THE CONSUMER VISION

March 2016

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

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Email: bobbranco93@gmail.com

Website: www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader: Leonore Dvorkin

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Note: The title of each article and its author will be separated by three asterisks: ***

Three asterisks will also be used to separate articles from each other. This is to make it easier to find items you want to read and bypass articles in which you are not interested.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** Terri Winaught

IT'S A BRAND NEW DAY AT HADLEY *** This was taken from a press release which Hadley issued.

GUIDE DOGS AND THE ADA *** by John Justice

IS OUR SOCIETY OVERMEDICATING ITSELF? *** by Bob Branco

A BAD SENSE OF HUMOR *** by John Justice

FROM THE HEART, NOT FROM THE EYES OR EARS *** Becky Frankeberger and her business Butterfly Knitting, by Kevin Frankeberger

CHANGES IN THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ARE NECESSARY *** by Bob Branco

BEWARE OF TELEPHONE SCAMS *** by Bob Branco

SERVICE DOGS *** by Ernest A. Jones

AN ARTICLE ON AGING *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

WHAT HAPPENED TO PROPER DRESS? *** by Bob Branco (originally appeared in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)

A VISITATION FROM BUTTERFLIES *** by Lynda McKinney Lambert

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

MARCH RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

SPECIAL NOTICES *** Submitted by readers and compiled by Bob Branco

READERS' FORUM *** Submitted by readers and compiled by Bob Branco

CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST *** by Bob Branco

A CONCLUDING NOTE FROM THE PROOFREADER

***

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

March 2016

This has been a really strange winter here in Pittsburgh. Yesterday, driving was so hazardous due to icy roads that the Pittsburgh public schools canceled classes. By the end of this week, however, temperatures will approach 50 degrees. Strange though such roller coaster weather might seem, inconsistent and ever-changing is also how life can be with the varied situations that present themselves.

One thing that I hope never changes, though, is the excellence of Consumer Vision as an informative and entertaining publication.

I appreciate and look forward to all the feedback I receive after each issue. Many of you had especially high praise for John Justice's February submission about guide dog and human bonding. Equally praiseworthy was John's article about the permanent physical and emotional scars that can occur when one's guide dog is attacked. Regarding the latter, reader, contributor and Seeing Eye (R) dog user Patty Fletcher told me about a recently passed piece of legislation called "Dusty's Law." This New Jersey law, passed in 2014, is a protective measure that Patty will probably write about in a future issue.

Another contributor I'd like to mention before closing is Penny Fleckenstein. As many of you know, Penny's articles are replete with tips designed to make everyday tasks easier for those of us with sight loss or low vision. To keep this informative column going and growing, Penny would love to hear from readers who have "TIPS FOR VIPS." To contact Penny, send an email to goodthaimom@gmail.com.

Stay safe and warm as winter tries to do its worst.

As always, thank you for reading with me, and appreciation also to our gifted writers, proofreader extraordinaire Leonore Dvorkin, and accomplished publisher Bob Branco.

As you read and hopefully enjoy March's Consumer Vision, be uplifted by the knowledge that spring will bless us with beauty and rebirth later this month.

Sincerely,

Terri Winaught, Editor

***

IT'S A BRAND NEW DAY AT HADLEY

To better reflect the diversity of students it serves and how it has evolved over the years, The Hadley School for the Blind announces that today, it has changed its name to Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Founded in 1920, Hadley remains the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind and visually impaired worldwide.

"Nearly a century after our founding, Hadley serves a broad spectrum of individuals with vision loss, including those with low vision. Although we will always support people who are blind, there is an ever-growing population of older adults experiencing age-related vision loss who may never become fully blind. As part of our evolution, we are expanding our programs and services to meet their needs," said Hadley President Chuck Young.

The name change also better informs the public that Hadley's programs and services are geared to individuals ages 14 and up.

"The word ‘school' implies a brick and mortar facility for young children, whereas the word ‘institute' speaks to education, but defies space and place. The term ‘institute' is broader and more appropriate for a distance education organization serving 10,000 students in more than 100 countries," said Hadley Board of Trustees Chair Dewey Crawford.

The term ‘institute' also provides an umbrella with which to discuss the many programs and services Hadley offers and the many audiences Hadley serves: people who have long been visually impaired and those new to sight loss, families of persons of all ages with varying degrees of vision loss, and blindness service providers.

In tandem with the name change, a catchy new tagline, "Educating for life," will be used to highlight Hadley's mission to promote independent living through lifelong learning, as well as its dedication to educating students on life skills and helping them reach their full potential.

"We love the double meaning in this tagline," adds Young. "It concisely says what we do and why we do it."

A more contemporary logo was developed as well, to illustrate how Hadley has changed, while remaining true to its roots. The graphic represents the Braille letter "H," honoring Hadley's longstanding commitment to Braille excellence. The graphic is also reminiscent of stained glass in prairie architecture, in homage to the North Shore of Chicago, where Hadley's offices are located.

"As we approach our Centennial in 2020, we want everyone to know just how far we have come," says Crawford. "It's indeed a brand new day at Hadley."

To learn more, visit www.hadley.edu/rebrand. See updates to Hadley's website at www.hadley.edu.

***

GUIDE DOGS AND THE ADA

by John Justice

 

How much has the ADA really helped those of us who use guide dogs? An article was posted which compared conditions in the 1950s to the way we are treated as dog handlers today. There's no doubt that things have changed to some extent since the time before the ADA was signed into law. But, unfortunately, it didn't help us as much as it should have. 

When I got my first dog back in the mid-‘60s, I can remember being refused entry into restaurants, being left on the side of the road by city bus drivers, and being refused admittance into taxies. It was pretty rough out there at times. There was no consistency in the way people interpreted existing dog legislation. Since the ADA has become known, there have been fewer confrontations, and things have improved. There's no doubt about that, but there are still incidents in which the management of a hotel will dare someone to sue them and just refuse the dog, whether it's legal or not. As all of you know, there are cab drivers in some major cities who pull out the religion card when it comes time to allow a dog into their vehicles.

But the most blatant disregard for this federal law comes from the government itself. Airlines are constantly hassling dog users, but the FAA does very little about it. Even today, there are bus drivers from Greyhound who will leave a guide dog handler standing on the street and pass him by because they don't want the dog in the bus. As recently as one year ago, I was told by an irate restaurant owner that this was his damned restaurant and he'd run it as he pleased. "If I say no dogs, then it's no dogs," he screamed in my face. The policemen who arrived didn't know any more about the federal and state law than the owner did. The officer's solution was to suggest that we go someplace else to eat. It took 40 minutes, a lot of nasty argument, and the intervention of the duty sergeant before the owner capitulated and showed us to a table. When we were seated, he said quietly, "I'll let you in this time because you're embarrassing me in front of my customers, but don't come back. You won't get seated the next time. We'll just be full and that will be that." 

I applied for a job in a local restaurant. I've been performing in this area for a very long time. The owner and his staff were polite and very helpful, but they gave the job to someone else. Why? Because the man didn't want the dog in his dining room two nights a week.  

If a guide dog handler decides to take an airplane somewhere, he or she is rolling the dice. On one flight, you might find a staff that welcomes the dog, does everything to make you comfortable and, in short, makes the trip a pleasure. The next time you fly, you might get someone who doesn't like dogs and insists that you force your 80-pound Lab under the seat and then puts someone in the chair right next to you. Add that to the security staff who break the law constantly. FAA regulations clearly state that at no time should the owner be separated from his guide dog or service animal. Yet, time and time again, my dog has been taken away from me, led through a separate entrance, and then been subjected to a full pat-down search to check for hidden weapons. My dog and I are members of the Blind Liberation Army, a radical group of blind travelers who plan to rule every airport in the United States. We are planning to blow up the next Islamic driver who refuses to carry us in his cab. But how does the security staff know this? Who tipped them off? 

We are fortunate in having organizations like Guide Dog Users International who can recommend courses of action or even support someone with an ongoing problem. Years ago, this kind of help was unheard of.  

The problem with the ADA is that it is far too vague in areas where specific and enforceable laws should be available. Worse yet, people are taking advantage of loopholes in the law and bringing untrained, poorly controlled animals into public facilities and risking every other dog handler's rights. More than once, I have entered a restaurant in Philadelphia, only to be attacked by someone's so-called "emotional support" poodle who thinks he owns the place. A few years ago, someone took a case all the way to a state Supreme Court. In that battle, a woman claimed that her dog was a medical necessity. The court found in her favor based on an interpretation of ADA law. The decision spread like wildfire. Part of that ruling included a requirement stating clearly that a certification was required, confirming that the dog was a trained companion. The interpretation of what should or should not be accepted as genuine certification is where the trouble lies. I don't believe that a letter from a doctor is sufficient verification of the necessity for a "support animal," but unfortunately, that letter is often all the dog owner needs in order to bring his or her completely untrained animal into a facility serving the public. Based on that decision made in a lower court, these people have the right, under the ADA, to bring their animals with them.  

I suggest that a higher level of certification should be demanded. Although I admire and respect the medical profession, I do not think that they have the knowledge to identify a properly trained service animal. 

A case involving a specially trained dog used by a hearing impaired student achieved national notoriety when the school refused to allow the boy to bring his dog into the classroom. The ADA, as interpreted by the courts, seems to give that student the right to bring his dog with him, and he and his family were able to provide a very high level of verification that the dog was a necessary part of the boy's life. Yet the school refused time and time again until the matter reached higher into the legal system. As of this writing, the matter is not yet completely resolved. The student is not able to rely on his dog for the service he needs while in class. How would you vote on such a proposition? Any person who can think clearly and concisely would admit that bringing a dog into a building filled with young children is a recipe for disaster. Yet, at the same time, the ADA gives this boy the right to bring his dog along. The animal was obviously well trained and selected for that purpose. If dog and boy are a good team, the student could deal with any possible difficulty arising out of having a dog in the classroom. As an outside observer, I can clearly see good arguments on both sides of that dispute. 

In another incident, a college-level girl experienced difficulty when one of her potential instructors tried to deny her admittance into that class because she was "allergic to dogs" and therefore believed that the student would create an untenable situation. Fortunately, that dispute only went as high as the administration of the college, who told the professor to take her allergy medication or leave. The student had no further trouble.  

An old retired judge once told me that the law is like a pendulum. It swings too far in one direction, then moves to the exact opposite position. If left alone, the law, like the pendulum, will eventually achieve equilibrium. The old gentleman went on to say that in many cases, neither side of a legal argument is completely satisfied with the final result. That sounds like a reasonable assumption to me. 

 Now, let's look at the positive side of what we have gained through the ADA. Guide dogs are accepted in most locations without question. More recently, the laws have been extended to include other service animals, such as those who assist physically challenged individuals. If you attend a concert, special seating is often provided which allows for additional space for guide dogs or wheel chairs. Public buses often have an area which has been designed to provide more space for those who ride with their dogs or have some kind of mechanical equipment. Most modern city buses are equipped with a suspension system which allows the bus to "kneel" or lower the entrance, thereby permitting easier access for those of us who are physically challenged.                

The ADA is not perfect, but what would the world be like for us if it were not there at all? Will the pendulum swing the other way, and will these ridiculous distortions of the law be corrected in time? We can hope so. The law moves slowly. But it does change eventually. There are many more battles to be fought and legal confrontations to be won and lost. What will this world be like 20 years from now?

At one time, an engineer was trying to develop a robotic guide for the blind. Actual tests were performed in England, but it's been quite a while since any new developments have been noted. Can you imagine being led from place to place by R2 D2? No one could complain about fur or fleas. It wouldn't be necessary to park your robot guide in the middle of a snowstorm. But, we can count on humanity! Someone somewhere will probably find a way to protest against the use of this electronic device. "I am afraid that the robot might go crazy and kill my other customers." "We don't allow robots in our restaurant." "You can't bring that thing on an airplane. It might contain a bomb!" "You won't be permitted to use your robot guide on the aircraft. It could send out signals which would interfere with the pilot's ability to fly the plane." Don't laugh, dear readers. It could happen.           

Personal email of John and Linda Justice: john_justice@verizon.net

***

IS SOCIETY OVERMEDICATING ITSELF?

by Bob Branco

Just turn on the television. You will eventually see an advertisement for a pill that will reduce cholesterol, increase sex drive, relieve anxiety, overcome depression, or resolve several other medical problems. If you listen carefully to the ad, you will notice that the announcer spends more time telling you why you should not take the pill than why you should. Apparently there are more side effects than positive results. Does this bother you? I know it bothers me. I sometimes wonder if we are better off not taking any medications at all.

For most of my life, the only pills I ever took were aspirin and an occasional allergy medication. In September of 2015, my doctor prescribed medication for me because he wanted to lower my cholesterol a bit. While I understand his reason, I also know that there are side effects to this medication. Therefore, I decided not to take it as prescribed. Instead, I took it every other day or every three days. I didn't want to face the possibility that I would encounter additional problems.

The medical profession has been accused of overprescribing. I don't know if it's true. I can only say that I have been extremely healthy for 58 years without much medication, and I'm afraid that if I start taking prescription drugs now, one problem will lead to another which will lead to another.

On the other hand, I have seen instances where prescription medications have helped a lot of people. The question is, what about long term? Will these people have side effects which will mean more prescription drugs and more money spent? Is it also possible that many people become addicted to drugs that should not have been prescribed in the first place? If this is true, then I wonder if we could avoid particular drug epidemics that are currently going on throughout this country.

I have a feeling that this debate will go on indefinitely, because too many companies profit from medicine, whether it helps you or not. My advice is to be extremely vigilant. Weigh all the pros and cons when taking a prescribed drug or watching an ad on television. You will probably be better off for it.

***  

A BAD SENSE OF HUMOR

by John Justice

As an entertainer, I traveled all around the country and performed in places which ranged from incredibly nice to unbelievably bad. When the booking agency called me, I was living in my family home in southern New Jersey. The agent told me that all of my expenses would be covered, including an overnight stay in a Manhattan hotel. I accepted his offer and packed a suitcase. My mother drove me to Stone Harbor to meet the New York City bus.

On Central Park West in Manhattan, there are a great many high rise apartment buildings, and the people living there are in the upper income bracket, to say the least. The booking agency sent me to play for a cocktail party in one of those incredible places. I rode the elevator up to the floor in my tuxedo and rang the bell as agreed. A houseman let me in and told me that I was to go to the third door in a long corridor and turn left. He couldn't leave his post, so I followed his instructions. He had forgotten that there was a closet in that hallway and that would have been one of three doors. I opened number three, but the noises I heard on the other side made me close it quickly and quietly. There were people in there, but judging by the sounds, they wouldn't have welcomed musical accompaniment to their activity. 

The next entrance was a set of double doors, and as soon as I entered, a serving girl greeted me and showed me where the piano was located. I sat down and waited until the scheduled time before beginning to play background music. The room quickly filled with guests until it was practically wall to wall. They talked, laughed, and joked with one another as we all do at a party, but much of the speech was in foreign languages. I recognized the owner's voice in a moment and he came to stand behind me. "Would you like a drink?" I shook my head. "I'm not permitted to drink while on the job. I'd welcome a Coke, though." The man said that he understood. "One Coke coming up." Moments later, a small table was set up on my left and a frosted glass of soda was placed there for me. It was really getting hot in there by this time, so I was going through the cold drinks fairly regularly. One of the girls made sure that my glass was always filled. 

Finally, the party was over, and most of the guests left as quickly as they had come. The owner returned and offered me one more drink before I left. I thanked him, finished the soda, and went to the elevator. 

The hotel I was staying in was within walking distance of the apartment building, and I made it there without incident.

I took a nap, and when I woke for dinner, I felt odd. Normal noises sounded distorted, and I had trouble keeping my feet. I went to the bathroom, but when I flushed the toilet, suddenly I was up to my chest in water. Then I touched a wall, and it had fur growing out of it. The phone rang, but it sounded like a carillon of bells. I managed to get to my bed, only to find that the bed was flying around the building with me in it. I heard voices calling me, inviting me to step outside to meet friends. I was in a hotel room located on the twelfth floor. There was no balcony.

Gradually the nightmare subsided, and I went to sleep. The next morning, I was due to go home. I got my things together and went down into the subway. I was at 72nd Street and I had to go down to 41st Street to the Port Authority bus terminal. Somewhere between 72nd and 59th, the next stop, the door at the end of the car opened and lions came into the train. I am not kidding you. I could smell them and hear their big padded feet stomping through the aisle. There were several of them, and they were roaring.

By the grace of God, I made it safely to the bus terminal and onto the right line for my home in New Jersey. I decided then and there that I wasn't going out anywhere for a while.

A few days later, I got a call from the man who had booked that party. He asked me if I had been feeling okay. Well, that did it. The whole story of my experience came pouring out. The owner of the apartment had called the agency on the same night. He seemed really upset and told my agent that one of his so-called friends had put a sugar cube soaked with LSD in my drink. The owner didn't hear about it until I had gone back to the hotel. Since then, he had been trying to find out if I was okay. He explained what had happened. "It was supposed to be a joke. They wanted to see how a blind man would act on acid. I guess your system didn't react right away, and so no one knew what had been done until much later, long after you were gone. Are you all right?" 

"Not really," I admitted. "That was the weirdest experience I have ever had."

I have learned that some people don't react right away to that stuff, while others are affected almost immediately. I don't know what the kids in the ‘60s found so fascinating about LSD. All it did was scare the heck out of me. There were no visual reactions, though, just auditory and sensory distortion.

I suppose I could have sued that man for a lot of money, but I never did. The funny thing is that I had no idea that anything like that had been done. There wasn't a funny taste. The soda was so cold that it must have masked anything strange. I wonder now if the heat I felt was a partial reaction to the drug. It wasn't funny then, and it isn't a bit amusing now. I still get chills when I think about those lions walking through the subway train. My God! They were so real! In fact, everything I felt was real. I could feel the water swirling around me as if I was standing in a flowing brook. When I put my hand on the wall, I could feel warm, resilient fur, like the kind on my puppy here. I didn't have a dog at that time. Unfortunately, my cane wasn't much comfort in a situation like that.

Other than what is called a "flashback," I had no long-range reaction to the drug. I do have an aversion to playing private parties in expensive New York apartments, though. Can you blame me?

Personal email of John and Linda Justice: john_justice@verizon.net

***

FROM THE HEART, NOT FROM "NORMAL-WORKING" EYES OR EARS  

Becky Frankeberger and Her Business, Butterfly Knitting

byy Kevin Frankeberger

Yes, Becky Frankeberger is classified as a "deaf/blind" person. Due to Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease) over the years, her hearing deteriorated. Also born with eye "issues," she was blind (with some residual vision) as an infant, and today is almost totally blind. Becky lives in the Pacific NW with her guide dog, Jake, her husband, Kevin, who is also blind, and his guide dog, Tomasso.

As Becky says, "I have enjoyed knitting since my mom and aunt were finally convinced that a 10-year-old blind girl could see through – yes, her hands. But now I say first, through my heart.

"It is fun for me to email with -- or better, chat on the phone with -- potential clients. That is where we make the connection per the end product wanted and also, the colors and ‘feel' desired," she says. Becky's "end product" includes ponchos, shawls, afghans of all sizes (baby blankets, mainly), eternity scarves, twist cowls, hat/scarf combos, lacy scarves to pretty up an outfit, etc.

When asked about how Becky chooses the yarn and color/texture, she comments about her husband. "Kevin and I married in 2004. He still has some residual sight with color, so together, we order the client's yarn that I need to get to work with. He is also the ‘administrator' for me, so he deals with pre-payments, final billings, and so on."

If you are interested in contacting Becky regarding custom-made products, her contact information is below.

Website: www.butterflyknitting.com

Email: info@ButterflyKnitting.com

Phone: 360-426-8389

***

CHANGES IN THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PROCESS ARE NECESSARY

by Bob Branco

During the year when a President is elected, there is a series of Presidential primaries throughout the country which help to determine the Republican and Democratic nominees for that office. These primaries are spread out over a four-month period, with each one taking place in a different state.

In my opinion, this process is extremely unfair to all the Presidential candidates as well as to the voters. In the first set of primaries, some voters will actually be voting for candidates who won't be on the ballot in later primaries. How is this fair? Last week, those who voted for Chris Christie in New Hampshire wasted their time, because Chris Christie is no longer running for President. Therefore, what good were those votes? How could anyone justify the logic of this process? It makes no sense at all.

As far as I'm concerned, the solution is right there for all to see, but as cynics would say, "The Government won't act on it because it's too easy." We are the "United" States of America, so let's be united. Let's have one national primary election on the same day. The Republican who finishes with the most votes wins that party's nomination, while the Democrat who ends up at the top wins that nomination. Why would anyone even think this isn't the right thing to do? Every vote would mean something, and to make sure, we should also do away with the Electoral College and make the entire Presidential election run by popular vote.

This is the 21st century. We don't need to justify the Electoral College anymore. Everyone votes now, not just farmers. I strongly believe that if it weren't for the Electoral College, George W. Bush would never have been President. This isn't a knock on Bush. It's to point out that the popular vote is what it is.

Let's all use common sense and make elections more fair for all of us.

***

BEWARE OF TELEPHONE SCAMS

by Bob Branco (originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)

I'm sure that many of you have receive phone calls from people who either request information from you or they want to assist you with a problem, such as a personal debt or a computer issue. After years of dealing with callers like these, I must tell you that I ignore them if I am not familiar with who they are. In the first place, there are too many scam artists who can't wait to victimize us. Allow me to give you some helpful hints which indicate that you are about to be scammed.

First, if someone contacts you offering advice on how to reverse your debt, and if he says he has looked through your personal file, please do not pay attention. The only way that a debt reversal organization looks through someone's personal files is if they get permission to do so. And as far as I know, no one has offered personal files to such organizations.

Another type of phone call for you to avoid is the one from a person claiming to know all about your computer. He will even tell you that you have a serious technical problem with it. First of all, if you never reported any computer problems, how would these people know what they are? So again, this is likely to be another scammer, and you should hang up on him.

There are also people who claim to represent energy companies and want to offer you a deal. Although the deal sounds tempting, ask yourself if you have ever heard of these particular energy companies before. If you haven't heard of them, it's possible that the caller is trying to get information to use against you.

What I am basically saying is that we should all be extremely vigilant when strangers call us. As I said, you can hang up on them, but I also think it's important to contact your local police department and let them know about the type of calls you are getting. The police have been known to track down telephone scammers in the past, and they will do their best to turn them in.

We live in an extremely greedy society, so I just want people to be aware and to do their best not to be victimized any longer.

***

SERVICE DOGS

by Ernest A. Jones

One may find "service" dogs that have no training and are a nuisance in public, giving the well-trained service/guide dogs a bad name. But there are well-trained service dogs that not only are a help to their partner; they also show their sound training when out in public. Below, I have included several of their stories, adapted from writeups by Canine Companions for Independence (www.cci.org).

Kaylor jumped onto the bench beside his buddy, Isaac, and sat facing the camera as the light flashed in their faces. Kaylor is a skilled companion dog, matched with Isaac in 2014.

Prior to receiving Kaylor, Isaac had overwhelming anxiety. He was unable to enter the room with the big photography lights. But after Kaylor showed Isaac how it was done, Isaac was able to have his yearbook picture taken for the first time.

Isaac has severe autism and cognitive delays. He is nonverbal, unable to make friends. He uses an iPad to communicate, and is engaging more with others with Kaylor by his side. He is teaching Kaylor to listen and respond to commands from the voice on his iPad. Having Kaylor has helped Isaac when interacting with his peers.

Dan wasn't aware that he was starting a lifelong partnership when in 1987 he joined his region's first graduating class of Canine Companion Institute.

"I always had a dog, so after my injury it seemed natural to get an assistance dog." Thus entered Troubadour.

"Within the first month of having Troubadour, while I was at the grocery store, my wedding ring fell to the floor and rolled under a shelf. With simple instruction, Troubadour got the ring, brought it to me, and dropped it in my hand. I didn't have to ask anyone for help."

Having an assistance dog allowed Dan to successfully manage his busy family life and teaching career.

Bari has Still's disease, a severe form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She can't reach far in front of her or even reach the top of her head. Before her Canine Companions assistance dogs, Bari was dependent on a caregiver or family member for help.

Bari received her first Canine Companions service dog, Carol, while attending college. Carol helped Bari meet fellow students, pick up dropped pens, and get the button for the elevator door. Most of all, Carol helped open Bari up to all of the possibilities of a more independent life.

"Having Carol took away limitations I had mentally placed on myself," Bari said.

In October 2007, Bob learned why he had been struggling with reasoning, concentration, fatigue, and uncontrollable muscle movements. He had Huntington's disease, a progressive disorder of the brain that inhibits people physically, emotionally, and socially.

Because of his disease, he could no longer drive, work, or participate in the activities he loved. His neurologist mentioned that an assistance dog might help ease the physical and emotional pain of Bob's illness; relieving stress often slows the progress of the disease. In 2010, Canine Companions for Independence made it possible for Bob to graduate with an assistance dog, Exeter.

Exeter is always there for Bob as his disease progresses: picking up the many things that Bob drops, turning lights on or off, or helping Bob get a soda from the refrigerator.

Before Exeter, people would see Bob stumbling and assume he was intoxicated. Since Bob was  matched with Exeter, people see Exeter in his blue Canine Companions vest and instantly understand that Bob has a disability. Instead of confronting him, they offer their assistance.

When Emily got the call inviting her to the May 2012 Team Training, her initial reaction wasn't one of joy.

"The embarrassing thought that came into my mind was that having a service dog would be another accessory to add to my arsenal of things that make me stand out," she said. "I already have a wheelchair, trach with occasional ventilator, and sometimes a brace on my hand. Adding a dog to this mix felt like pushing me over the top.

"But my service dog, Dash II, has done the exact opposite of what I feared. He has not added to my 'disability accessories'; he has actually detracted from them."

Dash assists Emily by picking up dropped items, opening doors, turning light switches on and off, and pushing automatic door buttons.

With Dash by her side, Emily has found that people are more comfortable approaching her in public.

"Often, once I've answered a few questions about Dash, people realize that although I'm in a wheelchair, I'm the same as anyone else," she said.

Barbara has cerebral palsy, has limited verbal communication, and is quadriplegic. Before getting her assistance dog, Marco, she used to be self-conscious about using her natural voice in public. But with Marco, her confidence has grown.

"I knew an assistance dog would help bridge the gap between Barbara and the rest of the world," said her mother, "but I didn't know if we'd qualify, since Barbara cannot give traditional commands to a dog."

Barbara calls Marco with clicks of her tongue. He will come to her and push his head under her arm so she can pet him. As Marco has brought her more happiness, her desire to be independent has grown.

Bill sustained his life-changing injuries while serving the country in the U.S. Coast Guard. Now he is a successful businessman and an active community member. He serves on school boards and planning commissions and as treasurer for a veterans' organization.

Garrison greets Bill every morning, wagging his tail and holding his food bowl in his mouth, and is by Bill's side every minute of the day.

"If you're in a chair, people think your ability to think and speak is different. Garrison changes that. He acts as an ice-breaker, and people treat me normally," Bill said.

Anna was born profoundly deaf. She often fails to hear sounds like phones, knocks at the door, and traffic.

She was accepted to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her parents were excited, but concerned about Anna living alone so far away from home.

Anna's dream of partnering with a hearing dog finally came true when she graduated from Team Training and went home with Yashira. Yashira will nudge Anna and direct her to the source of noise: the phone, doorbell, smoke alarm, and more.

"Before Yashira, I was always afraid of missing out on the important things," Anna said.

Ernest A. Jones is the author of Onesimus, the Runaway Slave

Encouraging the Blind

Greater love hath no man than this.

***

AN ARTICLE ON AGING FOR RECOVERING THE SELF MAGAZINE

"Age Is a Number, but Growing Old Is Largely an Attitude"

by Leonore H. Dvorkin / Copyright February 2016

Originally published July 2012 / Updated February 2016

Introduction

The following article consists of my answers to several questions about aging that were sent to me in June 2012 by Ernest Dempsey, the editor-in-chief of Recovering the Self magazine. Below, I have updated all information pertaining to myself.

Three other authors also answered Ernest's questions. Those were Patricia Wellingham-Jones (73 years old in 2012), Janet Grace Riehl (then 63), and Dave Scotese (then 42). In July of 2012, I was 66 years old. I will turn 70 on May 5, 2016.

The entire article, entitled "Voices on 'Aging and Life,'" was printed in the July 2012 issue of Recovering the Self, Vol. IV, No. 3, pages 78-81. The theme for that issue was "Aging and Elders." The ISBN-13 of the July 2012 issue is 978-1-61599-165-5.

This was the second article of mine to be published in Recovering the Self. The first was a 2011 article entitled "Two Terrific Blind Guys and How I Came to Be Their Friend." It was published in the July 2011 issue, Vol. III, No. 3, ppages 78-85. The ISBN-13 of that issue is 978-1-61599-105-1.

I have linked to that article below. (It also needs some updating, but that will have to wait for a later time.) It is about my two blind friends Reginald ("Reg") George and Brian K. Nash. Brian still lives in Missouri with his wife, Sue, and Reg now lives in Yakima, Washington with his wife, Lisa. Brian is a prolific author, mainly of books for children. He was the first of my many blind editing clients. The link to his website appears at the end of this article.

Current and back issues of Recovering the Self magazine can be purchased on Amazon and from Loving Healing Press.

Now for Ernest's questions about aging and my answers to them.

Question:

What do "old" and "young" mean to you?

Answer:

Here in the U.S., where people often live into their eighties, nineties, and beyond, many people who are even well into their seventies do not think of themselves as "old." They and their elders often remain quite active, even continuing to work for pay. That may be due to financial necessity, but often, it's mainly because the person wishes to stay engaged with society.

I think a person is "old" when he or she

is decidedly old in years (or prematurely aged, due to health problems);

is no longer able or willing to be physically active or socially engaged;

looks mainly backward instead of enjoying the present and looking forward to the future;

is unable to accept and embrace changes in technology and society, thinking that "the old way" was always better;

gradually but steadily shrinks the scope of his or her interests and activities.

A person who is "young"

is able and willing to be physically active (if possible);

probably works on some regular basis, be that out of necessity or interest;

usually enjoys the present and looks forward to the future;

embraces technological advances and most changes in society as they come and works for the betterment of society;

socializes with family members, friends, and colleagues and takes an interest in the outside world;

accepts and even embraces the thought that he or she might need and want to work at several different jobs over a lifetime;

enjoys meeting new people and learning new things.

At almost 70, I'm no longer young in years, but I'm not yet ancient and decrepit, either. While I do notice some unpleasant physical changes that have come with advancing years, I'm still very active and busy, working as a self-employed tutor of Spanish and German, a proofreader and editor, a writer, a weight-training instructor, and sometimes a translator.

My inspiration is the fact that many of my relatives lived well into their nineties, and almost all of them remained active into their eighties and beyond, variously farming, pursuing advanced degrees, teaching, or doing other work for pay. So, barring serious future health problems, I hope and intend to follow in their footsteps.

Question:

How does aging enrich our life?

Answer:

As we begin to contemplate our own mortality, I think that most of us learn to appreciate ever more all the good things in our lives and the good people around us. Aging also seems to teach us more patience with other people's foibles and weaknesses.

If we are lucky, we also find the courage and emotional maturity to forgive the people who have hurt us in the past, to move beyond old anger and pain. We can try to make old pain a part of our emotional past, as well as the actual past. We can try hard to set it all aside and concentrate ever more strongly on the present and the hoped-for future.

One rather amusing benefit of aging is that we learn to care a lot less about what other people may think of us. While young people are generally very concerned with fitting in with the crowd, being fashionable, and never looking ridiculous, older people feel much freer to be themselves, to do things the way that feels right and comfortable to them, and to dress the way they like. That change is profoundly liberating.

Question:

What is the worst thing about aging that makes one dread it?

Answer:

There are many things that older people commonly fear: ill health, being alone in old age, not having enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement, having one's mind gradually grow feebler or even succumb to senile dementia or Alzheimer's, eventually becoming "invisible" to younger people and socially irrelevant, and more.

For me, the two most frightening prospects are widowhood and ill health.

David and I have been married since April 9, 1968, and we remain each other's best friends. Besides loving him more deeply than I have ever loved another person, I depend on him in innumerable ways. It is immensely comforting to me that his parents lived to the ages of 90 and  103, and that he himself is in excellent physical health at 72, with no signs of mental aging. I think it is very likely that he will outlive me.

If I were to lose David, I would be inexpressibly sad and scared, but I suppose I could adjust in time as long as I had decent health. The value of good health (or at least fairly good health) cannot be overestimated. I survived a bout of breast cancer in 1998 (and later wrote a book about the experience and its lessons), but I can't be sure that I won't get more cancer in the future.

My parents are both deceased, now. Their numerous ailments included heart trouble, osteoporosis, arthritis, breast cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and more. It is not a comforting legacy. I'm trying to take good care of my health, but it isn't ideal, and I can't help worrying, sometimes, about my physical future.

Question:

Comment on how our time's media, including the entertainment industry, generally picture the elderly.

Answer:

I have very mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, I don't much like how often old people, at least in comedies and some TV commercials, are portrayed as out of touch and rather childish, or prone to do stupid and embarrassing things.

On the other hand, I really don't care to see older models in clothing ads, and I most certainly don't want to see scenes of on-screen romance between people who are middle-aged or older. Let's face it: younger people, as long as they're physically fit, are much more attractive and a whole lot sexier.

That is not to say that an older person can't look really good for his or her age, and some do. Many movie actors and other entertainers are remarkably well preserved. But they are the exception, and quite unlike your average elderly person on the street or in a nursing home.

Yes, maturity can impart a wonderful look of wisdom, compassion, and even strength, especially if the person also has wealth, power, and influence. Those last three things can be quite sexy, particularly in men. But I find it beyond ridiculous when an actor in his seventies is being portrayed as an object of desire to an actress in her twenties or early thirties. I think they should leave the romance scenes to the younger folks and let the older actors portray other aspects of the human condition and life experience.

Question:

What is one thing we must remember when we see the first silver threads in our hair?

Answer:

Well, of course the first silver threads can appear at remarkably varied ages. I've known people who had pure white hair before they were 50, while others, like my late father-in-law, retain some dark hair into their nineties and beyond. I started getting a few gray hairs in my late thirties, whereas my red-haired husband, who now clips his hair almost invisibly short, had almost no gray hair at all in his mid-sixties.

I have to admit that I colored my hair for about a dozen years, but I stopped doing that when I got breast cancer at the age of 52. Sometimes I do miss the blond and then light brown hair of my youth, but most of the time, I really like my rapidly whitening hair, and I have received numerous compliments on how soft, shiny, and flattering it is.

If you start to go gray very young, I can understand the desire to try to hide that, with the goal of not looking too awfully different from your peers. But if you start to go gray in your forties or fifties, why not just accept that fact and let it happen? Why be afraid to be yourself? Dyeing your hair won't make you any younger, and as time goes by, it can look harsh and artificial. And if you are very old, dyed hair can even look rather pitiful, as well as pointless.

To me, accepting your gray hair, be you a man or a woman, is a powerful symbol of acceptance in general: of your own chronological age, of the fact that we all age, of the changes in our bodies that occur naturally as we age, of the fact that we are joining a new social stratum. And in my opinion, gray and then white hair can and often does impart its own special kind of beauty.

So don't hide the gray; embrace it! It is part of you. Let it be a symbol of your courage, your self-acceptance, as you go bravely forward into the next stage of your life.

Leonore H. Dvorkin, Denver, Colorado

Email: leonore@leonoredvorkin.com

Website: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com (books, articles, editing and publishing services, language lessons, and more)

Web page with full information about and excerpts from my breast cancer book, Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor's Journey (also in Spanish and audio): http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/brcan/index.php

Website of author Brian K. Nash: http://www.dvorkin.com/brianknash/ 

Brian is the author of four wonderful books for children and two books for teens and adults. Three of his books for children were illustrated by Glenda Felbush.

To read a shortened version of my article "Two Terrific Blind Guys and How I Came to Be Their Friend," go here: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/twobguys/index.php

Website of Loving Healing Press, for back issues of Recovering the Self magazine: http://www.lovinghealing.com/

***

WHAT HAPPENED TO PROPER DRESS?

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

In today's society, I find that more and more people disregard how important it is to dress for the occasion. There seems to be a degree of disrespect for where it is that these people go.

For example, many children go to school dressed as if they were at home or at a pajama party. Some of the girls wear very short dresses with tops that reveal their cleavage. Some boys wear shorts, have rings in their noses, and look as though they need a shower and shave. Obviously, these kids dress this way because parents and teachers allow it. Even some college professors go to work wearing flannel shirts and jeans.

As far as the court system is concerned, I've been told that several people have been seen in court wearing pajamas. How do you suppose the attorneys and judges feel about that? When you are in a courtroom, you should look as presentable as possible; if for no other reason, you need a little dignity to help you with your case.

Church is another place where there's a problem with dress codes. One day during a Catholic sermon, I was outraged when the priest addressed some of the mothers of children receiving their first communion. I wasn't outraged with the priest, but with the mothers. Many of these women were showing their cleavage in church, and the priest reminded them that not only did it set a poor example for their children, but it also enabled temptation.

I run a bowling league in my city. On numerous occasions, one of my bowlers went there wearing pajamas. When I asked her about it, she said it was more relaxing to wear them.

Where do you suppose this disrespectful attitude toward proper dress originated, and why? How does this attitude help maintain dignity, order, and discipline? Has it become too difficult to wear a suit, a long dress, dress pants, and shiny shoes? Is it so hard to take off your pajamas? Just where are we going?

***

A VISITATION FROM BUTTERFLIES

 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

When I see a butterfly in a summer field, it brings back a specific memory. The impressions are as vivid as they were nine years ago, when I witnessed something miraculous! My rare observation was not in warm weather, nor was it outside in a field of flowers. What I witnessed took place on a frigid winter day in a large urban hospital room in the Intensive Care Unit.

 I watched quietly while two butterflies played together in the stillness of thin air, as though time had vanished. This vision I saw happened unexpectedly, just a couple of months after I lost most of my eyesight to a rare disease. I had not yet had any rehabilitation or training and could no longer see my own face in a mirror.

 I lingered for hours at the bedside of our daughter, Heidi Melinda. She was in a medically induced coma following surgery to remove two cancers. She had ovarian and kidney cancers removed. But, after the surgery, it looked like she was in serious trouble. She was on life support, not breathing on her own. Her lungs were failing.

Heidi was motionless. Tubes sprouted out of her body, up to the ceiling or attached to machines on both sides of her bed. Watching over Heidi, I felt like I was living in a netherworld. I seemed to be viewing my daughter through a sheer gray curtain that no one could pass through. I felt helpless.

Heidi's coma lasted for two weeks. Nurses and doctors were at her side or directly outside her transparent room as they worked on the computers continuously.

I sat in a chair at the foot of her bed. My blurry eyes tried to focus on her. I realized suddenly that Heidi and I had two unexpected visitors. They did not come in through the door.

I watched in silence as two enormous butterflies emerged from the atmosphere near her feet. I saw them distinctly, in every detail and in full color. I saw them closer than I had ever seen a butterfly before that day. The brilliantly vibrant pair flew gently, gracefully, forward. They appeared to be playing with each other—as butterflies do when you see them gliding and hovering around the dancing blossoms in a field on a summer day.

These two butterflies were a deep red—crimson. Each one was the size of my hand. They were bright, velvety, and large. In all my life, I have never seen a butterfly as large as this mysterious pair. I watched them, and it was as though they were dancing together. Yet, the frolicking butterflies were the most normal scene I could ever experience.

I knew they were not ordinary butterflies! This was a miraculous moment, something from another time and place. Heidi's body became the field over which the butterflies zig-zagged back and forth. They moved so elegantly towards her head. I watched them for what felt like a long time, but I believe it was probably only seconds. The dance of the red butterflies was like an eternal moment, when time did not exist.

 They gave me hope for my daughter's recovery. I sensed that they were a pictorial symbol of the Holy Spirit. I felt an inner peace and divine assurance at that moment.

Spring sunshine brings us the beginning of flower gardens that will turn into a riot of vibrant colors we will enjoy until the end of the autumn season.

 Time passes, though, and in our joy of the moment, we are unaware when the days begin growing shorter. Months and years pass. We barely notice the changes. The glorious dance of the butterflies, insects, and wildflowers gradually changes. There is a final time of blazing colors when everything intensifies. Autumn, we'll recall, brought a different kind of landscape to our vision. It was a beauty, more intense than our summer days had been.

 Sometimes a person will mention how they suddenly saw a butterfly that appeared unexpectedly after a loved one died. They appear without warning, and often they fly around a person. One friend told me how she experienced a head butting from a butterfly one day. It was as though the delicate insect was trying to get attention. It seems the butterfly is trying to communicate with a human. Butterflies arrive in pairs at times. I wonder if they are exceptionally bright and larger than life. Do they appear to be so otherworldly, like you could not possibly miss seeing them? In my experience, I knew for sure they were not of this world.

Traditionally, it is believed that butterflies are harbingers of renewal, transformation, healing. Since that day when I saw the butterflies, I began to use the motif in some of my art works. It's an ancient symbol, with deep roots as a metaphor in folklore and the narrative accounts of antiquity. Inspiration and ideas flow or surround us as we seem to stand in an invisible, yet powerfully present, landscape.

Many writers from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds speak of the awareness of divinity they experience when they reflect on nature.

Throughout Christian history, there has always been a theme of recognizing the work of God when we view nature.

One of the most memorable hymns of all time is "How Great Thou Art." Second stanza:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze; 

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee;

How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

People of all ages expressed thoughts about butterflies.

The Mandarin Chinese word for butterfly means "70 years." Therefore, in their culture, butterflies are a symbol of a long life.

Japanese culture says the butterfly is thought to be representative of maidens and marital bliss. Many Japanese families use the butterfly image in the family crest design.

Germans' unique belief is that butterflies can often be found hovering around milk pails or butter churns. The German word for butterfly is "Schmetterling." This is one of my favorite German words! It's actually derived from the Czech word, "smetana," meaning "cream."

 In literature we find numerous references to butterflies from ancient times to the present.

Traces of butterfly imagery are deeply ingrained in western civilization. Ancient Greeks believed a butterfly was the soul of someone who had died. Their word for butterfly is "psyche."  Translated, it means "soul."

Early Greek art features images of butterflies on vases. Butterflies are featured in their mythological tales. It is recognition of the presence of a soul. We are more than a physical body; we possess a soul that is invisible and eternal. We can read from the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis, that humans were created to live in a beautiful garden and to tend it. We were created to be friends with God; we were made to live forever with God.

We can find references to the butterfly as a soul in the lore of Russia and Ireland. There, the butterflies are always symbolic of a celebration and resurrection.

One important aspect of Christian faith is the hope of resurrection. The symbol of the butterfly is an important image to Christians. You will find this image used particularly at Easter, when we think of the life cycle of the butterfly. We get the picture that signifies how Jesus was put to death and after three days, he arose. Every person who has accepted Jesus into his/her life is filled with the resurrection power of Christ.

At Christian funerals and memorial services, there will usually be references to a butterfly as an example of how we all will shed our body at death, and then we will come alive again with Christ. But, this symbol existed long before Christianity. We find it through pagan history, too, and of course it is a familiar theme in almost all mythology. Resurrection is a recurring theme in many myths and cultures, as I have explained. I think all faith traditions embrace the butterfly as something very special.

 Let's take a look at 1st Corinthians and we'll find a marvelous promise.

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

Don't be surprised if one day you see a shimmering butterfly flying around you in an unusual way. It could be a time when you feel helpless or broken, like I did. It may happen at a time when you least expect a visitation or are thinking nobody cares about you. Just smile!

 Heidi remains free of ovarian and kidney cancers.

***

 

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

by Penny Fleckenstein

It's been a cold, snowy February. Let's not fool ourselves. On Christmas, while experiencing a warm, breezy day, when I gladly took the bus home from downtown, I knew winter was coming—just as I know that spring will predictably arrive sometime. Seasons come with the territory. I'm still not used to them after all these years of living in America.

But, believe it or not, what I relish is finding a new tool, no matter what the weather is outside. My enthusiasm swells with the joy of finding just one more thing that makes my life less complicated. I introduce to you: the Scotchbrite Dish Wand! It's a plastic handle with a cap on it. You unscrew the cap and pour dish soap into the handle. It also comes with a scrubby sponge. The scrubby sponge detaches when you determine it's worn out, and you can attach a brand new scrubby sponge to the handle. There's a button you push when you want dish soap to saturate the scrubby sponge.

I brought one home from Target for a little under $4 and used it on my dishes. My fingernails thank me. I also brought home some refills. But, that wasn't enough! I had to search for another one when I went to Kmart, and I use that one for my bath tub. As I come to the end of my bath, I scrub it out with my soap-filled dish wand, and then I push the button on the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner, which I have hanging up on my showerhead. Who knew something so simple could make such a big difference in my life?

Other tools that have made a big difference in my life are as follows:

The apple corer. It is a circle which is divided into eight sections, with a circle in the center. You properly center it on top of an apple and press down with both hands. You have one perfectly sliced and cored apple, perfect for dipping into caramel or peanut butter or just enjoying plain.

The apple corer/slicer from Pampered Chef. You clamp this onto a table or counter, place an apple on the spindle, and adjust the circular peeling blade, which fits snuggly next to the apple. As you turn the crank, the apple spins and cores and slices at the same time. It's wonderful for making slices for applesauce or apple pie.

The one-touch can opener, which takes two AA batteries.You place it on top of a can, push a button, and it opens your cans smoothly and effortlessly. I make a habit of changing my batteries in it once a month. Make sure you buy the real one, which costs about $20. I made the mistake of buying the cheap imitation, which broke very quickly, and I haven't gotten around to replacing it yet.

The George Foreman Grill comes in all different sizes, and you can find one that fits your family's needs. It has grooves on both the top grill and the bottom one. It closes over your food that you want to cook, eliminating the need to flip things over. There is a grease tray you place in front of the grill that fills with grease as your items are cooking. You remove this tray when your food is done. You place your plate right in front, and you use a plastic tool fitted for the grooves to push the cooked food, minus the grease, off the grill and onto your plate. We use this to make grilled cheese sandwiches; grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast; fried potatoes; and burritos. You can even buy specially grooved sponges to clean it with, and cleanup is easier when you throw some wet paper towels on it and close it up while it's still hot. The George Foreman Grill can quickly become a blind person's best friend.

Speaking of friends, my friend Carrol from church tells me that she keeps a pot of boiling water on the stove from morning to night. She refills it with water several times a day so it doesn't become dry. It fills the air with humidity and keeps her healthier. I asked her why she doesn't use humidifiers, and she told me they collect too much mold and are hard to keep clean. I imagine that you could throw in some orange peel and cinnamon sticks for a good smelling house.

If you have other tools and techniques to share with me that I can include in future Tips For Vips, please email me at goodthaimom@gmail.com Happy anticipation of the arrival of spring!

***

MARCH RECIPE COLUMN

by Karen Crowder

 March is a month of transition. It signals the end of wintry days and the beginning of spring. Across New England, we hear songbirds. If the weather is exceptionally mild, crocuses,  daffodils, and forsythias begin blooming. March 2016 has two holidays, Saint Patrick's Day, which is March 17th, and Easter, on March 27th.

Macaroni and cheese is a favorite dish at our annual church chowder festival. It is on Friday night during Lent, often in March. Easter is a season of renewal and celebration. I hope these recipes help readers plan delicious dishes for Lent andEaster. 

Contents:

1) Delicious Macaroni and Cheese

2) Blueberry Coffee Cake

3) Old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

(Proofreader's note: Although all these recipes are in this one article, I have separated them by putting three asteriks after each one.) 

***

1) Delicious Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese was the first casserole I learned to make successfully. Although it was similar to my mom's, with a white sauce, mine evolved over the years. Guests love my macaroni and cheese because of its creamy, cheesy texture and the buttery crumb topping.

Ingredients:

3 cups whole or 2% milk

6 tablespoons soft butter or tub margarine

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Eight slices of American cheese

Six ounces sharp cheddar cheese

A small hunk of Velveeta cheese (optional)

Two slices bread

Four tablespoons real butter

Two and a half cups elbow macaroni

 

Method:

In a large saucepan or double boiler, melt the six tablespoons of butter or margarine on low heat. After five minutes, add flour. Blend mixture for 30 seconds with a wire whisk until it is smooth. Turn off heat and add milk. On low heat, stir sauce infrequently with wire whisk for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a lock-lid or regular saucepan half full of water. Add a little salt; salt will prevent macaroni from sticking to a saucepan. When water begins to boil, add macaroni. Let macaroni boil for eight minutes. Turn off heat and drain macaroni into colander. if you own a lock-lid saucepan, tip it over; the water will drain easily. Fill colander or pan with cold water, draining  macaroni again.

Pour cooled macaroni into a well-buttered five-quart casserole dish. 

After 25 minutes, white sauce (above) should have a creamy, smooth texture. Break up cheddar, American, and Velveeta cheese in a small bowl. Add it to the simmering sauce. The cheeses should melt in seven minutes. Stir it; the sauce should have a lovely, smooth, cheesy flavor. To test for this, taste a small amount with a metal spoon. If it is not cheesy enough, add more cheddar or American cheese.

Turn off heat. With a one-cup measure, scoop out cheese sauce, pouring it over the macaroni. Stir with a plastic or wooden spoon, making sure cheese sauce is incorporated all through the macaroni.

Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put half a stick of butter into another bowl. Toast the bread. If you have a toaster oven, put it on bake and lightly butter the bread. Toast lightly for only two minutes. Break bread into small pieces, mixing in the bowl with the butter. Sprinkle buttery crumb mixture over top of macaroni and cheese.

Bake macaroni and cheese on low rack of oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

This should serve two people, with generous portions for another day. Everyone will be asking, "Where did you get this recipe?" A green salad and light dessert go well with this. Macaroni and cheese also makes an excellent side dish with breaded fish fillets or ham.

***

2) Blueberry Coffee Cake

The original recipe for this coffee cake comes from Betty Crocker. I changed it, adding flour and more leaveners to the batter. I also added eggs and cinnamon. This topping also has more sugar, flour, and butter. This makes a delicious Easter treat for breakfast or a light dessert. For three years, I took the blueberry coffee cake to my friend Marian's house each Easter Sunday. It was a delicious accompaniment to coffee at breakfast.  

Ingredients:

One-cup Bisquick

One cup all-purpose or cake flour

One teaspoon baking powder

One teaspoon baking soda

One teaspoon cinnamon

Two eggs

One cup milk

Two tablespoons sugar

Two tablespoons melted butter

 One and one-half cups either fresh or frozen blueberries

Topping:

One half to three fourths cup light brown sugar

One quarter cup flour

Three quarters stick butter

Two heaping teaspoons cinnamon

 

Method: 

In a large mixing bowl, measure out all dry ingredients. Stir them with a wire whisk for 30 seconds. Microwave butter in small dish for 30 seconds. Make a well in the dry ingredients, adding milk, cooled butter, and beaten eggs. Stir with a wooden or plastic stirring spoon; it will take two minutes. Stir in floured blueberries. Let the mixture stand while preparing the topping.

In another bowl, blend butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together with clean hands until streusel mixture is blended. Grease and lightly flour bottom and sides of a glass or metal nine-inch cake pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With a one-cup measure, scoop half of cake batter into the pan. Make sure batter is spread around the greased and floured pan. Sprinkle some topping mixture over it. Measure the rest of the coffee cake batter across the entire cake pan. For a festive touch, pour a tablespoon of melted butter over the coffee cake before adding the topping.

 Bake blueberry coffee cake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Everyone I have served this to loves it. This recipe was previously published in the 2012 Easter edition of Matilda Ziegler Magazine.

***

3) Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

 Nothing says spring like fresh strawberries and old-fashioned biscuit shortcake. Topped with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, it is a wonderful Easter dessert. Kids and adults love this. I learned to make this successfully when married to Marshall; for several years, it was a favorite Easter dessert. The biscuit recipe is from the 1971 edition of Joy of Cooking and the 1984 Fannie Farmer baking book. I use less sugar for the strawberries and more butter for the shortcake biscuits.

Ingredients:

One quart fresh strawberries

One half cup sugar

Biscuits:

Six tablespoons salted butter

Six tablespoons sugar

Two cups all-purpose or cake flour

Two teaspoons baking powder

One teaspoon baking soda

One half cup milk

One quarter cup half-and-half or light cream.

Method:

Rinse and cut strawberries into quarters, removing leaves and stems. Place fruit in a small metal bowl, adding the sugar. When standing, strawberries will incorporate the sweetness of the sugar.

In another mixing bowl, measure dry ingredients. Stir them with a wire whisk for a minute. Add butter and blend mixture until it is incorporated. Add milk and cream. Mix batter with a wooden spoon for two minutes. With a tablespoon, scoop biscuit dough and form drop biscuits on foil-lined cookie sheet. Pour a tablespoon of melted butter over the biscuits. You will have 15 biscuits.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 Bake biscuits for 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven. Let them cool and add the strawberries.

Although I preferred the shortcake plain, many kids and adults alike love strawberry shortcake with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

A hungry family might finish this dessert on Easter Sunday.

Note: the biscuits can be served warm with butter and jam for breakfast or as a snack.

You can make the biscuits Easter morning and refrigerate them, storing them in a Ziplock bag.

This recipe was published in Matilda Ziegler in the May 2013 issue.

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SPECIAL NOTICES

A Few Moments in Time, by Howard A. Geltman

C 2011 / 231 pages / In e-book and print on Amazon and other online sites

To read a sample and/or to order, go to: http://www.dvorkin.com/howardgeltman/

Summary:

A Few Moments in Time is a wistful, emotion-filled memoir of a boyhood and adolescence spent at a Connecticut school for the blind in the 1960s and early ‘70s. The author provides us with a detailed picture of his youthful past, complete with pains and pranks, and then a snapshot of his impressive achievements in adulthood. Honest, funny, informative, and often deeply moving, this is a tale of the triumph of determination over disability. The striking cover photo was taken by a blind student, Matt Langer.

Review quotes:

"Howard Geltman allows the reader deep into his soul. He shows us that no matter how difficult the road may be, there is always hope."

"Howard captures a piece of precious time and has told it so well that I felt I was there."

"This special memoir glows with warmth, affection, and compassion."

For another excellent book about life at a school for the blind, see My Home Away from Home, by Robert Branco. Details: http://www.dvorkin.com/robertbranco/

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READERS' FORUM

Concerning THE ALBATROSS AND THE CRUCIBLE, by James R. Campbell, in the February 2016 Consumer Vision Magazine:

It doesn't detract from my dignity to need help in any way; my dignity stems from being a person, and we are all meant to help one another.

Yes, I stick with obtaining help from people I know, and it can be inconvenient if no one is around when you need help. Why not have an insurance agent with whom you can speak whenever needed, and that person can read numbers, and you can either use large print to write them or you can record or Braille them? The HIPAA regulations may make it impossible legally for the government to Braille such personal info as card numbers. I know that I have had companies tell me that they cannot provide me with my credit card number over the phone when a new card is issued. I have my financial helper give that to me and I Braille it.

Beth Terranova

***

Dear Bob, Terri, and the rest of the Consumer Vision team,

Thanks a lot for the January issue; I always look forward to reading your magazine from my place here in Namibia.

I really can relate to Terri's annoyance at the "phone the number on your screen" advertising tactic often followed by companies who should know better.

In fact, the amount of air time wasted in telling the consumer about the number on the screen can be exchanged second for second in actually reading the number out loud, imposing no additional effort or expense.

Additionally, even the sighted community would be more responsive, as a lot of people such as homemakers, etc. leave their television playing in the background while performing other tasks. The TV becomes a type of background noise companion, with the viewer often not looking at the screen nor being in a place to quickly glance up to see the phantom phone number.

Call this a marketing disaster or plain ignorance. I'll leave that to you to decide!

Jens Naumann

***

Hi, all readers of Consumer Vision! Patty Fletcher here!

 A few issues back, I noted a reader who claimed that Apple products are not accessible. I dare to correct. Please see below, and also note I am a user of the iPhone 6.

___

This information came to me through Friday's Finds from Dan's Tips, provided by Dan Thompson, and his source is listed.

Apple Accessibility: Web Resources and the Accessibility Support Phone Number

Most people know about the core products offered by Apple—iphone, iPads, and Macs. Those of us who utilize accessibility features to use these devices may benefit from the vast resources Apple offers, some of which, at least, may not be familiar to many.

That Apple develops their products with accessibility in mind is evident by the fact that accessibility features are built directly into all of their products. Apple notes that not only are accessibility features included; accessibility principles also are built in, since accessibility features work the same way across Apple products and apps.

Their accessibility resources, however, are immense. If you navigate to www.apple.com/accessibility, you find radio buttons for overview, vision, hearing, physical and motor skills, and learning and literacy. Choosing one of these radio buttons highlights Apple's accessibility features pertaining to that disability. Additionally on the same page are links for accessibility features built specifically into OS X, Apple's operating system for the Mac, iOS, the operating system for iPhones and iPads, tvOS, the Apple TV operating system, and Apple Watch accessibility. Apple also provides a special e-mail address for accessibility questions and inquiries, accessibility@apple.com.

Finally on their support page, https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201232, they provide a special number for visually or hearing impaired customers to call for accessibility concerns. If you call 1-877-204-3930, you reach a support specialist who is trained to handle accessibility inquiries and to fix problems with Apple devices from an accessibility perspective. Personally I have called because of problems with iCloud, Apple music, and my iPhone and have received excellent service. Representatives are available 24 hours a day except for certain holidays like Christmas. Please note that this department does not handle sales inquiries; you would still call the regular Apple sales number 1-800-MYAPPLE (1-800-692-7753) for sales questions.

Contributed from Fred's Head Blog

Patty L. Fletcher

Author, Motivational Speaker, and Nonprofit Consultant

http://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

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CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the February Consumer Vision. Martin Luther King's birth name was Michael. Congratulations to the following winners:

Volly Nelson of Reidsville, Georgia

David Faucheux of Lafayette, Louisiana

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Elizabeth Slaughter of Bemidji, Minnesota

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Roanna Bacchus of Orlando, Florida

Marcy Segelman of West Roxbury, Massachusetts

Chad Grover of Corning, New York

Ruby Alphonse of Bangalore, India

And now, here is your trivia question to conclude this issue of Consumer Vision.

Which well known president of the United States said, "Read my lips"? If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.

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CONCLUDING NOTE FROM THE PROOFREADER

As always, I proofread this issue very carefully and made several corrections as to spelling, punctuation, and spacing. In a few places, I did some slight editing. If any of you authors are ever unhappy with my work, please contact me directly, and I will put a correction into the next month's issue.

I do my best for you, and I consider it a pleasure and privilege to work with and for you.

Sincerely,

Leonore Dvorkin

Email: leonore@leonoredvorkin.com

Website: www.leonoredvorkin.com (Editing, publishing assistance, language lessons, and more)

Home phone: 303-985-2327