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Walk a Few More Steps with Me

Wondering how I should organize my life, preparing for a future with limited vision, I thought about all the things I wanted to do that required good vision.

That list was daunting and I didn’t even want to write it all down.

Instead I decided I needed to learn what aids were available to someone with limited vision–and to learn to use them before I needed them.

A local optometrist spent an hour with me, showing me a variety of devices to aid my vison.

Life will not be the same.

I will still do some things…but not in the same way.

One of the devices will allow me to once again read my Bible. I did not realize how much I missed doing so—and yes, I know there are ‘apps’ that will read it to me—but seeing that app and operating it are not the same as reading it for yourself—and I cannot see that tiny font on my phone.

There are driving options available—limited roads, no night driving, and some really fancy telescopic glasses.

But I am not ready for those yet.

I will continue to write this blog, experiment with devices as I need. While I could wish that this is not something I must endure, wasting time on self pity will not change what has happened.

I will update at intervals; I am not alone in this journey.

It will be an adventure, not one I chose, but an adventure nonetheless.

Still Walking

Working for ten years in the local refineries, I was required to wear safety glasses. When presbyopia set in, I had progressives, when I worked ER and neeeded to wear them sometimes 36 hours in a row, I invested in wire drill mounted lenses so light I frequently forgot they were on my face.

In my mid fifties, I had what opthalmoligists call posterior vitrious separation—supposedly painless and associated with age. It meant I saw doznes of gnats flying over everything I looked at—all tiny blood clots from the event. That cleared eventually but then I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the medications I was on was Plaquenil–a medication sometimes used for malaria. It is associated with deposits around the macula creating a crazy kaleidoscope of colors and a fuzzy ring around visual field. It was hard to read—as part of the letters would disappear—was that a b or a h or an n? Was that an a or e or o? I had to guess by the other letters in the word and the context.

Then cataracts!

And for a few months I could see fairly well but needed ‘cheaters’ for reading.

And a light.

Next came the large print books and a book that would have taken me two or three nights now took three or four weeks to read.

White print on black was impossible to read. Restaurant menus, magazines, websites seem more interested in attention grabbing than in legibility. The world now seems to depend on ‘apps’ also frequenlty white print on black and on a tiny screen.

I scheduled an eye appointment; endured the dilation and glaucoma checks, and soon learned I was legally blind in my left eye. I was informed it was macular degeneartion and that within a year or so, my right eye would be similarly affected.

What a devastating blow!

As an artist!

As a writer!

As a voracious reader of technical books, history, novels, mysteries!

As someone who enjoys independence and travel!

As someone who pays their own bills!

Facing a world dependent upon others to pay my bills, take me shopping or visiting, no more books.

And what about all the fun things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, new adventures?

Walk With Me

Life is full of twists and turns; some delightful, some bittersweet, and then there are those you wish you could just read about—for someone whose name might be familiar but not your friends or family and certainly not yourself. You could tsk tsk and shake your head in sympathy and then go about your own business of chores and work and fun.

but life isn’t always like that. And sometimes those unfortunate things happen to you or your family or your friends.

Last November, my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. It took all of November and December before a plan could be made for his care—waiting is hard—what should we do? Should we visit with granchildren? They are more likely to have a respiratory illness and that would delay any sort of treatment. Church? Should we make plans for things we’ve always wanted to do–but then when could we do them?

After anxious days that turned into weeks, he finally had a definitive treatment in mid January. Now we must wait to see if that treatment was effective.

Waiting is not easy and neither of us really want to exercise our patience.

His next appointment is in early May.

We haven’t changed much about our daily routne; things just seem to take longer. His siblings call frequently to inquire as to his status and he is looking forward to his next family reunion in late September.

But there is more to the story.

What was I thinking?

I find the urge to finish projects almost irresistible…and not just mine but other people’s.

My mother left behind a lot of starts and some finishes.

My gradnmother left behind some starts–not as many—but still several.

And of course, I have my own starts and not finished—did I run out of time? enthusiasm? or not sure what needed to be done next? or did I miss a deadline and all impetus to complete the project dissipate?

But why did I buy this package of quilt pieces at a local resale shop?

It came from sone-one’s sewing room, cleaned out as part of an estate sale or pehaps as a down-sizing due to certain circumstances.

I listed this project on my UFO list and dug it out to complete.

the seams are 1/8 inch—not 1/4 inch. the squarea a 2 1/4 inch on a side. All a challenge.

I studied the construction of the block—so interesting–and so different compared to what I would have chosen.

The seamstress sewed the ladder of four patches making sure she had four sets all alike–then added the gray setting squares.

Here are some photos of the assorted pieces as I worked on them.

I’ve completed the top; it is in the line to be quilted. I’m contemplating how i should quilt it–I’m leaning toward a series of straight lines only–its simple and easy.

Looking through that box, I find two other plastic bags containing parts started by this same seamstress (I think) as the color palettte is much the same.

But those bags will have to wait for another day—I have a few of my own projects to complete.


I’ve been making hand-made books for about a year now. I’ve learned about paper grain, how to fold signatures, what a wrap is, and the intricacies of glue.

I still get glue all over my fingers and my work area—but someone let the secret out….have a wet washcloth–nearby to wipe sticky fingers and then to wipe off work surfaces. Wastepaper is essential—and I have a lot of packing paper and copy paper of images–..lets just say I need to practice copying images on those big machines at Kinko’s—but then they are just three cents a page.

There is a new project posted every month. It takes me most of the month to complete the project–glue dries very slowly in our humid environment—I don’t have formal book press to make my signatures nice and neat. I finally figured out a cheap method–two smooth floor tiles and two clamps from Harbor Freight. i added a crop-a-dile. It is a fancy hole punch and eyelet setter althought I could not figure out the eyelet setting.

And last month I bought a paper cutter—what fun! chopping up paper into tiny bits the size I need for book signatures or to decorate covers. And so easy to cut book board.

After accumulating the parts for several books, I spent a day doing the final steps.

And then there was this project.

I’ve been experimenting with using soft covers–fabric but making it more substantial and not so floppy. This project started as a single book with very tall signatures. I decided it would be far better to make two smaller ones.

I have a large (maybe too large) selection of hand-painted/printed/embroidered fabrics to choose from. This was a piece printed with a zucchini one year; I just could not face another loaf of zucchini bread. I did simple stitching onto a piece of interfacing-it was fairly thick but not stiff. I reinforced the spine with another piece of interfacing and stitched along the lines to reinforce it.

The signatures are sewn in using a long stitch method.

Because the interfacing is technically a fabric, I didn’t think I could glue the end sheet in–so I used a fusible web; and then glued the flap to the signatures.

That metal plaque on the book on the right is from an old sewing machine. I have a large number of these–a touch of whimsey.

Poppy Mae formerly known as Chilihowie

My middle name is Mae.

My mother’s middle name is Mae.

My grandmother’s middle name is Mae.

I have a great niece whose middle name is Mae.

When I was five, my dad asked me to pick out some flower seeds—and of course I picked Poppies–they were bright red—also my grandmother’s favorite color.

I bought this fabric several years ago=—I don’t remember how long ago it was.

I decided to use it as my color palette for the latest Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt she offers each Thanksgiving.

After all that sewing, I seamed together the background—and the design is Poppy Mae.

So the quilt is now Poppy Mae!

It is now resideing in the stack to be quilted by Vivian Mae—my Gammill.

On the left side is the background, the label, and the red is for the binding. On the right–the finished top,

For those who hate to make labels, I make them as I am tidying up after completing the top There are always extra bits and peices and I use them to border the label, some people cut and prepr the binding at this stage also, but I don’t mind waiting until I have finished the quilting as sometimes I use leftover backing as the binding.

He Must Have Been Fond of Pink

A trip to Houston usually is due to healthcare appointments. I have been fortunate in the past to double up on several; but then I stay overnight in a nearby hotel.

This time I planned to attend the Houston Quilt Festival. This is the first time I’ve been back since the pandemic. The show is much smaller—and I’ll talk about that later this week after I process my photos and review my notes.

However, I did have time to visit the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesday afternoon.

The primary exhibit was a retrospective of Philip Guston.

I was not familiar with his work but found it interesting.

The first formal piece was a very large Mother and Child painted when Guston was still a teenager. He had just discovered Renaissance paintings and the piece does imply a significant influence.

The ‘mother’ is very masculine in appearance–almost with a five o clock shadow: the baby quite chubby.

Many of the next pieces have a soft pink background with shoe soles and red sticks with bristly hairs suggesting legs or arms.

I think this one was something about early morning looking out his window.

He progressed to some strictly abstract pieces with layers of colors reflecting differenct season.

His philosophy was that his work was all about the process not the end result.

That may be the only connonality between us—-I enjoy the process but rarely have a problem letting a piece go.

Every visit to the museum I try to find a section I have not spent time in. This time it was the Western Art section. There are several Remingtons there–on loan from the Stark Museum in Orange Texas—-but then i spied this piece.

Technically this is a piece of grafitti.

When Indians were moved from tipis to log cabins, some of the walls were covered with muslin—to keep the cold wind—and bugs out. This was painted on one of the walls and features a successful battle. The victors are on horseback, the opponents on the ground—known for shouting out insults along with arrows—see the top horse second from right—bad words coming from his mouth. The victor is portrayed several times–each time with more feathers.

The horses are stylized but each one has his hooves and legs in different positions—this is so charming and much more intriguing than shoe soles on a lovely pink background.

Weeding Around the Windmill

I may have conquered the raspberry patch. Two months ago, I pulled all the nettles and ragweed out, put down random scraps of drywall and topped them with heaps of corn fodder from the haymow.

No nettles this time!

And so it was time to turn my attention to the windmill. There is a large peony planted there, and some snow on the mountain greenery. AND lots of weeds—wild aster.

The fan from the windmll is behind the barn, having been scrunched up by tractors and farm equipment running into it. Unfortunately DNR insisted this well was ‘unsafe’ because the well head was only a few inches about the ground—as you can see it is the highest pont; no-run-off—-but ‘they knew better’ and so it was closed with bentonite; the plumber making an awful mess of it and the paperwork. Thanks DNR for keeping my safety in mind—AND spending my money uselessly.

On a brighter note, I had some tree work done. A large walnut tree was touching the garage and the cow lot was full of volunteer trees.

I”m hoping to turn it into a garden with a gazebo type structure on top of the old grainery.

That is a huge brushpile—the fire department suggested we burn it with about two inches of snow on the ground—-I doubt i will be there for that—but it will make for a great marshmallow roast.

All Aboard the SS Badger

The SS Badger is a National Landmark and operates between Manitowoc Wisconsin and Ludington Michigan as a coal fired steamship.

It was originally one of many car-rail ferries between Wisconsin and Michigan designed to avoid the traffic snarls created by going around Lake Michigan through Chicago.

The Badger was one of three ships built in Sturgeon Bay and was christened by Mrs. Kohler, the wife of the Kohler plumbing fixture owner. It was launched sideways and created such a splash, it knocked over three rail cars stationed in front of the mechanic shops in the harbor with lake water flowing through the shops and flooding the streets.

The season of sailing is short due to winter weather with the last sailing the middle of October. The trip each way takes about four hours but there is a time difference as Michigan is on Eastern Time and Wisconsin on Central Time.

For those of you who have taken the Galveston Ferry from Bolivar Peninsula to Galveston, this was very much the same but on a much grander scale. The cars and trucks and RV’s were driven on and off by porters who seemed to have only one speed on land–full-out run!. The large vehicles were backed in while the cars were driven in frontwards and somehow turned around to drive out forwards.

The interior of the shop had several hot food dining options, an interesting museum filled with information and a video about the Badger.

Interestingly, I discovered some photographs my grandmother had taken in 1954 when she went to Manitowoc to see the ferry. I don’t think she traveled on it as there are no Lake photos or any labeled as Michigan.

And here are two of my grandmother’s photos. There was much speculation at the Badger office regarding which ship it was and when the alterations to the ship had been made. However, my grandmother carefully noted on the back that this ship was the City of Midland.

inscripton on back reads ferry approaching August 1954

notation on back reads City of Midland August 1954Acccor

According to the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay there were over 17 car ferry ships built along with multiple other ships as part of the War Effort in the 1940’s. Most of the transport was rail cars loaded with steel, produce and other goods.

Purple and Teal

Definitely not my favorite colors!

Digging through that box as noted yesterday, I found a panel along with some four patches and some strips and lengths of fabric from my mother’s quilting days.

Somehow on social media, I had connected with one of my parent’s neighbor. She grew up next to my parents who treated her with the same dignity and interest as their own grandchildren. She had fetal alcohol syndrome and life was not easy for her.

One day, Mom needed some help in working on a particular quilt. She asked the girl–a teenager at the time to assist her. After some time, the quilt was finished and Mom gave it to the girl.

She treasured that quilt but lost in a house fire.

She is now married with children of her own.

I thought I might give her this quilt—made from Mom’s fabrics, panel, and some of her patchwork.

and the back

I hope she will like it; it will travel to Wisconsin on our next trip hopefully in a couple of weeks.