good stud luck
Saturday, July 30 2022
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
Gretchen didn't get out of bed until 10:30am, which is late for the cabin. I had my coffee and Gretchen made some sort of coffee-like drink and we collaborated in the playing of the New York Times Spelling Bee like we always do on Saturday mornings. But then Gretchen started feeling unusually sleepy. She got up to make herself some sort of bread with faux cream cheese on it as she stared out across half-closed eyelids. "I feel like I've been drugged," she said. And then she lay down on the couch and started flipping through her phone, an action I thought went on longer than it actually did, because at some point I noticed she'd frozen in mid-swipe. The phone was in her hand and her finger was on its face, but her eyes were closed. Fortunately, she was still breathing. She remained like this for something like an hour while I did things like inflate a 60 inch inner tube with an air compressor I'd bought at the Tibetan Center thrift store and did more erosion mitigation northwest of the cabin.
When Gretchen awoke, I quickly informed her what had happened, and that it appeared as though she'd accidentally taken ambien instead of one of her usual morning medications (citalopram and estradiol). She fell asleep again and awoke in the early afternoon, eventually deciding she was awake enough to go down to the lake. But she was not happy about having squandered so much beautiful sunny weather by sleeping in late and then accidentally taking ambien. Somehow we got lucky and the dogs joined us at the lake as well.
I'd recently bought the 60 inch inner tube for use as a temporary float for when the time comes to decommission the dock for the season. The hinged segment, remmember, has a floater on only one end, so when it is detached from the fixed section of dock, the non-floating end would immediately splash into the water and perhaps sink to an unhelpful depth. The hope is that I can catch that end with an inner tube and then float the segment to the shore and drag it up into the woods to spend the winter (along with the fully-floating segment but not the fixed segment). Today, though, after doing a few small chores at the dock (such as filling one of the support pilings with concrete), I used the inner tube as a relaxation float, cracking open a Russian imperial stout to drink as I did so. I found navigating in the tube to be slow but not difficult, and I was able to paddle north up the shoreline to a tree trunk that floats upright in the lake (and seems to appear as a single white pixel in the Google Maps satellite photo at 43.120694N, 74.338064W).
After I'd returned to the dock, Joel and a friend started shooting a gun at his gun range across the lake. Ramona responded by barking, and of course Gretchen and I were both upset, since there's nothing the least bit relaxing about nearby gunfire no matter how beautiful the view is or how relaxing the outdoor furniture. "Good girl!" we encouraged Ramona, and we added our own doglike barks. "Woof!" I said, asking if I sounded like a dog. "Use less 'f,' she advised.
Having been in the lake, I was wet, and the weather was a little too cool to be comfortable that way. So I walked back to the cabin. As I did so, I heard Joel shooting with a bigger gun. I wondered if Gretchen was going to say something.
When Gretchen returned, she said the gunfire had been so loud that she'd shouted across the lake to Joel, "Hey Joel!" "What?" he'd replied, since the distance was short enough to permit fully-acoustic dialog. "Do you have any ear protection for your neighbors?" Gretchen had asked. "Oh, sorry, I guess we'll hold off for awhile," Joel had said sheepishly. Hearing this, I had to respect Gretchen's moxie, but at the same time I wasn't happy about having possibly alienated yet another neighbor at Woodworth Lake. Gretchen announced that she was experiencing "buyer's remorse" (an idea that we'd used non-jokingly initially but had been increasingly using as a joke since finishing the cabin and, especially, the dock). She then went out onto the deck to check Zillow to see what she could sell our cabin for. I told Gretchen that she was overreacting and that her reaction was exhausting, especially after all the work I'd put into our cabin. Gretchen replied that checking Zillow was her way of "processing" what had just happened. She also pointed out that shooting on the edge of a lake being used by other people is positively sociopathic; it ruins the lake for everyone and disturbs the wildlife, and all for what good? I couldn't argue with her there; is shooting a gun over and over again really that much fun?
Fortunately, Joel ended up feeling bad about this incident and later (after 11:00pm) sent Gretchen an email apologizing for the shooting, saying he hadn't seen us on our dock. He also said that now that more people are using the lake (he specifically mentioned Ibrahim's new house), he'll be moving his gun range, which he apparently built himself (Gretchen had thought it was a legacy of the Boy Scout camp). This email kind of blew our minds with its evident thoughtfulness and reasonableness; the political environment, what with Donald Trump and all the Trump wannabes, has conditioned us into thinking all arguments degrade into shouting and bitterness and that there are only two options: utter defeat or what Donald Trump calls "winning." This suggested that Gretchen was definitely wise to respond to Joel's shooting in real time, since complaining about it later would leave room for the theory that our feelings about it had changed at some point.
There was only one task left in the cabin's upstairs bathroom, the installation of the shower curtain. A curtain rod we'd bought for that purpose in the downstairs bathroom (held in place by friction and pressure) keeps falling down as the wooden structure expands and contracts, so I wanted a better curtain rod. I'd bought a sixty inch length of half-inch galvanized pipe and two wall flanges with the idea of screwing the damn thing into the studs. Of course, the pipe was more than an inch too long, so I'd also bought a half inch NPT die (as in tap & die) and brought a wrench big enough to turn it. After cutting the pipe to size, I tried to cut new threads in the cut-off end, but this proved impossible until I used the angle grinder to first taper the end. Yet even with it tapered, the die got bogged down in its thread cutting and the vise I was using to secure the pipe wasn't strong enough to keep it from rotating. After much grinding and die-cutting, though, I had enough threading on the cut end to attach a flange. What surprised me next was finding wood sufficienct to hold screws in all eight holes in the two flanges. I don't think I've ever experienced stud luck that good in my life.
This evening Gretchen made tacos. She'd prepared various fillings, including a tofu one, and it totally met with my delight. That said, it's very hard to fuck up a taco, but I've definitely seen it done.
The cabin as it looked this morning. Note the fine plant matter on the "lawn." Click to enlarge.
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