still light out at 8:15pm
Friday, May 19 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
Late this morning I decided to pre-assemble the bit of check-valve plumbing that I would be using to replace the leaking check-valve plumbing I'd installed at the cabin last weekend. This new check valve used a different mechanism for stopping the flow of water in one direction. Instead of there being a plunger held by a spring that only allowed water in the direction pushing the plunger into the spring, this one had a simple brass flap hanging on a pivot like a one-way dog door, and it was machined so well that water pressing it into its brass seat could not get around the flap. Happily, the whole thing could be disassembled, allowing the a plastic gasket to be out of the way when it was soldered. That it was designed to be soldered was the best thing about this check-valve. Somehow, though, I experienced a minor comedy of errors while I was soldering it together out on the laboratory deck, where for years I've had a piece of Wonderboard atop the railing for just these kinds of assembly jobs. Today somehow the whole thing slipped away from me while I was trying to do something, and it bounced off the roof and landed on the ground. After running around to retrieve it, I found a 90 degree fitting had been hopelessly bashed-in by the fall, causing me to have to replace it. But eventually I had the damn thing put together.
Sometime early this afternoon, I could hear a very loud carolina wren singing away happily somewhere upstairs. Wrens have very loud voices for their sizes, but this song was so loud that it was clear that the bird was somewhere within the house. Uusually birds inside the house are too stressed-out to sing, but not this one. When I entered the laboratory, I saw the wren had flown in through the open window and was perched nearby. Happily he or she was easily able to fly out when he or she saw me.
The cleaning ladies arrived late this afternoon to clean the house, filling it with the chemical smell of whatever unpleasant soap they use. Gretchen has tried to get them to use our all-natural soap, but they never do. So she says she's firing them and finding us different cleaning people so we'll never have to smell their aweful soap again. (Gretchen returned from her overnight adventure in New Jersey a little before they were done filling our house with unpleasant fragrances.)
I've been continuing with my poison ivy eradication project where the new mailbox passes through our yard on its way up to the Farm Road. Today I ripped out so many poison ivy roots (the kind that carry it across the ground into new regions) that I completely eliminated it south of the new trail. I attacked it for a couple feet north of that trail as well, but there's a dense patch of poison ivy a little further north that would have to be eliminated some other way (perhaps by covering it with a large tarp to starve it of sunlight).
At 5:00pm, Gretchen and I began driving up to the cabin. On Gretchen's suggestion, we stopped in Albany on the way at a newish hipster eatery called Bar Vegan, which appears to be in something of a stand-alone food court on Lark Street with two other similarly hipster (though not vegan) restaurants, all of them set in a very appealing industrial-style space. Bar Vegan is both a bar and a tapas restaurant. When we were going to the sit-down area, we happened upon one of the more annoying vegans from our area, a guy Gretchen refers to as something of a "bad penny." This evening he was with some woman who was not the wife he's been trying to divorce for 20 years and he seemed a little drunk. For some reason he showed us a picture of his house in Palenville, asking us if we knew anyone who wanted to buy it.
We ordered four plates, none of which were all that great. I was most excited about the "sushi," even though it contained sweet potato where real sushi might contain salmon. It was a bit too much of that for my tastes, but the whole roll had been fried like tempura, so that was fun. Along with my food, I drank a "rye Manhattan" (though they'd misspelled the name of the famous island).
When we resumed our drive, Gretchen resumed her conversation with Gilley, our friend out in Portland, Oregon. Gilley's big news is that the Pew Charitable Trust (where she's worked on issues concerning fish habitats) is laying her and nine of her co-workers off, though they are all getting fairly good severance packages. For the post-Albany leg of our drive, Gretchen mostly talked about the ongoing drama in her brother's family.
It was still light out at 8:15pm when we arrived at the cabin, though it was cool enough to necessitate a fire in the woodstove.
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