Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our concrete guys took both Monday and Tuesday off for the Veterans Day Holiday but returned very early yesterday to finish the forms.

Before I knew it, a cement truck was coming up the hill and the pouring began. Today they removed the forms from the hardened concrete, cleaned up, and put a coat of masonry sealer on the finished work.

Fritz had envisioned, a zig-zag approach to the front of the house that would have visitors facing different parts of it as they walked up the rise, eventually confronting the facade of the great room head-on before turning to the right and arriving at the front door. I'd always liked the idea but when I stood downhill of the house and completed walks this morning, I loved the dynamic angles of the walk against the more serene geometry of the building.

Pouring the walks was the last job for which we needed a sub-contractor. All major construction is now completed! With the spring will come another flurry of exterior landscaping and garden activity.

The west side of the house with one of the two new firewood racks I built from sub-contractor leavings. The base is a stone delivery pallet; the sides are pressure-treated 2x stock, scrap from the construction of the bridge that spans from the rear of the house to the cliff. A bit of the shed can be seen down the hill.


Another strong indication of the new way our arts are being produced and experienced, edited from the New York Times:

The Music Is Classical, and the Bar Is Busy
Published: October 30, 2008

In some ways, it was a familiar New York scene: a crowd of people, mostly young, seated at tables in a no-frills, black-walled Greenwich Village music club on Wednesday night, sipping drinks and listening to a group playing its first set.

What was different was the music: the complete works for string quartet by the intensely complex modernist composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001), performed by the adventurous Jack Quartet. I never expected to hear these seldom-played pieces at a club on Bleecker Street.

That club is Le Poisson Rouge, which opened this summer on the site of the former Village Gate. It was founded by two musicians in their late 20s, Justin Kantor and David Handler, who met as students at the Manhattan School of Music. Exasperated with the straitlaced protocols of concertgoing, Mr. Kantor and Mr. Handler decided to open a club that would present an eclectic mix of programming, not just old and new works from the classical music tradition, but rock, jazz, world music and anything else that might entice people, especially young people, who are curious about out-there music and care little about labels. The club’s motto is “Serving Art & Alcohol.”

Le Poisson Rouge is following an essential programming principle: architecture is everything. If challenging music is presented in an inviting and informal space, the theory goes, then open-minded young audiences will show up, whether the music is Bach, Ligeti or the stylistically eclectic singer-songwriter Corey Dargel, who performed the second show on Wednesday night.

Clearly, what mattered to the musicians and audience at Le Poisson Rouge were the visceral energy, weird sound effects, raucous busyness, sometimes pensive beauty and often sheer craziness that, on the surface, can be found in Xenakis’s pieces for string quartet.

I’ll be back to hear more music, and to try the dessert I passed on this time: warm chocolate cookies with a White Russian for dipping.


Today's pictures from the trip take us from the southern to the northern European part of the vacation.

When we flew into Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport, I could see clusters of wind turbines rising from the waters of the Oresund. On our earlier visits, we’d been impressed by the number of turbines in the Danish countryside, and had visited an experimental village where real people, not just scientists and their research assistants, are living in houses built in a variety of materials, amounts of glazing, insulation, and architectural styles. Energy was being generated by wind and solar technology.

Fritz and I have always felt Denmark to be an astonishingly rational country, but the actual statistics are truly remarkable. It is mandated by law that 50% of the country’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030. In 2007, Denmark produced 19.7% of its electricity via wind turbine, the highest percentage of any country, without exception. Not alone that, since beginning its wind power industry in 1979, Denmark now produces 50% of all the wind power generation equipment used in the world. It reserves 10% of what it makes to build up its own clean generating capacity and sells the other 90% worldwide, creating jobs and providing a nice chunk of money for its balance of trade. This could have been the US, but the Reagan administration’s policy toward things environmental can be summed up as “rape the earth”, and Bozo spent the last eight years denying that global warming exists .

In the same year that Danes were producing one fifth of their electric needs with wind power, the United States made 0.6%--six tenths of one percent—of the electricity we need. The inane chant of “Drill, baby, drill!” from the Republican Convention came back to me when I researched these various figures, as did Bozo’s statements about “Old Europe” being tired, irrelevant and of no use to the United States.

Copenhagen's Round tower, built in the 17th century with an observatory at the top,

and a continuous spiral ramp so that horses could walk up the tower pulling their loads with them. The tower's library has been converted into an art gallery which was showing significant examples of marionette art from the country's puppet theaters

These two big, brawny--and anatomically correct--guys reminded me of the two giants in Wagner's Das Rheingold.

From a play on the trial and execution of Socrates.


This display was in a store window along The Stroget, gay-friendly Copenhagen's major elegant shopping street. I can't quite imagine anything like it in a window at Macy's or Nordstrom.

I love the new entry way to the house. I've been really enjoying all of your vacation pictures.
Fascinating puppet exhibit. They seem to be a blend of European and Indonesian puppet styles, not surprising given the number of years the Dutch ruled that area.
Sylvia--this is Denmark, not Amsterdam, which we visited later. But you're right about these puppets (some of which are life sized or more in some cases)--many of them do have strong Indonesian influences. This exhibit was one of those wonderful chance finds when you're far off the normal tourist track.

Doug, thanks. We were very excited when the guys finally showed up and we love the neatness and finish of their work. And my Christmas gift from Fritz this year is the services of an arborist to assist in planning and finding sources for plants that will thrive with the somewhat harsh soil conditions we have here.
I love the zig zag walk. That last shot might work here. Or at least it's possible here.
i can imagine that in my store window.
I love love love the puppets!
That rich brown of the concrete is gorgeous. Is it just because it's wet? Will it be so rich and saturated after curing?

The zigzag approach somehow is the alpine equivalent of something i once saw in the Jardin Japonais Montreal.

Gee i love the internet.
Congratulations on finishing this last sub-contracted piece of the house. Watching it all unfold on here, I've enjoyed seeing all of the special touches you put on the house to make it truly unique. That's how every house should be. It's what we tried for here, but I feel like you've outdone us by miles!

As for the GOP stupidity and contempt for Europe, there's plenty we can learn from Europe. Of course, the modern GOP has come to revel in ignorance. Just look at Palin, their VP nominee who didn't know that Africa is a continent. How pathetic is the whole affair? In any case, I think the Europeans can learn things from us (we still have plenty to offer), and we can learn from them (as they have plenty to offer, too). Of course, that takes an open mind and intelligence. Hopefully, we're seeing that kind of leadership taking the reins with the new Administration.
Your home looks absolutely beautiful! I love seeing the pictures along the journey of things being done. And the display in the window is simply brilliant!!!
Yea, but who can resist the clothes in the Burlington, MA Nordstrom either. They have some pretty awesome window displays even without the men in them.
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