THE CONSUMER VISION

August 2017

Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746

Phone: 508-994-4972

Email: bobbranco93@gmail.com

Website: www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin

Formatter: David Dvorkin

TABLE OF CONTENTS

In this magazine' s contents, three asterisks *** will be used to separate each article' s title from its writer. This symbol will also be used between each article to make using your browser' s search feature easier. If you have a screen reader that doesn' t work with asterisks, please let me know not only that, but also what I can do to help. Though I can' t promise a fix, I promise to try my best.

Finally, three asterisks *** will be used between recipes in Karen Crowder' s column, as well as in Readers' Forum and Special Notices when those features contain more than one item. Items in those columns are preceded by the letters A, B, C, etc., depending on the number of items in the column.

Note: The absence of the usual Letter from the Editor is not an oversight. Terri Winaught simply did not send one this month.

1. HEALTH MATTERS: The Benefits of Peaches, Strawberries and Watermelons *** by Leonore Dvorkin.

2. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

3. TECH CORNER: Skimmers: The New Wild West / A Cautionary Warning *** by Stephen Théberge

4. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH *** by James R. Campbell

5. THE MOUNT EVEREST OF EQUALITY: Home Sweet Home: Charity Begins at Home *** by Brian J. Coppola

6. TOO MANY LAWSUITS *** by Bob Branco

7. SPECIAL NOTICES

8. THE HANDLER' S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta

9. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein

10. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

11. TOO CLOSE TO HOME *** by James R. Campbell

12. BROKEN STRING AT THE BOLSHOI BALLET *** by John Justice

13. THE ORDEAL OF SURVIVING ANOTHER APARTMENT FLOOD, PART 1 *** by Karen Crowder

14. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

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1. HEALTH MATTERS

The Benefits of Blueberries, Cherries, and Cantaloupe

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

C 2017

(Note: The original version of this article was published in August 2007 in a Denver newsletter. It has been slightly altered for this appearance.)

Who doesn' t like fruit, in all its sweet, juicy goodness? Some fruits, such as watermelon, peaches, and cantaloupe, are practically synonymous with summer. This article details some general benefits of fruit and gives specifics about blueberries, cherries, and cantaloupe.

Adequate hydration (fluid intake) is always important, but with summer's heat upon us, it becomes especially important to avoid dehydration, which can impair the function of vital organs, such as the heart. Dehydration can cause headaches, muscle cramps, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and other unpleasant symptoms.

We know we should drink plenty of fresh water at any time of year, but in hot weather, it's also important to replenish the electrolytes, such as potassium, that are lost in sweat. The good news is that both electrolytes and fluids are present in most fruits, along with hearty doses of vitamins and antioxidants. So you can eat your way to better health while you treat your taste buds and enjoy all those beautiful colors.

Blueberries are full of nutrition and flavor. They're at their best from May through October, but are available frozen throughout the year. Look for bags of Pacific Meadows Wild Organic Blueberries at Costco. I always keep a cup or so of those thawed in the refrigerator, stored in a plastic container, for heaping on cereal or spooning into yogurt.

Blueberries possess antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, which can help prevent glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease, and cancer. Anthocyanins, which give blueberries their blue-red pigment, help the entire vascular system and enhance the effects of Vitamin C. Blueberries have been shown to be more protective of the heart than either red or white wine. They can protect the brain from oxidative stress and may help reduce the effects of dementia. Blueberries are high in the soluble fiber pectin, which can help lower cholesterol. Extract of bilberry, a cousin of the blueberry, has been shown to improve night vision. Try bilberry preserves for a real taste treat.

Choose blueberries that are firm, with a uniform color and a whitish "bloom" (it protects the skin of the blueberries), and that move freely in the container if you shake it lightly. After removing any damaged berries to prevent the spread of mold, store unwashed blueberries in a container in the refrigerator. Do not wash them until just before eating, so as to avoid removing the protective bloom.

Have you ever noticed that blueberries in baked goods, such as muffins or scones, may look a bit greenish? This is a natural reaction of their pigments, and it does not make the baked goods unsafe to eat. However, blueberries do contain oxalates, which can concentrate in body fluids, where they can crystallize and cause health problems. Therefore, people with a history of kidney or gallbladder problems might wish to avoid blueberries. But for most people, blueberries are perfectly safe and highly beneficial.

Next up are cherries. Sweet or tart, they are lovely and delicious, as well as high in antioxidants, beta carotene, and fiber. Tart cherries are even higher in antioxidants than blueberries. All forms of cherries fresh, dried, and frozen, as well as cherry juice are beneficial. Cherries have been shown to lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar and insulin, and help slow the aging process. They are also fat-free, low in calories and sodium, and high in potassium, Vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins.

Tart cherries, especially the Montmorency variety, contain high levels of melatonin. You may have heard that melatonin can help slow the aging process, fight jetlag, and help regulate sleep. I can't say I've noticed those effects from cherries, but perhaps that's because I eat mainly the sweet variety. And black cherry yogurt sends my taste buds to heaven! My favorite organic brand is Wallaby.

Cantaloupe is the most popular melon in the United States, and Colorado produces some of the best. This lovely melon is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and niacin. Cantaloupes are best from June through August.

How do you find a ripe cantaloupe? The melon should sound hollow when you tap it and feel heavy for its size. There should be no bruises or soft spots. If the melon is unripe, the rind under the netting is greenish; if the melon is ripe, the rind has turned yellow or cream-colored. Also, you should be able to smell the fruit's sweetness.

If you buy an unripe melon, store it at room temperature for a few days. Before cutting into the rind, wash the melon. Store cut melon in the fridge in plastic wrap or a plastic container. Cut fruit, if chilled, retains almost all its nutrients for at least five to six days. That's good news for all us lovers of fruit salad. So select a variety of your favorite fruits, load up a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or put it in a plastic container with a lid, then enjoy the mixture for the next several days. //

About the author, her services, and a book:

Leonore Dvorkin lives in Denver, Colorado, where she tutors three languages, teaches exercise classes, and edits books. She is the author of four published books. Since 2009, she and her husband, David Dvorkin (the author of 27 published books), have edited and produced over 40 books by other authors. Most of their clients are blind or visually impaired. Several of the contributors to Consumer Vision, including Bob Branco, are among their clients. The book that they most recently produced is The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter' s Memoir, by Mary Hiland. All the books that the Dvorkins edit and produce are available in e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.

Information on DLD Books (the Dvorkins' book business): http://www.dldbooks.com

Leonore' s website: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com

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2. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF

by Dennis R. Sumlin

For the past few months, we have been looking at the top five articles on my coaching site, http://WWW.CoachDennisSumlin.COM . As a Self-Mastery Coach, I work with people on building confidence, a positive mindset, and spirit energy awareness. We are now up to the second most popular article on my site, and it is about friendship. Enjoy!

FRIENDSHIP ESSAY

In this essay, the value of friendship is on the table. Friendship is one of my top six values, and it' s one that binds our community together. In this day and age, true friendship can be hard to come by, so for those in our lives who have shown themselves to be true, stop and give thanks.

As you read this essay, think about the friends you have, think about the feeling of having a close friend, and think about the friend you are.

The Magic of Friendship

Friendship is defined as a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. This connection is the essence of human relationships. A strong friendship benefits all who are involved. It is mutually supportive, creates feelings of happiness, and contributes to the overall health of a person. We are social creatures, and we prosper when we form an enduring bond with another.

A good, healthy friendship serves to make each person a better version of themselves each day. A good friend is a companion, a mirror, and a motivator, and rides with us through bumpy terrain and storm-swept tragedies as well as the warm, sunny days of happiness and success.

The Art of Friendship

The art of friendship is being a friend. We must embody the very qualities that we value in another' s friendship. We must also be friends with ourselves. We must show ourselves the same level of openness, understanding, and support that we show others. When we show ourselves love and friendship, others will know how to treat us, as well.

Without friendship, we can drift aimlessly through life, feel misunderstood, develop anti-social behavior, and other zingers. We can lose touch with humanity, and become swallowed by bitterness and resentment.

At Our Best

As humans, we are at our best when we maintain strong relationships with others, mirror that connection to ourselves, and foster an environment of progress and positivity.

Are you open to the power of friendship? Are you open to deeper connections with others? How has it been? Do you feel that your life needs a new direction? Do the people that you are around drag you down rather than lift you up? Then we can work together to change that!

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3. TECH CORNER

Skimmers: The New Wild West / A Cautionary Warning

by Stephen Théberge

When my vision took a big dive three years ago, I was so happy to learn about the talking ATM machines when I was at vision rehabilitation. If I had known then what I know now, I might not have been so taken with them.

At the beginning of July, I discovered that my bank account had been emptied out. The phone banking system informed me of a very large ATM withdrawal. I didn' t make such a transaction, so naturally, I talked to a bank representative.

As time went on, I was told the transaction took place in Winthrop, Massachusetts, about 30 miles from where I live. I' ve never been there in my life. At any rate, the bank was now forced to investigate this issue. I had my card cancelled. I was informed I' d probably get my money back, but it might take up to ten days.

My first reaction was that somebody must have had my personal identification number in order to use an ATM. I had assumed that somebody working at the bank could have done this. I learned later that this could be possible, but it isn' t as easy to do so as I might have thought.

Needless to say, the bank is concerned for their bottom line. It would be easy enough for anyone to deny they made a transaction. That is why the bank needed me to sign an affidavit and get a police report to process the claim for my lost money.

The police officer who handled my case was very understanding. He reeducated me as to how the money was probably stolen. I might have heard this before, but didn' t pay attention. Human nature makes us think it can' t happen to us, or that it is rare.

The officer didn' t have any statistics but really opened my eyes. It seems the criminals can tamper with the ATM machines. He said they put a device, which he called a skimmer, into the ATM. The PIN can be obtained by putting a camera on the machine to see which keys you are pressing for your PIN. They can sometimes put a device under the keyboard to track the keys you are entering. He said that in theory, the new cards with the chips are safer, but they still have the magnetic strip, which is how the card information is obtained.

The police officer informed me that there is a large operation of gangs that go up and down the East Coast putting these devices in ATM machines. They then reverse the route and collect the information. They can then make cards and use them. It is also very rare that they get caught. They have to pretty much be caught in the act. This takes a lot of intelligence and diligence.

I was informed that point-of-sale transactions with debit cards are relatively safe. The newer machines only have the chip portion of the card inserted, so it is almost impossible for them to get the data that way. Also, most POS machines are in plain view of a cashier, so the likelihood of someone tampering is greatly reduced.

Of course, there are scammers on the internet who try to get our card information, but the officer assured me that the larger, more reputable vendors are relatively safe.

I asked the officer if the bank paid me back because of insurance. He told me that the banks consider this a minor loss in most cases, and usually pay customers back. I suspect that they can do so with the fees they charge customers. I suspect this is a kind of insurance against losses, even though it isn' t specifically set up that way.

Since I only use three ATMs regularly, I am sure I know where the theft took place. It is funny how our minds can play tricks on us. Today, I thought I remembered a customer at the ATM, but it seemed funny to me that they didn' t seem to be making a transaction. Were they putting the skimmer in the machine then?

It is really hard, and probably very expensive, to police ATMs 24 hours a day. Even a location like South Station, which gets a lot of traffic, would be difficult. It is more common for ATMs at places like small convenience stores to be compromised, but in my case, it probably was at South Station, as I used to use them almost exclusively. The police officer told me, when he was shown where a camera was put on an ATM, that he was amazed at the cleverness of it, as he didn' t notice it before it was pointed out, and he is supposed to be a trained observer.

I was told by my bank that at the point I called, there were hundreds of these incidents reported to them. They actually refunded my money before I even mailed the affidavit back to them. When I reported that my card was compromised, they seemed to know even then that it had happened. I suppose the crooks wanted to have a good Fourth of July. They sure put a damper on mine.

I can' t ever imagine myself using an ATM again. The other day, I almost gave in, but as I approached it, I started to get an uneasy feeling. I don' t need this distress again. These machines may seem convenient. Even the blind and visually impaired can use them easily, but at a high cost.

I don' t know how rampant this problem is, but as I' ve said, I' m not willing to take the risk any longer.

Check out my coming-of-age science fiction book, The MetSche Message:

http://www.dvorkin.com/stephentheberge/

Review of my book on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2022964220?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

Watch my YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQbs0c1vLDuYmb08okZSk8g/videos

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4. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH

by James R. Campbell

On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea in hopes of uniting the country under the Communist flag. Thus began the Korean War, a conflict that ended in stalemate in 1953. The Korean peninsula is divided at the 38th parallel. At present, 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea, in an effort to deter aggression from the North.

As recent news stories attest, the threat to South Korea and the world at large has become greater than at any time since the war ended. Today, North Korea is under the sole command of a paranoid megalomaniac who believes that the Korean people are a master race who will dominate the globe. Since 2006, that nation has detonated six nuclear weapons, and in 2017 alone, they have launched eleven missiles; the latest incarnation has the capability of reaching Alaska.

By way of reply, U.S., Japanese, and South Korean aircraft buzzed the DMZ in a show of force. The Trump regime has increased pressure on Red China in a bid to stop Kim Jong Un' s weapons programs. President Trump has made it clear that all options are still on the table.

There are no good options for dealing with Kim. A military response would be a straight path to all-out war. Millions of casualties would be the end result, given that Pyongyang has chemical and biological weapons at their disposal. Any of North Korea' s 10,000 artillery tubes and short-range rockets could reach Seoul, risking the lives of millions of civilians.

Covert operations are risky, given the security that Kim has around him, and the fact that he most likely never sleeps in one place. Cyber attacks are possible, and it may be that we have made use of this option. It can' t be forgotten that Pyongyang has tens of thousands of hackers. A glimpse of the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures doesn' t begin to give an adequate picture of what full-scale cyber warfare would look like.

Sanctions can be increased, but we need more countries to fill in the gaps. China has increased trade with the North Korean regime by 40% in the last two months. We can' t trust China or Russia. It must be remembered that Mao Zedong sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese volunteers to fight in defense of the North during the war.

The last option is the most frightening: acceptance of a nuclear-armed North Korea. Given Kim Jong Un' s proclivities, he would use a nuclear warhead against the United States in the event that he even suspected that we might be involved in an effort to remove him. This is a man who is a danger not only to the world, but even to his own family. He has never hesitated to kill members of his own family if they disagree with him. If he kills his own family over a bowl of rice, what would he do if he felt cornered by the international community?

The best outcome is far-fetched: a reunited country that functions as a viable republic, similar to our own. It would require regime change, a complete reversal of the policies, and the exchange of the totalitarian government they have now for a free state. Such an event would bring greater economic prosperity to the peninsula as well as the greater Pacific region. It sounds impossible, but it is worth praying for, in that herein lies the hope of averting a major catastrophic event of apocalyptic proportions. There is no other viable option.

As always, thanks for your time.

With loving kindness,

James R. Campbell

J.campbell@grandecom.net

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5. THE MOUNT EVEREST OF EQUALITY

Home Sweet Home: Charity Begins at Home

by Brian J. Coppola

In today' s society, thanks to advances in medical technology, you have elders living longer and becoming disabled. On the other hand, you also have young children and adults who are either disabled from birth or become disabled as life progresses, due to an illness, a violent crime, or an accident. In this piece, I am going to write about some alternative ways to provide for our disabled population, to cover the extraordinary expenses that come as fallout from being a disabled person, whether it be a child, an adult, or an elderly parent or grandparent.

Most people with disabilities receive some sort of fixed income benefits from our state and federal governments, including SSI and SSDI benefits and health insurance. They also receive some of the extraordinary services they need through state rehabilitation agencies, like the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind or the Massachusetts Commission on Rehabilitation, for example. But these state and federally funded programs do not take up the slack for some additional, extraordinary expenses that go along with having a major disability. For example, some people, such as those who are blind or legally blind or who have certain physical or mental disabilities, cannot obtain driver' s licenses, but a car is a necessity to get from point A to point B. In order to get around independently, those who have disabilities that prevent them from getting a driver' s license must rely on some other form of transportation, such as mass public transit, ParaTransit, taxicabs, or ride"sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

The major problem here is that not all public transit and ParaTransit systems are created equal. In areas that are not metropolitan areas, public transportation and ParaTransit stops early in the evening on weekdays and even earlier on weekends, and some towns and cities do not have any sort of public transportation at all.

With it being harder for adult children to live on their own, due to our economy and the fact that they have heavy student loans from their college educations hanging over their heads, they often end up moving back home with their parents. According to the United States Census Bureau, between the years 2005-2011, among male adults 25-34 years old, the percentage of adults living at home with their parents increased from 14% in 2005 to 19% in 2011, and among female adults, from 8% in 2005 to 10% in 2011.

Now that they have finished college, are looking for work, or have found a job, while they are staying at home with their parents, they should help around the house.

One of the ways they can do this is by helping out an elderly parent with transportation or a disabled adult with transportation for, let' s say, four hours per week. This duty should be part of their filial responsibilities while living at home with their parents, with one additional requirement. That is, this help should continue until either the adult child who can drive moves out of the family nest, or until the adult disabled child moves out of the family home into some form of public housing that has more public transportation or lives in their own rented home. Living with other family members is not included, unless the other family members the disabled adult is living with are from another state or are more than 30 miles away from the family nest. The same shall hold true for adults 18 years old or older who have graduated from high school and are either attending a non-residential college or a non-residential trade or vocational school and living at home with their parents during their education. Either way, neither their college nor work schedules should be used as an excuse to escape helping around the house, and this also includes the extraordinary duties that go along with having a disabled child or adult, or an elderly parent, or both.

In conclusion, it is the filial laws that some states have on the books that may need to be dusted off to address this issue, given budgetary constraints. This would mean making family members who have the means to do so perform this duty for example, using their own automobile or contributing enough money to help defray a certain allotment per month towards the extraordinary transportation expenses of a person who is elderly or disabled and who cannot get a driver' s license.

I will discuss more about this issue in part two of this article,  Home Sweet Home: Charity Begins at Home. Till next time, have your charades.

With warm regards,

Brian J. Coppola

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6. TOO MANY LAWSUITS

by Bob Branco

(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)

One of the reasons why we have become such a politically correct society is because there are too many people suing other people unnecessarily. This causes fear in the hearts of business owners, town officials, the medical profession, and many other aspects of life. We can' t turn around without wondering if we did something wrong or hurt someone.

Years ago, it was so easy for me to plan outings and other recreational activities. The paperwork was simple, and the cost was minimal. In the present, it is quite difficult to plan an activity because everyone is concerned about liability. Organizations who work hard to raise money have to spend most of it on insurance policies in order to protect cities and towns from being sued. What if someone falls? What if the hamburger makes you sick? What if a man accidentally bumps into a woman and touches her? There is so much fear out there that I wonder how long we will have successful recreational activities in this country.

In some schools, children are not allowed to play tag any more during recess because administrators are afraid that the kids are going to get hurt. If you are a child, you can' t show affection toward another child for fear that you will be charged with sexual harassment. No one is allowed to be themselves anymore.

I think I have come up with a solution to the overabundance of lawsuits. If lawyers would stop accepting cases that appear to be ridiculous on the surface, then perhaps we can relax a lot easier. God knows how busy lawyers are to begin with because of all the other legal problems we face, meaning that they wouldn' t have time for nonsense. If a woman spills a cup of McDonald' s hot coffee on her lap which causes her legs to burn, it' s not McDonalds' fault if she decides to put the cup between her legs in the first place. Lawyers should be intelligent enough to realize how ridiculous such a lawsuit is; but all it takes is one lawyer to file it, and this country will continue to be afraid of almost everything.

If this trend continues, law enforcement, the military and other protective services will become so watered down that the United States will be regarded as vulnerable. Is this what we want? I say no.

About the Author

Bob Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is a self-published author of four books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, and has written columns for local and international organizations. Bob' s website is

www.dvorkin.com/robertbranco/.

Bob also blogs at www.brancoevents.com/category/recent-news.

A note from Leonore Dvorkin:

The McDonald' s hot coffee suit was far from frivolous. The burned woman, Mrs. Stella Liebeck, was the passenger in an unmoving vehicle, and she had merely taken the lid off the coffee to add cream and sugar to it when it spilled in her lap. She received third-degree burns and required extensive skin grafts on her thighs and elsewhere. McDonald' s had received over 700 complaints about their coffee being excessively hot, far above the industry standard temperature, hot enough to cause serious burns in seconds, and had paid settlements in some cases. Here is a link to the best article I have found on this appalling case. It is from Consumer Attorneys of California:  https://www.caoc.org/?pg=facts

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7. SPECIAL NOTICES

In Perspective: A New Weekly Podcast

There are several ways for you to listen to our new half-hour podcast program, called In Perspective. Each week, Allen Hensel and I talk about a current subject that is on a lot of our minds. Currently, the show is aired on C Joy Internet Radio every Tuesday morning from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and on the Massachusetts Radio Reading Service on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You can find C Joy Internet Radio by going to www.cjoyinternetradio.com and clicking on  Listen Live. If you have an Alexa device, you can ask it to play C Joy Internet Radio on Tune-In when our program is on the air.

You can also request the link to our podcast. If so, I will add you to our mailing list. Our podcasts are also archived on my website. Just go to www.brancoevents.com/category/podcasts

and pick any show you would like to hear. We have covered topics such as global warming, what God means to us, driverless cars, President Trump, cyber bullying, and many others. If you are a JAWS user, and if JAWS tries to talk over the podcast once you find it on my website, just hit insert-space, and then the letter S to shut off the speech until you are done listening to the podcast. When you're finished, hit the letter S once again in order to turn your speech software back on.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. It is you, the listener, who helps make In Perspective what it is.

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Announcing a new nonfiction book:

The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter' s Memoir

by Mary Hiland / C 2017

E-book: $3.99 / Paperback: $11.95 (209 pages)

Available from Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other online sellers.

Short synopsis:

As a blind only child, the author enjoyed the single-minded love and devotion of her parents. So when her mother, in the early stages of Alzheimer' s, was going blind and deaf and needed to move into assisted living, it was time for Ms. Hiland to assume the duties and role reversals required for her mother. She wrote her book with the hope of being helpful to others in this tough place in life.

Just one of the many glowing review quotes that accompany the book:  Most of us have faced, or will face, the problems of dealing with an aging parent, but Mary Hiland did it blind. Her book, The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living, captures the frustration, rewards, and incredible complications of the ordeal with feeling and humor. I was impressed that Mary handled it so well and thankful that she tells us about it so vividly!  Daniel Boyd, author of' Nada and Easy Death

For a longer synopsis, author' s bio and photo, cover photo, text preview, full review quotes, and buying links, please go to: http://www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland/

 

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Coming soon:

Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating
Edited by Anne Copeland and Barbara Williamson

This book is a collection of photos of beautiful art projects, plus the photos and personal stories of the 27 talented contributors. The common thread through the lives of these individuals is that regardless of the degree of physical challenge, each person is a practicing artist working in the textile medium. Many of these individuals have websites and sell their work through their own sites or the Internet sites such as ETSY.com, while others sell in galleries, at shows, or through teaching.  Some create their pieces to enter in exhibits, while others create to fill a personal need to communicate their beliefs. And all are articulate about the ways they deal with their challenges.

The book will be available in print and e-book from Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other online sellers.

A note from Leonore Dvorkin:

One of the contributors to Artful Alchemy is Lynda McKinney Lambert, author of Walking by Inner Vision: Stories and Poems (C 2017). You can find full details about this book by going to http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/  . The beautiful cover photo was taken by the author.

 

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8. THE HANDLER' S CORNER

Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta

Hello, readers. Bailey and I hope you are enjoying the warmth and sunshine. Sweet, old Verona is happy to stay inside in the cool, having earned her time in the sun. I hope you enjoyed reading a few guide dog-related memoirs with Verona last time, but for now, I thought I' d share how much I love to work and share my life with my current guide dog, Bailey, whom I most affectionately call Bubba.

For this installation, I' d like to share how my family interacts with my guide dog. When first being matched with a new dog, it is important for the handler to bond with the new dog. This might be hard for the family to accept, especially if the family has had pet dogs in the past or if the newly retired dog is still part of the family. The family must allow the new team to forge a relationship of mutual trust. Doing too much to help can be damaging and cause the bond to take longer. The first two months after being matched are critical. The handler must keep to a routine, feeding, relieving, and reinforcing commands and routes so the dog can acclimate. During the residential training, it is the handler who is on unfamiliar ground, and the dog who is the more confident; it changes when the team is home. Now it is the handler who is familiar with the surroundings and the dog who must learn to adjust.

For Bailey, he was the new dog on the block, so to speak. My husband and daughter were happy for me and also a little upset because Verona, according to them,  looked so sad. This did not help me, as one can imagine. For the first six months, when Bailey and I left for work, Verona would stand beside him, watching us getting ready to leave. She often tried going out with us or tried to put her head in the harness.

At these times, it broke my heart to harness up Bailey and leave Verona standing there alone. I wanted to get her a doggie therapist. I wanted to explain that she didn' t have to work anymore, that I was honoring her desire to just be a pet, that she had served me well, giving me back my sense of confidence and independence. But I couldn' t expect her to understand these things, and it made it that much harder to leave her behind.

This is where my family helped with the transition. Jerry and my daughter, April, doted on Verona, distracting her when I left with Bailey or taking her for walks, petting her, and just reassuring her that she was still an important part of our family. It took some time, but it worked. Verona stopped trying to come with me and sought comfort from Jerry and April, which was a big relief. It eased the inner conflict I was feeling, too.

The message here is that our dogs matter, our dogs are family; whether it is a pet or a guide dog, we have a responsibility to honor their part in the family system. It is not only a special relationship between the handler and dog, but also a way for family members to understand the handler' s newly discovered confidence and mode of transportation. The family has to learn how to trust the relationship, just like the dog and handler.

Moreover, for many new guide dog handlers, the dog is preferred to the elbow. This change can be an adjustment for family members, who have been relied upon to be the primary mode of guidance. If this is a source of conflict after you' re matched with a new dog, please try your best to talk to someone and trust your gut. Get some advice from other experienced guide dog users and listen to your training department; the advice and support during the transition is invaluable. Most important of all, trust your dog, and do your best to help your family to adjust along with you.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

Ann Chiappetta, M.S. is a writer, poet, and essayist. Her blog can be found at www.thought-wheel.com/ , and her author' s page can be found at http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/

Her memoir, titled Follow Your Dog: Story of Love and Trust, is planned for a November 1, 2017 release. Her poetry collection, Upwelling: Poems, is available from all ebook sellers, and the 60-page print edition can be ordered from Amazon.com.

***

9. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)

by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com

May you have experienced a blessed summer and continue to do so in the remaining months ahead. What a fabulous summer it has been for me: a time of discovery, relationship building, and getting in touch with what gives me joy. That includes my things.

I was inspired by my friend Beth, who has read about the art of Japanese tidying up. She says what you do is go through every item in your possession. Determine whether the thing gives you joy. If it does not, donate it, throw it out, or give it to someone who will gain joy from it. As you relegate it to its new existence, you thank God and the item for having served you well, and, by doing so, you can let go of accumulated clutter. I was given a much-needed floor lamp from Beth' s ambitious purging, and I feel incredibly blessed. Not only have I benefited from the things that no longer give people joy, I think twice before buying an item. I was tempted to buy a dress at Target (a great store for summer dresses), and I thought, I don't really want this dress. I will get more joy from saving up my money and buying clothes from the Treasure House (they're holding their summer bag sale in just a few days), or I can get the dress I really want at Well Made at the mall. I feel joy is a new currency; with more joy, I can have more fun. No longer will I be the serious, all-about-business person I've been.

One of the great joys of my life is a new stainless steel, quiet dishwasher, given to me by my parents. I've run a few loads of dishes in it and am impressed that it is much better in my home than in the Home Depot showroom. My son, Eric, found it online by looking through a lot of reviews. It got a 4.5 star rating. I can still hear it a little bit, which feels like heaven, because the last one I had worsened my migraine headaches. When my air conditioner is running in the dining room, I must put my hand on the dishwasher door to feel the vibration to know that it is still cycling through. It has several dishwashing options, including steam clean, zone washing (meaning you can select just the top rack or just the bottom rack to be washed), delay wash up to 12 hours, and comes with an additional third rack, which is great for flatware and container lids. It also has a hard food disposal. A bonus pack of two Finish dishwasher tablets and Rinse Aid for 23 loads is included. This is the first time I've ever used Rinse Aid. You put it in the circular compartment in the door, which holds enough for a month. The dishwasher is a GE Adora DDT595SSJSS. How amazingly clean the dishes become!

Other than being at home appreciating the joys of a new dishwasher, I have also traveled on Greyhound to visit my then two-month-old grandson. On my way up to New York to see him, I was told by the driver that she does not like to have children in the front, so for the whole trip, I asked that Zachary (my 8-year-old son), Bryanna (my Black Labrador guide dog), and I be seated in the wheelchair section. How pleasant the trip was, to be able to spread out comfortably and to know that Bryanna had plenty of room. I also always carry a blanket for each person to help us sleep and just in case the bus is too cold. An inflatable neck pillow is tremendously helpful. I like to carry my cell phone, cards, and money in a neck pouch and keep it close to me. I feel more secure and can snag a few more minutes of sleep.

I was talking to my sister last week. She told me that her daughter's passport has already expired. I was shocked, because I always thought passports lasted ten years. Not so. If you purchase the smaller passport, there are only a few pages, maybe ten, for countries to stamp. When the passport fills up, you need to purchase a completely new one. If international travel is on your mind, it is better to purchase the big one.

Traveling is especially difficult for babies. My grandson does not like to travel in his car seat. I was reminded of how I used to take four receiving blankets and fold them under the car seat cover for extra padding. This creates a more comfortable ride for the baby and the parents. The cover still fits snugly and the baby is happier. I'm glad I was able to make my grandson's car rides a better experience for him.

If you have any tips you want to share, please email me at:

goodthaimom@gmail.com

I always appreciate hearing from you!

***

 

10. RECIPE COLUMN

by Karen Crowder

August arrives with long, hot, sultry days. People flock to farm stands, buying corn, blueberries, basil, and other locally grown produce and herbs. Families escape to the White Mountains of New Hampshire or the Berkshires in Massachusetts. They may prefer the beaches in Maine, Cape Cod, Connecticut, or Rhode Island.

Everyone savors these serene late summer days in New England. School and college days will wind down another pleasant summer for everyone.

 

These three recipes are simple to prepare.

Contents

A. Sautéed Zucchini

B. Summertime Coleslaw

C. Delicious Milkshakes

***

A. Sautéed Zucchini

Fresh zucchini is gently sautéed with spices, olive oil, and butter. We had it at one of our cookouts while living on Marten Street. Everyone appreciated the zucchini with burgers, chicken, and hot dogs.

Ingredients:

One zucchini

Two dashes of olive oil

Dashes of curry powder, garlic powder, fresh or dried sweet basil, salt, and optional saffron threads

One to two teaspoons real butter.

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil with butter and spices in a 10 -12 cast-iron or stainless steel skillet on low heat for five minutes.

2. Wash and slice unpeeled zucchini on a large cutting board with a paring knife into approximately 32 thin slices. Put cut zucchini in a plastic container. Put several pieces into the hot skillet at a time. Cook all pieces in the skillet. Cook on low heat for 13-16 minutes on each side.

3. Turn off heat, and with a turner, put zucchini on a large plate.

Serve as a side dish at barbecues, or for supper with a tossed salad or sandwich. There is nothing like fresh zucchini during summer months.

***

B. Summertime Coleslaw

I published this recipe as Old-Fashioned Coleslaw in Bob Branco's cookbook, What We Love To Eat. This recipe is worth repeating here. This coleslaw went well with every cookout. Even my grandkids liked it. The tangy sweet dressing makes it unforgettable. It makes a perfect salad at barbecues and summer potlucks.

Ingredients:

One bag ready-made coleslaw or one large head green cabbage

One minced baby carrot

One-half small sweet onion.

Dressing:

Two tablespoons milk

Two tablespoons vinegar

Two tablespoons sugar

Dashes of curry, dill, fresh or dried chives, garlic powder, and salt

One medium jar of Miracle Whip.

Directions:

1. If you are using a head of cabbage, grate it with a four-sided greater into a large stainless mixing bowl. You can even grate a little of the core, which will lend the coleslaw sweetness. Grate in the onion and carrot.

2. In a smaller mixing bowl, put all dressing ingredients. Blend them together, and incorporate dressing into coleslaw. Put coleslaw in an airtight container.

Refrigerate it until serving time. It can be made a day ahead, giving flavors time to set. If using readymade coleslaw, grate or cut onion and carrot into prepared cabbage. Everyone will love this coleslaw, asking you for the recipe.

Note: The original name for the dressing is Grandma's Mayonnaise, found in the out-of-print New England Cookery. She recommends it for salmon, crab, or tuna salad.

***

 C. Delicious Milkshakes

Some restaurants still make milkshakes. In Massachusetts, they are often referred to as frappés. They are simple to prepare at home.

Ingredients:

Four heaping spoonfuls of your favorite ice cream

Three or four squirts any flavor syrup

One-half or one cup whole or low-fat milk.

Directions:

If using a blender, put all ingredients in container. Press Blend or Stir, shutting it off after 60 seconds. Serve milkshake. If you are doing this manually, put syrup and milk in large glasses. Stir with a large spoon. Add ice cream and stir again for two minutes. Enjoy, because you know how much ice cream and flavoring you like in your milk shake. My favorite flavor is chocolate. I always use Hershey's chocolate syrup.

I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this August column. Let us pray for an understanding, happy, and peaceful America.

***

11. TOO CLOSE TO HOME

by James R. Campbell

(Written in November 2016)

I suppose that I shouldn' t be shocked by anything that people do these days. The news is chock full of stories about the evil doings of the darksiders among us. I, for one, get tired of hearing these stories, even though I must admit that I talk and write about them as a way of working through the emotional toll they take.

But what happens when a family member becomes the victim of crime? What does one do in the aftermath of such an occurrence?

Last Thursday, Dear' s cell phone was stolen while she was working at the daycare center. She left the phone on a desk while she went to the library. Some man walked into the daycare on the pretense of selling fruit. When he saw the cell, he took it.

Even Dear says it was her fault, in that she didn' t have the phone with her. She had a case to carry it in, an item we have searched for during the last two weeks. I have even gone so far as to visualize places to look. This is one of the few times I have ventured in Dear' s room in search of something she has lost. We still can' t find it. I have no doubt that it will turn up when we least expect it.

The boss at the daycare ordered her another phone, despite Dear' s wishes. She would have preferred to do it herself. After all, Joann wasn' t responsible for the phone being taken.

The actor who did this has no idea how much trouble he is in. When the cops went to the daycare center on Monday, they lifted the video from the cameras that Joann has in the facility. This is how they caught him. His picture will be on the local Crime Stoppers segment of the news.

Last night, Dear gave me a very specific set of instructions. The storm door has to be locked, and I am not to answer the door for people I don' t know. Dear has been left with a mistrust of people who sell fruit door to door because of this. One of the things I was told was that a thief, or worse, would take advantage of my blindness.

That is a high probability, and, yes, according to her, the blindness factor is an issue. But this is not my only consideration these days. Last night, Bubba and the Doll came over on their bikes. My admonition to them was,  Don' t go home alone; stay together. Don' t stop until you get home. Be careful of cars, and don' t talk to strangers. I couldn' t stand it if something happened to either of you!

Don' t ever think that I wouldn' t fight and die for Courtney Paige' s kids! If you think that for one minute, you are making a grave mistake! I felt the same way about Courtney and the other two girls when they were growing up. I would do whatever I had to do, blindness and the accident notwithstanding.

I hope they catch the guy who took Dear' s phone, but I hope that my blindness is never brought up in the Crime Stoppers feed. The issue is that Dear needs her phone; my blindness is secondary. When she mentioned my blindness this morning, I was reminded yet again that this puts me at a disadvantage. But this is nothing new!

Before the accident, I traced the alleys in the neighborhood, doing odd jobs for free and stopping to converse with neighbors in the area who gave me their cans to sell. Dear and my sister Susie were scared to death because of the people; they didn' t know what type of people they were. Later, I found out that Courtney' s husband' s mom and sister felt the same way. For me, the alleys were a place of refuge.

Our local news has been gripped by a story about a missing girl from Alpine, Texas. She disappeared October 12. Her boyfriend is a suspect in her disappearance. As for me, this Thanksgiving has a dark cloud over it, because I hate for her family to spend Thanksgiving without their daughter. This is why it is important to me to have a good Thanksgiving with Courtney' s family. He will not take that from us.

Yes, it' s personal, even though I didn' t know the girl. Things like that have bothered me from childhood. Any other time, I would be right back in those alleys, conversing with the neighbors, collecting their cans, pulling their weeds, and picking up their trash. My visiting nurse and my ER nurse have forbidden this activity. I focus on meditation, writing, and current events. I am doing what any therapist would tell me to do. The political discourse on the chatlines helps, too.

Let us pray that the girl is found, and that this matter can be resolved. May the person who took Dear' s phone be brought to justice, and may our trust in those who sell fruit be restored. And above all, may we have a happy holiday season, with all of the pleasure and fulfillment it can bring. As always, thanks for your time.

With Loving Kindness,

James R. Campbell

J.campbell@grandecom.net

P.S. On Monday, we went to Walmart to get Dear a new case for her new phone. I will bet the one we lost turns up somewhere.

***

 

12. BROKEN STRING AT THE BOLSHOI BALLET

by John Justice

As usual, I came to the Service Department office at Aeolian Piano at about 8:00 a.m. The dispatcher spoke to me immediately.  Jack, here' s one for the books. Yesterday, we got a call from the Lincoln Center.

Someone had managed to break a bass string in the Mason & Hamlin grand in the orchestra pit. Mrs. Rogers took the call, and fortunately, one of our technicians was in the office at the time. The piano wasn' t playable, and the music director was having a fit. Mike Fitzpatrick provided simple instructions which helped someone there to remove the broken string and make the piano useable again. This was at about 12:30 p.m. The director was talking about having another piano brought in, but Mrs. Rogers assured him that such a drastic solution wasn' t necessary. One of the maintenance men used Mike' s step-by-step directions. He removed the string. Until then, every note played on that poor instrument sounded absolutely awful.

Mrs. Rogers contacted the factory and ordered a new string to be shipped overnight. FedEx came through, and the string was delivered at 8:00 a.m. Now someone needed to install the new string.

Mrs. Rogers cleared my calendar and reassigned the work to other service technicians.  You' re elected, Jack. This is going to take some time, and I need someone who won' t lose his patience. The Bolshoi Ballet will be rehearsing on the main stage while you' re working in the orchestra pit. Somehow, you' re going to have to do this with a minimum of noise and no interruption to the rehearsal. The choreographer has a reputation for blowing his top at the least provocation.

I thought about that for a moment.  No matter what I do, there' s going to be some noise, especially when I have to stretch the string.

Mrs. Rogers agreed.  I suggested that they wait until the rehearsal is over, but the music director refused. He wants that piano ready for tonight' s performance with the live orchestra.

I accepted the packaged string, picked up my case, and headed for Lincoln Center.

It' s very hard to break a bass string in a grand piano. Usually, if the pianist plays that heavily, he or she will damage the action. This is a series of levers, made mostly of wood, that project the hammer against the string. Thoughts of repair as well as string replacement went through my head. How in the devil did someone break that string?

I went through the service entrance and was directed to the orchestra pit. The pianist was there, waiting anxiously for my arrival. He was so nervous that I could feel the excess energy coming from him.  You can' t make noise! Oh, God! Why the hell did they send a blind guy on this job? I hope you know what you' re doing! You can' t make noise! Do you understand me? You can' t make noise!

I could understand why Mrs. Rogers mentioned having patience. I decided not to argue with this man. It would serve no purpose and might make things much worse.

I removed what was left of the broken string. I opened the piano and checked the action for damage.

When I did that, I thought the guy was going to have a heart attack right then and there.  All you have to do is replace the string! Why are you opening the piano?

Finally, I turned to him and spoke very quietly.  I know my job and what I have to do, sir. I wouldn' t be here if you hadn' t broken the string. Now, let me get a few things straight. I' m going to do what has to be done. You can be assured of that. But I can' t and won' t tolerate any interference. If you have a problem with that, I' ll call for the music director and ask him to remove you until the work is completed. I have a delicate job to do and, for the record, there will be some noise. That is inevitable when you' re putting in a brand-new string.

The man went ballistic.  You can' t talk to me like that! I' m a member of this orchestra! You are nothing but a blind tuner! He stormed out of the pit and disappeared. His last remarks were something about having me forcibly removed. I don' t know where he went, but I didn' t see him for about two hours. In that time, I checked the action, which was fine, put the piano back together, and installed the new string.

Now came the hard part. A new bass string has to be  stretched before it will stay in tune. There is some give in the metal, and a tuner has to carefully bring tension onto the new string, then tighten it to a point where the actual note being sounded is as much as two steps higher than where it should be. Then we wait. Gradually, the metal will stretch and the tone will drop slowly. The only way to tell what is going on is by playing the note occasionally.

No one should have worried about making too much noise. Above me, the Bolshoi Ballet was rehearsing to prerecorded music. Those ballerinas might look lighter than air, but they certainly don' t sound that way. One lady was practicing a particular part, and every time she went onto one foot, I could hear the sound coming through the floor. When several of them were dancing, it sounded like elephants walking across the stage.

I stretched that string again and again. After about two hours, it was holding the correct pitch. I packed up my tools and was trying to figure out how to get out of the building. The pianist arrived. He apologized for his behavior and personally walked me to the service exit. What a day!

John and Linda Justice, with guide dogs Edwin and Calypso

Personal e-mail: john_justice@verizon.net

***

13. THE ORDEAL OF SURVIVING ANOTHER APARTMENT FLOOD, PART 1

by Karen Crowder

 It was an ordinary Tuesday night on July 25, 2017. I sat listening to local talk radio and removing stains from a favorite coral top. I heard a loud boom, which sounded eerily close to my apartment.

After putting the top in the washing machine, I was passing my circuit breaker when this serene night changed. I observed water and immediately shut off the machine. I had heard horror stories of apartment floods and was grateful they had seldom happened to me. I took immediate action, with shaking hands calling the main number at this complex. I pressed the emergency extension, and after identifying myself, frantically explained what was happening. The patient woman said a hot water tank had blown in the apartment right above me. She reassured me maintenance and a cleaning crew would be there in ten minutes.

 

I grabbed pots, mixing bowls, and large bath towels to help contain water drips coming into my apartment. The worst was in the living room, parts of the bathroom, and the hall to the bedroom.

At the same time as the maintenance men arrived, the fire alarm went off throughout the apartment building. The maintenance men explained that the water coming through the ceiling had set it off. I was grateful they were here. They said I was doing the right thing containing the water. Since the water to the other apartment was now shut off, the drips began slowing. They reassured me that the cleaning company would be coming soon.

I went out in to the hall, since everyone was congregating there. They all were wondering what had happened. I looked the worse for wear with wet hair, dressed in white slacks, shoes, and a damp nightgown. I spoke with other tenants, explaining what had happened to me.

 

Reentering my apartment, I put more towels down to catch the remaining drips.

Around 10:30, the cleaning crew came. The man had seen me after two smaller floods in 2004 and 2014, in my former two-bedroom apartment. They sucked up all the water. The kind woman put most of the wet towels and small articles of clothing in the bathtub. I joked about how the water had almost washed my hair; I just needed shampoo. We had a good laugh. They would be returning to clean the carpets. The kind maintenance men returned, putting in a dehumidifier to take up the remaining water.

 

Now the real work began. I attacked the mountain of towels, doing two loads that night. While the second load was in the dryer, I put in another load to soak until Wednesday morning. Exhausted, I was in bed by 2:00, getting up before 9:00.

  

Maintenance was there after 9:00 to assess damage to the ceiling. For an hour every day next week, they will be doing replastering and refinishing the ceiling. Then they will repaint it. I will have to be out for a day, and everything will be covered with plastic. As of Wednesday evening, the dehumidifier was gone, and all the laundry from the flood was done. As of Friday evening, most of the dampness has gone, and life is nearly back to normal In early September, see how all this is finally resolved in Part 2.

***

14. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the July Consumer Vision. The inventor of the glass harmonica was Benjamin Franklin. Congratulations to the following winners:

Leonore Dvorkin of Denver, Colorado

David Faucheux of Lafayette, Louisiana

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

Barbara Zuwala of Rock Island, Illinois

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Alan Dicey of Plantation, Florida

Stephen Theberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for this month. How many zeroes are there in a trillion? If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.