Archive | March, 2014

The Miracle of Seeds

28 Mar

by Audrey Demmitt

Do you remember the sheer delight of planting a bean in a handful of dirt in a Styrofoam cup and watching it grow as a child? There is nothing quite as wonder-filled as a seed. The variety of color, shape, fragrance and flavor contained within that tiny package is a miracle. It is spring now and miracles await to delight, inspire and calm the soul.

“In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.” ~Robert Brault

I remember the first time I planted my own vegetable garden. Enthralled with the simplicity of the seeds, I lavished them upon the tilled ground with great enthusiasm. Imagine my excitement as they burst forth in varying shades of green, tender shoots. Honestly, I was astonished and thrilled at the power I discovered in my own hands to cultivate. And I was humbled by the earth’s desire to give me such beautiful and useful gifts. Daily, I would “walk the plantation” and assess the new growth in my garden. As the summer wore on, I was blessed by more tomatoes and beets than anyone in my family wanted to eat and a mammoth pumpkin vine that threatened to swallow the house. Soon, I realized I needed to learn how to preserve the generous bounty of my over-ambitious garden. At harvest, the kitchen was abuzz with the activities of canning and freezing the colorful, fresh vegetables. And I was hooked on the yearly ritual of placing the diminutive, surprise parcels into a bit of dirt and waiting for the anticipated joy of new life.

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” ~Author Unknown

It is well-accepted that gardening has a therapeutic effect on humans. Many an author and poet have extolled the benefits and special powers that plants have on us. There is even such a thing as horticulture therapy, which is used to rehabilitate people. There is something very calming and soothing about the process of playing in the dirt in the warm sun and nurturing plants to grow. Throughout my life, I have dabbled in all kinds of gardening. It seemed that I was always happiest when I was planting, growing, and caring for plants. When I lived in a rural setting, it was a large vegetable garden. Then, I studied perennials and herbs and planted them for their different uses. I even had an indoor garden of over 20 African violets for years. I used to say to my kids “Look, the violets are all blooming! That means momma is happy!”

“At the heart of gardening is a belief in the miraculous.” ~Mirabel Osler

Over the years, due to my vision loss, I have scaled back my gardening. But I always have something growing to remind me of the miracle of life. Now, I have a small herb garden in an antique bathtub on my patio. I maintain large pots of annuals that spread their cheer in spring and summer. I love to plant sunflowers for their big, bold blooms and seeds to feed the birds. At Christmas, I like planting an amaryllis bulb in a pot. My children used to measure the daily growth and marvel. Indoors, I keep several easy-to-grow plants that add color and oxygen to the sunroom. I will never be without my plants. They are such simple pleasures.

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul,” ~Linda Solegato

So, if you are in need of a little joy, pleasure, sunshine, surprise, inspiration, or stress-relief, consider plant therapy. Start small. Start with a seed and a Styrofoam cup. A world of wonder awaits you.

Audrey Demmitt was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 25 and has been legally blind since 1994. She has used a guide dog for the last three years. She is a retired  school nurse. Audrey lives in Georgia with her husband and three adult children. See more from Audrey at her blog: Seeing Possibilities, http://seeingpossibilities.com/

 

 

More on the Cheesewolf

24 Mar

If you enjoyed reading “Memoirs of an English Wolf,” (below) you will be interested in Gavin Jones’ websites.  He continues to work in the art, music and writing world and says that “Fulfillment in life comes from working with other artists, and from teaching. It is a beautiful world and that is fulfillment enough. My sight problems (keratoconus, and consequent transplant issues) have given me a different view from the norm, but not one which is in any way lesser.”

Some links to Gavin’s work are: www.thecheesewolf.co.uk and www.memoirsofanenglishwolf.wordpress.com .

Memoirs of an English Wolf

21 Mar

by Gavin Jones

Number 22 – In the Studio

I sat in the corner of the studio and began to draw. I used oil pastels because they would smudge and I could scratch them. The colors could smear into each other. I could attempt to create a facsimile of the world my eye saw. Drawing could become a testament to the form and colors of blindness.

Before the year was out I would be having a transplant which – hopefully – would restore my sight. Drawing this different vision was pretty important to me, although I had long since given up the dream of following a career as a visual artist. This sight was not, in itself a disability. It was an ability unique to me. I had a vision impossible to be shared with others. That is the thing with much that is known as blindness: it is anything but the inability to see. Sure, I couldn’t even see the wall the eye-chart sat on when tested at the hospital, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t see. I lived in a world where half of my vision was “normal”, and half was that of another reality. If it hadn’t been for the appalling pain of my condition, I would have found much to enjoy in that world. As it was I had to be “cured” or I would lose my eye completely. And so I went for the checks, the tests and the pre-op meetings up in Moorfield’s in London.

 The studio had a ladder in the middle and partition walls between people’s spaces. All of this swirled into a mass of poorly defined, almost-shapes. I had to unthink what I knew to be there, to let my blind eye take over.  Only then could I see the world as I saw it. Around me, students busied themselves with work. Dancers planned their ideas in diagrams, musicians read their scores and drew up their tracklists, serious visual artists drew, collected objects with the right look, or painted. I sat cross-legged, my sketchbook propped on my knee. This would be my last chance to draw with both my own eyes. Soon I would literally be drawing the world partly from another’s viewpoint. Soon I would cease to be complete.

Gavin Jones offers a short piece as submission from a series of memoirs he recently wrote recalling his university years (in the later 1980s and early 90s). He is a keratoconus sufferer and in 1988 had a full corneal transplant in his right eye. This transplant has recently failed, and he is about to have another. At the time of the first transplant, he was an art student in Brighton, UK.  The piece submitted describes an attempt to capture what he saw through his affected eye prior to surgery.

Drying Paint

13 Mar

by Nancy Scott

Ernie chaired our local radio-reading-service’s programming committee. I was former chair and still a member of the monthly phone meeting. Since Ernie also read for RADPRIN he read several newspaper essays of mine on the air. One night he said something about my essays that I’ve never forgotten. “I bet you could write about paint drying, and it would be interesting.” At the time I laughed, but couldn’t think of a paint-drying incident to write about.

But three years after I moved to a big apartment building I had my first paint encounter. Building management decided to paint the halls and apartment doors. No one told me when the painter would arrive. I am an observant (nosy) tenant, which saved me from wet paint.

I knew from a neighbor that the second floor was finished. Several mornings later I heard rattling of probable ladders and buckets. Once I opened my door I smelled fumes and asked what was happening.

The painter didn’t understand why I needed to know where he was. I patiently explained that I couldn’t see the paint, and asked when he would get to my door. When he understood, he told me his painting plan.

It was quick-drying paint, so staying in my apartment until around 5 p.m. for the two days he worked was not difficult.

* * *

Wet paint is an occasional problem. But it points to a larger concern: things like printed signs and notices under doors that I can’t read. When I first moved in, the cleaning lady delivered such notices and she always knocked on my door to read about water being shut off or air conditioner filters being changed.

The management of my privately-owned building has never figured out that a phone call would be helpful. I’m not asking so much for accessibility. I’d settle for common sense or common courtesy.

One neighbor suggested that I seem to cope so well that people assume I’ll figure this out. “They forget you can’t see.” But I always use a cane, and I can’t read print.

I have hidden a Braille label to mark my floor number outside the unmarked elevator. I have accessorized my door with bells hanging on the outside.

In our last hall-painting experience—different painters, but same exact scenario—they took down the hanging fixtures, saying we couldn’t hang things any more. But I needed an identifier. So I used a twisty tie to hang a tiny dream-catcher from my door-knocker. I did that the same day the paint dried.

It’s still there, a month later. I’m currently wondering how to sneak dots onto the digital treadmill in the exercise room. (With people who deny access, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.)

Stay tuned.

Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet.  Her over 600 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries. An essayist and poet, she has published three chapbooks. She won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Stone Voices.

Happily Ever After

7 Mar

by Fred Nikkl, Sr.

Once upon a time, (not standard time or daylight savings time,  but a completely different kind of time), there was a hamlet, the smallest of hamlets, high in the blue mountains.  “So,” you say. “There are many small hamlets.”  This one was small in every way.  The tallest of the people were no more than three feet tall.  An average height man as we know it could reach out and touch the roofs of many houses.  No one knows where the original settlers came from but legend has it that a traveling circus was lost in the woods and these are the only survivors.  They lived an idyllic life, living off the forest, hunting and gathering acorns.

“Traveler,” the listeners asked,  “What evil befell them?”

“Traveler, we have given you food and drink and brought you close to the hearth.  Where is the rest of the story?  Tell us of the pack of wolves that attacked them or of the evil queen that put them to sleep for a hundred years.  Did goblins come down from caves in the high mountains and eat their children?  There must have been a drought or a flood wiping out their hamlet.

“No,” the traveler says, “they are still there, dancing and playing their diminutive instruments around their hearths.”

The listeners began to murmur and complain about the story.  “This isn’t a story worthy of our hospitality!” they shouted.

In a trice they had the traveler by the collar and were dragging him out of the room and threw him into the street.

“A happy ending,“ they complained as they returned to their homes.  “Who has ever heard of such a thing?”

Fred Nikkl, Sr. is 69 years old and has fun writing.  He lost his sight when he was a young adult but has never let that stop him from being a good dad, grandfather, friend, advocate for the blind and generally nice guy.  Blindness has also never stopped his love for adventure, including dabbling in writing.  His previously posted story on Vision Through Words called Hope will be appearing on the Magnets and Ladders website for writers with disabilities.