donderdag 30 december 2010

Finished roof!!! Come snow come rain, nema problema!!

Finished roof. Snow and rain can come but the house will stay dry. Cross fingers...

Every cut acurate judging by result.

Upper last corner and crew down on the floor and safe home. What a result for the last working day of the year. To be continued in january.

A loft with a view

Richards view again. It was Richard's remark that made me think to cut out a part of the roof to get this view. The team working on the roof gaze in the distance too sometimes. I am looking forward to closing doors, making balconies, building in kitchen, shower and all that is needed in this insulated highplace. In the distance, a lot of kilometers away, outliers of Gorsky Kotar can be seen some say. There is still some discussion what these mountains really are. Because from gorsky Kotar down to our area still is some 90 kilometers. We enjoy the view anyhow. And will find out what we are seeing exactly in the next year. We are sure that to the left is a big cherry tree. The birds enjoy most of the cherries. We enjoy it's shadow in summer.

woensdag 29 december 2010

Roof building details

The roof is becoming beautiful. Along all lines the roof building team makes very exact cuts in the tiles. Tiles are lying on a line along the small roof constructed above a little balcony.
By the way, if you look to the top left of the house, the big vertical beams are the area around which there will be a balcony. The balcony will be cut off from the room by sliding doors. The whole gives it an enormous view tough the long valley of river Radonja to a mountain range some 40 kilometers away. The view I should call Richard's view. That will be explained later. Richard deserves the credit for his insight. For the time being building will stop till the 7th of january. Hopefully there will not be snow combined with high winds like last year. The snow will build up inside the house. I will be shovelling.

zondag 26 december 2010

Wildcat spotted near Zagreb

Driving to the city of Zagreb to visit Christmas markets and sniff some city enter tainment we were driving via Karlovac and then along the highway. Normally we see al kinds of Buzzards and other birds of prey we cannot yet determine. One moment suddenly out of the bush a very big cat came. We were looking out of the car. It worked it’s way along a bush edge. The way it moved was very catlike. Except it was considerably bigger than an ordinary housecat. Long tail distinguishing it from a Lynx. Length much more than a fox. The way of walking had clearly distinguished it from dogs. Much more supple. Never before we had seen a wild cat. Especially not the big kind. The cat we saw had quite a bodily volume. The length of the tail was remarkable. Certainly excluding the Bobcat. Also the bobcats body is shorter.We checked two sources; Wiki and croatian wildlife sources on internet. Felix Silvestris silvestris. We are quite certain what we saw was a wild cat. Amazing.
There is a huge space between the Bosnian border, our area and the city of Zagreb. So big in fact that if you are aware of where the villages are, you can walk all the way to Greece or Rumania without walking into a village. No wonder, Croatia has 4.4 million people while at the same time being 1 ½ times the size of the Netherlands. By the way, the picture fits the situation more or less. Actually we took it from internet, a picture from the Wiki database. This particular cat was spotted somewhere south in Germany.

vrijdag 24 december 2010

Wow winter!

Every year is different. Now I can only say: ' Wow!' Although snow is not always welcome, looking allround is gratifying. The beauty, the light, nature, the place we chose to live.
And have a new little one come into our lives.
Is especially romantic. Wonderfull things happen.
Tomorrow is Christmas.
I am thinking of those that have contributed especially. Maybe without knowing. Maybe my father, who was a designer more than a chemist.
I am thankful for where we are.

zaterdag 11 december 2010

Leiden Gentlemans Canal

The end of the year is near. The coming new period with it’s own perspective. Things to learn, goals to manifest, visions to define. Also that where we come from comes in view. Sometimes walking through the mud on our terrain the streets of Leiden are very attractive. Water where it belongs, stones not mud under foot, boats in canals. All nicely where it should be. Natural disasters would put the nice houseboat on the next house, but that Leiden or Holland doesn’t know. That happens only in the tropics, New Orleans and such.
Leiden, an old city that has so much attraction to us, we could if we buy a house in the right place, start old age planning. In the meantime we like being a tourist in Leiden as we are in Croatia. This canal around the corner of our house is called the Heerengracht, or Gentlemans canal. Gentlemans….. In olden times there would have been a developing economy lifting Leiden out of the middle ages, launching it in an industrial period where sheets, blankets, brandy was called Harteveld or Kaagwater was made. The street names remind you of the history of Leiden. Where the animals, turf or other goods were brought in from the land around, where there was a blacksmith working etc. The area, where we have a house in Croatia, is named after the families that lived there. Same thing. Different scenery though.

vrijdag 3 december 2010

Handling big beams

A beam as heavy as a motorcycle, manhandled into place. Previously holes had been drilled in a couple of places. The holes are for letting the 16mm thread bolts on top of the building through. This was the first serious piece of wood being put in place. It was also the first day for this building team. Heavy built guys used to heavy work. At least that was what they looked like to us.

The fact that the beam went into place without a hitch was a confidence riser for everybody. The present team preparing the stone construction and other details concerning partition inside, bathroom, kitchen space etc. was apprehensive about the quality of the new people. Apparently there was nothing to worry about. Like two teams of horses being introduced to each other, a little jostling took place to get used to each other. The new team carried those beams into place in one movement. One big step for our project. I can’t wait for next steps.

Firebirds competing on the internet

It tickles me that searching the web with the word ‘firebird’, produces a huge collection of images of american muscle cars. A big boys toys symbol of adultness. When you reach the age of 16 in the US, seeing it will create drooling and other civilisation induced top of mind list artificial behavior.
Googling further brings Wiki info about the Phoenix’s, a firebird, ability to be reborn from its own ashes. Implying that it is immortal. The firebird appears in many countries. Connecting with the feathers or other parts of the bird brings great fortune or a sense of beauty from within. Making beauty or being connected someplace cannot be replaced by being given fortune by someone else or being taken to some paradise. The paradise realised as being so close that it cannot be touched. Or where ever I lay my hat is my home.
A good friend of mine reacted that the essence of life is life itself. It prevents empty talk about the meaning of life. It points in a direction. In doing it will be felt. It is the untouchable, unspeakable.. Where did I here that before? This is the beauty I see around me in nature. This is the energy we want to work with in our initiatives. The alive energy that changes the landscape, bringing children and their drawings.

Catching the rainbow

Autumn light combined with a slight shower of rain brough us this rainbow. Vaguely above our area. The seasons change brought along colapsing tents, the workshop tent also having colapsed with the lounging tent, stopping building, bringing gas shortage, wood hauling, snow shovelling and all that goes with wet and cold weather.

Barbara had been sick for a solid week. The whole household needed to move from caravan to temporary brick house accomodation. To have a higher level of facilities so Barbara could sleep better and get rid of her virus.

The total of these experiences as well as coming back from a great week with my fraternity buddy club made my landing home a little harsh and slow. The phenomena outside having effect inside. To say the least. One side of the firebird legend. About which more later.

I went into a short gloomy period. While walking our sopping muddy terrain I thought what am I doing here? This way I lost precious energy. I decided to do a session of reconnecting to my values and vision to catch the ever elusive creative energy. It is like catching a feather during a raging storm and or catching the rainbow. This brought me back on track. Inspiring a new design of tent, closer to our vision.

Snow and ice, white & silver tinkling, sprinkling, sparkling decoration

Although the big processes of putting beams on top and closing the roof have stopped many things still can be done. Living goes on. Designing for next year, planning of and marketing trainings, fine tuning programs and our year agenda can be done. Together with a glass of local wine.

By the way, I just read the mail of my cousin Jacobo from northern Spain. What says the guest after the host has told him the wine grows on the hills around the bed & breakfast? It does not travel well.....
The B&B is probably located on a SLOW farm. Where tourism ads a little income. And by the way. Everything here goes SLOW too. We are going to found a foundation for ECO initiatives called: SLON. Slow Land Owners Network.
Anyhow, this beauty of nature sparkling freshness is what I live out here for. The SLOWness it induces is sometimes (always) untimely. I sometimes miss the known charming city of Leiden and it's parks, old buildings and channels. This silver treat however is mindblowing worthwhile.

Summer camp colapsed.

During building we needed extra space for living. Especially during wet times. So we decided to put a tent next to the two caravans. In the tent there is space enough to hang around, have some company in, cook, read, draw or do nothing and not sit in the way. The caravan to the right is our office & guest house. It is a dutch design of an old still existing Limburg factory called Yvonne Mostard. It is quaintly sixties. Not well insulated in contrast with the recent German product from the Knaus factory.

The insulation is so good it withstood last winters minus twenty centigrade. And on top of that a meter of snow on the roof. It's structure is apparently sufficient to survive the pressure of some tons of snow. The tent now in winter looks slightly different. During the night I heard snow and later icerain fall on the Knaus's roof. I thought vaguely about things forgotten. Could not make the link while sleeping. We woke up to a scene where summer had drastically changed to winter. Summer camp colapsed. Things came to a grinding halt with the snow falling. Building has stopped. The land looks totally white.

zondag 7 november 2010

Evening dream

Weather changes are subtle. These november days are especially mild. Sitting outside for lunch and working in the sun is especially enjoyable. The changing of season results in a redbrown blend settling over the countryside.
The higher peaks in the distance are probably part of Velika Kapela mountain-range 50 kilometers away. This is the kind of view I envisioned in the past, dreaming of a life in the countryside. I am looking forward to completing our building and finally reading a book enjoying this view. And dream about all adventures still waiting. While enjoying what is now.

Meeting a fire salamander

Walking along our newly cleaned old road many beautiful things are to be seen. Lighting can create special effects in the evening because of the location. The trees hang at a friendly slanted angle over the path. Giving it an ancient atmosphere. The path has been there a long time. There are some small pools along the side of the higher area that is our terrain. The water seeps out of the lower sides creating nice places for just these creatures. Just amazing! I never saw one like this before. It appears that the spots are individually spread. So every individual can be recognised.
More surprising is the poisonous nature of this beauty. Directly behind the eye there are glands that jet out alkaloïds samandarine (C19H31NO), samandaridine (C21H31NO) en samanderon (C22H31NO2) among other niceties. The glands are located all over the body. Touching therefore is not wise. To make the picture I handled it softly. Some mistake! Muscle contractions and hallucinations are among possible effects if poison gets in via the mouth. Next time I will even put on glasses because it can jet it's defence over a meter. Severe pain comes from a drop in the eye... Enjoy and take care meeting these fellow beings!!!

Autarky out of neccessesity

It used to be the pump of a refrigarator. It creates air pressure up to 8 bar. Enough to pump up tractor tires, my digging machine's tires, and everything that needs to be pumped up. Every part of a machine that is still usefull gets converted into something usefull. Croats here are masters of improvisation in many fields. They avoid to pay for services of someone else if they can create their own solutions. A way of life one can see is practically everywhere. Only if they really can't do it themselves they go to someone else. They know how to slaughter and process their animals, build houses, barns, till their land, find food in the forest and even medicinal plants. They have a lot of selfreliance and with it a lot of peace of mind. There is not so much they cannot do themselves.

Grand parents on Mreznicki Brig

Bridge over the Mreznica. 'Mreznicki Brig'. A location with beautifull swimming pools in summer, restaurant, tennis court, and extended camping. We went to have a look to see if there was any activity so late in the season. Also to have a meal with family. The water that flows through these areas leaves a layer of chalk on everything. Also grass stems get calcite layered on them so long they vanish in stone. It is comparable with tufa you find in mountainous areas in Switserland too. There are all kinds of organic materials enclosed in the stone. The result is a kind of stone filled with little cavities, imprints of leaves, branches etc.
This trip from Vojnic goes through Barilovic. The grand parents I think were charmed by the area. So are we.

The wonder of creation

Branko again. Looking at first results. Acacia trees stripped of bark. Acacia is especially good for structures.
As a preparation for a bigger construction we choose to build a composting toilet. The drawing on the side is Nol's rendering of a house. We were starting to make a little house that would end up square. We decided to go for a more pyramid like line. In doing so, letting loose of all the squareness of regulatory forms. In order to be legal one must use prescribed materials and processes. Anyhow, the drawing of Nol is normative. The result will be more a sculpture like facility in which one can wonder about creation. While shitting.

Cat inspection team member

32 cubic meters of wood has arrived. Dried in a drying chamber to 12% water content. There is every form of wood we need for finishing the house from top to bottom. The place where it is stacked, is a location we like to be empty because it is in front of the kitchen. It reminds us that we are still living in a building location.
The cats like all change to their environment and inspect every new change with carefull attention. Here Pippy is indicating there is something wrong with the location of a particular piece.
Now the wood is dried to the core according to a computer program. They had been in a drying chamber, of which relevance I wasn't aware before. It appears that wood shrinks 8% through drying. Over a length of 12 meters..... What that does to your construction I left to imagination. I followed the advice of the architect to take the much more expensive dry wood. The cats agree.

woensdag 3 november 2010

Eko Selo, an answer to war

An inspiring trip to Eko Selo we took together with founder Zjeljko, Branko and me. Branko you'll see on our terrain working together with me starting wooden constructions. Zjeljko tells me that he started Eko Selo because the war touched on something in him. He told that the pilliging, the killing and rest of the horror made him choose a distant location to invest money he had earned in Germany. He soon ran out of money. His idea was much bigger than his budget. Everything he did, he did with his two hands with an incredible result. Not to forget he has an industrious wife and daughter. Many days up to 10 busloads of children would come. He would explain to them why he had chosen to live in this natural spot. They would sit with gleaming eyes and aborb his way of life word for word. In other instances he would come storming in on his horse. A true cowboy.

zondag 31 oktober 2010

The nicest coffee

One beautiful day in late autumn Grandpa, Grandma Zwanenburg and rest of our family were sitting on the veranda in the soft southern wind. There was a distinct aroma of sljivovic on the air. Sljivovic (rakia) is the distilled drink of sljive (plums) that comes on the table whenever you are invited to the kitchen. Next to the Turkish coffee. The wind was blowing from the direction of the forest. So we were fantasizing that there was someone living hidden in the forest distilling illegally. Distilling alcohol could become illegal as a way of life when EU entry of Croatia has it’s completion. Also we were puzzled by the distinct taste of rum in our coffee. How could that be? I got everything I used for making the coffee out of the kitchen. The package, the cups were cleaned. New coffee was made. And again this strong taste. In the end we discovered that what I took for a water bottle was a bottle of sljivovic by accident ending up in our collection of water bottles. Oma Zwanenburg remarked that she normally does not drink coffee, but this one was extraordinay nice. Unknowing about the real content. We went for a walk to get it out of our bodies.

dinsdag 19 oktober 2010

Off the road

Maintaining roads on our terrain is one of the areas of attention. This old road on my terrain was in the old days enough to let tractors and trailers pass. It goes to the back area of our terrain and connects via our terrain to the villages at the other side of the forest.
Time went by and the road filled in slightly. As all roads in the surrounding area. In the past traffic was much more intense than these days. The population is aging and dropping. Trees start to grow and all kinds of plants kreep where normally one could ride to the next village. Along this path in autumn there are all kinds of mushrooms and a lot of edible chestnuts.
The jeep I use to drag trees out of the forest, transport equipment and buildingmaterials. Also to explore the surrounding forests. I was assured I could pass with my jeep. I tried the first 50 meters. I was too late to react because the back wheels slipped off hill. Well, one has to test some limits here and there.

vrijdag 15 oktober 2010

Tomato's expected 2011

Beans make place for tomatoes. To prepare for next season Barbara is digging old roots out and putting in new plants. Barbara is combining tomato's with basyl, persil and calendula. This combination keeps out pests and attracts right insects aswell as supporting each other.
This way the earth is replenished. We don't do things big scale. We are slowly bringing into use as much terrain as we need. We started with a jungle. Now it is more organised. For those that are looking for an orderly garden it still can be confusing. The one making and maintaining the beds knows where is what. And yesterday we had a mix of tomato saus and fennel that were blended & slowly cooked on the woodstove. Fresh and yummy combined with Basmati rice.

dinsdag 12 oktober 2010

Crafts & kilowatts

We are making great strides to have civilisation touching our terrain now. In the blacksmith's workshop we will use welding and other heat needing processes. In the carpentry workshop we will have kilowatts of heavy wood cutting equipment. Now silently waiting in an old army tent.
Barbara was nearly dancing around with the announcement the connection will be made active today. Washingmachine on her mind. I always say to our builders I am the cleaningwoman. Culturally totally unacceptable. 'Cistacica'. A lot of ch and ts sounds. I make fun of it while they see me washing dishes.
Barbara always has taken the load of washing clothes though I must admit. She will read this blog too and will detect and probably publish any unbalance I put in the representation of the working part of our relation.
Anyhow, we will need some kilowatts to make our 4 & 5 kw machines work and at the same time be able to have kitchen machines running and such. We can now look forward to easily listening to music and watching movies.

maandag 11 oktober 2010

Cats bar

Our cafe has two regulars hanging on the bar to have their fill. Martina, our neighbour from down the street, gave them to Barbara when she mentioned her love of cats. And mine also by the way. Together they race around the terrain and fly up trees regularly. Tail high, back raised they are a scream to have around. The moment we enter the caravan they are allways ready to sneak into the warm space and hide under the beds.
When we are working on the computer they curl up next to us for warmth. They are comfort seeking creatures. And very good friends for us. They emit relaxation. Whatever is not working, producing stress, they can take away. Also I hope they will be great mouse and rat hunters. We'll see. Next spring we will see what their results will be in the rodents hunt.

A peaceful place to be

This is our little caravan and tent village on the terrain. In the silence of this area it is only the building during the day that disturbes the peace. The generator we need still hums because we are not yet connected us to the grid. But if the bigger building projects are finished there will be a peacefull place to be.
We have used the on caravan on the left for office. It is a sixties Dutch design. The right is a more recent german product. The tent is our lounge for bad weather days and kitchen. The experience of adding space with tables and cupboards is interesting. It is disovering the convenience by installing kitchen etc. We actually sit around there a lot. Especially during hot days also. Enjoying the evenings with wine and cheese before retiring to bed.

zondag 10 oktober 2010

Salute to the fathers

I wasn't aware her father would have been 64 the exact date I made this picture. Seeing her happy on her fathers shoulders. While on the table in the foreground her second year of wine is waiting in bottles.
Cor, her father enjoyed cooking and wine too. Barbara has same interests. She loves cooking. She also loves putting her hands in the ground and simply being in the garden. Most of the times alone. That is one of the limites on production. While at the same time she is the only one that can deliver mothers milk to Fleur.
We have to think about the fathers like: 'They would have been here too and would have enjoyed being here'. At the same time they would have enjoyed the cooking and sampling the wine too.
Well then: 'Here's to our fathers'.

zondag 26 september 2010

Camper life

Living in a caravan takes some adjustments. Small space, moisture management, cooking, showering, building all the while also taking care of a little baby. We were back at our house in Leiden Holland. Because we were also building there we lived only on the groundfloor. After a week of that I remarked that we never needed the floor above. In a caravan everything is under hand.
Living in small spaces can have it's quieting charms. Every day we read Dik Trom. A dutch story from 1907. Fleur tests paper. Every evening and every morning has it's aspects that have to be paid attention to. It is very intimate. If you walk around and have the eye for it. Outside of the caravan you will see one liter yoghurt buckets. What are they for? The tent of the caravan gathers water also. We use it for washing. And also showering in the evening. It is getting colder though. However, it is very comfortable going between the sheets with a clean body. And sleep till the sun comes up.

Autumn building

The old house is being rebuilt. We start with a complete penthouse on top. A lot of glas and a view on Velika Kapela mountainrange 90 kilometers away.
We will cook on wood, cooking will also warm the penthouse. We are contemplating designing heating along the lines of rocket mass heaters. In alpine region of Europe the people use what they call: 'Speicher ofen'. In principle a stone mass is heated. Fire dies and stone mass slowly dissipates the heat.

We will use natural materials for insulation. For example straw on the roof. But also sheepswool for the front of the building. Strawbales would take too much space from te bacony. Sheep wool by the way is burned by the farmers. We were too late to ask them for the wool. Seasons rithm is unescapable.

Now the top of the building has been closed at last the house is starting to dry. Our boxes with books are on the bottom floor. Last week at last I dared look. Actually the books were in not too bad shape. And by the damp and cold experience we learn to value a closed house even more.

Rich harvest

Seasons deliver different results. Like winter brings snow, autumn delivers fruits, nuts and also mushrooms. In this case it is what we call in dutch:'Squirrels bread'. Very very tasty. Also possible to dry above the oven. And then make winter food tasty.

Searching mushrooms is a real art. We have a Croatian book and two dutch to learn wich ones we can eat. Croats take only a limited collection. The danger of mixing kinds is very real. We don't take that risk. By the way we leave also those we can eat for next time. So next season we can harvest again.

maandag 20 september 2010

Creativity, dedication and fun

You see Anton Krivanec of Studio K spreading concrete on top of the roof. A major step in closing the top of the house has been made.
Anton is busy assembling a building team. Meanwhile also things like spreading concrete have to be done. Based on the experience of designing and building our resort a building company will be founded. The team is exercising by working together.
Every saturday is payday. Accompanied with a drink, a bite & an evaluation of the week. How was the cooperation. Were we succesful in reaching our goals this week? What is the plan for next week? Every period is analysed to learn for the next period. To reach optimum atmosphere and results.

maandag 1 februari 2010

Being is learning from nature

To live in nature once was a dream. Now we are living it. Learning from nature wasn't in the first place what I expected. It does happen though. Thinking about what the effects are of the presence of man I have reached some preliminary conclusions.

Next tot the fact I spend a lot of time with Barbara, Fleur and Nol I am outside a lot. Nature delivers every season. Different quantities but in general one can live of the land. A tree delivers what she is made for. Does not think about Wallstreet crashing.
There is no urge to manipulate genetically to up production. GM sereals fed to swines led to lung, heart, liver and brain problems. A human result. Nature does not analyse. Does not research.
And if that what man produced leads to above mentioned problems, then the end product as integraded fenomenon was a failure too. Analysis and the integration after some technical proces is the basis of human thinking and actions. It leads to plastic oceans, poisoned rivers, hunting after the idea 'man can create paradise on mars' etc. Maybe first learning to live on earth in the beauty of nature would be a first step to make.

vrijdag 15 januari 2010

Coffee is ready!

People asking me about our minus 20 centigrade winter adventure many times suggest that 'it must have been hard life'. Surely? Difficult no? Actually no.
To us it was a pleasant surprise we liked nature this much. We knew by our years of preparation. But that to us is nothing like the experience. Yes we were city dwellers dropped in the woods. We were lucky we liked it this much.

It meant shovelling snow from caravan to the house every day, in total some 80 meters daily. Also chopping wood and lighting fire every day. In the house we had a temporary kitchen we could heat. I would make the kitchen warm, make coffee and phone to the caravan to anounce: 'Coffee's ready, kitchen is warm'.
Then my wife would venture outside of the caravan along freshly dug paths. She was already pregnant of our present beautyful daughter Jelena. And Nol would be packed warmly and come for breakfast also.

As I am writing this we are preparing for the next winter. Wood we have plenty. House is being restored. At least it is dry now. That we could not say last period.