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:
   morsels of bolete
Friday, August 8 2008
I was down at the future site of the greenhouse again today, this time driving stakes into the ground so as to designate where its corners will be. The plan is to build a winter greenhouse, one where the only glazing will be on the south wall. The roof and the other walls will all be well-insulated and probably lack windows, though there will be a door on the west side. For glazing, I'm going to be using three pieces of double-glazed plate glass which Penny and David gave to me last year. Each of these measures six by four feet, and I'll be arranging them to form most of a fourteen foot wide southern wall. The other dimension of the greenhouse will be ten feet, meaning it will cover approximately 140 square feet of ground. I actually have plans to build a composting toilet into the structure, located in a turret on its western side, with feces dropping into a sealed bin with a built-in hand crank stirring mechanism. Crowning the turret will be an enormous birdhouse designed for Purple Martins which has been languishing in our driveway for two years.
Today, though, my goal was mostly to get the long dimension oriented so it would be orthogonal to the south. I had my Explorist 210 GPS gizmo down there, and again it was proving how completely useless it was for anything other than determining latitude and longitude. It has a compass feature, but the damn thing didn't respond when I rotated it. I would have been better off to use an actual compass (I can look up the declination on the web).
Another electronic tool I used at the greenhouse site was my metal detector. I was looking for buried cable, since I know the household electric and phone lines are buried there somewhere. I wasn't able to locate those, but I did manage to find sixty or seventy feet of fat copper cable (about 00 gauge) that the power company had discarded. (It was buried beneath leaves, grass, and even some soil.) That quantity of thick copper cable is a valuable find, what with the price of copper these days. It was the first consequential find I'd ever made with that metal detector.
Later I went to work on the Honda Civic hatchback, which, though its paperwork is finally in order, now has bad brakes. I'd decided that air must have gotten into its brake lines, so today I tried bleeding them. It should have been an easy job; the bleeder nut (at least on the left back wheel) is accessible without having to remove the wheels or jack up the car. But no, the damn nut had to break off in my 8mm socket, leaving a tiny nub. I then tried removing it with a screw extractor, but that broke off in the nub, leaving me with no options other than ripping the wheel apart. When things go wrong with cars, they can often go horribly, horribly wrong. This applies to stationary mechanical bits every bit as much as it does to paperwork and slight miscalculations of steering, braking, and observation.

As she made pizza this afternoon, Gretchen announced that unfortunately we didn't have any mushrooms. No problem, I thought, and I set out to collect some wild mushrooms along the Farm Road. Our houseguest Wendy had announced that she'd seen four or five different species there this morning. We've had a lot of rain, and there's nothing like a rainy August for putting the fun into fungi.
Wendy had indeed been correct; there were at least five species of mushroom at the place where our little stone path meets up with the Farm Road. Not only were there four or five species of mushroom, but they were all boletes, the least-risky fungi to devour. In this part of North America, the only boletes to avoid are those that bruise blue. One of the boletes here, a spectacular red-capped species, did indeed bruise blue. But at least two species of otherwise unidentified boletes were perfectly edible. I sampled them raw to see if they were too woody or bitter, but they seemed perfect. The species I collected the most of (Suillus sp.?) featured an unusually slimy cap. On some individual mushrooms, I had to drive off slugs, which seemed to be meeting all their nutritional requirements by munching holes in the spongy pore-filled spore surfaces.
I collected a fairly large amount of the edible boletes, and in the frying pan they cooked down to little slimy lumps of deliciousness. I tried to interest Gretchen in tasting one of these morsels, but she screwed up her face and claimed she couldn't, that she had some sort of deep-seated visceral problem with mushrooms that had appeared so obviously "fungal." She has no problem eating store-bought mushrooms trucked in from hundreds of miles away.
When dinnertime came, I was the only one at the table reaching for the bowl of glistening golden mushroom lumps. We'd had to keep them separate, of course, because the food one gathers in the forest is inherently suspect. But I'm so ready for the gathering post-Peak-Oil reality!

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next