Category Archives: Before the Move

Caravan to Maine (Day 1)


Travel Day 1

We sold our house yesterday and left Florida.

Sleeping on an air mattress on the floor in a house that sounds hollow with three dogs is not highly recommended. Nor does it make for a stress-free day to start a long drive. But we managed to leave with our relationship still intact and our cars packed very tightly.

Day one we travelled to Florence, SC. When the parking area of your hotel is full of Harleys and a huge truck with very loud “boom boom” music, you should know that there will be a problem for two people who are road weary and just want a shower and a sleep before travel tomorrow.

Three phone calls later, the front desk got us moved away from the man with the very loud radio and his friends. Once we unplugged the refrigerator that sounded like fire alarms were going off outside, we hit the sack  at 1:00am, the bikers came back to roost with engines revving. I’m sure all of this will be funny when we have arrived home but it wasn’t funny knowing our longest travel day is today.

So, at 5-something this morning when Ned woke up, it was a bit early. But we will get an early start and arrive early. Hopefully, the next hotel will be quieter or it’s going to get ugly. I get less and less functional without sleep.

Monday our internet will be connected at the guest house and the electrician will be coming to separate the guest house electric from the big house panel. Our dream begins.

Bring on day two!



House as Old Friend



So the third entity in this mix is this 100 year old fishing cottage. Now to say “fishing cottage” brings up images of quaintness and  small, one room cozy little abodes. This fishing cottage was originally about 1800 square feet over two floors. The second floor had a bathroom and a hall lined with numbered doors, ostensibly so the besotted fishermen could easily find their rooms . My ancestors renovated somewhat, taking down a wall, putting in a shower, adding a master bedroom to the first floor. Now with the chance to use the attic as living space we’re up to 2800 square feet. Not bad for a “cottage”.

maine summer 09_2173The house sits directly on the lakefront, on piers, with no insulation, tube and post wiring (no ground), beautifully imperfect windows, and a boulder coming through the master bedroom. maine summer 09_2168Nothing is level, much less square. It keeps the dogs occupied when they drop a ball and it inevitably rolls away. We have two systems for water, well water for drinking (one faucet only in kitchen) and lake water for everything else. I won’t bother with the septic configurations but like everything else, it has been cobbled together over the years by a few professionals but mostly well meaning homeowners intent on patching things together for another season. Not a lot of long range thinking…but it was a summer house. Before I was the Maine (get it?) custodian my jobs consisted mostly of cleaning the gutters and painting. maine summer 09_2214Over hours on a ladder or wobbly scaffold, I learned to think of paint as glue, another coat to bond and protect for a year or so. I’m not necessarily afraid of heights but logic and your survival instinct create almost numbing fear when standing on the top rung (an OSHA no-no) of an old wooden ladder, on the porch roof. The 15 foot drop to the roof would knock the wind out of me at least, sprain if not break something, then a quick roll off to the seawall and a concussion, finally into the lake to drown. I moved very slowly and deliberately, no second coat.



There is also a two room guest house which we will be living in this summer while building the main house. A log cabin structure, built by my father in the early 50’s I think, the guest house has a bathroom and kitchenette. My father was a restauranteur in Washington D.C. and bought the property from his uncle for $3,000 over the course of ten years starting in 1939.DSC_0016.NEF

The stone fireplace was something he loved (he was a cook after all). The tent in the background stands where the guesthouse was built. The woman in the picture will eventually be his wife and my mother although at the time I think she was an unchaperoned guest of the female persuasion. Unheard of in the early 50’s.

Rounding out the compound is a boat house, woodshed, out house and pump house. All important and inviolable since the town will not allow any increase in impermeable land due to the closeness of the lake and environmental concerns. (We’ll need permission from the state DEP to demolish the main house.) DSC_0057The boathouse will become a woodshed/ work room and the woodshed rotated to become a garage. Woodshed will be heated with our old wood stove.

The property has about 212′ of lakefront, extending back 134′ to the train tracks. So if those oil tankers jump the tracks its adios muchacho.

I will be photographing the transitions, maybe some time-lapse if I can figure out the goPro. Having learned a lot from my Habitat for Humanity friends here in Orlando, the biggest thrill will be that I can help build the house although if I have to calculate rafters or valleys I’ll be in serious trouble. DSC_0017.NEF



Happy Easter! Sunday 4/5/15

The Triumph is leaving ...

The Triumph is leaving …

It’s another beautiful day for a project!

Ned’s TR6 has been awaiting some TLC, waiting in our garage in Florida. Today it’s leaving the building … has left the building  … for its new home, our garage in Maine!

I’ll hold down the Florida fort while he drives his car to Maine and back to Florida.

Life’s an adventure and we’re looking forward to our new life!

Happy Easter!


… has left the building!


Adios Cocodrilo


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Part of this adventure means saying goodbye to Florida, a flat land with scrub palms, where I’ve been living 47 years, amidst sand spurs, red ant mounds and alligators. I have found myself unexpectedly nostalgic over the unique aspects of this state that I will miss. You can find

Fort Christmas (1 of 1)alligators in your back yard, an ominous black sky before a summer frog-strangler, or iridescent blue green water under miles of oversea highway. There is a lot to like and respect about the earlier residents and their struggles (with no AC), or the kitschy landscape that evolved from them.

But I’ve been here along time and gone through some of the normal life changes, marriage, kids, divorce, death in the family. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the place has grown on me. I’ve slept on the beach in a youthful drunken stupor, helicoptered over manta rays and lakes filled with gators, walked into cobwebs and orb spiders, waited countless times for the “green flash” at sunset (it’s a myth), swum in lakes that I probably shouldn’t have, and come to terms with the oppressive summer heat. Normal stuff. But I will miss the gators.

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We are Moving to Maine!

Our View From the Porch

Our View From the Porch

It’s starting to feel real.

It’s sneaking up on me … like a train barreling down the tracks!

Today I had a lovely chat with a parent on my way out to my afternoon post at school. A parent that I really don’t know very well. She heard that I was leaving after this year. I confirmed that I was leaving. Her response was that she was really “disappointed”. I told her that I will be very sad to leave but that we were building our dream home on our beloved lake and it seemed the right time to leave. I was touched that a parent was going to be sad that I won’t be back. It occurred to me that I have made a mark and I have made a difference and that’s a wonderful feeling.

My goal was to make the Woodlands clinic a safe place for students when they aren’t feeling well. What the one mom helped me to realize is that I have also created a safe place for the parents who trust me to care for their children. I feel proud that I’ve been successful and in the process I’ve become very attached to the kids … even the “frequent fliers!”

It’s been almost eight years since my last move from Cincinnati to Orlando. It was a big move with a lot of change rolled into it. From married to single, from employed to unemployed, from home to apartment, from children living at home to living alone, from four seasons to (maybe) two. It was a huge challenge. HUGE! But I have done it and built a life for myself and I have been happy here. This next move may not be so “huge” but it still won’t be easy. I worked for a long time to find friends and a job here. I will be sad to leave my friends and my Woodlands family.

Every time I’ve moved, I’ve built a new life for myself. The next move will be with the man I love and our blended (mostly four-legged) family. We are looking forward to building our dream home on the shores of our beloved lake, Messalonskee. There are no blueprints to building a life but I know it’s possible and I am looking forward to our next chapter.

This is the first blog of many. We anticipate chronicling our adventure as we both share our experiences here on our blog. And a picture of the day!

We’re moving to Maine!