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:
   my mother's childish argumentative smokescreen
Thursday, July 29 2021

location: room 202, Hotel 24 South, Staunton, Virginia

I would be spending the night in Charlottesville, so I checked of Hotel 24 South this morning at 9:00am and then drove out to Creekside. I found my mother Hoagie with her dog Maple wandering in the dense weeds between the back of the trailer and Folly Mills Creek. She seemed like she might be lost in an dementia-meets-parking-lot type way, though she recognized me, at least to some extent, and was happy prattle at me about nothing while I crossed the crude bridge over the creek and looked at the old body shop, now almost lost beneath vines and overhanging trees.
Eventually I returned to the trailer and Hoagie found her way back inside. My main task this morning was to make Hoagie and my brother Don another hearty bagel-based meal, this one featuring seitan-based "bacon," mushrooms, and onions. Of these things, the one thing the house had in abundance was onions, but for everything else (including the cooking oil) I had to provide it. Don claimed his appetite wasn't as strong as usual, which might've been related to the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine he'd received yesterday. For her part, Hoagie seemed pretty chipper, prattling on repeatedly about how easy getting the vaccines had been yesterday. I knew better than to warn her that Linda, a woman from Adult Protective Services, would be coming over later to discuss the thousands of IOUs written by Sara L. Kesterson. (Gretchen had remarked to me on how seriously APS seemed to be taking this clear evidence of elder abuse.) Yesterday when I'd told her DeeDee would be coming over, she said she would try to "not be around," when that happened. This is a woman who is supposed to be looking after Don, but she shows no interest in either providing for him or providing any assistance to anyone else who wants to. To her it's all unpleasantness that is best avoided, though, as I've told her serveral times on this trip, she'd said she didn't want to talk about it "now" 20 years ago, and there's been no good time to talk about any of this stuff since. She's like a Republican politician confronted with the carnage of a school shooting not wanting to talk about America's gun pathology "now."
The bagel sandwiches were Dagwoodian in their thickness, and both Hoagie and Don gobbled theirs down with gusto. Don then wanted a second one, which sat there on a plate for a long time due to the ongoing issues with his appetite.
At 2:00pm, Linda from social services arrived. She knocked at the door, and before Hoagie could freak out, I took Linda to the back of my car to show her just a small sample of the many IOUs written by Sara L. Kesterson. I then told Linda that my mother was not going to be happy discussing this matter given how embarassing and unpleasant it all was. Furthermore, since Hoagie has not allowed social services to discuss her case with me at all, it was unlikely I would know what the results of their investigation would be. Nonetheless, I said I would be happy to provide the evidence to law enforcement or whoever. We also talked about other things related to Hoagie and Don such as their current financial situation (something of an unkown, one likely negatively impacted by Sara L. Kesterson's unpaid loans). I mentioned that I'd gotten Hoagie and Don the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday, and Linda was overjoyed, saying that one of the things she'd intended to do today was get them vaccinated.
We then went into the trailer to talk with Don and Hoagie about various things, partly so Linda could see their conditions and get a sense of how capable they were of tending to themselves. Of course, in so doing she was missing out on the piles of crap and filthy surfaces she'd see in my childhood home. And I never even got around to mentioning my mother's problem with hallucinations. We chatted for awhile and I actually learned something important after Don gave permission for Linda to tell me: Don is still getting his monthly SSI check. Evidently it continues to be auto-deposited into some account he shares with Hoagie. That made me feel a lot more positive about their continued financial viability. So then I abruptly announced that I had told Linda all about the Sara L. Kesterson situation, that I couldn't allow some random neighbor to loot my mother's bank account without saying anything. Hoagie didn't say much except that she was resentful of me getting into her stuff. And then she and Linda went off to Linda's car to discuss the matter in private. They were out there a surprisingly long time consideringly the fact that my mother hates discussing anything the least bit unpleasant. As that concluded, I was doing something that Joy Tarder had just called and asked me to do: I was adding Joy as one of Hoagie's official contacts at Augusta Medical Center so that she could get information necessary to get Hoagie to her appointments (in this case an MRI and something else). To get Joy added, I had to involve my mother, which was incredibly arduous and unpleasant for both me and Linda. Hoagie kept saying she didn't want to get up early because "I'm not a morning person," but if she were to go to later appointment, it would mean she couldn't eat until after the appointment, a restriction that was unenforceable. Hoagie was also demanding to know why she had to get the procedure given that she'd just had one. (The nurse checked the records and Hoagie's last procedure had been over a year ago.) I don't know how we got through my mother's childish argumentative smokescreen, but in the end the appointment was moved from tomorrow (which Joy couldn't do) to August 25th. Amusingly, one of Hoagie's existing "official contacts" for Augusta Medical Center was Sara L. Kesterson. I thought some progress had been made when it wasn't just Linda but also Hoagie saying that Sara should be removed from that list.
Linda hadn't been able to tell me anything about what was said in her private conversation with Hoagie, since she had forbidden her from doing so. I'm left to rifle through Hoagie's hoard in hopes of piecing together a picture of what is happening in her life, which will probably tell me more than anything she could tell me at this point anyway. Before she left, Linda took pictures of a small fraction of the IOUs Sara L. Kesterson had written to my mother. She said the law enforcement would be automatically getting involved, since there is still evidence of ongoing contact between Sara and my mother, at least as evidenced by Hoagie's Augusta Medical Center contact list.
After Linda left, Hoagie didn't seem as irate as I expected her to be. Perhaps that's one of the good things about her dementia; she has trouble remembering to be mad. There wasn't much left for me to do at Creekside other than show Don how to open one of Hoagie's childproof pill bottles, a task I would've expected him to master by now. Interestingly, getting him to both push down on a bottle cap and rotate it at the same time was nearly impossible. There was some limitation in his coordination that made it possible for him to do only one or the other. The inability of the bottle to open threw him into the frustrated rage I'd seen him go into many many times. It's a kind of rage I too can go into, usually when encountering a maddening computer interface or something designed to be assembled by an octopus.

It was now time to begin my Charlottesville phase of this particular Virginia trip. I quickly drove the Bolt over the Blue Ridge and into Charlottesville, stopping for crackers and an imperial version of Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA at Market Street Market. I found Janine and Nathan with Brian, their adorable lummox of a dog at their house on Little High Street. After a little chatting, mostly about my mother, Nathan showed me the work he'd been doing on a deck at the southeast corner of the house. He then showed me the gut-remodel happening in the basement. There'd once been an apartment down there, and the original plan had been for Janine and Nathan to live down there while renting out their upstairs. Now that their kids are fast-approaching the age where they will head off to college, it seems Nathan and Janine have revived this idea. It seemed a little dark and potentially humid down there, but it's hard to imagine a world comprised mostly of concrete surfaces ever being inhabitable.
Nathan then wanted to show me the new redevelopment that had happened down at Woolen Mills (in the southeast corner of the city). So I drove us there in my Bolt, and we went into a large rehabilitated space in what had been (I think) an abandoned textile factory. We had options to order with our phones using a QR code, but we opted instead to communicated with our very pleasant masked waitress. First we ordered little wine glasses of a strong imperial stout and then had the kind of fruity IPAs I like. Janine had given me a faux chicken patty, but I was still hungry, so I ordered veganized mushroom tacos, which were very good (and fairly spicy). I had to eat them all by myself, because Nathan doesn't like mushrooms (something I'd forgotten).
On the drive back from Woolen Mills, we checked out various electric vehicle charging stations to see if I could use them. The one in Woolen Mills itself seemed to only work with Teslas. So then we drove over to the old Martha Washington Hospital, which has been converted to the campus of Nathan's employer. Nathan knew of a charer over there, and when I saw it I immediately recognized it as a ChargePoint charger. (ChargePoint is the most common charger brand in New York State, and many can be used for free.) But when I swiped my ChargePoint barcode on it, it gave me a message suggesting this particular one was restricted to a group of people that didn't include me.
Back at Nathan's house, I hung out in the living room with Nathan, Brian, and Nathan's daughter J. I don't remember what all we discussed, but it was the usual punchline-filled banter and cascade of stories topping each other. Nathan offered me a third beer from the six pack I'd brought over, but I knew enough to decline it, thus avoiding a headache tomorrow. I ended up sleeping on the couch. Unfortunately Brian slept elsewhere.

A makeshift bridge over Folly Mills Creek as it runs between the Creekside trailer
and the old auto body repair shop that operated from the late 1970s through the 1990s.

Lenny the Cat and Maple the Dog on the front stoop of Creekside.
Don told me Lenny attacked Maple for no reason a month or so ago,
but they're now getting along well again. Click to enlarge.

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