Sunday, 24 February 2013

Winter continues...

Snow still lies on the fields... despite warmer temperatures. The birds here at the rental cottage gather in cooperative flocks to feed on millet and sunflower seeds, despite the attentions of the three squirrels that scamper across the frozen pond to raid the deck several times a day.
At times we have counted five cardinal pairs, four or five juncos, three woodpeckers, assorted nuthatches and about five chickadees. From time to time two mourning doves sit patiently, for minutes at  time.

Work at the house gathers speed with siding being carefully positioned in place. Inside, the walls and floors are being cleaned before the cabinetry and flooring arrives. Two giant Hepa filters have cleaned the air of dust...

The green walls are slowly being transformed into the pale, dove grey we chose, the way the colour echoes the distant hills behind is exactly as we had hoped. Here, on this freezing cold day in February, our crew work with great care to bring our home into form.

Tomorrow, one of my most beloved friends is coming for a visit. Her son is having a look at the music program at Ithaca will an amazing thing to walk through the door of this home with her. I know it is real, for I have walked through that same door myself, with frequency. But, when this place, this dream long held, is beheld by one I hold so dear...when that happens, later tomorrow afternoon...I know that I will begin to allow the fullness of the unfolding into my consciousness. 

What joy I feel, kind of like a child on the night before is not often we have these penultimate grateful I am to be able to share this one with a friend who will cherish it with me.


Monday, 18 February 2013

A view from across the field...

Just as winter storm Plato makes its may up the northeast coast, we gathered a mere inch of snow overnight, much of which had melted by mid afternoon; but Judy and I had a lovely walk in the field behind our new house at Mapleridge, with the ground still hard and frozen.

We looked back across the unploughed field to catch a great view of our house in its setting, and could see the siding specialists finishing for the day.

We watched a Cooper's hawk drift slowly over towards Virgil as the sun set slowly in the west. 

This picture doesn't show the creek that runs down, right to left just behind our house, and it also doesn't show the woodchuck hole that I fell into, shortly after taking this photograph!
Almost  as if I'd gone down with Alice....


And...then...he popped back up with the March Hare and the Mad Hatter, what an afternoon it was! 

It is a holiday here, President's Day, but still our workmen were on site...they amaze us. Today the same team that got our shingles on before the big Christmas Eve storm were on hand to get the siding in place...

They couldn't get going until the temperatures rose above freezing, but then they worked until the sunset this afternoon. 

This is the view from what will be part of the garden where we hope to have a fire pit. The siding will look this shade of grey in full sunshine, and here is what happens in the shade...

Tomorrow is a big day, the excavator returns to dig the trenches for the plumbing to be connected and the gas lines to be hooked up. The siding will continue to be put up and we just had news that our tiles have, bathrooms and flooring coming soon!


Saturday, 16 February 2013


At last we've been hooked up to NYSEG for electricity and the meter reads 0! It has been a long time coming, mainly because so many of the engineers were seconded down to Long Island and Staten Island to help clean up the mess left by Hurricane Sandy. So there won't be the clacking sound of a generator any more. We're hoping the gas will be linked in a few days too.
Meanwhile the siding is being positioned; a slate blue grey that looks fabulous.

Downstairs, the basement walls have been framed out, with dry-walls expected in a week or two...

The gallery is beginning to have form!

This photo is taken from the foot of the stairs looking west. Where the broom is leaning is the first of 2 internal, partial, 10 foot walls which will provide the ability to create 3 separate viewing areas within the gallery....the amateur curator in me is getting very excited about creating our first event here...

To the right, and out of this frame, is what will be the small cinema room for viewing the Nicholas' films. A few years ago he began creating these films in celebration of the places on this earth that have inspired his paintings and has had great success showing them alongside the art in galleries. That tradition will continue here in the new space. 


Monday, 11 February 2013

After the Blizzard

New England is clearing up after record breaking snows over the weekend, but here in 
Upstate New York, the roads are clear. Judy and I walked along the Jim Shug trail yesterday in glorious sunshine. The trail runs beside Dryden Lake and goes on for miles. We spotted a father and his son ice-fishing on the frozen waters and a flock of Canadian Geese had found a small patch of meltwater a long way out. A number of cross country skiers came by using the tracks that had been left by a snowmobile.


While walking on the trail yesterday, the sun shone spectacularly on the snowy ice crystals, giving illumination to each in such a manner as to create almost a sea of tiny diamonds unfolding before us.

We happened upon this leaf, perfectly nestled in the ice, the featherweight of it falling on the powdery, glistening surface had created a small indentation and it, literally, stopped us in our tracks.

As I paused, I was reminded that, often, the smallest things do make profound impressions; an unexpected kindness, a gentle touch, a smile, a dog's grin, the sun breaking through a cloud, the moment tears at a funeral become laughter, as loss and sorrow become shared recollection and memory of the loved one....all of these thoughts were prompted by this golden-veined leaf, the gift of an autumn long gone, dancing with the winter that will soon give way to spring.

And so, on it goes, the cycle of moments... 


Friday, 8 February 2013

Winter Storm Nemo

Winter Storm Nemo is barrelling towards the Northeast of the US today, with a confluence of cold air from Canada and a Nor'Easter, whose moist air originated off the coast of Florida. Boston is predicting up to two feet of snow and blizzard winds... here around the Finger Lakes, we expect eight inches. Continental scale weather is upon us.

Meanwhile, progress on the house is steady. We hope to be hooked up to gas and electric supplies this week, after a tunnel is dug between the house and the supply. With most of the internal paintwork completed, attention has turned to the basement, which we intend to turn into a gallery in due course. The concrete walls will be insulated and sheet rocked and the ceiling rafters spray painted...


I still love this view of the side of our cottage when I drive home from work at night, the lighthouse always welcoming, the wall light illuminating the snow-covered, pyramidal evergreen bush, the little white mailbox, the red flag raised if mail has arrived for us...the crescent moon above seems the perfect accompaniment to this winter's eve.

But, of course, this is not the home I am most excited about...and so very much is about to happen 5 minutes drive up the road...

As we wrote earlier, we have made the decision to build the art gallery in the basement...well, this is the view from the 40 foot expanse of windows centred in the western-facing wall. We had not been downstairs to date, as there were no stairs....the stairs are still not installed, so we climbed down the ladder with Ralph, our fabulous designer/builder, to finalize the dimensions of the work he and his crew are about to undertake.

Basically the photo above, is the view from the 4-foot hallway which will be created along the western wall, looking north to south. And this is presently the view from the bottom of the stairs.

 The internal posts supporting the steel i-beams will be clad in drywall creating exhibition space, but the walls will not run the entire width of the room, allowing the amazing views to be part of the beauty of the home gallery.

Here is the view from the southern wall looking back the length of the room. The dark space at the end of the room will be a completely contained small cinema room to show Nicholas' films, it will have a full finished wall and eventually a platform for 2-level seating...and, if I have my old-fashioned popcorn machine!!!

The 2 other posts will have 10 foot wide walls, centred in the 18-foot wide room. Display on both of these internal walls will create nearly 40 feet of exhibition area in the centre of the room, with 4 foot "halls" on either side...the end walls will provide a further 30 feet and the wall separating the gallery from the furnace/storage room will add, yet another, 30 feet. Nearly 100 linear feet to hang artwork in a home gallery is really a dream come true for us. 

I can't imagine what joy it will be to be able to rotate the artwork, have a mini-retrospective of his work from 1979 to the present, to take time to pause and reflect on the expression of spirit and creativity in this form...blessings abound.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Groundhog Day....

Punxsutawney Phil (The star of Ground Hog day) did not see his shadow this morning on Gobbler's Knob and so the little groundhog has predicted an early Spring.

Outside the lower deck window I spotted five little black mice hoovering up the birdseed that had fallen from the upper deck and then dashing off into the raised flower bed beside the pond. I suspect that is their den... at least I hope so, because we are relying on our ultrasound machine to keep them out of the cottage!
Over at the house, the paint has almost dried and it looks fantastic. Birchwood White giving a warm feel to every room.

Looking out of our cottage windows this morning, the near 60F degree weather seems a distant memory, as there is a new 3 inch covering of snow and a temperature of 25F...welcome to the whacky world of lake effect snow, frigid Canadian air and warm air from the southern USA...big continent weather! I don't mind it at all, the roads are totally clear, and with the bright sunshine, winter seems a rather cheery season.
Both inside and is a photograph taken of the living room, from just inside the dining room, yesterday...

And this is a photograph of the framed opening leading from the kitchen/dining room into the hallway...

And this photograph was taken without flash, from where the kitchen island will be, the colour is much truer and we are particularly excited about the negative/positive aspects on either side of the opening....recessed area on the left, balancing the more built out area on the right. I was quite saddened when we first began to cover the trusses in the ceiling, but am finding new joy in seeing angles and play of light in the finished surfaces.

Our other big house news was the decision to build the gallery downstairs, with permanent staircases to the basement and the upstairs being installed on Monday, we will begin in earnest to design that space with Ralph and bring it, too, into form.

Things are moving at a pace now, and much of what will happen next is the finishing detail, the colour, kitchen cabinets, doors, etc...I am amazed and utterly grateful.