Turtle Trax Diary for May 27, 1999. Page #20
by Lucky Magnolia (Susan Shie)
I Can See Clearly Now........!!!
Wanna know why I was wearing these sexy glasses for the past few weeks? Read on!
'Coz! I had my right and final cataract eye surgery on May 5, El Cinco de Mayo! Seems a lot of people assume that now I have 20/20 vision. Don't I wish! But I am back to my old sight of roughly 20/200, with my glasses on, and it is so much better than the blurred and darkened sight I had, first in the left eye, and later in the right, in the past two years! And this surgery has healed easily, unlike the first one, two years ago. This one was as painless as the laser surgery I had in March of this year, (to correct clouding-over of my left eye's implant,) tho the cataract surgery is far more complicated than a laser surgery.
Considering that I had never had surgery on my eyes, all my life, as my birth eye condition was inoperable, it's been a strange two years, and I am so glad the operations are over. Also so grateful to my surgeon, Dr. Harry Zink, who is not only a genius, but has been very patient with me! I can't express well enough the gratitude I have to him, for restoring the lovely rotten sight I am now eternally happy to have back. The rose I hold in the picture above is what Dr. Z gives all his cataract patients, right after surgery. But HE'S the one who deserves a whole tub full of roses!
I have lens implants now, which means that when I don't have my glasses on, I can still see almost as well, for distance. And this week I got my new glasses, whose frames are a cross between sapphire blue and purple! I had funky Cat Woman half glasses for closeup work, borrowed from Dr. Z until these babies came in.
I know we all freak out on the idea of eye surgery, but it is so advanced now. They still use instruments, not lasers, for cataracts, but wow! The implants mean we don't end up with bottle bottom glasses, like you used to see on old people. And to have the surgery is much, much better than not dealing with cataracts forever. I would've gone totally blind in no time, which is something I never even thought there was a possibility of, until two years ago!!!!!
I will never know why I got cataracts in my 40's, since that is really early. But at least the implant lens plastic is supposed to last at least 80 years! Interestingly, it is the same plastic they used in British Spitfire fighter plane windshileds in WWII. The doctors noticed that, when the pilots got splinters of the windshield in their eyes, their bodies didn't reject the plastic. So there you are: Just call me Lucky Spitfire, with Sapphire Specs!!!
For two months this spring, my niece Aimee Shie was visiting my brother Jim and his family here in Wooster, on vacation from Florida. It was so wonderful to have Aimee, Julie, and Jacob all here at once, a couple of times, overnight, the way we used to do, when they were small. We airbrushed easter eggs, watched some TV, took walks with Hattie, made art, and talked and talked and talked. I showed Aimee's quilt in the last diary entry.
Above, the kids are looking at a sketchbook of mine, with pix of them, from several years ago. We had just been airbrushing, as Julie is wearing her dustmask yet, and sporting her airbrushed fingernails!
Now Aimee is back in Florida, and Julie has rented her own apartment, a little bit over a mile from our house! The kids are growing up so fast!!! Jacob and I need to get together soon, and work some more on the song we are masterminding, called "Flu Shot." His guitar work leaves mine in the dust, since I never learned to do bar chords, but the sweetie still asks me to accompany him!
We taught for our fourth year at Garaway Schools' ArtsWeek, in Sugarcreek, Ohio, in April. Nothing but art gets studied all week, with around 60 artist-teachers coming all week, being assisted by the regualr staff!!!! It's a stunning school system!!!! Here is our morning class: Friendship Quilts. Each student signed up with one or two friends, and they passed their blocks back and forth, between the two or three of them, painting and then quilting their blocks. Here are most of us, with all our unfinished blocks laid out together, as if we were making one big quilt.
Our afternoon group made diary chairs. It was supposed to be Book Report chairs, when we thought the chairs would end up in the library. But it was decided that each student could take their chair home, and thus the plot changed! We wanted everyone to really feel that their chair represented something meaningful to them. Above, some of the kids are varnishing their finished painted and written on chairs, in the school's front yard. I am supervising! Had to wait to varnish ours at home, since it wasn't quite done....
Here it is though, all done. It's the fifth of the set of six chairs for our kitchen table. It's the Meeper Chair, about our cat Meeper, aka Grace C. Cat (Because she's GRAY, SEE???) It has roses all over it, since Meeper always attacks any rose Jimmy brings me, so she can munch the greenery. She will drag that flower out of the vase every time! It also has an ice cream sundae on it, since Meeper loves to lick out an ice cream bowl. And it has my mom on the front, since Mom used to hold Meeper, and in her early stages of Alzheimer's, make the comment over and over, "This is the softest cat in the world!" And so she is!
We never let our cats outside. We want to, but don't want them to get hit on the road, and don't want them killing all the birds we feed, the bunnies, the squirrels, etc. Groundhogs, nah, too big! Anyhow, when we were finishing up the Meeper Chair, she started not eating or drinking water. I finally took her outside, knowing how she loves to munch fresh grass, if you bring her some and hold it for her. I am still taking her out, several times a day, and she munches a tad of grass, and wanders around, as if there is nothing in the world wrong with her.
The vet doesn't know what's wrong with her either. Usually, when she gets into this I-Won't-Eat-or-Drink Funk, the vet's shots and vitamins stimulate her appetite, and she snaps out of it. Instead, this time, she just hangs in the balance, really quiet, sleeping snuggled between us, sometimes under the covers, and is not eating or drinking. Just the grass, the antibiotics, and the vitamins. Used to be she'd get Vit. C, which I sprinkle on the cat food she's not eating now. So maybe I will make a water paste with some Vit. C, and put it in her mouth, with some honey....since the vet doesn't have any more ideas.
She turns 11 on June 2. She has been so sweet, but so up and down healthwise for several years now. She may go soon. She will be so sadly missed around here. But who knows: She may snap out of it yet!
Here are Pastor Paul Schmidt and Jimmy, working on airbrushing confirmation robes for Zion Lutheran Church. No, we aren't Lutheran. (I am half Mennonite, really, and half Jamaican, by choice. OK, my dad was raised Lutheran. But Jimmy is .... 100% Jimmy!) Our friend Paul is the Lutheran, and he asked us to help his confirmation class jazz up their robes! So, we did!!! It was a lot of fun, too. I think Paul had the most fun of all. He's always getting wonderfully way-out ideas! He even owns two St. Quilta art pieces: a tray and a custom made painting on fabric, which he is using an image of, on a cassette tape he's making, of his own guitar music and songs. It's called "St. Quilta the Comforter Blesses Paul's Tunes." He also had me illustrate the book he had hardbound for his confirmation class. Pretty funky preacher, eh?????
Look how happy my mommy was, on her 82nd birthday, May 8!! She doesn't have the ability to talk about birthdays anymore, but she enjoyed my birthday song and kisses! Mom may always have the side effect of tongue thrusting, which probably was a reaction to her meds, but it could still go away. They have dropped the psychotropic drugs, which she is beyond needing anymore.
Yesterday I read her a letter from her little sister, my Aunt Louise, who lives in Houston. You really don't know how much of what you say to her is being understood, at least on a soul level, and so you keep trying. Aunt Louise has Parkenson's Disease, and feels so bad that she can't be nearer to Mom. But she has a son and his family near her, and has lived in Texas a long time, so that's where she'll stay. I wish she could come for a visit, but that is hard now. Message? Maybe just: let's be sure to do everything we can now, and appreciate it!!!! We ain't gettin' any younger, as Dad says!
OK, while we're doing my family, here's my Perky Uncle Lester and Aunt Nellie!!! Les is Mom's older brother. They live in Orrville, about a half hour away. Nellie is Dad's age and went to Orrville schools with Dad. She's still working hard for the Boys and Girls' Club!!!! She is such a dynamo, and Uncle Lester just adores her! These are the two who crank out 700 pounds of peanut brittle every Christmas, honestly!!!!
We go to breakfast at The Parlor, a nice little diner in Wooster, with Les and Nell, about once every two months, and then go together to see my folks, since most people who visit Mom need me to interpret. Hard to know what to do with a person as far into Alzheimer's as she is now. We discuss our gardens, the family news, how the world would be such a better place if Nellie and I were Co-Queens, etc.
I truly wish my parents had the good health these two share!!!! Nell has had knee replacements and cataract surgeries (Dr. Z, of course,) and a few other health issues. But she is so vibrant! Mom would be, too, if she didn't have Alzheimer's. Now SHE was a powerhouse of love and work energy! Such a gardener! Such a cook, such a weaver, such a good person!.......
Mama Wanda's birthday was right after Mom's, but I didn't get any pictures of her this time. She is so much fun to be with, too! Next diary I shall have a good photo of her to share with you!!!!
It's done! It's done!!!! Here is the quilt we made for The Dishtowel Quilt Project. "The Fridge / Emperor: Card #4 in The Kitchen Tarot." You can look at most of the artists' pages, showing their work and statements now, in the Dishtowel Gallery Show. Our page is up, too. And if you're in Ohio or near, come to the reception of the real physical show of The Dishtowel Quilt Project, at Mansfield Art Center, June 20, on Father's Day, from 2 to 4 PM. Jimmy and I are also teaching a workshop there on June 19. Come to that, too! Details in the Dishtowel Gallery pages.
And soon I'll have laminated cards of this piece, to sell online.
A little painting of Jimmy in his new Stetson fedora is at the top center of our quilt. Oh, and Willy is peeking over his shoulder. This card is very manly, so it requires a manly image! The emperor is the good guy who strives to do his best. That's my Jimmy! I didn't capture his looks very well. I used to draw him a lot, trying for realism, in my sketchbooks. At the time I never thought they looked good, but with time, they are all wonderful to me now, many years later. So maybe this one will grow on me, too!
Here's the top left corner of the quilt. The pie with yellow-green apples is a painting I did, to be different from the Pakistani apple pie we have on the dishtowel itself. (I call the pie that, because the dishtowels were made in Pakistan, and maybe they don't have a very good concept there, of what an American apple pie would look like! I surely couldn't draw their foods very well! But then, maybe they would think my drawing of their food was kinda endearing, like I think this pie is!!!!)
One of Patricia Ciricillo's polartec apples is to the left of the "4," since I liked the idea of including some goodies that other Dishtowel artists had sent me. She has some of them on her quilt in the show, too.
Partway down the left side of our quilt, is one of Jimmy's leather renditions of the Pakistani apple pie. Below that is the top of a healing love whammy I made for my mom, when she had pneumonia last year. Then there are the astrology glyphs and the calender pockets from last year, Year of the Tiger, and one of the pincushions (All of them together spell out "Mom's Kitchen.") And in the bottom right corner of this picture is the tip of Willy's long tail!
Here is the rest of Willy Pendejo, who loves to reach under the stove or fridge, to try to russle up some of his tin foil balls, which he leaps into the air to retrieve and fetch back. Honestly! I throw them down the long hallway, and he leaps, spins, and thunders after them. Hey, if you don't believe me, come to a Turtle Art Camp and see for yourself! We call him Air Willy! You can help me keep the cheerleaders (girl cats) off the field. Always such an annoyance for athletes!
Here are about half of the polymer clay faces I made to put on this quilt, and some eyes. (Eyes mean more and more to me!!!) The faces are all down the outside panels of the quilt. I like Cernit the best of all polymers, since it is strong like Fimo and easy to handle, like Sculpey. Fimo still has that wonderful glow in the dark stuff, tho!!!!! I use some Fimo mixed in with my Cernit. I bake it outside in the breezeway, in my toaster oven that's just for polymer clay. It sits next to my REAL clay kiln. Too bad that working on this web site has replaced my working on real ceramic stuff (for the quilts) time! Gotta get back into my little terra cotta and white clay figures and chatchkahs for the quilts!
I made these four little paintings of St. Quilta the Comforter into quiltlets, to put in the borders of the Fridge / Emperor quilt. You can see a bunch of the paintings, which are for sale as paintings or to have me quilt for you, in the Stuff to Buy section of this site. I made 30 of them originally. They each have "Miracle Worker" written on them in glow-in-the-dark paint.
Here is Jimmy, standing out by the road, waiting for you to come see us! The crabtrees almost outdid themselves this Spring, in their gorgeous blooming! I would sit here at the computer, looking out of the front windows, just swooning over those colors! That was at the beginning of May. Now they're plain old green again, but we are busy planting, planting, planting, making our big garden and flowerbeds. If I had a digital camera, I could show you the tilling and mulching process right now, but you have to wait til next time, thanks to my using a plain old real camera.
I will tell you though, that the glorious big Troy Bilt tiller through a rod when Jimmy was almost done with the second tilling. This means it is busted til we get rich! Jimmy is thinking about trying to rebuild the engine himself. He adores that huge tiller!
Next diary entry, I will have some pix of the Quilt National opening, and of the winner and her quilt, to whom Robin and I will have presented the Third Biennial GREEN QUILTS Award!!!! And the garden pix will be up!
Now I'll make you a drawing of the garden, and then I have to go back to planting seeds, because I don't want to come back from Quilt National and have to plant tons, since we have Turtle Art Camps starting up next Wednesday again! Well, the campers will still have to put up with a bit of planting, transplanting, and lots of watering probably, along with walking Hattie, but we shall give them lots of our time, for making art together!
This is us, planting our Rainbow Garden this last week. You can see Hattie would love to play with the four baby bunnies! And there sits the broken tiller! There's a huge groundhog lurking on the horizon, but we'll outfox that rascal!!!
See you here again, with another diary entry, around The Fourth of July!
Turtle Moon Studios
Susan Shie and James Acord
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