Talk Like a Pirate Day (or Holidays In A Virtual World)

I saw the box in the picture below while at Walmart today.   It made me chuckle because today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Seeing this pirate themed box on a pallet at Walmart on Talk Like A Pirate Day made me chuckle.
Seeing this pirate themed box on a pallet at Walmart on Talk Like A Pirate Day made me chuckle.

This is also another day for me to be very glad for Second Life, as it is the place where I celebrate most holidays (when I do) whether they be ones that someone has made up for fun like today or well established national or international days.  

I have been unable to drive since 2002 for neurological reasons, so I live a fairly quiet life.    Either Jamey or the local transport van takes me to my medical appointments and Jamey takes me out shopping as needed.   Other than that, I don’t go further than I can safely walk.   

Thus Second Life fills a very important role for me and for many like me who have real life disabilities.    It is not only the place where Jamey and I met in 2007, it is a place where real life concerns — such as the need for a wheelchair accessible apartment — become moot.   (Other than, of course, a wheelchair accessible computer area for Jamey to access Second Life and we have a large computer / electronics work station set up that he can easily wheel into and manuever around in.)

There is always a wide aisle open in Jamey's wheelchair accessible workstation so that he can easily access all parts of it.
There is always a wide aisle open in Jamey’s wheelchair accessible workstation so that he can easily access all parts of it.

It is where we can make friends from all around the world, who we can do anything we mutually agree on with from attending themed events (such as Talk Like a Pirate Day) to Jamey’s favorite thing to do – hang out with like minded folks around the world in discussion groups on various science in general and outer space in particular topics.

Unless I have an injury that makes it difficult for me to use the computer, I also like to decorate for the winter holidays on Second Life each year.   I can do far more with decorating in world than I can in real life as in Second Life I don’t have to be concerned about

  1. injuring myself as I decorate
  2. the cats harming themselves by eating the decorations.  (Yes, we do have pets in Second Life too.)

So today, Talk Like a Pirate Day, I am yet again grateful for the many types of freedom, the wide range of outlets that Second Life provides, especially for those of  us who have limitations on what we can do in real life.  In Second Life, we are almost limitless.

 

If you would like to read our (almost) daily gratitude posts, please see the follow us options on the left side of the post.  If you are using a mobile device, please click the three lines at the top right to see the options for following us.   Thank you very much.

 

Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom

Today we are grateful for the plumber.   The bathroom is not usually the most talked about room in the house but when your only wheelchair accessible bathroom toilet is having an issue, you realize quickly just what an important room it is.

For the past few days, Jamey has had to bring his wheelchair to the door of our other bathroom and then use his crutches to actually get into and maneuver in the bathroom.  That is both difficult and dangerous for him as it increases his risk of a fall.

Thankfully, the plumber was here this morning and Jamey’s wheelchair accessible bathroom is now fully functional once more.   (The cats did go into the bathroom to check it out after the plumber left but I didn’t get the shot, so this is just a plain vanilla picture of part of the bathroom showing the safety grab bars by the toilet.   The tub/shower also has extra grab bars and a wheelchair transfer bench.)

What makes this a wheelchair accessible bathroom is the wider door, room to maneuver the wheelchair, extra grab bars by the toilet and in the tub, and open area under the sink so a wheelchair can pull right up to it.
What makes this a wheelchair accessible bathroom is the wider door, room to maneuver the wheelchair, extra grab bars by the toilet and in the tub, and open area under the sink so a wheelchair can pull right up to it.

Once again, we owe a thank you to Kuni for making this happen in a timely manner.

If you would like to read our (almost) daily gratitude posts, please see the follow us options on the left side of the post.  If you are using a mobile device, please click the three lines at the top right to see the options for following us.   Thank you very much.

 

Repurposed Items

Today I am feeling particularly grateful for repurposed items. Here are three examples:

(1) I started thinking about them this morning while feeding the cats their daily treat.     When they both hop up on my cot in the morning, I know they are ready for it.   Thus I keep a plastic container on one of my nightstands with their Temptation treats. Originally it was purchased for storing muffins in (and worked great for that) but once Jamey became wheelchair bound and thus no longer able to be as active in order to burn calories, I stopped making baked goods.  It works perfectly as a repurposed treat container.

Formerly a home baked goods container (usually muffins) repurposed for cat treats storage
Formerly a home baked goods container (usually muffins) repurposed for cat treats storage

 

(2) An additional reason to stop baking was that my own weight had gotten out of control.  I am determined to get back to a healthier weight for my size (4’6″) to which end, I purchased a basic watch/pedometer from Walmart and began to look for options for an .mp3 player to encourage me to walk more.

As I researched the best .mp3 players for audiobooks, I came across the suggestion of using an old cell phone.    Jamey had taken my old cell phone to the library to use to test hot spots for patrons.   He said he could use his current one for that purpose and brought my old one back to me.   With no other apps on it other than Overdrive and Amazon music (plus the built in ones you can’t delete), it has plenty of room (unlike my current cell phone) for an audiobook and some music to accompany me on my walks. It works perfectly as a repurposed .mp3 player.

my old cell phone repurposed to an .mp3 player for audiobooks and music
my old cell phone repurposed to an .mp3 player for audiobooks and music

 

(3) Once upon a time I had a nine hole credenza that worked very nicely for storing my yarns (sorted by color family).  Then Johnny came into our lives.  When she was very young, she was oblivious to my yarn.    I was thanking my lucky stars for that until she reached about 7 – 8 months of age.   Once she “discovered” my yarn, she made it very clearly known that henceforth all yarn was to be considered a kitty toy.   

My yarn ended up getting packed away until our move.  It now resides in our pantry / supply room / craft room and the 9 hole credenza  has become part of Jamey’s wheelchair accessible computer / electronics area.     It works perfectly as a repurposed storage area for some of Jamey’s electronics and tools.

One component of Jamey's wheelchair accessible electronics/computer area.
One component of Jamey’s wheelchair accessible electronics/computer area.

 

How about you?   Have you repurposed something that works perfectly for its new function?

 

 

 

 

a sense of accomplishment

Today we are grateful for a sense of accomplishment. We managed to get through a task that has been on our to do list for quite some time now.

 

Our project

We had a large plastic bin full of assorted electronics items. I had tossed all sorts of electronic related odds and ends “of the I don’t know what this is, but it might be needed someday” variety into it. I knew it needed to be sorted out but it never seemed to be the right time.

 

Of course, the cats snoopervised as we worked

Today turned out to be the perfect day for it as Jamey was home because of the Labor Day holiday. I pulled out the bin (under the watchful eye of both cats) and handed all the electronic bits and bobs and gadgets and gizmos to Jamey to pass judgement on. He seemed quite happy with what he found. Having those components upfront with him in his wheelchair accessible computer / electronics area now means they have a much better chance of actually being used than they had stored away in a hard for him to access plastic bin under a table in the corner of the pantry / supply room.

 

One component of Jamey's wheelchair accessible electronics/computer area storage.
One component of Jamey’s wheelchair accessible electronics/computer area storage.

 

There were even a few items that I recognized and can use myself. Most of it, however, fell firmly into Jamey’s territory so I’ll leave it to him to highlight some of the goodies in the next paragraph. He found so much that he said would be useful for him that at the end of the sorting, I wished him a “Merry Christmas” as it felt as if he had just opened a bunch of presents.

 

Jamey's turn to write

A lot of what was found was not of the especially surprising or needful right now variety, but at some point in the future, could easily become real handy. Items included a pair of speakers powered by the headphone jack, which aren’t very loud, but work fairly nicely on my desktop computer so that I can listen to things and still hear Doreen, a couple of USB sound cards, various little audio cable stuff – a Y cord, an extension cord, the like – and some multi-voltage universal power supply devices. A DVI/VGA adapter showed up, some USB extension cables, and a couple of LiON batteries I need to check to find out what they fit. Oh, and USB/PS2 keyboard and mouse adapters – those might come in really handy! All in all, just a collection of YNK – You Never Know stuff.

 

Johnny makes sure we know what is really important

I think the one who was happiest of all for us to finish was Johnny as I store out of season clothing in plastic on top of the storage bins.  She thinks that makes a perfect place for a cat to settle in for a nap and promptly reclaimed “her” spot as soon as I had put things back into place.   After all, it was hard work watching us sort through everything to make sure we did it properly.

 

Johnny perched atop "her" storage bins
Johnny perched atop “her” storage bins

 

Have you gotten through a long time to do list  project that you are particularly happy about?

 

Automation

(Note: we are not affiliated with Google, Evernote or IFTTT and are not compensated by them in any way.   These are just simply services that I am grateful for as they help keep me from forgetting what I need to do each day.)

Mornings like this when my Google calendar notifications are telling me that both our cell phone and internet bills need to be paid, I am especially grateful for autopay from our bank as I know they will be paid without my doing a thing.   With the few exceptions of ones like electricity and water where the amount differs each month, we have almost all of our bills set to be paid automatically.   That helps a lot.

 

From automatic bill pay to appointment reminders, grocery check lists and so much more, automation helps us keep on top of things.
From automatic bill pay to appointment reminders, grocery check lists and so much more, automation helps us keep on top of things.

 

Google Calendar

Google calendar is a big help for automating things like doctor visit reminders or upcoming events.   When Jamey or I come home from an appointment, I go to Google calendar and put in the date of our next appointment and make sure it is on both of our calendars.   I use the notification feature to set up advance reminders for the appointments.   They come in on all of my electronic devices to make sure that the appointments or events don’t take us by surprise.  

 

Evernote

I would be lost without Evernote.   I have had a premium account since 2012 which gives me many benefits including allowing me to access it on as many devices as I chose. Evernote is my backup brain helping me keep track of both what I need to get done and what I have already done.

It is useful for far too many things to list but one of the features we use regularly is checklists.    I put our grocery list into an Evernote checklist that we can bring up on our mobile phones.   When we are at the store, whoever is monitoring our list for the shopping trip (usually Jamey) can just check off the items as we put them in our cart.   This lets us quickly see what we still have left to pick up.

The checklists also allowed me to keep track of things during our recent move to a wheelchair accessible apartment.

 

IFTTT

Another thing that is very important in helping to keep me organized is IFTTT  (which stand for “If this, then that”).  I use the applets to do everything from automatically set up my Daily Journal in Evernote to sending Google calendar notifications to my Evernote to working with Amazon’s Alexa to send lists to Evernote.

The list of services that IFTTT works with is growing steadily.   It is free to use and very reliable.    I have used it for several years and definitely recommend it.

 

Memory Deficits

Since “the old gray [matter] ain’t what it used to be many long years ago” (sung to the tune of “The Old Gray Mare”), I am very grateful for these and many other things that help to keep me functional.

 

How about you?

What are some of the things you use to help you keep track of things?  Do you prefer automation or pen/pencil and paper?

 

 

Handicapped Parking

Today I am grateful that Jamey has handicapped parking.   His parking spot at our wheelchair accessible apartment  

  • allows plenty of room to get his wheelchair in and out of our car without any worries that it might hit the car in the next spot and 
  • a ramp to allow him to get from the car to the apartment and vice versa on his own

 

Jamey's handicap parking spot at our apartment
Jamey’s handicap parking spot at our apartment makes life much easier

 

Another way that Jamey’s handicap parking comes in useful is at Walmart.   It is much easier for Jamey to ride one of the Walmart carts then push his wheelchair all over inside of the store.

When we get to Walmart, I go into the store to find a cart and then bring it out to the car for him.  If he did not have handicap parking, he would not be able to park close to the store in a spot that is wide enough for me to easily drive the cart right up to the front door of the car for him.

At our previous apartment, I had to take his chair on a very circular route including over a large area of grass in order to avoid the stairs.   That memory is still fresh for me.  Thus I am very appreciative of the ease of getting Jamey in and out now.

So today I am grateful for everyone who helped us get handicap parking for Jamey.

 

 

 

Silver Linings

One of the things that keeps me going is that I have trained myself for decades to remember “there is always a silver lining.”

After not having slept well (for medical reasons) for the past three nights, I really did not want to get up at 5:45 AM this morning to take care of Jamey and the cats.  Thankfully, my “silver lining” habit kicked into gear and I said to Jamey “There is always a silver lining.  At least there are only two mornings of the week that you have to be at work at 8 AM.”   At which point, I began to think about  how happy I am that Jamey has a job that he enjoys.

That train of thought led me into my morning gratitude practice as I grabbed the broom to clean up the kitty litter the cats had tracked through the apartment overnight.  (That has to be done first so that Jamey can move around freely in his wheelchair without grinding the litter into the floor.)

When I went into the living room to grab the broom and dustpan, Johnny ran happily ahead of me to her Ripple Rug letting me know she was ready for playtime.   I didn’t have the energy for play until I thought about how wonderful it is that Johnny is healthy enough at this time in her life to want to and be able to play.   

I played with her for a few minutes and then returned to sweeping.   It turned out that Night was also in a playful mood this morning.   That really helped to lift my own mood as Night has been showing some signs of deterioration, so to see both of cats acting like happy, healthy, energetic cats was an instant boost for me.

Both of our cats had a very rough start in life.   When I first met Night she was a half starved, terrified feral cat.  Johnny was born to a Feline Leukemia positive feral mother and came very close to dying in the first month of her life.   Both of our cats are also Feline Leukemia positive which will cut their lives significantly short so we are doing are best to give them as happy of a life as we can.

We use the wheelchair accessible bathtub for our showers which leaves the standard tub as a playground for the cats.
We use the wheelchair accessible bathtub for our showers which leaves the standard tub as a playground for the cats.

So today I am grateful for

  • the years that I spent teaching myself to look for the silver lining so that it kicks in automatically for me now whenever I need it
  • two playful cats
  • our wheelchair accessible apartment that includes a “safe” bathtub with a shower seat and lots of grab bars for the humans and a plain tub for the cats to play in as the mood strikes them
  • a kitchen in which to cook food and a refrigerator with food in it (which was the gratitude I used to kick start myself enough to make breakfast for Jamey this morning)

 

How do you get yourself going on mornings when you really don’t want to get out of bed?

 

Our Snoopervisor Cats

Our two Snoopervisor cats watching me sweep
“Snoopervisors” Night and Johnny watching closely while I sweep

The gratitude in today’s post goes to those who also blog about cats.

I love to learn new words and sometimes I find one that really tickles my fancy.  I recently read an article titled Famous and Fabulous Library Cats where I learned about Tober, who prior to his passing in 2015, was the much loved library cat at Thorntown Public Library in Thorntown, Indiana.  He even had his own blog (which has since been taken over by Chance, library cat in training).   Tober’s duties included “guard and snoopervisor.”   As soon as I read that, I knew I needed to do a blog post about our own two snoopervisors.

Our cat Johnny watching from a high perch as I sweep
Snoopervisor cat Johnny looks down on me as I sweep to make sure I am not missing any spots.

Jamey often hears me ask them “what am I – the Pied Piper?” as at least one, and often both, tend to follow me from room to room as I do my chores.  It is rare for me to be able to sweep the floor, wash dishes, do laundry, etc. without at least one of them within a few feet of me, keeping a close eye on the proceedings.   It is not uncommon for one or both to position themselves in such a way that they can try to keep an eye on what both Jamey and I are doing when Jamey is home from work.  After all, a good snoopervisor takes pride in knowing what both of her humans are up to at all times.   

our black cat, Night, looking out the window
Night carefully monitors traffic outside to make sure that I won’t be disturbed while I sweep.

The first picture shows both of them watching carefully as I sweep up their tracked cat litter.*   In the second picture Johnny, who loves high perches, looks down at me as I sweep while Night (as shown in the final picture) guards against any dangers that might come in from outside to disturb me while I am sweeping.

*Note:  We have tried multiple things to keep the cats from tracking litter over the wood floors in our new apartment.   In order to make the apartment more wheelchair accessible, we asked to have wood rather than rugs in as much of it as possible so that it is easier for Jamey to travel throughout the apartment.   The problem is that the wheelchair rolling over tracked litter grinds it into the wood floor, necessitating the above mentioned need to sweep before anything else each morning (and usually several other times during the day). I plan to add the Woopet jumbo cat litter mat recommended by Jenny Dean from the  Floppycats blog to our growing collection of litter mats in the near future. 

If you have found a solution to reduce tracked cat litter that works particularly well for you, please leave us a comment below as I would love to start the day without having to sweep up scattered litter before anything else.  Thank you.

being able to reach the mailbox

Mailboxes at our apartment complex
Hurrah! The mailbox for our new wheelchair accessible apartment is low enough to be reached while in a wheelchair!

Our new wheelchair accessible apartment is better in many ways for Jamey and me.   One of those is that our new mailbox is on a lower level.   With our previous mailbox, I had to literally rise up on my tiptoes while reaching my hand up over my head to try to feel around inside of it to make sure I was not leaving any mail behind. 

Our new mailbox is low enough that I can actually see inside of it. It is also low enough that if I am incapacitated from an injury, which does happen from time to time due to my osteogenesis imperfecta,* Jamey can go over to the mailbox in his wheelchair and easily reach the mail himself.

Thus today’s “we are grateful for” goes to having a mailbox low enough that we can both easily see and reach into it.

*Due to my osteogenesis imperfecta, my spinal column is collapsing.   Last time Jamey measured my height it showed that I am down to 4 feet, 6 inches tall.    Thus I am very grateful for not only the lower level mailbox, but the fact that being wheelchair accessible means that everything from the bathroom mirrors to the kitchen cabinets are at a lower level in our new apartment.  This move has improved life for both of us.

our mini laundry room

Our apartment sized laundry room
Our apartment sized laundry room

Our laundry room is one of the things in our apartment that I am personally most grateful for as when we first moved into our previous apartment, we had to carry our laundry to the apartment complex laundry room.   This was before Jamey was in a wheelchair and he carried the bulk of it.    Since that is no longer an option, I would have to carry it all myself and that would be very difficult for me given how much laundry I do each week and the condition of my back and hip.

We have the laundry area set up so that

(1) there is a large enough open area between the drying rack and the washer and dryer that Jamey can easily reach it.   Having this area wheelchair accessible came in very handy last week when I needed Jamey to look at the washing machine to figure out why it had suddenly stopped working.     (Thankfully, it was a very simple fix.)

(2) The cats can sit on their cat tree as they supervise the process while I do the laundry.

Both cats using Jamey's wheelchair as a bed
Our cats using Jamey’s wheelchair as one of their beds (picture taken at 4 AM).

While both of our cats take over our beds on a regular basis, I have also created cat beds for them in various places by adding towels for cushioning on the places they prefer to lay.    I wash their bedding at least once a week, more often when needed.   Between humans and cats, I usually do laundry 6 days a week which is why I am so grateful for our in apartment mini laundry.

I would also like to add an extra “Thank You” at this point to Peter for all of his attention to detail in setting up our laundry room, not only making sure we had the right hoses but even tying the dryer in place so that it does not vibrate as much.