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Welcome to Saved by Design

February 16, 2018

New Stuff:

In Random Stuff: Fred Hoyle & Immanuel Velikovsky

In Home Page: Home Style Why?

In Left To Myself : Tackling With My Head

In Not (As) Fat: One Meal A Day

In Finding Home: Building Beauty

In The Rules: Between Rocks & Hard $$$

In Silence In Spring : Astonishing…

In Days ’till Spring : Evil


February 24, 2018

You can’t lose if you don’t play.

But can you lose what you never had?

Trying means failing, sometimes. It also means getting what you try for, and often that’s what we revel in. Especially in social media, the “Brag Book” of the 21st century. Bragging is natural for us, me, as is failure, but we skirt by the mix of loss and gifts in life and cobble together a brand of what we are, but mostly what we want to be.

The skid to distortion is when failure shifts to feeling wronged. I somehow avoid that. There are no conspiracies amid all the unknowns. I feel no ennui, or justification in failure, just failure.

There are times that I do not do enough, or more often, I cannot do enough. I was asked to see what I thought of a site for a group. I went at it, as the drawings above reflect, did theee variations on my variation of a plan they had already determined, and they LOVED it!

But not enough for me to become their architect. Whether I liked it or not, the minute I am offered anything, I have hopes. And fears. But mostly hopes. I am hard wired to want, hope and fear. You would think I could suspend those realities,

I have no idea who was favored, why I was not, or if it was worth my effort to try, because whether it was worth it or not, I had to try. I do not Google these things.

You would think I could know my incontrollable hopes and be braced for losing them, or I could know there are natural fears and not feel them, or at least that I want to design every building, everywhere, every time and chuckle and relax.


You would think in Lent, where I end noise and crank for 90 minutes before all the sturm und  drang begin, there I could find resolution, understanding, or at least comfort in thought. No, although God is there, Jesus failed repeatedly, and I have done and am doing things, But when I cannot do that which I wanted to do, it is still counted as loss. Even though I never had anything to lose except hope. And that is not good, any way you view it.

I have very few expectations, virtually no sense of entitlement, so I seldom feel cheated, victimized or even unfairly used, pretty much ever. But loss of what I never had, but hoped for, hurts. But it hurts more when I know I contributed to the decision that I was less desirable than another approach, and I can control that by doing as much as possible before I am dumped. So I crush it, often too hard,

Which, of course, makes the hopes higher.

It is often a no-win for the striver. If I was happier, had a better childhood, had unquestioned Faith, I could believe “It’s all good.”

And it is. My victimization ended in 1970-something, and even that came with a full belly, a healthy body, people who loved me, and enough money. How bad could it be? Well, when I lose, it’s bad. It’s out of my control. I am inadequate. Grinding here in Lent, maybe I can get a better seat viewing the show – but after 62 years, I doubt it.

But I got an email this morning to request that I offer my services to a great place in Westchester, and I see a new job this morning and a building site  and then another and I go on.

But I still wish I could help create the Chabad of Bedford. Maybe I have, just by failing, but that does not mean I did not fail.



Art & Boredom

February 23, 2018


I awoke to a blast of pixels.

Not Kardashian, gun violence, last night’s dinner, giggling baby, smiling dog or even Trump: it was 63,000 year old art.

I listen to the Bible every Sunday, and it’s 3,000 year old parts have a heft and awe of survivalist connection to an otherwise hidden time. The universality of the thoughts, emotions and values connect me to them as if time was not present, sorta. There are unanswered questions. But this is 20 times more distant.

Along with those images the internet offered a Prosperity Gospel millionaire preacher has decided that money is now not important to him because “Jesus did not drive a car”. Well, maybe he rode dinosaurs. We cannot ask Him, it was 2,000 years ago – but the manipulation of the ancient to validate the present is nothing new…

And I see the images from Spain of this morning, of over 63,000 years ago and I effort understanding. There is a ‘them” ascribed – the Neanderthals. But this is really us.

Guesses are that with Sabre toothed tigers, the flu, no farming and nor TV life was short and desperate then. The smart could find food and mate, sleep, eat, and… here is where I leave understanding – apparently others do too.

Art is unnecessary. Music is unnecessary. The perforated and decorated shells they made and wore did not protect, feed or have sex with them. Why do they, we, want them? Why is God there? Here?

Call me crazy, I am ignorant, but I find no difference between these useless beauties and God. They are without reason or justification. They feed no one, take time away from survival, and are simply there after being done – they, even the shells, have no purpose.

Unless there is a gas leak, a scented human, or just a diesel car I have no awareness of the air. I would be dead without it, but unlike food it is mostly invisible and unnoticed. Until a having a cold, or extreme cold, or the pot boiling over makes the air unavoidable.

These drawings, today, from then, are unavoidable. I create every day – this very thing, here, now, in fact. But I really do not know why it’s here, now: and I cannot believe the Spanish Neanderthals who apparently were just like me did either.

There is a beauty in expression, because there is beauty: those dog/baby internet images make us smile, even laugh – maybe not the Kardashians.

There is laughter, why? I think it is because God is here. Now. The impossibility of useless beauty makes something not of us, but by us, Devine. I can not control what I create, even though I make it. When it’s being done or gets done, I can feel it’s beauty, or not. Sometimes problems are solved, but fixing is not always making beauty. I can root for a team, or a person, maybe even feel good when they win, sad when they lose. But if I do not somehow love them, I cannot feign devotion, just like I cannot simulate beauty. I cannot do Fake Faith..

There is much Fake News. Like the Posperity Gospel. But there is no faking God in my life, especially during Lent.



February 22, 2018

I awoke this morning to 2 distinct nocturnal shocks.

Once again, a dark desperation involving death was loudly in my dream, and the U.S. WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM WON THE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL.

These things are both separate from my life, and everyone else’s not in Korea or bed with me, but they are both powerful. We cannot control dreams. Freud thought they were the key to mapping your brain’s acceptance of life. I cannot celebrate the Women’s victory in any way because I did not know they were eligible to win anything let alone play last night. But, like Freud, the stakeholders in the meaning of this victory are deeply moved by it.

No one cares what I dream, at night, asleep.

But those night terrors somehow defrag, or perhaps inflame, the realities of memories and fears that work and love and food and music usually overwhelm. The two worlds – inside our brains and before our eyes – are never clearer than when I wake up and for an instant they live together.

Startling up, from sleep, I am usually deeply threatened, this morning dying, in a place no one else sees or hears, and the cyber announcement blares a crashing victory half a world away that everyone else sees -THE WOMEN WON.

At the same moment.

For some time, unknowably long, I am is suspended in between. I am not dying and I have no part in the overtime, unexpected, victory.

The whole of the U.S. Olympic team apparently has had a terrible year: bad defeats, numbing disappointments, terrible TV ratings. I have had a blessed life, with great good things and people, many measurables and no tragedies (yet). But both these games and my life had radically different histories.

The Men’s Gold over the Russians in the 1980 Olympics, the endless Gold moments by so many Americans in so many games in the past was a clear counterpoint to this year’s disappointments. Until now. Now this will be the Women’s Hockey Olympics. My early life was a blend of fear, pain, disappointment and anger. Until I became almost adult – and for the last 45 years.

Each night terror I awake in for a screaming instant wrecks what is the gift of Grace in a blessed life, for a few minutes upon awakening. This hockey game voids the nightmare of distant defeat to distract the passive fans until the next Olympics.

I can see this in silence, in the dim rain this early morning. I cannot sense this perspective while dreaming or when I heard they won. I am left with what we are all left with – coping. I seem to do that without any rationalization or understanding with a simple Faith, despite the night sweats – at least given enough time.

I am sure the transporting joy of an improbable win in a season of defeats will carry the transported for a while, then the inevitabilies well up to be undeniable. I am in a great, good place, even though my nightmares are violently terrifying. Our lives face endless disappointments and travails and triumphs despite the Miracle on Ice Part 2.

We are not the Women’s Hockey Team and I am not my nightmares. Despite how real they seem in the moment.

Thank God. Especially in Lent.

Michelangelo’s Lent

February 21, 2018

Full Size Render Splice 2

It is a weirdness.

Lent is a place of listening. Mostly to what is heard when you make less noise.

Michelangelo deeply believed in God, not as a Patron or inspiration, but as a central fact of Faith in his life. He talked, wrote, drew his faith, even sung it, one might presume. He lived a long life when most died at half his age. He had no spouse or children. He never stopped writing, thinking, doing: What was Lent like for him?

But I just wrote 3 things, and now this: and the rigid of daily, silent, writing is, well, a good thing – for me. But when I write for others, for the editors, it’s not listening, it’s performing. It is fulfilling expectations, and I, at least, cannot listen while I do that. And I do that every day. Most all the time.

For years it was the children: if we did anything for then, it was unquestionably justified, nay, required. When you are brought up in a place of survival, gifts are, well just surviving. So absent perspective stuff gets done. And those you parent know a different life.

Now I have my other offspring: the tasks and measures and accesses of daily living. In achievement aspiration you need Lent. Michelangelo had a beloved friend he spent endless hours communicating with, a lot about God – he was infested in the creative life, first with mentors then mentees, and he never, ever seemed satisfied – with anything.

His nose that was flattened in a raging fight was the memory of a passion that gets violent when outside the mind: it was exquisitely human. He was, like you, and me, a human. Like Jesus.

I find that hard. The inability to rest absent pre-emptive exhaustion. Not knowing much, I assume Michelangelo had the same affliction because we all do, to some extent. I may not have hobbies, binge watch, or game, but I did watch 2 hours of Chopped last night – knowing I had been up at 5, and needed to be up early the next day.

Maybe exhaustion is not this kind of Lent, this morning. Or any morning. Faith could make effort pretty silly, except the extreme faith and ultimate terminal exhaustion of that 33 year old guy 2,000 years ago kinda revealed the impossibility of that aspiration.

I wish, even on my half birthday on the way to 63, that I knew more. I know Michelangelo did too.

Mr. Rogers Is Not Jesus

February 20, 2018

I have been told the dead Fred Rogers broadcast his neighborhood for the first time 50 years ago, yesterday.

Hard to believe: I thought he was around before I was born 62 1/2 years ago. In a recent Atlantic Magazine article also told to me an hour ago (by a good friend I have never met) (a little like Fred wanted to be) the author relays a book excerpt that simply said:

““After graduating from seminary, the Presbyterian Church didn’t know what to do with Fred,” says Amy Hollingsworth, author of The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers. “So the presbytery gave him a special commission to be an evangelist to children through the media.””

Wait, it was in the early 1960’s – there were never enough clerics for a historically high, in fact exploding, church attendance. And they gave him a “special” commission? And then I flashed on an anecdote.

A great good friend in college was made an intern in PBS at the New York Station where Fred Rogers worked in the early ’70’s, and had the chance to encounter Mr. Rogers in the flesh. My friend went on to work for a while in residence life positions in universities and he was extremely open, sensitive and has one of the best senses of humor I have ever laughed with. He was accepting in ways that seemed pretty “sensitive” back then.

He thought Fred Rogers was, well, disturbing. Maybe the Presbyterian Church caught that vibe.

Rogers was operating on a plane that seemed detached to the point more than a little scary to my friend: who was not easily frightened.

The article’s author, Jonathan Merritt goes on to say “In the wake of World War II, thousands of veterans returned from battle and started families. These shell-shocked heroes risked creating a generation of emotionally stunted children.” He helped one of those break the silence of autism, cured actress Loren Tewes of cocaine addiction and literally prayed before every show “Let my words be God’s” in the “sacred ground” between the viewer and the viewed.

I kinda hated him.

My dad was clearly coping his entire life, mostly with scotch and Kent cigarettes. He was one of those undiagnosed Greatest Generation PTSD suburbanites whose spawn Rogers touched. But I was 13 when Rogers came on the air. I was living the Clockwork Orange life of a teenager listening, deeply, to Ludwig van and crushing the football field in UltraVi.

It was not a neighborly beauty wood. It was wounded, tough, painful.

So when first I noticed Mr. Rogers in my neighborhood, my first response began with the letter F. If lame was in the enhanced vernacular then Mr. Rogers personified that. To me and SNL.

He saved many folk who were not skeeved out by him as my friend was whenever they shared an elevator.

Those saved watching him on TV, and the freaked co-worker, and the angry broken teenager all saw Fred Rogers differently. But he was the same person. He based his life on love and God and TV. He was complicated. His dramatically lame puppeteering was literally painful, his cardigan and slippers ritual was, to me, creepy, but he truly meant a huge amount to many people.

The evening before I read this piece, I was with a group of fellow Episcopalians who work to make the love of God relevant to those who find Jesus to be closer to Mr. Rogers – and not in a good way. I noted that up here, in New England that the name Jesus has two syllables, not three, and if he is anything untouchable he will remain as untouched as Fred Rogers was by me.

In 1971 Jesus and Fred Rogers were completely out of my orbit. I was in a flailing self-save that I know my distant and damaged siblings were also efforting: in full desperation. Surviving in danger is dark, mostly dangerous, but also necessary. Loren Tewes says she survived because of Mr. Rogers. I survived not because I nailed Bob Colvin on a fumble drill (although I thought so at the time) but because God was there. Right there and not on my radar.

You either hear the music or it is noise.

Stealth Jesus is always there, in Connecticut he has 2 syllables  or you cannot hear him, other places he offers a “beauty wood”. In the dark, in the silence, with the TV off, before I survive another day by dint of work and acceptance of inevitable failures (and some successes), I hear him.

Without Lent I would have chuckled at my friend’s “share”, but I would not have thought whether he just might find me kinda skeevy too, if we ever actually met. I doubt it, but he is far, far away – like Fred Rogers.

House Money

February 19, 2018


PODCAST, listen!

What is more basic than paying for where you live? Why are we so threatened? Why do we feel so bold? Why can’t we treat our homes like we do our cars: as basic purchases or monthly obligations? Our homes become an extension of ourselves: and money is the medium: let’s try to understand why we care so much and what the risks and rewards are.

Homes & Money: houses are often our largest asset, and the biggest cost for almost every one. We all live somewhere. The common perception of the American Dream included living in a free-standing house on your own land – a very expensive thing and it was a tradition for nearly 3 centuries. Even when it comes to renting, most domestic budgets spend the greatest amount on paying for the place you live.

Whether it’s building one, maintaining one, fixing one, adding onto one, or renting one the liabilities of paying for where we live are extreme. The home price/cost is lower here than some other places, it is high enough in the last few years that “flipping” is back on the front burner for entrepreneurs and cable TV home shows.

What costs what? How are costs determined? Who is making the money? How do we lose our money? Risks and rewards are everywhere all the time: and Home Page ways in on it: In studio we have Ron Avidan of Avidan Construction Management, in Stamford – a young company of 13 years in a brutally competitive custom home marketplace Ron is building a home for Duo Dickinson’s clients as we broadcast this show, and the knowledge will benefit everyone thinking about money and home.


Also in studio is Todd Gould, Realtor as been at the enter of the changing home market for 40 years,  Earning his sales license in 1978 and broker license three years later, Todd took over the Gould Agency, started in 1934 by his grandfather, from his father, making substantial strides as the company’s broker/manager for the next 27 years. His family’s real estate office merged with William Pitt Sotheby’s International in 2007. Duo designed Todd’s house almost 15 years ago and has been on the homeowner side of the home creation process.

Gould M.H.Ext2 [1600x1200]

On the phone is Bruce Becker, architect, developer, and city creation investor – and founder of Becker + Becker architects has created multiple rental properties – in New York City, New Haven and Hartford, Becker has both discerned cost, applied equity, designed architecture and then brokered the product to homeowners fro the advent of the 21st century. Yale trained and a Connecticut resident his insights and experience will give a full perspective in a complicated market.


The Yoke Is On Me

February 19, 2018


Most every morning I toddle over to a place that I use to expend calories.

Its a place I designed almost 20 years ago, have used for almost 15 years in this way (and others). It is far away but only 60 feet from our home. Like Walden it is a very easy wilderness.

The distant intimacy is part of these early mornings. It is where I do this: no incoming media, just silence and expression: some ancient meal being made into movement and typing into the internet.

But this morning, in predawn, I realized that I go towards and under yokes to do this. Being more ox than fox, I am good with burdens. Most, if not all, right now are yokes I choose to hook up to.

The yoke I first saw in the AM dim was a picture I took a decade ago of a small iron yoke from a hundred or few years ago in Venice. What is made by humans is always and from the beginning degrading and destabilized by the water and subsoil and crude efforts to sit upon both.

Here, in a place where there was very little besides mass to deal with, the pulling tensions caused by gravity are desperately dealt with by innumerable interventions over the centuries. These struggling efforts at controlling the unceasing decay are applied, peel off, reapplied in a kinetic rotation that reveals human desire.

This 6 inch piece of metal used its inserted shape to restrain one side of the wall it was slipped into from pulling away from the other side – and whatever protective coating was layered over it fell away years ago to spawn rust in this wet place,

This yoke is framed by a yoke of my design, where discarded, deeply checked and cracked white oak timbers, probably from another barn from a hundred or 3 years ago are used to restrain the side walls of my barn from pulling apart. They are in tension too, unless the wind blows hard enough and they translate that force into the ridge column.


These yokes danced before me 30 minutes ago revealing themselves coincidental.

After a decade of daily redundant intimacy.

I conspired them, but they own a deep history I can not know, let alone control.

Thoreau built Walden and went home every week. He was alone but not alone. He bathed in silence but needed noise. He needed a yoke, or really many as he surveyed (literally), drew and wrote. And listened, And thought. Polymath.

”My burden is easy, and my yoke is light.” said a 30 something who felt the largest weight of the world.

Amid the rumbling whoosh of the heating plant I took as my last payment after it was replaced in an addition I helped with 20 years ago, siting on 2x lumber floor decking of 6 softwood species, all over a century old, raised from a river bed, in constant motion (234 calories into 650) my yoke is, are, well, complicated.

These gifts of hundreds, thousands of histories, materials, years, humans all surround all of us. They are most often seen as a burden, not the gifts that have been offered to us. I did not deserve anything around me, although I built and build a lot – all these chosen yokes are nothing I earned.

Whether I get the flu or dip into the credit line, or have one our children find love, nothing – nothing – is bartered, bought or deserved. Thoreau saw Walden, he did not create it, That yoke in Venice was revealed to me – it was always there – I just saw it.

But I saved it, unknowingly, for this morning  – and your morning. 200 calories to go, These mornings are where Grace is easier to see.