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Back in action

I know it's been a while since I updated, but frankly very little has actually happened.   Apart from the end of year summary, we've done nothing but sit by the pond and marvel at our property, which is beautiful in every season.

The front of the house

The back of the house

The view from the porch

Across the lake in the snow

The view from our field, looking to the house

Daniel bought the most beautiful fire pit...simple, modern, elegant.  We spent the whole weekend last weekend sat around it in the snow.  I can't wait until the pond is good for skating...It's going to be the best place to warm aching feet after a day of ice skating.  

Construction update
There were a number of delays getting prices and getting started.  The major problem was that Eight Point Construction became busy and told us they could not start until May/June 2011.  This put us in rather a difficult position.  We had to go back to the drawing board and bid out the work to other contractors.   Which we did November.  It took a couple of months for the new guys to get the costs together and by the time that was done, we had the holidays.

Challenges we faced:
Re-building the fireplaces is not going to be easy...or cheap.  We have to remove the kitchen fire place but we want to keep the chimney at that end of the house (purely for aesthetic reasons).  It will also hide the flu for the Aga.

The chimney in the middle of the house is also falling down and most of the masons want to remove the fantastic hearth foundation in the basement to fix this.  We are finding a way not to do this.  In fact I think we would rather give up on the fireplace in the dining room, rather than remove this rare structure....(Historian John Stevens starts this video talking about this foundation.. John Stevens visits ).

To keep the knee wall exposed we would need to remove a lot of the old mud and straw and "fake it".  Since this knee wall is also 'heat suck' we have decided we will simply protect the knee wall as it is with Tyvek or something and then insulate that wall.  The original knee wall will be safe and unspoiled for generations to come.

Before we insulate the roof we are going to wrap all of the beams and original woodwork with protection so that the insulation does not damage the historic, hand hewn beams.

Windows...Cheapest way to fix the windows would be to rip out the historic ones and put in new.  Again, not an option for us.  We will have teams of people stripping and restoring each historic window, cleaning them up and fitting them all back in place.

The geothermal heat pumps are something of a mystery.  Everyone has a different point of view on how we should do them and none of the experts agree.   I think we now have a real plan.  We are going to use the existing well for the pumps.  There is enough water there for both our water needs and the needs of the geothermal system.  To get to this decision we had to meet with several well diggers and chat to neighbors about their water supply.  Fundamentally there's a lot of water in Springtown because of the high water table.  Most neighbors have dug wells because if you go too deep you get clay or you have to go below bed rock which is sulphurous.   Our neighbor Bob Benjamin has lived on the street 75 years and was a great source of information.

So, we have some of the bids in and we are now at the "value engineering" phase.  Most of the cost comes from wanting to keep the historic aspects of the house.   Preserving history is not a cheap endeavor.   Future generations of Americans will owe us a lot...but it's worth it.   Next we start the sourcing of delft tile, 100 year old heart pine flooring and hand hewn blue stone slabs...


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Paradox farm

If you wander along Springtown Road, past DeJoux House, you will see our mailbox opposite the front door.  It's not especially distinguishable except it is rather large and sits on an old tree stump.  It's a rusty old thing but it seems to have survived the snow plows and drunk drivers of Springtown Road. It has always bothered me that on the side of the mail box you can see the vague outline of the words "Paradox Farm" which was clearly a name that DeJoux House was more recently referred to.  Occasionally when wondering the fields I would stumble across some incongruity and wonder if that was indeed the "paradox" that the farm was named after. Yesterday morning, for some unknown reason, I decided it was time to resolve the paradox.  I sent a quick email to the previous owner June Finer to see if she knew anything of the Paradox Farm ghost on the side of the mailbox. This was her reply: once upon a time we, (myself and russell gilmore---my ex), met a

Inspiration for the future look

Daniel has found some wonderful reference materials for keeping the history and character yet not making it a museum. I love the big kitchen table plan for the kitchen inspired by Lutyens and some "behind the scenes" pictures of victorian kitchens. He also showed me some country houses from Axel Vervoordt that I really love. Simple, authentic yet modern. We discussed putting a full length plate glass window in the old hay loft window on the end of the house. Wow. I can't wait.

Maria Deyo - a chilling tale

We arrived at the house this weekend to meet with the contractors who had poured concrete in the basement on Friday. When we arrived we found a family standing in front of the house taking pictures. Being the friendly types we are, we went over to chat. They told us they were on a haunted house tour and were looking at the house because their daughter had been talking about the ghost at our house for the last couple of days. She had bought a book called "Spooky Hudson Valley" and in it was the story of Maria Deyo and a tragic tale of a mother killing all three children and then killing herself. The family were wonderful and excited to be shown the house. They showed us the book and at the beginning of the story was a picture of our house. The book went on to say that Maria sent the men to the fields and then she slit her daughter's throat and the throat of her other two children...then killed herself. All this happened on September 13 th 1801. There was