Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The crescent moon through the trees outside our front windows. There's snow on the ground and coating the trees now, and at night even a quarter moon makes everything luminous. We've got almost all our Christmas shopping done, and we know what we want to get for any gifts remaining to be bought.

We're having my side of the family here this year. Except for my younger daughter and her boyfriend, none of them has seen the house completed--in fact the last time they were here it was a cold, empty shell with six months of construction still to go. My elder daughter, son in law and granddaughter will not be coming east from Oregon this year, what with the new baby and search for a house to buy. But we'll be ten of us all together on the 26th and 27th and I think we'll have a very good time.

There's a very eccentric Christmas tree on the property. Fritz has been growing his own for long before I came into his life; this one has grown out of the stump left after he cut the original tree for a Christmas many years ago. We've had our eye on it for years, with the thought to doing something extremely unconventional with it. It will be something of an engineering feat, but if we can pull it off it will be sensational. A challenge is something I rise to like a wolf to red meat. I'm not sure when we'll cut it down, bring it up here to the house and start the process but it will be fully documented here.

A heavy frost on the edge of the "cliff" just behind the house. The cement blocks of the first of the three vegetable garden terraces are visible at the very top of the frame.

Most evenings Starr settles down somewhere on Fritz's legs. Usually he has them stretched out on a footstool and she gets herself comfortable securely in the crack between his legs and goes to sleep. This night he was reading on the couch. A pile of Robert Sabuda's magnificently paper-engineered pop up books is on the coffee table in the background.

Do check out Sabuda's work if you don't know it. A gay artist who works out of a studio in Brooklyn, New York, his work is dazzling and makes excellent gifts. I'll post some examples soon.

The largest and prettiest of our several woodpeckers, affectionately nicknamed Big Red, at the suet block.

With the coming of winter, I've been doing more indoor projects. For a while we've needed some more CD/DVD/video tape storage. I wanted something that wasn't a conventional rack, something more architectural and interesting, to flank one of the the corner hutches in the great room. Here's the first one--I start the second today. They're made of red oak scrap left over from the construction of the staircase to the second floor and the bookshelves set into the wall next to them.

Speaking of furniture, here's a lovely tribute to the original bent wood chair design written by Gavin Plumley.

150 years ago, Michael Thonet perfected Konsumstuhl Nr.14. Having begun in the 1830s by bending a gluing wood to make functional yet beautiful furtniture, the Gebrüder Thonet makers perfected this unique design. The chair was made in huge numbers (over 50 million replicas) and filled the kaffeehausen of Thonet's native Vienna. In addition to its streamline beauty, the distribution of the chair was equally ingenious. 36 disassembled chairs including their screws could be packed in a single box (with a volume of one cubic meter) and then shipped across the world. They were assembled on arrival. Thonet is considered a pioneer of industrial design and the chair no. 14 - today 214 - the most successful industrial product in the world: it established the starting point for the history of modern furniture.

Gavin's a young English musicologist who specializes in symphony music, art song and opera of the early twentieth century centered in Vienna. As much of what I've been listening to and buying for the last decade or so comes out of that same time and place, we've been corresponding happily via our blogs for a couple of years.

Gavin's blog is titled Entartete Musik, the Nazi term "degenerate music," which they banned and whose composers they did their best to destroy. But Gavin's interests extend to the art, architecture, cuisine and café life that surrounded and interacted with the great music of the period. last weekend at the Metropolitan Opera, I was delighted to find that the major program note for Janacek's opera From the House of the Dead, adapted from Dostoevsky's novel, was by Gavin.

This is inspired lunacy. I have no idea how stable it is, and I bet the aerodynamics are truly bizarre. But what a delightfully over the top thing this is!

This speaks for itself!

I can't imagine how quiet and cold and serene it must be up there. With the breeze through the leafless trees. Super fantastic!
I agree with A. Lewis. I've read A Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton, and it seemed the same...so quiet. I loved it.

I like your shelves. I just was introduced to a Brazilian blog called Rosenbaum's Design...the link is under the Blogs I Check a Lot section on my blog. You should check it out.
I love the bookshelves. And the chair. and the shoe. I'll bet you're right about the aerodynamics being a little crazy. Wow. But neat stuff. Very interesting.
i'll be very interested to see how a theatrical designer does christmas in new england.

and chair fetishist that i am, i've always had a soft spot for thonet.
Thanks for the update.
The property looks beautiful with the frost.
Lovely picture of the bird. I appreciate that we both love the critters... speaking of which- love Starr on d=daddy's lap.
I am excited to start collecting Sabuda's work. I only have 1 so far.
Thanks for turning me on to Gavin's blog!

I would love to see your estate sometime... it seems like a good setting for Uncle Vanya.

Hugs to you & yours.
Stephen, Vanya is my very favorite Chekhov--I've been fortunate to have designed it twice. Then Cherry Orchard--also twice--especially the one where I designed lights as well. Act two is a 27 minute continuous sunset from late afternoon to twilight--great fun.

Three Sisters has eluded me so far, but I have two Seagulls and several of the one acts on the resume. He's a great gift to a designer.
Thank you for mentioning Sabuda's work. I looked him up and ordered three of his books for Christmas presents and I bought one for myself.
Sylvia--delighted you liked his work. Perhaps I should hit him up for a commission! :-) I will be photographing a few examples for the next post.
Wait, were you at the Dec 5 matinee of house of the dead also? Would love to hear your perspective on the production/staging...the music was wonderful and fascinating, of course, but I'm sort of torn on the Chereau production. Definitely loved moments (i.e. the inspired garbage drop thing) but at times felt like it could have been more...

Love that cat...what a great face!

I'm looking forward to an update on that tree. I'm sure you'll do something interesting with it.
Lovely phots. Your holiday season sounds very cozy and relaxing. Enjoy.
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