Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gliding Silhouettes and a History of Spectacles








If you've never hear the eerie sound that a Raven makes - a kind of sound that brings to mind robots or computers more than living creatures - then you might not have been close enough to one to see how something with such plainly marked plumage could manage to be beautiful. The raven is an aerial ballerina who is amazing whether they are dancing solo or in pairs. Known for their cleverness, the corvid family, includes the thieving magpie, the strutting jay, the gatherings (called a murder) of crows, the charming Whiskey Jack as well as the Raven - who impresses both in its large size and its willingness to remain in the frigid barren-lands of Canada even in the desolate months of deep, dark winter to make stark, black silhouettes against sky for photographers missing the pretty plumage of snow buntings, snow geese, larkspurs, sand-hill cranes and even seagulls.

In unrelated exciting news, I found the clip-ons for my sunglasses which have been missing nearly a year (I don't think I had them last Christmas). They were the cupboard where I used to keep my vinegar, which was in the cupboard where I had thought I'd moved it (and thus looked first, but the briefly lost vinegar was carefully stacked behind something that didn't look large enough to hide a large bottle of vinegar), prompting me to look in the original location which currently only houses Styrofoam mushroom packs, paper plates, pie plates, egg cartoons, and a few books of crummy matches, which means I probably wouldn't have bothered to look in that cupboard until I needed recycled food containers for school or more likely matches. At any rate, I'm relieved that I won't need to replace them or buy sunglasses, as currently my options are a pair of prescription sunglasses that I bought my last year in Thunder Bay (I've lived in 4 different cities since then) and while the prescription is so slightly out of date that I can't even notice it, the fashion was probably out of date when I bought them, and hasn't come back in the intervening years - although on the upside, they are larger than any glasses I would choose nowadays. I suspect they are also not polarized, while my clip-ons are (and in fact, I never would have found or bought these glasses (which I love) if I hadn't noticed that my first choice had non-polarized clip-ons prompting me to search the entire store for glasses with polarized clip-ons - finally finding a pair of glasses I really truly liked. (I lost my old glasses prior while I had just begun the search for new glasses, turning a leisurely hunt for spectacles, into a somewhat more pressing issue - [where they went is an unsolved mystery - as they slipped out of my pocket on a walk with a friend on a paved bike path, which I immediately combed 4 times before darkness forced me to abandon the search]) The long of the story is that I hate buying glasses and always find it a frustrating and painful task, as my face is relatively small and my need for glasses sturdy enough to be occasionally slept in, dropped, fidgeted with, survive getting caught on a sweater being pulled off or my hair as well as intense shifts in temperature (preferably without fogging up - although, I've had no luck there). The answer is usually to buy glasses made for children and then find a pair that isn't bright purple or neon pink. The prescription sunglasses, a pair of children's glasses, have the words left and right stamped on the appropriate arms, handy in those moments when you forget which is which - and amusing to children.

In my life-time, a good portion of which I've worn glasses, I've lost only 3 pairs and broken two pairs beyond being usable and severely injured two, which remain usable in a pinch. My first pair were lost, probably in a restaurant where I ate with my mom while on a interior decorating mission. They could have been left in a store too, but I recall playing with them at the table at the restaurant. I think I still have my second pair ever, although I may have given them to the eye doctor to redistribute in Africa. My third pair were always too large, and always sat crooked on my face, and the frame broke at some point. The fourth pair were navy blue with tiny metal stars - I do still have those, and actually wore them 2 summers ago when mine broke, but their hideousness made it imperative that I replaced the lost pair quickly.

My fifth pair were bronze coloured wire-frames that broke between one lens and the nose-piece when I was trying to clean the fog off them. I still have them, brilliantly repaired with medical tape and a carefully engineered system of paper-clips, the taped drawn on with colour matched gel pen to make the repairs nearly inconspicuous, although they are no longer wearable as the nose piece broke off too at some point. This was actually the second time they broke, I had broken an arm off them while practicing for a first aid competition. I was playing a patient who was supposed to be crazy or something, and my team-mate hadn't seemed to have noticed that I wasn't firing on all cylinders (poor acting on my part). At some point she'd removed my glasses, and I hadn't noticed, which is unfortunate as I tried to make my point by climbing a book shelf (screwed into the wall above my bed in my dorm room), placing all my weight on a sprained ankle, which hurt. Seeing as I knew I was over my bed, I let myself fall (to save my ankle), but I landed on my glasses. Proof, I felt, that adult glasses were over-rated.

I replaced them with the twin of my current and only prescription sunglasses (2 for 1 children's glasses - $179) They were the second pair I lost. This pair has a good story too. It was the 2nd day of a 7 day canoe trip in Algonquin Park. I was a trip leader and did the final sweep of our first campsite to make sure nothing had been left behind. I sat down on the shore, on the root of tree, feet in the loaded canoe, and took out my sunglasses, putting my non-sunglasses on the shore, for some reason rather than in my case, carefully closing the case and zipping it into my knapsack, then hopping into the canoe on a beautiful sunny day and paddling for 8 hours. They were never to be seen again. I replaced them with an identical pair (which my mother ordered as I was living at camp.) In the meantime, I had 6 days on a canoe trip with only a pair of sunglasses, complicating my task of finding and bringing down the food bag; a difficult task in the pre-dawn twilight under a thick canopy of maple and beech trees, but otherwise, the situation was entertaining enough that my mother forgave me for a nearly new pair of glasses.

The next pair I would get were black wire frames - purchased before they were popularized by Harry Potter, which I still use as a spare pair, although the lenses are badly scratched at this point. (This was another case of first aid scenario acting related collateral damage.) They were replaced with a pair of angular, bright red kids frames, which were always maybe a touch small, but amazingly survived, after some surgery, being crushed by my bedroom window where I'd put them on the window tracks and then closed the window without looking, smashing them spectacularly. However, after Wal-mart kindly bent them back into shape, they no longer had the rubber ear parts on them anymore, which means that they dig into my head painfully. I had needed two pairs of glasses at that time as my new eye doctor felt that my previous eye doctor had given me too strong a prescription, and had wanted to wean me off them, while still allowing me to be able to read the blackboard until my eyes got used to the weaker prescription. This was the pair lost on the walk, carefully put in their case, but placed in a pocket without a zipper.

Now, I apologize for rambling on about glasses for paragraph after paragraph, but I figure I may one day enjoy rereading this, although I can't for a minute think why anyone else in the world would find any of this interesting - unless they remember that canoe trip, which included a wild lightening storm while we were camped on a tiny island, getting lost twice in a small lake (well, I knew where the portage was if someone else had been willing to listen me, rather than berating me for refusing to put my sopping wet bathing suit in my bedroll and insisting that my unwillingness to ensure that my sleeping bag was damp was childish and therefore affected my ability to read a map), a evening paddle (the first night) to nearby Arowhon Resort to purchase a forgotten tube of toothpaste, the best shelter ever put up by anyone ever (although that might be a biased opinion, but it was pretty), a campsite with a rock that looked like a chair, and a lot of rough water, some fun paddling down beaver dam infested creeks, a lost roll of toilet paper, salvaged Kraft dinner, a pitched battle about footwear, impressing the socks off a variety of other camp groups and individuals with our incredibly efficient portaging, nearly dropping a canoe on my head when I ran into a moose while crossing a board bridge when the canoe lead came loose can got caught between two slats as I hastily attempted to backtrack, some amazing sunsets, and somewhat unenthusiastic reception for tabbouleh and perhaps I'd better sign off as clearly I'm in a rambling story telling mood this evening and I don't want to bore you all away.

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