zip ties and Saugerties
Sunday, January 29 2012
Due to Sally's increasing age and reluctance to go on walks, Gretchen has taken to driving her to nearby walking places, either on the Farm Road or Portz Road (which leads to the ruined hotel and adjacent bluestone mine). While the latter is reasonably-driveable, the Farm Road has rough patches that include ledges of protruding bedrock (some of which are incised with spectacular glacial striations). Tropical Storm Irene made it even rougher than it used to be, and at this point it really should only be attempted by a high-clearance vehicle. But Gretchen has been driving our Honda Civic Hybrid there, and evidently not paying too much attention to the many times it must have bottomed-out.
Today I was sitting in the laboratory when a glum-looking Gretchen came in and announced that "metal" had fallen off the Honda and was dragging on the road. "It still seems to work okay," she added. I went to look at the car and of course it wasn't metal that was dragging, it was some sort of plastic shield designed to cover the hoses, exhaust pipe, and other odd-shaped bits of metal that hang from the bottom of cars. This shield was probably designed to smooth out the bottom surface and make the car more ærodynamic. The shield had come loose in two pieces, having been caught by the ground and ripped partially out (one had been ripped out while going forward and the other had been ripped out while backing up). The hanging edges had been ground down to a thin membrane and had scooped up several ounces of gravel and sand. The weak plastic rivets that had secured them had popped off and been lost, so my solution was to zip-tie the shields back in place. In some cases I had to drill new holes through the plastic, but in the end I managed to get them almost back to the way they were. There's still a piece of one of the shields that has irretrievably folded over and will forever more catch the wind. But as long as the car isn't driven on rough terrain anymore, it's probably good enough the way it is. Gretchen, by the way, had misremembered a time I went down the Farm Road in the Subaru as one in which I'd used the Honda Civic Hybrid, suggesting that I'd once modeled driving it there as a good idea.
I've tried to arrange things (mostly by the timing of yearly inspections) so I don't generally have to crawl around under cars in the winter time. It was chilly today, but with temperatures in the low 40s, it could have been much worse. My fingers were stiff and uncomfortable, but they never went numb and they didn't hurt too much. Everything seemed better after I made a pot of coffee, the first I'd drunk since lunch at Ray and Nancy's house.
This evening Gretchen and I drove our freshly zip-tied-together car up to Saugerties to attend a book reading at Inquiring Mind Bookstore in the center of the village. The brother of our friend Kirsty (who doesn't live in the area) had recently written a novel, and so we were there in the role of supporting the creative people we know. Inquiring Mind also has a coffee shop, and, since for me today was also a coffee day, I ordered a large. It had an effect similar to ritalin, though (unlike a proper study drug) I can't say I paid close attention to the reading until I consciously chose to. Instead, I found that the filter in my brain was turned up to maximum, which not only kept me from saying the first stupid thing that came to my mind, but it also made me feel serene and confident when I did say things. I also felt comfortable sitting very still in my seat.
As for the parts of the novel being read, I could tell that the writer came to his novel writing from the world of poetry. Everything was presented as a long and lingering description without much indication of the passage of time or the occurrence of things in the present.
After the reading, about ten of us went to a new bar/restaurant/hotel complex called Diamond Mills near Esopus Creek. Diamond Mills was built at the site (and within some of the structure) of an old paper mill, one that (given the large concrete dam out in back) was once powered by water. It's a lavish high-ceilinged king of place, a bit out of scale for the low-ceilinged/patined-wood ambiance of most Saugerties establishments. But when you go out on the back terrace and look at the water roaring over the dam (and that might have just been a temporary thing due to recent rains), the scale feels more appropriate, a bit more like Niagara Falls.
We ended up in a swanky little cluster of seats up in raised terrace above the dining room. There, those of us who drink, drank. I had two Hennepin Belgian-style ales, and they reminded me of the mead my mother used to make from the honey she raised. They were delicious. Our conversations ranged widely and moved around like frontal weather systems, occasionally drawing in more or fewer people depending on the subject matter.
Gretchen and I separated from the others and went to dinner at Fez, a middle eastern restaurant in downtown Saugerties. I ordered a vegetable curry because it was vegan, but it ended up being a little weird. The vegetables were a bit too big and hadn't really integrated with the sauce the way I like it to, but I guess if you want a good curry you shouldn't be ordering it in a middle eastern restaurant.
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