Would You Give Up Your Television Set? #Writing Prompt

When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching television, even though I couldn’t see much of what went on unless I sat close to the set. In my teenaged years during the 1970’s, my favorite shows were The Bionic Woman, Little House on the Prairie, The Walton’s, and Dallas. I also enjoyed such situation comedies as Alice, The Jeffersons’, and MASH.

When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me my very own television set. It sat on a table next to the armchair in my bedroom, so I could see it more easily. Although it was a black and white set, it opened a new world for me. I could see what my favorite characters looked like and could take pleasure in watching Lawrence Welk’s dancers perform.

Six months later, Santa brought me a color television set. By that time, I’d become a fan of Star Trek reruns. For the first time, I discovered that Captain Kirk wore a gold shirt. Mr. Spock wore a blue shirt, and everyone else wore red shirts.

When I went away to college, I took my TV set with me and watched in my dorm room when I wasn’t studying or participating in extracurricular activities. But over the years, I developed more of an interest in books than television. When I married my late husband in 2005, I was forced to give up TV altogether. Although we had a set, Bill didn’t watch and didn’t want cable. This was fine with me because by that time, there wasn’t much on television I liked. We watched movies on videotapes, but that was it.

After Bill became incapacitated as a result of his strokes, and we moved to another house that could more easily be made accessible to his wheelchair, we got cable television because it was one way he could tune into his beloved Colorado Rockies games and other sports events that weren’t always available on the radio. I occasionally watched news and other programs, but that was the extent of our television-watching.

After Bill passed, I discontinued the cable service and relegated our television set to the garage. I suppose I could subscribe to NetFlix or some other streaming service I could use on my computer or tablet, but I don’t see the need. I have books, podcasts, and social activities to keep me entertained. There’s nothing on television I need to watch.

How about you? Did you have any favorite television programs when you were growing up? Would you get rid of your television set now? Thanks to blogger Cindi for inspiring this post, and thank you for reading and responding.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Coping with Vision Loss #Thursday Book Feature

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery

by Hannah Fairbairn

Copyright 2019.

 

When you’ve had sight, then lost it, the adjustment process can be difficult. According to her Amazon author page, Hannah Fairbairn lost her sight when she was 33 years old and working as a chef in London. She uses her own experiences plus insights from participants in focus groups at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Massachusetts to provide a short but comprehensive guide to vision loss later in life. Topics include homemaking, mobility, exercise, recreation, and socialization. The book includes resources and references to articles on the author’s website.

Although I’ve been visually impaired since birth, I’ve worked with senior citizens who have lost their vision later in life. So, I was curious as to what advice she would have. Although much of the book didn’t relate to me, I was fascinated by all the tricks she offered. She even gives tips for men on how to use a urinal in a public restroom. I highly recommend this book to seniors and others dealing with vision loss. For those using talking books, it can be downloaded from NLS or obtained through regional libraries.

If Hanna Fairbairn had written a comprehensive guide to being a visually impaired caregiver several years ago, it might have made things easier for me and my late husband. You can read our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, which, along with my latest, The Red Dress, is available absolutely free this week from Smashwords as part of its 11th annual Read an eBook Week sale. Smashwords sells books in a variety of accessible formats that can be read on computers or other devices. Click here to download my books. Thank you for reading.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Concealed Cane #Poetry #Excerpt #Thursday Book Feature

Today, I’m tooting my own horn instead of reviewing someone else’s book. I know. Sometimes, I can be so vain.

I’m pleased to announce that my poem, “Concealed Cane,” which was originally published in my collection, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, now appears in the December 2019 issue of Wordgathering. This online journal features fiction, poetry, essays, book reviews, and interviews by and about disabled people.

Because of the magazine’s move to its new headquarters at Syracuse University, the release of the December 2019 issue was delayed until last week. You can visit the publication here.

The poetry section offers recordings of poets reading their work as well as the text of the poem. My poem is displayed this way. Please click here to read it or listen to a recording of me reading it. Enjoy! Thank you for stopping by.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

Five Favorite Things #Writing Prompt

              1. My Computer. I recently switched screen readers. I’m now using a program called JAWS, which I like a lot better. The software I was using, NVDA, is good, and it’s free. But because of some quirks it was developing, with which I won’t bore you, I was becoming disillusioned with it. So, when I heard that a home annual license for JAWS is $90.00, I figured I could afford that. After trying the demo for a few days, I was sold, especially after seeing how well it works with braille in Microsoft Word.
  1. My braille tablet. This device runs Android 8, and I can do just about anything with it that anyone else can with a smart phone or tablet. This includes word processing, email, surfing the net, reading books, and more. I can also use it as a braille display with my PC.
  2. My Smart Speakers. I have three Amazon Echo devices: one in my bedroom, one in my living room, and one in my office. I primarily use the 3rd generation Echo Dot in my living room with the Audible Clock skill, which plays the Westminster chimes every fifteen minutes, just like the clock we had in our home when I was in high school. On the 2nd generation Echo dot in my bedroom, I’ve programed routines where news broadcasts, weather forecasts, and music are played to start and end my days. My Echo Tap in my office is portable, and I often carry it to my kitchen where I play games with it while eating. I use all three devices for playing music, listening to news and weather and podcasts, adding items to my shopping list, and other tasks.
  3. My Victor Reader Trek. I use this to listen to books, podcasts, music, and Internet radio. It not only plays recorded audiobooks, but I can also hear books in various text file formats with synthesized speech. This device can download books and other material directly from the Web and has a built-in GPS system, which I occasionally use when out walking. It also has a recording feature, which I’ve used to record music and other material for this blog.
  4. Frozen Meals from Schwan. When my husband Bill was alive, he preferred home-cooked meals. Since he could no longer prepare them after his strokes, I had to learn to cook. At the time, we ordered meats and other items from Schwan. Now that he’s gone, I don’t see the sense in doing much cooking just for me. So, I order a lot of ready-made meals I just heat in the oven or microwave. My favorites are macaroni and cheese, lasagna, spaghetti with meat sauce, chicken fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli, and chicken chili with beans. I also like their breaded blue hake, chicken cordon bleu, and various frozen vegetables plus some of their breakfast sandwiches. By the way, you can learn more about me and Bill by reading My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

***

Thanks to Moondance Pages for inspiring this. Now, it’s your turn. What are five of your favorite things? Please tell me about them either in the comment field below or on your own blog with a link to this post. I look forward to reading your responses.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Through the Eyes of Love #Monday Musical Memories

As a teen-ager, when I saw the movie, Ice Castles, and read the book, I was fascinated by the story of a young figure skater who loses all her vision in an accident but returns to the ice. What blew me away was this girl was the same age as me at the time, sixteen, when she started training.

I couldn’t roller skate without holding onto somebody because I was terrified of falling. I’d tried downhill skiing and landed flat on my back. So, I wasn’t about to start ice skating lessons, and I don’t think this had anything to do with my own visual impairment. But it didn’t stop me from enjoying this compelling tale of achieving one’s dream, losing it, then getting back in the game.

In 2005, a month after my late husband Bill, living in Fowler, Colorado, while I was here in Sheridan, Wyoming, proposed to me, this movie’s theme was on a cassette of love songs he sent me for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t know about the impact the book and movie had on me, but I’m pretty sure I told him. The song developed a new significance for me. I’ve always found it amazing that although Bill had no vision, he saw me through the eyes of love.

 

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

TMI Tuesday December 31st 2019

I’m back to end the year with answers to more interesting questions from the TMI Tuesday Blog.

What’s new?

 

Feel free to elaborate.

In 2019 did you

  1. Get a new job? No.
  2. Get a new haircut? No, I’ve gotten several haircuts in the past year, but they’ve always been the same style. I’ve been going to the same beautician for years, and she always remembers how I like my hair. Heaven help me when she retires.
  3. Get a new car? No.
  4. Move? No. I’ve been in the same house for over ten years, and I like it. As long as I don’t need to move, why bother?
  5. Get a new romantic partner? No. I haven’t been romantically involved since my husband passed in 2012, and I doubt I ever will be. You can read more about this in my memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.
  6. Have a kid? No.
  7. Take up a new hobby? No.

In 2020, will you?

  1. Get a new job? No. Why should I? I’ve been content working for myself as a writer for years, and as long as I don’t need the income, why bother?
  2. Get a new car? No. I’m visually impaired, so you don’t want me on the road.
  3. Take a risk? No. I might have when I was younger, but now, I’m set in my ways and prefer my life less complicated.

***

How about you? To join the fun, click here, or you could leave your answers in the comment field below. Happy New Year!

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Silent Night (Fiction)

The day before Christmas, my seven-year-old daughter Hannah was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. I opted to spend CHRISTMAS Day with her. My parents, as they’d done every year since the divorce, had invited Hannah and me to their house for Christmas dinner, but I couldn’t leave my little girl alone in the hospital.

Hannah wasn’t on solid food yet, but a nurse offered to bring me a tray, perhaps realizing it would be difficult for me to navigate to the cafeteria with my limited vision. While Hannah slept, I sat by her bed and enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie. The food was surprisingly good for a hospital.

I said as much to the nurse when she came to collect my tray. “We have a chef now,” she said.  “Of course many of our patients are too sick to appreciate it, but it’s certainly better than the fare we used to serve.”

The little girl in the other bed moaned and then started crying in earnest. I looked over and couldn’t see anyone sitting with her. “Oh, that’s Jessica,” said the nurse in a conspiratorial tone. “Poor kid, she fell out of her neighbor’s treehouse yesterday and broke her leg in three places. She’s in a body cast from her chest to her right foot.”

Hannah must have awakened for she said, “Ou, I guess I won’t complain about my tummy anymore. I’m glad I don’t have a treehouse, and I hope Santa didn’t leave me one.”

I marveled at how sensitive my daughter was. As the nurse went to Jessica and tried to comfort her, I said, “How are you feeling, sweetie?”

“I’m okay, but my tummy still hurts.”

“I thought you weren’t gonna complain about your tummy anymore,” I said, as I ruffled her hair.

Hannah giggled, then winced. “Ouch, Mommy, it hurts more when I laugh.”

“It sounds like you could use some pain medication too,” said the nurse, as she started to leave the room.

“No, it only really hurts when I laugh,” said Hannah.

“Well, in that case, laughter’s the best medicine,” said the nurse. “I’ll be back soon.”

“How old is Jessica?” asked Hannah.

“Oh, I think she’s about your age,” answered the nurse. “I’ll be back in a bit with some medicine for her, and that’ll make her feel better.” With that, she was gone.

Jessica was still sniffling, but it wasn’t as loud as before. “Mommy, you should go sing her a song,” said Hannah. “like you did for me last night when I was really hurting. I’m not hurting as much now, and I think she’s hurting more.”

Years earlier, I’d worked as a registered music therapist. That was before Hannah was born, before I’d started losing my vision, before my world changed. My husband hadn’t wanted a child but was resigned to the idea once he learned I was pregnant. The vision loss after Hannah’s birth was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fortunately, he paid plenty of child support. That, along with my disability payments, allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom, and once I learned to use a computer with screen reading and magnification software, I brought in a little income from freelance writing.

Now, I looked over at the little girl in the other bed. My specialty as a music therapist had been with elderly nursing home residents, not hospitalized children. I hadn’t even done a clinical practicum with that population. I remembered bed-ridden residents who smiled and relaxed when I sat by their beds, held their hands, and sang. I even performed at some of their funerals. The fact that my singing in the emergency room the night before had calmed Hannah made me think that perhaps I hadn’t lost my touch. I rose and pulled my chair next to the other bed, where I sat and took the child’s hand that lay on top of the white sheet covering her.

“Hi Jessica,” I said. “I’m Joan. My little girl Hannah is in the other bed. What’s wrong?”

“My leg really hurts,” she answered. “I’ll never play in that stupid treehouse again.”

“That’s too bad,” I said, stroking her hair. “Would you  like to sing a song with me?”

“Will that make the pain go away?” she asked.

“It’ll take your mind off of it. What’s your favorite Christmas song?”

She was quiet for a minute, then said, “I like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

“All right, let’s sing it together, shall we?”

I started, and soon, she joined in, followed by Hannah. When we finished that song, Jessica suggested “Jingle Bells,” then “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The nurse appeared and said, “What lovely singing. Jessica, I have some medicine that will make you feel better. I’m going to put it in your IV now.”

As she started to do this, I said, “Why don’t we sing one more song?”

“I want to hear you sing something by yourself,” said Jessica. “You have a pretty voice, and so did my mommy. She used to sing to me at night before I went to sleep.” A wistful look crossed her face.

“Why doesn’t she sing to you anymore?” I asked.

“She was killed in a car accident a few months ago,” she answered. A tear rolled down her cheek.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry,” I said, as I stroked her hair. Tears welled in my own eyes.

Holding them back, I said, “What song did your mom like to sing to you this time of year?”

“‘Silent Night,'” she answered.

“Yeah, sing that one, Mom,” said Hannah.

I took a deep breath and began. To my surprise, the nurse joined in, singing alto. Our two voices blending together in harmony was almost too much, but I managed to continue.

As we started the second verse, I sensed a presence at my side and turned to see a man standing there. “Daddy!” Jessica said, her eyes wide with delight.

“Hey princess,” he said, reaching over me and ruffling her hair. Then he said, “oh, don’t stop singing on my account. It’s beautiful.”

His voice broke, and it was all I could do to keep from losing it. We started the song where we’d left off and finished the second verse. To break the spell, I turned to the nurse and said, “You and I need to talk. I sing in a women’s group that could use an extra voice.”

“Wow, that sounds interesting,” she said. “You also have a nice voice. I need to see to other patients, but I’ll come back later after my shift, and you can tell me more about it.” She turned and started to leave the room.

Jessica’s father put a hand on my shoulder and said, “You and I also need to talk. It’s only been two months since I lost my wife, and I never dreamed I’d say this to another woman, but could I buy you a cup of coffee, maybe in the cafeteria?”

From the doorway, the nurse said, “Our coffee here isn’t as good as the food. Why don’t you two go across the street to Starbuck’s?”

We hesitated. “Your kids will be fine,” she said. “They’re both out of the woods. I have your cell numbers in their charts. If anything drastic happens, I’ll call you. Joan, you’ve been here all day. You need a break. Go!” With that, she was gone.

I looked at this stranger, not knowing what to think. Finally, I said, “I’ve been divorced for about six years. I’m losing my vision, and I never imagined another man would ask me out for coffee.”

I expected him to back away, but instead, he said, “Any man not interested in you is a fool. You’re a beautiful woman. You’re good with kids, and you have a lovely voice.”

Flabbergasted, I said, “You just got here. Don’t you want to spend some time with Jessica?”

Jessica said, “I’m okay.  My leg doesn’t hurt so much now that the nurse gave me some medicine in my IV. Daddy, Joan could make you happy like Mommy did.”

“Yeah,” said Hannah. “Mom, I think this guy could make you happy like Daddy did.”

Jessica’s father laughed and said, “I think these two, along with that nurse, are trying to play matchmaker.” He extended his hand. “By the way, I’m Don Gray.”

“Joan Clark,” I said, taking his hand and shaking it.

Still uncertain, I turned to Hannah and said, “Honey, don’t you remember what I’ve told you about not going off with a stranger?”

“Yeah, but he’s not a stranger. He’s Jessica’s dad.”

“She’s got a point,” said Don.

“My dad told me not to go off with a stranger too,” said Jessica. “but he’s okay. He’s been really sad since Mom died.”

I could feel my heart melting as more tears threatened. “Jessica and I could sing another song,” said Hannah. “How about 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?”

“Yeah,” said Jessica. She started the song, and Hannah joined in. Laughing, we both made our way out the door.

“Do you need to take my arm?” Don asked.

“Yes, please,” I answered, realizing I’d left my cane in the room. As I grasped his muscular arm and walked with him down the hall, I had a good feeling about this.

 

THE END

 

Note: the above story was published in the fall/winter 2018-2019 issue of Magnets and Ladders and is my contribution to blogger Stevie Turner’s Share Your Short Story Contest for this month. It has been published in this month’s issue of The Writer’s Grapevine. Please click below to hear me sing the song referenced in the story.

 

Silent Night

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.