The Consumer Vision

September/October, 2015

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

Telephone, 508-994-4972

Email address, bobbranco93@gmail.com

Web site, www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Publisher, Bob Branco

Editor, Teri Winaught

 

     TABLE OF CONTENTS

Each item in the Table of Contents below will be separated by three asterisks:  *** just as three asterisks will be used between articles.  Doing that will better enable you to use your browser's search function to read only those items in which you are interested.

 

A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

HOW WE SHOULD HANDLE SINCERE INQUISITIVENESS *** by Bob Branco

NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH *** by Terri Winaught

THE CHOICE *** by John Justice

JERRY NASH'S GREAT ESCAPE *** by James R. Campbell

MY BIG TRIP *** by Jens Naumann

THE TRACTOR RIDE *** by John Justice

SEEING THINGS IN A NEW WAY *** by Lenore Dvorkin (posted on her blog on May 27, 2014

THE SUMMER OF THE VEGETABLE GARDEN *** by Susan Jones

THE CULTURAL COLLISION *** by John Justice

A TSB SUCCESS STORY INTERVIEW WITH JULIUS HAYNES *** by James R. Campbell

BOSTON SPORTS TALK *** by Bob Branco

I Sat  THERE *** by Deon Lyons

OUR CRAZY CATS *** a nonfiction story by Frances D. Strong

OF RAINY DAYS, LIBRARY SCHOOL, GUIDE DOGS AND POLICE CARS *** by David Faucheaux

SPECIAL NOTICES *** compiled by Bob Branco

READERS FORUM *** compiled by Bob Branco 

CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST *** by Bob Branco

***

A Letter from the Editor

 

Dear Readers,

 

Although it's September as I write this, the weather here in Pittsburgh is more like one would expect in August.  As suffocating and oppressive as heat and humidity can be, I still love summer and prefer it to any other season.  Soon, though, summer will wave his heated hands goodbye, and fall will entice us with first frosts and leaves that fall to the ground and carpet it with coats of many colors.

In addition to bringing us schooldays and the first downs of football, September will also bring yet another edition of Consumer Vision.  As I like to do in each of my letters, it's time for commendations to the writers who contributed to the last issue.

Ernie always provides a plethora of on-point information about blindness, with specific emphasis on adjusting to losing sight later in life.

Penny always has great tips, with information I would never have thought of or known about.  If any of you have used Penny's helpful hints, I'm sure she'd like to hear about your experiences.

James R. Campbell's writings feed us with heaping helpings of food for thought, and that makes him such an awesome asset.

With her homespun style, Karen Crowder offers up interesting experiences, including her most recent articles that showcased resilience and recovery. 

As for John Justice, I received really positive feedback on his contribution on dressing for success.  I was inspired by that piece to request help from a nonprofit called Dress for Success.  Although they are a worldwide organization, not everyone may be familiar with them, so I will share what they do. As their name implies, Dress for Success provides free clothing, accessories and personal items to women who are going on job interviews or have obtained gainful employment.  Their protocol in Pittsburgh for getting these items is being referred by a social service professional.  Upon receiving my request, I was contacted by a staff person to schedule an appointment.  Having found a job, I was eligible to receive three outfits, a pair of shoes, a purse, three pieces of jewelry, and three personal-care items.  As John pointed out so well in his article, being properly dressed for the job in which you are interested can make all of the difference between getting that position or being turned down for it despite stellar qualifications.  Even if we as persons who are blind or have low vision don't always like it, the world in which we live is very visual with first impressions often being lasting ones based on what a person sees outwardly. To find out if there is a Dress for Success office near you, visit:  www.dressforsuccess.com, or Google, Dress for Success and the community in which you live.

For men who have found work or are seeking employment, Pittsburgh has a clothing store called The Men's Wearhouse.  If your area has this retail store, they provide men with free outerwear, though I don't know what their protocol or eligibility criteria are.  (Again, a Google search will not only take you to their website but will also direct you to their store locator.) 

Having already said so much I couldn't conclude without thanking all of you who contact me with feedback, questions or both.  Please keep your correspondence coming, and thanks for reading with me.

 

    Sincerely:

    Terri Winaught,

    Editor

 

***

 

 

How We Should Handle Sincere Inquisitiveness

By Bob Branco

 

As we go through life as blind people, we often encounter questions from much of the sighted public. Sometimes these questions are sensible, but quite often, these questions appear ridiculous to us. In fact, many of us have a strong urge to respond sarcastically to such questions. Maybe we're tired of explaining ourselves, or maybe we feel that it's none of anyone's business how we eat, go to the bathroom, tie our shoes, shave, make love, etc.

 

As much as we want to scream at the questioners, we must bear in mind that there are people who are completely unaware of how the blind do things, or even if we can do them at all. This is why when we are asked dumb questions, we should take a deep breath, and for lack of a better term, put on our teaching hats. We need to explain ourselves as if we are teaching people about blindness. We should do it patiently and hold our collective tongues. If we become sarcastic, then it would appear to the sighted public that the blind have a general tendency to be smart alecks. I don't think that's what we want for ourselves - do you?

 

While it's true that we should be patient with sighted people who honestly don't know how we do things, I fully understand that some of the questions are

no one's business. Does anyone need to know how we make love? We wouldn't dare ask the sighted how they make love. With that said, I think the point has

been made. Within reason, we all can explain to one another how we do things, and we should be able to know when and when not to cross the line.

 

***

 

 

NATIONAL RECOVERY MONTH

by Terri Winaught

 

Since 1989, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), has celebrated September as what came to be called National Recovery Month. When implemented 26 years ago, this initiative was designated "Treatment Works" month in acknowledgement of drug and alcohol service providers.  In 1998, that designation was changed to National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Month with the focus of raising public awareness that persons experiencing substance abuse disorders can and do recover.

The last name change to this initiative was made in 2011 when September became known as National Recovery Month:  (www.recoverymonth.gov). During September, over 200 federal, state, local and nonprofit organizations collaborate on a different theme each year and disseminate information to offer hope that recovery from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occuring disorders is possible.  To use my story as an example, the help from supportive friends, mental health professionals and the importance of spirituality, my recovery is such that I have had no hospitalizations since January, 1988 and am currently employed in the mental health field at the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System (PMHS), as a Recovery Services Coordinator.  In that capacity, I lead a team of Peer Support specialists who promote Mercy's mission of being a healing, transforming presence in the communities this agency serves.  As team members, we do this by reaching out to persons served by Mercy programs and facilities to promote wellness of mind and body. Wellness, hope and recovery may sound like abstract concepts unless they are your lived experiences.

If you or a loved one needs help,call 1-800-662-4357 (1-800-662-HELP).

If you are feeling suicidal or are in significant emotional distress, phone the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).  To use TTY, call 1-800-799-4889.  By calling that hotline, you will be directed to the closest crisis line.

If you are not in crisis but simply need someone to talk to, there are warmlines throughout the United States.  Warmlines are telephone support services which are staffed by persons in recovery from mental health diagnoses, substance abuse disorders or both (for a list of warmlines, visit:  (www.warmline.org).  By reviewing the listed services, you will find that some are multilingual; some accept calls nationwide; and still others limit their services to persons who live in the county or state in which the warmline is located.  (There is a warmline in Arizona which people from anywhere in the United States can call once an hour, and there is a warmline in Orange county, California with speakers of English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Farsi.  This California-based support line also offers services to TTY users.)

 

To learn more about behavioral health recovery, like SAMSHA on Facebook; follow them on Twitter; listen to their YouTube channel; or sign up for RSS feeds.  To contact Terri Winaught with questions or comments, email:  t.winaught@verizon.net, or phone 412-263-2022, home; or 412-506-2004, cell; to which text messages can also be sent.

 

***

 

 

THE CHOICE

BY JOHN JUSTICE

 

      When a child is born blind or becomes blind through unanticipated circumstances, the parents have a choice.  How should they treat this child?  How can they prepare him or her for life?  At this point, the parents are overwhelmed by what has happened to their child.  They blame themselves and as a result, may make decisions which will create permanent damage beyond the blindness.  They can't imagine how the child will live from now on.  They try to picture what life will be like and with that in mind; it is easy to make the wrong choice.  Other family members may emphasize that impression by mistreating or abusing the blind child out of ignorance. Through the years, support groups have been created which try to help the parents in dealing with this devastating loss. Will they have the presence of mind to approach those organizations?  Or will their guilt and pride cause them to avoid the assistance they cannot manage without?  The natural response is to hide the child away from the world around them.  "How can we let people know what we have done?  How are we going to face our friends when they learn that our son or daughter is blind?" The fact is that in most cases, those parents had no control over what happened to the child.  For the most part, blindness is caused by illness, damage or disaster.  They couldn't change that situation any more than they could choose the color of their skin or whether they are tall or short.  This is where emotion can cause the parents to choose the wrong road. 

 

      For many years, schools for the blind were generated which would accept blind children and use specialized techniques to teach them.  Some of these schools still exist and they have tried to adjust their instruction to compensate for changes in the world around them.  When parents sent a child to one of these organizations, that choice served several purposes. 

The parents didn't think they had the training or ability to prepare the child for life as a blind person,

The choice relieved them of some of the guilt for having a blind child.  "We're doing the best we can in the circumstances." 

There is some truth to this observation.  The schools for the blind are staffed by teachers who can use their knowledge to teach the children while compensating for their blindness.  The concept was essentially a good one except for one important factor.  The blind children would have to exist in a sighted world.  Initially, they weren't taught how to deal with those who have normal vision.  In time, that changed and programs like Independent Living were developed.  The older child was allowed to live in an apartment like environment where they learned to care for themselves, clean their clothing, prepare meals and so on.  This change didn't occur until about twenty-five years ago. What happened to all of those children who didn't receive that specialized training?  Did Independent Living programs actually work?  Was the child able to live independently after completing his or her schooling?  As a matter of fact, thousands of visually impaired students went through schools for the blind without that kind of training.  Many went on to live satisfying and complete lives while others stopped growing as soon as school was over.

 

      Now, the child, who is a young adult, has to make a choice.  He or she may have the tools to build an independent life.  But at this point, it is the person's decision whether he or she will live independently or continue to rely on those around for support and guidance.  Like most important choices, this one is very hard.  Does the person have the skills to live alone?  In most cases, the answer to that, is yes.

 

      Will the person have the strength of personality to go out into the world as an independent adult?  Unfortunately, the answer to that, is no.  But why is this so?  Why don't more visually impaired people create their own lives and live them? 

 

      Each choice we make in life is a building block.  If the parents provide support and encouragement from the very beginning, the blind person may have the confidence to move on.  Conversely, if the parents attempt to shield, protect and isolate the blind child, then he or she will not have been able to develop the self-confidence to continue alone.  That is a common and extremely sad situation. Each decision, no matter how small, helps each of us to live and grow.  As blind people, we are responsible for using the training we have received to build our own lives. Where some go on to create a worthwhile and happy existence, others will have made the wrong choice and are now completely dependent on those around them.  There is one very serious problem with that choice.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Parents will grow old and die or become ill and won't be able to provide the kind of support we need. Life changes will come along which tend to destroy the sheltered existence we have come to rely on.  What happens then? 

 

      There is a point in life where we must choose to be either independent or dependent.  A dependent person has no choice in creating the quality of his or her life.  A dependent person must wait for someone to provide him or her with whatever is needed.  But what if there is no one left to provide that support?  What happens to those blind people who make the wrong choice?  Many end up in institutions where they are pushed aside and are given only the minimum of care.  Others end up with family members they don't like and who soon become resentful because they have to wait on someone hand and foot.  Still others become ill because they aren't receiving the care they need.  There are many variations on this theme.  All or most of them are horrible to consider.

 

      There is a point at which each of us has to make a choice which will impact the rest of our lives.  It all comes down to making the right choice. Wouldn't it be better to say, "Life might not be perfect but it's my life and I'm living it by myself, without help that may not come at all."

 

      We have all met blind people who are the product of a wrong decision made by the parents at an early age.  If we are living independently, it is difficult for us to relate to those who can't seem to understand what it's like to live independently. One of the best ways to teach someone is by example.  We can take the time to explain how we do things and in that way, we can show the dependent blind person the other side of life.  That might help but for some blind people, much more professional help is needed.  At that point, our best course of action might be to refer the individual to someone who can really help in a significant way.  Dependency is like a sponge.  A dependent person will drain someone of time, patience and understanding.  The best way to help that kind of blind person might be to introduce him or her to those who can begin rebuilding from the ground up.

      The conclusions expressed here are mine alone.  They are based on life experience and personal observation. Organizations like NFB and ACB have studies showing the percentage of blind people who actually reach complete independence.  The statistics tend to support the information included in this article. 

 

John and Linda Justice

Personal e-mail: JOHN_JUSTICE@VERIZON.NET

 

***

 

 

JERRY NASH'S GREAT ESCAPE

BY JAMES R. CAMPBELL

© August, 2015

 

I have been fascinated by reptiles every since I was ten years old. It began the previous year when the Frito Company put plastic dinosaurs in their six-pack snack-sized Fritos. I collected the dinosaurs from the Fritos packs and read about them in library books.

 

In the summer of 1964, Mamma caught a horned toad. I looked at it, rubbing my hand all over its spiny body, I fell in love with it right away.

 

"This is the closest thing that we have to a living dinosaur." I thought. And so it was that I became interested in the reptiles of today.

 

Horned toads are not true toads. They are lizards that live in the Southwestern united States and Mexico. Their bodies are covered in spines; this camouflages them and discourages predators. Some species live on ants, others eat other insects.

 

Horned lizards are members of the same family as the iguana. So are the Anoles. This is the family that the American Chameleon belongs to.

 

I had a Cuban anole for a brief time. These lizards are native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and other nearby islands. They are brown, arboreal lizards, which is to say they spend most of their time climbing in trees and other tropical vegetation. Their primary food is insects, although they will readily accept select fruit. They are large anoles, growing to eighteen inches in length

 

We were visiting in Calera, Oklahoma for a brief period, and just happened to take a Saturday morning trip to  a mall at Denison, Texas,  just a few miles from Calera, Oklahoma I had wanted an iguana,, but they were out. We saw the Anole there, and decided on him instead. The pet store sent him home in a paper-lined box with a mesh screen in it.

 

I loved my new pet. I named him Jerry Nash Campbell, after the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The excitement built as we drove across the bridge back into Oklahoma. I wanted to play with Jerry.

 

When we got home, I opened the lid to the box and tried to catch Jerry, I had him briefly, but he wriggled from my grip, and thus his great adventure began.

 

I went back into the living room. Dear and mamma could see the look on my face.

 

"What did you do?" Dear asked

"You let him get away from you, didn't you? Mamma asked.

"Oh good Lord!" Dear cried. She was scared of Jerry.

 

They looked for him in the bedroom several times. I felt like I had made the most grave mistake of my life.

 

"You dofus! Dear was nice enough to pay $13.13 for Jerry Nash, and you let him get away.

For somebody who is supposedly so smart, you sure don't have any sense!

This is your fault!"

 

Finally, around five that afternoon, mamma saw him. He had enjoyed himself, climbing in the closet. Mamma caught him, and we put him right back in his box. When Lisa came to visit, we caught grasshoppers to feed to him. Lisa enjoyed watching him eat the grasshoppers.

 

The night before we came home, Uncle Bill showed up at the house with a roll of twine. The family was there, visiting.

 

Uncle Hick, Aunt Hellen's husband, watched his brother-in-law tie twine around the box. Finally, he spoke.

"Bill! Why are you tying that box with that much twine?"

"If the lizard gets out in the car, this woman will wreck the car and kill them all before they get to Odessa!"

 

Needless to say, Jerry made it home safely. I got to play with him before I went back to TSB for my junior year.

He was not with us long. "James.

Jerry died yesterday." Mamma wrote in a letter that the housemother read to me in September. I was very sad. Jerry was replaced by Joe, an iguana that we had for less than a year.

 

Today, I am satisfied with my collection of rubber reptiles. They fill in for the real ones.  Whenever I want a reptile fix, I go to the local pet store, or wait for Courtney to catch a horned toad. I am committed to preserving the reptile population. If you keep one, make sure it has proper lighting housing, and a heat rock to regulate its body temperature. ,

 

I want Bubba and the Doll to have the chance that I had when I was growing up. Courtney caught a horned toad recently; I turned him loose in an ant bed in our yard. I was happy that bubba got the chance to enjoy him. Horned toads are endangered; we have become their worst enemy. I want Bubba and the Doll to know that they are servants, and our friends. I would love nothing better than to see a reptile revival in my lifetime, but for now, the rubber ones will suffice.   

 

***

 

 

 

My Big Trip

by Jens Naumann

 

I live in Canada, where it is naturally very cold every winter, and in the fall of 2014, my wife, child and I wanted something warmer, so we decided on an African country called Namibia, which lies Northwest of the country of South Africa.

 

My wife and child left in November 2014 to get a house and other details, while I stayed behind until our business was wrapped up. I was to join my family later.

I made all the reservations and ticket purchases online, including the buses and the airplanes, using the websites www.megabus.com, expedia.ca, and the Intercape site for Africa.

 

Then came the day in early December, when I, a totally blind traveller, would take on the challenge of this trip to Norther Namibia.

 

The trip was divided into five segments:

-A bus ride from My home to Toronto International Airport, about 200 miles; -flight from Toronto to London, England, about 8 hours flying -flight from London to Johannesburg, South Africa, about 11 hours of flying, -flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia, about 2 hours flying -bus ride from Windhoek to the town of Ondangwa, Northern Namibia, about 10 hours.

 

With two suitcases in hand and a backpack as my carry-on, I phoned a cab to take me to the Napanee bus station, which is really just a restaurant where the airport bus stops. I was nervously listening for the bus, as I was inside the restaurant due to the cold weather. I kept asking the restaurant staff if the bus is coming yet, and they probably were getting annoyed with my persistence, but finally the bus came and I met the driver as he was unpacking luggage from other passengers. The driver showed me the door and soon I was comfortable in the coach seat.

 

I listened for the announcement that we were at terminal "3" and got off the bus, meeting the driver as he unpacked my luggage. I asked if he could lead me into the terminal and just find the nearest security guard where they'd take it from there. All went well and soon airport staff was helping me check my bags and secure my boarding passes for the three upcoming flights.

 

Going through security meant I had to put all my personal effects, including my white cane, into a tray while I had to follow the voice of security staff through the little X-ray gate without touching the side. All went well, even though some steel implants I have in my head, set the alarm off and I was subject to a detailed scan on the other side. Then I was led to my gate, where I had to wait a few hours before my flight.

 

I kept asking for  the flight details shown on the gate monitor, either to airport attendants or nearby passengers. The more information I had, the better, I thought, in case anything changed.

 

Then the announcement came that all people with disabilities, small children and seniors should line up at the loading ramp. I stood up and edged my way over to where I heard an airport security guard ask passengers for their boarding passes and passports. I asked a passenger where the end of the line was, and someone volunteered to help. Then the airport staff spotted me and helped me on to the airplane. So far, so good.

 

In the airplane, I was shown where the rest rooms were by counting the seats back from mine, as well as the nearest emergency exit. During the flight, I did get up to use the rest room, and found it easy to locate as there was only one place to walk, that was, down the aisle.

I counted the seats back to my own seat, also having made some conversation with the passenger beside me so if I needed help, I'd have a friend already. Also, talking with other travelers actually makes the trip much more interesting, I find.

 

I arrived in London, and as I followed the other passengers out the door of the plane, an airport attendant was waiting for me to help me to my next gate. I had my flight numbers and other information on Braille, which I copied before my flight, so I'd be sure where I was going and when. Once in my next gate, I asked the attendant for help to go to a nearby restaurant which kept me fed for the eleven hour wait I had before me before my next flight.

 

The terminal in London was very quiet, but at one point a visiting attendant spoke with me about London culture and his personal challenges, which helped pass the time. An hour before my flight was scheduled to take off, there was a lot of noise as people sat with me to board the same flight. I asked  a nearby passenger to make sure I was still in the right place.

 

The next flight was long but nicely uneventful, and I arrived in South Africa on time. The nice warm weather was welcome as Canada was already very cold when I left.  I was helped again off the plane and even to a money exchange counter where I could get the Namibian currency. I was set for the final flight, which was only an hour away.

 

The last flight was short, but when approaching Windhoek, the pane took a bit of a dive due to an overhead storm, which put my stomach somewhere up by my neck, but the plane leveled off and the landing went well. The Windhoek airport was small, as I could hear everything close to me, even the luggage dispensers were in the same room you came in when landing. The attendant helped me get my luggage; I had wrapped a piece of yellow caution tape around each handle of my suitcases and had a sample of the ribbon in my pocket which let the attendant easily identify my suitcases. I took a cab into Windhoek and waited for my bus.

 

BY now I was super tired, struggling to stay awake. The lady who sat behind the counter at the bus terminal was in disbelief that I'd travel from Canada alone, but I was having fun. She led me onto the waiting bus when it arrived, and I hoped to sleep some on the next 10 hour ride.

 

A young man sat beside me who was interested in my travels, and he helped me get into gas stations we'd stop at on the trip so I could buy refreshments and use a rest room. I learned a lot of the area by talking with him, and even could use his cell phone as mine was totally incompatible with the network of Namibia.

 

My family was waiting for me when I arrived at 4:00 am in Ondangwa; it was a long trip, and well worth it.

 

***

 

The Tractor Ride

By John Justice

 

As a boy, I was always fascinated with motorized equipment of any kind.  Dad bought a small riding mower and I found that you could turn off the blades and ride the thing that way.  On a farm, there is a lot of room and very little danger as long as you use common sense.  So, Cowboy John would ride that mower around.  It didn't move very quickly so if I ran into a tree, no problem.  The worst that would happen would be that the motor would stall and I'd have to start it.

 

Then one day, Dad brought home a John Deer tractor.  He wanted to use a harrow on one of our fields and plant new crops the next season.  This wasn't a large tractor.  You could easily reach the seat while standing next to it.  A farm tractor like this one has large wheels on the rear and smaller steering wheels on the front.  It ran quietly compared to other tractors I had heard. 

 

One day, while my parents were away, I started the tractor and rode it up and down the driveway.  Thank God I didn't hit anything like my Mom's grape arbor.  I loved it!  I was driving a vehicle around and I was blind.  Wow! Wow! And double wow!

 

It was a few days later when my folks left me at home and went off to do some work.  I found the tractor and started it.  This time, I was going to go even further.  I put the thing into Low gear and listened while the motor sound bounced off of our garage and a tree or two.  I came to the lane which ran along our property and down into the fields.  My idea was to go down the lane and drive around in the field for a while.  I heard the rail fence on my left and made the right hand turn.  What I didn't realize was that Dad had fitted the tractor with a front loader bucket.  That made the thing at least three or four feet longer.  When I turned right, I heard a grinding, cracking and crunching sound which made me stop. I turned off the motor and carefully went toward the front to see what had happened.  We had a rail fence ALONG THE EDGE OF OUR PLOUGHED FIELDS.  It was about forty inches tall.  The front loader had totally destroyed about twelve feet of that fence.

 

I got the thing turned around and brought it back to the barn.  As soon as Dad came home, he figured out things quick enough.  What happened next was something I never planned on. He went to the local farm supply store and when he came back, he had twelve foot rail sections, several posts and some tools I would become very familiar with.  There was a post hole digger, a tool used to create narrow holes where the posts were seated.  He brought me a big coping saw, a large device which has a very sharp blade on one side.  He then introduced me to a tool called a wedger.  This device would cut the ends of the poles into narrow wedges which would fit into the holes on the posts.  He showed me a sledge hammer which I would use to drive the posts into their holes.

 

My job was to completely rebuild that fence.  Dad measured off the distances and marked the poles so I'd know where to cut them.  He showed me how to use the wedger and said,  "Okay John,  You are going to fix that fence.  You can use the broken off stubs to know where to put the new posts.  You can follow my marks and use the saw to cut the poles the right length.  Next, you'll use the wedger to fix the poles so they would fit."

 

He showed me that each post had pre-drilled holes in it.  I was to dig holes, set the posts and cut new rails to fit them.  He warned me about making sure that the holes in the posts were facing the right way.  "How are you going to do that?" I had no idea.  I can wreck a fence as good as any man but I couldn't imagine how I was going to get those posts set correctly.  After a minute, he sighed and pulled down a roll of heavy Manila rope.  "Tie one end of this through the hole of one of the posts that are still standing.  Then move along, unwinding the rope until you find another post that is still standing.  Pull the slack tight and tie it."  He used smaller pieces of rope which he tied around each new post.  "When you set the posts, make sure that this rope is right at the ground level.  Then, your posts will all be the right height."

 

The next morning, I was brought out to the location and my tools and equipment were laid out where I could find them.  It took me most of the day to restore the broken fence but I did succeed.  I cut the last pole just a tiny bit too short.  After using the wedger, I found that the pole would rest in place but it wouldn't take much to dislodge it .  I was so mad at this point that steam was coming out of my ears.  I started back to the barn with the idea of getting a hammer and nail and securing the pole that way.  When I reached the barn, my Dad was ahead of me.  "It won't work," he said.  "In the cold, those posts will change angle just a little.  That's why we don't nail them in all of the time."  In Less than two minutes, he had cut and prepared another pole.  "I bought a few extras just in case," he said.  I swear I heard him chuckle as I went down to the fence and fitted the last pole in place. 

 

A few minutes later, Dad came down and looked things over.  "You did well, Son.  I hope you learned your lesson." We gathered up the tools and wood and went home.  That night, I slept like a rock.  I never tried to ride that tractor again.  Can you blame me?      

 

JOHN AND LINDA JUSTICE

PERSONAL E-MAIL:  john_justice@verizon.net

 

 

***

 

From the Blog of Leonore Dvorkin

"Seeing Things in a New Way"

Posted to my blog on May 27, 2014

 

I am writing this today because a friend of mine, and her serious eye problems, have been much on my mind of late. Also, most of my current editing clients are blind, so I think a lot more about eyes and eye health and blindness these days than I used to in years past.

My friend has to have surgery soon on her left eye for very extreme glaucoma; if she does not, she will lose her sight in that eye. The glaucoma came many years after an injury to that eye; some kid threw a rock and hit her in the eye.  She has suffered from that injury ever since, and she's now middle-aged.

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, a kid named Kevin threw a rock that hit me in my left eye, too. But it did not affect my vision. I do remember, though, that it hurt, frightened, and angered me. The eye bothered me for some time after that, but it eventually got well.

Kevin was quite troubled, I think – although I don't know if that was the standard term for children with emotional problems back in the 1950s. He was an only child. His mother was poor and single, and she died not long after the rock-throwing incident. Our class had to go to her funeral. I remember the boy crying bitterly, all broken down with grief and probably fear.  He was left an impoverished orphan.

Kevin left our school after his mother's death.  I hope he had relatives to go to, that they treated him well, and that he became happier and better adjusted. I remember him as a skinny, poorly dressed kid who did badly in school and had no friends.

Why he threw the rock at me, I don't know. I was not his friend, but neither was I his enemy. In general, I tried hard to be nice to others if they were nice to me, and I tried to stay out of the way of the others. No one seemed to want to even try to befriend Kevin.

I have often thought of him in the decades since then, and I have often wondered what became of him. I was and am sorry for him. Nonetheless, I am glad, of course, that he did not injure my eye badly. I have glaucoma, but it's a mild case, well controlled with medication (Combigan drops), and I assume it is unrelated to any past injury. I'm now 68, so some eye problems are to be expected.   

In addition to her physical problems, my friend with the very serious glaucoma is also out of work right now. She lost her last two jobs -- or rather, she lost one and had to quit the other -- due to eye pain and stress. Her eye is in really, really bad shape; that's plain to any observer. It must hurt a lot. So, after her surgery, she will have the urgent need to try to find another job. What a dual burden to have to try to bear by herself! She is unmarried and has no children.

My husband and I have certainly had our share of problems, some of them physical. I have had nine major operations in my lifetime, and I'm a 16-year breast cancer survivor. David has had a few physical problems of his own, but at 70, he's in great shape, and he has none of the chronic health problems that so often plague men of his age: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart trouble, diabetes, etc.

So very often, I have to consider how fortunate we are compared to so very many others -- and I don't mean just miserable, poverty-stricken people in third-world countries. I mean people whom we know personally, middle-class people with good educations who have fallen on hard times of various sorts. It often makes me very sad, because I can usually do nothing to alleviate their problems except be their friend.

I hope that my friendship is of some help to the woman who needs the eye operation, which she will have soon. Then I hope she recovers well and rapidly, and that she can find a new job very soon, as well.

I cared about her and her fate before all this, as I have known her for some time, and I care even more now. Looking back across the decades, I know that my long-distance caring about Kevin cannot help him (if he's even still alive), and I doubt that I or my family could have done much for him back then, either. But the odd, coincidental connection between him, my eyes, my friend, her eye, and the stories behind the blindness of some of my editing clients has made me think a lot these past several days and weeks. It has made me see several different things in new and different ways.

 

Update to "Seeing Things in a New Way"

Posted to my blog on January 5, 2015

I am happy to report that my friend with the serious eye problems had a cornea transplant and is doing well thus far. In addition, she has a new job. Here's hoping that her recovery will be a full one and that she will continue to enjoy and do well at the new job. 

Email: leonore@leonoredvorkin.com

Home 303.985.2327 (best number) / Cell 303.885.1728

My website: www.leonoredvorkin.com (books, articles, language services, publishing help, and more)

David's website: www.dvorkin.com

 

 

***

 

THE SUMMER OF THE VEGETABLE GARDEN

By Susan Jones

 

    When I was seven, our family moved from our farmhouse in the country into the little village of Wayne, Illinois.  It was there that my mother introduced me to the wonders of growing vegetables in our own garden, and selling them. 

 

    My friend Jannie made a poster with vivid colors:  Cucumbers for a nickel, tomatoes for a dime, green peppers for 15 cents.  (I could even see the colors!)  Sometimes we sold sweet corn and cantaloupe that my mother would buy in bulk from another stand.  Sometimes we sold bunches of zinnias.  The vegetable stand was mostly my project, but Jannie would sometimes work with me, and my older brother Doug would work, too, when he wasn't off delivering newspapers and mowing lawns.  I thought it was great fun, and was especially proud of the $120.00 we made over the summer. 

 

    Years later, my mother told me the vegetable stand was her plan to help me learn to handle money and deal with people.   I thought it was remarkable how she could make learning so much fun for me that I hardly realized I was learning. 

 

    Handling money, and dealing with people are important life skills.  Blind children need to learn them as well as sighted children, if they are to be successful in completing their education and getting good jobs, and generally getting on in the world.  Having worked for over 35 years serving people with the Social Security Administration, I would say my parents gave me a really good start. 

 

***

 

 

The Cultural Collision

By John Justice

 

Recently, an article was posted which was describing the point of view of someone in Australia who appeared to be concerned about the impact of his life by those who state religious or cultural differences.  I can understand the concern showed by various religious or cultural classes but on the other hand, no one should be forced to live as these groups do unless it's their choice.

Technological developments in communication, and the introduction of what is now called "social media",  has created a situation which might become explosive if not handled with care.  The United States has been dealing with this issue for hundreds of years and it still isn't resolved.

Two hundred years ago, immigrants were admitted into this country and normally tried to find communities of people from their own backgrounds or religious preferences.  Places like China Town and Little Italy grew and prospered.  Entire sections of New York City became known for their local flavor.  If a person in one of those communities decided to become a part of the larger population, he or she would learn the cultural differences and try to adopt them with varying levels of success.  There were, and still are, prejudicial attitudes which made it even more difficult for a foreign national to become part of this country.  At one time, hundreds of buildings in San Francisco's China Town were burned to the ground by people who didn't understand the different life styles.  In New York City, there were huge riots when Irish immigrants tried to "infiltrate" parts of the city where they hadn't been known before.

Our most flagrant problem was racially based and still exists, even today.

In some parts of this country, in spite of laws and regulations, black people are treated differently because of the color of their skin. 

Numbers tell an irrefutable story.  Discrimination based on race or creed still exists but the documented cases represent a tiny portion of life in America.  For an individual who suffers this kind of mistreatment, it seems like everyone is abusing him or her.  But if you take these reports apart, a small percentage of the population in this country still holds that kind of belief.  Unfortunately, we are all inundated by news reports, socially based programming and so-called reality shows.  How a Korean immigrant eats and lives becomes big news.  If a Chinese man is attacked and beaten, it suddenly is an issue that everyone should be concerned about.  There is no isolation and for that reason, we are all submitted to things that many of us aren't concerned about.

Here is where our current society has gone wrong.  If there are specialized foods in a cafeteria, intended for consumption by Islamic students, are our own food choices being threatened? The hell they are! All those foods mean is that we now recognize the special needs of certain groups and try to accommodate them in facilities which are serving everyone equally. Conversely, an Islamic group attempted to force the local school system to remove pork from the menu.  Here, you have a classic example of reverse discrimination.  In this school district, Moslems are a tiny minority;  yet they tried to force changes which impacted every student, based on their own religious beliefs. 

If a sign in a community has both English and Cyrillic characters on it, does that mean that we can't use the sign?  Of course not.  If a program is broadcast with Second Audio Programming in another language, is our right to the use of English being challenged?  You have to be kidding! We are all being subjected to a kind of sensitivity training.  Changes in regulations protect the rights of people who choose to use their own language for communicating with each other.  These groups do exist.  At this point in time, English is no longer the primary language in many parts of the world.  However, there must be an agreement on which language is used in business transactions,  Which form of measurement is used in engineering, which type of computer language is used for International correspondence. Many countries used metric measurements when building vehicles and equipment.

 

Today, every mechanic has to carry an equal number of tools which use the Metric or Linear system.  Many larger businesses will pay an employee higher wages if he or she speaks and can communicate in another language.

 

Yet a narrow-minded point  of view, based on religious or cultural differences, is still here and will probably never vanish entirely.  I knew a man who worked for FedEx.  He spent a lot of time in China, setting up the satellite systems which are now being used by FedEx to send information all over China and beyond.  During his stay, he met and married a lovely Chinese girl.  He brought her home and never expected to encounter problems.  When some of his co-workers realized that he was married to a Chinese girl, invitations to parties and outings suddenly dried up.  Then, the management of the apartment complex where he lived attempted to evict him on some kind of trumped up charge.  He challenged them in Small claims Court and won. After a year of this nonsense, Tim requested and was granted a transfer to the West Coast.  He moved with his wife to Santa Rita, California.  The difference was astounding!  No one even looked twice at Tim and Lingling when they went out for walks, together. Lingling joined several local women's groups and all of them welcomed her without question.  She studied English and is now a teacher  in Santa Rita, instructing newly arrived Chinese immigrants.  Why is this happening?  There must be a hundred reasons for it but essentially, people on the West Coast have long since accepted multi-racial families.  Seeing an American with an oriental wife is an everyday occurrence.

 

Hopefully, in future, we will all learn to accept different cultures and races but for now, people will be people and prejudice is a common commodity.    

 

JOHN AND LINDA JUSTICE

PERSONAL E-MAIL:  john_justice@verizon.net

 

***

 

 

A TSB SUCCESS STORY

AN INTERVIEW WITH JULIUS HAYNES

BY JAMES R. CAMPBELL

© August, 2015

 

The following is an interview with Julius Haynes, a former student of the Texas School For The Blind in Austin, Texas. It concerns itself with his job as a switchboard operator for an  environmental quality company. His story is truly inspirational, even today it is timely. He was unwilling to settle for a job that paid subminimum wage at a sheltered workshop. Here  is what he says. 

 

I attended TSB from 1966 until 1977.

I started out in Dorm K and finished in dorm D. M favorite subject was history.

 

While there, I began training as a switchboard operator at age fifteen. I was trained by Tony Rocha, one of the switchboard operators at the school. I graduated in 1977, and worked at the Lighthouse for the blind in Austin. We were working with helmets for the Army, and I would set the liners in the helmets and attach the belt buckles.

 

Eventually, I decided that a lighthouse job wasn't what I wanted from life, so I began looking for something better. Marilyn Buck, the school counselor for what at that time was the Texas Commission For the Blind, got me a job with Unitech, a computer company based in Austin. I was responsible for expediting and arranging the shipment of IC chips that were components for circuit boards  for computers and other electronic devices.  I began working for Unitech on August 3rd, 1978. It was a good job; one that I enjoyed.

 

I worked for this company until they were bought out by Radian Corporation in 1980. Radiant Corporation was an environmental engineering firm. As he describes there work, it is wide-ranging.

 

They test the quality of water and soil samples. They would go to abandoned army bases and clean up the water and soil at these sites. They have a hand in the construction of roads, bridges, and toll roads. Radiant Corporation was bought out by URS in 1998; this is another environmental engineering firm. Ecom bought them out in 2014.

 

At the present, Ecom has 155000 employees. It is a global company that works anywhere around the world. Julius told me that URS had some hand in cleaning up the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico in 2010, and the Fukishima Dai-Iche nuclear power plant that was crippled in the tsunami in Japan in March of 2011. He is unclear as to how big their role was, or what it entailed.

 

He told me during our interview that he was well treated by his coworkers, and that they saw him as an equal. He obtained the Jaws screenreader in 2000; he told me that this helped him on his job.

 

With 900 fellow employees working at the Austen plant that is a part of a company with a global reach, one would expect that a switchboard operator's job is hectic. With so many buttons to push, and calls coming in nonstop, it can be fast-paced and grueling at times. 

 

All of the companies that Julius worked for were global in scope; he was very fortunate that he got a job with such prestigious firms.  

 

Progress, however, has eliminated the switchboard operator's job as we once knew it. Computers have advanced far beyond the capabilities of those that Unitech built in 1978.

Everything is automated now, and the switchboard operator's job that Julius knew is a thing of the past.

He did have a good run of it, thirty-six years. He told me that the severance package that they gave him was reasonable.

 

Julius is retired now; he spends his free time with his wife Sheila, who works as a CNA for a nursing home in Austin. She is well respected and loved by coworkers and patients alike. She enjoys her job.

 

Julius misses his job; who wouldn't after thirty-six years? But he is satisfied with the good run that he had.

 

This in a time when the greater majority of the blind are unemployed, or underemployed in sheltered workshops. His is truly a success story that I hope will inspire other young people to reach for something better that a subminimum wage job in a sheltered workshop. 

 

***

 

 

Sports Talk in Boston

By Bob Branco

 

I will assume that most of you are sports fans.  How many of you have listened to WEEI, one of the two major sports talk stations in Boston?  If you live too far away, you can still get it on the internet.  I listen faithfully, so I have some strong opinions about some of the things they do.  The one thing that bothers me the most is when these professional talk show hosts pick on one another during their own shows.  The hosts on the morning show publicly made fun of Gary Tangway today because he should have known that nobody would answer the studio door this morning when he tried to come in early.  Other hosts have spoken publicly about the hatred between two other hosts.  On the Mustard and Johnson show, they spend too much time picking on each other.  Other hosts have publicly predicted when some of their colleagues will get fired.  Yet other hosts will dwell on the suspensions of some of their co-workers. 

 

Is this the kind of behavior that listeners have to put up with?  If some of what was said is actually true, then it should be handled internally and not for the public to hear.  If I was a sponsor of that radio station, I would stop investing money, because I firmly believe that some of what I hear is quite childish.

 

Everyone makes mistakes.  If Tangway forgot that no one would answer the studio door this morning, that's fine.  We don't need to hear about it for 15 minutes.  I'm sure that Tangway wouldn't want that public embarrassment, and neither would many of you.  If Tim Bens and Dale Arnold can't stand each other, why should I have to know about it?  This isn't a soap opera.  I would much rather hear Dale's and Tim's comments about sports without wondering if they're going to throw any punches during a crossover.  When Minnihan got suspended last year for insulting a female sideline reporter, that was his fault. Yet his colleagues threw him under the bus over and over again until he returned. 

 

This is sports talk, not playground gossip.  If you disagree, I will respect your opinion, but I do welcome your comments.

 

***

 

 

 

I Sat There

by Deon Lyons

 

I sat there in disbelief. I sat there in shock, with waves of fear and panic swelling inside of me like a high Quoddy tide.

 

I am sorry Mr. Lyons, but I am afraid there isn't anything more we can do for you." The neurologist continued, "It appears that your vision loss is permanent. Once again, I am sorry for your loss."

 

With those words, all  of my hope was dashed from existence. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not believe what was happening to me.

 

I sat there in the exam chair in Boston, alone, confused and blind. My heart rose up in my throat and then sank like a stone, sending ripples through the pool of my past. "What in hell was happening to me? What have I done wrong to deserve this? How can I correct my shortcomings and make a deal with God so I can get this train back on the rails? What in hell do I do now?" My mind was being assaulted by a constant barrage of mind swelling waves of dark and murky waters.

 

A thousand visions came screaming through my mind as I sat there in that exam room at tufts Hospital. I sat there alone with my thoughts and fears. The doctor kept talking to me, but I couldn't hear any more of what he was saying. The blow had been struck. The final upper cut sent me spinning down onto the mat for the count. I lay there on the floor, completely disoriented and totally vulnerable to every fear imaginable. I lay there, trying to get up, but unable to. I lay there on the mat, a beaten man, drowning in a sea of humility and self pity.

 

He kept talking, and my mind kept racing out of control. I saw flashes of myself as an old man with a cane, bouncing down a corridor from wall to wall, like a pinball from an old arcade hall. I saw myself sitting in a dark room, lifeless and alone. I saw myself, lost in the haunted woods of a fearful future, without any hope of finding my way back into the world that seemed now to be just out of reach. I saw myself again and again struggling with everything under the sun.

 

Only once in my life had I ever experienced quite the same feelings of complete despair. The day when my wife and I found out that my new born son had the same cancer that I had been born with, which was the same cancer that was the main cause for my sudden vision loss that darkened my world just a few short days before. That day, much like this one, was a gut wrenching, never ending stormy day.

 

As I was pushed in my wheelchair back to my hospital room, I felt a sense of hopelessness and disbelief. I thought I was going to die. I just felt that bad. The waves of fear and anxious torment came at me one by one. Their never ending onslaught took its toll on me as I struggled to make sense out of any of the horror novel that I had been thrown into. A fever of anger rose and fell inside me. The tides of destruction were ripping through my heart and emptying my soul. Like a pummeled, battered and bruised boxer between rounds, I sat in my chair with my head hanging down in unmistakable defeat, dazed and confused. I

Wasn't sure what round we were in, but I knew that it was far from over.

 

The call was made back home with the news, and also a plea for someone to come and get me the hell out of Boston. I hated that town. I hated the state and the county and the street the hospital was on and everyone that worked there. Hell, I hated everyone and everything. How could the world keep turning when I was going through this sci-fi movie from hell?

 

I sat in my hospital room unaware of anything going on around me. There were still people in the hospital being saved and cared for as I sat there, but I couldn't have cared in the least. The hospital kept on being a hospital, which was the same hospital that I had such great hopes for just a couple of days earlier. I was confident that when my son had brought me to Boston, they surely would be able to fix me. They would surely be able to help me see again. They had to.

 

Unfortunately, they didn't because they couldn't, and I hated them for it.

 

As the hours rolled by, I sat there waiting for my son to come and take me home. A movie played over and over in my mind. It usually started a little different every time, but it always ended the same, with me being alone in a dark room. Alone, blind, scared, frightened and just a poor, pitiful mess. Every movie that played out in my mind had me cast as the main character in a sightless dark and cruel plot.

 

How was I ever going to be able to go on? How could I ever learn how to live this way? How was I ever going to be a grandfather, or a father, or a son, or a husband, or a brother, or a nephew, or a cousin, or an uncle, or just a plain man when I was totally and horribly blind? I had too much to do. I had too many things that were unfinished. I needed to be able to see. I needed, wanted, craved, yearned for and desired all of the things that had been stolen from me in the blink of an eye.

 

After three or four hours, my son finally did show up, and he helped me out of the hospital and across the street to the parking garage. The world around me outside was as dark as my room inside the hospital. They seemed like the same place. They seemed the same, lightless, unfamiliar thing. So did me.

 

Once we crossed The Tobin Bridge and were out of Boston I finally did get a chance to take a deep breath. I could sense the world still going on around me as we raced up the interstate towards Maine. Knowing that we were going home had some kind of affect on me. I had a calming soothing feeling for the first time in a few days, and it felt good.

 

My son turned to me in the car and said something that still echoes in my head to this day. He spoke to me words that I have tried to live each day since then.

 

"You know dad," He said. "It looks like one door has closed, but I think another one will open up for you."

 

I started to cry under my breath and as he touched my arm I felt at that moment that somehow, everything would be ok.

 

I prayed to God that afternoon to take control of my days, to take the steering wheel and help me through the journey that was ahead of me. It is a struggle every day to admit that I need help, and guidance, and support, but I do.

 

It has been two years, and I still hear my son's words. I hear his words and I am going through the open door. I am going through and I am excited today. I am excited because of the possibilities that lie before me.

 

I am still blind. I still grieve and morn the loss of my sight. I also know that all of my grief and sorrow and disbelief will not help me get through this day.

 

I made a personal commitment to myself to take any challenge head on, and to not pass up any opportunities to live and learn. I am looking for new doors to open myself. I did lose my sight, but I still can see. Oh how I can see.

 

I have prayed many days since then and continue to ask God to give me the strength to get through a day. Just one day. Just this day. There have been many days, and I have pulled through each of them a better man. Well, I should say, most of them.

 

Those dark days in Boston are behind me now. My story and my life race on as I hang on for dear life. Most days I feel that I can see things more clearly than ever before. With the loss of my sight, I have discovered the visions of my future, and hold tightly to the memories of my past. The possibilities are endless, countless, and limitless. I feel more excited now over the possibilities than probably any other time in my life. Blindness took away so much from me, but it also seems to be willing to give me everything that I will open up my eyes to. My future lives inside of me, and nowhere else.

 

If I can manage to get my dusty, rusty butt up and out of my complacently, comfy chair, I should be ok.

 

Now, where did I leave my cane?

 

***

 

 

Our Crazy Cats

a non-fiction story

by Frances D. Strong

 

One spring day our daughters, Ruth and Elizabeth were riding their horses, when something unusual happened. A cat came running towards them wailing, "Me-ow!"

 

They were near a residential area so the sisters stopped their horses and Elizabeth jumped down. With compassion for the strange cat she said picking her up,"Oh, kitty. What is the matter? Are you lost? Let's go ask some of these people about you."

 

No one claimed to have seen that cat before. The girls decided to leave her and cantered off with their horses. But the crazy cat came running after them all the more. Elizabeth looked back and said, "Ruth, Look! That cat is running after us. I can't stand it. I'm going to take her home."

 

Well, I didn't know what to do but wait and ask my husband. Looking closely at this tortoise-shell female, I noticed her swollen belly and said, "This is probably why someone did not want her. She's going to have babies. It is terrible that someone would put out a nice cat like this."

 

So Mystery, as she was called, came to live with us. This was a house cat and did not like to be outside at all. Mystery scratched and wailed at the door or tore at the screen windows. My husband threw water on her but in a matter of minutes she was back, demanding to be let in. I gave in at times since she was pregnant.

 

"Okay," I told the girls, "fix up a place in your bathroom for Mystery. She will have to stay in there."

 

Mystery was very happy with her accommodations. One morning I went in to feed her and found she had three little kittens. Two were like her and one black.

 

The girls named the sisters Freckles and Sarah. The black kitten was given to a friend. The kittens were adored and had the life of luxury. Mystery was an excellent mother attending her young. Nevertheless, I preferred cats to be outside. When the kittens were old enough, I insisted the girls train the kittens to be on the porch and eventually outside.

 

Mystery did not appreciate this arrangement. She picked up the kittens one by one and deposited them at the back door saying, "Meow! My babies need to be inside."

 

It was a battle that I was determined to win. Me against Mystery. Sometimes I spent hours it seemed petting Mystery and watching the kittens. I was like a nanny for her little ones. As they grew Mystery continued to demand that she come into the house. Even with the water splashes and scolding, she persisted. Well, something had to give. Mystery was taken to our local SPCA shelter. There were tears in the girls eyes as we took our cat into the building.

 

I asked the assistant, "Please let me know if our cat is not adopted. I will call each day to check on her."

 

Well, in two days Mystery was adopted. I guess someone wanted a nice house cat. Since Ruth left for college a year later, her chosen cat Sarah was given to a friend who lived in the country like we did. He wanted Sarah and her four kittens because he said that the mice were taken over his car repair shop.

 

Elizabeth had a few more years at home to enjoy her cat, freckles. Everyone adored freckles. When visitors came, freckles greeted them with meows and purrs. I remember a cousin with her little three year old boy. He stroked Freckles as she held her head high and lifted her back for his little hands. Then the young boy sat down on the sandy driveway with his legs stretched out in front of him. Freckles gladly lay across is knees lapping up his attention. Everyone said that Freckles was the sweetest cat they had ever seen.

 

Freckles had several litters and I would take them to the SPCA or advertise them in our newspaper ads. They were so cute and gentle that the kittens easily were adopted.

 

When Elizabeth moved away too, Freckles and I held down the fort. She followed me everywhere, sometimes in the garden picking or hoeing vegetables or hanging out clothes. She did not mind Dixie, our dog either. They got along fine for Freckles would not run from her but rub against Dixie's neck in a friendly manner.

 

One time Jimmy, my husband, told me I must have dropped a sock at the door when bringing in the laundry. So I picked it up that day. The next time I noticed another sock on the ground halfway between the clothesline and the house. Again I thought I must have dropped it from the basket.

 

Then in a few days, to my astonishment, I saw Freckles with my clothespin bag laid out on the ground where I had picked up the sock. Clothespins were strewn out from the clothesline to the bag.

 

"It was Freckles," I told Jimmy. "She must think that she is helping me by bringing in the clothes and clothespin bag. Can you believe it?"

 

Jimmy said with a smile, "That is the craziest cat we've ever had."

 

Freckles loved to take walks with me and Jimmy after dark. Little Dixie would run ahead and off into the fields looking for interesting rodents or something. But Freckles trotted just ahead of us sometimes meowing to let us know that she was there.

 

One day I could not find freckles. We do not know what happened to her but assume that a car ran over her or a wild animal may have gotten her. Perhaps it was her time to go to her happy hunting ground.

 

Thankfully we saved a few of Freckles kittens. One went to Ma-Ma, my mother's home. I kept Patches, a pretty tortoise-shell cat like her mother. Two of Patches'  kittens went to Elizabeth's apartment when she was married and went to duke University.

 

I finally had Patches spayed and she lives a comfortable life with me. Patches, like her mother, greets us when we come into the yard. She also likes those walks at night. She brings dead moles sometimes to my back steps. I guess this is a gift for me showing me her hunting abilities.

 

When I found another cat for my granddaughter, Patches ruled the roost. It took a while before Patches accepted another cat in her domain. Now Jewel and Patches eat together and are friends.

 

I love cats!

 

***

 

 

Of Rainy Days, Library School, Guide Dogs, & Police Cars

By David Faucheux

 

"We understand you were taken to class in a police car?" the Jeopardy auditioner inquired.  I hoped that this bit of contestant trivia would put me over the top and land me a spot as one of the few blind contestants to have ever appeared on Jeopardy.  So I took a deep breath and began the tale:

 

"The sky had been hemorrhaging rain all morning, and it was rapidly approaching 12:30.  If I were not to be late, I'd have to start out for my afternoon LIS7002 reference class soon.  It was my first semester of graduate school, and I really did not want to start by skipping a 90 minute lecture class because of monsoon-like conditions.  I had worked so hard on cultivating a good impression even recently wearing a linen blazer and raw silk tie to the orientation for newly matriculated library and information science students despite the heat and suffocating humidity of a Louisiana summer.

 

"I explained to Nader that though he came equipped with webbed paws and a double coat that made him able to swim and quasi-waterproof, I thought it best he remain inside and consider taking a siesta near the apartment couch.  He never liked wearing a raincoat and hated getting his tires wet.  He yawned and decided that I had an excellent idea.  He was never up for being damp in air conditioning under a desk.

 

"Clad in a cheap green plastic rain poncho, I started out clumsily maneuvering my white cane like   a nervous mine sweeper.  The Amazonian rainfall made it hard to hear ambient sounds that could cue me to my environment.  I walked; suddenly, I slipped on a chunk of sidewalk.  I knew I was broken!  I landed.  I seemed to be in one piece and got up.  I walked some more but realized I had walked too long and missed a turning.  I heard the enclosed echoes of an entrance.  I gladly betook my sodden self inside. 

 

"A female voice wondered if she might help me.  I inquired as to my coordinates.  GPS had not been imagined yet.  I learned, topographically speaking, that I had discovered the LSU Campus Security post by the campanile.  I was offered a ride to class.  I took it. 

 

"I was startled while riding in the back to realize the door handles were missing.  I pointed this out to the driver and she laughed.  'Baby, don't you know this is a police car?' she wondered.  I then scrunched down in my seat to avoid being recognized! 

 

"I made it to class only seven minutes late, but I was a soggy, squishy  mess."

 

(Mild applause was heard and I wondered if I had been chosen for the actual game in Los Angeles?)

 

 

***

Special Notices

 

 

I created a facebook group for blind travelers who travel internationally, so that they can discuss their past and present travel experiences. If you would like to join, you can look the group up from the facebook's searchbox as:  blind international travelers

and click the join button upon opening. If you have further questions, feel free to email me at:

adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com

 

 

REVIEW of Chance Encounter, by Tony Medeiros

Reviewed by Leonore H. Dvorkin

 

Chance Encounter , which could be described as a Cinderella story with a twist, is considerably more complex than the author's first book, Blocked. That is an entertaining novel about the pitfalls of online dating. For details of that book, the cover image, buying links, and the author's photo, see the author's website: www.dvorkin.com/tonymedeiros/

 

This novel has a lot in it about the working world of the narrator, Joseph Perry (JP), who makes a very good living as an Operations Specialist. His company, Boston Consulting House, analyzes why other companies are doing badly and what can be done to rescue them. This professional experience, plus his basic can-do mindset, lead him to dream big for Carolyn Laplante, the attractive and intriguing young housecleaner whom he happens to observe at a cafe one winter morning as she tries to drum up business. It takes him a while to find her again, as he never got her name or her business card, but find her he does. Things go from there, both professionally and personally--and finally, very personally indeed—as Carolyn rises in the world.  

 

Of course it requires much more than the wave of a wand to transform Carolyn from someone who earns a very low income and looks it to a glamorous and self-confident executive running a thriving and diverse business.  But together, Joe and she accomplish what he always knew was possible for her and what she had scarcely dared to dream of.

 

In spite of various warnings from Joe at various points, Carolyn's overblown ambition becomes her downfall. They both have to suffer in different ways before she gets set on a more sustainable career path and Joe realizes that his own work is no longer bringing him self-respect or happiness—plus what he has to do to get those back.     

 

A central theme of the book is the issue of image. In both of his novels thus far, Medeiros has his main characters move from being very concerned with image at the beginning, enthusiastically embracing the perks that a polished one can bring, to recognizing that it is character that matters in the end.     

 

Secondary and cameo characters in Chance Encounter include Joe's bosses, colleagues, friends, and parents, as well as a sleazy Massachusetts senator, Jack O'Brien, and his somewhat sycophantic aide, Steven. Sharply contrasted with the senator is James Zajac, whose honor and work ethic have never dimmed during his long rise from stock boy to president of C.T. Rubber. Zajac reminds Joe of his own hardworking father, a retired engineer. All those characters are very well drawn, as are the author's descriptions of parts of Boston and the surroundings, both high-priced and rundown areas.  There are fascinating descriptions of some luxurious places that most of us plebeians will never step foot in, such as the historic Hotel Viking, in Newport, Rhode Island.  

 

There is a fascinating relationship between Joe and Peggy, the wife of his best friend, Tom; the three of them are old friends. It's almost brother/sister, but not quite, with some subtle, underlying sexual tension that never gets overtly expressed. Joe's mainly just a very good friend to her, and Peggy helps him out at times, too. Personally, I find this relationship one of the most interesting in the entire book, as well as quite believable.

 

For a romance novel, the actual sex scenes are relatively few and rather understated, not very graphic at all. As in Blocked, the author leaves a lot to the reader's imagination. So if you are looking for a cheap bodice-ripper, look elsewhere. But if you enjoy well-developed novels featuring diverse difficulties and happy endings, then this one is for you. 

 

 

 

 

 

The 6Dot Braille Label Maker is now available.  Voices of Xperience, LLC is partnering with Logan Tech, manufacturer of the new 6Dot Braille Label Maker.

Get your hands on this exciting new product and turn your labeling tasks from drudgery to delight.

Here are a few highlights about the 6Dot:

Built in braille keyboard that supports all grades of Braille in virtually every language.

Automatic scoring and cutting that provides effortlessly clean label and cuts without the need for scissors.

Powered embossing that produces high quality Braille for accurate reading with minimal hand strength required.

QWERTY keyboard connectivity option that enables people who cannot write Braille to create labels.

 

For more information call Roger Cicchese at 603-827-3859 or send Roger an email at: 1nationundersound@gmail.com

 

 

My facebook group is a group for making friends. It is called blind penpals.  People can find it from the search box of facebook and join.  For more information, please write to me at adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com.

 

 

I created a facebook group for those who wish to help blind people get used or donated blindness items for free. If you would like to either support them in getting them or are in need of some, you can find the group in the Facebook search box as:   give and get blind items

or email me at:

adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com

 

***

 

Readers' Forum

 

The portrayal of Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" apparently was true, I have read such many times and such behavior would not be out of the ordinary for a deaf-blind child of Helen's age.  Let's not confuse truth with stereotypes which, by the way, have their basis in truth.  For instance, I have heard sighted people say that the blind have better sensory perception regarding other senses than do the sighted and now, science is confirming this.  When sighted people tell me that I'm amazing, I thank them and say they are too, because everyone is amazing.  Have you ever considered how infinitely complex the brain is, science has yet to understand it to a great degree and that's just one example.  Let's also remember that not all blind people have the same abilities.  I am totally blind and have 50 percent of my hearing, which affects balance, orientation and directionality, as was put forth very well in a July-August article and I also have moderate nerve damage in both elbows.  I therefore always go sighted guide.  I am not an ambassador for the blind, I speak for myself alone. 

 

Beth Terranova.

 

 

 

 

Dear Bob and Terry,

 

Thank you so much for your issue of the consumer vision July-August.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the articles reading them here in Namibia where I am for the last 8 months.

 

Special thanks too for all the authors of the articles.

 

all the best,

 

Jens Naumann

 

***

 

Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

 

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the July/August Consumer Vision.  The pop group who sang the 1970 hit song Jennifer Tomkins was the Street People.  Congratulations to the following winner:

 

Henry Achin of Lowell, Massachusetts

 

And now, here is your trivia question for the September/October Consumer Vision.  Who said, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.  An Elephant is faithful 100 percent?"  If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.

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