Saturday, October 11 2014
It was raining this morning and Gretchen had to work, so, after an early afternoon Skype meeting, it fell to me to walk the dogs. Up until I actually walked them, they kept pacing around in the laboratory looking at me with that distracing "I'm really bored, Dad" expression they've mastered. It's been less relaxing to walk with the dog in the forest since last year's uptick in bad bear encounters, though they haven't been much in evidence lately. Perhaps the fields full of ripe corn is keeping them all down lower in the Esopus Valley.
I always forget little things before going to the Wall Street house, but today after a stop at Herzog's, I had absolutely everything I need. While Eric was using paint thinner to clean the aluminum siding, I finished the work on the garage electrification and then turned my attention to installing a light in the attic of the house. I opened two different electrical boxes with the idea of tapping into the wires therein, but what I found in both kept me from proceeding. In both cases, the wires in the box consisted of that old mesh-jacketed stuff that tends to crumble to dust if bent. Instead of being made with wire nuts, the connections looked as if they'd been made by twisting the wires together and then taping them with an old style of electrical tape (the kind that looks like black fabric, not shiny black plastic). I'd rather pull a wire up from the basement than work with that stuff. For now, I think the attic will have to be illuminated by flashlight.
I turned my attention to the closet half bathroom project. To make it work, I'm going to have to remove a big cast iron radiator, part of which is inside a boxed-over section of the closet. I've never attempted to remove a steam radiator before, and my first attempt didn't go far. I tried putting a monkey wrench on an inch-thick piece of pipe and backing it out, but it could not be moved. Obviously, I'm going to have to do some internet research before proceeding. In the meantime, I could start disassembling the box around the part of the radiator that is in the closet. Surprisingly, I found the box was full of insulation, and hopefully not the asbestos kind. [It's not; I was able to melt a sample with a MAPP-gas torch.]
Gretchen called me on Eric cellphone and reminded me that we'd be going to a party up at that wacky compound near Palenville. So hurried home, and eventually we left. Because of the several dogfights we'd had to break up that last time we'd gone there, we didn't bring the dogs, but we did bring big appetites. The party had been catered by New World Home Cooking, and though w've been disappointed by New World as a restaurant, the big trays they provide as a catering service usually have some winners. I was excited about a seitan-rich glurp, but it turned out to have an off-putting (and completely unnecessary) sweet taste in it.
I don't know if there were more little human children or dogs at this particular party, but both took turns erupting into loud chaos every so often: either barking from the dogs or ear-splitting screaming from the children.
For a time, a large chunk of the kids were off visiting a haunted house in Kingston, but when they returned there was a big "cheese" tasting held. The "cheese" was all various kinds of vegan nut cheeses from the laboratory of Miyoko Schinner, much of which was convincingly tangy. One party attendee managed to get us all laughing by saying, "I can't wait 'til the day when we look back on today and say, 'That cheese really sucked!'" Vegan cheese has come a long way, but there's still no substitute for a proper swiss or provolone.
When I'm at a party at that particular compound, I always manage to keep things under control until, inevitably, someone invites me to go smoke pot with them (usually, these days, in the tree house). I got back to the party after that and I was so stoned that all I could do was drink water and listen as best I could to the conversation. I actually felt more comfortable with the animals and even, when they came through, the little children. I felt like I could read their minds. The kids were having some sort of crisis about marbles that required consulting with one of their many parents. I tried to imagine what it was like to be a kid playing in another room and then coming in to the grown-up room and seeing a bunch of relaxed adults with their alcoholic beverages. There were a few occasions like this when I was kid, but my parents weren't all that social so it didn't happen often. But when it did happen, it usually also produced thick clouds of cigarette smoke because it was the 1970s.
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