Monday, August 27, 2012

The End of the Beginning

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. 
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
                                                   Winston Churchill

When Winston Churchill said these words, World War II was raging and people were weary. Even though they were in for a long haul, Britain's prime minister gave its citizens hope by proclaiming "the end of the beginning." Like the Brits, I'm hoping we're almost at the end of the beginning...of remodeling the farmhouse. The longer we work on the place, the more we see that needs to be done. It's a never-ending to-do list requiring untold amounts of money we don't have. Let me show you what I mean.

This room, known in the family as "Grandfather's Room," has a long way to go to be useful again.

The parlor and hallway are almost as bad. And that's just downstairs! Upstairs, nothing has been done except to frame in a new bath. The only reason the tub is there is because it wouldn't make the turn into the doorway once the framing was in place.

But that's the forward view. Although I believe in looking to the future with a positive frame of mind, it is important to look back now and then. When progress on the farmhouse is slow and discouraging, taking a look at before and after pictures usually perks me up.

For instance, this is what the kitchen looked like a couple of years ago.

Now, it looks like this:

And the pantry started out looking like this:

And now it looks like this:

In the dining room, we started with board walls in a dingy green color.

It's been quite a transformation to this:

Perhaps the greatest change has been in the bath and laundry rooms. Going from this

to this,

and from this

to this.

Let me tell you, it was a great day when, once again, there was a working toilet in the house!!

On the outside, we've come a long way as well. All the windows have been replaced along with all but two exterior doors. The house has been scraped

and painted

Porch ceilings (all four of them!) have gone from dark green or red to white to sage green, complete with lights.

Chimneys have been repaired, bats evicted from the attic, and the roof is being painted a bright, shiny silver.

Then there are all the hidden things, like re-wiring the entire house, installing a septic system (there wasn't one) and a water treatment system (to get rid of the iron and soften the water), and new plumbing everywhere, including pipes upstairs for an additional bath some day. So, when I'm discouraged, I look back. There really is a lot to feel good about.

Looking forward, though, can be a bit daunting. So far, we've worked on only the kitchen, pantry, dining room, bath, and laundry room, all downstairs. Even there, a lot remains to be done: more painting in the dining room, electrical odds and ends, touch-ups on a number of things, trim around the porch ceilings, and a mountain of cleaning to get rid of all the construction dirt. And all this has to be done before the fun part begins, which is furnishing and decorating. Some days I wonder if it will ever be finished.

But all things considered, we have come a long way. We're closer than ever before to being able to use the heart of the house. There's a door in the dining room that leads into the hall and the rest of the house that hasn't been yet been touched by renovation.

When, at last, we've finished the rooms we started, we're shutting that door and calling it a day. Although it would be mighty sweet to finish the whole house, we'll have to tackle the rest of it a room at a time, as money allows. But for now, to borrow Churchill's words, we have, perhaps, almost come to the end of the beginning.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

After the Rain

It rained last night. A lot. And when it rains a lot around here during the heat of summer, I like to head to the woods. That isn't hard to do, seeing that we live at the edge of acres and acres of wooded land, some privately owned and some not, a little of it ours and a lot of it not. I can walk out my door, to the end of our driveway, then up the road to the woods. It takes less than five minutes. When I step off the road and head into the woods I'm on a treasure hunt, camera in hand. Here's what I found this morning.

Mushrooms! In the spring, lots of folks around here hunt for morels, a real delicacy. I don't eat wild mushrooms. I'm not crazy enough about them to risk eating the wrong ones and getting deathly sick, but I love to hunt for any and all kinds with my camera. August seems to be a good month for mushrooms...when we get a lot of rain, that is. Sometimes I find them in clusters, like the ones above. Some are loners, like these:

Some are so tiny, but they're bold!

 And some blend in with the leaves so well that I almost miss them.

From past years, I know that this mushroom will change its shape as it grows.

Looks like this one had a little trouble clearing the way through the leaves and twigs.

This one kept its stem straight, but is still hanging on to some forest floor leftovers.

This is not a mushroom. It's some kind of lichen, I suppose, all lined up and arranged just so on top of  a rotting log.

Another rotting log was host to a whole flock of tiny brown mushrooms.

These bright beauties were hiding in the grass that grows in the middle of the access road.

This one, although it is beginning to fade, held a few drops of rainwater.

I nearly stepped on this unusual thing.

It looked like a giant white rose, with a hint of beige. Quite a find, I think!

And then there was this little fireball, growing right up out of the gravel near the entrance of the access road, not quite as big as the end of my thumb.

Alas, this one looks like it's crying.

Along the way, I discovered this little fella. I often see them after a rain. I'm not into creepy crawly things, but I don't mind handling these. They're not the least bit slimy, and their toes are so tiny and delicate. Since this guy posed so perfectly for me I left him alone to continue his journey.

I suppose I should attempt to identify all these pretty surprises, but that will have to wait for lazier days. Right now, I'm just glad to get a chance to head to the woods after a rain. I can't wait to see what sweet little jewels are waiting for me there.