Friday, June 19 2020
I tried to set up my hummingbirdcam again this morning after the problems with moisture in the Raspberry Pi board that I described for yesterday evening. But now the telescope wasn't working. Since it's an entirely optical instrument, I mean that its optics weren't working. All it could do was produce a field of a single color that seemed to be the average of whatever the color was of the scenery I was pointing it at. I soon determined that this was from condensation that had formed on the inside of the objective lens. This was easily fixed by removing the objective lens and cleaning it with a tissue, but it fogged up again the moment I put it back in. Evidently some water had entered the telescope in yesterday's minor plant-watering fiasco. Fortunately, all that was needed was a few hours out in the sun and the telescope was working again. I'd never cleaned the objective lens before, so once it recovered, the optics were better than they'd ever been. (Remember, I'd gotten the telescope at the Tibetan Center thrift store, and it had probably been gathering dust in an attic for years before it ended up there.)
The shooting started up this afternoon down at the bus turnaround, and after 3:00pm (while I was in a video conference) when down there to leaflet whatever car she found. But when she got down there, Gretchen saw a demographic neither of us would've expected. There a black man with a gun wearing a Black Lives Matter teeshirt, and with him was another black man Gretchen described as "a flamer from Queens." They'd come from Poughkeepsie after researching state land where shooting might be permitted. Gretchen immediately decided to just talk to them directly instead of leafletting their car. She was perfectly nice as she explained that all the shooting was driving the neighborhood crazy. Explaining what had happened to me some minutes later, she said she was sure those particular shooters would never be back again. As for me, I was glad I hadn't megaphoned them. Both Gretchen's approach and my approach have their uses.
At some point in the early afternoon, Gretchen hollered for Powerful and me to come look. She'd seen a bear walking through the yard. Sure enough, there he was, heading down the firewood-gathering "mountain-goat path" behind the woodshed. It looked like the same bear Ramona and Neville had treed multiple times after dinner a week or so ago.
Tonight Gretchen, Powerful, and I would be going to a socially-distanced outdoor dinner at the house belonging to Gretchen's friend Lisa and her husband Bill off Maverick Road. We wouldn't be bringing the dogs, so I thought I should feed them early, take them for a walk up and down the Farm Road, and then lock them in the house to keep them from terrorizing the neighborhood. On my walk back homeward on the Farm Road, Georges (the guy who is quarantining with his wife and kids at the farmhouse at the end of the Farm Road) passed me in his Tesla. He stopped to ask how I was doing, and I said things were great. He told me he was on his way back to Manhattan to pick up the nanny; he said he'd been unable to get anything done with the little kids being bored and stircrazy in his little farmhouse.
The deer were out in force tonight on the drive both to and from Lisa & Bill's house. I was doing the driving, and I was careful to slow down whenever I saw them. Part of this was to model this behavior for Powerful, who will eventually be getting a drivers' license and driving our cars.
Lisa and Bill live in a ten year old house that Bill mostly built himself (before that, they'd been living in Eva & Sandor's old artsy-but-impractical house on Maverick Road). It sits on a patch of land that used to be quite swampy (and, in fact, there is still a patch of cattails near the front door). But now most water goes down a stone-lined drainage ditches along a massive old stone wall. This had been enough to keep the house from flooding during Hurricane Irene, and if anything survived flooding during that, it will probably never be flooded.
We sat in a side yard, mostly drinking wine and eating vegan cheese and crackers. Later there was a dinner of three different cold salads, one of which was a sort of Thai vermicelli thing. All of them needed salt, but otherwise they didn't trip any of our food dislike landmines. At some point Bill went to Cuccina to pick up their sixteen-year-old daughter Clara, who has been working there during the summer for three years. Later Clara's boyfriend Ravi showed up, and, after eating some salad, the two spent considerable time setting up a small tent in the yard, a place where they will be cohabitating over the summer. (They have permissive Woodstock parents.)
Much of the conversation centered on Powerful's experience of being a free man at the age of 41 after having been locked up since he was Clara's age. He also talked for some time about life in foster care, and how the indifference of certain foster parents led to foster children (such as himself) turning to hustling on the street. The unusal nature of the free world at this moment, and the disorientation of suddenly being in the countryside seemed like fodder, for Lisa at least, for great writing. She wondered, though, if perhaps Woodstock was too white to understand his situation. Gretchen quickly pointed out that she and Powerful have mostly been going to Kingston, which has proper "hood stores" that sell things like "hood candy." Powerful said that he knew right away that he'd found right kind of store for the hood products he'd been craving when he saw a fan out on the sidewalk blowing air in through the open door.
Powerful was amazed at how politically and socially engaged the two teenagers seemed to be. Clara even talked about having signed up on some Trumpy list as part of some effort to troll the campaign only to find herself being continually spammed with communications attempting to extract money from her so as to "Make America Great Again."
Later there was a dessert of 'smore cupcakes, which I of course did not partake in.
Just before heading back home, we all went on a stroll out to Maverick Road and back to see the fireflies.
Back at the house, we were greeted in the driveway by Neville the Dog, who had apparently busted out through the latched pet door. If pressed hard enough, the door will distort out of its normal flat shape and can get around the little latch that makes it so it can only be pushed inward. Once the door gets past that latch, it can then only open outward. This had trapped the dogs outside the house, where they were free to terrorize the neighborhood. Sure enough, there was a message on our answering machine. It was the voice of our neighbor Roseanne, the one whose male friend (or husband) I'd talked to the other day. She had a bitter, nasty voice, and she threatened again to call authorities because our dogs were "barking and doing their business" in her yard again. Gretchen quickly posed a note to put in Roseanne's mailbox, but it had a passive-aggressive twist at the end, which I thought would be counterproductive. The best attitude, I thought, was one of cheerful obtuse friendliness.
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