Tag Archives: Humourous

Lessons from a gem squash

I never imagined a vegetable could teach me such a profound and surprising lesson.

It all started in my haste to prepare a low carb base for our rather too soupy bacon and mushroom sauce. There was not enough sweet potato and I can eat gem squash all day every day, especially if infused with salty butter and topped with baby peas.

I know that gems are generally boiled in water on the stove top, but there were too many pots on the go and so the microwave was the next best option.  I knowingly took a skewer and punctured holes through the thick skin into the pip ‘compartment’, which I presume has a special scientific name. 

I confidently popped it into the microwave for 5 minutes and happily continued with the stirrings and steamings while the microwave hummed it’s familiar purr. In the middle of a closed eye tasting, which is my preferred method for cheering on my tastebuds, I heard an almighty BANG! 

The microwave door was swinging bewilderedly on it’s limp hinges, the gem squash had knocked out a nearby chocolate bunny and was staring wide mouthed at me from the fruit bowl at least a foot beside the empty microwave. Yellow squash innards clung to every available surface in the 1m blast zone like crazy party string after everyone has left. I of course, let out a yelp, then gawked in silence before bursting into giggles. 

My next thought was , “Oh goodness”, did I kill the microwave?’ I carefully switched off the power at the wall, pulled out the warm plug and left it to ‘rest’. 

Then, as I slowly inspected the evidence of debri and clumps of pips, shell and pulp, I conjectured that the door must have blown open with such backhand force that it’s rebound hit the oncoming gem shell with a neat forehand in order to place it in the fruit bowl. 

In the process of cleaning up I thought back to the pricking of the squash. I had stabbed into the middle, but obviously missed the inside sac. My brain usually runs on 2 or 3 tracks at a time, so I could not help thinking how humanlike this squash behaved. A thick outer shell that looks strong and protective and impenetrable, yet soft and nourishing on the inside with a coddled innate ability to reproduce in it’s own kind. 

I was reminded of how piercing the shell can prevent a food sort from becoming a missile and, similarly, how powerful humility can be to disarm emotional pressure to avoid unwanted ‘explosions’. I somehow felt that the exploding squash had highlighted my arrogance and poked fun at my lack of humility. It felt like I lost a contest I did not know I was involved in. Gem 1, Jen 0.

I know you probably think me a little silly seeing it like this, but it really did make me think. A little humility can go a long way to turning a possibly  explosive situation into a pleasant and nourishing treat. 

Epilogue

As this happened on the Easter weekend, I left the microwave for 3 days in hopes of resurrection,  before plugging it in, willing it’s little twinkly lights to wriggle across the display screen. It is dead, dead…and standing on the counter as a memorial to true humility. I’ll move it when the lesson has sunk in.

I now feel like a pumpkin.

Sunshine Surprise

It was a cold, crisp Friday morning as I pulled on my gloves and headed down our sunny driveway to start my day. I had a spring in my step as I headed into the sunrise with all the joys of a new day playing hopefully in my minds eye. Our complex was peaceful and I presumed all residents were out an about, so the “hello” from the shadow bumped me right off my rails. I let out a whoop, quickly followed by a laugh and I think my neighbour got a bigger fright than I did.

Oh, the joys of low vision and not being able to see anything in a shadow!

We both recovered with friendly apologies and explanations…and now he knows that my mobility cane is not just an optional accessory.

Low vision awareness, happena one awkward moment at a time.

Cane and able

Cane and able … not the story of the original rival siblings, but one also involving pride and internal conflict.

I recently had an unexpected trip to Johannesburg. There was little time to prepare during a busy day and , it was only when my husband and I were standing still on the ‘skellylators’ (our family word for escalators) that I began to think about this trip – body still and mind begins to move.

I realised that I was traveling alone. No securing husband, just me and my faithful, rather battered white cane.

Usually, when I go on a solo adventure, I mentally visualise the places I am going to and the colors of shops, the landmarks and the likely course of action. This time I was just there unexpectedly and had to ‘go with the flow’. When I feel vulnerable I make an effort to embrace my weakness and know that I am never alone. God is with me always. That morning I read from an ancient letter, “Let your gentleness be evident to all, for the Lord is near you …and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind” . Boy I needed that peace, so decided to just be gentle and ask whoever I met whenever I needed it.

I checked in online, but went to the counter anyway to find out which gate I needed to find for boarding. the lady asked if I needed assistance and I automatically said, “no”. The thought of sitting in a wheelchair when my legs are perfectly healthy seemed like a false pretense. (Will think more about this for the future). I also enjoy the adrenalin rush of finding my own way.

I would never travel without my mobility cane. Whilst it is a symbol of blindness and someone needing help (why din’t I get the assistance offered?) , it frees me to do stupid things and to ask stupid questions like, “ is this gate 7?” Whilst standing under a bright blue number I also get into unexpected conversations with interesting people I would otherwise never meet.

I became very aware of the surroundings for future reference. For example, in the SA airports the bathroom signs are round and bright yellow. I still can’t see which one is for who (although our law allows you to choose your gender anyway) and could not distinguish the disability one. My cane gave me permission to ask for directions to the disabled loo. Some folk falter before answering, thinking that this is only for wheelchairs (I had this conversation in the queue with the girl who had directed me earlier) , but can you imagine being in a large noisy bathroom with sounds of hand dryers, flushing loos and intercom announcements and trying to hear which door has opened and which cubicle is free. The disabled loo – which is probably very able (unless it is blocked) – is either free or not . A much simpler option for the vision impaired.

When joining a queue for boarding I looked for the brightest bag or shirt and tucked myself in behind that person. As long as they kept moving in the direction I needed to go, I was fine. At one stage the blue bag that I was following had to veer left to board through the front door of the plane and I had to veer right to board from the rear door. I walked slowly until I spotted another colourful blob to follow. (I think he was quite amused when I asked him if I could follow his bright shirt.)

There might come a day when it becomes too stressful to follow moving blobs and blurs of landmarks, but until then… my cane makes me able.

Finger licking not so good.

Having hands is a wonderful privilege. To be able to feel and touch and hold and twist.

Our fingers can interpret texture, temperature and substance … and that is why, when you reach out to touch one thing and it happens to be something else which you do not expect, it can make you ‘gril’
(no single English word for this )- shocking shiver and shriek. For those who have good eyesight I am sure you have eaten a fruit whilst distracted by watching TV only to taste that you have bitten into something rotten. As you peer down and see half a worm you probably reacted beyond the scale of reason and have this firmly etched in your memory.

Recently I have glimpsed shapes, thinking that they are one thing , only to reach out and touch it and realise how wrong my interpretation was. Whilst cooking dinner, I rinsed off my hands (not literally) and flapped the dripping digits over the sink while I scanned the counter for the dish towel – it is seldom where it should be. I spotted a crumpled white object that seemed to have straight edges and so lunged for the prize, only to plant my hand firmly in the butter which stood boldly exposed in the silver foil. Yuk! A few days later I was putting lids back onto bottles of pickles, dressing and mustard. I reached for the small pale lid and slid my fingers into a splodge of mayonnaise.

Someone with worse vision than mine once joked,” don’t worry, you’ll get a feel for it”. Well, my favourite worst place to feel stuff is in the fruit and veggie market. My fingers are destined to plunge into the frot spot on any aging product. It seems like there is a magnetic attraction between my fingertips and the worms and wounds of any soft centred food. When I unexpectedly hit the spot my whole body shakes and weird noises escape my lips. It must look really funny if replayed on a security camera.

Getting a ‘hole in one’ is fantastic for a golf handicap , but it makes fun of my handicap on other types of greens…of course!

Acknowledgment: Thank you Glynne for being my shopping chaperone.

Quirky Questions ’bout three blind mice

mouse question3 blind mice, 3 blind mice
See how they run, see how they run
They all run after the farmer’s wife
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife
Have you ever seen such a thing in your life
as 3 blind mice.

Was their blindness metaphorical? How can they run if they are blind? Were they just severely vision impaired?  If they had good mobility does it mean that they still had some peripheral sight? And for that matter, how can they run after the farmer’s wife if they cannot see where she is?  Does she smell? Why was she running with a knife? Does she not know how dangerous that is? What made her turn and attack the mice? Why is the farmer’s wife torturing the disable creatures? Did the SPCA and the disability rights associations get involved?  Where is the farmer?  What did she do with the tails? Are they still running blind? How are they doing after their unexpected amputations?  ‘ Have you ever seen’…why is our sight  being questioned?

This is a short sighted poem … not very mice!

(origin actually to do with Queen Mary’s assassination of three prominent protestants)

Silly Siri and other short-sighted sniggers

Siri me
As many of you know, I can see very little detail and so I find Siri (the personal voice assistant on my iPhone) very useful….most of the time. A few weeks ago I was involved in helping organise an event management workshop.  As a colleague pointed out, the Absent chairman of the organisation, definitely needed the event management skills on offer as the biggest event of his life happened unexpectedly… three weeks early – the birth of his first child.
As a result, I had a bit more responsibility than expected and promised to take a photo of the delegates alongside the banner of Retina South Africa.  After lunch my helpful, fully sighted husband took the pic on my phone – which was also a fun event … Have you ever tried to get a handful of us blind people looking at the camera at the same time? Have you ever seen a photographer trying to clap his hands and hold a camera still?  Anyhow, the required task was finally completed.  As the session began I quickly wanted to forward the picture to ‘the boss’. I asked Siri to put in a caption saying, “The Essential Event Management Workshop”. I pushed Send and then peered through my magnifying glass to see that all was in order. In distress, I shrieked aloud, interrupting the speaker who was just getting underway, and I read, “the sensual event management workshop.” The place erupted as I quickly sent a voice WhatsApp saying,” Essential, essential, e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l”.
Now, funnily enough, 3 years later, my husband is a sexuality educator and is educating on ‘sensual management’, but I will definitely not trust Siri with dictating related messages.

Siri nearly got me into Siri-ous trouble!

Mistaken identity
The coldest weekend this winter coincided with a burst geyser and an extra family member in the house. We were all using one bathroom and all our hygiene products had gathered in a line along the basin edge like spectators, to watch the ice – cold, high speed water sport. . I reached for my face scrub in the blue and white bottle and felt the luxury of a thick cream on my cheeks. The lotion smelled unusual. After the chilly commotion I took the tube to inspect the contents under my reading camera… it was heel balm!

Wakey, wakey
Half asleep I staggered to the kitchen to make the early morning coffee. I placed the mugs on the counter and spooned granules into the first one… except that it was upside down and the coffee sprinkled all over my slippers and the floor. Is that why they call it ‘in-stand coffee?’

A separated joke
Albeit weak, I need to share my home– made joke that birthed itself out of my home-made yoghurt gone wrong.

What did the cheese say to the curd?
“No Whey!”

Sorry you can see

A tongue-in-cheek poem written for Human Rights day 2016

blindfold

  Being blind like a mole and a bat, gives us powers that we are good at
We can smell secret eating, by a bloke in a meeting
And can hear if he’s skinny or fat.

We’re allowed to forget people’s names, So asking, “Who’s that?” is no shame
We cannot see freckles, or pimples or speckles
So people love friends with white canes.

For those who are vision impaired, body language tells stories …Not fair
No deceiving or denying, cos we know when you’re lying
so be honest, be real or be scared!

We notice the noise and sound clues, then form mental pics in all hues
the world is so clean, when the dirt is not seen
And beauty is something we choose

So sorry that you guys can see, the pain and the raw poverty
The pressure and pace, of your visual rat race
Makes me grateful sometimes ….to not see.

*[Today we recall human rights, especially for those without sight
we have a lot to give, if we could simply live
and work without having to fight]

So if you think this poem is uncouth, don’t worry, we’re okay with the truth
we got a bad card, but were grateful to God
that our blindness gives us a great view.

*verse for human rights day