Who? Us?

We are two disabled, oldish women who have been adventuring through life for years. We are talking about how disabilities, both visible and not, change the way we enjoy our retirement.

Friday, July 31, 2015

It's a Wedding!

There's gonna be a wedding today here at our house. And we are thrilled. 


Betcha didn’t know that Donna has been ordained as a minister and therefore is officially capable of officially marrying people.  Because of that, two friends of many years are traveling from Texas to Mountain View so Donna can officiate at their wedding. 

Together over 40 years, our friends are marrying finally because (remember) we are now real citizens with real equal rights under the Constitution of the United States.

The weather has finally gotten a bit cooler, so we will have the wedding outside near the pond.  I have built several ponds specifically for weddings in the past and told owners that they must be careful because nervous young brides and bridesmaids can have a bit of a need to use the bathroom the minute they hear the waterfall. And that can’t happen as they are lined up to meet the bride. 

The waterfall with water lilites

I rather doubt that will happen with our seasoned and comfortable couple tonight.  

They are writing vows now. I will be the photographer during the ceremony.  I’m excited. With their permission, I shall post photos soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wallowing Today

I rarely feel sorry that I no longer walk or do things that require legs.  Once in awhile I miss things I did without thinking when I was younger.   Now is one of those times.  We have houseguests arriving for a few days and everyone wants to go kayaking on the Buffalo River in Arkansas. So do I. 

Donna kayaking
But I can’t.

I grew up steps from a fantastic lake, Spring Lake, in Spring Lake, Michigan. It ran into the Grand River and then into Lake Michigan. The entire trip was less than ½ hour if you were going slow. I was as familiar with those waterways as I was with my backyard.  I was allowed to be out in a rowboat or a sailboat as soon as I could swim. We kids in the neighborhood lived in or on the water in summer and skated on it in the winter. I could not imagine not having water to play in or on.

Not ever.

After moving to New Orleans, I had an entire huge brackish water lake to play on. The infamous 13’ deep Lake Pontchartrain was always available and I sailed on it as often as I could. If I wanted to drive half an hour, I could be  playing in the Mississippi Sound in the Gulf of Mexico.  Boating and swimming have always been part of my life.

Water moves, Donna maneuvers through it

Friend kayaks

So, my friends are going to play on the Buffalo River. And I’m not.

So I am wallowing in self pity today. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grand Canyon Scootering

Scootering Travels Continue

While we were down near the four corners where Colorado, Utah,New Mexico and Arizona meet, of course, we had to see the Grand Canyon, that huge hole in the ground we love so much in this country.  Both of us are amateur photographers and scootering does not stop me from using a camera.  It does preclude lying on the ground to take a pic or climbing a tree to get a better composition, but with the Grand Canyon, there’s really no such thing as a bad photo.

I can’t hike to the bottom again, nor can I ride a burro. Thankfully I have done those things 40ish years ago, so do not need to repeat it. Especially the burro ride. That was one harrowing experience. How did that burro know where to put its feet to not fall off? Has one ever fallen off? How about if anyone ever fell off a burro?  He stayed put, but the rider went tumbling off into the abyss.

The scooter is limiting as far as leaving the rim trail with all the other tourists. And they get in the way. Or stand in the way and do not move. They cluster up in groups and talk about what they are having for dinner and where. Or they try to get the entire family in the same photo overlooking the canyon with no one falling over.  That takes a very long time and I and my scooter become invisible.Don’t even start to tell me, I should say, ‘Excuse me, may I get by,” because many of the visitors do not speak English. Waving my arms just alarms our them: They might flee in alarm, but then they see me as some sort of deranged scooter rider, or maybe they do already.

The North Rim is equally beautiful, but there were miles to go on that trip to Oregon, so driving around the canyon was not feasible this time.

****Blogger is refusing to load photos this morning. I will check back later this PM.

But I had a great time.*****

Oh, and wrote the cutlines already, so I will just leave them there until I can get pics up here.

Jan, relaxing on her scooter

But is there a grander hole in the ground anywhere else? 

Finally at 4:40pm Blogger allowed me to upload photos. Enjoy if you are still reading.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Invisible Ones: KnowThy History

So this isn't my first rodeo.   
I didn't connect the dots at first.  Not until the md who diagnosed my Chronic Fatigue (CFS), Fibromyalgia (Fibro), etc., etc.,  mentioned that "most people who develop these... had a history of thyroid problems."

I didn't know, in the late 1980's, that my bout with Grave's Disease (hyperthyroidism) was a portent of things to come.

I knew something was up when my family lived in Berlin, Ger.  With my ex stationed at Templehof AFB and me working for the US Army, the two of us and our three boys were doing the best we could to make a life there.  Now, Berlin is cold, damned cold in the winter months with the sun not reaching its apex for almost four months.  In spite of that, I'd get over-heated quickly, sweated walking to and from work in my faux-fur-lined boots or inside sitting at my desk.  I was getting very tired but didn't sleep well.  My anxiety was ratcheting up and up. My arms and hands trembled sometimes.

But I pawned all this off to the hypervigilance we had to maintain.  It was Kadafi and the Red Army Faction then, blowing up Americans (and others, collaterally) in Europe.  The Armed Forces Network (AFN) repeatedly cautioned adults and children to be on the lookout for "strangers" and "strange objects".  We were directed to check under our vehicles each morning - before keying the ignition.  "Officer Friendly", with his big grin, told the kiddies to go tell their mom or dad if they found an "unknown object" on the playground.  

There were bomb threats at the boy's schools.  Soon machine-gun mounted-armed-troops escorted their school buses to and from home and school.  The army built a 12 foot high, razor-wire topped fence around our shopping area and the kids rec center.  The police blotter I received every morning as part of my job, reported all the un-exploded bombs found in our neck of the woods - as well as the misbehavior of American civilians with whom I worked.   

Then there was Chernobyl.  

The spring of 1986 was gorgeous.  Longer and longer cool, sunny days and shorter and shorter, cooler nights.  We were all outside as much as possible.  The kids had their soccer teams and I played catcher for a women's softball team.  We didn't know until over a month after it happened - as the radiation had laid over us day after day like an invisible blanket.  The powers that be told us not to wo, rry, just shower or bathe "thoroughly" every evening and "don't let your kids play out in the rain... or in rain puddles... or, pick the mushrooms in the fall (a yearly event for all).  The folks in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden could not eat the reindeer, nor could the Brits, their mutton.  But... the radiation would have no long term effects, "they" told us.

Well, none of us glow in the dark. Yet.  But exposure to radiation is noted as a possible cause of thyroid problems.  And stress is, too. Those four years in Germany, alone, had produced enough stress to weaken anyone's immune system.  And stress is a known cause of autoimmune conditions.  

Those Invisible Ones.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Donna Speaks: The Invisible Ones. What Next

The Invisible Ones: What's Next?

OK.  So I get a diagnosis (diagnoses, to be exact) from my md; I've got antibodies for some of those auto-immune thing-a-ma-jigs.  Like Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Scleroderma, Sjogren's, etc.
I think, "Thank goodness... I'm NOT crazy after all." and, "Well, my life need not change so much."  Anyway, only a couple are "active": only the Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are giving me real problems.  The rest are just hiding in my body, waiting to display their ugliness on some future unknown day.  Those, I am sure, I can totally ignore.

In fact, I decide, I'm gonna ignore all of them.  I've always worked like hell and, by-golly-gosh, I'll continue to do so.  I'm not gonna like this crap get me down.

And, I do just that.

I set up physical therapy threes times a week and earnestly apply myself.  My massage therapist comes twice a week. I continue working at my same pace with my psychotherapy clients.  I do my meetings, my gardening, my weed-eating, my swimming, going on outings with my partner, playing with my dog, etc.   

I concede to take Cymbalta.  I know about antidepressants and this one's "off-label" use for fibromyalgia pain.  The self-administered B-12 shots are also ok to kick my butt outta the fatigue and 12+ hours of sleep. I do some natural remedies when I have a flare-up, e.g., echinacea. 

Then my md has the audacity to prescribe an anti-viral: Acyclovir.  Whoa!  That's what folks with HIV/AIDS and Hep-C take.  That's heavy duty stuff.  I balk at this and take it a while, then quit.
A couple of months into this routine, I am feeling worse. I hurt all over.  

I am so tired and need so much sleep, I have to cancel appointments on occasion. Sometimes my muscles are so weak, I'm not sure if I can, like I hear people say, put one foot in front of the other.

I realize I am trying to make my invisible "conditions", invisible.  I am The Queen of Denial.  Yea, baby, I've got it down pat.  Not to worry about other people not realizing I'm "ill" because I have no crutches, no wheel chair, no scooter, no oxygen tank.  I'm not accepting the facts of my life myself.

That's what comes next: Denial.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

ADA anniversary Today

Have we gotten very far?  Well, Aunt Gracie is no longer confined to the attic, at least I hope not.  Special education is offering much more inclusion and services, yet they are by no means perfect. We no longer have warehouses for the physically, emotionally or psychology disabled, but presently we offer no real treatment for most unless you have access to very expensive private services. As far as mobility goes, we have handicapped parking places although not many pay much attention to them. We have curb cuts - sometimes. Many public buildings are accessible, sort of. There might be a ramp or an elevator to get to the second floor, not what you think of when you think elevator, but rather one of those lifts that takes you up the steps using the railing. You’ve seen ads for them on TV. Scary things those. Just try to get a scooter on one.

President Obama speaks as we mark the 25 anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act today, Sunday, 26 July 2015

.“….Obama spoke Monday before a packed house in the East Room of the White House about the impact of the ADA at an event just days ahead of the law’s 25th anniversary, which will occur Sunday.
‘Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life — schools, workplaces, movie theaters, courthouses, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks — they truly belong to everyone,” the president told the crowd, which included former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, former U.S. Rep. Tony Coelho and other leaders responsible for making the ADA a reality.
Despite the progress, however, Obama said more work is needed to ensure equality, specifically in regard to areas like employment where people with disabilities continue to lag.
“Now, days like today are a celebration of our history. But they’re also a chance to rededicate ourselves to the future — to address the injustices that still linger, to remove the barriers that remain,” Obama said. “We all know too many people with disabilities are still unemployed — even though they can work, even though they want to work, even though they have so much to contribute.’
The president committed to continue working on disability rights for the duration of his time in office and beyond.
In addition to the White House ceremony Monday, events honoring the anniversary of the civil rights law are planned this week at a variety of government agencies in the nation’s capital and at the Smithsonian Institution.”

Thank you, Mr. President, but kick some ass will you? We have so far to go.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chronic Fatigue Affects the Entire Household

Living with Someone Who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

It’s interesting, to say the least, to live with a person who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Oh, and by the way, it’s usually accompanied by Fibromyalgia and often other auto-immune system problems.

The syndrome is properly named. The person with Chronic Fatigue is tired all the time. Not just the tired you are after running a marathon or climbing Mt Everest, but the fatigue that is so disabling that getting out of bed is a major undertaking. 

Someone with Chronic Fatigue needs 12 to 18 hours of sleep every day. And just powering through it is not possible. So, to bed by 10p, sleep until noon, take a nap at 3 until 7p and then up for 3 hours maybe.  And that’s on a good day.

I feel so sorry for Donna. She is a doer and has been all of her life. Just think, she started grad school in Social Work in her 40s, did her internship and started a successful private practice when she was almost 50.  She continued practicing even after her symptoms appeared, scheduling her clients for her awake times. 

She did what she did in chronic pain from the fibromyalgia.  It was painful to watch her apply various topical ointments to joints so she could sit or stand without collapsing.  All the while not complaining.

These syndromes were kickstarted after Hurricane Katrina decided to blow our house down. That story one of these days.

Chronic Fatigue and Fibro are cyclical, so Donna is her old self once in awhile. She gets more done in one day then than most people do in a week. I stand in awe of her accomplishments.  

Soon, you will hear directly from her of her daily difficulties, but she is in a down cycle right now, needing as much sleep as she can get.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What's different?

I have been mobility impaired for about 8 years now.  Sure things are different, but really not all that much.  I don’t go to movies, but then again, I really didn’t before either, so I’m not missing much. But the reviews of new movies, I am not missing much.
I miss walking the trails of the parks and natural spaces more than anything.  There are few that are accessible. I suppose that is how it has to be. As soon as we build or pave trails, we are no longer enjoying a wild space.  Might as well scooter along on a sidewalk in a city. Although even accessible trails are very nice. Not as good as walking with a hiking stick and a camera, but nice nonetheless.

Another thing: All work is slower.  I mean all of it.  From cooking to dishes, from building a trellis, planting veggies, picking them or patching a roof, they take days instead of hours.  Even raking the yard or turning the compost happens less often and takes longer.

Used to be standards that were so high that it was difficult to maintain them have been lowered. Now there is “That’s fine,” or “Good enough for government work.”  But I wonder how much of that is inability to walk and how much is just plain being old. I know 70 is the new 60, but in this house, not so much.

Thankfully, our wild 6 acres offer all the wildness we wish for. Growing over the pond and in the forest, even overhanging the driveway are dogwoods

And bluebirds eating the dogwood berries.

Who could really want any more than this?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

In My Own Backyard

My scooter sits right outside the back door in a little cubby built just for it. The cubby has a roof to keep it dry and an electric outlet to plug it in at night. 

All I have to do is get to the back door, into the seat of the scooter, back up, then drive down the ramp and travel the paths of our 6 acres. Granted I can’t get up and down the ravine to the creek, but I am so happy with my at home travels. We are in the process of building a switchback so I can get to the creek, but that's slow going, as you can imagine. 

Can’t get up this grade, but that’s OK.

The deck you see has a ramp up to it and down the other side. The back door is where the scooter lives during the night and when it’s raining.

I can get to the veggie gardens

I garden in raised beds. These are straw bales when they were installed in February.  Now they are filled with tomatoes, peppers, okra and green beans. 

I also have a flower garden that I can see directly from the living room.  Donna loves  gardening as much as I do. She is in charge of the flower gardens.

So, you can see that we who are mobility ‘challenged’ live our lives just about like you do.  Sure we are not over four feet tall, but we travel fast and are not all that disadvantaged.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scootering Around

We are travelers. We have been travelers for over 50 years separately and together.  My first years of travel and probably where the fire was started was with my parents in Michigan.  When my dad got his week long vacation (later 2 weeks) from the factory, we went camping somewhere. We often drove around Lake Michigan and went sightseeing in the Upper Peninsula, around to Wisconsin, back south and around the bottom of the lake and back home to Spring Lake Michigan.

After finishing school way back in 1969, it wasn’t long before I didn’t let work get in the way of my travel addiction.

I bummed around in Europe as often as I could. I set out to see every state in the US, at least the contiguous ones. My travel continued when my mobility became a problem.  After all, when would I let a lack of mobility keep me from traveling?

Our first long road trip with me not walking was in 2009.  We started from New Orleans on a trip to see friends in Oregon and Washington. 
Of course, we stopped at Zion, Arches, Bryce and Grand Canyon on the way.  One great thing about being on a scooter is that you see things from a different angle without getting on your hands and knees.

Arches had an amazing number of off road trails that my scooter could navigate. Some of them were not marked, but still pretty easy to ride on.  As well as the National Parks do, there is a long ways to go to accommodate the disabled traveler. Most of the visitor centers are fitted out with accessible bathrooms and entries, but seeing the films and the brochures way up on the counters can be tough. We find it’s easiest just to not avail ourselves of that service as much as we might want to.

The gift shops are so hard to navigate, it’s mostly easier just to avoid them. Stop stuffing so many t-shirts in there, people.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Adventures on my Scooter

Here’s my scooter.  It’s an electric machine, so it makes no noise and can scare the pants off someone as it sneaks up on them. I have to plug it in every night, so it will be charged and ready to use when I head for the garden every morning.  When I am outside in the garden or yard, my trusty Victory Pride Scooter acts like a dirt bike and carries me over rough terrain, on a slant occasionally, over tree roots and most important up and down the rows of my raised bed veggie gardens.  

Because it has hard tires, not inflated ones, the ride is more than a bit bumpy, but I’d rather a bumpy ride than flat tires to have to change. 

As a long time motorcycle rider, it’s quite the comedown in transportation, but when you think about it, my bike could never have gotten me around to pick the peas and tomatoes.

 It takes me most places I want to go and rides on a lift attached to my car.  I ride it onto the lift, turn the key on the lift and the scooter goes up in the air and rides about bumper height.  It gets pretty dusty, but that’s one of the prices one pays to get around.

Works great at the grocery store if the aisles are wide enough. It goes down all the handicapped trails in National or State Parks. I know that because I have been in them.  Biggest problems:  Not enough handicapped trails available.

My scooter has limitations, of course.  It can’t handle a steep hill, for instance, so don’t go downhill off road unless you want to push that scooter back up the hill.  It will climb a steeper grade on a road or hard surface.  It isn’t really a dirt bike.

My scooter won’t go on the beach. It sinks in the sand. They all do without balloon tires like you see on dune buggies. I check out getting them, but the price is prohibitive and those tires won’t do much better on hills where I am most. 

I took this photo at Nye Beach www.nyebeach.org/ near Newport Oregon

 because my scooter wouldn’t go down the trail to the beach. Or back up for that matter.  My friends enjoyed the beach. I enjoyed the view.

I would love to have a vehicle that could handle all terrain and I am sure such a vehicle could be built. But my budget would never let that vehicle park in my driveway.  And Medicare says, ‘Uh uh’. Oh well. My scooter is the best I can do and I love it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Outsider No More.

Do you know what it's like living your life as an outsider?  Often hated out loud by institutions that call themselves religious, but preach hatred and exclusion.  
  • I marched in the 1963 Civil Rights protest in Washington DC because I believed in the United States Constitution.
  • I participated in the Detroit riots on 12th Street in 1967 because I believed in the United States Constitution.
  • I was hosed during the Democratic Convention 1968 in Chicago because I believed in the United States Constitution.
I was not alone. Thousands of citizens who were disenfranchised or segregated or just not recognized as existing marched. We were called 'Nigger', 'Spic', 'Greaser', 'Wop.' 'Kike', 'Faggot', 'Diesel Dyke', 'Aggressive Castrating Bitch', 'Too Big for our Britches', and much worse, but we continued.

We were beaten, some were killed. We were arrested and jailed.  Local government officials and police stood in the streets and clubbed us with billy clubs. And those officials were applauded, cheered and they swore we defectives would never grace their facilities. 
I was one person out of many thousands.  Slowly the barriers disappeared or started to disappear.  Inclusion was slow, so very slow.
We wrote and printed underground newspapers and surreptitiously distributed them on campuses all over the country. We held women's consciousness raising groups in basements, in kitchens, in bars, wherever we could so women finally realized they were people in and of themselves and did not have to submit to anyone or get approval from anyone else to be a self actualized human being.
Women have broken the glass ceilings imposed by corporations.  Minorities are being freely elected to government positions. Segregation is officially a thing of the past. (Unofficially, we have a long way to go.) Homosexuals can serve their country, again officially.
And on Monday, 21 January, 2013, I was officially recognized by the president of the United States, who said, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
For the first time ever, I am a part of this country and recognized as such.  The rest of you have no idea what that means.
Thank you, President Obama. May the citizens of this country agree with you.
And on June 26th 2015, SCOTUS declared us citizens of the US with full rights and privileges. Finally!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Donna joins me

We have another disabled person joining me in describing our daily bumps in the road. My spouse, Donna Morse, talks about her invisible handicap and what she goes through. It's cyclical and a right pain in the ass. 

Handicaps come is all shapes, sizes, denominations, designations, and conglomerations.  There are the wheel chair bound, the scooters and the walkers, the ones with Seeing-Eye doggies, and the ones with those funny-looking Captain Hook hands, arms, and legs.  These are The Visible Ones.  Jan is one of those: She's a Scooter. 

Me, I'm one of The Invisible Ones.

I look perfectly healthy.  I walk without aids, have all natural limbs, and play with our two canines that are nothing more than lazy hounds.

  I love to be outside: gardening, swimming, hiking, exploring. Dancing is my body's all-time favorite thing to do.  Having friends around and cooking for them delights me to no end.  But……

There are days, and sometimes weeks, when I sleep more than I am awake; I have no option to do otherwise.  Sometimes every joint feels swollen and achy, my muscles go weak on me, walking is a monumental chore, and dancing, well, isn't an option.  I'm forgetful.  I lose words.  My brain just goes wonky on me.  Life's not at all fun and folks - some who know me pretty darn well - wonder, "What the hell is her problem... last month she hiked a mile with me?"  

Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia:  That's what it is.  But it is invisible like so many other debilitating conditions that are so dismissed and misunderstood. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

OK, here’s the deal.

 Do not touch me!

If I am lying the ground and ask for help to get up, then you can give me a hand or call an ambulance. And that’s the only time. Well, maybe if I am falling out of a building or an airplane and need catching. That’s OK too.

I don’t touch strangers. Why do some of you? Because I am under 4 feet. Just because I do not travel at your height does not give you permission to pat my head, to put your arm around my shoulders, to put your hands anywhere on my body. It’s mine. Don’t touch it. 

Do you touch strangers? Try this:  Pick out somebody in the grocery store - man or woman. Now walk up to that person and put your hand on his or her shoulder. What happens?  Do you get clocked with a purse, or a fist? Or just hear a scream that could curdle milk?  Does that tell you something?  We have something in our country called personal space. We are uncomfortable when someone invades it. In some countries, that custom is not the same and your new acquaintance stands really really close to you when talking to you. You keep backing up and wondering why the guy is standing so close. Pretty soon you are against the wall. Soon you figure out how to end the conversation and wiggle out from the wall.

Same with those of us who travel under your line of sight. If you get close, we wonder what your reasons are. Usually, it’s a patronizing gesture.  I have been patted on my grey head, had men’s and women’s hands around my shoulders and been ‘helped’ when no help was needed.  

So what to do? Geez, you try really hard to be polite and do the right thing and no matter what you do, it’s wrong.

Here’s what to do:  Ask.  Ask if we could use a hand with that heavy package, ask if you can reach that grocery item way up on the shelf, ask if you can grab something we can’t get to.  See, it’s easy. We are  used to who and what we are. It’s pretty easy for you to do the same.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Bottom Five

I live in a tiny town in Arkansas, and in a remote region of that town even.  I left New Orleans after 40+ years of living there to retire up here in AR.  
I was reading a disability blog this morning named Disability Scoop. This fine writer gathered stats about disability access in all the states.  One would think that when I retired, I could have picked a state that had better statistics than Louisiana. Well, I did, but not by much.  Seems as if the South, as usual is home to the bottom 5 states in all the categories you can think of, the ones that are important.. Whyever did I think that things would be any different.
This coming from a native Michigander who did grad work in Chicago. You’d think I would have learned something there.

So, here is the blog I read:

Mississippi came in dead last for the ninth year in a row. In addition, the report calls out Arkansas, Illinois and Texas for consistently falling at the bottom of the list since 2007.

It figures.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bright Red Scooter

Coming out of any store on my scooter is a study in human nature.  I have to navigate the parking lot and often a sidewalk.  Most of the time I am watched. Not maliciously or with pity, but mostly with curiosity.  I never mind that.  I lower the lift on my car and drive the scooter onto the left.  Then I get off the scooter and turn the key that makes the scooter go up in the air. 

That’s usually enough to gather a small audience.  People are genuinely interested in how the contraption works.  Usually the question askers are grey haired men. They want to know if they can build a lift. Of course, they can. It’s a pretty simply concept and if you have the parts, eg, the flat part that holds the scooter, the harness that attaches to the car battery and the hoist that lifts the flat part and simultaneously moves up in the air and at the same time, an arm is lowered that holds the lift in place, it becomes a matter of just putting them all together and attaching it to any car.  It attaches via a trailer hitch that U-Haul will put on your car for you.

Most people who ask questions, want one for themselves or a family member.  They have to buy them these days. Used to be Medicare would pay for them, but fraud by places like The Scooter Store made Medicare stop paying for mobility devices from most any distributor. But now you can get one online from lots of different places. The scooters arrive totally put together, so that's they way to go. Mine is a 4 wheeler that I use not just when I go into town, but around the property as well. Think dirt bike. It does not have the capacity to climb hills like I would like to have, but it does a good job with everything else.

Some people just want to know where to get a lift. Or where to get a scooter. Can they build a scooter? Sure, if they know a bit about batteries, chargers and transaxles.  I can build things, but don’t think I could build a scooter like this one. Think small electric go-cart and you got it.

All in all, the entire assembly is perfect for what it does. It allows me total mobility almost anywhere.  I use the scooter to garden, to get the mail at the end of the driveway, to talk to workers who come here to build decks, ramps, fix things or whatever I wish. 

My mobility would indeed be non existent if not for my scooter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Makes ya Wonder

I was born in October1941 and when Pearl Harbor was bombed, I obviously was not far from my mother. She tells me she was at her mother in law's house for dinner when they got the news. So, I don’t remember much of the war.  My uncle went to the New Hebrides, but I only remember his coming home with a pea coat for his sister, my mother.  My dad worked in the defense industry and his parents only had one child - my father, so my dad did not fight, nor did his father, my grandfather.  

Until  I became self aware, I lived a wonderful life being a free range kid in a small town, an ideal childhood and school experience all through the 50s until high school was over for me in 1959. I set off for Michigan State University, my first visit to a place where some of the people were different from the all white protestants who lived in my small town of Spring Lake, Michigan.

Mygod, there were people of different colors, people who wore strange beanies on their heads, had beards and wore their hair funny.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that these folks were treated differently whether they wanted to be or not. I learned what prejudice was. 

I could never figure out prejudice except it was used by large patriarchal institutions to gain and keep power and control.  If the population was given someone to hate, that population was easy to control and manipulate. Don't think so? Read "1984" and "Animal Farm." Or read history. See what Hitler did. See what organized religion has done from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the present. See what has happened to the public educational system with the dumbing down of students, so many of whom are drugged daily so they behave. Scary isn't it?

For reasons I still don’t know, I had problems with that. And at that moment, at 17 years old, social activism became a major cause in my life.

It started with me realizing that unfairness was no way to run a university, let alone a country or a world. I participated in varying acts of civil disobedience as I grew into my new role as a social activist.  I participated in sit ins, demonstrations, marches and even published my own alternative newspaper and distributed it off campus.

Of all the things I learned through the 60s and beyond, I found useful later in life after I became disabled, these were just lessons that I could use to still change things. 

And I do.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Times, they are a changin'

This was originally published on a friend's site: Sage Companions

Accept things like they are. Don't make waves. Don't draw attention to yourself. 
Hush. The teacher/minister/clerk/doctor/dentist wants you to be quiet and not interrupt.  Don't ask questions.
I hear that or a version of that all the time. Parents talking to their children, spouses talking to spouses, adult children to elderly parents. People who think they have authority speaking to people they perceive as not having any.
If it were not for resisting what is,
we would never change our lives for the better
In my lifetime we have seen women come from employable only in menial jobs to most any job they wish, albeit only at 77% of what men make. But we are working on that. When I finished undergrad school, an employer could say, "Sorry, we don't hire women for that." And not realize what he was saying. And we could do nothing about it. When I finished grad school things had not changed.That was 1969 and I was finished listening to that drivel
When I was an undergrad at Michigan State University women could not wear pants on campus. In Michigan where temps reach below zero in the winter. We had to dress for dinner. We had curfews. I mention that not to assess value to their standards, but to say that men undergrads had no dress rules or curfews. Women could not take technical courses like engineering and I wanted to be a civil engineer. Wasn't gonna happen.

My niece is a chemical engineer and doesn't even think it's unusual. Female doctors and dentists outnumber males doctors and dentists. It only took 30 years.

We fought, we resisted, we sat-in, we marched, we demanded and yes, we complained. We made noise. We were not quiet and did not accept things as they were.

And things changed

I have seen people of color exist as second class citizens, relegated to the back of the bus and not allowed to sit at a Woolworth lunch counter, stay in a motel of their choice or get more that a menial job.
We now have a US president who is a person of color.

We fought, we resisted, we sat-in, we marched, we demanded and yes, we complained. We made noise. We were not quiet and did not accept things as they were.

It took Harry Truman one signature and the military was integrated. That was 1948. In 1956, it took a landmark decision by the supreme court in Brown v the Board of Education to integrate the schools. Stonewall happened in NYC in 1969. We came out of our respective closets and are demanding equal rights.

We are still seeing conditions in the US that need changing. It's perfectly OK to hate homosexuals and shout it to the sky. (Written before June 26, 2015, but it's still OK to hate and be applauded.) You might even be applauded. Civil rights are not granted to 10% or more of our population. Entire churches are built around refusing this right and preaching hatred to their parishioners. And believe it or not, the electorate of the US is VOTING on civil rights for gay people. That may have happened in this country before, but not in my memory.*

It's just fine to hate our neighbors to our south and wish them anywhere but in our country of  100% immigrants except for our indigenous peoples. I'm not sure why our neighbors to the north are just fine. Could it be the color of their skin? Would be presidents are using that as a plank in their perverted platforms.

We will fight, resist, sit-in, march, demand and yes, complain. We will make noise. Will not be quiet and will not accept things as they are.

* Thanks to the efforts of thousands and thousands, look what happened on June 26, 2015.  The country changed. We made noise and the country changed.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

An Inspiration to us All

I am not inspiring to anyone at all.  I get tired of hearing that. Especially now, when mobility is indeed a challenge daily. Just because I have changed my surroundings to work for me does not  make me inspiring.
I think most people do that. Some have to change more things that others, but mine was simple really.

First, I put grab bars and accessible showers in both bathrooms. I am a good DIYer, so, even though I can't do the work anymore, I can hire somebody relatively inexperience and teach them what to do. After all, I was the first female licensed general contractor in the state of Louisiana with boots on the ground.  Made all those lessons taught to me by my grandparents worth it. I can wield a mighty hammer and butcher wood with the best of them. That’s not inspiring either, just practical. Makes doing home repairs easier. 

I built ramps, OMG, did I build ramps. Up to the front door, the back and up to the deck next to the pool. I can make a circle around the house at deck level. Nice for parties and particularly nice for me. Eliminating stairs is probably the most necessary changes to make to any house.  I advocate all houses being built this way, so they can be accessible to all generations all the time. With intergenerational housing happening more and more, when grandpa moves in, no changes need to be made.

The kitchen is a problem. I do not have the counters cut out, preferring instead to have storage cabinets. I can make do, but my grabbers come in really handy for things above waist level.  I need help with upper cabinets, the top shelf of the freezer and fridge. But help is available because I do not live alone.

Washer/dryer are easy enough. In fact, I am lower, so can fetch dry clothes from the dryer more easily than my wife.

You know I am a gardener.  Because I operate best at waist level, I garden in straw bales and have many rows of them, growing everything from tomatoes of all kinds, to squash, cukes, zucchini, yard long beans, regular pole beans green beans, potatoes and I am trying sweet potatoes this year. 

I grow way too much for just the two of us. Here’s my latest effort to give to the food pantry. 

Pretty, aren't they?

So inspiring? I don’t think so.  Do I feel good about what I have done to make my life as it has always been? You bet.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Opening Doors

I thought that since I talk about doors so much, I should make it clear the measurements of required doors re ADA and also that self opening doors, which we love so much are not an ADA requirement.

That means that most of the time we have to rely upon the kindness of strangers to enter a building.

I hope that after our same sex marriage license picture was in Tuesday's Stone County Leader as the first same sex couple to capture the prize, the strangers will continue to be as kind as they were before the photo.

Straight from the ADA regulations

"Opening Doors To Everyone
People with disabilities are the largest and fastest-growing minority in the U.S. They control $1 trillion in total annual income. They have friends, family members, and business colleagues who accompany them to events and outings. And they use businesses and facilities that are accessible to them.
How can businesses provide access to people with disabilities?  They can begin by opening their doors, literally. Accessible doors welcome everyone – and they’re required by law.
Legal Requirements for Doors
The Basics
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers a wide variety of private businesses, as well as all the agencies of state and local governments. The ADA requires that these entities provide access to their programs, goods and services.
Businesses or buildings that are open or offer services to the general public are called  “places of public accommodation” by the ADA. Places of public accommodation and buildings constructed by state or local governments must be fully accessible to people with disabilities if built after January 26, 1992.
Places of public accommodation built before that date must undertake “readily achievable barrier removal.” This consists of activities that can be easily carried out without much difficulty or expense. What is readily achievable will vary from one business to another, and will depend on a number of factors, including existing structural conditions and the financial resources of the business. Tax incentives may help defray some of the costs (more info: http://www.ada.gov/taxincent.htm).
State and local governments must also take steps to ensure access to the programs and activities they offer in inaccessible facilities. In addition, state and local building codes may require different or additional accessibility features.

Door Accessibility Requirements
Which doors should be accessible?
At least one door should be accessible at these locations:
  • Each accessible entrance (at least 60% of public entrances in newly built facilities must be accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments).
  • Each tenant space in a mall or other building with multiple business tenants.
  • Accessible rooms and spaces within buildings.
  • Entrances to buildings from all parking structures, tunnels or elevated walkways.
  • At least one restricted or secured entrance (if applicable).
  • Along each building’s required route of escape or evacuation.
  • Public entrances serving different fixed routes within transit facilities.

Good to know: Although automatic doors can provide greater accessibility, they are not required by the ADA Standards."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Men v Women in the Garden

Most of you already know that I owned a specialty landscaping company for years before I was forced to retire by Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago.

But while I was working, I started noticing the differences between how men approach DIY projects and how women do.  Often I was employed to repair or rebuild the ornamental garden pond that the family took a stab at and didn't succeed.

When men build ponds they want technical, complicated things like automatic water levelers attached to the hose bib. Women just use a garden hose to top off the pond every couple of months. 

Men will run PVC pipes from the house hose bib and put a faucet near the pond. Women: See above.

Men plumb a waterfall with that same PVC pipe, so if it needs repair, you need a saw, sandpaper, more PVC pipe, fittings and that stinky blue glue. Women use flexible tubing. If it breaks, they get a new piece for a couple of bucks.

Men hard wire a pump into an electrical box, so when the pump burns out, an electrician is needed to install a new one. Oh, and hard wiring the pump voids the warranty. Women just plug in the pump. When it burns out, they just plug in a new one.

Men love concrete. They use it to cement down rocks around the pond and try to glue waterfall rocks together. They doh't realize that concrete keeps things apart, not together. Women simply balance the rocks properly, so no concrete is necessary. That way, if rocks need to be moved, they can be picked up and  moved at any time.

Anyone else find this strange?  Or is it just me? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I will not be indulged

Tried twice to post Indulge Salon and its steps.  The post was overlapping another post. Evidently I will not be indulged this morning.  Or most probably never.

Indulge Salon, trying again

Indulge Salon & Tanning

200 N Peabody Ave, Mountain View, AR 72560
(870) 269-7900

I'm sure this place gives good tans, should one want that sort of thing.
 What else it does is a mystery and shall ever remain so.

Yet one more place off limits to anyone with mobility problems. I wonder if the business 
owners ever think we might want a tan too. Naaaw, we don't matter. 

It can get tough getting up every morning knowing that you are not wanted
in so many places in town. Let's see, I can go to Walmart, a place I am not fond of and
the dentist, another place I am not all that fond of.

Oh, I can go to the Ozark Folk Center, a spot on this earth I could live in, but accommodations
are not all that great if you have to sleep in the herb garden.

Rating - 1

Now What

Blogger is acting up this morning and has squashed two posts together....at least on this end.
I hope it will fix itself.
Google? Fix this.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Another Gardening Experiment

When I was working, I built a pond at a nursing home. It was to serve two purposes. One was as a marketing tool. People would see it and either the potential residents or the ones looking for a place to put them would think that the administration and owners of the home were providing great amenities for the residents.  And two, the residents would enjoy sitting around the pond, watching the fish, listening to the waterfall and generally enjoying the landscape.  It worked.

While I was building the pond, I had the opportunity to meet some nursing home residents and talk with them.  I heard them as they reminisced about their gardens when they still lived at home. Hmmmm, could we build gardens there so they could continue to garden?  I talked it over with the staff and we devised a plan to build gardens on stands, rather like card tables, so wheelchairs would fit under them. They would be at the right heights for planting either flowers or vegetables. The residents were delighted and they or their families provided seeds or transplants.  This was in New Orleans, the weather was good almost year around so there were no downtimes.  

The planting began. The gardens were seeded or full of transplants within the first week.  Sounds wonderful doesn’t it.

One totally unexpected thing happened. On Friday after working that first week, the residents lined up at the administration station. I was astounded to hear that they were waiting for paychecks.  I had to laugh, but remember, I didn’t have to deal with angry residents either.  

The administrator had to do the explanations, but explained that anything they grew they could keep or give to the kitchen for use in their meals.  And they would have the flowers to enjoy as either cut flowers or in the landscape.  Thankfully the gardeners continued to garden, minus paychecks.  Our experiment succeeded.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Gardening Anyway

I May be a Cripple, But

I am a gardener. In a past life, I did this for a living. Building ponds, putting rocks in the right places to make waterfalls, landscaping the pond and beyond to make a client’s garden beautiful. 
I still garden, but I do it sitting down. It doesn’t make the garden less beautiful, the flowers less vibrant or the waterfall more soothing.
Yes, it takes immeasurably longer, but in the warm spring and hot summer days, is it not worth it? The flowers don’t care if I can walk or not. In fact, perhaps they may try even harder to be prettier longer so I can enjoy them from the front deck or through the windows that line the front of the house.
Today’s garden pictures show the yellow and red in this morning’s garden. Day lilies, short-lived, but oh so many smile at me to make my morning start happily.  Tiger lilies, also known as ditch lilies, are just as pretty and perhaps happier because they have been relocated from the ditch to the heights of the garden and line the path behind the pond.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

  • Amedisys Home Health of Mountain View

  • 609 Sylamore Ave. Mountain View, AR 72560
    Phone: (870) 269- 2993. 
    Toll Free: (877) 683-2993. Fax: (870) 269-5375

    Amedisys Home Health Care is a newer building with a ramp installed as an afterthought and of course, a huge and heavy door that needs two people to open. Why oh why are these doors not self opening.  

    Of course, you have to realize that few of the patients of the staff of this organizations ever come to the office. The staff goes to the patient, but still.......

    Rating - 4

  • Friday, July 3, 2015

    Parking Lots? Should be Safe, Right?

    I was just reading the AAA magazine and they talked about safety in parking lots. They talked about driving and parking, but I think it’s just as important to talk about maneuvering around in a parking lot while on a scooter or wheelchair. 

    An acquaintance of mine had a stroke and was recovering nicely. He was in the Walmart parking lot in his power chair and was struck by a car.  He wasn’t killed, but his stroke recovery was over. He never really recovered and never will.  

    I thought that a parking lots probably was one of the safest places to be until I heard about that.  After all, cars go really slow and everyone is careful while driving and parking, right?

    I started thinking and looking around and realized how wrong I was.  

    Many parking lots are large enough to be relatively safe, but the bigger they are, the faster cars travel in them. Small parking lots have smaller parking spaces and smaller lanes to drive in. I don’t know what is safer, but certainly none of them is all that safe.

    I know that we are invisible on streets, like motorcycles. I can’t quite figure out how we can be invisible in parking lots, but we are. People just don’t see us. So we have to drive like every sonuvabitch is out to get us. I suspect all of the accidents are just that - accidents.  But we must be the watchful ones because the car and truck drivers are not.

    We are not seen when somebody is backing out of a spot because nobody looks down. Most of the time, people use their rear view mirror and we seem to be in everyone’s blind spot.  Rear view camera’s miss us as well.

    When people are looking for a place to park, they are doing just that - looking for an empty spot, not for someone chugging along in a scooter at about 3’ tall. So you must be watching out for them, not the other way around.  

    People leaving the lot are just as dangerous. They are on their phones, settling their children down, trying to get home before the ice cream thaws. Dangerous folks those drivers.

    Even tho you have the right of way, just get out of your car and into the store assuming you don’t. Repeat that thinking when leaving the store.

    Believe me, you don’t care who has the right of way. Stay out of the way because no one can see you. Your safety is up to you.