Monday, September 13 2004
I'd been trying to avoid putting gutters on the house's west side, hoping instead to catch the water on the ground and direct it away. But seeing how my ground flood diversion was actually working during an actual cloudburst woke me up to the need for gutters. I'm also being forced by circumstances to install gutters; the trench is still open and I'm waiting for the concrete to dry sufficiently for me to apply a couple coats of asphalt. But if it rains before then (and it will), water will come pouring off the roof and into the trench, making a perfect mess of everything. So today I installed two gutters, one on either side of the house's western gabled end. Each segment was only a little over ten feet long, but together they'll handle about 40 percent of the house's total roof runoff. The weather was warmer today and the mosquitos were merciless. It's very hard to do careful work when you're being attacked by those little ærial drilling platforms.
This evening Gretchen and I took advantage of a coupon she'd won in either a raffle or a silent auction that had benefitted either cats or farm animals. It gave us a dinner for two at a restaurant called The Heritage, which is attached to a golf course on the banks of Rondout Creek near High Falls. The location is a remote one for a restaurant, and it came as no surprise that its parking lot only had a couple cars in it. Before we'd set out, Gretchen had gotten all dressed up in high heels and a black miniskirt. She'd also compiled (and printed) a checklist of all the characteristics she expected the Heritage to have.
- Tackily-patterend wall-to-wall carpet
- Water glasses shaped like this: [picture of a curvy glass that gets small towards the bottom but never becomes a stem, and then widens to form a base]
- Too cold
- Sad rolls and butter
- Salads laden with iceberg
- Elderly diners
- Staff young and pasty
- Menu oversized, stiff, and old
- One vegetarian option: pasta, overoiled/creamed
- Under the tablecloth, table is hideous
But already in the parking lot, with a clear view of the neon Bud Lite sign, Gretchen realized that this place was a bit more down-market than she'd been expecting. She was even somewhat embarrassed about having overdressed, but then I pointed out something we'd learned from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, that one can never overdress. One could always be going to something swankier later.It became more clear what sort of place this was in the dining room. Looking around, we gradually became accustomed to the smell of the place (a combination fragrance with equal parts mashed potatoes and old carpet). It sort of resembled a meeting hall for, say, a local Rotary Club, complete with drab brown wall to wall industrial carpeting and dingy wall paneling. There was a full bar featuring two television screens playing identical programming loudly. (The picture on one was much greener than the picture on the other.) The principle decorative element throughout was the American flag, a huge example of which served as something of a visual screen concealing what looked like either video game consoles or storage behind it. There were many others, including one had that had been drawn by a child with crayons, and a patterned flag-themed wallpaper strip running along the wall just beneath the ceiling. There was also a poster with a depiction of a flag waving against the clouds and the words "God Bless America, September 11th, 2001." Were we to believe that God had actually blessed us on that day? We hadn't really thought about it, but "heritage" has become a code word meaning mindless rightwingerism. "This must be the kind of place that Bush voters go to when they eat out," I mused. That probably accounted for why it was so empty, since most Bush voters actually prefer chain restaurants out on the motor mile, even when they don't fly quite so many American flags.
Aside from the Hurley Mountain Inn, most of the restaurants where we eat are owned and operated by urbane liberals, the sort who understand that a meal can be so much more than a bland combination of meat and potatoes. This meal, we knew, was going to be something of a culinary throwback. We chalked it up to sociological experience and prepared to be entertained. Hell, we'd been prepared for a less-than-ideal experience from the get-go, thus the checklist. At least the view of the golf course was pleasant enough, as were the many flower pots out on the veranda.
The food, however, was dismal. The fish I ordered was completely charred on one side but otherwise flavorless. The french fries were probably the best part of the meal, though (as I told Gretchen later) to the extent they had flavor, it would have been better that they not. Gretchen ordered some sort of pasta with vodka sauce, it came out as this swampy souplike confection containing nearly as much cream as South African cuisine. There were a number of distinctly German dishes on the menu, as if the place was trying to be a half-hearted German restaurant. We ordered one such dish as a side, but it was only somewhat edible. I'd tried to play along with the American-flag draped Germanness of the place by ordering a from the tap, but it seems I was brought a Budweiser instead.
As for the checklist:
- The wall-to-wall carpet was patternless.
- The waitress didn't bring any water to our table at all.
- The temperature of the dining room was nearly perfct.
- There were sad rolls and foil-wrapped packets of butter.
- The salad was indeed rich in iceberg.
- The one other table of diners did feature a couple of elderly people, although it was a multi-generational contingent that also included kids.
- The staff (our waitress) was pasty but not young, and whenever Gretchen asked for something she had a tendency to act like she'd never heard such a request before in her entire life.
- The menu was stiff and old and very greasy, but not oversized.
- There were actually three vegetarian options, but they were all pasta and all either overoiled or over creamed.
- Under the tablecloths, the tables were actually rather nice.
- We redeemed the evening by having a drink at the bar in the Egg's Nest in High Falls. Gretchen had eagerly anticipated playing Centipede on the Egg's Nest vintage videogame, but she was horrified to find it had been replaced by one of those depressing quasi-casino games where nothing can be won.
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