Ramona's been a bad girl
Monday, April 22 2019
This morning I knew US 209 would be bypassed between Route 28 and Sawkill Road for the filming of a scene for a television show, so I preemptively took Hurley Avenue into Kingston and got onto Sawkill Road (the bypass) from that direction, which avoided (bypassed) most of the queuing for the bypass.
I had another good day at work. I've got a good rhythm going now, with the day usually beginning (at some point) with a problem I need to solve. Today, that problem had a time crunch attached to it. But then the deadline got extended to the next day, and I managed to solve the problem well before I was to leave for the day, giving me a little time to tinker with my LED matrix. Most of the problem with that matrix's code turned out to be Arduino-Leonardo-related. Once running on an Arduino Uno, it worked fine, though the characters in the bit-matrix font are all rotated 90 degrees from the way they need to be.
As I drove homeward on US 209 a little after 4:00pm, I expected to encounter the filming detour at Sawkill Road. But just as I arrived there, the last of the traffic cones for the detour were being collected. There were still detoured cars backed-up on the Sawkill exit, but cars in front of me had continued into the void of suddenly-opened highway, and I did too. Evidently filming had ended early today. I celebrated with a visit to the Tibetan Center thrift store, but all they had of any interest was an overpriced guitar amp and stereo receiver, so I left empty-handed.
Back home, the blooming daffodils at the end of the driveway now numbered well over a dozen, and some species of blue-flowered monocot has expanded its range from near the front door out into the yard. The stone walls, though, look terrible after years of frost and neglect. Some weekend I will rebuild the worst sections with fresh new stone from somewhere. This is something I always think about as I piss like a racehorse into the garden, which I do almost every time I return home.
Gretchen had some a little semi-disturbing news, which I could tell by the tone of her voice as she began telling me it. Recently the house across the street ("That 80s House") was sold to a person new to the the neighborhood. That person, whoever he or she (or they) is/are, always has/have traits in common with the former occupant(s). This is because the house itself and its lawn attract the kind of person who hires people to tend the lawn and make continual improvements. For this reason, that person (or persons) holds the title of "the Fussies." Since we've moved up here sixteen and a half years ago, that is the only house that has ever changed ownership, and the recent sale marks the third time. The only other people who have left the neighborhood had to die to do so.
That's all backstory for the story Gretchen told today. She said she'd been walking the dogs in the forest and was out in the yard trimming bushes (one of the few outdoor jobs she seems to genuinely love) when someone from the house across the street came over to talk to her. It was gentleman who looked to be in his 50s or early 60s who said he was a contractor working on the recently-sold property. He apparently had a history with that house, having worked on it for previous owners. He'd come over to say that some nights ago one of our dogs (it turned out that it was Ramona) had come over to the house at 11:00pm when he was working there late one night and started barking viciously at him to the point where he had to flee into the house for his safety. Later he compared notes with the woman who lives in the neighboring house to the north, and she too had a similar story of Ramona menacing her so much that she didn't want to get out of her car. The contractor had reported these issues to the new owner, so now we had that first impression to deal with.
In hopes of repairing the damage, when Ramona and Neville returned from the forest (as always for this time of year, they returned later than Gretchen), Gretchen took Ramona across the street (with a box of Girl Scout cookies I'd indirectly bought from the daughter of a colleague) to demonstrate that she is, for the most part, a good girl. And Ramona was on her best behavior, being friendly but not jumping. They all (including Ramona) went into That 80s House to see what it looks like these days, and apparently it's gorgeous. But it probably didn't sell for the $600,000+ asking price. Gretchen is good at talking our way out of the problems our dogs cause. Remember: over her lifetime Eleanor bit two or three different cyclists coming up Dug Hill Road, and all it set us back was a little antibiotic salve. She gave the contractor our number to call in case our dogs ever menace him in the future. And we'll be having some meeting at some point with the house's new owner, a youngish woman who is apparently into animal rights (and must also be rich).
As for why Ramona would be menacing people at other houses, it seems a bit unexpected. If any of our dogs is to act weird around people, it's generally Neville, who seems to have trouble with strangers, but only inside our house. My best theory so far is that Ramona reacted in some way to the contractor's body language and it led to a feedback loop of increasing hostility. It probably wouldn't happen with a known entity or with someone who defaults to a warm reaction to unknown dogs. I've seen bad feedback loops with our dogs before, most recently between Neville and a hapless African-American lineman working on the Farm Road. (Neville, it bears noting, is slightly racist against African Americans.)
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