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:
   cement factories north of Saugerties
Sunday, November 9 2008
Everyone, including the houseguests, was still asleep when I got up this morning. Though normally I make myself a modest freedom press of coffee after I feed the critters, on this occasion for the first time in months I brought out the electric coffee maker started the process that would lead to the creation of an industrial-sized pot of drip coffee. I've become such a coffee snob that drip coffee now tastes inferior to me (I can detect the fact that it is more oxidized), but making coffee with a freedom press for this crowd is like shoveling a snowed-in driveway with a spatchula.
After I was done with my morning chores, I went down to the site of the greenhouse and installed about seven more concrete blocks. At some point as I worked, I saw Ray come out on the east deck and shave his head with my Remington electric hair clippers. He actually started out with a mohawk, which he showed me from sixty feet away. He also showed it to the ladies indoors, and they all disapproved.
Later all of us (including all the dogs except Suzy) went to a number of realtor open houses to look at places that might serve as suitable weekend digs for Ray and Nancy. They'd flaked out on the place on Sawkill that they'd nearly bought a month and a half ago; it seems Nancy had experienced an irrational freak out after the inspector discovered asbestos (an unavoidable material in houses older than fifty).
The first place was in Woodstock and was such a stunner that Gretchen joked half-seriously that we should sell our house and move into it. The half-not-serious part of her joke was the fact that the house was in a fairly dense suburban community and appeared to have some minor foundation settlement issues. But it had a huge basement, the cleanest anyone has ever seen, a nice garage, a living room with a two story ceiling, and a good layout for its three bedrooms. Best of all, it didn't resemble any of the houses around it, which tended to be 1960s-style split levels. There must have been something wrong with it we couldn't see, because the price was only $269. It's was a dramatically better house than any I've seen with Ray and Nancy, though of course it was also $69,000 out of their price range. But every day it seems a better house drops into their price range. The macro-economic problem with a deflationary market is that it always makes sense to wait.
The next house was way out on Wittenberg Road, surrounded by tall mountains and wide thinly-peopled forests. Despite the size of the surroundings, the house itself was tiny, sat on a tiny lot very close to the road, and lacked a woodstove (a "deal breaker" for Ray). Still, the realtor had baked pumpkin squares, which made the house the way one would want it to smell in a down market on a dull dreary Sunday.
I don't know how it happened, but somehow we drove to Saugerties and then executed an elaborate loop up into southern Greene County (one of the few counties in eastern New York State where McCain-Palin did better than Obama-Biden). On this particular outing, we were perfectly happy to diss a house from the street if the neighborhood or house was unappealing, though we'd usually find ourselves catching sight of a very sad and lonely realtor. In Greene County we were about to execute such a move but then Gretchen decided to ask for directions to the next place.
At some point we found ourselves heading down 9W towards Saugerties from the north, passing a series of spectacular cement factories, one of which had been abandoned and had fallen into post-apocalyptic ruin. All of these factories were so large and set against such a stunning Hudson River backdrop that they looked more like painted sets than objects in reality.
Eventually we came to our last house of the drive, a 1920s-era Craftsman farm house on a several acre parcel. It featured an elaborate archipelago of out buildings in the back, one of which was occupied by several curious but unfriendly goats. There were also a pair of ducks. It was a beautiful house in excellent condition and the price was right, but it was less than a hundred feet from the big north-south rail freight line that runs along the west side of the Hudson. A long, fast line of freight cars passes the house hourly, blowing its whistle three times to warn cars as it approaches the crossing.
After we'd seen the house, we continued across the tracks to see the nearby neighborhood on the west bank of the Hudson. The houses were big and beautiful and the shore was posted, but it seemed a neighbor could probably negotiate river access with anyone warmer than Dick Cheney.
We stopped in Saugerties on the way through, just because it's so cute you just want to run out and it give it a big squeeze. It's cute like a movie set of a village from 80 years ago, having had none of the obnoxious modernizations and renovations of, say, Rhinebeck, changes that make that town look like a series of two-dimensional false fronts (which it might as well be after 5:00pm). The big draw in downtown Saugerties is stores selling antiques and practical crafts (unlike, say, the incense, soap, candles, and tie-dyes sold in Woodstock). We ducked into one such store having a going-out-of-business-30%-off sale, but by this point my memory becomes spotty due to low blood sugar.
After being told that Lucy's wouldn't open for another 15 minutes, we went to Taco Juan's, a cheap Mexican joint complete with Woodstock-themed decorations, psychedelic tunes on the stereo, and a stoner dude at the cash register. I wouldn't say the burritos were expertly put together, but something about the way they season their bean glurp made them delicious. At some point while we were trying to eat, the owner of Taco Juan's materialized to hover over us while we were trying to eat, asking us if we liked the burritos and standing there waiting for an answer even if our mouths were full of food. Then he said a few things designed to humiliate his young stoner employee. Still, the employee seemed to look up to his boss, pointing him out in one of the old Woodstock '69 posters, back when the future burrito tycoon worked a sound board.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next