HASTE REALLY DOES MAKE WASTE.

ImageI hate being rushed by others. It rattles me and I can’t think straight. I’ve lost many things and made many mistakes as a result of being urged to hurry by impatient people or because I felt afraid of being late. Worse yet, I’ve occasionally lost hand-made items that were gifts from friends.

During February of 1982, the bus drivers in Edmonton went on strike. Since I’m legally blind, I asked around at work for somebody to give me a ride there and home again. I had to get up an hour earlier to accommodate their schedule but I put up with the inconvenience. I knew the strike couldn’t last forever.

One afternoon as I was leaving work, I dropped one of my mittens that a church elder, who I call Sister Roberta, knitted for me. Because the wool was beige, I couldn’t see the mitt in all the slush.

“Hurry up,” my colleague called from her car. “We haven’t got all day.”

“I lost my glove,” I said as I scanned the area around the snowy parking lot where I stood.

“Never mind that. Just get over here.”

My second mistake happened when I was at church. As I took off a different pair of mitts and hung my coat on the coat tree, Sister Roberta asked, “Aren’t you wearing those mitts I made for you?”

“I lost one in the snow,” I admitted.

“Don’t you realize how much work I put into knitting those for you,” she exclaimed. “I worked so hard on those and you had to lose one. You should treat people’s gifts with more respect, young man.”

I apologized but Sister Roberta continued lecturing me about how ungrateful I had been. Her harangue ruined the joy I usually felt about those Bible studies.

This story wasn’t included in my newly published book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Even so, it shows how those folks, particularly Sister Roberta, treated me during the years I attended that house church. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book edition while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version. My two previous memoirs are available at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

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HAS IT REALLY BEEN TWENTY YEARS?

ImageWhat was your first exposure to computers like? Mine was rather intimidating and unimpressive. Our junior high math teacher tried to teach us a computer language in June of 1971. We were then allowed to write a program on a dumb terminal at the school. All it consisted of was a keyboard and a printer. No monitor showed us what we typed or gave us prompts. Unlike Bill Gates, it held no attractive possibilities out to me.

I played a video game on a friend’s computer ten years later. It used the TV as its monitor. That was mildly interesting but I couldn’t play the fast-moving games. I also bought a Vic 20 in 1984 from a friend. Apart from playing the games, I didn’t have much use for it.

When I used a program to determine what sort of work I was suited for in 1984 and 1987 at a work counseling place, the CRT monochrome monitor was a pain for me to read. I felt I’d never be able to use computers as I had such difficulty with them.

When I heard from somebody about the CNIB‘s screen readers for computers, I applied for a grant to receive one. Then I took an MS DOS and WordPerfect 5.1 course at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology  (NAIT). The school had one PC with a hardware voice synthesizer and a program called Vert Plus. It made using the computer easy for me.

In January of 1993, the CNIB awarded me a screen reader. I paid a quarter of its price while the institute paid for the rest. The next month, I proudly set up my IBM clone 386SX PC. Since I didn’t know how to install the screen reader, a friend came over one afternoon in April.

Thanks to the previous year’s training course, I soon wrote my own letters on the computer and printed them out on the dot matrix printer. I only had an amber monochrome monitor at the time but it helped me see if my paragraphs were indented properly. For the first time in my life, I had a computer that I could actually use.

When I look back at those days, I chuckle at how I felt so proud of that simple PC. It had only a hundred megabyte hard drive, two megs of memory, and lacked a CD drive. Even so, I used it until the autumn of 2005 when its motherboard died. For a second hand computer that I bought for $700, I certainly got my money’s worth out of it.

This might surprise you but I wrote my first two books on that old PC. You can check them out at the Bruce Atchison’s books page. Meanwhile, I have a new book just published called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book edition while Virtual bookworm handles the paperback version.

THE BLAME GAME.

ImageNobody needs to teach children how to blame others. It comes naturally. The first two humans started it and we’ve kept up the tradition. As Genesis 3:9 to 13 says, ”   And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?’ And the man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’ And the LORD God said unto the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent misled me, and I did eat.’

When I was a child, my sister and I blamed an invisible man for anything that we did wrong. Mr. Nobody, as we called him, was the one we blamed for the missing cookies. If Mom found something broken, Mr. Nobody did it. If something was written on the wall in crayon, it was obvious to us that Mr Nobody wrote it.

Later on in life, I rationalized my misdemeanors with the excuse that I deserved to have fun or treats. I shoplifted cake sprinkles because I figured the store would never miss them. I took a letter puzzle board from a friend’s home because I wanted to play with it more. Later on, I sneakily dropped it behind a bed so that the parents would think it merely was misplaced. I smashed some windows in a shed because some were already broken. It seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime to get in some fun and take out my frustrations against the school for the blind. In junior high, I followed the lead of other boys by grabbing packets of crackers out of a vending machine rather than paying for them.

As an adult, I yeilded to temptation and rationalized my wickedness away. I bought a CB radio with additional channels and spoke to others on frequencies not assigned to the General Radio Service. I also spoke to people thousands of miles away when atmospheric conditions were right, even though the CB was only meant for local communications. I thought the rules were petty and that nobody would mind as everybody was doing it. I learned later that radio frequencies are rented out to businesses. They have to pay a fee each year to retain their usage of them. Not only did I trespass on these companies frequencies but I disobeyed the government’s rule about local communications for CB operators.

A dozen years ago, I used to cut across railway land to get to town. Even though there were no signs, I felt convicted about this trespassing that I did. I read in The Railway Act that nobody without a valid reason to be on railway land could cross it except at designated crossing points. Apart from one time when I needed to go to the bathroom badly, I never trespassed again on that strip of land.

Though I got away with some of my illegal and immoral activities, they didn’t escape God’s notice. A time will come when everybody will have to account for what they did in this life. Since I asked the Lord for forgiveness for all my wrongdoings, I’m grateful to Jesus Christ for taking the punishment meant for me on the cross.

In How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, I wrote about how the heavenly Father guided me out of darkness and into the marvelous light of his truth. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book edition while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version. My previous memoirs are at the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

A SPECIAL SPOT IN A TERRIBLE PLACE.

ImageThis might not look like much but below these houses was a special place that I retreated to. The landscapers hadn’t yet turned this boy’s paradise into a manicured lawn for sighted adults to admire by the spring of 1970. Being exiled to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind for months at a time, I needed a place where I could get some relief from uncaring supervisors, teasing dorm mates, and the school bully.

In this wild place, I let my imagination roam. I was the hero of imaginary battles or an explorer of distant lands. Sometimes I’d just admire the broom plants and enjoy the rare periods of good weather. I also gazed at the mountains that stood between me and my home in Alberta, yearning for release from what I considered a prison camp for disabled children.

I also took my transistor radio there. Listening to my favourite rock music stations soothed my frayed nerves and gave me respite from the misery of dorm life.

All was not perfect with my paradise. After visiting a local convenience store, I retreated to the bolder that I habitually sat on and began eating my pastry.

“What are you doing there, Bruce,” a boy named Steve asked as he stopped the bike he rode.

“I’m having a picnic,” I announced.

“What a stupid picnic,” he sneered and then rode away.

I sighed, wishing people would just leave me alone.

Occasionally, I’d find liquor bottles and other litter there. The best find of all was an old radio. I took it to the dorm and dismantled it. Electronics fascinated me. I often fantasized that I’d be a radio and TV repair man when I grew up. Taking apart that old radio served to fuel my dream. It never did come to pass as my vision proved to be too poor for that line of work.

In my Deliverance from Jericho memoir, I wrote often about how I sought solace in solitude. Visit Bruce Atchison’s books to read more about it and my debut memoir, When a Man Loves a Rabbit. My most recent book, How I Was Razed, is distributed by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual bookworm.

THE ADULTS JUST COULDN’T UNDERSTAND

ImageChildren need to be home with their families, no matter how disfunctional they are. This is the conclusion I’ve come to after examining my time at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. Though I was safe from my father’s verbal tirades and threats, I felt a strong attachment to the place where I began life.

From Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is an excerpt showing my alliegence to my less-than-perfect family.

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Meanwhile, the school contacted a psychologist regarding my behaviour on the plane after Christmas. In the middle of class one day, Mrs. Corrigan knocked on the door and asked Miss Vize to send me to her office. Then she left me alone with the doctor, a grey-haired man in a grey suit.

After initially introducing himself, he asked me how I liked the school and about my home life. “This place is a jail,” I complained. “I wish I could stay home. The kids tease me and I miss my sister Diane”.

“You said that your dad threatens you sometimes. Isn’t it safer for you here?” I tried to explain how, in spite of the family conflict, I yearned to be back where I belonged but I lacked the words to convince him.

“Why aren’t you happy here?” the psychologist continued. “Don’t you realize all the hard work the school has done to educate and take care of you.” I sighed, remembering the same wearisome lecture from my parents and other adults.

The session ended after a half hour. Neither one of us seemed to understand each other. I left the room feeling like one of those criminals on television which the police interrogate down at the station. I never heard what became of the doctor and his diagnosis of my breakdown.

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Deliverance from Jericho is the second of three memoirs that I’ve published. Visit Bruce Atchison’s books to learn more about my writing. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is my most recent book. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book edition while Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version.

MISCHIEF IN THE BOYS ROOM.

ImageThe president of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Dr. Richard Land, told listeners to his Richard Land Live show once about what his father used to say.  According to him, a boy plus another boy equals half a boy. Add another and you get a third of a boy. He meant that the more boys there were in one place, the more immature they behaved. One of the first articles I sold concerned some mischief that my friend Daryl and I got into in grade one.

Before going home for lunch one sunlit day in February, I decided to give my hands a good scrubbing in the boys room. Instead of just turning on the tap and rinsing them, I put the plug in and filled the sink. After I finished, I pulled the plug and then dried my hands on a paper towel.

The sink suddenly made a loud squeaky, slurping  noise. Daryl and I staggered around the room, laughing uncontrollably at the sound.

“Let’s do that again,” I exclaimed as I ran to the row of sinks. When I pulled the plug after filling the basin, we eagerly waited for the sound. We staggered around the room again as the sink squealed and gurgled.

Daryl and I repeatedly filled and emptied sinks for at least ten minutes. Then I had a brilliant idea. “Hey, Daryl, let’s fill the sinks and pull all the plugs at once.” The two of us eagerly filled the sinks to the brim.

“All right, Daryl,” I announced, “one, two, three, pull!”

We held our breaths as we waited for the water to drain. Suddenly, the boys room was filled with a quartet of squealy slurps. Both of us laughed harder than ever at the hilarious noises that the sinks made.

Then our grade one teacher spoiled the fun. She heard our merriment and bustled into the bathroom. After escorting us to the principal’s office, she called our parents to come and take us home. I don’t know how Daryl’s parents felt but mine were definitely upset. I sulked in the back seat of Dad’s Volkswagen as we drove home, convinced that my parents didn’t understand about my exciting discovery.

In 1964, my parents sent me to a school for the blind in Vancouver, British Columbia. Instead of going home each day, I had to wait until Christmas or summer holidays to return to my family. I wrote about those painful years in Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). It and my debut memoir, When A Man Loves a Rabbit, are available at the Bruce Atchison’s books link. My newly-published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity testimony is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

THE RABBIT WHO INSPIRED A BOOK.

ImageThousands of books have been written about dogs and cats but how many were inspired by pet rabbits? As far as I know, not many were. Because of this shortage of bunny stories, I wrote When A Man Loves a Rabbit )Learning and Living With Bunnies).

Gideon, pictured here hurling socks between his legs, was the first rabbit that I adopted after I heard about keeping bunnies in the house like a cat or dog. He certainly lived up to his name. Like a fur-clad Dennis the Menace, he got into everything he could find.

As the years passed, I learned so much about Gideon’s kind. One of these facts is that bunnies can be litter trained. They have a natural instinct that forbids them from fowling their warrens. Rabbits also like to eat as they do their business. Placing hay in one end of the litter encouraged Gideon to use the plastic, rectangular pan that I bought from a pet store.

Rabbits are quite affectionate as well. Gideon loved to lick my hair when I had it cut short. He also loved to be petted. When he felt exceptionally happy, he made a sort of tooth-grinding noise to show his delight. As I searched for freelance work with my computer on the Internet, Gideon often kept me company. I’d often look down to see him loafing next to my desk or underneath it.

Gideon also loved  to run what my rabbit-loving friends called the Bunny 500. As I worked on the computer in the mornings, he ran back and forth in the hallway. I could tell that he was having a ball because he didn’t look frightened. Sometimes he would jump up in the air and turn around, landing facing the opposite direction. We bunny folks called that a binky. His playfulness always cheered me up.

My fur-clad lad also loved to hurl rolled-up socks between his legs. I would often pile old socks under the desk in my bedroom and Gideon dug them out. Then he’d spread his front paws apart and push the pile away from the desk. This game helped him get his urge to dig out of his system. He also enjoyed shredding newspaper and chewing up cardboard boxes.

Inevitably, Gideon developed cataracts and a prolapsed rectum. The time came when I had to make the painful choice to euthanize my beloved fur sir. February 16th was a sad day for me. I loved Gideon so much and knowing that he was in pain broke my heart. The church friend who took me to the vet’s also buried my fur sir’s body in her yard next to her dog who also had passed away recently.

When a Man Loves a Rabbit is available at the Bruce Atchison’s books page, along with my Deliverance from Jericho memoir. My most recent book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.