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:
   Thanksgiving 2015
Thursday, November 26 2015
Gretchen immediately began cooking this morning and I quickly stoked up a hot fire from coals that had stayed burning through the night. Gretchen's mother wanted to clean, and that put pressure on me to clean, since she was wondering how she might clean around the woodstove and I couldn't imagine anyone but me doing such a job. As Gretchen put it, that is my "domain" and I am "proprietary" about it. But I'm that way for good reason; in the past, I've told people to, say, not clean out the ashes and leave that job for me. But then they did it anyway, putting hot coals in a plastic bucket that then burned their way out and left scorch marks on the floor that are still there to this day. There are also biggish rocks around the stove (used occasionally as "heat batteries") that I couldn't visualize Gretchen's mother lifting. So I waged defensive holy jihad against the ash and wood debris around the woodstove. Also for the first time, I took all of Ramona's toys from where we keep them on the stove pedestal and moved them to a deep plastic tray that will serve (for the time being) as a toy box. I went on to vacuum the living room area rug and all the many places where dust and the bunnies they evolve into tend to collect. When all of that was done, I made another quick foray down the Stick Trail to salvage firewood, returning again to the place may 200 feet southeast of the Chamomile crossing. Today's load came to 117.95 pounds, and after splitting it up and bringing it inside, it nearly filled the living room wood rack.
People began arriving for our Thanksgiving feast at about 2:00pm, beginning with Susan, then Eva & Sandor. I think David came separately. Then we had the simultaneous arrival of a bunch of people who wouldn't be staying for the meal but would be hanging out for a couple hours beforehand. This included Maresa and Mark, Q & N and their puppy Coach Eric Taylor, Nancy, Kim (Ray's older brother), and a couple of Kim's friends, including a thin youngish blond woman who looked so different from people in our group that I thought maybe she was crashing our party. Her boyfriend was a French gentleman named Jerome who was delighted that we would be allowed to carry beer with us on a walk through the forest. Nancy and Kim had both brought their dogs Jack & Bruce, and the youngish blond woman had brought a tiny ten-year-old Dachshund named Thunder, so there were six dogs on that walk, as well as something like ten humans. Only three of us wore blaze-orange caps, but it would have taken an unusually drunk hunter to mistake our entourage for one or more deer. As always, my homemade NAMBLA cap was quite the conversation-starter.

Temperatures had warmed substantially since yesterday, and my constant stoking of the woodstove eventually raised the living room to a temperature that was too hot even for Gretchen's mother. As we returned from our walk in the forest, she was opening windows and doors. That was a first, and I'd like it to also be a last; turning that hard-won heat loose upon the world is the kind of casual wastefulness that is both unnecessary and, for me, psychically painful. It's to avoid bearing witness to such casual wastefulness that I so often elbow others aside so I can be the one to wash the dishes; I particularly hate it when someone leaves hot water running as they meticulously scrub a dish far from the flow.
When all the people and dogs who wouldn't be participating in the meal departed, our party lost four dogs and eight people, leaving just nine of us, which is about the maximum we can seat around our dining room table. By this point, I'd grazed so heavily on finger food that I didn't have much of an appetite. What appetite I did have didn't seem to want to eat the roasted vegetables or the lentil roulade (the thing that had smelled like Indian cooking yesterday). I took one bite of the latter, and there was a bitterness there that told me there was no way I'd be choking it down. The same was true of the endive. Really, the only thing I liked during the meal itself was the "cheese" potato dish Sarah the Vegan had brought. I didn't even like Gretchen's noodle bake, which seemed to have a weird aftertaste. Dinner conversation was utterly dominated by Gretchen's father, though occasionally I'd pipe up to say something like, "What I wish about everyone here is that you'd had more children." Everyone there except Gretchen's parents were childless by choice.
After the dessert course (which was revolting with whipped cream), we retired to the living room. And then Susan went around demonstrating an app on her iPhone called MotionPortrait that animated static portraits, creepily blinking their eyes and making them repeat things heard through the microphone, speaking with toothily humanlike mouths. Susan had an almost sadistic glee as she had the app animate a sheep she'd painted. Then she did it with a portrait of Celeste (aka "the Baby") that I'd painted. I thought it was awesome, but Gretchen was thoroughly skeeved out, and it launched us into a discussion of the uncanny valley. The blinking eyes in the resulting animations reminded me of the "Terrorist Dressup" game I'd made back in 2002, which I managed to track down and demonstrate on my Chromebook. That "game" is more than 13 years old, and it still plays so long as you have Flash installed in your browser.
As everyone took to-go containers and prepared head home, I started washing dishes in ernest. When you serve a three-course meal to nine people and offer coffee afterwards, that creates a lot of dishes. For the most part, dishes that have been in contact with vegan food are a lot easier to wash than dishes that have touched cheese or meat. But once whipped cream from tonight's desserts (the ones from a vegan bakery in Bethlehem, PA) touched a dish, I had to hit it with several passes of soap and hot water or it remained oily to the touch. Fortunately, the dogs were happy to eat that whipped cream even if the humans had largely scraped it off and then avoided it. Ultimately, the only real limitation to my dishwashing was drying rack space. But after an hour or so, the first batch of dishes had dried in the warm woodstove-heated air and I could free up more.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next