The middle of November 1997
The sale closing of the inn was scheduled for 11:00 on Friday, November 14 (the full moon). We had to be off the premises by noon. I worked until 1:30 AM before collapsing from exhaustion and sleeping in the new house that morning. Took the cats in that last load at 1:00 AM. I got up at six, the snow already a few inches deep and unplowed, and went back to the coop to finish what I could. Because of the snow I couldn't use the truck so everything had to go into the car. It took only two trips but the roads were very bad and I didn't have on my snow tires. I pulled away at noon, leaving the coop in a shambles. My brother had rented a 25 foot truck and he and a couple friends had been working all night loading it. It was still parked there when I left.
The previous Tuesday and Wednesday, Tom and David had come over to move almost everything and pile it up in a mountain in this 24'x16' cabin. There was hardly room to move. Total chaos. Friday night: The phone was not installed as scheduled. The electric heater I was using to boost the heat a little in a partially uninsulated house, burned out. Saturday: The phone was not installed... all sorts of excuses but between the blizzard and the opening of deer season, what hope could I have? At 2:30 AM the propane heater ran out of fuel. They had installed too small a tank and it had been in for a month without a refill. No phone to call for emergency fuel service. The snow was still falling. Sunday morning I called from a friends house and they had someone out there by mid afternoon. Meanwhile, the phone company tells me they can't get anyone up here until Tuesday. They are probably all at deer camp, getting snookered.
Yesterday, I moved many boxes over to my mother's basement. Her apartment is also unfinished and undergoing renovation. As of this moment, Monday night, I have made order and can function but there is no water incoming or outgoing, no insulation or wiring in part of one wall and 2/3 of the floor, no counters, no stove.
I have the birds fairly well winterized but the bees are in a very bad place next to the stream because we couldn't carry them over the 2" x 6" board bridging the stream. The hive weighs upwards of two hundred pounds and very unwieldy. When Tom and I tried to negotiate the "bridge", we started to lose it, the hive came apart a bit and the bees began spilling out, but because of the temperature, they were lethargic and fell to the ground. The hive inside was roaring. The three of us, all on an adrenaline rush, got the hive together and on the ground but right on the bank. I'll have to get it away from there or the spring thaw may hit it. I have no idea what that brook can do. I need to wrap the hive in tar paper and pack it with hay.
The perimeter of the house will need to be packed with hay as well to insulate the floor. There is no trim around the front door so there is no storm door either. During the day, you can see the light through the cracks. The back door is just a rough opening, not insulated yet as there is a big shelving unit in front of it. There is only one of four windows installed and it is not trimmed in or out. The other three have a rough opening, covered with plastic and filled with batts of insulation awaiting the windows that have been on order and may be in tomorrow. My tub sits outside awaiting a floor to sit on. Billy may have all the tiles installed tomorrow but it will still be several days before we can consider bringing in the tub (cast iron, clawfoot). Most of the plumbing is installed but the outlet pipe had to be replaced and a ditch dug. Now it is under a foot of snow. The hot water heater was a house warming gift from Tom and it is in place but not hooked up or vented. There is no toilet yet. I've run out of money.
But I'm OK!! And the cats seem happy. Sushi stays out most of the day. Nemo initially preferred out, now seems to prefer in. They have a litter box and I won't let them out at night for a while. Poor Luke has to be on a run as there is no fenced back yard yet and the dog door is incomplete. There is so much to do and I can't sleep thinking about it so I take xanax and it gets me by. I shower and get water here and there, shlep my dirty dishes around, pick my mail up in town because I haven't installed my box yet. I do have heat. It's not toasty but it's tolerable. Progress comes slowly. There is a healthy assortment of building materials up over my head on the collar beams.
My situation will improve steadily but now I have to get back to work so I have the money to pay Billy because I want the work done right, not like it would be if I did it. I ran into my brother today. His situation is pretty grim as well. Freedom comes with a price. But, rough as it is, it's mine, and it's beautiful here, perfect for me. Already, I'm thinking about how I can have parties... outside parties... in the summer!! Mmmmm, summer. I can hardly wait....
When the plumbers came last week to attach the outlet pipe to the old septic tank they discoved it had collapsed and was filled with dirt! A week later, I got Tiger to dig and we put in a 30 gallon plastic barrel which I had drilled full of 3/4" holes. That's my graywater system for this winter. We covered it up quickly! The phone is in (they waived the installation charges). The mailbox is up and the most beautiful one in the row, all cedar. The composting toilet is activated and humming away. The windows are in, the views are heaven, the hay is around the house, the storm door is on, the bathroom floor is gorgeous, the stereo is hooked up and it feels like home. I'm home. No water yet, tub still outside... but soon, soon...
120 West Road
Sandgate VT 05250
Whenever I think I can't do something, I remember the great pyramids. So it was with that thought in mind I set to moving the bees. I levered the hive up enough to slide in a 1/2" piece of plywood which is about 3" wider and a foot longer than the hive itself. Then I levered that onto 2 parallel 8 foot 2x4 skids and inch by inch pushed and pulled it back about 8 feet so far. I figure by the end of the winter I'll have them in their final resting place on THIS side of the stream. They got pretty riled up... but the cold outside air makes them forget about stinging. I wrapped the whole hive in tar paper so they're about as secure as any hive could be. Even if they stayed where they are, it's safe enough for this winter.
Every day I try to do something for the house. I just finished staining the top trim board for the outside front window which I hope to put up tomorrow. I cut and stained some boards for interior shelving. Soon I'll have to begin building the kitchen counters. I have lots of books on construction of all types so I read them for inspiration and direction. I hope the inspiration strikes me soon.
~ The first summer in my own home ~
August 5: A couple days ago I got someone to finish hooking up the wiring to the service box. I have outlets everywhere now except behind my computer desk and that will happen soon. The septic went in last month... no hook up, no water, but I'm on the plumbers list. I've started building the kitchen counters... just the bottom framing. I planted grass where they dug up the yard and it's mostly up but I need to plant more.