Wednesday, April 30, 2014

More Getting Ready

Highly motivated to finish a wall hanging before I go to the hospital tomorrow, I solicited Dennis’s help in hanging it on the living room wall. To be properly displayed it should be hanging in a window, but there isn’t time to figure out how to suspend it, so this is its temporary home.

This hanging was inspired by a window in Delft’s Oude Kerk. The view is toward the street from inside the church. Tree branches are barely visible in the lower part of the hanging. If it were hanging in a window, the branches would be more prominent. Even this close up photo doesn’t do the branches justice.

That’s all right for now. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with plenty of time to find the right way of making it a window hanging. For the time being I feel satisfied to have completed a piece too long in the works.

This will be my last post for a while. I will be in our wonderful Lawrence Memorial Hospital for several days and then move to a rehabilitation facility until I get used to my new hip.

In the meantime, please send me you positive thoughts.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Getting Ready

Hip joint replacement surgery is scheduled for day after tomorrow, so we’re getting ready. I attended a joint replacement class at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, one of the top 100 hospitals in the country, and brought home a notebook full of information about hip replacement, after care, and rehabilitation. With the help of this notebook, this evening we have been preparing for my return from the hospital.

After hip joint replacement one must not allow the knee to be higher than the hip for several week. The notebook says that one must not sit on a chair lower than 22 inches. That is considerably higher than normal chairs. Dennis has been measuring the height of all the seating I plan to use after surgery.

He adjusted the legs of the elevated toilet seat, graciously has loaned by Linda, to exactly 22 inches.

He checked the height of the foam cushions I bought at Hancock Fabrics to put in the seat of my dining chair. Twenty-two inches.

He removed the cushion from one of the living room chairs and placed it on the cushion of the matching chair, and measured. Sure enough, 22 inches.

Dennis went to the basement and brought up a walker that I acquired after a foot surgery, but never used. He also brought up a cane whose origin I can’t remember.

Finally, I got out the ice bag cover I made when I had foot surgery. Its two sides hold two one-quart plastic bags full of crushed ice.  I will need this to control pain and swelling in my hip.

Before I come home after surgery, Dennis will roll up the two carpets and stow them away so they will not be obstacles as I move about. I’m not sure how we will keep Annie from being an obstacle, but I think if we put her bed in an out-of-the-way place, she won’t trip me up.

Here’s the thing: getting ready helps one go into a difficult ordeal with greater confidence. In the case of my upcoming operation, success depends not only on the skill of the surgeon, nursing care, and physical therapy – it depends on the patient doing what she can to be prepared with the help of one good man.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Something about travel opens my mind to creative impulses, maybe because I’m away from normal responsibilities and not preoccupied with trivia such as laundry and grocery lists. At any rate, during our trip to Tucson I had the urge to create more wall hangings interpreting in fabric what I had seen there.

Before we traveled to Delft in The Netherlands several years ago I had never made a wall hanging. In Delft I was so struck by the street designs that I came home and started sewing my versions of what I had seen. For example, here are two of the two pieces I made, the one on the left a fragment of sidewalk and on the right the courtyard in front of the University of Delft library.

Visiting the Tucson Museum of Art I was similarly inspired by the exhibit “Rose Cabat at 100: A Retrospective Exhibition of Ceramics.” Inspiration came not only from the shapes and colors of the ceramic pieces but also from the way they were displayed.

Suddenly I could see in my mind a wall hanging of white silk with a little grey silk and small appliqués of vase shapes in all those gorgeous colors. Right away I began to think about how to go about making it.

It happened again on the flight from Tucson to Dallas. The geometric patterns of irrigated fields in west Texas as seen from the sky inspired me to interpret them in fabric.

Constructing a wall hanging based on this scene would be challenging. How would I create all those circles? Appliqué, certainly, but what kind of fabric? These questions entertained me all the way to Dallas.

These ideas probably will never become reality, but the inspirations lift my spirit. My wrecked hands probably couldn’t do the detailed work required, but I can dream about doing it, and that is almost as good.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Friday, April 25, 2014


Fed up with seeing doctors and physical therapists, and being tested for this and that, I needed a getaway, so Dennis and I flew to Tucson to visit our grandson and his sweetheart. We soaked up sun and warmth and love, we ate good food, and didn’t worry about a thing.

One morning we drove south of Tucson to visit San Xavier del Bac, a historic mission on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. The mission, also known as White Dove of the Desert, was founded in 1692 by a Jesuit missionary named Kino.

Entering the mission I was impressed by the door handle shaped like a rattlesnake.

The mission interior is too highly decorated for my taste, but I loved the ancient door that led into the courtyard.

I was struck by the stark white exterior wall silhouetted against the blue, blue sky.

Most of all, I loved seeing all the prickly plants, many of them in bloom.

I was so entranced by this desert landscape that not once did I think about my upcoming hip joint replacement. That is what a getaway is all about.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Friday, April 18, 2014

Surprise in the Cupboard

Yesterday a couple of friends were coming for lunch and I was so well organized I hardly recognized myself. All the food was ready in serving bowls, a fresh loaf of whole-wheat sourdough on the cutting board, the table set, and butter softening in the butter dish. Having a little extra time, I got out dessert plates and seldom-used cups for tea to serve with carrot-zucchini cake.

Much to my surprise the cup from farthest back in the cupboard was home to a fine specimen of brown recluse spider. I recognized it immediately by the violin-shaped dark area behind its head.

The brown recluse spider’s bite can cause necrosis – death of cells. My cousin Leslie was bitten by a brown recluse a year or so ago. The bite caused necrosis in an area the size of a hand and Leslie spent months in the care of a wound center. Not all brown recluse bites have such drastic effects, though. Dennis was bitten about 40 years ago and had just a small sore that healed but continued to itch for several years.

Most of us who live in Kansas also live with brown recluse spiders, although we seldom see them. The recluse is aptly named, because it hangs out in undisturbed places. That just goes to show you how long it’s been since I used those coffee cups.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Charging Ahead

So many things now require chargers. I have to re-charge my iPad, cell phone, Kindle, camera battery, the Blue Tooth streamer for my hearing aids. I have trouble keeping track of them and remembering which one is for which device. Recently I bought a new phone, so I have to learn to recognize its charger.

The camera battery charger is distinctive by its square battery space. The iPad charger is white as is the Kindle charger. The ones I can’t seem to keep straight in my mind are the cell phone and streamer. Finally I gave up trying and put labels on them, using white tape and a black marker.

Then I discovered that they both have the same connection. Hey, I only need one of them!

Is this old age or does it happen to people of all ages? 

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Banner Year

It’s a banner year for daffodils. They are scattered all around our yard and have multiplied dramatically over the years. Never before have them bloomed in such profusion.

Here are some of the daffodils that Nancy and Carol planted around the memorial one year when Dennis and I were in Kentucky.

Here daffodils are with grape hyacinths in front of the house.

Here are more, with Annie, looking west.

Even the King Alfred daffodils, which haven’t bloomed for years, got into the act.

Daffodils also are blooming in great clumps to the east and on the slope behind the house. There’s no accounting for this profusion, nor for the fact that a hot wind hasn’t spoiled them so far. This is a gift to be relished for one may never see this exuberant display again.

To balance things out – life is a mixture of good and bad – it’s a banner year for elm seeds, too. Every elm in our yard and in the woods is loaded with huge seeds. What appears to be new leaves in the photo below is actually billions of seeds.

I took this photo while we sat on the patio late yesterday afternoon, admiring daffodils and marveling at the amount of work involved in uprooting elm seedlings from the flower beds next month. Then the moon came up and we went inside to have supper.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Is Here!

We had thought winter would never end. The Christmas cactus thought so, too, and decided to bloom again.

Outside, though, we see that spring has come at last. Daffodils are blooming and purple anemones make dots of color in the grass.

Due to the bitterly cold winter, lettuce seedlings in the cold frame did not survive, but Dennis replanted, and today he harvested the first thinnings.

We relished a lettuce thinnings salad for supper, rejoicing that we seem to be free of winter’s clutches at last.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Kitchen Buddha

I call him my kitchen god, but really he is a happy Buddha. I loved him the moment I spotted him in some store or other. “You are going home with me,” I told him, and bought him immediately.

I knew that I wanted this wonderfully happy fat guy to live in my kitchen. Obviously  a lot of food made him what he is – a guy who loves life and loves to eat. I wanted him to bless and rejoice in good food that passes through my kitchen.

He has blessed our bread…

He has celebrated early spring greens….

He digs broccoli…

And, of course, he rejoices in cake.

Currently the happy Buddha is helping out in the kitchen by supporting the antenna of our worthless radio.

Gosh, I love the happy Buddha.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer

As Farm Women Age

Farm women face a tough decision when they age and their vitality ebbs: stick it out in the country or move to town. Mary Ellen Flory, who died last February at the age of 92, was one who stuck it out to the end. Her obituary includes this poignant sentence, “Waking up a widow at 41 years old, cows to milk, crops to harvest, wood to chop and boys to raise she was heard to say, ‘we are not quitting, we are going right on" and she did…’”

Mrs. Flory eventually turned the dairy over to one of her sons, and moved into a brick ranch-style house that was built especially for her just half a mile away. Her dairy and farming days over, she turned to baking bread and rolls to sell at the Lawrence Farmer’s Market, where she was a familiar tiny figure in her German Baptist cap and dress worn with a practical pair of Nikes. Mrs. Flory drove her goods to market in her own car to the end.

Not all of us have Mrs. Flory’s fortitude and determination. I, for one, sometimes envision myself in a tidy little ranch house in town. Then my heart begins to ache and I cannot imagine life without the scenes of Paradise all around me.

If someone were to read this journal she might conclude that I am physically involved in planting and harvesting the garden, taking care of the chickens, and tending the woodstove. Actually I participate with Dennis in making decisions about the garden and chickens, but I’m no longer able to do the work. Rheumatoid arthritis coupled with old age has changed me from a doer to an observer. I still cook and bake and sew a little, but this year I haven’t even started seedling tomatoes and peppers to be transplanted into the garden because my hip has gone bad and I can’t get to the basement plant nursery.

Dennis, almost seventy, is still going strong. All the hard work now falls to him. I just follow him around with my camera, documenting his work. Yesterday he planted potatoes.

As long as this good man can carry on I won’t have to give up living in the country. I’d love to be like Mrs. Flory, staying in place to the very end.

Copyright 2014 by Shirley Domer