Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Loster? More Lost?

If I had one of those little books which lists all of the obscure holidays, I would surely find that November 30th is International Get Lost Day. Next year I will know not to leave my house on this day.

Around 6 o'clock this evening, I realized that I was out of dog food for tomorrow. I feed a raw diet and thought I had purchased enough food, but my retired Boarder Collie guide, Gracy is here to visit so I miscalculated the number of mouthes to feed.. No problem, I'd just search the bus schedule, hop a bus and grab some marked-down turkey, and be back in an hour.

I Grabbed my phone and braille display, harnessed up the Dobermuffin, and off we went. We walked the seven or so blocks to the bus stop and only had to wait about two minutes when Laveau alerted me to the arrival of the bus. She guided me toward the door, and I waved at the driver so he knew we were going to ride. He responded by driving off in a cloud of fumes. I responded to his response by swearing... a lot... in a few languages.

I searched the bus company's website for the next bus' arrival. I waited. I texted with friends and Mister Pawpower. I practiced swearing some more.

Finally the buss pulled up again, and I got on. The driver was the same driver from before and he told me that he didn't see me standing there the first time. Which means that he was outright lying, or that he was very unobservant because I was waving at him and yelling for him to stop as he drove off. But whatever, I was on the bus and surely I was headed toward marked down turkey parts and by this point I was thinking seriously about a trip down the liquor section for medicinal reasons, of course.

We arrive at my stop, and the driver tells me that I should just go straight and I'd end up at the grocery store. Yes, fellow readers, my blog is like watching a horror movie where the ignorant heroin blithely ignores all of the signs of danger and continues onward. Why did I take directions from a driver who was so unobservant? I don't know, my best answer is that the cold slows down my thinking process. And I know to you yankees up in the frozen north are laughing at my version of cold, but really, 50 degrees is like, almost an ice-age.

Laveau and I get off the bus, and I tell her "forward!" And forward she goes. And goes, and goes, and goes... And that's when she walks me right over the train tracks. .....
Train tracks? Cue more swearing. Then Laveau alerts me to the noise, which signifies a train coming. We immediately turn around, and head the other direction. I tell Laveau to "find the inside." Eventually, she does! I thought we'd be wandering out there forever, in some kind of parking lot hell.

We go to the service counter, where we are assigned to someone who must have skipped high-school biology. When I asked her for turkey, she took me to the fish section. Who knows what they're doing in factory farms these days, but I am not remotely interested in seeing the cross breed of a turkey and a crawfish. Eventually the grocery lady figures out that turkey is in the section with the chickens, and we grab the required dog food. Thankfully my journey after that was pretty relaxed. However the cabby who took me home didn't have change for a twenty, so I gave him all of my ones instead, which didn't add up to the total cost of my trip. However twenty was way over-paying him. The cabby got grouchy with me, and I advised him to visit a bank before he started working.

I think I'm going to go to bed now, and not get up until tomorrow. Surely December 1st is International Pennies From Heaven Day, and my luck will have changed for the better.

On another topic entirely, you know you're playing their music too loudly when the Deaf neighbor can feel the rhythmic vibrations coming through the floor, and when said vibrations set the Deaf neighbor's Deaf dog to barking! Now where'd I put that liquor?

I Once Was Lost but...

This morning we went to the field down the road that is a sort of dog park. In the afternoon, the children use the basketball hoop and baseball field, but the mornings-- especially in the fall and winter-- are for the dogs. The park is fenced in, and takes up an entire city block.

I took Bristol, Laveau, and Baylee, and instead of using her harness, Laveau just guided me using her leash (leash-guiding). We arrived and the dogs snuffed around and played with some other dogs. Laveau, of course, found a random tennis ball and I spent the next hour throwing it. I need to put one of those "chuck-it" things on my holiday list, or something, because after a while tennis balls get yucky. The dogs played some more, Bristol alternately begged for treats, flirted with people, and read/replied to the pee-mail. Soon it was time to leave.

Usually, I enter the park through the eastern gate. I walk in a straight line from the gate and always keep in mind where it is in relation to me. Well this morning, I obviously had not imbibed the required amounts of tea for my brain to be at optimum functioning level because I realized, about half-way through our romp that I had no idea where the gate was. I got the girls leashed up, ad told Laveau to "find the outside," which means for her to find the nearest exit. She found a gate, but it wasn't *our* gate. I had no idea where I was. I told Laveau to "find home" and in five minutes we were on the porch. All that without a harness, I'm proud of her.

Now I'm off to read more of my book, "V is for Vengeance" by Sue Grafton. I love new books in much-beloved series.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I AM! the Inspiration! Baby!

This post is for the November edition of the <"Disability Blog Carnival">

I sit with my ASL teacher in a coffee shop. Today's lesson is about drugs, alcohol, and swear words.
My teacher begins, and I rest my hands atop hers. With her right hand she spells out "cocaine" and then makes the sign. I repeat it back to her. My teacher pauses, and then tells me that someone has walked up to our table. My teacher then begins interpreting this lady's words. "I saw you sitting over here and I wanted to come and tell you how inspirational you are. I think it is so amazing that even though you are both deaf and blind, you can come here all by yourself, and get coffee all by yourself. It's wonderful that you have special friends who can talk to you. I love watching you, and I think you are so inspirational." Before I can begin to compose something sufficiently snarky, she walks away. My teacher laughs, I laugh, and we joke about cocaine being inspirational. Then she jokingly says that the ASL sign for "inspirational" should be my new name sign, because I AM! the inspiration, baby.

I am in the mall with my SSP, and we are waiting at the Apple Store for the Geniuses to fix my Mac. We are deep into a discussion of dog poop, when a young woman comes up to us and says: "I think sign language is so beautiful. I just love watching you guys signing to each other. That is so special, and wonderful. Tell her that she's inspirational." The young woman leaves, and we roll our eyes and make my new inspirational name sign, which has become a joke amongst all of my friends.

I have a staff meeting for work. The room we are using is full because another meeting was taking place in there and had run late. My interpreters arrive, and we sit down in the lobby and begin chatting while we wait for the room to empty. I am telling a funny story about a misadventure I'd had earlier in the week, and then I leave to check to see if the meeting room had emptied. a client of my agency says: "Wow, is she deaf or deaf and blind?" My interpreter tells her that I'm Deafblind. The lady's eyes widen and she says: "Wow! and you have the biggest smile on your face when you talk to her. That is so amazing, I'll bet it's like talking to an angel from heaven." My interpreter tries not to laugh, and replies that no, she is smiling because I was telling her a funny story. The client then tells my interpreter that it is such a blessing that she can still laugh even though she is deaf and blind, and that I am an inspiration. Upon my return, my interpreter repeats this entire conversation back to me, and we roll our eyes and make the sign.

Whenever my friends or family tell embarrassing stories about me, or tease me, or play practical jokes on me, I remind them that I am an angel from heaven, and an inspiration and that they'd best give me the proper reverence or I may stick a whoopee cushion under their chair the next time we're at a restaurant. Don't mess with me! I AM! the INSPIRATION, baby! And don't you forget it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop and Go Laveau

It seems that the Pawpower Pack got together and decided that this week it was Laveau's turn to be led around by the nose... Well maybe not by the nose, exactly but...

Yesterday I was in the kitchen letting the dogs in from the yard when I realized that Laveau hadn't gone out at all. I let the other dogs in, and then called Laveau to go outside. Laveau has a great recall, so I was surprised when she didn't recall to my side right away. I called again, and again she didn't come to me, so I went searching for her. I found her, trying to walk toward me, but having an awfully hard time of it because Baylee had taken hold of Laveau's collar in her mouth and was trying to hold her back because she wanted Laveau to stay inside and play with her. I think Mister Pawpower is going to have his hands full with Miss Stripes!

Today we were getting all of the dogs ready to go for a walk. I decided that Laveau would guide me, and Mill'E-Max would walk on my right, with Mister Pawpower taking Bristol and Baylee. I got Laveau harnessed up, and clipped her leash to her collar. Then I turned to help the other dogs get ready. I turned around with Mill'E-Max's leash in hand, only to find her walking off, Laveau's leash in her mouth, so that Laveau had no choice but to go with her. I have no idea what was going through her mind when she decided to walk the dog herself. Maybe I could hire her out as a dog walker?

Although Mill'E-Max did somewhat redeem herself today by picking up a dropped hot dog from the floor and giving it back to me. Of course I no longer wanted it, since it was covered with dog spit and floor germs, so I gave it back to her as her reward for giving it to me to begin with. I will continue to wonder what people who don't have dogs do for entertainment.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Pawsuit of Happiness

Today we went to a festival, which is hardly newsworthy, seeing how New Orleans seems to be the festival capitol of the world. This was a festival which was different than most; it was for pets. They had different booths and activities. It was me, Laveau, Mister Pawpower, Baylee, and my SSP.

We arrived and my SSP laughed because as we were entering the festival grounds, Laveau had to walk by a large lake. The path was right next to the lake and at one point, she took me near the edge so she could stare with great longing at the water. I am blind, and can't read her facial expression, but even I could feel her mental wheels turning. She loves to swim. But this was not on our schedule for today. After she gazed her fill upon the forbidden water, we entered the festival area.

My SSP started describing to me all of the booths set up by different vendors. We stopped at a booth selling collars and got Baylee a new collar with "Who Dat!" written on it. The collar is black and gold which matches Baylee's coloring really well. She was also growing out of her puppy collar, which was pink and Mister Pawpower needed a more manly collar for his dog. Then we stopped by a booth set up by a local pet shop, and I bought Laveau a hard rubber ball which looks to have great bouncing potential. This should make Laveau quite happy as chasing the ball is tied with swimming for her favorite activity. We passed a bunch of other booths, and saw loads of dogs.

There was a giant bucket of water out for the dogs to drink. I let Laveau have some, but she surprised me by hopping into the bucket with all four legs and swishing around in it. Guess she was getting even with me for not letting her swim in the lake. Once I was able to stop laughing and talk, I told her to get out of the bucket, which she did, reluctantly.
We met a family who had an English Mastiff. That dog was HUGE! He weighed 220 lbs, and his owner said that he ate 45 lbs of food every week. You know you are a dog owner when your mind immediately runs to the amount of poop that dog must deliver to his humans every day. It's like having a horse, only one that sleeps in bed with you! We also met a little girl who was around 5 or so. She was learning some signs and wanted to talk to me, so was showing me all of her ASL. It was so cute, and she had such tiny hands.

We went to a kissing booth run by Boxer Rescue. They were doing the booth to raise money to help pay the vet bills for sick Boxers.. The dog they had today was so cute. She was brown and gave sweet little kisses. The kissing booth was kind of a table thing. The dog was at like chest height on me, and would give kisses. Well she saw Laveau who was being very good at keeping "four on the floor" but who really wanted her own Boxer kisses. So the Boxer leaned down, and Laveau leaned up, and it was like a scene from Romeo and Juliet when their noses finally touched.

We walked and walked and walked some more. Laveau flirted with some more dogs and eventually we ended up getting some lemonade because it was hot. I got water mellon lemonade which was very good. We finally left the festival around 3:30. both Baylee and Laveau are exhausted.
I think Mister Pawpower is cooking French Toast for dinner, with sausage and syrup. I am getting hungry, so shall go prod him in the general direction of the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Deaf is not a four-letter word

"You don't look blind!"
"You don't sound deaf."

People tell me those things on a weekly basis. I might be slow on the uptake, but what does "blind" look like? What does "deaf" sound like?

When you think of "deaf" or "blind," what are the images which pop into your mind? The man wearing sunglasses, stumbling along, white cane in hand, trying to find his way along city streets? The woman who doesn't voice, and instead uses an interpreter?
Stumbling? Not as intelligent as "normal" people? Unable to "speak?" Clueless? Dependent? Helpless? Uneducated?

This is how history, and the media defines people who are deaf or blind.

I'm not what you think I am, and because I don't fall into line with stereotypes, I am told that I don't look or sound the way someone thinks I should.

Blindness is a spectrum term. Deafness is a spectrum term as well. There are many faces of deafness and blindness, not to mention deafblindness. We are not just one type of person with many faces. We are a cross-section of society just like "normal" people. I walk confidently, and look at people when I speak to them. Unless people see my dog or my braille book or display, you would think I were sighted. I voice for myself because I'm post-lingually deafened. I don't have any kind of "speech impediment," because I'm post-lingually deafened. I'm not ignorant, nor am I any more special than the next person. Unless you see me signing, or talk to me over the phone via relay, you would never know I am deaf.

Because I don't conform to people's standards of what they think blindness, or deafness should be, some people seem to be afraid to use the terms "deaf" and "blind." This is especially true of the word "deaf."
"She's d-d-d-... d-d-d ... ... hearing challenged." This was spoken by someone who knows me quite well. Someone who interacts with me extensively every day. Why is it so hard for her, and for others to say it? DEAF! I'm deaf. If you look at my audiogram, I have a 105 decibel loss in my "good" ear, and a 135 decibel loss in the ear that is there strictly for decoration. That's pretty darned deaf. I wear a hearing aid because I have to, in order to work where I do. I don't wear it at home, or when I'm relaxing. I self-identify as deaf, and have always thought of myself this way. So why is it so hard for others to say the D-word? I think it's because I don't comply with the stereotype of deafness, whatever that is.
I am involved in the Deafblind community. I use American Sign Language, both at work and with friends. I self-identify as culturally Deafblind. If there was a "cure" for my deafness, or my blindness, I wouldn't take it because I am who I am, and I like myself this way.

I've asked people why they continue to stumble around, searching for terms to describe my hearing loss when a readily available one is at hand? A word which i, myself use? It certainly isn't in order to save my feelings, because if the word deaf bothered me, I wouldn't use it when referring to myself. The most common answer I get is this:
"I don't want people to get the wrong idea about you."
And what idea would that be? That I can't hear? Because I can't hear. That is the simple truth, right there; I can't hear. Or is it really because I don't fall into line with our society's pre-conceived notion of what "deaf" is. If other people are discomfited by my word choices, then they should get over it, because I am not changing. Since it is me I am talking about, I have the right to identify myself in the way most appropriate. And that is deaf. People are going to just have to swallow their resistance and say it; because I will keep correcting them, and I will continue calling them out on it.
I am not impaired, or challenged. I am deaf. I voice, I use ASL, I read braille. I have several methods of communication at my disposal, and I will use whichever meets my needs for that moment. I am not helpless, nor lacking in intellect. I have a work and social life, made up of friends and coworkers, deaf and hearing, blind and sighted. I am a wife, a teacher, a dog trainer, a herbalist. I love dirty limericks, ASL poetry, and long books. I am fond of dark chocolate and cold tea. And I am Deafblind.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Just Us Bitches

Mister Pawpower is in Colorado, visiting his family. Since Baylee dog is too young to fly, I have her in addition to the three big girls. So it's a house full of bitches. He has been gone since Thursday and I have spent time cooking with foods I like and Mister Pawpower does not, such as brie, smoked salmon, and asparagus. My SSP and I took all of the dogs to the dog park and that was very fun.

A lady showed up with a Komondor, and I got to run my hands through it's flocks! I want a dog with flocks! We also had a funny incident, where a police car drove close to me, and even though all of the girls were off leash, they saw it, and all came running, and stood as a barrier between me and the car. An off-leash traffic check.

Today I took Laveau and Baylee to the coffee shop. The handy man was working in my kitchen and I was hungry, so off we went. Since it was so lovely, we all sat outside and enjoyed the weather. Baylee had the hard chore of keeping her "down/stay" and not getting up to investigate her surroundings.

I have actually got to spend quite a bit of time reading since there is no other human in the house. Yes, it is possible to read and eat simultaneously.

Now that all of the dogs have had their last outside time for the day, I guess it's bed time for me. Dogs don't understand the meaning of changing the clocks back, and I'm spending my mornings trying to convince them that yes, they really can wait a little longer for breakfast. Whoever said that "fall back" gives a person an extra hour of sleep certainly did not have dogs!