Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Eve 2012

We returned from Washington at nearly 2am on Saturday. Planes had been diverted and flights delayed... so getting to bed by 3:30 am felt welcome!
The house has passed its framing inspection and work proceeds... our fabulous builder Ralph will be working tomorrow on New Year's Day!
Here is a glimpse of the snow around the sunroom windows.


This beautiful picture was taken from just outside our sunroom, looking southwest. The drifting snow and setting sun seemed to almost dance with light and a glorious incandescence. 

We were amazed that our builder had been working nearly unceasingly with different subcontractors and were delighted with all the work that had been done when we visited for the first time in a week...

This evening we have decided that we need to spend quiet time in reflection and meditation, allowing all the events of this extraordinary year in our lives to be held in reverence and quietude. Although friends here have invited us to other celebrations, they have been utterly supportive of our need to reflect and restore as we look toward the New Year.

In the same way the sunshine lights the white snow, remembrances of this year  light my spirit. There has been much sadness and dark shadow, but equally...the hope and joy in all that is yet-to-be, all that is manifesting, these things brighten and illuminate and give sustenance.

As 2013 opens its unknown self to me, I open to its mystery and trust that the light contained within the unfolding of each day will yield this kind of beauty , this kind of singular delight.

Happy New Year to all of you, who have journeyed with us each step of our way...


Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve...

So here we are on Christmas Eve, and at last the roof shingles are in place. Now the house can be sealed and work begin in earnest inside.
Here at the cottage, the snow is thick: at least 8 inches on the deck; but the roads are clear.
This bridge takes the walker out into the 62 acres of the land behind the cottage...


The refrain of "I'll be home for Christmas..." comes to mind when I look at the photograph of these lovely little birdhouses, which adorn the gate to the vegetable garden, now nestled, as are these, under nearly a foot of snow.

I am particularly drawn to the two on the right, the light was shining at an angle which almost made them appear to be illuminated from within.

And, so too, are each of us...

May this holiday season be filled with unexpected moments of delight, renewal of spirit, and hope for the unfolding of each of our lives, individually, and, as part of the global family to which we are all born.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Winter Wanderland

Its a white Christmas here at our rental cottage and the birds are a delight... hopping about amongst the snow laden branches of the wisteria. Yesterday I watched the squirrel poking around for nuts in the wind driven snow, every so often blinking against the snowflakes as they were blown into its eyes.
But its the Cardinal that captivates against the white...


And here are six beautiful sparrows, the Northeastern America birding book describes the males as appearing as though "dipped in raspberry juice"...and yes, they do look as they have been.

I think this would make a wonderful panoramic print. It delights me to see not only this photograph, but all the images being captured by Nicholas in this season of our lives.

Again, as I have mentioned so many times since beginning this blog, I am amazed at all that presents itself to me when I create time for absolute presence. The beauty and privilege of witnessing the gentle creatures outside our window, seeking sustenance is humbling and reminds me of how gently we need to walk ourselves through our lives, careful in every moment to give what we are able to, and to recognize the blessing in doing so.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Sudden Snow

Well, we've been waiting a week for the final shingles to be installed, but as of today the roofer has not completed the last piece of work, which is a slight blow, because it delays the next mortgage drawdown until after the holidays.
And sudden snow in Dryden today added to the delay... no matter. Our builder Ralph is confident all will take shape in due course. Electrical outlets are being placed and we have a shower base and a tub!
Here at the cottage, the pond is thickly frozen and the pine trees are beautiful.


Today is the Winter Equinox...

Outside our cottage is this little lighthouse, illuminated by a golden light, which comes on automatically when night begins to fall.

It reminds me that a light within the darkness is profoundly beautiful.

It reminds me that we are, each of us, vibrating atoms of light...even when we are asked to bear witness to pain and grief unspeakable, we each have a choice to reflect the light of kindness, and compassion, and to hold gently a belief in a world where, rather than fear and ignorance, light and love guide our each and every step.

May we each grow in wisdom and the capacity to respect and recognize one another as we truly are...and in so doing may we find peace.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Yesterday the roofers started placing the shingles... there are no gutters yet.
This view shows the West view of the house... a wall of windows in the basement where I propose to exhibit paintings.

The siding should be installed early next year so the next few months will be all about the interior.
We've ordered the kitchen appliances though... with 25% discount at Sears!

So much is coming into completion on the house this week...when we arrived at the house mid-afternoon yesterday, to find not a single workman on site, we thought the roof would not be completed things until late next week (as deteriorating weather is forecast)...but then, at about 3:30, while we were inside, measuring a few things, the crew arrived and began to prep the roof for the shingling...which will be finished by Sunday morning!

We have keys to our doors, our windows are in, our home is feeling more and more a reality and a daily reminder that change is constant, inevitable, this moment...joyous.

Friday, 14 December 2012


Our windows are installed and we have a front door with a key! Suddenly the bare structure feels like a home and the cathedral like timbers make even more sense.

These energy efficient double hung windows are filled with argon to reduce heat loss and can be easily cleaned from the inside!
This view is the corner of the living room and to the left will be the fireplace...

And this is the view from just outside my healing room, the kitchen/dining room/sunroom on the room directly ahead...guest room and bath on the right.

Yesterday, as we stood in the middle of the house, discussing the built-in shelving for the stereo and books in the living room, the built-in units for the office/library and the cabinets for Nicholas' studio, it all seemed so very real.

Last night, thanks to my Mom, we witnessed part of an incredible display of meteorites. We opened up the sun loungers, bundled up in fleecy blankets and gazed into the starry was almost difficult to make our wishes upon them, as they left their blazing so many of ours are already coming true....

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


We had rain all day Monday and so progress was slowed a little, but the roof is now ready to be shingled. Ralph tells me that the roofer will arrive today, as will the doors and windows. This shows the beginning of the porch.

Inside, the forest of timbers is slowly drying out...

Here is a photograph of Nicholas' footprints...on the snow-covered deck...he went outside to turn off our Christmas lights last evening BAREFOOT!

I now know that the indoor switches to control the outdoor lighting in the new house are imperative, given his inclination to bucking my insistence that he bundle up, wear his winter coat and boots, etc...sigh...

He is wonderful and has been visiting the house without me this week, as I have begun teaching at the massage school during the week. As I only have 1/2 days on Thursday and Friday...I will be able to see the progress with the shingles, the doors and the windows...what a Christmas gift!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Ice Sculptures

This evening we went down to Ithaca Commons after Judy had finished work. The ice sculptors had had a good day, but now their creations were gleaming in the night lights and melting, drip by drip.

Driving home, we passed a number of houses lit up by the most garish assemblage of lights you could imagine....!
Nicholas was definitely more external lighting for the holidays than we had seen in years...
Santa's reindeer are a little blurry, because they are moving...yep...that's what I said. Fabulous!

But before we passed this house on our way back to the cottage, we did spend time on the Ithaca Commons for the Winter Festival...unfortunately, the temperatures have risen to nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so the wintery atmosphere felt more like March or April...

That being said, it was still wonderful to walk along and see all the artistry in the this hummingbird in ice...
We had seen images of this festival on the Ithaca website...and now we have seen it in person. Ithaca is aglow with lights and we feel welcomed and joyous...
Happy Holidays!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Our Christmas Tree...

We bought a 4 foot Christmas Tree today.. and 24 hours after President Obama lit up the Washington DC tree, we lit up ours. It stands in the corner of our rental living room, lit up by an assembly of lights and ornaments.
Yesterday I passed my New York State Driving Test! Even though I did the K turn in the European (albeit UK) manner...
Our house was rained on today and the crew had gone by the time we arrived, but this view of Hammond Hill in the gray is fabulous. Its from the bedroom window on the second floor.

Today confirmed what I thought I would learn about living with this doesn't matter if it is cloudy, or sunny, or stormy...this is a horizon that is interesting and matter what.
Here is a photograph taken from our Master Bedroom in the rain earlier today.

I love what I see, the darker cloud above the hills, the light just above the hills, the green grey of the hills themselves and the muted browns and deeper greens of the trees and fields in the foreground. If we watched for 20 minutes, this would all of changed, but only in remaining vigilant in observation, would we have seen it.

This is what I think we will have in our new home, a daily reminder of the need for mindfulness, the need to grow the ability to pay attention to the smallest beauty, the subtle dance of a cloud moving on the horizon, the early morning fog lifting from the pond, the unfolding of the maple after day...year after year...this place, this home, will draw us closer to that which is infinite.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

An unexpected bonus

Looking out from the study windows of the house we discovered an unexpected bonus... a pond, shimmering in the sunlight. It will be a delight to see the water most days.

The crew have been soldiering on in freezing temperatures and today, the roof is now ready for the shingles, which I believe will be installed on Monday.

It was so so cold that there was snow in our living room this morning!

This photograph was taken from the kitchen looking toward the western windows in the living room, with the windows and doors of the sunroom (in the west) to the left of the frame. The living room will have no doors, so that incredible view will be available to us from the kitchen/dining area as well....and the light (this was taken at 9:30 am) and, even in December, we are able to see how much natural light pours in.

As they will have finished boarding the roof today, this will be our last day of indoor, windows, doors and locks! 

I can imagine ourselves here in all seasons, all hours of the day, for many years to come. Every day seems a glorious affirmation of the initial dream and the many small steps that arrived us at this moment in our lives.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


We arrived at the house today to find that rain had fallen overnight... thankfully  the roof will be in place within a day or two.
But our hardworking crew enjoyed the doughnuts we had bought and carried on... stepping carefully amongst timbers and joists.

i can't wait to see this forest transformed!

We weren't sure much would have been done today, as the weather dropped 40 degrees Fahrenheit overnight...but when we got onto site at 9:00 (Dunkin Donuts in hand) our amazing crew had put temporary stairs up and were well on there way to getting the roofing boards in place. Which means, for the very first time we were able to see the view from the Master Bedroom blessed we will be each and every morning...

The altered design has 4 windows, all on the south-facing wall...and here is another view...
We will have a seating area on the left and our bed will have views from the 2 windows on the right...I am thinking that the little space in-between will have to be a bedroom Christmas tree next year this time...I have always thought it would be incredible to have a tree with lights in my bedroom, so...I shall!

Blessed, I feel incredibly blessed...what an extraordinary gift, this moment in our lives.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Studio Windows...

Here is a view of the studio windows which face North... the best light for an artist.

Our builder hopes to have the windows installed by Friday and the whole house lock tight... difficult to imagine right now but progress has been swift in glorious 62 degree weather and sunshine!
Chance of snow tomorrow... 50% but only showers!

What a glorious December day...unbelievable blue skies and warming sun...we can hardly believe our good fortune (given that one week ago the crew had to stop work for snow showers so dense they could barely see...)

As Nicholas chose the front of the front of the house for his image today and I have chosen the back of the house, we can see with such clarity, the way light will flow in the house and influence the different rooms, the different spaces. 

On top of the roof is the amazing Ralph Varn, designer/builder and framed in the Master Bedroom window, is his brother, Rick. They have been building houses together for over 30 years. Ralph told us yesterday that he and Rick used to haul the roof joists up by hand when they began. How blessed we are to have such skill and craftsmanship available to us in the process.

A slightly different note, but oddly related to laying foundations and creating spaces to flourish...I assisted in my first class at the Fingers Lakes School of Massage today, I have been invited to join an extraordinary faculty and staff here in Ithaca...and a very big part of me feels I have come home.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Roof joists!

Well, here is the giant crane loading one of about nine long roof joists...

And here, later in the day is a shot of the joists above the living room and side of the house.
Its wonderful to see it all taking shape, and we hope by Friday we'll have the windows, doors, roofing and shingles installed.


This is our designer/builder...who was personally crawling around on the frame of the house and placing each and every roof joist, just as he did with each piece of the framing, each decision with the excavation and the pouring of the foundation...he is fabulous!

I stood in what will be the living room and looked to the clear blue sky and the beauty of the bones of our house delighted me. What an extraordinary feat of engineering, each triangle lending its strength to hold the weight walls, what will be the roof, snowfall, furniture, etc...astonishing really. 

And then I turned and looked to the west...
and there before be was the panoramic view we first fell in love with, literally. The first time we saw this land, this view, was in the spring of 2011. It will be almost exactly 2 years, to the day, from when we move in (if things continue to stay on schedule) seems hard to believe, but walls and windows and phenomenal rooflines are confirming that this is no longer only a dream...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Winter Discoveries

Walking around our 62 acres here the other day I came across a number of beautiful images, including this surprising little sculpture that sits on a bench beside a flower bed. I'd never noticed it before but, in the sunshine, it caught my attention as if beckoning.

For now, Judy and I are a little mystified, but we'll do our best to find out...

These are leaves, frozen in the clear water of the pond below our cottage. How beautiful they are, suspended in time, illuminated by the late day sun.

Again, a message seemingly created just for often the events of life demand that we hold still, insisting that we wait for things to unfold, to melt, to move....

And then, this morning the temperatures rose, the ice melted, the still life was in motion once more...

Life is constantly in motion, nothing is stagnant, every moment is new.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Second Floor

This is the view of the bedroom windows... there is a small nook underneath the eastern wall which we hope to use a space for humming bird feeders and other bird feeders.
There will be a fourth window which is not yet cut out...
Monday, the roof joists will be lowered by a giant crane.

The crew are magnificent, and it seems to take much more than snow to stop them!
Our pond is still frozen over.

This will be the view from the garden, the living room on the left, sunroom on the right and our bedroom above. 

The house gave us our next life lesson seems we have to alter the positioning of the windows in our master bedroom...the roof trusses don't allow for the singleton on the, new plan, 4 windows on the back, 2 doubles, an echo of the living room wall (sans fireplace).

The great news, it's all OK, life is a lot like this. Things most always begin with a vision, a mental picture and then...every once in a while....well, actually, more often than not...that original picture changes, alters and we make the necessary adjustments.

I had a good friend in NYC who said, "God creates us yellow. We say we like blue. God says, I'll work with green..." Gotta love that...

Always choose to work with shades of green...

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Here is the second floor taking shape. Behind these walls will be my studio... 400 square feet.
Today I walked along the paths beside the other ponds.... snow had melted, but the ground was crisp underfoot.
It looks enormous, but its not really...

What a difference a day makes!
Yesterday the work was stopped with blustery snow showers, skies smilin' at me...nothing but blue skies do I see...

Here is the view from what will be the back the left, the living room walls (the protruding bit will house the chimney for the gas fire) then the door from the sunroom to the garden and then the 4 southern windows and 2 eastern windows of the sunroom itself. Above this, the solid green wall will be the wall of the master bedroom and it will have windows and a spectacular view to the hills and over what will be the garden. 

And, behind our bedroom, a library/office and then in the front of the house, with northern light...Nicholas' delights me to type those words. He will have a large, north-facing space to begin to create once more. It will be a place for him to explore colour and texture, light and shadow, line and horizon...

Things are pending, things are shifting...they are not without their challenges, and so very much of this season requires extraordinary patience...but the birthing has begun...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Full Moon and Jupiter

Tonight, the full moon is glorious, poised in the sky so close to Jupiter...
And snow has fallen today... covering the pond like icing.

Our house takes shape, metamorphosing each day into dreams made true.

Work stopped with the heavy snow showers of early afternoon...but we still had an opportunity to see some new developments...

It is all about being able to see things as they will be, to hold the potential, the dream, the is a hugely creative process...

Like, here is a photograph of what will be the future gallery for Nicholas' art and in the distance, behind the pole, will be the cinema room to view his films...
 And here is a photograph taken from the living room looking toward the kitchen/dining room...
When I saw it today, I thought of all the laughter and joy over good food and wine, friendships, stories, that will unfold within these walls, in this new home, in this new life. 

I am amazed on a daily basis...

Roof Joists...

Here are the roof joists... hopefully on Friday they will lowered into place by a giant crane.

Its hard to imagine how they will look, but we will do our best to be there when it happens.
Meanwhile, ice on the pond has formed and reformed every morning:

A fabulous metaphor for uncertain times.

Late autumn is most assuredly here, frosty mornings leave their imprint on the evergreen trees on the opposite side of the pond, Christmas lights are already on rooftops and evergreens, Thanksgiving has passed...

And here in Ithaca, at the Farmer's Market, I am reminded of two other autumnal gifts...

The smell of cinnamon baking...
and the beauty of dried flowers in bouquets and wreaths...
The deep golds and yellows of strawflowers, stand in bright relief against the periwinkle statice and green-blue echinops. In the floral dance of shapes and colours, I see the brilliance of the late November sky, the hope of spring, the sustenance that comes when beauty is sought and found. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

A beaver's got to do what a beaver's got to do...

We spotted this walking by Dryden Lake today. Just beside it a tree had gone down, gnawed by a beaver in a hopeful expectation of setting up a dam somewhere right nearby.
Posted signs are obviously meaningless in beaver world!

But, more importantly, our house is gathering form... the second floor joists have been placed above the  garage and this Friday, we're hoping the roof timbers will be lowered.

And our crew were beavering away as well...
Here they are in the near freezing temperatures creating the support for Nicholas' studio...

And later this afternoon...
All ready for the under flooring of the 2nd floor...
We continue to be amazed and delighted and grateful beyond measure...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Next steps...

We arrived back from Philadelphia in the gathering twilight with only just enough light to make out the timbers and shapes of our house interior. Snow had fallen at Greek Peak, but there was only a light dusting of snow and ice on the timbers.

This is the view down the hall looking out towards Hammond Hill.
The roof timbers are formed up and packed, waiting to be installed by a giant crane on 3rd December.
That will be a sight!

Our Thanksgiving weekend was made complete with a visit to my closest friend from Les Mis days and her family, near Philadelphia, PA. The last time I was in Philly was when we played there for a month shortly before I left the "See America Tour" in 1991...yikes.

Anyway, one of their gifts to us this Christmas was a guided walking tour of historical Philly, which following the film "Lincoln" which we saw with Mom and Dad earlier in the week, made for a very history-rich week for my immigrant husband and me! 

The city was bustling and i was reminded of the incredible vision and optimism of the founding fathers as we walked the streets where it all began. Of course, some things were new, but parts of it reminded us so much of England...well, it would, of course...

And there were beautiful reminders of the debt we owe to those who gave everything for those of us privileged to call this country home...

And after our drive we drove to the building site, catching just the last of the light to the south. This particular view is taken from the middle of the kitchen/dining room. There is a step down into the sunroom, yep...those frames will be windows. And the frame on the far right will eventually be the door to the patio and garden.

There was definitely a little ice on the floor and a dusting of snow on the hills...we have the most amazing crew and we have so very much to be thankful for in this season. 

Our dream is unfolding before our very eyes.