As we move into the last week of 2018, now seems like a good time to contemplate the year just past, and to lay out goals and possibilities for the year to come.
What I Haven’t Been Doing: Blogging
I’ve been more or less MIA around here, particularly in the latter half of the year.
Part of that is that there hasn’t seemed to be much to write home about. Excursions that were grand adventures when I started the blog are old hat now.
The learning curve has leveled out, and after five and a half years of living with blindness, that’s to be expected.
The obvious answer, one employed by several bloggers I admire, is to transition from a genre blog to a lifestyle blog. I have lots of things keeping me busy, and surely at least a few of them ought to serve as blog fodder.
Ah, but there’s the rub. Many of the items eating away my time aren’t particularly noteworthy, but do drain away my time and energy. Cooking. Washing dishes. Laundry. Meal planning. MrH’s doctor visits and follow-ups.
Yeesh. No wonder I just want to jump on Twitter, then hop over to YouTube and watch a few videos.
On top of the busyness and personal stress, there’s been the general mental malaise that’s afflicted 2018. Political stress. (Hint: No matter which end of the political spectrum you adhere to, if your idea of patriotism is shutting down anyone who disagrees with you, you’re doing it wrong.) Worldwide turmoil. Natural disasters.
Ugh. See above about YouTube and Twitter. I sincerely, earnestly hope 2019 is a better year.
Even so, parts of 2018 were worth remembering. So, as the old year slips away into quiescence, let us consider some of the highs and lows for the H family.
The Blind Chick Goes to Camp
In June, I spent a week at Camp Dogwood, a summer camp sponsored by the North Carolina Lions Club for blind and visually impaired adults.
This was my second time at Camp Dogwood after a break of several years, and age had not made it a better fit.
Perhaps I’m jaded due to doing so many things alongside my sighted counterparts, but in general I find activities provided for the visually impaired population, particularly by sighted groups, lukewarm and unfulfilling, and I suspect many of those sighted individuals underestimate both our interests and our capabilities.
On the plus side, the food was excellent and I got a lot of reading done. Which was great, because…
The Blind Chick Takes On the Summer Reading Program
Through June, July and August, the NC Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NCLBPH) offered its members a summer reading program.
This, honestly, was much more my speed.
I did make one mistake: Normally I download books that I read, but because the summer reading program was run through the library, I thought that only book cartridges that were sent to me counted. So I requested a bunch, and then I called the library to ask that they raise my check-out limitin order to avoid downtime between books.
“Oh,” said the nice librarian I spoke with. , (All the NCLBPH librarians are nice. Honestly, they’re wonderful.) “We run two seperate contests, one for book cartridges and one for book downloads.”
Ah, well. Having begun with the cartridges I continued with them, and it was really nice getting each new book in the mail.
How many books did I read for the program? I’m not sure, because I’m not exactly sure how books were counted and I can’t quite remember now which of the books I read on cartridge and which I read as downloads.
Counting books I’m pretty sure came on cartridge, and counting only books that were mailed after June 1 and sent back before August 31, I get somewhere between eighteen and twenty books.
No wonder I didn’t do much blogging!
The Blind Chick (And Family) Ride Out a Hurricane
In early September, Hurricane Florence came calling.
Yes, we knew the risks. Yes, we chose to shelter in place and ride out the storm. No, I do not recommend this course of action to anyone else. There were valid arguments for evacuating, and valid arguments against–but that’s a discussion for another time.
I’ve lived in coastal North Carolina for twenty-six years, and Florence was easily the worst hurricane I’ve ever experienced. I’m normally pretty blase about hurricanes, but I slept in my clothes Thursday night (at the height of the storm) in case we had to jump up and make a run for the cars. Luckily, we didn’t.
In the end, we got off lightly. We had damage to the roof and siding. We lost our gutter, one storm door, and some skirting. Two windows were cracked, and our outdoor light fixtures need to be replaced.
We lost power around 4:30 Thursday afternoon and got it back about 10:00 Saturday morning, which means we were lucky there, too. Friends of ours were without power well into the next week, and some people longer than that.
The destruction was amazing. Or appalling, take your pick. One neighbors lost their siding, another lost part of their roof, and a third had a tree fall into their house. And that’s just within two houses’ distance of us.
I was a bit insulated from the destruction by virtue of not being able to see it. But for weeks afterward, MrH would casually mention another business or landmark that had been hit, and I’d be struck all over again by just how pervasive the damage had been.
If the physical aftermath was bad, I think the emotional aftermath has been worse. I think most people I know are only now beginning to feel a sense of stability and recovery. It’s going to be a while before we’re all whole again.
MrH: Seeing With New Eyes
MrH had been developing cataracts for a while, but losing a kidney apparently accelerated the process. By midyear , his vision was getting pretty bad. And so he was scheduled for cataract surgery–right about the time Florence blew in.
Needless to say, the operations had to be postponed. He ended up having the first operation when the second had been scheduled, near the end of September, and the second eye in early October.
The difference has been amazing. According to MrH, colors are brighter and clearer, and things that had been fuzzy are clear again. For the first time in his life, he’s able to drive without glasses, and he needs lighter ones than before for computer work and reading.
At a recent follow-up exam, he learned that there is still some clouding on the lens of one eye, and he’ll have laser surgery in the new year to polish that up.
The Blind Chick Gets Involved
One of the things I’ve tried to do this year is to get more involved, primarily within our church but in other areas as well.
In January, I joined the church’s monthly book club. Because we try to read books that have been around awhile, I’ve been able to find each of the books in the NCLBPH system except for one–and it turned out our group leader had inadvertently ordered an audio copy of that one. I’ve enjoyed all but one of the books, and it’s exposed me to some authors I hadn’t previously known.
I think it was actually last year that I began to attend the monthly women’s discussion group. This year, however, the group’s facilitator moved to be closer to her children and grandchildren. And I made the tactical error of asking whether anyone had offered to continue the group. Guess who’s now the group facilitator?
It’s not a difficult group to facilitate. Each month we draw a topic for the next month’s meeting, and each month we enjoy the lunches we’ve each brought and a lively discussion. I have let the email contact list slide and occasionally been remiss in getting the topic to the newsletter in time, and I need to improve on both of those in the new year.
Last year and early this year MrH and I participated in another discussion group offered by our church. We signed up again this year, and guess who was asked to co-facilitate our group? No, not MrH. (I’m sure your turn is coming, m’dear…)
I’m afraid this got off to a rockier start. Hurricane Florence had delayed the start of the groups and everyone was discombobulated, and I was so anxious to do my part and not get left out that I’m sure I drove my co-facilitator buggy. I think we’ve got that ironed out now, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather work with. (If you read this, thanks for your patience, V!)
Finally, as long-time readers may know, I occasionally participate in a support group for blind and visually impaired individuals in our county. I’ve had occasional philosophical differences with the group’s structure, but I feel strongly that there needs to be a network for support and information in the county. And so, when it looked as though the group might dissolve if no one could be found to lead it, guess who put her hand up?
The group was on hiatus in July and August and was supposed to resume in September. Remember who else showed up in September?
Between Hurricane Florence and other scheduling mishaps, we haven’t actually had a meeting come together yet this fall/winter. Yet another situation in which I hope to do better come the new year.
It’s been a busy year, and a stressful one, but overall I feel pretty positive about how my 2018 turned out. I’m hoping for a little more forward movement and a lot less turmoil in 2019.
I do want to blog more often, and I’m hopeful that I’ve thrown off the deep funk that has made writing feel like an uphill battle over the past year or so. If you’re reading this, thank you for being here, and I hope you’ll come back in the new year.
I hope that whatever winter holiday you celebrate brings you warmth, joy and renewal, and that the new year brings wonderful things.