Friday, February 10, 2012

What Gets Me Up On Cold-To-The-Bone Winter Days

Since I've been in Alaska, I have posted many pictures and a few highlighted stories of the trips I've taken.  Most of the trips have been work-related, which fact engenders no small amount of gratitude on my part.  My travel schedule is beginning to pick up again and I am having to spend extra hours here in Anchorage to make up for lost instruction hours while I'm away.  At the center, we have training terms wherein I teach Orientation and Mobility on a daily basis and also do PR work at various conferences and meetings. 

I'm going to surprise the world and admit that organization is not my strong suit.  As a matter of fact, it's probably not even a suit at all in my card game!  Yeah, you know how the saying goes that someone is not playing with a full deck.  My deck is missing a whole suit, when it comes to being organized and managing my time well.  Or managing it at all.  Well, I can go in spurts, like I did yesterday when I went to Costco and purchased some storage tubs and a rolling duffel bag for my office.  Grand plans to organize my road-travel equipment in clear storage tubs to prevent all that digging around to see what's in there.  And the duffel is for air travel.  I didn't get very far with those grand plans and now I'm stepping over the duffel and the tubs to get to my computer.  I am staying late to chip away at that task, as I have four 1 1/2-hour classes a day this term and am also trying to coordinate upcoming travel and appointments and ordering and report-writing.  But I sure do like that wheeled duffel bag!  I know I'm especially going to love it when I get to pack it. 

My colleague who does a similar job, travels with 200 pounds of luggage every time she makes a trip.  She flies to all of her destinations, rents a car and then sets her low vision equipment up in a clinic room where she sees upwards of 8 clients a day in one location.  I've been on a few trips with her, done some of the on-site work with her, and helped carry her load, but usually, I take my bags of equipment to make home-visits to people who have difficulty getting out to her clinics, or I just take a cane to teach O&M to someone in their own environment. 

I can travel 50 miles from the clinic in a town to see just one person, sometimes, or go across town to a senior center to work with residents there, or to another facility to do a presentation, etc.  I do not want to carry 200 pounds of luggage everytime I make a trip. I have my own clinics in areas where I have to fly to reach the people.  Fly, rent a car, take a ferry or a hover craft.  I do not want to take 200 pounds of luggage everytime I make a trip.  Oh, did I say that already?

I've decided to mail things ahead of me when I fly--things that I don't plan on bringing back, like catalogs, calendars, and other give-away items if I can get organized enough to do that.  And my personal luggage is light.  I don't carry two laptops like my colleague does.  She takes her work laptop and her personal laptop, so as not to mix up passwords and security, etc.  I don't know what all else, but she has even done those trips on crutches and this last time her arm was in a cast.  No. Thank. You.

We take low vision aids to demonstrate to people who are experiencing vision loss as adults.  Magnifiers of all types--stand, hand-held, electronic, adaptive household aids, various low vision glasses, Talking Book recorders, financial organizers (there's that word, again,) marking supplies, informative literature etc.  We have money to offer $100 worth of equipment to each client we see at no cost to them, which is a happy part of my already happy job.  Yes, my job is happy and I am happy to have this happy job.  I also take a lot of give-aways that people really like.  I don't know where they all came from but I found them in my office when I moved in.  "Finders get to take 'em and give 'em away," I always say. 

On my first road trip, I packed some inexpensive talking watches to give away, and one of those watches talked to me on the whole trip.  I couldn't discover which watch it was--everytime I stopped and looked in the container, it quit talking.  Cheeky, sneaky watch. 

And now the best part.  I get to meet people.  People in the bush, off the grid, in the village, in rural areas, in towns and I was going to say cities, but I don't think Alaska has cities.  Maybe Anchorage is a city.  You have to know there are some stories out there! 

  • long-time homesteaders,
  • champion bull riders who have to stop riding in their 50s after the last event resulted in a crushed leg,
  • people who have worked "on the slope" for many, many years,
  • 90-year-old tennis champions who have lived in the same place for their whole 90 years,
  • 94-year-old ship builders who build ships in the mountains and still carry their own water up the steps in their "dry" cabins,
  • native artists, herbalists, crafters, culture-keepers and kuspuk (or qaspeq) makers,
  • people with signs on the inside of their doors that read "Do not take any more cups out of this house.  That is stealing.  Stealing from the blind is a shame."
  • people with wooden signs in the trees that read, "In loving memory of ________'s 25 trusting dogs, murdered in their yard." 
  • young people who hitchhike to get around and take rides on snowmachines in temps as low as 30 below
And so many more.  I'm heading to Ketchikan in about a week.  I will take pictures like a tourist.  This is another shared trip with my colleague, only she's going ahead of me and we will have only a couple of shared tasks, but we'll stay in the same lodge in the mountains because she found that first.  Otherwise, I might have chosen to stay down on Creek Street, but we like to stay at the same place to facilitate spending after-hours together for dinner and shopping. YES.  We shop on our trips.  What. You think I would go to all these places and not shop somewhere and buy something?