Camping, Sort Of

This past Wednesday through Friday we had a reservation at a campground near a lake. It had been somewhat of a summer tradition to go there. Last summer we obviously didn’t do it, and I was excited to plan another camping trip when the world got a little safer.

Except our state is in the middle of a drought. And the lake at the campsite was all but dried out. Whatever water remains has developed an algal bloom, so it’s definitely not safe. And Z would still have eyed the lake and asked to go swimming, and she’d be upset that we wouldn’t let her.

It did rain Thursday, but not enough to compensate for all the dryness. The earth was still grateful, though.

So last week I canceled the campsite reservation. And yesterday evening, after the hike, I pitched the tent in the back yard. Z loves the tent.

The three of us and one of the dogs slept in the tent last night. The temperature was neither too hot nor cold, and because Z wore herself out with hiking, she went to sleep relatively quickly.

She woke up and continued to play inside the tent.

I love our back yard.

Oops

I forgot to post yesterday, June 25. It was on my mind to do it. You bet I’m gonna backdate this. (June 25, 2021, 10pm)

We went on a hike to Stewart Falls. It’s an out-and-back hike, totaling four miles. There are some moderately steep parts and some rocky areas, but mostly the trail gently rolls, and it’s shaded with a few sunny parts. I mean, you still have to watch not to trip on roots and tumble down the mountain. All in all, it’s a really pleasant hike with some amazing vistas. One of my favorites.

It’s a little bit steep but relatively short descent past the plungepool, and that’s where we usually go on this hike before turning around.

My brother came along with us, and I think he really liked it, too.

Z especially loves being near the waterfall, and she calls this area, “Good Dinosaur water.”

Have you seen Disney Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur? You should.

Look at this awesome family.

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.

—–

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.

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.