Saturday, August 16, 2014

Naked Ladies at the cottage!

Bet that got your attention.  Before anyone gets too excited...I'm talking about flowers.  They are also known as Surprise Lilies or Resurrection Lilies and they are flowering now.  Their various names refer to the fact that the foliage dies back to the ground, then the bulb sends up a single stem that flowers.  They are pretty neat.  I got a few two years ago from the lovely lady that sent us home with a truckload full of hostas, day lilies and other plants.  Here's what they look like:

See, no leaves (please ignore the creeping charlie):

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Old houses and the search for a New Old House (part 1)

We are looking for another rental property. Pretty much any property within our budget range is going to be older and in need of some TLC, which is ok. What I didn’t expect was to find out that out there in the surrounding communities, there might be some drool worthy ones. If you’re not into old houses, you might want to skip this because I’m going to just go on and on about old houses. I have always been enamored with old homes. I mean OLD homes, not 1950’s homes (although I do like some of those too, obviously), like 1700’s and 1800’s homes. In particular, I’ve been a fan of Italianate and Greek Revival as well as Queen Anne for many, many years. And cobblestones, which aren’t an architectural style as much as a building material, however most have a Greek Revival-esqueness. I have to guess that only families with a number of children built cobblestones, just because the sheer number of little stones it takes to build one (I imagine they sent the kids out to the fields to pick stones).

 We did, in the past, before we found the Cottage, look at a Greek Revival. They are kind of plain when compared to Queen Anne or Italianate, but there’s something about the wide frieze boards and decorate covers on the small eve windows. Anyway, it was brick (I also really like old brick). And someone hadn’t cared for it well. One corner was coming apart, the mortar was missing and bricks were falling out. I love (old) brick houses but that is well above our skill level. I’d try repointing, but this was complete rebuild situation. So, no Greek Revival. Which in the end is ok since we love the Cottage (and the Greek Revival was NOT on the water).

We also looked at a cobblestone. OH MY GOSH what a neat building material. The inside wasn’t as neat as I expected and it wasn’t mortgagable. At this time, we think the family has abandoned the particular one we looked at. At the very least, no one lives there. Too bad. The taxes were really quite high on it too. Here's the Cobblestone:


More about cobblestones can be found here:

It is truly a beautiful building material and I have to say, one of my all time favorites.

Fast forward. We recently came across two properties that fit the Old House criteria, although one was not on my list of fav styles.

Property number one was a shingle Craftsman Bungalow. In just about original, if not well maintained, condition. Original wooden windows and storms, but missing all except two of the screens. Build ins and pantry in the kitchen. Original light fixtures and wallpaper. It wasn’t the most ideal area (train tracks), but the deal killer was the foundation. Cement piers, that had been undermined by water from a neighboring home (no gutters). Even if we fixed the foundation, the cause would remain. Nope. No go.

Property number two…oh my…a brick Italianate fourplex. It has a CUPOLA. And all that Italianate goodness in the form of pediments and brackets and…it’s under contract as a short sale. This is the Italianate. Drool.

Oh yeah, look at place. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Calmer waters, apples, flowers and a wooden boat

Not much time for writing so I'm a little light on words in this post, but they say a picture is worth a 1,000 of them! The lake was much calmer today.
When we walked down to watch the sunset, I looked up and noticed we're going to have a good apple season. All those apples pretty much confirms my theory that it's a Northern Spy tree, which have abundant harvests every other year when they grow older.
Looks like the wildflower seeds are coming in nicely. Mostly cosmos and coreopsis.
And a sneak peak at our boat. I love this little thing. It's a 1959.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Of gardens and great lakes

A few days ago we harvested a bit from the garden.  Some carrots, broccoli and REALLY long green beans.  Like, REALLY long.  24" or so long.  Yes, they taste like green beans.  We must have bought some crazy long bean seeds.

Today, I came home to this.  We had a big ole storm front come through last night and the wind hung around.  The Lake has a way of reminding us of the raw power it is capable of unleashing.  It's beautiful...

According to the NOAA near shore marine forecast, waves are 3-5' and there's a small craft advisory.  I'll tell you what, I'd not be out there in much less than a freighter!  And I didn't see any of those, so I checked's AIS map (which shows the locations of the freighters and some other boats and ships) and found the Algoma Harvester was downbound (headed toward the St Lawrence) not too far from us.  Of course, it's a 225 meter long ship.  Not like our little boat.  Yup, we've got a boat.  More about that to come.  We haven't even gotten it in the water.  Hey, every cottage needs a boat. Even better if it's an old wooden one, which ours is.  Right now we're wondering if the house we posted about a bit ago is still there (the one that was about 3-4' from the edge of the bluff).  There are pieces of a deck/dock/stairs stuck on our beach right now that don't belong to a neighbor of ours (and they aren't ours). It made us start thinking about where it came from, and then we started wondering about that house as we watched the waves crashing on another neighbors stairs.  We're going to check on that house sometime this week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I love our neighbors.  We are very lucky to have really great neighbors out here.  We have a mix of full timers and cottagers, which is just part of the unique way of life on the lake.  One couple shares baked goods, we give them produce from the garden.  She just gave us zucchini chocolate cake (tasted WAY better than it sounds like it might) in fact.

Anyway, we have great neighbors.  But this isn’t really about the neighbors here.  It’s about neighbors at the Old House.  We were recently talking about one of them, just briefly, and it made me think of how much I miss two in particular.  Both have passed on, sadly.  Lucy and Clarence. 

Lucy was hilarious.  She was born on February 29th, so she joked with us how she was getting close to her 21st birthday so she would be able to drink soon (as you may have guessed, Lucy was in her early 80’s).  She lived in a little house down the street and didn’t drive.  Her husband had passed away several years before and her kids didn’t live nearby, so she walked.  EVERYWHERE.  EVERY day.  She loved to talk.  She loved people. She loved gossip.  So if you wanted to know what was going on in the neighborhood, you asked Lucy.  Sadly we didn’t get even close to finishing our renos at the Old House before she was gone-we had promised her we’d give her the grand tour when it was done, since she was always interested in what we were doing around the place.

Clarence grew up in the house next door, never married, never moved out and he hated Lucy.  She talked too much.   He didn’t like women in general actually.  He confided in Mr Eclectic that he thought they were all lazy gossips that didn’t do much.  Except me.  He liked me, he told my hubby, because I did things.  I worked at a regular job, and helped with all the work on the house, AND I didn’t talk too much.  In return, he would leave me pussy willows in the mailbox on Dingus Day (if you don’t know about this fun Polish holiday, search it out on the web.  Fun stuff).  Clarence was quiet.  He was like a ghost.  I can’t count how many times he would walk over to check out what we were doing and scare the bejeebers out of us because we didn’t know he was there.  He wasn’t much of a talker, but he liked hanging around and watching us build stuff.  I’ll have to look, I think I snuck a photo of him one, watching the Terminex guy burn a bee hive out of our tree.  If something was going on that was interesting, Clarence would be there.

There really isn't a point here, except if you have great neighbors, treasure them!!  Well, and try to be one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I did it again.  I can’t help it.  It’s a compulsion.  There are more old doors here.  Only a few, and I did leave two behind (one old screen/storm that was missing the screen and storm-so it was basically a frame, and one storm without interchangeable glass and screens so it wasn’t very nice), so it’s a start.  AND, we actually had a reason this time (aside from my salvage addiction).  Our tenants in the Old House would like a screen door on the front (can’t blame them).  We would like a storm door on the front (to help protect the door threshold from snow buildup in winter).  We also didn’t particularly want a new one that wouldn’t match the place at all (it was built in the 20’s), and since it’s older, it’s taller than the new ones so we would have had to put in a filler piece (incidentally, the house had this same set up when we bought it and we took it out because we didn’t like the look).  So when I spotted a small stack of doors curbside we had to turn around and take a look (and I wasn't even late to work-this took place just this morning).  We grabbed a few of the great old wooden ones that have interchangeable screens and glass, and one interior wood  door with the handle.  We didn’t need the interior door, but it needed to be rescued-it’s a nice solid wooden door that looks to be from the 20’s or thereabouts.  Since we didn’t have a measuring tape with us we just grabbed all of the screen/storm doors in hopes one would fit the Old House.  Looks like one might!  There are some broken glass panes, but the local hardware place cuts glass so that’s no big deal.  I grabbed some screens but I think they are old window screens and not for the doors, there was a pile of old storms and screens off to the side (which I also left, thank you very much).  We should be able to recreate the wooden inserts though, we have the same doors on the Cottage to help guide us.

I don't believe I posted this photo before.  This was last summer.  No matter how many crazy problems we've had, there's something to be said for having this as your backyard.  We are truly lucky to call this little place home.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The garden, 2014

I've been hemming and hawing about posting this.  I am not altogether thrilled with the garden this year.  Some things got too tall and others died over the very cold winter.  But, it's that way for gardens across the country I guess.  I did finally find a butterfly weed, but it's on it's first flowering year so it's not very big.  No agastache though.  And it's going to be a few years before I can start enough lavender to fill in where the winter left holes.  I picked up an All Summer Beauty hydrangea to fill in one of the holes on the left side for $12.50 on sale at Home Depot.  That made me happy.  But even better was a small Forever And Ever Together hydrangea from Lowes for $17.  THAT made me REALLY happy.  It's really pretty, with neat double flowers.  But really it was the name that made it exciting to me.  I'm going to have to take care of this one.  Why?  Well, this year is our 20th anniversary, so this little beauty is in honor of our first 20 years and the many more to come.

I spent another few hours moving things and planting things before taking photos this year.  I even gave up on my hanging baskets because the wind up here this year just destroyed them-so I planted the scraggly remains in the garden to add some color, and in hopes that having their roots in the ground and other foliage around them might allow them to thrive a bit better.  I split the red lily because the clump got WAY big, and behind it was the extra tall monarda and bacopca.  I moved the really tall monarda, leaving the red and some shorter pink then added the butterfly weed and some petunias from one of the baskets. The hummingbirds LOVE the monarda, so even if it's tall, it has to be here somewhere.

Here's the new Forever and Ever Together Hydrangea!  I am thinking of trying to turn it blue.  I love blue hydrangeas!

So...*gulp*...without anymore are the photos, starting with year 1.

Here's a new bed we just created for some hostas.  I used to HATE hosta.  Then I found out they weren't just green or green/white.  So then they were ok.  THEN I saw hummingbirds nectaring on the scapes, then I decided I liked them.  The bricks are left over from laundry room, they make a neat old looking pathway.