A walk on the beach. . . in March!

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.


A walk in the woods

October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

We took a walk along the ski loop trail at Reid State Park with our friend Jeff a couple of weekends ago. It was a beautiful autumn day. We walked over to Mile Beach before heading home.

Gratuitous dog post: perfect day for a stroll on the beach

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today is absolutely perfect here in Georgetown. The sun is shining. The sky is perfectly blue and cloudless. The temperature is . . . I don’t know . . . perfect. After I made a trip up 127 to the Bath Farmers’ Market and got the groceries put away, Boogie and I hit the beach. That dog loves the ocean, not swimming in it, but being near it. Just like me.

He loves scrambling over the rocks.

He likes looking in the tide pools.

He likes running circles around me in the sand and then collapsing.

All-in-all, a good day to be a dog. (And for those of you feeling sorry for Wrigley and Rocket, they got a nice long walk this morning and a climb on the rocks at Five Islands dock. They prefer to nap in their sunny spot on the rug to running hither and yon with their younger, friskier brother.)

Summer in Maine

August 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Now that we’re settled in, the focus of my blog will shift to the “adventures” in Five Islands and beyond. Although we’re still working on the house, it’s less of an obsession. Of course, as we make progress on the house, I’ll chronicle it here. But, forgive me as this becomes more an account of our time in Maine if what you’re really interested in is house renovations.

They say that Maine is Vacationland. We’re actually doing our regular jobs (so that we can keep paying the mortgage and buying paint–and because we like our jobs) in addition to spending a little time vacationing whenever our friends come to visit. It’s a tough balancing act, but we’re giving it our all. We know it will get lonely after September when fewer friends come calling. This was one of our rare weekends without guests, so we got some work done on the yard, the cellar, and squeezed in some real work too. It helped that the weather today was very gray and wet wet wet.

Last weekend, our friends Dana and Craig and their two kids, Jonah and Eve, visited from Illinois. It was very special to have them here because we have been spending our Maine vacations with them for almost ten years. The first time we all came to Maine together, Jonah was only 4 years old and now he’s a teenager. Oy!

We spent a beautiful day on the beach at Reid State Park on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and the water was not quite frigid. Despite growing up near the ocean in Tidewater, Virginia, I’ve never loved the beach. Until now, that is. For me, the Maine beaches are so beautiful because of the variety in the land and seascape. The combination of pine trees, low bushes, rocks, sand, ocean, seaweed, and tide pools is just stunning. My memories of the beaches in Virginia and North Carolina are of long flat strips of sand with rows of houses on stilts lined up facing the waves. So very boring.

Where the pines meet the ocean

Evie racing the waves

Jonah boogie boarding

Alas, Dana and the gang could only stay a couple of nights. We’re hoping to see them again over winter break. By then, the upstairs will be more comfortable for lounging. And next summer, perhaps they can spend a week with us . . . .

Yesterday, we made it up to the Bath Farmers’ Market pretty early. This has become our Saturday ritual: head for Bath by about 9 a.m. Stop in at Cafe Creme for a coffee (iced if it’s hot out). And then hit the market. It is a small market, but they’ve got everything you need from meats to cheeses to fresh fruit and veg. From Bath, we headed to Topsham to visit Bisson and Son’s Meat Market. This place is a classic meat market that seems to have been run by the same family for eons. The cows are happily grazing in the pasture right around back (and out front), so you can rest assured that this is not industrially raised meat and dairy products. The prices are ridiculously low too, I guess because there’s no overhead associated with getting their products onto store shelves.

Bisson and Sons

Cows at Bisson's

Of course, a trip out to Topsham wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t stop at Target. I will be so happy when our little house is fully kitted out and we don’t have to go to Target or Home Depot or Lowes or whatever so often.

Anyway, we finally got home and unloaded all of our loot, including these lovely vegetables from our local farmers.

Bounty of the Bath Farmers' Market

That’s all for now.

Coming together, slowly

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

We’ve been in Five Islands for a month today and it’s starting to feel like home. We are particularly loving the mostly comfortable temperatures (especially compared with the temps in DC). Most days start out chilly and turn warm and sunny. Occasionally it stays chilly and grey all day. The week of the big heat wave, it was hot, but not intolerable, thanks to the breeze off of the Sheepscot River.

Anyway, we are continuing to touch up paint and do other small jobs. Robert started cleaning the upstairs this week, no small job. It’s a wreck up there, but we have company arriving this week and we’re hoping to stick the kids up there. Hopefully the television will distract them from the crumbling drywall and dangling insulation.

Here are some pictures from downstairs as things come together.

Sitting area of great room

Settee and chair from Country Farm in Bath/Dash & Albert rug

Dining area of great room/Dash & Albert rug

First meal at the bar

Bug spray and fish hooks

We are trying to get the yard shaped up just a little bit. Robert has improved the entrance, which you can see in this shot of Rocket and Wrigley on the porch.

Wrigley and Rocket lounging

And Chad built us a temporary gate to get in and out of the temporary fence.

Temporary gate

And a few more outside pics. Our friend, Sara, and I had a chance to go to the beach at Reid State Park on Sunday. It was hot and wonderful. The water was even a little warmer than frigid.

Boogie and Wrigley

Beach at Reid State Park

And, thanks to Sara, we made a trip to the wonderful Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the mid coast.

Ferns at the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

That’s all for now. I’ll try to get some more pics of the bedrooms up soon.

Five Islands update

July 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

Today is our 2-week anniversary in Five Islands. We are spending the afternoon at the Patten Free Library (PFL) in Bath because there is a nice young person, Chad, working on the house this week. The PFL is a lovely place to spend an afternoon; it has a quiet and comfortable reading room with a view of the Kennebec River. The church across the street is a real stunner against the blue sky today.

Looking across the square from the Patten Free Library

I thought I would take this opportunity to write my first proper blog post since I’m using the library’s wi-fi instead of ours (which is not unlimited or free unfortunately).

We’ve spent the first two weeks slowly unpacking our stuff, doing small projects around the house, shopping for more stuff to fill up the already stuffed house, and getting back to our paid work. The big project this week has been painting the window sashes and trim. Thank goodness it’s a tiny house, because trim takes a long time to paint, especially when there are 2 colors. We are painting the sashes (all the parts of the window that touch the glass) to match the muntins (those thingies that separate panes of glass in the windows). Our muntins are Sandtone, so the sashes will be a sort of light brown. Then the trim, or all the wood that touches the walls, will be bright white. So far, we’ve painted all the sashes in the great room and bathroom and primed much of the trim. Here are some close ups of the Sandtone on the kitchen windows.

Newly painted sashes in kitchen windows

For now, the house is a wreck because Chad has been doing finish work in the kitchen. So there are no pictures of the great room all put together. I feel like I’ve been posting nothing but construction shots for months. I’d like to start posting completion shots, so bear with me for a few more days.

We’ve had a little free time to visit some of our favorite spots near Five Islands. On Tuesday, we went to the General Store for our lunch break. On the way home we stopped at Reid State Park for a little stroll. We now have a pass for every Maine state park that allows in a car with up to 16 people. So we can drop by Reid whenever we want to. The park has 2 beautiful beaches and a lagoon. There are paths through the dunes and lots of rocks to climb on. We found a bench and soaked up a little sun before getting back to work.

Approaching the beach at Reid State Park

Reid State Park

Yesterday, we stopped in to visit the Coveside Bed & Breakfast on North End Rd in Five Islands. Tom and Carolyn run this gorgeous B&B on Gott’s Cove. They are also the winning bidders on a dinner for four at our house later this month. We donated the dinner to the Georgetown Historical Society’s annual charity auction. So we wanted to chat with Tom and Carolyn about the dinner and other island dining ideas. I couldn’t resist taking some shots of the views from their beautiful patio.

View of Gott's Cove from Coveside B&B

The house is also lovely, as are the gardens throughout the property.

Coveside B&B

Finally, I should note that all of our various animals made it to Five Islands safely. Admittedly, there were some scary moments the first couple of days. Our cat, Peanut, disappeared the first night and didn’t re-appear for 48 hours. We weren’t sure if he’d somehow escaped or was trapped in between the walls. He now comes out a couple of times a day, usually in the early morning and in the evening. But otherwise he has a very good hiding place upstairs, probably under the floor between the joists. Olive, our other cat, seems quite content. The dogs are lovin’ life on the island. There are exotic creatures such as the elusive chipmunk to keep their walks exciting. And the lack of any bus traffic on Lewis Rd is conducive to lots of relaxation on our little porch. Here they are chilling under the new bar (soon to be Robert’s preferred rest spot).

Beagles relaxing

Well, that’s my report for now. I hope to have some shots of the interior next week to share.

What’s not to love?

September 25, 2010 § 2 Comments

Five Islands harbor

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.

Five Islands harbor in the fog

Ledgemere Beach

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.

Beach at Reid State Park in Georgetown

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.

Five Islands Lobster Co.

So that’s downtown Five Islands. Everything you could want in a home away from home.

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