Tag Archives: fishing cottage lake house

Ice (almost) Out

We are watching the lake and waiting for ice out. The water is getting wider every day. Last night we made a bet. I think ice out will be 4/29. Ned says 5/2. We’ve bet a nickel. We’ll see who’s right.

The last two days have been warm here on the shores of Messalonskee. We have spent the better part of both days in the sunshine working in the yard and getting ready for spring cleanup. There is a lot of spring cleanup to do – we lost a tree last winter in the high winds and there’s a lot of raking to do. We never got the flower pots in before the dirt froze so we have that to finish, too. We could use a full time gardening crew! (Not likely  to happen!)

Ned has also been planning and chipping away at some granite that he found under the old house. He’s going to make a bird feeder. When the demolition of the old boathouse was complete, he used the backhoe to move the boulder to the front corner of the house. Now he’s decided to move it to the center of the garden nearest our driveway. He’s been “noodling around” a plan to move a 1000 pound rock … yesterday he worked it into its spot. Using a winch, some chair, a sheet of plywood, and some logs he moved the rock across the yard. I watched!

Ned is rebuilding our boathouse with Tom and the Chore Store. They’ve completed the platform on top of the old concrete foundation (a slab was poured late last fall under the old garage end) and then up went the walls. Another day and we had a roof. Watching a building being stick-built is really amazing. Tom and his crew do a great job and Ned is thrilled to have a sturdy building again. He will use the back end as a workshop and the front will still be our boathouse in the spring, summer and fall. We hope the big dock spiders have gone out into the woods never to return.

Today Ned went for his first “swim” when his waders weren’t as long as the water was deep. It was a cold shock for sure! Never the less, he persisted in getting the scaffolding up so that he could wrap the front of the building with whatever-the-wrap is. I wish I could tell you that I have been involved in the process, but I haven’t. I’ve been busy working at the Yardgoods Center while my boss is out of town.  I’m tired from being on my feet and sore but I still love working in the yarn shop!

Our Florida friends are still asking us if we are ready to leave Maine in the winter and if we regret moving up north. The answer is still and unequivocal “NO!” We are so thrilled to wake up in this beautiful place every morning. We love watching the birds return to the feeders, watch the ducks arrive back on the lake. We loved watching the Bald Eagles on the ice all winter long. The feathered loons should be returning soon. The human loons have taken their ice fishing shacks off the ice for another season. It was a good winter and we continue to feel so lucky to live here.

Time Flies!

I can’t believe that there’s a crispness in the air already! The summer is flying by … and this weekend is Labor Day already! How is it that time flies by so quickly? I decided to choose a few pictures of the summer from beginning to end to show you what’s been going on at our house this summer.

It always makes us happy when the loons return to Messalonskee!

Duck family! We had two families this year.

Kids visiting … tubing is always a favorite activity!

Little cousins visit from the West Coast. They all loved visiting Blueberry Hill with Uncle Ned.

The rope swing is a lot of fun – even for the adults!

One Early Morning

A bit of knitting on the dock.

Another visit from the kids and the grand-dogs. Their favorite activity may be an evening “cocktail cruise”.

The BBD (Big Brown Dog) is happy in the sun on the porch. So are we!

8/28/17 The first morning where there is fog on the lake. The evenings are getting much cooler.

It’s been a wonderful summer and we look forward to the rest of the summer days. And the cooler weather of fall.

We are so fortunate to live here!

Wow! Lots of Activity


“Warner’s”We have a lot going on here at “Camp Smedley”! 


We have a lot going on here at Warner’s “Camp Smedley”! Our house is nearly finished although I’d argue that it will never really be finished. Homes are a work in progress. Right? Ned and Tom have been working on the porch railings and the steps down to the yard. It’s wonderful to have our coffee on the porch again!

Last week the landscaping was started and it should be wrapped up on Wednesday with our sod going down. This is a huge project! As far as we know, there’s never been any “real” landscaping done here and many of the plants that we planted have not survived.

We hired Native Notions from Belgrade Lakes to do our landscaping. Matt’s design was creative and the plants were appropriate and hardy (and low maintenance). He really listened at our first meeting and delivered a plan that was just what we asked for. Thursday the crew arrived and went to work scraping the old gross yard away and then began to fill it back in with loam and the flower beds began to take shape. A couple of things that we particularly appreciated what that they installed a silt fence to protect the lake and were thoughtful of re-purposing the hosta and day lilies that were planted by Ned’s mother all those ages ago.

Here’s what it looked like before …

The yard on the railroad side of the house ... before

The yard on the railroad side of the house … before (with a little bit of Ned in the top corner)

Helen's Garden Before

Helen’s Garden Before

Lakeside Garden Before

Lakeside Garden Before

Every day when I came home after work I  was pleasantly surprised by the changes that I could see. It’s already a huge improvement and I can’t wait to see the finished project! I hope I took enough before and after pictures so that you can see what a wonderful job they did!

Day 1 - the yard on the railroad side after

Day 1 – the yard on the railroad side after

Day 1 - Lakeside Garden - After

Day 1 – Lakeside Garden – After

Day 1 - Helen's Garden - After

Day 1 – Helen’s Garden – After

One of my favorite parts, oddly enough, is the pathway of rocks around the house that will serve as a drip edge. It’s so pretty!

We are getting ready to have the whole family here for our wedding on July 30. Lots to finish up and clean up in preparation for our big event. I figure if we can live together in our little guest cottage for ten months and build a house without detesting each other we figured it’s time to make it formal!

Every day we thank our lucky stars to be here!

We get to LIVE here!!!

Our View … From the Guest Cabin

Our View … From the Guest Cabin

I’m sitting on the porch of our guest cabin this morning in my pajamas marveling and how lucky we are to live here in this beautiful place. I have to pinch myself!

Lots of progress is being made on our new home. We have a lovely new footing and frost wall in place and after waiting for several days to make sure that it’s cured, we are back-filling it now with rocks, sand, crushed rock (to come) and compacting it. Yesterday and today, the back-filling has been happening. If I understand correctly, there will also be some flooding which will push all the sand into places where it’s not going. We want the foundation of our slab to be completely stable so this part of the process is critical.

Before and After

Before and After

Ned and I took a little ride in our canoe on Sunday to get out on the water and to see our house from the lake. While the angle of my photo isn’t the best, the progress is, at least, visible now. But there is still a huge hole where the old house sat. Coming home in the canoe, there’s no big white house to use as a point of reference. It’s still a little bit sad.

While we were out on the lake we also met some new neighbors, Janna and Peter, who moved here from New York after being “summer people”, too. It’s wonderful to listen to the stories of others and see them flourishing here on our lake. It’s in reflecting on their success that I (we?) can also see that we are building a wonderful life here and we are excited about our future. I know we are simply astonished each day when we open our eyes and see our magnificent view and wonder that we get to live here.

What a privilege. We are so blessed.

Honoring the Past in the Present … We are Happy

The Old House circa 1930

The Old House circa 1930

The old house was right on the lake and everyone knew it. So when people started to notice that the house was gone, I guess it was inevitable that they would offer their opinions and thoughts about it. We can hear them saying, “it’s gone!” and “I loved that house” and “did it burn?” from their boats.

We have seen one such comment that said, in essence, what a shame to have destroyed an historic, circa 1880, house. We totally agree. And nobody has felt the pain of taking this house down more than we have because nobody loved the house as much as we did. Others may have liked the way it looked on the water’s edge or they may have thought they’d enjoy an afternoon on the porch but nobody really knew that house like we did. And you can’t really love something, or someone, for that matter, without knowing it intimately.

Undulating Floors

Undulating Floors

When we started to think about moving to Maine several years ago, we had some people come out and give us estimates to jack up the house and put a foundation under it. And because we sit on the lake and beside a (what I call) creek but the powers that be call a drainage course or something similar we had some special things we had to do to protect the lake. Just jacking up the house was very expensive. Even without adding a foundation. But we thought about it. And even spoke to our contractor about renovating, insulating, replacing windows and doors, upgrading the electric and plumbing … Nothing was to code. Everything had to be upgraded to code once we started working on it. The cost was going to be prohibitive.

Family on the Porch circa 1959

Family on the Porch circa 1959

So we started to consider replacing the house. It took us several years to come to a place where we were close to comfortable with knocking down the old, much loved, full-of-memories house. Last summer we got bold enough to start asking what it would take and what the process would be. We decided that the only fiduciarily responsible thing was tear down the old house and build a new one in its place.

First Fish

First Fish

All the back story isn’t for anyone’s edification and it’s not an excuse or an explanation. It’s merely part of our story. I’ve been following a blog about a farm in New York State and the writer is dealing with some of the same things that I feel we may be opening ourselves to. Criticism by those who think they know what is the right thing or better thing to do. I’m not sure how anyone who hasn’t lived in our house, paid our bills, experienced all the twists and turns that we have lived on our path to this exact place in our lives can even perceive that they behave a right to an opinion about our property. Because nobody knows about the tears that we have shed leaving this place at the end of the summer or yearning to be here in the winter, or witnessing the “jaws of death” taking the first bite out of the “little yellow bedroom”.

Nobody is sorrier to see the house gone than we are. We loved it. Our kids, especially Ned’s kids, loved it. We knew the roller coaster floor (over the rocks in the kitchen and bedroom). We knew where to find a lost dog ball that rolled toward the lake when dropped. We knew the singed rafters and the carpenter ants in the attic. And we loved every bit of each quirky crazy square inch.

Grandma Thomas making rugs in the living room

Grandma Thomas making rugs in the living room

We are building our new home on sacred ground. Where Ned grew up. Where his mother and father spent weekends (unchaperoned … GASP!) before they were married. Where aunts and uncles shouted and where grandma braided the wool rugs with wool from local mills. Where Ned last saw his father alive. Where we came on our day off from being camp counselors in the summer of 1976 when we were first dating and again in 2007 after nearly 30 years apart.

Ned's Dad Cooking Fish (for breakfast) in the Kitchen

Ned’s Dad Cooking Fish (for breakfast) in the Kitchen

We are grateful to have this beautiful place to call home. We honor the past and the old house and will build our new house with love and respect and family and some of the floors, beams, doors and windows from the old house that Ned lovingly salvaged.

We are gong to be married here in a year or so. We are happy.


As it turns out, my beloved summer camp has stood the test of time on a sea of boulders and in spite of floors inclined towards the lake or the occasional boulder inching up into the master bedroom, the structure was sturdy albeit creaky. Floor joist were seemingly resting precariously on cairns, rocks, and concrete pavers. Frost walls cannot go around or over this collection of igneous rock so much has to be removed around the perimeter, some rocks are settled and will be left under the slab. In an effort to clear up the site, Tom (contractor) has rented two rock drillers,(in addition to two 19 year olds, who may now claim the title of rock hound) to bore holes into the offending rock which will then be filled with Dexpan, an demolition grout with 18,000psi expansive strength. This slurry of chemicals should expand enough to crack the rocks into manageable  pieces. But managing these bouncing 80 lb pneumatic drillers while surefooted on the ground is one thing but climb onto a five foot high boulder and it becomes a comic exercise reminiscent of The Three Stooges, except that failure will certainly result in actual pain. Just ask our young rock hounds.

Not one to turn down a new experience, especially on my birthday, I can attest to the difficulty of handling these air powered drills. Fortunately with two drills and four people it was less grueling than expected.

May 20, 2015, A Farewell

I haven’t written anything lately because I really wanted to leave space for Ned to have this blog as his platform. For Ned to be able to speak about his summer home and his feelings about it. To bid farewell to his beloved house.

IMG_4726The first bite of the claw-thing was almost physically painful. My heart ached. Even though I’ve only been here for eight summers, and one summer a long time ago, I’ve grown to love the house and this place. I have some great memories from times we’ve shared in the house.

I was here with Ned’s mother and step-dad and aunt and uncle in July, 1976. The first summer we fell in love. In 2007, I came back here, newly in love (and nearly divorced) having spent the last several years trying to figure out who I was and what I needed to do with my life. At 50 I hadn’t expected to find my first love and rekindle the feelings we’d had 30+ years before. We’ve had our families and friends visit, we’ve made some new friends. We watched a beloved dog fall asleep forever on the side porch and buried him at the edge of the woods. We’ve enjoyed our time together on the porch or by the wood stove, just being here.

IMG_4740When the house came crashing and crunching to its knees I knew Ned was hurting and I was hurting too. For him mostly. For me, too, a little.

But we’re looking ahead again and it’s exciting to think about building a house together. Building a home together. We have agreed on most details to this point … and have some more decisions moving forward. I know we both look forward to making memories with our family and friends in our new home.

Busy Bees – Making Steps in a Forward Direction



We’ve been trying to get settled comfortably in the guest cabin and a lot of steps have been taken toward our goal. On Friday the DEP called and our permit has been approved. We can officially go forward and tear down the old house.


Big Antlers, new electric panel and our work/dining space

The electrician, Jeff, has been here quite a bit working on upgrading our electric in the guest cabin. Since the cabin was built in the early 1950s, the electric systems were not adequate for microwave ovens, space heaters and all the electronics that we travel with today. He’s been great and very professional. We are so grateful to have a safe cabin to call home for the next few months.

Sitting area and the new/old book shelves

Sitting area and the new/old book shelves

I’ve been doing laundry at the laundromat nearby and hanging it on the line. I will continue to hang laundry outside. 1) It’s better for the clothes. 2) It uses less energy … except for mine which is in plentiful supply most of the time, and 3) It’s better for the earth. Living as close as we do to the earth here, we are more aware of reduce, reuse, recycle. I also took a day and baked some muffins for Ned’s breakfast before we turned off the propane to the stove.

"Kitchen" … well, almost

“Kitchen” … well, almost

Our car titles are comfortably in storage (we think) and so we’re trying to figure out how to get duplicates sent to us in a timely fashion so we can register our cars in Maine. I’m going to get my Maine driver’s license tomorrow and then will mail a photocopy of it with the application for a duplicate registration. Remind me next time to get an electronic version … that would only cost $2.50. A paper replacement will be much more.

Ned’s been sawing away at the trees in the front yard with his new, bigger chain saw. Making great progress and lots of trips to the dump with all the branches. We took the old, old refrigerator from the wood shed to the dump and moved the old fridge from the house into the wood shed as a back-up to the little one in the cabin. We have completely emptied the house of all furniture and stuff. We’re leaving the double beds (mattresses) upstairs to come down with the wrecking ball. They don’t fit down the stairs. (We’re all wondering how they got up there in the first place.)

Yesterday when I was at work, Ned moved the book shelf from the living room and hung it up in the cabin living room. A wonderful addition to this space. We both love our books. I’m guessing that we’ll fill the shelves with books while we are living here.

The demolition was scheduled for yesterday but was rescheduled for today because the dumpster driver quit. We hear we’re all set for today. It will be very emotional taking down the old house. Bittersweet for sure.

What? Me Remember?



I’m having a difficult time with preparing to demolish my summer home. Part of the issue that confounds my brain, is all the work. Physical and mental, this work is keeping me more busy than I’ve been since my schedule consisted of full time job, full time kids, and full time kids schedule, and still get dinner on the table. But behind this work is the anguish of memory DSC_0062.JPGand it’s impending silence. This home is a catalyst and a storehouse, for memory. I walk through the rooms and watch the stream of old pictures spill out. The sound of floors creaking under my weight give rise to images and feelings from the past, trying to sneak down the hall without anyone on the first floor knowing. Without these catalysts, surely some of my past will stay hidden. So I am mourning ( worrying) my memory.

Of course the memories are still there. I’m sure my mother, in her last years, suffering from dementia, telling me of poultry on her bed from the night before (in an assisted living facility-otherwise politically incorrectly referred to as “the home”) or non-existent infant nephews (at least I think they were non-existent), had available, through whatever processes, chemical or verbal, the total recall of her 91 years. But out of sight and out of mind, without the stimulus, I might as well be demented. Then of course everyday would be fresh and full of wonder in an ever new but same environment and meeting people for the first time you’ve known all your life.


So it will be a lot harder to recall without the visual and aural. The memories, and the structure incorporating them, require respect and reverence. You can’t have a house as a friend yet I tear up while I’m tearing it down.