Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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Like my brownhouse:
   emerging on Hurley Mountain road
Saturday, June 26 2010
Some prisoner-students down at Eastern Correctional facility would be performing a play today, and, since it was 45 minutes away and was advertised to start at 10:00am, Gretchen got up early to go be in the audience. The performers wouldn't all be from the program with which Gretchen is affiliated, but some of them would.
Gretchen returned an hour and a half later, infuriated about the screw up that had just made her needlessly drive 70 miles. The flyers advertising the play had all said 10:00am, but the play had actually been scheduled for 1:00pm, and nobody had bothered to correct them. And when Gretchen had called to confirm the time of the play, she'd been told "whatever it says on the flyer." This is typical of how things work at the prison. Even when they're trying to do things right and take pride in their creativity, the prisoners are thwarted at every turn, and among the guards there's a sadism derived from this thwarting even if (as in this case) it is carried out passively. So Gretchen (and possibly others) didn't end up seeing the prisoners' play. And she hadn't needed to stay up late making cupcakes for Milo's birthday party (more on that in a moment) because she could have just made them this morning (instead of wasting her time in a car).

Early this afternoon, Gretchen, Sarah, Ray, and I all went over to Penny and David's to help them celebrate the official first birthday of their recently-adopted son Milo. Since Milo is from Korea, everything about today's celebration was Korean, including the food. In the past one could be somewhat disappointed by the vegetarian options at a Penny and David barbecue, but this time they were sure to stress that vegan options would be available.
And were they! The food was so good it was as if I'd died and gone to Portland. There were noodle dishes, rice dishes, and multiple varieties of kimchi. Surprising though this might be, I'd never actually had kimchi before. Anyone who knows the kind of food I like wouldn't be surprised to discover I loved it. The combination of garlic, pickle, and heat is like spicy flavor trifecta, sort of analogous to what Heinz ketchup is in for the comfort flavors. Of course, there are lots of varieties of kimchi and I will come to like some more than others. But for today, I was just swirling it around through the noodles and pan-seared tofu and loving what was happening to the deliciousness factor (it was going off the charts!).
At some point young Milo was given the task of choosing his fate (supposedly this is a Korean custom on a child's first birthday). Various things were placed in front of him, including a fruit and a dollar bill. Whatever item he picked would irrevocably determine the trajectory his life would follow. Luckily for Milo, none of the items signified negative fates. After crying a little (perhaps from the weight of the decision) he chose the item representing "long life," which is something of a mixed blessing. After all, long life is only precious if you're not miserable all that time.
Later in the party the food took a decidedly non-vegan turn, but by that point it seemed a lot of people were already full and satisfied from the vegan options. I've sort of forgotten what it was like to sneak off to devour a chicken breast while Gretchen wasn't looking, but somehow I doubt I would have done that had the vegan options been as good as they were today.
At some point I transitioned to wine, but then I felt hungry again and ate another full platter of kimchi-flavored noodles while the others were scarfing up the gourmet vegan cupcakes Gretchen had made last night.
I got separated from Gretchen for awhile and had a fun conversation with some of David's journalist friends who had last been here for Penny and David's birthday (before we'd met them).
Back at our house there was to be an interval of about an hour and a half before the day's next activity, which was to go to the Rondout in Kingston to attend an art opening at KMOCA (the Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art, partially run by our friend Deborah). So Sarah decided to go for a half hour stroll in the woods. This ended up being a very bad decision.
It turns out that Sarah has a very bad sense of direction. When she's driving she quickly gets overwhelmed by the content of signposts and the portents of the angle of the sun. Many people have an intuitive sense of the general location of north and south when the sun is out, but not Sarah. In the forest she finds she has even less to work with, even when there's a marked trail. The woods themselves are a monotonously repeating texture, and with its branches and reticulations, it's possible to follow the trail system in a perpetual loop. Eventually it was time for us to go to the art opening and Sarah still wasn't back. The only explanation was that she was lost. So I rode a bike down the farm road to its end (near the southwest terminus of the Stick Trail, in a place we refer to as "the Baobab" in honor of a large tree that fell down and exposed an enormous root mass). I called Sarah's name, but she didn't answer.
So then Gretchen and I fanned out from the house southward into the forest, with me taking the easternmost trajectory through the trail system and Gretchen and the dogs going down the main Stick Trail. We called and called for Sarah, but all we could hear were the tweets of birds (not microbloggers). I stood for awhile at the southeasternmost segment of trail, high above the corn fields of the Esopus Valley, and shouted out over the treetops, hearing my voice echo off ridges I have never stood on. But nothing.
Eventually I turned west and walked to the west end of the trail system at the Baobab. Not far away, Georges, the guy who owns the house at the end of the farm road, was tending his garden (which, due to the threat of deer, looks a little like a recreation yard at Guantanamo). I asked Georges if he'd seen Gretchen, and he had. But at the time Gretchen hadn't yet found Sarah.
But as I approached home via the farm road, I heard loud laughter wafting through the forest. Obviously this tale had a happy ending.
And there on the south deck were Sarah and Gretchen. It seems that Sarah had gotten lost, been confused by a set of cairns, and had (for whatever reason) decided to go off trail and down hill. Down hill. After changing her elevation roughly 500 feet, she heard the sound of cars on a road and went in that direction. She emerged from the vegetation somewhere along Hurley Mountain Road, proving yet again that one can always find civilization if only one goes down hill. Not entirely sure where she was, Sarah tried to hitch hike, but that didn't work because people evidently thought she was a highwaywoman. So she went to some random person's house and knocked on the door.
That door belonged to the woman who used to sell Gretchen free range chicken eggs back before she was fully vegan. After Sarah explained how she'd gotten lost, the woman knew exactly where she'd come from. So she'd driven Sarah back up the hill. Now it would be just another "lost in the woods" story, to add to Suzy the dog's and Gretchen's (from early in our life in Hurley).

Sarah was feeling contrite for all the trouble she'd put us through, so she took us out for dinner at Northern Spy in High Falls. Northern Spy is considered part of the home habitat for one of our arch-nemeses, but the bumperstickers in the parking lot indicated that this person wasn't there. And, interestingly, neither were the flyers for her stupid animal sanctuary. I ordered a veggie burger with conventional potato french fries (because I do not like sweet potato fries, the default option). Gretchen was very excited about my burger (her "vegan loaf" was made from the same material), but it was just kind of meh for me. I thought the black bean soup was delicious, as was the perennial Northern Spy vegan staple: free-range tofu wings. Unfortunately my IPA was served to me too warm. We weren't in Portland any more.

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