Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thinking Spring

It has been a long time since I have even visited this blog or thought of writing anything here.  We moved into this house in July, and somehow it is already May.  I'm here again because of the encouragement of my friend, Eliza.  Sometimes the enormity of the projects we have taken on overwhelms me, but she was kind enough to remind me of all we have accomplished rather than just all that we have left to do.  And there is a lot left to do:  plastering, siding, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, trim, painting, landscaping and the list goes on and on, but for now, I'm going to forget about all of that....

This was a long, cold, hard winter.  By many accounts, it was the coldest and longest winter in decades in these parts.  Weeks went by when we didn't hit the freezing mark, and many days we were lucky to hit 10 above zero!  So, did our straw-clay infill house keep us warm?  I'm happy to say that this house has surpassed even our highest hopes in that department.  We heated only with our wood stove, and burned primarily soft wood, which we have in abundance around here, and we were toasty.  During the coldest days we kept the stove going pretty consistently, but now that it is in the 30s and higher again, we only burn two fires a day and the house is warm enough to walk around with bare feet and short sleeves.  Some days we only burn one fire, but then it gets down into the lower 60s by the end of the afternoon and early evening, and I get chilly.  I've become spoiled when it comes to a warm house!  Give me 72 degrees, please!  These walls seem to absorb the heat and radiate with warmth all day long.  It is truly a pleasure to live within these earthen walls.

Now, in the middle of April, spring is finally showing herself.  Crocuses are popping up here and there along the roadside in people's garden beds, song bird are taking happy baths in puddles, and the ground is thawed and ready to dig, which is, of course, exactly what I have been doing when the baby is sleeping.  I'm returning to gardening after a long hiatus due to the last phases of building this house, a pregnancy, welcoming our daughter, adjusting to being a mother, finishing my master's degree, moving into this house and starting a new job--all in one year!   It has been an absolutely crazy time in my life, and I'm so relieved to be returning to the soil and the garden beds I dug and fed so carefully years ago.  Those original garden beds are now in my front yard!  This week, in addition to turning over soil, I planted three high bush blueberry bushes, an elderberry bush and an apple tree in our front yard.  So satisfying!   I'm also happy to report that the cold frames my father built for me last fall are working away.  Onions, beets, kale, mustard greens, lettuces, cilantro, parsley, dill, arugula and various flowers are all popping their heads out of the soil.  Thank goodness for new life after the winter we had!

I find that it is with a new pleasure that I'm digging in the soil again--it is beginning to feel more and more like spring and home around here!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We did it!

After five long years, we moved into our beautiful home on July 7.  In some ways I cannot believe we are finally living, sleeping and eating here, but in other ways it seems like we were always here.  It must be the tremendous number of hours we devoted to hand building this place.

There are so many people to thank for helping us accomplish this project:
  • My sister, Laura, for designing such a sweet, not-so-big, but perfectly delightful house;
  • Benjamin and Company Timber Frames for designing our frame and providing us with excellent plans.
  • All of the folks on the island who allowed us to come onto their property and cut down trees to turn into lumber; 
  • Bill McGuinness and Cory Duggan for helping to pour the footing;
  • The whole crew who showed up to help us pour the foundation walls;
  • Bentley Howard for helping us with our sawmill and teaching Jason the basics to get us started;
  • To the whole entire town for showing up to raise the frame; 
  • Cory Duggan and Jacob Bach Jensen for helping to cut the frame; 
  • Jim Amuso, Cory Duggan, Gary Gould and Bruce Fernald for heroically lifting those roof truces into place(!);
  • Jim Amuso and Steve Krasnow for helping to roof the place; 
  • To the countless people who showed up over the course of two summers to stuff the walls with straw-clay infill insulation and plaster the walls with clay plaster; 
  • Jim Amuso for helping in the final days to get it ready to move in; 
  • To my mother-in-law, Joan, for always being here when we needed her help, no matter what it was we needed help with; 
  • To my parents, Jeff and Lucy, for the moral support, the extra hands cleaning up and (of course) the plumbing; 
  • To Eric Dyer for our chimney;
  • And to the dozen or so people who showed up to help us move.
We are so fortunate to have been blessed with this downpour of support, love and belief over the last five years.  We truly could not have done this without you all.  Thank you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

What's New?

So much is new!  Since that last time I posted in October (October?!--Yikes!) many new things have happened.  Biggest and best of all, we welcomed a new little person to our family. 

She is keeping us busy!

And on the house front, so much has happened, too. 

This is what the house is looking like from the outside right now:

On the inside, a couple of big things are new: we now have base cabinets and plumbing. Yes!  Running water and everything!  We could even take a very cold shower at the new house!  It is beginning to look more and more like a house!

What is next?  Jason is working on installing the radiant heat in the kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Today our house is one step closer to being oh so toasty warm this winter.  After a marathon of work Saturday, Sunday and today, we have a chimney! 

We are so blessed to have great friends.  Throughout this entire four-year process our friends have shown up to help us out over and over again.  This weekend was no exception.  This time our friend Eric came all the way from Portland to lead the way in building the chimney. 
Eric and Jason worked their guts out building the chimney for two and a half days, well into the night both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Now, just a few days after beginning, we have a complete chimney!  Here it is on the first floor. 
This is looking in through the thimble to the flue.  

Here it is coming up through the second floor. 
And here is what it looks like outside. 

What do you think?  Pretty nice, huh?

 Eric, thank you so much for coming all this way to help us with this project.  We definitely could not have done it without you. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012