Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Smashwords book sale

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Writing Life

Words of life book cover

Tranquil photo of stacked stones beside circular pattern in the sand.

End of Year Holiday Book Sale
Looking for a unique eBook for a special gift for a fellow reader? Do you belong to a book club and need to find a low-priced eBook with a beautiful cover and meaningful content? Do you like to load up your book reader with great titles for the wintertime? Look no further, This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.Smashwords has what you want.

Take advantage of the Smashwords book sale from December 25 to January 1. All three of my titles are discounted at checkout, no hunting for discount codes. Here’s the link to find out more: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AnnChiappetta

Guide Dog Lifestyle: Is This What You Want?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Writing Life

Annie and Bailey outside the HotelWorking with a guide dog brings along perks, like being offered the aisle seat at events, being given the extra leg room seats on trains, and pre-boarding when flying. These, of course, are the obvious advantages.

I would most likely be presented with most of these as a white cane user when traveling without a guide dog, although, perhaps the extra leg room seats would not be part of it. Traveling with a disability can be challenging enough, thank-you.

My dog guides me safely while also assisting in softening the stressors of traveling. A dog also helps with engaging in social events.

A few of the little-known perks are humorous, along with being practical. For instance, my dog, like many other guide dogs, is an expert at finding friends and family during parties and in crowds. Both my current dog and my retired dog have found my husband or other guide dog users countless times. They are creatures of habit and will most likely show the handler familiar locations and individuals. I think of it as, “Hey, is this the door you want? Or Hey, we know this person, maybe you want to talk to them again so I can say hi to their dog?

The most recent time I recall being surprising as well as useful was during a convention. Upon exiting the elevator, Bailey began pulling harder and I knew he was on a mission. He brought me up to my friend and her new dog. The same friend who trained beside us for two weeks when I first got Bailey. It was very smart, for a dog. 😊 I didn’t even think he would remember her, but he did. We also had this sneaking suspicion Bailey and her new dog, (not the one who trained with us) and Bailey knew one another from the kennel, acting like old friends.

Some folks say being a guide dog user is too-time consuming, that it’s all about the dog, and the extra attention is difficult to manage. Personally speaking, I prefer the social and travel advantages my dog provides. It far outweighs the annoyances.
Annie and Bailey outside the Hotel

New Routines

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Writing Life

New Routines

It’s been 3 months since I’ve stopped working. The first month was the hardest, trying to make sense of things, second guessing myself and clinging to what was left of my self-confidence.

Month two was filled with phone calls, meetings and interviews, followed by the realization that at my age and because of my disability, I might not ever work again. I began to tell people I am semi-retired and it is still what I am sticking with as I write this blog post.
Month three is starting to be the new routine: stay up late, sleep late, write, and mix in job trolling, meetings, and motivate myself to do the mundane household tasks. Sigh.

The most interesting pieces of being home, other than the nagging holes of time, is how our animals have adjusted. They appear to like it, especially my 13-year-old lab, Verona, and the cat, Titan. For instance, Verona expects a walk around 2 p.m. It doesn’t matter if she went out at 10 a.m., when 2 p.m. comes around, she’s panting and poking at me.

We have also gotten into what I will call treat-time. Titan and Verona appear at my desk chair. I get poked by the dog and the cat jumps up on the desk. This means the human must dispense treats. A Few Kittie crunchies for the cat and a few low-calorie treats for the dogs. Yes, Bailey is there as soon as he hears the cat treat bag open. Piggy boy. Our third dog, May, is usually with our daughter, so she loses out until later.

At 3-ish, we go for walkies and May and Bailey play after May is walked. The human is bothered again by piggy boy Bailey for dinner at after play time. If the animals weren’t here to keep me busy, it would be much harder to stay focused.

I find it ironic that the day has conformed to what I refer to as Zoo time. Maybe I can find employment at a kennel instead.

Virtual Book Fair

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

Good Books, Unique Gifts, and New Opportunities at your Fingertips

First Book Fair

Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, held its first virtual book fair conference call. Bonnie Blose and Marilyn Brandt Smith hosted this two-hour event. A brief introduction to the focus and activities of the organization was followed by a parade of books: poetry, novels, memoirs, writings of the holiday season, essays, and a newly released handbook written to assist navigating the health care system for blind and visually impaired consumers.,

Nine authors presented information about their books, totaling fifteen publications. Behind Our Eyes members listened and also had time to ask each author questions after each presentation.

With over two hundred and seventy-three recordings, 2 published anthologies and an active writing community, Behind Our Eyes, a 501-C-3 nonprofit organization, is known throughout the United States as a respected resource for and community of writers with visual impairments.

Visit http://www.behindoureyes.org/wp/bookfair/ to read more and download this conference recording. Share it with your friends and newsletters, magazines, etc. Visit www.behindoureyes.org for contact or membership information or a form to offer feedback, ask questions, or join this amazing organization.

List of Presenters: Alice Massa, Peter Altschul, Joan Myles, Ann Harrison Barns, Carrie Hooper, Deborah Kendrick, Anne Chiappetta, Abbie Johnson Taylor,Lynda McKinney Lambert, and Marilyn Brandt Smith

PD Yellow lab Bailey lying next to water, blue sky above and his image reflected in the water beside him.

Maybe a Sign Would Help?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Writing Life

Today was the monthly meeting for the Westchester Council of the Blind of New York. We hold it at a house of worship, and we are very fortunate to be getting our space for free. While we were setting up and listening for members to come down the steps to our meeting room, a man appeared,
“Are you having a meeting for blind people?” he asked, sounding a little annoyed.
Yes, we said, this is where our meeting is.
“Oh,” he replied, “There are some people coming here, and they don’t seem like they know where to go, maybe you should put up a sign,”

Yup, folks, after he left, my colleague and I broke up laughing, then shook our heads, feeling quite sorry for the ignorant sighted person. We went to find our wayward members and led them to the room.

We could have felt angry, or upset, but this is nothing unusual for us. We did not allow this man and his inadequacies or annoyances to negatively affect us.
Furthermore, I don’t know how I can state this eloquently , but, well, a sign really won’t help the blind folks, only folks like this man, who came in, did not greet us or even introduce himself; by the way he sounded, he felt somehow threatened by the “blind people”, or he would have brought them with him instead of coming to the room to complain.

If you are still reading, this is more or less an average example of what we encounter from day to day. Sometimes we fair better, some days, the ignorance and uncaring attitudes seem to be everywhere. It’s no wonder 70% of employable blind people are not working; that people who lose vision and are over 50 struggle to remain independent; why guide dog users who are blind are denied ride share services 1 of 3 times despite policies adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act laws.

We are a powerful group and yet we are a minority still grabbing and pulling ourselves up the wall of equal access and opportunity. We must help one another so we can be the change-makers, in our communities, Nationally, and worldwide.

Most importantly, don’t be like this man who did not say his name and was so off-putting with an attitude of annoyance; after reading this example, if you encounter someone who is blind, lost or looking for directions, work with them, ask how best to help, and go with it.

Are Those French Fries?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs

Being a guide dog handler is probably the best choice I’ve made since going blind. It gives me much more than just a canine partner and increased safety. Sometimes it even brings comic relief.

A few months ago, I left work and walked around the corner to relieve my guide dog, Bailey. We began the usual routine, and then he started to do something odd, he lay down. I bent to try to make sure he wasn’t eating anything, and, being a Labrador, he sure was munching on something. I pulled him away and made him spit it out but he’d already swallowed it. I needed to know what was all over the sidewalk, so I got out my phone and called AIRA. The agent identified the scattered items through the camera on my mobile phone as French fries, to my relief. If Bailey was going to be corrected for temptation, I needed to know what had done the tempting. The agent’s quick and accurate scan of the area confirmed it was something that would not cause Bailey any harm. This helped me breathe a sigh of relief; it was only a few French fries. We could deal with it.

This is also a reminder that while Bailey has an advanced canine degree as a guide dog, he is still a dog and will give into temptation. The counterbalance to this is knowing that when he does his job, when he pulls us from a driver turning right on red as we try to cross a street, or when he shoves me away from the speeding bicyclist hurtling down the sidewalk, a few French fries is acceptable.

Rescuing May the Dog

| Filed under Guide dogs Relationships

Another dog person once told me each time a dog finds a home either via purchase or adoption, it has been rescued. I think about this often, especially when a new dog comes into our lives.

Nikka died in February 2019 at age 16. Losing her was bittersweet, she had healed our hearts after losing two dogs a year apart, from cancer. We had hoped she would live a long time and she didn’t let us down in this respect. She had a sassy beagle-tude and was a clown and a challenge.

By this time, Verona, my retired lab, was old, almost 13 and Bailey, my working dog was 6.

As it happened, April, our daughter, finally asked the question and I said I was ready; prior to the question a few weeks ago, “When are we getting another dog?”, I still had felt Nikka’s loss.

But this time, my heart was ready to accept a new canine family member and we found ourselves at the local animal shelter. It was like the Goldilocks fairy tale, this dog is too old, this one too young, this one too yappy, this one too big. Then the shelter worker brought in May, an 8 month old slender border collie mix about 50 lbs. Bailey and May played until their tongues hung out and we knew she would be going home with us.

It’s been about a month and here is what we know : she was brought up here for adoption from a West Virginia kill shelter, loves to chew and may have already been partially trained when she got lost and ended up in the shelter. Her herding instincts are surfacing, apparent by the instinct to heel, please the handler, and take on new commands quickly and willingly. She already is leash trained but does require supervision inside and with other dogs, mostly due to her propensity to nip during play. We hope she will learn to stop this and model good play with Bailey’s help. She has captured our hearts and even Titan, our cat, is grudgingly accepting this new dog.

April and May are partners, sharing what good partners share, and we are all working together to raise this young and energetic dog. There will be more of May on my blog, just wait and read what will be coming up next.
This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.
Collie mix May posing for the camera.

Performing Poetry and Friends In Art

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Writing Life

In July I had the chance to perform two poems, In Those Dark Moments C 2016 and On The Tip Of A Finger C 2019 at the Friends In Art ACB showcase.

I was inspired to do it after watching Tom Hanks do a piece of performance poetry on Jimmy Kimmel.
I also co-hosted it and had a lot of fun and met many great folks and talented musicians, singers, and performers. To view the poems, go to
www.annchiappetta.com www.annchiappetta.com

Catch me on this ACB Radio podcast

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Writing Life

Ann Chiapetta Update – Wednesday August 7th 10:30PM Eastern/7:30PM Pacific (and replays every two hours throughout the next day)

ACB member and author Ann Chiapetta rejoins us. She’s going to tell us about one of her brand spanking new publications and give our listeners who want to be authors some guidance.

To listen to this week’s “Speaking Out for the Blind,” go to: http://acbradio.org/mainstream, and choose one of the links under the headings “Listen to ACB Radio Mainstream” and “Now Playing;” or call 1-641-793-0756, and when prompted, press “1” for ACB Radio Mainstream. You may also listen to the program live on the ACB Link mobile app. For more information, go to http://link.acb.org.