Saturday, June 26 2004
Gretchen spent most of the day preparing food for our Sunday's party. My job was mostly to clean the house, although I'd also slapped together a copper sculpture of a tyrannosaur skull to mount on our house's otherwise unused flagpole holder.
Another task I've been spending far too much time on is mowing the lawn. We only keep a couple thousand square feet of it mowed, having recently abandoned a semi-wetland section near the road. But our gasoline-powered mower has been unreliable since I put what must have been the wrong kind of oil in it. Yesterday it quit working entirely, so today we borrowed a spool mower from our neighbors, the Meat Locker People. I've never really tried to use a spool mower before, but now that I have, the jury is no longer out. They're useless! Well, not entirely useless, but very nearly so. Complicating matters is the fact that about 20 percent of our "lawn" isn't grass at all but is the common introduced weed known as Broadleaf Plantain. Plantain leaves tend to lie flat on the ground in little rosettes arrangements that completely avoid the spool churning overhead. (By contrast, a gasoline lawnmower generates enough wind uplift to levitate the leaves and chop them off like the heads of so many coalition contractors.) When I was done going over the lawn with the spool mower, I ran around with a pair of scissors snipping off things that continued to stick up and attending to long-ignored places that could have been rapidly dispatched with a weed wacker. It's not too difficult to maintain a lawn with a pair of scissors if it's small enough, although I did develop a wicked blister in the dorsal center of my right index finger.
In the afternoon, after I'd spent several hours at the Eagle's Nest wiring job, Gretchen and I made some pre-party errands, mostly to buy beer and wine. We were in Keegan Ales in Uptown Kingston to pick up eight 64 ounce growlers when our dog Eleanor came running in through the door, pursued by one of the brewery's two cats, a scrappy striped grey tabby. Eleanor is amazingly skillful at jumping out of car windows when we leave her and Sally parked somewhere, but it's rare that the door of the place we're going is propped open. It's rarer still that the place has a couple cats on its staff, and rarest of all that one of the cats is as feisty as this little guy. Eleanor was terrified, but not in a way that overcame her curiosity. The interspecial war quickly went from hot to cold, and the cat sat at attention in the lounge area, allowing Eleanor to charm a couple Keegan customers so long as she didn't wander back into the brewing area (with its huge stainless steel kettles). Keegan's human employees, meanwhile, were perfectly happy with having a canine guest. When we were leaving Keegan Ales, the cat chased Eleanor out into the parking lot lest she get the idea she was somehow welcome.
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