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:
   anti-erosion jihad
Saturday, November 5 2022

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

After drinking my coffee, I put a lot of work into shoveling soil into the ditch along side the Wonderboard I'd glue in place yesterday. It's a lot less work and a lot less messy to shovel soil into a ditch than it is to shovel it out. You're not in the ditch with limited mobility having to raise the elevation of the dirt as it keeps caving in on you. Even so, shoveling it back required a fair amount of effort.
At the west end of this run of styrofoam, the concrete foundation wall turns northward to allow for the steps down from the Bilco doors. This additional wall is capped with a bit of one-by plank which might be good enough for insulating its top. But the side of this wall are exposed to the elements both on the outside and in the well below the Bilco doors (since that well isn't supposed to be an insulated space). This allow that wall to wick heat away from the foundation wall it's attached to. To reduce this, I decided to glue some thin 3/4 inch styrofoam to the outside of the stair well wall. I'll probably also insulate it inside the stairwell beneath the Bilco doors at some point at a later time. But while I had the ground mostly out of the way, it made sense to glue this additional styrofoam in place.
When I'd pretty much finished shoveling all the soil I'd excavated from the north side of the foundation, it turned out I had too much soil and I ended up heaping up a short run of steep slope against the new, now 2.5-inches-further-out foundation walls. Since the part of the styrofoam and Wonderboard that I'd buried would be expected to displace some of the soil, I expected to have a little more than I'd started with. But it seemed like I had significantly more than I'd started with. Perhaps it just needs to settle, though I had stomped it down with my feet.
To prevent all the loose soil (and crumbs of soil from where I'd temporarily piled it up) from immediately being washed away in the next rain, I then spent several hours building elaborate erosion-prevention structures using sticks and leaves. I'd pile up some leaves in a place where eroded sand might want to go, and then lay various sticks and logs ontop of the leaves to hold them tight against the ground, where they'd serve as something of a gasket. Perhaps I carried this anti-erosion jihad a bit far, as I had to range further and further afield just to find suitable sticks. As for leaves, I collected most of them in the driveway southwest of the cabin. As I did these, things, I felt weaker and weaker as my poorly-fed body went into something like ketosis. Eventually I went inside and gorged myself on piece of "citrus salad" "in light syrup."
Since most of the leaves had already fallen for the season, I decided to rake them off the first floor deck, where they had been accumulating across two autumns. Raking them off the deck created a nice linear pile of them on steep slope just east of the cabin, precisely where I would want to install more erosion control before trenching out the east foundation wall. Most of the dirt removed from that trench would be heaped up under the porch and deck, and the heap beneath the deck would be subject to erosion from water dripping between the flooring planks. I already had a set of six pallets leaned aginst the deck's support pillars to form something of a wall framework to support a web of plastic sheeting to catch most of the runoff, but I also wanted to catch any sand making it past there. So I laid a big rotten log atop the linear pile of leaves. None of these structure have to last very long, so they can be made of materials that will quickly biodegrade.
As I was out admiring my foundation insulation and erosion control and about to crack open a well-earned beer, the dogs seemed like they were about to go off and explore the woods north of the cabin. Ramona had even made it as far as going down the stone steps. If they were so inspired, I thought I'd take them on a walk down to the lake. So walked down there, dragging my bare feet deliciously through the accumulation of fallen leaves as I went. It was a rare and beautiful summery day in November, and I wasn't taking it for granted.
There wasn't much to do at the lake except crack open that beer and stretch out in one of the zero-gravity chairs. Eventually Neville arrived at the lake as well, but Ramona apparently gave up on the idea of walking to the lake. I should mention that there were no signs of wildlife at the lake at all, though I did hear someone over in the vicinity of Pyotr's boathouse operating a gas-powered chainsaw.

Back at the cabin, I made a heroic effort of digging out just enough sand on the east side of the cabin (under the porch, coming in from the north) to install a second four-foot-wide sheet of styrofoam on the cabin's east foundation wall. This required digging a four-foot-wide slot down through nearly six feet of sandy soil. Fortunately the sand was somewhat damp and the walls of my trench weren't quite as eager to collapse as in other places I'd dug nearby. I struggled a bit cutting the eight-foot-tall sheet of styrofoam to a height that would allow me to maneuver it into place in the confined space available. I ended up cutting it as much as a half inch too short (a little over 91 inches tall), a height that allowed it to easily snap into place. And adding a little spray foam to the top would make it insulate even better than if I'd cut it tall enough to make it fit tightly and then wrestled with it for a half hour trying to force it in place.

For dinner I made myself a box of shell-shaped pasta with some sauteed chonks made of very old (and somewhat dehydrated) mushrooms, onions, poblano peppers, a few slices of jalapeños, and some sort of Asian-flavored "sweet" faux chicken. Neither Gretchen nor I much like overly-sweet Asian food, but in the context of all those other flavors, the sweetness didn't prove to be much of a problem.

The sun was shining this afternoon even as it was raining, so I knew there would be a rainbow. I've turned up the saturation so you can see it clearly. Click to enlarge.

The part of the north foundation wall that I have insulated and covered with Wonderboard.
Note the various object I am used to hold the Wonderboard in place while the glue dries. Click to enlarge.

Viewing the cabin from the east, you can see the piles of excavated sand under the porch and the erosion controls below. In the back you can see the open Bilco doors. Click to enlarge.

Woodworth Lake today. Click to enlarge.

Neville in the woods near our dock. You can see the red canoe (near the tree dock) on the left side of this photo.

A distant white pine towering above the canopy in a photo taken from the path connecting the cabin to the dock. We are looking northwest.

There are still flowers near our cabin from a Seed Library wildflower collection. The four-petaled flower is nigella, so one of my Facebook friends tells me. It's not native to the Adirondacks or even the Americas. Click to enlarge.

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