Surviving

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

2017 06 30 Journal Post Page 43 June 30, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — DP Lyons @ 6:29 pm
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You know, sometimes looking back can seem like you’re bringing up things that happened a lifetime ago. Then there’s those times when seven years ago seems like the day before yesterday. No matter how it seems, where it happened, who was there or what happened, there’s usually one thing that’s similar about all of these memorable encounters.

 

I’ll let you think on that, and if you want, you can read about this.

 

dp

 

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Page 43

 

The wall of blind was slowly becoming a familiar thing. At times I almost felt comfortable with the thought. I’ll stick with the phrase, “almost felt comfortable”.

 

The more I lived and breathed, the more it seems I was searching for something to pull me out of the dull, mirky waters. The more I searched, the more I wrapped myself inside my writing. I remember many mornings getting up at 4am, or just as soon as the road sentries called out their morning reveille. When the black crows sang and rang down through Battleridge, my eyes popped open, and as I could see the morning light come in through the window, it wasn’t long before the keys were popping under my fingers.

 

As I told you a couple pages ago, the Halloween short story that I started had taken over my keypad. One page had turned into five, which turned into chapter 1, then stretched it’s legs towards chapter 10, then chapter 32, then fifteen months had gone by and that’s all I’m gonna write about that right now.

 

2011 turned into 2012, and the snowflakes came in a flurry of storms. My second winter of shoveling was a little different than my first, in that I knew what to expect, and figured I had the upper hand.

 

Man was I wrong!

 

I often joke about trying to shovel the driveway out front, and becoming disoriented as I approached the end by the road, but looking back, there were quite a few times when my charismatic ego stepped knee deep in it.

 

When you think you have things figured out, and thirty seven seconds later you don’t remember ever feeling that way, a bit of soul searching and praying might come in handy. If it doesn’t, they can never tell you that you didn’t try.

 

I remember getting to the end of the driveway, and if the snow was heavy, I tried to find a way to get the scoop full of snow up over the banks. Well, it seemed to me that the easiest solution would be to push the scoop full across the road and slide it into the ditch, which didn’t have the high snowbanks that the end of the driveway had.

 

I used the ash and maple trees on either side of the driveway as landmarks to get my bearings. I relied on these very heavily, and for some reason, my vision, my sucky vision, my pitiful, unrelenting vision wouldn’t allow me to find the trees once I crossed the road.

 

Getting lost in the woods is a scary thing. I’ve been there before, and learned a vital lesson during the experience. Getting lost 34 feet from the end of your driveway might not seem so bad to some people, but for me, the experience was full of the same anxious moments. Heart pounding, sweat rolling, eyes desperately searching back and forth for a clue, hoping to God that a car didn’t come by, but wait a minute! If a car did come by, I might get my bearings and be able to get back to the safe zone, my home.

 

This happened to me a few times that winter, and a few more before and after that winter, and each time it happened, I wished I was back in my pair of Red Ball Jets, sitting on my new Schwinn Stingray, riding towards a sunset of nothing but what a young boy wishes and hopes for.

 

But there I was, once again, trying to find how to get back into my driveway from across the road.

 

The names were not changed to protect the innocent, mainly because blindness doesn’t care a damn about any of that crap.

 

The winter of 2012 filled my story with many more situations, issues, disappointments, hopes, wishes and what mattered the most was the amazing amount of opportunities that were peeking through the fabric of the day, enticing a blind goat to keep stepping forward and reaching out to find a new way to live.

 

I could bore you with more of my perceptions and opinions, but the story needs to keep moving forward before I get too old to remember the highs, and yes, the lows. There’s many of both, and our little Daisy dog just flew by the laundry room, busting me out of my concentration.

 

Dogs love to dance, and it grabs my attention every time. Grin

 

To be continued…

 

2017 06 27 Journal Excerpt Page 41 June 27, 2017

 

Isn’t it good when things go according to plan? Isn’t it great when you don’t have to worry about the unforeseen snags that can sometimes occur? Isn’t it marvelous when you turn, look back and think to yourself, “How the hell did I manage to get through that?”

 

Oh how life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and my oh my how fast it can happen.

 

Take a step, or two, and dare to brave the new world. Sound a little frightening? Ok then, how about just trying to brave the new day then.

 

Deal?

 

dp***

 

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Time described: Summer, Fall 2011

Page 41

 

As fall continued to move on through, my mobility lessons continued on as well. Rosemary and I had the opportunity earlier that summer to work with Waterville’s new talking pedestrian crossing assistance program things. Grin Rosemary almost cried when she found out they were planning on installing the new poles at each lighted intersection throughout the city. She had been after the city to upgrade their pedestrian crossing signals for some time, and from what she and I had encountered on our lessons around the city, a lot of the current systems were very poor, some to the point of not working at all. I remember the intersection of Elm, Park and Appleton where the library is. The signal didn’t work very well. In fact, it was quite dangerous for pedestrians, let alone someone who couldn’t see. When the walk sign was lit, the traffic light stayed green, so the normal crossing opportunities conflicted with the traffic. Talk about taking your life in your own hands! Sheesh!

 

Rosemary and I spent a ton of time on that intersection, and when the signals were synched properly, I learned how to hold my breath while crossing. So much of what I learned had to do with trusting that I was visible to drivers. Now I’m fully aware that I’m a big dude, but cars tend to be quite a bit bigger, so when we’re talking about a one on one conflict, well, need I say more?

 

Learning the proper crossing techniques with normal intersections depends on quite a few things. Not all intersections run the same as far as the light patterns. We spent a few lessons just standing at each corner and studying the patterns, one corner at a time, and believe me, there is a lot to learn from a simple 4 way intersection. With Rosemary’s help, I learned the patterns and applied the skills for a few more lessons. This was a couple months prior to the start of updating the city systems, and by the time I had learned just that one intersection, we moved on to another one.

 

Waterville has roughly 25 or so lighted intersections, and virtually every one is different. Those lessons with Rosemary were long, grueling and exhausting. By the time I arrived back home, I was mentally fried. I usually had a hard time falling asleep because of visions of busy intersections dancing through my head.

 

One lesson while we were heading down Main Street, we came across a road crew working on the intersection of Temple, Main and the Concourse entrance. After going back and forth through the intersection a couple times, Sarge asked the crew what they were working on. When they told her they were installing new audible pedestrian crossing systems, Rosemary hollered out loud. It scared me a little, as I couldn’t really hear their conversation very well because of the road noise. She grabbed me and pulled me off to the side, and as she told me the news, I could hear the excitement in her voice.

 

That intersection was one of the first installments done in the city. These systems weren’t like other systems I had worked with , for instance, down in Newton Mass. Their systems were chirping sounds that signified when crossing by pedestrians was safe. The Waterville systems were talking systems that told you in a synthesized voice when, and which streets were safe to cross. They also had beeping indicators so that you could find the poles and push the buttons to start the crossing pattern. Another really cool feature that impressed me even more was when you walked up to the pole and hit it with your cane, the volume level of the beeping, and of the voice assistant increased. It was also designed to increase automatically with increased road noise, such as trucks and other loud vehicles, so that you could continue to hear the signals. Pretty cool innovations if you ask me. Waterville was the first city in the state to have these new systems, and I was probably the first blind person to use them, or one of the first.

 

Within a few months, all of the lighted intersections of Waterville were set up with the new system, and the fun was just starting, from my perspective anyway.

 

With new technology, come new opportunities, and new issues. With any changes, mobility also changes, and a new way to do things needs to be taught, learned and implemented. That particular intersection that saw the first new system provided for some unique challenges. On the intersection’s south west corner, the pole that controlled the Main Street crossing was placed roughly fifteen feet from the actual start of the crossing. These signals were set up to announce when the walk light was lit, so when you heard, “Main Street walk signal is lit. It is now safe to cross”, the smart move would be to start sweeping your cane and head across. There was one problem though. As I said, the pole was quite a distance from the start of the cross walk, and there was also a time indicator that counted down to let you know how much time you had before the walk time ended. Of course, this count down indicator on the pole had no audible indicator associated with it, so Rosemary was the only indicator mechanism that told me how much time I had left. By the time I reached the cross walk and got half way across the street, the time was up, and the traffic began to flow again.

 

Not a good scenario!

 

I couldn’t move closer to the start of the crossing after I pushed the button on the pole because I couldn’t hear the voice announcing unless I was standing right beside the pole. The volume increasing didn’t seem to raise the voice levels sufficient enough to be heard more than a few feet from the pole.

 

Are you confused? So was I.

 

Well, we both decided that this scenario sucked out loud, and Sarge told me that it was up to me to fix it. I ended up contacting one of the Public works managers and told him about our dilemma. He agreed to meet us at the intersection on my next lesson, which he did.

 

That day I felt like the problem might be addressed, but it would probably take a few weeks to iron out. The manager met us at the street corner that next lesson, and while Rosemary and I were describing the problem, he hopped on his phone, called a number, opened the control panel on the box’s box, punched a few codes into the small keypad inside the box and extended the time allowed to cross the intersection by fifteen seconds.

 

Problem solved in less than five minutes.

 

Oh how I love modern technology, especially when it works well.

 

 

To be continued…