Friday, June 30, 2006

Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust

The other night as we were watching TV and Dianne asked, “so, what do you want me to do with you after you die?” This question always takes off guard. I just cannot get used to this brutally basic questions regarding my mortality. I suffer a moment of terror which I instantly cloth denial PJs and try to change the subject

I forever wanted to be buried. Well, its not like I considered the event all –it s just something which is going to happen and if I avoid the subject long enough I will not have to deal with it. This is specifically why I am sure Dianne keeps bringing this to my attention. I guess I can understand this especially if I am going to be buried. Then there are a ton of decisions I need to make, buying a coffin, putting together the whole song and dance i.e. who is going to speak, pall bearers, etc. So, basically getting buried is going to cost a bundle, a bundle I don’t want to spend for something as dead as being dead.

Dianne herself, wants to be cremated! Seems she has always wanted to be cremated for as long as I have known her. Her dad was cremated and they dumped the ashes into the Gulf Shores area of the Atlantic Ocean. It turned out to be a whole family affair. No funeral or anything just a quiet ceremony (low cost) and setting Otto free. This is what Dianne wants and the price is not bad.

I was raised thinking cremation was wrong: desecration of the human temple. I thought burial was a Mormon thing, practical thing; you had to do this, and this and this because and if you did not do these items you were not going to be resurrected. That was then and now I do not necessarily believe this form of thinking any more. So, I COULD be cremated. I just have problems with accepting the “end”. In my mind the second I make a decision and buy a Plan then the “end” is real. The end is really going to happen and this is just too much for me to wrap my little mind around.

But not today, or this weekend; I have a holiday to deal with and promise of good weather with nowhere to go.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Everyone Has Chapters

Everyone’s life is made of chapters. There are good chapters and there are bad chapters. There are chapters of love and chapters of hate and chapters of apathy and chapters of excitement. People in your life are the characters of course, in these chapters. The people tend to follow the unwritten rule of servitude and everyone manages to get by and for the most part everyone is happy...for the most part. Occasionally one of these characters will show up over and over again even if you wish they would not. Twenty some years ago such a character came into my life. Though challenging in nature this person has been one of the most colorful pages in my history

Mr. No Arms showed up in my life when I was working as a Resource Coordinator for an Independent Living Center, I spent my days searching for solutions for people needing housing, transportation and anything else people with disabilities might need to survive independently. I was called my the Social Work department of a local nursing home ( now Long term Care Center(LTC). The LTC needed to find a place to live for one of their “clients”: Mr No Arms.

Mr. No Arms became disabled one evening when (as the official story goes) laid on the rail road tracks , not far from “Hobo Inn”, intoxicated to awaken hours later trying to push a locomotive off of himself. In the process the locomotive cleaved off both arms so far up and into his torso there was nothing left to hang prosthetic devices off of. When Mr. No Arms wore a tee shirt he had to keep having the shirt re-centered on his body so the shirt would not slid down what was left of his shoulders. Mr. No Arms is amazing to me. A brilliant cranky as hell even before his “accident” Irish Catholic stranded in Utah against his will.

Well, this is actually kind of a preface to a book I am thinking about—you know with the names changed to protect the innocent. Anyway, Mr. N.AM called today but I was on the phone and could not take his call. Actually the guy sort of scares me. For someone without any warms he has a propensity to get in trouble. He was always been evicted from his housing or being thrown in jail for one ting or another. He had on going relationships with bikers, known offenders and elements of organized crime in one form or another. Mr. N.A. wants to relocate back to his hometown back East and as hard as I have tried to get him there we have never succeeded. Sometimes I go years without hearing from him. Mr. N.A. surfaced today threatening to come in to my office. This cannot be good. He lives 40 miles away. He has to find someone who has a vehicle and willing to drive him all the way here, wait round and drive him back…that is unless he has relocated to this city and then a whole new chapter could be opening up.

Actually, I like Mr. NA he just scares me. I really believe he could have me rubbed out if he wanted to. Maybe, but if he had that kind of power you would think he would just blow this town. In all reality he is just a severely, disabled aging white guy; a stranger in a strange land.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

XiaoLia s is closing

I hate it when something closes without notifying me first. I took off at lunch just to get out of the office a little bit and I was returning from the Bank and decided to head west of the office to check out the coffee shop when I zipped past Xiao Li’s and there was a huge sign in the window “Item Sale”.

Xiao Li is a high end Asian ( Chinese) restaurant, which has occupied the North East bottom corner of the crane building for past 10 years or so. Evening prices are way high but the Lunch menu is sort of affordable. Xiao Li is one of those establishments, which has the look of a place where everyone wants to be. In the summer the restaurant exudes a cool glow with people in their summer clothes drifting in and out look cool. In the winter the windows exuded a warm glow in the dark early evening as folks started their weekends and holiday celebrations right after work. Folks wrapped in fur fortune cookies making the scene. In the local City Weekly Xiao Li has received the 'Salt Lake City's Best Chinese Restaurant 1997, 1998 & 1999' The place must have been good. I never went . I always thought I had time. Xiao Li had the look as if it would be on that corner for ever. But, I found out today there are having the Item Sale today from 10:00 to 1:00 pm! Who has a three hour Item Sale AKA Tag Sale AKA Liquidation Sale?

I never got to the coffee shop needless to say. I zipped round the corner of the building and up the ramp on the other side. I glanced at my watch as I ended the restaurant and found there was still 20 minutes left to the sale! There was still quite a bit of merchandise like tables, chairs, rice steamers and great pieces of Chinese art for under a $100.00. Bundles of spoons, forks and hand made tea mugs. So much stuff. They were even selling cases of wine, food warmers, sterno powered and electric. I could have gone crazy spending if I had any where to store the stuff. The clock on the wall indicated five minutes of 1:00 and the Chinese fellow who had been on his cell phone the entire time I had been in the restaurant looked like he was late for a Toastmasters meeting. I grabbed a couple of tea pots. I don’t know why. It seemed like the right thing to do. I am always fascinated when I order green tea and my tea comes in these little, pots with the bags hanging over the side. The pots were fifty cents each. How can you go wrong with a price like that?

In the back of the main room of the restaurant was what looked to be an Asian family dressed in black sitting round one of those huge round table you always see in these kind of restaurants. In the center of the table was a giant sack from Mc Donald’s the family obviously had decided to have their last meal in the joint and the meal was “Ethnic”. They talked in a hush and seemed to be distraught. The group Looked like the family of the deceased at a viewing. “Aunt Ling” saw that I was ready to purchase my treasure and came over to the cash register,
also for sale.

I offered my condolences as I dug round my back pack for my wallet. I said I was sorry that they didn’t make it. I also said I was surprised because they always seemed to be doing so well. They even had “Best in Salt Lake” three or four years running. I knew this to be true because the plates with the year of each award written on it were for sale over on the far table. “Aunt Ling’s” light up saying, “That’s OK. This is still going to be a restaurant” She said like she had just won the jackpot in Wendover, like she had cooked her last egg roll and planned to eat at Micky D’s for the rest of her natural life. “Next week this be Vietnamese place.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Big Bro

I bet you are all getting a little spooked that I might go ahead and do a post for every member of my family. Truth be told , I have pondered this idea. Actually, I have thought of doing a completely different blog, a blog unto itself. I have even named such a blog The Whole fam Damily and do a piece about each member as long as I live to do write the blog. Bummer I just Googled Whole \Dam Family And looks as if the idea has been done a million times. Oh well. I still might do it…but not today.

This is my brother Ross. Ross is five years older then I, and/French Canadian, at least Ross was French Canadian the last time I had reason to ask. Good, bad or indifferent I think I am closest to Ross of al my family. I guess this should not be surprising since I spent most of my conscientious free time with him. You see, Ross and I are both adopted, that is a story line by itself if not a book. One day I will get into this saga more fully. Ross, and mi are surrounded by eight other family members(kids) who we believed were adopted—and they were but not as Ross and I were adopted. All the others share my parents actual gene pool in one way or another—Ross and I do not. Now, what’s weird, is that I have been concisely aware of the fact I knew where all the kids came from but never put all the obvious facts together. Each of the other eight kids one could do an authentic genealogical pedigree chart on.

I have nothing but good feelings toward Ross. I have to state for the record , however, he teased me mercilessly. I am quite surprised I am alive today. He has shot me with BB guns, electrified me on fences, hit me with belts, chased me with pitchforks, rolled me off the top bunk of our beds ACTUALLY purposely discharged a fire- arm in my direction and held the huge, filmy, plastic bags in which clothes used to arrive home from the dry cleaners, over my head until air was completely depleted—you know when the film is actually sucked into your mouth when you try to inhale anything which might even be close to oxygen.
But we did everything together for about a span of ten years. We were each other’s best friends. Then Ross moved on to more adolescent and adult endeavors.
When Ross was 19 and I was 15 he went to North Carolina to live with my older older brother. I broke my neck over the summer he was gone. I broke my neck on HIS motorcycle—that was 1966. He came back a few months later robbed a gas station and was sentenced to Viet Nam and survived. I am sure I messed Ross up big time by destroying his bike but that was then

We are both old guys now, Ross is still working and getting round but he is getting more and more gimped up. I wish we lived closer together. I miss him a lot. Even with the family reunions there is never enough time to visit as I would like. Ross is never home. He has always hunted, by himself, with his son or in-laws. Ross loves guns, hunting and really being alone. He hunts every weekend that he can, or he fishes. So, our lives are very different one of us would have to change to spend more time with the other. I like who Ross has turned out to be. He is brother who seems to want to spend more time with me and he is a great uncle to my kids. Auni adores him. He is still a bit of a mystery though—our beginnings are draped in deep family secrets. How did Ross come to be? Why French Canada? And why was Ross so mean as a kid??? And, why is Ross so nice now????

Monday, June 26, 2006

My little BRO

With the Reunion past it’s like this huge wave of anxiety has past. I feel like a kid again with school getting out for the summer. Weekends are like sleep overs, I think of all the things I am going to be able to do with the time I will have not having to drive to Boise and the Reunion. I down loaded the pictures taken with my camera. I did not take any, I do not know why but Dianne took most of the 17 images which on the card in the camera. These images are great for what they are I wish I had taken a bunch more. I do not know what I was thinking. I am hoping that Leah and some of the others I saw wondering round with their digitals snapping images right and left will post these images.

My brothers home (where the event was held) is brand new, he built it himself, literally, with his own two hands, something like 3000 to 4000 square feet. He is a builder there in Boise and so he has skills, and contacts with the “industry” which make building a home like this possible . But, still, Paul has done such a great job, hickory floors, granite counter tops, open spacious sky lights bright and very livable. Do I sound jealous? I donot think I am, If I am jealous, the jealousy maybe from Paul’s ability to Paul off such an undertaking. It’s like finding your kid brother has moved up to the “Majors” you have to give him a respect that he has earned and which is openly visible. It can’t be dined he is there. I now go to Paul when I have building questions.

Perhaps more even more impressive then Paul’s quarter of a million dollar home was his parent and parenting skills. This is my little brother. He has four girls fro two marriages, all the girls are beautiful. One just delivered his first grand child, actually the first birth was a multiple birth, twins but one twin did not make it and the other was premee and was in danger for a great of his life the child’s first year Paul was there and was great dad and grand dad through it all.

Paul was a single parent dad to girls, again, four very healthy and attractive ladies. They’re sport was soft ball and soccer and Paul was often in the area for tournaments but he was always there for the kids. Paul’s married now has a great wife-more great grand kids and room for everyone. He even has a complete home theater system upstairs in his new castle. He says he has never been “up there” because he works as hard as he does. I did not start this post out to be a glorification of my younger brother but so it has become. Thank you little bro for sharing your home with the whole fam this weekend. Not only sharing your home but also ram-Roding the event through. You do me proud.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Old Guy Wants Cake

We are back—what a trip! No doom or gloom. The van ran perfectly. The relatives were well behaved and no traumas despite lots of visiting and historical references. I drove both ways very tiring but I survived. Dianne and I had a great time. I ws a brat only twice and both incidents happened round food.

We took off Friday morning round 4:00 a.m. And we discovered this is the way to travel. True the morning was dark but there was also no traffic as we headed north. We did not run into real traffic until we got to Boise—we stopped twice for bathroom breaks and to fill up with gas. I even took a short side trip to view the old stomping grounds, but the stomping grounds have changed so much it's nearly impossible to find the old neighborhood. Things like canals and some old trees remained which helped identify favorite hang outs and swimming holes but it's not the same old Boise—maybe I just have the Old Man Blues.

This morning we did the same trip but in reverse stopping only once for the fast food breakfast and potty breakfast. One tank kof gas and we were back in Salt Lake by 10:30. We got a nap and now trying to get things back to normal. THE TRIP IS DONE. THE REUNION IS OVER for this year.

Big thanks goes out to my Brother Paul who hosted the event at his new mega home. We usually have the event at a park but Paul hosted and worked great. His home is huge. The place is not too wheelchair accessible but it's summer and I was able to stay out side. Paul put together some makeshift ramps and I was in the house once and the place is a palace. It was better that I stay out side., I am a destroyer of walls.

Brat incident one: When we got there I found out the menu was to be fried chicken ordered from a local market or something. the chicken was excellent, I might add but to me a family reunion is a cook out, hamburger and hot dogs. Hamburgers and hotdogs is was I am used to. Actually, if we had gotten there a day earlier there was a cook out and Paul had bbqed a ton such meats. Luckily for me they had meats left over and they BBQed some for me—and others whos stepped forward indicating they wished the traditional fare.

Brat incident two:One of the people at the reunion had a birthday today and a beautiful chocolate had been made for this person. The cake was brought out and paraded round to be admired. As the event got nearer and nearer it's end I began to realize that unless someone made some noise the cake was not going to be cut or served. I made a couple of comments and soon it was out that the old guy wanted some cake and cake was served. The cake was good too. I am such a brat.:)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Impending Doom

So instead of leaving for Boise today as I would have liked we are sitting home going through black plastic bags of “winter” clothes trying to figure out which to keep and which to throw out We are over ridden with stuff! Mostly clothes but we have lots of other junk too. We just hold on and hold on and hold on. We did pretty good we have three plastic bags, maybe more sitting by the front door to be taken out to the van. Dianne is jubilant saying we have gotten rid of said bags as they sit by the door. Me, I will not count said bags until I have driven up to Good Will or Deseret Industries ans have their little non English speaking, indentured servant open the back doors and throw said plastic bags out of the van and on to the heap of recyclables.

I have called the motel twice to be sure that the motel has us listed as checking in tomorrow. The plan now is to rise about three a.m. Douche off and head North, and hopefully 355 miles and minutes later we will be in Meridian. The frontdesk person we contacted this morning at the Motel 6, sounded harried and asked that we call back—said she was checking in the entire soccer team. Dianne was red to crawl down the clerk's throat over the phone, but I was ever compliant and broke the connection. Dianne had the great idea to call the only other Motel 6 in the are and if we were not registered there we for sure at the other facility. We did and we were.

I wish I were not so encompassed with feeling of doom regarding this trip. /don't freak just yet. I always experience such feelings as my family functions. No specific reason except I lived with them most of my life. You see that's not fair because I always leave these events nostalgic, excited and happy that I took part. People for the most part behave themselves, granted early on in the experience the family breaks up int o camps. 10 kids and their respective extended family groups what do you expect, I call it clanning behavior. And because we see each other so little the Primaries have to get to know each other over again at ever meeting. Cell phone plans help a lot nowadays for those of us who user cell phones and have Million Minute Plans. But, I have the “dreads” just the same. So, I am going to be just fine. I have had the van serviced and the vehicle checks out. I have double checked the motel and we are OK there. I have paid my plastic down to “0” so we should be covered. We well be traveling in the early, early morning there should be no one else on the road. I am even taking an electrical kit: wire cutters, ends, fuses,electrical tape incase anything happens to my wheelchair lift...I'll force brother Carl to save me he is great that way. Carl is always saving my butt. I guess I am set. I may or may not bring the laptop. I don't know if I will post till I get back—so you may not here from me again till Monday have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Breakast in the Blue Tower

I must be getting excited about the upcoming trip to Boise. I out the door headed for train station a half hour early. I had the time so I thought I would stop a restaurants on the way in to grab a spot of breakfast . The whole morning adventure was weird though; like leaving that half hour early set me in a new reality, a parallel universe. Of course the driver who stopped for me at my home stop was no one I knew. This was a little strange but not too. You ride the service long enough you get the feeling you know all the train drivers—there is not that many of them. But she was cool got me into the Galivan Station where I jumped off .

There is a little corner restaurant a block South of the Galvan station. It is not a fancy place by any stretch but I have dined there before and it's good; very blue color but inexpensive and quick. But I had noticed a fairly new place in the blue tower called the Panache Cafe and I wondered and have wanted try the place and this morning would be a good time to do so. The local CBS affiliate is located in the ground floor of the blue tower,KUTV and the Panache looks like it services the workers of the station as well as all the others in the tower.

The Panache is located on the second floor of the building and opens at 7:00 am. I has a couple minutes to explore. I have done a couple of shows in this building before but I am always amazed at the space and offerings of the place. Some high end clothes shops, barbershop ans salon( of course) and lots of pictures of local celebs adorned the halls of the foyer. I happen to cross a building employee while I was waiting for the elevator and asked her if she had been to the eater. She said they had a fairly economical offering for breakfast, muffins, toast, breakfast burritos and a full breakfast under $5.00. cool I was offer. This is where things get a little strange.

I got back to the Panache a little after 7:00. Open an airy and well lit. One can dine in and there is outside dining on the balcony over looking Main Street. The place was oddly vacant though. Finally a post adolescent showed up. Gum chewing, short haired attired blue jeans and a black T with “:Panache Cafe” written across the chest or in this case, breasts. I still had a strange feeling however, difficult ti describe. A women was also in the restaurant and asked if I was ordering and I waved her ahead—she looked like she had somewhere to be . I was standing right behind her and she explained what she wanted twice and and Black T still had trouble following the order. Coffee and two breakfast burritos. Then when the women paid the girl Black T did not give any change back so the foot tapping lady reminded Black T who still looked in a fog and the foot tapper raised her voice Black T actually got a pencil and paper and did the math and eventually gave the Foot tapper change and Foottapper quietly raged from the restaurant. The whole event was just weird. I ordered my breakfast to stay and when the meal was ordered up the meal was in a to go container. Black T had written the order correctly and the kitchen folk had messed up.

The train was one of the old trains from the university route. Again, when the driver got out to board me it was one I had never seen before. He let me on the train but did not acknowledge me, again a little thing but weird. He also did not ask me where I wanted to get off. The drivers always ask you that so they can let you off when your stop comes. The older trains do not have a huge window in the middle of the door to the trains engineer section. The older trains have a small window maybe about six inches square that the driver has to slid a door back to look out into the train. He would quickly slid the door back every stop to the end of the line and peer into the train. The driver may have been looking at me it was difficult to tell but wie4rd behavior all the same. Again, I had the unworldly feeling again too. I think Black T and Train driver were “low-people” as in strange underlings doing dark things for the Crimson King. And the Blue Tower a metaphor for the Black Tower. I maybe reading much Stephen King

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No Vacancy


I have percerverated very little regarding this years family reunion. Remember last year? I just `could not let the event alone. I am stressing the event but not barely as much as last. The event is in Boise this year actually at my little brother's place. Boise is about 6 hours north of where I live now. The actual reunion is Saturday but for some reason I took off Thursday and Friday yet I only booked rooms for Friday and Saturday nights.?!! There just happens to be a regional soccer tournament in Boise the same weekend so there were no rooms available for Thursday night. I am so dumb. I am just do not know what I was thinking.

The whole idea of getting rooms at motels and hotels when visiting family is so foreign to me. When I was growing up and we did our annual northern migration to Canada: 1. We could not have afforded such a luxury and 2. the resident family would have been enraged to come as far as you did and not spend the time with them. Motelling just was not done in the 50's and 60's if you had family.

So now I have this extra day. I would be stupid to work Thursday just because I could not get a room. There are no rooms in Boise and surrounding area due to the tournament so what do I do? The mood has been long time coming but now I am in the traveling mood, I want to get out on the open road heading North. I even thought of calling my brother who's place the reunion is at. He just build this house. I have been told the place is huge. Infact I must insert that this brother is the only family member(parents included) who actually built a ramp to access his house when I visit. This of course was his old house not the new one. I called his this afternoon and and actually asked if we could spend the first night at his home. It seems he built all the bedrooms on the second floor. Keep in mind I am the family crip. So the barge in on family option is out. What now? So the reunion is at his house ans now there is a question of “Is the bathroom accessible???!!!” In fact he did the “ Let me talk it over with my wife and I'll call you right back.”

The conversation must have been grim, it was a good twenty minutes be fore he calls back. I pick the phone up on the third or fourth ring and met by guilt loaded silence and then he stammers his excuses for not being able to accommodate. I am OK, but I can tell he is just dieing. I try to let him off the hook by laughing the whole thing off and saying “It's OK, we'll just come down on Friday no problem.” Now I can sense he is near tears. He gives few more excuses before I put him out of his misery and and hang up.

I would still like to go up on Thursday and be able to spend some time in the old home town but we probably won't. But I sure got the event started on the right foot.f

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Quiet Fathers Day

I passed a quiet Fathers Day yesterday spending time on the computer and reading my Stephen King. I was pleased to have contact with all my kids except two—the ”twins” Things one and two. That’s OK I know everyone has major responsibilities of these “parent day” guilt generators. Brooks was over and presented me with the $20.00 gift card to Best Buy. The gift card is very much appreciated./ I am fortunate that Best buy is on the way over to the house. What I need to do though is encourage Brooks consider making the same gift card purchase art Barnes and Noble which lives in the same strip mall as Best Buy. Brooks used to do this, once in the summer for Fathers Day then again in the winter at Christmas time—a d sometimes for my birthday in February at my birthday. Getting a gift card at these point always guaranteed I would have something to read. Best Buy is always great for someone who enjoys electronics as do. We had a good visit ad enjoyed our moment when our orbits would meet for a couple of hours and then he was on his way.

Bridget and I intersected not long after Brooks left. Dianne had gone down for her nap a little while earlier and I was just signing on to the computer to do some writing. I was a bit surprised because I had thought Bridget, Gabe and Auni were gone for the entire weekend. We sat in the late spring heat under the shade of Chinese plum trees and enjoyed each other company promising to get together in the coming weeks.

Later on in the day Mark called and later came over and we went down to the back yard. Mark is totally focused on bringing our grass back. I had not been in the back for some time. Mark is also interested in making the back much more accessible to me and my wheelchairs. Mark has invested a lot of thought to this project and am welling to give him a shot. I was able see the back yard in an entirely new frame of reference. I plan to use the back yard more even now be for the renovations take place.

Michelle IMed late Saturday night and again on Sunday do deliver a great Fathers Day greeting. We Instant Message a lot, fairly regularly and she wished me a Grand father’s Day” too.

I appreciated hearing from each and every one. I kinda missed to hearing from the “twins” but I would have been more surprised if I had. I know James is always busy and I read on Charles’ MySpace page that he lost his brand new cell early on Saturday. I am sure Charles is still grieving.

When I was visiting my neighbors were having their Fathers Day get together out on their front yard. Lanae( Al wife) grew more and more instant that I join them in their activities. I felt a bit shy and I really needed and wanted to spend time with Mark. I eventually did go over when Mark left and spent an hour or so over their in their front yard feeling just like family. We have been very fortunate to have neighbors like Al and Lanae. They watch our for us and care for us in the “old way” of neighbors. Some snooping but a lot of support…canned jellies, cookies at Christmas, Zucchinis and tomatoes in season and just great over the fence gossip and discussion.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday Lost

It's6:50 a.m. I';m dressed and just waiting to get going.. It's day two of the Family Links Conference. Yesterdays duty was not too bad. I learned a great deal from the two who worked the table. I was pretty much just decoration yesterday afternoon and evening. For the Five Year Plan hearing meeting in the evening. I was however, able to sense the wave of opposition and possible stress which is going to rise up as my bosses position comes up for Interview.

Family Links just as the name implied is an organization made to help parents of kinds with developmental disabilities, advocate and support their kids in life. It also happens that advocacy, legislative awareness training for consumers with disabilities and their families is the goal our organization—except we put the emphasis on consumer. This has not always been the case. For many years my organization just supplied money to organizations like this group and similar others many times, being steered by government agencies to meet the agencies agenda, this is how I saw and see the history. We are talking big money for this small economy 100,000.00 or more. But the consumers were only being served indirectly if at all. Well, my boss came into town and really shook things up giving a lot of responsibility and power to consumers with developmental disabilities. Now the boss is leaving I am beginning to see the old players begin to stir as the new “PLUM” is being readied for the tablee.

Last night at the hearing there was a rumbling in the crowd of parents and their comments centered round the question would the Legislative Coalition be considered for funding. The Coalition was a large movement of parents of kids with disabilities and and some consumers with disabilities. The have been around for more then 20 vears in this area. I have watched parents come in, angry and and rough. The coalition channeled the anger and smoothed their edges, taught them how to talk, walk and present themselves as mini-influencer's of legislation=lobbyists. Soon the leaders were wearing slick suits, fancy hats and living by their blackberry's and cell phones. They became part of the institution. They lost their edge as they politicked and compromised and took direction from the very MEN they began their battles with. Their good people but they had been compromised. We stopped their main funding and now these good farmers and farmerettes want payback. And one might end up being my new boss.

Another long day of sitting and talking. Mostly uneventful—the lunch provided conference participants as well as as the exhibitors was a catered BBQ which was not bad except one serving area which meant a monstrously slow line, in the sun with out block but very tasty once you snaked to the end and cold you burger and dog. If one steps back far enough the event was pathetic more vendors then consumers or parents of consumer with disabilities. But you have to be there where ever “there” is. If you are there you are or your organization is not noticed per se but if you do not show up you have committed a major organizational insult. You really cannot win.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Today is a long day

Today is a long day for me. I will be working late at the
Family Links conference. The conference will actually be held in my neighborhood high school so going home will not be a problem. I think I will be able to leave the conference at 7:00 pm this evening, but that still makes for a long day.

The conference will have an Information Hall, and this is where I come in. My partner, Cecilia and are “manning” an information table at this operation today and tomorrow. We will be giving away tablets, pencils, key chain and mini-flash lights. In hope of getting people to stop by our table and we can answer their questions on disability. The conference is also a great time to catch up with other players in the local disability market. I have made a lot of friends over the years and these information fairs seems to be the only time we get together. So this duty is light duty at best and the duty is also fun because of linking up with some old friends. There is a couple of meals provided but these are usually cold sandwiches so I may go out to eat and let someone else have my box lunch.

I had a message on my answering machine this morning—is was my cousin, Scott, the guy who works on my van. The van is done. I am going to pick the vehicle up round lunchtime. The cost is more then I had anticipated when I dropped the van off on Monday $700.00, but I guess we will feel and be safer when we travel next week driving up to Boise for the family reunion. New plugs, points, distributor, filters, and plugging a couple of leaks the cost adds up quickly. I will survive. Well, be good to have the van for the weekend though because I have to breakdown the table tomorrow night and I was not quite sure how I was going to get the stuff back to the office. This is good because this weekend will allow me to put some miles on the vehicles to see that the van is doing everything it needs to be before my trip on Thursday. If something drips or pops this weekend I can get the vehicle in to Scott on Monday. So I am jumping the bus at lunch and heading down to Murray to pick up the van.

I know I have bitched about this before but it just irks me no end that ablebodied idiots always use the only wheelchair accessible whatever when ever where ever. I could not believe it. I got off the train this morning at the end of the line at the Deltas Center. They are setting up for some function going on there this week and management already had the porta-potties in place. A long row of potties and a large “wheelchair accessible” unit on the end. So, there I am a little after 7:00 a.m., Delta Center, downtown Salt Lake City and I need to pee. So, I figure “Hey” a real porta-pottie which I can get in---too cool… so I yank on the door…nothing happens, I try it again, and nothing happens, again. Great I think to myself—what a cruel thing to do is to live a row of bathrooms out in public and lock them. I mildly cursed and hit the door and was in the process of backing up when I hear “ I’m in here” “Oh,” I said and took off for my office.. Typical though, ten damn porta-potties to choose and this homeless guy (I m assuming) is sleeping ( also I am assuming) is hold up in the only accessible unit available. Some things never change.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Performance Now

I missed the ILC (Independent Living Center) summer picnic today, mostly due to my own laziness. The excuse I am using when I am asked “why were you mat the picnic” is that “my van is still in the shop” which the van is. I really was planning on attending the annual event because I was sure my van would be out of the shop. True, I am Mr. Public Transit—and any other day I would have jumped at the excuse to extricate me from the office to attend BBQ held at the park affectionately named “the Duck Park” from the masses of fowl wild and other wise which tend to congregate at the pavilion located in the rear of the park the Independent Living Center always uses. Today, how ever is also my Performance Evaluation. That point in time during the year when you meet with your supervisor to assess how you have executed your position during the past year. I did not know they picnic was today when elected the time slot 2-4, today. I just did not have time to do both today. Actually could have made the cross town trip but I don’t need any additional stress on PE day.

I think I am going to be. I m sure I will get ragged a little but that’s what the performance eval is all about. Balance what you have done well with what you need to “grow” with and get the event past you so you can get back to your regular life. This year might b e a little different since the boss is leaving. Her leaving means the PE could go either way. It could be extremely tough or very casual. She is a “goner”, less then a month before she is gone to her new position on the East coast. She has always been fair so I am sure I will get what I deserve. I usually get “superior “ or “Good” markings. This of course is good enough to keep me in this position for another year and that is really all that I want. I really don’t care that much as to the COLA or what every they’re calling raises this year. I am much more interested in insurance coverage and benefits and a steady check the increasing the salary.

And that is that. I just exited the Evaluation. I did an overall “Exceptional”. I am in the game for another year. I usually come away from these experiences refreshed( as I did this evaluation) vowing to change and redirect my energies to new and lofty goals. This “rebirth” lasts usually to the end of the week the performance evaluation was preformed but then I start getting lax. Maybe not this time though.

So its done for another year, and I know the boss was zooming the evaluation, which is ok by me. We actually talked a lot about her coming separation with her job and the state and what will happen. She needs some assurances that things she has worked so hard to put in place continue to stay in place on her exit. So I am “Exceptional” But you knew that already…”wink”.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006



I stopped at the German bakery this morning on the way into work. I do this from time to time to get a couple of Kaisers or hard rolls to make a sandwich out of at lunch time. I do this once or twice a month. The place I go is not wheelchair accessible; the bakery is built in an older quasi-Victorian house with a number of steps going up to the building’s entrance. There is front window which opens out to the front of the building and I usually sit in front of the window waving my arms or throwing stuff at the window until I can get the attention of staff Many times I trap a customer going into the bakery and ask them to send an employee out to take my order. This always works.

In defense of the management of this little bakery they have tried to work with me. The owner has even gone so far as to placing a battery operated button device along the walk to the front door that, supposedly when pressed will notify the people on the inside that someone on the out side need assistance. A major problem is this bakery is very close to the homeless shelter and is on a path that many homeless and hobo types travel. So even when the bell is out the bell button either get stolen or destroyed. So I patiently wait and wave.

The city has recently targeted this part of downtown as a “bootstrap” renovation area. The bakery had been next to an abandoned theater and hotel which was raised last Fall. So for the first time I have been able to motor my chair to the back porch of the bakery where, I learned, the place the hot breads and rolls to cool. I was able to get of the bakers to let the “front help” know I was out in front and needed service. I rolled back to the front and soon Maxine was out to take my order. I had not seen ”Max” for the longest time. Maxine is maybe just a little older then I am—she is first generation German and is very nice. I learned that she has just returned to work following a medical leave. She had been gone ,maybe , six weeks. I has stopped in a couple of times got my rolls and thought I just had just missed Maxine. Maxine has spoiled me. When I asked for 2 Kaisers she would also send out something extra—at no charge: a German sweet roll of some sort, hot cross bun, huge crescent –something always very good.

I suppose Maxine is just one of those great people who are “out there”. She just treats everyone nice. Maybe she is treating me special so I will not launch an ADA complaint because I cannot enter the bakery like able bodied folks. If so it works I am not going to file a complaint besides there covered anyway and Vosen Bakery has done a reasonable accommodation—there could be a better solution but they will not get a complaint from me. This morning when I got to work, had brewed coffee and finally transferred to my manual wheelchair not only the two Kaisers as requested but also two other kinds of hard rolls and two huge sweet rolls. I shared with the office. Welcome back Max and thanks for everything!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Detonation Plus

Ok! It’s Tuesday afternoon and I know I promised. The huge secrete is my boss resigned from her post this afternoon. This of course starts a “ripple” effect for the office and for me. It’s not that I am going t miss this boss, although I must admit that she has been one of the better bosses I have had. She has been my supervisor for the past five years. We understand each other we get along ok. What more can you want fro m a working relationship? Now she is going, all the way to N.J. She will be gone by the 15th of July. In fact after next week she is just really going to be I and out of the office. The grapevine has already started churning out rumors and such. The best rumor thus is they( Council) is going to establish an interim director: a director like person to handle the day to day events of the office until the council interviews meets and confirms a replacement. This replacing exercise could go into September. The Council is going to wage a National search but I think, I hope the council will hire from with in the local office. I hope all this national talk is just formality. We kind of have an associate director—someone who is in charge when the boss is gone. She is a very unique individual but one I respect, like and could work for. I do not know if the council will go for her but it might happen.

So after the bomb dropped and the annual meeting closed I booked back to the office. It’s the beginning of the end. Nothing else is going to really happen in office today. In fact the resigning boss just left the fort to get her drivers license. My co-worker split an hour ago and I can hear the folks in the front offices just yammering away. It’s like the day of the Christmas play at school. Even if the play was at 10:00 am and over by 12:00 nothing else is done all day. They might as well turn the students and let the teachers Smoke in the hallways. Nothing is going to get done till tomorrow. In our case I bet nothing substantial happens till September. If the AD (associate Director) gets interim then maybe things will move forward—still at a slower pace until the deed is official. I am answering phones and addressing email questions. It’s quiet back here and the air conditioning is actually working and the cool is welcome, even to me. The clouds of an afternoon storm have moved in making the space outside my window dark and sort of welcoming. NPR has started their afternoon broadcast of All Things Considered that means it’s three o Clock. That means I can make it to the end of the day maybe to the end of the week now. The boss has made her announcement and the announcement did cause a stir in the audience. My boss was not that well liked in the community, primary because she did catalyze change and this is good. I think the boss scared the snot out of a lot of the “old guard” I think I have seen change, good change actually begin to happen. How long this change will continue once the force is removed, who knows? We can only hope those left—who believed like her that the consumer with a disability should have as many choices as possible and the right to make them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Waiting for Five

I started out today with a fairly high stress index.
I had IOTI (Inter-agency Outreach Training Initiative) that organization which meets through out the year to try to give money to projects or program who have developed a proposal to met some unmet of folks with disabilities in the state. IOTI is an OK project, a couple of free meals through out the year and lots of reading.

Today is the boss first day back in the office after being out of the office for more then two weeks. I live in a constant state of confusion and I thought my annual job review was this afternoon when in fact the review is this coming Thursday, 2-4. Anyway because I was confused and thought the review was this afternoon pluss the fact that Monday is our weekly staff meeting. On regular Mondays staff meetings can linger on and on and since the boss has been out for weeks , I decided to excuse myself from IOTI rather then have to rush allover the city trying to get back to the office in time for my evaluation. I elected to leave my van at home and came in on the train. The temps will be in the 90’s today and that is the last thing I want is to have to suffer drive-time locked in a box without air conditioning.

So I get to the office and find that infact my performance eval is on Thursday and I do not have my van. I really want to bail on the meeting but I no longer have an excuse. I have a hard time saying I am going to do something then not doing it. It’s the guilt thing, I just do not do well with guilt. So, I called the City Transit Authority found the bus which would get me to a half a block of the Buffmire Building and I was gone.

The cool of the morning still lingered as I crossed 3rd west it would get hot today but I had my hat a full battery charge and determination to make this meeting on time. I knew I was crowding the window of time I had before the bus was supposed to be there. I could actually wait for the next bus cycle ((30) minutes ) ) and still make the meeting. Less then five minutes however, a bus pulled up deployed it’s lift and I boarded as easy as that. I got to the meeting with 30 minutes to spare but I had forgotten my STEPHEN KING. I wondered round the building visiting people and office I know there at the Buffimire and got some valuable Out-reach in.

So what started out as a possible day of stress for the beginning of the work week has ended up as a comfortable, and somewhat productive “easing” back into work. My partner had to leave as soon as I got back to the office and so I am back in the back all alone waiting for 5:00.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Live for the Moment

I have told you before but I am a quad, a quadriplegic. I am basically paralyzed from the neck down. I am a lucky quad however, I broke my neck but I did not sever my spinal cord. I Just pinched and bruised the cord. I can move my arms and sort of use my hands. I get by and for that I a thankful. I can dress myself, I can drive my van and I can do every thing I need to do at this point in time. As I age life gets more an more difficult and some time soon I am afraid I am going to require a lot more personal attention. But now I get by. Dianne help me a lot but I am still pretty independent. I raced yesterday “assisted” division=power wheelchairs. This is kind of joke but still fun. You take off with the pack of other runners and sort of just race by yourself after everyone passes you by…even the little kids. But you get the feeling of racing. The checkpoint people offer you bottles of water as you pass their stations and ask if you are doing ok. This all maintains the illusion you are really racing. The joystick on my power chair is wearing me out. Even at the finish line you are “funneled” down into a single racer corridor and everyone screams and on of the race chicks runs up and rips the number tag off you race number and screams the time in your ear like I am going to remember it. Actually there is another official somewhere who documents the time. Then you are directed to a “cool down” area where the real racers are walking off the race cooling down. They are again passing bottles of water and oranges. I grab my water and get a couple of oranges and get the hell out of the way.

I apologize but I did not intend to bore you with these details of the race- but I like it so it stays. What I started to say was that the image is one of a pack of paras (paraplegics) those folks who damage their spines lower then we quads. The have normal upper body strength actually a lot of strength. Their legs don’t work…there are lots of other things which don’t work but mainly their legs Paras can do amazing things but mostly paras seem to do sports. There is something about an American para, buffed out, sitting in his rigid frame chair, squinting into the setting sun that the American able bodied public loves to look at or be apart of.
Anyway, I have noticed in my years of being disabled that para like to hang in packs. Probably a survival technique you know like covered wagons. If you are attacked “circle up”. Hey, I think they have a point and it’s a good idea. Paras could actually put up a good fight and they would go don fighting. Not us quads though. We have been through the winger we are a bit more realistic. Natural selections says in a crises we quads will be the first to go. I think we learned a great lesson from Katrina and other natural disasters: live for the moment.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

just Another Race.

I am 286

This is the end of a very long day most of which has been in the sun. I did the annual UILC race this morning. Not bad as races go. I was again chagrinned at how slow my power chair. This year I did not even place in the finals. Oh well, I may not be fast but I sure can climb hills if I need to. It as good to go to the race though. It’s a time when I am surrounded by people I work with for nearly 15 years. The race is also a time when I can around a group folks with disabilities similar to mine. People who think like I do and for the most part believe what I do as far a Independent Living goes. I think its weird that in the office I am in now there really no one else with a disability. The folks we serve are people with disabilities but their disabilities are developmental. For the most part these folks are what the “world” refers to as “mentally retarded’ mentally challenged, which in many ways is just as crass.

I think I finished the race under 40 minutes but then you have to wait for everyone else to come in. Then there are the stragglers then there are the awards—finger in throat unless of course you win. Then they give out the other prizes. Items which have been donated. Thy had some pretty good item this year: dinners for two, movie tickets, massages and the coveted trip to the local gambling Mecca just two hours west, over the State line in Nevada. I of course did not win anything. But I stayed to the end to be a good sport. I have a plan though to make things different next year. Starting Monday I a going to start contacting various durable medical venders in the area pitching them the idea that if they supply a chair and “soup” it up with bigger faster motors I will race in the events under their logo. This would be fun. I currently just do one race a year but there are actually three other round the state that I could conceivably compete in. I would also be repping my office since I like to think I am the State center for used assistive technology. I really think this could be very cool.

The rest of the day was spent at the park with Dianne and my granddaughter Auni.
We had the mandatory picnic provided by KFC ; expensive but way less hassle then doing the picnic yourself. The temperature was just right with a cool breeze but more sun lots of sun and I did not wear my hat! The spring runoff had flooded the playground area and the kids were up to their kneecaps in water and woodchips. Auni found a friend after a while and wallowed in the chips, water and the mud. Dianne and I read and kept an eye on Auni and enjoyed our afternoon. I am exhausted and I think I will sleep well tonight. Here are some images of the race.


Friday, June 09, 2006

The Winds of Change

I wish I could tell you. But, I have astounding news but have been sworn to secrecy by my office mate who got the news from another office mate who supposedly got the information from the source. In an office our side this information is monumental, huge earth shattering. The stone into a pond which could start a ripple effect which could have ramifications Statewide. I really cannot tell you until Monday.

Change. Everything again is changing. Does not the world know how difficult change is for someone my age ?! I am comfortable back here in the office closest to the building end. A view of the seasons out my window and a view of the dumpster. I see various office lackeys from all over the building stop outside my window, heft the container of refuse onto their should and over the edge of the dumpster and the world just keeps on spinning. But the Boss is planning to “drop a bomb” on Monday morning during staff meeting which will quite possibly stop the world from spinning …least wise the world I know it. Well, not really stop turning, actually given the metaphor the world WOULD start spinning again after just a brief pause, and then the world just move on.

So the mice are dancing round what they perceive is the uncovered cheese on the kitchen table. They think life is going to get easier with the change ahead, that the days will be sweeter, the nights softer and the weekends longer. Ho! I shall be surprised. What my 55 years have taught me and taught me well is the mote things change the more they stay the same—I know, cliché but true. Mark my words the mice will be surprised after they feign shock at Monday mornings staff meeting and one staff member knuckles with the other staff member( behind the closed doors of the work room) where no one will see them. I just gravitate back to my corner office in the back and shake my head and wait for the winds of change to begin their relentless blow. The winds will blow and agitate and there will be some long faces, a party, a speech then a slight shift in power then a greater shift in power and a new dance partner then things will slowly settle back into a routine and the change will be complete and I shall still be here. I am the survivor I will always still be here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What's the Etiquette ?

Hey, where did all the bloggers go? I follow three or four blogs every day—I have gotten used to them. When I first started reading blogs these bloggers seemed to be updated every day-day in and day out. All of the sudden, however, all these writers have taken a holiday. The one writer theUnderWeardrawer is written by a young doc, who had a child about a year ago. So, she is busy I understand that and I can accept that she has a busy life I guess I am just kind of going through a little withdrawal. There was another long time blogger who has decided that she has had enough and has signed off…for now and yet another steady writer’s whole page went down and nothing else has been written.

I have been blogging now maybe two years and the only time I have skipped a couple of days was when I was traveling and did not have access to the INTERNET. I do appreciate the one blogger who indicated that she was taking a break…at least I knew what she was doing and did not worry about what had happened to her.

Family blogs are different—there if you read something shocking or questionable then you can jump on the horn and corner the writer to find out exactly what they meant. My Shellie for instance write a couple of posts a week or a post every couple of weeks either way I love it when she does write. Same with the boys I love it when they write something but I also know where they live and have their numbers and can “strike” should I need to. Interestingly enough I was called by my little brother last night about something I posted on the family blog back on Sunday. I had called my mom, the usual Sunday night call. Bare in mind to those who don’t know my mom is like 95 years old living with my Aunt and Uncle living in quasi rural Utah. Anyway when I called her she sounded bad, mom sounded like she was about to die. I thought it was her time. So, when I was updating my page on the family blog I mentioned that family members who had anything nto say to mom better do it soon or loose the opportunity. I sort of wondered about this when I posed the message but I still feel strongly that the bro and sis who care need to be calling here. Well, the following Monday she went to her doc and he really helped her. And when my brother called mom she was sounding much better. I could tell though, my brother may have thought I was being a little too light minded about this whole thing.

So I wandered a little bit…I just wonder about blogs who end abruptly. Is there a protocol to ending your blog so we owe anything to our readers? I mean I have 8 readers and most of those I have phone numbers for and I would not abruptly end the exercise with out some kind of explanation.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Truth Justice and the American Way

I had a lunch appointment with my buddy Duane today.
He could not make it and called be about an hour
before to advise me that he would not be able to keep
the appointment. I cannot say that I am surprised.
This is about the fifth time we have had to cancel our
appointment. I am beginning to think I have bad
breath or something. I mean, I know this guy is
busy, he is a Deputy Director of some state office
but I thought these hot shots hand more control over
their time the Duane seems to.

But Duane’s a good guy and I have learned a lot from
him not only in how state politics work at the “higher
levels” but how to manage your state career. I first
met Duane when I was working as a resource coordinator
for the local independent living center. Duane was
director of project affiliated with the local
rehabilitation program. Duane tended to the young,
“shave your head” plus( insert the appropriate
expensive sun glasses) tough guy administrator. He
played the part so well he forgot that he actually
worked for rehabilitation and really started pushing
the agenda of people with disabilities and
specifically independent living. I think Duane got
caught in the cross fire of an organizational
firefight. I am not sure what really happened but all
the sudden my man was resigning from his I.L. post via
the state rehabilitation office. Very interesting. I
was actually surprised to see how much power the guy

I got to know him right after he started showing up at
the ILC to meet with administration. He rest of the
staff seemed to associate him with power-I just could
not see it. I just happened to be chair of a
committee he sat on regarding assistive technology.
We now could justify lunch and we started having our
lunch dates. I was fascinated at how “the other half”
lives and works. As a state hot shot he made real
money, real stress and real dreams. His world was
complicated filled with god guys and bad guys. I am
disabled so I think I was sort of neutral in Duane’s
view of the world. The fact that I sort of kept
rattling his cage I think intrigued him. So, later
when something did happen in the lofty battlefields of
administration and this young prince saw fit to take
his leave I thought this would be the end of our
relationship. Well, not so. I crossed his path a few
months after he had dropped of the “radar”. Wow, in
the new position he has real power, real quotes in the
local press and “news at nine” opps. Duane is the
same old Duane he is a bit of a maverick at the level
of government he serves. He is a sucker for the
“little guy”. I think he sees himself as a cross
between Bogart and Bond and as protector of those who
cannot protect themselves. If he can stand the “soup”
I see Duane rising even higher in local government. I
do not know if this is necessarily good but I expect
his onboard moral compass will click in lead him away
from organized politics, back to the real Duane, a
black bandanna wearing, individualist seeking truth,
justice and the American way

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy birthday Bridg

Happy birthday Bridget before I go any further I just wish to let you know that I love you. I know you are unsure in my feelings for you but just for the record I do love you. I want you to know that and to know I will always love you.

I have always loved our unique relationship—you , my the first born daughter, even though you did not start out life with me as your dad, have always had a special ,place in my heart. We always seemed to be on the cutting edge of something, music, cooking dancing and vehicular accidents. I still cannot believe we got cited for the accident on the way to high school ten years ago. Did I ever tell you how much I appreciated all the time you spent at the office with me in ‘the old days’ at the good UILC. You helped me with the Wasatch Scope, the Neighbor Fair and the annual race.

I loved having you as my teenage daughter you always had something going on something exciting. You were always cool. Defending your brother from the neighborhood “big boy” doing the latest dance in front of the stereo or spending hours infront of the same stereo mastering one more tape for a gift or just an offering for your other dad. Soccer practice and soccer games as well as softball, Sunday mornings at the Tab or just cruising in the Caddy in snow storms we always seem to have a great time.

I missed you that fateful summer when you did not return from vacation with your dad. I was not surprised though I guess you had to go to grow. I never saw you as my carefree single Bridget again. Marriage and a grand daughter, marriage changes everything—I don’t care what anyone says. A dads relations ship changes or morphs with the daughter when marriage is added to thee equation—sharing that person with another guy is always awkward if not just strange. But letting go is part of the dance. But you gave us Anakah our first grand child not only did you present us with Anakah but you let us experience her first year or so right in our house. That was great watching her grow and watching you mother, watching you grow and enter into your next life stage.

So, we are now into the next phase. You and Gabe live a few blocks away, we see you on weekends and sometimes more often. Holidays and birthdays cycle through our lives. Work, play, daycare, medical appointments family integration, inlaws, steps, reals and pets passing into to the next life all leave a devastating imprint on the heart and the mind. I am glad you are slowing down—smell the roses, forget the make-up once in a while you are beautiful just as you are. Keep asking your questions, you have so many questions, keep testing keep asking and I will try to keep passing the tests and knowing the answers. Just know you are loved…

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mr. Skill Drill I Presume

For one reason or another I have not been able to use my wood shop for three years. My wood shop is in my garage and my garage has been stuffed with all kinds of family stuff. Earlier this year Dianne and Mark A. have been cleaning out the garage, rearranging, throwing stuff away and generally cleaning the area. Little by little, like water receding my work area has surfaced. Table saw, wood lathe, chisels and wood bench are now reachable by an old guy in a wheelchair.

Now, the wood working area is generally open, however, there are still pockets of in-access. I have a drill which I dearly love. The drill is a inexpensive Sears electric drill the kind you plug in. I have a number of battery operated drills I just do like to use them for my wood working projects. These drills just deplete their energy too quickly. This drill finally surfaced yesterday. Mark and Jasmine were over yesterday and we were poking round the garage and sure enough came across my canvas tool bag and there was my drill.

It’s funny how just a insignificant thing often blocks great works. I make hooks. I have mentioned my hooks a number of times in various posts but I cannot see that I have ever really explained what the hooks are and how I make them. My hooks are considered “low-tech” assistive technology. Low-tech usually means something inexpensive, non electrical and easily understood and used.

I first started making hooks when I had easy access to literally tons of oak scrap thrown away from a furniture mill not far my old office. This scrap consisted of the end cuts” pieces of wood one to two inches wide and anywhere from three to five fee long, usually tapering off as the miller “trued “ up the main piece. I found if I got the larger pieces of scrap I could usually get a one inch by one inch piece several feet long. I got a wood lather and turned the pieces to “rounds” an drilled a quarter inch hole in the center of the shaft and then twisted a bicycle hook into the shaft. I like using the oak much better then pine other lighter grained wood. My oak hooks break far less then the others.

The truth of the matter is hooks are the only things I can make, well hooks and firewood. Everything else I have tried has been disastrous. If all I can ever make are that is quite alright. I use my hooks everyday and I know others who totally believe in their hooks too. I use my hooks for everything from reaching my wheelchair when I am in the shower to getting clothes from out of the washing machine to pulling things off the top shelves at the market.

So, with finding my drill, I am back in the hook making business, I still cannot locate my ¼ inch spade but I can use just a regular drill bit until I can get to sears and pick up another spade. I still have other items I need t find in my garage like my orbiter hand sander but these will come. I still nee a 220 line ran out to the garage and a whole lot better lighting system. But for now I am happy to just have a garage with a wood shop to go too when I want to unwind.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Slugs and bugs and Long Legged Spiders.

I just searched my blog for the words glass and mirror (s) and had a couple of hits but nothing about the glass I have been hording for some time. I pass through a small industrial “villiage” on my way up to the train station. Early on I noticed outside one of the shops in this industrial area there were long narrow strips of mirror; anywhere from one inch to six inches wide and about four to five feet in length. The material was obvious garbage but I hated to see it go to waste. There was also window glass perched against the side of the building next to the trash barrel. I kept my eye on it day in and day out and one day the glass was gone. Trash day. “He who hesitates is lost.” This is one of the life lessons I am being forced to learn. I tend to “hesitate” one way or the other and I loose my opportunity.

Sure enough a week went by and there were more sparkling thin strips of mirror and window pane glass. This time as I inspected the find one of the folks from one of the other garages ambled over to say”Hi”. Turns out he is a neighbor. I explained my question and he indicated he would ask the owner if I could have the glass, adding that he was sure the glass was junk. When I got home from work the glass was neatly standing against my garage. He also left a note saying anytime glass was out there I could help myself and not make a mess. Any breakage, he expected to be swept up and put tin the barrel.

That summer I collected a lot of glass. Some really nice pieces of mirror and some nice regular glass. I have broke some but I have not done a thing with any of it...maybe until now. My youngest granddaughter is Jasmine. Jasmine is 21/2 and has a fascination with insects especially ants and spiders. Jasmine is at the stage where if she sees a ant crossing the walk she will squat, stick the end of her finger and then look a at the remains up close and personal. I have been thinking why not make an ant farm? I have the wood and glass to do a nice one. I am not sure quite how to go about such project but am sure we can do it. I spend some time searching the INTERNET. I am sure the plans I need are there. I even have a glass cutter I purchased right after I started collecting the mirror and window glass.

The hours of daylight continue grow we are still three weeks to the Summer Solstices That moment for me when Summer begins and ends. From that day forward it's all about the coming of winter...way off for sure but from that the sun starts her long trek back. For now the days are hot, long and I can see the days again through the eyes of the young.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

In the Blink of and Eye

Happy Birthday Mark. You. The first born have had, in my estimation, the hardest road to travel of the first. Not only were you the first you had to break in your parents to the art and science of child rearing. I have to say you were a perfect baby. We were in our last years of school when you came around. We staggered our classes so one parent would be in class and the other would be tending you. You spent a lot of time on my lap that first year. You adapted perfectly to a wheelchair using dad. I think the secret was to keep moving and keep placing new items in your field of vision—regardless, you were perfect, quiet and smiled all the time. The other students loved you and the professors put up with you. I think we got our degrees as a direct result of your good behavior. Thanks.

Your intelligence has always fascinated me. You seemed to understand things perfectly. Once you learned a skill you would catalog the skill and move on. You always have had little used for organized education. You were content to learn what you needed on your own. Music, mathematics,and other areas of problem solving seemed to come easy to you. I have always been proud of you and what you have accomplished. Again, I apologize for the struggle your life has been. I truly wish the life you were given had not as been difficult as it has. You have done well though.

I was proud of you when you earned your Tai kwon Do black belt. Was it Tuesday night or Thursday night. After work, driving across town to pick you up and over to the gym. Two hours of working out and stopping at Wendy's on the way home for a drink or chili or what ever. Being the eldest your job was usually to push me round during Kid Day and assist me when I needed .I always appreciated the help. I wish I had more resources at that point in in our lives. I hope I did nor embarrass you too much always stopping by Smith's meet department to scarf what ever samples were on the plate then over to RC Willies to get the free hot dogs served every Saturday for just dropping in. Still more then anything, if I could change one item of your childhood, I would have purchased you that video game or games so you would have had one you never had to take back to the video store. I don;'t think it was the inconvenience to you at having to return the video game I think your owning a video game was a deire of some sort of permanence to a very non-permanent life.

Mark I admire the man you have become. You have taken on the yoke of parenthood totally: time with the kids and family integration. You work hard at you employment and with the family. You have set a path and plan to get out of debt and create the wealth you will need to move into your next station in life. I admire that. I have never been as focused. I have truly appreciated your willingness help us with the yard and other areas of the house we have needed., This assist has meant a great deal to Dianne and myself.

So happy birthday, again, 30 years in a blink of an eye. Know that you are loved.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Drama Trauma

Once again I cannot believe the amount of tension and drama a small , six person office like mine can generate. Folks IMing like crazy, secrete meetings in secrete places in the office and the amount of ranker being generated. I cannot believe. Now, folks with major management issues are even contacting the board of directors. This is never good specially with a “rubber stamp board” and staff willing to take pop shots at administration. BOY, I learned along time ago this was almost a ticket to suicide, your suicide. I wish there were knights in shining armor, 7th Calvary riding to the rescue, these are delightful, illusions devoutly to be wish for; but the truth is your perceived bad guys are going to win, backed by State and all their legal power.

Truth is I like both camps and consider members of each my friends. I am caught directly in the middle. I might be a guy with a disability but I am no martyr. Martyrs eat poorly, dress worse and never get asked to the “Big Dance”. I smile at each group answer civilly and keep my head down and answer the phones. The wound festers with the big boss out of the office on vacation. She will still begone for another two weeks—and I understand her schedule. That's a long time for the “soup to boil.” and I don't see anyone adding water to the mess.

Most of the office does not know, but I am the office survivor. I hunkered down when the power changed hands and I am still here. I am the only staff left from the old regime. Surviving regime change may not necessarily be a good thing it only proves one's tenacity and possibly questions the survivors mental health. It's not that I even want to stay at this State Agency, it's just where I am right now. I am too comfortable for my own good, the money is not great but I get by and I am pretty much left alone. At 55 .45 years you lean: I learned change is not always good and forced change is worse. I also have the road-time to know that change can be good, even painful change can be good given that one survives the change in one form or another. I think the “system” cannot really be changed, “making a difference” is highly over rated and that body bags are cheap compared to what's inside. Staff are quickly forgotten and quickly replaced. State governments and private industry rarely remembers long, if at all, sacrifices, letters of merit and “Employee of the Month awards. Whe used as a defense managers just shrug their shoulders and quip “ we had to give it to someone”.

Bill Shakespeare was correct when he wrote, “Every exit is an entrance”. My office mates may will, clench their fists, take deep breath and sing their woes to State Admin. But don't be surprised if you are handed a blue slip for your efforts and convictions. But hey, maybe just maybe, that blue slip is really the E-ticket to the ride of your life.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

One More Night

It’s the first Thursday of the month which means it’s Russia night, I have my Sister-Cities meeting so I am having to pace myself. I will hang out after work for two hours until the meeting starts at 7:00. Why do these folks have to have a meeting which begins at 7:00? It’s usually just three or four of us now and I know we all could meet at anytime we want. I might bring up the idea of meeting during the day or right after work would even be better then waiting two hours.

Boy, I really hate this meeting. I just did a “search “this blog”’ and I think I bitch and moan about this meeting every month. How shallow does that make me? Truly the group is made of very interesting folks, some I feel are a little questionable and a little spooky but for the most part very interesting. Jennifer is the leader of this campaign. Jennifer is a middle-aging “raw raw girl”. You can see she was a beautiful cheerleader type—most likely married the varsity guy or head geek—I think it’s the head geek . It’s the head geek anymore who the cheerleaders go for more chance of scoring the big bucks—screw the gene pool you can always buy brilliant, happy Asian children straight from Red-China and still make a great contribution if making a contribution is important.

Jennifer is “Typ-A” all the way. She runs her own “travel business” for European tours. Her husband has some sort of hot shot job too though he is a bit shadowy. I think I have only met him once. There kids are in the process of being either grown and beginning to hatch out little” Jennifers” now—I think Jennifer has one grandchild at present . She is also a Mormon mom which adds all kinds of additional variables to the equation, so, add at least one kid on a full-time mission and possibly another graduating from somewhere. To all this include her gig as the “sister cities” chick. She has been over to Russia at least five times since I have known her. Jennifer is just always zooming.

Since all of what was formally the USSR is nothing but third world countries now, the Sister-City program works to bring about better living environments for these folks. Since we are a University community especially with a medical school we are constantly reaching out to help or cities increase skill levels and option for these Russian city health care professionals. So a couple of times a year we bring over Doc’s and other healthcare professionals to see our stuff and staff—usually once in the winter and once in the summer. We also send our docs, etc over there. I sense there is a lot of money trading hands in the background. I also sense that Jennifer’s travel business is somehow involved. I am on this committee because I studied Russian at university and when Jennifer contacted our office, a couple of years ago, regarding needing disability information and input I was the natural fit. Plus the fact my boss is a native born Britain who I still feel may have WWII issues I doubt she really wanted to be part of the committee. So, I have a Stephen King to read and maybe even find a good place for dinner and hope the meeting does not last too late—either way I’ll have enough over time hours to be off at 11:30 tomorrow.