In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A little bit more about our house

I cleaned up the breezeway so today was a good time to take a picture of it. This picture shows the entire building -- somebody's house or shed -- that was brought here from somewhere else on the island sometime in the early twentieth century and attached to the original house. For the Gouldens, who lived here from 1907 to 1951, and the DeMings, who lived here from 1951 to 1960, this part of the house was divided into two rooms: the wood shed and the cool room for keeping milk, cream and butter. There was a pass-through structure that connected the original house and the wood shed/dairy room.

The breezeway is new. We tore down the old connecting room, which wasn't hard. We pushed one wall and it fell over. We dug beneath the space and laid the plumbing there, and this section has a new concrete foundation. Greg tiled the floor. Those are new windows and a new door. There's a lot that goes on in this breezeway. It is our basic mud entrance, where we put on and take off our boots and jackets and gloves and hats. The upright freezer is in this room, and the washing machine. It is where we keep our jars of applesauce and chutneys and jellies and jams, what's left of them. For a while this fall it was Greg's hard cider making place. Sometimes we keep wood in here just to make sure we'll have some back-up dry wood if the weather looks iffy. And we have a retractable clothesline so we can dry clothes in here. It's also where we have dances.

Looking through the breezeway you can see a hallway with a door opening into the bathroom. Then you can see into the back room which is our guest room. Originally that back room was the wood shed, and the far window was a door. We keep the door to the back room closed in winter so the rest of the house can stay warmer. It's lovely in summer, though: the window opens onto the back orchard.

The bathroom was the very first indoor bathroom on McNutt's Island. Greg cut a hole in an old cabinet to make the sink, and he tiled the floor with tiles left over from an earlier renovation back in the US. There's also a bathtub and shower, which you can't see in this picture.

Elizabeth Hyde had the most ingenious shower rigged up in this part of the house. She drew water from the well, heated it on her wood stove, then poured the warm water into a bucket hung from a hook, and pulled a cord that opened the perforated bottom of the bucket. When you release the cord the water stops. Elizabeth brought this bucket back from her year in Africa, in 1960. The water drained through a wooden grid into a substratum of stones and then into the earth. An indoor shower in a house without running water or electricity. Pretty cool.

We still have the bucket and used it outside the first summer, before we got running water. It was heavenly to take a shower under the oak tree with hot water running all over you after you'd spent the day insulating the attic crawl space or mucking out the cellar. Of course it's pretty nice to take a hot shower indoors in February, too.

Skipper and Radar framed, insulated and gyp-rocked this part of the house, and Greg built the shelves and did all the trim work, the finishing and painting. For the framing, they cut the trees right here on the island and and milled all the lumber themselves. Skipper has a wood mill, which Greg deeply covets. Their 2"x4"s were truly 2"x4"s. They also roofed and shingled the breezeway exterior, and installed the breezeway windows and door. We loved having them both around for that first summer we were here. We learned so much from them and never laughed more.

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