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:
   bluestone backpack
Wednesday, July 16 2008
The phoebe nest atop the light fixture that lights up the east deck is host to its second brood of the season. That first brood had been three or perhaps four in number. This second brood had at least four phoeblets. Today I saw that one of the babies had fallen out of the nest and was nearby on the edge of the lamp. From there he fell a second time, to the trim above the laundry room door. I thought he was too young to fly, but then he surprised me and executed an accurate flight to the east deck's north rail, where he stood in the full glare of the sun, panting. He was nearly full-sized, but the corners of his beaked mouth were still flared out and yellow, a characteristic of young songbirds. One of this phoebe's parents passed by after visiting his siblings in the nest and, on seeing him, hovered over his head briefly (like kingfishers and hummingbirds, flycatchers such as the phoebe can hover in place) and then flew off. At that point the little guy flew down into the woods and vanished. I'd like to think his parents continued to care for him there. There certainly didn't appear to be any room for him back in the nest even if he had the strength to return.
Accounting for my several experiences using various methods to carry bluestone, today I built myself a special rig for carrying arbitrarily-large flagstones on my back. It was comprised of a wide I-shaped wooden frame (I with serifs) with shoulder straps made from old seat belts (salvaged from the totaled hatchback). On the back of the frame, I screwed in six large eyebolts. The idea here was to provide ample places to lash rope. I tried the frame on my back and it wasn't too unpleasant given that it had only taken fifteen minutes to assemble. I chiseled and sanded away a spot where wood was cutting into my spine and eventually set out to gather bluestone.

The dimensions for this bluestone hauler is 30 inches wide by 24 inches tall, which makes a fairly good fit for my body (the lower beam sits just above my ass and is supported by it somewhat). I am five foot ten, though my toro is a little on the long side.

As I had a few days ago, I brought along a beer to enjoy at the mine before beginning the homeward schlep. I also brought my MP3 player, and I was listening to "Suffer the Masses" by Flotsam and Jetsam when, over the heavy metal thrum in my head, I heard a yelp off in the woods. I looked up to see Sally shaking something, trying to break its neck. It was a small woodchuck. Eleanor was standing nearby, watching more than participating. I ran up and somehow got Sally to drop the unfortunate rodent. She had had a lot of time with it, and it was obviously severely injured. It lay there for about twenty seconds, made a weak effort to crawl, rolled somewhat sideways and then just ground to a halt. The woodchuck was still breathing, but was unresponsive when I poked it with a stick. I tried to get Sally away from the now-comatose creature but she circled around soon enough and I could see her in the distance shaking it again. It was just as well that she kill it completely at this point. Eleanor, by contrast, seemed traumatized by my horror and stuck closely with me all the way to the bluestone mine and then back to the house.
At the mine I found a large, thin slab of bluestone that weighed perhaps fifty pounds. It would have been too large to carry in a backpack and too heavy to carry a third of a mile in my arms, but strapped to my frame (with a few additional smaller flagstones as well), I had no difficulty carrying it on my back. Weighed down with perhaps eighty pounds of stone, the frame cut a bit into my shoulders, but it wasn't anything I couldn't take for the distance I needed to walk. I was actually comfortable enough to drink the rest of my beer as I walked. It may have some bearing on this story that I was completely barefoot as well.

Today Gretchen rented a Rug Doctor carpet steaming machine because she's tired of catching traces of cat urine whenever she stretches out on the floor. It's difficult to keep carpets acceptably clean when you have seven animals. They know enough to use their litter boxes or go outside, but over the course of five years plenty vomitting and other accidents happen, and we've had guest dogs who weren't especially housebroken. Tonight I spent hours pulling that steamer machine across the floor, though I can't say I was all that impressed by the results. It didn't do much for the stains, and all that water seemed to be not so much washing away the odors as bringing them to the surface and making the carpet smell like a cross between a moldy dishrag and a horse barn.

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