biking a close for an evening
Saturday, August 6 2011
This afternoon Gretchen and I returned to the Door Jam out on Route 28 to pick up some other doors and to also have a couple cracked louvers replaced in the closet doors we'd gotten last time. Weeks had passed since our last visit to the Door Jam, and I knew some things I hadn't known that time. One of those was that replacing a door jam is a total bitch and the other was that two of our basement door jams are in good shape and do not need to be replaced. We'd already bought a couple doors completed with jams that we hadn't picked up, so we decided to trade them in for blank doors without jams and to also get a little 24 inch door (with jams) for the basement master guest room bathroom, probably the most dysfunctional door in the house. (Years ago, before I'd known about the foundation movement issues I was fighting, I'd tried to hack enough wood off this door to make it capable of closing, but that goal had eluded me and left the door hideous.) After all the door switching, returning, and fixing, we ended up getting back a pile of money as well as that extra door.
Next we went to Scandinavian GRACE, that spare, airy new upscale home furnishing store next door there in Shokan. The prices are ridiculous even if you haven't been yard saling, so instead we had ice coffee and gingerbread cookies (their only vegan food) at their bar, and Gretchen talked with the genuinely Scandinavian owner as I anxiously awaited the return of the my $10 in change. As they nattered on and on about such subjects as the advantage of selling expensive stuff when "overhead is the same," I became increasingly convinced that the guy had thought I'd handed him a $10 and not a $20. But there were no appropriate homes in the Gretchen-owner dialog for me to introduce this new subject. I finally had to do it at the end, precisely when it was most awkward.
Later in the afternoon, I was up in the laboratory working on my ongoing xcode project when I head the dogs barking, so I went and looked out off the laboratory deck to see what was the matter and suddenly realized that my alone time was over. Down below was Mark, the guy with whom I drink cheap beer and CDXX every several months or so. He never calls first; he just shows up. Ray had told me Mark and the family would be up this weekend, staying with him. Now it seemed he'd gotten bored and decided to "come up the hill."
It turned out that Mark had actually come by earlier, back when we were off in Shokan dealing with the doors and Scandinavian ice coffee. He'd dropped a sixer of Mountain Brew Ice in the fridge and a deuce in the brownhouse (he loves that place). After arriving this afternoon, he went straight to the fridge and cracked a brew. When Mark is visiting, it's always best to have some sort of mindless activity, so for awhile we were out at the woodshed splitting sections of the massive hickory I'd salvaged in Bearsville. It turns out that Mark has wood splitting skills (perhaps developed house sitting in Lake Hill), though he'd never split anything so big before and had never used wedges. By now a good rain had begun to fall and it felt good to be out in it.
Next Mark wanted to go down to the greenhouse, and for some reason I didn't know why. But when we got there I knew; it still stank of CDXX from when he'd visited it hours before. So we passed around the flaming CDXX faggot and marveled at the moss starting to grow on the floor. Mark was so excited to use the brownhouse that he actually went in there to piss, and I had to tell him not to.
Meanwhile, Gretchen, who had been watching teevee pantless in an over-sized teeshirt, had gotten ready to go out for a night of dinner with a semi-famous poet and a performance of experimental jazz by our friend Don Byron. She'd run a comb through her hair and put on a miniskirt and had had transformed enough for Mark to comment that she now looked like a "sophisticated woman."
Mark wanted to see my nascent iPad work, so we went to the laboratory. Mostly, though, we fiddled around with my jailbroken iPhone. He was astounded to see that I could FTP into it from my computer, though he was dismayed to see me using Google instead of his preferred search engine, Scroogle. (He's always trying to get Ray and me to use Scroogle, but I'm not sufficiently convinced that Google needs to be scrood, though it might be useful if I ever needed to research killing someone with chloroform.)
At some point Mark discovered my Midi keyboard, so I hooked it up to play through my guitar amp and he banged away at it while I played repetitive patterns on my bass. It's always fun to play music with people, no matter what their level of talent is; the absence of random jamming sessions might actually be one of the worst downsides of my current living arrangement.
Tonight was another opening night for KMOCA, so at some point Mark drove me down to Ray and Nancy's place and, after stanking up Ray's mancave with more CDXX vapors, Ray drove Mark and me to the opening (for some reason the ladies all decided to stay home).
By this point I was pretty drunk and stoned. The art consisted of large abstract paintings painted with narrow ranges of earth tones and tiny abstract wall-mounted sculptures. For the first time ever, we all got a chance to meet Deborah's new boyfriend, a little gnomish guy with a big bushy beard. He has an organic farm up in Lake Champlain and had brought a basket of vegetables which were offered free for the taking. Mostly what I was taking, though, was glasses of red wine. We didn't stay long.
On the way back to Ray's, we stopped at the Citgo beer cave and I got a sixer of White Hawk IPA (it's not very good) and, for Ray, Michelob Ultra (it's terrible, though he likes it).
Ray had made another of his light and summery pan-Asian mango noodle dishes (this summer it's become what pesto and quiche have become for Gretchen). In addition to Mark and Lynne and their shy little daughter, there was a guy named Bill there that I hadn't seen since Brooklyn.
Mark is loony toons with conspiracy theories, and over dinner in front everyone, he staked a claim out on the far-fringe of loonyville. He asked me what I thought of the government manipulating gravity to (I don't remember the verb) UFOs. I thought I would be doing Mark a disservice if I did anything whatsoever to support this crazy thought, so I said, "I don't think the government manipulates gravity at all."
By 11:00pm I'd been socializing for eight hours straight and I needed to pull the plug on the evening. Unfortunately, though, I'd ridden with Mark and had no car and Mark was in no shape to drive. So I pulled Mark aside and said, "I'm going to walk home now, but don't tell the others. Just act like it's a normal goodbye." He was appalled that I would want to walk two and a half miles in the dark and rain and offered me his brand new mountain bike. That seemed like fun, so I accepted. I said goodbye and began my ride.
Being overcast, it really was dark out there, but I could nevertheless make out enough of the road in front of me to stay on it. I hauled ass across the corn fields on Wynkoop and then along the base of the mountain on Hurley Mountain Road. It was glorious and empowering to be biking so fast in the rain down these familiar roads. I'd driven on them hundreds of times but never once walked or biked them. Every now and then a car would come through and I'd get off the road. (Mark had turned on a little red light in the back, but it being Saturday night, one cannot be too careful.)
I was about a mile from home and just about to start the climb of Dug Hill Road when Mark's car rolled up. It was driven by Ray and Mark and Bill were in it too. Mark had had second thoughts about the wisdom of letting me bike home in the middle of a nighttime rain, and soberer heads had decided a search party was in order. Seeing how much ground I'd covered, Ray was content to just let me keep going, but Mark and I decided it would be best if I returned the bike now. So I got a ride home for that last mile, a stretch I actually have covered on foot (though never on a bike).
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