Cataract Surgery: Part I

The optometrist didn’t bother to ask my permission.  As soon as he finished the exam, he went straight to the front desk and told his receptionist to make me an appointment with the cataract surgery center.

It would have been difficult for me to argue with him, even if he’d given me the chance.  After being unable to read line after increasingly larger line of letters shown to me by the optician — who had trouble stifling her gasps as she neared what she knew would be the final, humongous O filling the entire screen — it was pretty apparent the time had come to be separated from my longtime cloudy companion, my congenital cataract that had been slowly robbing the vision from my left eye since I was in my early 40’s.

eyeball

It was a miracle I’d been able to get my drivers license renewed last year.  Only by the grace of Port Townsend’s DMV clerk was I able to squeak by, despite my admission that I couldn’t read a single thing on the left side of the vision test screen.  I don’t know if she was feeling generous that day or merely too bored and disinterested to bother but whatever the case, I was grateful beyond words to be granted permission to drive half-blind on the streets of Washington state.

I doubt the vehicular travelers crossing my path would have been quite so tickled, had they known.  Pedestrians and bicyclists even less so.  Yet in my defense, at my pre-surgery ophthalmological consultation, the doctor explained that because my right eye has been so busy doing the heavy lifting these past 15 years or so, my overall vision really wasn’t that horrendous.

Granted, he mentioned this not to ease my mind about any potential peril I’d been inflicting upon all who traversed the roads alongside me.  I hadn’t confessed to the doctor my poor performance at the DMV.   He was simply warning me that once my cataract was gone, my resultant vision improvement might not feel so dramatic as it does to those folks who have cataracts removed from both eyes.  Still, I chose to take it as affirmation of my decision — and that of my dear DMV clerk — to continue driving.

Come to think of it, though, the ophthalmologist obviously didn’t give one hoot about endangering myself or surrounding drivers, considering he sent me on my way that late afternoon (more like early evening) with fully dilated eyes and no one to chauffeur me home.  In the dark.  From Silverdale to Port Townsend, a nearly 45 mile trek.

After the front desk ladies cheerily handed me the packaged strip of black plastic that looks more like a roll of camera film than a substitute for honest-to-goodness sunglasses, I walked out to the car, took my place in the driver’s seat…and began to panic.  Already the traffic had built up to a frenzy — Silverdale is nothing but a maze of strip malls squeezed between zigging and zagging thoroughfares (my friend has aptly nicknamed the town Silverhell) and to make matters worse, I was in that godforsaken place at the height of Christmas shopping season.

I’d gotten so turned around trying to find the surgery center in the first place, I had no clue how to get back to the highway.  Add to that a thousand glaring headlights.  I slipped the black film under my glasses, hit the “Home” button on my GPS and waited for Nuvi (John’s and my terribly clever name for our Garmin “nuvi” model GPS) to coo her directives at me.

As soon as I pulled into the street, I yanked off that black film.  It’s bad enough to have blurred vision in a sea of headlamps — even worse when the background to all the bobbing, weaving lights is pitch blackness.  Without the piece of film obscuring what little focus I still had, I could at least make out the stripes in the road.  Blurry stripes, indeed, but stripes all the same.

It was a long, teeth-clenching drive back to Port Townsend.  Only a small fraction of the journey is divided highway; primarily the roads are two-laned, meaning a continuous line of oncoming traffic, each car’s lights boring straight into my enormous pupils, made it feel as if I were staring directly at the sun.

headlights

So I concentrated instead on those white road stripes (and held my breath at every intersection where the stripes disappeared) until finally — finally — Nuvi guided me through the entrance to our neighborhood.  When I turned at the stop sign on our street, Nuvi instructed, “Drive point three miles to Home, on left.”

Lovelier words have never been spoken.

To be continued….

Dancing Queen

Because I seem unable to form the word “no” anymore, I was recently recruited to be part of the Drill Team — a chorus line dance ensemble — at the upcoming Cape George Revue. Cape George, by the way, is my neighborhood. The Revue is its annual variety show. And the Drill Team uses — get this — actual electric drills as props. Who would have imagined that?

Yeah, I know. Pretty much everybody. Especially everybody who’s lived in Cape George for more than twelve months, it turns out, since the Drill Team always performs at the Revue. Different songs each year, happily, and different costumes…but always with drills.

Maybe I was enlisted because word has gotten out I don’t have a terribly full weekly schedule. While that is absolutely true, what the other Drill Team members are not aware of is that not only did they secure someone with ample time on her hands, as a bonus they’re getting a person with a background in professional dance. On an honest-to-goodness stage. With matching outfits and everything.

tap dancers

That’s me, on the far right. I was exactly as talented as I looked.

In fact, one year (because yes indeedy, I tapped my way to stardom several years in a row!), despite an instruction from the choreographer to STAY IN UNISON even if you know in your heart of hearts the other girls lost step with the accompanying piano score, I rebelled. Thing is, I was born with rhythm. Deep, deep in my soul. I wasn’t about to shuffle-ball-change on beat number 6 when I knew darn well it was supposed to happen two pulses earlier. No sirree. I clicked and clacked to my own inner drummer at that recital and was darned proud of myself for doing so. Never mind that at the end of the song I was headed stage left while the rest of the tappers remained smack in the center.

It was pure serendipity that the Cape George Drill Team found me, don’t you think?

There’s a down side to being chosen for the Drill Team, however, one I wasn’t aware of when the words “Sure I’d love to join” shot out of my mouth too fast to cram them back in: rehearsals are scheduled every Sunday for two solid months. Apparently, it takes a whole lot of dance sessions to memorize the steps (and drill moves) to Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman.’

I made it to the first rehearsal a week ago, right on time, drill in hand. We learned the moves for half the song in the 1-1/2 hour stint that had been set aside, after which the team leader announced she’d be out of town for this week’s session and thus would not be here to teach us the steps (and drill moves) for the remainder of the tune. Still, we were instructed to meet at the clubhouse as planned to practice what we’d learned so far.

I didn’t go. Not out of disrespect for the process, certainly, nor because I underestimate the importance of utmost perfection come Revue time. To be the creme de la creme at neighborhood variety shows, practice is essential. At least for the amateurs in the group.

Yet I’m no amateur. Not only do I have experience performing for an audience, I have experience performing for an audience while carrying a prop.

baton twirlers

Theater, you see, is in my blood.

Not My Job

I used to be yogurt and drinks. Not alcoholic drinks, mind you. We are talking the Food Bank after all, and I can’t imagine handing each client a bottle of Jack Daniels, or even a six-pack of Bud Light. The beverages I was in charge of distributing were more along the lines of orange juice or cranberry drink, with a pomegranate kombucha or coconut water/green tea combo thrown in a time or two to liven things up.

Then the multi-millionaire bumped me. Such is the way of the monied, isn’t it? Thems that has, gets? To be fair, I understand the Food Bank manager’s decision to bring in ol’ Ritchie Rich — the quest for funding is a constant challenge in the world of non-profits, and it sure doesn’t hurt to have someone with overflowing pockets on your side.

This particular well-heeled fellow is the very one who purchased the old cannery building on the waterfront and turned the entire thing into a condo for himself and his wife. Fortunately, they left the exterior pretty much as it was so it continues to blend in with the other historic downtown buildings. That’s it there at the lower right corner, the pitch-roofed structure just on the other side of the pier.

waterfront

I’ll bet he has one hell of a view. And now, every Wednesday, he also has my yogurt and drink station at the Food Bank.

food bank sign

Truth is, I was a temporary fill-in at that spot anyway. The regular yogurt and drink person is spending the winter in Southern California and I knew all along that when she returned, I’d be reassigned. To which station, I don’t know. The manager will find me a permanent place somewhere, though, that much is certain. See, for some crazy reason, she’s thinks I’m the greatest. The Rolls Royce of volunteers. She decided as much the first day I walked into the joint, before I’d done a lick of work or uttered maybe a dozen words.

That she has no real basis for placing me on a pedestal (or in the case of the Food Bank, a cracked fold-out table) is something I don’t intend to argue with. I’ll take all the accolades I can get, warranted or not.

When Mr. Money Bags arrived on the scene, I bid a silent adieu to my yogurt and beverage table and spent the work day substituting for the vacationing computer check-in lady. It’s an easy gig — you sit at the front desk and on an Excel spreadsheet, type a “1” beside the name of every person coming to get food. (Even I’m enough of a computer wizard to handle it, and that’s saying something.) At the end of the day, the computer totals up how many clients came through.

Sharing the desk with me was 92-year-old Grace and her stack of paper print-outs with the exact information as on the computer. Every time I typed a “1,” Grace thumbed through the pages and felt-tip penned a red splotch beside the same name on her list. Why the duplication of effort? From what I gathered, simply to give Grace something to do.

Which would be great if her final total agreed with the one on the Excel spreadsheet. It didn’t that day — my tally was 273; hers came out to 256 — and Grace was convinced it was the fault of the computer (in other words, me). As all the other volunteers slowly filed out of the building, Grace and I sat firm while she recited the name of every person on her list who visited that day and one-by-one, I double-checked the computer to make sure I’d entered them all correctly.

I had. As Grace once more began scratching her numbers onto a piece of paper to try to find the error, my resolve wore thinner and thinner until I finally reached over and snatched her tally sheet, grabbed a calculator and added them up myself. When I showed her the total — 273 — she declared, “Yes, see? That’s what I had written down.”

It hadn’t been, of course.

I realize I should have been more patient. Yet patience isn’t one of my strong suits and besides, Grace talked pretty much nonstop while we shared that desk, meaning I had my head turned her way for a neck-breaking six hours with relief coming only in the seconds it took to search a name on the computer and enter the corresponding “1.” Still, once the aspirins I dry-swallowed as I exited the Food Bank took hold, I was able to appreciate how the experience maybe wasn’t all that bad. Maybe.

Next week I’m being moved to the bread table. It’s in the adjacent room, out of sight from my beloved yogurt and drinks, and I have to get to the Food Bank an hour earlier in order to sort the various bread products and arrange them on the shelves. At least I won’t be the front desk again, however, for which I’ll be most grateful.

Regardless, when Grace arrives and settles into her chair, I’ll sincerely bid her a fine good morning. At 92 years old, and having volunteered at the Port Townsend Food Bank every week since she was 78, it’s she who deserves the real accolades.

So thank you Grace, very much. There needs to be more people like you in this world. Could I ask you one little favor though? If I ever work the front desk again, do you think you could maybe take a few minutes beforehand and learn how to use the calculator?

As a Lash Resort

Prior to a four-year stint as an unadorned, unshaven college art student, I’d worn eye makeup since my early teenage years. I inherited my mother’s hair, you see, which has proven mostly fortuitous — yet while the mane itself is quite thick, the volume gene didn’t translate to the brows and lashes. Like my mother did, I have wimpy, wispy eyebrows, and eyelashes that are barely perceptible without a good shellacking of mascara.

eye with mascara

Even my father noticed the transformation after I slathered on the goo. Although I was the apple of his darkly lashed eye, one day he made the mistake of commenting, to my mother’s unabashed horror, on what a difference it made in my appearance. From that day forward, I vowed to never leave the house without first applying an arsenal of cosmetics.

For a few months before declaring a college major in grooviness, I attended classes in full greasepaint. The night I met John, in fact, I was made up to the hilt, particularly in the eyelash department.

made-up eye

Problem was, our first encounter took place during a freshman co-ed snowball fight and upon my return to the dorm room afterwards, I discovered my heretofore perfectly blackened lashes had not only smudged, but the gloopy mess was smeared halfway down my cheeks.

smudged mascara

Happily for me, John looked past the tar pit on my face and chose to continue to pursue the relationship. Or maybe he was just desperate.

My subsequent artistically-inspired au naturel lash phase ended almost immediately upon my college graduation. After entering the work force, I caved once again to the pressure of the peer and reunited with my former constant companion.

Avon Daring Curves Mascara

Many lash-enhanced years later, when John and I began farming for a living, I swore I’d be the only local farmer to refuse to give up her cache of cosmetics. That lasted maybe three weeks. Upon rediscovering the sense of freedom that comes with choosing substance over appearance (You’ve seen farmers’ fingernails, right? And those goofy tans?), I continued my repudiation of the mascara wand throughout my farming tenure, beyond the eventual sale of the farm, and ultimately into our move to Washington with every intention of never again sullying these otherwise nearly undetectable eyelashes.

Until last week.

The Organic Seed Alliance, headquartered here in Port Townsend, was holding a fundraiser/10-year anniversary dinner and the local foods store where John works sponsored a table at the event.

osa

It was to be my first introduction to the store owner’s wife, and being that the fundraiser was a $75 per plate affair, I was a little nervous about making a good first impression in that kind of setting. People tend to doll up for those things. The morning before the dinner, I broke down and made a special trip to the drug store’s mascara counter.

It probably didn’t boost my confidence level when every time I blinked, I feared my eyelids were going to glom shut — what do they use in that stuff, Elmer’s Glue? — but I couldn’t have felt more socially inept when we arrived at the fundraiser had I tried. The owner’s wife was charming and relaxed. I was suddenly 17 years old, going to my first grown-up party, and my attempts at witty repartee went something like this:

Owner’s wife: “Oh yeah, Phil comes from a big, gregarious family. There was loud laughing and talking all through the house and it always intimidated me, coming from such a small quiet family myself.”

Me: “Same with John’s family! [Blink, panic.] [Blink, panic.] There was loud laughing and talking all through the house and it always intimidated me, coming from such a small quiet family myself.”

Brilliant.

Thankfully, at the end of the evening the owner’s wife gave me a hug. Out of pity more than camaraderie, no doubt, but I welcomed it nonetheless. And you know what I noticed, as we pulled away from our cordial embrace?

She wasn’t wearing a stitch of makeup.

The Great Washington ShakeOut

It’s 8:16 on a chilly, wet morning in early spring. You’ve just arrived at work and are pouring a cup of coffee when you become aware of a low rumbling noise. Within seconds, the rumbling becomes a roar, the floor beneath you heaves, and the building begins to pitch and shake so violently that you’re thrown to the floor. The roaring is joined by a cacophony of crashing as windows shatter and every unsecured object in the room—from the desk chair to the coffee pot—is sent flying. Shaken loose by the shuddering and jolting of the building, dust and ceiling particles drift down like snow. Then the lights flicker and go out. Remembering to “drop, cover, and hold,” you crawl under the nearest table, hold on tight, and tell yourself that the shaking should last only a few seconds more . . . but it goes on and on.

This is it: the Big One. The Cascadia subduction zone has just unleashed a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

This fun-filled scenario begins the latest report from the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup. Pretty nifty, huh? I mean, who knew the “Big One” was actually brewing along the British Columbia, Washington and Oregon coast, rather than the more commonly recognized earthquake-prone Bay Area of California? Nobody until the 1970s, as it turns out. That’s when some smarty pants discovered there’d been a whopper of a quake here in 1700.

[Which calls for a correction to my prior statement: There were indeed already people who knew about the 1700 earthquake — the Native Americans unfortunate enough to reside along the northwest coastline at that time. They knew it intimately.]

The fun doesn’t stop there, either. Apparently, we’re overdue for another one. And while the most recent findings show the fault zone is farther out in the ocean than they’d initially thought, meaning the shaking won’t be quite so severe (Yay!), the resultant tsunami will likely be more intense and damaging (Aw crap).

As some of you already know, John and I live close to the water. We’re not on the western coast of Washington but our bay — Discovery Bay — is attached to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the waters of which flow in from the Pacific.

Discovery Bay

In the office here at Cape George there’s a map showing which houses might wind up under water in the event of a tsunami. Ours is not one of them. In fact, our house sits 50 feet higher still than the highest tsunami targets, which should be enough to assuage my wall-of-water fears.

Yep, it sure should be.

It isn’t.

See, I’m not good at threats of natural disasters. Man-made ones aren’t a favorite of mine either but wow, those natural ones are real doozies. Hurricanes, floods, avalanches, tornadoes. Especially tornadoes. Growing up in Central Indiana, tornadoes were a part of life. In fact, my favorite aunt and uncle’s house was flattened by one when I was a child. I’ll never forget my cousin’s nightmarish recollections of being buried under the rubble, screaming, each breath sucking in mouthfuls of crushed mortar.

I’d thought we were getting away from that when we relocated to the Texas Hill Country but no, oh no, there are plenty of twisters there too. Every spring I watched terrified as the local weatherman displayed ominous radar images filled with blobs of red, purple and even black, punctuated by multiple swirling, twirling discs indicating tornadic activity moving our way. How nice, then, to move to western Washington where tornadoes are all but unheard of. No more natural disaster worries!

Until I read in further detail about this.

Cascadia Subduction Zone

Then just last week came The Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake preparedness drill. From what I gather, when the Big One hits you’re supposed to dive under a table and hold tight to its legs until the shaking stops. Then, if you’re near the water, you’re to run like hell uphill as fast as your legs can scamper.

Simple as that. Oh, except you should also keep plenty of emergency supplies on hand — non-perishable food, a first aid kit, toiletries, a battery operated radio. Things like that. We’ve started to load up a closet in our basement, one that’s supported by two concrete walls and hopefully fairly shake-proof.

Earthquake closet

It isn’t finished yet. For instance, we have no portable propane cookstove or pots and pans. We do have a wok, a wooden salad bowl and charcoal, however, plenty enough for a festive backyard post-apocalyptic stir-fry. We even have a vase full of fake Gerbera daisies for decoration and a Cuisinart ice cream maker we can stare at wistfully until the electricity [maybe] comes back on.

I learned from a neighbor that shortly after the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan, an earthquake expert of some sort came to Cape George to sum up what might happen here if the Big One were to occur.

Diamond Point & Protection Island

He said Diamond Point (the piece of land sticking out in the water on the left) and Protection Island (the island in the distance on the right), as well as the Dungeness Spit farther west would help temper any tsunami waves barreling towards us through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (I’m guessing the electric pole smack in the center of this photo won’t be much help in that regard.) Good news, right? Sure, until we get to his next prediction: Should an earthquake vibrate an enormous hunk of Protection Island into the bay,

Protection Island

the rush of displaced water will rise up and swallow Cape George whole.

After sharing this little factoid with me, my neighbor shrugged and pointed out once more that at least here in western Washington we don’t get major floods, tornadoes and the like. The Big One is really the only natural disaster we have to be concerned with.

Phew. What a relief.

Obsession

As we speak, John’s outside working on his second terrace. In the rain.

John on terrace

Our house sits on a hillside with only a couple areas naturally flat enough to garden. Anywhere else — everywhere else — requires leveling by building stone terraces and then filling in with soil. Already John has built up a large terraced garden area directly in front of the house; this newest one is along the side, between our two monster stacks of firewood and above yet another garden.

Because, you know…there’s no such thing as too many gardens.

While I also love gardens, John is obsessed with them (we were farmers, after all). When I ask him what we’re going to do with all the vegetables and fruit he intends to plant in these spaces, he shrugs. I’m thinking I’d better start working up an appetite.

We’re all obsessed with something, I suppose. Back in our farming days, Dana passed along to me an obsession with crossword puzzles. I’m working on at least one at all times, usually two or three. I can’t bear to set aside a blank puzzle, particularly from the New York Times. (My deepest heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Seattle paper for carrying them.) And although John doesn’t at all share my infatuation, I know he secretly relishes the fact that I have to ask him for answers to clues related to sports. I have no interest in sports games yet John follows most of them, if not quite obsessively, at least with a healthy serving of gusto.

Which is why he doesn’t lose his cool when I ignore his attempts at conversation while I’m immersed in one of my puzzles. It happens almost every evening after we plop down in our easy chairs and turn on the national news. To paraphrase:

John: Wow, Ariel Castro hanged himself. I’ll bet that’s going to bring up some issues with the prison officials.

Me: Okay. What’s a two-letter abbreviation for an NFL blocker?

Still, as fixated as I can be with crossword puzzles, as compulsive as John gets with his gardens, no one — and I mean no one — is obsessed with anything as much as Pablo is obsessed with his squirrel on a stick.

waiting

He sits like this and waits. And waits. And waits a little longer until, gosh dang it, he’s forced to come out and find one of us to coax back to Primo Play Area Extraordinaire, the carpeted bedroom. Because c’mon, what could be better than a lively game of squirrel on a stick on a rug?

Nothing, that’s what.

reaching

The greatest part, in Pablo’s opinion, is the fluidity of the rules. That, and the fact that all the rules are made up by Pablo. One second we’re reaching for the squirrel, then WHAM!

face rubs

It’s time to grab that squirrel, hold it tight and sneak in a few face rubs on the elasticized string. Mmmmmm. Ahhhhh.

Good move, Pablo. Good move.

Notice the untucked sheet and blanket? That’s Pablo’s idea too (really, I swear). At a moment’s notice the game might take a sudden turn with Pablo hiding behind the covers to smack at the squirrel from UNDER THE BED. Talk about exhilarating! After it gets this intense, there’s no choice but to take a bit of a breather, a time out if you will. Relax that pink belly and let it all hang loose.

squirrel on the head

Preferably with the squirrel parked snugly on one cheek.

It’s a testament to the squirrel on a stick that the day John brought it home from Pet Town, Pablo immediately cast aside his long-time companion, the koala bear on a string.

koala bear

But cast aside he did, leaving us worried about the squirrel’s inevitable demise. See, John bought the last squirrel on a stick in the store and has since noticed there’ve been no more restocked. Eventually, Pablo will rip the current squirrel apart (its ears have been gone for some time) and we’ll be faced with the conundrum of finding him another.

We’re not letting on to Pablo. As it stands, if we ignore his demands to play some squirrel for too long, he gets pretty testy.

angry Pablo

Should the squirrel on a stick meet an untimely end, we’re a little concerned Pablo’s obsession might turn into full-out possession. As in possessed. As in

roaring lion

Man, I hope that squirrel lasts a while.

Beware

Warnings abound.

tsunami sign

No, no, I’m not talking about this one (though don’t think for a moment this one doesn’t creep me out). While tsunami warnings do indeed abound — there’s a similar sign in our neighborhood, in fact — there’s little to no day-to-day talk about the threat. The subject broached far more often, with a far greater sense of foreboding, is wintertime.

As most everyone knows, the weather is temperate in the Pacific Northwest. Winters are mild, especially as compared to other states as far north as Washington. Yet because we are so far north, we get a crazy fluctuation in daylight hours through the year. It’s not exactly the Land of the Midnight Sun but it’s one heck of a lot closer to it than anywhere else I’ve lived.

When John and I moved into our house in early June, light would start filtering through the window blinds well before 5 a.m., not to go dark again until long after 10:00 at night. Now that gap is narrowing, with darkness falling much closer to 9 p.m. We haven’t experienced a Washington winter yet, but John and I are getting a bit jittery over how much farther south the sun is setting nowadays, in addition to the relative earliness of the event.

From our deck last June, we’d watch the sun go down over Protection Island.

sunset

Since then, sunsets have slowly scooched to the left.

sunset now

Although the weather has been the epitome of perfection for weeks on end — such unaltered perfection a rarity in this part of the country — good luck finding many folks around here able to sit back and relish it for what it is. When we comment about a beautiful day to a passerby on the street or someone working in one of the Port Townsend shops, half the time the response we get is something like, “Oh you should’ve been here last year. It didn’t get out of the 60’s until September!”

Our friends Varen and Walter, both of them long-time Washingtonians, often point out what a remarkable season it’s been. This past June, in particular, was apparently quite the anomaly. We’d been forewarned about June — how it tends to be cold and cloudy, thus earning the name “Junuary” — yet the month turned out to be mostly delightful. July was sublime; so far, August is following suit.

September is supposedly the finest month of all, and we’ve heard nary a disparaging remark about October. November, on the other hand, is a different story. In the spirit of full disclosure, Varen and Walter continue to fill us in on what’s to come beginning in November, and it sounds most dire. From what they’ve told us, I’m envisioning November and December as something like this:

zombies

Maybe that’s a tiny exaggeration. However, the days are certain to be as short during those two months as they were long in June and July. And to be perfectly fair, no mention has been made of zombies. (We’ll just have to wait and see for ourselves on that one.)

This is probably a more realistic depiction of winter in Western Washington:

black screen

Should be fun. One thing I know for sure is it’ll be an ideal time for an extended vacation. South.

Ah, but unlike several of our neighbors who live here only half the year, John and I aren’t in a financial position to own both a summer home and a winter home, so our vacation won’t encompass the entirety of the darkest months. We’ll need to find something to do here, and I had been worried about keeping John occupied. He goes a little bonkers when he’s not outside working in the garden, and there is no gardening in this part of the world during the short days.

Fortunately, he just began some big projects: putting up more fencing, building a greenhouse, and terracing three sections of the yard to create additional level areas for growing food. Nine pallets of 65-pound blocks for the terraces arrived yesterday, four of them shown here.

blocks

I suspect he’ll stay busy well into the winter.

What will I do during that time? Well, when I’m not sitting by the fire reading a good book or working on a pile of crossword puzzles, I’m sure I’ll be peering out the windows, tracking John’s progress. At least until it gets too

black screen