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. Starting on August first I would resuscitate Rosslyn Redux. The why part of this equation is important, but I intend to tackle that separately. For now I’ll touch on the how and then take a blurry backward glance at my June 3, 2018 post, “Rosslyn Featured in Old House Journal“, and concurrently touch on the 2015 Old House Journal article about Rosslyn entitled,”Beguiled into Stewardship“, which inspired my post. Confused much? Me too!
So, sidestepping, for now, the question of why resuscitate Rosslyn Redux let’s focus on how to resuscitate Rosslyn Redux. First and foremost I’m looong overdue for completing and publishing a backlog of neglected drafts:
- New updates of recent projects (hemlock hedge bordering north side of front lawn, rebuilding the deck, repairing the boathouse gangway and waterfront staircase, and transforming the icehouse into a studio / office / entertaining space)
- Long overdue recaps of old projects (home rehab, boathouse rehab, carriage house rehab, post-flood waterfront rehab, holistic gardening and orcharding, trail building through fields and forests, protecting and restoring habitat for our wild neighbors — aka rewilding — to ensure an healthy, happy ecosystem for all, and expanding our guest capacity to include two Lake Champlain vacation rentals)
Revisiting all of these “orphaned” WIPs — come on, if I can’t toss in wonky, writerly jargon here then I might start using it IRL and freaking people out! — isn’t just because I’ve wanted to share this story forever, variously started to share this story forever, and want forever to figure out if it’s even possible to gather and trim-trim-trim all of this unruly mess into a story with an ending. Yes, an actual conclusion. Happily ever after…
This last urge is actually the most important. Sorry I buried the lede. On purpose. You see, it’s part of the why I mentioned earlier. And that, fair reader, is why I’m getting a little cagey. So for now I’ll focus on the two main how-to-resuscitate avenues I’ve outlined above.
Old House Journal-ing
A little over seven years ago, Old House Journal published an article about Rosslyn entitled,”Beguiled into Stewardship“, written by Regina Cole with photographs taken by Carolyn Bates. You can read the full article online. Although the print edition (in the June 2015 issue) does have some differences from the article that appears online the bulk of the main text is the same.
In my 2018 response to the article I tried to gently correct the record on several points made by the author, so I’ll won’t retread those board now, but I’d like to weave in a couple of elements. The first is the illustrations for this post. They are all taken directly from the Old House Journal as photographed by Carolyn Bates. At the time of the article, these photographs represented the years-long but finally complete (insofar as any property redo is ever truly, definitely complete, hence my preference for the term “rolling renovation” when talking about our projects) status of Rosslyn. At that point it would have been virtually impossible for us to conceive of any further changes. And yet, seven years later I’m tempted to add “circa 2015” to the captions beneath each image. Proof positive that entropy is forever contending for the upper hand, and our homes are for all practical purposes living, breathing entities that continue to evolve even once renovations are complete.
So, in a subtly nostalgic way these photographs already feel a bit like time capsules.
And on a related note, the tone of the article sounds so confident, so accomplished, so finished. A wordy sigh of relief to have crossed the finish line.
“…at one point, 100 people were involved with restoring the house. The bulk of the project took three and a half years.” (Source: “Beguiled into Stewardship“)
I suspect we’ve long ago passed the threshold of one hundred generous contributors to this project. Hopefully we can still tabulate and update the figure one of these days. But that second sentence. Ha! Little did we know that we’d be rehabilitating ad infinitum! In the mean time, it’s become immensely important for me to credit everyone currently working on Rosslyn. On of the most profound discoveries over our seventeen years is that Rosslyn is first and foremost a vast ecosystem of stories, lives that have been woven together because of this property. Honoring this legacy and preserving it is an ambition I’ll unlikely succeed in achieving, but I’m trying to ensure that those people who I still can showcase, still can document recipe their rightful place in her story.
And there’s something more. Old house journaling. Sure, I’ve effectively pinched and adapted the term from the magazine, so I humbly submit this post as a derivative inspired by the original, not an imposter, not a sanctioned partner, just poetic language borrowing. For the longest time I used the term “daily munge” to describe the daybook entries I was scribbling, typing, and dictating during the busiest years (2006 through 2009) of demolition, design, rebuilding, landscaping, etc. I’ve riffed on the idea elsewhere, so I’ll crib my own words.
Daily Munge is a term I made up long enough ago that it’s no longer make-believe. It’s real.
Think of Daily Munge as a storyteller’s compost pile. Or a writer’s scrapbook. Or a voyeur’s over-the-shoulder glimpse at what’s on my mind…
Long before journals became weblogs became blogs, writers and storytellers kept fuzzy cornered, coffee stained notebooks and clutches of notes wrapped in string. Word people (my kind of word people, at least) are chronic collectors. We cling to our clutter because we are paranoid. Or maybe because we’re hoarders. We’ve learned that our best ideas may be yesterday’s mistakes. Notes become novels. Slapdash clouds of words becomes monumental poems. Not often, of course, but once is all it takes to convince us that we’d best hoard our verbal midden heaps. Just in case. My Daily Munge is my squalid midden heap. My compost pile. My scrapbook. And in some slightly esoteric way it is what made Rosslyn’s endless rehabilitation survivable, what kept me intrigued, note taking, documenting. After all, isn’t it possible that Odysseus’s almost endless homecoming might have had more to do with collecting and curating chronicles than obstacles? Possibly. (Source: Daily Munge Archives – Rosslyn Redux
I’ve explained this concept too many times to still think it’s a clever description. Nobody has a clue what I mean. And I can no longer locate the magazine article where I believe I borrowed the term “munge” as I use it. And in a recent effort to clarify, at least in the context or Rosslyn Redux, I stumbled upon “old house journaling” as a way to convert what I’m doing here. So maybe my newest push is also an effort to grow something from the munge-y old house journaling and scrapbooking and artifact hoarding and…