several grades better
Friday, June 5 2009
At some point today I put a great deal of work into completing a section of stone steps at the lower part of the slope along the path that connects the greenhouse to the north side of the house. Much of the material that had gone into the greenhouse had arrived via this path, though it has always been treacherous. There are a great many loose round stones along the path's length (they are part of the fill used in the house's construction), and back in the winter when it was covered with compacted snow slipping and falling were always risks. I'm hoping to build a full staircase over the length of this slope and pave all of the flat parts of the path with bluestone as well. This stone stairway project was actually begun back in the summer of 2005, well before there was even an idea of building a greenhouse, though it never had much urgency then because in those days the ultimate destination was our downhill neighbors' pool, which we've only gone to a handful of times.
Yesterday I'd done the final placement of bluestone pieces at the bottom of the greenhouse door well. I'd set these pieces in a mixture of sand and gravel which lay ontop of a layer of Wonderboard which in turn lay on top of two inches of styrofoam. The styrofoam is to prevent the door well to for becoming a place where cold winter air can penetrate to depth adjacent to the greenhouse. I'd been in a hurry to unload the sand and gravel I'd had in buckets so I could use those buckets today when I went in town to get some supplies (half inch copper pipe, a few electrical items, bread, corn chips, cheap liquor, and basil plants). On the way home I stopped gathered five buckets of top soil from the mound of soil piled up on the east bank of the Esopus across Wynkoop from the Hurley Mountain Inn. I don't know where this soil comes from, though it apparently has several sources (which show up as a chaos of strata), some of which are contaminated with artifacts of human activity (the most durable of these being shards of glass, which I occasionally find). I suspect that much of it comes from seasonal dredging of roadside ditches throughout Hurley Township. Thus the soil isn't completely pristine, though it is probably several grades better than soil from an urban brownfield. It seems like suitable topsoil for the landscaping around my greenhouse, as that landscaping itself is hardly pristine. It contains, for example, a certain amount of sawdust from the sawing of treated lumber. I consider such sawdust to be pollution because it poisons wildlife, though I do not consider paper, ground up plastic, or scraps of concrete to be pollution. Indeed, I'm looking forward to seeing a colony of snails with actual shells slithering around the greenhouse some day. (The local rock is so poor in calcium carbonate that there are no snails, as their shells would be difficult to grow. There are, however, a great many slugs. Hopefully the many scraps of concrete in the environment around the greenhouse will be enough to support a population of real snails.)
When I came home from my errands today, our friends Ray and Nancy had arrived from Brooklyn. Gretchen put together a dinner of French onion pie and garlic bread, and of course there was also much drinking of beer and wine, since that's how Ray and Nancy roll. Later we watched part of the movie Tropic Thunder on a thoroughly pirated DVD. We got a littler beyond that hilarious meta-meta scene where the actor Ben Stiller was holding a fake head that was, in the movie reality, a real head that the character Ben Stiller was playing thought was a fake movie prop head.
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