Friday, June 13 2014
After Sunday morning coffee, I tried to bast through some quick web development work that proved to be too cognitively taxing to finish in a hurry, so I tabled it until I got back from the next activity Gretchen had placed in my schedule: looking at a house in Uptown Kingston to perhaps purchase as a real estate investment (with an eye to starting a slumlord empire). Gretchen is convinced that Kingston is finally poised to experience the kind of gentrification that has eluded it since the IBM plant closed back in 1994.
The house in question was a smallish house on a tiny lot several blocks south of Front Street on Wall Street. We met our realtor Larry (the same guy who sold us our Hurley house) on the street in front, but he had bad news: the electronic lock designed to give realtors access was malfunctioning, so we couldn't get in. All we could do was walk around in the rain and look at the landscaping and peer through the windows. The house was immaculately clean, and there wasn't a blade of grass out of place in the tiny lawn. There was a shrubby flower garden in the back and it was similarly tidy. I'm not sure how I feel about aluminum siding, which the house was clad in. (Is that a de-facto faraday cage?) Still, $130,000 seemed like an awfully good deal for a house within walking distance of Uptown.
Later this evening, Gretchen and I drove over to the house just bought by our friends Susan and David on Chestnut Hill Road east of Woodstock. They'd come up for the weekend (to spend their first-ever nights sleeping there) and wanted to show us the place again and then go out for dinner. Because of their complete lack of furniture, we brought over three floor lamps and a cooking pot. And David was just about to drive out to 9W to buy an air mattress so they'd have something to sleep on. Everything about their house is lovely, including the house itself (which looks like an English cottage, though it's surprisingly large inside and has a very good layout). But the most impressive thing is the landscaping. Chestnut Hill is a lightly-traveled road, but the house is completely hidden from it by a narrow strip of woods perched atop a low bluestone ridge (which, on the road side, forms a four or five foot cliff). Between that ridge and the house is a small but very functional fenced-in yard that the two dogs Olive & Darla love charging around in at full speed (something they could never do down in the City). The yard is bordered by manmade bluestone walls topped with gorgeous shrubby plantings and there is a bluestone walkway. And that's just the front yard. Susan expressed concern about the dogs escaping beneath the fence, so I went into the narrow roadside strip of woods and found a log and a few wild bluestone pieces to temporarily plug the gap, but it would be easy to build a little makeshift bluestone wall to plug that gap beautifully and permanently. I could tell that Gretchen was a little jealous of how effortlessly pretty it all was. But it had also been expensive.
While David was off getting the air mattress, I drove the ladies into downtown Woodstock, where the plan was to dine at the Garden Café. Now I know the Garden is the only vegan restaurant in the entire Hudson Valley, but for some reason the food there clashes with my preferences. There's a tendency there to cook sweet with savory and for things to be oddly greasy in a way that I just don't like. And I don't find much joy in the large clumps of cooked collard greens that seem to come with everything. That said, I usually do enjoy their bean soups, so I was happy to be eating whatever the bean soup of the day happened to be (it had been published on their website). But the first thing I noticed on entering the restaurant was that the place was excessively air conditioned. It had been a cool rainy day and I'd picked up some moisture just standing in Susan and David's new yard. Admittedly, I was only wearing shorts and a teeshirt, but everyone in the restaurant seemed to be wearing jackets, which seemed really just wrong (and ecologically absurd) for an evening in mid-June. We tried to get the staff to turn down the air conditioning, but they insisted it had to be on at least a little or the dining room would quickly overheat. Then it turned out that the Garden had run out of their soup of the day. By this point my mood had deteriorated to a state of surliness that verges on dangerous. I never particularly like eating in the Garden in the first place, and now it seemed like I was destined for an hour or more of discomfort along multiple spectra. Gretchen picked up right away on my petulant little boy vibe and decided we should go somewhere else. That was how the four of us ended up sitting at a tiny table in the upstairs of Joshua's eating Asian ramen Hot Pots. (I much prefer Joshua's to the Garden.) As usual, our conversation ranged back and forth between the scatalogical and the linguistic. On the topic of what words we find disgusting, we all agreed that "moist" was gross, but then David said he hated the word "lady." This led into a tale about the 80s arena rock band Styx, and some concert David had heard about where the long-winded nerdy banter of the main Styx guy caused a crowd of Texas meatheads to start yelling "faggot!"
Gretchen also told the story of how we somehow lost the two cats we'd recently adopted. Because she was telling a story and didn't want to spoil it, Susan initially assumed it had all turned out well and joked that they'd "already run away." She felt terrible at the end of the story when it concluded with us setting traps and hoping for the best. Gretchen's been having to tell that story to all our friends, starting with Michæl's party yesterday. She'd been dreading having to do so, but she's actually found that doing so has helped unburden her conscious. Confession works.
Despite our recent bad luck with cats, our charmed luck with dogs continued today when the lab results came in from Eleanor's tumor. I don't know the details beyond the simplification presented by the vet and relayed through Gretchen, but the malignancy of Eleanor's tumor was determined to be at the low-end of the scale of such things, indicating that it was highly-improbable that it had spread beyond the skin tissue that had been removed.
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