Green House of Patti tips by Sydney Maestro who supports our North Coast office serving blind and visually impaired folks living in the remote and sprawling counties of Humboldt and Del Norte in California. She prefers her yard covered in old whisky barrels filled with unique water lily cultivars rather than ordinary grass. “I suppose we aren’t the only people with water gardens in Humboldt County,” Patti laughed; making a clear reference to Humboldt’s other “green-growing”
When she isn’t tending to her aquatic crop, you’ll find her feeding living critters to her carnivorous plants, and though her surname is “Rose,” she’d probably prefer “Darlingtonia” after California’s native carnivorous Cobra pitcher plant. Patti is so facinated with water lilies and carnivorous plants that she and her husband Doug actually sell them as a side business. The only thing more unique than Patti’s garden is Patti herself, which is why we are so fortunate to have her at the LightHouse.
Patti grew up in Glendale, California. After much moving around Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, she landed a job as a technical analyst for Rocketdyne, a small company later owned by Rockwell and then by Boeing and connected with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). There she helped to build the $33,000,000 engines of the Space Shuttles.
In 1996, Patti and Doug packed up the car and moved to Humboldt where Patti pursued a degree in Environmental Biology at Humboldt State University. “We love Humboldt. It’s perfect for us,” she said, describing the scent of sea breezes combined with the sweet smell of evergreen forests. In the midst of taking biology courses Patti rediscovered an old skill – technical writing. She switched degree programs and earned her Bachelor’s in technical writing, fusing her experience at Rocketdyne with her advanced writing and teaching skills.
After she graduated, Patti continued to work on her Master’s in Geographical Information Systems.
Patti met Doug, who is blind, in Los Angeles in the mid-80s over a love of computers and emerging technology. Both were tech-savvy and posted on bulletin boards and chat services that were available before the internet. Early one morning Patti noticed Doug online and introduced herself. Doug, using his Versa-Braille, a crude screen reader requiring an acoustic coupler and cassette tape recordings, wooed Patti though binary valentines over the pre-dawn matrix of the internet. This serendipitous happenstance produced a relationship now going into its 27th year.
While living in Humboldt, Doug, a leader in the blind community, help establish our newly opened North Coast office, while Patti worked for us as a driver – a critical position in a place with minimal to no public transportation. “In this rural area, blindness can be very isolating. The impact I had just by providing rides for clients and students was life-changing.” This rocket-builder found meaning as a driver because she saw firsthand the impact she had on so many blind people. “Living with Doug I know how independent a blind person can be if they are given the right tools. At LightHouse of the North Coast we work with people to find their independence and the freedom to pursue their interests.”
These days Patti uses her business savvy and writing background to manage the administrative work at the North Coast office. She also assists with access technology training both for North Coast clients and at training sessions held at Enchanted Hills. She is passionate about preserving the natural habitat in the North Coast and is a champion for the blind, seniors, animal, plants and others with historically unheard voices. She is a letter-writer and an essayist, frequently sharing her thoughts and research with her representatives in local, state, and federal government. Patti reminds us, “You can’t take back the words you never said.”
Patti’s contagious smile and dedication to working with the blind have helped make the LightHouse of the North Coast the amazingly successful satellite it has become. If you are blind or visually impaired and live in Humboldt or Del Norte Counties, we invite you to contact our staff at 707-268-5646. You can read more about Patti’s work with water lilies and carnivorous plants here.