Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Dawn is at 8AM now and sundown is at 4:30 PM.  In between, anything could happen, but yesterday it didn't, except for the usual sky show of silver and purple.  It was a good day for driving to Great Falls for an overdue eye exam.  My eyes are of concern because of age, diabetes, and overuse.  The exam is a happy event because the Eye Clinic of Great Falls is cheerful, competent, and friendly.

So this is about a layered event: the planet turning through its patterned but various events, the human business of helping people see, and world news about what might be the end of civilization as we know it.  Actually it IS the end of what we know: the end of Enlightenment thought, the end of the industrial revolution but not its effects, the end of WWII institutions and people, the end of humans as privileged above other animals, and the death of God.  Very confusing.  We have a lot of work to do.

The first step seems to be ignoring all the rules, even the unwritten social conventions, and doing whatever suits or profits.  No consequences were expected, so they have been a surprise.  We are lucky that the main perps are such clowns that what they do is now out in the open, except we are chagrined to discover that millions and billions of dollars have been shifting around the world without us realizing it or participating.  But that's not what yesterday meant to me. 

I hadn't been to Great Falls for a long time and when I go I don't usually go downtown.  Many more shops have closed, often appealing and standard ones.  I was looking for a place to grab a burger and ended up in a fancy joint with ten-dollar hamburgers that featured avocado rather than fried onions.  There was a big help staff, all looking as though they just got out of college, no espresso machine but a corner that sold alcohol.  The clients included older women in clumps and preoccupied older single men.  Art on the walls was abstract, unframed.

I found two art galleries, one that combined several businesses like publishing a free magazine about the area, as well as hanging a sequence of artists too young for me to know, none extraordinary.  All competent.

http://wranglergalleryart.com/brad-hamlett-biography.html  startled me -- it is directly from the Sixties Western art scene, the artists I knew personally, the kind of bronzes that knocked us out in those days, well-worn cowboy regalia -- I couldn't go inside so this is from peering in the window.  Brad Hamnett, the owner, is involved in Helena and was active with the Russell Auction, which seems natural, since business, government and Western art have always been related.  But there hasn't been a gallery like this in Great Falls for a long time in spite of the CMR Museum.  There is no trace of Bob Scriver www.artnet.com/artists/bob-scriver/  which is not surprising since he had little to do with this crowd, but there is a high visibility of Charlie Beilwww.askart.com/artist/Charles_A_Beil/119848/Charles_A_Beil.aspx  which is unusual.  He was close to Bob Scriver but his studio was in Banff and usually he's not well known down here.  Ace Powell and his wife Nancy McLaughlin were on the list.

The Eye Center of GF is from an entirely different context, the Malmstrom Air Force Basehttps://eyeclinicgf.com/meet-the-doctors/   Josh, my eye guy, is a handsome young man with a pretty wife, two pre-school sons, and a new place to move into this weekend, a country spot with a kid-friendly landscape, something like where their father grew up in central Texas.  All the people in this Center are conventionally and highly qualified as well as belonging to professional organizations.  This is in contrast to small medical practices with sub-conventional qualifications in service to people with chronic incurable but maintainable conditions who must stay on a schedule monitoring drug intake.  (A perfect opportunity for opioid abuse.)

I mentioned the sound of the big "cargo" C-planes in the night, either practicing, as they like to do here on the East Front, or leaving for the other side of the planet.  I tried to tie that to the news that satellites show that Russia has sent heavy ground machines to Ukraine, possibly preparing for invasion.  We didn't talk politics, though I made my usual cracks about Trump and war.  Josh is in the National Guard and he does not kid.

So he is earnest about eyes and concerned about how to help me keep my body up to my self-imposed work.  My life has been hard on my body, since I gave it little attention, but has nearly overwhelmed me with things to think and write about.  Computers, likewise, have been a leap in productivity but hard on eyes.  My cataracts are developing, my glaucoma is at 19 now, approaching the necessity for meds.  But the computerized machines of the Center no longer require my eyes being numbed or poked and there was a dilating solution mild enough to let me drive home with my photo of eye interiors.

I google all the time, not for shopping but to keep track of the world in several senses -- theory, research, and medical strategy.  One of my "feeds" is STAT https://www.statnews.com, which is for professionals, mostly about the companies and the meds they are developing.  It is a scary look into the politics of pharmacy, ranging from CRISPR editing baby genomes to battlefield pain relief.  Much of it is bluff and hype -- not at all the sure magic we think of as meds.  

Previously I went to the Great Falls Clinic for my eyes and other things over the decades.  Dr. Jordan sealed holes in my retinas after the Saskatoon doctors refused to look.  Aboriginal people there complain of prejudice, but white Canadians also reject white Americans.  Recently there were three eye docs at the GF Clinic -- one was so successful that he hived off to his own clinic.  One decided he didn't like GF and left.  The third, Dr. Padilla, suddenly died of cancer.  I liked him and am saddened by his death.  But I'm glad not to go out to the dizzying super-modern architecture outside town if he's no longer there.

Doc Josh is not intimidated by knowledge, which is a great relief.  Some of my complaints are a little esoteric, like a gray fuzz ball phenomenon that happens in brains rather than eyes and comes from overuse.  Some are just dumb, like dry eye syndrome related to ocular rosacea, connected to pink cheeks and common in Britain.  One can see it on actors and public figures (Prince Harry), but mine is also connected to a dandruffy accumulation on the scalp that I've had since childhood.  My cousin has a version that she treats with a thirty dollar cream.  I use a drugstore med, Psoriacin.

Near sunset with a violet storm shelf building over the Rockies, preparing to descend the East Slope in a blizzard, in the end it didn't while I was driving.   When I pulled into Valier, the neon piping along the edge of the clouds was gone and headlights were on.  It was a little while before I felt the relief of completing the overdue trip.  A lot to think about.

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