May 23

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.

May 23

Not just another Monday

This evening I asked my lovely bride, who is now fighting off a head cold, if she would be offended if I left her on the sofa and went on a bike ride. It was my first ride in a week or more, somehow, and I hate when that happens, because I hate how those breaks make my legs feel.

But the light under these trees, on a gray and overcast day no less, was magical.

This is the same road, but coming back out from the dead end.

So that was one of the highlights of today. One of ’em, anyway.

One of the highlights of the weekend was Saturday morning. My lovely bride, who was not fighting a head cold then, was off in a local sprint triathlon she does every year. It’s close enough that there’s no travel involved, but she still has to get up early. And, thankfully, she lets me sleep in for this one.

But I had errands to run, so I set an alarm. I set an alarm for Saturday morning. (Oh, the indignity!)

First, it was to the recycling center. It’s a task that always seems bigger than it is. We sort as we go, so it’s just a matter of putting four big tubs in the car, wrangling in whatever cardboard you can get in there, and then driving two miles to the conveniently located recycling center. The hard part is remembering which of their giant bins is for steel, and which is for glass and aluminum. (I think they move some of them around.) So it’s easy enough then, which means I’ve now built momentum.

After that, I visited the Surplus Store. It was a special, overstocked Saturday sale, and you never know. So I did two laps, saw nothing I wanted or needed, and then hit the third chore of the day: a drive across town to replace two tires on the car.

The tire shop I use is on a road filled with mechanics and auto parts places. It’s an area I have no real need to go to on a regular basis, so I use a maps app. As luck would have it, they were able to fit my car into their schedule for the day. Moved the front tires to the rear, put two new tires on the front. The same thing I did three years ago and not all that many miles ago, actually, so now I have almost matched tires.

I got hungry as I waited, so I opened up the maps app to see if anything was in walking distance. There was a Steak ‘n Shake, another restaurant that uses apostrophes incorrectly, but they’ve got good milkshakes, so all is forgiven. I started walking that way. Along the way, I called an audible, because there was also a Mexican restaurant nearby, a bit closer, in fact. I went there. They had sweet tea, which is why you always ask. I had huevos con chorizo, and a tea. The waiter, a kind, older gentleman with reasonably good English kept calling me buddy. It amused him that I ordered mostly in Spanish, but I did not know the phrase “tortilla de harina.”

Finished my lunch and walked back to the tire shop, trying to recall the last spontaneous thing I did like that. Trying to remember the last time I ate alone.

It was before the pandemic began. One of my favorite things to do has always been to sit and eat and read. Only we don’t go out to eat anymore, except when traveling, really. Surprisingly, I don’t miss dining out, something I’d long seen as one of my bad habits. But there I was, being spontaneous, and eating out, and doing it alone. It was, I realized, a big day.

Which was just before I realized I need to liven things up.

Can do! Just you wait and see.

Anyway, I have new tires now. And The Yankee made it back from her triathlon, her first since her big, horrible crash last September. Two weeks prior she finished her PT, but she still projected as being a few months away from a full recovery.

She won her age group.

I spent a few minutes yesterday finally updating the art on the front page of the site. Same style, different decoration. There are a dozen new images for you to enjoy, though, all from our trip to Andorra in March. They look like this.

So, if you like mountain views, click that link, and enjoy.

Which brings us to the site’s most popular weekly feature. It’s time, once again, to check in on the kitties.

Here’s Phoebe, enjoying yesterday afternoon on her blanket. We have four blankets like this. This one she’s claimed as her own. And if it isn’t out, there’s a whole ordeal of silent staring and judging.

She also enjoyed a bit of window time this weekend, looking out over the shrubs, watching the birdies and the squirrels.

Poseidon found a new box, and so, of course, Poseidon had to get in the box.

He was not successful in this case, though he did push it all around the floor for a while.

I am not sure what is going on with this pose. It took me a while to figure out which paw was which. But he looks cozy, I guess?

The cats are doing just fine. And if they understood Mondays, I’m sure they’d wish you a happy one.

May 23

Friday, May 12th

May 23

Thursday, May 11th

May 23

Wednesday, May 10th