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:
   teenage lovebirds
Sunday, August 6 2023

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

Gretchen and the inlaws (and the significant other of my niece, more on that individual later) would be arriving today from Hurley this afternoon, so I didn't put all that much work into my foundation insulation project today. I did, however, fill in the ditch between the generator and the cabin's northwest wall to begin buying (and thus better protecting) the propane lines. I also did a little preliminary soil removeal in the spot where the third sheet of stryofoam on the west wall will go. That piece goes next to the main trunk of the propane line coming from the propane tank en route to all its destinations in the cabin, so the digging will once again have to be careful (as it will for all digging along the west foundation wall).
I also went into the trench along the foundation's east wall and removed the props holding the last sheet of Wonderboard I'd glued in place to the styrofoam. With the props out of the way, I could then remove more of the fine muck that had washed into the bottom of the ditch. Eventually I'll be filling that ditch to within three feet of the bottom of the deck joists using soil removed from the east end of the south foundation wall. But I'm not there yet.

In preparation for the arrival of Gretchen and the inlaws, I spent a fair amount of time cleaning things up and making things tidy, as I knew Gretchen wouldn't want to bring everyone to the bachelor pad that the cabin sometimes becomes when I'm there by myself.
A little after noon, my sister-in-law's (J's) Subaru (still with Oregon plates) rolled up with the confidence of being driven by Gretchen. Then it disgorged all its cramped and road-weary passengers. The niece (S) and nephew (M) were largely similar to how they'd been looking, though S (who is now sixteen) had cut back her hair and added highlights, making herself look a lot less like Joey Ramone. My nephew M just completed his first year of college at the University of Oregon and had that look I recognized when people who had been square in high school decide to let themselves look more bohemian; as I later said to Gretchen, he looked a lot like someone we'd gone to Oberlin with named George Twigg IV. With our niece S was her lover Z, an obvious male who has pink hair and uses they/their pronouns, though they don't come across as especially sensitive, gay, effiminate, or even bookish. I'm not the first to point out that nearly alllifestyle choices made by kids of any generation are, essentially, means of making a claim on identity in a way that is, like all youth culture, copied largely unmodified from others of influence in their peer group. The sad fate of teenagers is to be insistent on their uniqueness while simultaneously being more conformist than they will probaby ever be again.
Everybody bumbled into the cabin and Gretchen gave a brief version of the tour. But teenagers don't really care about things like building layout and have no sense of what it costs to build or buy anything beyond a movie ticket, maybe a PlayStation, or a bottle of soda pop, and our sister-in-law doesn't care much about such things either, so the responses on the tour were far more muted than they had been for other guests. And S and Z are so in their own world, constantly draped on each other or giggling about things only they understand, that sometimes it's as if they aren't really present. I would find this behavior increasingly annoying over the weekend; it would remind me of how I feel when I'm totally sober and trying my best to socialize with people who are drunk.
Gretchen organized a collection of snacks and most everyone changed into swimming outfits, and our six human entourage (which also included the dogs Ramona and Neville) walked down to the lake. Again, there was surprisingly little comment about how stunning the lake was or even how nice the weather was. It was a little cooler than we would've preferred, but the skies were mostly sunny, about 20 or 30 percent filled with white puffy clouds. I fetched a canoe so the lovebirds could take it for a decidedly incompetent paddle near the dock (they couldn't manage to get it to go for more than a few dozen feet in any direction and spent most of their time giggling at each other). Ramona was in the canoe with them and whimpering most of the time. Gretchen dove into the water and went on a big swim and my nephew M swam a little near the dock. His mother J didn't get in the water at all but instead tried to read a book. Eventually when the lovebirds returned the canoe, I took Ramona for a proper paddle all the way to the beaver dam at the lake's outflow. While there, we both got out and waded into the pond created by the second beaver dam. The water was so deep in one place (about three feet) that Ramona was forced to swim. I gathered a few rocks to use for building steps on the the lower part of the trail coming to the dock from the cabin, mildly injuring my right foot in the process as I stubbed the soft tissue between my toes against the sharp end of the PVC pipe the Boy Scouts had run through the older, higher beaver dam. Back at the dock, nothing very interesting was happening. The lovebirds were still tittering away and there was no real conversation happening even though Gretchen (the most extroverted of our group) had returned from her swim. Eventually I managed to chat (mostly with my sister-in-law) about such topics as my recent layoff and falling down the stairs into the cabin basement. In an effort to make some kind of conversation, I also mentioned that perhaps this was the most humans we'd ever had on the dock at once, but that "it wasn't the heaviest" human payload it had carried. I expanded on this idea for awhile until Gretchen hit my arm and shot me a dirty look, because evidently issues related to human weight are to be avoided when certain Instagram-oppressed teenagers are present.
Not know what else to do, I went off with the small battery powered chainsaw (which I'd thought to bring to the dock) to clear some fallen woody debris which I knew was blocking the trail connecting the dock to the beaver dam area.
In my boredome, I spent some time floating around on the black inner tube near the dock and then paddling a kayak out across the lake to the waterfall tributary (which is one of the bigger sources of the lake's water input). While I was out there, Gretchen walked back to the cabin to prepare what would become some sort of lunch.
Back at the cabin, the six of us all ate our lunch out in the screened-in porch. Gretchen had made noodles with an peanut sauce and some sort of Asian cabbage-based salad. The "kids" are fussier eaters than adults, but they're also ravenously hungry all the time, and it soon became apparent that not only did Gretchen not cook quite enough noodles, but she'd cooked them in a way that wasn't fully to the liking of all those at the table. With a little plate-changing, though, there proved to be enough noodles for those who found them acceptable. And then at the end there was a fair amount of food waste, since that branch of the family apparently has no hangups about wasting food (something that just wasn't done in my family and something Gretchen doesn't do either except occasionally at restaurants).
Since socializing with the in-laws was proving to be more of a bore than I'd expected, I might've resumed work on my foundation insulation project. But the lovebirds had taken the room directly over where my next sheet of styrofoam was to go, and there was no curtain in their enormous window. Indeed, they'd even opened that window. [REDACTED]
Early this evening, Gretchen and I went with the dogs on a walk up to the radio tower and back, which gave us the opportunity to debrief on some of the things I've been mentioning. By this point Gretchen had been socializing with the Z and the family since Thursday and was socially exhausted. We gossiped about a few things such as [REDACTED] and also the obvious [REDACTED].
At some point we were all hanging out in the great room and my nephew M (who isn't very talkative but is always hungry) toasted the last of the SmartBacon in the toaster oven. That meant we were out of bacon, so there could be no BLTs. But maybe I could treat Tofurky like bacon and fry it up with mushrooms and onions. This sounded like a great idea to M & S, though apparently Z doesn't like mushrooms. This eventually turned into the basis for dinner, which Gretchen had originally planned around a huge pot of chili she'd made. But now that chili was just one of many options that could go into sandwiches. We also had vegan sausages, which, with the chili, could form the basis for the kind of chili dog you might encounter in a John Cougar Mellencamp song (especially when there are two teenage lovebirds around). By this point our sister-in-law was some combination of sick and tired, and was sleeping upstairs, so Gretchen and I had our dinner of improvised sandwiches with just the young folks out in the screened-in porch.
We'd never socialized with the kids in their older manifestation in any house that we own, so we were finding their behavior somewhat eye-opening. The kids raised by J never volunteer to wash dishes or help in any way. Instead, they can be counted on to leave wadded-up towels and clothes in the bathroom. Furthermore, they were evidently not brought up to say words like "thank you" or even "please." I know this sounds like the griping of a grumpy old man, but these are basic human protocols that make socializing with guests feel a lot less like simply being parasitized. As a consequence, Gretchen did most of the cooking, and she and I did nearly all the cleaning. The cooking and cleaning this afternoon needed to be nearly relentless to support the ravenous appetites of three teenagers. But then the lovebirds would go off to their lovenest to giggle themselves to sleep (sleeping being another huge part of the teenage experience).
While I was still washing dishes after dinner, Gretchen said she'd take over if I went out and started a fire in our firepit for s'mores (the creation of which is a vastly over-rated camping activity). So I grabbed a few sticks of dry wood from the indoor wood pile and combined them with cardboard, damp sticks from the woods, and pages torn from advanced-reader-copy books (which Gretchen has access to in great numbers) to get a fire going in the fire pit (which we hadn't used in about two years). While I was doing this, Z & S were somewhat helpful gathering kindling from the woods and then making s'more skewers from green beech and striped maple branches. I couldn't really get the fire going good until I used a foot-pumped bellows (the kind used for inflating an air mattress) to blast it with air. Z is a welder and jewelry maker in addition to being an ungendered lover, and the only real conversations he really engaged me in were on the topic of welding and forging (which the bellows reminded him of). Apparently he'd seen my welding equipment back in Hurley, though he'd thought my plasma cutter was a simple welder.
I don't eat s'more, but a campfire is a good excuse to crack open a beer. So I did precisely that, busting into one of the high-alcohol Dragon's Milks. S (who is, remember, 16, then asked Gretchen if she could have a beer. Gretchen didn't say anything, but I said sure, help yourself. Her mother was still out for the count so I was in loco parentis.
This whole time Gretchen had been playing a Spotify playlist that she'd started and that she'd allowed the kids to add to, so long as the musicians were "people of color." S mischieviously added an X Ray Specs song (since singer Poly Styrene was half Somali), but inevitably the playlist turned into nothing but classic-era Stevie Wonder songs.

The look of the cabin's northwest corner this morning before I started burying the gas lines. Click to enlarge.

The view of the boathouse from our dock early this afternoon. Click to enlarge.

Visitors to the dock, from left: Neville, Gretchen, M, Ramona, J, Z, and S. Click to enlarge.

S and Z attempting to paddle the canoe with Ramona aboard. Click to enlarge.

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