September 15 2020

Cooking by touch

I have always enjoyed cooking. Combining several ingredients and adding heart to make delicious food is a joy. But as I lost vision I had to become creative with my methods.

Like fast food restaurants, I have a box of disposable gloves in my kitchen drawer.

When I am combining wet and dry ingredients , I test the texture of the dough\batter to see if it is correct. I often use my hands to mix the drier dough. I love to feel the mixture between my fingers. I guess I didn’t get enough PlayDoh time as a child!

When making pie crust, I have been known to place the flour, salt and spices on a table . Then I put a indentation in the middle of the dry ingredients . Into this I pour a mixture of oil and cold water. Then I mix the pile until it is a soft dough. It is a great feeling.

After rolling the dough between wax paper, I will peel back the top piece of paper to feel the dough to make sure that there no thick spots. When ready, I use the wax paper to lift and flip the crust into the pie pan.

When cooking on the stove, I have a different challenge. How do I know if there 

is a rolling boil. I lean over the pan and listen for the bubbles bursting. This tells me that the pan is at a rolling boil.

When baking , I will use my sense of smell to tell if a item is close to done. I will use a talking thermometer to do the final testing.

I am a sloppy cook at times but I keep my messes confined and clean them up quickly.

When guest are invited to dinner I have become the entertainment as they watch me move around the kitchen and present them a great meal.

My husband keeps telling me my cooking would make a funny video but I know that he is proud of my abilities and he benefits from the results.

Hamburgers and fries anyone?



I don my plastic gloves.

Mixing dry and wet ingredients ,

To form a soft dough.

I roll, stretch or drop dough on baking sheets.

Pop the sheets into the oven.

Then wait……..

the aroma of cooked biscuits tantalize my nose.

I pull them out for all to enjoy.

copyright September 15,2020Cooking By Touch

Sent from my iPad

September 10, 2020

Lemonade with a Punch
My Dad was a tease and trickster. He wasn’t mean. He liked to play jokes. Sometimes they backfired. This happened when his Grandmother Turnbull was visiting one summer.It was a hot and Dad offered Grandmother Turnbull some cold lemonade. Along with the fresh squeezed lemons, sugar and water, he added a shot of vodka.Grandmother was a good Baptist and a tea totaled all her life. Now in her 90’s, she had never tasted liquor.Dad, brought a tall glass of the lemonade to Grandmother and waited to see what she would be her reaction. It was a hot day,. She downed the lemonade in several large gulps. Dad was surprized and asked, ” Would like another?” She replied,”Yes!” While he went to get another drink, Grandmother fell asleep. Dad carried the small woman up to a bedroom.The next morning, Grandmother awoke and asked,”When is dinner?” When told that she slept through dinner and all night. She was puzzled. “Grandmother, maybe you were tired from your trip.” Only my Dad knew the truth and he kept quiet.Later, Grandmother remarked,”That was the best lemonade that I ever had!”

Laughter is fine
If a person knows
may backfire

Copyright Sept 10, 2020

The Starfish August 8, 2020

In this time of unrest and uncertainty, I recall an ancient Hawaiian story about starfish. Indulge me if you have heard it. I think it bears repeating.Once a wiseman or a Kahuna who walked the beaches in the early morning to meditate and commune with great God. Ka-Ne. He was hoping for a message for his people as their troubles. One morning, at sunrise, He saw a figure in the distance, dancing a hula to praise the sun. He thought, this must be another Kahuna. He hurried toward the person, but when he drew close , the person was not an adult, but a child. The beach was covered with thousands of starfish. The child was bending down, picking up a starfish and throwing back into the water. Over and over , the child repeated this task.The Kuhuna watched for a long time and finally exclaimed, ”Why are you throwing the starfish into the waves?” The child paused in the task to reply, ”The starfish have washed up on the beach and will die if they are not returned to the water.” The Kahuna said, ”There are thousands of starfish and only one of you. You can’t possibly makes a difference!” The child smiled and bending down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the waves. Turning to the Kahuna the child said,”I made a difference to that one!”When overwhelmed by problems, we can make a difference, one person at a time.”from a traditional Hawaiian story”********************

They have five pointed armsto navigate waters andsearch for preyBut when washed ashorethey are helplesslike a newbornGive a helping handby picking themUp from the sand, and tossing into the wavesso they may live another day.
copyright August 8, 2020

Sent from my iPad

Rooted in Theater August 3, 2020

When I was a child, I loved to perform for friends and family. I would sing, dance or recite poems. I had a solo in first grade in a Christmas pageant. i was curious about the old P and A theater in my home town of Northville.i would attend the matinee movie on Saturday afternoons. The ticket price was 35 cents. Before the movie, the owner would pick tickets and the children checked the numbers on their tickets. I was selected to compete. Each child was given a balloon and asked to blow it up until it burst. I didn’t want to break my balloon so I lost but I still had my balloon.I wondered what was behind the movie screen. When I was a teen, I saw a friend taking out the garbage from the back of the theater. “Doug, could you show me the area behind the screen?” He replied,”I guess, but there is not much to see.”The door to the area was just inside the back door. I stepped up into the old vaudeville stage. There was a tall area filled with ropes and pulleys for hanging backdrops. My feet made prints in the dust on the stage floor. After turning in a full circle, I asked if there were dressing rooms. Doug pointed to stairs on one side of the stage. I slowly descended to find three rooms lit by single light bulbs. The largest of the rooms still had hooks on the wall to hold costumes. The other two rooms had doors. I imagine stars and names on each door. The old theatre changed hands and the new owners wanted to refurbish the theater to it’s use for live productions. Northville’s community theater was started.In my 20’s I joined this group and performed on this same stage. Now the floor was refinished and the dressing rooms were updated with lit mirrors, makeup tables and a lounge area for the actors to relax while waiting for their cues. In this space, you could clearly hear what was said on the stage. While the Corona Virus has silently the stage , the theater waits for people to gather again in the red velvet seats.

The smell of greasepaint The laughter of the crowda tapping batonAre silent nowawait a virus’s demise
musicians, actors and stage handsall are quietstanding in the wingsThey hope for a rising curtainand a chorus to sing

Lost in My Own Yard August 31,2020

I have heard several of my blind friends talking about becoming disoriented in their own neighborhood or yard. Last week this happened to me.I will go out to get the mail at the edge of our property. I usually follow the driveway and then tap along the edge of the road until I get to the mailbox.On this day, I didn’t have my shoes on because I wanted to feel how lushness of the grass . he was so proud of it. I didn’t take my smart phone because I was just going to the mailbox. I decided to cross the lawn to feel the lush grass beneath my feet.What I didn’t know was there was a truck parked in the road in front of our home.When I walked diagonally to find the road by the mailboxes. I found the truck instead. Thinking this was my neighbor’s vehicle , I turned left to find the street. Instead I found that I was on the grass again. I tried to listen for traffic noise but there was a street repair crew making noise a few doors down. The thick grass made walking difficult and I silently swore to myself for not taking my phone. I heard a quiet voice from several feet away , ”Do you need help?” I replied “Yes!” A small woman came beside me. “Where are you going?” I replied, “I am trying to find my house.” She asked,”Do you want to take my hand?” “No, give me your elbow.” She asked for my address to make sure I was at the correct house. “What were you doing?” she asked . “I was trying to go to the mailbox and I became lost” I admitted. “Did you get your mail? I said no and she offered to go and get it for me .”While she was gone, I felt my way to the garage door. When she returned, she noticed I was beside the door. “She said “It’s closed.” “I know how to open it with a code,” I replied. I thanked her and opened the garage.I went inside and placed the mail on my husbandschest. I was very discouraged and wondered what went wrong.My husband explained what could have happened. “There is a car in the road before our mailbox. What you thought was our neighbor’s car was this vehicle, You set off in the wrong direction and couldn’t find the driveway or the road.”I felt slightly better until he asked,”Did you have your phone?” I felt chagrined . Now when I go outside, I take my normal route to the mailbox. I will take my phone because you never know when you will need a helping hand. ********************

Fuzzy Forecast
I spot a Fuzzy worm sunning on the stone wall,black and sporting a brown stripe on his back.The thickness of the brown marking is predicting a harsh winter.
I wonder if he is storing the sun to take with him when he snuggles under the fallen leaves. There the furry caterpillar awaits Spring’s sunshine and warmth.

Exploring the Past August 27, 2020

As a child, I loved to visit my Grandma Jennie and Grandpa Cliff. The house was full of hidden surprises and full candy dishes. But when the weather allowed, I went to explore the backyard.This large yard was divided into two sections by a gated fence. It was double the size of most yards.My first play place was the bulkhead doors that covered the stone stairs leading into the basement. These doors were locked most of the time. I spent many hours sliding down the doors, until Grandma warned that I would fall down the stairs . Wandering further into the yard, I located an old chicken coop. Now it was filled with discarded outdoor furniture, a rusty grill and pieces of wood. I could image the time when the coop was full of roosting chickens.When my Dad was a Senior in High School, he wanted a tux to wear to the senior prom. He asked Grandpa for the needed amount. and was turned down with the words,”Earn the money.” This was during the Depression and jobs didn’t pay enough for such a purchase. He would have to find another way.He went to the butcher to ask about the price of chickens. He entered the coop and counted the hens. He caught, killed and presented the carcasses to the butcher. In return, he had the money for a tux.I smiled to think my Dad got in trouble after Grandpa thought that the hens were stolen! After the confession, my Dad reminded Grandpa that he still had his rooster.I would play house in the coop until lunch time. My Grandma would scold me because I was dirty and my hair was covered with cobwebs. After lunch, I would return to the yard to explore the far backyard. The gate squeaked and added to the creepy feeling of the place. Grandpa had his fruit trees and garden in this yard. He grew the best tomatoes. In a bird house hung too low for the birds, He kept a large salt shaker. He would select a ripe tomato and eat it right from the vine with a liberal shake of salt. He would let me select a smaller fruit and we would sit under the old oak eating the fruit.Finally, I would wander to the far fence . There I would look into the town’s cemetery. I recalled the story of my Dad being late for high school, He bolted the fence and ran through the cemetery pretending the tombstones were blockers on a football field. He would enter the doors of the school as the final bell would sound.Now the yard has changed hands and the chicken coop is long gone, the memories and stories remain.********************

Digging for Memories.

I wander to the far backyard.To see changes from my youth.The fruit trees are gone with a tennis court in their place.I find the corner where my Grandfather grew tomatoes.The area is choked with weeds and vines.I sit and aimlessly sift in the dirt.My fingers touch a small mental object. It is the top of the salt shaker from the bird house.I stare at the memory and drop it into my pocket.

August 25, 2020

Phantom Vision

No I am not talking about Halloween and Tricker Treaters. Or seeing visions where there is nothing. I am talking about what my brain sees with blindness.Even before I was totally blind, I would allow my imagination to look at objects and let my brain come up with the picture to go along with my eye impulses . I could look at a brown rock and see a bear or look at a fence and see two deer. I thought that this would cease when I became totally blind.I was pleasantly surprise when I found that I didn’t see a field of blackness.I have a cycle of a brightness for a whole day and evening, then a gray day for the same amount of time and finally a dark day. There are variations in the days that I can partly control . For example, if it is getting close to bedtime I can mentally turn down the brightness to sleep. If I need to remain alert and I am having a dark day I can decrease the darkness to perceive gray areas. I can increase light or decrease the lightness in gray days.I have not heard about this in any of my blind friends. I take joy that I am not always in total darkness. I have to be cautious to remember that the light or lack of it has nothing to do with light perception . I do have a sliver of real light perception so I can tell the difference. Like a phantom, this cycle of the brain perception may fade and disappear with time. I have this vision for over 5 years and it does not show any fading at this time .********************

The Phantom
Like a thief in the nightThe phantom stalks me to steal my sight.All my line I look behind,I try to run and hide,there he is, we’re side by side.I’m tired of running, giving up the fight,He smiles, and takes my sight.I am left with phantom vision,the mind produces sight revisions.I see light, dark and gray,alternating to mark the days. Not sure if this vision will last,grateful each sighted day that passes. Until it leaves me I will enjoy the sight even if only in my mind’s eye.

The Bees Knees August 20, 2020

When I was a kid, my Dad use this phrase to discribe something little and cute. When I think of honey bees or bumble bees I have another opinion.

I like many people lump bees with other stinging insects and avoid them. Recently, I was visiting an old friend who was a bee keeper. He has a large garden and orchard for the bees to pollinate. He took us to view the hive boxes and the activity around them. We were about 15 feet away. I heard the low buzzing. I was given a description of the complex dance of communication that occurred outside each hive.

He showed us a hive box that was on the top of a step ladder. he noted that on his last inspection of the hives, a second Queen left with half of the bees to form a swarm. He located the swarm in an old box elder tree. It was high up in the top branches. My friend had to cut the tree down and started to retrieve the Queen and her swarn. “So why is the box on the ladder?” He said that not all the bees were in the box. The stragglers would come to the swarm and enter the hive box. Then he can take the box back to the hive area.

Though the bees were flying around me, they were too busy to pay attention to us .

I learned that bees are needed for a third of our food sources. Vegetables, fruit and nuts need the busy insects to help with pollination.

A honey bee unlike wasps can sting only once. The bee dies after stinging. They will sting only to protect the hive. Wasps will sting multiple times.

After the bee encounter, I am willing to share my outdoor space with such a helpful and needed insect.

Golden rods glow in the field.

beckon to the honey bees.

Filled with nectar for winter’s food.

abundant, life-giving, bee feeders

nature provides so bees can survive.

and so can we.

appeared in the fall weekly Avocet 2019

Kids and blind parents August 18 2020

As school is starting, I was remembering my parenting experiences being a low vision parent. Below are some situations that I found myself in.

Kids And Blind Parents
Parents have challenges raising children. The children are always testing the limits of family rules. The child see what they can get away with and what the parent will tolerate .
But with a blind parent, the ability to monitor and control is limited. For example, You go to a gathering with your child. They decide to visit a friend. You find that you have been parked facing a corner and you are talking to a wall.
Or you and your daughter go into a bathroom and your daughter pushes you into a stall and quickly goes into another because she needs to void . You are left to investigate to see if there is a clean seat. To check if there is paper left on the seat and to check if the commode is clean. Also to check if the lock works. When I finally exit the stall my daughter is impatient to leave. “What took you so long?” She asks .
Another time we were going to use a restroom in a National park. The room was very busy and my daughter spotted a partially open door on a stall. She pushed me in and went to use another stall. I hung up my cane and proceeded to use the commode. I heard a Mother outside my stall calling a little girl’s name. I also could hear a quiet voice from my left. I thought she has locked herself in the stall next to me. I will have to inform the Mom where her daughter is. When I opened the door. I started to talk to the woman and my daughter grabbed me and rushed me out of the restroom without washing our hands. When we had traveled to the far side of the building my daughter finally told me that the small child was in my stall with me. She was playing with the flushing lever so was between the back of commode and the wall. I never thought that she was in the stall with me. I am sure that I would have gotten a lecture from the Mom but she was temporarily stopped by the white cane. My daughter was sure she would find us and press charges.
My daughter and I were in an amusement park and had to find a restroom. Like most busy places, the restroom had a line of women waiting for a stall. There was no line at the handicapped stall so my daughter opened it and went to wait in line for another stall. When I was finished I opened and was surprised to find a women in a wheelchair so close to the door that I was not able to leave the stall. She started to lambaste me that I was not allowed to use this stall. I started to hit her wheel chair with my cane and asked her to back up so I could exit. My daughter later told me that all the women were amused to see this battle of the disabilities being played out in front of them.
I have a blind friend that related a story about grocery shopping with her visual son . She would tell what was on the list and she expected him to find the item and put it in the basket.
When she was at the checkout line she was surprised at the amount of her groceries. After thinking she handed a list to the check out clerk. and asked her to remove any items that were not on the list.
There were Pop-tarts, candy and two little cars. After that she felt each item as her sun put it into the basket.
Kids test all parents but blind parents have to be creative in their response to testing situations.

On your toes
where your children go
keep a hold.

August 13 Water Spirits

During this time of stress and Corona Virus confusion, I find peace and solace on a shoreline watching the waves. It doesn’t matter if the water is fresh or salty, As long as it is large enough to have waves, I am entranced.I had an opportunity to visit the Lake Michigan shore this past weekend. The north western winds produced white caps and churned up water. The rhythmic beating of the waves as they crashed and removed the beach with each landing was hypnotic . I was reminded of the power of nature and it’s ability to mold and change the land. The beach is shrinking and the dunes are losing ground to the tides. In one place, a poplar tree on the top of a bluff had it’s roots exposed for twenty feet as it pointed to the water. Beach grasses were no match to the constant encroachment of the rising lake.I stand on the shore with my feet sliding on the sand in the water knowing how easily I could be tumbled by a wave as it made landfall. No wonder water particularly, moving living water is a symbol of renewal. I feel the strength that the lake gives my spirit and soul.I walk down the beach climbing over obstacles thrown on the beach. I end my walk at a set of stairs leading to a chapel on the bluff. There I find a peace in the space where the native Americans learned and practiced their faith from the missionary’s. I can look out and see their graves in the cemetery next to the church. Many are marked with only a simple white cross when a disease like measles killed many from the settlement. I hear their cries to the heavens as the waves continue to beat the shore. I add my silent prayer to all those souls to have strength and courage as we face the corona virus knowing that it will not last. I bow my head, feeling the past, present and future blend together. I rise, and dip my fingers in the baptismal font on my way out.Living WaterLiving water moving, carting life.Holds death and life in its shadows.It is deceptive in it’s calm morning demeanor, but by evening the tides and waves have changed their power.They grab stairs, chairs and sandy beach to the depths.I think of death but know that the items will rise and appear again . Though changed.So we are here but a moment and when the tide of death takes us,We will rise and be changed.