Saturday, April 26 2014
Our friend Sarah the Vegan recently moved to a different rental house, and, because she's all thumbs when it comes to the material world, she asked for me to come over and help her hang some pictures and assemble some shelving. Gretchen wanted to see Sarah's new place, so we went over there together. It's over near the Hudson River not far from the Hudson Valley Mall, so on the way Gretchen and I made a 9W adventure for ourselves. We stopped at the Chipotle, where we knew it was possible to get a delicious vegan burrito, though for some reason Gretchen got tacos instead. We both got sofritas as our protein, which had proved to be a winner when Gretchen got me a Chipotle burrito in the Philadelphia airport. And again, the sofritas burrito didn't disappoint. I'd never been in a Chipotle before and was amazed by how quickly their staff managed to assemble my burrito. The atmosphere in the restaurant was crowded, youthful, and not especially pleasant, but it was good enough for lunchtime.
The Chipotle is only a few years old and is in a newish (though atmospherically dismal) shopping area that I've never had any reason to transact commerce in. But right next door was another new store called Beer World, a massive beer store with thousands of different beers in stock (as well as a whole wall of taps for the filling of growlers to go). While I went to browse the coolers, Gretchen (who, unlike me, loves to engage store personnel) asked somebody if the store stocked Sculpin IPA, which had been my big IPA discovery on our last trip to Los Angeles. Indeed they did (though, at ~$15/sixpack, it was expensive). The guy at the taps was so friendly and so generous with samples that we wound up also getting a big 64 oz. growler of Rushing Duck War Elephant, a premium small-batch Imperial IPA (it cost $25). There were a great many other good beers (and even a mead) on tap, and then there were all the options in the back. With a store like that in Kingston, I'd be crazy to ever again drink a beer that isn't precisely what I want at the moment. (Perhaps I can find a good cheap beer for casual beer drinking in there too; I'm thinking it will either be Genesee Cream Ale or something similar; I've decided that Stewart's Mountain Brew Ice is too sweet.)
Sarah the Vegan's new place is a small house situated on a large riverside estate (one with with a larger house suitable for the sort of landed gentry who like to live on the water). It's at the end of a long driveway and comes with its own marshy pond and screened-in gazebo. The house itself is simple and somewhat dreary on the outside, but inside it's spacious and cheery and seems to have been finished by someone with a competent contemporary sense of design. At only $900/month, I don't know why Sarah wouldn't want to spend the rest of her life there. We walked the grounds, taking a trail through the woods along the final bluff above the Hudson. Below was a tennis court whose surface had been flooded and completely ruined during the storm surge of either Hurricane Irene or Sandy.
The shelving unit was the same kind of beautiful stainless-steel snap-together kind that I have in the laboratory (Deborah gave it to me as part of one of her many downsizings). After it was up (and while Sarah slowly ate the Chipotle burrito we'd brought her), I hung two paintings and a mirror, using a tape measure and some simple arithmetic to get things precisely where they needed to be.
This evening Gretchen (who had been working at the bookstore) and I rendezvoused at a dinner party over at our friends Eva & Sαndor's place in West Hurley on Maverick Road. I'd never been to her house before, though I'd heard her complain about its many maintenance issues. It's a cute one-of-a kind house built from available materials by one of the many artists who used to live along Maverick (it's very close to Muse Road, where we looked at a similar house the day before seeing the house we eventually bought). It was actually in better repair than I expected from her description, though I immediately noticed that it consisted of a steep-roofed core (the original house) surrounded by a ring of flat-roofed additions. There's always trouble to be had in the place where a steep roof dumps onto a shallow one (my childhood home in Virginia had this problem, where it was also a consequence of low-sloped shed additions). Inside, the central part had a grand cathedral ceiling framed with an odd network of rough tree trunks embedded in plaster. Surrounding this core, the additions had ceilings so low that I had to duck in places. It wasn't quite a hobbit house, but it was close. The house is full of odd hatches and doorways to give access to things like the well (which is beneath the floor of one of the bedrooms).
Sαndor was also there, but he seemed really tired. Gretchen had said something about how I liked IPAs, so Eva and Sαndor had bought a sixer of Lucky U IPA, which I'd never heard of. I took one sip of it and realized it was perhaps the worst IPA I'd ever had, but I wound up drinking two of them and then moved on to some sort of stout, which was much better.
After Dawn (who we know through past connections with the animal sanctuary in Willow) showed up, there were five people at the dinner party, though there wasn't actually all that much food. The nut loaf was about the size of a half-height load of bread, and there was a salad about the size of one Gretchen might make for just herself. There were also some spears of asparagus, but I did the math on how many I should take based on how many people were behind me and realized I could only take two. I'd been snacking heavily before I came, so I wasn't actually all that hungry, but if I'd come with my usual appetite, I would have been in trouble. Note to self: next dinner party here, be sure to bring a tub of vegan mac & cheese. Oh wait, no, Eva is also gluten-free. Despite all that, it was a fun dinner party. Conversation was good and wide-ranging. I talked at some length about bmy crazy brother Don with Dawn. She seemed quick to pin the blame for his condition on toxins in the environment, but I said I was pretty sure it was entirely genetic, and then went on to describe the Aspergery details of my family tree. Somehow I got to talking about the creature building a nest in my brownhouse's piss gutter, the complexities of the greenhouse, and my various copper lamps. Dawn is a professional lighting designer who recently retrofitted gas into a majestic chandelier designed for electricity. Perversely, Dawn's mother finds her house depressingly dark.
We hadn't brought our dogs out of concern for the four cats in the house. Two of them were friendly and social, though two others (large kittens) were a bit more skittish and didn't come out until after we'd been there for a couple hours.
By the time we got home, it was midnight.
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