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Blind Canadians Blog Posts by cferguson

The Dating Pool

I have done a completely unscientific poll among my friends about responses to dating a blind woman. Most of my “first dates” in this new life have been set up through friends. This allows me a certain degree of comfort - if a friend recommends I meet someone, I am reasonably safe assuming that person is is not an escaped felon, a paranoid schizophrenic, a 75 year old masquerading as a 50 year old, a habitual drug user or a full body art enthusiast. I do not discriminate against any person who may chose or may be chosen to live with any of those lifestyles. It is simply not my livestyle. That being said, if a friend recommends I see someone, I will probably make arrangements to meet that person.

Bucket List

I don’t have a “Bucket List”. My life has changed so much over the last year and a half, that anything I would have had on the list is now either absolutely impossible, unimportant or no longer desirable. I now understand that life throws us curve balls and the only measure of our worth is how we make those curve balls turn into RBIs. Checking off items on a list of “things to do before I die” doesn’t work for me any more. I am much more productive if I make a list of “things I am thankful for” . I do, however, have a (?)uckit list - those things I choose not to worry about.

Having said that, I am making a list of things I want to do this winter. In my past life, my ex and I parked a motor home in South West Florida for the winter.

Small Town Kindnesses

I am a walker. I walk to exercise myself, to exercise my guide dog, to breath fresh air, to clear my mind and to have an uninterrupted 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours to listen to music (one earbud only - the other ear is to listen to traffic. And yes, I have an off/on switch on the earphones to turn the tunes off at intersections, railway tracks and obstacles). I woke up this morning to the sound of a soft rain falling outside the window. Normally rain does not deter me - I don’t think I will melt. Rain does, however, deter my dog. Hope is a bit of a princess in the rain. She does not work as well when she gets wet and she abhors puddles. She will skirt around a puddle, taking me right through the centre.

Hope

I am writing this post with a head on my lap.

For those of you who follow my blog, you know I hosted Thanksgiving dinner and you know I had a few sad moments. You may not know this is a new house for me. I moved here in May. I did have a sighted friend give me the entire tour - where are the smoke detectors - where is the water / gas / power shut off - where is the electric panel - where is the furnace and how do I set the thermostat?

So here I am, hours after everyone has left. The pots have been soaking and I am scrubbing them clean. The oven had some spills so the self clean has been turned on. The smoke detectors, of course, go off.

The crazy mixed up world of blind dating

I have been single now for a year and a half and have taken the leap into the unknown waters of the dating world. Remember, I am 55. The last time I had a first date, I was 18 years old. Back in those days we went to bars, we met at school, we had lots of single friends with single friends. Finding a reasonable date was relatively easy. Finding a reasonable date at age 55 is a little more challenging.

I am always up front and make sure a potential date knows that I am blind. I always offer two choices - they can run away, as long as they are not carrying scissors, hedge clippers, or chain saws - or they can ask any and all questions they may have.

Smartie Pants

I have a stubborn streak. Surprise! My ex used to say I was the second most stubborn person he had ever met. My mother was number one. Sometimes it serves me well and sometimes it bites me in the $@#^.

When it serves me well, it allows me to be as independent as I want to be. My children call it “Cindypendence”. I draw on that stubbornness to attempt all the activities I want to engage in as a single, blind woman. When it bites me, it bites hard. However, I will bite it right back. I want to share a couple of examples of Cindypendence.

I told you I hosted my first dinner party. It was a huge success even though two fingers are bandaged. As you know, I brought very little with me when I left my past life.

Paella

Last night was my first dinner party as a single blind woman. There is a lot of baggage with this - in my past life, my ex was the OCD cleaner, so I knew the flatware and glassware was sparkling. My ex was also the collector of china and serveware (surprise!) so I knew I had any service piece I could possibly need. I left all that “stuff” behind. I now have the basics and am learning to make every piece a multi use piece and to choose dishes that don’t require sighted assistance.

However, last night, I made an exception. I make a damn good paella and a new friend wants to learn how to make paella. Perfect - I can make the dish and have a sighted friend inspect the mussels both before and after cooking. Everything was a success.

Family

So last time I talked about friends - today I am going to talk about family. I have an amazing family and over the next few months you will understand why I say my family is amazing.

One of the reasons I chose to return to this small town was because I raised my family here. My children grew up here, I established friendships here, my children established friendships here, I understand the geographical issues here and small town people know one another and everyone knows who the blind woman is. There is only one blind woman working with a dog guide in this small town, so I have no anonymity. I do have unconditional support.

Let me share an amusing story. Early this Spring, I called a friend and invited myself over for morning coffee.

Friends

I am slowly learning that when friends say they are happy to help, they really are happy to help. I have to admit that I am stubborn and try to do as much as I can independently - not sure whether I need to prove to myself that I am capable or prove to others that I am capable - regardless, I have always had difficulty asking for help.

In my old life, I didn't have to ask friends to help. My job was a stay at home Mom. I love to cook, help my children and keep a home. My ex took me to run errands, picked up things we needed and assisted in keeping the home. Now that he has been issued a one way ticket to Dumpville, I no longer have a driver. Most of my errands I can look after by myself with a back pack and a plan but some errands need a driver and a car.

Playing Bridge

I play bridge, not very well, but I enjoy the game. We play cards and we have a beverage or two, we share stories and make one another laugh. What could be better?

We take the summer off and last week the season started again. I have encountered a problem though. I use braille cards - I hold the cards with my right hand and use my left index finger to read the cards. In early July, I chopped up my left index finger with an immersion blender. It has healed nicely but the cuts were to the bone, through the nerves and I have lost all sensation in the fingertip. I have to figure out how to best make this work.

I tried holding the cards with the left hand and using the right hand to read them but that just felt awkward.

What I learned today - I'm back

I’m back!

Hello again my friends. I have been hiding for the last year, but finally Cindy is back. Some of you know the story behind my absence and some of you don’t. For those who wonder where I went I will explain below. For those of you who don’t care where I went, move on to the next blog entry - you will be bored.

My ex-husband came out of the closet last year. I chose to leave and moved back to the small town where we had raised our family. I was shocked, devastated and unprepared to live the next stage of my life as a single blind woman. My dog guide had to retire and I had plans to train with a new dog, and my mother died. I hunkered down, reassessed my life, my goals, my challenges, my dreams and came up with a new plan. So here I am - the new Cindy.

What did I learn today - A Fashion Faux Pas

Today I learned I am making a fashion faux pas, but apparently I am in very good company.    Hilary Clinton is one of the most powerful and well known women in the entire world.  Hillary Clinton and I both wear “scrunchies”.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the styling mechanisms of long hair, a scrunchie is a fabric covered elastic used to secure hair into a pony tail, a bun, a knot or any configuration pulled away from the face.  The Globe and Mail posted a blog entry this week about Mrs.

What did I learn today - Remember to play!

Last night I was reminded of the joy that play can bring.  

What did I learn today - Little Free Libraries

Today I learned about the “Little Free Library Program”.   Little Free Libraries is a grassroots outreach movement to promote literacy, libraries, a love of reading and a sense of community through free book exchanges.  

Todd Bol, from Madison, Wisconsin, wanted to find a personal and unique way to honour his mother after her death.  His mother had been a school teacher, an avid reader, and a believer in sharing her favourite books.  He built a small wooden replica of a library, filled it with books and placed it outside his home.  From that single act hundreds of other Little Free Libraries have sprung up in eight countries.  The web site lists five in Ontario!  

What did I learn today - CAPTCHAS

What Did I Learn Today

I am enrolled at Ryerson University, taking part-time distance courses towards a degree in Disability Studies.  I am registered with the Access Centre, Ryerson’s accommodation provider for students with disabilities.  This week, the Access Centre circulated a survey to students in an attempt to evaluate and improve the services they provide.   I thought to myself, here is an opportunity to recognize those things the Centre does well, make suggestions about those services where improvements should be made, and to discuss my views on accommodation versus accessibility.

What did I learn today - Canadians and Charity

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations states “Knowledge is power.  Information is liberating.  Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family”.  I believe this statement should be our guide in everything we do.  We have opportunities to learn something new everyday.   Learning can be through formal education, classes at our local community centre, reading a newspaper or interacting with others.  Learning and education are lifelong activities and I have decided to try to learn something new everyday.  When my children were in elementary school I would ask them at dinner, “What did you learn today?”  Now I ask myself, “What did I learn today?”

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