Adventures With Brego

Fairy Godmothers in the Living Room

Since we have a new daughter-in-law, I’ve wanted to freshen our living room for visits from her family and other guests.
The dining room suite was Kirk’s mothers and had lovely 20 year old fabric, but the seats sag from years of wear.
How on earth was I to arrange repair and upholstery? A friend recommended the prison upholstery shop, but that was way across town, and how would we transport six chairs in our Honda Accord? That would take two or three trips, or borrowing a truck, and when I got them there, how would I select fabric? This is not kirk’s comfort zone.
This was complicated.

Here’s the good part.

Two neighbors, retired, dazzling interior designers, mentioned they were having a garage sale to downsize their inventory.
I said, “If you have fabric that might work to recover our dining room chairs, would you hold it for me?”

After the garage sale, they came to my house with the fabric, a tape measure, and a bottle of wine–“Communion.”I think this fabric will work.”
Kirk said, “Looks good.”
We loaded six chairs in her van. ,
“I’ll take these to my house. My husband needs a weekend project. He’s been working too much.”

They said, “We may have enough fabric leftover for window treatments and a few pillows.”

Three days later, the chairs were in my living room.

now, these friends turned their attention to the windows. They squinted, measured, made notes, called each other nicknames, and smack talked while they designed new window treatments.

As they measured, they said respectfully, “We don’t want to hurt your feelings, but when we got close, we could see your drapes are faded and not worth saving or recycling. We can salvage the trim, but best to trash them.”

Good friends tell you these things.

Next visit, the husband comes with drill to dismantle existing window treatments. The grandson came along to read to Brego.

“Want to go with meto the fabric store to pick up a few accent yards?”

I’m thinking, “Why should I go to the fabric store? I can’t see anything.”

I say, “Sure. Why not?” I had not been to a fabric store in years.
As we went through the aisles, she described the colors, and I trailed my fingers along the fabrics to enjoy the textures. . We even saw a $10,000 sewing machine demonstration.

She was on a mission to find a good match on clearance. She stopped, “I found it. It’s fun and sassy just like you.”

Now, I have new window treatments, pillows, table cloths, and dining room chair seats and confidence and compliments on the new look of our living room.

Isn’t this an incredible story of wonderful neighbors?



Need a Nudge?

Sometimes, we need a nudge.

I’ve not heard from the doctor who evaluated me for potential new retina implant. Nor have I called about it.
“Will this really help?”
“Should we wait for newer, sleeker, better version?”

One doctor suggests I wait. What to do?

Enter Jack Benggio coming in my front door talking on his phone to his school friend, Christina Donatelli, who works in Los Angeles office of Foundation Fighting Blindness FFB underwrote research on the implant. He handed me the phone, and Christina updated me on the latest research on the implant, gene therapy, stem cell, and pharmaceutical research. She provided contact info on others who would answer my questions.
That was the nudge I needed.
With jack’s simple call, I can progress with more confidence on the decision making algorithm.

Thanks for the nudge.





Developing Technology Confidence

Developing Technology Confidence When You Can’t See Well

My latest revelation is that technology competency is today’s literacy. With my iphone, I feelonly 1/4 blind. I’ve had to learn new ways to read and write. To make the transition from the visual to auditory world, I take technology lessons on a regular basis.

For a full year after purchasing my first iphone, I had conference calls with Bill Huber of Bill steadily took me throughVoice Over components on the iphone with gestures and commands, refining my listening skills to learn iphone features. Just as anyone takes lessons to master what’s important to them, play the piano, hit a tennis ball, set a bone, or cook well, coaching accelerates learning, and I seek good coaching.

Learning this new way to live life through technology was tiring and not always easy, but with Bills help, I became confident and skilled.I no longer panic when something doesn’t work just right. I pause and assess.

Transitioning to the iphone 5 has been much easier, but it doesn’t just come.

I took classes at Verizon store and call into their tech support on regular basis not just for troubleshooting, but to ask what is new. I also used the full time alloted me by Apple with my purchase. Now,I take technology lessons at Richland library on regular basis. I make an appointment and bring an agenda. The librarians cheerfully coach me on the latest iphone technology and aps, so that I can quickly navigate iphone techniques by myself. For example, we’ve reviewed new Facebook layout, YouTube searches, new apps recommended by, a website that reviews apps and accessories best used by the Voice Over command on the iPhones and iPads.

I also listen to iPhone podcasts from the Hadley School for the Blind,, and for a time, I enrolled on an iphone listserv for Voice Over users, but that was way too much email for me, so I withdrew.

The Vision Institute of South Carolina is also offering seminars and sessions to talk through what works with Voice Over for the apple products.

Lastly, I talk with sighted users who are adept with their iPhones, my children, and youth at church. Just listening to them moves me further along the technology continuum.

Takeaway message: Technology skills just don’t come to you. You, or rather, I work at it steadily, and it has improved my quality of life immensely. I even teach the librarians a thing or two.

Aps I use most often:
Weather, NGB Newsline, NPR Addict, Pandora, May My Walk, Sendaro GPS, Ariadne GPS, Ibird. I’ll list more later.


Puncture Wounds

Title: Puncture Wounds

We take our usual walk–Brego in harness and I, with Kirk. We notice new homes for sale and comment on a hawk’s call. We wave to a neighbor driving parade speed, then pause behind the trashtruck, allowing noise and odor to drift away.

We resume our pace and conversation when a door bangs– movement, speed,, low, rising growls, then, I’m holding leather leash of twisting, snarling bodies in air, vertical fury.
That was three months ago. Two dogs attacked Brego on that walk. The four puncture wounds he sustained while staying between me and the dogs have healed. The owners paid Brego’s medical bills and court fines and secure their dogs. SEGD,, coaches us back to our routine.
If this happens to you,
Report immediately to animal control and sheriff. Check immunizations on attacking dogs. Research laws and websites on guidedog attacks.
Layla’s Law is a national law to protect guidedogs.
Keep a journal after the attack. Call your guide dog school. Ease back into your routine only after offenders secure their dogs. “รพ

We’re just about back to our routine, but cautious with other dogs, and we carry pepper spray now.

Creative Writing Literary Luncheon

20130509-164405.jpgAnn with Mary Pittinger

20130509-164540.jpgAnn with writing teachers Francie Markham, Barbara Thompson, Carol McAlpin, plus fellow student Judi Beacham

We finished the second semester of creative writing at
Shepherd’s Center offers classes in opera, jazz, movies, architecture, creative writing, short stories, bridge, yoga, watercolor & acrylics, politics, European history, South Carolina history, and health.