Tag Archives: 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.

We Are In!

Last night we slept in the house for the first time. It feels great to have some space and “real” heat (rather than space heaters).

We still have a lot of work to be done but we can live in the house while it’s done – and it may be just in time for our first snow storm overnight.

Tomorrow the moving company delivers all of our stuff from Florida. We are eager to see what we own after seven months! We got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved, things that we knew we didn’t want in our Maine house … and tomorrow it arrives.

Our replacement cupboard and counter tops should be coming this week, too. It’s so nice to have a kitchen with more than a one-burner camp stove! Ned’s new stove/oven is so fancy I don’t even know how to make it work … I want to bake so I guess I’ll find out.

We’ve been horrible about writing lately and for that we’re sorry. Chronicling this adventure has been a priority but lately we’ve been busy. Ned has been working in the house and I’ve been working at the yarn shop and teaching knitting. I’m eager to get my studio set up so I can work at home – I have a quilt to finish and a sweater to finish before December 13th! I’m on a deadline!

More pictures soon, we promise!

Fracturing Wells, Digging Ditches … Closer

Glorious Fall Days on Messalonskee

Glorious Fall Days on Messalonskee

There has been a lot of progress and not without a couple of bumps. But we are hoping against hope that we will be able to move into the new house in the early part of November. It’s getting a bit chilly up here in the cabin.

This morning temperatures were in the middle-20s and it’s not expected to get much warmer today. We have both space heaters running in an attempt to keep the pipes flowing with water and all of us warm. Even the electric blanket didn’t feel warm enough last night to this pair of winter-newbies and it’s still only fall! The one comforting thought is that even the locals, Mainers for their whole life or most of it, are turning on their pellet and wood stoves … And some, their heat!

Cabinets ... One of the bumps

Cabinets … One of the bumps

Our kitchen cabinets were ready about a month ago but we weren’t ready for them until earlier this week.  They were delivered and filled up the living room! When our contractor had installed a wall of the uppers, I realized they weren’t what I thought we had ordered. I wanted cabinets to the ceiling. No wasted space. And for some reason the kitchen designer had order 30″ uppers (not even close to the ceiling) and when our contractor found the mistake and spoke with her, we got closer (39″) but no cigar. In addition, two cabinets were the wrong size … even according to our plans. Luckily, they can be exchanged.

imageThe trim around the windows and doors is going up on the first floor. It looks wonderful. The wood has gone up on the ceiling in the master bedroom and just needs to be varnished. It’s beautiful! Just what we wanted.

Yesterday Central Maine Power arrived to hook us up so we have electricity! This is a big part of the last important steps- getting all of our Utilities connected. We are hoping to get our ditches dug for water and propane in the next couple of days and then Dead River can bring our gargantuan tank in. Initially they were going to bring us two 120 pound tanks … After we asked them to come out, it changed to a 1,000 gallon tank. We didn’t think they’d like to come down here in he middle of the winter. The wells will be “fractured” later this week. They’ll be sealing them up somehow and pumping pressurized water into them to try to find crevices that will break open and give us more water. Our area is so rocky that nobody really wants to try to drill a new well. This man was the first of several companies who agreed to come back and help us. We are very grateful (and I’ll find out his name and give home a plug later!)

imageOur tile is going up in both bathrooms. It’s wonderful to have Chris on the job with his great sense of comedy … He even hung a sign for us when he tiled the floor of our shower. I admit to laughing out loud.

We are running two and sometimes three space heaters in the cabin. I had taken the curtains off the windows to clean them thinking that we wouldn’t “need” them again. I may have been wrong. It might be nice to close them to keep some of our heat inside the cabin. It’s anything but air tight!

Snow on the cabin steps

Snow on the cabin steps

The leaves have peaked and are all falling down. While all the locals are cleaning up their yards, ours is still cluttered with construction equipment, beams from the old house and wood and metal scraps. We had some snow flurries on Sunday. Early by all accounts. I even missed my Macoun apples this year.

We are getting closer.

Inquisitive Folk

lamp (1 of 1)I used to work as a video journalist for a news station in Orlando, going out and about each day looking for news, chasing ambulances (literally), or doing live shots. We drove marked vehicles, our logo and call letters brandished across every inch of metal, and became inured to frequent intrusions by the viewing public enamored with the thought of being on tv (“Hi mom”) or simply the proximity, however remote, to their favorite news anchors. We worked in a fishbowl, subject to scrutiny from the unwashed masses. It was hard to go unnoticed.

weather vane (1 of 1)Now I sit in my guest cottage, 50 feet from home construction, old floor joists littering the lawn, stacks of lumber nearby, a two man hydraulic lift at rest, and watch as boats slow down to gawk or make u-turns to inspect the progress. Had we a dock to park your vessels, I would welcome you for a tour. Come in and talk for a spell. Admittedly I am putting myself out there for scrutiny with this bloggy thing but don’t we all welcome talking about ourselves, what we love, or love to do? I am literally building my home, lack of skills notwithstanding, stick by stick and I would love to show it to you.  Today a confluence of kayakers came by, wondering about the boathouse, the new house, the guest house, the moorings, the sign advertising this blog, etc. I found myself  waffling between mild annoyance and an urge to explain and had I not been spotted, which necessitated a greeting (I try to be polite), I would have stayed quiet. But because of that simple connection though I was eager to chat, explain the situation, show off my dogs, and spend a few minutes with inquisitive folk.water dancing (1 of 1)

It’s Coming Back

I’ve been too busy working to blog about the house going up but there has been a lot of excitement around here every day! We’ve got walls and it’s starting to show us what it’s going to look like and how we can place furniture in our rooms!

First Floor Coming Along!

First Floor Coming Along!

I thought it was exciting when I came home and the first floor was all closed in with the plywood. I could finally see the size of the windows and where the front door would be. Before this I thought it was going to be small. Ned even went and measured the slab one night because I was so worried that we’d built it too small. It was spot on! The door you can see is the one that will lead to the screened porch. The two smaller windows is the kitchen and the large window is the dining room. All of the rooms are in the same place as in the old house. It’s basically the same downstairs floor plan it’s just more open!

And then one day I came home and climbed up a ladder to stand on what will be our second floor.

View from my Atelier on the Second Floor

View from my Atelier on the Second Floor

With some of the exterior walls up, it’s going to be a phenomenal view of the lake through the big windows on the front of the house (and the sides, too!) We have to have a bunch of bedrooms available because we want our family to come visit (and friends, too.) Each room on the second floor will be able to sleep our friends and family. Only one will be a dedicated guest room. The other will be my studio and the third will be Ned’s TV room. Although we discussed moving the TV up to the third floor and expanding my studio when we saw the size of the third floor former attic space.

IMG_5171The best day of all was when I saw the roof of the house rising above the woodshed roof again. There has been a hole there since we took the old house down and nothing felt right. But it’s coming back and all is right with the world. I got a ride with our contractor in the lift that we’ve rented to get the wood up to the roof without having to carry it. What a blast! The view of the house from the air is amazing and the view of the lake from the top of the house is phenomenal. Ned’s office space on the third floor is going to be the best view in the house.

Pinch me! We get to live here!

Leverage Your Rocks

Since arriving here and starting this home rebuilding project one of the reoccurring themes has been “leverage”, in the physical sense – I have no desire to control others by using some underhanded or devious means to get an upper hand. Leverage in my case, at least initially, involved removing floorboardshabitat (4 of 4) from my beloved summer house, gently enough not to mar them but with enough force to separate the 80 year old tongue and groove boards with rusty nails from the subfloor. Once I had the technique, the pry bar and reciprocating saw became indispensable. But the pry bar (lever) needed to be as close to the reluctant nail as possible for a clean removal.floor removal bw2 (1 of 1) Otherwise you’ll break off the tongue. Finding the right point was tedious and difficult at times due to the accumulation of dust and dirt. Leverage.

As one ages and the muscles don’t quite do the heavy lifting they used to, we don’t have the luxury of “muscling” things in the apish way we did as 30 year olds. Lower backs scream, brachioradialis muscle (forearm) fail at the most inopportune times, and grips slip proving the necessity of steel toed boots. The energy is not quite there but the brains and experience can do the job. In this environment my existence is much more physical. Docks need to be moved in and out of the lake, wood needs to be cut and managed, holes dug, rocks moved. The need for leverage is universal among tool making humans. So it becomes necessary for appropriate  and innovative tools or techniques.

Archimedes, although not necessarily the discoverer of the lever, is the one who remarked,”Give me a place to stand on and I will move the Earth”… presumably with a very long lever. leverage (1 of 1)Indeed this morning, having moved wheelbarrows full of logs to a spot for storage and drying, I was attempting to dig a hole for a pressure treated 4×4 as a post when I met another of my reoccurring themes…a rock. The hole ended up being about 3 feet in circumference because I kept expanding …due to the rocks. And not wanting to ruin a shovel while in the process, I simply went to the wood shed to grab one of our two steel pry bars, in this case a 5 footer. To say “they grow ’em big around here” is an understatement. Living on a lake you can’t expect to dig more than a few inches before hitting something hard.

In Florida they use a machine called a DitchWitch to dig trenches for septic lines or conduit.ditchwitch It can be a small, one person ditch digger that generally has only sand and clay to deal with. No such machine in Maine. Too many rocks.! The only machine that can do the job here is an excavator. What happens when you have boulders in your way? A LARGE excavator with a jackhammer attachment. Specifically an Hitachi EX 120 6 ton, hydraulic excavator equipped with a 81 hp turbocharged Izuzu 4 cycle engine, steel tractor treads, axial piston motor with planetary reduction gear, and a maximum torque of 231 lb-ft at 1600 rpm.

The footers for the frost wall will end up incorporating some of these boulders, there is only so much you can do. But in the meantime I had some of the granite moved to the edge of the work area because I intend to build a wall or table or mailbox or something with these beautifully jagged and squarish blocks.  But how do I move them? Trucks, jin poles, winches, rock sleds, it remains to be seen.IMG_4811

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.


Settling In

The Humming Bird Feeder is found!

The Humming Bird Feeder is found!

We’ve been settling in and getting the ground work done so that when the time is right (and the conditions are right) the demolition of the existing house can happen. It will likely be sometime during the week of the eighteenth.

The electric company came out today to inspect the new power line set-up that our electrician put in and it’s a go. They’ll all be here on Friday to do their thing. We are having the electric in the guest house upgraded so it will be to code and we can run a space heater and a hair dryer without the fear of popping the circuits or, worse, having a fire. The last time anybody actually lived in this guest house was in the mid-to-late 70s before personal computers or all the personal electronic stuff that we now “need”. It needs to be upgraded and safe!

This little cabin is a lovely place to sit and relax and enjoy the birds and the lake. We’ve got the humming bird feeder filled up and the humming birds have found it. We watched a hummer flying in an upside down arc over the tree branches in the yard today. I’ve never seen anything like it. That little bird flew back and forth about a dozen times. It was marvelous to watch.

My sister-in-love and brother and their three boys gave me a beautiful potted plant for mothers day and Ned hung it on the corner of the guest house so we can enjoy it. Planted flowers make it feel like home! Ned bought me a beautiful forsythia bush that we’ll plant within sight of the kitchen window so that when spring comes next year, I’ll be able to enjoy it and remember.

Ned has begun to take out the windows that we want to salvage and before we know it, it’s going to be time to have the propane tank moved. That will be the end of our cooking in the old house … and the end of the house, as it was. We both find ourselves feeling very, very sad about the old house being demolished but we still look forward to seeing the new house going up in its place.

Picture of the Day & A Different Perspective

We have moved up to the guest house/cottage/cabin and our perspective has changed a bit.

View From the Porch

View From the Porch of the Big House

Picture of the Day from the Big House

Picture of the Day from the Big House 5/5/15

We are cozy and sleep well with all the work that we’ve been doing. I haven’t heard a train (despite the fact that it is closer to my sleeping head than ever) in a couple of days but the bird activity on the near-empty feeder has been amazing and yesterday we believe we saw a juvenile Bald Eagle fly up the lake.

Ned moved the hummingbird feeder up to the guest house and a ruby throated hummer found us yesterday. We happened to be chatting with our neighbor when the bird came for food and was within an arms reach. We all stood stunned by the little bird.

Let the Destruction Begin

Let the Destruction Begin – Ned and Tom (our contractor) supervising Ron 

Yesterday was an emotional day for me. Ron (our excavator extraordinaire) came down with the little backhoe and dug a ditch where the electric to the guest house will go. (Underground is best here in snow country.) While he was here the boys took down one cluster of cedars and a birch down by the lake and two thirds of the cedar cluster by the screen porch.

Trees Coming Down

Trees Coming Down

We didn’t want to remove the trees but to satisfy the powers that be in our permitting process and because there is a “creek” on one side of our land, we offered to set the house back five feet and move it over a couple. The trees were making it difficult to get the machinery into position and block a lot of valuable (in the winter) afternoon sun. Listening to the cracking and creaking of the trees as they came down hurt my heart. The trees have been there for nearly all of Ned’s lifetime and all of the time I’ve come here … even way back when I was here in 1976. They’re nice old trees that have sheltered the house and provided a place for kids (big and little) to swing. We’ve enjoyed their shade on hot days. I cried like a baby.

Today my perspective has changed a little.

View from the Guest Cottage Porch

View from the Guest Cottage Porch

Not only are my pictures of the day from a different perspective, but the way I’m looking at the loss of our trees has changed, too. The trees will keep us warm in the winter (not this winter, next winter) and the view from the big house is so much more open now. And, until Ned gets all the wood trimmed and cut, the birds are totally enjoying hiding among the branches on the lawn. This is such a beautiful place and we can enjoy our little perch above the lake this summer. It may test us along the way but there will be such satisfaction when we move into our new house and our new view of our beloved Messalonskee.

Picture of the Day from the Guest House

Picture of the Day from the Guest House 5/8/15