OF THE BLIND
Opportunity, Equality, Independence
Winter 2020 Edition
�Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind
and muscle from their endless wintering.�
― Haruki Murakami
Julie Brannon, President
Phone: 206-478-3164����� Email:
Heather Meares, Content Editor
Phone: 720-519-9104����� Email:
Reginald George, Technical Editor
Phone: 816-721-3145����� Email:
WCB Newsline is the 2011 and 2020, winner of the Hollis
Liggett Braille Free Press Award, presented annually by American Council of the
Blind to the top publication in the nation for promoting best journalistic
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
by Julie Brannon
�Music is the great
uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and
anything else can have in common.�
At first, as I sat down to write, I thought I�d just do a
quarterly review, noting happenings since the last Newsline update. However,
since this will be read during the beginning months of 2021, I have decided to
note some highlights of my first year of functioning in the position of
president of this great organization.
As I contemplate the Newsline theme for this quarter,
�music,� it truly applies to the year 2020. Within WCB, we certainly made
music, albeit sometimes in different keys and with different instruments.
Just when we got WCB committees developed, and those
attending ACB�s mid-year and legislative conference returned home, our lives
took a turn that we never expected: the coronavirus hit our world, our country
and, of course, our state. This meant doing things differently, necessitating
non-in-person contact and social distancing.
But WCB, true to form, stepped up to the plate, and started
thinking outside the �normal� box. Some examples include: presidents developing
chapter meetings via a virtual platform; board meetings and our annual
leadership seminar being facilitated via Zoom; ongoing virtual training; and
the big work-around of holding our WCB annual convention virtually (see
convention articles in this issue).
Truly, the creativity and ingenuity required for these
transitions that have been made from �the way we�ve always done it� should be
enough for all WCB members to be proud of the skills, abilities and tenacity
shown by our people, the most important commodity of this great organization.
We weathered elections this year, with our Governmental
Affairs Committee working hard on equal and accessible voting for blind Washingtonians.
To this end, a resolution was written and passed at our annual business
WCB also served as a co-sponsor with Disability Rights
Washington and Rooted in Rights, with past President Denise Colley serving on
their advisory committee, to present the Washington State Government Candidates
This year, we welcomed a new WCB affiliate: Washington
Council of the Blind Diabetics (WCBD). They received their charter at our May
board meeting. The president and organizer is Danette Dixon. WCBD holds a call
for diabetics and others interested on every second Monday of the month, often with
speakers relevant to the topic of diabetes. We�re hoping the word can get out
about this new affiliate, which welcomes non-members to their calls.
on the original WCB coffee calls begun by ACB membership services coordinator
Cindy Hollis, Holly Turri now facilitates WCB�s �coffee and conversation� every
Saturday at 10 a.m. On this call, people have a chance to just gab and connect
with and learn about WCB members and guests. Also, this year we developed
�president connections,� having chapter and affiliate presidents connect with
other presidents, to share ideas, problem solve, and build camaraderie.
only a few of the musical pieces put forth by WCB this year. We�re looking to
2021 for continued growth and strength. Knowing that we�ve survived and risen
above this very non-typical year with courage, creativity and a new clarity,
just think what we can accomplish next year.
Letter from the Editors
�One good thing about
music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.�
― Bob Marley
Greetings and salutations,
We are pleased to be starting the new year with what is our
biggest issue yet. The response to this theme was outstanding, and it is
combined with end-of-year business, convention recaps, our regular section
content, and a new youth section, featuring the first installation of �Youth
Speak� by Lucash Uniack. Luke is also featured in "Cheshire Cat
Interviews" to allow you the chance to get to know him better. Well, we
just couldn�t leave anything out!
The idea of music inspired you all in so many different
ways, and it truly �brings a warm glow to my vision,� hearing the stories of
the musical interludes of your lives. To add a bit more fun, a musical quote
has been assigned to each music-related article (and even a few others, just
because we could), some chosen by the authors, some by the Newsline editors. We
hope you all enjoy this as much as we have, and that it reminds us all how
connected we really are through music.
Your faithful servants and Newsline editors,
Heather Meares and Reginald George
Here is your opportunity to speak out. You can express your
most important thoughts, voice your valued opinions of our articles, inspire us
with your grandest ideas, and share your honest concerns so that we may
continue to evolve our publication into the Newsline you can�t wait to read.
Thanks to everyone who voted in our Readers’ Choice contest and participated in
our Awards gala over Zoom. Voting for this issue�s best article will close Feb.
28. To vote or submit your needed content for our next issue, send an email to
Opinions expressed are those of the authors, and not those
of WCB or our staff.
From Sheri Richardson
Each of these articles made me laugh, cry, think, imagine.
Since I am forced to choose, however, I cast my vote for Heather�s Dreamscape.
I loved this article when I first read it, and it�s even more heart-warming now
as the weather turns cold and the days grow short. As I read it, I found myself
with Heather in her garden, touching, smelling and hearing all the beauty
around us. One of my favorite books in childhood was �The Secret Garden,� so I
guess this theme is especially close to my heart.
From Chris Coulter
I loved reading the article �Introducing My New Friend,� by
Hayley Agers. She wrote about the Victor Reader and GPS with such clever
allusions to a dating relationship that it made me laugh, as well as educating
me seriously about her new digital assistant.
From Carl Jarvis
for the fall issue goes to Heather’s reprint of the article by Sue Ammeter. The
message shared by Sue, that each of us is our own best advocate, is one of our
most basic lessons we can share with other blind people. I met Sue in a
criminology class at the U, when she was just barely 19, and we had one of
those rare friendships. Sue lived her beliefs and set an example for so many of
us. Her story can never be told enough.
And what a
magnificently produced convention it was! Our first WCB virtual convention, and
it appeared as if we’d been doing it for years. Even someone as techy
Cchallenged as myself was able to listen to all the presentations and vote for
every candidate. And if nothing else, I found myself deciding it is well past
time to come out of my cave and learn Zoom.
as well oiled as this virtual convention was, it couldn’t rise to meet some of
the reasons we all love our face-to-face conferences. Like tripping over a dog
guide stretched out in the aisle. Or walking into the room marked
"Women." Or reaching the elevator just in time to have the doors
close. Or hearing that your name was called for a door prize just after you
stepped out. Or the feel of hot coffee being spilled down the back of your
than those pleasures, I do believe that next to attending in person, this
convention was a very successful event.
issue did an extraordinary job of answering the call to get members to
reminisce. I loved all of the nostalgic and historical contributions, both
personal and strictly factual. My favorite article was the one by Sue Ammeter.
This had to have been written when we were in our late 30s � before the merger,
before the ADA and before we joined the American Council of the Blind. What a
treat. She was a remarkable, generous person, and I miss her very much.
to all the scholarship winners. I wish I could have met you in person. I do
miss the getting to know everyone, and seeing my friends that I have come to
know in years past. Congratulations to all the new board members.
From Holly Turri
Many thanks to the convention kitchen cabinet. These
were the folks who streamed our meeting and were our hosts. Some of the
individuals who hosted came from other states. Each of these people
volunteered their weekend so we could convene. Virtual or hybrid conventions
are the way to go. All of us, not just the well-heeled, can participate that
way. Thanks to all who made it a superlative weekend.
Cheshire Cat Interviews #11
�The Force is Strong with This One�
by Heather Meares
so keen to play when I left school, I�d have played for nothing. In fact, I did
that for a long time, but my parents stuck by me.�
�The Force is not a power you have. It�s not about lifting
rocks. It�s the energy between all things, a tension, a balance, that binds the
universe together.� — Luke Skywalker
Yes, I am going Star Wars on you again. I know it is not
music related, but just imagine the theme song playing in the background and
all will be well with the universe. I believe the last time I made a Star Wars
reference was a comparison between Yoda and Carl Jarvis, imparting their
infinite wisdom to us. My last column was an article from Sue Ammeter, who was
definitely the equivalent of a Jedi Master in the blindness and advocacy
Today, we are going to the other end of the spectrum, to
have a conversation with a shining new Young Jedi, Luke Uniack, the new youth
columnist for Newsline. Without all these roles, we cannot function properly as
an organization with a balanced equilibrium. If we do not have mentors to pass
on knowledge, we will continue to make the same mistakes, and fail to thrive.
Without the warriors, we will lose the rights others fought so hard to obtain,
and we will not grow in our future. If we do not have a new generation that is
enthusiastic about learning and taking the torch, we will die. Most
importantly, we must view ourselves as a whole universe, rather than old and
Luke is a sophomore at Bishop Blanchett High School and
lives in Ballard. He actively participates in the fall play and the spring
musical each year, in lead and supporting roles. He is also a drummer in the
band and jazz band, and is currently working towards the highest honor in Boy
Scouts, the Eagle Scout, which only about 2 percent of scouts earn.
He says, �And, of course, I do all my schoolwork, and I have
homework, and all that jazz that comes with going to school. I very much enjoy
all of that. Beyond school, I am the founding president of the Teen Advisory
Board at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, working very hard
with Danielle Miller and Erin Groth, to get things up and running. We have had
four meetings in our first year. Very exciting stuff. We are currently working
to create the constitution and bylaws, basing them off of what is already
there, and editing them to make sense for a group of younger people, to see how
we might function slightly differently than the adult board and council.�
Heather: �I know about the art project you did for WTBBL.
Can you tell me more about it?�
Luke: �When I started thinking about where I wanted to do my
Eagle Scout project, I thought about what places are important to me and how I
could give back to them. The first thing that came into my head was WTBBL
because it has had a profound impact on my life. I hated reading in
kindergarten, because it was frustrating due to my eye condition, nystagmus,
which made things blurry and I could not focus on the words. In first grade, we
found WTBBL and it absolutely threw my world upside down. Suddenly, reading
became this amazing thing, and I love to read now. I can go to worlds that I
could never have gone to before. I can hear stories and learn things I never
had access to through these audio books. I have flourished and have a very
large vocabulary now. So back to the project, the library was working on some
renovations, and they had a big blank, red wall facing the window. My idea for
this wall was to have plaster handprints of people who have been deeply
affected by this library, so that first-time visitors could put their hands in
the prints and have this connection. The prints would be in all different
shapes and sizes, to show that tons of people are affected by this library, not
just adults or small children, but everyone all across Washington. The title
for the project is �Lend a Hand so that All May Read.� We had to adjust the
concept, and sent out 200 art kits for kids to make their own tactile,
decorated handprints instead of the plaster ones, which will be framed to hang
on the wall.�
Heather: �I think this will be very neat and can�t wait to
Luke: �Another thing I do is serve on the Legislative Youth
Advisory Council, which is a group of 22 youth, picked from all across
Washington, for their leadership potential, who work to make Washington a
better place for youth. I am the only visually impaired youth on this council.
We did a lot of really great things last year, but none of them involved ideas
about the blind and visually impaired population, which is a bummer, at least
in my opinion.�
Heather: �Do you find there are things you have to find ways
to do differently, and how do you manage that?�
Luke: �It is a decent amount of work and commitment. We do a
lot of volunteering and in-person community outreach work, which I excel at.
Last year, I got to talk to people and be inspirational. This year, I am in
public relations, and am all about the online side of things, like
advertisements and making pamphlets to send out. This has been more of a
struggle. I have had a lot of support from my parents, helping me find
solutions for how to get these things done. They have helped me make PowerPoint
presentations and pamphlets. Because of their support, it has not been too much
of a struggle.�
Heather: �What kinds of technology do you use to help with
these tasks? Do you use phones, computers, or something else?�
Luke: �I have a laptop. Additionally, I have a comically
large monitor above my laptop, so I can make things bigger to read and work on
stuff. I take advantage of the features in the system. My font is set very
large and I always take advantage of the text-to-voice when it is available.�
Heather: �I want to backtrack to the topic of music. How
does music influence your life?�
Luke: �This might seem a little cheesy, but I think that
because vision maybe isn�t my strong suit, audio stuff has always affected me a
lot. I get a deeper appreciation for music than some of my peers because I rely
on my other senses a bit more than most people. A lot of art we have in this
society is visual, it�s paintings, buildings, skyscrapers. We live in a visual
world where lots of people express themselves using a visual medium. Music is
art expressed in an audio medium, and I can take advantage of this, which is
Heather: �Do you have any favorite kinds of music or
Luke: �My music taste has been affected a lot by my dad. He
grew up in the 80s, so a lot of Led Zeppelin, Guns & Roses, and 80s music.
I�m really into rock, I think because I�m a drummer.�
Heather: �Who�s your favorite drummer?�
Luke: �Oh man, I have a list of my favorite drummers on my
thought board in my room.�
Heather: �Tell me about that!�
Luke: �Yeah, so I have a board here with all my favorite
things. There�s a picture of my family, a picture my sister drew of me when she
was six (very great!), a Seahawks banner, and a picture of me drumming, pinned
next to a list of my favorite drummers. Will Smith is a pretty contemporary
drummer. He has revolutionized modern jazz, and is called the bridge between
classic jazz you would hear in New Orleans, vs. modern jazz you hear today. So
he�s my favorite drummer. He does all these crazy things like spinning his
drumstick on the top of his hand. My teacher also introduced me to another
drummer, Endoas Martinez, who has perfect sticking technique, and does it with
the least amount of effort possible. Because of this, he can hit the drum at
unbelievable speed, for a ridiculously long time, to the point where video
can�t even catch the stick.�
Heather: �You mentioned Led Zeppelin, which happens to be
one of my favorites, as well. I didn�t truly discover them until later in life,
and I love how they incorporate so many different styles and influences into
Luke: �Yes, if you listen to any five songs on their
Stairway to Heaven album, they all have a completely different sound.�
We digressed on this topic for a while, and I loved that we
could have this conversation, being from such different generations…but
clearly the same universe. Music was a common denominator.
I asked him my final question: �If you could say one thing
to the world, what would it be?�
His response was quite profound. He said, �Think of two
houses, one has a wilting tree in the front yard, the other has a big,
beautiful, blooming apple tree. Regardless of what the house is like, which one
would you want to live in? The negative impact of the wilted tree is going to
make this house look worse, and the apple tree will make that house look
prettier. Everything we do is connected. If we realize that the good we do for
other people reflects positively on us, and the bad we do to others will
reflect negatively on us, it will eventually always come back. Everyone here on
earth is not just individuals. We are connected in a web of one person who
affects someone else, who affects someone else, and so on. We should remember
that we are not isolated from each other, even though we live in an isolating
society that promotes individualism, which can be good. We forget the idea that
we are all together in this struggle to find the meaning of life. If we realize
this, the world would become a much more caring place, we could stop having
those wilted trees, and the whole world would be a big, beautiful apple
Chronicles of a Happy Warrior #6:
Life Happens Between the Notes
by Mark Adreon
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Music, the Melody of Life
by Alco Canfield
�There are two means
of refuge from the miseries of life: music, and cats.� ― Albert Schweitzer
I played piano as a child, but never really fell in love
with the instrument.
When I was 16, my parents bought me a Silvertone guitar from
Sears. I figured out how to make the chords. When I went for some lessons, I
discovered that all of my fingering was wrong. I still keep one chord I call my
Illegitimate D. It is just easier to make it the way I do.
My first gig was a Sunday school class. The song I did had
only three chords. I had my first fan club, a group of four-year-olds.
The guitar I had the longest was a Harmony Classical. I
wrote all of my best songs on it. We really bonded! From coffeehouses to
classrooms, from trains to retreats, my songs have surprised me, expressing
emotions and ideas I didn’t know I had.
I find it easier to sing what I feel. There is a certain
magic in creating. Melodies and words come to me unbidden. Each time this
happens, I am filled with awe.
I treasure this creative gift, and am grateful every time it
manifests itself. I am honored to share my melodies of life with others.�
Some people think they don’t know how to sing. They bury
their song inside.
Everyone has a unique melody. Share it, do not hide it. No
more need to hide.
Music Kept Me Sane Through Cancer
by Zack Hurtz
�I like beautiful
melodies telling me terrible things.�
We all have a story to tell that highlights our trials and
tribulations, and this is a small part of mine. In order to set the story
correctly, I must first tell you some background information so you don�t have
to play the guessing game.
At a month old, I was diagnosed with a fairly rare eye
cancer called bilateral retinoblastoma, which in 1990 was considered a death
sentence. Of the four children treated by my doctor with this cancer, only two
of us survived. I was given large doses of radiation, which will make a return
later on in this narrative. Eventually, the cancer kept fighting and to save my
life, both of my eyes were scooped out with great skill and showmanship I�m
I grew to be a cute, sarcastic punk of about six years old
when this story really begins. Small signs made sure we knew about the tumor
eating its way through my skull, like myself at a fried rice diner. The
osteosarcoma was a happy, healthy tumor ripping apart bone, feasting on my
blood, and targeting my brain for dessert. Doctors at the time thought the
tumor was cancerous caused by the previous radiation and told my family I had
three months to live.
I was instantly put on chemo and was kept in Seattle
Children’s Hospital for weeks at a time, with a week in between at home.
Counselors told my dad to get me interested in a hobby to help calm me down and
relax me. You see, at six years old, I was a smart, hyper ADHD-driven idiot who
couldn�t sit still. When you�re attached to machines, this becomes a problem �
not to mention they thought having an activity would help me cope with stress.
At this point, I�d like to say I chose something easy and
fun, but I wanted to be a musician when I grew up. So, I picked the piano. My
dad reached out to Glenna Zinni and asked her if she could teach a student who
was totally blind. Glenna had never taught a blind person before but she
offered to give it a shot.
When we first met, we became lifelong friends right then and
there. That first lesson really showed us both what I was capable of. She�d
play a note on the piano and have me find it. I was fast, and by my third
lesson was already starting to learn �The Entertainer,� along with basic levels
of music theory. So, while I was undergoing chemo and operations, I learned how
to play the piano and performed at several recitals. I�d practice on a small
keyboard in the hospital and would play on several pianos around the hospital.
This was the foundation of my musical interest.
As I grew older and hit my teenage years, I lost interest in
the piano and shelved my music education for a while. One day, I decided to
start playing again and wanted to learn guitar. I returned to Glenna and
started back up with lessons, which helped me fight the depression caused by
chronic nerve pain and heavy opioid use. While sitting outside of Glenna�s
studio, I could hear an older dude teaching guitar in his classroom. He had my
full focus even though I was eavesdropping.
I asked Glenna to make an introduction and that�s when I met
Kevin Wyer, a local rock star in his own right. After a few lessons, Kevin told
me he�d given Kurt Cobain from Nirvana his first three guitar lessons. He
didn�t see Kurt until a year later, rocking out on MTV with his first hit,
"Smells like Teen Spirit."
After learning that tidbit of news, I spent as much money as
I could spend taking hours and hours of lessons. Both of them worked together
to provide an amazing experience of music, knowledge and lifelong friendship.
They helped me escape physical pain and gifted me with understanding and
What I learned from Kev and Glenna will continue to shape my
life and my ability to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. They�ve helped
me turn negative emotions into positive ones and helped me strengthen my memory
Music is a constant in my presence and keeps me on track.
Through their knowledge and teaching, I found a skill where vision wasn�t
required, and I could be on equal footing with everyone else.
While I�m not a professional rock star, I still break out
the guitar and let myself fall into at least an hour of playing a day when
possible. I�ll get back into the piano soon. I�m looking for an easy-to-use
MIDI keyboard, as I move a lot and can�t drag a full-size piano with me. My ear
training has increased, and melodies are my puzzles. I appreciate Kev and
Glenna and would like to say �thank you so much!�
This is just a small look into my experiences with music,
cancer and all that comes with it. If you have questions or want to know more,
please feel free to reach out.
What Does Music Mean to Me?
by Nathan Brannon
by Holly Turri
"Music produces a kind of
pleasure which human nature cannot do without.�
In this time of serious sadness and soul searching, I
desperately need music. We all do. If it is the song of morning birds, the
laughter of good friends, or our favorite artist or genre, we must relax and
listen to transform our lives from existence to living.���
To keep our minds young and flexible, it’s great to try
something new that we have never heard previously. Now, for all you musical
purists, I have a confession to make: Easy listening has become my go-to for
those stressful moments. Jim’s mom always said it was valium for the ears.
During the COVID-19 crisis, elevator music has kept me sane. This is a tough
admission for a heavy metal girl.
My absolutely, positively, without a doubt favorite music
genre is that which celebrates Christmas. In my world, carols and songs of the
season are the happy soundtrack that accompanies the most wonderful time of the
Carols are the music which honors Jesus’s birth. As my dear
daughter said as a kid, "They’re the churchy ones with Jesus�s name in
them, right?" Everything from "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" to
"Go Tell It on the Mountain" falls under this category. Although
childhood has passed me by many years ago, my favorite is "Away in a
Manger." Did you know there are three versions of this wonderful song? The
one most commonly sung and heard is the least appealing to me.
Christmas songs are those which celebrate the temporal, some
say commercial, side of the season. You know � snow, fireplaces, roasting
chestnuts and, of course, Santa Clause. The one I absolutely adore is "The
Christmas Song." It should have been called "Chestnuts Roasting on an
Open Fire," but I didn’t write it. Originally, Nat King Cole performed and
presented it with the most feeling and beauty. Whether I’m in a subway or a
meeting, when it plays, I get all choked up.�
On the kid front, my absolute favorite is Rudolph. His saga
can be related to by most of us. Even better, the underdog, or in his case,
red-nosed reindeer, prevails. Beat down the bullies, baby! His TV special is
wonderful, too. Since I can watch it any time on Netflix or my DVD, sadly, some
of the glitz and glam has faded.
The carol I absolutely despise is "We Three Kings of
Orient Are." Excuse me? "Westward leading still proceeding"
sounds like a morning traffic report on my radio. Although I know the history
of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," it still makes me tired. For those
who don’t know about this, it was composed during a time of religious
persecution in Britain. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus on the cross, and
the three French hens are the trinity. There are coded meanings for all the
other 10 gifts, which I don’t remember. My main beef is it is repetitive and
played too often.
Please, oh please, oh please don’t ever make me sing
"Deck the Halls."� That is my No. 1, least favorite song of any. Look
at my name and you’ll figure out why. As a tender young flower, I was
mercilessly teased about it.� People wanted to hang me on the mantle, etc.
Being high strung, I’d get mad, which just egged them on.
The best part of all this beautiful music is caroling.
Singing this gorgeous music with friends and family on a crisp, cold night in
front of neighbors and friends’ homes is so tender and lovely. Eating cookies
and drinking a hot beverage afterward isn’t bad either.
The great composers wrote their best work celebrating
Jesus’s birth. The highest revered orchestras have produced their most amazing
arrangements with this genre. Even pop and rock artists seem to enjoy singing
songs old and new.
When I was a child and had two digits in my age, I was
considered mature enough to attend the 11 o’clock candle-lighting service at
our church, which was a highlight of my life. Putting on a dress was worth the
chance to attend. Before the main event, the handbell choir performed. Their
sound was so rich and melodious. My childhood church had a big pipe organ.
After the candles were lit, �Silent Night� was sung, and the room was filled
with a peaceful, warm feeling. Our organist would, with a huge flourish, segue
into �Joy to the World.� We’d blow out our candles, and sing it at the top of
our lungs. Holy hot cder, Batman! That was just like being in heaven.
To survive and flower, our souls need and should crave
music. It’s the balloon that lifts us over the ruts and bumps in the road of
life, the balm that soothes our troubled hearts, and the vehicle that
transforms an ordinary day into a joyous one.
Voice Tonality: The Music in Our Speech
by Chris Coulter
Music Between Friends
by Hayley Agers
fail, music speaks.�
So many times, words are unnecessary to understand what�s
going on in a person�s heart. I recently heard a quote in a movie that really
brought this home for me. The quote went something like this, �Love is knowing
the song in a person�s heart, and learning to sing it to them when they need it
Isn�t that a lovely concept? Taking the time to listen to
what moves a person�s soul to soar, and being able to recall that information
when a person may no longer be able to put into words what they need.
When I saw the theme for this Newsline, I knew immediately
who I should write about. Have you ever had that friend that when you are
together, you never run out of things to say? A friend whose words lift you so
high that you feel you could do anything?
What if one day, almost without warning, that same friend
was no longer able to be there because they need you, instead? And what if that
friend relies on you being able to read her facial expressions and body
language to know her thoughts, but you are unable to see them due to blindness?
That�s where music can fill the gap.
When my daughter Sydney was only five years old and off to
kindergarten, I wondered if I was sending her off to school too early, and
whether she was mature enough to sit in a classroom all day. On the first day,
David and I decided to drive both kids, get photos of them in front of the
school sign, and hopefully with their new teachers.
I first met Sydney�s kindergarten teacher, Ms. Akervold, in
September 2013. I knew right away this friendship would go way beyond the
one-year span of time Sydney would spend in her classroom.
Over the years, we spent many hours together. I would
prepare a meal for the two of us, and meet her in the lobby of the school
during her lunch break.
Did I mention that this date meant a two-hour bus ride each
way to make it happen? Ms. Akervold, also known as Lynn, was worth it. It was a
great opportunity to work Farley, and Lynn may not have agreed to lunch with me
if I didn�t have my guide dog.
In the years following kindergarten, no matter how far
Sydney’s class was from Lynn�s, Farley always wanted to take me to that same
classroom. It was a great excuse to stop by for one of Lynn�s amazing hugs.
Fast forwarding a few years, and after several attempts to
reach out to Lynn to make a lunch date, I received a message from her with
devastating news. She hadn�t been feeling good for a while, and now we both
knew why. Lynn was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I could not
believe what I was hearing. This amazing, kind, and beautiful lady had come
into my life when I wasn�t looking for it, and now she was going to be taken
away. Inside, my heart was broken but I wanted to be strong and be there for
her no matter what life was about to dump on her.
After months of chemo and losing her hair, intensive
hospital stays, and the many meals I prepared to give her family time to spend
together instead of in the kitchen, her battle was coming to an end. There was
no more the doctors could do. Now, it was a matter of making her remaining days
full of love and comfort.
On one of my visits, I played a song for Lynn � one that I
had heard on the radio that made me think of her. At this point, she was still
able to talk to me. She told me how much she loved the song, and how the words
encouraged her and brought her peace on difficult days.
We had many heartfelt conversations in the months that
followed. As the weeks progressed, the words became harder to comprehend, in
part due to the effects of the chemo therapy on her thinking, the extreme
fatigue she was now feeling, and the strong medications she was on to keep the
pain under control.
We would always take time to listen to our special song.
Often, she was too tired to talk, so we�d just hold hands and listen.
A few days before her passing, her family called and told me
to come see her, as it wouldn�t be much longer. I showed up, hoping I could be
what she needed that day.
As they wheeled her out to the living room, there was a part
of me that was glad I could not see what this horrible disease had done to my
sweet friend; a strong woman of tall stature, beautiful long hair flowing down
her back, a laugh that filled the room, hugs that were so enveloping you wished
she would hold on forever, and a child of God who loved him with all her heart.
Lynn was now a frail figure, needing to be brought to me in a wheelchair. She
could barely hold up her head. Her hands barely had enough strength to hold
mine, and she was no longer able to talk.
But here is what�s important: �Where words fail, music
speaks,� said Hans Christian Anderson
I sat next to her while our special song played. I laid my
head on her shoulder, and she then laid her head on top of mine. She tried to
speak, but the words just wouldn�t come. When the words weren�t there, the
music spoke for us. The tears from her still beautiful eyes rolled down her
cheek and onto mine, which was all we needed in that moment. I didn�t need to
see her face to know she was smiling for our times together. I didn�t need to
see at all to feel what the words were saying to both of us. We had all those
wonderful years together, and we knew how much our friendship had meant to the
Her hand in mine was weak, but I could feel her fingers
trying to curl around mine, as if to say �I�ll never let go, I�ll always be
here.� The words would not come out, but the way she tried to hum the words of
our special song told me that she really wanted me to listen and hold onto
them, thinking of her when I felt lost and alone.
Lynn lost her battle with cancer on Easter morning. What an
ironic thing, or not, that she would be taken home on this day that was so
meaningful to her.
I often play this song � in times when Lynn has been on my
mind, on days that I don�t feel so strong, and mostly when I just want to feel
her close to me.
Sometimes, I cry because I miss what we had. I grieve what
should have been for us, but I also am incredibly grateful that I had years
with Lynn in my life. I know I have our song, which binds our souls forever.
Take time to listen to the songs that are sung in the hearts
of those you love. Never take for granted the friendships you have. Create
memories that will last forever.
Must Have a Song in My Heart
by Danette Dixon
�We are the music
makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.�
All my life I have had a song in my heart. When I was in
grade school, I started playing a song flute in my school band. All through
middle and high school, I played a clarinet in the marching band and concert
band. My senior year, I played an E flat clarinet, which is much smaller than a
regular clarinet, like the piccolo to a flute. To this day when I attend or
watch parades hearing the drums, I get all choked up when the marching bands
come down the street.
My sister had a saying. When she saw my school band coming
down the street in a parade, if you do not see someone in the row, look down
shorter and there I am. This was a huge joke in my family. Even attending my
friend�s granddaughter�s concert band, I still get a little teary eyed.
After high school, I sang in a choir at church for many
years. But I found out that my favorite times were playing my clarinet in the
These days, I really enjoy worshipping our Lord. This is my
favorite time at church. Having songs in my heart brings me much joy and
happiness when times are hard. I am grateful I grew up playing instruments, and
with music. It changes my outlook on life for the better.
The Music of My Life
by Hayley Edick
Dance with Me
by Julie Harlow
is an outburst of the soul.�
I am standing in line, and my
cane, named Jake, becomes my dance partner as I move around it, listening to
the music in the store. I giggle and laugh, as some might think I am a little
crazy. This may be so, at least a little, but music is the cloud that can carry
you to so many places. Perhaps it reminds you of the past, your first kiss, a
friend or loved one, a child, or a moment that can bring you joy. Music can
emit a host of emotions, but for me, the best ones are those that make me want
I am in line at Fred Meyer, and
I am taken back to this very store over 20 years ago, remembering my
free-spirited son throwing his head back with his arm outstretched towards me,
armed with his best English accent, saying, �Dance with me, Mother!� I would
take his hands, as we began to dance through the aisles twirling, while his
stepsister mumbled under her breath, �I do not know you people.� That was not
the only time my beautiful stepdaughter scooted away from us, always shaking
her head, and turning red. I laugh as I think of my rigid upbringing, and how
music just makes me want to dance. I could never have done something of this
nature in the presence of my parents.
My military father loved his
country 8-track tapes in the 70s, while my German-born mother would play what I
call her polka music. Although finding myself leaning toward the current music
of the time, we did not have radio tuned to any genres other than country or
polka in my house. I lived overseas, and only had one radio station for all of
Europe. My father felt that The Beatles ruined music, and he then insisted on
switching to music that made sense to him. I loved going to my friends� houses.
They shared with me music that their older siblings were listening to, and I
was excited to hear groups such as Three Dog Night playing �Joy to the World.�
The teenagers were doing the �bump� in their living rooms. I was so fascinated,
but afraid to move, to try to do something like this, even though it looked and
felt like fun.
The military base where we lived
when I was 12 had a dance one Friday night. My friends convinced me to go,
despite being terrified to ask my parents or also admit that a boy had asked. I
did go, and found out it was the quarterly dance contest. I was mortified. I
had never danced before, not even alone in my room. I got up the nerve, did it,
and Vincent and I came in third place.
For my 13th birthday,
I was given my first little boombox. I couldn�t have been more thrilled as I
put on headphones, cranked up the volume, and wore out the cassette tapes of my
favorite albums. I began to secretly dance in my room, never having the courage
to do it in front of anybody.
Because of the rigidity of my
own upbringing, with my kids, I felt if they had to listen to our music, then
we should listen to theirs. Through my kids, my interest grew, expanding to a
larger variety of music, and I loved so many different styles of songs. We had
a blast in the car, as my ex-husband taught our children his favorite rock and
roll songs, while I introduced them to disco, R&B, and other dance music.
One of our family�s favorite memories was bouncing down the highway, my
ex-husband driving, with me and my three kids motioning each letter to the song
�YMCA!� I was intrigued with the choices my kids preferred compared to my one
radio station of choice.
Once I got the dance bug, I
wanted to be a professional dancer. I did not know how to make that dream a
reality. I dreamed as I watched the Solid Gold Dancers, American Bandstand, and
Soul Train, and found my own groove, feeling how each song made me want to
perform. I was fortunate to live overseas, where dancing in the local clubs was
not restricted due to age requirements. At 16, we found ourselves dancing
Friday and Saturday nights on a regular basis. My love of dancing to music has
taught me to learn all types: country line, the two-step, swing, hip hop,
ballroom, the Macarena, and most of the slides. Today, I teach my love for
music and dancing to my granddaughter as we dance to the �Elmo Slide.�
With my hearing loss, I always
struggled to hear all the lyrics to songs and made up my own versions. My
friends and I would laugh, as they told me what the words really were. Oh, how
the internet helped, as I spent hours looking up lyrics to my favorite songs,
giggling to myself, saying, �Oh, that does make more sense.� Due to this issue,
and not being able to carry a tune, I never sang, not even in church. I just
mouthed whatever I thought people were saying. So do not ask me to sing
karaoke, but while you sing, I will be your �Fly Girl,� with Jake as my dance
The blessing of being blind is
we can dance, enjoy our partners, and not see judgement as we embrace a song.
Be ready, because if you are with me, I may grab you with my outstretched arm
and say in my best English accent, �Dance with me!�
Book chat Winter 2020, Musical Memories
by Alan Bentson,
writer I know would rather be a musician.�
— Kurt Vonnegut
As you may recall, we were discussing memoirs. In his
excellent memoir, �And Then There Was Light� (br#11692 and DB46611), Jacques
Lusseyran, a blind man who was a leader of the French resistance and a survivor
of Nazi concentration camps in World War II, says, �Music is for the blind, but
not all the blind are for music.�
I am sure most of us, as blind or low-vision persons, have
found music to be especially important to our survival, whether we can play and
sing or not.�
As it happens, the three books I read about music this year
are all memoirs that depict the important part music played in their authors�
survival. In �The Good Life,� by Tony Bennett and Will Friedwald (available
from bookshare.org), the well-known singer offers a straightforward autobiography.�
Anthony Benedetto might have been an ordinary working-class
guy from an Italian American family in New York, except that from his youth he
had a strong and immediately recognizable singing voice. He spent most of his
apprenticeship singing in a jazz band in Italy in the closing days of World War
II where he met many musicians who would assist him in his career.� The book
contains many anecdotes, which the author has obviously used in many
interviews, and mentions many famous people he has worked with. This is a
celebrity memoir after all. The name dropping did not bother me; it was like
traveling through a tapestry of names to evoke the decades Bennett has lived
through. It is clear that among his many talents he has a talent for making
National Library Service has a couple of recent shorter
books by Bennett, but they do not give the comprehensive picture of his life
contained in this story. Though it is a sunny, optimistic book, he does not
leave out his failed first marriage, failed business ventures and struggles
with record labels over artistic integrity.� His refusal to give in to rock or
disco or whatever the current fad might be has been rewarded by the rock
generation with enthusiastic loyalty and respect.�
He also talks at length about his love for painting.
Apparently, this was not just a casual hobby, but a real second career. For the
fans, this book mentions many records that you have probably never heard of and
will want to acquire.
In her award-winning audio book, �Society�s Child: An
Autobiography� (available from audible.com), Janis Ian also describes the
entire breadth of her life.�
Janis is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and guitarist, and
the book is dotted with recorded snippets from her songs. She has a great love
and devotion to music, which saw her through a difficult early career trying to
survive as a budding pop star and finish high school at the same time. As a
creature of the 60�s, this book is a lot more personal and emotional than
Bennett’s. She discusses her disastrous marriage, her illnesses, both physical
and psychiatric, her long battle with the IRS caused by an unscrupulous
accountant, and much more.�
I had not known that after stepping back from her career as
a recording star, she eventually made it to Nashville, and what a profound
effect this had on her musical life. Here, the song snippets are very
revealing. She has also recently developed a career as a science fiction
writer, anthologist, and judging by the list on audible.com, has done quite a
bit more book narration.� �������
A different kind of musical survival is described in Steve
Lopez�s book, �Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship and the Redemptive
Power of Music� (db66602), narrated ably by Gary Tipton.
Lopez, was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times when he
encountered a homeless man playing a two-string violin on skid row, became
personally involved with him, and tried to improve his life. This was not easy
as Nathaniel Ayers behaved just like any homeless person you have met on the
street, could be vile and abusive, berating our author with foul and racist
language, and being totally unpredictable and resistant to being changed.
Ayers was one of the first African-American students at the
Julliard School of Music in the early 1970�s, but he also suffered from
paranoid schizophrenia, and the pressures proved to be too much. He ultimately
withdrew from school. Lopez is a novelist as well as a reporter (with other
books on BARD) and he tells an overly complicated story in an eloquent and
concise narrative that barely runs 300 pages.�
As a totally blind person, I have thought a lot about help,
how to get it, who to ask for it, how to reject it when it is not wanted, how
to accept it even if unneeded in order to promote social connection. I have
thought a book could be written about how to do a good deed, which we are
advised to do, but it is also true that the Good Samaritan was undertaking a
risky venture. Now I think there could be a whole bookshelf devoted to this
topic. This book should be a prominent entry. It is full of descriptions of
music, and music was a path that led Lopez and Ayers to respect each other and
see each other beyond the labels.�
If you want to hear a bunch of this music, I recommend the
movie based on this book starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Fox.�
Gentle reader, I hope we all survive the winter, and listen
to a lot of music to enable us to survive with style.
Virtually Live Concerts
by Sheri Richardson
�If you were music, I
would listen to you ceaselessly, and my low spirits would brighten up.�
No matter one�s age, gender, location, or any other grouping
you can think of, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that 2020 has
been jammed full of new challenges and opportunities. Many pitchers of lemonade
have been made from the lemons brought to us and grown by us this year. When I
first heard about the new coronavirus and its potential, I promised myself that
I would take every challenge that came my way and try to see if it could be
transformed into an opportunity in some positive way. While I cannot say my
efforts have always yielded success, I think I have lived up to my promise
Take music. Music, especially classical, has played a major
role in my life. In fact, my college degree is in music education. While I have
not pursued anything related to music professionally, I have sung in church
choirs or community choral groups throughout my life. The performance and
enjoyment of live music is definitely a source of spiritual renewal and
inspiration for me.
For the past eight years or so, I have been singing with the
Columbia City Chorus, a small community chorus led by a musician/composer with
an incredible sense of community and inclusion. We are definitely an amateur
group as far as musical ability, but we are mighty in spirit. So, imagine how
difficult it must have been for our director to make the decision to stop singing
together in the same physical space. As we all know now, that was a wise and
conscientious decision since we learned soon after about the danger of viral
contagion in choirs and communal singing. Now our group meets via Zoom every
week and, I have to admit reluctantly, I have not chosen to participate in that
way. Nevertheless, I am very proud of our director and those who do continue to
keep our group alive until we can all come together in the same space once
My husband and I enjoy attending Seattle Symphony concerts
and the Seattle Opera. I remember when I got my first career job thinking that
I would be able to hold season tickets to these events one day, and I achieved
that dream. As the years have gone by and we have gotten into a pleasant routine
of attending these concerts, I am not sure I realized how much the music and
the performances really meant to me until they were suddenly taken away.
About this time, I received an email from Groupmuse, a house
concert group for classical music lovers. They decided to try streaming a live
concert on Zoom almost before I had even heard about Zoom. I decided to give it
a try, and what a wonderful surprise. With my small Bose speaker sitting on the
back of my sofa, it sounded like the musicians were right there in my living
room. The only difference was that I could sit comfortably in my favorite
chair, wear my most casual clothes, and sip my favorite wine without hassling
with transportation and navigating unfamiliar environments.
Next thing I knew, my husband and I had live concerts
several evenings each week, and the technology was improving all the time. We
have learned about many incredible classical musicians around the world as they
have performed, first from their own living rooms or bedrooms, and then from
churches or small concert venues. Not only have they shared their musical
talent, but they have freely given of their experiences, hopes and dreams to
bring hope and strength to their listeners. This fall, there has even been a
return of the Seattle Symphony doing live concerts, as well as the opera to a
lesser degree. While I can enjoy recorded music any time, I have found an
incredible amount of joy in being able to participate in many live concerts
this year, far more than I could ever do in normal circumstances.
I have also reconnected in a meaningful way with my love of
classical and jazz music. I have been moved to tears and found peace, as well,
in the beauty and magic of music. I believe that when I look back on 2020, I
will probably not recall those moments of fear and uncertainty, or sadness and
loneliness, or disappointment in not being able to do all my favorite
activities. I will, I believe, remember the hundreds of hours I have spent
sitting with my husband in our cozy living room while transported to another
plane by the majesty of the sharing of the gift of music through virtually live
If you would like to know more about Groupmuse concerts,
which are quite affordable and rely primarily on donations, check them out at
Music And My Memories
by Bob Cavanaugh
"It’s so nice, I
want to hear the same song twice."
I was visiting with fellow Washington Council of the Blind
member Jenny Anderson when she published her book earlier this year. That got
me thinking: What would a book written by me look like? I came up with a list
of songs that have significance to me, the stories behind which would be told
in chronological order. I�m just going to pick a few at random, some based off
the playlist I�m listening to as I write this article.
First up, we have Lizzo�s �Truth Hurts,� a song you couldn�t
get away from last summer. I attended day camps through Outdoors for All. The
whole attitude of those two weeks was about playing and having fun, and when I
hear that song, it makes me so happy. Every time we got in the van, it was on.
Truth is, I heard it five times on this particular day. It was playing on the
bus, then in the van on the short trip from Magnusson Park to Mathews Beach. I
heard it again on the return trip, and in the car on the way to my study, and
yet again on the Access bus trip home. That�s not the only song I have from
that summer, though. I also fell in love with Post Malone�s �Goodbyes,� and Saweetie�s
Next up, Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z, �Talk That Talk.� This
memory comes from 2012, which was the year I graduated from high school. On our
way to the after-graduation party, we had the bus radio blaring the top 40
station. I was tired all day, so didn�t think I had enjoyed the party all that
much, but the next day after some sleep, I realized how big of a night this
actually was. I went to the station�s website and copied the playlist from that
night to a file on my BrailleNote, which I still have to this day.
The next story involves the 2005 hit, �Move Along,� by The
All American Rejects. It is Saturday, June 12, 2010. At the time, I was playing
in a baseball league for people with all types of disabilities, and I had just
returned from our end-of-season jamboree. I set up Audacity, a free Multi track
audio editor and recorder for windows, Mac and other operating systems, to
record the Saturday Night Shuffle, from WRQX in Washington, D.C., which would
quickly become my favorite Saturday night program. This song came on about
halfway through the recording, and though I had never heard it before, I fell
in love with it right away. It was what would happen the next day and in
subsequent months that would cement it for me as a significant song in my life.
I had been planning for months to go to a trampoline place with some friends
from school. I had so much fun that day that I couldn�t stop talking about it,
and decided to take one of my friends as a weekend outing. As we walked in,
what�s playing? You guessed it, �Move Along.� Seattle wouldn�t get a station
that played it in regular rotation for a few years, so that trampoline place
was the only place I would hear it until I got it for myself a year or so
Last but not least, I want to share a memory from Sunset
Lake. This is the summer camp I went to as a kid and that I came back to in
2017. I could write a whole article just about what camp means to me. Starting
that January, I began working extremely hard to make new friends and have as
much fun as I possibly could. While there were many successes in this, there
were also some pretty spectacular failures. Camp gave me a week of exactly what
I wanted, and I felt something I hadn�t felt in a long time. That year, and
every year since, I�ve liked the theme song and bought it. That year�s was �How
Can it Be� by Lauren Daigle. That was also the year I discovered For King and
Country, who I saw in concert last November.
I could go on and on with stories of what songs have been
associated with my memories. I can�t wait for the day when more take their
place alongside these and many others, as significant songs in my life.
The Benefits of Herbs and Spices � Part Two
� November 2020 by Leonore H. Dvorkin
(Note: The original version of this article was published in the November
2008 issue of a Denver publication called Community News. That publication no
Here’s the basic difference between an herb and a spice: The leaf of a plant
used in cooking is an herb, whereas any other part of the plant (often dried)
is a spice. Spices can be buds, bark, roots, berries, aromatic seeds, and even
the stigma of a flower, as in the case of saffron.
The record of the use of herbs and spices goes back thousands of years. The
traditional Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda evolved more than 5,000
years ago in the Himalayas. Emphasizing diet, it focuses on the prevention of
disease. In Ayurveda, basil is used to protect the heart, cinnamon is used to
stimulate circulation, and ginger is the "universal medicine."
The ancient Sumerians recognized the health benefits of thyme as early as
5,000 BC, and the Mesopotamians cultivated garlic as early as 3,000 BC. The
ancient Egyptians fed their slaves radishes, onions, and garlic to keep them
healthy. In ancient Greece and Rome, mint was used to aid digestion, and rosemary
was used to improve the memory. Rosemary is still burned today in the homes of
Greek students who are preparing for exams. I tutor German and Spanish, and
before I do any kind of studying on my own, I often mix a few drops of rosemary
essential oil with unscented hand lotion and massage the mixture into my hands
Nowadays, scientists are researching the effects of herbs and spices as they
affect cardiovascular health, metabolism, aging, cancer, mental health, and
cognition. There is growing recognition that herbs and spices can do far more
than simply make food taste better or provide extra nutrition.
Some like it hot, and with good reason. Cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce,
ginger, and even cinnamon can increase metabolism and the body’s fat-burning
ability. Mustard also has fat-burning properties and can relieve respiratory
complaints. Ginger can also relieve motion sickness and nausea. Be careful with
it, though, as it can hinder blood clotting. If you’re going to have surgery or
if you take blood thinners or aspirin, you might want to avoid ginger.
Good, and good for your heart: The consumption of garlic and garlic oil has
been linked with the reduction of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the
"bad" kind), and triglycerides. Rosemary can help prevent damage to
blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.
Battling cancer: As a breast cancer survivor, I am always interested in
anything that research says can help protect against cancer of any sort. One
lengthy and scholarly article I read (it had more than 100 scientific articles
listed as references) named basil, lemon grass, mint, nutmeg, parsley,
rosemary, spearmint, and turmeric as having shown anti�cancer effects in animal
studies. Turmeric, a main ingredient in curry, seems to be especially good at
helping to prevent cancers of the colon, skin, liver, and prostate. In
countries where a lot of curry is consumed, the rate of prostate cancer tends
to be relatively low. Certain components of rosemary may inhibit breast cancer.
Plants and mental health: There is a long history of using plants to
influence psychological states. Various herbs have long been used to reduce
anxiety and promote relaxation. Even Peter Rabbit’s mother knew about the
relaxing properties of chamomile, and passion flower is recommended as a
sedative by the German Commission E, a government-supported committee that
evaluates herbal preparations from medicinal plants. Valerian also has sedative
properties. I frequently use chamomile tea or valerian capsules if I have
trouble sleeping. Both are available in health food stores, and even many
grocery stores now stock a wide variety of herbal teas.
If your goal is to perk up your brain and/or improve your memory rather than
to relax, try ginkgo biloba or ginseng, both used in traditional Chinese
medicine. Sage is also potentially helpful to the memory, and there is some
evidence that garlic can slow brain aging through its antioxidation properties.
However, no study that I read suggests any more than a slight boost to
cognition from any one food.
Most people find that reliable old caffeine, as found in coffee, tea, colas,
and chocolate, gives them as much of a mental boost as they need. Just be
careful with those popular "energy drinks," as they can contain
excessive and even dangerous amounts of caffeine and other stimulants.
Herbs, spices, and Type 2 diabetes: I found many references to herbs and
spices that can help manage diabetes. Italian herbalists use bilberry,
cinnamon, dandelion, garlic, ginseng, and prickly pear cactus for glucose
control. Ginseng can help some people lose weight, too.
Osteoarthritis: Ginger has been shown to have a mild to moderate effect in
reducing knee pain. In spite of its hot, spicy taste, ginger appears to inhibit
the inflammation process.
It’s common for older people to have some loss of the senses of smell and
taste, especially if they take several medications. By increasing their intake
of herbs and spices, seniors can increase their enjoyment of food without
increasing their salt intake. Basil, oregano, and thyme are not only delicious,
but also provide valuable antioxidants.
So, dear readers, enjoy all those wonderful herbs and spices, knowing that
they are both good and good for you!
Mushrooms: What on Earth Are They Good For?
by Anne Biswell
When you think of mushrooms, what comes to mind? Magic mushrooms that can
take you on a psychedelic trip? Poison ones that may pop up in your yard and
can cause sickness or death? Delicious edible ones that you find at the grocery
store or farmer�s market? What about powerful medicinal ones that can boost the
immune system and help protect the body against many illnesses, conditions and
diseases? The reality is that mushrooms are all of those things and so
For the past year, I�ve begun to delve into research about mushrooms, and
what I�ve learned is amazing. There are more than 10,000 different species of
mushrooms and fungi in the world, and many of them are useful to humans in
myriad ways. They are an ancient, noble and vast kingdom, separate from the
animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, and powerful in their own right. Their
immense diversity and incredible beauty rivals anything else on Earth.
�Magic� mushrooms produce psilocybin, an alkaloid that can induce
hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. Recent
research has shown that taken in the right amounts and under the right
circumstances, they can help people overcome debilitating fear and anxiety.
This can be especially helpful for people with a terminal illness or
post-traumatic stress disorder. Promising research shows they can, in the words
of Merlin Sheldrake, author of �Entangled Life,� �loosen the grip of our habits
and release old ways of thinking.� This can often lead to transformation,
acceptance and peace of mind, even with only one treatment.
Culinary mushrooms, like the common white button mushroom, portabella,
cremini, chanterelle, shiitake, oyster mushrooms, Lion�s Mane and others, are a
delicious, very nutritious part of many dishes, especially in Asian cuisine.
Edible mushrooms are low in fat, containing protein and many other nutrients
that nourish the body and support and improve health. As long as one is not
allergic (and some people truly are), mushrooms are a beneficial part of a
healthy diet. If one type is not appealing, try another or try different
Edible mushrooms can be stuffed, broiled, or added to just about any recipe.
I like to slice them thin, saut� them in a little olive oil, season with garlic
and onion powder, add a little Tony Chachere�s and enjoy them as a side dish.
For me, they count as a vegetable and a protein. Because of their protein
content, mushrooms can even help replace meat in your diet. Look for mushrooms
as an ingredient in certain plant-based meat substitutes. I understand that
mushrooms should be cooked rather than eaten raw, in order to reap the most
benefits and avoid any potential digestive problems.
Mushrooms play an ever-growing role in helping to save the world in some
very real ways. There are many ongoing projects showing how fungi and their
mycelium, the network of fibers that stretch underground around the entire
world, can be used to help bees survive, control insect pests like termites and
carpenter ants, clean up oil spills, purify water, make sustainable packing and
building materials, and even fabricate a convincing leather substitute. It
seems that people are beginning to fully understand the vast potential of tiny
fungi, and I find that very encouraging. Just think of the non-renewable
resources this could save.
Mushrooms are considered a functional food, meaning they have properties
above and beyond being a source of nutrition. Many of the edible ones mentioned
above are also considered medicinal. Each variety is different, with a
different combination of nutrients. Some of the most important medicinal
elements in mushrooms are the polysaccharides, ganoderic acid, adenosene,
Beta-glucans, and triterpenes. These elements are responsible for many of the
purported benefits, such as strengthening the immune system, oxygenating the
cells, restoring energy, enhancing physical fitness and even re-growing damaged
nerve cells in the brain and elsewhere.
Perhaps the most famous medicinal mushroom is not actually edible because of
its tough, woody texture. The noble Reishi mushroom (ganoderma lucidum), also
known as Lingzhi in China, is one such fungus. It can be steeped in water, as
for tea, or taken as an alcohol tincture or in powder form. In ancient
times, only the Chinese royalty had access to this precious resource, as it was
rare to find it in the wild. Today, however, people have developed effective
ways to cultivate this wonder of nature, and it�s now readily available to us
Known as the �herb of longevity� and as an immuno-modulator, Reishi/Lingzhi
is the subject of many clinical studies. One of the most documented
effects is that it can actually boost or tamp down the immune system, depending
on what�s needed. When it comes down to it, it�s our own incredible immune
system that is going to protect us from invaders like viruses, bacteria and
even cancer. When the immune system is functioning at an optimal level, it is
capable of seeking out and destroying most pesky intruders. You wouldn�t even
know they�d been there.
As we age, the immune system naturally declines. We can help to stave off
decline and prevent illness by ensuring that we eat a balanced diet that
includes fresh fruits and vegetables (and a variety of mushrooms!) in addition
to getting plenty of water, exercise and rest each and every day. High-quality
supplements made with beneficial, functional medicinal mushrooms and
complementary herbs are a convenient way to get a regular therapeutic
There are plenty of resources for further study out there, but to name just
a couple, I recommend the following:
�Fantastic Fungi,� a film by Louie Schwarzenberg. Renowned
mycologist Paul Stamets heads a cast of experts expounding on the history and
many uses of mushrooms and mycelium. The visuals are stunning, but the
information presented in this ground-breaking film is astounding.
�Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our World, Change Our Minds and
Shape Our Future,� a book by biologist Merlin Sheldrake. It is available in
print and audio, read by the author in what I must say is a most pleasant
voice. Merlin elucidates the world of mushrooms through his vast research and
shares his profound insights.
Perhaps you know now why I�m so fascinated with the world of fungi. From
cleaning up the environment and saving endangered species, to making
sustainable materials and nutritious food, to providing some of the best
medicines yet discovered and helping us to live longer, happier, healthier
lives, fungi are indeed fantastic.
(Anne Biswell is an independent distributor for Alphay International, an
online-only resource for medicinal mushroom products. She�s been married to her
husband, George, for 46 years. They have three children and four wonderful
grandkids. She enjoys making music, and is sister to Leonore Dvorkin, also a
contributor to this publication. She assists the Newsline with formatting.)
What’s On Your Plate?
by Hayley Agers
music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it"
It’s that time of year again, and that means cooler
temperatures and more days longing for something warm to soothe you from the
inside out. It is a well-known fact that I could eat soup every day of the week
and not get tired of it. Oh, how I wish the feeling was mutual for all in my
home. It’s not that nobody likes soup at all, it’s just that we all like
different types of soup. Brayden likes soups that are more broth than
substance, David likes a thicker and creamier soup, and Sydney and I will eat
any soup, including cool gazpacho in the summer. Well, when there is leftover
turkey in the fridge and I want to watch the football game that is on, the best
thing to do is make soup. So that’s exactly what I did. As I was chopping up
the ingredients, the little voices inside my head were saying, "Brayden
won’t like the kale in this, Sydney will say she only likes kale when it�s in a
salad, and David will say oh no, not mushrooms, count me out.�
Since I am now teacher, housecleaner, drill sergeant, dog
walker, laundromat and, most importantly, cook, I decided to forge ahead and
make something I knew I would like. Maybe if I didn’t mention the mushrooms,
David wouldn’t even notice. He didn’t, and the naughty little elf in me
couldn’t wait to tell him right after he finished telling me how good it was.
Sydney ate it all and loved it. Brayden said the ribbons of kale got stuck in
his braces, but hey, I could deal with that and so can his toothbrush. Most
importantly, everyone liked it and that alone brought about a feeling of
gratefulness to end this long Thanksgiving weekend. I hope these recipes will
bring you comfort.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1/2 of an onion)
1/2 cup chopped carrots (2 carrots)
3/4 cup chopped celery (2 large stalks)
2 cloves minced garlic
8 oz. diced mushrooms
1/2 cup wild rice
8 cups turkey stock (I used chicken)
1 tbsp. tamari or liquid aminos
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups leftover turkey, chopped
4 cups kale, stemmed and slice into thin ribbons
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add in the onions, celery, carrots and a pinch of salt. Saut� for
10 minutes or until the veggies are fragrant and the onions are translucent.
Stir in mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
When the veggies are just tender, add in the wild rice, turkey
stock, tamari, and bay leaf.
Bring everything up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for
40 minutes or until the wild rice is tender.
Stir in coconut milk, turkey and kale ribbons, and season to
taste with salt and pepper.
Simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until the kale has wilted (but
is still vibrant) and the soup is heated through. Serve and enjoy.
Notes: If you don’t have any leftover turkey or turkey broth,
swap in some rotisserie chicken and chicken broth.
After you have that bowl of soup and are ready to settle in
for the night with a warm blanket and a good movie, why not try this delicious
caramel corn? It takes a bit of time to make, so you’ll need to make it ahead
of time, and store it in an air-tight container.
3 quarts popped corn (air popped is best, but if you don’t have
an air popper, use 3 bags of unflavored popcorn)
1 1/2 C brown sugar
3/4 C butter
3/4 C light Karo syrup
1/2 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. Soda
3/4 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients except vanilla and soda. Bring to a
boil. Boil for 4 minutes. Add vanilla. Remove from heat and add soda. Pour over
popped corn (I use my big roasting pan). Heat in oven at 250� for 30 minutes,
stirring every 10 minutes. Remove the carmel corn to a large piece of butcher
wrap, wax side up, to cool. I break it up as much as possible while it’s still
hot. When it cools, you can break it up more.
Performing Music During the Pandemic
by Frank Cuta
All of the face-to-face coffeehouses, open mics, sing-alongs
karaoke venues have been shut down for months as a result of
the pandemic. However, many of them still exist in some form on the Internet.
This article describes some ways you can improve your online sound while you
participate in social and musical activities using Zoom.
We all want our music to sound great, and we need to realize
that Zoom conferencing is not principally designed with music in mind. Singing
is more demanding than talking, and there are a few tricks to learn.
First, you want to minimize interference and feedback.�
Second, you want to consider upgrading your microphone to
get better reproduction. The microphone in your telephone and, in most computer
headsets, is designed for normal speech, not for music.
Third, you want to gain proficiency in Zoom’s command
structure and learn how to change its settings to achieve optimal sound
My personal experience is with our American Council of the
Blind community open mic and the ACB karaoke performance venues. The open mic
is on Wednesday evenings at 5 o�clock and the karaoke is on Saturday evenings
at 6. These venues are very supportive of performers, and if your only option
is to sing into your standard home telephone, that is perfectly acceptable.
However, there are many steps you can take to improve the way you sound.
The first thing you should consider is moving to an iPhone
and installing the Zoom app. The Apple microphone is much better than a regular
phone, and the Zoom app for the iPhone allows your Zoom experience to be much
more interactive. In addition, using a headset microphone stabilizes the mic
and reduces interference.�
When using your iPhone for performing music, be sure and
locate a button called "enable original sound" and activate it. This
function improves the sound of voices and instruments considerably, but it will
also cause your phone to pick up more background noise, so be sure you are in a
quiet environment. At this point, you will have done everything possible, short
of buying additional hardware.�
If you have a laptop computer, one of the easiest and least
expensive ways to improve your sound quality is to use it instead of your
phone. It is easy to install and run the Zoom app on it, and unless your
computer is ancient, it probably already has a microphone and camera built in.
Many performers just plug in a headset to monitor and get relatively nice
results from such a setup. Be aware that if you choose to use the laptop’s
internal mic, room ambience will play a predominant role in how you sound. You
should play around with working at different distances from the mic and in
different rooms to optimize your acoustics. Even though the microphones in most
new laptops are excellent in general, using a comparable external mic is always
better because it reduces these room effects.�
Whether you use a laptop or a desktop computer for your
performance, and whether you use an internal or external microphone, it is very
important to turn off your speakers. Monitor by using an external audio
headset. This prevents feedback. When sound from live speakers feeds back into
the microphone, the resulting squeal not only annoys your audience and hurts
your ears, it can hurt your equipment.
Activating the "original sound" switch in Zoom is
just as important when using your computer as when using your iPhone. The Zoom
app incorporates sophisticated sound-processing technology to reduce background
noise and optimize your speaking voice. Unfortunately, this same processing can
degrade music quality. Turning on "original sound" alleviates this
Thus, it is likely that with your current iPhone or laptop,
with minimal or no additional expense, you already have what you need to start
performing online. However, for $50 to $250 you can achieve huge improvements.
The most common items to add are an external USB microphone
or a XLR microphone and a digital interface, but you can start with just the
microphone. Plugging an external USB mic into your computer, and supporting it
with a simple stand, gets it right in your face where it can best do its job. I
like the Audio Technica AT-2100X ($99,) but much less expensive ones are easy
to find. Audio
Technica Microphones at Sweetwater
You will need to support the mic, and gooseneck clamp-on mic
stands are available for under $30 that support the mic right where you want
it, and take up virtually no desk space. Amazon.com:
scissor arm microphone stand
Ultimately, your iPhone and computer are not designed to be
pieces of live performance equipment. However, the addition of an external
digital audio interface can correct this problem. An interface lets you plug in
multiple high-quality XLR microphones. If you are using your computer, I suggest
you look at the Focus rite 2i2 at about $109, or the studio model that includes
a microphone, at $159.�
I know of no interface that is 100% accessible. It’s best to
visit a local sound store. You may find a model that is less expensive and more
accessible. An excellent mic is the Shure SM58, but there are hundreds of
choices between $50 and $100.
Finding a good interface for the iPhone is more difficult.
The cheapest one we have found is the Zoom Podtrak P4. Zoom
This is a podcast recorder and audio interface that will
work with either the iPhone or your computer. It costs about $200. As well as
giving you outstanding sound quality, it has the following features: It is
small and portable, simple to operate, runs from either batteries or USB power,
and it is mostly accessible. The P4 podcast recorder has four XLR inputs that
let you interface it with Zoom on your iPhone, play a karaoke track from your
computer, and still have two inputs left for more microphones. In an
alternative configuration, it can support three people with three microphones,
and supply each performer with their own headphone output level.
(Editor’s note: Watch this space for a full review of the
Zoom P4 podcast recorder in our next issue.)
Lastly, here is a basic description of how the Zoom
conferencing app works to let you participate in either the open mic or karaoke
events. You come into the venue with your mic already muted by the system, and
land in the participant queue. To let the host know that you are ready to
perform, you raise your hand. The host will let you know how to do this for
your platform � for Windows it�s alt-Y. You will be warned when you are going
to be next, and when your turn comes up the host will ask you to unmute. For
Windows, this is alt-A. Be sure to have your speakers off to prevent feedback.
You may want to mute your speech by switching JAWS to "speech on demand
mode" just before you start. You do this with insert-spacebar then s.�
During your performance, you will want to be able to
concentrate on your singing. "The speech on demand" mode prevents you
from hearing the other participants cheering you on, and prevents you from
hearing other distracting notifications.�
At the conclusion of your performance, you immediately mute
Zoom with alt-A. Press insert-spacebar, then s to disable the "on
demand" feature. You do not have to worry about your hand. The host will
already have lowered it for you.
The process is a little different for karaoke.� When your
turn comes up, you will also need to provide for and control your instrumental
track. Either you play it from a personal stored resource, or you go out and
find it on the Web. Many performers find their material on YouTube by searching
for the song title and the term "karaoke."�
You may also download and install the accessible Pontes
Downloader app. Download
and convert videos from YouTube with Pontes This app allows you to safely
grab your selection from YouTube in advance and save it on your computer as a
ready to play audio file.
Regardless of where you are playing it from, you want to
have your karaoke track ready to go and paused before you raise your hand. In
the case of playing it from YouTube, this means first getting past the
"skip add" pop-up, and then pausing the track at the beginning.�
When you are recognized to perform, unmute with alt-A. Press
alt-S to start screen-sharing. Then tab to "share computer sound" and
press the spacebar. Then tab to "share your screen" and hit enter.
Alt-tab into YouTube, then enable "speech on demand" mode with
insert-spacebar then hit s. Hit "play" and start singing. At the
conclusion of your performance, you will want to use insert-space, then S to
turn off "speech on demand." You will need to alt-tab back into the
Zoom window before the final step, which is to hit alt-S to stop
It all sounds very complicated, but by their third or fourth
performance most participants have got it down and they can devote their full
concentration to their singing.
I Wear My Sunglasses at Night
A Review of the Bose Frames Tempo Audio Sunglasses
by Reginald George
— "Don’t be
afraid of the guy in shades �"�
— Corey Hart
I love good headphones and clear discrete audio. Anyone who
knows me will attest that I am a speaker nut. However, I am the last person you
would expect to pay $250 for audio sunglasses. I am way too cheap. I can hear
my younger self saying, "Reggie, you have lost your mind."
My first pair of Bose Frames was the first-generation Alto
model. They died suddenly for no reason, and it took forever to get them
replaced under warranty because of the pandemic. They finally sent me a brand
new, factory-sealed pair, which I promptly turned around and sold on eBay to
recover some of my investment in the new Bose Tempos.�
The first-generation frames cost $200. I felt insulted that
they found it necessary to raise the price even higher, to $250. But for these audio
glasses, I made an exception. Whether you will think it’s worth it depends on
your usage scenario. They are so much fun to wear, provide for good situational
awareness, and sound much better to me than any bone conduction alternatives I
Tempos are good-looking, black, wraparound, sports-type
sunglasses designed to stay on your face. They even come with three sets of
nose pads for a good fit. Because of the design, if noise level gets too loud
in your environment, just put your hands over your ears and they become much
louder. Isn’t that odd?�
Tempos are also much more comfortable and water resistant
than their first generation counterparts, and the lenses can still be changed.
Prescription lenses are available, and they sell lenses in all different
colors, polarized and non-polarized. They are rimless at the bottom, and the
stock lenses are black and mirrored.�
I have to say I love them. Maybe not $250 worth, but the
battery life is more than twice as long as the original models. They are more
practical for mobility purposes because they get louder, and they have a
slightly deeper, richer sound signature. The glasses work well with Microsoft
SoundScape (a free app used for navigating unfamiliar areas). They have a touch
panel on the righthand arm for volume, or to summon your voice assistant with a
double tap. This does make them easier to control without having to resort to
your phone. The multi-function button under the right arm allows you to pair
them over Bluetooth, play and pause your audio, skip tracks backward or
forward, power the glasses on and off, and take and release phone calls. The
music earcons, when they are powered up and connect, and the text-to-speech
voice-prompts that speak the battery level and caller’s name, are lovely.�
As usual, Bose is mysteriously and unnecessarily silent,
keeping their secrets about the true specifications of the glasses, such as
what version of Bluetooth they are running, and what audio protocols they
support, but they receive and transmit across my house through walls without
difficulty, and latency is almost non-existent. They remember multiple devices,
but can only be paired with one at a time.�
When it comes to battery life, they claim up to eight hours.
However, I get way more than that because they say they power down after 10
minutes. I can�t even tell when this happens because I still get all my iPhone
notification sounds as they come in, so they must come back to life very
quickly. I get closer to 12 hours out of them, depending on usage.
There are actually three new models that sell for the same
price they�re just different styles. They are the Tenor, Soprano, and Tempo.
However, the Tempos are the only glasses with higher volume and the best
battery life.� I’ll take that over style. The Tempo is the only new model that
supports USB C charging instead of using their proprietary magnetic cable. You
can charge them fully in 1 hour. The Tenor and Soprano officially are rated at
5 hours of battery life. I wanted to buy some knock-off audio sunglasses
instead, but nothing comes close to the quality of these. They are outstanding
in comfort, stereo separation, and music clarity. Acoustic and classical music,
and nature sounds shimmer and sparkle. I’m not kidding.� Augmented reality apps
that respond to head movement are interesting to play with. It’s an immersive
experience of three-dimensional sound, but many of the Bose apps are not very
I often wear the glasses while doing work on my computer. I
can listen to music through them all day long and still hear what I�m doing.
The sound is so good it makes me want to dance in my chair and sing along. If
anyone was around to watch, they would think I was quite strange.
My biggest complaint is that they leak sound considerably. I
believe that they could have employed better isolation or active
noise-canceling technologies to keep the audio more contained within the
Also, as you turn them up over halfway, they start to roll
off the bass frequencies slightly. So, for the best sound, you want to keep
volume a little lower. They�re wonderful for listening to audiobooks and
I have gotten some complaints, from people I talk to on the
phone, that sometimes the sound goes wonky, like being in the bottom of a well.
But they sound very good most of the time, even over FaceTime and on Zoom
calls. The firmware will receive updates through the semi-accessible Bose music
app. I wish they had a mute function for interruptions and conference calls.
Dictation in text messages, through the glasses, seems to
work quite well, even in noisy environments. With the beam-forming microphones
they advertise, it is about as accurate as my Airpods.�
The Bose Tempos are not perfect. Things rarely are. But they
are certainly worth exploring, depending on your needs, even if it’s just to
have your ears opened wide.
Honor Our Unsung Heros
by Carl Jarvis
Of course, the passing of any member, or family member, is
important, and leaves us the lesser for it.
Back when I was active in the King County White Cane
Association, and a member of Washington State Association of the Blind, which
ultimately became WCB, an older fellow would come into our meetings with his
lunchbox tucked under his arm.�
One day he did not show up � or the next month or the next.
Someone asked what happened to the old fellow who always sat in the back of the
I said, "That was Ray Garbor. Ray has been a member for
Following the meeting, I found Ray’s address and phone
number and called him.
"I’m Missus Garbor," an elderly woman said.
"Ray died two months ago."� And she hung up.
At our next meeting, I brought up Ray’s passing. I had
wondered why Ray always sat in the back of the room and never spoke. In fact, I
told the group, it was partly because we never extended ourselves to our
quieter members. Ray and I had talked a few times, since I tend to be a bit on
the chatty side, and he told me that he stood on the street corners in downtown
Seattle, passing out our brochures and urging people to contact their state
legislators and demand that they pass the Commission Bill so blind people might
receive the services they needed in order to get decent work.
I’m about ready to retire," Ray said, "but I sure
don’t want the young blind people going through what I went through in order to
make a living."
I wrote an article for the "White Cane Magazine,"
saying that Ray was the shining example of what a hero looked like. Rain, snow
or shine, Ray went out several times a week, after working all day in a machine
shop, and talked to anyone who would listen about the needs of our blind young
people. While we did not know it, sitting in our midst was the very
flesh-and-blood hero we were looking for.
Remembering the School of Piano Technology for the Blind
by Beth Greenberg
�Music is a language
that doesn�t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it�s in
the bones, it�s in the bones.�
Pianos have played a big part in my life. The Piano
Hospital, as it was originally known, played a huge part in the blindness
community in Vancouver for almost 70 years. Let’s take a deeper look at this
musical icon from Washington that changed the lives of the graduates forever
and provided their families with security and prosperity.
From the web site:
"The School of Piano Technology for the Blind was
founded as the Piano Hospital and Training Center in 1949 by Emil B. Fries, who
learned to tune pianos as a student of Walter R. Dry at the Washington State
School for the Blind (WSSB).
While studying pre-law at the University of Washington, Mr.
Fries realized that his deepest interest lay in teaching. Supporting himself by
tuning, he earned his bachelor’s degree and did graduate work before returning
to Vancouver in 1931 to succeed Walter Dry as head of the WSSB piano tuning
Fries taught at WSSB until 1949, when the school phased out
vocational courses, including piano tuning. Determined to maintain piano tuning
as a career opportunity for blind people, Emil Fries founded the Piano
Hospital. In 1966, he formed a nonprofit corporation to ensure that the Piano
Hospital would continue to fulfill its purpose in the future.
The Board of Trustees later changed the school’s name to the
Emil Fries Piano Hospital and Training Center, in honor of the man who, more
than any other individual, developed and taught the specialized skills that
enable blind tuner-technicians to be successful.
In 1992, the Piano Hospital became licensed by the State of
Washington as a technical school. In 1993, the Piano Hospital earned
accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of
Technology. � In 2005, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to change their
name to The School of Piano Technology for the Blind.
Students came from all over the United States plus Guam and
the American Virgin Islands, as well as from Australia, Belize, Canada,
Ethiopia, Finland, Iceland, India, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Switzerland and Trinidad to study the practical curriculum and uniquely adapted
techniques at the School of Piano Technology for the Blind�"
The piano school and museum closed its doors forever in July
2017 after 68 years. Former staff and students enjoyed their time and making
new friends there, and the Piano Hospital will be missed by them and the
community of Vancouver.
In an article from The Columbian newspaper that was widely
reprinted across the state in 2017, we learn that the school turned out
successful students, but they were losing money because they never had enough
students to cover the costs of running the school. Counselors apparently felt
that blind people had more opportunities in other careers and that piano tuning
was too limiting. I disagree. One more door for blind people with mechanical
skills who are interested in working with their hands has been lost to us
forever. The skills required to compete in this field require specialized
training. As blind schools and adult rehabilitation and training centers across
the country closed their wood and metal shops in response to changing times and
pushed their consumers toward more business and technical careers, many of us
who might have found employment but did not have computer skills, were left out
in the cold.�
Assets from the school were converted into a foundation
called the Emil Fries Endowment Fund, which has now been absorbed by the
Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. These funds are intended to
support disabled people for improving quality of life.�
by Carl Jarvis
Under the skilled direction of Heather Meares and Reg
George, Washington Council of the Blind�s Newsline has become one of American
Council of the Blind�s finest publications.
Question: What year did the WCB Newsline begin
Answer: The answer is not as simple as it seems. It’s
either 30 years old or 49 years old. If you are speaking of the WCB Newsline,
the date of its first publication had to be 1990, the year of the merger
between the Washington Council of the Blind (WCB) and the United Blind of
Washington State (UBWS).�
But the name Newsline was first used back in 1971. In that
year, Washington State Association of the Blind (WSAB) ceased publishing White
Cane Magazine. Longtime editor Al Fisher took a position with the Iowa
Commission for the Blind and no replacement was found. At some point during
1971, the new newsletter, the WSAB Newsline began life from the Spokane home of
then WSAB President Carl Jarvis.
Because of the affiliation with the National Federation of
the Blind (NFB), WSAB called its new in-house publication the NFBW Newsline.
Later, in 1975, WSAB voted to change its name to the National Federation of the
Blind of Washington (NFBW).
In 1979, with the expulsion of the NFBW from the NFB, the
membership adopted the name United Blind of Washington State, and the
publication became the UBWS Newsline. The 1990 merger of WCB and UBWS brought
about the adoption of the current name, WCB Newsline.
This coming year, Newsline will celebrate its 50th birthday.
And it has never looked better!
Question: From 1935 until 1971, Washington state had
only one statewide organization of the blind, the Washington State Association
of the Blind. While we know that Washington Council of the Blind was organized
in 1971, what was the major event that made this possible?
Answer: The creation of the American Council of the
Blind (ACB): (Source: Wikipedia)
ACB was formed out of the dissolution of the Braille Free
Press Association in 1961. Braille Free Press had been set up in 1959 and had
probably been the widest-read publication for the blind. It was highly critical
of the American Foundation for the Blind, and ACB was formed as an alternative.
ACB was also very critical of the National Federation of the Blind, which many
of its first members had also originally belonged to. Relations between the two
organizations had been strained to the extent that, for years, they scheduled
their conventions at the same time to deter people from being active in both
In 2013, ACB elected Kim Charlson as its first female
president, making her the first female president of a major national blindness
consumer advocacy organization in the United States.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Youth Speak #1
The Impacts of COVID-19
by Lucash Uniack
Greetings! My name is Lucash Uniack, but everyone calls me
Luke. I am 16 years old. This is my introductory column for Newsline. I was
honored to be asked to write a column that brings a teen voice to the
newsletter. I am a sophomore in high school and live in Seattle.�
I am looking forward to writing about my experiences as a
teenager with low vision, and to hopefully picking topics that resonate with
all readers, teenagers and adults alike. I think it is important for teens to
share their experiences and for all of us to support each other, especially at
times like these with the COVID-19 pandemic.�
I was born with nystagmus, an eye muscle condition that
causes me to have low vision. There are two types of nystagmus: the kind you�re
born with, and acquired nystagmus, which comes on later in life and is caused
by a medical or other condition. Nystagmus makes your eyes shake back and forth
In this first column, I want to write about the effects of
COVID-19 on teenagers and to share some of my personal experiences. I believe
these experiences are relatable, in some way or another, to everyone as we go
through this difficult time together.
This year has been challenging, with many new struggles that
I could never have imagined, struggles that had to be overcome. I have been at
home with my parents and my twin sisters since March. I really miss hanging out
with my friends, going to in-person school, and being involved in
extracurricular activities, like theater and band. Doing school completely
online has been super challenging, especially with my low vision. Doing school
this way takes up so much energy during the day that it has disrupted my sleep
patterns, led to eye strain and headaches, and has been pretty stressful
This quarantine has also been very difficult on an emotional
level, since social interactions are greatly limited and I don’t talk to my
friends as much. It has caused an increased sense of loneliness. It feels like
all the positives about going to school, like hanging out with my friends at
lunch and after school, and doing in-person extracurricular activities, are
gone. I love my family and all, but it gets old when it’s just the five of us
together all the time. My house feels half as big when everyone is home and
together all day, every day.
Another thing about me is that I love the performing arts. I
am a drummer and an actor. Both of these activities are not nearly as fun
virtually as they are in person. Plus, in a normal year, my mom and I would
have gone to several Broadway musicals in person, but those were all canceled
due to the pandemic, which is another bummer.
As much as this time has been hard, just like most things in
life, this year has also had some silver linings. Some of those silver linings
for me include being able to just roll out of bed and be at school without a
long commute, and eating food whenever I want during the school day, and not
just at lunchtime. I also can wear whatever I want to school (even pajama
pants!).� Another positive from this whole experience is I get to hang out with
my family more, including more family dinners, games and movie nights. Spend a
moment and try to think about what silver linings you can find in your own
pandemic experience. Write to me and tell me what some of those are. I would
love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading my first column and I would love your
feedback. Please send me your suggestions for future columns. I would love to
hear from teen readers and adults alike. I look forward to connecting with you.
Have You Thought About Being a Blogger?
by Beth Greenberg
Recently, I have spent a lot of time searching out articles
and blogs to read.� I have always been interested in learning about our
One place I have found where people who are blind and
visually impaired have shared their stories is on www.blindnewworld.org/blog.
There are 45 different topics available for entries from
anyone who wants to create a blog. Twenty of those topics are about certain eye
conditions. For instance, for myself I could find blogs on aniridia and
congenital glaucoma, which are pretty rare conditions. There are also the
topics that you would assume would be there, such as guide dogs, braille,
transportation, parenting, school, and technology.
The Blind New World website is sponsored by Perkins School
for the Blind in Massachusetts. There are some other tabs on the
www.blindnewworld.org website that are worth a visit:
� Inclusion: This page is about the Blind New World and
� Quiz: This page has an 8-question quiz on how you
think you should treat a blind person in various scenarios.
� Stories: This page has examples from other people’s
experiences, such as the first story titled Resume. The story goes on about how
a young lady�s resume almost got overlooked for a job at a call center because
she had stated that she graduated from Perkins School for the Bblind. You will
have to check out the story to see how that turned ou
� Tips: This page has tips to be more inclusive in
different situations, such as work, school, community, social circle, and at
Share: You can upload a video and
share how �change the way you see� can inspire others.
To submit a blog post, submit your story (300-500
words), plus a photo or video and a sentence about yourself. Sighted or blind,
they want to know how blindness has impacted your world. MyBlindStory is your
voice � your chance to share, compare and challenge readers to change the way
What does blind mean to you? We�re
Washington Talking Book & Braille Library
by Danielle Miller
This past year has been one of challenges, but also one of
growth and positive impacts in service. As always, your support makes a big
difference in all that we are able to do at WTBBL. Thank you!
We are well underway in our transition to duplication on
demand service for our audiobook patrons. This service provides multiple books
on one cartridge and makes our entire collection available to readers at all
times, as well as completely customizing service. Duplication on demand is a
very user-centered service and I think everyone will really enjoy it. Please
call the library and talk to a readers� advisor to make sure we have the best
subjects, authors, or series information on file for you so we can be sure we
are sending you the best material.
For our braille readers, we are very excited to be
participating in the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled
(NLS) Phase 2 braille e-reader pilot program. We will loan refreshable BAP
raille displays produced by Zoomax to our interested braille patrons so that
they can take advantage of the electronic braille collection. The Zoomax
braille e-readers have 20 cells, connect to Wi-Fi, and are USB and SD card
compatible and patrons can download BRF files directly from BARD. For patrons
without Wi-Fi, or who do not use BARD, we will be able to send books on a cartridge
that will connect to the e-reader with a cable.
In an effort to make more titles in languages other than
English available, we are also participating in an NLS pilot working with the
Global Book Service. In this limited pilot, we will be able to access audio
titles in many languages under the Marrakesh treaty. We were also able to
expand our Bookshare pilot with an additional 50 memberships and extend it by
another year. It is very important to us to do all we can to provide as much
access to reading material as possible, and in the formats that work best for
you. I hope you will join us in our next quarterly patron book club March 24 at
2� p.m. We will be reading �The Highest Tide� by Jim Lynch. Happy reading!
Real or Virtual Challenges?
by Sheri Richardson
The Washington Council of the Blind (WCB) annual
convention is a special event for many of us. In fact, I look forward to our
annual gathering for education, governance, and socializing every year and did
so even before I was very active in WCB. I appreciate learning about new
products, skills, and issues related to blindness. Most of all, I love feeling
included in a group of people who share a common interest: �Opportunity,
equality, and independence.�
So along comes 2020, a year of perfect vision,
right? OK, maybe that isn�t exactly how this year has gone, but I do believe
WCB rose to the occasion with a perfectly envisioned and almost flawlessly
executed virtual convention. In fact, if you just looked at the program, you
would think it was a normal year after all.
Thanks to our newest best friend, Zoom, as well as
the expertise and leadership of our convention committee and tech gurus, we
enjoyed the same programming format, filled with educational and informational
sessions, like shopping for groceries online, and how to advocate with your
legislator on important topics, and a lot more. WCB transacted business almost
as usual, including five constitutional amendments and one resolution regarding
accessible voting. Speaking of voting, there was even a way for us to vote on
board candidates independently and privately.
Guide Dog Users of Washington State also held its
annual business meeting, and we even got to sleep in a little this year. Our
business included the membership agreeing to open our recently initiated
Marlaina Lieberg Memorial Scholarship program to all residents of Washington
state. This scholarship was a dream of Marlaina�s, and we are pleased it is now
in place. If you reside in Washington and have been accepted by a guide dog
program for school or home training, you may qualify for a $100 grant to help
offset incidental expenses related to obtaining a guide dog.
We also had our lunch program, at which we were
pleased to hear from the newly elected president of Guide Dog Users Inc., Sarah
On the lighter side, there was one thing that was
sure to make me smile every time, and that was the prerecorded door prizes.
Yes, they may have been prerecorded, but they were done with great ceremony and
such perfect sound effects by our own Lisa and Reggie George, and they always
seemed so right for the moment.
Maybe the best thing about a virtual convention is
that you can hear from people living all over the world. I was so excited that
we were able to hear from Clark Rachfal, Director of Advocacy and Governmental
Affairs for the American Council of the Blind (ACB). I also really enjoyed
hearing from ACB President Dan Spoon. What an inspirational life story.
So, one might ask, was the virtual convention real?
Absolutely, and I hope WCB will include the virtual element in future
conventions. While I definitely missed gathering with old and new friends in a
physical space, I enjoyed many aspects of this convention � and all for a
ridiculously low cost. But if you don�t quite believe me, I want to let one of
our best known and most loved members sum it up. Carl Jarvis very kindly gave
me permission to quote an email he shared with the WCB discussion list, because
I think he expresses my thoughts better than I can.
a magnificent production! Our first WCB virtual convention, and it appeared as
if we’d been doing it for years.
someone as tech challenged as myself was able to listen to all the
presentations and vote for every candidate. And if nothing else, I found myself
deciding it is well past time to come out of my cave and learn Zoom.
course, as well oiled as this virtual convention was, it couldn’t rise to meet
some of the reasons we all love our face-to-face conferences � like tripping
over a guide dog stretched out in the aisle, or walking into the room marked
"Women," or reaching the elevator just in time to have the doors
close, or hearing that your name was called for a door prize just after you
stepped out, or the feel of hot coffee being spilled down the back of your
other than those pleasures, I do believe that next to attending in person, this
convention was a very successful event.�
by Lynne Koral
As I waited for the first-timers orientation session on the
Zoom platform, I anticipated the Washington Council of the Blind 2020 Virtual
Convention with little expectation. I wanted to make sure I had all the
information needed to participate in the webinar, hospitality, and my voting
pin. The first-timers session had a presentation by Julie Brannon, our state
president, and also national President Dan Spoone, who graced us with his
presence. I was impressed that there were young people who would choose to
attend. �Strength Unveiled� was the theme for this, my first ever Washington
All the hospitality events were good vehicles to unwind from
the day, and they were done to perfection. From trivia the first night, to
karaoke the third night, they were all designed to entertain and enlighten. The
newlywed game was great, with the Bishops (Jeff and Carrie) taking top honors.
The main convention was filled with practical information.
Much of it had also been conveyed on the plethora of American Council of the
Blind conference calls.
The session on grocery store apps was informative, but
familiar. One caveat is that many places are not served by both Instacart and
Shipt, so blind folks are kept from making a choice because one or the other is
Presentations on smart homes and cutting the cord were also
informative.� The options available for controlling one�s home with Apple,
Google, or Amazon products are breathtaking. One can start the coffeepot or
turn on and off the lights with various remote products that can be operated
from one�s bedroom. Cutting the cord introduced the conventioneers to YouTube
TV, Apple TV, and other platforms for television viewing and options. Some
options such as YouTube are quite expensive, and one size does not fit all.
On the less technical end, one really engaging seminar was
about writing one�s memoir. Heather Meares gave some fantastic pointers to
trick the mind into memories that one could jot down while keeping to a
deadline. Her pointers were excellent and methodical. Reginald George
concentrated more on the process of writing.
Another heartwarming session was one from blind parents who
were explaining their views on parenting. The parents ranged from having young
children to adult children. Their experiences were interesting to me since I am
a blind parent of an adult son.
I thought that learning about the scholarship winners and
their various courses of study was fascinating. I enjoyed learning about the
techniques they used to navigate their schoolwork, and the courses they found
that were the most challenging or the most satisfying.
A theater production was also fun, and a break from some of
the more lecture-style webinars that usually occur at conventions. The
situations that were dramatized by the group were familiar to us, including
depicting dog guides, or how sighted people approach us in terms of the lack of
effective and appropriate communication.
I felt that the voting rooms worked very well, and I found
the voting process easy to navigate. It was very creative and innovative. When
the room was open, I was asked my voting number, and who I was voting for in that
officer or board position.
The legislative advocacy session was quite fun. It was
presented in a creative and educational format. Two scenarios were presented,
and I was the one to critique each scenario.
Another session I will mention was about knowing how to take
care of one�s credit and protect the credit score. I found that fascinating,
even though many people have debit cards.
While I am not mentioning everything, these were the
sessions that stood out for me. It was a real thrill to attend and listen to
all the presentations. Because it was my first time, I did not miss any
sessions since I knew I would have to write about the convention. The
moderators did a fantastic job, and so did the presenters.
WCB: Takin� Care of Business
By Lisa George
Thanks to the outstanding
leadership of Washington Council of the Blind, it was business as usual at the
2020 convention. Officers were elected, the 2021 budget was approved, and four
amendments and a resolution were adopted. Here�s a brief recap of the board
meeting and the annual business meeting.
Oct. 29 Pre-Convention Board
The WCB board accepted the
Nominating Committee�s slate of candidates and also recommended that the
proposed 2021 budget submitted by the Finance Committee be presented to the
membership at Saturday�s business meeting.
Third-quarter financial report
through Sept. 30 included total assets of $1,689,791. Four loans through
Northwest Access Fund total $2,889 and all are current. Year-to-date income is
$16,085 and expenses for the same timeframe are $29,901. This results in a
negative position after three quarters of the year in the amount of $13,817.
Oct. 31 Annual Business
Four of the five proposed
amendments were passed by the membership.
Summary of changes approved to
the constitution by crticle and section:
Article III Membership, Section
1 Members � clarified that a membership begins when dues are received by the
WCB treasurer or the treasurer of a local chapter or affiliate.
Article III Membership, Section
3 Expulsion, Suspension, or Other Disciplinary Action � removed discipline and
suspension as exclusive powers of the convention, but preserved the
convention’s exclusive authority to expel a member. After adoption, the WCB
board will develop a code of conduct policy.
Article VIII Meetings, Section 4
Virtual Meetings � added this new section to allow virtual meetings to be held
and voting to occur.
Summary of changes to the
Bylaw 1 WCB Standing Committees
� expanded presidential authority and created two new committees: outreach and
Utilizing Zoom �voting stations�
as an alternative for paper-and-mail voting, we successfully elected WCB
leaders. Andy Arvidson will be second vice president and Alco Canfield will be
secretary; Reg George and Heather Meares were re-elected for second terms,
Frank Cuta was elected to the board for his first term and Hayley Agers was
elected to complete Lori Allison�s term.
The proposed 2021 annual budget
was approved by the membership. Total income is expected to be $37,200 with
total expenses projected at $123,150, which would result in a net loss for the
year of $85,950.
WCB also adopted a resolution
regarding our intent to work with other like-minded organizations to pursue
legislation to make voting accessible to all Washington voters, ensuring the
ability to vote independently and securely in future elections.
by Kim L. Moberg
This year in the world of scholarships, so much has
happened. We promoted the scholarship program to more places than I can count,
and awarded scholarships to seven amazing individuals.
We tried doing a couple forum calls for potential
applicants. Though no applicants came on the calls, committee members felt that
they gave us an opportunity to work through issues and make sure that we were
all on the same page with our answers to questions that applicants might ask
us. We look forward to continuing the calls this year, and we hope that
applicants join us. These will be open to all. So, if you are considering going
back to school, the calls would be a great place to learn about the scholarship
It is always exciting to have returning applicants, but I
love it when we attract new students. We contact teachers of the visually
impaired, the Department of Services for the Blind, Washington State School for
the Blind, state universities, community colleges, and various vocational
training centers. We also encourage our committee members to contact their eye
physicians. To aid in this work, we create a flyer that features a couple of
the scholarship winners from the previous year.
Isaac Heiman is a returning scholarship winner. Low vision
has not stood in his way. Rather, he has used it as a jumping off point to
motivate him to be the best he can be. He is attending Western Washington
University in Bellingham, studying to become a doctor. He is very interested in
the brain and how it works.
Isaac has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship. Isaac also
received an American Council of the Blind scholarship at our national
convention in July 2020.
We had a tie for second place. Angel Dailey and Lane Pearson
will each receive a scholarship of $3,500. Angel is a returning scholarship
winner. He is one of four children, all of whom have retinitis pigmentosa.
Angel is attending the University of Washington Tacoma, and would like to go to
medical school and become a child psychologist. Lane is attending Olympic College
in Bremerton. He has an older sister and younger brother. All three have
Stargardt disease. Lane would like to become a broadcaster and is majoring in
communications, with a minor in English.
Ali Steenis is a very outgoing individual. When I read her
essay, what came to mind was that this young lady loves life and embracing all
challenges that come her way. She is also an advocate for others. Ali is
attending City University of New York School of Professional Studies, with an
emphasis in disability studies. She has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship.
Christianne Sobieski is a very vibrant individual who has
returned to school after 30 years. She is a graduate of the Washington State
Department of Services for the Blind’s Orientation and Training Center in
Seattle, where she gained the skills that helped her make the decision to
return to school. Christianne is attending Everett Community College, working
to receive her medical assistant certification. She has been awarded a $2,000
Kevin Diaz-Aguilar is an extraordinary young man who loves
everything about mathematics. Kevin meets and overcomes challenges every day;
he is not only legally blind but also ventilator and G tube dependent due to a
muscle disease present at birth. He just graduated from high school, and also
did a year of Running Start. Kevin is attending Everett Community College, and
his major field of study is accounting. He has been awarded a $1,500
Kaleigh Rainwater is a very energetic young person. She
loves advocating for others who have disabilities. Kaleigh is attending
Portland State University, studying to be a Special Education teacher. She
would like to work with young children. She feels that the key is helping
kiddos when they are young so that they will be successful in the future.
Kaleigh has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
Congratulations to all of these students. You are all fine
representatives of the blind community, and of WCB.
WCB 2020 Awards
by Jessamyn Landby
I would like to again thank my committee: Vice Chair Danette
Dixon, Linda Wickersham, and Nancy Lind. This year, the Awards Committee gave
out seven framed awards. They were:
Certificate of Outstanding Service to WCB: David Edick
Chapter That Thinks Outside of the Box in 2020 (a new award this
year): United Blind of Spokane, accepted by Cindy Glidden
Ammeter and Lieberg Outstanding Advocacy: Dorene Cornwell
Business of the Year: Red Lobster, accepted by Christine Dailey
One World: Loretta Petersen
Teacher of the Year: Vivian Huschke
Newsline Editor�s (selected by the Newsline committee): Julie
Harlow�s article �My First AIRA Experience�
This year, five chapters received chapter growth
certificates: United Blind of Walla Walla, United Blind of Spokane, Yakima
Valley Council of the Blind, South Kitsap Council of the Blind, and Skagit and
Island Counties Council of the Blind. These were sent to the chapter
presidents. Congratulations to these chapters for finding ways to grow during
these uncertain times.
The awards committee also gave out six WCB official service
certificates to those whose terms had ended this year. They are Second Vice
President Jeff Bishop; Secretary Frank Cuta; and Directors Hayley Agers,
Reginald George, Heather Meares, and Lori Allison. We thank them all for their
hard work and time in serving the WCB board.
Committing to Committees
by Julie Brannon
As you all know, the work within Washington Council of the
Blind (WCB) is primarily accomplished through the activity of its many
committees. We are a very busy organization; thus, we have available a plethora
of committee choices, with truly a focus for almost any person�s interest,
aptitude and skills. These committees cannot function, however, unless there
are WCB members willing to connect and provide service to the organization.
Committee development for 2021 is upon us. Members for each
committee need to be established by the end of January. WCB members are very
much at different places in regard to committee involvement:
Perhaps you are new to the organization, and have not yet
dipped your toe into the waters of committee involvement. This is the time to
try one of them to see how it fits you.
Perhaps you already serve on a committee, and would like to
stretch and try something else.
Or, perhaps you were involved in committee work in the past,
and are ready to come back from your hiatus to serve again.
In talking with people regarding their WCB committee
involvement, I�ve heard comments such as:
� It has been a great way for me to get connected with
other WCB members. I�ve made friends just by working on a committee with
� It is a good feeling for me to stretch a bit, outside
myself, and feel like I�m providing something to the organization.
It has truly widened my horizons
by delving into an area I wasn�t previously involved in or familiar with until
serving on this committee.
I am listing the committees below, taken from bylaw 1. You
will note that two new committees were added at this year�s business meeting:
outreach and fundraising.
If you have questions about any of these committees and/or
need contact information for a chair or vice chair, let me know. If you would
like to serve on a particular committee, please advise me or the committee
chair. Occasionally, certain committees are full, so it is recommended that you
look at more than one committee option.
Addresses issues of discrimination and accessibility by
investigating concerns raised by blind individuals.
AGING AND BLINDNESS
Works to improve the lives of senior
citizens experiencing vision loss.
Administers the WCB annual awards program and the first-timers awards to both
the ACB and WCB annual conventions.
Manages and produces a unified, consistent message across WCB�s website, phone
system, and listserv.
E. CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
Reviews and considers any and all amendments to the WCB constitution and
bylaws, presenting the proposed slate at the annual convention. Unless
withdrawn by the author, all proposed amendments must be passed out of
committee to the floor with either a do pass, do not pass, or no
recommendation. In addition, members also analyze the constitutions of
proposed affiliates for consistency with the WCB constitution and bylaws.
Makes all arrangements for the annual WCB state convention.
Administers WCB�s crisis program.
H. WCB FAMILIES
Addresses issues specific to families with blind or visually impaired
members. Also, oversees any activities associated with students, from
pre-K through high school.
Responsible for developing the annual budget, analyzing all grant requests
received, monitoring WCB�s financial investments, and recommending changes in
investment strategy when appropriate.
Identifies and develops opportunities for WCB to raise funds, which may include
grants, online fundraisers, or other initiatives.
K. GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
Tracks and reports legislative and policy issues significant to the board and
members of WCB. Also, works with legislative bodies to advocate for laws
and regulations affecting citizens who are blind or visually impaired.
Preserves the history of WCB and that of the organizations which preceded it.
Plans and conducts leadership programs that identify and foster potential
future leaders, including but not limited to the WCB Leadership Seminar and the
Works to increase WCB membership by assisting new affiliates in getting started
and providing support and consultation to existing ones.
Acts as the editorial body of the WCB newsletter, Newsline. All submitted
articles are reviewed, processed, and may be edited if appropriate prior to
publication and distribution to readers. With board concurrence, the committee
may also establish policy surrounding Newsline.
Recruits nominees, considers applications, and recommends nominees for election
to the membership at the annual convention.
Manages all external WCB outreach functions and will likewise assist other
committees, local chapters, and special-interest affiliates with regard to such
efforts, including: promoting our organization�s activities, programs, and
initiatives; educating and sharing blindness information with the public; and
using all manner of live events, social media, and public media to increase
WCB�s general visibility.
R. RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE
Drafts new resolutions and reviews resolutions submitted by members.
Administers the WCB scholarship program by processing applications,
interviewing applicants, selecting the scholarship winners, and presenting
these awards at the WCB state convention.
T. WCB CARES
Lets WCB members know that we, as an organization, are thinking of them,
sharing in their joy and sorrow. Through telephone communication,
personalized notes, or floral arrangements, we are never alone because WCB
Here�s to a great year of committee work in 2021.
Compiled by Rhonda Nelson
We extend our congratulations to, and celebrate with, the
following WCB members:
Zandra Brown who, on Nov. 12,
received her first guide dog, Odyssey, a female black lab from Guiding Eyes for
Ken Nelson, former WCB member, and
my dad, who celebrated his 100th birthday in November.
If you or someone you know has
something for inclusion in Hats Off, email TheWCBNewsline@gmail.com with
"Hats Off" in the subject line. Those items that may not meet the
criteria listed below may still be very appropriate in your local chapter’s
"Around the State" article.
The following are reasons for
inclusion in this column:
Birth of a child, grandchild or great-grandchild
Birthdays 75 years and up in 5-year increments (yearly after age
Marriage or wedding anniversaries 25 years and more in 5-year
Graduation from high school, college or vocational program
New job, career promotion or retirement
Partnering with a dog guide
Appointment to a city, county, statewide or national board or
Exceptional recognition or award
Around the State
Guide Dog Users of Washington State
by Vivian Conger and Sheri Richardson
its annual business meeting virtually, in conjunction with the Washington
Council of the Blind convention.
Arvidson was elected vice president for a second term, Deb Cook Lewis was
elected secretary, and J.R. Kinnison was selected to fill the director term
vacated by Deb when she became secretary.
membership approved two constitutional changes: Our monthly board meetings are
now open to our membership, and the Marlaina Lieberg Memorial Scholarship has
been opened up for any Washington state resident obtaining a guide dog. See
below for more information.
membership voted to amend our bylaws to add official language for the Marlaina
Lieberg Memorial Scholarship Fund and to add the Scholarship Committee as a
standing committee. That committee is chaired by Sheri Richardson, with members
David Egan and Josette Kernaghan.
Scholarship Committee recommended a change to the original eligibility
guidelines, which stated that a scholarship recipient needed to be a GDUWS
member. Based on that recommendation, the GDUWS membership voted to change the
eligibility requirements by making the scholarship available to any Washington
state resident or GDUWS member who is participating in a guide dog training
program. The scholarship grant will remain $100 for the purpose of offsetting
incidental guide dog training costs. We encourage you to apply for this scholarship.
Let�s honor Marlaina Lieberg�s memory as we promote and participate in her
Jefferson County Council of the Blind
by Carl Jarvis
It’s been a long nine months since Jefferson County Council
Blind (JCCB) enjoyed a face-to-face gathering. The good news
is that we have had no member fall victim to the COVID-19 virus, and no report
of any family members being infected.
The other good news is that we are continuing to stay in
contact via email and telephone. We are going to establish a Zoom site soon and
begin to hold virtual chapter meetings.
The bad news is that our meeting place has also been
shuttered. The Road House Restaurant closed down until recently, and they have
not reopened their large meeting room. But until a tested vaccine becomes
available, JCCB members will need to continue sheltering. Our goal for the
remainder of 2020 is to meet (virtually) with Reg George, and set up a JCCB
Zoom account. We will see if Reg can accommodate President Nancy Villagran,
Secretary Carl Jarvis, and Treasurer Cathy Jarvis, in a Zoom training session.
Meanwhile, we are suggesting to our members that we stay
with our current officers until later in 2021.
Like so many organizations, JCCB is feeling its way into new
experiences.� We feel that it is critical for blind people in Jefferson County
to have a source that can provide information, comfort and hope. For this
reason, we look upon our present situation as an opportunity. Zoom may help us
through these difficult times, but it might also become a part of our regular
meetings, once the pandemic is over, connecting those members who are unable to
leave their homes.
And so, with our hand on the tiller and our eye on the
horizon, and taking a huge deep breath, we head into uncharted waters, full of
bravado and just a little shaky in the knees.
Pierce County Association of the Blind
by Julie Harlow
We continued our Zoom meetings and had an average of 18
members attend every month. We had interesting guest speakers, such as a
representative from Northwest Association of Blind Athletes. Thanks to David
Edick and his great knowledge and perseverance, we did a podcast with a
representative from the Pierce County Aging & Disability Resource Center,
on Medicare. He provided us a great amount of information to consider when
making a choice on whether or not to change our Medicare plan. We are eternally
grateful to those that have presented their information to our group, and
keeping us apprised on happenings, even during this time.
We held our elections, and we are excited for our new
president, David Edick, and our first vice president, Nathan Brannon. There are
new members on our board of directors and we welcome them, as well. We thank
our past president, Cathy Wilson, and our first vice president, Andy Bacon, for
their dedicated service over the past four years. Cathy and Andy have led us
through several projects, i.e. a new PCAB logo, brochures, volunteering our
time at a local food bank, and many others.���
We sadly are ending our year with the passing of a third
dedicated member of our family, Arnold Kammeyer. This has been a difficult year
to have lost such longtime and dedicated members, and their shoes will be hard
to replace. Arnold, you will be missed, but never forgotten.
Two of our members have won awards at the 2020 Washington
Council of the Blind conference. David Edick won an Outstanding Service Award,
and Julie Harlow won best Newsline article award. Hats off to them.
Skagit and Island Counties Council of the Blind
by Andy Arvidson
Hello WCB from the SICCB. We are all looking forward to
2021. We hope your holidays were uneventful and enjoyable.
We are like other chapters, still working on updating our
constitution, as we in the past eliminated the second vice president position
and are now bringing it back. We believe in hope and prosperity. Out of the
depths we can revitalize the leadership role in our chapter.
We brought in three new members. However, one is choosing to
wait until we are able to meet inperson before joining. We have had a couple of
other prospective members call and are reaching out to them. Our chapter is
discussing working on outreach by contacting local nursing homes and assisted
living centers and asking if they have residents who are in need of receiving
friendly calls to overcome loneliness.
We also have a member that is looking at joining the local
committee that deals with our transit system. She was interested previously,
but the transportation did not work to get her to the meetings and home. As one
positive of the pandemic, they will keep the meetings virtual after the
restrictions are lifted, so she can attend without having to worry about
We are not a glum lot. We absolutely insist on enjoying
life. Our executive committee met in person recently over lunch and discussed
how we wanted to proceed with our meetings. You may be wondering how we managed
to hold an executive meeting in person? Well, Colette and I have this 1,200-
square-foot studio, and we set up tables to keep us at least six feet apart and
held our meeting there.
The chapter had been meeting via conference call, then
switching back and forth between that and Zoom. At our last meeting of the
year, we made a decision to conduct all of our meetings virtually via Zoom for
South King Council of the Blind
by Gaylen Floy
South King Council of the Blind has been flying by the seat
of our collective pants the past few months, and we have so much for which to
Stephen Alexander Hamilton and Cyndy Godwin moved to
Scotland on Nov. 15th. They expected to be in quarantine for two weeks. We miss
them and hope to hear from them soon.
Our new interim treasurer is Terry Blankenship, of Tukwiia.
We really appreciate his expertise and willingness to step in when Stephen
Shannon Curry, Danette Dixon and Jeanne Jacobs have been a
huge help in keeping members connected by Zoom and phone.
Margaret Osten just got new hearing aids. Danette got a new
computer. Kelsi Watson is back home after having home repairs. Gina and Gail
Allen are thankful their home had minimal damage after the neighbor’s home
burned down. Julie Miller and husband Richard are driving back east to get a
new guide dog. All members are full of vim and vinegar.
South Kitsap Council of the Blind
by Kim L. Moberg
Since my last report, much has gone on in our chapter.
Members who were interested or involved in some way attended
the virtual Washington Council of the Blind conference and convention. I do not
know about others, but in some respects, I liked the virtual conference better.
There was no driving involved and if you wanted, you could come to the
conference in your PJ’s. One of the convention highlights was that our chapter
received a chapter growth award. Jessamyn Landby chaired the Awards Committee
and I chaired the Scholarship Committee.
At our Thanksgiving meeting, we talked about what leftovers
we would bring to share with one and all if it were a face-to-face meeting. We
discussed favorite Thanksgivings from years past. It was a lot of fun. We also
held elections. Carol Brame was elected to continue as our treasurer and
Jessamyn Landby was elected as our new vice president. Congratulations to both
of you. I want to thank Kevin Jones for his time and service as our vice president
for the last two years. Kevin, you rock.
We had planned to have a little Christmas party face to
face, but the governor’s order put that on hold. When the time is right for us
to gather in groups once again, we will have an in-person Christmas party. It
is great that we have a way to connect by phone and computer, but I, along with
everyone else, long for the day when we can all be together again. Besides, if
we go on much longer, I think our chapter hug lady is going to forget her job.
You see, Pat Whitlow is the person in charge of HUGS. Once you get a hug from
Pat, you are then rewarded with a small bit of wrapped candy.
We continue to work on fundraising and plan to start working
on ideas for the coming year, so stay tuned.
Spokane Council of the Blind
by Debby Clark
Here in the Spokane area we are celebrating things past and
things to be thankful for. Our Spokane Council of the Blind meetings are what
you could still call unique. We can celebrate that, right?
The September meeting was a conference call, and we changed
the name of our chapter to Spokane Council of the Blind.
October saw us meeting in person at a restaurant, the Golden
Corral. It was very well done, and the food was really quite good. Alco
Canfield took on the daunting reading of our new bylaws. We passed all the
changes. It was a very good meeting.
Our plan was to have our November meeting there, as well.
But sometimes the best laid plans do not occur. We ended up on a conference
call again, so that was how we did our elections. We had a pretty good plan for
voting but did not need it. Cindy Glidden was elected by acclamation for
secretary, and Danielle Maher-Jack by acclamation for vice president. We are
pleased to have them both.
Seems like we need something to shake us up out of our ruts.
This has definitely been a year for the shaking ups.
I cannot exactly tell you where our next meeting will be or
what it will look like. You would be welcome wherever that is. Check in with us
on the WCB list if you have any questions. Usually our meeting is on the third
Monday of the month.
United Blind of Tri-Cities in Action
by Frank Cuta
With the pandemic still out of
control here in the Tri-Cities, we have been sheltering in place but staying
busy at home listening to ACB radio, talking books, listening to the radio
reading service, and calling out a lot for food delivery.
The virus activity ebbs and
flows. And when it ebbs, we get together in small groups for walking or playing
cards. However, lately most of our activity has been online where we carry on
our monthly chapter meeting, our book group discussion and our local tech group
In October, we accepted a motion
to forgo annual elections this year and just keep the existing officers for
another year. In November, our program speaker was Shanna from Vanda Pharmacy
talking about non-24. We had a great open discussion about the Washington
Council of the Blind convention, and everyone thought that it was great.
United Blind of Walla Walla
by Heather Meares
The air is crisp and chilly, we are hunkered down for the
winter, and trying to stay active as a chapter. Instead of our usual holiday
gathering, we celebrated virtually, sharing stories and memories with each
other. Our elections were held for the 2021 year ahead, and we continue to stay
focused on the issues that matter most to us.
We hope the new year will bring new members, more
connections in our community, and excitement for the future. We wish you all
the same in these times where it is difficult to stay hopeful that someday we
will be able to meet in person again. We also would like to challenge you to
not only support your local members, but to reach out to other chapters around
the state. Wishing you all a warm and Happy New Year.
Washington Council of the Blind Diabetics
by Danette Dixon
It is hard to believe that one year ago I put out an email
to the Washington Council of the Blind list to see if it made sense to have a
special interest affiliate involving diabetes. Now here we are one year later.
It took a bit to get started with all the expectations from WCB, but we did it.
I am very excited and encouraged about how far WCBD has come in 2020, and I am
looking forward to making plans and goals for what we can and will do in the
We have a conference call on the second Monday of each month
that anyone may attend, and there is a Facebook page, as well. For more
information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I try to have a speaker every other month. In November, we
had a diabetic educator talk about diabetes and nutrition. In September, we had
Dawn from �Angel Eyes Fitness and Nutrition� talk about diabetes and exercise.
Some of us are also involved with American Council of the
Blind Diabetics in Action (ACBDA). They are doing a Tupperware fundraiser now.
Some goals I have for next year are to raise our membership, create a fun
fundraiser, and name two members to our board of directors. Eventually, I would
like WCBD to be a part of the National organization ACBDA.
Yakima Valley Council of the Blind
by Lisa George
YAKITY YAK FROM YAKIMA
New Year�s greetings to everyone across the state from all
the members of Yakima Valley Council of the Blind.
After a nail-biting election last October, we are happy to
announce our YVCB leadership team for 2021. Tristen Breitenfeldt is our new
president, Reg George continues as vice president, Howard Underwood maintains
his position as treasurer, and Lisa George remains secretary. Our new board
director is Amy Lauri Hildersheim.
We are happy to report that our fundraising activity for
2020 has proven to be a success, even with the obstacles thrown our way by
COVID-19. We sold enough Papa Murphy�s Peel-A-Deal cards to recoup the initial
investment and make a 200% profit by the end of December, and we still have
plenty of cards to continue our fundraising this year. We recommend this
activity to any chapter, especially as Papa Murphy�s doesn�t require 501(c)(3)
status, just registration as a nonprofit. Ask Tristen or Lisa for more details.
Our wishes for you this year: stay safe, stay warm, and stay
positive. Fingers crossed that 2021 will be the year our virtual hugs will
morph into reality.
2020 WCB In Memoriam
Lori Allison, Pierce
County Association of the Blind (PCAB), Washington Council of the Blind board
Dorothy Carroll, Spokane
Council of the Blind
Berl Colley, Capital
City Council of the Blind
Barbara Crowley, United
Blind of Whatcom County (UBWC)
Shirley Gray, King
Jim Hollis, former
member of Peninsula Council of the Blind (PCB)
Joanne Hunter, PCB
Juanita Johnson, PCB
Mildred Johnson, PCAB
Arnold Kammeyer, PCAB
Diane Kirscheman, UBWC
Beverly Lewis, PCB
Vince Locati, United
Blind of Walla Walla
Joan Lord, former member
of United Blind of Seattle
2021 WCB Calendar of Deadlines and Events
For more details on events listed, please subscribe to the
wcb-l list or call 800-255-1147. On Saturdays at 10 a.m., join the WCB coffee
and conversation Zoom call.
List of Abbreviations:
DSB ��������������� Department of Services
for the Blind
WASILC � Washington State
Independent Living Council
WCB ������ Washington Council of the Blind
WSSB ���� Washington State
School for the Blind
WTBBL �� Washington Talking Book
& Braille Library
11 � WCB Diabetics call at 7 p.m.
13 � WSSB Board of Trustees meeting at 7:30 p.m.
17 � WCB Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.
21 � WASILC meeting Zoom call from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
25 � President�s call at 7 p.m.
27 � WCB Committee leaders call at 7 p.m.
1 � Treasurers call at 7 p.m.
6 � WTBBL Patron Advisory Council call from 9 a.m. to noon
6 � WCB Board Meeting from 1 to 3 p.m.
8 � WCB Diabetics call at 7 p.m.
21 � WCB Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.
22 � President�s call at 7 p.m.
28 � Deadline to submit articles for the WCB Newsline Spring
8 � WCB Diabetics call at 7 p.m.
12 � DSB State Rehab Council
meeting from 9 a.m. to noon
12 � WSSB Board of Trustees meeting
21 � WCB Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.
22 � President�s call at 7 p.m.
24 � WTBBL Book Club call at 2 p.m.
24 � WCB Committee leaders call at 7 p.m.
5 � Treasurers call at 7 p.m.
12 � WCB Diabetics call at 7 p.m.
15-16 � WASILC meeting, Seattle
18 � WCB Tech Chat with Reg and Frank at 7 p.m.
26 � President�s call at 7 p.m.
30 through May 2 � WCB Emerging Leaders Summit and WCB Board Meeting,
Crowne Plaza SeaTac
Washington Council of the Blind
is honored to recognize donors who have made a
Main Level: The Aistear Group at Morgan Stanley
Titanium Level: Andy Arvidson and Sheri Richardson
Steel Level: Anonymous, Julie Brannon, Gaylen Floy,
JR Kinnison and Kat Woofter in honor of PCB, Rhonda Nelson, Northwest Access
Fund, and Darryl Roberts
Iron Level: Michael Alvarez, Maria Buczynska, Rita
Dilek, Danette Dixon, Michael Edwards, Cindy Hollis, Byron Kaczmarski, Holly
Kaczmarski, Beth Marsau, John Ross, and Stuart Russell
Copper Level: Anonymous (3), Colette Arvidson,
William Belina, Dorene Cornwell, Michelle Denzer, Darlene Hilling, Zack Hurtz,
and Yvonne Thomas-Miller
Live Auction Items & Door Prizes
8Greens, Hayley Agers, Anacortes Soo Bahk Do, Big Foot
Music, Keri Bishop, Anne Hardy Biswell, Julie Brannon, Brighton, Alco Canfield,
Doubletree Hotel SeaTac, Hayley Edick, Fred Meyer, Lisa and Reg George, Cindy
Glidden, Guide Dog Users of Washington State, Irie-AT Inc., Josette Kernaghan,
Dan Lovell, Heather Meares, Peninsula Council of the Blind, Pierce County
Association of the Blind, Marilee Richards, Pam Schwindt, Seattle Mariners,
Snohomish County Council of the Blind, South King Council of the Blind, Leslie
Spoone, Swinomish Casino & Lodge, Trader Joe�s, United Blind of Tri-Cities,
United Blind of Walla Walla, United Blind of Whatcom County, Valdemar Estates,
Vision for Independence Center, WCB Diabetics, members of WCB Families
Committee, and Yakima Valley Council of the Blind
Day Out for the Blind
South Kitsap Council
of the Blind (designated for scholarships)
Everett Central Lions
Club (designated for WCB Families Committee)
contributions through various programs
ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program, AmazonSmiles, Benevity
Fund, Network for Good, United Way of King County, and PayPal Giving Fund
2021 WCB OFFICERS
AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
First Vice President
Second Vice President
Immediate Past President
Sheri Richardson, Seattle