Saturday, May 9 2020
Today being May 9th, it was the day that Gretchen and I celebrate our wedding anniversary, in this case our 17th. For this time of the year, it was an appallingly cold day. At times it would be blustery, with temperatures in the upper 30s or low 40s, but also sunny. And then all the signifiers of spring (electric green grass, unfurling baby leaves, and tulips) would convince you it wasn't so bad. But then thick clouds would pile in and drop some sort of wintery precipitation (first sleet, and then snow), covering up all the springtime signifiers, and your mind would think it looked like February.
As we have for the past few weeks, one of the things Gretchen and I did during Saturday morning coffee was to play the New York Times "Spelling Bee" game, the one that offers seven letters, one of which must be included in every word you can make from some combination of the letters. If all the letters are used, that word is a so-called "panagram," and it took us hours to figure out that the panagram was "forthwith." (The letter that had to be in every word was "r.") We'd always wondered what would happen if we figured out all the possible words (that is, the words that the New York Times was willing to accept, which means no proper nouns, no obscenities, no racial slurs, and no overly-technical words — for example, on one occasion they didn't accept "dicot"). Normally we play it from a large piece of paper on which Gretchen has transcribed the seven letters. But at some point this afternoon I wandered up to Gretchen's computer and noticed a word we hadn't entered: "roti." At that point I got a message that I was a "Queen Bee," because I'd found all the possible words. I ran to get Gretchen, and she excitedly took a picture of her screen.
Meanwhile, last weekend I'd tried to make some amusing sound effects from Disturbatron, the Raspberry-Pi-powered remote megaphone, but it hadn't been able to make any sound. The Raspberry Pi inside it was reachable, but evidently something was wrong with either the amplifier or the relay circuit that turns that amplifier on. So today I brought most of the Disturbatron into the house, cut open its seals, and looked to see what wrong. Somewhat disturbingly, a small amount of water had managed to get past all the seals and pond near the output of the relays. I thought at first that the relays had been destroyed, but they tested good. Indeed, the only problem with the Disturbatron ended up being the one jumper wire that carries the on-off signal from a Raspberry Pi GPIO pin the the relay. Once I'd replaced that, the Disturbatron was once more fully-functional.
Gretchen had initially suggested going to a nearby hotel to celebrate our anniversary. But I thought it best to avoid such places during the pandemic. Gretchen's idea was mostly to change the scene so we don't just get stuck in our usual Saturday evening ruts. But, she said, if I could avoid using a computer, maybe we could do the whole thing at home. We should, she said, even cook our own meal. She said that she loves cooking with me.
Our evening actually started with a shower-for-two, which then led to other things. For that part, we had to evict Diane the Cat and close the door to keep out the dogs.
For dinner tonight, Gretchen made a cashew cream sauce using a chardonnay reduction, while I boiled a pot of linguine and sauteed mushrooms with a small amount of spinach. It made for a delicious meal, which we (unusually) ate in the living room, away from the television, our usual dinner crutch.
Next we played a couple rousing games of Bananagrams, with Gretchen defeating me badly the first time and less-badly the second time. But then she had to forfeit because she'd played "auk" (the bird) spelled "awk."
Our last activity of the evening was to crack open a bottle of very old (and somewhat weird-tasting) champagne and watch the 2008 movie Be Kind Rewind, a very strange flick about a troubled movie rental place forced to shoot their own versions of populat movies. I hadn't remembered much of the movie, aside from that (so-called "sweding"), and it was a bit overwhelming seeing the implication of so much work (producing homespun versions of dozens of movies) followed by seeing a secene where all that hard work is destroyed. Gretchen's take on Be Kind Rewind was that, though it was a movie about movies, and those movies were all those of the conventional Hollywood kind, Be Kind Rewind itself avoided many of the tropes of Hollywood movies. It didn't have either a romance of a happy resolution. Indeed, it didn't really have a proper ending at all.
Both of us agreed that this had been an unusally good anniversary even though we'd never left the house. Capping it all, we both took xanaxes on our way to bed. We both had a lot of stuff to do tomorrow and needed a good night's sleep.
I found the last word in Spelling Bee today.
After a snow shower today, looking northeast out of the east-facing dining room window.
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