Saturday, August 20, 2011

 
Oh, the time has gotten away from me.  I'd meant to post earlier in the week but things are super-busy right now.  Once again Fritz and I are hosting a Body Electric School weekend program, this one devoted to Tantra for men.  Tantra is a relatively new offering for Body Electric, although elements of it are integrated into the basic BE philosophy and practice.  So far things are going very well -- we're cooking and cleaning for everyone (seventeen in all) and while it's humid, the debilitating heat of July is not with us now.

The big project for me is building and painting the set pieces and props for the fall production by our opera company, Intermezzo.  The work is Rocket's Red Blare, a political satire in the guise of a children's storybook.  It was written twenty five or so years ago by James Yannatos, for three decades the conductor of the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra.  There was a staged student production shortly after the score was completed, but Intermezzo will be giving the first professional staged performances at Radcliffe's historic Agassiz Theater on the 23rd and 24th of September. 

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I have a personal art project that is approaching completion.  There is a swale behind the house, a twelve foot or so wide bed of gravel about six feet deep that allows all the water that drains from the roofs at the back of the house and all the water that drains down from the hillside to percolate down and be carried by big pipe drains under the house to prevent any flooding.  The question was, what to do with this space.

A good friend of ours, a nurseryman and landscape designer suggested something like a Japanese Zen Garden, not with raked sand but with recycled Landscape Glass nuggets as water.  He proposed a stream flowing the length of the swale with "islands" in it that could be planted with bulbs or miniature plants.  I loved the idea and developed it further based on the Japanese Inland Sea.  The glass nuggets, which will be blue in a mix of shades, will arrive in about five weeks.  When an inch or so layer of the glass is in place, sparkling in the sunlight, the effect should be very beautiful.  Here are three preview shots:
 
I have defined the "shore" of the stream in the rock that is so abundant on the property first because this is New England, but principally because it was necessary to blast into the ledge that lies just below the surface of the land to build the house and set it into the earth on three sides of the first floor.  The centerpiece of this first section is a version of the famous Married Rocks that rise from the waters off the Japanese coast and which had stood there together for so many centuries that the Japanese decided they should be officially married with symbolic red ropes linking them forever.

THE HUSBAND AND WIFE ROCKS OF FUTAMI --  "Meoto Iwa" in Old Japan

An antique, hand-colored photograph of the original "Husband and Wife Rocks of Futami."

A little further on is an island that is topped by a stupa or shrine containing sacred items.  I made the stupa from some hundred year-old cast iron parts -- the bell-shaped base is an inverted part of a chandelier that held the light socket, and the spire is a finial from an old iron fence.  The soil on all the islands will be planted with winter-hardy succulents in several varieties.  The narrow part of the stream in the upper right corner is a rapids that runs under the bridge from the second floor of the house to the hillside.

Another, larger island connected to the shore by a rocky neck, with a steep peak in the center.  This too will be planted as will the little point of land at the top just left of center.

Pictures of the completed project will be posted in late September.

Comments:
I have always been drawn to stones and rocks. No doubt because of my name. It is well with Rocks.
 
Love the rock garden. I've always been partial to some good hard-scaping.
 
Dude, these rock sculptures are awesome. I want to do some in my backyard.
 
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