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Archive for the ‘Iowa’ Category

My son started Camp Bee A Friend this week. This camp pairs off children on the autism spectrum with their typically developing peers, sharing the camp experience together. It’s not about therapy, academics, things like that, it is camp. Real camp with camp activities. Fishing and swimming and crafts and lunch and songs and games and sports and all the typical day camp stuff — something that kids on the spectrum, particularly ones like mine, don’t really get to experience.

Now, one of my fears with Ted is that he’d be alone when we were gone. That the only people who would be with him would be obligated to. Family members, and people who work with him. Maybe a roommate in an apartment or group home. It’s one of the things that makes me sad, the thought my son may never have a partner, a family, a social life. He’s still non verbal, and he doesn’t really notice other people a lot. He doesn’t interact, usually. And since there are a lot of things he doesn’t understand, what could he bring to the table, friendship-wise? This breaks my heart on a regular basis. I try not to think about it, because it makes me want to die inside.

Well, when he got on the bus to go to camp, another kid came by. He looked at the open doors, looked over the seats, and said, “I want to sit next to Ted!” I smiled, I made a pleasant remark to one of the staff members standing there (as well as continued to discuss how Ted doesn’t eat lunch) and left.

And then proceeded to cry the entire drive home.

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This link makes it appear as if despite all our complaints, more people move TO Chicago than FROM Chicago, here in Dubuque. Interesting map on the comings and goings of residents, from one county to another, all over the country.

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Of all things to write about, I’m very excited about the ‘pay as you throw’ system of garbage collection.  It’s when I noticed how well I was doing with it, lately, that I realized how it can be an excellent way for communities to manage their garbage.

This is how it works in Dubuque.  You pay a monthly fee (under $10 I believe, it is part of the water bill) for garbage pick up. This fee is for one standard sized can.  You can pay extra for a larger can, or if you have the occasional extra garbage, you can buy stickers ($1.25 each) to stick on the handle of another can, or on a bag or larger (within reason) item.

Recycling is free.  There are a lot of items recycled here, we take more plastic than they did in NYC. No matter how much garbage you have to recycle, they will pick it up for free.

They also have yearly yard stickers (that you pay extra for during the spring/summer/fall), or stickers for yard waste.  Some communities have food scrap pickup, but there is a waiting list to get on that.

I come from Brooklyn, where you would have two cans picked up twice a week. Here it is the one can plus recyclables once a week.  I have now managed to consistently stay within my allotment.

In Brooklyn, you got tickets for not putting your recycling where it belonged. Put a soda bottle or box in a trash bag, get a fine.  Here, put that in a trash bag, and waste valuable space.

I never cared much about fines, although I did recycle. I do care about having to run and get stickers if I go over.  I’ve become competent at squishing boxes nicely, and spend more time than I used to contemplating packaging when shopping.  I enjoy my bagged milk, for example.  It takes hardly any space at all, and recyclable!

I know there is a concern about someone using your garbage to throw their extra stuff out.  It has happened, and I’ve seen it happen occasionally. But I am sure there are measures in place to minimize that.  In places that patrol garbage for a can mixed in with paper, they could use those people to fine those who misuse garbage that way. Or roll it out in communities where this is less likely to be a problem.

So, pay as you throw not only has increased my recycling, but it has decreased the amount of packaging I use.  It’s changed the way I think about what I bring into the house.  This is a positive change that is good for me, and my environment.  More communities should look to pay as you throw as a way to increase recycling, and decrease what goes into landfills. The carrot (saving money) works better than the stick (paying fines), I think.

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Since last year’s annual meeting with the Department of Human Services Case Management, the terminology has changed for one of the services my son gets.

In the past, he was on the “MR Waiver”.  MR = Mental Retardation Waiver. In other words, it was medicaid eligibility based not on income, but on his diagnosis, and all the support services that comes with it.  (They also have a Brain Injury Waiver, an Ill and Handicapped Child Waiver, and others.)

He now has the “ID Waiver” which stands for intellectual disability. This, to me, has less of a stigma. It also is more hopeful, I think.  It also should open up services for those who have significant difficulties but score higher on IQ tests.  Before, your child had to score low on standardized tests.  This hopefully will open the door to more people who need services getting what they need.

So even the government understands the issues around using the word ‘retarded’.  Now if only more people could be sensitive about it, too.

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Today, I got my first box from Little Tree CSA. For those of you who don’t know, this arrangement means that in exchange for cash monies, every week I get a box, a share from the farm. A box filled with good, yummy things. This box of fresh deliciousness will arrive every Saturday morning at the Dubuque Farmer’s Market until the end of the season (October).

This box contains spinach, lettuce, radish, chicken of the woods mushroom, micro greens, kale, garlic, chives, purplette onions, mint, lemon balm, and wild ginger. I had no idea what they would have this early on, I figured it would be lettuce, radishes, and more radishes. I can’t imagine how much this is going to change over time, because it’s already so much!

What I like about something like this is the way it compels me to eat better, to eat creatively. Organic and localvore issues aside (this fills both roles), what really matters is variety in the diet, to me. If I did not have this box, I would have got the usual produce, half at the supermarket, half at the farmer’s market, half from my own garden. I’d go for the old standbys. Now, microgreens? What will I do with those? How about the kale? I could use more of that green and leafy in my life. Chicken mushrooms? It looks fantastic! Things I would not go out of my way to eat, I will be eating now. Think of how good that is for my diet. Not only does it increase my exposure to healthy food, by granting me access to it, it increases the nutritional value of my diet. You can’t help but ensure a greater variety of nutrients when you have a greater variety of fresh food.

What am I snacking on right now? Microgreens. Until 30 seconds ago, never ate it in my life. Considering that I would normally poke around the kitchen for processed crap, this is a massive improvement. This really ups my veg intake a lot, investing in a CSA like this.

CSAs don’t come cheap, mind you. I’m paying $500, broken up over the months, for the boxes, which is about $25 a week. Well worth it, but there is an upfront cost. However, for fresh, local, organic food, it is a huge savings. I got far more than I would have had I gone and bought each bit individually. Some CSAs offer (or require) some work in exchange for the share, too. It depends on which one you join.

Most of them, like mine, have a newsletter, too. I’ve got recipes that are tailored to what is in this week’s box. And notice how I said “mine” there? It’s how I feel. The CSA concept makes me feel like part of the farm. Like an investor. I mean, that is kind of what it is, but who feels that way when they get stock in a company? Here, I am meeting the people, reading the newsletters, talking to them, getting to know them. It’s something I always loved about the Farmer’s Market, knowing where my food is coming from. But the CSA is even more of a bond, because of the regularity. We’re in this together! They said they were exited giving out the first boxes, and I was excited to get it. MY box, from MY CSA. How often do you think that about what you eat? It’s topped only by eating from my garden.

For information on CSAs, including where to find one near you in the United States, check out this website. It also links to farmer’s markets and other sources of local food.

This is going to be a GREAT summer. I can feel it!

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TH – Local News Article.

Explain to me why a woman with failing brakes gets cited for failing to stop — as if things weren’t bad enough, she is being treated like a criminal?

And yet they told me outright they KNOW who robbed me, and they have yet to do anything about it.

They’re ok, but they are REALLY into citing people who have been in accidents, with things like this (this, or failure to control a vehicle, usually if you skid on ice and wind up in a ditch).  It’s just a way to generate revenue in the city, I suppose.

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Earlier this week I woke up to my driver’s side window smashed in (by a spark plug, apparently a common way of breaking car windows quietly and quickly).  My GPS, which I normally take in every night, was stolen.  I was supposed to go out for one more drive, but Ted wanted to walk, instead, and after the walk I put him to bed and forgot about the GPS. (And my backpack AND my radio.)

I have an idea who did it — waiting for the police to finish their investigation.  There was one person who rode in my car, who knew all about it, who was curious about it, and the first day it is left in, it’s gone. A family that always asks for money and items.  Who knew too much about other things. Most importantly, I was woken up twice by noise from their door that night — they claim no one was up and about.  A bunch of other thoughts too, but for now, there is nothing I can do.

The police who responded, and the investigators I spoke to later on in the day, were absolutely brilliant.  They made something scary and upsetting, bearable.  I didn’t expect so much attention and concern, it was a pleasant suprise.

Dealing with Progressive was pleasant too, although my deductible is rather high, and I wound up paying out of pocket. But they found me a local division of Safelite, which is prompt, affordable, and on site.  The GPS was not covered, though, as it wasn’t a permanent part of the car. (That’s being taken care of though, at least.)

I am very disappointed that this happened in a place I moved to that I went in with bright expectations about safety.  I let my guard down a little bit.  I should have known better. What bothers me the most, though, is I’ve done a bit to help this family out, and support them in ways I could, and it felt like “no good deed goes unpunished”.  Plus they knew that I wasn’t rolling in cash.  That I couldn’t help them too much because I had my own tight budget to adhere to.

However, given the outpouring of support from family, friends, and community, if this is my punishment, keep it coming.  Although I am still rattled, and this hit me at a time where I really didn’t need to get a (financial) hit, in ways I’m better off than I was before it happened. I found support and caring from places I didn’t expect it, and had other parts of my network re-affirm how wonderful they really are.

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