November 2017

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

Phone: 508-994-4972

Email: or


Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin

Formatter: David Dvorkin


In this Table of Contents, you will find the title of each article separated by three asterisks *** from the name of its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used throughout this magazine to separate articles.

In columns like Karen Crowder's recipes, Readers' Forum, and Special Notices, items will be separated by letters starting with A, and continuing with B, C, etc., depending on the number of items in the column.

Finally, if you have trouble using your screen reader, magnifier, word processing program, or any aspect of your access technology deciphering asterisks, please let me know what would work better for you. If I have the ability to implement an alternative or can be taught how to do so, I am happy to give it a try, since I don't want anyone to feel excluded or have difficulty reading this top-quality magazine.

1. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

2. HEALTH MATTERS: Review of a Good Book on Clutter-Clearing *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

3. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: The Three D's to Destroy Stress *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

4. TECH CORNER: A Little Bird Told Me *** by Stephen Théberge

5. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: The Dark Prism *** by James R. Campbell


7. WEATHER OR NOT: Understanding Winter Precipitation Types *** by Steve Roberts

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


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

11. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

12. MARCY'S SCHMOOZE TINNIH *** by Marcy Segelman





Hello, Consumer Vision Readers.

November is such an interesting month, with so many designations and celebrations. Before addressing them, though, I would like to wish our Canadian readers a belated Happy Thanksgiving, since Thanksgiving in Canada was on October 9th.

Whether you celebrated Thanksgiving as a Canadian, will celebrate it in the United States, or have celebrated a similar holiday in another country—and we are blessed with readers from many countries—I hope you have many blessings for which you feel thankful.

To share the abundant blessings I am grateful for: I appreciate being gainfully employed, especially with so many people who are blind being unemployed or under-employed. As someone who has lived experience with mental illness, we are also a population with a high unemployment rate, so I really feel doubly blessed by having a good job.

In addition, I am also abundantly appreciative of those who like and love me. Working as I do in the mental health field, I have encountered too many people who report being lonely, feeling isolated, and saying that they have no friends.

The last item I will mention—even though I am thankful for much more—is living in a republic with many freedoms, despite the injustices that cause many to feel so much less than free. Racial inequality, for example, seems to be worsening despite the civil rights movement and having had our first president of color. As contributors like Dennis Sumlin have said, those of us who are blind still experience discrimination and are the targets of stigma. Due to lack of funding for adequate treatment, too many people are dying from opioid abuse and addiction. Similarly—and particularly significant, with Veterans Day being on November 22—veterans are committing suicide each day as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. That sad statistic being the case, take extra time this month to thank for their service the men and women who have sacrificed so much.

If any of you are readers who have become blind or acquired any disability from serving, I thank you all the more and am sorry that happened to you.

Since veterans and military families have been devastated by the deaths of loved ones or witnessed the deaths of fellow Army, Navy, Marine, or Air Force comrades, I will be giving some tips from a therapist in my December letter on coping with grief and loss during the holiday season.

Until then, tons of thanks for an ever-growing magazine to publisher Bob Branco, proofreader and secondary editor Leonore Dvorkin, formatter David Dvorkin, previous editor Janet Marcley, our former proofreader, current writers, previous contributors, and you, our loyal readers.

Because I encourage and welcome your feedback, including constructive criticism, always feel free to reach out as follows: 412-263-2022, home phone; 412-209-9818, cell, which you can call or text; and

Thanks for reading with me, and be blessed with a November of numerous blessings.

Terri Winaught



Review of a Good Book on Clutter-Clearing

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

There was a positive and gratifying response to my article in the September Consumer Vision, the one in which I talked about my new, more active clutter-clearing method. That response has motivated me to write a review of a book I received some time ago. It's Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston, C 1998. (An updated edition was published in 2016.)

My judgment is that about 75% of the book is both encouraging and wise, and the author's de-cluttering tips are good ones. However, the feng shui parts are way too woo-woo and mystical for my taste, and her diet advice is much too extreme and restrictive. Also, the bit about bras being linked to breast cancer has been thoroughly debunked.

All that being said, and in the interest of improved mental health as well as a cleaner and less cluttered house, I'll focus here on a part of the book that I found stunningly insightful and especially helpful to me. That was the section on various reasons WHY people collect and keep clutter. Here are some of them, along with my own comments.

1. Keeping things "just in case”

Sure, a certain number of supplies—toilet paper, paper towels, soaps of various kinds, canned goods, batteries, and the like—are standard and necessary. But no one needs things like dozens of empty jars, old margarine tubs, and empty boxes. (My maternal grandmother kept lots of stuff like that, and of course it just went in the trash after she died.) The author's wise comment is that keeping loads of stuff "just in case” indicates a lack of trust in the future. So conquer those irrational fears and chuck the junk!

2. Identity

Into this broad category fall all kinds of documents related to who you were and what you did at a former time. They could be work-related or personal. Of course, if you need some documents for legal purposes, keep them by all means. But if you have a bunch of stuff related to jobs you held years ago and will never go back to, get rid of all but a few things, perhaps letters confirming that you got the jobs, letters of commendation, or rewards you received.

In my own case, many years ago, I got rid of numerous things connected with my 10 years of teaching exercise classes for the YWCA, in a health club, and in a rented space, as I've been teaching here at home since about 1987. I also got rid of a great many papers related to my studies at two universities. When cleaning out the papers related to my studies at Indiana University five decades ago, I found that I could barely remember even taking some of those courses, much less what I worked so hard to learn at the time. Wow, was that ever embarrassing! The author's good advice for this category: Keep things that are truly important or that bring you real joy and/or a sense of pride in your accomplishments. Discard all the rest.

In fact, the main message of the book is to get rid of all objects of any kind that have negative associations for you if you possibly can. Keep only things that you truly need, things that bring you joy, and things that are legally necessary.

3. Status

This is a big one in Western culture, in which more is almost always deemed to be better, and the better the quality, the more the items are desired. But what a crock! As the author says: You can't take it with you when you die, so why load your house down with way too many things now? And you only need things that are of decent quality. No one really needs, for example, a purse that costs $1,000. Regarding clothing: Do you really need dozens and dozens of T-shirts, dress shirts, ties, blouses, pairs of pants, pairs of shoes, scarves, purses, etc.? Almost surely not. So take a good look at what fits the best, what suits your present taste, and what you need for all four seasons. Then donate the rest to a place like Goodwill or some other secondhand store. Let someone else benefit from those items.

4. Inherited and gifted items

Uh-oh. These are toughies. You feel that you will be dishonoring the memory of your parents or other relatives if you get rid of stuff you inherited, and you feel that you will insult the giver if you get rid of a gift, even if you secretly hate it. Again, though: You should be keeping only things that are truly useful and that bring you joy. Who really needs things like six sets of dishes, cumbersome old furniture that clogs up the house, their parents' old clothes, etc.? The author's wise advice is to take photos of any items that have sentimental value but which you have no room or real desire for, and then let them go: selling them, re-gifting them, donating them, or chucking them. As for unwanted gifts: Once you have the gift, it is yours, to do with as you like. The same goes for gifts that you give. Once given, they belong to others, to do with as they wish. Accept that fact, and you will avoid a lot of pain if one day you discover that your gift was not kept by its receiver.

5. Broken dreams

These can be devastating, and we all have them. But if all hope for certain things was lost long ago, and you have stuff hanging around that reminds you of them—old love letters, old wedding or engagement rings, toys you were saving for the children that were never born—it's time to let those things go, too. You will be amazed at how much freer you feel after the initial wrench.

There is much more to the book, but I hope these few points have helped you. They certainly helped me.

About the author:

Leonore Dvorkin is the author of many articles and four published books. Since 2009, she and her husband, the prolific author David Dvorkin, have been editing books by other authors and helping them self-publish those books in e-book and print formats. Their business is now DLD Books. Bob Branco and many of the contributors to this newsletter are among their clients, most of whom are blind or visually impaired. Leonore's website is . For information about DLD Books, see .



The Three D's To Destroy Stress

by Dennis R. Sumlin

What is the one thing that can cause headaches, fatigue, screw over your sex life, destroy sleep, zap your motivation and other whammies? No, it's not your mother in-law, and it's not your ex. It's stress.

Stress is something that affects all of us at some point. While there is such a thing as good stress, I am talking about the one that we know all too well about. That stomach-turning stress. The stress that has some of us frozen in place and makes others develop anxiety.

Even though stress is a very real thing, many of us live with it, thinking it's no big deal, and not realizing all the effects it's having. You could also be like I was, and deny being stressed while feeling the effects of it. Either way, you can only go so long before things start to explode.

Tick, Tick, Boom

Stress can send you flying down the road to depression. If stress goes bottled up, unchanneled, or otherwise left to build, you could find yourself turning to alcohol, food, and other addictions. It does not need to be this way. It does not need to go this far.

I allowed myself to bottle up stress for years. I never wanted to even consciously acknowledge the stress. I just brushed it off. I did not allow myself to have an outlet. This resulted in edgier and depressive moods, social hibernation, and anxiety. Once depression takes hold, then everything else goes off the rails, and it's a hot mess. Once I decided to take a new approach, then things changed. All it took was some well-placed triple Ds.

Dump It!

The first thing you can do is dump it. Get the stressor off your chest. First, you must acknowledge that you are stressed or that you deal with stress. Once you do, then you need to find an outlet for it.

It took me quite some time to really deal with my own stress. I finally got tired of suppressing feelings, then having some little thing happen and set me off. I had to channel those intense feelings.

As I have spoken about before, one way you can dump those stress toxins is to keep a journal. That is a surefire way to have a safe space to just put everything down and release the energy, knowing nobody will see it. I was able to release things I did not feel comfortable saying out loud, and it helped to bring some calm and centeredness to my moods.

You could also talk to a friend or somebody you trust. Many people want another person to bounce things off, or just to hold that safe space while they move through their feelings. If you had a bad day, dump it! Reach out, call up, and write down. Reaching out does not make you weak, a punk, a snowflake, or a crybaby. You are taking action to defend your freedom.

Discharge It!

There are many ways you can discharge stress from your system. Along with venting your feelings, you can also release stress energy by meditation. Relaxation and meditation could be what you need. The act of meditation returns us to our center and refocuses our mind. When you have had a stressful day at the office, or your partner and you had some words, it's time to go within.

Once I turned on some meditation music or Tibetan Bowls, it moved all the hurt and stressed feelings through and out of my system. The same therapeutic discharge can happen by getting a great massage.

You may be the type to hit the gym. Exercise is a great way of releasing stress. Discharging your day on some weights could be the thing that sets it right. Exercise has enormous benefits in addition to discharging stress. It helps with sleep and refocuses your mind, which, of course, lowers stress.

Define It!

This last "D” can be the toughest one. In order to help de-stress, you must define stress in your own terms. Take a look at the things that stress you out. As a Self-Mastery Coach, I firmly understand that the way we look at things is the way we react to things. Does your stress come from money? How can you see your financial situation differently? Could relationships be the stressor? How can you relate to your partners differently?

Many times, what we get stressed about is all in the mind. This is not to say that you should not be concerned if your company is downsizing due to the invasion of robots, but it can mean that you get an opportunity to follow a different path.

However you deal with stress, however you dump it or discharge it, please do not let it just sit there. If you let stress manifest, you get no sleep, no sex, and no motivation, but more and more stress. You could become stressed that you are stressed. Dump it! Discharge it! Define it!



A Little Bird Told Me

by Stephen Théberge

We are all aware of the President's use, or misuse, of Twitter. One could argue he is an addict. I want to outline how Twitter works, how it can be used and misused, and most of all, how I think it has gone completely out of control.

The tweet is a post or message that you put out for the world to see. If you want the world to know you, Twitter can be helpful. One can use photos, links, and videos in their tweets, but the bottom line is that 140-character limit.

With Facebook, there is virtually no limit to the size of your post. This allows you much more freedom. With Twitter, you have to be creative and use power words to get noticed. You see a lot of clever advertisements on Twitter. I think Twitter is probably perfect for marketers.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn't call followers friends. You can follow a user's tweets, and other users can follow your tweet activity. This method builds a network of who follows you and whom you are following.

As I've said, my friends on Facebook are real friends and family. Some people on Facebook have thousands of friends, but they are probably just followers. The trend on all social media is to get as many people to follow you as possible. This may be done for many reasons.

My main use for social media, when I'm not wasting my time, is to have as many people as I can look at my book website, my blog, and watch my YouTube videos. Twitter is a unique way of doing this.

I've discovered that the more followers you want, the more people you have to follow. Today, I got 15 people following me from out of the blue. Some of these people have over 30,000 followers and are following nearly that many users.

This raises a very important question. Who would have the time to read that many tweets from people? Even if only a small fraction of these people you are following post tweets, I can see you'd be spending a lot of time there. I am following nearly 300 people. As of this writing, 210 people are following me.

When I put a video on my YouTube channel, it is posted through my Twitter account. Now, all of the people following me, and the tens of thousands following my users, will see it, assuming they ever get to read it. So many tweets go out daily, and actually all the time, that only the newest tweets are seen first. You'd need a lot of time and patience to find something tweeted even yesterday.

I must confess that Twitter hasn't done anything to advance my book sales, let alone my YouTube channel watches. It sometimes feels fruitless. I realize that just keeping myself out there is the only hope I have for people to become interested in my book. What I find most amazing about all the social media platforms is that there are countless numbers of people who claim they have the secret to successful social media marketing.

I don't have much of a budget for that kind of campaign, anyway. Furthermore, it is hard to know if any of these people are legit. You can pay a relatively small amount of money to have bots post tweets for you at regular intervals. I see so many of these kinds of sponsored tweets that it numbs the senses. You start to ignore all the clutter. It would probably take a large budget and very creative tweet to even hope for any results.

On all the social media platforms, I have noticed a lot of the big names in companies polluting the pool. You can't go anywhere without seeing all kinds of advertisements. I realize that advertising has its place. The platforms would probably not be able to exist if the big sponsors weren't there. I think it puts an indie author or small entrepreneur at a great disadvantage.

The fact is that most users want free access. This puts us at the mercy of the big companies. In the old days, one could start up a bulletin board system or other way to communicate online. Now, it is probably safe to say that, like it or not, the big companies and common platforms are here to stay.

It has made me wonder at times if this energy and effort are worth it. Are we just wasting our time? Is there a way to utilize Twitter, or any other platform, to our advantage? I'd welcome any thoughts on the subject.

(Proofreader's note:  Today, November 7, I read online that Twitter has doubled the character limit for tweets, making it 280. People seem divided on whether that is a good or bad thing.)

From Steve Théberge: Follow me on Twitter at @speechfb

Read and post on my writer's blog:

Check out my science fiction book page for my book The MetSche Message:

Watch my Youtube channel for many blindness-related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts:



The Dark Prism

by James R. Campbell

On October 12, 2016, 21-year-old Zuzu Verk disappeared from the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. The last person to see her was her on-and-off boyfriend. Two days later, her boyfriend reported her missing.

Zuzu was a brilliant, humorous, friendly girl who had her whole life ahead of her. She was majoring in conservation biology with an interest in wildlife. Although she was tiny, she had no fear of the outdoors. One of her activities was marking the endangered prong-horned deer so that researchers could track their movements.

"My daughter cared for wildlife and wanted to help to preserve it,” Lorie Verk told a journalist for KOSA TV in Odessa in a November 23rd interview. Lorie was the spokesperson for the family during the search. The state and federal government, as well as volunteers, spared no effort in looking for her.

The boyfriend and his friend were of no help. Neither was cooperative with investigators. The citizens of Alpine were outraged. They protested outside the boyfriend's home, carrying signs that read, "Clear your name or take the blame.”

The community reached out to the Verks. They took them in as their own. Both parents moved to Alpine from the community of Keller, Texas after Zuzu's disappearance. A number of fundraisers were held to raise money to provide for their needs. The reward for the safe return of their daughter and information concerning her whereabouts eventually reached $20,000. Half of the funds were contributed by the H-E-B grocery chain, a Texas-based grocery where Mr. Verk worked.

Tragically, on February 3, 2017, border patrol agents found human remains near Alpine. Three days later, the grim news West Texas had dreaded was confirmed, and the family received news that the remains were those of their daughter. The boyfriend was arrested the day after the remains were found. His friend was charged with tampering with a corpse and tampering with evidence.

The story of Zuzu's last moments came to light. The boyfriend's neighbors said that the couple had an argument, and that they had heard a loud thud. Zuzu's friends told investigators that she no longer felt safe with him. She described him as jealous and aggressive. After her disappearance, the parents received word that she had been accepted at Texas A&M University, and that the room that was assigned to her was waiting for her. Obviously, she wanted to get away from him. Last Wednesday night, the citizens of Alpine walked in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in her memory.

The boyfriend is jailed on suspicion of murder. His pretrial hearing was postponed. His friend, who is facing charges as an accessory, is slated for trial in May of 2018.

Sul Ross University has dedicated an outdoor classroom and amphitheater in memory of the vibrant, quirky, brilliant young girl who was taken from us far too soon. In his mind the boyfriend made a decision: "If I can't have her, nobody will!” She is sorely missed by her family and friends alike.

For obvious reasons, I will not discuss the evidence the investigators have against the two men who have been charged until after they have had their day in front of a jury of their peers. I can tell you that there are few cases that have rocked this region of our state the way this one has. It tugged at the heartstrings of so many, for the tiny girl who cared for the earth and its living things is a symbol for all families who have loved ones who are missing and who have lost loved ones to violent crime in one way or another. In Part Two, I will share my reflections on that period of time last year.

Let me close by saying this to those who took her from us: We will defeat your purpose, and only good will overcome evil. In that, we will win through to final victory.

As always, thanks for your time.

With loving kindness,

James R. Campbell




Love Letters in the Grand: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Big-City Piano Tuner

Nonfiction by John Justice, C 2017 / 133 pages in print / Also in e-book.

Here are 30 true tales, variously funny, touching, and dramatic, from the author's 28 years of piano tuning in New York and Philadelphia, from 1965 to 1993. Whether he's telling about tuning a piano for Elvis Presley, clobbering a vicious dog with his tool kit, or finding Tommy guns and love letters in pianos, the author's dedication to his craft, his love of people and music, his strong work ethic, and his caring nature all shine through.

In e-book ($2.99) and print ($9.50) from Amazon and multiple other online sellers.

Cover, synopsis, text preview, author bio, and handy buying links are at

John Justice is the author of two other books, both fiction. Those are It's Still Christmas and The Paddy Stories: Book One. Full details are on his website.


Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust

Nonfiction by Ann Chiappetta / C 2017

In e-book ($3.99) and print ($11.95) from Amazon and multiple other online sellers.

Follow the author as she moves from an unhappy early life and her unstoppable loss of vision to happiness and fulfillment as a guide dog user, wife, and mother who works as a V.A. counselor. This touching, informative, and beautifully written book will surely resonate with many besides guide dog raisers, trainers, and handlers. Includes stories and photos of her most beloved dogs, past and present.

From the text:

While there is practical merit to the human-canine bond, which developed over a period of 70,000 years, it's not akin to any other human-animal relationship. It is unique. The person and guide dog are interdependent, and the bond of mutual trust is what makes the partnership successful and fulfilling for both. With this book, I hope to take the reader on a journey of understanding: learning what it's like to overcome the darker side of disability by walking the path of independence with a canine partner.

For cover photo, longer synopsis, free text preview, author bio, and buying links, see:

Ann Chiappetta, M.S., lives in New Rochelle, New York. Her personal website is

Her first published book was Upwelling: Poems (C 2016).


Blind Penpals

If you enjoy making friends from all corners of the world, like to help others, read and share info, and get and provide support, feel free to join my Facebook group. You can look it up as

Blind Penpals or click the link below. The group is pretty safe for people of all ages, abilities, and interests, with no drama and with control over scammers and spammers. Feel free to also share this with others who may like to join such a group.



Understanding Winter Precipitation Types

by Steve Roberts

There are four basic winter precipitation types; they are snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain. The type of precipitation that falls is determined by the temperature of the air through which the precipitation falls.

Snow is a precipitation type that forms in and falls through an atmosphere that is at or below freezing at all levels. The kind of snow that falls is largely a function of how cold the air is at the time the snow forms and falls.

If the air is 30 degrees when it is snowing, then the snow will be heavy and wet. On the other hand, if the air is 20 degrees at the time it is snowing, then the snow will be light and fluffy. High temperatures will result in the production of high-density snow. Low air temperatures will result in the production of low-density snow.

In the early spring, the lower atmosphere warms the fastest, while the middle and upper levels still retain the winter chill. When it is warm at the surface and cold just above the surface, the intensity of precipitation will determine the type of precipitation that falls to the surface.

When the precipitation falls lightly, it will take the form of cold rain. When the precipitation falls more heavily, it will take the form of heavy, wet snow. This is because the heavier precipitation drags the cold air down to the ground, allowing the precipitation to take the form of snow.

Sleet occurs when snow falls out of the clouds and enters a layer of warm air, causing it to change to rain. The rain refreezes as it enters a layer of cold air in the lower atmosphere. Sleet takes the form of ice pellets. Sleet often bounces off paved surfaces as it strikes them.

Freezing rain occurs when snow falls out of the clouds and enters a layer of warm air, causing it to turn to rain. That rain enters a shallow layer of cold air that is nearest the ground. As the rain falls into the cold air, it becomes super-cooled water (water that is below freezing but has not changed phase). This super-cooled water freezes on contact with subfreezing surfaces such as pavement, power lines, car hoods, or snow. A brief period of freezing rain can make driveways and walkways slick. Freezing rain will hit your head as cold rain because your head is too warm to facilitate phase change. If freezing rain persists, you have what is commonly called an ice storm.

Sleet and freezing rain are generally transitional precipitation types that do not last very long. What most often happens is that you will get snow, changing to sleet, then freezing rain, with an eventual changeover to cold rain.

Though most of us do not think of rainfall as a winter precipitation type, many of the winter storms that occur have some portion of their precipitation production as rain. Rain forms in and falls through an atmosphere that is too warm to support frozen precipitation of any kind. Weather Channel meteorologists say that the worst winter weather to report in is rain that falls with air temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s.



Living and Working With Guide Dogs

"Doink Doink Doink”

by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Hello, readers. This is a reprint from my blog. The recent release of my non-fiction book, Follow Your Dog: a Story of Love and Trust, has taken up much of my spare writing time. I am so pleased that Leonore and David Dvorkin have produced a most excellent paperback and e-book. I hope you'll read it; it is a tribute to unconditional love. Until next time, enjoy this post from 2015.

"Doink Doink Doink”


Well, readers, this is yet another post about dogs. It's been just a little over six months since Bailey came into our lives, and I am satisfied with his progress thus far. He is a sweet boy, but he can be bossy. I think that is a male thing, though. I'm talking about assertive and unaggressive in-your-face pushy. He is energetic, sweet, and loves attention.

Jerry and April told me that Bailey grabs Verona's leather collar and pulls her to try to get her to play. This is after rubbing a toy in her face, whapping her in the head, and play bowing and verbalizing. He is either ignored or given the brush-off. Verona will, when possible, hide behind one of the humans as if to say, "Save me from this big goofus.”

So I take off her collar and redirect him. I don't get mad. I just convince him to do something else. It only works half of the time, though; he is a very single-minded dog.

I must say at this point that Nikka does not tolerate any of this from Sir Bailey. If he begins to treat her the same way as he treats Verona, she will bark, chase him, and put him in his place. Let me say that knowing Sir Bailey tucks tail and makes for safe ground is quite amusing. The only animal who dominates Nikka is the cat. Hee, hee, hee.

This character trait works out very well when guiding. Bailey has a great energy and drive, especially when he is familiar with the surroundings and we can relax in our work. I love it when he picks up the pace and we fly. The feeling makes all the effort worthwhile, and I know I made the right choice in 2009, when I first picked up Verona's harness handle.

Anyway, our latest power struggle is food time. In class, meals were at 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., with a water and relieving break in between. After a few months at home, Bailey began bothering me at 5:30 a.m. At this time, he was on tie-down beside my side of the bed. I would resettle him and wait until 6:00. Then we went to California, and the time change screwed up everything. Now, he is often bothering me at 4 a.m. I think it's partly due to having night owl hours with Jerry, who can't sleep from post-surgery pain; he will take the dogs out to distract himself from the pain, and when this happens, Bailey thinks, "Hey, it's morning and time to eat!”

Then Verona joins in and I am roused, doinked, and otherwise accosted by canine noses until I sit up. It's very unbecoming, my eyes full of sleep, my hair a mess, and my mind barely registering that I am sitting up. Oy, ugly.

But this matters not when puppy tummies are empty and there is kibble two rooms away. After a few rounds of "No, lie down, go back to sleep,” and "It's not time yet,” I flop back down and huddle under the covers, as if it will signal to them to stop bothering me.

Then I notice that my bladder is bursting. I lie there, thinking that if I get up, all bets are off and the doinking of noses and snuffling will start up again. So I lie there, miserable, praying that I'll fall back to sleep, knowing I won't.

As my aching bladder throbs, I dare to poke out a finger from under the covers to touch my iPhone to hear the time. Bailey must be watching me, because as soon as I move, he pops up and doinks me with his big, wet nose. I retreat under the covers after getting the time check. Thirty minutes have passed, and my bladder is screaming. I have to get up. I tough it out until 4:45 and fling off the cover and make it just in time to the bathroom. I am, of course, accompanied by both Bailey and Verona.

Then I walk down the hall, being herded by a dog to each side of me, taking turns licking my hands, doinking the backs of my legs with their heads. They make sure I don't turn into the kitchen and herd me into the office, whereupon I pick up the food bowls and begin dispensing tasty goodness in the form of kibble.

So, readers, here is a Monty Python-esque piece based on these experiences. Hope it makes you smile.


Upon the hour of 3

Ye canine shall entice the Master

With four-legged antics,

Frolicking exploits

And other doggerel

To thereby convince the Master

To fill Ye Holy Kibble Pail

Ye canine will not,

Repeat, not,

Attempt to entice the Master

Before the strike of 3 of the clock

Feeding of the canine shall not

Be at the strike of the one hour,

Nor the two hour,

But at the hour of three

As decreed by the

Most Noble Master and Keeper of Ye Royal Kibble.



Dear Bob,

I just wanted you to know that I've read all of the October Consumer Vision. I thoroughly enjoyed it! My busy life does not allow me time to read the whole magazine every month. Tonight, I'm glad I did. I feel you have a wonderful array of contributors, and I respect them so much. Thank you to the contributors, the readers, you, Terri, and Leonore. I'm so happy to be a part of this team.



I am writing in response to Steve Théberge's column about Facebook addiction. I will take it one step further. I know people who are so into Facebook that they actually post photos of their dinner plates with food on them. Though I believe these people have their own reasons for taking pictures of their dinners, I don't think it's necessary to share that kind of trivial information when we could be doing more productive things with Facebook. In fact, I know someone who is so petrified of Facebook that he is afraid of users gossiping about him on the site. As a result, he hates Facebook. I tried to convince him that Facebook is not the problem. It's what people do with it. If someone wants to publicize his deep, dark secrets and is bullied for it, then I believe that's his problem. I try to use Facebook as professionally as possible. I post articles, announcements, and basic concerns. I often make small talk, but it's far from personal. If I take my fiancée out for a steak dinner, nobody else needs to see the size of my onions, nor should they know if my fiancée and I kissed during the meal. Steve is right. Facebook can be addictive if we let it. Therefore we must be very selective about how we use it and take a realistic approach to what's going on.

Bob Branco


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

by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at

As Bryanna (my guide dog) and I walked to my therapy session, I felt the brisk fall wind on my face. It pushed me indoors, and although I was wearing a warm fall jacket, I was tantalized by the idea of hibernating in my bed all winter. For a girl who likes riding the tandem bike, dressing in sundresses, and wearing sandals, transitioning into winter is beyond difficult.

About four years ago, I changed my mindset to enjoy autumn. With memories of playing in piles of leaves at Grandma's, hot apple cider, Halloween, marching band music, and cross country, fall became my friend.

I have yet to find a love for winter. I believe that the hardest obstacles of winter are getting enough exercise and battling depression. If exercising and eating good food aren't fun for you, you're not going to stick with it. I get cold too easily to enjoy a walk, go sledding, or go skiing or snowboarding. With this in mind, and knowing I can't stop winter from coming nor can I move to a warmer climate, I signed up for the Y through my health care plan. At least I'll be able to go swimming indoors and maybe ride the exercise bike. I want to stay in shape for more tandem biking adventures.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed running and rollerskating. It was no fun standing around for my turn to bowl, go up to the plate, or stand in a field waiting for a ball to come my way. I couldn't swim till I was in high school. Horseback riding and rollerskating were fun, but I only got to do them for two two-week sessions at Enchanted Hills Camp. Most of my physical exercise happened in PE class, which wasn't always fun because I had to wait around a lot for my turn to run with the teacher, or the water was just too cold to swim, or we were doing a team sport I couldn't participate in. Larry Roberts and I went to the school district and got our own Phys Ed teacher, but until then, exercise just wasn't fun. It wasn't like we could hop on a tandem bike and just go somewhere. Most of my childhood, we read books and played board games. Just as I had to quit drinking soda and other sugary drinks, I had to change my sedentary lifestyle as an adult.

When I was in high school, I walked around a lot because we didn't have a car. Before high school, I spent a couple of years in Thailand, and occasionally my neighbor or my dad would take me for a ride on our tandem bike that we had shipped from San Francisco. I could never get enough. Mom would pitch the beep baseball to me, and I would practice hitting it. When we moved to Ithaca, New York, my tandem bike was destroyed in a train wreck. Our big shipment was ruined. What we had spent a lifetime accumulating was gone. I let my mom use the money from the insurance for the tandem bike on whatever she felt she needed.

When I exercise, especially with a friend, I feel uplifted in my spirit. I'm smiling, having fun, and just enjoying life. In my childhood, I spent a lot of time exercising my mind and never fully realized the importance of keeping my body moving. I was lectured for being too fidgety, and praised when I sat still. I was the good little girl. Now, I knit in church, do stretches while I'm in bed, and wiggle my fingers and toes. Dancing, walking, running, biking, swimming, rollerskating, any form of exercise that keeps you moving and having fun is good for you. Incorporate it in your life, consider it playtime, and soon you'll be craving it. I craved playtime so much this year I was motivated to sign up for swimming at the Y. They allow me to bring a friend or aide in for free. I have biking adventures to go on, walks with friends, and a life to live. Please don't be like me and put off enjoyment. I'm feeling excited to hear about your sport of choice and how it keeps the winter blues away.

Please email me at: . May this winter be the best ever!



Making my First Thanksgiving Dinner

by Karen Crowder

November arrives. The 5th marks the end of Daylight Saving Time. There are two holidays: Veterans Day on November 11 and Thanksgiving Day on November 23. Because of our mild October in New England, leaves are still on many trees. However, this month brings the excitement of the holiday season. My recipe column reflects this. It is a revised version of the article "Making My First Thanksgiving Dinner,” from the November 2011 issue of Matilda Ziegler Magazine. Along with sausage and potato stuffing for turkey, I have added the recipe for the butternut squash side dish I made.


A. Sausage and Potato Stuffing

B. Special Butternut Squash Side Dish

In November of 1990, Marshall and I were newlyweds. It was our first Thanksgiving together. The excitement of the holiday season bloomed. Living in our own home made that Thanksgiving extra special. However, I did not know how to prepare stuffing or to prepare a turkey. How long did I cook a turkey?

I leafed through the braille copy of our New England Cookery. They had good stuffing recipes and directions for how long to cook a16-pound turkey. Thanksgiving Eve, Marshall guided me systematically through making sausage and potato stuffing. I was amazed that the preparation took over an hour. We hoped it would turn out well.

Thanksgiving morning, our neighbor helped me stuff the turkey and Marshall guided me through seasoning the outside of the bird with a mixture of butter and seasonings. As the turkey and stuffing cooked, I prepared side dishes of mashed potatoes and butternut squash. We ate our meal by mid-afternoon, with Marshall lovingly complimenting me about how good it was. I agreed. However, we laughed about the overcooked turkey. Yet the delicious stuffing and side dishes masked this mistake.

As my Thanksgiving gift to Consumer Vision readers, here is the revised recipe for sausage and potato stuffing, with my special butternut squash.

A. Sausage and Potato Stuffing


One package whole mushrooms

Two medium onions

Four cloves garlic

One stick celery

One carrot (optional)

One and a half sticks butter

Three potatoes

One-half cup milk

One package Jimmy Dean sausage patties

Bell's Poultry Seasoning

Sage, garlic powder, salt, and tarragon

One and a half loaves day-old bread (optional)

One-fourth cup water

One egg


In a deep, 10 to 12-inch skillet, melt one stick of butter. Break up mushrooms, mince onion, cloves of garlic, and optional celery and carrot. Cook vegetables on low heat for 25 minutes.

While they are cooking, heat water for potatoes, then process bread, onion, and seasonings in a food processor. Empty them into a large mixing bowl, adding water and egg. Cut up potatoes and add to boiling water. Cook for 25 minutes. As they are cooking, add cooled vegetable mixture to mixing bowl. Drain and mash potatoes, adding one-half stick of butter and one-half cup milk and pinch of salt. Let them cool, then add to vegetable-bread mixture.

Fry sausage patties and let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Break them into small pieces, mixing them with stuffing. Pour stuffing into frying pan, letting it cook for 5-7 minutes. This gives the stuffing more sausage flavor. Put stuffing into two large containers, cover, and let refrigerate overnight.

If you stuff the turkey, make sure all traces of it are removed after the Thanksgiving meal. You can use the carcass and some leftover turkey for soup the next day. Any leftover stuffing can be used in a turkey casserole or as a second turkey dinner.

I hope this stuffing becomes a family tradition, as it has in our family for years. Some of the ideas for this stuffing came from The Book of New England Cookery.

B. Special Butternut Squash


One bag or package frozen butternut squash

One-half to three-fourths stick butter

One-fourth cup brown sugar

Pinches of cinnamon and optional nutmeg


One-fourth cup real maple syrup (optional)

In a three-quart saucepan or double boiler, slowly cook butternut squash. This will take 15-20 minutes. Add butter, sugar, spices, and optional maple syrup. Stir dish with a metal or wooden spoon. Stir it until butternut squash mixture is smooth. Allow dish to simmer until serving time. Maple syrup makes this side dish for the holiday season festive.

I wish all Consumer Vision readers a blessed and happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. Let us be thankful for all we have in America.



by Marcy Segelman

I want to go back to when I was a child. I would watch my aunt and others in my family play a game called mahjong. It is a Chinese game. However, it is known as the American Jewish women's game. Played in the cities, the suburbs, and the Catskills alike, the weekly mahjong games, with their friendly wagers, were as much a ritual as lighting Friday Shabbat candles.

Nearly synonymous with the playing were the Jello rings, bridge mix, Entenmann's coffee cake, and other iconic snacks, as well as those very unhealthy maraschino cherries on plastic toothpicks. Nowadays, the preserved red cherries are taboo. "We play heart healthy,” she said, with cut-up fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, salsa, cheese, and crackers. You rarely ever see any candy or sweets, as in the past.

Many people associate mahjong with Eastern European Jewish women. But it first bloomed in the 1920s and' 30s among women of the leisure class, many of whom were of German descent. Others also played this game.

In 1937, at the inaugural of the National Mah Jongg League, all 200 women were Jewish. The league's focus on donating to philanthropic causes made it a natural for synagogue sisterhoods and other Jewish women's groups.

So here we are in 2017, and this game is just as popular now as it was then, maybe even more. I myself do not know how to play. But I want to learn how to play this game.



by Karen Crowder

It is November. Emails, ads, and catalogs are bombarding your computer and mailbox. Along with an early Thanksgiving (November 23), there are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Why not avoid the crowds and shop from home using your phone or the internet?

During November and December, I will give Consumer Vision readers the names of six retailers I have enjoyed shopping with. Each retailer has a phone number and a website. This month, I will mention National Braille Press, The Vermont Country Store, and The Soap Bar.

At National Braille Press, you can find braille cookbooks, children's books, and instructional books on smart phones and other aspects of technology. I love their refrigerator magnets, which have sayings in braille. For more information on what they have, go to Alternatively, call 1-617-266-6160

I started shopping at The Vermont Country Store in 2001, before Christmas. During the holiday season, they have delicious chocolate-covered cherry cordials, other candies, delicious jams and jellies, and Vermont maple syrup. You can find warm socks, blankets, and other clothing to keep out New England's or the Midwest's winter chill. They also have soaps, fragrances, kitchen items, and some toys. Their customer service is friendly; they are very patient with blind customers. Their web site is . Their customer service number is 1-800-547-7849.

The Soap Bar in Florida sells soaps, bath gels, lotions, some colognes, and other accessories. They have Yardley of London lavender products. They have Lightfoot's pine soap and Maja products. Their customer service is exceptional. I have shopped there and have never been disappointed. Their web site is Their phone number is 1-407-678-8806.

I hope these suggestions give readers ideas for holiday shopping. I wish Consumer Vision readers a happy early holiday season.



Here is the answer to the question submitted in the October 2017 Consumer Vision. On "Leave It to Beaver,” the pet that Beaver never had was a parakeet. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Roger Acuna of Concord, California

Steve Théberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the November Consumer Vision. Name the largest desert in the world. If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.