving the warmer summer months. I remember being sick and tired of the cold. I remember hating having my fingers sting from the frigid temps every time I went out back to feed the feathered flyers and furry foragers. I remember huddling inside my thermal shirt, my hoody, my coat, gloves and hat. I remember the wind whipping through my body like my fingers rifling through my drawer in the fridge for more chocolate. I remember also thinking how long it seemed until those warmer summer days would be here, and now, here we are, nearly two months past the start of summer. Now I find myself thinking that fall is just around the corner and winter not too far behind.

I’ve written of time and how it has a habit of sneaking up on you. The busier you are, the faster it seems to stroll on by.

With my health issues this past winter, the time warp syndrome acquired different points of existence. The time during all of my treatments was a frantic blur. After those ended in early February, time seemed to downshift as it moved off the highway and approached spring. The more I had to do, the less time it seemed that I had to do it in.

I pulled out my human being manual and flipped through the index to try and find the chapter that went more into detail of this anomaly. I couldn’t find it in the index, the glossary, the other part of the whatcha ma call it, and realized that I had no idea where this post is going.

I guess what I’m trying to say, or figure out, or realize is that the fabric of time is incredibly delicate and extremely important to just about everything that surrounds our lives. Some days it feels like I haven’t done much of anything at all, and other days it feels like I have accomplished many things. Some days seem like I’m heading into a strong head wind, and other days it feels like I’m coasting down hill all day long on my favorite bike at complete ease with my world and all its surroundings. I like those days the best, but they don’t come along every day.

I guess that in order to really enjoy those sorts of days, you have to experience the days when it seems that everything is an uphill struggle. Heaven knows I have had a few of those in my life, as we all have. It’s like so many other instances in our lives. We don’t win every encounter. If we did, the thrill of victory would be a watered down version of an amazing thing.

I had to stop just then and regroup my thoughts, because I didn’t know where the next line was coming from. I suppose that life is a lot like that too. Not everything is planned, or I should say, we don’t know what’s around every corner. The best learning comes from experience of the unknown.

Hey! That makes perfect sense, I mean, where else is learning supposed to come from if it’s not from the unknown? If we knew what to expect, how would we craft new and developing ways to tackle different situations? How would we be able to think on our own if we weren’t forced to? How would we develop skills that allow us to maneuver and figure and react and come up with ideas?

This makes me think of that post I wrote a ways back that talked about absorption, adaption and advancement. Man, that covers so much of the structure of my life, of our lives. The mind is a tireless tool that is always thinking of new things, and reminiscing over those times in our lives that have handed us brand new ways wrapped around brand new days.

No matter how tired we think we are, we never stop thinking about things. We never stop wondering and worrying and contemplating and figuring and through it all, we still find time to think a little bit more.

The essence of time is the art of existence.

Tic, tic, tic.

 

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.

 

 
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