Archive | May, 2016


27 May

by Jim Holzman

What is change? Change can be what’s left over from a dollar after purchasing a pack of gum or candy bar. Change can be a different way of doing something, it can be a new address or town. Change can be simply another way to look at something. Over time, the way I remember this story has changed my perspective on that day.

It was summer 1973, maybe 1974. The rain that pelted the beaten down, weathered streets of my north side Chicago neighborhood had given way to brilliant sunshine that had all the birds, as well as most of work-goers, in a decidedly cheery mood. It was on this Friday that my mom was taking me to the Cubs game! This was a rare treat for a 10 year old, less than perfectly obedient kid, but it was lady’s day at Wrigley Field, so all women got in free, my bleacher seat would be $3.00.

My mother spent the morning making crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We also packed her thick plastic flower covered bag with a thermos of homemade chocolate milk that poured like motor oil. When we arrived at the platform in order to catch the train to the ballpark, the amount of people that were ahead of us was, by estimation, the population of the whole world. We got to the park, where instantly, my nose was greeted with the heavenly aroma of hot dogs, cigar smoke and stale beer, it was a memory that still lingers now. When we got to the ticket window the uniformed cashier ruined my day as well as my summer; “Sold Out”. I cried, threw a fit, and complained to my mom how unfair it was. I had been looking forward to this day forever.

My mom and I got off the train, my eyes were still red, puffy and the tears were still glistening. My mom seeing this, grabbed my hand and said “Instead of going home, let’s go to the park by the beach.”We sat on the blanket that my mom had packed for the game and ate the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drank the best chocolate milk I’ve ever had.

I lost my mom 3 years later. My perspective along with the way that I choose to remember that day changes frequently. When it happened I was a brat, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have my mom all to myself for the whole afternoon, I do now. I can’t tell you who won the Cub’s game that day, but I can vividly describe my mom’s beautifully flowered bag and the bright purple scarf she wore on her head. This story remains as one of my fondest childhood memories for somewhat selfish reasons; it’s all mine.


Jim Holzman has RP and is a volunteer at Second Sense blind service organization in Chicago. He jokes about everything, including his ability to write.  This story is being re-posted to remind Jim that he definitely can write and should keeo it up.

The Gardening Bug: Simple Ways to Enjoy Gardening

16 May

by Kathy Austin

We’ve had an early spring here in Chicago. I’ve been out in the garden a lot cleaning up last year’s plant remains and broken tree branches, transplanting lilies and hostas and planning what I’ll be purchasing to infuse my beds with flowers this summer.

I love to garden – it is my respite, my relaxation and my sanity. Gardening brings me peace.  Even though I can no longer see the plants, I still have a vision in my mind of what it all looks like.  I can tell if a plant is thriving by feeling if its leaves are firm and healthy.  I hear the robins maneuvering through the underbrush to get to the earthworms in a pile of soil I removed when planting new shrubs.  I enjoy the fragrance of daffodils when exploring the ground for little sprouts of plants waiting to burst through and open themselves to the new season.  My anticipation of how the garden will be this year is all I’ve been thinking about.

Tending a garden is harder now with no real useful vision. Sometimes I think I have too much and I get overwhelmed with all that needs to be done.  But knowing that gardens are always a work in progress, always changing, I continue on just because it makes me feel good.

I know not everyone has the land, ability or desire to manage a property full of garden beds, but here are a couple of ideas that may bring the joy of gardening into your life.

Little spaces, little gardens

With one container and some potting mix, you can create an herb garden. Mix a parsley plant, basil, oregano and thyme all in one pot, water thoroughly and put it in a spot that gets at least six hours of sun.  You’ll have all you need for a pesto or spaghetti sauce.  Bonnie Plants has some great combination ideas.  A basket of planted herbs makes a great gift too!

Create a butterfly bath

Even though I can’t see the butterflies, friends and family notice them when they are in my garden and will describe their antics. This enriches my gardening experience because I know I am providing them a refreshing bath and a cool drink and creating something beautiful for others to watch

A butterfly bath is an easy DIY project that’s inexpensive using terracotta pots and saucers, small rocks and pebbles and a parsley plant. Go one step further and surround your butterfly bath with containers of butterfly attracting annuals such as petunias, cosmos, sweet alyssum or verbena — all readily available at home centers and nurseries this time of year.

Give the gift of a garden

Share the beauty of early spring annuals like pansies with friends and neighbors. Recently, I purchased a couple of small terracotta pots and saucers and a package of yellow and purple pansies.  I potted them up, tied a ribbon around the pot and gave them as a hostess gift. Another one went to my great niece to take home with her after a visit to my house.  This inexpensive and small token of appreciation brought a smile to all who received the pot.

Learning is fun

Another way I enjoy gardening is through social media. I love the Extension Master Gardener and the national Garden Bureau’s Facebook pages.  Especially now, as gardening season gets under way, both organizations share lots of good ideas, great information and interesting facts.  There are literally hundreds of other gardening pages on Facebook to choose from, too!

The BARD website from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has a handful of gardening books, some reference and others that tell stories. Search the BARD website under “gardening” in the subject section.  My favorite reference books include:

The Nonstop Garden by Jennifer Benner and Stephanie Cohen

The New Low Maintenance Garden by Valarie Easton,

The Well Designed Mixed Garden by Tracy DiSabato

Horticulture Magazine

No dirty hands, no aching back

I’m also in the process of reading A Patchwork Garden by Sidney Edison. It is a lovely story of how her country garden in Newtown, Connecticut has evolved over three decades.  She intertwines her knowledge, successes and failures with the fellow gardeners who inspired and taught her along the way.  I live vicariously through this book – it would be my dream to have this kind of a garden, but I will try to be content with my 60 x 120 suburban plot and keep on trying to make it something all will enjoy – butterflies, bees, birds and people, too!

Happy spring!


Kathy Austin is the Community Engagement Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator at Second Sense blind service organization in Chicago, IL. This post was lent to us from the Second Opinion blog at the Second Sense website.

2 New Poems

6 May

by Nancy Scott

3:00 a.m.

 In this hour, you could:

murder someone,

sing opera,

walk naked into class,

hear what your dead sound like,

lose your mind,

find love,

eat tomorrow’s leftovers,

write poems.



I’m bored.

I want a grown-up to come play with me;

a cool grown-up who can think up good games.

I don’t want to read,

don’t want to watch TV,

have already gone for a walk.


In real life,

I am a cool grown-up

and I think up almost all the games,

good or not.

But I don’t want to today.

So there!


Nancy Scott’s over 700 essays and poems have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, and as audio commentaries. She has a new chapbook, The Almost Abecedarian (on Amazon), and won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Braille Forum, Disabilities Studies Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, Pentimento and Wordgathering.  (*Note from the editor: …and Nancy is one of our longest-standing and favorite contributors to Vision Through Words!)