Working in the Yard

Today Reilly borrowed his dad’s truck and some chainsaws. He and my brother cut down some ugly trees from our yard. Trees that were rotting. And not providing useful shade. And blocking sunlight from plants we actually like. We’ve been meaning do this for years now, but we’ve finally got around to doing something about it. After cutting down the trees, Reilly and my brother made a couple of trips to the dump to dispose of them. The yard looks much better, which improves the facade of our house.

One of the trees exposed one side of a bush that desperately needs water and sunlight. The bush also needed trimming, which is what I worked on. I wish I’d taken a before photo, but here’s what the bush looks like now. I still need to take off another inch or two. By the way, it’s the other side of this bush that looks horrible and needs nurturing. Maybe once it grows back I can sculpt the whole bush into a family selfie or something:

Speaking of sculpting, handling those shears gave my shoulders a workout.

My arms are going to be sore tomorrow.

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.

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.

Comment

Today after our main church service I attended another meeting, sort of like a Sunday school class. The teacher led a pretty good discussion, and a thousand thoughts entered my head at the same time, reacting to everyone else’s thoughts.

I hadn’t attended a class like this since March 2020. And even pre-pandemic I didn’t raise my hand very often to contribute to the discussion. Without rehearsing I get really nervous speaking in front of people, especially after 15 months of not speaking in front of them. Yet today I felt my throat opening up and my vocal cords readying for air to pass through them as my brain prepared my lungs to expel this air as actual speech.

Which, at the same time, my adrenaline levels had significantly increased, causing my armpits to heavily perspire.

So I made my comment. And then I was done. And I listened intently to the rest of the discussion while wondering if I had said something wrong or offensive. Adrenaline was still pumping so I remained sweaty, but I was also sitting underneath the air conditioning (and close to a floor vent), so I was also freezing. But my shivering may have also been residual nerves?

I don’t know.

After class, someone made eye contact and said she was glad to see me. And that I made a great comment and had nodded the entire time I was talking.

I was grateful for that. She made the fear sweats worth it.

Fifty

Today’s the 50th day in a row that I’ve blogged. Not that a lot of those posts actually said anything important. But it seems significant to form a thought and write it down. Real action. Sort of. Whether those thoughts develop into something more substantial is a different story, but looking back at the past 50 days, all those posts had potential to become more. It’s encouraging to see the potential in things.

I can’t decide whether the past 50 days passed slowly or quickly.

The next 50 days are summer days.

Should be interesting enough.

Ten minutes left in the day. Cutting it close.

Here’s another clarinet video. Still in the mood for cheesy love songs. I’m a real sucker for those.