Wednesday, October 20 2010
I finished up the new greenhouse door installation this morning by installing a strike plate. The door seemed to be catching a little on the threshold; it seems I'd applied a bit too much asphalt to the door's underside. But the surplus will eventually wear away.
While for the past couple years I've been salvaging the majority of my firewood from just east (downhill) of the Stick Trail just south of where it crosses the Chamomile, the other day I discovered new riches of downed dead trees west (uphill) of the Stick Trail in that same area. The advantage to gathering wood there is that gravity provides assistance (as opposed to resistance). Today I cut up two downed trees, one small and the other medium-small. That may not sound like much, but I know from experience that the amount of wood generated was equal to about two carts' worth (and in the winter I burn a little over a cart per week). Two weeks' of wood: I'll take it.
The larger of the two trees was high on steep-sided bluff, and as I cut the pieces, they rolled a quarter of the way to the Stick Trail on their own. Nevertheless, wielding a chainsaw and carrying chunks of wood, even downhill, is a hell of a job. The chainsaw is as heavy as a small anvil, and woodstove-length pieces from the big-diameter part of a bone-dry medium-small tree can easily weigh forty pounds. As always, I had to shed my shirt so the sweat could freely evaporate into the cool autumn air.
The woman from our CSA called us earlier this week to announce the closing of the CSA for the season. So when I went to town today, my travels didn't include a stop at the farm. My biggest priority was the purchase of a variety of canned beans, an huge staple in our vegan household. We like the Goya black beans and I love the Goya black-eyed peas, but I always get some other brand's chick peas, since Goya's talents do not include Mediterranean beans.
On the drive back home, I stopped down on the Esopus floodplain across Wynkoop from the Hurley Mountain Inn so I could mine five buckets of topsoil for the winter's greenhouse crops. While I was there, some local who'd been walking his dogs came by and one of the dogs attacked Sally. She wasn't injured and the guy was apologetic, but it kind of freaked Sally out. She was also filthy from having rolled around in the wet sand.
As I'd been working, I'd left the headlights and radio on (I'd been listening to NPR's coverage of the midterm elections). Though I was only shoveling dirt for about ten minutes, when I went to start my car the engine turned over lamely a couple times and refused to start. Evidently my battery had died.
So there I was, down a dirt road some distance from the Hurley Mountain Inn, within sight and sound of the activity at the Stewarts and Route 209. But if I walked up to a stranger smoking a cigarette outside the Hurley Mountain Inn and asked him to follow me down that secluded dirt road to jump start my car, he'd be afraid my intention was to cut his throat (or else go Deliverance on his ass — I was even wearing overalls as if playing the part).
I'm strictly 20th-Century when it comes to communication technology. I don't own a cellphone equipped with a plan and rarely carry one (and if I do, it's Gretchen's). Meanwhile, it's doubtful Stewarts still has a working pay phone and even if they did, I don't know any numbers except my own. And I knew that Gretchen was down at the prison teaching her evening writing class.
But then it suddenly occurred to me: Ray and Nancy now live less than a half mile from the Hurley Mountain Inn! So I jogged down to their house, hoping at least one of them would be home (if I was really unlucky, it would be "date night"). But no, they were both there. Ray drove me down to my car and we managed to jumpstart it. (His cables, though they looked nicer than mine, did not work. My ratty old cables were what it took.)
Back at the house I made myself a blackeyed pea jalfrezi. I'd just bought the jalfrezi sauce today at Hannaford, and when I went to open it the container didn't pop and I could see someone had dipped a finger in it to taste it. That's pretty disgusting, I know, but sometimes you just have to say fuck it because returning something is too much trouble, so I used the jalfrezi sauce anyway, despite the fact that it might well have contained arsenic. It's possible, after all, that someone is targeting hippies and Indian-Americans by lacing ethnic foods on store shelves with poison. But I think it's best to accept some reasonable risks and not live in fear.
With Gretchen gone for the evening, tonight was my big teevee night. I went to watch a Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC but what I got instead was an episode of the reality show entitled Sister Wives about a polygamist Mormon family that has decided to be completely open to the world about their lifestyle. The polygamy itself was a little icky, but what icked me out the most was the family's patriarch, who seemed to be adding his latest wife as a symptom of his midlife crisis. His three other wives were all blond and increasingly overweight, and he seemed to be taking advantage of polygamy to prove to himself that he still had it. When you're a polygamist, adding a wife is just like adding a car (he'd also bought himself a sporty Lexus). As for the wives and their interests, they seemed just as vapid, self-obsessed, and ordinary as most Americans, perhaps a bit more so. There are far more scenes of them gushing over pink baby clothes than usually happen in the sort of television I normally watch.
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