Friday, June 25, 2021


There's good news: The Adam Vaughan is finished. At least, it's as finished as it's going to get this year. The moss-covered roof will hold till next summer, I hope, and while the windows aren't perfect, they're holding their own. The rest of it? Beautiful. I was down there today, and it's so calming and soothing being inside, it's tempting to while away an entire day there, doing nothing. I moved in a rattan chaise longue last night, and there's a stool to sit on. Next up: a table. I'm thinking of making a collapsible table from a couple of sawhorses and a beautiful piece of good-both-sides half-inch plywood. But I'm mindful of the fact that finishing The Adam Vaughan has taken so much time away from other work on the land that if I don't get moving on other projects I'll regret it once winter comes. So I headed for the island with a couple of chainsaws and started the process of clearing the perimeter of dead wood. I'm very lucky that the water level is so low this summer. It means I can pull fallen tree branches up onto the island from the ponds and saw them up. Last year they'd have been submerged in water. I took down two trees this morning, sawed them up, and as soon as I headed back to the house to recharge the chain saw batteries it started to rain. Around here, rain means I should be cleaning the house. But five hours later it's still raining and I haven't started cleaning. In fact, I'm writing this blog post to distract myself from the necessity of cleaning. A couple of hours ago, I ordered groceries online to distract myself from cleaning. An hour ago I moved all the furniture so I could start vacuuming. But I haven't vacuumed a thing. I'm writing to you, instead. I suppose you want to see the evidence. Sadly, you won't get to see the sweet little painting I made on a scrap of plywood, as a cupboard door for the electrical panel in The Adam Vaughan, because these photos were taken before I even got the idea to paint anything. It looks like the flag of Switzerland, except it's blue and white. Trust me: it fits right in. It's the flag of Five Acres.

Saturday, June 19, 2021


It's been a busy couple of months, and I have the hands to prove it. They look like a couple of baseball gloves that someone left out in the rain: stiff, weatherbeaten and a size Extra Large. On April 19th, this was the status of the exterior of Bleak House:
By June 6th, it looked like this:
As you can maybe see, it has a name plate. It's now renamed The Adam Vaughan. Adam is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Spadina Fort York, and he holds the housing portfolio for the federal government. I first met Adam outside my house on Portland Street many years ago, when he was a candidate for Toronto City Council. I'd already made up my mind who I'd be voting for, but after chatting with Adam for a few minutes, I agreed to give him a chance. That was probably 15 years ago, and he won't remember that, but he soon switched to federal politics and he's worked hard on the housing file. I'm not about to offer you a précis of his career accomplishments, but one day on Twitter I was debating whether to tear down Bleak House or to rebuild it. Adam weighed in and said that if I tore it down, I'd be squandering all the time, effort and resources that had gone into building it in the first place, and it wasn't environmentally responsible to consign all those materials to a waste facility. Words to that effect, at any rate. This really resonated with me. His opinion convinced me to rebuild it, and that's why it now bears a name plate with his name. It's also the 50th anniversary of the successful campaign to Stop The Spadina Expressway, something his late father, Colin Vaughan, was passionately involved in. The Spadina Expressway, if allowed to proceed, would have split Toronto in two on a north to south axis by means of a highway going downtown, and demolished hundreds of houses in many neighbourhoods in the process. Toronto was very fortunate that then-Premier Bill Davis put a stop to the proposed Spadina Expressway. Now, you're probably desperate to see the interior photos, and I can say beyond any doubt that the work on the interior took 20 times as much work to complete as the exterior. I still have a few touches to put on, but already it's become a serene, rustic place for me to retreat to on an almost-daily basis. I still have work to do: it will need a new roof, and I have to restore three windows and replace the fourth, but I think I may leave those projects for next year. So check back in next week for some photos of the interior. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and slather a vat of lotion on my hands. I won't be posting any photos of them.