Sunday, May 20, 2018

the [hunt] is on

after two years of renting a house, my wife and i are currently in the process of looking to buy.  if you take what we want in the house, factor in what we can afford and cross that with what's actually on the market, there's basically nothing out there.  every house forces us to look at our priorties and really dig into what we want out of a house....which is fun to do a couple of times, but after every single house, it can be a tad exhausting. 

please don't get me wrong, i'm very grateful that my wife and i have jobs and are even in the position to look for a house.  i'm just saying that like other moments in life,  this has been a frustrating process.  so as we check out house after house, weekend after weekend, i've come up with things i’d much rather go through other than house hunting in portland maine:


facebook’s terms of service

moving into my freshman year dorm

a root canal

the perfume department at any mall

the directors cut with commentary of “gigli”

paying for a seminar on toenail fungus

my taxes

yanni’s entire catalog

a new england winter


a plate of gas station sushi

drivers ed

my “frosted tips” phase

my “sweater vest” phase

any season of “the nanny”



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