THE CONSUMER VISION
 
November 2020
 
Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Phone: 508-994-4972
Email address: bobbranco93@gmail.com
Website: www.consumervisionmagazine.com
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editing and Proofreading: David and Leonore Dvorkin
Formatting: David Dvorkin
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
In this Table of Contents, three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used to separate articles to make using your browser’s search feature easier. If any of you have screen readers that make searching difficult or not doable with asterisks, please let us know not only that, but also if three number signs ### would be easier. If you are a screen reader user for whom neither symbol works, please let us know what works best, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
 
In columns like Special Notices, Readers’ Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, letters of the alphabet—A, B, C, etc.—are used to separate items.
 
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Diet Tweaks and Hearing Aids for Protecting Your Brain / Don’t Neglect That Flu Shot This Year! *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
 
2. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: What 32 Years Means to the Dodgers and This Country *** by Don Wardlow
 
3. SPECIAL NOTICES
 
4. THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY FOR CONVENTIONS *** by Leonore Dvorkin
 
5. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
 
6. AUTHORS’ CORNER
 
7. AN AMAZING TODDLER *** by Trish Hubschman
 
8. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
 
9. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
 
10. JOE MACHISE’S JOURNEY AND RECOVERY FROM COVID-19, PART 2 *** by Karen Crowder
 
11. MARCY’S SCHMOOZE TININIH *** by Marcy Segelman
 
12. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
 
***
 
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Diet Tweaks and Hearing Aids for Protecting Your Brain / Don’t Neglect That Flu Shot This Year!
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Email: leonore@leonoredvorkin.com
I welcome comments on any of my articles.
 
1. High flavanol diet may lead to lower blood pressure
Source: ScienceDaily, 10/21/20
 
Summary: A diet including flavanol-rich foods and drinks, including tea, apples, and berries, could lead to lower blood pressure, according to the first study using objective measures of thousands of UK residents’ diets.
 
The study included more than 25,000 people in Norfolk, UK, relying on nutritional biomarkers rather than on subjective reporting. The difference in blood pressure between those with the lowest 10% of flavanol intake and those with the highest intake was comparable to changes in blood pressure observed in those following the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet, which is designed to lower blood pressure. The good effect of the flavanol-rich diet was more pronounced in participants with hypertension.
 
My comments: My husband and I drink a lot of black tea (with milk), and we eat lots of berries. We have strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries every day, along with other fresh fruits and raw and cooked vegetables. Unfortunately, apples give us heartburn, but they are healthful for most people. David and I both have low–normal blood pressure, 110/70 or lower. Now we’re wondering if the tea and berries in our diet are partly responsible for this.
 
The following items are all from the November 2020 issue of Consumer Reports On Health magazine.
 
2. Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot
 
This year, it is critical to get a flu shot. Colder weather means more time indoors, in close proximity with others, giving viruses more chance to spread. The flu shot won’t protect you from COVID-19, but it will cut your risk of flu. You certainly do not want to risk getting both diseases together! And the flu vaccine, while never 100% effective, reduces your likelihood of getting severely ill from the flu. This helps keeps hospitals from becoming overburdened.
 
If you have a fever, coughing, and more, call your doctor! Only tests can tell whether you have the flu or COVID-19.
 
Two types of flu shots, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluad, are formulated for those 65 and older. Some good news is that they’re quadrivalent this year, meaning they protect against four strains of flu. If you can’t get one of those, just get the regular vaccine. The CDC says to get the shot no later than the end of October, if possible. Don’t worry about safety. Your local pharmacy can have you in and out in a few minutes. I got mine at Walgreen’s. Of course I wore a mask, and everyone else wore a mask as well. Some busy locations may be scheduling appointments for shots, so call ahead or check online to be sure.
 
Additional personal notes: My husband and I have been getting flu shots every year for about 20 years, with no problems in that time and no flu! The flu shots are free with Medicare. We would never miss getting our shots, usually at the end of September or the beginning of October. David’s birthday is October 8; he turned 77 this year. We think of the flu shot as a birthday gift of health protection that he gives himself every year.
 
3. Hearing Aids Help Mental Health
 
A study of 25,665 people found that among older adults with hearing trouble, those who wore hearing aids were 1/3 less likely to experience psychological distress than those who did not wear them. They were also 9% less likely to use anti-anxiety medications. Untreated hearing loss may leave people feeling isolated.
 
In related news from ScienceDaily, 7/15/19:
 
A new study of 25,000 people aged 50 and older has concluded that people who wear a hearing aid for age–related hearing problems maintain better brain function over time than those who do not.
 
It builds on important research in recent years pulled together by the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, through which hearing loss emerged as an important risk factor for dementia. This research suggests that wearing a hearing aid may mitigate that risk.
 
My comments: David has worn hearing aids for years. They transformed his social life, as well as greatly increasing his ability to communicate with me here at home and his enjoyment of music. If you are fortunate enough to live near a Costco with an audiology department, you can get top–quality hearing aids there for about half of what you would pay from a private audiologist. Never fear: The Costco hearing exam is performed by a qualified audiologist.
 
I saw my mother’s social isolation greatly increase as she aged into her 80s and then her 90s, as she most often refused to wear the hearing aids that my sisters had finally persuaded her to get. It was a sad decline that was entirely preventable. I’m well aware that my own hearing is not perfect, but my one hearing test did not reveal the need for an aid or aids. I plan to get another test once the pandemic is over. You can bet that if I ever need hearing aids, I will not hesitate to wear them, any more than I refuse to wear the glasses that I need.
 
4. Can Fish Cut Pollution Effects?
 
Here is a surprising and encouraging relationship, one also related to protecting the brain. –
 
Eating one and a half servings of seafood per week was associated with less brain shrinkage related to air pollution according to a study that tracked 1,315 older women for up to 10 years. Air pollution caused by vehicle exhaust and from burning wood and fossil fuels has been linked to a loss of white matter – nerve fibers that connect brain regions – and to thinking and memory declines in older adults. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish may protect brain wiring by reducing inflammation and rebuilding the beneficial fatty insulation on the fibers. The study found benefits only from seafood that isn’t fried, so bake or broil it.
 
Note: We also regularly eat canned fish: tuna, salmon, sardines, oysters, clams, and kipper snacks (smoked herring filets).
 
About the Author
 
Leonore H. Dvorkin is the author of four published books and dozens of mainly health–related articles. Besides writing, she has decades of experience teaching four languages and also exercise classes, mainly weight training (exercise with weights). Since 2009, she has been running DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services with her husband, David Dvorkin, who is the author of 30 published books and many articles. Most of their more than 60 clients thus far are blind or visually impaired.
 
They invite you to visit any of their websites for more information on their publications and services.
 
Leonore Dvorkin: https://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
David Dvorkin: http://www.dvorkin.com/
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services: https://www.dldbooks.com/
 
***
 
2. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: What 32 Years Means to the Dodgers and This Country
by Don Wardlow
 
The Los Angeles Dodgers broke a 32–year dry spell when they won the 2020 World Series in six games over the Tampa Bay Rays. The phrase “32 years,” said as baldly as that, doesn’t seem like much, but what can happen during the length of 32 years needs thinking about.
 
Thirty–two years ago was late October 1988. Kirk Gibson was the hero of that World Series, limping to the plate and hitting the original “walk–off” home run. His foil, Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland A’s, came up with that expression and the media jumped all over it like so many wolves on a pork chop. Gibson, lame as he was, had lived but 31 years up to then. Now he’s 63. He played for the Royals, Pirates, and Tigers before his career ended in 1995, then managed the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2010-2014. After a couple of stints as a broadcaster, he’s now a special assistant with the Tigers.
 
What else has the world seen since the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series? On the smallest scale, my college degree was almost brand new then and still meant something. I had yet to become a pro broadcaster, which would happen in 1991. That would be the year I met the great love of my life. Four years later, after she married somebody else, I met the woman I would marry. My back was sturdy in 1988 and would remain so until 2015. When the Dodgers won the 1988 World Series, I suspected my first Seeing Eye dog was terminally ill. That was proven correct just after Thanksgiving. I had four more Seeing Eye dogs. Mercifully, none of them died on my watch as the first one had. Two of my nephews weren’t yet born as 1988 drew down. One turned 31 in June of this year, and the other turned 30 in September. My nieces were 13, 9, and 6. All now have children, and by May 2022, all will have teenagers!
 
In the wider world, if you had a computer, it used a language called Basic. Ronald Reagan’s presidency was about to end. Five men have held that office since. Only George H.W. Bush held the job for one term.
 
1988 was the first year CDs outsold vinyl LPs. Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash, and Whitney Houston, among others, were very much alive. Phil Collins rocked the charts with “Groovy Kind of Love.” Everybody, starting with Dr. Demento fans, sang “Don’t Worry, be Happy.” Belinda Carlisle put “Heaven is a Place on Earth” on the charts. That was the year the world first heard “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John. Lovely Reba McEntire hit gold with “I Know How He Feels.” Hank Williams Jr.’s “Heaven Can’t Be Found” and the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Gonna Take a Lot of River” are songs I still sing 32 years later. At intimate venues like the Valley Forge Music Fair, Don Williams sang “Desperately” and “Another Place, Another Time.” The venue is gone, and so alas is Williams, “the Gentle Giant.” The major movies were Rain Man, Mississippi Burning, A Fish Called Wanda, and if you were a baseball fan, Bull Durham. That hoary classic is still being shown on baseball team buses. Gilda Radner and Jim Backus made what would be their final TV appearances in 1988. “The Wonder Years” and “America’s Most Wanted” premiered that year. 1988 was the year the Cosby Show entered syndication. Thirty-two years later, it’s nowhere to be found, and just mentioning the man’s name makes people cringe.
 
The earliest prototype of what is now the Internet opened in 1989. Surprisingly, Netscape was out there before Internet Explorer. Of particular interest to readers of this magazine, JAWS first appeared in 1995, the letters standing for Job Access with Speech. The first version of JAWS I used was Version 3, released in 1999, when I got my first computer. It took a while, but by the time of the 2000 All–Star game, I was able to do needed daily research for my job, which then was with the Charleston River Dogs. In the major leagues, the Yankees had won the World Series in 1996, 1998, and 1999, and would win in 2000. Their most recent World Series win was in 2009.
 
Starting well before 1988, I woke up every day with “Imus in the Morning.” By the time I began moving around, his show was syndicated and I could usually get it on one radio station or another. He lost his funny when he became ill, and the world lost him just after Christmas 2019.
 
Everybody in the world didn’t have a cell phone in 1988. While they existed, often calls had to be connected by operators. Those early “mobile phones” weren’t cheap and were definitely not toys. Now, children as young as 9 and 10 have them.
 
Clayton Kershaw was born in 1988. He won two games of the four the Dodgers won to claim this year’s World Series. In winning Game 5 after what could have been a shattering loss in Game 4, Kershaw should have been declared the MVP, for my money. Their shortstop, Corey Seager, got the award. In a sport where pitching means everything, Clayton Kershaw finally pitched in the postseason with the skill he’s known for in the regular season. His 175-76 record is nearly as good as that of Whitey Ford, 236-106.
 
So at last, following 32 years of waiting, after losses in 2017 and 2018, the Dodgers are the champions of baseball. Here’s to the Dodgers.
 
***
 
3. SPECIAL NOTICES
 
A. From Bob Branco, Publisher
 
Please join our podcast mailing list! Each week, Peter Altschul and I record a podcast called “In Perspective,” where we invite special guests to talk about their projects, professions, and other issues that benefit our listeners. Sometimes, Peter and I discuss a topic by ourselves. You are welcome to appear on our show, and we would also like you to subscribe to our mailing list free of charge. If you would like to receive copies of our show each week, just send a test email to bobbranco93@gmail.com, and I’ll see that it’s done. If you want to participate on any episode of “In Perspective,” we can send you a Zoom invitation. Also, if you have a topic that you feel would be to our listeners, please indicate your interest in appearing on “In Perspective.” You can email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972. To check out a previous episode of “In Perspective,” go to www.brancoevents.com and click on "Branco Events Podcasts." At that point, you’ll see a list of archived shows from latest to earliest.
 
Here’s a list of guests for the month of November, along with dates and times of the recordings. Please note that all times are Eastern Time.
 
Friday, November 6, Peggy Chong, the blind history lady, 5:00 PM.
Friday, November 13, Robert Sollars, “From home to the mall — holiday safety and security,” 5:00 PM.
Friday, November 20, Courtney Stevens, school teacher, “How school children are coping with pandemic regulations,” 5:00 PM.
Friday, November 27, Jens Naumann, author and traveler, 5:00 PM.
Friday, December 4, Clifford Wilson, blind attorney, 5:00 PM.
 
B. About the Washington Council of the Blind Newsletter, WCB Newsline
Fall 2020 Edition, “Fireside Nostalgia”
Submitted by Leonore Dvorkin, 10/28/20
 
Website for the newsletter: http://WCBinfo.org
To subscribe to the email version of the newsletter, send a blank email to
Newsline-l-subscribe@WCBinfo.org
 
The WCB Newsline can also be accessed through their website.
 
Hello, everyone. I’m writing to let Consumer Vision readers know about this great newsletter. I learned about it from my friend Reginald George, who is the technical editor of the publication. My sister Anne Biswell is the proofreader.
 
Reg arranged for me to have one of my many health and nutrition articles re–published in this issue. That is “The Benefits of Herbs and Spices, Part One.” My article appears in the “Lifestyle” section of the newsletter, which is one of nine sections. Other sections include Features; History; Advocacy and Legislation; Entrepreneurship, Science, and Technology, and others.
 
I hope you will give this high–quality publication a try! — Leonore
 
C. Most of us know someone who is visually impaired due to macular degeneration, glaucoma, or complications resulting from diabetes or cataracts. Often glasses, surgery, or contact lenses cannot correct the impairment. The person may have some usable vision, but the vision they have lost has significantly impacted their quality of life. Worse yet, their local optometrist or ophthalmologist has told them there is nothing they can do for them. Not true!
 
The Massachusetts Lions Low Vision Network (MLLVN) has established a substantial network of practitioners within our state who specialize in low vision assessment and treatment. They provide low vision tools and other solutions that can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life.
 
In accordance with their motto, We Serve, Massachusetts Lions are teaming up with this network to truly make a difference in people’s lives. The process begins with a low vision assessment. The Lions have a network of 10 eye clinics across Massachusetts, including Boston Medical Center in Boston, the College of Pharmacy Eye and Vision Center in Worcester, Village Eye Associates in Chelmsford, and seven other conveniently located centers that are uniquely qualified for this task. The Lions will help make an appointment and set up a ride to the appointment if necessary, and they can answer any questions that come up.
 
The exam is unique and will lead to recommendations for low vision tools that will improve the person’s quality of life. Such tools may include hand magnifiers, computer technology, telescopes, binocular systems, desktop video technology that uses CCTV, HD camera and full- page text–to–speech capability, and many others. In–home rehabilitation therapists can also be scheduled to visit the person’s home and help them operate more efficiently and improve their mobility. If their insurance does not cover these services or equipment, or the person has no insurance, the Lions are there to help with this as well.
 
If you would like to take the first step in exploring the low vision support that’s available through this program, please either email the Lions at info@lowvisionnetwork.com or fill out the contact form on their website, lowvisionnetwork.com. A Lion will respond to your request within one business day.
 
***
 
4. THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY FOR CONVENTIONS
by Leonore Dvorkin
10/26/20
 
Due to the pandemic, this past weekend, October 23-25, they could not hold in–person events for our local annual science fiction convention, Mile Hi Con, which we’ve been attending for over 40 years. It’s normally held in a large hotel, often with over 1,000 participants. This was the first time in 52 years that in–person activities could not take place. That was sad, as well as a big loss for the hotel, but the organizers did as much as they could via Zoom.
 
My husband, David Dvorkin, has written mainly science fiction, and he also has a background in science and technology, so he is always on two or more panels per convention. He was on two panels on Sunday, the 25th. It went pretty well.
 
It has occurred to us that this method, if employed by other science fiction convention organizers, will allow David and thousands of others to attend many more conventions every year than they otherwise would, as no expensive travel and hotel stays are required. That will give David many more opportunities to promote himself and his books: 30 of them so far.
 
It appears that the organizers of Mile Hi Con are already discussing charging a special low registration rate for people attending future conventions via Zoom, rather than in person. That makes perfect sense, and I predict that it will become a model for many conventions of many types.
 
While very little good can ever come out of a pandemic, it seems to be true that every cloud has a silver lining. Today we discovered this one.
 
***
 
5. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
 
Hello, readers. I hope you and your guide dogs and other pets are healthy and enjoying autumn. If you or your loved ones are in high weather zones, please stay safe. Instead of writing an article, I thought I’d share a prose poem with you. I’ll be back next month with an article.
 
Dog B
by Ann Chiappetta
 
1. The cold air numbs cheeks, harness weaves me down the sidewalk. The instructor is a “Good Juno,” or a “Bad Juno,” depending on her whim. Spring has been delayed. So has the transition. I ached for the dog left behind. Hope and excitement have a power play with my heart and stomach.
 
2. Waiting for the sound of paws on the ground, the metal whisper of tags. I grip the leash so hard it hurts. The traffic flows past, businesses open doors, routines are comforts. I am reminded in minutes I will be receiving a new partner to begin and end each day, a new partner to share new routines. A large head and wet nose greet me. I position myself, say “Forward.” We fly.
 
3. This is the place I sat before, six years ago, waiting. New, the same, different. Jumbles and jangles of nerves leak out. The same doubts on this day fester, even more evocative. I know the past -- What if we don’t make it? I am praying that we make it. A knock, excited nose touches my hand, licks fingers, snuffles me. “Oh, boy, he’s big,” I hear myself say. I clip on the leash, still stiff and new, and get acquainted with Dog Number Two. I know, without asking, he is the dog I flew with yesterday.
 
4. Postscript: two years later
He is a sweet, yellow fellow, toasted darker on ears and tail tip. He gives a nibble and a sniff; golden eyes better than cash. He comes with a snow nose and personality to match. He’s tall and silly, works, wags, and licks. So far no one’s gotten ticked when he sneaks a kiss. Guiding, alert, and looking for sights and scent, on the bus and on the street. Freedom with four feet.
 
For Bailey, 2019
Note: “Juno” is the generic name used by guide dog mobility instructors during training exercises. It symbolizes the heroic aspects of the Roman god Juno. The name is used for evaluation purposes when an instructor simulates the dog during harness training walks or when a student walks with a potential dog to test its pace and pull.
 
Note: Ann Chiappetta is the author of four published books, and she’s working on her first novel. That will appear sometime in 2021. Her other books are a poetry collection, a collection of poems and essays, a book of short stories, and her moving memoir, Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust. All of her books are for sale in e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other sellers. For full details, see https://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ 
 
***
 
6. AUTHORS’ CORNER
 
A. Randolph Runner
A satirical science fiction novel by David Dvorkin / C 2020
In e-book ($3.99) and print ($11.50) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
 
Synopsis:
 
Butler, warrior, moral philosopher, robot. Randolph is all that and more.
 
Randolph is the prized product of Superior Domestics, a Silicon Valley firm dedicated to producing robot servants for people who grew up watching British period costume dramas on PBS. The company’s motto is, “All the gracious living of Upstairs with none of the unseemly drama of Downstairs.”
 
When the novel opens with the assassination of King Donald II and a coup d’état, Randolph epitomizes that motto. He is calm, quiet, supremely competent, always in the background, and never interfering. He is a mere witness to great events. He is focused on supervising his staff and properly running the household of General Henry Redgrave, architect of the coup and would–be power behind the throne.
 
War! Romance! Sex! Skulduggery! Artificial Intelligence! And lots of other stuff, too.
 
Read a longer synopsis and a free sample here: http://www.dvorkin.com/ranrun/
 
Additional comments from Leonore Dvorkin:
 
This lively novel is David’s 30th published book. It’s amusing, imaginative, and a quick read at 280 pages in print. The self-driving train and truck, two of my favorite cameo characters, have wonderful personalities of their own. David had a lot of fun writing it, and I had a lot of fun proofreading it. An interesting tidbit is that the remarkable mechanical man on the cover was actually built by Canadian inventor George Moore in 1893.
 
B. News About Outstanding Publicity for an Exceptional Author
by Leonore Dvorkin, Editor, DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services
Website: https://www.dldbooks.com/
October 10, 2020
 
Author Mary Alice Baluck, now 93 years old and living in a retirement home near Youngstown, Ohio, was 92 when her first novel, Heaven’s Doorway, was published in June of this year. I had an ad for it in the July 2020 issue of Consumer Vision. There, I also put the link to her website, which has full information about the book, including the cover image, the synopsis, the author bio, and buying links. The 484–page novel is for sale in print and e-book formats from Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other online sellers.
 
You can visit the author’s website here: https://www.dldbooks.com/marybaluck/
 
Today I want to tell you about some wonderful publicity that Mary got in a newspaper in her area, the Tribune Chronicle, in Warren, Ohio. The article was written by Raymond L. Smith, and it was published on July 12, 2020. Here is a link to the article as it appeared online, so you can read it in its entirety if you wish. https://www.tribtoday.com/life/lifecovers/2020/07/92-year-old-discovers-new-life-as-author/
 
Mary is by far the oldest client of DLD Books, and David and I could not be more pleased that she has received this well–deserved recognition. The Tribune article is outstanding. It details how she got the idea for the plot of Heaven’s Doorway and tells about several future books that she has planned. (I am editing her second novel now.) It mentions her personal history as a schoolteacher and a mother of six. It also mentions the technology she uses to write; she has macular degeneration and is legally blind. The article also talks about the valuable encouragement she has received from family members and from the staff of The Blackburn Home, where she lives.
 
The article concludes with a touching quotation from the author about her new writing career: “This has been God’s blessing to me. It gives me a reason to get up every morning. It has given me a purpose. Not everyone has that, especially at my age.”
 
The only fault I could find with the article is that it says that my husband David and I, who edited the book and prepared it for publication, are “area residents,” whereas we actually live in Denver, Colorado. Also, my first name was misspelled as Lenore instead of the correct Leonore, with two O’s. However, thanks to the magic of Google, if one searches for “Lenore Dvorkin,” not only does my website come up, but so does this article about Mary Baluck. So all is well.
 
In conclusion: We send our heartiest congratulations to Mary and our thanks to the author of the fine newspaper article. We hope that more of our clients will have similar publicity in the future.
 
***
 
7. AN AMAZING TODDLER
by Trish Hubschman
 
Note: The child in the below article, Alexa, is my great–niece. Her phenomenal mother is my niece.
 
Alexa was a happy child, beautiful and sweet. It wasn’t determined if she was able to hear when she was born, but by the time her first birthday came around in August, it was almost certain that she was deaf.
 
Alexa’s parents, Dan and Rita, took her to hearing specialists at a local hospital. Hearing aids were tried and ruled out as unhelpful. Cochlear implants (CIS) were a possibility. More testing was done to verify this. Her CI surgery was scheduled for the following January.
 
Dan and Rita were excited.
 
During the interim months, Alexa received communication training. Twice weekly, a speech therapist came to her house and taught her sign language and lip reading skills. On alternate days, Alexa went to a school for the deaf. This little girl, barely more than a year old, was communicating by sign language with her parents, grandparents, and great–grandmother.
 
January 2020 came around, and Alexa’s bilateral cochlear implant surgery was performed. She was getting two CIs, one on each ear. The surgery went well. Two weeks later, an audiologist fitted Alexa with the external hearing devices, called speech processors. Alexa was getting the latest in cochlear technology, two N7 processors. Sound would go into the processor, which would clear it up, then send it directly to the brain for translation, bypassing the auditory nerve, where this is usually done. The audiologist then turned Alexa’s CIs on, first one side, then the other, starting the volume out very low, so as not to scare her. Did she hear anything? Her baby sister, Elizabeth, made a gurgling noise, and Alexa’s head flung around to see what the sound was. Rita started to cry.
 
Each week, the audiologist raised the internal volume of Alexa’s N7s. Alexa continued to prosper, repeating sounds and words that she heard from her parents, family, and television. Every day she amazed her parents. In late August, Alexa’s grandparents took their granddaughters to the Bronx Zoo. Two–year–old Alexa had a ball. She repeated the names of some of the animals.
 
The pandemic hasn’t slowed Alexa’s progress down. The little girl has entered the wide world of auditory communication. Her baby sister, Elizabeth, is also going to be a recipient of a cochlear implant.
 
***
 
8. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein
Who Blogs at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
Email me at: goodthaimom@gmail.com
 
Today turned into a beautiful fall day. It was rainy and cold in the morning, but this afternoon was crisp, cool, and pleasant. It was the last day of the season for our farmers’ market. My son Isaac and I were shopping, telling each other how much we’ll miss the vendors. They remember our names. There’s Fun Gal, Holly, who sells a variety of mushrooms. Every week, I buy two bags of mixed mushrooms. Oysters and lion’s mane are two mushrooms in the mix. I’ve also discovered spicy sundried tomato hummus, garlic pita chips, baklava, tabbouleh, and grape leaves at Pitaland—also buckwheat honey, the tastiest lettuce mix, and the best fresh cider. The honey lady says buckwheat honey is especially good for coughs. I told her I thought all honey was good for a cough, but she said buckwheat works the best, better than cough drops. She sold me. I haven’t tasted mine yet. I’m not anxious to get a cough to try it. The honey lady said you either love the taste or hate it.
 
To celebrate their last day, a vendor was giving away saplings. We didn’t take one because Isaac and I don’t know where to plant a tree. We’re in a rental. If I get my own home, I’ll buy a sapling and watch the tree grow.
 
Besides feeding my voracious appetite for food, I’ve been reading to satiation. Reading is an addiction I’m happy to keep. Since studying apps on my iPhone and iPad, I decided to download the Audible app. Oh, how I love it! Each Audible credit is about $15 a month. It buys one book and two Audible originals. There’s also a plan that allows you to purchase two books a month. If you have the finances, you can purchase a year of Audible. With my iPhone, I can peruse their offerings, find out what’s included on the Audible streaming, and add books and Audible originals to my library. Audible streaming is a great addition. Once a book or program is in your library, you own it forever. You can exchange books if you find a title you don’t want to keep. When I want to make an exchange, I call Audible’s toll–free number. Their customer service is fast and courteous. When I go to settings on my Audible app, I can sync it with my Amazon Echo devices. If I want, I can fill my life with Audible 24 hours a day. Between Audible, Kindle, Bookshare, and Bard I’ve accumulated a large digital library. It barely takes up physical space.
 
Next week, I’m shipping my BrailleNote Apex for service. It occurred to me that one day, old devices will no longer be serviced. I’m having it repaired before Humanware makes that fatal decision. Mine is 10 years old. I hope that with good maintenance, it’ll work for me for another five years. One of the things I really like about Humanware is UPS pickup. I have two friends who have sent their Orbit reader in for repairs. Each time, it costs them $50. It really wouldn’t surprise me if the first of the year, Humanware decides to no longer support the BrailleNote Apex. I advise you to get your old technology repaired. Please get it to the doctor.
 
 I realize we’re in a pandemic. I have taken it upon myself to contact people whom I love once a week. It’s been a real blessing keeping in touch with my friends and family. I feel I have developed closer bonds since the beginning of COVID-19. It has been a real benefit.
 
Darunee, my sister, told me how she likes to put bath oils in her bath, which she purchases from Bath and Body Works. We concluded that a little bit of a fragrant essential oil mixed in some vitamin E oil would help your skin, too. She warned that the tub would be slippery and would need washing more often. I called Mom and told her about our bath oil conversation. She said she does the same. She also warned me about the slippery tub.
 
My bathtub has been leaking into my dining room for the past five weeks. The plumber has been here twice. The first time, he put in a new overflow valve. The second time, he caulked around the faucet and handles. I felt I wasn’t being taken seriously. Isaac had taken a video of the water streaming into our dining room. We emailed it to the management company, and within a few hours, I got a work order. Finally, I feel I’m being taken seriously and there will be appropriate action.
 
Last month, I wrote about recording messages in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. I received an email from Abbie Johnson Taylor, who uses voice memos to send texts and emails. I know there’s a way to send WhatsApp messages as well. After Abbie’s suggestion, I successfully sent two voice memos through text. I tried to send one as an email attachment, but the person wasn’t in my contacts. I will continue practicing working with voice memos and expanding my list of contacts to accommodate a smoother technological life. Thank you, Abbie!
 
Earlier this week, I had a conversation with Leonore Dvorkin. She tells me that David, her husband, gently washes his credit cards with soap and warm water. It sanitizes the credit cards and also makes it easier for the card machines to read the cards. As many times as I and others touch my cards, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad practice to adopt. Thank you for this tip, Leonore.
 
Please email your tips and suggestions: goodthaimom@gmail.com
Have a fabulously fun fall.
 
***
 
9. RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
 
When the month of November arrives, days are shorter and nights are longer. On October 30, parts of southern and northern New England may experience hints of winter with some snow. Early November will be unseasonably cold. Will New England have an early winter? We have seen snow in parts of New England near or after Thanksgiving. In early November, apples, apple cider, cranberries, and pumpkins are available at supermarkets and smaller stores. Apple cider doughnuts can be bought at local doughnut shops and the larger chains.
 
There are four special days. Daylight Saving Time ends October 31. Standard Time begins Sunday, November 1. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. Veterans’ Day is Wednesday, November 11. Thanksgiving Day is Thursday, November 26.
 
I wish to share three easy and delicious recipes.
 
Contents:
Tuna Macaroni Bake
Easy Butternut Squash
Oatmeal–Cornmeal Cookies
 
A. Tuna Macaroni Bake
 
I received a braille copy of an out–of–print book, Good Housekeeping Casserole Cookbook, in October. It was printed in 1965 and brailled in 1968 as a one–volume book. I decided to try the tuna macaroni bake as a quick–to–prepare meal. However, I made changes, using Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in place of the canned macaroni and cheese called for in the original recipe. I added onions, mushrooms, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, extra butter, and one slice of American cheese.
 
Ingredients:
 
One box Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
Five tablespoons butter
One cup milk
One slice American cheese
One six–ounce can water–packed tuna
Four tiny white pearl onions
Four whole mushrooms
Two shakes of Worcestershire sauce
Two squeezes of prepared mustard
One slice whole wheat bread
Two tablespoons butter.
 
Directions:
 
1. Fill a lock–lid saucepan half full of water. Add salt to aid in cooking the macaroni. Heat water on low to medium heat for 10–12 minutes, until it starts to boil. Add macaroni.
2. Cook macaroni for ten minutes. Drain into sink. Place now open pan on the stove. Add butter, milk, and the packet of powdered cheddar cheese. Stir mixture with a sturdy metal or plastic stirring spoon on low heat. Stir infrequently for 25 minutes. Add broken-up slice of American cheese and stir for two minutes. Add the tuna, three chopped onions, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Blend casserole for two minutes.
3. Grease a one–quart glass casserole dish. Scatter broken–up mushrooms and remaining onion into dish. Pour tuna casserole into the dish and blend with spoon. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Microwave two tablespoons butter in a bowl or custard cup for 35 seconds. Break up one slice whole wheat bread into melted butter. Scatter crumbs over the top of the casserole. Bake
casserole for 30 minutes.
 
Serve while hot in crocks or bowls, accompanied with tossed salad and hot rolls. This is a convenient, easy meal to prepare during the fall and winter months.
 
B. Easy Butternut Squash
 
I was never fond of butternut squash until I met my husband, Marshall. He wanted me to prepare it on the first Thanksgiving of our marriage. He instructed me in its preparation. It was a delicious side dish with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.
 
Ingredients:
 
One package frozen butternut squash
Three–fourths stick butter
One–fourth to one–half cup light brown sugar
One–half teaspoon cinnamon
Optional real maple syrup.
 
Directions:
 
1. Place butternut squash in a double boiler or saucepan. Cook squash on low to medium heat for 15–20 minutes. Add butter and stir with plastic or silicone stirring spoon.
2. Add sugar, cinnamon, and optional maple syrup. Stir again and use a potato masher to whip up the butternut squash. This will take approximately five minutes.
3. Cover pan or double boiler, keeping squash warm until serving time.
 
It is delicious alongside mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, vegetables, and hot rolls during the holiday season.
 
C. Oatmeal–Cornmeal Cookies
 
The original name for this recipe is Easy Colonial Oatmeal Cookies. I got the recipe from A Leaf from Our Table. This two–volume cookbook was printed in 1970 by the Chicago Catholic Guild for the Blind. The addition of cornmeal happened in 2008. I burned an entire batch of oatmeal cookies and decided to add cornmeal because I didn’t have enough oatmeal for the next batch. The cookies were a hit and are delicious, especially during the holiday season.
 
Ingredients:
 
Two sticks butter; no substitutions
Three–fourths cup sugar
One cup all–purpose flour
One and one–fourth cups oatmeal
Three–fourths cup yellow cornmeal
One teaspoon baking soda.
 
Directions:
 
1. Soften butter in a large mixing bowl for 30 minutes. Add sugar, flour, and yellow cornmeal. Blend mixture with clean hands for two minutes. Add oatmeal and baking soda. Blend cookie dough for two minutes until it is smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put parchment paper on two cookie sheets.
3. Shape cookies into small balls, placing on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie and bake them for 17 minutes. After nine minutes, place top cookie sheet on door of oven. Place bottom cookie sheet on top rack. Place other cookie sheet on bottom rack. Bake for remaining nine minutes. You can leave the oatmeal–cornmeal cookies in the oven for two minutes.
4. Place cookie sheets on counter and turn cookies over.
 
They are delicious piping hot. With a hungry family, these cookies will disappear fast.
 
I hope that despite political and civil uncertainty, all Consumer Vision readers have a safe and joyful November. Because of the pandemic, it will be a more subdued holiday season with smaller gatherings, yet the spirit of the holidays is always with us. Let us pray for a more peaceful and happy America and signs that this virus will end soon.
 
***
 
10. JOE MACHISE’S JOURNEY AND RECOVERY FROM COVID-19, PART 2
by Karen Crowder
 
Joe Machise returned to his small apartment in Lynn, Massachusetts at 8 p.m. on May 20. He had spent 13 days at North Shore Medical Center suffering and recovering from Covid-19. He felt happy he had received such compassionate care during his stay. Despite the challenges facing him, he was happy to finally be home again.
 
On Thursday, he faced his most immediate difficulty. He had to be self–quarantined for 14 days. When would he begin receiving services? When would he see a visiting nurse and physical therapist? How would he receive meals and cleaning services?
 
That first night he discovered how weak this debilitating virus had left him. He had trouble walking and trouble breathing because of weakened lungs.
 
On Thursday afternoon, I was on the phone with him. I spoke to his caseworker, advocating for him. She assured me Joe would get the services he needed. However, it would take time.
 
On May 27, Joe had a 30–minute, in–person visit with his visiting nurse. She checked his temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen level. The nurse was pleased with his improvement and reassured him he was doing much better. His physical therapist came the same day. He helped Joe with walking and improving his breathing. He showed him exercises to strengthen his lungs.
 
Joe received meals from a good soup kitchen, Brothers Table in Lynn. He got delicious food—pizza, roast chicken, sirloin steak, and hamburgers. For breakfast, he got eggs and bacon. His companions gave him his meals. They either left them at the door or on his counter. Joe finally received cleaning services on June 7.
 
He was discharged from seeing his visiting nurse and physical therapist on June 13. His quarantine was over. He began going out to Walgreens and to local restaurants. He was grateful to be alive.
 
He is now more patient with others and feels closer to God. He is more humble and prays, and he tried to forgive his family.
 
He still has trouble with his lungs, but he knows how lucky he is.
 
Here are a few places where you can buy hand sanitizers and comfortable cloth masks. I like the comfortable cloth, reusable masks sold by Boomer Naturals. They have attractive patterns. Make Scents has lovely hand sanitizers among their many fragrances. They specialize in single-note scents such as lavender, lilac, pine, China rain, and too many others to mention. They have small and large sizes. It’s better to buy reusable masks that can be washed after each use with soap and water. Wearing masks protects others from you, especially if you have a cough. If others have a virus or cough, wearing a mask makes it less likely that you will catch what they have.
 
Let us hope that by early next year we will have a safe vaccine against the virus. I hope life will be more normal by spring 2021.
 
Here are phone numbers for Make Scents, Boomer Naturals, Guardwell, and MyPillow.
 
Make Scents
1-800-250-2290
All fragrances are labeled in braille for blind customers. They carry hand sanitizers in two sizes, small to fit in pockets and large to go in kitchens or bathrooms.
 
Boomer Naturals is in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Their phone number is 1-702-960-4843.
 
Guardwell sells not only masks but, I believe, reusable gloves.
Their phone number is 1-800-970-4481.
 
MyPillow also makes face masks.
Their phone number is 1-800-308-1299.
Wearing a mask will help keep part of your face warm on cold winter days and evenings.
 
***
 
11. MARCY’S SCHMOOZE TININIH
by Marcy Segelman
 
Shalom, all.
 
Here we are in the thick of the holiday season. It doesn’t feel like it. This is so different from what we were accustomed to in the past. We have gone through the High Holy days to Succoth to Simchat Torah. I believe I’ve written about these festivals before, so I won’t repeat that here.
 
Coming up in February will be the festival known as Purim. The celebration is somewhat similar to Halloween. We dress up and make a lot of noise, but that’s because of the history behind Purim.
 
I myself did trick or treat for a short time when I was small. As kids, we all thought it was a made–up holiday just for kids to go out and have fun and get a lot of candy and see who could get the most. I lived in Mattapan, a very Jewish neighborhood, so you got all kinds of very interesting treats. A lot were homemade treats, like cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and blondies. There were home parties as well. Sometimes it was more fun just to stay home and pass out the candy.
 
When I moved to West Roxbury, I wasn’t involved in anything like that except for handing out candy. I guess even before that, I just grew out of it.
 
When my brother, Allen, had his first daughter, I, the auntie, got into having fun with all the holiday things all over again. In a way, the Jewish kids feel they’re losing out on things. I think that celebrating all of these holidays is good for us. We learn respect for each other. We share with each other and for one night come together, and the children can forget for a few hours that there are problems out there and just be kids and have fun.
 
So, as we turn the clock back one hour the night of October 31, let’s hope that we are also taking a step forward to a cure for all our illnesses. I’m worried for each and every one of us. It doesn’t matter who we are. We must work together as one as well pray as one, whether we do it in a mosque, a shrine, a temple, a church, our homes, our offices, or even in our cars.
 
My childhood friend Lisa now spends the Thanksgiving holiday with me and my adopted family. So here is a very important part of my story: You do not have to be blood to be a family. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we are united and we serve together.
 
Shalom,
Marcy
 
***
 
12. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
 
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the October Consumer Vision. The six children on the Brady Bunch were Greg, Marsha, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy. Congratulations to the following winners:
 
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Daryl Darnell of Urbana, Illinois
Nancy Hays of Waterbury, Connecticut
Trish Hubschman of Easton, Pennsylvania
Karen Palau of Buffalo, New York
Brian Sackrider of Port Huron, Michigan
Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts
Robert Sollars of Tempe, Arizona
 
And now, here is your trivia question for the November Consumer Vision. What year did the Pilgrims arrive in America? If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.
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