memorial in Poughkeepsie
Wednesday, December 17 2014
Some years back, Gretchen attended a show at KMOCA where art created by residents of a place called AbilitiesFirst was given a showing. The clients at AbilitiesFirst generally have both developmental challenges and a history of problems with substance abuse. Gretchen had been particularly attracted to the work of a gentleman named Angel Silvestre, and she'd bought two of his works. One was a framed painting of a dog set amid butterflies, plants, and birds done, and the other was a smallish cabinet complete with hinged doors bearing similar illustrations (including a mouse loitering near a natural hole in the wood). Characteristic of Angel's work, the outlines and major internal lines of his plants and creatures are defined by either lines or lines of dots burned into the wood. Often Angel used stencils to get his shapes right, though my favorite of his creatures and plants are the wonky ones that sprang directly out of his head. These resemble the drawings of children, and are usually arranged with a natural eye for composition.
A week or so ago, Gretchen learned that Angel had died (of lung cancer, we learned later). Today was to be the day of his memorial, which Gretchen wanted to attend. It would be held down in Poughkeepsie, and Gretchen wanted me to come. Yesterday we'd done some googling and found the perfect place to eat and even a dog park in the greater Poughkeepsie area. So at around 10:00AM, Gretchen, Eleanor, Ramona, and I all climbed into the Prius and drove to Poughkeepsie. For some reason we crossed the Hudson on the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge and drove south via route 9G.
Poughkeepsie has a distinctive look about it. It's a city of beautiful Victorian and even Craftsman houses set on rolling hills, but as one drives on its streets there's a feeling of dreariness and even dread. Perhaps this is because of the subtle shabbiness of everything, or perhaps it's ca consequence of the ugliness of the city's name, which is an ugly Native American word that was somehow made uglier by the Dutch. Despite all it has going for it (the commuter rail line, the Hudson River — including a walkway across it, and at least two colleges), Poughkeepsie is subtly accursed.
AbilitiesFirst is situated on a small campus, and we arrived late to Angel's memorial, which was taking place in the "Art Barn." A gentleman who seemed to be one of the AbilitiesFirst clients was standing in front of the assembled, sharing his memories. Others, some of them clients, others employees, did the same. There was a tendency among the other clients to describe Angel as now being in Heaven or otherwise "with God," while employees tended to speak more about Angel's determinedness (or "fierceness") at pursuing his art, even to the point of walking seven miles to AbilitiesFirst after moving to an apartment in LaGrange. The most well-dressed man in the room was evidently some sort of religious figure, and he closed the memorial with a Christian prayer, which is probably how Angel would have wanted it.
Many of Angel's paintings were there on the wall of the Art Barn, and after the memorial, we selected some to buy. You couldn't argue with the prices, which ranged from $8 to $25. We bought over $120 worth of stuff, favoring the works that had been drawn freehand (as opposed to using a stencil). His later works tended to focus on the ugliness of the urban environment, depicting scruffy dogs and unfashionable humans making their way across landscapes of rectangular buildings belching smoke into wood-colored skies.
From the memorial, we drove eastward across Poughkeepsie to the See Spot Run Dog Park (41.689282N, 73.867199W), which is technically in LaGrange. (It bears mentioning that the earliest story we have about Eleanor was that, back in early 2003, she was found wandering around in the IGA parking lot in LaGrange — though I cannot find any place currently matching that description on Google Maps.) The dog park was situated in a suburban park consisting of large open fields, some forest down along Wappinger Creek, and a number of ponds. The dog park itself lay on an island whose shoreline was completely fenced so as to prevent swimming dogs from escaping. Technically, it wasn't actually an island because it was connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway that led to a airlock-style system of gates. A couple very enthusiastic Shelties greeted us at the gate, and though initially they seemed threatening, that was just their way of expressing excitement. One of them proceeded to bark at us the whole time we were on the island. The ground was muddy and they were both filthy. It was a good day to be walking shorthaired dogs at See Spot Run. The person who was there with the Shelties was a wide older man who looked like he'd stepped out of a Bruce Eric Kaplan cartoon (as seen in the New Yorker). There wasn't really enough land to give a dog a good walk on the fenced island, so after we left it, we ignored all the signs telling us that offleash dogs were entirely restricted to the dog park and walked them in a strip between the forest and the system of ponds that included the dog park. This gave our dogs a chance to drink out of Wappinger Creek.
Yesterday, Gretchen had had difficulty finding us a place to eat on Happy Cow, the vegan-friendly restaurant search engine. But searching for Mexican food had found us a seemingly-great place called Twisted Soul featuring Latin American, Thai, and even Ethiopian-influenced fusion dishes, many of which contained tofu or tempeh. So that was where we went for lunch. Gretchen and I split a series of things: Ethiopian BBQ Grilled Tofu "Columbian Style Arepas," an udon noodle bowl, an order of chick pea fries (though the dipping sauce wasn't vegan; I ate it anyway), and some sweet potato dumplings, which we ate with a big pitcher of some sort of fruity wine beverage. The only miss in all of that was the sweet potato dumplings, which it would only be fair for Gretchen to judge (I hate sweet potatoes). But she didn't like them either. Out waitress had never heard of Happy Cow, so Gretchen told her all about it.
We drove back home on the west side of the Hudson, crossing over the bridge to Highland and going north on 9W. As we approached Port Ewin, Gretchen navigated me westward on Route 24, a road I'd never driven on before. It's very windy as it traverses the highlands that include Shaupeneak and other surprisingly-steep mountains immediately south of Kingston. More surprising than the existence of a road across these highlands was how heavily populated it is. Route 24 is basically a strip of suburbia extending from 9W to Route 213, though it's hard to imagine why so many people would choose to live in such a remote area. The area is called St. Remy, and it has a fire station, but otherwise it appears to be entirely residential.
Back home, I continued work on my ongoing Hackintosh project. I found that most of my problems with booting a fresh install of Yosemite (the latest version of OSX) went away once I'd abandoned the ATI-based video card I'd been trying to use and just used the crappy onboard Intel video. Doing so was not a long-term solution; the ultimate application of this particular Hackintosh would require two screens, something the onboard video could not supply. But it was progress; it meant I could play around with kexts (kernel extensions) in an attempt to get the ethernet and other onboard peripherals to work. In so doing, I found that an Nvidia video card was somewhat compatible with OSX. Still, I kept running into a problem where the USB stick I'd used to install the OS could successfully boot the computer to the desktop, but the installed OS on the hard drive always died with a black screen at some point. In an attempt to remedy this, I reinstalled the OS numerous times, always applying MultiBeast (the post-installation utility) slightly differently each time in hopes of getting it to boot completely. It was frustrating, but for some reason I kept at it (when what I probably should have done was given up installed Windows 7, which I prefer anyway).
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