dining table in the yard
Wednesday, July 1 2020
Today was Powerful's 41st birthday, and he spent it in Woodstock while Gretchen worked her Wednesday shift at the bookstore. Meanwhile I was writing a specification document for a reporting system, and as I got to a good place with that, I went on a small vacuuming jihad to prepare the house for this evening's socially-distanced dinner party in the front yard.
When Gretchen and Powerful returned, they spent some time in the kitchen making salads, roasting asparagus, and heating up the two lasagnas Gretchen had finished making last night. Meanwhile, I was scrubbing down the eleven plastic chairs that are normally stacked up in the garage. I think this was the first time we'd be deploying all of them since our wedding (over seventeen years ago). Then Powerful and I managed to carry the dining room table (which was heavier than I expected) out into the yard. The idea here was to have Powerful's birthday dinner party in the open air in case any of our guests harbored the coronavirus. There had been a thunderstorm earlier and thunder could still be heard rumbling in the distance, but it seemed unlikely to be coming our way since the dark clouds were limited to the north and the east.
Our guests started arriving promptly at 6:30pm, and quickly clogged our driveway. First came Daniel and Melanie, the professors who had taught Powerful (and who had hosted a wine & cheese thing at their house in Rhinebeck some weeks ago). Then came a Kristin and a Brian and Leah from Woodstock (Leah being the owner of the Garden Café and Kristin being one of her friends who has become good friends with Powerful). Then came Sarah the Vegan, and, a half-hour or so later, Ray & Nancy. Today also happened to be Ray's 53rd birthday. The only conversation I got into of any duration was with Sarah, who told me all about her recent experience as a landord. She owns an apartment in Manhattan that she rents out, which helps considerably with the expenses of living in the Hudson Valley (where she herself is a renter). Her current tenant came down with Covid-19 a couple months ago but has fully recovered. We both had stories to tell of joyfully allowing tenants to make improvements to our rental properties; recently our tenant in the Wall Street house had a contractor rip out all the linoleum and replace it with hexagonal tile. (According to that tenant, the contractor had previously done work on David Bowie's house.)
While Gretchen was briefly inside the house, I overheard a conversation I never expected to hear at a party at my house. Kristin was showing pictures of a puppy she'd recently bought, and then she gushed about how great the breeder had been. Everybody around her made appreciative grunts, as if getting a dog from a breeder was an uncontroversial position. I stayed silent, and then maybe rolled my eyes at either Powerful or Sarah the Vegan.
After a prolonged phase of cheese and crackers, Gretchen and Powerful brought out the salad, lasagna, and asparagus. Gretchen had warned me about being disatisfied with the red sauce she'd used, but I thought the lasagna was so good that I ate two cubes of it. The birthday cake was some sort of red velvet kind of thing.
Rain kept threatening but didn't really arrive until five minutes after the birthday cake was served. We moved the operation into our dining room, where Gretchen opened the doors and windows to make it act more like an outdoor space (for the purposes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus). And then Powerful opened his many gifts, the bulk of which were books. People left shortly thereafter, and I did most of the work of cleaning up.
Some of those at the party this evening. From left: Sarah the Vegan, Powerful, Nancy, Ray, and me. Click to enlarge.
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