How Can A Gate Work On A Globe?

We think of gates and fences and walls as a means to separate outside from inside, my stuff from everyone elses. We posit privacy based on quite ancient concepts without stopping to consider the actualities. Can we keep out thieves and murderers? That depends on how high and how dangerous our walls, fences, and gates are designed, one could say. But then we still have to emerge on occasion, and that greater world remains problematic when we choose to live in fear, especially of those we consider “the other”. And when we remain inside our fortresses, we still occasionally have to allow “the other” inside – repair people, maintenance people, perhaps even those few friends we still manage to trust – even if just so far.

This is not to say fences, walls and gates have no purpose, but that we need to find a balance between a fortress and the realization we all live on one round planet, and need to find ways to get along, perhaps even to build better communities. This is the difference between modern guarded estates and communities and older-style towns and villages where gates were as much about welcome as they were about “hey, this is my property, so knock first, OK?” The real security came from people making agreeable rules for getting along. Sure, there will always be some who refuse to respect those rules, but the trade-off allows better community life for the greatest number of people over the longer period of time. Gated communities, in my experience, have very little to show as “community” as opposed to security, and thus, isolation.

You always have to wonder: on a spherical planet, how does one actually determine “outside” from “inside”?

Doors of Perception

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Doors open both ways – allowing us in, and out. They invite, block, contain, and permit emergence. You may be welcome, or not. You may be drawn in, or unimpressed. But sooner or later, you will pass through.

 

(Thanks to Lillia D. for the photo of her lovely yurt in Northern California!)

My Second Gate

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Boundary Issues, 2016

About fifteen years ago, I designed and had built my first gate – you can see it in the blog’s header photo. Made largely of Honduran mahogany, salvage, actually, and not a single idea of what I was doing. My contractor was very skilled, and we worked together to make it a reality. It served as a focal point for us for many years, and we had many visitors and neighbors who would be happy to spend twenty minutes, or even an hour, just chatting over the gate. That was what actually instigated this blog, more than any other factor.

Now, we have moved to the country, and have some real acreage, and our dogs need room to run, without succumbing to the natural desire to chase deer and raccoons. So the project is different this time because we don’t live where there are a lot of pedestrians now, which makes the entire notion of a fence considerably different that with our first, so urban in nature. Now, this is more about dog-containment and privacy. But to do those things without considering the esthetics – as many do hereabouts – just seems like a waste of effort to us. So, here we go again!

Due to local codes, our front (road-facing) portion cannot exceed 6 feet, and the top 2 1/2 feet must have some sort of open aspect, such as lattice work or slats, which immediately sets limits for design, as well. But I am working on several ideas, and hope to have them ready to share here in the near future. I know they will be mostly redwood – as I have a lot available! And the driveway fence will be metal, because weight, mostly, is less that way, and the auto opener works better with the least amount of weight. So taking those two limits as starting points should make this quite interesting. Stay tuned, and as always, I would love your feedback, and for you to share this blog with your friends! And help me name our new deer herd!

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Been Gone So Long…

Hey, sorry, stepped out for a chat at the front gate and, well, I sort of got caught up in a fine conversation, and lost track of time. But it was worth it, because I gained a bit more insight into fences and gates and entrances, like the one I a  making right now!

For starters, I moved six months ago, and now am faced with building some fence and adding both a people gate and a driveway gate. It will occur over the coming months alongside another project that includes some landscaping as well. And as it unfolds, I will be posting updates, photos, design issues, and more! The first news however is I will be using – for the fence and people gate, redwood planking milled from a couple of my own trees! Don’t worry, we have lots more, and are using even the mulched scraps for the landscaping project.

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So stick around, drop by and watch the unfolding of this new feature, And if you have an interesting gate project, or have seen something out there worth sharing here, please do! I won’t be gone so long this time!

Open Gates

A recent visit to the lovely land of Ojai, California, led me to examine the differences between open gates and closed gates. Mostly, open gates are more correctly referred to as gateways, a framing of the way, you might say. The explicit meaning is of course the same as a closed gate – this is my property, and you are welcome to enter here. It is more akin to an honor system – “I trust you have no ill intentions, and as the rest of my property isn’t that well guarded anyway, let’s all just be on our best behavior, shall we?”

But the implicit meaning remains the same, and this particular gate(way) below is the best example I was able to find. Here, the materials of the gateway are all natural, but their components hold a subtle warning. If you are unable to guess the nature and substance of the warning, I strongly suggest you not enter within!!

 

Be pure of heart, else enter not..

Now, this is not a front gate proper, as it allows entry to a driveway, but it is the more common point of entry to most homes in Southern California. I mean, who the hell walks anywhere in Southern California? You would either get run over, or die of dehydration before you got a mile from home! Best to take the wheels.

 

 

 

 

A Visit to the Neighbors

As we humans began migrating to the cities over the past few hundred years, the front gate has nearly vanished in some places, at best to be replaced with security gates. Apartment and condominium developments require us to get “buzzed in.” In high-rise condos, there are often security guards. Our privacy has seemingly trumped neighborliness. We seem to approach every encounter with distrust as the default, rather than openness and trust. This is, in my view, the great failure of modernism, despite all the reasons that are put forth to defend these changes – more nut-jobs, more criminals, etc. But this seems like a chicken/egg argument to me – when we respond to a negative force with opposing negative force, we paint ourselves into a corner. Criminals just up the ante, and then we respond in kind. Pretty soon, it seems madness to not do so.

I work in a field where I have to knock on doors a lot. Often, this occurs in some rather dicey neighborhoods, but just as often, in more up-scale burbs, and I have come to find this type of distrust and fear rampant in both places. It is just a little better disguised in the up-scale communities, hidden behind better security, and never mentioned out loud. But once in a while, I get to visit small towns, where crime is far less an issue, and where neighborliness remains an art practiced by most local citizens. Even where there is no front gate, there is less suspicion when someone opens the door to ask what they can do for me, rather than asking what I want. A distinct lesson in the message conveyed by word choice!

Howdy, Neighbor!!

I am always curious – what do people want visitors to their homes to experience, from that first moment – approaching the home? Do they want people to feel welcome, or not so much? Are they hoping to impress with their wealth, or with their esthetic? Are they saying please get to your business and be on your way, or, hey, care for some lemonade? How we present our facade is exactly the same as how we choose to dress – it conveys something about who we are, how we act, what we respect. A front gate may not be how you wish to spend time expressing these things, but the gate contributes to those elements of communication despite our own intent. Here is a chance to think about that.

But do consider sitting on the front porch and having a cold drink while doing so!!

The Intrinsic Gate

Gates, as I have mentioned prior, are both a physical thing, and a metaphoric process, if you will. Each person can be, (though not all will be) a gate for others, a doorway to newer understanding, deeper resonances with the Universe. We open gates within ourselves, and serve to open gates for others, often never knowing we have done so. Some of these gates we open lead to good outcomes; others fall considerably short.

 

I think of spiritual guides as a kind of gateway, but I find that those without such intent, who nonetheless still open those gates for others, to be far more compelling. Perhaps it is the unplanned, unintentional aspect of these gates that intrigue me the most, I haven’t fully sorted it out yet. But many of us have met people who open their gates for us, just because that is who these people are. Welcome, they say, without words. Just with the sureness of their hearts.

Who knows what lies beyond?

Where You’d Least Expect It…

The world is a complicated mess, which is where most of its charm comes from, if you think about it. Sure, there is all the out-front stuff – politics being the dominant mess of the day – but there are also myriad hidden gems, people and places that can only be stumbled upon, and in that moment of taking the stumble, we get to for a brief moment remember that life is much more than the usual, the planned, the to-be-expected. My dearest and I had one such of those unexpected encounters yesterday, when we ran into an amazing man, with an even more amazing hobby/business/avocation.

Myanmar, or as some still call it, Burma, has been in the news often because of it’s political repression by a military dictatorship, and more recently, for what on the surface at least appears to be a slowly changing situation for the better. What most in the West do NOT know about Myanmar is that the people keep trying to live decent, spirit-filled lives, often led by the Buddhist monks who have been a dominant social force in the country for centuries. Their monasteries abound throughout the country, and these monasteries are storehouses of both spiritual knowledge, and the essentials of the ancient and honorable Burmese culture as a whole, including the arts. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the architecture of the monasteries themselves.

The Hidden Monastery of the Singular Monk

This is the work of one David Van Leeuwen, and much more of his work can be seen at http://www.davidjaap.com, and I strongly urge you to visit his site. The gateway below is called the Lotus Flower Gateway, and is a copy of a 200-year-old monastery in Mandalay. He makes his gateways and other Burmese sculptures by taking rubber molds from actual wood carvings, and then pours them with reinforced concrete mortar, some with pigmentation added, and some with paint. He sells his sculptures and gateways as a way to raise funds to help build schools, water wells, and other community improvement projects in the small villages of Burma/Myanmar.

This copy of a gateway from a 200-year-old monastery sits among giant eucalyptus trees a world away from Myanmar.

Below is David, Standing inside one of his Dragon Gateways:

Does the dragon matter entering, or exiting through the gateway? And how will you change?

David is truly the embodiment of a world-changing artist, and I hope you take the time to get to know about him, and the amazing work he is doing to change it, one village at a time!! Come on, step through the Dragon’s Gate!! Just click on it, and you will be instantly transported. How cool is that!!??

Iron and Steel

As I have said several times now, if you are mostly concerned about security, then metal is going to be your best choice for fence and gate materials. But you don’t have to settle for ugly, just because it’s iron or steel. Aluminum? Meh. But even that can be OK if you paint it. In fact, unless you are using galvanized or otherwise coated metals, a good base of rust/corrosion preventative covered by several coats of highly weather-resistant paint will offer many years of beautiful duty. This is especially critical if you live in a moist climate, and even more so if you live near an ocean, as the salt air will not be your friend. A great example from Mrjom’s Blog, on his Iron Gates page, shows just how far you can take a gate design and still offer security:

 

An excellent example of meta-art!

There are a great number of possible metal gate designs, limited by imagination, and of course, budget. But the act of creating a fence and gate are part of the long-term infrastructure of a property’s life, and need to last and remain enjoyable for many, many years. Both wood and metal can offer these solutions, but care and upkeep will vary. The quality of materials, the ease of maintenance, and the relevance of the design are all equal factors to the value of the investment.

After all, you don’t want to be coming home one day, and wonder why you ever decided on this particular design. Unless you are a billionaire – which most of us are not – in which case just tear that sucker down and have yourself a do-over. And when you are done there, come on over and do mine, what say?

Pure Panache!

Art, it is often said, is firmly lodged in the eye of the beholder. But art is also something found in unexpected places, and can play upon our minds in quite unconscious ways. Nothing does this better than a truly artistic gate, and as it is this aspect of gates that I am especially attracted to, I am pleased to share one with you that comes from a fellow gate aficionado, over at MrJOM’s Blog. This shot comes from a house in Victoria, and while it might be obvious to anyone who’s had the pleasure of visiting that sweet town, those not so enlightened might suspect this photo is an aberration. We experienced Victoria-philes can assure you otherwise – Victoria is chock-full of beautiful homes and beautiful gates. You should really try to stop over sometime!

 

“We have our own perspective on life, and are NOT afraid to show it to the world!”

Thanks to Joseph de Lange, at http://mrjom.com

 

 

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