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:
   where Boris sleeps at night
Tuesday, February 21 2023

the northwesternmost casita at Toucan Hill, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

No monkeys visited us this morning, though we did have a repeat visit of that fat scarred-up coatimundi, whom I have named Richard (most coatimundis who are not part of large traveling groups are male). I threw Richard a piece of partially-burnt toast, which he picked up and carried just into the woods to eat. He then took a long time to eat it, suggesting his teeth might not be so good. As he was doing this, an agouti ("Agnes") showed up and sniffed her way over to Richard. She didn't get closer than about two feet away, but there didn't seem to be any animosity of fear between them. When Richard left, Agnes went to where he'd been eating and devoured what crumbs she could find.
When I went to the pool for a morning dip, I happened to look into the other end of the hollow steel beam into which Boris the Iguana had crawled last night, and I was delighted (but not too surprised) to see his big scaly head. He's so big that there would be no way for him to make a U-turn inside the pipe, so it stood to reason that he was going to have to go all the way down the center of the beam (some thirty or so feet) and come out the other side.
Back at the casita, I was doing something in the remote workplace when I happened to look up at the bare branches of a tree about 150 feet away and see a solitary toucan (a collared aracari). Just yesterday I'd told Gretchen there was a good chance of seeing toucans on Toucan Hill, and here was one! When I went to take a picture, the bird disappeared. But then when I was going down the steps from the porch, the toucan flew past only a few feet away. The bird was headed south, so I grabbed my camera and went looking in the bare branches of other trees that don't have many leaves at this time of year (assuming toucans prefer to perch in such trees). This time I was lucky, and the toucan had perched in just such a tree above one of the cabanas containing one of the neighborhood's multiple babies. The toucan quickly flew somewhere else, but then stayed in place long enough for me to get some pretty good pictures.
Soon thereafter I showed Gretchen one of the pictures, and she seemed happy for me but sad overall, perhaps more sad. That I was finding joy in this place meant I probably wasn't going to reconsider staying here. But she was hating it here, and there was no way she could conceal how miserable she was. And if she was going to be miserable, how was I going to be happy? Clearly the lesson was as follows: because I am much more tolerant than Gretchen is, from now on the only good decision is to accede to her preferences when it comes to places to stay. Because otherwise I have to deal with her misery, and I'd rather sleep under an overpass. At some point I told her as much, which she took better than expected. But she also said that she takes my preferences into account when doing planning for our vacations and that the trips she'd take without me would be very different (they would, for example, involve a lot more changes of residence and a lot more planned activities).

Later in the morning, Gretchen came up with a solution to her misery that she thought she could live with. She had decided to rent a room at Casa Frangipan for two nights later in the week while keeping our residence at Toucan Hill. I could stay at Toucan Hill if I wanted to or I could join her at Casa Frangipan. We'd have more options of places to be for two nights just when Light, one of her former prisoner-students, would be flying in to Tambor from Barbados (the Caribbean island he was deported to after being released form prison). While this option is definitely the most expensive one, I'm finding myself much less concerned about profligate spending than I used to. If that profligate spending becomes entrenched, however, I will be raising alarms.

I'd taken a recreational 150 mg dose of pseudoephedrine this morning, and by the time group QA rolled around, I was ready for some alcohol. I cracked open a beer and, later, a second beer. Overall it was a pretty good QA session even if Joe had to fix my failing modification to a data filling stored procedure.

Gretchen's one-on-one class with Andy began at 3:00pm, and I'd arranged to walk into Montezuma to meet her at the end of class at 4:30pm. Soon after I'd made it down the switchbacks, I heard the sound of another pedestrian coming up behind me and turned around to see a determined white dog with jangling tags on his or her collar. He or she passed me as though I wasn't there and went into town unsupervised to do whatever he or she does in Montezuma.
Gretchen and her teacher Andy were upstairs at Hotel La Cascada (the place at the mouth of the Montezuma River that used to have a Middle Eastern restaurant. In addition to Andy and Gretchen was a cute little girl who was into performative scowling and scrawling with magic marker on surfaces that probably are not supposed to get marked up. Andy said he'd meet us later on for dinner at 6:00pm Pizzeria Chelo (owned and operated by the handyman the absentee landlord has on call to maintain our ghetto casita; he'd had to replace the sink faucet this morning).
While waiting for all that to happen, Gretchen and I took the beach shortcut (past the tied up boats, actively-casting fisherman, and a fairly tame bare-throated tiger heron) into the center of Montezuma and took a seat at a table on the beach at Chicos, the bar with the best location in Montezuma (and the prices to prove it). Gretchen ordered me a mediocre gin & tonic and an order of fries that I had to work hard to keep the flies off of. The ketchup-like material provided with those fries was decidely less flavorful than Heinz 57. While we were sitting there watching the ocean and the others enjoying the view (which, in Montezuma, does not include a sunset), there was a little completely-naked boy running around. As we sat their, Gretchen told me what Andy had told her about how things had been in Montezuma early in the covid pandemic. With the sudden cessation of international travel, all the money people depended on suddenly dried up, and people were forced into subsistence, depending on fish caught from the ocean and animals they hunted. Eventually the money problems ended when all the remote workers came and started spending their American salaries.
After finishing what we'd ordered at Chicos, we hiked some distance northeastward up the beach until Gretchen suddenly remembered she wanted to buy a few groceries (particularly vegetables).
In Chelo, we took a corner table and Andy eventually arrived (on Tico time, of course). Gretchen and I split a small vegan pizza (which was a vegetable pizza without cheese) and a garlic-bread veggie plate, while Andy ordered some sort of meat-containing calzone. I had an Imperial beer, Andy had a glass of red wine, and Gretchen got a locally-produced ginger ale with a complex gingery flavor. The pizza wasn't as good as Muzza in Santa Teresa, though it was more to my liking than it was Gretchen's.
Most of what we talked about was a tiny plot of land Andy purchased back during covid and plans to somehow put two cabins and a house on. Andy also mentioned that he has a brother with addiction issues who still, at 26, lives with his mother. I mentioned that I was still living with my parents when I was 26, though I'm not as bad as my brother, who continues living with our mother (and an urn containing my father's ashes) at the age of 58.
Andy talked briefly about his new girlfriend, who is from Germany, and also the fact that he was briefly married to his girlfriend we met four years ago, but that they broke up when she wanted to have babies immediately and Andy wasn't so quite so ready.
At some point a youngish jewelry-encrusted woman sitting alone at an adjacent table struck up a conversation and ended up dominating it even though she had trouble crafting meaningful sentences (perhaps because of sleep deprivation or neurological issues). She was from North Carolina and, I noted, had a mild version of a particularly ugly Carolina accent. Among the things she said was that she has a daughter who speaks very good French and she has (I think) her own place in Tambor. Gretchen somehow got her to exchange info with Andy so she could take Spanish from him. Since Gretchen never mentioned the several-inch-long purple swoosh across her left cheek that she got from that weird incident the other day in the jungle, I wondered if the North Carolina woman assumed it was a port-wine stain birth defect and was thus surprised how evidently confident Gretchen was despite it.
Towards the end of our meal, a skinny light-colored dog who (based on the appearance of her whole-belly udder) had recently given birth to a litter of puppies was wandering back and forth among the people dining at the pizzeria. She was acting friendly but also determined, evidently needing to beg for food so she could produce the milk to keep her puppies, wherever they happened to be, alive. We didn't have anything for her and I didn't see her successfully get anything from anyone else either. But surely somewhere in Montezuma someone would give her food.
After dinner and prying ourselves away from the North Carolina woman, Gretchen and Andy paid for our meals separately and then Andy drove us up to the top of the hill, saving us all those switchbacks.
Gretchen and I haven't been using the pool naked, but tonight after dark we thought we could get away with it. While we were in the water basking in the beam of a light that couldn't be switched off, Gretchen wondered how Andy attracts such beautiful, accomplished women with his crazy pile of untrimmed hair and his somewhat narcisistic personality. I replied that the ways of young women have always mystified me, and that, for example, there was no good reason for any of my pre-1999 girlfriends to be with me (even just to drunkenly make out) considering how marginally I was employed (if at all) and how juvenile I was. But yet somehow a cute girl like Leslie Montalto stuck it out with me for two long years. True, she herself wasn't perfect; for example, she had learning disabilities that affected her ability to read and pursue much of an education. But she was an accomplished potter and even taught a pottery class. What was she doing with me? I had nothing special to offer. True, Leslie's estimation of my potential (if that was what kept her around) was not wrong, and I eventually held down a good-paying job and learned how to not be a terrible boyfriend. But she broke up with me before that was ever realized. "She bought low and sold low," I explained, and this gave Gretchen a good chuckle.

Boris the Iguana emerging from the end of a steel deck support beam. Click to enlarge.

The toucan (a collared aracari) I saw today. Click to enlarge.

A pheasant-like bird (a plain chachalaca?) I saw today. Click to enlarge.

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