It has been a few years since I have corresponded with all of you through my newsletter from the Michael Hingson Group. There is a lot of truth to Alexander Graham Bell’s adage that “when a door closes a window opens”. Even when a door doesn’t close more than one window can open. The cross ventilation can stir up all sorts of challenges which one must address in one way or another. Let me take a moment to catch you up.
2014 my wife, Karen, became critically ill. We posted on Facebook about this and in one of my last newsletters we also discussed it. Karen recovered. At the urgings of our family we relocated from northern California to the Southland and rented an apartment in Victorville California. We never thought that we would be back so close to the areas where both of us grew up. However, sometimes things just happen, but usually for the right reasons.
When we moved to Victorville, we always knew that we wanted to build a house so that Karen would have the property accessibility we have both come to know and appreciate. Our apartment in Victorville was not very accessible. Folks at the complex did help by building a ramp that brought Karen’s wheelchair to the level of the entrance into our apartment. Other areas could not be made accessible including the laundry room and some of the other common areas.
However, when we moved to the apartment, we also put money down on a piece of property that we expected would be the location of our future home. We had all sorts of great plans to get a construction loan and build the house. Such was not to be.
Early in 2016 the real estate agent who helped us purchase our property found a builder who had a source for construction loans. So, in June 2016 house construction began. On December 17, 2016 we moved out of our apartment into a brand-new fully accessible home. Oh, there were still some challenges, but we prevailed. We still can’t believe that we now live in Victorville rather than on the wonderful lagoons of Bel Marin Keys in Novato California. Nevertheless, here we are with solar, low electric bills and a home with plenty of room for the two of us, two dogs and a rescue cat who joined us in 2015. For those of you who know Karen’s story you are aware that she is a quilter. When we agreed to find a home for the cat who was about to be taken to the near-by animal shelter I figured this cat was going nowhere when I learned that her name was Stitch. We still have our 14.5-year-old yellow Labrador, Fantasia who continues to follow Karen around and still picks up some things for her. We have a new guide dog in the family, but more about him later.
I have met several of you during my travels as a public and keynote speaker giving talks about the lessons of September 11, blindness and the human – animal bond. I still travel and would love your help in finding speaking opportunities to make new friends as well as possibly coming back to speak at your organizations. You can visit www.michaelhingson.com to see some program ideas.
My books, “Thunder Dog” and “Running With Roselle” continue to sell. If you’ve not read them, please go to any bookstore or you can order them online. I continue to receive numerous phone calls and emails from people who’ve read one or both books and who feel the desire to reach out and tell me how much they enjoy the books.
many of you knew Africa, my seventh guide dog. Africa worked until February 9 of this year at which time she retired. She wasn’t seeing quite as well as she used to, and she tended to get a little bit distracted while walking. She did work for almost 9 years and had a great time.
In October 2016, Africa made a late bid to run for president of the United States. While speaking at the Stark County library in Ohio we had occasion to have my speaking engagement, (which had been scheduled for months), be invaded by then candidate Donald Trump. While we had a theater that held 700 people, Mr. Trump, the week before my speech, engaged a much larger venue a block away. However, when all was said and done my talk was a standing room only affair. Africa was incensed by the attempt to upstage her and announced during my talk that she was going to run for president. We conducted a vigorous Facebook campaign. Although Africa lost, we are certain that her “nose to the ground kind of politics” changed the political landscape forever