Waking in the Trees (Watch for the Giant Dragonfly!)

dragonfly2

The road to our friends’, Brent and Susanna’s house is scary at first….but breathtakingly beautiful.  The narrow trail  winds through a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains near Los Gatos, dangerously close, at times, to the edge of the mountain…but the air is fresh and smells of eucalyptus and I get high from the joy of even being there.

windy road

I loved it that our directions told us to “watch for the giant dragonfly”.  I think that summed up the entire experience quite nicely!

Apart from my husband and children, I admire Brent Sumner more than just about anyone…and now that he has married his beautiful love, Susanna, there is another person in the mix to love and admire.   Brent is an artist in every respect of the word.  His entire life is a work of art, and it appears he has chosen the perfect partner to share it all with.  Susanna is a practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine and together, they are building a beautiful home on the side of the mountain.

brent and susanna

The instant we arrived, we were surrounded by creativity, art and beauty….not that there is a difference between any of those things.  Brent seems to have mastered the art of living.  He is respectful of the earth, and tries to minimize his impact on it.  He uses things from nature to carve out this incredible existence, and is one true inspiration!

This our car at the beautiful entrance gate that Brent built.

gate

Their house is a work in progress, still under construction, built into the side of the mountain, almost entirely from recycled materials by Brent, himself.  It is multi-leveled and beautiful and cozy, at once.  When we arrived, Brent was working on the upper level, creating a room for Susanna to practice her Ayurvedic medicine

house2

The picture above was taken facing the house.  The picture below is of the view from the other direction.  Everything is about nature there.   Everything is beautiful.

view

These sweet tempered glass mosaic globes line the walk up the drive to the house.

unlit globes

They are solar powered.  At night, they glow with beautiful color, lending a magical overtone to the environment.

globes

There are artful little touches everywhere, such as these mosaics on the steps that were created by Brent’s lovely dynamo of a mum, Dhaj, in her 80’s and currently visiting Turkey.  Dhaj lives in New Zealand, but visits Brent and Susanna when she can. We were sorry to have missed her again this year.  Dhaj is a force to be reckoned with!

steps

The living room/kitchen of the house is a long, narrow room with a bank of windows that overlooks the mountainside.  Susanna and Brent prepared a lovely dinner for us the night we got there, and a delicious breakfast the next morning.

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brent coffee

dinner

We had cocktails made from the passionfruit that grows right outside their door.  Brent scratched some designs into the fruit even before it was picked.

passionfruit

Everything about this hobbit house is artful and beautiful.  Brent did a lot of the interior work using his product, Darjit! a sculpting compound that he makes from recycled materials.

kitchen

Perhaps the highlight of our stay was sleeping in the treehouse that night.  Brent built this himself, with a little help from his friends.  I think my son, Myles, helped at some point, too.

treehouse

It was sooooo wonderful waking up in the forest with such a magnificent view!  The air was fresh and crisp and cool, and the sounds of the forest were incredible!  Brent had warned me that I probably wouldn’t want to get out of bed the next morning, and he was right.  I could have stayed in that spot forever!                              

stacy treehouse bedThe picture that follows is a view of the upper room of the treehouse as seen from the bed on the far end of the room.  As you can see, it is open to the air…(and the lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) on one side.  Delightful!

treehouse room

This is the beautiful outdoor shower in the main house.  It smells of fresh spearmint and flowers.   This is what it looks like when you face the shower….

shower

However, if you turn around and let the water wash over your back, THIS is your view!  Nirvana!

shower view

There were happy little hummingbirds all over the place.  They are my favorite birds.  I think I know how they feel living up on the mountain near Brent and Susanna, and I must say…..I am a little envious.

hummingbird

Feeling deep gratitude in my heart today, that Brent and Susanna are our friends, and feeling very thankful for this beautiful experience that they gifted us with.  Thanks, guys.   With love.

The Creation of a Garden Throne

This is a video of our family friend, Brent, applying a special sculpting compound that he invented called, “Darjit!”.  The product is made of recycled phone books, clay, water, acrylic paint and a little magic.  It is named after Brent’s mom, Dhaj, who is also a friend.  They are from New Zealand, but Brent lives in a treehouse in the Santa Cruz mountains part of the time, and some of the time he lives in a magnificent cottage that he built into the side of the mountain.   My husband and I are in the planning stages of making a documentary film about him.

This is a picture of the two of us working on creating my Darjit! garden throne.  We sort of made up the architecture as we went along.  John helped, too.  It was so much fun!

I started with an old, broken down plastic lawn chair.  Brent applied steel mesh and rebar to make the chair taller and to give it some shape.  We later added some crooked cone shapes around the perimeter.  We just played and tried different things.  There was a lot of laughing and story telling.  It was a good time.

This is what it looked like when we started to add the first coat of Darjit!  At this point, I was thinking it was pretty hopeless.   Brent kept assuring me that it would look fine as soon as we applied the second coat.    After the first coat was on, we left it overnight to dry.

This is a side view.  The mosaic in the background is one that I worked on with world famous artist, Isaiah Zagar.  If you aren’t familiar with him, google his name.  He was featured in the award-winning film, “In a Dream” which I highly recommend.  Compelling story that really captures the Zagar family. 

For awhile,  my handsome son, Myles, went to live in a yurt on the compound where Brent lived, at the time, in the Santa Cruz mountains.  Brent taught Myles how to make Darjit! and they created some amazing, amazing things there.  Then, Myles became a sculpture teacher.  This is a picture of him with one of his students.

This is the front view of my garden throne.  The large tile at the top was hand made by Isaiah Zagar and given to me as a gift when he and his wife, Julia, stayed in our Oakland loft with us for 5 days while Isaiah taught a mural making class.

This is the back of the throne.  Brent talked me into giving it a “spine” and small, stubby “tail”.  I embedded gems in it as well.

This is a picture of our granddaughter, Maya, who is standing in front of a magnificent dragon that the guys made at the compound in Santa Cruz.  Its eyes light up when a car approaches!

Knowing Brent was a highlight of our life in the Bay Area.   We stay in touch and try to get together whenever we can.   He’s a great guy and our family loves him a lot.