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:
   a visit to the winterized cabin
Friday, December 15 2023

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

The data from the cabin had stopped soon after we got back from Portugal, so I'd been wanting to go to the cabin to fix whatever was wrong with my custom cellular hotspot watchdog. Since this was expected to be a fairly warm weekend, I decided it would be a good one for going there. The snowcover map said that there was about two inches of snow on the ground in the southern Adirondacks, so I planned to go there in the Forester so as to eliminate any issues with road traction or the availability of electric power. I started packing the Forester this morning, waiting for Gretchen to get back from her walk. But she took much longer than normal to return because she'd been walking with a our neighbor to the west, her little dog Henry, and her seven or eight year old child. [REDACTED]
Knowing it would be cold at the cabin, I figured it would be best to have the dogs wear their cold weather jackets. But I had Gretchen put them on, since it's unlikely that Charlotte would let me put one on her.
After gassing up and buying Utz potato chips and ice coffee (a mistake; I'd meant to get hot coffee) at the bigger of the two QuickCheks near the raffic circle, I drove towards the cabin using the scenic route (the one that goes through Middleburgh) so as to economize on gasoline usage. Along the way, I stopped at the Hannaford in Cairo to get Russian imperial stout, lettuce, kombucha, mushrooms, sourdough bread, dog food, and a vegan pizza. The imperial stout was intended as a road beer, and I cracked one open somewhere in the long stretch of 40mph Route 145 through the hamlet of East Durham, and it lasted me nearly to the Mohawk River. I also broke into that bag of Utz potato chips. I usually only buy what appear to be gourmet potato chips and must have become accustomed to how those taste, because the budget Utz chips had a distinctly rancid flavor to them. But it didn't stop me from eating them.
Initially there was no snow visible, but as I headed northward through the northeast Catskills from East Durham, I could see snow on the tops of the mountains. That snow finally came down to the roadside just west of Livingstonville and then disappeared again south of Schoharie. The landscape was then mostly snowless until I started climbing the Adirondack escarpment only a few miles from the cabin. Woodworth Lake Road bad been plowed, but there wasn't much of a roadside mound to drive over, so I was easily able to drive all the way to the cabin. There was only about an inch and a half of snow on the ground, and the solar panels were clear. But the roof had dumped enough of a pile on the front door's entryway deck that shoveling it off was one of the first things I did.
Inside the cabin, temperatures were 33 degrees upstairs and around 43 degrees in the basement (those are Fahrenheit of course). I started a fire but I didn't want to de-winterize the cabin, so I left the boiler off. Unfortunately, both dogs had managed to wriggle out of their jackets, so I did what I could to keep the covered with blankets once they settled down. Charlotte is usually jumpy about me moving large objects near her, but she seemed to understand the benefits of being covered with a blanket in such cold temperatures, so she was tolerant most of the times I covered her up (even when I sometimes flung a blanket on to her).
I wanted some water, but just turning on the well pump caused the inverted to go into shutdown mode, turning off all power in the cabin (despite it being a sunny day). It was then I saw that at some point in the last few weeks the battery had itself gone into shutdown mode and was no longer providing any power. This meant I would have to trickle-charge it using the generator. But when I went to start the generator, I found its 12 volt battery was too weak to get it going. So I had to drive the Forester over and give it a jumpstart. Fortunately, I'd added a big fat wire to the generator so I didn't have to remove any panels to get it going again. Then I had to figure out which of the many terminals inside the FortressPower battery were the ones for trickle charging. I manage to find an email showing these terminals, and, so I'll never have to look up this information again, I used acrylic paint to label the terminals on the battery itself. (It's times like this that I find myself muttering about how something that could easily be made obvious is "not obvious." In such cases, I try to make a habit of rendering not-obvious things permanently obvious.)
While waiting for the battery to be trickle-charged back to life, I took the dogs (they both came!) down to the lake to see what conditions were like down there. I found the lake was mostly frozen, with a swath of open water far out in the middle, hundreds of feet from our dock. The lake hadn't risen since I'd winterized the dock, so all the parts that had been out of the water when I'd done that were still out of the water. From there, I walked to the beaver dams at the lake's outflow. The water in the outflow bay was all frozen over, but there was a patch of open water at the dams, where the fast-moving water evidently kept it from freezing.
Back in the cabin, temperatures were now in the 40s and the sun was already getting ready to set. I ate some delicious leftover food Gretchen had gotten at a Korean restaurant in Catskill called the Avalon Lounge. Despite the low temperatures, I found I could comfortably do my usual cabin routine so long as I mostly stayed under a blanket on the couch. (By this point, both dogs had moved up to the bean bag in the loft for some reason.) Perhaps because of the cold, I was drinking booze at a fast rate. (I was mostly drinking a cocktail of kombucha and gin, which has a good balance to it.) By the time I went to bed, it was nearly 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the cabin. Interestingly, though Neville came to bed with me, Charlotte insisted (as she'd been doing in the past) on sleeping on the loft beanbag.

Southeast of Livingstonville on the drive to the cabin today. Click to enlarge.

The cabin this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

Charlotte at the dock area. Click to enlarge.

The lake off the truncated end of our winterized dock, held out of the water by a pole. Click to enlarge.

The floating part of the dock on the with and the frozen lake surface in the foreground. Click to enlarge.

Neville with the lake behind him along the south shore of the outflow bay. Click to enlarge.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next