woensdag 7 december 2011

You are welcome!

This area is dedicated to be a place to lounge, dine & receive guests, having a green world hanging from the glass house frames and so creating the atmosphere of a small paradise. The water comes from the roofs and is collected in an underground reservoir. It will be filtered through reeds and sand. We will also let it fall to create a water sound. The stove that is now in the new kitchen will be our outdoor stove. It will be replaced by a design that more fits inside climate requirements. A combination between heating, cooking requirements & beauty.

donderdag 1 december 2011


One day we were discussing what we would put in the vertical plane of the glasshouse this winter. That same day Mile and I went to the local school. Windows were being replaced. Of the whole school... I looked at Mile and smiled. What will they do with that, we asked. It turned out we could get the whole lot. With the frames. They were sawed trough because of removing from the wall. But there is so much material that we can build three glasshouses. Barbara was already on the road to inform about closing material. We were already discussing solutions. And down came this bonanza! Sometimes one needs a little luck in a project. By the way it saves about 25000 kuna's. More than 3000 euro's. Mile's diplomacy did a lot for us to also get the old vacume windows. Excellent material for any next project. Like toilet, shower and water house.

zondag 27 november 2011

Croatian hospitality

Mile's family and Pieter from Belgium. On the table a meal fitting Breughel. Home made sourkraut, pork and potatoes. To be flushed away with either rakia, beer or wine. The whole day had been occupied with the butchering. Hard work if you consider the temperature and the weight of the animals. They had been born in spring. They walked around on the terrain for the whole year and have been fed only natural ingredients. The mother spawned 13 piglets. All had been sold except what was kept for personal consumption. This cooperation and the feasting afterward one sees whatever they do together. Sitting together at the end of the day comes with a lot of socialising. All the elderly walk in and join in whatever conversation. Always a little jesting a little remembering and at our adress a lot of questions. How is it going? What are you building?

maandag 14 november 2011

Constructing a greenhouse

Building of a glass house that is to harbour our guests in a green surroundinig next year. In it is also the place were water is gathered from all the surrounding roof surfaces. Next year water sound will fill the glasshouse and it will also will be a place where we have our outdoor kitchen. It will be a small paradise where when it rains we can still eat outside. Almost every house in Croatia has an otudoor kitchen. In Istria at a house of friends of mine they have a roof on the north side, specially for being outdoors during warm periods.

woensdag 19 oktober 2011

New kitchen

We are now using the original kitchen as new kitchen. This stove you see burns wood. We are discovering that a fire sucks a lot of air from inside the house. Next step will be to design a stove that gets it's air from the outside. We are working on that. There is exchange with some of my Croatian friends about techniques, materials etc. There are obviouslyy the classical designs like tilestoves. There is a mass of stone in them that when warmth has gone in them they radiate heat a long time there after. Meanwhile cooking on this simple stove is extremely enjoyable. For rapid heating put the pan right (above the fire) for slower work, move pan left. There is even a round hole in the top above the fire in which our 'wok' fits perfectly. I like this design.

zaterdag 15 oktober 2011

Changes and old techniques

The old is fading away, or is it? Here you see a typical horse and wagon combination that has been already dumped by many after the second world war in the midst of the new ways of transport. The forged iron detailing on some of these wagons is priceless. What tool is decorated like this these days? The cars around it certainly are not in any way. Besides decorative value, concerning change and how to handle it, the question could arise who will survive the next change? Let's assume that 2012 will be a year where we will go through an extreme change of our reality. Who survives depends on what is there after the change. So who fits what! Anyhow, what we are discovering in our gardenening project, too technical solutions do not always work. Noisy machines can be easily replaced with sythes. For this discovery one does not need big change and maybe no mayan calender. Maybe those that stay close to the technique with which this guy is crossing the bridge will be the survivors. Who knows? That is, if change comes suddenly, is global and has drastic consequences. Anyhow, if I think about next year, it is the mayan year. How accurate are predictions? That is and has been through the ages, food for philosophers, insurance agents and other advisers. The owner of this carriage is doing it his way. In the midst of all car fumes. Slowly but surely he goes werever he goes. Untill he returns to ..... :) known ends.

woensdag 5 oktober 2011

Itadaki mas

Saki came from Tokyo to volunteer with us and fitted naturally in her temporary surroundings. Calligraphy is her specialty and she is an artist. Every day she takes her bike to go to her studio in the heart of Tokyo. Her creativity became visible immediately through her effect on Nol. He changed style over night. Experimenting with ink and paper and a Japanese influence he connected to Saki naturally. She also cooked a Japanese specialty. Every meal she thanked for there being a meal, the cook & the hospitality of the moment. Itadaki mas is the saying! Thanks. Also Mirko and Mile connected very well with Saki. Mile took her to his family and friends. When they came back we were ready for dinner. We asked them if they wanted to eat and drink anything. With a defensive gesture in front of their stomachs they declined laughingly.

zaterdag 1 oktober 2011

Bear ham with Mile

Snacks at Muljeva with Mile. The special aspect of what we're eating there is bears ham. The restaurant Muljeva is a recently restored inn in the middle of the thickest forest around Petrova Gora. Petrova Gora means something like 'Peters Heights'. So Peter's mountain. I should feel very at home there. More important is the partisan history of the place. During the second world war it was the place where the partisan Croats took care of the wounded in underground bunkers. Now as in many parts of Croatia restauration of this area is waiting. Nowadays it is a beautifull area for wandering around. Take a stick with you. There also seem to be wolves in the area.

zaterdag 23 april 2011

History ends in the scrapyard

History is reflected in the scrapyard. Because I want to create metal objects again I visit the local scrapyards to see if there is anything I might use in the coming designs. What you see is a german helmet and a set of axles. This type of axle has been used for some time since the idustrial revolution. Most of the time they are converted to tractor connecting carts. But sometimes things don't have use for the owner. Practically all old tools are becoming museum objects or are given away. With some nostalgia my neighbour explains the working of those tools. Their way of living is in transition. They might think their way of living is ending because the median age is rising. But at the same time there is an intense interest in living off he land again. And learning the old techniques and use of old tools.
Two wars have not helped in maintaining the self sufficient way of life in these parts. Nothing however will stop youth from picking up old tools and stuff at the scrapyard and learn from the past. We will do our utmost to boost this movement. We are enjoying these first beginnings. You are welcome too.

Nol's house from a different angle

Crooked nature elements add challenge to woodwork as well as charm. Beauty is our main orienting element in what we create. Nothing we ever done before, like building this little house. Or making garden paths or maintaining a forest for that matter. We are slowly realizing that all different skills come as needed. If we cannot do something we study it first, using either books or internet. Certainly there are people around us that have a lot of skills. they have to, they have lived here for 500 years.

Nol's palace with breathing foil on top

Wood of the roof put and foil done. It is a breathing kind of foil. It seems to can handle a trickle but not a downpour. So we found out. During nightly rain I got out to check. It was leaking. So I put an extra layer of foil over the tools for protection. Returning to a warm bed after an impromptu shower. Leaving bed for any ruckus during the night is never attractive. Although we have a dog that knows the terrain, our area is not enclosed yet. So I tend to inspect some disturbances during the night. The next day was sunny so work could continue.

Garden work in the kitchen

Beginnings in the kitchen. It means there is no greenhouse yet. Seedlings get tended by Barbara before going out in the garden. They stand behind the windows for a time. You see they reach for the light. If in an unconscious moment one moves the box 90 degrees, next day there is a squiggle in their stem. I once turned the box 90 degrees one direction. Next day they had corrected their position. On cell level it means a lot of work is going on changing pressure in one side, relaxing on the other. I don't know exactly how they do it. It is like the sunflowers following the path of the sun to get optimum exposure. Anyhow, this is preparation for garden produce. A greenhouse is in the planning. From around the world we see extraordinary experiences with food coming from greenhouse heated by sun. High in the Rockies or near the Arctic circle people are finding that it is entirely possible to produce through the dark days. I am looking forward to it.

Hills around the house

On a sunny day, this is a view of the hills around the house. Green where ever the eye roves.

Wandering around our green hills

Cement art; Couple having slightly different opinions

Nol's house building in progress

Different materials go into the construction of Nol's personal house. He designed something. We go to work. Collect chestnut trunks, beams of a 100 year old shed, burned parts of the old roof of the house. The burned part turns out to have a beutiful tan because of age of the wood and that it has been burned. It gets a varied hue during cutting off the charcoal.
We used an age old axe for that. Or actually I don't yet know what to call it. But around the tool is appreciated for it's quality. The young neighbors also appreciate the tool. Sinisa, a Croat good friend of mine in Blatusa, is also building in wood. He is discovering and learning about wood also. I sense a healthy interest in crafts here in Croatia. The older generation also reflects on the experience with wood houses compared with stone. After all, they like the wood houses better. They were warmer. That speaks for itself I would say. Stop building in stone. Costs less energy. Wood is renewable. And everybody can build themselves what they want. For the heavier work you invite your friends. Afterwards you can renew friendship with a drop of this and a bite from that. (Rakia, wines & swines)

What..... huh, risk?

I was ordering steel for my building lift. We were making our list when out of the corner of my eye I saw an amazing way of transporting a tube. Have a look, it sticks out the front and back because the standard lenght of 6 meters...... :)

Binding the seasons grapevines nowadays

Working the land has it's necessities. Among other things, wine, a telephone and very flexible young willow shoots. Probably the most ancient technique I have witnessed ever. One can wonder how long that binding technique goes back. Probably thousends of years. And if one breaks one just drops it and it will be reused by mother earth. Amazing really.

Green grass effect of other dream locations

This is a group of dreamhouses which we have found. In a beautifull area of Croatia with the most beautifull views. Also the fact they are made of local stone gives them a character we would be looking for next couple of years. Actually, our present project has remarkable views too. From the top we can see north of Zagreb, about 100 kilometers away. And also far west of Karlovac. And beautifull too.

Roof finishing and enjoying each others company

More about the development of the frame that supports this roof later. We are in the stage of putting on the wood ridges for keeping the tiles in place. They are 100 year old tiles. None of them are the same. But due to the flexible nature of these small pieces of wood they hang onto the roof perfectly well.
We found a way of working to gether with ease. Everyone finding the place where a hand with it's character and background functioned perfectly well. Michel had worked on a 4 story project in Germany before. In the beginning he had no hands left when they asked him to hand over a tool. Because he could see the church clock on the opposite side of the street, he experienced it as so high he would use every limb to cling to the roof. The masters were sauntering all over the place as if they were comfortably on the sidewalk. Together we move alover the roof. It is holding well due to heavy beams from the woods around our house. Chestnut fresh wood, old oak also a 100 years old and leftovers from the big roof of the main house. Craft learning and working together is very satisfying. Michel and Agnes again. Together with Nol and Barbara. We created a line together to tranport the tiles quickly up the roof. We already discovered there are some things we need to look into on other roofs to know how to finish the edges. That will come later.

First (adorable) pair of wooffers in the garden

Barbara, Michel and Agnes in the garden. Michel and Agnes arrived a couple of days ago intending to be with us for two weeks before travelling to the middle east. They are travel lovers. They have extensive travel experience one of them having been to Mongolia. In those areas apparently you say 'cho!' to a horse to make it move forward. I tried it on Agnes but she didn't respond. I was not using the right intonation. What seems to work with the animals also has a relation with people by the way. Buying broccoli which is called 'brucola' in croatian you can have a hard time getting what you want due the specific nature of the sound. Despite the fact you are really in the vegetable department. We were most certainly not in the electronics department, under wear for that matter.
There is probably a lot we can learn from them and our experience together. Strangers never personally introduced, suddenly living in close quarters. They stay in the 60's caravan we lived in before. Together with Barbara they already produced amazing results in the garden. A horseshoe bed and some other beds already. As well as part of a roof. Now took a hike to Petrova Gora with the hunter restaurant and hotel at it's base. A hike of 5 hours back and forth from our place.

Bigclaw delivers wood

These steel claws have seen some tons of wood in their time. The machine was welded back into workable structure whereever one can imagine a new weld. It was huffing and puffing, heaving and creaking up the hill and finally delivering on our place. The wood is cut off result of a wood processing unit close to us. It costs a fraction of the price of dried wood. With it we can build animal lodgings, fences etc. There will be a lot of woodwork to be done this and following years. Chicken, garden tools, compost need housing. To name a few applications. We have bought old woodworking tools. Ancient I must say. They are probably 100 or 200 years old. Handmade and kept in perfect condition. I am exercising with them. I want to learn the ancient european woodworking techniques in this time of transformation. Back to more down to earth techniques. More about that later. We are still working with a lot of present age machines. Using fuel, breaking down. Making us dependent on delivery of repair and fuel delivery.

Fleur Jelena Portia's birthday

The lovable little being has been with us now for one year. Two children we adore. We learn a lot from them. Like looking, listening and working with their ever variable moods. Nol is changing teeth. He lost one of them in the garden. He thought it was a piece of stone in the bread he was eating. The cake was the first one made in the wood oven. It had risen according to plan and was soft and tasty. Weldone Barbara.

Picking up building materials

Roto bales. Bought last year. They were stored at the farm where we bought them. Per piece they will be transformed into smaller regular bales. While we were helping the driver to move the bales to more favourable position, we awakened a porcupine. She was still rolled up in winter position. Spring had not penetrated under the bales yet. While it has already been warm since february. Insulation is exactly why we are applying them.
By the way, the porcupine I lifted with both my hands out of it's winter berth. Under protest of the guys. You cannot lift this animal bla bla. I put it in a safe place under a tree. So it could gently come to out of his winter conciousness. It got out remarably fast and sauntered of in search of new lodgings.
The farm at wich we bought the balas is owned and run by a three generation family. They have about 80 hectares and 60 cows. Every time we came we would sample their domacia products. Home made. Every family has preferences and style. Things are recognisable same product but definitely different in taste. That goes for the rakia too.... :)

Crazy colors in Bosnia

Blue and something. Also nice design..... Note balconies, don't walk off please.

United colors of blues

We went to the market in Velika Kladusa, just around the corner in Bosnia. There are minarets, kebabs, clothes, tools, cars, turkish coffees and also jeans.

zaterdag 1 januari 2011

The ongoing work of nature

The work of nature is ongoing till the day of today. If I look at our daughter in this picture I think nature must still be meaning well.
We were at an antique and fruit market near the square Brittanica in Zagreb. When she passes everybody wants to hold her. She was very tickled by the banana. She ate half of it and as you can see, it gave her a special gleam in the eyes.

Ishi the last Yahi. The man in this picture is demonstrating how stone age man makes fish prongs. He walked into a village in the area of Sacramanto, California in 1911. He had just left his whole world behind. At the moment he was found, he was in between two worlds, in nothing.
He had lived on the run for 40 years. On the run for an encroaching civilisation we are assuming is normal. The professor who took care of him described him as a man that exercised the filosophy of patience. Without a trace of selfpity or bitterness poluting the purity of the rest of his existence.
We knew many things. Many of them wrong things. He knew nature, always truthfull. He had characteristics that always are valable. He had a good heart; He had courage and selfposession and although all had been taken from him in his heart was no bitterness. His soul was that of a child while his mind was as wise as that of a philosofer.
Looking at what we are doing in Croatia and our work in nature; What style of living has been handed down through the ages? How is the impact of this style in every context of our life? Isn't it time every country in the world had an area where a totally new eko friendly village could be built? Where everything done & built has it's direct connection with nature and only natural materials? Thinking and operating cradle to cradle?
And look at the expression on the face of Ishi. Busy in the here and now with something holding his whole concentration. In all humility this is one of the examples we want to follow. In learning from nature and living in nature. And the mindfulness of which Ishi was an example. Probably without knowing, or did he not?