forty minute painting
Friday, January 23 2015
By this morning, the tower-mounted water barrel had shrunk in the vertical dimension by about one and a half inches, no longer focing the gutter upward or threatening the eaves. The gutter, though, being made of PVC, retained its distorted shape due to the water trapped within it that had frozen. The downspout from the gutter was still trapped in the frozen top surface of the rain barrel and had been pulled downward somewhat as it had retreated, but it was not yet as low as it normally would be. I switched off the heat tape, but outdoor temperatures hovered around freezing for most of the day and the ice in the rain barrel continued to melt slowly, drip by drip.
Today was the kind of day that causes Ramona to go down to the greenhouse upstairs and bask in the glorious low-angle rays of the winter sun. Soon she was joined by Gretchen, and then I came down with Celeste the Kitten, with Penny the Dog not far behind. Penny quickly decided that she also liked the greenhouse upstairs, and Celeste quickly mastered the greenhouse's pet door (which, being made of wood, is a bit more temperamental than the pet door of the main house). She hung out down there for most of the afternoon as well, even going back in to hang out by herself after everyone else got too hot in the dry ~90 degree heat and left.
At some point when I was down in the greenhouse, I decided I wanted to install Google Chrome on my iPad (which spends most of its time in the greenhouse upstairs). But then I ran into the problem of not remembering my Apple Store password. Apple has placed so many restrictions on passwords that it forbids the usual high-complexity version of the disposable password I like to use on crap websites where my security is not important to me. The restrictions forbid the use of three consecutive identical characters while also forbidding the use of any password that has been used in the past year. These restrictions are so onerous that I am forced to write the unique only-for-Apple password down somewhere or else (as more often happens) soon forget it and have to use Apple's "forget your password?" feature. This all adds up to the Apple Store being too much of a bother even for getting free software like Google Chrome, making my iPad even less useful than it already is (as it stands, it seems to have about 30% of the functionality of even my crappiest laptop).
I've given some thought to the matter of password restrictions on websites (and other password-requiring entities) and realized that it would be much easier for me to remember which password I used on which site if only these entities posted some way (perhaps a popup window) laying out their password restrictions next to every password box, thereby allowing me to cue my brain for which password I probably use there.
After much back-and-forth between Gretchen and his not-quite-wife Susan, the two manage to develop a plan for celebrating David's 50th birthday today. Because it looked like it would snow tomorrow, a plan to celebrate it then was scrapped and replaced with a dinner celebration at the Japanese restaurant Momiji in Stone Ridge. Gretchen prepared a chocolate birthday cake and, about an hour before we were to all meet, wondered if I'd prepared a present for David as well. I'd been thinking the cake would be enough of a present from both Gretchen and me, but evidently Gretchen didn't think so. It seems that of late, I've set the bar higher by giving presents in addition to the baked goods that Gretchen reliably produces. So, with an hour to go, in 40 minutes, I managed to knock off the following two by two and three-quarters inch acrylic painting of David and Susan's dog Olive, based on a photograph taken at 41.924313N, 74.101152W:
Painting with a time limit was a great exercise; it focuses attention on what really matters. I should do it more often.
Susan and David picked us up at our house and on the 8.2 mile drive to Momiji, David had us play a game in which we pretended the year was 1982. Everything I talked about was super nerdy: VIC-20 computers and pennies no longer being made entirely of copper. Gretchen said something about 80s pop culture, and, somewhat predictably, David spoke of the imminent threat of nuclear war.
Few places we dine at have large numbers of diners who are obviously younger than us, but today Momiji had a number, including a whole table of people (most of them somewhat-overweight men white men who appeared to have a strong interest in Hip Hop culture) who looked to have come here from SUNY New Paltz.
For food, I ordered my usual: vegetable fried noodles and a shitake & avocado sushi roll. Dinner conversation kept coming back to a number of deliberately-revolting topics, such as one of David's ideas for a performance art piece: a couple hipsters pushing around a stroller containing a large animatronic maggot. Supposedly he's working on a book called "Maggots Have Mommies Too."
Gretchen's chocolate cake was predictably well-received, even after it was revealed that it contained about three cups of sugar. And, somewhat surprisingly, so too was the tiny painting I'd dashed off.
Back at the house as I went to bed, I noticed I was having annoying pain in both of my hip joints. Initially it didn't seem like a big deal, but eventually it was enough of a problem to complain about, and Gretchen fetched me an Advil. Pain proceeded to worsen and then expanded into my lower back, causing me to wonder how terrible it might get. But eventually the Advil kicked in and the pain began to retreat, allowing me to fall asleep. Not knowing what else could have caused it, I attributed the pain to my ongoing caffeine withdrawal, which by this point was completely behind me otherwise.
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