Faith & Framing in America

This is an approximately 8-minute read about my introduction to the beautiful art of timber framing. In my last post, I was just getting ready to join a workshop in Upstate New York, and here are some of my impressions and thoughts from that…

Show Me The Way!

It was a hot day for hitching in Saratoga County, and my tool-pack was getting heavier for every car that passed me by and disappeared in the heat shimmer. The humidity was oppressive and the tarmac stuck to my steel-toes, but I was, nonetheless, in high spirits as I held out my thumb, and prayed for someone to pick me up and take me to Christ the King.

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The boring machine that I am using here, was made in the 40’s. Apart from being quite efficient, it also allowed me to listen to the birds rather than the whir and screech from power tools.

I had seen the light, so to speak, only a few weeks earlier – in the Kootenay Rockies, BC – when a dedicated brother had recommended me to take up this journey. But it wasn’t so much Jesus that I was in search of, as it was the secrets of his worldly profession. You see, Jesus was a carpenter too, and I was about to discover a way of wood-working, that has been practiced since long before he was born and our calendar begun: I was about to take my first steps into the world of timber framing. More

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Finding My Feet In The Kootenay Mountains

There is nothing like camping out for a full week at an unimaginably loud and dusty electronic music festival, to make you feel like relaxing by a nice and quiet hot spring, somewhere deep in the Canadian mountains. At least when you know it’s an option, it can easily become a semi-serious obsession as the party progresses and you find yourself peeling your sleeping bag off your grimy back in the mornings. I am speaking out of experience, of course.

A snapshot from the Shambhala Music Festival by the Salmo River

A snapshot from the Shambhala Music Festival by the Salmo River

I had been volunteering my carpentry skills at the legendary Shambhala Music Festival in the Kootenay mountains of British Columbia, and it had been a most delightful and wonderfully intense week of hard work and elaborate partying, but now I was positively pooped and – as per usual – down to my last 100 dollars. More importantly, I needed a long, hot bath and a 24-hour nap. More

Tui Turns 30!

Almost 9 months ago, I promised you to write about my experience of living in one of New Zealand’s most remarkable communities – Tui. Then life happened and swept me onto new adventures and I forgot all about it. But as Tui is turning 30 this year, they have asked friends of the community to write a little something for the occasion and I realized that this was my chance to both give them my story and redeem myself to you, dear reader…

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Daylight full moon rising over a corner of Tui with the Abel Tasman National Park in the back.

 

Here is what I sent to the Tuis:

 

My name is Cornelius and I am a Danish globetrotter and community enthusiast who first learnt about community-living in the 1000-people strong Freetown of Christiania – a famous and controversial community in the middle of Copenhagen. From small grungy squats to large scale utopian projects around the world, I have since visited and studied a great deal of communities. Some of them – like Tui – I visited for the purpose of making a radio documentary. My focus with this is to document intentional communities that are long-standing and non-religious, in an attempt to uncover what makes an alternative and individually diversified community last through the generations, without succumbing to the all-too-common problems of fanaticism, commercialism and inter-personal conflict.

 

Stumbling Upon A Gem

I was hitch-hiking near Nimbin in Australia, when I first heard of Tui,  A lady who picked me up, turned out to be a fellow community aficionado and I told her about my community documentary project and that my next destination was New Zealand. Her response was to tell me about one of Tui’s founding members, Robina McCurdy, who happened to have just visited the Nimbin area to give a talk about permaculture. She then told me about Tui community and I decided then and there to visit the place, as soon as I got to New Zealand.

My second impression of Tui came from their website. I was curious to know a bit more about the community, and keen to arrange for me to stay there for a while, so I tried googling them. Having seen so many unkempt community websites over the years, I was very impressed with Tui’s home in cyberspace. Here was a community that, not only updated their website more than once every couple of years, they had also posted relevant information and up-to-date contact details!

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Me and my favourite three co-wwoofers; Ine, the Beast & Mari. A very special time that was for 4 strangers turned family.

I wrote to Tyson, the current (excellent!) visitor coordinator, and told him that I was hoping to do some work, in exchange for a few weeks of accommodation and possibly some food. I also wrote that I was interested in conducting a few interviews for my community documentary. Little did I know that I was going to spend 3 whole months there, working for the community as well as nearly every household, doing more than 20 interviews and no doubt winning some genuine friends for many years to come!

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Beauty & The Beast Records Album In Quaint Queenstown!

I met Javi in the neatly utopian community of Tui in Golden Bay, where we were both WWOOF’ing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). It turned out that, not only did we have a mutual friend back in Australia, we were also both on the lookout for a fellow musician to travel with. After a month of jamming around the campfire, we decided to go on a tour of the South Island – it was to be the most epic hitchhike I have ever done…

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Beauty & The Beast at the “Half Way Around The World” point of their “Friend of a Friend of a Friend Tour”

The tour could well have been called The Friend Of A Friend Of A Friend Tour, because so many times we got picked up by amazing Kiwi’s who not only transported us but also fed and sheltered us and finally passed on the contacts of their friends who in turn did the same. And so it was that a sister of a friend in Tui, offered us to stay in their family’s beautiful old town house right in the center of the quaint little tourist trap of Queenstown.

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A Carpenter’s Pride

While my heart was busy breaking itself into pieces, my hands were busy doing carpentry for Carolyn’s new bush-house in Nimbin, Australia. I got hired on as a carpenter despite my lack of certificates etc. and I really enjoyed working with the ever-present hardwood which seems like the only type of wood there is in Australia. Here are some samples of my work…

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On this section I did all of the deck as well as the banister. Note the way the top of it “hugs” the bush pole. Took me a while to figure that one out…

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Taking On Big City Sydney

It was time to leave Lake Moogerah and my nomadic soul was cheerfully impatient. My travelling companion Anton and I had done the agreed 3 months of work at the adventure camp in exchange for an incredible life experience, a gift on so many levels if not financially. We were running low on dough and the plan was as old as the industrial revolution: Hitting the big city in search of well-paid work – we were going to Sydney.

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A view of the City Business District from Darling Harbour. Strange to know that there are so very few places in this incredibly big country where you can see skyscrapers instead of just bush, bush and more bush.

Near the end of our stay we had visitors from home. Kir and Ruth Anna are down under for a holiday from the Freetown and it was surreal and wonderful to suddenly see them in this tucked away corner of rural Australia. When the time was up, they decided to come South with us. With Swedish Jen from the camp also heading South, we came to be 5 people with luggage for 8, trying to fit into a regular sedan. It took us a whole day to pack up the car.

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Australians generally find it too strange that I’ve never had a car before in my life. I find it too wonderful! It might look like a gran’pa car, but with leather interior, electric sunroof and a powerful V6 engine it feels more like a luxury cruiser when you drive it.

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Hats Off For Snakes & Millionaires

For the quick-fix readers who will soon realize that this is yet another whopping 4-minute read and end up quickly browsing the pictures and move on; do at least scroll down and read the bold text, it might save your life 🙂

We were burning all the hundreds of branches we had collected over the summer holiday. After every bit of bad weather, Camp Moogerah’s massive green lawns were littered with dead foliage which we duly collected to make the property look presentable for the school camps. Now the time had finally come to torch the fruit of our work.

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“My alchol-infused brain, however, insisted on knowing more about how to murder a snake…”

The neighbours came over for a barbecue in the light of the blaze. Richard and Joan are millionaires and I worked for them. Anton and I had given their property a thorough trim with whipper-snippers, lawn-mowers and hedge cutters. Pleased with our effort, they invited us for dinner and drinks; two nomads with calloused hands and broken shoes sitting in a sparkling white leather couch, eating Black Angus steaks, each pound of meat worth more than half a day’s wages for us. Damn fine steak I tell you, and great company too.

As we watched the flames eat away our pile of stick-pickings, I ended up chatting to Richard. He is from Western Queensland. To anyone who knows a bit of Australian geography, Western Queensland means hardship, tough times and leathery skin. Born nearly 70 years ago, Richard grew up on the edges of the great inland deserts, where the land is like a cracked heel; dry, furrowed and painful. He didn’t come from money, he came from farmers and hard work – “yakka” they call it here – and Richard still does a hard day’s yakka every day, beginning at sunrise, tending to the nearly 100 premium horses he breeds for the glamorous race-tracks of Australia’s big cities.

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Not all snake encounters are serious…

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Making The Most Of Moogerah

 

It’s been a highly rewarding beginning of a year on so many levels. For one thing it has been the peak of summer instead of cold and dark winter. The pre-programmed hibernation/depression that every Dane is born with never kicked in this year. That’s nice. Although I must admit that a few times I’ve actually missed a bit of urban cave-dwelling around a wood-fired stove with the friends. Especially When Christmas rolled over I felt a bit of longing, but then again, it was hard to stay regretfull on the tropical beaches of Stradbroke Island with my best mate Anton.

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The only white about my Christmas was the crest on the waves and the froth on my beer (and the color of my ass compared to my suntanned back).

So where have I been exactly? Well, those of you who know me well will probably have a hard time picturing this, but I have been staying at an adventure sports camp by the scenic Lake Moogerah. Camp Moogerah is kind of like a permanent summer-camp where schools and other groups come to enjoy the great views and do kayaking, climbing, water-skiing, archery and much more.

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By now I know these mountain profiles like the back of my hand. Sure gonna miss ’em.

Nothing like a bit of natural scenery to dwarf your ego.

Nothing like a bit of natural scenery to dwarf your ego.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Same Old Great New

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A suitcase and a laptop, what more do you really need?

After the untimely death of my old computer, I am now back on track with a brand new and completely identical laptop. In other words, now I have no excuses not to write and write and then write some more. Please hold me to these words 😉

Big thanks to my AMAZING parents who sponsored my new workhorse – Portius. More than merely a great present, this is also a recognition of my dreams of being a writer. I only wish that everybody could have as supportive, understanding and loving parents as I do. Thank you! More

Goodbye Portius

Almost 2 years to the date when we first met, my great travelling companion and personal oracle Portius has perished and is no more. I am talking about my most beloved tool, my surf-supporter and writing enabler, the Asus Eee 1005PX laptop netbook which has now moved on to binary heaven.

To put it mildly, I am feeling quite P….. off and F…… annoyed not to mention being !#%@&*! over the fact that computers are made to last only for as long as the warranty does.

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The guy at the repair-shop just said “bin it!”. How do you just throw a friend out?

It was such a fine machine and, oddly enough, if I had the money I would go and by another one just like it. Poor Portius…

So, ladies and gentlemen, if we put these two facts together (no computer & not much money) we arrive at the conclusion that there will probably be a bit fewer posts on this blog here in the near future.

I will do my best not to let this happen though, and if any of you great people out there have a solution for me, do let me know!

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