Tag Archives: We live in Maine

Wow! Lots of Activity

"Warner's"

“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!

Snow!

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Winter has finally arrived in Maine

Winter has finally arrived in Maine.

We are fully enjoying every day on our lake, even as it gets colder and snowier! Each day the vista is a little bit different and equally beautiful. We can sit up in our bed and look out to see the early morning … sometimes with a sunrise and sometimes before the sunrise. Not often after the sun is up.

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We are early to bed and early to rise here. Perhaps because we don’t want to cover the windows (or haven’t yet). Or maybe it’s because we don’t have cable TV.

We were “worried” about getting in and out of our driveway and have been lucky so far. We seem able to get out after we clear the drive. The scariest part is making the turn on the hill. We each have a couple of hundred pounds of sand in our trunk and that may help. I have studded snow tires on all four tires, and am convinced that was a good investment. I think we’ll be going the 4-wheel drive way when we next purchase vehicles if, for no other reason, it will make us feel better.

Today the granite artist is supposed to be coming to “fix” our granite joints in the kitchen. I sure hope he can make them acceptable. We’ve been waiting forever to get it finished and I want to get the backsplash installed!

For now, suffice it to say that we are settling in and life is good. No question that we made the right move for us! We are so grateful to live in Maine!

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We did it! We live in Maine!

 

The Final Stretch and Struggle

Sunrise

Sunrise

The last couple of weeks have been a struggle for me because I’m getting impatient to get in the house. The weather has been getting colder (and then warmer and then colder) and the little cabin is not really a warm place even with (sometimes) three space heaters blasting away.

The cabin pipes that have always had the water drained from them by now and I’ve been feeling the pressure to close up this cabin. It’s been six months since we moved up here (both from the big house and from Florida) and we’re feeling the need to stretch out!

We are finally in the final stretch of building our home and it can’t happen fast enough as far as I am concerned.

We sent back the washer and dryer that we purchased because they were way too big for our laundry space. There is a lot of mechanical stuff that needs to go into our utility room and we are already wishing that the utility room was bigger. *Sigh*

We are still waiting for our replacement cabinets to be delivered. I think we had both expected to hear from Home Depot in advance of their delivery about how they intend to make good on the near-disastrous kitchen order but there have been no calls. We expect the cabinets to be delivered early next week. We are crossing fingers and toes!

Our intrepid ditch digger, Ron, came back to dig ditches for our water and gas lines. The water line has to be at least four feet deep so that it doesn’t freeze. With our rocky ground at the side of the lake, we were very lucky that we have Ron who found a few more big rocks but got us all dug out and ready. Of course, that meant that our driveway and most of the yard were a muddy mess when it decided to rain … and it rained sideways here … but Ned pulled out some of the boards that we’ve been keeping around “just in case” and made “bridges” so we could get in and out of the cabin and across the ditch to the new house.

IMG_5715After many false hopes, we finally found a well company that was willing to help us. We are so grateful for the successful “fracturing” job by Rolf’s Well Drilling and we are happy to report that we have lots more well water! And now we have a new pump in the well and the new water line is in place. We’re all ready (almost) to hook it up in the house!

The boiler is in the utility room with the storage tank. We still have to add a water holding tank to the mix. It shouldn’t take long to get the radiators in place on the second floor and the heating unit for the third floor and then we will be able to finish sealing the pine floors and ceilings. It’s too cold to do a good job without heat! (Although it may warm up again next week which would be perfect timing and we could open the windows to let the stink out!)

We’ve had some difficulty with Dead River Company coming when they say they are coming but we finally have the gas line in the ground and they are scheduled to return on Wednesday with our new 1,000 gallon tank and they’ll be able to hook us up if the heating equipment is ready. I’d hate to think about the phone call that I’ll make if they don’t show up as they say they will. I’m working double overtime to not stress over their rather poor record so far. I’m trying to trust the process and breathe.

Stair Treads

Stair Treads

We have been polyurethane-ing all the pine for the trim and stairs. That’s a lot of wood that needs two or three coats with a sanding in between! Both Ned and I have been “painting” and we are not done yet.

The wood floors are finished on the second floor (with the exception of the bathroom) and the third floor is almost there. Once the third floor floors are done, the ceiling will be done and then we’ll have more polyurethaning to do!

The concrete floor needs to be stained before our stuff can come out of storage. That will not be a difficult job but we need to clean the concrete thoroughly, “etch” it with something so the stain will adhere and then stain and seal it. We’ve picked our stain and are ready to go … when all the other pieces are in place.

Today Tom came out to put the deck at the entryway on the house. We officially have a front step. Yay!

Our outside lights and two of the three kitchen pendants are in the house waiting for the electrician to get them hung. It’s bizarre to walk into the house and have lights on! We’ve ordered the balance of the outdoor fixtures and the ceiling fans and they should arrive pretty soon. Once they’re all in, the electrician is pretty much done. We do need him to provide a hook-up for our new generator, too. I am hoping we never need to use it but when you’re at the end of a dirt road, in Maine, in the winter … well, suffice it to say, it’s required. Ours isn’t fancy but it should keep the refrigerator and boiler going and a few lights on!

Salvaged Flooring Resurrected as a Wall

Salvaged Flooring Resurrected as a Wall

Ned has finished the wall in the front entryway. These are the salvaged floor boards from the old house. They’ve all been sanded and will be sanded once more now that they’re hanging. We both loved the idea and we both love the result! A nod to those who have walked the floors in the past.

We have a move-in date of November 19th. A Thursday. And Ned’s younger daughter is coming for Thanksgiving. Not a minute to waste!

 

Slab Day is Here – An Update

Red Pex, Blue Foam Insulation ... in time for the 4th of July

Red Pex, Blue Foam Insulation … in time for the 4th of July

Last week the radiant heat pipes were set into the house. It was fun to see the grid of rebar and the red Pex pipes all in place. Air-tested, no leaks. I can’t wait to walk on them. We also met with a man who will be acid staining the concrete when the house is closer to being done. We’ve decided that we’d like to keep it simple and stain the concrete floors as they are. No tile or other for coverings are needed on the main floor. Upstairs we’ll have wood floors and baseboard heat.

We had the privilege of watching two bald eagles fly over our 4th of July picnic down the road. The first one landed in a tree by the house and we listened to the crows squawking and the eagle’s weak peeps. There was another big bird, too. The neighbors think it may be a golden eagle, we wondered if it was an immature bald eagle. But whatever it was, we all were thrilled to watch the big birds on Independence Day. And we’re all so glad that they’re living around our lake.

Yesterday Ned saw a big furry something in the lake. He took out the canoe to and found it was a dead raccoon. Bloated and stiff. What do you do with a dead raccoon? We didn’t want to let it rot in “our” lake. He buried it in the yard behind the boathouse. We’ve been having too much fun to blog.

We are making progress on the house, however! Today the slab got poured!

I marvel at the ability of the concrete truck drivers who can back their huge trucks down our challenging driveway backward with finesse. And the team of guys who, up to their ankles, can spread and smooth wet concrete with apparent ease. A real team.

The A Team (aka Arthur's Team)

The A Team (aka Arthur’s Team)

Arthur at Work by the lake. Ned watching and filming

Arthur at Work by the lake. Ned watching and filming

The pouring started at just a little bit past 6:24am this morning. Arthur our wonderful “cement guy” (my lovingly and respectfully coined phrase) was here bright and early to do whatever he had to do  and before I knew it, the rumble of the concrete truck could be heard. I had to get dressed for work quickly and grab my coffee so that I could go out and watch the big event. (I dressed so quickly that my underwear was inside-out!) It’s truly impressive to watch the team of men, concrete truck drivers, and Arthur’s team of five (including Arthur) in a time-proven process, communicating in nods and waves. A shovel-full here, half a barrel there and then making sure it’s all level and smooth. Sometimes with a machine and sometimes by hand. Amazing by my estimation.

Tonight it’s raining and will keep the slab cool and moist enough to slow the curing process and we’ll have a good, hard four-inch slab on which to build our house. I can’t believe that the next step is to raise some walls.

To my eyes, the house looks tiny. Tiny enough that Ned went out tonight to measure the slab. I’m happy to report that my eyes are wrong and it’s just the right size.

Woo! Hoo!

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.

Breaking Rocks Takes a lot of Time

We’ve been taking baby steps every day. Making slow but sure and noisy (VERY noisy) progress.

We discovered that under the old house there are lots and lots of huge boulders. Most not a big problem that can be shuffled around and used as fill under the new house. BUT because we’re on the edge of the most beautiful lake in Maine … or the world … we can’t blast it out and one rock (it was visible) is giving us a real fight!

The first day of drilling.

The first day of drilling … with the hand machine

The guys have been drilling by hand and then by machine for what seems like days and days. It’s noisy and slow going. But they’re making progress (as I watch huge chunks of granite being dumped into the yard).

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Big Drilling Machine June 3

Ned’s having a wonderful time. We have three big machines in the yard at any one time and he’s been known to climb into them, turn the key and move them around … and he has informed me that he’s in love with granite. Oh boy! (I’m smiling!)

Meanwhile, I’ve been working at my new part-time gig at the Yardgoods Center in Waterville. It’s a family business that has been in operation for 65 years! I’m working on the yarn side helping knitters, crocheters and countless other fiber and craft enthusiasts to find their next project. Or talking them through a sticky spot in a project. I’ve met some wonderful people and am having a blast! Yesterday was my first time alone in the store and I only had to call Joyce twice! (And Bette once!) I’m so pleased to have been asked to come on board this summer!

Ned had a birthday on 5/29. I wrapped his presents in matching Amazon boxes! We were going to go out to dinner but after drilling all day he asked to order pizza and stay in. I was happy to oblige with pizza and a freshly baked strawberry rhubarb pie from the “girls” at the Green Spot.

I am filled with gratitude for the hard-work being done in order to build our new home. I can’t wait to start seeing it go up! We live in Maine!

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

Movin’ On Up

The Guest House

The Guest House

We spent today working on getting our stuff up into the guest house which we will call home for the next several months. It sounds “fancy” to have a guest house on our property but it’s really not.

When I first came to Maine to visit Ned and his parents, his aunt and uncle were living in the guest house. Clyde and Emily spent many summers in the guest house. We can spend one there, can’t we? We have a bedroom on the left side, a living room on the right side, a bathroom (with a scary shower) in the middle and a little screened porch. We’ll put the old refrigerator in the woodshed for cold storage because we only have a tiny kitchenette with a tiny fridge and two electric burners (no exhaust hood). Cooking will be limited and baking will be nonexistent.

The electrician is coming tomorrow to set up our “temporary service” that will give us electricity in the guest house that will allow us to use our computers and space heater and coffee maker and hair dryer and microwave (etcetera). After he’s done, the cable guy will come back to put the cable in the cabin so we can have internet.

We had a visit from the tax assessor’s office today. A very nice gentleman with his sense of humor intact. Not sure what he could assess at this point, but …

We bought some pansies for our whiskey barrel today. Tomorrow I’ll get them planted. It always feels more like home when there are flowers!

Meet Elliot

A Beautiful Messalonskee Day!

A Beautiful Messalonskee Day!

It’s a beautiful spring day here on Messalonskee!

We met with (the incredible) Elliot Thayer this morning. Elliot is our surveyor and he’s been a most wonderful help with the entire permitting process, walking us through it step by step. Today we were discussing our “special” case and how the frost wall and slab for our new house will work. Because we are so close to the lake, we have to take (and want to take) all sorts of precautions. The first of which will be to build a berm all around the construction site to keep the silt and run-off from going into the lake. We’ll take delivery of 16 yards of wood bark mulch and some rock to mix with it to build the berm and then the backhoe will place it all around the site.

We were given Elliot’s name last summer and when we met him we knew he was “our guy”. While the initial fee was a bit shocking, we are so grateful to have him in our corner and I’m quite sure that we’d be nowhere close to where we are without him. And, on top of it all, he’s a really nice man.

Elliot called the roads department after he left us and he says that the posting on our road will be removed on Sunday or Monday. Then we can really start to make headway! We also have to get a permit from the DEP for the demolition. Elliot is going to work on that.

Day Lilies

Day Lilies have doubled in size since yesterday!

The birds were all over the yard this morning. gold finch, yellow rumped warbler, and several others. The feeders were active and it was a brisk 49 degrees.

This afternoon we got the better part of the yard raked and ran a bunch of errands. (I now have a bank account in Maine! Woo! Hoo!) The perennials are popping up all over the  yard. It’s such a thrill to see the plants come back year after year. I’m looking forward to adding to the perennials this summer and planting bulbs in the fall so we can see them come up next spring.

Baby steps. Every day there is progress!

Picture of the Day and the Critters

Picture of the Day 4/30/15

Picture of the Day 4/30/15

Last summer when we were here, I posted a picture of the day on my Facebook page. It began as a reminder for me that this place was special and beautiful and alive with change. I could stand at the same spot on the porch and take a different picture every day. Amazing!

Also amazing, was the reaction that I got. People commenting on the beauty of the place, the view, etc. There were some who even made me promise that I’d do it again this summer and those who commented regularly about missing the pictures once we had returned to Florida.

Well, I’ve started it again and I am reminded that this place is different. I’m not sure what it is that keeps pulling us here and what makes us so much more aware of our surroundings, but I feel like this is my church. A place where I can go outside (or just lie in bed in the morning) and listen to God speak to me through the loon calls, the wind, the rain on the roof or the trickle of the stream. There is only one other place where I’ve felt like this and it was (coincidentally?) also in Maine at my summer camp. It was a special, spiritual place, too. Perhaps because I was authentically myself there and without the strong arm of my parents? Whatever it is or was, it makes this place  very special and it truly feels like home.

IMG_4580This morning we saw our “critter” swimming up the lake. We’re still not sure if it’s the same critter all the time or what it is. We know we have a beaver dam up the lake so it may be a beaver. We also have seen a muskrat family who was living in/around our boathouse. We’ve seen smaller critters, too, on the other side of the house that we thought were minks but we think they were actually something else. Our critter is difficult to identify at a distance when it’s swimming.

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Today we had a propane delivery so we are truly cooking with gas. The water pump is fixed (don’t ask how the acorns got into the water pipes!) and we have hot water and plenty of it. Ned’s been outside cleaning up the yard and cleaning out the garage so we can store the furniture from the big house during construction. He also hopes to get the water to the guest house working. Monk loves being out in the yard but today he’s tied up so he can’t take off like he did yesterday. The littles are inside barking at the leaves blowing. That’s enough outdoors for them.

My goal today is to clean the guest house and to do some baking. Since we won’t have an oven once we’re in the guest house, I want to use up the flour and other supplies that we brought up from Florida … waste not, want not! (That’s my dad speaking! LOL)