Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween at Boootanicals!!!!

How do you combine a holiday which is meant to be scar, with little ones 2-1/2 or younger... with their short attention spans, early bedtimes and need for constant supervision???? Why... you take them to a late afternoon event at the Botanical Gardens in Boothbay! Grandad dresses as a beekeeper and Nana as a flower, so no one will be scared. Jess and Pete were Girl and Boy Scouts, (in the proper gender) and Lexi and Della were the cutest little Girl Scout Cookies you could imagine! Drew and Vanessa were characters from Curious George with Lawson playing the lead ... a very good part for the little monkey I must say! Kat and Pat were a Prince and Princess with Peighton as the dragon... surely the Prince will not slay this dragon! I still did the pumpkins... and made cupcakes for the "after-party"! It was a good transition from scary adult parties at the Lodge
to something much more "kid-friendly". We are already thinking of ideas for next year when the party returns to the Lodge.

Remembering to Look Around

Since we began building the Lodge, one of the things we have paid close attention to, was to make sure that we take the time to appreciate how far we've come. I think that is probably why we started the tradition of our "Cocktail Garden Tour" at the end of almost every working day from early spring until the snow falls. It gives us a chance to just admire how the gardens are coming along and to look up at the Lodge itself and admire how handsome it is with its seasonal plumage, be it daffodils and forsythia in the spring; beebalm and catmint in the summer; or mums and swiss chard in the fall. For the past five years, we have been so intent on getting projects done on the Lodge that we have not taken much time to visit our favorite haunts, such as Pemaquid Point. The photo was taken just at sunset and is just one of those moments you are lucky enough to capture in a picture that each time you look at it, you will know what a beautiful world exists beyond Oak Hill.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkinfest 2010

Jim and Paula's visit was the weekend after the Fourth Annual Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta. The creative pumpkins are really something to see and there are pumpkin catapults, car crushing pumpkin drops and even pumpkin boat races. The largest pumpkin this year weighed 1475 pounds and is the largest in Maine records. I am hoping that one of these years soon, I am able to design one of the pumpkins for display... one year when a three day weekend isn't planned with an enormous project such as sanding the floor!

So Glad to Meet You.... Again!

By our calculations, other than an all-too-brief time at Erica and Casey's wedding, the last time that my first cousin, Jim Hoffower and I saw each other, he was 14 or 16 (now 61) and I was five years younger (still am for that matter, hee,hee)! Through Uncle Bob & Aunt Marge, we were able to get back in touch through Christmas cards a number of years ago... and were lucky enough for him to accompany Uncle Bob, Scott (another first cousin) and Mary Beth (his wife of this year) to the wedding. Given the confusion of such an event, and the fact that his wife Paula was caring for her parents at the time and could not come to the wedding; we were so happy when he asked to come for a visit this fall. We had a great time getting to know each other and reminiscing about what we were able to remember of visits to Grammie and Grandpa's and tales of the Mills. Uncle Bob and friend Mike, with no knowledge of Jim's visit arrived the same weekend which gave us a mini-family reunion!

A Small Step on the Floor, A Huge Leap for Oak Hill Lodge!

Thanks to our little buddy, who worked so hard on the project, the Lodge now boasts beautiful pumpkin pine finished floors! A terrible job, and one of the last really disruptive projects we need to complete, we tackled the sanding on Columbus Day Weekend. Lawson was with us on Saturday, so as you can see, we put him right to work. He loved the absence of furniture and took full advantage of using the naked floors as a great place to race his trucks. I have been looking forward to putting this project behind us for a very long time and the impact was every bit as dramatic as I thought it might be, especially when we laid the orientals back down. The play of colors between the orangy tones of the floor with the red in the rugs is sensational, and makes me "ooooh" each time I admire it. We went up to the Lodge to add another coat of poly each night that following week until the four coats had been achieved. We had purchased most of the poly on clearance sales and realized how lucky we were to have done so as poly is now over $50 a gallon! I could not believe it! The rental of the large orbital sander proved to be a minor expense, costing us just under $100. This accomplishment allows us to finish off many projects that had been waiting their turn such as the rear wall, the bookcases and baseboards.

What will the Babies All Be?

What will they be?... what will they be?.... a little witch?.. a Bob the Builder?... a princess?... a bat?.... Or something really terrible, I can't imagine THAT!
Halloween is coming and Nana is beginning to wonder, just what will her little babies be????
They are all angels in my book, but something tells me they may surprise me on this day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shhhhhh, It's A Secret

Well, right now it surely is a secret, as the hedge plants which will hopefully one day form the walls of our Secret Garden are only two months old! One of the "Mail-A-Way" Nurseries was having a sale.... and you know both me with a sale and me with plants... not a good combination to bring about a lot of resistance on my part. I could purchase 100 privet hedge seedlings for only $42.00!!!!! Wow! When they arrived they were as promised between 8" and 12" tall, bareroot and dormant, thus having mostly just leaf buds... so it really looked like I had been suckered into buying just some kindling with hairy roots on one end. Full of hope, Eric and I staked out a fairly precise rectangle in the clearing behind Acorn Cottage and methodically planted each of the 100 sticks in their new home. Due to their small size and the fact we would need to mow the grass back there, we cautiously marked every third or fourth plant with a piece of hot pink marking tape to protect it from being either trampled or mistakenly "taken out" with the weedwacker. Now, privet hedge is reputed to be quite a speedy grower and after two months in the ground I am happy to report the rumors might be true as they are already covered with leaves and starting to branch. Our vision is to one day have a walled garden with a wooden door as an entryway, behind which we will place the statue of Bacchus, standing under an arbor mounded with grape vines, a small bistro table set in the foreground, quadrant raised bed gardens forming paths on which to walk through the secret space to sneak a refreshing glass of wine and a little romance.

One More Pic of the Peak

The Brave Bride takes a turn helping her Dad!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tying Up Loose Ends... Or Should I Say Shingling

Another major project on the Lodge got underway this weekend, giving new meaning to the name Memorial Day!
Siding and trimming the peak is difficult not only because of the height and danger involved, but the amount of figuring and 45 degree angle cuts (thank goodness they are ALL 45 degrees!). What with the print shop, we were unsuccessful at getting all our materials ahead of the weekend, so a large part of Saturday was taken up by that. Eric had put the staging up the previous weekend, but platforms had to be built on which to safely walk and we had to stain all the shingles and allow them to dry before they could be put up.
We decided to buy pre-primed wood, cutting a lot of time there. Thank you Pete, for your amazing offer to come and help on Saturday. We are so greatful and sorry that we could not get everything aligned, mostly cuz it would have been great to spend the day with you. Thank you Erica, Drew, Vanessa, and Chelsea for coming up on Sunday. Drew's help with the peak was tremendous as Eric has put me on restriction when it comes to ladder work, so I could not have been much help to him holding the lengths of trimboard. Drew you were the guy!!! I don't know if you are truly as comfortable with heights as you seemed, but many thanks to you. Vanessa and Chelsea were Mulching Maniacs...spreading an entire truckload in a matter of hours. This task made much more difficult be the fact that my plants are already very large. Mulching is a much easier task in the early spring. Meanwhile, Erica and I were the Staining Dept. Donning our latex gloves we tweaked a drying system as our prowess grew. By the time Chelsea and Vanessa were done with the mulch, they took over my position on the staining crew with only two more bundles of shingles to go.
I went to the painting of the interior of the greenhouse which needed its topcoat. During all this, we had Lawson to keep us entertained. He played for the longest time in a large tub of water and some of Nutshell Cottage's toys. The Mayer Clan stayed until suppertime and we are so grateful for their help. Erica had the misfortune of agreeing to spend the night with her goofy parents... so had no escape from our crazy work habits... although I think she may have ended up pushing US longer than we did her! We needed to cut the lawn and of course many more shingles needed to go up. Since Eric is rather protective of his mower, she declared that she was brave enough to go up on the staging and shingle! Up she went and was not satisfied until the two rows of done shingles multiplied all the way up to the bottom of the windows! She was definitely battling for the last glimmers of daylight before she was done.
After that, there was the obligatory Cocktail Hour... this evening held in the Greenhouse by candlelight. We had a review of Casey's Aunts, Uncles and cousins in a somewhat futile attempt to learn enough about all of them to speak to them in a familiar fashion at the wedding. Don't think my memory will serve me well enough for that! Then there were the manditory showers and a 10:30 supper hour... no surprise for the Allens! By days end, the tally was... all trim boards in place, 5 bundles of shingles stained, shingles in place up to windows, inside greenhouse painted and ready for scraping of glass, and gardens completely mulched! Amazing!
Thank you family, both those that were there and those that were cheering us on as we tackled one of the remaining "gee, this really isn't so much fun" jobs of the Lodge.
Monday morning, it was my turn to brave the staging. I wished to help with the painting of the trim. Two coats were needed to make the Essex Green (very dark green) cover the white primer. I also needed to hold the stepladder as Eric needed to be on it... on the plywood of the staging to reach certain spots of the trim. There were a couple of times I said "No, this does not feel good"... and afterall we are dealing with the ladder better known as "Killer" (referring to my 12' fall taken a year ago). As the sun came around the corner of the building, it provided a legitamate excuse to take a break and go up to Moose Crossing for those last "few" plants I wished to procure to finish Oak Hill gardens. Upon return with our "wayback" filled to the brim, Eric was exiled back to the staging, and I began to plant, and mow the edges of the lawn where only the push mower dare tread. I also gave the cedars and forsythias a much needed grooming.
Once again, we were collecting our tools in the dark and actually needed the flashlight to lock up the tractor shed and the Root Cellar Pub! Yet another typically late dinner for the Allens!

The Colors of Early Summer in A Late Afternoon Light

Ode to My New Garden Cart

Oh Garden Cart, Oh Garden Cart,
How easily thou dost wheel.
When loaded with my seedling flats
Safe inside your sides of steel.
Making trips both to and fro
A few less steps for me
When loaded to the brim with plants
Thou art a glorious sight to see.

Our Newest Arrival

Well, add one more cute as a button baby to the Allen Family Clan! While their Dad and I are busily working on the Lodge to prepare for the nuptials of Erica and Casey... the girls are busy giving us beautiful grandbabies! Peighton Muriel Mulligan was born on May 12, 2010 and is doing beautifully as are Mom and Dad. Can you imagine her with the other three in a year or two? Oh what fun they all will have!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Three of Our Favorite Guests

Christmas 2009 was one to remember at Oak Hill Lodge! We were so blessed to be able to celebrate on Dec. 25 with Vanessa, Drew, Lawson and Tuckerman... with Kat and Pat and Baby Bump arriving in the afternoon and Erica and Casey joining us in the evening. Then, as if that weren't amazing enough, Jess, Pete, Lexi, Della and Tugg and Lager all came on the 26th! It was truly wonderful! The wee little ones are just as precious as they can be... and our "little ones" and their hubbies, our new boys, are just something a parent needs to pinch themselves about just to make sure we aren't dreaming! There was even a lightly falling "Christmas Snow" on the 26th to give sparkle to all the winter gardens of Oak Hill Lodge.