Yesterday was a meaningful midpoint milestone in my quest to post a Rosslyn update every day without fail for an entire year.
Six months, 26+ weeks, 184 days. One new installment every 24-hours without fail. Rhapsodizing Rosslyn, celebrating our team’s accomplishments, soapboxing historic rehab and adaptive reuse, showcasing seasonality snapshots and historic Essex memorabilia, weaving in some hyperlocal haiku and place-based poetry, illuminating the mercurial transition / transformation we’re currently navigating, and sharing boathouse and icehouse updates, intriguing artifacts, and wildlife observations.
Call it a 184-day streak. Or call it dogged determination. Either way I have 181 days to go until I reach my goal. And with each new post, each small victory, I am growing more and more confident that I will accomplish my mission of 365 posts, one complete year of daily updates beginning on August 1, 2022 and concluding on July 31, 2023.
So how to commemorate this midpoint milestone? With 6 months down and 6 months to go, it feels momentous enough to pause and praise my good fortune. But should this benchmark be acknowledged with a celebratory salute? A solemn ceremony? A toast, my first spirited sip after 31 days of teetotaling? (Yesterday marked the conclusion of my 7th or 8th, maybe even my 9th “dry January”.) Or perhaps a decadent dessert after a sugar free month? (For some sadomasochistic reason I’ve decided in recent years to add a sugar fast to alcohol abstention during the month of January, a timely recovery after the excesses of Thanksgiving-through-New Years…) A new month (ie. rabbit-rabbit) ritual transcending the delicious dinner I shared with Jim and Mark two nights ago at Juniper?
Slow Cooked Whole Rabbit: cumin, blood orange and smoked paprika glazed, corn tortillas, chimichurri, salsa fresca, refried beans (Source: Juniper at Hotel Vermont)
Maybe a romantic romp with my bride who suggested, upon retrieving me from the airport yesterday, that we celebrate a belated anniversary to compensate for the one we missed this past autumn when she was unwell. 17 years of marriage and 21 years together. I’m incredulous even as I type these numbers. Neither seems remotely possible. But my 50th birthday seemed similarly inaccurate this past spring, and I’m obliged to accept it.
Or how about we honor the 200th anniversary of Rosslyn’s front façade, ostensibly completed in 1823? (Apparently 3/5 of the building — the two window portion to the north of the entrance, as well as the entrance itself — was completed in 1820. The remaining 2/5, including the two windows to the south of the entrance and comprising the dining room downstairs, a guest bedroom and Susan’s study on the second floor, and another guest bedroom on the third floor, was most likely finished three years later in 1823, fulfilling the the architectural promise of this classic Federal home with Georgian and Greek Revival elements.
An auspicious confluence of milestones and anniversaries. I’m choosing to interpret this is a good omen even as I nevertheless acknowledge that I’ve meandered from my original mark, hoisting the flag at my halfway point, mid-journey in my post-a-day quest. I recall an earlier waypoint in this quest, an update I published on October 10, 2022 when I was still just shy of halfway to where I am today.
Yesterday marked ten weeks of old house journaling. Every. Single. Day. Two months and ten days back at the helm of this wayward, meandering, sometimes unruly experiment I call Rosslyn Redux. I emphasize the daily component of this benchmark because it’s been an important part of the goal I committed to at the end of July. (Source: Old House Journaling)
Then as now my emphasis on everyday journaling remains a top priority.
Over the last few years, Susan and I have scrutinized our hopes and expectations with Rosslyn. We have reevaluated our plans as they originally were in 2006 when we embarked on this adventure and as those plans evolved during the decade and a half since. It’s been an extended period of introspection, evaluating our current wants and needs, endeavoring to align our future expectations and goals with respect to one another and with respect to Rosslyn, and challenging one another to brainstorm beyond the present.
There’s no question but that our impromptu quarantine at Rosslyn during the spring and summer of 2021 catalyzed some of this soul-searching. But so too have the many life changes in recent years. Our gradual shift toward Santa Fe as our base and Essex as our getaway rather than the other way around. The loss of Susan’s mother. My parents’ retirement near us in Santa Fe. Our nephews and nieces growing up and expanding their orbits far beyond Rosslyn. A perennially postponed but driving desire to collaborate on a smaller, efficient, creative lakeside home of a different DNA altogether, an unrepressable will to imagine into existence the sort of slow cooked (albeit shapeshifting) and highly experimental homestead we originally envisioned in 2003-5 when we first began to explore our Adirondack Coast homecoming. And there is that hiccup in our 2006 original timeline, our 2-4 year vision for homing at Rosslyn until we’d managed to reboot and reground, until we were ready for our next adventure. Those naive expectations were eclipsed — willingly and joyfully — within the first year or two.
So what does this have to do with my daily Rosslyn updates?
In committing to this daily practice last summer I was acknowledging that I had some serious work to do. In order for us to constructively sort through out collective vision for the future, to determine whether we’re too fond of Rosslyn to proceed with plans for designing and building the lakeside retreat we’ve conjured over the years, to honestly assess our willingness and our readiness to hand this sanctuary over to another family, both Susan and I are undertaking the sort of “deep work” that will hopefully enable us to make some decisions. I’m talking about 100% honest, prolonged consideration. Rosslyn has quite literally been a part of our family, and not just our nuclear family. Can we untangle her? Are we willing to let her go? Can we joyfully pass the privilege on to new custodians? Or are we not yet ready?
For me this daily practice, digging deep into sixteen and a half years of living and loving Rosslyn, is my time and place to work through these questions. To sort it all out. To find peace and confidence in my convictions. And six months in, I believe that I’m on the right path. Not all the time. There have certainly been some tangles and tangents that got away from me before I realized what was happening and reined them in. But the constant conversation — *internal* as I study, reflect, and compose these installments as well as *external* as I share these updates and then interact with many of you — is reinvigorating and reawakening Rosslyn from her comfortable slumber (and me from mine!)
So this midpoint milestone is a profoundly significant benchmark for me personally. It’s the tangible representation of my germinating confidence and clarity. It’s the measurable mean between a conflicted outlook and the conviction I’m hoping to discover over the next six months. In a real sense, it’s a halfway point toward the sort of rehabilitation that we’ve been undertaking with Rosslyn’s buildings and grounds since 2006, only in this case the journey is profoundly personal. Instead of historic architectural rehabilitation, it is restoration of my innermost wonder, my romantic dreams, and my idealistic hopes. With passion reawakened and a map forward becoming more apparent each day, I’m tempted to see this benchmark as the sort of celebration enjoyed upon finally reaching a base camp, a lofty peak viewable in the distance foreshadows the ambitious ascent ahead but also offers a majestic affirmation of the reachability and proximity of the summit. Today marks just such a halfway point, an opportunity to appreciate the accomplishments so far, and an incentive to forge ahead.
Thank you for meeting me in the middle!