Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twilight Pond

Photo: jamesxvi

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Axel Vervoordt Interview for German TV

I can't understand anything the interviewer asks, and while Mr. Vervoordt answers in English, the German translation audio dubbed over his voice makes it difficult to make out what he is saying most of the time. If I can translate the transcript, I will post a follow up with some quotes. You can watch the interview here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vervoordt r.e. Kanaal

I found an interesting site about a project by Belgium's Vervoordt family. I heard about this when I was living in Brussels in 2008, that Axel Vervoordt's son Dick was planning a development around the Kanaal complex, where the Axel Vervoordt company has their workshops and showrooms. This extensive site contains an explanation of the master plan and its inspiration, descriptions and floorplans of the properties that will be for sale, biographies of the architects and designers behind the project, information about the Vervoordt Foundation, dedicated to supporting the arts and preserving the Vervoordt collection, and probably much more. It is in Dutch, but I viewed the site in Google's Chrome browser, which did a pretty good job of translating to English.

I have been on hiatus for a while now, focusing on renovations at Garvinweasel, with lots of projects underway simultaneously... never really a good idea in my experience, but sometimes things just work out that way. I hope to post some new photos soon of the original floors stripped of a century and a half of coverings, including at least two coats of paint and two layers of carpet. This is one tough project, slow going, and I have a backup plan for new plank flooring should I just give up at some point, so wish me luck.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

French Lifestyle Blog - Two Maisons

Some of you know that I lived in France for a while in the nineties, and I sometimes dream about being an american in Paris again. Here's a link to a great lifestyle and design blog, Two Masions, by a lucky expat who lives in the south of France. She also has some great items for sale in the online shop.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

He Ain't Heavy

He may not be my brother, but I consider him a kindred spirit. My neighbor, and the former mayor of the country village where Garvinweasel sits on the map, is an artist of sorts. His eye for landscape contour, and his ability to sculpt the earth, captivated me today as I watched him work his magic.

The act of moving logs weighing several tons, some felled by the ice storm in January 2010, others felled by my chainsaw as part of a master plan that includes reforestation of much of the property, seemed effortless. I used to spend months shredding a tree stump by hand with my maul ax. He dug this one up in about ten minutes, then carefully filled the resulting crevice and sculpted the slope from which it was pulled the way a woman sculpts her cheek bones with a sable makeup brush.

Dudley, almost one year old, keeps a close eye on the work in progress from his perch on top of the dogloo,  an igloo style dog house made mostly with hay bales. You can see other hay bale uses here. If you'd like to think about adopting Dudley, or another of the Garvinweasel rescue pack, please see my Blogger profile for my email address.

You can see here that there is still much tree clean-up underway from the ice storm. My tree crew estimated the resulting work to weigh in at close to one hundred tons. I'm doing much of it myself, and after a long day wielding a chainsaw, or loading my truck with crown wood debris, I generally take a long, hot soak in the tub, which is why I was delighted to find this great post on making bath salts on one of my favorite blogs, linen and lavender.

I should be wearing a hard hat in this picture, under a fallen pecan tree, which stood over sixty feet tall with an equal crown spread. I'm thinking these limbs might be a start for my own Wabi hut. I plan to dig a small pond  in the field seen over my shoulder here, surround it with pine seedlings, and such a structure overlooking the pond may be somewhere on my time horizon.

I spent ten hours working outside today. I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine, put on my Yoga One cd (thanks again LeAnn), and get in the tub.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Zen and the Art of Axel Vervoordt

Here is a link to a great article about Axel Vervoordt, from the online edition of Art + Auction magazine.

The article mentions a Wabi hut on the grounds at 's-Gravenwezel, 'made of earth and fallen tree limbs'. I am fascinated by this, especially considering the vast store of tree limbs still awaiting removal here, the result of a recent ice storm. If any of you have seen it, please let me know more about it.

Happy reading and good weekend.

p.s. I found a picture of the Wabi pavillion; it's in the slideshow that accompanies the article.

Photo by Laziz Hamani

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Requiem for a Tree

Let the trees be consulted before you take any action
every time you breathe in thank a tree
let tree roots crack parking lots at the world bank headquarters
let loggers be druids specially trained and rewarded
to sacrifice trees at auspicious times
let carpenters be master artisans
let lumber be treasured like gold
let chainsaws be played like saxophones
let soldiers on maneuvers plant trees 

give police and criminals a shovel
and a thousand seedlings
let businessmen carry pocketfuls of acorns
let newlyweds honeymoon in the woods
walk don't drive
stop reading newspapers
stop writing poetry
squat under a tree and tell stories.
-  John Wright

The ice storm last weekend brought with it the end for several grand trees at Garvinweasel. The pecan tree above was last seen in this post, where it was referred to in Jane's comment as 'slightly scary', which was what I loved about it. I spent one whole day outside with my chainsaw already this week, and have no idea when I will finish the work of cleaning up the remains of this and two other trees that were uprooted by the weight of the ice, along with a couple of other trees that lost major limbs. 
As Brian sang from the cross in the Monty Python film that bears his name, it's best if one can 'always look on the bright side of life'. On that note, perhaps I can turn the wood from these trees into a beautiful floor, something much needed at Garvinweasel.
I love these end-cut parquet from Atelier de Grange. I find their web site mesmerizing. At the least, I should produce several tons of firewood, which would be put to good use next winter. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

For Sale

At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.
- Robin Lee Graham

True, perhaps, but for those who have yet to learn this lesson, there are boats like the Vent d'Est, with interiors by Axel Vervoordt, offered for 11,750,000 euros. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I, Blogger

Self-portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat

The lovely Borjana Eghbalian of the blog Green and Stylish has tagged me for the Kreativ Blogger award, which requires me to reveal 7 things about myself in this post and pass the award on to 7 bloggers that I admire (and secretly want to know more about) and then leave a post on their blogs to let them know. I will also proudly display the Kreativ Blogger award image. Thank you Borjana!

So, about me..

Image here
1. As a child, I fell in love with an abandoned, octagonal house (with remnants of a wrap-around porch) seen at some distance from the road on trips to visit my grandparents. I wanted this abandoned house to be mine, to rescue it, bring it back to life, but my parents would never stop to let me go explore it. This is certainly a clue as to why I am here now, at Garvinweasel.

2. I like to write and sketch ideas and images in a Moleskin carnet with my Lamy Safari fountain pen, black ink. I have a sketch of the four acre garden plan for Garvinweasel in my current book, along with some information architecture and cloud computing diagrams with notes on predictive analytics algorithms.

3. I am incomprehensibly crazy about the nine dogs that live at Garvinweasel (Lady, Bigfoot, Daisy, Bear, Penny, Beatle, Missy, Dudley and Lucy). We have fostered twenty-five dogs over the past four years.

4. I like to read. I found a pre-publication copy of Susan Minot's first book, "Lust", in a loft I once rented on Grand Street (in New York's Soho), left there by the previous tenant, who seemed to have moved out in a hurry. I mailed the book once from Paris to girl in Seattle, along with, for some reason, a tie from Barneys NYC. She returned the book, but I can't find it now, and I sometimes miss my tie.

5. Once a month, usually on a Saturday, I drive my '67 Ford pickup to town and get my haircut in the old barbershop on the town square, across from the courthouse. Sitting in that barber chair within the tobacco smoke-stained walls, warm shaving foam around my ears and on my neck, the smell of Barbicide in the air, I feel like I have been given a Valium IV and dropped into the set of a grainy movie adaptation of a southern gothic novel.  If I was very rich, I would buy a big painting by Basquiat every March at the fair in Maastricht, and I would get a haircut and hot-shave in this barber shop every Saturday.

 Photo of Joni Mitchell by Jack Robinson 1969

6. I like to listen to the music of Hildegard Von Bingen, Miles Davis, Radiohead, Brian Eno, Joni Mitchell and Iggy Pop (from whom I have a hand-written letter, but that's another post). I usually listen on, but if no music is available, I can hum Mozart's "Requiem".

7. My personal style is basically white linen or cotton shirts, hand-made cuff-links, vintage Rolex Air-King, my French muck boots (Le Chameau), khakis or Levi's and a hint of Hermès Bel Ami.
    My blogger tags...

    I pass the Kreativ Blogger award to these 7 bloggers in appreciation:

    Wendy at Little Chapel on the River
    Jane at My Pear Tree House
    LeAnn at Linen and Lavender
    David at The Neo Lifestyle
    Desiree at Vosges Paris
    Shawn at Country French Antiques
    Julie at The Provence Post

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    A Green and Stylish Thank You!

    Checking my email this morning, I was surprised and delighted to find that I have been tagged, by Borjana of the wonderful 'Green and Stylish' blog, with the Kreativ Blogger award. Seeing Borjana's lovely wellies in her post, I decided to set up a quick shot of my own (Le Chameau 'Country Walkers'), with some of the Garvinweasel pack and their green and stylish winter house providing an appropriate background. If I am at home, it is most likely these boots are on my feet, and I took them off for a few minutes this morning to snap this picture (some of you may recognize the hay bales from an earlier post). Thank you Borjana... I will return with my list of personal revelations and blogger tags in the next day or two.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Garden Journal

    The groves were God's first temples.  
    ~William Cullen Bryant, "A Forest Hymn"

    Thomas Jefferson kept a garden journal for sixty years. I've been meaning to start one for the past four. Not that I've done much in the garden. I sometimes spend an entire weekend picking up sticks and branches, and though it is a necessary task, it hardly seems worth writing down.  I find the time I spend outdoors doing these seemingly menial or trivial tasks actually provide a space in time that is otherwise difficult to find in the everyday sense. 

    I enjoy being out there with the birds and the dogs, and I am constantly looking around the property while performing needed chores, dreaming about what I could do here or there, envisioning a pond or an orchard, a vineyard or a hedgerow. My perspective on much around gardening and property management has changed. I used to rake leaves; now I am gathering raw material for organic compost, for use in a future kitchen garden. My compost heap is several hundred cubic feet, and will eventually yield a ton or more of the stuff each year.

    Someone gave me a $50 Visa gift card as a Christmas gift, and I will use it to order 500 pine tree seedlings from the state's forestry service today, for delivery in February. I will soon learn something about tree planting, and plan to capture some reflections of the experience and post some images here.

    Image: here