Wednesday, December 29, 2004


for anyone interested and looking for information, seems like a good resource to concerned citizens wanting to help with relief efforts (jen and teddie, you rock!)
we've received a few concerned emails, so i wanted to let y'all know that we're alive and well (except for a bit of flu or food poisoning) in goa, where the effects of the tsunami were fairly minimal. we were actually in the ocean around 2 ish when the water cooled off suddenly and a current came up parallel to the beach fairly strongly and moved us a little ways down - nothing too freaky at the time. it just as suddenly switched directions a few minutes later and our friend rajeev came out to say hi and mentioned that a few waves had come much further up the beach than any others and had them scrambling out of the way. it got strangely choppy and deep as the waves came in - when we got to shore someone said that there had been a huge earthquake in sumatra, someone else sai bangladesh, etc.. when we got to the flat we're staying in across from a river, all the neighbors were gathered by their bamboo dock and we noticed that the normally calm water was rushing in at great speeds and higher than usual. the locals said that they'd never seen anything like it, even in monsoon, and that people were catching fish by the bucketloads. the water rumbled by, then stopped and got quiet and reversed direction just as fast - it seemed to drop impossibly fast. for the rest of the evening while we were awake and checking news on our laptops the water would switch directions every half hour or so and go from almost overflowing to near empty. fortunately, though beach shacks were flooded and boats got a bit banged up, no one seems to have been hurt in goa - 4 kids got washed in at the beach we'd been at by another freak wave later in the day but a foriegn tourist and indian policeman on vacation saved them. much much luckier than those down south and closer to the epicenter. anyway, i'm sure everyone sees the papers and knows whats going on as well as we do.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

weaverbird nests

weavernests, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

a closer look at the nests of the weaver bird....

Sunday, December 19, 2004

pretty truck

truck, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

this one isn't as decorated as some but is still quite pretty, i think. from what i understand they get more and more ornate as you go north. Andy says the ones in Pakistan are amazing - attached carved altars and panels and lots of hanging chains, etc..

india is great

india is great, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

an example of the painting that's done on the trucks - most are bright colors with 'horn OK please' painted on the back in large letters (sometimes so stylized it's hard to read, with palm trees and waterfalls painted inside the letters) and 'stop' painted over the left side rear light, sometimes actually OVER the light so that if it's a working brake light you'd never know. eyes are painted on gas cap covers, devil-like 'evil guy' faces are painted on to scare away other evil guys, small painted chains are hung in rows from the bumpers to create a jingling fringe, doors have stamped tin panels with scenes and gods on them....

steel truck

steel truck, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

this little truck carried all the steel for our balcony railing - kinda like the workers, small but deceptively strong.

Friday, December 17, 2004

weaverbird tree

weaverbird tree, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

i haven't yet seen a weaverbird that i'm aware of - though i've seen drongos, hoopoes, mynas, bee eaters, egrets, green parakeets, and kingfishers - but we found a tree full of their nests. they weave them out of grasses so that they have a long tube at the top and a cozy little basket hanging beneath and are about a foot or more long. here's our weaverbird tree next to the pond and above a tomato and pepper garden minded by some villagers near the winery.


dragonfly, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

you can tell who has ahold of the internet connection when all the animal pics appear... we escaped from the winery grounds for a little hike last week and walked around a nearby pond admiring water buffalo submerged but for their noses, goats and their herders, weaver bird nests, etc.. the air in nasik is filled with dragonflies right now, swarms of them all pointing the same direction in the breeze as they hover in the vineyards and birds swoop down from electrical wires to catch them.
the winery construction crew members are all pretty amused by my interactions with animals, whether it's playing with the half wild puppies that live by their shacks, taking the covers off the landscaping lights at night so they shine up in the trees and i can see the bats, taking pictures of bugs and stopping to watch birds..... but then, all i have to do is walk by to make them laugh, so i'm not too worried about ruining my reputation.


toad, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

i'm so proud of this picture. this guy (who may very well be the one that peed on me when i picked him up, maybe that explains the slight menace in his eye...) was sitting on the steps of the bungalow in nasik one night when i walked back from the winery. i thought the flash would scare him off but i had to push him off the step after the photoshoot so no one would step on him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

frowny kids

frowny kids, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

here's the frowny dairy kids. we tried to show them their picture on the camera but they wouldn't even look, just kept staring straight at us with no change in facial expression. hmm. at least we didnt scare them too much.

the one who loves me

buffalo, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

maybe not best, but this water buffalo took a shine to me recently. We were checking out the front of the winery to think about ways to landscape the entry when the guys at the water buffalo milking farm across the dirt road starting talking to us over the fence. Maybe talking at, around, up and down is more like it since we no speaka da language. Since we weren't really sure what they wanted, but they seemed friendly and we were looking for something to do, we walked into water buffalo land. Those dudes (ettes) are big and shiny and goofy. The guy who called us in came out to greet us and led us into a milking shed. We walked past this character here and laureL said this girl was checking me out. I looked back and sure enough, she was. She was even drooling a little. Very flattering. As we were taking pictures of the guy milking his water buffalo, I kept looking back. You know how it is when you think someone is checking you out so you keep looking to see if they are or not which only encourages them more because they think you are looking at them? Yeah. Like that. So finally, feeling slightly uncomfortable, we took her photo and the photo of the two little dirt faced kids who were staring at us with that mixture of awe and fear usually reserved for martians and got back to work. . . and you should too.


windows, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

cement doesn't have the same permanence here - everything is made of it because wood is so scarce- and labor is cheapcheapcheap. in other parts of the winery they've built , torn down, and rebuilt walls 6 or so times. so we dont feel too bad when we make trouble (which we do every day) and suggest a few extra windows in the offices to let in the gorgeous views. now they've gone window mad, the response was so positive, and this man is knocking another hole into the wall in the future pantry.

the magnificent mustache

mustache, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

a man we think of as 'the magnificent mustache' captured at last in digital format. his job seems to be involved in smoking suspicious looking cigarettes, thoughtfully stroking that impressive 'stache, and smiling at the girls carrying rocks on their heads. not such a bad life....

room with a view

room, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

putting together cabinets for behind the bar.....

Monday, December 13, 2004

Tasting room spiel

wall, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

okay. I'll begin a little design spiel that I may cut short for one of two reasons: dinner(I'm starving), or the battery runs out.

Alright, so the tasting room is a rather strange shape. The building was engineered before it was designed, meaning that it was already under construction before an architect was hired to carve out some more public space. As a result the building is built like a small brick building that one might defecate in (this is a paraphrasing of a colloquialism in an attempt to avoid swearing--which I, as you all know, detest), but in some places the ceilings are only 6 ft tall.

Anyway the tasting room is two long and narrow rooms that form a sort of 'L' shape opening onto a large balcony overlooking the vineyard. In order to minimize the impact of the wildly varying ceiling height and encourage people to move through the space and out onto the balcony, we created a series of strong horizontal elements. In the crystal palace that laureL mentioned, the horizontal element is a "swarm" of green glass boxes which wrap around the green glass walls and flow into this teak wall. The teak wall bends around the corner and leads out to the balcony. The wall breaks through a glass wall that intersects both the teak wall and the 34' glass tile mosaic bar. The teak wall has another "swarm" of white boxes with acid etched glass that cut through the wall. The boxes will have suspended bottles of wine with lights behind them that all point out towards the vineyard, creating another strong horizontal element leading you out to the beautiful out doors.

okay. gotta go. battery is dying and soup's on.

back hoe

everyones aworking, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

I think it's a back hoe. Anyway, that's what these folks are. I know we've said it before, but I'll say it again. It's all done by hand folks. These people are in the process of digging what will turn out to be a deep ass hole. The guys hack away with picks and assorted tools and the women load up the dirt and carry it away. Construction workers here may have it worse here in a many ways--toxic chemicals, hellish hours, few safety precautions--but they do get to work with lots of beautiful village women all day long. Funny you don't hear any whistles or cat calls and they all take tea and lunch together. Anyway this whole is now complete. It's about 12-15 feet deep. They are now building a stone retaining wall inside it and then pouring concrete around it to prevent the winery entry drive from sliding onto the lawn in front of the vineyards. It's all there in the picture. Can't you see it? Well it will be fairly soon.

The tasting room is supposed to be finished on the 24th of December and the official opening party(as of now) is January 22nd, 2005. We're going to head to Goa for the holidays, come back and supervise the construction of the lobby and the vintage wine gallery and then head out for a month of travel or so before returning to the good ol' USA.

Which reminds me of a little art project I've started on that I am inviting you all to join me in. Hairier men will likely have the best success. Shortly after George W. was re-elected I began daily collecting my belly button lint. At the end of the year I will divide all the lint into 3 glass containers to separate the red, white and blue lints (the only colors of belly button lint I ever seem to get). I think I'll call it "True American" or something just to prove that you can still be an american through and through even if you don't support Bush. Anyone who wants to join in and start saving their lint should join in. Maybe we could fill a whole room with it? Wouldn't that be exciting.

okay. NEXT!!!

glass guys

glass guys, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

here's the glass crew - they asked me to take their picture when i showed them the shots of them lifting the glass. the guy with the flute even played a little song.

glass lifting

glass downstairs, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

a small area for merchandising got added after we'd started the intial design, so we created what we've been referring to as 'the crystal palace.' basically its such a small area, and with a wierdly downsloping roof, that we decided to make it all out of green tinted glass to make it less claustrophobic and emphasize the translucence and sparkle of glasses and bottles sold within. even the shelves will be green glass now that we've found the right guy with the right optically clear adhesive to glue them directly to the glass walls. as you come up the stairs you'll see through the outside of the little room through varying thicknesses of glass, giving depth and color but still showing whatever is displayed from both sides. we were fortunate, after much searching and arguing that our idea IS possible, to find a guy right here in Nasik who was confidant and willing to do the job. here are some of his crew lifting the glass walls up to the next floor.

table saw, indian style

table saw, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

after supervising conservation crews and being a park ranger for the county government, i can be a bit of a stickler for safety regulations (YOU teach inner city youth to use chainsaws and see how you feel about safety gear!).
it's different here. i have yet to see a man with a jackhammer wearing so much as earplugs. i've seen men welding in casual sunglasses. no respirators are worn, or gloves, when applying toxic fixatives and finishes. eeeep. human life has different value when there are so many more poor waiting for the same job. one of the things we like about the contractor we've been working with is the respect he shows his men. the guy in this photo is the one who gets the hardest tasks lobbed his way and seems to be able to do just about anything with a few tools and his bare hands and feet. there's one little electric circular saw shared among the whole crew and here he is making creative use of it upside down as a converted table saw to cut long L shaped cabinet door pulls.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

one woman working

one woman, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

i swear i swear i swear these guys laugh and hint and flirt to get me to take their pictures, waggling their heads and making oddly signifigant seeming eye contact and making little motions at my camera and their faces - then i take the picture and all smiles are off. i always thought people looked stiff and unhappy in old photos because they had to pose so long but im starting to think that its just a reaction by people who dont see cameras often - or they saw the old photos, too, and think that they're supposed to make that face. as soon as i lower the camera they jump up and down and giggle and call their friends over to see the little digital image. maybe i should have andy off to the side take pictures of the process so that we can capture the elusive indian smile.

its time to play find the iguana

find the iguana, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

little iguanas are everywhere in nasik and anywhere, it seems, with enough green space. they seem to defy gravity at this size in a 'crouching tiger hidden dragon' in the bamboo tops kind of way.


box, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

toolbox complete with girlie sticker...

tasting room bar

bar and footrail, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

here's the inside end of our bar so far. it's entirely handcrafted - even the 34 foot long curved radius on the top edges is handcarved from solid timbers but damn close to perfect. when it's finished it'll be covered with small glass mosaic tiles that change in color as the bar goes through a glass wall to the outside deck and should smoothly curve into an epoxy floor.


puppy, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

there're a few dogs and three tiny puppies living near the shacks of the winery construction crew. i've taken to saving a bit of chapati for them after lunch. the families living in these shacks work on the main part of the new winery building and have been 'camped' there for 2 years or so, i think. most pictures we post of people working outside are with this crew. we work with a different crew hired from mumbai for the tastingroom, through a different contractor. our crew is all male and sleeps in the unfinished winery at night. some of them are very good problem solvers and carpenters once inspired and encouraged to maintain a strong level of detail and finish - we're very happy to work with them.