Friday, November 14 2014
There was as much as a half inch of snow on the grass this morning, the first snow Celeste the kitten had ever seen. She went out multiple times and didn't seem too interested in it. The cold, which (being below freezing) was also the most intense she'd ever experienced, but it didn't seem to bother her much. Meanwhile the big fluffy cat Oscar (who has yet to master the pet door) went out briefly and then wanted to come back in.
We'd be showing the Wall Street house to renters tomorrow, so I went over there this afternoon to do some final cleaning up and also to do such little things as nailing the bottom of the stairs carpet down (we'd peeled it up to see what was under it and then decided to leave it carpeted) and plugging the 1.25 inch hole in the floor where a radiator pipe used to run. To plug that hole, I'd initially thought I'd be fashioning some sort of wooden plug, but it proved easier to make a plug out of a disk of copper cut with a hole saw on the drill press. To that, I soldered a short length of one inch copper pipe that would center the disk over the hole.
For most of the time I was at the house, I was on my hands and knees with a sponge, cleaning nearly every square foot of the first floor (including inside the fireplace and out on the back porch). I also attacked a vexxing stain in the carpet of the larger of the two upstairs bedrooms. It's subtle and pinkish, and I'd thought I'd vanquished it, but it's come back. So this time I responded to ancient marketing embedded in my brain and used ShoutTM (which I found in the basement) to hopefully Shout it out. (Ramona felt the need to urinate on that same spot back in early October, and I don't know if that made it worse or better.)
When I returned home to Hurley Mountain, I found Gretchen providing writerly mentorship to Natalie, that gifted teenage girl from Onteora High School. There had been a miscommunication and Gretchen hadn't been expecting her; indeed, the house was a mess and Gretchen was still in her ratty fleece sweatpants and sweater. Once Natalie had been picked up by her mother, Gretchen could focus on what she would have otherwise focused on earlier: preparing a dish for a dinner party we'd be hosting tonight. And I could go on a small cleaning jihad in the living and teevee rooms.
Our guests arrived at about 7:00pm. They were Carrie & Michæl and Susan & David, and they'd all brought drinks and dishes they'd prepared. Gretchen had made a lentil, mushroom, and brussel sprout stew, Susan had made that pasta salad she always makes, and Michæl had baked an interesting quinoa "skillet cake." My expectations for anything made of quinoa is always low, but it was probably the best dish of the evening. (I'm not a big fan of either lentils or brussels sprouts.)
Carrie recently spent two weeks with her sister in China picking up an adopted baby daughter for that sister, and she's returned with an aunting instinct almost as powerful as that of a parent. After showing us the pictures and telling us the stories, she announced that she will be taking a three month hiatus from her job (she's some sort of mental health counselor) so that she can be a professional aunt in Los Angeles at the same wage she is currently making. She's so into the idea that she actually demurred when Gretchen jokingly asked if she was thinking of permanently moving to Los Angeles.
Another thing that happened tonight was my retelling of the tale of how my friend Josh had lived for a time with a family that had killed their patriarch and interred him in a concrete bench in the basement. I was surprised that none of these close friends had yet heard the tale (though I'd told David another tale about Josh wherein he gave an impromptu pizza and beer party to his African American neighbor after cutting off an unrelated black man in traffic, fearfully assuming that there is an unseen network of communication between all black people).
There was also a fairly long conversation about unpleasant-sounding words, which began with a recollection of a conversation Gretchen and I had had about the word "hoodoo," which neither of us knew the definition of (someone looked it up on a smartphone and found that it means "folk magic"). Gretchen said that the one thing that could make that word even uglier would be if the first syllable sounded like the name "Hugh." Then she said that she'd actually made out with a guy named Hugh once. The conversation about ugly words continued from there, with an inevitable mention of "moisture." At some point Susan said the subject was making her "physically ill."
Before everyone left, Carrie insisted we watch a piece of Youtube humor from Adult Swim entitled "Too Many Cooks." It's a parody of opening sequences for a variety of sitcoms, soap operas, and even Saturday morning cartoons and takes the form of an occasionally gory eleven minute opening sequence. It's perhaps the most stoner-friendly bit of humor I've seen in awhile (and I've seen a lot).
Carrie and Michæl had brought over their dog Penny as well as the Seed Library guys' dog Rutabaga, a thin unassuming cattle dog whose long hair had been shorn short. It wasn't long before Ramona attacked Rutabaga for reasons that nobody could determine, and after that, Susan (who knows how to operate it) kept our household pet corrector (a can that makes a hissing sound when deployed) at the ready. Rutabaga and Penny were fascinated by Celeste the kitten when she eventually made an appearance, and within a few minutes the kitten became completely comfortable, stretching out in the heat of the woodstove in front of both dogs even as they relentlessly stared at her and even drooled on her (though that was more Penny than Rutabaga) .
The copper floor plug I fabricated today.
Clarence the cat, age 11. Hanging out by the fire this morning.
Celeste the kitten, age six months. Hanging out by the fire this morning.
Sylvia the cat (with tongue), age 13 to 15. Hanging out by the fire this morning.
Ramona the dog, age three and a half. Hanging out by the fire this morning.
Eleanor the dog, age 12. Hanging out by the fire this morning.
The tiny bathroom at the Wall Street house.
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