Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter Mailboxes

Ah, the romance of a sparkling crystalline snow covered landscape, the beauty of the contrasts of white snow and dark branch. Oh, but there is a darker side to winter. The savagery and terror of the snow plow blade slamming the mailbox off its post, the brute force of the spray of snow as it spews from the side of the plow blade ramming the post and box to the side. Left leaning, twisted, bent, broken, snow covered, up to its neck, downed and missing, the poor mailbox on its post does not find winterto be a happy season at all.

Yes, this last is my own, missing its back due to the force of the sprayed snow from the city plows rushing past at speeds that would get mere citizens a hefty ticket for exceeding the limit.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama and Religion

What delighted me about the President's inauguration speech apparently rifled a few feathers. Obama started out strong mentioning Constitutional principles with this mention of founding documents: "America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents." He knows the constitution and the freedoms it seeks to guarantee. He knows the false traps that those less savvy in the issues will seek to pull us into. When he got to one of the meatier statements, " . . . we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth . . . " he was reinforcing the importance of freedom of religion and diversity of thought to our nation and its strength. Every religion seeks embetterment. Every religion seeks to improve the tribe by improving the individual. Each religion bases their methods on different myths and stories and some are based more on verifiable history than others, but all are seeking a better way. To work with others and examine their ways and ideals and prescriptions and values can only improve ones own lot. Each culture and religion and language brings with it some new and interesting color to the tapestry. Look at a Scrabble dictionary sometime. This is the most basic essence of each word boiled down for the purposes of deciding what is and is not a word for the playing of the game. While there, you will be stuck, if you allow yourself, by the quantity of words that have a 'foreign' origin. The basic language is English, from England. Remember that it replaced maybe a thousand native languages that were on this continent prior to several hundred years ago! But what is English about English? There are Irish words and Indian words and Spanish words and if you try to form the simplest of sentences without some word attributed to some other language, you would be hard pressed. To say anything in an interesting and colorful way, you include a stew of words from languages around the world. Our values are the same way. Can anyone really define 'Christian' values? The entire religion was wholly based on the Jewish religion and included many Pagan symbols and celebrations and ideas. Christianity is an add-on to Judaism, and Islam is an add-on to Christianity. So each has more in common with the others than differences. Yet we allow the minor differences to divide us, to drive a wedge between us an that is wrong. It is not good for us, not as individuals and not as a nation. There is talk of our heritage and where our constitution came from. There are claims that we were founded as a Christian nation, and this is patently untrue. The Constitution comes from the Magna Carta. It was influenced by Native American ideas and by many other cultures. The core values are instinctive values shares by all religions and by non-religious peoples. And just as each religion is based on myths and stories that are not based on verifiable history or corroborating evidence, and because the country was formed on setting ourselves apart from the various places our ancestors left, the skeptic is left without a religion that can be called as absolute truth and there is a growing body of scientifically minded questioning wondering non-believers in this free country. To impose any sort on national religion or to even continue to say things like 'in god we trust' on our money or 'under god' in our pledge steps on the feet of the skeptic, the freethinker, the questioner, and those principles are in themselves very very much American. Thank you, President Obama, for giving a nod to those out there unencumbered by the trappings of religion and religious dogma and the divisiveness of focusing too much on the tiny differences rather on the common principles and ideals we all share. Among the thousands of religious denominations and sects in our fine nation, the non-believer has just as much right to their non-belief as any single type of believer has in their belief.

I Apologize

I humbly apologize in advance for the huge amount of time that some of you will waste on this.
Is there anything cuter than kittens?

One Year Of Blogging!

It was one year ago today that I started this little blog. Gene said "You should have a blog for these stories you tell". And Chuck would say "That would make a good blog post. You should start one." Kathy always said "You should write about your experiences with your boys!" I told them they were silly. I am not a writer. My sister is the writer. But then, it was January, my hardest month. Because it is after the happy family-filled holidays but it is still cold and dark and winter. And cold. And dark. Because I lost my father, the grandfather to my precious children, in January. Because like many people, I get a little down from the lack of sunlight that leads to a lack of Vitamin D. Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) or Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder (S.A.D.D.) are the names for it. I guess that makes it a little easier, that enough people share in the misery that it has an official name. And I was visiting my mother who was recovering much too slowly from a surgery. A friend's mother was dying. It was many days of many degrees below zero. So I took the advice of Gene and Chuck and Kathy and wrote a few things down. The writings last January were sad. But I intended that each one would have a bright spot, a tiny shred of optimism. I read them now and see their mistakes and clumsy sentences. But they got me through, my little blog entries and the emails and phone calls to and from friends and family. Gene said "Write every day." This is my 366th post in a year. But I cheated. I went for a day or two or more sometimes with no entry and some days I made many entries. Some were just photos with no words. But I averaged one every day! Is that okay, Gene? I have a few regular readers and a few more who read in spurts. I have a few regular commenters and have had a couple from other countries! And I have people who can't handle the steps it takes to comment but email me or tell me in person. I write it for me and for anyone who cares to read. I try not to offend anyone, but still I have. I try to be honest but sometimes I make things up to make a point. Or to keep it a little bit anonymous for me and my family. And like those first days last January, I try to tell it like it is but I also try to keep a little bit of hope and joy and optimism in here. Life is like that. Things suck, but there is still beauty. Bad things happen and then good things happen after that. More good things than the bad things. And always family and wonderful friends to keep it all going. Keep readin' cuz I am gonna keep writin'!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


If you sing that song by Boy George, I might want to harm you. That part where the audience screams when he gets to the chorus? I want to scream like that when someone makes a crack about my name.
I will address some of the more common questions here to save you to trouble of voicing them:
"Is that your real name?" Yes.
"Were your parents hippies?" No. They were corn farmers. And no, they didn't grow pot between the corn rows, either. They were Lutherans.
"Did your parents know what it meant?" Okay, you got me there. No, they did not. My mother made it up. From Carmen. And when my sister and I, nerd children that we were, were each reading one of the free volumes of the two-volume dictionary that came with our new World Book encyclopedia set, learning new words, I remember quite vividly when she shouted out "Mom, Dad, 'Karma' is a word. It's in the dictionary!" (She must have had the A-M volume and I, the N-Z.) My parents had been conversing in the kitchen and responded to the news with a dead silence as they waited for her to read the definition to see if it was a good thing or a bad thing they had named me.
"Did you like it when you were a kid?" No. I hated it. Because kids would tease me with things like "Karma Cockroach". But later I realized kids can pretty much crap on any name, so I got over it. And when I realized the philosophy behind it, basically that you get out of life what you put into it and that good leads to more good, I tried to apply that and the name began to hold meaning and inspiration to me. And now that I am making art and operating a tiny art gallery, the question "Is that your real name?" is usually more asked in admiration or envy than in curiosity at an oddity, and that sort of thing being behind the question makes it much more welcome that it used to be.

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

Sure, I know, it is an old cliche. But sometimes old cliches get to be old because they are true. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." My dad said this one all the time, when my sister and I were fighting in a mean insulting-each-other sort of way or when one of us was complaining about someone or something. It carried so much weight, in that it said "Be nice to one another" but also "Be thankful for the good things." It recommended first the restraint to just keep your mouth shut, but then also carried the challenge to find a nice thing to say.

And it meant all the more because he lived it. My memory might be polished brightly by time and adoration for my father, but I do not remember him saying bad things to anyone or about anyone. He never called any of us or anyone that I can remember a name or blurted out an insult. It could be frustrating at times. We would so WANT him to take our side and rail against some perceived wrong or wrongdoer. But he would try hard to point out the other person's motivation and intent and help us understand it from their side.

I remember once when he was very angry with me. Well, no, he was just very angry. He loved to do projects at our house when he visited, so I would try to keep a list of improvements that would genuinely enhance the place and also be somewhat interesting for him. There is a soffit between the top of the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling, and the only light in the room was in the center, so that when standing at the sink, your work was in your shadow. It seemed like a couple of can lights up there would be a grand idea. My dad and my husband set about cutting holes in the soffit for the can lights and cutting a hole in the wall between the cabinet and the counter top for the switch, then tried to run electrical wires down to the basement to connect lights and switch to each other and to power. Every way they tried, they ran into obstacles. There was much standing on stepladders and twisting into uncomfortable positions and feelings of being too far into the project to abandon it, what with the holes in the wall and the soffit. And I, in my ever annoying manner, was attempting to photograph the workers in action. Instead of blowing up at me for getting him into the project, yelling, telling me I was irritating, berating me for being a pest with the camera, he turned to me and calmly said "This is not something we are going to look back on fondly." There, that comment portrayed both his desire that I cut with the picture taking but also his admiration that I did, with my camera, often save for future enjoyment most events that we would and could look back fondly upon.
Thirteen years ago today, I learned that you could be so wracked with grief that you could wake from sleep already crying. Each year, missing him gets a little easier. I try to honor him by passing on stories about him. I try to remember to be just a little more like him.

Having Things In Common

We are Americans, those soldiers on the TV screen and I. Yet, we have so little in common. I would no sooner volunteer to join an effort that might ask me to kill a person than I would cut off my own hand with a utility knife. I would no sooner dress in the uniform and subjugate myself to absolutely obey orders than I would steal a car. We do not share in the idea of what freedom means or in the best ways to achieve it.
Those soldiers and I are supposed to be on the same side, yet we have so very little in common.
Soldiers on one side of a conflict just might have more in common with their peers on the other side. At least they signed up, trained in certain ways, live a certain lifestyle, and probably share a lot of the same tastes and interests. In fact, I bet the average solider has more in common with the enemy soldiers than they do with their own commanding officers, and those officers share more in common with the enemy officers than with their own men they command.
What if mothers like me got together with mothers on the enemy side, artists like me got together with artists on the enemy side, and the soldiers on both sides got together to play cards and drink beer and the officers got together to smoke cigars and talk history of military strategy? Let's stop the fighting and form clubs based on shared interests. It might work better than the war thing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spying on IKEA Customers With a Cell Phone Camera

I have been sitting on this photo for weeks. I have nothing to say. That pointy toe sticks out many inches beyond a normal cowboy boot and curls up! I bet he had these custom made. He chooses to wear them in public. His wife and child choose to accompany him when he wears them. Are they a secret code announcing to other secret members that he is a secret member of a secret leprechaun cowboy society in Idaho? Will they have to kill me now that I have figure that out? Really, can someone help me not be a little scared that this man 1) owns these boots and 2) wears them in public? Please, anybody?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frank and Joe Introduce Me To Joe

I did not learn to love coffee until I was 47. I had gone on a 10 1/2 mile practice hike carrying a backpack fully loaded with my tent and sleeping bag and other gear. I hiked for 5 hours in the pouring rain to a forest preserve where I was supposed to meet the biking Boy Scouts for a Friday night campout. The bikers postponed until Saturday morning, so I camped in the cold rain alone. Early Saturday morning, Frank dropped off the troop gear trailer then went back to ride with the bikers. I was out on a walk to photograph wet nature, so he left me a coffee and a breakfast pastry in a bag on the picnic table by my lone tent. He did not know I was not a coffee drinker. The last coffee I remembered having was as a toddler when I would make the rounds about the coffee table, emptying the grounds from the cups of coffee left there while my parents were on the front steps seeing off the evening visitors. But that morning, I was cold and wet and had been so for about 18 hours so I drank the coffee anyway. It was warm. Steaming. Black. Aromatic. Warm. And warm. Another night of camping in the cold followed, this time at least in the company of my sons and the rest of the Boy Scout Troop. When Joe made his Sunday morning coffee in the troop's beat up tin percolator, I welcomed another cup. Joe made it strong and I drank it black and it was very very warm. I was in love. No, not with Frank or Joe, but with coffee.
Now I drink it when I am driving alone and it is cold outside and in the winter when I need a break from the chill of the snow or wet. I make it one cup at a time in a French press, of the darkest roasted beans that the local store carries. I make it about half again as strong as the directions say, and I drink it black. I enjoy the fragrance and the tactile experience of cradling the steaming mug in my hands as much as I enjoy the flavor. And more often than not, during the few minutes it takes for the coffee to steep in the press, I think fondly of my coffee mentors, Frank and Joe, and the warmth of the campfire and the camaraderie of my sons and the boys in the troop who let me join them on campouts and high adventure trips. Coffee is not just a beverage to me but the sum total of all those experiences: Coffee warms me on a cold day in such a wealth of ways.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama

I felt bad that I was not going to watch the speech in real time. I followed the primaries and the election so diligently and watched campaign speeches on-line and was glued to the computer screen on election night. But today, we had to get back home from the lake house in time for the Boy Scout meeting and there was no time to waste. It would be there on-line to watch and savor later. There were tasks to be done in certain orders, like completing tiling in time for dust to settle to allow a last coat of varnish on the stairs before we left. So during the actual speech, I was cleaning mortar from between the tile on one bathroom in order to ready it for grout next trip, or slapping tile on the wall in the other bathroom. My husband and son were sanding the stairs or varnishing while I made a quick lunch. So I finally listened to the 19 minute speech just now, finally read the transcript, and I feel hopeful, confident, optimistic. This is a great country, founded on great concepts, and we now have a leader who will let us shine in that greatness that has been masked and stifled and suppressed for too long. We will see a brighter future for ourselves and our children and their children. This is the beginning of a return to greatness for us, the beginning of a new kind of greatness for us, born not of military might but of work and ideas and building and growing and making and fixing and thinking and talking and inventing and problem-solving and doing for and with each other. President Obama said ". . . it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom." What a great future we are in for!

Obama Day

It is finally here. The day seemed hardly possible back in November, when my computer screen showed he and his family standing in the lights on the stage on election night. He has not disappointed with his cabinet choices and his statements so far. A new age is dawning today.

Happy Barack Obama Day!

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK, Jr. Day

Little kids get it sometimes. I had never even seen a black person in real life and I knew that people were people and that treating some different on account of skin color was wrong. I heard adults around me in my conservative rural home town make cracks that I just knew were wrong. I heard snippets of speeches on the radio and on the black and white television that had to warm up before you could watch it and I saw photographs in magazines and I knew there were important people out there risking everything to make the world a little more fair and just. I cheered them on in my young head. Years later when there was talk of making this day a national holiday, I again heard voices saying things like 'Why does it have to be a holiday?" or "He was just a trouble maker" and again, I cheered on those working for a better world. A little bolder by that age, I actually took a verbal stand for the idea now and then. I am glad I raised my kids in a time when things are nearer to fair and proud that they are both supporters of Barrack Obama and proud that they talk to me about such things. Maybe by the time they have kids, the little ones will come to their old grandma to ask about the 60s, incredulous that a time could have ever been when skin color meant a person was treated poorly. Can we hope for such progress when little kids can hardly believe that such a thing happened?
Happy Martin Luther King, Junior Day! Enjoy your day off and ponder the future with me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


When the world is white with over a foot of snow over all the ground for as far as you can see and the temps have been below zero for days and below freezing for weeks and the cold wind triggers your asthma and literally takes your breath away when you round the corner of the house out the back door, it is difficult indeed to believe in a green world. Flowers? Leaves glowing in the sunlight? Was it really like this and will it really be again? Am I crazy for remembering that it was once green and warm and alive with the buzzing of insects and chirping of birds? Faith is truly needed in times like these to keep us from going stark raving mad at the thought that life might always be cold and white. Faith that the world once was and will again be warm and green is what gets us through to the other side of winter.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Keep the X in Xmas"

Apologies: Since I was de-laptopped during most of December and only posting pre-scheduled things, there are some things I thought about then and feel the bloggy need to still get off my chest.

Another of those things about Christmas that bugs me is this whole idea by the overly religious that using the word "Xmas" is somehow an attempt to remove focus on Jesus as Christmastime. They don't know the history of why it was first used and they assume motives that are just not there. And they fall flat on their faces in terms of teachable moments.
The term Xmas was first used by the Christian church when printing presses were becoming available and they began to publish church bulletins and fliers about Christmas and Christmas events. It was expensive to buy ink and time consuming to set type, so one way to conserve in that process was to use abbreviations. St. for Saint and X for Christ. Historically, X was used by some sects of Christianity to name Jesus because his name was too holy to write out. So the X was a special way to represent him that drew attention to his extremely exalted holiness. It was a way of honoring Jesus. So when the churches used the term in type, they were using an historical abbreviation for reasons of economy. That's all. No conspiracy to remove Jesus from Christmas. And why has it been done since? Same reason, pretty much. Not that it is so expensive to print and type-set anymore, but that every inch of advertising space in print and in display must have impact. To write out a long 9 letter word like "Christmas" means it has to be of a certain smaller font that writing out a 4 letter word like "Xmas". It can be "Merry Xmas" or "Xmas sale" instead of "Merry Christmas" or "Christmas Sale". No disrespect at all is meant, and indeed, most often, the use occurs in marketing gifts, which are a celebration of the "wisemen" or "kings" bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, a very Christian tradition. Or in the marketing of Christmas decorations, for which Christian meaning can be attributed to every symbol.
The sad pathetic story the overly religious use to poo-poo the use of "Xmas" concerns a little boy who allegedly saw the word on a sign and asked his daddy if they had crossed Jesus out of Christmas. The damn fool opportunity-missing father chose to fill his kid with negative paranoia by saying "I guess they did, Son, I guess they did," when, if he had any sense, he would have turned it positive for the boy and said "Jesus is so special that sometimes a great big X is used for his name, and stores can write the word much bigger if they make it have fewer letters, and they like to do that because Christmas is such a special word." If anyone makes it into anything negative, it is their own fault, so can we have less whining about this next Christmas, I mean, next XMAS?

"Happy Holidays"

Since I missed real-time blogging during most of the holdiay season because the laptop was out of service, there are still some things I want to say:
There are just certain things that people do like to go on about and the more trivial a thing is that someone makes a big deal about, the more it irks me. This whole "Happy Holidays" thing is one of them. The overly religious see some sort of giant anti-Christian controversy here and it just doesn't exist. Most people say it as a short way of saying "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year". It is better to get something said before the car door closes and friends drive off than to be iterating specific wishes they never hear, isn't it? Some people say it as a way of not offending. America was build on freedom from religion. Yes, I said that how I meant it. The people who came here were not so much seeking to be able to practice their religion, because they already did that in secret, and doing it in secret ought to mean just as much to your god, but they sought to NOT to have to practice the state religion of the place they were leaving. The reason their religion was persecuted was because the state they came from had an official religion and they did not believe in all or even just parts of it. So they still practiced theirs, but often secretly. What they wanted was freedom from participation in the required state religion. So our country does not and must not ever have an official religion. We must always be the refuge for those who don't fit the mold somewhere and who choose to opt out of the required religion of some country or region. To do that, we must strive to make no assumptions about people practicing what is our majority religion: Some form of Christianity. So out of respect for others, and respect for this founding principle of our country, we are careful. We say "Happy holidays" in case they are Jewish and are celebrating Hanuka or maybe participating in Kwanza or are Muslim and are celebrating Ramadan but certainly, it can be taken by anyone as a simple "Happy New Year's Eve and Happy New Year", can't it? It should be seen by Christians as a kindness we do each other in order that those who wish will always be able to practice their specific brand of Christianity at Christmastime in this country. It should be seen as an annual reassurance that no other specific brand of Christianity will become the official state religion and that each will always be allowed the quirks and details of theirs. No one will tell you if baby Jesus goes in the creche when it is unpacked from the wrappings and set upon the coffee table at Thanksgiving or that he gets placed in the manger only on Christmas Eve. No one will tell you your Christmas tree has to be mounted in water right side up or hung from the ceiling upside down. No one will tell you whether your feast has to be goose or beef or turkey. No one will tell you that you can sing carols all December or only starting at Christmas Eve. No one will tell you what color the candles of your Advent wreath have to be or how many weeks in advance you can start counting down. Because we say "Happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", we are not only reaffirming that Muslims and Jews and Wiccans and Buddhists and Hindus and atheists have a place in this country, but that Lutherans and Catholics and Baptists and Pentecostals and Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons and Nazarenes and Episcopalians and Methodists can practice their own brand of Christianity and celebrate the birth of Jesus and carry their own Christmas traditions in whatever ways, new or traditional, they see fit. Every Christian should embrace "Happy holidays" for the affirmation of religion freedom that it is.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thirty and Three

Boys are so stupid. They show off and do crazy things to get girls' attention but then when a girl likes them, they just don't get it. Or they get it and they have no idea what to do about it. He was the nicest of the smart boys at school and he wasn't all ga ga over sports like most of them were and he hunted, which was a way to tell he liked to be outdoors in nature like I did. My passion was photography and the school camera club was defunk so I thought I might get close to him by asking him to teach me to develop film and print pictures. He and his brothers had a darkroom in their basement and the opportunities of that seem obvious. But he made excuses and pretty soon another one of the smart boys got me access to a different darkroom and asked me to one of those school dances. Still, I was most interested in the one with dark wavy hair and blue eyes whose edges crinkled when he smiled. I tracked his comings and going over the summer by his cool car that he had rebuilt himself from parts of two. Another school year came and it was clear into January by the time he finally got it and a date was planned. By then the hot car was back in the garage being re-rebuilt so we drove his Daddy's pickup on most of our dates and somehow a bullet got shot through the floor of the thing while we sat in my driveway after a date, but that wasn't on that first date that happened thirty-three years ago today. We dated the rest of Senior year and through college and married that June and worked on house projects and raised two amazing sons and had nature and other adventures and shared joys and sorrows and still like each other! And yes, I know only girls keep track of these silly anniversaries of dates, but he remembered too this morning, so that has to be worth something! Happy Anniversary, Nature Boy, and if your comments are too racy, I just won't approve them!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Blues

When people speak of 'winter blues', I know they mean a mood, a certain mild depression, perhaps caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D from too little sunlight. But I think of the colors of winter, the smokey blue-grey clouds against turquoise sky, and the way shadows on snow are not black or grey but a cool blue. The blues of winter are beautiful, if you can bear to look for them, but the clouds and snow do hint at a long time to pass before the bright yellow greens of spring will reappear. Will they indeed? It does take a certain faith to see beyond this time of 'blues'.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

House Railing at Stairs and Loft

The railings around the stair opening and around the 'loft' openings are complete! This means my fear of heights, my panicky moments when someone steps too close to the openings or worse, when I myself step too close to the openings, can finally be laid to rest. The top and bottom rails are of 2" x 6" pine from the timber framer so that it matches the frame. The spindles are 1/2" iron with a couple of twists. These were ordered raw wrought iron and cleaned with WD-40 oil and then coated with a tung oil finish. One batch was left outdoors last summer to test the effectiveness of the finish, and they remained rust free after a couple rains and a few weeks time.

This leaves the following remaining: A bit of drywall patching where it was cut for access to the bathtub plumbing, priming of a couple walls, painting of those walls, trim priming and painting at the edges of a few other walls, laying of the prefinished flooring on all of the second floor except the bathroom, baseboard, installation of bathroom door, grout on the slate tile floors in bathrooms and first floor hallway, tile and grout in shower and bathtub areas, shower and bathtub glass doors, and the glass panels from the top of the bathroom walls to the ceiling rafters.

The Living Room

The living room features views to the side yard and to the lake, a fireplace for warmth in winter, and a door to the patio for deck and lake access spring through fall. The sofa is a very comfy sleeper with wood slats for great support for all you guests! The rug shown is a runner that will be in the hallway upstairs, and this room will have a 5' x 8' version of the same yellow botanical pattern, and the dining room, a 8' x 10' under the table and chairs. These are rolled up safely in plastic until the sawing and sanding steps elsewhere in the house are completed. Just after we shot this photo, we wrapped the comfy furniture up in plastic and got back to work.

Behind the House in Winter

The back decks have mesh metal furniture and glass paneled railings to allow for less obstructed views. And the views are lovely when covered with snow! In the summer and fall, the leaves of the trees allow only a glimpse of the water below, but when the trees are leafless and skeletal, they allow views down to the water and to the shore beyond. And they allow views of the scattered white pines and hemlocks that grace the hillsides. This year has offered a beautiful cover of snow that has at times lingered on rails and branches for truly wonderful winter views from the warm house and from the yard, should you dare go there!

Taking Out The Dock

There, in the lower right of the photo are the two people taking the dock out of the frozen lake. You might think that is a terrible idea. Well, due to the high water, it didn't get put in until well after the 4th of July, so we had to leave it in to get the season's use out it. Not buying that excuse? Too busy working on the house to get to it? Yeah, that IS more like what really happened. But if you wait too long into the fall, the water is really really cold to go in to. So if you wait even longer, the water is frozen solid so you can walk on TOP of it to take the wooden and aluminum platforms off. After you shovel the snow off them.
And you will notice the photo is from the top of the steps. No way I was going to go down those killer ice and snow covered steps just to get a better picture of the event. I might have gotten roped into helping once I was down there, too!

The Gas Fireplace

The gas fireplace is backed by a wall of tile that matches the hallway floor slate. While we had Frank's wet saw, we took some of the reject floor tiles and cut them to 4" wide strips. They are mortared to the drywall edge to edge so that they do not need grout. The little fireplace makes a lovely warm patch of floor in front of it and creates a cheery ambiance in the living room as one looks out the windows to the snowy scenes, through the trees to the frozen lake beyond.

Dining Room

The dining room is perhaps the only room that is totally completely absolutely really truly surely finally finished. It includes a beautiful handmade custom solid cherry table that is a neat 3' x 6' and matches the kitchen table that is 3' x 3', so that for big gatherings, they can be used together as one long table that will seat 10! It is great to have a canoe builder in the family who is willing to spend his workday evenings in the garage shop working on furniture between spending his weekends working on the actual house! And it is great to have a teenage son willing to help on all of it!

Kitchen In Use

I'd like to say that the kitchen is complete. It is completely functional. I have made coffee there and complete meals and it is fully equiped with dishes and glasses and flatware and pots and pans and accessories and towels and napkins and serving bowls.
It is even stocked with a few essentials of food such as coffee and pasta and a bit of junk food. But the chairs are covered in a basic functional muslin and await reupholstery in a more attractive botanical fabric, the cabinets need a final layer on their tops since they can be seen from above, and to my thinking, the kitchen sink needs a couple little corbels to provide some visual support to the heavy stone.

Shower Tile

The first floor shower and the surround over the second floor tub will have black 6" x 6" tile accented with strips of 3" x 6" glass subway tile. The shower tile installation is about half finished, then it will need to be grouted. We are still looking for a volunteer for grout work, both in these bathroom walls and on the floors of both baths and the ground floor hallway. Anyone?

The Front Door at the Lake House

The front door has a doorbell. Welcome to all who will visit us here!