Wednesday, March 4 2020
Today played out a lot like yesterday in that I showed up for work bright & early, had a productive meeting (in this case with Alex and, over Google Hangouts, the Ukrainians), and then Alex sent me home. This time, though, I left work at around 11:00am. It wasn't even noon, and I was drinking a celebratory road beer.
On the way home, I went out of my way to visit the Tibetan Center thrift store, even though it's stopped being a fun destination for me. But who knew, maybe something great had shown up there. Sadly, despite everything in the store being 50% off, there was nothing there I wanted. Amusingly, I noticed that they now have a large collection of obsolete WiFi routers, which (I think) they've priced at $20 a piece. I don't think they're going to move at $10 a piece either.
Back at the house, I took the dogs for a big looping walk that included most of the length of the Farm Road and most of the north-south axis of the Stick Trail. The weather was sunny but blustery, cold and unpleasant. And, for much of it, I had a huge wet spot from spilled beer on my right thigh (I'd put an open can in my jacket pocket and it had somehow fallen over).
Early this afternoon, an elderly woman left a message on our phone in a brittle old voice saying that she was a neighbor to the Downs Street mansion and that one of our fences was now blocking her driveway and there was no way she could move it. She also mentioned that her husband had recently died. I wasn't doing anything at the time, so I grabbed a screw gun, some wire, loaded the dogs in the Subaru, and set out on a rapid-response landlording run. It ended up being the easiest landlording chore ever; two panels of the back fence had sprung loose from their posts and were leaning (but only somewhat) into the driveway in question. Anyone with a pair of shoelaces and the ability to tie them could've fixed the fence in a way that would've lasted a couple years. It took me maybe two minutes to wire the panels back to the posts. And then I walked around to the other side and fired a few screws into the fence to make everything that much more solid. Meanwhile Ramona and Neville were sniffing a neighbor dog through one of the brick mansion's backyard's other fences.
On the way home, I stopped at the Hannaford for a few provisions. I also got a large bottle of cheap Dreambird Pinot Grigio and 750mL of McClelland's Islay Single Malt Scotch from JK's Liquor Store. Given my fragile health and the ongoing coronavirus scare, I'm being even more careful than usual not to touch surfaces like door pushes with my hands.
This afternoon, a woman named Christine, the 30-something daughter of my oldest first cousin, started chatting with me on Facebook, and her relentlessness started reminding me of Sara Poiron from four or five years ago. It was hard to do anything else what with all the messages popping it up. But Christine is a good friend to cultivate, because soon she will be visiting my mother at my childhood home south of Staunton, Virginia and staying in "the guest house" (the trailer across the street). I want her to report back on the state of things there and send me lots of photographs. As we chatted, there kept being recurring themes of DeMar traits: Aspergery behavior, cheapskatedness, a tendency to hoard, and "cheekbones you can chop wood with." At some point I also mentioned "poking someone in the eye" with a DeMar cheekbone. Christine doesn't actually have pronounced cheekbones, but her mother (my cousin) Carol does. Carol looks a lot like a younger version of my mother, and apparently has all her cheapskate tendencies. Worryingly, she supposedly "looks up" to my mother as some sort of example. Amusingly, Carol had told Christine that I am "the one normal person" in the entire family. "I'm the weirdest person any of my friends know," I protested.
Later Gretchen and I had a Facebook voice chat. Initially it didn't go very well as I failed to show sufficient enthusiasm for such stories as the solid reading she had given in Santa Cruz. But, like a vacuum tube, I eventually warmed up and things got more fun. I'd also eaten a lump of 2019-vintage marijuana, and its effects were noticeably more pleasant than 2017-vintage marijuana had been, and those effects were kicking in.
Perhaps surprisingly, Gretchen was taking Joe Biden's success in the Super Tuesday primaries in stride, seemingly confident that she could be happy with a Joe Biden presidency. (For my part, I was actually a bit relieved that Bernie Sanders had done so badly; I'd thought he might be a bit too much of a one-note lefty to successfully prosecute a campaign against Donald J. Trump; in recent days my only hope for Trump's defeat had been in what the coronavirus outbreak was likely to expose about the shambles that is Trump's administration.)
Gretchen had started out in Santa Cruz, but a day or so ago she'd flown to Austin, Texas, where she'd been absorbing their much-cultivated weirdness. Given all the weirdness and whimsy, she was liking it much the way we like Portland, Oregon. This is a good time to be in Austin; March means teeshirt weather, and subsequent months force people into indoor air-conditioned spaces. Speaking of small spaces where coronavirus can spread, like her flight to California, she found her flight from California to Texas decidedly under-filled. Now might be a particularly good time to fly; people are canceling flights due to coronavirus scares, and the airlines haven't yet had time to reduce the number of flights.
A burl on a dead tree somewhere between the Farm Road and the Stick Trail.
A hunter's blind atop a knoll near 41.926300N, 74.106738W
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