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April 30, 2006


After four straight weekends of junk removal, we finally started constructing this weekend. The work was neither glamorous nor particularly satisfying to behold, but there was something deeply gratifying about actually doing it. Our task was to address the problem of the drafty front wall of the barn, which is nothing more than barn board nailed up against rafters. Sunlight and rain could pour through at will. As could heat and cold.

We started by nailing these two boards across the most conspicuous gaps. This required nailing straight up into the board below the sill. It was an awkward way to swing a hammer, and I ruined two nails before I got the hang of it.

Then Bob used caulk to made a seal between each board.

Then came the tarpaper. Robbi measured and cut (she's the careful one) and I attached them using the staple gun (I'm the reckless one, who should not be trusted with the staple gun).

There were some high and hard-to-reach sections of the wall. Robbi tried to place a big sheet of tarpaper in a section behind a horizontal beam but got frustrated and started swearing. So I tried.

It was frustrating. But I dug down deep and found a formerly inaccessible region of patience. Which I tapped, somehow, and somehow got the sheet of tarpaper to fit. And so on for the other five high and hard-to-reach sections. The rare patience continued to guide me. I hardly knew myself. It was deeply gratifying.

And useful from a home-insulation standpoint.

See how the wind can no longer whip through our wall with impunity?

Iggy was not impressed.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:38 PM


We drove over to Chestertown Friday night just in time to catch Metropolitan at the college. It's a movie about the New York deb scene that I first saw back in high school. I remember loving it then, mostly for the dialogue and the characters. Seeing it again I realized how many jokes I must have missed the first time around. I didn't know then about Brook Farm or the Hamptons or what a debutante even was. I was just fascinated at the idea of people not much older than me sitting around in tuxedos talking like that. The director was there, and we talked to him afterward. He seemed like a nice guy. He spoke a bit about making the film on a tight budget, and concieving of the project at every stage in terms of the limitations of production. They had no crane for fancy camera movement. They had simple cameras. Unknown actors. Little experience. I think that much of the movie's charm comes from these limitations. It is quiet and naive but also successful in setting a tone and painting some wonderful characters.

We hadn't had time for dinner before the movie. Back at the house after, Seiko made us cold noodles with nori and memmi. Then Robbi and I took a walk by the water. There has been recent construction in the park where we like to walk at night. Huge piles of dirt and a new bulkhead and we worried that they were going to build more houses. To our relief, they now seem to be putting the walking path back in. New houses would ruin what is best about the park: the quiet, the dark, the ability to sit on the benches there and listen to the water lapping against the bulkhead, the ropes on the boats slapping against the masts, the metal rings of the rigging singing as they collide, the barely perceptible sound of cars sliding across the Chester River Bridge a half mile away. The park is our back yard, just a few blocks from the barn, and we have it to ourselves every night. We sit on a bench and Iggy races around like mad, sniffing in the cattails by the water's edge.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:05 AM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2006

Sunday Night

I'll keep this short, because the good stuff is below. The final push took some doing (and some frantic machinations while Bob and Robbi were taking naps on Saturday afternoon). Bob, in all his wisdom, is somewhat plodding when it comes to making decisions, espeically about the fate of ancient treasures. And I can sympathize with agonizing over whether to send an old tire rim to the dump or to the auction after having given it shelter for the better part of three decades. I sympathize because I have the same problem when it comes to things.

We noticed this weekend that the space seemed smaller when empty. Somehow the clutter had created a sense of endless expanse. Pacing out the dimensions of my new home, I realized that we would have to get rid of more pieces of furniture than we had originally imagined. And of more of the "things" that fill in the spaces.

In recent weeks I have been making bold proclamations to Robbi about how I am going to "throw it all away" when the time comes to move. Those who know me well (my poor father has had to suffer storing the boxes of childhood legos, playmobil, and star wars figurines I have been unwilling to part with all these years) will be surprised by this attitude. Has he turned a new leaf, they might be asking? Alas, I know that when the time comes to make the hard decisions about my lifetime of accumulated belongings, I will break down in sheer panic at the idea of parting with a single treasure. All of them are tied to memories. I'm so bad at remembering, I need these physical anchors.

But the limits of space will impose a discipline. I'll just need to take a nap one afternoon and have Robbi and Bob make the hard decisions for me. I'll wake up in the aftermath and look at my newly pruned existence. It's a liberating thought.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:49 PM

Phase One - COMPLETE!

You're not going to believe this (especially maiko and roji aren't) - but...
IT'S EMPTY! We got it all cleaned out this weekend. There's an enoourruoumous load of stuff to go to the dump (thanks, uncle ken!) and another batch of things to go to the auction - though the first auction haul surprised us with a whopping $105 return, the second (which we thought had a lot better stuff in it) disappointed with a meager $45, and we know for sure this last lot is by far the worst (anybody want some old rusty tires?)... I've got my guess at $15, and matthew is even less optimistic at 32 cents. But, I guess that will buy us a tenth of a gallon of gas, which - yeah, ain't much.

The camera does funny things, so remember, we're looking at 43'x19'. It will certainly be cozy.

In the absence of Oscar and Lily (they won't lower themselves to travelling just for the weekend) Matthew and Iggy took some time out to see whether cat circus would be possible in the center of the room.

I think we'll have to get rid of 1/3 of our furniture for it to really be worth the cats investing any of their time in it.

One very happy thing I noticed as I was taking pictures is the nice view of the street we have. The windows are nice and low, so Iggy can look enviously out on the million-dollar house across from us, that has fine landscaping, copper roofing, and walk-out skylights. She fairly drools. She is a dog of aristocratic bearing, after all.

Posted by ribbu at 09:03 PM

April 21, 2006

Things I Will Miss

As excited as we are to be making this move to our barnspace, we will also be very sad to leave the home we have come to love. The thing I will miss the most are my walks in Robert E. Lee park with friends and dogs and occasionally matthew. I am sad that Iggy will no longer have access to the excellent learning resources a large city can provide - she has become dependent on Ruby in learning how to navigate the big bad world of dogs.

For instance, she has learned from Ruby how to fetch a stick that has been thrown into the water:

Step 1: Swim out in the water to retrieve said stick:

Step 2: Swim in the opposite direction to bring said stick to shore:

Step 3: Steal the stick from the dumb dog who just did all that swimming:

Iggy has also been schooled in all kinds of ninja escape moves by the master Rubbler:

But most of all, she's learned that looks will get you far in this world. Ruby, you see, used her wily ways to get herself out of the pound. Talk about star power! Show them your pearly whites, Iggy, and give them some SPARKLE!

Posted by ribbu at 09:40 PM

April 20, 2006

Bringing Home the Bacon

In reference to my meager salary, Christian quipped:

"Bacon is bacon. And it is always good."

mm. bacon.

Posted by ribbu at 09:52 PM | Comments (6)


So, in part, because of Steve, we have been shamed into considering a different scenario for our space. We are thinking that maybe we'll insulate the whole area with the bedroom closed off. Mom has to access the Florabana storage space every now and then, the door of which is right next to the "kitchen" space on the plans below. I don't think she liked the idea of having to walk through our bedroom, where matthew might be walking around naked or something (really, the horror). Or me, for that matter. Closing off the bedroom also makes it easier to keep cool in the summer. Matthew can't sleep unless conditions are absolutely perfect: not too hot, not too clammy, not too light, not too loud (not loud at all, actually), not too cramped, not too close to me, not without 5 pillows (ideally, 7). Having the air conditioner two feet away from his face ought to help. We will have to invest in more earplugs, though.

Posted by ribbu at 09:33 PM | Comments (9)

April 19, 2006

[Gainfully?] Employed!

Well, I just got an official job offer to teach at Washington College. I will be a guest lecturer. Doesn't that sound nice? It makes it sound like I will have my own monogrammed towels hanging in the bathroom, bonbons on my pillow every night, and underwear that gets folded and ironed by someone with gentle, caring hands.

In reality, it means I get a pretty embarrassing amount of money (embarrassing small, not embarrassing big) but I'm in no position to complain, as I will be getting some good college teaching experience in, and have wangled matthew free entry to the facilities (not just toilets! ...library! gym! pool!). So, I'm pretty excited.

You will never believe what I am teaching, though.

Digital Imaging. Frankly, I wasn't even sure what that meant. After some quick google research, it apparently means just about anything you do on a computer. The current curriculum covers photoshop, a tiny unit on powerpoint, and imovie. It sounds like I have free reign, so I'm probably going to do photoshop, illustrator, and a short intro to indesign. I guess it sort of depends on the students. imovie isn't cross-platform, so I'm not sure if I would want to teach it because of its not-very-usefulness (if people really want to do video editing, shouldn't it be in FinalCut or something like that?), except that there is a media lab that a lot of the students are getting involved in where they make video shorts, and since there's no film class, the digital imaging class is the only place it can happen in the curriculum. This aside from the fact, of course, that I've never actually had any film/video theory or anything. We'll see. I'm still pondering. I have a lot of work to do over the summer, though. Refresher in photoshop, if nothing else. Luckily, much like in quantum physics, no one can ever know everything about photoshop, so I'm not too worried. So, maybe I should apply for a position in quantum physics, too.

Posted by ribbu at 09:44 AM | Comments (3)

April 16, 2006


Boy, did we have a busy weekend. We had the good fortune to have Good Friday off (this makes it Especially Good Friday), so headed over to C-town to get some good work in. We spent pretty much all of Friday cleaning up - a good deal of time pulling nails out of old boards (that we will cut down and use for firewood) and the walls (someone went crazy with the old hammer in this joint!), and some shuffling around of things. I spent some time boxing up some of mom's vintage pottery she's held onto from the early years. As much as what she does involves a lot of repetition - reworking the same forms again and again, creating smaller or bigger versions of a successful form - it's amazing to see that progress is nevertheless made. A lot of these earlier versions of things look stiff and unsure compared to their more organic progeny. It was like looking through an old yearbook. While I skipped down memory lane, Matthew swept and cleaned and pulled nails like a champ.

Friday night we went to see a free movie up at the college (a definite perk of living in c-town that we will take full advantage of) - a german movie called The Edukators. It was quite good, though I disagree with the imdb reviewer inasmuch as I think that there really was quite a bit of idealistic dogma being bandied about. But I guess that's what idealists do. I really enjoyed it in spite of that, though, but that might in part be due to the fact that I haven't seen a movie in about 6 months.

Saturday there was more pugging to be done while I tinkered around upstairs. There was an old set of built-in shelves that dad had been using to store all kinds of jars of old nails and screws and bolts and miscellaneous hardware, and even though I was so tempted to throw everything out in a big garbage bag and pretend I had never seen it all, I went through and consolidated and only threw out the rusty and bent ones (which ended up being quite a lot). That actually took a lot of time, and when I was done, Matthew was delighted to be able to go up and smash the shelves all to bits. He's the big picture guy.

In the end, we were able to separate the remaining detritus into two piles: one for items headed to the auction, the other for things that mom and dad still need to sort through. This left a nice patch of floor open for us to delight over.

Matthew pulling nails. They are sticking out of everywhere.

Matthew contemplating his next bold move.

Not the next bold move, but the one after that. It involved a moth-eaten overcoat and some badass rapping.

Ah. The floor.

Matthew made dinner for us all (mm, lasagna) and we actually had time for one of our old run/bike rides (Matthew runs while I bike ride) - I hadn't come prepared for good clean exercise, so had to borrow one of mom's (way too small) tank tops and her teeny tennis shoes (blue), a pair of Roji's old shorts (green drawstring long shorts), and mom's bike, which is a ridiculous kid's bike (black, with red flames) because she was too small for the nice cruiser we tried to get her. I felt like a clown riding it, partly because my knees came up to my ears when I pedaled, and partly because of aforementioned getup. I didn't feel so bad, though, because Matthew was wearing a pair of Roji's old lacrosse shorts (so old and nylony they were pretty much see-through and eep! too tight!) over a pair of his old boxers (light blue with little surfing penguins or something on them). Lucky for us, we have only each other to impress.

Posted by ribbu at 06:21 PM | Comments (1)

Orientation Schematics

After receiving various messages/comments regarding the actual nature of THE BARN, I have decided that it has become neccessary to include a basic breakdown of things for those of you who have never actually seen the barn (or heard of it before reading this here blog). And thusly:

Now, I understand that all of these exploding rooms might not really make anything that much clearer, but at least you see what sorts of rooms we are dealing with. For some photographic reference:

the CLAY ROOM for drying greenware

the KILN ROOM (with some extra junk in the foreground that is going to auction this week)

Seiko's GALLERY (from the outside, because she actually had some customers on the inside when we were trying to take pictures)(damn them, customers!)

FLORABANA, the booth that we have at the Philadelphia Flower Show. Look at all that stuff. We sell some of mom's pottery, but then a whole bunch of other stuff - if you look closely, you can see the glazed looks in Roji's and Dad's eyes. That's from trying to keep track of too much stuff.

Seiko's STUDIO, though this is really only half of it.
A. slabroller, to roll out pieces of clay at the push of a button
B. electric extruder, to extrude tubes of clay at the push of a button
C. hand extruder, to extrude tubes of clay at the crack of a whip (read: Dad-powered)
D. air filter, to keep us from having dusty boogers
E. windows to gallery area
F. tubs full of recently pugged clay
G. big doofus
H. little doofus

Posted by ribbu at 05:44 PM

We Have a Winner

Sorry all. You can put away your copies of Audubon. The mystery has been solved. Our pal Christian actually knew that this strange green creature was none other than the mysterious Luna Moth, but consulted Google to be sure.

Though common along the Eastern seaboard, Luna Moths are rarely seen due to their nocturnal tendencies. The one we saw was obviously confused. Also, they only live about a week as adults. Perhaps we were bothering the poor fellow in his death throes.

If you see Christian, be sure to treat him with the reverence and respect of which he has just proven himself most worthy. And see if he'll give you his prize sub. He claims to be uninterested in eating at any restaurant frequented by Luna Moths.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:16 AM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2006

Something New at Subway

Friday morning Bob was fired up to pug clay. Perhaps it was the early hour, but I made an ungracious comment, something like, "Oh god, not more pugging." I recovered, expressed my eagerness/willingness to pug, and off we headed for the barn. Then, as if sent from on high, the oven delivery man arrived with the new oven and discovered that an ambigious squirrel had been stockpiling peanuts behind the old oven. The situation required Bob's attention, and so our pugging was delayed. For a while.

So Robbi and I cleaned the barn, spending most of the morning removing old nails from old boards. Suddenly it was nearly 2:00 and my need for food was clear. We headed for Subway. At Subway we got subs. Robbi went through the line first and was not asked if she wanted her sub to be toasted. I went through second and was asked. Of course I said yes. Who does not want his sub toasted? Robbi was angry. A misplaced anger, directed at me instead of at the clerk who did not offer.

As we were leaving the Subway, Robbi saw THIS attached to one of the outside windows:

We are offering a prize, a toasted footlong sub prepared by a Subway sandwich artist, to anyone who can correctly identify this incredible creature. Something tells me that it is the missing link that entomologists have been trying to locate for generations. Perhaps we should have put it in a box and taken it to the Smithsonian. But it was so beautiful and bewildered-looking, clinging to the outside of the Subway. Or perhaps it's a rather normal sort of insect and I'm the sucker. But maybe not.

The prize is real. The catch: the winner must redeem it at the Chestertown Subway.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:28 PM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2006

Bee Babies

Tonight we arrived in Chestertown and sat at the kitchen table with Bob and Sekio as they were finishing dinner. Bob shared his cake, the gift of one of Seiko's longtime Ikebana classmates, and we ate it and drank tea while Seiko told us the story of eating "bee babies" while growing up in Japan after the war.

Bob and Seiko's friend Heidi, with whom we had dinner two weeks ago, makes custom art clothing. High end hand-made garments, often in silk. One of her customers was unable to wear silk, apparently, being allergic not to the silk itself but to a starch secreted by the silkworm in producing the filament. The customer also spoke of an aversion to the smell of silk.

As Heidi was relaying the story of her customer, Seiko was reminded of the smell from her youth, the oily sour smell of silkworms.

There is a Japanese delicacy (the name of which I cannot now remember, but the literal translation of which is "bee babies") that consists of sauteed bee larve. Prepared, they are crunchy and served hot. Once when Bob and Seiko were traveling in Japan as adults and arrived unexpected at an inn in some town, they were served bee babies as a special acknowledgment of their honorable visitor status. Eating the bee babies then, and enjoying them, Seiko realized that she had been misled in youth.

Her grandmother had served bee babies regularly when Seiko was a child. Knowing them to be a delicacy, Seiko tolerated them, in spite of their bad smell and unpleasant texture. In addition to being a special treat, she was told, they were good for her health, an important source of protein when meat was scarce.

What Seiko's grandmother had called bee babies were, in fact, dead silkworms, soaked and reconstituted, treated with soy sauce and sake, and sauteed with ginger to mask the pungent smell. The silkworms were found at the core of every cocoon unwound carefully to extract the precious thread sold for extra money or used to make garments. They tasted terrible but they did represent an important source nourishment. Calling them bee babies was a way of putting a positive face on an unavoidable circumstance, and a means of inducing willful children to do what was the best for themselves in a difficult time.

I have heard so many wonderful stories from Bob and Seiko both over the years. It's time to start writing them down.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:58 PM | Comments (1)

April 12, 2006


We've talked about the "where" and "what" with allusions to the "how" and "with whom." But we haven't really gotten to the essence of why we are storming this barn. And so I'll do my best to explain. Briefly. I notice that my entries are somewhat long-winded. And lacking photos. I need to get Robbi to show me how to add the photos.

We are moving to Chestertown because:

-we want Robbi to have the time to establish herself as an illustrator
-we want me to have time to write stories and, eventually, to get into an MFA program
-we want to have time to produce books together
-we want to have time to read all of the back issues of McSweeny's, Believer, and The New Yorker that are waiting on our shelves. And time for other reading: books and blogs
-we want to help Bob and Seiko with things, to make their lives easer
-we want to live closer to Bob and Seiko because it sounds like a nice way to live
-we want to have time to write letters again (I must write to my grandparents, for example)
-we want to get out of the city
-we want to be able to go to Alaska together in the summers and to the Flower Show together in March
-we want to be less stressed out all the time
-we want to be less tired all the time

There are other reasons, of course. There are thousands of reasons why this is the right thing for us to do. But perhaps these are the main ones. Robbi, am I missing anything?

Posted by bogenamp at 08:11 PM | Comments (2)


It has been gratifying in recent days to learn of the expanding readership of theBarnstorming. We are pleased that others are interested in this project of ours and that some have even taken the time to "comment." Not wanting to take for granted the technological savvy of our readers, I will take a moment to note that anyone who feels compelled to respond to an entry may do so by clicking on "comments," which is in grey just below, with the number of said "comments" in parentheses just after. We received three such comments yesterday:

Steve was apoplectic at the thought of us resorting to the drop ceiling option. How would we have known of his earnest feelings had he not written a comment? Katrinka wanted to let me know that "someone is reading," and from this comment I was filled with a great, sweeping joy. Ming ranted on about nothing and everything. This was also welcome! Join the conversation and tell us what you really think. We're ready for your best shot.

Mean comments about our dog, while permissible, will be viewed as a sign of bad breeding.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:18 AM | Comments (5)

April 10, 2006


Regarding Robbi's otherwise excellent entry below, I think it worth noting that Smelly (whoever that is) actually scored 119 in contributing to the depantsing of the lawyers. I have a deep reverence for detail.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:27 PM


We celebrated the birthday of the Christian (ours, not the big one, whose re-birthday is coming up this weekend) by heading off to a little BajaFresh and BajaBowling (duckpin).

Note the post-Baja wild-eyed delight. Good times, good times.

Note here the ongoing post-Baja wild-eyed delight. Do you think they put MSG in those burritos? Also note my most excellent photographic skills - both first attempts, yo.

And this is perhaps the most important piece of documentation of all:

Note the combined scores on the left (lawyers) vs the combined scores on the right (non-money-grubbers). We may be generally unskilled, but we've got a keen eye for knocking down little wooden things that look like people. Also note that Smelly (S) (guess who) scored a 118 and Intolerable (I) (yours truly) scored a 95. 95!! That's a world record!! I think I deserve a raise!

Posted by ribbu at 09:41 PM

Stage #2

After having heard again and again from Dad about how he had "messed up all of our work cleaning up last week" we were expecting disaster. In fact, it didn't look much messier, and a lot of stuff had gotten sorted out. We were pleased. Though, not entirely optimistic:

We used one end of the room as our staging/triage area for items to go off to auction:

(Dog not included)

It ended up leaving a healthy bit of open space in the middle of the room, and suddenly progress had been made.

One of the coolest things we found this week were a bunch of old comic books of Dad's. They are mostly from the "Illustrated Classics" series (I would say mid '40s or so) - a bunch of novels rewritten in comic book cliff's notes form. We were never allowed to read them as kids (since we hadn't read the real books), so they've always held a great mystique. Now that I've got Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment, Oliver Twist and Treasure Island under my belt, I'm reading those suckers with a vengeance. The rest, apparently, Dad is going to keep under lock and key until I do my homework.

Posted by ribbu at 09:18 PM | Comments (2)

Great Plans!

Well, the plans for our future home are constantly evolving - we've made a list of our most crucial pieces of furniture and have tried to cram them all into the space. Below you'll find one of many iterations. We have followed quite a progression of ideas:

1. Have one study, insulated, for Robbi to make tons of freelance money in under ideal temperature conditions, along with a large living /sleeping area that is uninsulated, and thus only inhabitable for approximately 6 months of the year.

2. Have two studies, insulated, for Robbi to make tons of freelance money in and for Matthew to while away his hours in making his weekly allowance of 21 cents (courtesy of Robbi) under ideal temperature conditions, along with a large living/sleeping area that is uninsulated, and thus only inhabitable for approximately 6 months of the year.

3. Have one study, insulated, for Robbi to make tons of freelance money in, and another study/bedroom, insulated, for Matthew to while away his hours in making his weekly allowance of 21 cents (courtesy of Robbi) and sleep his days away under ideal temperature conditions, along with a smaller living area that is uninsulated, and thus only inhabitable for approximately 6 months of the year.

4. Have one big insulated room for everything, that is inhabitable year-round, with high heating bills.

5. Have one study and one big insulated room for variable temperature control.

6. Any combination of the above, for any reason whatsoever.

Below is the most recent floorplan, which isn't recent enough for the most recent decision of how to set it up - I think we've decided to insulate the whole thing, but save on heating and construction by putting in the dreaded drop ceiling. We'll see if it sticks. But, we liked this plan for a while, anyway:

Posted by ribbu at 08:27 PM | Comments (2)

April 09, 2006


We're back home after two days in Chestertown. The dog is pleased to be back in her space after having spent several nights consigned to her cage, and we are happy to be back in our own beds again. Tonight we celebrated Christian's birthday with Baja Fresh and bowling. Dahna, Robbi, and I formed one team and Christian, Emily, and Sarah the other. It was lawyers v. non-lawyers and I am happy to say that the non-lawyers edged the esquires in the first game and creamed them in the second. I think Christian had a good birthday anyway.

As for things barn-related, we made progress on several fronts this weekend. Bob and I finished pugging most of the clay. There are still 10 or so bags of a reddish clay that Seiko uses very occasionally and about 20 of the brown clay mixed with sand that she uses for sculptural pieces that require more structure. Robbi kept up the good work upstairs while we pugged, clearing out the formerly impassable central space, opening up an artery for the light to pour in. We got a glimpse of how nice the space will look when it's finally clear of debris. Bob and I loaded much of the large furniture into the van to take to the auction at Crumpton this coming week: a fairly nice roll top desk, a few old dressers, a very dusty upholstered chair, a child's desk, an decrepit foosball table. I carried a bunch of old mattresses and bed components down and Bob will haul them to the dump this week. There are one or two more loads to go to auction or the dump, but we're getting to the point at which much of what remains must be saved and artfully relocated. Piles of lumber, buckets of old piping and PVC, bags for Florabana, rolls of paper, flashing, old doors, and many other usable components.

We found a long piece of framed glass with an etched design that Bob had had made for the Imperial Hotel when they owned it. We'd like to find a way to use it in the new construction. We also dug from the pile the windows that we hope to install between our two offices once they are built.

We are coming to peace with the thought that we might need to resort to installing a drop ceiling as a means of economically finishing our space. Not only would it be less expensive and far less difficult to install than sheetrock, but we would also have much less space to heat and cool. Economically speaking, the drop ceiling option might leave us the opportunity to insulate the walls and create a space that is usable year round instead of only in the temperate months. Also, we could install much more insulation above the drop ceiling than we could between the roof and the sheetrock, furthering our savings on heating and cooling. We would lose much of what is barn-like about the space by covering the beams and the lofted space, but we might need to make that sacrifice for the sake of usability and comfort. When we make our millions we'll be able to tear out the drop ceiling and do things right. For now, however, we'll be able to have a very nice space in which to execute these plans of ours.

Next weekend is Easter and a three-day weekend. We should be able to get a lot done.

I'm sure Robbi will post pictures of the progress. One still has to look closely to see what has changed. At a glance, the jumble remains. But the jumble is much diminished. And we are getting much closer to carving out our new home.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:37 PM

April 08, 2006


Since apparently it's my duty to write about the business of pugging, I will explain here. Pugging was perhaps the most reprehensible way to spend a day as a youngster. It is, in a word, reprehensible. It involves taking all the old crusty dry clay and mixing it with the old sloppy wet clay and putting it in a big sausage grinder and having it come out like a big, evenly moistened sausage of resurrected clay. The shenanigans involved are usually due to the fact that my father is the one steering the ship, and, as youngsters, we just had to follow orders and hope for the best. It is, even without shenanigans, a slow and mind-numbing process, but add the shenanigans and suddenly it's 12 hours later and all your friends have gone out for pizza and a movie while you're still standing there in your work overalls blowing clay dust out of your nose. Matthew describing the experience as "a good time" makes me wonder if he is, in fact, bizarro Bob. Luckily, the two had great fun getting in some mind-numbing time together.

"Working hard! No time for your silly pictures! Only 17 more hours to go!"

"Must align so very carefully, or stacks of clay might topple and kill you!"

"Jesus, woman! Haven't you ever heard of work?! GET TO IT!"

"Yeah. In 17 more hours, do you think I can take a pee?"

Posted by ribbu at 09:47 PM

Stage #1

These are a little late in coming, but need to be posted nonetheless. Weekend 1 of theBarnstorming involved a good deal of cardboard and packing peanut corraling. You wouldn't believe how many boxes Bob and Seiko had up there, just in case. Just in case Godzilla came to destroy c-town and we had to build a gigantic cardboard robot to defeat him.

(THIS alone is a van full of packing peanuts!)

Anyway, the conquest started out with great hooplah - Bob, Robbi and Matthew preparing for the attack:


*It kind of looks like I'm preggers in this picture. I've got that sort of big preggers head. But, I'm not. No mistaking it, it's just my regular chubby cheeks. Matthew, on the other hand...

I also love Dad's heroic faraway look.

A big part of the cleanup revolved around creating a storage space above the other half of the unfinished upstairs of the barn - the part where the booth for the flower show is kept, where all out extra merchandise is stored, and where any useable stuff needs to go. Dad brilliantly came up with the idea of using the old house shutters (which we don't want to get rid of) to run across the beams and create a little attic floor up there for storage space. Matthew's job was to crawl around like a little monkey up there, arranging shutters and nailing down boards. I think, when he's really bad, we should just leave him up there.

After all that crawling around, he sure was dirty, and sweaty, and gross.

Welcome to my world.

Posted by ribbu at 09:39 PM

April 07, 2006


Midday now, and hours still until we are to arrive on the far side of the Bay. The day could be worse. There is a wrinkle that must be smoothed in one of my projects, but it will be smoothed and the river will continue to flow, as it will when I am on the other side of the Bay full time. I have little to say but wanted to post. Posting here feels like taking a small step toward a large step. There is so much to do in the next five months. 5 major projects at work, selling the house, building our new space in the barn. And a thousand smaller milestones along the way. One small step today, an articulation of yearning, seems to help. It is a conversation, this movement across the waters. Robbi, you're it.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:41 PM

April 06, 2006

Anticipating Tomorrow

I'm lying here in bed as the hour approaches 11:00, which experience suggests is the best time for going to sleep if I am to feel in any way prepared to face the day tomorrow. It is unlikely that I will make the deadline, given that it seems to take a full hour, once the intention of moving toward bedtime has been announced, for the delicate unwinding of the day to yield to the actual act of sleeping. There are teeth to brush and the dog to let out for a final pee. Robbi must be persuaded to abandon whatever enterprise she has devoted herself to and join me in the bed. I must record my final thoughts, fold up my computer. We must each recount and record our five favorite things of the day in the small red book that sits by Robbi's bedside. I have once or twice been forced, by necessity, to record our favorite things, but there is no jury who would agree that my handwriting even approximates legible, while hers is so fine and precise as to approximate type. I have to move the pillows and blankets just so, and adjust the cats, and put in my earplugs, and have a final drink of water. And so on. Before I can finally drift off to sleep. For a while. And then I'll have to pee. And then the dog will have to pee. And then I'll need a drink of water. And so then I'll have to pee again. It is a restless existence, being me.

Eventually the morning comes. When morning comes tomorrow, I will be glad, for tomorrow, at the very end of tomorrow, we are heading to Chestertown for our second weekend of barn cleaning. We made great strides last weekend, removing large gratifying quantities of materials from our soon-to-be living space: packing popcorn, cardboard boxes, piles of wooden shutters. We're getting to the nitty gritty now, where ancient belongings will have to be judged as treasure or junk and piles will have to be made to determine what heads to auction, storage, or dumpster.

And then there is the pugging, part two. Perhaps Robbi will post some pictures of last week's activities. Bob and I got approximately halfway through our project of reviving thousands of pounds of desiccated clay remainders, the sad chaff of Seiko's amazing work. This weekend we'll tackle the rest. Some potters throw their extras away. Bob believes in recycling, in spite of its being a slow and thankless ordeal, because the pugging is part of the process of pottery. It's important to him. And I admire that a great deal. We had a good time, surprisingly, just going through the motions of running old clay through the mill (kind of like a sausage grinder) again and again until it came out smooth and airless (there is a vacuum involved) and ready for Seiko's masterful hands to make into something rare and wonderful.

Time for bed now. All is lost. I'll be lucky to make it by midnight at this point. But I'm banking on there being pie on Saturday night, purchased from the Mennonites in the village square as part of the Saturday morning farmers' market. I'm moving to a place with a village square and a Saturday morning farmers' market. Can you hear the glee? I am smiling a mile wide.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:34 PM

Stage #0

So this is where we're starting from. A beautiful big grey barn right in the middle of historic C-town. We plan to inhabit the top bunch of windows on the left - the rest is the domain of seiko: gallery, studio, kiln, drying racks, storage, etc.

And this is the inside of our future home:

Full of 25 years of flotsam and jetsam, or, more correctly, ligan, it will take some heroics just to get the space cleared out. The difficulty lies in deciding what can stay (childhood drawings and building block set) and what can go (tottering heaps of very spiky branch material (I think all that japanese boils down to "look out! this shit hurts!!") - perhaps?). There are some ambiguous items, that will surely not go without a fight.

Posted by ribbu at 08:16 PM

Setting out

At long last I am free to comment on our brand new life. The new blog is launched and, for now, at least, it has no audience but Robbi and me. It is a tricky business, trying to document your life while needing also to keep essential details from public consumption. I suppose that's why diaries have traditionally come with a built in lock and key. One's private thoughts are often best left private. It is an odd phenomenon, this blogging impulse. Can one really express oneself with candor and precision when anyone might be listening? Perhaps the bloggers have no secrets, or no shame. Or perhaps they have wild, exhibitionist tendencies that must be aired in order to access their daily dose of satisfaction. To those of you who read hoping for pure, unfiltered access to my darkest nooks, I am sorry to have to disappoint. You wouldn't want a look inside, and I am unprepared to give you one. But I intend to chronicle the public face of the coming Eastward migration.

Posted by bogenamp at 04:04 PM | Comments (1)