Saturday, December 5 2009
Before having any sort of breakfast, I took the chainsaw to a large downed tree that had fallen on the steep slope just above where the Stick Trail crosses the Chamomile (which, at this time of year, is a babbling brook). I'd taken note of this fallen tree months ago and had somehow decided it was an inferior firewood, perhaps maple. But when I began cutting it up, I found that it was indeed oak, the kind of bone-dry, skeletonized heartwood that burns both hot and long. The only problem with bucking and stacking it was the steep slope I was on. It was almost impossible to get the bucked pieces (each of which weighed forty pounds) to land on the trail. Once moving, they tended to stay that way, bouncing off the trail and continuing a dozen or so feet down the Chamomile, where I'd have go down and retrieve them. It was a messy, backbreaking job, all the more infuriating because the wood was actually starting out above the trail. By the end there, my socks were wet, my muscles were weak, my blood sugar had crashed, and I was drenched in sweat. But still I somehow manage to carry the chainsaw and an eight foot long piece of unbucked branch home. But I was in such angry misery that if Gretchen had appeared and said something snarky or naggy, I might well have pummeled her to death with that unbucked branch (I wouldn't have had the strength to start up the chainsaw). Two bowls of cereal later, and stripped naked to the waist in a 58 degree living room, I was myself once more.
Later I went down the Stick Trail with the woodcart and retrieved about a third of the wood I'd just cut up.
In the mail today I finally received a small plastic box about the size of two coffee cups containing the circuitry of an oil primary, a device containing relays, triacs, and other gizmos, all in the service of firing a boiler whenever its temperature falls below a certain level. The primary pays attention to the reading from a photocell to make sure not too much oil is sprayed into a boiler if it is not firing (because that would be dangerous). If there is no flame for a period of operation, the primary shuts down and needs to be manually reset for the boiler to run again. For whatever reason, the boiler had been needing resets every six hours or so, and after eliminating all the other possibilities, I'd decided that the oil primary itself was the faulty component. So I'd ordered a replacement primary on Ebay, and it hadn't cost much more than $30. It took me only about ten minutes to install the new primary, allowing me to fire up the boiler for the first time in three days. Things seemed to be working, but the boiler problems have been slow to manifest of late, so I'll just have to see how it performs over time.
This afternoon snow began to fall in big fluffy flakes, but since the ground had yet to freeze, it was having trouble accumulating.
This evening Gretchen and I drove out to the opening at KMOCA, the art gallery partly-run by our friend Deborah. For the first time in many years, I actually had a work on display in a show. It was my latest copper swing lamp, which included an aluminum disk as a sort of halo (in keeping with the "100 Halos" theme).
There weren't many people at the gallery when we arrived, and we wondered if maybe the snow was scaring people away, but after awhile the place was nearly as crowded as it gets during a summer opening, when the gallery can be open to Abeel Street. Of course, most of the people there had art hanging on the walls; that's what happens when it's a show with mostly just one work per artist. My lamp was looking good, illuminating a stack of ceramic rings Deborah had made and arranged into a sculpture (a woman brushed against its pedestal later in the show and they tumbled to the floor, breaking one of the rings).
Early in the show, there was an old hippie guy there who kept focusing on Gretchen, coming up to her and speaking in aphorisms as if he were an extremely wise, mysterious man. Perhaps this technique had worked for the guy in the past, but Gretchen wasn't buying it. She just nodded and tried to act semi-bored, shooting glances of "can you believe this guy?" at me.
Later we were introduced to a gentleman named Paul who had bought and has been restoring one of the Rondout's many abandoned churches. Paul subscribeds to a live and let-live variety of atheism and wants to offer faithless church services to the enlightened, interesting, and open-mineded. He'd also like to rent out his church for weddings or maybe just sell the damn thing, because it represents a huge tie-up of capital. Paul has other ideas involving road-trip-based media that I am sworn not to divulge. When he and I got to talking, it all began with the revelation that he has a backhoe. "My life would change completely if I had a backhoe," I observed, and from there a sort of bromance flowered. We talked about about building stuff, modifying things, and not accepting as given the material objects of our world. Paul told me about replacing slate on the 200 foot steeple of his church. I asked about the view up there, and somehow the conversation turned to broadcastportunities, as in pirate and semi-pirate radio. We also talked about microcontrollers, a subject that doesn't interest many people but seemed to interest him.
After the opening, Deborah, Gretchen, me, Paul, and Paul's lovely "wife" (I forget her name; it was something nordic, though she's actually Columbian) reconvened at our new favorite Indian restaurant in Uptown Kingston. Paul had expressed reservations about the retail space the Indian restaurant is located in, mentioning its creepy history as a Chinese restaurant acting as a front for some unknown shady business. I got the sense from this hangup (and also from his manner of speaking) that perhaps Paul has obsessive-compulsive tendencies, the kind that can be extremely motivating when not acting as a millstone around the neck. It takes a lot of motivation, after all, to reshingle a steeple with slate. Check out this incredible video clip of Reverend Paul and a friend acting as steeple jacks on the church.
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