convincing fake chicken
Sunday, October 14 2012
Today was the day of "Thanksliving," the annual vegan feast/fundraiser held out at the Woodstock Fαrm Animal Sαrnctuary. Gretchen would be a volunteer working mostly at the "bar," and she headed over there early. Normally I don't go, but Deborah had asked me if I'd be her plus one and I'd said yes. But before I headed over, I did some tinkering with the greenhouse. About all I could do was cut the four "studs" that will support the polycarbonate covering the cavity between the south-facing glass of the lower level and the south-facing glass of the upper level. These studs were tricky to create because their ends had to be angled slightly in order for them to rake back about ten degrees. I also had to cut little slots at their bottoms so they would fit into over both the "flange" and the "webbing" of the girder behind the top of the basement's south-facing glass. Complicating matters, the "studs" all needed to be slightly different, and in two cases the best way to make them was to start with a copy of an adjacent stud and then mark the copy up to show myself how to make one that fit better.
Before I set off for Thanksliving, I gave Ramona an extra tranquilizer (so she wouldn't destroy too much while left unattended). As for Eleanor, originally I was going to leave her behind, but some meathead was shooting a big gun down at the bus turnaround and it was freaking her out, so I arranged with Gretchen to bring her.
At the sanctuary, I managed to park the car and walk through the various levels of gatekeeping just by saying that Gretchen was my wife. I found her in the large temporary tent that had been set up for the event, and mostly all I did for the next half hour was make sure Eleanor didn't wander off. Eventually Deborah showed up, and I went out to show her the way to the tent (and also to fetch a better leash for Eleanor). From then on I mostly hung out with Deborah, as there were few at the event that either of us knew. Mostly the crowd appeared to the same interchangeable hipsters from the City that one sees at an O Positive or Film festival. Deborah and I eventually found our way to the entrance to the kitchen tent, where we stayed and waited for the best of the finger foods coming out in trays: either the vegan crab cakes or the fancy nut cheeses produced locally by our Eeyoresque friend Michæl. There were too many people crowded around the displays of items being raffled for us to look at any of them, though there was a spectacular faux fur that Gretchen eventually would win and then give to Eleanor (who likes to luxuriate on such things).
During the meal, Deborah and I sat with Robin, a spunky wheelchair-bound woman with an acid sense of humor I'd hung out with at earlier events. As for the meal itself, it was modeled on a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but I can't say I liked it very much. I barely able to choke down the nutmeg-rich pumpkin soup, and there were things wrong with all the sides (the bland "stuffing," the treacly "cranberry sauce," and the somewhat-wilty "salad") that came on the plate. But the faux chicken was amazing. It was a newly-developed product called Beyond Meat that I'd read about on Slate.com, and it was so realistic that if I wasn't at a vegan animal sanctuary (especially if I found myself at, say, a taco stand) I probably wouldn't have trusted it enough to actually eat it.
Deborah wanted to leave before dessert, and I briefly thought about going with her and leaving my car behind. If our friend Ray hadn't recently gotten a DUI I would have thought nothing about driving home, but I'd had about two and a half big glasses of wine and was feeling a little paranoid. Wisely, Gretchen told me to just wait a little bit and then drive myself home. So I took Eleanor on a walk down one of the nearby lightly-traveled roads and by the time I came back I was good to drive.
When I got home (having avoided being pulled over by a constable or smashing into a telephone pole), I found that I couldn't turn off the Subaru's front running lights. At first I thought there was an electrical problem, and this lead me to investigate the turn signal on the rear passenger's side. The plastic housing for that light has a crack in the top, and this had allowed it to fill with water like a small aquarium. When I took the signal lightbulb out, I found that it was full of water. I'd never seen water inside a lightbulb before. Clearly its seals had failed. To drain the light box, I was forced to drill a small hole near its bottom. And to keep it from filling up again with rain water, I applied silicone caulk to the crack. As for the mysterious persistence of the running light, it turned out that there is a switch on the the dorsal surface of the steering column just behind the steering wheel that turns on this "feature." Evidently Eleanor had somehow engaged it when I'd briefly left her unattended in the car.
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