already missing a hind leg
Tuesday, July 21 2015
This morning I walked significantly beyond my staging area west of the Farm Road, but, judging from how I felt after the walk home with a 110 pound load of dry skeletal oak from a tree beyond my usual firewood-gathering range, it wasn't all that far.
Not long after I'd showered off beneath the hose in the yard, my friend Mark showed up. He and his wife Lynne and their kid V were staying for a week at a place they'd rented on Ohayo Mountain, and of course Mark wanted to see me. I'd told him to come over early in the day because, well, otherwise he might get drunk and get in trouble for driving that way (more with his wife than the po-po). Mark is always looking for things to do whenever he is somewhere, so I put him to work splitting large pieces of White Ash while I repotted some Thai Ornamental Pepper seedlings. He had to use wedges, and though he was as competent as anyone I know with such tools, he wasn't quite as skilled as I am. Of course, I use those tools with great frequency. Mark's skill set is geared more towards urban gardening, photography, and mentally reconciling contradictory conspiracy theories.
By now, of course, we were drinking beers even though it wasn't even noon. Yesterday in anticipation of a visit by Mark, I'd bought a twelver of Rolling Rock. Mark likes cheap macrobrew.
Inevitably we went down to the greenhouse basement, which is Mark's favorite place here on Hurley Mountain. A couple weeks ago, I'd found the basement overrun with mosquitoes hatching from all the standing water in their. But today they were mostly gone. To smoke out the few remaining, I'd made a smoke bomb consisting of a Del Monte French Cut Green Bean can containing dry pine needles, which I lit and got smoking. Mark referred to this device as "Del Monte" from then on. For tunes, Mark stuck his iPhone to a steel object (using a magnet he'd added) and played trippy Reggæ (the kind with lots of echo on the high hat). It's not really my thing, but I didn't mind. Mark loves to clean up and tidy the greenhouse, so while he was there he found a new home for the jackhammer (not in the middle of the floor deck) and proceeded to clean and coil a fifty foot extension cord that was no longer being used for anything.
I was drunk and stoned in the early afternoon of a workday, and it was just a matter of time before my various clients started calling. One called by telephone, since (for some reason) the clients who pay me the least are the most synchronously intrusive into my personal time-space continuum. Soon after that, I thought it prudent to check in on my computer to catch up on the less-synchronous interruptions that had come in since I'd last checked. Sure enough, the Skype icon in my taskbar had darkened, meaning my man Marc had wanted to chit chat about something. I drank some tea and only smoked a little more pot before accepting a Skype call from him. I think it came as a bit of a surprise to hear how technical and professional I managed to be while sitting there covered with mosquito bites in my swimming trunks, pot smoke still wafting past my head. After the call was done, Mark observed, "They really lean on you, huh?" He decided it was best to go so I could do the work being asked of me.
Gretchen had to go to work today in Uptown Kingston, so she'd taken advantage of her being in the area to schedule a double date for us at La Florentina with our friends J & MA, the two women who recently bought a place in Germantown across the Hudson. The guy who works the oven at La Florentina knows us now and always gives us an enthusiastic hello when we come in. It's also not uncommon for us to encounter friends we've introduced to La Florentina just happening to be there when we arrive. Once it was Ray & Nancy and a huge extended family, another time it was Susan and David with Susan's brother Michæl, and today it was Cathy, the woman who makes falafel with her El-Al-piloting husband. For the first time ever, we sat outside in La Florentina's little patio in the sideyard. It's surrounded by bushes and flowers, but it's hard for that to mask the busy sounds of Albany Avenue. And when a freight train goes by, well, it's like being hobo for a couple minutes. The waitress had to set it all up for us, as it had been closed down due to the heat. But there was a pleasant breeze blowing and it was probably a better temperature in the patio than indoors where the air conditioner battled with the brick oven.
J & MA told us all about their recent trip to Italy, which apparently didn't go as well as expected. It was tour that had been veganized by people who obviously don't understand veganism. As I've pointed out in the past, subtracting cheese from food without adding something else (sometimes something as simple as salt) inevitably leads to disappointment. Still, apparently Italy, and particularly Rome, are now much more vegan friendly than they were as recently as 2011, when Gretchen and I went. Since everyone there but me wasn't just a vegan but also a vegan activist, conversation occasionally went into the weeds with vegan talk, but at least I got a chance to tell my "This will work!" Italian cab ride story. And Gretchen also shared a business idea that has recently obsessed her, Susan (of Susan and David) and Carrie (of Carrie and Michæl). (I can't divulge any more about that.) By the way, J & MA were blown away by the unexpected deliciousness of La Florentina's food, which is always comes as a bit of a surprise considering its strip mall location. We'll probably randomly run into them there some time in the future.
After Gretchen and I got home, she immediately drove out to Phœnicia to resume catsitting and, incidentally, her ongoing poetic retreat, an aspect she claims is going very well. It helps that there is no teevee at that house.
This evening I saw more Katydids getting into the house, where, like moths, they gathered at lightbulbs (a much less dangerous place to be for an insect in the age of the LED bulb). By this evening, they'd begun making sounds, though at this point it's not the recognizably-foreboding "cha-cha-cha-cha" call that slows down with dropping temperatures. Instead, it's an enthusiastic click followed by a few "cha" sounds that rise in pitch, as if asking a question. It's a much more optimistic sound, and at this point in the summer, why not. "You have a long summer ahead of you!" I told one Katydid as I released him or her out the front door. Later I saw another Katydid who was already missing one of his or her big back legs.
At around midnight, I heard Ramona bark and then a horrible wild animal sound as she tangled with something (it sounded like it might be a biologically-resurrected Tyrannosaurus rex). I ran past all the freaked out cats (particularly Stripey and Clarence) and out the door, where I saw Eleanor back and forth with great excitement, snorting as she did so. It didn't take me long to find what had caused the alarm: a pair of racoons were treed about twenty feet up in the White Pine nearest the dog house. But Ramona was at the north end of the house about 100 feet away. She'd treed a third racoon in a Slippery Elm. I eventually got all the dogs and most of the cats indoors and latched the pet door so it would only let creatures in, not out. Hopefully none of these racoons were the kind who would want to come into our house. At this point, the only of our creatures not accounted for was Celeste (aka "the Baby"). But she turned up later in the night, getting onto the bed and purring loudly. None of our creatures appeared to have been injured.
The attractive nuisance that had encouraged three racoons to come so close to the house was a box containing a bag of vegan dog food. It had been out in the garage and the racoons had managed to chew and rip a hole into it. After that, all they'd had to do was reach in with their little hands and get their free food. This has happened before, but for some reason we still leave our dog food in the garage without worrying about whom it might attract. Tonight, though, I brought it into the mud room.
The hole made in the dog food box by the racoons. The quarter is for scale.
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