Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentines Night

I went to Baltimore this afternoon with Boss B and a helper from Guatemala--I got to drive Boss A's pickup truck, which was fun for me since I hadn't driven a truck since the day before prom when Ben and I visited [botanical] nurseries in Frankfort to pick up trees and flowers for the entryway. Anyway back to the point. We went to this huge warehouse in downtown Baltimore to pick up all kinds of stuff--mostly glass beakers and bottles for a chemistry lab, but also some really old shutters, doors, iron pieces, etc. It's a long story--basically the stuff was going into the trash unless someone wanted it, and with all the chemistry Boss A and Boss B do, they thought it was a great find. It was a long day and we rode in this really huge industrial type elevator, the kind where you can see the cables and the wooden walls of the floors you're going through.

This evening Boss B and I ordered middle Eastern food for dinner and I had some delicious moussaka. We flipped between the Olympics and the Westminster Dog Show. I was happy to see the Golden Retriever win the best in group for sporting dogs. Also saw a Parti Cocker and it reminded me of Adrien of course...I keep telling Mom and Sam to take good care of Mocha and Adrien and give them plenty of attention (Dad, that goes for you too!)

Mom and Dad sent me some beautiful flowers for Valentines Day which was really sweet and thoughtful! I love them!
Good morning!

Today has been interesting so far. I've been working with Boss A on an email and sort of packet of information and photographs to send to an architect/artist who Boss A is commissioning to draw a series of pictures explaining the repairs that went on at the H. House. A lot of the same sorts of repairs are going to happen at M. with any luck and people need to understand what can be done. Boss A says that people do what they know--whether that be installing steel beams, taking out original rafters and replacing them with new wood, or whatever--and a lot of original material is usually lost. What I am learning is that much of preservation is coming up with new solutions. I've never been engineering-minded so this is going to be a challenge for me, a new way of thinking. But since I'm coming into this with literally no preservation experience, hopefully I'll pick it up in the same way that a 4 year old can learn to speak Spanish easier than someone who has spoken English for 20 years.

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day.

Hopefully Boss B might want to go out for dinner or something tonight. I don't want to go grocery shopping and I don't want to eat more salad and leftover couscous from last night.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A good day was Friday

Tonight, my first Friday night in the area, I went to DC to visit Anne Louise and got completely 100% lost on the way there but she patiently talked me through it and got me to her apartment, where she informed me I had indeed been lost in the proverbial ghetto.

We went to Union Station and took the metro to Chinatown, and tried a couple restaurants before deciding on La Tasca, a tapas restaurant (www.latascausa.com). I loved the restaurant. We each got 3 tapas: I had vegetable paella, fried shrimp, and garlic and cheese bread, and Anne Louise had scallops, Spanish sausage in some sort of sauerkraut or something, and a tomato and feta salad. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. They also have about 10 specialty sangrias and so we both tried one--mine, chosen on the recommendation of the waitress, was made with white and red grapes, grape juice, and blush wine. It was probably the best drink I have ever had.

After dinner we went to see the Woody Allen movie "Match Point" at a theater relatively nearby. It was an interesting movie and the theater shows many independent films--makes the Kentucky Theater's offerings look meager. We saw a preview for a movie coming out called "Joyeux Noel" that looks so good--it's about the WWI Christmas Eve ceasefire of 1914.

Anyway--that's my night. As far as my day went: more work on the project reports, but this time with a lot of input from Boss A. We sat down together and worked through several of them and he told me more background, and we brainstormed more ideas for the website and had a "get to know you" sort of conversation. At the end of the day I felt happy about my work, my bosses, and my life.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pictures of My House

My work space. This is the basement where I work on really important stuff.

The living room.

Another shot of the living room.

My bedroom. Mom made the quilt years ago and on Sunday after I moved in she calls me and says she just remembered that the pattern is called "Baltimore Bride." What a coincidence. It seemed like a good omen.

The kitchen where I cook delicious meals.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Project Reports, Project Reports, Project Reports

Today when I woke up, I headed downstairs to brush my teeth, etc, and then sat down at the desk without even making myself a cup of coffee first. I wanted to briefly review what I had worked on yesterday and head to a coffee shop to work after that, but I ended up getting sucked back in. Here's a synopsis of what I'm working on:

Through working with them I have learned that seeminly 99% of preservation is done incorrectly and the problem is the fundamental. Bosses A and B have a preservation philosophy different from other conservators, which I will go into later. mind. It's not going to be a "Look what Boss A did!" site; rather, it's designed to educate people on what CAN be done. Buildings do not necessarily need to be stripped of historic fabric; much can be saved with proper and appropriate assessments and treatments, but everything begins with the goal of saving all original material. The idea that this CAN be done is the key their approach to HP. Also key is the replication of original materials using on-site resources such as local sands and clay instead of relying on product representatives to propose modern treatments that will not correspond and react aggreably to the original materials. One example is the use of portland cement as a mortar. Eighteenth century buildlings use high lime mortar that is less porous and much softer than the bricks it bonds, but repairs have been done for over a century using a hard portland cement that is harder and denser than the bricks, causing immeasurable damage. Today, the same portland cement that is used on modern constructions is still used to "repair" historic structures. This is unacceptable and is fatal to the fabric of historic structures.

I have been working on reports on a lighthouse and several historic houses--learning a lot!

Another big project the Bosses are working on at the moment is the reconstruction of a ceremonial room at the White House. When completed, the room will be Dick Cheney's equivalent to the Oval Office. Construction workers mistakenly ripped out the original floor and ceiling and trashed it, and before it could be salvaged it was gone. The floor was made from a now largely unavailable Cuban mahogany. An importer in Canada has a supply of Cuban mahogany furniture that will be disassembled and chopped up and used for its wood, and pieced together to make the parquet flooring of the room. A major project indeed. Yesterday I accompanied Boss A to the workshop of the cabinet maker who is responsible for replicating the original floor and I got to see the "mock-up" floor that will be used as a model for the replica floor. It will be stunning when completed. I hope to accompany the Bosses to the site so I can see the project and hopefully help with it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was a big day: my first full day of work as a preservation intern. Day went something like this:
7 am - got out of bed, showered, made coffee
8 am - began reading through project reports
12 pm - lunch break
1 pm - departed for old house with Boss C for "walk through" with homeowners
2 pm - walk through commences
5 pm - walk through ends and coffee/hazelnuts/chocolate snack time begins
6 pm - homeowners realize they should take us out for dinner instead of making me nauseous off too much sugar
6:30 pm - depart for dinner at Irish place called Killarney
7-9 pm - dinner. Had Irish Vegetarian Boxty: delicious and took half home for lunch today. The most acceptable way of eating zucchini I've had to date.
9:30 pm - arrived home tired and ready to crash

Long day. It was really interesting at the house with Boss C, but I'll talk more about that later. At this point, every minute longer I write my already dwindling night of sleep is further compromised.

Today was a little better in the length-of-day department. Got up, read through reports and began working out templates for the website, then went to a circa 1900 hospital with Boss A that is being turned into a condo development.

Tonight I was blogging and Bosses B and C invited me to go to dinner with them, and although I ate at Baja Fresh earlier tonight I decided it would be a good move to go at their invitation. I sat along for their dinner and by the end was falling asleep. I'm having trouble with this 7 am work day thing. Hopefully it gets easier as time goes by. Tomorrow I'm taking my work and going downtown to a coffee shop for potential new-friend-making.

My first 2 days in The Greater DC Area

I'll recap my first 2.5 days in The Greater DC Area.

Rebecca and I arrived in Washington, DC on Saturday evening and after getting briefly lost while looking for the Roosevelt Bridge we went to our high school friend Anne Louise's apartment. She lives on Capitol Hill in a basement apartment in this eclectic neighborhood and we could see the Capitol from her front steps. We went to this Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood and when we were on our way to Union Station, it started pouring. We got completely soaked and tried to dry off in the bathroom, but all the dryers were broken so we dealt with it. Rebecca's metro ticket got stuck in the machine, so Anne Louise ran around for a while trying to find someone to get it out, and in the meantime we missed the train. Finally the ticket popped out on its own, Anne Louise returned, and we got on the train to Arlington. We went to the Iota club where we had a pleasant surprise: Robby had indeed remembered to put us on the guest list. Then we had another surprise: Robby's girlfriend had surprised him and flown up for the show.

Post-show we boarded a taxi to take us back to Anne Louise's. I was worn out by 9 pm, so a train ride home sounded painfully tiring. The taxi was expensive but worth it.

Next morning, we rose at 9 and went to brunch at a place called Bread and Chocolate, where I had Pfannkuchen, a German pancake, with berries and sour cream. It was basically 2 crepes with fresh strawberries and blueberries and sour cream (yes, I mean sour cream) and it was delicious. Also had lots of good bread and coffee.

Rebecca and I then departed for Annapolis. The drive was only about 30 minutes, and we easily found the house where I'm staying. We arrived, unloaded my car, met Boss B, who I am living with, and went downtown Annapolis to kill time and explore while Boss B worked on my living area some more. Rebecca and I found some coffee shops, none necessarily to our very high standards of atmosphere, but I had a very good soy latte and delicious blueberry scone at City Dock Cafe (www.citydockcafe.com), which I think may be a local chain. We walked around some more and went into one of the taverns to get out of the cold. There is a local microbrewery in Annapolis called Fordham's and Rebecca had one of their ales, but I had a cider.

Back at the house, we met the conservator Boss A. He gave us a recommendation for dinner, Cantler's (www.cantlers.com), which he and Boss B both described as a sort of dive for the locals who know where to eat seafood. We drove about 15 minutes to find it, and at our table the waitress laid down a brown paper "tablecloth" and set some vinegar, seasoned salt, and wooden mallets on the table. We ordered a broiled lump crab cake and traditional fried crab cake with a big basket of fries, but the best were the lobster and crab bisque which was on special, and the crab dip that came with buttered bread loaves. I made the mistake of ordering a Diet Coke, which was like $1.75, not realizing that they charged for every cup. I ended up drinking $7 worth of Diet Coke..oops. I think our dinner wound up right at $50 or so.

I'm going out for Mexican with Bosses B and C right now--although I already ate at Baja Fresh--I'll talk more about this later.