cobbled together over the centuries
Thursday, June 5 2014
It rained all last night, and at some point late this morning I remembered that I'd left my jackhammer in the hole in the stone floor of the greenhouse. Fortunately, when I went down there, only about a foot of water had flooded into the hole, and all the jackhammer's electrical parts were still high and dry. But I could have easily forgotten about it, and that would have been a disaster. It's hard to lift that 70 pound tool out of the hole at the conclusion of every jackhammering session, but I'm taking a risk if I don't.
Gretchen returned from the City at around 11am and soon thereafter went to work, and it was my job to walk the dogs. I took them on my standard walk that usually passes Funky Pond, though this time we were a couple hundred feet to the north of that. I'd taken delivery of a replacement blade chain for the Greenworks 10 inch battery-powered chainsaw, and was eager to see how well it performed in comparison to the old blade that I'd recently sharpened. There was hardly any comparison. The new blade cut through wood an astounding rate, producing a blizzard of large woodchips (as opposed to sawdust) in the process. Clearly, my chain sharpening technique could stand some improvement.
This afternoon, I mowed the grass for the third time this season. It was a complete mowing, including the parts of the lawn north of the tomato patches and weedwacking the walkway, and only the second complete mowing of the year. As I mowed, the podcasts ran out on my MP3 player and it began playing from a random collection of music from my music library that I'd sorted by size, selected a chunk, and copied. It started playing a song that I'd never heard before that I loved so much that, when it was over, I hit the back button to hear it again. I must have done this at least a dozen times. (I remember feeling this way about music back in the tape deck era, when the process of backing up was so difficult that you'd never do it more than twice no matter how great the song was, sorry Pink Floyd's "Crumbling Land.") As I finished my mowing, I took the headphones off to look at the screen of the SANSA music player so I could find out what the awesome new song was. It was "Break Me" by the Lemonheads. I've been aware that there are some good Lemonheads songs out there, but until today I'd never actually figured out what any of them were. Apparently I'd downloaded "Break Me" without ever listening to it, and it took the randomizing process of sorting by filesize to eventually get it to my ears. It's not the most original song in the world; it's clearly been written after the rise of Nirvana. When the vocalist Evan Dando sings "Break me," it sounds like a more radio-friendly version of Nirvana's "Rape me." But the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics of grunge are being taken in an interesting new direction here, with the "loud" part depending as much on dissonance as on distortion. It's an uncommonly gorgeous song, made all the more so by the buttery smoothness of Dando's singing. I'd heard something on SoundOpinions about the Lemonheads' habit of squandering all the good will and positive buzz they've ever generated, and watching Youtube videos, you can see what the problem is. Dando is a pretty boy with flowing blonde locks, and his inter-song banter tends to be boneheaded, drug-addled, and insulting in a way that detracts from the music. You're left with the feeling that the Lemonheads didn't come by their fame (limited as it is) honestly.
Deborah came by shortly after I was done showering away any bits of Poison Ivy I'd been exposed to, and I carpooled with her to Uptown, where we met up with first Gretchen and then Susan and David, who had just closed on their house east of the village of Woodstock. They'd been sweating issues like homeowners' insurance and a massive wire transfer of cash (a process that is a lot less reliable than I'd assumed), but it had all worked out and the house was now theirs. They were elated, and much drinking and pretzel eating proceeded to take place.
The others were all going to a movie about seed saving in Rosendale, but I rode with Susan and David to their house so they could show me it. It a gorgeous old farmhouse that was apparently cobbled together over the centuries. Few adjacent rooms in it are on the same level, and the walls have that thick, undulating quality of ancient plaster. Susan has plans to rip out ceilings in various places to make cathedral ceilings in places where there are now unused attics. Running down the center of the basement is a massive outcrop of bluestone which provides an enviable thermal mass to moderate the house's temperatures.
There's a huge field on the south side of the house that Susan thinks might be ideal for sheep if someone wants to lend her some (anthropomorphic sheep show up a lot in her paintings).
On a walk to one of the several outbuilding, we climbed through a gorgeously-landscaped staircase through a gap in a bluestone ledge. If nothing else, the landscaping alone makes their new house one-of-a-kind. As for the outbuildings, they all appear to be in good shape and even come with basements that could make for great mancaves. Their main problem is an absence of insulation and other winterization measures.
David had to hurry back to the City to teach a course, so Susan and David drove me home via Zena, Spillway, and Dug Hill Roads. Back at the house, I smoked pot, drank beer, and hung out with the new cats. The three-legger is much more acclimated at this point than the fatty, and she comes out from behind the toilet (where they both spend most of their time) to have her head petted. Meanwhile, the fatty watches intently and even purrs, but so far nothing has been interesting enough for him to get to his feet.
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