For Knitters (Or Friends Who Might Knit For You)

IMG_0240There’s a great yarn store in Soho, New York City.

IMG_0238Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to access if you use a wheelchair.  (Keep reading for the GOOD news.)  I find the sidewalks in this part of the city crowded (all those shoppers maybe?), more narrow than midtown, dabbled with cobblestones, and sporting stingy curb cuts. Purl Soho is one of the many stores in Soho that are in old buildings and have one or two entrance steps.  They do, however, have a ramp, and if you call in advance, the very-obliging salespeople will put it out for you. Beware though: the aisles are tight for a wheelchair, and I don’t honestly think a wheelchair could make it back to the (quite alluring) fabric section of the store.

city-cape-600-23-554x441The good news is that you don’t have to physically go to the store to get some of their great (free! downloadable!) patterns.  Check out this free poncho pattern I picked up there that I’m going to make for Marianne.  Ponchos work better for Marianne than down coats – just as warm, far less bulky, and easier to put on/take off alone.

garter-stitch-cardigan-vest-600-3For the same reason, Marianne loves vests (as opposed to sweaters).  They conserve body temperature very nicely without a lot of fuss.  Loved this pattern from Purl Soho;  you can download it for free.






I like this one, too.  (Although I think I might be afraid of the zipper….)zipvestflat

Important note, though.  If you are a knitter, search for patterns on The Purl Bee (a site operated by Purl Soho), because it is dedicated to the yarn-and-crochet sort of fiber arts folk.  Both sites are treasure troves of ideas, patterns, and materials.

Happy knitting….or dreaming of knitting.

A Potpourri of Accessibility Bad Behavior

Winter is coming, and with it, there will be lots of bad behavior in the Boston area.  I’ll get ahead of the season with an early rant.  Here are some things that make me scratch my head in puzzlement (on a good day) and bring on that fractious feeling (on a not-so-good-day).

Misleading signage.  Like this supposedly ADA-compliant bathroom at the Boston Athanaeum.

Supposedly ADA-compliant bathroom at the Boston Athanaeum

Supposedly ADA-compliant bathroom at the Boston Athanaeum

What is accessible about this bathroom?  I’ll tell you.  Absolutely nothing.  A little baby wheelchair could not even begin to fit in this room.  The lack of grab bars add insult to injury.IMG_0004



The promise of accessibility.  Route 9 in Newton has undergone a transformation over the past year, with shopping opportunities galore.  The plaza that includes Wegman’s has a fully-accessible parking area, complete with more accessible parking spaces than you could want; clear, wide sidewalks; a myriad of curb cuts; and an accessible, pedestrian walkway across Route 9 over to The Mall at Chestnut Hill.  But, oops.   If you use a wheelchair, you hit a full-on dead end…. with all that glittering allure of Bloomie’s just about out of reach.  The developers of both of these malls must have spent tens of millions of dollars designing and building these respective spaces, and they got so so close to getting it right.   They need to finish the job.

The Mall, Chestnut Hill, Newton

The Mall, Chestnut Hill, Newton

The “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” Phenomena.  Here are two examples of perfectly accessible spaces that have been made inaccessible by the placement of pretty things for you to buy (in the Whole Foods case) and trash barrels (Walgreen’s, below).IMG_0005
IMG_0007In both parking lots, there are plenty of spaces, there is good signage, and there are ramps and curb cuts.  In the Whole Foods parking lot though, a wheelchair user must navigate through the parking lot upon exiting the door.  Yes, there are yellow pedestrian lines in the lot, but you take your life in your hands competing with the harried drivers.  It’d be much safer to be able to stay on the sidewalk for as long as possible.  Or hey, maybe just go to Wegman’s, because they are an ADA-compliant dream.

And in the “What Were They Thinking?” category we have the Atria, a big assisted living facility in Quincy, with three designated handicapped-parking spaces.  Yup, three, for a facility which serves a population with the median age of about 87.  In the five years in which we have been visiting my aunt there on a regular basis, I think Marianne and I have scored the designated handicap-accessible spot exactly four times.  We have A LOT of competition for these three spots.  And to top it all of, there is no curb cut for the Outback, where we usually wind up parking.  What were they thinking?

Atria Marina Bay, Quincy

Atria Marina Bay, Quincy

Maybe they weren’t.  And that’s my point:  please think outside the box and consider the needs of all your visitors, whether they be wheeling a chair, pushing a carriage, navigating with a walker or a cane, or lugging along an oxygen tank.   We’re everywhere.

Some Peace And Quiet In Cambridge

Hushed footsteps on marble floor, soft murmurs among the wooden pews, dim light reflecting a simple space.  Morning service at the Monastery of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (a monastic community of the Episcopal Church) can set the tone for the day, and the chapel is beautifully accessible.  Street parking along Memorial Drive, at least at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning, was not a problem.  Here’s the worship schedule.  The chapel is open all day, and the monks lead five prayer services daily, including late-night Compline.

All are welcome.  It’s worth a visit, if you are so inclined.IMG_3252

A Good Day At The Boston Athanaeum And A Bad Cup Of Coffee

A really old book bound in human skin AND a wheelchair-accessible venue near the Freedom Trail and the Boston Common in downtown Boston.  What more could you want for a day’s outing?

DSC03627The Boston Athanaeum, 10 1/2 Beacon Street in Boston, was packed to the gills today, at the first open house they’ve had in years.  Five-plus floors of books, art and reading and writing space comprise this National Historic Landmark building.  The library, founded in 1807, is private, although anyone can join by paying an annual membership fee  (individual or family, varies from $200 to $320).  The Athanaeum is accessible by ramp from Beacon Street, and every floor available to members is accessible by elevator.


Park Street station is about a five-minute walk from the Boston Atheneum.

There are a couple of ADA-parking spaces around the corner on Park Street (outside the Paulist Center), although I imagine you are more likely to win the lottery than land one of these downtown parking spaces.  The Park Street MBTA station is wheelchair-accessible, and the short walk or roll up Park Street and around the corner to the library is accessible.  Beware, though, you’re in for a bumpy ride on these Beacon Street sidewalks:  DSC03639

Old Pat The Independent BeggarThe library offers regular guided tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays; reservations are required.  You might see us tucked into a cozy nook called the Deborah Burnheimer Room….along with two, inviting red leather arm chairs, an enchanting view onto the Granary Burying Ground, and “Old Pat The Independent Beggar” gazing mournfully upon us from his gold-embossed frame on the wall.



Just don’t try to begin or end your day with a coffee from the Thinking Cup, serving Stumptown coffee, on Tremont Street.  Technically the cafe is wheelchair accessible – you can roll in from the street entrance – but once inside you’re trapped in a narrow path that ends in a logjam for wheelchairs at the register and take-out counter.  And yes, there’s a hip vibe, but the coffee is unreliable.  I’ve had one great latte there and then today, one terrible one (that found its way into the trash at the Park Street T station).  I am thinking that at their prices, every cup of coffee at the Thinking Cup should be a superb one AND that the owners need to re-think their accessible traffic flow.