the edge of solar capability
Sunday, May 21 2023
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
My guts were still unsettled when I woke up early this morning, and it ended up being another day of antacids and the kind of malaise that made me want to lie in a couch instead of sit in a chair. I made myself a french press of coffee, but all I could drink of it was a single cup before deciding I shouldn't drink any more (and going back to the mint with lemon-ginger Gretchen had made me last night). I decided that I wouldn't be drinking any kratom tea or alcohol today either, an unsual Sunday of abstinence.
There had been some rain last night to make the pioneer plants in our sandy building site happy. Unfortunately, though, the clouds persisted into the day, making it so we couldn't gather much solar energy. We'd had cloudy conditions yesterday as well and it was looking like we might not collect enough to make it home in our Chevy Bolt. We had options of course: we could stop at the ElectrifyAmerica charging area in the parking lot of the Albany Walmart. Or we could run our generator for a bit. It's very inefficient recharge a car battery with a fossil-fuel-powered generator (it would actually be more environmentally-sound to drive a vehicle with an internal combustion engine), but if I am doing something else, such as heating the water in the hot water tank or recharging the cabin's battery, then it could be justified. In the end, we would decide to run the generator for about a half hour.
First, though we spent most of the day at the cabin. I continued work at the cable-burying project, painfulling tearing the nail on the middle finger of my left hand in the process. The cooler conditions made it so the annoying gnats of May initially weren't as plentiful, which made the cable burying project not as unpleasant as it had been yesterday, but later when the sun came out, they got bad. Between the gnat bites, the destroyed fingernails, injuries to the soles of my feet from stepping on sharp sticks on the barefoot walk to the lake yesterday, and the lingering damage from poking a hot copper pipe into my right pinkie three weeks ago, my body was a mess. And that's not even counting whatever was going on in my guts.
Gretchen kept talking about us maybe going on a hike to Lake Edward, but we never actually did it. If we did go, we'd want to sneak out so the dogs wouldn't follow us (because they're too decrepit to make it the whole way there and back). At one point I thought Gretchen might've gone down to Woodworth Lake and I could find her down there and we could sneak off to Lake Edwards, but I went all the way down there and never found her because she'd been hiking to the radio tower instead.
I did make a few forays down our nascent Lake Edward trail to clear it and perhaps mark it better, but even with the help of a compass I lose track of where it goes about 700 feet west of the cabin (less than a fifth of a way to Lake Edward).
In the late afternoon, I ran the generator so I could put about 20 more miles of range into the Bolt while also reheating the water in the hot water tank using propane (since I'd had the heat-exchanger-based water heating system off to conserve power). Gretchen also used the occasion to take a shower, which didn't seem to affect the hot water recirculation that was using propane to rapidly heat the water in the heat-pump-powered hot water tank.
On the drive back to Hurley, Gretchen called Powerful to talk first about his new job and then about the ongoing drama in her brother's family. According to Powerful, there are a lot of shootings (something like a dozen) just in the area he and his group presides over every weekend in Albany. His job is to go out into the community and try to convince people not to settle arguments with guns. To do so, he draws on his experience as a juvenile delinquent out on the streets, the kind of lifestyle that led to him being in prison for 25 years. Sometimes he also goes into a community after a shooting to hand out literature, and other times he goes to the hospital to meet with shooting victims. He said the job is actually fairly dangerous, but it's exciting and rewarding, and he seems to be having a great time doing it. Best of all, it comes with a steady paycheck and a healthcare plan good enough for the needs of a heart transplant recipient.
Back in Hurley, after eating tacos made with leftover chili, I took a nice hot bath, soaking all my injuries in the restorative solar-heated water. (I'm sure there's a pseudoscience about solar-heat water somewhere.)
The cabin today, viewed from the southwest. The green clumps are mostly sweet clover.
Click to enlarge.
A reedy wetland down the hill west of the cabin about 700 feet.
Click to enlarge.
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