fajitas in Lake Hill
Monday, August 9 2004
This evening Gretchen and I went out to Lake Hill, a small village west of Woodstock, to hang out with Lin and Mark, friends from Brooklyn who are housesitting for some friends-of-their-family. As it happens, Gretchen knows these friends-of-their-family via two additional and totally unrelated social networks. Sometimes I'm surprised by how small the world is among people who think.
These friends-of-their-family are apparently fairly well off, because they're in the process of building a massive addition onto what appears to be a fairly large house already. Not only is it large, but it's tricked out with a G5 Macintosh and flatscreens up the wazoo.
When we arrived (after getting lost and having to ask for directions), Lin was preparing dinner and Mark was in the back, poking in a smouldering hole full of charred papers. He was burning sensitive documents, the sort that can lead to identity theft if not properly destroyed. The hole had been difficult to excavate, since the soil around the house is comprised of rounded cobblestones the size and shape of ostrich eggs, with a small amount of sand and pebbles between them. The house sits in the middle of a wide floodplain, and on the house's north side it opens into a vast, grassy field, with a bank of White Pines in the mid-distance and the somewhat alien undulations of the Catskills behind. Herds of deer can be seen grazing in the field at all hours of the day; they pay no attention to humans at all, not at this time of year at least.
Dinner tonight was steak or vegetable fajitas grilled on the barbecue by Mark, who is vegetarian.
Dinner conversation covered such topics as ostrich farming, media consolidation, and (of course) the upcoming election. I knew Mark had voted for Nader back in 2000 and I was curious if he was going to do it again. He is indeed, though he's a little defensive about it and is quick to point out that New York is safe for Kerry. He explained that he made a commitment in 1996 that from then on he would always vote his conscience. It's not about politics for him; it's about idealism. But his idealism has done nothing to my desire to punch Nader in the nose. I love a story I heard about Bill Maher's interview with Nader; supposedly he showed him a picture of OJ Simpson and said that here was proof that one can be a hero for years and go on to be reviled.
After dinner everyone ate grilled bananas sprinkled with chocolate chips. It was a pretty disgusting-looking dessert, but when Mark insisted that I at least try some, I ate an amount that, had it been marijuana, wouldn't have affected me in the slightest.
Speaking of marijuana, Mark had apparently made the decision to abstain while house sitting here in Lake Hill. This was his second pot-free day, but its absence was making him grumpy. Meanwhile, in appreciation for a little web work I'd done, someone had recently given me a bag of highly-compressed Mexican marijuana. I almost never smoke pot these days, but marijuana is as essential to a well-stocked cabinet of libations as Bombay Sapphire gin, at least if you count any artists or musicians as friends. Knowing Mark loves pot, I'd brought a little along to share. But then when I heard he was abstaining I decided not to mention it. Obviously, if he was trying to abstain I shouldn't be dangling it front of his nose. When he mentioned his desire to smoke less pot, I jokingly said that I was trying to find a way to smoke more pot, because I'd received more than I can possibly smoke as a gift. "Oh man, you should have brought it!" Mark said. "I did!" I replied.
So we, the guys (there was another guy there too) went out to the picnic table and smoked pot out of a homemade piece of copper paraphernalia I'd brought. There was even a tree in the foreground that had the shape of an acacia. It was a beautiful night and the massive field looked exactly like the African savannah, with the Catskills standing in as some creepy African mountain range. The only thing giving lie to this picture was Ursa Major, the Big Dipper, which was the most obvious thing in the sky. It was so glaring and perfectly-oriented that it looked like a cartoon. Had we been in sub-Saharan Africa it would have been either upside down or well beneath the northern horizon.
When we got home tonight all the animals greeted us at the door as usual, with the exception of tiny Julius. Where could he possibly be? We searched everywhere before finally I heard his plaintive meows. He was up on the roof of the house. It turns out that I'd left the laboratory window open and he'd found his way up onto the main part of the house. Unlike Clarence and the late Edna, he evidently had been unable to find his way back. We coaxed him gradually down towards the edge of the steep roof (it is pitched at forty five degrees) and then I stood on a chair and grabbed him. He was terrified and it took him a good hour to recover enough to purr.
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