majority of our rural enclave
Sunday, April 17 2005
I'd decided the driveway and walkway trenches were deep enough, so today I began laying four inch perforated plastic pipe. As tasks go, this was about fifty times easier than the obliteration and removal of bedrock. By the end of the day I'd not only laid most of the pipe, but I'd also buried sections of it beneath crushed pieces of former bedrock. I'd also poured concrete in places on either end of the pipe to hold it in position, assist runoff into the pipe, and as an experiment in repaving the surface I'd had to destroy in the digging of the trench. I particularly liked the look of this repaving, which I tiled using flat circular river stones from Esopus Creek. Unfortunately, though, the concrete I used was leftover from last fall and I could tell (partly from how uncaustic it was when it came in contact with my hands) that it would set up weakly at best. In the end I'd have to be tearing most of it out and redoing it with fresh stuff.
This evening Gretchen and I went to a little dinner party hosted by one of our neighbors about a eighth of a mile north on Dug Hill Road. A number of other neighbors were there, including "the Greenhouses" (the older couple uphill from us) and the newer neighbors who moved into the 1970s-style house directly across the street and who outsource their landscaping to professionals. There was also this couple from further up the road who live on a large parcel that they are unfortunately in the process of subdividing into lots. The male half of the couple is a builder and was obviously excited by the upcoming housebuilding fest that will soon be happening in what had been fallow forest. But nobody else there was caught up in his excitement. As for Gretchen and me, the best we could do was to contain the sickened expressions that reflexively formed across our faces.
It turned out that this builder guy, though well into his fifties, had all the hallmarks of severe untreated attention deficit disorder. Occasionally his loud voice and careless talk would be funny, but more often than not it would be unpleasant or in very poor taste.
At first dinner conversation centered around news of the doings of "the bear" (as though there is only one). Then it moved on to stories of dealing with various laborers. The folks in the 70s-style-house told about a bad experience they'd had with a carpenter who turned out to be a religious freak. Ms. 70s-style-house, noting how spry he'd looked for a man in his 70s, asked him, "What's your secret?" to which he responded with an hour-long evangelical effort.
Finally we all took turns telling the story of how each of our couples had found each other. The builder guy was so impressed by the story told by Gretchen and me that he gave us each a stick of plastic-wrapped store-bought biscotti that had been his couple's contribution to tonight's dinner. I held up mine and thanked the academy, which was typical of the sort of mostly-gentile humor that was happening at the table.
People there tended to be a little more "normal" or "conventional" than Gretchen or me, but the surprising thing is that they were but a fraction of the politically liberal, non-religious people who form the vast majority of our rural enclave in this the generally-Republican township of Hurley.
Unexpectedly, perhaps, our host proved to be as much of a vegetarian as Gretchen, but the kind who likes eggplant. Gretchen had brought a tart she'd spent the afternoon baking and it looked like something you'd see depicted on the cover of Pans & Whisks Magazine. It was also delicious, with such a perfect blend of spices that it tasted like a new one I'd never had before.
The ditch today. Note the branch of pipe that will pick up water from the roof gutter.
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