Tag Archives: fishing cottage

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.

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.

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