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:
   nascent dock
Saturday, September 18 2021

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

I got up unusually late for my life these days, particularly at the cabin. It was after 9:00am. My first task involved hiking some distance down the nascent Lake Edward trail to unburden my bowels, and I ended walking all the way to the last known spot on the trail Gretchen and I laid out a couple weeks ago. I keep hoping to find where it continues from there, but I keep not finding it.
Back at the cabin, I fed the dogs and took them with me in the Bolt to the Woodworth Lake public dock. I then unloaded all the things I'd be needing at the dock-building site to a spot on the lakeshore. This included scrap lumber I'd found in the cabin's dumpster, 80 pounds of concrete, and a good number of tools. Access to the public dock is pretty tight, so it was unlikely anyone wanting to steal my valuables would show up before I could load them into a canoe, but even so, I tried not to dawdle. Back at the cabin, I fetched some everything french bread, a couple beers, and a few little things I hadn't put at the public dock and then walked down through the woods to the dock site. I hurried ahead of the dogs, hoping I'd be off in the canoe before Ramona would arrive and start whimpering. But she got there in time to see me paddling off and it was clear she wanted to come. So I met her at a spot on the shoreline where a large maple had fallen into the lake. Its trunk made for a perfect dog-loading dock, and it was close enough to where we keep our kayaks and canoe that I could probably make it into an alternative boat launch (or at least a launch I can use until I've built a proper dock). At the public, I quickly loaded all the provisions into the canoe and then told a disappointed Ramona that that was all we'd be doing there and it was time to get back in the canoe (actually, she loves riding in the canoe so much that she might not have been disappointed at all). As I paddled us back to our dock-building site, I saw Neville on the shoreline. He'd made it all the way to Ibrahim & Jackie's dock, whis is more than half way to the public dock. His presence was causing some concern to the beavers whose shoreline lodge lies between our dock-building site and Ibrahim & Jackie's dock, and at some point I saw two adult beavers in the water not far from Neville. One of them slapped his or her tail on the surface. Neville wasn't interested in doing anything about creatures in the water, but he briefly investigated their lodge before continuing on his way back to our dock-building site. Meanwhile in my canoe Ramona whimpered a few times with doggie FOMO about all this activity. (The thing about life is you're missing out on something. If you're at Disney Land or in the Galapgos or at the Trumpist insurrection on January 6th, you're not someone's Las Vegas bachelorette party from hell.)
The first thing I did back at the dock-building site was get the battery-powered chainsaw to further improve the natural dock created by the fallen maple tree. I cleared a nice straight path to our boat rack and then used the chainsaw to flatten the top surface of the fallen tree trunk. I then scored it many times in a cross-hatch pattern to render it completely slip-free, even when wet.
The risk of slipping and falling is a big one when doing anything around a lake. There are slimy wet tree trunks and even the rocks get covered with a slimy film of algæ that can be so slippery that I know that they are better avoided than stepped on. There's a massive ledge of bedrock just off the shoreline at the dock-building site, and it has this problem. But I'd be doing a lot of scrambling over this rock in order to build the dock, so before any of that, I took out a wire welding brush I'd packed just for this purpose and used it to abrade away all the sliminess I could from the underwater rock ledge. It took some time, but the result was rocks I could walk on without fear.
The original plan for the dock was for it to be a floating dock like on Twenty Ninth Pond. But floating docks are less common on Woodworth Lake. Most people have built docks from kits that have the dock attached inflexibly to steel poles rising from feet set on the lake's bottom. Recently I've thought that maybe a similar technique would be best for our dock. I'd entertained notions of having the dock sit on four-by-four posts that go down to the lake floor. But in the place where our dock is to go, there is that big rocky ledge in shallow water. It's got an irregular surface that is flat in few places, so a conventional "foot" wouldn't work. Maybe, though I could just prop most of it up using towers of rock, perhaps supporting one or more corners with that 1.5 inch galvanized pipe I bought. There were plenty of loose rocks available near the subsurface rock ledge, and some of these were ideal: large, flat, and easily stackable (even though natural granite isn't anywhere near as likely to fracture into stackable pieces as bluestone is). So I spent a good time in the water tracking down these rocks and stacking them in an easy-to-access pile in shallow water. Beyond a certain line, though, the lake was too deep for me to salvage any more rocks, since to lift them required getting my head under water, something I didn't feel like doing. For smaller pieces in fairly deep water, sometimes I could tilt them up with my feet and then reach down and grab them or topple them into shallower water.
As an experiment to see if the technique worked, I placed the three foot one point five inch galvanized pipe into a crack in the subsurface rocky ledge, propped it up with stones, and then hoped to cement it in place with concrete. Theoretically, concrete should be able to set under water, and finding out whether it would was part of the experiment. So I mixed up a batch of concrete using about 40 pounds of the dry mix with sufficient lake water in a five gallon bucket, which I stirred aggressively with a garden trowel. I then fed the mix down the hollow pipe until it displaced all the water in it. After that I used my hands to carry small amounts of wet concrete under water to deliver it around the base of the pipe. The main problem with this technique is that the lake water wants to wash the portland cement out of the mix, leaving you with nothing but gravel. So I tried to expose the concrete to as little water as possible as I was moving it into place. It will take me a week to know whether I had any success at all.
I then prepared two twelve foot two by sixes to attach the ends of seven ten foot two by sixes using four inch by 3/8 inch galvanized lag bolts. I wanted all the lag bolt heads to be recessed beneath the surfaces of the end boards so that they wouldn't stick out to scratch people or boats, so I drilled shallow one-inch-wide holes for the washers and screw heads to live in.
I then laid out the four boards defining the ten by twelve foot dock atop the water, with each corner supported by a pile of rocks (the pipe I'd set would have to wait before I could do anything with it). Once I was satisfied that the rectangle was perfectly square, I could a relax a little and crack open my second beer.
Not long after that, Eric the Painter came down the trail carrying a couple old bolete mushrooms and a russula he'd found along the way (he apparently knows enough about mushrooms to identify a bolete, but not enough to distinguish a white russula from a chanterelle). He'd been painting back at the cabin and now needed a battery-powered sander; he said he'd thought there would be electricity at the cabin by now and without it or a battery powered sander, he couldn't polyurethane the molding. I don't have a battery-powered sander, so he was out of luck. And since he'd finished the painting, maybe he'd just be driving back home.
At around that time, a thunderstorm came blowing through, so we hurried back to the cabin. Not much rain came from the storm, but while that was happening, Eric and I sat out on the screened-in-porch drinking beers and eating tostadas. We talked about a few things, but I didn't find the conversation terribly interesting. At some point I told Eric that to better process the world, it's best to write things down. Without writing, you can't really think. I said that I make a habit of writing everything down, though I didn't say where. One thing I didn't know was that Eric's father had been a college physics professor. One thing Eric learned about me is that in my life I have mostly just had rich girlfriends (or girlfriends from rich families), since I was too much of a "deadbeat" to attract women who didn't have their own money. Now, of course, I make my own respectable income. But that's only been true sporadically and for the last five years or so.
After the sun came out, I left Eric with the dogs at the cabin to do what little remained of the painting before he drove back home. I returned to my nascent dock to do a little more work, though mostly all I did was marvel at the beautiful weather and serene setting around the dock. Eventually I put one of the kayaks in the lake at my new fallen tree dock and then paddled clockwise around the lake. I stopped at the beaver dam at the lake's outflow and noted the water was about a foot below the top of the dam, suggesting the lake could easily rise by a foot should we enter a rainier period. At the south end of the lake, the lakeshore is very steep and there a good many cube-shaped rocks there whose stackability I noted; they could come in handy should I need to build other stone structures in or near the lake.
I returned to the cabin a little after sundown, well after Eric had left. I took the dogs for a walk out to Woodworth Lake Road so I could install another (a third) address number to help ensure deliveries make it to our cabin. After that it was too dark to do much more than drink the rest of the day's last beer, eat some more four year old cannabis, and thumb around between things on my phone.

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