Give me a break September 19, 2022 374 Words

Today I go to the surgeon to see if I need any more assistance mending my broken arm. About three weeks ago I broke the upper part of my left arm and they have been at a loss to type or write any notes. I am now trying to use dictation to make my emails and notes. It is long and slow work. First of all, I thought I could do this. Unfortunately dictation is not as easy depending on your program. The punctuation and capitalization may or may not be put into your writing. I have found it very difficult to remember to say the words for punctuation, capital and so forth. Yesterday I got the bright idea let's try the brailer! I have an electric brailer and it should be easy to push those keys with one hand. How wrong I was. First of all a brailer is set up with a left and right hand and spaces to easily use . When I tried to use the brailer it was easy to push the keys but I can't make complete cells. I need that left arm. What to do in my desperation, I made one side of the letter backspaced and then made the other side of the letter. Long slow and tediously I wrote my note. The only saving grace was that I could read this one-handed giving me an opportunity to read a note while on a call. You may wonder, why is it so hard to type one-handed well, they didn't put my arm in a cast. It is hanging by my side in a sling and when I move it moves a different direction. It is supposed to be set with the weight of the arm holding it in place. I can't wait to have something solid on that side again. So wish me luck, and hope for the best.


Tick tock like a clock my arm moves back and forth

It can’t take weight but hangs like a sack
disturbing to me that when I move it throws my movements off
tick tock like a clock I can’t believe it’s time to stop
carolaspot@aol.com 9/19/22

Tech issues continue sept, 12th 2022 541 words

This week I have found that I have more issues with technology I recently broke my left wrist and upper arm and cannot write any information with typing. Finding a dictation program has been cumbersome, finally the Voice Dream Rider program puts commas periods in the right spots. Hopefully this will help other people to do programs. It’s not perfect but it is better than trying to type one-handed. Often I have to repeat or have the spellcheck look to see if my dictation was correctly interpreted. Now by the time I get this perfect maybe I will go back to writing or if I get good at dictation maybe I’ll stay with dictation. Below is a copy of my blog from all technology and old brains from 2021

Tech versus an old brain
We live in a wonderful time when there are many assistive devises to help blind people with mobility, identifying, labeling and using computers and smart phones. All this technology can be confusing to an old brain.
The other day I was using my smart phone to participate in a blind teleconference. My phone lost the phone page just as I was asked a question. I had to hang up and redial. This took several minutes. When I finally returned to the conference, I told them that I had technical difficulties . The whole group understood. We all have had difficulties with assistive devises.
I have a blue tooth speaker that talks into my hearing aids. But I have found that if I an too close to my husband who is also using a blue tooth listening devise I will get a echo of his book. It sounds like gibberish because he plays his books very fast.
I have used my I-pad to look up recipes and information. Usually I ask the assistive helper Seri to find the information. Many times Seri misunderstands and can’t locate the information quickly. When I finally locate the correct web page, I find that I must sign up for access to a website.
I have not learned my limits. I have recently signed up for a virtual eyes program, digital tags to use in the kitchen and a recording devise that will help me with locating and storing my patterns for knitting . I can just see this happening , I go to find a yarn color that has been tagged. The tag tells me the yardage, weight and material but not the color, is’t a number rather that a color. I get the recorder to find a pattern and find I must listen to several hours because I forgot to insert titles and bookmarks for each pattern. I go to get the phone to find the printed pattern in the book. The apps reads part of the pattern but starts over when it thinks that it had a better angle for the document.When it finally reads the pattern it makes little sense because the knitting abbreviations make no sense to the program.
I find that it would be easier to get my husband to help me. But I am determined to be independent . Technology takes a lot of time and effort I hope that this old brain of mine can handle it

Times they are aging September 5, 2022 521 words

We still have a home phone to screen unknown callers. If I recognize the voice or the caller identifies himself, I will pick up before the caller hangs up. This has been a good system. Most of our friends and family’s calls are answered.
Today my curiosity got the best of me. As the phone rang, I picked up the receiver.
“Hello.”
A slight pause. Then the pitch started.
“Congratulations! you have won an adjustable bed.”
Not bothering to say goodbye, I hung up the phone.
I started to think of the number of junk emails that I delete regularly.
Pitches of morning stretches , endurance training and relaxation for health have been replaced with gummies to give relief from arthritic pain , better brain function and lowering cholesterol . When did the ads for a better sex life change to living longer?
Peppered in the notes are offers for free samples for such needed items as wrinkle creams and salves. Instead of gutter guards for the home.
I wonder if anyone reads these come ons ?
Then I remember that the targeted group includes older single people. The welcome sound of a live voice on the other end of the line, may fool older person’s with the start of dementia to think they may know the caller. Often a senior may talk to this stranger because they are bored.
Friends have told horror stories of large checks written with their spouse’s signature on the check. When asked about the check, they may have no memory of the event.
Aside from taking all checks and access to internet buying away from our love ones , what can we do? It depends on your ability to talk and trust your partner. Talk about pitches as they happen so each of you are aware of the calls. Monitor each other with questions about the transaction and the result.
The reality is all of us are mentally slowing down as we age. The new callers are quick to pick up on a lonely person or a person that is not hearing as well on the phone. They may even resource to pretending to know you or your spouse.
Though our training is to be polite, it is best to hang up on such callers. Talking only encourages more return calls. If the caller wants to get credit card information, hang up. After, check with the business to see if they really work at the business.
My husband’s Mother was fooled by a young man pretending to be her grandson. He requested money and told her not to tell my husband. That sent up alarms in our minds.
So be smart. Don’t answer the phone until you are sure of the person on the other end.


Ringing

The phone rings with a cheerful note.
Hoping to hear a familiar voice,
you pick up the phone.
Instead a robotic voice asks for funds.
Sighing, you hang up.
When was the last time I had a friend call?
Picking up the phone, I place a call from my phone book.
Carolfarn@aol.com 9/5/2022

Change of Seasons, August 29, 2022 353 words


This past week the weather was perfect. The sun was warm only in the afternoon. Early mornings and evenings the air cooled into the 60’s. But when the sun goes behind a cloud the hint of fall is in the air.
At the feeder, I had fourteen wrens trying to get a bit of seed and suet. I imagine, they are gearing up for migration to a warmer climate. I looked up in the canopy of bitter sweet vines to see sparrows, doves and a male cardinal ,waiting their turn at the feeder.

As they waited, 4 large turkeys sauntered through the backyard. Pausing to get a drink from the trough, while the largest one scratched for fallen seeds.
Even the chipmunks and squirrels are gathering food for the season ahead. This morning, one bold squirrel sat in the middle of a flower pot and leisurely devoured every flower bud. Turned his back to me as if to say,”What are you going to do about it ?”
People are changing sports activities from swimming and baseball to football and soccer. In the evenings, there are fewer walkers as families are completing homework.
This season of change is a reminder that we are given a certain number of fall days to use and enjoy. We can gather red pinecones to give to the DNR for future trees or we can ignore nature’s needs.
So put out some Indian corn. Spread a large pinecone with peanut butter and roll in sunflower seeds. Keep the water full for those migrating visitors.


Migration

Busy bees gather goldenrod nectar.
Storing honey as food for winter.
Wrens, cranes and geese start their migration south.
They call to others to join the flock’s formation.
Squirrels and chipmunks are gathering seeds and buds to keep them through the winter cold.
Caterpillars form cocoons to emerge from in the spring, reborn.
Deer are fattening themselves on the discards of garden harvests.
A time to gather, to prepare, for another cold bitter winter.
I watch and turn to follow nature’s example.
carolfarn@aol.com
Aug/29/2022

Hello? August 22, 2022 541 words


At our disposal, we have many tools to aid in communication. We have I Phones, I pads and computers ,we have come a long way from Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for the telephone. Controversy has surrounded the original invention . Who was the first person to get to the patent office?
Bell shares the inventor bragging rights with Antonio Meucci. He was said to have lost the patent for lack of funds. Bell’s lawyer was first to the patent office. His lawyer and another inventor named Gray filed patents on the same day within hours of each other.
I had time to ponder these and other facts as I tried to use a smart phone to change a reservation at a hotel.
First I called the hotel where I was told to select from numbered options.
“Press one if you want to make a reservation.”Press two to change or cancel a reservation.”
I pressed 2 and waited. I was given a similar list of options. Finally, I was asked by a robotic voice to state my changes. I received an email stating that I would have to contact the hotel directly to make any changes.
“Great! That was I thought I was doing.”
I tried again and closely listen to my options. One of the selections was a chat. I didn’t want to chat, because I have a hearing impairment and thought I would miss some important information.
After trying several other options I found a chat option with typing prompts. This I could use with voice over on my phone.
I was connected to a loop system that put in line for a representative .
I had no information as to how many people were in the virtual line ahead of me.
I put down the phone and started to look up information on my I Pad. I was looking for assistance for special needs. I waited for fifteen minutes. I didn’t know if I was still connected. Looking at my screen, my husband noted that typing was appearing on my screen. I had turned voice over off and had no sound.
There was a real person typing on the other end of the phone. I entered the problem and resolved the issues of getting another night’s lodging. The change took over a half an hour.
On the screen I never noted a way to get special assistance. I was registered as a visually impaired participant at a conference.
Bell’s controversy continues to today’s smart phones.
I long for the time when I could make a call and wait for another person to answer.
Even when I call my primary care specialist, I have tiers of questions, and need to respond with number selections. There is always the added comment,”If this an medical emergency , hang up and call 911.”
One of these calls, I will have a real emergency. When a person finally answers, I will be gone.


Hello?

Hello”
“Please stay on the line for the next operator.”
“Press one to select the extended care center.”
“Please wait as your call is transferred.”
You are next in line .”
elevator music plays.
Pushing to turn down the volume, the phone is disconnected.
“Hello?”telephone.
Carol Farnsworth
August

Aging August ,15th 2022 381 words

Most of us are not consciously aware of passing time and how we are aging. We can see or hear the changes in our family and friends. Most of us don’t see the changes in ourselves.
Because of my lack of vision, I tell my friends that the mental portrait of their appearance is from years ago. They are all dark haired and wrinkle free. My friends laugh and love that image.
Lately, I have gotten signals that my inner vision needs fine tuning. When I approach a door to a building, another adult rushes to open and hold the door for me. This has been happening even when I am walking with my husband.
Strangers are more apt to touch my arm or pat my shoulder while we are in conversation.
When I was ordering my new hearing aids, the ear pieces come in a dozen colors. Both my husband and the audiologist suggested that the dark grey would match and blend with my hair color. I had thought of my hair as a dark brown becoming a lighter brown with age.
Do we have to adjust our perceptions to others? I don’t feel the same as I did as a 40 year old, but I am not as frail as some think.
Aging should change how we treat our bodies and our minds. I have adapted the attitude,”one day at a time.” If this day is a day that I feel strong, I can do more. If I feel weak or limited , I will relax more and nap. This life is a gift, to use to help ourselves and others. Smile, interact and bring joy into the world. Stop and smell the daisies even if you can’t see them. Enjoy each step along your life’s journey, thanking God for the blessings.

****


Aging
A sprout grows quickly but can be crushed.
The sapling bends with each gust of the wind.
The small tree gathers water and food as it’s roots anchor life to the earth.
Season by season, we grow besides each other, giving strength to weather the storms.
We gather age marks with time spent in living. Finally, we give ourselves back to the creator with faith that our lives were well spent.
Carolaspot@aol.com August 15, 2022

A Froggy Tale August 8 th. 2022 465 words

It was a cool spring morning on froggy pond. Early risers were practicing swimming and distance hopping. Occasionally there was a tussle when two frogs tried to catch the same fly. But all and all, There was harmony in the froggy pond. Until the Toad family moved in.
The toad was one in a circle of frogs. He kept to himself and didn’t go near the pond. He preferred the cool darkness of his burrow. When a frog saw him he would jump into the pond and swim away.
As will happen with most species, the toad found a mate and had little ones. Now the frogs noticed that there were many small brown toads competing for the choicest insects. The small toads would show aggressive behavior towards the frogs.
Froggy pond was not the same habitat. Some frogs decided to find another pond. Other frogs started a campaign to limit where the toads could live. A few took matters into their own legs and started to meet aggression with more aggression. This led to groups division and decreasing interactions.
Soon the rumors about toads spread. Toads would cause frogs to become ill. The toad population would overpopulate the pond making it unfit for frogs. Frogs were the wrong color and would change the habitat causing toads to die.
Some of the rumors had some basis in truth. Toads rarely liked ponds. They enjoyed a drier terrain. Except for mating season, the toads preferred to not be social. Frogs prefer marshes, ponds and other wetter areas. They would avoid each other except if a larger toad or frog looked at the amphibian as food.
At times, we are toads and frogs. Though there are more similarities than differences, the differences seem to hold more weight .
I know that comparing frogs and toads to people is not the same. We could learn a lesson from nature. If given proper introduction and space, frogs and toads can co-exist. The groundwork must be prepared with forethought. Lets hope that we can be as smart as toads and frogs when it comes to sharing our neighborhoods. Put aside the rumors and find the truths about each other. If toads and frogs can live together , why, can’t we?


“It’s Not Easy bein Green”, Kermit the frog croons a song about being green.
At one time or another, we see our differences
as barriers to relationships.
We would like the world to be like us.
But the differences make us unique, special.
Being blind, I don’t see the visual differences that mark us.
Kindness in others can be heard in the voice.
Listening to others with an open heart could soften our attitude.
to make us color blind.
Carolaspot@aol.com Aug 8, 2022

Lazy Days, August 1st, 2022 422 words

Today is the first day of August. Where did the summer go? The past several weekends, I have had invitations to my family’s reunions. I didn’t travel to my brother’s cottage on the Lake Michigan shoreline, I did visit my husband’s brother, Gene at Brohman MI for a Smolinski family reunion. The family and friends have gathered in this western michigan town for over 43 years. The weekend event was started by Helen Smolinski to gather the family and keep in contact with distant family members.

This was My 30th time to attend.

Over the railroad tracks, you find several cottages that have used by the family for vacations. Grandma and Grandpa Smolinski’s cottage was called ,”Lazy Days”. It has been improved and modernized but still stands on the road to Indian Lake.

Great Grandma Helen didn’t live to see her family reunions take shape .Walking near the old lilac bush, I noticed a plaque with the following words.

Teofil and Helen Smolinski

Loving founders of our family

Those we love don’t go away

They walk beside us evey day

Unseen ,unheard, but always near

So loved ,so missed and very dear

They were both first generation American citizens. Family and faith were cornerstones that united them.

The sharing of stories was as important as the sharing of a meal. I have changed from a newcomer to be a senior member of the family unit. I watched as 20 or more children, the next generation competed in games and races. I remembered our own daughter Ruth,playing and enjoying the same activities.

Though many of the original family members are gone, their spirit is still in the hearts and minds of the remaining family. As I hold the hand of a toddler and give my neice and nephew a hug, I am passing on traditions and memories for generations to come.

***

Smolinski

an acrostic poem

Some traveled to this country for a better life.

Many have worked to make this country a home.

Often, they would be targets of prejudices from others.

Like those who came before and will come after, they lived and loved.

I see the past in the photos of the family now gone.

Now, they are remembered with stories and smiles.

Still the children come to hear the stories of their forefathers and mothers.

Knitting the generations into a family unit.

In each face there are traces of past generations.

They are remembered with laughter not tears.

carolaspot@aol.com copyright 8/1/22

Wicked Wishes 603 words July 25th 2022


I sit alone in a changing room, waiting for a MRI brain scan to look for the cause of my stroke. I wait, for someone to tell me what to do. Finally a technician tells me to strip and put on hospital scrubs and white socks.
“What do I do with my clothes?”
“Just leave them on the table.”
“Where is the table?”
The nurse pauses a beat before answering,”On your left side.”
This is when I have my first of many evil wishes. The table is on my right but the nurse sees the table facing me so it is on her left.
I find my scrubs and wait a little longer. The room is colder than I like. Goosebumps soon form on my arms and thighs. I resist removing my hearing aids until I am in the room housing the machine. As a blind person, I rely on my hearing for clues what’s happening around me.
I was led by the hand like a child to sit then lay on a sliding mat to be pushed into a small opening in a large machine. I knew that the machine was large because I ask to feel it first.
Instead of telling me what to expect and what I needed to do, the last instruction from the tech was,”Don’t move!”
I felt my body slid forward and I was encased inside the machine. I heard the magnets clang and move around my head. I thought of the earrings that I had almost not taken out this morning. I wondered why they hadn’t bothered to ask me about any piercings.
Halfway through the M.R.I., I remembered every horror movie where the brain is removed and replaced with an evil clone. The tube feels tomblike. The warmth of the MRI machine causes claustrophobic panic as I start to sweat. Cool air alternates with heat, chilling my body. I should have taken the extra blanket when it was offered. I was pulled out of the machine. I felt like a cork popped out of a bottle. The tech was talking but I shook my head because I couldn’t understand.
An IV was inserted in my arm to deliver the dye. Though I had dye in the past, This time I felt cold then clammy.
When I asked, the tech she yelled, that it could be a reaction to the dye.
My next wish was to give the same injection into the nearest tech. My mind saw small psychedelic undulating worms in my visual field. I was surprised. I hadn’t had any useable vision for years.
Finally, I was pulled from the machine and could move.
“Where are my hearing aids? ” Inserting them into my ears, I could understand what the techs were saying. I could hold on to the tech’s arm to find my way back to the dressing area.
I was left to locate my clothes by myself. One of my shoes fell to the floor, I had to find it with my feet. The clothes were in a pile not folded as I had left them. I wondered if any of the technicians could get dressed in total darkness!
When I was dressed a tech came to escort me out to the waiting area.
“Well, I am glad that is over!”, I said.
“O, you will be back in two months to have another MRI test.”
Inwardly, I groaned’ but outwardly I smiled at thoughts of sticking each tech with pins as one would do with a voodoo doll. Next time, I will be more assertive about my needs.

Carolfarn@aol.com

Garden Delights


I come from a long line of gardeners. Both of my Grandparents planted a garden to expand their variety of fruits and veggies. Grandpa Heatley would plant beans, cucumbers and tomatoes training them to grow and hang from strings hung on the back fence. His garden resembled a small jungle.
Grandpa Turnbull was more organized and had more room to separate each crop. He liked to keep a salt shaker in an old bird house near the gate. He would pick a ripe tomato and use the shaker to dust his treat saying,”Fresh is best.”
My family continued to have a garden of our own. In addition to the annuals of Swiss Chard, lettuce and beens , we grew Strawberries and had a raspberry section near the fence line. We shared the chore of picking the berries. Because I was small, I picked the berries near the bottom of each bush. I would crawl into the middle of the patch to pick the biggest berries and fill my stomach as well as my pail. The patch of bushes was thick enough to hide in.
After the time to pick asparagus, the plants were allowed to grow to four feet. The feathery plant tops were one of my favorite spots to hide from chores.
Even today, we still have a small garden area. We grow, green beans, cucumbers and asparagus. Sadly, tomatoes and peppers are attacked by blight before setting fruit.
A summer without a garden is like a summer without the sun.


Hidden fruit,
seeds are planted
With hope they will grow
weed with care
all in a row.

Waiting with patience
for the new crop
green beans grow to the top
berry or bean
all taste great
Hidden treasures
never make the plate.

carolaspot@aol.com. July 18th 2022