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:
   septic mound of Christmas trees
Sunday, December 12 2010
Ray and his houseguest Eric came over this afternoon so that Ray could harvest a Christmas tree from one of the hundreds of White Pine saplings growing atop our septic mound (I say "mound" instead of "field" because it consists of a massive, geometrically-unnatural pile of trucked-in material). They showed up as I was in the laboratory typing up a tech-support ticket for one the several websites for which I am responsible, and for Eric was like diving in headfirst into my world. The laboratory is once again a cluttered landscape of pending and recently-completed projects (my old Sunbeam water heater/cooler, my telescoping copper lamp, and the new Sony Stereo perched awkwardly atop the Bosch jobsite stereo trash-picked by David of Penny and David. There were also at least two piles related to the recent fixing of the solar panel, one of which contained two nearly-intact sheets of glass, each measuring five feet by three feet. The laboratory is mind-blower even in its most tidy state, but looking as it does now, it's like walking into the mind of a schizophrenic.
Next we went down to the greenhouse, which, while less chaotic, has a certain surprising gravitas to it. It's also a little scary. As I pointed out, if it weren't flooded, I could potentially be keeping a gimp imprisoned beneath the hatch in the floor.
The potential Christmas trees on the septic mound ranged in height from a few inches to nearly ten feet in height. There were also three possible evergreen species to pick between: Eastern Juniper (aka "Red Cedar"), Eastern Hemlock, and White Pine. None had the nice full shape of an ideal Christmas tree, but at least the White Pines were radially symmetrical. (Back when I was a kid, I used to harvest Christmas trees from the reforesting lower slopes of Pileated Peak, across the road from my childhood home. In those days I only used Virginia Pines for Christmas trees, since they tended to be fuller than either Eastern Junipers or Pitch Pines. As for White Pines, aside from the ones I'd planted, they could only be found in the understory near the tops of the hills. And Eastern Hemlocks were even rarer.) Eventually Ray settled on a tree about six feet in height. As with all the other trees, it was a little sparse near the top due to the long limbless growth spurt that had been experienced during the unusually rainy spring and summer of 2009.

Throughout the day, the weather was much warmer than it had been in weeks. Torrential rains fell last night and at various times today, completely refilling the greenhouse cistern up to its overflow drainpipe. Clouds blew in from the south and hugged the ground in the lowlands, though they avoided the highlands (such as the terrain around our house). I was moved to take a few photographs.

A view from the dining room east toward the Esopus Valley when after the crazy clouds rolled in. You can see the septic mound with its White Pine saplings in the foreground.

A telephoto view of the Esopus Valley and Shaupeneak Ridge (background right) from the solar deck today.

The greenhouse (left) and brownhouse (right) today as seen from the solar deck. In the top right are more of the septic mound's White Pines.

This evening I went down to the greenhouse and went through the bother of attaching hardware to the hatch that covers the well/cistern under the floor. This hardware consisted of two hinges and the kind of ring handle that folds flush after when not in use. To attach all this hardware, I had to bang away for awhile with a mallet and a chisel. I've gotten good at cutting precise-but-arbitrary voids into wood this way. The main thing to understand when chiseling is the difference between cutting with and across the grain. My skills might be to the point where I could successfully carve wood into sculptures.

This evening I watched the last of The Cooler (which I had been watching in little pieces for the past few nights). The whole notion that someone could, by his mere presence, influence the luck of others, is absurd. But the thing about a movie is that the outcome of "luck" can be completely scripted and can fall in whatever direction best serves the plot. So our protagonist (played by William H. Macy) can play the role of a successful cooler. And when he falls in love and his luck starts to change, the plot can make his cooling powers suddenly evaporate. There were so many such brutal changes of luck in The Cooler that the it felt like a work of magical realism.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next