Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gypsy Rose Lee

Thirty years of litter box duty and a son-in-law who is allergic to cats, had my mind made up that we would not be getting any more felines in the family. However, the Lord had a different plan for us. In the seven years at Oak Hill, we have never once seen a cat in the area. Last Tuesday morning, as I walked across the front deck, this tiny, guess to be 10-12 week old kitten bounds out from under the deck to greet not only me but both of the dogs with not the slightest trepidation. She made herself so much at home, she followed me from garden to garden as I did my early morning watering, sat just outside the curtain as Eric took his shower, and rubbed her head on the bottom of Guiness' chin as if it were her mother. As we were off to Bath to open the shop that morning, I left her with some dog kibble and asked her to go find where she came from, but two days later when we returned, there she was, guarding the Lodge and waiting patiently for our return. Again she endeared herself by being constantly at our heels, so after a brief hesitation, I was off to buy cat food and a litter box. Our "Gypsy" will stay as long as she cares to, but by the looks she has found her permanent home.

McEwan, Hound of the Hill


Gardens Are Bountiful!

Despite a lack of rain in July, the gardens are especially beautiful this year. They have reached maturity and I have learned what does or does not work in certain locations and have moved things to accommodate their needs. Notice the field shot without the "hump"... a real joy to see, though lots of hard work to get it that way. The vegetable garden is doing very well although I struggle to keep it well-watered, which delays or stunts the yield I am able to achieve. When life allows, we will install the irrigation system that Eric gave me for my birthday a couple years back, and thay will be a tremendous help. In the meantime, there is plenty of lettuce, a good crop of tomatoes have started and some gorgeous purple peppers. The pole beans are just budding, so they will be a late crop this year. We had a good crop of peas and I have dug a couple of my potato plants, giving me a dozen or so good size red potatoes. Don't think I'll get the winter provisions from my efforts, but there is something very special about the process of raising your own food.  I planted the asparagus patch this year, particularly important to enter in this blog as it is not until the third year that I can harvest anything, and I am sure to forget its planting date!

The Perogla

The far end of the Lodge has been undergoing major upgrades since last fall when we laid the rock making our patio and firepit area. We added a garden along the foundation which I filled with hosta divided from Raymond Court and which were previously from my Dad's garden on Riverview Drive. Though they aren't hostas that are currently in vogue, their sentimental value makes them special to me. We also strategically planted a wisteria vine last fall with the intent of building a pergola for it to climb on thus providing us with both structural interest and much needed shade on the patio. We spent many a Saturday morning during the winter looking at books and magazines trying to figure the best design, particularly for the ends of the roof joists. Oddly enough, the decision was made when we assembled the screenhouse as it came with supports that had a charming profile, proving to be the perfect pattern. Eric got all the various pieces cut and drilled the weekend prior, and we raised it this past Sunday. Lucky thing I might add, as the wisteria, once untangled, already reaches the roof. This weekend we will add the small cross pieces that will keep the roof beams from twisting and add more climbing opportunities for the wisteria. A quick coat of cedar stain and another project will be finished.

Another Shot of My Hostas

Photo taken by Jessica Frackelton - July, 2012

Oak Hill Images

From time to time I stumble upon these really great images that are so perfect for the Lodge. Pinterest has been a great source as I have found there are others out there with my acorn and oakleaf obsession. I am always shocked to find a larger number than you might think with entire boards devoted to our obsession. They inspired me to take the plunge and create a board of my own. Hesitant though I was at the thought, I quickly saw the value after perusing their boards ranging from 20+ to well over 100 images and like the spiderweb that Pinterest is, each one I found, led me to others I have yet to explore.

More Progress for the Screenhouse

Roof is all on, screens are all in, bugs are foiled... next step, shingle the roof, and really decorate the inside. I planted  Dragon King daylilies along the outside, a red daylily with yellow throat, with my Fernleaf  Buckthorn tree in the middle and a few hostas to break up the daylilies. I added some late summer color with Black Eyed Susans. The only new purchases were the Buckthorn tree which I had seen in one of the gardens on the hosta tour and the daylilies. The hosta and rudebekia were divided from plants I already have. I was very excited to find the tree at Skillin's as its leaf structure is more like a houseplant than a tree you would see in Maine. A trip with Vanessa to my favorite material store, Fabric Warehouse proved very successful. I am on their e-mail list, so knew they had their remenant pieces of drapery/upholstery on sale from $6.98 to $3.98, but to my surprise the clerk informed me they were marking it to $1.98 to reduce their stock! 46 YARDS of material later I was leaving the store just $100 poorer! My mission had simply been to get material, around 12 yards, for the screenhouse. I wanted that much as I have high hopes of building a "Passion Pit" like the one we used to have at Raymond Court. It is just a large round bed-like structure suspended from posts, made of stretched canvas topped with a huge cushion and tons of pillows. It would take a lot of material if I can pull it off, so I wanted to get lots. I also wanted to get waterproof canvas to make covers for the patio woodpile, the patio cushions and the grill. The covers you can buy often times have that flannel backing which really attracts mice as they love to use it for nesting, and generally either don't hold up very well or are very attractive. Well, given the sale price I was able to not only accomplish those two missions, but I also got material to redo all the front deck cushions when the spirit moves me, and the deck cushions at the cottage, and cover the teak bar at the cottage! Hugely successful! So, oil up that sewing machine and hit the foot pedal! I have yards to go before I rest.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Baa Baa White Sheep

The new garden wagon/grandchildren buggy.
 Thanks to a dear friend of Patti's and now of ours, Jack... we were able to purchase a lawn tractor which had put in years of service and had therefore finally dropped its mowing deck. It was a faded orange as it was a Husquavarna tractor, but soon after it arrived at Oak Hill, it was sporting a shiny white coat of paint,and I was fashionning a head out of a piece of wood to turn her into a sheep! Complete with a fleece upholstered seat, she is ready to haul the garden implements, the loam, the compost or whatever else may need hauling... but especially anxious to give rides to the grandchildren! Before she even had her head I had a fun time giving tours of Oak Hill with them in the trailer, until we stopped at the Root Cellar Pub and Gran came and stole the tractor with Jess as an accomplice. We chased them all around the field trying to get our wheels back! Not sure whether the kids or the grown-ups were having more fun!

The Screen House

Cocktails anyone? No skeeters invited!

With a huge help from Jess and Pete's donation of the entire framework for the new screenhouse at the Lodge, we are making every effort to outsmart the skeeters. The firepit works wonderfully, but when the temps sore into the 80's the fire makes for an awfully sweaty evening! Daring once again to attempt the classic hip-roof... which in our case is always a bit less than classic. We used the pressure treated we had used for Erica & Casey's wedding's for the base, (we had purchased the stock for a dance floor with this in mind). The pillars were all enclosed in the tremendous crate that Pete had built and hauled all the way up to Maine for us with all the metal framework, the screen panels and the doors. The hardest part was to reconfigure what had once been a rectangular 3-sided, up against the side of a house, porch into a free-standing square structure. Thank heavens for graph paper! Since the screen panels were two different sizes, they had to be placed with narrower ones with wider ones in some sort of pattern that at least made it look like we knew what we were doing. This required us to figure "filler boards" to make the sides long enough to match the railing length, which of course didn't really work either so had to be cut and fitted between posts. We were really lucky to come out only about 3 feet short in railing pieces and had plenty of spindles to recycle. So, the only actual purchases we had to make were the roof, the filler boards and a small piece of railing. We thought long and hard as to weather to keep it white or go to a more "Pam color", but decided that the white was nice what with the greenhouse and the raised beds being in such close proximity. The colors for the inside will be dependent on a trip to Fabric Warehouse, and the selection of fabric I make to cover the cushions.