This Otter Creek Copper Ale’s For You

Here’s to the very studly, manly, husbandly, etc. etc. etc. Timothy J. Riss, who undertook yesterday, and i mean NOT at knifepoint, to fix the broken light-chain on our bedroom’s fan/light. And with very little help from his wife, said Timothy DID IT! He DID IT despite directions printed out from the Web that made it not at all clear that the “switch” that had to be replaced, as part of that operation, is a little plastic device that actually contains the first few “nuggets” of the chain within itself. And that those nuggets continue for a few inches outside of the switch, so that you can poke your new chain into the … uh … the …

(What is the word for those little “nuggets” that make up a pull-chain,  anyway? There must be a word for them. And what’s the word for the great BIG nugget at the end of every such chain — you know, the one that you can poke a little nugget inside of, to extend the length of the chain? i bet there’s a word for that, that only electricians know.)

Anyway, Tim figured it all out and, after a quick trip to our local electrical-supply shop and with some very studly and manly and husbandly holding-up of his arms, fully extended, above his head, while i did things like, oh, run and get the ladder, because this standing-on-the-bed just wasn’t working, he managed to get the old light-switch housing off, the new one on, and the light working like a charm again.

Just thinking about it makes me want to go the kitchen for another Otter Creek Copper Ale, to toast my hero. And so i shall.

Oh, yes He does

i was speaking with my friend Nancy on the phone the other day; her husband, Bob, has cancer that’s spreading and, if his current treatment doesn’t turn things around dramatically for him, the docs say he’ll live just six months more.

Nancy said she doesn’t even know how to begin talking to people about this, for many reasons, one of which is, everybody ends up uttering, with the best of intentions certainly, one or both of two extremely stupid conversation-stoppers:

1. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Oh, yes, He does; He sure as hell does. He does that every goddamn day. i personally know about 20,000 people who’ve got more than they can handle. Most of the black families in Newburgh have more than they can handle, and most of the Hispanic families, too. People break under their loads all the time. Today alone, we buried three children under 6, all in the same family, who died along with their young mother when she loaded them all into her minivan the night of April 12 and drove herself and them into the Hudson River. One kid, 10 years old, escaped by swimming out a window, making his way to shore and flagging down a passing car. But his three siblings died along with their mom. Two weird details Record reporter Doyle Murphy told me that  i will never forget: She buckled all their seatbelts before committing this murder/suicide. (Did she want her babies not to get hurt in an accident on her way to the river?) Also: when the cops pulled the van from the Hudson, its transmission was in reverse. Maybe she, too late, had second thoughts about the whole thing? Anyway, there was a woman with more than she could handle.

2. “Everything happens for a reason.” Yeah? What reason would that be? And by the way: So what?!?! If you ever think of saying that to someone who’s got more than she can handle, gentle readers, here’s what to do instead: SHUT UP.  Just say to yourself : “You know what? This right here is probably the perfect moment for me to SHUT THE FUCK UP.” And then go and tell someone you love him … and mean it.

The Teutels, the Pattons, the Morrisons, the Clarks and the Weeds

You’ve been by it a million times, but never stopped in.
Why not? Because you’re zipping past in your car and the shoulder of the road is only about a foot wide and by the time you see it it’s too late to turn into Orange County Choppers, whose parking lot is next door to it, that’s why!
And then you’re zooming on an overpass over the Thruway looking down momentarily at the long line of stopped cars and wondering where the accident was and how far it’s backed up, and now here’s the big intersection with Rt. 300 and what was it you needed at Adams Fairacre Farms?
Anyway, what you missed was a little cemetery of maybe 20 or so graves, scattered on a hill one side of which runs along Rt. 17K in the Town of Newburgh.
NOBODY walks there. It’s one of those horrible places in this country where, if a cop saw you walking, she wouldn’t be terribly out of line to stop and ask you what’s up.
But today Tim and i parked our car at Pier 1 at 17K and 300 and walked — deliberately WALKED — up and over the “grassy knoll,” as they say in Dallas, and onto the shoulder of 17K, specifically to take a look at that cemetery. It’s only 5 minutes west, by sneaker-power.
When we pulled even with the nice old stone wall that surrounds it, we were several feet lower than the few obelisk-type markers and the more numerous, falling-down headstones at the top of that hill on our left. We ducked into that weird, nobody-owns-this, pasture-looking space and climbed up to the wall, which conveniently had a broken section that we could easily step through.
The grander obelisks mark the graves of William Patton and his siblings and descendants; among them, sadly, were several markers for infants and young children.
The oldest markers are for people born in the 1700s; the most recently deceased died in 1866, if i remember correctly.
The Pattons (wonder if they were related to the general?) dominate the top of the hill, but some Clarks, who seem to have married into the Patton family, are nearby.
If you continue walking west, a few yards beyond the Pattons, you start downhill. (Your ankles also may start downhill, if you break them in one of the many, many chuck-holes in that cemetery!) On the slope are a family of Morrisons, who also seem to be the Pattons’ in-laws. Farther downhill still, in the weeds … are the Weeds. They must also have been family. Tim pointed out the special “surveyors’ stones” that mark the edges of the sections that are reserved for each family; we saw the same kind of thing in the Snake Hill Cemetery that our synagogue owns.
The headstones get smaller and smaller as you get farther from the Pattons towering above you. When you reach the westernmost edge of the cemetery, you are at the bottom of the hill and about to step over the broken rock wall and onto Orr Road, home of the Orange County “transfer station,” the less-stinky word for “the dump where you pay to drop off your junk.”
i bet Mary McTamaney, my friend and Newburgh city historian, would know who these Pattons, Morrisons, Clarks and Weeds were, or else she’d  know how to find out.
 I’d say the cemetery runs for no more than 40 yards along Rt. 17K, and is about 40 feet wide. If you climbed over the south side of that low rock wall, you could walk down a long, steep, grassy hill to Orange County Choppers.
But me, i’d rather be dead.