many odd little shops
Monday, January 19 2015
Today was Gretchen's 44th birthday, and so this morning I gave her a couple presents (I'd given her the painting of Celeste last night after midnight). One was a pair of silicone-tipped kitchen tongs and another was a smaller, squatter mixing bowl for her fancy Vitmix blender. Unfortunately, though, the bowl's attachment proved to be incompatible with Gretchen's Vitamix base, a hard problem to avoid when the Vitamix blender doesn't even appear to have a model name; it just says Vitamix on it (this problem seems to happen a lot with Apple products too; they always start out just being a Computer, an iPod, an iPhone, or a Macintosh, and only later models get alphanumeric specifics, along with new incompatibilities).
Usually when I'm working on freelance projects, I always feel like every hour of my day is spoken for, a problem that is compounded by distraction, chores, and procastination. But it's not really that I'm working all the time, it's just that I feel I should be working all the time. This evening, though, after a day of hard work on three separate web development projects (technically, I did very little on one of them), I'd managed to open up some free time so that Gretchen and I could go out to celebrate her birthday. We went to Boitson's, that classy, claustrophobic, dimly-lit restaurant in Uptown Kingston. We'd dined in their dining room once before and had felt kind of meh about the place, but this time Gretchen was excited because she'd done some ressearch and seen the word "vegan" in a few places on their online menu.
So there we were, at a table set tightly between two other occupied tables doing our best to make out the menu in the murky light. Alluding to the effect of the poor illumination on our middle-aged faces and eyeballs, I said, "we look great, but this menu is hard to make out."
We ordered fancy cocktails and a couple of appetizers. I didn't like any of the explicitly vegan menu choices, so instead I went with a veggie burger. Of all the things we ordered, the only real standout was the cauliflower "hot wings," which were actually somewhat better than a similar dish we'd tried at Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles. Boitson's isn't vegan-aware enough to have a cool vegan dip, so we made do with the mediocre mushroom paté instead until Gretchen ordered us some more celery (partly as a way to say the word "vegan" and hopefully shame the people at the next table, who'd been joking about free range livestock).
A big problem with Boitson's is that you're just too close to the other diners. I guess they're trying to cultivate the cramped urban vibe, but Upstate people don't know how to operate in such confines. For example, the biggest problem with our cauliflower hot wings were that they occasionally seemed to have been flavored by the perfume of the woman at the next table over.
Gretchen noticed at some point that a good fraction of the other couples tonight appeared to be gay, which is another thing that made Boitson's feel like a chunk of disembodied urbanism.
After we settled up (our meal cost $93 before tip), we took a stroll on the cold windswept streets of Uptown. This is not normally something I enjoy doing, but it was Gretchen's birthday and I know such strolls run in her family. We peeped into the windows of the many odd little shops Uptown somehow sustains, such as the garden shop that sells tiny moss gardens and the combo music & haberdashery store. When we walked past Back Stage Productions (BSP), it was closed for the night, though a band was in there rehearsing a performance of the Capital Cities' song "Safe and Sound." The band even had a horn section. So we stood in the window and, to the restrained delight of the musicians, danced the kind of dance you dance when you hear a dancey song and you're cold.
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