progress   18 comments

The house as it looked during light rain on July 10, 2010

My mom has been asking to see a photo of the front of the house now that the trees have leafed out, the flowers in the new garden are beginning to bloom, and a bit more of the siding has been repaired and painted. I took this photo yesterday from about halfway to the road that passes by – which is where the “dog gate” is located (the section of fence and gates which I built to keep the dogs away from the road). Click on this and all photos for larger views,

This is probably a good time to recap what’s been happening since my arrival here at the old house. If you can’t remember how the house looked shortly after our arrival, here’s a photo from an earlier post. What you couldn’t really see in that shot was the bad conditon of the siding, and the crooked cornice mouldings, etc… This shot shows it a little better. As of the moment, the siding is repaired up to the part of the house that is painted with white primer. The sides of the house are coming along to about the same height – they aren’t nearly as high as the front, so those sections are progressing well. I’m hoping to have all of the siding repaired, primed, and painted by the time I finish up for the season. There’s one really bad section on the back section of the east side, beyond the little gable. The wall has taken a lot of water damage there and the siding is in quite a mess. I’m hoping to be able to use the same style of siding (shiplap) there, or if worse comes to worse, I’ll do it in clapboard as it’s not a part of the house that you can easily see. The cornice mouldings were also in rough condition, but I repaired them with wood fillers and such, put flashings over them, and straightened up the one over the front door as it was wildly askew. I worked on it this week and was able to get it quite level and straight, but the door below is off kilter. Whenever I replace the door, I’ll try to fix that problem. I can’t do too much with the cornices over the two windows in the flat section of wall as that’s more of a structural problem that I think I’ll have to live with. Fortunately, I’m not too bothered.

I’ve still got most of the lower story windows out – I mean, the original wooden windows. I’ve left the aluminum windows that were put up some time in the 1970s. Once the wooden windows are finished, I will probably remove and replace the aluminum windows as storm windows for winter. Most of the wooden windows on this house are in pretty rough shape. What I’ve been doing is removing them from the sashes, taking them apart, scraping and repairing the wood, cleaning up the glass, and then reassembling them. I should be ready to put the window into the open sash by the door sometime soon. I had hoped to replace the front door with something more appropriate this summer, but I’ll just have to see how things go.

The garden is coming along – just small and really the last thing I should be concerned about. It’s more than what was here when we arrived, although there are a couple of nice stands of rugosa roses on the property, as well as some 20+ foot tall white lilacs, and several other ornamental shrubs. I planted 3 rhododendrons this spring and they are doing quite well – growing new leaves since flowering. I also planted several David Austin rose bushes and they are in flower.

There has been some progress indoors as well, but I’m not ready to shoot and post photos just yet. My belongings are still in boxes all over the place, so the scene is really too chaotic to share. However, I did get all of the plaster repaired in the downstairs and on the staircase walls and ceilings, and in the little tower room. I’ve painted most of the downstairs – 3 coats of paint on the walls and 2 on the ceilings. Last week, I began plastering the final room in the downstairs – the Room of the Scary Athletic Wallpaper. I had to knock all of the original plaster off the lath as it was a crumbling mess not worth preserving. I’m about 1/4 done the room and hope to have it finished up in another week or two. We’ll see. There have been other repairs around the place, but they’re small and too numerous to mention.

Sometimes I’m asked if I have someone helping me with the place. No, I work alone. For most jobs, I can manage on my own and have the skills I need, or take the time to learn them. I try to put in a few hours a day on at least one or two jobs – just gradually forging ahead. I try not to rush myself or feel that I’m working to a deadline. There really isn’t any need to do so. The only person I have to please is myself. For the most part, I feel okay with the rate of progress. I do wish I could put away more of my belongings, but until I finish up a couple of more rooms, there’s not a lot I can do. My mom is coming out for a visit quite soon — as soon as I get the plastering and painting of the final downstairs room finished. She’s a good organizer, so she’ll probably be able to help me get stuff put away. Anyhow, I’ll try to get some interior shots up on my blog sometime soon.

a Luna Moth (Actias luna), photographed on July 8, 2010

In other news, I haven’t counted for awhile, but am pretty sure I’m up to about 150 species of moths here at Round Hill. I continue to add photos to this gallery as I have time. On July 8th, I had my first Luna moth at this location, fly to the lamp at around 11:15 p.m. It was quite a beauty – it looked very fresh with no visible damage to the wings, and of very vivid green.

I’m sometimes asked about my mothing set-up, so I shot a photo of the lamps a couple of nights ago (see below). This is how it looks when I’m mothing late in the evening. In the foreground, there is a plastic adirondack chair with an old bug zapper with a low watt UV fluorescent bulb. The whole chair is wrapped in a sheet. On a good night, the sheet is covered with moths, beetles, fishflies, stoneflies, spiders, flies, ichneumon wasps, and sometimes even caterpillars. In the background is a newer arrangement. It’s an 18W compact fluorescent bulb – the kind enclosed in a plastic case meant to be used as a barn light – in a trouble light casing, hanging from a small step ladder. A large sheet is fastened to the wall of the house so that it goes out and over the step ladder. Of the two lamps, I still get far more moths at the UV set-up. I did try setting up a mercury vapor lamp for several nights, but didn’t get nearly the assortment of moths that come to the UV lamp on the chair.

That’s about all of the news from here at the moment. Basically, the dogs and I are doing okay. Life is still very spartan – more like camping as the mosquitoes come and go through window openings. Laundry is still washed in a big tub using a canoe paddle. I’m fine with all of this. It’s a quiet, meditative way of life and that’s pretty much what I was hoping for when I came here to work on this place. For the most part, all is good.

Written by bev on July 11th, 2010

18 Responses to 'progress'

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  1. I’m glad to read the update, Bev. You’ve obviously been busily working away and have gotten quite alot done. I hope you enjoy your mother’s visit; and since she’s a great organizer, let her do all the organizing she’s comfortable doing!

    The mothing arrangement is interesting. I assume the photo of the Luna Moth was taken right there at the chair as it alit on the sheet wrapped around the chair?

    John Swinburn

    11 Jul 10 at 12:52 pm

  2. Hi John. Yes, the Luna was photographed as it rested on the sheet. The extra light for the photo work is from a small 36 bulb LED lamp made for use on a camcorder. I find that it produces the best and most “real” light for shooting insects at night.


    11 Jul 10 at 1:07 pm

  3. Wow that is amazing what you have accomplished. I got tired just reading it. I can see where it would be emotionally and physically very satisfying though. What a project but with a house that looks like it will be worth it.

    The moths are fascinating.


    12 Jul 10 at 10:16 am

  4. Good to read your update Bev, you’ve accomplished an amazing amount of work in such a short time. Love your moth set-up and am thrilled to know you’ve documented so very many species, very cool!


    12 Jul 10 at 12:18 pm

  5. Rain – Ha, I got tired writing everything down! Being in the middle of things, I don’t tend to realize how much I’ve done. However, once I start writing about it and looking at photos of how things looked when I first arrived, I realize just how much progress has been made. I find the work very therapeutic. I put in long days on the house and then do the moths at night. It seems to help me to feel better about things.

    Cindy – It certainly has been a lot of work and in a relatively short time. A couple of days ago, I was figuring out that the season is probably about half over, so I’d better start being selective about which jobs to focus on now. I’m also very pleased about the moths. I’ve sort of got a personal target of about 200 species for this summer. If I can do that, I’d be more than happy!


    12 Jul 10 at 5:18 pm

  6. Bev, you have accomplished so much in this first year of ownership, and I love seeing how the house and the property are coming along. The Luna is sublime, and I am ever so slightly envious – it is a most remarkable Saturnid.


    12 Jul 10 at 8:48 pm

  7. D’you know Bev, that’s how progress works. You think that everything is creeping along like a snail and that you’re not making any progress at all, until you stand back, compare things to what they were, and see how much has actually been achieved. It’s wonderful to see what you’ve done. The pace is steady, more what I’d always imagined in a quite distant past, before deadlines and pressures turned our lives into sprinting marathons. Even here, where we’re in what I know to our city friends looks like a rural idyll, the pressures of work deadlines for both of us are very much those of our times. Your account of life as you live it, measured, quietly industrious and yet not burdening yourself with deadlines, sounds just the ticket for the goal you’ve set yourself of getting the house weather-tight by the end of the ‘fixing-up season’. The rhythm of your endeavour is beautifully conveyed in your descriptions. I don’t mean to say that what you’re doing is easy. What brought you to the house was far from a hankering for a bucolic ‘life-style’, and few people would have either the practical skills or the essential capacity to live with their own company to make the success you have of this adventure. But this seems to be right for you at this time, and it’s a privilege to be able to share a little of it through this website. You’re a wonder.

  8. Cate – Thanks, it does seem like I’m making progress. Isn’t that Luna something else? It was just so fresh and green!

    C live – You’re so right about how it seems like progress has been creeping along at a snail’s pace. Sometimes it feels like nothing much has happened. However, as you say, when you can distance yourself from the work for awhile, you realize how much has been done. I find that works best when I’ve taken one of my once or twice weekly trips to restock on groceries and supplies from the lumber or hardware store. I try to “reset” my perception while I’m gone for a couple of hours and return with fresh eyes to see the place as it really looks. Most times that works and I feel a bit of pleasant surprise as in, “Oh! I didn’t realize I was this far along with the plastering!”
    As you’ve intuited, my pace is just quiet and steady. When I have an off day, or my muscles are feeling sore, I listen to my body and stop working on hard stuff and switch over to something that gives me a break. I try not to get caught up in measuring where I’m at — that I’ve got so many square feet done and there are so many still left to do. That’s counterproductive to the way I have to feel in order to keep going as this is such a large project. You’re also right about life being not quite bucolic in an idealistic sense as just getting through each day’s work, living in a relatively rustic way, and pushing onwards at a steady pace while alone for days on end, would not really suit everyone – well, in truth, would not suit almost anyone but me! It’s all quite logistical, but in a very personal way which I’m comfortable with. That’s actually one of the reasons I’ve been glad that there haven’t been any visitors here thus far. There will be sometime soon, but living as I do, I don’t feel any outside pressure to quickly change this or that. In a way, that’s quite a luxury to me at the moment!


    15 Jul 10 at 7:54 am

  9. I continue to be amazed at all you are getting accomplished! I get tired just reading about it. 😉

    And I love the Luna moth photo. Did you know that Luna moths have been thought to carry the spirits of departed loved ones? I had a dream where my husband came back to me as a moth… and I’m planning to get a Luna moth tattoo on the first anniversary of his death.


    16 Jul 10 at 5:07 pm

  10. Thanx for sharing so much of you and your work. You’re abviously very busy. I like the moth pic, it’s beautiful.


    17 Jul 10 at 1:45 am

  11. Lira – Hey, good to see you. I’ve been following your travels. I’m sure you’ll be glad you went on the road for awhile.
    No, I didn’t know that about the Luna moths, but I can see why. They don’t seem possible – real – when you see one up close. Quite fantastic. I can imagine that the image of a luna would make a wonderful tattoo!

    Yamun – Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Yes, isn’t the moth quite a beautiful creature?


    17 Jul 10 at 7:04 am

  12. I read the post a while ago, but just came back for another look. I have to say, that house has a look. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, but it’s there. It reminds me of something. A movie? I’m not sure.

    I look forward to more reports.


    20 Jul 10 at 10:00 am

  13. Have been stopping by and wanting to comment for some time now but couldn’t gather my thoughts. Much as I enjoy it, my new/old job uses both my time and much of my energy. Just finished working for the evening and am surprised to still have some energy. It’s almost 8 p.m. here and still very light out, although I can see the 3/4 moon rising up there to the southeast. I am picturing a beautiful clear night for you in Round Hill with lots of moths. Your gallery of moths is a treasure. I just spent peaceful time looking through it and will return to it again. Wonderful Luna moth, too!

    Your going forward in such a creative way inspires my going forward creatively. Thanks so much, bev. I came across this recently:

    If we go backward, we die. If we go forward ,we die. Let’s go forward!
    (African proverb)


    20 Jul 10 at 10:12 pm

  14. Mark – You’re right, this house does have a look. A couple of friends who do restoration or are art historians have written to say that they think it’s a very neat house. I have to say that the thing that impresses me the most is that the downstairs room are very large for an old place, and that the windows are so plentiful and large. The views are great from almost every room on the place and the amount of glass seems almost extraordinary for a house of this time period. The only downside to this is that I really don’t know how the inhabitants kept this place warm enough in winter. It’s great as a summer place, but I really don’t know how it could ever be used in winter without major window upgrades, which might well ruin the style of the place unless everything was custom made (probably at a cost I could never afford!).

    am – I often find myself visiting blogs and reading the posts and comments, but feeling a little weary to say much at the time. Sometimes I return later to write something. I’m glad you’re enjoying the moth gallery. A couple of people have told me that they like just scrolling down the page looking at the moths without really thinking about them as insects, but more as patterns. I love that Luna too – it was just so perfect and fresh looking – the green was quite vivid compared to most Luna I have seen in the past. Thanks for mentioning about “going forward in a creative way”. I am struggling along – probably as much as most people would in my situation – but trying very hard not to let the events of the past 3 years pull me down. The only way I know of to keep going is move forward – and as your African proverb says, not go backward. So far, so good. It seems to be working. (-:


    21 Jul 10 at 6:51 am

  15. Hi Bev,
    The house looks fantastic. All your hard work is paying off in spades. I am glad you are finding it cathartic. As we all know if anyone can accomplish what she sets out to do, you are the go to gal. Enjoy your oasis.

    Wendy Weber

    30 Jul 10 at 11:10 am

  16. Hi Wendy – Good to hear from you. Yes, the house is definitely coming along. Looks much better than the day I arrived here! I’ve been working on more repairs and painting to the siding this week, so there has been some more progress since this photo. I’ll put up some more photos fairly soon.


    2 Aug 10 at 7:33 pm

  17. Hi Bev,

    I saw your comment and didn’t recognize the name and here you come from this blog! I’ve followed your journey as you have grieved and haven’t known what to say … so I’m sure I haven’t left a comment. I don’t know quite how you came to my site but thank you for visiting and for your encouraging comment. I think I have relaxed enough that the sadness/weeping has hit with a vengeance. I think I have cried more in two days than the proceeding two months. He was a real gem … like your Don from the sounds of it. I don’t know how I came by such a good guy but I’m ever so grateful I had him in my life, even if it was for so short a time.


    21 Aug 10 at 4:27 pm

  18. Cicero – I’d seen your post on J-in-Wales blog and recognized your blog name. From the comment you left there, I realized that you had lost your husband. I read a few recent posts from your blog and felt saddened that another person has lost a wonderful spouse – yes, I think they both were gems. The next few months will probably be particularly difficult for you. I’d like to say that things get easier with time – and in some ways they do – but there will always be some sadness. I think we just learn to live with it and find a place where it can remain while we carry on. Take care, -bev


    21 Aug 10 at 5:01 pm

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