Archive for September, 2011
There’s no denying that summer is coming to an end. The leaves on the maples are just beginning to change colour, and the last lingering hummingbirds seem to have departed a couple of days ago. Nights are getting colder. The only heat source in the house – a portable fan heater – struggles to keep the chill at bay in the old living room which I use as bedroom and headquarters for all that happens here.
This morning, I reinstalled two sets of rebuilt windows in one of the upstairs rooms. When I first arrived here back in April 2010, many of the glass panes throughout the house were cracked or missing. The window frames were in tough shape – sprung apart with peeled paint and chunks of missing glazing putty. I removed the worst of them to rebuild. This summer, I got started on the upstairs windows. When my mom and brother visited in August, mom worked on the first two sets of windows, removing the putty and panes of glass, scraping the frames down to bare wood, reglueing all the joints, and then priming the frames ready for me to install new glass and final coats of paint. It was so nice to put the windows back in place this morning. I shot a few photos from inside and out. I have one more set to finish up and install – hopefully within the next couple of days.
Work continues upstairs where I have been replastering the badly damaged walls and ceiling. I am about an afternoon’s work away from finishing the third room – an L-shaped room with a large gable window looking down upon the woods along the river. The floor is made of planks, some of which are of very good width.
The room has required many hours of work as it was in very rough shape. It probably has not seen much use since this poster was tacked to the wall, perhaps sometime around 1979.
This will be the third room finished, not counting a long hallway. There remains one unfinished room which will have to wait for my return next summer.
Another project which is coming along quite well is refinishing of the staircase. I scraped through several layers of paint on the treads, risers, handrail and newel post. The treads and risers are going to receive a sort of folk art paint treatment. I am just getting started on that and will not have time to do much before I close up the house, but at least everything will be ready to carry on when I return next summer. The newel post and handrail are very handsome now that the are scraped back to the natural wood. I intend to varnish them.
The outside of the house has progressed quite well, but it looks like I will have to leave a section unfinished as the weather seems to have turned and next week’s forecast promises rain almost every day or two. That’s okay. In truth, I am feeling ready to pack up my tools for the season. With the cooler, damper nights, arthritis is taking its toll on both Sabrina and me. Time to make a hasty retreat to the desert.
It’s been quite a productive year. Although there is still a huge amount of work remaining, I feel that this summer’s projects have made the house more inhabitable.
Now it’s time to get back to Ontario, and from there, to make the long trek to southeast Arizona. I look forward to the stronger sunlight and arid desert environment, and to get together with good friends.
And so another year comes to a close as the next begins. This evening, it will be three years since Don died. I’ve just spent the past few hours, choosing some photos for this post. A few are older, taken in the years before Don became ill. Some, such as the above image, were taken in the months between his diagnosis and death. I have not looked at the later photos too much since taking them as it has just been too painful. However, to avoid them is to avoid acknowledging that difficult part of our lives.
The above photo is how I like to remember Don – healthy and strong – busy taking GPS readings and recording field notes. It’s a scene that was repeated many times during our hikes year-round every weekend. Don and I hiked and canoed just about every trail we knew of in eastern Ontario. I took photos while he recorded our sightings.
Above is Don with a young Sabrina. She is about two or so years old in this photo – not really too much different in age from Sage. Now, Sabrina is in the twilight of her life. I hope to take her to Arizona with me in October, but am sure this will be her final trip – a fact that makes me quite sad as it seems like she is one of the last tangible connections to Don.
This photo was taken on the trail along the Illinois River in the Siskiyou region of southeast Oregon. In 2006, Don flew out to join me part way through my photography travels of the Pacific Northwest. I am so glad that he decided to come west so that I could take him to so many of my favourite places in Oregon and northern California. He loved it there and talked of returning to explore more of the coast – but of course, that did not come to pass.
A couple of years ago, I posted a different view of this little scene. I decided to put this one up as it has such a familiar feel to it. Evenings were often spent sitting reading in the living room. This was our family time – Don, Sabrina and me.
This photo was taken at the farm shorty after Don’s diagnosis. At this point, we were spending most of our time at the farm as Don was dealing with the effects of chemo and radiation treatments. Regardless of his illness, he made a point of getting out for walks each day in order to stay strong and to keep our lives as normal as possible throughout that time.
The above photo was taken moments after the top photo in this post. I debated whether to include it, but decided that it was good to share. That day, we had returned from a meeting with the doctors, picked up Sabrina, and went for a walk at Baxter Conservation area. We talked a bit, but mostly tried to relax and adjust to latest bombshells. Don was always pretty at ease with the whole thing. In fact, so was I. It was difficult for both of us, but we both felt that the best way to deal with things was to get out and spend time in those places we most loved. In the months to come, we would find our greatest peace resting in the sunlight in those places we knew so well.
This is among the last photos that I have of the two of us together. It makes me both happy and sad. I have not looked at it more than a couple of times in the past three years. Don was not well, but as always, he was smiling.
This last photo was taken in autumn 2006, on a beach near the town of Trinidad in northern California. It is how I beslt like to remember Don. Although my life has changed considerably over these past three years, these photos bring me close to certain moments. To me, it is as though they happened yesterday. I still feel the same toward Don now as I did then.
To Don. I miss you -I love you – and that will never change.