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:
   forty nine
Thursday, February 16 2017
Today was my 49th birthday (and the 21st celebrated in this online journal). In our house, a birthday is always a special occasion, so we treated it like Saturday morning coffee. As always (since I do not like cake), Gretchen made an elaborate birthday pizza involving pan-seared seitan, mushrooms, jalapeño peppers, and homemade crust. It was larger than usual for a birthday pizza, and though Gretchen helped me eat it, we only made it about half way through initially. We'd both been a little light on birthday presents this year; for her birthday I'd given Gretchen a goofy certificate redeemable "to the bearer" for rennovations in "his or her library." My birthday present from Gretchen was something I'd desperately needed: three or four pairs of pajama bottoms and sweat pants. In cold weather, that is now pretty much all I wear as trousers in the house and out in the forest.
Because we'd have another unknown house sitter from whatever website Gretchen uses to find such people, I spent much of the morning bringing in armloads of firewood from the woodshed and then gathering the dead lower limbs of evergreens along the Farm Road for use as kindling. It's not uncommon when we have people who stay in our house and use the fire for them to use all the kindling right away. They evidently don't want to make the commitment of burning a big piece of wood, even though it's clear that the kindling is in low supply and the bulk of what can be burned is chunks of what had once been tree trunks. For this reason, I feel the need to gather more kindling for house sitters than I would ever need for myself. I also cut up some small evergreen tree trunks for use as a transition piece to keep a fire burning after the little stuff has burned up but before the big pieces have conclusively caught on fire. Again, none of this is necessary for the kind of fires I build, but it's always good to assume debilitating incompetence whenever one deals with strangers (or anyone not yourself, when it comes right down to it).

It was a fairly lax day in the remote workplace, so I could also contribute to the cleaning of the house. Gretchen had already done most of this (it was my birthday after all), though she doesn't always seen the same nastiness that I do. As with debugging one's own code, it's almost impossible to clean one's own house such that an outsider won't find things to get skeeved out about. Then again, it's also true that one tends to be an expert on one's own house and will know where to look for the most disgusting deposits of filth. In the case of today's cleaning, I kept my focus mostly to the kitchen, since that (along with the bathroom) are the places people will be least happy interacting with the dirt of strangers. I always make sure to clean the microwave oven, which Gretchen always overlooks (something I remember from the first time we prepared her Brooklyn coop apartment for a housesitting by our friend Eulalia). I then removed all the obvious skudge from inside the refrigerator. That's place where a smudge of chocolate is never welcome, particularly if it's near a visible human hair. I also did my best to clean some of the drawer pulls near the stove. But they were so encrusted with a mix of grease and sticky carbohydrates that I soon gave up. One would need a strong solvent to solve that problem.

Meanwhile, the President of the United States was giving his first press conference of his nascent clusterfuck of an administration, an event that was soon characterized as "unhinged" and "off the rails." It's not just that an enormous geriatric baby is president, it's also that he gets all his ideas from the most malevolent, paranoid people in the country. As others have said, the silver lining is that incompetence is tempering the sting of the malevolence.

Normally I'd go out to a Mexican restaurant on the evening of my birthday, but since we'd be flying to Mexico early tomorrow morning, Gretchen had suggested maybe I would want to do something else. "How about we go out for pizza?" I'd asked. "But I will have made you a birthday pizza," Gretchen had replied. "No, but your pizza is a whole other thing," I'd explained. So pizza it was. Catskill Mountain Pizza is about as close as a vegan can get to a trashy pizzeria experience, and I'm always game for that. So I cut out of work an hour early and we drove to Woodstock.
All the people we'd invited turned up, though it was a smallish crowd because that is how I prefer things. It being my birthday and because I like these things, we ordered a bunch of pizzas and fries, though Sandor confirmed my suspicions (with suspicions of his own) that the batter-fried fries probably weren't vegan. I ordered a couple beers from the taps, though nothing was much to my liking. In terms of loot, Ray gave me two gorgeous pieces of pyrex chemistry glassware. I think they were both volumetric flasks, and one had a full two litre capacity. Susan and David gave me yet another sketchpad that will go on the pile (eventually I'll use the first two or three pages) as well as a framed drawing of rabbit Susan had drawn (that's a real present; unlike me, she's a professional artist). Michæl (of Carrie & Michæl) gave me yet another piece of found art he'd curated through his life: a 34 inch long piece of extremely dense driftwood that a beaver had narrowed down near one of its ends with the removal of big flat chunks, leaving beautiful expertly-cut facets. Somebody else (Sarah the Vegan I think) got me 375 mL of "Catskill Comfort" maple syrup (which comes in a bottle that looks like a whiskey flask). It came with a goofy mechanical birthday card that somehow contained a motor and enough electronics to play "I Feel Good" and activate a scratching leg on a depiction of a dog. Somewhere in there was also a hand-carved soapstone incense burner (could come in handy if there is a stank to mask) and Eva & Sandor got me an eBay gift card, since they know that's pretty much the only place I shop online.
I should mention that, though the pizza I'd specifically ordered (with mushrooms, banana peppers, and faux cheese) was pretty good, whoever ordered the pizza with broccoli rabe and olives made a real mistake. That was terrible. But I was still hungry after my pizza was gone (it had been popular) and that was all that was left).

This year's birthday loot. Click to enlarge.

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