Category Archives: Voiceover

I’m Home

It wasn’t a geographical in the AA sense of things, since I wasn’t running away from something, I was running to something. And I think I’ve found way more than I bargained for.

That was the thought running through my head this morning that made me run to my computer after refilling my coffee, knowing I needed to write a blog post. I got out of bed early today since I lay awake thinking of how close I was to finishing the first draft of the memoir – finally. I used NaNoWriMo this year to fully commit to the memoir. I studied memoir in October, reading “The Memoir Project” by Marion Roach. The book was recommended on Twitter by Josh Hanagarne @JoshHanagarne), author of “The World’s Strongest Librarian”, and I will be forever grateful to him for that recommendation. The book showed me how to structure the memoir and how to plan to write it. It showed me to find the message I wanted to convey, and that helped me narrow down which parts of my life were relevant.

What I have is a 50,550 (cool number, eh?) word sketch draft of this memoir, with the ending I imagined while doing my prep work.

I have a finished, first terrible draft of a book!

I’m pretty sure it’ll be longer than what I have now, because as I wrote, I would remember things that will need to go in, but I just jotted those down as notes to be added during rewrites. I’ll be learning Windows and Jaws *gulp* for the editing process, because the Mac and Voiceover is sorely lacking in the word processing department. Luckily, I’m in the right place with a Windows geek who can help me with that. Pray for him. *wink wink*

When last I posted, I listed all the challenges I’d been through with my benefits. I had planned to post again with fun stories about moving here, and I’ll still do that, but not in this post. Today I just wanted to post about finishing my first draft, because the feeling is incredible. I’ve finished multiple drafts of two short stories now, and those felt great, but finishing the first draft of this memoir, a book that’s been fighting to get out since way back when I had a Blogger blog, feels absolutely incredible.

I think it’s this move to Washington. It felt like home before I ever got here, and I’m so grateful it has felt more and more like home the longer I’ve been here. My creativity has grown in leaps and bounds here. I can stand outside in the front yard and just be, just listen and feel and smell. It’s so alive here! Everything is alive. Grass, trees, the nearby ocean that I smell when I step outside, everything is living, including me.

Without a doubt, I know this is home now. though I suppose we’ll see what I say in February, eh?

I’ve had to put some money down on warm stuff, but not much. I got thermal underwear on Amazon that I wear every day under my sweats and three tops, ha! David’s, and now my, friend took me to Value Village for a member’s only sale. This woman knows how to bargain hunt! I got two winter coats and a bunch of warm stuff to wear around the house. I’m currently wearing wool socks, thermal pants, sweats, a tight tank top, thermal shirt, fleece shirt, hoodie, NaNoWriMo beanie, and fingerless gloves. I’m pretty much warm, ha! I freaking love it!

It’s not so fun when it’s wet, but I’m getting used to it. The raincoat I bought for guide dog school hangs in the mud room, ready to grab to keep dry, and I’m waiting on a rain coat I ordered from GDB for Jayden. I certainly never expected to be buying a doggy raincoat. I never expected to move to Washington, either, so it just goes to show how unreliable expectations are. Tip: don’t have expectations, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Near the end of October, while I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and taking a fiction writing class, we met up with some of David’s family and went to the Hobuck beach at Neah Bay. David, his son, and cousins, all surfed. In the cold. I’ll be trying it in the summer if all goes as planned. Hey now, watch those expectations.

For Thanksgiving, we went to David’s parents’s house for salmon dinner. A lot of Salmon is eaten here, which is excellent, because salmon is a good anti-inflammatory food. Antiinflammation food? Hmmm. Anyway, we eat a lot of salmon and I love it.

There have been challenges. I’m still ironing out all the benefits stuff. It turns out that Medicare does follow you from state to state, but if you have a Medicare advantage plan like I had in Arizona, tying Medicaid and Medicare together with an insurance company like United Healthcare, you have to do more than just cancel your state’s Medicaid. Unbeknownst to me, my Medicare stuck to Arizona even after I cancelled Medicaid, and the only reason I found out was because when my new doctor tried to write a neurology referral, my new health group didn’t take my Arizona insurance, which I thought I had cancelled. Long story short, I had to call Medicare and get on a basic plan, and get on a prescription drug plan. As far as I understand it, everything should be straightened out on December 1, and I’ll officially be a Washingtonian, *knock on wood*.

I wasn’t planning on going into all that, but the fingers write what the fingers write. I have another call to make about my Medicaid, because I have a navigator woman with my medical group, who said I should not be on that ridiculous spend down thing. So fingers crossed she’s right.

So there’s another update for you, my one dear reader *cough* Torie *cough*. I’m thinking as I revise the memoir, maybe I’ll post things that end up on the cutting room floor. Though perhaps not until I know for sure. Better safe than sorry.

***Tip*** When taking your dog to the beach, no matter how short a leash you have him on, he’s still at risk for beach gut. Did you know that’s a thing? Yup, that’s a thing. My did Jayden get sick. Silver lining: I took him to the neighbor’s vet, which I really liked.

13 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, family, GDB, gratitude, holiday, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, num num food, twitter me this, vet visit, Voiceover, weather, writing

My first Published (not here) Book review

What? Ro is writing a post in the middle of the month? What’s going on here? (Sorry, I’ve been writing about myself in the third person for bios on sites and stuff.)

You know what else is crazy? the Cubs are in the playoffs, the National League Championship series at that. Back to the Future could be right, ya’ll.

I’m posting today to link to my first published book review over at Disability in Kid Lit. They are a wonderful group of people spreading awareness about disability in young adult literature. Here is my review of Romancing the Dark in the city of Light by Ann Jacobus. I first mentioned reading this book back in August’s book post. Can I pretend August never happened though? Ha!

I had a great time working on this review and am thrilled to announce that I’ll be doing more for them. Exciting! I learned a lot during the editing process and having something published somewhere other than here, by someone other than me, is just cool.

I’ve been asked if there is an audio version of ‘romancing the Dark’ and as of now, I know Audible doesn’t have one. I’ve sent a question to the author about that. I read the book in my Kindle app with Voiceover.

Hey, Ann’s book people? You should get Allison McLemore to do the audio book. though I’m not sure how she does with French accents. She’d freaking nail Summer’s snark, though. Ooh ooh or Julia Whelan! yeah!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Audio books, baseball, plugs, twitter me this, Voiceover

My First Submitted Fiction – What A Ride

I need to just free write a post while my body calms down. I just submitted my final draft of ‘That Meddling Dog’ for the YA anthology. Now I wait. Will it be chosen? Will I get my first real rejection? What happens next?

I began work on the story on May 30 and received the final draft from my volunteer copy editor yesterday. the writing and revising was awesome, ending up five hundred words over the limit and getting it down to the six thousand, sending new revisions off to my friends and getting their feedback and talking about things that happened and how the story affected each reader differently and change this word for that and get rid of that story line all together because there’s no room for it and I wasn’t ready to introduce that character anyway but oh I still need to reference him ok let me just change his name.

All the creative stuff was awesome, naturally, then it was coming down to the wire, the story pretty much done, the surface so shiny from all the polishing that I could see my reflection and all that was left was formatting. the visual part.

I’ve known I have a trigger happy thumb. I’m sure it’s evident in this post since I’m not being careful at all, just getting thoughts down. I enter way too many spaces. There’s no way with Voiceover and my word processing program, Pages, to easily tighten up spacing issues. So I went character by character of a six thousand word document, deleting spaces.

Wanna hear a sample of that process?

After I got done deleting extra spaces, I went through and added all my paragraph indents. I do all my first drafts in a basic app called Text Edit, kinda like Notepad for Windows, since it’s the easiest for me to use with voiceover. When I’m writing my first drafts of a fiction story, I never remember to tab for paragraphs and dialogue and I’m not sure that would copy over to Pages anyway.

So I went through and added my tabs and then I counted the new lines of a blank document. fifty lines. I wanted to do that thing with new chapters so the chapter would begin halfway down the page, right? So I’d find the new chapter and press enter twenty-five times. In my head, there’s the white space for the chapters.

I exported the Pages document, was it twenty-seven pages or seventeen I can’t remember. Anyway, converted it to Word for my volunteer copy editor and sent it off Wednesday. Deadline Sunday. today is Saturday. Are you with me?

I’m feeling so good about it. Really good. I feel like the story is solid, the protagonist being a secondary character in the main novel I’ve had in my heart and have worked on for years, and the protag from that novel in the story too. I feel great about it. I’ve had fun hanging out with my kids and creating new ones.

Then Thursday morning, before I’ve had coffee, before I’ve played Trivia Crack, I check email on my phone.

Don’t check email on your phone when you haven’t had coffee or played Trivia Crack and you’re already a bundle of nerves from this whole process oh and when Brian is in Sedona for a conference and your sleep is all messed up from staying up all night on Tuesday in a Google hangout with your besties.

email from copy editor lets me know he found extra spaces and other formatting stuff. Extra spaces. After I spent two days going character by character to get rid of them. Words that aren’t capitalized, crazy stuff. Stuff I know I fixed right?

turns out, when you export from Pages to Word and vice versa, formatting errors occur. So I can’t just go through, read his comments, fix what I agree with, stet the rest. this isn’t going to work. I can’t fix those visual errors. I can’t figure out how to make his comments correspond to the area of the manuscript which they refer. I start to panic. I’ve worked so hard. I love this story.

I’m reminded that I’m blind.

later I talk to Ricardo on the phone. He looks at the document with voiceover on his Mac. We try and figure out the comments thing. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s Thursday and the deadline is Sunday. Should I send the manuscript to Amanda who is also blind but uses Jaws with Word? She can fix the formatting issues, keep it in the blind family. but then I still can’t convert back to Pages.

Oh crap I totally left out the cathartic screaming crying fit from earlier in the day. I threw myself on the bed and screamed into my pillow so hard it hurt. I sobbed and sobbed. the cats piled on the bed with me. All I want to be is a writer and there’s all these barriers.

When I’m talking to Ricardo I’m trying so hard not to let the tears come but they do because I can’t do this. I can’t be a writer. There are too many challenges. I need Jaws and Word. All those things I’ve heard for years about Mac and voiceover not working well for professionals, all those things are true. Who am I kidding? I’m a blind disabled nobody and that’s who I’ll stay.

No.

Fuck that.

Deep breath.

Talking to Ricardo. He’s saying all the things I know in my heart, all the things my doubts want to kill. Sure it’s hard. Sure there are barriers. But there are also resources. Amanda told me to use my tools. What are my tools.

Email from the Professor. He can fix the visual stuff. He can just do it, we can talk in the morning, Friday, then he sends me the Word file, I don’t touch it, I submit that.

I tell Ricardo. Should I do that?

Hell yeah!

Weight lifts from my shoulders. People. People are my tools. People are more than happy to help a person who’s doing as much of the hard work as she can on her own.

I think back to the meetings. God will do for me what I can’t do for myself. For me right now, god is those people.

I’m going to be a published writer. I know this. This experience has been so valuable. Even if TMD doesn’t get picked for the anthology, the things I’ve learned from making it the best story it could be are invaluable.

And if it does get published? It could be a launching point.

I struggled with whether to include in my bio that I’m blind. I don’t want to be picked because I’m blind I want to be picked based on the merit of the work. But then I thought back to my last job, the one voc rehab helped me get and they told me not to disclose my MS. Look where that got me? I didn’t get any of the help I needed to be successful while working with a debilitating disability and I went blind.

so I chose to disclose. If I’m going to use the resources available as a blind writer, I can’t pretend I’m not. Hey look at that, tense change. I’m really bad at staying in tense. Hehe! Wait, in tense. Hahaha. Oh but I am so intense at times. In tense. intense. I love freaking words.

I thought back to an essay I read years ago that pissed me off so bad I almost wrote about it here but chose not to. the essay was written by a visually impaired woman who had kept her impairment secret for the same reasons I almost did. She had to admit it though, because she was loosing more and more of her vision.

I was so angry at her at the time but now I get it. It sucks to have to look your weakness full in the face. it sucks to admit oh crap, I can’t do this all on my own. It sucks. It’s painful. I understand now why she wanted to hide it and how much pain she must have been in the day she decided to post that essay.

I have put myself out there now. Until today, five people read TMD. Two blind friends, a young adult friend, and two sighted friends. Friends. All people who care about me. Now the story is in the hands of strangers.

It’s like bearing your soul, which Strunk prepared me for when I read his book.

I slept and slept and slept last night. I woke up at eleven this morning, an hour into the Rays game. So not like me! I was, and still am, exhausted.

After the Rays won (yay!) I opened the submission manager. Deep breath. Heart began racing.

“My heart is racing,” I say.

“Why, because you guys won?” Brian asks.

“No, I’m about to submit the story.”

“Oh!”

He knows what a journey this has been. He’s heard me mumbling during revisions, that doesn’t sound right, how can I reword that, he knows how important this is to me.

Of course I ran into a quick technical issue while looking for the file, the only one on my desktop, to submit. Silly mac.

I clicked submit. There goes the bio I wrote, there goes my baby, bye!

“Your submission has been sent.”

Oy vey, right? Holy crap. I mean holy crap! I tweeted, then grabbed Timmy and went to cuddle him in bed. His purring soothes me. I lay in bed, collecting my thoughts, the feeling slowly returning to my feet.

Now we wait. I posted on Facebook that I’m equal parts sure it will be accepted and that I’ll get my first real rejection.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing. Ren and georgie insist on it and their story isn’t done. They’ve got at least an entire novel to appear in, if not two or three. And my friend Dulce made her appearance in TMD when I had to work in a flashback to explain something. We find out she had her first kiss. And Dulce the character needs to meet Jedi the dog, who will love her as much as Jayden loves the real Dulce.

This story isn’t over. It’s just beginning!

4 Comments

Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, baseball, cats, coffeeholic, faith, fellowship, gratitude, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, misty eyes, screen reader, silly girl, spoons, Timmy, twitter me this, Voiceover, writing

‘Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English’ by John McWhorter – narrated by John McWhorter – ‘The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Structure of DNA’ by James D. Watson – narrated by Grover Gardner and Roger Clark

These next two books on my never ending audio book list are educational type books. I absolutely love learning as long as it’s about something I’m interested in like the english language or DNa, not say, accounting or ditch digging. Now, I love learning about accounting when my friend Georgie talks about it because her enthusiasm for it is contagious especially since she does things like forensic accounting and when you throw the word forensic before anything, it makes that thing that much more interesting. I couldn’t read a whole book about accounting unless maybe Georgie wrote it or it was about forensic accounting. Now, forensic ditch digging? That has some major promise! Where was I going with this? Ah yes, today’s books.

Today’s books were both daily deals and they appealed to my love of learning. ‘Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue’ is a fun history of the english language though I must admit that my mind wandered quite often. I think one who studies linguistics would hang on every word but for me, I just laughed at some of the pronunciations and enjoyed how excited McWhorter sounded as he narrated his work. You can most definitely tell he’s a language geek and that made listening to the book all the more fun despite the sometimes dry subject matter.

I think a book about language is perfect as an audio book because you can hear the correct pronunciation of words. As a screen reader user, I’ve given up on the fun Mental Floss articles about words because voiceover just garbles it. I enjoyed that aspect of Bastard Tongue. You know nothing, John Snow. What? never mind.

‘Double Helix’ took me back to my youthful excitement in freshman biology with Mrs. Stewart when she told us about Watson and Crick, the two men who discovered DNA. Those names have always been with me since that lecture my freshman year turned me to a life of science and medicine and DNA combined with forensics made me love true crime and find an odd sense of fascination with serial killers. So when this book was a daily deal, I snatched it up.

Much like it’s now exciting for me to read about an author’s journey as he or she writes a novel, learning what the struggle was like as these two young scientists raced to discover the secret of life before anyone else was fascinating. the book read more like a memoir with a scientific discovery attached than an educational book about DNA. That disappointed me a little since I was looking forward to the science. Late high school and in to college, my online name was DaNA. Screen readers, that’s a capital d, lower case a, capital n, capital a. Dana for Dana Scully of the X-Files and DNA jumped out visually with that lower case a in the middle. Science geek anyone?

I enjoyed these two books but I certainly could never be one who reads nothing but nonfiction. I just need to throw in a nice educational book every so often to supplement what I learn in my daily online reading haha. Oh and the DNA book being narrated by Grover Gardner? Score! Love him.

Both books got a rating of entertaining.

‘Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue’ at Audible

‘The Double Helix at Audible

So this worked well, working on this post at the time I did. I’m trying to figure out what will be my writing schedule for my books. Today I read Twitter, news and stuff while having morning coffee, had cereal and made the bed, then sat down to work on the post. I’ll try this again tomorrow and see how it works. I won’t be finishing and posting just yet since I have a phone call scheduled, but it became a good chunk of writing. Everything I’ve read from successful published authors has told me a schedule of some sort is a must. Treat writing like a job, even though you do it from home. What I’m discovering about blogging every day is there’s an end goal. Write a post, publish it to the blog. What is the daily end goal for writing a novel? That is what I must discover for myself.

Those doing NaNoWriMo have a goal of a certain word count per day so they end up with at least a fifty thousand word novel at the end of November. I thought about setting a daily word count goal but I don’t want to constantly be focusing on word count as I’m writing. Sometimes a day of writing comes super easy and thousands of words can be pushed out and the next day, your characters might be pushing against where you think you want to take them and only a few hundred words come out. So I don’t want to be constrained by a daily word count goal. So what shall be my writing goal?

How about keeping it simple. the goal is to write every day. NaBloPoMo is starting the habit. Just because blogging creates the goal of pushing publish every day, doesn’t mean I have to have that same goal with the books. I’ll just create a symbolic publish button. Maybe I’ll post on twitter how many words I wrote that day. Yeah…yeah. That will work. Yay writing!

Tomorrow’s book post will be about ‘A Light in August’ by William Faulkner and whatever thoughts about life that brings up. I kinda like doing book posts this way.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, NaBloPoMo 2014, screen reader, Voiceover, writing

“Love Life” by rob Lowe – narrated by Rob Lowe, Synchronicity and a Deep Question

I read Rob Lowe’s first memoir back in early 2012 and it placed seventh on that year’s top ten book list. I couldn’t wait for ‘Love Life’ to come out since I loved Lowe’s first book. It definitely did not disappoint.

‘Love Life’ doesn’t just pick up where his first book left off, rather it just tells different stories from his life in acting, family and sobriety. His stories about his son going off to college were gut wrenching and totally tear making. I can’t imagine what those stories must be like for people with children if they touched me that deeply. One can hear the emotion in his voice as he reads those segments.

The book wasn’t all heart warming stories about his family. There’s a particularly erm, interesting story about Lowe’s visit to the Playboy Mansion in his early twenties when fame was just finding him that actually made me slightly uncomfortable. I’m not a prude my any sense of the word so the only thing I can think that might have caused my squirming was the fact that my favorite baseball player is engaged to a Playboy bunny who is the mother of his children. Is that why? Perhaps I need to look at that some more haha!

I actually got a retweet from Rob Lowe after I tweeted him that his Bigfoot sound effect made my dog jump haha! It was at night and Jayden and I were curled in our respective beds when the howling issued from my speaker and the jingle of Jayden’s tags told me he had jerked awake. It was hilarious! I can’t remember exactly what Lowe’s comment was in the retweet but I think he apologized to Jayden or something. Does it matter what he said? I got a tweet from Rob Lowe! *Squeeeee!*

I enjoyed reading his memoir as research for my own memoir that I have finally begun. Much like my fiction novel, it is mostly a series of notes in my computer and memories marinating in my head. Fall is the time I usually devote to writing since baseball is over, so hopefully a dent will be placed in both projects. I like to think that my own voice in telling my story is similar to Rob Lowe’s. It’s one of seriousness mixed with self-deprecating humor. I remember when I was very newly sober, a woman told me that it’s ok to share about what I perceived as weakness because it made me relatable and therefore more helpful to others. Rob Lowe might be a hugely successful celebrity but he is also incredibly relatable and down to earth. I hope he writes another memoir! If he does, I hope he doesn’t terrify me like he did with the orange juice in this one.

Rating: Marriage Material

“Love Life’ at Audible

I wrote in yesterday’s post that I would include more life details in all these book posts so it doesn’t feel like I’m cheating for this year’s NaBloPoMo haha. I couldn’t help but think this afternoon when I sat on my couch with Jayden after sleeping extremely late that at that moment, I was loving life and the book I’d be writing about in today’s post was titled ‘Love Life’. Is it a good thing to notice the moments when one is loving life? By that I mean, do I notice those moments because it’s rare they creep in amongst the angst, fear and worry I so often feel? It’s like when you enjoy a steak all the more because you so rarely have a steak, whereas if you always had steaks, would you enjoy them as much? Do you get my meaning?

Today as I felt how much I loved that moment, I was enjoying the first cup of coffee of the day. The door was open to the cool breeze of the fall afternoon, football was on, the sounds of whistles and crowd noise the soundtrack as B and I woke up more than just our minds.

We’ve lived here a month and today was the first weekend day that both of us slept well into early afternoon. We were both pleasantly surprised. I’ve slept pretty well in this house but hadn’t yet enjoyed the truly luxurious experience of taking hours to fully awaken from a cozy and constant doze. It was wonderful!

The house in which we moved a month ago is a three bedroom two bathroom house with a nice big backyard. The yard is walled in so no more surprise visits from javelina! I love taking Jayden out in the mornings and listening to the birds in the several trees in the yard as they greet the day. I can’t wait to have chairs on the porch on which to sit and drink a cup of coffee haha!

It’s been interesting learning the new space. There has been much frustration as walls and the refrigerator jump out into my path. I have my writing studio/workout room at last! I am currently sitting in it as I type this, music softly playing, door closed to the sound of the Bigfoot movie B is watching. It’s not lost on me that I wrote about Rob Lowe’s memoir in which he tells a Bigfoot story. I often find interesting instances of synchronicity in my life, like a book with the name of a character being the same as a name of a character in the book I just finished. Am I the only one who notices things like that?

I think it’s time I wrap this up and tackle the issue of posting. I discovered yesterday that Voiceover is not playing nice with the checkboxes on the WordPress dashboard since I updated to Yosemite. It seems I can check boxes in the WordPress app though, so I’ll save this as a draft and go figure that out. Tomorrow’s book post will be a two-for-one I think. Both were rather dry non-fiction books.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2014, sobriety, twitter me this, Voiceover, writing

Tampa Bay Trip – Day Two

Ok, so day two of the trip of a lifetime. This day was supposed to be a recovery day after traveling. It’s a good thing I planned a recovery day in case I needed it, but I didn’t need it. I must have slept hard after staying up late the night before talking with Manda. The Starbucks iced mocha after I landed in Tampa was probably partly to blame for staying up late haha. I would have slept later if not for the seagulls. Did you know those birds scream in the mornings? wow. Oh and my room was right next to the pool. And there were a lot of kids staying at the hotel. The combination of seagulls and kids screaming makes it pretty impossible to sleep too late. It’s a wonder I slept as long as I did. Thank you, ear plug.

I got up and for once Jayden didn’t get excited the second I got out of bed. I could imagine him laying on the bed, opening one eye to look at me and then deciding he was on vacation and didn’t need to budge. I used the coffee maker in the room to warm up water to make my Starbucks instant coffee. That is the best way to avoid nasty hotel coffee. At least it usually is. The coffee maker didn’t make very hot water so I woke up with some lukewarm coffee and checked email and Twitter on the iPad.

I had made plans with Davis for that morning. I had asked if he could bring Egg McMuffins since I can never get to a McDonald’s before they stop serving breakfast. Foiled again though, since I didn’t wake up until around 10am. Why couldn’t those meddling kids have woken me up earlier?

Davis came buy anyway because he wanted to see how Voiceover works on my iOS devices. Davis is blind in one eye and since meeting me, some of the fear of losing his good eye has gone. It was good for him to see how technology still works for me. I showed him some of the apps I use that help me identify objects and color and text. He’ll just need to switch to iOS from Android haha. Though I hear Android is making great strides in accessibility.

After the technology demo I was feeling a little hungry so Davis and I went to downtown St. Petersburg. I had decided I wanted to try the Tijuana Flats place he goes to all the time. The weather was absolutely beautiful! There was some car rase going on downtown and when I opened the car door I was greeted by the distant whine of racecars! So cool! Oh we had also driven by Tropicana Field. I’d finally be there the next day!

When we went to the counter they all knew Davis by name and after he introduced me, one of the girls started calling me Arizona. Nice! Like Alabama in the Quentin Tarantino movies!

I ordered nachos and got a plate big enough for Hagrid to eat. I check in on Foursquare where Davis is the mayor so in the comment on the checkin I wrote, “Lunch with the Mayor”. I think my dad thought I meant the actual mayor haha!

I don’t have a picture, but I VandalEyesed the napkin dispenser.

After we ate we walked over to Starbucks so I could get more of the Via instant coffee. It turns out the ones I bought in Tucson with my friend Lori were not the right kind even though Lori specifically tried to make sure they were. The barista had kept trying to give me decaf. The ones I finally got were caffeinated but they turned out to be the iced coffee blend, which I didn’t know until Manda read the package at the hotel. All that joking Lori and I did about my Florida friends not wanting to see me decaffeinated and I still ended up with the wrong coffee. So we got the right stuff and Davis drove back to Treasure Island.

We took Jayden to his litter box and then decided to walk down to the water. I took a couple videos. Too bad the iPhone can’t block wind sound. That’s loud! The first one is a little over two minutes as we were walking. I’m holding the phone so I bet it’s bouncy haha. The second one is about 45 seconds with feet in the water. I tried to get Jayden reacting to the waves.


Direct youtube link #1

Direct youtube link #2

The sand there is not like what I’m used to. It’s not fine like the sand in San Diego. There’s a lot of history about the Treasure Island beach that Manda told me about the night before but I can’t remember the details. There’s actually plants and trees on the beach which I can’t even begin to fathom. The waves didn’t roar like they do in SanDiego since Treasure Island is on the bay. I didn’t feel the power and enormity like I did in San Diego. It’s a gentle tied. It’s like a different world!

After Davis left I hung around for a little bit and then Manda came over so we could write in the cards I got from the Guide Dogs for the Blind store to put the tickets to the suite. I had the suite schedule for each of the three nights so I would tell Manda who the card was for and how many tickets and she’d describe the puppy pictures on the cards. It was good times! I told her what to write in the cards and several times I got emotional. The enormity of the trip had finally sunk in. Tomorrow I would be going to the Trop for the first time and I’d be meeting even more people. I was suddenly exhausted!

I don’t know how we got through all those cards. We took a break at one point and ordered Cheesesteak delivery.

Manda organized the cards into piles so we could keep them all straight. I don’t remember what time we finished and called it a night. I just remember being exhausted from getting so emotional. I thought I would sleep like the dead. I didn’t sleep at all. I rotated between trying to sleep, listening to my book, checking Twitter, but no sleep. How was I going to manage Opening Day on no sleep?

3 Comments

Filed under #RoToTrop, accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, coffeeholic, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, misty eyes, num num food, plugs, silly girl, spoons, twitter me this, video, Voiceover, weather, working dog, wow, youtube

“Double Play” by Ben and Julianna Zobrist with Mike Yorkey – narrated by Apple’s Voiceover

For those of you who aren’t baseball fans, Ben Zobrist is a Tampa Bay Ray. In fact he’s not just any Tampa Bay Ray, he’s the Rays super utility guy. He mostly plays second base but he can really play anywhere the Rays need him. In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated baseball players in the game today. He also should have won a gold glove last year along with the rest of the infield who were nominated but passed over, James Loney at 1st, Yunel Escobar at short and Evan Longoria at 3rd, but I’m getting off topic.

We Rays fans are very familiar with Ben’s wife Julianna since Ben’s walk out music when he comes to the plate is always one of her songs. Julianna is a Christian pop singer with a lovely voice. They are both on Twitter but share one account, @TheZobrists.

When I found out they were working on a memoir together I knew right away I would buy it, no question. They gave little hints on Twitter here and there about the book so I knew it was going to be about their life together as a Christian couple and that they would both be sharing some deep secrets.

I got the book on Kindle when it was released and was flying through it so I took a break when I reached the pictures section which had captions and gave away some of the second half of the book, oops! I went back to the book on the flight home from St. Petersburg and it was awesome to go back to their story as I was leaving after my incredible trip.

There is some baseball in the book as we learn about Ben’s journey and how his swing was developed but for the most part it’s a story of love, deep christian faith, parenthood, life struggles and survival.

I got to meet Ben Zobrist when I visited the field and I was amazed by how tall he is. I told him I was reading his book and explained how my screen reader spoke the words and he said something like, “Oh man, they should have had Julianna and me read the audio book!” I said it would have been nice to hear him read the journal entries in the book and he laughed, saying how embarrassing those are and I told him they were sweet. He is such a nice guy! He let me hold his batting practice bat. It was awesome!

I highly recommend every Rays fan read this book and even if you aren’t a Rays fan, it’s a great story about how love survives life’s curve balls. I’m not religious but I appreciate their devotion to Jesus. They are a couple to admire, for sure.

Rating: So good!

My friend JB told me there is in fact an audio book now, not read by the Zobrists of course.

“Double Play” at Audible ~ “Double Play” at Amazon

Leave a Comment

Filed under #RoToTrop, 2014 Book List, baseball, evan longoria, screen reader, Voiceover

Hanging with Ro Episode 14 – New Year’s Eve in Flagstaff Style

On New Year’s Eve, B and Jayden and I piled into the car and drove up to Flagstaff, AZ. The band Quiet Riot was doing a show there so we had been planning the trip for about a month. When he first asked me if I’d want to go I thought it would be fun to chill in the hotel while he went to the concert, but then I considered going to the show. It had been years since I rang in the new year anywhere other than my bed haha! I ended up not going though because it would have just been too loud for Jayden and for me. I like my hearing, thank you very much.

The drive up was uneventful. I listened to Josh Groban non-stop. B started telling me about snow on the ground next to the highway the closer we got to Flagstaff. Snow! When we arrived at the hotel the temperature change was quite drastic and the breeze bit my skin as we walked to the lobby. Inside I quickly put my Rays hoodie on.

The room was great! It had a little kitchen with a full size coffee maker. I brewed the coffee they provided but it wasn’t good so we’d have to hit a Starbucks so I could get some instant.

We relaxed for a bit in the room and after I fed and relieved Jayden, we headed to the casino to eat. B had to pick up a player’s club card which was the ticket to the show. Sitting in a diner at a casino at 5pm is super creepy. Unless it was just this particular one. It sounded like the most depressing place. There was no laughing, no idle chatter, no music and I kept hearing what sounded to me like a zombified game of Marco Polo.

As we ate I listened and finally got that people were walking by the diner saying, “Kino,” and the staff at the diner parroted them back in a very lackluster voice. Alrighty then.

Then B noticed the band walking right by the diner! He named each member as they passed. The drummer was last, the only original member of Quiet Riot and B said he was the only one with an entourage. Me: Really? B: Yeah, two people.

They were carrying their own bags and everything. Life as a washed up old hair band? It was still cool though.

As we were walking onto the actual gaming floor to get B’s pass, a security guard stopped us. I couldn’t hear what he was saying so he spoke up. He was asking if Jayden had paperwork. I blurted that I have an ID for him but I think the guy could tell I was shocked at the question. He said something like, “what are those dogs called, I can never remember.”

“I’m blind and he’s my guide dog.”

He let us go then. It was bizarre.

The game floor was so smokey! It rather disgusted me and I couldn’t believe I used to do that. I guess I have become the grumpy ex-smoker haha! It’s not so bad outdoors but inside there? Whew!

B got his pass and we went back out into the cold. Wow cold. I mean, cold!

We headed back towards the hotel and I used Siri to locate a Starbucks. Now I had real coffee and was good to go. We hung out for a bit and B tried watching that awful duck show. He switched to New Year’s stuff and there was a year in review show that was rather interesting. We never watch TV other than sports, so it was an experience haha! They discussed things I had only read about on Twitter. Pop culture anyone? It’s lost on me.

After B left I decided on a whim to record a voice note and it morphed into a Hanging with Ro episode. It had been awhile since I recorded myself being a goofball haha!

Ok so now for Hanging with Ro Episode 14. How perfect is that? Episode 14, ringing in 2014. Whoa. *opera voice* Spoooooky! *end opera voice*

So there are two files. This first one is the longest. I think it’s around forty minutes or so. I had no idea where it was going when I started haha! Topics include but are not limited to:

*Breaking the rules with Jayden

*Being out on New Year’s Eve. I just remembered the last time. It was 2005/06 and Georgie and I went to an AA New Year’s event. We were both in our first year sober and we were so scared we’d get hit by a drunk driver.

*Muttmuffs

*B stands for…

*Getting distracted and laughing at the TV

*Seriously? That’s CNN? Anderson Cooper giggling.

*Remotes hate me.

*2013 year in review. Colorado to see Chupa and my first Rays game. Feeling fabulous in Colorado.

*Hip pack humiliation.

*Bad summer, bad health oh who’s singing?

*Josh Groban. How I love the Josh Groban.

*We need to move. Teeth. Not move teeth. Ow.

*Gamma

*I don’t get TV.

*I make a cup of instant coffee but not in the closet.

*I sing la la la and the Josh Groban love begins with gusto.

*Flagstaff smells good.

*I try and describe the Grand Canyon.

*More Josh Groban drool only this time with songs on the iPad. I’m pathetic.

*Ok Josh maybe I didn’t hear that right from you I can’t be certain because you all talked a lot.

*Wow I was sniffling already. I got totally sick the next day.

*The song that made me cry in the car is a Stevie Wonder cover.

*Here is the translation to the song I was swooning over.

*I tell you to look up this clip on youtube so here it is.

*Ok wow I really am happy being me, trust me.

*Who’s outside the window?

*I wish I could shut up my humming.

*I waste time trying to play a song. I didn’t realize I had lost my wifi so I couldn’t get it from the cloud. Here’s the other Brave song by Sara Bareilles. You’ll probably recognize it from those Microsoft commercials.

*I wrap up this portion finally haha!

New Year’s Eve Part 1

And we’re back. This one is about sixteen minutes.

*I’m paranoid it’s not recording.

*Two minutes away from 2014.

*Loud upstairs neighbor.

*David DeJesus is mentioned. Baseball must be on the brain.

*Sleepy girl

*Midnight in New York phone call.

*A totally lame Arizona midnight but at least I checked the time at the exact right moment.

*Evan Longoria. He is seriously mentioned in every single one of my audios. You’d think I do nothing but talk about that man!

*I talk about the Phoenix trip I had forgotten to mention in my year review. Who got to go on the field at Chase Field? Thank you David Price!

*Phoenix killed me though. Well not really since I’m alive but you know.

*Disappointed girl in a Vanderbilt shirt.

*Dave and Andy!

*Learning from mistakes.

*Sleepy iPad scrolling. More talking about Josh Groban. Here’s the song I talk about where his voice becomes part of the instrumental. I really think that’s one of my favorites.

*Finally come to my senses and wrap it up. I also mess up a New Year blessing haha!

New Year’s Eve Part2

I was up when B got back. Just after I stopped recording, fireworks started and there were a lot of people outside the hotel. When I took Jayden out I couldn’t believe how cold it was! Wow. When I asked Siri she said, “brrrr, it’s twenty-two degrees.” B and I talked about the show and then I tried to sleep and failed miserably.

The next morning I woke up way too early and sat on the strange uncomfortable couch waiting for B to get up. Even he couldn’t sleep late. That hotel was so noisy!

We took our time getting ready and headed out to the Grand Canyon. I was sneezing a lot and wished I had taken some of the cold meds I brought with us. The Canyon was about an hour and a half from the hotel. On the road leading to the Canyon, there was suddenly a huge heard of elk! Do they roam in heards? Is it spelled that way? Hmmm.
Anyway, B had exclaimed, “deer! Wait, those are too big to be deer.”

“Are they elk?” I asked.

He said I was probably right and explained that a few crossed the road and several were on the side grazing on grass. Cool!

We parked and found the restroom and I had a total panic attack in there because it had hand dryers that sounded like freaking wind tunnels and they hurt my ears and Jayden was affected by them too and holy crap it was good to get out of there.

We made our way to where B could see the canyon and I listened to all the accents around us and children and different bird sounds. It was very cold and breezy. I did not feel well. There was much more walking than I had expected. I mean it’s a huge hole in the ground. It doesn’t seem like you should have to walk very much to find an edge. It had been sixteen years since I’d been there so couldn’t remember. I wanted to get to a good spot to get a picture with Jayden and me in front of the canyon but it was going to involve steps and there were too many people and yeah. Blah.

I snapped some pictures with my iPhone and sent one to Twitter and apparently it was lovely. Let me see if I can find the tweet. Ok I can’t find it so I asked Twitter. Might just have to upload it again. I should really figure out Word Press pictures haha. Here’s the picture. Thanks, @L_Squared!

So I just got sicker and sicker as we went back to the hotel. I collapsed for a bit and then we started trying to figure out food. The only two places that were open on New Year’s Day were The Outback and Sizzler. Sizzler? They still have those? That was my first ever job. I was a salad bar keeper. Fried shrimp entered my brain and that was all I could think about. So we went there and there was actually a huge snow drift in the parking lot! I had my fried shrimp but I was so miserable I hardly remember it. Bread pudding for dessert. I thought a rap in my head: I had dinner, at the Sizzler with my mister, on New year’s Day, while I had a fever. Wow. Um. Yeah hi. I won’t quit my day job. Oh wait, I don’t have one.

We went back to the hotel and I did some packing up and crashed. That was pretty much it! It was a really good time and I’m glad we did it. I felt pretty good there in Flagstaff, minus being sick of course. It was like how I felt better in Colorado. High elevation and cold, I tell ya. I used to think I’d like to live in Flagstaff but I don’t think so. Just too cold and there’s an odd feeling there. Just like in Sedona when I went with B several years ago. We both feel it in northern Arizona. Just an odd feeling. It’s a nice place to visit though!

Happy 2014 everyone! I hope you enjoyed the audio if you listened.

1 Comment

Filed under apple Inc, baseball, coffeeholic, Dental Health, evan longoria, Gamma, gratitude, hanging with ro, holiday, Jayden, Microsoft, music, new year, num num food, plugs, random stuff, sicky sick, silly girl, sobriety, spoons, twitter me this, Voiceover, weather, white cane, wow, youtube

Patients Like Me

When I was diagnosed with MS in 2006, I was told to see a neurologist after being diagnosed in the hospital. I was assigned a neuro and began seeing him immediately. He told me to stay off the internet because reading about my disease would just scare me. He called his MS patients a glum lot. I vowed not to look up MS on the internet or be glum.

When I went blind in 2008, the neuro was at a loss. He acted like this was so rare, to go permanently blind from MS. He also told me there was no pain with MS. Needless to say I began questioning his advice but I still didn’t go hunting online and I still did not want to be glum.

I don’t remember how I found Patients Like Me in 2009. I must have been doing some sort of search, probably looking for hope that my optic neuritis wasn’t permanent. I was able to sign up on the site but I wasn’t proficient enough with Voiceover to figure out how to post and communicate with the patients like me.

After this last few weeks of some definite MS activity, I’ve craved support from others with the disease. I went back to the site today, reset my password since I couldn’t remember it, and vowed to stay until I’d figured it out. The site is more than just a support community. Patients can track their symptoms and flairs, help with research, even find trials to participate in. The site uses the term “brain fog”! Haha yay!

I managed to post in the forum and trade messages with another woman. I’m among my fellows! Sure, their stories might be scary but their support will be most welcome. I have become glum. I must reverse this.

What prompted this was a search I did last night because I couldn’t seem to get a full breath of air. I was shocked when MS stuff popped up. The MS hug? Here’s one of the pages I found. After reading about it I did some more searching and found another forum thread about it somewhere. Some of the people get it when it’s humid, and we had crazy wet weather here Friday and Saturday. Reading all the posts about this MS hug and also some spastic events in the back, I almost wanted to cry. Thanks to the tips they posted, I was able to get a full breath. I also discovered that my gabapentin eases the hug. Yay!

Avoiding MS on the internet all these years has kept me rather lonely. Oh also a discussion I was having with my friend Ricardo prompted my desire to get active on PLM when I told him that when my MS is doing its thing, my loneliness increases. I’m grateful I was able to figure the site out and I hope I keep visiting there. I think it will be good for me to talk with the patients like me.

5 Comments

Filed under fellowship, NaBloPoMo 2013, spoons, Voiceover

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!

3 Comments

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