Monday, September 04, 2006

Took the long train up to Rhinebeck (I think?) to Tim and Cathy's yesterday. Didn't notice this when I sat on the train but the window in my cars had cataracts--a grainy, grayish film over almost every single window in the car. (See, when you board the train at Grand Central, the windows on the Hudson river-side of the train look out on nothing--just the vacant, unlit, cavernous tracks in GC. So, as you could see, I couldn't tell. Exactly.) So the first forty-five minutes of the ride were not nearly all they could be.

A few stops in, a passenger got up from the opposite, non-river of the car and I slid quickly into that seat: the window-cataracts were considerable but not quite so advanced on this side of the train. So I made due and stared at the greenness, the tiny houses stacked up against tracks, the occasional vista of wooded and authoritative hills with a large house perched like a pigeon. Another 30 minutes and we hit Beacon and a window that had received partial treatment for it's vision problems opened up on the OTHER side of the train. So I switched back and could finally see what I need to see: river, boats, bridges, white long-necked water fowl.

(I noticed all of the self-consciously arty-looking people--people in t-shirts with bearing cryptic logos and slogans, people with entertaining haircuts and facial hair, people with odd wee hats--exited the train at Beacon, most likely for Dia. While I have some misgivings about my chosen "career" as an artist, I've long made a concerted effort not to wear it is such a mannered style. I've never cared for that kind of display, the one that instantly tells the world what the person is: I'm "punk" or I'm a "dyke" or I'm "hardcore" or I'm an "artist"; it's funny, too, because the people who impose those kind of uniforms on themselves are also the one who do the most bitching about being judged or marginalized and/or stereotyped. If I dressed up every day in a gray Civil War costume, groomed and displayed the ubiquitous Ken Burns-documentary whiskers, shot Yankees with a musket, and died of cholera before the age of 30, I think I could understand people assuming a few things about me.)

Arrived at Poughkeepsie in the early afternoon. I quick run to the liquor store, and another stop at the worlds most confusing grocery store. (I can't remember the name but it seemed to be a regional chain and the name started with "a".) There was no standard arrangement of aisles: you would find bread in one aisle and then in another aisle as well, the deli was nowhere near the meat market, the frozen foods were spread out in three different areas, there where two separate areas for checkout. A totally confusing, food-filled labyrinth. I kept expecting to see Theseus battling the minotaur near the canned goods.

Away from Minos Market and up into the hills. Pulled in and was greeted my Tim and Sonny, my replacement dog. (Sonny's no T, but he's a mighty fine dog: tall and lean, a dignified old gent with a decade plus behind him, a mutt with a heavy dose of Collie. Many relentless sticks and frisbees were thrown over the weekend, many haunches were pushed and ribcages thumped and necks roughly scratched. Man, I miss T.) Dinner was fish prepared in a Mexican style with blueberry/white peach pie for dessert. Beers and margaritas, some board games and gin rummy. (I laid waste in gin rummy. I have always followed a strict scorched-earth policy when I play.) I slipped out of the house around 10 pm and the skies had cleared; I dragged a lawnchair over into one of the clear areas on the property and spent a half-an-hour just looking up. Sonny kept banging his frisbee against the arm of the chair until it sunk in that I wasn't going to respond. Then the just harrumphed down in the dewy grass and kept me company.

Asleep at 2 am. Up at 8:00. The night was the perfect degree of cool. It wasn't cold but three blanket were welcome. I finished off the cold, oily coffee from the night before and took a walk up along the ridge under the power lines. I miss these kinds of walks. I used to get my fill when I still lived in Chicago and returned to Indiana frequently; no longer. The rhythm was steady. Up the hill, down the hill on a two-tracked dirt path. On the ascent, I walked past the outcroppings of sharp, flaky shale bearded with yellow grass and ferns. On these hills stood the huge pylons which supported the powerlines. Often I would hear a crackling and buzzing sound which I attributed to insects until I stopped dead and tilted an ear upward: the powerlines were making that noise which was a little disturbing. I would spot the odd rabbit in the grass, or a mantis or giant millipede (see photo), or a hawk lurking on the pylon. Down the same path into a marshy area with serried stands of cattails and ranks of squat sumac. In these marshes, the dirt tracks often held pools of water from small streams crossing the valley. The dirt softened to mud and dozens of tiny brown-and-gold frogs shot into the water when I approached. (Okay, maybe they're toads. What do I look like, a herpetologist. Jesus.) I actually managed to catch one frog and take a picture. I also managed to catch and handle a whip-thin, hornet colored garter snake. (No photo. Sorry.) Walked this way for two or three miles--stirring up a perpetual cloud of butterflies and grasshoppers as I went--before turning and heading back to the house.

Burgers and potato salad for lunch with roasted corn. God Bless America. Tim downloaded some stuff from my iPod and gave me some Albert Ayler.

The train ride back was uneventful if crowded. Got a good seat next to an window without cataract. Listened to music but nothing to mention.

Tomorrow: work. Teddy's opening after work.

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