I won an award.

Tricia over at Never Less than Everything tagged me for a “Sisterhood of the World Blog Award.”

It’s very kind of her and may be just the kick in the ass I need to start blogging regularly again (hey who knows)

The rules go like this:

“The Sisterhood of the World Blog Award is about connecting with other female bloggers and getting the blogger community together. The rules are:

1. Thank and link the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions the nomination has provided.
3. Nominate ten other bloggers
4. Create ten questions for your nominees and notify them of their nomination.”

I have changed them a bit, please keep reading to find out how.

Here are Tricia’s questions and my answers…

  1. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

We tend to do things we don’t like out of obligation or necessity.

For example,

Most people don’t like doing laundry.

Clothing is a requirement (social obligation) in most settings, and generally people prefer being clean. It’s also no fun to be cold. Options are to do laundry/walk around filthy/ keep buying new clothes/ or join a nudist colony with reliable heating.

Generally, people opt for washing clothes.

Not doing the things we like can also be because of necessity or obligation.  Of course many people ignore that, throw caution to the wind and end up in prison.

2. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

A faulty assumption is being implied in this statement.  Words can call one to action, soothe hearts, create hope, affirm and educate.  Sometimes, saying IS doing.

3. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

I’d like to teach the world to sing eradicate poverty of the mind.

Signs of an impoverished mind include hate, ignorance, and fear.

I think I’d have an easier time teaching the world to sing.

4. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

What I do now.

5. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

I believe in faeries, (I do, I do) so its working out.

6. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

I don’t usually entertain the idea of a different past as even past mistakes, regrets, abuse, poisonous frames of mind, and lack of critical thinking have brought me here, with people I love. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything based on the belief I’ll live past 40, so I can’t say how that would influence me.

7. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

I don’t believe fate/destiny nor luck/randomness. As a part of a very intricate living system I have some effect on how things go but only a small bit. I have controlled, sometimes poorly, sometimes well, my life in the decision making, actions, and reactions that I have been able to control. It’s all there is to do.

8. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

Define “right” and what the difference would be -between the two? Like Susanne Vega, you can always find me a bit left of center.

9. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?

I defend my friend and re-evaluate my feelings for these people.

10. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

“I know you haven’t quite got the receptive language t comprehend this advice but, Don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where its been.”

11. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

Probably. The only exception is if they needed “saved” from the punishment of a heinous crime they happen to be guilty of.

Time for my questions.

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. What would you like to achieve in life?
  3. Moist. <—– does this word squig you out if so, WHY?
  4. Do you have a nemesis animal? What is it? (bug, mammal, reptilian, whatev) Tell us about your trauma.
  5. What would be your ideal out of town holiday (vacation)?
  6. What is your fav. season?
  7. How do you feel about Mt. McKinley getting changed back to its native name?  (my international friends may need to google this)
  8. What are you reading right now? (if you aren’t name a movie you’ve seen recently)
  9. Whats up with Donald Trump’s hair?
  10. John always wears a shirt, pants, socks, and shoes. He owns 12 pairs of socks, 3 pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of pants, and 5 shirts.
    Assuming all other imaginable variables remain constant, How many different outfits can John make?

Now for my new rules.

I’m waving the implied vagina requirement.

Do consider yourself tagged if you’ve read this far .

If you don’t have a blog, answer in the comments.

The Hooker/Thompson conversations: were significant analyses omitted from Hooker’s paper?


Reblogging from Left Brain /Right Brain
An excellent breakdown of the unethical (and sloppy) “science” behind the “re-analysis” of the CDC study concerning vaccines and autism.

Originally posted on Left Brain Right Brain:

As a few people have written about recently, a book was recently published in which we get to read transcripts of conversations between Brian Hooker (a vocal advocate of the idea that vaccines cause autism) and William Thompson (a researcher at the CDC).

The basic story we have been told is that supposedly the CDC team (of which Thompson was a member) saw a “statistically significant” association between MMR vaccination and autism in African American boys. Specifically for boys who got the vaccine late, but before age 3. The story then goes on to claim that he CDC team worked furiously to bury this association. William Thompson, wracked with guilt over this, finally reached out to Brian Hooker to guide him towards this result.

This story is full of holes, as has been discussed here and elsewhere. Rather than go through that again, just take this backstory and ask yourself:…

View original 1,264 more words

Convention Ramble (Neurodiversity in Sherlock)

Morning everyone,

This past weekend I was part of the Neurodiversity in Sherlock Holmes panel at “GridLOCK DC” a Washington D.C area Sherlock Holmes convention.


Many things happened.

Some were fun.

Some were amazing.

I will get to the best bit at some point in the future but you’ll have to wait on that.

Today we’re talkin bout the panel.


 I’m on the right here, mid sentence about…something.

Topics discussed were both about autism in general, and the tendency of many to “read” Sherlock Holmes as being neurodivergent in some manner. Labeling Sherlock Holmes is problematic to say the least, but it cannot be denied that many people relate to his differences.

We talked generalities such as:

  • Functioning labels, definition and connotation
  • Executive Functioning
  • Autism Empathy Myth (we’re not sociopaths thank you)
  • Definitions of  “neurodiversity” and “neurodivergence”

And more Sherlock Holmes specific:

  • Character’s divergent behaviors (and of other characters)
  • Troubling statements made by a certain actor and that being considered a good actor or a good person doesn’t make one an authority on everything
  • BBC Sherlock’s entire “high functioning sociopath” silliness
  • The ability to make Sherlock Holmes into anything we like (as he is, really, not a well developed character, its easy to mold him into whatever we want/need)
  • Problems with labeling the character with specific disorders

It went well.

Had a nice mention on “Art in the Blood” a Sherlockian fan/forum site:

Amanda Mills is becoming one of my favorite presenters. She was one of the two presenters on a powerful panel called “Neurodiversity in Sherlock.” This might have been my favorite panel (even including the two in which I participated!). I really appreciate the way Mills approaches subjects that can be confusing or even unknown to people, such as autism and other examples of neurodiversity, such as bipolar disorder and sociopathy. She speaks clearly, concisely and with authority, but she is quick to contextualize her responses with relevant peer-reviewed data and the caveat that she can only speak for her own experiences. As an audience member, I felt very welcomed to ask questions and contribute ideas (mostly I just clapped and laughed and hummmmmed in interest).

So that is really good.

I felt though, somewhat discouraged concerning having to explain the difference between theory of mind (a deficit of everyone on this planet) and emotional empathy to an otherwise knowledgeable and accepting crowd. It’s not their fault, but still, its disheartening.

I touched on that quite a bit for Quora, but don’t believe its been delved into too much on this blog.

It needs covering.

Let’s do that.

Come What May, Never Say Never


I went from a bad blogger to a very very bad blogger.

No apologies.

I’m in love with someone who reciprocates.

Its a tad thought/time consuming  and I don’t mind one bit.

The children have spent the summer swimming, hiking, watching movies, playing games, taking day trips, and playing in the park. They’ve done quite a bit of the typical North American kid summer activities, and missed out on others.

Monday we went to the zoo.
They got to ride camels.


As a child, I didn’t  get to ride a camel.

Now I’m afraid I would hurt the camel’s back.

Yet, I don’t feel less because my possible camel riding days are behind me.

We don’t all get to “do” everything.

This post is for my “anyone having anything to do with kids” readers.

It contains my opinion based on twenty years of parenting and a degree in child development.

If you don’t care, please move on.

I’m certain somewhere there is a story of a politician saying something outrageous that could take up the two minutes you could have spent reading this.


Everyone who stayed,

I hope you don’t  fall into the trap of believing a child in your life will never do something simply because they are autistic, or have some other type of disability, or for any other reason.

To quote many lyricists and poets through the mists of time,

“Never is a very long time.”

It’s also bullshit.

Unless the kid has a terminal illness,

YOU DON’T KNOW what their achievements, experiences, relationships, and other aspects of their lives will be like.

Ruminating on all the things they will be left out on is not healthy for  a caregiver.  Whether they  go about it consciously or not, this negative thinking can cause them to limit that child’s potential and opportunities.



Now, how about the words “May Not?”

Sure, the kid MAY not do many things.


There are the small things.

Little Augustus may not:

  • Ride a bike
  • Go to prom
  • Withstand a trip to Disney World or some other overpriced/crowded theme park
  • Want to do all the other things parents envisioned doing with the kid
  • Do the things that typify a preconceived “normal” childhood

No, he may not.

Many children do not, and in the end, it doesn’t matter.

There is  NO actual set of standard childhood experiences all children must have in order to “succeed” in life, no matter how you define it.

Don’t project your disappointment onto the kid.



Having said that,

A rich environment and experiences ARE important.

You MAY have to work very hard on learning what experiences will work despite and perhaps because of your child’s unique situation. It may be difficult to provide them,


Don’t tell me there aren’t any,

That is also bullshit.


There are the big things in life all parents tend to worry over.

Precious Isabella may not:

  •  Fall in love
  • Go to college
  • Live independently
  • Have a job or career

Yes and no.

No-one is incapable or unworthy of love and being loved in return.

Successful romantic love doesn’t happen for everyone no matter who they are.

As for career and independence and education,

No, the kid may not.

Yet they may.

Be careful how much importance you place on them.

While those things can lead to happiness, they aren’t requirements for happiness.

Some people do all those things and aren’t actually happy.

There are happy people who haven’t accomplished that list.

There are moments of joy in life, open to everyone.


I happen to think moments of joy are far more attainable than a permanent state of happiness, but those terms are subjective, debatable, and better left for long philosophical talks over alcohol.






The “HELP! My autistic child is Autistic!!!” advice post.


Primary advice – about advice

I cannot give the advice merely as an autistic adult.

Much of this advice is from years of being an autism parent, my education (both formal and informal) and being on the spectrum (pdd-nos). I cannot parse the three, you know?

I cannot parse it from my childhood experiences either.

I speak from a certain perspective shaped by all these experiences which I am positive people do not entirely share.  Obvious right?

The point is:

Everyone with advice speaks from their own perspective so its important to understand it will not fit your situation exactly.  (that whole theory of mind thing? I think it’s a human problem)  Neither can I ever place myself exactly in your shoes.

The thing to do, if you are feeling open minded is to take the advice that makes sense, even if it seems hard. Forget the rest. Do that with any advice you receive. Believe me. You will receive a ton of it, mostly unsolicited.

With that disclaimer in mind,

and since you’re here and still reading,

here is my advice:


For the parent:


I know when people first receive diagnosis for their child there is an urgency that sets in, if not panic. You want to make everything right again. Funny thing is, nothing was actually wrong.  Your child didn’t go from normal to autistic and can’t be changed back to something they never were.  They aren’t infected with a virus you can give them medicine for. Their brains have developed quite differently from the norm for whatever reason.

Ignore Curebies/wallet snatchers

Hords of people are going to be trying to sell you something to help make your baby “better” and if you are still in panic mode, your better judgment and money will depart…rapidly.

This might be really hard to accept but there is no CURE.  You cannot make your kid un-autistic  BUT they can grow and learn.

Forget the Martyr/warrior/saint complex.

You know the one I mean. Parents (mostly moms) give up their personal lives, relationships and common sense to focus on battling the evil autism dragon destroying their/their child’s life.

Don’t go there. If you are there




That dragon is your FEAR.

I get it, I have my own fears and worries about their futures.

Disappointment is a dragon too.

We build mental models of how things will be, and oftentimes they are just fantasy.



Calm down and THINK.

What is it I need to do to help them grow up to reach their potential?


Take care of yourself

  • Eat, sleep, stay active
  • Take time for yourself, even if it’s just a little for your own hobbies and interests
  • Find respite care. I KNOW from experience this can be difficult.
  • If you ever feel like harming yourself or others, TELL SOMEONE.Go to the hospital. Go to a doctor.  Call a friend. Do Something! Don’t let it fester.

Educate yourself

In order to advocate for your child and teach your child to advocate for themselves, you need to educate yourself first.

  • Learn a wide variety of outlooks and therapies and once again, use what make sense for your situation.
  • Read the works of adult autistics. Sure there is Temple Grandin.  Also please try: Stephen Shore, The Loud Hands project,  Lynne Soroya, Karla’s ASD page,  etc.
  • Learn to understand what makes good/bad research so you can evaluate information. I highly recommend the blog “Left Brain/Right Brain.”

For your kid:

Importance of experiences vs. therapies

One reason special needs kids end up behind their peers is that they spend a great deal of time in therapy instead of having normal kid experiences. It is through our experiences that we form our view of the world.

Sure, therapy, especially speech and OT is essential. However do not let it take up every moment.

Your child needs time to be a kid.

You child NEEDS time to have experiences.


Patrick (6 pdd-nos)  and Tessa (4) check out the harbour view

I’m not talking about anything too out there in terms of planning. I mean the park, the zoo, the community, the store, holiday and seasonal celebrations, etc. This is where they will need to be once grown, not in a therapists office.

Your child ALSO needs DOWN TIME in order to develop into an individual and distress. This is just as if not more important than therapy.

Therapy, btw, shouldn’t be about normalization but acquiring skills. Work on academics and self help, skip the forced eye contact and rote social skills. Teach manners. Try having family/social time where social skills/manners can be used/observed in real time. (family dinner, family game night, clubs and activities your child is interested in)

Encourage interests/Respect

Whatever your child likes to do – run with it.

Let them spend their free time however they like.
(within the boundaries of your family’s values and wallet – of course)

Do not compare your child to other children.

Compare them to themselves-
How are they as compared to last year? Two years ago…

There will always be improvement.


For your family:

Spend time with your spouse/ partner or you will lose them.
Harsh perhaps, but I’ve been there.

If you do, don’t blame that mythical autism dragon. That dragon is named lack of communication and time spent on a relationship.

If you have other children:

There are bound to be things you can’t all do together because your autistic child cannot handle it for whatever reason.

Have a special time for those things.

(a two mile steep climb up a rocky hill so we can sit on a rock ledge, just isn’t going to be a family outing…ever)

Lastly- get to know them, know their challenges and strengths, communication style and personality. In doing so, you’ll better understand whats going to work and what doesn’t, what they do and do not need.




Huffing Felines and Project Updates


I hope everyone is enjoying their Friday.

Today is a kid free day, and also a day to get some work done, including caulking around the tub.

I know, I know, its a charmed life.

I can feel your jealousy from here.

It’s not always this glamorous.

This is mouse.


(picture of me, holding my cat, she wants nothing of it)

Mouse is a bit weird.

That’s ok, she fits in.

One of the things that makes her weird, is her enjoyment of inhalants and other substances not usually enjoyed by housecats.

She goes crazy over/tries to eat:

  • smelly junk mail, especially if  its sealed with rubber cement
  • magazines, especially if they have perfume inserts
  • glue
  • my herbal tea
  • new paint
  • coffee

As of today I can add bathroom caulk to the list.

I began to caulk and she ran into the bathroom with a wild look of ecstasy.

“I can has caulk??”


I shut her out of the bathroom.

Shutting the door made me feel rather light headed, but better that then having to explain her substance abuse issues to the vet.

She’s sulking now.

I should update you guys on some of our ongoing projects.

First off,

The closed terrarium


It.  has been sealed over  a month and as predicted is happy and has grown. There have been at least two generations of little gnats living in there as well.

Speaking of insects, next we have:

The pollinator garden

We’re getting quite a few insect visitors.

gaillardia4  gaillardia7DSCN0004

The Bee Houses

Leaf cutter bees moved in next door to our  mason bees. DSCN0011

The mason bee make a smooth mud covering, while leaf cutter are lumpy.


sweet potatoes


We have several plants, all from one potato:



nature quest

We recently completed both trails at Oregon Ridge, and the trail at Marshy Point.  Here we are at Marshy Point looking at an Eastern box turtle spotted by Tessa.


Kevin, a new, and rapidly becoming a very important person in my life, took the above photo. I don’t blog about love. Maybe I should.

Anyhow, here’s the box turtle:


Marshy point has a neat nature center, that includes a free roaming duck.

That’s it for project updates.

Time to get back to the chores.

Enjoy your weekend. :-)





An ODD Childhood. (Adult Autism Diagnosis Story)

Morning Guys,

“An ODD Childhood” is a reworking of an old Quora post.

This is my autism diagnosis story.

An Odd Childhood

I often tell people that my childhood was an odd one.

(black and white photograph of a man with a suit jacket, mustache. text reads: “It was a rather a serious evening, you know” -Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, describing his survival of the sinking of the Titanic. )

“An odd one” is an understatement on the level of Mr. Gordon’s

I was raised by a very unstable person  who shifted from rages that included physical and psychological abuse,  to overly strict rules and religious insanity that would change on a dime, to all out neglect back to tight control. She drank heavily, slept almost exclusively with married men, was involved in illegal activities, and exposed us to porn, alcohol and violence.

File her somewhere between ambivalent and disorganized.

I felt for a  long time that my talking, learning, social problems, abruptness,  anxiety, obsessions, etc, were because of this.  (my doctor feels that it more likely exacerbated them)

These days I feel  being on the spectrum could be the reason I made it through less damaged than I could have been.

I grew up and received a PTSD diagnosis.

I’m getting ahead of myself, because one of the most important parts of this story isn’t labels.
It’s a person.

(Pete chillin at the science museum, 2012)

I gave birth to, this beautiful beautiful child who didn’t talk until he was four, and to this day cannot have a typical conversation.

My diagnosis story, is very much Pete’s story, because it was through his diagnosis and learning process that I began to take a closer look at me.

His diagnosis was not the grief laden thing it can be for many parents.

I was and still am worried about his future, but it just was never a tragedy.

His autism diagnosis left me saying, “Ok, so ummm, how can I help him learn?”

I set out to learn everything I could regarding autism and learning, and learning in a general sense.

As he and the other boys were diagnosed I asked myself frequently, “Is this the source of my problems, back then, and now?”

It explained everything that couldn’t be explained by ptsd related anxiety/mood or attachment issues.

I pondered this for YEARS.

Eventually I went to college to study child development.  Learning about attachment and cognitive development as well as psychopathology was elucidating.  It brought about mindfulness.

I also became involved in online neurodiversity efforts, primarily on youtube.

I left it for awhile though, diving back into a nice relaxing obsession, Sherlock Holmes, because of the stress of the clash between ABA advocates/curebie/biomed parents and the acceptance crowd. It was really ugly, still can be.

Time went on…
I was still recognizing, still running into my same problems stemming, primarily from severe social anxiety.

(cartoon girl in a superhero outfit, text reads: Anxiety Girl! able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound! thought: ih good grief these tights are too tight, I think I’m gonna die)

One day, I just decided, I needed to know.  I contacted an aspie blogger I follow who lived close by and got the name of her doctor.  It was a several hours long evaluation over the span of about two months (six hours of actual evaluation -test after test). It was not an autism evaluation only, she looked at everything including possible personality disorders (schizoid or antisocial being possibilities), mood disorders, etc. Being that the doctor is well educated, very well experienced, and using the best diagnostic tools, I made the decision I would accept, whatever it was she had to say.

My diagnosis sheet:

(functioning is  in the clinical sense is adaptation to problems in daily living)

The ADHD diagnose has been the most difficult to accept.

I’ve written about that here.

I have not yet needed this information to ask for any supports or accommodations for myself, but its there if I need it. The benefit is in more of a freedom to speak /share.

Plus as I have felt acceptance is so essential for my guys, so is accepting myself.

It’s actually empowering to know without a doubt and then move ahead.

On Getting an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD (Diagnosis story one)

Morning internet people.

Today you get part of my diagnosis story.

I grew up through half the seventies, all of the eighties, and half the nineties. I remember orange furniture, shag carpets, McHammer and the day Kurt Cobain died.  Growing up then only children severely affected in development were diagnosed with disorders. In general they did not attend regular school, or if they did, not integrated. Kids who weren’t really bad off but still having troubles did still get labeled. We got to be stupid, lazy, obstinate, etc.

Kids like me just muddled through and some of us overcame problems and some of us didn’t.

I did not seek diagnosis for mine until my thirties.

I had suspected autism for some time, so, the autism diagnosis was validating and not the least bit upsetting. I had been previously diagnosed with PTSD so that was nothing new either.

ADHD (ADD is a subset) on the other hand caused me a bit…. distress.

You see I had spent my adult life hearing that ADHD was a diagnosis for hyperactive boys,

that teachers couldn’t handle,

that  perhaps learned differently.

I adored (and still do) Ken Robinson’s talk on “How Schools Kill Creativity”

and nodded right along with his statements that implied the education was to blame, and that ADHD was primarily a non-existent, over diagnosed tool to control and to sell medication.

In the pathology classes I was required to take for my degree, ADHD was skipped over, and I was got the sense, it was unimportant in relation to other childhood disorders.

The thing is,

I wasn’t diagnosed because I was fidgety or inattentive in school, though I certainly was.

I wasn’t diagnosed because I was different learner who needed more time, though I certainly was.

I wasn’t diagnosed because a parent or teacher expressed concern. I know my parents took all my school troubles as personal flaws, and most certainly never expressed concern.

I didn’t slouch at my desk or have any obvious posture issues that would lead a teacher to believe I wasn’t listening.

I wasn’t even diagnosed because someone wanted to control me via medication.

I didn’t  even suspect it.

I was diagnosed because of TESTING.

It turns out my working memory is off the charts awesome.  It was my highest, and most obvious asset in my IQ testing. (thought I must be doing well when her jaw dropped)  I don’t believe that I have some sort of magical power, though I may be better at “chunking” long bits of information into smaller packets than the average bear.

On the other hand, I flunked my processing speed tests.  My  score was well below average. I’m not processing information coming in at the same rate as everyone else. The clinician believes, because most of the things on my mind are inner thoughts, not what is going on around me. That, she told me, is ADHD (without the H)

Stigma and misinformation left me in disbelief.  However, I have come to accept it and educate myself.  I know now that ADHD, like autism, includes the asset of hyper-focus. I know that just about every portrayal of ADHD in the media is inaccurate. While I don’t dismiss that misdiagnosis occurs, it is a real.

Understanding how I think and why that leads to issues that fuel anxiety is good, whatever they want to call it.

She urged me to take medication, as she felt my mind slowed down a bit would help me attend. I consider it now and then, but don’t feel at this time, that I want to take anything. I’ve made it 40 years thinking this way, and I know from previous tries at medications for other troubles (depression, anxiety) I don’t like changing the way my thought process runs.

I like it.

That does not mean, I disapprove of medication, especially if it improves getting by in life. It’s a personal choice.

For me, organization, adequate sleep,  (this is so essential, that I do take medication to help me sleep when needed), remembering meals, keeping a schedule, understanding my conditions and making goals help me achieve and function.

It’s not perfect. Sometimes I’m not organized. Sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes the inertia of depression, executive functioning problems, and anxiety (my main battle) get the best of me.

I just try again.






A Hufflepuff in the Deep, DARK Web of Darkness (Update 4)


It’s time for update four in my week of “Where the hell has Amanda gotten to?” – Updates!

The last update was about my last three months of bad news.

YET, and yet, at the exact same time, things are looking up.

When I see news articles about the “Deep” and or “DARK web,

I get the giggles because the hyperbole is rather thick.

For starters they often confuse “deep” with “dark” and then make it sound like its only for criminals.

I think of Sith Lords.


(Emperor Palpatine in “Return of the Jedi”)

and Finding Nemo.


(Finding Nemo screen cap, Dory, Marlin encountering the lantern fsh. Text reads “Google user in the deep dark web of darkness.”)

Anytime you use a topic specific search engine, site database, search function within a site or archive, or are NOT using popular search engines like google to find information, you are performing a “deep” web search.

If you use software (TOR) to hide your location/internet activity, THAT is dark web. It could be used to nefarious purposes but also for many other reasons including protecting the identities of the average Joe who just doesn’t want tracked, domestic abuse victims, undercover agents, political dissidents and whistleblowers.

Point is, it really aint all that.


(graphic depiction of an iceberg, were most is underwater, text sums up the previous paragraph)

I consider it a challenge to find information other people cannot.  It’s like a puzzle. Finding needles in haystacks of data is personally rewarding and I have done so over the years for free. However, of late I’ve also been paid to do it, which is really really cool. There’s actually a job/career in it. People who get paid to find information are called “Independent Information Professionals.”  Most of that is via “deep” web searches.

It doesn’t make me a Sith Lord, no, I’m

more like a huffelpuff.


(Graphic of “A Very Potter Musical,” several smiling people in robes and yellow ties. Text: “hufflepuff are particularly good finders”)

As my regular readers know, money is almost a continual issue round here. I think the previous update makes that clear.  Yet,  I’ve also had opportunities for this work that have made the future seem much brighter.

I am still blogging here obviously, and still writing on parenting, autism, nature, and learning. That won’t stop.

It will always be important, closest to my heart.




It’s not all roses being a mentally disabled homeowner (Update 3)

It’s a week of Updates.

On Monday we talked literacy and the youngest boy.

Tuesday I mentioned an obsession that’s kept me busy of late.

Now its Wednesday, and I want to share a few things.

One is, a new website to share my stuff, and to hopefully become better organized.

I’ll still be blogging here and primarily using that site to link up to other things.

Previous updates have been fairly happy ones.

Today is going to be mostly sucky so if you’re the sort who finds bad news awkward, slink away now. I won’t think anything less (or ever expect more) of you.

In April, I turned 40, a milestone many dread. Thing is, I was looking forward to it. I really was, until late March came and things fell apart.

One significant problem I have is anxiety, and a feeling overwhelm that occurs when major decisions, or problems arise. I often feel stuck.  I don’t know what to do.My porch roof had been leaking for some time. It took me a very long time to get money together to fix it, then after I had, a problem arose.

Who do I trust to help fix my porch?  The list of names was so overwhelming. Every possible nightmare scenario filled my mind, leaving me STUCK. Two months passed. Someone tried breaking into my house, and a very nice neighbor gave me a lead pipe should I need to defend myself. (like clue, it was Amanda, in the drawing room, with a lead pipe) I asked her about a contractor who could possibly help me.  I called and a week later he called back. A week after that he came over and talked about the repairs. He said he could do it around February once the weather improved. February came and went with no return of my calls and once again I was stuck.

March came and was on its way out when the city served me with a housing violation and a threat of one grand a day fines and jail if I couldn’t pay, plus auctioning my house. Our only home. Over a porch. They gave me three weeks to fix it, though actually four, the notice was a week old when I received it. So I started calling random numbers and the guy who answered/bothered to come out, and make an offer, got the work. Running around and around with the city of Baltimore I finally got everything done and inspected, only to not hear any news on whether it was adequate. The work came to five grand. I had to dip into money designated for the youngest sons medical expenses. (its very tricky meeting income/asset requirements for the boys’ assistance, I’m only allowed to have so much, I still wondering whether I’ll be penalized for doing so)

Meanwhile, a second city agency sent me a notice of lien on my property to be auctioned in early May, because I hadn’t been paying my rental registration fees for several years. This home is not a rental, it is a single family property. The previous owner (now dead) had been renting it out. The fee charges for renewal had been mailed to him for years and though I had no idea of it, I was responsible to somehow know to change it. Once the state contacted that city agency to update my residency status, they took off the fees for this year, but said they couldn’t take any off retroactively, so once again I had to pay if I didn’t want to lose my home.

I had to borrow money to do that, because with the porch repairs my savings had gone (and i’d even had to put off utility bills/go a few days on rice while the children visited their father…)

Then in June my homeowners insurance company decided that even though I’d been with them 20 years, the bad porch made me a liability, and so cancelled my homeowners (no prior notice) It took me a few weeks of phone calls and pictures and inspections to get it back on again.

All of this is because I felt too damn anxious to deal with it earlier. Trust me the city doesn’t give a rats ass if I’m mentally disabled. I’m either supposed to get over it, or not be home owner. It’s assumed if  can manage some aspects of my life, I should have no problems in others. I realize I’m very lucky in many respects, btw.

Lately, my roof has been leaking, and the porch roof has begun again, and I feel very overwhelmed with that. When it rains I go outside and sweep the puddles off.  I stick towels under the dripping ceiling. I wait for the next problem.

Things are looking up in terms of steady work, and life seems to be improving, but things are far from ok.

It makes me NOT a very motivated blogger.

Some people have been really supportive, others, well, sometimes I overestimate/ value people I call friends.

Yet, I’m trying.

There is no giving up.