Antique Car Show

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Last weekend, Guy and I attended an antique car show.  It’s surprising how many antique car collectors live on Camano Island.  We frequently see beautiful collector’s cars driving through the area. I guess it has to do with the high retirement population living here.

While enjoying the show, I came across an Invacar collector.  He and his wife found this vehicle, designed for the disabled, abandoned and covered in blackerries.  They recently purchased it from the property owner and are in the process of restoring it.  The car has an interesting history.

Old Disability Mobility Equipment

In 1948, Bert Greeves adapted a motorbike with the help of his paralysed cousin Derry Preston-Cobb as transport for Derry. Noticing the number of former servicemen injured in the Second World War they spotted a commercial opportunity and approached the UK government for support, leading to the creation of Invacar Ltd. Invacar_model_70

During the 1960s and 70s the Invacar, with its modern fibreglass shell and ice-blue colouring nicknamed Ministry Blue after the Ministry of Health, was produced in the tens of thousands. More than 50 variants were produced.

All Invacars were owned by the British government and leased to disabled drivers as part of their disability benefit. Their use had been in decline since the introduction of the Motability scheme, which offers disabled drivers a conventional car with modified options.

On 31 March 2003 all Invacars owned by the government were recalled and scrapped because of safety concerns. The veteran vehicle could not meet modern-day government regulations, which required approval under the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval Scheme as part of a standard set by the European Union.

There were still around 200 Invacars in Britain before the 2003 recall and scrapping programme. Hundreds of stockpiled Invacars in government warehouses were scrapped along with all their spare parts. A few examples survive in the hands of private owners and museums in Britain and abroad. Invacars can still be used on UK roads, only vehicles owned by the government were scrapped in 2003.     —Wikipedia

New Disability Mobility Equipment

It seems innovators are always inventing updated mobiliity devices, for which I’m extremely grateful.  Although the US government doesn’t lease vehicles to disabled drivers as part of our benefits, I was fortunate to discover the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation does assist with the cost of the convertions–so long as the vehicle is required to acquire or maintain employment.

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As I’m currently retired, our most recent purchase was not subsidized by the government. However, I’m grateful for the financial assistance I received many years ago to purchase reliable disability mobility equipment and the opportunity it gave me to be a productive member of society.  I’m also grateful for the creative minds that continue to invent equipment to enhance and sustain a certain level of independence for the disabled.

https://www.dshs.wa.gov/ra/division-vocational-rehabilitation/assistive-technology-services

Baby In Control

The Dangers of Power Wheelchairs

 

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A Few Primary Friends

 

One of my favorite activities has been teaching the primary children every Sunday.  The ages range from three to twelve years old, which keeps things very interesting and quite lively.   I absolutely LOVE it!

I also appreciate the parents entrusting me with their precious ones, especially in light of my 300+ pound wheelchair/gymnasium.  Although the wheelchair is a benefit in relating to the children, as I’m always on their level, the lights and buttons are a huge temptation for tiny hands.  For the most part, the children and I have an understanding (buttons are only touched at my direction), however, occasionally–only occasionally–someone gets too curious to mind the rules.  And, occasionally–only occasionally–I’m not vigilant enough to foresee the potential disaster.IMAG0623One flawed design of power wheelchairs is easy access to the joystick, great for the user, not so for children, horses, dogs, etc.  Toes frequently get run over when someone leans in for a hug, or a dog jumps on my lap, or the horse nibbles on the “carrot”.  But that’s nothing compared to a child reaching for the joystick while standing in front of the chair!

I’m always on guard and turn off the power with the slightest hint of danger.  Unfortunately, children, animals and loved-ones are often just too fast for me.   Toes get squished and one time so did my nephew.  He grabbed the joystick, with the chair rolling over him he hung on for dear life.  Very counter productive, but he was only two.  Those little fingers were surprisingly strong–it took his mother and me to release his grip.  Although a lot of tears were shed, thankfully, he wasn’t hurt.DSCN1532

A more comical situation  occurred while giving my niece a “ride” while shopping in  a mall.  Before I could stop her, she had taken control of the joystick.  In my effort to hold onto her, I wasn’t able to pry her determined fingers from the handle.  All I could do was shout “baby in control”‘ as we spun haphazardly around the aisles.  Once again, mom saved the day and no harm was done.

The danger I dread the most, is backing over an infant.    There are tons of really fun gadgets attached to power chairs–parents, it’s your turn to be vigilant.  Those little ones creep up behind us when we least expect it.  I’m happy to say, the worst thing that’s happened to me in that regard, was discovering a deck of cards lying on the back of my chair after arriving at work.

 

 

 

 

The Wobbly Watercolorist

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

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I’ve always wanted to paint with watercolors, but my first attempts ended in disaster. And that was before my disability.  I never dreamed I could paint something worth looking at, especially since losing some use of my hands. Then I met Nicki Wight, watercolorist extraordinaire!

Nicki believed in me and took me in as one of her students.  We’ve been painting together for about five months now.  She encourages me, pushes me and has taught me that nothing’s impossible.  I’ve learned which brushes work best for my limited dexterity and build up the handles with rubber bands to compensate for my weakened grip.

The end results aren’t too shabby.  A few wobbly windows (my friend dubbed me the Wobbly Watercolorist), but even those are improving.  I’m finding that painting has become a wonderful form of therapy, both mentally and for better hand control.

But most of all, it’s a whole lot of fun!

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Little Bit Horse Show

 

Last weekend was Little Bit’s annual horse show, where riders are given the opportunity to showcase their skills and instructors and volunteers get to showoff their riders.  As usual, this year’s event was the crowning event of the season.

Even though temperatures reached the 80’s, the show went off without a hitch.  Young faces beamed as riders received their ribbons and parents snapped pictures to capture every moment.  Little Bit’s amazing horses were decked out with braided manes and patiently tolerated the heat and long hours. The day was capped off with a delicious barbecue featuring hotdogs, hamburgers and Margie’s famous baked beans.

It was an amazing day, with so many people to thank, from the staff and volunteers that put in weeks of service to keep the show running smoothly, to the Redmond fire Department for contributing their time and fire truck to prepare the facility prior to the show and cool off the participants after the barbecue.

From one grateful rider – thank you Little Bit, from the bottom of my heart.

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Pictures courtesy of Debbie Bacon (Little Bit volunteer)

 

Swimming With Dolphins

And Other Underwater Experiences

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I was recently reminded of the adventures my husband and I had while swimming with dolphins in Cabo several years ago.  Since all of the dolphins were rescued and had previously worked in rehabilitation centers, my disability wasn’t an issue.  I suited up in the closest fitting life vest they had and entered the water, with Guy holding onto me.  Even though we were with a small group of people, Jenny (that’s what I named her) kept swimming close to me. It was amazing.

The real adventures began when she took each of us for a spin around the pool.  I hung onto her fins and let her rip.  Those little mammals are really powerful BTW.  Before I was halfway around the pool my strength gave out and I found myself face down in a very deep pool of water.  The not so well-fitted life jacket kept me afloat, however, being a bit oversized it also held my head down.  So I patiently held my breath and hoped my husband could swim really fast.  I was actually rescued by the trainer (clothes and all) as he was able to dive off the platform and reach me quicker than Guy could.  The trainer towed me to safety and to my surprise, Jenny pushed my dragging feet with her nose (something she had learned while working in the rehab center).

The experience was something I’ll always treasure and will  never forget – especially since the photographer suggested I try it again and the results were exactly the same.

For more fun underwater tales checkout my niece’s new book at http://www.astritheoyster.com

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Right way
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Wrong way

For the Love of Family

The Brady Bunch

With the passing of both my parents in the last two years, I’ve come to truly appreciate the importance of family.  The love that my parents bestowed upon their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren throughout our lives is evident in how we’ve come together during, and after, the loss of Mom and Dad.  I’m forever grateful for the union of these two people and the lessons they taught us.

Our family didn’t start in the normal fashion.  Both Mom and Dad lost their spouses at a young age.  Mom was left with two boys (8 and 6) to raise on her own and Dad was left with two girls (2 and 6 mos.) to raise as a single parent.  Fate soon brought them together and within three months they were married and we became a family of six.

I feel extremely blessed by my parents willingness to wholeheartedly adopt each other’s children and raise all of us as their own.  I now have two older brothers and several nieces and nephews that I deeply cherish.  As my grandmother once said, “it was a union made in heaven.”

My sister-in-law put together a video of our family that is way too cute not to share.   I love you Mom and Dad.

 

 

Parking Etiquette

Coming Out of My Shell

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At first, I looked the other way when able-bodied individuals parked in spaces designated for disabled drivers.  I was determined not to be that “bitter handicapped woman.”  Fast forward twenty-two years of parkinglot frustrations and I’ve become, shall we say, much more assertive.

I’m extremely fortunate to have the independence associated with owning a wheelchair accessible van, with hand controls.   However, ramp vans require wider parking spots (thus the hash marked areas).  These parking spots are few and I often end up parking in the back-forty (at an angle between two slots) in order to get out of and back into my vehicle.  It, therefore, flabbergasts me when I return to my car to find someone has squeezed their car into the space I’ve created for lowering my ramp, or worse, someone has actually parked in the hash marked section of the disabled parking space.

I could share a number of humorous stories, but the most astounding story occurred on my way to work one morning.  I was in the elevator listening to a woman complain to her friend about how she had parked in a disabled parking space, “I was only going to be five minutes”.  When she returned, her car had been booted.  She was very disturbed that she had to take time, and spend $25, to get her car out of hawk after parking illegally.  Mind you, I was sitting right next to her in my wheelchair.

“Yes, lady, when I couldn’t find a parking space I knew you’d only be five minutes. I drove around the parking lot, not at all concerned about how late I might be for work, waiting for you to return and open one of the only spaces I could park in.”   Okay, I didn’t say anything– now I wish I had.

I’m still not that “bitter handicapped woman”, but I have become a great deal more outspoken when it comes to dealing with my disabilities. I’m also getting very proficient at flagging down strangers and asking them to back my car out so I can lower the ramp.