new crop of sickly geriatric dogs
Saturday, December 31 2022
It being an actual Saturday, Gretchen and I spent the morning much like we did yesterday morning: in front of the fire in the living room, playing Spelling Bee. My breakfast mostly consisted of leftover pizza, which (unlike Gretchen's "vegan" "chicken" parmesan) actually was vegan.
Then Gretchen went off to do various social things, which included eating lunch over at Lisa's house (where Lisa made some sort of African stew from leftovers) and then meeting up with Paula to see the Nan Goldin documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (which Gretchen would later say was amazing).
Meanwhile, I took advantage of yet another beautiful day to gather firewood, returning to that tree that I'd partially cut down that the wind had then blown down (along the Stick Trail). After putting together another backpack load of that, I looked behind a massive white pine and saw the splitting maul I've been missing for a couple months. Apparently I'd had the good sense to hide it back there so it wouldn't be seen by anyone coming down the Stick Trail. A good splitting maul costs something like $70, so it's not the kind of thing you want to lose in the forest.
Later I put some serious effort into cleaning up the living room, dining room, and kitchen, as Gretchen would be bringing Paula and her husband Howard over after the movie. The living room is always a bit of disaster at this time of year from all the firewood debris, especially when I'm trying to prepare damp wood to be burned and having it leaned all around the woodstove, periodically breaking off pieces of bark to dry off the dampness inevitably hidden beneath.
When Gretchen got home and Paula and Howard arrived, we cracked open a bottle of red wine and then gave a tour of the house, since neither had ever been over (they'd only been to the cabin in the Adirondacks). For some reason we started in the basement, though of course the real wonders (my copper swing lamps and the chaos of the laboratory) are all upstairs. Paula, who has become an artist late in life, was especially struck by my art, which she seemed to really like. She even wondered why it wasn't featured more in the living room.
This evening Gretchen and I had been invited to a small informal gathering at Erica's & Justin's upstate family compound in Palenville, so we left the dogs at home (because of the way Ramona is with strange dogs and drove up there. Most of the people there were Erica's family, including her sister, brother-in-law, and their two kids, one of whom had become a full-on teenager since we'd last seen him back before covid. Their other kid had been a wee lad and now he's about ten. And Erica and Justin had a baby over covid who is now walking around and talking. Also in attendance was silver-haired Amy, who is often there at gatherings of this size. The family dogs they'd all had had all grown old and died, so the canine population is an entirely new crop, all of them tiny geriatric dogs with expensive medical conditions. For example, there was a miniature schnauzer who had been allergic to his teeth and had to get them all extracted, and, with nothing to hold in his tongue, it lolls out the side. Another dog had cataracts so bad that his or her eyes looked like pearls. Then there was the tiny dog who liked to lie on a pillow that had to have various tumors removed.
Justin fixed me a very strong manhattan and then had me try to absorb the rules for a very-adult (or, technically, very juvenile) game similar to Pictionary from the same people who brought us Cards Against Humanity. It's called Drawing Without Dignity and the idea is that people in teams try to communicate various risque ideas like "dingleberries," "sodomy," or "butt plug" by drawing pictures. We never actually played that game, but after playing some vintage games on a Raspberry-Pi-based RetroPie, we eventually watched a short video to learn how to play a different card game called QuickWits, where the goal was to quickly come up with an item for a category before someone else playing the game managed to do so. This led to a lot of loud and gleeful shouting, which triggered the dogs, but everyone had a great deal of fun (including the the two non-baby kids). Normally there'd be a huge spread of food at Justin & Erica's place, but we'd come too late for that, so Gretchen and I ate some crackers and dips instead (though I wasn't really feeling those). And at some point Gretchen brought out the cake she'd baked.
A little before we overcame our inertia and started making motions to leave, Justin brought over the Drawing Without Dignity cards with the understanding that we weren't going to play a proper game. Just one of us would be an artist and illustrate one of the concepts. Amy volunteered to do the drawing and, before the sand ran out in a tiny hourglass, she managed to produce a primitive sketch of a stick figure with a penis with a curved line of dashes coming out of it. We all tried to guess what it was, but nobody said "pissing in the wind," which would've been the right answer. Amy said she would've tried to also convey the concept of wind, but she'd run out of time.
About 20 minutes before midnight, Gretchen and I said goodbye and started driving home. Midnight (and, with it, 2023) arrived soon after leaving the Thruway and turning onto US 209. As we headed down Hurely Mountain Road, we could see elaborate fireworks going off on the horizon in the direction of Stone Ridge or Accord.
I wasn't sleeping long before I awoke with some kind of diahreah issue that I didn't managed to fix even after blasting my ass with the bidet hose, an effort that made enough suspicious noises that Gretchen asked if I was okay. (This is why the whole idea of a bathroom that is part of a master bedroom suite is stupid; it's one of the reasons I built a brownhouse.) "I'm having problems with my ass," I explained.
I got a second mane today. This one was black, making it possible to turn Ramona into a black lion. She removed her mane seconds after I took this photo. Neville doesn't mind his mane as much.
There was also a cat at Erica & Justin's upstate compound. He or she was friendly and curious but had a tendency to suddenly bite.
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