One good thing that came out of this was that I wrote my first white paper on the need for fragrance free, non-toxic learning environments, and especially in the Special Needs classrooms, and submitted it to the Assistant District Superintendent, and our local ARC chapter. It was supposed to have been presented to the district staff at the first staff meeting before school was to start. Due to my disability and the teachers love (addiction) to fragrance, I couldn't give it myself. Darce Driscoll was going to read it for me. Darce was the Assistant Super.
And I have to backup again.. You see, while I was fighting all those other battles, normal life was still going on for my son. It was his senior year, and I was trying desperately to be as supportive of him as possible. I wanted to make sure he had a relatively normal year. This was his final year of Lacrosse. While I was able to attend the home games, due to my understanding about ADA accommodations with the School District, I didn't have those contacts for away games. But, it was important to him. So I tried to come up with a plan that would enable me to go to at least some.
The away games that I chose to attend were in Portland. I have family there and I'd at least be able to get a bathroom break. Public restrooms are usually, highly fragrant. TIs just have to hold it. Holding it for 10 hours is out of the question. So, I planned to attend the tournament in the Portland area. I prepared take along food... There are very few places were sensitive people can find safe food, the majority of food in health food stores isn't even safe. I painted up a sign to hang on the back of my chair, to warn fragranced fans away. I wore my face mask. Alex met us in Portland, and we left her car at a family member's house. The first game was in Aloha. Everything was going well. It was a beautiful day. One of the five sunny days they get out of the year, in the valley. We arrived with plenty of time to set up. Alex and I chose a location well away from everyone else on the field. We were upwind of the game and the spectators. We were down on the side of the field t'word the goal, about 50 feet from anybody.We parked all of our stuff there, food, chairs, sun shade... (I'd begun having trouble with being in the sun. It could make me sick.)
I thought, "This is going to work!" I was very pleased. The teams were warmed up and beginning to play. We were having a great time hollering and cheering for Ryan and his teammates. Then some guy walked up from behind us and stood about two feet away from me, up wind. He was a smoker. I tried politely asking him to step away. He responded with a surly, "Why should I." and moved closer so that he was standing directly over me. I was forced to get up and move back, while trying to explain my medical need. He started yelling about how he could stand anywhere that he wanted! It was a free country...blah blah, blah...I was a crazy person,... Blah, blah. " He was waving his arms and storming up and down. Alex collected all our stuff and we found a new spot.
Ryan noticed something was a miss. Ryan is a big kid. He played defense. At half time he came over to see what was wrong. I told him about the guy and pointed him out. Ryan looked over at him. The guy took off. I guess he was scared when he realized that Alex and I weren't just two vulnerable women.... That we knew the players...
The next game was over at Jantzen Beach. We went over there to the complex but discovered there was no way we could even safely get out of the car. So we drove around to the back side, where there was a shopping mall and parked next to the field. We could see a small section of one of the fields where Ryan would be playing. We'd get to watch "parts" of the game.
Well, I'm telling you, wearing that mask was like wearing a sign that says "kick me." Every creep and bully is attracted like I'm magnetic! We got so much crap, nasty comments and harassment it was unbelievable. A guy even came over and pee'd ten feet in front of our car! Facing us! Get this, there were port-a-potties that he walked right by to do it! I honked the horn and told him to knock it off. He threatened to come over and rape us! I never back down, and had dealt with all kinds of crude bullies while working construction, so I opened the car door, took a step t'word him and said, "Try it. See how far you get!" I looked him straight in the eye. If he thought he was going to lay a hand on my daughter, I'd take him out. He thought better of it and scurried away. We returned home from that trip exhausted! There were obviously some aspects of being disabled I hadn't considered.
While the mask filtered about 80% of the inhaled toxins, it was like a veritable "creep homing beacon." On several occasions, when I had tried going to less fragrant stores by myself, people, both men and women, would come up and say the most horrible things to me. They would pin me against the displays by the horrendous level of their stench and insult me or make derogatory remarks. One couple, trapped me by the cheese cooler one time and talked to each other about me like I was a cur in the gutter. The worst part was that the mask made little children cry. I was a teacher, I love little kids. So, I thought if I made a pretty mask it would get a little better. I made a yellow silk one with French silk embroidered flowers. That worked for the little kids, and most of the mean adults. I was still having trouble with the really bigoted ones. Later, I reasoned that if peacocks and butterflies used eyes to disarm their predators, maybe I could too. I cross-stitched one with peacock tail feathers. It works great!
I spent the rest of that summer fighting with Voc. Rehab. and the Oregon Employment Division. The Oregon Employment Division decided that I was too disabled for work, so they declined to pay me any unemployment benefits. This was at the same time Mary Thomlinson, the Regional Director of Voc. Rehab. was claiming I didn't qualify as disabled. Social Security Disability stated that I was one term shy of qualifying and my husband made too much money for supplemental... Coud I have gotten any more screwed? Yep. I did.
I finally got through Voc. Rehab. by determining that I would write and illustrate books. I know all kinds of crap about all kinds of things and I'm a credible artist. I got a Writer's Guide, read the whole thing, highlighted it, tabbed it, color coded it. There were a couple of dozen areas that I was qualified to write in and a wide selection of publishers. Then I wrote up a business plan and, because Mary Thomlinson insisted, saying I didn't have the brain power to write one, I submitted it to the Small Business Women's Center at our local community college for a critical review. They told me it was the best they'd ever read and completed in the most impressive amount of time. I think they submitted that as a cover letter to Ms. Thomlinson. I exited the program and began my first round of submissions. I encountered two road blocks, that were insurmountable at that time. First off, I couldn't access shipping. The post office, and UPS were horribly fragrant. Ron, had his plate full and I needed to find ways to earn a living that didn't increase his burden. Every time I attempted to ship the submissions myself, I got exposed, and hurt. I kept trying to work out accommodations for that one. The second, was worse. They required their writers to do publicity engagements. They would not consider a writer, such as myself, who required fragrance free publicity events. Through out this whole experience one thing stood out very clearly. The discrimination, due to ignorance was enormous! I'd figured out the only way this was going to get better, for myself and the 15% of the population that the research I read so far, said had this disability, was to educate the general population. I wrote an article for the paper and I gave mini seminars to any person that I had contact with.
Any way, '04 rolled around into '05 and somewhere in there the Voiles sold their place. I was pretty over whelmed. I was still running irrigation water, working sheep, training horses and dodging air planes. This year Bellinger was farming a field directly behind me against the north half of my west fence. It was the field the boys were in. That would be the bull, Bully woolly, the ram, Rambo, the stud llama, Brax and the altered llama, Sonny. I called Jack Bellinger again and reminded him, he assured me they were only applying fertilizer and he'd call if they applied chemicals. I pretty much didn't know about the Voiles selling until Kim called me and told me that she'd explained about me to the new buyer and they were fine with that.
I didn't hear anything from the new buyers until lambing season. As I recall, this lambing season was especially difficult. my ewes were having severe mineral dificiencies and I'd had to have the vet out for emergency calcium pushes in the night. During lambing season, I'd get up and check ewes every 2 hours, around the clock. Well, we had some strange problems that year, that I'd never seen before. We also were having triplets and quads out of sheep that should only have been giving twins. I was dog tired, but when I got the call from the new neighbors, I was willing to help out. The first thing I asked them was if they knew about my disability. They assured me they knew all about it. Then she jumped right to the reason that she called. She was having lambing problems, could I come help? I asked if she was fragrance free and she said both she and her husband were. They weren't, but I always try to be cordial about educating people for the next time.
Anyway, they had a lamb stuck tight. I went over to help. It was stuck alright. And dead. It had been there a good while. I asked Tammy if she had some old towels so we could dry it off and get a better grip. As soon as she went in the house, Albert let me know that he'd be more than happy to come over anytime when Tammy or my husband weren't home, to help me with, "things." O.k., what do you say to that?! I thought, "I just got propositioned!" Its not like its a frequent occurance. Maybe I was mistaken...He could have been smiling suggestively, or maybe that's what he normally looked like... I aimed for innocuous misundertanding and replied with, "oh, I think it would be much better if you only came over when Ron is home. That way the two of you can be friends." I smiled politely. Tammy came back at that point, but I could tell I'd pissed him off. Dang, I've never been good at diplomacy. Anyway, I showed them how to remove a stuck lamb, inserted an antiseptic bolus I brought and educated them on chemical sensitivity.
Tammy was actually someone that I knew. She's the church secretary at Oasis, a church that I had been meeting for a prayer group in for a couple of years. I thought we were going to be friends, despite her husbands strange behavior... Little did I know I would come to refer to them as "The Evils."