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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our Big Ass van!

Yes, I said the "A" word.  We sang the word in a hymn this morning, "What Child is This"...so it is a churchy word...

Pastor Roger gave a fine sermon today.  Questioning and listening...talking about the only episode in Scripture that is recorded about Jesus between the time He was an infant to when He began His three year ministry.

Roger turns 66 today.  We sang "Happy Birthday" to him.  Roger is a radical follower of Jesus, very much a modern day prophet.  I am sure, back in the day, he would say to never trust anyone over 30.  I wonder, now is it over 70...or 75?  ;)  I'm sure Roger will let me know.

The early service at our church is usually the contemporary service.  We have two praise teams that switch off and sing the songs you hear on the contemporary Christian radio stations.

Today we had no praise teams.  We had Katie, our wonderful pianist from the second service, and classic hymns on the overhead screen.

Yours truly ran the slides from the computer today.  Sitting in the back, I like to watch the people.  It's fun to see who is engaged...and who is not...during the service.

Today, I found the hymns to be a refreshing change.  I am 48...almost...never mind.  Some of the people and families younger than me did not seem to be enjoying the hymns, whereas the people older than me thought they were great.

My two cents - why not mix the music to give the young some of what they want, and the older set some of what they want.  We are family...give and take for the good of all...but what do I know?

On my way out of the church, I overheard a couple ladies talking.  They were saying "Now that was a good service...that is how they should all be!"

"Okay..." I thought.

Then, the one lady saw our Sprinter van and started to freak out.  "What's that van doing parked there!"

I was kind of amused.  We have had the van over five years now...and driving it to church every Sunday.  Most people have seen me load and unload Jodie.  Evidently this lady has not.  I couldn't figure out why this lady was freaking out over it.

So our van is blessed with a large behind.  How does that affect this lady?

I love our big ass van...;)



"Race is the stupidest idea in history"

Leonard Pitts is my favorite columnist.  He never shies away from difficult topics.  He smashes into them, head on, and brings forth commonsense and clarity.


"Race is the stupidest idea in history. It is also, arguably, the most powerful. It determines who goes to jail and who goes to college, who gets loans and who gets rejections, who gets the job and who gets the unemployment check. It determines the life you live and the assumptions that are made about you."
- Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/29/v-fullstory/3159373/leonard-pitts-race-is-the-stupidest.html#storylink=cpy

There is no difference between the races, except for the the junk in our heads...and there is a lot of junk in our heads!

I have often thought of racism and disablism as being very similar.  We start categorizing people the moment we meet them.

The color of my skin or your skin...yes, there is junk in my head, and in your head, that goes with that.  The way I, or you, walk and talk, there is junk in my head and yours that goes with that as well.

Leonard does a great job analyzing some of this junk.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Very Special Christmas

Tonight I watched the special on GMC:

gmc TV – Gospel Music Channel News – 25 Years of Bringing Joy to the World: Ten Outstanding Musical Moments from A Very Special Christmas

I have been listening the "A Very Special Christmas" 25th anniversary station on IHeart Radio.  Rock stars and artists from other genes singing Christmas songs.  Very cool.

Okay, I have not grown up yet, in case you have not noticed.  ;)

I did not realize that this is a fundraiser for Special Olympics.  Stars, singing outside their zone, for a great cause.

My Favorites:

Blue Christmas by Heart



and Run DMC - Christmas in Hollis:



If you can spare a five, a ten or whatever, please consider joining my Polar Plunge team, "Team Witticisms" benefiting the Oregon Special Olympics.

Click here to join

Thanks!

;)


Saturday, December 08, 2012

Comcast, Xfinity...please have mercy on us!

We had a rude wake-up call as to what kind of company Comcast is back in October when they yanked $777 from our checking account.

Jodie called.  Because of their computer error, they had not taken the automatic deduction from our account.  The billing emails had come...I just figured the money was going out as usual with our flurry of early month bills.

The Comcast lady understood what had happened and said they would reimburse   the money to our account, but that we would need to call and set up a payment plan, because we did owe the money.  Fair enough we thought.

A week later, when the money was still not in our account, Jodie called Comcast back.  They said the accounting department decided that Comcast had rights to the money, that we should have been properly deducting the money from our account and balancing our checkbook.

Point taken.  After 22 years as keeper of our checking account, the responsibility has transferred from yours truly to Jodie.

In October Jodie requested that Comcast stop automatically withdrawing money from our checking account and we asked that they begin mailing us a bill.

It has been 2 months and they still have not sent us a bill.

When we looked up our account in November, it said we owed over $200.  Jodie called and they said we did not owe, but that we had a credit.  Jodie spoke to a guy named Joe who was really helpful.  He gave Jodie his phone number and his extension to call if we had any more trouble.

We downgraded our cable package to save some money.

December, still no bill.  Online still show the over $200 amount that we owe.  Jodie tried to call Joe.  Whoever answered thee extension that Joe gave Jodie kind of laughed at her and said "We can't let you talk to Joe!"

Jodie was told again to ignore the $200+ bill that is posted online.

Jodie was told there was a charge for downgrading our service.  Of course there is!  It's Comcast Xfinity...why would we expect otherwise!`

Jodie was told what we owe now. We are not sure where to send it now without a bill.  It has been a long time since we have scheduled a bill to go out.  From past experience I know that addresses and account numbers change...we really want to see a bill.

We are ready to try another company.  We have been with Comcast for so many years now.

I don't know how much we would need to pay to leave our contract with Comcast.

It feels like an abusive relationship...and we are the abused!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Team Witticisms for Polar Plunge Oregon

I have been volunteering with Special Olympics Oregon since last May.  They were looking for an intern to do some web design work.  I was looking for some web design experience.

My first task was to move one of their event website, PlungeOregon, from it's previous web platform.  I learned a lot about photo editing during that project. I am now a good cropper and resizer!

Currently I am handling the social media for the Plunge.  Most evenings I am putting together the Facebook posts for: http://www.facebook.com/PlungeOregon; and the tweets for:  https://twitter.com/plungeoregon.

Social media is a key way to promote stuff nowadays.  I really count it an honor to be getting hands on experience in such a greatly growing field.

Special Olympics is a great organization.  It serves individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Such a life giving mission!  As an individual acquainted with challenges, I like to have the opportunity to help make life better for others who face challenges.

Volunteering is great!  You get more than you give.  I have learned more about Twitter, Facebook and HootSuite than I would have ever learned elsewhere.  Lots of research, finding the Twitter handles and Facebook pages of sponsors.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start my own Polar Plunge team - Team Witticisms.  I am going to be there at the Portland Polar Plunge on February 9.  I  am officially "Too Chicken to Plunge".  I'm not taking the plunge...I can't swim!

I would like to invite you to join my team, Team Witticisms, by donating $5, $10, or whatever you feel you can part with at this time.


I set my goal at $50.  One donation and the goal was hit...thank you Aunt Jan and Uncle Bruce!

Lets push it up there!  The people at Special Olympics Oregon are very high quality, committed people.  The individuals with intelectual disabilities they serve, showing them respect and lifting their dignity...it is priceless.

Click the link below and join my team:

Click here to join my team

;)


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eric and Troy pardoned

My favorite episode of West Wing was when the President pardoned a couple turkeys, Eric and Troy:



I remember Eric and I just howled with laughter when we saw that.  How did they come up with those names...that just happened to be our names?

I have been neglecting my blogging responsibilities in a bad way lately.  Thoughts roll around in my head, but I can't find the words to spill them out in a coherent way.

Our budget has been squeezing us lately, for this, that and the other reason.  We are now living life in a much more disciplined and deliberate way.

This does not sound fun, I know, but in an odd way it has led us to a greater sense of family, friends and the multitude of blessings around us.

The blessings we already have are far greater than anything we want.  Maybe that is the true essence of Thanksgiving Day.

Peace and love to all.

;)


Monday, October 29, 2012

A tear or a smile...

It's my decision, I know, to shed a tear or to crack a smile.

I love these quotes from Albert Einstein:

"You never fail until you stop trying."
"I have not failed, I have just found 10000 ways that don't work."
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts ..."
"Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” 

I got another "Dear John" email today...a job I wanted and did not get.  Another application, interview, and wait that did not end as I had hoped.  The online list says I have applied for 24 positions in the last two years.  I did not go all the way to interview with all of those applications...but still - it's a lot of apps.

Twenty three years ago I got my job with Child Welfare by starting as a volunteer, then a temp.  I showed what I could do and I was eventually hired.

Currently I am a volunteer with Special Olympics Oregon.  I go into their office once a week for a social media meeting.  I moved one of their event websites, PlungeOregon, from one platform to another.  I am working a Facebook page and Twitter page to promote the event.  The response has been awesome!  I am learning so much...and proving what I can do.

I am way better at showing what I can do rather than telling what I can do.  My cerebral palsy, coupled with nerves, makes the interview process very daunting for me.

I think of Einstein's words.  I'm not going to fail, because I'm not going to stop trying...after I shed a tear and crack a smile.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

That "B" word and Pastor Karl

I am distracted right now.  I have tweets to gather for Special Olympics Oregon,      but my brain is mushy right now.

Jodie was in tears at church today.  I was close to tears.  Eric didn't want to go to the lunch at church in honor of Pastor Karl.  Eric is having a really hard time with Pastor Karl's leaving...he has gotten real close to him.

Today was Pastor Karl's last day at our church, Resurrection Lutheran Church.  He is heading to a calling in Salem at Christ the Good Shepherd Church.

PK has been our family and youth pastor for the last five years.  Eric has been on mission trips that PK has led...to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, to Las Vegas,  and to the recent youth gathering in New Orleans.

PK was a high school history teacher before he got the call to become a pastor.  He came to us five years ago.  A geeky guy with a kid's curiosity.  Eric adores Karl.

Today was Pastor Karl's last day with us.  His sermon about the feast that was given for the returning prodigal son, and how we should always leave an empty chair (not the Clint Eastwood type...;)) for the guest that is yet to come.  I will remember this one.

We have been instructed that, as of today, we are supposed to stop looking to Karl as Pastor.  He will be removing us RLC members from his e-vos (a wonderful online weekly devotion that he writes) from his email list.

I told Pastor Karl today that he would still be my "E-Pastor".

We had a great catered lunch from Ristorante Di Pompeyo.  We played games, Karl style, and told stories.

I don't think I said the "B" word ("bye") though.  This song kept running in my head....the same song I remember from my college days when parting paths from my dear friends:





Friends are friends forever.

So PK, this is not the "B" word.  Today was a hard lesson of that for us, but especially for Eric who has not been though this a lot.

People do go in and out of our lives, but memories of the important ones never leave us.

Pastor Karl...my second Twitter follower btw (such a geek!) will always be in our hearts.

;)




Friday, October 12, 2012

Tip a cop - Yummm!

Swiss cheese, beer mustard onions, Black Forest ham, hamburger on a pretzel bun.  It's called the Octoberfest Burger.

Insanely good!  You bet!

I had one a week ago.  My taste buds have not been the same since.

Red  Robin.  We all love them.  Burger, salads, wraps, soup...they have so many great things on their menu.

Twenty two years ago, at the Red Robin in Beaverton, I got down on a knee and said "Woman, will you marry me?"  Jodie and I bought Red Robin t-shirts and we wore them with matching jeans the day after we got married.  Yes, they forever have a soft spot in our hearts.

I have another soft spot in my heart...Special Olympics Oregon.  For those who do not know, I have been a volunteer with them for nearly six months now.  My first task was to move their PlungeOregon event website from one website format to another.  Now, I am working on the social media team, learning the power of Facebook, Twitter and HootSuite.

Special Olympics Oregon serves children and adults in our community who have intellectual disabilities.    There are many great causes, I know, but this cause ranks very high on the list.  As a person with challenges myself, I know how important encouragement is.  Everything Special Olympics Oregon does is about lifting up people who might otherwise be  put down.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is a worldwide partnership of law enforcement officers who join to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics.  Tomorrow, Saturday, October 13, 11-3 and 4-8, officers will be accepting extra tips at Red Robin restaurants in Oregon to benefit Special Olympics.  Yours truly help put thee blog post regarding this event - click here to view.

Below is a message from Red Robin about the event:





Saturday, October 06, 2012

I'm not wearing a lanyard!

We had our annual eye doctor appointments in August.  No change for Eric and I, but the doc wanted Jodie to return for a special vision mapping session.

When Jodie was young, part of her disability was that she saw everything upside down.  We all see things upside down...out brains just flips it right side up automatically.  Jodie's brain did not do that for her.  Through intense therapy, Jodie's brain was taught to see things the right way.

A couple weeks ago, we returned to have Jodie's visioned mapped.  Our insurance kindly agreed to cover the procedure...;).

Jodie knew something was wrong when the tech doing the vision mapping kept asking "Are you sure you don't see that?"...over and over again.

Jodie asked the tech if something was wrong.  A rhetorical question...proven by the tech's response..."I will let the doctor talk to you."

Indeed, good news it was not.

The lower portion of Jodie's field of vision is gone.  I don't exactly know where the line is, but it explains why she has had a harder time seeing curb cuts when she is motoring along.

Jodie started to cry about it when we got in our van.  We talked about it.  The question as to why God would give us this to deal with came up.  Isn't having the disabilities and issues we have enough?  We don't dwell there too long.  God loves us and will see us through this like He has everything else.

We started thinking about the trouble Jodie has had riding in the van when Eric or I am driving.  She is constantly getting startled.  Well, she's not seeing what we see. With the lower part of her vision gone, other traffic is popping into her vision after Eric and I see it.  Eric and I see it coming.  For Jodie, it is just suddenly right there!

So, Jodie wears bifocals...as do I.  Since Jodie  cannot see anything in her lower vision, the lower lens of her bifocal is basically useless.

I told Jodie that she might need to have to sets of glasses "You know," I told Jodie, "with a lanyard like old ladies wear?"

"I'm not wearing a lanyard!" Jodie said.

Jodie is going to go back into the eye doctor in a couple months for another testing of her field of vision.  They want to see if there is any progression in Jodie's blind spot.  We are hoping there will not be.

But, whatever comes, we will get through it.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Major Inconvenience - part 2 - update

The email to Providence may have worked!

We just got a phone call from Providence.  They called ATG Rehab and were told that the parts for Jodie's power chair should arrive by Wednesday, and the chair will be ready on Thursday.

I wish ATG would have told us that...and I hope they are right.










Major Inconvenience - part 2

We are going on three weeks without having Jodie's power chair.

Providence In Home Services use to service Jodie's chair.  Now, ATG Rehab has the contract to repair power chairs for Providence In Home.

On August 23, I delivered Jodie's chair to ATG Rehab.  It took a week for them to get the authorization from our insurance so they could begin working on Jodie's chair.

Jodie has been calling ATG Rehab every couple days to see where they are in the  process of fixing Jodie's chair.

As of today, the answer is that parts were ordered on September 4 and it could take up to 14 business days for the parts to arrive.  My math puts that at September 21, almost a month after I dropped Jodie's chair off at the shop.

This has been a real hardship for Jodie.  She is back to using her crutches and a manual wheelchair, both really harmful to her shoulders.  This is really bad because the doctors told Jodie if she did not stop  stressing her shoulders, she could loose use of them altogether.

We hope the parts do arrive before the 21st, but how many days after that will it take for ATG Rehab to get Jodie's chair fixed?  If the shop cannot stock all the needed parts to repair a power chair, why can't they find a faster way to have them delivered when they are needed?

Jodie's chair is more than her legs around the home and around her office.  Her chair is fitted to her body.  It reclines in special ways to accommodate the stiffness of her body and to prevent swelling in her legs and back.

This morning, Jodie called ATG Rehab.  After they told her that parts were ordered and how long it could take for them to come in, Jodie called our insurance, Providence, to let them know how long it was taking to get her chair fixed and that it was not acceptable.  They told Jodie to call Providence In Home  Services and file a complaint.

The lady at Providence In Home Services that Jodie was transferred to did not really understand why Jodie was concerned...that these things take time...in the three-year-old kind of speak that disabled people sometimes get, with the attitude that Jodie did not understand what was going on.

Jodie called Providence insurance back and told them how the lady responded to Jodie's complaint.  They gave Jodie an email address to email a complaint to.

I am now working on the email  What to say...

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Twenty two years

Twenty two years ago today, Jodie and I tied the knot.

The Lutheran church on SE 39th (now Cesar Chavez Blvd.) and Brooklyn....St. Paul Lutheran Church.

I was telling my friends at Special Olympics Oregon how Jodie  and I met when I was three and she was four at Holladay Center in Portland.  At the time it was a school for the physically disabled where classroom instruction was augmented by heavy doses of therapy - physical, occupational, speech - whatever we needed for us to become as independent as possible.

Jodie and I knew each other back then, but we were in different classes and we didn't really hang out back then.  We both left Holladay Center, me in 1973 and Jodie in 1974, to be mainstreamed into public schools.  Before I was mainstreamed, my family moved to Southern California.  They took one look at the braces that I was wearing at the time and they said that I would never be mainstreamed down there.  In 1974 my family returned to Oregon where I was mainstreamed.

Jodie graduated from Portland Lutheran High School in 1982 when I was graduating from Beaverton High School.  Jodie's road took her to take classes at Concordia, Portland State University, and then to Western Business College.  She then traveled around the U.S. with a group called Break Through, educating churches about the need to become accessible for the disabled.

I went to Oregon State University.  I took hard classes and I did not do well.  Engineering, business...not my forte.  I took a class in journalism.  The professors in that department took hold of me and told me "Hey, you are a great writer."  I became a feature writer, a copy editor, and a columnist for the OSU Daily Barometer, a job I loved very much.  After college, I landed a job with World Christian Magazine as an assistant editor.  A great job it was, but the magazine was going under, and I had to raise my own financial support to be there.

In October 1988 I moved home and started looking for work.  I filled out applications and mailed out resumes.  Kind of funny, I remember being a little down at times, but I don't remember being too discouraged.  Something was going to work out...eventually.  I just had to keep moving and stay positive.

In the summer of 1989 I volunteered at a state office in Beaverton.  Don Bougher, the volunteer coordinator, had a Mac computer sitting on the floor in his office.  Kiddies, this is back when computers were still part novelty.  Don asked  me if I could  make that computer sing.  I said, "Yes I can!"  I created a spreadsheet with Lotus 1-2-3 for tracking volunteer hours.

A counselor I went to see mentioned that New Hope Community Church had lots of support groups.  I went.  They had a group for the disabled.  I saw the leader of the group.  "Jodie?" I said.  "Troy?" she replied.  I went to her apartment a few weeks later for dessert.  We really hit it off.  But, I remember thinking, Jodie had a job.  She was working at the Portland Center of  Hearing and Speech as an accounting assistant.  And I, well, I was still a volunteer.

In my quest for self sufficiency, I was packing and getting ready to move to the San Jose area.  A buddy had a room for me down there, I had family down there, and a community college down there had a good program for helping the disabled become employed.

A couple days before I was to leave for California, Don, the volunteer coordinator, spoke with Gary, the Children Services Division branch manager, whether he might have a job for me.  A day later, Gary put my "flying fingers" to work as a typist.

It took a few months for Jodie and I to reconnect.  She was so busy with church that she did not have time for anything else.  When we finally got together in February of 1990, it was pretty evident that we were meant to be together.

Jodie is a great people person and speaker,  I am a thinker and a writer.  We each have strengths and weaknesses.  Together we are greater than the sum of our strengths.   On September 8, 1990, in front a church filled with family and friends, with Pastor Dave presiding, Jodie and I exchanged "I do's".

Twenty two years.  I miss the people who were with us back then who are no longer with us, the grandma's and grandpa's.  Ken, Jodie's brother-in-law, who walked her down the aisle.  Two weeks after our wedding Ken was diagnosed with cancer and four years later he passed away.  My friend Erick, who was supposed to be one of my groomsmen, had tumors in his head, that prevented him from flying out from St. Louis to be in our wedding.

Twenty two years.  Jodie and I had no plans to have kids.  Our plan was to take care of each other and to be as independent as possible.  What's the old adage - if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Eric James was born nearly 17 years ago.  Yes, life has been a whirlwind since then.

Yes, I do have a book to write.  Do I have the discipline to do so?  Well.....


Monday, September 03, 2012

Judging disability

Judging others is generally seen as a bad thing to do.

It may be a surprise to the non-disabled community that we who are disabled, when we cross each other, tend to judge each other's disability.  It's not really in a bad way.

With my disability, my dexterity is quite affected.  Handwriting is hard for me...and it is not very legible.  Drinking from a cup or glass is difficult for me because of how my hands shake.  I can't button a shirt.  I probably could not drive your car.

When I need to take notes, I use a computer, a recorder, or I have someone take notes for me.  I chug my coffee and water through a straw.  I use a tool called a buttoner to button my shirts, though anymore I rarely wear a shirt that requires buttoning.  I drive a Sprinter van..an automatic with a steering knob.

I walk with some difficulty, but with my walker for shorter distances and my scooter for longer distances, I manage to get to where I need to go,

When I see another disabled person, I want to figure out what their disability is, what their challenges are, and how they have overcome them.

The Paralympic 2012 Games are on in London right now.  For those who may not know, it is Olympic games for people with disabilities.  Thank you Wheelie Catholic for the updates.

I came across this article in the New York Times that discusses how paralympians have their disability judged prior to going to the Paralympics to see what classification they will compete under.

What struck me in this article is how each sport has their own set of classifications.  Athletes can appeal their own classification if they think it's too high, or their opponents classification if they think it is too low.

Once classed, some of the athletes practice so hard and become so good at their event that other competitors believe that they should be in a higher classification.

Then there are 245 athletes who are classified as borderline, which means they could be classed high in one classification, or low in the next.

Judge not lest you be judged, unless you are a paralympian, where you are judged first so you can be properly judged later.



Saturday, September 01, 2012

Major inconvenience

A week ago last Wednesday, Jodie drove her power chair home.  It smelled really hot.  She called Eric and he met her in our garage.  One of the metal tube casings in back of her chair was very hot.

Jodie called our insurance.  They told us to take the chair to a shop in Milwaukie.  The shop in Portland is no longer servicing power chairs.  We were a tiny bit relieved to hear that, because they serviced it earlier this year, the chair has not been holding a charge.  Jodie use to be able to travel from home to her office (a mile) and back twice (4 miles) before her chair needed a charge. Now, a single one-way trip and the chair needs a charge.

I took Jodie's chair to the shop on Thursday...ten days ago.  They did not offer her a loaner, and we did not want one after the accident Jodie had in her last loaner.

It took a week for the shop to get authorization to work on Jodie's chair.  It could take another week or two for parts to be ordered and the chair to be fixed.  I can't begin to tell you the hardship this is on her.

She is using our manual wheelchair at work.  It does not fit her well.  We bought what we could afford, and we bought it for emergencies.

We are leaving the wheelchair at work during the week and Jodie is using her crutches to get from the van to her office.

I have trouble pushing Jodie in the manual chair.  Last night we went to a retirement party at the Fourth Street Pub.  I was having trouble getting Jodie up the curb cut.  A stranger saw me struggling from within the Pub.  He came running out to help us.  The guy had a prosthetic leg.  I was really amazed by his kindness!

Anyway, say a prayer that Jodie's chair is fixed as fast as possible.  It is more than just her ride now.  It is her comfort and her independence.



"People stare at you...it's fantastic!"

I am doing a bit of homework for my volunteership st the Special Olympics Oregon.

Yes, I know it's not a real word.  The position that I applied for was an internship.  When they saw how crazy old I am...and that I am way out of school...they classed me as a volunteer.

I like the internship feel of this.  Ryan, my supervisor, is giving me a variety of things to do.  Right now I am researching some material for SOOR to tweet.  I came upon this wonderful commercial:





Perspective.  It is all about perspective.

I know that mine needs changing.

I bet maybe your's...no,  I'm not going to go there.  I'm not going to start talking to empty chairs.

;)



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Go Gresham Little League!

A couple weeks ago, on a Friday night, Jodie and I picked up some dinner and took it to the Gresham Main City park.  Eric was in New Orleans with Lutheran youth from across the country.

We were pleased to see a team of Little League All Stars practicing.  Jodie and I love to follow the Little League World Series on tv every August.  These kids were good.  According to the signs, they were getting ready for districts.

We were both thinking it...I don't know which one of us said it..."Wouldn't it be cool if these kids make it to Williamsport?

My mind went tripping back to when Eric was in T-ball.  Bright sunshine glimmering on the early morning dew at North Gresham Park.  The kids had to be pointed toward first base.  As the kids got older, the games moved to East Gresham Elementary.

I remember the jamborees at Gresham Main City Park.  Jodie won the raffle one year - a party suite at a Portland Beavers game.  I remember the lady that was in charge of the Gresham Little League was so happy that Jodie won.  We took the team and their families...so much fun!

So long ago.  Now Eric is 6'5" and a high school ace.

Even so, this week as the Gresham boys pursue their dreams in Williamsport, we will be watching.

Jodie will be rooting for them loudly until she is hoarse.  Eric will be saying, "Mom, they can't hear you!"

Go Gresham Little League!  We are proud of you!

The Wittrens




Thursday, August 02, 2012

Taking part of greatness

We are down in Coos Bay for a few days this week to watch our son's baseball team play in the state single A American Legion baseball tournament.

The aged vet who took our money at the gate - I saw him hop on his adult tricycle in the afternoon.  I was moved by that because that used to be my primary mode of transportation.  A lifetime of serving and he continues to serve in whatever way he can.

Clyde Allen Field, a classic baseball venue.  The flag that waves high above the stands was once waving on a flag pole in Afghanistan.

The look in the kids eyes as they were asked to repeat the words of the American Legion baseball code of conduct was read to them:


I Will: Keep the Rules;
Keep Faith with my teammates;
Keep my temper; Keep myself fit;
Keep a Stout heart in defeat;
Keep my pride under in victory;
Keep a sound soul; A clean mind; And a Healthy body

The kids were antsy and just wanted the game to start, I know, but I hope they heard the words and tucked the words somewhere in their hearts. Great words to live by.

A game with Central Point on Wednesday, and a game with North Medford this morning.  Neither game went as we would have preferred.

Even so, the great American pastime played with heart by Oregon high school boys from across the state, mixed with the patriotic tradition of the American Legion - how can you not feel awe of the greatness of it all?

I have heard some of the olympians say that winning is great, but just being there to witness the greatness of it all is almost as great.

My hope is that one day, after the sting of defeat has passed, the boys will remember with pride the American Legion state baseball tournament they were part of and the words of the code of conduct they recited will come to mind.

Winning is great, but taking part of greatness is never a loss.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

A Good Life

I was working at my volunteership yesterday down at the Special Olympics of Oregon,  I am there 10-2 on Fridays.

I am photo editing right now, going through hundreds of photos of last years Polar Plunge, re-sizing and cropping them for the new site.  I will be working on another site after this...the Bite of Oregon.

The intern cubical that I work at is pretty starkly decorated.  A couple notebooks, and a yellow sticky pinned to the wall.

Just a few simple words, but they say so much.

A good life is when you
Assume nothing
do more
need less
smile often
dream big
laugh a lot
And realize how blessed you are.


These words mean a lot to me right now, Even though I am nearing 50, I am still trying to grow up. I have ideas of where I want to be and what I want to do...but realities get in the way.

I searched Google to find where these words came from. What I found is that the author is unknown.


I wonder who posted these words on that sticky note?


My supervisor, "Avery" as everyone calls him, signs each of his emails with "Dream Big".


Hmm. Infectious optimism.


My heart knows the truth of these words.


Life is not about where we are going; it is about where we are right now.


Dream Big...Laugh a lot...And realize how blessed you are.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Me and U2

Some people have it all together.  Thanks to God and His great mercy, I have never been accused of such a thing!

I went to college in the 80's.  For a guy who has trouble writing notes, and even more trouble reading them, college was hard.  Some professors would give me that look "Why on earth are you here?"

The fun part of college for me was meeting Dave, Lisa, Frank and a myriad of other friends at the "Donut" shop to try to solve the problems of the world.  I also enjoyed my fellowship with brothers and sisters in Campus Ambassadors, the campus christian group I was involved in.

I spent a lot of time in college by myself, studying really hard.  When you have a disability, such as the cerebral palsy that I have, your whole life is about overcoming.

I had a secret stress relief.  When nobody was around, I would slip a cassette tape into my boom box.  One tape in particular I listened to over and over again.

And I would dance.

The lines played through my soul like a prayer:

"Where the streets have no name"

"I have climbed the highest mountain...but I still haven't found what I am looking for"

"And you give...and you give...and you give yourself away"

U2...the Joshua Tree.

When I heard about the event that our intern at church, Vicar Ray, was putting together, I was beside myself.  U2christ, a social justice and worship event to the music of U2.

Click on this graphic below for event info:




Here is a song I hope they do...with BB King, of course...;):



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Breaking out of the groove...going to the Hub

I am liking my new 4/10 schedule with Fridays off.  My supervisor at the Special Olympics was out of town Friday, so I had a day to myself to fill up.

Jodie had a meeting at the district office, so I dropped her off.  I came back home. I had a few hours to kill before my lunch downtown with Sam.

Last February I had gone to a meetup in Portland to learn about search engine optimization from Mr. SearchCommander himself, Scott Hendison.  Scott use to coach Eric's baseball team a ftew years back.  

At that meetup I met Haley from Lewis Creative.  Their job is to brand your image, which I think is really fascinating - "Mad Men" type of work.  She gave me her card.

Haley invited me to come to a meeting that she and cohort Sarah (of Garrison Marketing Solutions) host on Friday's from 10 to 2 in Gresham.  It is called the HUB - a place for local business owners to meet and collaborate.

I have been leery of going to the meeting.  I am not a business owner and I am not a professional.  I have way more to learn than I have to share.  I know a little about everything but not a lot about anything.  Even so, I am learning what I can about creating websites with WordPress, and about promoting websites.

I nearly talked myself out of not going to the meeting.  Lately I have been experiencing anxiety when I am confronted with new situations.  I don't know why.  With my disability I seem prone to stay in my defined world.  I have a life in my own little world that is totally accessible to me.  Why venture in unknown territory where I might run into people who might not understand me or my disability?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

I am finding a lot of inspiration from Einstein these days.  A genius, yes, but he knew more about failing than he did about succeeding.

I made my way to Park Place Coffee.  There were lot's of people inside.  I went to the front of the shop and bought a cup of coffee.  I asked the barista to bring the coffee to my table when she finished helping the customers who were in line behind me.

There was a bunch of tables pushed together with people who all had laptops set up.  I set up at a table behind them.  When they realized I was there for Hub, they invited me over to their table.

Haley was with a client.  Sarah came over to find out what kind of projects I was working on.  I told her that I was working with WordPress and that I could use some advice.  Sarah told me to talk with Al at the end of the table.

Al was talking  to the barista, helping her with internet marketing strategies for the cafe.  It was nice to hear how business at the cafe has gone way up on Fridays since the Hub has been meeting there, way beyond the Hub members themselves, leading us to wonder if a busier cafe draws more business.

When I was able to talk with Al, he wanted to see some of my work.  I had him look at wittren.com.  Al said it was a nice, simple and clean site.  He read some of what I wrote and he said to me, "Wow, you are really a good writer!"

The compliment was very nice - it really surprised me.  Al had some helpful hints about the projects I am working on.

It was a very encouraging being around other creative people.  It reminded me of my six month stint on the magazine back in 1988.  The idea of talented, creative professionals coming together to help each other rather than compete against or one-up each other is such a positive environment.  No bad ideas, just better ideas...letting the creative juices flow.

I am still a novice in the world of WordPress, SEO and other technical matters, but I have dreams of learning what I need to know to become successful in such a world.  I have further dreams of one day helping other people with disabilities find economic self sufficiency using these kind of skills.

I may not ever get there, but it is really more about the journey rather than the destination.  It is nice to know there are people like the people at the Hub to help along the way.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sometimes it rains...

I have been sorely neglecting this blog...I know.  I think of stuff to write, but the words do not come to me.  Maybe if I pound a few keys, the juices will flow and melt my writers block.

For the last month and a half I have been driving Jodie to Salem for a special project for work.  I have been working remotely from Salem on a very slow connection.  It is nice that the district allows me to transport Jodie and that my manager is supportive of that.

It has also been nice to work with Jodie again.  Jodie and I use to work side by side twelve years ago.  We worked well together.  My weaknesses are her strengths and vise versa.  I used to tell people "Yeah, we work well together.  She does everything I say!"

Last week was the final week of the first phase of the project in Salem.  No more three days a week in Salem, except for one week of phase two of the project next month.  It will be nice to be back in my office this week.

For the past couple weeks, the highlight of our life has been seeing our son's baseball team, Portland Christian, take second place in district.  They did so by beating Gaston 14-4.  Eric pitched well, the boys were hitting and fielding well - a beautiful game.

A week later, last Thursday, we were at Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls for game one of the state 1A/2A playoffs against Lost River.  The game was at 5:30.  The team left at 7:30 in the morning for the six and a half hour drive.  It gave the boys a couple hours to unwind from the drive and to prepare for the game...perhaps not long enough though.

Jodie and myself, along with Jodie's mother and sister, Denise, drove our van, Jet White, down to see the game.

Observations from our road trip:

  • The Oregon 58 cut-over to US 97 does not have many accessible restrooms along the way.
  • It was snowing in the pass on the way home. 
  • The closer we  got to 80 mph, the more our van starts to shake and rattle.  I'm not sure how we figured that one out ;)
  • When you are leaving a motel at 5 in the morning and you see a guy hot wiring a sports truck as you are turning around in the back parking, you can stop and tell the girl at the front desk, but there really isn't much she can do.
Hmm...seems like I'm forgetting something...

Oh yeah...the game...how did it go?

Eric pitched well, we thought. The ump did not concur with our assessment.  He was calling "ball" on everything Eric threw unless it was dead center in the zone.  Our fielding and our bats were off.  Perhaps car lag?  I'm not sure.

Our throw-out at home mysteriously became a "foul ball", much like the foul ball by Gaston mysteriously became a "grand slam" off of Eric earlier in the season.

We lost to Lost River 10-2.

Pastor Mike had the wisest words: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."  I Googled it.  The quote is from the move "Bull Durham".  Great quote!

It says everything.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

First day at SOOR

My first day in my volunteer position at the Special Olympics of Oregon.  I pushed and held the button to open the small, open top, elevator door.  Instead of the door opening, the elevator went up.

Arthur walked by and asked me if the elevator was working.  He went upstairs to help send it back down.  When I made it upstairs, he showed me how to jiggle the door so the contacts meet.  An elevator with a personality disorder.

I made it to to the cubical where the interns and community partners sit.  My supervisor, Ryan, helped me to sign into their system.  They use Microsoft Outlook for their email.  I found that interesting because at my regular job with the State they just changed us over from Groupwise to Outlook email, so I am now familiar with Outlook.

Ryan wanted to know how I take notes.  Basically on the computer...or memory.

I was having trouble with the computer keyboard.  It was one of those Dell keyboards that don't have much of an edge to it.  He offered me an ergonomic keyboard.  I don't do well with those either.  For people without the dexterity issues that I have, this is hard to understand.  I need time to get use to computers...the keyboard and the mouse.   My unruly fingers need to learn where to go and where to not go on the keyboard.  I also need to get use to the sensitivity of the mouse.

I don't do well with people watching what I am doing.  I get nervous and my CP really acts up.  Ryan was really patient with me.  I know it sounds weird, but I hate when other people have to deal with my disability.  I fear that I look awkward, or even incompetent, as I figure out  how to do things in a new environment.

 I asked Ryan if I could bring in my netbook to use.  I do really well with the small keyboard and room for my hands on the side.  He said that I could, and that other people do that.

Ryan gave me the assignment of finding the right WordPress them for the website, and then  to send him an email with my top picks.  It was a really good assignment.  I found four themes that I liked and I pitched them to Ryan in an email.

My mind went back 23 years ago when I was a volunteer with the State.  The office drama when I started was burnt popcorn in the microwave setting off the smoke alarm.  Yesterday at SOOR the office drama was a dead refrigerator in the break room.  People were trying to figure out what was still good and what wasn't.  The Drumsticks in the freezer were now Drumstick shakes according to one guy.

After my four hour shift, I headed out to the van.  Ryan was not there because he had a lunch meeting with a group.  Ryan saw me at the van and came over.  He had a chocolate doughnut from Starbucks for me...so nice!

It's invigorating to do something new outside my routine.  I like working on websites, but I have not had much success at it yet.  Eventually I would like to make more of a career of it.

Week one down.


Saturday, May 05, 2012

New title: Intern

With humility and joy I would like to announce that I am taking on an additional title for the next couple months - intern.

I'm sure that when Ryan posted the craigslist as looking for a web intern that he was thinking more college student...not a guy 25 years past that.  We emailed back and forth.  He wanted to make sure I wanted to do this.

I was excited about having the chance to work for a great organization: the Special Olympics of Oregon.  Their life affirming mission rates high with me.  Jodie and I participated in some Special Olympics events as kids at Holladay Center, years ago.

I met with Ryan yesterday at the Oregon Special Olympics headquarters down on Macadem.  It was a bold step for me.  I have been dealing with a lack of confidence lately.   I have been working on websites for years as a hobby, but success has been eluding me.  I have been making free websites for years, for people who don't quite know what they want...and giving them exactly that!

Ryan told me that this is not a paid internship.  I told him that was okay, that I am just wanting to get experience.  We shook hands.

I will be working on the Bite of Oregon website.  Ryan wants to move it over to WordPress.  I have been working with WordPress lately.  There is no guarantee that the website that I make will be the one that is used in the end.

I need to step up with ideas, make my pitch, and produce.

Somehow I am going to move my work hours so that I can be at the intern desk down on Macadam.  I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity to learn.

My hope is success for that success to open doors for me in the future.

Prayers and well wishes would be really appreciated for me in this endeavor.

;)



Friday, April 27, 2012

A shout out to some great people

My scooter wasn't charging.  We replaced the batteries last summer, so I didn't think it was those.

The shop close to our house wanted $50 just to look at it...money we don't have to burn.

We called our friends at All in One Mobility.  It was a fuse...no cost to fix.

They remembered us...and called us friends.

A great business!

All In One Mobility, Portland, Oregon, wheelchair vans, accessible roll-in shower, handicap, wheelchair lift, walk in bath, ramps, wheelchairs, ada shower, stair chair.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Chest pains...go to the ER...

I was not feeling good at work yesterday.  I wax working on an adoption assistance case that had been held up because of bugs in the system.  I just wanted to muddle through and git 'er done...and get to 5 o'clock.

Jodie was home on furlough, so I drove straight home after work.  I came in and told Eric and Jodie I wasn't feeling well.  I went down to the bedroom, went to the bathroom, then I was going to lay down.  The pain in my chest was pretty strong.  I have been down this road before.  I did not want an ambulance ride.

I went and told Eric and Jodie that my chest was really hurting.  We all decided I should go in to the ER. I asked Eric to load us into the van and drive us.

We went down to Providence Hospital.  There was a crowd in the lobby, but when they heard I had chest pains, they got me right in.

The nurse tried to get my blood pressure.  He wrapped the thing around my arm.  The machine was having trouble getting a reading.  He told me to be still...not the thing to tell a cp'er because it makes us all the more nervous and makes us shake all the more...but I tried.  I was surprised because I have had my blood pressure taken before with no trouble.  They hooked me up to the ekg machine and everything appeared normal.

Jodie wanted to be with me in the intake room, but there was not room for her power chair.  It seemed funny to us, because last time they made room.  Jodie and I feel that people are used to seeing disabled people with able bodied helpers, but not two disabled people together.

I was hooked up to oxygen...good stuff!  They took me back to one of the ER rooms.  They hooked me up to all the machines, and gave me an inhaler to breathe in.  They x-rayed my chest.

All that was found was some inflammation on the walls of my lungs.  I have bronchitis they think.  It is viral, so there is no meds to prescribe.  They did prescribe an inhaler...and ibuprofen for pain.

I have been sitting out too much in the cold, wet, Oregon spring watching my boy play baseball.  SisD says I need to where a hat and a scarf.  Yeah, right!  So uncool!

Yes, I am going to live.  The pain seems stronger this time than it was last time.

Two days off work, then back to Dilbert cubeville.

;)


Sunday, March 25, 2012

"No money...just please, pray for me"

Jodie's birthday is coming up soon.  Yes, she will once again be the "older woman."

Her list of birthday wants is short.  One is this side bag for her power chair - one of the velcro straps tore off the bag and needed to be sewn back on.  It had been sitting on the dresser for a long time.  Jodie wanted to take it to a seamstress shop she knew about in downtown Gresham.

I decided to take it down to the shop and see what they could do.

I parked the bus around the corner, took out my walker and walked a couple blocks to the shop.  With our bus, I prefer to park further away and have more room to pull out than to park in a closer but tighter spot.

I was winded by the time I got to the shop.  The door was propped open.  An older lady was leaving as I walked in.  The seamstress had me sit down and she asked me what I needed.

I pulled out the side bag and showed her where the strap was coming off the bag.  I explained that I could leave the bag and pick it up another day...that it was not a rush job.

The seamstress said she had black thread in here sewing machine and that it would not take long for her to fix it.  Sure enough, she took it back behind the partial wall and had it all sewn up in very quick time.

She came back out with the bag and tried to put it on my walker.  I said  "No," and I took that bag.  Me being winded, with my cerebral palsy, and she had an accents - it  made communication tricky.

I offered to pay her.  I really wanted to pay her, because even though it did not take her long, I realize shops like hers are struggling.

She told me, "No money...just please, pray for me."

Her request did not seem flippant to me.  I sensed there was a real need to pray for.

As I walked back to our bus, I felt determined to keep that seamstress in my prayers.

I know that blessings will come to her.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My greatest discomfort - total brain freeze

No, it's not the back or neck pain that I occasionally feel that causes my greatest discomfort.

Yesterday I drove down to Salem, walked into an unfamiliar office, walked up to the front desk and said, "Hi, I'm here for and interview."

The guy at the front desk handed me a sheet with the interview questions on it.

The first question is the shortest, but I am stymied by it. I skip it an go to the other questions.  I figure out answers to them.  I go back to the first question and I still cannot think of a good answer.

My greatest discomfort - total brain freeze.  Writing and editing words is a gift I have; thinking quick and finding the right words to say is not.

The supervisor came and got me.  She led me to the star chamber.  Four other people we waiting for me. The supervisor said that I could read the questions myself or have them read to me.  I asked to have them read to me; gives me more time to think.

The questions are read and I start to talk.   Words are coming from my mouth, but I cannot tell if the questions are being answered.  I  don't know if the train is on the track or off the track.

"Why am I so darn spacey?"  I wonder.  Is it my cerebral palsy?  Is it my type B personality?  Is it just my overall spaciness?  I don't know.

The supervisor walks me out.  She is chatting with me and made me feel comfortable.

I get back to my van.  I start beating myself up for being so darn spacey.  Why do I do this to myself?  Before I deliver the fatal blow to my ego, another thought pops into my brain - whether or not I get the position, they saw the real me.

And that, my friend, is a good interview.

Monday, March 12, 2012

To fail or to succeed...

I worry to much...ask anyone who knows me.

I love quotes.  Among my favorite:

Thomas Edison: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Helen Keller: "“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

Oh, and Uncle Ed (I need to paraphrase this one): "You set your eyes on a goal. You end up somewhere else. One day you realize that where you have ended up isn't that bad after all."

All this I share as I give birth to a new website.



My idea is that everyone has a story to tell, and a blog is a great place to tell it.  WordPress is a wonderful blogging and website cms (content management system).  I have found a great local company to host my websites.  The owner, Scott Hendison, use to coach my son's baseball team several years ago.  If I get into technical trouble, I know who I am working with...I am not on my own to flounder.

With givemeastory.com, I am offering people a chance to blog without committing to their own blog.  I think it would be neat to see a totally eclectic blog...different authors, different ideas.

I also want to offer to set up and host WordPress blogs or websites for people.  As an extra service, I want to offer up my writing and editing skills to help people write and/or edit their own blogs.  I am thinking there are people who want to have a quality web presence, but who need help to make it a reality.

Will I succeed or will I fail?

Wrong question, Uncle Ed would say.  I will end up somewhere, and it won't be that bad of place.


Friday, February 24, 2012

A little pot for my pain?

Yesterday I had just left the doctor's office and I was headed to our van.  No disabled spots had been available, so I parked on the far end of the lot to give me more backup room for my big rig.

I was walking down the long breezeway with my walker, doing my wild man walk.

A woman walked up and gave me her card.  Happens all the time, what can I say.

"Do you smoke?"

"Uh...no."  I didn't tell her about the Swisher Sweets I use to smoke with Dan up on the forest roads in our college days.

She gave me a card that says: "Medical Cannabis Community OMMP Resource Center".  It also has a website: www.nationalgreenfriends.com.

She proceeded to tell me the virtues of medical marijuana, that it would really help me, but that doctors would not tell me that.

I think medical marijuana is fine for people in pain.  Bad pain can destroy your disposition.  If a little pot helps, where's the harm.

Marijuana for me?  I wondered if she thought it would help with my wild man walk?  Even if I were at home with no where to go I would be afraid to use it because when I had to walk somewhere, like the bathroom, I might be too stoned to safely get there.

Plus, the woman has not seen what one beer does to me.

Anyway, it made me laugh.




Sunday, February 19, 2012

What is God's view of disability?

Ridiculous question, I know.  God loves everyone.  His forgiveness is available to all of us.  None of us is lesser or greater in His eyes.  The intellectual side of me knows all this.

Sometimes though, in the midst of struggle, in the darkness when I feel weak, I wonder "why am I disabled?  Why do I need to deal with this?"

The stories of the healings that Jesus performed in the Gospels have always inspired me and bothered me.  I am inspired by the hope that at anytime Jesus could speak a word and heal me.  I am bothered by the thought "Why doesn't he heal me?"

WHEELIE cATHOLIC: Scripture reflection on disability

Wheelie found this treasure of a reflection  on disability in Scripture.

I am not inferior because I am disabled.  I am not lacking because I am disabled.  Whether or not I am "whole" is not dependent on my disability being miraculously stripped away.

Rather, disability is  part of my identity, part of who I am.  No different than black, white, male or female...it's a key part of who I am.

I agree with Wheelie:

"I love the ending where it notes that the paralytic and his friends were never seeking healing, but a means of access to join the crowd and hear Jesus preach."

I need from God the same thing you need from God - His love, His grace, His mercy, His salvation.

I need from God what you need from God - no more, no less.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The greatest birthday conspiracy of all

I turned 48 the other day. Dang old - you got that right!

Jethro Tull put it so well - "Too old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too young to die".

Middle age blues, maybe, but I am not depressed.  The good Lord puts us all here for a purpose...I just want to make sure that I do everything I can to fulfill that purpose.

You get to a certain age and the end starts to come in sight.  The question "Have I done all that I'm supposed to do" starts to gnaw at you.

Jodie and Eric took this big box of writings from my college days.  My dear mother-in-law took my writings and, with the help of Eric, sister-in-law Denise, and nephew Vance, made a huge two volume set of scrapbooks of my writings.

In the mid '80s I was a feature writer for The Daily Barometer, the student newspaper for Oregon State University.  I was also a copy editor.  My favorite job was that of columnist.

I only got $7 a column.  It came out weekly and it was called "Witticisms".  The money kept me supplied with Pepsi and cookies, but the real payoff was that I had a voice.  I learned that in order to make people laugh, you need to make them  feel.  Make them laugh, make them cry, make them mad.  We all have preconceived notions about everything.  The easiest way around that is through a person's heart.

As I thumb through the scrapbooks, I am amazed.  I wrote a lot of stuff!

"Kerr legend appears to be a little more of a myth."  The namesake of OSU's library was not a crook, but as a president of the early Oregon Agricultural College, he bent rules as far as he could without breaking them.  Anyway, this was my first story that made the front page of  The Barometer.  That  was a big deal in the day.

My columns. Wow!  I wrote a lot of sappy stuff!  I wrote a lot about how being weird, going against the norm, is okay. I wrote many columns about My Buddy (myself) with a disability dealing with every day challenges.  I will need to figure out how to share some of these columns with you.

There are also many issues of "In Pursuit", a newsletter I edited for the Campus Ambassadors group I was involved in.  We had writers, and a great cartoonist who was in high school.  We worked hard and produced a pretty slick newsletter with the goal of getting people thinking about God.

The greatest thing about these scrapbooks is that it has my juices flowing again.  I was a prolific writer in my college days - some of it good, some of it bad, but some of it great.

The great birthday conspiracy has me believing I can get back there.

Jethro Tull was wrong.  I am not too old for rock 'n roll...and I am way to young to die!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Walk...Walk...Walk...Crash!

I drove to downtown Portland today to have lunch with Sam.  We were roommates at Varsity House down in Corvallis 29 years ago.  We meet up downtown for lunch twice a year, around our birthdays, to catch up with each other with what is happening with our families, our jobs, and, my favorite...politics.

I usually pick Sam up and we drive down Barbur and pick a restaurant.

Today I  was early.  I kept driving around Sam's office at the Oregonian Building.   I don't like just driving around downtown, so I finally found a place to park about a block from where I meet Sam.

I pulled in behind a car and parked, and a car pulled behind me and parked.  With our massive van, I felt boxed in.  I got my walker out and walked down to meet Sam.  We walked about 3 or 4 blocks down to McDonald's.

Going all that way on a walker is a chore.  Much of the challenge was navigating the curb some are really steep and some are more like a mini step.

After lunch, after I said goodbye to Sam at his office, I was crossing Columbia at Broadway on the East side of the intersection.

I was watching the sign: Walk...Walk...Walk...Don't Walk.  My walker hit the curb cut.  My walker tipped forward and I landed on top of the walker.  My shin hit the bar pretty hard.  I  was so embarrassed!   I was hurting a bit, but I moved as fast as I could to get up.  I did not want anyone to stop to help me.  There was a line of cars going by.  I was thinking, "Please, nobody stop."

Nobody stopped.  I struggled and I got up.

There are good curb cuts downtown and bad ones.  But why so random?

I know, there is not enough money to fix all the curb cuts downtown.  But the City of Portland needs to acknowledge that real danger exists for the disabled downtown as long as that investment is not made.

A champion's heart is not always rewarded...

...but sometimes it is:

Special needs teen sinks varsity 3-pointer | kgw.com Portland

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Cerebral palsy - birth complications or genetic?

Jodie and I both have cerebral palsy...in case you have not figured that one yet.

Jodie was a premie, weighing less than two pounds. I had always thought that my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, cutting off oxygen to my brain. Mom told me last week that was not true, though there was reason to think that some oxygen had been cut to my brain at birth.

Cerebral palsy has always been thought to have been caused by some complication at birth, until now. Last week it was reported that most cases of cerebral palsy may have genetic causes, just like other developmental disabilities.

It is not hard to see why people would believe the complications at birth theory.  Birthing is such a complicated miraculous process - there  is always room to say this or that could have happened to cause cerebral palsy.

According to Medscape, the rate of cerebral palsy has remained the same in the last 40 years.  You would think that with the vast advances in medicine over that time,  that the rate of cerebral palsy would have gone down under the complications-at-birth theory.

When Jodie was pregnant in 1995, we checked with her doctor to see if we had an increased chance of having a baby with cerebral palsy.  Under the prevailing thought the cerebral palsy was not genetic, the doctor assured us that the answer was "no."

Today,  the answer to that question might be different.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sad day for Peek users

You probably don't know what a Peek is, and therein lies the problem. Mine stopped working two days ago. I sent an email to customer care.

Peek axes first-gen emailer service in favor of cloud - SlashGear

A Peek is a pocket-sized gadget with a full keyboard that handles email and text. I used it mostly for texting my son, Eric, and to read hourly email summaries of my tweets.

I paid monthly for my service, though they offered lifetime service for around $250. I was tempted to buy the lifetime service, though I never really expected that it would last a true lifetime.

Dear Peek user,
Since we launched Peek in September 2008, we received amazing accolades for the product and the support of many, many Peeksters like you.
Since 2010 the business has been taking off in a direction that moved us away from these devices -- putting our cloud platform and software to work bringing smart apps to simple devices made by other mobile phone makers.
We have been winding down the US service since late 2010, and at the end of 2011 this email address was connected to one of a few Peek devices still operating in the US. At the end of January, this last batch of devices was decommissioned.
I'm sorry to report that this
As our Peek cloud powers increasing millions of devices around the world, we hope you'll find yourself using our apps for services like mail, chat, picture sharing, and cloud backup. Indeed, we were just honored by the global mobile industry association with a prestigious Best Technology award nomination. You can read more about this and where we are heading at http://peek.ly/blog
All the best,
Amol
Peekster-in-Chief



I am surprised that I was not warned of Peek service ending. I have a cellphone that I can text with, but with the telephone style keyboard I have a hard time texting with it. I have not decided whether to upgrade to a smartphone. I can't really do that until December when my current contract is up.
II wish that T-mobile, the carrier that handled the Peek email service, could offer us dumped Peek users. T-mobile is also my cellphone carrier, but I know if I went into the store and tried to explain this to them they would not have a clue what I was talking about.
Now Peek invites us to use their app for cloud services? I don't think so!



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thank you bud!

We were up at the hospital today.  We feared that a "funny feeling" Ma2 had could have been a bad thing.  Everything turned out fine.  We all went to her house afterward to rejoice.  We shared the birthday cake that she made yesterday.  Life's little scares have a way of redirecting our attention to the important stuff.

I didn't know if I was going to be able to leave the hospital.   I got myself stuck.

When Jodie and I got to the hospital, I dropped Jodie off by the front door.  I went to look for a disabled parking spot.  There was none available in that lot.  I  saw a car pull out of a regular parking spot, so I pulled our oversized van into that spot.  The thought crossed my mind that pulling out was not going to be fun.

When it came to leave, I climbed the hill with my walker.  I got some funny looks.  It was a pretty steep hill.  I put my walker in the van.

I backed out, then pulled up over to the left.  I needed room on the right to swing out.  I have a backup camera, but I have trouble telling how close the back corner of the van is to the cars in back when I am trying to turn out.

This guy was waiting for my spot.  I kept pulling forward and back to try to give myself enough room to swing out.  The guy waiting for my spot gave up and drove on.  He came back around and figured  out what I was doing.  I looked at him and he started to give me hand motions to show me how far I could back up.

Now, I know the guy helped me because  he wanted my parking spot, but he really saved my bacon.

Thank you bud!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lawsuit challenges sheltered workshops for Oregon's disabled | Reuters

I heard this story at lunchtime on the radio and I was intrigued:

Lawsuit challenges sheltered workshops for Oregon's disabled | Reuters

After my college days at Oregon State University, where I worked on the student paper as a columnist (Witticisms...imagine that!) and a copy editor, I worked six months as an assistant editor for World Christian magazine, I had to move back home to look for a real job...one that paid.

For a year I sent out resumes. Zero response. I want to a job seekers class through the Hillsboro Chamber of commerce. I had a vocational rehabilitation counselor named Art. He was an awesome guy. He tried lots of stuff to help get my foot in the door. Truth was. I was hard to market.

Truth is, I am hard to market. My cerebral palsy affects the way I walk and the way I talk. Getting a job depends heavily on your book cover appeal.

It was not until I met a couple visionaries who looked past my disability to give me a shot at proving my ability. Don Bougher ran the state volunteer program in Hillsboro. He had an Apple computer sitting on the floor in his office. He did not know what to do with it. He asked if I could write a spreadsheet in Lotus 1-2-3 to track volunteer hours. I volunteered and created the spreadsheet. Don was a visionary; he saw something in me and gave me a shot to prove my ability.

When I was going to move to California to pursue what looked like better job training possibilities, Don spoke with Gary, the child welfare branch manager. He told Gary the only reason I was moving to California was to look for a job. The next day Gary offered me a temp clerical job. Gary was a visionary. That was over 22 years ago. I work as an eligibility specialist now.

I think about the sheltered workshops. I never worked in one, but it seems like I easily could have ended up in one. I was intrigued by the example at the end of the article, 23 year old Eleanor who got a job at a grocery story after a "strong advocate" helped her get out of a sheltered workshop.

It takes visionaries - disabled who have the vision to believe in themselves when few people do, employers who can see past disabilities to see abilities, and advocates who can help both sides to vision the possibility - to make a successful job match happen.

Whether a lawsuit can make all this happen, it will be interesting to see.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A birthday card and a givers heart

We usually fail to honor people when we ought.  We wait until they are gone and kind words are the order of the day.

Tonight we were honoring the 20th birthday of our dear niece Manda Jo.  I remember seeing sis-in-law Pam over at Portland Adventist hospital as if it was yesterday...but I digress.

We were gathered around the table at Old Spaghetti Factory.  Pam and Logan were lighting the 20 candles and trying not to set the place on fire.

My mother-in-law (Ma2) started to hand us each a card.  She was watching me as I opened mine.  A piece of paper, nice cat and dog stationary, was secured inside.  It read:

"My seventy-seventh birthday card to you -
Troy,
I thank God every day for giving me you as my son-in-law.  I am very proud of you and honored that God chose me to be your favorite mother-in-law.  Love ya lots, Pat."

As I contemplate her kind words, I realize that her own words reflect the kind of person she is, always giving and preferring not to be recognized.  Who hands out birthday cards on her own birthday?  My dear mother-in-law does.

Her goodness has made and continues to make this world a better place for so many  people.  Her words reveal the kindness of  her heart.

Tomorrow is her birthday.  I won't say how old she'll be...just wouldn't be appropriate.

Happy birthday Ma2...much love from your favorite son-in-law.

;)


Monday, January 16, 2012

The Wonderful World of a Former Hoochie Mama

Awesome title for a blog:

The Wonderful World of a Former Hoochie Mama

For some of us life is one idyllic episode after another. Perfect spouse, perfect kids, perfect job...

For other's of us, life is not quite so perfect. We need to open our eyes and, with God's grace, search for the perfection in our life. For people like Former Hoochie Mama (Mel) and myself, we need to write about our life to bring the perfections in our life to light.
I am a born again Christian, and I struggle daily to be a decent person. Many people think you have to be perfect to call yourself a Christian - fact is there was only ONE decent and worthy person of being a Christian and His name is Jesus. The rest of us need only to try to be Christ like with his love, mercy and grace.

I am FAR from a perfect Christian, but I am a perfect example of His love, mercy and grace. I will NOT preach to you or at you - I will simply try to display HIS love through my actions and life as much as I can. I will also fail at this at times and I ask for your forgiveness before hand. :)
Please add to your list of must reads!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A "No" to transplant because of cognitive disability?

Yesterday I blogged about the ridiculousness of questioning whether a person with a cognitive disability has the ability to understand and accept God's love.

Today I came across an article about young Mia, who needs a kidney transplant to live.  The problem is that the doctor would not recommend Mia for a transplant because of her cognitive disability.

Mia's mom, Chrissy, writes:
"I begin to shake. My whole body trembles and he begins to tell me how she will never be able to get on the waiting list because she is mentally retarded.
A bit of hope. I sit up and get excited.
“Oh, that’s ok! We plan on donating. If we aren’t a match, we come from a large family and someone will donate. We don’t want to be on the list. We will find our own donor.”
“Noooo. She—is—not—eligible –because—of—her—quality– of –life—Because—of—her—mental—delays” He says each word very slowly as if I am hard of hearing."
Please read her post by clicking here.

Takes me back to sixth grade values education...is that what we called it?  You know, 12 people need to be saved and the rubber raft holds six.  I always figured I would not be one of the six who would saved.  I never understood the value of this exercise except to make me feel like junk.

Little Mia...a life not worth saving?  Doctors playing God?

It makes me feel uneasy..

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Does God's love depend on cognitive ability?

This is an interesting yet ridiculous debate:

Is the Gospel 'Closed' to the Mentally Disabled?, Christian News

The notion that God's love is only available to people who can hear and cognitively process God's love in a prescribed way really bothers me.

Who of us has perfect enough thinking to fully understand God's love? Jesus welcomed the children to Himself and said that we too should

If God's love depended on cognitve ability, space cadets like me would not stand a chance!

If we are going to say that God's love is only for those with perfect understanding, then we are serving a god who is in our mind. No need for God the Father who is in heaven, Jesus His son, and His Spirit within and among us.

Troy...step away from the soap box!

;)