Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   sweep of the Ashokan Reservoir
Saturday, June 13 2015
Today was the day of Q's marriage to N. It would be taken place at Ashokan Dreams, a Bed & Breakfast south of the Ashokan Reservoir in Olive Bridge (the next township northwest of Hurley). Ashokan Dreams is only ten miles away as a crow flies, but driving there took nearly a half hour via Hurley Mountain Road, Route 213, and the ever-curvy 28A (with its 35 mph speed limit). We arrived at 5:00pm. I was wearing a short-sleeve button up shirt, my brown Banana Republic jacket, and the black dress trousers I only wear to weddings. Gretchen was wearing her wedding dress, the black one with red cherries that she'd bought over 12 years ago at Hot Topic.
After getting a "welcome beverage" (in our case, sangria, the only welcome option that contained alcohol), we took a seat nearest the shade being cast by a big purplish-green Norway Maple into the outdoor seating area for the wedding. All the shaded seats were already taken, but the hope was that if the wedding went on for awhile, perhaps the shade would eventually move over to us. The view from Ashokan Dreams is astounding: the sweep of the Ashokan Reservoir to the north forms a grand arch, and beyond it is Ohayo Mountain and finally the northeast Catskills, all of them looking a bit more exotic from this angle than they do from the angles more familiar to me. We were in the back of the 100 or so people assembled, so I didn't have a good view of the wedding itself over the backless dresses and temperature-inappropriate jackets of those in front of me. Because there was no amplification or wall off of which the words could be reflected, I could barely hear it as well. A good third of the energy of the vocal vibrations was lost off over the forest leading down to the reservoir. That said, I caught the gist was going on. Q's uncle had power vested in him by the State of New York to perform the necessary matrimonial incantations, and there was a mercifully God-free reading from First Corinthians, some extemporaneous (and highly-emotional) words from the bride and groom, and then a fairly standard set of vows that (unlike the vows between me and Gretchen) did mention God and being "faithful" but didn't contain antiquated language about the bride having to obey. The bride, by the way, wore a not-especially-fussy ivory-colored wedding dress, while the groom wore a black suit.
After the ceremony, a large number of us converged on a semi-outdoor pavilion where a bartender served exclusively topshelf liquor. Gretchen and I started with fancy cocktails, though my second drink was a Southern Tier IPA from the tap. During this period, we chatted mostly with our newish friends Chrissy and Nick (Nick being the non-Greek Nick from the bachelor party). Gretchen's vegan propaganda was working wonders on Chrissy, and she, like us, mostly kept to eating the Middle Eastern appetizers that did not contain cheese. Nick, meanwhile, continued to be his usual laconic-though-oddly-extroverted self. At some point Gretchen saw an older man sitting alone who looked to her exactly like Stanley Kunitz, so she marched up to him and had a big conversation. It turned out he was 91 years old, something of a failed playwrite, and was married to a woman twenty years younger than himself. Gretchen later told me that he was "completely self-absorbed." I would have liked for him to tell me his World War II stories, but we were distracted by the Q's father and step mother, who coming around to make their introductions. The former looked like a younger Billy Graham. Somehow we started talking about first air pollution and then animal feedlots. (I referred to the one I'd seen in California as "Cowschwitz.") Meanwhile, a very depressed looking African American DJ played music suitable for the marriage of a pair of late Gen-Xers.
Eventually we were all encouraged to take our assigned seats in the semi-outdoor dining area. I was plunked across from non-Greek Nick and between Gretchen and Gretchen's boss at the bookstore J (who seemed to have drunk a bit since I'd last seen her at the ceremony itself). A special food had been prepared for Gretchen and me, since the only vegan food on offer for the general population was roasted vegetables (delicious, though not enough). Our special thing was a smallish filo-dough pie containing greens and mushrooms. It was good, but there wasn't much of it. Good thing I'd loaded up on carbs during the pre-dinner phase.
Gretchen told Chrissy and Nick about losing her wedding ring, a family hierloom that had been handed down by her maternal grandmother. It vanished mysteriously a couple years ago and hasn't turned up. Gretchen later remarked on how well Chrissy and Nick had listened to her story; she finds that poor listening skills is a frequent dealbreaker for potential friends. Nick also told us about what it's like to draw fluid routing diagrams for a foundry that makes integrated circuits.
During the toast section of the evening, a guy named Ben, Q's roommate from back in college (Q lived in the same dorm where Gretchen and I met when we were students at Oberlin) gave a delightfully John-Capriotiesque (JC being my old housemate in Los Angeles) toast, and this later caused Gretchen to go seek him out. We ended up having a long conversation with Ben and his girlfriend (a Korean-American from Mississippi) as tiny unseen biting insects attacked my scalp, wrists, and behind my ears. Inevitably, Gretchen and I told the story about how we met, went our separate ways, and got back together. Ben's girlfriend told us about what it was like being born into a relatively-poor South Korea, where she remembers using the front yard as a bathroom and depending on dogs to clean it up. At ten, she and her mother moved to Mobile, Alabama, and she went on to describe growing up as neither white nor black in that very segregated culture. Later she told us about her present life, which involves dealing with a lot of purely-psychological "allergy" problems (she's now an allergy nurse).
There was a little dancing in the alcohol pavilion, which we joined just before the classic pop began to give way to more contemporary hip-hop based music (and the dour DJ began looking a bit less depressed). I didn't really dance because I've decided it looks ridiculous for someone my age to dance, but that didn't stop the sizable "Swedish Armada" (the bride is half Swedish, half ESPN volley ball sportscaster), which, even into the hip-hop phase of the evening, was being fed a steady diet of Abba classics.
The bar closed at 11pm and we were headed to a fire pit, but we never made it that far. We ended up engaged in an intense conversation with a brother-sister pair from southwest India and the brother's boyfriend (a very slender African American). The conversation was mostly about the ethics of food, with Gretchen emphasizing the evil of the dairy industry. I usually dislike such conversations, especially when they go for over an hour, but this was kept interesting by the Indian perspective. Dairy in traditional Indian culture is much less evil than the modern mechnanized American dairy industry, but of course, like everything else, modernization is erasing the differences. Later in the conversation, the sister gave very strong views about the Freedom Tower, saying that she hated everything about it. And she didn't even know that it had been engineered to be exactly 1776 feet tall or that prisoners in New York's state correctional facilities build furniture for it, many of them oblivious to the irony.
We got home a little before 1:00am.

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