Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Friends, Unexpected Expeditions, Summer Goodness, and More

Hello everyone. It's a somewhat brisk windy monday morning. I've had quite a spectacular weekend. On saturday, I thought I'd go out and get a walk round the lake in before the day got rainy as was forecasted. I met a very nice lady named Carine who has recently moved into the area. She lives very amicably with her ex-boyfriend Kevin. They seem to have negociated through any awkwardness and just got on with being good friends and housemates. Could I just put aside Janene's having decided not to marry me and simply be friends with her should she call one day? I don't think so. We crossed so many lines and went so much farther than simple friendship that anything less than a life-long commitment just seemed like such hollowness. For me, it's more an all or nothing thing. Had she refused my engagement ring on that weekend I offered it to her, there may have been room to retreet to friendship gracefully if not painlessly. Once we were engaged, that window just closed for me. Her subsequent walking away from me simply hurt too damned much. Somehow, these two have managed to keep a very high level of trust and friendship.

Carine was originally going to see her long-distance boyfriend but that never panned out. I suspect some texts sent to each other got lost somehow. Not being one to text with my own phone, I don't know how common or rare a problem that is. The end result was that she ended up going out for lunch with me to Symposium Cafe while hoping, worrying and waiting for a text from him regarding their planned outing. That never came so she spontaneously decided to go to Canada's wonderland with Kevin and I. They had season passes and I got a day pass from Shopper's Drug Mart. Kevin's a great guy who I felt very comfortable around very quickly. We all just seemed to click remarkably well right off the bat. There was none of that "Oh gosh! He's blind! What do I do?" hesitation at all. We just started relating and enjoying the day. I doubt they have any idea whatsoever of just how long I've been hoping something like this would happen or just how refreshing their attitude towards me was. Who'd have thought that a decision to take a walk around the lake rather than just make a bacon and egg brunch and get on with another solitary saturday would lead to such a fun and successful day? It makes up for a whole lot of frustrating lonely time when stuff like this happens.

It was fantastic to be back in the theme park I knew so well as a child. I haven't been back since that trip I wrote about in A Life of Word and Sound. By far, the Bohemoth is the best new ride and best rollercoaster I've ever been on. It's smooth, the drops are thrillingly steep, and the turns are exciting without feeling the need to thwack your head into the restraints. It's even got some actual length to it and you don't walk away feeling like the ride wasn't worth waiting in line for. Of course, that waiting is made tremendously more pallitable by the company one keeps. In that department, I was in very good hands indeed. I very much look forward to getting to know Carine and Kevin better over the next while. There are so many occasions where you know people don't mean to follow through with friendship, getting together and such. This doesn't feel like such an occasion. They both struck me as interested in hanging out on future occasions.

In another major development, I've ultimately decided to explore the possibilities of a serious long-distance relationship with Janet, the very helpful lady who I met at Lake Joe. She seemed very interested in my being her boyfriend right from the start and remains so now. I was somewhat indecisive due to the distance involved. We won't be able to just go for coffee or short visits. Both of us are on ODSP and have the same financial constraints. She understands that I'm ultimately after a marriage and would prefer she moved in with me here. I want something more than just loving words. I want a life lived together with someone who respects my efforts contributing to society. Someone who doesn't negate my positive attitude or cripple my ability to be friends with and give to other people. Here in this apartment and community, I've finally begun to truly set down roots and build a life worth sharing. I'm also close to family. I doubt I'd ever get such a suitable subsidised apartment again should I leave this one. Ultimately, I suppose I'd be willing to but the level of convincing I'd need that I wouldn't be left high and dry would be formidable. Perhaps, as some people suggest, that slow build-up of confidences and conversation will lead to a relationship built on a better foundation. I'd have to eat my words and old ideas about how frought with uncertainty and anxt such relationships seem bound to be. God has certainly delighted in proving me wrong many times before. I, in turn, have typically been very delighted to be corrected. There's still a whole lot of uncertain territory to explore. However, it's high time to try something new. God knows I've tried damned near everything which seems the least bit sensible and sain to me by this stage. You'd think one of the 600 or so women more local to me would have taken me up on the long-standing offer to treet for coffee, or perhaps, on a long shot, someone from my church. But no! It's a lady from Peterborough with a learning disability who has somehow gleanned enough about me over a week in an abnormal environment to find me worth pursuing seriously. Go figure. I certainly have a good sense that our core values match up well. We're both Christians who go to church regularly. Both of us have come to terms with where society has stuck us and decided to make the best of the situation rather than spend time being bitter. We both deeply value time with our friends and the whole art of friendship. Both of us have an innate sense of responsibility to others around us and try to be helpful whenever possible. She has a good sense of humour and doesn't get all upset when teased. All that seems quite promising. However, there's still a lot of ground to cover in terms of finding common interests. When a good book absorbs me for hours at a stretch, is she going to be interested also, have her own equally absorbing amusement which bores the liver out of me, or be pulling her hair out in frustration wishing I wasn't such a damned deep thinker? How about when insomnia rouses me from bed at absurd o'clock in what can only generously be called morning? And then, of course, there's how irritable I get when writer's block sticks around for an extended visit. Having a cheerful partner who pulls me away from the keyboard and helps me engage more with the rest of life at such times would certainly be helpful there. Unlike Rebecca, there won't be any conflict between my efforts to contribute to the world despite not getting paid for it. Janet admires my drive to do what good I can with the talents and time I have. She instinctively seems to have approached her own life in much the same way. Neither of us want children so that's another big source of dissatisfaction among couples out of the way. Those are just some of the things to be explored as much as long distance allows. Due to our week at Lake Joe, I've had the chance to determine that I find her physically attractive. She certainly seems to find me to be so.

This Summer has been truly profound for me. Hard on the bank balance but very restorative to the soul. I even begin to hope that this winter won't be quite so solitary as prior ones. Even if things do spread out more evenly in the year socially speaking, I suspect that Summer will always be a more active and expensive season for me. Things really seem to be permanently changing for the better though. I have a much greater sense of starting to fit in, like I'm building a life rather than rolling around like a ball too large to ever fall into a hole.

It's now tuesday morning. Been up since around four this morning but I'm feeling pretty good despite that. Yesterday was laundry day for the most part plus some writing plus other bits of stuff. Never got out for a walk but I'll be doing that today to the Dam and back barring sudden bad weather. My legs have long since recovered from my impromptu expedition to Canada's Wonderland. In a while, I'll make myself a nice bacon and egg brunch. I've finally polished off all the pineapple and strawberries for this order of groceries so it's on to the oranges. Just for variety and in case the oranges go bad, I have some of those fruit cups in the fridge. Grocery Gateway is owned by Longo's and they're quite rightly known for their quality fresh fruit among other things. It's rare that I have to throw anything out other than potatoes.

I was very sad to hear of the death of Jack Layton yesterday. He was such a caring thoughtful man that even the prospect of a Conservative majority government didn't worry me too greatly with him leading the opposition. I've grabbed his book, Speaking Out, Ideas that Work for Canadians. The CNIB digital library had it in accessible mp3 format. I've read the beginning and think I'm in for some thought-provoking stuff. I've no doubt that he planned ahead for this eventuality and that the NDP will live up to what Canadians who voted mainly for Jack expect of them. It must be so hard on his family. He never got to enjoy retirement with them like my parents are able to do. When you've spent so much of life having empty days blend into each other, it's always a bit of a shock when time runs out on someone so deserving of more. Rest in peace, Jack. You and I were after the same sort of community-based country and world where people aren't tossed aside in the name of the bottom line.

Family will be taking centre stage in my own life over the next while. My grandmother is coming for a visit tomorrow. She'll be staying with my parents for a few days before we take her to her sister Kay in Bright Ontario. It'll be Kay's 91st birthday in early September and at some point between now and then, my Uncle Neil and Aunt Cathy will be staying with mom and dad so they can join the celebration. It's been quite a while since I've seen either of them. It'll certainly make for a very different September this year. Everything feels different and fresh these days. Different and absolutely wonderful.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Most Splendid Season

Hello everyone. It's past time I got another blog entry out to you all. The past while has been both on the whole pleasant and busy. I've fully gotten over my illness and been back to the Dam each week. I find these Summer hours somewhat slow. If anything, the kids seem more occupied and full of energy which means there's less opportunity for me to really get engaged in other than keeping a hopefully helpful ear on things. In the autumn, I'll begin staying later on tuesdays to help lead discussions on various issues. I keenly look forward to that. It'll be of immense help when the teens are actually present in order to talk about something.

I should be sleeping right now. Did a walk today, got together with Shirley for a long overdue catch-up chat, and haven't even eaten much. I've played every damned card I have other than taking my sleeping medication of choice, a cheep Graval knock-off. Took it last night and got a good sleep but wanted to be up and not groggy for church... later this morning. My brain just refuses to wind down and let me sleep. It's ten to fucking three! Wanted to get a blog entry out long before this, august 7th, but the words just never worked out.

Other than this sleping difficulty, I've had a terrific if expensive time this summer sans the week after getting back from Lake Joe. My desktop computer is now busy converting my Audible books into more easily navigable MP3 files. Had Audible just spared a moment's thought for blind people who, ... oh, just might be their most captive loyal audience on the planet and made it possible to navigate their books as they were read in Windowsmedia on a Windows machine, I wouldn't have had to do this. Thank God I've got this netbook. It'll be around another day or so before it's done and I started the process yesterday afternoon. I'm converting all three of the Dream Park novels and hope Audible eventually does the Moon Maze Game, the fourth long-awaited book in the series. Now that I've bought DRMbuster which can convert the books into MP3s, Audible is at last worth belonging to for me. The iPHONE app also works great and thankfully allows blind people the same latitude of navigation as sighted folks. I'm going to cancel my Samnet subscription to be able to afford Audible. I really haven't used it as much as I thought I would. The descriptive movies are nice but the chat community has simply dried up. Everyone's in the game room and nobody seems to simply look for a good conversation anymore. Not unless there's three different other things to be doing at the same damned time. The art of friendship seems to be changing drastically if not exactly dying.

It's now the morning of the 10th. Still haven't exactly kicked the insomnia to the curb but I'll live. My next order of groceries will be arriving soon. That could see me through the rest of the month but it would be a stretch. We'll see how that goes. Now that people are coming back from their vacations as Summer heads into the final stretch, the likelyhood of guests increases. I'm having one tomorrow who'll be staying for a few days. Stephen Murgaski, blind adventurer extraordinaire and my good friend since early grade school is coming to visit. It'll be great to have him here and catch up more fully with everything. I've been seeing more of Doug and Nann lately. Got to meet a couple of their good friends including one who I previously just read emails about. It'll be a hoot to return the favour and introduce them to Steve this week. They've heard a fair bit about him but didn't get to meet him durring his last visit. Yesterday was a great day at the Dam which made up for so much dead time there. I got into good conversations with two of the youth for basically the whole afternoon. One girl chatted with me for most of that time, a good two hours or so. For the first time in quite a while, I enjoyed that sensation of being at the right place at the right time and being able to do a good job. I think I made some serious headway, or at least a good beginning with each of them. The rain cleared up so I was able to walk back from the Dam. Didn't get lost this time. Once it locked on, the Trekker worked perfectly.

This is an exceptionally enjoyable Summer for me. I've felt a lot more drawn into the community here. I've always found comfort and security in being well known. That seems to surprise a good number of people who cling to privacy like it's some sort of refuge that could disappear all too easily. The better I'm known around here, the safer I am as I go about. Plus, if I'm ever going to find a job or get another crack at marriage some day, it'll most likely be because people know me as a kind compassionate person willing to pitch in and help out however I can. One lady who said hello to me on the path around the lake didn't give me her name. What was I going to do other than know how to address her? Launch a name-seeking missile her way or something? People just don't seem to have time for community and haven't the foggiest idea what they've been turning away from. Given enough information, I can be of real help to people, a contributing part to their lives rather than simply a man with a cane to look out for. Especially to the folks whose English could do with some improvement. I've had numerous residents in the building who fall into that category expend considerable effort in asking me how I cook my food. They don't seem to give a tinker's cuss about anything else so long as I don't seem likely to burn the building down. Wonder how many of them smoke while they're less than fully alert. If I thought for a moment that they'd understand the reply; "Well a lot of blind people use ordinary or talking appliances like microwaves, George Forman grills and such. Me, I've come to truly cherish my flamethrower." I'd be ever so sorely tempted to use it at times. I hate it when people leave with a one-dimensional impression of me. Thankfully, that phenominon is at last being balanced by more people actually getting to know somewhat more about me. I'm very much enjoying being more a part of the community rather than the human equivalent of a strange bug under a microscope. I'm hopeful that things will keep getting better here over the years as more people slowly learn more about me and I them.

The groceries are all stowed away. I at last have actual buns for the burgers I never got around to eating. However, I forgot to order salad dressing for my vegies. Oops. Still feels good to be all stocked up. The delivery person was a woman this time. First I can remember for Grocery Gateway. Would have been interesting to talk to her more. She's only been working there for six weeks. There's a little tidying up to do yet but on the whole, I'm nice and ready for company tomorrow. That increased activity will, I hope, allow me to at last ditch the insomnia for a while.

During the Summer, my church is doing a series of questions asked by God of his people in the bible. The challenge is to come up with our own answers. Most people are submitting them on cards anonimously. I plan to do an article with an answer for the newslettres published by the church over the next months. It'll be good to have something like that to do on a regular basis. I'm hoping it'll help stave off writer's block a tad. The church has certainly continued to be a very positive factor in life for me. I attempted to walk there a couple of weeks ago and succeeded despite not having used the route since I learned it last year. The Trekker Breeze gave me enough information to keep me on track and remind me of what I would have forgotten. It took around an hour to get there. Didn't stand much during the service. The legs certainly felt stiff for a while. All the walking I've done this year has certainly paid off. I'm feeling quite good overall even while contending with insomnia. Having things to look forward to in my calendar helps also. I'm finally able to use my iPHONE's calendar effectively. Took a bit of tinkerring but I figured it out in true manly fashion without recourse to the manual.

I have no doubt I've left out some events I might have blogged about had I gotten to this entry sooner. There have certainly been more visits and things than in previous years. Twitter has also helpped tremendously to keep the edge off the more solitary days. For a while, all we heard about in the news was the phone hacking scandal. That's at last been brushed away by these crazy riots in London as well as the unsteady world economic situation. Those riots must be something else to live near. You'd think people would show a bit more sense. Smashing and burning businesses isn't going to make things better for anybody. I hope we're not in for another global recession. We've just barely poked our heads out of the last one. Although my current personal circumstances would bennefit from falling prices as they did during the last one, I would prefer to live in a world where people are more hopeful and where effort is more rewarded. It's one thing if I face the hopelessness I have. It's something else entirely when people all around me face the same difficulties and fear losing all they've worked so hard for. There probably is a danger that in a particularly long deep recession, ODSP and housing cuts could seriously effect me. Although they didn't lower my income during the last recession, I presume such cuts are always a possibility. For now though, I can enjoy the rest of the Summer confident that I'll be able to put some money away for the next Summer over the winter. Things should work out alright barring any unexpected events.

Finally got to see Allison and my three nieces again. Dan was busy working. They've had quite a good summer also. They went camping for the first time right when the heet wave was in full force. We were all a bit worried about how Alleah would do. As things turned out, they all had a great time and will be going camping again later in the month. Wasn't certain how well that kind of trip away from the comforts of home would go over with Ava and Amia but they seem to have enjoyed it. Later this month, my grandmother is coming so I expect to be doing quite a bit with the family nearer the end of August. That's always an interesting break from the normal.