Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why Does He Carry a White Cane Beside Him?

My youngest son often carries a white cane. I'm glad he can't see that sometimes people stare or turn their heads. I know I'm not supposed to be a mind-reader but my guess, as I watch them, is that they are wondering: Since he gets around so well, why does he carry a white cane?

You know why someone carries a white cane, right? Many people do. But you see, that's just it. A blind person uses a white cane to sweep back and forth in order to know what's in front of him or her. (Or that's our perception.) So why does this man carry it beside him

We tend to want to define everything and everyone. We tend to want to put things - and unfortunately, people, too - into boxes. This person is blind; this other person is sighted. This person is deaf; this other person can hear. This person needs a wheel chair; this other person does not. But real life is not that simple! 

My friend might need a wheelchair for long days out and about, but she doesn't need it for everywhere or for everything. I might not be able to hear you speaking beside me but I might hear you whisper behind me. My son might be able to lead the rest of the family around but...and that brings me back to the story at hand. 

As those who know my family know, my youngest son is "legally blind". Being legally blind doesn't mean he can't see anything or - as he sometimes says to me when I say something too obvious - "I'm not blind." But it does mean that he can't see quite as well as those of us who are fully sighted. 

The disabilities lady at his first college persuaded him to use the cane. You see, there are several different uses for many things in this world. One use for a white cane is identification (otherwise, why would it be white...and why would no one else be allowed to carry a white cane?). If you see someone with a white cane, you automatically know that person is blind...or occasionally, "just" legally blind. When you are driving and you see that person, you know that he might not be able to see you wave him across the road...or, conversely, he might not see that you're going to proceed turning left on your green light, even if he has a green light too, and you expect him to just darn well wait for you (one of my pet peeves, regardless of whether the pedestrian is sighted or not, but if that pedestrian carries a white cane, that driver may be in a heap o' trouble if he makes such an assumption).  

If you're a teacher, you know right away that this person might not see what you're writing on the board. Not that you have to molly-coddle him. You don't. He will tell you what he needs. But it's good to know, right?  If you're a student, you know that he might not see you wave or smile at him across the hallway; you have to speak up. If you're doing business with him, now you know why you might have to show him where the line is to sign on. (Not to worry, if he needs to know what he's signing, he will probably pull out his pocket video magnifier, but if it's something routine, he might ask you where to sign.) 

Wait. Didn't I say he leads the rest of the family around? What did I mean by that, and how can that be, if he's legally blind? Again, we are all different. Not only can he see large objects but he has good peripheral vision, which is what we primarily use for orientation; he hears very well; he has a good memory; and he has good spatial concepts. So if I'm going someplace I haven't been before, or some place that confuses me, I'm always glad when he's with me. 

So, if you ever see someone carrying a white cane, who doesn't seem to be blind, who doesn't sweep the cane in front of him or her, who carries it some of the time and maybe doesn't at other times, now, hopefully, you won't be puzzled. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review of The Catholic Baby Name Book

Whether you are looking for a first name, a middle name, or a confirmation name, you will find the names of many well-known saints in this book, as well as a plethora of saints whose names and stories you have probably never heard.

For example, have you ever heard of 20th-century Spanish St. Ceferino, who was uneducated but became a catechist and city councilman? Did you know there was actually a third century Italian bishop named St. Autonomous? And yes, the name does mean self-governing.

When I used to hear the name “Olympia”, the capital city of my home state, I thought of Greek gods. But it turns out there is a St. Olympia. She was born in the Ukraine. And although I don’t see the book mention some common nicknames such as Peggy for Margaret, I was fascinated to learn that there was a St. Pega, a hermitess, who once cured a blind man while she was attending her brother’s funeral.  

The Catholic Baby Name Book gives you the meanings behind the names of many saints, as well as the countries of origin, brief stories about the saints, and multiple spellings.

You can also find out the top 100 names in the US since 2011; the most popular Catholic names by decade since the sixties; a list of recently canonized saints; and resources for finding more names, stories, and information. 


You can buy the book from  the publisher, Ave Maria Press, or from Amazon, or from Barnes and Noble. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mother's Day Tribute from My Daughter

My daughter, Mary Ellen Myers, posted the following on Facebook yesterday. I decided to share it with you here in my blog (although I'm blushing a bit to do so!). Perhaps it will encourage some young mother who is tired and feels overworked that there is light at the end of the tunnel or a mother who maybe feels like your kids don't appreciate you. If you are in the latter group, I hope, as they mature, they will. And if you think your adult kids don't appreciate you, it may really just be their frustration, at this moment in time, with their own lives; or perhaps they aren't this articulate about it and you just don't know that they really do appreciate you more than you know. To all mothers, and to all who are like a mother to someone, in any way, Happy Mother's Day! (Oh. And thank you, Mary!  Wow, can you write! )

Why I'm pretty sure my mom is SuperMom:

Okay, so we've never found the cape. I'm convinced it's made of the same material as the Invisibility Cloak in Harry Potter. I'm also convinced that she hides a time machine. Otherwise I cannot explain the number of things she does in just one day, in just one hour, in just one minute. It's kind offense, Margaret Mary, but kind of freaky. I'm not saying you're a freak of course. I'd love it if you'd let me in on some of your magical secrets because even on my most productive days, I feel like a lazy bum in comparison.

With only a high school education and a thirst for knowledge that rivals Einstein, she homeschooled 6 kids, adapting to different learning needs and styles. All of us have degrees or are finishing college, all with good grades. I think her success is largely due to the fact that she never stopped to ask whether or not she could do something. She just did it.

She never had much of a temper but we'd always try to see how far we could push it, see if we could make her blow. It was a jolly good time when we could even though it meant somebody was in trouble. Even when angry, she never punished in anger, but only out of love. Many don't understand this distinction.

She didn't have many rules because frankly, she was more interested in reading and writing than micromanaging her noisy, crazy children. Most cries of "Mom, Mom, so and so is doing ___" were met with a nonchalant "Is anyone bleeding"? Upon discovering that no one was in immediate danger, she would dive back into her world of reading/writing with great fervor. But she does have a few rules about safety. For example, the Mom-mobile does not leave the station unless everyone's seatbelts are securely fastened. Which might be related to her desire to drive like she's in the Indy 500 if she thought she could get away with it. This IS the same woman who aced the test, revving circles around the guys when she got her motorcycle license to cruise the streets of Los Angeles.

She's gotta be the proudest parent on earth. She rejoices at our accomplishments, both big and small, quickly followed by "so what are your next plans"? I'm sure if I went to Mars, she would want to know what planet was next on the list. She always wants to have a plan, know the details of the plan and follow the plan.

She's a great neighbor. By that, I mean, nothing is gonna happen in that neighborhood without her knowing about it. But it's due to her amazing observation skills that she understands people so well. She captures the motivations behind why they do what they do. Where someone else might label someone a "jerk", she holds back judgement and says "well, you know maybe ____ is the reason they acted this way". And yet, even though she might understand the offender's mindset, she won't allow them to treat herself or her family badly. She has stood between police in bulletproof vests and a family member when they tried to arrest the wrong person, all 5 foot 2 inches of her badassery halting them in their tracks.

She's a fountain of wisdom but only because she's always growing and seeing the world in new ways, because she's never lost her childlike love of learning. Happy Mother's Day, Mom aka Aunt Peggy aka Aunt Margaret Mary. Love you.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

My "Just Say No" Diet

Should I really post this when I haven't even begun my "diet"? Well, that's what blogging is all about, right? It's a journal ("weB LOG", right?). it is. I have been a bit overweight for awhile now. And no, I'm not going to define "a bit". Maybe later a few weeks or months...maybe I will.

I also have a family cookbook in the works to share with you some day, and the more I've looked at diets, the more I realize I haven't really changed my mind about the value of most of the foods and recipes in my cookbook. Mostly, it's about balance.

But - I believe -  it's not my own cooking that has caused me to put on weight. It's all the "other stuff" I add or substitute:  the candy or doughnuts I buy at the grocery store; the fast foods or deliciously healthy but sweet semi-fast foods (eg. Starbucks, Panera, etc.); and the vending machines at school - and previously at work - because, after all, it's been a stressful day. At home it might be the handfuls of chocolate chips or raisins because I'm bored or lonely or sad, or the dishes of oyster crackers I crack in half sideways while I'm on the computer you know how much fun that is? (Just to clarify, I don't eat all of those different things in a single day.)  Worst of all, I "need" a soda because I am bored, stressed, sad, nervous, or to celebrate something!

I keep thinking I should "cut out sweets"...or "give up white sugar and white flour".  Maybe that's a good idea but I've never been a "cold turkey" kind of person. And I live in a busy, real world. So, the other day I made up My "Just Say No" Diet. No, I don't plan to market it (hmm?).

In my "diet plan", almost every "just say no" category has exceptions. They say the plan won't work unless you work the plan. So I'm trying to make a plan that I can and will "work". These exceptions should work for me. If you were going to give something up, it might be something different and your exceptions might be different. For example, where I "except" a light spread of jam from my sugar prohibition, you might substitute a little ketchup. Or whatever. Or you might be a "cold turkey" type of person and give up all sugar. But without further ado, here's my plan.

My "Just Say No" Diet  :)

No white sugar except:

A teaspoon or packet of sugar in tea or iced tea (maximum of 2 daily)

A light spread of jam (about a teaspoon) on whole grain toast (maximum of 1 daily)

Occasional hot chocolate, for a treat, when out (maximum of one a month)

Only minimal raisins, chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet), honey, or other natural sweeteners in:

Small servings of whole grain cereals or whole grain baked goods (maximum of 2 small servings daily)

No artificial sweeteners; no exceptions:

So, with only a teaspoon of table sugar and no artificial sweeteners, sodas are not in the plan, period. (This is the strictest but most important one.)

No white flour, except:

Burritos, quesadillas, pizza, or sub sandwich (maximum of twice a week)

Occasional roll, half-sandwich, waffle or a couple of pancakes, if eating out or serving company (maybe once a month)

Just Say Yes


Eggs, lean beef, chicken, turkey, ham, fresh or frozen fish, canned fish

Dairy products without added sugars. Choose low-fat dairy except for the occasional dollop of sour cream with some of my foods and a teaspoon of half-and-half in my coffee (maximum of 2 coffees a day & no, that's not on top of 2 cups of tea, but more of an either/or kind of thing).


Protein bars

Nut butter


Veggies, lots of veggies; get ones I like, include avocado, and remember, too, that low-sodium V-8 is easy to grab or to take along

Brown or wild rice

Fruits, in moderation

Whole grain cereals, pastas, and breads, in moderation


Butter in moderation on toast

Olive oil for frying

Canola oil for baking

Olives for snacking, in tiny amounts

Avocado (yes, I mentioned avocado twice; yum)

I will check back with you later about how well I stuck with the plan and how successful it was. 

What do you do when you want to lose a little weight? Feel free to share.  

P.S. Well, I can't say I have stuck by the plan religiously but I've certainly tried to "do better". And guess what? In spite of being sick with a virus which turned into a sinus infection (no, being sick doesn't make me stop eating, but it does make me add more sugar, for example, Sierra Mist), and in spite of having company for a week (& eating out nearly every night), I lost a half pound a week for the past month, just by paying attention to the above. And I never felt deprived.  I know I will probably reach a point where I will have to give up more if I want to lose more, but so far, so good.