by Rob Tiller
My week was more medical than usual, with checkups for my teeth and eyes, and a follow up on my spine surgery. There wasn’t a lot of drama, except that both my long-time dentist and my long-time optometrist had retired since my last checkups. I liked them, and will miss them. The new docs I tried seemed pleasant and competent, old enough, but not too old, and with newer equipment. I have high hopes that they’ll still be practicing after I have no further needs in their specialities.
As for my spine, Dr. K reviewed new X-rays and thought that his work on my thoracic spine seemed to be healing well. He was sorry that my tingling symptoms were still here, but said they might get better in a few months. I thought, but didn’t say, this is starting to sound like an overly interesting (for clinicians) diagnostic puzzle. It’s a reminder that I likely have a best-if-used-by date, which I do not enjoy thinking about.
I’m grateful to have survived the coronavirus pandemic long enough to get my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which I got yesterday over in Durham. It didn’t hurt to speak of — you should do it! What a turnaround in the pandemic we’ve had in just a few weeks, with vaccinations running way ahead of schedule.
Also amazing: this week President Biden signed into law a huge measure to address the effects of the pandemic, plus some long standing problems. The American Rescue Plan breaks new ground in getting some real help to people who are barely getting by. This idea of helping the less fortunate is not exactly new, but in the last half century our government has mainly been by and for the most fortunate, with a focus on giving them tax cuts and subsidies. It’s a little disorienting to see Congress pass legislation designed to help ordinary people, and especially poor people, with health care, education, food, child care, transportation, housing, and other needs.
As I discussed recently, Heather McGhee has a new book on how this old idea of a social safety net and basic public services was rejected in the U.S. out of fear of undermining the traditional racial caste system. But maybe we’re starting to turn the page on that sad chapter, and to reconstruct an America that’s less brutal and more caring. Here’s hoping!
Finally, I have a bit of musical good cheer to share. In my piano studies, I’ve been wading into the deeper waters of jazz harmony and creating some piquant bebop dissonances. This week, in a change of pace, I focused more on tropical rhythms and some of my favorite bossa nova tunes, like Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classic The Girl from Ipanema. That cheerful, loping rhythm turns out to be tricky to do as a solo pianist.
Anyhow, I also started working on Jobim’s song Wave, and came across a version that filled me with happiness. It’s a live performance, under three minutes, with Elis Regina singing with joy and harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans playing with humor. You can listen to it here. Enjoy!
I took these shots early at Shelley Lake this week when the geese, herons, and eagles were starting their day. I was hoping to get a shot of one of the eagles catching a fish, and did see one try, but he missed.