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Life as a Scot in California

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Archive for the ‘Disability’ Category


Posted by berkeleyscot on March 5, 2008

I wanted/needed summer shoes and sandals, but my search for them was getting akin to finding the Holy Grail.

I was close to getting coconut shells and clopping my way through woods and fields to help in my quest, and I thought I had a better chance of finding a nice shrubbery than footwear.

Stiletto heels are back in fashion as are the contrasting flat shoes and all are designed for young women with narrow feet and who have no concern for their feet or their backs.

Yet, I had a good experience in the Berkeley ‘Walk Shop’, the other day. I asked to have my feet measured, described my shorter right leg, with no ankle bending problem, and the salesman and I worked together to get me shod. This is what I chose; the style is R1702-51. They fitted and I think I’ll limp comfortably in them. They’re pretty!

As we say in Buckie, ‘Better tae be oot the qweets, than oot the fashion!’ (‘Better to twist your ankle than be out of fashion!’)

Bit it’s nae me that ye’ll see on thon stilettos!


Posted in Berkeley, Buckie, Disability, Living | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Jury Duty

Posted by berkeleyscot on March 4, 2008

I’ve received a summons to appear at the Superior Court of California in Oakland on March 13.

This is problematic. The main problem is my getting to the courthouse. Richard will be in Washington, DC on that date and I’ve got get myself to the courthouse.

I called the courthouse and explained that I do not drive, don’t live near a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station and have problems with the buses. I blogged about the local buses in October last year.

The court clerk didn’t know how to help with my transportation requirements. Surely EVERYONE drives!

She consulted her ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) manual. Am I blind? If I am, she could supply the court proceedings in Braille. Am I deaf? If I am, she could give a hearing loop.  At least, I think that’s what she said, if I heard her correctly.

Then she was completely flummoxed when I explained that I have the use of only one hand and that I might need assistance with attaching the juror badge, should I be required to attend the court. That wasn’t mentioned in the manual and did that mean that I don’t wear jewelry?

I’d need to get a note from my doctor, she said.

I’ve never consulted a doctor, in all the years I’ve lived in USA, for cerebral palsy. I stopped my six monthly visits with a consultant in Scotland when I was 15.  I thought I was wasting my time, because I knew there was no cure for CP. I chose to ‘get on with it’ and ignore cerebral palsy.

This has always been easier said than done, and my close friends and my husband have patiently borne the brunt of my frustrations.

I am very interested in the discussions of the models of disability; medical model versus social model.

I am not ill.

I just don’t want to depend on the kindness of strangers to pin my juror’s badge and I don’t want a doctor’s note to say I can’t.

Posted in Disability, Living | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Dining Etiquette

Posted by berkeleyscot on January 14, 2008

I found this article, entitled “Pupils learn which cutlery to use,” on the BBC News website. It brought back unpleasant memories and feelings of failure and inadequacy for me. But it’s not about me, because I doubt I’ll ever be in an interview/dining test situation. It seems a step backwards and excludes those who, physically, cannot meet the standards.

I actually do KNOW how to use a forknknife, but I’m physically unable to do so. This does not make me ill mannered or badly brought up.

I used to dread professional dining situations, because, if these standards of etiquette were to be rigorously applied, I was done for. None of the rules applied to me and exceptions to the rules were never mentioned. But I was often in professional dining situations and I just had to make up my own rules and ignore being ‘judged,’ by those who were forknknife sticklers. I would ask that the kitchen staff cut up my food before bringing it to me and that all utensils I wouldn’t be using be removed, so that I wasn’t cluttered.

I don’t know why so much emphasis is put on the test of dining etiquette. A hearty appetite and the curiosity to experiment with unfamiliar cuisines are surely more cheerful, as long you don’t hold a conversation with your mouth full.

Last week I had lunch with a dear friend at a Thai restaurant and she saw that I was having difficulty cutting my fishcakes. I was happy to accept her offer to help and we enjoyed our meal with no more fuss.

Don’t judge me on ‘how’ I eat, but on how heartily and gratefully I clean my plate – with a wee bit of help.

As for the waltz, I’ll leave that to the Beatles’ “Henry the Horse.”

Bon Appetit! 

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Are you ready for Christmas?

Posted by berkeleyscot on December 16, 2007

Does anyone find that that question only adds to the stresses of the Season?

I really don’t know what the question means, but I’m guessing I’m being asked if I’ve bought all my gifts, wrapped them, written and sent cards and letters.

But my Christmas is international and I prepare my Christmas cards to send to Scotland months in advance.

Christmas cards from Scotland start arriving at Halloween. This is because the older folk believe that all mail going abroad is sent by sea. It’s really sweet. But now all mail is sent by air and there are no special sea rates.

I believe I’ve sent all my international cards and am processing the inland ones. But the postage rate was increased by 2 cents this year and I’ve got lots of the old rate stamps. I can’t bear to queue in the Post Office for 2 cents stamps. My local branch does not provide seating. (Note to self: Contact the Post Office about seating.)

I’ve sent for 2 cents stamps. They probably won’t arrive till the New Year. So that’s my excuse, but apart from that, I’m ready for Christmas all year round.

Posted in Disability, Living, US Holidays | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

A Manicure and Pedicure Experience with Cerebral Palsy

Posted by berkeleyscot on November 3, 2007

Richard says I never relax and that I don’t know how to. He’s right.
I cannot sit and do nothing. Maybe it’s because I get stiff if I sit for a while, or maybe I grew up hearing, “The Devil finds work for idle hands to do.” I have never watched television or listened to music for the sake of it.
I watch television in the kitchen when I’m working there. Background music plays on the stereo in the living room. I hear it wherever I am in the house, but it’s simply ‘on.’
But recently, once a month, I’ve been relaxing for an hour or more, at Azul Spa and I love it!
I’ve been an intermittent client since it first opened over five years ago, but now I look forward to my monthly manicure and pedicure.
I‘m not a straightforward client for these procedures, but I’m grateful that I’m not treated in a way that makes me feel like that.
I dislike exposing my cerebral palsy self to people but the staff at Azul have always taken me in stride.
P, the manicurist who does my procedure is a joy.
She is aware of my particular needs and plans for them with no fuss.
The regular pedicure chair is too low for me but P has the manicure chair ready for me. My right leg is shorter than my left and my ankle doesn’t bend, but P cheerfully gets round that my getting on her knees to paint my toenails.
When I’m pedicured and painted, we move to the manicure table. P pushes me there in the chair. She doesn’t want me to spoil my freshly painted toes.
Step one is to soak my fingers in soapy water. This is no problem for the left hand, but P risks a soaking when she puts my right hand in the bowl. My right thrashes around, like a fish at the end of a rod, splashing water over me, the table and patient P.
At one time, I’d have been too embarrassed by this to ever have a manicure, but I’ve outgrown that and besides, I enjoy the pampering, even it gets a wee bit messy. It has helped me to stop biting my nails.
I don’t have my fingernails painted. My right hand bangs and crashes too much and chipped finger nail polish is too gross!
At the end of the session, P puts my sandals on and fastens them for me.
This lady has the right knack for helping me relax.
But I’m still keeping the Devil at bay by keeping my hands busy and there are pots and pans waiting to be washed!

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