I should mention that for the Gathering, moxie_man cooked. Quite a bit, in fact. Not just Whoopie Pies, but pretty much everything which wasn't simply unwrapping stockpiled Tim Tams that were greedily devoured by us folks who've had to live without them. (They're being sold as a seasonal item by Pepperidge Farm, in the United States, because Pepperidge Farm wants to make all the other seasons of the year noticeably worse.) He did a splendid job and showed a broader range in one weekend than I have in the past decade. Ask sometime about my set of special recipes.
In fact one of our side visits on Friday still was to the local, highly energy-efficient, and controversial Hannaford's supermarket, which was another little touch of old home. Back in grad school I relied on Hannaford's almost exclusively even though the most convenient one was (in my pre-car days) at the far end of an hourlong bus ride, since the alternative was Price Chopper, and I had more than one mold issue in food from them. No such issues in Hannaford at all, or in this one, which included some of the newest energy-conservation technology such as skylights which allow this ``daytime'' thing to provide partial lighting.
The goal was getting supplies for chili, so while we spent a fair time looking around fresh vegetables (spiced and un-spiced) we didn't go exploring the entirety of the store, which was built on a sacred educational burial ground. It still commands a grand view of the high school in the adjacent lot, 450 feet downhill, and the field left as a wildlife preserve near that.
It would be easy to say that when malloc1024 arrived it changed the tone of the visit, although it didn't actually. Oh, having another person there to talk meant some of the burden on me to be interesting was relieved, and actually I was able to fall into a more natural mode for me of listening reasonably attentively, thinking of the occasional funny comment, and finding that by the time I could assemble a thought and work up the energy to express it then the moment would have moved on, so I could just continue being a good listener.
But he also made me notice my potentially great gracelessness: he'd brought a charming small gift for me (we've known one another for something like a decade) --- a little (spaceflight) Ground Ops coffee cup just the right size for bunny_hugger's puppet Chitter squirrel to hold and look natural at --- and I didn't think to bring anything, even for our hosts. I'm grateful, certainly, and just a little embarrassed that I couldn't return in kind. Somewhere along the lines, too, was taken out a talking Conker (from the video game Conker's Bad Fur Day) doll, which had a small but entertaining set of phrases, and he was posed for pictures with Chitter.
It was also around here that I had my first head-whacking incident on the frightfully low stairwell. This wasn't on going downstairs, where the factorial-duck sign was visible, but on going upstairs. Since this was at the start of the stairs I was still at low speeds, but I did mean to keep count of how often I got my head hit. moxie_man sought out his hard hat. Mine's in the storage locker (and probably of dubious value due to advanced age).
And malloc1024 did bring something else: the gift of unspeakably awful movies. Watched on Friday night would be Zardoz, which has the wonderful virtue of movie badness of not being dull, and of having a lot of striking scenes, not all of which you have to claw your eyes out of their sockets to escape. He professes himself to be on a mission to make sure everyone in the world has seen Zardoz. We all took delight in how the movie somehow manages to have a routine post-apocalyptic dystopia plot and still leave out enough of the story to be incoherent, and to try figuring out what secret message is supposed to be meant in the costuming. (``Rhoda Morgenstern is I Dream Of Jeannie.'') Sean Connery's presence kept throwing bunny_hugger out of the belief in his character; I was more thrown out by Sean Connery's unfortunate choice of moustache, which conflicts badly with his costume. He achieves a sort of 70s-porn-star/Mexican-Revolutionary-Flee
For Saturday night his movie offering was Jabberwocky, Terry Gilliam's 1977 movie loosely following the story. This was to my tastes a rather fun, funny movie, although at the time we actually watched it I was shockingly tired and nodding off enough that I doubt I could give a coherent explanation of what was going on. (This may be a flaw of the original movie, too, which wears its Monty Python connection pretty heavily, to the extent there are segments which you could almost pass off as scraps left over from Holy Grail.)
I'd brought some awful movies myself, naturally, although what we actually watched Friday night was a couple episodes of the Superfriends. Unfortunately I somehow failed to bring the disc where the Wonder Twins are outwitted by a roller coaster, and some other high points in Superfriends-assisted lunkheadedness. But the other disc of that set included some grand high lunacy, including one in which Superman discovers an ancient sealed capsule with writing warning about the contents being sealed for ``crimes against the Galaxy'', and cracks it open immediately, leading ultimately to a reminder that Wonder Woman's Magic Lasso includes powers of dom/sub games; and another in which Superman and Batman travel to a parallel world where ... uh ... and there's Superfrog and ... Superman gets turned into an eagle and ... then ... there's ... and Batman thinks Superman looked good as an eagle ... and ... ... Well, and then there's a really confused one about a cartoon writer who gets hit by lightning and turns into the vaguely defined monster of his TV series. I need to get back to reviewing these adventures.
Saturday brought out another visitor, who I don't think has a Livejournal presence, and who --- after some debate on the subject --- went back to the hotel to bring her dog, an eager little critter whose presence made the cats vanish into Cat Hyperspace. The cats were not having a good weekend, although it did provide for plenty of conversation points about the various personality disorders of cats we knew.
Saturday's major centerpieces were to be having a proper cookout, with moxie_man tending the main grill and the auxiliary backup grill, and he seemed extremely glad for the chance. I don't think the backup grill was necessary from space considerations, but having the second allowed for the separation of strictly-vegetarian items from those that were meat-based. bunny_hugger isn't strictly-vegetarian enough to be worried about cross-contamination from shared cooking surfaces (and while I try to eat vegetarian particularly around her I don't even come remotely near worrying), but the thought was most kind. And maybe it was practical too, as between hamburgers, veggie-burgers, hot dogs, vegetable skewers, and all that maybe his main grill might have been an organizational challenge anyway.
A cookout needs a proper setting too, and panacea1 and moxie_man have a great one, an in-ground pool which commands a beautiful view of the adjacent lots, 650 and 800 feet down respectively. It's not a deep pool, however, the previous owners having apparently dug about five feet down. Apparently their theory was Maine summers are just about long enough for one to wade five feet into the water, so that's all the pool one needs. It had been a warm week --- part of what made Thursday so productively foggy --- and the use of a sun cover had retained much of the heat for the water.
But Friday and Saturday were cooler days, and much dryer, with the result that by Saturday afternoon the water was ... to call it chilly would be wrong. It wasn't very warm or hot, but, it was probably somewhere in the upper 70s. Perfectly swimmable and comfortable. Well, almost comfortable. I'm still rebuilding my skills at handling cold after losing all that weight; this very slightly cool water left me covered with goose bumps severe enough that I believe everyone asked, a couple times over, whether I was actually comfortable. And I tried to carry on that yes, I was comfortable, just getting used to the water. I did get more comfortable, but eventually came around to thinking I'd be more comfortable still out of the water.
One of the neighborhood cats poked into the yard; as I understand it the theory is she believes the swimming pool to be her own, slightly large, water dish. She saw the foreign dog present, and retreated, although maybe twenty minutes later she came back to give us the chance to apologize for the dog's presence.
There was also a moment of drama when the non-Livejournal guest, the one who brought the dog, accidentally tripped on the pavement. I thought initially she was taking a playfully comic fall, but she did actually scrape her knee in that nasty-looking way that only scraped knees can look. This set moxie_man almost a-quiver with energy, as he is (among other things) a Scoutmaster. The chance to deploy a little first aid in his own backyard, well, how could he resist?
She resisted, at first, insisting that the scraping was not as bad as it appeared, although it continued to subtly bleed even after being wiped clean. So she yielded and, within seconds, moxie_man was back with a cloth to clean the wound, another with a cream of some kind, a bandage, a gauze wrapping to keep the bandage in place, a splint just in case, a small but functional helicopter assembled out of twigs and branches, a solar match constructed by polishing the base of a can of soda to ignite the helicopter engine fuel, a spark gap transmitter to radio the local emergency services ... well, she was in good shape pretty swiftly.
And so the day rambled on, with bits of food, moments of the cats noticing to their annoyance that the dog continued to exist and we weren't even doing anything about it, and the free-flowing and impossible-to-detangle conversational thread. That one roamed over subjects like malloc1024's storied career, or the hazards of cross-country cat driving, or poring over a detailed map of Maine looking for comically named towns (all of them) or empty space (approximately 97 percent of the state, which is larger than the rest of New England and Ontario put together, has been surrendered to tactically deployed squadrons of moose), or comments about how it would be possible to see the Moxie museum (which I'd have been up for, given the time), or looking over panacea1 and moxie_man's photo albums, or pondering curiosities like how Maine's border with New Hampshire is actually two degrees west of running due north. (Mark Stein's book claims the border is slanted because a line running due north-south on some projections will look crooked so one that's not crooked will look right, an explanation which is perfectly satisfying except when you actually listen to it.)
In the evening, bunny_hugger excused herself from the table quietly enough I didn't notice she had left for more than a few minutes, and reappeared only when she had put on the bunny ears, paws, and feet. In costume she attracted a fresh round of comments about her wonderful appearance, and she posed for fresh pictures in costume, herself and with Chitter clutching his coffee cup. The evening was like that.
Trivia: The laser altimeter on Apollo 17's Scientific Instrument Module took 3,769 altitude measurements. Source: Apollo 17: The NASA Mission Reports, Volume 2, Editor Robert Godwin.
Currently Reading: The Affluent Society, John Kenneth Galbraith.