Bucket list triple hit

I wasn’t looking forward to the weekend, at all, but I got through it. A cabin where people keep coming in and out is not conducive to sleep. The cabin and my bed were each a box of rough plywood. My home-brought bedding was not enough to make up for that. The food was not enjoyable and the people were not like me and not easy to relate to. I got a real look into a world I will never be part of, the world of hunters.

But, I ticked two things off my bucket list – trying archery and learning how to shoot a gun. The archery was interesting, peaceful, and I’d like to do it again. The shooting was smelly and noisy, but interesting. They were only .22 guns, but I learned several different actions and loading mechanisms. Did you know that not only shotguns make that chick-chick sound? No, a .22 can have a slide action, as well, even though it holds a wee little .22 cartridge, or what we non-hunters would usually call a bullet. I could have shot some higher powered rifles, but they were very noisy and smelly. People were talking about getting addicted to the activity and the smell. I’m addicted to quiet, so I think I’m immune to any gun habit.

And finally, when I got back, tired as hell and covered in bruises, I went off to a beekeeping club and learned a heck of a lot about bees. How to identify the queen, drones, and workers. How the workers develop through their life stages. How to test for varroa mites. I even saw a couple bees hatching out of their cells. We were examing about 40 frames or dividing sections, looking for the queen bee. Since you have to kill some bees to test for mites, you wanna make sure the queen isn’t in there. She’s expensive and critical to the life of the hive. I liked the bee keepers, except when they drowned the bees in alcohol and didn’t even try to rescue them with some water afterwards. I had to be the one to bring that up and do it.

So, bucket list triple hit. Can’t say I’ve done that before. Nor hit anything off my bucket list in years.

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Symmetry

Symmetry

I was surprised when this dragonfly didn’t take off as I was fumbling with a cucumber stem less than a foot away from him/her/it. A dragonfly’s gender doesn’t matter to me, does it? Not that I can ID them in that way. But I hate to call it “it”. Just feels too distant. But this one was very close. He just sat there. One wing is mangled and curled, and half a front leg is gone, also. If he doesn’t go away, some bird is going to figure out there’s a good chunk of protein there. I don’t know enough about dragonflies’ life cycle to even guess what else might happen. How long will he sit there before he falls down to the ground dead, ready to fertilize my plants with nitrogen and minerals?

My first photo was crap, so I went out and took another. I’m very surprised he’s still there two hours later and hasn’t been eaten. We all die in the end. And I already felt quite morbid today, but since I’m sharing this amazing dragonfly discovery with you, I’m going to also share my experience of life.

See, yesterday I had to go to the hospital, my first ride in an ambulance. I knew what was happening, kind of, because a lot of people in my family have problems with atrial fibrillation. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t really know the ramifications, so I didn’t have the sense to call an ambulance first thing. My heart’s rhythm was way off. The top and bottom halves weren’t in sync the way they should be. Basically, a bunch of heart spasms.

It settled down, I thought, after 40 minutes, but when I went off to do chores, I still didn’t feel right and got out of breath easily. A trip to the clinic turned into a trip to the hospital. It’s easily fixed with some drugs that reset the rhythm, and if not, then there is always the defibrillator. The ambulance ride was enough like being in the movies without having to go all the way to the paddles on the chest.

The ambulance guys, Sean and Tyler, did an awesome job and I thanked them for the lovely afternoon.  But they didn’t need to reassure me I wasn’t going to die. That’s not what I was crying about. I was crying about being born, that I ever had to live through all this crap for 55 years that really hasn’t been worth it. I’m seeking glory because I’ve never had any glory. Other people around me are retiring in contentment. No, not me. And not just because I can’t really afford it, either. Life has not been good enough. Playing Scrabble, gardening, and experimenting with grooming and sewing projects is not enough for me. I could live another 40. Yikes. I got stressed out numerous times at the hospital, but not because I was scared for my life, at all. No, as I told paramedic Sean, the thought of death doesn’t worry me. Rather it’s a comfort and it has been for a long time.

The stress at the hospital also came from nurses walking up to me and poking at me without acknowledging me as a human being first. If it were to save my life, that would be different – if I’m pushing someone out of the way of a deadly projectile, I don’t have to ask first. But if some guy that turned out to be a nurse, after I asked, is going to reach under my clothing, I’d like some eye contact and a few words, first. Then the other nurses got all bitchy, telling me every little thing and complaining that’s what I expect. No, I just need some acknowledgment before you touch me. I hate people touching me, bumping me, grabbing me, poking at me. The massage therapist knows better than to do that, and he’s there specifically to touch. He asks first. Stressing someone out by violating their boundaries doesn’t help achieve anything good.

Another stress was the accursed beeping on the heart machine behind me. Yes, my heart was going too fast. My BP was too high. And getting higher because of the ear-stab. Luckily I always have earplugs on me, and I put one in on the beep-machine side. And I shut my eyes and thought of blackness, my entire body turning black, then turning to mush and sinking into the ground, silently. Yup, while they were doing their best to keep me alive, I was consoled by thinking of death. I thought, “This might be it. I could die.” That was a comforting thought.

This morning, I wish I had died. Not an unfamiliar morning feeling for me, actually. I don’t even care that I’d be leaving a mess. I haven’t made any glorious progress here, anyway. I haven’t heard back about that plum job, and I don’t expect to. It seems designed for me, but I’m old, and no one wants that. Atrial fib isn’t exactly a giant health risk, but my health slate doesn’t feel quite as squeaky clean as it did before yesterday.

The way you can die from atrial fib is that a clot can form and then go to your brain and cause a stroke or worse, like a fatal heart attack. So, I’m lucky I came out of it with no heart damage and have no need for a prescription. The excellent doctor told be that a baby aspirin a day is a good idea to prevent clots in case a-fib happens again. I expect it’ll happen. I will probably take the aspirin, because as I told the paramedics, if you’re in a car accident, it’s better to die than be mangled. I don’t particularly want to live, but if I’m gonna live, I’m gonna take care of this machine I live in. I’m horribly healthy – my blood work was all perfect, doctor said. This despite diabetes-cliche levels of obesity. My body mass isn’t morbid, but 20 pounds or so would take it there. But I’m healthy. And that’s better than having a stroke and dragging half of my body around like dead weight for the rest of my life, or being parly paralyzed like my dad was. All that smoking and drinking he did. I don’t do that.

Wish I had a security cam to put on the dragonfly and see what happens to him. Insects die every day. They never go to the vet’s office. There is no emergency care for insects. They just get mowed down, squashed, poisoned, or eaten alive.

 

Edit: a few hours later, the assymetrical dragonfly has disappeared. I’ll never look at them the same way again. They’re like birds – you only ever see them as young and beautiful, because any injured one is killed off fast. A rare exception I can think of is a neighbourhood pigeon I have seen limping around on a damaged left foot, not just this year but in previous years. I assume it’s the same bird. I should watch it more carefully in future and try to ID it.

 

Fireworks in the sky

Fireworks in the sky

It’s firework season in Vancouver. I missed a big event on July 1 because I didn’t want to deal with transiting through downtown while 350K people who like fireworks are also transiting, but there are much bigger reasons why I have no use for fireworks.

The main reason is that they are just ugly compared to the beauty of the sky. I say look how many painters and poets have attempted to capture the beauty of the sky, or referenced it in their love of nature or wonder at it. Apologies to Turner’s painting of train smoke, but neither that nor mere human-man fireworks come close to the gorgeousness of the sky. No camera can capture it.

Now, my bias is not hating crowds and noise. It’s also that my colour acuity is in the highest human ranges, top four percent. Subtly rippled, shaded, highlighted and textured clouds send me into a trance of wonder, easily. It’s a good thing I don’t drive a convertible, let’s just say.

And cheesy boom-boom fireworks, explosions of chemicals in the sky, can’t touch the beauty of a sunset, or broad expanses of cirrus or cumulus clouds on a bright day. Even low stratus in a drizzle is amazing, geographically, though I don’t usually wonder at its beauty! Seen to much of that here in Vancouver. Even a night sky, out of the city’s light “pollution” is more beautiful than fireworks, something akin to a glittering embroidered blouse, but tented above us. Wow.

And yes, golly gee, it’s amazing that transitory patterns can be traced in the sky in such a grand way by tubes of chemicals packed by humans and thrown into the sky. Yay, physics and chemistry. Being a spatialist myself, fascinated by spatial phenomena, I was interested to read up about the packing of the tubes. Basically, the spatial orientation of the packed materials, including timing set by distances, determine the expanded spatial positions of the projectile chemical bundles. And gravity does the rest. But it has always bothered me that these materials end up on the land or in water bodies. For fireworks are often done over water, seemingly for safety reasons. Safety of people – not of water ecology! It seems like fireworks is something it would be nice for our culture to outgrow. But I know I’m towards the end of that curve, and currently that’s not what most people want.

For me, fireworks obliterating the beautiful sky is ironic to the point of ridiculous. I will stick to enjoying the glory of the sky and its quiet, subtle, ever-changing beautty. Okay, not always quiet – but thunderstorms are glorious, too.