Five Things I’m Glad I Bought #5Things

Today’s topic for #5Things is things you’re happy about having bought. I have bought a lot of things that I later regretted buying, most recently my Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. Thankfully, after a long ordeal with the vendor, I got my money back. Hence, here are five things I’m actually happy about having bought.

1. my iPhone. I’m currently on my second one, having used the previous model for nearly three years. The current one, I’ve had for two years tomorrow I think. It’s an iPhone SE 2020. My previous one was the original SE. I am still debating with myself whether I want to get the SE 2022 or wait if they’re going to release a 14 Mini in the fall. I originally got an iPhone because of its more advanced accessibility features compared to phones running Android. Even though iOS has been causing some more or less serious bugs with each major update since I got my original iPhone except for iOS 12, I still agree iPhone’s the best.

2. My laptop. I got my first laptop when I was eleven and got my current screen reader, JAWS, when I was fifteen. In fact, yesterday marked twenty years online for me. I had to buy my own laptops from age twenty on. I use a Windows laptop and yes, I’ve tried a Mac but no, that one’s not for me. Oh wait, I didn’t actually buy my current laptop, since my mother-in-law paid for it in exchange for my Mac. Never mind.

3. My current headphones. Okay, they’re only three weeks old, so I’m still waiting for them to bite the bullet as my Bose ones did. However, those crashed within just over two weeks, so the current ones have already surpassed those. Besides, the Bose headphones cost €240, while these cost €50. They’re a Chinese brand, which is why I can’t for the life of me remember the brand name, but my husband Googled it and said it’s a good-enough Chinese brand.

4. Lots of polymer clay and crafting supplies. I mean, of course there are a couple of things I don’t really use, but most things I bought myself, I do actually love. Most recently, I bought a hand drill and a huge set of small drill bits, to drill holes into my earring pieces etc. I had some trouble figuring the thing out and for a bit thought I shouldn’t have bought the things, but now that I know how to use the drill, it’s fab.

5. Books. I don’t normally buy books, as I get most of them on Bookshare. That being the case, when I do buy a book, it’s usually one I won’t regret having bought. Most recently, I bought the latest Casey Watson foster care memoir and, while I feared the Apple Books app would have trouble with it, it didn’t.

What is one of your happiest purchases?

Zone: Describing My Creative Space #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to the last day in the #AtoZChallenge. About half of the times I’ve completed the challenge, I’ve chosen “ZZZ” for sleep as my topic for my letter Z post. I originally wanted to do the same now, but I really can’t think of ways in which my sleep relates to my creativity other than the obvious: that I need enough of it to be creative.

Instead, I am going with the word “Zone” and describe my creative space, or where I feel like I can “zone in” to my creative self.

I blog wherever I have access to my phone or computer. I could also probably be crafty in many places. However, the place I feel most comfortable being creative in, is my room in the care facility.

I have a desk, which I’ve had for over fifteen years. This desk, I use to have my computer and iPhone on. I prefer typing on my laptop keyboard, but can also type on my iPhone’s external keyboard. I cannot type anything beyond simple messages, usually consisting only of one word, on my iPhone’s screen directly. Even with the external keyboard, due to WordPress having done away with the classic editor on mobile devices, I much prefer to blog on my laptop. For this reason, when I want to blog and I’ll be away, such as at my and my husband’s house in Lobith, I’ll take my laptop with me.

For crafting, I have a separate table. I do need to clear it out when I am finished for the morning or afternoon, as I eat at that table too. I already showed you all where I keep my craft supplies in my letter K post. I can easily reach those from my table.

Then there is, of course, the shelf above my desk, where I display my finished projects. That’s part of my creative zone too, in that it inspires my creativity.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 2, 2022)

Hi everyone on this cold Saturday evening. I am joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’m afraid I just have water or maybe the staff has put some soft drinks in the fridge by now. My favorite soft drink, Dubbelfrisss, wasn’t cold when I had my evening drink about an hour ago. Anyway, let’s have a chat.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I finally have been crafting again today after a week of just watching crafty videos and doing nothing creative at all. That is, I’ve been blogging, which counts too, of course, but I haven’t touched my polymer clay or jewelry-making supplies or macrame cords or anything.

Today, I finally did a couple of pieces for the mobile for the baby my sister is expecting. I also finished the polymer clay hedgehog I’d started on about a month ago. At first, I was disappointed, because I’d used up all of a particular color for its body and now it was nowhere to be found, so I couldn’t do the ears in the same color. Turns out real hedgehogs also have slightly differently colored ears than their bodies. Besides, I never really meant to be doing a fully realistic sculpture anyway (I can’t).

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the rest of the week was quite meh. I’ve been having tons of plans in my head, but no ability to actually put them into action. Today, I also experienced a ton of flashbacks and internal chaos. Seriously, the discrepancy between my intellectual ability and my emotional immaturity is really getting at me. I find that I can intellectually think of a lot of things that emotionally I cannot handle at all. I’m not sure if this makes sense.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I may want to research an autism support method by Colette de Bruin. My assigned home support staff pointed it out to me and said she’s pretty much using the method on me already, but I may benefit from learning about it myself.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I am very happy with the latest iOS update. I finally was able to do some reading again on my iPhone yesterday, since the update fixed a bug that caused my Braille display to become pretty unresponsive. I usually read with just my Braille display, as I don’t like VoiceOver’s synthetic speech for that.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that I have a quiet weekend, because my husband isn’t coming over and I have no other plans. Next week though is going to be busy, especially the weekend. I am going to the nationwide cerebral palsy day with my mother-in-law. I will be attending a workshop on aging with CP in the morning, which I am really looking forward to. In the afternoon, I’ll be attending a yoga class. I may not be able to write a coffee share post then, especially since I’m also supposed to stay up-to-date with the #AtoZChallenge. I’ll be certain to write about it though.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (April 1, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I really want to write another blog post tonight. Specifically, I want to write a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful. Let me share those things I’ve been grateful for in the past week.

1. A good appt with the behavior specialist. Behavior specialists, actually, as the one I used to see was a temp and she was introducing me to the new one. We had a good talk.

2. The best Asian food ever gone even better. Read: spicier. Like I said last week, a staff was leaving, the same staff who got me the best Asian food ever a few weeks ago. As a goodbye present to me, she promised me another serving of the food. This time though, she got a “mildly spicy” version. Well, according to the Indonesian cooks, at least. It was amazing, but I did get a slight stomachache from it afterwards.

3. Inspiration to write again. I’m now on a six-day streak on my blog and have picked up writing in my diary app, Day One, too.

4. Great blog stats and engagement. Okay, I feel as though the majority of the page views I got on the day I got nearly 300 this past week, were probably bots, but oh well. I am also getting lots of engagement, which is awesome.

5. Paracetamol. I have been having some back pain lately, but thankfully, it responds well to paracetamol.

6. The new iOS version. It actually finally solved the major Braille-related bug that had been in existence for literally months.

7. My new headphones. I finally decided to order new noise canceling headphones and decided to go for the Bose QuietComfort 45 ones. At first, I was a little disappointed, because the manual said they could be used with an audio cable while on (so that I can use noise canceling). Apparently not. However, other than that and the fact that its spoken announcements are in English only, it’s quite good.

8. The fact that I’m still overweight rather than obese despite a lot of “cheat” meals and treats over the past week. In fact, I only gained 0.1kg.

9. The fact that it wasn’t raining or snowing when I went to the day center this afternoon (it had been snowing and raining a lot during the rest of the day). Plus the fact that, even though the daytime temperature didn’t get above 4°C today, it didn’t even feel all that cold thanks to my winter coat.

10. The fact that a fellow client made me laugh with his April Fools joke this evening. The staff did check whether I was okay with a little prank and I said I was. In the end, I didn’t really understand the prank, but we both laughed at the verbal joke about April Fools that went along with it.

What are you grateful for?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 14, 2022) #WeeklySmile

Hi all. I’m joining the Weekly Smile today. I don’t promise this will be a weekly feature, of course, but the hashtag is #WeeklySmile. I could really use a bit of cheer today, so I’m going to share some little things that gave me joy lately. Hopefully writing about them will make me smile now too.

First up are flowers once again. Last Thursday as well as yesterday, I went for a walk and took some pictures of flowers I came across on my way. The below picture is of an anemone we came across yesterday. We initially called it a giant crocus, but I found out it’s an anemone by running the picture through some plant identification apps.

That’s my second little joy: I just love learning about all sorts of different plants and running my pictures through identification apps. I haven’t yet found the perfect plant identification app after having tried out several, but that’s okay.

Finally, a thing that’s been making me smile for days: discovering an app that will allow me (with some help) to make collages and mosaics with my photos. The app is called PhotoGrid and, though some parts of the app are free, I decided to try out the premium membership right away and didn’t cancel when my trial period (which admittedly is only three days) was over. The below collage, my staff and I made with most of the photos we’d taken while going for a walk on Thursday. I’m linking this post to Mosaic Monday. Hope I did it right.

One of my staff later suggested I use this collage as my cover photo on Facebook, so I did. I had never had a cover photo before.

It may seem weird that I, being blind, like photography. However, with the image description tools, including now the plant identification apps, on my phone, I think it’s a great way of getting acquainted with my surroundings.

A Walk on Wednesday

Hi all on this beautiful Wednesday. It was sunny all day and the temperature reached 13°C in the afternoon. For this reason, I decided to go for a nice walk again. I’m still not fully recovered from COVID, but I was able to walk for about 15 minutes without feeling very tired. I really enjoyed my walk!

I took my phone with me on my walk, so that I could hopefully snap a picture of some flowers in bloom. I was really surprised when my staff said that the daffodils were in bloom in a garden we passed by. I mean, I’d been of the impression that they don’t blossom until sometime in mid-April at the earliest. I did feel a little self-conscious, taking a picture of some random person’s flowers, but oh well, we weren’t taking the flowers away.

Like I may’ve said before, VoiceOver Recognition no longer automatically describes images when I tap on them. However, contrary to what I used to think, image recognition isn’t completely gone; it was just moved to being its own separate function. This does allow for more detail to be added into the descriptions. In this case, VoiceOver clearly recognized that there are daffodils in this picture both on the lower right and lower left side of the image. I love this!

I’m linking this post with Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Sunday Ramble: Technology and the Future

Hi all. I’m feeling kind of off today. I’m not sure it’s all in my head or I’m suffering with the early symptoms of a mild case of COVID. I haven’t had another lateral flow test, as I don’t feel worse than I did yesterday – in fact, I feel slightly better. On Tuesday, I’ll have a PCR test, so unless I develop really telling symptoms, none of which I have so far, I’ll wait and see until then.

Anyway, for my blog post today, I’m answering E.M.’s Sunday Ramble questions. Her topic for this week is technology and the future. Here are her questions.

1. Are there any applications on your mobile device, tablets, etc. that you cannot live without? Feel free to ramble about them! Maybe we will learn new apps that will become important in our own lives.
I am going with the more unusual apps here, as I doubt I’ll be inspiring anyone else to download Facebook or a web browser (I use Edge even on my iPhone, by the way) if they haven’t already. Apps I truly love on my iPhone include the diary app Day One. I previously reviewed Diarium, another diary app, but have since gone back to using Day One mostly because it allows me to have multiple diaries.

Other apps include MyNoise, an app that allows users to select soundscapes, the task management app Microsoft To Do and Seeing AI, an app that describes images. It most recently guessed my age in a photo to be 44 though. 😒 Admittedly, I pulled a rather odd face in a forced attempt to smile. And just so you know, no, I’m not going to post the photo here. 🙂

2. Do you prefer Apple or Android?
Apple for sure! It is far more advanced with respect to accessibility for the blind.

3. Windows OS or MacOS?
Windows. I tried a Mac some years ago, thinking it’d be easy to use with my being an iPhone user already, but I couldn’t get used to it. The only advantage of MacOS is that it comes with a built-in screen reader, like iOS. For Windows, you have to buy (or get insurance to pay for) JAWS.

4. What do you wish that you would have placed in a time capsule 15+ years ago to have access to now?
I answered a similar question already on another blog a few weeks back: I’d bring back the disability-related story-sharing websites we had in the early 2000s, like Tell-Us-Your-Story.com. I also would’ve put Diaryland’s diaryrings into the time capsule, but then I’d have hacked the concept and applied it to today’s blogs. Webrings are cool! I think the concept still exists, but hardly anyone participates nowadays.

5. When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes? Go as sci-fi and/or fantasy as you would like and ramble on however you wish to ramble When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes? Go as sci-fi and/or fantasy as you would like and ramble on however you wish to ramble.
I have absolutely no idea. I did a post on this topic some six years ago on my old blog, but I mostly focused on what my life would be like when I was in my late seventies. I really hope that image description and the like will be very much improved, so that the blind will be able to “see” this way. There already are glasses, such as the Orcam or Envision Glasses, which will describe things a person is looking at. I haven’t tried those, but if they evolve more, and they likely will, I’d love to try those someday.

What do you wish you could’ve put into a time capsule to take with you from 15+ years ago?

Gratitude List (February 12, 2022) #TToT

Hi again all. I want to post a gratitude list again. Actually, I sort of did one yesterday too by sharing the material things I’d loved. Then though, Ten Things of Thankful was not yet online (or rather, the wrong linky was). Since I like to link my posts up there, I waited till today to write my actual gratitude list. Oh wait, that makes me look spammy, I guess, but oh well. Let me share some things other than chalk pastels and tuna I’ve been grateful for.

1. Seeing my husband. I am in Lobith right now and am so grateful to be with my husband again. I couldn’t see him last week due to the storm and haven’t been in Lobith since Christmas, so it’s especially good.

2. Pizza. Oh, that’s a material thing, but who cares? We ordered Domino’s this evening and, despite the fact that their menu has shifted to include more vegan and gluten-free options and fewer regular pizzas, my pizza (spicy chicken meat lover’s with extra chicken) was delicious! I initially typed a long rant about how Domino’s has gone too far with their “healthy” trendiness by doing the vegan and GF (which I doubt is genuinely 100% GF) thing at the expense of meat lovers, but I deleted it. I’m just grateful they still had at least something spiced with chicken.

3. My husban’ds Valentine’s Day present for me. I got 2 sets of polymer clay: one with 12 25g blocks of Fimo soft and the other with 6 42g blocks Fimo kids. I haven’t used Fimo kids before, so have to determine whether it’s not too soft for my liking.

4. Decent sleep most nights. Either the pregabalin is starting to work (although I haven’t noticed an improvement in my anxiety level yet) or I am for another reason better able to sleep. I had only one bad night this past week.

5. Eggs. Until a few months ago, a former staff from my care home and her husband would give us a tray of eggs from their own chickens each week. Sadly, the husband died and the chickens had to leave their house, which meant no more eggs for us. However, usually, we now order eggs from the supermarket. I recently found out we now even have an electric, talking egg boiler. Well, I had a boiled egg on my bread this morning.

6. Sunshine. It’s cold outside. Okay, I say that all the time, but the temperatures dropped to below freezing point last night. However, it’s also been quite sunny out. I love looking out of my window to see the sunshine.

7. Longer daylight. This may be related to the last one, but not necessarily so. I love the fact that the days are getting longer. As my husband said, we’re heading towards summer! 🤣

8. Weight loss. I already mentioned this afternoon that I crossed the line from obese to just overweight this week. My dietitian says the Dutch Food Center doesn’t even say you really need to lose weight if you’re in this category.

9. My shoes having returned from the orthopedic shoemaker. Not the orthopedic footwear, mind you. That’s the never-ending story if you ask me. However, for now, I have useable shoes again.

10. My PC. I am so grateful my PC still works. My iPhone, after all, more or less stopped cooperating with my Braille display altogether with the latest iOS upgrade, which should actually have fixed the very problem it now seems to have made worse. Thankfully though, I have a functioning PC with the latest JAWS (my screen reader), on which I can do most things I want to do. I just tried accessing the WordPress.com app to check my notifications, but for some reason, that won’t work still. I’m just grateful I can write E-mails and blog posts on my PC.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (January 28, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I have been doing my gratitude posts on Saturday lately, but today I feel in the mood for one and I don’t care that it’s Friday. Since the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) linky is live already, I’m joining in with it. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for Chinese takeout on Sunday. It was delicious! Originally, the staff had been planning on cooking noodles herself, but then due to another staff contracting COVID, shifts got moved around. The staff who would be cooking the noodles, had ordered shoarma to go with the noodles, which was a combination neihter me nor the staff who was now going to cook liked. In the end, we decided to put the shoarma in the freezer and get Chinese takeout.

2. I am grateful my husband, who got ill with the flu last week, is better again. He tested negative for COVID, thankfully, and was able to return to work on Tuesday.

3. I am grateful a fellow client, who went into hospital earlier in the week, was able to come home again.

4. I am grateful for fried fish for lunch on Tuesday. Originally, I felt bad about doing something that wasn’t on my food plan twice in one week, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. In addition, thankfully, the dietitian reassured me that this is completely within reason.

5. I am grateful I lost 1kg over the past week and have only 0.2kg to lose to cross the border from obese to overweight. I am also grateful that the dietitian isn’t expecting me to lose weight quickly. Furthermore, once I am in the overweight category, the main goal is to prevent weight gain really.

6. I am grateful for the support of my assigned staff. Last Wednesday night, I hardly slept at all and I sent her an E-mail in the middle of the night. The next morning, even though she hadn’t read my E-mail yet, she woke me up despite actually not being my staff for that morning. We had a very good talk.

7. I am grateful for the support of my nurse practitioner. He doesn’t really know what will help me in the way of medication or whatever yet, now that we’ve more or less concluded that the topiramate isn’t as effective as we’d hoped. However, he’s enlisting the help of the psychiatrist.

8. I am grateful I finished my first handmade polymer clay necklace in time to give it to a fellow client in the care home downstairs from mine for her birthday today. It took me over a month of hard work, but I am so proud of myself for finishing it! I am also grateful she was very happy with it.

9. I am grateful for an extra weighted blanket when I feel very anxious. I always use a blanket filled with sand-like granules when sleeping, but when I feel very anxious, I can add a ball-filled blanket on top of it for extra deep pressure.

10. I am grateful I was able to solve at least one of the problems the most recent iOS update was causing with VoiceOver on my iPhone. Since updating, VoiceOver’s speech prefaced every character I typed by “Underscore”. This turned out to be due to a setting that had been switched by the update or something. Unfortunately, some problems, like Braille display sluggishness, persist.

What have you been grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 19, 2021)

Hi all on this late Sunday evening! Boy, am I late joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’ve had all my coffee for the day and even had my last soft drink. If you’d like one, I’m sure I can still pass you one through the Internet though. Let’s have a cup of coffee or another drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the weather is still pretty good for September here. Temperatures rose to roughly 20°C in the afternoon and it’s been mostly dry with some sunshine and some clouds. Today while in the car being taken back to the care facility from Lobith, my husband even said I had to wear sunglasses. Now sadly the sunlight wasn’t particularly bright to my (almost) totally blind eyes, but yesterday I’d gotten a headache from what might’ve been exposure to bright sunlight that I wasn’t consciously detecting.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband and I had our tenth wedding anniversary today. We celebrated it yesterday with a large Domino’s pizza. We each had a milkshake too, but it was far too thick for my liking. I couldn’t finish drinking it, whether I tried the paper straw that came with it or my own silicone straw.

If we were having coffee, I would finally show you the picture of the present I gave my husband for our anniversary. It’s a polymer clay heart with the text “Assie houdt van je” stamped into it. Assie is my nickname (and no, in Dutch, there is no connotation to asses) and “houdt van je” is Dutch for “loves you”. There is magnetic tape at the back so that my husband could hang it on the fridge.

Polymer Clay Heart for My Husband

My husband really appreciated the gift.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rest of my week was okay. I was a little sad and grieving the loss of my eyesight, as well as worrying about my upcoming care plan review. The review won’t be until September 30 and of course it doesn’t involve judgment and it isn’t a test.

However, I have been increasingly aware of my inner fight regarding my wish to stay here in Raalte and yet my feeling that I ought to be looking for another care facility or working towards living with my husband. In my paragraph about the bright sunshine, I almost wrote I was taken “home to the care facility” rather than “back”, as if our house in Lobith is less of a home to me than the care facility. My support staff would consider this progress, in that I’m beginning to feel safe here at the care facility. However, there’s an inner voice that tells me that this is betraying my husband. I know he supports me staying here for now, but I also know he struggles with the distance. Ugh, this is so hard.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’m very curious about iOS 15, which will be out tomorrow. Like almost every year, there is one critic on the Dutch VoiceOver E-mail group who warns all of us to wait because it’ll be drama. This year though, the accessibility bugs seem not as serious as last year and especially the year before. Still, I’ll probably wait at least a couple of weeks until at least some of the other members of the group have actually installed the official release. I am really curious about live text in photos and improved VoiceOver image recognition though.

How have you been?