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Archive for July, 2011

If you have any plans to build or have something built in, or around your home or garden do yourself the priceless favor of getting “The Timeless Way of Building” and “A Pattern Language”, two companion books by Christopher Alexander and others.

In my many decades of studying, learning and building I have come across no books which compare in the utter wisdom these books contain for the building of just about anything having to do with home, garden and work space.

Though almost esoteric in tone, the books are ultimately practical. They teach how to build in such a way that the creation brings out the best in those who use the creation.

“A building or a town becomes alive when every pattern it is alive: when it allows each person in it, and each plant and animal, and every stream, and bridge, and wall and roof, and every human group and every road, to become alive in its own terms.

“And when that happens, the whole town reaches the state that individual people sometimes reach at their best and happiest moments, when they are most free.”

My old Victorian home has a covered front porch that was never attractive to use. I wanted to be out on the front porch but it wasn’t inviting. I read in “A Pattern Language” that for a porch to be used it needs to be a minimum of 6 ft. deep. The decking of the porch was exactly 6 ft. but the railing cut off 6 inches of that. I had the railing moved back to the edge, giving me 6 ft. and I use the porch almost everyday.

A Living Courtyard

The same depth of understanding is brought to every conceivable construction, from nooks in rooms, through passageways, courtyards, entries and  entire towns. No one should build without referencing these books.

The timeless way of building is designed to be read in one hour by reading the opening introduction of each chapter and then the italicized highlights dispersed throughout. You can then go back for more detail for any item of particular interest. If you want to build in such a way that what you construct will be used and will elevate all who do use it, get these books.

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After about a year of inactivity this blog is back in operation, probably with a new slant, or at least I won’t be publishing anything more on landscape design as after 35 years of designing gardens across the country and abroad I quit. I got sick of designing for people with more money than taste. I might go into that in more detail another time.

So I reinvented myself. I took up pottery and I make ceramic fountains. Indoor fountains, outdoor fountains and, my big seller, cat fountains. Might seem like a come down to go from designing million dollar gardens at $1000/day plus expenses to making little ceramic fountains that sell in the $70 to $200 range out of an Etsy store – but I like it. People like my fountains. I make what may be the best cat fountain in the world and I am not ashamed of that.

My previous profession - A small portion of a million dollar landscape in Naples and my new profession - a cat fountain

Beauty and Art? The art of living. The art of recreating oneself. The art of surviving in economic hard times. Yea. There is a lot of room for the concept of art in ones day to day living and in the concept of adjusting, adapting, recreating and making things work. Living. Life. It isn’t stagnant. A river flowing to an end and you have to ask yourself, knowing that you are going to end, to die – what matters? What is important? The answers to those questions, not asked in the brain but lived, leads, I begin to think, to the high art of living truly.

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