Moving out...

I've been debating for a while moving to a blog, so that I could put it on my main site and avoid the annoying ads, and just made the switch.  From now on you can find me over there.  I'll leave this one up for a while, at least, but won't be updating here. 

I've gotten all of the old posts moved over, and most of the comments are there, but a few seem to have gotten thrown onto random posts instead of the ones they started out on.  All in all, the transition went fairly smoothly though.  I will be fiddling with the new blog for a while before I find a layout I'm comfortable with, so don't be surprised if it changes faces a few times, but the content is up and will stay consistent.

I'll be porting my StoryBlox blog as well, sometime soon, but I haven't gotten to that one yet.  

Perspective Taking

I have a neurological condition that causes simple things, like walking, to require actual thought on my part.  Walking also, more often than not, causes fairly significant pain.  The same condition, unfortunately, also affects my arms and my stamina.  So everywhere I go, I'm left with a difficult decision:  Which ambulatory aids will serve me best right now?

Most of the time, these days, my legs are mostly functional and my pain levels are nowhere near what they used to be.  This means that on good days I can walk a little ways before I have to be worried about it.  A trip into the local post office or convenience store can usually be done without even taking my cane.  A trip to CVS or Walgreens, which aren't very large here, and have carts I can lean on, can often be done on foot.  A trip to the grocery store or Walmart, however, is impossible without my wheelchair, even on a good day.  I can usually walk into a restaurant with my cane, since I'll be sitting for a bit between, and walk back out with no problem.  A movie, however, means sitting in one cramped spot for over an hour, so I know I won't be able to walk back out.

Most places fall somewhere in between, and I usually have to take a minute, upon arriving, to assess the best solution.  This assessment  involves things like the amount of walking I expect, the terrain, the weather (wheelchairs in rain or snow kind suck, but leaning on a cane with a wet tip can be disastrous), how sore my legs are, how sore my arms are, how tired I am (the wheelchair, though it's ultra-lightweight, is still too heavy for me some days), and, on bad days, "how badly do I really need to do this, anyway?" (I frequently get to the grocery store parking lot and just give up and drive home).  

Whenever I go somewhere new, and the size of the building/distance I have to walk isn't readily discernible from the parking lot, I have a policy that I always take my wheelchair.  The very last thing I want is to go somewhere new and get stuck, and have to try to send some stranger to get my wheelchair for me, or end up sitting somewhere crying in pain, too embarrassed to ask for help.  This means that the vast majority of people, upon meeting me for the first time, meet me in the chair.

My chair is not one of those fold-up hospital things.  I played wheelchair basketball, quite seriously, in college, and my chair is a custom-fit, ultra-lightweight sports frame with built in shock absorbers and triple-cross spokes.  It's not the kind of chair you see every day, unless you live on a college campus or have an acquaintance who's been wheelchair-bound for an extended period.  Upon seeing me in this chair, most people seem to assume that I am paraplegic.  I usually try to let people know that I can walk, especially if I think I might see them again in circumstances where I'm not in my chair.  This never seems to sink in, though.

Today, for instance, I went to my ENT appointment.  It was raining.  The ENT is inside an office in a larger building, with insufficient handicapped parking space.  Every time I'd been there I'd taken my chair in, because the doors on that building are heavy and hard to open when I'm standing, and the walk to the office is a decent distance.  But no handicapped parking means no striped-zone beside my car, which means I have to worry about whether I'll be able to get my chair back into my car when I come back out.  My legs are working pretty well today, and I had energy despite running on 2 hours' sleep, so I decided it made more sense to walk in today.

The people in his office had no clue who I was.  They even made me give them my insurance cards again, which they've never asked for since my first visit there.  I think they were doubting who I was, I'm surprised they didn't make me show ID.  When the nurse (who I know I had dealings with there just a few weeks ago) took me to get an xray she wondered why I was worried about standing still for it/why I wanted to lean on something.  The only person there who recognized me was the doctor, who asked where my machine was today lol

It was a bizarre experience for me.  I'm the one that usually doesn't recognize people.  I am at least partially face-blind, I can often recognize people in context by their hair, glasses, and other unique features, but not usually by their faces, and if I see them outside of their normal domain I usually have no clue who they are.

People generally tend to recognize me, though.  I'm that fat chick in the cool-looking wheelchair, or I'm that girl that  hobbles around on the  cane with the funky handle (my canes have fitted quad handles cuz I can't grip a normal cane properly), or I'm that lady with the weird leg braces.

It was quite an odd experience to have the tables turned.  

Usually, if I show up walking around someone who hasn't seen me out of the chair before they do a double-take, they give me a perplexed look and sometimes ask if I have a sister.  If I show up in a chair around someone that's only seen me walking/hobbling/on crutches/with cane, they look horrified and ask me what happened (despite the fact that I warn nearly everyone I expect to see again that I use a chair quite a bit, that never seems to sink in either until they see it the first time, and often not even then).  I'm used to surprising people in these ways.  But it's very rare to not be recognized at all because of the change in ambulation.

It was a nice bit of comic relief in my day, but it really didn't make up for the giant nasal scope the doctor tried to ram through my brain.

The Thwarted Robin

I could have sworn I blogged about this a year or two ago, and I went looking today to find the blog entry so I could repost it, but alas, no luck.

Since I can't find the entry I guess I'll just write a new one. I've been reading a lot of fairy tales lately, so I thought I'd try my hand at a bit of (groan-worthy, I'm sure) creative writing...

Once upon a time, a night-owl lived by herself in a country home. She had a big glass patio door on the back of her kitchen, which let in far too much light. Being a poor girl, she hung an old sheet over it, since she hadn't the means to buy a curtain. One day the girl needed to wake up for an important appointment, but prior experience told her she'd probably sleep through her alarm, so she prayed before she went to bed that God would help her wake on time.

The next morning, bright and early, she heard a really loud knocking sound, shortly before her alarm failed to go off (her subconscious, wanting to sleep in, had set it for PM instead of AM). Her sleepy body ignored the knocking and fell fast back to slumber, but the knocking continued, and she awoke again shortly after. Awake enough to realize this wasn't a normal sound, she got up to check, and found a robin perched on her back porch post, patiently and curiously pecking at her kitchen door.

The girl was ecstatic. What a beautiful and wonderful answer to her prayers! She was up on time, and had only God to thank.

In her excitement, she didn't think to shew the robin away, and he remained, enthralled with her window, for some time. After a while she finally realized it was his reflection that had so captivated him, and, finding this incredibly cute, she allowed him to stay.

Over the course of the next few weeks the robin returned time after time, and his patient pecking soon turned to singing and flapping and other antics. He would show up in the wee hours of the morning (much to the night-owl's chagrin), and come and go the rest of the day as he found time. It didn't take long for the girl to overcome her awe, and she soon started shewing him off. Only to have him return an hour or two later.

It didn't seem to matter if the makeshift curtain were there or not, he could still see his reflection as long as the sun was shining. On rainy days he would just watch and wait patiently for the curious bird to return. On sunny days he continued his flirting.

In time, he fell in love with the beautiful bird in the glass, and decided it was time for a mate. Mating with a glass reflection, though, is no easy task, and proved to be a great challenge for the robin. His pecking turned to flinging himself against the window in every odd angle he could find, plastering and smearing it with droppings when he inevitably failed. But persist he did, and he returned daily to try, until the long winter came and he was forced to fly south.

The girl was glad to see the bird gone, and hoped he would forget his love, or find a new one, before next spring.

But alas, it was not to be. Come spring the bird returned to courting his shadow, and try as she may the night-owl could not find a way to block his view or scare him off. She eventually learned to sleep through all of his knocking and racket (which is why she can't hear you at her door if you visit). For 3 years now, the bird has returned, ever faithful, to his mate, for true love cannot be denied, and songbirds mate for life.

And now that I've tortured you with this horrible excuse for a story, perhaps you'd like to read some quality stories? Check out my author friend Richard Fredrick Grenvile for some great stuff:
His Main Site
His Facebook Page

What are you missing?

So many things in this life can blind us to the reality around us.   We miss the faults in the one we're in love with, we miss the good in the ones we hate; greed, evny or ambition can blind us to those we hurt around us, or the happiness we miss out on by barreling through life; an eye patch on a good eye can correct it's lazy counterpart, blinders on a horse can protect it from spooking.

Woman with One Eye CoveredWe all have these blinders in our lives. Sometimes we know they're there, and welcome them. Some creep up little by little and we don't even notice. Some, we've gotten so used to that we can't even remember what life was like without them.

Sometimes they are beneficial in the short-term, but never in the long-term (never say never, I know, but I can't think of any).  We'd have no meaningful relationships if we couldn't overlook the faults of the ones we love (no one's perfect), but being completely blind to all faults leads to things like ignoring the abuse of one's own child at the loved-one's hand.  A horse made safer by blinders when pulling a cart would be crippled by them trying to navigate a hillside.  A literal blinder on a lazy eye, if left too long, will only create another lazy eye.  

So every once in a while we need to take a step back.  We need to look at our lives, at the relationships we have, at the emotions pervading our daily life, at our list of priorities, at our list of motivations, and maybe even at our physical situation, and see what blinders we have up.  The ones that helped us 5 years ago may be hindering now.  Some may have crept up that do nothing but harm.  We may have some new ones that are actually helpful, but we should note them for future reference, and re-assess them down the road.

Have you taken time to see what you're missing lately?

The danger of Science Fiction

If you're a science fiction writer, beware.  

Whatever great and novel ideas you come up with -- however creative, however brilliant, however stupid, and however evil, and no matter how many warnings you write along with the idea, or how dire the consequences for your characters -- someone in the scientific community will probably take it upon themselves to try to make it happen.  They'll often be backed by government think tanks and massive budgets drawn from your taxes.  And they'll often succeed.

Don't believe me?  Take a look back at some of the classic sci-fi, go read an anthology from the 70's or 80's and note how many of the things written have been done, despite the warnings.  Brave New World?  Absolutely.

I'm not saying you shouldn't write.  Chances are if you thought it up someone else already has, or will eventually, and whatever it is will likely be tried anyway.  But you should be aware of the trend... before you write that novel that's been spinning around in your head, or before you publish it at least, you might want to ask yourself how bad you'll feel if 10, 20, 30 years from now you wake up to find it as reality on the front page of your favorite news journal.  

Will you forever wonder if the damage done was spurred by your book?

Posting a few days late this month...

I've been pretty sick for the past few days and the date snuck up on me.  Rather than try to pick a chartiy at the last minute without any research I'm going to take another day or two before I post.  If you have suggestions please leave them.  

In any case, the #5on5 hashtag I was using for this on Twitter seems to have gotten pre-empted for something else (I can't even tell what it is), and I haven't gotten much response this way, so I may be revamping and trying to think of a better name/system to try to get this going a little better.

In any case, if you were hoping to give today, check out my past 5on5 posts and give to one of those charities, or just hold your cash for another day or two :)  

Teach a man to fish... will you join me?

This is the $5 on 5 post for February.  If you don't already know what this is about, please check this post for a full description of what I'm doing here and why.

Pass on the Gift - Heifer International This month, I'm inviting you to join me in giving $1 or $5, or whatever you can afford, to Heifer International.  Our donations may be small, but enough little bits can add up to a great thing.

"Heifer recipients receive months of training in how to care for their animal; sell the milk, eggs or other products at market; and restore the environment. Passing on this knowledge as well as the offspring of the gift animal is at the heart of Heifer's model which has been ending hunger and poverty for over 60 years."

You can donate online here using Paypal, Google Checkout, Amazon, or creditcard.  If you work for a large company be sure to check, they may offer matching funds to stretch what you can afford to donate even further.

I don't get anything out of this, and I won't get a notification of your donation, but I'd love to hear from you if you were able to help out.  Just drop me a note here, or at our Facebook group, and let us know that you've joined in.  I'll be back with a different charity next month. If you have any suggestions please feel free to leave a note about that as well.

My friends never stood... downwind!

A friend on Twitter started doing  Random Tip Tuesday posts and I thought it was a great idea, so I'm being all rude and being a copy cat  I'm sharing a tip of my own today.  I'll not do this anymore, I feel bad already, I'm sorry.  You should go read hers.

In any case, my parents are good about coming up with the most bizarre suggestions, and this time one of them totally paid off, so I figured I'd share.

A few years ago the green beans we grew were a little more gas-inducing than usual, and Mom was apparently complaining about this to a friend (because who doesn't want to talk about flatulence with their friends?), who suggested she drop a carrot in the pot next time she cooked up a mess.  Mom thought this sounded odd, but after a while I guess she tried it, and pretty soon she was bragging to me about how much it worked.

I didn't believe it, but I did try it next time I made beans & cornbread, and was blown away.  

It turns out, if you throw a few baby carrots into a pot of beans while they're cooking, you can have friends over the next day without being nicknamed Pumba.

And better yet, it seems to work in everything I've tried.  I usually have baby carrots around, so I throw 1-3 in a pot, depending on how much I'm cooking.  So far it works with all types of beans I've tried, and onion soup.  You can even eat the carrots later, if you're like me and can't stand to waste food, but Mom just picks them out and throws  them away before serving the dish.

A certain friend tells me that ginger works just as well, but I can't stand ginger, and carrots don't effect the taste of the dish at all (that I can tell).


Can you spare $5 this month? for the MDA

I'm a little late posting this one today,  due to a doctor's appointment, my crappy memory, and an inability to plan properly, but hopefully I'm not too late to enlist a few people.

If you don't already know what this is about, please check last month's post for a full description of what I'm doing here and why.

Help Fight Muscular DystrophyThis month, I'm inviting everyone to join me in giving just $5 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  I'm choosing them this month for personal reasons.  If you know me very well you'll know that I have a peripheral neuropathy, which just happens to be one of the neuro-muscular disorders that the MDA helps with aside from muscular dystrophies.  

I've been receiving services from the MDA on and off for most of my life.  They run some of the best clinics in the nation for neuro-muscular disorders, they have great programs to help with all aspects of dealing with living with disorders like mine, and they've been nothing but helpful when I've needed them.  They also fund massive amounts of research to help improve the lives of those of us with all sorts of neuro-muscular diseases.

I don't have the money to give to them like I'd like to, but I can give up one meal this month and give $5.  $5 might not seem a lot, but if I can give $5, and you can give $5 (or $1, or $2, or $20), and some of your friends can join us as well, pretty soon we may be able to give enough to make a real difference.  So if you're able to give, you can do so through the link here:

I don't get anything out of this, and I won't get a notification of your donation, but I'd love to hear from you if you were able to help out.  Just drop me a note here, or at our Facebook group, and let us know that you've joined in.  I'll be back with a different charity next month.  If you have any suggestions please feel free to leave a note about that as well.

God is not dead.

I've been trying to get a good recording of this song for a while.  

My crappy recording setup means that I can only use something if I can record the entire song all the way through without any screw-ups... ever tried to do that?!  It's hard.  And half the time when I do manage, I go back to edit and find I forgot to actually hit "record", arg!  

In any case.  I finally got a halfway decent recording of this one.  I've been working on it for weeks.  I hope you enjoy it, or, I at least hope it doesn't hurt too much to listen to it.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by yours truly
(Original artist: Casting Crowns)

Merry Christmas! :)