Sunday Sundries

Today my brother told me about how he was on a walk earlier today and got stopped by some missionaries. He told them he grew up Mormon, so he knows their angle.

They asked why he stopped going to church.

They asked him if he still believes in God.

Those are not topics he’s going to talk to just anybody about.

Those are topics even I can barely broach with him.

I mean, people exercise their faith/philosophies very differently. And it sounded like those missionaries were trying pretty hard to get my brother to open up. And it would be one thing if he actually wanted to talk, but it sounded like one those situations that, no matter their efforts, because he didn’t want to talk, they weren’t getting further in that conversation. You know?


Today I only rinsed some of the conditioner from my hair during my shower. And now? My hair feels so silky! I just worry it’ll look and feel greasy tomorrow.


A few weeks ago I got my pixie cut cleaned up at a chain salon. As the stylist snipped, hair rained on the black cape. Not just my dark-brown-almost-black hair, but a bunch of grey, too. The question is: Do I call those lighter hairs grey (definitely with an E) or silver? I mean, I’ve dyed my hair silver in the past, and it has looked rad. And I’ve definitely earned mine, so.


I’ve started a nightly face cleansing routine. Pores and wrinkles and age spots in my face; the slightest crèping in my neck and décolletage. In my 20s and through my 30s I didn’t really wash my face at night. I guess I let the oils in my skin do all the work, and only occasionally my skin would break out and I’d call it yet another puberty. But now, it seems my skin is actually starting to dry out. If I can’t control my silvering hair, then I should be able to regularly clean my face, right? Besides, after washing and moisturizing, I like how soft my face feels.

So, there’s that.

Good Reeds

There ought to be an app that keeps track of reeds. And it should be called Good Reeds.

There probably is. But maybe Goodreads told them to change their name.

I currently use a little notebook documenting the date I open new reeds, the amount of time in subsequent days I play them (usually five minutes), the temperature, and the humidity of each day I play on them as I break the reeds in. And I rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 according to how the feel as I play them. It usually takes about a week to break a reed in to my liking.

It’s been a decent system so far, and I’m currently using some real winners. But I’m also trying to be patient with what seem to be duds. And since I’ve learned how to sand duds into sounding better, I can’t say that very many reeds would go to waste.

I did purchase a synthetic reed today, Legère brand. Opened the package, placed the reed on the mouthpiece. It was immediately ready to go. And the strength of the reed felt really good. Great response and projection. One of those almost cost as much as a box of Vandoren V12s, 3.5 strength, but one of those should last as long as an entire box of bamboo reeds.

I tested the reed on my student clarinet. I can’t wait to get my intermediate clarinet back from the shop. I can’t believe it took a reed to get me extremely excited again about playing.

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It rained today, giving some relief to the land after a pretty intense drought. We hope to get more rain throughout the summer. We hope more people are thinking about water conservation more than they are trying to keep their lawns green.

Progressive Lenses as Metaphor

Not obsessing, I promise.

Just wanted to show you what my glasses do.

See how the text in the top half of the lens is smaller, and in the bottom the text is bigger? My eyeballs need these adjustments. I have contacts that behave like the top half of these lenses, and I’m waiting on my readers to have the correct lenses put in so that I can see up close.

This book is called World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. It’s lovely so far. She discusses different species–flora and fauna–and how they relate to her life and humanity in general. I love her perspective. I love how different people can help us see life in so many different ways.

Aren’t axolotls cute?

Seeing Weeks Ahead

I have been nearsighted since high school. Got my first glasses prescription around 11th grade, and I’ve worn corrective lenses in some form for almost 30 years. And my eyes have progressively gotten worse, though a few years in my 20s my vision slightly improved.

A few years ago, my up-close reading vision started blurring. Which: gross. I told my eye doctor I’d probably need a bifocal lens, so we did tests, and sure enough I needed to add an up-close adjustment to my nearsighted prescription.

This is my third year needing bifocals, and my eyes have learned to use progressive lenses in glasses, where the bottom part is for reading, while the top 2/3 helps me see far away.

But this year I decided to get contacts for seeing distance and readers for seeing up close. I could wear the glasses while wearing contacts. The optometrist office fitted me for contacts, and and I picked out frames for readers. They shipped a year’s supply of contacts that arrived within a few days. The readers took about two weeks.

Saturday late afternoon I picked up the readers. I came home and tried them on over my contact lenses. And. They. Did. Not. Work. I could see more clearly without the readers, but seeing up close with contacts was still blurry. Seems the readers were not adjusted for having them worn over contacts, because when I tried them without contacts, I could actually read books and phones and shit like that. It was slightly annoying.

So I went to the optometrist’s office today and told the manager about the situation. I wore my contact lenses there, and the manager didn’t know if he would be able to get me in to see the optometrist to fix the prescription. Since they were only readers, the manager talked to the optometrist between appointments, who told him to try a few lenses at different strengths to see what worked over the contacts.

So that’s what we did. I held thingies that looked like little magnifying glasses over my eyeballs and told him which strength looked best while I looked at a reading card. The manager took the faulty reading glasses and assured me he’d switch out the lenses, and they’d be ready for me as soon as possible.

I still have my pair of bifocal glasses as a backup whenever I’m not wearing contacts. And if I don’t have to read up close–like, if I’m watching tv or going for a run–the contacts work great.

There are way worse problems in the world. I guess I’m lucky.

Juneteenth

Happy Juneteenth, everyone!

I have to admit, I didn’t know about this part of history until I was an adult. Like, in the last five years. Same goes for the Tulsa Race Massacre, which I had to see dramatized in Watchmen in order for it to hit home. I’m embarrassed about that.

It feels weird wishing others to be happy on this day. Especially to those whose enslaved ancestors suffered firsthand. While it is a celebration of freedom, so much oppression and pain are connected to that. But I do hope Black people will be able to find happiness.

On days surrounding today and the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, resources for learning about Black History flood my social media. I’m so very grateful for that. I use those resources throughout the year to find ways to take real action, to turn abstractions and intellectual exercise into practice and heart for my fellow human beings. I’m learning not to be performative. I’m learning to listen better to know better, so that I can do better.

It’s still a work in progress. I hope we all can help each other.

It’s Electric

Yesterday I asked my brother what he knew about switching out old electrical outlets, the ones with just two slots and no grounding hole. I asked if he had a current reader, and he said he has a multimeter.

Our house is oldish, built in 1955. Most of the electricity has been updated throughout the house, but a few old outlets remained. Thinking about working with electricity sort of freaks me out, and I knew that my brother has all-around experience with lots of handy stuff.

So we went to the hardware store and walked to the outlet section. There are so many types! And prices run the full range. But Brother picked out what he thought our house needed. Nothing too fancy.

When we got home I took a nap while Bro switched out the outlets. Reilly read a book while Z watched Ratatouille. The breaker box labeled a lot of the outlets wrong, so we spent some time finding out which switches actually controlled which outlets. Bro found out about one via tiny shock. Zzzt.

Poor guy.

Anyway, our house has better hookups now.

The end.

Fixing Clarinets

Today I took my newer, not-my-33-year-old-student-model, Bb clarinet to the shop. I told the repairman it needed its yearly maintenance tune-up and to look at the transition between open G and B5: the seal might not be completely closed for a smooth jump up the register. He said that my place in the queue puts repairs about 10 days out.

So I can play my student model and/or my A clarinet in the meantime.

I also took my Gretsch metal clarinet apart today. The head on one of the screws had worn completely flat, so I spent some time gently hammering my smallest flathead screwdriver into that screw to form a groove deep enough for unscrewing. It got to where if I pushed hard enough into the screw and turned lefty-loosey, enough of the screw would be above the hole for me to unscrew the rest using needlenose pliers.

Glad that worked.

Gotta look at the springs and clean the keys and screws; replace the rest of the pads. Then put it all back together. I wonder if I have to buy a junk metal clarinet for parts just so that I get screws the right length. The repair kit I have is for modern clarinets, and not all the screws are the same size as those from the metal clarinet. Most of the screws are still good, though–it’s just the one that has a bad head.

It looks cool. Even if I don’t get it playing perfectly or at all, working on it is pretty fun.

June 14

Today is Wednesday, June 16. Which means I’ve distanced by two days when Z got her first cavity filled.

We scheduled the appointment last Wednesday, and I’ve tried not to stress out about it for five days.

When Monday came, we didn’t really know what to expect. Like we thought we’d try the nitrous oxide. And we didn’t know if she’d keep the mask on. Or how she’d react to the gas.

But Z sat down in the big chair. The assistant lay the seat completely flat. She put the little rubber snout thing over Z’s nose, and she didn’t push it away. Reilly got out his phone for her to look at while the dentist was busy.

The first minute was the worst minute.

The rest of it went the best it possibly could. Z relaxed really well and the dentist worked quickly. It seemed like a long time, but after applying sealant to the other molars and then cleaning out the cavity and then putting in the glue then the filling, I guess maybe 20-25 minutes passed? There was also a lot of water and air and suction and that flashy sterilizing light thing. It happened fast and in slow-motion at the same time.

I sat at the foot of her chair and gently squeezed her leg to let her know I was there. Reilly was next to me. That was probably more for our peace of mind than to comfort Z. She seemed completely fine.

I think maybe she was just enjoying the gas the whole time.

She really did terrific. Couldn’t have gone better.

I’m so grateful.

Quick Entry

We watched a scary movie this evening, and it’s pretty late, but I wanted to jot down that the word décolletage has been on my brain lately. First, because I’m starting to notice aging in that part of my body, and I’ve been trying to slow that down by applying moisturizer with AHA. Second, on the show Mad Men, Joan tells Jane–Don’s new secretary–to button up her blouse because her décolletage is showing, and she’s not being very professional.

It’s a random thing, but it may prove useful later on. We’ll see.

The scary movie was decently scary. It’s called Anything for Jackson, and apparently it’s that director’s first ever horror movie. Before this he directed a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies. Fascinating.

Anyway, I did do some deeper thinking today, basically continuing the discussion from Sunday’s class.

It’s nice to form thoughts. Sometimes my mind isn’t clear enough for it, but I’m learning to do it in order to clear my mind, so that I can form better, more substantial, meaningful thoughts.

It’s all a process.

An Article About Poetry

I was scrolling my Twitter feed yesterday and came across this article, which happens to discuss one of my favorite poems, WS Merwin.

To participate in Mental Health Awareness Month last month, I read a biography of Sylvia Plath. This month I read a revised edition of her Ariel. What I did not know was that Merwin and Plath were contemporaries. And since I had the amazing opportunity to meet Merwin in 2011, transitively I also met Plath. It counts, right?

I digress.

The article analyzes one of Merwin’s shortest poems, “Elegy.” And author Devin Kelly hooked me with this gem:

I’ve learned things from poems for the same reason people learn about anything: because they’ve spent quality time with it. When you sit with a single poem for a long time, when you type it out, when you speak it, when you try to unpack a line or feel the way a phrase fills your mouth, you begin to notice more about what the poem offers outward. When you pay attention — to anything, really, that has also been paid attention to in its creation — then the act of attention does not serve as an act of narrowing. Rather, it’s an opening — a givingness, to use that word again. All these doors open up the more you pay attention. They open out to light. They open to other rooms, other floors. They open to a hidden staircase. Another door.

Quality time is one of my love languages. Sitting with someone or something and letting it unravel, or actively unpacking it is one of my favorite things to do.

And I haven’t come across a single poem in my very limited experience with them that hasn’t invited me to spend time with it. I wouldn’t call them friendly nor aloof, but perhaps … alluring. And there hasn’t been a single poem I haven’t learned from.

Poems offer a chance to choose your own adventure. Or at least to hang on for a ride.

Read the whole article. Pay attention. You won’t regret it.