Bonsai for the Disabled

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Wed May 23, 2012 8:28 pm

I started a thread on this subject years ago, before the Big Meltdown. I know a few of the other members have mentioned being challenged in some way, but for me it has been a major issue the past year or so. I would like to know how others deal with it, like balancing your passion with everyday duties.
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Poink88 on Wed May 23, 2012 8:30 pm

I have no problems (yet) but I know as I get older I might.

How about working with smaller trees? It should be easier, physically at least.

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Steven on Wed May 23, 2012 9:42 pm

Im not sure Im on the right track with this or not, but if you are having trouble doing some things because of a physical or medical issue I would think you could look into finding someone to assist you. There are tons of outreach and volunteer groups through schools and churches where people volunteer to learn a skill or assist others. For example there used to be a program in Ny actually where people could post on a message board (similar to craigslist) something they do or know how to do but need help with, and others could reply if they were interested in helping you in return for learning. Just an idea, hope that helps. You could even reach out to your local schools and colleges to see if they have a horticulture program and any students interested in learning bonsai or assisting you with yours.

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Thu May 24, 2012 1:03 am

izzmogizz wrote:Im not sure Im on the right track with this or not, but if you are having trouble doing some things because of a physical or medical issue I would think you could look into finding someone to assist you. There are tons of outreach and volunteer groups through schools and churches where people volunteer to learn a skill or assist others. For example there used to be a program in Ny actually where people could post on a message board (similar to craigslist) something they do or know how to do but need help with, and others could reply if they were interested in helping you in return for learning. Just an idea, hope that helps. You could even reach out to your local schools and colleges to see if they have a horticulture program and any students interested in learning bonsai or assisting you with yours.

I agree. I helped a friend of mine in the local club with repotting a bunch of trees last year. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's wonderful to learn from people that have been doing it longer than me and that also have MUCH better trees than me. I wish I was closer Iris, I'd help in a heartbeat.

Good luck in your future bonsai adventures. I know this is a wonderful hobby and I am looking forward to being in it for the long haul.
Have a great week, Y'all.
Sam

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Thu May 24, 2012 2:25 am

Poink88 wrote:
How about working with smaller trees?
Of course. These days I am leaning toward shohin bonsai, but they have their own challenges. I still have to get around the yard with the hose.
Iris

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Thu May 24, 2012 2:36 am

izzmogizz wrote:I would think you could look into finding someone to assist you. There are tons of outreach and volunteer groups through schools and churches where people volunteer to learn a skill or assist others. You could even reach out to your local schools and colleges to see if they have a horticulture program and any students interested in learning bonsai or assisting you with yours.
Programs like that exist in the larger cities, but not in Syracuse.
I got a gardener through the Forestry School, but I have to pay him. I can occasionally get help from fellow members of our bonsai club, but not constantly.
Our local high schools have requirements for community service, but it is only through an organization. They do not offer help to individuals.
Catholic Charities has a program of making repairs & alterations for disabled seniors. They upgraded the stair railings on my front entrance & the back porch, & just charged for materials & a nominal donation.
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Bob Pressler on Thu May 24, 2012 2:02 pm

Maybe you could try posting a ad in craigslist or the local pennysaver type thing offering to teach bonsai in exchange for help with your trees.

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Thu May 24, 2012 3:21 pm

Bob Pressler wrote:Maybe you could try posting a ad in craigslist or the local pennysaver type thing offering to teach bonsai in exchange for help with your trees.
Anybody in Syracuse who is interested in learning bonsai is probably someone I already know. There are several members of our club who help out when they can.
However, you have given me some ideas.
The problem I am more concerned with is the moral issue. If you are disabled, but not a world-class artist, how do you divide your limited abilities between bonsai and household obligations? I suspect this is more of an issue for women. If a disabled male bonsai grower has a job, is he still expected to help out around the house? If a female bonsai grower is disabled or retired, she is still expected to perform some household chores, or is she?
One of the problems for the disabled is wiring. I can't do heavy wiring due to arthritis. When I go to workshops, the instructor usually helps with wiring. At home, I occasionally get help from my husband or my bonsai buddies. Has anyone found mechanical tricks to help with wiring? Does doubling lighter wire really work?
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  JimLewis on Thu May 24, 2012 7:33 pm

Well, I'm well retired, so no job interfering here (except struggling with a small horse farm), but my trees have been pretty much neglected this spring because I've had too much else on my mind, as well as being poked, prodded, and otherwise molested by strangers in white coats. Luckily, I only have a very few large trees, because lifting them (or at least carrying them any distance) is pretty much out of the question with my breathing problems.

I'm in a very small community, with few (one other that I know of) bonsai people. My nearest club (which I have not been to in a year is 50 miles away in Asheville.

Lots of things are still getting done around here, but VERY slowly, and bonsai tends to take a back seat.

Thank goodness for an automatic watering system.

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Kev Bailey on Thu May 24, 2012 10:19 pm

Doubling up lighter wires definitely works. The problem is that it takes twice as long, if you are applying them singly. I use double and triple wiring for brittle species, Satsuki's especially. But, so far, my aching knuckles aren't stopping me from doing the two or three wires all at once. Dunno if I would be patient enough to do them individually.

I make no comment on the gender/housework issues!! Touchy subject worldwide, I suspect. :-)

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bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Thu May 24, 2012 10:34 pm

I didn't realize this would become such a lively discussion.
Most bonsai tools come with bare metal handles. There is a rubber dipping sauce you can get at the hardware store for tool handles. It takes numerous dips and is rather time consuming, but it definitely helps arthritic hands. One warning. Once it is opened, use as much of it as possible. It doesn't keep.
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  David Brunner on Fri May 25, 2012 2:45 am

Dear Iris – I feel your pain! (Or so I imagine – if its worse – God Save You!)

I understand trying to take care of Bonsai when simply getting around is about as much effort as one can muster.

I have no truly useful suggestions except perceverance. One of the great joys in my life is caring for those little trees in pots that have persevered with me (in spite of me) for many years. I have the advantage of having a life partner who I can instruct via the windows in quotidian care of my trees. However, things such as trimming and repotting I cannot (or will not) relegate to an avatar – largely because these are the things I save up for and ultimately enjoy!

If you lack someone to help with quotidian chores, I can do little more than encourage you and hope for the best! If this is the case then I hope you will take your knowledge and wisdom and offer it to someone who is interested. In that way, you might spread a love of bonsai with the advantage of providing a “leg up” for their own perhaps fledgling collection.

Please take no offense at this response if it seems somehow off-putting. I only mean to respond to your post in a heartfelt manner, and to indicate that I truly understand your dilemma at providing consistent quality care for trees to which you have dedicated decades!

Yours in Bonsai and in Botany!
David B.

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Fri May 25, 2012 2:57 am

David, thank you for the kind words. Actually, pain is rarely an issue. Problem is mainly, as Jim says, everything is so SLOW. The key to recovery from knee replacement is PT, & I was out of it for an extra month due to a sinus infection. Now I am catching up. I am supposed to start taking methotrexate in a few days & I'm scared stiff.
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  JimLewis on Fri May 25, 2012 12:15 pm

But Iris, these are our "Golden Years."

Pffffft!

Good luck with the methotrexate.

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Fri May 25, 2012 2:29 pm

<< Man is the only animal who blushes. Or needs to. -- Mark Twain>>

Not really true. Have you ever seen an embarrassed dog? His face may not turn red, but that's where we got the term "hangdog air." Our Lab once accidentally hurt the cat while they were playing. He was so mortified he stood there with his head hanging for five minutes until she forgave him.
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Norma on Fri May 25, 2012 2:37 pm

Dear Iris,

My heart goes out to you! I, too, have arthritis and had three major surgeries but my bonsai are like my children and wouldn't consider giving them up. I have sold many at my club auctions and am NOT replacing those that die. The ones I have left are manageable with the help of my son.

One thing I've discovered about my arthritis journey is that the doctors are too willing to dispense pills, sometimes indiscriminately. I'm sure your doctor knows the risk of prescribing methotrexate and I'm sure you have researched the effects of this potent drug.

Take care,
Norma

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  my nellie on Fri May 25, 2012 4:39 pm

Hello to all elderly fellow bonsaists!
I am not yet at the point where taking proper care of my pre-bonsais is too painfull..., but arthritic pains have already started to give me discomfort. Not yet retired but it's coming the next 2-3 years.
However, I do have the advantage of my life partner who is always so ready to help everyone. So I hope in the years to come I will have a helper by God's will!
And I also hope that one or two of my pre-bonsais will reach at a more advanced stage Very Happy

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  JimLewis on Fri May 25, 2012 5:05 pm

bonsaisr wrote:<< Man is the only animal who blushes. Or needs to. -- Mark Twain>>

Not really true. Have you ever seen an embarrassed dog? His face may not turn red, but that's where we got the term "hangdog air." Our Lab once accidentally hurt the cat while they were playing. He was so mortified he stood there with his head hanging for five minutes until she forgave him.
Iris

Well, I think it was actually a comment on the arrant stupidity and arrogance of so much of the human race than a statement of fact.

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  lordy on Fri May 25, 2012 5:29 pm

I too am not far behind. The pain and stiffness is on the increase but not unmanageable yet. I wonder if you might be able to slowly move towards more of a clip and grow method of styling vs. wiring?
Keep at the PT--and keep moving.

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Sat May 26, 2012 1:25 am

Holy cow! I didn't expect such an outpouring. It seems to be a widespread problem.
Pain & stiffness sound more like standard rheumatoid arthritis (which is not what I have). I suggest you take a more aggressive approach before it becomes unmanageable.
I too have a helpful partner, but he has his own life. I can't depend on him too much.
Frequent clipping is more painful than wiring. Also, clip-and-grow alone is not suitable for the North. It is very slow & requires a long growing season. In practice, most of us combine both methods.
I agree some doctors do dispense pills too easily, but I have gotten rid of that kind. My arthritis is the sero-negative inflammatory type. I've already had four joint replacements. The methotrexate is a last resort.
Lidocaine patches are a useful alternative or supplement to pain pills for local joint pain, with fewer side effects.
Hang in there. cheers
Iris

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  dick benbow on Tue May 29, 2012 2:34 pm

greetings to my favorite poster!

When i read your post topic, initially i thought of our wounded veterans. I know several efforts have been made by fly tieing fisherman to include vets. bonsai would be perfect as well. I can no longer handle my beloved two man stuff so i have begun down sizing with shohin. seems tuffer to accomplish them my bigger stuff.

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  JimLewis on Tue May 29, 2012 3:50 pm

seems tuffer to accomplish them my bigger stuff.

YES!

Us little tree makers don't get no respect.

And I think bonsai would be a great therapeutic aid to returning PTSD veterans.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  bonsaisr on Tue May 29, 2012 5:07 pm

Bonsai has not been used much in horticultural therapy, probably because it is too expensive & requires specialized knowledge that most occupational therapists wouldn't have. Most of the disabled vets & other people who are candidates for horticultural therapy would probably not have the financial ability and home surroundings to continue the hobby. The Florida state correctional system does have a bonsai program in one or more prisons, because bonsai is a big industry in Florida & graduates of the program are easy to place in jobs.
I can envision a plan where a large bonsai club or nursery could sponsor a bonsai therapy program in partnership with a VA hospital or other medical facility, helping to provide both supplies & expertise.
I am trying to grow some shohin bonsai, but they are easier to kill than big trees. Sad
Iris


Last edited by bonsaisr on Tue May 29, 2012 5:09 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Add another comment.)

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Joe Hatfield on Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:45 pm

bonsaisr wrote:I didn't realize this would become such a lively discussion.
Most bonsai tools come with bare metal handles. There is a rubber dipping sauce you can get at the hardware store for tool handles. It takes numerous dips and is rather time consuming, but it definitely helps arthritic hands. One warning. Once it is opened, use as much of it as possible. It doesn't keep.
Iris

You can use bicycle handle bar wrap. Assorted Wraps I use this on some of my tools for grip and padding. I have ruined my wrists from rock climbing and other sports and at times I have trouble with doing heavy pruning and lifting ( mostly the day after my wrists and hands ache) I found that the wrap helped to pad the shock that vibrated through my shears and pruners after making hard cuts. Also I started to be more aware of the limitations of certain tools. " Use the right tool for the right job." - My father Joe Hatfield Sr.





Last edited by Joe Hatfield on Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

Post  Poink88 on Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:29 pm

JimLewis wrote:Us little tree makers don't get no respect.
But you do...a lot more than you know or see probably. Wink

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Re: Bonsai for the Disabled

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