Not quite Olympic athletes but they're rarely at rest.
The 8th was the date of my eye exam. I was sure of that, but I couldn’t remember what scrap of paper I wrote the time on, so I called the scheduler. 1:30PM she said. Excellent. Time enough to get the pickiup through Jiffy Lube beforehand.
At supper time I got a phone robocall. It said my appointment was at 2PM and then there were a lot of instructions that I couldn’t hear fast enough to grasp. Except that I did get one point: I must bring money and a photo ID and a list of every med I take. Then I got another robo call — some woman who belongs to a breast cancer society and who calls about once a month. I always hang up on her. I have breasts but no cancer.
So I don’t have to hurry in the morning which makes the kittens happy because they love to crawl all over me while I’m supposedly sleeping. Their parcours starts in the brambles at top, chew on that fungus at the side of head for a minute or so, slide into dip between earlobe and shoulder and climb the shoulder knob with crampons (claws). Down the arm to the elbow bend, then hop over to the ribs — spend some time running and up and down the rib cage, racing and winning and insisting on do-overs. Finally, they take a bit of a rest on the hill of hip, then march along leg, but don’t finish because they so love to curl up back of my knees and nap until I get up. If I’m not cautious, throwing the covers back with vigor, I’m liable to launch the kittens into outer space. Luckily, they’re resilient.
It takes an hour and a half to drive to Great Falls. I see burned-over fields, burned patches in the borrow pits, uncut wheat, and houses that are standing empty. Way too much chemical fallow created with Roundup — that’s Glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine). The speed limit has been increased to 80mph which means the Canadians are travelling at 90mph. I don’t know what that is in kilometers, but I do know that there is constant traffic between Calgary or Lethbridge and Great Falls. Clean new powerful cars, all male driven.
The Jiffy Lube had become Valvoline. The manager is efficient, I think somehow connected to Malmostrom Air Force Base — this is a barracks town. He guides me over the pit as though I were a fighter plane landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Double-quick, he fills up, checks out, airs up, and tops off everything. We decide I need a new air filter and one of his helpers, who looks just about old enough to drop out of high school, comes over to show it. “Here’s your air filter, darlin’, he says daringly as though he’s in the movies.
“You better be careful,” I chide him. If you go around calling women “darlin’” they might decide to go home with you! You might not want some old woman moving in with you.”
Quickly blushing, he says, “I’ve already got an old woman at home.”
“Well, that’s good, because I’m a really lousy cook!” Too deep for him. He was momentarily flustered and couldn’t quite get the air filter to install for a few minutes. Then in a bit I heard him confiding to his co-worker with delight in his voice as though I were some cutie, “And then she said…”
Barnes and Noble because the bookstore is attached to a fake Starbucks. No books bought. Skinny latté and broccoli and tomato quiche. Cold. I hate to wait for zapping.
When I tried to get to the Vision Center, I got lost in new housing projects and ended up at the graveyard where Charlie Russell was buried. Finally figured out how to escape the circling, twining, cul de sac streets — boy, what ugly houses! Got to the Vision Center just as the sky broke open and drowned my list of meds by the time I got to the door.
It turned out that the difference in time of appointment was because I had two appointments, but didn’t know it. One was for the peripheral vision machine, etc., and one was for Dr. Padilla. An attendant, in navy blue scrubs and day-glo red clogs that she said her boy friend thought made her look like a clown, conducted me through all the tests with lots of praise and encouragement. It turns out that they have invented a handheld machine that measures intraocular pressure without touching the eyeball. I no longer have to sweat the allergy issue because now no novocaine.
The glaucoma score was less than before, within normal range. No diabetes damage. No toxoplasmosis. No change in vision: 20/whatsis. Come back in six months. Congrats on handling the ocular rosacea. I grin.
Thaddeus, who was once Dr. P’s scribe, is now running a little oculist’s niche. His name is the same as my ex-father-in-law, long ago gone over the horizon, and he has the same positive outlook. He has two sons, one 14 and one 9, and recounted his son’s wrestling match with homework procrastination over the weekend, which the boy barely won by heroically not sleeping. I showed him how to call up my blog on his laptop and we saw the Cluster Map pop up “Great Falls.” So he may read this. Thaddeus is the kind of dad most of us longed for. They do exist.
Got gas at the Dinosaur station which has a big green fiberglass diplodocus chained to a lamp post. Someone ran over its tail and amputated the end. I was navigating 10th Av south much better since I replaced the shattered passenger side rearview mirror. No one could ship one that didn’t break in transit until after a long search I found an outfit that shipped in a big empty box with the mirror suspended in the middle.
On my way home with dilated eyes, the sky that had been piled up with great mounds of purple cumulus now parted and poured dazzle in my face. Once on the freeway there was no traffic and once I found my wraparound sunglasses I could see the road.
When I got home and collapsed on the bed, the kittens came rushing to start in the brambles at the top, chew on the fungus, etc. They’ve mastered the cat flap and the garage ferals have been watching closely but don’t quite dare come in. I don't know how they feel about parcours. They’re about a week older than Tux and Doux, but much more cautious. The Granny MotherCat made a lunge to rake my hand and I lost my temper and bonked her on the head with the cat food saucer. (It’s just plastic.)
Then I slept the sleep of the righteous, good scores, and a long drive.