December 3, 2020 Deck the Halls. My husband and I have a tradition that we have kept for 24 years. It started when my Mother gave back two child size dolls from my youth. We added three additional large dolls from my Daughter’s collection. Several others were bought at a second-hand stores. They made quite a collection. Our intention was to dress and display them as children doing holiday activities. The dolls have been sledding, cross country skiing, ice skating, and making a snow man.On the front porch a store front display has shown a line up for Santa, lighting the advent wreath, elves making toys and loading Santa’s sled.Each year, I think of a theme and John makes the stage props to make it happen. We have had lighted fireplaces, desks, a real mailbox, a 7 foot lighthouse and a lit ice rink and a winter carousel .The magic of these tacky decorations come alive at night with lighting and seen from traveling cars. For this most unusual holiday, we chose the activity of making cookies. The child size stove is open with a light lighting the cookies being put in to bake. There is a decorated refrigerator next to the stove. four other children are in the process of rolling, decorating and eating cookies. They stand around a kitchen table. Each doll is clad in a bright colored chef apron and hat. Holiday decorations adorn the pink walls . All this in a five by 10 foot space. The idea of offering an activity that the family can enjoy from their cars and then go home to do the baking themselves. Many of our neighbors and friends have decked their homes to entertain the kids, old and young alike. This year with no Christmas parade, virtual visits with Santa and restricting crowds, This is a safe and fun activity.

Deck the hall with many dollies

Fa La La La La La La La La

Making smiles and be jolly

Fa La La La La La La La La

Piling in our cars, we travel

Fa La La Fa La La La La La

To see the lights, with no fear of virus.

Fa La La La La Fa La La La

December 1, 2020 Advent

December 1, 2020 Advent

The word advent means to wait for an event, person or thing. There are many events that we are waiting for this year.

We wait for a vaccine from drug companies. We wait for a treatment that will cut down the mortality of this virus. We hope and wait.

We wait for the new administration to take over in the government. We hope to have economic relief. Looking in the new leaders for guidance.

But the real meaning of advent is not to be a passive waiter. What are we doing to actively welcome the change?

Change starts with putting others before ourselves. Are we trying to stay home as much as possible. This will protect others and slow the virus from spreading.

Wearing masks and changing the masks . The masks wear out and cloth ones must be frequently washed.

Are we concerned with our government to write or call to let our leaders know when they are doing a good job or if they could do better? Our elected officials are human. They could use a kind word as well as criticism.

Finally, we must accept that we can not bring about change by ourselves. We can put the needs of all nations into the power that created the world. whether, you believe in the creation story or the big bang theory. There is a higher power that is waiting for us to open our hearts, just a crack. Be active, be watchful, work to bring about an advent this year.

**********

********

Advent

We are waiting for this advent?

Is it the vaccine to conquer the virus?

Do we long for the end of isolation?

How long must we wait for these things to pass?

Do we hope for a different direction in our government?

Do we want economic relief from bills and rent?

Do we desire a consistent message from our leaders?

Or do we wish to have a baby born long ago,

That spirit to be present in our lives?

What are we doing to make this happen?

Opening our hearts, we can help Advent begin.

James Campbell guest blogger 11/25/2020

Seasons greetings from Odessa, Texas. 

This year has been one of many challenges. Never before in our lifetime have we faced the monumental surge of calamities that has been visited on this nation. 

The year began in the midst of the impeachment debacle, which finally ground to a halt when the Senate refused to convict President Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden. Allegations of corruption swirled around the son of the would-be Democratic nominee in the 2020 election. The Democrats impeached President Trump for threatening to withhold vital foreign aid to Kiev if the investigation didn’t move forward. The Republican majority in the Senate refused to uphold the impeachment by a clear two-thirds majority. The Democrats were disheartened, insisting that the investigation was politically motivated. According to their thinking, this was a smear job by Trump that was designed to discredit Joe Biden  in hopes of ruining his chances for the nomination.  

At the same time, the Coronavirus reared its head, and a worldwide pandemic broke out. In the US, 200000-plus deaths have resulted, and the present surge is pushing hospitals and morgues alike to their limit.  The promised vaccines are months away, and the most dire predictions forecast the worst winter in modern history. 

The initial outbreak led to hoarding and panic purchasing of essential items. By way of reply, stores were forced to ration many necessities: toilet tissue, cleanex, cleaning products, and food. At one point, meat prices went to all-time highs, as crops rotted in the fields because farmers couldn’t get the crops to market. Estimates of the number of hungry Americans range to 54000000

Stores closed as the nation went into lockdown. Restrictions on the number of customers that could occupy businesses at one time were put in place, mask mandates were in force in many communities, and many of these edicts are still active today. 

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers murdered George Floyd by placing a knee on his neck and holding it in that position for eight minutes while he pleaded for one more breath. The outcome was an escalating insurrection in the streets as  blacks rioted, and proceeded to set up autonomous zones in some municipalities  In some cases, citizens armed themselves in order to protect their lives and property. The left is calling for the police to be defunded, while simultaneously crying out for stricter gun laws. The panic among the population has increased accordingly due to the circumstances that have been created by the lawlessness and lack of police action that are the end product.  

To top it off, the election of 2020 is still in question, with President Trump refusing to concede in light of allegations that the election was rigged. No one can predict how this will turn out, the Trump White House is still contesting the final results  in court, with conservative pundits backing President Trump to the finish line. 

And yet, adversity has brought out the best in many people. All across the land, first responders are going the extra mile to save lives as the death rate climbs. My cousin and her husband are  among those. 

Food banks are doing their part to feed the needy, and charities of all kinds are raising money to assist in that effort. Entertainers are getting in on the action. Any number of celebrities from rock groups to movie stars are doing their part to help in these troubled times. If nothing else, many are encouraging their fans to follow the present guidelines in order to bring the pestilence under control.  

In Odessa, our local United supermarkets are going beyond the call of duty. They have a segment on the local news called, “Tell Me Something Good,” which promotes positive actions and random kindness in our community and the surrounding area.  

On a personal note, Aunt Sue is making progress in her recovery from her fall on October 16th. Her arm is healing nicely; we will know more after her doctor’s visit this coming Tuesday

We will spend Thanksgiving by ourselves This year; United is providing the meal.  Cousin Courtney and her new husband Stephen must work that day. Eric’s family will have the kids for Thanksgiving.  

The sun is still shining, and we are still among the living. We will give thanks for what we have, as we pray for those who are less fortunate, But there  for the grace of a higher power go we. 

Best wishes and blessings from the Campbell family, James R. Campbell, Caronita Sue Campbell, and pets, puppy dog Copper and Kitty Cat Milly. 

As always, Thanks for your time, 

With Loving Kindness, 

James R. Campbell

Campbelljamesr1968@gmail.com

November 26, 2020 Being Thankful

Being Thankful November 24, 2020
A couple of days ago, a fellow writer, James Campbell, wrote an essay. It reminded readers that the year 2020 started with impeachment proceedings, accusations of wrong doing by Hunter Biden and finally economic disruptions and life loss due to the Corona Virus. We have had to practice physical and social distancing from the most vulnerable of our family. We will try to keep the distancing for the upcoming holidays.
But Mr. Campbell, went on with reasons to be personally grateful. Here is my personal list of items to be thankful for.
I had a fall at the end of April with three weeks in a rehab hospital. Healing was slow and painful. This past week I was able to walk several miles with no pain. A healing that I am grateful for.
I have been able to share time with friends and family with zoom calls.
People are reaching out to their local families to offer assistance for each other.
Finally, my brothers children have sent a bottle of Turnbull wine to each of the family members to have a zoom gathering and toast their Father, my brother Mike on Thanksgiving eve. He died last year on Thanksgiving, and we have not been able to gather for a memorial.
People have endured and found ways to share with each other even with distance.
So have a safe and virtual Thanksgiving.



A Virtual Thanksgiving

My family has always gathered for the holidays.
When I was young, Thanksgiving was at the Grand parents home. As they aged, my Mother took over the celebration and the cooking.

The family expanded and Mom needed help with the tasks.
My brother Mike and Kathy, his wife, opened their home for the special day. Mike loved the family coming together.
The meal was squeezed between football games and cooking.

Each sibling brought a favorite dishes to pass.
Two rooms were crammed with 3 tables.

Before grand babies, the kid’s table was full of teens and 20 year olds.

The meal ended with a toast, coffee and desserts.
Who could forget the basketball challenge, with old against young. Cousin against cousin, and all play stopping as baby Ruth threw the ball to make a basket.

While passing the food, we laughed, told stories and teased the guests the cousins brought along.

This year will be different.
Mike died last Thanksgiving. Kathy has moved from the large home.

Distance and the virus has kept us physically apart.

But on Thanksgiving evening we will connect with Zoom .
Toasting those who are no longer with us, we will share tears and laughter as memories in stories are relived.

We will hope to be together again next year.

copyright 11/26/20

November 24,2020 The Case Of the Stinky Chickens

This appeared in the Newsreel audio magazine this month. I have printed it for your enjoyment.below there is an audio file of me reading the piece.

In case you are wondering, this was a true story and I did make little socks with candy this year.

The case of the stinky chickens
No, I do not live on a farm or in the country. I am talking about knitted and felted chickens.
Each year I try to come up with a small felted ornament for my visually challenged friends. I like to include more than one sense for their enjoyment. One year I made bells with ringers in each. This year I decided to make holiday sachet chickens. I bought the liquid scents of cloves and orange and measured 10 drops of each scent into the stuffing of the little chickens before I sewed them closed.
Well, I made over 30 little chicks and they were smelling up my home. I placed them on the sun porch a month before I was to send them so they might not be Speech onstrong smelling.
I Brailled my cards to go with the chickens and mailed them to our chat leader to distribute the cards.
Speech She called me 10 days after I had mailed the chicken and cards to inform me that the smell of those 30 plus chickens were overwhelming. She couldn’t take the smell even in the garage. I told her to put them outside to air them out. Well, it rained and the envelopes that held the cards and chickens got wet. She sent them back to me.
The chickens were in plastic bags but the envelopes fell apart. The cards were on heavier card stock and I could dry them out.
It was now two months since I wrote the cards and I thought that the cards were all the same. So I sent the best ones off to people that sent me their regular mailing address.
The chickens were well received but several on the friends noted that their cards were named for someone else. I had labeled the names of the envelopes and I didn’t check each card.
The funniest switch was a older Jewish woman that said her card was addressed to Rabbi Lenny. She said that she didn’t know that she had been promoted!
I had several friends ask if I could take the smell out of the their chicken. I opened the chickens,changed the filling and washed them. They had little or no odor.
I am starting to think of next year’s project. I will try the sense of taste perhaps . A knitted sock with a piece of candy anyone?

November 19, 2020 Personal Choice

We are in the middle of a Virus spike. The health authorities have warned against gathering in large groups for the Thanksgiving celebration. The suggestion to stay home ,or celebrate with just one family.It is short of a mandate ,so most people will gather with some responsibility . This includes me.I have quarantined this week. We will travel to see my brother and his wife on Lake Michigan at their cottage. Plenty of fresh air and masks with social distancing.Next week we will visit my daughter and son in law for Thanksgiving Day. Again we will practice social distancing , masks and frequent hand washing.We will travel without stops to both places and we will wipe down items we may touch.I hope and pray it will be enough to keep us and the ones we love safe.I believe many others will do the same. We know the corona virus is real but we can’t live in a box or vacuum. May our precautions be enough.Whatever you choose, may you stay well and protect your family members.

**********

**********

Masking Up

With sanitizer and a bags of wipes

We travel to visit safely

masks and social distancing

we try not to cry.

We are drawn to each other

to gather without touching

fresh air flows around us

Will it be enough?

copyright 11/19/2020

A Thanks for a job well done November 17, 2020

The voting is complete. The people have spoken. We as a country are grateful to the poll workers, observers and vote counters that worked long hours to assure a fair election. There is one group that has been overlooked. The United Postal Service.As the Post Master General Louis DeJoy, ordered equipment to be removed and the work force to be decreased, The mail was receiving millions of voter’s ballots to be processed.As legislators called for daily sweeps of postal equipment to assure all votes were processed. The postal service has done daily sweeps as a part of their daily route tasks. The workers did their job, to get the mail to it’s appointed destination .No Penalty overtime will be paid for in the months of Novenber and December during the holiday rush. The workers are expected to volunteer to work overtime as part of their regular job. They do what has been requested of them.We should recall that at the start of the pandemic. the post offices were open and delivery service was daily except for Sundatys and holidays.The postal workers made sure that mail service wasn’t interrupted. Our letters and packages were delivered in a timely manner.So I wish to add my thanks to the clerks, mail handlers, truck drivers ,sorters and carriers as they have done their jobs for over two centuries.We may complain when we receive only advertisements but think of the cards and Holiday notes that keep us informed and in touch. We can hold a physical reminder of friends and family near and far.Thank the postal service for keeping us in touch.

**********

**********

Neither snow nor rain or sleet in the night

Not colds or flu or corona virus spikes

Not less equipment nor reduced staff,

They do their jobs despite the gaffs.

copyright 11/17.20

November 12th. Restroom Drama

Restroom DramaI touched on one of the most difficult and funniest places that a blind person can experience. If you want a small taste of what many visually impaired people experience, close your eyes next time you go into a large bathroom. Can you tell where the stalls are located? How about the sinks? Will you be able to find the soap, towels and then find you way out? Let me tell about some of my experiences.When I enter a large restroom by myself, I usually stop and listen for flushing sounds to locate stalls. This stopping gives people time to evaluate the situation and decide if they want to help. Sometimes I appreciate it and sometimes I don’t. One time I was in a restroom at the airport. I couldn’t locate the stalls because of people talking . That time I asked the room if someone would direct me to a stall. A very kind woman showed to a stall and pointed out the toilet paper dispenser , the flush lever and the lock. I thanked her and used the commode. When I opened the stall an airport employee was waiting there to help me locate the sink, soap and towels. She informed that the woman that had helped was called for her flight and wanted to be sure that I could get out and continue my travels .I also have been given help when I didn’t need it. This happened on the Natchez Trace in a public restroom. I was going in to change into biking clothes. The room was empty and quiet. I started to travel the wall. A woman entered and without talking pushed me into the first available stall. The lock was broken, and the toilet continued to flush every minute. I was trying to change while holding the door closed. To make matters worse this woman was pushing against the door and asking if I was all right. With all the noise, I dropped my wallet and didn’t hear it hit the floor and lost my wallet . I called the rest stop and was told it was given to the guard minus the money , it was not worth going back a hundred miles ,I just asked them to destroy it.In some states a person of the opposite gender can go into a restroom to assist . This makes my husband very uncomfortable. He will look first for family restrooms that are not gender specific. If he can’t locate one he will take me into a men’s restroom , if not crowded. I use to be leery of this until I lost all sight. Now I just hurry into a stall and get out as quickly as possible.I heard a story from one of my blind conference friends that he looks for a handicapped stall in large public restrooms because they have the sink and junk container in the stall. He said that he has gone over to wash his hands. Only to discover that he was washing in the urinal!In this time of corona virus, people may not be comfortable approaching a person in a restroom. I pull out a small bottle of hand sanitizer while orienting to the space. When I leave the stall, I again use the hand sanitizer while listening for the sink area or the exit.If you notice a person using a white cane in a restroom ask if they need assistance and listen to what they may or may not require . Both you and the visually impaired will feel good about the experience.
********

********

To go where no blind person should be alone.

a public restroom filled with noise.

I stand still to get my bearings

To orient the room by sound.

A voice near my elbow says”Can I help you?”

I turn in the direction of the voice,”

Where are the stalls?”

“This way” the friendly voice says

“Let me take your elbow.”

“Here is the commode,flusher and toilet paper.”

“Thanks!!!”

I finish and leave the stall and restroom.

Now I can really relax.

Happy Armistice Day November 11, 2020

Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day was special in our home. On the original day, my Mother was born. Her father kept the first pages of the three newspapers in Detroit in remembrance. As a child, I saw the papers framed and hanging in our den. I don’t know when Mom arrived into the world, but it could have been on the 11 hour the same as the treaty was signed.Mom was named Margherita . She never heard that name . She was called Rita. She didn’t learn of her real name until she applied for a passport. She decided to legally change her name to Rita. Mom’s favorite color was yellow. Her favorite flower was chrysanthemums. Today my brothers and I grow a yellow chrysanthemum plant in our yards to remember our Mother.This time year, Mom was busy and full of secrets. Her bedroom was off limits as she wrapped Christmas gifts and put them under her bed. She made sure that there weren’t any tags on the gifts to thwart curious young eyes. Yes, I was one of them.My Dad tried to take Mom out to dinner for her special day. Most of the birthdays were spent with us. She even had to bake her own cake.I remember a series of painted tins and play dough sculptures wrapped in tissue paper to present to Mom. One birthday, I recall the boys getting together to buy the largest and cheapest bottle of toilet water to impress Mom with the size of their gift. She smiled and graciously accepted all the offerings given with love. I think that stinky perfume was poured into her bath water for months.She was not one to spare the rod if we deserved punishment. She had a yardstick and a stick from a balloon on top of the refrigerator . She called these items, her persuaders. I remember being switched between my legs as I was chased home after wandering past my boundaries. My brothers felt the yardstick on their backsides for misbehavior. We didn’t know that after the punishment she retreated to her room for a good cry.She was loving, caring and good with the family budget. Many of our best stories about Mom comes from her handling a tight budget.My oldest brother, Bob, remembers being sent to the local A and P grocery to buy overripe bananas for 10 cents a pound. He was given just enough change in a small coin purse. He was embarrassed by the smell of the fruit and biking home with them.These bananas were turned into banana nut muffins and bread. to be fillers for her growing family. Growing boys were always hungry. She had a shelf of peanut butter, bread and cereal for between meal munching.Mom could take one round steak and divide it into 7 servings . I always receive the meat around the bone. When I complained, she told me. that it was the most tenter part of the steak. I believed that her portion was even smaller than mine.This Thanksgiving, her children and grandchildren will raise a toast to Mom and all she accomplished. With a strong faith and a motherly care for others, she continues to be a model for our family.Happy Birthday Mom!

********************

Bath Day

Warm the room with closed door.

First the baby in the tub.

Then the girl

wash her hair.

Finally the young ones

in the nest.

Filling the tub,

Mom’s chance to rest.

All our lives we got the best.

Mom would take the rest.

Copyright  11-11-2020

Sent from my iPad