Thursday Book Feature: Words of Life

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Words of Life: Essays and Poems

By Ann Chiappetta

Copyright 2019

 

From the author of Upwelling and Follow Your Dog comes a short collection of poetry and prose on family vacations, vision loss, animals, and other topics. It also includes a work of flash fiction. An introduction by the author explains what inspired this compilation.

I met Ann Chiappetta through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities. I like how she writes about the lighter and darker sides of life. My favorite piece is one in which she describes how she rescued two baby sparrows, only one of whom survived, and the hard lesson her eight-year-old son learned from this experience. I recommend this book, which not only provides insight on vision loss but on other negative and positive aspects of life.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Five Firemen

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

How many firefighters does it take to change the batteries in three smoke detectors? Five, at least that’s how many showed up when I called and requested assistance with this task, being visually impaired and vertically challenged. Here in the United States, it’s recommended that we change batteries every six months after moving our clocks forward or backward to conform with daylight savings time.

When the five firemen arrived in their big yellow truck, I welcomed them into my home. One or two of them said they remembered me from the last time I’d called them about this. After replacing batteries in my smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, they offered to do a home safety inspection, which I didn’t think was a bad idea.

They asked me if I use a barbecue grill and about my other cooking habits. I told them that I use the microwave, stove, and oven very carefully and that if I were to use a barbecue grill on a regular basis, they would get a lot more calls to this address.

After the five firemen scoured the house and detached garage, they came up with several recommendations, assuring me these were only suggestions and that they wouldn’t check up on me. I can’t help wondering, though, what would happen if I were to have a fire caused by a clogged outside dryer vent, one of the problems they found. Now that’s scary.

***

Note: the above is my entry for the 2019 Blogger Bash Blog Post Competition. This year’s theme is “five.” If you’re a blogger, there’s still time to enter. Click here for more information.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: Walking by Inner Vision

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Note: This book is on sale this week for 50% off on Smashwords, so this would be a good time to check it out.

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems

by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Copyright 2017

 

This collection starts with a prologue in which the author, who is also an artist, describes how knitting sustained her during difficult times after she lost most of her vision in 2007. The poetry and prose that follow are divided into twelve sections, one for each month of the year. Some pieces reflect the time of year while others discuss the author’s faith in God, nature, art, music, and other topics.

My favorite piece is “A Wintry Tale” because it reminds me of many tumbles I took in the snow when I was younger due to my lack of vision. I believe Lynda was still sighted at the time of this story, so I found that refreshing. My second favorite is “A Pennsylvania Christmas” because it brings back memories of my own childhood Christmases, even though I’ve never received coal in my stocking.

I’ve known Lynda for years through our association with Behind Our Eyes, a not-for-profit organization for writers with disabilities. I’ve always been amazed by how, despite her sight loss, her appreciation of art and nature comes through in her vivid descriptions. Even if you have normal vision, this book will open your eyes, ears, and heart to life’s wonders.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Update, clients, and more

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.As I said yesterday, my friend and fellow blogger Patty Fletcher​ has hit some rough times. Today, things are looking up. However, she is stepping back for a while as a result of not only technical difficulties but her guide dog’s medical issues as well. Until she’s completely back on her feet, I encourage you to look through posts on her blog by the people she represents and share them in an effort to continue promoting who she calls her totally talented clients. I’ll be doing the same from time to time. I thank you, and Patty thanks you.

via Update, clients, and more

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Thursday Book Feature: Homecoming

Homecoming: A Memoir

By David Russell

Copyright 2018.

 

This short memoir is autobiographical in nature, spanning the author’s life from birth till the present. David Russell talks about being born prematurely in the 1950’s and blinded as a result of receiving too much oxygen. He then touches on his life growing up in Michigan, living in a succession of homes, being sent to a public elementary school, then choosing to attend the state school for the blind during his junior and senior high years.

After describing his high school graduation, which occurred in 1970, he shares his experiences attending several colleges over the next decade, describing how he became a registered music therapist, completing a six-month internship at a mental health facility in Georgia. He then touches on his adult years in a variety of locations before finally getting married and settling down.

I liked the author’s description of how he was born and how his parents learned he was blind. For those of us who know that too much oxygen at birth causes blindness, the scene where his parents tell the doctor to do everything he can to save their child and the doctor puts baby David in a crude incubator so he can be transported to another hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit is a good foreshadowing of what’s to come. After that though, the author rushes through his life’s story with little dialog or interaction with others. He provides some detail on his music education, playing the piano for a living in various locations, his college experiences, his internship, and his job working with developmentally challenged clients in Florida, but it’s not enough. His book is divided into two parts with the first being about his life in general and the second being about a specific year in college. This doesn’t make sense.

I would like to have known more. What was it like for him to be mainstreamed in elementary school? Why did he choose to attend the state school for the blind, and why wasn’t he happy there? Having been a registered music therapist myself, I would like to have learned more about his experiences with his in-class practicum, internship, and how his work helped his clients. I realize his theme is “home,” but it doesn’t work. He has an interesting story but doesn’t draw his readers into it.

***

Note: I submitted a portion of this review to Amazon, but they refuse to publish it. Here’s the reasaon I was given via email. “Our data shows elements of your Amazon account match elements of other Amazon accounts reviewing the same product.” I suspect what they actually mean is that they won’t publish the review  because it’s unfavorable. For this reason, I will no longer veview books on Amazon.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: Peanut of Blind Faith Farm

Peanut of Blind Faith Farm: The Heartwarming True Story of a Little Blind Lamb

Written by Jim Thompson

Illustrated by Rebecca Gavney Driscoll

Copyright 2017

 

Although this book was designed for children ages four to nine, I think animal lovers of all ages would find it inspiring. It’s the true story of how a blind lamb became the top sheep in her flock on a farm in Wisconsin. The author describes how he and his wife discovered Peanut was blind and how they helped her adapt to her blindness and surroundings. He also explains how other sheep interacted with Peanut and how he and his wife solved a bullying problem.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Thompson and his wife Laura when they attended a recent meeting of Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities, of which I’m President. Through his experiences with Peanut, he seems to have developed a deep understanding of what it’s like to be blind. As a result, he has ensured that Peanut of Blind Faith Farm is available through the Wisconsin State Library’s Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement program. Laura narrates their recorded version of this book and does an excellent job.

Jim has conducted presentations at schools and other locations and even given a copy of his book in braille to a blind boy who visited his farm. He has a knack for writing about his love of farming and animals, and I hope he will write more about this in the future. Meanwhile, I recommend Peanut of Blind Faith Farm to children of all ages, blind or not.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: No Barriers

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon

by Erik Weihenmayer and Buddy Levy

Copyright 2017

This memoir’s title may be a bit misleading. Erik Weihenmayer doesn’t just talk about his big Grand Canyon adventure but also covers other topics. The book starts with a forward by an American journalist, injured while on assignment overseas, who was inspired by Erik’s work. Erik then touches on his Mount Everest adventure, the subject of a previous book, and how he met his wife and married her on Mount Kilimanjaro. After that, he describes how he led various mountain climbing and river rafting adventures with children and adults who have disabilities. He explains how he formed No Barriers, an organization that empowers people with disabilities through hiking and other activities.

Erik also talks about family struggles: his brother’s battle with alcoholism and subsequent death, the arduous but successful process Erik and his wife went through to adopt a little boy from Nepal, and the child’s struggle to adapt to their way of life, then finding out later his mother was still alive. All this is interspersed with stories of his adventures and finally, how he succeeded in kayaking the Grand Canyon, with its multitude of dangerous rapids. In his epilog, he tells us what became of various children and adults with disabilities whom he helped through his involvement with No Barriers. The recorded version, which I downloaded from the National Library Service’s braille and audio site, and which was produced by McMillon Audio, contains an interview with Erik.

I’m not the adventurous sort, but I always enjoy re-living others’ experiences from the comfort of my recliner, and Erik’s story didn’t disappoint. Members of my regional talking book library’s group chose this book to discuss because they wanted to escape winter and cold weather, but I found myself wrapping my blanket more tightly around me, as I read of Erik and his crew climbing mountains in sub-zero temperatures, so I don’t think this was quite the escape for which they’d hoped. Oh well, sometimes, you don’t really know until you read the book, which has a clear message meant not just for those with disabilities. You should never let barriers, real or imagined, stop you from making dreams come true.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.