Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Self Advocacy and Poetry

| Filed under blindness Poem writing

I don’t usually post poems here because submission guidelines for other magazines will not accept an author’s work either previously printed or posted online. But I just have to share this one. Thanks for reading and please share it with others who love to read and write poetry.

The inspiration for this poem is self-advocacy; I’ve learned that standing up to bureaucratic requirements, what I call nonsense, often wears down the complainant resulting in the complainant dropping a case. It also re-traumatizes the person each time the person must respond to filing deadlines, written statements and affidavits, as the person must, to an extent, relive the experience to be witness to it.

This poem attempts to express the resolve and power of circumstances one must choose to endure when planning to grab the rope of advocacy and pull back, often against a much bigger and stronger opponent.

Tide
By Ann Chiappetta

Hard packed sand softens
With each step, like thoughts
Yielding Cool and unbidden under foot

Sun Descending, I walk from east to west
Sea water surges
Scours away thought-foot prints

Hope and resolve walk beside me
I persevere, unable to alter the course.

Though the dunes rise to the left and waves
Grab and pull My limbs on the right

I stay the course.
Tears taste like the tide
and like the wet ambition of the fisherman’s net
ego escapes, pours back into the sea.
2020

International Guide Dog Day!

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs

Ann and yellow lab guide dog Bailey
A message from Guide Dog Users of the Empire State (GDUES)
April 29, 2020

It’s International Guide Dog Day, a day set aside to recognize the work that our loving and loyal canine companions do for us every day. Each year International Guide Dog Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday of April.

It takes a village to raise a puppy and help it gain the necessary skills to become a guide dog. Every year staff and volunteers from training organizations around the world breed, raise and train guide dogs and partner them with blind handlers. Our dogs are our heroes, and today is a way to let others know just how much we appreciate them.

Now that we have raised some paws and wagged a few tails to celebrate, we also want to share what it is like to be blind and out in public with a guide dog. During this year of worldwide crisis GDUES wants to share a few tips about how you can help people who are blind maintain social distancing.

When you see a guide dog team, please don’t pet, feed, call or distract the dog. Speak to the handler. It is important for the public to know that guide dogs don’t know about physical distancing. Our dogs are trained to move around obstacles, not to stop six feet away from a door, or in line at the supermarket or pharmacy. It’s important to understand a blind person using a white cane or a guide dog cannot always accurately measure distances or see lines on the floor.

Since we might not hear you come out of the store as we go in, a quick “Hello,” would help. Or, “Hi, you are at the end of the line.: or “Hi, you can Move up a few steps,”. When passing a guide dog handler outside, saying hello will help us keep required physical distancing by hearing where you are in relation to us.

We want to follow the same health and safety precautions as everyone else, however, we might require a little more information than normal. We are all in this together.

The mission of GDUES is to advocate for and support guide dog teams living and working in New York State. Learn more by going to www.gdues.org

Pop Up Studio

| Filed under blindness writing Writing Life

Okay, folks, I am listening to your requests, 😊 Many of my friends wanted to know how I stepped into this home-grown recording studio thing in order to get my books on Audible. Ingenuity is born out of necessity, and my project objective was to create soundproofing without making it permanent.

The first step was to record and get feedback on the audio quality with my headset and office with the door closed. The feedback was received, suggesting softening the echo and also the background noise. I set in a chair near a window and the office door being closed did not shut out enough apartment noise, either. I tried a blanket over my head like a human tent pole but while it was better, it was hot and uncomfortable.

I was speaking to a writing friend and mentioned my dilemma and she said her husband uses moving blankets and hooks them to the wall. Amazon had two for less than $50. One draped over the curtain rod to cover the window and the other we rigged to close-off the desk area from the wall nearest the door to my desk. It works well and has made recordings better.

The photo is of my office desk, chair, pc and headset and the blanket strung across to act as a noise barrier using s hooks and metal posts. The blanket can be taken down, folded, and stored until it is needed.
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by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Zoom helps pass the time

| Filed under blindness writing Writing Life

Hello all, I just wanted to share some thoughts during the C19 crisis. By now the likelihood that each of us has lost someone or knows someone who has contracted C19 is a reality. My heart feels it and my mind is distracted with worry. I know I am not alone in feeling this way, if you are reading this take some comfort in knowing we as a community understand what it means to be experiencing these unprecedented times and that you are not alone.
Taking in our current situation and communication limitations, due to physical distancing, I became a Zoom account user and below is the link to my first recorded meeting. The host is Patty Fletcher of Tell-It-to-The-World Marketing and Business Assist. I hope it is a novel distraction from what is going on right now.
https://tinyurl.com/tjqjgrm

Guest post on Rough Drafts

| Filed under blindness Fiction writing Writing Life

Hi folks, author and blogger, Debbie De Louise is hosting me as a guest blogger. Please visit
Guest Post by Fellow Pet Lover and author/Poet Ann Chiappetta

Featured Member on NFAA

| Filed under blindness Fiction Relationships writing Writing Life

I was selected as this week’s featured member of the Nonfiction Authors Association. Check out my interview here:
https://tinyurl.com/vm3u5v4

Dogs Help with Social Distancing

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships writing

The past two weeks has provoked many powerful and uncomfortable feelings for our Nation, our community, and our families. We are being globally challenged by what some say has been a biblical portent, aka, the “plague”.

Being a skeptical person, I am not yet ready to agree, however, I know the world has changed already, evident by, well, by how we are acting, reacting, responding, and feeling.

I was just sharing playtime with my three dogs, enjoying the calm petting session with my elderly black lab. I watched my other two dogs play, and as they tugged and wrestled, was struck by an intense feeling of relaxation and peace. I thought, that if I must distance myself from other humans to protect myself the hidden gem in this is having more time to spend with my dogs and husband.

On that note, today I received a call from a staff person named Kate from Newsreel Newsreel magazine magazine. She said she was “just checking in with my New Rochelle people,”. Now, that was very kind and equally unexpected. Thanks, Kate!

This time of crisis should bring us together in gratitude and kindness, not isolate us. A phone call or email could bring a bit of relief to a neighbor or relative.

For example, the Next-door app has had folks volunteering to help with shopping for individuals who are quarantined here in New Rochelle. Folks are helping out with dog walking and other tasks.
In the wise words of a writing friend, Carol Farnsworth, Carol Farnsworth wrote on her blog, https://blindontheliteside.com/ ,
We as a nation, are only as strong as our marginal members. We will be judged not by what we have but how we care.

Thanks, Carol. Agreed.

First blog post

| Filed under blindness Poem Relationships Writing Life

My first blog post on word press was on November 7, 2008. Since that time, I’ve completed 315 posts and attracted almost 500 followers. I hope to keep going and love to blog. Stand by for some older poetry and a new book. Until then, keep reading and writing.
http://www.thought-wheel.com/task-of-the-day/

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Old Poems Like New

| Filed under blindness Poem Relationships Writing Life

I began writing poetry in earnest after finding out I was going blind, in the early 1990s. Looking back, the poems I wrote during this dark time was a way to cope with the inevitable grief and loss I felt, and would feel, for a long time. Progressive vision loss infiltrates one’s sense of hope and resiliency,
Two emotional Aspects Which Appear in many of the poems written from the 1990s. The poems are also an inventory of sorts, and, as I become reacquainted with them, I am, in turn, becoming acquainted with my feelings and emotions during this time of fear, depression, and anger. I also discovered I’ve grown beyond these feelings and emotions and have learned to accept my disability and embrace the creativity and how much healing I’ve done since then.

Here is a song I found, written for a friend (really).

The Child Inside
Song lyrics

By Ann Chiappetta

family devotion died
the day he went away

The child inside
still cries when you sleep
The pain
makes you feel incomplete

He’s made a mess of your memories
He can’t come back into your life
And though you deny it
the reality cuts Like a knife

The child inside
still cries when you sleep
The pain
makes you feel incomplete

Don’t try to replace him
Sometimes lovers walk away, too;
discover why your heart
desires demons dressed in blue

The child inside
still cries when you sleep
The pain
makes you feel incomplete

2000

The Spirit of Dog

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships

This is a post written for, in part, the puppy raising and guide dog community. It explains what a real service dog is and how it develops. Indulge me for one more paragraph before we get to the subject line of the post. There is an ongoing issue here in the United States regarding people posing pets as emotional support or service animals to ride in airline cabins. It is called the ACAA, or the Airline Carrier Access Act. I am not going to explain the actual FAA and TSA notices and the rule making discussion, but I will say that a genuine, trained service dog will do it’s best to behave in places of public accommodation. For example, a hearing alert dog will sit quietly on its handler’s lap and not disrupt anyone’s experience. A PTSD service dog will lie quietly between its handler’s feet during a train ride. Any dog brought into the public that barks, lunges, urinates, is unkempt, is not under its handler’s control or is not tethered is not a real service dog and can be asked to leave. It’s all in how the dog and the handler behave and interact. I hope this helps folks understand what is at stake and the real service dog handlers are at risk of being negatively effected by those who break the law.

Okay, back to the original post.

Once a puppy reaches an appropriate age, usually around 18 months, the dog is returned for advanced training. By this time, the puppy raiser has imparted all the socialization, love, obedience, care and discipline to allow the dog to continue the rigorous and challenging harness training and hopefully exhibit the required qualifications to become a guide dog.

Yup, folks, it is canine college and the dog will graduate with an advanced degree in intelligent disobedience. What this means is a dog will disobey a command given by the blind handler if it is unsafe. Think of a car coming out of a driveway as the team is walking toward it. The dog will see the car pulling out and stop, then continue when it has judged it to be safe. If the handler tries to give the command to proceed before the dog judges it safe, the dog will ignore the command.

This is, of course, after months of formal harness training with a qualified GDMI – during which time the dog learns how to guide and learn other commands, like directions (left, right, forward) and targeting (to the door, steps, bus, elevator,) among others.
One time Bailey even stopped to show me a fiber optic wire hanging from the ceiling in the hallway leading to our office. Avoiding an overhead obstacle is the most difficult to teach a dog, I was impressed, for sure.

But, for the second time in this post, I digress.

Today we made the hour-long bus ride to visit Guiding Eyes For the Blind’s main campus and visit Bailey’s first Mom, Pat Bailey Webber. He just about lost his mind, spinning and doing some excited barking. He carried on, yodeling, rubbing, and licking Pat for at least ten minutes. This is the person who he bonded with, who saw him through all stages of puppyhood, some of it pretty gross and annoying, if I must say so. 😊

Witnessing the bond with Pat is just so special, so rewarding, I believe it makes my bond with Bailey even stronger. While he loves Pat and would go with her, he also willingly comes to me and does his job. He switches his attention, applies his training, and has the adaptability to get it done.

I have written before about the Spirit of Dog, what it means contextually; this is an example. The Spirit of Dog is loyal, adaptable, and talented. How could a person not admire these qualities in an animal? How could I deny Bailey the pleasure of visiting with his first family? I am honored and humbled after these visits. I am a recipient of a very special gift; it is the spirit of dog that brings people together.