concrete block spit
Monday, July 20 2015
This morning while walking the dogs, I followed a common trajectory that doesn't add up to a long walk for the dogs but gives me access to points fairly far down the Stick Trail. I headed up the Chamomile Headwaters trail, cut northeastward off-trail and then picked my way down the steep 50-to-80-foot high escarpment down to the terrace where the Stick Trail runs. This time I didn't look to find a particularly easy way down the escarpment, and this was probably why I surprised a Woodthrush nesting on the ground slightly below the escarpment's lip. She had probably picked this site because it was an unlikely place for animals to wander through. I looked carefully on the ground where I'd seen her fly up and saw nothing at all. But then there it was, a tiny nest of blue eggs hidden between two small hummocks on the ground. She'd apparently walked a couple feet from her nest before flying up so as conceal the location of the nest.
Down near the Stick Trail, I cut a number of longish sticks of wood from a fallen oak and wrestled them to a staging area on the Stick Trail near the spot where it leaves our property and crosses that of another landowner. I bucked a small amount of it into pieces, loaded my pack, and walked it home. Initially the load felt light, but I had a third of a mile to cover, and by the end my shoulders were feeling it. Back at the woodshed, the load came to 94 pounds.
This afternoon I decided to take about five grams of kratom powder in tea form. This time I just put the powder in a tea cup, added a dash of vinegar, and then added hot water. It turns out that the powder in the tea isn't really problem for me at all. In terms of effects, I developed a buzz, though I didn't feel as motivated to "do stuff" as I have in the past. Instead, I experienced a common effect I get from certain drugs (particularly opiates, but also Adderall): a mental obsession with the knowledge that eventually the buzz will disappear. This obsession can actually cloud the experience of the dug itself, making it significantly less pleasant than it otherwise would be.
For the first time in over a year, I wanted to go out to P&T Surplus just to see what is new there. I also hoped to find some cheap plastic funnels to perhaps amplify air pressure changes in my barometric windvane. Because of the high summer sun and the seasonably-dreadful heat and humidity of the day, I set out late in the afternoon. Shade was difficult to find near P&T, so I had to block a gate with my car as I stuffed it beneath a bush. The biggest change at P&T Surplus was in the computer aisle, which is now mostly features used LCD flatscreens, though in the back where the random scrap can be found there was fun new stuff too: big tiles of plastic mirror and bins full of circles made of rubber or plastic (and all of which would work as wheels for a robot). I ended up buying a plastic mirror tile, some door hardware, and screwdriver with a long flexible neck that can be attached to my electric screwguns.
As always, I rewarded the dogs for their patience by taking them for a walk back behind the municipal park adjacent to P&T Surplus. Ramona almost reared up to give her greetings on a very nicely-polished red Ford Focus being driven by an African American gentleman as he brought his light-skinned daughter to the park, but somehow I was able to convince Ramona this was not a good idea. "Doggy!" the little girl cried (in the sort of dog-positive way one rarely hears from young African Americans). "Yeah," I agreed, "It's a dog!"
I turned left at the abandoned factory (41.913130N, 73.993740W) and continued on a roadway that went out on a large, apparently artificial spit of land in Rondout Creek. All along the roadway were massive piles of concrete blocks organized by type and color (41.913448N, 73.990931W). They'd all apparently been abandoned here years ago, because some had deteriorated into crumbs and trees could be seen growing up through and between them. But there were lots of them still in perfectly usable condition. I filed the information away for later use; if I ever have a big project that requires either esoteric or lots of concrete blocks, it doesn't seem like anyone is going to miss these. (And I was able to transport all the concrete blocks needed for the greenhouse just using Honda Civic sedans over the course many trips.)
Out on the concrete block spit, I'd been hoping to find a little beach so the Ramona and Eleanor could get into the water and cool down. But the entire shoreline seemed to be hidden behind dense impenetrable forest. There was one place were we could get right up to the water, but it lay out of reach below a three foot vertical (probably manmade) embankment. The dogs looked off it and it was clear that, much as they wanted to be down there, they weren't going to jump. Not far from there, though, I saw a mucky break in the embankment (41.913072N, 73.992187W), so I encouraged the dogs to try entering the water that way. The underbrush was too heavy and full of Poison Ivy for me, but they could do it. Immediately they grasped what I was suggesting, and within seconds they were in the water, soaking in it and drinking it. The water here is tidal, so they were at sea level, and though it's probably somewhat polluted, supposedly the saltiness goes no further north than Newburgh. The dogs only stayed in the water briefly. That was all they needed.
As I walked back through the park to P&T Surplus, I saw the gentleman who had driven the shiny red Ford Focus was sitting on a park bench fiddling intently with some device in his hand while his little daughter played. There were a couple skinny little black boys there too, daring each other to approach Eleanor as she wandered through. One of them was wearing an Eric-Garner-memorializing "I CAN'T BREATHE" teeshirt. She'd become temporarily lost and couldn't hear me when I shouted, so I had to wave my arms, which is becoming the best way to signal her from a distance.
I got some groceries at the ShopRite and then continued to the DollarTree further north on 9W. I rarely have occasion to go into a dollar store, but perhaps they had funnels. It's never a surprise when dollar stores are cluttered, have stained carpets & dropped ceilings, and grotesquely overweight employees, but the Dollar Tree seemed a bit bigger and less funky than usual. I soon found a $1 set of three funnels. Since I needed four identical funnels, I had to buy four of these sets ($4) for a total of 12 funnels. Amanda, the woman who waited on me, probably assumed I was getting emergency supplies for my meth lab (what other explanation could there be for a scruffy-looking white guy buying 12 funnels?). Amanada was a relatively thin-looking white woman, which also read "meth" to me, although I was alarmed to notice that when relaxed, her face was frozen in a perpetual "duckface" typical of selfies.
On the drive home, I saw a smallish Coyote cross Wynkoop and disappear into the fields to the south in broad daylight. The car in front of me saw the Coyote too and drove slowly after that. Most enthusiastic of all about the Coyote, of course, were Ramona and Eleanor. They went absolutely nuts.
This evening while capturing and putting outside numerous individuals beloning to a species of large moth (they could put up quite a struggle in the hands). I the saw the first Katydid of the year. Katydids are, of course, an unwelcome harbinger of the end of summer, though it's possible to remain in denial as to their existence so long as they aren't making any noise. So far I haven't heard their characteristic cha-cha-cha call.
This evening I watched the episode of Frontline where PBS (this time not supported in part by David Koch) covered the issue of transgender children, a phenomenon the narrator described as "recent in development." Not long ago, people who felt that their mental genders differed from their biological ones couldn't do much about it until they became adults and could afford to take action. Now, though, gender dysphoria is accepted as a real treatable issue and many parents are willing to indulge the professed gender preferences of their children. Interestingly, though, the majority of children who question their biological genders eventually come to accept them unchanged. To give such children more time to decide how they want to end up, there are now drugs designed to delay the onset of puberty. While I am generally accepting of gender dysphoria as a valid psychomedical issue, this episode caused me to wonder to what extent parental support of possibly-transgender children might be just another aspect of the over-coddling typical of contemporary parenting. A less-coddling parent (such as the one I would have been) might be more inclined to say, "Yeah, well, little brat, maybe you should learn to live with what you have. I starved myself so I could afford to buy my first computer." Since most gender-questioning children don't end up become trans adults, perhaps that would only be a bad approach in a tiny fraction of cases.
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