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:
   buyer's remorse?
Friday, July 2 2021

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Today I would be getting out of work early (as is the custom at my employer before a three-day weekend) and Gretchen and I would be driving up to the new cabin on Woodworth Lake so we'd be there to attend the annual homeowners' association get-together tomorrow. We loaded the futon from Gretchen's screened-in porch into the seatless back of the Chevy Bolt along with a dog bed and various supplies we'd need in a house having no electricity or running water (mostly jugs of water, battery-powered lamps, and lots of batteries for charging cellphones). The weather was predicted to be cold (highs in the low 60s) and rainy, so we also packed jackets, though for some reason I only brought one pair of socks (which is never enough on a cold rainy vacation). We drove directly to the Honest Weight Food Coop, where we parked in one of their several electrical-vehicle charging spots (where the electricity is free) and went shopping, mostly for prepared foods, since we would not have access to a kitchen or any way to heat food. We'd left in such a hurry that we'd also neglected to bring any means to keep food cool, though maybe that wouldn't be much of a problem since we'd only be in the Adirodacks until Sunday morning.
I got a Beyond-Burger-based "Cowboy Burger" (it included jalapeños and perhaps crumbled corn chips) from the deli, and Gretchen got a portobello burger, though only I was hungry enough to eat my burger while it was still hot. We sat out in Honest Weight's outdoor eating area with the dogs, and eventually a light drizzle started to fall out of the concrete sky. I should mention that in Honest Weight all the signs are still up about wearing masks and such, but they're no longer being enforced. Only about a quarter of the customers weren't wearing masks, and that number included us.
Google Maps always sends us on needlessly complicated routes to get to Woodworth Lake (or, before that, Lake Edward), and this time we tried to commit it to memory, mostly without success. It seemed that at some point we should be able to get to our cabin without relying on GPS. Along the way, we passed increasingly shrill pro-Trump yard signs and flags. One family was actually flying a huge flag from their front porch that read "FUCK BIDEN." How much do you have to hate Biden to do that to your neighborhood? And the thing is, not even Donald Trump is directing hate at Joe Biden, whom he dismisses as a befuddled old man letting ANTIFA and the even-worse (because look at them!) Black Lives Matter run his administration.
When we got to the Woodworth Lake area, our first stop was at a log cabin owned by a guy named Ed, who'd said we could charge our car at his place. His cabin was palatial structure, and though it was bustling with multigenerational family activity, it took awhile to get someone to answer the door. But then we were talking to Ed's wife and then Ed, who showed us around their four-year-old slice of heaven. Out the back, it has a great view of a body of water that turned out to be Hines Pond, which Gretchen and I had first seen when snooping around the old Woodworth Lake boyscout camp back in 2015. But Hines Pond is not much of a lake for swimming; its shallow, full of snapping turtles, its edges look like prime moose habitat, and it turns out Ed isn't even allowed to build a dock on it because of its classification. Ed seemed like a fun guy, like he might be full of stories and gossip, something teased by his wife telling him several times to "be nice" as he was about to launch into a recounting of the trouble he had with a neighbor trying to get electricity to his cabin.
And then we drove to our cabin. Its roof was complete and most of the decks have been built, although there were no easy steps from the bare soil of the jobsite to the front door or any of the decks. There was a step ladder allowing someone to get in the front door, but that wouldn't work for the dogs. The site was fairly clean, with only a few organized piles of lumber and other supplies, a single very large dumpster, a large backhoe (apparently there for septic field work), a locked equipment trailer, and a port-a-potty perfumed with cloying disinfectant. Though it was raining, there wasn't all that much mud, mostly because sand and been dumped against the foundation and spread around the site, which tended to cause puddles to drain away into the foundation drainage. I quickly set up a ramp using two long, wide planks leaned against the south deck, both supported in the middle with a single short plank pressed into the sand. The first iteration of this slid around too much and collapsed when Gretchen went to climb it, so the second time I pressed it into the sand on the bottom and also decided only the dogs should use it. They were reluctant at first, but soon got the hang of it.
Inside, the cabin was a patchwork of parts that were complete (including insulation, drywall, and even switch plates) and parts that were completely raw, with just enough wall to keep out the rain (this was especially true upstairs). The only flooring was plywood subfloor, so it was on that that we set up our futon and dog bed. Gretchen had initially had plans to bring folding chairs, but she'd forgotten them too, so there really wasn't any comfortable place to sit. Instead it was best to lie or crouch on the futon while doing things like grazing on the food we'd brought.
It wasn't raining much at 8:00pm, so Gretchen and I walked with the dogs down to the shore of Woodworth Lake, some 800 feet east of our cabin. We took the most direct route there, using mostly the remains of an old logging road as our trail. Then at the shoreline, we looked out across the water at some teenagers in a canoe as they shouted things among themselves while operating a drone that hovered ominously several dozen feet above the water. I could tell Gretchen was feeling a little unhappy, so I asked "buyer's remorse?" "It is a really small lake," she agreed. We looked at the site where our dock will have to go and tried to figure out how it would integrate with a hump of ground less than eight feet from the water's edge. By then it was quickly getting dark, so we headed back to the cabin the way we'd come, with Gretchen measuring the amount of time it took. It came to eight minutes, which seemed like a lot. "Buyer's remorse?" I asked again.
At around 10:00pm, we closed the dogs up in the house and drove over to Ed's place so we could begin recharging the Chevy Bolt at his garage. He'd offered to drive us back to our cabin tonight, which seemed nice because otherwise we'd have to walk a mile in the dark as it rained. Still, the danger with someone like Ed is that one will get up sucked into his story-telling vortex. On the drive to the cabin, he said that someone had suggested his next car be electric, and we discussed the technology at some length. He also told us that he'd retired at the age of 60 and no longer has to drive into New York City. I'm sure part of why Ed wanted to drive us to our cabin was so he could see it, and then there it was. It's really something to behold, particularly when one knows how recently this had just been a clearing in the forest.
Once the cabin was dark, there wasn't a whole lot to do, and I didn't feel like reading, so I put my head under a pillow and did my best to fall asleep. Waves of heartburn tormented me, but I'd brought no antacid. It was just as well, I decided, as the book Gut had convinced me that my use of antacids has become a form of dependency.
The dog bed we'd brought was big enough for both dogs, but they weren't really on board with using it, and even when we'd picked them up and stuck them on it, they'd eventually sneak back onto the bed at some point in the night.

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