THE CONSUMER VISION

November 2015

 

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

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Website: www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Email: bobbranco93@gmail.com

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader: Leonore H. Dvorkin

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Each item in this section will be separated from the author"s name by three asterisks: ***

For your convenience, three asterisks will also be placed between each article to make using your find feature easier.

 

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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER *** by Bob Branco

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

LOSING MY SIGHT IN IRAN GAVE ME INSIGHT INTO AMERICA *** by Lauren Casey and Jalil Mortazavi  

MIGRATING TO THE WIDER WORLD *** by James R.  Campbell

THE BIG QUESTION *** Compiled by Bob Branco

ARE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES MET WITH NEGATIVITY FROM REHAB COUNSELORS? *** by Bob Branco

THE WINDS OF INTEGRATION *** by James R. Campbell

WHAT GRINDS YOUR GEARS? *** Compiled by Bob Branco

TIPS FOR VIPS *** by Penny Fleckenstein

READERS' FORUM *** Compiled by Bob Branco

THE CAPACITY BY EXAMPLE *** by James R. Campbell

THE RING *** by John Justice

SPECIAL NOTICES *** Compiled by Bob Branco

BUILDING ON THE ROOF *** by Ernest Jones

PUPPEE, A LOYAL FRIEND *** by John Justice

CAMPBELL"S RAMBLES #15:  PROSPERITY IN THE FACE OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE *** by Patty L. Fletcher

CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST *** by Bob Branco

 

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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER

 

Dear Consumer Vision subscribers,

 

First, I would like to thank you for your continued interest in our magazine. After all, the readers are what make Consumer Vision important. 

 

I am writing to let you know about two new features that are being added as of this edition. Both features welcome dialog with our readers, which will enhance the entire Consumer Vision community. The first feature is called "The Big Question." In each edition of Consumer Vision, I will be asking a question which you can respond to in your own way. When you answer, you do not have to attach your name to your response unless you want to. Please email me at: bobbranco93@gmail.com .

 

Our second new feature is entitled "What Grinds Your Gears?" This feature includes problems that you may be facing as consumers. What I am hoping is that when other subscribers read about your problem, they might be able to lend support or find a way to help you solve it. For example, maybe you purchased an adaptive product for the blind with no accessible instructions.  Perhaps you've been receiving annoying telemarketing calls. Maybe you are involved in a dispute with a neighbor. You can submit your problem to me at bobbranco93@gmail.com , and I will include it in Consumer Vision. You can use your name if you want, but you don't have to.

 

At this time, I would like to introduce you to Consumer Vision's new proofreader, Leonore H. Dvorkin, and her author husband, David Dvorkin. Leonore and David have lived in Denver since 1971. They are both much-published authors, with a total of 31 books, both fiction and nonfiction, to their credit. Four of those books are by Leonore. David has written mainly science fiction and horror novels, including three Star Trek novels, but also some nonfiction. Leonore also tutors Spanish, German, and English and teaches exercise classes in her home. She holds two B.A. degrees in languages. David is a retired computer programmer and technical writer. He also spent seven years as an aerospace engineer, working on five of the Apollo lunar landing missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s and on the Viking Mars lander mission in the early 1970s. 

 

Since 2009, Leonore and David have been helping other authors self-publish their books. They edit the books very thoroughly, design the covers, and then have the books published in e-book and print. Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords are the three publishers and main sales outlets. The Dvorkins even provide their editing clients with free, book-related Web pages that are hosted on David"s website. Since 2009, they have edited and produced 25 books, both fiction and nonfiction, by other authors. Most of their editing clients are blind. Leonore edited three of my own four books. 

 

Leonore is also willing to edit shorter things, such as articles, essays, short stories, and letters. Her charge is $25 per hour, $20 per hour if the client is disabled and/or low income, with a minimum charge of $15. She can accept payment via personal check, money order, or PayPal.

 

In addition to editing books, Leonore has now taken on the job of being the final proofreader for The Consumer Vision. She has also edited several editions of a lengthy monthly newsletter put out by Patty L. Fletcher; the title of that is The Neighborhood News. Patty is the author of an autobiographical book titled Campbell"s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life (© 2014). It is for sale on Amazon in e-book and print formats and is highly recommended. Details are at www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/

 

To learn more about Leonore's work, go to www.leonoredvorkin.com

David's website is www.dvorkin.com

 

Bob Branco

 

 

 

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

 

Dear readers,

 

When I was a Girl Scout in elementary school, I remember singing a very simple song called "Make New Friends." Sung as a round, the words were: "Make new friends, but keep the old:  One is silver, and the other gold." Every time we have a new contributor, I am reminded of those simple yet meaningful lyrics. Within the context of that philosophy, I would like to welcome our newest contributor, Deon Lyon. I had the blessing of meeting Deon in 2011 when I joined Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities. As a prolific writer who continues to overcome many challenges, Deon is a true asset to any publication for which he writes, so here's hoping that he'll be a regular contributor to Consumer Vision.

 

Also to be heartily welcomed are Jens Naumann, whose incredible journey was fascinating to read about, and Susan Jones, who I hope has many more flourishing vegetable gardens if she wants.  Just as I warmly welcome all of our new contributors, so, too, do I want to continue to acknowledge our regular writers, even though not all of them had items for this issue. When they do, though, I commend them for sending nothing but writing of the highest quality.

 

This being the November issue, I want to wish our American readers a Happy Thanksgiving and our Canadian readers a belated Happy Thanksgiving. I would love to hear from more international readers about whether they have a holiday equivalent to our Thanksgiving, and if so, when that celebration occurs.

 

Take care, be well, and thanks for reading with me.

 

Terri Winaught, Consumer Vision Editor

 

To offer feedback, you are welcome to call 412-263-2022 or email me at:  t.winaught@verizon.net .  When giving feedback, let this editor know if she and the publisher may use your comments in the Readers' Forum.

 

 

 

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 LOSING MY SIGHT IN IRAN GAVE ME INSIGHT INTO AMERICA

 by Lauren Casey and Jalil Mortazavi 

 

As a result of a car accident in my home country of Iran, I lost my eyesight. I had several surgeries, both in Iran and Germany, but they were unsuccessful. It was recommended that I travel to a Boston eye and ear hospital in America. I was told that this choice would be the best hope if I was going to regain my eyesight. I believed I had two options: either stay at home and depend on my family to take care of me, never leaving the house and being depressed without any future, or take the opportunity of going to America and living my dream of a real future.

 

I arrived in Boston on a cold and windy day in January of 1976. I was 20 years old and America was celebrating her 200th birthday. There were bicentennial celebrations going on all over the U.S. Walking down the street in Boston, I thought the wind was going to tear me apart. I remember thinking, How does anybody survive in this cold and wind? However, everyone was very nice and kind to me, even though I could not verbally communicate with them.

 

The surgery which was performed was also not successful, but rehabilitation therapy was suggested. I decided that this was my only option to go forward. I have some wonderful memories of experiences while I was in the hospital. One of the nurses with whom I became friendly came to my room one evening to take me to an examination room in order for the doctor to check my eyes. When I was sitting on the exam table waiting for the doctor, this nurse hugged me from the back and picked up my hand and put it on her breast. I remember thinking that this is why everybody likes to come to America. I also do not have to tell you how I was feeling about this experience. 

 

Another nurse who attended Park Street Church in Boston told my story at church. Park Street also had the International Student Association, and the director of this association, a man named Joe, came to visit me while I was in the hospital. I could speak Turkish and so did Joe. Joe helped me with interpreting and assisted with breaking through the language barrier. 

 

When I left the hospital, Joe took me to meet Mr. and Mrs. Fritz. This was the host family at Park Street Church and the family who were to have me live with them. Mr. and Mrs. Fritz had three children: twin girls, who were two and a half years old, and a boy who was three and a half.

On Sundays I would go to Park Street with them. They would go to the church services and I would attend the meeting with the international students. I began to learn English there.

I also met several Iranian students who were sighted. These students visited me at the Fritz home.

 

Mrs. Fritz taught me the sighted guide method before I ever knew what it was. She showed me all around my room and other places around their home. I had known how to get around my surroundings back in Iran, but this was totally new to me. I knew then that Mrs. Fritz knew my situation better than I did at that time. 

 

Mrs. Fritz allowed me to babysit her children two days a week. I made peanut butter sandwiches for them. Mrs. Fritz also had me do some chores in the kitchen such as washing dishes, etc. One very memorable day, Mrs. Fritz told me that she would not be able to pick her kids up from school. She handed me a piece of paper and explained that it was a note for the teacher. I was to go in a cab to pick up the kids for her. I was to hand this note to the cab driver and he would give it to the teacher at school. The kids and I would then ride back home in the cab. After she left for work, I sat with this note in my hand and thought to myself: What a country! What a system, one in which everything can be arranged so easily!  

 

Mrs. Fritz left for work and I sat there with this note in my hand. I thought to myself, how could she believe in me and trust me with her kids? I thought to myself that Mrs. Fritz must be dumb or  simpleminded if she could trust a blind, 20-year-old foreigner with limited English to pick up her kids from school. But Mrs. Fritz was not dumb at all. She was a professor at Boston University, teaching graduate-level rehabilitation nursing. Mr. Fritz was a professor of engineering at a local college in Boston.

 

I knew then that Mrs. Fritz knew me better and had more confidence in me than I had in myself. Mrs. Fritz told everybody that I was smart and perceptive and had a good sense of humor. She said I was especially good with kids and knew how to make them laugh.

 

When I was ready, Mrs. Fritz took me to the Carroll Center for the Blind to be enrolled in a 16- week training program. Here I learned cane travel and other daily living skills. I learned to use some adaptive equipment and how to travel independently. I was then able to go anywhere I wanted by myself, by walking with a cane and taking buses and trains. I met others there who were worse off than I was and others who were better off. At first I went home on the weekends, but after a while, I stayed there at the Carroll Center for the duration of the program.

 

The Fritz family offered me the opportunity to live out my dream and go forward with my future. They say that history repeats itself, but not exactly. The experience of that memorable cab ride over 30 years ago remains fresh in my mind today.

 

Thirty-four years later, I am married and the father of a five-year-old daughter. We live just five minutes away from where the Fritz family formerly lived, and my daughter attends the same school. My wife is sighted and she walks our daughter to school every day. I sometimes go along with them.

 

I often ponder this question: If I were in Mrs. Fritz's situation, would I have trusted a newly blinded young man from another country and culture with taking care of her kids? To this day, I still do not know what I would do. What about you?

 

Note:  Jalil ("Jay") Mortazavi is the author of the autobiographical book From Iran to America: Changes, Choices, and Challenges, © 2013. It is for sale on Amazon in e-book and print formats. Details are at: www.dvorkin.com/jalilmortazavi/

 

 

 

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MIGRATION TO THE WIDER WORLD

by James R. Campbell

 © August 2015

               

The modern laptop of 2015 has afforded the blind person many opportunities that were unavailable before. A wider world of possibilities now exists for the blind person who has the money for a computer and the patience to use one.

 

Back in 2007, I was offered a desktop computer by a friend who lived in a town some three and a half hours away from my hometown of Odessa, Texas. The man who owned it was dying, and his girlfriend wanted to give it to someone. I wasn't sure that I wanted a computer. I didn't know the first thing about one, and besides, we didn't have room for a desktop.

 

My TSB classmate Lawrence Anderson tried his best to talk me into taking the desktop. "It will change your life! A whole new world will open for you if you ever get your hands on one."

 

However, my friend didn't want the hard drives to fall into the wrong hands, so his girlfriend destroyed those at his request. That meant that I would wait another four and a half years for a computer.

 

Like many blind persons, I had questions. How would I learn to use one? I have no dealings with voc rehab, and I prefer to keep it that way. Who would set it up, and who would help me if it ever crashed?

 

These questions would filter through my mind time and time again. Every time I thought about a computer, the whole panoply would resurface.

 

I joined the Permian Basin Poetry Society on June 13, 2009. This is a group of poets in our area. I couldn't help but wonder how I would get any of my poems printed. I had entered a contest that year, and my friend Kathryn Kopeland helped me by printing the poems as I read the Braille copies to her.

 

There has to be a better way, I thought. This approach won't work. I know she doesn't mind printing my poems for the anthologies and the contests, but is it fair to her?

 

The obvious answer was no, yet I remained a part of the Permian Basin Poetry Society. I participated in poetry readings at the local theater along with sighted peers, who treated me as one of the guys. My blindness was never an issue with them. It was an issue with me, however. I did not feel that I was a full participant in the group. But I realized that my problem had nothing to do with blindness; it was the lack of a means of full participation. The change would involve a change in thinking. A computer seemed more appealing after I joined the Poetry Society. 

 

My aunt bought her Toshiba laptop on December 1, 2011. Up until that time, she had used my sister's computer to take care of annual tasks for her daycare job. But my sister died on November 19, 2011, so my aunt decided to buy a computer. And once again, my best friend tried his best to persuade me that I would benefit greatly from a computer of my own.

 

Finally, an old friend named Evelyn Hopkins talked me into giving it serious thought. It was February 4, 2012. This time, I thought I might be ready. I checked into several places that sold computers to the blind at reduced cost. The local Area Base for Living Enrichment offered me a free, refurbished desktop. My aunt offered to clean off the desk for me. But that posed two problems. She would have to give up her lift chair, and my cousins would expect her to sit in her lift chair when they came over. They are small, and used to familiarity. I could not bring myself to accept her offer.

 

And so it was that we began searching for a laptop that was on sale. Finally, on February 19th, my aunt saw one in the paper. It was at Target. I was hoping that I could get credit at Target, if only for that reason. I really wanted a laptop if I could afford it. I didn't have the money to buy it outright, even though this was my preference.

 

During that week, I used my morning and evening meditation sessions to visualize going through the steps that would be required to learn the computer if I managed to snag the one they had on sale.

 

And so the big day came: February 25, 2012. Before we left home, I gave myself two very important instructions: Don't be disappointed if the credit application falls through, and don't jump at the first thing that you see if they don't have the laptop that's right for you. 

 

We drove across town to the Target store. I was in luck. My credit application was accepted, and my computer was on sale. When I left the store that day, I was the proud owner of a Gateway laptop.

 

On February 28th, a friend of Evelyn Hopkins came over to the house. With help from Lawrence Anderson, he got NVDA installed on my laptop. But there was a snag; when I tried to type on it, I would run across the mouse pad, and that would throw Windows apps open, apps that I didn't use. If too many apps were open, the mouse froze, and the computer couldn't be used. Another blind classmate named Stanley Smith had some advice; I needed a USB keyboard. On March 9, 2012, Evelyn's friend came to the house with an external mouse and the USB keyboard. Finally, I was home free.

 

Within two days, I had free Internet radio, but more importantly, I could participate in the Permian Basin Poetry Society on terms of full equality with my sighted peers. My friend Kathryn read one of my poems at the Unitarian Universalist church in Midland on August 11, 2012. 

 

I have since had three poem collections recorded on CD by the Recording Library of West Texas in Midland. For free downloads of the poems, visit www.Recordinglibrary.org .

 

I have another poem collection in print that has not yet been sent to the library, and I am busily working on an even larger project.

 

I am a member of the Behind Our Eyes group, a group for writers with disabilities. I have several poems in various anthologies, including Permian Basin and Beyond, © 2014, which is a part of 100,000 Poets & Artists for Change.

 

I use my laptop to keep up with family and friends via email. When Kathryn was sick in 2013, email saved the day; without it, I would have had no contact with her at all.

 

And time and time again, Lawrence Anderson has been there to help me learn the steps, just as I visualized them. He and his friends have been invaluable; I never would have made it this far without them. Also, members of the Microsoft Disability Answer Team, 1-800-936-5900, have been instrumental in helping me walk through various tasks.

 

My laptop is a research tool, as well. My cousin's sister-in-law has ITP, a condition that develops when the body's immune system destroys blood platelets. What did I do? I went and looked it up on Google.

 

I have hundreds of books that I have downloaded from the NLS website. When I download a book, I keep it. Who knows? I might refer to it later.

 

It didn't take me long to figure out that Lawrence was right; the laptops I've had have changed my life. This has truly been a migration to a wider world, and I have enjoyed every minute. I would like nothing better than for more blind people who want a laptop to have and enjoy the same privilege I have enjoyed since February of 2012.

 

 

  

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 THE BIG QUESTION

by Bob Branco

 

Here is the question that some of our readers have responded to. When blind people apply for jobs, should they tell their prospective employers about their blindness prior to the interview?  Here are responses from some of our readers.

 

(Proofreader's note: For the letters below, I made a few minor corrections as to spelling and punctuation. I did not change any writer's basic message. - Leonore Dvorkin)

 

Hi, Bob.

 

I think people should tell the interviewer they are blind before the interview. That way, the applicant can"t be accused of holding things back, and if the employer thinks there will be a problem, they can tell the applicant and then save the hassle of the applicant having to go to the interview.

 

Jan Colby

 

 

Hi, Bob.

 

I would like to address the question of whether or not to disclose one's blindness prior to a job interview. It is my belief that one should be up front. By letting the person know of your blindness, there will be no awkwardness, no uncomfortable situations, and no surprises. Both sides will be well prepared. I also think this shows a potential employer that you are a confident, organized, and independent person. This is what I did when I went for my first interview as a blind person. I was hired for a six-month, paid, part-time internship. Come January 2016, it will be five years since my first day.

 

Karen Santiago 

 

Hi, Bob.

 

Firstly, the decision of whether or not to disclose one's disability before the interview is a very personal one. I would disclose for the following reasons.

 

My total blindness is not at all a hidden disability. When I walk into that interview, I'll have either a white cane or a guide dog with me. Interviewers hate surprises.

 

If a prospective employer had a problem with my disability, I doubt I would really want that job, because there would always be a level of discomfort on the part of the employer which would make my experience there very likely to be an unpleasant one.

 

A fair bit of my skills and experience revolve around blindness and disability. If I removed all traces of disability from my résumé, there wouldn't be a whole lot left. I ran a Braille printing shop for eight years, am former president and current board member of the Bay State Council of the Blind, and am a founding member of the Disability Policy Consortium.

 

Bob Hachey

 

Dear Bob,

 

No, blind people should not have to disclose their blindness prior to the interview when applying for a job. When I applied for my internship at the Center for Distributed Learning at UCF, my employers all knew that I was blind. I was recommended for this position by another worker who is blind and worked with them at the time.

 

Roanna Bacchus

 

Hi, Bob.

 

That depends on the particular circumstances of the job application. In my opinion, if you are qualified for the position in question and it isn't too difficult for you to reach the potential employer, it isn't necessary to inform the recruiter of your blindness. Legally, that kind of discrimination shouldn't happen. But let's get real. In many cases, it still exists. So, for that kind of situation, when the job posting is on line or shown as an advertisement, I wouldn't inform the potential employer if I believed that I was sufficiently qualified and capable of performing the duties the position entailed.

 

On the other hand, if you are applying directly and you have a reasonable relationship with the potential employer, a quiet reminder might be in order: "Sir or Madame, I am sure that I meet your requirements in every way. I wanted to remind you that I am visually impaired. However, if special equipment or training is necessary, I am fully supported by the state Vocational Rehabilitation agency and funds are available which can be used to help me make the job accessible."

 

If we do get a chance at a job, it will be based on an employer's personal evaluation of us as an applicant.   

 

John and Linda Justice

 

Hi, Bob.

 

My answer to the question regarding disclosing blindness prior to a job interview: Only disclose if it is, in your opinion, relevant to the job task.

 

Years ago, I had one good eye for a while, and I applied for a land surveyor job. Even though my future boss didn"t notice, I disclosed the fact I had one functional eye in case the job required two eyes for certain instruments. But if I had applied for a different job, such as a laborer, I would never have disclosed it.

 

Jens Naumann (from Canada, now living in Namibia)

 

We would like to thank those of you who responded.  For the December Consumer Vision, we would like your opinions on the following big question. What would you like State Commissions for the Blind to do more often for their clients?  Please send your answers to: bobbranco93@gmail.com

 

 

 

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ARE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES MET WITH NEGATIVITY FROM REHAB COUNSELORS?

by Bob Branco

 

Quite often, as I talk to persons with disabilities about their experience with their voc rehab or social rehab counselors, I am told how these counselors find reasons why the client shouldn't achieve his or her goal. I hear things like, "I don't think you should be doing this," or "I think you ought to do that instead," or "I don't think you can make it." Etc. This angers me, because in most cases, we know what we want to do. All we need, at times, is a little bit of guidance and motivation from the counselor, and not negative feedback. 

 

Furthermore, the people who share their stories with me believe that the reason why counselors make these statements is because their agencies would shut down if every client became a total success. If that's true, counselors would have to prolong the process in one way or another. I am not saying I agree or disagree with this consensus, but rather ask if any of you have encountered this attitude from your counselor.

 

Do you believe that counselors are always sincere when offering pessimism, or are they trying to keep their clients at bay in order to have as many active files as possible? If the latter is true, then these agencies have a public relations problem. What agency would want their counselors thought of as Negative Nancys? If this consensus is not true, then that's okay. However, if it is, then we, as blind people, need to figure out how to battle this negativity.

             

***

 

 

  

THE WINDS OF INTEGRATION

by James R. Campbell

 © August 2015

 

This is the story of the struggle for public transportation in my home town of Odessa, Texas, and the changes that were brought about because of it. The lives of the blind and other disabled persons were improved as a result of the EZ Rider bus system that began running in 2003. 

 

In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, there was a public transportation system in Odessa. I don't know what it was called, or how many people rode it when it was in service. The only reason that I knew that it existed is because my aunt remembers it from that distant time. 

 

Odessa is located in West Texas, an area known for its hot and dry climate. It's on the high plains of Texas, in an area called the Permian Basin. Millions of years ago, the Permian Sea covered this now dry, arid land. The local economy of this area revolves around the oil industry. The Odessa meteor crater is one of the area's premier natural attractions. The nearby Sandhills State Park is yet another. This park consists of sand dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see.

 

In 1960, the population of Odessa was 80,338. By 2014, the population had ballooned to 110,722. This increase was due to the oil boom. People moved here from other states, looking for work. Of course the blind and disabled population increased as well. I have not been able to find the statistics on the exact number, but one can only assume that it is substantial.

 

There was a time that we did not have public transportation in our area. This put the disabled, especially the blind, at a major disadvantage. It was hard for us to get transportation anywhere in this town, any that would afford us independent travel. Even with Odessa College and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin located in the city, it was still a struggle for the blind and disabled to play an active role in our community.  

 

At one time, there was a social support group for the blind called Insight of the Permian Basin. It was sponsored by two churches: one in Odessa and one in nearby Midland, 20 miles away. The churches would take turns, and the meetings were held the last Friday of every month. This group provided an outlet for the blind, a means by which they could get together and make friends, enjoy a meal, and participate in other activities in the community. A similar group formed at Odessa College in the early 1980s. These groups were vital to the lives of the disabled who lived in our area.  

 

But in 1994, the Insight group folded when the sponsors had other, more pressing responsibilities to tend to. The only viable group that remained was our local NFB chapter. It was small and riddled with contention, and it folded under less than desirable circumstances. I worked for the local chapter in fundraising and public relations, and I sorely missed it when it broke up. It existed from October 26, 1991 until March 21, 1998, with several successful fundraisers to its credit. 

 

During its brief existence, we made a bid for public transportation in Odessa. It was brought up during several public meetings, but at the time, nothing was done with the idea. In the meantime, we were forced to depend on family and friends to take us out of the home or to pay extravagant fees for cabs. It was that exclusive and that bad. My best friend and I always thought it was a treat when my aunt and my sister took us out. When I would stay with my friend at his apartment, we would go to the barbecue place or to the local Dollar General near his apartment. These stores were within walking distance. This gave us the chance to get out of his apartment, at least for a while.

 

When we had the NFB chapter, we had our state convention here in 1994. It was one of the highlights of the chapter's better days. At that time, the need for a public transportation system became obvious to us. The whole idea boiled down to making things better for others who might move here in the future.    

 

Finally, in 2001, a public meeting was held at the Colosseum to discuss the issue of public transportation. I attended that meeting; the atmosphere had changed from what it had been. Public officials were beginning to see a need for public transportation in the Permian Basin. 

 

The question was where the money would come from. When the former secretary of our NFB chapter went to the Washington seminar in 1994, she was told by a government official that the money was there; all the city had to do was request the funds.

 

Finally, on May 5, 2001, the voters of Odessa decided to seek funding for a bus system for the Permian Basin area. Finally! The wheels were in motion. Now all that was needed was the time to put the system together.  Until that could be done, we relied on the tried and true methods for getting out of the house.

 

My friend went back to Texas Tech University in Lubbock on August 1, 2003. The EZ Rider bus service began operating on October 1st of that year. It began operation as a response and demand service with smaller buses. Within two years, the system was operating six routes with full-sized buses. I will never forget the thrill of my first bus ride on May 27, 2005. My friend and I visited a pet store and went to a nearby grocery for supplies for my great-nephew's first birthday party. We made several trips on the system when he was in town. There was a bus stop near our home. Unfortunately, few people used it, and they discontinued it in the fall of 2008. That meant that we were forced to depend on paratransit service. But the fee was low enough, $2.50 per person one way. That meant that it cost each of us $5 per round trip. We were happy that the fee was reasonable.

 

The doors to the community had been opened to the disabled at long last. The people at EZ Rider conducted a brief survey of the paratransit users, and they received a 98% favorable rating on customer satisfaction, cleanliness, courtesy of drivers, and being on time. The growth of the community has caused some issues with routes and the lack of drivers, but overall, it is still used by many people in the Permian Basin.

 

I met my friends because of EZ Rider. We get together and visit during the month. We have a good time just talking. We meet too late for me to get the bus, and there is no paratransit route to their home, but they pick me up and bring me home. Thanks to EZ Rider, I have found connections to this community that I did not have before, which makes it easier to consider living here after my aunt dies. At one time, I had no intention of living here after she died, but I was still willing to stand for public transportation for those who like living here, as well as those  who would move here in the future. If I had it all to do again, I would do the same thing.

 

The winds of integration have shifted the balance of life for the disabled in our cities, something that would have been only a dream if not for the  EZ Rider bus service. Thanks to Rob Stephens and all of the drivers and staff who make that dream a reality. 

 

 

***

 

WHAT GRINDS YOUR GEARS?

 

Hi, Bob.

 

I bought a microwave recently from Walmart. I called the company and they said that there was no Braille overlay. I had a friend help me affix the Braille in the appropriate places, so I never insisted that the company do it because I really needed to use my microwave now, not when they got their finger out of their behind to decide to provide something.

 

It"s my cat"s world. I"m just here to open the cans.

 

Anonymous

 

Hi, Bob.

 

Recently, I got an IPhone 6 as a birthday present. I went online and tried to find a manual for it. There was a PDF version, but it's imaged. So, when I tried to open it using Adobe, Jaws said "blank document." Apple prides itself on having accessible equipment. Yet, when I called the Support Desk, the representative had no idea where I could find an accessible manual.

 

To tell you the truth, I'm terrified that I might make a mistake when trying to use it. Does anyone know where I can find an accessible IPhone 6 manual?

 

John and Linda Justice

 

 

 

 ***

 TIPS FOR VIPS

by Penny Fleckenstein

 

I can"t believe it! It's the start of school, the end of summer, the beginning of fall already! But here we are—facing new challenges and needing new tips to make our days easier.

 

In addition to using baking soda to get rid of bad odors, finding many uses for white vinegar, using Efferdent to clean the toilet, and using used fabric softener sheets to wipe things off with, one of my favorite tips came from Kim Komando, who hosts a radio talk show on all things digital. (The link to it is here: https://www.komando.com/ ) Unfortunately, the tip came after I had lost my cell phone to the washing machine. I had accidentally washed it with my sheets, so along with the sheets, it got very, very clean.

 

When I learned that I could remove the battery and let the phone sit in a Ziploc bag filled with uncooked rice for 24 hours, it was too late to rescue my phone. This trick has to be used immediately after contact with water. When I washed my next cell phone in the washing machine, I did just that immediately, and it salvaged my phone. You can buy a waterproof case for your iPhone for $100. You can send your phone or electronic item to http://www.liquipel.com, and the company will treat your phone or tablet to protect it from liquid.

 

Another alternative is to purchase phone insurance. It has saved me numerous times from having to pay the full price of a brand new replacement phone. Usually, for a small monthly fee added to your phone bill, you have to pay only $50 to get a new phone. I spilled a glass of water on one of my phones, and if I ever decide to get another expensive phone, I will buy insurance if that option is available.

 

I"ve been buying my phones from http://www.amazon.com . I particularly like Blu phones. They pack a lot of value and features into a relatively low-priced phone, without the big name of Samsung or LG—that is, if you want an Android smart phone. I attempted to use a smart phone with a touch screen for a few months. I gave up the struggle and gave my phone to my son Isaac.

He loves it!

 

At the beginning of August, I went to a secondhand store called Treasure House Fashions for upscale ladies' clothing. For $25 a bag, I was able to select and try on dresses, skirts, blouses, shorts, pants, and nighties (I even got a black sexy negligee), as well as purses, shoes, jewelry, and scarves. I"ve been aware of this store for years, even went to shop there once, but was never aware of the summer bag sale. I filled two bags for $50 and now have a completely new summer wardrobe. It amazes me how much they could fit into a brown paper bag. The quality of the clothes and volunteer helpers is impressive. While trying the clothes on, I found out that they have this sale every August and February. I know where I"m going to get my winter wardrobe, now.

 

The clothes are brand name and beautiful. Maybe there are stores in your area that have similar sales to get rid of their summer and winter stashes. Besides Treasure House Fashions, I love my local Red White and Blue Thrift; they have a sale every day on items with certain tags. (Feel free to call beforehand to find out what the sale of the day is.) I also love another place called Plato"s Closet. There may be a number of consignment shops which you can donate to or buy from depending on your needs. Next month, I"m going to check out a store called Repurposed; it's a thrift store that raises funds to fight human trafficking.

 

There is nothing wrong with buying secondhand. Recycling is good for your pocketbook and for the environment. Some of my best finds have been on the curb on the day before garbage day or on garbage day itself, free for the taking. It is not stealing, since once something goes out for the garbage, it becomes public property. I have attained couches, mattresses, desks, chairs, tables, and bookcases this way. If possible, ask the people who are throwing the items out, because you don"t want to bring bed bugs into your house. They will tell you whether the items are safe. I"ve not always been able to ask, and so far, my curb shopping has been successful. I get a bed bug inspection once a year just to make sure. I also bought a bed bug cover for one of my mattresses and will buy more from:

http://www.achooallergy.com/allergy-bedding/allergy-armor-bed-bug-mattress-covers/

 

My daughter Penny buys a lot of her allergy supplies from there, and she says they have sales regularly. If you do get bed bugs, Beulah says spray with Hot Shot and then buy Diatomacious Earth and spread it around. I"ve been blessed that I"ve never had to deal with bed bugs, so I can"t tell you that I have tested this one out.

 

I regularly go out bike riding. After my 22-mile ride, during which I got my legs eaten up by the bugs, I asked the blind cycling email list for the name of a good natural insect repellent. Here are some of the suggestions I received: Shaklee"s Basic H; Avon"s Skin So Soft; and Repel, made of eucalyptus and lemon. I"ve used the Shaklee"s Basic H in the past, and it was very effective. My friend Gary swears by Avon"s Skin So Soft. What I"ve been using is Cutter"s Skin Sensation Insect Repellent with aloe and vitamin E. It smells good and moisturizes my skin, and it works. I picked it up at Dollar General. The cost was only a little over $3, and it has lasted a long time. I only get bug bites on my body where I don"t apply it. Going on the 32-mile bike ride in the same area was so much more comfortable after using repellent.

 

I do wish you the best for the fall season. Feel free to email your tips to oodthaimom@gmail.com and to visit me at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com

 

Happy autumn!

 

 

 

***

  

READERS' FORUM

 

Hi, Bob and everyone.

 

Initially, I answered just about every question asked regarding my blindness, hoping to ease barriers and enhance understanding. Then I stopped, deciding my medical history and ways of coping are not up for conversational grabs by curiosity seekers.

 

While I confide in friends and anyone else I feel the info might help, my tendency now is either to say it is a private matter or to ask the reason for the question. When the answer comes back, "I was just curious," sorry, but I refuse to be a curiosity item.

 

Colleen "Feeney" Swan

 

Hi, Bob.

 

I just downloaded the latest edition of Consumer Vision Magazine, September/October, and want to compliment you and your staff of editors and contributors for a very fine, interesting edition. I hope that your exposure at TIC is going to help you expand your dreams of publishing accomplishments by making your target audience better aware of all the ramifications involved with being vision impaired.

 

Keep up the good work.  It was a perfectly clean print-out as far as I can measure it, being a sighted reader.

 

Bob Zeida

 

Dear Bob,

 

I like your comments about the radio sportscasters. Internal strife anywhere is certainly not what listeners want to hear. If dwelt upon, it can be a real turn-off.  Why would listeners stick around to hear such a thing?

 

Susan

 

 

***

 

THE CAPACITY OF EXAMPLE

by James R. Campbell

© October 3, 2015

 

Bob Branco's article in Consumer Vision Magazine has inspired me to write the following article in reply. As I read his article, I couldn't help but be struck by the truth of what he was saying. Another inspiration for this article comes from John Justice. His piece gave me much food for thought.

 

Most sighted people have no idea what it is like to live in our world. Having them wear sleep shades is not sufficient to teach them about the world of blindness. Tragically, they will never know until they lose their sight, and then they would be lost without help from those of us who live every day as blind persons. 

 

I have had several occasions this week to help sighted people understand the world I live in. My new visiting nurse asked me yesterday how I made phone calls. I told her that I knew where the buttons were on the phone.

 

I brought her into the bedroom and demonstrated the use of NVDA on my laptop. She seemed  amazed that I was able to use a computer without sight. 

 

The same thing happened with the guy who cleans and helps us take care of the yard. Whenever I can, I enjoy pulling weeds or doing something else in the yard. I feel bad that I can't help in the alley the way that I used to before the accident. Dear let me help her once; that was a milestone. I was very happy with the day.

 

I brought the yard keeper into the bedroom and gave him a demonstration using the laptop. He was astounded. He had seen me reading a Braille book a few days earlier. I read a passage aloud. Again, he was amazed.

 

Later that night, Dear was talking to one of our friends over the phone. Something was said about supper that night.

 

"He's in here cooking potatoes and onions," Dear said.

 

"In the microwave?" June asked.

 

"No. In a skillet on the stove."

 

"In a skillet on the stove!" June replied incredulously.

 

When people remark in amazement, I simply respond: "I do it every day and think nothing of it."

 

My view is this: If they don't ask, they don't know. It boils down to education. If the sighted never see us function as normal people in a society, they will never accept us as first-class citizens.

 

Before the accident, I used to walk the alleys on both sides of my street; often, I would pick up the trash. Even though I am totally blind, I have always been irritated and annoyed by the fact that people are so lazy that they leave their trash in the alleys. It is an eyesore, not to mention a health hazard, attracting everything from roaches to feral cats. I had occasion once to see a stray cat leap from a dumpster on my street; obviously, it was a stray looking for food.

 

When I would travel to and from San Angelo on the bus, I would pick up the trash in the aisles and bring it home to throw away. Dear would always question me.

 

"Honey, why do you bring other people's trash home from the bus for us to throw away?"

 

"Dear, it makes the buses look ugly when other people leave their trash in the aisle."

 

I believe that we as blind persons have a responsibility that extends far beyond demonstrating the computer's talking software to the sighted guest or preparing a meal on the stovetop. We are part of a larger society that extends beyond our society of blindness, and it pays to participate in it. Even those of us who do not have 9 to 5 jobs like the sighted can still contribute something to society. If we are ever to take our place as first-class citizens, it is imperative that we become involved in the aspects of daily life that extend far beyond those related to blindness. Pay attention to the news; think about the important themes of the day. It takes a highly analytical mind to develop the kind of intelligence required to "see" through the small, unimportant details of the story to the core issues. One voice can make a difference, and each voice deserves to be heard. Pay attention to your local area; if something you hear about seems amiss, contact your representative.

 

I know of many blind persons who get angry and defensive when someone asks if they have a sighted person to help. Not every blind person wants or needs this help. But one should not be afraid of asking for this help when it is needed.

 

There is a difference between the type of independence that does not allow for sighted help when it becomes necessary and what I refer to as self-reliance. I have always enjoyed preparing meals here at home for myself and my aunt. After I got hit by a truck last year, I could not cook. My right arm was still healing, and the nerve in my wrist and hand would not allow it. One night, I was conversing with my friends about the situation.

 

"It's not fair!" I said. "Dear has to come in after working at daycare and prepare the meals for us. She's tired when she comes home; that was my job."

 

"Don't worry about it, baby!"one of my friends said. "You'll get it all back. I see you back in the kitchen preparing those meals in six months."

 

Today, I am able to prepare the meals again. If June Ragsdale were to come over and watch me, she would be astounded. But, as I said, we do it every day, and I think nothing of it.

 

 

 

***

 

THE RING

by John Justice

 

When packing to move, we found something that had gone missing about 20 years ago. That brought me back to the days when I was a piano tuner in New York City.

 

It was hot in New York that August afternoon. As I turned from Broadway onto West 47th Street, I heard the construction equipment and caught the odor of freshly poured asphalt. There was no way I was going to risk my guide dog in an area like that! What if she stepped in some of  that hot tar? The thought made me shiver.

 

I was considering calling the customer and canceling the appointment when a man stopped beside me and spoke. "Hi. The sidewalk is completely blocked by some equipment. They're repairing the street. Where are you trying to go?" 

 

"I'm trying to get to an apartment building which is halfway down this block." With the man's help, I crossed 47th Street, walked down the other side past the construction, then jaywalked back onto the right side and right up to the door. I thanked the man and we parted company.

 

As soon as I entered the lobby, the doorman greeted me. "Hi, Mr. Justice. Carolyn was just down here looking for you. She was afraid that the construction might be a problem. Wait here and I'll call her." 

 

The man put me on the elevator and Carolyn Mathews met me on her floor. We walked down to her roomy apartment and she led me to the piano, an elderly Steinway grand. As usual, she provided a small portable table where I placed my tool kit. As I removed the music rack, the lady spoke to me apologetically. "John, you aren't going to believe this. I was editing some music when I lost a pen down into the piano. Now, when I try playing, it clatters and clunks so badly that I hesitated to use the instrument at all."  

 

I assured her that removing pens was something I did on a fairly regular basis. With a grand piano, you can remove parts of the case and the entire "action" slides out on a heavy wooden frame.  With Carolyn's help, I closed the top of the piano, spread an old sheet over the polished wood top, and removed the action or mechanical assembly. Sure enough, a pen was lying across several of the hammers. It would have made an awful noise if anyone had tried to play the instrument. Miss Mathews took the pen and I decided to clean out the enclosure before reassembling the instrument. With a little furniture polish and an old dish towel, I worked my way from one side of the piano to the other. 

 

It was then that I felt something in the left rear corner. At first, I wasn't sure what it was, but a closer examination told me I had found a small diamond ring. Carolyn hadn't mentioned a ring when we had been talking earlier. I brought it out, stuck it in a handy pocket, and completed the cleaning. 

 

I put the piano back together and played a little song, which brought my customer back into the room. She sounded pleased. "Now, that's much better. Thank you so much, John." 

 

I reached into my pocket and offered her the other surprise. "I found this ring when I was cleaning out the piano. It was way in a back corner."  

 

When she saw the ring in my palm, Carolyn Mathews burst into tears and collapsed on a nearby couch. I didn't know what to do. She took the ring and patted my arm, assuring me that everything would be all right. Some minutes later, she was finally able to stop crying, and then she told me her story.

 

Thirty years before, Carolyn had been engaged to be married. She was so happy and never failed to share her joy with anyone, especially her best friend, Eleanor. Wedding plans were moving along smoothly, and the date was quickly approaching. One night, about 10 days before the special day, Eleanor came to visit. She seemed nervous, and eventually, Carolyn got her talking. It turned out that Eleanor had been having an affair with David, Carolyn's fiancé, at the same time he had been making plans to marry Carolyn.

 

"I didn't know what to do!" said Eleanor. "Should I tell you and ruin all of your plans? Or just let it go, hoping that you and David could work things out? Or should I tell you the truth? After all, you are my best friend!"

 

Carolyn was devastated!  She had, for the first time in her life, really put her faith in a man. Now he had made a fool of her behind her back! Eleanor left, and later that night, David came over to visit as he usually did. As soon as he came through the door and entered the living room, Carolyn flew at him in a rage. She screamed and cried, accusing him of everything Eleanor had said. She pulled off the engagement ring and threw it at him. Her aim was off, and the ring struck the lid of the piano and disappeared. David was amazed at what was happening. He tried to deny the accusations. Eleanor had come onto him, he said, more than once, but his heart was then and always would be Carolyn's. But she ordered him out of her apartment and canceled all of the plans they had made.

 

David tried to see her again and again, but she refused. Her pride had been hurt, and her heart was broken. After a few months, he stopped calling. 

 

Years later, Carolyn learned that David had died after a long fight with heart disease. She and Eleanor remained friends for a time, but things were never the same after that night of confession. 

 

Years later, Carolyn received a long letter from Eleanor. It turned out that the whole story was a lie. Eleanor had tried to get David to pay attention to her, but he had refused. In a rage, the woman decided to get even with both of them. She concocted the story, and it worked better than she had hoped. Later, she tried to approach David, but he would have nothing to do with her. 

Carolyn searched for her ring many times, but like David, it had disappeared out of her life, forever.

 

I never saw Carolyn Mathews again. Not long after my last visit, I left New York and moved to Philadelphia. 

 

 

***

 

SPECIAL NOTICES

 

My name is Patty L. Fletcher, author and businesswoman!

 

I am inviting you to sign up for The Neighborhood News, an online email news and literary publication compiled by folks of all different types from everywhere beginning right here in the Tri-cities and spanning the world! 

 

The Neighborhood News is a fun and informative newsletter available via email subscription.

 

The mission of The Neighborhood News is to bridge the gaps that separate and cause negativity and strife for us all. These would include disABILITY, both physical and mental, as well as ethnic background. We also strive to educate and inform.

 

We offer advertising for all types of products and services at little cost to the provider and we accept literary submissions such as poems, short stories, and narratives.

 

To sign up, just send a note with your first and last name, along with your email address, and soon you'll be learning about things close to home and around the world in ways like nothing you have ever experienced before!

 

Links to past editions are on my website.

 

Patty L. Fletcher

Website: http://www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/ 

Email: patty.volunteer1@gmail.com

 

 

 

***

 

Greeting Cards in Braille/Large Print

 

I have been designing, producing and selling Braille/large print greeting cards, card booklets, cookbooks, and other texts for more than 40 years under the Federal Registered Trademark manutips®.

 

My cards are available in every category, including birthday, Chanukah, Christmas in both sacred and secular designs, Easter, friendship, get-well, graduation, inspirational, new baby, St. Patrick's Day, Sweetest Day, sympathy, new baby, wedding, wedding anniversary, Valentine's Day, and others.

 

These cards are embossed in both print and Braille with beautiful raised graphics (pictures).

They may be personalized if desired, and personalization is done in both print and Braille on every card.

 

The current price for greeting cards is $6.50 each. Personalizing, shipping, and handling are extra. A discount is provided on quantity orders.

 

Because cards and card booklets are embossed and personalized in both Braille and print, they appeal to both sighted and visually impaired people.

 

Orders are promptly processed.

 

Additional information on pricing, ordering instructions, etc. may be obtained by contacting me:

 

Elizabeth Slaughter

manutips@paulbunyan.net

 

 

 

***

  

Red Eyes

A novel by Gary H. Hensley

 

Set primarily in Tennessee and Virginia from 1924 to 1976, this is the adventure-filled life story of Jim Taylor: lawman, lover, family man, churchgoer—and murderer.   

 

After Jim's beloved sister Annie is raped and murdered at the age of 13, he becomes obsessed with finding her killer and meting out "payback." The story of that pursuit, Jim's revenge, and the stunning surprise ending of the book make up the central story. 

 

When we first meet Jim, he's madly in love with young Lilly Mae Larkey, an ambitious beauty he's known since childhood. Between them and their eventual happiness, there are many twists and turns, a long separation, and a serious rival for Jim.

 

Along his journey from besotted teenager to respected, experienced lawman in Dawson, Tennessee, Jim has a series of torrid relationships with other women and numerous encounters with lawbreakers, some of them extremely dangerous. One man leaves him with a nearly fatal head wound. The June 1943 race riots in Detroit are the impetus for reflections on the sad state of race relations in that era. 

 

The author's father was a lawman in Sullivan County, Tennessee. His life was the inspirational starting point for this work of fiction. 

 

Gary H. Hensley grew up near Kingsport, Tennessee and now lives in Maryville, Tennessee with his wife, Sherry. He served as a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army and is a retired city manager. Red Eyes is his first novel. E-book: $4.99. Paperback: $15.95.  

 

The book was edited by David and Leonore Dvorkin. Cover design by David Dvorkin. The cover shows actual Hensley family property in Tennessee.

 

Website with cover photo, author's photo, and buying links: www.dvorkin.com/garyhensley/

 

 

 

***

 

I am John Sanders, class of 1965 from Perkins. While I was in Perkins, one of the teachers who made a profound impression on me was Edward Jenkins. In my fourth grade year, he introduced me to his tape recorder and his large collection of tape reels on a variety of topics.  By the time I got to seventh grade, he had recognized my abilities and encouraged me to develop an interest in collecting recordings. In the fall of 1959, my parents told me that if my grades were above a C average, I would be given a tape recorder as a present. So when I received a Wollensak recorder in 1959, my archive, which now has over 700 titles, began.

 

From the start, I have enjoyed recording breaking news stories. They have included topics like space shots, historic discoveries, and people and their legacies. This series of recordings, plus my extensive collection of old radio shows, I plan to air on the Radio Perkins program called "Alumni Focus." This program airs on Radio Perkins every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. I plan to broadcast "John Sanders Presents" in this timeslot every fourth week.  I"m so glad that Perkins has a radio station so that a number of alumni, students, and staff can share their talents and their legacies. 

 

 

 

***

 

BUILDING ON THE ROOF  

by Ernest Jones

 

Having always lived in a one-family house, I was not used to hearing sounds above me. But one night it seemed like a new resident was taking up housekeeping overhead. We woke to hear what sounded like little feet scampering or dancing on the metal porch roof directly above our open bedroom window. There were no vocal sounds, just what sounded like little feet, and an occasional noise like something trying to pry up the metal roofing. I checked my watch; it was 4:15 in the morning.

 

After I pounded on the window casing and yelled, quiet returned, letting us know that whatever it was must have left. But the next morning, the noise I made only caused a short pause before the racket resumed. The third morning, right at 4:30, I crept out the back door, planning to walk around the house on the deck, hoping to get a clue as to what or who was on the porch roof.

 

Have you ever tried to walk quietly over a wooden deck in the still of the night without any boards creaking? Whatever had been making the noise heard me; it was gone before I arrived on the front porch.

 

That afternoon I set up the extension ladder and climbed up onto the porch roof, making sure I left no pine or maple branches touching the roof. Satisfied that the pine branches were several feet from the roof and that no maple branches were nearby, I hoped to get a good sleep the next morning. But I was not successful. Once again, the noise returned, this time at 3:45.

 

That afternoon I set up my stepladder on the deck and carefully hoisted a large live trap up onto the porch roof. Baiting it with seeds, cat food, and nuts, I felt sure I'd catch the cat, bird, or squirrel that night. But whatever it was, it ignored the food and the trap and continued with its dance, this time at 3:35 in the morning.

 

After thus being awakened for the sixth morning in a row, we were getting tired and frustrated. Once again I climbed up onto the roof. Using the handle of my push broom like a long white cane stretched out in front, I slowly crept across the roof, staying well away from the edge, until I felt the broom handle slip over the edge of the porch roof, over the front gate. I began to sweep, planning to remove every twig and pine needle, hoping this might in some way discourage the critter from its morning activity.

 

I had swept maybe 10 feet when I felt the broom pushing a heavy load. Having no idea what it was, I reached down to find a huge pile of pine needles—over two feet in diameter and more than six inches deep. Puzzled as to the reason for such a large pile, I continued pushing, then heard a thud as the pile hit the ground. It took two more sweeps of the push broom before once again the sweeping was easy. After sweeping the whole porch roof, I dragged the live trap over to where I figured it to be near where the large pile had been, and again set the trap.

 

The next morning we were again awakened by the critter above, but the movements appeared different. I only heard the noise for around 15 minutes before all was quiet.

 

That afternoon, we decided to haul all the pine needles to the burn pile in the back. The large pile I had swept off the roof was almost too much to get in our wheelbarrow in one load. My wife, Dorothy, also noted that the needles were not just lying flat, like when they fall from the tree, but were actually woven, threaded in, making a pine needle mat. That critter must have been building a roof top bedroom.

 

I hoped that destroying this critter's hard work would discourage it, and indeed, we did have three mornings without any construction going on overhead. I felt sure that whatever it was had left. But again, the rooftop dancing returned, this time at 3:30 in the morning. The next morning was quiet, but as I write, I wonder if construction on another rooftop apartment might start again, as over the next 10 nights, whatever it was returned several times.

 

I have been told to stay off the roof, but after nearly a week with interrupted sleep, something had to be done. I stayed away from the roof's edge, accomplished the task, and felt no danger.

 

Still, the puzzle remains: What or who was it? I have pretty well ruled out a cat, squirrel, or magpie, but am considering an owl, for the work is done during the dark. As I write this, there is no sign of any construction up on the roof. And thus, I hope to be able to keep my feet on the ground.

 

 

 

***

  

PUPPEE, A LOYAL FRIEND

by John Justice

 

While living in the southern part of New Jersey, I loved to ride my bike throughout our rural area, inspecting new trails in the forest or just cruising the two-lane roads. For the longest time, I was alone, but one day, Dad brought a young German Shepherd home. The dog was about six months old, and he was as wild as they come. He chased chickens, tried to catch cars, and generally risked his life in all kinds of harebrained adventures.  Since my parents both worked, I was usually the one who found him and brought Puppee home. Yes, that was his name.  My mother decided that just calling him "puppy" was silly, since he wouldn't be a puppy forever.  She came up with that name and it stuck. I rescued Puppee from a farmer's barn where he had been trapped. I heard his mournful bark and found him. 

 

One day he didn't come home, so I started walking along the road toward the little village of Goshen, about two miles away. Way off to my left, I heard a dog barking. It sounded like Puppee, but it was far away. I found a fire trail that led in more or less the right direction. As I moved through the quiet woods, his bark got louder. Finally, I came to a clearing. There was Puppee, panting and whining, but he wouldn't come to me. So, after a few minutes, I moved slowly and carefully toward him. That crazy, lovable dog had done it again. Someone, probably a local farmer, had placed a fox trap in the trail. Puppee had detected it just in time and jumped to avoid the snapping steel jaws. But his long tail had been caught. He was held fast. I was so angry I couldn't even think straight. Finally, I got a heavy stick and pried the trap open just enough to release the dog.  He leapt into the air and then started jumping on me—muddy feet, crazy licking tongue and all. The plume on the end of his tail had been caught. There was so much of the hair in the trap that he couldn't or wouldn't pull free. From that day on, Puppee was never far from me. 

 

Little by little, we became friends.  He took to running beside me as I rode along Goshen Swainton Road. If I called to him, he would bark. We traveled for miles together. When I went into a store to buy a cold drink, Puppee would wait outside right next to my bicycle. He tried to follow me inside once, but Mrs. Pedrick, the store owner, chased him with a broom. He never tried that stunt again. 

 

 Somehow, Puppee knew when I was coming home and would often meet me at the bus stop.  We would walk home together almost every day. 

 

About a quarter mile from our farm was a building. It had originally been a storage place for a housing development, but the development was never completed. One house was built and a model sign was erected. The contractor must have run out of money or the properties weren't selling. The little house fell into disrepair, and for years, the storage building stood alone and abandoned. Puppee and I were passing it when suddenly he started growling. He barred my way and wouldn't let me go near the structure. After a moment or two, he resumed his walking and we went home. I don't know what caused that reaction, but I didn't question his judgment. By this time, Puppee was a fully grown and very intelligent dog. I accepted his offer of protection and never thought about it. 

 

We were heading toward Goshen to get my mom some milk. We passed a truck parked along the side of the road. I heard Puppee's claws scrabble and I thought he was after another animal. I went to the store, loaded the milk into my basket, and was on my way home. Periodically, I called his name, but he never replied. Then my folks got a call. The county dog catcher had netted Puppee as he passed the truck. My dog was in the local pound and that man was talking about destroying him as a stray. Well, that wasn't going to happen if my family could do anything about it. 

 

What I didn't know was that a judge lived right on our road.  He had seen me pass many times and thought that Puppee was trained to help me. Puppee didn't have anything but an ordinary leather collar. He had no license or ID tag. In those days, people didn't think that way. We took the dog catcher to court. He testified that the dog was running loose and had no identification.  That was certainly true. My dad added that the dog had been trained to run with me and keep me from harm while I was riding. That wasn't essentially correct, unless you can count the hours we spent together and the communication we had invented. Puppee never left my side during those rides and always came when I called him.

 

We were lucky that night. The judge was the same neighbor I mentioned earlier. 

 

"Oscar," he said, "what the hell do you think you're doing, picking up a dog trained for the blind? Couldn't you see that the dog was running with this boy? Are you crazy? Go get that dog right now and bring him here. If I ever hear of you bothering them again, I'm going to personally see that you become an unemployed dog catcher. Now, Mr. Justice, I want you to get a license and an ID tag for Puppee.  If this ever happens again, we'll know who the dog is and who he belongs to." 

 

Oscar went right out and brought Puppee to the courthouse. He was probably the one and only dog that had ever been in one of those courtrooms. As soon as Oscar released Puppee, he came right to me, sat down in front of me, and banged my knee with his paw. It was if he was saying, "I'm here, Jacky. Let's go for a run!"

 

Puppee was still with me when I graduated from high school. But the first time I went away, trouble found my old friend. He was hit by a speeding car and his left hind leg was shattered.  Although Puppee survived that impact and the resulting surgery, he could never run again. A steel pin and supporting plate had been inserted into his broken leg by the vet. He lived out his normal life and died years later, but every time I went off on my bike, he would stand in the driveway and moan softly. It broke my heart. 

 

I was on the road when Mom told me he had died. She found him in the garage lying next to my old bicycle. It was if he had gone to sleep with his head pillowed on his paws. When he died, Puppee's muzzle was completely white and he could barely get around. The last few months, he spent most of his time lying next to my bike or standing in the driveway looking up and down. I think he was still trying to find me. 

 

There are tears in my eyes as I write these last few words.  I have loved many dogs in my life and cried when they crossed the rainbow bridge, but never before have I deserted a friend and left him to die alone. From that day to this, I remember Puppee when that time comes. In his honor, I keep the dogs I can and give them the love I have freely and without reservation.

 

 

 

***

 

CAMPBELL'S CALAMITIES #15

"Prosperity in the Face of the Winter Solstice"

by Patty L. Fletcher

First published December 16, 2014

 

Welcome! Consumer Vision Readers! To Campbell's Calamities!

 

The stories I hope to share with you are designed to lift your spirits, inspire, and motivate you.

This particular story comes from last winter. I hope it gives you as much enjoyment and inspiration reading it as it did for me when first living it and then writing about it. Honestly, it wasn't until I started journaling about it that I realized the true lesson I'd learned. And now we go back in time to a memory that is one of my favorites.

 

I give you Campbell's Calamities.

 

Well, so far this week, the calamities have been small and the rewards great. But of course there have been incidents of calamity along our way, so here we are to share them and other happenings with you on this beautiful Saturday morning (December 13), just a week before the Winter Solstice.

 

For me, the Solstice used to mean nothing more than a sad, dark time. Since then, I have learned that I was wrong, and that in fact, once the Solstice comes and goes, the days begin to lengthen, and each day that passes brings us closer to spring and a time of much renewal and prosperity. So I always try to think that each sunrise is leading me toward yet another day of growth and rejuvenation. This may seem strange to some, I'm sure, but as you read onward, you'll see the reason for my mentioning this at all. Whether you are a believer in any god or goddess or in none at all matters not, because Nature in its own right will show this to be true: that the passing of the Winter Solstice leads us toward spring.

 

Anyhow, as I said, it's a beautiful Saturday morning here. Temps are chilly right now, but are forecasted to warm into the low 50s later today with much sun. Campbell and I are in the middle of a fundraising campaign and are having a blast doing it. We're organizing a Pancake Breakfast and Book Sale Fundraiser for the organizations we represent: both CONTACT-CONCERN of Northeast Tennessee, Inc., for which we work, and for The Seeing Eye, Inc., which is the guide dog school that Campbell comes from.  

 

Now I'm going to backtrack a bit and tell you what led up to my happiness this day.

 

I woke up yesterday, Friday, feeling excited and well rested. I had a plan of action for this last day of the work week and wanted to get going on it ASAP. That was not to be. First off, even though I felt I had readied everything for the morning, I somehow kept finding that I'd forgotten to lay out many small items, and I had to keep stopping to search for them one at a time. Once I was finally ready, I realized I'd missed my 8:30 bus and so was going to be an hour late. I called in and settled down to read a chapter or two of a book I was trying to finish and waited for the hour to pass, until I could catch the next bus. I began to get totally involved in the story. Soon the hour had passed, and I was once again rushing to get out the door.

 

Campbell and I did make it to the bus stop on time. Although we were cutting it really close, it was also cool, because Campbell got to show his stuff while executing a neat, quick right turn to lead us straight to the corner and the steps of the bus as it pulled up to the stop. When we were settled, the driver, whom I've known for years and who is a good friend of mine, complimented us on a job "very well done." 

 

Once I finally made it to work, things got off to a slow start, and I seemed to run into obstacles everywhere I went. Soon, I was disturbed to realize that three hours had passed, yet I'd accomplished very little. I seemed to be having communication troubles with a few people, both in and out of the office, so I finally decided to call it an early day. As I boarded the bus to go home, I was feeling rather low and very frustrated with work, and I had almost given up on the entire day.

 

When we arrived at the bus station where passengers transfer from one bus to another if need be, I had an idea. Sometime back, one of the staff members at the station had expressed an interest in my newly released book. That's Campbell's Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life. I had just received a few copies of it in the mail, copies to sell at our upcoming fundraiser. So I dialed into the station and talked with the staff member. I told her I had copies of my book with me for sale and asked if she'd like a copy. She came right out and bought a copy, and on top of that, she asked me to sign it. This caught me unprepared, and I made a firm mental note to find and practice using my signature guide immediately.

 

I tried to do the best I could at the moment. With what I am sure was very messy print, I signed "Patty and Campbell." Whether the result was messy or no, she was delighted. Then she said happily, "You know this is going to cost you, right?" I laughed, already knowing the answer, and asked, "What is your price?" She answered with a smile in her voice, "A pet!" I immediately said OK, as Campbell had not so much as moved up until I released him from rest. Even then, he did not stand, but only belly crept forward enough to have his head rubbed and his ears scratched. He was so beautifully behaved, only lying there, wagging happily as she loved on him, that a couple of people remarked about it later.

 

A moment later, Charley, another driver who has also turned into a great friend, came along and said, "I hear you've been out here selling books!" I smiled and said, "I have, and I have some more with me." He laughed. "I knew you would. I'll take two." I happily gave him two books, and he handed me a $20 bill. I tucked it away for safekeeping and thanked him. Soon he was gone, my driver was back, and Campbell and I were on our way home. I was thrilled. I'd sold all three copies of my book all at once, and I couldn't wait to get home to see if my other shipment had arrived. Once at home and settled, I was thrilled to see that it had indeed come.

 

After a bit of a break, Campbell and I headed out again. I decided I was going to take my money and go get dinner at the Food City Deli and maybe have a word with their manager about a couple of upcoming events Campbell and I are currently involved with, one being the Pancake Breakfast and Book Sale Fundraiser. Just as I was readying us to leave the house, I got a call from my friend and volunteer Gabe. He let me know he'd be by later to pick up a book, as well as tickets for the Pancake Breakfast portion of the fundraise. This meant I'd sold $40 worth of books thus far.

 

I happily set the book aside for him and continued on my way, calling a cheerful "Goodbye!" to my friend Old Man Bob, who had stopped by to hang out and use the large space on my dining room table to do some paperwork. As I slipped through the door, I called back over my shoulder, "I'll be back in about an hour!" He called back, "Good luck. I'll lock up when I leave."

 

Campbell and I started off. I laughed as he took a huge snort of the fresh, cool air and began to wag his tail happily. Once again, he worked beautifully, guiding me safely across the two streets to the stop. Once there, I praised and praised him. Then I gave him a moment to park if he felt he needed to. Of course he obliged me and watered the bus stop post. Afterwards, he shook himself as if to say, "What? I'm just watering it to make sure it doesn't die!" 

 

As I settled us into our usual place on the bus, I realized, very upset with myself, that I'd actually walked out and left my wallet on the table. I couldn't believe it. Well, I thought, I've got a backpack filled with books. I'll sell some and feed myself. I argued with myself that the money from the sale of the books was to be for the fundraiser, but I also knew I was to pay myself something and that I had to eat. So off we went. Soon I'd sold two books to the driver I was riding with. We were to change buses at Walmart. While waiting in between buses, I met a man who couldn't buy a book; however, he took a flyer about my event, and that was helpful. He promised to put it up at his church. I thanked him and continued on my way.

 

When the bus pulled up and the door opened, I was delighted to see that the driver was Charley. We greeted one another happily, and as we rode around picking people up, I chatted with folks about my book. Before I'd gotten to my stop, I'd sold another copy. I was excited, to say the least. I was already up to $70 in my money-making and was thrilled. As Campbell and I got off the bus, folks sang out their cheerful holiday wishes and goodbyes. We waved happily to all and started out across the parking lot to the store.

 

Campbell carefully guided me through the traffic, and for a change, everyone followed pretty much the correct traffic routines. We only got one traffic check, and it was not bad. As we came onto the sidewalk, the bell ringer stationed outside the door of the store called out, "Hello, pretty puppy!" I said gently but firmly, "Sir, do not speak to him; he's working." I added as I passed, "Happy holiday!" in a cheerful, upbeat voice, and made a note to drop some money in the kettle when I came back through the doorway.

 

Finally we were in the store and weaving our way through the crowd. Campbell wagged happily along, and on this day, we made not one mistake while we made our way to the service desk. When I found we'd arrived all on our own and with no mistakes, I was so proud that I had a praise party for my pup right there on the floor while we waited for a shopping assistant.

 

Soon, with the help of a very polite young man, I had my fried chicken dinner, as well as a couple of other items I needed. I was ready to go back out, so Campbell and I could make our escape. I was disappointed to see that the bell ringer was gone when Campbell and I came back through the doorway. I had intended to donate a bit of money and let the ringer take a moment and have the chance to meet Campbell correctly. 

 

While we waited at the stop for the bus, we chatted with a fellow bus rider. I explained about the Seeing Eye after the man began asking questions. I told him about my book, and although he expressed interest, he didn't buy one. I wasn't disappointed; from how our conversation went, I have the feeling that he'll buy a copy later on.

 

Finally we were at our stop, wishing everyone a happy holiday and a great weekend. I had money and food, and the day had turned out very well after all. I was on my way home, and a friend had just called to say that he and his girlfriend were sitting in my driveway, and where was I? I laughed and told him I was about four blocks from the house and would be there shortly. Campbell shot forward happily when I gave him the command after stepping off the bus, and soon we were turning into our driveway. It had been a fantastic day, and the rough events of the morning seemed distant and unimportant.

 

I spent a few minutes chatting with the friends who had been waiting for me, and they too bought a book. This brought my take for the day to $80. I was totally thrilled.

 

As I put my money and leftover books away, I wished that I could go into writing full time. It had been such fun selling those books in person and making happy conversation with folks—people who were not only buying my book, but who would read it and talk to others about it and about the fact that they'd actually met Campbell and me. Knowing that they had an idea of the reality of us and what we are like pleased me greatly. I smiled to myself as I finished straightening out my things and said to myself, One day I'm going to do just that: be a professional writer and have this fun forever. That's the ticket for sure. I just know it.

 

After chatting with Gabe, who was to come by and pick up a book for himself, as well as tickets to sell for the Pancake Breakfast portion of the fundraiser, I settled in to eat my dinner and enjoy the evening. For a change, I felt that I'd done some great work and had really earned my money. I hadn't felt like that in quite a while, no matter what I was doing.

 

Later in the evening, as I was soaking in a tub of hot water in a fragrant, steam-filled bathroom, I understood the way Nature worked; I was feeling that same sense of hope and renewal that I knew everything and everyone must feel. I knew that soon the cold, dark days of winter would be over, and the prosperity of spring would be in full bloom. Heck! I was already receiving some of that just by knowing it was so.

 

Now here it is, Saturday morning, December 13, and I am packed up ready to go out again. I have a plan for this day. I'm going to walk to my neighborhood convenience market, where I do a lot of trade and where they sell all sorts of stuff, and see if I can put these few remaining books in the store to sell, along with a poster telling about the upcoming event. I figure, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!" So if you come back next week, I'll let you know how it went.

 

Until next time, this is Patty and Campbell Lee the Seeing Eye dog, saying: May Harmony Find You, Blessid Be!

 

Patty's book, mentioned above, is available in e-book and print formats on Amazon and other sites. For full details, see her website: http://www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/ 

 

 

 

***

  

CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

 

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the September/October Consumer Vision.  The character who said, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent" was Horton, the elephant in Dr. Seuss"s book Horton Hatches the Egg (© 1940).

 

 

Congratulations to the following winners:

 

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

Abbie Taylor of Sheridan, Wyoming

 

And now, here is your trivia question for the November Consumer Vision. What European country's traditional food includes baguettes and a fish stew called bouillabaisse? If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.