Archive | August, 2014

The Toothpaste Work Around

23 Aug

by Charlotte Poetschner

This may shock some people.

I don’t put toothpaste on my toothbrush.

Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I decided it was a waste of time. Maybe I didn’t like the failure rate.

Too often I would try to ooze out that mint flavored worm along the brushtips of my toothbrush, only to find that it had dropped off. Or I would knock the toothbrush on the floor in the process of putting the lid back on the paste. Or I’d find a toothpaste surprise in my hairbrush, or on the counter, or, heavens, decorating my pajamas. How did I manage to do that!

Bad enough that I can’t see what I’m doing. The real difficulty is my lack of manual dexterity. Or is it my non-existent hand-eye coordination?

But why does anybody, blind or otherwise, do this task in just this way? It’s a habit. It’s the way we’ve always done it.

But why? No one else is with me in the bathroom. No one else uses my tube of toothpaste.

I no longer put toothpaste on my toothbrush. I do it a different way now. It’s my private act of defiance, although, for all I know, I may not be alone.

I put the tip of the toothpaste container into my mouth. I squeeze. Just the right amount. No mess. No lost blobs of toothpaste somewhere out there.

It’s a small thing, a practical parable, a toothpaste work-around.

I need to trust that this is good, this giving of permission to myself to discover new ways of doing things.

Charlotte Poetschner likes contemplating thunder storms, digging in her garden beds, and living with the two men in her life, her husband and son. Going through vision loss in her mid-twenties, she has been blind from Diabetic Retinopathy since 1986. Whether she gets published or not, writing a book is on her bucket list and she is on her way with a novel in the works. Plans for the future also include creating a blog and web page.

For the Birds

15 Aug

by Nancy Scott

Part of my brain is always looking for an adventure to write about. I start paying attention when the post office clerk says “Welcome to Friday,” as her computer freezes up.

We have already put the Free Matter for the Blind letter tapes and cassette library books into the outer mailbox. It is 9:05 and the postal windows have just opened. There are four people in line in front of us and we are in line only so my driver can buy one stamp. (She could have gotten a stamp from my house earlier but she didn’t think to ask me.)

As I’m now paying more attention, I hear a bunch of chirping little birds. I ask Terry if she can see them outside. Once I point them out, Terry hears them too. She says she can see out, but no birds. “There is a tree but it has lots of leaves and I can’t see if anything’s happening.”

“They sound like baby chicks,” I comment as I listen and do not move forward in line. The three people in front of us are not talking about the birds.  Are they hearing the cheepy cacophony?

But finally the computer prints and the next person advances. And I’m thinking that the birds sound like they’re inside the building. The computer freezes again and someone named Jen is told to go into the back to do something and then we advance again.

After about ten bird-filled minutes, it’s our turn. And no one has asked about the birds! It’s all just cheapest or quickest shipping rates.

“I just need one stamp,” Terry says and I immediately can’t not ask, “What are those birds and where are they?”

The clerk laughs. “Oh, they’re baby chicks somebody mailed and we’re waiting for someone to pick them up. Just one more piece of this morning’s excitement.”

Oh how I want to ask how you could mail something so obviously alive, but there are rustling people in line behind us who are also not talking and probably not smiling about the birds.

Is a chicken farmer the mailer or the recipient, or both? Who else might want all those fluffy little babies that I only associated with my childhood Easters? And how many chicks? And how were they kept cool in August? What kind of boxes or cages would they use? And how could all those sighted people not ask about the noise?

Sigh! I’ll never know, but I suspect there are a few stories here.

Things that just won’t leave a writer’s head have to be written down. They cheep and chirp until you let them out to grow up to be food for thought or breeding stock or someone’s pet.

So here I am, to ponder and wish with my talking computer. It’s still Friday and I have time for an article draft or two. If there had just not been so many unhappy, rushed people behind me. And why didn’t I ask what kind of tree Terry saw outside? And how many people were there in line behind us and what were they holding and how were they dressed and ???

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.


8 Aug

by Stella De Genova

I just got back from a beautiful vacation in Italy, homeland of my grandparents and ancestors.  Even through my blurred vision, the scenery was postcard-perfect.  I enjoyed the loved ones I traveled with, the family we visited, the places we went and the sites we saw.  There is nothing I would change about our trip, not even the achy feet at the end of the day from walking on centuries-old cobblestone streets.

We ate authentic Neopolitan cuisine and, of course, pizza.  We walked up Mt. Vesuvio and sunbathed on the Amalfi coast and on the Isle of Capri.  On the last leg of our trip, we stayed in Rome with a view of the Pantheon right outside our apartment window.  We walked the streets and immersed ourselves into the history of cathedrals, classic art, Borghese Gardens, the Coliseum and Palatino.

As much as I loved our trip, I’m happy to be back to the comforts and familiarity of home.  There was a time when I would get very blue after a trip.  Back to the routine and a job that stressed me was a letdown after being away from it all.  If only I could stay on vacation forever.

When I stopped working and went on SS disability, people pitied me because I was losing even more vision and couldn’t do what I had done for so many years – support my own family.  Hell, I pitied myself.  But as time went on, I’ve found that although my vision may limit some physical tasks, it doesn’t limit the quality of my life unless I let it.  I know it sounds weird that losing vision and a job turned out to be a positive thing but I’ve learned to be happy with myself and that was my catalyst.  So now, vacation or home, life is good.  La vita è buona!

Winning the Game

3 Aug

by Jim Holtzman

Thursday, August 7th, softball season has reached its final day.  A beautiful day by most standards finds the Pointers in the championship game, which comes as a pleasant, unexpected surprise to most, including the members of our team. The Pointers have managed three victories in the last four seasons combined, this year we notched 7 victories.  Maybe destiny as well as the sun will shine on us today.

The obstacle that stands in our way to the trophy, the first for us in 14 seasons, is the hated Mustangs, a team that we have been battling and losing to as long as anyone can remember finished with a perfect 10-0 2014 season. The excitement on our sideline was loud and contagious, regardless of what seemed like insurmountable odds. We know that we are going to win!

When the starting line-up is announced, I’m not terribly surprised by the fact my name is missing, at this point of my life and career, a softball diamond is probably not the safest place for me. It has taken me some time to accept a lesser role on the team but as long as my beer is cold I manage to.

The game is tied 4-4 in the seventh and last inning. There are 2 outs, but the Mustangs have two base runners   with their best player up to bat. Johnny O hits a line drive toward our pitcher Mike. He is only able to get one hand up. The ball bounces off Mike’s hand, breaking his index finger in the process; it goes right to our second baseman Bobby for the third out. Divine intervention showed up just at the right time for us.

Mike was due to lead off our half of the seventh inning but with his broken finger he could not, although he tried to convince our coach Philip otherwise. We only needed one run. Philip told me to grab a bat, I was going to hit for Mike. To say I was surprised wouldn’t even begin to describe my thoughts and emotions. There were 4 other players, all of whom, well let’s be honest, are better than me, were on the bench, but Philip had a hunch.

I hit the ball hard but unfortunately it was right at the third baseman, but he bobbled it. Divine intervention strikes again. In his haste to make up for his error, he threw the ball over the head of the first baseman. I was standing on second base. Davie, usually one of our better hittersm struck out swinging. Ray popped up to the pitcher.  I’m still at second.  Philip hit the ball to the left fielder on one hop. I was going to score no matter what. It was my turn to be the hero! The ball arrived at the plate at the same time I did. On my head first, slide the catcher’s knee and my face collided, everything went dark.

The game’s outcome depends on the umpire’s call, but I don’t hear or see anything. I lay on the ground for what seemed like an eternity. What’s the call? Who won? I need to know! Wake up!

Finally, I start to hear a voice, but it’s not the umpire, nor any of my teammates. I’m not sure who it belongs to.  I struggle to recognize the voice. It’s familiar but I still am not certain, I know that I have not heard it in a long time, a woman’s voice becomes clearer: you’re safe at home says my mom. Welcome to heaven, your dad and I have been waiting for you.

Jim Holtzman is a volunteer and participant of the Words Wide Open writing workshops at Second Sense blind service organization.  He just keeps getting better!