Surviving

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

2017 07 28: Journal Post Page 46 July 28, 2017

Well my journal finally screamed long and loud enough for me to realize that the story was sitting there, patiently waiting. Sometimes the really important things in our lives get moved to the side. Sometimes our attention becomes swayed towards the next amazing thing, or wonderful thing, or addictive thing, or whatever thing grabs you by the collar and jerks you sideways. I think it’s safe to say that the most important items of our lives always remain on the front of the shelf, so that we can’t help noticing them every time we walk by.

I’m not sure if this story of mine is an attention grabber, but as I’m writing it, it sure as hell is grabbing hold of mine.

Happy summer day to all of ya’s, and I surely do hope this finds you doing well.

dp

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Page 46
Spring 2012

Spring 2012 instilled many changes into my life. My vision was basically the same, although from time to time the clarity of what I was able to see seemed to grow significantly. The window of vision still remained in the right outer peripheral in a small, vertical crescent moon shape, with a larger window of light perception that brought to me the differences between day and night, light and dark, what I knew was there, and what I couldn’t see. The left peripheral of that same right eye kept reminding me of a possibly total dark future, which I hated with a raged passion.

These small tantalizing slices of better sight usually only lasted a moment or two before I was pulled back into the dull and hazy gray halls of what I had become used to, and what I relied heavily on to help me maneuver my way through the day. The blue colors that I was afforded seemed to be the strongest, which fascinated me, as every time I was startled, the color blue roared in like a cloudless summer sky. I called it Wal Mart blue, and realize now that I’ve probably already told you this. Either way, these curtain calls of color had a great impact on me.

My emotions still came roaring in like a rush of high tide. Some days I seemed to be chugging along at a good clip, not thinking about being blind, not worrying about the rest of my life, not thinking about anything other than the day. I worked hard trying to stay busy, and my computer grabbed the largest chunk of my day.

As I said, the emotions rose and fell quickly, and without warning. Many times I would be overcome with a feeling of hopeless, helpless torment, which usually left me breaking down for a few minutes. It felt like a great power was scouring my heart and soul with a cleansing release of all the worry, panic, fear, frustration, and left me completely worn out. I didn’t like these sudden surges of emotion, but looking back I realize that it was happening for a reason. I’m still learning what that reason was, or should I say, what that reason, is.

That spring I entered the final phase of my O&M lessons with Rosemary. She and I had been trudging up and down the sidewalks of Waterville for nearly two years, and our relationship had grown tighter than ever. I still disliked my lessons, but always felt good about my accomplishments after they were done, and I was writing the overview of the lesson. There was one final assignment that she handed me, and when I first heard what it was, that usual rush of charged electricity set in motion the wheels of resistance that smacked me with the usual reaction, one of which I was neither proud of, or glad to see.

Rosemary laid out the final white cane excursion, but it quickly formed into much more than just an O&M lesson through the streets of Waterville.

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…

 

 

 

02 17 17 Anybody Know Why? February 17, 2017

I still like to write, but I ain’t writ much since Christmas. Anybody know why?

I started another semester of school four weeks ago. I didn’t get too excited about it. I usually do. Anybody know why?

I found a chocolate bar in the fridge that I didn’t know was there. This would usually cause me to smile and go, Ooooooo. I didn’t do either of those two things. Anybody know why?

I got one of my favorite sandwiches from Subway this afternoon, which usually tastes really, really good. Today it tasted like rubber chicken. Anybody know why?

If it sounds like I’m a little down, a little depressed, a little sad, a little off track, a little befuddled, a little flustered, a little blue or a little bayou then perhaps I am.

Anybody know why?

I know one thing, and that’s that I have seen my shovel in my hands more times this past week than I can remember for a long, long time. I’m glad I had a shovel to put in my hands, but to tell you the truth; I would have preferred to see it in someone else’s hands.

Do I sound a little agitated, a little frustrated, a little pissed off, a little perplexed? I know one thing. My mind is in a frozen state of white out, and I think I need me some more cow bell.

Anyone know why?

The dryer just made a ding noise, which means that the load of wet laundry is probably all dry, which means that I should open the door of the dryer, put the clothes in a basket, take it out and put it on the kitchen table and put the clothes away.

This is not causing me to feel overly joyous or incredibly uplifted.

Anybody know why?

 

2016 03 29 Spring Did Sprung March 29, 2016

Spring Did Sprung

The geese were flying low last night as the late evening sun sank slowly through the trees. Either the same honkers were circling around, or there were several different groups of them. I don’t know what it is about this area out here. Every spring, and every fall their chorus can be heard up and down our road. My wife pointed out to me a very large group of them waddling around in a field a week or so ago. She backed the van up and rolled down the window. From the sound, I’d say there must have been at least a hundred of the beautiful creatures. A migrating song, second to none.

We’ve been rather lucky this winter, as the weather has been quite mild. Here it is the 29th of March, and the snow has been gone for the better part of a month. Yes, we get an occasional snow storm, but following the winter trend, it just doesn’t get a chance to stick around too long. Not that I’m complaining, oh no indeed. I’d rather dodge wet rain drops than shovel crystallized ones.

I’m not a big fan of mud season either. I remember back when I bounced around in my work truck all day. When I got home, I would have to do the vehicle two step. With mud season, comes soft ground, and this meant I would lose my work truck parking spot along side the driveway. I would get home, leave the truck running out in the road, run inside to get the keys to the van, start up and back out the van, get out and run back to my work truck, move the truck into the driveway, get out and run out to the van in the road and then pull it back into the single lane driveway behind my trusty work truck.

I used to call my work truck, my little Pez dispenser, because the last several ones I had were the flip forward cab structure. I didn’t care for them much, mainly because if I were to be in a head on accident, I feared I would surely be the first one there. Groan

This musical motor game went on from usually mid April to mid May, as this was the usual time span for our traditional Battleridge mud season. Spring thaw had so many characteristics to it, and this was but only one of them.

Now, don’t forget that after we had run our errands, or did whatever we needed to do in our family van, I had to swap the vehicles around all over again, so my Pez dispenser was ready to head out the next morning as I made my way out into my work day.

Oh joyous fun! Oh happy trails! Oh my God what a frigging pain in my as you can see, our mud season is well under way, with hopes of it being done by the time it usually is just getting started.

Come on global warming, or climate change, or whatever the trendy, going phrase is this year! I kept thinking to myself, which happens a lot, but doesn’t produce much, that if it’s been mild up to now, we’ll surely end up paying for it in the long run.

I hope the long run doesn’t come around until next winter.

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It’s like everything starts to wake up, and as it stretches as it rises and shines, things start to magically grow up from the dull, gray existence of winter’s menacing grip. I loved driving down the road in spring, any road in spring, and seeing the patches of trees beginning to show their green colors. The first few were the most brilliant, as the light greens painted the barren landscapes, until after a week or three, instead of trying to find small patches of green, I was noticing the patches of trees that had yet to sprout their calling cards of life.

Yes, spring surely is an amazing thing to see. The sights, the sounds, the smells, it’s all so different, and it happens every single year. Oh, those fall colors do dazzle the palettes of fall, and the winter months with their frozen display of icy wonder, and summer? Oh my how summer can bring out the innocence in a young child’s smile. The trips to the coast, Down East, Long Beach, Sebago Lake State Park, North Gorham, it was the home for so many alluring and fascinating memories, but none of them, not a single one, would have been possible without my old friend, spring.

Every year spring brings us the start of another great possibility. Every year, spring builds a landscape that is surpassed by nothing else on the face of the earth. Every year, spring delivers what it promises.

It’s up to us to build those memories that last.

I hope this spring is the start of something amazing for you. I hope you’re able to get out there and grab yourself some of the most spectacular thing in the world. I also hope you come back to visit my blog again.

I wish you the best of what today has to offer, and an even better tomorrow.

dp

 

2015 12 14 It Ain’t Easy Being Green December 14, 2015

It’s not easy being green, or blue, or lavender, or blind. It’s not the norm, the average, the trendy, or politically correct to not be able to see. It’s abnormal, variational, unusual and unconventional to be lightless, sightless, non visual or blind as a bat. Fact is, there isn’t much about it that I particularly care for.

A member of an email list I belong to offered their resolute opinion that even though I lost my vision rather rapidly, I should have been more prepared for the unexpected, that with my lack of preparation, I fell into a deep well along with those that didn’t take responsibility for their own lives, that I didn’t adequately take the steps to make sure that if I did lose my vision, that I’d be ready to take on a visual world with a mobility cane, a good concept of the Braille language and an abacus to figure out how much money I was spending while grocery shopping.

Huh?

I’m afraid no matter how I might have anticipated the hardships that life can throw at you, I would have been nowhere near as prepared as this person thought I should have been. Granted I wouldn’t be any further behind where I am right now, but chances are, I wouldn’t have been any further ahead either.

Oh ya, did I tell you? This person has been blind since birth, which in my eyes makes a huge difference. I’m wondering how they could have gauged where I, or those like me should be, I mean there’s got to be a huge difference on how you live your life when you’re born blind, compared to if you lose vision later in life, and suddenly to boot.

Ok, ok, ok, I’m starting to feel sorry for myself, and that’s my worst enemy. Self pity might feel comfortable at times, but he ain’t no friend of mine. He doesn’t do anything positive or constructive; he doesn’t listen to inspiration or cause admiration. He doesn’t lend a hand, except for reaching out to grab hold of an undeserving hand out, and he’ll never show you the right way to go, only the easiest route with the less obstruction possible. I guess “He”, could easily be, me. Fact is, he looks just like me on any number of days, because it doesn’t take me long to start feeling sorry for myself. A couple wrong turns, a jammed finger, a busted toe, a misplaced item, or one of those, “Now where did I leave it this time?” moments of pure non-clarity.

I can’t see much any more. A little sliver of light, a dull shimmer where a bright glimmer used to be, a darker than usual version of what dark looked like just a few months ago, and here I am, a blind billy goat on a mission to find a new way to live.

I’m sort of wanting to tell my wife that I’m sorry. I want to tell her that sometimes I know how hard I need to work at this blind thing. I want to tell her how much I love her for putting up with me, in all my cane sweeping glory. I want to say, thank you, and I couldn’t be as blind as I am without your guidance, support and love.

I also would like to say something to the person who thinks I dropped the ball. I’d like to let her know that outside of her own life, she has no idea on how to be me. She has no clue what it takes to live my life day to day. She has no clue, and therefore, although she might find this hard to believe, she is clueless.

I know what I need to do, and some days I’m able to do it better than other days. As long as I never forget what it takes, and what it’s taken, then things should work themselves out.

If they don’t, there’s always more chocolate.

Thanks for dropping by my blog, and as we head towards Christmas, take a second to look around you. The way that it is, exactly as it is right now will never, ever happen again.

Goat Be Gone.

 

2015 11 04 A Lifetime Away November 4, 2015

It’s taken me a lifetime to get to where I am. It seems like a lifetime away, but as I look back I feel the building blocks that have shaped and molded my existence. Such a long time ago, a little boy sat mesmerized with everything he gazed upon and reached out to. Such an inquisitive nature, completely innocent and void of judgment. The bright eyed questions that spun around inside the restless mind of this young lad weren’t unlike anyone else’s, but they were mine, and mine alone.

So much of who I am today directly reflects upon those building blocks of yesterday. Brothers, sisters, a mom and a dad are all part of me, and I care not to think what it would be like today without a yesterday full of them.

As the lines in the mirror grow longer in years, I can feel the age creeping in and molding the young lad yet again, though in a different way. Memories that span over time have a hand in aging the soul, the mind, the spirit, and although the gathered experiences help to compile character, like so many others, the woes of the body have also had a huge hand in shaping who I am, and yes, where I might be able to go from here on out.

I always tell folks that I don’t want to be a burdon, that I don’t want to have to be taken care of, but the fact is, a great part of my life these days is dependant on being able to ask for help. It’s a humbling experience to say the least, but along these past five sightless years, I have had to accept things for what they are, and what they are is something extraordinarily unique to which I used to be.

I am a thankful man, but I am also a seriously bitter man locked inside a life of anxious doubt. I still rely on a compassionate soul, but parts of my spirit have wandered to the side, spending valuable time hanging around the vagabond shoes of the unwilling.

What the hell does that mean?

I suppose it might mean that although I start each day willing to take on the challenges of a lightless world, I find myself some days slipping quickly into the fissures of a deep, dark, endless obstacle that has become what I don’t want, but what I am dealt.

I often write about how within each difficult situation lies an opportunity to move ahead. One step to the side, one step back and if I try hard enough, perhaps two steps forward. Those forward motions do seem tiny at times, but they are progress none the less.

And here I am, once again, facing a seemingly insurmountable wall of obstruction.

I’m not unlike so many others, in that I lose focus, I lose ambition; I lose the strength to summoned one more step forward. It’s hard to silence the voices of a tired soul, but it’s also hard to quell the heart of a warrior, which I’ve been told I have.

I talked with my father a while ago and asked him if he remembered his dreams, if there was one particular dream that he remembered having. He paused for a moment or two, and then told me of a young man, a warrior, who was constantly at battle with evil. He told me of how this young soldier of life had the courage brought forth to him by a great source of power, of goodness, of amazing strength. Through years of these same dreams, the source of energy in his dreams came from an ever present light of white, an illuminating light of good. Through his childhood and into his later years, he dreamt of doing battle beside a warrior unlike any other. This source of strength stayed with him through his waking hours and shone as a guiding light.

When I am experiencing difficult times through the course of my days, I imagine that strong, steadfast warrior, taking on the foes of challenge. I imagine my father, swinging his sword as he walks into the great battle of life. It’s a humbling feeling knowing that this great warrior of sleep stood beside me, behind me, with me as I grew old.

I don’t want to be a burdon, nor do I want to be pitied, but some days, it’s hard to avoid those obstacles of repression. I suppose by my nature, I can easily get caught up in complacency. I don’t handle change well, and I don’t do well with having to give up control of any kind. So much of my life is controllable, but every facet of what goes on around my life isn’t.

I just realized something. How on earth can we, or why would we ever want to feel comfortable with complacency, when we’re fully aware that the world never stops changing? Why would I ever knowingly expect anything other than change?

Now I’ve got something to think about for the rest of the day.

Go grab hold of your day and change something.

Go on! I dare ya!

 

2015 10 19 All the Brilliance from All the Stars October 19, 2015

All of the Brilliance from All of the Stars

Part of me feels like its missing. Part of me seems to be misplaced. I know why, but, well, I just don’t know why. Once in a while, I sense that something amazing is coming at me, and for a few seconds I’m overwhelmed by a deep, pulsating surge of energy that causes me to take a deep breath.

I think I know what it is. As a matter of fact, I’m fairly positive I know what it is. It’s strength, courage, kindness, patience, disciplined guidance, unmatched affection and never ending love. It’s a comforting word during a difficult time, an arms folded shit eating grin, a pat on the back followed by a kick in the butt. It’s all the brilliance from all the stars in the universe wrapped in a hug. It’s what I know, what I admire, what I look up to and crave and yearn for and desire. It’s a lasting memory, filled with holiday bows and baseball gloves. It’s a sense of feeling, unmatched by anything under the warming sun. It’s a pick up truck parked under a maple tree.

With so many thoughts and snap shots spinning ‘round my mind, they all reflect back to the images of my past. They all gently remind me of a towering, powerful figure that represented absolute security. They tell a story not unlike so many others, but uniquely my own.

They write in the sky with script from above, and for this, I am blessed.

What I miss, what I lean into, what I listen for are those same strong tones, that same rolling laugh, that comforting voice ringing through our home that used to put me to sleep so many nights.

I am a grateful man, a grateful child, a grateful son.

I miss you Dad, and I thank you.