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:
   slimy drywall on salvaged tiles
Saturday, March 9 2019
Before Saturday morning coffee, I ripped out the 3/8 diameter inch fiberglass gasket I'd installed last week around the door of the woodstove (what a mess) and glued in a 3/4 inch diameter replacment. The new one filled the gap around the door perfectly, though (in order to properly follow the glue instructions) I then had to wait an hour before firing up the stove. Fortunately, it was sunny enough that the living room was fairly comfortable with no wood-fueled fire.
Today was warmer than it has been for over a week, perhaps warm enough for me to cut tile with a wetsaw, which is something I will need to use to install the kitchen backsplash (as well as fixes for the floor using salvaged tile from the old backsplash). That's an operation that is so messy it must be done outdoors and cannot be done without being showered with a cold slurry of ground-up tile. It's not the kind of thing I would do when temperatures are below freezing. But if it's sunny and warmer than 40 degrees, well, maybe. In a vague nod in this direction, I began preparing the floor at the south end of the kitchen island. This mostly involved the removal of linoleum that had been trapped like in a time capsule beneath the old island. But the new island was smaller on the bottom, and that was why I had to be installing filler tile (removed from the old backsplash, which had consisted of leftover floor tiles).
To get that old backsplash tile off the drywall, I'd been soaking some of it in a bucket of water in the garage and (for the big pieces) in the flooded well of the greenhouse basement (which is a reliably-large pool of unfrozen water that I use for various purposes year-round). For the first time since getting back from Costa Rica, I went down to the greenhouse basement to try to retrieve some of these soaking tiles (and also water the plants down there). It took some hacking with the ice chopper to just get through the door, but once inside, I found it toasty warm in there. For the past two years I'd kept a couple of orchids alive in the greenhouse basement, but a brutally-cold outbreak of the polar vortex had killed them in early January with a chill that wasn nevetheless not cold enough to kill the spider plant (and other tropical plants down there). As for the soaking tile, the biggest chunk of it had fallen into the abysss and now it lay beneath three or four feet of bone-chilling water. I left that there for the time being and retrieved the smaller piece that lay on a rocky shelf a few inches above the present water line.
The relatively nice weather also made it possible for me to replace the 12 volt battery in the Prius. But when I opened up the hood, I realized I didn't know where exactly the 12 volt battery lives in a Prius. After a Google search, I knew to remove the floor from the wayback. The battery was along the passenger-side wall near the spare tire, hiding behind a few removable panels of plastic. Fortunately, in the 2010 model one doesn't have to remove ductwork or other crap to get to it. As I worked, I listened to a YouTube video providing the backstory and analysis of the Pink Floyd album Animals.
Snow and sleet had been predicted for tomorrow, and I wanted to get some just-in-time firewood so as not to burn through the woodshed's third tranche so quickly. So I set out south down the Stick Trail with my backpack and big Kobalt saw. The goal was to find a dry, not very large tree. I would take the first of these I found. Unfortunately, since the nearby forest is so picked-over at this point, I had to walk over a quarter of a mile to find a suitable tree (it was on a slope above the Stick Trail on the boundary with the next parcel west). This was signficantly beyond where I'd been doing most of my salvaging. But the wood I found (I think it was red oak) was very dry and easy to cut, and I soon had a nice big load (though my saw wasn't fully charged and kept crapping out on me). I could tell as I got to my feet that the load was a big one, and at times on the long walk home I thought about taking a break. But no, I made it all the way into the house and even managed to weigh it before setting it down. With rubber boots, sweat pants, a teeshirt, and a long-john shirt, I weighed almost exactly 180 pounds. With the backpack and salvaged wood (but not the saw), I weighed 303 pounds, meaning my load was 123 pounds. That's a lot, but nowhere near the record (near 160 pounds).
I spent much of the rest of the afternoon cleaning the salvaged backsplash tiles. I started out in the garage, using a cold chisel to remove the mooshy drywall, paper, and hopedfully some of the paint and thinset from the backs of the tile. Then I moved indoors and put them all in the kitchen sink and used a putty knife to clean them further. In the process, I made lots of small injuries to my hands, including a mysterious bruise under my right thumb nail that hurt whenever I brushed my thumbnail against things. By 8:00pm, I was ready for bed.
Meanwhile, Gretchen had gone with Sarah the Vegan and Nancy to Albany to watch a movie, eat Thai food, and get things from the Trader Joe's. I'd been asleep for hours by the time she returned.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next