Christmas at the Magic Kingdom

Close up of Cinderella's Castle. Soaring palace of gray stones and bright blue tiled turrets. There is a golden spire on top. On the front is a clock.

Cinderella’s Castle, a thing of beauty and the centerpiece of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We all need a bit of magic in our lives, and there is no better place to find it than here. Christmas is special in the Magic Kingdom. Main Street brings back the joy of the old downtowns where Christmas was a world of lights, bows, and hope.

This is the post that nearly didn’t happen, and even tonight I cannot re-create the way I was feeling having returned from a day of fantasy and fun. I’d like to share with you, though, the things that I saw and loved and maybe impart a bit of how I felt.

Frontal view of an old car. It has a red hood, gold headlights, and a black cloth top. Cinderella's Castle in in the background. There are 2 dancers on the left.

We arrived early, having eaten a light breakfast at home. Between the parking lot and the entrance is Bay Lake, a huge lake created from the previous marsh land by Walt Disney for the express purpose of broadening the experience and separating the “magic” from the world. He designed two ways to cross, futuristic monorail or historical replicas of the Staton Island Ferries. Town square is first, then Main Street, and at the other end is   the beautiful castle.

After visiting the Confectioner’s shop and bypassing the throngs at Starbuck’s (it is somewhat camouflaged), we decided the course of least resistance would be brunch at The Plaza Restaurant. A 2 story, white columned building with a brilliant painted gold ceiling on the second floor porch.the Plaza Restaurant. The perfect start to the day, it avoided the necessity of the lines for “fast” food. Then we just let ourselves drift where the mood took us. Back through the shops, then in front of the castle. Having been there many times, we have no need to see it all in one trip.   It is fun to stop, find a bench or even someplace to lean, and watch the people. Some are in a rush, some in awe, and more Disney Christmas shirts than I can remember seeing before. Harper's Mill is a tall, iron red mill complete with a working water wheel. Behind are dense, green trees. Below is the reflection the entire mill in calm water.

A short walk from the plaza is perhaps my favorite thing in the Magic Kingdom, as you will note from the huge photo. Harper’s Mill is on Tom Sawyer’s Island across from Frontierland. It’s magic, folks. You can cross miles and years in a few minutes. Harper’s Mill is one of the timeless and classic originals from the park’s opening, and people continue to stop and just watch the water falling over the water wheel.

Close up of the Haunted Mansion. Red brick with chimneys on either end and a round turret with a bat weathervane on top. The right side of the mansion includes a glass solarium.

The Haunted Mansion is where the voice of the late Thurl Ravenscroft invites you to “Step into the dead… center of the room” and later intones that there are 99 ghosts living here, “Would you like to join them?”

A huge, fully blooming bougainvillea is in the foreground with the Crystal Palace behind. Some will see the bougainvillea primarily, some the Crystal Palace.

Press on leisurely, cross the bridges, and find yourself at the beautiful Crystal Palace. Dining there is an incredible experience. Stunningly beautiful inside and out. It currently operates as character meals, and a dear friend recently told me it was a wonderful experience for her family.

For us it was time to call it a day. We like to visit a park and explore part of it leisurely. Living closely gives us that luxury. We took our time on Main Street, bought a couple of T-shirts, of course, and savored the day. In the above photos I am taking a photo of a window display with the tiny camera I’d brought for fun and the result, a close up of Miss Daisy Duck.

In the previous blog I expressed my frustration that the photos I wanted were not recognized. That spontaneously resolved within about a day. Don’t ask me why or what happened. Anyway, I’ve tried to express how we felt that day last week. Disney is where families and couples, young and old, like to come, and the Magic Kingdom remains special. Thank you for joining us on this day, albeit late. Sandy and I wish you joy this season and beyond. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas from Florida.

Pictures:   Main photo is a close up of Cinderella’s Castle. Soaring palace of gray stones and bright blue tiled turrets. There is a golden spire on top. On the front is a clock. Second is a frontal view of an old car. It has a red hood, gold headlights, and a black cloth top. Cinderella’s Castle in in the background. There are 2 dancers on the left. Third is the Plaza Restaurant. It is a 2 story, white columned structure with a brilliant gold ceiling on the second floor. Fourth is Harper’s Mill is a tall, iron red mill complete with a working water wheel. Behind are dense, green trees. Below is the reflection the entire mill in calm water. Fifth is a close up of the Haunted Mansion. Red brick with chimneys on either end and a round turret with a bat weathervane on top. The right side of the mansion includes a glass solarium. Sixth is a huge, fully blooming bougainvillea is in the foreground with the Crystal Palace behind. Some will see the bougainvillea primarily, some the Crystal Palace.

 

Directing our own show – take 2

This is a revised version of a post from earlier in the week. It did not seem to generate much enthusiasm, and I took it down. Several people have encouraged me to re-post it. Perhaps this time I will express myself better. Thanks to all!

Out and about

George is in his wheelchair, at home, with shopping bags from Skechers, Nautica and a brilliant green bag. He has blond hair, wire rimmed glasses with an orangish tine, a blue T-shirt with white stripes, and he has removed his shoes.
As I share some thoughts with you on a warm, Sunday afternoon, I am sitting on my lanai. In Florida that is a part of the house under roof but open and screened. It is quiet and peaceful. But we don’t live only at home. We go out, and we interact with other people.

Those of us with a visible disability, or our family and friends, know that people look at us. I’ve become used to looks and stares, but it took time. They are going to look. People will naturally look at anyone or anything unusual. What happens, though, when it comes time for us to interact with them?

Our audience is watching

Those of us who use wheelchairs, and I’ve learned white canes also, seem to come under some kind of scrutiny. I’ve read that people in service and retail are often, sadly, apprehensive. They don’t know what to expect or what to do. Hence, the Just Say Hi campaign.

As we approach someone, we become the director of our own personal play. Do we look friendly? Do we look clean? Do we look alert? It is to our benefit to put people at ease.

Some tips I’ve learned

  • Adaptive equipment needs to be kept clean. It is an extension of ourselves.
  • Bling is good. My wheelchair is natural titanium, a silver gray. When it’s clean, it looks spiffy. I added bright blue tires and translucent blue casters. A gentleman in Saint Lucia recently told me that the sun through my casters made them positively glow.
  • Dress for the occasion, and wear what works for us. In the first picture I’d been shopping. In every store we went in I was welcomed and treated nicely. Obviously, from the load of goodies. Clothes need to fit and colors coordinate.
  • Smile and say Hi. Just Say Hi goes both ways, though if we can’t see the person well, we might not want to intrude.

Two guys in wheelchairs

George is sitting on the balcony of a cruise ship taking a photo with a small camera. He has rimless glasses with a gray tint. He is wearing a bright green polo shirt.On a recent cruise, as people were starting to board the ship, I heard a greeter say on her radio, “There are two guys in wheelchairs down here. The guy going by me now looks like he can handle things nicely.” Sandy and I smiled.

Thank you for stopping by. I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on this and if I’ve been of any encouragement to you.

Picture descriptions: In the top photo George is in his chair, loaded with shopping bags. He has medium length blond hair, almost round wire glasses with reddish-orange lenses, a blue shirt with narrow, white stripes, white short pants, and has removed his shoes. In the second picture George is taking a photo from his ship cabin’s balcony with a small camera after boarding. He is sitting up straight and is wearing small, rimless glasses with a gray tint and a bright green polo shirt.

25 years later

George is stretched out on the sofa. He has blond hair and glasses with an orangish tint. He is wearing a black, Mickey and friends sweater with white snowflakes, black pants, black headphones, and he is barefooted.

At first I blamed it on the new shoes, the fall in the mall and the second fall later in the day. It didn’t seem right, though, as they were an exact replacement of the ones I loved. It was my introduction to MS. Later came the ice storm and a more serious fall. Finally after exhaustive tests with lots of E’s in their names and 24 vials of blood, we met with my neurologist.

There was no drama, no tension. He told us what we already knew. The MS is progressive, and there is too much spinal cord damage for you to walk again.

After a struggle, MS put an end to practicing optometry, though I never lost the love and try to stay current. I’ve been a disabled parent and a licensed swim official. I volunteered at the hospital where I edited the volunteers’ newsletter. Then one day I called the National MS Society for information and was soon a Peer Counselor.

So I’ve officially been rolling for 25 years. Somewhere along the way I learned Rock your disability! It was a life changer. If I have a message it would be that going through a progressive disease is, at times, agonizing. A few years ago my neurologist managed to sort out the MS from the injury. That explains things that are going on now, but it doesn’t change my resolve – or yours. I know my followers, and you are strong. And kind.

Thank you for your support, and this is probably the last you’ll hear of my Paraversary. Twenty-five is a big enough number, and I’ve long run out of fingers and toes. It’s time to quit counting and roll on to the next challenge.

Thank you for stopping by and for indulging me whilst I look on some emotional times. Thanks to Sandy and Cliff for their unwavering support and the sacrifices they have made to keep me mobile. I’m blessed more than what I could possibly deserve.

Photo: George is stretched out, on his side, on the sofa. He has blond hair and glasses with an orangish tint. He is wearing a black, Mickey and friends sweater, black pants, black headphones, and he is barefooted.

Cruising and books

Dark blue background with Vision of the Seas written in white.

Thank you all so much for your lively discussion about our stay in Barcelona. I am grateful for your Comments and Likes. Barcelona done, we took a cab to the port and boarded the Vision of the Seas for a 13 night cruise home. It was a form of R and R, which we termed Relax and Read. We had a balcony that we put to use with ebooks and audiobooks.

Cartagena and Coca-Cola

Large sailboats in the yacht harbor line the foreground. The ship is behind with a mountain in the far distance.On the first full day of the cruise we ported in Cartagena, which was quite different from Barcelona. They have created an incredibly nice, accessible pedestrian mall. The dock leads to a sidewalk with benches and some trees beside the yacht harbor. At the end is a crosswalk complete with smooth curb cuts, tactile warnings, and pedestrian Walk/Wait signals that chirped loudly during the Walk phase. The street itself is smooth and only two narrow lanes wide.

Across the street we were in the pedestrian mall. Long, wide, and paved with tiles. Yes, the entire thing is paved with ceramic tiles. We were hot and for no particular reason didn’t stop at a nice looking sidewalk cafe. A block later we found an American-themed, sidewalk eatery called the Cotton Grill. A hometown version of Johnny Rocket’s. Everything from appetizers to burgers to “unlimited Coca-Cola.” The proprietor told us they get locals for lunch and tourists from the ships. She stays busy all day. Local stores line both sides of the walkways with few of the American chains we found in Barcelona.

“The One-Armed Lady”

Day two put us in Malaga on Spain’s south coast. An intrepid walker might enjoy the trek into town, but a taxi seemed prudent. There was no real need to explain our destination. Everyone starts at the Cathedral of Malaga. The Renaissance cathedral was started in the early 1500’s, and construction was stopped in the late 1700’s. The designClose up of the Renaissance style cathedral. People are standing outside a huge door. The stone facade has sandstone columns beside the door and square stones above. The top is lined with stained glass windows. called for a large rectangular church with twin spires. For reasons which were lost long ago, the second spire was started but never completed. While the left rises majestically into the sky, the right has only the pillars on which the structure was to be built. It is affectionally termed “The One-Armed Lady.”

Barcelona was massaging, Cartagena smooth, and Malaga was downright rough. The ancient, square cobbles showed no mercy on my ride in the wheelchair. Relatively flat, we went slowly and loved the city. We needed to replenish our travel First Aid kit. Sandy found a local holistic pharmacy,  and we tried to explain that we needed Coban. She put us on a bit and then produced Coban by 3M. We truly enjoyed the time in her store. It is so much fun to travel and meet people. Around the world, sharing smiles and kindness is wonderful.

How many books?

The rest of the cruise involved relaxing on our balcony and reading. We were armed for the task with two dozen new ebooks and audiobooks plus what we already had on our Kindles. I lost count, but we read most. I love sea days, and a transatlantic cruise has lots of them.

Sandy and I travel light. We took one medium size suitcase, a carry-on size bag (we checked it, too), and a small backpack each. Mix and match, wash and wear, a small bag to the ship’s laundry. No tux for me, thank you. I had one, by the way, and gave it to charity. Meals were informal with care not to overindulge.

Azores and Nassau were no go’s

I don’t want to bash anybody, but I feel obligated to mention accessibility at two ports. The Azores are hilly. I was told not to expect wheelchair accessibility in Portugal. Steps and a steep hill greeted us, and we decided to stay on the ship. The view from our balcony was lovely, it rained, and we were glad we stayed onboard. Nassau was impossible with crumbling concrete, curb cuts that led to potholes, and a blocked sidewalk with no way to get my chair around. I have always had a soft spot for Nassau, and I hope they can get things repaired.

We arrived home fresh and relaxed. I had taken almost a month off from everything, it seems. It was time well spent, and I hope it can be done again. And I know you are wondering about this. Sandy and I both lost a bit of weight on the ship.

Thank you for stopping by and letting me share an amazing time that was fun and will help me immensely down the road. Comments are great, so let me know what you think or if you have questions.

Pictures: Main picture is a dark blue banner with Vision of the Seas written in white. Second picture is a yacht harbor with large sailboats in the foreground, our ship behind, and a mountain in the distance. Third picture is part of the cathedral. There is a large, wooden door with sandstone columns beside it, square stones above, and a row of stained glass windows near the top.

 

Directing your show: Where fashion and disability meet

Originally published on Bold Blind Beauty.  I attempted to share the blog by the same title and failed miserably. It was after 9 PM, and I should have known better. The layout here will vary slightly from the original, but the content is the same. Reproduced with permission. I apologize for any notifications you might have received with links that didn’t work.

George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.
“How we are perceived is determined by how we present ourselves. We direct our own show.”

Disability, Style, Fashion & Confidence

The elephants in my room are paraplegia and the ever-present wheelchair. The disability in my life is Multiple Sclerosis. The important things in my life are my family and friends.George is sitting on a wooden bench at Flagler Beach. He is smiling for the camera wearing a yellow tee, dark sunglasses, and minimal jewelry. In the background, waves are washing up against the beach and a pier is jutting out into the ocean.

When I first had to use a wheelchair, a nurse told me that she was confident I’d quickly learn how to make it enhance my life. As a Peer Counselor/Peer Support Volunteer, I have talked about embracing whatever piece of technology works for us. “If it makes your life better, don’t be afraid to use it.”

How we are perceived is determined by how we present ourselves. We direct our own show. What are we going to show to the public? Of course, they are going to look at our white canes, our wheelchairs, our crutches, but then they are going to look at us.

This is where disability meets fashion. Where disability meets style. Fashion makes the first impression; style makes the lasting one. It is style that determines how we perceive ourselves, and it determines how we are received in public. They are vital to the person who has a disability.

Your life, your production

I am interested in both men’s and women’s fashion. And style. Lots of designers are men. My personal style is simple, basic design with classic colors. If we pick a style that fits our personality and then stick to it, things get easier to manage. What works with your skin and hair color? What works with your daily activities? I am learning to stick with combinations of blue, green, and white. They fit my personality and with my light skin, blue eyes, and blond hair.

George is wearing a short-sleeved black dress shirt and black pants. He is sitting on the arm of a sofa and his gold necklace and bracelet are accents.
My advice is to think about our interests, think about ourselves, and stick with it. I’m getting better at it. I gave away half of the things in my closet and still have twice what I need.

And if you are wondering where I fit into the Bold Blind Beauty Community, I am a “retired” eye doc due to MS. Vision is my training and experience, but I am also a patient. Vision and MS are closely related. I am extremely light sensitive and have a tint for every need. I select a tint based on what I am doing and not by what I am wearing. While my distance vision is good, I have difficulty reading. For that, I have specific reading glasses, enlarge the print on my Kindle, and change its illumination.

Fashion, style, confidence. You can direct your show about how you feel and how others feel about you. And remember that the best fashion accessory is a genuine smile.

Thank you for stopping by. Thanks again to Stephanae over at Bold Blind Beauty for her kindness and for the topic. It has been an honor and a pleasure.

Picture descriptions:   Featured image; George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.   Second image; George is sitting on a wooden bench with his left leg propped atop his wheelchair which is next to the bench. He is wearing a green tee paired with khaki shorts and flip-flops. A camera is around his neck and he’s sporting sunglasses. In the background are lush green tropical plants.   Third image; George is wearing a short-sleeved black dress shirt and black pants. He is sitting on the arm of a sofa and his gold necklace and bracelet are accents.

Sitting cleanly

Selfie of George sitting in his wheelchair. Blond hair, tinted glasses, teal shirt, and tan pants. The chair is partly visible with a titanium frame and blue tires.Please forgive the selfie. I hope that what is most noticeable when I go out might happen to be me. I do know that the ever-present wheelchair is quite noticeable, though. It’s rather hard to miss, actually. People look, sometimes stare. I don’t really care anymore. If we make eye contact I’ll smile or say “Hi.” I’ve met, and even helped, some nice people that way.

My guess is the one thing they don’t notice is the cushion. The cushion is responsible for protecting the skin upon which my body sits for hours.

Any wheelie should be doing weight shifts, and I do them faithfully. After the shift, though, it’s back onto the cushion. Sooner or later that thing is going to get dirty.

What happens now? Into the washer it goes! Yes, in the washer! And then it goes in the dryer! The cushion goes back in its cover, and in 2 hours I’m sitting cleanly again. Cushion is being slipped into a black cover. The cushion is a honeycomb material with blue and yellow stripes.

Ultra light weight wheelchair. Titanium frame, blue tires and front casters, and black seating.

 

 

So there you have it, my friends. The not so thrilling part of life on wheels. The part you don’t see when I’m popping a wheelie or showing off my spins and downhill speeds.

Laundry, it never ends!

(At this point I need to add a disclaimer: A wheelchair cushion should be prescribed for each individual by someone certified to do this. What works for one might not work for someone else. Thanks.)

Thank you for stopping by. I know it was an off the wall topic, but I had the odd notion that it might interest someone once they thought about it. If you have questions please let me know. I always appreciate comments, as well. Yes, those are blue tires and wheels. Just because I wanted some bling.

Picture descriptions: At the top is a large selfie of George. He is in his wheelchair. Blond hair, tinted glasses, blue shirt, and khaki pants. The chair is titanium with blue wheels. Second is the blue and yellow striped cushion with a black cover. Third picture is the wheelchair with the cushion back in it. 

A safe port if you need it

Close up of Leprechaun on the sidewalk. He is wearing a blue hat with black band and large buckle, has huge, green eyes, a big smile, red beard, and green suit.

We all like to travel. Be if halfway around the world or to the next town, there is a bit of wanderlust in all of us. Most of us, anyway. Explore places we’ve not been, encounter new things, make friends. It’s all so grand.

And it can also be tiring. A few years ago Sandy and I took a cruise from Harwich to Boston. One of the stops was Cork, where our accessible tour drove us around a bit, twice past what they called the “insane asylum,” and dropped us at a woolen mill store. It was nice but not for 3 hours. It was a tiring day.

The next day we were in Dublin. Determined not to let this day slip away, we explored beautiful Trinity College and then boarded a hop on, hop off tour. Things went well until we finished the Guinness tour and had to push up a long hill of bricks and cobbles. Once at the top we waited for the tour trolley. And we waited. Finally a full trolly came along and said the one for us had broken down and they would be along in about 30 minutes. So we stood, I sat, on the corner with some other people in the windy cold.

Having finished the tour, we wanted to explore Grafton Street with its shops and flower markets and then finish in St. Steven’s Green. Problem… By now we are tired and hungry and in need of a rest stop. Where do we go? It’s all so pretty but nowhere to stop. Flower market with cut flowers. They are on rustic, wooden crates and look artful and creative. Small sign reads Celtic Cart.

Ah ha! Behold, McDonald’s! A small burger, some fries, a Diet Coke, and a restroom. We have visited McDonald’s around the world. We’ve had McLobster, McPizza, and Taiwan’s best seller, the QPC. The point is, it is great to explore. But fatigue, especially for someone with a chronic disease like MS or fibromyalgia, can intrude on the day. It is okay to stop, rest, and take advantage of a familiar, friendly port. Not everything has to be new and exciting for the day to be a success.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments. Which brings up another topic. I perceive we are having some mechanical issues with Popping Wheelies and your ability to Like or Comment. I hope these appear for you in both your subscription email and on the blog. If they don’t, please click the title of the particular blog post, a new one will appear, and you can Like or Comment. We are working on the problem, and two kind people from WordPress are helping. I apologize if things aren’t as we want, but we are working on it. Thank you for your patience.

Pictures: Top photo is large and features a leprechaun wearing a blue hat with a black band and large, silver buckle. He has large, green eyes and a red beard, and he is smiling brightly. Second photo is a small flower stand with cut flowers nicely displayed on rustic, wooden crates. There is a small sign reading Celtic Cart.