Sunday, 31 March 2013

Spring arriving

At last, the sense of arriving spring is in the air with snow melt almost everywhere. 
The siding team are finishing up the exterior and it looks fabulous.

The strange little bubble on the top right is a sky light tube that funnels light down to the master bathroom. Its not connected  yet but should light up the interior when it is.
The fireplace is to be installed next week so there will be a small chimney on the out rigging from the living room and we'll have some sun shades erected over the sunroom windows. Yesterday the house was so warm in the sunshine we couldn't believe it.

As we walked to the car, these gorgeous springtime beauties opened to the morning if to remind us, once more, that we do not always see the whole picture...what was covered in snow only a few days ago is now the essence of spring...beautiful.

In seeing them, I was reminded that this is now, truly, our 4th season in America. Arriving in late June, a very hot late June, meant that we were really into an early summer...

At the house, things were moving at pace again yesterday, even though it was Saturday, the guys worked diligently to get the siding done so that they could begin tiling the floors on Monday...

The guest shower is finished, save for the grouting, and a bit of the tile above the tub, the floor tiles are also done...very exciting...

Upstairs the library/office shelving is finished...

And in the living room, the cut-out for the fireplace is finished, awaiting delivery and installation, which should be early this coming week...

Every day, despite the momentary setbacks and difficulties, we are filled with gratitude for the emergent beauty of this home, this vision made manifest, and, perhaps above all, the skill and absolute pride in workmanship of our designer/builder and his very talented subcontractors...the care being taken is palpable...


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lift off!

Progress picks up at the house... here are the two fans in the sunroom. Our builder jokes that it looks like a spaceship.

Yesterday we had a crew of eight working on the house...tiling, carpentry, dry-walling, creating the porch ceiling and more. Donuts and coffee being consumed at great rates.

Here is one of the internal gallery walls, drywall now covering the framing...once all the walls get done, they will taped and have "mud" applied, just like upstairs, and then they, and the ceilings will be painted. We will not be framing in the ceiling, but rather painting the joists as is...this will give a nice finished industrial look to the gallery....track and track heads have been ordered to wash the art with light....

And two floors above, the built-in bookshelves in the library/office have also begun to be put into place. Opposite these will be half-wall shelves, and  very simple desk, where I will begin work as a writer again, will also be created at the wall on the end...characters are beginning to whisper in my stories want to be brought to life...


Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Studio and Gallery take shape

Its great to see the studio cabinets installed, leaving only the floor to come. And, of course, 250 boxes from the UK to arrive in late April.
Making decisions in a store is always slightly risky, and its gratifying to see the actual materials installed and looking great. 
The basement insulation is now in place, ready for dry walling.


Yesterday a LOT happened at the house. Here the guys are putting together the island before positioning it. It was incredible to see it coming into place. The sun was not even out, it was a grey snowy day, but look at the light pouring in from the windows in the sunroom. It really is becoming the home we dreamt of these past two years.

And with the snow and wind outside, the guys doing our siding came in and began to insulate the basement...

Here is the most southern wall of the gallery, the wrapping of the insulation, is being completed in preparation for the dry wall and paint. I can't imagine how toasty and warm it will be when this is completed, as yesterday the thermostat was set at 62 and it was really comfortable...the high-density insulation upstairs is proving its worth already. Our builder said, even loading all the cabinetry and wood and insulation in and out all morning, the furnace hadn't fired...good news if winter goes into March each year!

This week, the finishing of the siding when weather comes, and then...the flooring and built-in bookshelves and my writing desk....woohoo...


Friday, 22 March 2013

Red Winged Blackbird

This morning, we woke up to find that over four inches of snow had fallen overnight.
And then this beautiful red winged blackbird came by to feed at the suet block. It began to spread its wings and cry out... perhaps signalling for a mate?

At the house, many boxes and much packaging has arrived. Kitchen and vanity cabinets, boxes of tiles, mahogany strips for the tongue and groove porch roof...
Judy and I have managed to track down most of the light fittings which are waiting to be installed.

I hear people complaining, frustrated with the snow that melts and returns, melts and returns, melts and returns...but, I know, and this blackbird knows...that it will, indeed melt again and spring will actually arrive. And with it, the bulbs will emerge, the blossoms, the fruits, and then they will all return to seed, again...and again...and again...

This little cottage, this small piece of a Walden Pond season in our lives has provided us with moment upon moment of this kind of surprising beauty, the reflections in the pond, the lilies, the fish snapping at flies, the chubby cheeks of chipmunks, the butterflies, the hummingbirds, the red and grey squirrels, and this morning, this flash of brilliant red shoulders on wings of ebony, perched on budding branches of wisteria...all is pending, all unfolding, all ready to delight, to calm, to provide sanctuary, all gracefully reminding us that life is a process.

And so is building a house...and what a process it is...

This is what happened yesterday...the kitchen began to be installed...

Once the cabinets are in place, the company that will install the countertops will come measure up, create the template and then cut the quartz. 

The fabulous team putting up the siding are also the team that will come inside, in the heat to lay all of our tiled floors, a nice change for them, they were also the men who got our shingles on before the blizzard on Christmas Eve! Our entire crew astonishes us with their skill and the pride they have in their work...what an added blessing to have all their energy going into the house as well.

Here is where they got to by the end of the day yesterday, guessing they may well have to come in and begin tiling today, given the new snowfall amounts...

As things are moving once at speed once more, the hopes of a late April move-in day are renewed...seems fitting for Spring...


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Springtime at Applewood Lane...almost...

Today, many boxes arrived at the house. Kitchen cabinets, waiting to be unwrapped and set in place. 
We  have been sent a template for the mirror back splash and, thankfully, the quote for its completion was far less than we had thought.
Winter continues... gloriously, really. The light is gorgeous on trees and on snow. 
I took this photograph at the southern end of Cayuga lake as the evening set in a few weeks ago...


Today it truly felt as though things were back on track at the house...of course, things have been happening (post-ghosting incident) but, to be honest, that entire event really took the wind out of our "house-getting-completed-by-Easter" sails...that being said, here they are brown paper packages, not wrapped up with string, and yet...still some of my newly favourite things!

Knowing me as they do, our crew, in particular, Ralph's brother, Ricky, did a little mini-reveal for me, just so I could rest in the fact that my choice, was in fact, exactly what I wanted...

In the late night of the first day of spring, this is not perhaps the best image of our cherry cabinetry, with champagne stain, but they will look gorgeous with the mirrored backsplash, the dove-grey tiles and the brushed stainless steel cabinetry...and, I must not forget to mention the singular beauty of the countertops,, with a little grey veining, and a spectacular cobalt blue fleck throughout...gourmet meals are being created in our minds as we imagine new friends, and beloved older ones, from different seasons in our lives, joining us around the table for fellowship and communion.

Today, when writing to a friend in England, it became clear that soon we will truly, fully be we will be calling the moving/storage company and asking them to place our belongings, Nicholas' paintings, our photographs, our pebbles from Iona, our books, our music, all of it, into a container and ship it across the ocean. And while exhilarated at the thought, I found myself in floods of tears, for in the acknowledgment of the new and glorious beginning, was the profound weight and sadness of all that I have said goodbye to, all that is no longer home, and the  I have loved, and continue to love, so very much. 

It is the first day of spring, a new season in our lives, and I feel only gratitude at having loved, and been loved so deeply in my life, across years and miles.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Winter continues... for a while

Snow is back...with only a few days until the Spring Equinox.
I spotted these clouds a day or so ago...

But bulbs are struggling up through the top soil, regardless and signs of a change are in the air.
We are hoping that the kitchen cabinets will be installed this week. Fingers crossed.

Here are the lovely snowdrops from a few days ago, now with nearly another 2 inches of snow on top of them...yet, still they are harbingers of spring, of new life, of the will to push through from the cold and dark, towards the light...

They are growing just opposite this rock garden, which has given me daily pleasure and opportunity for reflection since we moved to the cottage. It is quite wonderful to have these shapes cast shadows, hold light, define space in such a subtle, yet extraordinarily constant manner.

Both of us love this meditative garden idea so much, that we have asked our landscape designer to incorporate the concept into the new present,it will be a meditation garden that unites the front of the house, the area of garden just outside the gallery, and then it will continue and become a part of the back garden as continual expression of itself, but with slightly different forms, sculptures and plantings....

All very exciting...all becoming very real, as though waking from a dream...


Thursday, 14 March 2013


At last the back of the house, save the fireplace housing, is complete. Inside, trim is being tailored for each window and the repainting has been finished. It looks fabulous, waiting for kitchen cabinets and tiling. Overall, we reckon we are about four weeks behind but still hope mid April might see us move in.
Yesterday morning the snow had all melted, but now we have another half inch fluttering down.


It feels so wonderful to see the outside, and inside, of our home pristine once many ways we took the "ghosting" in our stride, but in retrospect, I now know how discouraging it was for us. Yesterday, seeing the outside nearing completion with the siding, and seeing the entirety of the internal surface area freshly painted, feeling the relief in seeing that, it was as though a great weight had been lifted from our was only then I fully appreciated the stress of what had been happening these past 6 weeks.

Here is the view from our bedroom yesterday...and, at long last, work has begun once more! The carpenter is back on site and has begun to create the trim for the windows and you can see, the trim on the far left window has been nailed into place, once all the trim is completed, they will finish the painting.

Nicholas' studio has become the carpenter's workplace for the next few he creates not only the finishing trim, but also the built-in cabinetry for the office/library, as well as the living room...

Meanwhile, downstairs in the gallery, the ductwork is nearing completion, the tiles for bathrooms and flooring are to be delivered Friday, and there is a hope that the kitchen cabinetry (which has been available since early February) will be able to be installed by this time next week.

As if reflecting all the new possibilities, the growth, the perpetual nature of change and new beginnings, this is what I saw this morning when I got into the car... England, and clearly here as well, they are the first of spring's flowers to push through the frozen earth, welcoming the early warmth of the lengthening days, promising renewal, beauty and a new season.

They are very small, they could be easily unseen, stomped underfoot by careless, distracted steps...but in stopping to notice, there, alongside the little flowers, I saw a remnant of two seasons ago, a leaf from autumn that had lived under the snows of winter, alongside the possibilities of spring...

So too, my life, perpetually ready to blossom from all that has come before...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Slow but Sure...

Its great to see the siding progressing... the crew are brilliant, working in bitterly cold conditions but sustained by Dunkin Donuts and coffee!

Inside, we are hoping that the tilers will be able to start work in a day or two, and, at last, we hope to be connected to the gas supply so that the furnace can get going.
Meanwhile at the cottage we've been visited by a delightful red squirrel. At only about six inches long this little creature has bright white eye lining and a confident stare!


And here it is...the furnace and air conditioning isn't as pretty as the photographs of the windows and the view to the hills...but it looks just great to us. At 95% efficient, it is great for the environment and energy conservation...this photo was taken in the middle of what will be a huge storage area. 

Just beyond the furnace, the framing is in place for the walls and doorways that will separate this area from the art gallery beyond. News from Ralph today was that the building inspector gave us the go-ahead and tomorrow the electrical inspection for the external walls in the gallery and cinema room should be taking soon as that is done, we will begin drywalling. 

That means that all the repainting of the damaged walls and ceilings upstairs will also begin! Hurray! Our amazing designer/builder reckons we have lost about a month in this process of identifying and rectifying the "ghosting" problems...but...we are moving forward again. So grateful.

These are the fabulous siding guys, well...two of them...they are the same men who were on our rooftop, Sunday, December 23rd, making certain we had all of our shingles in place before inches of snow fell on Christmas Eve...they work ethic and pride in how they do, what they do, is really something to see.

The snows are melting and as the earth is revealed...our thoughts are simultaneously turning to the garden design...lots of places for meditation, reflection and beauty...


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Snow Falling on Cedars

Winter storm Rocky is fading away, just as, to the west, winter storm Saturn gathers pace.
I spotted a red-winged blackbird on the deck this morning: it is the first sighting this year and, I believe, they fly up from the deep south.
The pond has been continuously frozen now for about eight weeks, but every now and then the surface melts to a shallow puddle on the deeper ice.
Across the pond, cedar trees gathered snowfall in layers.

We are cautiously optimistic that we might move in to our new house mid April only a few weeks away, but there is much yet to be done: tiling the bathrooms, dining room and kitchen; installing the fire; drywalling the basement and so on. Work has been held up a little because we had to have a specialist cleaning company come in to remove soot that had been blown into fresh drying paint from a faulty propane heater... and all the walls and ceilings need repainting. Thankfully, Ralph's team have claimed on their insurance for the costs.

The heavy snowfalls of this winter have meant hungry birds and it has been our joy and our delight to help sustain them in what must be cold and harsh conditions for their little bodies. Here, they are not fighting and bickering, but resting in the knowledge that there is enough for them all...sometimes the littlest creatures hold the largest lessons...

Against the pale grey tones of the wintry months, the deep charcoal back of the junco and the brilliant flame-red beak of the cardinal provide glorious accents. We paused yesterday, when this photo was taken, realizing that we have chosen colours for our new home inspired by this constantly emergent scene.

We are so thankful for the gift of these little birds in our daily life, they remind us of the uniqueness of each species, the unending gift of observation and quietude, and the blessing of providing sustenance for those in need.

As we look to our future, working with our landscape designer, we know we will need to plant trees or shrubs near the eastern window of the sunroom, a place where the birds can perch in-between feedings. I know it is getting close now...I am beginning to dream about the garden!