Sunday, May 29, 2016

life as a time bomb

 The past several weeks have been a bit of a blur, figuratively at first, but ultimately in quite a literal sense. The recent discovery, during a routine eye examination, of a schisis in my left retina and a small hole in my right, along with strict instructions to avoid any straining or heavy lifting, have left me feeling slightly invalid and more than a little paranoid. Suffice it to say that I am glad that we carried all that living room furniture up and down stairs (and then back again) before the diagnosis.

Following the completion of The Great Siding Replacement of 2016 at the end of April, we tagged along with my sister and her husband out to Vancouver, for a bit of a family reunion and to cheer on my brother-in-law as he ran his gajillionth marathon. They drove, we flew. Come to think of it, that flight would also have been nixed by my optometrist had my diagnosis come sooner.

My sis and brother-in-law stayed with us for a couple of days on their drive out to the coast and gamely put up with living in the midst of a renovation zone. The siding was complete at this point, but since we had moved all the furniture out of the living room to prepare for the installation of hardwood floors, things were a bit cozy. We toured them around East Village, where I realized that years of writing about the area's development have turned me into some sort of maniacal tour guide. Later we squeezed in a quick reunion with our niece, whom we haven't seen in decades and who, it turns out, lives a couple of blocks away from us. Shameful, I know; long, convoluted story.

In Vancouver, we shared some of our favourite haunts and hung out with the Offspring. My sister, in turn, shared the illness that she had picked up from her grandsons. Turns out she is quite an effective vector, as we were sick for weeks. And we never get sick.

But despite the throat razor blades, we had a blast, especially since they switched hotels to stay at ours. I was particularly impressed with our resident marathoner, who spent the day walking the seawall and wandering through Stanley Park with us after running a half-marathon in respectable time earlier that morning.

We returned home to a living room with hardwood floor instead of the old cat-pukey, wine-stained carpet. Obviously, there was simply no way we could put the old ass-numbing futon back into that room; it was time for a grown-up couch. We were feeling so grown-up, in fact, that we bought a white one. How ill-advised that may have been will be determined after the first dinner party.

It was during the post-renovation deep cleaning (down on my knees, scrubbing the floor) that I missed my initial eye exam. Being excessively hausfrauy may not kill you, but it may just make you go blind.

After a great deal of should I stay or should I going, I did eventually get the green light from the eye surgeon to make the trek across the prairies to the lake place, with the proviso that I seek immediate medical attention if my retinas start to detach. I never did have to test out the rural Manitoba medical system, thankfully, but the anticipated long days of lounging on the deck were not exactly in the cards. A week of gale-force winds, that only abated long enough at night to allow the mosquitoes to take over, ensured that I did a lot of reading. And eating. And Sudoku. 

We did have one gloriously calm evening that allowed me to photograph the Spousal Unit testing out his home-tied flies.

In a couple of days, I will see the eye surgeon and find out what comes next. Regardless of any surgical intervention, I don't expect I will be allowed to exercise for a while, so I may have to go shopping for some bigger pants. And I have some podcasts (aka TV for blind people) lined up, just in case.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

south of Olha

I watch a flock of pelicans, some two dozen strong, lift and freefall across the waters of the lake. Something about the physics of flight - a half-remembered discourse on wind-shear and turbulence - comes back to me. As massive as they are, these big white birds are as unperturbed by the incessant wind as we landlocked bipeds are buffeted by it.

The prevailing southeasterly is their ribbon of highway. Wingtip to wingtip they curlicue, rising and soaring with the up-gusts, swooping low and skimming the choppy surface with the down-drafts. Wordlessly, perfectly choreographed, in innate unison, the flock coasts as a single being. Meanwhile, on land, we strain against the gusts and struggle to even talk to each other over the gale forces.

A remarkable bird is the pelican. Its beak can hold more than its belly can. It can hold in its beak enough food for a week, but I really don’t know how the hell it can.