Tag Archives: white cane

I Like Your Boots

17 Nov

by Jenny Marie

A cane, no, my long cane (I correct myself) sits next to me, I assume they don’t know that they are watching me, but the fact is I don’t need 20/20 vision to know the feeling of eyes on me. I wonder what I look like to them: the weak girl? Someone who needs to be healed? I hope they see a blind woman, who isn’t afraid to use her long cane, who isn’t hiding what makes her different. I would hope they see me as a pretty, funny, smart, and all other things they see other nineteen year olds as.

I stand up holding my cane out. It is a short walk to the bus stop.

But before I get there, a man, older by his tone, asks me if I need any help? I tell him that I know where I am going. He huffs, and he leaves my field of vision, or walks away quickly – with me, I honestly don’t know. I listen to the city around me. The cars, of course, passing by, a woman with high heeled shoes, the laughter of a child, a dog barking. But then I smell it: coffee. I wish I had a phone on me to check the time, but since I don’t I ignore my coffee craving.

I hear a little girl ask her mother why I use a big white stick?

Her mother says “because it helps her see.”

I correct her and tell the little girl it doesn’t help me see, but does help me find the objects I would walk into or trip over.

Then shockingly she says “Mommy, I want one!”

I can almost hear her mother thinking of something to say, but I do it for her. The only way you can use a cane like mine is if you’re blind, and while I am happy, your mommy would be upset if you were blind.

I hear them walk away and the little girl now says she wants a pony.

I hope I didn’t make her think being blind is a bad thing, or make her think I am not happy, but the truth is, the little girl has walked away, and I hope what I came up with was better than what her mind might create, or her mother might say.

I hear a young woman run up, and ask if she missed the bus? I say no, and notice she is about my age.

“I was so worried that I did” she mutters, and then she says something that shocks me, “I love your boots, by the way. Where did you get them?”

Jenny Marie is a blogger, writer and reader. As result of a horse accident, she has CVI: cordial visual impairment, which mostly effects children.” Jenny’s blog is http://blindhorsegirl.wordpress.com/


A Cane and a Guide Dog

5 Oct

by Jenny Marie

I swing my cane back and forth, next to me my friend with less vision than I, moves more smoothly. There is a difference in us that everyone can see. His quick clip is hard to keep up with. I know he doesn’t mean to leave me in his dust, but he does. If I wasn’t with him as we walk through the city I know someone would try to offer to help me. Is it the presence of his German shepherd guide? Or is it the beauty of a man and dog moving together as one? I don’t honestly know; I am just grateful for no one feeling the need to “help me”.

We both stop at the curb. This one I can tell easily because of the way it feels under my cane. Zeus (the guide) stopped before me though. “Wait for it”, I tell my friend. I am more fearful of stepping out into the street then he. We both listen to traffic the pattern changes, and we both step off. We both almost jog across, you see this isn’t a good area to cross because of how the drivers are.

I end up off to the right, he I know ended up at the right place. He calls for me to come over. My cane taps the pole next to me. I walk back over to him swinging it along the way, and I know he is holding in a laugh. “So how are the applications going?” he asks cheerfully.

“We can talk at the café” I tell him.

Once we reach the café I fold up my cane, and set it next to me. Zeus lays under the small table, and I assume his head sticks out at the sound our waitress makes. He is a beautiful dog sir’’, her voice chirps. I roll my eyes behind my sunglasses. As I know what is coming next.

‘’Please don’t pet him, Miss’’.

We order I can tell by his tone he wants her to go away.

I look at him and ask ‘’is it worth it?’’

“Yes,” he states, “very much so.”

‘’Even with all of that?’’

‘’The freedom Zeus gives me is worth, so much more than the drama his presence creates’’.

‘’Think you have a point, which is why I am talking to schools about getting a guide in the near future.’’

He leans closer, so I can see his bright smile, he reaches for arm, and tells me how happy he is. I know now my future involves fast pace walking, talking as I do so, less worry, but people wanting to pet the “puppy’’. Will it be worth when it is all said and done part of me doesn’t know…..

“I am Jenny, blogger, writer, reader and friend. As result of a horse accident, I have CVI cordial visual impairment, which mostly effects children.” See Jenny’s blog is https://blindhorsegirl.wordpress.com/

Blind Bandit on the Run

26 Oct

by Maribel Steel

My father doesn’t like to be late for any function, least of all, for an event to celebrate International Guide Dogs Day 2013.

“One hour should give us plenty of time to find a car park.” My elderly father chirps as we cruise the city streets of Melbourne. “We’re way early.” I smile, keeping vision-impaired eyes peeled to the grey city streets as they zoom by. 

But after forty-five minutes, we can’t find one single space on the street. We drive round and round in the belly of two underground parking lots and then drive round in reverse order inhaling fumes of panic. We escape a heated argument with the attendant at a boom gate and zip past which sets off a screaming alarm. High-tailing it down Collins Street, we do a u-turn, straight out of some movie car chase and speed off again. With options diminishing by the second, my father prepares to sell his preserved grandmother in exchange for a park anywhere in this concrete jungle.

His foot hits the accelerator and then the brake pedal in syncopation with his heart beat. Anyone seeking a terrifying ride should forgo the famous roller coaster at Luna Park and book a dare-devil parking adventure with my stressed-out father!

Minutes before the luncheon, he seizes a spot in another parking lot. How to get out of this underground maze poses a new set of blood pressure problems. We have five minutes to get to a building we have yet to locate.

Fleeing as fast as we can, like bandits on the run up the stair well of the fire escape, we spill out onto a Victorian laneway.

“This way… no, this way…” he calls, as I thrash my white cane to keep up, hoping I won’t collide with a brick wall or whack the shin of an unfortunate pedestrian. I feel like a human tsunami – chasing after my father’s coat tails billowing in the breeze as he whirls in front.

In the foyer of the South Tower, I finally latch onto his coat sleeve and skim along white floors polished to a mirror finish. I take a running leap, cane first into the lift just as the steel doors glide to a close.

Bing. Thirty-fifth floor, announcers the robot.

Guests and Guide Dog staff mingle admiring the view. The long white table is still being fussed over.

“Care for an orange juice, Sir?” asks a waiter.

 “Why not,” says my father. “Got to live dangerously, hey?”

Maribel Steel is a freelance writer, blogger, mother and vocalist. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner and teenage son. She was diagnosed at fifteen with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Maribel writes about places to feel, sounds and textures to explore as well as sharing insights on crafting The Art of Being Blind. She has self-published a book of short stories (memoir) and has several articles featured in various journals and blogs.  Read more about Maribel’s work at her website:  www.maribelsteel.com and her blog: www.touchinglandscapes.com

Sea Monkey in Brittany

13 Sep

by Maribel Steel

Tripping over the sand to reach the shore line, the ball of my white cane jabs at the clumps of matted seagrass. As if caught in a deep bunker on a golf-course, I strike the ground harder, forcing a narrow path to emerge from the dip and lift of spraying sand. “Can’t you put that away now?” Harry asks, amused by my pathetic impersonation of Tiger Woods. I praise his bravery and remind him how close he is standing to the blind traveller wielding her long hard club to the water’s edge. Then I think – maybe he’s right? Why do I need to use my cane on the open expanse where the sky meets the sea? Harry waits as I fold up the carbon fibre rod encrusted with sand. “OK. Now let me hold that. Run! There’s nothing in your way.” He says, thrusting my hand into the wind as if to launch a kite towards the seashore, he hollers, “Go on. You’re as FREE as a sea monkey!” Well, I’ve almost been there, haven’t done that: run carefree along the seashore on the Quiberon Peninsula, feeling the sun and salt on my skin, scuttling into the shallows of the bay where French crabs play. I can only imagine from my home in Melbourne the excitement I would feel being guided by my partner, feet and hands poised and tingling as we plunge into the buoyant Atlantic waters off the coast of Brittany.   Seeing the world through my other senses can be as exhilarating as viewing it. My sighted travel companion and I have dared to white-cane trek through parts of Europe to satisfy my yearning to touch foreign landscapes.   We have tasted Basque cuisine while touring the towns of Catalonia and felt the chill winds blast us off course as we stomped defiantly to reach Cathar castles in the Pyrenees. I have sat rigid (with glee) while trotting on horseback through the scented meadows of the Massif Central and have waltzed on the balcony of Chartres Cathedral in France under the gaze of stone-gargoyles.   I am curious though. How would the salty breeze at the Bay of Biscay feel upon my skin? Would the sense of freedom to fling my cane into the wind be as exhillerating on the sands of Cote Sauvage as I have imagined? You never know. Travelers are dreamers with a difference – they know how to make their dreams appear on the shores of reality.  ©  Maribel Steel – Learn about Maribel at http://www.maribelsteel.com .  If you have a travel story with a difference, Maribel is calling for submissions to post  on her travel blog, visit www.touchinglandscapes.com.  To read the guidelines – she’d love to hear from you!

Climb Every Mountain

31 May

by Maribel Steel

Driving through the villages of the Auvergne region of southern France, vague splashes of colour whirl past my view. The Top Gear team are on a mission – we have a mountain to climb. Harry pulls up in the car park at the bottom of the mountain known as Puy de Dôme, a volcano that, thankfully, last erupted in 5760 BC.

He prepares his camera gear for the long haul and gabbles with excited anticipation. Our teenage son, Mike, catches his infectious enthusiasm. Personally, I wonder what it is about mountains that draw people magnetically to climb them? Hasn’t anyone thought of a ski-lift for non-hikers like myself?

 The sign at the beginning of the track apparently tells us it will take a comfortable two and a half hours return trip to reach the summit and back. Really? I dispute the word ‘comfortable’, knowing that this challenging track up the Puy de Dôme has occasionally been used as the ultimate finishing line for the Tour de France. I begin to grumble, anticipating my cane getting caught in ruts along the way.

“Do we really have to do this?”

“Mum. Come on!” says Mike. “You’re always telling me not to give up.” He grabs my hand and pulls me up the path.

Harry and I soon find we have to stop every few hundred metres just to catch our breath while mountaineer Mike coaches me up the climb. A group of French school children trot merrily past, the steep ascent effortless for light hollow legs. Little brats, I think to myself, huffing and puffing and crawling along at a snail’s pace.

 Three quarters up the stony path and I want to give up.

“Please, Mike. Let me wait here for you,” I pant.

“You can’t give up now,” he scolds. “I will be very disappointed in you if you do.”

Mike bounces ahead and I tell him to stop showing off or I will whack him with my white cane. Harry has trailed far behind us to capture the view on film and with much prodding, I continue the climb.

Yet the fresh scent of mountain pine begins to enliven my spirit and I catch a glimpse of dark mountains rising in the distance and pick sprigs of wildflowers along the path. I can sense the beauty in the quiet climb. Mike skips ahead urging me forward and together, we reach the summit. I can hardly believe we have made it to the top of Chaîne des Puys.

 My son and I stand in awe seeing what I imagine are the green fields far below of Clermont-Ferrand. Paragliders drift in pairs way above our heads – as graceful as soaring eagles. Harry comes puffing up to meet us, his voice bright with joy and we dance a merry jig in celebration of our triumph.

Just one last surprise awaits us at the summit of the volcanic dome…

a vending machine with cans of chilled green-tea!


Maribel Steelis a writer, blogger, mother and vocalist. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner Harry, and teenage son, Mike. She was diagnosed at fifteen with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). It is the journey towards blindness she is grateful for, learning to trust her other senses: to hear, to touch, to smell, to intuit, to love and to laugh. She is proud to announce her brand new travel blog, Touching Landscapes.

Website:  www.maribelsteel.com

Blind Traveler

19 Apr

by Stella De Genova

Sitting at my home computer in the Midwestern, American city that I was born and raised in, it feels a little surreal this morning to think about where I was for the last 12 days.  Nonetheless, the reality of it all is that I just got back from visiting family and touring London, England and to top it off, a 2-day jump over to Paris, France.  As a legally blind person, white cane in hand, along with my son who was my traveling companion and my brother who has lived in England for a few years, I’m just as amazed at the blurry, beautiful sights I saw as I am at how many “tubes” and trains and buses we maneuvered to get around.  A savvy traveler I am not and I would not suggest doing this alone to any other blind person but I feel some accomplishment about having been able to run through the streets and train stations of London and Paris.

We literally walked 10’s of thousands of steps and took in medieval castles and homes, art museums and cathedrals and must-see spots like the Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London and its midlands; and the Eiffel Tower, Arc d’Triumph, Musee d’Orsay and Mont Martre in Paris.  We gazed upon the masterpieces of Michelangelo, Holbein, Bellini, van Eyck, Seurat, Cezanne and Van Gogh in the museums.

Sighted people go on vacations and make sure they see the sights and my family took me to all of the required tourist hot spots.  But with my failing eyesight, I’ve found that there is much more to the travel experience than what we see and that is to be savored as well.  It’s true that what I saw was far from crystal clear and many times what I saw was mostly through descriptions but I used my other senses to enjoy my trip.  My visual blurriness gave me the feeling of being part of an impressionist’s painting in Paris.  And I thoroughly enjoyed listening to British accents and the French language that I’ve loved since high school.  The feel of centuries-old cobblestone streets under my feet and the smells of the native cuisine along with the plethora of international flavors and languages feels like all of the senses having a party.  And it always awes me to be in buildings or places that hold infinite stories of told and untold history.  We don’t need our eyes at all to see the bustling ghosts of ancient times all around us.

I also appreciated that wherever we were, the understanding of the universal symbolism of the white cane was apparent and there was a general kindness and consideration communicated by all.  In a way, even though my blindness can make for its share of inconvenience in life, it can also bring comfort to find that most people in this world are inherently kind.  There may be a point in my future when I will not be able to see the photos taken on my trip but all of my senses will help me to hold treasured memories well beyond the sense of sight.

To learn more about Stella De Genova, click on the Statement tab on this blog site.

Bus Romance?

1 Mar

by Fred Nikkl

Here comes the bus, I hear it turning the corner at Southport. It pulls up in front of me and I swing my cane out and tap the front of the bus. The door is open so I step up onto the first step and then up the rest. My fare card is in my hand as I reach out for the fare box. As I slide my card through the card reader I say hello to the driver and get a grunt in reply. Oh well, maybe he’s having a bad day too. I find the first seat behind the driver and sit down.  At least the air is working on the bus on this hot, sticky day.

The bus is pretty empty as this is the beginning of the line. It starts filling up as we get to Lakeview High School. I lean a little forward so my shirt is away from the back of the seat to help circulate some cool air. My right hand is holding my cane and my left hand is on my knee. The little finger is on the left side of my knee and the middle three fingers are over the front of my knee with my thumb on the right side of my knee. The bus is getting more crowded. People are starting to stand in the aisles. Then I feel some cloth brush across the back of my left hand and up to my wrist. Then I feel bare skin against my little finger and my thumb. I freeze. What is happening? That felt like a woman’s skirt brushing across my hand, it can’t be shorts as there isn’t any material touching the fingers over the top of my knee. Does this woman know what she is doing? Is this just an innocent act on her part? Is she trying to tell me something? How should I react?  If she has just moved close to me to make room for other passengers then any move on my part will probably cause her to scream. Why would any woman be interested in an old fat blind guy? What to do? I raise my head as if to look at her but she doesn’t respond. Wait, maybe her legs are pressing harder on my fingers. Is this a signal? I open my mouth and close it again because I can’t think of anything to say.

Then as quick as it started, her legs move away and the feel of her skirt is gone. I guess it was nothing, or was it something and I failed the test?  For years now, I have wondered about that encounter. What was really happening?  Was it all my imagination? I don’t know but it’s fun to think about what might have happened if I had responded differently.  It’s something to dream about during those long lonely nights I spend by myself.

Sometimes imagination is better than the real thing.

Fred Nickl, Sr. is 69 years old and has fun writing.  e lost his sight when he was a young adult but has never let that stop him from being a good dad, grandfather, friend, advocate for the blind and generally nice guy.  Blindness has also never stopped his love for adventure, including dabbling in writing.  His previously posted story on Vision Through Words called Hope will be appearing on the Magnets and Ladders website for writers with disabilities