elite member tour
Sunday, May 25 2014
This afternoon Gretchen and I would be having a big party at our house for no particular reason other than the additional space in people's schedules opened up by Memorial Day. My job, as always, was to clean the house. I began doing that while Gretchen was off getting some last-minute grocery items and walking the dogs in the corn fields. Beyond the usual vacuuming, there were issues of grime and grossness that had to be addressed. Outside the laboratory and garage, we don't have much problem with clutter, but when it comes to spider webs, spattered discolorations on walls, or accumulated crud on switchplates, the disorder is fractal in nature. Just the process of cleaning something disgusting leads you to three other things equally disgusting. At some point you just have to give up and hope your visitors aren't observant. Mind you, to make myself feel better, sometimes I look for dirt and grime in other people's houses, but it's never anywhere near as pervasive as it seems to be in ours.
After most of that was done, I turned my attention outdoors, setting up some plastic chairs in the yard and cleaning out and refilling the plastic kiddie pool (which really doesn't serve much of a purpose given that our dogs don't use it to cool down as we'd hoped when we'd bought it last year). Yesterday I'd mowed the main part of our lawn and set up the screen tent, which was a prime hangout spot during our last party. (I'd also taken to calling the screen tent "the bounce house.") Because a number of avid gardeners had been invited, I thought now might be a good time to spruce up our main garden patch. I'd planted the cabbages and kale by simply broadcasting seeds on the tilled surface, but of course they'd come up in clumps, with many plants too close to one another and huge patches with nothing but weeds. I replanted a number of the seedlings, labeling their positions with sticks. Finally, I erected a partial fence of the kind of wire grid used for reinforcing sidewalk pours; that was mostly to keep excited dogs from running back and forth through the garden the way they like to do when they get all worked up at parties.
As I was puttering around, I came upon a snake coming out of the garage. He was about 30 inches long and resembled the snake that had a brought an end to the woodshed Phoebe nest last year. I would call it a "corn snake."
Though we'd set the time of our party for 2:00pm, people didn't start arriving until after 2:30pm (a fashionably-late record). At first it was just Carrie & Michæl with some snacks and drinks out on the east deck, but then our neighbor Andrea arrived, followed by Jeff the Reality Show Camera Guy with a friend who looked like he'd just staggered out of a Topanga Canyon tantra party (I know of which I speak). There was more pot smoking than usual at this party, and there was no limit to how much pot that Topanga Canyon dude could smoke. By now we'd also been joined by Kate from last night and her boyfriend Joe the Muffler Shop Guy. Joe had brought a huge box of assorted top-shelf beers from Beer Universe (not to be confused with Beer World; Beer Universe is in the old Friendy's across Washington Avenue from the bus station in Uptown Kingston, though ironically the store is much smaller than Beer World).
At some point we were joined by the guy whose been paying me to work on his keywording app, and it was a little uncomfortable at first because I was so stoned (and drinking a Dogfish Head Burton Baton Imperial IPA with an impressive alcohol content of 10%). But I was really in my element, holding forth the way I used to do back in college. I'm usually fairly shy, but if I socialize past a certain point a feedback loop develops. I feel charismatic, and this gets my serotonin going, people respond positively to it, and ultimately I become the perfect party host (with one exception: I don't trust myself to know anyone's name, so I never make introductions).
At some point I began giving the tours. We had quite a few people over who had never visited before, so the tour was complete and included the laboratory, the decks outside and above the laboratory, and both floors of the greenhouse. It was a first visit for Dawn the Lighting Designer, so of course I had to show her my various lamps.
Dawn had brought four people representing three generations of a vegan Puerto Rican family. The two youngest two girls aged six and thirteen years old, and the mother and grandmother could have passed for sisters. (Either it's the vegan diet or their age difference was small.) So we even had kids at our party. Strangely, though, we only had two additional dogs: Carrie & Michæl's Penny and a dog belonging to a new couple we've become friends with from down in New Paltz (he runs some sort of soft-core web erotica website).
Not long after the first tour of the greenhouse, I ran a second tour "for elite members only," and this was understood to be specifically for the smoking of the marijuana.
I remember from our last party (the only other daytime party in our post-greenhouse-upstairs life) the thrill of hearing the roar of a party in the distance and knowing that it was actually the sound from another part of the same party I was currently in. When I noticed this phenomenon again today, I couldn't help but remark on it. It's a little like being on a lake on the Fourth of July (or some similar day) and watching the various fireworks displays, but because (in this case) the occasion wasn't a widely-celebrated holiday, it was also more delightful in proportion to how personal it was.
After that, I led people on a tour of the forest. We went down the Stick Trail and then I "bushwacked" off-trail westward to the Chamomile Headwaters Trail and then led everyone home on the Farm Road. Along the way, we stopped (as I always have people do) at the place where Wintergreen grows and coerced people into eating the leaves. They're always reliably amazed by the gum-pack quality of the natural resource. Along the way, we somehow lost Eva and Sandor. Ramona and I went on a search to find them and came up empty, but they managed to find their way home by backtracking after coming to a split. That's the advantage of having a trail clearly marked with sticks (sticks, I should add, that have somehow survived for over ten years in contact with the ground).
The key to being able to drink continuously from 2:30pm until after 9:00pm (when the last people left) was to avoid the good beers and mostly drink Genesee Cream Ale.
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