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:
   first barbecue of 2022
Saturday, May 28 2022

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

We had our usual cabin morning of the New York Times Spelling Bee and coffee, though this morning there were also Trader Joe's everything bagels with fresh tomatoes, Trader Joe's pro-biotic sauerkraut, faux feta cheese, and Grey Poupon mustard. I ate two such sandwiches in quick succession.
Then it was time to do the day's big chore: grouting both the walls and floor tile of the upstairs bathroom. Before I could do any of that, though, I had to do a lot of pre-cleaning, including chipping out blobs of thinset coming out between the tile, particularly on the floor. After numerous phases of chiseling and vacuuming, I finally had things clean enough, so I could mix up the grout for the wall tile. It bears mentioning that this grout was different from all the other grout I'd used in the cabin. Gretchen is an affable, friendly person, and can sometimes be an easy mark for a salesperson wanting to do an upsale. I know from experience that it's usually pointless to prevent such retail events; she considers the salespeople experts in their field and me to be an amateur in all things. If a salesperson recommends a special grout of a special color, then any resistance I display to buying that grout is either me being a self-sabotaging cheapskate or me unwilling to listen to experts. This was how we came to have ten pounds of a special (and needlessly expensive) dark grout from the Tile Shop (the store where we'd picked up the tile yesterday). We'd decided on that color after using little rectangles to simulate the grout lines in exercise done in the showroom back in December. As I mixed it up today, it didn't seem like very much grout, which made sense given that it had been ordered alongside an insufficient number of tiles. But in this situation, I was in an "I'm just following orders" mode, with the plan to reveal any bad rammifications only once they manifested themselves. So I grouted away, and, sure enough, there was only enough groute for about 60% of the alcove. I showed Gretchen this, and she was of course disappointed and aggravated (though not at me) and immediately ordered another ten pounds of overprice grout in that same color from the Tile Shop. I then moved on to grouting the floor tile, which I had plenty of grout for. That went very quickly; it's significantly easier tiling a floor than a wall because one has gravity working in the best-possible direction.
Next I had to clean the wall grout lines, and here again the expensive grout was causing more problems than it was solving. Apparently its recipe made it cure faster than normal grout, which meant that it had already mostly turned into stone by the time I wanted to sponge away the excess. This made sponging that decidedly more arduous than it normally is. Furthermore, because the grout contained a lot of dark pigment, it made a serious mess as it washed down the walls and across my feet. I had to expend an enormous amount of water (and I was using cold water to save energy) just to get my feet clean enough to walk across the fresh (and much lighter-colored) grout on the floor.
Then, somewhat later, I sponged away the excess grout from the floor. Since that grout was much cheaper grout from Home Depot, it had cured to just the right point for proper sponging. And, since it was fairly light-colored, the worst it could do was leave a ghostly haze on surfaces, a haze that was easily cleaned up.
Late this afternoon, Gretchen and I walked down to the lake just to see how it was. I brought a few tools, including a tape measure, a wrench, and a battery-powered chainsaw. I used the wrench and the tape measure to place the dock at the perfect height (the bottom of the joists 12.5 inches above the water surface) so that the lake's water level would never rise up high enough to lap against them. Next I turned my attention to the project of building a dry-stacked stone abutment for the shore end of the dock. This involved taking numerous rectangular stones out of the water and stacking them up along the backside of the dock. As I worked, a large green frog (or perhaps a small bullfrog) lay on the much just above the water's edge and didn't leave despite all the commotion. Meanwhile Gretchen sat in a dockside lawn chair for a time reading a book. But eventually she and the dogs returned to the cabin.
After doing a fair amount of stone work, I returned to the cabin, were I found Gretchen preparing the fixing for tonight's meal, which would be prepared with the help of our charcoal barbecue. It would be our first barbecue of the year. Among the things to be barbecued was a vegie burger, a couple portobello mushroom caps, a couple ears of corn, some red onions, and some veggie hot dogs. It took a little effort to get the charcoal lumps ignitied (charcoal lighter wasn't as helpful as the air bellows I'd bought at the Tibetan Center thrift store, it turned out). But eventually we had everything cooked enough to make big fat sandwiches. My veggie burger was a Trader Joe's thing and not very good, but with a portobello mushroom and all the fixings (including a Trader Joe's-branded kosher pickle Gretchen didn't like), my sandwich was amazing.
After dinner, Gretchen started repainting the walls of the second floor bathroom. She'd decided months ago that the greenish color we'd had it painted didn't match the tiles we'd selected, so she had a darker blue picked-out. But Gretchen isn't very good at any home repair task, not even a straightforward one like painting, and she kept having to clean up little messes as she worked, ones that would cause her to shout obscenities. Eventually a climbed into bed and put a pillow on my head.

The large frog who tolerated me working nearby today at our dock on Woodworth Lake. Click to enlarge.

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