More Hobbity Craftiness and Some Candid Conversations

We had a fire in the home while I was at work  in the last week of June that damaged part of our yard and the neighbors garage.  Through a series of very serious conversations (with firemen, doctors, insurance agents), some yelling, crying and much prayer, I came to the decision that if my job would not allow me to work from home (something I could and have done in the same position) that I would need to leave.  They agreed to give me family medical leave, as needed, (dealing with all the issues of Sam’s rapidly fading vision) but I would not be paid for it.  The complications at work, the stress and a promotion without a pay raise made it more difficult for me to deal with the stress at home.  If I had been given a large raise, I probably wouldn’t have come to the conclusion I did.  I quit my job on July 4th to stay home with my family, teach the children some serious ASL and learn Braille Grade 1 (hubby is learning Grade 2).

It felt like the right choice, but we had a lot of doubts of how we would make ends meet on nothing more than my husbands disability checks.  This was also something I prayed about and came to the conclusion that I needed to reopen my eBay store: Lonescrappers-Resale-Ranch and my etsty store: Swampfaye’s Etsy Store.  I made it clear to the kids (between teaching them ASL and ASL you need to use with deafblind people) that everyone would have to chip in doing something we could sell, or helping with the store.  My husband, of course, chipped in too and you’ve seen some of his creations:

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I think it’s great that he’s creating these beautiful objects and that we are all so very optimistic about being a ‘shop.’ Sam’s creations have been selling pretty well.  Well enough to pay for medication and doctors appointments, and right now, that is a big deal.

I still want to try and publish my novel (blurb/teaser) on ebook and get things together with the follow up, but the resale shop is taking priority.  I’m able to do more at home now, more repairs, more cooking, more baking, etc, which has been good, and I have my own office in the house so I still have a place to retreat.

We are still doing pretty well thanks to the support of the church, our friends, and our own efforts to support ourselves.  Compared to many around the world, and even in the deaf community we hang out in, we are still very rich.



The water bill in the house of a deafblind man

I am regularly waking up in the morning to the sound of running water.  How long the water has been on, I’m not sure.  We have a pool, so our water bill is always pretty high, but this week we have another deafblind man in the house staying as a guest.  I woke up this morning to find the water on in the guest bathroom.

Two deafblindmen in the same house, twice the fun with water! WOOT!

The Craftiness of Deaf Blind Hobbits!


Sam is truly skilled at making these prayer ropes, and I hope you all will repost these on Pinterest or Facebook and let him know how truly beautiful they are, not just because it’s made by a deafblind man, but because they really are wonderful creations.  He isn’t too sure about it, but I am pretty sure they are awesome.

Getting Braille Note To Work With Linux – Guest Post by my Hobbit

My vision has deteriorated to the point where it causes a considerable amount of eyestrain just to read movie subtitles for a couple of hours. Reading books has become a luxury that my eyes can no longer afford. But don’t worry, there is good news!

Two or three months ago my wife ordered a Braille Note BT for me. The Braille Note QT comes with a QWERTY keyboard, but that’s not the one I have. The Braille Note BT comes with the standard six-cell brailler keypad, plus a few function keys. I had been wanting a Braille Note mainly to read books and to keep track of important notes. I also had a vague idea that I might be able to use it with my PC as a refreshable braille display, but I was worried that it would be too complicated to hook it up to Linux. But it CAN be done!

Understand that everything about the Braille Note BT (version 5.1) is designed to work with Windows. The operating system is an older version of Windows CE, and all of the companion software on the disk (ActiveSync, JAWS for Windows, KeySync, etc) is also designed to run on Windows.

Worse, there was nothing in the manual about hooking up the Braille Note to Linux. I have gotten used to using Slax Linux, a small “pocket operating system” which I run as a LiveCD, LiveUSB, and on my Hard Drive. I like it because version 6.1.2 comes with KDE 3.5.

The nice thing about KDE is that there is a feature in the font control panel that allows the user to quickly adjust all the KDE fonts to a particular size. This allows me to globally set all the font sizes for all the windows, dialogs, system messages, and menus all at once. I had always been maddeningly frustrated at adjusting the fonts in Windows. One of the core fonts in Windows is called “small fonts” for Pete’s sake. They might as well just call it “screw_the_blind_people.ttf” And don’t even get me started on the other tiny, anorexic chicken scratch fonts that most Windows programs use!

But, alas, I’d venture to say that most accessibility gizmos and gadgets are designed to work with Windows, so I had some trepidation about getting my Braille Note to work. Would I have to install Windows? And at first it looked like I would have to. I had tried installing ActiveSync under WINE, and it worked well enough, but it wouldn’t recognize any of my COM ports.

So I started hunting online for a solution. The percentage of people who use Linux is fairly small, and the percentage of BLIND people who use Linux is almost nonexistent. But they DO exist! I finally found out that a program called “brltty” is specially designed to work as a terminal for refreshable braille display. And after a few hits and misses, I figured out that I needed to specify the device name of the serial port (brltty -b bn -d /dev/ttyS0). After that, I read through the manual until I found out how to put the Braille Note into terminal mode (you just press T with the 2, 3, 4, and 5 keys). After that, I was all set! I was not only able to read the output of textmode console commands, but I was also able to run the nano editor to read books right off of my hard drive. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for me: email, web browsing, irc chat, instant messaging, interactive fiction… all of these are available to me on a braille display now.

So my fears about using an older model of Braille Note with Linux were groundless, and now I have a way to read books and use my Linux PC in braille!