This was the trip of hand-built and restored houses. We went up to our cabin, itself timberframe + straw-bale + built largely by Mr. Fantastic, and ended up ogling at several other unique structures that our amazing friends are constructing. There is so much of a good vibe and so much gorgeous acreage in this part of the finger lakes, people just want houses that reflect all that loveliness. Cozy houses that are warm in the snow with windows to enjoy the beautiful view. Woodwork that glows in the sun. South-facing windows to catch the winter light and passively warm the place along with a wood stove.
our cabin upstairs and from a distance
The Rad Family
We started out spending a day with the Rad family and their 1865 off-the-grid farmhouse. They have propane lights, a compost toilet, and a wood burning cook stove. Ms. Rad was raised by artists in Alaska, bakes like nobody’s business, and has so much style the place just bursts with beauty- the indoor and outdoor spaces and her four kids running around. Mr. Rad was out rock climbing somewhere and Mr. Fantastic was tooling around downtown Ithaca so it was just us women and children. I didn’t mind a bit.
kids eating lunch out back, lovely kitchen with aromas of baking banana-chocolate chip bread – the hutch has a built-in flour sifter!
1920’s porcelain wood-burning cook stove, chicken house, kids out front looking like folks at a retirement home
Really with a cat out front, both twins out back
Ms. Rad’s father is building a summer home with a studio in the back field. He is using some beautiful old beams salvaged from a barn. Clearly, the place will have terrific views. The giant staircase with the beams makes a great sliding board for now!
Home under construction, kids on steps, Ms. Rad and some of her father’s work
outdoor bath/shower (covered in plastic for winter) and the view from the tub!
We had a great day with the kids running around and then a random errand to help a neighbor move a shed. Move a shed by hand?? yup. It’s all about cooperative spirit up in Ithacaland.
Fiercely documented. That’s Ms. Rad in the dress. I’m in there somewhere.
The Dynamite Family
We also visited the Dynamite Family – Mr. + Mrs. and their three daughters. They have lived for about 8 years, interspersed with some interesting travel, in a timberframe cabin that is, more or less, 300 square feet. It is off the grid and has a spring for a water source. As they grew to a family of 3, then 4, then 5, they enlarged the cabin a bit and thought about building something bigger. I always admired their commitment to simple living at the cabin and loved hearing about their long-term travels to Florida, California, and Costa Rica.
Outside and inside the cabin
Last year, they began construction on a two-story timberframe house of about 1800 square feet. They were in the final stages of construction when we stopped by. Wow- this house is already dazzling and is only going to get better.
the house from the East, view from the porch and the south-facing windows, solar panels and the workshop where Mr. Dynamite cut the wood for the house (!!!!), and a view of the house from the West.
Bonus!!! Women’s Full Moon Sauna
This was wonderfully serendipitous. There are various saunas and sweats in the Ithaca area, and when I lived there I took full advantage. My favorite was the women’s full moon potluck and sauna that took place for years at a property outside of Trumansburg, a hip sister community about 10 miles west of the main scene of Ithaca. That one had a pond that we could jump into between sweats. It would ice over in winter and we would break the ice and jump in- whooo!!
sauna building with stovepipe and solar panels! It has an excellent bucket shower in back. full moon over the trees
Like many rural Ithaca area real estate, where sauna-loving Finnish people landed in the New World back in the day, Ms. Rad’s property came with a sweet little sauna building. She now hosts the event, and it was a refreshing, cleansing evening of women’s talk and basking in the cold bright moonlight between sweats in the wood stove-heated sauna- aaaaaah.