Monday, August 27, 2012

staying dry

peafowl seem to like hiding from the rain on the porch
With classes cancelled at FIU and throughout South Florida today, it's a good time to talk about the house's performance during cyclones. Like every building in the region, tin box is designed to withstand very high winds and intense amounts of rain without sustaining any damage. The trailing side of Tropical Storm Isaac is passing through Miami now with an almost regular pattern of calm-storm-calm-storm, and it is giving us a chance to look at how the house fares. The results so far are good.

Friday, August 24, 2012

awaiting Isaac, remembering Andrew

Ron Magill, flamingoes at the Miami Metro Zoo.
The practice of naming cyclones is unsettling. Anthropomorphizing storms gives them agency and makes them seem malevolent; a tornado or earthquake is a random act of nature, "Katrina" was a malicious killer.

All over South Florida today people are marking the twentieth anniversary of the day Hurricane Andrew hit, and the consensus is that the destruction caused by the storm - and the region's lack of preparedness - "changed everything." The approach of Tropical Storm Isaac, which may make landfall as a hurricane in three days, makes the anniversary more urgent than nostalgic.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

kitchen counter

Our cabinet maker just finished the surface of the kitchen countertops, which means this may be the cleanest you'll ever see the kitchen. The countertop is made from slabs of black Richlite, a composite material made from layers of paper bonded with epoxy. In it's fresh-from-the-factory state, the material has a papery texture on the surface, though it has a density and hardness more like stone. But after sanding it repeatedly with increasingly fine sanding pads, the surface feels more like soapstone or an epoxy laboratory countertop. The surface is then protected with a coat of natural wood finish that includes linseed oil, tung oil and lemon. The finish is rubbed in with a rag, and needs to be reapplied annually.

Now we just need to let it sit for twelve hours. Then we can start cooking.

Below, another gratuitous image of the gorgeous Plyboo pantries, and the ultra-functional LED task lighting...

coming home

I came home from Ethiopia late Tuesday night, and woke up at tin box yesterday morning. It was pretty special. Holly spent the summer completing the house, and all that's left is the punch list (the final items that need to be addressed by the contractor to complete the house) and unpacking boxes that have been in storage since before we moved to Miami. At left is a photograph of the kitchen at sunrise. Among the highlights of my first morning at home: making coffee on the electric induction cooktop (water boils unbelievably fast), drinking it in the courtyard, taking a long shower (of filtered rainwater heated by our solar hot water panel), and watching the new families of peafowl wandering through the garden.

I've lived in spaces designed by or with Holly on and off for the last 22 years, and this one is really, really special.

Monday, August 6, 2012


We'll get back to posting on the progress of the house and reporting on how well the various systems are working next week. For now, a few tasty morsels of photos Holly took last week...