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").


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   Ray at 44
Friday, July 1 2011

Today was yet another Gretchen was using to wage a vegan dessert manufacturing jihad. Part of it was to assemble strawberry shortcake for Ray's 44th birthday (which we'd be celebrating this evening), and the other part was to make treats for some sort of summer festival at the local farm animal sanctuary (the one with which we are on speaking terms). Gretchen was so fatigued by all that time puttering around in the kitchen that she didn't have it in her to go down to the post office to send some get well treats to our friend Tim the poet, who is recovering from something he termed "walking pneumonia." So I went instead. The convenient thing about the Hurley post office is that it is within a literal stone's throw of the place on the Esopus floodplain where I like to mine topsoil, and it gave me the opportunity to retrieve a further forty gallons of dirt. There some bonus Tiger Lily bulbs mixed in, which I planted along our driveway near the road.

This evening a group of us all got together at our favorite local Indian restaurant in Uptown Kingston to celebrate Ray's birthday. Those in attendance included Sarah the vegan, Deborah, Ray's wife Nancy, Nancy's sister Linda, Linda's Husband Adam, and of course Gretchen and me. Gretchen arrived in Uptown a little early, so we took the opportunity to walk the dogs around the block defined by John Street, Crown Street, Front Street, and Wall Street. The weather was absolutely perfect, but as always the streets of Uptown were mostly dead (though it seemed to be ladies' night at Chronogram, the kind of ladies' night that only attracts young women wearing tiny cocktail dresses).
Everything we ordered at the restaurant was vegan save for a pitcher of raita Linda had requested. Though it was his birthday, Ray didn't seem as effusive and happy as he had in recent weeks. It seems that the good-paying weekday job he had down in the city (working on the loading dock and in the truck of a web-enabled delivery service) is coming to an end; the business isn't being run well and they can't afford to keep him on.
In another part of dinner conversation, Sarah asked why my right ring finger was bandaged, so I proceeded to regale the table with the tale of how I'd been trying to melt pennies to extract their zinc when a blob of molten zinc had freakish jumped up onto my hand. This gave Gretchen the opportunity to mock me in the voice of a super-nerdy 12 year old kid with Asperger's syndrome: "Actually, I was trying to electroplate a funnel to keep it from corroding and when I used a blow torch to melt a penny on a rock, a steam explosion caused it to throw a blob of molten zinc into the air, whereupon it -uh- landed on my finger, resulting in the injury you are looking at now."
At some point during dinner, Deborah told us about how she'd just gotten notice in the mail for a two year old infraction: her running a red light in New York City. It had been caught by a robotic camera and she'd never gotten any notice of it until the other day, but by that point it had been turned over to a collection agency. This led into a conversation about whether or not a judgment had actually taken place (Adam, the only lawyer at the table, seemed to think the city had a process for this) and if perhaps the statute of limitations meant Deborah could ignore it (Adam thought the statute of limitations for this sort of thing was on the order of ten years, so no).
Along with our meal, we also drank two bottles of white wine and a six pack of Blue Moon beer. The Indian restaurant has no liquor license, but they do have a cork screw.
After "Happy Birthday To You" had been sung and the strawberry short cake had been eaten, we went to our separate cars to drive to Ray and Nancy's house for a little after-dinner hanging out beneath tiki torches in the back yard. When we got to our car, someone had posted a self-declared "friendly" note complaining that one of our dogs had barked the "entire time," rendering the outdoors unpleasant on this otherwise gorgeous evening. We'd brought our dogs with us, of course, and Eleanor can be a bit of a barker. But she only barks when people are walking by, and the streets weren't exactly teeming with people. Still, I might well have found it annoying if she weren't my dog.

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