Thursday, November 29, 2018

"I Like Mondays" - A Short Story

Last year I took a creative writing class at college. Though the story is fictional, it is  based on several occassions which may be all too familiar to many of you.

I hope you like the story. Please share the story or this blog with your friends.
William stands beside his guide dog Leif, a black Labrador retriever. William wears a yellow hat, t shirt and jeans. They stand beside a wooden cabin coffee shop in Parkfield California.
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I Like Mondays

I like Monday mornings. This Monday was one of the best. A warm Fall morning made for a comfortable walk to my local coffee shop. Beside me my guide dog plods along. We keep a nice easy pace. My fingers feeling the handle on his harness tells me when he is moving up or down on the sidewalk just in front of me. My dog knows this route well so there is little need of me to give directions. I can listen for clues as to where we are. A fading echo here lets me know that buildings are dropping back from the side walk, the scent of eucalyptus there tells me the main street crossing is coming up soon. The fading sound of traffic tells me that the lights are changing and it is almost time to cross the street.
As the warm sulpherous aroma of coffee begins to fill the air I know we are near the coffee shop.
"Find the door. Find." I tell my dog as his pace picks up. He knows this part of the walk is nearly done and he will soon lie beneath a table, or warm himself in a beam of morning sunlight.
Going inside I order and pay for my coffee. I slip my dog a treat as we wait for my drink to be made. Taking up my cup as it is passed over the bar, I tell my dog to find the door again so we can sit at a table outside on the sidewalk.
We find our way to a vacant table and chair. Setting down my coffee on the table I arrange my dogs leash so he can lay comfortably and sit myself down to enjoy the beautiful morning.
"Hello. That's a nice dog." A woman's voice says.
I turn to the sound of the voice.
"Thank you. He is."
"Are you training him, or are you visually impaired?"
"I'm blind."
"I'm sorry. It must be difficult for you."
"You get used to things."
"Your dog is just watching you all the time."
I smile and reach down to stroke his head. "I like to think that he loves me but it's more about the treats that I carry in my pocket."
I hear her laugh a little nervously. "Yes love is a very important thing."
I hear the sound of a chair scrape on the floor, then the woman's voice is close beside me.
"Speaking of love, do you know the word of Christ?"
I reach out for my coffee cup. Beginning to feel anxious. I take a sip of coffee.
"Knowing Christ in your life will allow you to see again."
I wonder if she can see me rolling my eyes behind my dark sunglasses.
"I'm sure."
"Christ cured the blind. It's here in his gospel."
I nod slowly. Where the hell do I find them? I think to myself. They must crawl out of the woodwork when they see me coming.
"Would you take this wonderful dog from me?
She stutters a moment.
"No, no. But you could see how beautiful the world is. See your beautiful dog."
I shake my head slowly.
"He is a guide dog. A dog trained to guide a blind person. If I could see. I would not be blind. So he would not be here with me."
"God would make a way for you to be together."
"He did. He made me blind."
I know this hits a mark and I feel her interest in the conversation wane. Perhaps she is thinking I am a lost soul or maybe not worth her efforts to save me.
She coughs awkwardly. As I pick up my coffee again, I hear her footsteps walk away from my table followed by the scrape of a chair on the concrete sidewalk.
I reach down again and stroke the soft ear of my guide dog. Now feeling awkward, I continue to sit. The conversation is still irritating me but I cannot leave my seat feeling that to do so would give her a victory.
I begin to feel the warm sun on my hand as it rests on the woven wire table. Above my head the parasol snaps in a slight breeze. Cars continue to deposit customers at the coffee shop. Someone walks by with what smells like a toasted bagel. I feel my dog lift his head to take in the delicious aroma. My coffee is still warm and bitter and as I drink the last drop my thoughts drift away from the conversation.
 I think that she must have left by now so taking up my dog's leash we begin to leave. Tony, one of the baristas, is cleaning the outside tables and says,
"Thank you Mike" and wishes me a good day.
I wave goodbye,
"See you next week Tony. I do love my Mondays here".

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Where Have I Been?

Well everyone it has been about six months since I have posted to this blog. Six months? So where the hell have I been?

Members of the public stroke guide dog puppies at a public speaking event.
Where Guide Dog Puppies and Public Speaking Meet

Well Junesaw me working hard to be Secretary of my local branch of the California Council of the Blind. That did not go well as it took up a lot of time when I needed to get myself organized becoming a director on the board of Golden State Guide Dog Handlers Inc. (GSGDHI) That role is much more fulfilling from my point of view and I am also continuing in the role of the editor of the groups magazine, 'Forward!"

July saw me out and about at the beach. A long hot valley Summer is not for the faint hearted and the many  fires that have plagued this year here in California has made the Valley very difficult to live in. Fire smoke plus heat plus traffic pollution are not the healthiest of mixes.

August saw  me return to Fresno City College for the Fall semester. I have taken Communication 1 classes, that is Public Speaking. I am quite comfortable speaking in public, blindness certainly helps me stand before a crowd and talk. I don't get to see the yawns or picking of noses after all, as the audience drift into a boredom coma.

As part of my continuing studies I had to choose a major, the school need a major from us students so they can prove how many students actually achieve something.

With me already having an Associates degree in Social Science and a Bachelors in History and Political science I opted to go the route of a certification. So I am now officially working on a certificate in Social Work. Next Spring I take two of the six classes I need for certification, those will be Welfare Studies and Interviewing Techniques. That should be fun.

My current class ends on 13th December officially. I have already given all my speeches including my final. For that I chose to argue that Americans need to have a law providing mandatory vacation time for all workers rather than the no vacation days mandated for private sector workers. If my current grade continues for that speech I am looking at an 'A' for the class and a 4.0 Grade Point Average for all my time at Fresno City College  so far.

So with all that going on my wife has also decided to help volunteer with our local puppy raising group. She is hoping to become a puppy sitter for the group. A puppy sitter takes care of guide dog puppies for a short term. Say a puppy raiser needs to leave town for a few days and is unable to take their puppy with them, the puppy sitter steps in to care for the puppy while they are out of town. In order to become a puppy sitter though you must be trained as a puppy raiser and also must pass all the conditions of a puppy raiser. I am so glad my wife has taken up this challenge. Being part of the guide dog family is such a noble act.

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 Support this blog: This great Over the shoulder tote bag leaves you with both hands free to manouvre with a cane or a guide dog.  The Yellow background means added safety for you if  you are walking out at night. My guide 'Leif' also looks at his best against the Stars and Stripes, of the flag of the United States.