It is a inexplicable feeling to begin wrapping my brain around the idea of having a celebration to honor the house that shaped my life for the last year and a half. I am equally nervous and empowered…. not unlike a mad scientist… I feel meticulously giddy.
So why April 21st?
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
Spring is… a time for awakenings. Life……unrestrained and unrefined. That is the spirit this house was built with… That is the natural stage on which it should be celebrated. Falling on the eve of Earth Day, the 21st will literally and emblematically usher in the calendar symbol of communal eco-consciousness, global stewardship, and intentional living. All tenets that are the mortar of this house… this home.
So come one, come all.
It’s a Celebration!!!
There is more information in the News & Events section of the site and I will add details as I develop them, but in the meantime… please forward your U.S. post mailing addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org
It will be epic.
In strong defiance to the designer dog condominium culture permeating the sleek new corridors, coffee shoppes, and neighborhood parks across the river, growahouse welcomed its first four legged visitor this weekend…
… in all his well-behaved-not-a-poodle-so-I-can-shed-if-I-want-plus-I-don’t-do-sweaters-but-I-do-speak-hindi-100%-mongrel glory.
I hope you enjoyed the chicken apple sausage, homie.
The situation was dire to say the least.
Lets flash back to the fact that I got a welcomed ride home this evening after having been stuck out in Northern Virginia all week doing software training. No huge vendetta against VA… but I’m just not a fan. I mean… come on… any rookie proponent of urbanization has got to have at least a tiny little pocket of hate for the vast, monotonious bowl of vanilla that is northern Virginia. It’s crazy… every one of those cookie cut “cities” like Balston, Clarendon, and Rosslyn exist in this weird state of frenzied boredom… like you took the third floor of Any Mall USA…nyahmean? … Starbukrombie & Fitch… blew it up and built a town around it.
Anyway… apologies for the digression.
So I come home and the vicious ice storm that has ravaged the east coast has also laid waste to my courtyard gutter. So I spent an hour outside on my ladder hammering the ice in the gutters to break it up and clear it out.
I guess there’s not really much to that story. The ice weighed too much for the gutter. It was cold. My fingers were like popsicles. I was a bit miserable…I grabbed my trusty hammer and did what had to be done.
Unbeknownst to many, there has been a silent/ unnecessary battle of wits being waged between me and my would-be gardener. Many of you might remember him from the unfortunate deforestation-shrubbery-clear-cutting-incident back on ’06. Or perhaps you heard about the frequent 2:00 AM doorbell ringings on his way back from the club (cus he saw the lights on… who does that? really?). Since then, hatchets have been buried. Laughs, as well as, 5′s, 10′s, and 20′s have been exchanged… and yard debris removal/out of town security services have been rendered.
Make no mistakes… he’s a good guy.
However, Jack Frost has breathed his ominous breath over the nation’s capital and alas, the lawn maintenance needs for a while have been minimal at best.
What this means is… no more chores… and no more chores means… no more loot from my pocket to his. (Which works out well for me, since the lush green forest of my wallet has been slowly taking the path of the traitorous follicles on my dome)
So anyway…. my friend and yours… decides that he has a new winter plan. He starts taking out my trash. An interesting move. So now every Tuesday evening when I’m pushing up the hill from the bus stop, my trash and recycle bins are already at the curb for the next day’s pickup.
Convenient… grossly unnecessary… but one less thing for me to do, right? We should all be so fortunate… Plus… honestly… the third world soul in me loves the notion of contributing to a local micro economy consisting of pocket cash and small favors.
Well after a few indulgent weeks of curb side trash service followed closely by random visits for payment… I had enough. I can walk the 18 paces to the curb myself… and for free, nyahmean? So two weeks ago, I start locking my trashcans up in the courtyard and taking them out myself on Wednesday mornings.
Checkmate!! I’m back in control.
This morning, I awoke to about 2 inches of freshly fallen snow.
… and a freshly shoveled driveway
He’s back in the game…
A football aficionado I am not. Moreover, I hasten to reveal that I am at best… a person with a fair weather appreciation for the gridiron, (unacceptably offensive Washington DC mascots not withstanding)
Last night, the Colts, their coach Tony Dungy, and their rainy south Florida victory in the super bowl… highlighted a necessary character trait for which my appreciation is infinite.
Less is More.
It is said that at the beginning of the season, Dungy, with a calm and stirringly gentle voice, said to his team… “I want you to pay attention to what I’m saying, because this is as loud as you will hear me speak all season.”
In essence, it’s the proverbial catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.
I spent the latter half of the superbowl nailing 1/4 inch rubber weatherproofing strips to the interior seam of the giant front doors to keep Jack Frost at bay… and as the bitter northeastern cold front chattered the back of my teeth… I thought about less being more… about governance through quiet respect, as opposed to aggressive fear or better yet… thunderous intimidation.
I feel that in a world where we grow our homes and lives understanding that we have individual responsibility for shared fate… it is the quiet voice that will resonate and sustain long after the loud eco-bandwagon has run its course. Mind you, the aggressive proponents of green living should not be chastised or undervalued… but if we have learned nothing else from inability of the solar panel industry to thrive in America or even from the demise quality hip-hop music… we should know… that eventually momentum fades and mediocrity takes its place.
Unless… you change the character of people, as well as, their habits.
Well done, Tony.
so it was 2:47 AM and I’m finishing some painting in the kitchen nook. Ordinarily, this mid morning jaunt into my waking sleep would go unnoticed, or more so… unreported.
Maybe it was the seamless i-tunes music transition between Jr. Gong, Dido, and Terence Trent D’Arby…. maybe it was the gin and tonic I had with dinner (well… three gin and tonics)… not sure… maybe it was noticing the Cherimoya fruit(Custard Apple) on the counter was ripe and eagerly deciding that I was going to eat it the following morning….again… not sure… but I remembered something.
I remembered the feeling that I had pushing into ’07 and I realized what it meant to me. I realized how to describe it.
Indulge your idiosyncrasies.
If the house is a reflection of the owner, then it has long been time to turn the volume up a bit.
this photo was taken on Saturday afternoon in the 3rd Floor bathroom. There is an illusion that tape will ensure clean lines … perfect painting… not so much. Given that experience… coupled with last night’s clarity…I have presently redefined my desire/need for perfection. I take my time. I let the craftsman within step up to the plate and I accept him as he is. Most times, I believe my lines will be fairly straight. I’m confident that I can make manifest my intent if I believe in the task… and if I give myself to it.
An imperfect act forged in the desire to trust myself to do it well is INFINITELY more rewarding then one born from the desire to stop myself from doing it badly.
I don’t use tape anymore.
Perched high atop my sometimesy folding ladder… the first floor steps rising perilously below, I stood balanced between motivation and my exhaustion. That was tough place to be.
Task: Hang chandelier over first floor steps.
I went to Home Depot Expo with moms a few months ago and saw a modern looking stainless steel four-light chandelier that I knew would do well in the house. In particular, this fixture had individual moving lights and I wanted to use one of the lights to focus on the 9 foot tall niche that stands adjacent to the steps. But as with all things… it was like $50 cheaper online.
Needless to say… It was difficult and dangerous (had to call some folks on the phone to let them know that they should check on me in about 20 min in case they needed to come collect my mangled body from the stair below after my untimely fall)… but I got it up and sat on the step ready to turn on the switch and rejoice in a job well done… and as soon as I smiled in the new abundant radiant light and walked down the steps to try the other switch…
I remembered where I was.
So in a nutshell…the electrician, in his infinite wisdom, wired power to the light switch for the downstairs foyer. No problem there… but then homeboy decided to run power from THAT switch to the courtyard lights and the new chandelier area. So basically, I have to turn on one light in order to turn on the others.
Why would you do that?
In that one white wire/black wire decision, he robbed me of the ability to bask thoroughly in my moment. I hate when that happens…… and that type of incomplete moment is none too infrequent an occurrence at the house. So I turned off the power, rewired the switches and was back in business. It still irritated me. Some things should go smoothly… why does it always have to be…
My hard work balanced against some joker’s minimalist work ethic.
This is a tale of felines, warm winters, and destiny.
“Its not global warming, its el nino.”
They lied to you about global warming… so don’t believe the El Nino hype that wearing board shorts mid January is perfectly normal. It was 70 degrees in DC this past weekend… huh?… I watched folks playing ultimate frisbee on The Mall like they were catching a breather during summer session Calc II at GW.
Its Not Normal… Its Not Good.
What do five of the last six years have in common?
The hottest years on record, since they started recording temperature.
So with my windows open mid January… I’m painting on the first floor and I look out to see one of my friendly backyard cats(white with grey patch) stalking a squirrel in my oak tree. It was nothing short of fascinating. For ten minutes, the cat sat patiently at the bottom of the tree… eager, but stoic in preparation and then as though the veil of silence had been lifted abruptly …potential energy burst into kenetic and the cat was 10 feet in the tree at the squirrel nest in three bounds.
The squirrels were quick and as the cat sat in their nest, not triumphant, but somehow accomplished… I couldn’t help but think of another cat… (black, white patch). Struck by a car at the bottom of the block roughly 6 months ago. I have watched, unabated by timely removal and unaided by winter’s snowy promise lost…I have watched this creature slowly and effortlessly unexist.
During my daily jaunt down to the bus stop, I stop habitually to notice milestones of this gradual procession into the earth. In stark contrast to the vibrant prey-seeking feline that stirred my soul and stopped the progression my painting, this daily reminder exists for several reasons.
So that I remember that life is fleeting.
So that I understand that all things are connected… all things are… in life and death… connected. One feeds another. One eats, ones becomes food.
I mean imagine if the white cat had caught the squirrel, then got hit by the car… the cat and the squirrel would then feed the ground they laid on… together.
So that I repeat my most essential question… what do I do, with the time I am given?
Some have undoubtedly been waiting for some new year’s message of encouragement and optimism… a verbal testament to the audacity of hope.
I have spent the first fortnight of 2007 agressively recording my thoughts. I will start to share some of them with you in a thinly veiled attempt open myself up to you… to be overtly candid…. to be free thinking… and to explore my potential by not hiding my more private emotions. The intent is that by sharing my prose I will get to the core of something within… that will hopefully make me:
a more dynamic designer…
a more accountable person…
and if nothing else…
a more honest soul…
I’m not sure what I will unearth… but I think its important for all of us.
I awoke this morning in the still of the night. The sun had not yet burst free of its nocturnal bondage and I, alert and engaged, stood on a balcony… in a distant city… wondering if the lights on the houses in the distant view below were symbols of the souls that laid asleep within their walls. Soft yellow hue glowing symbols… subdued energy… peaceful brilliance.
As the depth of the sky’s darkness crept further into my pajama’d silhouette, I had a phone conversation with a great friend, who like me, was searching for meaning in the morning stillness. The conversation, like the friend, brought some amiable answers to questions… some simple solace to the morning… some purposeful prologue to Christmas.
As many are aware, I am transitioning my thoughts from growing a house to growing a village. There is a shift in focus that is far more altruistic. It’s less about me, nyahmean? The burgeoning complexity of the transition is, at times, difficult to wrap my brain around. I have not yet completed the house… have not yet matched the reality with the intent and here I am… trying to think about the next step.
But that is my path… my star in the night.
In seamless timing with my soul searching, I received as a gift a pair of Starbury sneakers. They came to me at a time when I was looking for simple answers to complicated questions. Typically, sneakers tied to professional athletes cost over $100. This high cost can contribute to additional problems/ persistent inequalities for consumers that face financial hardship, a condition that encompasses a large percentage of the sneakers’ buyers. At $9.98 for mine, an athlete saw an opportunity to break a chain of negative decision making in various communities by simply charging a price for his sneakers that was congruent with the cost of producing them.
Complex problem…simple answer… exponentially positive results… village growing.
They’re brilliantly inspiring people out there to help us embrace the answers to the questions that drive us…
…if only we awake searching.