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Friday, July 22, 2005

A Tale of Perception: How Much Yarn Does It Take to Get to Cleveland?

Ba Ba Black Sheep, Have you any wool . . .

Okay, I didn’t bring the full three bags full with me, but I did bring two duffels of various yarns for a variety of projects, from presents for my niece to sweaters I’d like to be able to wear this winter.

What am I doing in Cleveland you ask? It is a long way from Missouri. I’m attending the Cleveland Sight Center to get training on Jaws, a screen reader program, and brush up my Braille and learn other gadgets and tactics to make me faster at work. As you know from previous entries, I’ve had trouble keeping up with the workload for teaching and studying for my comprehensive exams. I’ve tried explaining to various people where I’m going, and have found that the easiest explanation is to tell them I’m going to a blind school. You can see the images of Mary Ingells and Helen Keller flashing through their brains, but they seem to get the concept much faster that way than if I tell them it’s a training center.

And why all the yarn? It’s the closest thing to a teddy bear that a thirty-nine-year-old woman can respectably appear with in public! I’ve got purple alpaca, heather grey merino wool, a celery green Jo Sharp DK wool, and a lovely silk- cotton blend with me. I have yet to toss them all on the bed and roll around for the pleasure and comfort of it, but without my menagerie to keep me company, a girls gotta do something!

I’ve been having a great time playing with the computer – I’m writing this entry to practice my editing skills with JAWS. I’ve met several new people who are fun to work with and as gadget happy as I am. One of the other girls here is interested in learning to knit, so the extra skeins of cotton I brought will be useful. I have had several evening chats as we get used to the center and pine a bit for home. I’m lucky in that I can also take comfort from the dogs here at the center -- working dogs that I ask permission to pet -- and get a little “doggie-time” and interaction each day. C. is not comfortable with animals, so she doesn’t have that comfort. I can’t imagine life without all my critters, but know that some people manage to live their whole lives without ever having a dog wash their face or a cat purr them to sleep. [snicker] Of course, I’m having an easier time remembering the dogs’ names than those of their owners, but that’s to be expected for me!

I’ve got to remember to ask the living skills instructor how she keeps track of rows as she knits, since the standard row counters are too small for me to read.

I needed a small project I could work on in the dark after acquiring a light head-ache yesterday, so you sock-knitters will be overjoyed to hear that I’ve finally broken down and started my first pair of socks. I’m using a worsted weight wool-blend and will enjoy the fuzzy-comfort of a new pair of baggy socks. No throwing tomatoes! I’ll work my way up to sock-yarns and hand-dyed foot-wear-art soon enough!

The trip here was an adventure. I’m making the dress with the seed-stitch bodice for my niece – the one from Special Knits – and got the back finished while waiting for the tow-truck to come take my mother and I back to Sharon, PA after a fender bender. No, I wasn’t driving this time, my mother was. After checking on all of the participants, her first worry was “There goes my good driver discount!” She’d never been in an accident that was her fault, and the experience shook her up a bit. Given that her nerves were stretched from waiting for me to make my way from Missouri to Indiana where I stayed at my brothers, and then from Indiana to her place, I’d say the woman handled herself very well. We finally got back to her place, had a drink and both took naps! The next evening after she got off work, we were on our way again, intrepid explorers investigating the highways to Cleveland. We both got a lot of mileage out of the fact that she was letting her blind daughter do the navigating, and we had a wild time trying to find the grocery store in Cleveland once we had my baggage unpacked in my apartment.

Now we each have our own adventures to manage. Adventures you say? Certainly. I get to spend my time with more members of the blind community than I’ve ever met before, and my mother gets to baby sit two of the three “grandpuppies” from my menagerie! Watching this non-dog-mom manage an excited husky who is bouncing around with no self-control, so excited that she’s going outside that she is leaping in the air and turning in circles is quite a site. I don’t think I’ve heard quite that tone in Mom’s voice since the last time she tried to stuff my brother’s toddler-arms into a winter coat! [grin]. Just what she needs to keep her busy and confirm her in the opinion that she doesn’t even want a cat of her own!