Thursday, November 16, 2017


The way I used to roll on road trips was to rise at dawn, stop halfway there for a bacon/egg/hashbrown breakfast with lots of coffee, and pull into the destination midmorning with my head full of plans.  Now I rise at the regular time (2nd time, maybe 9AM) wait for the roads to thaw, eat oatmeal, drink two cups coffee, and stop halfway to the destination in order to pee.  Sigh.  Luckily, there’s a rest stop halfway to Great Falls.  That’s my whole plan.

My appointment was at 1:30.  It went well.  This is the Eye Clinic of Great Falls, not the Great Falls Clinic Vision Center where my opthamologists have left the clinic for the third time.  The Eye Clinic of Great Falls, new to me, is a small downtown family style group as contrasted with a massive and rather silly building out in the fields past Benefis Hospital.  They hire bossy young women to push around those lesser species who are patients. 

Dr. Josh Hager

I print-bombed Dr. Josh Hager with my post about eyes.  He wasn’t defensive, he didn’t discount it, he asked me intelligent questions about me and my eyes.  When I told him which eye stain I’m so allergic to that it seals my eyes shut for 24 hours and I joked that would mean I’d have to stay overnight with him, no matter what his wife might say, he assured me she would help anyone who needed it.  She’s from “The Knees” which is not exactly a town, but an area in North Central Montana sort of NW of Carter.  Historic M├ętis country, actually.  He himself is from Texas hill country.

He just didn’t use the dye.  I was afraid he’d be upset that I ordered some glasses frames from Zenni, (Chinese, super cheap) but he said he’d done the same.  So it went.  He explained a lot of things without patronizing, and went through my 3-ring binder of retina photos and readings from older clinic visits, saying which ones were really useful to him.  He took a couple more but was reassuring.  

This is a place of country people without pretension, who nevertheless know what they’re doing.  He worried about me driving home with dilated eyes, but I went up to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and that gave time for recovery.  The mechanic was a cheerful girl with long hair who didn’t call me “dear” until I was leaving.  (I'm not the kind of old person who is frail and thin, but rather a shiny apple oldster which deceives people -- they think I'm jolly.)  The male oil changers down in the hole under the pickup kept muttering about how old the pickup was.  They had to use a mallet to get the old oil filter off.  100,000 miles since the last time I was in.

By the time I was headed north on the highway, later than usual, it was beginning to be dusk and dilated eyes were just the thing.  I’d been worrying about this trip — I hate driving in Great Falls — but now it’s over.  I’ll try not to stall for 100.000 miles again.

Driving into a November sunset on the Montana prairie is like driving into a Turner painting of a sea on fire.  The sun was low on my left and projecting the pickup shadow onto the land to the right with a kind of sundog/rainbow coming out of the top.  A huge rolling ominous storm shelf had been pushing over the Rockies all day and now it was indigo with opal sky above it that gradually darkened into nimbus of no color.

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