Deep in the Heart of Texas

Welcome to Imperial Feng Shui

Richard Ashworth

Feng Shui Diary

for the month of the Wood Horse

Monday June 6th 2011 09.43

 

Hour

Day

Month

Year

Metal

Water

Wood

Metal

quai

yum

gap

tsun

muw

shun

ng

muw

Rabbit

Dragon

Horse

Rabbit

“Do you think feng shui can have a knock on effect? Just wondered as the trainer in the yard is having lots of winners and so are our neighbours.”

Judy, Berkshire.

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 Deep in the Heart of Texas

A policy of aggression leads only to vengeance. Kung FuTse (Confucius) Analects.

It’s been twenty years since I last visited Texas and even that was really only a stopover. Before that it was in the summer of 1963 that I drove with my family across the panhandle en route to California. Later that summer I surfed at Hawthorn Beach, possibly sharing the same waves as the Beach Boys – well the thin ones who surfed anyway. I was ten. It rained on us in the Mojave Desert, the driest place on Earth; which is around as common as a heatwave in the Arctic Circle. That’s a long time ago and I have spent no further time in Texas since.

The first thing you notice about Texas is that it is so Spanish. And Hispanic people are not an underclass. They were here first and everyone speaks Spanish. Otherwise there’s not that much ethnic variation; someone joked – Kinky Friedman ? – that it’s illegal to be Jewish here.

The second thing you notice is that Texas is so big. Gothenburg, the town I’ll be working in is, in terms of amenities and people, the size of a small market town but it’s miles long and the main street is a four-lane highway. There’s no question of walking. Transport is by four-by-four.

I’m heading for the Texas hill country where I’ll be helping Dale with the house she is building on a thirty-acre plot. The last time she self-built her then-husband left. Understandably she’s been fussing over a series of draft plans for a year or so. What’s needed is that she gets started. She’s a Wood Sheep, the Animal that contains best the sort of extended family in which there are no formal names for the relationships, but she’s kind of attached to husband number two and we don’t want any more of that, do we?

Next Year: Jackson

They say that travel broadens the mind. What’s certainly true is that extreme views are born of ignorance. The British National Party can only talk about England for the English because they don’t know any history, Hitler failed all his senior exams except Art and PT. I like to know where I am and to do that you have to listen.

As the plane taxis after landing I have Anchorage by Texas songwriter Michele Shocked on my i-pod when the pilot asks the passengers in a quietly urgent voice to stay in their seats. Two police – a woman and a man – enter the plane.

“Is Daniel Feinberg on this aircraft?” the male officer calls out.

A hand goes up behind me at a window seat. The police walk briskly in that direction. The officer asks the couple in the aisle and middle seats to make their way to the front of the plane. His voice is efficient rather than threatening but it’s a tone you don’t argue with. Feinberg edges across to the aisle.

“Sir, are you Daniel Feinberg?”

The man nods.

“Then I’m arresting you,” he replies turning Feinberg around and putting cuffs on him.

Oh my God, Kinky Friedman was right.

Anchorage, although of course named after the capital of Alaska, the only state bigger than Texas, takes the form of a letter from Michele Shocked’s long lost best friend who now has a “six month old baby girl.” She recalls when “we was wild” and suddenly realises they have both become adult.

“Chel, I think I’m a housewife.”

Perfect lyrical violin solo, wonderful production by Pete Anderson.

Texas is of course in the extreme South of the United States and to the South of Texas is Mexico which is the direction we expect trouble in 2011, the South being where the irritating 7 Flying Star of interference and attack, sits this year. Mexico bears something of the geographical relationship to the USA that North Africa does to Europe; the Arab Spring still looks hopeful, the War on Drugs hangs in the balance. In Northern Mexico 35,000 people have died violently so far this year and it’s only June.

Texas, as Michele sings, is so big.

In the luggage retrieval there’s a guy with an Osama sleeps with the fishes  t-shirt and there are lots of patriotic signs welcoming troops back to San Antonio.

Full of Beans

Next morning I am at breakfast with Dale and her husband Sam, who invites me to order whatever I want. Sam and his buddy George are like all the men in the coffee shop, wearing denim, boots and stetsons. This is cowboy country.

“Baked beans on toast, please” I tell the waitress. But it turns out they only have pinto beans which are not the same thing at all.

“Another icon blown,” I say. “There were baked beans on the campfire in The SearchersThe CommancherosShe wore a Yellow Ribbon….. I suppose you’re going to tell me all John Wayne’s films were just fiction.”

Dale nods.

“Even The Alamo?”

“Especially the Alamo.”

“Noooo,”

Sam and George are deeply concerned about the Drug Wars. The murdered include government officials, police and journalists.

George approves of the shooting of journalists. He’s a bit confused. He thinks the reports about the elimination of Osama Bin laden were unpatriotic.

“Yu git um and yu git the hell out. Ain’t nobody’s business how yu done it. Everbody knows why.”

I’m kind of shocked but then he talks affectionately about his children and I remember he’s human. I dont know what Animal George is but Sam is a Pig which of course makes him a pretty good fit with Dale.

The Deer Hunter

We find the plot. There are perhaps twenty dwellings in a two hundred acre development. Dale tells me how one is a weekend home and that one has been empty for some while and this other has hardly been used. There are no fences.

“This is about containment,” I say. Dale frowns.

We arrive at their plot. It’s several minutes walk from edge to edge; scrub, brush and native oaks. To one limit there is what you and I might call a lake but they refer to as “the pond”. Texas is, as I say, big.

I’m with Dale by the flimsy fence that marks the extent of their property. There is a queue of deer jumping the fence one by one.

“It’s about containment,” I repeat. For the most part this job is not about anything more than constructing a home that people are happy to stay in. “It couldn’t be more clear if they were giving us the finger.” Not of course that cloven hooves lend themselves to such gestures of defiance.

Her plan is for a substantial one-level home that mirrors the traditional homes of the Northern Germany their ancestors hail from. I’m no architectural historian but I remember these types of house from a trip through Westphalia in 2001.

I like a house to be slightly but not too far off the centre of the plot. Feng shui tends to favour near rather than actual symmetry. That’s why the Foo Dogs that mark the entrance to Taoist temples come in unmatched pairs: yin and yang, one with the pup and the other with the football, as my friend Master Howard Choy has it.

Here, the flood plain which Dale has laid out on a chart for me, dictates a small area where the building will fit. In any case we want the safety of height behind and open space in front and the slope which discourages the flood, will permit only a limited choice of facing directions. All this I know already from the dvds Dale has been emailing me since we started talking late last year and I have already prescribed an orientation.

What I couldn’t tell from the video was exactly how the pond fitted into the picture. Nor how the trees blocked it from the house. With a little squinting I can see just how the house will fit and where and now I set Dale to marking out her cottage garden. Bless her, she does exactly as she’s told.

“I’ve booked you into a little ol’ b’n’b,” she says as she drives. The little ol’ b’n’b is called the Hangar Hotel. It’s an aircraft hangar. It’s big enough to house a brace of Super Fortesses. There are thirty five rooms.

Next day Dale and Sam drive back and forth like Hansel and Gretel in mpvs and I work out that the natural line to the pond is close to due East – the Rabbit. I suggest a garden gate on this line and identify the smallest number of trees that have to go.

Bingo! The upshot is a perfect Sam Hap or Three Harmony configuration. Sam Hap which is based around the Twelve Chinese Animals, is one of the two major traditions of compass school feng shui. The underlying principle is that each of the Animals belongs in a certain location of the compass and cooperates with two others: Rat with Dragon and Monkey, the Horse with Dog and Tiger, Rooster with Snake and Ox and which concerns us, Sheep with Rabbit and Pig. So if we have a house facing, as we do, into the magical Sheep orientation which enjoys special health benefits, we are looking for energy in the direction of the Rabbit and Pig. And lo and behold we have a door at the Pig, water at the Rabbit and Sheep facing. These are all yang (or active) so I’ll need to balance them up with some stillness but that’s a great problem frankly. It’s been worth a ten-thousand mile round trip. The icing on the cake of course is that Dale and Sam are respectively Sheep and Pig. That’s tao biz.

Dale has marked out the perimeter. Sam summons the architect who is also the builder. He brings cinder blocks – breeze blocks to you – and I mark the line that the back wall must sit on. We find a partworked Comanche axe head which I ask him to bury under the wall. He is part-Comanche himself. I ask whether they have any geomantic tradition.

“The Comanche time all actions to respect the Sun and Moon,” he says. Sounds like feng shui to me.

This month only

This month the South which is ruled by fire, that is prominence, publicity, promotion and that sort of thing, holds the 8 Flying Star of wealth and progress. Orthodox advice is to steer clear of the South this year because it holds the unfortunate 2 Annual Star and make use of other areas for extroversion. However for numerological reasons which I won’t go into here, the 8 neutralises the bad effects of the 2. If you’ve followed so far, consider experimentally opening a door or window to the South to bring the attention of the world to your door er….or window.

Great Sheikhs

Shortly before Osama Bin Laden’s demise I was asked to comment on a house like his in Abbottabad, in a triangular plot. In effect such a shape lacks half the eight different varieties of energy. The cure is to use hedges and fences to restore it as far as possible to a regular shape. Best not to buy it at all. Too late now, I guess..

©Richard Ashworth 2011

The Chestnut Suite,

 Guardian House, Borough Road,
Godalming, Surrey, GU7 2AE
Tel. 01483 428998
email: info@imperialfengshui.info
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