Travels & Other Stories

StoneHouse Artifacts

A House from India: Chapter 1, “beginnings” (Dec. 2017)

For years now friends and family have said that I must put down in writing the story of our home, ‘StoneHouse’, so that it’s not lost to time and memory. I’ve designed and built many homes over the years, mostly by myself with very few sub-contractors being involved. I like it this way as I would get really bored if I was only lining ‘subs’ up on the phone or just being a framer or finish carpenter. Just about when I’m tired of carrying and cleaning concrete panels the lumber arrives and the excitement begins of actually creating the home to be. Each piece to be measured and cut, the air filled with the fragrance of new wood. But, a month of carrying, nailing and climbing up and down is enough….

StoneHouse Artifacts

A House from India: Chapter 2, “burning down the house” (Dec. 2017)

With 10 acres of work ahead of us, how to begin?  Sometime in the past 60 years the trees on this property grew and were neglected ending up now looking like a forest scene from ‘Hansel & Gretel’.  Beneath many of these trees were piles of debris: carpets and padding over here under the cedar, glass and old window sashes over there by the fir, tires in back with the alders.  Seeming to be be in some unknown pattern. Tearing down the old shop building, finally the answer was found. In a corner, an old sign for the roadside bearing, “Let us organize your life”. Remembering the numerous and diverse piles these trees held we had to have to laugh at the absurdity of this.
With the debris finally gone now what to do with the structures?

Tamil Nadu Temple

A House from India: Chapter 3, India (Dec. 2017)

India, Incredible India! That’s what they say in the ads and it’s true. Day two the scene: dawn breaking on a local bus heading to Pondicherry, crowded in and tired from months of traveling through Asia. Lydia has always wanted to visit this country and even though we have traveled extensively for years in S.E. Asia, we’ve never up till now. Years earlier we we were in J.H. Terry Gallery (Jon & Eva, now friends) in Seattle that carried the most interesting pieces from India and what amazed me most as a builder was the pillars that they had. So now, looking thru the fogged up windows on the bus what am I seeing but shop after shop along the road with old pillars piled out front. OK, now i’m excited and as soon as we settle in were off to find the perfect ones for our new home to be…

Carving the granite fireplace

A House from India: Chapter 4, India (part 2) (Dec. 2017)

It’s now  2009 and another year has past and the doors we had built last year are still not finished so back we go to India. Twenty two doors are a lot of work but not a whole year… okay more money needed and work progresses. This time it’s Lydia that gets sick and for almost a week she’s laid up in bed at our friend Becky’s who is also sick.  I’m not very good a hanging around and playing nurse so I’m off every day on my bicycle heading out the ECR (East Coast Road – the main road in this part of India) to wander the junk shops that line either side of the highway. If you’ve ever been in the traffic of India you’ll understand, now put yourself on bicyle in this heat and chaos. Bus horns blasting, cows crossing, it’s all happening, I love it.

The Kodaikanal home

A House from India: Chapter 5, The Inspiration (Dec. 2017)

While continuing to find new pieces, the design of the house we were to build needed to keep evolving.  Each antique we found would entail more scratching out sketches on napkins and envelopes with the changes. It’s fun today finding these scraps, knowing how it’s all turned out.  Through all this we had to follow the well worn custom of having ‘cocktail hour’ each day to help ease a day of adventuring, taking time to dream of how it was all going to come together one day.
But I digress, all this began in Yangon…

Setting the pillars for Stone House

A House from India: Chapter 6, Building it.., (Coming soon)

Coming soon, the story of the container arriving in America and the construction of our home…

Lydia rickshaw

Buying in India        (February 2015)

O.K., jump right in…we’re back. Chaos starts upon leaving the airport, and we love it. iPad out. Does the rick-shaw driver understand the map I’m showing? Never fear, we arrive and begin the hunt once again. Dark, hot, dusty warehouses. Exploring wonderful galleries with a cold drink, meeting old friends and new. Always the sense that something special will soon show itself if you look deep enough.
Hot rickshaw rides after a tiring day. How after awhile it all flows and you become part of the rhythm. Another bus, another train. You arrive, take your hot tea on the street in in the predawn. Oh India! It get’s in your blood.

Train to Myitkyina

Night train in Myanmar        (January 2015)

Myanmar, an amazing country. For many years we avoided taking trains, hearing that they were slowest of all means of travel. Thus we were apprehensive of the thought of spending 22 hours or more on an overnight journey. The reality proved far more enjoyable. In our own cabin with the window open, we watched night falling, people cooking over fires, faces lit in the dark. We never went faster than the speed of a bicycle ride. You see, Myanmar trains have a distinct rhythm and they rock side to side.  Once you get your ‘sea legs’ sleep comes deep. Falling stars shining bright in the heavens is your last thought as the sound of the train carries you into a new day and new lands.

Inle Fisherman

Lotus Fabric In, Myanmar     (January 2015)

Nyuang Shwe is the largest village on Inle lake, which is in the Shan state of Myanmar. For many years we have been coming to to this remarkable place, enduring many a long dusty bus ride in the ‘old’ days. Today much has changed but the culture and spirit of the people remain mostly untouched. Our very good friends, whom we fondly call our Myanmar family: Ma Sue, Ka Myo and Ma Too, have introduced us to some of the original Lotus weavers of Inle. Out in the middle of the lake is a village built on stilts where the sound of the weaver’s shuttle echoes out across the waters. It is an area where even the vegetable gardens are floating, anchored to the lake bottom by bamboo poles. Much of the weaving done is of silk, but there are a few who create fabric of the local Lotus plants. The Lotus is harvested by canoe. It is stripped of it’s stem, broken in two and the inside fibers are extracted.  Rolled together by hand, the fibers are then woven into a rare and costly fabric. One large scarf is said to contain over 1,000 Lotus stems and countless hours of work. We are pleased to have found such a source to able to provide these wonderful scarves. Imagine wearing a thousand beautiful Lotuses around your neck from such an exotic land.