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
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   freshly-painted neglect
Tuesday, September 24 2002

setting: Saugerties, New York

This morning after a pleasant morning coffee on Katie's back patio (marred only slightly by autumnal chill and occasional whiffs of sewer gas), Gretchen and I drove out to our new house in Hurley for the official inspection. This time we came not from the north (past the Ashokan Reservoir - one of New York City's main sources of drinking water) but from the south (from the general direction of "downtown" Hurley). For a good mile or more just before our destination, we passed through the dense, unbroken forests of Catskill State Park as we climbed a steep, winding road. And then we were there. The inspector had just concluded his work and we were just in time for him to show us the things he'd found. First, though, he gave us a rather detailed account of how he had determined the supply capacity of the well and the perk capacity of the septic field. This had involved enormous volumes of wasted water.
Overall, the house had so little wrong with it that the inspector felt the need to dwell on such trivia as the presence of more than one circuit tapping into a single circuit breaker. He also pointed out a few of aspects of the construction that seemed amateurish, particularly the mechanism of the slab heating system, a support column in the garage comprised of two parallel 2 by 4s, and a high deck out in back whose construction reminded me of things I'd seen in Tijuana.
After the inspector and our real estate agent left, Gretchen and I were left briefly with the current homeowner (who is also serving as his own real estate agent) and he allowed us to tour the house on our own and even take the blueprints with us. He also told us he'd be leaving us a whole bunch of diverse materials to help us with finishing rooms in the top floor.
After we left the house, Gretchen and I drove through the heart of "downtown" Hurley, a small village rich in ancient stone houses. It's really just a suburb of Kingston, the faded former capital of New York State, and it was there where we stopped for lunch at a cute little café specializing in bland vegetarian food. Our waitress was wearing Victoria's Secret underwear, as evidenced by the logo on the waistband protruding visibly over the front of her trousers.
The greatest thing about Kingston is just how authentically old it is. In a place like Manhattan, where the money flows under great pressure and real estate values have always been high, history seems to have begun sometime back in the mid-70s. In Kingston, though, large parts of the city seem to preserve whole swaths of their history in freshly-painted neglect. There's a graveyard in the center of town where ancient gravestones from the 17th Century can still be seen. They feature epitaphs describing people who are "deseast" and who "lyest heyre."
Excited about our new house, Gretchen wanted to stop in a hardware store to check out furnishings. We went to Lowes, mostly because she is unfamiliar with this southern megachain and was working under the delusion that it was somehow less disgusting than Home Depot. Being from rural Redneckistan, of course, I knew better. We looked at such things as gas ranges, whirlpool bathtubs and kitchen cabinets for awhile and for some reason I wasn't all that bored. I guess I'm excited about this house too.
It took a trip to Pier One Imports, a discount carpet outlet, a Honda dealership, and a Ford truck supercenter (we both need vehicles to do our part to defeat Osama Saddam) before I'd had enough.

We drove down to New Paltz in hopes of meeting up again with Kristen, but she never got back to us. So, on Melissa's recommendation, we spent a good part of the day down along the Wallkill River. Beyond a fragrant sewage treatment plant and a sprawling tapestry of community gardens was a network of riverside trails and fields, none of it developed. It was a perfect place for walking a dog off-leash, and Sally got a chance to meet a number of the New Paltz locals. Meanwhile a group of adolescents practiced shooting an air rifle on the river's opposite shore.
We tried to eat dinner in the outside patio area of the Gilded Otter brew pub, but when our waiter gave us an unnecessarily fascist reading of the dog rules, that Sally would have to be tied to pole across a street over in the parking lot, we said fuck it and left. We went to another restaurant instead, a place where the Saranac tasted pleasantly like grapefruit juice and the calamari was presented in a rubbery heap on a couple leaves of lettuce.

After driving all the way back to Brooklyn, it was my task to park Ray and Nancy's car and return their keys to them. Usually Gretchen gets this job, and now I know what I've been missing. Let me just say, parking a car on a street in Park Slope on a weekday night is one of the most miserable tasks you can expect to get. I kept driving west down 2nd Street to 6th Avenue and back east on 3rd Street to 8th Avenue and then around to Second, over and over and over again for something like a half hour. I got to the point where I'd memorized all the fire hydrants, driveways, and the odd-looking cars. Finally somewhere along 3rd Avenue I found a fresh empty space and I took it. After that ordeal, I thanked Jimmy Carter that I haven't had a car for most of the time I've lived in this town.

The attic, where I'll have my 800 square foot studio.

The outside of what will be my attic studio, where I plan to add a gable.

The front door of the Hurley house.

Sally in a huge field on the banks of the Wallkill River in New Paltz.

Sally and Gretchen.

Sally running around.

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