sweating in the snowy parking lagoon
Sunday, January 18 2009
I worked continuously all day on party preparation, starting with cleaning the house and eventually moving on to the task of shoveling snow out of the driveway. As I did these things, I wore headphones connected to my MP3 player. A reader had suggested I try out the KunstlerCast, a series of inteviews with James Howard Kunstler, author of (among other things) an anti-suburbia classic entitled The Geography of Nowhere. There is a large back catalog of shows, so I had hours of entertaining audio, which made the occasionally-backbreaking work something close to a joy. Kunstler talks about things like the foolishness of cities issuing bonds to fund parking garages. (I hadn't really thought about it before, but parking garages have low ceilings and poor access to natural light and will be difficult to convert to other uses once car culture proves unsustainable.) I particularly appreciate the many occasions where Kunstler busts on the architecture and urban planning professions for allowing our buildings, cities, and suburbs to become such unpleasant places to live and work. An unexpected plus is that Kunstler is based in the Albany area, so many of the places he talks about are somewhat familiar to me.
Snow had fallen intermittently all day, and though it hadn't accumulated more than a couple inches, it still threatened our party. The biggest challenge at this point in the late afternoon was providing sufficient parking for our guests (an irony given that Kunstler had just convinced me that it is the provision of parking that contributes the most to the unpleasantness of our urban and suburban landscapes). After clearing the new snow off the core of the driveway, I began attacking the parts of the driveway pavement I usually don't bother to shovel. We actually have a fairly large paved "parking lagoon" adjacent to our house (indeed, I've been allowing its fringes to be reclaimed by the lawn), and shoveling most of it free of snow proved to be an arduous undertaking given the half dozen layers of snowstorm I had to remove. By the end there I was drenched in sweat, a particularly uncomfortable state when the air is in the mid-20s. When I was done, I moved both cars into the farm road to open up our entire parking lagoon for visitors.
In the end about twenty people showed up, which was good considering the weather (which had frightened off six or eight people). I had a good time at the party, which is never a given, even at parties at our house. I went out of my way to talk to nearly everyone and proved so social that for the first time ever Gretchen commented that I'd been pulling my hostly duties (as opposed to, say, sitting by myself and holding court as Crown Duke Asperger).
Food consisted mostly of small pieces of vegan pizza that Gretchen ran around delivering as plateless finger food. In this way she largely succeeded in her goal of avoiding the consumption of plastic forks and plates.
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