Living and laughing with a disability - cerebral palsy; ordinary life, extraordinary circumstances.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jodie's wheels, like new!

Jodie has had her power chair for a year now.  When it has been working properly, it has made her life much easier.  When it has stalled continuously and has to be reset over and over...and when she has not been able to reset it know.

The last straw was a couple weeks ago when Jodie stalled out in the rain a couple blocks from work.  I had left early to drive Eric to school for open gym baseball practice.  As I blogged a couple weeks ago we took the power chair into the shop.  They had to order parts.  We kept Jodie's chair at work, since her workspace is all set up for her power chair.  We got a manual chair in the meantime to get Jodie to and from work.

The shop called yesterday to let us know the part for her power chair had come in.  Eric and I took it in this morning, and returned to get the chair at noon.

They replaced both the left and right motors. They updated something...I don't remember what they said.

Eric drove the power chair to our van and he could not believe how smooth it drove...and twice as fast!

Jodie has not tried it yet, but I am anxious to see how she does.  I can see her booking down the sidewalk, getting to work in half the time.

I know it sounds strange, but I kind of look forward to the day when I have my own power chair to book around in...using less energy for my disability so that I have more energy for my abilities.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Messing with a big kid...

I took Eric to the doctor the other.  He had what looked like an infected sliver that would not go away.

His regular doctor was not in, so he had a lady doctor attend him.  She was tall and she seemed surprised to see a kid that matched her height.

She diagnosed it as a wart.

There are two ways to get rid of wart - the slow, no pain, medicine way, and the short, painful, freezing off way.

Dry ice, wart falling of - it was a n brainer to Eric.

The doctor came back with a cup of smoking dry ice.  She had a smile on her face and a "I get to mess with a big kid!" look in her eye.

She dabbed Eric's wart with a swab of dry ice.  It was painful...I could tell.  Eric grimaced.  The doctor said that little kids scream and push her away when she does that to them.

When she was done, she threw the dry ice at the was gone in a puff of smoke.

Her smile and spirit reminded me of my Aunt Barb who was a great nurse.  Hi cousins Tiana and Travis...nice to have contact with you again.  Your mom is smiling down on us.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

To whom does the power chair belong?

Yesterday, Jodie and I took her power chair in to Providence home care services to be looked at.  She stalled out a couple blocks from work yesterday, and she has been stalling out a lot lately.

I unloaded Jodie from the van, we went into the "store front".  The gal behind the counter was very nice.  She called for a tech.  He came out.  Jodie transferred to a regular (non-wheel) seat in the waiting area.

The same tech came back out awhile later.  They had the power chair up on the rack.  From viewing the log from the onboard computer chip he could see that Jodie's chair had indeed been stalling out...a lot!  The diagnosis was that the left motor on the chair needs to be replaced.

It will take five to eight business days to get the part.  They offered Jodie a loaner chair, but with her experience with the loaner earlier this year, we figured dealing with Jodie's chair is a better option.  I will take her to work and to her meetings for busing it or long way ventures for Jodie for awhile.

Another tech brought Jodie's power chair out.  The gal behind the counter was on break.

The look on the tech's face was priceless! Like - "OMG! They are both disabled!  Whose chair is this?"  A deer in the headlights look - totally!

He came towards me with the power chair.  I do look like the more disabled doubt.

Jodie said, "Umm, it's my chair."

"Dang!" - I could see it in the tech's eyes.

Jodie and I had a good laugh...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bye Shadow

As I wrote before, we are a household of five dogs.

Make that four.

Shadow, one of Ma2's "Boys", was put down earlier today.

Shadow was a big, old, Lhaso Apso with attitude.  A grumpy old man whose growl frightened Vinny, a lab mix four times Shadow's size.

As a pup, Shadow had a near death experience.  A nylon stocking in his intestine was the culprit.

Shadow was a cudly dog, Ma2 says.  Jodie called him "Teddy Bear".   Shadow loved to play, he loved to tip over the small trash can we have by the computer table.  We have a plastic container--our bill box--Shadow would take whatever paper he could get out of there and eat it.  He even tried to eat the lid!

Jodie called Shadow the "Matriarch"  ("patriarch" woman!) because he carried himself in such a kingly manner around all the other dogs in the house.

My favorite memory of Shadow is how he would sit at my feet while I sit at the kitchen table.  He would get as close as he could to my feet and lay down.  I could never resist reaching down to pet the Big Guy.

Yesterday the vet said that diabetes was getting the best of Shadow.  Eleven years old.  Pain.  No guarantee that extreme measures would even help him.

Ma2 brought him home last night so we could say goodbye.  I got choked up this morning as I pet Shadow and said my goodbye.

Shadow is curled up in a much better place now.

Bye Shadow.

Skeeter, Shadow, and me

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It's too easy to focus on the empty half of the glass.  It takes an extra muscle in the heart to see that in everything there is something to be thankful for.

Eric has been to my office, seen the cube where I spend my days...has no desire to see it again.  He calls my job "the most boring job in the world!"   Policy, data, paperwork...he really is not that far off!  Yet, I have been doing the job for over a decade.  I am proficient at it.  And...I am employed!

I am thankful for that.

Jodie...Woman #1.  She works her tail off as an office manager with little thanks or appreciation.  This has been her first year in a wheelchair full time.  As long as the wheelchair is functioning right for her, this transition has been a big blessing for her as it has reduced pain and strain on her body.  Twenty years of marriage!

I am thankful for that.

My son.  Eric is 15 and towers over me now.  Great student.  Awesome pitcher who helped lead his team to state.    He has given two sermons at church this year.  Jodie and I have always known that Eric was a gift from God to bless this world.  Every day that is more apparent.

I am thankful for that.

Family.  A job for stepdad John after a twenty month search.  Jobs and college for my nieces and nephew. Everyone rallying around  SisD with her battle with the Big C...the boys picked up a giant 80 bags of cans donation to support her yesterday.   I had an awesome visit with my sister last month, and I have been seeing my mom and have been having great visits on Saturday mornings while Papa John teaches Eric to drive.  Life - good stuff and hard stuff mixed together.

I am thankful for that.

Women #1 thru guys know who you are...keeping me sane or insane.  Lunch dates, words of wisdom...keeping me together.

I am thankful for that.

My church family - Resurrection Lutheran.  Interim Pastor Craig an Pastor Karl.  Faithfully sharing with us words we need to here.  Sisters and brothers at church with words of encouragement.  News that Pastor Mike has accepted the call to come lead us.

I am thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is YOUR problem

Yesterday I got an email to problem solve a medical eligibility issue for one of our kiddos.

I use to do that kind of problem solving in my previous duties; not so much now.

I went to a coworker.  I kindly told her, "This is YOUR problem to deal with", as I showed her the e-mail outlining the problem.

She shot back, not missing a beat, "That name at the top of that page is YOUR name," pointing to the e-mail.  "This is YOUR problem to deal with!"

One of us was schooled.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SisD update

I had a request for a SisD update.

She had a good day today. She spent a week in the hospital.

Sores inside her because of an allergic reaction to treatment made her unable to hold food down. She was sent home yesterday continuing to have that problem. She needs another week of treatment before period of rest and then surgery.

 It's hard to share stuff when the silver lining is not apparent. The treatments seem to be working. God's strength is carrying SisD and the family through this.

 Your continued prayers are coveted and appreciated.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yes Virginia, the season is upon us...

Twelve thirty five.  I was savoring my leftover enchiladas.  My phone rang.  Not a number I was familiar with, but I answered it.

It was a mom wanting to get her three children on the list to get toys from the "Toys for Tot's" program.  Someone told her she had to go through DHS to get them on the list.  Our office is the closest DHS office to where she lives.

I am the point person for Toys for Tot's in our branch.  I basically pester the caseworkers by email to find out who will be responsible for getting the toys delivered to the kids after the toys are delivered to the branch.

Our office is a Child Welfare branch.  The toys we get are for foster kids or for kids in families with whom we have involvement.  This lady did not fit that criteria, but she did have a foodstamp case.  We can't help her at our branch, but I didn't tell her that.  I took her information.

I emailed the lady's information to the person who is coordinating Toys for Tots for the district.  We're not sure this family meets the criteria that has been set up for the program, but we are finding a way to make it work.

The desperation in the lady's voice kinda got to me.  Her kids, foster kids, all kids in need.  I know that Christmas is about way more than gifts under the tree.  To kids, though, Christmas is about gifts under the tree.  Gifts under the tree shows that somebody cares for them.

It does take a village to raise our kids.  Kids in need are all of our kids.

This holiday season, amid the hectic pace, amid the joy and celebration, amid the hopes, dreams and possible disappointments, find a way, ever be it so humble, to reach out to the village and help make a miracle happen.  


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sprinter discrimination!

Attn: Membership Records
600 SW Market  St.
Portland, OR  97201        

We have a 2006 Sprinter van.   My wife and I purchased it in June 2007 as a mobility van.   My wife has a power chair and I have a scooter.

A couple weeks ago we called for a tow and learned that you cannot tow Sprinters in Oregon.

Please cancel our membership #:  

  Thank you,

Troy Wittren

Thursday, November 04, 2010

SisD and the Big C

Jodie's sister, Denise, has cancer.  Rectal cancer.

I hate calling it the "Big C".  It seems to give cancer a respect that it does not deserve, when in fact it is a hideous, scary disease.

It has been barely a month since she found out that the sickness that she felt was not just food poisoning.  Her whole life has changed.

Chemo, radiation...and upcoming surgery.

Denise is a hairdresser at Salon Ambiance in Gresham.  Hairdressers are a tough breed.  On their feet all day. Talking with people all day.  Counselors who cut and do hair.

The chemo treatment has made it to where Denise cannot work at the moment.   The ladies at Salon Ambiance, along with family and friends, are rallying to help Denise get through this tough time.

There is a bottle and can drive to raise funds to help Denise get through this tough time.  Bring your bottles and cans:

Saturday, Nov. 6  10am-2pm
Salon Ambiance
 192 NE 2nd
Gresham, OR

You can also donate money at any US Bank branch under "Denise Downey Cancer Fund"

Denise's husband, Ken, walked Jodie down the aisle to me at our wedding 20 years ago.    He was a giant of a man.  Not just his 6'7" basketball stature, but two weeks after our wedding we learned that Ken had a brain tumor.  He fought it with grace for over four years.  Their son, Vance, was two when his dad passed in December 1994.

Vance is now 18.  Tough deal, real tough deal.

Doctors are optimistic that this battle will be won...but the battle is real and it must be fought.

Donate cans, bottles, or money if you feel you can.

Even more important though, I ask you to pray for Denise:

-release from pain
-remission from cancer
-financial needs met
-a place to stay that does not have stairs
-strength and grace for Denise and her son Vance

Thank you!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Johnnie is "too disabled" to fly

Too disabled to fly...totally bizarre!

US Airway employees wheeled inspirational speaker Johnnie Tuittel onto the plane and seat belted him into place. An agent then returned and wheeled him off the plane. He was told he was a danger to himself and others, that he would need a companion with him if he wanted to fly. : Grand Rapids : UPDATE: Grand Rapids man with cerebal palsy removed from US Airways flight

Johnnie is a professional motivational speaker. His website is extensive and impressive. He has even authored an acclaimed series of children adventure books, the Gun Lake Adventure series.

I have not flown since I was a kid. I was always treated well by the airlines. Even though I'm ambulatory (able to walk) I remember being wheeled from gate to gate by airline employees. I remember being wheeled onto a plane at least once. I remember boarding early, and I think I was first to get off. The staff on the plane was always very responsive to my needs. Jodie says she experienced the same when she use to fly.

Married 20 years and we have never flown anywhere together...I know...we are not that exciting.

The disturbing part of how Johnnie was handled is how the airline was able to perceive Johnnie as being "too disabled" and were able to act on that perception. Johnnie has flown an half million miles with no trouble.

I can't relate to Johnnie's recent experience on the plane, but I do know what it is like to be in and out of my comfort zone.   Most places I go to anymore are places I have been to before.  People know me, or at least have seen me before.

Occasionally I find myself in a situation around people who don't know who I am or what I'm about.  I get the looks - "why is he driving that bus...he can't hardly sign the receipt!"  And, many people assume that since I have cerebral palsy that I must also have a mental disability as well.

We all judge each is human nature.  Usually these judgement are in the form of a stare, or a comment.

To get kicked off a plane because of these kind of judgments...

I hope Johnnie's career soars with all this publicity...and I hope the airline has a wonderful opportunity to learn an important lesson.


Thursday, October 14, 2010


Thank you Dixie for sending this my way:

<a href="" target="_new" title="">Fantasy Fix: Waiver Wire</a>

Temper @ Terrible Palsy

Pint sized wisdom far greater than my own.

"Because" is the perfect answer.

If we quit doing the mental acrobats of trying to fit each other into our own frame of reference and learned to just accept each other, wouldn't the world be a better place.

Moo is six I believe. Truly a voice the world needs to hear!

Master C then asked me why Moo has cerebral palsy? He told me that he gets asked all the time at school.

“They shouldn’t be asking you,” Moo said. “They should be asking me.”

Sometimes it astounds me how grown up that little boy is. I asked Moo what he would say if he was asked that question.

He thought about it for a couple of seconds before replying, “Because.”

No. No other reason that just because.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I can't say "Thank you" enough!

I usually don't take my scooter into work, but today was so beautiful.  I took my scooter in so I could do a Safeway run at lunch.

After work I went to load my scooter into our Sprinter van.  I let the lift down, backed my scooter on, then I pressed the "up" button.  Hydraulic fluid started spraying out...not a good sign!

The lift would not go up...the more I tried, the more I was sprayed with hydraulic fluid.  Shannon was moving the state cars around for the parking lot re-striping.  She went and got Russ.  Brian, David and Vicky came out.  Connie offered to drive me home.

David called Triple A.  They don't provide towing for Sprinters...Jodie is going to call tomorrow. Why keep paying them if they can't tow us?

I tried to pump the lift up manually, but that requires there to be hydraulic fluid..something I did not know. We got the instructions for the lift out of the glove box.  There wasn't any other way to get the lift up.

I was worried about how late I would be hanging out waiting for help.  122nd & Powell...not the safest area at night.

Jodie was able to call the after hours emergency number of Performance Mobility.  A technician named Gene was only ten minutes away, cruising down 122nd.  In less than ten minutes Gene was there on his black motorcycle.

To get the lift up, Gene needed a couple strong guys.  Shannon went and got Russ and Ryan.  She also grabbed a cooler.  Gene carefully explained that they would need the lift the lift, slide the cooler under it to hold it off the ground a ways, get under the lift and lift it the rest of the way up.  When the lift was all the way up, they would need to push it upright into the van and not let could pop back out with great force.  Gene closed the door.

I need to get the van into the shop ASAP.  I'll be doing that after my dental appointment in the morning.  Sounds like it could take a week to get the parts in.  We might need to rent a van from them...not quite sure how all that is going to work out...

Thank you Vicky for wiping up the hydraulic fluid in the van...what a mess that was!

Incredible help from a incredible cast...Thank you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

122nd & Halsey

I drove by 122nd & Halsey twice on Monday and I didn't notice anything different. From Eric's school to work, and the reverse at night.

I must have been in such a zone on Monday. Returning to work after two weeks off. Emails to read, eligibility puzzles to solve, caseworkers to harass--how could I ever stay away from such fun for that long?

Yesterday, I noticed that the one corner on 122nd & Halsey was a pile of dirt. The old neighborhood Albertson's was was gone. Empty for years now, in its day it was a old style grocery store, not too big, not too a favorite comfortable shoe.

The coffee hut on the corner is gone...though I assume that will come back. Jodie and I go their sometimes while waiting for Eric at Sunday School. Great service, great coffee.

Anyway, this is what my flying fingers found on Google:

What's happening at the former Albertson's store at NE 122nd & Halsey? | Hazelwood Neighborhood Association

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to work...

Two weeks off work was nice...back to work today.

We took Eric to the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum.  Only $7 to get in,  lots of artifacts and historic photos.  I loved the old logging truck - it still runs and is used in parades.   We drove down to Hood River and watched the wind boarders...that was cool!

Jodie and I went down to Lincoln City for the night to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  We had a nice, accessible room at Ashley Suites.  We parked by the beach.  The highlight was Chinook Winds.  I was sitting by this one lady who kind of reminded me of Grandma D.  She was coaching me on what do do on the penny if I don't know how to lose money myself!  I got done to zero, and she put one of her bucks in.  I quickly turned that into five!

For me, the magic of the casino is watching the people.  All ages, all walks of life...all there to win big.  We are all different in how we look and act...but we are all the same in what we want.  We all want security, and  we see a shot of financial security.

Jodie and I each  won a small pot of security.  I played mine down to zero...we had two ribeye dinners on Jodie's at the wonderful restaurant upstairs at Chinook Winds.  Yes, I know who the smart one of this duo is...

During vacation, we took in the state fair.  We have been going every year since getting our scooters nine years ago.  Mom and John met us there this year.   Jodie, I and Eric only had to pay for one this year...almost as good of deal as last year when a worker called us through the side gate.  It happened to be on one of the few hot days we have had this summer.   Great onion rings, cool 3-d watching the farm kids trying to keep their goats quiet while they were being judged.  We found our favorite backpack vendor and got one for Eric for school.

I know...not hugely interesting.  But two weeks off work...priceless!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Twenty years, Woman, twenty years...

My brother Scott told me "Bro, you won't believe it!  People are lined up down the block trying to get in here!"

Yes, 20 years ago Jodie and I packed the church on 39th & Brooklyn, St. Paul Lutheran.  We went to school together when we were very young, but then did not see each other for 16 years.  It was a very brief courtship...we just knew we were going to get married.

September 8, 1990 was the huge day.  It was only dampened by the news that my best friend, Erick Norlin, could not make it out from St. Louis.  His head was full of tumors and his doctor would not let him fly out.  We had been through a tough time together on World Christian magazine.  Had no idea that day that Jodie and I would have a son five years later...and a perfect name...dropping the "k".

Jodie & I were reminiscing at the changes in 20 years...our jobs, where we live, family and friends no longer with us.

Twenty years is a long time, but it does not seem that long ago.  Both of us were ready to give up on finding love.  God brought us together.

Jerilyn sang this song to open our wedding.  It describes our love then and our love today:

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Trying to get a disabled bus pass

Jodie got the application for a honored citizens card some time ago. She filled out her portion, the faxed it to our doctor to complete the rest. He faxed it back.

We are on vacation this week. We took the lightrail downtown to the main Tri-Met office to turn in the application. It was not accepted. No photocopies, has to be original.. Jodie is in her power chair and has ID. No go.

She did not argue. Rules is rules. We are state workers; we understand.

But man!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

God not needed for creation?

In my humble opinion, it is harder to believe in nothing then to believe in God.

Hawking is a genius to be admired, but statements like this void of fact make little sense to me.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing,” the excerpt says. “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going.”

Friday, September 03, 2010

The lift...It still not working right!

Jodie and I are on vacation this week and next.  Staying home, doing this and that.

On Wednesday I took our Sprinter into the shop.  We have had the van for three years and have dealt with a hanging ceiling panel...a missing snap.  Hard to explain...easier to show.  One missing snap has turned into six...the ceiling is falling!  My cousin Kevin is the shop manager...I showed him what was happening...he ordered some new snaps to fix it.

Jodie has had her power chair since December.  We have had trouble with the lift stalling when we are lifting Jodie into the van.  The lift was geared for us to back on to be lifted;  Jodie has been coming front first to be loaded...and, duh, not working to well.  Jodie, Eric and I were at the lift shop for a couple hours yesterday for a tuneup and to fix it so we could front load.

It worked at the shop...of course.

We made some stops on the way home...the lift stalled each time on us.  We had to hand crank it.

We stopped at Cathedral Park on the way home...very beautiful place!

When we got home, we tried something.  We pushed my scooter closer to the backseat, put my walker on my scooter, then had Jodie turn her chair around in the van.  It was tight, but it seemed to work.  Jodie transfers from her chair to the seat in the van.

Today we are going to see if Jodie can just back in and then walk around her chair.

Trial and error...always!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lens of faith - God is real!

Random thoughts...

I've been a follower of Jesus for 30 years now.  I pray...not nearly enough...but I try.

A concerning situation was facing people close to me yesterday.  I can't get into it here.  We prayed.  Support arose from the woodwork, and a potentially bad situation was averted.

I have seen God act before, but, I confess, my faith grows stale and I forget the realness of God.

Once I was driving home to Oregon to visit family.  I was working at World Christian magazine in Pasadena.  I got a flat in Redding, CA.  I had a "I need help" sign in the trunk. I held it for a minute.  A guy stopped, took my tire into town, had it fixed.  There was not time to worry.  I was taken care of.

God is real.

Another time I was driving home from Spokane.  My radiator blew in the gorge.  Two truckers stopped.  One hiked down to the river for water.  They shored my radiator up enough for me to get home.  Angels on the highway...I know they are.

God is real.

My thought turns to the calling of a new pastor at my church.  The above situation has nothing to do with that. We have been without a permanent lead pastor since June of last year.  We finally found a candidate - Pastor Hoyme.  Yesterday we got word that the Spirit led him to not take the call.

Some might see it a a blow to the church I suppose.  Over a year looking for a new pastor.  I see it as a time to reflect on who we are as part of the body of Christ.  We have been looking for someone to "lead the flock".  We do need a person as pastor who has leadership skills to guide us as a flock, but we need to open our eyes of faith and realize the grace that is upon us.

We have a leader - Jesus.  He has graced us with Interim Pastor Craig and Associate Pastor Karl.  They have done a wonderful job co-shepherding us.  The commitment of Craig to serve us, spending so much time away from his Redmond home...and his motorcycle.  The energy of Karl, leading the youth, and, in this past year, filling in so many needs around the church.  Have you seen the visitation scheduling board in his office?

Yes, we continue to look for a lead pastor, but let us do so with thoughts of humility.  What do we as individuals, and as a corporate body, have to offer a new pastor, a new partner in the ministry?

Look at the prayer drop box we have in front of the church:

We have been praying as a congregation for the the requests that have been put into this box.  Broken people with needs.  Broken people, just like us, with needs.

For the new pastor we are looking for, let's realize they are broken people too.  Let's welcome them to our side to serve and to be served.

Let's continue to pray.  Let's continue to look up.  Let's continue to serve.  Let's expect great things.

God is real!  

Sunday, August 08, 2010

My old college digs

Eric snapped these photos of places I used to live when I attended Oregon State University in the 80's:

Varsity House -  We were brothers...Sudbeck and Sandage...Sam and I still have lunch...Roland Johnson is around town somewhere...Mike Blok married Karen, the Griz's sister, and he teaches science at my old high school (Beaverton) mom, Maxine...I miss her and her homemade maple bars...and the Griz, my first roommate - I had the dish hose in my hand...he dared me to shoot him...I nailed him!  Ten minutes later, I opened the door to our room...a bucket of water was on my head!

The Mansion - $85 per month, owned by dear old Mrs. Parks at First B....Jeff - I won't tell a sole about the green peaches that were in the fridge when I first got there...or the half  gallon boxes of ice cream we use to chop in half and  devour...I remember Dave on the drums, coming home one day and Dave and  Troy (T2) playing 25 to 6 to 4...heard it clear down the street!  I remember the great spaghetti we use to throw together...I remember Sunshine laughing hard at my cooking technique - exploding hot dogs in the microwave...I remember the three bats flying around the living room, my frantic call to Tom, and the hysterical laughter at the other end of the line.  The three pained window, that was my room at the end of my college days.  Best room in the house...large...wood floor...built-in dresser...walk-in closet.  I lived as a king!

Jodie's return to orthopedist

I took Jodie back to see the orthopedic surgeon last Wednesday.  Her foot was crunched in a door when she was in a loaner power chair in June.

This time the doctor's office had our referral, so they were able to take x-rays.

The good news is that nothing is broke in her foot or ankle.

The concern is that the top of Jodie's foot is very tender and painful to the touch, which is odd even more because of her limited feeling down there.  The dr. is worried about possible nerve damage.  I never realized the havoc that can cause, but I guess it can.  She wanted Jodie to take a pill to reduce the pain.  Jodie preferred to wait...not wanting to take another pill.

The dr. warned Jodie to let her know if the pain increases.

Yes Dr.

We go back in a couple weeks.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Congratulations Scott!

Scott Dietz is a premiere nature photographer that goes to my church. He has an incredible eye for the beauty of God's creation and shares it generously on his blog The Narrative image.

Three of his photos were selected for this exhibition:

The Narrative Image: Celebrate the Gorge Photography Exhibition @ Columbia Art Gallery

I feel a ROAD TRIP coming on...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rockwood Outlaws: 2nd at State

Pictures of Eric pitching at the state tournament...Thank you Beth Mumford!

We beat teams that most people thought we had no chance of beating - Camas, Clackamas, and Stayton (word was they were "stacked").  Bam Bam hit two home runs in one game!  Stellar pitching from JJ and Eric.  All the boys stepped beyond themselves into greatness.  Assistant coach LJ had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix on Friday - he was back on the field on Sunday.  It was hot...the high 90's.

In the end we were beaten by Jefferson, a small town team as scrappy as ours.

God bless the boys of summer!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jodie's doc visit

Yesterday's venture taking Jodie to the foot specialist proved challenging.

We were in line for valet parking.  One car in front of us.  No one appeared to be helping them.  I got the lift out for Jodie.  We were running late.  I was trying to get the cars behind us to scoot back.  The valet guy came and told us we had to pull ahead.  Jodie back up the lift, back to her seat...I pulled ahead.

New dr., so many forms to fill out.  It's all on the computer...doesn't matter.

The billing person called  us back to a room.  Jodie had called our primary care provider and our insurance.  We had the referral.  The billing person said the referral had been filed July 2nd, but it had not yet been processed.  The visit would only be covered as out of network.  Higher deductible; less coverage.  Our choice was to go home and make another appointment, or keep the appointment  and pay more.  We kept the appointment.  The billing person was  very professional; we  thanked her.

Young dr., very nice.  I think she is the first African American female dr. we have seen.  She took Jodie's boot off, examined the Achilles tendon.  No break there.  The top of Jodie's foot was tender...there is concern there.  X-rays are needed, the the dr. said we can wait until the referral is sorted out.

The dr. wants to go the non-surgical route if she can.  That made us happy.

Afterwards, Jodie and I stopped at Applebees for lunch to go.  We took it to the park,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Welcome home, son

Workmate Shari accused me of worrying like an old woman.  Pastor Craig's sermon yesterday (a home run btw) about how each of us have our 17 mile treacherous walk to Jericho spoke to me.  As I was applying the sermon to Jodie and Ma2, they pointed right back at me.

Yes, I missed Eric during his week-long mission trip to Montana.  The train ride was long.  He slept a lot yesterday.  He helped paint a house, stayed at Heart Butte elementary school, attended a Blackfeet powwow, learned of how the Blackfeet were mistreated by the white man.  He now has Facebook friends in Arizona and Minnesota.

Much more to hear of the trip.

We have a great kid.  Some day he will grow and be off to mark his wonderful mark in the world.  We will one day need to let go of Eric.  That day is not today.

Baseball playoffs this week.  If we win district, we go to state playoff next week in Corvallis.

Friday, July 02, 2010

A risky proposition

Eric Nelson rides his adult trike around Gresham. A 35 year old cp'er, the trike is his lifeline. He does odd jobs and returns pop cans. He's a volunteer "geek".

Eric maximizes his ability to make this world a better place, the highest calling any of us have.

Interesting story here:

A risky proposition

He was stopped by the Gresham police for riding on the sidewalk, but then he was hit when he was walking his trike in the bike lane. Adults are not allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks, but Eric does not feel safe in the bike lanes. His bike is banged up, as is his confidence.

I did not drive until I was out of college. I rode my yellow trike everywhere in Corvallis - to class, to the grocery store, to the laundromat, to church...everywhere. I rode sidewalks on busy streets. I had a close call with a car at a strip mall driveway one time.

I don't know Eric personally, but I see him around all the time. The Gresham police chief will work with Eric to figure out what is best for his safety and the public's. Eric's confidence will return.

Your community needs you Eric. Hang in there!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Torn tendon?

Jodie saw Dr. Molly yesterday. She thinks Jodie may have torn a tendon in her foot last week when her foot got caught in the door. Dr. Molly scheduled Jodie to see an orthopedist who specializes in feet and ankles in a couple weeks.

We are hoping to get Jodie's power chair back from the shop soon. She is using a manual chair with leg lifts for now.

Lots going on at work, so she can't just take time off to relax.

Prayers and good thoughts for Jodie.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Jodie scare

Jodie called me this afternoon at work. She was in a lot of pain and was really upset.

She is still using a loaner power chair. We had her power chair home from the shop for one day last week when we had to take it back. The guy said one more contact needs to be changed. The part should be in next week and the chair will be ready next Thursday. I don't know why it takes two weeks to fix a contact...but we are at their mercy.

Jodie decided to go across the street to Burger King for lunch today. He feet hang on the loaner chair; their is no leg lefts or foot straps to secure her feet. When she was leaving BK, her foot got caught in the door. She said her foot bent backwards.

When Jodie returned to her office, her left leg was writhing with spasms. She was not able to stand at all.

She called me to come get her. She was in pain. We were both scared about what may have happened to her foot. I left my office, picked up Eric to help, then went to pick up Jodie. We got Jodie on the lift and into the van. A couple caseworkers helped get Jodie from her chair to the back bench seat. We have not figured out how to secure Jodie in her chair in the van yet.

I took Jodie to immediate care. An x-ray showed no break, but it is a sprain. They gave her a boot.

We are very thankful that there is no break, but it is proving to be quite the challenge. Jodie's foot is not supporting her at all. We are using my walker as a chair to get her around the house, but right now we are trying to figure other things out.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

...But have a good life!

Yesterday I went downtown (Portland) to have lunch with Sam. We roomed together at Varsity House down at Oregon State 27 years ago. We meet together a couple times a year to talk about family, faith and politics.

I am his one honorary liberal friend. Awe!

Usually I pick Sam up in our oversized Sprinter van and we drive somewhere for lunch. We were going to do that yesterday, but I actually found a parking spot. It was only two blocks from the Oregonian building where he works, right in front of a couple mail boxes.

It was a gorgeous day. I had room to unload my scooter, so I did. I scooted down and met Sam in front of The O. Rather than wishing him a belated "happy birthday", I commented how thin and white his hair was becoming.

We headed down to the Pioneer Place food court. Sam walks fast. I was keeping up with my scooter.

This one block we walked down, this is tricky to explain...there as a curbcut for a driveway, then a curbcut up to a narrow sidewalk that led to a larger driveway to a underground parking garage.

Sam and I were making our way down this narrow sidewalk at a good clip. We got to the end. A ten inch curb. No curbcut.

Sam looked at me and said "Can you go over that?" I think he read my thoughts - Yes Sam, I'm going to back this puppy up a bit, hit 90, and fly from curb to curb...instead, he helped me back up.

Thinking about it now, I think there should a sign at the beginning of the sidewalk to warn that there is no ramp at the other end...something like "We recognize the needs of the disabled enough to put up this cheesy sign, but we care to little to do anything about it. There is no ramp at the end of this sidewalk...but have a good life."

Please don't forget the "But have a good life"'s nice to know you're thinking about us.

After lunch, I loaded my scooter into the van. I tried to do a trick that works some of the time - I tried to close the back doors from inside the van. I pulled the left door part way, put the lift up, then tried to reach over the top of the lift to pull the door closed. As I was flailing about trying to do this, passing cars started waiving at me, as if I was waiving at them! It made me laugh.

I ended up going down the lift, putting it back up, closing the back doors properly, and going in through the front.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Power chair woes

Jodie got her power chair last December.

A couple weeks ago, Jodie's power chair surged while she was in the break room at work and she ran into the sink.

We took off work Wednesday afternoon. Jodie's power chair was ready to be picked up. The loaner was ok...bald tires, no leg lifts to prevent Jodie's feet from swelling...but we were happy to have a loaner.

When we picked the loaner up, the throttle pad was still bent up as from when the chair ran into the sink. Jodie went in and talked to the guy in the shop. He thought it had been bent up for her to access easier. He assured Jodie that the power chair worked perfectly.

The next day (yesterday) Jodie IM'd me..."call me." I knew something was not right. I called. Jodie was in tears. The lights were flashing and the chair was stalling every time she tried to move.

So disappointing!

The hardest thing with disability is being at the mercy of others. The power chair is Jodie's independence. Jodie called the shop. We are taking it back in this morning. We have no choice but to follow what our insurance and the shop say to do.

The only comfort we have is that if the chair turns out to be a "lemon" they will get her a new chair.

How many months will that take?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baseball and grads; parking and elevators

Saturday we drove down to Linfield College in McMinnville. Nephew Vance was in the 1A-2A-3A state all star game. Vance pitched a stellar game...most valuable player!

We had to leave before the end of the game to go see niece Amanda graduate from Tualatin. The graduation was at the Memorial Coliseum. We have not been there since we got our eight and a half foot tall van. We found a top of a parking garage where we fit, even though we scraped the maximum height sign. Eric joked how one day we're going to decapitate our van.

Jodie, Eric and I got in the elevator to go down to street level. As we got out of the elevator, one of Jodie's wheels got stuck and Eric's foot got stuck. We should have gone back up a half floor, but neither Jodie or Eric were going to get back on the elevator. We found a way around to the sidewalk.

Jodie and I found the last 2 wheelchair spots on the far left side of the semicircle seating. Eric sat up high with Jodie's sister Pam. 410 grads...3 hours!

Afterward we met up with Eric. The handicap door closed on me; a very nice guy pried it open for me.

Just a mass of humanity! All Jodie and I could do was go real slow and wait for people to part so we could get through. I don't care for crowds, but people were really nice and let us get through.

Rather than use the elevator in the parking garage, we went around the block to avoid it. Eric did not complain; he did not want to go back in that elevator.

We made it to the van and got Jodie's chair and my scooter loaded before the crowds came. When we were ready to leave, the crowds were there so we just waited.

We made it home by 11. It struck me how we get around and participate in life. It's not always pretty and graceful - a scraped top on our fan, an elevator trying to swallow Jodie and Eric, a handicapped access door trapping me - but we make it through.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

At the dentist

Jodie had a dental appointment this morning, the first since getting her power chair in December.

I parked at the opposite end of the building from where I usually park...easier place to park our rig. I decided to come in with her...glad that I did. The doors are all so heavy!

the elevator was at the other end of the building. It is so dark!

It would be dreamy to not have to deal with disabled stuff. I sometimes think people should see us in action.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

"Um...I'm stuck!"

Jodie has had her power chair since Christmas. It began stalling on her repeatedly, so two weeks ago we took it into the shop. They found a loose contact in the throttle, so they fixed it.

This week the chair started stalling again. Jodie called and made an appointment for us to drop the chair off at the shop this morning. Yesterday the chair did not stall at all, so this morning Jodie called and cancelled the appointment.

Just after Jodie got off the phone from cancelling the appointment, she went into the breakroom at her office to fill her water bottle at the sink. As she approached the sink, her throttle stuck. She rammed into the sink and got stuck.

Another worker came into the breakroom. She greeted Jodie. They were chit chatting, then Jodie said "Um...I'm stuck!" The worker was not able to free Jodie, so Jodie asked her to get the security guard.

When Jodie returned to her office, she had to call the shop back and tell them what happened. After lunch, I went and picked Jodie up and we took the chair to the shop.

I was proud of myself! I backed Jodie's chair onto the lift without flying off the lift. I have had nightmares of that. With the headrest on her chair it is hard to see backing up. I have trouble controlling the joystick throttle. And then, when you are turning the chair as you are backing up, the wheels swivel in funny directions making it hard to back up straight in such a short distance.

After we dropped the chair off we went to pick Eric up from school. We had an hour and a half until Eric's baseball game. We went to the store and sent Eric in to get us a snack.

The shop called. They needed to keep the chair overnight. We drove to the baseball field. It started to rain; within a half hour we got the call Eric's game was cancelled. Third rained out game this week.

Jodie will be staying home from work tomorrow since she does not have her chair. Hopefully I can go pick it up tomorrow, or the shop will have a loaner for me to pick up.

Another day.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Trusty GPS and Google maps?

This lady is suing Google over walking directions that led her on too dangerous of a path:

Woman, hit by car, sues Google for faulty directions | Technically Incorrect - CNET News

We were in Bend over the weekend. Trying to find our motel, our Garmin gps led us off the highway, around a few blocks, and back onto the highway.

That instant when you realize the gps has led you astray and you have to use your brain to figure out the needed correction is really frustrating.

We were trying to find a place for breakfast yesterday. We found out the Denny's on the Garmin is no longer a Denny's. Some of the baseball venues we needed to find were not even on the Garmin. Three teammates were late to a game because of that.

I wouldn't sue Google over a faulty map, or Garmin over wrong directions, but I do understand the frustration.

Yes, we should carry maps and not over trust technology...but then we need to learn to read the blasted things again!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bad to the bone!

Goodbye Deborah

There was nothing fancy about her, except for her name. Deborah. Never "Deb" or "Debbie", but "Deborah".

Well, she did have a fancy car...a PT Cruiser when they first came out. She was so proud of that car.

She began working for the state of Oregon Child Welfare, East Multnomah Branch, shortly after I transferred there in 1995. I sat by her for a little while. Her first job was inputting in-home services...a simple job. She did it with vigor..."These people need to get paid," I remember her saying.

I knew she could run the place. She had the smarts and the energy. Deborah intimidated some people because penchant for perfection and not being shy to share what she knew. I was not intimidated; she inspired me to work harder at being good. She moved on to Midtown Branch as a IV-E eligibility worker. I am a IV-E eligibility worker as well. Most people do not want our jobs. We piece together financial information, court orders, case narrative, notes and policy. No one sees our work except the occasional auditor. I changed jobs for a couple years in 2002. When I returned to IV-E, I met with Deborah and the meticulous desk manual she had put together for the job. Deborah went on to become a lead worker at Midtown, to being an office manager in Beaverton.

I did not know too much about Deborah's personal life. I know her mom lives down in Lakeview, Oregon. She lived in an older mobile home and was handy at fixing things. She did not have a family of her own, but, being a cat person, active with her neighbors and involved in her church --- she had family.

Late last year she retired. I asked Jeff, a recent coworker of mine who was working for Deborah, to let me know of any retirement party. Jeff said she did not want one. She had some kind of tumor and was very sick.

I received and IM from Jeff on Wednesday letting me know Deborah had passed. We knew it was coming, but it hit me kind of hard. I started to cry. I ran out to the van and gave Jodie a call.

The graveside service at Carus Cemetery, a small country cemetery a mile of the main highway outside of Oregon City yesterday. The service was at 2. I got there at 2 and the service was already happening.

I parked the van and got my walker out. The walker made too much noise on the gravel, so I hustled across to the grass where the moms with babies were. I was really moved. There were a crowd of people saying goodbye to Deborah.

I heard a couple bluegrass hymns and the service was over. By 2:08 the funeral was over. Everyone headed for their cars. I waited for the cars to clear before I started the van. I slowly drove down the road closest to the casket. It was a beautiful white casket with white roses on top.

The sky was blue, the sun was warm, and the country setting was gorgeous. I joined the long line of cars heading down the country road to the highway. As I drove by the Christmas tree farm and watched the guy who was out there mowing brush, my mind wandered...

Coworkers are like family. You work together, break and have lunch together, you talk, you watch the clock together, and sometimes you annoy the
heck out of each other. Bonds form. You don't realize how strong the bonds were until you get the phone call, the email, or the instant message telling you the bad news.

Another thought is to remember how important today is. Tomorrow may never come. Some of us drag ourselves through our daily jobs looking forward to a happy retirement tomorrow. It's not bad to look forward to tomorrow, but take care of today in case tomorrow does not get here.

The crowd around Deborah's casket, the mamas with the babies back from the crowd, the long line of cars...all in tribute to Deborah.

Goodbye Deborah.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

"Temple Grandin"...Must see!

You need to see the HBO biography titled "Temple Grandin".

The other night I watched this movie by myself. I watched it again with Eric and Jodie yesterday. I will probably watch it again and again.

Autism is something we all know something about. This movie allows you to actually experience autism through the eyes of Temple Grandin, a very high functioning autistic woman.

Movies about the disabled follow a pretty standard mold. Begin with the hopeless diagnosis of whatever disability, show the trials and the efforts to overcome...more hopelessness. In the end, meaning is found, hope is realized.

For some of us disabled persons who are less accomplished, these “perspirational” movies can be a downer sometimes. We know the hopelessness, the trials to overcome, but we have not all found the meaning and realized the hope.

This movie mostly fits this model, but the greatness of this story is the blurriness in the line between Temple's greatest hopelessness and hope. The women whose great image-driven mind designed a more humane way to handle cattle (over half the slaughterhouses in the country use Temple's design) is the same women who freezes at the sight of automatic doors at the grocery store, and who cannot deal with human touch.

Eric commented that Temple's greatest ability came from her disability. That is what struck me as well.

I don't want to give away much of the movie to you because I want you to see it.

I feel that Temple Grandin and this wonderful movie about her shows how our biggest disability, our most glaring foible, our deepest hopelessness might be the doorway to realizing our greatest achievement.

If we can realize this about ourselves, and if we can, with the help of God, begin to realize the potential of other people around us, maybe this world will be a better place.

Perhaps this is part of what Jesus was getting at when He said to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Country Starlet comes out

She prayed to be straight, she dated a country hunk, she was aloof...a "snot"...

I don't know why these stories attract me.

Laying down the facade and waiting for stones to fly.

Bravery, my friends:

Country Star Chely Wright Comes Out - ABC News

Sunday, May 02, 2010


That's a new work to me PK.

There are many places for spirit food on the web. Pastor Karl's evo's is one of my favs.

e-vos: e-vo for week of April 28

When we love we slake thirst and sate hunger and fill voids.

God use us as agents of your love in this troubled world. Amen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Yesterday morning at work I got an email from a slightly computer challenged cohort from another branch needing technical assistance. She told me that a coworker was assisting her too.

When I was done, I told her to tell TROUBLE "hi" for me.

She wrote back something like "I think you are being tongue and cheek. She is a good friend of mine, but she can be a pain sometimes."

I wrote back "Total T&C! She is a dear."

Made me think of our human condition - the better the friend, the bigger the pain in the times.

...and, be careful with the T&C!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Too much commonsense

A very nice idea to use the disabled to help train on disabilities and special needs. No doubt that these teachers-to-be will be all the more richer when they reach the classroom for the time they have spent with Wilson.

Why does such obvious commonsense elude us so much?

The world's problems would be solved if we all and just thought things through and talked.

"I'd always thought that if I am going to teach a class about a group of people that I should have a member of that group teaching it with me," she said. "It's really about having representation of a minority group that doesn't get heard or seen very much."

Man with cerebral palsy helps teach special-ed course - The Denver Post

Saturday, April 24, 2010

To my "Jan's Clan" family

I sent this out as a broadcast through the Jan's Clan website, but in case you don't get that:

Hey guys...

This is Troy...web wiz behind the the Jansclan website.

Jansclan is built on the "ning" social web platform. That's as technical as I am going to get...see...that was painless!

The company behind "ning" is not making enough $$ off the cheezzy ads on the side, so next month they want to begin charging a monthly fee. $4.95/month I think.

Not many of us are using the site any more.

My suggestion is that we let the ning site die, and that we start a Facebook group for jansclan. Most of us are on Facebook now...even the geezers among us.

The biggest loss I see are the 660 photos. Facebook has a 60 photo per album limit. I cannot seem to find if there is a limit on the number of albums.

Can we start over with a Facebook group page?

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Ah...the Petke boys!"

We hired a pitching coach for Eric. Four check his form and give some tips. His parents and brother goes to our church.

Tim Petke was a pitcher in the Angels organization. He is giving personal lessons now. His website is

Wednesday night I took Eric over to Portland Lutheran HS to meet Tim. Mike, Tim's brother, is a science teacher there.

I think Tim wasn't looking for a 6'1" kid to be the 14 year old he was going to meet. Mike thought Eric was a sophomore. He played catcher as Tim instructed Eric, and his hands were stinging from Eric's fastballs. Tim was impressed with what Eric knew, and his eagerness to learn.

As we were leaving, an older coach saw Tim and Mike..."Ah...the Petke boys!"

I imagined Tim and Mike way back when burning up the baseball fields, or raising heck at school.

Probably a little of both.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Watching Eric's game from afar...

I have blogged about Eric s baseball team playing against David Douglas before. No coaches were ejected tonight...pretty dull on that front. We won 22-1. The battle tonight was finding an accessible place to watch.

Jodie and I have more accessibility challenges than last time we were there.

Jodie is in a power chair now...not quite full time, but close. I am using my scooter more. Needless to say, we did not crawl through the fence to get to the field this time. We were sitting outside the fence, kind of in someone's side yard. We would have moved if we were asked, or submitted to police if arrested. We were about 50 ft or more from the game.

Jodie was yelling her fool head off for all the kids on our team, as she always does. She was also testing the new leg lifting and reclining features that were added to her chair today.

We had to go over some uneven, soft ground to get to our viewing perch.

I headed for the van when the game was over. Jodie was stuck; she waited for Eric to help her.

Cars were parked in all different angles on this narrow road...getting to the van was a trick! I got to the van and there was a truck parked too close to the back; not enough room to let down the lift. A mom from the other team went to find out whose truck it was.

Turned out it was Byron's, Tucker's dad. Tucker is a classmate of Eric's. Byron came and backed the truck up, then he ran the lift and helped me get my scooter in the van.

Eric was having trouble pushing Jodie over the soft ground. Byron started to help push. It was a Rockwell moment: Byron got Jodie's chair going, Jodie's legs were bouncing up in the air. She went faster and faster, with Byron hanging on to the back of her chair, with his legs flying as they tried to keep up!

Jodie and I try not to make other people deal with our disability. It's our cross and we try to bear it with grace.

But more times than not, God laughs at our stubborn independence and makes us see that we are part of His cast of characters, an d not the other way around.

God does not make hard stuff go away. My cross is your cross, your cross is my cross.

We are God's cast of characters.

The babes and me work...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Christian singer outs herself

I am proud of Christianity Today for running this article.

Jennifer has a new album coming out May 11, "Letting Go". I am not familiar with her music, but I just listened to her song "A Little More" on zune. I like her sound, and I look forward to her album.

I'd like to think that christian radio would pick her music up, but she does not think it will happen.

I admire her openness and candor.

She will be in Portland on April 27 at the Aladdin.

Is our Christian tent big enough for Jennifer? In my mind, it is.

Jennifer Knapp Comes Out | Music | Christianity Today: "So why come out of the closet, so to speak?

Knapp: I'm in no way capable of leading a charge for some kind of activist movement. I'm just a normal human being who's dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I'm doing that as best as I can. The heartbreaking thing to me is that we're all hopelessly deceived if we don't think that there are people within our churches, within our communities, who want to hold on to the person they love, whatever sex that may be, and hold on to their faith. It's a hard notion. It will be a struggle for those who are in a spot that they have to choose between one or the other. The struggle I've been through—and I don't know if I will ever be fully out of it—is feeling like I have to justify my faith or the decisions that I've made to choose to love who I choose to love."

Amanda Knox...what do you think?

I don't know why, but I have been intregued by this story since the beginning. I don't think she is the same little girl mom and dad sent to Italy for school, but neither do I think she is the beast that Italian prosecutors think she is. I have been hoping for more information to come out in her appeal to clear things up.

Are the prosecutors on an unbridled vendetta here?

I just don't know.

What do you think?

Amanda Knox Prosecutors Now Want Life Sentence - ABC News: "The Italian prosecutors who sent American college student Amanda Knox to prison for 26 years filed an appeal of the case today, asking the court for a tougher sentence."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prayers for Poland...

Click the link and check out Andrew's "Face of the Day". Marta, daughter of the Polish President who died in the plane crash, along with her mom. Raw grief...very moving:

Face Of The Day - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Monday, April 12, 2010

We want a number ten!

Jodie and I are attending a computer testing session in Salem this week.

We found Jack in the Box on our Garmin and headed there.

We went through the drive through. I shut our diesel rig off to give the order taker a better chance to hear Jodie giving our order from the passenger side. We each picked a combo number to keep it simple.

The gal got Jodie's order easy enough, but she could not seem to get mine. "We want a number ten!" Jodie said over and over. The number ten we saw on the menu was a sourdough chicken combo. It sounded like the gal was repeating "number ten", but then listing a bunch of stuff that was different from the number ten I was seeing.

I finally told Jodie, "You know what? I will eat it...whatever it is, I will eat it."

Curly fries, double bacon cheeseburger, deep fried mozarilla sticks, jalipanos and two egg rolls...

Enough fat to bring down the Titanic!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Date Night

Jodie, Eric and I went to meet Brad and Lori at the theater to see Date Night yesterday. We were late, as usual. We did'nt see Brad or Lori. We thought they might already be in the theater, or they would find us.

We went in. Jodie was in her power chair, I had my walker, so we sat down front. Brad and Lori were not in there.. A guy came in and was looking around. I thought it was Brad.

"Hey Brad!" I said. It was Brad, but it was Eric's former band teacher. Weird moment!

I went out to the lobby. Brad was there looking for us. They were watching the same movie in the theater next to ours. I'm sure they were in the right one for the time we had set.

it was a good movie, but not as great as we had expected from the comedic duo of Fey and Carroll. The best comedy was subtle, when they weren't trying so hard. Good chemistry there.

We went to Old Chicago afterwards. It was a fun evening.

And no, we did not take someone else's reservation...;)

Monday, April 05, 2010

We can!

I can become more than I can become more than you are...

Yes, we can:

Seth's Blog: Accepting limits

And isn't it even worse to write off a person or an organization merely because of what they are instead of what they might become?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter thoughts from Googlinggod...

He is Risen: Where Will We Meet Him? | Googling God: "When that invitation comes to you, will you be brave enough to believe that Jesus can transform you? Will you be brave enough to throw away what is comfortable to do something that is unknown? Will you be able to say “Yes” not in a silly or superficial way, but in a way that asks yourself to look more deeply at your relationship with God and others and asks yourself what is it that God is calling you to become? What is God asking you to transform in your life?"

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Journeys, goals and miracles

Today I helped my mom and stepdad move a dresser and a queen bed to my sister's place. My contribution was our big rig -- I went along for the ride. We went for lunch afterwards to Foster Burgers, another great find of my sister's boyfriend. Fabulous burger and shakes if you ever get the chance to go.

On my way home, something very frightening happened. We have a curve on one of the streets just down from our house. You need to slow down and watch to make sure an oncoming car is not going to fast and crossing into your lane.

I was slowing down. I saw a lady walking a large dog on the sidewalk on my right. As I was going by her, a smaller dog...a fox terrier I think, came running from across the street. I could not possibly stop that fast. Our van sits very high. Eighteen inch clearance...I don't know.

The dog ran under our van. He ran between the tires and out the other side. Our rig is 8500 lbs. I would not feel it if I hit the dog. I slowed and saw the little dog greeting, attacking, or whatever, the bigger dog. I don't think they knew each other...just a little dog on the loose.

I was shaken when I got home, very thankful for a tragedy averted. I wondered how that little guy cleared four tires of our monstrous van doing 25 to 30 mph. It was a miracle he made it through unharmed.

I think there is a lesson here. How many times have I obliviously run under a moving van, totally unaware of the present danger, for an elusive and meaningless goal?

You are right...too deep. Be thankful for tragedy averted.

Goals can be good, but take care, and enjoy the journey. Goals can turn out bad. Appreciate the
miracles that save us.


I don't need this...

...but I want one...

iPad Lines Around the U.S. [PICS]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The chase we saw up I-5 last night...

Getaway Car Crashes Through Fence, Keeps Going -

Get your palm branches up!

God Needs You! - Our Daily Bread: "Someone once asked Francis of Assisi how he was able to accomplish so much. He replied, “This may be why: The Lord looked down from heaven and said, ‘Where can I find the weakest, littlest man on earth?’ Then He saw me and said, ‘I’ve found him. I will work through him, and he won’t be proud of it. He’ll see that I am only using him because of his insignificance.’ ”"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cell phone shopping

Jodie's cell phone stopped holding a charge and her 2 year contract was up. Eric was tired of his phone. In this family, that means Jodie gets Eric's old phone, and Eric gets a new phone.

He and I went shopping at T-Moble..

I wanted to stay away from the smart phones; our cell phone bill is high enough. Just to know, I asked the salesman how much the internet charge per month on the smart phone was. $25...too much.

Eric started looking at the non smart phones. Some of them seemed pretty inteternet ready. Eric found a T-Moble Tap. We asked the salesman if it did email and internet. Yes, for $10 per month. Why $10 and not $25? Well, the internet is lower quality, more text like.

I felt like they were trying to get me to buy a smart phone rather than the cheaper option.

Eric scored.

Now guess who wants what Eric has?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chess - more than just a game

For years I kept suggesting to my son, Eric, that he try taking chess at school from when he was in the younger grades, but I never forced him. Out of the blue this year he decided to take chess.

I took chess when I was in school. In junior high it was with Mr. Blanton in the library. At Beaverton High, I was president of the chess team. It was more of an honorary title. My game was not the strongest on the team, but the kids and our German teacher advisor supported me. I remember going to chess meets at Aloha High School and Catlin Gable. I always found in to be a thrill to be on a team representing my school where my disability was not a handicap.

Eric's school had a chess festival today. I was very moved.

There was a giant chess set up front. Plastic pieces just under 2 feet high. There were tables manned by kids, each showin g how different pieces moved.

At one point Eric was playing 2 little guys at once. Third or fourth grade, I'm not sure. They were trash talking Eric, how they were beating him. Eric took care of them.

I lost a close game to a high schooler. Then I played a dad who was particularly good with his knights...another close game, but another loss.

Two of the young guys played each other. The one who lost was overly concerned that his ranking would go down. The elementary schoolers are involved with much more competitive chess than the jr high/high schoolers.

A high schooler demonstrated blind chess. He sat with his back to the board. Eric wrote down the moves. Eric did not play blind chess today, but he has in class and he has the big Hershey bars to prove it.

Eric and other kids demonstrated how to play "Bug House". It drives me nuts! Four players, 2 boards. Pieces you gain from your opponent you can give to your partner to use against theirs. It is played at lightning speed. I don't begin to process that fast!

I went up front to watch the game on the giant chess board. Eric, kids his age, and older high school kids, jocks and nerds, were laughing and having fun. They were at the end of a game. They cleared away the pieces, and they had kids representing the pieces. They seemed like a band of brothers having fun.

Mr. Svehaug came and found me. "Mr. Wittren, we have another game set up for you."

My opponent was of Russian or East European descent. I could tell that chess was more than a game to him. I am good at chess at times, but not always consistent. This game, I was in a zone. We both castled and then I went on a very aggressive attack. I had forks in place that were so perfect that I never could have planned them. He was making incredible moves; I was making incredible moves. It was a blood bath. I had a king and a bishop left. He had a king and a pawn that was soon to be queen. We called it as a draw out of respect for the kind of game it was.

When I asked Eric how I would find them in the school when we first got there, he said "Follow the nerd herd."

Chess is way more than a game.

See, evidence right there that my end game in writing, as in chess, stinks!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

World's richest dude...

...basically owns Mexico:

Carlos Slim 'World's Richest' Person: Forbes Says Mexican Billionaire Is Richer Than Bill Gates: "Slim's conglomerate of retail, telecom, manufacturing and construction companies so dominate the Mexican commercial landscape it is often easy for Mexicans to find themselves talking over a Slim-operated cell phone at a Slim-owned shopping center waiting to pay a bill to a Slim-owned company at a Slim-owned bank. If the line is too long, they can catch a quick coffee at a Slim-owned restaurant."

Punishing the kids for having 2 moms?

Even if your faith allows you to judge others, what part of Jesus' plea to let the little ones come to Him don't they understand?

Archdiocese defends decision to deny children because of lesbian parents -

Dumb, da dumb dumb.....

Black Barbie Sold Cheaper Than White Barbie At Walmart

Special place for special people...

American Heart: Father Creates Morgan's Wonderland, a Theme Park for Those With Special Needs - ABC News

Monday, March 08, 2010

When you feel far from God...

...He is never far from you.

That was the message preached by my son, 14 yo Eric, at our church yesterday. Three services.

Eric drove the message home. A message so simple, yet so often forgot.

All the youth did a wonderful job with the services.

I'm so proud of Eric and all our kids. So much appreciation was shown to them afterwards. It is so nice to be in a congregation that values its richest asset, the kids.

RLC rocks!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Can we get in?

Last night, Eric had a basketball playoff game at a church over in north Portland. Eric jumped out of the van and ran into the gym as soon as we got there.

Jodie and I looked at each other: "Can we get in?"

No ramp. It looked like an old loading dock. 18 inches high I would venture to say. I walked around to one end and saw three, short, 10 inch steps...maybe higher. I could have done them, except that when you get to the top, there was no railing, just a pole and the dropoff.

There was a guy talking on the phone in his pickup. Don't know who he was, but he was our angel for the moment.

He went and got one of the dads from our team. They hoisted Jodie up. I could tell that it hurt Jodie's shoulders a bit...and her pride a bit.

Disability and pride...there's a topic. Life is hard and awkward at times. You could lose it if you over analyze those times. We would much rather deal with our own challenges without troubling anyone else, bear our own cross if you will. Sometimes we need the help.

I grabbed a poll and pulled myself up. I'm not going to ask for help!

This was the first basketball game this season where Jodie has not used her power chair. We have not been carry her crutches in the van. She has not needed them. I don't know what possessed Eric to ask me if we should bring her crutches in the van as we left the house to go pick her up for the game, but I'm glad he asked.

Jodie has gotten used to being in her power chair. My own stability has been less stable lately. I like using my scooter when we are out and about.

We used to try to call churches and schools where Eric was going to have a game to see if it is accessible. People usually reply with an automatic "yes", as if it is a legal test, or without understanding what accessibility. Like that church where Eric played a couple years ago where the game was upstairs. There was an one on site had a key for it, but there was an elevator.

Old churches do not need to worry about accessibility until they remodel. You could tell that the church gym we were at last night had not been remodeled for 30, 40 years...who knows.

I am sure that stand alone church gyms rank low on the need for accessibility. I know that most kids don't have a pair of disabled parents. I would think, though, that there would be many grandmas and grandpas out there who would have difficulty getting into that gym to watch games.

I know that the cost of accessibility is high, that churches lack the money for it. The cost for a ramp to the landing to the entry of that gym up to ADA specs would be high. It would need to be very long for one thing.

But I give you this: Jodie and I are your average crazed parents. Eric has made so much progress this year. He has gone from "I'd kinda like to have that ball, if your not doing anything with it" to "gimme that's my ball!"

Eric is our kid. We love him so much! We want to watch him every step of the way if...

...we can get in!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


I shudder when I hear "Retard!"

When kids would make fun of me when I was a kid, that is most often the word I would hear. That one, and "Spazz!"

Words don't hurt; the intent behind the word does.

I am also offended by certain people trying to gain political mileage by trying to gain political capital by trying to ban a word.

I don't like the word. It does not describe my disability and it is mean way to refer to my developmentally delayed brothers and sisters who have their own tough row to how.

"Retard!" speech.

Educate people. Change their hearts and minds.

Don't ban a frickin' word! NBA supports Special Olympics in bid to 'End the Word'