30 July, 2014

last day

Here we are at the end of our summer vacation.  Tonight we fly out.  We've spent the last two nights staying with our wonderful friends in Connecticut across the road from our old house, and last night we had dinner with Oscar's girlfriend's family.  A nice little stop between the heartbreak of leaving Vermont and going home.

So before we get caught back up in life in Singapore, I thought I'd share some last photos from the summer...taken with my actual camera, not my iphone.
 We spent a morning out at the Dorset Marble quarry which the kids LOVED.  It was a pretty mild day and we went early, mid week, so it wasn't too crazy.  When we drove past on a sunny Saturday, it was like a public swimming pool on a hot day in a small town!
 The water is DEEP here (and breathtakingly cold) so all the kids jump off the cliffs.  I had fun watching them build up the courage to finally jump.

Ella (finally!)
 Remi even put his monkey blood to use and scaled this tree to help some other kids make a rope swing after they spent half an hour trying to lasso the tree.

Unfortunately we didn't make it back there as it's a good 40 minute drive from our house and the snow making pond is closer and not so crowded.

As for my annual "leaving the house pictures":
 The Shut up and Dance banner made by my friend from work has found a place in the music room.  It seemed only right.
 Up above the piano, with my growing collection of birds.
 Matt's guitar collection is growing pretty well too.  Only the guitar in the corner and the ukelele on the shelf aren't his.  His amp collection is in the cupboard.  But don't worry about him not having any guitars to play back in Singapore, as he has a collection there too.
 And while we are in the music room, this is the print by a local artist (Martha Stevenson) that I bought last year and didn't post any photos of.  It's of our town, South Londonderry, although our house isn't in it...it's about another 9 houses to the right.
 Definitely a cosy little room, even with the uneven floor which makes the book case look like it's falling over.
 The window seat isn't quite so cosy right now as I cleared everything off ready for our new windows that we are getting put in...Fancy that, windows that OPEN!
 In the green room, my curio collection is growing...
 The new green plate there with the frog is called a "road kill" piece by a local artist who finds road kill (mostly frogs) and presses them into plates.  I got it at an estate sale.  I'd love to have some of these things in my art room for the kids to draw, but for now they need to stay here.
 Another purchase this year.  Brooklyn artists, bought in one of my favourite little galleries in Brattleboro, Gallery in the Woods.  It's machine embroidered.
 He's sitting up there by the rooster throne chair.

And as for outside:  Well, it's a bit of a mess.  We have had the drainage problem by the side of the house fixed with a new french drain.  I put weed felt over it before I left to keep out dirt and stuff.  We will have to put either soil and grass or something on it next year.  I still have dreams of a stone patio out this side of the house at some point.
 There's that little bit of red roof that was missed over the door...hopefully soon to be remedied.

 My garden is starting to look good.  All that work I've done over the last 2 summers taking out weeds and making planting beds has made SUCH a difference.  And I'm loving the plants that my neighbour and realtor put in for me last autumn.  The day before I left I was out doing a bit more weeding out there and saw 3 garter snakes living in that wall.  The year for snakes this year...we have another 3 or so living around the back of the barn as well as a few bigger ones up the back.
 The new roof colour is definitely better.
 Out the other side of the house is a big mess!  But hopefully we'll see stone walls and terraces there next summer.

 Another drain to hopefully cut down on the amount of water in our basement.  And weedcloth at the back of the barn there to prevent me from having to do a massive weeding session again next year.
 I did manage to finish painting the back of the barn, and once the landscaping is done, we can look at putting in a deck there and putting a better door on the back too (and once the deck goes in the gas tank won't be so ugly as the plan is for the deck to be raised above the tank
 Looking over towards our neighbours' barn (airBnB)
 Yep, it's a big mess.  But I can't wait to do before and after photos with this.
 Looking down onto the side garden.  It's a pain having to mow this grass all the time which is why I'd like to make it a patio with some garden beds around it.  That grey is the french drain.  The work I've done with the red slate everywhere has made SUCH a difference in keeping it nice and clean around the house.
 Looking down at what used to be a pond...
 Now filled with gravel.  Seriously we had a frog living in there.

 This summer we also cleared all around the shed, ripping out plants and putting down more gravel.
 Looking back up towards the back of the land.  The pile of stones is what the digger pulled out and what will be used to make a stone wall...
 dirt and soil.

 From here you can kind of start to visualise what it will look like when we have a deck and some terraces stepping down to the house.
 And while we had the digger here we had him rip out a big pile of old trees and yard cuttings etc that were here in a fenced off garden area.  It's opened up the back of the land so much, and it's a big flat area up there....we have plans....although much longer term ones.
 This is up by the shed, looking across the driveway that goes up to another house to our neighbours' lovely big back yard.  It's really pretty up here.
 And this is walking down the driveway back to our house.  The back barn roof is the next one to be done.  Also exciting.

 It looks so different with all the plants pulled out and cut back.
 And along this side is where I managed to paint the upper dormer windows and top trim this year.  They don't look very finished because I didn't bother painting the storm windows.  The new windows we are having put in are white anyway, so they will contrast against the dark blue.
 And there's Dave, my little hire Yaris for the summer.
 I can't wait until this view looking back up to the shed looks like a real garden!
So much to look forward to when we next see the house!  Farewell (and Fair Well) my lovely home.

26 July, 2014

Counting down

It's usually about now that I start posting beautiful photos of the house in readiness for leaving.  We will have one more night in the house, and drive back down to CT tomorrow before flying back to SG on Tuesday.  The time has gone far too quickly and I could easily do with another month or so to finish all the things I started/wanted to do.
 We took Remi down to Brattleboro Thursday of last week for him to catch the train back to Connecticut.  It's a much nicer drive for us (and Brattleboro is such a great little town) and this train stops in CT, but it's slow...about 5 hours.  One train comes per day; it's very old school, but Remi has caught it a few times now and doesn't mind.

We spent a great day in Bratt and bought some art work, lots of second hand records, a few CDs and DVDs, and unfortunately I couldn't fit in the nice vintage ladder I saw.

Matt also took me out to dinner at the wonderful SoLo, which is just up the road from us (and not country just up the road, we can literally walk to and from it), while Kit and Ella hung out with our neighbours playing the game of the summer, Skipbo.
 We've been so lucky this year because both of their lovely daughters are home this year for summer.  We didn't get to see Hayley once last summer! And we LOVE her!!!  She's got a part in a musical up here, so here's hoping she can do it again next year.
 We've caught up a few times with our friends with the gorgeous twins.  They came around for dinner, and I made a splash blowing raspberries on Luc and Camille's tummies....  Here they are in readiness.  I love these two (and their parents) and I'm so happy that Estelle is flying out to Singapore in just a few weeks to see her parents with the twins, so I will get to see them again soon!

My new ladder enabled me to finish painting one side of the house, completely (yay).  Two dormer windows and the top trim down.  I can take photos, but it really doesn't look that impressive.  Especially as I didn't paint the storm windows because.....dadadadadadaDA....we are getting new windows put in!  Yep, when we come back in December, we should have a nicely insulated house with new (Vinyl) windows.  I've been in two minds about how to do the windows.  I kind of feel like we should have nice wooden ones like the originals with the weighted sashes etc.  But the reality is that it is an old draughty house (at present) and having some nice tight windows (that open and don't fall down one your arm nearly breaking it as you are trying to replace the storm window with mosquito wire every year) is just more important.  They are being installed in about 6 weeks time, so I'm having to pull down ALL the curtains at the moment and will have to put them all up again when we get back in winter time.  It's quite exciting.  We are also getting 2 storm doors put on doors that don't have them at the moment and one replaced.

Unfortunately as I worked around with my ladder, I got back to the front bay window to discover that there'd been some water damage at the front where I painted 3 summers ago.  Whah WAH!  So I had to start scraping all that back again to paint.  I'm not sure if it's the flashing over the window (in lieu of roofing) that's leaking, although it all looks good, or whether the water is somehow coming in through one of the storm windows.  It's kind of a wait and see once we get new windows thing...so I'm not in a screaming rush to get up there and paint again, although I may have to putty up some of the holes and rotting wood this morning before we leave to help it through the winter.

In between all that, I had this little win.  One of the things that's really fun up here is that people put their unwanted stuff out the front of their house with "free" signs.  It's easier than doing yard sales or craigslist.  The place up the road had been putting out a bunch of stuff and we got a couple of old chairs for the back room ( a wicker one, and one of those ugly boomerang shaped gaming chairs which is up in the boys' room).  I'd seen this little stool put out and thought it had potential, but left it for a few days as it had been out in the rain.  It was covered in a light blue velvet and was even puffier.  It was faded and drawn on and pretty daggy looking.  But it had nice legs.    Initially I didn't think I had anything to cover it with, but when going through the blanket box and giving everything a wash, I discovered this old tablecloth?/throw?  that I've had for years.  So I started to rip the thing apart.  I had to put new webbing on it (I found some straps around the house and used those) and some garden hessian/burlap for the base, I reused one piece of foam from the original which didn't smell too musty, some wadding I'd pulled out of an old pillow and some quilt batting I had for the padding, then I cut a piece of drop cloth canvas and stapled that over the padding to keep it all nice and tight.  About then, my stapler broke, but fortunately I could manage the rest with out it.  I had some furniture tacks and and lots of these external tacks left over from a previous project, so I was able to finish covering the whole thing with the throw fabric.  I also sanded and oiled the legs. I love it.  It looks even better in person, and it goes so well in that room.  Please ignore the giant salmon pink rooster chair...I have a plan for that one day.
 And then suddenly on this happened.  Remember how I said I'd given up on trying to get the tree trunk out, and was calling someone in?  Well they came on Tuesday, with this piece of equipment.
 And did this.  

They were here for a day in total.  The guy ripped apart the yard with the big digger and generally shaped the land.  And fixed our drainage problem.  None of those photos show very well what's been done...partly because he also piled rocks to be used for a rock wall around the place, and a huge pile of earth.  So now we just have to wait and see what they do with the wall...as in wait a WHOLE year to see.  NERVE WRACKING!!!  

And while the sound of ripping and digging was going on out side, we were having ALL kinds of plumbing issues inside.  A call to the plumber on Monday was only answered on Friday, so in the meantime we just got started ourselves.  Matt spent a day trying to fix a leaky toilet....mostly done.  Still a little leaky, but at least it flushes.  And we had to rip the back off the island in the kitchen to get to the sink to fix it.
 We've actually left it like this.  This island is so badly designed, so we want someone to come in and take it back 6 inches with an openable back.  At least now we can push the stools in to get past them...although it looks a little ugly.  AND the taps work.  YAY.  The ones in the bathroom have a bucket under them.  The problem we think is that there's too much silt from the well getting in to the system, so we need to have a filter put in.

It's hard for a control freak like me to be leaving behind all these problems and issues...until next time.  Which will be Christmas time.  It's fun filling our wardrobes with our winter clothes in readiness though.

But the hardest thing for me is just leaving behind this place.  I can't begin to describe how much I love it here.  It's not just the house.  It's everything...made even more special by having these people next door who we love.
I will miss this so much!

Right, NOW I must crack on and finish what I can before we leave.  Next post will be from SG, in the heat....sigh.