Ramona's anvil-like head
Sunday, November 3 2013
Down in the greenhouse this morning as I was doing my best to maneuver an enormous elephant ear of bluestone out of the deepening western half of the floor, I saw a small black salamander with white speckles trying to get out of the way of the many things that could have crushed him. I was curious how he'd managed to get into the greenhouse; I suppose he could have hiked in through the four inch PVC drainage pipes that ring the outside of the foundation and penetrate to the inside near the southeast corner (to carry away any water bubbling in through the cracks in the rock). Or instead he might have found his way through the cracks in rock, following the same channels that carry water. Though they're small and lack obvious connections to the surface, the existing cracks through the solid bedrock allow for all kinds of possibilities. Surely some fraction of the salamanders end up in caves and gradually adopt a lifestyle where vision does little good. As for this particular salamander, I relocated him to the east end of the greenhouse' drainage pipe where he could clamber in amongst the rocks that fill that ditch around the four inch drain pipe. Perhaps because of our shared tetrapod ancestry, I was more considerate of that salamander than I'd been yesterday of all the big spiders building cobwebs in the basement. I'd vacuumed them all up, a procedure that is not, I dare say, good for their long-term prospects. Even if they survive that, I end up dumping the vacuum cleaner dirt in the garden, a habitat unsuited for the sorts of spindly spiders that spin webs in dark basements.
It was a cold day, with temperatures never rising out of the 40s. Partly because we'd be having a houseguest, I kept the woodstove cranking all day. Our houseguest, Susan the Artist, arrived in the mid-afternoon. She'd brought a recently-adopted puppy named Darla who looked like a young 30-pound version of Ramona (complete with a stripe down the middle of her snout). She was very sweet and full of enthusiastic love for everyone, though she also had a nasty habit of pissing and pooping wherever had the feeling that she needed to go.
Originally Susan had intended to arrive around brunchtime, so she'd brought bagels and vegan cream cheese from a great (and, to me, unknown) bagel shop on the Upper West Side. Gretchen had invited others to come over for brunch, so eventually we had Deborah and her newish boyfriend Chris (along with Allou the Dog), and later Michæl and Carrie with their dog Penny. In addition to everything else, it was a genuine dog party.
I had to keep working on my Lightroom plugin, so I didn't go on any of the dog walks, though I did give Chris a brief tour of the greenhouse. Not having seen how the greenhouse floor had looked only a few weeks ago, he wasn't suitably impressed by the results of all my recent excavation.
Susan would be spending the night (eventually sleeping on the couch in the living room in front of a roaring fire), and after everyone else left, Gretchen doctored up a frozen vegan pizza with mushrooms, fake cheese, and tempeh crumbles. It was more delicious than such pizzas usually end up being.
There was a lot of human loving on dogs. Most of this centered on Darla, who was the darling of the evening. But at some point Gretchen wrestled Ramona onto her lap, and in the process Ramona slammed into Gretchen's face with her anvil-like head. After being stunned for a moment, Gretchen looked up at us, revealing an acorn-sized contusion under her right eye. We all freaked out and Susan even wondered if perhaps Gretchen should seek medical care (Susan is much more anxious than we are). Instead, though, I fetched Gretchen an ice pack from the freezer and some Waldryl (in hopes that it would have an anti-inflammatory effect).
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