How to Pay it Forward

I had 18 people attend my class, “Starting a Blog with Stump: the Librarian.” It was a wonderful mix of familiar and new faces, including library patrons, business owners, artists, photographers, and writers.

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My class at the library was an introduction to blogging. Patrons did not create a blog and start posting in my class. There was not enough time. It was a not-too-serious, but informative, learning environment. I told them to think up a clever name that combines who you are with what you want to say, but cautioned some of the good domains may already be taken. “Without a leg to stand on” was my first choice, but Stump: The Librarian is actually better, since I’m writing about amputees and libraries. I hope my passion for blogging was evident in my enthusiasm for sharing what I’d learned about blogging. I wanted each person to determine for themselves if they should start a blog.

Several people signed up after hearing about the class from fellow blogger Karyn Tunks, the guest speaker at Pensters, a local writing group. Library volunteers, Nonfiction Book Club members, Genealogy Club members, and a couple of co-workers sat in on the session. In my last post, I wrote about connecting with community. I could swear these people had read it because that’s exactly what we had in the computer lab yesterday.

Since I had such a convergence of community, I’m paying it forward to another local organization that provides educational opportunities. The Eastern Shore Institute for Lifelong Learning (ESILL) bills itself as “school for the fun of it.” The classes are not free, but they are very reasonable. Four ESILL instructors attended my blogging class who are also part of Pensters. Gene, Jane, Fred, and Rosanne teach photography, art, ancient wisdom, and writing, respectively. Bloggers and future bloggers should check out Blogging 101. I’m constantly looking for opportunities to continue my leg-ucation. Fall is a great time to learn something new.

Why Oregon?

That was the response from family, coworkers, and friends when I told them Sue and I were going to Oregon for vacation. I told them all the state had to offer and mentioned a few must dos, which we did.

Now that I’ve been back for a week, I asked myself the question again. Here’s a few of the moments that made my vacation such a fun, amazing, and unique experience.

City

Portland’s downtown library is a historic landmark. It was buzzing with activity the day I went. I happened upon a skateboarding exhibit on the third floor by Cal Skate, a local skateboarding shop that’s been in business since the early 1970s.

After going through the history of skateboards and checking out the old decks, trucks, and wheels, I wandered into the Literature and History Room and walked up to the information desk. I complimented the two library guys on the library and the exhibit, and followed up with a question.

“How did Portland get the nickname Stumptown?”

“I don’t know,” was the reply by the man my age. It didn’t seem to me like a difficult question. However, this is often a reactionary response. I say it too sometimes because, even though people come to the reference desk for information, no one likes a know-it-all. Perhaps we were just annoying out of towners, but providing answers or at least attempting to find answers to questions is what makes librarians librarians. I waited for the librarian to say more, like, “let me research that for you.” He didn’t. It was the first time since starting my blog that a librarian didn’t know, and was satisfied with not finding out.

I Stumped the Librarian!

Still burning for an answer, I joined a walking tour, Secrets of Portlandia, a free tour not including tip, led by a guy named Travis. He was a wealth of information on the culture and history of Portland, even though he told some really corny jokes along the way.

The city got its infamous nickname during the mid 19th century. Portland was built for it’s timber and proximity to the river. However, when they took these massive trees down, they left the stumps in the ground. And there they stayed, for decades, rotting away, slowly. Leaders in other frontier cities lured settlers away by giving the city the derogatory moniker Stumptown.

During that time, one Portlandian said, “Portland has more stumps than people.”

“We embrace the nickname now,” Travis told his group of ten tourists.

One company has cashed in on it.

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Mountain

Aside from my own, I didn’t see any stumps in Stumptown. I even checked the Japanese Tea Gardens, International Rose Garden, and Forest Park. I took a day trip and a hike to Mirror Lake, which offers a reflected view of Mt. Hood on its surface. According to a Timberline Lodge volunteer I chatted with on the hike, the older trees were “notched” along the base of the trunk so platforms or scaffolding could be built around the tree. This created a level surface for two loggers to stand on while they cut down the tree using a two man handsaw.  The stumps with notches are over 100 years old, according to our volunteer.

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Sea

Just like Lincoln City’s motto, I did “try something new.” I made a glass starfish at Jennifer Sears Glass Art. This hands on experience is a must do for any artist or tourist. (Also don’t miss a whale watch on a Zodiac boat)

Each step is hands on, from heating, shaping, cupping, pulling, and cutting.

After I finished my starfish, a flat-topped man in the audience (I didn’t know I had one while I was making my starfish) stopped me and said, “I like how you customized your starfish. Is that carbon fiber?” He was pointing to my prosthesis.

“Thanks, and yes it is,” I said.

“A friend of mine back home has a carbon fiber prosthesis too. His AR 15 has a carbon fiber barrel.”

“That must make for a cool Facebook photo,” I told him and he waxed on about guns.

“He’s modified it so there is no recoil when you fire it.” He spoke with the experience still fresh in mind, his hands cradling the make believe rifle.

“Sounds like you’ve got rifle envy,” I said.

“Yeah, I do, but hey, I’m gonna tell my friend about your starfish. That’s an original there.”

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9Legs, Nine Lives

Tripawds

Yesterday, my co-coworker Pam sent me a message with a photo on Facebook about something she learned during a carriage ride in Natchez Mississippi. Riding past the cemetery Pam heard about Tripod, a three-legged cat that was befriended by Natchez city workers. She included a photo of the Tripod’s Headstone for me and I thanked her of course and messaged back, “I’ll add Tripod to my list of names of leg amputees.” The list includes the famous, infamous, fictional, factual, legends, dogs, dolphins (Winter’s dorsal fin), horses, cows, and now my first cat. Anyone with a three-legged pet should visit tripawds. There are more than 6,000 animal lovers registered on the site who have pets with less than four paws.

Including Tripod, I’ve got nine legs to add to the list this week, which is the one year anniversary of my blog.

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Cow-Tipping News

On Friday, my sister-in-law Kim forwarded a link for me to check out on Facebook.

A 600 pound calf had two hind legs amputated due to frostbite. The English Charolais calf was recently fitted with two “high-tech” prostheses in Houston, Texas. Hero’s the only double amputee calf with two prostheses in the United States.  

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Aaarrrgghh-etype

I read a fantastic kid’s book on Thursday morning. Pirates vs. Cowboys, is written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by David Barneda. It’s a story about feuding pirates who go over land to bury their treasure. They run into a motley group of cowboys. But these are no ordinary human pirates and cowboys. Burnt Beard is an octopus, accompanied by an armada of sea creatures. Black Bob McKraw is a steer, with a nose ring, and he’s got a mixed up gang of barnyard animals and desert characters, including a prickly cactus in a pot.

What makes the story effective is that it’s not an archetype peg-leg character. Pegleg Highnoon is not the villain, though he is an alligator. He’s not just any old gator, but he’s the world’s only pirate cowboy. Pegleg Highnoon’s a peacekeeper, moderator, and the closest thing there is to a lawman in Old Cheyenne. I really enjoyed reading about Pegleg, as I discovered something of his character in me. I don’t want to be typecast as the angry amputee and I’m usually looking to avoid conflict by seeking common ground. Stop by your local library or bookstore and check it out.

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Infamy

I have been following the court appearances of “the fastest man on no legs” in South Africa. Oscar Pistorius is still on trial for shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013.

The double amputee competed in the Summer Olympics in 2012.

On Tuesday morning, the trial stopped because the judge ordered Pistorius to undergo psychiatric testing to find out whether he was “criminally responsible” on the night he shot and killed his girlfriend. Pistorius’ infamy has kept him out of prison. Most people go to jail while they wait for a psyche ward bed to open up, but he will remain on the outside. Pistorius will also be an outpatient while he undergoes evaluation.

Prior to his arrest, I had never been so proud of an amputee’s actions as I was in those moments watching Pistorius pistoning around the track on his Cheetahs.

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Famous Fembot

I watched double below-knee amputee Amy Purdy dance for the first time Tuesday night. I was skeptical about her ability to compete against two good legs. I will say for a dancer who doesn’t move her ankles, is on her toes, and in swim prostheses, she was outstanding!  That night Amy stepped on the dance floor. I was riveted, mesmerized, and in awe of her human and hardware synchronicity.

Amy didn’t win this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC. Meryl and her partner, even to my super amateur eyes, were better.

Many people I knew said the couple deserved to win, but I think that was based on Amy’s story, rather than her dancing, which was phenomenal and nearly flawless. After contracting Bacterial Meningitis at 19, both her legs were amputated. She also received a Kidney from her father.

She’s an actress and model and Paralympic athlete. Amy is also an amputee advocate for X-Games sports like moto-cross, snowboarding and skateboarding. She’s a spokesperson for Element, a skateboard and clothing company. She was on “Amazing Race” two years ago, but got eliminated so fast I never got to know her. Her company Adaptive Action Sports helps amputees participate in these sports. She’s propelled skateboarding among amputees and I wish I knew about her for an earlier blog I wrote called, “Skateboarding Legs.”

We humans are suckers for an inspirational story, especially one so perfectly packaged for network TV. There’s no doubt Amy is confident, athletic, and an attractive person. It’s interesting that the network TV viewer that fell in love with the dancer may not know Amy the snowboarder, skateboarder, and self-proclaimed “Fembot” blogger. I’m intrigued by the edge-y, experimental, provocative, creative, and risk-taking Amy I discovered in a risqué photograph taken by Motley Crue Bassist Nikki Sixx. She’s wearing a pair of custom-made ice pick legs.

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