barred owl friend
Sunday, May 24 2020
This afternoon I went down to the southeast corner of the house to contemplate burying the 240 volt cable to the master guestroom's split air-conditioning unit. But when I poked at the ground it would have to run through, I found it was a hopeless combination of native bluestone and concrete leftover after making the slab outside the master guestroom's sliding glass doors. I quickly recalibrated and decided I would instead route the cable through conduit attached to the outside of the house. Such cable wouldn't be subject to frost heave or accidental disinterment. It would also be much easier to install. But this meant I would need on the order of fifty feet of conduit. Fortunately, such conduit costs only about twenty five cents per foot (though it requires special boxes for right angles and junctions).
Meanwhile some shooting had begun again again down at the bus turnaround. There'd also been a little light shooting yesterday, but most ammosexuals apparently stayed away due to the threat of rain. I contemplated going out with my megaphone to berate the shooters, but it hadn't yet reached a critical volume of vollies.
I decided to make a run to Home Depot to get the necessary supplies for my new conduit project. As I was heading out, I ran across Powerful and asked if he wanted to tag along. Somewhat surprisingly, he said he did. (It made sense; he was feeling bored.) As we passed the bus turnaround, I was dismayed to see it was mobbed with shooters, all standing in a line like a real gun range, blazing away with an assortment of weapons. Cars sprawled out of the parking area. We saw some old man who had apparently driven here just to go hiking parking across Dug Hill Road. We would later see him hiking along Dug Hill Road, as it was too dangerous to venture into the forest. First though, we passed a truck belonging to a Catskill State Park Ranger, the source of law enforcement in what had become a lawless green hole on the map. I slowed down as I passed him, gesturing behind me to the madness taking place at the bus turnaround.
The Home Depot was about as crowded as I'd ever seen it. I didn't want to spend a lot of time in there given the Russian roulette we were playing with tiny airborne viruses, so we walked directly to the electrical section and I quickly picked out the PVC pieces I wanted. It was handy to have Powerful there to carry the five ten-foot-long lengths of conduit, since they tend to run into things if you put them on a cart. Even so, he dropped them a few times. While there, I also looked for an old-school oil can (though such things can only be found on eBay) and a replacement for that hammer I'd lost in the woods (I settled for a small $20 unit).
When it came time for us to load everything in the car, I quickly realized Powerful would have to sit down in the passenger seat before I routed the long conduit pipes out his window (the only way they could be transported in the Prius), thus trapping him in the car for the duration of our drive home. I stopped at the AutoZone to get a small squeeze-bottle of multipurpose oil (mostly so Powerful could rehab our bicycles), and was struck yet again by how non-seriously the employees were taking the coronavirus pandemic (despite a sign saying all customers needed to be wearing masks).
As we climbed Dug Hill Road at the end of our shopping adventure, we saw that old hunched man we'd seen earlier, forced to walk along Dug Hill Road. Then I heard gunfire erupt from some spot that wasn't the bus turnaround, causing the belleagured park ranger assigned to this madness to respond with blinking lights. And as we passed the actual turnaround, I marveled at the half-dozen shooter pew-pewing away. There was even a woman among them. After all the things we'd done to discourage these shooters, seeing this development was like a cancer doctor getting an ominous x-ray following chemotherapy.
It was clear now that the Catskill State Park Ranger wasn't going to do anything useful to curtail the shooting, so I set out again with my megaphone. This time I went a bit further down the Stick Trail, sat down at head of gulley that I thought would amplify my megaphone, and let fly with a series of increasingly crazed rants. The intent this time was not to come across as if any sort of authorities were on my side, since by now it was clear that they weren't. Instead I wanted to seem crazy. I shouted "FUCK YOU!" with increasing agitation until I sounded like I was doing the croaking vocals of death metal. I also shouted "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!" like in that scene from Game of Thrones. I also said things like "I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!" The great thing about coming across as crazy is that nobody can be sure what exactly you are capable of, and you end up tormenting people with their own imagination (pathetic though it often is). Eventually this seemed to silence the gunfire, with occasional pops coming only from tiny firearms. And then something amazing happened. Suddenly a large bird appeared in the trees about a hundred feet away. It was a barred owl, evidently drawn by the noise I'd been making. Barred owls make their own noise, which can be amazingly loud, and I wondered if perhaps this owl had been impressed by the sound I'd been making in a way that tapped into its innate attraction to loud calls from other owls.
Back at the house, Gretchen had returned from the bookstore. She said that the streets of Woodstock had been crowded in that typical Memorial Day weekend way, though, because of the pandemic, there hadn't been many places for all these people to go. Distressingly, she said, almost nobody was wearing masks. She didn't even see many masks around people's necks ready to deploy.
While sitting at the kitchen table sipping a mix of SporTea and gin, I chatted with Gretchen and Powerful as they did the final odds and ends of food preparation for this evening's socially-distanced dinner party. Then I heard more gun fire from the bus turnaround, so I grabbed the megaphone and my camera and set out down the Stick Trail.
A couple hundred feet south of the Chamomile, I saw the barred owl again, which was making a clucking noise as blue jay repeatedly dive-bombed him or her. When the owl saw me, he or she began calling out to me in a low single-note whistle, one I was able to immitate fairly well. I don't know what the owl was actually doing, but to me it seemed as if the owl recognized me from before, was comfortable with me, and was trying to say something. I went further down the Stick Trail to the head of an even more substantial gulley and sat down, but the gunfire had more or less ended for the day.
When I made it back home, I had a great sequel to my earlier barred owl story. I immediately posted photographs of the owl to Facebook.
At 6:30pm, Ray, Nancy, and Jack the Dog arrived. A little later Sarah the Vegan showed up. To minimize the risk of infection on the small chance that one of us had the coronavirus, we all ate out on the east deck. While Ramona moped inexplicably on the couch in the living room, Neville spent much of the meal somehow on my lap, with me managing to eat (and drink) this way. After a round of faux cheese and crackers, we ate one of Powerful's rich salads (this time with garbanzo beans) and then feasted on two different noodle bakes. (I'd say macaroni & cheese, but the noodles were not macaroni, and the cheese was mostly cashews & nutritional yeast.) Much of our dinner conversation was directed towards getting Powerful up to speed with our social group. At some point Ray mentioned that the house (in Stone Ridge) of our erstwhile friends Penny & David had burned down. Later I told the story of the time at that house when David's father cut a bagel for me, and I ended up having to eat it even though it smelled like his old-man cologne. Somehow Mercifully, I slipped out of the conversation to wash dishes before Ray and Powerful began discussing the views of various important philosophers, a subject that has never interested me.
my friend, the barred owl
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