Sunday, January 25, 2015

ON THE JOY OF READING IN BED

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” --W. Somerset Maugham “I couldn’t have said it better!!!” –A Bedtime Reader

Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE WRITER'S ALMANAC

The Writer’s almanac I turned to my computer In search of inspiration A crippling case of writers’ block Had dulled my concentration. And there emerged In white and black The inspiring Writer’s Almanac. A beacon of hope A promise to mind Of treasures still out there Awaiting a find.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A PRISONER'S DILEMMA

In the measure of time in a warm winter coat That it takes to escape from there with your arms reaching skyward, stretched taut in the air Tugging ceaselessly upward past chin point and nose tip Endangering earlobes, scraping skin from the forehead Do you pause to reflect on the infinite wonder Of a world filled with humans preoccupied inventing Spaceships that fly to the moon then come down again But not a dependable zipper?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THE POWER AND PERIL OF FAINT HOPES

Be wary of the faint hopes With their promise of the most to gain In the presence of so little to lose. It is the faint hopes in their faintness, That are most easily mistaken for abandoned hopes And therefore carry the power To disappoint cruelly by surprise. Be respectful of the faint hopes With their power to seem unimportant For the greatest power to make change Where change ought not to be possible Waits unseen in their nurture.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A POSSIBILITY

Contrary as it seems There may be times When winter is beautiful Because the sun is brilliant And the snow is new With chrystals everywhere And the wind forgot to blow So the air is snappy And only a little cold And every neighbour who lives by the river is walking a dog on the park path. Yes, there may be times When winter is beautiful And if there are any Then today is one of them.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A TV INTERVIEW WITH THE FAMILY DOG

Pirate: You’re looking sad today. Anything the matter? Me: Well, nothing too serious. But my TV doesn’t talk. Pirate: It must have broken overnight. Why, just yesterday I heard it spewing out Jeopardy questions and playing Season 8 of M.A.S.H. Me: Oh, it can still do that. What I mean is, it doesn’t really talk to me the way I want it to. It doesn’t say the things I want to hear. Pirate: I have heard that is often the case with humans. But I didn’t know TV’s did it too. What did you want it to say? Me: I want it to tell me what channel I am on. I want it to speak out loud so I will know even though I can’t read the channel indicator. Pirate: I thought it did. Me: Well, it did when I bought it. I searched the Web until I found the only one that would speak the channel number. Then I put out the big bugs and bought it. They call it a SMART TV. Pirate: And now it stopped? It isn’t smart anymore? Me: Well, not exactly. It still could tell me the channel if I unplugged it from the digital box. But now that it is plugged into the digital box, it has to stay on channel 4 so the digital box will work. Pirate: Then why not just unplug it from the digital box? Me: Because then we wouldn’t be able to watch it. You have to have a digital box in order to get the channels! Pirate: Then why don’t you get a talking digital box? Aren’t there digital boxes that talk? Me: Not as far as I know. Pirate: Surely they will invent one soon. Me: Maybe. But that still won’t be enough. Pirate: What more do you want? Me: I want a TV that reads the screen with the channel line-up. I want a TV that reads the screen so that I can operate the PVR. I want a TV that reads the screen so that I can use the DVD player, maybe even the old VCR. I want a TV that treats me as if I were a sighted person. Pirate: Isn’t that what your TV does now? Me: You dogs are so insensitive! I thought I could talk to you! I thought you’d listen. Why do you have to twist everything I say? Pirate: (muttering as he slinks under the bed) Women! It’s enough to make me grateful that I’m neutered.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

BRIDGE ON THE ROAD TO SELF-IMPROVEMENT

When I was in my twenties, I sat down with David and a couple of other friendly people to learn how to play Bridge. The food was good. The company was good. The game was interesting, but it does not stand out in my memory as a pleasant evening. Rummy, Hearts and Crib, I concluded, were more my style. I can’t say I remember what happened—wouldn’t know whether I won or lost. But I certainly remember the way I felt—on edge, inadequate, not too bright, all things considered. The game got off to a good enough beginning. Braille cards with print markings were dealt. I, reading the braille, sorted my hand into suits and began the process of bidding. This is where the trouble started. The source of the problem was not the bidding, nor the playing, though either of these is perplexing enough. What got me down was the hand laid down on the board—a stack of cards which everyone in the game could see, except for me. It should have been simple enough. All I had to do was to be told which cards were in the hand on the board. Then I would remember them all, and keep track of which had been played, while at the same time keeping track of other cards being played, plus make intelligent decisions about how to play my own hand. But it wasn’t simple. To put it mildly, I simply couldn’t remember all the cards in the hand on the board, and which ones had been played, and keep track of all other cards played, and make intelligent decisions about how to play my own hand. In a word, I was a failure. That popular game, the game I had expected to enjoy, had double-crossed me. So I gave up Bridge, turning instead to Rummy, Hearts and Crib. It’s funny how the memory of a failure will stick to you like a burr on a sock. Wishing to shake it off I would try again—once every ten years or so—renewing my commitment to Rummy, Hearts and Crib. On nights made wakeful by a crying baby or a twinging back I would devise technical innovations—reaching across the table after every round to feel the cards on the board, developing a theoretical prototype for a peg board within my reach on which I could place replicas of the cards, removing the peg representing the played card after each play. On the worst nights, I would blunder into a pity party. “If only I could see, I would play Bridge!!!” Come morning, I would put the whole sorry discussion behind me. But it wasn’t the end. The road to self-improvement so seldom really ends. I have a mentor. Her name is Doris Goetz. She’s been mentoring me in various ways every since I was ten years old. She’s an achiever, a proud blind person, independent and strong. She’s the type of person who would work out a very good system for playing a game. She took up Bridge when she retired, said she hoped I’d join her when I retired. Though the prospect appealed to me, I doubted it, and said as much. “I just can’t remember the cards on the board and keep track of the play,” I said. “How do you do it?” “I just keep asking people to tell me what cards are on the board,” she replied. Don’t you feel dumb doing that, I thought. “Don’t they get tired of that?” I asked. “No,” she said. “And anyway, so what if they do?” And that is how, a few years later, it came to pass that I was genuinely surprised to hear myself say to David that I thought I’d take up Bridge when I retired. Perhaps I would play with Doris in a club that involved both blind and sighted players. Would he like to join me? Now that our Wednesday mornings are taken up with Bridge, it would, I have concluded, be easier to play Bridge as a sighted person, because you could simply glance at the cards on the board as many times as you liked. It is, according to David, easier to play Bridge with blind people because they so often ask for a review of the cards on the board, a review that helps to focus the attention of the sighted players. Time passes quickly. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I lose. Sometimes I make smart plays. Sometimes my plays are dumb. I look forward to Wednesday mornings, and I still love Rummy, Hearts and Crib. Bridge has been double-crossed on the road to self-improvement.