’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

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December 2011
“’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” Well, no wonder! We’re all exhausted from the shopping and wrapping and decorating and baking that we’ve been doing for weeks just so we can relax and enjoy the spiritual side of Christmas with our friends and family sharing our love. But follow that with all the end-of-year preparation, then New Year’s Resolutions, then tax season, Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s Day.

STOP. Our days seem busier and busier. The Beacon this quarter hopes to offer you some relief throughout your “days.”

Dawn. Bright and early. Sunshine from our new president, Peggy Garrett.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving. I’m sure that like me, most of you enjoyed all of the wonderful food and fellowship that are a part of the holiday and are now trying to work off those extra calories. But with Christmas only a few days away, we might as well continue enjoying the season and not worry about it until the New Year!

First, I want to thank Dr. Ed Bradley for serving the Houston Council of the Blind as President for the past three years. Doc, your dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated. As Immediate Past President and a member of the HCB Board, we will still count on your knowledge and experience to help our organization to grow and achieve additional goals.
Second, I want to thank the HCB members for electing me to serve as your President. Since moving to Houston and joining HCB, I have served as both First Vice President and Second Vice President as well as serving on and chairing several committees. I have had the opportunity to work with many of you, but there are many of you who I have not had the opportunity to meet yet. As President, I hope to meet each of you in the upcoming year.
Third, please know that as President I will serve our organization to the best of my ability.

Remember that the President is only one member and I will be depending on each of you to help HCB to continue to grow, become more visible in the community, expand our resources, and increase member participation. It will take each member contributing their time, talents, and abilities to make the difference.

Again, thank you for your vote of confidence in electing me. I look forward to working with each of you as we strive to enhance the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Peggy R. Garrett

9 a.m. or 11 a.m. or 3:45 p.m. or 2:15 a.m.­ When do you surf the Internet? For personal stories, link to services, home design tips, tools for helping with everyday activities, this resource came recommended: www.afb.org/seniorsite

Don’t forget about our all-time favorite site:


For everything from gifts (“talking” shirts), everyday items (Braille paper), or necessities (talking watches), you get great selection and great deals from Blind Mice Mart.

Early Afternoon ­put your feet up and get to know Michael Garrett. Born in Fort Worth, Michael attended Carroll Peak Elementary School before going to the Texas Blind Deaf & Orphan School (BD&O) in 1960. In 1965, the schools integrated and moved to the Texas School for the Blind (TSB). There Michael graduated in 1969 as valedictorian of his class. In 1973, he received a BBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Finance and began a 27-year career at Texas Commerce Bank (later to become JPMorgan Chase). Michael and his high school sweetheart, Carolyn, were married for 28 years before her untimely death in 1998. Carolyn and Michael had three daughters. Peggy and Michael have been married for five years and together have five children, 10 2/3 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

People might be surprised to know that I am extremely shy.

On what magazine would you like to be featured on the cover?

I’d like to appear on the cover of Fortune Magazine.

What would you brag about yourself?

I’m a pretty good domino player; I may not win all of the time, but you won’t beat me easily.

What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie of all time is “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is a toss-up between fried chicken and French fries or red beans and hot water cornbread.

What is your favorite song?

My favorite song is “My Girl” by the Temptations.

What is your favorite hymn?

My favorite hymn is “Blessed Assurance.”

Do you play a musical instrument?

I play the trumpet.

Have you ever met a celebrity?

I used to get press box tickets to UT games from Darrell Royal and I once met Earl Campbell.

What’s the last book you read?

The last book I read was “The Help.”

Do you collect anything?

I collect big pencils and pennants from every NFL city I go to.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

My most embarrassing moment was playing a solo on the trumpet that sounded terrible.

What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

I’d have to say that the most daring thing I’ve ever done is walk on the outer stairs of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant.

Why do you belong to HCB?

I belong to HCB because my life has been blessed and if I can, in some way, help another blind or visually impaired person (or anyone else), that just means I'm trying to pass on the blessings.
It must be 5 o’clock somewhere. Whether it’s tea time or the cocktail hour, having something for drop-in guests (or even invited ones) that takes a minute but looks like a Top Chef special is a lifesaver. Here are a few that can be sitting in your pantry or refrigerator, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.

An 8-ounce block of cream cheese is the basis for a quick cracker spread. Place the cream cheese on a plate and let come to room temperature or close to it. Top with Pickapeppa Sauce, Candy Krisp Jalapenos, Jalapeno Jelly, or Cranberry Pepper Jelly. Serve with any cracker from Ritz to sumpin’ fancy.


Add ½ cup chunky salsa to 8 ounces of cream cheese and mix thoroughly. If you have whipped cream cheese, it’s real easy; if you have regular cream cheese, I recommend whipping it a bit.

Serve with tortilla chips, Fritos, or crackers.

Finely chop chocolate chips (in a blender or even a nut grinder) and add approximately ½ cup to a cup of sour cream. Mix thoroughly. Serve over chocolate or coffee-flavored ice cream.


Have plain or vanilla yogurt on hand. You can add a tablespoon or two of honey or strawberry jam or orange marmalade and mix thoroughly. Great with apple slices, banana chunks, pear slices, strawberries.


This one takes a little more time but you can plan ahead a bit.

2 pounds unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

¼ stick unsalted butter, melted

3 T. finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spread out peanuts in an even layer. Toast in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add hot peanuts to bowl and toss with butter-herb mixture until thoroughly coated.
Date Night! Sight Into Sound (formally called Taping For The Blind) has audio description for some delightful upcoming events. Keep this schedule handy!

December 11

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

A.D. Players

Sunday, 2:00 p.m.
December 18

White Christmas

January 12

The Addams Family

Broadway Across America (Hobby)

Thursday 7:30 p.m.

January 14

The Toxic Avenger

Alley Theatre

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

February 5

Bring It On

March 1

Million Dollar Quartet

Broadway Across America (Hobby)

Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

March 3


Alley Theatre

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

Sunset. The warm glow stays with us always. From outgoing HCB president, Ed “Doc” Bradley­ I want all to know that I have enjoyed and am very proud to have served as your President for the last 3 years. It has been an honor to serve and I also have learned a lot about you, the members. It has been 3 years but they have passed so fast it does not feel like 3 years have gone by. I want you to keep on supporting our Houston Council of the Blind with your time and do what you can to continue making HCB grow and be a force in the city of Houston. Now I want to get on my soap box. I want all of you to wake up and then show up at meetings and projects. I also want you to stand up for the blind and never shut up about what is best for us. So you need to remember to wake up, get up, stand up, show up, make up, don’t give up, look up, and make sure that you grow up to be somebody that is working for the visually impaired and blind of Houston and for Texas. Remember to back up your newly elected Board.

Have a joyous and wonderful Holiday season.

Ed “Doc” Bradley
Midnight snack­ Blue Bell has outdone themselves for the holiday season. Peppermint Ice Cream has been joined by Spiced Pumpkin Pecan, Banana Bread, and Christmas Cookies (chocolate chip, snicker doodles, and sugar cookies combined in a sugar cookie ice cream with red candy cane-shaped sprinkles and a green icing swirl throughout).

(Don’t think about New Year’s resolutions just yet!)

At bedtime prayers, remember our friends with thankfulness. We lost a charter member of Houston Council of the Blind and a dear friend on August 20 when Peggy Copeland died. Peggy was an outstanding member, quick to recognize a need whether it was driving, reading, or taking time for a cheerful chat. She served as treasurer for several of the earlier years. In later years, she lost most of her vision and enjoyed the services of the Talking Book Program as many of us do. All members of the blind community benefit from her contributions. We miss her and are grateful for her willing spirit.
Last Minute Don’t forget to pay your 2012 dues (HCB, ACBT, and ACB inclusive). Plus we need your support for our fundraisers throughout the year.

And a belated THANK YOU to Anita Guevara. She has always participated in the personal fundraiser by collecting and selling recycled goods like aluminum cans and usually contributes the most of all participants. This year she took President Bradley’s challenge to heart and she topped his efforts from selling aloe vera plants! I say it over and over and I will keep saying it: A personal fundraiser shouldn’t be a major project.

No one is expecting you to raise $1000 each. But just $10 from each and every member would fund a scholarship. And wouldn’t that just make someone’s day!
JUST ONE MORE SECOND OUT OF YOUR DAY, PLEASE! The Beacon has been blessed with input from HCB members and other recipients from the very first, when Ronnie Bruns provided our apt name for the newsletter. But I don’t hear much from you anymore. PLEASE, let me know what books you’re enjoying, what websites are accessible, what Christmas gift makes your life easier. This is a handy place to share the things that make our lives beacons for others. Thank you!

December 4, 1 p.m. – HCB Christmas party, Lighthouse

Bring a dessert if you can!

January 8, February 5, March 4­HCB meetings, 2 p.m.

February 5 – Super Bowl Sunday or Chip, Dip, and Wing Day February 14 – Remember your sweetie on Valentine’s Day! And if you don’t have a sweetie, treat yourself!
A BEACON TO GUIDE YOU – Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it.

You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back. –Harvey MacKay

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