Thursday, March 29, 2007

Davenport, couch, or sofa

Which one do you call it?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


This is Elvis and Caramel.

They are gerbils and they live in my daughter's
classroom. We are gerbil sitting this week (spring

This is Hammie.

Hammie is a hamster. We are hamster sitting this
week while Hammie's family is in California.

Today my daughter and I went to Home Depot to look
at plants. I was admiring a gorgeous Calla Lily and
thinking that life is so beautiful, la la la. Then I
turned my head and this was staring me in the face.

What an awful way to die.

If you've been reading my last few entries, I bet
your thrilled with me. First the dog barf, then the
skeletons, now this. I'm just a great big ball of
joy these days, aren't I?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sedlec Ossuary

I remember as a teen looking through a
National Geographic and seeing a photo
of a place in Europe that was decorated
with the bones of thousands of people. I
remember thinking to myself, "Wow, I'd love
to visit that place someday." And then I
thought, "There's no way that place is going
to be wheelchair accessible." Discouraged
by the one paragraph in National Geographic
about the place, the lack of the internet
for quick and easy access to more information,
and the knowledge that places like that are
pretty much never wheelchair accessible, I
tucked it away somewhere and didn't think
about it again.

Until yesterday.

A myspace friend wrote a blog about a book
she recently read. The book was written by
John Connolly. Her interest in his book lead
her to his website, which then lead her a
quicktime video made by Connolly about Sedlec.
I watched the video and was once again
fascinated by this place. Unlike last time,
I now had quick and easy access to more info
about it. Also unlike last time, I now may
be able to physically navigate the place - if
and when I get an iBOT. There is one large
obstacle that may be a problem and that is,
getting the iBOT from Prague to Sedlec. I
doubt transportation for power wheelchairs
is common there. There's gotta be a way though.
I'd probably have to rent a special van or bus,
which I'm sure would cost a small fortune, but
worth it. But who knows if I will ever make it
there. There isn't enough time or money to see
all the places I want to see... I have always
wanted to visit Prague though. When I went to
Europe in my 20s, I considered stopping in Prague.
I decided against it because it seemed so much
more wheelchair unfriendly than the places I did
visit, including London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

I did some internet searching about Sedlec today
and I found its history interesting. In 1278, a
monk from Sedlec travelled to Palestine. He
brought back a handful of earth from Palestine
to Sedlec and referred to it as 'Holy Soil'. He
spread the soil over the cemetery and it quickly
became one of the most popular burial grounds in
central Europe. People from all over the country
and Europe wanted to be buried there. In one year
alone, during the 14th century, it is said that
nearly 600 bodies per week were brought to Sedlec,
largely due to victims of the plague.

Huge ditches 30 feet deep and 20 feet across were
dug to accomodate all the bodies. The dead were
sewn up in their shrouds and placed in these large
common graves, sometimes as many as 1,500 in a
single pit. They were then covered by a thin
layer of dirt. The bodies very quickly decomposed
in these conditions. As more bodies came in and
one pit filled, another older pit was uncovered
and emptied of it's bones. These bones were then
stored wherever space could be found.

Around 1400, a church was built in the center
of the cemetery. The lower chapel was built
to be used as an ossuary to hold the skeletons
of more than 40,000 people, most of whom were
killed by the plague.

In 1870, a woodcarver named FrantiĊĦek Rint was
hired to put the heaps of bones into order. He
artisically arranged approximately 40,000 human
skeletons to form decorations and furnishings
for the chapel, which still remain today.

If you are interested in seeing an excellent 6
minute video about Sedlec, go here:

You can also see a short film about it here:

The 2nd one is, IMO, not as good as the first one I
listed. It was done in 1970 by surrealist Czech
filmmaker Jan Svankmajer. It is grainy, b&w, not
in English and a little over 10 minutes long. If
you like trippy stuff, you might prefer this video
over the other one.

And now for something completely different, my
tulips are blooming! Yay for tulips. Yay for
spring. Yay for yellow. Yay for photography.
Yay for life.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Name: Trudy

Species: Canine

Breed: Scruffy Mutt

Age: 10-something

Place of Birth: Unknown

Likes: Food

Dislikes: Any dog bigger than her

Crime: Stealing and consuming chocolate

Been part of my family for: almost 2 years

Trudy says: I really want my mommy to get
an iBOT because then we can explore more
places, and she can frolic on the sandy
beach with me!

A couple of weeks ago I bought a bag of
Easter chocolates. The next day, I thought
to myself, "Gee, I think I might enjoy a
chocolate". So I looked to the table where
I had last seen them, but they were gone. I
searched and I searched but they were nowhere
to be found. The next day I thought to
myself, "Gee, I think I might enjoy a
chocolate". So I looked to the table where
I had last seen them, but they were gone. I
searched and I searched but they were nowhere
to be found. The next day I thought to
myself, "Gee, I think I might enjoy a
chocolate". So I looked to the table where
I had last seen them, but they were gone. I
searched and I searched but they were nowhere
to be found. The next day I was sweeping
the junk that had collected under a piece
of furniture in the living room, and I
discovered an empty bag that had at one
time in recent history containted Easter
chocolates. It had Trudy spit all over

As you may or may not know, chocolate can
be toxic to dogs (and cats). She must have
thrown it up outside without my knowing.

A few days ago I bought another bag of
chocolates. I brilliantly deposited them
on the table where I had placed the last
package. Then I left to run an errand.

When I came home, I wasn't looking where I was
going when I felt something cold and wet
on my hand. My first thought was cat barf,
because that happens all the time, but when
I looked at my wheel, sweater sleeve, and
hand, I discovered it wasn't partly digested
cat food, but some kind of brown, liquidy

"Oh yay, it's even better than cat barf,
it's diarrhea!" I thought. I became confused
however when my nose was not offended.

What was this liquidy brown stuff on the floor
that did not make me gag? I retraced my rolls
and found a large pile of the brown liquid stuff.
Knowing it wasn't diarrhea but still not knowing
what it was, my finger dipped. My tongue licked.


Oh come on, you don't really believe I did that,
do you? I would never do such a thing. I did
taste cat pee once, but I swear, it wasn't on

The mystery of the unknown liquidy brown stuff
was solved when I noticed the foil wrappers.

I took a photo of it, because how often does a
person have the opportunity to get a photo of
chocolatey dog barf?

And now I would like to share that photo
with you. (Sorry I didn't take the time to
focus better.)

You're very welcome.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Above is a little sumthin' to look at.
Below is a little sumthin' to ponder.

Do crazy cat ladies become crazy because
of all the cats, OR are they already crazy
and that is why they get all the cats? Kind
of like, which came first - the chicken
or the egg, but instead, which came first -
the craziness or the cats?

I live with four cats and I'm kinda thinking
that the cats come first.

I'm starting to think the animal kingdom is
out to get me. I've had this gigantic spider
living above my front door all winter long.
The other day I came home and as I'm reaching
to put my key in the door, it suddenly starts
to drop down. So I sit there and I wait. It
drops all the way to the ground and I'm not
kidding, it started toward me. Now I'm not
an animal killer. I don't even eat or wear
animals. But this spider was scary. And it
was charging me! I had to do something, so
I grabbed the recyling bin sitting there and
I quickly moved it between the spider and I.
The spider got scared and went back up it's
web. I said to my daughter, "Okay, when your
daddy comes over tomorrow night, lets ask him
if he will catch it in a jar and move it some-
where. Somewhere like the park a few blocks
away". The next day, it was GONE! It lived
there all winter long and now it's suddenly
gone. I think it went in a hiding hole and
it's going to pounce on me the next time I
am out there. Luckily I have a back door.
Otherwise I'd be trapped in my house for-

My own dog Trudy is out to get me as well.
I'll save that story for tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away
Watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked
Lying on the floor (lying on the floor)
I've come undone

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


No surprise, but I got a letter from
my insurance company today saying that
my request for coverage of the iBOT has
been denied.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Climbing stairs

Many people ask me about the iBOT's stair
climbing function. Here's a short clip
showing the iBOT going up and down stairs.

As a para, I can do stair function independently.
If there isn't a railing available though, I
can't do it by myself. My 9 year old daughter
would be able to get me up the steps though.
It doesn't require much strength.

Edited - I don't know why the clip isn't showing.
If you click on the blank box above the text, it
will take you to the YouTube clip. It is only
a 46 second video, so if you have dial-up, it
shouldn't take much time to load.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Story of My Life

My daughter's school has an annual talent show. The show
was yesterday during school hours, and tonight there is
another one.

At yesterday's show, kids were sitting on the floor infront
of the stage, and there were chairs set up behind the kids
for the parents/friends to sit. Obviously I couldn't sit in
front of the kids, so I sat in the back, up against the wall.
There was a row of chairs set up a couple feet ahead of me.
A lady sat in the chair directly infront of me and she turned
around and asked me if I could see okay. I said, yes, thank

So I'm watching the show and I can see the stage fine. My
daughter was the 3rd to the last act. During the 4th to the
last act, a lady planted herself directly infront of me. She
didn't sit. She stood there. For a second I thought she was
joking with me and she was going to turn around and laugh and
touch my arm and tell me she was just giving me a hard time
and then proceed to stand BESIDE me. That's how absurd it was.
For about 5 feet to the left of me, there was no one. She could
have stood there. To the right of me were other parents standing
against the wall. She could have stood there. There was no
point in saying "excuse me" because she didn't have any ears
on her ass to hear me. So I snapped this picture and moved
over a little. It was so strange that she had a million other
places to stand yet she chose to stand directly infront of me.
It was also strange that it happened right before my daughter's

You know what's funny? If I had my iBOT, I would have been in
Balance Function and it would not have been an issue. Funny.

When I dropped my daughter off at school this morning, I asked
the custodian if he could reserve a spot for me up front. I
hate being a pain in the butt, but it's going to be super crowded
tonight and I just don't feel like staring at people's butts.

If the iBOT didn't exist, I would have been only slightly
irritated about that lady standing infront of me. I don't
think she did it on purpose. But knowing that there is a chair
available that would be such a fantastic thing for so many
wheelchair users, yet it's completely unobtainable to the
majority because it's so damn expensive and insurance companies
consider it a "luxury", completely pisses me off.

Yesterday I pushed myself around more than normal, because there
were a lot of places I needed to go. This morning I took the
dogs to the park and when I left, I realized that my shoulders
hurt. My left arm is tingly as I write this. The fact that my
insurance company would rather pay for painful, debilitating,
and expensive rotator cuff surgery instead of a wheelchair that
would make my life so much better completely pisses me off. Due
to a few unfortunate events (drunk driver, no seatbelt, bad timing,
incompetent doctors) my shoulders have been used for 28 years to
do things shoulders aren't meant to do.

There is no cure for spinal cord injuries. There are things that
can greatly improve the lives of many people with spinal cord
injuries though. The iBOT is a perfect example. I have no idea
how insurance companies decide what is necessary and what is a
"luxury", but I would bet my life that none of those people have
any clue about what it is like to live in a wheelchair.

I'm not pissed off that I am paralyzed. I don't like that I am,
and I wish I wasn't, but bad things happen to people all the
time. It's part of life. Besides, there is absolutely nothing
I can do to make me unparalyzed. There is something that can
make my life so much better though. But I don't have it. And
loads of people who would love to have one can't have it either.
THAT pisses me off.

I don't doubt that I will get an iBOT someday. It's going to
happen. (Hopefully it will happen before I get committed.) But
what about all the people who have no hope of getting one because
of their financial situation? That needs to change.

Have I mentioned that I'm completely pissed off today?

Okay, rant over. I feel slightly better to get that off my chest.
Now I'm going to go take care of some photography related business
so that I can start selling my work to pay for the damn thing.

P.S. There may be some spinal cord injured people reading this who
are pissed off that I'm so focused on getting an iBOT as opposed
to fighting for a cure. I believe there will be a cure someday,
especially after the dumbass gets out of the White House. For me
personally, I won't benefit from a cure. I've been paralyzed for
too long. My legs are unable to support weight. Lots of wheelchair
users, like myself, hope for a cure, but know they will never, for
various reasons, benefit from one. I'm choosing to fight this
battle. I am more interested in care than cure, and I do and will
continue to focus my energy on care. To those of you who are
fighting for a cure, I wish you the very best. Keep doing what
you're doing.

BTW, today's photograph is available for sale. Asking price is
$23,900. :D

Thursday, March 8, 2007

About yesterday's post...

I'm not normally so rude to people's questions. I get
lots of questions, and I don't mind. The kid yesterday
just asked the worst possible question he could ask at
that moment! Normally I would have told him that I either
need to find a ramp or an elevator, or someone needs to help

I don't run into this particular kid very often, but every
time I do he asks me tons of questions. "How do you get in
and out of bed?" "How do you drive?" "How do you go to the
bathroom?" He'll touch my legs and ask if I can feel it. He's
just a very curious kid who isn't afraid to ask questions, and
I'm fine with that. He is in 4th grade now and he's been
asking me questions for the past 3 years. Until yesterday,
I've always been polite and answered his questions nicely.
Yesterday when I saw him, I was in the hallway talking to a
friend and he came and leaned against me and interrupted the
conversation I was having with, "Wouldn't it be cool if you
could power this thing (while touching my wheel) by using dog
slobber?" I said, "Yes, that would be neat. There is plenty
of dog slobber around. Maybe that's something that you could
invent?". Then he asked me if I ever thought about getting
robotic legs. I thought to myself that this kid is going to
be absolutely facsinated when I get my iBOT. I thought about
telling him about it, but my daughter beckoned me and so I told
him that I had to go and I said goodbye. Halfway down the hall
he ran up behind me and said, "How do you get up stairs?" Trying
to catch up to my daughter, as well as being sad about not getting
my iBOT soon, I rudely answered over my shoulder, "I don't".

So there is the whole story. I realized this morning that what
I wrote in yesterday's blog probably sounded extremely bitter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Great timing, kid.

When I picked up my daughter from school today a boy
ran up behind me and he said, "Hey, excuse me. How do
you get up stairs?"

I replied, "I don't".

I should have given him a better answer than that, but
given recent events, I didn't feel like it.


The universe has been bombarding me with lots of messages
over the past few days. It's freaking me out.

Perhaps the universe is always sending us messages, but
we choose to not hear them.


I did something yesterday that I should have done a long
time ago. I took off my Lalaland hat and I had a serious
date with my bank statements, credit cards statement, and
my bills and I found out that there is no way in hell that
I can buy an iBOT at this time. Although I've already
been to the bank and I know that I can get a loan, there's
no way I would be able to make the payments on the loan.
Even the 25 year loan would be too much.

I'm feeling pretty stupid. I just wanted an iBOT so badly
that I was completely unrealistic about my ability to purchase

I WILL get one eventually though. I just don't have any idea
when. I've got lots of money raising ideas spinning in my head.
I'm currently working on getting them sorted out.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Museums and parties

Hey, guess what?! My iBOT still hasn't been ordered.
This is quite ridiculous if you ask me.

I could have made good use of the iBOT this weekend.
On Friday I was at the Art Museum. Of course the
art is displayed at a level that is comfortable for
a standing adult, not a sitting adult, which is totally
understandable. If I had the iBOT, I would have spent
my time there in Balance Function.

Parties. I'm not a real social person, but I went to
a party Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and I have
another one to go to tonight. Again, Balance Function would
have been (would be) used at these parties so that I
didn't have to look up while in conversation.

I'm hoping tonight is the very last party I will go to
without my iBOT. And I hope the art museum on Friday
is the last museum I go to without my iBOT.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Driving or iBOT?

I was asked which I thought would have a bigger
influence in my life, driving or the iBOT.

Getting my driver's license was huge, but I have
to say that I think the iBOT is going to have an
even bigger influence on my life. It's going to
open so many doors for me. And just getting around
is going to be so much less stressful. Like tonight
I was in downtown and it was raining and I was going
up a hill. In an iBOT, I could have zipped right
up that hill. Then I had to cross the street
but the part where the curb cut met the street was
completely covered with about 3 inches of rain water.
I wasn't able to see if there was any sort of rut
under the puddle of water. I gotta watch out for
ruts because if I'm going down a ramp and my little
wheels get caught in a rut, my chair tips forward
and I get dumped out. I went through the puddle
safely, but the wheels picked up the oil coated
water which then got transferred to my coat sleeves.

Okay, so getting extra wet and killing my shoulders
and worrying I'm going to fall out of my chair and
into the street isn't the worst thing in the world.
But having the iBOT tonight would have been so nice.

Oh, and another thing, I'm really look forward to being
able to carry an umbrella. I cannot push my manual
chair and carry an umbrella at the same time, so when
it rains, which it sometimes does here in Portland :D,
I get a little wet.

On a happy note, the daffodils are starting to bloom!
That means spring is just around the corner. Woo-hoo!