I’ve had some help on a complete overhaul of my ‘work’ website. I started blogging in 2003 – hand coding my blog as a sub page of my personal website. After 2 years of neglect and zero updates, I had a friend help me get WordPress installed. I have a ton more content to add – including an updated portfolio and images of recent work. Drop by and check it out.

SketchUp in New Hampshire

The view from our stay in New Hampshire – atop a hill on a dirt road in what felt like the middle of nowhere. I taught a 2 day SketchUp class in the tiny town of Tamworth to a few timber framers, builders, and designers. We focused on general model building and then tightened in on timber specific joinery techniques. The scenery and the students were magnificent…

I’ll be teaching at Heartwood this May, and hopefully I’ll secure a spot at the TF Guild’s Eastern Conference.

Slow(ness) / Deceleration

Adjusting to my new role as primary care provider for our little one has been an emotional adventure. When we first hatched the plan for me to cut back my hours so I could take on care I thought about all the wonderful things I could share with our daughter – and I glossed over any issues I thought I might have about work, my value to the household, and my ‘career’ (if you could call the path I’m on a ‘career’).

Adjusting away from work has been the biggest challenge. In order to juggle the bills I still need to bring in a bit of cash each month – this means design consulting for a few clients doing anywhere from 10-20 hours of work a week, depending on who’s paying and what I’m doing. Squeaking out those 10-20 hours has been challenging – and its been hard not to say ‘NO!’ when I see the work piling up and I have ready clients willing to pay for it to get done. Occasionally I’ll cram in a busy busy week – but the price is little time for solo rides and runs – and more time in front of the computer feeling guilty that I’m neglecting our little one as she plays in the office (we’ve wondered if baby gear can be an itemized business expense?).

It has taken a good few months – but I’m finally finding ways to let go of the go-go world I used to live in. Homes are still being built, good people are doing good design, and the world goes on – without me. I’ve jumped from the plane/train/car riding laptop toting cellphone ringing design/sales consultant to a much different world – and the deceleration has caused me some whiplash.

Letting go of the $$ was the first challenge. Realizing how much child care is worth (through interviewing nanny agencies and shopping for day care) put me a bit more at ease not being an ‘equal’ financial partner in our household. The math works out that even if I was bringing in my old salary – I’d be giving most of it up just for someone to care for our little one. Investing time, not cash, is what I’ve come to love about being a new parent. Little ones require such simple things – but the things that we bring to our little one’s lives mirror our values. Giving up on ‘making a living’ to taking care of a living has been a shift. Value is relative.

Letting go of working with and designing / solving problems for people is something I have had the hardest time working through. The connections to good people doing good work is what drove most of my projects – and without that creative outlet there are days that I feel a bit empty. I’ve been working through this by applying my energies to projects around the house or on acquiring skills so I can produce bike related gear – all the while including our little one as much as possible in my everyday world. Dishes, cooking, bike repair, laundry, errands – the everyday. Transitioning from a lead designer and team player on complex projects to ‘daddy day care’ is a work in progress. Most days are wonderful – but there are days, especially just prior to sending off a batch of work, that are mental challenges.

To help reorient my compass and ease my deceleration I’ve tried to embrace the slow, the everyday, the wonder of the moment. It seems I was much better at this when it was an option for me – as a short lived student of Zen I found delight in trying to blend the everyday into my hectic life. Now that I have the time to embrace ‘now’ – I have found it can be stifling and hard to wrap one’s head around.

This week has been different. It seems that the parachute may have finally opened and my body recovering from the sudden deceleration before touching ground. While drifting a bit in the wind I’m eager to get my feet on the ground and explore. Pacing myself to the rhythm of our little one has opened a new perspective on the world.

Beach sand never felt, nor looked so interesting. Grass – its texture on the skin is a joy under the blue blue sky and early summer sun. Loons can swim under water a surprising length of time. Cottonwood blossoms make it snow in June. Park swings are relaxing and exhilarating. Tree houses still inspire this boy’s sense of adventure.

Pedaling slowly also has its advantages (aside from not breaking a sweat) – dew on the leaves glisten, frogs croak at sunset, waves ripple in pattern, clouds become dragons and mountains and birds, rain falls softly on the forest above – and the little one sleeps and dreams of a perfect world, a perfect day, of discovery and of life to come.

NESEA / Boston

I did some booth time for work in Boston last week at the NESEA Building Energy conference. This lovely machine was parked out front, waiting to shuttle supplies to and fro for Building Green – one of the event’s main sponsors. I know BG well, from my time in Brattleboro and my time researching and working in the natural building and green building side of the construction industry. Good folks all around – both at BG and at NESEA.

The bike is a Cycle Maximus Cargo Trike, and I believe it had electric assist. Hmm… could this work in Burlington? Local food delivery from City Market? Dragging drunk college kids back up the hill on a Friday night?

Revisiting Work

I had the pleasure of visiting a client (turned friend) when I was in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. I’ve done several projects for John and his family over the years – the barn / workshop that I hand cut and raised during the summer of 2004 is the largest – and most rewarding to date. The frame is crafted from Eastern White Pine and Douglas Fir, and is accented by Walnut pegs and splines. The barn sits atop a traditional sandstone foundation and is protected from the elements with a slate roof and a blue heron inspired weathervane. The project is nearly complete – John took to doing the finishing work himself with the help of a few of my craftsman friends from the Cleveland area. Working on the project was surreal – I commuted by bike 18 miles each way to my day job, cut the barn frame in my shop (when I lived in the Finger Lakes) at nights and on weekends, and worked some local mountain biking into the mix on trails right out my back door with fantastic views of Canandaigua Lake.