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:
   unpleasant firewood processing
Monday, April 29 2024

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Before she headed off for her shift at the bookstore in Woodstock, Gretchen presented me with a list of three chores I needed to do either today or this week (I wasn't sure). She wanted me to apply some order to some of the chaos in the mud room (which still has some lingering entropy from our minisplit installation back in January). Then she wanted me to go through my socks and find all the Bombas with holes in them (which would be all of them) so she could return them to Bombas and get free replacements. (I don't really like Bombas because they're too tight on my wide Neanderthal feet and lower calves, but if they're going to be free socks-for-life, sign me up!) Finally and most importantly, Gretchen wanted me to straighten up and mow the yard. She's tired of all the firewood clutter, some of which has lain around in the same places for nearly two years. There's also accumulated crap just north of the house, some of which has lain there for well over ten years.
I didn't get around to tackling any of this until after 1:00pm, when I started on the firewood. Somewhere between the front door of the house and the woodshed were some big ugly pieces of silver maple and tree of heaven that were already firewood-length but needed to be split, but the silver maple was twisted and I'd had no luck so far ever splitting a piece of tree of heaven, so that was why they'd gone unprocessed for so long. Today I managed to split up three such pieces, but it wasn't easy. Not only did it require either multiple hard strikes with the splitting maul or the use of wedges, but my left shoulder still isn't 100% recovered from falling down the stairs at the cabin last July and my right elbow still has some problem tennis-elbow-style that hasn't resolved. On top of all that, those annoying little midges were buzzing in front of my face just like in the Adirondacks (I don't know why they appeared 100 miles north of here before they appeared here). Then I disposed of all the clutter north of the house, either piling it up to be taken to the dump, organizing it neatly, or (in the case of two old sawbucks that came with the house but that have since fallen apart) concealing them in a pile of sticks just north of the greenhouse. With all that out of the way, I could then mow the lawn.
When I went to get the mail today, I saw that Herbie the tree frog was back inside our mailbox, having spent the winter wherever it is tree frogs do that. I have to imagine it's the same tree frog.
While taking the dogs for a walk west of the Farm Road, the midges were especially bad. It helps knowing that midge season is a short one, though Gretchen says she's already been attacked by mosquitoes, so there really is no period in the warm weather when you can just lie around outside unbothered unless there's a drought, freakish winter warm spell, or some other weather anomaly.

At around 5:00pm, I loaded the dogs into the Forester and drove to Woodstock, where I met Gretchen at the bookstore for dinner. She had a lot of shopping errands to run in preparation for our guests arriving this week, and this included picking up some wine she'd tried to buy at the nearby wine store (until she realized she didn't have her wallet). On the way to Bearsville, we stopped at Sunfrost for some fresh vegetables, and then after dinner we went to Sunflower and then the Hurley Ridge Hannaford. For dinner, though, the weather was so nice that we could sit with our dogs on the streamside terrace outside the Bear Cantina and eat delicious vegan upscale 80s-style Mexican food. I ate my food very quickly, as I often do, something that still somehow both amazes and disturbs Gretchen. But evidently I do it so slyly that she doesn't really notice me wolfing down my food. Instead she just notes that suddenly very little is left on my plate. But that's how I like to eat; the alternative is lingering over it while it slowly cools down, which (especially for Mexican food) makes it less than ideal (at least for the likes of me). My feeling is that there really is no right way to eat, though for some reason Gretchen feels I should be eating more like the way she does.
At the end of our meal, a middle aged couple arrived for dinner and wanted to say hello to our dogs. It turned out they were from Toronto and had come down to volunteer at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. So of course the conversation immediately went to veganism and animal rights. At the time, though, Gretchen was wearing her New York Abortion Access Fund teeshirt, so that topic also came up briefly in the context of veganism (that is, people who believe in reproductive choice probably shouldn't be consuming dairy products, since that whole industry is essentially built on rape and forced-birth).

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