>101 in 1001 – Item 96…

>

Visit the Ashmolean

…has been completed!

If this entry was not a 101 in 1001 completed item entry it would have the alternate title of Cripple-locks and the Three Lifts.

So, yesterday was the Eleventh Month meet up (NaNoWriMo group).  Only we were supposed to meet in Waterstones as Borders is gone.  And we couldn’t get any seats.  Well, I had my own but no one else was that organised.  Mostly it was just me and Steve, one of the others popped in briefly but couldn’t stay and we never found the other person who was coming.  After a long while hanging around to see if we could find tables or other people who are part of the group we gave up.

And I figured as the Ashmolean is really close, free and something I’ve been wanting to do for ages I’d go there.  Steve said he’d come with.  First thing we thought we’d do is pop down to the cafe for a drink.  So we got in a lift.  One of those stupidly shaped ones but thats not really relevant.  Pressed to go down and it took us up.  And the door opened part way. Then shut.  Then opened part way.  Then the rest of the way. Then closed part way. And, well you get the picture it did that for a few minutes and I was getting a little freaked out.  A couple who were waiting for the lift went and found a member of staff and eventually the doors openned completely and I got out of the lift just as said staff member came.  Who said it had been doing that all day.  So, naturally I asked why they hadn’t got some form of “out of order” or “this lift is fucked and tempramental but it does sort of work” sign on it. Apparently that is because it was kind of working.

Yeah.  This is a plan that works really well until it doesn’t and you have to get 18 stone of cripple, their 14 stone powerchair and their friend out of a broken lift.  I have treated them to an e-mail expressing the flaws of this plan and asking for their comments.

So we had a long mooch around the floor we ended up on and it was really interesting, I enjoyed  it.  I’d like to go back and have a longer visit and see the floors we didn’t go on.  There was a lot of pottery and ceramics and some coins.  The Ashmolean is a museum of Art and Archaology so there was loads of stuff from the far east and from times BC etc.

A lot of that stuff is very impressive.  Intricate silver swords and crosses and other things.  I find it interesting because it’s so hard to make that stuff and they didn’t have any tool or machines to help them like we did now.  But then it was probably also easier for people to do so at those times then it is to make handmade replicas now because we’re used to having those machines and tools to help and do the work for us and at the time they were made they weren’t so it probably wasn’t so much of a steep learning curve.  I can’t help feeling that as much as we’ve gain technologically and improved our quality of life and also length of life a lot has been lost in terms of ability and skill because of that technology.

Then we came to the second of the three lifts they have.  That took us down but not to the coffee shop, to a bit with a dark education centre, some stairs and some loos (but not a disabled one). So we called the lift whcih took an extremely long time (minutes) to come and was full of people so we couldn’t get in.  We had to wait four times for it to come with room for us to get in.  And we had to wait several minutes each time.  It got to the point that Steve asked, in all seriousness, if he should go for help.  And commented that he was glad he wasn’t in a wheelchair as it’s time consuming.  Eventually we got out of there but not before the song lyric “I’ve gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing I ever do.” began to go round in my head.  We must have been down there waiting for the lift at least 20 minutes, it was a surreal experience.

Wandered around on the ground floor for a while and then found the third lift.  And that one was just right.

Still didn’t manage to get a drink though; there were no free tables in the cafe.  On the lower ground near the cafe there’s a section on reading and writing.  I’d like to have a good look at it but by the time we found it I was tired and I was just done.  So one for another time.  Another time when I know exactly which of the lifts I’ll be using.

>Trying something new

>

I signed up for Thing a Day 2010 (http://www.thing-a-day.com) the other day.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I have plans for a lot of things this year which hopefully will make things easier for me when it comes to actually completing the challenge.  But we shall see.  I've done it both of the previous two years and I'm sure I thought each time that I'd got it cracked.  And then found I hadn't.

A lot of the ideas I've in mind are small knitting projects like flowers.  I've not been doing much knitting lately so that will be good.  I bought yet more yarn on Tuesday.  I'm also going to make some bracelets I think.  And Colouring!  I don't think I've done any colouring since the last Thing A Day which sucks because I love colouring.  I bought some new felt tips last weekend especially.

Anyway, the new set up this year should make it possible for the posts to go straight to my blog when they post there too.  And that's basically the whole point of this post was that I wanted to try the new set up and see if it works.  So apologies if this looks strange but hopefully it should.

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>Me. I Did That.

>Yesterday I went somewhere and saw they had made changes to their access.  Changes because I had asked for them and suggested what they could be.  Changes which were made extremely quickly (I suggested them Thursday evening).  I was looking at them thinking “I did this.  Me.”

Knowing I achieved something and that I was the one to make a difference is a wonderful feeling.

>Lottery by Patricia Wood

>(cross posted to Reading Challenge)

Dave Hingsburger very occasionally hosts a book club on his blog.  The books he’s chosen so far have all been very good.  And they’ve been very varied in my opinion.  At least one of them (Zoo Station by David Downing) I wouldn’t have picked up for myself in waterstones or wherever and the other two (this one and A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell) are more my sort of book but neither I had heard of before they were mentioned by Dave.  The book this time is Lottery by Patricia Wood.  I had originally thought I wouldn’t be able to get a copy in time thanks to all the snow we’ve had and my not getting out for so long earlier this month.  But then the lovely Heather posted her copy to me once she finished it.  Thanks Heather!

Lottery is a wonderful story about a character Wood names Perry L Crandell.  The L stands for lucky, his Gram always told him.  He’s not the R word (I refuse to use that word in my writing but I suspect most people here know what it is), to be that you have to have an IQ of less than 75 and his IQ is 76.  Not long after the story starts his Gram dies and he ends up all alone.  The rest of his family think he’s an idiot and don’t want anything to do with him, they just take advantage and them dump him to manage by himself.  Until he wins 11 million dollars on the state lottery.

I don’t want to go too much further into “this happens and that happens” because I don’t want to risk ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t read it.  I know a guy who frequently describes the plots of books and shows etc saying he won’t say too much for fear of ruining it and goes so far I’m like “well you just did ruin it for me.”  So I’ll stick with what I’ve said because that’s not much more than a paraphrased version of the back synopsis.

You might think that the idea of falling outside of a category by one IQ point is far fetched.  It’s really not.  I’ve personal experience of having my needs assessed and having it found that I’m literally on the cusp of the category that gets help but sorry, Emma, no help for you!  The biggest thing that happened to me with was help with making food.  I can use the microwave and make sandwiches and get light things out of the oven so even though making food was one of the criteria you could get help for I couldn’t.  Because the help that was available was help to use the microwave.  All of my other needs weren’t ones that social services needed to meet according to their criteria (it’s worth noting that in professional circles my area IS known as one of the worst in the UK for social services funding).  I’ve managed better than I anticipated without the support but financially paying myself for the bits (cleaning) I could no way manage without is a hit I could do without.  And certainly it does affect me in other ways but frustrating as it is it turned out to be of my benefit and it would be strange to have social services input again if it were offered.  I’d probably take it but it would take some getting used too.  And whilst it would be very useful I’m not sure the rigid systems that are generally provided here would feel right to me after so long out of them.  I’m not going to go any further  into my own situation because it’s not relevant and it all happened several years ago.

The book ends with Perry as a very successful man, without most of his money but with everything he wants and success and love.  His family who fought so hard to have him declared incompetent and take his money aren’t as lucky..

I think the overall message of this book is that happiness and success are measured it different ways and that if you think you are successful and if you’re happy than it doesn’t matter if you’re different and society judges you negatively.  It’s certainly a lesson I’ve had to learn in life and one at times I’m still working on remembering and relearning.

>A Few Goals

>A couple of years ago my parents went to New Zealand for five or so weeks at this time of year.  During the time they were away I set myself various goals.  Some of which I achieved and some I didn’t.  I had extra care visits during that time and some of it was to get the carers to do various jobs (which was partially where the failures came from) and some were “oh I must do X sometime” small jobs.  Like the photos I got enlarged and have by my bed – I’d meant to do that for ages until I did it. I was a bit disappointed but when I went through with my mum she said I’d actually achieved a lot.

Early yesterday my parents went off on a trip round South America for three and a half weeks.  I was thinking a few goals to do during this time might be a good idea.

I did myself a to do list in the tasks panel on gmail but that’s things like “wash my blankets” and “empty bins” “put some earrings back in”  and “make a nurse appt” but I thought I would list here the bigger goals.

  • No coke or chocolate between now and when they come back (this is the big one, I think it’s likely to be a huge part of my losing any weight this year and three weeks without the two is also one of my 101 in 1001 goals) FAILED
  • Research changing ISP
  • Sort out WiFi in the house so I can use my netbook online here and go online on the Wii
  • Renew TV license
  • Ring or e-mail all the friends I’ve been meaning to for a while (have sent two of them e-mails already but I think I have at least four more people who fall into that category)
  • Knit my shawl that I keep starting and frogging.

>I’ve been being a complaining crip again

>I just typed a really long ranty I’ve had a bad day blog entry.  But then I deleted it because what is the point.


Lets just say that I’ve made three complaints this year.  Two of which were about access or DDA requirements not being met.  One was a case of shocking customer service.  Two of the complaints I’ve taken to higher ups (one of which had the higher up telling me “you just need to be patient” to which I said that I’d been patient and wasn’t doing it any more.  The second had the higher up apologising, agreeing it wasn’t good enough and promising to investigate.)

And two of those three complaint were made when?  Today.

Yeah, is it any wonder that I’m in a grouchy bad mood right now?


UPDATE: Just had a response to one of my complaints from earlier.  They were really responsive to my comments.  I’m really pleased.

>Lots of Different Little Things

>So I figured it was probably about time I updated this here blog about a few things.

First,Thing a Day is awesome.  It’s a challenge to create one thing a day every day in the month of February.  It should be a complete new thing and can be anything.  A picture, a photo, a piece of writing, a meal, some form of craft, some baking absolutely anything.  I’ve attempted it the past two years and intend to sign up again this year.  I also intend that this year will be the year I complete it!  I have actual plans for a lot of things this year so it’s potentially more promising.  I had planned to sign up today but I see now that they’ve delayed sign up until 24th January.

Something sort of unexpected happened today which made me very happy.  Can’t go into more details but I’m pleased.

I have made zero progress on my 101 in 1001 list so far this year.  Not great but my Dad has lent me his Lord of The Rings DVDs so hopefully I can watch that soon.  I hear the forecast is heavy snow for Tuesday night so maybe if I can’t go to the bureau as planned on Weds I will do it then.

101 in 1001 is a list of 101 tasks which a person sets for themselves and then they have a time frame of 1001 days (about 2.75 years) to complete them.  This is my second list and it explains more about the project at the top of it.  Of my first list I completed about 50.  I think the official website of the project is Day Zero (this is the correct link here, the one on my list is down at the moment).

Weight loss or attempts at such I can’t comment too much on as my scales are broken and have to go back for repair or replacement.  They were sent Saturday so I have no idea when I will get them back or even hear what is happening.  I have still been making baby steps with my eating though so it should be stable if not losing a little.

But the big news is that I bought a Wii.  Most of the exercise/keep fit games they have are no good to me as they require the balance board.  Which is no good for a wheelchair user!  I have however found several activity/exercise games which I can do from my chair.  I’ve had it about ten days now and I’ve been using it for exercise everyday – they’re quite hard work and a lot of fun.  Because of the high cost of buying the Wii I am determined to use it everyday to get my moneys worth from it.  And my arms are aching and I’m getting out of breath when playing on them too so it must be some good form of exercise.

Finally, as some of you will know, I used to take part in the 100 Book Club where people shared what their reading goals (in terms of pages and/or number of books) were for the year and posting regular updates.  If you hit your goal you got your name highlighted and if you hit the 100 book goal you got a lil icon.  It didn’t run last year so I guess it’s now defunct.  And I really missed having that sort of thing.

So I’ve set up my own challenge or group blog for readers over at Reading Challenge.  It’s gonna run a bit differently to the 100 Book Club and it’s designed to be inclusive and accessible to all.  So all are welcome if you goal is 100 books or just 1 short story or anywhere in between.  It’s supposed to be about enjoying reading and maybe making some new friends.  Leave a comment either here or over there if you want to join or send an e-mail to writerinawheelchair@googlemail.com  if you felt really nice you could also pimp the project on your own blog 😉

>It Doesn’t Interest Me

>A blog I read most days is Malisa’s.  She is a very strong woman and a wonderful writer.  I feel like I learn a lot reading her words (although I’ve never really told her that or interacted with her too much).  I forget if I’ve shared her link before or not but definitely think that her site is worth a read and also that a couple of the specific people I know who read this would probably also enjoy reading it and get something from it.  She writes on caringbridge so I can’t link to specific entries but in her most recent one she shared the following poem which I wanted to pass on here.

It Doesn’t Interest Me


It doesn’t interest me what you do for living. I want to know what you ache for—and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.


It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled

and closed from fear of further pain.


I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you dance with wildness and let it fill you to

the tips of your fingers and toes, without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.


It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusation of betrayal—and not betray your own soul.


I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life from its presence.


I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the moon: YES!


It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.


It doesn’t interest me who you are or how you came to be here. I want to know if you can stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me what or where or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside, when all else falls away.


I want to know if you can be alone with yourself—and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


—Oriahe Mountain Dreamer, An Indian Elder

I think that realistically I can’t say that I personally am good at a lot of the things this poem talks about.  I don’t have those sort of qualities or skills as a whole.  But it strikes me that what that poem is more about is about learning to see the positive and to focus on the now rather than the might have beens or the might bes.  About the big picture.

Those are things that I try to focus on and have done for a long time.  They are in no way easy things to do and sometimes when I think I’ve got there (or rather I’m getting there) I suddenly realise that actually I’m not.  But then I remember this line from Star Trek Voyager (it’s from the finale and it’s Harry Kim who says it)

When I think about everything we’ve been through together, maybe it’s not the destination that matters, maybe it’s the journey, and if that journey takes a little longer, so we can do something we all believe in, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be or any people I’d rather be with.

And I’ve basically just lost the plot of where I was going with this and what I was trying to say!

But…

The short version is that the poem made me think of that quote and that both of them together sum up a lot of what I believe in and my sort of goals for life.  I think that for those of us who live with disabilities and more so with acceptance of that this is what it is force you to learn lessons that are different. There is more to it then that but this entry has turned from the short one I thought it would be to a longer one and I’m tired so I will leave it for now and may return to the topic in future.

>The Hairy Bikers Big Night Out (AKA After 10 Days, Emma Goes Out!)

>The Hairy Bikers last night was sooo much fun!  Absolutely hilarious.  My friend was going to drive but then my Dad offered as his car has 4 wheel drive which was cool as it meant we could have a few drinks.

The arts centre has two very cool dedicated wheelchair spaces at the back which me and my friend have dubbed the Royal Box and they can put you in the front row – the seats are fold down and they reserve you two to make a wheelchair space as a chair is bigger than one of the seats.  But they don’t put two seat numbers on the tickets.  I tend to prefer the back spaces because you can spread out a bit and especially for comedy (after sitting at the front for a comedy thing and having the comedian asking me questions one times).    For Hairy Bikers however we were at the front so we could be close for any food they might be dishing out.  It’s a bit strange as the stage area isn’t raised at all so you literally are right by the performers and vice versa.

So first there was a bit of confusion when I asked the ushers which was our “extra seat” and they didn’t know anything about the whole extra seat for a wheelchair user thing and we had to explain it about three times (the ushers are volunteers but at least one of them had been doing it for a long time so I was surprised he wasn’t aware of the policy) but then he went and found out for me.  Previously I’ve just taken one of the seats next to ours as my extra and figured if I’ve guessed wrong I’ll shift along.  But that’s been proven not to work so well a couple of times so…

Anyway the Hairy Bikers talked a bit about their history and how they met and what they’ve done.  They also did a load of cooking (it was described as Cooking and Comedy) and in the first half they made a prawn curry.  They had a table set for two up with them and got two people out of the audience who they basicallyt gave a whole dinner too and some tiger beer.  Some poppadoms where given those in the front of the audience which they made and fried as we watched – there was a “camera fairy” up with them putting close ups on a screen of the cooking so you could see  The Poppadoms were nice and they also gave kitchen roll as “you don’t want cacky hands”

After the interval they got two more people up and blindfolded them and did a taste test.  They gave the woman a glass of wine and said “is it white or red?” it was red but she said it was white.  They also fed her something and said “which root vegetable is this?” and she was all “broccoli” which is amusing because that isn’t a root vegetable – it was swede.  In other news, swede and turnip are the same thing – I didn’t know that.  Then they gave her husband some meat to taste which he got right – pork – but he also said was dry.  Finally they said they were going to give them a savoury snack (that went to both of them) which they thought was pork scratchings but it was fried cricket!

The Hairy Bikers then cooked an Italian steak dish which they gave to the same couple to try but they’d been for dinner first so didn’t have much of it.  They also had a bottle of red wine (Chianti?) and water on the table for them.

When they were chatting to that couple Si went to kiss the lady on the cheek but she shied away a bit and everyone was laughing at his antics.  So he then walks over to me and leans down and puts an arm on my shoulder and kisses me on the cheek, a long exaggerated kiss on the cheek – or so it felt to me.  I was laughing so hard I was shaking while he was there.  Then he went back on stage and went “I love girls I do!”

They also cooked a vegetarian pasta thing – with linguini and ribbons of courgette I think.  They gave some bowls to about three people in the audience but they didn’t have forks for them so they gave them tongs and other kitchen implements which they managed pretty well with and was funny to watch.  The ushers brought them forks from the bar though.  I think they should have made them keep using the tongs etc though.  I think the most amusing cooking tip they gave was using a Ped Egg to do parmasan – although they did say it should be one just used for the cheese, LOL.

So then for the finale, Dave stripped all his clothes off to reveal he was wearing a blue and silver shiny leotard thing underneath and Si was playing a kids drum kit then  Dave got a big bunch of yellow flowers (Freesias I think but don’t quote me!), stuck one between Si’s teeth and shared the rest out.  He gave one to my friend and one to me – we were the last I think and then he knelt down on one knee in front our seats and started singing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”  They put the words on the screen and people sang along and they they did “Dancing Queen” and that was that for the night.

It was such a great night – absolutely hilarious and completely different from what I expected!

>I’m A Cripple, Get Me Out Of Here

>Today is the 9th day running I’ve been stuck in the house and all being well…. I’m GOING OUT TOMORROW!!

So long as the weather doesn’t take a turn for the worse my friend is going to pick me up tomorrow night as we’re going to see The Hairy Bikers.  She reckons if I take my manual and she picks me up between us we’ll be fine.  I hope she’s right!

9 days since I’ve

  • worn shoes
  • sat in my powerchair
  • left the house
  • done any of my own errands or shopping
  • seen random people on the street
  • seen anyone unexpectedly
  • spent any cash.

I’ve coped a lot better than I expected I would with being stuck in.  Although I did resort to ordering Domino’s for lunch today because I wanted a bit of comfort food and also because if I ordered a pizza I could also get them to bring some of my favourite sweet brown fizzy stuff.  Being stuck in lasted a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would too.

I am looking forward to getting out again but something tells me it’s gonna be a bit strange.

But for the past six weeks or so I’ve needed to sew buttons back on my coat but haven’t gotten round to it.  You would have thought given how long I’ve been home I would have found the time but no….