Sunday, January 27, 2008

Speak up

Not exactly a master of priorities, I recently decided that I was tired of listening to music on a dinky little radio. After all, all that hard work on the Wimberley house will go much smoother while I'm listening to music on a really good stereo system, right?

So, I've now got hi-fi to add to the growing list of necessities available at the house, like plumbing and electricity. And not just any hi-fi. These in-wall JBL's (the two circular things in the photo) are wired in up there above the living room to keep the room clutter down in what I hope will be a very modern hill country look, if there is such a thing. So this weekend I dry-walled away while alternating between NPR and other stations. Shows like Car Talk, All Things Considered, and Folk Ways, along with some 70's rock songs that I had not heard for years like American Pie. All of it LOUD. Except an old Boston song or two which were VERY LOUD.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Keep Wimberley Weirder

Thank goodness, this photo was NOT taken in Wimberley. But it was taken in Kyle, just a few short miles away. Seems the steady growth of the Austin suburbs is getting frighteningly close to our beloved and quirky small town.

"Keep Wimberley Weirder" is a play on the "Keep Austin Weird" movement. KWW's aim is to help ensure that mass-market, cookie-cutter development does not happen in Wimberley. Development like this stunning example of crap housing.

I have nothing against modest housing. What makes me sad and even sick is to see development done in ignorance. Ignorance of the endless possibilities of designing with nature rather than obliterating it, ignorance of the delight that COULD have been achieved for the same money if only someone had tried harder. So, even if you are a right-winger who is against government control over what individuals or developers can do with their own property, take a second look at this photo. Ask yourself why we can't do better. Keep this crap out of Wimberley, and every other town for that matter. We can all take action by not buying crap. Crap housing, crap anything.

I'm going to take more direct action someday, and the more stuff like this I see, the sooner it will be. I'm going to develop some modest housing that is not crap, somewhere between five and fifty years from now. Need to think of a really clever name for my company like "No Crap Housing". I have no idea of the details or how I'll make it happen, but I'll work hard to ensure that it looks as little like this development as possible. Thought I should set my intention now and manifest it!

Fiona Apple was not talking about housing in these lyrics to her song "Please Please Please", but I think it applies:

Give us something familiar
Something similar
To what we know already
That will keep us steady
Steady going nowhere

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2nd Helping

A second friend recently volunteered to help out with construction at the Wimberley house. Chris, shown here checking out the new shower, has experience working on an electrical crew and spent most of his visit wiring electrical outlets. When I say MOST of his visit, I mean it. I had to twist his arm just to get him to take a break after working most of the day. Before that weekend visit, we had just two outlets in the whole house, both located in the mechanical room. Extension cords looped all over the house, all tied into those two outlets. Now we have outlets fairly close to just about anywhere we need them, making it much easier to use power tools to do further work.

So, let's recap the overall Wimberley house construction status:
- Running water, check.
- Toilet, check. (well, one of them)
- Sink, ditto.
- AC and heat, check.
- Shower, check.
- Hot water, check.
- Outlets for plenty of hairdryers, floor lamps, laptops, coffee makers, and shavers, check.
- Little tiny things like the complete kitchen, all floor coverings, all ceilings, and most of the gypsum board on the walls... check back with me in 2009...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hot stuff

Let the champagne corks fly, there is now hot water in the Wimberley house!

Hot water in the sink. Hot water in the shower so I won't stink. Now my skin will be clean and pink. Nothing else rhyms unless someone buys a mink.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Powder Room

With the latest in high style interior design, I present the newly decorated Wimberley house powder room. The entry door contains a large glass area to let natural light in from the window opposite the door. And eventually that clear glass shown in the first photo will be frosted for privacy. But what to do until then? My son's teenage mutant ninja turtle towel from at least ten years ago to the rescue. With the help of some duct tape to hold it over the glass, of course. Shown in its full frontal glory from the inside of the powder room in the second photo.

I know, you are surely thinking "wow, where does that stunning design prowess come from?" And probably "I need to get that for MY powder room!" Interior designers of the world beware, you have met your match.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Little things

This little thing is our 21 month old grandson Braden at the Wimberley house during our Christmas break adventure. That little football he's about to launch at me doesn't seem so little when he sets it free about a foot away from me. I used one hand to cover my face and another to cover more important things. Still, he can get away with that and more, anytime he wants.

Other little things in the picture include an electrical outlet and the doorway to the master bedroom still under construction, but those didn't seem too important at the time.

And here's a little ditty that gets me misty eyed as the new year approaches every year. Something about the warm comfort of a big family get-together, and the sense of identity and place that goes with it. Reminds me of my childhood holidays at my grandparents' place, although grandmom was known more for chicken and dumplings than crumbcake.

"Hazel's House" from the album Vuelta by Richard Shindell:

There’s a two-lane county road in northern Jersey
Winding up a hill beside a lake.
Just before the road winds to an end
Is Hazel’s house.

Long white picket fence around the front yard
A wagon wheel someone made into a gate.
Flagstone steps will lead you to the front door
Of Hazel’s house.

And Hazel will have seen you from the window
She’s waiting for you as you climb the steps.
She says, “Thank God, we were starting to get worried.
Come on in.”

It’s New Year’s and the place is overflowing
Cousins, aunts and uncles gather round.
“How long has it been? It’s good to see you.
How you’ve grown.”

And the uncles all have one eye on the Rose Bowl
One by one they slink back to the den.
Everybody else heads for the kitchen
You go with them.

She always has the crumbcake at the ready
Today is no exception - there it is.
The order of the universe intact
At Hazel’s house.

And no one seems to know that this is heaven
They say we only know it by and by.
That someday all will be revealed
Well, here it is:

There’s a two-lane county road in northern Jersey
Winding up a hill beside a lake
Just before the road winds to an end.
Hazel’s house

Go on in.