Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editor: Terri Winaught
Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin
Formatter: David Dvorkin
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this magazine’s contents, three asterisks *** will be used to separate each article’s title from its writer. This symbol will also be used between each article to make using your browser’s search feature easier. If you have a screen reader that doesn’t work with asterisks, please let me know not only that but also what I can do to help. Though I can’t promise a fix, I promise to try my best.
Finally, three asterisks *** will be used between recipes in Karen Crowder’s column as well as in Readers’ Forum and Special Notices when those features contain more than one item. Items in those columns are preceded by the letters A, B, C, etc., depending on the number of items in the column.
- LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught
- HEALTH MATTERS: The Benefits of Peaches, Strawberries, and Watermelons *** by Leonore Dvorkin
- THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF *** by Dennis R. Sumlin
- ALEXA VERSUS SIRI *** by Stephen Théberge
- AFTERMATH *** by James R. Campbell
- SOCIETY’S TRENDS *** by Bob Branco
- SPECIAL NOTICES *** Submitted by Readers and Organized by Bob Branco
- WEATHER OR NOT: 1,000-Year Flood Events *** by Steve Roberts
- THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
- TURNING POINT *** by Terri Winaught
- TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
- RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
- ROUX AND REMEMBRANCE *** by David L. Faucheux
- AVOIDING A CATASTROPHE *** by John Justice
- TRIVIA CONTEST: Answers from Last Month, Winners, and This Month’s Question *** by Bob Branco
- CONCLUDING NOTE FROM THE PROOFREADER *** by Leonore Dvorkin
- LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Summer is often associated with such positives as the roar of the ocean, the romance in a new relationship, the coolness of an evening breeze, and cars with newly licensed young drivers.
Like any time or season, however, summer’s sultriness can also bring dangers and downsides. Consider, for example, the young children who die or become seriously ill from being locked in hot cars.
The parent who says, “But I wasn’t gone that long,” either forgot or didn’t know just how quickly a car in 90-degree heat can develop an inside temperature of 130 or 140 degrees.
Given the danger just cited, locking a child in a hot car should never be done at all, let alone as a punishment. Yet a mother in Texas recently admitted to confining her twins to a sweltering car as punishment—an act that resulted in their death. Though I would never suggest that bad behavior shouldn’t be addressed, I will also emphasize that putting a child at risk of death is not the answer. So stay safe, well, and responsible in the heat of the day.
For readers who have guide or other service dogs, please be just as vigilant. With the full fur coats so many dogs have, those “fur persons,” as I like to call them, can also quickly overheat and die.
On a much different note, June 12 was the one-year anniversary of this country’s worst mass shooting. Specifically, it was on June 12, 2016 that 49 partygoers were killed and many more seriously injured when a shooter suddenly opened fire at Pulse, an Orlando, Florida nightclub. As part of remembering, I was heartened to see the power of prayer and the healing of hugs replace the horror of hate.
As we prepare to celebrate 241 years of the United States’ independence, I’m sure that Karen Crowder will have some great recipes in her column. Leonore Dvorkin will have informative tips in “Health Matters.” John Justice (who wrote a wonderfully detailed column on fire safety) and all of our talented contributors will have great things to say.
While we write our words of wisdom and entertainment, I encourage and thank us all for doing what I will do before submitting this letter, and that is to use our device’s spell checker. The harder we work to transform good into excellent, the less time it takes to edit, proofread, and format; and the less time those processes take, the sooner we can get each issue of Consumer Vision to you, the reader, without whom there would be no magazine.
In addition to thanking all of our wonderful writers, I also want to show appreciation to publisher Bob Branco, proofreader Leonore Dvorkin, formatter David Dvorkin, and anyone considering writing for Consumer Vision.
Thanks for reading with me, and have a festive, fun-filled Fourth of July.
Terri Winaught, Editor
- HEALTH MATTERS
The Benefits of Peaches, Strawberries, and Watermelons by Leonore Dvorkin
Note: This article was first published in a Denver newsletter in 2007. It has been slightly modified for this appearance.
Now that the luscious, fresh fruits of summer are beginning to appear on store shelves and at farmers’ markets, I thought it would be a good time to bring to the readers of Consumer Vision two articles that I wrote on the benefits of various fruits. So enjoy both the articles (this one and one that will appear in August) and the fruits themselves!
Peaches originated in China and were introduced to California by Spanish missionaries in the 1700s. Today they are grown in 36 U.S. states. Although Georgia is called the Peach State, California produces 99% of all cling peaches.
Cooling in nature, peaches are high in fiber and in Vitamins A, C, and E. Unlike most fruits, they contain calcium. They can help ease dry coughs and relieve constipation. One medium peach provides only about 50 calories, less than the 60 calories in a medium apple. Fresh peaches are seasonal, but peaches can be enjoyed canned or frozen all year round.
A red blush on the peach indicates the variety, not ripeness. Ripeness is indicated by a peachy aroma and some softness, so choose a peach that gives slightly to palm pressure. Hard, out-of-season peaches and those with greenish skins will not ripen or become sweet, so buy them ripe and enjoy them soon.
The strawberry is the most popular berry fruit in the world. Strawberries have grown wild for thousands of years and were highly prized by the ancient Romans. In the early 1700s, a French engineer brought back to Europe a variety of strawberry native to Chile and Peru. In France, this variety was crossed with a North American variety, and the hybrid strawberry with which we are familiar was born. The current largest commercial producers of strawberries are the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Strawberries are at their peak from April through July. Their unique phenol content makes them heart protective, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory. They are a good source of Vitamin C, manganese, fiber, folate, magnesium, copper, and Vitamins B5 and B6.
It’s said that medium-sized berries are often more flavorful than very large ones, but the large organic berries we have been buying lately taste wonderful to us. A pretty and nutritious dessert can be made by layering blueberries and cut strawberries with plain or vanilla yogurt—or vanilla ice cream, of course. If you have never tried soy ice cream or ice cream made from rice milk, pick some up at your nearest health food store and get ready for a taste treat!
When buying pre-packaged strawberries, make sure they are not packed too tightly. Avoid a container with stains or moisture, which can indicate spoilage. Remove any molded or damaged berries before storing them, unwashed, in the refrigerator. Wash them gently, stems on, just before eating. Buying organic strawberries will help you avoid pesticide residues. Berries can be washed, dried, and then frozen in a plastic container for future use. Freezing them whole preserves more of their Vitamin C.
Watermelons, which are related to cantaloupes, squash, and pumpkins, originated in Africa. The ancient Egyptians loved watermelons and even placed them on the tombs of kings. They were brought to China as early as the 10th century, then to the New World in the 1500s. They are high in Vitamins C, A, B1, and B6. A cup of watermelon contains only about 48 calories. That’s because the fruit is 92% water, making it ideal as a thirst quencher.
To select a flavorful cut watermelon, look for deep-colored flesh minus any white streaks. Seeds should be dark in color. If buying a whole watermelon, buy one that is heavy for its size and that has a smooth rind, not too shiny or dull. Important: One side of the melon should have an area that is different in color from the rest of the rind, an area that is yellowish or creamy in color. This underbelly shows where the melon rested on the ground until ripe. If this lighter area is missing, the melon may have been harvested prematurely, making it inferior in taste, texture, and juiciness.
Choose a watermelon that is symmetrical in shape, that has a very slight softness to the touch, and that is free of cracks, bruises, and soft spots. Don’t bother sniffing the watermelon; if it’s been chilled, it won’t have much smell. A watermelon will not get sweeter after it’s been harvested, but letting it sit at room temperature for two or three days will make it juicier. After cutting it, store any unused pieces in the refrigerator in a plastic container or covered in plastic wrap.
Mixed fruit salad, if properly refrigerated, retains most of its nutrition for as long as a week. So mix and enjoy to your heart’s content! //
About the Author:
Leonore Dvorkin lives in Denver, Colorado, where she tutors three languages, teaches exercise classes, and edits books. She is the author of four published books. Since 2009, she and her husband, David Dvorkin (the author of 27 published books), have edited and produced over 40 books by other authors. Most of their clients are blind or visually impaired. Several of the regular contributors to Consumer Vision, including Bob Branco, are among their clients.
The book that they most recently produced was Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile, by David L. Faucheux. Coming in mid- to late July is The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Mary Hiland. All the books that the Dvorkins edit and produce are available in e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
Note: Leonore’s own e-books are all half price on Smashwords during July 2017.
Information on DLD Books (the Dvorkins’ book business): http://www.dldbooks.com/
Leonore’s personal website: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
- THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF
by Dennis R. Sumlin
We are continuing with the top 5 articles on WWW.CoachDennisSumlin.COM. So far, we did numbers 5 and 3. This month, it’s number 4. It’s about the history and stigma of self-pleasure. Enjoy.
It’s a handy topic, indeed. Something that has been going on for about a quadrillion years, and for just as long, some people have condemned it and others benefit from it. What is it? Masturbation. According to statistics, 78% of people masturbate. On average, more men masturbate than women. Are you surprised? Teens and college students do it the most, at two to three times a week. The rate of masturbation declines as we get older.
There is a myth that says that people masturbate when they are not in a relationship. This myth is just that. There are studies that show that masturbation may increase when one is in a sexual relationship, especially for women.
Masturbation has many benefits.
Masturbation may lower a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer. A study by G. G. Giles and colleagues found that men who ejaculated five or more times a week, especially while under age 30, were less likely to develop the disease, perhaps by preventing the buildup of carcinogenic substances in the prostate gland. That’s right! Beat your way to a cancer-free prostate. Go ahead. You will not get hairy palms.
Other benefits of charming the snake include lower stress and lower blood pressure. People who drive the stick get to know their sexual selves better. Some people do it as a part of meditation; some use masturbation to help premature ejaculation. It’s fun and safe for couples and solo alike.
If masturbation is so good, then why are some people against it? First, in general, we live in a sex-negative society full of stigmas that go back centuries. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, bopping the baloney has generally been condemned as sinful, mostly due to the mandate to be fruitful and multiply. During the Victorian Age, masturbation was thought to lead to impaired morals, depression, social failure, blindness, insanity, early death, and other zingers.
Since masturbation was thought to be so horrible, many so-called cures were developed to stop its practice. Men of the time were encouraged to wear straitjacket pajamas, a suit of armor to cover the penis and testicles, and other devices. Some were encouraged to wear spermatorrhea rings. These rings fit along the base of the penis, with spikes on their inner linings to prevent erection. Some people had their foreskin stapled shut. Ouch! That hurts!
In the 19th century, John Kellogg invented cornflakes as one part of a diet that he felt would lessen the sex drive and diminish the practice of masturbation, which he called a crime. In the early 20th century, President William Taft thought that playing baseball would serve as a distraction from masturbation. Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders stated that since masturbation was safe and healthy, it should be mentioned in school health curricula. People misinterpreted her statements to say that she thought students should be taught how to masturbate. Due to public outcry, President Bill Clinton fired her in 1994.
It is still common for young boys to tease other boys about jerking off, but those that are teasing are doing it, as well. Myths about masturbation still circulate to this day, and as with other stigmas, probably always will. There are still some who feel shame about masturbation, even those that practice it.
Despite all the crazy stigmas and shame, people continue to keep that one hand clap going. Most doctors consider masturbation to be physically and mentally healthy. There are lots of ways to give yourself pleasure. Regardless of how you do it, it is fun, healthy, and a normal part of many people’s lives.
There are depictions of male masturbation in prehistoric rock paintings around the world. Many early people seem to have connected human sexuality with abundance in nature. A clay figurine of the 4th millennium B.C. from a temple site on the island of Malta depicts a woman masturbating: However, in the ancient world, depictions of male masturbation are far more common.
There are plenty of songs that talk about masturbation: Number one pop hits like “My Ding-a-Ling” by Chuck Berry and “You’re Making Me High,” by Toni Braxton. Top Ten hits like “I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls, “She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper, and more.
I personally know men who say that they do not masturbate—not due to shame, but because it does not do much for them. This is fine, as we all get pleasure from different sex acts, and if zapping the zebra does not do it for you, then fine. I also know men who do it every now and then, and others who do it every day. The same for the women I know. Just like sex itself, people vary on how much self-pleasure they need. Masturbation is only an issue if it becomes a distraction from other areas of your life, but that goes for anything. Masturbation is a pleasure, and as with eating, sex, drinking, and other pleasures, there are people who use it to unhealthy levels. Addiction is never about the thing you are addicted to. It is about underlying issues.
Break the Shame
We must break the shame of sex and masturbation. We must break the shame of human pleasure. The sooner we learn to enjoy ourselves and our sexuality, the better we will all be. Do you have shame about masturbation? If so, where did you get it from?
- ALEXA VERSUS SIRI
by Stephen Théberge
Alexa for the Amazon devices and Siri for Apple devices are very useful and powerful tools. They are very different from one another. I have both, and it is not my intent to say that one is better than the other, but rather to show how they are different. I will compare common tasks they both can perform and show how these applications differ.
A good comparison is with weather. I can ask Alexa for the weather. That’s all she gives. If you ask her the temperature, dew point, or relative humidity, she gives a basic weather forecast, but not specific details. Siri will break down these elements of the weather, even giving you the wind speed, but not the wind direction. Alexa gives no information but temperature and a very vague forecast.
Another difference is in how they give you baseball statistics. I can ask, “Where are the Red Sox in the standings?” and get two very different results. Alexa will tell me where my team is in the standings and give the wins and losses. Siri doesn’t generally give wins and losses, but will tell you where your team is. Siri can sometimes tell you that a team is in a losing or winning streak. Both of them can give you your team’s standings in the leagues, both National and American.
There is a big difference in how music is played on these applications. If you get Amazon Music for a low $3.99 monthly fee, Alexa can give you unlimited songs to put in a playlist. Siri can also play your music that you get from iTunes. A big difference is that you can actually store your songs on your iPhone or other Apple device. The Amazon products don’t store any music, so you are basically storing bookmarks to your favorite songs from Amazon.
Alexa is very good, in general, at playing songs that you can think of. She can even find some songs by knowing a few key lyrics. Siri can only play what you have in your library or on a device through the music app. They are both good with playlists and random music playback. You pay for individual songs or albums with Apple iTunes. You get to have an actual file.
When I got my new iPhone, I was in the habit of saying, “Alexa,…” and a command. Siri had no problem with me calling him Alexa. You can actually change Siri’s voice to a female voice if you want. Alexa’s voice is not changeable, but I find her much clearer than Siri. That is not to say that Siri has a bad voice. I rather enjoyed Alexa reading my e-book from Amazon. Siri can’t read those.
Siri is designed to work with the many apps on your device. Alexa actually is not a standalone program. You need a tablet or PC to control many of her behaviors. I also couldn’t find a way to remove songs from my music library. Siri is not powerful in that respect, either. You can’t tell Siri or Alexa to do many things, but you actually have to go somewhere else to do it. Alexa can change the volume via voice command, but Siri says it can’t do that for you, or for other tasks, will direct you to an app.
Both Alexa and Siri can read articles to you from Wikipedia. You just say, “Wikipedia xxx,” where xxx is a subject. Siri can Google things for you, but will not read it back. You have to do that yourself. Alexa can’t use Google at this time.
A really interesting difference between them is when it comes to moon phases, moon rise, and moon set. If you ask Alexa, “Is it a full moon?” she will tell you what phase the moon is in and the next full and new moons. Siri will only tell you what the current phase of the moon is. Siri can’t seem to tell you when the moon will be full, but will Google and give you much more information than you want. Siri can tell you the times of moon rise and set, but Alexa can’t.
I think Alexa is much more entertaining than Siri. Alexa can roll dice, flip coins, and draw a card. She can also play Jeopardy, not to mention the many games you can enable her with. Siri’s sense of humor and ability to play games are practically nonexistent. Alexa can tell you jokes and riddles.
It is also notable to say that Alexa and Siri have very different music styles. Amazon and Apple are competing for the artists they have. You can get different versions of songs on both. This is due to contracts and copyrights.
Alexa will give you many digits of pi, and even joke that she is out of breath. Siri will give you a half dozen digits or so, and refer you to the online sources for greater detail.
Alexa and Siri let you set unlimited alarms. Siri only lets you set one timer, but Alexa lets you have unlimited timers. Siri saves all your alarms so you can turn them on the next day, say for medicine schedules. When an alarm goes off on Alexa, you have to enter it again, but it all comes out the same in the end, because you have to remember to do it again.
There is really no fair comparison between Alexa and Siri. They operate very differently, and for different purposes. Siri is designed to make some things on iDevices controllable with speech. Alexa’s thrust is to be equipped with many skills, from games to controlling things in your home, like lights and other appliances. It doesn’t have to be a choice between the two. Of course, your wallet will dictate that. One would expect Siri on an expensive iPhone, along with its voiceover. Alexa is much more for entertainment, although you can also learn a lot of things there, too.
Details about my science fiction novel, The MetSche Message, are at:
Watch my YouTube channel:
by James R. Campbell
A recent tragedy in Manchester, England was visited on the world on May 22, 2017, when a homicidal bomber detonated a backpack IED as thousands of people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert. The blast left 22 dead and 59 injured, many of those in critical condition.
It was no surprise that ISIS claimed responsibility for the blast. After all, the concert was a soft target, a perfect place for such an event, according to the Islamic State philosophy. These people delight in causing as much death and misery as they can, so long as it advances their twisted agenda, as all of their activity suggests.
Ariana responded by making plans to appear in Manchester on June 4 in a concert aimed at benefiting the victims and their families, as well as to bring the people of Manchester together in solidarity. The obvious message was: We will not let ISIS defeat us; love will reign in the end. There are many who support the idea. From all indications, the concert was a major success. Several networks broadcast the concert to a worldwide audience. I have no doubt that this event will increase the popularity of those who performed on that day.
Ariana Grande is popular with a younger audience, especially teen and preteen girls. Her message is meant to inspire her fans to believe in themselves and reach their dreams. Her girl power message is antithetical to the Islamic State’s view that women, as lesser beings, should pleasure their husbands. In their eyes, women are fit for two things: slavery and death.
Speculation has arisen among some that Ariana may have been targeted personally because of ISIS’s twisted view of women, and the fact that her music and persona typify all that radical Islam stands against. One of my best friends posed a question to me while visiting last Sunday. “Should she go ahead with the concert? What if these people do the same thing again?”
To which I replied, “There is always that chance, given that she may have a target on her back.”
As I see it, the only way we can win is to defeat the ideology that fuels this mayhem. Moderate Muslims must spread through the community of believers and disavow the message of radicals. There are no virgins waiting in heaven to greet those who kill innocent people in the name of Allah. There is no reward for this kind of madness. Women are to be treated as equals, not concubines and serfs. That having been said, Ariana Grande and her fans have a part to play as well, by helping to denounce the negative message that groups like the Islamic State put up on YouTube and social media for the world to see. Only by cutting the ideology off at the root can we achieve ultimate victory.
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
- SOCIETY’S TRENDS
by Bob Branco
Seniors and Loneliness
(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
There are many elders out there who feel lonely. There could be several reasons for this. Perhaps they have no family living in the area, or family members may be too busy and are not as available to their loved ones as they’d like. For seniors in my city who are lonely, our local Council on Aging opened up a day program to keep them occupied. They are involved in a number of activities, such as games, knitting, and trivia. I run the trivia for them, so I know just how happy they are to get involved in something productive.
I recently read an article about a woman named Roxanne Cornell, in Minnesota, who decided to open up a community home for seniors who are lonely. Cornell, who acts as the coordinator of this home, used a theme similar to Golden Girls in order to provide living quarters for four elderly women. I commend her for her actions. She makes sure that these women are happy and productive, and that they get to share their lives with one another.
Aside from the obvious drawbacks to seniors who are lonely, I can’t help but wonder if there is an indirect connection between loneliness and Alzheimer’s disease. I am not a medical expert, but I know an elderly woman who used to be extremely active on a national level. After she lost her husband and her guide dog, she found herself confined to the home until she began to experience memory loss and frequent unawareness. She was eventually placed in a nursing home where she got progressively worse.
How do we prevent seniors from being lonely? I believe the answer lies with each individual situation. Some seniors have loved ones who are willing to provide care, while others need to hire outside assistance. In recent years, there has been a trend toward assisted living facilities for the elderly population.
These facilities offer help only if the elder needs it, and they also serve as a viable alternative to a nursing home. Let’s face it. Who really wants to go into a nursing home? As long as we have good doctors, day programs, assisted living facilities, professional caregivers, and loving families, our elders will have fewer problems and will continue to live a quality life for as long as they can.
About the Author:
Bob Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is a self-published author of four books. A fifth will come out this summer. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, and has written columns for local and international organizations.
Bob’s website is www.dldbooks.com/robertbranco/
Bob also blogs at www.brancoevents.com/category/recent-news
- SPECIAL NOTICES
- From DLD Books
We are happy to pass on several pieces of exciting news from our client Lynda McKinney Lambert, author of Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems (C 2017).
The news from Lynda:
– I’ll be a guest author at “Art on the Avenue,” Ellwood City Public Library, July 28, 6:00-9:00 PM. I will exhibit my mixed media fiber art and sign my new book. Address: 415 Lawrence Avenue, Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.
– On September 9, I will do a poetry reading and book signing at the Artwalk Festival in our county seat, New Castle, Pennsylvania. I’ll be a guest author at the festival and will be giving a workshop titled “The Poetry of Memory.”
– Beginning September 5, I will be teaching an 8-week course called “The Delightful Memoir Writing Workshop” at Hoyt Art Center, New Castle, Pennsylvania. Classes will be on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:00 PM.
– In October, I’ll be in Louisville, Kentucky to receive an award for my art in the international exhibition InSights 2017. I am a first-place winner for my mixed media-fiber art piece “The Dragon’s Healing Breastplate.” This exhibition is sponsored by the American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll attend the artist’s opening reception and the awards banquet that night. Over 500 artists entered this show.
– Also, I have one essay and two poems that will be published in the July issue of Kaleidoscope Literary Magazine in Akron, Ohio.
Note: My poetry just received a second-place award by the National Federation of the Blind Writers’ Division.
For more information about any of these items, write me at: email@example.com
My book-related website, with full details of my book:
http://www.dldbooks.com/lyndalambert/ Walking by Inner Vision is available in e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
My personal website: http://www.lyndalambert.com/
- Amazon Launches a Low-Cost Version of Prime for Customers on Government Assistance
On June 6, 2017, Amazon announced that it’s making its Prime membership program more affordable to customers on government assistance programs, including food stamps. The program, which requires that customers have a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to qualify, will bring the cost of Prime down from $10.99 per month to just about half that, at $5.99 per month.
The program will be available to any U.S. customer with a valid EBT card: the card that’s commonly used to disburse funds for a number of government assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC).
The card will only discount the cost of using Prime. It cannot be used to make purchases on Amazon.com, nor can it be used to pay for membership.
The discounted membership will have all the perks associated with Prime, including free streaming video and music, free photo storage, access to the Kindle lending library, ability to shop from Amazon’s Essentials (the retailer’s low-cost line of everyday products), access to Prime Now (where available), and more.
The move will make Amazon Prime more accessible to lower-income households and families, and it could help Amazon shake the reputation that shopping its site and paying for its membership program are luxuries instead of essential services.
- The American Foundation for the Blind is pleased to announce Learn Tech, a technology access initiative that features free online tutorials to help people who are blind or visually impaired learn how to improve their computer and technology skills. The tutorials can be accessed atwww.afb.org/learntech.
The newest tutorial offering for Learn Tech is a 10-part series on using Google Docs and Google Drive with NVDA. Google Docs is a free, web-based application in which documents can be created, edited, and stored online. Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service that allows users to store files in the cloud and share files with people who are working on the same project. NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) is a free screen reader for people who are blind or visually impaired.
When these tools are used together, computer users who are blind or visually impaired are able to use the computer for work or school without any additional, expensive software. These tools also allow for easy project collaboration with others at school or in the workplace, leveling the playing field.
Also available from Learn Tech are the previously released Learn NVDA free video tutorials that describe how to use the NVDA free and fully featured screen reader.
Additional tutorials will be added to Learn Tech over time. To learn more, or to share information with people who may be interested in using the tutorials, go to www.afb.org/learntech . Users are encouraged to provide feedback on the tutorials and other training topics of interest in the feedback links.
Learn Tech tutorials were made possible with support from the Lions Club International Foundation, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, and the Consumer Technology Association Foundation. AFB is pleased to partner with these organizations to support technology literacy. Together, we are working to create a more accessible, inclusive world for people with vision loss.
- New Resource Handbooks Available Covering Various Services for Blind Consumers by State
Christine Chaikin of Insightful Publications has created 18 screen reader-friendly handbooks containing resources pertaining to the blind and visually impaired, for use by consumers and professionals.
State handbooks are available for: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Texas.
Each state’s handbook is for the residents of that state and includes the many organizations for the blind and visually impaired, covering areas such as employment, housing, transportation, and more. The books include contact information on the local, regional, and national levels.
For more information, contact Insightful Publications via e-mail at:
- In Perspective
Tune in to the Radio Reading Service of the Massachusetts Talking Information Center every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 to 5:00 Eastern Time, and on C Joy Internet Radio every Tuesday morning from 7:30 to 8:00 Eastern Time for our new program, In Perspective, with Bob Branco and Al Hensel. In Perspective brings you thoughtful and insightful discussion on subjects ranging from sports and politics to science and technology, along with all subjects in between. Our goal is to provide thought-provoking discussion with each and every show. Check us out. You may come away with a whole new perspective.
- Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile, by David L. Faucheux
(Published early June, 2017)
What the book is about:
Friends and family. Restaurants and recipes. Hobbies and history. TV programs the author loved when he could still see and music he enjoys. The schools he attended and the two degrees he attained. The career that eluded him and the physical problems that challenge him. And books, books, books: over 230 of them quoted from or reviewed. All in all, an astonishing work of erudition and remembrance.
Full details: http://www.dldbooks.com/davidfaucheux/
This 510-page book is now available in e-book ($4.99) and print ($19.95) from Amazon and numerous other online sellers, and is text-to-speech enabled. It was edited and produced by Leonore and David Dvorkin, of DLD Books. The beautiful cover, handy buying links, and the author’s bio are all on the website that is linked to above.
On June 5, 2017, David Faucheux was the guest on Branco Broadcast, a weekly telephone conference hosted by Robert Branco, the publisher of The Consumer Vision. Here is the link to the June 5 program, which had a record number of attendees. At David Faucheux’s request, Leonore Dvorkin also spoke about the editing and publishing process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsjUBTDH4oA&feature=youtu.be
- Upwelling: Poems, by Ann Chiappetta (C 2016)
Smashwords promotion, July 2017
Regular price of the e-book: $2.99 / In July only: $1.50 (50% off)
Link to the book on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/665488
Guide dogs, death, and a disturbing dream. Marriage, memories, and intriguing mysteries. Eroticism, abortion, and a wonderfully poetic essay. In this collection of 23 of her short, highly accessible poems from several decades, Ann Chiappetta explores an enormous range of emotions and topics. Travel with her as she moves from illness, death, loss, and grief to renewed hope, security, and serenity.
Ann Chiappetta’s website:
The book is also for sale from Amazon and other online retailers in e-book and print. All available buying links are on her website.
- WEATHER OR NOT
1,000-Year Flood Events
by Steve Roberts
We have seen many 1,000-Year Floods in the U.S. Could New England be next?
Contrary to popular belief, a 1,000-year rainfall event or flood isn’t something that happens once every 1,000 years. A 1,000-year flood is a flood that has a one in 1,000 chance of occurring in any given year. Nonetheless, these massive rain storms are still very rare.
According to the Weather Channel, there have been nine one-in-1,000-year floods since 2010. These events have occurred in such places as Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Maryland, and West Virginia. Could New England be the next to get drenched? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. So how would a one-in-1,000-year rainfall event unfold up in New England?
New England has two separate flood seasons that occur each year. The first flood season runs from March to May. This is what I call the Nor’easter Snow Melt Flood Season. The second flood season runs from August to October. This is what I call the Tropical Cyclone Flood Season. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the latter season.
There are two ways in which a 1,000-year flood could unfold over New England. First, a tropical remnant sits on top of New England and gets captured by an area of upper-level low pressure, resulting in very heavy rainfall. Second, a front stalls out, causing a channel of deep tropical moisture to come up out of the tropics along the eastern side of the frontal boundary, drenching New England in the process. Let’s look at each of these circumstances in greater depth.
The vast majority of tropical systems that move up the East Coast scream through New England. However, there are times when a tropical system gets stuck, parking itself over the Northeast. In 1971, Hurricane Agnes stalled for four days, dumping one to two feet of rain in the process.
Should a tropical remnant stall over New England while being captured by upper-level low pressure, the resulting torrent would be truly incredible. This is because a tropical remnant still has warm core characteristics, while the upper-level low is cold by its very nature.
As the warm, moist air rises from the surface of the earth, it will encounter the very cold air that is in association with the upper-level low. The upper-level low pressure area will cause the air to rise vigorously from the surface. The convergence of the tropical system and the upper-level low will result in a process called a large scale ascent. A large scale ascent occurs when air rises from the surface over a vast area, resulting in widespread downpours.
When warm, moist air ascends into cold air, it’s called baroclinic (temperature contrast) instability. As all of this warm, humid air rises into the cold pocket of air aloft, lots of condensation results in the release of latent heat. The release of latent heat into the atmosphere causes tremendous amounts of lift of the already ascending air.
The upper-level low serves two functions in the evolution of this great flood. First, its cold confines cause the condensation of great quantities of water vapor that will fall as extremely heavy rain. Second, the very low pressure of the upper-level system will cause the air to ascend vigorously from the surface of the earth.
Should a tropical cyclone or its remnants stall over the six-state area under these circumstances, we would be faced with an unrelenting downpour that could last for as long as three or four days. Under the right circumstances, this setup could drop as many as 20 to 30 inches of rain in parts of New England. Those areas that receive 10 to 30 inches of rain would be mountainous areas that cause the air to ascend through upsloping conditions.
Generally speaking, the fronts that travel across the United States will blow off the East Coast of the United States. These fronts will produce a shower or thunderstorm as they pass. This is because frontal boundaries are lifting mechanisms. Bear that in mind as we proceed.
If a front stalls off the East Coast as it makes its way out into the Atlantic Ocean, it still has New England to pass through, because New England juts out to the east of the rest of the East Coast. As the front stalls, warm, moist air comes up along the eastern side of the stationary boundary around the back side of a Bermuda High, which by its very nature will send warm, moist air up the East Coast. The channel of warm, moist air will be focused into showers and thunderstorms by the front. Eventually, a conduit of deep tropical moisture will extend from the northernmost sections of New England all the way down to the deep tropics. This setup could last for days, dumping one to two feet of rain in the process. In a setup such as the one just described, we would see moderately heavy rain that was frequently punctuated by torrentially heavy downpours. Meteorologists refer to setups such as this atmospheric river as a fire hose. With a fire hose trained on New England for several days, you could be drenched by many feet of rain.
A 1,000-year rainfall event has yet to occur in New England, but that day is coming. Do not count on 1,000 years to elapse between the next 1,000-year rainfall event and the one to follow. Climate change could bring us a string of 1,000-year rainfall events in the next several decades.
- THE HANDLER’S CORNER
Living and Working with Guide Dogs
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
Hello, readers. Summer greetings. This time I am sharing a few short essays on vacationing with my family and my first guide dog, Verona. I hope you enjoy them.
Greenwood Lake, New York
We pulled into the parking lot and she knew it. Are we at the free place? she seemed to say. “I love this place.
We unloaded the truck, weaved through the other guests on the strip of patio on the way to our room, and settled in for a fun, relaxing afternoon.
Verona and my daughter, April, played in the lake for an hour; Verona chased sticks and paddled around. The funniest thing was the way she blew water from her mouth after dropping the stick. April said it made her lips puff out, and a loud, spitting sound followed. I heard it from the patio.
When the geese and ducks realized she was visiting, they hot footed it off the grass and stayed in the lake or in the weeds near the dock. It was a thrill to see her body stiffen and her head and tail go up when she saw them. It made me feel proud to share this time together, giving her back to her instincts for just a little while. She’s going to be five years old, I thought. The time went by so fast. Each and every year we have together is a blessing, a time for me to feel unfettered.
As we stood and watched the birds quack and waddle down the hill toward the edge of the lake, I tried to think back on the way life was before guide dog training with Verona. My mind veers from those dark moments and I let them go.
We are here, being warmed by the late afternoon sun, joined by the fresh water aromas. We are dog and woman, partners for however long time and fate permit. The sun turned rosy as we stood there, listening and watching a late summer sunset. I stroked her glossy head with a hand. She poked me on the thigh with her nose before returning to duck watching.
Verona by the Sea
Santa Cruz, California, March 2012
We navigate the way down a rocky path to the sand. The air is full of beach smells. The sounds of surf and gulls echo off the cliffs as we walk closer to the waterline. Following my sister’s action, I release Verona, and she lopes off, her nose to the ground. My friend tells me what she is doing and how far she goes. I call her back a few times as we find a spot near the cliffs to sit and watch the dogs play. Music, my sister’s Golden Retriever, chases Verona into the water. As she turns back to chase him, a wave crashes down, and for a moment she is engulfed. The wave spits her out onto the beach and she runs to me, weaves in between my legs, and soaks my pants. I look like incontinence has gotten the best of me. Verona seems to say, in her best doggie language, Hey, Mom, what happened? From then on, she doesn’t go near the waves and prefers a safer splash in the wet sand and tidal pools instead.
It’s important to me that Verona has the opportunity to be a dog. So much responsibility is put upon her when the harness is placed upon her back, it seems that this is the right way to let her know how much she has changed my life. As she digs a hole in the sand and flops down to dry off, my heart is content, because she is doing just what she’s supposed to be doing: living a dog’s life.
Verona at Pier 39
San Francisco, California 2012
An hour after we leave San Jose, we reach San Francisco. The drive through midmorning traffic isn’t as bad as we thought it would be, and we soon find a parking garage near the wharf close by Pier 39. Verona’s snorting tells me she’s excited by the new smells and she’s ready to go. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Soon we’re out of the garage and walking the sidewalk and waiting to cross the street.
As we stroll along the promenade toward the Pier, Verona feels as if she’s doing a little dance, and I feel her head turning left and right. A few times we weave a bit, and I have to check her so she stops. It takes me a minute, but I finally understand what is making her dance around. Pigeons. Hordes of them walking underfoot, across our path, flying up practically under her nose. I’m surprised one hasn’t landed on her back. Myla laughs, saying, “She’s trying really hard to ignore them, but they’re teasing her.”
Thankfully the winged rats are less plentiful in the Pier itself, and we spend the time shopping.
Coming to San Francisco with Verona is one of the best parts of traveling with a guide dog. At no time did I feel unsafe, even on the steep wooden stairs leading to the stores on the second level of the Pier. Next year, we’re going to Golden Gate Park and Alcatraz. //
Ann Chiappetta is a writer and poet who lives in New York. Go here to read an excerpt from her poetry collection, Upwelling: http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ .
To read her blog, which has a wide variety of writing topics, go to: www.thought-wheel.com .
Ann’s second book, a memoir, will be available this coming holiday season.
- TURNING POINT
A Turning Point for Mary Ellen Copeland
by Terri Winaught
“You’re delusional! You can’t write a book; you have a mental illness!” That was the response of Mary Ellen Copeland’s psychiatrist when his client told him that she was writing a book.
Did Mary Ellen give in to her doctor’s preconceived notions, or did she experience a turning point, resulting in accomplishments that proved him wrong? The multifaceted answer to those questions is the focus of this month’s column.
During eight years of Mary Ellen’s childhood, her mother was hospitalized in a state facility, with a diagnosis of severe and incurable manic depression. (What was once called “manic depression” is now referred to as bipolar disorder.)
In time—though her biography in Wikipedia does not state when—Mary Ellen was also hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, for which she was prescribed lithium. The younger Copeland also struggled with physical challenges, including fibromyalgia.
During her treatment, Miss Copeland began documenting what she was like when well, and what helped her stay that way. Additionally, Mary Ellen also recruited 125 volunteers whom she interviewed about what helped them maintain wellness. It was after conducting research that Mary Ellen confided to her doctor that she was writing a book, only to be scorned as “delusional.”
Being told she was delusional didn’t deter Mary Ellen, however, her research having been formulated in the evidence-based practice known worldwide as WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). (A practice is considered “evidence-based” when research on its effectiveness has been replicated with positive outcomes.)
Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D. and mental health author, educator, advocate, and mental illness survivor, opened the Copeland Center in 2005. The purpose of this Vermont-based business is to educate mental health consumers and providers on the effectiveness of WRAP as a self-help tool.
Since 2005, Copeland has used her publishing company, Peachtree Press, to write and distribute numerous books and papers. Copeland’s books, produced in print and on CD, include but are not limited to The Story of WRAP, A Depression Workbook for Kids, WRAP for Youth, WRAP for Veterans and Persons in the Military, A Loneliness Workbook, and WRAP for Dealing with Trauma.
Recognition that Copeland has received includes the John Beard Award for contributions to the field of psychosocial rehabilitation, presented in 2006 by the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA), and a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented in 2006 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Now just who was delusional?
Note: The material for this article was taken from Wikipedia, a Google search, and notes from peer support classes I have taken and now co-teach.
- TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
May you have a celebratory 4th of July! This year, I will be celebrating it with my mom and dad. They are coming to visit for the first time in over a year. I’ve never had them here for the 4th of July, since that is when they have typically visited my sister. Things are different this year, and change is always happening.
Yes, I’ve had some changes in my life. I’m sure that is true for you, too. My son, Eric, graduated from high school. Not only did I join Weight Watchers in May, but I’ve made the graduation party circuit. I’ve not been making it to every graduation party, but a few of them. Losing my weight has been tough, because I indulge at these special events. I couldn’t have joined Weight Watchers at a better time. Besides all of the other health issues I have been plagued with, I got a diabetes diagnosis. The shock of my life!
I was a very thin person, weighing just 84 lbs., for most of my life. I could eat anything and everything I wanted. I never got heavier until my fourth pregnancy. After the severe postpartum depression, I continued to eat the same way, since I needed to nurse two children at one time. The pattern continued after I was done nursing. Now, due to stress, depression, anxiety, and poor choices, I have gained almost that same amount. Hence, I found a friend doing Weight Watchers and I decided to join in with her. I always feel less alone when I have a friend doing things with me.
After reading Anticancer: A New Way of Life, by David Servan-Schreiber; Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, by Caroline Myss; How Not to Die, by Michael Greger, MD; and Don’t Let the Doctor Kill You, by Dr. Erika Schwartz, I am proactive and determined to make positive changes concerning my health.
One of the steps I have taken is a visit to a podiatrist.
Yesterday, I completed my fifth EST (Electrical Signal Therapy) treatment on my lower legs and feet. Dr. Joseph tested my nerves.
He said there has been a 35 to 40 percent improvement in my pain level. Although it’s 15 minutes of tingling and feeling weird on your legs and feet, it really does help to regenerate and massage my nerves. I feel glad he offered this treatment to me. I also complained about muscle cramping in my left calf and foot. He recommends I try 400 IU of Vitamin E daily for the next two weeks and see if that helps. Before these treatments, I felt my muscles were being eaten up by little critters. Now the muscles on the bottoms of my feet just feel extremely sore. I feel thankful for these EST treatments and feel ecstatic that I go to a doctor who offers it. I will also be receiving diabetic tennis shoes, which will help me tremendously.
Besides providing me with the EST treatments and the shoes, Dr. Joseph spoke to me about my pancreas and how it can only process 4 grams of sugar an hour, which is 1 teaspoon of sugar. He told me that a glass of orange juice is all it can handle in a day, and a milkshake takes two days to process. He told me that because of my excessive sugar intake, my nerves are suffering the consequences. He urged me to severely limit my sugar intake. That being said, when I was suffering an incredible migraine yesterday, I drank a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and it made my headache completely disappear. I am heeding his advice, though, and doing the very best I can.
One of the reasons our health deteriorates is because we don’t know what to do when we’re frustrated and angry. For years, I’ve kept it inside me. Just recently, I discovered that washing dishes is a great activity that calms me. It gets my dishes cleaned, too. I also love to take time to delete files or soak in a hot bath when I’m angry. I asked a friend of mine what she does to help her calm down when she is angry, and she says she cleans her walls. I plan to discover more therapeutic ways of dealing with my anger in a healthy manner, and I wish the best for you, too. Keeping anger, fear, sadness, and frustration inside only manifests in an unhealthy physical body and spirit, leading to an unhealthy emotional life.
Getting myself healthy has been and is a long journey. There are times I wish getting well would happen overnight. I remind myself that I took a long time to become unhealthy, with a childhood filled with daily consumption of soda pop and an adulthood of lots of sugary snacks and junk food. I’ve made poor choices in relationships and allowed unhealthy thoughts to roam and take over my spirit. If you would like to join me in this journey towards better health, let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s so much easier with friends! It helps when you feel less alone.
- RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
July arrives with carefree summer days. With hot weather across New England, people go on vacation and to beaches, lakes, and pools. At busy roadside and concession stands, customers wait for ice cream, fried clams, onion rings, lobster rolls, or hamburgers. Corn and raspberries bloom, as do impatiens, chives, and marigolds across New England. Independence Day band concerts, fairs, and fireworks are everywhere across the U.S. The Boston Esplanade is famous for its outstanding Independence Day concert and fireworks display.
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Open-Faced Crabmeat Salad Sandwiches
- Hot Dogs with Mustard and Maple Syrup
- Summer Holiday Ice Cream Cones
- Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms are served at restaurants and even served at our alumni association banquet. Everyone loves my version.
16 Ritz crackers
Two tiny onions
Dashes of curry and garlic powder
4-5 tablespoons butter (not margarine)
- In a small mixing bowl, place Ritz crackers, mushroom stems, minced onions, spices, and butter.
- In a three-quart casserole dish, place the 12 rinsed mushroom caps.
- With clean hands, crush the Ritz crackers and blend them with other ingredients. Make sure there are no crumbs in the bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff each mushroom cap with Ritz cracker stuffing.
- Bake stuffed mushrooms on lowest rack of oven for 25 minutes.
- With a large spoon, serve hot mushrooms in bowls.
Stuffed mushrooms go well with tossed salad, seafood, and open-faced crabmeat sandwiches (see below) on hot summer evenings. This amount serves two, but if you have more guests, double the recipe, baking them in a 9”x13” pan. These will disappear fast, and guests will want your recipe.
- Open-Faced Crabmeat Salad Sandwiches
On a hot Sunday night, June 18, 2017, my guest and I decided we would serve my crabmeat salad on English muffins with cheese. This made a wonderful accompaniment to my stuffed mushrooms. You can use real or imitation crabmeat. Imitation crabmeat is often sold as “seafood salad” at deli counters at some supermarkets.
Eight ounces imitation crabmeat
Four heaping spoonfuls mayonnaise
Two tiny onions
Two spoonfuls sweet relish
Dashes of curry powder and garlic powder
Two English muffins
Two tablespoons whipped butter
Two slices deli or deluxe American cheese, optional
- Rinse crabmeat and empty it from container into a small mixing bowl. With clean hands, break it up.
- Add other ingredients and blend salad with a fork.
- Refrigerate salad for ten minutes while preparing English muffins.
- Spread butter on English muffins if preparing them in a toaster oven. If you are toasting them in a toaster, spread butter on them immediately after removing the muffins.
- Toast English muffins in toaster oven for three to four minutes.
- Put each muffin on a separate plate. Put two heaping spoonfuls of salad on each half of each muffin.
- If using cheese, top salad with one-half slice of cheese on each muffin half.
- Microwave each sandwich for seven seconds, partially melting the cheese.
Serve these delicious sandwiches with tossed salad or alongside stuffed mushrooms on a warm summer evening.
Note: If you are using canned crabmeat, use two cans and omit the relish. Refrigerate leftover salad and use within three days.
- Hot Dogs with Mustard and Maple Syrup
My late husband, Marshal, gave me this idea; we liked this as a late night snack. He loved to grill the hot dogs in a skillet with butter along with the rolls. I was the one who decided to combine mustard and maple syrup on my hot dogs. They are an easy meal on a warm summer night.
Two to four hot dogs
Two to four hot dog rolls
Three to four tablespoons butter
Real maple syrup
- Melt butter in a 10-12 inch skillet for five minutes before adding the hot dogs. (They can be frozen when adding them.)
- Poke them with a fork so they will cook evenly. Turn them occasionally in pan.
- Cook hot dogs on low to medium heat for 10 minutes before adding rolls.
- Add rolls and grill them on each side for three minutes.
- With a fork, place rolls on plates and place a hot dog in each roll. Add mustard and optional maple syrup. Relish is a good choice for hot dogs instead of maple syrup.
They are good as a light supper with salad.
- Summer Holiday Ice Cream Cones
Why buy prepared cones when you can make them yourself? I began doing this on some 4th of July or Labor Day barbecues. It made a lovely ending to a perfect barbecue. My grandkids, their parents, and guests stood in line waiting for them. I often received sighted help to assemble them. I used sugar cones.
10 to 12 sugar or waffle ice cream cones
Any flavors of ice cream. I usually used chocolate and vanilla.
Optional sprinkles for the cones.
- Line up cones in large Dixie cups on a kitchen counter.
- With metal ice cream scoop or spoon, fill each cone with one or two generous scoops of ice cream.
- Serve cones in cups with plenty of napkins.
It is advisable to use sighted help in assembling cones. Kids and adults will be smiling and looking forward to an “ice cream cone you made yourself.”
Note: if you get 24 sugar cones, use them soon or they will become stale.
I hope all Consumer Vision readers enjoy this summer column. Have a great vacation or getaway. Let us keep praying for our country’s safety, civility, and peace.
- ROUX AND REMEMBRANCE
by David L. Faucheux
(The numbers in the text refer to explanatory footnotes that follow this nostalgic excerpt from the author’s new book, Across Two Novembers.)
“Brush your hair; they are messy.” (1) My maternal grandmother did not want any grandson of hers appearing in public looking unkempt. She had standards. Hair was always brushed before running errands in town or going to mail. That’s what she called going to the local post office for the daily mail—“going to mail.” When I asked her if there was anything in the mail, she knew what I meant. I wanted to know if I had any pale green plastic boxes from the library in Baton Rouge; I used a library that mailed out uniquely formatted 4–track, slow–speed cassette books to blind patrons. It made the summers pass for a bored teenager in the country.
My grandmother could have made her living by her skill in ironing, producing the crispest Madras shirts and best knife–edged blue jeans I ever wore. One person thought I had my clothes professionally pressed. She had grown up using heavy irons that had to be heated on the stove. She said that the men of that era wore white suits. Washing them on a washboard was arduous enough, but then they had to be ironed. It was easy to get soot on a suit being ironed. If it happened, the suit would be washed and ironed again!
Food was a big part of my memories. I loved her creamy white beans. She was very particular about freshness. She knew the new crop of beans came out in September. “Old beans from last year cook up yellow,” she often said, and waited for the new crop. She boiled them twice and tossed out the water; vitamin–rich cooking water be damned. Then she used a pressure cooker to produce this creamy effect. Late summer was corn soup time. She’d buy a bushel of corn from a local farmer. I can still recall her sitting and energetically brushing off the corn silk, then using a knife to cut the kernels off the corn cobs. That always intrigued me, but she never let me try! Likewise for the okra. She held each okra spear and sliced it into thin coins. I used to like looking at the openwork pattern inside each slice. The okra was then smothered for us to enjoy. Additional okra was cooked and frozen to be used in shrimp okra gumbo (think a thick roux–based soup) (2) during Lent, as she never ate meat on any Wednesday or Friday during this season. Even now, I would never eat meat on Good Friday, lest her ghost come back to haunt me!
I remember her weekly Pokeno games. (3) When we appeared briefly at the start of ceremonies to say hello, the ladies loved to switch to Cajun French. We knew they were talking about us or gossiping about matters that little ears were not supposed to understand. I regret never learning the patois or dialect native to my culture, but all my grandparents told of being punished for speaking it at schools during the 1920s and 1930s. It was not a time of multiculturalism or inclusion. In some ways, my grandparents sound like recent immigrants to the United States, although many of our ancestors had arrived here in the mid–18th century.
My grandmother lived until 2006 and was the last of my grandparents. As long as she lived, I felt safe, protected from my mortality by a buttress of two generations. I knew she’d make 90; she did not. Whenever I smell lemon spray starch or the rich brown aroma of roux, I think of her. //
(1) In French, the word hair, or les cheveux, is plural. Sometimes traces of French lingered in my grandmother’s English or that of other elderly family members.
(2) In Cajun cooking, roux is a dark brown concoction made of flour and oil that provides a rich flavor base for stews and gumbos. It’s made blond for crawfish étouffée.
(3) For a description of Pokeno, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokeno_game.
David L. Faucheux is the author of the new memoir Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile (C 2017). This is an excerpt from that book, which is a one-year journal and much more. Cover photo, synopsis, reviews, author bio, and buying links are to be found here: http://www.dldbooks.com/davidfaucheux/ .
- AVOIDING A CATASTROPHE
by John Justice
I was completing the tuning on a nice Wurlitzer console. This was my last piano for the day. Gimbel’s was getting rowdy now that the children were out of school. The piano itself was one of the company’s best models. It had a well-made cabinet and a really beautiful cherry finish. I slid the fallboard back into place and flipped the catches down. After closing the lid, I decided to try this little beauty out. My case fit nicely under the instrument, and I began to play. My first selection was a Gershwin tune called “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Even with the racket coming from the toy department, the sound was exceptional. I grinned and moved right into “The Man I Love.” That tune, if played well, can touch you deep inside. I could feel the tension leaving my body, and I smiled.
It was then that the lady spoke to me. “That was wonderful! Do you know a tune called ‘Stardust’?”
I went right into that old standard. Personally, I like the version recorded by Bunny Berigan, but my lead with octaves sounded nice.
She pulled out another bench and sat down. After a moment, she shared her thoughts. “That color matches the furniture in my parlor. Would it sound as good in a small room with carpet?”
I smiled. “It would probably sound better. Your home doesn’t have twenty−foot ceilings or fifteen children creating as much noise as they can.”
She laughed. “Do you always bring your dog with you when you tune in someone’s home?”
“No, not at all. There are people who have allergies or who are afraid of dogs, even one as calm and collected as Star. There’s even a religious retreat house here in Manhattan where the visitor removes his shoes. Naturally, dogs aren’t allowed there. As long as I have advance notice, I can come out without my guide dog.” I stopped there, Heaven only knows why.
The lady thanked me and then walked away. I played a ragtime number, and then Star and I headed for home.
About a week later, Harry, the service dispatcher, called me at home. “Jack, I need a favor from you. There’s a lady who lives way out in Brooklyn who just purchased a console from Gimbel’s. For some reason, she has asked for you as the tuner. But here’s where it gets strange. She says she’ll meet you at the subway station, give you lunch, and take you back when the work is done, but you can’t bring your dog. How in the devil do you come up with these strange things, Jack?”
I thought about it for a moment. “I think I know the lady you’re talking about. She really liked that cherry finish. Okay, Harry. I’ll leave Star home for the day. Now, I have a favor to ask of you. Can we schedule that appointment before lunch? Then, when I get back into Manhattan, can you give me something local to fill out my day? I’ll travel with a cane, but it isn’t my first choice, by any means.”
Harry agreed. He arranged to have me tune some of the pianos on the showroom floor.
Everything went well. I took the bus to the Port Authority terminal and made my way down to where I could get the train heading south toward Brooklyn. I asked the man at the cash booth how many stations there were between here and my destination. Fortunately, I didn’t lose count and got off at the right place. I shouldn’t have worried. As soon as I came off the train, she was there. We climbed the stairs and found her car.
She brought me into the house and showed me the piano. Houses all have their own special aromas. This one smelled really odd.
I was working on the treble strings when I heard the floor creak. At first, I thought that the lady was watching me, but I didn’t hear breathing. Then something touched my pants. I reached out and felt a nose and very long whiskers. There was an erect ear, but everything was too big. If this was a cat, it had to be the biggest one I had ever touched. But the fur was wrong. It was too thick and heavy. The beast put its head on my knee and let out a big sigh. To tell you the truth, I was a little frightened.
Then the lady came in. “Beau! You know you’re not supposed to be in here! Come on now! Leave the man alone, and let him do his work.”
Beau lifted his head, turned around, and headed out of the room. I could feel the floor give slightly with the weight of the critter.
Finally, the lady came back. “He’s out in the yard now. I’m sorry about that. Now you know why I asked you not to bring your dog. Beau, or Beauregard, is an ocelot. My husband was the head of an organization responsible for protecting certain animal species. Beau was his personal companion. The ocelot is a midsized member of the family that includes cheetahs, jaguars, and so on. The species was almost extinct until organizations like that one got involved. They used to be quite common in places like Brazil and parts of Chile. Now, there are only about 200 left in the world. My husband died of a heart condition about a year ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to decide what to do with Beau. He probably smelled your dog, and that’s what drew him in. He won’t hurt you. But I had no idea of how he might react to a dog.”
We had lunch and the lady drove me to the subway. When I got home, Star’s nose gave me the same onceover that big cat had done.
John and Linda Justice
with guide dogs Edwin and Calypso
Personal e-mail: email@example.com
- CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the June 2017 Consumer Vision. In music, the 88 refers to the piano. Congratulations to the following winners:
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Alan Dicey of Plantation, Florida
Brian Sackrider of Port Huron, Michigan
Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona
Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts
Pat Bunce of Cedar Grove, New Jersey
Terri Winaught of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Lauren Casey of Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Stephen Théberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts
And now, here is your trivia question for this month’s Consumer Vision. What famous American invented the glass harmonica (also spelled armonica)? This instrument, with its ethereal sound, is not to be confused with the smaller and much more common harmonica, also called the mouth organ, which is blown into. If you know the answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-994-4972.
- CONCLUDING NOTE FROM THE PROOFREADER
by Leonore Dvorkin
While Consumer Vision has a limit of 1,000 words for its articles, we will consider accepting longer pieces that are broken up into two or three installments of 1,000 words or fewer. The 1,000-word limit per article per issue is to ensure that no single author dominates any one issue. Thanks to all our authors who are adhering so well to the 1,000-word limit. You are helping to ensure that every issue provides plenty of variety.