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:
   three sheets of styrofoam installed
Sunday, October 16 2022

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

Yesterday I'd managed to dig down to within a foot or so of the basement wall's footers, which gave me hope that I could install at least some of the styrofoam insulating panels at full-height, that is, resting on the footers. This morning after having my coffee and playing some Spelling Bee, I fired up my tunes (now including Guide by Voices' Bee Thousand) and resumed my digging. Before long, I'd reached a solid horizontal surface at the base of the foundation wall. This was the footer! As I scraped the sand away in places, occasionally I'd encounter a very thin plastic membrane, probably there to keep sand from getting into the gravel that likely lay beyond the footer. But I never dug out far enough from the wall to encounter the edge of the footer. I just focused on clearing a several-inch-wide swath of footer along the base of the wall for the panels to rest on. Then I installed my first panel, which I did after first trimming off an inch of its height (since the headroom available to it was one inch less than a full eight feet). I installed the first sheet on the east end of the north wall, wedged in between the wall and a drainage pipe taking water from the gutter overhead. As I worked to shove it to the end past the pipe, I triggered a small collapse of the trench wall, which forced me back down there with a small hand spade to clean things out so I could continue. Ideally I'd be removing as little material as possible (and I was pretty good about only removing a shovel's width in places). But the dry, sandy soil didn't maintain stable vertical structures particularly well, and I also had the issue of needing places in the trench to turn around and to climb up and down. These problems would probably get worse in other places where the footers are more deeply buried (here I was only having to dig down about four feet), though there I might decide not to bury full sheets of styrofoam.
I ended up installing all three of the four by eight foot styrofoam sheets, with two on the east end of the north wall (notched in one place for a basement window) and one on the north end of the east wall. That last one was a little tricky because of the lack of headroom due to the presence of the screened-in porch. But I made enough of modifications to the trench to be able to get it into place. I used a little ABS-friendly adhesive to stick these panels to the foundation wall in places, and in some places I had to use sticks to force the styrofoam flat while the glue cured. I had scraps of styrofoam leftover from trimming these sheets and various scraps stockpiled in the basement, some of which I dumped into the bottom of the trench to further insulate the footer (since otherwise it would be destined not to serve an insulating purpose buried in a landfill).
I then made further progress on my 240 volt cable burying project, advancing the amount of cable by about twenty feet without excessively damaging my fingernails (though I was working without gloves). I found that swinging the big mattock was far more exhausting than shoveling sand out of the trench had been. Fortunately the weather continued to be sunny and fairly warm.
And that was pretty much all I wanted to accomplish on this visit to the cabin. So I cleaned up the kitchen, made the bed, brought in the biggest of the tomato plants (in case there's another frost), and fixed myself my first alcoholic drink since Friday. After a little relaxing, I packed up the dogs, closed up the cabin, and started driving back to Hurley, leaving at around 4:30pm.

I made it back at 6:30pm, which is dusk at this time of year. Gretchen said she was feeling a little ill, though it was unlikely to be Covid. Still, it's better to be safe than worry about social conventions, so I slept in the greenhouse tonight. Temperatures were warm enough for this to be an option, though I did run the heater on low.

The east end of the north wall trench, viewed from the northwest.

The trench with new styrofoam at the east end of the north wall, viewed from the northeast.

A wider view of the northeast corner of the foundation wall. I put a tarp over the excavated soil so the next rain won't wash it away.

The stone pathway through the weeds at the beginning of the lake trail as it passes the west side of the cabin, viewed from the north. Click to enlarge.

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