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Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year's with the Stoffels

Joseph and I had a quiet Christmas at home. With my parents ill,
we weren't able to have a big celebration. Whatever I missed at
Christmas was made better by an awesome New Year's trip. what
could make life more exciting and crazy than a week with Scott
Stoffel and his family?

The Flight
Joseph left to visit his dad on Sunday. My flight was on Monday
evening. Of all the bad luck, I woke up too early and couldn't
fall back asleep. I was like the walking dead when we arrived at
the Akron-Canton airport... Well, make that the rolling dead
since I was in a wheelchair.

My biggest worry was getting through security with all my
Christmas presents, some of which were quite unusual. They
weren't very neat when they tore through my gift bags, but
everything made it onto the flight.

I don't know why they always put me in the back of the plane. The
aisle is too narrow. I can't walk straight without hitting my
head and tripping over things. It doesn't help that the staff
pull and push me all about. I didn't know what was going on when
I first sat down. Someone was tugging and prodding. I thought she
was trying to get to the seat belt that I was sitting on top of.
Later I was started to discover my Braille Sense was gone.
Apparently the woman took it off my body and put it in the shelf
above. Dang it! That meant I couldn't even read on the flight. I
sort of sat there in a dazed stupor, dozing and drooling at

The arrival
Philly International Airport is a huge and scary place. The
flight staff kept talking to me. I just repeated, "I'm meeting
Frank Stoffel at baggage claim." It became a mantra as we walked
and walked. And did I say we walked? I thought they might be
taking me for a wheelchair ride to Mexico.

I always feel so relieved when Frank finds me. First, he's a nice
guy. Second, his arrival means I'm safe from the insane airport

But was Frank safe? He gave me a hug at an awkward angle while I
was talking. I almost bit his face. Yeah, I like to read vampire
novels. But biting my boyfriend's father is taking things a bit

The Guiding Sandwich
As usual, we had dinner at Applebees. I devoured Bessie the cow
while Scott had a giant club sandwich. I was teasing him because
I smelled beer. He said he had ginger ale. No way this sniffer
was mistaken. It was Frank who had the beer.

I never know how Frank manages to get the two of us in and out of
the restaurant. As we left, he was guiding me while carrying a
box with the rest of Scott's food. My hand ended up holding the
box as well. I've never been guided by a sandwich before.

At the House
I was greeted by Scott's mother when we arrived at the house. She
is the sweetest woman. I also saw Scott's sister and her friend.
It felt good to be around the gang again.

I was yawning and could barely keep my eyes open. Scott wanted me
to go to bed. I sounded like a five year old, "No, no! I want
presents!" Like a five year old, I didn't get my way and was put
to bed.

The contest
You might say that Scott and I are a little odd. I'm okay with
that. You don't need to understand it. Just go with the flow and
know it works for us.

We have this thing about smart ass gifts... We like to give them
to each other. It's almost become like a contest. Scott was
bragging that he had the best gift. I told him there was no way
he could beat what I got him. Who would win? Isn't the suspense
killing you?

Scott gave me:
A silver, tactile cat necklace

A fat cat coin bank that is really cute

A grey sweatshirt with a pink heart and matching pants

A big tin of some of my favorite candy

And.... drum roll please.............. A green t-shirt with a
girl on her knees and her arms raise in triumph. The caption
says, "I pooped today." This was a quip about my extraordinary
problems with chronic constipation. Oh, how funny! But would it
be enough to win the smart ass award?

I gave Scott:

A $25 Amazon gift card

A bag of chocolate coal rocks

A Superman bank

A Superman t-shirt

And.... drum roll please.............. A pair of Superman boxers
with a cape on the back. The S is strategically placed... you
figure it out. The Superman theme was in response to a speech
Scott recently made in which he told several Superman jokes.

So who is the winner?

Me, of course. The Caped Coolie conceded defeat, and I was
crowned the Queen of Smart Ass.

Scott did not get off the hook easily. Naturally, the story was
told on Facebook. All our mutual friends razzed him about his
super buns. I think at least a couple people wet their pants from
laughing so hard. Pictures were called for, but Scott declined
the invitation. As for me, I would have loved to model my
t-shirt, but I couldn't wear it since I didn't poop the while
time I was there.

We did this, we did that. You don't need to hear all the gory
details. We also played several Tactile Carnival games.

Skee Ball - My favorite game ever. For whatever reason, we didn't
play as much as usual. It showed, too. My best was 11 points.
Scott got 9 points. At least I still beat him.

Pinball - Scott finally succeeded in creating a tactile pinball
machine. It works along the same lines as skee ball, with
different slots to show you your score. The idea is to launch the
ball and have it hit pucks into the slots. There's a bumper you
can move around to change the course of the ball. It's pretty
cool, but I like skee ball better.

King Kong Goes Bananas - Scott loves his monsters. He's already
got a Godzilla game. So, of course, he had to create a game for
King Kong. I think Scott is the one who's going bananas. But it
is a really cool game.

Scott bought a huge and steady replica of the Empire State
Building and a neat King Kong figure with moving head and limbs.
King Kong can actually hold onto the building. The object is to
get him to climb to the top. The game uses big, foam dice and
bananas to "hold" your spot so you don't have to start over if
the big ape falls.

If that's not wild enough, this game is based on the casino
classic "Craps." I've never played craps before but picked up on
the basics pretty fast. You've got a casino game, big dice, King
Kong and many bananas. It's a sure recipe for fun.

Card Shark 2D - This is like the old TV game show. There are 20
spaces on the tactile board. You need to fill them all. The trick
is that you can only move upward with a larger card. It's easy to
get in trouble. You have two jokers that can help, since they can
be any card. Scott said he's never done better than 16. I managed
to fill the board on my first try. Amy I bragging? Defiantly!

I truly enjoyed this game. It's a bit like solitaire but easier
and faster. In fact, I was so impressed by the game that Scott is
going to make me my own version.

Monster Manor - Once again, this is the game with all the
monsters that Scott created for me. He wanted me to try it out
because he made some changes and added a black cat. People liked
it at the most recent carnival. When I played two games, I got
bashed and mashed by the vampire, witch, mummy and wolfman. I
never did get to see the cat. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes
you aren't.

Jungle Jaunty - This one is loosely based on the old Atari game
called Pitfall. The props are awesome. There's tons of tactile
objects and a big spinner. It has the makings of a great game,
but Scott needs to work out the rules. He's already made some

Jack and Jill
Scott's cats are so funny. Jill loves to have her face scratched,
but she never stands still. I try to pet her, but she moves and I
can't find her. Jill loves to rub her face against my braces. I
can't even feel it.

Jack has Scott wrapped around his stiff, long tail. When he wants
something, he moves back and forth around Scott and whaps him
with his mighty tail. It drives Scott nuts, and he will soon cave
in. Scott calls this "tail torture."

Jack has a problem when it comes to me. He tries so hard, but I
can't feel his tail. Poor boy doesn't know why the torment
doesn't work.

I was awake for maybe ten seconds when Scott asked me what I
wanted for breakfast. My hands weren't working right and I
signed, "eggs with marriage." I thought, "Did I just say
marriage?" Judging by Scott's reaction, I did. Cheese! I wanted
cheese! Like Scott's super butt, my signing blooper hit Facebook.
I have a feeling i'll never hear the end of this one.

New Year's Eve
As we waited for the "boring apple" to drop (as Scott puts it),
we played Uno with 7 people. It's amazing that we can do this
with a child and three DeafBlind people, each with a different
method of communication. But we do managed, and it's a blast.

We played three rounds while keeping score. In the first game, I
had a bunch of great cards and made my sweetie suffer. I was
quickly down to uno. Scott tried to hit me with a reverse, but it
was the color I needed. I win!

The second game was harder and longer. Scott played some bad
cards on his dad. The child really kicked his mother's butt. It
seemed like the son's were ganging up on their parents. The young
boy won.

For the third game, I started out with no good cards. We reversed
several times. Scott and the person on the other side made me
draw some cards... and I got the goodies. Wham! Bam! Uno and I
win! That made me the grand champion of New Year's Uno.

Scott's Stunt
One day I was cold and tired. Scott pushed the recliner all the
way back and wrapped me in a blanket. I didn't mean to fall
asleep but ended up taking a long nap.

The problem for Scott was, in that position, the recliner touched
the pinball machine and blocked his access to the bathroom. What
can a stubborn man do when he can't reach the pot? Maybe he
should have put on his super boxers and flown his butt over the
chair. Or he could have gone upstairs to use a different

No, that would make too much sense for Scott's type of logic. He
got down on his belly and pulled himself with his elbows all the
way under the chair. When he finished his bushiness, he repeated
the stunt. He's a genius when it comes to creating games. Not so
much in terms of common sense.

Sad News

On our last day, I was worried about an ice storm in Cleveland
that might cause delays. That turned out to be no problem. When I
checked my email, there was a message from my father. He was
sick, and my mother was worse. She had to go to the hospital and
is still there as I write this. It started with the flu, turned
into bronchitis and now she has an intestinal bug. Because of
pre-existing lung issues, breathing became hard, and they put her
on oxygen.

Scott showed me a new side of his personality He was so loving
and caring and perfectly supportive. I may tease the crap out of
him, but I also know I am the luckiest girl in the world to have
such a SUPER boyfriend.

The Journey Home
At last, we had no trouble getting through security with two
DeafBlind people and a man with artificial knees. The reason? The
woman remembered us. I have to admit, we are an unforgettable

Getting on the plane and too my seat was a nightmare. Once again,
the staff had no clue how to guide me. And they kept on talking
and talking. I thought I'd experienced everything, but this one
took the cake. When I finally got to my seat, the flight
attendant handed me the flight procedures brochure. I said, "No
thanks," but he pushed it into my hands. I then told him I'm
blind and can't read print. That was the last I saw of them until
it was time to get off the plane. Weird, weird and weirder.

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