Thursday, July 13 2006
The mosquitos are so bad in the upland forests near my house that this morning I decided to take the dogs along the Esopus just north of Wynkoop (and the Hurley Mountain Inn). I had to go out to Lowe's to buy primer paint anyway, so I figured I'd walk them there as part of that errand. For some reason there are almost no mosquitos along the Esopus right now; I suspect that all their usual larval habitat was disrupted by the flooding a few weeks ago.
The main inconvenience along the Esopus these days is Poison Ivy, which (due to its woody stems) survived the flooding. Its leaves were all shredded off, but already fresh new ones are unfurling from thousands of menacing stems along the mudflats. The antidote to Poison Ivy is Jewelweed, which always works for me completely if I apply it immediately after a known Poison Ivy exposure. Conveniently, it usually grows in the same environments favored by Poison Ivy. Unfortunately, though, since Jewelweed is a pulpy plant, all of it was torn away by the floods and none has grown back since. There are some individual plants remaining above the high water mark, but I have to go to collect it consciously.
I spent another solid day installing drywall, this time mostly on the garage ceiling. Originally I'd hoped Ray would come up from the City and (incidentally) help me with the ceiling pieces, but he flaked out and I was forced to do it all by myself.
I made a couple of tools to help with the ceiling sheets. One was a large I (with serifs)-shaped form made from an eight foot long two by four with two perforated iron pieces as serifs. I leaned this against the wall beneath the place where the new sheet would go. Then, to hold up the sheet as I fired screws in, I had another tool that consisted of a two by four rising from a single wide plank up to a "capital" piece some eight inches in width. This was my "artificial Ray" and could support a sheet securely all by itself if positioned beneath the sheet's center of gravity.
This morning I'd snail mailed a form to the woman organizing my high school class's 20 year reunion. In the form I explained where I am in my life and said that, yes, I'd be coming to the reunion. I'm not the kind of person who goes to high school reunions, but my old high school buddy Nathan had said he wanted to go, but only if I would go too, just to cut the homespun family-values conservatism of all those we'd left behind. As an indication of how parochial my high school class was, the woman organizing the reunion still lives about a mile from the high school in question. (And evidently she and the other organizers still live in a world as yet untransformed by the invention of email.)
Drywall work is conducive to obsessive contemplation, and I worked, I found myself reminiscing about high school. I had a fairly normal high school experience, I suppose, but nearly all my memories of the place are cringe-inducing. Adolescence is a bad time to be spent anywhere, but it's especially miserable in a setting as cruel as a high school. Interestingly, though, I realize that all my embarrassments from that period are based entirely on narcissism, either the kind inherent in everyone during adolescence, or the kind I retain as part of my baseline personality. How do I know this? I tried to think of something that should have embarrassed someone among my fellow classmates, but I couldn't think of even one incident. Even the most picked-upon of my classmates came up, in my memory, with a completely clean record. To the extent it was a horror at all, then, high school was my own private one. Chances are I'll get to my reunion and find that everyone there had nothing but fond memories of me. And I will have had nothing but fond memories of them, or else memories of them getting the best of me socially, incidents they may well be cringing about instead.
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