Tuesday, April 17, 2018

just a few [b's]

the older i get, the less i need to be happy.

and it's not even like i'm *that* old (although this birthday puts me closer to 40 than i'd like) i think what i mean is that as life gets more complicated and sometimes more stressful, little things mean more to me than they use to.

all these thoughts came about when my wife asked me what i'd like for my birthday.  after some thought i told her, "bbq, beer and basketball."

one of the absolute best things about my birthday is that it falls during march madness and this year my alma mater was playing in the elite eight.  so for my birthday my wife took my to my favorite bbq place, found me a great spot at the bar right in front of the tv and with a little sweet talking she got the bartender to put on the game....which no one else in the place cared about.  upon hearing it was my birthday, the bartender even gave me a beer on the house.  so there i was, another year older, beer in one hand and a fork full of brisket in the other, a little bit of bbq in my beard, watching college basketball and grinning from ear to ear.

although my team lost, it was a wonderful night.  who knows, if this "appreciating the small things" trend continues, maybe all i'll need to be happy at 70 is an ice cold dr, pepper!

and for those damn kids to stay off my lawn.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

a [part] of the community

a few months ago i entered a design competition.  it was to redesign an existing park to help it be more apart of the community.  the funny thing was, i didn't enter the competition to win it.

alright, that may not be entirely true, there was a little, tiny part of me that wanted to win, but it wasn't the main reason.  there were several other reasons why i wanted to participate.

first of all, i wanted to shake off some rust. unlike in school, in the professional world, very rarely do you get a small project, where you can basically do anything you want. also, i cant remember the last time i had to convey the entire idea of a project on one board.  most of my working life consists of putting together large instruction books for buildings which other people construct.  i was excited to get back to my "studio"roots and design a project and have to convey the idea armed only with presentation skills and a board.  since college, i've had the honor to attend several college "crits" where i comment on students designs but sometimes would also suggest to them better ways to present or show their projects.  i was excited to "put my money where my mouth is" as it were and see if i could present my entire idea in a simple and graphically pleasing way.  also board design.  i love looking at project boards and judging them.  some boards have a ton of imagery and wording and still tell me nothing, while others can minimally put together a few drawings and an image and it tells me everything.  i was very excited to dust off the graphic/board layout skills and see if i've learned anything.

next, i wanted to understand my new home better.  i've always believed architects should know their city.  coming to the east coast, there's a whole lot of history to catch up on.  nothing educates an architect more than throwing themselves into a project.  i'm now aware of the history of this site, the importance, the views, the grade, the transportation patterns and local business's in the area. it's only a small piece of town, but i feel i know it better.

lastly, i wanted to feel a part of the architecture community.  i was excited because i knew at the presentations i'd have a chance to meet other architects, landscape architects, artists and designers i wouldn't normally run into.  although i didn't officially meet many people that night, in the months since, i've encountered several people who have asked, "hey didn't you have an entry in the bramhall design competition?"  this usually turns into a great introductory meeting, and as geeky as it is, i've added several new colleagues to my "linked in" network.  which we all know is basically a digital first date in the professional world.

so much like this competition was designed to take an old, tired piece of land and freshen it up and make it feel more apart of the community; participating in the competition has done the same for me.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

winter [sports]?

pyeongchang wasn't the only place to see incredible athletes compete at the top of their game this past month.  little known fact i discovered recently, the town of camden, maine hosts the annul us national toboggan championships!  upon discovering this, i knew this event needed to be seen.

a broken clutch saturday morning meant my wife and i would have to check out the second day of the toboggan championships.  although we missed all the "fun" on saturday which i heard is filled with costumes and parades, sunday was the actual competitions, which was still entertaining.  driving up to camden we discovered a wonderfully quaint little town right on the coast, with the ski mountain just a few miles away. being from kansas, as well as "relatively" new to maine, venturing to a snow covered ski slope still has an awe inspiring feel to it. walking past the ski lodge and seeing the low hanging clouds hiding the top of the mountains only added to the feeling.  we found the crowd next to the chute and enjoyed several hours of toboggan racing.  i'm not sure i learned much about this sport, other than the fact that to go faster, the riders basically lie down on the sled.  this may help reduce wind drag, but it basically meant that all i saw was an odd kama-sutra-esque mass of arms, legs and stocking caps flying by; but isn't it that sense of togetherness and closeness of a team that brings home the gold.

it may not be the "exact" same thing as watching bobsleds race by during the olympics, but for two people trying to make the most of the winter months of maine, it was a wonderful way to enjoy a winter-y weekend.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

in pursuit of [hygge]

come on portland...light my fireplace....

this winter, i've been enjoying a book called "the little book of hygge- danish secrets to happy living." you may be unfamiliar with the word [hygge] but i know you've felt it.  it's that feeling of curling up in a blanket with a cup of coffee as you sit by the fire; it's that feeling you get when you enjoy the company of good friends while eating a warm dinner as the snow falls outside.  basically think sweaters, scarves, sweets, hot drinks, candles and fireplaces and you have a good start on this concept of [hygge].  my wife got me the book as a christmas present to help me get through these new england winters i now find myself in, and in a small way, it's working. whether it's getting more light from candles lit around the house, spending more quality time with friends, or drinking hot toddy's every night, this winter has been more pleasant than last year.

on my quest to achieve total [hygee-ness] this winter, i've been searching out bars in portland, maine that have this [hygee] qaulity.  one main component i've been looking for are bars with fireplaces, which was surprisingly hard to do.  however, it's not just fireplaces, it can also be candle light, comfortable seating and a general cozy atmosphere.  below i've listed all the bars i've found that have fireplaces and a few that were able to achieve [hygge] without them.

bars with fireplaces

ri ra - irish bar with several fireplaces throughout the restaurant with an overall cozy feel

boones fish house - large stone fireplace in the dining area

bull feeny's - another irish bar with several fireplaces... though i'm not sure if they actually work

liquid riot - a tad open to be cozy but it does have a working gas fireplace in the back corner

eve's at the garden - it's as comfy as a hotel bar can be, but there are a couple fireplaces to enjoy

honorable mention - no fireplaces but still cozy

bramhall pub - dark but with enough candles to make you think there is a working fireplace

flatbread - a little open but with large pizza ovens that warm the place up

the grill room - a nice pizza oven you feel the heat from if you sit at the cheifs table

the armory - no fireplace but it really does feel like it should have one.

the bearded ladys jewel box - candle light for a great atmosphere and a cozy balcony space to sit

little tap house - overall cozy feel with candle light on the tables and great poutine

maps - "down in the basement" type coziness

lfk - intimate nooks with comfortable seating and amazing hot toddy's

brian boru - there must be something about irish bars

this is not a complete list; there are probably other bars and restaurants which are perfect for a cold night.  these are merely the places i've been to and had that feeling of [hygge], hopefully i'll find more.  i hope everyone out there, no matter where you live, can find a great place to get together with friends this winter and enjoy some quality [hygge].

candle light at the bearded lady's jewell box

the nooks at lfk

fireplace at liquid riot

candles in the fireplace at bull feeny's

pizza oven at the grill room 

 fireplace at the portland harbor hotel

Sunday, January 28, 2018

year in pictures [2017]

year thirteen for the [year in pictures] post 

maybe i'm getting sentimental as i get older, but, as i follow my annual tradition of going through all the pictures i've taken the past year i couldn't help but notice more and more photos are of my friends and family, rather than landscapes and other objects.  if you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know i like to come up with a theme to go with the photos every year.  looking back at the images i picked, it would be easy to say "friends and family" but you know i would never settle for anything that simple.

there is a reason i was surrounded by so many friends and family this year; a lot of life events took place.  i started the year as a single guy and by the end of it i was married and an uncle!  there's something about those two events that will make you feel like an adult...basically i did a lot of [adulting] this year.

[adulting] can suck.  jokingly, it usually means paying bills, doing taxes or having to spend lots of money on functional items like dishwashers or tires instead of a trip to cancun.  [adulting] also means having to face tough situations and bad news in your life or in the lives of those you love.  [adulting] also means you are now tasked with taking those bad situations and making the best of them.

not gonna lie, [adulting] can be pretty shitty sometimes,

but it can also be wonderful.

because [adulting] is also caring about someone more than yourself.
[adulting] is placing the needs of your wife, husband or partner before yours.
[adulting] is providing for your children, niece or nephew.
[adulting] is caring for your family and friends.

so, with everything that went on in my life, you could say this was a year of [adulting].  thankfully though, i'm not doing it alone.  i have family and friends out there [adulting] as well, helping me through the bad times and celebrating the good times.

i hope you enjoy looking back through the [adulting] year of 2017 


my first new year in my new home of portland, maine.  i took this picture right as an incoming snowstorm was approaching.  i love how you can see the beacon through the storm.  there's a simile about [adulting] in there somewhere but it's even too cliche for me.  let's just say, it seemed like a perfect picture to represent a new year.


there is something about a fire that brings people together.  maybe it's buried deep within our dna from way back when we all lived in caves, or possibly people just enjoy the warmth.  either way, it seems impossible to be in a bad mood while standing around a fire.  this spring, i was invited to enjoy a bonfire out in the "country." not only was the night spent making new friends, but, it reminded me of kansas (which in a weird way made maine feel more like home).


a random photo taken very late during the night of my bachelor party. it was a chance to hang with some of my best friends and basically take a night off from [adulting].


the "june bucket" tradition continued another year, with a few veterans and a lot of rookies.  holding true to form, the june bucket fostered new friendships, provided several new stories and was a perfect way to start the summer season.


nothing makes you feel more like [adulting] than getting marred.  in front of family and friends, i went from being single to a married man.  i also went from caring about me to caring about her first.  they make you repeat a lot of words during your vows, but, it basically comes down to:
"will you take care of her no matter what?"

 i will.  


i met these guys in architecture school right on the cusp of adulthood.  not only did they help me get through my studio projects and assignments, but they helped make college a memorable time filled with a thousand and one stories i still tell today.  i'm who i am today because of these guys. a close knit group of friends who stick together over many years is a wonderful thing.  it's been great watching them go from classmates, to drinking buddies, to husbands, to fathers....or what you might simply say is...become [adults].


i studied the gropius house while in architecture school and had one of the more memorable critiques i've had in my life because of it.  last summer i had a chance to visit the house in person.  this building and the critique, helped me better understand architecture and it was great to pay homage to it.  it was a reflective moment in time where "college" me interacted with [adult] me.

(also, there's no way i could have done this post and not included at least one architecture photo)


if getting married didn't make me feel enough like an [adult] this year, i also became an uncle.  it was unreal. i got to hold the next generation of our family in my arms.  i was holding someone who will be here longer than i will be and will hopefully carry on a few of our crazy family traditions.  however, it wasn't just holding my niece that was so heartwarming that night; it was also watching my sister and brother-in-law as parents taking care of this wonderful new life.  


in november, my friends and i, gathered back in wichita for the wedding celebrations of one our closest friends.  between the ceremony and the reception, we were able to hang out for a couple of hours at one of our old bars. a place you could have found us at a decade ago.  now, in all different stages of [adulting] but still laughing and joking like the old times.


we had two new official members of our family in the annual christmas selfie this year, my wife and my niece.  after many years as a family of four, we're now a family of seven.  i love this picture because it shows the people i care about most in my life.  [adulting] at its finest.