Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Violets Are Edible

Yesterday, I had 4 visitors, and was very happy that the rain stopped and Syd and I could get outside in the sun.  The violets are plentiful this year, and my friend Jeanne picked me a bowl.  Last night I had them in place of jam on toast.  They were quite tasty.  They look so pretty in a Fiesta fruit bowl!

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Wall

A movie from the library called The Wall is a movie I highly recommend.  I saw it last night before bedtime and of course it had great effect on my dreams.  Movies like The Wall are a bit like travel.  Chances are, I won't ever travel to the Austrian countryside, so this was the next best thing!  There is breathtaking scenery and self dialogue that is reminiscent of Walden II.  The film was the winner of The Berlin International Film Festival.  I would place it at the top of my "doomer movie" list which I am told falls into the category of disporic fiction by one of "my librarians" who has taken courses in the subject.
  Today, I turn my attention to unfinished paintings...that is paintings that I started last summer when I was working on Everything's Peachy.  Perhaps my paintings fall into a "disporic" painting  category.  Certainly, this morning EIEIO has that feel to it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ebay Auctions Up And Running!

It was like pulling teeth to do these on my old computer, and equally frustrating to try to launch auctions from the Library.  Even though the Score is an old score, my eBay signature should take you to my auctions if you are interested in looking at them.

.Concha's Cauldron my daily web blog
 My eBay username skymetalsmith( 333)

  I spent the morning sifting and sorting files from my file cabinets.  It is all part of the annual spring cleaning effort.  I always feel better after I get my filing done:) 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tree Model

This tree stands all alone in a vacant lot downtown near the rail road tracks.  I admire it each time I go to the grocery store (Lil Bear).  It seems perfect for my painting EIEIO which is begging me to get back to in spite of all else on my pallet!  Why put an imaginary tree in that painting when such a stately model is patiently waiting for me to notice it?  I remember trees such as this in Perryton.  They are vanishing at an astonishing rate.

Friday, April 25, 2014


I snagged this review from The Huffington Post email synopsis of the news today.  Both Elizabeth Warren and Thomas Piketty have best sellers right now according to Huffington Post.  Their messages are very similar.  Here is the quote the post used today, and I look forward to our library ordering it, so I can read it.  I want to read both books.  I had already been familiar with Elizabeth Warren, and I expect to do a more thorough review on her book as soon as I can see more of it.

  I really don't need to be educated on these astonishing truths about our economics being rigged.  Capitalism is violent, evil, and seamless.  They use terms like rigged against the middle class.  That is a nice way of putting it I think!  Sometimes it is helpful though to read and hear others spin on my own observations.  It works a bit like singing a hymn along with others.  We resonate when we sing hymns.  Here is the Piketty quote.

"Based on analysis of over 200 years' worth of economic data from 20 countries, Capital argues that unfettered capitalism will inevitably lead to extreme income inequality. If world leaders are unwilling to shrink the widening gap by, say, imposing a global wealth tax or other mechanisms, the rich will continue to grow richer, leaving the rest of society behind. As Piketty explained on HuffPost Live last week, this could cause capitalistic societies to revert back to the economic conditions of the 18th and 19th centuries".

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mountain Heart

These guys are awesome.  I caught them on WOSU Bluegrass Underground.  Who would have thought to rock out in a cave?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Hope This Is Her

The writing I am attempting about the history of my home town is coming along.  I found a picture of Elizabeth Glasscock Lemert, the woman who founded Perryton Ohio.  I hope this is her.  I can't imagine writing such a book without pictures of the people who I am writing about!  I was just about to settle for art of the time, when I decided to turn to, and this may be the very same Elizabeth Glasscock from the early 1800's.  She is exactly like I imagined her to be.  Perryton has a facebook page.  Perhaps Elizabeth will be on facebook!  So far I have written some of part three and have made a beginning on part one which I will place here just in case I don't live long enough to see the end of my own book!  Concha's Cauldron has always been about my ancestry, and it would not be complete without writing about the town that my Grandmother O'Flaherty, her parents (McKee's,Anderson's, Robinson's), then her grandchildren lived...and some of them buried in the cemetery.  Some of them are buried in nearby cemeteries.

The little town of Perryton Ohio was not always named Perryton. Originally, the town name was Elizabethtown which was founded by Elizabeth Glasscock Lemert. We can assume that Elizabeth Glasscock had a history prior to her marriage to Lewis Lemert Jr. but that will be for feminist scholars of the future to uncover. For now, like many of the pioneer women, their lives become visible only after marriage. We do know that she was 8 years younger than her husband, and not a Quaker. It is written that Mr. Lemert was expelled from the Quaker church as a result of this union.

Much of the writing about the Lemert Family and what we know about Elizabeth Glasscock Lemert comes from a small book The Lemert-Montgomery Saga compiled by Elenore J. Weber and The History of Perryton & Vicinity by Jesse Montgomery. Doris Barrick and Vinetta Moran are two other Perryton historians who have contributed much to this account. This book has largely been compiled from the work of Daniel Fleming author of the local Licking Valley Ledger, records from The Licking County Genealogy Society

I think it is important to note that the Lemert family was not the first to inhabit the land we now call Perryton. There were people living there prior to the Lemerts migration from Virginia. Artifacts of Native Americans are still being unearthed in the spring plowed fields surrounding that area, and we can assume that they were driven out by the practices of colonial America as was the case in those times. Flint Ridge and Black Hand Gorge would be “vicinity” enough to include those legends prior to the purchase of the Lemert land. The well known legend of Billy Dragoo would not have been unknown to them, as he is buried in 1856 at Pleasant Grove cemetery (Briar Cliff Road) on Dragoo Road a couple miles from the sleepy little town. The Billy Dragoo story is very well documented in The Hanover Story by Henry b. Scott and Karl J. Skutski, Hanover was settled in 1801 and is approximately 6 miles South East of Perryton. Certainly the Lemert family knew the story of Billy Dragoo, and it is almost certain that she arrived at a time when Indian settlements were moving on.

In 1817 Elizabeth Glasscock Lemert sent two of her seven children to purchase Ohio land. Mr. Lemert died in 1816 and his will stated that the money from his estate be used to purchase that land, so that his wife and family could pursue Elizabeth’s dream to go West. Laban and Beverly Lemert came to Ohio from Virginia to purchase the land while Elizabeth and the rest of the family stayed in Virginia to settle the state and prepare for their journey. It is recorded that this estate contained 288 acres of property as well as the sale of his businesses which included a grain mill, distillery, general store. Also the sale of two slaves Dick and Nat. The Lemert boys built a log cabin as soon as they purchased the land, and Elizabeth, Thaddeus, Leroy, Minerva, Ferdinand, and Abner migrated a year later guided by a Mr. Evans to lead them across the mountains to their destination. The trip took 10 days.

After building the log cabin and presumably with the whole family together, a kiln was constructed to make brick and tiles for a brick house that was constructed in just a few months after their arrival. This dwelling still stands today as a testament to their collective abilities and perseverance. That year following the departure of Laban and Beverly, must have a been a busy one for the rest of the Lemert family, for it was only about a year that the Lemert family packed up a covered wagon, several horse and cattle-drawn wagons with all their worldly possessions and headed west to pursue the new American dream.

They wasted little time it seems and once arrived plotted out the rest of the town that was later to be named Elizabethtown. Church was held in the original house (and singing lessons?), while a meeting house, barns for the cattle and the cemetery were plotted out. The Methodist Church that was built is just a few yards away from the original house, and later a second church was erected, but has since been replaced and perhaps relocated.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Old Pictures On Google

Yesterday, I spent the morning transferring pictures and documents from my flashdrives.  I am in need of photos to go along with the book I am writing, so I spent some time googeling the characters I am writing about.  In anticipation that I won't find pictures of everyone, I snapped some pictures of antiques, relics, and artifacts.  When I came across this old photo of these women quilting, I realized I have a quilt that is very much like the one they are working on in the picture.  I call my quilt the Perryton quilt because I am not sure if it comes from the McKee or O'Flaherty side of my family.  A librarian helped me locate the pattern in a quilt book, and I believe it is called Irish Chain.  My Grandmother who is both a McKee and O'Flaherty did not recognize it.  It came from the house she grew up in.  Without any signatures or markings, we may never know.  It very well could have came from Ireland, or Scotland. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Am Upgraded!

I spent a couple hours at the Licking County Computer Society today, and I got my new refurbished computer.  It works great.  It is going to take a while for me to figure everything out.  Happy Easter Everyone!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today Is The Day

Last weekend I did 10 hours work exchange for a refurbished computer.  The one I picked was a gateway that looks similar to the one pictured above.  So hopefully by tomorrow morning I will be up and running.  I put all my music, pictures, and documents on flashdrives.  This computer has lots more memory than the one I have been babying along.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Basket For Syd The Cat!

Syd loved Graveysations!  I noticed today that the packaging is in Easter colors!  This was a gift from Piper, Syd s favorite friend right now.  He even eats his treat from Fiesta fruit bowls!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Ever Happened To Dinner And A Movie?

Last weekend there were over 100 reports of drive by shootings here in Newark.  Lots of vehicle damage, and it turns out, it was teenagers.  Well...almost.  There was a 20 year old involved.  The juvenile girl that was involved was 17.  I can tell you this, when I was 17, my parents would have forbid me to date a 20 year old!  I spent the morning looking at all the news regarding this shooting spree, and no one has reported that the weapon has been recovered.  There is a third suspect, and I will be curious to know how old he, or she is.  My local neighborhood watch was all over this story.  There isn't anything like that that happens in my neighborhood that doesn't get reported, and scrutinized.  I have friends in other neighborhoods that do not have a strong neighborhood watch group though.  With so much crystal meth and heroin being consumed, it isn't any wonder that there are not more of these incidents.  I take heart in knowing that lots of my neighbors are getting home surveillance.  The two suspects were from Frazeysburg and Nashport.  I have to wonder why they had to come all the way into Newark for their escapade?  When I was 17, and driving around Newark, the big deal was driving around "the square" or Frisches.  We all had bb guns.  It never occurred to us that driving to Newark and shooting out car windows would be fun.  What ever happened to dinner and a movie?  There have been several robberies and thefts near Whites Field.  Apparently the alley behind church street is a cesspool of criminal activity being practiced openly.  The gas stations, Circle K all have surveillance cameras.  It wouldn't take too much ingenuity to put some of those cameras pointed to the back alley where this is happening.  It is only a few blocks from the police station.  What a shame! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Syd Goes Shabby Chic

Syd is happily in his outside this morning as I write.  He was not happy yesterday, and kept going to the other door in hopes that somehow, it would take him to a more acceptable outside environment.  We are getting ready to paint.  He reminds me in this photo that black cats go with any color of the rainbow, as he poses in front of the vintage and collectable fiestaware.  I have several pieces of vintage Fiesta up for auction on eBay this month.  Please check out my auctions when you have time.  It was like pulling teeth to get them up and running.  I anticipate that it will be easier to post after Saturday when we get our new refurbished Gateway computer.  Since the Gateway is black, should Syd decide to pose on top of it, he may become invisible:)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Of My Favorite Paintings In Our Library

One of my favorite paintings in the Licking County Public Library is this painting that is located near the circulation desk on the main floor.  I haven't found the artists signature on it, and am curious to know more about it.  I am ready to start my series of historic buildings paintings in our county.  It had been my intention to capture our historic Childrens Home the day the wrecking ball came to demolish it.  I missed those photos by a day!
There are several old buildings marked with a white X in a red box signs that I am told are slated for demolition.  The Ohio Arts Council has given me a grant to replace my camera and start the painting series I had in mind.  Two of my neighbors have gifted me with paint that I would have had to wait to purchase, and my Perryton Story is started and pointing to the "small town America in collapse".  It is all coming together like puzzle pieces for me.  My own Grandmother seems to be an a state of neglect and collapse and I feel powerless and saddened by the senselessness of it all.  The art therapist in me wants to paint these things for you.  The writer in me wants to describe these things for you...and so I will.  The scientific part of my brain wonders if there may be a parallel to this small town  and civilization collapse and colony collapse disorder (vanishing bees), and I am wondering as an artist activist how I can bring that front and center somehow...someway.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Heisey Glass Company

This weekend I helped recycle computers at the old Heisey Glass Factory.  Not much of the original building is apparent in my photo.  I have a few pieces of Heisey in my collection, and may try to sell them on eBay when I get my new camera (after I get my Arts Council Grant).  Because of my poverty level, I worry that if something would happen to me, and I can't get back home for awhile, my stuff would be put the curb.  I better sell it while I am able.
  Next to the old Heisey factory is Hollophane.  I can remember field trips to the bottle factory.  Owens Corning is also near these old sites.  Silica must have been plentiful.  People used the natural resources of the time.  Canals were built.  Railroads were built around the commerce. 
There is a story about Newark around 1910 where 89% of the county was for prohibition, and voted to close the 88 taverns in Newark.  Even with that sort of support, it would have harmed the bottle plant (local economy) which was one of the largest in the country.  Somehow, even though the people voted to close the taverns, 87 of the taverns reopened within two weeks.  I would guess that prohibition was counterproductive:)
  It may just be the very same scenario with hemp and medical marijuana.  Old timers will tell you, that hemp rope was (hands down) the best rope ever made.  Hemp grew plentiful in Licking County, and the criminalization of growing it hurt the economy no doubt.  I would guess our county could pay off the national debt by the legalization of hemp and medical marijuana.  Who would it harm?  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Got A Grant For 2014

Yesterday, after my 10 hours volunteer stint with the local computer society,  I got word in the mail that I am going to receive a grant this year.  I had come to a standstill on most of my projects, but had taken on writing a book about Perryton Ohio.  The Ohio Art Council is going to fund my painting series, replace my disabled camera, and hopefully the grant will cover some of my travel expenses as I interview key persons in relation to the book.  I was out of the crucial colors I need to proceed with the historic paintings I had started when I was painting Everything's Peachy.  Last week I helped "broker" a car that was disabled and sitting out on my street, and to my surprise received a gift for Hobby Lobby from a grateful neighbor.  I bought two colors of acrylic paint, and some beads for my feathers that will go on my American Dream Catcher.  I bought a detail brush that will help me finish the paintings.  My computer will be upgraded with a refurbished computer that we took in at our recycling event, and in 4 weeks I should up and running full speed with nothing holding me back.  It has been a long haul.
Two years ago, I was halfway to getting a computer, with 10 hours volunteer time at Freegeek in Columbus.  The program closed before I could finish.  Yesterday was the finish line on that project.  It has been frustrating to try to make an old computer with little memory capacity work with the tasks I have been given.  Like "pullin teeth" as the saying goes to alunch eBay auctions!  I broke my camera last April, and began the process of writing the grant to replace it.  It takes a while to do these simple things while my peers just go out and buy what they need when they need it.  I have survived on a grant in 2012, and in kind donations.  I am anxious to get back into the mode, gather momentum and finish all the projects that I have started and that I know I can complete.  It is my perseverance that wins out, no matter the odds.  Thank you Art Council for all you do.  Thank you friends and neighbors for your in kind donations and your enthusiastic support.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recycle Event

The Licking County Computer Society is holding a recycling event this weekend 9-4 Friday and Saturday.  It is located at the old Heisey Factory off Oakwood, off E. Main, and over the RR tracks, right next to Hollophane Glass.  I had never been to the old Heisey Factory, and I am looking forward to my volunteer time, so I can poke around the building a little more.  I would love to see where the kilns and old furnaces were. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Perryton Quilt

Yes it is tattered!  This is a quilt that was on our bed throughout my childhood.  I had three sisters at that time and we traded off bedspreads.  I remember it well.  It could be from the McKee/O'Flaherty side of my ancestry, or from the Hendershot/ side which would be Braid/Patton/Hendershot.  Women with maiden names and such were the ones who constructed these "blankets".  How can we know who exactly had her hand in this abd what was her hands name when she was sewing?  Maybe DNA will save me in the future of tracking this quilt down.  Anyway, I have it. I love it, but it needs tender loving care that is beyond my reach.  What should I do?  
I escaped calamity in Columbus with this quilt only because I packed them up with the rest of my blankets and bedding.  They are with me in spite of my enemies attacks and attempts to "disarm" me.  When I have a landlord or girlfriend that just doesn't care about my "belongings", it seems like an attack on my ancestry.....artifacts of MY ancestry that is.  The disregard for MY STUFF includes the stuff of my ancestors.
While I consider myself an artist in every way.....every day, I don't discount the ones who came before me.  My metal quilt was a response to my own heritage/  My own grandmother did not undrstand the need or art in a metal quilt, but after all, we just called them "blankets".

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If We Rebuild It, They Will Come Back

This house is at 360 Front Street in Bath Maine.  I can tell you that when I lived in a small apartment there, that it didn't look like this.  It is now a thriving bed and breakfast.  Somewhere in my picture collection I have a photo of this place.  It was efficiency apartments, so my living room was also my bedroom.  It was in a state of disrepair, but the location was primo as it overlooked the Kennebeck River.  Front Street led to Bath Iron Works the 3rd Largest Shipyard in the country at the time.  
I began writing Part Three of the Story Of Perryton, and have also started Part One.  Here is a preview of that book just in case I don't live long enough to publish it.

                                                           Part Three
 “The future is made up of all the now’s” a wise woman in my head keeps telling me.  I want to believe her in spite of what I see, and what I suspect.  I remember the town when it was vibrant and filled with activity.  The last time I was there it seemed like a ghost town.  Indeed for me, it is a town of ghosts.  When I go there to visit I feel like a ghost.  I feel like I am haunting and intruding on the senseless collapse and decay.  Not enough of us who remember are able to bring it back to life.

The graveyard increases in size while trees diminish.  I remember the town as shady.  Trees cooled us in the summertime, and dazzled us with their color and spectacle in the fall.  And when the trees lost their leaves the gray foggy night sky became a backdrop for Halloween and hunting season.  The wind blew and the naked limbs creaked their eerie protest.  Icy snowstorms left wondrous crystal glistening on the bare branches that shown like diamonds in the filtered sunlight.  I grieve the loss of the trees that I knew in Perryton.  Perhaps the most empowering thing to do in face of that sort of despair is to plant trees for the future.  I have no claim to any part of the land in that town, so planting trees would not only be peculiar, but probably against some law.  I grieve the loss of the people I knew that loved and cared for the town, and the school I attended. My personal abandonment of the town causes me sorrow and a feeling of powerlessness.

What can I do now that would help resuscitate that pretty, lonely little town?  I was long gone by the time that Longaberger basket factory came on the scene.  Everybody put all their eggs in one basket is what I thought at the time and continue to think.  Baughman’s park, changed hands, another golf course, promise of a theme park, and jobs galore.  It happened for awhile.  Perryton was left behind during that time, and out of the big picture of success.  Three miles away Frazeysburg can boast of a active gas station, an IGA, Dairy Queen, Two Banks, Pizza Joint and even a Dollar Store.  Frazeysburg is on the main drag, and Perryton is not.  Fifteen miles north is Martinsburg an Amish town.  It is a tourist destination and its economy is stable.  Perryton could capitalize on some of that traffic and commerce.  I could see a car wash,  gas groceries specializing in local and Amish products.  Hunting supplies, Tractor, and Farm store would do well there.  City hunters who are inexperienced would need to shop there in anticipation of tagging and processing their anticipated trophy.  I could envision a thriving taxidermy business in that town.  The summer should bring pickup trucks full of fresh produce to sell to travelers and townsfolk.  Every town needs a local mechanic, and while we’re at it, a car dealership for those unfortunate souls trapped way out there with an non-reparable vehicle who can afford to buy a replacement. 

Any of this could happen, but will it?  Will it be in time?  Computer jobs, Internet, and keeping up with sedentary tasks will not bring back this town.  Social networking could inspire, but will not do the actual physical labor that would have to be done to bring back Perryton.  Small town America is also in collapse.  The wholesome landscape of these towns are slated for Fracking, and depleting what is left from the days of the oil boom.  Inevitably the water (The Big Engine) will be contaminated.  Methlabs are the modern version of the bootlegging days.  The soulless beings that participate in Crystal Meth only add to the momentum of this erosion and rapid collapse.  Indeed, they are tearing the place down, faster than it could be rebuilt!  Perryton still stands, only a whisper of what it once was, and a promise with much work of what it could become.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

People Collectors

 I started subscribing to a newsletter called Disability Intersection (
This article gives voice to the abuse that I have witnessed pretty much all my life.  It goes unchecked around here, as Newark Ohio is the home of a very large medical cult, protected by a municipal court system that is masonic, and an indifferent public.

‘People Collectors’ Use Disabled People Like ATMs

Content note: this piece discusses graphic details of caregiver abuse for the purpose of examining the scope and nature of abuse inflicted by people entrusted with the lives of disabled people who need assistance to complete tasks of daily living. Some of it may be disturbing. Be advised that linked stories contain explicit details. 
Impairments can be highly variable in nature. Some allow people to live more or less completely independently, while others necessitate more interdependent relationships, and others require regular supportive care. Disabled people with with impairments that require some level of support are uniquely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and, thanks to social attitudes, they’re devalued by the people around them — including the representatives of the very government agencies that are supposed to protect them.
The United States is experiencing an epidemic of caregiver abuse, a problem that extends to the elderly community in addition to the disabled community, and it’s a problem that’s not just limited to US shores. One of the most sinister forms this abuse takes is that of the so-called ‘people collector,’ the people who take caregiver abuse to an entirely new and horrific level. In 2011, for instance, the Tacony dungeon case attracted international headlines, but the most disturbing thing about that case may not have been the suffering endured by four captives trapped in a basement for almost a decade — rather, the true horror lay in how many cases just like it haven’t been discovered yet.

Caregiver abuse itself is bad enough, including the routine physical and emotional abuse of people living in supported care, institutions, or at home. It can come from family members, partners, nurses, and orderlies, and may continue for weeks, months, or years until it’s identified — sometimes too late for the victim, as caregiver abuse and neglect can be fatal.
However, there’s an aspect to the Representative Payee Program that’s immensely flawed: there’s no guarantee that the payee herself won’t abuse the client receiving benefits, and herein lies a significant flaw and loophole for exploitation.
People collectors, however, bring this to an entirely new level, taking advantage of the physical, cognitive, or intellectual impairments that may make it difficult to navigate society and exploiting people for their benefits cheques. Social Security’s Representative Payee Program allows people other than the named beneficiary to collect Social Security cheques, on the grounds that someone may not be able to manage her money effectively or may need assistance with basic tasks like going to the bank, picking up prescriptions, and so forth. Other benefits programmes, including food assistance, regional assistance, and so forth, also provide similar payment designation options.
On the surface, they may seem logical; a disabled person might opt for a representative payee to make it easier to get tasks accomplished if she has limited mobility or has difficulty handling money, for example. A person with cognitive impairments might not have the skills to manage a bank account, or someone with a severe brain injury might be at risk of financial exploitation, so having a financial representative can help reduce the risks of being financially abused.
However, there’s an aspect to the Representative Payee Program that’s immensely flawed: there’s no guarantee that the payee herself won’t abuse the client receiving benefits, and herein lies a significant flaw and loophole for exploitation. It was seen in the Tacony dungeon case, where Linda Weston and four accomplices kept disabled victims in deplorable conditions in their basement, collecting their benefits cheques all the while. The victims were discovered in an extreme state of malnutrition, with obvious signs of physical abuse, including forced prostitution.
Sakinah Robertson was discovered lying in her own waste, tied to a bed. The officers responding initially thought she was dead, due to her state of extreme emaciation and obviously poor condition. Sandra Choates exploited Robin Cullins, seizing her victim’s benefits cheques to go on spending sprees while Cullins lived in filthy, horrific conditions in a house filled with maggots and rats. Frances Lowry, an elderly woman with low vision, was exploited by her nephew. In all these cases, the victims were left to their own devices with just barely enough support to stay alive — ensuring that their benefits cheques would continue to arrive.
Clarence Shuford was beaten and battered for years while neighbours studiously ignored the situation until a newspaper received an anonymous phone call and followed up. He had intellectual disabilities and struggled to escape his captivity, but his ‘guardian’ kept tight control over him, ensuring that his financial support continued to flow.
In Massachusetts, an elderly woman was allowed to lie in bed to the point that she developed pressure sores, but that wasn’t the worst of it: the victim was emaciated, and the heat was off, exposing her to dangerously low temperatures.
In all of these cases, the victims were incarcerated for the purpose of collecting their benefits. Since benefits stop once people die, their captors had an incentive to keep them alive — just barely — but beyond that, they felt no obligations to provide basic care and respect to the people living under their roofs. In these and countless other cases, elderly and disabled people were locked into dark, dank rooms filled with vermin, kept in a state of malnutrition, often tied down or otherwise restrained to prevent escape, and commonly physically abused as well with beatings, whippings, tasings, and more.
Since benefits stop once people die, their captors had an incentive to keep them alive — just barely — but beyond that, they felt no obligations to provide basic care and respect to the people living under their roofs.
The people collectors gather as many victims as they can in order to increase the amount of monthly benefits they can collect, exploiting their victims and forcing them to sign off on designated beneficiary paperwork, and exploiting the legal system, which is in charge of appointing guardians and overseeing care options for disabled and elderly people deemed ‘unfit’ to make their own decisions.
They’re also exploiting social benefits and resources, taking advantage of the fact that many social services agencies are overstretched. Even when workers genuinely care about elderly and disabled populations, they’re often working hurriedly, trying to manage extremely large caseloads, and struggling to keep pace with the demands on their time. Consequently, cases begin to fall through the cracks — except that each crack represents human lives.
Despite reports of suspected abuse and concerns from neighbours, social services in many cases failed to respond to abuse situations, or responded far too late. Worse yet, sometimes they inspected premises and deemed them acceptable, according to agency records, considering the matter done and dusted.
For potential people collectors, this creates an ideal situation. It’s a heady mix of ableism, ageism, and classism. Collectors take advantage of the fact that society cares least about its disabled people, aging adults, and poor people, knowing that it’s easy to exploit and abuse such populations without comment, and often without being caught, either. These groups are the silent, unrepresented voices of society, and they stand little chance in a world where they’re devalued and treated as garbage.
The risks, to the eyes of people collectors, are worth the benefits, as they can collect salaries for providing care along with food stamps, benefits cheques, heating assistance, housing assistance, and other things.
While individual disabled, elderly, and poor people don’t collect very much in terms of benefits, thanks to a society that enforces poverty through its government benefits administration, if a people collector can muster a group of victims, these benefits can become significant. The stakes escalate, with human beings viewed as little more than revenue streams.  Conditions worsen for those being held in captivity.
Neighbours say nothing, social services don’t have the resources to monitor the situation, and people collectors grow more bold. Their captives turn into sources of frustration with their demands for food, supplies for basic hygiene, and other needs. That fuels abusive behaviours, designed to cow victims, keep them submissive, and put a swift and decisive stop to escape attempts. The longer they go without being caught, the more daring they get.
Frustratingly, these situations are often approached as a cause for concern not because they involve the abuse of living human beings who deserve autonomy and respect, but because they are a form of Social Security fraud. Clearly, the concern here is that the money is being stolen and put to inappropriate purposes, not that people are being abused to get it!
Neighbours say nothing, social services don’t have the resources to monitor the situation, and people collectors grow more bold.
In the wake of the horrific dungeon case in Philadelphia, Social Security began a pilot programme to scrutinise representative payees. The idea is to prevent fraud and protect people collecting Social Security through a series of measures such as requiring the submission of accounting documentation, running background checks on prospective payees, and conducting spot checks of large facilities. However, the campaign has gaping holes: the SSA is already struggling to meet legal obligations, so who will be going over these accounting documents? Who will be conducting spot checks?
For that matter, what about people collectors with one or two victims, or a small group, in their homes? And those who use various tactics to get around Social Security, such as registering co-conspirators to avoid sending up red flags? The agency itself admits that it doesn’t have the resource to regularly inspect, let alone spot check, facilities of this scale, which means that the people collector problem remains largely intact: the same conditions that allowed people to exploit disabled people and older adults in their communities remain intact under this programme.
Even the background check databasing is woefully inadequate, as the agency is forced to rely on public records, which can be outdated and incorrect. The agency again has to somehow eke out time and personnel to perform such checks thoroughly and correctly with the limited resources it’s allowed to access, which creates the risk of looming loopholes.
How much protection will people really experience as a result of this pilot programme, which is currently being expanded? The vast majority of abuse cases are identified not by social services, but by chance events. A phone call from a concerned neighbour. An alert police officer who decides to dig just a little deeper because something doesn’t feel right. Strange noises coming from a basement. This is no way to coherently and cohesively protect disabled people.
In a society where older and disabled people are viewed as lesser, these groups require special attention and protection to make it clear that abuses of this nature won’t be tolerated. People collectors need to be vigorously identified and prosecuted for the sake of their victims, and to send a message to others considering the same get rich quick scheme — enough.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Writing And Posting

I spent the better part of Sunday posting on eBay and writing part three of The Perryton Story.  I totally forgot to blog!  That is unusual.  Perryton has a Facebook page now.  I am hoping between the Old Hanover and Perryton FB pages that some photos of the town will manifest.  I am hitting the ground running today and hopefully I will have much to report tomorrow.  Stay tuned dear readership, there are 30 of you as of this morning...or maybe it was yesterday morning when my latest follower signed up.  Check out my eBay auctions if you get the chance.  I worked hard on them!  My eBay username is skymetalsmith.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Art Supplies On The Way

Yesterday, I received a $20 gift card for Hobby Lobby.  What a wonderful surprise.  My new neighbors had a disabled car that I thought one of my friends could use, so I simply put them in touch with each other.  Everybody was happy with the deal, and I will be able to resume painting as soon as I get some replacement acrylic paint with this gift card.  I don't expect grant money before May 1st, so this will speed things up quite a bit.  Horners paint store used to carry art supplies downtown, as well as the office supply store.  Those places are vanishing fast.  Michaels vanished this winter, so I was going to have to wait till May, scope out the colors I need online.  I only need about 5 colors to begin again, but it will be nice to be able to buy a couple paint brushes in addition to paint.  I am using paint and brushes that are over 20 years old!  The great thing about Hobby Lobby is that I will most likely be able to replenish my epoxy glue, and maybe even get a crucial leather tool.  $20 can make a big difference in my life.  The difference between starting, resuming a project, or waiting.  When the weather gets warm, I will be able to resume jewelry making projects as I need air circulation to fire up my torch.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Black Hand Gorge

It would be hard to begin writing a book about Perryton without regard for the people who lived in the area before the "first settlers".  Try as I might to begin the book with the Lemert family and their adventure getting to this area...I ponder about the folks who lived in Perryton prior to the Lemert family.  Certainly there were arrowheads and artifacts each spring when the local farmers plowed their fields.  I grew up with the legend of Black Hand Gorge, and my mother forbid us to go there as teenagers.  She knew it was a great spot to skip school, and do the things teenagers do.  I have been in this tunnel many times in spite of my mothers warnings.  I have swam in the gorge, in spite of the stories associated with swimming.  By the time I reached high school age urban legend made the place irresistible.
My mother claimed that she played with artifacts as a child, in a tunnel that was underneath this tunnel,  She grew up in Old Hanover, and I imagine was talking about a cave.  The famous Black Hand petroglyph is so much like other Native American hand petroglyphs and symbols that I believe it was an important message to all those passing through.  Perhaps the index finger pointed toward Flint Ridge like a road sign.  Without photos of the famous hand, we can never be sure.  Wikipedia describes the hand as fingers spread like a child would draw around their own hand in kindergarten.  Another source I am reading called The Story Of Hanover describes the finger as pointing to The Newark Earthworks.  I like to imagine the hand as being an ancient symbol of a weapons free Zone:)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Grandma Sue O'Flaherty

I saw my grandma yesterday.  She was resting peacefully and I didn't want to wake her.  Christmas day at my grandparents was magical.  This shot was taken by my Uncle Dale O'Flaherty when I was about 15 years old.  My Grandfather Russel Bolen O'Flaherty died soon after that, and Christmas has never been the same.  I thought about all that yesterday, when I was sitting with my grandmother.  We have had some good times, and she has lived through some hard times.  I hope to visit with her again soon, and I hope she is awake.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cross Road

My mother always said "today is the first day of the rest of your life".  I'm banking on it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Perryton Ohio Facebook Page

There is now a Perryton Ohio Facebook page.  I believe it will help kick start my book about Perryton.  I wouldn't dream of writing such a book without good pictures.  Here is an old stone chimney not far from the sleepy little town.  Perhaps in my travels and research I will find the story behind that stone chimney.  I have already used it in one of my paintings.

This is a photo of that upcoming painting.  The stone chimney is now painted beneath the McDonalds sign.  You can probably see where I am going with this.  The old farm all but vanished, and new advertising spattering the skyline.  I call this painting EIEIO from the refrain of the old song Old McDonald Had A Farm.  I am hoping to get back to that painting this month if I can secure some more acrylic paint. The idea for this painting was inspired by James Howard Kunster and his book The Geography Of Nowhere.