Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Temperature Swings....

Well, today and tomorrow the temperature here will climb about 20 degrees before plunging again. Our  squirrel, meanwhile, weathers the conditions, whatever happens!

We've resorted to two ultrasound machines in the cottage as we strongly suspected a mouse was stashing seeds downstairs... these machines put out a powerful sound that, we suspect, would drive a mouse outside.

We hope.

This was taken from our land earlier this week, from what will be our garden, looking further south to the field. It was incredibly cold, but because of this the snow crystals, that fell overnight, were of a consistency that allowed them to cling to the silhouettes of the bare branches of the deciduous trees, creating an sense of enchantment and wonder. What beauty we greet us in each and every season.

And as the outside was getting coated in white...so was the inside of the house! Here our "rocker's" daughter is rolling out the undercoating of white paint in the kitchen/dining room. She is completely covered in overalls because they initially apply the paint with a sprayer for quick and total coverage. The under-painting will be topped with coats of the colour we have chosen for the walls and it should all be finished by the middle of this week. Then, the finishing work begins....lights, carpets, tiling, wood floors, kitchen cabinets, etc...

February is going to be a very exciting month...


Monday, 28 January 2013

Snow Shadows...

Yesterday we walked out onto the frozen waters of Cayuga lake. For a while at least, the lake is frozen solid for a quarter of a mile and, at the edge where the ice meets the water, huge flocks of geese and ducks mill around.

Glorious sunshine yesterday. I photographed some shadows and animal tracks not far from the cottage, with the sun glinting off the snow like diamonds.

After I finished working, this was just one of many scenes of winter fun awaiting us on frozen Cayuga Lake. It was so much fun to walk out onto the frozen waters, I was never much good at ice skating, but I remember school friends shovelling areas of frozen lake and creating rinks for just this purpose. 

About 20 minutes after we arrived, we heard the amazing sound of hundreds of geese, here is what we saw when we looked skyward...

We didn't have the best of light by this time, but this photograph brings to mind the sound they made, funny how one sense invites us into all the others, it was a cacophony of honking, like a street full of miniature taxis honking a cheery hello to one another.

When they had flown over us, we looked back to the shoreline, from about 200 yards out on the lake, and saw this gracious willow, illuminated by the last of the winter sunshine.

Shortly after we arrived here early last summer, this was the willow that gave us shelter from the blazing sunshine and 100 degree temperatures, it was the willow that caught every small breeze and gave us shade while we heard the bagpipers play during the Scottish Festival. 

And now, in the frigid 20 degree weather, standing on the other side of its majestic form, out on the frozen waters beyond its thick rugged trunk, it is clear that time has passed quickly....that so much has taken place, new jobs, new friends, new home begun and nearing completion...

This beautiful tree gave me perspective on all of that and reminded me, once more, that change is often measured, and tolerated, by holding fast to those things in my life which are steadfast, the people I cherish, the places in the natural world I hold tenderly. These are the blessings that create sanctuary for my spirit on this earthly journey. I am grateful.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013


The sunroom now has a dried concrete floor and our dilemma is whether we should tile it or just use a large area rug.

Light pours in through the south facing windows, so it will be a lovely space.
Our fabulous specialist is finishing off the dry wall preparations, ready for painting.

This is a photo of the back of the house, taken yesterday morning. It was an incredibly cold, clear morning...but it was wonderful to be able to walk on snow, rather than mud, and get a different perspective. Again, we were reminded of the joy of the southern exposure, even on cloudy, grey days it feels bright inside...

When we went inside we were met with an extraordinary amount of new work, the application and sanding of the "mud" had continued and it very much seems as though the painting is on schedule for completion within the next week. Here is a photograph of the living room, looking back to the kitchen/dining room area. The 12 foot walls on the southern wall and the sloping ceilings of the eastern and western walls will be lit to provide space to show paintings.

The propane tank made the room incredibly warm, even in the 17 degree temperatures of yesterday! So...that insulation is really doing its job. It is such a special sort of gift to know what has gone beneath these surfaces, to have been there since the day the excavation began, to watch it all being created with such care and skill.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Taking Shape...

Judy and I walked around Beebe Lake in Ithaca yesterday and were gifted with spectacular ice formations, waterfalls and frozen trees.

The lake used to be a swamp but was reclaimed and improved in the late 19th century. 

At the house, the dry walls are complete and ready for paint.
Here at the cottage the birds gather around in the snow. I love the colors of the female cardinals... here is one with some snowflakes on her beak.


There is a uniqueness to the beauty of winter, the frozen stillness, the gentle white blanketing the earth, inviting a deeper silence, a slowing down, a different reflection.

It seems no one has told our extraordinary team of builders and craftsmen...here they are, in heavy snow showers, getting ready to pour the concrete for what will be our basement gallery...

Shortly after this picture was taken, the sky cleared and sunshine filled the house. It is so full of light! Even rooms on the north and eastern sides of the house find the available light, a tribute to our designer, Ralph, we are sure.

Here is the view from the front door looking down the hall to the living room (on the right) and the sunroom (on the left)

And here is the view looking in the opposite direction, down the hallway towards the front door...

It was such a delight to watch the walls going up, the basement, sunroom and garage floors being poured; such a privilege to truly see the pieces beginning to come together in such wondrous fashion.

But...even as excited as we are, as impatient as I am to move in, to begin this new chapter...a sky came as pure gift. A sky awash in depths of colour that takes my breath away....it came to say...be here, be present, never wish a moment of life to move faster than it does...

Be still..be at peace...be in awe...


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Nearly ready for Paint...

The drywalls have been completed, almost ready to paint and we're hoping the basement concrete will be poured this week.
This is the master bedroom, with a view to Hammond Hill.

Snow is falling as I write, with about 2 inches accumulated on the deck, and the pond is deeply frozen. Yesterday I spotted a perfect horsetail cloud, high above the trees across the way.


With the sheetrock now in place around the sunroom windows the sense of completion and continuity is unfolding at a more rapid pace than ever. This picture was taken standing in the eastern corner of the room, looking to the south. There are two further windows to the right as well as the glass door...so almost unbroken views to the distant hills of Hammond Hill State Forest and the wild fields which lie before them are available to us from this room and our kitchen. 

And, here is the living room, the scaffolding providing access to the ceiling at its 12 foot height. The boards are placed, taped, and then the the border between each is covered with a pre-mixed joint compound (aka "mud") and once it has completed dried, it is sanded, leaving a totally smooth surface, ready for painting. The heater in the foreground is only one of a number that were firing off portable generators and propane tanks yesterday; these are to ensure that  the moisture is out of the house. The insulation was being blown into the roof cavity as well yesterday and the house, without any other type of heat supply was so warm we removed our coats, even though it was only 30 degrees outside!

Here in the states they call the men and women who do this work "rockers" and I have to say, I am about to call ours a "rockstar"...he is moving at an incredible speed, with great skill and exceptional pride in his work. And, when he is not on the scaffold, these are how he makes his way around the rooms...

We are delighted and amazed and utterly grateful and each day, for the talents and integrity of those building this home and for their commitment to helping our vision become reality...

Saturday, 12 January 2013


As the snow melts in unseasonably warm weather, the dry wall installation progresses. Here is my studio with a propane burner...which had to be turned of it was so warm. 

Yesterday, the basement received a steel mesh before the concrete is poured on Monday.
We've chosen the wall and ceiling color to be a neutral but distinguished buff-white.
Outside the cottage, the pond ice is melting into a sheeny, green-white mist, but later next week the temperatures are set to fall. 

Wow...I haven't been able to go to the house for a week...and the difference is staggering. I am so excited!

As Nicholas said, the basement has been prepped for the concrete floor to be poured on Monday, they placed this grid across the entire surface, after which it will be polished.

This is the view from where the top step will be (the staircase will be delivered once the cement has cured). And this is where we will create a gallery space for  Nicholas' artworks, that may also double as a place for me to lead workshops/have readings, etc...

As the walls began to go up, I worried that the space would feel closed in, constricted, that in losing the view of the rafters and beams, I would lose the sense of flow in the house. But this has not happened at all. What I am finding is all the nuance, the little corners, the places where the light and shadow are already dancing. 

This photograph, taken at 9am this morning from the entry hall, shows me just how much light we will have, even on the northern side of the house. The 1st entryway on the left is the staircase to the studio, library/office, and Master Bedroom and bath. The 2nd door will lead to the powder room. The large square directly in front of the camera's view is the framing for what will be double, glass, French doors, which will pocket into the walls. 

And then, directly through those is the living room, with the kitchen/dining room on the left, and the sunroom one step below that.

The flow is easy and gracious, we are seeing things we created in our mind's eye become form, and we are daily reminded of the great blessings we know on this earth and make a conscious decision to be generous and loving and share this abundance as fully, and as often as we are able.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dry Wall

The house is being 'rocked' or dry walled, as they say. Today, in glorious sunshine I visited the house to see that the studio and upstairs are mostly done...
But this morning, a glorious dawn greeted the day: pink light behind the woods across the pond.

Temperatures are set to rise over the weekend... but I find I am longing for more snow! I love the blanket of white that adorns the landscapes around here; perhaps we'll have more. Who knows.


I was at work all day, so...again...I could not get to the house. But, I did see this sunrise across the pond from our cottage window before I went, what a privilege, this kind of beauty...

Along with the sunrise came this wonderful picture of Mrs. Cardinal...

We have grown to love the soft faun of her breast feathers, the deeper russet of her wings and the bright splash of her orange-red beak...her colours have inspired us as we have begun to choose the palette for the furnishings in our home...

And speaking of that...they are working like crazy...Nicholas took a trip up and took this picture of the view from our library/office, down the little hallway. The light is pouring into our master bedroom...

The thought of this wall on the right having custom bookshelves, filled with our books, that have been in storage for nearly a year, and at the end...a desk, where my next book might just begin to be written...well...all of that is exciting beyond measure.

It is, indeed, a dream taking form in amazing fashion.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

January Thaw?

I visited Taughannock and Buttermilk falls today to see the icicles and falling waters. They are spectacular at this time of year and I'm secretly hoping for more snow, despite a forecast of warming over the next week or so. The icicles remind me of organ pipes in a cathedral.
Here is a glimpse of Taughannock Falls which, at over 200 feet, are the tallest falls in North East America:


This season is, on so many levels, a season of unfolding and movement for me. After many months of planning and seed planting, hoping and dreaming, so much is coming to fruition.

A perfect symbol of this for me was the gift of an amaryllis bulb from my Mom...she gave it to me when they came to visit the cottage earlier in autumn, I planted it in the soil provided in the package and waited...and waited...and waited...

Well, take a look...

It has opened to the light, it has become what it was meant to be...and I did what I needed to do to help that happen, I took it out of the box...I placed it near the light...I watered it...and now, I am cherishing it.

May I do the same with my Self and all those I love.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Cayuga Lake in Winter

I went for an evening walk in Stewart Park today, just as the sun was going down. The lake had frozen for the first hundred feet or so and flocks of Canada Geese and ducks were chortling away at the edge between the ice and the open water.
The evening light was gentle and spectacular... lifting my spirits as the day drew to a close.

I arrived at the house at 4pm to find the crew had gone for the day; but they had been hard at work, with sheet rocks stacked and ready to place.
And melting icicles falling from the roof.

Here is a photograph of our bedroom with all the insulation now trimmed and the sheet rock boards ready for hanging and the ceiling in...

And, here is Nicholas' painting studio, the ceiling is in and the first walls are going up. Amazing! 

And below is one of the photos Nicholas took tonight at Stewart Park, the sun's rays washed the tree trunks and the distant hills in a rosy pink. The sun is beginning to melt the snows of December, and we are both delighted that it was light until well past 5:30 tonight...reminding us, once more of how much further south we now live. In London today, the sun rose at 8 am and set at 4:11, here we had the beginning of day at 7:30, with the sun setting at 5:45...nearly two hours more light makes a big big difference in early January!

The silhouettes of the willows on Cayuga's shores take me back to our first days here, when these shores were lined with Scottish-American immigrants and the air was filled with bagpipe playing and the temperatures were near 100 degrees...and now, in mid-winter...we await the season of spring with hope and anticipation and hearts full of wonder.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Keeping Warm

The house evolves, gradually into something resembling a home. But to keep warm, the building crew need to keep a number of propane burners going most of the day.

On the floor are the ducting frames for heating and a/c.
There are so many choices at this stage... wall/ceiling colours; handles; positioning of electrical supplies; flooring and so on. But hopefully we are ahead and can make progress.

Even though there is nearly three feet of snow on the ground, our home continues to take shape...the men building and working on a near-daily basis, including New Year's Day!!!...are amazing us by the hour.

While the things taking place presently are less obviously dramatic to the casual eye, we are astonished! The electrician and plumber are getting their work ready for inspection so the internal drywalling can commence at the weekend. 

These walls can only go up when the insulation is sprayed into the roof and the walls....here is the clean-up before that event....this is the wall of our Master Bedroom...

And here is what things looked like yesterday at dusk, looking from Nicholas' studio through to our bedroom!

This is a single-cell, poly-foam, insulation that is blown into the walls, adding structural integrity as well as breathable insulation for heat and cold...amazing. After it hardens, the crew goes around each surface trimming it, that is the debris on the floor in this photo. Probably about three days of this and then, if the electrics are completed, the walls and ceilings will come. 

What a privilege this is, this gift of bearing witness to the unfolding of our home. We are immensely grateful for the skills and gifts of all those working to make it a reality.