Saturday, December 21, 2013

Counting stars - living the live you have

I was recently speaking to a friend who relayed to me a story about a young man stricken with a brain tumor - whose subsequent surgery has left him essentially unable to speak, walk properly or engage in those activities he was fully accustomed to doing  as a young man of 27.  She relayed how the family was upset and understandably worried and distraught at his lack of ability to be "who he used to be."

I believe that living the life that I do - with a son who is severely disabled by autism - leads me to see this young man's situation and life in general in a different light.  I see the optimism versus the pessimism and I see a life worth living and worth fighting for even if he never returns to his former function. I see a blessing of him surviving 5 surgeries, infection and numerous set backs. I see a warrior and a survivor and someone I truly admire and would encourage to fight on.

I understand how his family feels --they have "lost" who they knew - they have had to replace their fully functional and independent son and brother with a facsimile of his former self and they are undeniably and understandably upset and discouraged.

Living the life I have has led me to counting stars  - I count blessings in the every day hurdles accomplished - in hours, minutes and seconds - I count stars for what I have not what I wish I had or would like to have had.   I count stars every day for the simplest things. A beautiful sunset stopped me in my car yesterday evening, breathtaking and blessed - mother nature sending us messages that I hope we take note of.

We rush - stumble and race through life forgetting to count the stars - a dog's funny antics - a kitten tumbling with its mouse toy, a  time of peaceful thoughtfulness, lunch with a friend, a baby's first smile - so many things.

I feel so blessed to have met my son and to have him in my life. He has taught me to count stars every day not for what I wish I had , but for what I have...



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fast and furious - No rules autism

Growing in knowledge with an individual with autism is a never ending, changing set of dynamics. Treating and caring for an adult with autism is an even more challenging set of rules for which you have never been shown the rule book.  To navigate you wing it - fly by the seat of your pants - and careen around uneven corners of guessing. The compass is missing the navigational parts and you spend a lot of time hoping your hunches will pan out.

When we started this journey Andrew was 3 years old.  Like  a computer hard drive mother nature/genetics had forgotten to hardwire his brain with typical human essential information.    He came without a manual, or instructions.

Simple baby games did not happen for him, and tasks inherent (one would think) to all young toddlers were no in his repertoire. Clap hands became a lesson, waving bye bye became a lesson, touch your nose or your toes became a lesson.

We piled in the learning as fast as his brain would retain it and some things have stuck to this day, though not enough growth has emerged from these hard won lessons to withstand the test of time

As Oprah would say "What I know" is that I know autism is complex, taxing, physically and emotional challenging for caregivers and destined to defy expectations or plans.  No one knows what to tell you or how to repair or regenerate those areas of the brain that remain defective and damaged.

We find as we enter the young adult years - the demands become more challenging, the behaviors more complex and the answers even harder to find.  New behaviors crop up daily, weekly, hourly and we rise to the challenge as best we can with suppositions and logical (we hope) responses to behaviors we cannot understand.

Why is it so difficult for him to transition from one surface to another - stopping as if there is an invisible barrier between wood floor and tile. We don't know, we simply hope to move him past this unseen obstacle.

We move forward at a snail's place, but forward is always our goal.

We are never totally defeated but we are totally challenged. However, we rejoice in his presence in our life and as Tiny Tim said in A Christmas Carol - God Bless us everyone!

merry holidays


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday spirit

Some photos to share and to keep for myself to look back on ... memories.

Ripley (bad boy) and Asa good boy - Lab and Border Collie pals. Looking happy after breadstick treats! 

Waiting for the turkey to finish its cooking cycle!  Smells yummy! 

Happy Holiday, 

cate :)

Enjoying the simple pleasures - getting busy for the holidays

We have been working hard in the shop - We have a small team of helpers for Andrew  as he requires assistance and redirection to work - but work he does and it seems quite enjoyable lately.

We have holiday tunes in the background and we have determined Frosty the Snowman is the #1 hit.  We also baked a tray of cookies last week that Andrew helped us put on the cookie sheet.  We try every day to make each day productive and enjoyable.

We have been working very hard on Holiday products. We were approached by a local special services school to put some of our flower arrangements in the school for sale - our helper Andrew M attends this school and I would be proud to show off some of his work.

Christmas trees have been assembled this past week for a trip up to Hoboken - there is a  tiny forest of trees ready to make the journey and I hope that our customers enjoy these little harbingers of the holidays to come.

They are one of a kind and each one is a little different.  Both Andrew and Andrew M help to punch the circles for the trees and assist with some of the assembly.

We also have been making gift tags, holiday glass balls, vintage ornaments and I hope interesting items for our friends in Hoboken.



The finished products - our woodland tags with hand punched snowflakes.

Creating is sometimes messy, but fun as the glass stones sparkle across the table. 


I cannot help but be grateful for the beautiful day we have in front of us - family stopping by and sun shining brightly. I call them GTBAD - Good to be alive days - when you just cherish the simple things and pause to be happy and idle - in the very best of ways - eating, relaxing and laughing.

I treated my girls (chickens) to a half of a butternut squash and they chowed down to the point where their beaks were covered with orange left overs. Quite a funny sight and well worth the effort to bake it up for them.  Yes, they like their squash cooked!

Simple pleasures to me are the best... and I enjoyed their enjoyment... funny birds..

We have a helper here in the  barn, actually two - first we have our newest member Papercatz beetle  and of course we have our other  member Andrew M. who regales me with tales of Sponge Bob and Mickey Mouse while he  works at helping us get products ready.   Andrew is a young adult with autism and an utter delight to add him to our helpers.  He requires assistance and some direction, but once he gets started - he is the best helper I could ever ask for.  I enjoy every second he stops by and he is becoming a really good helper here as he learns new things.

When he ages out of the educational system (this year) he will be hard pressed to find a job, as he requires a low anxiety environment, and some assistance and redirection,  but I hope that we can keep him  working here at Papercatz as the entire premise of our company is to help young adults with autism be creatively employed.

On the other front our  studio bug helper arrived last night. As I was working through foam and moss and pots creating little Christmas trees, I spotted him walking along, very slowly and methodically, as these insects tend to do... and I curiously noted green feet  and green antennae - it had tediously walked through a forest of green foam to rise up on the top of the pot in my direct line of vision.  He appeared to be stopping periodically to try to clean off his feet. They appeared to be covered in green snow.  I thought it was hilarious and stopped to get a picture of  him/her/it.  Soon, thereafter, our newest helper was treated to a little outside enjoyment as I let it go into the night to figure out how it might remove all of the moss it had picked up walking across my pots.

I thought I might share some of those simple moments, but very spontaneous  and uplifting.

Andre M helping to make our Christmas trees!

Papercatz helper
Merry Bug ! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Andrew and the fine art of being outdoors

I always wonder why the universe at large feels that kids with disabilities need to work harder to get nowhere than the general population....

They should work every day when the rest of the world takes vacations, time off and just goofs off. I have had this ongoing and frustrating conversation more so later than usual.

Very hard for me to support that type of thinking, when I feel it is so important to program time for positive experiences and happiness - all of us should take time off for happiness.

We often go weeks without giving ourselves that special time to exhale and take in the world around us - we are so busy with work work work and the daily grind of life. It is no different for kids with disabilities  and it seems we are all missing bigger picture of how important it is to make "memories."  You will remember your worst day on vacation before you will ever remember your BEST day at work..

So we played hooky yesterday and went bike riding - Andrew is especially fond of clouds of all shapes and sizes and the windier it is the more he likes to cloud gaze. I too, am drawn upward for a peak at the heavens - fascinated the smallness of us in the vastness of the universe.

Yesterday was an especially good cloud day with formations of all shapes and sizes! I enjoyed them as much as he did!

HO HO HO - MERRY EARLY CHRISTMAS - The forest through the trees

We have been busy here - and andrew more so - putting together all things Christmas in a fast a pace as we can imagine.

Glitter is everywhere, "buffalo snow" is my favorite accessory and it's feeling festive, albeit a bit early. We are chasing Halloween down with a bit of HO HO HO.

Thought I'd post some pictures of the forest we have created - getting ready for Hoboken - there are also snowflakes coming (vintage music) snowflakes, vintage music balls and vintage map ornamenents... I have not even started the flowers yet!...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hoboken Christmas Show

Heading up to Hoboken again for their annual Christmas show.  I really love that little city - lots of verve- and pizzazz - lots of really nice people and great diversity in shopping styles.

Getting busy making ornaments and decorations for the Christmas/Holiday season - lots of little trees - garlands and ornaments.  Lots of glitter and mess from my need to "snow" everything up a bit.   I am a bit obsessed with the glitter of it all and have made a real effort to give everything that frosty effect.

I love the way light glistens off newly fallen snow - sparkles in the moonight like little diamonds, so I have no hesitation recreating that effect.

Also working on some vintage ornaments in old papers circa 1890's.

Newly minted are some Christmas balls with vintage maps and music paper - my favorite activity yesterday and spent most of the day putting them together. Quite a few steps to get it just right, but worth it and hope my customers love them as much as I do.


Christmas Holiday balls - with vintage music paper and "snow." 

Lots of fun to find special papers - this was Twas the Night Before Christmas

Monday, October 21, 2013

Little Mouse - barn guest- Stewart Little makes a reservation

This past weekend I had the dubious pleasure of being visited by my very own barn guest. Out in the studio which is a converted barn - there are my cracks and crevices that will allow a mouse to come on in and stay awhile.. No matter how much you plug the leaks in an old barn it's never enough so you have to expect the occasional visitor.

And so it was that Stewart Littlest arrived on Friday and stayed through Sunday evening.

He ( I am not sure,  but for the sake of politeness let us just say it's a he).

He emerged from behind a layer of old barn wood and decided that the top of the control box for the TV was a fabulous (not to mention warm) resting napping cleaning spot.

He would climb atop instantly and I 'd feel his presence - I'd turn and there he was blinking at me with his tiny mouse eyes. He was, despite most people's aversion to mice, a very cute little animal. Tiny whiskers, little pink rimmed ears and  little brown eyes.

He would come and sit and look at me and then curl up nicely to sleep. When he awoke he'd clean his face - dart into the wall and disappear only to return several hours later to resume his place on the TV remote box.

I clapped my hands at him and talked to him and he didn't care, he continued to sit very unimpressed. If I walked really close he would eye me but not move. He KNEW he was faster than me and he had a quick escape route anyway so no worries.

This went on all day Saturday, alternately napping and resting on the remote. I turned the TV on loud he looked around but was unphased.

Finally I had had enough of the visitation and set a trap - humane trap- meant to trap and release.  He outsmarted the trap and decided instead that it made a very cool house... much like the little hamster houses you see at Pet Stores for all sorts of acceptable rodents, this little country mouse had decided to make this trap is home. He became a squatter...

At last Sunday night we decided to play him at his own game sliding rulers against the two opening holes on the trap blocking his exit. Keep in mind there was peanut butter AND cheese in the trap for him to enjoy which he had rejected. I think he might have been waiting for a nice glass of Merlot... or Zinfandel?  He refused the cheese and the peanut butter.

So now, trapped with no place to escape he had to run up the ramp into the enclosure part of the trap and was stuck....

We ceremoniously brought Stewart out into the woods a good way away from the house and he scampered away very quickly..  he apparently can move quickly when HE wants to...

So, today, I continue to gaze in the corner waiting to see him back on top of his warm space but so far he has not found his way back... One little victory for the humans... He did enjoy a nice warm weekend in doors and for that I was happy to offer him a bed and breakfast as long as he checked out when his reservation ran out :)

Hiding next to a grey lamp?  maybe he thinks I cannot see him. You can see his little pink ears tucked back. 

A little blurry I did not want to scare him to death with a flash, but there he is hiding in his new "home/trap."

Goodbye Stewart!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why should I be content to crawl when I have the impulse to soar? Helen Keller - SCREAMING TO BE HEARD

I love that quote and I love what it means - allowing and freeing a person's spirit to soar no matter their physical disabilities or their mental or intellectual ones... we all matter...we all count...we all have a voice.

I find myself frequently saying out loud and alone - WHO MAKES THESE RULES - ???  Who decides who is at the top of the pyramid  and who is at the bottom. And what makes someone "worth" something, salvageable, important, and worthy... what are those ingredients that make one person more important and worthy than another? Money...looks..intelligence...talent? all of the above or none of the above.

Money surely buys power.. intelligence - well sometimes - many highly intelligent people scream into the wind, against the insanity that seems to be so incredibly pervasive these days.... looks - surely one simply has to look at a Victoria's Secret model's bank account to agree - looks count - Talent? that's variable for me - one person's version of talent is not necessarily  agreed to by all.  But sure talent certainly can bring in the big money...

Where does that leave the rest of us? Not sure. I am assuming there is no formal caste system in the United States - but being the parent and friend of individuals with disabilities - I would tend to tell anyone who would listen that the caste system is alive-well- and fully functional.

If you cannot speak/communicate and make your needs/wants known there are a whole host of agencies and entities that will speak for you in the name of humanity - but their voices are prejudiced to their own viewpoints of  how someone with a disability should live, and not how the individuals themselves WANT to live.

NO ONE is listening - they are speaking FOR them but not to THEM and not with the voice of the voiceless but their own agenda  - as to what is available and what THEY think not the disabled individual is telling them by virtue of their actions or nonverbal communication.  Their "listening" is biased.

My frustration as a long term advocate for my son only grows by leaps and bounds as he turns into a young adult. It does not abate it crescendos and erupts.  The more I am exposed to the more frustrated I become....

IF you look, if you listen and if you BE STILL  you will hear the voices of the voiceless and they are SCREAMING to be heard.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Los chickies with momma

I have been awful at taking pictures of these crazy chicks. They are three weeks old this weekend... and are beginning to look like gangly teens all legs and feathers sticking out in different directions as they loose their baby fluff and down to real feathers. Just in time for winter.

They are crazy and skittish and all over the place like a crazy bunch of bugs running helter skelter.

I gave them the opportunity to go outside yesterday in the sunshine and they all were too "chicken" to go out the door...

heirloom tomatoes from our garden
3 of the 4 crazy chicks giving me a wary eye

mother Penny giving me a very wary eye

Thank you Hoboken

Had a wonderful time in Hoboken on Sunday. Great little city and wonderful people.

I trek up there a few times per year to just hang out... I don't even care if I sell anything, (well maybe I care  if NO ONE liked my stuff), but honestly the vibe is so positive and the people so nice, it's worth the trip just to be there.

I am not a city person by nature, so it's a good healthy dose of city and I enjoy it every time.

The ONLY thing I don't like is the sweep up crew. They bring out their street cleaning machines BEFORE they allow the vendors to pack up.... but it's a small price to pay for the vibe of the great people I meet.

I love to hear stories and often there are stories behind the purchase to match my own story of hope and compassion and courage. I am so encouraged and buoyed by the idea of hope springing eternal...

And so the fall season has been busy for this little shop. I have the aching shoulders to prove that hunching over production of materials is a sure fire sign that we have been busy and it has been a labor of love.

I have some pictures to get out from the show - need to get them off my phone first!

Some of our recent orders include  a wedding in Montana! Happy to help a lovely bride have a special day.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Awhile ago - three weeks or so- I posted that  my silkie hens were sitting on eggs - comandeered from a local chicken farm since we have no rooster - there was no point in sitting on our own eggs.

So surrogates come in all shapes and sizes and so it came to be that my girls, Paris and Penny go to babysit and hatch some eggs.

I have waited impatiently for the three weeks to pass and was just about to give up hope since there were no signs of life from these eggs at all. they are supposed to peep inside the egg and there was NO peeping.

So I saw a broken shell this afternoon and then another broken shell and NO chicks... so I was afraid to lift the hen up to see what was under afraid they were just empty egg shells.

this is what I see so far....
There is the open egg shell - now to see if there is anything under the hen!
stay tuned.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Simple strength

Today the garden is brimming over with heirloom tomatoes and gourds.  The gourds were planted by my bird friends and most likely by Ripley (the ever mischevious lab). He was eating gourds last summer as a puppy and in breaking them open acted as his own Ripley Gourdseed and spread a wealth of gourds throughout the garden that I had no idea existed.

And so it was this summer with seed packets in hand that I  prepared to plant new gourds - as I surveyed the perfect place to plant them  I noticed they were already there - how I was not sure but I allowed them to stay in their preplanted spaces and sit back and watch.

And they grew and grew and now they are almost ready for the harvest. Along with the gourds grew purple and green basil and wonderfully colorful heirloom tomatoes in green and orange.

The gourds have an incredibly fascinating affair of tendrils - how they do what they do would only be explained with time lapse, but they begin their lives curled in a tight circle.  They slowly unfurl reaching for the nearest support - stretch their tendrils and expand like slinky's to hold their burden. In this case gourds are held high and suspended over the garden by this maze of tendrils.

You can see the stretch in the loops of vine as they struggle to keep all of the gourds suspended above the ground. I am astounded always by nature - how do these plant tendrils do what they do and so well. How do they "know" how to grab, attach and balance their load. In one case three veins are at work to suspend their important fruit. Amazes me always.

Beautiful fragrant basil. Sitting happily in the barn.

How fascinating to see the suspension bridge.

A tripod affair of mother nature.

What a lovely "weed" with delicate pink flowers.

All that work for this little beauty. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thought for the day - The Strength of Women

Is there an irony in  knowing that the "man" who tortured and held three women captive for 10 YEARS only lasted one month in his own well deserved imprisonment  i.e. jail. He lasted 30 days. They lasted 10 years.

While I applaud all  human beings  for each individual's strength and tenacity - This is a testimony to the strength of women.

Cate :)

Time for weddings

October appears to be a popular month for tying the knot..  My favorite month for sure.

Recently finished were some bouquets for a bride out West who chose the lovely colors of silver, gray, cobalt blue and olive green. Very pretty combination.

I learn a lot from my customers. They introduce me to new color combinations and variations I have not tried before, and I am grateful to their artsy natures that pushes me to new places.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Life cycles on our mini farm

Our two hens Penny and Paris have taken to roosting and trying to hatch infertile eggs. Our rooster died a month of so ago, so there is no doubt these are chickless eggs.

I recently acquired some fertilized eggs from a chicken friend and they are now sitting on possible real live chicks. My first hatchlings! Maybe I hope. I pray the experiment does not go amuck. I wait with much anticipation.

So we candled the eggs the other day and there were veins throughout - my chicken friend told me this was a great sign. So the girls continue to sit. We are almost 10 days in with about 11 more to go.  3 weeks for a chicken to become a chicken.

We started on the 17th!

Paris is the buff/blondie.

Penny is the black hen - she is cranky now when I bother her!Eggs to tend


Friday, August 23, 2013

Skipping stones -

Skipping stones - that analogy and vision floated through my mind this morning as I thought  how to describe my life at times - and my interpersonal connections - skipping stones -  living life with an individual with autism or ANY disability - geriatric - pediatric - we skip stones daily, hourly and sometimes by the minute.

We are often told by professionals about our loved ones as IF we don't live with them and observe them every day. I have taken to skipping stones with these persons as well.  They leave and my life resumes without a ripple. Easier to skip stones then to dive deep. It's never worth it and never results in anything positive anyway.  Everyone knows your loved one better than you do and everyone has an opinion. But in the end the only opinion that matters is your own, and the only one left standing holding this basket of skipped stones is you. The basket gets heavy as you are unable to find a safe haven to unload it.

I put the stone skipping on different levels.

Talking to professionals  - skipping stones - waiting until they are finished so that you may resume your life.  They may mean well, but you know your life - you live it 24/7.

Acquaintances - friends - skipping stones - flying over the water - barely touching down - no one really wants to know the intimate details of your crazy life.

You become adept at skipping stones - skip stones for almost everyone - except a few chosen people  - this list grows shorter each year.

You look for kindred spirits who understand -  they  will allow you to dive into the depths - they will even dive with you,  but they are few and some are short lived as you tend (unintentionally) to burn out all but the most trusted friendships.

So you skip stones - hello - how  are you to the guy at the post office - just great you say - first stone of the day skipped successfully without a ripple on the water.

The day proceeds on much in the same fashion.

It is the way it is. It should be better - deeper - more meaningful - isn't life supposed to be meaningful  and conversation cathartic?  

You learn to drop your skipped stones into your basket at the end of  the day readying them for the next day and the next. The basket gets heavy but you continue on.  Perhaps you may never meet a person to share your basket, but you keep trying, because that is what you need to do.

I  keep a sharp eye out for stone skippers - someone in my secret club - we carefully unload our baskets together, and as they empty and stones pile up we feel a sense of freedom and release.

To all my fellow stone skippers-- I salute you for your bravery and I hope to meet you in my travels...



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Artificial Freedom - Living the Autism Lifestyle

What is that old Janis Joplin song? " Freedom's just another word for nothin left to lose."

Being a parent is not a job for the faint hearted. Being a parent of a 19 year old with severe autism is not a job for the faint hearted or the faint minded.

The word freedom takes on new meaning.

What does freedom look like? What is it? Freedom to me would mean an unbridled enthusiastic emergence into a world that has no boundaries or boundaries only of your choice. Freedom to get up when you want, freedom from worry, freedom from the day to day grind of reporting in to a job or boss.  Seeing new things, doing new things, freedom to choose what your day would look like.

For Andrew, there is only the freedom we afford him. The freedom to work on new tasks, the freedom to watch a movie, eat a snack when he wants, but he lacks many basic freedoms because of the level of his disability. He needs to get up at a certain time, because to allow him the 'freedom' not to means time to do unproductive things, like taking the hems out of his clothing or shredding papers.  Freedom for him is canceled out by a need to be engaged in more positive activities. But perhaps if he could speak he would like to be free to rip up papers and take some hems out. That is his view of freedom, but unfortunately society does not smile on those activities.

So it is that we establish a system of "artificial freedoms" - creating a schedule of our choosing, not his, that allows him to choose or put in order those activities he clearly does not want to do. What is he choosing? I believe this is merely giving him the opportunity to delay those activities to the end of the list that he finds most abhorrent, putting the least abhorrent first.  Is that freedom?

The voice of reason is also yelling in my other ear and to that voice of reason I answer --- yes I know there are things that must be enforced for safety and well being and I am fully on board with all of that. But to create a "leisure schedule" of someone elses choosing and call it choice seems absurd.

I can never and will never fully decipher the WHY of things  - that establishes that people with autism must learn to: Make eye contact firmly and for prolonged periods of time (I don't), be willing to engage with all sorts of individuals who tell  them what to do on a daily basis --and be cooperative 100% of the time -- I don't - does anyone?

There is such an utter lack of individuality and personalization to this disabled community it is no wonder that individuals on the severe end of the spectrum implode and explode. They have no other way to show that they are really ticked off and tired of being manipulated.  It is kind of an exaggerated "Can  you hear me now?"

I am grateful every day for my ability to communicate by speech or other  means, - and yet frustrated that no one wants to think outside the box, and consider possibilities that veer off the mundane and conservative. Old ideas for a bygone time.
Andrew's beautiful ribbon -  made from shredded and dyed cotton. Choice! yes...
  Does the individual look happy? If they don't look happy - if they are acting up  - chances are like the rest of us - they are not happy.

The key  I believe for teens and adults with autism is to establish by way of observation those activities that individuals with autism "enjoy" on their own, tweak them slightly  to make them less destructive and more productive, and then when this process has been completed, embed these activities in a series of choices. That would to me, signify freedom of choice - an ability for someone who is disabled and nonverbal to exercise their rights to choice.

Society as a whole, is quite a goody two shoes  pompous, and uninformed parade. People with autism "should" do this or that or the other thing. I always say WHY - WHY- WHY - if  I color outside the lines, why can't they? As long as they are hurting no one in their exploration to be human in their own way - why do we feel the need to restrict, control and corral creative spirits?

I am thankful for my hands, my voice, my eyes and my ears, and I relish in the little things. Last night I was captivated by the moon  surrounded and suspended in wisps of clouds, shining like a globe above the yard - I am thankful I am given this choice to view this spectacular show of nature and that no one was calling me, setting off a timer or otherwise telling me I have outstayed my allotted time to head to bed.

I am afraid I would fail again and again if I were to be corralled in that way...

Color outside the box and when you can and if you can let individuals with disabilities do the same...


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Papercatz Garden - High summer

I like to document the seasons and the changes they bring to my patch of earth.  We have a large flower garden and a smaller vegetable garden - all organic.

we struggle with the soil as it is not great growing medium, and it needs to be amended and helped along to provide proper nutrients.  This year is our second year with tomatoes and gourds, peppers, and herbs.

The gourds are going great with new babies popping up along the vine every day. Today I spied some new ones in green with yellow tops.  The remainder are a nondescript fall gourd, but I love them nonetheless as they are home grown.

I can sense the seasons more than I even see them... I feel them change. I believe even if you took away a calendar I would know where we are in the seasons by the way the light slants, the bugs hum and the birds fly.

The time of spiders will soon be upon us ... they occupy the zone between late summer and early autumn. It is still warm in the day but the nights cool forming copious amounts of dew on the grass, drenching your shoes even with a simple walk across to the barn.

The spiders will work furiously to form tiny webs everywhere in the grass, I suppose trapping the last of summer's bounty.  Knowing full well what cold lies ahead they seek to gorge themselves on other hapless insects.  Its a bug eat bug world...

From the tiniest of insects the need to survive and the drive to survive is hard wired.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lopsided benefits - children with disabilities

I am a person, who by my own admission, clings too tightly to those things I love.  It always revolves around people but at times it can be directed at a well loved pet, a  favorite shrub,  a place, a sentimental round about of emotions.

I enter this circle with the unintentional intention of never leaving; clinging to those who impact my life positively and at times people who impact it negatively.  I am in a revolving door of emotions; holding on when I should be letting go; seeing through my own tinted glasses virtues and traits in people that are not there, and when I should be running in the other direction, instead I draw the circle tighter.

When you are raising a child with a disability you are subjected to that revolving door of emotions more than is comfortable or natural. You have caregivers come who lift you up out of some very dark spots; give you a reason to believe or hope things can be better, when you have hit rock bottom, and in my case, I cling to them like a  human life preserver, not relying on my own strength and conviction, but instead  allowing them to direct and drive through the commotion, while I jump in the back seat.

While is is natural and necessary to allow others to take over when you are on this long journey of disability support, it is not in my best interest or any parent's best interests to completely turn over the reins and step back. To do so is to court disaster and emotional disintegration.

I have been guilty of that this past year -  attaching myself like a strip of velcro to the vitality of another; and crossing off  all the negatives in my mind, of where this was going to take me.

I cannot hold onto others with an iron claw grip.  I have to allow my strength and resiliance to rebound.  Yes, allow help, support, respite, but don't give up your captain's hat. You will invariably need to get out the sextant and chart your own course in due time.

If you stay in the crow's nest, keep your eye on the horizon, the curve is less steep, the shock less painful when your "crew" abandons ship.

I say this out loud to myself as much as an affirmation as I can muster today as I figure out how to take back the helm, steer the ship and keep my course.

Two years ago when I started the business for Andrew I started it with a sense of purpose and determination. That has not changed. Though I mourn for what I wished would have been a longer relationship with our support person, I have to accept that this is not the way this ship was charted to sail.

I have to allow the drift and believe I can manage the wheel once again.


Monday, August 5, 2013

When you come to the end of all that you know....

I heard a little quote many years ago when I began the autism journey - little did I know the journey would become as arduous as it has - but the quote went like this...

When you come to the end of all that you know and are about to step out into darkness.... faith is knowing that you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.....

I often think about that when I am faced with those times that any step seems to be the wrong step or any step might pitch me into the precipice of the unknown.. a dark and unfamiliar world that I dread to enter.

The entire autism journey has been that way.. unknowing, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable ... never quite being sure which way to turn or path to take. It has not changed in 16 years and I don't expect it ever will.

Today I learned that Andrew's job coach and supporting team member is leaving.. so sad to see her leave. She has been on the Papercatz team for a year and I had hoped to have her in our lives longer... selfish of me I know ... but I hoped. I wish her well and will always appreciate the goodness she brought to our home.

It is difficult finding new personnel and when people work in your home every day they become more than personnel they become family.   I am sad to see her go, but hope that her future is bright and happy...

Scared... yes and unprepared always for what is next...


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Memories of summer

Tonight while cutting the grass and smelling the summer smells - my nose - my brain and my eyes took me back to an earlier day, earlier times, summers of bliss and laziness. Summers of childhood. If only you could bottle that innocence and exuberance and remember to use it wisely, uncork the bottle of youth slowly and savor savor savor.

The sight and smells of newly mown grass brought me back to playing outside until dark, never wanting to come in and coming in exhausted, dirty and sweaty and not really wanting to take a bath or shower, but being forced to succumb to the water and the soap's magic. If you were lucky a snack before bed was a true treat and rare.

There was spotty air conditioning then, not the monster cold machines we have now, and my room had no air conditioner -  just a fan grabbing wisps of a cooler night just outside the window.

I would push my bed under the window (fretting about the unknown things outside in the dark lurking just outside the window's  halo of light).  Monsters? Bad guys? vampires? It would depend on what movies I had watched that week as to what flashbacks I might be entertaining on any given evening.

The wisps of air were often lacking and I tossed and turned looking for those elusive cool spots on the bed, hoping for a reprieve.  This was the era pre sunblock/sunscreen, so I often was sporting a new sunburn on my back, making back sleeping impossible.   Add the factors together, the heat and the sunburn and I am sure there were nights where I was awake more than asleep. Hoping for the tiny wisps of cool air.

This was the era of grin and bear it.   There was no whining "It's too hot."    "I need a drink of water." Those types of pleas in my home went unheard and unanswered. "Don't wake your father - I'll get you a drink" was more the norm --with my mother sneaking in the extra comfort. Dads were tough in those days not coddlers not enablers.

I shot some pictures tonight while enjoying the green grass and cool air of a temperate nite.

Little garden monster - saddleback caterpillar - his sting feels like a lit cigarette! Beware! He got me! 

Sunset - August, 2013 - looks like the Caribbean - but it is not!

Dream your dreams and fly your flights of fancy - you are never too old to dream! 


Sunday, July 14, 2013


I always like to try to take the time to enjoy each season for all that it brings to my senses.

Fall is my favorite season - the changes in temperature, storms and fast moving skies, quickens my senses and makes me feel more connected to the earth - more influenced by its fury and its strength.

Winter follows close behind fall as a favorite time. I do get tired of the end of winter - those tired late winter days of warmer temperatures, winter desperately trying to fling some snow our way only to find it melting in the atmosphere and raining down on us in the form of slushy, mushy snow/ice.

I like the days of deep winter most - those times when hibernation and the need to nest take on new meaning,  urgency and enjoyment. A cozy blanket, some chips and cheese  and a good movie.  My favorite seasons overall seem to be those seasons with the most change, the most volatility for storms and the need to be sheltered taking haven indoors. I am not of a tropical mind set.

I tolerate summer - threatening to run to Alaska should it continue in the 90's - wondering where in the world I could live where it is cool enough and moderate enough to spare me from this horrible humid heat. It smolders up from the ground in late day.  You can feel it oozing up from the grass at the end of a long, hot, humid day. There is a miniature sauna at my feet, alive with insects, more than I really want to know about or acknowledge live at my feet. I feel especially vulnerable as I tip toe through clover with buzzing bees and flip flops.  My feet are an easy target for a sting or two. I carefully avoid the bees, firstly because I respect them and secondly because the stings not only hurt me, but it kills the bees who are only doing their job of collecting pollen to feed their colonies.

So, I muddle through summer, dreaming of cooler days, waiting for fall...  and taking the time to remind myself to bring in the fresh flowers that abound right now.  The garden is chock full of blooms. Amid the buzzing bees I take  a few. Trying not to disturb their work.

Green fields of soy - there is a hint of a rainbow. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The secret life of bees and not so secret life of Ripley - July 's bounty

Gardening comes easily for me - having an English father who was ahead of his time with his ability to grow just about anything - and had a huge  English cottage garden long before they came to be known by that name - taught me a tiny bit about gardening I suppose - not that I was interested but I learned by osmosis.

I have a large perennial garden which has been neglected with the heat of these past weeks I cannot get past the heat or the bees to get in it to ferociously weed it.

So it was this evening as I surveyed the damages and plotted to clean it up I spotted two bees asleep in the flowers. Who knew they sleep in flowers? Didn't common knowledge tell us they go back to the safety of the hive at night? Apparently they did not get the memo...

I think if they caught too far from the hive as evening approaches they hunker down and stay put.

A baby and a full grown bee were side by side waiting it out - little survivors I guess - outwitting mother nature.

In the background of course is Ripley  - whose battery for his electric fence has died (thank the stars one arrives in the mail tomorrow). I have been watching him like a hawk. He is intent on a reign of destruction and I am intent on having it NOT happen.

So another day closes and with it the garden goes to sleep - (I will dream about weeds growing in my sleep).

Pink cone flowers
perennial sunflowers

Paris the silkie hen - she cannot see a thing!

shasta daisies purple cone flowers


Brown eyed susan

evening glow in the barn