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:
   parking on Lark Street
Sunday, June 11 2023

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

We didn't bother playing Spelling Bee this morning. Instead, I went out to try to get some more of the power cable buried before the biting flies came out. (For those who have forgotten, that's a cable designed to allow us to charge our Bolt at the top of the driveway hill, keeping it from potentially getting stuck down near the cabin.) Unfortunately, the day was considerably warmer than it had been earlier this weekend, and soon the deer flies were out in force.
Later, though, the flies weren't so bad when I installed an wired up a second light fixture box in the cramped space under the decks. It's hard work to get those lights in there, but having electricity and light handy will make that space much more pleasant to work in. Later, I expected to keep some of the excavation in place so that I will have more headroom for storing things under there, such as (and this is perhaps a long-term goal) some sort of small battery-powered ATV.
A solitary female hummingbird that liked one the purplish-red flowers that Gretchen had bought yesterday was the incentive I needed to finally set up the cabin's hummingbird feeder, which I hung from the edge of a gutter in front of a window. It did eventually get visited by either that hummingbird or a different female.
Then I made another push to bury the cable going to the top of the hill, eventually getting close to a large granite boulder that I will be bypassing to the east. Beyond that, it's just a few dozen feet until I'm somewhere along the driveway near the top of the hill. Gretchen figures that once I have an outlet up there to charge from, we can skip having the part of our driveway nearest the cabin plowed at all, which would save us a lot of money, since that stretch also needs to be sanded (something our snowplow guy does by hand).
The day had now become so lovely that Gretchen had made herself a snack and walked down to the dock, where she ended up spending hours and even going for two fairly long swims. Meanwhile, I was using some leftover bluestone to connect the bluestone path to our front door to the stone patio I'd made adjacent to our east deck, a distance of about fifteen feet. The pieces I had weren't all that great; they tended to be too thin, a bit uneven, or excessively brittle. But I did manage to make a path in only an hour or two while listening to retard rock on the local classic rock station. This morning Gretchen had declared that the station was awesome after it played Led Zeppelin's "Hey Hey What Can I Do?," or "K7" as she calls it (a reference to how it was summoned on a juke box back at Oberlin thirty-four years ago).
After I'd finished building a usable (if not quite finished) walkway between the two earlier walkways, I grabbed my camera, the little Ryobi chainsaw, and a sixteen ounce can of Old Rasputin "Russian Imperial Stout" and started walking to the lake. I went barefooted and managed to successfully get the dogs to come too, though they lagged well behind me. Down at the lake, Gretchen had just gone on her first swim, which she said was a real swim of about fifteen minutes in duration. The water, she said, was still kind of cold, but it was doable.
I'd brought the chainsaw so I could remove a vexing waterlogged trunk of an old hemlock that was cluttering up the wading area just south of the dock. I ended up cutting through the trunk in a place that was partially-submerged, though the chainsaw didn't seem to mind the water sloshing through its mechanism was I cut. I'd forgotten, though, about how using a chainsaw anywhere near a body of water results in visible oil spots floating on the surface, and the result of this cut was significantly worse than that. Fortunately, though, the actions of the waves and the sun seemed to make the splotch of surface oil disappear in about ten minutes. With some effort (and a little more cutting, this time done away from the water), I was able to completely remove that heavy, awkwardly-spiked hemlock trunk.
Gretchen drew my attention to a pair of fish in a clear-off part of the lakefloor partially surrounded by walls of rock in the granite reef onto which I'd built the dock. There were four or five other such clearings nearby, all of them presumably presided over by fish, at least for a time. Last year I'd identified the fish that do this as bluegill sunfish, and I'd even experienced one attacking me on several occasions to drive me from his or her nesting territory. But I'd never seen a pair of fish in such a cleared-out piece of lake bottom. Evidently the males and females pair up and mutually court one another in such spots; Gretchen and I could see the two fish engaged in an elaborate paired-swimming ritual. One of them was yellowish-orange and fairly uniform in color, whereas the other had vertical stripes. As they ritually swam around, the striped one would occasionally dip sideways, flashing us with the iridescence of his or her scales in the murky sunlight.
I'd gotten so hot and sweaty from wrestling the waterlogged hemlock that I impulsively grabbed the inner-tube, threw it in the water off the end of the dock, and gingerly climbed aboard. The water felt a bit cold at first, but I soon acclimated to it. I just sat in the tube drinking my beer while the wind slowly pushed me northwestward into the outflow bay. As I neared the rocky islands at the entrance to that bay, a beaver appeared and repeatedly slapped the water with her or her tail out of annoyance at my presence. I eventually came ashore on the southwest bank of the outflow bay near where our shoreline trail runs, making it easy for me to walk back to the dock with the inner-tube. Along the way, I passed a place where the beavers had cut down a number of small hemlock by chiseling their trunks down to something that resembled an hourglass. It was so classic it looked cartoonish. One of the trees they'd cut down this way featured a trail marker for the shoreline trail that the previous owner had established.
Now that I was wet, conditions in the open air weren't all that comfortable. This was partly due to somewhat diminished sunlight caused by "moderately-bad" smoke from Canadian wildfires (such conditions had also made me unconcerned about sunburn). So I walked back to the cabin completely naked. The dogs stayed behind and came back when hunger eventually forced Gretchen to return as well.
We ended up staying at the cabin until a little after 6:00pm. Unexpectedly, despite a forecast of cloudy skies and rain (which hadn't been completely wrong), we'd managed to almost fully charge our Chevy Bolt with the sun alone.
On the drive home, we briefly considered stopping at a new Indian restaurant in Amsterdam. It was closing, but they're so new and eager to please that they were willing to stay open for us. But then it turned out the only vegan food they could make in a pinch contained either okra or sweet peppers, neither of which Gretchen likes. So we opted to visit an Indian restaurant on Lark Street in Albany instead. Fortunately for us, Jewel of India closes at 9:45pm. We arrived to the Lark Street neighborhood from the northeast, driving through "the hood" to get there. One of the ways we knew it was the hood was all the signs advertising SNUG, a program designed to encourage members of the community not to attempt to solve their problems with firearms. Once we crossed Central Avenue, the hood gave way to hipsters, though there was a woman with a cardboard sign right next to where I parked holding a cardboard sign (similar to the many such signs I'd seen in Staunton, Virginia) asking for spare money. I lied and told her I didn't have any.
But then once we were in the restaurant, I started fearing what would happen if someone (not necessarily the woman with the cardboard sign; there were plenty of other sketchy people out on the street) decided to open our car doors. Our dogs were in the car and would normally keep that from happening, but some people are crazy. And if someone were to do that, the dogs might wander into the street and get hit by a car. As I was thinking these things, I didn't want to tell Gretchen because I feared she would judge me: either that I was having a racist reaction to the people on the sidewalk or that I was overly (and unnecessarily) anxious. But even small risks are not worth taking if the risk would be devastating (such as our dogs being hit by a car) and the ease of preventing them is simple. Eventually I said I was going out to the car and would be right back, and as I was leaving to do that, Gretchen suggested I get a container from the car for our leftovers.
When I returned, Gretchen said she could tell I was preoccupied with something. I said it didn't matter; I wasn't preoccupied any more. But she wanted to know what the matter had been. So I owned up to my concern about the dogs and the car. To my relief, she didn't act like I was a kook from wanting to lock the car. This led into a fairly long conversation about my concerns about her judging me for things like this. Ultimately the message was that I needn't be so concerned and that if I want to take measures to feel safer, I should do them so as to avoid being distracted by the anxiety of not doing them.

Gretchen on the dock this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

Neville likes to guard the entrance to things, such as (in this case) the dock. Click to enlarge.

Ramona in the grassy area above the dock. Click to enlarge.

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