We headed out for a ride in the lush green countryside, through bean fields, wheat stubble after harvest, freshly mown hay being rolled into large round bales, gently rolling hills as far as the eye could see.  The day was warm and sunny with comfortably low humidity.  We took our time as we traveled to Harveyville, Kansas, a thriving metropolis populated with 136 male and 114 female humans and at least a two cats.  One of the cats is huge, by far the largest cat I have ever seen — friendly, but as usual, in charge of the Jepson Pottery Studio.

The studio is filled with hundreds of finished pieces as well as many that are in various stages on their way to completion.  Owner Barry was busy at the wheel turning some unusual looking vases (I think), interacting with two of his four young adult children while he worked.

We had taken to him a dinner plate we purchased at a Medical Supply store. The plate is made of some sort of very sturdy plastic, functional, but hardly pleasing to look at.  It is obviously a plate for use by those with dexterity problems.  The center of the plate is about a half inch deep providing a wall against which the food can be pushed to get it on the fork or spoon.  Without that deep lip, the food often just slides off the edge of the plate on to the table or Mary Ann’s lap or the floor.  The plastic plate is very light, demanding a piece of Dycem (www.dycem.com/), given us by our Occupational Therapist, to keep the plate from slipping.

He made one plate for us to try.  It worked.  Today we picked up five more plates so that we will always have a couple clean for both of us to use. They look great.  Mary Ann had picked the colors, a deep red with an uneven thin blue area around the rim. The plates are heavy, so no Dycem is needed.

We had already gotten four of the chili bowls with handles made with the same colors.  Those bowls have sides high enough so that, as with the plates, the spoon can be pushed against the side to get the cereal on the spoon without sliding over the edge.  I had often needed to feed her the cereal especially when she got to the last one third of the contents of the bowl.  With the chili bowl, I seldom have to help. She can use the handle to tip the bowl, making it easier to get the last of the cereal on the spoon and into her mouth.

He also made us some deep salad bowls, that, along with the chili bowls, can be used for ice cream should that be necessary. By the way, after picking up the ceramics, we drove another half hour or so to stop at the Braum’s in Emporia for hot fudge Sundaes with pecans.

I recognize that it would have been cheaper to use the functional plastic plates.  It is also true that just because Mary Ann has Parkinson’s Disease does not mean the aesthetics of our environment are no longer relevant.  If anything, they are more relevant.  We have less opportunity to get out and see beauty since we are at home most of the time.  We choose to have a quality of life that is nurturing and stimulating.  Objects of beauty are not just unnecessary extravagances but are visual cues that our life together is not just a matter of getting by until we die.

For some reason, Mary Ann did not at all warm up to the idea of using one of the plates to hold birdseed and be placed on one of the flat rocks in the waterfall area in our back yard.  It would look so great!

Today I encouraged Barry Jepson to set up a small area in the shows he does all over the country, an area with items that are user friendly for those with physical limitations.  Since it is a very busy time for him, he is not yet ready to put these new plates on his web site, but hopefully it will happen soon.

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