March 26, 2012 § 1 Comment
Last week was absolutely spectacular here. Daytime high temperatures were hovering around 70 degrees; the sun was shining; birds were chirping; and seeds were sprouting. This week it’s back to typical March weather. Although the sun is still shining, the wind has whipped up, and the temps have dropped. It’s pretty bitter cold out there today. So let’s think spring.
On Thursday, Boogie and I took a short drive over to Reid State Park for our first visit of the year. We weren’t the only ones. The Mile Beach parking lot was almost full, and there was a crowd on the beach. And, of course, several hardy souls were actually jumping around in the surf. We walked the entire length of both Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach, then rounded Todd’s Point, and walked across the marshes to get back to the car.
I just have to say I love Reid State Park. I think it should be a contender for Most Beautiful State Park in America. The combination of two long sandy beaches with the rocks and pine trees is beautiful. There are wetlands and dunes and lots of shore birds. But to top it all off, there is a great snack bar that’s open in the summer and actually sells tasty hot food, ice cream, sodas, and all the typical stuff you’d want to eat at the beach. There are tons of picnic areas tucked in among the trees and clean bath houses. Away from the beach, there are lovely hiking trails through the woods. This place is perfection.
Anyway, I took my new camera along for a test run. It’s a tiny little Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS.
And, speaking of the new camera. Earlier in the week, we had a lovely walk along the Ledgemere Road, and I took a few pictures.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it out to any Sugar Shacks for Maine Maple Sunday. This has been a bad year for maple syrup because of the early spring. Maple trees like cold nights and warm days in order to start making sap, and we’ve had warm days and nights too early. On top of that, the weather on Sunday was dreadful, and we had a project to finish. So we jettisoned the plan to drive through the Maine countryside sampling syrup. Maybe next year.
December 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
Katy and I had a great, although way too short, trip to Five Islands. The house was in good shape, with only slight evidence that a mouse had been nosing around in our stuff. We met with Bob on Friday morning and firmed up the plans for the construction, which starts Monday. More on that in the next post.
Five Islands is quiet in December, but not completely dormant, much to my surprise. The few full-time residents in the village have their Christmas lights up and it’s very cheery. During the day, the local lobstermen’s trucks fill the parking lot at the pound, evidence that the hard work of bringing in the catch continues, just further out at sea apparently. On Friday morning, Katy and I saw only two lobstermen out on Five Islands’ little harbor. The main catch is out in the deep ocean this time of year. Heidi, who runs the little gourmet farm stand, was open on Saturday, selling wreaths and other lovely stuff. I think next weekend will be her last until spring. Carroll was at work in his boatyard and there were some construction projects going on around the village. Practically bustling.
If there was ever any doubt that Five Islands would be just as beautiful in winter as in summer, let me assure you that it is every bit as stunning (see above). When we woke up on Saturday morning it was snowing. A perfect Maine winter morning (thankfully, the snow didn’t stick since we had to get back to Manchester for our 4:30 flight). Our neighbors, the Tharps (who we have yet to meet), live on the water side of Lewis Road. Since they have decamped for Florida for the winter, we strolled down to the water’s edge to soak up the view. Here’s Katy on their dock (thanks Tharps).
We had time for a stroll around Old Schoolhouse Road before cleaning up and heading out. First we stopped at the pound, all shut up tight for the winter.
The view from the dock doesn’t change much. Same old lobster boats.
Same little islands.
Same rocky coast line.
We passed by what used to be a little store selling antiques (I think. We never actually went in before they shut down). I’m thinking this could be an ideal location for Robert’s restaurant. It’s right across from the cemetery and a little down from the Georgetown Community Center, very central.
We met a local dog out in front of the boat yard that’s run by our old friend Carroll (no, he still doesn’t recognize me even though I’ve introduced myself several times and he once witnessed my and Robert’s humiliation as a lobsterman had to tow us back to shore after our maiden Maine voyage on our sailboat, a long story for another day). Anyway, this dog had a jaunty orange bandanna and was keen to accompany us on our walk.
A guy working on one of our neighbors’ houses knew the dog, Grey, and assured us that he has a home. We soon realized that all the local hounds were sporting the same bandanna, the better to avoid getting shot by a hunter apparently. Aaaa, the joys, and perils, of country living.
Oh, and we spotted our mailbox. How did we buy a house and not know we have a mailbox and where it’s located? Search me. There it is in the middle of the line up, #35.
On the way up 127, we stopped to snap a picture of the boathouse along the side of the road at the Back River.
I’ll write a separate post about the work we started on the house. It involved a sledge hammer and flying debris, very exciting.
There were a few dining highlights to mention. We flew into Manchester, NH, on Thursday and drove the 2 hours up to Five Islands. On the way, we stopped in Wells, ME, for a spot of lunch at Billy’s Chowder House. We both agree: 2 thumbs up. I had the Half & Half Platter, that’s half fried clams and half fried oysters along with fries and cole slaw (light!). I started with the house specialty, the clam chowder, of course. It was all delicious. And the view out over the marshes of Wells is fabulous.
On Friday evening, we went up to Bath for dinner at Solo Bistro. This is becoming one of my favorite restaurants in the area. I had the miso marinated black cod and Katy had the lobster risotto. Again, 2 thumbs way up. Especially good was the pumpkin tart with a homemade marshmallow brule. On the way back to Manchester on Saturday, we had time to squeeze in one more tasty meal at Duck Fat in Portland. This place works magic with the panini machine and the french fryer. I had the bacon, tomato, and goat cheese panini and Katy had the turkey, cheese, and cranberry jelly panini. One more time, 2 thumbs up!
Stay tuned for more details on the transformation of 35 Lewis Road. And keep those name suggestions coming!
September 25, 2010 § 2 Comments
Well, we seem to be moving towards a resolution of the well problems. The sellers are having their attorney do up a shared well agreement. The well seems to be free of e.coli and coliform bacteria, although I have to admit that I am nervous about the fact that our home inspector’s test came back positive for both. We’re thinking about having one more test done the week before closing, just to be sure. On the other hand, the seller’s agent says that the people at 37 Lewis Rd are drinking water from the well and have not gotten sick. Perhaps I should just relax and have some faith that the sellers wouldn’t intentionally sell me a house with a bad well, especially since their tenants are drinking from the same well.
I hope that by next week we’ve got all the water stuff out of the way. Then the mortgage process can proceed. We’re hoping for a closing date of October 18. That would allow us to drive up to Maine for the closing and stay a few days in order to meet with the builder, do a bit of yard clean up before winter, and get other odds and ends taken care of.
We met with two contractors in Maine. They both gave us estimates for the work we want done. Both higher than we can go, of course. One was much more detailed, but quite a bit higher priced. Honestly, I just have a good feeling about one of them. And even though he hasn’t given us a super detailed estimate, he’s been very honest and shared a lot of ideas for how he thinks we should proceed with a renovation on a tight budget. I’m going to call his references this weekend and, if all goes well, I think we’ll move forward with him next week. That means we drill down and get a much more detailed plan and budget and then make a contract for the work.
Realistically, I think the first phase of work will be mostly on the outside of the house (we builder types call that the “envelope”). We’ll get the upstairs dormered, install some windows, new roof, new shingles and new trim throughout. Then, if there’s anything left, we’ll likely get the downstairs bath done. I’m trying to think creatively about how to spiff up the current kitchen, perhaps painting the cabinets and getting a new countertop, but keeping the layout and appliances for now. It’s going to have to last for a few years.
I’m away from home this week, in New York City for work. I’m staying in someone’s apartment rather than a hotel, which I found through a short term rental broker called NY Habitat. Anyway, the apartment is cheaper than a hotel by quite a bit. But it is amazing. It’s on Park Avenue South at the corner of 24th Street, so I’m a stone’s throw from Madison Square Park, my favorite city park. And there is a cute cat who lives in the apartment whose name is Gogo. So it’s like I have my own NYC pet. The apartment is roomy enough that there is a grand piano in the living room. The upshot is that I don’t have access to any recent photos of the house or Five Islands (or Cinco Islas as mi maestro de espanol says).
So, I thought I’d include some photos of Five Islands from years past to give you a sense of why we love it so much. So here you go. Nothing much changes around there, so this is what it looks like now too. The picture at the top and the one below are of the harbor, one in sun and one in fog. Some mornings the fog is so thick that you can’t see the harbor at all. You just hear the seagulls shreaking and the buoys clanging.
Above is the village beach. It’s probably a 10 minute walk from our house, down a pretty little lane, Ledgemere Rd. We call it mosquito beach, for obvious reasons. But you can’t love Five Islands unless you’re willing to embrace the Deet. There is a little bit of sandy beach and a long stretch of rocky shoreline starts here. You can put in a kayak, walk on the rocks, or just relax and gaze at the islands or the lobster pound in the distance.
Now, if you want to go to a real beach, you need to go about 3 miles up the road to Reid State Park. One of the Maine coast’s longest and most beautiful sandy beaches is here, as well as a lagoon which is very tranquil and a bit warmer for swimming. There are hiking trails as well. We’ll get a park pass for the house each summer so that our guests can go to the park any time.
But, perhaps the most special thing about Five Islands (only half kidding) is the Five Islands Lobster Co. This place is routinely mentioned in the press as one of the best lobster pounds in Maine. You can get a lobster roll or a variety of sandwiches, fried baskets, etc. in the Love Shack (that’s the brown building in the foreground). Or, you can get your lobster steamed and served with drawn butter, corn, and all the fixins at the pound next door (red building). There’s an ice cream window across the way.
This little dock is also the home of the local fisherman’s cooperative. So the local lobstermen store their lobster pots and bait on the dock and they bring their catch in here. You can go down and meet the fishermen on the dock in the early afternoon and buy your lobster right off the boat at a reasonable price. If you stay close to the pound, which we have the last couple of years, you can hear the college kids who work there in the summer calling out the order numbers all afternoon, “ORDER NUMBER FIFTY FIVE PLEASE. NUMBER FIFTY FIVE PLEASE.” Luckily, Lewis Rd is just far enough that you can’t hear the action, but you can walk to it in five minutes.
So that’s downtown Five Islands. Everything you could want in a home away from home.