Tuesday, October 4, 2011


For those of you who read this blog, but do not know me personally, part of my physicallness is that I walk with forearm crutches. I was born with Spinal Bifida and supposedly, I have walked with forearm crutches longer than anyone else in the country. At the age of 52, I have walked with crutches 47 years. There are people older than me, but none walking longer. I have never used a wheelchair, except when I had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands. Then my husband was the one that really used it, because I could not turn the wheels. So my mobility depends on crutches.

That background brings me to the grocery store. When I shop I have to use the motorized carts. Now, I do not believe the stores are obligated to have them, but I am glad they do. Without them I cannot shop by myself. Earlier in my life I used to hold the grocery cart with one hand and crutch with the other. But several years ago the grocery carts were made larger and I am 4 ft 6in tall,too small to make this work anymore. The benefit of the cart is mostly for carrying things for me, I cannot carry and walk.

So...I go to the grocery store and there is one cart available for use. This is great. I get in the cart, unplug it and start out. I usually have to go in through the exit door, because people leave their regular carts blocking the path to the front door. I work my way over to produce and see another woman in a cart. Ok, first you need to know that gimps check each other out. And we can call each other gimps, but no, you may not. It is just the rules of the game. And may I suggest that if you do not know that rule, you might not actually be one of the club?

I pass the woman, glancing sideways to see if she has a cast, a cane, anything will do. But, alas, no. There are crutches in my cart. Maybe she has a lung or heart disorder, ok, hidden handicaps count. The woman notices me and smiles. "Hi, I just didn't feel like walking today, nothing is wrong with me, isn't that funny?" I stopped my cart. "No, it isn't." We stare and I go on. I can not believe the encounter.

One day I went into a large department store and I was waiting in line for a motorized cart. The wait was to be approximately 20 minutes. I was the last in line and fully alright with the fact that if I could not wait, then I could come back later. There are only so many carts. A tall large young gentleman comes in and sits behind me and he is asked if he is waiting on a cart also. He says no and continues to sit in line. All of a sudden a woman appears on a cart, motions to the gentleman behind me and all of a sudden he can walk very fast gets on the cart the woman is exiting. Now she had gotten this cart by telling a customer she worked for the store and would put it away. I stand up and yell, "Hey, there are people waiting in line for the carts you have to wait your turn." Immediately I am told by the greeter that they have nothing to do with this. "Yes, you can call a manager and people can get carts in order." No response. The gentleman is now wheeling away with the cart. The woman who procured it for him comes over to me. "You just need to be grateful that you are not as handicapped as he is and smile." My reply, "He may be handicapped, but he has to wait in line like everyone else for his turn." Her response, " I said smile, you are not getting the cart." At this point I exited the store.

Another situation was when I had a cart and could not get out of its parking place because of a young family of five children and a mother who had turned to face me, all staring. "This is a crippled person, she can't walk she has to use a cart. Her legs don't work." "Excuse me, please. I need to get through." No one moves, but the youngest one does wave. Finally is desperation I go through the exit to enter the store. One of the children says, "Mommy, she went in the wrong door." Her mother sugerly answers, " I know honey, crippled people can't read, so she doesn't know." My cousin often asks me how I do not slap people. I am not always sure. Note to those not in our club: If you or your children have any questions ask me. I have real answers to your questions and I have had practice, they are polished and ready.

This is not to be a post on how I, Traci is treated, but how the world sees handicapped people. The view that disturbs me the most is that generally the handicapped community does not label themselves that way, it is just a part of our physicalness, like having brown hair or blue eyes. But with the new trend of self-victimiztion and entitlement, at least with motorized carts and parking spaces, everyone wants to be a gimp. Everything seems to be a handicap. If people limp, are tired, feel depressed and are bipolar, they have a false belief that they are in the club. You are not. People!, it just is not that glamorous.

If you really need a cart or parking space that bad, ask, I will let you have it first. But you are not part of the club. Now, if you insist on trying to be pledges, let me give you a few rules with those carts you love so much. When you get through using the cart, bring it back in the store, park it in the designated spot and plug it in. A card carrying member just might need that cart later. Or Low and behold, you may come back tomorrow and want it yourself. And Card Carrying Members I have noticed many of you are lax in this area. Do you not want to keep your present status? Back to pledges: If you want my parking space, by all means cut me off before I slide into the spot myself. But pledges, please, please, have the good graces to limp as you walk in the store or at least grab your chest and slightly lean forward at least until you saddle up to the cart right inside your door. There are not enough motorized carts and parking places for all of us. So pledges, mind these rules - Card Carrying Members are watching you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Garden

With the onset of family sickness we had here in the spring and a family surgery in the summer combined with the heat - I did not get a garden in this spring/summer. So I was determined to do a Fall/ Winter one, plus the cold frame. Fortunately, the weather has changed early, which has given me perfect condidtions to go out and play in the dirt.

The first day I tackled the front garden which is not a very big space but was housing , no kidding, 7 ft weeds. I am trying to make this a perrenial garden, but so far there are only about 4 or 5 in the area. The Hycinth Vines and the Moon Flowers have done the best this year. They were a first year try. We picked up 45 bulbs with 6 varieties the other day, so they will go in next week.

Next on the "to do" list were the areas around the tree in the back yard and a circle of stones that had the 7ft weeds also. Each of these jobs in the weeks, months, before had loomed in my head as taking "FOREVER"! In actuality each time I went out to work I only spent 2hrs. I got what I wanted to accomplished in 2hrs and didn't burn out working then.

Then the day came when I woke up and knew it was time to weed the bed to be the actual vegetable garden. It was very frustrating at first. My Trusty Trowel and I were barely able to gain 2ft in 1/2 an hour. But as the grass came up, finally, it loosened as I went along. I finished the bed in about 1 1/2 hrs and measured it to be 1yd x 6.5yds. It's a little more and less in different places. I don't seem to be able to dig a straight line - ;)

I finished off that day with pruning the Pussy Willow in front of the porch. The view is much better now and I can actually watch the birds from inside now. This was all done last Friday, with WONDERFUL INTENTIONS to work the weekend. But we all know how that goes.

Monday I was back at it, but not until later in the day. I planted 2 rows of seeds and was just glad I made it out there. Tuesday I planted 7 more rows, each row being a different vegetable. Basically I am doing lettuce, spinach, white and red radishes, carrots, beets, and winter squash. I will plant again in 2 weeks. And then again in 2 and when frost is eminent I will do a planting up against the wall.

Wednesday I was beginning to think I would not make it outside, but I did. I did not do alot, but I was able to move the cold frame to a new location. I want to have it there now mostly so the pups get used to it being there. Eventually, which now means next week, I will put pots in it with soil and insulate them with wool and newspapers. Inside I bleached clean the sprouter and seeded the 1st tray.

So starts my Fall/ Winter Garden. If you have one let me know how it is going!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


This summer seems to be over and done with before we knew it. We started out the season with both us having terrible sinus infections. With that and the rain, I did not get a garden prepared or really planted this year. After the sickness passed I worked on putting perrenials in the front yard and some kitchen vegetables, but nothing came of the food part.

What did come this year were wonderful Moon Flowers! I have planted these before with no success, but this year they not only came up, but they are gorgeous and so much fun. What a wonder to look out your front door after dark and see a beautiful white large flower.

A few others came up this year. My Job's Tears are doing well. They are from the grass family and have little "beads" at the end of the tassels, that look like corn stalks. My maternal family has been growing these in our gardens off and on now for over 100 years. They are a delight. There is also a large Night Shade Plant, some Sweet Williams, a Purple "Bean" plant flower plant from Cousin Betsy, Shasta Daisies,and a wonderful speckled flower that I have no idea about. Hopefully these are all perrenials or will re-seed and the color will take over next year, without much effort.

So how did your summer go?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I love to grow plants. And with the winter that we are having here it is an unsatiable desire to see green live beings in the house.

My winter gardening started with my traditional paperwhite bulb in my kitchen window right after Thanksgiving. It was so cold in my kitchen window (How cold was it?) that for several weeks there was just the beginnings of a sprout, and green, but no height to the plant. I then moved the plant behind the tinted area of the window, which gives it a bit of warmth and the height definately caught up with itself. I was beholding sweet smelling white flowers in no time at all.

I was gifted before Christmas a Red Amarylis and I started it at the same time. I now have on our table a living Valentine. It has produced 6 blooms so far and looks like it might produce more. My next bulb adventure is to start crocus/tulip bulbs on Candlemas (Groundhog Day) and hopefully they will be blooming by Easter at least. These and the paperwhites I enjoy giving out to the women at Quilting and Ladies Aid and I love to hear the stories of how their bulbs are growing.

On the dreariest of days I started sprouts for salads. Last year I went to our bulk store and asked if they had seeds for sprouting. They looked at me kind of funny and shook their heads. About half way home I realized that I needed to think outside the box. I turned around and went back to the bulk store and bought one container each of every spice that was still a whole seed. So this gave me a good reserve for creative salad sprouts with such a variety as mustard, cumin, fennel.... The options are only limited by the seeds at the store.

Sprouts are wonderful. In just a few days they are growing and exciting. My hard part, ask my DH, is that I become emotionally attached to the little plants and let them keep growing. Then one day he finds the overgrown sprouts in the trash and I am starting over again. This year, I am making a concentrated effort to use them, and so far it is working.

Before I was married I had a cold frame that I used often in the winter and enjoyed lush green salads of leaf lettuce and spinach. After the addition of husband and pups, the coldframe was just not it's old self. It had been stepped on, jumped on and hit with a lawnmower. We moved it once, and the afore mentioned just seemed to happen again. Because of my handicap it is important to me to be able to work in the cold frame from the back patio, which has a roof, so I am not slipping on ice, etc. So I called a friend of mine who has the gardens where we got married. I wanted to know if he thought I could use a "rubbermaid" type clear tote as my cold frame on the back porch. He showed me a reasonable cold frame from Cook's Garden and it was assembled and brought to my concrete back porch. The back porch faces south, so I have good sun and I can manage it now in all weather.

Now to planting the cold frame. I have searched the internet obcessively to do this the "right way". And finally I decided to experiment with my ideas with just a few pots, and if that does not work - revise, revise, revise. My present idea is to fill the pots with potting soil, add seeds of lettuce and spinach and insulate the pots by lying them on newspapers and putting crushed newspapers between the pots.

I want to mention that I did buy two small clear totes for planting. One I have put to the left of my kitchen sink, filled with potting soil and seeded once. The result was that all the seeds came up, but they were very thin and spindley. Back to Google Search and decided that I needed to raise the tote closer to the window and leave the light above the sink on, so the plants were not struggling so much for light. The grocery store supplied me with the makeshift shelving and I have replanted. I will let you know how it turns out.

The second tote, same size, I still want to experiment with outside beside my coldframe. The main reason is that I want to show women in apartments, low income housing units etc, how to garden in small spaces, all year around. Totes can be bought rather inexpensively. So can potting soil, clay/plastic pots and newspapers. There is not only a joy, but empowerment, in growing even some of your own food. So as I plant the coldframe, I also am planting a couple small pots in the tote and work on tweeking this system. Hopefully I will have answers by Spring and can share this information with others.

In between these growing food adventures, this last weekend, my husband and I went to the Conservatory. It was so green and warm on one of the more frigid days of the year. Not only was each and every room a vegetative joy, but we had the added pleasure of the Orchid Show. Orchids of every color imaginable, all over the conservatory. I love orchids, but I also love the Tuxe, the oldest kitty at our house who also loves orchids. In fact she can eat a $25 orched down to the dirt and say - Yum, can I have another Mom? - so we haven't had anymore orchids. But, when we went to the conservatory gift shop I was delighted to see orchids in terrariums. That is our solution. I immediately found a 1/2 price small orchid and started making plans. The next day I took apart the 5 terrariums I had, sifting through and pruning and discarding and now have four terrariums with a variety of plants, one a special orchid terrarium. I hope this works. It is lovely and non-edible.

And last, but not least today, I put some tiny peat pellets, (Have you watched them expand and grow? It is true entertainment.)in three cheerful colored half moon-shaped containers, with matching saucers and planted Lambs Ear (orange 1/2moon), Sensitive Plant (Green 1/2moon) and Polka Dot plant (purple 1/2 moon). These were a gift from my DH during the after-Xmas sales at Waldenbooks, they just looked fun. And I have been wating to grow more ornamental plants. I have sowed and placed the little 1/2 moons in the tote beside the kitchen sink and am anxiously awaiting my first signs of life in them.

So I will keep you up to date on my growing adventures. Are you growing anything this winter? Do you have any suggestions for me? Happy Green Thumbs to us all!