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.

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Today, we've returned home to the cottage from Rochester. Driving back in glorious evening light, the colours on lake Cayuga were spectacular. Overhead, huge skeins of geese flew onwards, some westerly, some southerly.
At Aurora, the light was particularly intense, lending a cut-out sense to the lakeside trees.
But it was too late to stop by the house. 
These photos were taken on Monday showing the first floor West wall taking shape.


Another view of the western wall on Monday...

The internal frames will be where windows are eventually, but with winter approaching, our designer/builder says they leave the sides solid until the actual windows arrive on site (as a cold-weather/cold-wind deterrent for the workmen).

Nicholas' photograph also shows the bump out on the southern wall which will eventually be the chimney for the gas fire. 

We have a few more days of unseasonably fair weather in the forecast and then....cold nights, rain and quite possibly hope that we will see much more done when we arrive at Applewood Lane tomorrow morning. 

What thanks we both feel in this season of our lives.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

First Floor taking shape...

A few days ago we visited the site to find that the first floor is in.... a platform upon which we stood and looked out towards Hammond Hill as the dusk drew in. A new moon glimmered as a symbol for new beginnings.

Now we are visiting Rochester for our first Thanksgiving in the USA, so will be missing a few of this week's developments, but the first floor walls are taking shape.
We left the cottage with the pond frozen over and the trees stripped of leaves.

As we enter the 3rd of our seasons here, the late November light illuminates the minimalist landscape, which just weeks ago was aflame with colour and lush foliage. And I am reminded that winter is perhaps more a time for reflection and rest. This picture was taken at Dryden Lake this past weekend when our beloved friend, Suzie, was visiting from England...we took her to many of our newly discovered favourite places during the past few days.
And, of course...Applewood Lane tops the list...

 Here we are on the ground floor, Suzie is on the front porch and the front door will be where presently the table saw and boards are, to the left in the foreground. Further to the back of the photograph, I am standing with where our living room will be and, like in the picture Nicholas posted, the vista and the play of light and shadow on the southern horizon, daily remind us of how blessed we are in being able to build on this incredible site.

Along with Suzie, we had another special visitor exploring the new developments with us...
Dustin finds its a long way down from the sides of the footers for our garage to the ground...
We have so much to be thankful for this week, new friends and old, family both here and abroad, good health, creativity and possibility, that endlessly generous gift of life to those who choose to be open to receiving it.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Winter is coming...

Glorious sunshine today, but sense of imminent winter grows every day. Grey squirrel is stocking up on nuts, but we haven't seen the chipmunks for a week or two, so they must be hibernating.

Can't wait to see the roof timbers going up!

So, although this probably doesn't look very certainly was for us...

The pipes for all the drainage for the house are now in place, the inspector has been and approved it all and that means...

the backfilling has begun and the workmen are creating the subfloor for the garage and the sunroom. It is a wonderful thing to watch it all unfold before our eyes each day.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

First Floor taking shape

In freezing weather, the crew have completed the joists of the first floor. Its amazing to see this take shape so quickly.

Here you can see the future sunroom taking shape: the whole will be back filled and topped with a concrete slab; underneath the joists is the basement which will be usable as a gallery space in the future.
Later this week we hope to see some first floor walls...

Here is the western wall of the you can imagine, as these face west, the light will be readily available to us, even in the lower level of the house.

Today the crew will be nailing thick sheets of wood to the floor joists, creating the floor under what will be our entryway, my healing room, our guest room, living room, and the kitchen/dining area. When the floor is in place, they will frame up the sides of the house, add the staircases to the upper level and continue framing our master bedroom, office and Nicholas' studio.

We are amazed.

Everyone said the build would be quite dramatic, changing everyday, especially in the first few weeks...once the walls and roof are on, not much changes visually, as they are doing all the wiring and plumbing and interior work...but for now, each day we are blessed with a new picture of what is yet-to-be.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

To Lenox and Back...

We've been in Lenox, Massacheusetts over the last few days and have brought our friend Suzie to our cottage to stay for a week. Whilst there we visited the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge where we also visited his last working studio, a red barn on the hill above the Housatonic river. It was a fabulous spot.

We drove back here via Dryden and can report that the wooden framing has begun. Five large basement windows are taking shape!

It is so exciting to have a friend from England here in America with us!!! 
We had a wonderful stay in Lenox, near The Kripalu Yoga Centre, and then drove to Dryden today. 

We weren't sure if any work had been done, has!

It seems the steel supports are being placed and wood for the framing and the under flooring is stacked alongside what will be our, it is rapidly taking shape! 

We are looking from the east to the west in this photograph. Those five large spaces, framed by wood, on the far wall will be 5 separate 5' x 4' windows in our basement, which we hope will eventually become a private gallery for Nicholas' paintings. 

The hope that the walls and roof will be up in time for Thanksgiving feels like an absolute feels very very real suddenly.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Foundation walls and cement

Well, our foundation walls are in and the cement is drying! We will be on to the next stage, framing, next week and hopefully by Thanksgiving, may have a roof on!
Snow showers over the last few days have lent a wintry air to our pond.

Election day has come.... lets hope there is a good and democratic outcome.

But with wintry days come spectacular dawns...this morning it was like being in a living cathedral, the pink hues of November's light threading through the tall, stately trunks of the evergreens opposite the cottage...
And, this is the dawning of a new season in our lives with the move from foundations to walls and a roof! It seems unbelievable that so much has happened so quickly...

Yesterday I went to the site and there were our workers, in snow showers, pouring the cement into the forms that line the perimeter of our basement walls. A HUGE machine, located at the front of the house, was carefully lined up with the forms and the cement was poured in a methodical manner.

Today these forms come off and the framing begins...building on the solid foundations begun before...let us hope this is true for our election as well...I am off to cast my vote...what a privilege...thank you to the women who paved the way and fought for my right to do so, thank you to all Civil Rights activists who laid down their lives for equality! 


Friday, 2 November 2012

First snows

Today, the first snow showers of winter have arrived. Luckily our basement walls are ready to be poured next week and much has been accomplished.

Our builder has been creatively coming up with new ideas about the fireplace and about other key design elements.... all this in just 6 days!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those in New York and New Jersey who are still suffering from the Hurricane. Thankfully power is coming back gradually to some.

Even with all the mud and cold and grey...this site...was a beautiful sight...
Sorry, just a little giddy and enthusiastic, even average puns are OK for me today.

It seems that if we get a little sunshine, they will try to pour concrete in these forms and remove the metal sides the next day. When this is done, our builder and his crew will come in and create the support structure for the rough flooring, and from there, the timber frame and outside walls will go up. 

At our meeting this morning, he said it is his desire to have both stories created, and the house and roof clad before Thanksgiving. He said they would work on Saturdays and even Sundays, if the weather was better on the weekends than during the commitment to getting it done before the real snows begin.

Without the leaves, the hills in the distance take on a deep steely blue, the sky broad and vast stretches out before us, reminding us of our great love of this land on the hill above Dryden. It all feels very real. And that feels very good.