Category Archives: Community

Got Too Much Stuff? Donate it– UNlimiters Style!

imagesA few weeks ago my husband and I got a new couch. Well, it wasn’t really new, but it was “new to us.” Unlike our many other pieces of “new to us” furniture, this was very gently used. I love it. Of course, since I use the furniture and the walls to get around my house, we had to make sure that everything was positioned just so; but now that everything has been arranged it looks lovely.However, there is one small problem, and by one I mean two, and by small I mean rather large.

See, despite the fact that our trash company had agreed to take the old couches away for $10 a piece, they are still sitting in my basement, along with the two couches we were using before them. That’s right; I now have four used couches in my basement. Why? Well, that’s a logical question, and if I had an answer there would not be four couches in my basement. I cannot move the couches, so my husband has to do it, and he says that he cannot move them because he needs someone to help him. To date, he has not asked anyone and no one has spontaneously volunteered.

This is seriously enough to drive a woman insane. Fortunately, I have found a way in which I can get rid of some of the other stuff that seems to accumulate when you are a home owner, without needing my husband to help. Donate Stuff is an organization that accepts donations of gently used clothing and household items. The best part? They will pick them up for you on a scheduled date and time. The items you donate will go to a local charity and the pick-up is absolutely free. In my area, the items picked up by Donate Stuff goes to my local Purple Heart, a charity that supports military veterans and their families. It is really easy to schedule a pick – up, you just go to www.donatestuff.com and enter your zip code, then follow the instructions. If pickup is not available in your area, Donate Stuff will send you pre-paid UPS bags to mail in your clothing donations, for free.

Unfortunately for me and my couch situation, Donate Stuff does not pick up large items; they only take items that can be moved by a single person. But they will take clothing, small furniture, small appliances and other household items, which make them a great resource when you clean out your closet at the end of the season, buy a new coffee maker or your child suddenly decides that trains are for babies. You can donate these items knowing that they will be going to new families instead of filling up a landfill or your basement.

So when I look at those four couches sitting in my basement, I remember to be grateful that it is only couches, and not the hundreds of other items I have been able to donate to a good cause. I just keep hoping that someday soon a magic fairy, or a very large man, might come and take them a way.

Home Alone? Tips on Staying Safe and Sane.

My husband is an avid outdoorsman. He likes to hunt, fish, camp, and go for long walks in the woods. A few times a year, he goes on what I call a “man-cation.” I call it this because, generally, women are not welcome on these trips. Not that I want to be invited. Spending a few days cooped up in a cabin with no access to running water and sleeping in close proximity to a bunch of snoring men does not sound like my idea of a good time.

He really enjoys these trips; getting some time away from the daily grind in good for him. However, this also means that I lose my primary source of transportation while he is gone; which means we have to plan for what I will do while he is away.

Generally, I try to plan my own trip, or have a friend come stay with me while my husband is away. This is as much for boredom as it is for peace of mind. But if the timing doesn’t work out and I do have to spend a chunk of time alone, I always make sure that my family knows when he is leaving and when he will return. My Mom and in-laws are just minutes away in case of an emergency. Additionally, I like to set up a “check –in” schedule with them; this way we can check in with each other once a day, and if I cannot be reached they come over to the house. This might seem like a silly thing for an adult to do, but because I don’t use an aid, this is very important in case of a bad fall or something similar.

Besides making sure that I have someone on hand in case of an emergency, I also like to stock up on easy meals. Spending half an hour to an hour cooking for one just seems silly to me. I like to buy frozen skillet meals, because they taste better than the microwavable ones and I usually end up with left-overs. Also they are really simple to cook, with no chopping or measuring; just put in the pan for seven minutes and you are good to go.

The last thing I do when facing a week alone is make sure that I have a project and a nice long book to keep me entertained. I have just started the Game of Thrones series which I heard from a friend is “epically long.” Of course, I love Stephen King, but his novels tend to not be the best when home alone, though some of his less scary work would be a good choice. My favorites include Heart of Atlantis, The Green Mile and The Long Walk. My project of choice is of course sewing, but being without my husband for a few days is also a great reason to get some organizing done, or trying a DIY project seen on Pinterest. The best part? No one is around to her you swear.

 

Photography Gear to Help you Follow Your Passion

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This photo is part of the 100 Snapshots Challenge. It was taken in Chicago with my point and shoot camera.

I have always been a creative person. This creativity first manifested itself through writing. It was the easiest, most accessible way for me to express myself. As I got older, I fell in love with photography. My friends would constantly groan and make fun of me because I had to take photos of everything. When I participated in the “100 snapshots challenge” on Live Journal, my photographs began taking a more artistic turn; I discovered that there was more than one way in which I could express myself artistically.

For years I shot my photos with a small “point and shoot” digital camera. It was easy to carry around and I was able to take pretty decent photos with it. However, I found myself wanting to have more control over my images and wanting to try techniques that a point and shoot just couldn’t accomplish. When my husband bought me a Canon Rebel XSi for Christmas in 2009 I was off and running.

From the start, photography presented far more physical challenges than writing. Obviously I can’t get to some of the places that other photographers might, which is frustrating, but I have found ways around a few of the challenges that photography presents.

My biggest problem, besides the accessibility of some locations, is keeping the camera steady so I can get a nice, sharp image. Single Lens Reflex cameras, like my Canon, are much heavier than point and shoots, mostly because of the lenses. This means you need two hands to take a photo, which is pretty difficult to do if you use crutches or a walker to hold yourself up. Canon has lenses that come with an image stabilizer option, which is awesome and does help, but the feature makes them more expensive. Plus it is primarily for smaller movements, as opposed to the kind of camera shake I was experiencing.

To solve this problem, my husband came through once again, and bought me a tri-pod. I use the Vista Attaras FZ10. This tri-pod is stable enough for me to lean on if needed, which is quite important for me. Another feature I like is that it can be adjusted to almost any angle and height, making it easy to get steady shots whether I am standing, using my chair or want to get closer to the ground. An additional perk is the carrying bag that can be worn across the body or on the back of the wheelchair with very little assistance needed.

The last thing that has been essential to my success as a photographer is my Lowepro Backpack. I bought for my trip to Colorado. It holds my camera, all my lenses, as well as my laptop and anything else I might need or want while taking pictures on the go. I use this backpack whenever I might need to change a lens, even in my own backyard. It keeps all my accessories safe and at hand.

Colorado Moutain Landscape
This photo was taken with my Canon SLR camera on my trip to Colorado.

Photography is a great way to express your creativity and share your experiences with the world. Whether you choose a point and shoot or a SLR, I encourage you to give it a try. If you don’t know where to start, try the 100 Snapshots Challenge. The page has not be updated in ages but the list is still there and it is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.

An Inspired Idea Unites a Community!

A few blog entries back I introduced you to my friend Jan and her “stand-uppity” garden.  Continuing in that vein I want you to meet my nephew Chris who has an amazing garden story too.  He made the unorthodox decision to plant a garden in FRONT of his house and had no idea how this would change his life.

He chose the location because it received the best light but as he mapped out and planted his garden he realized that he was being closely watched. People that had never spoken before stopped and expressed their interest. Young parents brought their children to peek in the greenhouse and to ask Chris what he was planting and when it would be ready to be picked.

He believes that he’s met at least 30 or more people who live within 4 blocks … all of them “neighbors” that he would never have known otherwise.  In Chris’ words: “It has turned out that the production of food has taken a back seat to all the other things this garden has done: community building, bringing neighbors together, a teaching tool etc. I still get a lot of food for myself, neighbors & the food bank, but it’s almost incidental.”

I couldn’t help but think how this idea could be adapted to so many of you seniors out there with “green thumbs”. I know that front yard gardens might not be practical or even allowed in some places, but how about putting a wheelbarrow or a small table out there filled with vegetables or flowers from your garden and a sign encouraging neighbors to help themselves!

It’s people that have the guts to do something unorthodox like this that break down barriers and forge friendships. If you have any examples along these lines please share them with us.

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