Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Splendid Fleeting Summer

Hello everyone. June and July have hurtled past at great speed. I feel like I'm on the crest of a wave. This has been a very unique vibrant Summer of interesting ideas and events. Sara and I have done a whole lot together since last I posted in mid June. I really didn't mean for a whole two months to go by before posting again.

The only sensible thing to do is try and write down my thoughts of these events in the order they happened. The graduation ceremony was very interesting. I never went to my own secondary school graduation. I just didn't feel connected enough. Hearing such a ceremony take place all these years later in a school I left after only two and a bit years was an interesting and satisfying look at a road not taken. The staff gave out awards for all sorts of things including attitude and citizenship. Unlike my own secondary school experience, I think they had a far more holistic sense of connection with their school. Extracurricular activities played a big role for them. I just didn't have the same opportunities in that area. I hope some of that activity gives them a better shot at jobs and such.

None of the school felt at all familiar. I wouldn't have recognized any of the staff, even the couple of them who ultimately recognized me. It all sounded unfamiliar. There weren't many people who I would have known as students. However, a lot of people who attended were friends I had met elsewhere in life. There were times over the weekend where I had no idea where to go or who was there. They never did any kind of role-call so there may well have been people I would have enjoyed meeting but didn't know were around. There was no good Internet connection there. This didn't inconvenience me but seriously hampered at least one workshop I attended where iPHONE capabilities were to be demonstrated. As I attend more of these reunions, I'll get to know more people and the experience should improve in that area. Sara is involved with the alumni and I had no desire to interfere with her duties. I expected there to be the odd dull moment as a result. It was quite fun most of the time and I'd certainly go again if the opportunity presents itself. Perhaps, staying in a dorm room would be a good move next time. Cab fare ate up considerable cash.

Sadly, Sara's excellent guide dog Rocky reached a point of deterioration where he had to be put down. he had begun to have real trouble standing to eat and moving was painful for him. It was an unexpectedly quick deterioration for her companion of ten years. I'm glad I could help Sara and her parents to fill his last days with plenty of pats, praise and love. He certainly deserved nothing less. It's been strange not having him present even for me. I've never encountered a dog as calm and obedient as he was. Sara has begun the process of applying for her next guide dog. Meanwhile, we've both attended Canada Day celebrations and done other things without him. The habit of treading carefully around my apartment for fear of stepping on a leg or tail while Sara was over has yet to leave me. For a creature who couldn't speak a single word, Rocky has left quite a legacy. I'm glad he could still enjoy things despite the pain and difficulty he was in right to the end.

Canada Day was spent at a party thrown by the Hoods. That's become a sort of family tradition over the years. The conversation was quite enjoyable as was the food and drink. Sara was fully able to enjoy the occasion. That means a great deal to me. Social connections and friendships are really the building blocks of life. Even when these relationships are more tangential most of the time, they still matter. We got our fireworks in earlier at an equally good party we attended with Sara's family. Getting to know them has been an interesting process for me. There was lots of time for that during the last visit. They love their sitcoms. In particular, there's the Big Bang Theory. I've now gained at least a modicum of exposure to that realm of geekdom. There are a lot of really clever bits of dialogue and banter. It's the sort of thing which I completely understand how people might logically presume I'd be hooked on. That just doesn't happen with me and any sitcoms. For them, they're a quite enjoyable way to spend an evening as their minds relax after a hard working day. The humour is there demanding one pay enough attention to get the jokes but the steaks aren't all that high should concentration waver. Not like with the documentaries I enjoy or Babylon 5. That show really demands that you pay attention and watch faithfully since each episode is part of a huge sprawling novel. I'll be keenly interested in seeing how Sara's parents handle retirement particularly on the entertainment level. They're very hard-working and basically focus their social time on family rather than friends. That's another area where I wonder if change will occur when the pressure and purpose their work best owes upon them is lifted away.

During that visit before Canada Day, we advanced preparations for our wedding next year. It'll take place on June 7th. The reception hall and church have been booked. More detailed work will take place closer to the day. I don't foresee any major issues or points of conflict. It ought to be a great day in our lives and for family and friends who can attend. I feel very good about things. As much as I've come to enjoy single life, I'm very glad there's a definite point of passage now.

Thanks to my tax refund and a generous bit of help from my parents, money is less of a worry than it otherwise would have been this Summer. I don't quite have the flexibility I was once used to having. However, I'll end the Summer in a reasonably good place without credit card debt. July in particular has been a remarkably enjoyable time. That good time certainly came with a price tag but was nothing like engagement plus holidays. Being away so much has also lowered my grocery bill somewhat. This next month should see a slow-down in excursions. I'll be able to attend the Peel Multicultural Centre more regularly. I've made some interesting acquaintances there and think the prospects for real friendships are quite high age gap not withstanding. There's a genuine interest in each other's knowledge and experience which I've found very refreshing. Work on the presentation I'll be giving at the CNIB National Braille conference at the end of October will speed up. I've set it aside and really enjoyed July but feel the need to crack on the effort over August. There's also the next newsletter for the Disability Concerns office. Lots to keep me pretty busy.

It's Wednesday, July 30. Sara has gone back to Brantford. We've seen a great deal of each other over the past while and have enjoyed that thoroughly. We went to the Murgaski cottage with Steve and his parents and had a splendid time. The weather wasn't hot enough for me to want to swim but I got out on a boat ride. We also enjoyed plenty of fresh air, food, drink and conversation. After the cottage weekend, we were all able to have a superb dinner with Michelle McQuigge at the Granite Brewery. Steve managed the navigating beautifully as he always seems to. Michelle couldn't join us on the cottage trip so it was good to be able to spend some time with her. I find it really gratifying that traditions and familiar haunts are starting to appear more in life. I feel so much more connected these days. Connected and able to give more back to society. I also feel blessed to have time to balance things out.

I've reflected on a great many things over the past couple of months. My relationship with Sara is in a very good place. It's different when you need to plan out visits and can't just see each other nearly every day as Janene and I were able to. There's a kind of ebb and flow in intensity. The growth of attraction and understanding of each other happens in a more spaced out fashion which gives time fore contemplation and longing to see one another between visits. Each of us also has more of a sense of two lives revealing aspects and aligning with each other as we invest time in getting to know what and who matters in our estimation. By the time Sara moves in with me here at the apartment, I think we'll both have a sense that it's totally comfortable, natural and about time we took that step. Meanwhile, we'll continue to enjoy aspects of our separate lives.

It's Thursday afternoon. I had an interesting half-day at the Peel Multicultural Centre. This after crashing early last night and consequently finding myself damnably wide awake at a little past four in the morning. I put the time to good use and wrote handouts about safe and fun destinations on the Internet. As things turned out, they weren't needed. We spent the time learning about Microsoft Word. My knowledge of that word processor is somewhat out of date these days. I've had absolutely no need for it in close to a decade. I heard how two very different teaching styles impacted our little group. I can use that to change my own approach a little when I present my material next week. |I'm glad I was at my most wakeful while there. I seem to be losing my energy now. I'll have to finish this tomorrow.

Gosh! It's August now. I've enjoyed July so much that I don't even feel cheated by the speed of time. I'm on the balcony enjoying a delicious thermos of coffee. The banking is done. I ended up going over my data limit on the Internet this month but only by a little. I'll be working on my grocery order today among other things. Other mundane concerns include such joys as vacuuming, mopping the floor, cooking and doing the dishes. No special plans this weekend. I'll try and get out for a walk or two around the lake. I haven't done nearly as much of that as I thought I would this Summer. Given all the writing I'll be working on this month, I may well atone for that as I strive to keep mental fog and writer's block at a safe distance. There's plenty to read and listen to.

For everything that ends up noted in these long blog posts, there are a million little points of interest which fall through the cracks. Sara and I have listened to many fascinating podcasts and some truly excellent audio dramas this Summer. The Dorian Gray series by Big Finish was a real highlight. The CBC gave us the Live Through This and How To Do It radio shows. The old standby From Our Own Correspondents presented by the BBC has remained the fountain of fascination I've always found it to be. NPR has added Snap Judgement and Ted Talks Radio Hour to the mix. These shows have lead to some very good conversations, interesting books to add to our libraries and pleasure of learning about all sorts of stuff.

It's mid afternoon now. I've done my chores and am once again on my balcony. Thought there might be a start the weekend show on one of the Internet radio stations but there doesn't seem to be. I'll check again at four. A new game called Paladin of the Sky has been released. I've mucked around with it briefly. It has a pretty generous demo. Sound presentation could be better. Looks like whoever developed this was somewhat strapped for cash. The game play seems somewhat shallow to me. There are large maps which take quite a while to explore. That exploration really doesn't strike me is a whole lot of fun. There are apparently hidden objects which you need to be lucky enough to stand on the right spot and somehow psychically intuit that you should hit the enter button to find. I'm fine with the idea of hiding object sounds amid other background sounds. Having absolutely silent objects in the middle of empty inactive maps just doesn't seem sporting. Combat seems somewhat luck-based although the magical attack system seems promising. I don't think I'll be paying the $30 price. Not enough gang for buck at least as far as my initial admittedly brief glimpse has revealed. In other recent gaming news, we can apparently expect something more from the developer of A Dark Room in the near future. Now there's something I'd have confidence to grab right off the bat. We also have the recent release of She Noire. It bills itself as the first accessible hidden object adventure game. I'm really torn about that one. Its price is high at around $30 taking the exchange rate with the Euro into account. There's no demo available. I have yet to see very much reaction to the game anywhere. There were days when I'd have jumped at all these things just to stave off boredom and be one of the first to take a crack at them. The temptation is still there but there are other considerations and priorities. I'm very grateful for that.

It's Saturday, August 2. I hope my friend Steve Murgaski is enjoying his birthday. I certainly am out here on my balcony. The weather is excellent. So was an early brunch. One of the podcasts I occasionally listen to is Documentaries from the BBC. I finally got around to hearing an episode on the possibility of ending the death penalty in the US. I learned that it's actually less expensive to maintain a prisoner for a life sentence than it is to administer the death penalty. I never would have thought that to be the case. Quite the reverse. My major objections to the penalty are that it removes any chance of atonement or redemption. This is true both for the guilty person as well as for society when someone innocent is unfairly sentenced to death. I'm put in mind of the Truscott case where it was later discovered that a wrongful conviction had taken place. At least in that instance, some restitution could be made for all of that man's lost years. Plenty more podcasts await my listening pleasure. There should also be some good online radio shows on today.

Just got back from a splendid walk around the lake a couple of times. I met and briefly chatted with a couple of people. It was a little hot so I'm not surprised there weren't as many people as I initially thought there might be. I came in a different way by mistake but my neighbour happened to be coming back in as well. That hasn't happened to me in quite a while. I usually hit the entrance dead on. Guess I've gotten out of practice. It really has been a busy Summer.

My relationship with this blog has certainly changed over the years. There days, I tend to record short audio postings on a service called:

I still feel that maintaining this blog is an important contribution I can make both to my own mental health and to society at large. I have no plans to stop posting entries here. There's something that just feels good about taking time to write down the happennings in one's life. Every once in a while, someone will stumble on my blog and find it of interest. In terms of what I give to siciety, I hope people can get a bit of a better sense of what live as a blind person on ODSP can be like. People either tend to presume that it's all grim and sad or that we have it incredibly easy and should be whipped into working. A whole host of things determines how well the system works for people. This is true both when it comes to employment prospects and when those prospects just don't pan out and people must make the best of the generocity of the state. I happen to be one of the latter despite considerable efforts to the contrary. It is possible, I contend, to live a good, productive and enjoyable life. I hope people see that and perhaps judge chronically unemployed people they meet less harshly. I think the recession has done some real good in that department. A good many fully able healthy people have gotten a taste of the kind of hopeless quest to make one's mark and earn one's keep which their fears and misperceptions plus actual disability have conspired to make people like me face.

One thing which I'd love to see would be a more facilitated way into volunteering in one's community. I was largely kept from doing that much at a younger age due to lack of transportation options. other blind people are really great at getting around and might not need that. However, insomnia might face them making one's best most wakeful hours uncertain. Perhaps, there's no good way of finding a best fit for everyone. I took a walk around the lake with my iPHONE and seem to have gotten lucky this year. I guess as long as people find ways of reaching out, something will probably happen eventually. It can just take a lot more time, faith and patience than it ought to.