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3/31/08

We begin!

Well, my fabulous contractor, Ron Bernaldo of Giant Oaks Construction just called to tell me...

He has the building permit for our modern plan casa ti house kit in his hand!

Now the fun begins!
Stay tuned!

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3/29/08

*Sigh*... my crush, Howard Smith.

I’m grinning...
Howard Smith, in Finland (ok, how much better can you get? Gorgeous, awesome, progressive designer from New Jersey that moved to Finland 45ish years ago, AND Finland, an incredible country in itself?)...

...being honored on Feb. 28th...

I would have given ANYTHING to go to that reception!!!!
Ambassador Hosted a Reception in Honor of American Designer Howard Smith

On February 28 Ambassador Ware hosted a reception to honor the long and distinguished career of American Designer Howard Smith. Howard Smith moved to Finland 45 years ago and has made an impressive career in Finland as a designer of ceramics and textiles. Howard Smith designed textiles for Vallila Interiors, enamel works for Wärtsilä Oy, and functional ceramics for serial production for Arabia Oy. For Arabia he designed the well known Drummer collection. An exhibition of Howard Smith’s work will take place in Fiskars this fall and a book of his life and career will be published during 2008.


Here are some good images of his design:



 

More On Howard Smith:


 

3/28/08

Would you like some paint with dat stew?

Oooo. Just found this for the SIPs Stew I mentioned:

http://www.metaefficient.com/paint/innovative-zero-voc-paint-to-be-sold-at-home-depot.html

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SIPs Tips: I think I'll call this one SIPs Stew.

As our prefab modern kits are made out of SIPs, I have been thinking of fun ways to finish off my own casa ti house kit that we're building this spring.

I will have a poured smooth concrete floor (with radiant heat embedded), and considered hanging plywood on the interior walls to give it a nice natural finish-- I enjoy the juxtaposition of industrial and natural.

But I love to consider all sorts of interior finish possibilities, so here's the latest one for those on a budget and finish-little-details-yourself adventure.

If you'd like to explore another method than just finishing the interior with drywall, consider these alternatives:

1. Just painting over the SIPs- however, it will give you a rough feel as the panels are particleboard. I kinda like that; however, my husband nixed it.

2. Hanging plywood as I mentioned before

3. SIPs Stew:
  • Treat the SIPs wall seams first so they're smooth
  • Create a mixture of drywall compound and latex paint, until it's the consistency of pancake mix, and apply with a thickly knapped roller.
  • The result is a thick, thick paint that should smooth the particleboard feel while adding color and consistency to your wall!
  • If you want to take it a step further, finish it by "knocking down" which will give it the similar appearance of stucco!
Sounds messy but do-able.
I just might do this so others can see how it turns out.

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3/26/08

Visible Fences, Hidden Meanings

We all know the saying... Good fences make good neighbors...

On the Bay, fences are rarely used.

Yesterday I took you for a lil' tour of mid-century modern. Unfortunately, these architectural gems are not as appreciated today as new homeowners raze and build three story monstrosities.

I just sit back, admire the original squat mod architecture (where it still exists) and tell myself that those tall glass houses will overheat the occupants or shatter with the first real storm.

Oh, and are there storms.
So doesn't it make sense to build for it? Low to the land, taking advantage of the breeze... but you've already read that post, now, haven't you?

Today I'll review newer architecture on XYZ Point, and show you the changing landscape...

For example,
I see this...


Change to this... now twenty feet to the right of the above picture...



Ah yes, vinyl houses rise out of farm fields... can someone please tell these guys about Smart Growth?



At least some people are incorporating their "new" structures into the original architecture, look closely:

This homeowner did NOT tear down the original cottage, and instead expanded and incorporated the original into the larger total structure.

Sure does fit a lot o' grandchildren...



Any-hoo, on my documentation of mid-century modern, it also compelled me to more closely inspect the overall architecture... and fences.

As a landowner I understand the value of a fence. It keeps livestock in, coyotes out, provides clear delineations between what is "yours" and "mine" so that there doesn't have to be the wondering and feuding that occur when there is that question.

However, as someone who adores Snufkin, the fence statement is all in how ya do it.

This fence says,
"Step through the exuberant garden and come in for a cup o' tea!"


This fence says, "Come in! Gather round, it's time for lunch after a long morning of sailing! Momma's just come in from pruning hydrengas for the table and made you grilled cheese and a glass o' cold milk!"



And this fence?
This fence, below, says...

"You're not invited and we sooooooooo don't want to know you. You thah, yes, you there on the road, keep along, hop now, move on!"



Well, guess what, Mr. Snotty Fence:
Here, as we tumble out and run wild like pirates on the Bay... we might not want to know you, either.

Let the good times roll!

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3/25/08

Mid-century modern design, locally: Alan McCullough

Dear readers,

Because I could not bring you to the Bay (sorry, no room in the car with a handsome husband, two chilluns, two dogs, and a visiting German mother-in-law sandwiched in between the suitcases and fishing rods!), I have brought the Bay to you, and with it, mid-century modern architecture *and* older, traditional cottages and farmhouses.

As we look 'round the world for inspiration, sometimes we forget to look slowly, carefully, about ourselves and our own local environs.

Hence, I present an architect who had a great impact on a certain point in a certain area of the Chesapeake Bay: Alan McCullough.

Before I present his mid-century architecture, I'd like to start with two traditional types of design you will find in this area: the cottage, and the farmhouse.

In both you find passive solar concepts:
  • a long, slanting front porch facing south for the cottage
  • kitchen to the north, with a smaller, shaded porch and outbuildings
  • carefully placed windows
  • use of deciduous trees for shade
  • casement windows and partitions
  • AFFORDABLE construction

Here are some examples of these two types of architecture that prevailed locally in the 1800s-1940s:



And more:
(now remember, many of these pictures were taken as we were driving, and when the driver is from Hamburg, that is often quite fast, so hang on for the ride!)


























In the 1940s, a group of friends bought lots for about $500 on the end of a certain point on a certain area of the Chesapeake Bay, and one of those friends was Mr. McCullough, who happily happened to be an architect.

Mr. McCullough deftly sketched elements that are still important in green building and modern design today:
- harnessing the breeze to cool
- stout chimneys for warmth
- overhangs
- breezeways -- note the openings between many elements of his design! - screens for privacy yet allow air circulation

...and more...

And with this, I present...

Mid-century modern on the Bay!

If you glance to your left, this is one of the few two-storied residences Mr. McCullough created.

Many of these buildings appear to be happily overtaken by camellia bushes
which are bursting into bloom right now...

Look closely at the details, always look for the chimney stack, the overhangs, the casement windows/screens, and the ever-present open breezeway, even if later owners closed it.
Look even more closely... yes, the chairs & tables folded away for the winter yet hold all the promise of another great summer ahead.

Are those real antlers in the hall?

Honeychile, this is Virginia, yes they are.





Below is my absolute, unabashed favorite.

One day this house will be mine.

Fortunately, all of the amazing detail of the mod screens, chimneys, open breezeway and entrance are lost on the internet because of the weathered woodland so you won't covet it... because it's mine, all mine!




...and more...










This home, desperately crying for someone to hack its camellias, upon closer inspection has a central stack and hexagon shape.


Why the heck are all these architectural structures of note trying to hide their figures? It's like voluptuous starlets that have been sold the waif look.

No need to hide, ladies, sashay down the carpet and celebrate yourself!

Can you imagine what this gal looks like on the inside? I bet it's mod... real mod.




Ok if you've made it this far, let me know if you want to see more.
I have several posts that could relate to this...


In the meantime...
Enjoy some more pictures.





I adore this fish...















Check out the wind vane...







This fish tried to eat my mother-in-law but I smacked it away. Hiiiii-ya! Take that.









Mother-in-law...




P.s. I have about 400 more pictures, all on architecture in the area, so if you want to see more just let me know.



>







"Dag that was a long walk!"






Oh giiiiiive me a hooooooome... where the buffalo roam...

Yes, maw, in the south there's buffalo *everywhere*..... really.











Oyster beds... another topic to write about...












This is what I look at when I fish. It's very, very quiet.


















Yes, I took a picture of myself. Geek.







...And *this* is the hidden easter egg for Sally and Jane to see if they're reading.

Heh, heh...

J&S: Do you feel twelve again?

Every time I walk past here I crack up when I think about those bikini tops... Which could go into the third topic I'd like to write (and have plenty o' pictures for...) about: fences and their meanings.


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3/14/08

Going Local

I read an interesting article in Metropolis last night, "Going Local" by James Howard Kunstler.

I encourage you to read it.

It sent me off on a slightly different tangent of reflection. We are inundated by "green" and we all try to stay on track as encouraging gentle lifestyles in a positive way without sinking into greenwashing’s shiny consumerism or the hoarse blaring of a death-toll message shouted in spittle mouthed fear.

But there was just something there, in this article, that made me think about what my own identity of "green" is, and how it has changed.

Many here were green before there was "green"- I mean, you’re talkin’ to a girl who grew up with a family farm, who always had a vegetable garden and composting, and whose family had solar panels in the ’70s.

What changed?

For myself, my vegetables became not just a pleasure and addition to our table, but where, in an urban environment, I carefully plan and rely on fresh produce from our garden.

It was the perplexing realization that I do not have the *right* in my city to have minigoats for milk or hens for fresh eggs in my large, fenced-in back yard- that just bothers me! I strongly feel that every human should have the right to rely on themselves for sustenance, and as someone committed to helping those less fortunate, it frustrates me that these families with meager incomes don’t have the right to provide their families with fresh eggs and milk.

Having children, it was the knowledge I gleaned from information on GMOs, hormones in meat and milk, pesticides, and the horrible factory farm conditions and the great respect for life I have that led me to only purchase meat from people I know whose animals are free-range and naturally fed, to raise heirloom vegetables, save seed, and patronize our neighbors’ farms.

It was the shock of reading about how our seed companies are purposely creating vegetables and grains that will not produce viable seed so that you (and farmers) will have to purchase their seeds each season!

It was the fun of a science experiment:
I giggle over solar cooking, yet it has changed my life. With two young children whining to stay outside instead of forcing them indoors so momma can make dinner, I now just throw food in the solar oven and… go off and play!

The cold frames I use enable me to defy cold weather, giving the seeds just enough more heat to resist freezing and get an early start on production.

And as someone in the green building industry, it was the disgust I felt as I saw endless tracts of vinyl, huge, ugly, inefficient houses being the major choice a home buyer has, and even then they are out of financial reach for most first time home buyers.

So, there you have it, my latest musings as I stand up on the cafeteria room chair to rant…

So, who is gonna kick me off today?
; )

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Huh? Clean Coal? Remembering global change starts in our own back yard.

Huh? Clean Coal? Remembering global change starts in our own back yard.

Call me a geek (oh, yes I heard you!) but I have a green building group on myspace.

Normally I would never bring it up, it’s more of a diversion from work when my eyes start to criss-cross-- I then head over and drop a silly post on passive solar gardening (get it, a cold frame?) or take pictures of my latest solar cooking endeavor just to annoy the architects and engineers...

But two posts I would like to share for several reasons:

One, regarding a solar powered plant being built by Arizona Power, perked the interest of a thermotechnic engineer reader in Serbia.

Next thang ya know, I’m dialoging back and forth with a charming Renewable Energy dude from Arizona Power and the Serbian engineer as they ask each other questions... It really makes you think about the power we have to effect change in our world... and as I pondered those intricacies, I realized that the engineer’s questions regarding Arizona Public building a solar power plant reminded me that such technology and innovation is not national, not global, but that we need to apply and educate people within our own local back yards.

Here, in Virginia, there is a proposed "Clean Coal Power Station" in Wise County, Virginia.

Read Dominion Energy’s take on it here:

http://www.dom.com/about/stations/fossil/swva.jsp

...and opposition here:

http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/commentary/wb/149689

http://www.southernenvironment.org/cases/wise_county/index.htm
http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/news/news_detail.cfm?id=403
http://thegreenmiles.blogspot.com/2007/12/action-needed-help-stop-wise-county.html
(and more...)

With technology such as Arizona Power is implementing...
why are we even discussing coal?

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