Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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   Eleanor-related content in Beacon
Sunday, January 7 2024
We had a substantial snow overnight, putting about nine inches on the ground. It's possible Charlotte the Dog had never seen so much snow before, because Gretchen observed her bounding through it at insane speeds when she (Charlotte) went out this morning.
After we collaboratively got to the level of genius on today's New York Times Spelling Bee, Gretchen took Charlotte for a proper walk while I dug out the driveway. I was careful with my bad shoulder, mostly using my left hand as the fulcrum on the snow shovel and doing most of the work with my good right arm. I was also wearing my shoulder brace, which was soon soaked with sweat from both my armpits.
We'd be going out this afternoon, so I needed to get the stank off me. So I took a nice hot bath using water that hadn't been much heated by the sun. This required me to run it at a trickle so that the just-in-time hot water heater could raise it to the desired temperature.
At 4:00pm, we drove through the beautiful snowy landscape (it looked like a black and white photograph) to Beacon, NY, to attend a benefit for the Dutchess County SPCA. Beacon is on the east side of the Hudson across from Newburgh, and I don't think I'd ever been there before (except passing through on the Amtrak). Though the weather forecast called for a chance of snow, we decided to risk it and take the Chevy Bolt (which isn't so great in snow). Along the way, we listened to more of Dolly Parton's new album of rock music called Rockstar. Parton's voice is still pretty solid, especially in comparison to the voices of others on the album such as Rob Halford and Elton Johhn. But Gretchen noted that she could hear Parton's dentures in her singing.
After parking in Beacon, we had some time to kill, so Gretchen wanted to go for a stroll to see what Beacon had to offer. We strolled northwestward on its Main Street through a surprisingly-long downtown, which seems bigger than any of Kingston's several downtowns. I'd been expecting something more on the scale of Woodstock, but Beacon is actually a small city, not a village. For the walk back, we crossed the street, peering into the window of a cat café (which was closed but full of cats doing whatever they do after hours) and checking out a tattoo parlor featuring a $100 gum ball machine dispensing random tattoo designs labeled "you get what you get."
The venue for the benefit was the Town Crier Café, which is a cozy place with high ceilings and big paintings of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Frank Sinatra on the wall. We'd been assigned a seat at the table with the event organizer and Dutchess County SPCA development staff. Ultimately, they would surprise us by paying for our meal, which seemed overly generous considering what little we'd be contributing. Gretchen had been asked to read her poem about our old dog Eleanor, whom we adopted from the Dutchess County SPCA shelter back in 2003, and onto this it was somehow decided that I should introduce Gretchen's poem by telling an uplifting story about Eleanor. So I'd put something together to maybe read. But then while others were telling their uplifting stories, additional points occurred to me, which I penciled onto the printout I'd brought. I wanted to tell the backstory of how me moved up from the City to a bigger place and then thought we should add a second dog to our family. I also wanted to mention that Eleanor had been found in Lagrangeville, NY. Finally, I also wanted to tell the story of the time Eleanor found Ray & Nancy's by-then-somewhat-senile dog Suzy after she got lost down a steep slope near the far end of the Stick Trail. By this point I was drinking a glass of red Montepulchiano wine, hoping to overcome any nervousness I would have telling my story, as I hadn't done any such public performance in many years. Our appetizers had also arrived: a Cuban black bean soup for me and some tofu "wings" for Gretchen. Both were hopelessly bland and I would never order them again.
When it came time for me to tell our story, we were both introduced by Maya, the host, as a unit. So I came to the microphone and said that I was Gretchen and proceeded to tell my story. I kept the notes handy to be sure I was covering the points I wanted to, but I didn't really read anything. Interestingly, I performing this in front of about two dozen people didn't make me nervous at all. Then Gretchen read her poem as well as another about Marie the Cat. She kicked herself afterwards for not reading a poem about a chicken, which might've gotten some of the chicken-ordering members of the audience thinking vegan (or at least vegetarian) thoughts.
After that, my main course had arrived. It was a Beyond Burger that I'd had put on a non-gluten-free-bun (by default, vegans are lumped in with the gluten-free at the Town Crier, but I don't want to be denied gluten in this situation). The burger was okay and the french fries were pretty good. But Gretchen's Asian noodle dish was insipid and uninspired.
Not knowing our meal would be paid for, Gretchen gave the SPCA a $100 donation from my unemployment cash card during the intermission. And then Joy Askew, a musician we know from other animal-rights artistic collaborations, performed a set of eight of her songs. It was just her singing and playing either a piano or a guitar. She has a great voice and a talent for interesting chords and chord changes.
We listened to the rest of Dolly Parton's Rock Star on the way home, with her nearly-eleven-minute-long "Freebird" collaboration with Lynard Skynard ending half-way up Dug Hill Road.

Me telling my Eleanor story at the Town Crier this evening.

Joy Askew at the Town Crier this evening. Click to enlarge.

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