Books, books, books…

I have too many books. Way, way too many books. I think if you could all the girls own and other free stuff I have on my kindle I must have getting on for 150 unread books. I know this sounds ridiculous but it feels really stressful sometimes.

And I have several book reviews to post.

So I’m declaring that July is going to be a month of books on my blog. Not just book reviews but other book stuff. I keep thinking of bookish stuff I want to blog and not managing to get round to it. Hopefully setting this goal might mean I get it done. Or at least get some of my TBR dealt with. Because the number of books I’ve got wouldn’t feel like so much if a problem if so many if them weren’t unread!

And I think in order to work on those goals I’m gonna start off by joining the Summer Lovin’ Readathon. That’s a week-long readathon jointly hosted by seven bloggers (Oh, Chrys!, Tumbling Books, Effortlessly Reading, Love Life Read, Shelf Addiction, Read Sleep Repeat, and Reviewing Wonderland)

I’ll set a five book goal I think. I’m tempted to set a seven book goal as that’s one a day but thinking about my week and the next books on my radar five is more realistic I think.

Conditions of Loan

I’m going to start this entry with a Facebook status I posted on Friday. It’s the easiest way of cutting a very long story short.

Requested a new wheelchair cushion. Waited six weeks and got sent part of a wheelchair cushion. Took the old disintegrating one apart and tried to fit new part to still working bit of old cushion. They’re different sizes. Couldn’t put old cushion back together as taking the cover off caused the gel to completely disintegrate. Covered in gel as is my floor. Called wheelchair services. They promise to get me a full new cushion with inserts. Manage not to shout at the OT about maybe taking eight weeks to do so. — feeling Aggravated.

A couple of points here before I get to the point of this entry:
The wheelchair cushion I use is a Jay 2. Getting only part of it is possible because it’s made up of a base and then various bits which are used in different configurations. I have the base and three other bits.

The day before the mobile technician came out I had a letter from wheelchair services listing what they were issuing me and enclosing the conditions of loan. These are standard and refer to a wheelchair throughout.

Being a wheelchair services veteran I’m well versed in these conditions. They do make for interesting reading. Some highlights:

Give it back or give it in for repair if asked. Yeah ok, I can do that. But I’ll need a replacement if I give it back or a courtesy chair if it’s being repaired

Keep it clean. I’m not good at that. My wheelchairs are generally in need of some sort of clean. I should work on that. On the other hand I’d rather be out sailing and shopping and going places and have a battered, filthy chair than a pristine but hardly used chair because I’m not doing things.

Let them know if I no longer need it so they can reissue it to another user. Moot point for me and anyway the majority of my mobility equipment gets used until its dead and fit only for scrap and very possibly for spares.

Inspect for damage and report repairs. I do this to an extent. My clothes guards almost always have damage because they are flimsy plastic and a silly design that works well for what it does but doesn’t have the staying power it could do with for how i use my chair/transfer. Surface cracks are practically a design feature on my ones. It gets beyond that I get them changed. Both were changed less than two months ago. Both have been cracked or a week or two. It’s cosmetic so I’m leaving it.

The wheelchair is only to be used by you. Damn right it is. I absolutely cannot stand anyone else using my chair or even touching it. It’s part of my body, leave it alone.

Tell us if you emigrate/move/change your contact details. Yeah ok.

Tell us if you go abroad. I think on previous versions years ago this was “don’t take it abroad”. So this is progress. But oh no, no, no, no. I’m not going abroad anytime soon but if I was I wouldn’t do that.

A lot of this is common sense. But I think it misses the most important thing.

Use the equipment. Use it for what it’s designed for. If you’re feeling adventurous try something different. Something that maybe wheelchair services or the manufacturer would think it can’t do. Get out there. Live. Enjoy it. Be free in a way you couldn’t before you got the chair.

Um, yeah

Earlier this week I had an appointment. It didn’t go that well.

What it was for was fine but the person the appointment was with was a bit abrupt and rude. I’m relatively sure that wasn’t the intention but it doesn’t change the fact that if there was a list of “things not to say to a wheelchair user” at least two of their comments would be on it. I picked them up on one of them.

Anyway this led to me being in my powerchair headed home via the supermarket and in A Bad Mood.

I’m wandering along the path and a little way ahead of me is an older lady. There’s a newish pelican crossing ahead or I could be turning and heading a different way. Where we are there’s no way to tell which I’m doing.

The lady stopped and when I got closer waved me ahead saying “you come past”

I said Thank you.

She then said “go round to the crossing. Make sure you cross there.”

I still could have been going somewhere different and I’d probably find that part patronising at anytime

But there’s the small matter of the aforementioned Bad Mood

So I’ll admit I was a little annoyed and very sarcastic when I replied “yeah, I do know where I’m going.”

I was going to cross the road.

I was sat waiting at the crossing when the older lady reached it.

She caught my eye and said “I don’t like crossing roads. Would you mind if I crossed with you?”

I said that’d be fine and made doubly sure it was safe before telling her so and she followed me across the road.

Um, yeah.

That’s a lesson for me.

All I could think about that was “I am such a bitch.”

I thought she was being patronising and infantilising me.

She just wanted help.

The National Diversity Awards

So if I were to mention the name Hannah Ensor or Stickman Communications I suspect a lot of people who read this would know who I meant.

Hannah and I have known each other since our school days. Back then I was rocking the wheelie thing but not quite as well as I do now. I was walking a lot of the time which took a lot of energy and I’d fall a lot. I didn’t hurt myself often having learnt mad falling skills. And the level of acceptance i have now (possibly better referred to as my “sod it quota”) was an unthought of dream,

Hannah was this accident prone girl who was always hurting herself in the most random ways and making us laugh. I swear I have more memories of teenage Hannah turning up to our weekly German lessons on crutches or otherwise injured than not. She denies this 😉

As teenagers often do we lost touch when school ended.

Then several years ago I was in town and someone with a really cool wheelchair was waiting in a queue next to me.

Hannah.

Turns out, she wasn’t as weirdly accident prone as we thought. She had a disability.

I see her semi regularly and sometimes we get together with another friend of ours. Its brilliant. we laugh a lot and support each other and its just great to be with old friends who understand that supermarket pharmacies are rubbish, buying bread in a bakery is NOT worthy of high praise, it is possible to have a favourite type of pain and, frankly, that applying to work part time for the fire service does kind of make sense as a plan for warding off relapses of potentially life threatening illnesses

Hannah’s awesome stickman products help bring a similar sort of education, acceptance and fun to the wider public when it comes to disability awareness. She’s been nominated for a National Diversity Award in the disability category because of this work. I think she deserves it and the more nominations she gets the more chance she has.

She doesn’t want to push it onto people too much so I’m asking here – please nominate Hannah!!

Here’s her press release:
Hannah Ensor, a cartoonist from Oxfordshire has been nominated for the Entrepreneur of Excellence (disability) award at The National Diversity Awards

The ceremony celebrates some of the excellent and inspiring achievements of positive role models and community organisations from across the UK. The awards aim to recognise nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

Hannah Ensor lives with HMS/EDS (being far too bendy and falling apart) and PoTS (tap-dancing heart and appearing drunk without alcohol). For her, life with an uncooperative body is normal and the freedom of having a great set of wheels is simply marvellous.

Although initially trained as an Environmental Health Officer, her conditions deteriorated significantly in her mid 20’s and she was medically retired a few years later in 2010. Around this time, Hannah Ensor’s stickmen based approach to disability started as a way to communicate while unable to put a sentence together. It naturally grew into a business – communicating about disability with charm, humour, and unerring accuracy.

Her online shop www.stickmancommunications.co.uk stocks a whole range of her products, from stickers with her ‘Positive Disability Symbol’ design, to ‘differently normal’ wristbands, and Keyring Cards which help the user explain about their disability/how they are feeling/what they need effectively and with humour. From children’s books full of life and laughter – which just happen to include disability as normal, to cartoon gift books suitable for all ages which communicate about various aspects of life with disabilities, with humour and unerring accuracy.

Alongside the shop, Hannah’s blog, peppered with stickmen, works to raise understanding and acceptance of disability, not because she campaigns, but because she writes with openness and humour about her life in a way that is easy to relate to, and her enjoyment of life shines through.
Hannah also works closely with the Hypermobility Syndrome Association (for which she was appointed Patron for kids and teens in 2012) supporting others with her conditions and helping them make positive choices in managing it.

Some comments from her customers:
“Utterly inspiring and hilarious, she’s changing perspectives on disability in a fabulous way”
“I would never have put a universal disability logo on the car because of embarrassment but now I have this positive logo and I love it – I even have it on my kayak and I’m proud to show the world I’m positively different.”
“You have given me hope, thank you very much. I only saw dark days ahead of me but I think I should look at it differently. If I lose the use of my legs then there will be other experiences that I may never have tried. Thank you for being an inspiration with your attitude to life.”

The National Diversity Awards 2013 in association with Microsoft will be held at The Queens Hotel, Leeds on September 20th. Britain’s most inspirational people will come together to honour the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass roots communities who have contributed to creating a more diverse and inclusive society.

Big Brother host Brian Dowling and CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell will be hosting this year’s event. The awards have also gained support from a number of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Beverley Knight and Ade Adepitan – and the Likes of Paralympic champion Jody Cundy, and Journalist Amal Fashanu were amongst last year’s attendees.

The largest diversity awards ceremony of its kind has generated great sponsors such as the co-operative Group, Sky, The Open University and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Theresa McHenry, of Microsoft UK, said ‘The National Diversity Awards are a wonderful way to recognise the extraordinary contribution of real people to our communities. It’s a delight to be able to support this fantastic celebration of local heroes.’

Amongst last year’s winners was gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who scooped up The Lifetime Achiever Award; Trade Union activist Zita Holbourne who was awarded the positive role Model for Race and The Anthony Walker foundation, a charity established following the tragic murder of its namesake in a racially motivated attack.

The National Diversity Awards received an astonishing amount of nominations for last year’s event.

Paul Sesay, Chief Executive of The National Diversity Awards said, ‘if ever there was a time to celebrate and elevate the truly staggering diversity of talent the UK has to offer– it is now’

‘I know another fantastic spectacle of role models will be delivered and recognised this year’.

Nominations are now open and close July 19th 2013 – so don’t miss out on your chance to get involved!

Shortlisted nominees will be announced shortly after this date.

To nominate Hannah Ensor please visit: www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk
Or for a nomination form please email: emma@thediversitygroup.co.uk

Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

Simon and Schuster offered me a free copy of Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie in exchange for an honest review. This is is for first book for adults but as her YA writing has frequently caught my eye when I’ve wandered to that part of a book shop I very quickly said yes, please! I won’t be rushing off to the YA section of Waterstones anytime soon but having read this I’ll definitely consider bringing some of Sophie McKenzie’s YA home with me next time I do. But I am very much not buying books at the moment because I have too many unread ones.

I’d describe Close My Eyes as a sort of cross between chicklit and a thriller. I enjoyed it but would have loved it to have more of a thriller feel. Here’s the synopsis:

It’s been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing’s really moved forward, for all that her husband, Art, wills it to.

Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune – and pressures her into trying IVF once again. For Gen, it seems a cruel act of replacement; life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable – but still it goes on.

And then a woman arrives on Gen’s doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found…So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister?

What is the truth about Beth Loxley?

The idea of this books struck me as quite creepy, raising questions as can we really know someone we love and can we trust doctors? It occurs to me that perhaps the question of trust in doctors isn’t a good one right now as I’m off to see my GP (for the last time as he retires on Monday.) in a few minutes. I trust him and besides I’m going with a bit of a yes no question with an obvious answer. Because this doctors visit is brought to you by the letters U, T and I. With regards to the book I think the message that came away from this is sometimes people are desperate and do desperate things. And that intrigues me.

Motivation and desperation run throughout the book but at no point did it seem far fetched. I also never figured out what was going on and what the true story of Beth was until it was revealed. It did hit me at one point exactly who had been involved in it (about 20 pages before that came out in the book) but even then I was confused as to what they’d done and why until it all came out.

The character of Beth was perhaps my favourite. We see her in Gen’s memories of when she was pregnant and what she’d hoped at the time. Gen dreams of her frequently at the age she’d be now, giving us another insight or even another Beth. These could even be said to be another Beth. And then as Gen learns that her daughter might still be alive and discovers more of the events of eight years ago another picture of Beth as a much wanted baby and then victim comes to view. Very well done,

Random Bullet Points of Life

♥ my Internet keeps cutting out for hours or days at a time. In some ways that’s useful but mainly it’s frustrating. That’s a huge part of my silence here.

♥ I have got many things done off of “sometime soon I’d like to do” list. Including new blog colours/header. That’d been on the list for months. The next bloggy to dos are a book review master page and an articles master page.

♥ I took a break from writing about disability this month over on Bea and wrote about food banks a topic I hear a lot about via CAB. I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about that. My post is Food, Glorious Food (or not…). Two people have said reading it made them tear up. I assume that’s a good thing?

♥ I’ve also done writing for something else this week (currently not for public consumption) which I feel has revitalised my writing mojo.

♥ Crochet. Enough said.

A Few Wedding Photos

On Saturday 25th May 2013 my brother Ben married his partner of ten years Geri. I won’t make the standard joke/comment about their names but feel free to if you wish. Here are a few photos of the wonderful day we had. The ones marked Facebook come from my sister’s profile and hopefully she doesn’t mind!

In terms of visual description I’ll put a bit by each photo but in general:

The wedding took place in a large and very lovely converted barn. I’d call it stylishly rustic. It had lovely gardens at the front and the back. The weather was absolutely horrendous the day before, properly storming cold and gray. That day was glorious. Bright, sunny and warm but not too hot. Perfect in fact.

The bride wore a gorgeous white dress with a long train and a bit of sparkle.

All of the men in the wedding party wore three piece suits with cravats. Ben, his best man and Geri’s grandad (who gave her away) had purple cravats. My dad and the ushers had silver ones.

My sister (Sophie), Geri’s sister and two of her friends were bridesmaids. All of them have long hair which they wore half up and down. The dresses were strapless, long and a dark almost midnight purple.

My mum wore a gray dress and jacket with a dusky rose fascinator/hat. I call it a fascinator because it’s on a hairband. She calls it a hat and looking at the pics she’s probably right.

I used my powerchair for the day. I wore a red dress which was originally was ankle length but my friend took up by six inches for me as it was too long for my chair. My dress is sleeveless and I had a black cropped shrug over it for some of the day. I made myself a black and silver scarf (knitted using Sirdar Firefly) and had that on for part of the evening. My shoes were black Skechers (this is me we’re talking about) and I had a black clutch. My hair was twisted and a little bit spiked up with five tiny plaits in the front. I had a red fascinator with a flower on it and my 3e love wheelchair heart necklace on. I wore very red lipstick and nails.

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Ben and his best man before the ceremony

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signing the register

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Mr & Mrs Crees

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Sophie and I in the garden after the ceremony

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My parents sitting at the top table during the meal (via Facebook)

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Mum and Sophie with my cousin’s daughter Isabelle who will be two in July (via Facebook)

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Dad and I in the early evening in the other garden.

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Cutting the cake (via Facebook)

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The first dance – Always by Bon Jovi

Random Bullet Points of Life

♥ I’ve been trying to have a break this week. It’s been very good but I’m wishing I’d planned a longer one now. Am thinking I’ll try that again in early July.

♥ My brother got married last weekend! It was an absolutely fantastic day and I loved it.

♥ I am a couple of books behind on my goodreads challenge right now. I haven’t been very inspired by my reading material lately despite having a stupid number of unread books. I did just start the audiobook of Nella Last’s Peace and I’m liking that so far. So hopefully I can get back into reading now. I have read 60 books so far this year which I’m very pleased about!

♥ a friend and I went to see an amateur production of The Sound of Music on Wednesday. I didn’t realise it was am dram when I booked the tickets and probably wouldn’t have done had I known. It was absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t tell any different from the professional version I saw a few years ago. One of those where you come out and vaguely wonder if they have tickets left for later in the week because its that good.

♥ I am stupidly addicted to playing Bookworm Heroes right now

♥ I’ve been sailing in a regatta all weekend in what turned out to be the English Championships. I came second at my level so sadly the champion’s sail trophy with the barometer won’t be returning to my flat (I was English champion in 2011; I didn’t take part in the championship regatta in 2012). I enjoyed it loads.

♥ I’ve not missed meds in several weeks but I still need to work on taking pain meds sooner so pain can be controlled easier.

♥ I need to write more about several of these points at some point but I’ve no idea when…