Sunday, November 17 2002
I was just over at BlackPeopleLoveUs.com, which features a white couple named Sally and Johnny interacting with and being lavished with faint praise by "all our black friends." My favorite page on the site is Hanging Out, with pictures of Johnny and Sally socializing. The funniest of these pictures is one of Johnny "totally stumped" at the game of hangman, with a hanging stick figure all drawn save for one leg. The word underneath the nearly-complete lynching victim is R_CISM.
I set out in my pickup through the heart of Kingston this afternoon, hoping to get lost, find a glass shop, or both. I succeeded nicely at the former goal, driving through the less economically vibrant parts of Kingston until I found myself at a park down on banks of the Hudson River. There was a cold wind blowing hard across the waves, but I thought I'd take Sally for a little run anyway. We went into a nearby patch of brush (unpleasantly strewn with discarded men's undergarments) and there I collected an armload of "beach brick" - bricks rounded and smoothed by the action of the waves. I figured I could find some use for them around the house.
Meanwhile Sally was rewarding me for her freedom by rolling in something unspeakable she'd found. I knew it was going to be bad based on the gleeful look in her eye. When Sally rolls in something stinky, she undergoes a transformation not unlike the one that makes mild mannered Clark Kent into Superman. Gretchen calls the fragrant Sally that emerges from the phone booth of her rolling "Stinky McPhee." Now I had to deal not with Sally, but with her alter-ego superhero personality, Stinky McPhee.
I knew I'd have to do something to ameliorate the smell immediately - we had miles yet to travel just to get home. So I took a handful of wet leaves and rubbed Sally's back thoroughly. This may have helped a little, but still she reeked. The smell was that of some kind of decaying sea creature, not surprising given the fact that the Hudson River is tidal and still salty all this distance north of its mouth. A mile or so away I had to stop a second time and rub Sally down with an armload of wet and yellow maple leaves.
The scenery along the Hudson is beautiful, story-book-magical even. In one place the town of Kingston has tried to revitalize the waterfront and somehow managed to do so in a tasteful manner, while in another, some developer has thrown up an ugly retromodern brick apartment complex, but for the most part Kingston's waterfront looks frozen in time at an age from long ago. It's indicative of Kingston's long-term economic troubles that prime views of the river and the surrounding hills are mostly occupied by abandoned factories and scrap metal yards, all of them old enough to be lovely.
I knew I was lost when I came up out of that riverfront area and found myself back on the street I'd used to get there, but not heading in the opposite direction. Once again, I-587, the shortest interstate in America, was my ticket out of there. It seemed the only way to escape a sort of three-dimensional mobius strip. (All towns have these apparently non-Euclidean folds in space-time. In Charlottesville, the axis of its screwy geography is the set of railroad tracks passing near Cherry Avenue.)
I did manage to find the glass shop I'd been looking for yesterday. It's where I thought it was, along Ulster Avenue, in the much uglier, more economically-vibrant part of Kingston.
I'd taken Sally and that annoying neighbor dog Lila on a walk this morning in the woods, and we'd found it full of new little streams and brooks carrying the melting sleet that had fallen yesterday. The ground was so saturated with water that I decided to check the most problematic parts of the basement. Sure enough, water was turning up on parts of the wall. This almost certainly had something to do with the lay of the land on the uphill side of the house, so I went out and dug a ditch to drain some of the ponding water. Since we don't have any actual garden tools, I was forced to start the trench using a crowbar as a digging stick. When I went to town later I bought a shovel, and this allowed me finish the trench much more respectably. The jury is still out on whether or not this was effective.
Using some dumpster-dived glass and that Vitrea "glass colour" I'd bought yesterday, I've painted a little stained glass landscape. I don't think I'll be using any of that RediLead for the time being.
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