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.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Loose Ends and Erosion

I really need to find time to update more often! We’re still busy chasing loose ends to tie up, but I imagine that’s a never ending process. We lived in the Old House for 15 or so years and never ran out of them. Hopefully as time goes by, we’ll find fewer and those we do find are more fun. Like replacing plants that disappear over winter. Which has been an issue this year. Last winter was an old fashioned uphill both ways in 10 feet of snow type winter, and despite a generous amount of patience which is completely against my character I have found no evidence of the return of several key plants from the front garden. For some reason, it seems my favorite local nurseries didn’t have the two I most wanted to replace-Agastache and Butterfly Weed. Now I have some uneven holes in that garden. In addition, the bee balm got REALLY tall to try to compete with the bacopca and made a big green blob between the holes so it looks even worse.  AND the one day lily, the yellow one, shrank along with most of the lavender (that was winter die off, I have no idea why the daylily clump is not only smaller but it's also not nearly as tall as usual). So, I’m not sure this year’s photo update of the front garden will be a super awesome "even better than last year" follow up. Sigh. I’ll try to fill in with some things I can split and maybe next year I can find something to plop in there. I am going to try to start a new Butterfly Bush or two from existing plants that made it (we lost a lot of those too) to fill in where bicolor and purple emperor left holes this year at least. I might not get many (if any) flowers from new starts but at least it won’t be a blank spot!

I just spent the better part of three hours weeding, watering (because as a follow up to a cold winter with lots of snow we are now HOT and dry with a steady wind) and moving plants. looks about the same. UGH. Maybe I won't post pics of the front this year!

Here's the garden where the $8 birdbath ended up instead!

Last weekend we went to some open houses and saw a stark reminder of what life on the South Shore of Lake Ontario is all about. It’s a peril every structure here will face at some point and there’s not much we can do about it (including buying insurance, which is not available). We purposefully bought a home that wasn’t too close to the shoreline, even though it was a compromise on view. This is why.

We spoke to the neighbor, this all happened this past winter and spring. The realtor didn’t bother showing up for her own open house, we are guessing the biggest chunk fell recently and she figured it wasn’t worth it. Surprisingly, a lot of this isn’t from lakeside erosion (although that also causes a few feet of loss a year). It’s from groundwater erosion. We’re putting in (more) drainage to help slow this on our property, but unless everyone along the shore does it, it’s a hard battle to fight.  Even the drainage won't be enough to save our old Apple Tree.  I'm looking out the doors at it silhouetted against the lake as I type.  I'll miss it dearly.  We figure between lake side erosion from the water beating our bluff and groundwater erosion under washing the topsoil as it runs along the top of the clay layer it has about 2-3 years, maybe at best 5.  It's just too expensive to put in a stone revetment.  Back in the 70's there was a grant to put in shoreline erosion control, I wish the folks that owned the place than had taken advantage of it!

Our tree back in 2010 when we first "found" the Cottage, before it was even for sale on the MLS (so about a year before we made the offer to buy it).  It was the only photo I took when we walked down to check it out from our rental (about 6ish houses away) after a real estate agent told us to look and see if we'd be interested since he knew the owner planned to sell.

The bluff has eroded back about 10' since this photo was taken :(