Friday, February 24, 2012


We're in Wisconsin. Snow is an inevitable part of winter and as far as I knew the middle of February was considered to be right in the heart of winter. One would think there would be an abundance of snow now, not so. Over twenty truckloads of snow needed to be shipped in to cover the inside lanes of the Capitol Square for Madison's annual Winter Festival. Forty-five degrees in February didn't exactly set the right tone for the Frosty 5K, the tubing slide or the Frozen Assets fundraiser we went to last Saturday night, but we still managed to have a terrific time.
From the bar boys with their bare chests painted silver to the dj perched above the revelers in Graze's huge main dining room, the evening was packed with people with a philanthropic purpose sipping drinks from death's door and munching on mini shrimp cocktails and sliders with a bite.
The purpose of the fundraising was to insure that Madison's greatest asset, its lakes, would be brought back to their recreational level of decades before when they were lined with beaches where residents and guests could splash around without the fear of having jumped into a sea of contamination.
Here's a link to the Clean Lakes Alliance: Check out their site for information on what they are doing to clean up Dane County's lakes. Please consider joining the cause with a donation of money or time.

I for one value my privacy. When we lived in New York we were considering purchasing an amazing apartment in the Cass Gilbert building named after its famous architect. We fell in love with the apartment the minute we walked in. I tend to judge a place by its moldings. If I walk in and see cheap two-inch bull-nosed strips running around the lower perimeter of a room I'm quick to judge. For me, this is an indication of cheap construction hiding more serious long-term concerns. If the baseboards are puny the red flag goes up about what's hidden in the walls: cheap substructure, bad electrical and plumbing that's going to start leaking the minute I sign the sale agreement. This apartment had beautiful millwork. Rick and I were sold on everything about this place...except for one little thing. The whole northern wall was a bank of gorgeous windows. This shouldn't be a bad thing, especially in New York. My only problem was that one of these huge windows happened to be the wall of the master bath, specifically the shower wall.  I'm no prude, but I do have a modesty limit and bathing for an audience was too far over the line for me. A mere street width separated us from a twenty-story office building with big windows and aisles of office workers sitting at their desks with a direct view into our shower. Rick was okay with this. Go figure. His philosophy was that the window steamed up in minutes of having turned the shower on and if those office workers didn't want to look at him in the shower they could pull down their blinds or look the other way. I, on the other hand, felt that the time between steaming up that window and standing there in my birthday suit was two minutes too long and just maybe those office workers didn't want to be subjected to a middle-aged man scrubbing his junk as they sipped their Chock Full o'Nuts morning cup of java.
The debate to purchase went on about the amount of time it took for the window to steam over. We ended up buying the place but only on the condition that we bought a curtain too. I closed it for my showers, you'll have to ask Rick what he did for his.
Here are some other places where the fish swim for everyone else to see.
You can rent this spectacular home in London's Hampstead Village. Architect, Paxton Locher, has integrated remote controlled roof panels, luxurious white surfaces, glass panels and water elements in this contemporary getaway. The focal point of the home is its central forty-foot tall entry with a glass-enclosed swimming pool running the length of the room. The effect of the aqua water running waste high adds an element of intrigue to the room where the legs of swimmers flutter at your shoulders while you sit in amazement at their Olympian antics.
Here's to another Wisconsin designer who doesn't mind letting it all hang out. Trained in Wisconsin but moved to the outskirts of Phoenix, Matthew Trzebiatowski and his wife, whose maiden name I hope wasn't something like Smith or Jones, built their home/office, Xeros, on an open corner in the stylish suburb of Sunnyslope. The uppermost floor of their three story structure offers a glass walled window into their world, a window that appears to be right into their bedroom. It kind of reminds me of an outdoor movie screen where you could drive by and sneak a peek at a slightly naughty show. This may be the new alternative to reality TV where homes are given a glass wall and everyone drives around sneaking looks into the lives of our neighbors.
What happens when you mix an icy idea with H2O? You get the Zendome, a geodesic igloo with  a tranquility quotient and a big open window to the world. The dome is shipped to your site in a big box with 161 powder coated poles, hexagonal joint pieces and an all weather Ferrari-material skin that can keep out the cold or float on top of the water like a big semi-spherical ice cube. It's kinda cool but with an opening price taf of $18,500 I think I'd rather have a nice little electric car rather than a big kid's expensive tent.
There is a billion dollar business in exotic fish and their aquatic homes. Ranging from those tiny bowls you can win at a carnival by tossing ping-pong balls into them to palatial 100-gallon digs installed in the walls at fabulously wealthy doctor's offices. I've landed on one that I think Salvador Dali must have inspired. Designed by Psalt Designs, the bowl is made of hand-blown glass and counter-weighted to keep its water bead shape from slipping off the ledge of a shelf. Here's a fishbowl that's really for fish. I'm not going to get into the animal rights controversy here, trapping a poor little fish in a half gallon of water without much of anything to do and no room for a companion, but the aesthetics here are pretty powerful and since our signature color is orange it would be hard for us to pass up a couple of these little bowls.
Now for people who want to experience life as fish here's a bowl where you can swim and be seen suspended over the ocean where real fish swim. It's a reversal of roles with humans on display for the fish to see and wonder about how beautiful those humans look swimming around in neon colored suits their long legs fluttering through the aqua blue liquid of an aquatic home.

Weeki Waachee Spring, Florida, 1947
Toni Frissell, photographer
Represented by Staley-Wise Gallery, NYC

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