Saturday, February 8 2003
Like all rare metals, platinum is in high demand these days. Folks like you and me who have been burned by the economy are looking for any sort of investment unlikely to lose all its value should Wall Street sag to the levels it last held in the Neolithic. None of this would matter to me were in not for a small matter of tradition. Gretchen and I are getting married and I'm even getting a wedding ring. I know what the various metals are and I've decided to go with platinum - it's much more interesting and substantial than any of the alternatives. And while it might be cool to wear a ring made of bismuth - I have no idea where one goes to get such a thing. Getting a platinum ring, on the other hand, is easy. This morning we went to a jewelry store in uptown Kingston and flipped through some catalogues past all the ugly gold and diamond rings to the one or two pages featuring simple rings made of platinum. The price on the ring I wanted was about $1200 - three or four hundred dollars more than it would have been in the early fall.
Next we drove south down 209 to near the town of Kerhonkson to visit a farm seemingly custom-tailored to Gretchen's idealism. It was a farm for animals rescued from the normal life-arc into styrofoam-backed packages. Instead of being eaten, beef cows were free to live out their natural lives being fed chewing gum by schoolchildren. Actually, this particular farm featured only one cow; most of the animals were miniature horses, animals that might have once lived in miserable circumstances but were never actually on the career path of being eaten. When we arrived we found that nobody was actually outside staffing the farm. It was a sunny day and temperatures were a little below freezing, but evidently no one bothers to give tours in the off season. So we (including Sally) took something of a self-guided tour. While doing this, we were joined by one of the farm's residents, a medium-sized shaggy dog who had never been destined for anyone's dinner plate. In the course of a short walk we managed to see a few ponies, a goat, and one or two chickens. "Look! Chickens!" Gretchen exclaimed, aware of my fondness for this particular species of semi-flightless domestic bird.
On a whim, we continued all the way down to Ellenville, stopping along the way to walk around in an unexpected roadside Jewish Cemetary in Wawarsing.
We found Ellenville a desperate, dreary town. The individual buildings are old and attractive, but generally more run down than even those in Kingston. Worse still, the only places seeming to thrive are the McDonalds and other multi-national chain stores, sustained by bad nutritional decisions made locally and strategic corporate headquarters funding made globally. Ellenville has no restaurants or stores worthy of our interest - or perhaps any at all. As you know, I'm not easily impressed by pretense, but Ellenville could use some. It certainly could learn a lot from such Catskills towns as Phoenicia and Woodstock, which have effectively figured out how to affect the look of a tourist town. As sorry as Ellenville might be, it's nonetheless located in a beautiful setting, with beautiful views of the steep back side of the Shawangunk ridge.
Heading back north again, we noticed a beautiful sprawling Victorian complex nestled down along the Rondout near Warwarsing. Our maps indicated that it was a prison.
We stopped at a perogie store near Accord and picked up a dozen of the greasy little pockets of potato and onion. Gretchen took one bite and said they weren't very good. But that didn't make any sense to me; I found them delicious. I ate most of the rest of them during the course of the drive home.
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