Monday, August 16, 2010
Does it get any better than this: I pull in after three months *on the road* around noon yesterday, pull myself together, gather gifts and take off for festivities with dear friends for three birthday celebrants at Ellen's fabulous hilltop *Tree House* (so called because it's built on a hill up among them) whose kitchen window looks out directly at Pinnacle Mountain.
Ellen, one of the birthday girls, who is the hostess-with-the-mostest with Chloe!
Me with two of the birthday girls, former housemate Janice and Ellen.
The third birthday girl, Gail on the left, with Fritzie in the middle, and Pat, who shaved her head in solidarity with a dear friend who is grappling with breast cancer
Fritzie, Pat and (blinking) Janice again. The first celebration was for my birthday, held at Fritzie's place. I blogged about it back-when:
Anne Avant, famed and favorite Iyengar Yoga teacher, Ellen, and Amy (just back from 3 weeks in Bulgaria...and earlier in the summer yet another trip to China). After the February celebration, Anne sent an email out to everyone and said we should keep doing this periodically...and the next one was held at her place last May!
Johnye (Janice's mom and the matriarch of the group), Pam who, instead of completing her PhD in English Lit, got practical and picked up an accounting degree and ultimately became a CPA -- fortunately, I think, she has stopped playing with numbers and is back to playing with words...she is the quintessential wordsmith!), and Camille (who finished the semi-finals game of a tennis tournament in time to join us). Camille started the prison project and Pat, Gail, and I volunteer in it with her.
Some kitchen action.
Here Janice, just back from two months camping and volunteering for the National Park Service (she and her sister Judy lead light house tours where they stay at Devil's Island in Lake Superior) at the Great Lakes, is singing the song she wrote for Ellen and Monroe's wedding, was it three(?) years ago (one of those storybook romances...lucky Ellen!)
Unfortunately Judy missed the celebration because she was on-call at the hospital. (She's a pediatrician.) SparkFriend Sandra also missed it because she's in Wisconsin helping her mom post-op; Jean and Pamela are also in WI...visiting friends and family; Siaw Khian is visiting family in Malaysia and Marilyn is in Missouri, supporting her mom, whose partner is very ill.
At our next celebration Johnye will be celebrating her EIGHTIETH! I wish this was lighter...I swear she looks longer than me! (ROTFLOL!!! Gotta' leave that typo -- since at almost 6' tall, she is DEFINITELY "longer" than my 5'3" and she looks YOUNGER than me too.) Mid-life Johnye decided she wanted a PhD, finished it and proceeded to join the faculty of the English Department of U of AR and taught English Literature for many years there. And it makes my head spin to think of everything she's involved in now! Is that the formula Johnye???
Pinnacle Mountain at sunrise
A FRIENDSHIP BLESSING
May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul
where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
May they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.
-- John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara
(Anam cara is Gaelic for "soul friend")
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I left Pennsylvania a few days ago. I last stayed three days and two nights in Ohiopyle, an area incredibly rich with recreational resources, among them an awesome bike trail.
The Youghiogheny River Trail has 27 miles of trail in the park and is part of the Great Allegheny Passage that connects Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.). The flat, crushed limestone trail was once the rail bed for the Western Maryland Railroad.
I rode only 10 miles of the extraordinary trail (or 20 miles round trip) and it was a virtual wonderland! I really hope to return to the Ohiopyle area of Pennsylvania again. My PA friends Lew and Tracey are totally right!
As I rode, I sometimes heard the roar of the rapids over the boulders...at other times the still waters created a quietness that was mesmerizing. The topography varied on the trail and always the river was below, although it was difficult to capture it with my camera. It was cool in the woods during the entire ride...I was always shaded by the canopy of trees. I shot photos on the ride back, and here is the visual offering from that magical experience:
Friday, August 13, 2010
A few pieces from the sculpture garden:
The Hagan House began in 1953 when the Hagans, owners of a major dairy company in Western Pennsylvania, purchased an 80 acres mountain just north of their native Uniontown, the county seat. As friends of the Kaufmanns, owners of nearby Fallingwater on Bear Run, the Hagans asked their architect Frank Lloyd Wright, then 86 years old, to design a deluxe Usonian home for them. The house was completed in 1956, and the Hagans lived at Kentuck Knob for almost 30 years.
In 1986 Lord Palumbo of London, England bought the property for $600,000 as a vacation home. Since 1996, the Palumbo family has balanced their occupancy with a public tour program, a method of historic property management more common to their native England than to the United States.
The Palumbos added a sculpture meadow to the site near the base of the mountain, where 35 sculptures by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Ray Smith, and Sir Anthony Caro are displayed. Found art pieces include a French pissoir, red English telephone boxes, and a large, vertically upright concrete slab from the Berlin Wall. The meadow is reached by a walking path through woods from either the house or the visitors center.
Wright employed tidewater red cypress, glass, and native sandstone to build the home and capped it with a copper roof at a cost of $96,000.
At 86, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and about 12 residential homes, Wright said he could "shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will" never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase. This would be one of the last homes to be completed by Wright.
The crescent-shaped house curls around a west-facing courtyard, blending into the contours of the land. The anchor of the design is a hexagonal stone core that rises from the hipped roof at the intersection of the living and bedroom wings. The walls of the flat-roofed carport and studio burrow into the knob and define the courtyard's eastern side. A stone planter terminates the low retaining wall on the west side of the courtyard, and it features a copper light fixture accented with a triangular-shaped shade. To the south, the house extends beyond the hillside on 10" thick stone-faced concrete ramparts. As with other houses Wright designed during this period, the Kentuck Knob plan is based upon a module system, in this case an equilateral triangle measuring 4'-6" to a side creating an outside 240 degree L-plan house.
Interestingly, Wright did not select the top of the mountain knob, which would have provided commanding views. He chose a more challenging and less obvious site immediately south of the knob. The house is nestled into the side of the knob, a common practice for Wright, allowing the building to appear organic and harmonious with the landscape rather than dominating it. The house was oriented to the south and west for the best light throughout the year, something Wright often did when not limited by a city lot.
The name Kentuck Knob is credited to the late eighteenth-century settler David Askins, who intended to move from Western Pennsylvania to Kentucky, but then reconsidered and remained at this very property, naming his tract of land Little Kentuck. It subsequently became known the Kentuck District of Stewart Township, one of the county's several rural mountainous townships. Ever since the summit of the property has been called Kentuck Knob.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Already well-known during his lifetime, Frank Lloyd Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as 'the greatest American architect of all time'.
I was so looking forward to seeing work more of this brilliant, eccentric, and multi-talented man. I'm very familiar with the Marin County Civic Center in the San Francisco Bay Area. And a dear friend and I attended a service at the Unitarian Church in Oak Park, Chicago, IL But he was prolific...AND two notable houses were conveniently located on my journey.
"FALLINGWATER: Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), this house was built in 1936 as a family retreat for Pittsburgh businessman Edgar J. Kaufman. Widely admired for its design, it is dramatically cantilevered over a waterfall: it exemplifies Wright's desire to join architecture with nature. Edgar Kaufman Jr. presented the house to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963."
Definition of cantilever style: A cantilever is a beam supported on only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. For example cantilevers can be created by an extension of a simply supported beam (such as the way a diving-board is anchored and extends over the edge of a swimming pool).
Here are some shots I took of the fabulous structure Fallingwater, which though immensely indaequate, show how his organic architecture is integrated into the woods and over the waterfall, and some of the amazing angles and design motifs:
"Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 projects, which resulted in more than 500 completed works. Wright promoted organic architecture (exemplified by Fallingwater and Graycliff), was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture , and developed the concept of the Usonian home.
"His work includes original and innovative examples of many different building types, including offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, and museums. Wright also often designed many of the interior elements of his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass.
"Wright authored 20 books and many articles, and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. His colorful personal life often made headlines, most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio."
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