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First a 2 day deluge during grape harvest in November which wiped out the year, then nothing. So now my garden is drenched and I'm inside recording some tunes for the day. Click on the "Bokashi" tab to hear some music.
It's hard to believe that I haven't posted for almost a year but here are some current exterior pics of the rock I have been rolling up this hill. Now its winter again and we move inside to actually do some of the fun stuff (as soon as the heat gets fired up). Yesterday morning was 29 degrees and fog.
The true face of this piece won't be revealed till we attempt to further "physicalize" the architect's intentions but we are working with a minimal pallette of concrete, VG douglas fir and glass. No trim, no tolerances and no excuses. At the end of the day, what most visitors call "is that going to be a school?", will become a family's home in the midst of pristine CA rolling farm land.
Right now, its still a skeleton but the interior shapes will start to reveal and warm themselves. This collaborative process of design (architect) and builder (janitor) has been a conundrum since before the pyramids of Giza... hey Pharoah, you wanna build what out here?? Regardless of where one enters the conversation (design, environment, politics, morality), this dance goes on.
For me, its about the HOW. How do we share ideas, how do we work together, how do we do no harm, how do we make meaningful choices, how do I afford more wine to cope with this madness, how, how how...
Nose to the wheel these days. Juggling two new residences coming out of the ground in the midst of rainy winter. Not fun, just El Nino mud.
One is for a client who purchased the infamous, 45 acre Bob Weir ranch (Grateful Dead) in Nicasio (one of the most beautiful, quiet villages in Marin County, CA). The other is a two story, LEED certified, strawbale compound outside the city of Sonoma, CA on 35 acres. The Nicasio project has already won a design award for it's modern concrete and glass design. The other will be a working organic farm with focus on hand plaster walls, local stonework, reclaimed douglas fir woodwork, stained concrete floors, a living roof and state of the art, heat sink sand beds to contain the solar driven energy storage.
We inserted 1 inch thick pieces of Lexan plastic into the concrete pour of the Nicasio project to create a light window through the wall. More pics as these projects develop.
The Sonoma vineyards were scorched by August heat, pummeled by harvest rains and beaten down by our mindless, economic collapse. At least we can drink great juice and commensurate with the vignerons.
I am building a large, straw bale residence outside the city of Sonoma and ride to work through the Carneros every morning at dawn. Now, the vines have been picked, the immigrant workers have moved on (?) and there is an eerie silence. Except for a few frantic weeks during the entire year, the landscape is void of human activity. Yet were it not for the incredible hand work of the laborers (they pick at night with minimal lights to insure cool, freshness), we would not have wine on our table.
The Sonoma Land Trust was established to preserve and protect the richness of farming life and large parcels of undeveloped land. Although I am against the destruction of the existing orchard industry for wine production, I have also experienced the mindless sprawl of "housing developers". This is some of the best biking terrain in CA and a direct way to experience preservation.
I am currently managing some projects for Hammond Fine Homes, which is a leading green builder in northern CA. Here are some pics of the house I am completing in Sebastopol, CA: LEED certified residence where all the woodwork and flooring was remilled from a deserted chicken shack a mile away. Solar powered, computerized engineered septic system and a killer half acre blackberry bush!
Lots of changes for me over the last few months. I have moved into Sonoma County to be closer to the wine business, simpler life, great food and warm weather. I have a couple of projects coming out of the ground and as they achieve form I will post pictures and stories. Thanks for your support.
There's nothing like spending time with friends, eating great local food, dissing conservative blowhards and drinking good wine. So in this spirit, I ventured off the beaten path to balm my wounds and breathe a little fresh air. April/May in NorCal is inspiring and that is why I try to take a big bite. I had been working on another house for Charles Schwab in Woodside, CA so it was a quick, much needed hop up to wineland.
My friends at Clos du Bois Winery in Geyserville asked me back to build another winespace for them in their Hospitality Center. This is where they entertain their salespeople and special guests. The space has a full commercial kitchen, dining and media area with a beautiful, panoramic view of the Alexander Valley (Sonoma County).
Truth be told, this was one of the smallest areas I've ever built but it had all the challenges. Constellation Brands is the corporate owner and CduB is the largest purchaser of grapes in Sonoma County but the setting is beautiful. My friend, Erik Olsen, is the head winemaker and his Marlstone and Briarcrest wines are incredible. But when you walk the vine rows with the wild mustard and just enjoy being in the country, all problems just fade away.
I wrote awhile back of visiting my friends, John Keller and Lesley Harrison up in Volcano, CA for John's BDay party. John passed away on March 5 and few of us knew that the party was a last, conscious farewell. John was a Vietnam vet who suffered the chemical impact of that drama, so his blood cancer probably was a direct link.
What I have learned from spending time with numerous family and friends in Hospice these last few years is that I feel pummeled. Couple that with the mindless, feral resistance from conservatives over decent health care, and I am almost beyond hope.
My wacky guitar shaman, Ambrose, called in the dead of rainy night, to remind (no, entice) me to hunt chanterelles tomorrow. Here on the central CA coast after this last big rain, they are a-poppin under the oaks in mossy sunny areas. Luckily in CA, since it's winter, one doesn't run the risk of tripping over some Vietnam era booby trap from some local pot grower but I admit the hunter gatherer thrill is the same. Since this is the night before I don my camo, read on to see how it turned out.
So my wacky musician/builder friend, Gizmo, his beloved Dr. Catherine along with cats Harry and Whit, have retired and moved to Joshua Tree in the heart of the Mojave Desert. Yes, that 110 degree Mojave. Against my sage advise, they have decided to create their sustainable lizard ranch. Spending their days building a passive solar house, writing books, recording music, howling at the moon ... what are these knuckleheads thinking? Get a real job!!!
My friend, Kirk Probasco, has closed Stokes Adobe. The fact that he is a veteran of food and wine is a no-brainer when you watch him work the room. Since I live two blocks away and that this was the last real local joint around, I need to relate some history here and celebrate his passion and the community.