Archive for March, 2012

Greene & Greene Furniture: Poems of Wood & Light – by David Mathias

My favorite furniture style is Craftsman, but sometimes it can be a bit too stark and blocky for my tastes. That refers mostly to the Stickley and Roycroft designs. The Craftsman styles that originated in England tend to be more decorative than I prefer (though not always). Designs by Frank Lloyd Wright fit my sense of style better. And then there is Greene & Greene.

If you are unfamiliar with Greene & Greene, you owe it to yourself to see their work. If you don’t live in California and don’t have access to their work in “real life,” then a book like this is a great alternative. There are several books available about Greene & Greene and each one seems to add to the collective knowledge rather than replace any other reference. In this case, author David Mathias has provided many photographs showing design details which I have not seen elsewhere. Also included in this book are reproductions of some of the Greenes’ original drawings; something which sheds additional light on the architects’ design process.

The text in the book details the influences on the Greenes’ work, as well as the effect the local geography and climate had on their designs. There is also an examination of the various design elements that the Greenes used and how they were implemented in different houses. The text and photos complement each other well.

The element of the Greenes’ designs that attracts me most are the rounded and eased edges. Everything they designed has, to my mind, a sensuous quality to it. If I were to walk into a Greene & Greene designed house full of their furniture, I would probably want to touch everything I saw. The designs practically invite that kind of intimacy.

For a good grounding in Greene & Greene design, this book is a good place to start. In truth, it is complete enough that you could finish with the book, too, and still have an excellent understanding of the Greene & Greene style.

(Finished 3/29/12)

whither spring?

It’s the day after the first day of spring and I just finished cutting my lawn. Unless I am very mistaken, I do not believe that I have ever had to cut my lawn in March. Not only did I cut my lawn, but I could have been doing it in shorts (if I had wanted to gross out the neighbors). What’s up with that?

My snowblower ran once, maybe twice, this last “winter,” and both times the only reason I bothered was because it was so wet that if it froze it would have been a real mess, so I cleared it away before it could freeze. I have a whole gas can of two-cycle fuel all mixed with nowhere to go. I guess I’ll be burning a little oil in my car.

I usually get a bit tired of cutting my lawn by about the middle of the summer, when it gratefully tends to go brown and dormant. I think I may have a longer lawn cutting season this year, unless these temps really go crazy and the lawn is dead by June, in which case I’m moving north – far north.

It was nice to get the exercise. Not so easy with these old knees, but I can hobble enough to push the mower. Of course, then I had to use the leaf blower to blow all the tree catkins that have messed up the driveway, and then clean the birdbath out (yeah, I put that out last weekend – go figure) and fill one of the feeders. Nice to sit down here again.

So begins the ritual of lawncare.

returning to my riding youth?

I’m ashamed and disgusted with how out of shape I am. I just finished washing and drying about a week’s worth of dishes and I am sweating like I just ran a 5K. There are quicker, easier and less painful ways to kill myself than overeating, being slothful and living in stress. Of course, it always seems to be my way to take the easy route (though some might question my definition of “easy”), so I just get through each day doing the bare minimum to stay alive. It would take too much planning and effort to off myself.

I ran into my buddy Stan this morning. He was out for his morning run and I stopped and talked to him while I was traveling in the car from Burger King to my favorite breakfast spot. He’s got at least ten years on me but is in at least ten times better shape than I am. He’s got a hip problem that makes it hard for him to sit for more than five minutes, but he says that’s ok because he can walk and stand just fine and has plenty to do to keep busy. On the other hand, I have knee issues that make it hard for me to stand or walk for any length of time, but I have no problem sitting for hours on end. Is it any wonder he is in much better condition?

I’ve been thinking about buying a Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle. I tried getting on my two-wheel bike the other day and with my knees I just cannot lift one leg up over the middle bar while trying to hold myself up with the other leg. I’m also afraid that if I have to dismount the bike suddenly that my knee will give and potentially throw me into the path of harm. I decided two wheels was not the way to go right now. A tricycle though?

It sounds like a good solution for getting me outside and active. However, I do have one small shred of vanity left, and the idea that “old” people use these bikes has me saying, “Hey, I’m not that old yet!” Well, maybe, maybe not, but I am certainly in the same physical condition as an eighty-year-old man, so I should just face facts and deal with it.

I think a trike would work for me. It is only a one-speed bike, which could make it harder to ride. (Yes, I know there are other trikes with more than one speed, but they are either more expensive or have features I don’t like.) Then again, the land around here is pretty flat and if I am putting out some effort to ride the bike that means I’m actually burning calories. I like the idea of not relying on my knees to balance me or keep me from falling. I am not 100% sure that my knees won’t hurt while riding, but it’s a whole lot less weight bearing activity than walking or running, so I’m hopeful.

At just a little less than $300 it’s a bit of an investment, and a downright silly purchase if I don’t use the thing. I waffle back and forth whether I should take the plunge. The nice weather we have been having has been helping to convince me that being active outside would be a good idea. Maybe I’ll overcome my dread of being the “old fart on a trike” that people have to avoid running over, and get the trike. Then again, maybe not.

waiting for results

About a year ago my doctor found something that he was concerned about but after a couple of tests he decided it was most likely not a problem. Just to be sure, though, he wanted me to have the test again a year later to make sure nothing had changed. I had that test yesterday.

This morning when I got into work I noticed there was a message on my phone. It was the doctor’s office wanting me to call them for the results. They had actually called the day before and left the message. That was pretty damn quick! So, what does that mean? Is it good or bad? Want to guess whether this started to jangle my nerves or not?

I had no expectation that things should have gone south within a year, but just recently two people I know have been diagnosed with cancer and given a prognosis of less than a year to live. When you have such up-close examples of people suddenly discovering that their time is limited on this earth, it starts you thinking. Waiting for the doctor’s office to open so that I could call them had me sitting on the edge of my chair, even though I didn’t think I had anything to worry about.

As time passed, I got even more nervous. The older you get, the more likely it seems that test results are going to be bad. You almost hate to get a test done. Yeah, they say that knowing is better than not knowing, but sometimes I wonder if blissful ignorance doesn’t have some benefit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I would rather die suddenly than to go through years of crappy living while undergoing treatment for a disease that is going to get me in the end anyways.

After worrying myself into a minor panic, I finally was able to call the doctor’s office. The results? The nurse says the doctor wanted me to know that nothing had changed and that it is pretty much nothing to worry about. No further tests needed.

I felt a wave of relief – an actual physical change, as well as mental relief. Whew! I felt like I dodged a bullet even though I didn’t really have a good reason to think the gun was even loaded. Happy to have received good news, I can’t help but think about what I should be doing to make bad test results less likely in the future. Thinking and acting, however, are two different things.