I criticized the font of the eye chart

I had a nice tomato basil soup for dinner this evening. It aged well.

Which is a thing I can say because the little date stamped on the bottom of the can was well behind me. This is from the Covid 2020 stash. Stuff I bought in February of that year. The Yankee was off to watch a marathon, had probably not even heard the word “Covid” yet, and I went to the store to stock up.

This was the first weekend of March of that year. I hit the grocery store, counted out enough things to get through two-plus easy weeks. Then I went to the hardware store next door and me and another guy there tried to figure out which of the few masks they had on hand were the right ones for the circumstance. I knew a tiny bit more than we did, we made our decisions and parted ways friendly, each with half of what they had — which wasn’t much. At the house I found a big plastic storage bin and stowed all of my new food supplies in it, in reverse order, so the most perishable things, the crackers I think it was, would be on top. I had notes, so that every so often, there would be an injection of those things nearing the end of their shelf life into the diet.

Fortunately we never had to rely on that bin, because grocery store workers were essential workers for a time, whether they were paid that way, or supported that way, or not. For a brief time, as I recall, we even ate better than normal. I remember being on a chat with friends and we were comparing dinner notes and someone shared their menu and I thought, “Who knew dystopia would include crab cakes?” But despite the occasional to regular shortages on shelves, we never had many problems. With the exception of peanut butter, and having to change bread brands for a while, we were exceedingly fortunate.

Over time that bin got out of sight, and then out of mind, but recently I dug it up. Now I’m going to work my way through what’s left inside of it.

Meaning lots of soups. But, around here, we say “Hooray soup!”

There’s a School of Optometry at IU. And you can do eye exams there. I’d never gone, but everyone you ask will rave about it. You’re seen by a student studying optometry, and they are supervised by a professor. The only knock is that if you make an appointment you should settle in, because it takes a while.

So I was ready. Appointment booked, calendar cleared. Showed up a few minutes early, even. And then a tall young man came out, called my name, took me upstairs, called me sir a lot and gave me the full two-hour workup. He’d been doing this clinical internship for about two months, he said, but he had the calm, patient and steady demeanor of someone who’d done this for a long, long time. He’s about halfway through the program, he said, and he plans to go home and practice in Winnipeg, where he studied biology in undergrad.

Also, I am a terrible patient. He got to the point of the exam where he had to drip drops in my eyes and my face is not interested in any of that. By the second time of dripping drops — this is a complete exam — my eyelids just refused to open. I had no control of them. The poor guy had to pry my left eye open, like it was a fight.

It’s a water on my face thing, an anything in my face thing, really. I step out of the shower and must immediately dry my face. In the pool, in the ocean, get that water away from my eyes. The dentist’s office? An exercise in zen patience that I can only just muster. Its those hands in my face.

Which brings up that little blue pen light test. It is attached to the exam station, the one where you put your chin in the little cup. The examiner sits on the other side, all the special lens stuff between you, and one of those devices is a long, slender piece of equipment, the blue light which comes right to your eyeball. Right up to it, he says, which was funny because my poor ol’ eyeballs were so recently traumatized by his foreign liquids.

It is some sort of hand cranked device, I think, and he moves it closer. I’m sure it is operating smoothly, but all of this is happening in the most compact focal plane possible, so it felt, to my traumatized eyes, like it was moving in fits and starts. The aversive part of my brain was not having that, either.

I am a terrible patient, but my intern was great. We had to wait for his supervisor to come in for the final sign off, so we talked about all sorts of optometry things. I learned a lot about things they can diagnose before your GP, which was rather fascinating.

And, I had photos taken of the layers of the back of my eyeballs. My guy said they’d had the machine for just a few weeks, and that IU was one of two American universities that had this on campus. My eyes were examined by cutting edge technology.

He also said “Perfect!” a lot in relation to my eyes. After a thorough exam — because my guy is learning — we can say my eyes are, in fact, pretty good. For my age.

No surprise here, but I am very much behind on the Re-Listening project. So let’s get into it so, over the next several days we can get through it. Before long we’ll finally make it into the 21st century. I think we’re in 1999. Remember, I’m playing all of these in the car in the order that I acquired them. These aren’t reviews, of course, but just an excuse to fill some content and play some music.

How far behind are we? We might catch up by the end of the week. At which point I’ll have probably worked through a couple more discs.

Anyway, it’s 1998 or 1999, though this CD is from 1994. It’s the band’s first studio album, though their second record was their major label debut. So after “Somewhere More Familiar,” I went back and found Sister Hazel’s eponymous record. (Universal re-released it because the entire music business is just a naked cash grab.) No singles, but it does have an early acoustic version of their breakthrough hit, “All for You.”

That track got a whole new recording for their next record, and that second version peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Everything on this particular record feels a lot leaner, somewhere between a collection of demos and a polished high-end production. But sometimes that lets the instrumentation and the heart shine through a bit more.

Also, someone’s dog makes a wonderful guest starring role, which makes the bubba riff forgivable.

The real gem of the record, the one that you’ll want to skip other songs to get to, is the last track, a pretty great Sam Cooke cover.

I’m almost a Sam Cooke purist, but that cover does something right.

Anyway, this was a record for Sister Hazel fans, and, to me, generally a cheery background soundtrack. They’ll pop up once or twice more, later in the Re-Listening project. Or, if you don’t want to wait that long, go see them on tour. I caught them a few times back then, and the boys from Gainesville, Florida (they’ll mention that a lot) put on a good show. They have 28 dates scheduled across North America this summer.

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