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  • Jenny

Foundation rocked.

When we started the kitchen renovation we knew that it was going to be a big project. We were pushing back a wall and relocating the laundry room to an upstairs storage room. We were switching from oil to gas heat. We were removing the linoleum floors and formica countertops. We were keeping the cabinets and the wood stove - but both were getting major overhauls. We were getting all new appliances and building out a chef’s kitchen. The hearth of the home. A place to host friends old and new. A place to experiment with new vegan baking ideas ( I really cannot wait to perfect a vegan croissant. My most missed buttery food). A place to feed the groups coming for retreats. Including a big island with a range and seating for 6-8. No small task. But just as we finalizing tile decisions and picking out new wood floors, our contractor broke the news that there was no insulation in the floors. We knew this was the case in the living room - last winter when we were painting, the drop cloths were blowing up into the room. Air was coming up through floor cracks from the basement. Ok - no insulation in the kitchen or the dining room either. And no basement beneath those rooms. No crawl space even. No wonder the house was always drafty and no wonder the pellet stove wasn’t really getting to temperature. The only option was to tear up the floors and hope that the foundation was solid and there were no additional surprises hidden beneath the half-assed sub flooring.

So just before Christmas we tore up the floors. How exciting to see beneath the home - what were we standing on, what were those before us standing on? When was the last time someone had a peak beneath here? Was it during the fire in the mid-90s? Was it even before that as we had heard only the floors remained after the fire… What we found was a solid foundation clearly made from the wood from trees. Yes I know all wood comes from trees, but here you could see these were big old trunks carved into beams and some even had the bark still on them! How fascinating. And just beneath the wood beams (or floor joists I believe is the technical term) was dirt and rock and stone. That’s it. No cement foundation. No mortar holding the stones together. Just stones supporting the wood. All these years, all those footsteps, all those dinners, all those sits by the fire, all those tromps up and down the stairs, all those laughs and all those cries, all the joy and all the pain held with those walls - all held up with trees and rocks. For over one hundred years!

It was very exciting and very enlightening. But having the floors torn up meant we could not access the kitchen or the dining room. The floors were open to the wild. Maybe a mouse or two or more passed through - and maybe they still are? Perhaps a squirrel or chipmunk moved in for a bit and stored some helicopter maple seeds behind a cushion on the couch or in my snow boots - while we were both away for Christmas/Hanukkah week. Who knows who else crawled their way through??

The temporary kitchen (and all the kitchen boxes and all the dining room boxes) is in the living room. Except the refrigerator - which is on the other side of the house. You need to walk up the living room stairs, cross the hallways between all the bedrooms and down the kitchen stairs to the fridge. And then back up and down again to the living room. Which I recently realized is like walking up two flights of stairs to schlep the brussel sprouts, kale and hot sauce to the living room. And don’t forget the lemon or there’s another round trip. We tried to cook here and there for ourselves but the main challenge is doing dishes in the half bath off the living room. And that’s just a small bathroom sink so there are limits to what can be washed in there. We definitely aren’t using that room as a bathroom while it is also the kitchen sink but I still find it pretty nasty that food stuffs is in a bathroom. Blechhhh.

And it continues. Our contractor estimated we would have a kitchen by the end of January but a week after that discussion, the plan is already behind schedule so we shall see. I’m trying to remain optimistic but to be honest this has been really hard on both of us. At first it was novel and fun and new. And I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW that this is a choice and I’m so lucky to be able to do this renovation. I am truly grateful for the means to build my dream kitchen. And dining room. In my dream home. And we are not the first people to go through this. But it has been draining. And I have been trying to figure out exactly why it’s so challenging.

I learned about the chakra system years ago when I was in yoga teacher training and have studied it and lived it since. I won’t give a whole lesson here, but I will say that the root chakra is the first chakra. In Sanskrit it is called Muladhara. The root is your foundation, your stability, your safety and sense of security. It represents your basic needs being met - food, shelter, sleep. Grounding and earth. Which makes sense given it’s the root. It is located from the base of the spine down to the bottoms of your feet. If you are doing any work with your chakras, you start with the root. If your root is out of balance, it is that much more difficult to balance any of the other chakras. It’s hard to build anything when your foundation is off. And while of course our basic needs are still being met, there is a crack or an imbalance right now. Everything else feels a little bit on hold. As we navigate through boxes and chairs where there shouldn’t be chairs, we have tried to carve out our little spaces of peace. Ariel’s is in his music studio - but only in the evenings since it’s directly above the kitchen and a bit noisy during the day. Mine is in the bed or at a local cafe with good wi-fi. Otherwise, you’ll find us painting shelves in the new laundry room or at the stoneyard trying to justify marble countertops :))

See you on the other side

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