Slice Veggies, Not Fingers

Ordinary things do extraordinary things!  In this video, we talk about how to slice fruits and vegetables easily and uniformly.  With today’s simple tip, people who are blind or visually impaired can master this kitchen task safely and easily, and with a very simple and inexpensive tool.

Click on the video below. to find out more.

 

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AUDIOBOOK: The Other Woman

Pictured:  Book cover

by Sandie Jones

The other woman is not the best friend who slept with her fiancé.  Sure, there is one of those, but she is not the other woman. The other woman is not the mistress, the temptress nor the stalker. The other woman is actually none other than Emily Havistock’s future mother-in-law.

Emily is head-over-heels in love with the perfect guy, Adam Banks. And nothing will shake her commitment to him, not even his evil, manipulative, maniacal mother, Pammie.

I say Get Out Now! Run!

Mothers-in-law get a bad wrap. It is hard to adjust to new family with different ways of seeing things and doing things. There is that awkwardness that seems always to be there, even as it fades. So how far does it go?

Yet I do not hate Pammie. Unlike Emily, I do not like Adam. I want to shake some sense into Emily. What doesn’t she get?

Well written, suspenseful, with plot twists that work. In the end, I do hate Pammie, and Adam,  and Emily. And I hate James, too! I have been through a lot!

 

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Available through BARD.

AUDIOBOOK: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Pictured: Book cover

by Christopher Scotton

It had been a horrific few months for Kevin and his family, and the tragedy lives on and roots itself in new agonies.  Kevin and his Mom return to Mom’s roots in rural Kentucky in hopes of each finding a way to deal with their grief and guilt.

Then Paul Pierce is brutally murdered.  Who would do such a heinous thing, and why?  Paul was a gentle man who showed strength and caring and concern for his friends and neighbors,  always readily supportive for anyone in need.  After 18 years as a vital part of the community, Paul had made one fatal error – he had come out.  His homosexuality was always known and accepted by all, but never acknowledged. Now it hung like a banner across the town, across the surrounding hollers and villages.

What greater retreat than tramping, time alone with nature.  Pops (Doc Peebles, veterinarian), Kevin Gilooly (his grandson), and Buzzy Fink (Kevin’s new and only friend)  set off on a 20-mile trek through woods, across mountains, and past man-made coal-mining devastation.  Instead of the quietude and escape from daily life, they must deal with the unthinkable.

A well told, gripping tale.  I was only disappointed in the ending, which revealed the story to be a flashback.  I thought the ending was a little slow and unimpressive following all that came before.

This book is beautifully written with clarity of imagery. I loved the writing style and the stories – my favorite scenes in the Tellin Cave.

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

AUDIOBOOK: Girl, Stolen

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Pictured: Book cover showing a girl with her hands held up covering her face so that she cannot see.

By April Henry

A 16-year-old blind girl sick with fever, cough, and misery of pneumonia, lies curled up in the back seat of her stepmom’s car in a mall parking lot. Her stepmom Danielle has dashed into the mall to pick up new prescriptions to fight the pneumonia. The car keys dangle in the ignition, the door is unlocked. It has only been a few minutes at most.

The car door opens and soon the car is moving quickly out of the parking lot. Cheyenne Wilder, huddled in the back seat, realizes it is not Danielle at the wheel.

Kidnapped! That was not Griffin’s plan. His mission was to steal packages from vehicles in a busy parking lot. Spotting the key in the ignition changed his plan.

Cheyenne’s harrowing adventure had begun. Cheyenne is sick, she is blind, and now she is terrified.

Written for young adults and older, this book is carefully crafted and beautifully written. There are no loose ends. It is suspenseful, scary, and packs an emotional wallop. Blind and visually impaired people of all ages will identify with the protagonist while sighted people will gain insight into the challenges of blindness and ancillary acquired skills.

 

 

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

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AUDIOBOOK: The Couple Next Door

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Pictured:  Book cover

by Shari Lapena

The baby is gone!  Anne and Marco had been at the 40th birthday party of their neighbor next door.  Their houses are attached; they share a wall.  It was just Anne and Marco and Cynthia and Graham celebrating Graham’s birthday with dinner and drinks.  They brought the baby monitor with them.  They would hear the baby and they would take turns checking on the baby every half hour.  Cynthia did not want a fussy baby at her dinner party.

When Anne and Marco returned home after 1:00 in the morning, the baby was gone!  Her crib was empty.  She is barely six months old – she did not walk or crawl away, she could not be hiding in a closet, but they scoured the house looking for her anyway.

The hours ticked by, the days passed slowly . There were clues.  There were suspicions.  There were accusations. Secrets unraveled. So many secrets! Through the anguish, the sobs, and the clenched hands, there was still no baby.  Hope flickered and was dashed time and again.

So many lies! Cover-ups.  Who is protecting whom?  What to believe?  Whom to trust?  Most of all, where is the baby!

What I think does not matter.  Except that I was dead wrong!

Shari Lapena is turning out to be my favorite author.

 

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

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AUDIOBOOK: The Death House

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Pictured: Book Cover depicting a young couple holding hands at the water’s edge under a night sky.

by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough is a horror story. It is a mix of a 19th century orphanage and a futuristic leper colony. Toby was snatched from his home and dragged kicking and screaming to a waiting van while his mother stood by helplessly. He is taken to the death house where he joins other children who, like him, are “defective.” Toby’s blood had tested positive.

The death house is an old secluded boarding school-type facility on an island somewhere in northern England. When the sickness becomes evident, children are taken in the night to the sanatorium on the top floor never to be seen again.

And I have questions.

  1. What is the illness?
  2. Why are the children taken from their families?
  3. There are no indications of contagion. So why are the children removed from society?
  4. Why are the children permitted no contact whatsoever with their families?
  5. What happens in the sanatorium?
  6. Are the children alive when taken to the sanatorium presumably to die, or are they already dead?
  7. Since the children die sometime during the night, are they killed at that time?
  8. What happens to the children after they are taken to the sanatorium? (It must be pretty crowded up there!)
  9. How could Louis, at his tender age, possibly complete even step 1 of the mission he is assigned by Toby?
  10. How can Toby tell the story? Spoiler Alert: Toby is dead!

As much as I enjoyed the story as written (and I did), development of this dystopian society would have greatly enhanced the experience. We are left instead with a love story. This is the discovery of young love, with beautifully written scenes of sexual awakening and exploration.

I was looking for dystopia.

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Available through BARD and bookshare.

AUDIOBOOKS: Someone Knows

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Pictured:  Book Cover

by Lisa Scottoline

Summer of ’99. Four neighborhood teenagers gather, all children of affluence. They meet in a wooded enclave, titillated by their find – a gun. The revolver had been uncovered at the base of a bent tree, reburied and recovered by the group for play. A new boy happens upon the group, but to join them, he must play Russian Roulette. Tragedy unfolds and the kids are saddled with a secret.

Poor Kyle. The victim of a prank that went terribly wrong. But was it a crime? They were just kids, kids having fun. Maybe it was meant to happen. Kyle had issues, and his story had come out in the newspapers earlier that very day. The whole thing sure smacked of suicide. No one will know otherwise.

Twenty years later, they meet again, this time at the funeral of one of them. David has committed suicide on the anniversary of that fateful day. Now just three, they talk, they remember, they rehash. They quickly learn that memory is not always accurate or complete. And so they speculate, accuse, and threaten. Carrying this heavy burden has altered the lives of each of them. They quickly discover their memories do not line up.

As the secret is laid bare, each of the three is forced to grapple with the events of that awful day and the consequences. That secret, deadly at its core, has become deadly again, now even more than before.

Five teenagers and a gun. Add some arrogance, some affluence, and some alcohol, and question whether there has been a crime, acts of immorality, or simply youthful recklessness. Twenty years later, all of the inner turmoil comes spewing forth.

What would you have done?

 

Voice Dream Reader App

I normally read audiobooks. The choices available on BARD are extensive. The quality of each and every book is outstanding. There are no robtic voices but instead are human readers who give professional performances. Many of the offerings are commercial audiobooks that have been adapted for the National Library Service. And it is all free!

Every now and then, a book comes across my radar screen that I really want to read but it is not yet available on BARD. Granted, it does not happen often, but it happens. Most of the time I simply hope that book will be made available in the near future, but sometimes I just want it now.

That happened to me this week. Someone We Know by Shari Lapena was recommended to me but was not available on BARD. So I downloaded it from bookshare. I downloaded the book to my Voice Dream reader app on my iPad.

Voice Dream provides many options. I can choose to read the print or have the print read to me. I can even switch back and forth – reading some of the print and having some of it read to me – at my discretion. Either way, everything is customizable from font size to tone of voice, and so much more.

When I choose to read the book in print on my iPad I have found that Arial or Helvetica work best for me, using font size 60. I set the bold also. I am most comfortable with standard black letters on a white background, but there are times I prefer to invert the colors, and that is an easy accommodation to make.

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Pictured: A screenshot of the Voice Dream Reader as it displays on my iPad.  This image shows Arial font in bold, size 60, black lettering on a white background. One sentence is highlighted in blue. Controls along the top and bottom of the screen are displayed.

Voice Dream will read to me, if I so choose. Sometimes I set Heather to read, sometimes Paul, and sometimes Salli. There are so many to choose from. Each of these speaks in a manner and style that is comfortable for me.

Voice Dream is not just a reader. There are additional features to help the reader get around the book or document, such as highlighting, setting bookmarks, a dictionary, and writing notes. Everything is searchable, too.

A light tap on the screen will expose controls along the top and bottom of the screen. At the top are speech and audio settings as well as other controls. At bottom are the playback audio controls.

Lots of hand gestures are available to help the reader move quickly and easily through every book and document.

Last but not least, Voice Dream imports books from various sources like bookshare and Gutenberg. It imports articles from web addresses and from scanned documents.

Voice Dream is assistive technology that puts everyone on the same page.

VD at the APP Store
Pictured: A screenshot of Voice Dream Reader as it displays in the App Store. 

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We would love to hear from you…

Crochet with Crazy Yarn

Crochet Duster on Blinds
Pictured:  A thick fuzzy crocheted dusting mitt  is shown  swiping dust from window blinds.

Sometimes things look way better than they really are!

Several years ago, I saw a youtuber demonstrate the use of a kind of yarn I had never seen before.  It was Bernat Tizzy yarn.  (Apparently, this particular yarn had been recalled in 2015. Nevertheless, similar yarns are available.)   This is a chunky yarn with lots of little ends hanging off the main strand. The yarn is also variegated – a fuzzy yarn that changes colors too.   This funky yarn was designed to create a product with lots of texture and color.  It looked like fun. I ordered a skein.

I was excited when the yarn arrived and I began to work with it right away.  I had never worked with any fancy yarn before so the whole thing was new to me.  I tried to create the foundation chain, ripped it, and tried a few more times.  After some time, I managed to complete that foundation chain and went on to try and work a single crochet in each chain stitch. After numerous attempts, I dropped the project.  All I had created was frustration.

The other day I watched another youtube video, this one using a similar crazy yarn.  The youtuber had made a dusting mitt. She raved about her project.  The crazy yarn made a great duster, she said. It looked cute.

So I pulled out my skein of yarn that has been tucked away for years and decided to try again.  I simplified the youtuber’s pattern though, and made a dusting mitt in the round – just one piece – no sewing, no fuss.  And after an hour or so, it was done.

Fuzzy Yarn
Pictured: A single strand of funky yarn in varying shades of pink. There are small pieces of yarn coming off of the main strand for the purpose of creating a thick fuzzy knit or crochet project.

This yarn is difficult to work with and I would never spend hard-earned money on such a type of yarn as this again.  However, today it worked.  Because of its thickness, I was able to feel my way even though the stitches were buried beneath the fluff.  If there are errors, no one will ever know!  And it is a dusting mitt; if there are errors, who would care!

My dusting mitt turned out great!   It picks up dust easily from tabletops to window blinds.   It goes in the washer and dryer.  Best of all, I got rid of some crazy yarn that, until now, was just taking up space.

5 Home Remedies for Dry Eye

The pain wakes me from a deep sleep.  It is the worst pain I can ever remember experiencing.  My eyes flood with tears, but I cannot open them.  The tears stream down my face like a flash flood.  My eyes are clenched shut but the tears escape.  The pain continues without letup. I feel for the box of tissues on my nightstand and blot what I can, tissue after tissue.  I flail and toss and turn without purpose.  After some time, the pain is lessened, just slightly, but enough to give me a glimmer of hope.

Hours later, the pain is mostly gone.  I can open my eyes but everything is very blurry – much blurrier than my normal blurry.  My eyes are now hypersensitive to light.  I cannot be outdoors, I cannot look at a computer screen, I cannot tolerate a glowing light bulb.  And so I wait.

By evening, probably 12 hours from the start of the episode, my eyes seem back to normal, normal for me.  I can finally resume my activities.

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That was the first time I experienced a dry eye attack. Since then, I have taken steps to try and avoid such events, but still they occur, a little less intense – just a few a year. JUST a few a year!

I have described these episodes to several ophthalmologists and even more optometrists, as well as other eye care specialists.  Sometimes my messages never even reach a doctor.  Most listen and shrug.  They have no advice, no recommendations.

Once I said to an eye doctor, “it feels like the top layer of my eyeball is being ripped off,” and she responded, “yes, that is exactly what is happening.”  She told me the medical term for what was happening.  That was the end of our discussion.

Not all dry eye sufferers experience what I do.  Some people experience itchiness, redness, blurry vision.  Symptoms and their severity vary.

So here are 5 things I do to try to help myself:

  1. Avoid looking at devices before bedtime.

  2. Blink intentionally and frequently.

  3. Use over-the-counter artificial tears.

  4. Apply warm compresses to closed eyelids.

  5. Gently massage the closed eyelid.

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Do you have a dry eye story to tell or home remedy to share?