28 November 2013


Every Thanksgiving, before I start the barbecue and make a turkey breast for the dinner invitation we have later that day, weather allowing I go for a motorcycle ride.

And already, that little custom of mine – both rituals, ride and 'cue, I celebrate without my wife's participation, who is busy preparing other dishes – hints at plenty of occasions to be thankful for. Typically this day's ride is slow and reflective, thinking of major events of the past months. I once had lost a riding buddy the previous summer, and found myself the whole ride in prayer for him and his family.

Unity of Fort Lauderdale taught me to thank the Lord for what I have and for what I affirm.

And if I open my eyes, there is so much more to be grateful for than to bitch about. Yes, I didn't close every single client this year I planned to; yes, my wife and I will have to move by end of January; yes, I didn't have time to do a major task this year so I have to face it next.

But when I look around, I am always astonished about blessings large and small, hiding within plain sight. A ride, a feast, a building, the love of friends and family, the fragrance of an orange groove  riding through it, recognition for a job well done, a happy client, a flourishing business, a beautiful basket of pears, my health, my marriage. I am grateful. Try it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Pears Bad Oynhausen/Lake Constance, ©tckaiser

15 November 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright's Auldbrass Plantation

Few modern architecture aficionados know that Frank Lloyd Wright designed a complete plantation, located in South Carolina's low country: Auldbrass in Beaufort County, near the town of Yemassee.

Known since 1736 as Mount Pleasant, Wright renamed the property Auldbrass (from "Old Brass") and designed the (smallish) main house, stables and other buildings for an industrial engineer, Leigh Stevens, who had joined five parcels to form the plantation.

After quite a tumultuous ownership history – last in line a club of local hunters with little interest in modern architecture or preservation – movie producer Joel Silver ("Matrix", "Hudson Hawk", Die Hard", "Lethal Weapon" etc.) bought the property in 1986 for $148,000. With a permanent staff of ten including an architect, Mr. Silver since has sunk considerable funds into preserving and restoring Auldbrass, as well as finishing buildings designed by Wright but never built.

The plantation is open to the public every two years for only two days, thus tickets sell out within days of becoming available. During this year's window, I was able to visit Auldbrass on November 3rd with a fun troupe from NCMH, the North Carolina non-profit for the preservation of modern architecture.

The wait to get in was well over 1.5 hours – no timed tickets, yet – so I unfortunately did not have a chance to see every building; in addition, interior photos are strictly (and understandably so) verboten by the owner.

Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Path to the main house
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Main house, pool on the right, entry on the far left
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Dining room on the left, main house adjacent to the right
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Dining room shows angled walls and copper rain spouts
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Kitchen windows details
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Clerestory windows, main house with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Window detail, main house
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Window detail, dining room
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Dining room from opposite side
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Angled walls at bedrooms (not to be entered by the public)
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Pool and main house
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
Auldbrass plantation ©Tobias Kaiser
More details about Auldbrass and South Carolina plantations can be found here. If you have visited Auldbrass, I'd love to hear your impressions!
All photos ©tckaiser