Tag Archives: personal

The Times They Are A- Changin’

Bob Dylan crowed the lyrics of his rally call: ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963) to a generation of angst-filled youth, disillusioned dreamers, and nouveau radicals, all thirsty for wise words, guidance, and affirmation that their deep, unexpressed feelings WERE true and that their world (ie, parents, government…’the establishment’) must change…and that they were the ones to change it….”if your time to you is worth savin’, then you’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’…”.
It’s remarkable how songs and their lyrics stick in your head. I don’t think a Bob Dylan ear-worm is necessarily a bad thing, (unless the harmonica solos refuse to end, then you may have a problem). This Dylan classic came back to me recently and has been stuck on repeat ever since. I tend to make associations with song lyrics at least 100 times a day. Here’s how THIS one got in my head:
Someone very near and dear to me, applied to enter a program called ‘Women Unlimited’ offered through the Nova Scotia Community College. It is geared for women who want to explore non-traditional occupations and trades. My friend, having been laid-off her job as a junior metrologist (equipment calibrator) last fall, was hopeful that the Women Unlimited program would provide exposure to ideas, contacts and resources and eventually lead to gainful employment. As my friend was leaving the interview at NSCC, the interviewer remarked cautiously, “I notice that you are person from a minority group”. My friend, puzzled, turned around and asked, “Because I’m short?” (she’s all of 4′ 10″). The woman struggled to find words…”No, the rainbow on your back pack indicates to me that you might be a…homosexual…(rushing to continue)…I have gay friends…normally, I would use the word Queer when talking to them…” My friend interrupted, “But you have to be Politically Correct”. Relieved, the interviewer replied, “Yes, EXTREMELY, but I thought you should know that by self-identifying as a member of a ‘minority group’ for this program, your chances are significantly increased”. My friend grinned and remarked, “The Times They Are A-Changin’…” or something to that effect…or maybe I just put Dylan’s words into her mouth ’cause they felt so good to me (REALLY GOOD) and I love any excuse to make a pop culture reference.

Suspicious Minds

You know that the world’s going to Hades in a hand basket when a sad story, such as the one broadcast all over mainstream media today, leaves people feeling so mixed up. Or is it just me? A woman in Nova Scotia drowned a couple of kittens last summer and got fined $5.00 for it in court today. Yeah, yeah…this initial ‘teaser’ lead bit on the radio leaves you thinking…”You crazy, sadistic b..tch! They should drown YOU”. Then, you hear the sad flip-side of the story; she fed a stray cat, fed it some more (The Cat Came Back is the song that comes to mind- Harry S. Miller 1893), and bing, bang…she’s got one cat+2 kittens… She’s poor, can’t get help from her town’s officials, and decides to euthanize the kitties in a bucket. Groan. Of course, Suspicious Minds (written by Memphis songwriter, Mark James and the last #1 hit for Elvis Presley in 1969- his last) like mine ask, ‘What cat has only two kittens’!? Maybe she lied about THAT too…and actually drowned a litter of 14. Not that it matters much, they’re all dead, regardless. But NOW, the SPCA is crying foul. They want “BIG FINES AND JAIL TIME”! said their head mouthpiece with emotion. My question? Where were you guys when this nutty, albeit well intentioned stray-cat-feeding woman was busy phoning around, trying to find someone to off the felines? Sure, “dangerous precedents are being set”, yada, yada, but NOW you’re worried that everyone is going to think it’s OK to euthanize Fluffo ’cause it’ll only cost five bucks instead of the usual $179.00 at the vet? Sigh. Then, the legal beagle for this woman (gotta be legal aid lawyer) said a bunch of really stupid things (he compared his client’s action against that of the person “who hanged that dog in Point Pleasant Park” …I can do without hearing that sort of thing). It did not endear me to the situation or to this woman…still…she’s poor…she loves the animals…a regular Doctor Doolittle ….who simply done too much. “We’re caught in a trap….”

Voting Day Blues

I have been very hyped about this election. Why?  I have chomped at the bit in anticipation of dramatically and meaningfully casting my inaccessible ballot at the polling station. Let me remind you about the core elements of a democratic vote; secret, independent and verifiable. I have gone on and on, to EVERYONE who will listen and to some who won’t, about the importance of these elements, the sanctity of the electoral process, and how I am denied this right by virtue of inaction on the part of Elections Canada. I am blind, as are hundreds of thousands of other voters. We do not have electronic voting in Canada. We do not have telephone voting. We do not have voting machines at the polls. We do not have Braille ballots. I thought that today I would be pumped and ready to let loose my schpeel at the Presbyterian church where I would be voting. I ran through my dialogue, my diatribe, my kvetching complaint, like a Shakespearean actor preparing for Stratford.

Here’s what really happened. I made it to the church, and found myself outside with a woman in a wheelchair attempting to open a monstrously large door (no automatic opener). I opened it for her, but it was not wide enough. A worker from the poll came and helped to open another door. I commented wryly about Elections Canada and their accessible voting sites. She commiserated. By this point, I had, for some reason, already lost my oomph.  Maybe it’s the time of year, or ‘my time of the month’.  Some one came over as Opal and I walked into the large church basement. The usual useless pointing and “over there” was followed by an arm-grab which I yanked away.  Someone else gave sensible directions to the table I needed.  My ID was requested and checked.  I did NOT give a long-winded lecture on the difficulty blind people have in meeting ID requirements, given that we don’t have driver’s license and many of us have no passport. Some of us choose not to have or use a charitable ID (CNIB) for reasons which are too numerous and complicated for this blog.  I provided my stunning photo ID cards which have a photo of Opal and me posing together (CGDB and the Attorney General of Ontario), but my Guide dog ID cards do not have my address on them, so I added a phone bill. I had considered bringing a Braille bill, but I did not want to be turned away. At this point, the DRO asked if I wanted a Braille template. My interest peaked, as I thought I had discussed this ad nauseum with Silvestre from elections Canada and had confirmed there would be no Braille on the ballot, and to expect the usual flaky template. Now I had no idea what they were offering me.  I asked (just to confuse them) if it was contracted or uncontracted Braille. The had no clue, so I let them off the hook and told them that I knew both, so it did’nt matter.  The DRO put the ballot into the ‘Braille template’ and then came the offer to “come into the voting area with you”. I said I would pass, given that I had this allegedly accessible Braille template in my hand.  Opal and I parked ourselves behind the privacy screen at a little table. I started to read the template. Numbers. Just numbers! I called out, “um, there’s no names here, just numbers”.  The old lady who had grabbed me when I came in, offered to read the names to me. I said that would not do. The DRO guy came over and offered to read them “as they appear in sequence. then you pick the braille number”, he said with full expectation that somehow this would be acceptable to me. I had PLANNED to make a big ‘to-do’, maybe proclaim myself the Rosa Parks of the voting blind, given that I am repeatedly told that blind people ‘have found this acceptable for years’. Instead, I told him “no thanks”, and ” if I can’t read it for myself”…( in a country where government material must be provided in alternate formats by law),  “I’ll have to  spoil my ballot”. He apologised (as everyone always does). I scrawled multiple X’s in allthe holes in my template and ballot and handed it to the old lady. She wisely did not attempt to go into the  insufferably patronizing routine of allowing me to put it in the box, but quickly disposed of it, stuffing it into the ballot box herself.   I walked out, declining someone’s eager offer for me to use the elevator, saying, “my legs are fine, we’ll use the stairs”. I left deflated.   I did not call the media, or my party delegate, or the PM (who doesn’t give a flying f…k anyway), or the queen, or Silvestre at Elections Canada (who I’m guessing was pretty busy today). Instead, I went for my routine blood work and called it a day. I wish I was one of those clever musicians, ’cause I’d be writing a tune tonight…’Voting Day Blues’.

STOP PRESS!!! Megan Leslie, newbie NDP canditate and personal acquaiantance declared winner of Halifax riding! Go get em in Ottawa, kid…and remember your roots…and your blind friends…

A UU Family Feast

Canadians from sea to sea to sea are finally putting the dregs of their Thanksgiving Day dinners away in their fridges. Most will go to bed tonight still drugged from the turkey tryptophan sedation. Our politicians who are still scrambling like beavers today, in hopes one of them becomes the Big Canadian Cheese tomorrow (Election Day) probably missed the opportunity to a sit down family affair. And perhaps some of our less fortunate citizens who cannot find their way to the free dinners at shelters and centres missed out on a special dinner too.

I was one of the more fortunate people today. How so? I shared my Thanksgiving day dinner with my Unitarian Universalist Church of Halifax family….and my sweetie, L.A……and my guide dog, Opal….and L.A’s mum… and the friends and family members of all the UU congregants…and Reverend Julie (her first Canadian Thanksgiving). Reverend Julie asked us to speak out the name of one person who we would want most with us, but could not be there to share with us;  those who live away, those who are ill, those who have passed on.  Voices sprang up around the room, “Ivy” , Billy”, “Lorena” … I  whispered, “mum”.

The food was pot luck, but oh, how extraordinary.  It was one of those unusually well-organized pot lucks that went off with out a hitch. No tables were set ablaze from the candles,  no one choked on the turkey (regular, free range and ‘Tofurkey’ my vegan contribution for Norm), None of the kids hurt themselves or others (except Aidan managed to hurt pocketbooks by selling  a bunch of catalogue items for his school after the meal– I called him the UU version of Duddy Kravitz . He didn’t know what I was talking about, so I explained about Mordecai Richler’s infamous character). We ate the best food, all carefully prepared by everyone, in a civilized, joyous mood. Yes there was wine, but unlike some nightmarish family dinners of my childhood, no one got drunk. The volunteers did what was  requested of them; setting up tables, dressing tables, decorating, shlepping stuff from home, working collaboratively to eat as a large group.  The dishes got washed instead of broken. The leftovers were distributed to those with not much at home. Photographs were snapped, yet no one minded. I hugged my sweetie  and held her hand and no one cared.  Opal lay quietly as we feasted ( I fed her after). Music played at an appropriate level instead of deafening people. The rain stopped long enough for the kids to go out and play. People talked and talked like long lost friends, even though many of us had just been at service yesterday.  It was the perfect family dinner. It was so UU.

Big Al To The Rescue!!!!

Big Al  (AKA ‘Aluion’) is reportedly heading for Canada today. Upon learning about the plight of Blend (Blind) Canadians as they face an inaccessible voting non-machine on Tuesday, Big Al, a resident of Alabama,  boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Nova Scotia at 4 am this morning.  There was some confusion at the bus depot in Mobile, as Big Al dumped a 63- pound  sackful of Canadian coins onto the ticket agent’s counter to pay for his fare. Further disruption  occurred when bus terminal Security spotted him donning an outfit that included hockey equipment and pieces of a 17th century suit of armour.  He claimed that he needed to feel safe and to protect himself while riding the Greyhound, saying, “I can’t be losing my head on this trip”.

Wise Advice summoned Big Al to the Great White North, upon learning that his expertise might bolster the cause of the blind (blend) {See recent comments from Aluion} and lend support to her plan to ‘make a point’ when casting her ballot tomorrow. Big Al has been known to write clever comments and insults on doors in public spaces…in Braille. “He kinda scares me”, said Wise Advice of the southern guru, “Definitely a smart guy, but he must be crazy from listening to several synthesised speech voices on various computers simultaneously”. When asked about her plan to bring public  attention to the inaccessibility of the Canadian Election, WIse Advice said, “Look, I can’t do this alone. If Big Al can fake a Canadian accent, we’ll get him one of those spare ballots floating around to do whatever he chooses with”.

Wise Advice Chief and Staff Robbed!!!!!

This just in! Details are sketchy, but reports from our Canadian affiliate indicate that Wise Advice Chief, HRM (aka Lablady) and her staff have been robbed. Local diva, Poprah Minfrey claims to have witnessed the whole thing. “I was strolling up Olivet street, on my way to buy some organic broccoli and Twinkies at Sobeys. They’re on sale ya know, the Twinkies, I mean. Anyway, I was coming around the corner, and there was a guy with a pick up truck near the corner. Him and his buddy got out and stand around…ya know, like they’re up to no good. They commence to picking up the garbage can and hauling it to the truck! I yell, “Hey, that’s Wise Advice’s can. Her sweetie ‘re-located’ it for her!!! Get your own can, you bunch of f…goofs!”  But they didn’t miss a beat. They just threw it in the back of the truck and took off like they were on fire!”Ms. Minfrey had no other comment, except that she did not want to miss the sale at Sobey’s.

Wise Advice and her staff (Opal IV) discovered the theft for themselves last evening, after much groping near the bus shelter for the missing receptacle. Staff member, Opal had just contributed her usual after supper ‘environmental offering’ which was collected in a small non-bio degradable bag and necessitated deposit. “Shock and Awe, that’s what it I’m feeling at the moment”, says a distraught Wise Advice. “Who would steal a 35 pound trash basket? It doesn’t even have a lid. And my sweetie sweated bullets hauling that puppy over from the other side of the street one morning last July. Sheesh! Some people have nerve! I have a good mind to take out a PSA asking for its return. Maybe I’ll offer a reward…yeah, how about this?; ‘Just return our can, no questions asked. If you do, I won’t start bringing poop bags onto the bus (’cause there’s nowhere to dump them now) which would cause the driver to gag, keel over and drive off the road into a crowd of old ladies coming out of St. Agnes’s Church after bingo! Ya don’t want THAT to happen, do ya? You’re reward is that you get to save a bunch of old ladies from getting hit by a bus. You’ll be heroes.” Staff member, Opal had no comment, though clearly she is equally distressed.

The RCMP continue to investigate at Wise Advice’s request. Constable Courrier des Bois commented, “We’re calling out the dog squad on this one”.

“Over There”!

Just one more time…if I hear the words, “Over There” when I ask someone for directions to a street, a building, a washroom or  an item in a store…I promise to do something totaly irrational. Perhaps I will break out into a lively song and dance routine with Opal. The song? “Over There” of course! Yes, the toe-tapping, Johny-go-get-them WW I song written in 1917 by George Cohan. Mr. Cohan wrote the song  shortly after the USA  declared war on Germany. Many versions were recorded, including those by Billy Murray, Nora Bayes and Enrico Caruso….”And We Won’t come Back ’till it’s over, Over There!”. Perhaps it should become the international theme song for the blind.