Wednesday, July 30, 2014


An indie bookstore in our community hosts a month-long Waldo scavenger hunt each July. They end with a party and costume contest at the bookstore. 

This year, because the kids love Waldo, they begged to dress up for the contest. I agreed to help make them some costumes. 

A few supplies from Wal-Mart and a day of sewing and crafting, and we were off and running. 

Abi was Waldo. Curly was Wizard Whitebeard. Bean was Woof, and Mister was Odlaw, the bad guy reverse Waldo-spelled-backwards. 

The bookstore served cake, and then held the costume contest. 

Quite a few little Waldos, along with a smattering of princesses and an alligator lined up. 

Little Mister won a gift card, and so did a couple of other Waldos with fun Waldo-y glasses. 

And that was that. 

We didn't qualify for the raffle since we didn't visit enough businesses around town. 

We did head next door to enjoy Gyros for dinner. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pictures From An Evening of Picking Blackberries

Rural Idaho. It does my soul good. 

A Bean with Maui Waui Sherbet ice cream is a happy Bean. 

The star of the evening: blackberries! They are just coming on, so we got, as Little Mister put it, just enough for a pie. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Barn Work

As I mentioned a while back, we have a horse family member now. We bought him from Curly's riding teacher, or rather my mom helped us buy him! Anyway, Curly's teacher asked to keep using him for students for the rest of the summer, and we agreed. 

Once fall comes, we'll move him to the barn and pasture we've rented. I'm absolutely thrilled with our arrangement. The rent goes to support Peniel Crossing, a ministry I wholeheartedly endorse. 

We also have a nice old barn and grassy pasture to use for Rogan. It couldn't be better. 

The barn had previously been used to house chickens, so it needed some work to get it back to horse-mode. Also, the pasture fence was in sad shape. 

We've been out there in the evenings working on it to get it ready. Rather than being a burden, it has been a lot of fun! Matt and I really enjoy working together. I love the farm-type work, and to his surprise, so does Matt. It's a nice change from programming. The kids poke around the barn and have a great time nailing old boards together and so forth. 

Tonight I finally remembered to take some pictures of our progress. I built an inside door to the stall to keep Rogan out of the haystack. Luckily, there's plenty of scrap lumber around. 

We have a fence! A church friend and his boys put the whole fence up in one morning. In exchange, I plan to teach a home-ec class for his daughter, who is Curly's age. A good, old-fashioned barter. :)

We have all of our hay snug and dry. The July thunderstorms came through right as we were getting it moved, but now that it's done, the weather's beautiful. Typical. 

We opened up an outside door to the horse stall. It had been blocked in with random old windows for the chickens, but we took those out again. 

There's still a lot of work to do. Several lumber piles need to be moved. 

The inside of the stall still needs to be finished. At this point it's about half chicken coop and half garbage. 

One more really cool thing: I drove!!! For the first time in almost four years. I wore my new special tinted lenses. I didn't feel comfortable driving with kids, but I could see well enough to be safe, at least for the five minutes it took to get from the house to the barn. I doubt I'll do it again, but it was kind of cool.

I'm looking forward to spending more time out here. I love working here. 

Quilting Corner

The kids had VBS this morning!

Which means I had time in the house without them. 

Which means I had time to clean. 

You know what they say: that cleaning your house while the kids are in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. 

Anyway, the smallness of my house (which I love) and the bigness of my family (which I love) dictates that I need to be really efficient in my use of space. To that end, I moved Little Mister's computer back into the school room, and moved a stray rocking chair into the corner of the dining room. I'm tired of my quilting project taking up space in the living room, but I won't work on it if it's put away. (The same principle is why our guitars and violins hang on the wall.)

So, I moved the quilt to the dining room, attempting to tuck it into the smallest space possible. 

I think it looks like an old-fashioned "Mom's Mending Corner." :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What we do while waiting at a restaurant


Look bored. 


Eskimo kisses. 

Make silly fish faces. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I got to hike my favorite 3.5 mile loop today. I think I'm the luckiest person in the world to get to hike this place every summer.

Today, I hiked alone, and savored every moment. I didn't have anyone pushing me. I could stop and take time to breathe. So many people would call asthma and low vision liabilities, but I've learned to call them blessings. On a hike when I want to push through and conquer the mountain, these two friends of mine make me stop, pause, take in a view, notice a texture. They make me slow down and observe. To take macro photos instead of landscapes. 

That, my friends, is a gift. It's my unique window on the world, and I get to enjoy it and share it here, in my little space.

Adding descriptions to each photo so my blind friends can also enjoy the post is another gift. I get to think closely about each image rather than slapping them up here and clicking the publish button. Maybe the thoughts can bring more depth; maybe not. But there they are.

My hiking stick. A symbol of weakness to many; to me it's a symbol of strength and endurance and hiking in places where some would say I don't belong. Those places are where I feel most at home.

To touch a rock. The feeling of a rock, cool and solid on the side of the trail, a thrusting upward of the miles of solidity under my feet. The touch is the only real thing in a sea of swimming images around me. It's worth stopping beside the trail to lay my fingertips on the rock.

Moss on a log. Textures of the forest, soft and moist, receding away from me up a hill that I might pass and never even see.

Trail. The trail leads me on, compelling me to follow it and peer around every new corner, rising to every new height. The trail becomes everything.

Optical illusion. Does it go up or down? Life. Good or bad? There is only onward and each new hidden bend in the road.

Vista. The camera can capture a faraway beauty that the eye does not see. But the sense of space, the sounds far in the distance make it seem open, as if the trees do not actually hide anything at all. Concealing becomes illusion instead of reality.

Berries by the trail. Clumps of sweetness or poison, unknown which it is. I'll snap a photo of them, and walk on past.

Erosion. The trail is full of logs half-buried. The earth will try to swallow them, and if it succeeds the rain can be free to wash the trail into oblivion. 

Thimbleberry. And a lacy pattern of holes eaten in a leaf by bugs. Layers of leaves seen through damaged salads and a red berry ripe for picking. Seedy sweetness sitting in sunlight and shadow.

Steep drop-off. Memories of coming down this hill in the rainy dark and fear of this unseen steepness that could take hold of my feet and pull me into gravity's romantic descent. Seeing the steepness today in sunlight should make it more safe: to know the peril is to choose another path, to caress the warm bosom of the patient mountainside.

Stumps. Former trees now waiting for time and rain to reduce growing wood to soft powdered rot and discontinue their ageless task of allowing the path to drape along each trunk.

Growth. This spot, a steep rocky step, I fell last year, my right knee bloodied, my denim torn. This spot, I rose to my feet and kept walking. And this year I did not fall.

Sign at the summit. Jarring reminder to dog owners that their manners mustn't jar. Arrows point, and carved letters spell names of trails that probably have their own names deep in the earth's first song.

Sitting on a log. Stick and shoes and a water bottle leftover from one of Bean's forays into the world of Sprite. Sitting with sweat and accomplishment running down the middle of my back, and still eager to rise again and continue on.

Yarrow growing from a rock in the middle of a trail. Why a rock, little plant? Why the middle of the trail where anyone can step on you? Thank you, because you are strong, and I can see you and touch you right there on your rock in the middle of the trail.

And down again without shade, around the end of 3.5 miles where the Ranger was mending fences, and where my noisy family replaced the solitude of refreshment. Ready again for hugs and stories and sharing snacks. Ready to give more, placed in my own trail, growing from my own rock, I'm also strong.

Summer Reading

Around here, reading is the thing to be doing!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Personalities or Just Age?

Each kid had a quadrant of the tactile town. The Little have a town that looks like a post-tornado disaster zone. The Bigs have towns that look like a civil engineer had a hand in the design. 

Typical [low viz] Morning

I was kind of chuckling at us this morning. My life is such a funny mix of using the visual and non-visual. After a very visual post about yesterday where I was painting faces, this morning I was doing a lot of things non-visually. Still, in the long run, being a parent with a vision impairment is exactly like being a parent with perfect vision. 

But with a few twists. 

I mean, starting out with coffee is fairly standard. 

Piles of laundry waiting to be folded. That's pretty much a given, too. Most of us do that. 

But sitting down to read a ministry newsletter... in Braille. Not everyone does that. 

(Usually I read with two hands. I just had the camera in one.)

The kids were playing with a tactile map produced for blind kids. I think they assume every family has cool toys like this.

And in an absurdly typical burst of low-vision absent-mindedness, I set my phone down to help Bean with something, and immediately lost it. With gritted teeth, I searched all over the house, retracing all the places I could think of with no luck. I was reminded again how useless my vision often is. 

(Yes, I know everyone does this. But Hubby can find something with a visual sweep in about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, I'm wandering around peering at different parts of the table top or performing a search pattern on the floor that would make Military Intelligence proud.)

At last, I found it on the arm of the chair. 

Once I found it, I used it to play some music, because it's time to go start shoveling out the schoolroom. 

A friend and I went shopping all morning on Saturday. I was grateful for both the ride and the company. We both bought school supplies. Which means I have to find new homes for all the new stuff. 

In general, it sounds like a pretty standard Monday morning, doesn't it? 

I figure that it doesn't matter whether I do things visually or non-visually, as long as they get done. At the training center, the teachers talked about efficiency. Use whatever works best. For me, that includes thinking non-visually a lot, since vision is unreliable and often painful. Over the years, I've learned to git 'er done in all sorts of non-visual ways. 

For me, it works fine. 

Face Painting in the Rain

This year's church picnic got rain. It was warm, so nobody minded. We sat around and talked and ate too much and got damp. The water balloon fight went down, but everyone was already so wet, it ended up being a little redundant. 

A friend joined me painting faces this year. That was fun because it gave me some company. The kids were a lot more excited about it since they were anticipating it from last year. And like last year, I took a picture of the faces in order to show the kids, since, like last year, I forgot a mirror.