Sunday, November 21 2004
This morning Gretchen and I went to the annual "Pickle Festival" in Rosendale. About 40% of it was being held indoors and then the rest was outside beneath a couple of large tents. The weather was being so cooperative that a set of gas outdoor heaters went undeployed. One large section of the indoors part of the festival was taking up with various Chinese displays, two of which featured people in traditional Chinese garb doing traditional Chinese things like tea ceremonies and condemned prisoner organ transplants. This seemed odd and out of place for a festival devoted to pickles, but then Gretchen explained that this festival had started out as an Asian pickle festival and had only gradually (evidently incompletely) gone mainstream.
But even for a festival devoted to pickles, there weren't all that many pickles for sale. What was for sale was your usual festival food selection, ranging from vegan Indian to Blooming Onion to Pulled Pork. At one booth a couple of police officers offered to install safety locks on handguns right there in the festival. Wait, did that mean that people would actually happen to be carrying their handguns when they would come upon this booth? At another booth a group of boyscouts and a scoutmaster sold birdhouses, the kind people buy other people (even their own kids!) as wedding presents when they don't want to spend too much money or show too much interest. When the scoutmaster bantered with me cheerfully about Wood Ducks, Gretchen was quick to bring up how displeased she is with the policy of the Boy Scouts of America towards homosexuality. "I don't necessarily agree with that policy," the scoutmaster said. He then told us that some of his best friends were boyscouts, er, whatever.
We asked a bagpipe player how his instrument worked and he showed us in great detail. Once he'd answered my question about the drones everything else was self-explanatory, but the guy clearly took great delight in explaining his instrument. His ensemble made a real mistake when they decided to give their concert indoors. The shrill dental drill timbre of the notes, played somewhat dissonantly in the way four difficult-to-tune instruments played by weekend amateurs can be, seemed to crowd the very air out of the room. There's a reason you mostly think about large open fields when you think about bagpipes.
Gretchen would be catching a ride to New York City, so I dropped her off at the Kingston Traffic Circle before heading home.
To complete my heatshield project I need a five foot by six inch piece of bluestone, but I've yet to find a piece anywhere near long enough. Today I set off on a quest along the top edge of the escarpment starting behind the house and moving along that contour somewhat beyond the Chamomile River. I carried a hammer and cold chisel in case I found a piece I could break free from a cliff. But there was nothing even remotely suitable. I found some previously-unknown piles of big flat stones, but nothing anywhere near long enough. Unexpectedly, though, I fond a sort of natural stone tray, a thin rock that had formed around a slightly smaller, squarer rock that had subsequently vanished, leaving a flat square rock surrounded on three sides by prominently-raised edges. I brought this stone "tray" home and set it up downsteam from one of my drainage tiles to collect and hold water after a rain.
I spent most of the afternoon mixing up small quantities of Portland cement, tinting it with concrete colorizer and then using it to fill in holes in my heat shield design. While this tinted concrete was still wet, I pressed shapes into it (leaves, oiled sea shells, and crumpled paper) hoping to leave patterns suggesting ancient fossils. The hope is to make it look old and full of treasure, sort of like (apparently) Kiev.
I've been reading the news a lot less since the election, and this is a change of behavior that would have had to happen no matter what the outcome might have been. I still spend most of my time at reliably-liberal news sources, the same ones that built up my hopes so much before the election. They're on the defensive now. They seem week and overly-cautious these days, none of them wanting to carry the torch for conspiracy theories about how, perhaps, the election might have been rigged (and we'll never know for sure). Though somewhat annoying, I keep coming back anyway. Why? I want hope and reassurance that everything is going to be alright. That's what these sites do for liberals in these dark times. They do their best to remind us that Bush is still a royal fuckup and is only using the next four years to dig a deeper hole for the burial of his place in history.
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