Saturday, December 19 2015
After drinking the last of my Saturday morning coffee, I set out down the Stick Trail on a firewood gathering foray. I didn't go quite as far south as I had been going before Thursday's rain, though my gathering took me down the slope nearly to the Gullies Trail. I don't routinely salvage wood this far south down the Gullies Trail; this part just seems further away because of the steep climb to get up from the Gullies Trail when I'm carrying a load homeward. In this case, though, I could preassemble the load far up the slope near the Stick Trail and avoid that climb. Any effort I make to assemble the load at a high elevation pays off when I get it up on my back and don't have to walk it uphill. Today's salvage came to 104 pounds.
This afternoon Gretchen dragged me to a cultural event that I would never have gone to had she not insisted. It was a performance of Handel's Messiah at the Ulster Performance Arts Center (UPAC) in midtown Kingston. The only good thing about this date with culture was that we'd be meeting Susan & David there. As with me, it hadn't exactly been David's idea to go. But Susan had gotten tickets somehow, and we were going, damn it.
The crowd filing in for the performance wasn't exactly diverse. The average age looked to be late 60s, and without exception everyone was white. There were a dozen or more women dressed with unfashionable modesty suggesting membership in some sort of fundamentalist Christian sect. Later we would learn that these were members of the Bruderhof community, an avoweded communist group (they don't believe in private property) with an admirable tradition of public service. They'd helped to organize this performance and had even passed out hymnals containing the text and music of the entire Messiah so that we in the audience could sing along. Yup, this was a sing along Messiah, a fact that might have kept us from coming had it been known beforehand.
It turns out that there is a Hudson Valley Philharmonic, and, though their members appear to be part of the same Fox-News-watching cohort, they sounded fully professional (not that I would be able to hear a quality difference between their sound and that of a more world-class orchestra). The youngest people on stage were the conductor and the solo vocalists. All the performers were dressed in black save for one of vocalists, a youngish woman in a red dress who visibly yawned several times in the long period during which she had nothing to do but follow along. I understood; the music made me sleepy as well. It's beautiful stuff, and it didn't detract that people nearby were singing along to one or more of the numerous simultaneous vocal parts. Amazingly, these fourth-wall-breaking performers all sounded to be in tune.
Despite all the cultural good-intentions, Susan's back was acting up, so the four of us left UPAC during the intermission, well before the hallelujah chorus arrived and the audience would be allowed rise from their seats to participate. As an experiment, we all went to the Pupuseria (technically it's called "Mi Ranchito") across the street for an early lupper. It's a place Gretchen and I used to go all the time, but which didn't really seem to work once I'd gone vegan and given up cheese. This time, though, Gretchen had brought our own vegan cheese (Follow Your Heart "mozzarella" slices). The woman waiting on us was the same one who had waited on us the last time we'd been there over five years ago. We'd seen her grow plump many years ago, though her appearance hadn't changed since early in my vegan life. She seemed a little skeptical that pupusas could be made with the mysterious product we presented to her, but I for one judged the results to be a success. It was so great to be eating pupusas again! Less good were the plantains (which have never been good there) or the tamale, which is far too sweet. I forget what our lupper conversation consisted of, other than me recounting for David the time I drank gasoline and then, the next day, did "the monkey dance." (Susan had already heard these stories.)
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