My a1c blood sugar test -- which is a test that gives a number accumulated over time and therefore is more accurate than the daily blood stab at the kitchen table -- was 6.6 which is good because it is inside the 7 number that’s supposed to be the approximate break point between gradual organ damage (eyes) and not. No one knows for sure. It’s just a guess. Diabetes II might not even be diabetes, but a spin-off of a deeper metabolic disorder. Is that good or bad? We know too much and not enough.
My diet is relentless -- I do not vary off it, period. In so many other things I’m a feckless wanderer who just lets things go. “Does it really matter?” I ask and most of the time it doesn’t. Diet matters and so I maintain a lot of little tricks, the way I was taught long ago by a Weight Watchers leader who had two severely allergic children.
To get some foods and some office supplies I need, I drive to Great Falls, eighty miles away, once a month. In winter less often than that. It’s always an adventure and I follow a little route. People say, “Oh, stop by the next time you’re down.” But I never do. It’s enough of an effort to drive down, hit the stores I need, fighting traffic all the way, and then head for home, dehydrated and desperate to escape. Wondering what I forgot.
All the interactions with clerks make me slightly giddy. Sometimes I play it like my father, who clowned in public. So I use my little repertoire of jokes and invent silliness. Other times I play it like my mother and chat up the people in the line. Yesterday it was a man behind me who was buying pink Depends for his mother and imitation briefs (really Depends) for his father. He said they were in their nineties, had Alzheimer's, and lived in protected environments. They won’t know what they’re wearing but it just seemed a gesture. I tried to think of something comforting and said, “At least you can still give them hugs.” That made him smile. Later in the day I tried it on someone else and that person was irritated. You have to know your audience.
I was looking for a certain kind of toothpick, a “brush pick,” and hit three stores before I found them. One of the members of the Browning Methodist church. Debbie, was also there so we had a real conversation. She is one of the forces for good behind the recent and startling organization of people wanting to improve the lives of cats and dogs in Browning. She pointed out that they don’t have the usual small town feral cat problem because there are so many big underfed dogs that they give new meaning to the term catfood. Cooperating veterinarians come to do a sterilize-and-replace clinic every now and then. The people think of dogs as another independent tribe that just happens to live with human beings, not as dependents for whom humans must have responsibility. But taking good care of animals is one of the ways to encourage compassion and patience with human beings, so it is a way of diminishing violence for everyone.
At the office supply store I always have to fight myself to keep from buying gizmos but I lost the fight. The gizmo is a “finger mop” that is microfibers that will pick up dust. It’s shock pink and looks like a handful of soft noodles or maybe a sea anemone. The idea is to keep my mouse pad clean. My old mouse pad is worn too slick to work, so I’ve been using the back of a notebook. Is there a way to renew the surface on mouse pads? I got attached to the photo on the old one. This time I bought a plain mouse pad so I wouldn’t get attached to it. I get attached to everything.
Part of my mission was a lunch meeting with Jerry Goroski who was the curator and administrator of the CM Russell Museum between 1978 and 1988. Except that he didn’t have time to eat lunch. Those were the years I was gone in the ministry, so I’d never met him. He’s working with a printing company now. He had not read “Bronze Inside and Out,” nor did he know it existed. Until the end of Bob’s life he was working with Bob, so we both knew a lot of things and did a lot of sharing. The “cowboy art” scene in Montana has been a fireworks show for the last few decades. Now it is fizzling. Sculpture is particularly vulnerable to money-making schemes because bronzes are a matter of manufacturing and the public does NOT know how to judge quality or what practices are ethical. Bronze casting has become easy and cheap. One bronze caster said to me, “You know, once in a while I have to say to people ‘maybe it would be better to just give that piece to your mom for a keepsake.’”
The barristas at Barnes and Noble, where we met, are always interesting. This time there was a very big woman, all in black including a floor-length skirt and a scarf Russian-style, tied at the back of the neck. The scarf had a skull printed on it so that the teeth hit right between her eyebrows. She was a cheerful young woman with blood red lipstick. Strangely, none of the familiar art magazines were on the rack: no Southwest Art nor Art in the West, etc. Were they shelved somewhere else? Just sold out? I never discovered. Jerry and I mused on the way Bob Scriver has been entirely purged from the CM Russell Museum except for the doorknobs, which are small buffalo skulls Bob made, and the big heroic portrait of Charlie. Sometimes I think art is the most vengeful business a person can enter. I include publishing in that.
The checker at the last store was more than six feet tall, almost as wide, a male Indian with a cleft palate and an attitude. I didn’t ask to borrow his pen but searched my pockets and found one. He said he didn’t care -- it was all electronic anyway.
The alfalfa is being cut so the drive was steeped in the winey smell of fresh-cut windrows drying in the field, waiting for the bailer. The wheat in some places looks ready to cut -- though you can’t really tell without rubbing some in your hands to check moisture content and the forming of the kernels. I saw a pronghorn antelope buck posing on the edge of a bluff while scanning the country. Smoke from the fires in the inner forests of the Rockies obscured the whole southern part of the mountains. I’m still not used to seeing two watertowers when I drive into Valier.