Monday, April 17 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
I had an errand to run at noon today. Neville needed his rabies booster along with his nails clipped (since he won't let us do it). Also, Gretchen wanted him to get a heartworm test. She'd arranged for this to happen at the Ulster County SPCA clinic, which a discount vet services event that we've occasionally taken advantage of in the past. It was cool day and spitting rain, but still they made me wait outside while they did Neville's procedures. Fortunately the rain was only drizzling at the time, so I checked out a series of monuments for deceased cats, looked at an outdoor area for some beautiful tabbies, checked out the outdoor part of the dog area (nearly all the dogs I could see there were pit bulls), and noted a solitary goose in a pen on the end. (He seemed pretty agressive, waddling in a threatening dragon-like manner towards a man walking a dog past his pen.) Fortunately, I seemed to be the first to arrive for the day's clinic, and Neville processed quickly. Periodically someone would come out and try to upsell me some additional procedure Gretchen had made it clear to me that she didn't want. As I was preparing to leave, the next patient for the clinic was being led up. This one appeared to be a purebred bull terrier led by an overweight man who was keeping a extremely short leash and yanking on it vertically every now and then for some imperceptible offence being committed by the poor dog. You see these kind of people with dogs all the time. They have grandiose authority complexes with respect to their dogs, and the dogs themselves often have an attitude of learned helplessness. Their God is a cruel one, and bad things just seem to happen randomly whenever that God is around, but it sure beats the boredom that happens otherwise. Since I had to walk Neville past that dog, I asked the man if he was friendly. "I don't know," the cruel man said, adding, "probably better not to find out." Can you imagine having a dog and not knowing what he thinks of other dogs? So I steered around the dog as I passed, and of course he snarled and lunged, receiving a new series of choking leash jerks and reprimands from the human he'd been cursed with.
While I was nearby, I decided to go to the Uptown Hannaford and Herzogs to get a few supplies for the cabin: Saison Dupont Belgian Farmhouse ale (sold for half of what Beer World charges!), unground fairtrade coffee, a 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch socket driver adapter, and hopefully good-quality electrical tape.
At the end of the workday, I made a big pot of chili, the first chili I'd made since before we left for Costa Rica. (I'd put off making it for awhile due to the bean-heavy diet we'd eaten there.) I made the mistake of adding a lot of chili powder and not noticing it was chipotle chili powder. Conventional chili powder is mild, but this stuff made the chili a bit too spicy for Gretchen, and she had to add a lot of rice and yoghurt to make it palatable. Otherwise it was pretty good. (Normally I don't much like the smoky chipotle thing, but it seemed to work in this case.)
While we were getting reading to eat, Gretchen got a text from our friend Anna saying that something terrible had happened. It turned out that her wife had overdosed on street heroin and Ana had broken into the bathroom (which was locked) to find her inert and purple. CPR managed to get her basic functions working, but she'd already experienced brain death. She was still on life support, but only so recipients could be found for whatever organs could be salvaged. This was devastating news, and Gretchen (as you might imagine) was very expressive of her shock, horror, and sadness. She ended up talking with Anna for over an hour. Anna, who had had days to process all this, sounded relatively calm in comparison. Gretchen later called her ex-girlfriend Barbara (who also knows Anna) and the two talked for another couple hours or more. Later when Gretchen climbed into bed with me, she started sobbing. I don't know that we've had death come quite this close (at least to someone in our generation) in a long time. (The last unexpected death of this kind was when our college friend Miranda died after a relapse of severe alcoholism several years, though we were no longer close when that happened.)
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