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New Year Wishes

1 Jan

by Stella De Genova

Another year is upon us. We all have hopes and dreams for the upcoming year: love, peace, good health, prosperity, maybe a small miracle or two.  One thing I’ve learned in life is that no matter what we hope or plan for, be prepared to improvise and go with the changes!

Vision Through Words has been posting poetry and essays written by visually impaired and blind writers since 2012. We have been lucky to have writers from all walks of life share their feelings and experiences in the blind community of the world.  As it turns out, we are all more alike than different.  We’ve read pieces that have made us laugh and made us cry and always something we could relate with.  As with all things, nothing is forever – things end and new things begin.  With that in mind, Vision Through Words will not be posting new submissions.  The site will be online so you can still enjoy archived writings and leave comments until spring.

I would like to personally thank each and every writer and reader that has visited this blog site and made it possible to continue as long as it has. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I wish you a Happy & Healthy New Year full of love & peace.  And never stop reading, writing and being creative in whatever way you love best.

My wishes for happiness and peace to you,

Stella & Vision Through Words

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The Chain

23 Nov

by Reja-e-Busailah

My Seeing Eye dog senses we are bent

on a long journey, long enough to keep us for a full day

chained to one seat on one plane.

 

She goes out of her mind with zeal,

like a child in the act of opening

the long-awaited present,

dream being realized,

and before I know it,

before we set out,

she has thrown all temperance to the dogs

and emptied to the drains

a bowl of water bubbling to the brim:

She knows

as though trafficking with powers

far above and beyond my ken;

and that’s the full extent of her innocence

and that’s the full limit of her association.

 

Then in despair I tear my hair,

or what is left of it,

less over what has passed

than over what is to come:

 

My vision,

my guide through the world’s pitfalls and snares

the only guardian to whose care

I would commit my whole being,

she who empowers me to make myself at home

in the mightiest of cities

most awe-inspiring,

she who enables me to relish

the Big Apple to the fullest,

frees me of fear when at its beaches,

its parks, its avenues, and squares,

at its stations grand, small, and modest,

in office, store, restaurant, and classroom,

she who fills me with fearlessness

when down deep in its big belly,

among the terrible snakes of B.M.T.s and I.R.T.s lying still or running,

not far from the treacherous serpent

disguised as the Third Rail.

She knows all,

and yet this angel,

this guardian angel,

can see no farther after all

 

than those who designed the feathered arrow

and took time off to rest,

and watched a dream the fall of albatross,

or than those who engender,

just to gaze spellbound,

that device, wondrous and beastly,

which travels far and fast

to bust the kidneys and bladders of continence.

 

Both she and they are cause-conscious,

both consequence-blind

in their calculations and traffickings

except when the shrewd inventors

are in the custody of cup or bottle:

 

Then in all fairness they do hold an edge,

a decisive edge over her,

for they can tell, she can’t I think,

the compelling if serpentine link

between first blush and crucial kiss,

between, pardon the impropriety, guzzle and piss—

the kind of chain least on a Seeing Eye’s mind.

Reja-e Busailah was born in Jerusalem and now lives in Indiana, U.S. He has been totally blind since infancy, from before the end of his first year. He has published poems in a variety of little magazines on different subjects. This poem is from a collection of poems, Poems Out of Sight, which he hopes to publish in the near future. Reja-e also in the process of having a memoir about his childhood published within the next few months.

What a Feeling!

16 Sep

by Andrea Kelton

The easel

Holds a painting

Featuring a free-form tree

Under an explosive yellow sun.

 

The artist

Brush in hand

Stands back

Admiring her masterpiece.

 

Satisfaction bubbles

Then

Glee gushes and rushes

Through her four-year-old body.

 

Andrea glows with wonder

At this treasure she’s created.

 

Emotions explode

As she discovers

That

Doing art

Creates bliss.

 

Andrea Kelton was diagnosed with uveitis at 24. Her diverse artistic life included photography and ceramics.  She taught pottery in her own Chicago storefront studio for 15 years.  Andrea attends a memoir writing class taught by author, Beth Finke.

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!

Links

https://bonnieplants.com/library/give-mom-an-herb-garden/

https://bonnieplants.com/library/create-butterfly-bath/

https://www.facebook.com/extensionmastergardener

https://www.facebook.com/nationalgardenbureau/

https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS

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.

Learning to Be a Soldier

19 Apr

by Francesca Marinaro

Every teacher knows the sensation of first-day butterflies, and years of experience notwithstanding, you never fully overcome that performance anxiety. The night before each semester begins, I lie awake battling the questions beating against my brain: “What if everyone drops the course? What if no one shows up? What if they laugh when I mispronounce their names?” yet larger than any other looms the question of how everyone will react when I stride into the room with a guide dog.

This semester, I faced the additional challenge of maneuvering campus with a broken foot and a walker, as if my blindness doesn’t make me conspicuous enough. Since I enlisted a colleague to help me with tasks like carrying my briefcase and opening doors, I wondered how my difficulty, however temporary, would impact the impression I’d convey to my students, many of whom had likely never encountered a blind person. Would they think me somehow inept—my injury related to the perils of navigating the world without sight? (I don’t think blind people injure themselves any more than sighted people do, but I’ve lost track of how many times someone has grabbed my wrist as I descended a flight of stairs under the assumption that I’d fall).

As students filed in, I stood carefully, swiping my clammy palms on my sweater.

“Wow, what happened to your leg?” one curious student asked. When I explained that I’d broken my foot, she observed sympathetically, “It must be so hard for you to get around.”

“It’s not easy,” I admitted. “but I’m managing.”

A thoughtful pause ensued, after which my student announced, “That’s because you’re a soldier.”

In the weeks following my injury, I’d spent hours berating myself for my clumsiness and uselessly asking why this had happened to me. Everything happens for a reason, so the saying goes, but for the life of me, I couldn’t see the greater good at work here. Ironically, I learned the reason courtesy of my admiring student—both the teachable moment my injury offered and, more broadly, that we discover the reason for why events in our lives unfold as they do only when we look beyond ourselves and consider how we can turn our struggles into stories that benefit others. I realized that just by standing at the front of the classroom, I’d given my students a lesson far greater than any my lectures would cover.

My students didn’t see what I feared they’d see: an exhausted, disabled woman. They saw a strong, confident woman who stared an obstacle in the eye and said, “Step aside, please.” They saw someone with the courage to show the world that people with disabilities can and do make productive contributions to society. They saw someone willing to set aside her anxiety to transform her trial into a teachable moment. I realized then that sometimes the greatest gift we can give to our students is our willingness to learn from the lessons they can teach us about ourselves.

 

Francesca Marinaro is an English professor and freelance writer/editor currently living in Florida with her guide dog. She was diagnosed with Leber’s as an infant and lost her usable vision as a teenager. She loves chocolate, Jane Austen, wine, Colin Firth movies, and defending the Oxford comma to anyone who’ll listen. Her work has been published on numerous blogs; visit her website at http://www.ffmarinaro.com to learn more about her work!

Museum Tour

31 Mar

by Stella De Genova

I went out of my comfort zone last week and went to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.  Fellow blogger and published author, Beth Finke also attended and asked if I would like to write a guest piece about our museum day for her Safe & Sound blog.  I did!  And you can read all about it at Blind at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Women’s History Month

17 Mar

by Stella De Genova

Since March is Women’s History Month, we must take a moment to think about and recognize important blind women. Saying that, we will all think of Helen Keller: her strength and fortitude, her struggles as well as her accomplishments.  And of course, her contributions to the blind and deaf community.  But I would suggest that we also take some time to appreciate and sing the praises of blind women that we know of or know personally.  I know blind women who work, volunteer and organize.  I know blind women who take care of families and homes.  And I know blind women who write, paint and sculpt.  They are all courageous, strong and inspiring.  And these women are special, not just because they overcome obstacles.  To me they are special because they do what they do, not for recognition, but out of love for themselves, others and life.  You know who you are – I appreciate you and all you’ve done.  Happy Women’s Month!