less of the non obscure stuff
Wednesday, March 5 2008
Neither Gretchen nor I were particularly pleased with Hillary Clinton's unexpectedly good showing in the Ohio and Texas Democratic primaries, and between her gloating and that of John McCain (who now has the delegates necessary to be the Republican Presidential nominee), I found myself less of a news junky than usual, choosing instead to wallow in tech news and the world of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (which I've taken to playing on a tiny black and white teevee so Gretchen can watch her less-interactive programming at the same time).
At some point today I started demolishing the tiled walls of the pedestal supporting the living room's woodstove. This pedestal raises the stove about thirteen inches above the floor and is functionally nothing more than a box made of fireproof materials. Its top surface is a thick slab of sawn bluestone about which no one is complaining, but its sides had been tiled in glossy white bathroom-style tiles of the sort removed from (and replaced with stone upon) the heat shield behind the stove. In truth, I could have lived indefinitely with those tiles. But I wanted to make the pedestal into a more useful structure, one that could store things, provide an outlet for a vent to the room beneath, and perhaps also provide for an electrical outlet. The need for a ducted connection to the room beneath is part of my ongoing plans to indirectly heat that room using the woodstove. Last winter I built an elaborate duct with a fan to blow air from high in the living room into the bathroom beside that basement room. Now I wanted to install a return duct which will allow air to circulate in a cell that includes only the basement guestroom suite and the woodstove-heated living room. I'd found that with only a duct to blow the heated air down, it had to return to the living room via the basement hallway, a journey that tended to dilute its modest temperature-raising effect.
The old tile and underlying Wonderboard came off unexpectedly easily, due to the fact that the Wonderboard had been fastened to the pedestal's two by four structure exclusively with nails.
At some point early in the demolition, when I was still using my small $5 air-powered jackhammer, Wilma was the first vertebrate since 1995 to explore the hollow insides of the pedestal. For a psycho kitty qu'est-ce que c'est, she's remarkably unperturbed by powertools.
Back in the fall Gretchen bought tickets for both of us to see Yo Yo Ma in Kingston at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC). Her thinking went something like "Yo Yo Ma? In Kingston? No shit! Really? What seats are available?" Even back then the only seats left were in the balcony.
Before Yo Yo Ma, we went to the new Indian restaurant on Broadway only a block from UPAC. Judging from the popularity of the place tonight among the aging-but-not-wearing-denim demographic, it seemed a lot of other Yo Yo Ma fans had the same idea we did. We were actually lucky to get a two-top; minutes after we'd sat down the staff were turning people away (interestingly, they hadn't yet learned to offer an estimate of how long the wait would be). We'd brought a bottle of white wine and a corkscrew, assuming the restaurant wouldn't have one. They didn't even have wine glasses, so we happily drank the wine from water glasses instead.
Our seats were in the dead center of the balcony above the UPAC stage. Yo Yo Ma was joined by two violinists and a s violist in quartet that had been billed as The Silk Road Ensemble. Their selections tonight were taken along an east-west axis stretching from Sicily through a series of small former Soviet republics to the Caspian sea. Most of the pieces had some blend of Middle Eastern or Eastern European qualities, and the one they opened with was so foreign to my ear that it sounded as if the musicians had failed to tune their instruments. My particular favorite was an gorgeous work called "Federico II" by Giovanni Sollima, tonight's Sicilian composer. Unfortunately, though, Yo Yo Ma decided to close the evening with a Schubert's String Quartet in G Major, an unremarkable work from the early 1800s. I suppose Ma felt the need to throw in something familiar for all the grey hairs in the audience who would have preferred less of the obscure stuff. Gretchen and I, however, were delighted to have been exposed to so much new stuff.
Unfortunately for me, by this point that Indian food was rousting around in my gut like a daycare center full of tantrum-throwing toucans.
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