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:
   entirely adult adulthood
Friday, June 19 2015
This morning there was the usual chaos that comes when guests with kids have spent the night. We've had relatively few babies spend the night, especially in recent memory, but Nathan and Janine are now back in that phase of parenthood. Though S is a foster baby, it seems Nathan and Janine have had the realization that if they stop being her foster parent, she'll spend the rest of her childhood bouncing between various homes. Unlike other, older kids they have fostered, this prospect somehow seems more tragic with a baby that is still young enough to be taken from the clutches of such bureaucratic beast. So it seems they are on a path to adopting S, which has thrown a bit of a monkeywrench into their midlife plans. It's almost like an unplanned pregnancy. I know this sounds terrible, but it also makes me feel better about the times I've quashed Gretchen's desire to be a foster parent. I know there are kids out there who need parents, and fostering and adoption are far more altruistic than biological reproduction. But I've never wanted to be a parent, and I certainly wouldn't want to get stuck in the track of being one out of a concern for a specific child, which becomes almost inevitable once the abstraction of foster children is replaced with the particular reality of an individual foster child living in the basement. I'm selfish that way; I want an entirely adult adulthood.
There trouble with the waffle maker after Gretchen followed the recipe and didn't grease waffle mold. So she made pancakes instead, making sandwiches with them containing cashew cream and strawberries.
Later, all of us walked the Farm Road back to the farmhouse of "the Duke of Luxemburg." He not only has a pool back there, but he also has a trampoline. So Afton jumped on it with Gretchen for awhile, their forces occasionally resolving in a way that propelled him high into the air (he only weighs 70 pounds). He's a highly-active kid, full of seemingly-impulsive energy, and he's been channeling it into gymanist routines such as cartwheels (which he can land as high as the third step of our stairs). While that was happening, Nathan told a slightly-embarrassing story from the days when we used to ride the school bus together (the late 1970s and early 1980s). In those days, I would obsessively buy Peterson Field Guides, which I would occasionally bring on the bus to show Nathan. Nathan recalled how I used to insist that Nathan's hands be clean and that he not open the books too far for fear of what would happen to the spine. "Yeah," I admitted, adding, "You have to understand. I didn't have anything. Everything I owned was precious. I had to save my lunch money to buy anything because I was raised in poverty even though my parents weren't poor." At that point, Gretchen gave me an empathetic hug.
From the trampoline, I led our group south to the escarpment and then along a contour westward to the Canary Falls, which is a place that I like to take rare visitors. Nathan was carrying S in a special harness on his back, so there wasn't any particular difficulty for us all to get there. The creek was very low when we arrived, making the falls look a bit pathetic. But upstream from it, there was plenty of cool water to sponge onto our heads and faces. Unlike yesterday, today was hot and muggy.
On the way back, I found some Wintergreen (the plant) near the falls, which I gave to Afton and Janine. Afton was excited about the flavor, but only insofar as it reminded him of a tree with a similar flavor. "Oh, yeah, Black Birch," I replied, "that's here too." Afton was delighted, so I promised to find him some. But the first Black Birch I found was a quarter mile away along the Farm Road. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as delicious as Afton had remembered it. Perhaps it's just richer in methyl salicylate down in Virginia.
Back at the house, Afton eventually retreated to the laboratory to watch more Minecraft-derived Youtube content while I drove with Nathan through Hurley to show him Kingston. As I drove, I explained things like the agricultural history of the Esopus Valley and the history of Hurley, though all that talking distracted me from the task of driving, so I kept having little fuckups. For example, I had to make a U-turn when I realized I was driving to US-209 instead of Hurley Avenue. Later, I would drive the wrong way on St. James (in the short part of it that is one-way west of Wall Street) and miss the turn onto Washington Avenue from Pearl Street.
Once in Kingston, I drove south past the big shabby Victorians of Washington Avenue and then over to Wall Street, where I showed Nathan the rental house. Then I parked on Wall Street near Hudson Coffee Traders, where we went to get some change for the meter. But we ended up getting coffee too (actually, Nathan got a shot of espresso) and then walking most of the important streets of Uptown. I pointed out all the quirky and nascently-hip things of Uptown, including Outdated, the Stockade Tavern, Columbia Beauty Supply, that place with all the old Macintosh computers in the window, the model shop featuring the work of Mark Hogancamp, the star of Marwencol, and many others. The Stockade Tavern was closed (and a bit precious for someone with Nathan's unfussy æsthetics), so I drove us out to Keegan Ales.
It was a little after 4:00pm when we arrived at Keegan Ales and it had a dozen or so mostly middle-aged people there drinking. Nathan and I are both IPA guys, though the only IPAs they had were Hurricane Kitty and their new, lower-alcohol Session IPA. But, when in Rome, one drinks shitty IPAs. We got one of each and went outside to the "beer garden" to drink them. Also in the beer garden was a tawny female Pit Bull with a spiky Harley Davidson collar; later we would overhear one of the Keegan guys says she'd come from the nearby neighborhood. She was incredibly well-behaved, mostly lying in the gravel and, when the sun came out from behind the hundreds of fair-weather cumulus clouds, in the shade of a picnic table. Eventually a couple arrived with a poofy designer dog, and only then did the Keegan Ales Pit Bull come completely to life, but only in a completely friendly sort of way. Also at Keegan Ales were two cats, though they stayed indoors even when given the option to go outside.
The session IPA was better than expected, and the Hurricane Kitty was better than usual, perhaps because it was being presented fresh in nearly-ideal conditions. Retreating into the shade of some bushes, Nathan and I discussed Jared Diamond's brilliant theories and books as well as philosophies of child rearing. I expressed a little concern about how much Minecraft content Afton absorbs non-interactively, though of course the kid is on vacation so what I've seen of him hasn't been representative. Nathan made clear that normally he isn't allowed so much screen time and that, in any case, watching Minecraft probably isn't any worse than watching Saturday morning cartoons had been for us. We ended up drinking two beers each, which made me a little drunk for the drive home. We stopped on the way at Beer Universe, where Nathan insisted on buying me a bunch of IPAs he'd discovered as well as the one discovery stocked at Beer Universe that I had for him: Ithaca Flower Power.
We each drank another beer back at the house before all of us piled into Nathan and Janine's boatlike minivan and drove out to Woodstock. For dinner, we went to the Garden Café (now under new management), and sat in their outdoor garden. A huge wedding party of 30 arrived while we were there, and it included our friends Juliana & Lee. The bride was as-yet-unknown Woodstock vegan who dismayed Gretchen by telling her that her wedding wasn't going to be vegan because she didn't want to impose. And it was her fucking wedding.
I'll tell you what not imposing should look like. When the toddler S started screaming and crying (the way toddlers always invariably do), either Nathan or Janine would scoop her up and carry her away from the restaurant so as to give the other diners a chance to dine in peace. Not just anyone does that. As for the food; I didn't especially like mine. The soup wasn't really up to the old the Garden standards, and my eggplant & tofu entree was, as Gretchen warned me it would be, "a bit hippyish." But the others (with the possible exception of the kids) all seemed to go apeshit over what they'd ordered.
On our walk from the restaurant back to the car, we passed the studio of Larry Lawrence, who builds mobile wire sculptures that send marbles repeatedly down tracks, around wheels, and up on tiny ski lifts. They're beautiful mesmerizing. Everyone walked past without noticing, but I'd remembered them and thought they would be fun for Afton. So there we were, standing and watching as marbles repeatedly were carried up and then rolled down a slope, always missing a little scooping arm that might catch them. But then, finally, we saw it catch a marble and put it in a special time-out place that apparently had to fill with four marbles before there would be enough weight to release them all to begin the long cycle again.
Back at the house, Afton disappeared into my laboratory, S was put to bed, and us adults all hung out in the living room and talking for a long time about all sorts of fun things while we sipped vodka, whiskey, or hard apple cider. At some point Nathan regaled us with a series of truly horrible pun-based riddles and his classic "baby elephant trunk transplant" joke. Tonight it was Janine's turn to sleep in the greenhouse with Afton while Nathan slept in the basement with S.

In other news, our elderly downhill neighbors reached one of those sad milestones that come with advanced age: they hired an excavator to come out and fill in their swimming pool. Evidently there is nobody left in the area to enjoy it. They're far too old, their grandkids aren't kids anymore, and it seems whoever is in line to inherit the property doesn't want there to be a pool. Some years ago (five or six) our uphill neighbors ("the Greenhouses") did the same with their pool. Now the only pool remaining in the area belongs to "the Duke of Luxemburg," though it was built recently, evidently on the insistence of his new wife.

"The Duke of Luxemburg" had a girlfriend some years ago who developed an interest in cairn building after seeing some of mine. Her best work was this corbel arch she built near the abandoned go-cart tracks. In this picture, Eleanor stands near it while, to the right, Ramona, Janine and Gretchen pick their way through the rocks nearby.

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