rainy day entertaining at the cabin
Saturday, October 7 2023
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
I got up at around 8:00am and immediately washed the dishes from last night and made myself a french press of caffeinated coffee, which, it turned out, was something only I drank of the four people who had spent the night in the cabin. (Gretchen drinks decaf coffee, Christine drinks tea, and Andrew drinks sugarless energy drinks.) Meanwhile, outside it was raining, sometimes so powerfully that the cabin's partially-choked-with-leaves gutters overflowed. I went outside a couple times with an umbrella to wade in the delightful puddles that had formed in unfamiliar places (though never on any of our stone walkways) and check out how the stress-tested drainage systems were working. Happily, I could see no evidence of erosion anywhere around the cabin.
Gretchen got up before our guests, and we ended up playing Spelling Bee in our downstairs bedroom, continuing to play until together we'd gotten to Queen Bee (the last word was "tutti").
Over in Isræl this over night, there had been a surprise attack launched by the militant Palestinian group Hamas from the Palestinian enclave in Gaza over night. The attack was massive, and involved multiple breaches of the border via glider, drones, speedboats, and vehicles ramming through barricades. There were also numerous rockets fired into Isræli cities. Once such rocket exploded in a park near the apartment in Tel Aviv where Gretchen's childhood friend Dina is living, and the resulting explosion destroyed one of her windows (at the time she and her family were in a bomb shelter, having heard an alarm). Gretchen heard all of this news and wondered why the fuck Dina insists on living in a warzone. Is being in touch with her "Jewishness" really worth all this? As for the attack itself, it's one of the inevitable results of the current Isræli prime minister's no-compromised Trumpist fascism. Like Trump, Netanyahu is facing criminal indictments, and he might actually appreciate the distraction of a war, even if it shows him to be asleep at the watch. How, after all, could Isræli intelligence have missed the planning for such a massive attack?
Gretchen had made a banana cake yesterday in the cabin's kitchen and that was mostly what I was eating. It was also what our guests initially ate when they got up. But a little before noon, I made BLTs on bagels for myself, Andrew, and Christine. Christine had been really looking forward to the BLTs, having greatly enjoyed the one I'd made for her when she'd visited with her mother.
Being a particularly rainy weekend, conditions weren't ideal for entertaining guests at the cabin. But that hardly mattered to Christine and Andrew, who aren't the sort of people who like to do things outdoors. Last night, in fact, Andrew had referred to himself jokingly as an "indoorsman," and had referred to videogames multiple times in a way that suggested he spends much of his non-working hours playing them. Today, they were perfectly happy to sit for hours on the couch in front of the fire chatting away about whatever. Christine continued to always twist the subject matter back to her mother, sometimes in interesting ways. Somehow Christine's mother, who was not raised in a particularly religious household (though, since her mother, my aunt, was a church organist, it was probably more so than mine) ended up marrying a fundamentalist Christian, a man who subjected his children to layer upon layer of guilt wrapped in misogynistic abuse. Apparently my cousin Carol was so ignorant of the possibilities of human nature that she completely missed all the warning signs until after she'd birthed that horrible man's children. And then it took decades for Christine to claw her way out of that world, but not until after she'd attended a barely-accredited Christian college somewhere in Appalachia and married a man not much less abusive than her father and maternal grandfather had been. All of that abuse, repeated over generations, had beaten Christine down to a state of poverty in a red state, a place that's not very kind to people in poverty.
We also found out more about Andrew, who lives with his brothers in a multiplex house in Buffalo. Andrew is at least half Seneca Indian and his ancestors have lived in the Buffalo area since well before the arrival of Europeans. He says that that back in the early 1800s when the US Army told his ancestors they had to move to a reservation in Arizona, they ignored the order and stayed where they were. Apparently by then they were so integrated into the social fabric of Western New York that the US decided it would be disruptive to force them out, and moved on to evicting other, more obedient Indians. Andrew told us what it was like, as a child, to visit the reservation that was eventually set up (perhaps Cattaraugus). Apparently conditions there were still rather primitive even in fairly recent times, with outhouses and a general absence of running water. (Andrew is not quite forty years old, so this was probably in the 1990s.)
Andrew also told us some about what he does for a living, which these days involves coordinating the resettlement of refugees for a Catholic charity. Most of the cases he deals with are from central Africa and Myanmar. He finds them hotels that will put them up temporarily for a discounted rate and helps them find public services. In doing all this, he's become well acquainted with where refugees from various countries tend to end up. For example, he said, Congolese refugees always gravitate to Dayton, Ohio. He's not sure how it got started, but now there are enough Congolese there for them to have sent word back to the Congo that that is the place to go. Before he worked for that non-profit, Andrew had worked for a Las Vegas based knife manufacturer.
Christine had wanted to "hang out" and so had said she and Andrew would be staying until 3:00pm. I knew Gretchen thought that it would've been better had she wanted to leave earlier, especially on such a cold rainy day. But Christine stuck with it, and so there we sat in the great room, chatting and telling stories. Eventually Gretchen had to get some relief from all the on-demand socializing and went for a walk despite the rain (though it had wound down a bit and become windy). This meant all the burden for socializing was on me. At that point the topic turned to more internet-related subject matter, with Christine telling us about her friend Jake who has created a number of explosively viral videos on TikTok.
Then 3:00pm arrived, and Christine miraculously stuck to her schedule and departed. Before she left, she hugged me and Gretchen, but it was one of those weird side-hugs that Christians are famous for. I suppose that's a step up from the generalized antisocial autism that pervades the DeMar half of my family (the part Christine comes from).
With our guests gone, I could resume my electrical work in the basement, now fueled with orange juice spiked with gin.
Later I came up and chatted with Gretchen about a number of things. I also poured myself a drink of that square-bottled bourbon that my cousin Carol had given me a couple weeks ago, and Gretchen had some of that candy-flavored booze that Andrew had brought yesterday. We talked about our money situation now that I am unemployed. Perhaps, Gretchen said, we should try not to spend quite at the rate we have been. I said that should be fairly easy now that I have no big expensive projects to work on.
I should give a little update about the deer mouse problem. Yesterday when I went around looking at the traps in the basement, I saw one had been triggered, and it's hard to imagine how any could be triggered without something like a mouse to trigger them. Then this evening I saw what looked like fresh new chewing debris on the floor behind the hot water heater tank, suggesting renewed chewing around the solar conduit. It's possible this is just debris that had been on top of the tank that then fell down, but it's more evidence that there is still at least one mouse in the basement. I also found a few small caches of seeds that the mice had set up for themselves, which would give them provisions to stay alive even without my bags of bird seed.
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