Monday, May 14, 2012

For the Love of Advocacy, Writing, and Leaf Blowers

“For the Love of Advocacy, Writing, and Leaf Blowers”
All Rights Reserved, Kevin Bruce Parent Photography with Permission

People generally have been very quick to determine two things out about me. I don’t like telephones, and if I don’t know something, I have no inhibition about asking a question. I ask myself questions almost constantly. I have always been extremely inquisitive. From asking questions, whether we look up the answer ourselves, consult an expert via writing or as in my case as a last resort we make an occasional phone call, we learn.

In life, it can be very annoying being around people who think that they do have all of the answers, especially when you know that they possibly don’t. Interestingly enough, quite often the best strategy that I have found is to not make an issue with the things that you think you know for certain. I honestly think that this is a good quality of a true friend or companion. You learn what is really important and worth negating. I may later make my point by forwarding the necessary supportive documentation. This, more than likely, is a result of having once worked as an Auditor. If I am wrong, I will determine and acknowledge that too. The important thing is for real friends to effectively communicate what is really necessary, even when they're very angry with you. Friends also show their support through encouragement regarding what the other person is up to, even when they may not have a personal interest. (For this, I am extremely appreciative.)

When something very seemingly unjust occurs, I do not hesitate to ask why either. I have learned from experience to think about what I’m going to say, and how I’m going to say it before I open my mouth. I also put a lot of emphasis on the “to whom?” am I going to say it to. When you have to wait excessively to check out or be seated, because there is only one aisle that you can fit through or there are only two tables that have been put together for a large party and there is nowhere else that you can sit because they only have booths, you learn that yelling at the clerk doesn’t do you a lot of good. Admittedly, sometimes it happens, but better outcomes are achieved by finding out who actually owns the facility or who is ultimately held accountable for the actions of their employees. When I can get through to them in a positive way, this gives me a feeling of being unstoppable.

The feeling of empowerment can be a good thing. I’m not always a control freak, believe me. There was a time in my life that I was more so, but I have reached a certain level of maturity where I like to see others take initiative and for them to be in charge. I may advise occasionally, but I don’t always have to tell people what to do. (Some may not believe me on this, but it is true.) Now, if you plan on doing something halfway and not wholeheartedly, I will be heard. When I do anything, I put over 100% into it and I expect others to do the same.

This week has really been awesome! Initially, when I started blogging, I thought I would only be reaching out to people with disabilities, or to those getting older. Surprisingly, there is an international interest in adaptive gardening, and I love it! There is simply a universal interest in gardening for all people. I am inclined to believe that horticulture as therapy is finally becoming more widespread in the USA. My media interviews this week have dealt specifically with issues relative to Access to the Garden, and have involved the home garden. There is a huge interest in raised beds, containers and tools that make gardening easier for all people.

Life in the suburbs often means being surrounded by people who know of no other way to garden other than by using power tools. I almost prefer the mow, blow and go guys because they are in and out very quickly. I will not wear ear plugs in my home office, so I intentionally try to schedule my work around the noise. Often, I’ll pull out my own electric blower and wage a noise war. Subconsciously, I want to do this at 2 a.m. This all reminds me of a funny song that I once heard on the Bob and Tom show by the Asylum Street Spankers called Leaf Blower. (Hysterical, to me anyway. No worries though, I don’t have any desire to use a gun.)

Yes, I’m a wee bit whacky at times, but life is too short. I keep the peace with my neighbors, although I’ve never strictly adhered to the covenants. I’ve tried to let them know beforehand exactly what I’m doing. We have stupid rules about front yard vegetable gardens, boats, basketball goals, clotheslines, etc. I personally would prefer more rules prohibiting wasteful practices, chemical pesticides and herbicides, irrigation use during rain, and excessive noise. I would also allow chickens……..

Good companionship is also important in the garden. Plants have to get along too. Native plants seem to be a logical choice. Plant selection requires choosing and placing plants in locations with other plants with similar needs (sunlight and watering requirements). The same is true within my containers, yet I still take chances and mix things up occasionally. (I don't like segregation.) Because I am in the South, my plants have to be very drought tolerant. Unlike my Canadian gardening friends, my Coneflowers are blooming now. For late summer color, I include Zinnia, Sunflowers and Lantana. My soil tends to be very sandy, making the use of compost essential. Mulch is also important to retain moisture. I have learned to integrate my gardens with the use of containers for the plants that require either extra hand watering or for those that require less water. I have tropical plants mixed in, and I know that with extra care in the winter they can survive.

If I was designing a community garden, I would be certain to have areas integrated within the garden with raised beds and containers. Wider rows and hard surface pathways would also be included. Herbs would be used to create a sensory garden. I know that space and a quality outcome are important, but with proper planning this can be maximized. Obviously, not everyone with a disability uses a wheelchair. I would plan my garden based on including all people within my community, and consider the fact that anyone can acquire a disability at any time. We’re not exclusive.

In my day to day life, I advocate for full inclusion of people with disabilities into every aspect of life by providing equal access. This is starting to happen naturally in all environments because of Civil Rights laws, and because the majority of our population is getting older. I have a weak grasp from my cervical spinal cord injury. People with arthritis do too. I don’t like to lean over, but neither does my husband who doesn’t use a wheelchair. He spent many years playing Hockey as a Goalie, and now has little cartilage left in his knees. Without glasses, neither of us can read anything in print. (I keep a cheap pair of glasses in the garage to read the directions on garden products.) Survival has been the ability to adapt and to effectively communicate when necessary, even by the use of a well written letter without ever having to talk on a telephone.


  1. I have never subscrided to a blog but, yours " hits home " with me. I am a wheelchair user (39 yrs. in Aug.) I love gardening, and writing (poetry mostly). Your writing is almost inspirational.
    How do I subcribe to your blog?

  2. Thanks! At the bottom of the page you can enter your email address.I have a Facebook Page, Access to the Garden as well where I post the link weekly. Love for you to like my page if you use facebook too!

  3. Yet another great one Mom. I love it. And you'll notice that I got a real-life account so I don't have to be "anonymous" anymore.