Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lake Jo Trip and Reflections

Lake Jo Vacation Blog

*Saturday, August 21:

It's the evening before I head off. I'm sitting on my couch writing this on my netbook. My desktop PC is playing new age music through my Bose Companion3 speakers. The Logitec V20 speakers I have for the netbook are quite good but you simply can't get comparable sound through USB speakers. The weather has been splendid for most of the week. It's rainy and humid today though. A nice breeze is, however, a strong point in the day's favour though and I like not needing my AC on. Tomorrow at around this time, I'll no doubt be all settled into my cabin and listening to the traditional porch meting. They'll go over the rules I've heard countless times before and cover any offsite excursions available. That presumes that there stil are any left. I've noticed the quality and quantity of such trips rapidly declining over the past number of visits.

This year's casualty seems to be the trip out to the Legeon for an evening of drink and music. For many of us long-time Lake Jo visitors, this was a right of passage dividing the kids and teens from the adults. I'll miss it on those grounds. As for alcohol, I can certainly do without that for a week. I wouldn't be surprised if the staff takes a lot of flak for this despite the fact that the tripwas cancelled due to the closure of the Legeon, a sad event completely out of the Lake Jo management's control.

Two years have passed since my last visit to Lake Jo. They've been pretty eventful to say the least. A future in which I was happilly married to someone I was completely confident truly loved me lay before me. There would be brand new places to go with someone who deeply valued my company. Janene will never truly grasp how devastating her leaving me was. All those possibilities and that sense of my virtues finally leading me to a better less solitary life snuffed out in less than an hour. I couldnt have faced goingback to Lake Jo that Summer even had it still been possible. Since then, I've had altogether too much time alone. Also, I've at last moved out on my own and have therefore taken up those chores of everyday life. For the foreseeable future, it looks like Lake Jo is going to be my only affordable vacation destination. Provided funding cuts and safety concerns don't completely destroy the Lake Jo experience, I'm prepared once again to make the best of my time there.

It looks like they're strongly discouraging people from bringing computers and electronics. Having spent two years writing a computer guide which I dedicated to the centre, this disturbs me. Lake Jo is one of the few places where blind people have a splendid opportunity to network and potentially help those in the community who otherwise would never be encountered. People should at the least come equipped to note down information necessary to keep in touch with people they meet there. While I can sympathise with the attempt to have kids and teens part for a while with their digital lives, it should always be the choice for adults to bring whatever they feel will enhance their vacation. This netbook will be up there with me for a whole host of reasons. Not the least of which is to fill the gaps where everyone is engaged in activities which don't interest me. A prime example of this is Bingo. I have absolutely no use for that game. Particularly when activities are geared to the lowest common dinominator, it would be foolish indeed for me to come unprepared to amuse myself. There's also the unfortunate possibility that most of my fellow vacationers will, for various reasons including missing mental marbles, not make for very good conversation. As the more attractive excursions are stripped away, this becomes increasingly more likely as the more independant and successful blind people find other vacation options. Hopefully, for at least a portion of life, I too will be able to explore more of the world with good friends or, dare I hope, a new special lady? That would be splendid but I'm far passed holding my breath while I wait. I've come to terms with being single as much as an extravert can. These solitary saturdays do tend to drag on though. For the next week, such isolated stretches will be a thing of the past. If I'm very lucky, someone will say something which inspires ideas for Enchantment's Twilight.

I'm fairly certain I've packed everything I'll need. One suitcase and my netbook bag. Nice and compact. It'll be interesting to get a feel for the staff near the very end of their season. They'll have all the experience under their belts but what kind of shape will the guests of the past weeks have left them in? Even if the camper crowd falls flat, I can't recall a year in which I didn't have lots of brief but interesting conversations with staff members. At the very least, that's something to look forward to. Well, it's time I saved this and got some sleep in my own bed for the last time this week. Later, everyone.

*Thursday: August 26

It's been a pretty good week this year. The staff here are doing a teriffic job and are a lot less frazzled than I would have expected. I've enjoyed my days here. There are thankfully enough sane people around to have a good amount of conversation and hang out with. Unfortunately, there are the usual number of people that I can't help wishing weren't here. One man in particular has always unwittingly vexed me. He's a nice man but is incredibly hard to understand and deal with despite his good intentions. He has a way of always appearing when and where you least want him to be. That has the effect of killing an good conversation in progress as everyone,myself included, feels compelled to try and answer his questions, laugh at his pathetic jokes, etc. He has to repeat said information numerous times before anybody is able to understand it. I feel for him. Life with such problems must be very frustrating indeed. However, I'm trying to enjoy a vacation and he frankly often gets in the way. You want to tell him to get lost but the very thought of doing so makes you cringe inwardly at such cruelty even while the thought brings with it a certain sadistic pleasure.

The only things I've signed up for program-wise are pontoon cruises and a trip to the Legion. Thankfully, it has re-opened. Other than that, I've simply been hanging around, chatting with staff and campers, and generally enjoying the different environs. I've spent a lot of time just strolling around the paths and boardwalk or relaxing in the chairs down by the shore of the lake. There comes a point at the end of the boardwalk most distant from the dining hall where ramps lead downward in three directions. You can step partially onto the ramp in front of you and just hear your surroundsings open up completely in the 180-degree arc ahead of you. Nothing but distant wind, water, birds, and the occasional distant trafic noise. Down by the lake, you can at times hear honest to God unrecorded unprocessed waves. Relatively small ones, but jenuine waves nonetheless.

They don't have wifi up here so I have to hook the netbook into the ethernet cable from the back of another computer. Hope they get wifi up and running for next year. It really shouldn't be rocket science. I checked my email a total of three times and don't plan on doing much more than that online until I'm home again. The music and other audio content I've got on my hard drive has, however, come in quite handy. There are periods each day where the folks to make for good conversation are doing other stuff. Also, some people have shown an interest in what they've heard me listening to and doing. It's damned nice not to be in a situation where my interests feel so irrelevent to those around me. There are a bunch of people who want to keep in contact after the holiday is over. Whether that leads anywhere other than to yet more people to correspond with online and never see other than when we chance to go to Lake Jo the same week remains an open question. A week really isn't long enough to judge the strength of personal connections made but I'll keep as open and positive a mind about it as I reasonably can.

*Friday, august 27:

The final day of vacation is well underway. Itt's somewhat quiet. The trip to the Legion was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. There's some sort of cold going around which I may or may not have caught. Poor Fay seems to have picked it up the strongest. Despite its effect and not having any alcohol, she still had a splendid time. Derek cut loose with his wonderful singing voice when they played Sweet Caroline and Fay was in stitches. Thank goodness he and enough other rational folks are around here. Last night at dinner, Brett had bothered me to the point of getting up and leaqving or giving him a right good thump in the head. Thankfully, I ended up thinking of something which just set me offf laughing. Can't remember for the life of me what it was but I just couldn't stop laughing. The frustration just melted away. I just can't handle Mike and Brett as gracefully as I feel I morally ought to. Part of it is my frustration with not really having a group of friends to hang out with on a regular basis. I'd give a great deal just to have folks around my age close enough to pop out for coffee, to the pub, attend local events, etc with. It always seems like my efforts should lead to more of that in life. The fact that this has yet to occur isn't really their fault at all. However, during a week where I'm around people who at least share some of my life experience, it ticks me off to no end when good conversations are brought to a screeching hault or otherwise spoiled by having to contend with their unwitting disruption.

I'm not going to go in the water this afternoon due to the chilly breeze. The sun is very nice but that wind would do me in if I got wet. Instead, I'll hang out down by the waterfront and perhaps see what my crank radio is able to pull in. The solar panel ought to do well today. People will be around to talk to.

I got lucky. There were a good sane bunch of people to chat with down there. It's now approaching four thirty. I believe I've had enough sun for now. I dropped by the welcome centre where I had an interesting conversation with another camper and a minor tussle with Brett who made said conversation difficult. Thankfully, I emerged from this one in somewhat better form having attempted once again to explain why and how much I was annoyed by him. I doubt it'll do any good at all but I never came close to losing control. Better that than to be saved by an errant humorous thought.

My cane finally decided to break yesterday. The elastic band which holds it together has snapped. I hope I can get it fixed. The cane itself hasn't bent or worn down at all otherwise. When I'm home again, I'll have to order another spare cane.

*Tuesday August 31:

No, I'm not still at Lake Jo. On saturday, Mark and Wendy picked me up as planned. We had a very good day together visiting Mark's parents and other family members at their cottage. We ended the evening with a meal at a pretty good burger place in Barry and a walk by the waterfront before heading home. It's been quite a while since I've done that much walking without a cane but Mark and Wendy have guided me places for years and I felt totally safe. Everything was perfectly in order in my apartment. However, that wasn't and still isn't the case with me. I in fact did catch something while I was up there. A dry cough and stuffed head has persisted for the past couple of days to the point where my skull aches at times when I cough. My nose is less runny than it's been and my throat feels less sore so I believe I'm over the worst of it. However, my hearing is still degraded by this thing. It's like someone's wrapped my head in cotton that I have to hear through. Thank goodness nothing like this struck me when I first moved in here. I can navigate the apartment by feel alone if it came to that. My sleeping is all out of wack again. I've been compelled by exhaustion to spend a good amount of yesterday in bed. I slept solidly from eight o'clock to around five this morning when I simply had to get up for a couple of hours. I then ran out of energy and slept for another hour and a half. As I write this, it's approaching ten in the morning. Hopefully, I'm up for the day now. Good thing I cancelled my mobility lesson. It would have been pointless today.

I managed to get my laundry done yesterday. Also, the order of groceries I put in on my return arrived and it's all safely stowed. I forgot to add a couple of English cukumbers to the order. Mom is going to get those for me as well as some medication. Boxes which I had presumed were still well stocked after my last illness turned out not to be. Oops. Other than another load of laundry to do later this week, I don't have anything else on the radar other than finding out how to renew my CNIB card and sending emails to everyone at Lake Jo who gave me their contact info. I doubt I'll be good for much else if this illness persists. Overall, I still think of myself as a healthy person. I don't get clobbered by this sort of thing that often. It's supremely annoying when one's number comes up though.

While I've been unable to do much creatively, I've been listening to a book all about loneliness and solitude. It contains a great deal of food for thought. On the UC Burkely scale of loneliness, I apparently rate a 27 which is considered high. However, it appears that what I face is situational loneliness rather than the more mind-warping chronic kind. That sounds pretty fierce to contend with. You start seeing people as threats, shy away from social opportunities, and may lose your grasp on words. Not fun. I feel a lot better about how I'm coping with the comparatively mild but still vexing degree of solitude I face in life. As I age, I'll have to look out for symtoms of the more severe chronic loneliness. For the present, I believe things are moving, if ever so slowly, in a positive less lonely direction. People are starting to know me better in my church and around my building. Admittedly, I've ended up eating food I had purchased originally hoping to share with guests this Summer. I can't remember any occasion where more than three of the seeting spots I've furnished this place with have been filled with visitors other than family. However, it's early days yet. I find that I'm being asked to go out more often. This might make for a less solitary uneventful winter this year. That would be nice.

The trip to Lake Jo certainly makes me reflect on where I truly fit. I seem to be right at the crux of the divide between the blind and sighted communities. I've experienced a week of social fulfillment of a sort among people who share some of my life experiences. A week where finding conversation with people who were actually present was far easier than it normally is. People who had some actual concept of how much a barrier transportation, unemployment and potential cast aside by society at large can be. They know what it can be to have so much of life out of one's independant reach. I met people there who seemed to have faired better than I have in some ways. Some had found meaningful employment or were married. Pretty much everyone was, however, grateful that Lake Jo was available as a point of contact with other blind or visually impaired people. I've come away with some renewed hope of eventually finding more overall happiness in life than I have to this point. There are some good people out there who might see their way to opening more of life's opportunities in love and possibly employment than have presented themselves so far. I just have to keep on working away at my projects, try to help who I'm able to, keep jumping at social opportunities, and find as much contentment in my situation as is possible.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Achieving Better Life Balance

Hello everyone. It's another sunday morning. I've been up since six. There's a potluck lunch today and I'm doing some of my potatoes. They're smelling quite good at the moment if I do say so myself. Haven't wrecked a batch in a while but there's always that unhappy possibility. I've also never had these sit for as long as they're going to before being eaten as they will be today. Guess we'll see how that works. Either way you slice it, these lunches are always enjoyable.

Last evening, I went out with Mark and Wendy to a local pub called Lion Heart. A little on the pricy side but the food was quite good. I'll be seeing those two good people in a couple of weeks when they bring me back home from my week's vacation at Lake Joseph. They're absolute treasures of friends. Mark took a look at the sound card inside my computer as the headphone jacks weren't working well. He left thinking he had failed to acomplish anything but seems to have manage to unwittingly fix the problem in splendid fashion. We were all a bit too full to embark on a walk around the lake after supper but I've been doing that a lot myself lately. I went out for such a stroll yesterday morning and ran into a fundraising event for Parkinson's sufferers. I had the chance to chat with one of the organisers and got some information to go over. I also at last got around to exploring that fenced courtyard and pool area that I always pass while going out to the path around the lake. Met a nice woman in charge of a couple of little ones and had a pleasant talk. I've been running into more people out there these days. I guess that's how it all starts. Over time, more people will begin to have a sense of who I am. It certainly helps me feel less cut off from everyone. While I still hope to find some way to volunteer locally somewhere, I don't have the same urgent drive about that. Now that I'm plugging away at Enchantment's Twilight again, I at least feel like I'm keeping up my end of the bargain. One day, I'll say the right thing to the right person who'll actually have a more immediate need for my gifts and unlike everyone else, I'll be available. Meanwhile, I've still got Sandy to consider. He's starting to feel like learning to do more with his computer. His poor health and sensitive nature plus the robbery have all conspired to make things slow to a crawl. I just taught him for the second time how to use Kurzweil to read his mail. I hope he sticks with it and it becomes a habit. He spent hours ripping all of the CDs that remain to him in case this mysterious bandit returns. It must have taken him hours of mindless drudgery to go through that even if it's only a fraction of the hundreds he had collected over the years.

I went out earlier this week with a bunch of people from church. Joseph just got a tatoo of Scrabble tiles of his initials. He seems to be happy with the result. It was good to enjoy an evening like that. Those sorts of things do a great deal to build my sense of belonging. Everyone was able to just relax for a couple of hours and actually converse. There's a growing sense that I'll eventually truly hit my stride and achieve a more lasting life balance. Hopefully, that will sharply decrease the chances of such long patches of creativity blockage as I've experienced.

Thank goodness! The potatoes turned out roughly as I had hoped. They weren't rendered rock-hard or anything so ghastly as that would have been. The lunch went quite well and my potatoes disappeared quickly. I'm home for a while listening to the Mosen Explosion on
as I sip a delicious cooler with ice. It has a strong cherry flavour. Later on, I'll be heading out to dinner with my family. The kids are coming over also.

It's now monday afternoon. I found myself quite tired after returning from last night's dinner and went to bed early. Consequently, I got up rather early. The two munchkins were up to their usual cute and chaotic antics. Amia is starting to grasp that I'm blind. However, I don't think she quite understands yet that I can't see anything at all and never have. She looks forward to going to school. I'm not certain Ava is quite as keen on education but she'll doubtless hit her stride in the new school soon enough. Dan's working much closer to home now in a Keg in Hamilton. That should help free him up and cut down on whatever commuting costs.

I've had an excellent afternoon and evening. Most of it was spent outside. I walked to the mall and back twice. The first time was to try withdrawing money by myself from one of the ATM machines using earbuds and their speech capability. It was very easy. I accidentally went into the basket ball area and thereby met a nice young fellow named Justin who helped me back over to the path. I had just finished talking with Sandy after returning from that walk when one of the two Shirleys I've met called to see if I wanted to go for a walk. It was a great day for it and she's always interesting to talk with. They're still doing construction out there but that hasn't been much of a bother so far. After a nice long chat on one of the more shady benches, I went to Symposium Cafe to take advantage of the burger and beer special on monday evenings. Been meaning to do that more often this summer but just never got around to it. The burger was excellent, the beer selection was sadly lacking, and the chocolate mousse cake and special coffee I ordered completely obliterated any savings on the main course. Cesar came up to say hello. First time that's happened when I've been there alone. It's certainly good that there's at least a slim possibility that I won't always end up eating alone while there. On the way back, I met a couple who have a blind nephew. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I've no doubt I'll be hearing from them again soon. Days like this make up for a lot of dull and empty ones. That's for certain.

Over the past while, I've added a bunch of new music to my instrumental and pop song collection. Hilights in the pop department include Charlotte Perrelli's album Hero. A number of nifty songs there including You're Never Alone, Show Me A Mountain and Adicted. FM, a band from the eighties, coughed up an excellent song called Does it Feel Like Love. For my instrumental collection, I purchased the Ladyhawk soundtrack as well as several albums each from Michael Gettel and Zen Garden. The stuff I've heard so far from them sounds great so I got impulsive and splurged on those two. Nice to have at least one area in life where I can actually afford to be a bit impulsive. On that note, I believe I'll get this posted and, get some sleep. Catch you later everyone.