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:
   being seedy, 2014
Saturday, September 20 2014
Today was the annual day to "be seedy" (whatever that means) at the Hudson Valley Seed Library. Gretchen packed an elaborate picnic to which my only contribution was a cucumber-sauerkraut-fake-turkey-lettuce-and-mustard sandwich intended to be eaten only by me. I managed to stuff it into a little round pyrex container which promised to keep it from dehydrating, disintegrating, or being crushed.
We'd brought our dogs, of course, but we initially left them in the car while going to check out the seedy festivities, already in progress. Everything was centered at a big beautiful building that used to be a sagging abandoned insurance liability. After being gutted, jacked up, a brand new foundation installed underneath, and mostly resurfaced, it looks like a brand new (and very simple) building. There is still some of the original structure in the walls, though the studs have been furred-out so the building could be hyperinsulated. The only surface from the original structure on display were the original floor boards in most of the space. These had been repainted, and though they showed signs of wear and repair, they nevertheless provided a businesslike surface for walking around. There was also a fancier apartment in the building designed for house guests (mostly parents) when they come to visit, though it will also be available to the public through Air B-n-B. The apartment was spare and fancy with seemingly top-of-the-line sinks and tile that had somehow all come from Ikea. The fancy shower looked like something Donald Trump might use when freshening up the ole combover, though it had come from Lowes. There was nothing anywhere near that fancy at Lowes twelve years ago when Gretch and I were looking for something other than McMansion craptastic or kountry kabin kute. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that the new seed library building is amazing. From the outside, the building is a bit bland and boxy, but it sure beats the trailer that used to be the seed library office building.
While touring the seed library building, Michæl and Carrie (who live on the seed library compound) introduced us to Carrie's parents (actually, I was the only one who hadn't yet met them). They're the parents currently staying in the fancy new apartment. Their story is that Carrie's father is a former priest and her mother is a former nun.
Later, after buying some rye grains (a cover crop) and other seed library seeds, Michæl and I tried to keep Ramona and Eleanor separate from Gretchen so that she could join a tour of the seed-growing operation (already in progress). But of course the dogs slipped away and joined the tour, largely without incident. Michæl and I eventually did get the dogs away and offered them a tour of the forest and creek back behind the fields, though it was still a bit cool and only Michæl's dog Penny went for a soak in the doggy swimming hole. Adjacent to that was a ring of rocks that had been recently placed by a group of visiting little girls, who had reportedly gotten naked and built themselves a make-believe "spa."
We spent the rest of our time at the seed libary campus (and one could now call it that) in the yard next to Michæl and Carrie's house with them, Penny, and our dogs, having a little picnic. Gretchen had made a big lentil salad and brought various crackers and chips (including Goya-brand garlic plantain chips, a recent discovery of mine). To this, Michæl and Carrie contributed hummus, guacamole, more crackers, and beer. Carrie will soon be going to China to accompany her sister as she adopts a baby from an orphanage there, and much of the conversation was about this. Itineraries and travel logistics bore me. At some point a man, woman, a little boy showed up, friends of Michæl and Carrie. The man was a carpenter and the little boy was holding a shim of wood. For some reason Ramona absolutely had to have that shim, and, after dogging him repeatedly, she managed to steal it. I retrieved it for him, but the kid didn't care. They were all a lot more mellow about Ramona than anyone else in that situation would have been.
After our picnic, we went briefly in Michæl and Carrie's house before leaving, and it felt like we'd waded into a decadently air-conditioned space. But it was merely the cold air trapped earlier in the day (and week). The air outside had warmed precipitously in the couple hours we'd been there.

Back in the greenhouse basement, my ability to continue digging downward has been limited by a persistent inch of water that has been on the floor of the excavation since before Gretchen and I went to the Adirondacks. This is what has caused me to focus the digging of peripheral regions of the hole, such as that weak mass of rock that had once served as the support for the north end of the floor girder. By today, I'd removed most of the rock in the space beneath the cantilevered girder support. But there were still a couple odd pieces of bluestone jutting out. I wanted to snap them off cleanly so the wall around the deepest part of the excavation would be uniformly vertical. At some point I realized that I could slide a car jack under the jutting rock and force it upward until it snapped off. So I began jacking up the rock, and nothing was happening, At some point it became much harder to continue raising the jack than I've ever had jacking up a car, suggesting that I was dealing with many thousands of pounds of resistance. That spooked me, because if and when that rock cracked off, it could have an obscene amount of energy stored in it. Rock isn't very flexible and can't store energy like wood can, but when one is dealing with huge forces, there's no telling what can happen. So I chickened out and lowered the jack back down. The rock didn't appear to have moved at all. I am, however, able to move it a tiny amount eastward and westward by prying it with a huge metal digging bar.

This evening Sarah the Vegan and Nancy came over to watch the 1978 movie version of Grease. Evidently they hadn't gotten a sufficient dose of it by watching the live musical yesterday in Rhinebeck. Sarah had stopped at Chipotle along the way (it's near her house) and had brought burritos for everyone. Oddly, she'd asked the burrito artist to make the one intended for me "extra spicy" and for some reason it wound up being about half the volume of the other burritos. This ended up being good for me, because I've been trying not to overeat lately. When I don't overeat, I tend not to get heartburn. And when I don't get heartburn, I don't have to eat antacids to be content.
I watched some Grease with the ladies, though eventually I'd seen enough and went down to the greenhouse to do some more jackhammering. When I got back, Grease was nearing the end. Olivia Newton John (as "Sandy") had abandoned her virginal boringness and adopted a big poofy hairdo and a tight black outfit, both of which struck me as less sexy than her former guise. But that look she adopted evidently impressed a lot of people back in 1978; it is the model for the 1980s, which I regard as an unprecedentedly ugly decade.
After the Grease, Gretchen was playing with Celeste the Kitten and Celeste's favorite toy, a brazil-nut-shaped plastic object with a long springy string attached to it (the latter used to be wrapped around the former to make a poor facsimile of a mouse). At some point during this, we noticed that Celeste was no longer placing any weight on her left hind leg. She's been reminding us a lot of Ramona the Dog lately, and now suddenly she's suffering from a leg problem just like Ramona had. Or else she's gradually turning into a three legger. Hopefully she won't be needing $2000 worth of surgery.
As for Phoebe the Three-legger, we've received word that she has shown up at Jeff's place down on Hurley Mountain Road and resumed living the kind of life she evidently prefers.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next