Green Rascal Design

I have just finished the 2 latest issues of Metropolis Magazine by reading a little bit each night at bedtime. For April I started losing my patience with the way they break up stories. Many stories are cut off after the bulk of the text, and there ends up being about half a page of nearly each story at the back of the magazine. (ok maybe only half of the stories) Flipping back and forth in the dark while you're trying to fall asleep, with a clip on light in the way, is not the way I prefer to read my magazines. So I just gave up and moved on to the next story each time they cut one off. This works okay for me because I have a good memory for things I'm currently reading. Anywhoo, last night was the night I reached the ends of all these stories, and it was really strange running them all together in a way the editors weren't intending. I actually liked it quite a lot.

First there was the last page of "A Return To The Hand," about the resurgence of making physical objects, continued from page 102. Then there was half a page of "The Case for Looking Beyond Style," a case for New Urbanism, continued from page 79. Following closely was a third of a page of "The Kamikaze Mission," on deconstructivism, continued from page 84. Then there was slightly less than a page of "The Digital Playground Erupts," about blobism, continued from page 96. Next was half a page of "The Dream that Refused to Die," about prefab housing, continued from page 94 and half a page of "POMO Returns (or Maybe it Never Left)," a discussion of post modernism continued from page 73.

The effect of having all these ideas rapidly combined in a reading at bedtime, only made possible by my accursed memory, was like a surreal recent architectural history class packed into half an hour. It was also striking because of my personal exposure to some of these movements back in the day. Many young architects might also find this to be the case if they participate in this exercise.

The making of physical objects is something that we here are finding more and more desirable lately because of our wish to reduce our own carbon footprints, save money and live/work in a place that feels like our own. New Urbanism holds a dear place in my heart because at my first internship I was urged to read the monthly Congress for the New Urbanism's publication, and we worked on some developments that, while not necessarily "new urban," followed the New Urbanism's principles fairly closely. I always thought of it as a good movement despite some of its shortcomings. Alternatively, blobism is something that I found myself dealing with in graduate school. The first semester was ALL about the blob, and I was tossed into a sea of computer design programs and left to sink or swim, basically. This had the effect of strengthening my set of values with respect to the New Urbanism and struggling to defend myself against criticisms that were completely new to someone coming from the land of drawing by hand. And then the readings pushed me back again to when I was in undergrad designing in a pre-fab manner for projects involving the movement of palletized goods, the systemization and storage of books in libraries, and neighborhoods of immigrant housing.

I had a hard time sleeping last night.
Ideas are all around. I'm speaking of creative ideas, naturally. Ideas such as, "is this ball of wax that candle I had out last year?" aren't all that inspiring or worthy of conversation. (unless you're a philosopher) If you're a designer or otherwise creative being, then you thrive on ideas.

For a while I was fairly depressed and had no ideas. I had just been laid off, and my days consisted of searching for jobs to apply to. It was a bad time. Eventually I started networking and trying to participate in competitions and everything seemed just a little bit better. The difference was that I had "started dreaming again," in the words of my husband. Having creative ideas made a big difference in my mood.

In The Artist's Way, I was exposed to a lot of helpful ideas with respect to being creative and happiness and such. Taking myself out on an artist's date every once in a while started to sprout lots of little creative ideas. Now I find ideas in everything.

We had a big potluck housewarming party a month after moving into the new house. One friend brought trail mix and little cups to serve it in, and at the end of the party we had no trail mix and tons of little cups! Being a stickler for the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), I decided we should reuse the cups somehow. It was my first artist date when I decided to make a seed starting tray out of them. My husband had some cheap wood leftover from the crate his milling machine came in, so I poked drain holes in all the cups and then glued them neatly to the piece of plywood. This saved us a few bucks in seed starting trays and helped us start our first big garden the following spring!

Now I save peanut butter and jelly jars with the intention of someday making a sculpture or something out of them, but in the meantime they are used to mix paint colors for my spotty painting hobby.

Sometimes I think ideas come most freely when my mind is at ease. It seems all these ideas first happened in the kitchen. It is only fitting since it is the room of most creation (daily meals, cocktails). I'm not sure what it is about the kitchen that supports creative ideas. It's in the back of the house, so it feels protected. There are lots of horizontal surfaces to arrange things on. The window is big and bright. There are plenty of chairs to sit in and contemplate... Perhaps it has an auspicious location with respect to feng shui.

Today there is a lot of discussion about ideas and their origins, and I am looking forward to what other bloggers have to say about them. This rambling post is part of the Lets BlogOff, entitled "Where do you get your ideas?" So go take a peek at what everyone else has to say:

Making Connections


I really like making connections. Whether it is between people or seemingly distant ideas, I'm always connecting. This week I managed to arrange for some business people to get together and see if we all can work together, and it was endlessly gratifying.

As we find our way through this business climate to our future niche, I'm focusing on how to connect the seemingly disparate aspects of my own life and practice. Recently I came across some interesting documents outlining my town's plans for future development and it came to me. Right now, in my personal life, I'm all about local food and supporting local agriculture. In business we have tried to focus on supporting local firms as a way to stimulate our local economy. I never really realized this connection before this week. It's all local for me - at least at this time. Getting bogged down in "whats in it for us" is really easy, but since putting two and two together this week, I realized that I am really enjoying meeting local entrepreneurs and finding out how we can help them.

Thanks also to a few really interesting people who I met while out networking this Wednesday. I followed Steve and Kay's advice, and went to an event which I wasn't sure would be of any use to me. Turns out they were right again - go to everything and talk to everyone and you will end up helping someone or being helped in a way you didn't expect! (me paraphrasing) This is also something that Ed Tseng would support - going out of your comfort zone is the best way to grow and get better at whatever you're doing. (again me paraphrasing) Thanks guys.

And what's with the chickens? That's an eggcellent question. Not only are the chickens wonderful pets, awesome bug eliminators, fabulous mulch-makers and superb leftover consumers, but also a clear example of sustainable processes at work. Plus, if you can come up with a more interesting way to start a conversation about sustainability at a business networking event, let me know!

With that, here are the weekly baby pictures:
birds on hand
being fairly good
chickens out of hand
becoming rambunctious
What you don't see after this is a picture of Clover jumping on my head! Ouch!

Lastly, here are some good healthy egg dying techniques:

Whole Foods Market

Martha Stewart

Naturally Earth

I'm sure there are others out there, it just takes a bit of looking! Happy Easter!

Since we were so busy last week with the yet unfinished mini split heat pump project, I didn't have any time to post my Friday fluffy update. The mini-fluffs are getting pretty big, and we thought it would be interesting to also get updated pictures of the big birds.
digging in the raised bed
fluffy butts
Here are Sugar, Pepper and Nutmeg (in order) digging around in the old potato box from last year. This year we are prepping it for beans or something. The birds find this box endlessly fascinating because there are apparently tons of yummy things in there. Where is Cinnamon, you might ask...
chicken snuggling
Cinnamon's nap time
This is what Cinnamon likes to do whenever I hang out with them. She jumps on my lap and sticks her head under my arm. She can stay like that for over half an hour if I can stand it (which usually I can't).

Now that I've shared some pictures of the big fluffs being headless, lets check on the babies.
Clover and Pumpkin are still learning to be held, but they have made lots of progress and are still ok with the camera. The adults do not like the camera at all!
Nutmeg freaking out
You can tell how much bigger the adults are than the babies by using my hand as a measuring device, lol. The babies are only about half as big as Sugar, and she is the smallest adult by far.

At this point you might be wondering, and I suppose it's a good time to explain why they all like to be held the same way. For some reason they do not like to be held with my right arm (unless its Cinnamon wanting to be held like a football with her head in my armpit). Ninety eight percent of the time they prefer to be held on my left. This is probably because the way a chicken sees is completely different from the way a person sees.

In almost all of these pictures the birds are looking at the camera with their left eye - that is their "far eye." Their left eye sees far away things best. So whichever way is to their left is where they're looking for predators. Or they're looking with their left toward the house hoping I'll come out and give them treats.

Their right eye is their "near eye." They look at me with their right eye when I'm holding them because it's easier for them to see me.
I've often wondered what it must be like to see so differently. Sometimes I try to think about how one would design buildings for beings who see this way. Seems like a pretty difficult thing to do - putting lots of space on the left and all way-finding signs on the right, for example. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little lesson in chickenness. Have a good week!
Here's what my hubby has been doing on his vacation. Yes, he's been home from work since Wednesday working on the furniture he's building, the garden and this mini split heat pump installation. In turn, I have gotten almost nothing done! But this is a shout out to my father-in-law who came here today (when he could've otherwise been making money with real clients) to help drill this hole through our wall.

Here you can see the plumbing and electrical wires going from the kitchen through my office and into the closet. Isn't this a lovely view? It is not at all good for feng shui, but I have decided to put up a shelf or something to block the view and correct the situation. The brick wall is double brick thickness, so the boys had to rent a giant saw from The Home Depot. It worked pretty well, all things considered.

This is inside the closet. Wasn't it nice of the previous owners to leave the ceiling in the closet open like that for us to use? I think it was pretty sweet.

Here you can see the services spewing out of the office past the bathroom window. We have some downspout to encase everything and attach it to the wall. It will look much better when all is said and done, I have been promised.

And here is the unit which I was talking about in a previous post. (you can see the evil oil access just to the left of it) Now we need to have an electrician and a plumber out to check everything out and do the hookups. I did mention that this is all my husband's doing. You would think that I had more input, but I didn't really. I just decided where to put the units, not how to hook them up. We did a whole test using white sage, and I think it will supplement the oil heat well.

There are sooooooooooooooo many things to do! Prioritizing would be great, except there are lots of things that are equally important. So if I were to stop the world to get some things done, what would I do? Well the world would be stopped for quite some time!

 1  build chicken coop
 1.1  material takeoffs
 1.1.1  finish model
 1.1.2  detail model
 1.1.3  explode and calculate
 1.2  buy materials
 1.2.1  rent truck
 1.2.2  purchase materials
 1.2.3  get help
 1.3  construction
 1.3.1  panel assembly
 1.3.2  deconstruction of current coop
 1.3.3  construction
 1.4  finishing
 1.4.1  prime
 1.4.2  paint
 1.4.3  sprinkle fairy dust
 2  paintings
 2.1  get canvas
 2.1.1  choose size or sizes
 2.1.2  compare costs
 2.1.3  travel and purchase
 2.2  set up studio
 2.2.1  clean attic
 2.2.2  get a good lamp
 2.2.3  lay down drop cloths
 2.3  make a mess
 2.3.1  plan what to paint
 2.3.2  mix colors
 2.3.3  don't clean up
 3  invent
 3.1  doodle ideas
 3.1.1  keep pencil by bed
 3.1.2  write more stuff down/ keep journal
 3.2  make mockups/models
 3.2.1  get supplies and go for it
 3.2.2  reuse crap in basement
 3.3  play
 3.3.1  experiment
 3.3.2  make a mess
 4  draw
 4.1  stop and draw the roses
 4.1.1  get inspired
 4.1.2  start anywhere
 4.2  dream more
 4.2.1  meditate
 4.2.2  put off some chores
 4.3  explore
 4.3.1  go for walks - you used to love walks
 4.3.2  get back on the bike, stop and sketch
 5  ARE
 5.1  study
 5.1.1  pick a test and do a study plan dangit
 5.1.2  stick to it
 5.2  schedule
 5.2.1  make a commitment
 5.2.2  pay $$$
 6  business
 6.1  business plan
 6.1.1  write something down
 6.1.2  go back and edit whatever you wrote
 6.2  WBE certification
 6.2.1  put up list of necessary documents
 6.2.2  get help
 6.2.3  check things off the list
 6.3  swot analysis
 6.3.1  really think about shit for a change
 6.3.2  figure out who those dang ideal clients are
 6.4  network
 6.4.1  keep better track of people
 6.4.2  organize schedule
 6.4.3  get focused
 6.5  general office
 6.5.1  clean this mess up
 6.5.2  finish desk
 6.5.3  get a phone
 7  other
 7.1  tai chi
 7.1.1  practice more
 7.1.2  get more involved with school
 7.2  feng shui
 7.2.1  look into schools
 7.2.2  get some sort of certification
 8  garden
 8.1  drawing
 8.1.1  do an “as built,” correct current drawing
 8.1.2  maintain better plan, keep updated
 8.2  finishing
 8.2.1  belgian blocks
 8.2.2  mulch
 8.2.3  trim nasty hedges of doom
 8.3  recording
 8.3.1  take more pictures
 8.3.2  keep track of production
 8.3.3  can more
... So I guess that covers things for now.

This is a last minute blogoff entry. There are lots more interesting blogoff posts for this topic, and I encourage you to go check them out. Thanks for taking time out of your Tuesday to scroll through.
Chris with Pumpkin and Clover
Clover's colors
Clover is getting brown gills!
So I had the hubby hold the fluffs for today's pictures because it's just easier.

That's the theme for the week. I need easier! It has been super busy here and with home stuff. We got a new efficient dish washer installed. I got it at Mrs G Appliances just before all the prices went up! (I highly recommend them.) Also, the mini-split heat pump was delivered on Wednesday. I managed to get it to the backside of the house and covered up before heading out to my networking event. We don't have anybody scheduled to install it because the install quotes we got were sky high. But the packaging for the two appliances went into the chicken cage to serve as perches for a while. They're nice little pallet type things, and the birds seem okay with them for now.

I went to the DCN Networking event on Wednesday night, and got to hang out with at least one person (guess which one) I have already met out networking. It was fun, and I may go again if they have more events.

Add to that our CSA orientation meeting last night... We're really excited to be joining the CSA. The Farm manager is really upbeat, and she's the kind of girl you'd just like to hug. She answered a lot of questions. We came home with a couple pieces of paper with info on them such as the types of vegetables we'll be getting and when they will be available. This all starts around the 4th week of May depending on the weather.

I also sent out a check to join the cheese CSA which partners with our CSA. I love cheese. I really love goat cheese. I can't believe I waited so long to make a decision on this. But the other CSA members who had the cheese share last year and were at the meeting last night just raved about the cheese, so I pulled the trigger on that today. mmm, goat cheese...

Nevermind our own garden is more or less flourishing here. Lots of berry bushes have made it into the ground. The asian pear tree was also planted finally. And the hubs is now the plant guru at his workplace too. I think it's pretty funny. But he finds these interesting things about plants and is always dying to share what he's learned. For instance, last night he made me watch a video that looked like an old episode of Grizzly Adams, but was really from 2000 or so, about this guy Sepp Holzer, who has lemon trees growing in the Alps. If you know anything about lemon trees, you know they usually don't grow on mountains. Somehow he makes magic happen. Now we're contemplating going to Austria to visit the Kremeterhoff (not sure about the spelling) sometime.

And I'm all about sharing this stuff too, so now I'm off to find links... weeeeeee.

Happy Friday. Have a good weekend!
cuddly chicken
Pumpkin really likes to cuddle
Please excuse the pajamas and morning hair... The hubs took this picture of Pumpkin stretching her neck out against my head and the chair this morning, and I've been sharing it all over. This is the best picture of how cuddly they are!
lap chicken
Clover, the lap chicken
Clover actually likes to cuddle too, but she is shy about having her picture taken while she's letting it all hang out.
Eggzy badge
Also, yesterday I discovered Eggzy in my Springwise RSS feed, and it was like the heavens appeared! We have too many eggs, and until now I haven't known what to do with them. Well Eggzy made it easy. They provided all the rules (laws for local egg selling) and some neat tools for managing egg counts and such. We started an egg stand today. While it's not beautiful yet, I'm sure it will be very helpful in the future! It's very exciting.

We have also been working on the environmental systems here. Currently we have oil heat and it's killing my soul. I intensely dislike oil in general, and the boiler here is ANCIENT. The efficiency is on the floor, and I'm here freezing my butt off all the time. This is in addition to having no air conditioning. The AC thing is somewhat ok because the cross breezes we get are pretty good, but sometimes it does get pretty darn unbearable in the summer. So we're thinking of just providing a boost to the system with a mini split heat pump. I had someone here on Tuesday, and their estimate is going to be crazy I believe. But it's just to find out how much we'll save by getting a unit ourselves and having a couple pros out to help us. We've done TONS of research on this, and it is time to pull the trigger. :)

The only other news around here is the continuation of networking efforts all over the place. The Power Lunch Project get-together at Houlihan's on Tuesday night was a lot of fun. The appetizers were plentiful! Then I had a coffee break with a TPLPer yesterday - technically not an official TPLP coffee break, but it still counts.

That's all the news that isn't! Have a good weekend. We will be digging out sea buckthorn bushes and planting lots of berry "bushes" in their place. Hey I like dirt just as much as the next chicken, haha.