Thursday, November 4 2004
In the middle of the night I freaked out because I hadn't seen the cat Lulu in a couple of days. Yesterday had been so miserable that her being eaten by a wild animal seemed to be in keeping with the spirit of the times. I searched both the house and the yard for her but turned up nothing. When I finally fell asleep I had a dream in which she came back, emaciated but alive. I never have dreams like that unless the cat is actually gone for good. This morning when I raised the alarm to Gretchen, she did her own search and managed to find Lulu and she was fine. It was the best news I'd seen since the exit poll data on the afternoon of the election.
This morning we had our first frost of the year, which is in metaphoric keeping with the results of our political Groundhog Day. In the past day it seems that color has drained out of the autumn leaves and we've entered that period of depressing pre-winter bleakness that always seems to coincide with the end of daylight savings time.
I was driving around today on various errands and I found it impossible to keep my mind from wandering back to the lost election. It seemed to overwhelm the significance of absolutely everything else in my life. It's a kind of craziness, one I that I expect will diminish with the passage of time. In the meantime, though, I've had to develop mental strategies to maintain my happiness.
For the past two days I've been looking for ways to get my mind off of the political situation. Nothing seems to work quite as well as reading about how the glaciers of the ice age reshaped the Catskills. The subject matter is the opposite of today's bad headlines: it's local but from a long time ago as opposed to national and happening today. The book I've been reading is The Catskills in the Ice Age written by Robert Titus, a geologist we'd seen lecture at SUNY-Ulster. It reminded me of things I knew but hadn't applied to my interpretation of landscapes. I've spent most of my life south of glaciated terrain and was in the habit of thinking only in terms of water erosion. Now, though, when I walk down the Stick Trail I'll be more aware of the fact that a valley glacier once filled the Esopus Valley and plucked massive boulders off the escarpment along which the trail passes. This glacier was here only fifteen thousand years ago, and that accounts for the freshness of the rock on all the exposed cliffs.
This afternoon on my way home I stopped in at the house of the downhill neighbors to install a DVD burner. While I was there they plied me with wine, cheese, and sausage. Most of our carnivorous friends take delight in the fact that, unlike Gretchen, I'm not exactly a strict vegetarian. We talked about the political situation and found some comfort in the fact that Ulster County had voted decided Democratic in this election. Apparently it used to be something of a Republican stronghold, but a steady influx of New Yorkers has changed all that. When I mentioned that I have a brother who suffers from mental problems, the old man told me all about his schizophrenic sister, who used to live in a tiny cabin near the house. Supposedly she used to fill the ravine with psychotic screaming and swearing, a sound that might well return some day when I inherit my parents' estate.
This evening Gretchen and I watched the Argentinian swindle movie Nine Queens (in Spanish with English subtitles). It had a clever David Mamet style plot with a completely unexpected twist at the end. Listening to the Argentinian Spanish, I noticed there was a tendency not to pronounce a lot of internal "s" sounds in words. So "Estas estampillas" sounded more like "Etas etampillas."
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