Archive for July 27, 2012

“…Dad Gets Pregnant”

Okay, so the whole title is “A Weedy Sea Dragon Dad Gets Pregnant.” It’s one of the interesting items in my latest email from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  This edition is titled “5 Animal Updates You’ll Love,” with the pregnant dad among them. As usual, there are absorbing articles and gorgeous pictures. If you aren’t familiar with them, I suggest that you go to http://www.montereybayaquarium.org and take a look around their website. The sea-life photos are fantastic, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the creatures themselves…although you may very well become fascinated by them.  Like what you see? Go back to their home page, scroll down to the bottom, and insert your email address into the E-news signup box. Yes, you’ll get requests to join and for donations, but they’re always a tiny note amid a cornucopia of color.  Enjoy!

Showing Love to Our Loved Ones

Thoughtful Thursday Quote #5

“Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them.  Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them ‘I am sorry’; ‘forgive me’; ‘please’; ‘thank you,’ and all those loving words you know!” —  Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez (“Gabe”)

[We nurture friendships and business relationships but take family for granted, knowing that they’re stuck with us. Yet, practicing humility, compassion, respect, courtesy, and love with them is good practice for dealing with others in our often frantic world.]

The Unsure Environmentalist

I’M A BIT OF AN ECO-NUT. My suburban back yard is a haven for a dozen varieties of birds, with at least 5 full nests all season, along with squirrels, bunnies escaping Easter captivity, lizards, toads, racoons, and, of course, insects. I love watching the mallards waddling through, the mourning doves teaching their young to fly off from our fence, the bunnies scurrying out from their bedroom under the deck to hop over to the neighbor’s garden for a meal, the hummingbirds making it clear to the feral cat that he is not welcome here, the bees and butterflies (far too few these days) sipping goodies from the flowers. It’s all wonderfully entertaining. It makes me feel at peace.

Except when I want to kill that raccoon! I can put up with his paw prints circling the pool a dozen times, but I fear for my dog at night, not knowing which one would win in a confrontation. What makes me murderous, though, is what has been happening recently: little skeletons with tufts of fur attached and no flesh, strewn across the lawn. My heart broke when I saw the remains of one of my favorite animal tenants, a black squirrel who loved to run back and forth all day along the back fence.  I want to catch that critter and…and…and….

Now, wait a minute. Raccoons have to eat, too. They’re not fussy eaters and will eat plants or whatever small animals that are handy. So, what am I doing–providing habitat for a multitude of nature’s creatures or a supermarket for a raccoon?

Therein lies my dilemma. What makes the raccoon any less worthy in my mind? Aren’t the other animals and insects in my yard also eating each other? Should I put in AstroTurf and cement and plastic shrubs, forcing the carnage to go elsewhere, out of my sight?

I don’t know. I guess I’ll just have to learn to enjoy the beauty of nature without over-thinking what’s going on.  I guess I’m really just an Unsure Environmentalist.

 

A Small Thing: Restaurant Servers

Ahhh.  Work’s done.  Tummy’s happy.  It was a hectic day, but your simple meal out was relaxing.  The food was so-so, but you didn’t have to cook!  That young server was so patient when you sent back your cold food to heat up, and she brought a rag and a smile to clean up Joey’s spilled milk.  Here’s a chance to recognize the dignity of work.  Show your appreciation for good service: tip more than the expected minimum; complement the server; tell the manager how pleased you are; fill out that Comment Card, being sure to mention the server by name; as you leave, tell her you hope you get her table next time.  Most of us speak up when something goes wrong in a restaurant, so why not say something to let this person know that we value her and her hard work?

[This is only one small thing we can do to work toward a more just world.  For other suggestions, go to the Samples page or read SMALL THINGS COUNT.]

Surreal is Just Too Surreal

SURREAL: How often do you hear this word? At least once a day, usually several times.  Everything is “surreal,” from a person’s slim win at a race, to being a survivor of a drive-by shooting, to watching the birth of your baby, to getting a new tattoo. All these things are significant events to the person experiencing them.  But are they so strange that they don’t seem real? It would seem that the gush of adrenalin through the system at the time of the event would make them feel very real. “Surreal,” then has come to mean simply something that is frightening or painful or mildly unbelievable.  If the event truly is so unbelievable, weird, strange, unreal, dreamlike, bizarre, or odd, why not use one of those descriptors and give the overused, no-longer-meaningful “surreal” a break?

On the other hand, I believe that the English language itself is totally surreal.  Ask anyone who has ever tried to learn it.

 

Ready to Share Some Disability Pride

I’VE PACKED UP: my materials, copies of Small Things Count, pens for signing them, and sunscreen. I’ve plugged in my scooter to top off my batteries. I’ve told everyone I can think of to stop by for a chat with me at The Re-Mobiizers booth. I’ve passed on the details of the day, referring people to www.svilc.org.

All I have left to do is set my GPS so I don’t get lost.  Yup, I’m ready to watch the parade, reconnect with friends, eat stuff that’s probably not good for me, and share some DISABILITY PRIDE tomorrow.

Hope to see you there!

 

Driving Can be Too Tax-ing

A proposed S.F. Bay Area tax

would charge 10 cents for each mile we drive, with a mandatory GPS keeping track. This bothers me on so many levels.  First off, there’s the expense. In this spread-out area, people need to drive to work (who can afford to work in S.F. AND live there?!). With salary/benefit cuts and gas chewing up income, this tax could push some families over the edge,  especially those who are already food-insecure or routinely cash their paycheck and make a choice as to which bills or medications to cover this month. The poorer a family is, the more devastating such a tax would be.

Then there’s the issue of the GPS system we’ll all be required to buy or rent and keep in our cars. We can turn off the GPS tracking on our phones but would have to keep our our car GPS on, in case we were tempted to sneak off down the block to pick up Mom and take her for a doctor’s visit. Who will have access to where I drove and when? The police? Politicians putting together demographics for a campaign? Salesmen?  Bill collectors? Angry ex-spouses? I’m not paranoid, just realistic, considering how much info. is out about us that we didn’t authorize or intend.

Further, I seriously doubt that such a tax would accomplish its supposed purpose of reducing pollution and traffic congestion.  Public transit frequently doesn’t match up with work schedules or adds so much time to our day that we leave excessively early and arrive back home long after the kids have eaten and been put to bed. If we want any family and relaxation time in our day, our car is the only answer. Plus the fact that transit doesn’t pick us up at home or take us to our workplace door, meaning having to find other transportation to fill those gaps.

I firmly believe in buses and trains as an important part of our fight against pollution, but, because of their current impracticability for many people, they’re only one part of the solution. Until our aging infrastructure is repaired and updated, cars are a fact of life in this area. Other areas less auto-impacted have looked into this tax, and none has adopted it. If we’re going to add a tax, let’s make it something workable and not add a burden to the poor and struggling among us.

 

VISITORS WELCOME

I just finished updating my website–http://www.JackieODonnell.net. It has some new ideas and original poetry.  The “Adept-Able Living” page, for people with disabilities, has helpful hints on equipment maintenance, disability law (ADA), suggested products (no ads!), and some other things, including a bit of humor.  Come by for a visit.

Hunger and America’s Children

HUNGER and FOOD INSECURITY in America’s children?  Sadly, yes! “Hunger” is a familiar term to everyone, but some don’t know the meaning of “food insecurity,” which is not having enough food or income to ensure a balanced diet. Although the economy is slowly crawling out of its dark pit, food banks are seeing more and more people coming to them for help.  At the same time, donations of food are down.

And our children are suffering. A 2012 study by the USDA found 16 million food-insecure children in America, or 21.6% of our children. One in five kids has no idea where his next meal will come from. These youngsters were found in all U.S. communities and counties.  (Use the interactive map at www.childhungerendshere.com/Html/realities-of-hunger-statistics.html to find out the number in your own community.)

How can young bodies grow and keep healthy without proper nutrition? How can young minds be nurtured if bodies are not fed? What hope do these children have of a reasonable, stable  future?

This is a major problem, one we must ALL attack. School lunch programs are not enough, but we must support them whenever they’re in danger of being eliminated or reduced. We can give even a little bag of groceries each month to a food bank or food pantry. We can make sure the hungry kid who comes home from school with our child has a hearty snack with our kids. In other words, we can and must do small things for our smallest citizens and give them a chance to be kids today and happy, healthy adults in the future.

It’s our responsibility.

Disability Pride–Join Me

3rd Annual West Coast Disability Pride Festival

The last two years brought out a good crowd to celebrate Disability Pride.  Although the location has changed (see below), the format will be the same.  People in wheelchairs and scooters, with seeing-eye and helper dogs, plus friends, some carrying colorful banners, will make up the parade that celebrates disability pride and cultural diversity, as well as the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  They’ll make their way along Mountain View’s Castro St., ending at Pioneer Park.  Once there, they’ll enjoy food, music, a raffle, and performances, and they’ll visit booths set up by vendors and service-providers.  Again this year, it promises to be fun.

It’s sponsored by the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center and County Supervisor Dave Cortese’s office.

Everyone is invited.  I’ll be there, helping out at the Re-Mobilizers booth (my son’s DME business). It will be a big, double booth and easy to spot.  Please come by and say “Hello.”

Details: Sat., July 21, 2012 — 11AM – 2 PM — Pioneer Park (Mountain View)

To sign up for the parade (deadline July 19) and get more details, go to www.svilc.org.

Hope to see you there!