Monday, August 29, 2016

Ready for Joie's birthday celebration!
Sweetie searching for a spot of soft grass amidst the straw.
August 29, 2016: In honor of the start of a new academic year, this is our report on "What We Did Last Summer." It's a little long but we put something very cool at the end.

 At Chateau de Joie, the summer of 2016 shall be known as the one with a severe drought and heat so hellish, we barely managed to do the absolute minimum work outdoors. And that's coming from gals who spent the last 3+ decades living in tropical South Florida and desert-like South Texas! We have been told these conditions have occurred before...around 1977, so here's hoping it doesn't happen again for another 40 years or so.

BUT, there was always plenty of wine and delicious food.

 On the other hand, there have been some incredible sunrises!

The only noticeable outside accomplishments were-- (1) the relocation of two (almost) quarter-ton Goshen stones from a random site on one side of the back yard to the entrance of the labyrinth on the other and (2) the removal of the last of the 4x4 post stumps from the old playground equipment.

Huge thanks to housemate Sarah for adding her strength & perseverance to ours!
Wonder Woman had to do the final pull.

At any rate, the last four months kept us busy and flew by without our doing much that was relevant to a rural renovation blog. So, this is really just a post to bring everyone up to date.

MAY – Joie spent every spare minute of the previous school year preparing for her comprehensive exams and (sound the trumpets please) she successfully passed! She is now considered "ABD" (all but dissertation standing between her and the PhD), as are former housemate Sarah (who moved to Boston after her comps) and colleague/renovation dynamo Adeline.

Housemate Chelsea graduated with a Masters degree and moved to New York to start her new job in publishing. New, Ab-Fab graduate students, Katherine, Chloe and Chuck moved into the downstairs apartment and are enjoying the pool enough to make us really happy we got that area renovated last summer.
Unfortunately, we also had a crowd of honeybees trying to move in, which is a very bad thing because Joie is lethally allergic. Marilyn got stung trying to protect her. But because they are endangered, a beekeeper had to be called in. Not one of the summer fun times.

JUNE, JULY & AUGUST – We thoroughly enjoyed the company of family guests, friend guests, overseas guests, former housemate guests, etcetera, etcetera. We were having such a good time, we didn't always get pictures of all the visitors!
First came Joie's super-cool dad, John, and super-talented brother, Jake, from South Florida via Rhinebeck, NY, then came super-fun Lisa and Emily, friends of Joie's from Texas State. Lisa, Joie & Marilyn all celebrated their birthdays in July. And yes, there was a lot of wine involved.

Our next guest was the very lovely Neroli, a former UMass graduate student who came all the way from South Africa.Her visit prompted a visit from good friend Matt, who got his Master's last spring from UMass but is currently working on his PhD at Northwestern. We regret to say, despite the large gathering in their honor, we don't have a single picture of it. However, right after Neroli took a walk in the labyrinth, we were treated to a brilliant double rainbow.

After not seeing each other for a decade, Marilyn's spectacular "kid" brother David came for a long overdue visit. Joie was just a child when Uncle David last saw her. Both being world travelers, they never had to search for something to talk about!

In between day trips and dinner parties and movie nights, Joie read, researched, prepared for her fall teaching assignment, worked on her prospectus (due in September) and read and researched some more (including time at Harvard). Marilyn is pleased to say she also managed to make significant progress on revising and updating her previously-published time-travel romances to get them ready for new e-book releases.

We can't make any promises but we're hoping to get back to doing some reno work, taking more photos and sharing as we go…

Jake made a lifelong friend.

But for now, here's the "something cool" mentioned at the beginning of this post. The summer began with Joie joining her dad and brother at Buttonwood in Rhinebeck, where they got to do a little riding, make a lot of equine friends, and witness the birth of a brand new colt.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 28, 2016: As expected, the rhododendrons were next to bloom, but they are a month early and the snow a few weeks ago obviously reduced their display but they're still a joy to see!

Not sure what will burst forth next...maybe the lilies, or the crab apple tree, or the tulips, or the lilac any event, there's plenty more coming up.

Though the repair and reno list is lengthy, everything must remain on hold until Joie gets past her comps...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 19, 2016: They made it!
The freeze and heavy snowfall after these little ladies had already started to show off had us very worried that this spring would be colorless, but Mother Nature delivered another surprise. Rhododendrons appear to be up next.

(No renovation news to share yet...just wanted to push the last wintry photo down from the top spot!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

4" & growing by lunchtime!
April 4, 2016: To everyone's - even area veterans' - complete surprise, 5+ inches of snow accumulated between dawn and dusk! Seriously, are Mother Nature and Old Man Winter having a battle for supremacy or what?! Needless to say the baby birds and flower buds were in shock as well.

The weather authorities called it Snow Storm Ursula and, similar to the villainess in "Little Mermaid", it packed a wallop! We had no choice but to shovel & salt paths & stairways for tenants and dogs in the early morning and again in the late afternoon. Our plowing service had already pulled up all the border-marking stakes so we also had to shovel a 1/4 mile of driveway edges to show them where it was when they came by at the end of the storm.

There were two things to be very relieved about tho - all the electrical work that was done when we first moved in kept the power flowing without a flicker and the new furnace kept everyone toasty warm despite the freezing wind gusts.

So, what do you think the gals from Florida did when the blizzard stopped and all the shoveling was done? Well, we got out the boogie boards and hit the back yard slopes with Sarah & Chelsea! At one point Marilyn even caught some air...right before getting a face full of snow. Getting wet, cold and breathless from the return climbs was totally worth the half hour of squealing and giggling. Unfortunately, Jake wasn't here to film the fun but here's the evidence of great sledding!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016:  Just a note for future reference. Mother Nature is still toying with us...dumped an inch of snow during the night.

During the day yesterday, the temp hit 74, Joie took a break from her comps reading to scoop up a few pounds of leaves off the swimming pool cover and Marilyn announced she would be washing windows next week. Perhaps it should be interpreted as a nice little excuse for putting chores off a bit longer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sweetie's thrilled to have one more snow day!
March 21, 2016: Muwha-ha-ha, sounded Mother Nature this morning...which, according to the calendar, just happened to be the 2nd day of Spring.

Despite all the clear signs that Spring had arrived early, we awoke to SNOW!!!

Hoping the daffodils hang in there...

3 adults & 2 new babies (the fox was off to the right)

Okay, to be honest, it was just a light coating of fluffy powder that turned the world outside our picture window into a winter wonderland and it completely disappeared by noon and by 4 pm it was 53 degrees. But following our last overly-confident post, it sure did seem like Ma Nature was reminding us that anything can happen in March in New England. We promptly acknowledged her ultimate power and in return, a chorus line of baby bluejays danced on the window ledge while a light brown fox, the whole deer family, one of the red-tailed hawks and an Eastern bluebird simultaneously put on a show for us in the field. It was definitely worth every snowflake!

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 15, 2016: Now that we have hit the Ides of March, we are finally starting to believe we truly lucked out with a wonderfully mild winter. Perhaps the most synchronistic event was Marilyn looking out the window just when the woodchuck/groundhog climbed out of a hole beneath the willow tree, stretched and sat up to get a look around. He seemed satisfied with the temperature so we took that as the definitive confirmation that Spring has sprung a week earlier than the official date!
In the last post, we showed the daffodil shoots already breaking through the surface. Today we have the crocuses in bloom! When they bloomed last year--around April 30th according to that blog post--we were told they are the true sign of the beginning of spring. Others told us the real sign is when the peepers awaken and, boy-oh-boy, every evening our property is  one cacophony of PEEPING!!! And the red maple is starting to sport its little red buds. And the deer family have returned to romp across the back field (obviously smarter than all the hunters). And the robins--oh my heavens--the chubby robins are EVERYWHERE!