Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Year

L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem . . . l'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi

Client news: Doug and I had a meeting with Nikki and Jeff on Friday, and I brought two color axonometric sketches and a scale elevation of the proposed modifications to their house. They liked the concept drawings very much, which means my design/my interpretation of Doug's design suggestions were well received. I wouldn't mind doing this again!

What we plan to do (if, indeed, they decide they can afford it) is add a two car garage with a second story master suite with a gambrel roof and cathedral ceiling, a new eight foot wide entry-way and porch, and an expansion of the upstairs bedroods with the addition of shed dormers that span the length of the existing house.

Meanwhile, Doug and Ben looked at a house for sale in Hinesburg (a fixer) that we could modify and resell. The employees working on the house would each get a share of the profit from the sale. I'm excited about the possibilities we have now for building custom homes and doing additions and modifications to existing structures, which in the long run is more interesting and more satisfying than panelized buildings or housing development jobs that we didn't design.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Western nostalgia

It rained all day today and nothing I put my hands to seemed to turn out right. On the way home I found myself missing the desert. Sometimes it seems a little claustrophic here, with the dense forests and close, low mountains. I miss those wide open space you come to as you drive over the top of the Sierras and come down into Nevada, with its primaeval alkali basins, sand mountains and odd geological formations. Scattered cowboy bars and abandoned cars and cold-water rest stops. I miss the high desert in Northern California--miles of scrub, two lane highways, Tule Lake and history. And the rolling yellow-golden hills leading out to the valley around Altamont pass, with the windmills. They stay golden until they turn brown in late winter, and grow green in February, only to turn gold again by April or May.

What I miss so often is the ability to get in the car and drive far, far away. The land and the freeways feel so much more expansive, and it's not so easy here to just get on the road and leave everythin behind. If you wanted to, from San Francisco you could drive all day Saturday and make it to Salt Lake City by evening. Have ice cream at Snelgroves, and maybe stay the night. Turn around and drive back on Sunday morning.

There's nothing like a drive through the desert to clear your head.

Also, I was thinking of certain places in the Bay Area and on through the Central Valley--ones that have some importance that I can't quite put my finger on why they do. Usually they are places that coincide with driving: the folk-art sculpture on the beach in Alameda as you're heading towards the Bay Bridge--there used to be a small plane there, and what looked like old kinetic sculpture, a naiive interpretation of the work in Hamden Square. Then there's the Nut Tree, now empty, on 80 northeast of the Bay Area, in Vacaville. And then there's the sharp downhill curve as you come out of the Caldecott tunnel into Oakland. Sometimes I'm inexplicably reminded of these things.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Art Hop/ Moldy Basements

Friday was consumed with putting up the gable ends and the trusses on the Jericho house. After a flurry of activity, we took lunch and Doug left. At 3:30 he swung by to drop off paychecks and asked me to follow him over to Nicole's house in Westford, which I gather on which we will be doing some work. Jeff was there to meet us. He informed us that they are planning an addition of a master suite (er, "bonus room" for code purposes) and two garages, as well as making some interior changes to the existing house. We took a look in the basement, at the foundation.

The basment was--well, in need of some care. There is a water source running through there, albeit slowly, but which causes it to be wet most of the time. The insulation and wood there is quite moldy, and Doug saw some remediation in the future for them--and for the time being, a respirator.

I was there because Doug intends me to do some drawings. At this point, I am unsure whether he wants renderings or scale drawings, but I have to first determine what we are actually doing to the roof line. I'm also wondering whether I'm going to get any extra pay for this, or whether I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart.

On Saturday I went to the South End Art Hop, where local artists are displayed at South End businesses and open studios. I wasn't impressed with most of the work, but there were some good pieces. It's a nice way to see the South End, though, and familiarize yourself with the businesses, studios and artists that are there.

Afterwards, I looked at some cars (will probably be trading my old Focus Kona Edition [the Surfmobile] in for something with AWD) and then went to see "Hollywoodland," the new movie about the mysterious death of George Reeves (the original Superman). I liked the movie, and I have to say that it is the most interesting thing I've seen Ben Affleck do. Of course, I think the main focus is the investigation that Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) conducts regarding the suicide/murder. Interestingly, the people in the theater under 50 (aside from myself) didn't seem to like the film. Perhaps the story doesn't resonate well with them.

I'm in these pictures of the Jericho house, can you spot me?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The hissing of summer lawns

Having moved to a residential neighborhood in the historic district of a very middle class section of Milton has left me with a few annoyances which I did not anticipate. All of a sudden, I feel I am a homeowner in the midst of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. Not that anyone in Milton, or in Vermont, wears a grey flannel suit--this is the land of jeans and workboots. But I am referring to a row of houses with picture-perfect lawns ... where the neighbors are all looking at my lawn, thinking: "when is she going to mow, for heaven sakes? This is making us look bad."

And I thought of a couple of things: how I could've bought a house in the rough North End, where people you're not sure you want to look at sit out all day in front of their houses/apartments in next to no clothing. The house I saw there was charming on the outside, and the character of the neighborhood appealed to me in a perverse sort of way, but the price was too high, and the problems too numerous.

And then I thought of Creedence Clearwater and Metallica, living in their El Cerrito houses, and of Neal Cassady's Bancroft Ave. house, or Jack Kerouac's Orlando house. How much trouble they must have caused their neighbors. Perhaps. Anyway, I wasn't really sure I wanted to move into the bourgeois segment of my life just yet. I thought--maybe I wanted to stay bohemian just a little longer. But while I do that (if I can manage it--see below) I'll have to keep up appearances on the outside, lest Mrs. Councillor Nugent decides to pay a visit.