absence of visits to the veterinarian
Friday, July 3 2015
Guests would be arriving late this afternoon, so I ran a smallish (though wide-ranging) cleaning jihad throughout the first floor and basement. The house was still fairly clean in the aftermath of our visitors of two weeks ago, but there were a number of issues. First of all, our last guests had managed to leave a dirty diaper in a trashcan in one of the basement bathrooms, and diapers are puzzling for me because they are comprised of an uncategorizable mix of plastic that will outlast modern humanity and biological materials of immediate utility to the environment. It seems a crime to do anything at all with it, but I opted to wrap it in a plastic bag and put hide it deep in a bag of trash destined for the Hurley landfill. Then there was also the issue of mold. Recent rains had made the entire basement environment a good environment for fungi, even on surfaces that wouldn't normally support it. The only way to attack it was with bleach. The mold was particularly bad on the ceiling near the boiler room. It seems the carpet back there had flooded yet again from water being carried in through the electrical conduit from the well, something that only happens when the soil becomes exceptionally waterlogged. (One of these days I will find a solution to that problem.) Meanwhile, as always, Gretchen was in the kitchen making a multicourse gourmet meal. In this case this included empanadas and a Latino-style soup.
After that was done, I set out with my firewood gathering gear and salvaged pieces of a split trunk from a large downed Chestnut Oak not far southeast of where the Stick Trail crosses the Chamomile. The wood was dry, though a lot of its heart had been tunnelized by Carpenter Ants, something I only usually see in pine and other softwoods. Back at the woodshed, my load was almost exactly 100 pounds.
Our guests arrived in Prius at around 5:00pm from Northampton, Massachusetts. One was Lisa, who I know from the late-90s online journal scene of the early web, as well as her new friend Gina, whom she'd met on OK Cupid. They live about 100 miles apart, though evidently OK Cupid had matched them due to their similarities: not wanting children, veganism, and political views. With Lisa and Gina was Gina's dog Luna, a smallish black shaggy-haired mutt which looked to have lots of collie genes. As we were helping our guests carry their baggage into our house, there was a brief outbreak of violence as Ramona, for reasons unknown, suddenly attacked Luna. I was right there to break up the fight, getting the tip of one of my fingers lanced by one of Ramona's teeth in the prcess. After several similar episodes, it's falling into a pattern: Ramona is about as likely to pick a fight with new dogs as she is to leave them in peace. Fortunately, it was possible to put the canine tensions behind us by walking up the Farm Road and back. And now even Gretchen is on board with the idea that, in future, such social acclimation walks should be a prerequisite to any socializing indoors between new dogs and ours.
Lisa and Gina had brought a bunch of goodies, including a variety of food, cans of pre-made shandies, a huge can of an as-yet-unknown IPA brewed locally in Northampton, and bottles of kombucha that Lisa brews. After a brief tour of the greenhouse area, we all sat out on the east deck doing the usual: snacking on vegan dips, cheese, and crackers while drinking various forms of alcohol. I don't remember precisely what all we talked about, but, perhaps because the visitors were coming out of my old social network, there was a refreshingly-hedonistic quality to the goings on. There was also plenty of dull talk about advances in veganism, but that's something I am willing to indulge. Vegans, true ideological vegans (as opposed to hangers-on like me) love having those conversations. Lisa also said something about her work, which involved a lot of three-letter abbreviations that I kept asking for her to expand. It involves healthcare in the non-profit universe and benefits from a PhD she earned since I last saw her. As for Gina, she has some sort of problem with her neck that prevents her from working.
We walked down the Stick Trail for a ways and then looped back on the Gullies Trail. Luna the Dog was loving the freedom, though she was making Gina nervous by how widely she was ranging and how quickly she was moving. By now it seemed she and Ramona were cooperating in whatever it is dogs do. This cooperation wasn't yielding the results they hoped for (delicious chunks of deer meat), but it was valuable for its own reasons, at least to us humans desirous of peace and an absence of visits to the veterinarian.
Back at the house, we had our meal, followed by a dessert involving an increasingly-decriminalized plant smoked with device that, once fitted into a slightly-modified plastic bottle, becomes a bong. Not all of us present are particularly fond of pot, so some enjoyed it more than others.
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