Tag Archive | Patty’s Pick

Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

Patty and I have chosen this wonderful piece from Phyllis Staton Campbell

 

Not Just A Cake

baking-blueberries-blur-227432

Photo by Antonio Quagliata from Pexels

         There is anticipation in the air at the school for the blind, and it happens every month. Actually, it happens each month that somebody in the boys’ dorm has a birthday, and that pretty much adds up to every month in the nine-month school year.

         Birthdays are special, of course, everybody knows that, don’t they? Well, not always. For these kids from different backgrounds, some with other disabilities as well as blindness, and away from home and family all week, it might not be so special for everybody.
 

         Of course, many get gifts, cards and phone calls from home, but sad to say some do not, and for those who do, they’re still away from that special human touch, and their very own cake. Not for these kids. They will never experience that feeling of loneliness that tends to creep in on such special days, due to the imagination and caring of Miss WK, one of their dorm advisers. The mother of a grown son, she knows from experience the importance of something special on that special day, and nothing is more special than a birthday cake, well, maybe birthday brownies. And it should be noted here, that her son, big enough to pick me up and twirl me around, still gets a birthday cake of his choice each year.

“Okay, you’ve made your point,” you may be saying. “So she runs by her friendly bakery for a cake on her way to work. That’s cool!”

Wrong! Before the big day, the birthday boy picks his treat, cake, or something different, such as brownies, even cheesecake. Then, the real fun starts. A great discussion takes place with everybody joining in, as they make the shopping list for the excursion to the grocery store.

         I have never gone on one of these excursions, but I can just imagine WK, like the proverbial woman who lived in a shoe, shepherding her group of cane wielding children along the aisles at Wal-Mart. There are stops along the way not only to pick up cake ingredients, but for people to pick up any personal items. At checkout WK takes care of cake ingredients, while each student pays for his own item, carefully counting change, and passing bills, previously folded to identify denominations. Okay, so this is old hat to us, but remember the pride when we were learning? WK naturally keeps an eye on her charges to be sure they haven’t forgotten their lessons, helping where needed.

broken-943413_640         The big day is here! It’s time to bake the cake,. WK reads the recipe before they start, and assigns the various tasks according to the student’s ability, or in some cases to someone who hasn’t done that particular task before. There is a task for everybody, no matter what their disability along with their blindness might be. Nobody is left out, and nobody is made to feel inferior, each job is important. If somebody makes a mistake, and naturally they occur, it’s treated like a learning experience for next time, and they all have a good laugh.

         WK is now embarking on an adventure of her own. She’s learning braille, not a requirement for dorm staff.

“I want to be able to help my kids,” she says. “I want to be able to put their names on their doors without having to ask them to do it at the office. I want to help them label things, and help them write out the recipe in braille.”

Obviously, this is more than a cake. It teaches so many practical skills, organization, shopping with a bit of money management thrown in, teamwork, kitchen skills and just plain fun.

         I’m not trying to push residential schools here, but I can’t help thinking, that no matter how good mainstreaming may seem, this is something that those students will probably never experience. There is nothing more satisfying than working together with other blind people. You, are just the same as those working with you. Of course, as with WK’s students, some have more or different abilities, but those things are the natural differences experienced in life, not differences that those around you attribute to your blindness.

“We couldn’t expect you to play as well as the organist at our church,” someone said to me.” it wouldn’t be fair, you’re blind.”

Now, I freely agree that she may be the better organist, I’ve never heard her play, but it has nothing to do with the fact she can see. She probably practices more than I do, or just plain has more talent. Such a thought would never enter the mind of a blind person. Hopefully, we judge each other by merit, or better still not at all.

         The cake is done, and judged “awesome!” And if it may have sunk a touch in the middle, or if not quite all of the sugar made it into the measuring cup, nobody notices, and couldn’t care less. It’s their cake, their very own creation, if you please. It is indeed, more than a cake, it is a symbol of independence, and an expression of the love of one woman for others.

(Note: Due to confidentiality names and location are changed, but the facts are true and accurate.)

 

About The Author:
22853049_364248084029418_3608388457679183598_nPhyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.

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Books by Phyllis Campbell:

Where Sheep May Safely Graze

Come Home My Heart

Friendships In The Dark

The Evil Men Do – True crime, written under contract for the family of the victim.

Who Will Hear Them Cry

A Place To Belong

Out of the Night

Patty’s Pick

pattys pickCampbells World

For Patty’s Pick this month, Patty and I have chosen this fabulous story from Jo E. Pinto.

 
Jo E. PintoJo E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.

Jo’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. She lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.

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Back Eyes

I don’t remember exactly when it happened. My daughter might have been three or four years old. She may have been climbing up on the kitchen counter, quietly trying to snitch a cookie, while I was in the living room typing away on my computer. Or she may have been easing open the bottom drawer in her dad’s workbench, intent on swiping his screwdrivers for the thousandth time.

In any case, I called out to her, “Sarah, I know what you’re doing. The eyes in my face are broken, but the ones in the back of my head work just fine.”

I was halfway goofing around when I said it. The fact that I had rock star hearing was already well-known in our house. Blind people don’t necessarily hear better than those with sight, but they rely on the sounds around them, so they tend to pay attention and notice what they hear more than sighted people do.

eyes

My daughter, however, took me at my word. She rushed over to me and started examining the back of my head, combing her fingers through my long dark hair.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Looking for your back eyes,” she said in that matter-of-fact tone kids get when they are answering grown-ups who ask dumb questions. “They must be really small. I can’t find them.”

“They’re hard to see,” I answered quickly. “They move around in my hair. They don’t want to be found.”

“Oh. I won’t look then. They’re secret.” Sarah was intrigued. “Have you always had back eyes?”

“Nope.” I thought fast. “I got them at the hospital when you were born. Only moms have them. Like Santa’s phone number, and the magic way to know if a kid has a fever by kissing her cheek. Back eyes are just for moms.”

Over the years, my daughter’s understanding of my blindness has become more clear. First, she realized she had to use her words instead of pointing and whining when she asked me for M&M’s or fruit snacks at the store. Over time, she has figured out that when we play Candyland or Snakes and Ladders, the game goes more smoothly if she reads the dice and moves the colored tokens around the board for me. She knows I stick braille labels on canned goods in my pantry and use a screen-reading program on my computer so I can listen to e-mails and navigate the Internet. Describing our surroundings when we go out together has gotten to be almost second nature to her.

But now and then, when she has created a particularly exceptional art project or perfected a super awesome dance move, she’ll still say, “Mom, Mom! Look at me! Look with your back eyes!”

Not wanting to disappoint her, I’ll turn my head, face away from her, and say, “Wow! That’s incredible!”

After that, I’ll ask her to describe her art project or give me the details of her dance move, but she seems to need me to have that first quick look, so my imaginary “back eyes” live on, somewhere under my hair.

I keep expecting them to fade away like so many other adorable childhood fantasies have. But a few days ago, when Sarah got a fabulous new Barbie doll for her ninth birthday, the first thing she said was, “Mom, check this out! She can move her hands and feet and everything!”

When I reached for the Barbie doll, she put her hands on my cheeks, turned my face away, and ordered, “Look … no, look with your back eyes!”

This piece first appeared on Holly Bonner’s Blind-Motherhood blog

♦♦♦

The Bright Side of Darkness by Jo E. Pinto

The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.

The Bright Side of Darkness.jpgRick Myers, an orphan without much faith in the future, and Daisy Bettencourt, a blind girl who is running from an alcoholic father and a set of overprotective foster parents, cross paths at a high school baseball game and make their way together. Daisy becomes the bright spot in Rick’s universe as he and his four lifelong friends–Tim, Mark, and the twins–battle the forces of poverty and hopelessness. Mark’s grandma dies of heart failure, and Tim’s stepdad is arrested on felony child abuse charges, leaving them, like Rick and Daisy, with no authority figures in their lives.

Rick and Daisy are trailed by a fat man in a battered green jeep who makes Rick more and more uneasy as the weeks pass. Then, just when Rick discovers an interest in the culinary field and decides to complete his education, the bottom drops out of his world.

The Bright Side of Darkness is available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.

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Excerpt:

         There’s nothing a damn bit bright about sunshine when you’re seventeen and you see it from the wrong side of a jail cell window.
         It isn’t that I’m moping for my lost freedom or anything. I wouldn’t give a half a crap for my life anymore now that the crew is scattered to the four winds, and all I have left of Daisy is her parting note in the waistband of my jeans and a wilted dandelion dangling between my fingers. But it seems to me that the Man Upstairs could have marked my downfall with a terrific thunderstorm or at least a few nasty black clouds out of the west.
         When there’s a war or a funeral or some other sad thing going on in the movies, the sky usually turns dark and ugly, and the rain pours down in buckets. The longer I stare at the square of sunlight streaming through the tiny window of my cell and stealing across the floor, the lonelier I feel. August 27, 1986, is slipping by the same as every other hot, heavy day, and I’m the only one in the world who knows that nothing will ever be all right again.
         It hasn’t always been this way. I ought to have known better than to believe I could reach out and snag a piece of paradise, but for a little while I had it on my fingertips. Breaks are hard to come by for kids from the projects, though, and sure enough, all I ended up with at the last second was empty hands.
         I’m doing my level best to hold off a flood of memories, but my mind keeps drifting back to the sweltering summer evening when the chain of events began that shattered my world into a zillion pieces. First thing tomorrow morning, some juvenile court judge will decide if my life is worth rebuilding. Maybe he’ll have better luck with my future than I did with my past.

 

 

Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

According to my handmade blog calendar, there are 31 days in April! So good morning to you all and thank you for visiting Rainne’s Ramblings on this ‘extra’ April day.

Patty and I have chosen this Essay, from the Authors, They’re Only Human column
by author Lynda McKinney Lambert

 

When I Begin my Day with Mozart

Lynda McKinney Lambert

I put the morning coffee on to brew, reach for a CD of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat, carefully placing it in the CD player in the kitchen, and push the Play button. The soft and slow opening lines of the Largo-Allegro begin as I listen. A piano and a violin are filling my kitchen with sounds from centuries ago. I close my eyes and listen awhile before I continue writing my essay. There is something about Mozart’s music that makes me stop whatever I am doing; it takes me back in time. But it’s not the time in the 18th century when the music was first performed for a royal audience. It is my own time at the end of the 20th century when the music of Mozart became a core element in my own life. Thoughts of listening to this music flood my mind on the chilly November day, and those musings create layers of memories.music-278795_960_720

As the days and years come to mind, I remember Austria when it was Mozart and me.

Mozart’s first performance of his original composition was April 29, 1784 in Vienna; Emperor Joseph II was in the audience. As Mozart played the piano, the emperor made a discovery. Mozart was playing from memory, for he did not have time to write the composition out on paper. The pages in front of him were blank!

My first trip to Europe in 1991 was a gift I gave myself to celebrate the completion of my MFA degree at West Virginia University. I arrived in Salzburg, Austria at the beginning of July, just in time to join in the celebration festivities for the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. My month–long visit was filled with special art exhibitions in palaces and museums, all focused on Mozart. Mozart’s life and his music surrounded me everywhere I went. I attended concerts and special exhibits during my month–long vacation. Now I was hooked on Mozart!

I came to Austria as a participant in a drawing class, and I created an entire body of work on the theme of Mozart’s death and his music. I created art and wrote in a journal as I travelled.

Ten years later, my poems and reflections from that summer trip were part of a series of poems and drawings that appeared in my book Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage.

During that first visit, I made an intention for my own life while I visited this city. I fell in love with Austria, the culture of art and music of the people I met, and the music of the masterful composers who lived in Austria over the centuries. I intended to order my life in such a way that I would spend my summers there every year. I had no idea how that would happen, or if it could happen, but I knew that would be the life I would choose to live.

Five years after my first visit to Salzburg, I accepted a tenure−track position to be a professor of fine arts and humanities at a private college in western Pennsylvania. I quickly realized there was no study program at the college that provided students with the opportunity to study in Austria or Germany. During my first year of teaching at the college, I proposed creating such a course. The following year, I was back in the city I love, with students of my own. This was the first of many years that I would have the joy of bringing students to Austria every summer, where I taught “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.”

During this course, we worked in a studio in a small village in the Alps, Monday through Thursday mornings. Most days, we met early in the morning and then travelled somewhere in the area to draw and write from the different places we explored. It was a dream that became my reality. I had the joy of sharing this magnificent country with my students every summer for a month-long sojourn. On our weekends, we travelled together to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy. We climbed mountains and locked our arms together as we skipped down steep mountain paths. We kept journals, wrote about cultural experiences, made drawings and paintings in the streets and along the breath-taking mountain paths. Students attended concerts and shopped and trekked through the new places we found.

Gradually, I began to realize that the seeds of what we love become the life we live when we set our intentions in that direction. I wanted to create a life where I could spend summers in Austria. I had set the dream I embraced into motion. My dream would become my life journey at a later time.
Now, sitting here in my office typing up this essay, I listen closely as the final piece of music comes to a conclusion. The piano and the violin have been playing together as I write.

Note: If you would like to enjoy this lovely work of art by Mozart, you can listen to it here:

The violin sonata plays on, and I listen to the rapid notes of the piano moving playfully through the house in what seems like a race with the violin. I can envision a spring afternoon and the violin and piano romping in the sunshine, chasing each other about on the lawn. At times it sounds like the piano takes the lead, yet, this is not the case. The violin weaves through the many notes, and in the end, they are one. I listen as applause breaks out immediately as the piano and violin strike the final note together.

This day will take me on other journeys as I walk my dogs, care for my cats, take my husband to the hospital for a check-up, and edit this essay tonight. At special moments throughout my day, I just might hear a few bars of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B–flat. I hope so!

 

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems

© 2017 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

WalkingInnerVisionCover.jpg
Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons.
All stories in this book were created after her sudden sight loss in 2007 from Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Lambert invites us to see the world with new eyes.

Full details, preview, and buying links

 

Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

For this month’s Patty’s Pick, Patty and I have chosen this uplifting post from the Author of The Bright Side of Darkness, Jo E. Pinto.

It’s a wonderful story and something, I think, that will ring true for all parents

 

Lessons Learned from Canned Goods

by J. E. Pinto

canned-750x700After a big shopping trip to stock the pantry, my daughter Sarah and I sat on the kitchen floor one Saturday afternoon marking canned goods in braille. I felt overwhelmed by the dozens of cans that needed to be labeled and put away, which led to a few sharp jabs from my conscience. My little girl was stuck doing a boring job while her friends were probably outside playing because her blind mom couldn’t see the labels on the canned goods in her own kitchen.

Sarah soon put an end to my internal guilt trip. As I punched out sticky tapes with my braille label maker, she made a long line of cans across the floor.

“Next!” she said in her best nurse’s voice. “Hello, Tomato Soup. The doctor will see you now. Wow, you’ve got a dent! What happened?”

“Food fight,” Tomato Soup answered in a gruff, deep tone.

Sarah took the label from me, peeled off the adhesive back, pressed it on the can, and scolded, “Really, a food fight? You need a Band-Aid. There it goes, right across that dent. Behave yourself, okay?”

She put the can on the counter and called briskly, “Next! Chili Beans … how are you today? No salt added … you need to work on your diet, don’t you?”

I started making the label.

“Next! Baked Sweet Potatoes … are you half baked or all done?”

And so it went. We giggled and worked and had such a good time, the job was finished before we knew it. All it took to turn a chore into a fun game was a child’s vivid imagination and a generous helping of laughter.

Labeling those cans for my pantry has become one of my most treasured memories from Sarah’s school age years. I learned two important lessons from the time we spent together. The first is, no guilt. Families have different needs, and children pitch in where their talents fit. If that means my kid reads labels so I can mark cans after we go shopping, so be it. And if she can make the job fun and interesting, so much the better.

The second and most important lesson I learned is, blind or sighted, enjoy the spontaneous moments with your child as they come along. You can’t plan them, you can’t create them, you can’t predict when they will happen. But you can soak them up and squeeze every drop of joy out of them when you find yourself in the midst of them, and treasure the memory of them afterward.

This piece first appeared on Holly Bonner’s Blind-Motherhood blog

 
About J. E. Pinto:
61a2qU7nTyL._SY600_J. E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.

Pinto’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. J. E. Pinto lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.

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The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.

 
The Bright Side of Darkness

517cI92cP2L._SY346_Rick Myers, an orphan without much faith in the future, and Daisy Bettencourt, a blind girl who is running from an alcoholic father and a set of overprotective foster parents, cross paths at a high school baseball game and make their way together. Daisy becomes the bright spot in Rick’s universe as he and his four lifelong friends–Tim, Mark, and the twins–battle the forces of poverty and hopelessness. Mark’s grandma dies of heart failure, and Tim’s stepdad is arrested on felony child abuse charges, leaving them, like Rick and Daisy, with no authority figures in their lives.

Rick and Daisy are trailed by a fat man in a battered green jeep who makes Rick more and more uneasy as the weeks pass. Then, just when Rick discovers an interest in the culinary field and decides to complete his education, the bottom drops out of his world.

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Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

Where Literature And Hobby Meet

by

Phyllis Campbell

It’s no secret to those who know me, that knitting is almost a passion with me. Well, okay, it is a passion. It goes almost everywhere I go. I even knit between practice and time for me to play the prelude, and have been known, hidden away in the organ loft as I am, to knit during the sermon.

Like most knitters, collecting unusual patterns is definitely a part of this passion. This interest was taken a step in what might be considered a different direction when Debbie Macomber began publishing her books featuring her shop on Blossom Street, weaving knitting in with the failures and triumphs of her characters, all held together by that one interest.

In recent years there have been the books honoring characters of literature such as the Jane Austin series. So far as I know, these Austin knits haven’t come out in alternate format, for the blind, but I suspect they soon will.

61qE9UraSoL._SX440_BO1,204,203,200_I recently ran across an interesting book. The copyright date is 2007, but so far as I can tell it has only recently been added to the NLS collection in Braille, and is available for download from BARD in contracted braille format.

It features patterns honoring a relatively recent book and movie character, known to us all, Harry Potter.

Okay, so you can’t even stand the thought of that skinny little kid with glasses who goes around waving his wand! If you truly can’t stand the thought of him, and his magical doings, best stop reading, but if you have no definite opinion about him and all his adventures, stay with us. Seriously, whether you are a Potter fan or not, this book, Charmed Knits by Alison Hansel, is worth a look.

True, the book will probably have more charm (sorry ’bout that) for Potter fans, since the patterns are tied to various characters and situations, but there’s some good stuff there.

The patterns range from the simple and practical to the downright funky, to use Ms. Hansel’s word. They feature the house colors, from the books and movies, and give clear suggestions to the yarns that will achieve the proper effect. My frugal soul rebels at the cost of some of these yarns, but then I’m known for my frugality, so don’t let this discourage you. That said, one of the things I like about Charmed Knits is the fact that many of the patterns are versatile. So you don’t like stripes, don’t fool with them.

There’s a very simple sweater pattern, the Weasley sweater, that has rolled edges at the bottom. I don’t like rolled edges, so if I make it, I’ll use the ribbed pattern that is at the sleeve cuff. The same sweater has the initial H. on the front. I’m playing with the idea of trying to work out a braille initial instead of the print one given in the pattern.

There are patterns for hats, mittens, socks, scarves, sweaters, a knitting bag, wand cozy, an invisibility shawl, ornaments, and to my mind at least, a pattern for a perfectly silly looking housecoat. But, who am I, only a Muggle, a nonmagical person.

Dobby's Socks & House Mittens- Charmed Knits by Alison Hansel

© Alison Hansel

The book begins with the burrow, the home of the Weasleys, Harry’s friends; goes on to Diagon Alley, where all kinds of wizarding things such as floo powder are for sale, and on to Hogwarts, the wizarding school.

When I read the books I found it interesting that so many characters were knitting. When Hagrid the lovable half-giant, took Harry to Diagon Alley to buy his first school supplies, he was sitting on the Muggle train, calmly knitting something that Ms. Rowling described as looking like a yellow circus tent. Hermione knit countless elf hats and scarves in an effort to free the house elves, although the poor elves were quite happy as they were. And of course, Mrs. Weasley was constantly knitting.

Patterns are clearly written, although the sweaters require a bit of concentration since they often cover sizes from toddler through XXL.

All necessary charts have been written out so that we aren’t left wondering what on earth those symbols mean. Material that is written in sidebars in the print edition are written out at the beginning of the pattern. Measurements are given both in US and metrics

There is an index and definition of terms in the back of the book, and stitch explanations with the patterns as well as a list of knitting abbreviations.

It should be noted that Charmed Knits is not an official book, endorsed by J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros., but a creation of the author, and of course is a copyright work.

Mrs. Hansel lives in Boston with her husband, twin boys , and at the time of writing she was expecting a girl.

More On Author Phyllis Campbell:

22853049_364248084029418_3608388457679183598_nPhyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.

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Books by Phyllis Campbell:

 

Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Hello, again Rainne’s Ramblings visitors.
This beautiful story touched me in a very special way.
The reason why, maybe one day I’ll share in a post of my own.
For now, I direct you to the story below.
I’ll warn you in advance, it’s a two-tissue read.

Enjoy, and blessid be.
~Patty (Campbells World)

 

A Song For Adrienne

by John Justice

It was almost Christmas in 1973 when I was asked to tune a piano in a New York mental hospital. This immense facility was located on Governor’s Island in the East River. A bus took me out to the gate and a security guard led me to the main entrance. The captain took me up in the elevator. We walked down a long hallway and he stopped. “Mr. Justice. We’re about to enter a closed psychiatric ward. There are certain things we will ask you to do for your own protection as well as that of the patients. When you enter this facility, the guard will give you instructions. He’ll lead you to the Activities Room where the piano is located. We’re about to approach the entrance. Two guards must be present at all times; one outside and one inside the ward. In that way, we can be sure that none of our guests leaves without authorization.”

By this time, I was becoming concerned. What was it going to be like in there? If I went in, would I meet any of the patients?

The captain pressed a button and I could hear a loud chime coming from inside the facility. The inside guard spoke to us through an intercom. “is this the piano tuner, Sir?” The captain confirmed who I was, and the door was unlocked. The inside guard greeted me, and I took his arm. As we moved through the ward, I could hear strange noises coming from some of the doors we passed. Soon, I was brought into the Activities Room and the guard showed me the piano. “this is very important, Sir. Please open your tool kit, remove what you need and close the case. Then, put it under the piano at your feet. We’ll be watching you through a two-way glass partition to your left. If anything, odd happens, we’ll be here in seconds. But don’t worry. We allow certain patients to move freely through the facility. They are people who pose no harm to themselves or anyone else. Your tuning might draw them, and they will wander in and out. Hold onto your tools at all times, please. Okay Sir. That’s it. Do you need help taking off the front of the piano?” I thanked him and assured the guard that I didn’t need any assistance.

I opened the front of the big upright and tested the keys for possible problems. The instrument was old but in good condition. I collected the tools I would need and started to tune it.

As soon as I hit a few notes, someone came in. she spoke to me. “hello, I’m Adrienne. Are you playing the piano?” Then she surprised me. The lady began playing some kind of classical piece on a flute. I turned to her and explained that I was tuning the piano and I needed quiet to finish the job. She stopped playing, apologized and left the room.

A few minutes later, Adrienne came back and said exactly the same thing again as if we had never met before. She played what seemed like the same flute passage. Once again, I explained that I needed quiet to tune the instrument and she stopped playing.

When Adrienne returned the third time, I understood what was happening and repeated my explanation. She apologized and walked out.

I finished the piano and reassembled it. I sat down and played It Came upon a Midnight clear. Adrienne returned, sat down on a nearby couch and started to cry. That made me sad and my face must have shown my feelings. Adrienne got up, touched my shoulder and said, “Oh no! it’s alright! The music is so beautiful. That’s what made me cry.” She sat down again and I paused before continuing to play.

Something had reached this young woman in her troubled world. Music had taken her out of that odd cycle where she would repeat the same words and actions again and again.

As I continued to play, others joined us but none of them spoke to me. At one point, Adrienne rose, touched my shoulder and thanked me quietly. She left and I never heard her speak again. I wondered why she didn’t try to play her flute. I would have been happy to move to any key. I remembered that she had only played a small part of something I didn’t recognize. Maybe, she wouldn’t have been able to remember an entire tune.

As I left the ward and was escorted down to the bus stop, I thought about Adrienne. What had happened to her? Was she a musician at one time? Did something happen which shattered her existence and left her playing a part of a classical piece which was all she could remember? For a brief time, the music of Christmas brought that lost soul out of her misery. I was glad to give her that little gift of reality. For that brief interval, we shared something very special; the joy of music.

 

About John Justice: In His Own Words:

AuthorPicI was born in 1945, just at the end of World War II. I have been blind since the age of three. Shortly after my birth, my parents moved to a poultry farm in Southern New Jersey. I attended schools for the blind until I graduated eighth grade. I was then mainstreamed into a parochial high school in Wildwood. I graduated with honors in 1964.

I have been married to my wife, Linda, since 1981. We live in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. We don’t have any children. I have always found that being creative was a part of me. I have written many articles for publication and have published several songs. Writing is now, and will always be, my dream.

 

Books by John Justice:

PaddyBookOneCover.jpgThe Paddy Stories: Book One

Blind Paddy Flynn, orphaned at age eight, travels by train from Philadelphia to California in 1947 to live with his childless aunt and uncle, Doreen and Bob Chandler. Part One tells of his mother’s death, his time in a children’s home, the good friends he makes there, and then his long and eventful journey to California.

In Part Two, by a wonderful twist of fate, Paddy and his closest friend from Philadelphia, Lucy Candelaria, are reunited in California. Their unusual and loving relationship and their special form of communication make up a major part of the story.

The large and well-drawn cast of characters includes the residents and staff of the children’s home, the friendly family Paddy stays overnight with in Chicago, the train staff, the several adults who accompany him on different legs of his journey, his kind and welcoming relatives and their wonderful dog, and various neighbors there in California. It’s clear that one neighbor family leads a very different life from the peaceful and prosperous one enjoyed by the Chandlers.

With his loving nature, courage, and can-do spirit, Paddy brings joy and inspiration to many others and even stands up to two memorable bullies, one at the children’s home and one in California. But how will he adjust to life at a school for the blind? Book One of The Paddy Stories ends with Paddy once again having to face an uncertain future.

To be continued in Book Two.

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Love Letters in the Grand

The 30 stories in this collection are all true. I tuned pianos in New York and Philadelphia from 1965 until 1993. The work was rewarding in and of itself, and the characters I met in those years bring back happy memories even today. —John Justice

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It’s Still Christmas

Once getting by financially, the Gleasons have become homeless and close to hopeless. But their faith in God and His mercy has never wavered. Now Christmas is close, and their lives are about to undergo a drastic change. The lifesaving aid they give to a stranger, an elderly Jewish widower, is soon repaid in ways they could never have imagined. Enjoy this touching story of mingled hearts, trust, and faiths.

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Featured Author of the Week by Patty L. Fletcher (pt 2)

Wanda Luthman

13700223_1608454082817676_4467913161563346864_nWanda Luthman published her first children’s book, The Lilac Princess, in 2014 about forgiveness. Next, came her wonderful tale of Tad, in A Turtles Magical Adventure published, March 2016 about self-acceptance. In August 2016, she debuted Little Birdie Grows Up which is her first picture book which exemplifies perseverance. In May 2017, she published Gloria and the Unicorn about a special needs child and empowerment. Most recently in October 2017, she published her second picture book, Franky the Finicky Flamingo which depicts a flamingo as a picky eater until he discovers the food that is right for him.

Biography

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 5 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, Little Birdie, and Franky the Finicky Flamingo). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest.

From the Author:

“I want to inspire young children to be the best people they can be. If I can capture children’s imaginations and entertain them, then the underlying positive character message will come through in each of my books.”

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Wanda Luthman’s Books:

Find Wanda’s books on Amazon and B&N

The Lilac Princess

A modern fairy tale of a young Princess with too much responsibility and not enough freedom. She is an only child to an elderly King and Queen of a Kingdom in turmoil. Upon her rests the responsibility to rescue her Kingdom one day, but for now, she is held within the castle walls for her safety. She longs to go outside just for a moment, to smell the sweet lilacs growing in the meadow. Come along on her adventure when she dares to escape the castle walls and meets a cursed dragon. Little does she know that while the dragon has an evil plan, her sweet spirit may just unravel it.

Quotes from reviews
 “I recommend this very sweet, fun read to anyone who enjoys action, adventure, and dragons.”
“The story line is incredible!”
“The Lilac Princess isn’t a good princess story it’s a great princess story.”

A Turtle’s Magical Adventure

A Turtle’s Magical Adventure is a charming, heart-warming story of a turtle who doesn’t like his shell because it makes him too slow. Tad asks other slow animals if they also mind being slow. Each one gives an answer that helps Tad feel better, but, still he wants to be fast. He happens upon a snake who tells him there is a wizard that can make him fast. He goes on an adventure into The Magical Timberwood Forest to meet the wizard and hopefully get his wish fulfilled. He encounters delightful, magical creatures along the way but also meets with danger and choices. Will Tad get his wish or will the wizard turn him into turtle soup?

Quotes from reviews
“This is such a cute and lovable story. Perfect bedtime reading to the little ones.”
“This is an excellent children’s book full of life lessons.”
“This is a captivating story about Tad, a turtle; who has a perplexing problem to solve.”

Little Birdie Grows Up

Little Birdie Grows Up is a picture book about a fuzzy little blue bird who yearns to fly up in the big blue sky. His Mama encourages him and he tries his best. He is charming and sweet and the illustrations are delightful.

Quotes from reviews
“Wanda Luthman does a very good job with this book. Lots of colorful pictures. Lots of rhyming that small children could quickly learn. Highly recommend this book for children ages one to five.”
“Although “Little Birdie grows up” is written for very young children, who cannot fail to be immediately and deeply attracted to Bryce Westervelt’s vivid pictorial narrative, it is a book which most likely will also engage genuine adult interest.”
“This was the first picture rhyming book I have read and the first time a book has made me cry – but a good cry. Little Birdie Grows up is such a beautiful story.”

Gloria and the Unicorn

Gloria and the Unicorn is a story that will delight you as well as pull on your heart strings as Gloria struggles with her facial disfigurement and wanting to fit in. Gloria’s mother died at birth and her father gave her to Miss Libby, the owner of a children’s home. Miss Libby loves the little girl and feels protective of her. But, it’s not until Sir Louie, the unicorn, shows up that Gloria starts to believe in herself. She has a conflict at school and never wants to go back and then she finds herself in an even worse situation; she encounters the evil Wizards of Malcadore who want to kill her. She must decide if she will face her fear of certain death to save her friend, Sir Louie, or lose him forever. Come along on Gloria’s marvelous journey with Sir Louie.

Quotes from reviews
“this tale by Guidance Counselor, Wanda Luthman, is the charming ‘feel-good’ pill that can trigger discussion that parents, educators, and children will enjoy.”
“This was such a cute story!!… This book sends a great message to children!”
“This was such a great book to read with my grandson. It truly has a very meaningful story and a great lesson in love. I recommend this book for all young children and I assure you the adults will love it too!”

Franky The Finicky Flamingo

Franky is a beautifully colored pink flamingo but, he doesn’t know the right food to eat. He tries food that other birds like but he doesn’t enjoy any of them. Then, the unthinkable happens. His adored pink color begins to fade. What will Franky do now? Find out in Franky, The Finicky Flamingo.

Quotes from reviews
“Oh, this is beyond cute!! I love the amazing illustrations.!!”
“My grandson insists we read it every time he comes to visit.”
“I like that the author tried to get kids to understand that not everybody likes the same thing. My son was so happy that that he got to eat pink food it blew his mind!”