Monday, October 10, 2011

Bulging belly and pendulous earlobes aside, Buddha and I have little in common.

This is not for lack of trying.

I have an entire bookshelf sagging under the weight of good intentions and untapped wisdom:
  • Why Buddhism? (why, indeed);
  • Awakening the Buddha Within;
  • Choosing Happiness; 
  • Start Where You Are;
  • The Three Questions;
  • Zen Shorts;
  • Karma Kids; 
  • Buddhism For Mothers; and
  • Buddhism For Mothers Of Schoolchildren.
The title I'm waiting for is "Buddhism-For-Lapsed-Catholic-Dilettante-Mothers-Of-Spirited-Schoolaged-Boys-Living-With-Overachieving-Spouses".

When that hits the shelves, I'll be set.

In the meantime, I am struggling to practice non-attachment.

After three years of planning, dreaming, scheming, yearning, and plain hard work, we finally have the house of our dreams, in our beloved Adelaide Hills.

And my husband has a fantastic new job... in Melbourne.

Once again, life is teaching me that you can have it all, just not necessarily at the same time.

Leaving friends, colleagues, school and our home, Birk Knott, will be sad and difficult.

But we are so fortunate and excited to be landing in Melbourne, where tremendous friends and precious family await, along with all sorts of new adventures and opportunities for exploring.


But first, some "Before & After" snaps of our little project.

It makes me smile.

Maybe it could make you smile - if you're in the market for a tree-change, let me know!

It's a magical spot.


Outside: yellow bricks, small aluminum-framed windows, and lots of lattice-work pergolas.

Inside: a rabbit's warren, with too many doors leading into lots of pokey rooms and a front door that entered directly into the family room where the refrigerator sat

The house was oriented towards the garden (good), but the windows were too small to take in either the views or the sunlight (bad).  

Come winter, we could see our breath indoors.

Cooking involved banging the oven into life (think: old t.v. with rabbit ears and poor reception).  Reaching the top cupboards was tricky if you were less than seven feet tall.

The "Big Room" was like a church hall - great for a crowd, but too vast for every day use.

However, if things inside left a bit to be desired, the surroundings - from every angle and in every season - more than made up for it.  

In truth, we had bought a garden, not a house.

The original owners and sole owners (until we came along) had dedicated themselves to creating a miraculous botanic park.

A house, we reasoned, could be built or transformed in the space of a year (or two).  

Twenty-foot-high camellias take a lifetime.  And someone had already spent theirs making this incredible place.

Plus, in summer, there was the pool.  Built-in racing lines were the cherry on the cake - we have a competitive family!

So, as an interim measure, we painted the outside white.  

White paint is a miracle in a can.  (Blue hydrangeas were our wedding flowers - when we first saw the house, it seemed like an omen.)

And then we got busy planning....  


Our goal was to make the house as special as its setting, while introducing a few modern creature comforts (like heating!) along the way.  

(view from the study)

I'm smiling.  (Not least because the hydrangea, though not visible above, will be back soon.)

This is the result of a fantastic collaboration with three enormously talented individuals: our architect, David Burton of Williams Burton, his associate Sophia Leopardi, and our builder, Rocky Cirroco.  It is impossible to imagine achieving a similar outcome without any one them, or the delightful, dedicated teams that support them.  

All renovations come with their challenges, but, ultimately, this was one of the most creative, energizing and gratifying experiences of my life.     

And it is nice to feel that we will leave this very special place a little more special than we found it.


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