Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Pit and The Patio

Forgive me Edgar Allen Poe for my interpretation of your great work with this title but our late fall project has been to put a patio on the far side of the Lodge. After spending a couple years hauling rocks from as far away as Bowdoinham where we were able to get them from the old barn foundation of a good friend of my sister's, we had accumulated enough to build a retaining wall around the perimeter of the patio and to build it several rows higher around the fire pit area to provide seating for those marshmallow or weiner roasts. Knowing that it would be far more difficult to gather the large flat stones we needed for the floor of the patio, we opted to buy two pallets from N.C. Hunt Lumber at a cost of $250 each. That made me appreciate all the hard work of gathering even more! We will build a pergola against the building on which will grow our wisteria vine and will move the grill up onto the patio along with the stainless storage cupboard we have had for several years. We were able to buy a couple of large cement planters at end of year clearance at Lowe's allowing me to bring plants onto the patio without covering up the rocks. We opted for individual cushions along the stone wall allowing everyone to grab one and claim their spot around the fire. One of the best parts of it all is that the "plain side" of the Lodge finally has the pizzazz it deserves.

A Blast from the Past

We recently reconnected with some dear old friends; Brandy and Doug. We have been friends since the 70's and despite our careers and families getting in the way of actually spending much time together for the last 15 or so, once we got together the time melted away and it was like not a thing had changed. I often think that is what is the best sign of a "true friend". I am blessed to have several people in my life for which I can say the same. Owning a small business makes vacation time difficult and then when you factor in desires to see one's own grown children when you do have that precious little time, it makes it even MORE difficult to see dear friends.

I put this reflection on this blog because as you see in the picture, they are the family we always came to the land where Oak Hill Lodge now stands to harvest our families' Christmas trees each year. Brandy would always make hot chocolate for the kids and a delicious buttered rum for we adults. What fun! I see this picture and it all comes back to me. As time went by and lives got more hectic as the children went to school and got involved in a host of other activites, we eventually abandonned our much loved tradition and went our separate ways for our trees. I got involved with The Festival of Trees, and made the donation to purchase my tree after the festival was over. Those trees were farm raised and put the ones we used to get at the field to shame, but looking back the loss of the fun of the hunt should have meant more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm No Bleeding Heart

...but I must say, the color of this wonderful trumpeter of spring is amazing in the early morning light as my hosta start opening their leaves around it. By the time it is her time to wither, Blue Angel and August Moon will have their time to show off their spectacular shades of green.

The Daffodils Bloom Just In Time

Easter is just around the corner and the daffodils and forsythia are just beginning to open. How exciting! We will celebrate Easter at the Lodge, with at least some of the clan and I am so thrilled that Mother Nature is cooperating, rewarding Eric and I for all the daffodils we placed in her ground last fall. It is rather like a "daffodil savings account" minus what the chipmunks and voles may find.... every year we add at least a couple hundred more bulbs and the ones that were already planted multiply (the interest) so that each year the show they put on is more and more spectacular!

Spring at the Lodge-2011

Ahh, the smell of mud, the blooming of the daffodils...that last patch of icy snow on the far side of the field where the shadows of the pines let it survive far beyond the temperature readings should allow. Ever so slowly, the hostas send up their pointy shoots, promising the large leaves July and August will bring. A wonderful time of year, full of life, full of surprises, full of GREEN! There is much work to be done. Branches to clean up from the winter's storms, or that need pruning as the weight of the snow has trained them to lower the canopy we work hard to maintain over the hosta bed. There is fertilizing to be done, edging the plant beds, and lots of fine tune cleaning between the emerging perennials. Of course, there are also the obligatory visits to my favorite nurseries and to Fedco's Tree Sale as well as the frequent arrivals of mail order boxes of harder to find delights to add to my gardens. Ahhh, spring....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Up Here!

Brrrr, weather report is for sub-zero temps at night this weekend and only up into the single numbers during the day! Well, it is late January, and it is Maine. This means that work at the Lodge will be confined to the basement until temperatures become more reasonable. It hardly makes sense to try to heat up the entire building which takes the best part of a day to do, only to have one day of warmth when there is plenty to do in the basement which hangs in there at around 34 degrees no matter what the outside temps. A little space heater to occassionally warm the fingers and we are good to work.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Allen Family Christmas Snow

Although we had a magical snow just a week before Christmas, we had a warm rain before the big day actually arrived. This took most of the snow away for "Real Christmas". It didn't matter too much because we had the forecast of snow on the 26th which was to be the Allen Family Christmas... and it was not to start until after all the kids had arrived safely at the Lodge. I was secretly hoping it would be an even bigger storm than it turned out to be so we would all get snowed-in! I took this photo just before dark. It looks like Mother Nature is decorating with Christmas balls of her own! We got another 8-10 inches giving us the chance to romp in the snow the next morning. It was a bit much for the kids who were not so fond of sledding despite Dad and Grandad making an excellent snow ramp down the Lodge stairs... and not so fond of trying to walk in snow up to their crotches.... They got a crash course in snow angels then it was down to "high ground" in the playhouse until fingers began to freeze.
Even The Nursery was decked out for the holidays! Although I much prefer the look of green plants in the greenhouse and green plants in the raised beds... this was a beautiful sight. One of my goals in outside decor is to do more that is visible from inside the Lodge. When I was a "City Mouse" it made some sense to decorate for all the passerbys. Now that I am becoming a "Country Mouse" I have to ask myself how many people will get to see the Christmas lights. With outlying garden beds, I have a great opportunity to add lights which I can view from the nice warm confines of the Lodge which will give both passerbys and Lodge guests a better show. Warning: this may mean some additional electrical boxes are needed.

Christmas at the Lodge- 2010

We were blessed with two wonderful Christmasses this year! We celebrated with Vanessa, Drew and Lawson on the 25th and with the entire clan on the 26th! Our 18 foot tree provided the perfect centerpiece for the family to gather around and with all the presents, the girth of the tree was a very good thing. Eric and I will remember actual Christmas as the Year Christmas Came in a Matchbox.... car that is! I was lucky enough to find a deal on about 30 matchbox cars at the MMHL sale which made their way under the tree all individually wrapped and kept Lawson busy all day long unwrapping them. The amazing thing was that he immediately knew they were for him by the size alone... and he would go and get the next one anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour after opening and appreciating the last. It was both heartwarming and a real testament to the art of "slow gift opening". The next day, with so many gifts to open, that luxury was impossible to duplicate! What a pile of presents! It was an entirely different kind of fun... a wild, confusing, but yet a wonderful kind of fun. A kind of fun that is fleeting... as children grow, as lives change... as circumstances may not always allow us to capture. I think back to the chaos of Christmasses when the girls were small. It always brings a smile to my face and as funny as it may sound, I really missed it... but now it is back! The main "mistake" I made was Christmas Dinner. We had munched most of the afternoon and it had been a huge day. Everyone was tired by the time I got dinner to the table... and dinner was too big and too complicated; roast beef and lobsters for the main course. Peighton wanted desperately to go to bed, Lawson needed to get on the road back to his house, Alexa was holding on by a thread, and Adelle just plain fell asleep in her dinner! A new game plan will be in affect for next year! But, as I lay in bed preparing to drift off to a much deserved rest, I found myself being so thankful to my girls, their families, and my Mr. Eric for giving me such a wonderful holiday.

The Guardians of the Lodge

Our faithful friends who travel up to the Lodge each time we do, just as excited to be there as we are. They run the field, sniff the woods, hunt for chipmunks, throw sticks in the air and play fetch with themselves... and just plain add a lot of joy to our lives. We love and appreciate them each and every day.

Flashback to Fall

I love this picture of Nutshell... and even so it was taken at Thanksgiving prior to the last post, I just want to put it in as a "pat on the back" to Eric and I for having started this project long before it would have appeared to be necessary. Particularly, Lawson and Alexa, just love it! Both at Thanksgiving and even Christmas, Nana played with each of them until fingers began to get too cold. Then, thanks to laundry baskets and sleds, we simply piled the toys up and shuttled them up to the Lodge. Not quite the same as playing at Nutshell, but much warmer!

Winter Comes to the Lodge

Just before Christmas we got a beautiful 8" snowfall. Bath only got an inch or so, but Nobleboro was blanketed. We had hung the lights the weekend before, so I was all set to take some pictures!

Thanksgiving at The Lodge

The way time goes, Thanksgiving is a bit of a blurry memory, that is
for sure, but I was hoping that the family photo would not represent that! UGH!
The turkey is far sharper than the "flock of turkeys" I really wanted you to see. We had a wonderful time and were really blessed to have the Mulligans as guests. I am glad they are familiar with large family broohas, so it didn't come as too much of a shock to dine with our
family! There were so many things to be thankful for this year, from weddings to beautiful Baby Peighton, to three other bright, beautiful and healthy grandbabies, to my wonderful husband, to a good year at the print shop, to more gardens added, to seeing some wonderful family and dear friends throughout the year... well, the list goes on and on. But, one of the main things I was thankful for is the beautiful finish on the Lodge floor! Hallelujiah!

Ready, Set.... Well, at least we're ready!

This fall, we managed to complete, (minus a couple trim boards) the driveway end of the Lodge peak. We did the opposite end in time for Erica and Casey's wedding, but this one was of less importance so we waited until fall. Although we have already done a fair amount of research on zero clearance wood burning fireplaces, we have decided that such a big expense, around $8,000 without the chase built, deserves more consideration, so we backed off our big push to get it in for this heating season. We have left the open area ready to build the chase as soon as our decision seems right. We are now discussing the "Mud Room" entryway we wish to put on this end, to help with the blast of cold which enters the Lodge each time the center front door is opened. We hope to also get that underway next summer. In the meantime, we will just enjoy... no more "tinfoil"... insulation showing on the building!