Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

Giving Up E.T.

| Filed under writing

Giving it up

I want to begin this entry by saying that the blind and visually impaired folks who live with progressive vision loss reading this will identify with what I’m writing. It’s the folks who still have their sight who may cringe. But that’s okay, I write to find out what I think. Discovering the hidden messages in what I’m writing about helps me grow and accept the ebb and flow of life. I also write to educate others on what it’s like to be blind and witness, through the written word, the ways in which I cope with it. Don’t let that fool you, though – I’ve learned to adapt and overcome many obstacles but many still remain. If you are reading my blog entries, you can agree with that statement, for sure.  Thus, writing and expressing the daily worries and stressors keeps me on track and lets the reader grow with me. I love my readers. I read all the comments and hope what I write helps someone in turn.


Anyway, on to the actual subject.

Today I took down the CCTV. First, let me explain what the acronym stands for: closed circuit TV. It magnifies text or objects with a video camera mounted to an arm and projects the image onto a monitor above the camera. The model I have is a monster and ten years old. It practically gave me a hernia when I lifted it from the desk. I’ll feel it tomorrow, for sure.


Anyway, why did I give it up? I didn’t need it anymore and, no, not because I was suddenly healed and could see once again. The reason is because I no longer can see any printed material, so the CCTV I call E.T. (it looks like E. T. the extra terrestrial in profile). Is now on the floor and will be taken out of my home on Monday by our porter.  I thought about donating it but decided that lugging E.T. to someone’s home was just too much. I also thought about bringing  E.T. to a pawn shop but decided against it for the very same reason. The sucker must weigh 50 pounds. So, I’m going to give it away. Somehow it feels better doing this, not sure why.


The last vestiges of useable vision have gone, and so must E.T. Phone home, my friend, find your new place — as long as it’s not in my home taking up much needed space.


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Harness Envy

| Filed under Guide dogs


This blog entry is for all the guide dog users. When I first was matched with Verona, my first guide dog, I had some problems using her harness. Once I got the handle swapped out for a longer version, things changed for the better but I still felt that I couldn’t “feel” my dog like other handlers said I should. I soldiered on, accepting that I could work my dog even if she was a soft pull and gentle all around. She kept me safe, that was all that mattered in the big scheme of things.


Then, a friend from another guide dog school let me examine her harness, which was made from lightweight leather and an aluminum handle with a button release that was much easier for those times when the handle needed to be taken off. My harness was klunky in comparison. I admitted it then, I had a hard case of harness envy.


A few years later, my school announced they were redesigning the harness, incorporating the lightweight  quick release clips and floating handle , similar to the harness from the other school while still keeping in mind the classic elements of high quality bridle leather and solid metal hardware that withstood the test of time and the elements.

I hoped and prayed that I would one day get this into my hot little hands and onto my dog’s back and finally benefit from a more sensitive piece of equipment. I didn’t have long to wait and wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I am very impressed.


The new harness is slimmer, lighter, and gives the handler more sensory information. I can now feel my dog’s gait, shoulder movement, and pace. She leads out more confidently and I feel her move in ways I never did with the other, heavier and less intuitive harness.  When my dog shifts or changes elevation for a dipping sidewalk or a ramp, I feel it.  Also, the handle floats so  my dog doesn’t require additional hardware to keep the handle off her back, an issue she has from a sensitive rump, what the instructors called cushy tushy syndrome. The new harness is also much lighter and   the back and shoulder strap isn’t as thick  as the old harness so it doesn’t weigh down my dog. She is a female lab and only weighs 60 pounds so I lighter, slimmer design really helps her work better for longer periods  of time. It means less physical stress on her back and shoulders which could help her work better and longer and reduce discomfort.


I am very happy with my new harness and thank my school, guiding Eyes for the Blind,  for taking the concerns of our students to heart and maiking improvements for those of us who felt it was time to do it.

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Time for Healing?

| Filed under writing

Every now and then I read through my poetry folder on my computer. I admit it, I hoard my writing, squirreling away incomplete pieces or writing that isn’t suited for public viewing. Some of it is strictly of a venting and cathartic nature, some of it is truly not complete, and a few pieces are ready to be offered but held back because of other mitigating factors. Most of these rarities are written to figure out how to handle the situations provoking them. Perhaps a death, or a serious conflict wherein I am involved, or even a letter to a corporation or entity for whom I feel has been discriminatory to folks in some way are all in this folder.


Today I came across a poem I was going to send some of my family members over the 2012 holidays. I was compelled to write it because I felt completely at a loss as to how to offer the proverbial olive branch and try to get the people involved in talking over the conflict so we could once again share the holidays without any  unvoiced anger or resentments. Since I wasn’t the one most injured by the situation,  and I felt helpless to rectify it, I hesitated in sending the poem. After much soul searching and a re-reading of the poem, I am posting  it here on my blog because I have no confidence that my words will effect any change and be accepted as it is: n ardent prayer for some reconsilliation and rebuilding of trust. By posting this, the hope that these words will, in some way, help all of my readers to take on something that has become an unresolvable issue and like the dove  carrying the olive branch, let it go to soar and be free of the gravity limiting it’s flight.


I give it up to the Heavens and hope that I’ve done the right thing.





Dear Loved Ones,


This year my gift is a wish

I’d like this wish to come true.

I’d like this wish to be a gift from me to each of you.


what will it be when you open it?


For some of us this year it will be the kind of gift

Not easily gotten or given

for some it will be something received but not acknowledged.

For a few others

The gift will be rejected.


The gift is forgiveness.

Wrapped in acceptance

secured by a ribbon of hope

Shining with love.


This is the best I can do

For each of you

For better or worse we are family

Let’s share the gift and heal.


November 2012






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Summer Thoughts and Other Things

| Filed under writing

Summer Thoughts and Other Things

I hate the hot, humid weather. It makes my chest feel heavy and makes my asthma act up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun, the products of summer, especially the garden vegetables, fresh herbs, and outdoor cooking. I just wish I lived with less humidity and pollution. Resignedly,I am one the people who must consider not going outside during ozone alerts.


Knowing this, I hesitated going out today in the ozone heavy air for the gym. But I figured the gym is inside and the bus is air conditioned, and I’d be safe, my rescue inhaler in hand.  Truth told, I wasn’t sure how my body would respond but I got on the bike anyway. I was surprised to find that I had no trouble and by the 30 minute mark, I was in the zone. I could have gone an extra ten minutes but I didn’t want to overdo it. I proved to myself that maybe my breathing isn’t as restrictive as I once thought. I take my meds religiously and now that I am working out I feel so much better. This is proof of the hard work even if the pounds aren’t coming off like they should be.


Next, both the dogs were sick with the barfs. Jerry and I cleaned up dog barf and took Verona to the Guiding Eyes vet to make sure it wasn’t something more serious than a virus. So we’ve traded the two footed children for the four footed ones this time, making sure they were okay. We are leaning toward pesticide exposure, as they sprayed the day before Verona got sick. It’s scary because this kind of toxin can cause kidney and liver damage and cancer. It makes me wonder if Rocky and Gunny died so young with such serious medical problems due to continued pesticide exposure. But then, I’m not a paranoid person.


Next week I am taking the marriage and family therapy licensing exam. I’ve studied for about a month inbetween work and family stuff and think I am as prepared as I’m going to get without retaking the entire master’s curriculum again. I know there will be things I will not know, as one cannot possibly remember, at my age, the entire study guide verbatim. I’m hoping to pass, that’s all. If I surprise myself and do well, then kudos to me.  I just want this part of the struggle to be over so I can write that darned article about the disparities facing even the well educated blind professionals. I have to follow this experience to the end in order to write it.


The other item I am trying to work on is another advocacy issue: guide dog teams being passed up or refused taxi cab service. Taxi cab refusal is a growing problem in all parts of the United States and  it has to stop. It makes me wonder at the lunacy of it. I mean, a blind person doesn’t drive, and uses public or private transportation options like buses, trains, and, even taxi cabs to get around. The ADA has made our access to other modes of transportation a normal and useful tool for us but the medallion/checkered cabs, and even the large cab companies to an extent, are another animal altogether.


After being passed over and then refused service at the curb, and finding out that so many other guide dog users are also trying to fight the resistance in other metro areas, I think we need to band together and start making changes. If you are reading this and agree, email me directly: and let me know if you would be interested in a grass roots advocacy effort.


I hope each and every one reading this is well and enjoying the summer season. Mother nature hasn’t been very nice to us lately, so I am praying that the upcoming hurricane season goes by with a whimper.





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