Friday, September 18, 2009


Here's one of many "funny coincidence" stories that we've experienced here. A few months ago during one of our weekly reviews of used building materials on Craigslist I spotted some outdoor tile that mimic'd the look of stacked sand-colored fieldstone that had a wonderfully retro style. That's how I met the artist Lisa Kasprzycki. She was selling the tile that she got from a contractor friend. She admired the mid-century aesthetic of the tile and planned on using them herself but never had the time.

I contacted her expressing my interest in the tile. Turned out, her truck was on the mend. She asked if I could pick her up then drive up to her painting studio in the old Pauwela Cannery to see the tile and decide if I wanted to buy them. On the way to the studio we talked about the fact that she had just put the finishing touches on a painting she submitted to Art Maui, the annual juried art show at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. She described the painting to me and how she had struggled with the image, how it wasn't really representative of her style. It was a treat to see her work. Richly layered, naturally dark tones distressed and textured. I told her it reminded me of Diebenkorn and she confirmed that he is one of her favorite artists. While there, she showed me a picture of the piece she submitted to the competition. I understood her dilemma. The piece was figurative and narrative where as most of the work I saw in the studio was more abstract and loose.

We talked about her background a bit. She grew up in California and Lahaina, her dad is an artist here on Maui, and her mom was fond of Scandinavian design. She also had a semester or two at the School of Visual Arts in NYC whose painting studios I happened to live across from at one point.

Anyway, cut to about two months later, Conn, new-found dear friend Deb, and I check out the Art Maui exhibit. As we wander and take in the many pieces of art created by local artists, we turned a corner and I gasped. There was her painting--rather large and stunning in it's sparkly, sereneness. If you watch the video on the Art Maui webpage, the interview with the local art teacher takes place in front of the painting. Also, you can see all the works featured in the show here.

In the course of our emails back and forth, this was a PS, I love her description:

here's an image to enjoy; they are the endangered Hawaiian Tree Snails, which are said to make a sweet whistling sound in the trees, and which people on horseback used to pluck off leaves like little jewels as they rode through the native forest.


We had been experiencing some unusually still and cloudless days earlier this week so we shifted into high gear with our contractor and electrician to get our solar panels reinstalled on the roof.
Here we see the 2 arrays laying flat, our contractor Todd and 2 helpers (Matt and Max) set about freeing them from the temporary base I created back in May.

There are no pics of the roof hoisting of this 10 panel array because all hands were needed to lift it up into place! Here we see Todd, Hernan (the electrician) and Max getting it all bolted down.

Matt was there too but he was under the array tightening screws at the base.

Here's an action shot of Max making his way down the line tightening the bolts and screws.

The second array was easier to re-install because the support rails were broken up into 2, 5-panel sections. Here's Matt's backside (sorry Matt!) Max, Todd and Hernan once again bolting it down and securing it against our strong winds.

We did help. Really we did! I pointed and Conn took photos. ; )

Here the guys are troubleshooting a tricky connection on the last set of 5 panels.

Then Conn and I took over erasing all trace of the lawn solar takeover. Here's the spot where they sat for 4 months. In another 3 weeks or so, the grass will recover. I am so relieved to finally have them off the lawn. They were getting very dirty from all the dust and dirt and also it was a pain to trim the grass around and under them. Also, it was good to get rid of all conduit going hither and thither.

Hernan had to come back the next day to hook the panels back up into our system. Here we see just his foot hanging off the edge of the roof. We had been charging the batteries with the generator which got old very quickly (the noise, the gas, the annoyance). It was late in the day yesterday when he made the final connection and our power meter jumped up to 100 percent. whoo-hoo! He fixed some suspicious wiring on five of the panels which he guessed was decreasing our efficiency by about 20 percent... we'll see how we make out today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Did you all think we forgot about you? We're still here, but we have barely had time to think about posting any of the oodles of images we have been snapping up.

Last week we got the insulation in, the sheet rock up and it's being skimmed as you read this. It makes such a difference having white walls in place of the yellow wood. We can now get a feel for each room... although we can't walk through walls like we used to and we are now taking the actual traffic patterns, both inside and out rather than shortcuts that we were getting used to. By being forced to actually walk around the structure rather than through it, it is forcing us to now think about the landscaping and what we can and can't plant in certain areas that we will be using as walkways.

Here are a few pics of the process and new ones of the skimmed walls, stair rails, battery box and re-location of the solar panels will be added soon. The solar panels get re-located tomorrow and we are ready for some heavy lifting.

Stay tuned...



The insulation is a bit of a hodge podge, but we got it on Craigslist + from a friend for free.
We did not insulate every single wall. Only the south and west walls that take the harshest and warmest effects of the sun. The yellow and pink wall above is the only interior wall that is insulated and that is because it is the wall that is dividing the workroom from the utility room. We hope it cuts down on the noise from the water pump, inverter and charge controller for the solar power conversion. The silver foil back insulation is only on the ceiling to keep the heat out.

Future home of the red laminate desk along the back wall.
Did we mention the AMAZING DESKTOPS YET? Pics coming soon.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Well.... technically it's our Photovoltaic System but that doesn't sound as nice. Please to enjoy our latest baby step in completing our studio/office: a diagram of how we make our own electricity. Unbeknownst to us or our electrician, our solar electric system was not permitted with Maui county. It's a long convoluted story, but there you have it. The electrician who originally installed the system (about 5 years ago) never filed a permit to do so. There was a bit of fuss last week when we were told we were going to be fined, shut down and that we'd have to apply and pay for a new permit. Talk about drama. yeeesh. And, to make it even more aggrevating, the county just raised the fee for PV permits this year.

Our electrician dutifully drew up some plans (literally with a pen and paper) outlining our system specs and took them to the county office. But he was turned away, laughed at, made a mockery of, etc... So he remembered we were graphics guys and asked if we could draw up some fancy plans on the computer. Three hours later, we created what you see above (click it to see the larger version) I called him yesterday to find out how it went and he said they practically applauded. Problem solved.

I don't really mind having to jump through these hoops, it just should have been done already--like when it was installed. I could see why the county needs these specs for systems that back-feed to the grid. But in our case, being that we are a stand-alone system, I don't see the value in them spending their time and resources. Especially, since we knew we were going to be responsible for our own electricity as stated in our deed so we have no legal right to hold the county responsible for anything that happens in regard to our electric (or our water-catchment system). But thankfully, it's done. And on the bright side, we now have a detailed illustration of how our system works... and how we get by on only 1500 watts is a small miracle.