Category Archives: blind tips

Accidental Olive Oil

A total lifestyle change can mean many things. It can mean no more drinking alcohol or caffeine, the cessation of smoking cigarettes, getting plenty of rest, adopting frequent exercise, or changing ones eating habits for the better. I’ve now done all of these. Except stopping caffeine. Coffee is my last vice. Nothing could make me give it up. Well, unless it threatened to kill me, I suppose. *Twitch*

Something I’ve learned about myself in my late thirties, is that I dearly enjoy living. In January after some physical symptoms I was having stumped my neurologist he sent me to my primary care physician, who decided to check my electrolyte and iron levels, and added a cholesterol test to my blood work as an afterthought. A few days later, I received a letter informing me that my cholesterol was high and my doctor recommended meds. I had a decision to make. I did not want more medication.

High cholesterol was most likely not what caused the symptoms I was having in December. My PCP narrowed it down to seasonal changes and needing more water. the more water thing flummoxed me since, other than black coffee, water is all I drink. But, turned out I needed more. I’m grateful my doctor added that last minute cholesterol test that day. She’s thorough like that and that’s why I love her.

When I received that letter, I made an appointment with her to discuss my options.. I wallowed for a week, eating everything I knew was bad, and then I hit the internet and taught myself about cholesterol and how to lower it with diet. I decided I would do it naturally because I did not want more medication. I’m on enough, thank you very much.

What I learned was that everything converts to fat. Duh, right? But that there are good fats and bad fats and hiding fats and hiding sugar which converts to fat and packaging labels lie and cholesterol raising ingredients are everywhere and man, it’s a dangerous world.

So basically, if I wanted to stay away from more medication, I would need to prepare all my food from scratch. Well, I told myself, here’s the push you need to finally begin preparing your own food.

I’d known for awhile that this had to happen, that the way I was eating was terribly unhealthy, like Frozen dinners (even those referring to choices that are healthy or cuisines that are lean) or fast food burgers that B picked up on the way home from work,yum. I would try and order the healthier items when we’d do take-out from restaurants, *cough* labels lie, but I was fooling myself, desiring the easy way out.

You know that phrase, nothing worth doing is easy?

In the weeks leading up to my doctor appointment, I began eating foods I prepared. I had a left over box of pasta in the cabinet so I would sauté fresh veggies and toss them with olive oil and pasta. I changed my frosted mini wheats for Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. None of that quick, packaged stuff with the yummy fruit. Remember those hidden sugars? Nothing processed for me, baby. I switched to 1% milk for my oatmeal and added raisins and honey. I made fruit salads with apples and grapes in non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for lunch. When I went back to my doctor I had lost seven pounds in two weeks.

I told her all the dietary changes I had made. I explained about exercising on week days. She congratulated me on the weight loss and said what I was doing was working. No pasta though. That converts to sugar which converts to fat and up goes your cholesterol. She said I could have a side of pasta sometimes. Who wants to put in the work of boiling pasta for a side dish though? Not this girl. I finished the box of pasta and bought no more.

My doctor was concerned that nothing I had mentioned included protein, so I added chicken to my list of things to learn to cook as well as beans. I now make hummus from scratch. I make it so from scratch in fact, that I buy five pound bags of raw chickpeas, soak them, and boil them. I want to know exactly what is in my food. I don’t trust those lying labels any more than I trust a lot of lawyers. This is my health, and if I’m going so far as to not take a drug that many people take and trust, I’m going to be serious about lowering my cholesterol another way.

*Cough* Except for dinner on weekends. Hey, a girl needs french fries sometimes.

Is this where olive oil comes in? Not yet. Well sort of. We are at the part of the post that involves olive oil, yes. Just not french fries.

Another thing I’ve changed about my life, is the addition of podcasts. I read something somewhere about podcasts being an excellent source for story ideas and examples of dialogue. That was my intention when I began listening to podcasts, to jot down dialogue ticks from listening to real people speak, and to add to my well of ideas. Who knew that learning more about the world would be so rewarding? That has been a welcome side effect.

My weekday routine now includes listening to NPR’s Fresh Air every morning while I prepare and eat my oatmeal, make the bed, and clean my teeth. Yesterday, I had to fast before going to get my blood drawn. It was the first check of my cholesterol since the lifestyle change. I’ll get the results next week. Hash tag fingers crossed. (I wrote out the words hash tag because I’ve taken to saying them when I speak, in case you were wondering, which you probably weren’t.)

Since I didn’t eat my oatmeal for breakfast yesterday, I didn’t listen to Fresh Air, so I listened to it today while I prepared my oatmeal. Every day while it’s cooking I grind beans for a cup of coffee and grab my agave nectar, almonds, and Greek yogurt. I cook raisins in with the oatmeal so they’re nice and plump, and doctor the mixture when it’s done nuking.

When I pulled the yogurt out of the fridge, the container felt as though there were liquid in it. I knew I was running low since tomorrow is grocery day, and sometimes yogurt gets a bit liquidy. (My Mac is telling me that liquidy is not a word, but on my blog, it is.)

the microwave beeped and, like always, I added a spoon full of yogurt to the hot oats. My attention was drawn away from the episode of fresh air when the spoon didn’t feel nearly as heavy as it usually does when full of Greek yogurt. I shrugged and tipped the spoon over the bowl.

It was then that I thought about the old Greek yogurt container in which I keep my olive oil, in the cabinet. I keep my oil this way so that I can ladle it out with my aluminum measuring spoons, bent in such a way that they are miniature ladles. I was taught this technique by a rehab counselor when i was newly blind. I’d pour my liquids into a cup, ladle the needed amount with the measuring spoon, then use a funnel to pour the liquid back into its container. Oil is such a mess though, that I simply keep it in a yogurt container I can easily ladle out of. I keep salt in an old butter container. Cinnamon, too. Just level off with the flat edge of a butter knife.

Luckily only one spoonful of olive oil made it into my oatmeal. I added my two spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds, stirred it all up, and prayed. I could taste the olive oil, but just barely. I bet anyone who didn’t know it was there, wouldn’t taste it. I thought hmmm, if I ever need to add even more olive oil to my diet than I already eat, I can just add a spoonful to my oatmeal.

How the olive oil got into the refrigerator right in front of where I keep the Greek yogurt, I’ll never know. It’s kinda like the day after my Y2K party, when I found the milk on the counter, and the scissors in the fridge. Only these days, I’m completely sober.

If I have any readers left after my unintentional hiatus, tell me, should I tell the story of setting my pants on fire while cooking chickpeas?

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Filed under blind blunders, blind tips, coffeeholic, doc, gratitude, humor as coping skill, num num food

Baking Blind Part 1 – Measuring

I decided to write some posts on how I bake blind. I asked on Twitter if anyone had any questions and the only response I got was from Davis:

@newspaper_man @Raynaadi yes…are you nuts? lol 🙂 i’ll think of something serious soon.

Davis is sighted and has always expressed interest when I tweet about cooking and such. Honestly, when people are impressed by something I do, it eggs me on and pushes me towards trying progressively harder things. I often think back on when I was first blind and my friend had to microwave my frozen tamales for me because my microwave wasn’t yet tactilly marked. Oh, how far I’ve come.

One of the classes I took at the blind center when I began my “blind education” as I used to refer to it, was basic cooking. We learned how to safely use a knife to cut, how to use hot things without burning ourselves, basically just how to do the things we used to do but this time without sight. We were given the recipes of the things we made in class and a friend of mine came over one day so we could make the stuffed mushrooms. Delicious! I had her put them in the oven though. I still wasn’t comfortable with that.

I think the stuffed mushrooms were probably the most complicated of the recipes. We made this awesome fruit dip, french toast, a microwave egg thing, different meats on the George Foreman grill, all with safety in mind.

When I decided a few months back to tackle baking, I combined what I knew about baking from Mom back in my sighted teenhood and added things I learned from the blind center. Practice began to make perfect and several batches (and another pant size up) later, I’ve come up with a system that works pretty well for me.

I was talking to my friend Chupa on the phone yesterday and we got around to talking about my desire to write baking posts. She laughed and said she almost suggested I write about baking when I asked for blog ideas on Twitter to help during NaBloPoMo. No one seemed to have any ideas in the Twitterverse haha. Anyway, on the phone she asked me how I measure things. So that’s what I’ll answer today.

Before I do anything, I move my coffee maker and paper towels off the largest part of my counters and wipe the entire surface down. Like a painter with a blank slate, I have to begin with a clean surface and tidy kitchen.

I had forgotten a lot of things about baking. I noticed this when I started again. I couldn’t remember if a measure of baking soda was heaping or level. Twitter helped a lot to refresh my memory, thanks bakers! It all came back to me. Baking is pretty precise in the measurements of things like baking soda/powder and flour. Those are the base ingredients that make a cookie a cookie or a cake a cake. Most recipes will call for whisking together all your dry ingredients in a bowl to be added later, which is nice because I like to measure all the dry stuff before my countertop gets wet. Measuring my flour etc first allows me to put the bowl away from the sink and any wet mess that happens.

The blind center gave us a handy tip for measuring small amounts of liquids and I’ve carried this tip over to my small amounts of dry ingredients. I use aluminum measuring spoons bent into miniature soup ladles. Wow, Voiceover can’t pronounce the plural of ladle haha!

We were taught to pour liquids into a dish so we could ladle out the proper amount. Vanilla extract for example. In class, we poured dry ingredients over the ladle, holding it over a bowl, and leveled off with the flat of a knife. We used a funnel to put the ingredient back into the jar.

I adapted this technique to fit my preference though. Instead of putting the dry ingredients back after measuring, I just took them all out of their original packaging.

I am my Gamma’s granddaughter. I save plastic containers. Small margarine container? This might come in handy. Cottage cheese container etc etc. So now my cinnamon and cream of tarter live in butter plastics (as I call all plastic containers). My baking soda is in a cottage cheese plastic. Oh I also keep some salt in a butter plastic. I keep that on top of the baking soda plastic so I don’t mistake it for cream of tarter. Ew! This makes it all super easy to just dip my ladle measure into the powder and level off with the flat of a knife.

To level I just hold the ladle over the container and run the flat side of a butter knife along the handle until I feel the spoon part and then I just run it across and the excess falls back into the plastic. Now I have a perfectly level ladle of the powder the recipe is calling for.

Back to the vanilla, I leave that in its original bottle. I have these little cups that came with my mom’s Corell dishes way back in the seventies haha! All the dishes are white with this green trim of flowers all around the edges. I don’t think I’ll ever use any other dishes. Anyway, one of the little cups has a pour spout on it. So I pour some vanilla into that cup and ladle the called for measurement into another dish. Then I slowly pour the vanilla back into the bottle. I do this over the sink in case I drip.

I jumped ahead a bit since I always do the vanilla and eggs after I’ve measured all my dry stuff, including flour and sugars. For those bigger amounts, I do it the same way I did when Mom taught me all those years ago. I still use her Tupperware measuring cups! They stack into each other nicely so it’s easy to feel the ascending order. I couldn’t remember what was what though so I did Facetime with Carol and she read what was what on the cup, wrote it down on her end, and then I typed the measurements into a text document. Only problem was, I kept having to check the document when a recipe called for something other than a 1/4 cup or 1 cup haha! Just the other day I was like ok I need to memorize these. There’s only six of them. Yes, I should just be able to think of them in terms of fractions and how they grow larger, but my brain doesn’t work that way. So now I just think to myself,4,3,2,3,4,1. That translates to 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4 and 1 cup. That’s just what works for me.

So Mom taught me to put my cup on a plate and then add what I’m measuring to the cup, making it nice and heaping. Then I take the flat of the knife again and level off the cup, the plate catching the excess. I keep my ingredients in containers with openings wide enough to easily pour the excess back in. I use the same plate for all my ingredients, just making sure it stays dry. Flour is done first since I measure the other ingredients it’s usually mixed with first, like baking soda and salt and such. Granulated and brown sugars are usually mixed together so I do my brown sugar last since it’s stickier.

Recipes almost always call for your brown sugar to be packed so there’s an extra step when measuring it. I use a large soup spoon and after every scoop of brown sugar I add to my cup, I use the round side of the spoon to pack it into the cup. I don’t level the brown sugar, just scoop and pack until it’s at the top.

I think that pretty much wraps up the measuring part of baking blind. My rule of thumb is, baking soda/powder and flour should be measured precisely as the recipe says. Ingredients like cinnamon and salt and even the sugars can be tweaked a bit based on taste. Oh chunky ingredients like oats and raisins and chocolate chips and nuts (yummmm) I measure in the specified cup but they’re usually slightly heaping, especially raisins.

Who’s hungry? I am. If you have any questions about measuring, just leave a comment. If you’re curious how I do other parts of the baking process blind, please leave a comment. Also, if you have a different way of doing any of this, I’m curious to know! These are all just ways I’ve learned or adapted to suit me.

Oh last thing. Mom taught me to wash my hands before starting a thing and never to touch my face or hair or clothing with my clean hands. I am a stickler about this especially now that my hands are my eyes and I touch everything. Good hygiene in the kitchen is important to me, so if you ever eat any of my baked goods, rest assured nothing except ingredients will be inside haha! I don’t go so far as to wear a hair net but my hair is always pulled back. Ew, hairy cookies!

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, blind tips, Gamma, mom, NaBloPoMo 2013, num num food, twitter me this, Voiceover

Rays Road Trip Day One

So I shut down my Twitter client so I would just focus on writing this post. I tell you, Twitter has ruined my blogging haha! I want to capture as many memories as possible from this trip so I’m just going to write. I can pretty much guarantee that this post will be long. (Yep, WordPress tells me it’s 3,600 words. Whoa!) My hope is to write about the first day today before the Rays game at one and then write about the second day tomorrow. Let’s see how I do.

So for those who don’t know, B and Jayden and I set out on Tuesday August 6 for Phoenix, AZ to attend the two Rays games against the Diamondbacks. B got us a really nice room at a brand new hotel in downtown Phoenix right near the park and the hotel was pet friendly with complimentary dog bowls. When B read me the description of the hotel my eyes lit up. I was a little leery of dealing with other dogs but if the place was pet friendly, there would be a nice and easy relieving area, right? Ha!

B got a fantastic deal on the room. He’s really gotten good at road trips on the cheap, using hotels.com. The closer it got to the trip the more excited I started to feel but I made myself keep on an even keel so I wouldn’t get exhausted before we even left. Added to the mix was the possibility that we’d be going on the field for batting practice before the Wednesday game. What? I know. I got a message about it from David Price’s lady, Tiffany, a few days before the trip. David Price wanted to get me on field passes. Oh. Em. Gee. I felt the excitement bubbling up inside me at the possibility, images began dancing in my head of walking with Jayden on the grass, could we walk the bases? Could I get an idea of how big the field is? I started thinking about meeting the guys, getting a hug from David Price so I could tell how tall he is, telling Evan Longoria all about how he gave me baseball, was all this going to happen? Whoa there, slow down, stop it girly. Stay even. Deep breath. No highs ok? Don’t start with the expectations. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst right? Yes, even for fun things. So I tried putting that out of my mind. I told my friend Manda on Twitter and of course I told B and Carol but that was it.

So anyway, I had been checking the weather in Phoenix. Not for the impact on the games since Chase Field has a retractable roof, but for me. I was happy to read that it would be dry there. It had been somewhat humid here and I know I know those of you who live in humid climates think I’m nuts but I live in the desert because it’s dry most of the time so when you add a little moisture, I feel it.

We left here about noon on Tuesday and I was reading Twitter on my phone. David Price was tweeting a lot about food, making me laugh. Then Sarah Maddon, who I really hoped to meet who lives in Phoenix, tweeted about rain and Jaime Edmondson, Evan Longoria’s lady, tweeted about rain and I was like what? No! It’s supposed to be dry! Sure enough, we soon encountered wet freeway the closer we got to Phoenix. Bullocks. I heard rain on the windshield. Normally I love rain, however when I have to leave the house and go out in humidity, it’s a problem. Oh well, brush it off.

We hit a little bit of traffic going into Phoenix but not major traffic jams, miracle. B let me know when we drove passed Chase and I said hi to the Rays though it was like 2pm so they probably weren’t there yet. B found the hotel and it looked like it was valet only. He drove around looking for a lot but nope, valet only. Ok so valet is nice right? But when you’ve been in the car for two hours, you want to get out and stretch and leisurely move. At least I do haha. Nope! You have to get out and get your stuff right away. I’m not used to valet anything. I’m a small town girl haha! There was also kinda loud music playing. Not your normal stuffy hotel music either. So I couldn’t hear very well. We were downtown too so there was traffic noise right there, traffic and music and I just told Jayden to find B and I went on auto pilot. Somehow we got inside. B was checking in and I asked about the relieving area when suddenly there was another dog in the lobby so I was controlling Jayden and explaining that he couldn’t say hi and then B was done checking in and I asked him if he heard where the relieving area was because I hadn’t.

I had made sure we got a room near the elevator so I wouldn’t have to walk Jayden too far down halls in the morning when he had to pee. We were on the sixth floor. Holy plush carpet Batman! We went up to the room so I could use the human relieving area then we went back out to relieve Jayden. Remember how I thought a pet friendly hotel would have a convenient relieving area? Ha!

We’re walking and I’m like, “are you sure this is where they said to go?” There’s traffic and we cross a street and I’m like what? And it’s humid and I’m covered in sweat and then we’re going up some steps and I’m like, “seriouslY?” I hear a fountain and B said yes, the grass by the fountain and then there’s grass. Wow. Alrighty then.

We get back to the room and there’s time to relax before we need to head to the field. I need coffee desperately. B starts looking for the coffee maker. Hmmm. Actually you know what? He looked for it before we took Jayden out. There was no coffee maker in the room. Are you kidding me? I asked when we took Jayden out and the concierge lady said she’d send one up. They have coffee on the second floor in the morning too. I also requested dog bowls. So when we got back to the room we had the dog bowls and a coffee maker. I collapsed on the couch thing next to the bed and begged B to start a pot of coffee. I’m imagining those little pots in most hotel rooms right? Wrong. B isn’t a coffee drinker but because of me, he knows how to brew boring old coffee in boring old makers. I hear him making questioning sounds and I’m like, it should just be a little packet of coffee like a tea bag. He hands it to me. Oh! This is a K cup! Uh oh. I don’t know how to use a Keurig. I know what they are but I’ve never used one. So B reads the instructions and gets it figured out and brews me a cup. A cup. For me. The coffeeholic. Ha! There were two K cups. Two cups of coffee. I had to save the other one for morning. Oh my. But, the one cup was ok for right then and there.

I think I tweeted some then, Jayden drank water, we relaxed. I turned on my Verizon hot spot since the hotel didn’t have free internet. It was getting closer to game time and I was getting more and more excited. I changed into my Rays shirt and hat and we got ready to go. We were just going to walk from the hotel. The description on the website said it was a seven to ten minute walk. Not bad and B said it wasn’t far. Ha!

{Pause writing to drink coffee}

Ok, where was I? Short walk, right. I fed Jayden and we set out, pausing at the relieving area. It was so humid right there because of the grass and the fountain so I was drenched in sweat before we even really began the walk. Thank goodness for the cloud cover! It really was a gorgeous late afternoon for a walk except for the humidity. Rain had really cooled things down nicely.

We walked and walked and walked. And walked. And then walked. Jayden wasn’t happy. There were surfaces he didn’t like. I wasn’t really ok physically which added to his discomfort so the walk wasn’t fun but we finally made it. We’re here? Finally? The Rays are here! yay!

We got the tickets I had ordered over the phone. I asked the will call girl about what would happen if I got field passes and she said if they were there tomorrow, they’d be at window one. Naturally I focused on her saying “if”.

We walked not very far inside before B found our section. It was blissfully cool inside Chase Field. I had bought accessible seats on the phone but B said, “this is supposed to be accessible?” I asked if there was an usher and one magically appeared. She looked at the tickets and explained that she would get us chairs. Our seats were indeed accessible! We got cushy folding chairs right where wheelchairs would go. We just positioned the chairs behind a row of seats so we had drink holders and everything. The usher closed a rope behind us and we settled in. Jayden had tons of room and the seats were great. We were on the first base line behind the Rays dugout and up a few levels. We hadn’t needed stairs or an elevator. We had been to Chase for a game back in 2009 when the DBacks played the Angels and back then they didn’t have nearly as much accessible seating as they do now.

So anyway, I put Jayden’s mat down but he immediately plopped his belly down on the cool concrete, resting just his head on the mat. He passed out. It was blissful to take my backpack off! I learned from the game in Colorado, which I haven’t even written about here oops, and brought my own radio. It’s the radio I got when I was first blind, before I had any iThings and digital audio books. It’s an AM/FM CD player, like you’d have in your office. We had to get batteries for it, batteries! How archaic! It took C batteries. I didn’t even know there was such a thing haha. The radio got good reception as long as I held it on my lap. Unfortunately I couldn’t listen to my guys, Dave Wills and Andy Freed. If only the At Bat app wasn’t two minutes behind. Oh well, luxury problem. I had a radio and that was all that mattered.

Are we to game time yet? I will turn this blog right around and go back home.

I had given our seat info to some friend son Twitter, something I also learned from Colorado. Before we left the hotel, I tweeted Dave Wills and asked him the best way to make sure we met since we missed each other in Colorado. He said to tweet him when we got there so I asked Manda to tweet him my seat location. I snapped a pic of the field and tweeted it to let my friends know we’d made it. B was hungry but the heat and humidity had zapped my appetite. I knew I needed to eat something so he got me some nachos and then went off to find food fore himself. I munched on nachos and listened to the sounds of the park, music playing, fans talking,, laughter, calls from the beer guy. The game wasn’t quite close to starting. I was just taking it all in. You can feel the enormity of Chase Field. It was just as impressive as it was the first time I was there in ’09 only more so now that my Rays were there. Joe Maddon was there! Evan Longoria was there! Wil Myers was there! David Price was there! Jim Hickey and Tom Foley and Fernando Rodney and Jose Lobaton and Jake McGee and Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist and and and!!!!

“Ro?”

Did I just hear Ro? I had just shoved a nacho in my mouth. The din around me and the sound of my chewing was playing tricks on me.

“Ro?”

I know that voice!!!! I turned around in my seat, waved, pointed at my mouth and the nachos.

“It is her!”

I set the nachos on B’s empty chair and stood laughing and shouting about my mouth being full. It was Dave Wills and Andy Freed!!!! Right there!!! the men I listen to every single day, the men who taught me baseball, the men I so wanted to meet! They were right there!

I hugged them both and jumped up and down and they met Jayden and we chatted and I said they needed a park like this in Florida and they said a bit smaller and we chatted and I can’t even remember about what exactly. It was so comfortable because they weren’t strangers to me at all. I know them, probably better than they realize. When you listen to someone talk on the radio for at least three hours for at least 162 games, you learn about them. Especially Dave and Andy because they are great friends so they chat on air and you really get to know them. And here they were! I was just so happy, probably the happiest I remember feeling in a very long time. B got back with his food and I introduced them and they razzed him about wearing a DBacks shirt and then they had to go to work and they said they’d come by the next day too and I whispered about the possible on field passes and said, “shhh I don’t know if it has to be on the down low” and they laughed and we hugged again and they were gone. Wow! Ok, I’m good, let’s go back to the hotel. We got up and left. Just kidding!

Oh, one thing that really impressed me about Andy Freed was he just came out and asked how I went blind. I love that! Just get it out there when you’re curious. I can’t remember which one asked me how long I’d had Jayden but I ended up explaining that he was raised for a year before his training and Andy Freed said he knows someone who raises puppies and I asked if it was for Southeastern Guide Dogs there in Florida and it was. It was just kinda cool to have that link with him. Puppy raisers rock!

So wow, the game part of this post is probably going to be the shortest part. It was so awesome to be able to cheer loudly for my guys and ring my cowbell. Coors Field in Colorado had banned cowbells. Maybe that’s why I haven’t written about that game. I didn’t really get to be a fan there. Anyway, I got to ring my bell and cheer and listen to the DBacks radio guys describe the action and B was there and Jayden was there and my Rays were right down there on the field and yay! I heard the crack of the bat in person and yay!

Ok so Jeremy Hellickson is a slooooow pitcher this season. It’s bad enough listening at home on the radio but it’s kinda torture at the park when he’s pitching and taking so long between pitches. I just knew Dave and Andy would be talking about how his defenders were on the field way too long and getting bored and the DBacks radio guys were definitely taking jabs at Helli and how slow he pitched. He did get a hit though! I Honestly don’t even remember a whole lot about the game itself. I was oh for one coming into the game since the Rays lost the one game I went to in Colorado so I was hoping for a win. I cheered and rang my cowbell when good stuff happened and I heard other cowbells and it was awesome to add mine to the chorus.

At one point, Evan Longoria was batting. I had my headphones on in both ears, keeping track of what happened. Then the crowd got loud for really the first time and completely drowned out the radio in my ears. I figured since the crowd had gotten loud, something good happened for the DBacks so I sat back and waited for it to quiet down. B shouted, “you were awfully quiet, why didn’t you cheer?”

“The crowd got loud, I couldn’t hear the radio, I figured they got him out.”

“Longoria hit a home run!”

Crap. Evan Longoria hit a home run at a game I was at and I didn’t even cheer because I didn’t know it had happened.

I said that to B and then said, “well, that’ll make a funny story for the blog.”

When I read Twitter that night after the game, there were so many tweets about Evan Longoria hitting a home run and how excited I must have been. All I could do was shake my head and chuckle. It was a valuable lesson. I kept my finger on the volume wheel after that so when the crowd got loud, I could turn up the volume.

When the DBacks fans did cheer for something good, I could tell the difference then. Unfortunately, the DBacks fans got to cheer the whole rest of the game since they won it. I was now oh for two. Bullocks.

We stayed until the last out. Even though my guys had lost, it had been such a fun night! I packed up and we waited for the crowd to dissipate some before heading out.

{Pause writing to drink coffee}

Just had a quick thought, in twenty years I can say I was at a game during Wil Myers’ rookie season, a game in which I didn’t know Evan Longoria hit a home run. Who else can say that?

I stopped at the ladies room and the female DBacks fans were all nice to me. Classy fans, they really are. I was so impressed with the way the park cheered for Ryan Roberts, who is now a Ray but who used to be a DBack. It was just a great experience all around.

As we were heading out I heard my name. It was Sarah Maddon! Yay!!! I was so hoping to meet her after talking to her on Twitter quite a bit this season. She’s tiny! I only know that because we hugged, not because I did that blind movie thing where the blind person feels up everyone they meet. I got to meet her husband too. We only chatted briefly and then the rest of her party were leaving so we parted ways. I had the biggest grin as we walked out! I got to meet three of the people I hoped to meet! yay!

It was a completely different world outside the park than it had been when we walked in. There was a saxophone player somewhere nearby playing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I sang along, a bounce in my step. There was music everywhere! Musicians on street corners, musicians in bars, music everywhere! There were people walking on the sidewalks, milling around outside bars, smoking cigarettes, talking and laughing. It was like we had been transported to a big city. Oh wait, that’s because we had haha!

We stopped and relieved Jayden before going back up to the room. Ah, quiet. I tweeted some and read all my mentions. My Rays Twitter Family had been very active and it made me smile to read all the messages. I love them so much!

I decided to shower that night because we had to check out the next day at noon. The shower was bizarre! Imagine a normal stand up shower with two sliding glass doors. It was like that, only with one door and it didn’t slide. It was where the shower head was and the other side was completely open. My uncle has an open shower like that but his is a big thing, this was just crazy haha. And it’s drafty hahaha!

It took me a long time to fall asleep and I didn’t sleep well. It had been such an incredible day and perhaps the latte I’d had in the seventh inning contributed to the sleep issue but man it was good. I had also been a little chilly in the air conditioned park.

The bed was extremely comfortable though I was confused at first. I always turn down the comforter and fall asleep with just the sheet. When I went to turn down the comforter I grabbed sheet. Huh? Turned out they made the bed with a sheet, the comforter, and another sheet, like a duvet cover that doesn’t close. Interesting. Haha! The room was swanky indeed. I was almost bummed we were only staying one night.

I think I’ve pretty much captured all of the first day. My arms are pretty sore now haha! Time to go through and edit and see if anything else comes to mind. Coffee first. 😉

Finished editing and Jayden asked to go outside and I checked the time. Whoa! Gotta love the writing induced time warp!

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, baseball, blind tips, coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, evan longoria, fellowship, gratitude, humor as coping skill, Jayden, jayden quirks, music, puppy raisers, relieving, spoons, twitter me this, weather, working dog, wow

Zombies Are Good For Your Health

As of the first of the year, my awesome gym situation at the blind center ended. It’s a long story, basically the hours changed and it didn’t work for me anymore. I had decided I would join a gym and was going to wait until February for the resolution rush to die down before I picked a gym and signed my life and soul away in a contract. My apartments have a little fitness room but it only works for me this time of year because in the summer, it’s way too hot to walk there and the room isn’t cool enough.

While I waited for February to roll around, I decided I’d do my TRX for strength training and dance for cardio. I get so bored with dance though. I don’t know enough moves haha! I decided to try this app I’d been hearing a lot about on Twitter. It had also been posted about at AppleVis so I knew it was mostly accessible. I remember reading something about the supplies part of the game not being accessible, but I just wanted the exercise part. I wanted to run from zombies.

Um, what? Did I read that right? Zombies?

You read that right. It’s an app called Zombies, run! and I absolutely love it! When I first started hearing about the app I didn’t think I could play it because I can’t go running outside and I have no treadmill but I started seeing other blind people talking about running around in their apartments or even just running in place. The more I heard about the app the more I wanted it and it has quickly become my favorite app aside from Fleksy.

Zombies, run! is basically an audio game. You can select the length of your missions, about thirty minutes or about an hour, you select your music playlists, choose whether you want it to shuffle or not, decide if you want to enable zombie chases, start your mission and begin pumping those legs.

The first story mission, (choose this mode to listen to a developing story you’re a part of with every run) starts with you riding in a helicopter. You are going to be dropped into a settlement where survivors of the zombie apocalypse need your help. Unfortunately your helicopter doesn’t quite make it and you have to run if you’re going to get to the settlement and safety. There is a man talking into your headphones, saying he can see you but he’s not sure you can hear him. I literally waved my arms above my head hahahaa!

EAch mission develops the story from there and you get to know the characters as you run each time. When the mission is over, radio mode is enabled and your music keeps playing along with fun voice clips. I do my long stretching sessions to radio mode. I love it!

Ok, wrote all that yesterday and now I’m writing tonight after doing a zombie run this morning. I jotted down some notes after today’s run so I wouldn’t forget. I finally got the hang of the zombie chases. For whatever reason my first several runs did not include any zombie chases even though I had GPS enabled. Then all of the sudden a few runs ago, I had a zombie chase, but I was caught even though I pumped my legs like crazy. To describe it exactly, I pretty much reenacted the Maniac scene in Flashdance. If you’ve never seen that movie, I’m sorry.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to read tutorials which I did not too long ago. I should have from the start. Oh well haha! I learned that when the zombie chase starts, your pace needs to pick up for up to a minute. Oh! So today I had two zombie chases and I evaded the mobs both times. Go me!

I also tried something new today. If you’re not blind, I’m sorry. If you are blind, chances are you have a white cane. This worked perfectly today to keep me running in one spot. I get the best results by mimicking running as best I can in one place in my apartment. It also happens to be right under an air vent. The problem was, I was drifting and bumping the walls if I didn’t hang on to a wall. But that seemed to constrict my movements. So today I jammed my white cane in the corner where the floor and wall meet and it worked like a charm! I was able to still pump the arm that held the cane but I didn’t drift and bump the walls.

Today I had to wonder if other runners get so into the game. I’ve really gotten in to the character of Runner 5. That’s who you are as a player. I wave at the guys when they say stuff, today I talked to them saying things like, “I’ll get that package!” Then I laugh at myself and think, I’d never have this much fun if I was doing this at the gym or on the streets. Then after the run was done and I was stretching while I took off my knee braces and sneakers, I was imagining the other inhabitants of Able Township walking by and patting my back since I had just returned from a mission with a very important box. I imagined that they all knew by now that I can’t really talk when I get back from a mission because I must cool down and stretch and stuff. Is it the goofy writer in me?

I really enjoyed radio mode today as I stretched. Jack and Sam I believe their names are, and today Janine got some talk time in which was funny. I just love radio mode! I have a playlist I created called Zombies Run that I have selected and Sam and Jack will talk a bit and then say they’ll play a song, so it’s like they’ve selected the songs you’ve selected. Today they said something like, this may or not be a Canadian we play next and I wanted so badly for one of the Canadian artists I have in the playlist to play, but alas, twas Abba.

Ok, That’s all I have for now. I adore this app! Oh, random funny from today, as the computer voice told me which supplies I picked up, “crutches” sounded an awful lot like “crotches”. Hahaha! Just imagine a robot computer voice saying, “collected too pairs of crotches”. Hmmm. Zombie crotches?

Oh wait! I can’t end this yet because I forgot the best part. The developers are working on Zombies, run! 2 and guess what? it’s going to be completely accessible. Do you know how excited I was to find out about this the other day? I’ve been able to manage supplies on the website which I found out after I got a mission that couldn’t be unlocked because I hadn’t supplied the hospital. I asked the @ZombiesRunGame Twitter account if there was some way around this and I got an answer immediately, that it should work on the website and sure enough it did. But in the next version of the game, the developers are making the supplies part of the phone app accessible. Yay! I adore developers who care! Needless to say that with my TRX and this app, I won’t be signing away my first born child to a gym. Yay!

Ok this turned into a monster post. Or rather a zombie post. Ba dum bum, ching!

*Addendum* this just in, click here to read about how Zombies,run! was born.

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Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, blind tips, cool product, funnies, gratitude, iPhone, music, plugs, silly girl, twitter me this, white cane, workouts

Beeping cat update

Ever since I wrote about how Timmy beeps at my command, I’ve gotten tons of search queries for “beeping cat collar”. Wonder how much money I would have made if I were an Amazon associate? Enough for the iPhone?

Anyway, thought I’d give an update. It works like an absolute charm! I can’t speak for all cats, but Timmy has gotten completely used to the collar.

There are a few times when I beep him that he makes me give chase, but it’s kind of a fun challenge and it increases my ear/hand coordination and helps with my agility. He gives up after a few minutes and remains still.

On most occasions however, he puts himself in a room. Here’s where it gets fascinating.

In the mornings, I put him in the spare room since B is still sleeping. In the afternoons, I put him in the bedroom. It’s been that way since before I got the pet locator. So now here’s what happens.

In the mornings when I beep him, he’s either already in the spare room, or he runs in there on his own. In the afternoons when I beep him, if he’s not asleep on the couch, he puts himself in the bedroom. He is such a smart cat. It’s like he thinks he wins if he puts himself in a room rather than giving me the satisfaction of finding him.

The freedom has completely taken away the stress of leaving my apartment. I highly recommend for anyone struggling with an escape artist cat.

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Filed under Amazon, blind tips, cool product, Timmy

A beeping cat has set me free

One of the best lessons I learned after getting sober is, keep it simple. After going blind, that simple statement became imperative. Combined with the lesson my dad taught me as a kid when I couldn’t find my keys, always keep them in the same place, I’ve found ways to keep my life simple to make being blind a lot easier. Everything stays in the same place and when possible, small items are kept in a tray or cup or clipped to something. I always know where my keys are. I remember where I put that chocolate…

With a cat however, this is impossible. Especially a cat with dreams of roaming the outside world.

When I used the white cane, I swept the door before coming in the house to keep Timmy the cat from escaping. When I first came home with Jayden, just the big yellow dog walking in the door kept Timmy from escaping. That all changed when Timmy convinced Jayden to help him escape.

That was almost a year ago and it’s been a major pain ever since. I had to start putting Timmy in the bedroom every time I wanted to leave the house or he’d get out on me. On the occasions that I couldn’t find him, I’d use the cane while trying to get Jayden out the door and keeping the cat inside. There have been several times that I’ve needed to do laundry and couldn’t find the cat and there’s no way to get Jayden, the laundry cart and myself out the door while sweeping the cane. There were so many times that I felt held hostage by a feline. Not at all fun and a pretty stressful existence.

On mornings when B got up at the same time as me, he could find Timmy and put him in the spare room. On weekends however, B sleeps late and there were several times I thought I might have a nervous breakdown trying to find Timmy so I could take Jayden out.

Months ago, Carol found this pet locator on Amazon. One of the reviews is from a guy who uses it on his cat. I’ve lusted after this thing ever since and while it’s always been on sale, I didn’t want to spend the money, thinking maybe it was silly to spend money on something that would make Timmy beep.

It’s not that simple though. I think peace of mind is worth thirty five bucks, don’t you?

B finally ordered it for me last week after another incident of not being able to find Timmy. It arrived Monday but we had no collar. Wednesday I needed to do laundry and couldn’t find timmy for over two hours. I was totally freaking out. B stopped at the store on the way home but the only collars they had were flea and tick collars, which didn’t work since it needed a ring to attach the receiver to.

Yesterday Carol and I were running errands and we stopped by Petco to get a collar. All the cat collars were stupid! They all had rhinestones on them. I’m sorry, but I’m not Paris Hilton and Timmy is a boy cat. They also didn’t have rings on them, just bells. The bell would come off since neither B nor I wanted to hear a bell jingle around the house. A bell would never have worked for me since if Timmy wasn’t moving, the bell would be silent.

So Carol and I found a dog collar for small dogs. Perfect.

Timmy now beeps at my command! He doesn’t much care for the collar but he’s gotten used to it quickly. I know collars can be dangerous for cats, but since he’s an indoor cat, I don’t think there’s anything he can get hung up on in the house.

This morning when I got up, Timmy wasn’t on the couch. I pressed the button on my remote and followed the beeping. It came from the spare room. I beeped it again to make sure and closed the door to take Jayden out. Freedom!!!

Timmy has more freedom now because of the collar. Now I don’t need to keep him in the bedroom for the sake of not needing to find him again later. He would spend nearly all day in the bedroom when I had a lot of in and out to do. Now he’s in there for five minutes and set free again.

A little while ago I wanted to go outside again so I clicked the remote and found Timmy sitting on the cat tree. Perfection!!!

I am so, so relieved. The transmitter is a little larger than I would have liked. The description says there are flat ones that you affix to a cell phone or something, so I might see if I can figured out a way to attach that one to the collar.

Aside from that, it’s the perfect solution to the silly problem of being held hostage by a feline.

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Amazon, blind tips, cats, cool product, gratitude, Jayden, sobriety, Timmy, white cane

Swiffer sweeps away domesticated blues

I strongly recommend the Swiffer Sweeper Vac and the Swiffer Wet Jet and let me tell you why.

I got the Wet Jet how long ago? Awhile ago. It works well, but I could never get my floors swept very well before I used it, and if you don’t sweep, it doesn’t work as well. It definitely doesn’t pick up all the hair and tiny pebbles and such, the things that end up on my floors. I end up with my hair, dog hair, cat hair, and tiny pieces of cat kibble since Spinelli likes to play with her food.

I tried sweeping into a corner and using the vacuum hose. I tried sweeping into a corner and using the dust pan. But all the hair would collect on the broom and just push everything further.

I looked for the Swiffer Sweeper Vac at Walgreens. I’ve been pining after it since Georgie told me she uses it and the Wet Jet on all her floors and that’s all she uses. Walgreens didn’t have it, but B spotted it at the grocery store and picked it up for me.

I think the Wet Jet was like $25 or so. The Vac is about $45. Sooooo worth it.

Awhile ago at Target, I bought a big box of pads for the Wet Jet and some refill cleaner, which by the way is non toxic. But I just haven’t used it much. I’ve pretty much given up on having clean floors since going blind and getting fatigued so quickly.

Today I finally got the Vac out. B bought it last weekend and put it together, then showed me how to use it. You actually charge it so no need for batteries. There is a little thing that flips down over where you attach the cloths that go on the sweeper part. The vacuum deal is right ahead of the cloth. There is this cup with a little filter that pop in and out right above the vacuum deal.

I did my kitchen, entryway and bathroom with it and you wouldn’t believe how full that cup got. And I just swept last week. I mean that cup was jam packed. I did it in bare feet and kept walking all over the floor as I swept and didn’t feel a thing on my feet.

Following it up with the Wet Jet was a cinch and now my floors feel sooooo clean! As clean as they’ve felt in a looooong time. I think I’ll do the wet paper towel test and have B take a look at it. You know when you spill and wipe up with a paper towel? I’m hoping the paper towel won’t be black. That’s the true test of clean floors.

I am in love with that thing. I’m sure there’s still grime on my floors from not being able to clean them properly, so if I do this every week, soon there won’t be a whole lot of cloths needed each week. I only used one and it didn’t feel all that dirty. I think that vacuum thing gets to most of the crap before the cloth.

As someone who fatigues easily, this thing is a breeze. It’s so lightweight. I was already tired before I set out to do my floors, and I was still able to do it.

Holy crap, I’m so in love with the combo of the two!

No, Swiffer did not ask me to write this. I am raving about a product just because I love it, which is kinda rare lol.

Coming soon, the Silicone Sally and Medicare nightmare.

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Filed under blind tips, cool product, Spinelli, spoons

George Foreman grill Quesadilla burger

I don’t remember what day I wrote this. I was getting creative with food while B was gone since we usually do take out, and one of my creations was so good I wrote it down one night and never posted it.

***

Ok yum. I only cook every once in awhile. There are just times when the idea is appealing lol. I love to use my George Foreman Grill. It’s the small one, with no temperature dial, just one temperature.

One thing that Saavi taught me when it comes to cooking is to start with a cool surface. So I don’t plug the grill in until whatever I’m cooking is in place. I don’t do this religiously, like if I’m cooking more than one thing on it. I’ll unplug it between items, but it’s still warm for placing the second item.

So I made a quesadilla burger today and wow. I thought I’d share what I came up with. I doubt it’s the healthiest, but it’s delicious. 🙂

*You can do this with no meat too and it makes a yummy cheese quesadilla

What you need:

1 pound hamburger meat. *I make four burgers out of this
1 package onion soup mix
Shredded cheese *I like the Mexican blend and just use store brand
Minced garlic to taste *I have a jar in the fridge
Chopped onion to taste *I keep a bag of frozen chopped onion in the freezer, thanks Carol
A dollop of margarine
1 medium sized tortilla
Anything else you like on a burger

Prepare the meat:

In medium sized bowl, mix one packet of onion soup mix with the pound of hamburger. Add some water, only a tablespoon is needed, though I don’t measure. Mush it up with your hands. (I’m crazy about washing every time I handle raw meat)

Once it’s mixed, I take small zip lock bags and turn them inside out, using it like a glove. I grab about a quarter of the meat, flip the bag bag inside, and before I zip it, I form into a patty while inside the bag. I end up with four bags with a patty inside. This works great for freezing unused portions. If you’re going to make burgers right away, you don’t need to do this. I just never make four. When I want one, I just take the patty out of the freezer in the morning and leave it in the sink until it’s still cold but not frozen. If you’re still not gonna cook, just throw it in the fridge.

In small microwaveable cup, add the dollop of margarine, garlic and onion. Microwave on high for about 15 seconds. This sort of sautees the stuff without having to use a frying pan. Let sit in microwave for about 2 minutes to finish cooking.

Grill the patty on the Foreman Grill. I never grease my grill. It takes oh maybe 5 minutes, I just go by smell and sound of sizzling to know when it’s done.

Take tortilla and sprinkle some cheese on half of it. Take out your onions and garlic and pour over cheese. I then used my hand to grab the butter left over and wipe it on the outside of tortilla, and on the other half. It’s really only a very thin coating.

Remove patty from grill and place over cheese on half the tortilla. I added more cheese on top of the patty.

Fold tortilla over, I kind of manipulated the patty and cheese so it would fold over evenly.

At this point my grill had cooled off slightly. I held the quesadilla like a taco and used it to find the grill and place it in the center. Close the grill and heat.

It only took about 2 minutes. I open the grill and tap with a spatula to tell if it’s crispy.

Remove and enjoy!

It was soooo good. I’m wishing I’d had some Louisianna hot sauce. It’s kinda like Red Devil, just a kick without being so hot it hurts.

I just came up with this today and knew I had to share. It was sooo good and easy to do blind. I’m all about easy.

To clean your grill, just wipe down with wet paper towel while grill is still warm. If you forget, warm the grill a little and then you can just wipe it clean. Just be careful, and the paper towel will sizzle a little.

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Filed under blind tips, cool product, num num food

Eating waffles

Ah waffles. I finally got my waffles. When I did my last grocery order, which I really only do about every month or two, I ordered Eggo waffles. But when the guy came with the groceries, he said they didn’t have any waffles. I thought it was weird and I was telling someone about it when they told me something had been wrong with all the Eggo waffles. Weird.

So at school we had waffles one morning and I’ve wanted them ever since. When I did my grocery order yesterday, there still weren’t any Eggo waffles, but I was able to get the store brand.

So my groceries were scheduled to be delivered today between one and three and all I could think about were the waffles. Tick tock. Tick tock. Finally they came at a quarter to three. I put all my groceries away and then stuck two waffles in the toaster. It might have been too close to dinner but I didn’t care. We don’t usually eat until six or seven on Fridays anyway.

So at school, the syrup came in this little dish. I didn’t want to deal with trying to eat messy syrupy food with silverware. I’ve eaten pancakes a few times and they’re a pain in the butt and very sticky. So at school, I just ripped off pieces and dipped them in the syrup. The only thing missing was butter.

So today I decided to put a dollup of butter and some syrup in a little dish and heat it up to dip my waffles in. I got too much syrup so I didn’t taste much of the butter, but man it was good. And not messy at all. I find now that I’m blind, anything I can make into finger food is sooooo much easier to eat. So I thought I’d share that little hint. I bet it works with pancakes too. 🙂 Oh and at Chili’s, they have chicken fried chicken fingers you can dip in country gravy. It satisfies my craving for chicken fried steak quite nicely. Now if only they’d make chicken fried steak fingers…

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind tips, num num food, random stuff

Doggy Countdown – Laundry Lessons

I love how I don’t even have Insert yet and I’m already more independent hehehe! I decided to do a load of laundry today, because I didn’t get around to it Sunday like I had planned. I’m getting closer to starting to actually pack, so getting something done daily is helping.

Anyway, I went down, loaded the washer, checked the time when I started it so I’d know when to go back, and headed back to the apartment, pulling my cart. A woman stopped me and introduced herself and asked if I needed help. Nope, I’m good, thanks. I’m getting a guide dog, so I’m almost done with this thing. I waved my cane when I said that. She said she had never seen one in action and I told her she’s about to lol.

When it was time to go back, I went, transferred my clothes to the dryer, feeling around in the machine and on the floor around it in case I dropped something. It’s one of those front load washers. I put my clothes in the dryer, checked the time again, and headed for home.

I checked stuff online, then it was time to go back.

I pulled my cart behind me and entered the laundry room. The dryers are on the wall to the right as you walk in, so I was walking towards my dryer. Someone had been drying clothes earlier, but the room was quiet aside from my dryer. I walked towards it when I got the unpleasant surprise of running into the upper dryer door that someone had left open. Doh! I got mad at the person, but then remembered Dave telling me to put my hand at the level of my eyes when there are possible head height obstructions. So I waited for my clothes to finish, thinking about how I should hold my cane next time and then thought I should just trail the counters instead of the dryers next time lol!

Took my clothes home, hung everything up, folded my socks and I didn’t lose a one!

But then I was folding underwear and I was short two pair. Damn.

Back to the laundry room. I went to the washer but it was already in use. I felt around on the floor again, then on the counters. Then the dryer. Aaround the floor. No underwear.

I was leaving when I thought to check the top of the washer. Score! There were my wet underwear in a lump on the washer hahahaha! I crammed them in my pocket and went back home hahahah!!!!

So those were two very valuable lessons hehe!!

I just got done eating and just before that, B and I went through the packets finally so I could check to make sure my plane tickets match my ID and they do. I went through and signed all the releases. I had read the email again this morning, and I could have sent them in, or brought them to school, so that’s good, since I kept forgetting to do it. Out of sight out of mind. 😉

So now I can start packing slowly. I’ll do some more laundry this weekend and I’m good to go!!

6 days!!!!!

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind tips, Doggy Countdown, Doggy Diaries, Insert, laundry, pooch preparation, silly girl, white cane