not forgotten

I have indulged in a 60+ days of relaxation. "me" time.

I have been well.

Paused, but not forgotten... the digital manifestation of my life.... this site... the magical, musical, place where I write, you read, and we all grow...

So Russell... what do you love about music? "To begin with..........everything."

I love this house. I've learned so much. I grew the house I live in... but more importantly, I'm growing as a result of it.

I've learned to be silent and learned when saying nothing is a beautiful use of negative space.

So my apologies for my absence... but I have not forgotten you. There is much to discuss

8 days have passed

It seems like this week has been a melodious yellow haze.

I guess I could just have easily titled this post my inner Barney Rubble. The point, undoubtedly, is one in which the author feels like he has been driving a barefoot powered vehicle around the last 18 months.

I slept so peacefully last Saturday night... almost as if my bed was made of sunshine and elementary school recess.

The Global House Warming was unimaginable.

There are far too many conversations and experiences to recount them all...

...but here's a window into the event that symbolized a dream...

A gentle breeze rustled... swiftly tapping some backyard shrubbery against an open awning window. In fact, all the growahouse awning windows were open that day... outstretched and angled like a butterfly... all 21 of them... inviting the most picture perfect weather in recent memory to enter the house as a guest... as a friend. I am reminded that the most efficient mechanical system performance is one in which it remains... off.

Not yet dim enough for a crisp appreciation, a photo montage of the growahouse process flipped from one moment to another, projected on a wall in the basement. As the day progressed to night, the photos would be replaced with a screening of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Both visuals would rest on a wall that stood above 275 square feet of carpet that days earlier rested in a warehouse in NE Washington. Its significance subsequently rests in the fact that months ago it rested in another home... 21 miles away in Vienna, VA. This treasure was salvaged from one home, to give life to another.

Waste not.

As guests would arrive from as far away as California, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and next door... so would smiles, nostalgia, and beautiful plants that radiated with the sunshine as they passed from one caretaker to the next.

Growahouse received 53 plants on Saturday... simply amazing

Laughter was infectious... so were stories. Glances were exchanged from the third floor landing down and out to the courtyard gates in an unbroken gesture. Joyous pride filled beats filled the house and the street like a we had plugged fingertips into speakers and were listening to the heartbeats of a community united.

I spoke to the masses congregated in the courtyard about ecology, family, love, responsibility, stewardship, difficult times, honest realizations, and pleasant progressive thoughts ahead... over a hundred people packed in the courtyard... and front yard... and side yard... with glasses raised and smiles beaming.

It was a green snapshot... a single eco-friendly, socially responsible instant...

...regardless of the shared past or the individual trials to come... we stood shoulder to shoulder as friends in the yellow shadow of this house in this moment...

and we lived it well.

Thank you for believing

I will post a collection of pictures later on this week. If you have pictures from the event, please forward them to

can you feel it?

The world is working in seamless harmony with the growahouse movement. Tomorrow will be sunny and 76 degrees. I couldn't have scripted it better.

I made the rounds to my neighbors last night... Telling them that the global housewarming would be tomorrow and that they should stop by... have some jerk chicken... talk the talk... feel the movement

I found myself hammering my new and improved mailbox into its redefined locale at 3:00 AM last night. (Got a chance to break out Angela, my sledge hammer, and give her a couple over the shoulder swings) It seemed to be a fitting task on a mild moonlit night. There is something about the vibe and the potential energy of getting and receiving mail, that says...

"I'm reachable... and I look forward to hearing from you."

Come one, Come all...

1.5, 6.5, 4... 12 hours

Do we define friendship in minutes, hours, days, years?

I define it in respect.

Respect for how you live your life. The goals you set... the people you choose to share milestones and misery with...the effortless way you greet me... the confidence I feel when I say I know you.

I set a goal with this house project, I reached out for something that I was not certain I would be able to hold onto... almost like chasing a butterfly...almost too delicate to truely grab and hold... so it is constantly IN and OUT of your grasp. It can be frustrating, and overwhelming.

But I have friends.

Some of whom I knew not what incredible level of commitment they would showcase over the last year and a half .... on my behalf... most of which, I still struggle to feel deserving of.

But yet still... I have friends.

And in a quiet hotel room in Tempe, Arizona... one such friend calms his spirit to a whisper as he prepares himself for his own butterfly. On Sunday, a friend and growahouse patriot, Eric, will endure a twelve hour mystical and physical journey into the limits of his abilities as he begins and completes his first Ironman Race.

  • 2.4 Mile Swim
  • 112 Mile Bike Ride
  • 26.2 Mile Run
  • This Herculean effort is daunting to most, maybe even to Eric.... but like a true growahouse veteran, he will meet it on the battlefield nonetheless.

    If I could make the water more buoyant, the wheels faster, or the tailwind stronger...

    I would.

    Unlike the 450 lb countertop or the impromptu flight of stairs, and despite my strongest desires to help...this is not a burden that I can share with you.

    But I CAN wish you well... I CAN think good thoughts for jersey #277...

    ....and I WILL summon the full breadth of the growahouse spirit and community energy in welcoming you back to its hallowed halls next weekend.

    Good luck tomorrow, old friend. Breathe easy.


    In reflecting on design decisions... it is often inquired... not just how I did something... but "why?" "Sustainable"... "Eco-Conscious" or better still "Intentional Living" as I define it, is often much more about the "WHY" than the result. Process is important, mind you... and the end product should to be a hot design and visually well worth the effort, but understand that we are in an era of transition. We are in an era in which the fundamental reason we make decisions has to be rooted in a place that ensures our survival as a species. It's that serious.


    So the challenge, as I saw it, was to start to finish the interior of the courtyard in a way that supports the tenets of the house. Living intentionally means that I believe that if I put the weight of my intellect and passion behind every component of design decisions... the end result should, by gestalt, be exponentially more meaningful.

    Process Lesson ONE: Conserving Resources/Identifying Assets

    This is the fence that separates me from one of my neighbors. I realized recently that it was, in fact, two fences. His fence and my fence. My fence consisted of a rickety and semi-rotted 5' tall pickets that ran about 50' down the side of the house. In addition to being firmly entangled with vines, their nooks and crannies have undoubtedly provided years of safe haven for all kinds of creatures.

    For this particular venture, I will let the pictures tell the story.

    Reclaimed. Recycled. Reused..... Rediculously hot!

    [As always, thanks Doug]

    the great debate

    Begat in the depths of NY-DC brotherly cell phone texts and nurtured in the paper strewn cubicles of my office... a conversation has emerged about what type of feast the global house warming will engage. First, there was talk of a CRAB BAKE.

    Not really sure what that meant, but convinced that it sounded like a damn good time...the festival seemed to be well on its way to becoming epic.

    So then, urged on by a certain moustached gentleman of leisure, who shall remain nameless, but his initials are Wade H. McKinney, IV.... there was talk of a PIG ROAST.

    Primal... authentic... hands on.... I like the flare that a spigot roasting pig would bring to this feast...and surprisingly enough, there is a bounty of online info about how to make that a reality.

    But some things.... are a little TOO real.

    So....... I consulted a local cooking aficionado and she suggested an Open Pit Earth Oven.

    Nice. I could use the leftover bricks from the original chimney on the house to line the pit and create the base for the coals and stones that would support a fire fit for growahouse. It's hardcore and natural, without stressing over PETA stoping by for a "conversation."

    I'm going to investigate this further. This could be something for the ages.

    There is a man in Washington Heights, NYC who will want to hear about this. They call him Marvin The Martian.

    He bleeds barbeque sauce.

    iditarod... iditawrong

    So many may be familiar with the annual Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. [Shout out to the shorter member of Team San Diego who has this race on her "things to do before I die list."] Anyway... this past week, for the fifth year in a row, they have had to relocate the start of the race to an area that has "more snow". hmmmm.... Alaska.... "need more snow"..... seem odd to anybody else?

    Maybe it's just me.

    but whatever... maybe I should just be happy and embrace Spring, right? hmmmm....So... in lieu of more soap boxing about the climate crisis, I will share an important experience I had last night.

    ...a two hour midnight yoga session.

    I will leave the particulars (along with the subsequent muscle aches) for another time. What I will share, however, is that this experience reminded me why I was inspired to build the courtyard in front of the house... and why it's so important that I finish it. Connection with oneself... connection with myself... is intrinsically tied to connection to the outdoors. It's who I am. It's why I feel a little guilty when I pass my mountain bike on my way to my circle saw. I know I've been the guy who puts hammer to nail with vigorous persistence... but I'm also the cat that closes his eyes when the wind blows.

    The courtyard is the place where brick becomes grass... it's an in-between melody. I want to go there and feel peace in that transition. Maybe I could do a little yoga out there sometime?

    The yoga instructor kept reminding us to choose an intention... something or someone to send our positive energy towards... one that would make me smile...

    I know what mine was. But I'm not tellin.

    global house warming - april 21st

    It is a inexplicable feeling to begin wrapping my brain around the idea of having a celebration to honor the house that shaped my life for the last year and a half. I am equally nervous and empowered.... not unlike a mad scientist... I feel meticulously giddy.

    So why April 21st?

    "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." -William Shakepeare

    Spring is... a time for awakenings. Life......unrestrained and unrefined. That is the spirit this house was built with... That is the natural stage on which it should be celebrated. Falling on the eve of Earth Day, the 21st will literally and emblematically usher in the calendar symbol of communal eco-consciousness, global stewardship, and intentional living. All tenets that are the mortar of this house... this home.

    So come one, come all.

    It's a Celebration!!!

    There is more information in the News & Events section of the site and I will add details as I develop them, but in the meantime... please forward your U.S. post mailing addresses to

    It will be epic.

    st. got to love the

    The situation was dire to say the least.

    Lets flash back to the fact that I got a welcomed ride home this evening after having been stuck out in Northern Virginia all week doing software training. No huge vendetta against VA... but I'm just not a fan. I mean... come on... any rookie proponent of urbanization has got to have at least a tiny little pocket of hate for the vast, monotonious bowl of vanilla that is northern Virginia. It's crazy... every one of those cookie cut "cities" like Balston, Clarendon, and Rosslyn exist in this weird state of frenzied boredom... like you took the third floor of Any Mall USA...nyahmean? ... Starbukrombie & Fitch... blew it up and built a town around it.

    Anyway... apologies for the digression.

    So I come home and the vicious ice storm that has ravaged the east coast has also laid waste to my courtyard gutter. So I spent an hour outside on my ladder hammering the ice in the gutters to break it up and clear it out.


    I guess there's not really much to that story. The ice weighed too much for the gutter. It was cold. My fingers were like popsicles. I was a bit miserable...I grabbed my trusty hammer and did what had to be done.

    natty dreadlocks no wear handcuff

    so it was 2:47 AM and I'm finishing some painting in the kitchen nook. Ordinarily, this mid morning jaunt into my waking sleep would go unnoticed, or more so... unreported. Maybe it was the seamless i-tunes music transition between Jr. Gong, Dido, and Terence Trent D'Arby.... maybe it was the gin and tonic I had with dinner (well... three gin and tonics)... not sure... maybe it was noticing the Cherimoya fruit(Custard Apple) on the counter was ripe and eagerly deciding that I was going to eat it the following morning....again... not sure... but I remembered something.

    I remembered the feeling that I had pushing into '07 and I realized what it meant to me. I realized how to describe it.

    Indulge your idiosyncrasies.

    If the house is a reflection of the owner, then it has long been time to turn the volume up a bit.

    this photo was taken on Saturday afternoon in the 3rd Floor bathroom. There is an illusion that tape will ensure clean lines ... perfect painting... not so much. Given that experience... coupled with last night's clarity...I have presently redefined my desire/need for perfection. I take my time. I let the craftsman within step up to the plate and I accept him as he is. Most times, I believe my lines will be fairly straight. I'm confident that I can make manifest my intent if I believe in the task... and if I give myself to it.

    An imperfect act forged in the desire to trust myself to do it well is INFINITELY more rewarding then one born from the desire to stop myself from doing it badly. - M.

    I don't use tape anymore.


    Perched high atop my sometimesy folding ladder... the first floor steps rising perilously below, I stood balanced between motivation and my exhaustion. That was tough place to be.

    Task: Hang chandelier over first floor steps.

    I went to Home Depot Expo with moms a few months ago and saw a modern looking stainless steel four-light chandelier that I knew would do well in the house. In particular, this fixture had individual moving lights and I wanted to use one of the lights to focus on the 9 foot tall niche that stands adjacent to the steps. But as with all things... it was like $50 cheaper online.

    Needless to say... It was difficult and dangerous (had to call some folks on the phone to let them know that they should check on me in about 20 min in case they needed to come collect my mangled body from the stair below after my untimely fall)... but I got it up and sat on the step ready to turn on the switch and rejoice in a job well done... and as soon as I smiled in the new abundant radiant light and walked down the steps to try the other switch...

    I remembered where I was.

    So in a nutshell...the electrician, in his infinite wisdom, wired power to the light switch for the downstairs foyer. No problem there... but then homeboy decided to run power from THAT switch to the courtyard lights and the new chandelier area. So basically, I have to turn on one light in order to turn on the others.

    Why would you do that?

    In that one white wire/black wire decision, he robbed me of the ability to bask thoroughly in my moment. I hate when that happens...... and that type of incomplete moment is none too infrequent an occurrence at the house. So I turned off the power, rewired the switches and was back in business. It still irritated me. Some things should go smoothly... why does it always have to be...

    My hard work balanced against some joker's minimalist work ethic.

    national geographic

    This is a tale of felines, warm winters, and destiny. "Its not global warming, its el nino."

    They lied to you about global warming... so don't believe the El Nino hype that wearing board shorts mid January is perfectly normal. It was 70 degrees in DC this past weekend... huh?... I watched folks playing ultimate frisbee on The Mall like they were catching a breather during summer session Calc II at GW.

    Its Not Normal... Its Not Good.

    What do five of the last six years have in common?

    The hottest years on record, since they started recording temperature.

    So with my windows open mid January... I'm painting on the first floor and I look out to see one of my friendly backyard cats(white with grey patch) stalking a squirrel in my oak tree. It was nothing short of fascinating. For ten minutes, the cat sat patiently at the bottom of the tree... eager, but stoic in preparation and then as though the veil of silence had been lifted abruptly ...potential energy burst into kenetic and the cat was 10 feet in the tree at the squirrel nest in three bounds.

    No Luck.

    The squirrels were quick and as the cat sat in their nest, not triumphant, but somehow accomplished... I couldn't help but think of another cat... (black, white patch). Struck by a car at the bottom of the block roughly 6 months ago. I have watched, unabated by timely removal and unaided by winter's snowy promise lost...I have watched this creature slowly and effortlessly unexist.

    During my daily jaunt down to the bus stop, I stop habitually to notice milestones of this gradual procession into the earth. In stark contrast to the vibrant prey-seeking feline that stirred my soul and stopped the progression my painting, this daily reminder exists for several reasons.

  • So that I remember that life is fleeting.
  • So that I understand that all things are connected... all things are... in life and death... connected. One feeds another. One eats, ones becomes food.
  • I mean imagine if the white cat had caught the squirrel, then got hit by the car... the cat and the squirrel would then feed the ground they laid on... together.

  • So that I repeat my most essential question... what do I do, with the time I am given?
  • hand washing

    It is a rarity, in this personal era of growth and gratitude, when I have the tangible opportunity to show the same type of generosity shown to me in the process of building this dream... growing this house. A week and a half ago, I had such an opportunity.

    I was able to paint a friend's basement. Two days... two coats of paint...

    I was all too eager to get in there and assist in this basement's transformation. It was the least I could do. A while back, this same friend spent countless hours of time in the bitter cold running hundreds of feet of cable and networking wire through the bare interior walls of growahouse.

    His generosity was not about future payback... it wasn't about getting something in return.... it was about sharing knowledge and time. That is the best part of this project.... the sharing.

    And as the fall season bid us a fond farewell and we entered into an uplifting, albeit frigid tempered, season of sharing... of giving... of reconciliation.... I found myself on the receiving end yet again.

    Last Saturday, another great friend brought me a holiday wreath, with vibrant red berries, to hang on the front of the house.

    Growahouse likes to keep things festive.

    one band, one sound

    The visual cacophony that was the exterior of the house has now been softened.

    It has, in the crisp silent air of an approaching winter, been hushed into a tranquil symphony of analogous pieces.... this newly christened gestalt...this humble collection of yellow splendor.... this vibrant hamlet that, as I stand at the crossroads of the driveway and my destiny, makes my soul sing with an empowered echo like the mountainous canary that shares its vibrant amarillo coloring with my house... our house... the house that love built.

    one band, one sound.

    The completion of the exterior painting has reinvigorated this small swath of land. It has, in my modest opinion, definitively and resolutely cemented old and new, past and present, hope and truth.

    There is strength left in this now fifteen-month odyssey… there is a song that even now, sings fiercely and shakes leaves from trees… shakes bitterness from passersby.


    There is work yet to be done. There are nails that have not yet been met with thunderous hammer. There are tiles that have not been bathed in shower rain. There are cherry stained timbers that await their introduction to the streetscape. There is work yet to be done.

    Yet in the soft calm of an emerging winter, when the sun takes second chair to the white sky, there is now… and hence forward… a beacon.

    Thank you for believing.

    rise and shine

    Nothing gets the blood pumping at 7AM on a Thursday morning like an hour and a half of exterior painting before you go to work. So here is the breakdown... The weather has been relatively mild for the last week, despite a few rain showers. This provided me with a small window to paint the first floor exterior of the house. Paint needs the minimum average temperature within 24 hrs of application to be about 40 degrees. It's November and today the high temp is 69 degrees (thank you, global warming), so I can't afford to look a gift horse in the mouth.

    With the keen input from Manmade, LLC, I decided a while back to paint the masonry and brick of the first floor exterior and courtyard ...... yellow!!!

    surprise, surprise.

    the movement

    Far and wide, in cramped closets and moving boxes... in locker rooms and oak dresser drawers... beneath button downs and lab coats... small, medium, large, and extra large statements of support rest in the form of the official and now publicly available...

    Growahouse T-Shirts

    Check out the growashirt tab on the right to find out more about how you can get yours!!

    all hallows

    I bought two bags of candy to be prepared in case any crumbsnatchers come around tonight looking for their next sugar high. the interim, I also worked on a little Growahouse Halloween postcard to keep things festive.

    Enjoy the day

    no fear

    I took a shower on Friday in the third floor bath.

    This was a monumental moment for me.

    The tiling had been nearly finished for the last week or so, but something didn't feel right... I just wasn't ready to test it out... I just didn't feel like I had the right energy and I wanted my first shower to be worthy of the work I had put into building it.

    But then Thursday night I had a dream. It was the latest installment of a series of reoccurring dreams that I've had for a while now and I awoke feeling great... feeling peaceful. I'm not sure if it was the dream, the restful sleep, or some combination of the two, but I shot out of my bed like a champ... like the sun shining through the window was just for me.

    I rounded the corner and leapt across the threshold of the shower, turned that bad boy on, and slipped into bliss.

    Needless to say... I'm Back!!!

    So over the next few days, I will be adding several new tasty photos and diatribes about my comings and goings. Sorry for the dip in moral, but have no fear.

    The master builder is back in the building. Holla at your boy.

    deep breaths

    So life has been passing me by lately... well... up until now. The blogs have lessened... the picture uploads have all but stopped... and I was continuing on a path of ill-conceived notions about what I was capable of.

    I'm tired. I'm just tired.

    Long gone are the days of full time job during the day, part time carpentry at night. I started my downhill decent about a month ago and now I am reaching out into the darkness for power bars of truth about where I am in this process.

    Where I am.

    Where I am is a very fluid concept right now. Last Thursday, I was on my way to nowhere in a hurry. I'm laying on the floor in my bedroom, red pen in hand... two sets of drawings from work sprawled across the cork. I returned downstairs to answer a late night doorbell ring.

    Who's there, you ask?

    It was Paul the gardener. Having reunited with Paul after the hedge-trimming incident a few months back, Paul recently aided me in reclaiming my overgrown property line from my neighbor and thus he stopped by to receive payment for a job well done.

    Paul has no concept of time, as evidenced from his late night visits. (Including a midnight lawn raking scenario in early summer) But nevertheless, he arrived with his rottweiler, Sheeba. I stood there, talking to Paul and eyeballing a noticeably irritable Sheeba and it was then that I realized I wasn't as motionless as I felt. Things were happening. People and places were evolving around me and ..... and....that was okay.

    Its just different when I'm not the puppet master... the master builder... the contractor... the architect... the visionary. It's okay sometime to just be the neighbor.

    I feel like I'm rambling, yet the retelling of this sequence of events is seemingly therapeutic.... so the question comes to mind.... who am I really writing for?

    You or me?


    I recently got some new house guests. A friend is planning a move from the east coast to the west coast and needed to find a new home for his plants that would not be making the cross country trip.

    As is turns out... he as been maintaining a veritable forest in his apartment. So last Sunday, he came over with a minivan full of plants. Big plants, little plants, cacti, vines, giant aloe plants.... it was madness.

    So I got four new plants that I have been tending for the last 8 days with friendly green thumbed hospitality.

    They seem to be enjoying their eco friendly environment and are adding a nice splash of color to the second floor kitchen niche.