Tag Archives: Humourous

Cane and able

Cane and able … not the story of the original rival siblings, but one also involving pride and internal conflict.

I recently had an unexpected trip to Johannesburg. There was little time to prepare during a busy day and , it was only when my husband and I were standing still on the ‘skellylators’ (our family word for escalators) that I began to think about this trip – body still and mind begins to move.

I realised that I was traveling alone. No securing husband, just me and my faithful, rather battered white cane.

Usually, when I go on a solo adventure, I mentally visualise the places I am going to and the colors of shops, the landmarks and the likely course of action. This time I was just there unexpectedly and had to ‘go with the flow’. When I feel vulnerable I make an effort to embrace my weakness and know that I am never alone. God is with me always. That morning I read from an ancient letter, “Let your gentleness be evident to all, for the Lord is near you …and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind” . Boy I needed that peace, so decided to just be gentle and ask whoever I met whenever I needed it.

I checked in online, but went to the counter anyway to find out which gate I needed to find for boarding. the lady asked if I needed assistance and I automatically said, “no”. The thought of sitting in a wheelchair when my legs are perfectly healthy seemed like a false pretense. (Will think more about this for the future). I also enjoy the adrenalin rush of finding my own way.

I would never travel without my mobility cane. Whilst it is a symbol of blindness and someone needing help (why din’t I get the assistance offered?) , it frees me to do stupid things and to ask stupid questions like, “ is this gate 7?” Whilst standing under a bright blue number I also get into unexpected conversations with interesting people I would otherwise never meet.

I became very aware of the surroundings for future reference. For example, in the SA airports the bathroom signs are round and bright yellow. I still can’t see which one is for who (although our law allows you to choose your gender anyway) and could not distinguish the disability one. My cane gave me permission to ask for directions to the disabled loo. Some folk falter before answering, thinking that this is only for wheelchairs (I had this conversation in the queue with the girl who had directed me earlier) , but can you imagine being in a large noisy bathroom with sounds of hand dryers, flushing loos and intercom announcements and trying to hear which door has opened and which cubicle is free. The disabled loo – which is probably very able (unless it is blocked) – is either free or not . A much simpler option for the vision impaired.

When joining a queue for boarding I looked for the brightest bag or shirt and tucked myself in behind that person. As long as they kept moving in the direction I needed to go, I was fine. At one stage the blue bag that I was following had to veer left to board through the front door of the plane and I had to veer right to board from the rear door. I walked slowly until I spotted another colourful blob to follow. (I think he was quite amused when I asked him if I could follow his bright shirt.)

There might come a day when it becomes too stressful to follow moving blobs and blurs of landmarks, but until then… my cane makes me able.

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Finger licking not so good.

Having hands is a wonderful privilege. To be able to feel and touch and hold and twist.

Our fingers can interpret texture, temperature and substance … and that is why, when you reach out to touch one thing and it happens to be something else which you do not expect, it can make you ‘gril’
(no single English word for this )- shocking shiver and shriek. For those who have good eyesight I am sure you have eaten a fruit whilst distracted by watching TV only to taste that you have bitten into something rotten. As you peer down and see half a worm you probably reacted beyond the scale of reason and have this firmly etched in your memory.

Recently I have glimpsed shapes, thinking that they are one thing , only to reach out and touch it and realise how wrong my interpretation was. Whilst cooking dinner, I rinsed off my hands (not literally) and flapped the dripping digits over the sink while I scanned the counter for the dish towel – it is seldom where it should be. I spotted a crumpled white object that seemed to have straight edges and so lunged for the prize, only to plant my hand firmly in the butter which stood boldly exposed in the silver foil. Yuk! A few days later I was putting lids back onto bottles of pickles, dressing and mustard. I reached for the small pale lid and slid my fingers into a splodge of mayonnaise.

Someone with worse vision than mine once joked,” don’t worry, you’ll get a feel for it”. Well, my favourite worst place to feel stuff is in the fruit and veggie market. My fingers are destined to plunge into the frot spot on any aging product. It seems like there is a magnetic attraction between my fingertips and the worms and wounds of any soft centred food. When I unexpectedly hit the spot my whole body shakes and weird noises escape my lips. It must look really funny if replayed on a security camera.

Getting a ‘hole in one’ is fantastic for a golf handicap , but it makes fun of my handicap on other types of greens…of course!

Acknowledgment: Thank you Glynne for being my shopping chaperone.

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Quirky Questions ’bout three blind mice

mouse question3 blind mice, 3 blind mice
See how they run, see how they run
They all run after the farmer’s wife
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife
Have you ever seen such a thing in your life
as 3 blind mice.

Was their blindness metaphorical? How can they run if they are blind? Were they just severely vision impaired?  If they had good mobility does it mean that they still had some peripheral sight? And for that matter, how can they run after the farmer’s wife if they cannot see where she is?  Does she smell? Why was she running with a knife? Does she not know how dangerous that is? What made her turn and attack the mice? Why is the farmer’s wife torturing the disable creatures? Did the SPCA and the disability rights associations get involved?  Where is the farmer?  What did she do with the tails? Are they still running blind? How are they doing after their unexpected amputations?  ‘ Have you ever seen’…why is our sight  being questioned?

This is a short sighted poem … not very mice!

(origin actually to do with Queen Mary’s assassination of three prominent protestants)

Silly Siri and other short-sighted sniggers

oopsSiri me
As many of you know, I can see very little detail and so I find Siri (the personal voice assistant on my iPhone) very useful….most of the time. A few weeks ago I was involved in helping organise an event management workshop.  As a colleague pointed out, the chairman of the organisation definitely needed the event management skills on offer as the biggest event of his life happened unexpectedly… three weeks early – the birth of his first child.
As a result, I had a bit more responsibility than expected and promised to take a photo of the delegates alongside the banner of Retina South Africa.  After lunch my helpful, fully sighted husband took the pic on my phone – which was also a fun event … Have you ever tried to get a handful of us blind people looking at the camera at the same time? Have you ever seen a photographer trying to clap his hands and hold a camera still?  Anyhow, the required task was finally completed.  As the session began I quickly wanted to forward the picture to ‘the boss’. I asked Siri to put in a caption saying, “The Essential Event Management Workshop”. I pushed Send and then peered through my magnifying glass to see that all was in order. In distress, I shrieked aloud, interrupting the speaker who was just getting underway, and I read, “the sensual event management workshop. The place erupted as I quickly sent a voice WhatsApp saying,” Essential, essential, e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l”.
Siri nearly got me into Siri-ous trouble.!

P.S. congratulations to Manny and Shamiela on the birth of their little girl Aarya

Mistaken identity
The coldest weekend this winter coincided with a burst geyser and an extra family member in the house. We were all using one bathroom and all our hygiene products had gathered in a line along the basin edge like spectators, to watch the high speed water sport. . I reached for my face scrub in the blue and white bottle and felt the luxury of a thick cream on my cheeks. The lotion smelled unusual. After the chilly commotion I took the tube to inspect the contents under my reading camera… it was heel balm!

Wakey, wakey
Half asleep I staggered to the kitchen to make the early morning coffee. I placed the mugs on the counter and spooned granules into the first one… except that it was upside down and the coffee sprinkled all over my slippers and the floor. Is that why they call it ‘in-stand coffee?’

A separate joke
Albeit weak, I need to share my home– made joke that birthed itself out of my home-made yoghurt gone wrong.

What did the cheese say to the curd?
“No Whey!”

Sorry you can see

A tongue-in-cheek poem written for Human Rights day 2016

blindfold

  Being blind like a mole and a bat, gives us powers that we are good at
We can smell secret eating, by a bloke in a meeting
And can hear if he’s skinny or fat.

We’re allowed to forget people’s names, So asking, “Who’s that?” is no shame
We cannot see freckles, or pimples or speckles
So people love friends with white canes.

For those who are vision impaired, body language tells stories …Not fair
No deceiving or denying, cos we know when you’re lying
so be honest, be real or be scared!

We notice the noise and sound clues, then form mental pics in all hues
the world is so clean, when the dirt is not seen
And beauty is something we choose

So sorry that you guys can see, the pain and the raw poverty
The pressure and pace, of your visual rat race
Makes me grateful sometimes ….to not see.

*[Today we recall human rights, especially for those without sight
we have a lot to give, if we could simply live
and work without having to fight]

So if you think this poem is uncouth, don’t worry, we’re okay with the truth
we got a bad card, but were grateful to God
that our blindness gives us a great view.

*verse for human rights day

Down to Earth

kabumpsI recently had back problems and had to go for some tests and scans. . To cut a long story short, this injury requires me to spend more time working on core muscles to correct the condition.

Many of us with low vision spend a lot of time leaning forward to see things close up especially on screens. Posture problems seem more prevalent amongst low vision sufferers, as opposed to blind folk as we use the little sight we have instead of relying on hearing and kinaesthetic cues.

Anyway, I needed to adjust the ergonomics of my reading station in the study; affecting the way I sit at a desk or raise my screen higher, so as not to bend forward and put strain on my back. I rummaged through some essential but seldom used items and found a dusty, deflated Pilates ball. Amazingly I found the plug too. As my back was too sore to use the air pump, my sister came over to help me inflate the ball. We managed to puff it up to the correct size and rolled it into position where the desk chair was. She went home and I was happily catching up with emails, whilst merrily contemplating the joys of not having a more sinister condition. My thoughts were all gratefulness, butterflies and birdsong when I heard an almighty bang and landed on the tiled floor. The ball thing had popped and my ethereal dreamland was rudely interrupted with groans of more pain and a sardonic laugh. (Have you heard of Murphy’s f-loor?). It would have been so cool as a You tube clip!!

As I was about to pick up the slippery jellyfish-like plastic remains, I happened to knock a brand new tumbler off the desk onto the same tiled floor. Now I not only had to retrieve the gooey flubber, but also a galaxy of sparkling blue glass.

As I wrote this account there were Christmas carols playing in the background. I was pondering about what to title this humorous yet humbling experience: heavenly peace to humiliating reality. I thought of   the Christ child …. Yes, down to earth!!

(I hope no one is offended by comparing God’s plan to bring us back to His side and my plan to get off my back side)

Look alike

Prunes Not being able to see clearly can be very funny at times.

I often stew prunes to add to our breakfast assortments. I like to throw a rooibos teabag into the little saucepan because it gives a nice flavour. The other day I was eating breakfast and the prune had a weird texture …. Like a teabag! (Felt Stew-pid)

Another funny mix up happened when I had emptied some of the contents of my handbag (dangerous exploit) onto the kitchen table. My phone, which has a white cover, rang Tissue phoneand I ran to pick it up. I picked up the pack of travel tissues instead and had a good laugh … same colour same shape … very different acoustics!

After finding two small stud earrings in the pocket of my jeans, I put them on the kitchen table as it is half way between the washing machine and my dressing table drawer. As usual, I was doing about 5 things at the same time and kind of forgot they were there. About 20 minutes later I put a baking pan of warm crunchies on the table to cut them into squares and lift them onto the cooling rack. Of course there were stray crumbs that needed to be disposed of. So once again my tongue slammed the brakes on my brain as I recognised the shape of an earing in my mouth.

Oh crumbs! This lack of sight can be dangerous to ones health!