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:
   notes of something having burned in a pot
Saturday, February 7 2015

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York

Though it was our Saturday morning coffee-drinking day, we'd had so much caffeine on our recent trip that we decided to drink decaf instead of the usual. At some point I went out and replaced the alternator on the Subaru, which is one of the easiest repair tasks one can do on our particular model. In my mind I contrasted this with the times I've had to replace a generator on a classic Volkswagen Beetle, which is a much more difficult job, though it's also one I once did in a foot of snow with temperatures in the 20s, just like today (that would have been back in late 1994 or early 1995 after an ill-fated drive to Oberlin).
While I was doing those things, Nancy called to see if we wanted to join her, Ray, and Sarah the Vegan on an event-filled day in Kingston. KMOCA would be having an art sale, though there would also be lunch at Outdated in Uptown and visits to various antique stores. Gretchen had to work, but I could go.
I had a little trouble getting the Subaru to start even with the new alternator, though eventually I got it running and it continued to run even without the battery attached, indicating the electricity from the alternator was making it to the right places in the car.
I met the others at Outdated. I'd had a huge (though somewhat unsatisfying) burrito for breakfast, though I was hungry enough to split an order of chili corn bread with Sarah. It was surprisingly bad; the corn bread was far too sweet and I kept remarking to the others how the chili tasted like something a hippie might have made. It contained poorly-considered spices and perhaps notes of something having burned in a pot (both of which were hallmarks of Harkness cooking back when I was a student at Oberlin College). With my chili cornbread, I drank one and a half mugs of genuine coffee, which soon had me feeling like I'd snorted a small amount of cocaine. I felt empowered and capable, but also serene. It probably made me seem a bit cocksure to the others.
The KMOCA benefit was being staffed by its former owners Deborah and Michæl, though they'd cut ties with it a year ago. Evidently the new owners hadn't felt as though they could do the benefit all by themselves. Happily, there was a small keg of beer on tap and, though it contained the mediocre IPA Hurricane Kitty, at least it was an IPA (also, it seemed to taste better than I remembered it, though that might have been the caffeine talking). In addition to Deborah and Michæl, Jenny and Doug from the animal sanctuary Willow just happened to be there. They seemed surprised to see me out and about without Gretchen, which is a rare sight indeed. Doug always likes to talk about property maintenance issues when I'm around, and we managed to have a fairly long conversation on the subject of ice damming.
Last year, the art benefit had featured works commissioned from local artists such as myself. This benefit, however, seemed designed mostly to unload piles of art from storage. In particular, the back room of the "museum" was full of the fussily-detailed three-dimensional paper houses and dolls made by Warren Schmahl, yet another prolific recently-deceased artist with mental challenges. That art in particular was in need of a home, though it's hard to sell a flimsy-looking house made of paper. Eventually I bought one of his few works of flat art, a collage featuring the clipped-out faces of Natalie Maines and some other woman on hand-drawn bodies in front of an electric background featuring trees, grass, and a barn, all drawn in ballpoint and perhaps Pentel watercolor pens. It cost me $20, though Deborah probably would have let me have it for free. But visits to KMOCA are always more about the socializing with friends (some of whom are never seen outside of KMOCA) than it is about the art.
After KMOCA, the others wanted to trudge through various antique stores in the Rondout, including the expensive place that sells things like Sperm Whale weather vanes. And though we mostly just went to the Sperm Whale weather vane place to see a little Boston Terrier puppy who lives there, Sarah ended up buying a lamp.
Eventually we went to Uptown for "a cocktail" at Frogmore Tavern, a place we selected only because it supposedly could make a vegan poutine (french fries with gravy). Gretchen had been there recently and I knew she hadn't liked it. Inside, the booths are high-backed, the ceilings low, and the light murky, giving in an appealing cozy vibe. Since Ray is a semi-celebrity in the local restaurant scene, our poutine and an order of plain fries ended up being free. Unfortunately, though, neither the fries nor the poutine was especially good. The fries had that soggy quality of fancy restaurant fries, and the poutine just tasted gross. Also, I guess we'd ordered wrong because it came with curds of cheese sprinkled on top. Ray, who is not vegan but who is a diabetic who has had heart bypass surgery, ate all of those. While the food wasn't great, I enjoyed the Manhattan I'd ordered. Conversationally, I was being a bit more open about myself than usual, regaling the others (for example) with tales of the many things I stole when I was in my early 20s.
After the Frogmore Tavern, we went a few doors down to the little liquor store. It's under new management now, and, realizing that it's hard to compete with big liquor stores like J&K (where I usually get my bottom-shelf gin), the new owner specializes in obscure, fancier bottles. We got to talking with the owner, and eventually he gave us all tastes of a locally-distilled gin (though the ladies all quickly dumped their samples into my cup). Ray could have talked shop with him all night, but my bladder was about to explode, so eventually I ran over to the parking lot across the street to see if my Subaru would start. It wouldn't. And it wouldn't even start from the extra battery I'd brought along. So Ray came over and we got it going again.
Ray had invited me back to his place to check out a new piece of equipment he'd recently bought, so, after picking up a six pack of Lagunita's Censored Copper Ale at Beer Universe, I drove over there. We walked in to find that Bruce (Ray's brother's block-headed Pit Bull) had knocked over the trash and filled the kitchen with coffee grounds and maxi pads. Normally this is the sort of misbehavior that Jack does, but at this point Ray and Nancy never leave home without first putting Jack in a cage.
Since Ray and Nancy hadn't anticipated company, their house was messier than I am used to it being. Ray and I sat on the couch in the living room drinking beers and using Ray's device, though it only seemed to be working on Ray. Eventually I figured out what was going on: it was only "working" on Ray because of the placebo effect. As for the Lagunita's Censored Copper Ale, it was a huge disappointment. I'm sticking with their IPAs and IPAesque beers from now on.
Surprisingly, when I went to drive home, the Subaru started right up.

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