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:
   two-porcupine Friday
Friday, May 10 2024

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

Colin, our cabinet installer from back in early 2019, was back this morning to replace a warped cabinet door and a discolored panel (so it would match all the freshly-replaced cabinet doors). We love our kitchen, but the fact that whoever at the factory failed to glue the doors together has resulted in a steady stream of problems, none of which were fixed until the doors were all replaced (at huge expense, not that we had to pay). We'd been irritated about the constant failure of the doors, but none of that was Colin's fault. Before he got started, he got a chance to meet Charlotte and say hello to old friends like Lester and Neville. He and I also chatted about solar heating systems. He told me about a very simple system he made for heating his pool.
After Gretchen got back from walking Charlotte, it was time for me to drive up the Adirondack cabin for the weekend. Meanwhile, Gretchen would be going to New York City to see some shows (including one starring our neighbor A), so it would just be me and the dogs at the cabin. Before I left, I gathered some nice stones I'd set aside along the Farm Road, which made the car a little heavier than usual. I also had two space heaters and that thermostat-controlled window fan, among other things. As usual, I took the scenic route through Middleburgh, stopping in Cairo for a loaf of sourdough bread, chips, cherries (which are apparently now in season), and a four pack of road beer. The ride was great until I went too fast through a green traffic light (one of very few on the route) at Route 30A's intersection with US 20. Something about the change in grade at US 20 caused the car to go briefly airborne and heard something pop in the back. Charlotte was terrified and spent the next twenty minutes sharing the front passenger seat with Neville. But the car was fine; what had happened was that some of the bluestone cargo had cracked apart into smaller pieces and it's possible a new crack had been installed in the window fan unit (though not in a way that affected its usefulness).
At the cabin, temperatures were around 50 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors and in the low 60s indoors. The woods were considerably greener than they'd been last weekend as leaves (particularly those of beech) had burst from their buds.
Down in the basement, I checked the humane mouse traps to see if they'd caught anyone, and what I found was two dead mice in separate traps. Evidently they'd been caught too early in the week to survive until Friday. It was hard not thinking about how terrible it was to be trapped in that little space for days with nothing to eat or drink. This was clear evidence that I can't leave the Bilco doors open ever. If I want to circulate outdoor air down there, it will have to be through a mouse-proof screen.
Late this afternoon, I took the dogs for a walk down the nascent Lake Edward Trail. We hiked to where it ends, and I extended it another couple hundred feet towards its goal, which, after I was done, was only about 1000 feet away. It had been drizzling a little initially, but I decided to head back to the cabin when conditions became rainier.
As Neville and I passed the Split Rock landmark, I heard Charlotte off the the southeast (near the High Cliffs) barking at something. So Neville and I ran over. I was hoping to get her away from any potential dangerous animals and Neville was hoping to be able to bite somebody. We found Charlotte in the hemlock grove at the top of the High Cliffs barking at a large porcupine that was on a horizontal semi-fallen tree trunk that was, thankfully, about twenty feet above the ground. This was the first live porcupine I'd ever seen in the Adirondacks (though I've seen several in the Catskills and Catskill foothills). If one of the dogs had been Ramona, I would've had a hell of a time getting them to leave. But Neville doesn't see well and Charlotte's main concern seemed to be that I'd seen what she'd found. Then she was happy to walk away.
I headed on a new trajectory from the High Cliffs (which I will now call the Porcupine Clffs), and this quickly dumped me out at the "redneck camp" along Woodworth Lake Road. It's in a parcel with no lake access that typically has a travel trailer parked there all summer long (though that trailer has yet to arrive this year). I walked back to the cabin with Neville trailing not far behind. But Charlotte continued into the forest south of Woodworth Lake Road near its intersection with our driveway and I didn't see her for awhile.
Back at the cabin, I went outside at some point and heard Charlotte maniacally barking off in the woods to the southeast. Had she found another porcupine? I know from experience that they're usually nocturnal, but, as with barred owls, they also sometimes come out in the daytime when it's cloudy. So I ran through the woods, somehow doing this while holding a ceramic cup of kratom tea in my hand. I found Charlotte near the highest part of the "backwards cliffs" that define the south edge of a shallow canyon along our boundary with Shane's parcel. When I got up to Charlotte, she was acting like a dog who had been quilled by a porcupine, rubbing against her face with her paws and shaking her head. Initially I couldn't seen anything, but at some point she held her head in the light in a way that revealed several short black spines, mostly in her upper lip. I never actually saw this second porcupine because once I knew Charlotte had been quilled, the first order of business was to get her away from the porcupine. I got her back to the cabin and managed to pull a few quills out before she decided she didn't want me removing any more. I didn't want her to associate me with the pain from the quills, but if I was going to get them out, she was probably going to end up hating me. The alternative was a very expensive visit to a veterinarian, few of which are open on Saturday and none of which were open at the time. (I couldn't find a listing for an all-hours emergency vet in Fulton County.)
At around this time, Gretchen was communicating with me by direct message. I asked her to confirm what her xanax pills looked like. Then I got one into a glop of peanut butter and tried to convince Charlotte to eat it (by this point she was outside). She was excited initially, but the moment one of those quills brushed against my hand and she felt the pain, she didn't want it. Later, though, I managed to push the peanut butter glop containing the purple xanax pill into the side of her mouth (back near her carnassials and molars) and she swallowed it. Now I just had to wait for her to get sleepy. But I didn't want to wait so long that the xanax would wear off either. So I kept watching her to see if her eyelids were getting droopy. When she seemed a little sleepy, I'd go over to Neville, focus on him for a moment, and then try to remove some of the quills. She'd let me get near her face, but every time I'd try to snatch a quill, she'd struggle to get away, and then it would be that much harder to try again. Fortunately, though, the xanax seemed to lessen her anxiety and eventually I was able to try again. I found that needle-nosed pliers were much more effective than my fingers; using them, I could remove three at a time if I was lucky. One time I also faked that was going in for a kiss only to grab a quill with my teeth (not easy, since at that range you're working blind) and yank it out. She probably only had ten quills total, all of which were in her lips. And after a few successful extractions, I was down to the last quill. I never actually saw it in my pliers after I yanked it out, but it was no longer in her face either. It looked like I'd extracted them all! So I fed the dogs and considered the fact that Charlotte was eating normally to be an indication that the crisis was now over. It bears mentioning here that I've rarely seen a dog quilled by a porcupine with so few quills in such a small part of the body. But her light quilling was consistent with Charlotte's personality: she just wanted to sniff, not bite, this mysterious creature she'd found in the woods. And then she had pickers stuck in her lip!
Meanwhile Christine, my cousin Carol's daughter, had been guilt-tripping Gretchen and me about only wanting her to visit for one night on Memorial Day weekend. I didn't want to tell her directly that I only wanted her to stay for one night, so I was sort of outsourcing that messaging to Gretchen. She's a fun, nice person, but the idea of spending two nights with her in the peak of springtime seemed excessive, partly because she and her boyfriend never seem to want to do anything in the outdoors. She's also broke and poor, so we'll have to make all the meals we eat to avoid the discomfort of us having to pay for everything.

At some point I ate a big nugget of cannabis, watched some YouTube videos (to burn through a surplus of bandwidth at the end of the billing cycle) and then took a nice hot bath. I had a nice fire going in the woodstove to keep the dogs comfortable.

Meanwhile there'd been a huge solar storm that was predicted to produce the strongest and most southerly Aurora Borealis in twenty years (perhaps since Ray and Nancy's wedding, when I'd seen the awe-inspiring lightshow from a bowling alley parking lot in Cazenovia, NY. The skies are much darker at the cabin, and they were even clear overhead, but every time I went out to look for the Northern Lights, there was a persistent bank of clouds on the north horizon. They seemed to be faintly lit from behind, but so too were the clouds on the southern horizon (perhaps lit by Gloversville, 4 miles due south).

I only had my crappy Android phone when I saw the porcupine in the tree atop the Porcupine Cliffs, and this was the picture I took. The yellowish part facing us is the head.

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