subway tiling, day two
Sunday, March 17 2019
The weather today was similar to what it had been yesterday, and my plans for how to take advantage of it were similar as well. Gretchen and I woke up late though, at nearly 10:00am. I immediately went on a firewood salvaging foray to that skeletonized tree I'd felled yesterday west of the Farm Road. I cut off a few of the upper branches, cut some pieces of a small dead white pine, and used this to assemble a backpack load that probably weighed no more than 50 pounds. Most of this went into the house.
The late morning and afternoon played out much like yesterday had, with me mixing up a batch of thinset and then attaching backsplash tile. Since I had more of rhythm going and the amount to cover was less, the north backsplash went up noticeably faster. I then did the last of the tile installations necessary for the floor, this time installing them just south of the kitchen's island. As had been the case yesterday, the cleanup afterwards took something like an hour. I was wearing different clothes from what I had worn yesterday, and all of it became part of a laundry load. I then jumped into the shower, eager to get the grime completely out of my life. I still have to do grouting, but at least I won't have to make any more repeated trips to an outdoor wetsaw. There is another big tiling project coming up at some point; Gretchen wants to tear out all the ugly pink 12 inch by 12 inch tile in the front entryway and replace it with something prettier. But I'm not doing that until the weather is so warm we can leave the frontdoor open for days at a time.
When Gretchen and Neville returned from the bookstore, it was time for the evening's activity: the celebration of Nancy's 52nd birthday down at Ray & Nancy's house in Old Hurley. Gretchen had populated a little metal tree with vanilla & strawberry cupcakes, and I'd taken a tiny painting of a poison ivy leaf (that is, a compound leaf containing three leaflets) out of my collection and made it into a gift. Not knowing whether or not we could bring the dogs (there were going to be a lot of people at the celebration) Gretchen tried to call the down, but nobody answers their phones anymore, especially when there is a party raging. While I was buying Michelob Ultras and a bag of ice at Stewart's, Ray sent a text saying the dogs were welcome, so I dropped Gretchen off at Ray & Nancy's and went to get the dogs.
When I returned, I let the dogs run around with an overjoyed Jack in the backyard. Ray and some guy I didn't know came out dressed in short-sleeved shirts (even though temperatures had dropped into the 30s), and while I was talking with them, I lost track of the dogs. Eventually Ramona and Jack were tracked down, but Neville was still unaccounted for. So Gretchen headed north through across the long-narrow yards of the neighbors while I walked north along Old 209. Eventually Gretchen hollered that she had found Neville, and that he'd found a loaf of bread that he was now guarding (the way he does). So she'd just left him with the bread and returned to the party.
The party was such a big one that the dining room table had been shoved to the wall and the food was offered buffet-style. Still, I knew most of the people there, which included folks like Rich the Potter, Crazy Mary S., Sarah the Vegan, and Kate the Photogenic 60-something. Ray kept making pitchers of margarita, which he went around pouring in people's glasses.
I couldn't really enjoy the party with Neville out in the cold guarding that loaf of bread. So at some point I went back outside with the idea of maybe getting that loaf away from him with a stick. But before I could even get down the steps, there was Neville! He'd either eaten that loaf of bread he'd been guarding or he realized that he was going to have a lot more fun at a party than he would out in the cold guarding a loaf of bread. When he came into the party, he was so delighted to be there that he started "tucking it in" and charging around like a gleeful little puppy whose backend looks to be in danger of accelerating beyond the capacity of the frontend to keep up.. There was something about the forest of human and occasional precipitation of food that was making this the best day he'd had in a very long time.
There was a fair diversity of food, but I stuck almost entirely to the strips of breaded tofu and the spiral pasta with asparagus and lightly-cooked peas (the latter of which got progressively oily as the evening progressed). I surprised Gretchen when I ate one of the strawberry & vanilla cupcakes, which I did mostly to remind myself what that kind of food tastes like. It really wasn't my thing. I had a lot of fun little conversations with various people, though most of these were about the dogs. Neville possibly abandoning a loaf of bread to join tonight's party was the best material I had.
This was the first social gathering at which I looked around at all the people there, most of them looking very middle-aged, and thought to myself, "damn, we're all getting old!" I'm not the sort of person who gets hung up about (or wastes any time thinking about) things which are completely outside my control. But for so many years there, during our thirties and even well into our forties, one could still imagine we were all still back in college. Not any more.
For the first time in a long time, I think Gretchen wanted to leave the social scene before I did. But I was pretty drunk, it was a school night, so it was a good time to go. Back at the house, I was in bed before 11:00pm.
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