25 August 2008

Been away...

Dear Gentle Readers,

So sorry for my longish silence. I was off to Ontario for a dear friends wedding. It was on the beautiful Lake Bob, and was a delightful adventure in unwinding. The photo above is of the sunrise my first morning there... so lovely!

And my favorite laborer is off doing some new labor of his own. James has started his freshman year at Earlham College. It's a wonderful place and I hope he'll thrive there. It's my own alma mater and I know what a special place it is. I know what a special kid James is. I think it could be a good match once he adjusts.

I'm working in the office now, having swept the floor a bit and re-rigged my tarp. It's just started to rain and is quite lovely out here at the moment. I have a good bit of work yet to do on the office, but other things to tend to as well... I'll keep you all posted!

Take care, be well, do good!


13 August 2008

Getting there...

Getting there. The floors will go in nicely (yeah!)

The Georgia situation is a mess. So much for the optimism from yesterday. 
It's protracted. It's going to get more so.

The line of the day had to be the Russian response to Bush's announcement that he's sending troops in to Georgia for "humanitarian" aid due to the crisis there. The Russian Foreign Minister simply said: We see Mr. Bush needs a new speech writer. 

I'm heading out of town for a bit. 

Progress may or may not continue in my absence.

We'll see....


I'll post photos tomorrow. 

The office is coming along and we've got the floor figured out. It looks SOOOOO AWESOME!!!

Briefly, this morning I woke up to the news that Russia had issued a cease fire. It's calming down in Georgia and (fingers crossed) the worst is over. Russia's willingness to cooperate is encouraging. 

It was a perfect birthday present for me to hear and I'm ever thankful.

Tim sounded great and I'm glad for it.

More soon.


11 August 2008

Worse cases...

As a professor, I've taken a perverse delight in spinning out the worst case scenario for a situation with international conflicts in order to drive home the importance of knowing what is going on in the world for my students. Normally, it doesn't come to pass, we breath a deep sigh of relief. 

It gets their attention. It makes it relevant and it makes an impact. 

But today as I was frantically reading through the news on line and watching CNN International, I looked at James, and said "for all the years I've studied the Caucasus, and as much as I love this region, watching this is like the worst case scenario come to life."

He nodded solemnly and said "yeah. . . it really sucks."

Or as I said to my mother, it reminds me of watching the 9/11 attacks, but no one else really aware of why this is so tragic. 

Perhaps I'm over dramatizing. It would be nice to know I am.

Georgia situation:


For back ground for anyone keeping up with the news:

Briefly, my MA thesis was an in-depth analysis of Russia's decision to use force against Chechen and Tartar secessionist movements, my PhD dissertation was on incentives for domestic policy makers to agree to join the Black Sea and Caspian Sea Environment Programmes, focusing on the Caucasus. And of course, I've been studying the social and economic influences region for more than 15 years and working there as a consultant since 2001, with the UNDP Kura Project(s), Black Sea Environment Programme, Caspian Environment Programme, IFC Stakeholder Analysis for the BTC Pipeline, etc. I also have now become certified in "mediation and alternative dispute resolution". Suffice to say, this situation is ringing all sorts of bells for me.

Let us all hope and pray for peace to come soon.

10 August 2008


Hi Folks!
First, news from Georgia is that the family is safely stowed in the mountains at a lovely place, and there is a sense that all is well - or as well as it can be in a small country being invaded by Russia...

Upon hearing the good-ish news I dashed outside to happily slap stucco upon the walls. This is the finish coat and I have to admit, I'm lovin' it!!

Here it is on the first day - actually Friday.

I'm groovin' with the wabi-sabi - it looks so organic.

Like the forms inside are looking forward to emerging and moving in!
Oddly the second bag was a very different hue - See below:
I decided to use the more gray bag on the lower back wall. The bookshelf will cover it mostly, so it won't be so evident. Interestingly, it was marked as "white" like all the other bags...
Once it went up, it looked bluer, and the next day the three bags had some definite differences in shades... But still I really like the organic shapes of it.
So now I am done with the stuccoing. It was actually a lot of fun and sort of inspiring. I'd love to do more and when I DO finish the outside later, I'll get to do more. 

But as is stands now, I'll working on the insides next - getting it to functional- 

coming next, doors and floors!!

09 August 2008

Problems in Georgia.

Dear Readers,

I'll post more pictures soon. I've been working. 

But at the moment I am watching the news about the situation in former Soviet Georgia and the Russian attacks into South Ossetia and beyond. 

This is an area very dear to my heart - I've spent a great deal of time in Georgia, and I've grown to love to people, the culture and the country. My partner's wonderful wife is from Georgia and her family is so dear, every time I visit I feel like I've come home again. And their two children are in Georgia visiting their grandparents right now. I've heard some disturbing reports about the bombings. I'm very worried. Please keep this family and all of the people in the Caucasus in your prayers. I'll update as I can.

08 August 2008

I think I'm in love...n

Today I started putting on the final "finish coat" of stucco. It's white. It's real pretty.

I did the first wall, just like I did earlier when putting on the second "brown" coat. The consistency is a bit different and I like working with it. Once it was up, and it went up easily, and started to dry I took a straw bristle broom and gently brushed the surface - this smoothed out the surface just a bit. 

The whole day was busy with lots of running around, mowing the lawn, not having TB, and getting stuff at Lowe's (AGAIN!)

But it looks great now. Granted, it's only 1 wall but the surface just glows, and the organic forms are so evident now. 

I ended up sitting in my office for about 30 minutes after I was done just admiring it. 

As tired as I've gotten working on this project, and frustrated and worn out, I realized that the more I work on it, the more I love it. It's my own special space, and each of the million small steps it has taken to bring it into reality is filled with the thoughts, challenges, and inspirations of the day I did it.

It's a special place - and truly a labor of love. 

Photos tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Things I love about building my own office space: (cont'd)

(21 or so)

Looking back through photos charting the progress and realizing that this project really has been a lot of work, and that I'm so happy I'm doing it.

I've learned how not to do it - because I should have done other things first and instead had to go back to fix it, but still, it has been a learning experience.

And having my son, husband, mother, friends and family in on it makes it that much more special.

I can never move out of this house. :-) 

07 August 2008

Ends in rubble? Or the next phase?

We finally managed to get the last of the brown coat up - it's the term for the second coat of stucco - The rubble above was scrapped off the floor etc. It will be used for the pathway or something - definitely not thrown away.

Below James put on the last coat - we're using the scaffolding setting for those who are uncomfortable with heights. 
This is the inside after we finished - you can get the feeling for the smoothness wabi-sabi nature of the brown coat. Definitely starting to look much more organic
So organic in fact that I've been inspired by that Florentine sculpture to set the spirits free with in the straw and stucco:
It shows up better when the flash is off and there is less dust in the air. No worries. It's coming.

And speaking of beauty - after stuccoing and cleaning the office floor, we started on the floor boards. These have been sitting outside for about a year - and are in surprisingly good condition. (Thanks to Barbaritoes for the high quality durable finish on the wood!) It just glows and will be SO PRETTY on my floors!!

Stay tuned! More soon!

06 August 2008

Heat WAVE 2

Last weekend was busy busy - Bill worked both days because of the tax holiday, and so I put in the time on the office. 

Above was what I got to by Saturday night - the second coat of stucco went up well. It allowed me a lot more freedom other than just trying to get all the straw covered. It was the part of putting on stucco that felt really fun with a lot opportunity to be more expressive of how I want my space to feel. 

Sunday I pushed the full first wall and the second side wall. It was difficult, but great fun and I like the way it turned out. (photos coming soon) The back wall is currently half done. I had to stop because my hands were wet for 3 days and with the stucco grit in my gloves wore away the skin on my fingertips. So I've taken a few days off. James will finish the last of the brown coat on the back wall for me. Then we get to do the finish coat which will be sleeker and white. I think I may only do it on the inside. 

Today we had record heat - outside of my kitchen window, in the shade on the north side of the house it was 102 degrees. I went out to check the thermometer in office. It was 87 degrees !!!
This was at about 3:00, with sun coming into the office and the open side facing south. SWEET!!

More to come!! Stayed tuned!!

01 August 2008

Progress... bit by bit... by bit... all Wabi-Sabi

Another brutally hot day today - heat index of 106 , but it work in the office was comfortable with a fan and the shade.

James worked on the ceiling. Impressive multi-limb talents were on display.

I, on the other hand, put up 3 bags of stucco. Not a whole lot, but I'm working on it. And honestly, I'm sore after that much.

This was the first bit:

This shelf is here for me to put my computer and other stuff on as I climb into the loft. It's just something I decided I needed to optimize my loft usage. 
I left on of the braces exposed. I sort of like it that way. The wood is pretty. 

The shelf and the one across from it were the second bag. . . 
The third - with scaffolding, did me in. It's getting there, but it's taking a while. Still, I'm having fun. 

Thanks to our neighbor, local school principal, and friend, Dr. Schmitt, we have a new term for the design style for this wonderful undertaking. It's wabi-sabiThe aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" . . . Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and suggest a natural process.


More to come. . . stay tuned!!