{ Category Archives: maintenance }


ene aboard suddenly

Ene’s hat and scarf complement ‘Suddenly’s late 1970’s vintage.

Ene and I spent our first afternoon together aboard ‘Suddenly’, which Ene has been calling our ‘pied-a-mer’. It was a blustery day after a long overdue rainfall, so Ene sat in the cabin reading while I replaced the dock lines and installed a portable head. We picked a color for the cabin’s interior, aired out the damp seat cushions, and thought through the logistics of spending our first night on board next week, when we return from Denver after scoping out our Tsuru Project.

Thinking about cruising and spending time on board I’ve been enjoying reading one of my favorite books, ‘The Rudder Treasury: A Companion for Lovers of Small Craft’, a compilation of the best writing from The Rudder magazine, published from the late 1800’s until the late 1940’s. I especially love the recipes included and hope to modify a few to suit our tiny galley and weekend larder, which will combine canned and dry goods stowed on board with fresh ingredients we bring along. I look forward to developing a few signature dishes when we invite friends for a sail or just to hang out aboard ‘Suddenly’. If you have any ideas for elegant, one pot meals, please send them along. Meanwhile. here’s a sample recipe from The Rudder:

cocktail sauce

self portrait on boat

I found just the right necktie to leave on board for the inevitable emergency.

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stacking wood1

A barn full of beautiful wood, carefully laid up to dry, is better than money in the bank.

I’ve never really studied economic theory, but imagine there’s an odd relationship/kinship between miserliness and greed. Suffice it to say I learned firsthand over the past week how one might give way to the other, in predictable order.

In the course of single-handedly stacking over 1000 board feet of premium wood I had recently milled, aided only by gravity, levers and rolling bars, I loaded my barn and felt a sense of pride bordering on prosperity. I’ve never been interested in money or accumulation, but the simple act of loading the barn with my own hands shifted my perspective. My new pile of wood drying in the barn might as well be bars of gold, and will likely increase in value at an exponentially greater rate.

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A glimpse of the deck and cockpit of ‘Suddenly’, our 1978 Hunter 25 sailboat.

Suddenly is the name of our new sailboat, a 1978 Hunter 25 docked at a convenient slip in the Berkeley Marina. The boat is aptly named, for like so many things worth the wait, no matter how well-reasoned and researched the quest, the decision to take the plunge often happens quite suddenly. We’ll be using her as an urban extension of the wowhaus studio, as a family sailing lab for excursions on the Bay and into the Delta, a place to meet with friends and clients and as a tiny apartment for the occasional overnight.


The cabin is ample but minimal, and sleeps five in spartan comfort.

Most significantly, Suddenly will function as a kind of muse for the wowhaus studio and our ever-increasing range of work in art and design in the public sphere. As we continue to build out our studio compound on the rural Sonoma Coast, our over-lapping projects require a near constant flow of new ideas. Experience has taught us that in order to maintain focus and to keep things fresh and fun, sometimes innovation requires a muse.

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Reviving the Garden (+ a recipe)

ene gardening

Ene builds towers for her peas to climb.

With help from friends we’ve been reviving our vegetable garden over the past few weeks. It’s been about 5 years since we built the raised beds, and with the demands of projects and travel over the past couple of years, the garden has been sorely neglected. The grounds are now weeded, paths mulched, beds topped off with close to ten yards of compost, and Ene has been busy planting. By spring we’ll start to see lettuces, spinach, peas, strawberries, blueberries, asparagus and greens. Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy the bounty of kale that survived our neglect.


Kale and other cabbages thrive in the cool maritime climate of the Sonoma Coast.


Scott’s Sake Greens:

Pick and rinse a few handfuls of dino kale, collard or other leafy cabbage. Shake off most of the water. Remove the spines if they are too tough and chop the leaves into 1″ strips. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok over a medium-high flame and toss in the greens, mixing them constantly as they cook, about one minute. Salt the greens, add a little more oil and toss in a few cloves of finely chopped garlic. Continue mixing over a medium flame for another minute and sprinkle in a little chili pepper (I like nanami togarashi) and/or dried seaweed (I like nori komi furikake). Pour about a half cup of dry sake into the pan and deglaze it by mixing the ingredients with a large spoon or spatula. Add a little water if the greens seem too dry. Lower the heat, partially cover the greens and let them simmer a few more minutes until they are tender but retain their glossy green color. Serve as a side dish with rice and black-eyed peas or with grilled fish.

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Taking the Waters

calistoga sign2-sm

For the past several years, our preferred way to greet the New Year has been to indulge in a few days’ soak in the Calistoga hot springs at the tip of Napa Valley, just 30 miles east of the wowhaus studio on the other side of the Mayacamas Range. The annual ritual gives us a chance to recalibrate and slow down, modulating our body temperatures as we shift from pool to pool and follow the sun on its low arc across a clear winter sky. The days pass in pace with the conduction of heat and the evaporation of mineral-rich water, leaving us feeling like much simpler, happy organisms.

calistoga starlings1

calistoga rooftop2

calistoga rooftop1

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Stickered Table for Shed (process)


Two identical bases of green pecan, ready to receive the top, a giant slab of sycamore.

Whenever I design and make a new piece of furniture, I’m always keenly aware of how it will age, and how the piece might transform over time to encourage and support future, as yet unforeseeable patterns of use. I’ve been collecting choice local woods over the years, all neatly stickered in the barn, so my design process usually begins with rummaging through my piles for inspiration, making measurements and drawing directly onto the wood with white chalk. My primary criteria at this early stage is whether the piece of furniture I have in mind is the appropriate final destination for the wood- will it do the tree justice? I’ve always thought of my furniture as a way of extending the life of a tree, as a way of simultaneously storing and appreciating wood by putting it to good use; living daily life as an extension of making.

As I continue to collect and store local woods, and especially as I begin to mill trees myself, I’m becoming more attuned to the value of locally sourced, well-sawn, air-dried wood as a commodity. An increasingly scarce resource, fine wood is a good investment and increases dramatically in value, especially if it has the added cache of ecological responsibility, streaming from the urban forest, or as ‘horticultural salvage’. Because handmade furniture ultimately needs to compete in the marketplace with an increasingly sophisticated range of mass-market comparables, it can be challenging to offer a price point in proportion to the value of the material itself, which is a dilemma, even if the quality of the finished product is markedly higher. This is especially the case when ‘studio furniture’ needs first and foremost to meet rigorous functional, as well as aesthetic requirements.


I milled grooves into the stickers for better air flow and to allow for movement.

While my way of thinking about wood-as-commodity has lived quietly in the background of most of my furniture design to date, I’ve been wanting do make a new body of work where the concept is front and center, both in the process of making and in the process of using the furniture. To this end, I’m grateful to my friend Cindy Daniel, who commissioned a ‘Demonstration Table’ for Shed, her Healdsburg-based café/retail/community hub offering local foods, goods and quality wares. Shed is Cindy’s contemporary spin on the traditional country mercantile store, and I’ve enjoyed working with her over the past two years designing interior scenarios for the new building currently under construction, a large, open air metal structure designed by Mark Jensen.

sticker table sketch

My original thumbnail sketch for the Stickered Table

As much as my Demonstration Table for Shed will serve as a gathering place in the café, it doubles as a process piece for the duration of the enterprise, establishing a kind of invented tradition. The table’s base consists of two nearly identical stacks of green pecan wood I recently milled from a dying tree, neatly stickered to allow the wood to naturally air-dry. The table’s top, a massive slab of sycamore, rests on top of the two piles, acting as a gravity clamp to keep the material from cupping. I milled V-grooves into the stickers to allow for better air flow and to decrease friction as the boards inevitably shrink. After one year, when the stock is adequately dry, the top will be lifted and the material removed and converted into functional wares for Shed, either to be used in the café or sold as product to customers. This first batch will likely make small table tops for the Shed café, slated to open in October 2012.. The two bases will then be re-constructed, stacked from freshly milled wood each year, that will in turn be made into a small production run of whatever item surfaces in the course of its drying.


I typically shellac and wax the ends of boards to prevent undo checking.

I like the idea of adding an element of ‘crowd-sourcing’ to the design development of an annual product, taking advantage of a constant flow of people gathered around the table while the material slowly cures beneath. I also look forward to maintaining an ongoing relationship with Shed as a kind of artisan-in-residence, collaborating with Cindy to design products that exemplify the Shed ethos.

Please click here to see the table with the top installed.

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A September Ritual

barn roof

Each fall I sweep the dry duff off of our funky barn roof before the Dampness ensues

One of my September rituals has been clearing the corrugated roof of our funky back barn. The rambling, open-air structure is an explosion of three dissimilar building concepts, fused together with the oddball valleys and warped pitches of an under-planned roofline, one that collects piles of fallen duff of the redwood trees overhead each year. Though it’s a bit of an eyesore to most sensibilities, the building is structurally sound, and I’ve enjoyed studying it over the years whenever I clear the roof during the dry season, thinking about how best to put the barn to good use before the Dampness ensues until the next spring. I’ve learned to appreciate the improvised mess of its design with the same happy reluctance I reserve for the work of Frank Gehry.

The barn’s deceptively vast interior spaces are multi-functional and well-suited to our needs: a portion of the building is where I store paints and hardware, metal-working tools and surplus gear; a portion houses one of our wells; a portion we use as an annex to our sculpture studio; a portion is to store large equipment, a boat and other materials. Over the summer I’ve been trying to clear space inside to better support the increasing scope of our wowhaus projects. We recently sold our broken down McCormick-Deering tractor, which got me thinking about using the barn as a drying shed for the wood I’m about to have milled from our land. In conjunction with my new woodshop and a related body of work I have in development, I plan to source and mill more of my own logs, and have just enough room in the barn to air-dry a few thousand board feet. This spring I plan to build a solar kiln for a final kiss of dry heat.

redwoods above

Taking a break from the work, I lie on my back on the roof and stare up into the redwoods

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