driving through a salad
Wednesday, July 13 2022
At noon today I drove out to Home Depot with just Ramona to get a few little things for the cabin projects. I really wanted a 1.5 inch pipe to replace the 1.25 pipe I'm using in one place to support the fixed part of the dock, but there were no cut pieces of the right size. I'm also trying to develop a perfect toolkit for keeping at the dock to do such things as tighten 3/8 inch nuts, so I wanted to see what kind of single-sized ratcheting spanners I could buy. I soon determined that the size I needed to turn nuts for 3/8 inch bolts was the 9/16 inch size. For 5/16 inch bolts (another kind I used some on the central hinged segment of the dock), I needed a half inch wrench. But these ratcheting spanners are expensive, and I was pretty sure I had a half-inch ratcheting one that I never use rusting in the tiny "woodshed toolkit." (I have numerous separate and mostly-redundant toolkits: in the laboratory, in the boiler room, in the shop, in each of the cars, in the basement at the cabin, in the first floor of the cabin, at the dock, and, yes, even in the woodshed back in Hurley. For some reason there really isn't one in the greenhouse.)
On the way home, I went out of my way to visit the Tibetan Center thrift store, though the only thing I could find of any interest was some sort of radio that turned out to be mostly (though not entirely) broken.
Some weeks ago while riding north up Dug Hill Road, Gretchen ran across a gentleman named Bruce who lives in a log cabin that I remember being built about fifteen years ago. Gretchen thought he seemed like the kind of guy we'd get along with, since he works with Family of Woodstock, which provides lefty social services in the area. So tonight Gretchen had planned to have Bruce and his wife come over for "heavy snacking" out on our east deck. But the weather was looking ominous for occasion, so it was relocated to Bruce's place. Bruce's cabin has a large front porch with a roof over it, which seemed like it would be important. But it was also outdoors, which is good for pandemic reasons (unlike us, Bruce and his wife are still avoiding socializing indoors with people who could possibly be infected). We gathered together all the crackers, dips, spreads, and sliced pieces of banana bread Gretchen had prepared, not having intended to transport any of it in a vehicle.
As we arrived at the log cabin, we were greeted by Bruce and his wife, both of them fit 60-somethings. With them was their dog (I forget her name), some sort of purebred (a smallish spaniel? I don't know anything about most dog breeds.) It later turned out that the dog had been a breeding bitch for some sort of mom & pop dog breeding operation and was adopted out at the end of her run of Texas-style forced pregnancy.
On the porch, we all shared bottle of rosé while grazing on the various things Gretchen had brought, though in truth Gretchen and I were the only ones doing much actual eating. Bruce said he's a vegetarian who had tried to be vegan back when that was very difficult, and he hasn't tried since, despite the advances in vegan technologies.
Eventually it started raining and the wind started blowing, eventually strong enough that we were being pelted by raindrops. So Bruce and his wife suggested we relocate inside, into the cabin's grand great room, whose spaciousness and high ceiling made it not all that different covid-wise from the outdoors. Bruce proceeded to tell us about embedding with the American Indian Movement as a college project back in the early 1970s, and how he ended up with a group of Indians occupying the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington DC. During that occupation, someone figured out how to hack into the mainframe computer (the kind that processed punch cards) and printed out incriminating data. After that, some hotheads in the group tossed the computer out a window.
Other things we touched on included the recent influx of people from New York to the Hudson Valley, something Bruce and his wife were part of. (They'd started out at a smaller place on John Joy Road about two years ago but then they bought the log cabin about a year ago.) One of the most impressive effects of this influx is the liberalizing of Ulster County politics, which as led to a number of happy consequences, including the shutdown of the de facto gun range a quarter mile below our house.
Meanwhile outside, the weather grew crazier and crazier. At some point I heard what sounded like hail raining down on the roof and against the windows, though Bruce was skeptical that it was actually that. But he wasn't once he went out onto one of his many decks and saw marble-sized hailstones. On another deck there was such an accumulation of hail that it looked like something you might see in March after the passing of a late-winter storm. By this point grid power had failed, but Bruce's cabin has a generator that automatically kicks in when that happens.
Eventually Gretchen gave me the signal that she wanted to go, and I agreed that it was time. As we drove south down Dug Hill Road, there was so much tree debris in the road that I noted that it was like "driving through a salad." Some car coming from the other direction flashed his lights at me, so when he was close, I rolled down my window to hear what the driver had to tell me. He said the road was closed down near the gun range, which he described as "closed" and "with piles of gravel." I replied that we didn't actually have to go that far. And so on we went.
The power was out when we got back to our house, which wasn't unexpected. We'd left the front door wide open, with just a magnet-closing screen to block the elements. Evidently a very strong wind had blown through, because there were splotches of water on the floor as far as half-way into the house. The umbrella for the table out on the east deck had been open, and now it was gone completely, not even visible on the ground below. "It's probably in Dutchess County by now," I said. But I found it over by the "septic mound" about fifty feet from the deck, and it looked to be undamaged.
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