Clifford Rocks the Charlotte Library

Clifford played host to some 60 little kids this morning in Charlotte Community Library. Director Sally L. Seifert, the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian, had seen to it that the place was set up to my specifications: Plenty of room for Clifford to move around, a big table for him to paint on, and a strip of masking tape along the floor as a visual boundary, for the kids to keep their toes back.

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He walked around and did his usual meet-and-greet, singling out a few particular kids with extra attention, maybe blowing in their hair or doing his fake side-swipe nipping motion. He was greeted with screams and laughter.

This crowd was pretty young; most of the kids were under ten years old. We talked about animals and what they like to eat. Clifford answered a lot of questions about his thoughts on the matter. “Do you want a peppermint? Do you want it now, or wait til we get home?”

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He performed some tricks and then painted pictures and signed some copies of his biography, Clifford of Drummond Island.

We finished the program with the usual: A long lineup of posed photos!

This may have been the first time many of the kids had an opportunity to handle a full-sized horse, all by themselves.

We hope to spread the message that animals are sentient beings with likes and dislikes and thoughts of their own, especially about when they should have a snack!

Big THANK YOU to Charlotte Library for having us!

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Alternative Facts — The Guardianship Takeover

There is a rumor floating around that I am trying to “take over” Amanda’s guardianship.

One of the biggest problems within this family is the constant spreading of “alternative facts.”

However, you need to get your information straight. It’s not really that complicated. I am sure if you concentrate, you will begin to comprehend the difference.

I have never applied for guardianship.

I have petitioned the court, 3 times now, to AMEND the current guardianship to give Amanda more control over her life.

You have labeled yourselves as “victims.”

You are not “victims.” You are all able-bodied adults.

The only “victim” here is Amanda. She is being victimized by the system, and by her current guardian.

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My goal was to change Amanda’s guardianship situation to one of “supported decision-making.”

This would enable Amanda to call and visit her family members without being used as a pawn in someone else’s agenda. That’s right, people! I said, “family members.” Not just me. That means that you too could benefit from this amendment! She would be free to maintain her own relationships, as she has done for 43 years. There is no reason for her to be censored, monitored, shadowed and harassed.

This would also mean that she could call someone for help or to come and pick her up, should she, say, get stuck with some sibling who is behaving badly.

Furthermore, whether her case moves to Arizona or not doesn’t make any difference. Amanda is still entitled to basic human rights no matter where she lives. She may actually be treated better in Arizona courts than she was here. For that, I would be grateful. For the record, I did not object to this transfer when I was asked about it on May 2.

In my petitions I have asked to have the ALTERNATE guardian removed and replaced by myself, which was Amanda’s wish. This is due to past abuse of Amanda by the alternate guardian, which includes but is not limited to threatening her with a foster home, disabling her TV, threatening her physically, yelling, isolating her, involving the police and forcing them to interview her about a day she went to the movies with me, commandeering her finances, and other crazy, dangerous and frightening behaviors.

I have not attempted to replace or remove the PLENARY guardian. (Plenary is a big word, but it means “numero uno” or “primary” guardian.)

This is despite a whole host of issues including, but not limited to, cutting Amanda off and not allowing her to contact her family members for a period of nine months, or visit them on extended trips, despite the fact that she wanted to go and she was welcome.

It saddens me that the plenary guardian has gotten sucked into these same techniques employed by his siblings. But I cannot reverse his descent into that realm. Therefore, as he suggested, my only other option has been to petition the courts.

Remember that when you go low, Amanda and I go high. Our award-winning book, “The North Side of Down” is a pretty good example of what happens when facts need to be clarified. There is documentation to back our facts. Documentation is another big word. It means “written proof.”

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My petitions have been denied all three times, each without the court ever allowing Amanda one word of opinion on the matter.

I just want to clarify this again. If you look at the court documents you can see for yourself how the forms are filled out. You should have been mailed your own copy. (An X or check mark in a box indicates what the petition is about.)

I want it to go on record that, while I do not approve of the way Amanda is being treated, I have NOT EVER filed for guardianship of Amanda.

Yet.

Thanks so much for your fervent concern over the welfare of our sister, Amanda, and me.

I am grateful for the sudden interest in her — since before the death of her parents, she wasn’t the topic of much focus and had plenty of free time to hang out with me. No conflicts then!

Oh, and I am sure you are merely overlooking everything I have done for every one of you. This includes lending you money, shelter, food, clothing, moral support, expensive gifts, and not to mention the years of care and effort I put into my mom and dad and Amanda. But this is probably just an oversight on your part, and the spirit of gratitude actually prevails.

So, you’re welcome.

In the meantime, if you get any more court documents, you should probably look em over and see what boxes are checked before jumping to conclusions. If you can’t understand the documents, might want to run them past the county clerk — or even a grocery store clerk, or maybe even a homeless person on a corner somewhere — and have them explain it to you.

Take care.

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

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Down Syndrome, Guardianship and the Justice System

Down syndrome, formerly called “Mongolian Idiocy” was named for a physician who described the condition in the 1860’s, Dr. John Langdon Down.

He wrote:

The Mongolian type of idiocy occurs in more than ten per cent of the cases which are presented to me. They are always congenital idiots and never result from accidents after uterine life. They are, for the most part instances of degeneracy arising from tuberculosis in the parents. They have considerable power of imitation, even bordering on being mimics. They are humorous and a lively sense of the ridiculous often colours their mimicry. This faculty of imitation can be cultivated to a very great extent and a practical direction given to the results obtained. They are usually able to speak; the speech is thick and indistinct, but may be improved very greatly by a well directed scheme of tongue gymnastics. The co-ordinating faculty is abnormal, but not so defective that it cannot be strengthened. By systemic training, considerable manipulative power may be obtained.

It’s ironic that the guy’s name was “Down”, and perhaps unfortunate that it wasn’t something like, “John Langdon Self-Empowerment” or as Mark Leach pointed out in his 2013 article, “Dr. Awesome.”

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A person with Down syndrome is certainly the lowest priority in the justice system.

Yesterday was the second hearing allowed me in the attempt to talk to my sister, Amanda. She was being prevented from contacting me through her guardian, our (much) older brother.

For the first time in our lives, Amanda and I went nine months without being allowed to talk!

This was due to a tantrum on the part of her guardian, who was angry because I had the nerve to speak up in protest that he wouldn’t let her visit me in summer 2016 while she was in Michigan for two months.

Because a state of normalcy is just too much to ask.

“I’m the guardian, not you,” he said. “Don’t continue with your old self. Turn over a new leaf.”

After all, I am not one of the Chosen. Not a white gazillionaire with expensive toys and designer clothes and pricey vacations.  Not a rich business owner or trophy wife raising offspring to a life of privilege. Not an avid church member who can rattle off a verse including the source and number. Not a towel-snapping, booze guzzling quipster. Just a struggling artist, visiting schools with an aging horse, choosing my dogs and the woods over family gatherings. (Every time.)

As my ex husband pointed out, I am a nothing. He is an engineer.

But I am Amanda’s blood sister.

Rather than understanding how important this relationship is for Amanda, and prioritizing her needs, he decided to prove a point. After all, Amanda would be just fine without talking to me, right? She doesn’t really “need” to talk to me.

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The guardian does not have the perception to see how much suffering he is causing to the stoic individual who lives in his house; who will not, or cannot, tell him how she feels. The guardian does not see the pain, the never-ending cycle of worry he is causing to me or a host of other people in a community who loves Amanda. He merely feeds into the gleeful, self-righteous hatred ignited by a pack of rabid siblings. He is buoyed by their sickness. Hailed as their hero, he either doesn’t understand how he fails miserably in the reality of Amanda, or he simply doesn’t care.

Speaking of idiocy…

And here begins the distortion of what is plainly true, and right, and fair.

First of all, again, Amanda was not present at her own hearing. The judge did not agree to meet with her privately. This time, she wasn’t even in the state of Michigan. I do not understand how a hearing to benefit a person with a disability can be conducted in this manner.

This is the area where the justice system rules: the veiling of facts, the pretend innocence, “who, me?”  The bag of tricks used as a means to an end, rather than upholding what is reality. I believe this is known as gaslighting.

For instance, during the hearing, Amanda’s court appointed attorney asked me, “Did you give Amanda your phone number? Did you write it down for her?”

Since yes or no answers are all that is permitted,  uhm, yes. Of course.

“Did you give her your address?”

Yes.

So, the point is, if Amanda wanted to contact me, she would. And this is the person who is supposed to be ADVOCATING for her!!

This is the tapdance that will drive an honest person to the farthest reaches of frustration.

We are all advised to attempt to reach agreement with the guardian rather than go to court. And that is sound advice, because the courts will not help a person who has Down syndrome. However, when the guardian refuses to cooperate in a year’s time, then what?

This judge did note that the original order for Amanda’s guardianship included the stipulation that she be allowed to contact family “through phone and internet”. Therefore, he saw no need to amend the guardianship. However, he did not give instructions as to how one is supposed to enforce this stipulation.

I had been blocked from calling Amanda, but the guardian’s attorney told me that I could use the house phone. I asked her for the number. I called the house phone and left a voice mail. Thankfully, Amanda did call me back.

Of course, the helicopter guardian was still hovering around in the background, making sure she didn’t tell me anything they didn’t want me to know. She could not speak freely. I could hear in her voice how stressful that was for her.

And yet, by all accounts, she is just fine. And I did get to talk to her. So what am I complaining about?

And, with the skillful gaslighting technique, the guardian will turn this around and claim that talking to me is stressful for her… Anything rather than admit that he and his wife have done, and continue to do, a terrible wrong.

I am somehow supposed to be grateful for this B.S. and happy that it happened. Well, now I do know she is still alive. I know she has received at least some of my mail, and the gifts I have sent. But she has still sent me furtive messages, asking me not to give up on her.

To know anything about Amanda’s well-being, under these circumstances, is impossible.

This guardian should own up to his mistake. He should admit to wrongdoing on the part of Amanda and me. He should apologize to Amanda, to me, and in fact, everyone who truly cares about her. This will be the first step in healing. Until then, healing is not possible.

https://stopguardianabuse.org/

 

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When Your Guardian Acts Like a Creepy Stalker Dude

Amanda: Hellooooooo
Me: Holy moly where have you been?! Do you know how long it has been since I talked with you?
Amanda: I know!
Me: I mean like I was wondering if they threw you in a ditch or were looking for some other place to dump the body!
Amanda: Don’t worry. They don’t have that much insurance.

Dear Amanda,

Since we couldn’t talk freely due to your every move being monitored, I decided to write you a summary.

It’s too bad you missed the hearing. I was all dressed in a suit just like a real professional. The judge denied my petition for visitation without feeling the need to get your thoughts on the matter, but at least my hair looked good.

It was kind of you to assure me you are doing just fine. But I can hear that little edge of nervousness in your voice. That same one that used to be set off by the lunatic oldest sister who threatened to put you in a foster home. The edge telling me that spark of drama is glowing in the bottom of your life experience and any little gust of wrong words or too much excitement can set it off. As long as it is kept just the right temperature, shielded carefully from the wind, it will stay a small orange dot. A glowing warning.

What a way to live! It’s like going through a tunnel where a pack of carnival characters await, all wearing masks that resemble real people but each one has a twist, or a cavernous mouth and eyes like that Scream character. You float along on your ride in a little boat called Narcissus. It’s traveling too slowly and you just want to reach the end and go get some cotton candy. But you wait with dread for the next ghoul to jump out at you: a frizzy-haired fat cowgirl in gaudy plaid who screams at you for eating too much, or a belligerent, beer-swilling faded athlete who waves a pool stick and prods you with it. You know it’s going to be temporary, because the ride will end. But it’s nauseating all the same.

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Your court-appointed attorney tried to blame you for our 9 month long separation. I just thought you should know that he wasn’t really on your team. He was faking. He asked me if you had my phone number or my address written down somewhere. It reminded me of the advocates who claim that they will help you if you just call them.

Yeah, Amanda. Why didn’t you do your research?

The one good thing is, we know the Carnival of Narcissus wants to be taken seriously. It doesn’t want to look bad. If the Arizona court accepts your case, you will be under the jurisdiction of the Falk Bill, which means your guardian will have to prove my insanity to the court in order to prevent you from calling me.

In theory, of course. Because they have not been preventing you from calling me all along. Ever! Because even though I have been blocked from all cell phone contact, they have this land line that I could have searched on the white pages and found the number. And maybe you just didn’t feel like calling me for nine months.

Silly me.

And the judge has reviewed the court documents and tells me he understands that you are a “lively individual”, and this somehow negates the need for him to have an actual, in-person, private conversation with you.

And they say I am blogging about you too much. Private issues should be kept private.

So you and I talk on the land line and the guardian is hovering around in the background hanging on your every word and correcting things you say to me. Don’t you just want to hit him with the phone? Like that scene in High Fidelity when John Cusack loses his shit on Tim Robbins and his friend hits him with the phone and his teeth go flying across the room.

It’s a fantasy, of course.

It’s like a Close Talker or having someone brushing against you, bumbling through the invisible wall of Personal Space.

I can feel you rolling your eyes. But I like the eye roll a lot better than the voice tremor.

I don’t know how you put up with it, Amanda. But I am truly grateful that you get to escape three days a week, and go hang out at Adult Day Care where people are sane.

Love,

Your Blood Sister Nancy

Here’s the thing. And here’s a Bible verse for you.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I write these stories because there needs to be a change. You know it, and I know it. Nine months of no communication from Amanda is unprecedented and alarming.

I have been asked to, “Play nice.” To, “Play along.”

But to me, this is not a game.

You can count on me to stay honest.

Therefore,  “if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,” where Amanda is concerned, I will be elated to share that.

So far all I have seen from this group is a bunch of self-righteous self-congratulation. No one has reached out to me with a single word of kindness since this 9 months started. What I see is Amanda being used as a pawn in attempt to assert dominance and teach Amanda and me a lesson.

What do you think this is teaching us?

And here is another thing. What kind of incentive is there for friends and relatives to send Amanda anything, when there is no acknowledgment that she received it? For nine months now, every letter I have sent, every gift, once or twice a week, has gone into a void. While people do not send letters and gifts and expect to be thanked, it is still good to know the article has been received, not lost, or stolen or kept from her.  It is easy to conclude if you hear nothing about any of your mail, and you get no replies, that she is not receiving it.

Besides, not bothering to say thank you or somehow reply is extremely bad manners.

When I hear a lawyer’s explanation, or anyone’s explanation, of how my sister feels, I immediately discount it as probably false. I will only consider things that come from the horse’s mouth, and then I have to consider the circumstances.

I see no charity work in any of my siblings. I am not talking about church. I am talking about a serious gesture to make life better for someone less fortunate. Start using your energy for good instead of trying to prove some kind of misguided point.

A little humility goes a long way.

Amanda and I did just fine on our own for 43 years. We do not need messengers, monitors, interpreters or censors. We know how to talk to each other. I am telling you that things will be better if you butt out.

In other words, if you want to be thought of in a good light, if you want to be remembered as someone who did the right thing, then give me something better to blog about.

StopGuardianAbuse.org

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in abuse, amanda, disability, dispute, down syndrome, down's syndrome, empathy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Clifford’s Birthday Ride – With a Morgan Legend

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Kerry 7th Gen – Morgan Horse – Pride and Product of America

My friend Stayner Haller is something of a legend in the Morgan horse world. With his eventing gelding, LGM Challenger, he competed in 104 USEA events, including one when Chally was 27 and Stayner 73. “Chally” lived into his mid-thirties, remaining active and fit, and even still jumping before succumbing to colic in 2015.

 

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Stayner with Challenger and Clifford in 2013

 

This loss, besides being one equivalent to the loss of any beloved family member, has left Stayner temporarily without a mount…. Sort of. Not surprisingly, he has a host of friends suddenly pushing horses at him. Heck, who wouldn’t want to place a horse with someone of Stayner’s caliber?

Luckily for me, he had a hankering for a trail ride and thought we should take Clifford and the baby (Kerry 7th Gen) to Waterloo State Game Area. Not only that, he offered to ride the baby. Not only THAT, but he offered to hook up his deluxe, made-for-Morgans trailer and come and pick us up!

Kerry 7th Gen is now six years old and has only been ridden with a bit in his mouth a handful of times. Although he ran loose on Drummond Island for 4 months in 2016, he didn’t carry a rider in all that time. He knows nothing about leg yields, cues from the seat or the reins, or the cursing of an irate rider.

Okay, well maybe he knows about the cursing.

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The date Stayner chose for our ride, Saturday April 22, just happened to fall on Clifford’s 26th birthday. The horses had all been celebrating with a mud bath. I tied Clifford and his doppelganger, the baby Morgan known as Kerry 7th Gen, to the rusty trailer Wheelzebub, now flushed a hot pink with embarrassment as the sleek silver bullet of Stayner’s trailer backed down the driveway.

We spent a good twenty minutes brushing and scraping the mud off the horses as big clumps of soft winter hair floated to the ground.

 

Clifford the Birthday Boy was all too happy to walk right into Stayner’s wide, welcoming vehicle with its padded butt bar. What a switch from the rattle trap where he leans against the wall, bracing himself, probably with his eyes squeezed shut.

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After Kerry Seventh Gen, or JR as we call him for short, was reluctantly loaded with a few coaxing taps from the Leather Negotiator, we drove a good hour down to Waterloo Rec Area. The roadsides were bursting with clumps of bright yellow daffodils and sunny forsythia. Stayner knew the way to a small staging area where we unloaded the horses. JR was pretty excited to be there and thought he’d better show off a few dance steps while Stayner put the saddle on.

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What followed was the clench, when Stayner tried to put the bit in his mouth.

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Stayner finally won the tack battle. But then he spent about half of the trail ride moving in reverse. Clifford was in his element, happy to forge ahead, although he agreed to stop so I could snap a couple of photos.

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There was so much backing up that we finally decided since we had no beeper, we should just call it a day. Upon our return, Jr posed next to the trailer, showing that when all else fails, it’s important to at least look good.

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Clifford, on the other hand, had a magnificent time. I didn’t mind so much that the first trip to Waterloo involved a short ride. But before we loaded up again, in a wistful moment, I saw him look back toward the lake.

Posted in Clifford, empathy, horse, morgan | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Letter From Amanda – After 9 Months

Finally, a real letter from Amanda arrived yesterday. It was a genuine one from her, the first in a year’s time. It was mostly about Mom and Dad and how much she misses them. I understand. I feel connected to Dad all the time, but particularly at this time of year. He died in 2013 the day before Easter. I got some purple tulips at the store the other day. Tulips are Dad’s favorite flower. Purple is Amanda’s favorite color.

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Tulips have now become kind of a big deal for us. Following Dad’s funeral, Amanda and I got our brother’s new wife (she was his girlfriend then) a pot of yellow tulips and put them in the window of our motel room. We were waiting to give them to her, the next time we saw her. During that time, the petals fell off. By the time we delivered the pot of tulips all that was left were stems. But, oh well. The bulbs were still in there.

In her angular, etch-a-sketch handwriting, Amanda mourned for Mom and Dad. Why do people have to die? She still thinks of them, she says, night and day. My heart aches for her. I am wondering if the guardian is doing anything to address this, other than to try to distract her from her grief. Does he even know how to address it? There is no way he can directly relate, since he didn’t know the daily habits of home. I worry about whether he is able to comfort her, since he is preventing me from doing so.

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She goes on to say, “I wish that they were here with me for this month on my birthday.”

Amanda’s birthday was in September.

She doesn’t date her letters, so maybe I wasn’t supposed to notice that there was a 7 month delay before this was mailed.

I wonder how many other times she wrote to me, and they were never sent?

She would have written this shortly after being taken back to Arizona. She spent the summer here and we never had our “Girl’s Day Out.”

She addressed that too. She wrote, “Miss Girl’s Day Out.”

She ended with a word of encouragement. “Don’t give up. Be yourself.”

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Amanda is my sister, an adult with Down syndrome. She is being held by her guardian who has not allowed contact since I last spoke with her on July 27, 2016. I have filed a petition and the hearing is scheduled for May 2. I am asking for this guardianship to be amended, giving Amanda the freedom to contact her friends and family members.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

Posted in abuse, amanda, down syndrome, empathy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Stories for Young Readers

My parents were lovers of books. Dad especially was a voracious reader. He would often keep two or three books going on at once. Mom’s appetite for books was more perfunctory. She enjoyed stories and had a collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, which were popular back in the late sixties. She ordered a book for me, “Great Stories for Young Readers”.

My book was thick as a Bible, with a red hardcover, and probably had a jacket at one point. The long list of illustrious authors included Ian Fleming, Nathanial Hawthorne, James Thurber, Laura Ingalls-Wilder, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling. Some of the stories were from old folklore, like Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill. The color illustrations were varied and entrancing.

Like many other treasured items from my childhood, this book is long gone. But it recently occurred to me that maybe I could find it on Amazon.

My hunch paid off, and I was excited to be able to order a copy. When it arrived, the binding was broken, but it was otherwise in good shape. The look and feel of it was so familiar, and in the moment I handled it, I realized I must have read this book many times.

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One story, in particular, had stuck with me all these years. When I opened the book and flipped through the pages, it was the first one that I looked for: “A White Heron”, by Sarah Orne Jewett.

This Maine author, I have since learned, was born around 1850 and lived her whole life in New England. She never married, but developed a friendship with a married couple and when the husband died, the wife moved in with her. There is some speculation about whether Jewett was a lesbian. Who cares? The sad part is that she was paralyzed in a carriage accident, which ended her writing career. She died of stroke a few years later. She lived only into middle age.

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I opened the book to this story and when I started reading, I realized why it had so resounded with me.

A shy little girl, Sylvia, spends the summer on a farm with her aunt. She has a love for the woods and a way with animals, coaxing wild birds and squirrels to eat from her hand. She is from a large, boisterous family and has a fear of people, but she meets a young ornithologist in the woods who wins her over with his friendly nature. His knowledge of the habits of birds is like a magnet to her. He is her first crush. But he wants her to lead him to the nest of the white heron, so he can shoot it and stuff it for his collection.

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Sylvia’s face was like a pale star, if one had seen it from the ground, when the last thorny bough was past, and she stood trembling and tired but wholly triumphant, high in the tree-top. Yes, there was the sea with the dawning sun making a golden dazzle over it, and toward that glorious east flew two hawks with slow-moving pinions. How low they looked in the air from that height when one had only seen them before far up, and dark against the blue sky. Their gray feathers were as soft as moths; they seemed only a little way from the tree, and Sylvia felt as if she too could go flying away among the clouds. Westward, the woodlands and farms reached miles and miles into the distance; here and there were church steeples, and white villages, truly it was a vast and awesome world.

Reading this gorgeous prose makes me wish that parents would make their kids put video games away, and give them a book instead. Maybe the collective lack of empathy is due in part to the collective death of reading. How better to understand the insight of another, than to see the world through the pen of an eloquent writer?

I hope all parents read to their kids.

Great Stories for Young Readers is available on Amazon.com.

Posted in birds, books, empathy, wildlife | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Siblings Day Amanda – Portrait Day 28 – Star Wars!

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Meeting Harrison Ford is on Amanda’s bucket list. Beyond that, she is a tad obsessed with Star Wars. She can watch it ad nauseum. So, my gift to her this Sibling’s Day is a place in Hollywood History!

Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On April 27 it will be 9 months since I have spoken with my sister. I have done portraits daily for the past 28 days waiting for some word from her. I received an Easter card. It is unlike her normal loquacious greetings, just simply signed with her name and says, “Happy Easter.”

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This barely qualifies as communication from Amanda. However, I have to devote my time now to actual paid art (!), as well as preparing for the hearing May 2.

The hearing is going to be held in Sault Ste Marie in an attempt to modify this guardianship, and end this abusive sequestration.

This hearing is not going to be like the last one. I no longer have any reason to make nice with either of my brothers, or try to resolve any sort of friendship with them.  Anyone who treats Amanda this way does not deserve my friendship.

If Amanda is again refused a chance to speak her mind, at least meeting privately with the judge to ask for what she wants, then folks are going to be put on the stand. And I have plenty of documentation that will decry any lies. Therefore, siblings who do not wish to be thus confronted would be advised to avoid the courtroom. I do not take kindly to abuse of people with disabilities, those who commandeer their assets, or take advantage of elders. I also dislike it when people drink too much, indulge in violence, and cheat on their spouses.

Be advised that our book, The North Side of Down, begs a sequel!  This story will be told. The rule is simple: If you don’t want to go down in history as an asshole, then don’t be one.

It is time for this shameful abuse of power to end. I have endured death threats, slander, abusive contacts from ignorant relatives, and the list goes on. I am not afraid of any one of you.

Those who thought I would ever place their needs/wants ahead of Amanda’s is harboring way too high an opinion of themselves.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

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Amanda Portrait Day 27 – Watercolor – Modeling on the Boat

Amanda Day 27a.jpg

Amanda and I like to go shopping. A lot. Well, I like it better than she does. I have spent literally years dressing her, going back to the days when she was in school and had cool new clothes every year.

She’s so cute it was fun outfitting her. To her, it was a big hassle. Plus, she had her favorites. She will wear the same old thing, over and over, for days on end. But once in awhile, she gets excited about something new.

She especially loves animal prints — designs with leopard spots or snakeskin. So when I found this blouse, I hit the jackpot.

The ferry boat makes the perfect wind for modeling!

Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On April 27 it will be 9 months since I have spoken with my sister. I am doing a portrait of her every day until I hear from Amanda… Or until our court date on May 2.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

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The Crazy World of Shipping Art – Packy Come Home!

April 11: Packy arrived. Tube torn in half. It arrived in a plastic bag with the cap off. Art was unharmed, fortunately, save for one small tear in the corner.

This was for a tube mailed at end of February, to a destination about an hour’s drive from where I live.

packy package

packy package 3

packy package 2

packy package 4

Update: April 10

Packy is apparently on his way to his new home TODAY! After spending the month of March in the Bermuda Triangle, he went to Allen Park on April 5, then took a little side trip to South Lyon the next day. Three days later, he returned to Allen Park, where he finally departed for his Linden destination just before 11 pm last night.

April 10, 2017, 10:30 am Sorting Complete LINDEN, MI 48451
April 10, 2017, 8:48 am Arrived at Unit LINDEN, MI 48451
April 9, 2017, 10:51 pm Departed USPS Facility ALLEN PARK, MI 48101
April 9, 2017, 8:58 pm Arrived at USPS Facility ALLEN PARK, MI 48101
April 6, 2017, 9:23 am Arrived at USPS Facility SOUTH LYON, MI 48178
April 5, 2017, 9:29 pm Arrived at USPS Facility ALLEN PARK, MI 48101
March 1, 2017, 7:10 am In Transit to Destination
February 28, 2017, 12:10 am Departed USPS Origin Facility GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49512
February 28, 2017, 12:03 am Arrived at USPS Origin Facility GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49512
February 27, 2017, 4:47 pm Departed Post Office CHARLOTTE, MI 48813
February 27, 2017, 11:18 am Acceptance CHARLOTTE, MI 48813

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A lot of artists get attached to their paintings. This elephant watercolor is one that I thought I might keep. Incidentally, it was created around the same time as the much-loved zoo elephant Packy was euthanized, in what has turned out to be not a very happy story.

In many ways selling art is like placing a fostered dog or cat — we want it to land in just the right spot. As it happens, the perfect new owner came forward. She feels a connection to elephants, and an emotional response to the painting.

I have shipped a lot of art, and have learned through trial and error that the best way to send it, if it will fit, is in a tube. It is less likely to get crushed or mangled that way.  The only problem is that the art comes out in a roll and has to be flattened.

Well, Packy was mailed at the end of February.  I used to be good about sending the recipient the tracking number, but I had kind of fallen off that habit. Plus, Packy was only traveling to Lindon, Michigan. I could have driven there in about an hour and delivered him myself. So I wasn’t worried about it.

I found out yesterday that Packy Watercolor still hadn’t reached his destination!

I went through receipts and checked the tracking, and found this:

usps.jpg

This tells me that Packy is in South Lyon as of Thursday, apparently at the post office. This is after disappearing into the vast unknown for the entire month of March. Why is he now in South Lyon? I have no idea. I will be very interested to find out if I put the wrong zip code on the tube, but the receipt clearly states that the destination is Linden. He was expected to arrive March 1.

So, here’s a good lesson for me — remember to faithfully report the tracking number to the recipient. Had she known when her elephant was scheduled to arrive, we may have found him sooner.

 

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