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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").



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   organ retrieval
Tuesday, June 21 2022
I'd spent the night in the greenhouse last night because it's just easier sleeping there, and I often enjoy the privacy of sleeping alone. It also gives Gretchen the freedom do do whatever she wants in bed at any hour. If she wants to wake up at 2:00am and do an hour and a half of Duolingo (which produces a lot of annoying sounds), that's totally fine.
Oscar the Cat started bothering me at around 5:00am, which is too early, and I shooed him away with enough vehemence that he decamped to the greenhouse upstairs' entrance deck. Nevertheless, I was up before 6:00am and, as has been the pattern of late, I did a lot of workplace-related work before 9:00am. Today most of that was adding logging statements to a long and rambling stored procedure.
I had an appointment for a dental cleaning today, and in preparation for that I'd been using the Waterpik every day for the past week or so in hopes of not getting yelled at by my dental hygienist. As I drove to West Hurley for my appointment, I listened to a feed of live Congressional hearings concerning the riots of January 6th, 2022. An Arizona election official named Rusty Bowers was testifying, and it was amazing and damning. When Giuliani and Trump called him on the phone to get him to single-handedly flip Arizona from Biden to Trump, they talked about all the dead people and illegal aliens who had voted. Bowers then asked for proof. "Give the man what he wants," Trump said. Giuliani said the proof would be coming. But of course he never provided any, because there never was any. Their talk about dead people and illegal aliens was just the magic spell they thought could work.

At 1:37pm I arrived at the dental office for my 1:45pm appointment, and waited only about a minute before my cleaning began. Unfortunately, I had the hard-nosed dental hygienist, the one who tends to yell at me that my gums have begun to attach themselves to my calculus, not the one who subtly flirts with me by telling me how great my teeth are. She asked if I wanted some numbing gel, which I normally decline. But today I said sure, give me the numbing gel. I also told her about the missing crown on my top right wisdom tooth and the fact that my punk rock tooth was now looser than ever and to be careful around it. Being hard-nosed and no-nonsense, the scratched away for awhile at the roots of my teeth; evidently there was considerable mineral build-up that had to go. At the end, as usual, she told me I had to floss or Waterpik every day because; now, she said, she was seeing evidence of bone loss. But maybe that's just what she tells people like me to scare us into actually flossing.
After that, I talked to the dentist about my problem teeth. The missing crown was no big deal (though he wouldn't be able to get to it until August), but as regards my ever-loosening punk rock tooth (which was originally injured by an impact with a beer bottle in an incident in a mosh pit in Blacksburg, Virginia, in the fall of 1994), he needed more information. He said if I didn't have it scanned, we'd never know. When I told him that we should scan it, he had me go into an adjacent room where there was a machine one stands in very still as an x-ray imaging system swoops around one's head. While waiting for the dentist to return to look at the resulting images (one of which looked like photograph of my skull minus all the flesh wrapped around it), I had presence of mind to snap a picture with my phone.


A photo of my 3D tooth scan. Click to enlarge.

When the dentist looked at the results, he was alarmed to see how much bone loss there was at the root of my punk rock tooth. He measured on the screen to see how much bone was available between the bone-loss void and my nasal cavity for attaching an implant, and it only came to 8.5mm. Apparently that's just not enough. Possible solutions include various forms of bone graft, some of which involve surgery to the root. But it was outside the dentist's expertise, so he told me he'd consult with a dental surgeon he works with.

Very much unlike Gretchen, I don't usually like to schedule multiple events in my life on a single day, especially when they depend on the actions and whims of other people and might go long and affect subsequent scheduled events. But for whatever reason I'd also arranged today to have Sandor (who has a pickup truck) help me get that organ Gretchen had bought an estate sale a couple weeks ago. A monkeywrench in this plan was that Sandor's father had died over the weekend. But it wasn't unexpected, so it didn't end up interfering with the pre-arranged schedule. As I sat in the room with the picture of my lower skull on the monitor, I messaged Sandor (using Facebook messages, the only way we communicate electronically) to say things were wrapping up and should I just come over to his house (not very far from the dental office)? He answered that he was ready to roll.
I met Sandor out in front of his house. His partner Eva was somewhere else, perhaps dealing with her mother and brother, who live nearby after nearly being killed by covid (they are anti-vaxxers I think).
As I directed Sandor where to drive us (through Stone Ridge and then southwest on Schoonmaker to Pine Bush and Buck), we discussed various things, in our lives that had happened since we'd last seen each other, that is, before the pandemic. Things had been largely the same with him, though he'd a bunch of solar panels installed on his house, he'd upgraded his main computer, and all the covid-related family stuff had happened. There are now two dogs living with him, Eva, and the cats, and one of the dogs was recently diagnosed with heartworm. As for me, well, Gretchen and I had had covid a month and a half ago, but it hadn't been too bad. And before that, the office I'd reported to had closed down and I'd been reshuffled in the corporate workchart to work at a company located near Boston. I said the job has improved with the change, that things had been somewhat dysfunctional reporting to Alex, who had been a friend before he'd become my boss.
At the house where I'd been told the organ would be, we were met in the driveway by Gretchen's friend Nina, the person who has been running an estate sale that still seems to be ongoing. The house was a ranch house, which was good, because Sandor had been telling me that, owing to something wrong with his knees, things would be fine so long as there were no stairs. Nina showed us the organ, which looked exactly like the one at the cabin on Twenty Ninth Pond, though it seemed to be in better shape, with more working stops and no stuck keys. It was a little taller than an upright piano but had a generally similar volume. Sandor suggested we give it a test lift, and when we did so, it surprised us by how little it weighed. At the time it seemed to weight about 150 pounds [though subsequent measurements put it closer to 200 pounds]. Nina had Sandor drive his truck across the lawn, and it was a simple matter to carry the organ over and load it in (with all three of us carrying it). We then strapped it down as a few drops of rain started to fall.
I had Sandor drive us back to my place via Hurley Mountain Road, the southern part of which I hadn't been on in a long time. Sandor had never been that way in his life, and I promised him it would be beautiful. The beauty starts at the terminal moraine that forms a hill just south of Tongore Road, where a huge field lies beside a rustic antique barn being swallowed by the forest. Then north of that, Hurley Mountain road runs along the base of Hurley Mountain, some of which consists of vine-covered cliffs. to the east of Hurley Mountain Road is the floor of the lower Esopus Valley, some of which consists of enormous fields and others of which is lush lowland forest rich in walnut, tulip tree, sycamore, cottonwood, and perhaps a few lingering white ashes.

At my place, Neville came out barking like he does, but when he saw it was Sandor, he started wagging his tail, happy to see someone he might not have seen in two and a half years. I found Gretchen inside furiously cleaning the spot where the organ would go, which was where our piano had been. The piano has wheels, and she'd had no trouble shoving it out of the way. (It's long been out of tune, though not badly, and has a key that doesn't work.) Sandor and I carried in the organ and set it in place, and it fit perfectly in the piano's old spot. I pedalled it briefly and played a few ominous chord changes. It was everything I wanted it to be.


The organ in its new spot in our living room. Technically it's a harmonium. (The mechanism it uses is similar to that of an accordion.) Also note Neville and one of Gretchen's feet. Click to enlarge.

After Gretchen and Sandor caught up (they hadn't seen each other in awhile), I rode with Sandor back to his house to pick up the Chevy Bolt. Along the way (and not far from my house), we saw a red-tailed hawk on the side of the road trying to carry away a dead squirrel. It was one I'd seen earlier that had been flattened by a car, so in this case the hawk was actually behaving as an opportunistic scavenger.
At his house, Sandor showed me his huge solar array (which can generate 8 kilowatts) and all the plans he has with some bluestone that was salvaged as part of a large landscaping renovation.

Back in Hurley, Powerful was on living room couch, evidently suffering from some sort of medical setback that had actually begun about a week ago. He eventually took his temperature and found it was over 101 degrees Fahrenheit. This would make him ask Gretchen what to do, and she would remind him of his transplant team's hotline. They would suggest that he immediately get himself down to Westchester. He would then ask Gretchen if she "wanted" to drive him there. She would say "Uuuuummmm..." and then admit that she didn't, but that he could probably arrange some other way there. In the end, Powerful was able to drive himself to the Kingston hospital, where he would then get a ride to Westchester. All this has Gretchen concerned that Powerful is just going to keep suffering from a cycle of medical problems and that we'll never get our old life back. It's a reasonable concern, especially for her, as Powerful has been a much bigger burden for her than he has been for me. In my laboratory, I can mostly pretend he's not here at all. But in the place where Gretchen does her office work, Powerful can frequently be seen shuffling by to or from his car or the kitchen. Or he's nearby only one floor down, making noisy use of the toilet.
Meanwhile Gretchen had decided to return the $60 CBD oil I'd bought for the dogs a week or so ago. It turned out that I'd bought it from the wrong place. The place she'd wanted me to go was Your CBD Store, but the place I'd actually gone was a nearby headshop called Smoker's Choice. Also, Gretchen had found a place online where she could buy the same product for $30, which suggested Smoker's Choice is a bunch of "shysters" as she put it (that's a Yiddish term that my father also used, it being a German word that loosely translates to "flim flam artist"). I was sure there would be no way we could return the CBD oil, but I agreed to go, partly because we'd be getting dinner afterwards, and I hadn't eaten in a restaurant in months.
When we were walking into Smoker's Choice Gretchen pointed out a few signs that furthered her bad impression of the place. One was a sign saying it was "American owned and operated," implying that shoppers wouldn't have to interact with minorities. The other was a sign ending with an exclamation mark telling us that we didn't need to wear a mask inside (though we haven't really been wearing masks since we recovered from covid in mid-May). Smoker's Choice is as ugly on the inside as it is on the outside, full of gawdy bongs and a rack of cigarettes. All the people working there are white, and when we told the skinny young man that we'd bought the wrong product and could we return it, we were told (unsurprisingly) that the store has a no-return policy. Check, that part of the evening was done.
Gretchen and I ended up dining at La Florentina, the place where we eat sformato, aka "purple pie." Evidently La Florentina is under new management, because it's had a light renovation and they're still waiting on their liquor license. We were the first diners there this evening, and as we sat there waiting for our food, we could smell cigarette smoke drifting into the dining room from somewhere in the back. At this point it's a purely nostalgic smell, since I now smell it so infrequently. As other diners arrived, the poor waiter kept answering the same question: no, there wasn't any wine. And there wasn't any beer either.
La Florentina's menu is still the same, thought the food was subtly different, as if it had gone through a light game of telephone. Clearly the new owners had received recipes with the restaurant, but things were slightly different. The dressing on the salad was still good, but the lettuce seemed vaguely wilty. And the chunks of vegetables in my minestrone soup were bigger than I'd remembered them being. The Sformato was nearly as good as it used to be, but it was a bit understuffed with red cabbage. Still, things are still good enough that we'll definitely be going back.


For linking purposes this article's URL is:
http://asecular.com/blog.php?220621

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