Saturday, August 17, 2019

Moongate Sonata

It was a full moon on the 15th of this month. It seemed appropriate to do an all-nighter, filming the moon rise and then slowly cross the sky, through the moongate we built recently during Moonstock on July 20th. 
The swiftly moving clouds help make this stop action film of night sky action quite dramatic, especially during this segment where the moon enters the middle of the screen. It was surprising too how bright the moon was that night. I hadn't thought to bring my moonglasses. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sun to Moon

Farley and I watched the sun fully go down yesterday through the empty moongate, as the evening light became more intense, and as the surrounding stone silhouette became more muted and subdued. 

It was visual poetry. The shape and presence of the huge 'mantle clock'- looking structure seemed impressively real in those closing moments. 

Nothing seemed rushed, or plastic. Nothing felt urgent. 

I thought, by contrast, of the energy it took to align all those tons of stones so carefully, and yet on time to finish exactly fifty years after the first moon landing. 

I was thinking not just about all the flat stones laid so energetically around the circle in the geometric radiating pattern, but the massive side shoulders, where a good number of people had clambered over the moongate for three days, toiling to add stone after stone, and thus together create the final structure, with the finale coinciding so perfectly with that memorably momentous moondate. That impressive structure is now a monument, a circular gateway arch, to peer at, and contemplate, the silent, still, peaceful energy of the moon. 

We were joined later by Brian, Georges and Reggie, in time to, and in hopes of, watching a 'nearly' (one night early) first full moon since the moongate was built, 24 days ago. We were fully expecting it to fully rise in the northeast sky last night, and so I had carefully aimed the time lapse camera in order to catch the arc of the moon travelling through ( or should I say across? ) the opening

To our surprise the moon rose much more south than we anticipated. The camera never got the sequence we were looking for. 
However, we will get that quintessential time lapse one evening, but it won't be this month. 

Nevertheless, with our iPhones in hand  we all gave it our best shot and wanna give you that best shot now, (below) cleverly taken by Georges, on Georges's iPhone,  with Reggie, our special effects technician, directing her iPhone in flashlight mode, for much needed inside back-lighting.

At one point in the evening, Brian and I discussed the fact that we revolve around the sun, and that similarly, the moon revolves around the earth. 

And so, in a certain light; we are the sun to the moon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

There’s a Drone Over the Moongate

Here is a short clip taken on Saturday afternoon July 20 of our nearly completed moongate, being built during our Moonstock Festival . Stay tuned. There will be more footage soon of the first full moon rising through the moongate, since we built it.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Sandcastle competition

Today we’re going to be participating in the sandcastle competition being held at the Cobourg beach. We have this idea to do a spiral staircase tower. Yes it’s true, its not actually dry stone construction , it’s wet stone. And sand particles are just very small stones. But it’s just water that holds the grains together. Not mortar. Come on down if you’re in the area and watch the tower being constructed.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Miniature Memories.

I’m back to building smaller moongates now. This one is to be a kind of moonglow replica, harking back to last weekend’s extravaganza , Moonstock . 
The scale of the two moongates differ but the spirit is the same.
If I had to put it into words ( and pause for a moment from making things with stone) , I’d say ...Creativity is a gift - Working with your hands, a treat - Remembering to have fun, a nice surprise - and exploring relationships, especially ours to stone, is a must.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Woodstock Moonstack

Radiating arrays of inertgalactic glacial granite stacked around the arc of campfire wood, intelligently stockpiled inside the moonscape circumference.

The stocks of wood create a temporary support of bio mass that, when taken away, allows the stones to appear to float in space, forming the full moon’s shape and a portal into the next 50 years.

PhaseGazers,hoping to see an opening in time thru which to keep up with  the moon'space.
GateKeepers, not losing the keys to the moon's circle of fifths that our hands are circumscribing. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Moongate Mission Accomplished

What a cool time we all had in the hot sun.  Thank you everyone . We couldn't have done it without without each and every one of you moon rockers.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Angle of reflection

We all were thinking with our hands yesterday, on the eve of the 50th year anniversary of the manned moon landing. It was very hot work. (More like working on a sungate)
Anyway,I think our stonework is beginning to reflect some of the momentousness of that historic occasion. 

It seems however, in the pic (sent back from space) that everyone has their own idea of what the final upper trajectory of the curve of the moongate should be.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Opening Act

It’s a marvellous site for a moongate 
I can’t wait for the moonburst surprise.

Thursday, July 18, 2019



StoneWalkers, stalking and stacking the moons'cape shape in radiating arrays of small earth’steps 

MoonWallers, stacking fingers of stones around the contour of the moon'surface. 

PhaseGazers,hoping to see an opening in time to keep up with the moon'space.

GateKeepers, not losing the keys to the moon's circle of fifths that our hands are circumscribing. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Planting stones and harvesting a wall.

Richard prepares the soil so we can plant our stones all in a row, and then watch how our wall grows.

The wall is completely grown up in two days and the Sweet Life Farm Workshop is a complete success. 
The stones were all waiting there to be picked.

Our happy group of walling participants proudly stand by their manually grown wall

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rollin Rollin

Once our dry stone installation at Zimart Gallery was completed and the ‘Johnny on the spot’ was rolled in behind the L shaped partition, people could no longer see where the ugly plastic portapotty was. 

Later, if someone standing near the wall needed to use the facility and didn’t know where it was , we were tempted to sing  ( like in the CCR tune ) - There's a bathroom on the right!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Moongate musings

Moonstock July 1969-2019
Q. How will we create the irregular circle-contour shape (above) without having to construct a unique odd shaped plywood form? 
A. By stacking the hole of the moongate with lengths of firewood, as we build up the sides.


Saturday, July 6, 2019

Voluntary and Involuntary Inspiration

In Yoga we try to concentrate on our breathing. We try to relax, but before long we realize we've kind of taken over that job that the body normally does without thinking. That which usually does the breathing involuntarily now notices the attention we are giving to our breath and stands back and merely cooperates for a while.. The involuntary allows itself to be subject to the voluntary. 

And now we hold our breath. Our lungs like two planetary bodies hang in space. In the stillness the conscious mind contemplates the incongruity of thinking about not thinking. Who do we think we are now? Neither the conscious mind nor the non-conscious is breathing. The planets have stopped rotating. The rocks have become motionless. Yet time ticks on.

Finally, gasping, we exhale, and take a big breath, and consciously let go of the job of doing the breathing anymore . Whatever inspired us to start breathing again remains something of a mystery .  We eventually just go back to thinking we're in charge again. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Pieces of the puzzle

Below is what a student of mine sent me a photo of a lovely wall he started building , after taking my workshop up in Haliburton 

Below is the post he wrote for his blog about his ongoing walling experience.

Pieces of the puzzle

With a sturdy foundation in place, it was onwards and upwards for the stone garden terrace.
Inside our cottage, Nadine, her mom and a friend were grouping like-minded pieces for a jig-saw puzzle depicting a classic canoe. Outside, I was using the same approach for the stones that would form the second and third courses of the terrace. With like-minded stone close at hand, I could move faster once I started building each course.
canoe puzzle.png
Smelling the roses
My dry-stone mentor John Shaw-Rimmington had advised our class at Haliburton School for the Arts to step back now and again — to see from a distance how the stones fit together.
This was the stone-walling equivalent of smelling the roses. Sometimes a stone that looked good up close was clearly out of order when seen from afar, and could be adjusted or replaced before it became embedded in the structure.
So I did a lot of stepping back and peering at the little stone terrace as it rose next to the cabin. In fact, whenever Nadine caught a glance at me stone-walling, she said I usually had my hands on my hips, arms akimbo, peering at the stones. For inspiration, I nestled a pot of pink and white impatiens next to the terrace.
course number three.png
A student of mine wrote me a nice letter with a photo of a lovely garden wall he recently completed.

Rocking and rolling
By nudging up the string next to the straight section of terrace, and checking its level, I could chase it upwards in slow motion with the stone-building. Stones that rocked and rolled a bit too much were wedged with thin stone shims to get them to settle down. Each course was carefully packed with hearting to get it tight and ready for the next course.
Next door, the farmer was raking his hay.  I could hear the drone of the machine as he swept by. The next day, he came back with the baler and wound the dried hay into huge bundles.  They would be wrapped in white plastic, resembling massive puffy marshmallows, and stored outside to give his cows feed through the long winter.
On a misty summer morning, the hay bales loomed large outside our cottage front door.
hay bale.png
A special blend
As the terrace wall came up with each course, I began to backfill it with some better soil. I trundled with the wheelbarrow over to our nearby veggie garden. There a special blend of quadruple mix was concocted, using equal parts of garden soil, compost, peat moss and some worm castings.
This new soil mix was a step up from the sandy clay next to the cabin, and would provide a nutrient-rich bed for the terrace garden, once complete.
To get the terrace as level as possible for the final layer of heavy capstones, I used slimmer stones in the fourth, and penultimate, course. For the freelance curve at the south end, I had cheated, using just three layers of larger stone. The curve dipped slightly off level, but I made a mental note to try to fix that with the capstones.
Piece by piece
The pieces of the puzzle were falling into place. Inside our cottage, the wilderness image of a cedar canvas canoe slowly emerged on our card table as Nadine, Ann and Mary Jo worked on the 1,000-piece jigsaw, after some swimming and kayaking in Minden Lake. Outside, the stone wall was rising.
course four with cabin.png

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The beginnings of a Hobbit Hole

We have started a hobbit hole entrance this week to what will eventually become a domed dry stone grass covered room for having underground chamber meetings. Stay tuned for more enchanting developments later this month.

Monday, July 1, 2019

One giant sleep for mankind.

Fifty years have nearly passed since the landing of a man on the moon. In many way the hopefulness of that era somehow got lost . Many of us now realize we need to wake up and renew our vision. We need to shoot for the moon in our heart and take stock of all the things we’ve forgotten. Let’s celebrate in the hope that mankind can still get back down to earth and start caring for this planet again, and together, enter into a new space of global harmony and consciousness.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

We have this impression that we're in control

We have this impression that we're in control. The thing is we are kind of in control, but it goes both directions. There always has to be equilibrium. For a universe to allow something to go one way it has to be able to go the other way too. Sometimes at the same time.

Monday, June 24, 2019

To bee or not to bee.

We completed our bee bowle structure yesterday. The bees in the ‘skep’ you see in the niche on the right , loved it. The bees on the right have not arrived yet.

The entire project including a lovely set of stone stairs, a large retaining wall, a tree well, an access ramp, several niches, bee sculpture and other carvings was created by the friendly gathering of dry stone enthusiasts and professional instructors you see here.

My two best helpers Christina and Helena sat down for a brief moment for a photo before Helena (on the right ) had to return to the Czech Repepublic.

Friday, June 21, 2019

An Irish Tower

Patrick McAfee gave a great presentation here in Austria last night at the Garden Landscaping School in Langenlois. This is an Irish Tower he designed, taught us how to build and helped construct himself in California.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A visit to Hubert Seidl’s

Thea alvin sits in front of dry stonework by Hubert . It’s a kind of aqueduct that sends water to a stone-lined pond he’s made in a peaceful dry stone courtyard.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Reclaiming and repurposing the past.

Hubert Seidel has been building with hundreds of tons of reclaimed stone over the last dozen years. His property near Krem Austria is a delight to visit. Arches niches sculpture aqueducts seating areas ponds, and much more are there to be discovered, and enjoyed. I need to devote another page to his work tomorrow. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

A bit of an inspired innovation

It occurred to me on a recent job we were doing, that horizontally laid stones in a coursed retaining wall with ‘vertically’ laid backing would be actually much stronger than having both back and front stones conventionally laid horizontally. I’ve asked a colleague, and he agrees.
The upright stones at the back are much tighter, they can’t sheer/slide the way they would be prone to if laid flat, and they are much easier to fit in place than trying to lay them level.
So that’s going to be the way we do it from now on.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

On Target

Why are we so concerned about the cracks. We are always trying to get rid of them, or at least make them smaller . We have the sense that the crack represents failure. We don’t like the way cracks make something look old, and therefore kind of useless.  We think, if there were no cracks everything would be okay.

But cracks are here to stay. In fact they are kind of okay! Sure, some big ones might need to be seen to but there is often no need to try to make the smaller ones smaller. There is definitely no need to try to glue everything together so there are no cracks.

In a dry stone wall it’s the pattern of cracks that allows the thing to stay connected.
Something that doesn’t have any cracks, or can’t crack, can end up breaking, and that, is a very different thing.
Cracks in a way, are what keeps things together.

Cracks allow for movement while keeping the context of overall shape.
Cracks allow for renewed tightness between the whole.

If we aim for tightness it means the thing will have to have joints. 
If there are no cracks there is only static resistance. Nothing grips. A thing that can’t crack can only shatter. We need to get a grip on the fact that it is the humble crack allows for us and everything else to stay on target. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Hands Free and Vertically Challenged

With so many hands-free devices at our finger tips, all this handy technologically designed to keep us safe, makes it hard to find things for our hands to do that involve the possibility of getting them scratched or pinched. Luckily there is still the activity of building with stones. 

Maybe the old expression - it’s all fun till someone gets hurt - should be changed to, it’s not that much fun if there’s no risk of getting hurt. Anyway apart from a few scratches, we had a bang up time building with about 40 tons of this pile of very odd shaped chunks of random granite, even though it was pretty challenging to try to build ‘vertically’. 

 It comes in such a lovely variety of pastel shades. Well actually, it comes in trucks from a quarry an hour north of Salzburg. 

Thanks to Pflastermeister Ing. ( Mario and Carola Tomasek) for the opportunity to present a different spin on the craft of building in the dry stone method, for the hand full of students here in Schwanenstadt, Austria. More photos to come.

Friday, June 14, 2019

From chaos to order.

As dry stone wallers, we look at the chaos of a random pile of stones and try to make some kind of fence of it.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How much do students gather in another language.

Teaching walling in Austria this week with my fragmented vocabulary ( very broken German) the problem of overcoming the translation barrier is happily hurdled by having the students first learn to build miniature 'barriers' with 'broken fragments' of stone that they previously gathered.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Volkswagens and Crib Mattresses

Like when you say 'it was the size of a Volkswagen', I’m thankful there are common things that people are familiar with, that make it easier to describe how big some of the stones are, that we have to try to move sometimes - like crib mattresses.