across the miles   10 comments

Posted at 4:13 pm in friends,Nova Scotia,Round Hill house

The past few weeks have seen me quietly working away on the old house at Round Hill. Originally, I’d planned to leave the place mostly empty while working on the exterior and gradually the interior toward the end of summer. However, after a few weeks here, I finally got sick of living inside an empty box and decided to have furniture and belongings brought here out of storage. Of course, the house wasn’t really ready to receive anything as it still requires a terrific amount of interior repairs. Regardless, I worked very hard at repairing plaster and then painting the three main rooms in the downstairs – leaving one more that is a torn up mess. The upstairs is now partly done too. I hope to finish two upstairs rooms this summer and leave the other two for next summer. The truck arrived a little over a week ago — in the rain. We unloaded and stacked everything in a couple of the rooms. I’ve spent the past week trying to straighten things around as best as I can. It’s still a bit chaotic, but the designated kitchen area is a lot better than before now that there are a few pieces of furniture and some cookware.

Outdoors, the yard and surrounding woods are going wild. Everything is looking so verdant. I’ll try to shoot and put up photos of the yard later this week. For now, I’ve posted a couple of photos of Round Hill Brook, taken from the bridge just below my place. The above photo is taken looking upstream, while the one below was taken looking downstream. My property fronts along the brook on the left side of this photo beginning somewhere a bit before the stream splits into two to pass around a little island.

This week, I’ll be turning my attention to working on the remaining downstairs room – The Room of the Scary Athletic Wallpaper – which I wrote about in my last post. My mom would like to fly here for a visit around mid-July, so I’m working toward that date to try to get the room finished, painted, and set up as a comfortable guest room. Hopefully, I can pull that all together.

At night, I’m still photographing moths and intend to do so for the remainder of the summer. I believe the count is up to something like 115 identified species. It’s been interesting to see what shows up each evening.

I still haven’t done much socializing in the area. In truth, I’m living a bit like a survivalist hermit, but maybe after I get things a little more under control, I’ll get out and about a bit and meet a few people.

Last but not least. Many of you are long-time readers of Robin and Roger’s Dharma Bums blog. Robin and I have been leaving comments at each other’s blogs for a long time — going back to early 2006, I think. What some of you don’t know is that Robin and Roger have been good friends across the miles as well as the internet – they were always there with words of support when Don and I were dealing with his illness a couple of years ago – and they even made and sent Don a birthday video which he cherished very much. Anyhow, if you’ve been following their blog, you’ll already know that Roger is facing some recent health challenges and will be having surgery tomorrow. I’m posting this link so that any of you who wish, can drop by and send Roger some positive energy or good vibes.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to post some photos of the latest work around the house, and also some of the sights in this area.

Written by bev on June 27th, 2010

10 Responses to 'across the miles'

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  1. It’s so beautiful there, bev. And yes, definitely verdant. Looking at these two photos reminds me of just how dry it is here, even after a very wet winter and spring. Your brook is very lovely, a great contemplative looking spot.

    As always I am impressed by the amount of work that you do by yourself. I do understand the reclusive hermit part of life. I’m guided by that as well. I’m not sure I could accomplish what you do. A pretty remarkable thing, bev.

    Thank you so much for the kind and thoughtful words about Roger. I read them out loud to him and we had tears in our eyes.

    robin andrea

    27 Jun 10 at 5:15 pm

  2. Bev, I’m glad you’re making progress on the place and I look forward to seeing those photos. I compare the photos in this post with some of the other shots you’ve made available…the winter shots, I call them…and the difference is like night and day. The lush greenery and the water make me want to head your way! The temperatures here have already hit 100 and are consistently staying in the mid to upper 90s most days!

    I have Roger and Robin on my mind, as well. A lot of people do. It’s very thoughtful of you to mention them here; a lot of us share an appreciation of both your blogs and it’s nice to know you’re good friends.

    John Swinburn

    27 Jun 10 at 6:08 pm

  3. robin – I keep thinking it can’t get any greener or leafier than it is, and then it does. Twice, I’ve pruned back some branches so that I would be able to see the brook from my bedroom window, but then more leaves come out or unfurl to become even larger, and I can’t see the water again. Perhaps *now* things are at their peak. Anyhow, it is certainly nice — the verdant countryside I remember from so many past visits over more than a decade of holidays in Nova Scotia with Don.

    You’re right – I do get a lot done just working away alone. I was always our chief cook and carpenter at the farm, so none of this seems too unusual to me. However, I did used to have someone to help me out with the heavier work like lifting a new window assembly into place, or holding a sheet of gyproc while I secured it with the first few drywall screws. I’m doing okay as I know how to do all of this stuff alone, but it’s just a lot quicker and less awkward when there is that second person. My goal these days is to work at a comfortable pace and not be too critical of myself if I can’t get things done as quickly as I used to. No biggie.

    Best wishes for today and I, along with many others, will be waiting for an update whenever that comes along. Take care.

    John – I can just imagine how hot and dry it is down in your part of the nation. As you know, I love arid places a lot — the deserts of southern Arizona, the red rock country of southern Utah, and the high plains of Oregon and California — but I really do seem to need to be in a verdant place like this during the summer months. Maybe it’s because I spent the summers of my youth along big rivers and green forests in Ontario.


    28 Jun 10 at 8:05 am

  4. I’m so impressed with how much you have taken on, and how much progress you are making. You seem to be balancing well all the work on the house, with some of your passion, such as the moths. I sometimes think of all of us widowed as just like you moths. You could photograph all of the widowed, and try to identify what makes us each unique within our ranks.

    I’m glad your mother is planning a visit. It probably serves as a further incentive to keep moving forward. I look forward to seeing more photos of your new home. I’m sorry your friend is going through health problems. I hope his surgery goes well.


    29 Jun 10 at 12:41 am

  5. Dan – It’s true that I’m getting a lot done here. Sometimes I surprise myself with how much I can get done in a day. I think that working on the place is a good way for me to channel a lot of the pent-up energy and emotions that I still have to deal with as a result of Don’s death. Photographing the moths is a good way for me to make some personal space for myself each day. I’ve always found that working around the moths at night has an almost mystical feel – perhaps due to the colour of the light (I use a UV lamp under a large sheet), and just having all of these living creatures moving about near my hands and often climbing onto me. No doubt, that sensation would upset some people, but when you’re used to having moths on you, it’s not at all unpleasant.
    Yes, I think that my mom arriving in a couple of weeks will help me to maintain momentum and work toward a realistic goal – of completing the downstairs room which can be used by guests. If you saw how it looked this morning, you’d be thinking, “Whoa! Not gonna happen!” but I work very quickly once I decide how to proceed. I’ve now figured out how I’m going to do that room, so I’ll probably be getting going on it later today. Stay tuned for photos sometime soon!


    29 Jun 10 at 7:17 am

  6. Ah, a woman after my own heart, who can swing a hammer and do practical things around the house. Quite the job you’re tackling there. Work therapy makes for good emotional healing.

    You’ve inspired me with the moths, I managed to get my mitts on a blacklight last winter, when I have time in the evenings I’ve set it up inside the window by our balcony, then go out with the camera and take pics. I know what you mean about the flutterers crawling on you, and you’re probably one of the few people who can understand why I get excited when there’s a good whirrrr and a soft whap whap thump on the back of my head: that’s GOTTA be a good big moth! LOL! So far it’s been a polyphemus and an imperial that have given a good thumping. I’m planning some designs for panels that I can stand up by the side of the house for the moths to land and cling to, that way I can lay the panels flat to get better pictures. I’m having to step carefully around the occasional one that lands on the balcony floor, and the moths can be in awkward places around the window. I’m thinking of digging into our firewood pile and stripping off pieces of bark and gluing them to boards, make the landing sites look more natural for the photographs.

    *sigh* so much going on in nature, and I’m too busy working!


    30 Jun 10 at 6:28 pm

  7. Hi Bev, Even though you’re in the Valley and my place was on the Eastern Shore, I’ve noticed that there is a certain particularly verdant shade of green common to the grass, though the soils (and salt spray!) are quite different. Interesting that you found that birch bark in the walls. There was a newspaper from 1908, among other things, stuffed in to the walls of my house in Toronto as insulation. Not fire marshall approved, I suspect.
    I wonder what else will turn up your new place? Love your moth photos too – incredible variety.


    1 Jul 10 at 10:22 am

  8. That is one impressive page of moths! What an extraordinarily rich diversity. And yes, I can see how the gathering and photographing of them must feel mystical.

    The furnished rooms will make you feel much less like a squatter! We had all our belongings in storage for eighteen months, and when the vans eventually arrived and we unpacked them, Peter and I found ourselves looking at things and saying “Can this be ours? How come I don’t remember it?” And not just with books and such like, of which there are so many that some memory lapses are bound to occur, but with substantial items of furniture! We arranged everything in undecorated rooms, and lived with it all knowing that one day things would start to improve. Soon we’ll be able to move into our newly-decorated bedroom, clearing the one we’ve used since we arrived to be decorated and re-organised as an upstairs ‘Winter’ sitting-room. After all the mess of re-wiring and plumbing, it is such a pleasure to be choosing colours and putting our stamp on at least a few rooms in this rambling house. Please post some images of your furnished rooms when you feel able. It’ll be so interesting to see the changes you’ve wrought in the old place.

    Today I discovered that a swarm of bees had made their home in the new lining of our wood-burning stove. I lit the fire and stood back in amazement at the buzzing echoing through the flue. I’d wondered why there had been so many bees in the sitting-room over the past week. Every day I must have put out forty, and I assumed they were coming in through the open front door. It turns out they were emerging from the fireplace. I’m sure the fire will have destroyed their nest completely. The flue is clear now and the fire blazing, whereas when I set the match to the kindling an hour ago the smoke was trapped behind the glass-paned door of the stove, clearly obstructed from above. I’m sorry to have destroyed the colony, although I saw hundreds streaming from the chimney when I went outside to look, and so many escaped. Life in the country huh! Never without dramas!

  9. Rose-Marie – Yes, you sure do hear these big moths as they come to the light. I usually hear them several seconds before I see them. Fixing up a proper spot for photographing moths sounds like a good plan. My old place had some gray stone panels just below the porch lamp, which made a very nice background against which to photograph moths. However, there is one important advantage to shooting on a white moth sheet. The colour of the light is often quite inaccurate when you are shooting using artificial light. With the white background, it is very easy to do a good digital colour correction. Much more difficult when you’re working with any kind of coloured background.

    Ed – No, I’m sure the birch bark and old newspapers aren’t too fire-safe. Definitely something to keep in mind when you’re working around these old places!


    2 Jul 10 at 11:36 am

  10. Clive – Photographing the moths is something I’ve enjoyed for a number of years. It’s the working outside in the dark after most people are indoors for the evening. It’s quiet. The UV lamp under the sheet casts a slightly otherworldly glow. All of the moths fluttering around give you a real sense of the life that exists on a plane that we don’t tend to pay all that much attention to.

    I’ve experienced much the same feeling as you’ve described regarding my belongings. Some of my things have been in storage for almost two years, and some a bit less. I’ll open a box and wonder what possessed me to save something, or I can’t even remember having seen it before. I didn’t keep all that much furniture, so I will have to pick up the odd piece here and there as I get finished with more of the rooms. I will definitely begin posting some interior photos of the house quite soon. Up until now, it’s all been kind of crazy, but soon I should be able to take some decent photos. I plan to show them next to frame grabs and photos from “before” — that should be quite amusing!

    What a story about the bees in the wood-burning stove. Yes, too bad about the colony, but it sounds as though there have been plenty of survivors. Thank goodness for that!


    2 Jul 10 at 11:45 am

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