return to the Wallkill for another lupper
Saturday, May 2 2020
This morning after Saturday morning coffee, I set up the air compressor in the basement and ran a hose to my half-inch air wrench in hopes that these tools would have what it took to remove the magnesium anode from our heat-pump-powered hot water heater, thereby solving its sulfur-smelling water problem. My breaker bar and old 12-point 1 1/16 socket hadn't been up to the task, but now I had a six point socket, which would have more grabbing power. But no, even after a half hour or so of intermittent hammering away, the nut on the anode had not turned at all. I sprayed it with some WD-40, hammered it some more, and gave up for the time being.
In planning date night for tonight, I jokingly suggested we return to New Paltz and do a repeat of our Saturday lupper from last week, this time remembering to either bring or ask for condiments. Gretchen thought this was a great idea. If we brought our own condiments, we could even have vegan mayonnaise and slices of Bubbies pickles. Gretchen had been experiencing vertigo, though, and wasn't totally sure she would be able to do anything this afternoon. So, while some time could pass for her to figure that out, I undertook a project I should've done a couple years ago: the dismantling of the television antenna mast I'd erected fifteen years ago (a mast that started on the laboratory deck and then moved up to the solar deck once that was built). That mast included a big, partly-destroyed VHF & UHF television antenna, a 24 dB parabolic WiFi antenna, a webcam, a spotlight, all on a upper mast rotated by an antenna rotator. It also included smaller Yagi antennas for WiFi and cellphone signals, as well as a second non-rotating 24 dB parabolic WiFi antenna. I left that last antenna in place, but dismantled everything else. I thought the big television antenna would be hard to remove, but all I had to do was slide the rotating motor down the shaft it was bolted to, and then all the nuts I needed to loosen were within reach. The antenna was so long that it only fell a foot or two when I dropped it off the side of the laboratory deck.
By the time I was done with that, Gretchen was ready for a repeat of last Saturday afternoon. This time, though, we drove the new Nissan Leaf. Somewhere along the way to New Paltz, we realized our car didn't have any leashes for the dogs. So we tried stopping at Agway, but it was closed down, probably operating under reduced pandemic hours. So instead we got leashes at Walgreens. Absolutely everyone in that store was wearing masks, and the cashier was behind a plexiglass sneeze guard, wearing gloves.
At the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary along the Wallkill River, we walked well past the place we'd picnicked last week (someone else happened to be picnicking in our spot at the time). We continued north through the patch of forest until we came to the field on the other side, and Gretchen threw down our blanket in a mowed strip that turned out to be a lightly-used trail (though only one couple came down it the whole time we were there). With condiments, our burgers were exactly what we wanted to be eating. I ate nearly all my food, though I did give Ramona few french fries. Then I transitioned to a bottle of Voodoo Ranger IIPA, which is 9% alcohol. Gretchen read briefly while I hunted in vain for a four-leaf clover. The dogs wandered off and had a minor adventure and eventually returned. Meanwhile a couple four or five hundred feet away sat along a fenceline about ten feet apart having what appeared to be an appropriately socially-distanced conversation. Somewhere I heard the warm trill that I now know to be the call of the American toad. It was a beautiful day, the kind that makes me never want to be anywhere but Upstate New York in early May. Slowly, though, clouds began to gather, eventually blotting out the sun. When I said I wanted to leave, Gretchen said she could easily stay for another hour, but she was happy to go too.
On the walk back to the car, Gretchen bemoaned the fact that she'd eaten her entire lunch. "It was too good, and too plentiful," I agreed.
This evening back at the house, we had a Zoom date scheduled with our friends Chris & Kirsti (the "photogenic vegan Buddhists). I initially tried to join the meeting with my Chromebook, but the audio input and output were both non-functional, a problem that proved unfixable. Perhaps the hardware underlying those features had been destroyed when I'd left the Chromebook out in the rain. When we moved to Gretchen's computer ("Badger"), the video and audio were flawless, confirming that the Zyxel router really had fixed our connectivity issues. Our conversation was mostly about life in the pandemic, with a focus mostly on how relaxing and pleasant it's been for people like us with the privilege of having jobs we can do from home. We also compared and contrasted how seriously the various restaurants we patronize have been taking the pandemic in their limited take-out-only business. With one glaring exception, all have been very good, and, according to Kisti, even the exception managed to tighten things up after receiving some gentle suggestions.
Today I saw a grey squirrel checking out the old pileated woodpecker hole from last year (the site of all those videos I shot at this time last year). I don't know if he or she was considering it as a possible nest.
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