Friday, February 14 2014
The first thing Gretchen and I did this morning was shovel out the driveway, a chore that took us about two fifty minute podcasts to perform. The new layer of snow was about eighteen inches deep, though it had drifted in places and could be more or less than that amount. It wasn't particularly heavy, though there was so much of it that shoveling proceeded slowly. Gretchen went off to take a break at around the time of the end of the first podcast, and I finished up the driveway by myself. Later she helped me dig a path down to the greenhouse, where she and Ramona spent part of the afternoon. It was a sunny day and temperatures in the greenhouse reached up into the upper 80s. It was a fairly warm day in the outdoors as well (at least by recent standards), with temperatures peaking at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Valentine's day is an important day of the year for Gretchen and me because it marks the day that Gretchen first got back into contact with me following a 12 year estrangement. Normally we celebrate the day with pizza and french fries, so we drove out to Skytop Steakhouse, where it is possible to get a cheeseless pizza and have the chef sprinkle Daiya faux cheese (which we bring) on it. But we found the place dark and closed in a way that suggested it had been seasonally shut down at the minimum (ominously, the phrase used in this article is "now-shuttered"). So instead we went to India Garden, the new Indian/Thai restaurant out on Albany Avenue. Along the way, we picked up some wine at Merchant Wine & Liquor, which appeared to be doing brisk Valentine's Day business among single white women. Tellingly, they wished them (and me) a "good evening" and not "happy Valentine's Day."
India Garden was crowded, with only one or two tables available. We also noticed that three or four of the tables seated what appeared to be real Indians (dot not feather), giving the place an authenticity we'd suspected but hadn't confirmed. The bottle of wine Gretchen had selected tasted a little like hummingbird food, but aside from that the meal was great, especially the aloo gobi (which we'd ordered "spicy"). Gretchen had ordered some sort of Thai noodle dish and was surprised at how inedibly spicy it turned out even though she hadn't made a request for it to be prepared that way. That might just be how that particular dish gets prepared; Carrie had ordered it once before and it had been presented in a similarly-spicy form, something we'd disregarded as clerical mix-up (the food I'd ordered "extra spicy" at the same time hadn't been particularly hot).
At the adjacent booth, a middle-aged guy with a bronze tan, permed grey hair, and a cougary blonde fat-faced girlfriend took a seat and proceeded to order in a loud New Jersey accent that would have sounded over-acted had it been performed that way in a movie. Neither he nor his girlfriend seemed to have any familiarity with Indian food, and throughout the meal I could hear them commenting on the surprising spiciness of the pampadam and the perplexing color of the Tandori chicken (which had been delivered to their table by mistake on a flamboyantly-sizzling skillet). My father used to have a term for describing the loud ignorant voices of people like that: "bazoo." I've also heard the people who talk that way referred to as "gumbas."
Another irritating thing that was going on in separate part of the dining room was that a couple of little boys were running around back and forth at high speed while emitting joyous shrieks. One of the boys belonged to a member of the restaurant staff while the other belonged to a pair of diners: the mother with metallic red hair and the father with a shaved head. The father was away from his table supervising this behavior. But he was also tolerating it.
Then there was that table of authentic Indians that could have been, in retrospect, feather not dot Indians, Iranians, or Hispanics. A youngish woman at that table kept bowing her head and pressing her palms together as if in prayer. At first I assumed she was in prayer, but she spent so little time not doing it that I decided she must have some sort of OCD diagnosis.
Last but not least was our waiter, an anomalously-tall young white man. Last time we'd eaten here, he'd just gotten a lip ring installed and could barely talk. Today, though, the lip ring was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps that had been one of the follies of his recent irresponsible youth. "He's probably the tallest guy working in an Indian restaurant anywhere between 6th Street [Manhattan] and Albany," I observed somewhat racistly.
Snow as it looked today after the driveway was mostly shoveled out. (Click to enlarge.)
Looking northeastward at the house today. (Click to enlarge.)
Looking southeastward today. (Click to enlarge.)
The sorry state of the woodshed today.
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