Archive for April, 2012

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Outstanding Visionaries to Receive Awards

Each year, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) recognizes corporations, individuals and organizations whose contributions to accessibility for the blind and vision impaired have been significant.

On March 28, 2012, the AFB announced that this year’s recipients are: Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D., Leader Dogs, Major League Baseball, and NV Access.

Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D., founded Camp Abilities, a nonprofit which focuses on physical fitness and adaptive sports for youth with vision impairments and deaf blindness. To date, Doctor Lieberman has 14 camps in the United States and four internationally, with all facilities offering paralympics training, nutrition information, and varied recreational activities. Through Camp Abilities, Lauren Lieberman, also a well-known author and professor, has helped over 1,800 children and provided fitness instruction to over 3,000 future teachers.

In order to take advantage of any opportunity, though, one must first have the mobility with which to go places, and that’s where Leader Dogs comes in. Leader Dogs, in Rochester, Michigan, has provided guide dog training since 1939. In addition to matching dogs with eager owners, Leader also now offers an accelerated mobility and orientation training program for instructors. This free, one-week program was designed to meet the needs of regions of the U.S. where there is an overwhelming shortage of qualified O & M professionals. Through these programs, Leader demonstrates its commitment to safe, independent travel by persons who are blind or deaf blind. Leader is the only school in North America to train deaf blind guide dog users.

Just as fitness and mobility are important, so, too, is entertainment, which can be more fully enjoyed when it is also accessible.

Major League Baseball stepped up to the plate by making live streaming game day broadcasts, rosters, schedules, and stats accessible to computer users who are blind. That information is also available on iPhones and touch iPods through Bat 11, an App. on

Within the past year, MLB further supported accessibility by donating $1 million to a lab and learning center in Arizona which provides sophisticated vision technologies to over 1,000 children.

To say more about access technology, it often comes with a price few can afford. Based on the ideal that vision friendly technology can be affordable, NV Access, an Australian nonprofit, developed NVDA–a free, open source screen reader. By using a USB drive and without the need for installation, NVDA makes information on a desktop computer accessible by displaying it in Braille or reading it with synthetic speech. Additionally, NVDA is compatible with Microsoft Word, and available in 20 languages.

This year’s winners will receive their awards at AFB’S Leadership Conference to be held May 3rd and 4th, in Saint Pete’s Beach, Florida.

I’d love to hear in the Reader’s Forum who you think would be good nominees for the 2013 Access Award, especially persons who are blind, vision impaired, or with any other disability.

Sources:,, and, with the Perkins School for the Blind having a Camp Abilities.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Think a Blind Man Can’t Be a Fashion Designer? Think Again

A few weeks ago I brought you the story of Joe Engressia, a man who inspired children despite having a terrible childhood. This week I came across a story that is just as inspiring. Mason Ewing, who has been blind since the age of 15 is already a successful fashion designer in Paris, and now wants to take his talent to TV and film.

Mason was born in Cameroon to a Cameroonian mother and an American father. When he was still young, they moved to France where his life quickly turned for the worse. After losing his mother at the age of 4, he was sent to live with relatives. Sadly his Aunt and Uncle were extremely abusive, and after being repeatedly bashed in the head, he suffered a seizure that left him blind. While in college, he decided to study physical therapy, but he chose to change his focus to fashion because his mother was a fashion designer.

His designs range from braille lettered t-shirts to elegant evening gowns. He sometimes has a hard time describing what he’s seeing in his mind, but he’s found that his blindness has helped him to create beautiful and tactile creations that incorporate many different types of fabric. In 2006, he had his first fashion show, and since then he’s created a series of t-shirts that feature baby Madison. Baby Madison is a multi-ethnic child with dark skin, blue eyes, and blond hair who represents love and tolerance. In braille, each shirt describes the color of the shirt and the image of Madison. Mason is now working on a TV series that will feature baby Madison.

To learn more about Mason Ewing’s story visit this link:,0,2189139.story

To keep track of Mason and his projects, visit his Facebook page:

Feature Writer John Christie – The History of the United States Blind Golfers Association

Blind Golf was started by a man named Clint Russell. He lost his sight in 1924 when a tire exploded in his face. He then started playing golf in 1925. A few years later, the Duluth, Minnesota native was shooting an 84 for 18 holes–a very impressive round for any golfer.

In 1932, a magazine called Robert Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” ran a story about Clint being the only blind golfer. Six years later, the magazine said that a blind golfer in England named Dr. Beach Oxenham was the only blind golfer. Clint’s friends got the magazine to sponsor a tournament between the two golfers in 1938 at the Ridgeview Country Club in Duluth. In the tournament, Russell defeated Oxenham, 5 and 4.

Due to the exposure from the magazine article and the tournament, Russell heard from other golfers who had lost their eyesight and eventually a second tournament was held between Clint Russell and a man from Fort Worth, Texas named Marvin Shannon. There were supposed to be three matches played, but only two occurred because of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Toward the close of the war, Clint spoke with many people in the Veterans Administration and he truly thought that golf could be a form of therapy for them. The Veterans Administration agreed and they still offer golf as therapy for any totally blind veteran or for one who is visually impaired.

As the popularity of blind golf grew and more people joined the organization, Bob Allman,a blind lawyer and golfer, formed the United States Blind Golfers Association in 1953 and served as its first president.

Today there are several regional USBGA tournaments. They also have a tournament which raises money for Guiding Eyes. This particular fundraiser has been taken place since 1978 and has raised over $10 million since its inception.

The United States Blind Golfers Association is a great organization and serves as yet another good example that blind people can not only be independent and self-sufficient, but can adapt games largely based on sight to fit their need. In addition, they show their independence by traveling long distances to participate in tournaments. That’s what life is all about.

For more information on the United States Blind Golfers Association, go to

Letter from the Editor – Week of April 30, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend.

As you all know, this is poetry week here at the magazine. Since I received a large number of contributions from you all, I have decided to release this year’s poetry section as a separate email, similar to the Special Notices and Pen Pals Supplement you receive each week. I will publish it in its entirety on the website today. I’d like to thank everyone who submitted something for this year’s issue. You all did a wonderful job.

As for what’s next, now that May is upon us, I am going to be compiling our Summer Events Supplement and will be releasing it in the next few weeks. There are usually a ton of things happening this time of year, so I can’t give you an exact release date on the supplement yet. If you have something you would like included, please sent it in. I’ll let you all know when it will be coming out in the near future.

That should cover everything for now. I hope you all have a great week.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.

Ross Hammond, Editor

2012 Poetry Issue

This is the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind
2012 Poetry Issue

Table of Contents

Editor’s Note
Nancy Scott – Advantages of Not Knowing Mirrors
William Shake ‘N Bake – An Epicurean’s Epigram
Sally Rosenthal – Solace
Bunny Maginnis – I Saw a Sunset
Ann Chiappetta – Appearances
Cathy Brotz – Growing Old and The Golden Door
Valerie Moreno – Wake Up Call
Marilyn Brandt Smith – The Walk Home
Floris Brown – You dressed me in purple
Lori Castner – Window-shopping
Claudia Del Real – Another Day
Carol Fleischman – Braille
Rosetta Brown – A Poem Is
Carole Rose – Swinging
Rex Leslie Howard, Jr. – Force Unseen
Abbie Taylor – I Walk Alone
Ray Holland – The skies I remember
Ed Neiman – Meditation on the Memorial Wall
Karen Crowder – Country Folks
James Boswell – Oh Kapten My Kapten
Ruth E. Coleman – The Promise Keeper
Norma A. Boge – Longing
Bonnie Rennie – Okay I Can’t See
Kalu Ndukwe – A Third String Gratitude

For your convenience, each poem is separated by the ## symbol.

Editors Note: Poetry is literary art, and forces the artist into a habit of intricate deliberation as they carefully place words into a confined space–like a watchmaker gently laying the gears and springs into the body of their work. Every element is meaningful and has a defined purpose as they build rhythm and meld to fulfill the function of the artist. But where time is static, poetry is like a cloud–constantly changing and experienced differently by each observer.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted material for this year’s poetry issue. You have all done a fantastic job.

Nancy Scott – Advantages of Not Knowing Mirrors

I’ve forgotten again
what color
my clouded eyes are.
People have said grey,
but someone said blue once
and I like the sound of that.

I want to hear my face’s
laugh lines and heart shape
and wishful forty-five-year-old skin
but I don’t ask,
not wanting the sound of truth
unknowable by touch.

I can feel
my Irish-bent nose
and the breathlessness
of twenty pounds I should lose.
But the sound
of my still-thick hair
is silver.

Now isn’t that more fun than seeing?
William Shake ‘N Bake – An Epicurean’s Epigram

Eat what you love, and love be what you eat
O you who snack on care’s perfidious crimes.
A fool’s content lies more with white than wheat,
and diet is a symbol of the times.
Love is a dish of gusto-garnished veal,
and steak is not outwitted by the rest
of Cupid’s saucy arrows, for his meal
contents love’s least sad labour with the best.
If low-fat yogurt adds but little spice
to salad dressings creamy and divine,
it is the diet’s demons dour device.
Love and be loved with fat and flavour fine.
If counting calories you do despise,
then grab a chocolate milkshake and be wise!
Sally Rosenthal – Solace

I brought my mother a dog
to polish the dullness
of a nursing home routine and
make it sparkle
with Labrador enthusiasm.

I brought my mother a dog
to remind her she was the same person
whose ninety-one years had been graced with canine devotion,
from the wire-haired terrier of her native England
who, being averse to grooming, buried his brush in a neighbor’s garden,
from the mastiffs bred and shown by her late sister at Crufts,
from the Boston terrier, assorted brown mutts, and retired hunting spaniels
who had Christmas presents under our family tree
to the yellow Labrador who, with my hand on her harness,
deftly guided me through the institutional halls
on her missions of comfort.

I brought my mother a dog
to salve my conscience for
the care I could not provide
and to assuage my guilt for
the luxuries I had at home of
meals of my own choosing,
hot cups of tea,
and quiet privacy.

I brought my mother a dog
a few hours before she died.
As I held her waif-like hand,
listening to her changing breath and
bidding her safe travel, I prayed
the woman in the nursing home bed
that held no hint of home realized
I had brought us both a dog.
Bunny Maginnis – I Saw a Sunset

I awoke in darkness, the hour seemed quite late.
How long had I been sleeping, I tried to concentrate.
I must have closed the curtains, that’s it, without a doubt.
Or perhaps, a storm came through and then electricity went out.
I felt my way across the room and when I found the door,
I opened it and stood there, bewildered and unsure.
The birds were sweetly singing and folks were walking by.
At first I felt fear and anger, and then I began to cry.
For it was my eyes, I lost my sight I knew it had to be.
But I felt so alone and frightened, how could this happen to me.
I cried my God, where have you gone,
Why have you left me all alone?
You know on you I will rely,
But must I be blind until I die?
And then, in my mind’s eye there did appear,
A vision bright, and very clear.
A blue sky, puffy clouds, lovely to behold,
Surrounded a suspended ball of crimson, orange and gold.
My mind’s eye filled with wonder, I shed not one single tear drop.
For you see, I viewed this lovely scene standing high on a mountain top.
It was this that made me realize,
That I could live without my eyes. Though physically they are quite blind,
I’m not sightless in my mind.
Whenever a thing I wish to see,
I activate my memory.
Yes, that’s a day I’ll not forget.
I lost my sight, but, I saw a sunset.
Ann Chiappetta – Appearances

Once, not long ago
the details of life consumed me
Images of wild flowers, riotous colors in a
blanket of green
were picked, not left untouched.

Dependence on Televised Greek tragedies
Indelible Portraits, live feeds and last breaths
Possessed me.

Now a sound or smell overrides the lost optical cues
Memories ribbon the air with Familiar scents
Warm, pungent earth after it rains
Reminders of ripening tomatoes
The brace and sting of crisp winter wind
Recollections of hikes in the snow tipped pines

The soft, clear tinkle of ice on a windowpane
And my husband’s breathing deep in the night
Comforts the troubles
Lulls me back to sleep
Cathy Brotz – Growing Old and The Golden Door

Author’s Note: The first poem was written by my grandmother, Katherine Gilbert Cullerton, who was blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. She wrote the poem in January 1985. She passed on in January 1988, just shy of her 98th birthday.

The second poem was written by my father, John H. Cullerton, on January 16, 1988, the day that his mother passed. He is legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa and will turn 87 on May 20, 2012.

Growing Old
Katherine Gilbert Cullerton

You’ll never know how sad it is,
What growing old can be like,
Until you’re near the Golden Door.

My eyes are dim, my hearings’s poor;
The arthritis in my back
Gets worse with every twist and bend.

So enjoy yourself while you are young.
Get the things you can afford.

My greatest pleasure was helping others
And lending a helping hand.

I have a wonderful family
And kind friends by the score,
But I hope it won’t be very long
Before I reach the Golden Door.

The Golden Door
by John H. Cullerton

She sees it now… the Golden Door.

Slowly, nearer, nearer, nearer,
Even nearer, nearer more.

She is there now…

Then turns to take a final bow,
And returns to former state,
Of passing through that Golden Gate.

We do not know what lies ahead,
But see her smile as she does tread,
Along the beauty flower bed.

She slowly disappears from view,
As the Golden Door askew
Gently closes.

She is gone.
Valerie Moreno – Wake Up Call

Brooding too long
in bare branches
absent vitality

A touch stirs
sleeping resolve energy
time to imagine

unravel stiff boredom and respond-
universal wake-up call
Marilyn Brandt Smith – The Walk Home

I seldom walk this way, but since it’s late,
The highway tempts me, offers smoother tread.
Approaching from the woods, my traps all set,
I see that rain has left a silver sheen;

Lights from a passing car direct my gaze;
Am I the first to come upon distress?
Tendrils flutter, motion draws me near.
A child, a wounded dog, what have we here?

Hurry home and call for help from town?
Lift this bundle, see what I can do?
I touch the unfamiliar, pull away,
My God! It’s only broken bales of hay!

I murmur thanks, and soon go on my way.
Floris Brown – You dressed me in purple

In my grim loneliness
I also want to love
touch you
feeling with passion
the curves of your face
until I have my picture
of how I think you
might look

your voice, your warm
your smell, your footstep
your laughter, is all I have
to hold on to
to know
you are mine

your explosions of fury
your intolerable manner
of screaming at me
no patience venom
the purple dress you always
clothed me with
as doctors told

dimmed my light yesterday
like the branches of a willow tree
your dark side
hovered over me
clothed me enfolded me
and I wanted to elope
away from the dark side in you

then you give me your shoulder …
Lori Castner – Window-shopping

I spent those weeks
Before each childhood
Yearning to possess
The store display.
I stood in crowds
And peered through glass
Unable to afford
The porcelain doll
That begged for
Unconditional love.
I longed to caress
Sumptuous blonde curls
Knowing they would feel
Soft as down.
My fingers ached
To stroke supple skin
Certain it would prove
Lifelike and warm.
Eyes that shut in sleep
And opened wide in pleasure
Tantalized and beckoned.
Each day I stood adoring,
And anticipated Christmas
Sure she would be there
Beneath our tree.

The year I turned thirteen
I ceased to hope,
Too old for dolls,
Instead I received
A synthetic coat
My parents scrimped
All year to buy
And wore it six Decembers
Against Chicago chill.

Loving you is like
Those childhood times.
I return day after day
To bask in your smile
While your eyes look beyond me
To the nearby crowd
Or watch your own
Reflection in the glass.
Faithfully I wait
In reverence.
Eagerly you seek your own.

I long to relive
That yuletide season
When I put aside
Childish things.
And gratefully accepted
A gabardine cloak
That warmed me in seasons of cold.
Claudia Del Real – Another Day

Another day
Has come and gone.
Yet every day’s
like a new dawn.

So full of promise,
So full of life,
So full of hope
And sometimes strife.

Another day
Has come and gone.
Yet every day’s
Like a new dawn.

Love with your heart,
Live with your soul,
You’ll shed your tears
And sometimes lose control.

Another day
Has come and gone,
Yet every day’s
Like a new dawn.

Enjoy your life,
Conquer your fears,
And always know,
These are your best years!
Carol Fleischman – Braille

Fog hides the loops and lines of print.
A hand sails over a sea of dots,
Letters, words, and sentences flow past.
Fingers, like a silent ship, read forward.

A pattern of six dots plots a course.
The treasure is mine; I know the code.
Steady fingers ride the waves of dots,
Taking me as far as my mind can travel.
Rosetta Brown – A Poem Is

A poem is a bequest to leave behind
It is a treasure the poet bestows upon mankind
The poem is part of the creator that can be read and recited many years later

It is a brief moment in time
I dedicate it to the reader for it’s no longer mine
The poem may give them some insight
Or lessen burdens for some plight
Carole Rose – Swinging

The swing sits quietly in the early spring sunshine,
Waiting for me.
It has been months since our last voyage together.
I climb onto the swing
and grip its warm, strong chains.
The familiar sense of anticipation returns.
I swing gently at first
listening to birdsong
savoring the cool breeze,
and then:
I begin to push harder and swing higher.
I stand in the seat, my muscles straining,
willing myself to soar even higher.
I am oblivious to the other children on the playground.
I am wild with joy.
The wind speaks to me.
My heart is singing
my smile is radiant.
The swing is even with the bars.
I am free!
I am reaching for the sky!
I want to kiss the sun, to capture a fleecy cloud!
Suddenly I realize I can go no higher.
The swing slows.
I am spent, yet exhilarated.
I tumble onto a grassy carpet
and bury my face in its greenness.
A swing is just a swing and I am just a child.
One can only swing so high.
And yet
Imagination offers endless possibilities.
My swing and I will soar again.,
ever higher until we touch the sky.
I will kiss the sun,
I will capture my fleecy cloud.
Rex Leslie Howard, Jr. – Force Unseen

I come from places far and near.
I’m a moaning, whispering voice of force.
I’m not transparent though I am clear,
and nature guides my course.

I bring the world refreshing reprieve,
on the hottest days of spring,
In the Fall I prune away last year’s leaves.
while southbound birds take wing.

I bring the flurries of whitest snow,
with the chill of winter days.
I wonder aimlessly to and fro,
and sing in ghostly haunting ways.

I amplify scent when the days grow long;
I give waves to the heat and shimmer to the light.
I bring the tune of returning birdsong.
I’m the sweetness of remembered summer nights.

I’m an endless cycle not to be undone,
always beyond the hands that grasp.
Angry, I can be stopped by no one.
Even the oceans yield to my task.

I comfort, enrich, bless and curse
and spread life around the globe.
I suck vast waters up when I suffer thirst.
yielding only to God’s control.

I bring down cities and entire nations,
with only a whispering sigh.
Never tiring and constantly patient,
I live on though I frequently die.

I am the one thing physical eyes will never see,
And against which Mortal man is helpless to defend.
I am the thing I’ve been and will always be,
I am the awesome force of wind.
Abbie Taylor – I Walk Alone

In favorable weather, I take the sidewalk
to the bank, pharmacy, post office, jewelry store,
card shop, senior center, library.
My white cane sweeps from side to side in front of me.
Alone except for the cars that whizz by.
I find peace of mind.
Ray Holland – The skies I remember

Beautiful was the deep blue of a clear morning sky
Fluffy white clouds that floated in every imaginable shape
A large white whale followed by fluffy cannon balls in the wake
A sitting dog begging for scraps of food, than falling on his backside
A bowling ball disappearing into a floating ship
Oh those unlimited, wonderful cloud pictures in the beautiful blue sky
Jet streams that criss-cross the sky on clear cloudless days
Each day gave off new dramatic scenes as my head turned upward to observe them

Dark stormy clouds in a grey sky that blot out the sun and warn of impending bad weather
Bright streaks of lightning followed by rolling booms of thunder usually followed
The bright sun breaking through any break in the clouds was and is a never forgotten warmth of nature

The night sky is a wonder to behold on a clear dark night
Stars that twinkle and shine as pinpoints of white light are uncountable
Each night the moon changes its size and brightness
Was that a man’s face that is on the full moon?
Birds fly, bugs skim and flutter about the sky

Now without sight all the memories of that greatness above live on in my memory

However, are they still all there?
There is warmth that flows from above to cover my face and arms
Clouds and shadows blot out that sunny warmth from my body
Today is that great sky looking just as I remember?
Or is it just a nebula,
Nothing that I now seem to perceive?
Ed Neiman – Meditation on the Memorial Wall

Author’s Note: A perspective, in reverie, upon a visit to The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., and Remembering my brother, Gary Preston Neiman: (1951-1969).

Diaphanous, incorporeal, wrought of reverie,
A soldier’s image looms in fantasy
Over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.
His arms, (as The Wall), extend in earnest plea;
And thus perceived, the colossal eidolon speaks to me:

“Serving America, I perished in far-off Vietnam,
Bereft of blithesome youth’s due aspiration.
Dauntless, facing adversary’s pestilential gun,
Was I forfeited to vicious strife’s abomination.
My arms entreat: Come, see what this war has done!
As now they stretch inert in resignation.”

These arms are a wall of burnished granite, (black for mourning):
Poignant is the somber metaphor.
These arms are a ledger unfolded:
Grim chronicle of commitment’s tariff.
Names of this war’s casualties mortally wounded, (so many treasured thousands),
Here, with profound tribute, are enduringly told.

Not all the rain that bathes these gargantuan arms
Could fade the taint of blood surged from Kinsmen dispatched;
Nor could all the sunshine that warms their graven panels
Disperse the torrent of tears shed by those who loved ones here ennobled.

These arms, downward cant, seem heavy laden,
As ponderously burdened with eons of precious years unspent.
These arms are spread like a tormented V,
–For venture? … Or for Vietnam?

A V, devoid of conviction, shallow, inverted, signing distress,
Like flagging wings of a valiant Eagle aggrieved,
Or like a shaken Nation’s countenance woeful shown.
But yet, A V that strengthens structure,
Bulwark ‘gainst the surge of time and tide’s obliteration,
Forefending inhumation.

Oh, this palpable commemoration!
Its majestic simplicity!
It’s enthralling democracy!
Its fervent solemnity!
Pledge of perpetual veneration!

Meditate upon this stately, humble, Wall.
Apprehend its pleading call.
Mute, it speaks with myriad tongues in silence,
Despite the stifling hand of violence.
Listen to the eloquence of hush:
A whisper midst quotidian rush.
Gaze into deepness ‘neath its lustrous sheen,
Mirrored in glaze, perceived, unseen.
Touch the singled symbol of address,
As once was dealt the fond caress.

Each name here scribed: a history hewn by tragic conflict,
–Abridged amidst a battle breaking.
Each cherished soul bethought: a private echo in the heart of its beloved,
–A throbbing, wistful, aching.
Each past: some future’s fabric weft of sacrifice,
–Demand of calamitous leave-taking.

Honor those absent.
Recall them present.
Wonder: what if…?


But these arms, alas, cannot embrace to grant surcease
Of sorrow’s pang, or abate the timeless anguished breath;
Nor ever can they, tranquil, folded be in pose of peace:

Karen Crowder – Country Folks

We awaken not to the sound of honking horns,
We are not disturbed by the constant sound of roaring traffic,
The melody of chirping birds wakes us from sound slumber
The quiet whisper of breezes coming through our open windows,

Early mornings are not nerve jostling with jarring sound of rush hour traffic
People always rushing down streets to subways and busses
In the country the smell of growing things fills the air,
Unhurried people arrive at work content with the gentle chatter of rustling leaves and barking dogs.

Late afternoon horns blare in the mayhem of oncoming traffic
People wishing to escape the cacophony of city noise,
Cars glide home with already planted gardens
The melody of robins and chickadees greeting them as they arrive

Nighttime falls with city sound of boom boxes and slamming car doors,
Serenity and rest are hard to find with loud music and sirens
The peepers chirp, birds serenade us through the evening
Sitting on porches, we love the tranquility of the country.
James Boswell – Oh Kapten My Kapten

Oh Kapten my Kapten, I broke down and cried,
Becausse I was bewildered by your study guide.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, directing toward success
With MP3 player, FM, and GPS.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, global navigation
Your system will point the way to my destination.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, global navigation,
Announcing streets in my town and across our nation.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, I need to be aware
Of where I am, where I’ll go, and how I will get there.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, when I choose to roam,
Your voice will declare to me
How I will get home.
Ruth E. Coleman – The Promise Keeper

In all the things that have happened to me,
God’s given me ability to see.
How to make it to the other side,
Whether I walk, jump, slip or slide.
He’s given me ways to conquer my foes,
By sniffing their deception, with my keen keen nose.
So far as attacks,
I ignore the whacks.
Like Ziggy and his dog,
I am victorious in smog.
Never knowing which way is up,
My way is made sure by my faithful pup.
Who is lead by the Powerful unseen Hand,
The Lord and Redeemer of mortal man;
The same who once walked on water,
Who healed the sick and raised Jairus’ daughter.
Who spit on clay and made the blind to see,
Who told His Disciples. “Even though they Crucify Me…,
I’ll shake off death on Day Three.”
and His Promise to you and to me,
“I’m coming again, and ALL WILL SEE!”
Can we trust Him? Sure we can,
Even better than sighted man,
Because we know who leads us, not our dog,
He’s the One who created and sees clearly in the smog.
He knows where we’re going, and our end.
He’s the One Who made us… Jesus, Our Best Friend.
Norma A. Boge – Longing

When days are dark and the world’s so cold
And memories are all I have to look forward to
I think about you, so sweet and so playful
And how I loved to see the boy inside the man
I know you loved me for your own reasons
And my heart holds a special place for you
Time and space conspired to keep us apart
And I’m sorry fate dealt the hand it did
I will carry on, as will you, down separate paths
And I’ll meet you where the stars collide
Bonnie Rennie – Okay I Can’t See

Some say “So sad that you can’t see!”
But that simply seems so silly to me.
The sights in sounds, in symphony
So sensational, not to be scrapped or scorned, sincerely!
I savor the songs, and seriously!
No room to perceive them, if I could see.
The shouting sea, the sandy shore,
The sheltering sunset, who could seek for more.
The other senses see how to celebrate life.
Were I to see now, it would surely bring strife.
So please don’t say “sorry” that I can’t see.
Glad to set aside the shallowness
Love what my heart can see.
Kalu Ndukwe – A Third String Gratitude

Though not a 1st or 2nd string,
Which the world may call east or west,
But my heart truly sing:
Thanks, thanks for your best,
Life’s battles fiercely fought,
That the blind everywhere:
Their joy and independence no more hurt,
And peace to all found so dear!

Recipe of the Week – Chicken Stir-Fry with Noodles

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Yield: 4 Servings
Preparation Time: 30 Minutes


8 ounces uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
1 head bok choy (16 ounces)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
6 Tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce


Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, cut off and discard root end of bok choy.

Cut leaves from stalks; coarsely chop and set aside.

Cut stalks into 1-inch pieces.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in 1 tablespoon oil until no longer pink.

Remove and keep warm.

Stir-fry the bok choy stalks, celery, peppers and onion in remaining oil for 4 minutes.

Add bok choy leaves; stir-fry 2 to 4 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir in teriyaki sauce.

Add chicken and spaghetti; heat through.

Nutritional Facts:

1-1/2 cups equals 434 calories; 11 g fat (1 g saturated fat); 63 mg cholesterol; 623 mg sodium; 53 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 35 g protein.

Reader’s Forum – Week of April 23, 2012

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Contributor Erin Jepsen – One of the Gang, Christine wrote:

I was brought up as an only child, with other problems in that my mum was seriously ill for part of my early childhood and eventually I spent time with elderly grandparents in my school holidays after she passed away. I was also sent away to boarding school for the partially sighted at age five. So yes, almost certainly I did not reach my full potential as my relatives were too ‘soft’ during my holidays. All I did was ‘light’ housework and helped with cooking. No one introduced me to things like a gas cooker until I was 15.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family of four children, he the only one with a visual impairment. His dad trained as a ‘special needs teacher’ – and Mike was expected to do all the chores his siblings did during the holidays. He was allowed not to if he went home for just a weekend 3 times a year – and his siblings objected vociferously, as two of them were almost his age you can imagine they found it hard to stomach. Mike still talks proudly of his helping his mum with the cake making at age 3, and being the only sibling with strong enough wrists to beat sponge cakes which even his mum couldn’t do. And today I have a husband registered blind, who cooks as well as a chef (a career he decided not to pursue on account of long hours and poor pay, though he’d not have got a sniff of a job I have no doubt in 1960s England). He handles the same woodworking tools as a sighted DIY person, and although he dislikes DIY, believing he’s not as good, he certainly did a great deal in our first house and no one would have known it was by someone who couldn’t see.

To this day, I am far less likely to pull my weight if I think I can get away with something, and there are many tasks I simply do not know how to do but which many young visually impaired people will have learned at school along with their peers I’m quite sure. A sort of spoiled child mentality. Thank goodness most children – even in the UK – now live at home, attend the local schools, if they have minor impairments certainly get no ‘mollycoddling’, and even when children have very severe impairments, their special needs schools now expect them to gain the everyday skills their more able peers will gain from parental and teaching adults in specially designed ‘houses’ within their school campus.

It may not lead them into getting a lifelong job (neither of our countries seem to have licked that hurdle), but an awful lot more people can run their own home, do their own housework, cook, and be totally independent or be able to look after themselves with the help of a paid caregiver.

I have many visually impaired friends who are parents: some are totally blind, married to totally blind people, and our children are now grown up with children of their own and leading lives as well as any child brought up by parents with no impairments.

Our generation has a lot to be proud of.

Chris (Reading, UK)
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – The Kindness of Strangers, Denise wrote:

Two days ago my friend and I went into the city to eat at Burger King. We took the subway in to 34th Street and got off the train looking for an exit. Both of us had guide dogs so we walked around a little trying to find the way out and then a gentleman came along and showed us the exit. He wanted to know where we were going so I asked him to point us toward 7th Ave. He asked again where we were going so I told him to Burger King and he insisted on walking us there. I said I didn’t want to take him out of his way but he said he was just catching a train to NJ and that there’d be another one. The exit we came out of caused us to have to walk four blocks up and one Avenue block over to get to the restaurant. After we got there, we ordered our food while he waited. Then he took us to a table and waited until our order was ready and brought it to us. He even went back when my friend didn’t get the French fries he had ordered and got them. He was reluctant to leave us even then but we told him we travel all the time so he told us to enjoy our meal and then left. Although I felt a bit uncomfortable and paranoid with that whole situation like a typical New Yorker wondering what his ulterior motive might be, we had a nice conversation while we walked and I felt it was really a nice thing for him to have done for us. You don’t find many people like that in NYC.
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – The Kindness of Strangers, Mary wrote:

I would feel very uncomfortable and insulted if somebody tried to give me cash for providing them directions or advice. Would these people offer money to a sighted person? Probably not.

This is the 21st century; we’re not begging on the street; many of us are employed or otherwise successful. I would definitely refuse the cash, politely but firmly.
In response to Contributor M. L. Liu – Harsh Criticism for Blind Pianist, Debra wrote:

I am responding to the article about the blind pianist. My name is Debra Saylor, and I am a totally blind pianist. I competed three times in the Van Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. Although this competition is for so-called amateurs, the level of competition is very high. The people who compete often have advanced degrees in piano performance, but they do not make their living as concert pianists, although they could. In 2000 when I competed, I was awarded third prize, and won the award for the most outstanding performance of a piece in the Romantic period for my performance of Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Clair de Lune means moonlight, and I was told many times that I was able to create the image of moonlight through my interpretation of the piece.

Also, I heard Mr. Tsujii, the subject of the original article in this magazine, perform here in Huntsville, at a concert of all three of the Van Cliburn professional competition winners. He was fantastic, and also, my piano teacher, who is a concert pianist himself, said that Mr. Tsujii was an exceptionally wonderful pianist. I think the critics just want to use their power to express a bias that they have had all their lives.

Debra Saylor, Huntsville Alabama
In response to Contributor M. L. Liu – Harsh Criticism for Blind Pianist, Edward wrote:

My favorite blind piano player is Derek of England. I call him the “human jukebox” because of his ability to play hundreds of musical pieces if not more.

Derek Paravicini was born prematurely 32 years ago, and doctors did not think he would survive.
He is blind and severely autistic, but has a unique talent that has stunned the music world – he can play any piece of music after hearing it only once.
Rosetta wrote in to say:

Greetings Ziegler Readers,

I wish to telecommute in the Customer Service arena. The rehabilitation establishment has told me it is my responsibility to research the world, locating companies to hire me. I am informed by this establishment that they are not aware of companies hiring a blind person who does this. Have any of you ever faced such a dilemma? Do any of you telecommute using JAWS in Customer Service? Perhaps you know of someone who does, or are you aware of companies that will hire telecommuters using JAWS in the Customer Service arena.

How is it that the blind are subjected to such ill informed rehabilitation counselors, who attempt to get us to perform their jobs for them? Please respond with your comments, information, and opinions.

Rosetta Brown
Ann Bliss wrote in to say:

Creativity is in all of us although we might not recognize it as such. It may take the form of writing, sculpting, speaking, cooking, a business or anything else. Often there are blocks to our creativity and I have found a sure way to work through them.
The secret to unblocking is through journaling. This is not right brain journaling but merely stream of consciousness writing. Try it: for ten minutes every morning, just write either in long hand or on your computer. Anything that comes into your mind is valid. It might be happy or sad or garbled or misspelled. You might have to write “I don’t know what to write” for ten minutes. It will open the channels for you. The emotions and blocks will pour out and before long, the creativity will emerge.

Did you know that our creativity is channeled from the Divine? De Vinci, Mozart and many, many others just created from the flow of energy sent through them by Spirit. How cool is that? Hopefully, you will be eager to see what flows through you. No matter what it is, it will be great and perfect for you!
Now remember, ten minutes every morning. No need to ever read your journal or show it to anyone unless you choose to. If you would like more information on this, you might read any of the books written by Julia Cameron. “The Artists Way” is recorded on cassette from NLS and is also available from Bookshare. There are workshops all over the country usually held at holistic centers if you would like to participate in one.

The Readers Forum eagerly awaits your results.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

News – Seven Year Old With No Hands Wins National Handwriting Award

Little Annie Clark, just seven years old, has made a remarkable achievement. Born without hands, Annie has refused to let her disability hinder her in any way, and without breaking a sweat, has taken home first prize for none other than handwriting in a national contest.

The contest was put on by the Zaner-Bloser language arts and reading company, which awarded two national winners trophies and a $1,000 prize. This is the first year that awards were offered to disabled students, and Annie’s co-winner is another student from Ohio who is visually impaired. The award was created to honor Nicholas Maxim, a fifth-grade student born without hands or lower arms who entered the competition last year.

In a time when penmanship has been pushed aside by typing skills, Annie’s school still believes that it is very important, and encourages its students to enter the competition each year. Students who enter the contest are initially judged by teachers at the school and then the best example from each grade is sent to the company for the national contest. Annie was chosen as the winner of all of the first grade students, and her entry was sent to Zaner-Bloser without the knowledge that a disabled category existed, but with a letter explaining that Annie had no hands. Upon receiving her entry along with that letter, contest organizers immediately forwarded her writing sample to the people who managed the competition for disabled students.

Annie’s prize was given to her during an assembly held at her school. When the purpose of the assembly was announced and Annie heard her name called over the loud speaker, she was simply stunned as she quickly and quietly walked to the front to accept her prize and a trophy half as big as she was. At the conclusion of the assembly, she left with her fellow students so that she wouldn’t miss her math lesson, but returned shortly afterwards to speak with reporters about her award.

Annie’s ability to write so well stems from her determination for perfection and self sufficiency. Above and beyond common tasks like dressing and feeding herself, Annie rides a bike and swims, and even paints her toenails. She also has no problem typing on a keyboard or using an iPod Touch.

When writing with a pen or pencil, she exhibits incredible dexterity considering that she has no fingers. She pinches her writing instrument of choice between her arms and rocks it back and forth with dutiful concentration and will quickly flip a pencil over and erase any mistakes. As she relayed to reporters, she “learned to go slow.”

Annie is a shining example of what determination can give a person. Not just awards or recognition, but a quality of life that is beyond compare and the knowledge that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.


Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Random Acts of Kindness

Last week’s article by Lynne Tatum inspired me to think of instances of kindness in my own life. I’ve been the recipient of kindness and have also paid it forward. While it took me some time to think of acts of kindness from which I’ve benefitted, I can clearly recall one act performed for my daughter’s benefit. It happened while coming off the subway in Chinatown.

It was summer and my daughter’s sandaled heel became caught in the turnstile exit, resulting in a jagged cut. Once we got to the street, I pulled her over, brought out a tissue, and wiped her tears while my husband looked at her foot. Suddenly, a man dressed in white appeared next to us, knelt to look at her foot, and fished in his belt pack. He handed my husband antiseptic wipes and a bandage and helped clean the wound and cover it up. He told us he was a nurse and was glad to help such a brave kid. Before we could say thanks, he melted away into the crowd. It’s times like this that I am grateful for people who don’t mind helping people.

Kindness is not limited to humans, though. I’m also reminded of a time when our apartment complex helped a fledgling bird find its way back to its nest. Enter the bird lady–me. A fledgling chick flew Woodstock-style into our pool area and was making a ruckus. I came out with my bird box and a towel, got someone to help me corner it, and I threw the towel on it. I picked it up and held it until its little heart slowed, then put it in the box and covered it.

One lady called the wild animal rescue hotline and obtained information on how to get the bird back near its tree and its parents. We took turns luring it near the fence where it first flew from, put down some seed and water, and then watched and waited. Eventually, we saw something. One neighbor described how the adult bird came down, reunited with its chick, and then hopped away into the trees with the chick following. Success!

Any way you look at it, taking action to help others, even animals, is making a positive difference in the world.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – (Not So) Easy Mac

With some seriously wet weather coming our way this weekend, I decided to cook some comfort food that warms you up on damp and cold days. As I was going through my recipes, a perennial favorite of mine popped out–homemade macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and cheese has always been one of my favorite dishes since I was a kid and my Mom would serve it on many Friday nights. As Catholics, eating meat was forbidden on this day, so some macaroni and cheese was a common go-to meal for us–not to mention that it was quick and easy to make in general. As an eager kitchen helper, my mother would normally have me stir the white sauce, since it was relatively simple to prepare.

Though simple in theory, that sauce did not always cooperate with me. At 21, as a budding cook, I attempted to make that same white sauce for my own mac and cheese. As a child, I was always in charge of stirring and not necessarily the adding of ingredients, or most importantly, the order they were added. I did not realize that I needed to blend the melted margarine with flour before adding the milk. So I added the flour to the melted margarine and assumed that the milk would thicken everything by itself after that. Imagine my surprise when I found a margarine and flour brick shortly thereafter. In a last ditch effort, I allowed it to simmer on the stove, but not even that would not resurrect it. My mom appreciated my attempts to save it, but the sauce had burned–badly. In tears, I gave up making macaroni and cheese. Perhaps it was just a dish for other cooks.

A year later, determined to not let the infamous sauce beat me, I invented an easy recipe. Using my Mom’s blender, after adding milk first, I added melted butter and flour and blended the mixture for a minute, adding the sauce to cooked pasta afterwards. Using that great appliance saved my dish (and my sanity) and reduced my prep time drastically. After spooning everything into a baking dish and topping it with cheddar cheese, it went into the oven for about a half hour. Thus my easy recipe was born, and for a new cook, I felt truly triumphant.

By my mid twenties, I was a voracious reader of Braille cookbooks, always learning as many new recipes as I possibly could. Having found a great method for mastering the art of making a successful white sauce, I was dead set on figuring out how to make new meals. I thank the Braille cookbooks and my mom for giving me specific directions about making white sauce and sticking with me when I felt that all hope for culinary success was lost.

Do you have any stories of kitchen blunders to share? Tell us about them in the Reader’s Forum.