a week of wonders. on friday, i picked up a can of waterlox, a noxious tung-oil-based finish, at an exorbitant price from south san francisco, then headed north to get a drink at tartine before frans lanting's lecture in mission bay. i sat down at the large communal table in the corner and noticed the woman next to me reading witold rybczynski's the most beautiful house in the world, which i happen to think is not very good. certainly not as good as tracy kidder's house or michael pollan's a place of my own, both books i would return to happily and repeatedly. (photos of the house pollan built are available here; it's a bit disturbing to see how a good writer can spin a one-room outbuilding into a 300-page book, but there it is.) she turned out to be a retired psychotherapist, and we ended up talking about jungian psychotherapy (out of fashion, but so much better than over-medication), christopher alexander (all about locality in buildings), gaston bachelard (we both remembered the conception of the house as oneiric or dream-laden), the japanese veneration of the physical effects of time and use on objects, mark doty's autobiography firebird, the shinto shrines at ise that are rebuilt every twenty years, and the english medieval builders who would plant forests immediately after laying foundation stones for cathedrals to assure the availability of timbers of sufficient size five hundred years in the future when they expected the first beams to fail. she gave me a half loaf of tartine's country levain, and i still made it to lanting's presentation in time.
lanting's was the third of the seminars about long-term thinking that i've gone to -- there is something to be said for meeting of minds. lanting's lecture was about seeing deep time in the present. specifically, he's just put out a book about the history of life through time, entirely photographed in the present. he's spent the last seven years traveling the planet to find scenes from the history of life. all of them are visible on the very beautiful website for the book life's journey through time. i was particularly pleased that he called out the horseshoe crab and identified the peculiarity of an economy in which the crab is endangered because it is a cheap bait for trash fish as well as the only source for a reagent used in testing parenteral biomedical products. if you're interested in this clear market failure, drop me a note.
on saturday, after sanding, wiping, and sanding again, i began to finish the frame using the waterlox. all this crazy grain is beginning to show up in the most amazing way and the colour of the wood is going from a very scandinavian ashy-cream with powdery grey-brown winterwood to honey-gold and deep brown. here's what it looks like after the first of four coats of waterlox. and under the frames, just because i've only recently rediscovered a digital camera hitherto believed lost, are photos of the house and the view from the end of the street.