worth the wait
Saturday, October 12 2019
It's pine needle season in the Hudson Valley, that time of year when pines are shedding whatever needles they shed every year (while retaining other needles so as to remain evergreen). Pines seem to shed their needles weeks before deciduous trees do, so there is a period of time when the ground in the mixed forest is covered with a fresh blanket comprised mostly of needles. This year, this has been complicated by the fact that it's an acorn year, when the oaks all drop their acorns, something they do at about the same time as the pines drop their needles. In any case, pine needles are a useful resource around the house. I use them as a bulk source of cellulose when composting urine and humanure, for example, and I've also used them for such other purposes as insulation, incense, and kindling. For numerous reasons, it's best to collect pine needles when they are dry, so I avoided collecting them last weekend. Since the best place to collect them is from the shoulders of the road in front of the house, I also don't want to work when the sun is low in the sky, since it could blind motorists and cause them not to see me. So that prevented needle gathering during the week. This morning, though, it was just warm and sunny enough for Gretchen and I to have our Saturday morning coffee out on the east deck, so conditions were ideal for gathering needles. I ended up gathering three large wheelbarrows of the stuff, which I could just barely stuff into the dog house. I'd generally collected pine needles ever Fall for years, but had negelected to collect them in either 2017 or 2018, so the there weren't many left from 2016. In truth, though, there were more old pine needles on hand than you might expect, as I'd also cut back my use of a resource that I'd been failing to gather. Today's collection only had a few blobs of wet pine needles, though they contained a fairly large number of acorns. The local squirrels will probably take advantage of this.
Another chore I did today was recovering some firewood I'd cut up along the Farm Road after a tree had fallen across it and blocked it. To do this, I used the handtruck, which can haul much more firewood than I can carry on a backpack. I don't have much reason to gather firewood any time soon, as the woodshed is completely full and there is even a fair amount still in the firewood rack in the living room.
This evening for date night, Gretchen and I decided to go to Mountain Gate, the Indian restuarant in Woodstock. We've had mixed luck there in the past, including a something-like-12-year estrangement after a terrible experience there soon after moving Upstate. But in recent years, we've had good experiences there. Their mulligatawny soup is particularly yummy, and a underlying craving for quality mulligatawny soup is enough to keep Mountain Gate on the radar.
It was kind of a bad omen to arrive at Mountain Gate and quickly find ourselves in a line with four other tables' worth of customers even though the restaurant had plenty of empty tables ready to go. The problem seemed to be centered around the long central table in the restaurant, which was occupied by a large group of actual Indians (dot not feather). This included a couple kids completely absorbed by a small device having a touchscreen. Most American parents wouldn't let their kids play with noisy devices in a restaurant, but I've noticed such prohibitions are rarely enforced by recent arrivals from India. An old lady in one of groups of new diners objected to the noise in the dining room, and it turned out there was another dining room. But that wasn't suitable either, and they ended up leaving. Unless one had a serious hankering for mulligatawny soup, knowing what I eventually would, that was probably the best course of action. We ended up sitting there for an hour before any food arrived at all. About a half hour into our wait, an Indian woman at the long table who I'd thought was finishing her meal complained about having waited for an hour. It turned out she'd ordered some absurd number of "take-away" orders and was wondering why it was taking so long. But in this case the arithmetic was against her: the resaurant's kitchen was only so big and the people working in it were only so many. When her order finally came out, it was in a large cardboard box.
Eventually our waitress came around with complimentary papadum, which helped take the edge off the hunger. We wondered why the soup was taking so long. Was it being made from scratch? When it finally did arrive, it was everything we'd hoped it would be. But then it was gone and we had nothing to eat for something like a half hour. Eventually the waitress came out with a single large chapati, but nothing to eat with it. And then, somewhat later, she gave us the serving of mango pickle we'd ordered. That's not something one normally eats by itself either, though I was so hungry I found myself carving off little pieces and eating them, each time getting a rush from the shoe-polishy quality of the flavor. Mind you, both the chapati and mango pickle were pre-made items that required zero preparation. Despite all this, we were much more patient than the others in the dining room, one of whom went so far as to poke his head into the kitchen to inquire what the hold-up was. Judging from the occasional shouting in the back, the staff was stressed-out too.
But eventually the massive logistics-tsunami of that enormous to-go order disspipated and things returned to normal. When our two curries finally came out, they were great (particularly the chana-shag). Gretchen even remarked, "this is excellent Indian food!" Somehow all the waiting and weirdness seemed worth it. By this point, the staff were being very apologetic, and the cook even came out to apologize to each table individually. When we left, we gave our waitress an enormous tip.
Back at the house, Gretchen soon discovered that Neville had pissed on our bed, the upstairs one we all sleep on. This is something he normally only does when it's raining outside and he doesn't want to get wet (as if pissing in a bed keeps anyone dry). But this time, it seemed like maybe he was acting out for not getting to go out with us. In any case, we had to strip the bed and put the comforter through the washing machine. I also spot-cleaned wet spots on the bed and then hit them with a shop vac to dry them out as much as possible before burying them in sheets and blankets.
Another small crisis was that Gretchen hadn't seen her phone in hours. We couldn't find it in any of the usual places. The clue to finally tracking it down came from Gretchen's admission that she had been all over the parking area today, moving the chaise lounge multiple times in order to stay in the sun. When we found the phone, it was on the pallet at the west edge of the driveway where I've been keeping my Disturbatron for the past few months as an ongoing off-grid experiment. It had been able to keep its battery charged all summer, but in recent days there apparently hasn't been enough sun, and it's been going dead shortly after dark and not reviving until the sun strikes the solar panel in the late morning. Fortunately, the power failures haven't corrupted the boot media, at least not yet.
Ramona the Dog and Charles the Cat during Saturday morning coffee this morning.
What a pretty dog!
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