This Old House Overwhelm

Have you ever watched “This Old House” and wondered, “How did they do that?” That’s the exact question I’m asking right now. Some days I feel like I’m suffocating in this house. The projects. The lack of help. The lack of money to do them all adequately. And the lack of stamina to manage everything.

As adventurous, as grand, as historic, as mysterious, as interesting, as beautiful, and as inspiring as White Plains may be, it is also proving to be one of the most intense and stressful of experiences.

For example, it’s been nine months since we started planning the basement kitchen renovation, a major overhaul that would also rework the house’s main plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems. Two months since everything was moved out from the space and readied for the rehab, we have still have not begun and there is no end in sight. We essentially have three months before cold weather sets in, a nearly impossible timeline considering that we haven’t even begun the work. If we don’t begin soon, we risk the long wait until Spring to continue because of the need for heat.

Cucumbers in the GardenI came home today with a deepening sense of dread – a feeling that seems to deepen every day. And so I began where I usually do, in the garden. A space of cultivation. Of growth. Of natural creativity. The Connecticut Field pumpkins are coming along nicely and the sweet potatoes are vining in every direction.

From there, I moved to check on the bees. Another natural marvel where order, community, and structure prevail. Each bee moving in sequence, part of a perfectly choreographed dance. They are doing well – all three hives. Each building new comb, raising brood, and getting ready for the impending winter.

And finally, I ended the night bush-hogging the field. The slow, steady rumbling of the tractor is rhythmic as it moves across the grass. The occasional bump of a small tree wakes you up from the zen-like movement up each row. It reminds you that you’re in control of the tractor – in control of which path to take. You’re driving the tractor – it isn’t driving you.

Perhaps it’s a reminder that this whole experience is one that we ride through, like driving the tractor through the field. Just drive. Enjoy the view. Feel the rumble. And take the small trees as bumps in the path that are gone in the blink of an eye.

Fields at White Plains

National & State Historic Registers

Front Door

We received excellent news this week from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources – White Plains has officially been recommended eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register! (For those process buffs out there, this means that our PIF, Preliminary Information Form, was approved.) The next step would be a full nomination application requiring a lot more research and digging (literally) into the archaeological and architectural elements of the property.

A big thanks to Dave Brown and Thane Harpole at the Fairfield Foundation for helping take this first step. And a huge thanks to our favorite architectural historian and colonial Virginia superstar, Camille Wells. (You might remember that Camille has done her fair share of digging around in both databases and under our attic stairs for answers to many questions!)

DHR Acceptance LetterAnd on top of this news, I finally completed Part I of our state tax credit application, which means, if all parts are approved, we would be eligible to receive tax credits on any of the approved rehabilitation costs. Every little bit helps when you are doing a historic renovation on anything less than John D. Rockefeller’s budget!

Learn more about the national and state historic registers here.