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The Blind Post classified news
From and for the blind and visually impaired.
October 12, 2020
Current subscribers to date: 1,201
If you no longer wish to receive emails from the Blind Post news, you can unsubscribe by sending an email to:
Contents for this month’s issue:
Special feature- AIRA INTRODUCES THE 10 + 10 WAY TO GET ORGANIZED.
From the editor, by Lori Motis.
New and used.
Wanted, to trade, or to give away.
Services and training.
Business and employment opportunities.
This month’s articles:
A white cane day/memorial poem- by my friend.
Blind man walking- Internal fitness by Joshua Loya.
Living with low vision- Games People Play by Donna Williams.
Tips and tidbits from the Food Lady- recipes and info.
Uplift, inspirational!- You Are Not Your Own by Ruth.
Driving Miss Donna- “The Opposite of Help” By Lynn Anderson.
Blind people talking- My Friend Sharon and Me and a Vampire Too By Donna Kimball.
Other important info:
How to post and pay for an ad or announcement,
2020 word counts and costs.
What can you post to the Blind Post?
Subscriptions to the Blind Post.
AIRA INTRODUCES THE 10 + 10 WAY TO GET ORGANIZED
Everyone could use a little more organization in their lives and now two of the best tools for efficiency come together to give it to you. Aira, the top visual interpreting service, with trained professional agents and a secure platform, teams with Way Around, maker of the versatile Way Tag NFC labeling system.
You can find WayAround products at http://www.wayaround.com.
Use the coupon code Aira and get 10% off your purchase.
When you’re ready to set up your Way tags, just show your Aira Agent the tag and let them know you want to take advantage of the 10 + 10 promo. You’ll get 10 free minutes per day. Any information you want about whatever you’re labeling can be written by an agent and emailed to you. With a quick cut and paste into the WayAround app, you’ve got a secure label that you can edit and reuse any time you want.
10 + 10. It’s the best match since chocolate and peanut butter. Great people and great products, Aira and WayAround.
Watch our Partner Special here to learn more about WayAround and Aira.
What can you do when using the 10 + 10 promo?
• Get information about an item to label, including washing instructions, dosage schedules, ingredients and much more.
• Receive descriptive information via email from your agent to cut and paste into in the WayAround app.
What’s not included?
• Purchasing Way Tags.
• Looking up information about WayAround.
• Shopping for fasteners such as rubber/silicon bands to use with the tags.
How do you find the 10 + 10 promo?
In the US, you can shop directly from the WayAround web site or through one of WayAround’s distributors. This offer is also good through distributors In Canada and the UK. Please check with distributors in Australia and New Zealand for availability.
To find the promo in the Aira app, tap on “Access a free offer” on the home screen. Select Products from the offer categories. Then select the WayAround offer.
Note: In order to take advantage of this promo, you must physically show your agent a WayAround tag and have specific tasks related to the tags, such as obtaining information about the item to be labeled.
We hope you enjoy using Aira and WayAround to make your life more accessible.
Your Aira Team
From the editor:
Fall is now here in Southwest Idaho. The leaves have started to drop. We have so many leaves at our home each year. For whatever reason, our small yard seems to fill up with everyone’s leaves. We have lots of trees, but the way the wind blows our lawn ends up with our neighbors leaves as well as the nearby trees on the golf course. Our garbage service just started offering compost waste service and we ordered the 95-gallon cart. We will more than likely fill it full each week over the next three months.
I hope everyone is well and settling in for the fall/winter season. What a year this has been, and it is not over yet. Hopefully by the next issue we will know who our president will be after our November third election. My husband and I are planning to vote in person so we can vote independently using the accessible voting machine. Maybe one day there will be a way we can all vote online with a secure protected ballot for each registered voter.
This month we have plenty of great notices and the articles are most excellent. I have enjoyed reading them and I know you will too.
Please be safe and I hope we all stay well!
God bless you all,
Lori AKA Food Lady
Publisher & editor of the Blind Post classified news.
A great place to share and sell!
Have you ever wanted to post a time sensitive announcement or several notices before the next month’s Blind Post classified news edition?
Now you can. If you have ads or announcements that are time sensitive, or just have several items, then you can include them in a special Blind Post Extra Extra edition. The word count costs are the same as the monthly news, but not free notices. This works best when you might have more than one item for sale, notice for an event, or a special class or training that is of interest to the blind and low vision community.
It will go out to all Blind Post subscribers within one day of approval.
Email foodlady your submissions and I will let you know if it is suitable and what the cost is.
New and used:
Calling all you braille labeling wizards,
tired of spending countless hours labeling all the items in your house in braille then later finding random labels curled up on the floor? Well, if this is something you experience, keep reading.
My name is Brittany and I have been selling labeling tape for years through my small business, D&B Accessibility. My tape is durable and will last way longer than the other tapes commonly purchased from popular online companies.
This tape is clear, 1/2 inch high, and comes in lengths of 144 inches or twelve feet. It is made with a high-quality adhesive and works in labeling guns and slates.
I am running a special to help bring in the holiday season. Until November 1st, get one roll of tape for just $5 or get three rolls of tape for $13. I
know this may seem expensive, but prices do include shipping in the United States and I offer a money back guarantee.
Message me today to place an order:
Thanks and happy fall,
LIGHTING THE DARKNESS
Nonfiction by Frederick J. M. Kamara (C 2020)
In e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers
E-book: $4.99 / Print: $12.50 / 260 pages in print
Born in 1946 in a village in Africa, in Sierra Leone, I grew up as a blind child. I went on to earn a B.A. in Sierra Leone and then master’s degrees in
the U.K. and the U.S., as well as rising quite high in the civil service of my home country. I am proud to have been a trailblazer for blind children
in particular, and for children and young persons with disabilities in general, in Sierra Leone.
I fled Sierra Leone in 1997 because of the bloody coup d’état there. I was fortunate enough to be evacuated by American Marines with the help of my younger
brother, Bob, an American citizen. Bob passed away on January 1, 2009. I dedicate this book to his memory.
For the cover image, longer synopsis, author bio, photographs of the author, contact information, and buying links, see
Cover art by Marco Conteh
braille writer and dust cover
I have a newly cleaned and lubricated classic Perkins braille writer. The braille writer works great and looks good. I would like $375 for the braille writer and dust cover.
This would include United parcel service shipping. Reply by email at
or by phone at 386-846-1325 if you are interested. I accept many forms of payment including PayPal, Apple Pay, personal check and credit card.
DannyBoy Portable Device Stand
Works great with iPhone or any device with camera.
The Dannyboy Legal is now Shipping!
DannyBoy Legal Portable Smart Phone & Device Stand
$44.99 & Free Shipping*!
DannyBoy Stands Ship Free Matter for the Blind
Read About the DannyBoy Online at:
What hangs upside-down and goes tap, tap, tap in the night? Our Halloween bat cane charm!
This creepy lurker says "boo!" in braille. With black beads and a jack-o-lantern charm, he’s truly terrifying! Just $20. Shop the Elegant Insights Charmed by the Holidays collection here:
or call 702-605-1265.
Scentsy’s Holiday Collection products are now available while supplies last.
New warmers for the season and special holiday fragrances in Scentsy Bars,
PODs, Clean Bundle, Fragrance Flowers and Sugar Scrub and so much more.
Contact Nini Urschel, Independent Scentsy Consultant, 916-206-1151,
Wrap yourself in a memory with my photo blanket.
That special grandchild, your children, or that beloved past pet.
Send us your favorite photos and we can have them printed on a blanket, tote bag or mug. Let’s make it fun to see what you can create.
Call us at 409-333-0432 or email
On November 22, 2020, I will be having a Mary Kay virtual party on Zoom.
If you are interested, please let me know. You can email me at
The party will be a conference call.
Apple iPhone XR, Sony active noise canceling true wireless bluetooth earbuds with charging case, Rainsong weather proof graphite acoustic/electric guitar, G and L bass guitar, MusicMan JP15 John
Petrucci signature electric guitar, and Ibanez Prestige electric
guitar. Please inquire for more details! E-mail:
Wanted, to trade or give away:
Chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card by completing survey
A friend and I are gathering data for a book entitled “Creating Authentic Disabled Characters” that we’re co-authoring. Feedback is greatly appreciated!
Do you want a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card? Are you disabled? If your answer is YES, then please fill out our survey.
All questions are voluntary except for email which will only be used to contact you if you win.
Complete the survey and possibly win a $20 Amazon gift card.
All responses are anonymous.
Answers may be edited for length and clarity.
Survey ends 12/18/20, drawing held on 12/31/20.
Eyes on success shows and podcasts:
2040 Non-Visual Theater (Sep. 30, 2020)
Mack Gordon, artistic producer of Theatre in the Dark, describes how the group has turned lemons into lemonade despite being unable to hold public performances due to the pandemic. Hosts Nancy and Peter Torpey talk with Mack about their upcoming live virtual audio-only presentation of “War of the Worlds” and how you can join in this evening of creative theater.
2038 Race and Blindness (Sep. 16, 2020)
Anil Lewis is the executive director of blindness initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind. He says that “Being Black Helped Me Be Blind and Being Blind Helped Me Understand that #BlackLivesMatter.” Hosts Nancy and Peter Torpey talk with Anil about his experiences as a blind person of color and how those experiences affected his life and ambitions.
Go to www.EyesOnsuccess.net
to find a full, searchable archive of nearly 500 episodes on nearly any topic or subscribe to the podcast if you don’t want to miss an episode!
You can listen on your Amazon or Google smart home device by saying “play Eyes On Success podcast”, and to listen to previous shows, just ask to go back or play previous episode.
Services and training.
Are you interested in guitar lessons? Original music or backing tracks? Do you need audio editing, or, help putting together a podcast
or other audio project? If so, drop me an e-mail so we can discuss
your needs and how I can help you! E-mail:
Business and employment opportunities:
A white cane day/memorial poem by my friend
I thought I would write a White Cane Day poem. I think it came out more of a Mother’s Day poem.
Miracle in my mind.
Memories of loving sights.
I’m cozy at two in mom’s lap.
The window is so cold.
No words to describe surreal.
I stop blabbering and mimic.
Her lips are on my ear.
Her warm heartbeat on my back.
Say snow, say snow, say snow, she says.
Sixty eight years later.
At the age of seventy.
I recall that blanket of snow.
My first friend in the world.
Witness to my life events.
All the while my security.
Through attempts at crawling.
Walking, running, and biking.
With each passing day I grew blind.
The end finally came.
That medical prediction.
My lights were sure to flicker out.
Then I met my new friend.
It felt so awkward at first.
No cozy feeling or heartbeat.
Scrapes bruises and frustration.
Then one day a revelation.
Friends always stay with you.
There to watch you reach the stars.
My best friend learned to fly last month.
Thanks Lord for my second.
Blind Man walking
By Joshua Loya
“The struggle makes us stronger.” “Teamwork makes a dream work.” “God doesn’t make mistakes, and God made you. What’s that tell you?”
All of these sayings are powerful and meaningful. They certainly have been to me. I’ve even used them from time to time when attempting to encourage others. I think affirmations like this can be helpful. The thing is, no affirmation will help without a genuine love for ourselves. This requires practice.
Love is not merely an emotion. Love is a thing we do. Anything we do we can become better at doing. Exercise is a clean example. Fitness is not a static state. If that was the case, athletes would never get faster, strong, more fluid in their movements, or more able to effectively leverage their fitness in winning games or contests.
Take lifting weights, for example. The iconic exercise of the bench press is intimidating for a lot of people who don’t work out. When you start, you’ll often start with a barbell with no weight plates added to it. It’s common for barbells to be 40 pounds, but they make lighter ones as well. If you do 3 reps of 10 to 12 repetitions, 3 days a week, you will notice the weight get considerably easier to lift after the third week. At this point, you may be ready to add more weight to your lift. Don’t be surprised if you need to drop down the number of repetitions per set of 10. Gradually, you will build back up to 10 to 12 repetitions. Congratulations! You are now stronger. You can still keep going.
Something that I personally find equally as intimidating as a bench press is the habit of writing a self love letter. I recently had Angi Sanders on my podcast. Angi was at one point so heavy (as in upwards of 500 pounds), that her doctor actually told her to go to a feed store to use one of their scales because she was too heavy for any of the scales usually designed to weigh humans. Angi’s story is powerful, and she is much healthier now. All of that to make sure I give credit to Angi for the idea of a self love letter.
Every day, Angi writes a letter to herself sharing that she loves herself, why she loves herself, or what aspects of herself are worthy of love. Angi is an incredibly kind and generous person, and I have no doubt that loving herself more on purpose by this practice of writing self love letters, feeding her body what it needs, and using her mind and body to do good has helped her become even more so.
When asked about what to do when attempting this practice for the first time, Angi said just to start. Even if you just write a simple letter to yourself with a single sentence, “I love you.”, it’s a start. I would continue to make the comparison between this self love, or internal fitness (my words), and external fitness such as lifting weights, running, or yoga practice. You are not going to become a champion power lifter, a marathon runner, or a human pretzel overnight. Similarly, learning to love yourself is an ongoing skill.
This practice of loving myself is a challenging one. I struggle with it a lot, and I have done so especially during most of this year. I want to get stronger on the inside, and so I am committing to the following. I hope you’ll join me. I plan to write a self love letter every single day from now until the end of 2020. The only rules are that I must write something, and that something must be positive. For me, even if all I can write is “I love you.”, that counts as done. Please join with me in attempting this experiment. What type of positive change can we see ripple out from our own lives when we learn to love ourselves? I think it might help us love each other a more consistently as well.
If you’d like to join me in this practice, please send me an email at Joshua
. That’s the most up to date email for me. You don’t have to share your self love letters with me, but you are welcome to do so.
Thank you for reading my articles all these years. I know of them have been better than others. The time you invest in reading what I have written is appreciated because I know that is time you cannot get back. I hope you find this month’s article worth your time. Aloha my friends.
Living with low vision
Games People Play
By Donna Williams
For the past few weeks I’ve been playing a game with myself called would you rather. In case you aren’t familiar with how it’s played here are the rules. The individual playing is given 2 scenarios and has to choose from one. In this real life version I have completed 3 rounds and the results are still pending in some cases.
In round 1 the question was would you rather go visit a friend and risk the possibility of being exposed to covid or would you rather stay home and miss out on a nice time but avoid the stress of worrying about getting sick? I chose to go to my friend’s house. We did have a nice dinner but it wasn’t as straightforward as it seems. First off my friend and I have different views regarding safety and this stupid corona virus. I take every precaution I can while out in public while he and his brother only take steps to minimize exposure when they are forced to. Now you can understand why I was initially worried about getting sick if I accepted their dinner invitation. My friend loves to cook for others and offered to make me a meal but this I declined. I told him if I were to come over there were guidelines we would have to observe. He grudgingly agreed when I told him what they were. 1. No hugging. 2. We would need to socially distance while eating. 3. Every effort to have more ventilation should be utilized. During dinner we all sat spaced out. My friend and his brother sat a little closer to one another but they live together and do it every day so I wasn’t worried about how they conducted themselves. I sat way across the room from both of them and enjoyed the meal we had delivered. As we were eating my friend’s brother began to cough. This is not unusual. He has had a cough for about a year or so and does nothing about it. However with covid around I took quick action. Because I was in the middle of my meal and didn’t want to stop and pull out my mask I quickly threw a napkin over my sandwich and covered my nose and mouth with my other hand. I sat like that until the coughing spell subsided. Then I hastily finished eating. After which I put my mask on. Two days later when my friend and I were talking he informed me that he had a high fever, chills, and had no ability to smell or taste. I suggested that he might want to get tested for covid but he refused. What did all this mean for me? You guessed it! Quarantine. Suddenly all the plans I made for running errands and taking care of business had to be put on hold. I took my temperature every day for 14 days and I’m happy to report that I remained healthy during my isolation. And who knows I could have been the culprit because 3 days after my friend got sick his brother had his temperature taken before being transported to the doctor and he was told he had a fever of 102. I learned later though that the person taking his temperature did it while they were both standing in the sun. Well, duh, if you use a thermal thermometer to do that you’re going to get a high reading so I’m not sure my friend’s brother actually had a fever.
In round 2 I had to deal with several scenarios and questions. Would you rather vote by mail or go to the polls? If voting by mail would you rather attempt to fill out your ballot using your CCTV or have someone help you do it? Then another option was given. It seems as though there might be an accessible online ballot that I can fill out. That raises additional questions. Would I rather use my old less secure but easier to navigate computer or my newer and more secure but fickle option? This election is crucial and all these questions I’ve posed are pretty weighty so I need to take time to answer them. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to share about voting next month.
In round 3 I had to grapple with the issue of renewing my photo ID. The question was would you rather get the traditional non-driver’s photo ID or would you want to get a /real ID? I did the research and determined that I could probably just stick with the one I have now however there is going to come a time when boarding a domestic flight will require me to have a Real ID. I’m not sure if I’ll ever fly again in my lifetime but I have a lot more living to do so who knows. One issue I might have is the plane engine being too loud and having an episode as a result. This leads me to believe I probably won’t travel anywhere that I’d need to fly. Despite this I decided to get a Real ID card. I got my documents together and went to the DMV. Because they were closed for a while due to covid they are still playing catch up. This resulted in a long line. Even though we arrived early in the morning there was still going to be a long wait. We had been in line for about 10 minutes when a woman came out and informed everyone that if they were 60 or older they could follow her. The woman must have given my mom a look because she indicated that she met that criteria but I didn’t. The woman told her to follow anyway. This resulted in us ending up in a shorter line. Before I knew it I was being ushered into the building. The woman looked at my documents and gave my mom a clipboard with forms on it. She said we could go into the waiting area but my mom needed to stand behind my chair. I wondered how we were supposed to communicate privately in this position. My mom did not listen to her instructions. Instead she stood next to my chair and began filling out the forms. I was soon called to the counter where I had to sign in so many places I felt like I was signing my life away. Then I had my picture taken. Now I will be waiting for 2 things to come in the mail. My mail in ballot and my brand new shiny Real ID. I’m also waiting for someone from the county to call me back regarding my accessible ballot option.
In the meantime I’ve been complimented on the pumpkin face hanging on my door and I’ve bought a lot of Halloween candy, for myself that is. Lol. As we celebrate at the end of this month I hope your Halloween will be filled with many treats and no tricks.
I’d love hearing from you. Feel free to write me at:
Tips and tidbits from the Food Lady
This month: Amazon customer service, egg bite recipe the silicone mold I used with my Instant Pot for the recipe, and an easy oven baked chicken breast recipe.
Amazon Disability Customer Support line
Call our Disability Customer Support line, reach us directly at 1-888-283-1678.
My husband and I have called and received wonderful help with many of our Amazon orders. They can describe items, tell you the size and color choices and do almost anything with your order except check you out. You need to sign into your account and finish the order process yourself.
The customer reps have assisted both of us with many of our purchases especially with clothing items. You will be pleasantly surprised how helpful they are. Just ask. Also I have heard that if you have an item that is a free return, you can call and have UPS come to your home to pick up your item. I have not personally done this yet. It is nice to know about.
Prime Day is October 13-14
Instant Pot Egg bites
• 4 eggs
• ½ cup Monterey jack cheese shredded
• ½ cup cottage cheese
• 1 green onion chopped
• ½ roasted red pepper chopped
• ¼ cup spinach chopped
1.Add 1 cup water to Instant Pot inner pot liner and place the trivet (that came with your Instant Pot) inside.
2.Add eggs, monterey jack, and cottage cheese to a blender and process until smooth (about 30 seconds). Add green onion, red pepper and spinach and give it a quick pulse to combine.
3.Divide the egg mixture evenly between the compartments of the silicone mold, tightly cover with aluminum foil.
4.Lower the silicone mold into the Instant Pot. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, but with the 6-quart Instant Pot, it fit perfectly.
5.Place the lid on the Instant Pot and be sure that the vent is set to sealing. Press the STEAM button and set the timer to 10 minutes. It will take about 5 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to full pressure, then the display will show a countdown timer.
6.Once the cooking time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for ten minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
7. Allow to cool for few minutes and then enjoy.
These Instant Pot Sous Vide Egg Bites can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Microwave for 30 seconds when ready to eat. They can also be frozen and reheated in the microwave for 1 ½ – 2 minutes.
Amazon carries the following mold that Food Lady owns and has used.
Aozita Silicone Egg Bites Molds for Instant Pot Accessories – Fits Instant Pot 5,6,8 qt Pressure Cooker, Reusable Storage Container and Freezer Tray with
Lid, Sous Vide Egg Poacher
• Made from high quality food grade silicone, durable for daily use
• The diameter of the mold is 8.25 inch, it fits perfectly in 5/6 qt or 8 qt instant pot
• Tray and lid can be used in the freezer, tray is also microwave and oven safe
• Easy to clean, quick release, hand wash recommended
• Save yourself time with this soft, bendable tray by preparing food in advance
Easy oven baked chicken breast recipe
I made this the other night, and they came out great with leftovers that we used in a chicken salad the next day.
Four boneless skinless chicken breast, medium size, not too large.
Extra virgin olive oil to coat the chicken breasts.
Seasonings of your choice, I used sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and basil.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse off the chicken breasts under cold water.
Set them on a plate.
In a small dish mix in your seasonings, enough to have a pinch or so for each piece of chicken.
Coat each chicken breast with the olive oil.
Rub the seasonings on both sides of each piece of chicken.
Place on a shallow baking pan and place in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
Use a thermometer to make sure each piece of chicken is at least 165 degrees when tested in the middle. I let mine set for a couple of minutes before testing the temperature. If they do not reach 165 or more degrees, put them back in the oven for about five more minutes.
Let them set for five minutes before slicing into them.
The salad we made the next day was the leftover chicken chopped and mixed with chopped tomato, green onion, celery, and spring mix baby lettuce and Bolthouse yogurt ranch dressing. It was delicious.
Uplift, inspirational articles from Ruth
You Are Not Your Own
By Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest”
“Do you not know that … you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
“There is no such thing as a private life, or a place to hide in this world, for a man or woman who is intimately aware of and shares in the sufferings
of Jesus Christ. God divides the private life of His saints and makes it a highway for the world on one hand and for Himself on the other. No human being
can stand that unless he is identified with Jesus Christ. We are not sanctified for ourselves. We are called into intimacy with the gospel, and things
happen that appear to have nothing to do with us. But God is getting us into fellowship with Himself. Let Him have His way. If you refuse, you will be
of no value to God in His redemptive work in the world, but will be a hindrance and a stumbling block.
The first thing God does is get us grounded on strong reality and truth. He does this until our cares for ourselves individually have been brought into
submission to His way for the purpose of His redemption. Why shouldn’t we experience heartbreak? Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship
with His Son. Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all
the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to
say, “Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.” If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him
for breaking yours?”
Dear Readers, of the Blind Post,
The above article is from “My Utmost for His Highest”. This month it has been a bit difficult for me being sidelined about the constant assault of the
Covid 19 Virus on our fellow Americans and the rest of the world. It is unsettling, to say the least, and at these times I must lean very heavily on the
Powerful Arm of Our LORD and
Savior Jesus Christ. It breaks my heart to think of the many families who have lost a Dear One this year. The numbers of those who have contracted Covid;
and those who have departed this life continues to grow, and every number represents a soul, who was dearly beloved by those left behind. Every number,
once had a name, a thought about what they would do, on the next day, even what favorite food they would like to enjoy. We can not allow the frequency
of these tragedies to numb us into casual indifference. Allow your heart to mourn as you walk with the guidance of His Nailed Scarred Hand.
In Christ I Remain…
Driving Miss Donna
“The Opposite of Help”
by: Lynn Anderson
I love to help and to be of service where I can. It kind of comes second nature to me. If someone needs a ride, I’m usually the one offering to pick them
up. Even before Donna started to lose her vision, I was usually the one driving to various events and did a lot of the driving on our many road trips.
Donna enjoyed driving too, and would take her turn behind the wheel, but she usually just liked to sit back in the passenger seat and enjoy the ride.
As Donna’s vision faded, she was asking me to drive more often even though she still had her driver’s license. It wasn’t an obvious request like, “I can’t
see that well today, would you mind driving?” It was more like, “you go ahead and drive, I just want to watch the scenery.” When the day came that Donna
was no longer driving, even the short distance to the grocery store, it was a rough time for her. I don’t know that I ever truly got it how much she was
struggling with her decision to quit driving, but as time passed, it just became normal that I did all of the driving.
To me, helping out just makes sense. You see a need and you step in and fill it. Simple! Well, maybe not so much when it comes to the blind community.
My first attempt at “helping” came when Donna and I had attended a technology workshop at the location which is now the current Santa Clara office of the
Vista Center. The place was packed out with attendees and the event organizers were trying to get everyone in line to pick up their lunch and get seated
prior to the afternoon sessions. I helped Donna get in line, then noticed that there was a woman kind of standing out in the room looking like she needed
help. Or so I thought! I marched straight up to her, grabbed her arm and helped her get into line. She seemed confused to me, and not all that happy about
being in the lunch line. She was trying to go a different direction and I was trying to reassure her that she was in the right place, when one of the trained
helpers came up in a hurry, gently took her arm and asked her where she wanted to go? Well, I thought, it’s obvious, she wanted to get her lunch, so she
is in the right line! The lady said in a frantic voice, “I’m trying to get to the bathroom!” The trained helper directed her away from the lunch line,
and took her straight to the bathroom. Uh oh, I thought, feeling kind of foolish, I had never asked her where she wanted to go, I just assumed it was the
lunch line. Donna turned to look at me and said, “trained helpers are always provided at all of these events.” “You need to be trained?” I asked, just
beginning to see that there was some wisdom in that. “Uh, yeah,” she said as we continued to get our lunch.
Well, now that I knew everything there was to know about helping after my experience at the event in Santa Clara, I was ready to take on the world, I had
this! OK! Our next event was a technology conference in Palo Alto, and I was set! At this event, another friend had attended with her husband, and she
needed to use the bathroom. Her husband asked me if I would guide her to the ladies’ room, as it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to escort her inside.
Although she is quite proficient using a cane, she had never been in this building before and if I could show her the layout of the bathroom one time,
she would be able to navigate it the rest of the day. The ladies’ room was down a very long corridor from where the event was being held, so I walked with
our friend, explaining to her the twists and turns in the building, where the doors were, and which way they opened and she was using her cane along the
pathway. Once we got to the bathroom door, I helped her open the door and then explained where each of the stall doors were. I did leave out one tiny thing,
however. One of the other ladies in the bathroom had a large guide dog, and he didn’t fit in the stall with his owner, so he was lying in the middle of
the bathroom floor. Our friend went ahead and nearly fell over the guide dog. I grabbed her in time before she fell to the floor, and the dog gave out
a yelp. I said, “oh, look out, someone’s guide dog is in the middle of the floor,” seconds before she tripped over the dog. Our friend was so worried that
she might have hurt the dog, and even after being assured by the dog’s owner that everything was OK, she was shaken. I helped her back out to where her
husband was waiting and explained what had happened. He just smiled at me and said it was all OK, just an accident. Our friend was smiling, but still worried
about the dog. I talked with Donna on the way home from the event and explained what had happened, and she encouraged me to get training if I wanted to
help out at these functions. Well, I thought, maybe that might be a good idea, but I guess I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea.
Over time I was getting better at helping out, still didn’t have any training, but things were starting to come together, mostly from just making errors
and then correcting myself. With Donna’s loss of vision speeding up, and her total loss of depth perception, I was getting better at telling her about
cracks in sidewalks, when steps came up in the pathway and things of that nature. Donna uses a cane, but it is mostly for support as she is mobility challenged.
She can pick out more obstacles as she is walking, but it is very limited. At movies, I got pretty good at describing the action in the scenes, reading
any printing that came up, that kind of thing. I know it was irritating to the people sitting next to us in the movie theater, but Donna wasn’t able to
make out all of what was happening. When our local movie theater got the audio descriptive devices, it was a blessing! Now Donna was able to listen to
what was happening in the movie with special headphones, and she often knew more about what was happening than I did. When she first started using the
audio descriptive headphone, I would still be reading the captions to her and describing the action, and she would just turn and look at me like, “yeah,
I got this!” I got so good at reading everything for a while, that I was even reading to friends and family who didn’t have any vision impairments. My
brother finally had to remind me that I didn’t need to read the movie captions, as he could read them for himself. Oh boy!
My confidence in my ability to help plummeted when Donna and I attended tech training at the Louden Nelson Center in Santa Cruz. Vista Center holds technology
training once a month to help out members and others in the blind community with technology questions and other needs. This particular training was hosting
a vendor with information on phone guided technology and was well attended. After the meeting was over, I was asked to lead a group of the ladies to the
restroom before they headed out on their own for lunch. I got everyone to the restroom safely, but for some reason or other, decided that just getting
to the restroom wasn’t enough. I seemed to believe that I needed to make sure that each woman got safely to wherever they happened to be going after the
training was over. Donna tried to convince me that I didn’t need to do that, as they only asked for help in getting to the bathroom, and after that they
would be fine. I, of course, didn’t listen to her, and as I tried to guide two women out to the street, one lady had a guide dog and the other was using
a cane, I had them so confused that they were very frustrated with me! Again, a trained helper came over to the group and got everything straightened out.
Apparently, both women had been to the center many times, and certainly knew where they were going in downtown Santa Cruz. Uh oh…. What I meant for good
turned out not so good. Donna turned to me and said, “what you’re doing is the opposite of help. You need to get training!” “OK,” I said, but still not
entirely convinced by her words of wisdom.
My “career” as a helper in the blind community was going along somewhat OK, somewhat a mess and somewhat a disaster. It wasn’t until the following event
that I realized that I actually needed training if I was going to help out someone with vision impairment and not get them maimed. Donna and I were at
church with our friend Bevie. We have been giving Bevie a ride to church for a while and I usually acted as her guide. Sometimes Donna would walk with
her to the bathroom, but mostly I was the one tasked with keeping her in one piece as we make our way through the church. This Sunday, church was being
held outside in the redwood grove behind our building, which is a beautiful venue, but full of pitfalls, especially if one is blind, or vision impaired.
I got us all to our seats and settled in, which took a bit of work. But then, as is usually the case with me, I had to go to the bathroom before services.
The bathroom is a long walk out of the redwood grove, across the parking lot, into the building and down another long corridor. Bevie asked me if she could
go with me so that she would be ready for the service. We left Donna behind in the grove, and I guided Bevie to the bathroom. It was a beautiful day, and
we were having a nice walk. Everything went well and we made it safely to the bathroom. All would have been well if I had just returned back to the grove,
but I wanted to into the actual church building and fill up my water bottle before we returned to the redwood grove. I didn’t realize it at the time, but
the entire inside of the church was filled up with bounce houses for the kids who were going to be having a party indoors while the adults were meeting
for church outside. I was moving pretty quickly as we were running out of time, and I swung Bevie around the corner into the sanctuary and smack into a
very large bounce house. I heard this loud, smacking sucking sound as Bevie did a full body plant into that same very large bounce house. “Oh!” I said
startled, “look out for the bounce house!” Bevie started laughing hysterically as she had been so startled by the impact. “Are you OK?” I kept asking,
but she couldn’t stop laughing. I thought for sure that I had seriously injured her, but she seemed fine as she just kept laughing. When we got back to
the redwood grove, Donna asked what had taken so long? By the time we explained the bounce house and all that had happened, Donna just gave me the look.
“You’re right,” I said before she even said anything, “I need to take the training!” Bevie was fine, a little startled, but was still willing to let me
lead her back to the car after church was over.
Luckily for me, and the blind community, Bevie is the President of a ministry called Global Cane Outreach. Her ministry provides canes and training, along
with solar Bibles for blind and visually impaired people in other countries. Along with her team, she has travelled and trained people in over 13 countries.
Also, luckily for me, she was hosting training for her team of volunteers who would be travelling to the Philippines for their latest outreach. I signed
up for the training and learned how to properly help an individual in the blind community. The training took about 4 hours to allow every participant a
chance to practice their skills and I truly had my eyes opened! Probably the biggest thing I learned, is to ask someone if they actually needed any help.
I know, it seems like a pretty basic concept, but just asking someone what they need has actually saved them and me a lot of confusion. Another thing I
learned is to stop helping when I am not one of the assigned helpers at an event. The people at events know what they are doing. They have attended the
meetings, know how the venue is structured and don’t really need the help of someone who doesn’t have a clue what they are doing.
Bevie still rides with Donna and me to church, and I still haven’t lost her or maimed her in any way, which I consider a victory. As time has passed, I
have finally learned how to actually help out!
Blind people talking
My Friend Sharon and Me and a Vampire Too
By: Donna Kimball
On the summer of my 16th Birthday, a very different type of daytime soap opera was premiering. It was described as a gothic soap opera called “Dark Shadows.” I had been a fan of the traditional soap operas, such as “All My Children” and “As the World Turns” in my younger years, but now that I was a cool and hip teenager, I wasn’t that interested in another soap opera. However, being a fan of gothic romance stories and anything gothic for that matter, I had to admit that I was intrigued. After watching the first episode that afternoon after High School, I had to say that I was interested in the storyline, but it didn’t really grab me all that much. I kept watching, however, in hopes that it would improve. It wasn’t however, until several months into the program, that the story took a major turn. They introduced a new character, a vampire named Barnabas Collins. Barnabas was played by Shakespearean actor, Jonathan Frid. His character was originally introduced to add some spice to the new soap opera that wasn’t catching on with viewers as the producers had hoped. The vampire, Barnabas Collins, was going to be a minor character for two weeks, and then removed from the program. To the huge shock, surprise, and delight of the producers of the program, this two-week, temporary character of Barnabas Collins turned into a major hit phenomenon. I was no longer mildly interested in “Dark Shadows” I was completely and utterly hooked! I practically knocked my Mom down as I raced home from school each day and practically threw myself in front of the TV!
Jonathan Frid had accepted the two-week temporary job of portraying Barnabas Collins while at the same time planning to move from New York City back to his native Canada. After his first day on the program, the network switchboards lit up with phone calls from many adoring teenage fans. In days, the studio was flooded with bags of fan mail for Barnabas Collins. The shy, dignified 42-year-old Shakespearean actor then found his picture on the cover of “16 Magazine.” I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was one of the 16-year-old vampire obsessed fans. Within days, my fan appreciation letter joined hundreds arriving in New York City each day. Within a few weeks I received a glossy 8 x 10 autographed photograph of Mr. Frid. I treasured that photo and dreamed of the possibility of travelling to New York City and meeting him in person one day.
Many years later in the mid 1980’s I received a surprise invitation from my friend, Sharon. Sharon, being a major sci-fi fan, had frequently invited me to attend the many sci-fi conventions that she so loved. I tried to understand her desire to dress up as an alien from some strange planet and attend these rather childish affairs, but I felt that I was far above this type of juvenile behavior. After disappointing her many times by saying that I couldn’t possibly attend a convention, she very excitedly and smugly invited me to join one that was being held in San Jose, California. I was ready to once again turn her down, until she explained who the special guest star was. This sci-fi convention touted Jonathan Frid as their special guest star as a nod to the very popular Dark Shadows soap opera of the 1960’s! Even though my adoration of Barnabas Collins had long faded away, I couldn’t believe it when Sharon told me the news. The excitement I had had in the summer of 1966 flared up again at the thought of meeting Jonathan Frid in person and I was hooked! I found out later that he had turned down many invitations to fan conventions because after surviving the trauma of being a teen idol vampire, he never wanted to really hear the name of Barnabas Collins again. His very strict demands to appear in person included not having to wear fangs or vampire clothes and being allowed instead to do some Shakespearean readings.
When the day arrived, I was filled with excitement and nervous anticipation. Sharon had no interest at all in Jonathan Frid. She had only used him as a hook to bring me along. But by the end of the two-day convention, Sharon became a major fan and like me, was hooked! The experience provided two separate personal contacts with Mr. Frid during our attendance at the convention. An hour into the Friday night presentation, during an unexpected power outage in the hotel, we were all instructed to take the stairs down to the street level and exit the hotel. As Sharon and I descended the flights of stairs, we noticed that the man exiting behind us was Jonathan Frid! Being rendered speechless, we could only smile at him and weren’t able to say anything intelligent or witty. I wish I could say that I didn’t blow my second chance to talk with Jonathan Frid, but during that time I was also rendered completely speechless. I was standing in a hallway looking at a dealer’s table of memorabilia for sale. The table wasn’t crowded, and I became irritated as someone kept crowding in beside me. At that point I noticed the man’s hand set down an empty drink glass on the table. As I turned to give him a piece of my mind, I looked up at him and realized it was Jonathan Frid himself! As he gave me a beautiful smile, and a knowing wink, I was once again rendered speechless! He quietly turned and walked away from the table leaving his empty glass behind. Even though my heart was beating out of my chest, I made the unlawful decision to swipe that drink glass, vampire fingerprints and all! When I showed the glass to Sharon later, she was blown away that once again I had had an encounter with Jonathan Frid.
I couldn’t believe that I had actually had a chance to meet Jonathan Frid in person after all of those years of wishing it could happen. At that point in time, I had no idea that two years later, I would have an opportunity to see him again in Newark New Jersey. Mr. Frid had been so honored and pleased at the reception he had gotten in San Jose, that he agreed to make his first personal appearance at an official Dark Shadows fan festival in Newark. Once again, he refused to be portrayed as Barnabas, but would do interviews and several presentations during the three-day festival. Sharon and I, with credit cards in hand, started planning our trip to the East Coast. We decided to take the train instead of flying for two reasons. First, it seemed that travelling to the event in the style of the Dark Shadows era circa the 1800’s was more fitting, and secondly, travelling by train was a lot cheaper, since Amtrak had a special fare at the time!
The train trip was not easy because during the first night of the trip, Sharon became stricken with motion sickness and had to exit the train. I was going to leave with her, but she insisted that I should go on to Newark without her. Back then, there were no cellphones, or other ways to communicate as I travelled on by myself. As I nervously said goodbye to Sharon as she departed the train in Salt Lake City, Utah, she told me she would either head home or if feeling better, meet me in Newark. I enjoyed my time on the train, as I now had the entire compartment to myself and was able to spread out! Although Amtrak sleeping quarters are nice, they are certainly compact! I met other people travelling alone and made some new friends along the way!
Two days later, when I arrived at the hotel in Newark, there had been no word from Sharon. However, two hours after I checked into the room, Sharon showed up. I was relieved and excited to see her! On top of the fact of not wanting to experience the convention alone, Sharon and I had created a special gift for Mr. Frid. Months before the trip commenced, while sitting in the Woolworth’s lunch counter booth in downtown Santa Cruz, I had been inspired to write a poem about Jonathan Frid. The poem flooded out of my mind and in a short 10 minutes, it was completed. When I read the poem to Sharon, she was blown away. A few days later, she suggested that she create the poem in calligraphy, and started in on that project. When she showed me the completed project, it was my turn to be blown away. Not only had she created a 16 x 20 beautiful calligraphy presentation of the poem I had written, there was a very subtly drawn portrait of Jonathan Frid looking out from behind the calligraphy. It was beautiful!
The second day of the convention, Sharon and I stood in line for over three hours to talk with Mr. Frid in the main convention room. He was greeting fans and each person was given a minute or two to talk with him. This time, we were not rendered speechless, because we had practiced our presentation speech. We practiced even more as he came into view, and our time was close. As we handed him the framed artwork, we explained it was a small token of our appreciation for all the pleasure he had given his fans over the years. He was visibly moved when we turned it around so he could see it. Not wanting to hog the time and because the line behind us was lengthy, we started moving ahead to the exit door at the end of the table. As we turned around to look back while exiting, we were delighted to see that Mr. Frid was standing at the table leaning over and watching us leave. He had not even greeted the people who were standing in front of him, as he was obviously very moved by our gift. We had no idea at that time that he would reciprocate with a very special gift for us the last day of the convention.
On Sunday afternoon, the final day of the convention, we once again stood in a very long line to attend a special performance of an original work that Mr. Frid had prepared. We got there so early, we ended up in the fourth row to the far left of the stage. The two rows directly in front of us were roped off for special guests. To our delight, the five seats directly in front of us remained empty. About half-way through Mr. Frid’s two-hour presentation, he began a performance of what he called “pearls from Barnabas.” This was the first time he participated in anything to do with the vampire he had portrayed 20 years earlier. He put on his glasses to read his presentation. At that point, he stopped and pulled his glasses down to the end of his nose to look over them, scanning the room. He stopped with his eyes fixed on Sharon and me! We both stopped breathing. It was obvious he had memorized the entire script because never looking down at the paper, he did the entire performance with his eyes locked on the two of us. With silly smiles frozen on our faces, and our eyes locked on his eyes, I don’t think we were breathing yet. I looked over at Sharon, and she was totally frozen in place, she was so excited, or so I thought! With a silly smile on her face and her teeth gritted, Sharon turned and said under her breath to me, “I really have to pee!” “Don’t you dare move!” I said and then turned my attention back to Mr. Frid. With that room of several hundred people, Mr. Frid had obviously taken the time so he could bless us with that part of his performance for Sharon and me.
We had befriended a man who was filming at the different sections of the convention and during breakfast one day, had asked him if it would be possible to receive a copy of his film. This film did not include Mr. Frid’s performances but had included a tour we took of the mansion location for the TV program, which was filmed in Tarrytown, New York. During our tour of the house and the grounds, we had noticed he had filmed Sharon and I several different times and we were both interested in obtaining a copy of his film. He told us that he was sure he would not be allowed to provide any copies of the film he had taken during the convention because he had a personal relationship with Mr. Frid. We then asked if he would let Mr. Frid know that we were the two ladies who gave him the framed artwork, and ask if it would be OK for us to have a copy of the video. Just after the convention ended late Sunday afternoon, the young man approached us with a smile and said not only could we have the video of our tour of the mansion in Tarrytown, we could also have a film of Mr. Frid’s performance that afternoon as well. I can tell you truly that Sharon and I both have nearly worn out the section of video where Mr. Frid can be seen with glasses pulled down to the end of his nose looking with fixed gaze at two deliriously happy young women as they sat frozen and mesmerized at his wonderful gift.
On top of the delight of his special performance just for us, a month or so later, a personally written note arrived from Mr. Frid once we were back home. He had seen our names signed at the bottom of our artwork, and had gotten our addresses from the convention roster. In his graciously written note, he expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the beautiful artwork and the wonderful words expressed in the poem. He told us in his attempt to be humble, he would place it on a secluded wall in his new Canadian apartment while at the same time thinking of reasons to lead people by it on their way to other rooms.
Never in my wildest dreams as a young teenager, would I have thought that I would have a chance to meet my vampire heartthrob who turned out to be a very gracious, shy and humble Shakespearean actor.
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