Saturday, October 6 2012
Gretchen spent the day in Port Ewen attending yet more orientation classes for her eventual position as volunteer literacy mentor (or whatever the income-free job title would be). When the alarm went off this morning at whatever ungodly hour it had to go off at for her to get to her class on time, I declared that Gretchen wasn't just a do-gooder. No, she was a do-bester.
I worked at a number of projects throughout the day, including a certain amount of web development (it seems I'm on call for my employer pretty much 16 hours per day, seven days per week — though I don't mind it much).
The largest project of the day was the assembly of the stone retaining walls for the new elliptically-shaped garlic bed just east of the asparagus patch. I made this new garlic bed rather small because I didn't actually have all that many rocks to work with (and I'd added to the rocks I'd hauled in with the Subaru by gathering yet more rocks from the somewhat rock-depleted woods nearby). [Later when I showed it to Gretchen, she looked at it and told me to make it bigger.]
In the ongoing greenhouse upstairs project, I'm down to cutting the pieces of woods needed to finish the details of the window openings, most of which are entirely hand-made and improvised. Today I needed a piece that both slid into a narrow gap along the edge of a casement window pane but also stuck out past the edge of that pane. So I used the bench router that this greenhouse upstairs project forced me to buy. I ended up machining a perfect piece of wood with an L-shaped cross-section that fit precisely the way I wanted it to. A router opens up a lot of possibilities when it comes to shaping wood for random needs that arise. I like the fact that I have two different kinds of devices called "routers." One kind contains a motor to spin a cutting rotor at high speed and the other contains a tiny computer determining the routes for ethernet traffic.
Late this afternoon I met Gretchen outside Catskill Art & Office Supplies in Uptown Kingston to participate in some the weekend's O Positive Festival festivities. First, though, we went to one of the new cafés Gretchen had discovered, a combination antique-store/eatery called Outdated. I had a coffee and the lentil soup while Gretchen had the quinoa/root vegetable salad, which we ate while seated on a nice old modern couch on sale for $400. (We briefly considered buying it for use in furnishing the greenhouse upstairs.)
At 5pm we met Nancy at the new Uptown wine shop, where there was both a wine tasting and a gallery show. We'd been in that wine shop before and hadn't seen any space for art, but it turned out there was a back room that was perfect for such things. The artist was actually someone Gretchen knew through the Bard Prison Initiative. He paints incredibly hyper-real landscapes in oil. Initially they look like photographs until you get close to them, at which point the tiny paint dabs become obvious. A number of the paintings were night scenes that the artist told us he painted on-site over the course of many nighttime visits (always in summer). While the paintings represented an impressive display of artistic effort, it was difficult to say that all that work was justified; the results were not unlike enlargements of not-especially-spectacular photographs.
We also partook of the wine tasting MC'd by a very personable gentleman. The most interesting of what was on offer was tiny samples of a 125 proof moonshine whiskey, drops of which could warm a whole body (which felt good on this slightly-chilly day during which, due to vernal inertia, I'd decided to wear shorts and flip-flops). We lingered at the wine tasting for awhile and were eventually joined by Deborah and Jane the cellist. At one point I noticed that a bottle of booze on the shelf appeared to be leaning at a weird angle. And then I noticed that it was a type of amaretto called Pisa and that the bottle had been made with an angled bottom so it would lean. This design was so compelling that it was one of the two bottles Gretchen bought while we were there.
Jane told us about some music happening over at BSP, so we wandered over there in time to catch a dude calling himself Too Tall Trees. Putting his banjo through a number of delays and other effect, he was able to form a one-man band complete with percussion. It was a bit minimal for my tastes, but the guy seemed talented. We (Nancy, Gretchen, and I) didn't stay long. We ended up wandering all over Uptown, ducking into antique stores and the local LGBT center at the glacial pace that tends to make me think of the ways I might otherwise be spending my time. But at least there was wine (along with paintings of unhappy farm animals) at the LGBT.
Outside the LGBT, Gretchen randomly saw a guy named Miguel she'd had as a pupil in some class she'd taught with Deborah years ago (Deborah had taught a photography component, and Gretchen had taught a captioning component). Miguel and his wife had us over to a party at their house in the Rondout four years ago, but I hadn't seen them since. Now they have a five month old portable baby named Allegra, and with her out of the womb, Miguel and his wife were free to go with us for drinks. First, though, we needed to get some grub. We tried the Yum Yum noodle shop, but that place was packed, so we went to another of Kingston's new eateries, and almost all of us (including, once again, Deborah) had the vegan sandwich from the menu. Near the end of the meal, I became concerned about how long Ramona had been left unattended in her corral, so I decided to head home. Gretchen could get a ride from Nancy.
In Hurley there's a four-way stop at the corner of Hurley Avenue and Millbrook Avenue, though it hasn't always been a four-way stop. So when I got to it, I slowed down and went through it without coming to a complete stop. There was a car some distance away headed toward me, and it must have been a cop because within seconds there was a flashing of lights behind me. I pulled into the Key Bank parking lot and stopped, fumbling for my seatbelt unsuccessfully. I'd been pulled over by a state trooper, and he leaned in close as I pulled my driver's license from my wallet, but there was no booze for him to smell; I'd had an unusually liquor-free evening. The trooper explained that he'd stopped me because of that rolling stop and also because of the excessive noise coming from the Subaru's rotten exhaust system. But once the check of my license came up clean, he sent me on my way. Evidently it had all been a ruse to catch me on the good chance that I was (like many motorists on the road at this hour) somewhat intoxicated. Such ruses frequently pay off; a month ago Ray got pulled over for a dead brake light on his drive home from work and he failed the breathalyzer test that followed. Now he's had to hire a lawyer and is fighting to keep his driver's license. A DUI conviction is a big deal, and you definitely don't want that. Still, it had been eight years since I'd been pulled over by a cop, and I'd begun to think that getting pulled over is a young man's thing.
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