On a Roll with Katie and Disablity Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month and USA Today appropriately had an article called “10 inspiring self-help books about illness and disability.” It’s impossible for people without difficult, chronic health issues to understand what it’s like to live with one or more of these issues daily. Most of us feel disabled just to have a bad headache for a day. And while it is not necessary to fully understand what others struggle through, complete ignorance and lack of empathy does not help us be decent people considerate of others or help us be accommodating at work or play.

Not everyone with disabilities has a conspicuous physical problem. People dealing with chronic, disabling illness or episodes of being dis-abled often appear completely healthy because they are having (or pretending to have) a good day. During times when COVID is rampant, “freedom-loving” people who tell others to just stay home appear to be completely ignorant of the great many people out there who are not perfectly healthy and abled, or are caregivers, and also need to go to work and do other normal out-of-home behaviors to survive.

Especially if you know someone dealing with chronic pain or mobility problems and/or want to create an accommodating environment for public space, workplace, or even a friendly visit to your home, you may want to read a memoir about the daily issues faced. One of these memoirs is “On a Roll: How It Feels to Be On Wheels” by Katie Rodriguez Banister, who became a quadriplegic at age 25.

Katie Rodriguez Banister is a local friend, an author, a woman of many talents. She is an educator on disability awareness who speaks to school audiences, advises businesses and public entities, and empowers others coping with daily struggles. She is a huge inspiration to all who know her. Her On a Roll memoir candidly tells about the impact of the tragic accident and how she survived mentally then and every day since. Reading it put my own annoying health issues in perspective and I saw the real Katie’s struggles and frustrations beneath her cheerful demeanor and feisty personality evident throughout the book. No sob story, rather an awareness story. Katie is an impressive fighter and her wisdom on how to live through tough times is a light for all.

Learn about Katie through her website, Access-4-All. On a Roll, and Katie’s children’s and poetry books, can be found on Amazon.

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Organizing all those old photos

I’ve finally finished digitizing all the good photos I took during our year living in the UK, back before digital cameras existed. That means I took hi-resolution photos of the print photos using my cell phone. I put the images in order by timeframe, by assigning them numbers and sometimes tacking on letters to indicate a batch that should stay together, like for a batch taken at one place. I added very short descriptions and dates. 020A Oxford Mar 19, 020B Oxford market, 020C St. Marys Oxford, 021 Hampton Court Mar 27, etc. Then I made a Word doc with a short paragraph of explanation of why we were in the UK, where we lived, common places visited (parks). Following, I listed the photo numbers with a little more explanation. THEN, I typed a ten-page mini-memoir. How did I do this now for way back in the year 1994?!

My memory is not that great. I had help from the first calendar planner I ever kept. Yes, the print kind because cell phones weren’t invented yet. (But I still use paper hanging calendars and paper planners.) Thank goodness I decided to keep a planner while we were in the UK. The photos brought back wonderful memories, but the planner functioned as a kind of journal, with brief entries telling daily life details, where we went and with whom, who was visiting. I could follow the route we took through Wales and with the help of Google Maps I found the name of the trail that led to a rocky beach. I found the date my friend and I went to see Maya Angelou and got our books signed. I learned the name of the village we went to one night to see Guy Fawkes burn on a huge bonfire after being carted down cobblestoned streets, accompanied by torch-bearing townsfolks—positively medieval!

I have a box full of these planners and I want to go through them to remember special times, who visited, where we went. I did save the film negatives of our UK year and put them back in their box, one of two filled with negatives and photos that did not make it into albums. I was shocked at how many film envelopes per year I had. Who takes that many pictures?! Me, that’s who.

Dolbadarn Castle ruins in Wales
Guy Fawkes’ straw head at the top aflame
Oh my gosh!
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Home Improvements, More Downsizing Memories

I’m pretty much done painting everything I see in the house, but I’m not going to rest yet. We had an unpleasant shock when finally trying to replace the old, kid-stained carpet upstairs—asbestos flooring underneath. Why put flooring up there that looks like it belongs in the kitchen? Guess the same people who thought pink tiles on bathroom walls and floors was stylin’. Yes, I had the tiny pink bathroom floor tiles, at least, replaced with larger tiles of a soothing color, and what a relief to behold. This is what happens when you have a 1940s home.

We had to remove everything off the second floor so the “demolition crew” could do their thing. Then we had laminate flooring and all new baseboards put in. And then the monster cleanup of fine sawdust even on the ceilings. And then the painting began. The new baseboards needed semi-gloss and while I was at it, I painted doors and door and window frames. I also painted walls, a ceiling, and even old furniture. Sure looks fresh and clean around here! You’d think I’d be done with projects, but no.

While moving everything back upstairs from the packed basement, I tried to downsize some more. Threw out a lot, have a garbage bag full for the thrift store. I could not believe how many old photos we had—three boxes and a shoebox! These are besides the ones in my photo albums. So my next project is going through all those and taking clear photos of the ones I want to save in computer files. Amazing how years later many photos are not important anymore, especially when you can just search online to see scenery of places you’ve visited. I’m just saving my favorites and more meaningful ones, particularly the best photos of my family (it’s so fun to remember how adorable my kids were when little!). And I’m going to either label the photos or make an explanatory Word doc to go with certain sets, like the year we lived in the UK.

So this is what I’ve been doing the past three months. I suppose we are near being ready to sell the house in this hot market and move to a smaller place with less yard. A ranch house with walk-in shower, important for people like us starting to feel old and decrepit. Except now that we’ve fixed up the place and it’s looking tidy, I want to stick around and enjoy it!

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