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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Yesterday I shared a story about a grumpy old fart.

Today I'm going to share a story with you about a woman who should inspire you to see beyond trivial problems.

Here is the story...

Our campground and lodging business has given us the opportunity to meet many different kinds of people from many different places.

In the course of conversations with some of these guests, we have learned a lot.  For example, several years ago, one of our guests actually had lived the tribal life in Africa.  I can’t remember just where or even what the name of the tribe was.  What stuck in MY mind from talking with him was what installs fear in the heart of every mother and father in that tribe; a child being bitten by a black mamba snake.

Other people we have met are from places like New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany and even a family that was moving from Greenland to Alaska.  We have talked with people from Ireland who purchased an RV when they arrived in the U.S. in order to tour and who planned on selling it when they had to head back to Ireland.  Others from “over there” will rent an RV.

Another conversation that sticks in my mind was one that I TRIED to have with a family from France.  I don’t speak French AT ALL and her English was limited and of course there was the heavy accent.  When faced with this challenge, for some reason I think if I talk louder and move my lips more that the foreign person will be able to understand English…it doesn’t work that way, but I’m sure they wonder why I’m yelling at them and opening my mouth so far to say words.

While checking in this family (who had rented an RV upon arrival to the U.S.), she asked in that heavy accent “Where is zee nearest restaurant?”  I yelled at her “Four miles south of us.”  She looked shocked and said “It eez zat far?”  I’m thinking that’s not very far for a restaurant.  She asked if there was nothing closer and I replied that IS the closest restaurant.  “No, no” she said “zee nearest restaurant?”  I finally figured out she was NOT saying restaurant, but restroom!  No wonder she looked shocked!

So, the other day, when a woman called to make a reservation for a cabin for Labor Day for NEXT year, I was going thru my normal reservation process; “name, address, date of arrival, etc.  How many guests will be in the cabin, no pets, right?”

She politely replied  “There will be a dog, but he is a working dog.  I am blind and it is a law that people with seeing eye dogs are allowed to have them in lodging”.  I was aware of this law, but we’d never had it come up before and I was caught a little off guard.

After the reservation was made, I told her that I would be in contact in the spring to get her deposit but in the meantime I would send her an email reiterating what she had reserved and for when.

Then I got to thinking….I know the dog is not answering emails, nor placing phone calls, let alone looking at a calendar and confirming dates.

Then I thought, “This lady has a story in her life and I wonder what it is.”

The following is our email conversations (I am not including her name and I will send this to her for approval before posting it);

Thank you Kathy for this confirmation.  I’m always a little nervous that someone will try to renege because of the dog. The laws protecting use of a guide dog in public places is key to a blind person’s independence and equal treatment.  I can assure you that Jake, my Golden Lab, is an extremely well behaved and trained guide dog who has been servicing me for 5 years now, 6 by the time we come stay with you.  He has traveled all over the place with me, to Europe, Out West, on boats, planes, and ships, and is a hit where ever he goes. (Smile!)
I’m attaching a picture of Jake and I at the top of a mountain we climbed last summer.  He was not officially working for me on this climb as it was too narrow and treacherous for any guide dog to navigate, so he came along as a dog and I used a human guide for the climb only.  Just thought you might be interested.

Again, we look forward to our stay with you next fall.  Take care and have a good winter.

Thank you for the photo.  You two have led an exciting life together…a story that should be shared with others to encourage them.

With that in mind, I have a personal question to ask you and I will understand if you prefer not.  I have a blog and I enjoy sharing stories such as yours (with or without names) and wondered if you would be willing to allow me to share a bit of your story?  Whatever you would be comfortable with sharing…

Just the info and photo you have provided should be inspiration to others, should you allow me to use it, but if you had other info you would be comfortable in sharing, we could use it.  And of course, I would let you have a copy of it prior to using it.

Glad you decided to stay with us!

Smile! Well, I wrote a tell all book, so have no problem sharing my story with anyone.  The book is called, “Blind Man’s Bluff!” about how my first experience as a 5 year old child with a blind person, was meeting a man selling pencils on a corner.  That image is what drove me when I learned at age 7 that I too would go blind. Lost my vision over a 30 year period, now totally blind for 25 years. I was a teacher for special ed emotionally impaired children in Brimley and a school social worker for the EUPISD in Sault Schools for another 10 years. I’ve worked many other places as either a teacher or social worker and now run my own business, Accessibilities Educational Therapeutic  Services doing therapy massage, and educational seminars. I run a multi-family group for children with Autism once a month called the A-PAL group Autism Peer Activity League and am in the process of raising money to further that group and the many aids I need to run it.  I have a nonprofit organization called the Iris Seemore Animal health Fund www.isahealthfund.org which raises money for service animals and children with differences. It’s pretty small time but has much of my story on there as well. I wrote 2 children’s books, “Out of the Muck Grows a Lilly and a Frog” the book out of print but the music CD of the same story still available, and “Walking Along with My Dog” about Iris and her guide dog Seemore. (Smile!) Also write music and songs, mainly about being different and have a CD with several of my compositions on it.

So, have at it. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask. Knowledge is power and my passion is to promote acceptance of differences.

Thank you for your interest. Take care.

Thanks for the permission and the additional info.  I think one thing that would be interesting to others is HOW you are able to make the phone call, read your credit card info, read and send emails ( and know the spelling is correct, because I KNOW I can type blindfolded, but wouldn’t be sure every word was spelled correctly).

May I ask what caused you to go blind over a period of years?  If you prefer not to answer, I understand and respect your privacy.


Really, you can ask me anything. If I decide not to answer, I know you will understand, but I haven’t heard a question yet that I wasn’t willing to answer. I do lots of public speaking to large crowds, so have heard some duozies of questions, all of which I find interesting and often inspiring.

I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, or RP. A gradual loss of vision due to the pigment of the retina blackening. They now know it’s due to some genetic protein processing deficiency.  Most folks with RP don’t go totally blind, just us rare few. (Smile!) I should have played the lottery.  Though blindness was a terror to me as a youth, it is now my best friend. Having absolutely no vision is much easier to cope with as I am not relying on a sense that is unreliable.  Vision is the most powerful of our senses and we will hold on to every last tid bit of it. In my book, I share my crazy stories of falling off trains and in 5 foot construction ditches because I refused to use a white cane. I should not be alive, but sense I am, I make the most of it.

I use a computer that has a screen reader on it. In other words, it talks what I type and will read anything on the screen as long as it is in text. Scanned documents are viewed as pictures, so it will tell me nothing.  I would not be able to spell without spell check as I am a terrible speller. I have a phone that talks, and read and use Braille for taking notes and labeling whatever.

You should read my book. I think you would enjoy it. You can get it from the Bayliss Library or it is sold at Penny’s Kitchen or Book World in the Sault.  You can also get it from Amazon or I would be glad to mail you a copy. The cost is $19.95. I must warn you though, it is full of some racey material and lots of 4 letter words. I was a hippy chick in the late 60’s early 70’s and was not a good girl by any stretch of the imagination.

Okay, just keep the questions coming and yes, if you could share with me what you plan to put out on your blog, I’d appreciate that.

Take care. Off to work.

This lady WAS given lemons and look what she did with them!  What a special woman she is!!!

I hope you enjoyed her story.  We are looking forward to meeting her and her “working” dog.

The photo she is allowing me to share was taken during one of her mountain climbing adventures.  I think she and her guide dog both enjoyed a break.  She sent me a couple of other photos which are on my other computer so I can't put them in this post as I am trying to get it published early...long story there.


  1. Charlotte11:05 AM

    What an amazing women she is. She is a true inspiration. I'm sure you will enjoy her time at the campground. Her dog is also amazing.
    Thanks to her and you for sharing her story.

    1. We are fortunate in our job to meet so many different people.

  2. Cathy, I like the story! When you meet with her, please forward my greeting to her. If she won't mind, I am wondering if I can share her story with my Chinese friends...

    Please send my greetings to Dan too. I am close to the end of my PhD study. Hope I can go to Michigan to visit you soon.

    Miao from NCSU

    1. SO GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!! Are you still at Alligator River? Congrats on getting your PHD soon! I'm sure it has been a long road. I certainly will share your greetings with Dan. And if you do plan a trip to Michigan, let us know so we hopefully can get together. We'll be leaving around Oct 13th and won't be back till the spring.

  3. Thanks for the great post...I enjoyed greatly...
    Love from NC...and just two days after your post of the Mack Bridge,
    hubby gave me a dvd of Mack Bridge that was a documentary on the History Channel....It was awesome..

    1. I have seen that documentary on TLC and on Discovery. It is quite amazing what they did all those years ago! Thanks for still reading my blog!

  4. Wow! What an amazing human being-- All the great work she's done should be an inspiration to everyone to "just do it". I always take my hat off to people who work with special needs kids and adults. Coming to the party with her own set of issues must help others strive to do more.

    High five and thank you for sharing this. I'm going to look for her book.

    xoxo jj

  5. I was just thinking of you and wondering how you are doing. You haven't been on your blog much lately, so getting a bit concerned. Hope all is well out your way!
    Hugs to you!


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