THE MINNESOTA MEMO Winter 2021
A QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF:
THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND OF MINNESOTA
PO box 23543
Richfield, MN 55423
The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the position of the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota. They are the views of the article’s author.
Product and service information is provided as a resource only and not as an endorsement of a particular product or service.
Catalina Martinez, Editor
Michael Lauf: Web Administrator
Phone numbers of note:
SSB main number (651)539-2300
ACBM (612) 223-5543 Leave Message
Apple support for people with disabilities
Microsoft support for people with disabilities
Comcast Support For Persons With Disabilities
You can use a search for three asterisks to move from article to article.
Table of Content
Message From the President By Marian Haslerud
A Guide Dog’s Night Before Christmas By GDB puppy raiser Jill Savino
2021 Minnesota State Convention By Janet Dickelman
My Christmas Memory By Patty Slaby
The Easiest Peanut Butter Fudge By Marian Haslerud
Santa’s Secret Wish submitted by Nini Urschel
Who Am I, Fr. Ron Johnson Story by Catalina Martinez?
Song For The Journey By Fr. Ron Johnson
Cranberry Pudding By Barb Appleby
The Blind Can See Through All Disguises By Charlotte Lang
Easy & delicious Peppermint Patties By The Food Lady
Christmas Traditions By Janet Dickelman
Beer Bread Submitted By Marian Haslerud
Officers and Board of Directors
ACBM Standing Committee Chairs
By Marian Haslerud
COVID-19 caused many changes this year. Because of the pandemic, there was a significant increase in absentee voting. Several ACB affiliates filed lawsuits asking for accessible absentee voting. The courts did grant them the ability to vote using accessible ballots.
About two weeks before the election our Secretary of State granted accessible absentee voting. The State chose Democracy Live to provide that service.
Democracy Live developed the absentee ballot used for online voting. They have also produced an accessible machine for casting ballots at the poling centers.
I contacted my local county officials and requested a link with the accessible ballot. It was extremely easy to use. The instructions were straight forward and understandable. Unfortunately, the State granted the accessible ballot extremely late. Most of the absentee ballots completed by our membership were already sent in. Hopefully, we will receive the absentee ballots earlier in future elections.
We will need to continue to work to ensure that all blind Minnesotans will be able to vote using the accessible ballots. Our advocacy committee will work to be sure that happens.
Have a wonderful holiday season.
A Guide Dog’s Night Before Christmas
By: GDB puppy raiser Jill Savino
Twas the night before Christmas, the kennels were still,
with most dogs asleep, having eaten their fill.
The labs were sprawled out, quite snug in their beds,
While visions of milk bones danced in their heads.
The Goldens and Labs were curled up on the floor,
some twitched in their sleep and some even did snore.
The dog food was stacked in the feed room with care,
in hopes that a trainer soon would be there.
Off by the window, a kennel cat lay,
surveying the lawn at the end of his day.
Something was different, that little cat knew –
something would happen, it had to be true.
That day as the workers had left to go home,
they’d wished “Merry Christmas” before starting to roam.
The dogs had all noticed that during their walks,
the trainers seemed happier and eager to talk.
In the mall where they worked amid people and stores,
there were decorations, music, distractions galore!
Most dogs pranced along without worry or fear,
some balked at the man with those fake-looking deer.
The cat was near sleeping when he first heard the sound,
a whoosh through the air and a jingle abound.
The sound of a collar when an animal shook,
but the sound just kept growing – he’d better go look.
From the ceiling there came a kind of a thunk,
As the kennel cat climbed up on a pile of junk.
But the dogs were still quiet, all sleeping so sound,
as this man dressed in red made his way to the ground.
He patted the cat as he climbed past his spot,
then made his way right to the old coffee pot.
A labrador sat up, not fully awake,
then a golden soon followed with a mighty loud shake.
That did it…the dogs filled the kennel with noise,
but in spite of the din, the old man kept his poise.
He filled the pot full and it started to brew,
then he pulled up a chair and took in the view.
Dogs all around him, so carefully bred,
he knew well their jobs, and the people they led.
Some had stopped barking and looked at him now,
while others continued their deafening howl.
Laying a finger in front of his lips,
the jolly old man soon silenced their yips.
He smiled, laughed, and took a short pause.
“You may not know me, but I’m Santa Claus,”
He filled up his mug with hot coffee and cream,
and said, “Meeting you all has been one of my dreams.”
The cat jumped down to explore Santa’s pack.
He said, “Sorry, kitty, I’ve emptied my sack.”
Santa smiled, drank, looked in their eyes –
deep brown and gold, all wide with surprise.
Some of these dogs he’d seen just last year,
All in their homes – cute, full of good cheer.
He’d seen the effect of a pup on a tree,
but now they were here, just waiting to be.
“I didn’t bring presents or bones to chew.
But I’ll tell you what’s better – and what you’re to do.
You’ll all worked hard and the trainers will share,
both praise and correction, gentle and fair.
You’ll go lots of places and face scary things,
you’ll ride buses, planes, and hear sirens ring.
Cars will drive at you, you’ll know what to do,
Moving from danger, not moving into.
Then, when you think your trainer’s the best,
the kindest, and funniest, just toss all the rest;
That trainer will leave you, and give you away,
handing your leash over despite your dismay.
The one who will feed you might see just a tad,
Or maybe it’s just that their focus is bad.
So, you little buggers will work as their eyes
To be a great team and discover the prize.
The prize isn’t kibble, or even new toys,
It’s leading your partner, you good girls and boys.
Santa sipped coffee, looked over the brood,
But what he said next seemed just a bit rude.
“Some may not make it and won’t become guides.
But time here’s not wasted, no casting aside.
Some will be drug dogs and some will find bombs,
some will be pets with new dads and moms.
When the last drop of coffee had gone from his cup
Santa turned, and smiled at each wide-eyed pup.
“The best gift of all is to give something back.
And that’s why there’s nothing for you in my pack.
Draining his mug, he went to each pen,
Petting and scratching each dog yet again.
“The following years, even more after that,
you’ll all give great gifts wherever you’re at.
You might lick a hand on a really bad day,
or notice a car and step out of its way.
You might catch a crook or discover some loot,
bring joy to an old man in a funny red suit.
Your master will love you and treat you with care,
knowing your training will always be there.”
After the last had been petted and soothed,
He rinsed out the mug and made ready to move.
To the ladder he climbed for the door high above,
with a smile and a wave as he slipped on his glove.
All the dog’s ears were pricked as he flew out of sight,
Saying, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
2021 Minnesota State Convention
By Janet Dickelman
Come one come all; join the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota (ACBM) for our 2021 state convention.
Convention dates are Friday, January 22nd through Sunday, January 24th.
Convention registration is just $15.00, (plus an optional cost of $15.00 for Friday evening’s play), by registering you will be eligible for door prizes and receive an electronic copy of our convention program which will include zoom links to join the convention and interact with our vendors.
To register for the convention, follow the link www.acbminnesota.org. If you choose to register by phone call Jen at (651) 312-1435.
Our convention will begin with our virtual exhibit hall Friday afternoon; there will be a presentation by the director of research from the MN Historical Society “gangsters, prohibition and caves”
followed by an audio described performance of the play titled “Operation:Immigration”
courtesy of Minnesota Jewish Theatre.
“How do you find out about yourself if your father died too soon? If you’re Minnesota-born playwright Avi Aharoni, you write a play about your Iranian-born Jewish father.” After the play Avi and the producer of the play will join us for a Q&A session. Reminder: there is an additional $15.00 cost for the play.
On Saturday we have a great variety of sessions.
“So, you want to be an advocate” featuring ACB’s Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, Clark Rasch. We will have updates from the MN library, MN state services for the blind and Vision Loss Resources, and the Minnesota State academy for the Blind. Join us for a round table discussion featuring blind authors, a presentation on obtaining health care services as a blind person, a presentation on self-driving vehicles and a session on accessible voting. Learn about the importance of balance including a balance class, enjoy a presentation by an Emmy nominated blind film composer, and hear from ACB president Dan Spoone.
There will also be time to reconnect with our vendors, and a Saturday evening auction with lots of goodies!
Sunday Morning ACBM member Father Ron Johnson will host a session called “The Season of Light” followed by our ACBM membership meeting.
To register for the convention, follow the link www.acbminnesota.org. If you choose to register by phone call Jen at (651) 312-1435.
My Christmas Memory
By Patty Slaby
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. One fond memory is eating my Grandma’s sour cream sugar cooky cutouts baked in the woodstove oven. Nothing can compare. We always had a tree, a real one while growing up. I began decorating my own domain when I rented my first apartment and continue to do it today. My house is decorated with music boxes, teddy bears, snowmen and I collect Christmas trees. The outside is also well decorated with a train, sled and reindeer, trees and a nativity scene and lots of lights. I also have several nativity scenes a lead crystal one purchased over a number of years and many others.
When I bought my first home, I baked Cherry Bread to give away to all the people who had helped me that first fall. It became popular and I try to find a different bread I haven’t made each year. I created a Butterscotch Bread on my own. I will share Cherry Bread since it was my initial start. I love to bake and have baked with the same woman for 33 years. We take one weekend and bake, bake and bake some more. Our variety is quite extensive. Enjoy the recipe!
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup cherry juice from drained cherries
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 8-ounce bottle Maraschino cherries chopped
2-1/2 cups flour
CREAM sugar and shortening. Add beaten eggs, milk, cherry juice. Add dry ingredients. Add cherries last mixing just until blended. Pour into 2 9 by 5 inch or 4 to 5 small pans that have been well greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes when using small pans about 45 minutes for large pans. Test with toothpick. Let stand for ten minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.
THE EASIEST PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
By Marian Haslerud
½ cup butter
1 (16 ounce) package brown sugar
½ cup milk
¾ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 2. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
4. Pour over confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8×8 inch dish. 5. Chill until firm and cut into squares.
Santa’s Secret Wish
submitted by Nini Urschel
On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes looked deep into Santa’s,
to Santa’s surprise he said as he sat on Santa’s broad knee, “I want your secret. Tell it to me.” He leaned up and whispered in Santa’s good ear “How do you do it, year after year?” “I want to know how, as you travel about, giving gifts here and there, you never run out. How is it, dear Santa, that in your pack of toys you have plenty for all of the world’s girls and boys? Stays so full, never empties, as you make your way from roof top to roof top, to homes large and small, from nation to nation, reaching them all?”
And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy, “Don’t ask me hard questions. Don’t you want a toy?” But the child shook his head, and Santa could see that he needed the answer. “Now listen to me.” he told that small boy with light in his eyes, “My secret will make you sadder and wise.
The truth is that my sack is magic. Inside it holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride. But although I do visit each girl and each boy, I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy. Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad, some homes are desperate, some homes are bad. Some homes are broken, and the children there grieve. Those homes I visit, but what should I leave? My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff, but the homes where despair lives toys aren’t enough. So, I tiptoe in, kiss each girl and boy, and I pray with them that they will be given the joy of the spirit of Christmas, the spirit that lives in the heart of the dear child who gets not, but gives. If only God hears me and answers my prayers, when I visit next year, what I will find there are homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love and boys and girls gifted with light from above. It’s a very hard task, my smart little brother, to give toys to some and to give prayers to others. But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed, for God has a way of meeting each need. That’s part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth, is that my sack I carry on Christmas Eve day, more love than a Santa could ever give away. Not just toys.
The more that I give, the fuller it seems, because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams. And do you know something? You got a sack, too. It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you. It never gets empty, it’s full from the start. It’s the center of lights, and love. It’s your heart and if on this Christmas you want to help me, don’t be concerned with the gifts beneath your tree. Open that sack called your heart, and share your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care.”
The light in the boy’s eyes was glowing. “Thanks for your secret. I’ve got to be going.” “Wait, little boy,” said Santa, “Don’t go. Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?” And just for a moment the small boy stood still, touched his heart with his small hand and whispered, “I will.”
Who Am I?
By Rf. Ron Johnson
Fr. Ron was born Ronald Michael Kendzierski in Dekalb Illinois to parents Ron and Mary Kathleen in 1967. Fr. Ron is blind due to his mother contracting the measles while pregnant.
Fr. Ron’s family moved frequently due to his Fathers studies. In the early seventies, the Penderecki family moved to Kalamazoo Michigan so his dad could attend Western University where he did some of his graduate work. Fr. Ron and his older brother Scott spent their early years of school in Kalamazoo.
In 1979 Fr. Ron’s father took a teaching job in Albuquerque New Mexico, so the Penderecki family moved and Fr. Ron was in sixth grade. But in 1980 The Penderecki family moved back to Michigan because the schools in Albuquerque were not particularly good. The family moved to Trevor City Michigan where Fr. Ron continued his schooling up to his senior year.
In 1985 Fr. Ron moved to Tampa Florida for his senior year. Fr. Ron remembers telling his mother that he liked the feeling of Kalamazoo Michigan, so when the time came to decide on what college to attend, Fr. Ron applied to many schools, Kalamazoo college was among them. He was excepted at Kalamazoo college and in 1986, off he went. He completed school in 1991 with triple majors; Fr. Ron says, sociology, political science and dish washing. He went on to graduate work and received a major in sociology and a second major in cultural history at Western Michigan University.
Between high school and college, Fr. Ron started calling home bound seniors with a program called Service with Love and he fell in love with seniors.
Fr. Ron first thought he would become a lawyer, run for office, and then run for president of the United States and change the world. After attending a debate class Fr. Ron realized that politics was not for him because he just does not know how to talk his way around other people.
When Fr. Ron was twenty years old and halfway thru his under-grad courses, his Godfather asked Fr. Ron what he thought about teaching. Fr. Ron said that was a good idea, so he directed his studies more towards teaching; continuing to call seniors and listening to their stories.
Fr. Ron became a student teacher and read about the discrepancies between the city schools and the suburban schools as far as how money is distributed. He tried to teach the students compassion, and some caught on, but most did not. The students did not believe in following rules and Fr. Ron was fearful because there was thirty of them and only one of him. Fr. Ron felt that this was not a good fit, so he went back to graduate school.
Fr. Ron wanted to be helpful; wanted to be useful in the world, so he thought that going into the seminary would be a good vehicle and continue with his work with seniors.
When Fr. Ron was going for his second major, study in Irish culture, a monsignor approached him and ask if he wanted to join the Holy Cross Fathers. So, Fr. Ron took a year off and did some desermon and traveled around the country on Greyhound buses.
In 2006 Fr. Ron attended United Seminary in New Brighton Minnesota, which is the school he wanted to attend since 2001. In 2008 Fr. Ron joined the Old Catholic Communion, which is not part of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. In 2009 Fr. Ron became a deacon and in 2010 Fr. Ron became a priest. In the Old Catholic religion priests can be married, women can be priests along with gay individuals.
Fr. Ron continued to work with seniors until the pandemic. He is now staying in contact with them via phone and works with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.
Fr. Ron met his wife Sue Johnson at the United Seminary while he was applying for a school loan. They were married in 2010 and Fr. Ron took his wife’s name. Fr. Ron feels why should the wife always have to take the husband’s name.
Fr. Ron enjoys writing poetry and plays both piano and violin. There will be a poem from Fr. Ron at the conclusion of this article.
Words from Fr. Ron, “I’m always excited to share stories, so I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of ACBM. I am grateful that people would want to read this, and I hope that if anyone can get something out of my story, I would hope that it would be that my whole life’s work, my effort is to promote kindness and humility and understanding of our place in the world as a place of centeredness.
Song For The Journey
By Fr. Ronald Johnson
Guide us to Thy Perfect Light
That’s the wisdom of the ages
Though our hearts be filled with fright
Teething now, then turn the pages
Wandering now in deepest night
Our lonely inner battle rages
Tossed between both left and right
Perhaps we’ll never know.
Tortured by our cheap delights
We scarce regard the human cages
Testing power, testing might
Both on near and distant stages
Fail to hear the pains despite
The plaintiff callings of the sages
Bring them nearer to our sight
And set our hearts aglow.
Stormy seas ‘tween here and there
Our spirits sense the wayward churning
Leading onward if we dare
Beyond our deepest, wildest yearnings
Lift us out of dark despair
The flame that flickers hope yet burning
Seeking solace and repair
When life’s a sadness show.
Knowing neither when nor where
Yet we must ever keep on learning
Surely, we must always share.
Gifts freely given at the turning
Of each season, foul or fair
In gratitude our life not spurning
For each other we must care
In God our trust must grow.
By Barb Appleby
This recipe is my grandmothers and a family tradition. This is much like the plum pudding in the story a Christmas Carol.
Half cup hot water
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups halved cranberries or one bag.
1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped
1 and half cup flour
half cup molasses
Put soda in hot water than add molasses. Add rest of ingredients grease pan.
Cover with wax paper over loaf pan or bunt pan, I use string. If using bunt pan, make a cork out of tinfoil to close hole. Steam on burner of stove, . Use a canner or large pot, that will hold pan. Put in water about 2 inches below edge of pudding pan. and cover pot bring to boil and then simmer for about 2 hours. The final product will come out like a cake.
1 cup sugar
Half cup butter.
Half cup heavy whipping cream
Bring sauce to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Cut and serve in bowls, and serve sauce hot over cake. you may want to make extra sauce.
The Blind Can See Through All Disguises
By Charlotte Lang
As the holidays approach, one particular Christmas comes to mind. I was born totally blind, so recognizing voices is a huge part of how I know who I am talking to or who is in the room. My family grew up in the rural south and several of my aunts and uncles and my grandmother all lived around us within close proximity. There were lots of cousins and people around and we saw each other almost daily. So of course, I knew who everyone was quite well. Another aunt and uncle of mine owned a small gas station and convenience store just down the road. We were in a rural area so kids getting to see Santa Claus wasn’t very common unless mom and dad made the 30 plus minute drive into town to go to Wal Mart or the mall. So, my aunt and uncle came up with the idea to have another uncle of mine dress up as and play Santa for all the local kids. It was a Saturday morning probably the second week in December if I remember correctly. I was about 8 or 9 years old. My mom got my brother and I ready and said we were going to go and see Santa Claus. Of course, we were both overly excited. She said he was going to come to Aunt Tina and Uncle Jerry’s store. I was very familiar with the store as sometimes my mom helped them and they kept me from time to time because I was a good child and did not drive them to distraction while they were working.
We got to the store and of course there was a line of kids waiting to see Santa. We were standing there in line and I starting hearing Santa’s voice. Then of course being a child and not having the forethought of adulthood, I just blurted out what I observed. “Hey that’s not Santa Claus, that’s Uncle Terry. Hey Uncle Terry.” Of course, my mom is trying to shush me, and I keep insisting no, I know mom, it is not Santa Claus.
That is Uncle Terry. Listen to him. You can’t tell? So, my mother, bless her soul, must take me outside. She then explains to me that yes, it was Uncle Terry but he actually really did work for Santa. Santa was super busy and had lots of places to go and still had to get toys made.
So, he had good friends, one of which was Uncle Terry, who played Santa Claus for all the kids and then when he got home, he called Santa and told Santa what they all wanted. Well, I thought this was the coolest thing ever and of course agreed that since I was now in on the secret, I’d agree to play along. Quick thinking, Mom!
The moral of this story? Never take a blind child to see a close relative dressed up as Santa. Happy holidays.
Easy & delicious Peppermint Patties
By The Food Lady
Yields: 12 patties | Total Time: 15 minutes
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2-1 tsp peppermint extract (depending on taste)
1/3-1/2 cup melted and cooled dark chocolate
Mix all ingredients except the dark chocolate. Pat mixture out into 12 patties and place on a pan. Put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler just until melted, then allow chocolate to return to room temperature. Take patties from the freezer and dip each into the chocolate, coating evenly. Return them to the freezer for several minutes, allowing the chocolate to set. Store in the refrigerator.
By Janet Dickelman
At our house Christmas traditions were sacrosanct. Christmas Eve we could open one gift and it was always new pajamas to wear for Santa! This is a tradition I continue with my adult son, niece and nephew! We of course had to leave Christmas cookies for Santa, (my grandma always made 10 different kinds (, and a carrot for Rudolph. In the morning there were always a few crumbs on the plate and a stub of a carrot with teeth marks. We also found ash on the fireplace hearth from Santa’s boots!
Even as young children we knew that Christmas morning we couldn’t peek downstairs until our parents were up! My sister always slept in my room on Christmas eve (even when we were teenagers and barely spoke to each other (, like Snoopy and the Red Barron we always had a Christmas truce!
Once we finally got mother and Daddy awake the wait was not over! Picture three children in their Christmas PJ’s sitting at the top of the stairway waiting impatiently for our father. He’d make his way down to the living-room, turning on the Christmas tree lights, the Christmas music and the movie camera all the time reminding us not to come down yet! Once the wait was finally over, we’d rush downstairs and head for our stockings! Santa always brought us an orange, an apple, a new toothbrush and other treasures.
My brother was 7 years younger than me and even when he got older Santa and our traditions lived on in my family. To this day Kevin still receives packages from Santa and the same items in his stocking!
It is now only my sister and I but we still revel in our Christmas memories. Listen carefully on Christmas Eve and you might just hear Santa’s sleigh bells!
Submitted By Marian Haslerud
“Beer Bread is a quick bread to make to accompany any beef dish. The type of beer you use will change the taste.”
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
1. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Batter will be sticky. Pour into a 9 x 5-inch greased loaf pan.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees) for 50 or 60 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides will be soft. Serve topped with butter or cheese spread.
Officers and Board of Directors
President: Marian Haslerud, Minneapolis MN
Final term ending 2021 | (612) 206-5883
Vice president: Michael Malver
1st term ending 2022 | (612) 673-0664
Secretary: Janet Dickelman
1st term ending 2021 | (651) 428-5059
Treasurer: Patty Slaby, Arcadia, WI
1st term, ending 2022 | (715) 497-9849
Board Of Directors
Barb appleby, Maplewood MN
Final term ending 2022 | (651) 238-0015
Coleen Kitagawa, Richfield, MN
1st term ending in 2022 | (612) 964-2005
Catalina Martinez, Minneapolis, MN
1st term (one year) ending 2021 | (612) 227-3011
Nancy Schadegg, Richfield, MN
Final term ending 2022 | (612) 798-5178
Abby winters, Minneapolis, MN
1st term ending in 2021 | (320) 266-0233
ACBM Standing Committee Chairs
To reach any of our standing committees, see chair info below.
Membership: Nancy Schadegg (612) 798-5178
Budget: Patty Slaby (608) 323-3614
Advocacy: Michael Malver (612) 673-0664
Fundraising: Abby winters (320) 266-0233