Archive for house

Pot Bib – Corn King Sparrow

Posted in Biographies, Nature Studies, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2019 by Drogo

Last winter a loud male house sparrow spent most of his waking time sitting in the potted plant where we put small bits of corn. Other sparrows would come, but he would usually chase them out, and get into fights with other males (one time wounding him). We call male sparrows ‘bibs’ because of their black beard-like feathers, and birds that sit in pots for long hours we call ‘pot birds’ (it happens occasionally). So we named him Pot Bib, because he seemed to prefer sitting in the pot to all else.

Pot Bib’s first goal in life seemed to be to claim the pot as his home during the day, and at night he would sometimes sleep in a nearby abandoned robin’s nest. I had witnessed the robin’s nest getting raided by a crow, who looked for nests under gutter-down-spout corners in between balconies like that one. Pot Bib added grass to the nest, and slept in it for many early spring nights; so he could wake up and be right in the pot again. Starlings also raided the nest just for materials, and still Pot Bib would often sleep there, but also at another roost somewhere else. After a few weeks, Pot Bib lost interest in the nest as no mate wanted to risk the location probably.

Pot Bib’s second goal in life was to have a mate, and he did have a girl-friend who he allowed to eat corn, hang around, and chase him out of the pot. When the weather got warmer, Pot Bib got another life-style away from the pot; but still returns and chirps in his insane way every day.

I made a nest in a small wooden basket with a handle for Pot Bib on Easter (Ostara). In the basket I put mud half way up, then stuck in tiny twigs, wove in grasses and pine needles, and cushioned with chick-weed and yarrow. I thought that either Pot Bib or the house finches that come would take it, but our familiar mourning doves claimed it instead; but that is the story of Lucky the Dove.

potbib basket nest

 

Arboritecture – Tree Architecture

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Crafts, Futurist, inventions, Nature Studies, Organic Agriculture & Horticulture, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2017 by Drogo

SCOD Tree Architecture – Arboritecture, a subset of Hortitecture

Trees could revolutionize our way of living, if we returned to living in and around them more. Conventional architecture is terrible at doing so, and is designed in opposition to trees, because vegetation touching dead building materials tend to make them rot. It is possible to live with an awareness of various levels of growth and decay, but it would require a culture more integrated with the natural environment.

Imagine devices that used living energy from photosynthesis. Design Science should explore the relationship of natural-artificial hybrids, methodologies of integrating plant matter into building fabric, issues of maintenance and sustainability, and ecological biological and organic architectural materials for environmental design.

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Tornado Architecture

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Organic Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2013 by Drogo

BUILD UNDERGROUND!!!

As an architect, this has been my consistent advice for all people living within tornado areas. Sure underground construction costs a few thousand more than most crappy track houses, but it is worth it when you know that having a normal house makes you an easy target for the common natural disasters that occur in that area. Government (State or Federal) should get with it, and supply financial incentives to get most homes underground now! There is no reason to wait. If you want to keep your house and most things in your house safe, you need an underground house; not just a separate storm shelter or basement.

I would never live in an area that has tornadoes without living in an underground house, if I had any money or respect for life at all.

– Drogo Empedocles

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Hollyhock Haven: Home for Victims of Abuse

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Fictional Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by Drogo

Mission statement: To provide shelter, utilities, and support for abused, addicted, and abandoned adults and children.

Matron Marta – “Basically we take in everyone that falls through the cracks, and no one else can handle them or their problems.”

Staff:  Matron Marta, Flee, Drogo, Gail, Lauren, Janet, and Red

Nicknames, aliases, or just first names are often used to protect the identities of the victims and staff members.

One dark and stormy night, a single mother with 3 kids showed up at the main gate to Hollyhock Haven. Rain pouring down on her and her unprotected children. Her 10 year old boy stands by her hand where she holds a cigarette and a beer, 5 year old girl in the other hand, and a 3 year old clings to her back.

A spot light shines down on her punked-out mess of pink hair, and she begins yelling about how bad her life is, the kids are crying, and that her boyfriend is getting out of jail, and coming for her….

Flee steps out from the shadows, but remains as a large shadowed mass. As she is yelling, Flee reaches down and pinches the cigarette she holds in her mouth, and she does silent, then Flee yanks the beer from her. She yells “Hey!!!” Then the gate opens, and Flee returns to the shadows. Mother slowly walks in…

TITLE CREDITS RUN

Aerial tour of entire facilities, and gardens….

A stalker tries to sneak up on HH but is knocked out, and dragged away by Flee.

Cuts to inside home packed with women, where numerous arguments are going on, with kids running around like maniacs…. Then Matron Marta’s voice comes over the intercom, and drowns out everyone else… brawling stops (aided by Flee).

MM – “Sounds like everyone needs a time-out out in the main hall!!!” (silence) “Ok, we have a new guest, so please say hi to Angela everyone. Please help her to feel at home. Breakfast will be at 8:30am as usual.”

 

Women discuss their feelings about men that abuse them.

“I will kill him if he does that again!”

“I need time to think.”

“I still love him.”

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to be continued….

Thomas Jefferson’s Landscape Architecture

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Book Reports, Historic Architecture, Nature Studies, Organic Gardens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2011 by Drogo

Essay on the Organic Design Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson

Interdisciplinary Concerns of a Colonial Landscape Architect:

Architecture, Agriculture, Botany, Horticulture, Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, Geology, Entomology, and Zoology

 

Ruins of architecture help to distinguish historic landscape architecture from organic terrain that may or may not have been influenced by human designs. Masonry is perhaps the most enduring milestone when it comes to lasting remnants of changes we have made to our landscape. Plants, animals, and soils are more organic and form-shifting. Organic elements of landscape designs change annually as their elements grow, die, or move.

 

Keeping a landscape design controlled even to the desired proportions is virtually impossible. Plants are almost always too small, too big, or in the wrong spot. Trees provide the most for us: shade, nuts, berries, shelter, shade, fuel, etc… but they are also capable of great destruction as well if trunks or branches fall upon animals or architecture.  An understanding of relative growth proportions in the environment can go a long way towards ease of maintenance.

 

Most Americans know Thomas Jefferson as a Founding Father first, and second as architect and politician; but few know of his feelings and designs towards Landscape. Landscape designers were called “Master Gardeners” or “Landscape Gardeners” back then. We know from his writings that his primary influences were English Gardens and Classical Architecture. He was well versed in contemporary French and English literature and philosophy, and experienced various landscapes during his travels.

 

Thomas Jefferson never fully accepted any one style or tradition. Although he was familiar with the Colonial mundane rectangular yard gardens, he was always innovating new hybrid ideas. Jefferson’s accumulated knowledge of surveying, architecture, climate, plants, and soil gave him tools beyond most other landscape gardeners. Jefferson’s approach to landscape design included both ornamental and utilitarian concepts regarding species, form, and layout.

 

As a child, Jefferson was home schooled in ancient literature and classical music. Learning also took place out-of-doors and so he came to love nature with infinite fascination. Jefferson developed his knowledge of the natural environment from first hand experience as well as books. In 1760 he attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where he founded a secret burlesque society known as the “Flat Hats” with a group of friends.

 

Jefferson became a devotee of improving American design with an open mind to World designs, and the natural environment of each site. He believed in contour plowing, as designing with nature was beautiful and practical. As he began traveling he embraced Palladian Architecture. These influences are evident later in his home, Monticello, when we see the geometric architecture combined with organic landscaping.

 

According to his “Garden Book”, he was able to bud-graft cherry trees, and started planting at Monticello 2 years before be began building the house. During this time he was also practicing law (represented 68 cases). In his gardens he planted forwardest peas, midling peas, asparagus, strawberries, purple hyacinth, narcissus, carnations, Indian pink, marygold, globe amaranth, auricular, double balsam, tricolor, Dutch velvet, sensitives, cockscomb, Prince’s feather, lathyrus, lilac, Spanish broom, umbrella, laurel, almond trees, muscle plumb trees, and Cayenne pepper. Monticello means “small mountain”. He fit it upon a terraced hill with rectangular and serpentine designs. In his notes he showed plans for garden olitory, pleasure grounds, spirals, and curves. Both Monticello and University of Virginia have a “temple” with colonnades that embrace a courtyard. The Monticello courtyard is Egg shaped because of the paths and hill, although both cloisters are rectangular.

 

Some conclusions can be drawn about the study and practice of Thomas Jefferson’s landscape architecture. Nature is a contractor for landscape architecture, because plant production in landscape was like human production in buildings. Designs are judged by their “finished product”; so in landscape architecture, products include flowers, fruits, and vegetables. His preferred building block was brick, but he made exceptions for wood and earth. He built several pise’ (mud packed in wooden forms) with General John Cocke at Bremo plantation. Jefferson believed that log and chinking was better insulated than scantling (wood frame) and plank siding. He believed it was foolish to ignore foods that grow easily nearby. “Useful” was his most used word.

 

Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, and it was not until 1899 that Landscape Architecture was considered a profession by society. His only complete book “Notes on the State of Virginia” remains one of the most comprehensive observations of natural environmental conditions.

 

Reference: Thomas Jefferson Landscape Architect by Nichols and Griswold

 

The House That Jack Built

Posted in Song Lyrics & Analysis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by Drogo

The Legacy of Jack the Carpenter

Jack may not have been an architect, but it is usually assumed that he was the farmer/carpenter that built the ‘house’ (which is clearly a barn), rather than just the owner that did not even help during construction. If Jack was just the owner, it most likely would be “The House That Jack Owned”, or “The Home of Jack”, or “Jack’s House”. Also if Jack was the carpenter who built the barn on a farm, it was likely that he was also a farmer; as building timber frame structures is part of the agrarian legacy.

Regardless there is an architecture to the story, as it builds upon itself. Each verse becomes larger than the previous, as it includes all lines that were established prior. This narrative story type is called cumulative chain.

Even though it is a rhyme usually spoken, it is also listed as a folk song (Roud Index). There are Jewish and Arabic medieval examples, that predate nursery rhymes. Other popular cumulative chain songs to build upon previous lines are: “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas“.

THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT

Original with Jack as carpenter-farmer

Mother Goose nursery rhyme from the 1500-1600s

Classified as an Aarne-Thompson cumulative chain tale

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This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the farmer Jack sowing his corn,
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

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Brown Stink Bug Plague

Posted in Historic Architecture, Organic Gardens, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2010 by Drogo

The Brown Marmorated Asian Soldier Shield Stink Bug

Kingdom: Animal

Phylum: Arthropods

Class: Insect

Insect Order: Hemiptera

Family: Pentatomidae

Genus: Halyomorpha

Species: Halys

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aka

“The Dreaded Brown Stink Bug”

For 4 years now, the Brown Stink Bug has infested many of our homes in the metropolitan DC area. Some comfort can be gleaned from knowing we are not alone, they do not attack humans, they do not eat everything, they can be killed, and they are not poisonous. Never-the-less these pests are awful nuisances due to their over-population, ability to get into houses, and tendency to release foul odor anytime they are alive and when they die. This odor is not just unpleasant for humans, but it acts as a odoriferous beacon to other brown stink bugs.

Brown stink bugs are hemiptera (half-wing) insects. Like the Nezara viridula or Acrosternum hilare (two varieties of Green Stink Bug), it is plant-seed feeding. Both green and brown stink bugs are in the same Family of Pentatomidae Hemiptera. Why are the indigenous green stink bugs not invading us in our homes? The green stink bug is very easy to control with pyrethroids, Orthene, Bidrin, methyl parathion and Vydate. The brown stink bugs seem to be more resistant to our pesticides. The green ones came from Africa hundreds of years ago, and the brown ones are from Asia. Both were stowaways in crates.

Brown Stink Bugs lay eggs on the underside of plant leaves. They love to reproduce on Soybean plants, and those are more common than ever before. The practice of bringing plants inside during the winter worsens the epidemic, as eggs can be already laid on the plants while they were outside. They lay masses of 10-100, barrel-shaped compact eggs.

Stink bugs are susceptible to insecticides that were used to spray boll weevils. From the success of boll weevil eradication, Bt cotton and the use of more selective insecticides for plant bugs, we’ve opened a window for other resilient bugs like brown stink bugs. DDT would do the trick, but it’s all a question of how willing we are to poison ourselves in the process.

Expert exterminators recommend a mixed approach to defending against bug problems. I will recommend an approach as non-toxic as I can.

1. Clean and caulk around windows and places they might have gotten into the house

2. Spray Frebreeze de-odorizer on surfaces

3. If more bugs come, try to gently collect them and toss them outside (so they wont fearfully spray their stink, or release it from dying inside). This does not work that well on numerous bugs, as they can leave a scent behind on anything they land on. Killing them immediately may be the better solution, considering each one is a potential breeder, and if released is free to spray more. Once you kill them, clean up after them!

4. Continue the first three steps with patience. If one generation of bugs is released in a house, it will be years before extermination will have any affect. More bugs will continue to want entrance to the house because of the mass odor from the last batch. Also they seek warmth inside any structure.

They have invaded historic homes, as well as new homes. They can enter air conditioning units, not just cracks in siding or open doors or windows. There is no quick fix to an invasion. Even praying mantis don’t like them.