six fancy reciprocating notches
Friday, April 20 2007
It was yet another fabulously-perfect day at the very beginning of the most glorious part of spring, so I took the dogs on an unusual walk far down the escarpment from the ledges upon which the trail system runs. I soon lost Sally and didn't see her again until near the end of the walk, but Eleanor came with me as I walked through a swath of state land I'd never set foot on before. This was southwest of the school bus turnaround on Dug Hill Road, with that road close enough to be seen through the trees. I passed through an area full of ancient stone walls, one of which followed along a seasonal stream that had broken through it one place so it could continue on its other side. Though the forest was now old-growth White Pine and Hemlock, here and there were occasional enormous Sugar Maples and White Oaks with the spreading shape of trees that had grown up in a field. Evidently someone had cleared this land and made it pasture, but it had reverted back to forest over a hundred years ago.
On top of a low knoll at the base of one of these spreading Sugar Maples was an ancient foundation for a building with a floor plan no larger than 100 square feet. This building was on state land, which implied that it had not been serving any legal purpose for nearly 100 years. But someone had been maintaining a shingled roof over it until relatively recently. The roof was now collapsed, but the shingles were readily identifiable and completely modern in style. Most recently the naked foundation had served as a hunter's nest. Its main feature was a collapsible camouflage chair, which was the only thing of value for me to loot (believe me, I looked for other things, even in the tiny spaces between the stones of the foundation wall). The chair had a carrying strap that I could loop over my shoulder, making it nearly effortless to carry. Getting back up to the trail system from these lowlands was a major climb up a 27 degree incline (I later measured it from photos using a protractor).
I spent most of the day working on a new shelving unit for the laboratory, one that will fit under the sloping ceiling to the left of the window at the north end. The plan was for me to use another of my paintings as a hinged door over a rectangular subset of the shelves, but I mislocated the set I'd intended to cover and had to superimpose another rectangle onto the shelving I'd already made, requiring six fancy reciprocating notches. (Split the four fingers of each hand into two halves and then slide the cleft between the fingers of one hand into the cleft between the fingers of the other, all the way to the hilt. I was doing that with the shelving planks.) As I worked, I was listening to Sarah Vowell read her book Assassination Vacation (which I now have as a mess of MP3s). This was the same book Gretchen and I had attempted to listen to on the road trip down to Maryland back in early March. Today as I worked and listened, I gradually came to a realization: Sarah Vowell just isn't that interesting. I'd been deceived by Ira Glass's This American Life into believing that she is some sort of genius. But she's actually a bit of a bore, particularly when she's reaching for a metaphor. The fact that I'd been so impressed with her is testament to Ira's skills as an editor and curator.
Marie (aka "the Baby") enjoying the sun out on the bluestone walkway today.
Eleanor in the forest.
The foundation I found in the woods today.
The grey in my hair is becoming more obvious every day.
This evening Gretchen came in from a exhausting day at work and wanted nothing more than to kick back at a restaurant with a glass of wine. But there was a Shakespeare play (Love's Labour's Lost) being performed at SUNY Ulster that she had committed herself to seeing. (She expected to see some of her students there.) I saw her weariness and her need for a dinner date and agreed to go with her, so long as we'd be getting dinner and a glass of wine before the play. In a marriage occasionally you have to do things that the partner has committed to doing, even when doing such things is, for you, completely optional.
We ended up having a great dinner at Northern Spy in High Falls (I've never had anything but great experiences there). The only food we ordered was two different kinds of "tofu hot wings," drawing slightly on a ten-order hot wings gift certificate we'd won at an animal rescue benefit we'd attended months ago.
As for the play, the community college actors proved surprisingly good. But I didn't know the play and, for acoustical reasons, I had trouble making out the dialogue. So Gretchen and I split before it was even half done. It didn't matter for her; the students she'd thought were coming had flaked out on it completely, as community college students are want to do.
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