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 04: Journal Excerpt Page 44 July 4, 2017

That winter of 2012 introduced me to another group of people, but some were the same that I had met at the 2011 ACB fall convention. This new group of amazement made up the Blind Bowlers of Central Maine, and as a new found family collectively made their way towards me, a new sense of belonging found its way into my life.

 

I was petrified at the first thought of trying to bowl blind, and at first I thought it was a joke, I mean, how can someone who is blind, bowl? It just didn’t make sense to me, so I just sort of shrugged it off as a chance to get to know some new people, one of whom was a fellow by the name of Rolfe Frost.

 

I had met Rolfe back in the spring of 2011, when he gave me a ride home from the employment assessment testing I had done at the Career Center in Augusta. Leona had set me up for the testing, and Rolfe gave me a ride home. We instantly struck up a nice conversation that lasted the whole trip back home, and for me, there was something about this guy that put me at ease, and allowed me to feel completely comfortable as we chatted it up.

 

Rolfe is, well, it’s hard for me to find words to correctly describe him. He has a heart of gold, and I am blessed to have met him, along with this new family of visually impaired people, and many, many more.

 

Blind Bowlers of Maine. It sounded really weird back then at first, but as time went by, it took on a whole new meaning for me. As the Saturday event became something that I looked forward to, I realized that I was slowly becoming one of them, one of the Blind Bowlers. I had found an incredible place where I fit in. I had found a group of people that I had something in common with. I became a Blind Bowler, and it felt comfortably normal.

 

Now I have to tell you that through my life, I was a ferociously competitive candlepin bowler. The first time I picked up a ball and rolled it down the alley, I was hooked, and I instantly became good at it. From an early age, I waited for the chance to step onto the hardwood lanes and slide towards the black line, releasing the ball. As it made that sweet, unmistakeable sound of rolling down the aisle, it hypnotized me until it crashed through the pins. That crashing sound, that explosion of pin action was the most beautiful sound in the world to me, and I just couldn’t get enough.

 

The years went by, and the trophies piled up. Our whole family was very competitive, and we all loved to bowl. My sister Terri was the best of our clan, and I was always chasing her abilities.

 

Anyway, the first time I stepped onto the lanes being visually impaired, bowling took on a new meaning for me. The hardest thing for me was the feeling of embarrassment. The humility, the pride that I had to swallow was one of the hardest things I have ever done.I went from a championship bowler, to a blind bowler in the blink of a blind eye, and as another part of my past stood beside me, I tied my bowling shoes, stepped onto the lanes, fumbled for a ball, stepped awkwardly three times towards where I thought the black line was, and quickly rolled a speedy gutter ball.

 

Did I mention how I cringed? Did I mention the pang of pain that ran down through me? Did I mention the smile that slowly crept across my face as I stepped back and tried to find another ball? How about the fact that shortly thereafter I rolled another gutter ball?

 

Those trips down to Augusta during the winter months became one of the highlights of my life. I grew very fond of sitting at the tables near the scorer’s desk, and just listening to the sounds. The crashing of the pins, the gutter balls, the camaraderie, it all took me back to the reasons why I loved to bowl. A complete package of time, wrapped in friendship, family and fun.

 

I thank you Mr. Frost for your friendship, your dedication and for your kindness of heart.

 

Well the winter rolled on, and so did my O&M lessons with Rosemary. Trudging through the snow with a white cane sweeping in front of me wasn’t my idea of having fun, but what an amazing opportunity to gather in my senses. The sounds of winter crunching under my feet was an experience like no other I had ever been through. A white cane in front of me, a pretty lady ten steps behind me, an intimidating world wrapped tightly around me, it all led me towards my future, and although it seemed dull and hazy, it brought certain things towards me that I never knew existed.

 

There were many aspects of winter mobility that changed my perceptions. The snow had very sneaky characteristics that I soon found very annoying, and as the tip of my cane packed full of snow and ice, my worries and fears of the unknown were met head on by an unrelenting show of force by Her Magesty, Mother Nature.

 

To be continued…

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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 12 13 Over the Hills and Through the Years December 13, 2016

Over the hills and through the years, the faces of Christmas change, but their message brings home the same joyous feelings of the season. Though I have changed greatly in appearance, manners and beliefs, my perceptions of Christmas, though seen now through the eyes of an older man, are still met with an innocence of youth that runs up and walks along side me. I am grateful for each season of the spirit, no matter what it holds, no matter how bright the shining light.

My son and grandson came to visit the other day, and as I sat and listened to my two favorite men over a wonderful dinner, and finally a competitive game of dice, I heard in their voices those same echoes of my past that continue to replenish my heart and soul. Although I couldn’t see it with my eyes, whenever my grandson smiled, I could feel it from my toes to my nose. It was the same feeling that I received when my son, his dad, used to continuously hand directly to me, for what seemed a thousand years upon a very special day.

I write often of Christmas. I remember as I write, and oh how those memories choose to nestle in and keep me company. From my childhood, to the family that felt so much a part of me the other day, I wonder if it’s all meant to continue with a story, my story that with each year that passes by, keeps reminding me of how uniquely all of the ingredients of the seasons mix and blend themselves into a story that keeps gaining in momentum.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to shake the feelings of family through the season of Christmas. Try as I may, the tides of emotion seem to grab hold of an older man and shake the life back into him. It’s something that I can’t avoid, and it’s something that, at times, I feel compelled to write about. Passages and phrases and metaphors can’t do it the justice that it deserves, but I continue to write, none the less.

I remember as a child sitting by the picture window in our living room on a snowy winter’s night. Sitting next to the simple colored candle lights in the window, I would gaze out across a field of twilight magic, and as a winter’s snow tumbled quietly to the ground, a calm feeling of peace crept over and down through me. Focusing on the amazing colors of the waning day outside the window, to the reflected images of the Christmas tree behind me in the living room, their competing brilliance was outdone only by the story of the season at hand. Once again, it’s hard for me to describe this feeling, except to say that whenever I’m able to catch a glimpse of it these days, I’m instantly transported back through time to a moment in time, a passage in time, in my time, when a young boy didn’t have to worry about the need to describe it. All he had to do was sit back in his chair, close his eyes and just continue being a young boy, innocently caught up in the pure magic of the moment.

I wish I could think of different words to describe the feelings. I wish I could figure out how to phrase the emotions and memories so that everyone in the world could know what was churning in my heart. I wish and wish and then, I am reminded once again that the best part of these feelings, these emotions isn’t how I might be able to describe them, rather the most amazing part of it all is in effect, born from the simplest ingredient of all. Love.

Something that you can’t describe as a child, continues to be indescribable as an adult. No price tags, no monetary value, no hidden disclaimers or sales pitches, but a straight to the heart word that carries with it a magic that I hope you all are able to grab hold of this, and every season forward.

I feel, I write, therefore, I write what I feel.

May the joys of the Season keep good company with you all.
From a snowy ridge in Maine.

DP

 

2016 01 05 One Scoop, or Two? January 15, 2016

I went out and shoveled the driveway a couple days ago. I didn’t do it because I wanted to. I mean, who in their right mind would ever want to shovel a driveway, right? Thank God the frozen white stuff was the light and fluffy kind, for I really didn’t want to have to over exert myself, although I could use it.

I’m getting soft in my semi old age. In fact, I’m probably in the poorest shape of my life. I don’t really understand why, I mean, I get my proper nourishment every day. Ok, ok, I admit it. Some days I don’t have my recommended daily allowance of milk chocolate, but I more than make up for it the next day, or the day after, ok?

Tell you the truth, I had a hell of a time shoveling. It felt like a taste of those old panic attacks I used to get a few years ago. Maybe not quite as strong, but along the same lines. You see, as I have said a few times these past few months, my vision is nearing the end of its existence. I can’t see what I used to, and what I used to see just plain sucked. I guess I had grown complacent that the limited vision I had since 2010 would be with me for eternity. It wasn’t much to work with, but oh how I worked it. A landmark here, a door frame there, a shiny line of chrome, topped off with my two favorite trees on either side of my driveway, and I was all set to go and get some for myself.

As I slowly and deliberately pushed my snow scoop back and forth down the driveway Wednesday morning, I was faced with a deep, dark blackness that I neither welcomed, nor found any hope of being able to use. It was midnight at 10 o’clock in the morning. My two favorite trees were gone, my shrubs in front of the porch had disappeared, my garage door had vanished, the blue spruce that pointed me towards the East had up and walked away, and I was standing there, waiting for a car to go by, so that I might regain my orientation.

I find myself these days leaning and reaching as I make my way around the inside of my house. I am constantly searching for counter tops, chairs, door jams, doors, and anything that lends a hand with getting from one room to another. My wife keeps telling me I need to use my cane around the house, and I keep telling her that I will never use a cane around the inside of my house. I guess the sniveling little brat of a goat is hanging on to a sense of dignity that perhaps even I don’t understand.

No matter what it is, or called, or referred to, it’s what’s in front of me, and as I go after it, over and over again, you might say that I’m preparing for battle against a foe that will never get the better of me.

At least that’s how I approach it on most days.

My wife, God bless her, is putting up with an oil tanker full of crap that no one should ever have to endure. She has been my anchor these past six years. Hell, she’s been my anchor since 1980, and as I have said before, I owe her my life, and then some.

She has chosen to stay with me, for sicker, for poorer, for goat be in debt up to his goat caboose.

As I was saying, as I made my way down the drive with my snow scoop in my hands doing what snow scoops normally tend to do, the familiar shards of slighted sight were nowhere to be seen. I can’t imagine how the driveway looked after I finished, I mean the edges must have been as if a demolition derby wreaked havoc on the linear edges of the perfectly manicured attempt at snow removal.

As I stood there, leaning on my scoop, I listened for the oncoming traffic up and down our road. At one point, I stood there for what seemed like a goat day, until a lone car came slowly down the ridge. I was trying to gain some orientational clues as to how close I was to the road.

Is orientational a word?

As the car rolled by, I pulled out my talking calculator, my T square, my daylight savings sun dial, my bag of chocolate chips and equated that I was still 20 feet or so from the end of the drive, so, on I scooped, back and forth, South to North, and as I finally broke through the packed snow at the end of my mission, I smiled deep inside, for once again I had found a way to get it done.

I swung the scoop out in front of me, trying to find the mail box, and after several pitiful attempts, “Clang!” there it was, the steel pole of the newspaper box. Five feet further south, and there was the mail box, in all its frozen glory, waiting for me to pluck its prize, and pluck the prize I did.

With a smile, a sigh of relief and a feeling of accomplishment, I headed East up the drive, and realized I now had to try and find the front porch door again.

Orientation’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.
If you can see what you’re doing, please take the time to try and remember what it is that you see.

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by Surviving.

dp

 

2016 01 05 And a Happy New Year to Ya! January 5, 2016

And a Very Happy New Year to Ya!

Don’t look now, but we’re five days into the brand new year. We’re nearly a whole week away from 2015, and there’s no turning back. It’s all for one, and one for all. It’s onward and upward. It’s about time I end with these pointless parodies of the perceptive goat.

Perceptive? Me?

Do you ever wonder how we make it to our pillows every night with so much going on around us that we aren’t aware of? There are many days when I feel so uninformed that I want to just go ahead and act as ignorant as I feel.

Side Note: I could tell you what my wife thinks, but I’ll just leave that to your imaginations.

I try to keep abreast of what’s going on, but to tell you the truth, there are a lot of things going on that I’d rather not have a clue about. Which Hollywood starlet is going out with the latest big screen heart throb is all well and wonderful, but it really has no bearing on my life, and well, do I really look like I should care?

I was never a politically minded person, that is, until my dad told me I should read the US Constitution.

And so, I did.

Most days I wish I never had, as this twisting waterspout of political mayhem seems to be getting closer and closer to the precipice of sanity.

Excuse me, as I’m running out of breath, and for good reason. It’s tiring to try and keep pace. It’s exhausting to catch up, and it’s taxing to try and stay ahead.

Every time I turn on the news, there’s more and more stuff that has escaped my inquisitive mind. The price of crude oil, the five day forecast, the score of last night’s game, it just doesn’t ever stop. As the earth spins around one more time, the endless stream of multimedia comes hurdling at us at blinding speed, without warning, without caring, without worrying what adverse effect it may have on us.

Inconsiderate, self centered, egotistical bundle of current events. Didn’t anyone ever teach this stuff manners? Go to your room, with no supper! Stand in the corner, right now! Have a seat on this stool right here so we can all stare at your insufficient state of consideration for the rest of us!

Seriously though, as much as I dislike catching up on the less than good things that go on in the world, I’m getting so used to plugging into my avenues of news that if I go a couple days without catching up, I tend to worry that I may have missed the news of the millennium. I might have not noticed the next greatest thing since sliced bread. I might have walked right past the deal of the century. I might have, may have, could have, should have, but probably didn’t.

I guess it’s all a matter of personal perception and individual preference on what I consider, what we consider as important.

I recently listened to a recording of a woman who called into a morning radio show. She talked about how she had run into three deer with her vehicle on a stretch of interstate near her home in the past couple months. She asked the radio personalities if they thought it would be a good thing if the state moved the deer crossing signs, so the deer would cross somewhere else. She thought that a better solution would be to put the signs on a road that has a lower speed limit, like a school zone. She thought it was inconsiderate of the deer to want the deer crossing on an interstate, where people were driving really, really fast.

I instantly felt fairly confident that I was a little more informed than she was.

I’m also glad that we don’t have such inconsiderate deer here in Maine.

Have a great day, and go get yourself some more information, that is, if you want to.

dp

 

2015 12 29 Gearing Up and Winding Down December 29, 2015

And here we are, gearing up for New Years, or are we winding down from Christmas? Six of one, and here’s your half dozen.

Looking back, I find that the year that was 2015 was a blinding blur. So much went on as we spun around the sun that it’s hard to believe we could stuff it all inside 365 glorious days on this big blue spinning marble we call home.

And here we are, T-Minus three days and counting. Or is it just two?

I haven’t written as much this past year or so, and I’m blaming it on too much school work. Actually though, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the whole reason. I lack a lot of ambition that I had a couple years ago. I know it’s probably due to my health, but that just seems like I’m making up an excuse for my laziness. I have been writing quite a bit for school assignments, but compared to a few years ago, I’m not writing anywhere near what I was. I have though been picking up my guitars more as of late, and even played a little personal rendition of a Christmas song at our last Sunday night’s writers meeting back on the 20th of December. I was a little nervous, but strummed my way through it. I even sang like only a goat can. I did up a version of Silent Night for the other members of my writer’s group, and actually had a good time doing it. I’d put it on YouTube, but I’m afraid with so many views, it might completely crash the internet

Hahahaha! grin.

I’m still listening to mp3 Christmas movies on my iTouch, and will until New Years day. It’s become a yearly ritual for me, and when you add in a few holiday music albums into the mix, how can a goat go wrong? I actually listened to quite a few movies this season without description. No narrator telling you what’s going on. Just your good old imagination filling in the empty slots of movie stuff. I find that if I’m able to get into the movie after five minutes, I’ll stay with it, even though it isn’t described. The first movie I ever listened to with description on my iTouch was War Horse back in spring 2014. I became instantly addicted to the format and fell back in love with movies. It’s fair to say that I painstakingly fell away from watching movies after 2010, except for a few that I watched with my wife.

By the way, she is a fabulous movie narrator, but with the excessive pausing and playing with the remote control, she could burn through a fresh pair of AA batteries in a couple weeks.

I think she misses not describing movies and other shows to me, but although I hate to say it, having a scripted movie narrator tell you what’s going on is a huge difference.

One thing I really seem to enjoy is being able to listen to a described movie that I previously watched back when my eyes worked. It’s actually almost like watching the movie for the first time, especially when it’s narrated by someone from Great Britain. They use so many different terms for describing things that it’s rather enjoyable to the point of being almost like a learning experience from across the pond.

And here we are again, this 29th day of December, 2015. Where on earth did the time go? How do the days move around us so fast? Didn’t the geese just come back north a few weeks ago, or was that those same gooses I just heard heading their tail feathers back south? I’m sure they got it right, no matter what we think, right?

As we head towards 2016, I’m reminded that I’m just about ¼ the way towards my associate’s degree, which means that I’m closing in on a 2032 graduation date. Give or take a decade or two. Grin
It’s a good thing I’m in no hurry. I’ll try to beat my grandson, as he makes his way towards his high school diploma.

He’s turning 10 this April.

I better get my goat hooves moving, ay?

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas and that the spirit of the season flickered its flame deep within your hearts. I’d also like to wish you all the best as we slide on into 2016. May this New Year give you every opportunity to grab hold of something good, whether it’s something you work towards, or an amazing surprise that just happens to fall into your lap. With a little effort, it usually works out, and with a lot of effort, there’s just no telling what can happen.

Thanks for stopping by my blog this past year. I appreciate all your comments and look forward to piling on even more goaticious tales of Surviving.

Take care and God bless you all.

dp

 

2015 12 02 The Bells of Winter December 2, 2015

It’s official, at least in my mind. Winter is here once again.

I know, I know. The firm, frozen grasp of the Old Man doesn’t really start until December 22 this season, but for me, the first day of December marks the first day of winter, and man, with all the frigid winds whipping out of the north east, with all the frozen puddles, with all the Canada geese looking over their shoulders as they tuck their tail feathers and trim the winds south, it surely does feel like winter already.

Each year we settle into our frozen solstice with different meanings. Depending what’s going on in our lives, we take on a seasonal glow, a snowy frown, a tempered tolerance for what’s in store, and although some winters it seems like a thousand years go by, before we know it, we’re beating the rugs of spring onto the doorsteps of summer, and once again the bottom corner is rounded and we head for that winter solstice once again.

Last year as we headed into the frosty window panes of winter, there was a lot going on in my life. With my own health issues cropping up, and with my lovely wife’s knee injury, I didn’t even really notice winter that much. There was so much out of the ordinary that I guess I never really paid much thought to the snow shovels, or the dipping thermometers that stared us all in the face. Winter just didn’t seem like winter, and as the holidays passed, The top of the calendar shook its head, folded its arms and smirked at me as it stretched its icicles towards spring.

Oh how I loved the winter time as a child. I lived to love the different things that the snowy season had to offer, and as I have written a few times, some of my fondest memories are piled high with the wintery drifts that captured the imagination of an energetic boy. I can still feel the frozen wind whipping past as I held onto the fastest Speedway sled in the world. Turning the corner to make the ascent down into the gravel pit and onto the ice covered ponds down at the bottom of the bowl was a sight to see. There weren’t many times that these stupendous sledding trips were able to be enjoyed, for the conditions had to be perfect. A freezing rain usually meant melting snow, but it also meant a frozen road leading down into a winter wonderland of fun.

Oh how I miss those days of my youth. Such fun. Such excitable fun, and only a frozen day away.

There were a lot of things I took for granted back then, because it was always there, especially for me. Everywhere I turned there was something that a kid could do, and do what a kid could do I did, until the knees of my already patched jeans were worn clean through. As I sit here and type, I remember the lengthy process of getting appropriately bundled up to go out in the Old Man’s winter playground. There were the long johns, the wool socks, the snowmobile suit, the knitted mittens, the scarf, the wool hat and those wonderful snowmobile boots. I felt a little like Ralphy’s little brother in A Christmas Story, but it didn’t matter, because I was a gladiator heading into battle against any man who tried to keep me from having the time of my life.

Hang on kids. If it’s snow you’re looking for, I’m sure you’ll get your share before Old Man Winter has had his last say. He has a unique way some winters of slowly piling it up until we can barely see out the kitchen window.

There was always something to do when I was a kid, and during the months of winter, there was usually a mile wide smile tailing close behind. I used to love those winters most of all.

As we move our way towards another round of holiday magic, I wish you all the wonderment of a million miles of lasting memories.

Thanks for stopping by, and while you’re at it, go grab yourself some.