sunny day joy ride
Saturday, May 16 2020
This was the first Saturday morning coffee with Powerful in the house, and he helped me with the drinking of a french press of real of coffee (while Gretchen had her own french press of decaf as usual). Powerful also joined us in the playing of the New York Times "Spelling Bee," whose panagrams weren't initially obvious, though I eventually saw "eligibility." Still, though, a whole class of words were eluding us, because our progress was only at "amazing" (usually we make it to the penultimate status of "genius" within an hour or so of occasional puzzle contemplation).
Later, while the dogs were still in the forest, I went on a solo errand into town to get circuit breakers and electrical conduit for the 240 volt charging station I want to install. I knew Lowes had tandem circuit breakers that would fit the house's main circuit breaker box, so that was where I went. Everyone at that store, both customers and employees, were wearing masks, and they seemed to be taking it more seriously than I've seen it taken in other places. This might've been a function of the numbers; it's rare to see so many shoppers at once in either Home Depot or Lowes.
I needed some seedling starts for our household garden, so my next destination was Adams, which has a large outdoor garden section. The actualy grocery store at Adams is a warren of narrow New-York-City-style aisles, no place to be in respiratory pandemic. But the garden area was a bit less crowded and open to the air. Unfortunately, they were almost cleaned out of kale, the most important crop we plant. But I was able to get a few, along with tomatoes, specl;ed trout lettuce, and peppers (including a ghost pepper, which should be fun).
The Nissan Leaf is more of a joy to drive than expected. It has that electric-car acceleration that makes you feel like a bad-ass when you need to quickly dart out into a small bubble in the traffic, and the quiet, space-age noises it makes while tooling around a parking lot make you feel like you're visiting from the future. Today I also managed to get the built-in MP3 player to work after plugging in an SD card reader to the car's USB port. The stereo system is better than the ones in our other cars, so I could crank the tunes (mostly the original version of "Astral Romance" by Nightwish; I actually prefer Tuomas Holopainen's dorky vocals in this song). Coupled with the free electricity for charging the car (which Gretchen can get while she works in Woodstock tomorrow), I felt free to joyride. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had the windows down. Since the kale been been so picked-over, I decided to drive past Dug Hill Road and continue south down Hurley Mountain Road. Maybe that farm stand at Johnson Hill Road would have seedlings. But no, it appeared to be closed, either for the season or for the pandemic. So I drove all the way to Davenport Farms (at the intersection of US 209 and Mill Dam Road). They had a great selection of seedlings, and they weren't as picked-over. There was a big sign at the entrance telling people they had to be wearing masks to enter. There I managed to find more basil, tomatoes, and lots of kale. I also overheard a conversation between two adults about the struggle of educating kids remotely.
Soon after I got home, Powerful began working the garden, clearing the weeds and tilling the soil in the southwest corner of our L-shaped array of plots. At some point he had me cut down a sprawling evergreen bush that all of us agreed we had no use for. By the time he was done, Powerful's plot was a perfect little quadralateral, surrounded by its own moat.
At some point I went down to the greenhouse and, after reading the Wikipedia entry on boomerangs (having been reminded about them by an article in the latest Make Magazine), fell asleep on its upstairs couch, only rewakening to the sound of Gretchen calling me to a Zoom meeting with her family. This would be the one where we introduced Powerful to her parents in Washington, DC, and her brother's family in Arkansas. Three people on one camera is a crowd, I participated by myself from the laboratory, occasionally using Zoom's background feature to replace the cluttered scene behind me with various pictures (though the image-substitution algorithm had great difficulty figuring out what was foreground and what was background). At some point, the conversation lingered for a long time on "structuralism," which was one of Powerful's intellectual interests on the way to his master's degree. My eyes glaze over during discussions of such things, but the others (particularly Gretchen, her mother, and her brother) had things to contribute to the discussion. As had happened on the last Zoom call, both my niece and my nephew performed music, which is always a welcome break from the wall of voices.
While I'd been napping, Gretchen had baked a loaf of bread. And for dinner, Gretchen used slices of that bread to make tempeh reubens for dinner, while Powerful made a thick, complicate salad containing things like capers, onions, olives, and slices of sweet red pepper.
As Gretchen and I lay in the dark before falling asleep, another word from the morning's panagram came to me: legible. This led to a flurry of other words, including at least one additional panagram: illegible, illegibly, and legibly. Gretchen immediately entered them into her phone, and we finally arrived at genius. But even after she surprised herself by experimentally discovering that libelee is a word, we still hadn't found all the words. We were not queen bees.
Gretchen and Neville this morning.
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