Romancing Rousseau

When I was about twelve I had a huge crush on Jean Jaques Rousseau.
Kind of strange to have a crush on an 18th century philosopher, but there was a portrait of him in my history textbook which caught my attention.
Which is probably what also happened to all the ladies two centuries ago when they saw a picture of this notorious author with his scandalous book(s).
Mind you, he did have some stiff competition from James Woods, Aidan Quinn and Kenneth Branagh.
I was so smitten with J.J. by the time I turned thirteen I had read Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse, Emile ou de l’éducation and le Contrat Social.
But then my fancy turned to other authors and J.J. fell out of favour.

I was in my Architectural Theory class on Friday when the subject turned to authenticity in architecture and the subject started with the theme of 'Exodus out of the culture of falseness'. Three minutes in and lo and behold: who appeared on the screen?
Mr Rousseau himself, with that seductive smile and those dreamy eyes of his!


Reading assignment

I got a small reading assignment for my class on Conservation of Monuments.
It's Meer dan hout en Steen. Handboek voor sluiting en herbestemming van kerkgebouwen by Harry Bisseling, Henk de Roest & Peet Valstar (eds.). It's a recent publication (2011) published by the protestant Uitgeverij Boekencentrum.

The closure of churches is a higly topical subject and the book looks like it has a well thought about structure, but I'm a bit worried the anecdotal/religiously inspired side of the book will overpower the researched part.
Nothing wrong with that, but not an angle law-makers or estate agents will be interested in.
I'm preparing a presentation for my fellow students (all of them architect-engineers) on this book, it's due within a couple of weeks.


Cold feet in church?

These drawings were taken from a 1931 Dutch Roman Catholic magazine reporting on an efficient heating installation for church goers.
The author of the article complains about how much cold he has suffered in Roman Catholic churches for want of proper heating.

Even priests in the pulpit, for as long as three quarters of an hour at temperatures somewhere around freezing point, can have their own made to measure pulpit-heating. This was sold by Siemens-Schukert in The Hague.

To this day no research has been done on how many of these were actually sold and how much of these remain in churches up to this day.
A lot of them have ignorantly been removed during restauration campaigns or for conservation purposes. Alas it is still not recognized that electrical installations (among other 'modern' comforts) are also very much part of the church interior and its history. It has every right to be studied, conserved and researched, just like -say- a 17th century devotional statue.
I intend to do my small bit of awareness raising through my paper on electrical lighting in churches.


Ongoing research

I was in Nijmegen (The Netherlands) at the Radboudt University this week doing some research for my paper on electric lighting in chuches.
Very nice library staff, very cosy lounge area and ... good cofee from the coffee machine to keep me going!

Alas the book lift was being serviced, so it took a little bit longer to get the books and magazines I ordered from the reserves.
There was an annoying man sitting opposite me reading the newspapers and incessantly clicking his biro.
I sensed he was looking up to me now and again to see if I was going to say anything or getting visibly annoyed.
I was however too immersed in all the wonderful stuff I found and loving every minute of it.
They always say you're allowed to celebrate with brandy if you've done a great archive find (well, that's what one of my professors has coerced me into believing).

The lighting on the desks was slightly inefficient (too far back toward the middle of the table to assume a comfortable reading position) and I had to move the volumes to and thro to take pictures which would have an admissible light level.
This resulted in some black marks being left on the nice white desk surface. Heh. Mrs B leaves her mark...


Drilling Erasmus

Marc Dessauvage's building the Erasmusgebouw in Leuven is being torn apart (slightly) by builders. They are, among other things, removing original doors fitted in 1972 and using them as planks to put debris (lighting fixtures, ceiling adapters for modular ceiling panels etc.) inside the big skip blocking one of the side entrances.

Alas they are using heavy machinery to redo some rooms that have to be adapted to accommodate the ever growing number of students. The drilling is resonating throughout the building and is reaching upper floors of the library.
I am currently in the reference room on the first floor and am going (now as a matter of fact) to relocate to another building on site to escape the monotone machine music.



Mine. Just not big enough.
Day. Just got 24 hours.
Sleep. Just not enough of it.
Grades. Straight A's. Can't get enough of them.
Weather. Not enough degrees or sunshine.
Dr Livingstone. Dearest person in my life.
Mouser. Afraid of 2D polar bears in living room.


Endcat will end you and all you love

Mouser doing the old Endcat routine (combined with an excellent Basement Cat!) while Dr Livingstone and I were rummaging around in the stables.

Kitteh jumped teh Big Moat! Look at the cute little hind paws so neatly together and the 'this-is-a-piece-of-cake' look while hovering in mid-air!


Garden Remodelling Part 1

Miller B phoned me up on Saturday if I needed any more stuff in the garden that needed the chainsaw-treatment.
I had, but it was freezing -8ºC @ the time.
He came over anyway and Dr Livingstone and myself braved the cold weather to be of some assistance.

In no time all sorts of greenery had been cut down and cut up.
A ghastly row of conifer hedge was in bits after half an hour (and cleared away under an hour). Now the east side of the house will be able to bask in the morning sunshine. And we will get more light in the kitchen and bathroom too.

Miller B wielded his chainsaw about and the greenery dwindled rapidly.
Also three bits of one tree growing in all kinds of unsatisfactory directions were trimmed to a stump. I left the best one alone, it stands very neatly upright, gives a bit of shelter and perching possibilities for birds, plus some shade in the summer.
The before and after pictures aren't really very clear, they have been taken in a completely different season and at a slightly different angle.
That bit of the garden looks twice as big now, lots of ideas bubbling up to fill up and clear away.

So a nice bit of extra fire wood for the stove to burn in 2014, extra sunlight in the morning and the first phase of the garden remodelling project well underway (although unplanned, but still...). \o/ Woohoo!
Thank you Miller B!


False Lynx sighting

The birds stopped pecking at the lovely grease balls, flew away and all perched high up on the tree. They were waiting for something to go away.
Mouser saw what was causing the commotion. I retraced the gaze to something wandering about in the far corner of the garden, loitering towards the stables.
Alas, it wasn't a lynx (Lynx lynx), nor was it a Garden Panther (Panthera gardengnomus)™ but a Garden Tiger (Panthera tigris gardengnomus)™, never sighted before in the suburban wilderness of Exotic Belgium.


Bird eat & drink boutique

Mouser hasn't been out much these last few days, maybe half an hour in total. The cold is very hard on all four of Velvet Claws™.
Snuggling up to the Franco Belge is much more cosy.
It started snowing around 3 pm yesterday, Dr Livingstone and I were going to stop working at 4 pm, but we just carried on and I drove home just before dark. I love driving around in the snow and slipping all over the place. Dr Livingstone said I missed my calling as a rally driver.

Around nine this morning it was really cold. I put out food for the birds and replenished what had already been gobbled up by the little critters.
This afternoon when the sun came out I strategically placed myself in the conservatory and took some pictures of the guests in the open air eat & drink boutique.
In just under ten minutes I counted 9 kinds of birds. I didn't get any pictures of the jays, crows, magpies or the woodpecker Dr Livingstone heard this morning.

Cyanistes caeruleus

Fringilla coelebs

Parus major

Passer domesticus

Erithacus rubecula

Turdus Merula


It's cold in Europe

It's so cold here even the AT-AT walkers blend into the background.


Condensation Art

Dr Livingstone made some surprising art work on the inside of the window this morning, back lit by the rising morning sun. I asked him what he had drawn on the window. From left to right: a horse, my car, our house, a tree.
Dr Livingstone: "I started out with the idea to draw Mouser, but I ended up drawing a horse."
Mrs B: "What's that next to it?"
Dr Livingstone: "Your car."
Mrs B: "But it has legs."
Dr Livingstone:"Yes it does."
Mrs B: "Is that our house next to it?"
Dr Livingstone: "Yes."
Mrs B: "But it has got a gable roof."
Dr Livingstone shrugs.
Mrs B: "And it has a pair of eyes."
Dr Livingstone: "Yes."
Mrs B: "Cool".