maximized pre-storm utility
Saturday, January 18 2020
location: Hemlock Room, the Cottage, Inn at Lake Joseph, Forestburgh, Sullivan County, New York.
As I lay in bed this morning, the sheets felt weird against the skin of my thigh. Initially I was worried that perhaps the hand-sized numb spot above my right knee might be growing. But then I figured out what was happening: the sheets were expensive and had a very high thread count, and that was what I was sensing.
This morning while Gretchen had the dogs out for a walk on one of the nearby trails, Neville went running after something and disappeared. "Well, we have one dog," Gretchen said as she returned with just Ramona. About five minutes later, though, we heard a whimpering at the door and there was Neville. Dumb as he is, even he knew it was too cold out there for getting lost in the woods.
We eventually left the dogs in our room and walked through the brisk January air to the main building of the inn, where breakfast was being served. There were a surprising number of other guests given the time of year, though perhaps the inn manages to keep its rooms full by varying their price according to demand. (They must be very expensive in peak summer season.) Demographically, the guests were an interesting mix, with several inter-racial and same-sex couples. There was also a family with a loud six-year-old whose father looked like he worked in some sort of douchey New York City profession. When Gretchen asked where they were from, they said "Manhattan," which is about the douchey-est way to answer that question. We were eventually joined at our table by a nice lesbian couple from Olivebridge (which is only about five miles from where we live). They said they lived in a log cabin, which made us think of the cabin we'd considered in Olivebridge a week or so before seeing the house in Hurley we eventually bought, though from their description they live in a different one.
As for what the inn managed to scratch up for us vegans, it turned out that there was oat milk for the coffee, and for food they'd made a concoction of cubed fried potatoes and black beans. The staff in the kitchen were all hispanic, and it was clear from the flavor that they were familiar with what it took to make a black bean delicious.
Back in our room, Gretchen took the dogs on another frigid walk while I prepared the jacuzzi for one last bath before we'd hit the road. That led to a second incidence of sexy time in less than 12 hours, which is pretty good for a married couple our age.
It turned out that we were close to the city of Port Jervis, which I've been familar with for more than half my life as the place where I-84 crosses the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. (I'll never forget that moment in 1988, when a group of us were coming back from a fall break spent in Connecticut, when we got to the top of whatever mountain lies to the east of Port Jervis just as the radio started playing the guitar solo for "Stairway to Heaven.") Of course Gretchen's interest in Port Jervis were more related to veganism. Foxwood and Fig is a vegan café in downtown Port Jervis, and she thought we should go there and get some stuff if only to support a vegan business. We certainly didn't need any more food at this point; we were carrying several meals' worth of Chinese food, and tomorrow we'd be filling our refrigerator with leftover pasta. Also, Gretchen would be going to Baltimore for part of the upcoming week.
The drive to Port Jervis on route 42 took us through remote countryside where there was little else to see but deciduous forest with a substantial component of white pine. The road was a winding one, but it was banked in such a way that driving fast didn't feel dangerous. At some point, though, flurries began to fall from the concrete-colored sky. We knew a snowstorm was coming and had been hoping to get home before it made conditions dangerous. But by the time we got to Port Jervis, there was already enough of an accumulation to make driving somewhat dangerous.
The plan was to order some sandwiches to go and then make haste back towards Hurley. But Foxwood and Fign was kind of busy when we arrived, so there was going to be a wait. While that happened, Gretchen drove to a nearby healthfood store to get other provisions she'd be needing to make lasagna, which would be one of her contributions to tomorrow's "noodle party" (which would be in celebration of her actual birthday). Amusingly, Gretchen drove the Prius without the key (it had been idling with the dogs when we parked it on the street near Foxwood and Fig). This meant that when she turned off the car at the healthfood store, she had no way to start it again. So she was forced to walk back from there.
Eventually our sandwiches and other things were done and our $46 order given to us, and we walked the quarter mile or so the strip mall where Gretchen had been forced to abandon the car. Along the way, we noticed heightened police presence. And then we saw a line of protestors. It must've contained a couple hundred people, which was good crowd considering we were in Port Jervis and temperatures were in the 20s. This was, of course, the fourth annual Women's March, the yearly public rebuking of one Donald J. Trump. I didn't see any pussy hats, but there were plenty of signs. We first hooted our approval and then, once we had our car, we honked it.
We'd expected Google Maps to route us back home via I-84 and the Thruway, but instead it sent us north on US-209 (which, as you may know, connects Port Jervis directly to Hurley). This was a more direct way to go, though neither of us was sure it was the best route in a snowstorm. By this point it was coming down pretty fast and the line of cars we'd joined was only going 40 miles per hour. (So as to avoid a multi-hour panic attack, I was doing the driving.)
Further north, the snow slacked off a bit and it was possible at times to drive the speed limit, particularly north of Accord. We were feeling so confident in our ability to drive in these conditions that we made another stop for last-minute noodle party supplies at Emanuel's in Stone Ridge.
There was about an inch of snow and a single track on Dug Hill Road as we began to climb it, and I was so nervous we'd get stuck that my heart started racing and I felt sick in my stomach. But there was no oncoming traffic to get in my way, and I managed to charge into all the curves as quickly as the conditions allowed, which meant that I maintained constant momentum upwards. This allowed us to make it all the way home, but I suspect that if we'd come a half hour later we would've had to park either at the downhill neighbors's house or the school bus turn-around. We'd essentially maximized our utility of today's pre-storm period.
Originall the noodle party had been planned for tonight, but Gretchen had rescheduled it for tomorrow as the weather forecast became increasingly dire. It was a good thing she did.
For years now I've been using an old HP Officejet J6480 inkjet multifunction printer as a scanning station in the laboratory. I'd inherited from Gretchen's father after he'd been unable to make it work with Windows 7, though I'd been easily able to use it as a network scanner or printer with Windows 7 devices. I hadn't made much use of its printing functionality, as I didn't have all the CMYK ink colors (and HP has algorithms designed to thwart printing by anyone who doesn't maintain reservoirs full of slowly-drying ink that are algorithms are designed to wantonly waste). But Gretchen regularly gives me documents to scan, and I also find scanning to be the best method for making digital copies of my small paintings. As you'll recall, the other day that old HP printer finally decided to stop allowing me to scan, even though the problems it was reporting were unrelated to scanning. Clearly, I needed a replacement. So after some research, I decided to buy a Ricoh CF250FWB multifunction color laser printer. I have whatever the opposite is to brand loyalty when it comes to HP printers, so I knew I didn't want one of those, and I've also found that laser printers are more cost-effective and reliable than inkjet printers. At about $200, the Ricoh CF250FWB seemed to have the right balance of features and price for my needs. I wanted a network printer/scanner (as the HP had been), and I wanted to be able to make occasional color printouts (which I hadn't been able to do with the HP). The Ricoh had arrived yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to unbox it until we got home tonight. Unfortunately, it's taller than expected (and weighs nearly 70 pounds), so I won't be able to put it where the HP had been (beneath the wall/ceiling in the northwest corner of the laboratory). I also found its user interface confusing when trying to scan (the main thing I will be using it for). To do this, one has to hit the scan feature, chose the "folder" tab and then pick a premade location bookmark from something misleadingly called an "Address Book." Now that I've done it, I know the process, but I don't know why it can't be as intuitive as it was on the HP. I'd never had to download the HP manual, but without the Ricoh manual, I couldn't've figured out how to scan to a network folder.
The dogs this morning in the Hemlock Room. The rules actually forbid them from the bed, but that was an easy rule to violate.
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