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:
   kayak in a pond near the Hudson
Sunday, July 13 2014
I did another, larger handtruck-based retrieval of firewood from my cache of oak cores west of the Farm Road, again it overturned multiple times on the way home. Still, much greater loads can be carried on a handtruck than on a backpack, and if I take a little time to even out the terrain of the makeshift "Terrace Trail" (as I think I'll call it), it could be a very useful avenue for firewood recovery. The forest it passes through is unusually rich in fallen (as well as standing) dead oak cores, something I've long exploited for its value as a source of just in time firewood.
Back at the house, I strapped one of our Oru kayaks (the one that is already unfolded and ready to use) to the roof of the Subaru and loaded the other one (still in its box) into the back. Then Gretchen and I drove over to Sarah the Vegan's house over near the Hudson (a little south of Route 199). Sarah had made us another lunch, this one being sort of an Afghan thing, with a main dish of rice, lentils, and caramelized onions, flatbread, green beans, and a number of great condiments including red sauerkraut and a hot sauce that looked like tomato paste (but contained no tomatoes). Gretchen and Sarah often talk exclusively about the logistics of food preparation for long stretches, and this makes my eyes glaze over every time. But at some point during our meal the subject changed to "dignity of dying." Sarah has obviously thought about this at some length and would like to have a plan for ending her life if it became too unbearable to go on (as would anyone with any sense). Unfortunately for Sarah, though, she doesn't have enough basic awareness of materials and gadgets to have come up with an effective solution to the problem of a lingering death. She asked me if dropping a hair dryer into her bath would be a good way to end it all. I've actually seen a Mythbusters episode where the lethality of this scenario was tested, and while it is possible, it would require doing too many things correctly. In general, I told Sarah, electrocution isn't a reliable way to end it all. Then I told her about the preferred method of the Hemlock Society, which is to put a bag over your head and connect it to a tube supplying helium from a tank that can be bought at any party supply store. Supposedly that is a painless way to go, with the only downside being that your corpse will end up very blue. I'm sure even Sarah could pull it off.
As the conversation drifted back to less-interesting topics, I took the kayak off the roof of the car and went for a paddle around the pond (I didn't want my maiden voyage in that thing to be the Hudson itself). It's a big pond, with at least two different sections. There was even a mother duck with a bunch of half-grown ducklings to terrorize (not that that was my goal). After I'd gone, Gretchen went, and then Sarah took it for a spin. I thought the kayak performed well, though the seat was a little uncomfortable on my lower back, so I will probably have to make further adjustments. It might be enough to just wear a life preserver, something I should do if I paddle out into the Hudson.
After the ladies were done with their paddling, they sat on the dock and mostly talked about the groundskeeper for the estate that includes Sarah's little house. Evidently he's something of a dirty old man. He keeps trying to get Sarah to go swimming and makes sexually-charged remarks. When, for example, Sarah told him to not do something until later in the day because she would be sleeping late, he asked if she would also be "in bed" when he came by later. Sarah feels understandably uncomfortable about this behavior; the groundskeeper is an older married man, and she's picky to the point of asexuality even with nice guys who aren't in relationships. So far Sarah's way of dealing with the groundskeeper's sexually-loaded innuendo has been to tell him she doesn't want to do anything that would make his wife uncomfortable, but as Gretchen pointed out, the groundskeeper could interpret that to mean Sarah would be interested if only his wife were out of the picture (or wouldn't find out). Gretchen then told the story of the creepy Jewish studies professor back in Oberlin who kept making her uncomfortable that time they attended a conference together in Halifax, Nova Scotia (or was it St. John, New Brunswick?).

On the drive back home, we had to take Hurley Mountain Road from Route 28 again, as there is still no bridge across the Esopus on Wynkoop. Gretchen had been noticing the existence of a farm stand at 41.939119N, 74.071326W, so we stopped there and were delighted to see that there were organic vegetables on offer: peas, lettuce, squash, kohlrabi, raddishes, etc. There was a sign about how soon there would also be ice cream available, so when Gretchen filled out our self-serve account of what we'd bought, she wrote a whole paragraph about why she was disappointed they would be offering dairy products. In her, the evangelical never rests. There were also baby ducks there in a pen and dozens of assorted free range chickens (sometimes you have to be careful not to hit them as they cross Hurley Mountain Road), though there were no eggs for sale.

It was good we got in our kayak adventure, modest though it was, when we did, because later this evening the sky opened up and rain poured down in great torrents (as has been the pattern of late, with the exception of the last couple nights). There has been so much rain this summer that I haven't had to water the garden at all.

We're going to be having another party at our house to introduce our friends Susan and David (who recently bought that beautiful place near Woodstock) to our social group, and Gretchen suggsted I make fava bean tempeh for her to use in making a funky dip. So this morning I'd started fava beans soaking in water and by this evening the skins were loose enough for me to peal them off (it's not necessary, but I think the result is better if I do). Late tonight, I finished preparing the batch (using all the steps outlined on the web page that tells how to do it; I had to use Gretchen's smartphone to get to that page because the weather had rendered our DSL unusable). But instead of putting he bagged inoculated beans above the tea pot in the laboratory to incubate, I used a new device Gretchen had bought called a "proofer." It's a box that can hold a set temperature while whatever place inside it does what it needs to do in those conditions.

Gretchen took a picture of me in the Oru kayak today as I paddled around Sarah's pond. Click to enlarge.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next