Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Time to Sell

Sadly, our lives and priorities have changed over the ten years since we bought "The Lakehouse". Larry and I have become more settled in Rhode Island, and our South Carolina family's busy lives do not allow them much use of the place either.

We recently discovered a break-in when our niece, Allison, arrived to spend the weekend with her husband and girlfriend. They walked in and got physically sick at the smell of "#2" that permeated our home. Someone gained access to the house through a window left unlocked. They, interestingly enough, did not have the where with all to figure out how to turn on our well for water, so they filled our master toilet and left a crappy diaper in the waste can; dirty dishes in the sink, and cleaned out our fridge. I like to think out of respect they got a blanket and slept on top of our made bed instead of in it. We are grateful nothing was stolen or destroyed, except the ambiance and sense of smell of our family and friends.

This incident threw me for a loop. I felt so helpless and violated. But, it made us take a good hard look at where our life is going, our priorities and our finances. For the amount of time we spend at the lake, it has become more expensive to maintain that house than it does our home in Rhode Island. We cannot afford to continue paying for two houses on the water. One has to go, and sadly, it must be "The Lakehouse".

I posted a notice on Craig's List, and if you see this posting, please consider buying this lovely haven. You won't regret a minute of the decision. It saddens our hearts to leave, but leave we must. Hopefully, one of you reading this blog will have the resources to buy it. By the way, the property next door is also for sale. If one were to buy both, you'd have ten and a half acres to build a very private dream home! Think about it and dream big!!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reacquainting with The Lake

I am so happy to be back at our lake house on Lake Murray in South Carolina. I keep forgetting how beautiful it is here; so remote, quiet and calm...peaceful. The full moon is working its magic on my mood and my dreams. I am exercising every day so far, and had a very interesting dream this morning.

In my dream, a mentor told me to trust the process and have faith that all will be well with me and in my life. The entire first part of the dream was about not being accepted by literal beauty pageant candidates because I am fatter than they are and do not conform to the "hair and makeup; fashion" contingent. I was feeling bad about myself as a result. Then I packed a bag to get ready for an event, when the bag "activated" upon closing; a motor switched on and lights lit. I grabbed the handle and it lifted me up and into the sky. It took me far away to a lovely land where I met a mentor. This spiritual and life mentor challenged me to sing my "Song" in support of my candidacy as leader of the Fei. I watch a SciFi Channel television show called "Lost Girl", and the Fei have special powers. The Fei mentioned in my dream was more spiritual in nature, but powers would be granted if I succeeded. I awoke singing the song as challenged, feeling confident I would win. She smiled at me knowing I would win too. It was a good feeling.

The water temperature in our lake is wonderful. It's hot here right now: low to upper 90's and sometimes into the 100's with high humidity. I thought the water would be hot too, but it's more like lukewarm bath water. Cooler than I expected and lovely to swim in. I am swimming more than usual because I keep hearing the words of my Rhode Island personal trainer, Eric, in my head: ramp up your cadio! My weight is out of control, and I am getting better, but still not great with controlling what I eat and how much I drink. Being on vacation doesn't help that process either. But I figure if I exercise every day, it'll help to stabilize my weight increases, and maybe help me to eat less sugar and drink less alcohol. Hopefully. Anyway, every day is a do-over for me. I feel better about myself as a result. Doesn't that count for something?

I didn't want to come back to the lake because I love our home in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and didn't want to experience extreme heat and humdity.. Now that I am back here, once again, I realize how much I do love the lake house, and the temps aren't much different than up north.  The pups, Jackson and Mattie Grace, really love it here because they get to go outside unsupervised and they love to swim! It's calmer swimming in the lake than in the ocean, so they are more likely to venture into the water on there own. I've begun taking them for rides in our paddle boat, and they really enjoy it as much as the pontoon. I guess it's all about togetherness for them.

We've only been here a few days, but we are already relaxed and settling into lake life in the rural country. I am so blessed and grateful.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting a handle on it.

I was sitting by the window reading and noticed once again a funny feeling in my lower legs. They have been bothering me at night: always hot and feeling kind of "encased". I was shocked to see that my skin was actually orange!

My towel.
The water here at The Lakehouse has always been a problem. The sinks, tubs and toilets are severely stained, and without regularly changing the filters, standing water turns yellow/orange and looks oily. Shampoo does not soap up in this condition; neither does soap for that matter, including dish washing liquid. I no longer use the jet tub here for that reason. I tried soaking twice and when I looked down and saw I was sitting in oily-looking pee water, I quickly got out and never soaked again. We can't buy a washing machine yet either. Until we completely change out the water system, the laundromat is still my friend here. Larry has some ideas on how to change out the system, but like anything else in life: if you don't use it, you lose it. This house remains unused much of the year, and will continue to be this way as long as we own it. Now we're not sure changing out the system will work either. Don't know what to say about it now.  Anyway...

We had it tested several years ago and learned we have high levels of iron and manganese in it. After doing some research, Larry learned that when oxygen enters the well, iron-ore bacteria grows. The bacteria is what causes the oily look and the staining. Now it is all over my skin. I could live with stained fingernails and my little stained benign caratoses, but now my skin must be changing too. Both my lower legs are stained and inside my upper arms. I can feel it on my neck too. I don't now if I'm just obsessing now, but my legs and neck feel hot and uncomfortable. I can't live this way anymore!

Larry changed out the filters and flushed the system with bleach today. We took a lovely boat ride while the bleach was killing the bacteria. We usually do this in the spring, but we weren't here last year to do it, and it hasn't really been done in a couple of years. We just forgot. Country living is very basic, and I've learned to do it quite well, but I've drawn the line on orange skin!

I got in the lake today and scrubbed my skin with soap and a facecloth. Then I dove in to rinse. Actually, this was my first swim of the season, and it was wonderful! The water temperature is absolutely perfect. I've been feeling a little guilty about not exercising since I've been here, except for one walk, but now I can swim! Yippee.

The pups had a fine time on the boat today. The just love riding around the lake. So do we for that matter. We can check on what the neighbors have been up to: who's renovating, building up, and any new subdivisions that are being built. We learned the new subdivisions are virtually dead right now with this economy. But the big houses are still adding on.

It was a nice day over all. Anyway, I feel better getting that crap off my body. Now I just have to keep it off.

This is the mound I stepped in.
Another small mound: Invisible, right?
Speaking of keeping things off, when I was weed-wacking yesterday, I inadvertantely stepped in a fireant mound and did "the dance" to the lake to drown them off my feet. The dance is walking quickly or running to the water while stomping you feet hard on the ground trying to knock them off 'til you get there. Fireants aren't as bad as they sound, but they are pesky little critters. You really have to watch where you walk down here, because the mounds crop up everywhere and anywhere.

Largest mount in front of the garage.
I remember when we got married, the limo company had to switch out our limo at the last minute because of fireant infestation in it. We got a much bigger limo for the same price, so it was was good thing! When they get on you, they must send a signal, "Ready, set, GO!" Then they all bite you at once. I've had one on me that bit, and it is just like a little hot sting. Lots of them can really hurt. I also remember, Jackson got in one by accident and when I saw him rolling around helplessly on the ground one day, I scooped him up, dowsed him over and over in the lake, and picked the little buggers off one by one until he was ant free. They can be a real pain in the ass, and many other places, like my ankles.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spring 2012 Update

It's been a very long time, since we've been back to The Lakehouse. I didn't know how much I missed it. Our niece, Allison, has done a fine job keeping it up for us. All I had to do to re-bond with the house was break out the vacuum and suck up mouse poop and spider webs and poop from all the nooks and crannies. This process always makes me feel better.

Larry's brother, Bill, drove his riding mower over the other day, so yesterday Larry mowed the two-foot weeds down. Now the pups can walk anywhere they want. Those weeds were taller than they are. There are still many Mimosa baby trees around to cut down. Those trees spread like weeds and, also like the Wisteria vines, will take over the place if you let them. We've been gone long enough that it'll be tough to get them back under control, especially the Wisteria. Those vines are currently covering our 20-foot pear tree and many other trees. The stalks get so thick, even loppers have a hard time cutting through. For those I need the pruning saw. Keeping up with two acres in rural country is hard work when one lives here full-time. This past year, we only got back for a couple of very short trips, so there was no time to keep up the yard work. We'll have a little more time this trip, as we plan to stay until after Memorial Day weekend.

Larry's sister, Libby, has been dead a year. I realized when we arrived how much I miss her. Our house is full of items she put here and I keep thinking of things I want and need to talk to her about and to ask her. My heart aches. But, one bright note, is that the rose bush she rooted and we planted together has come back. I thought it was dead. I named it "Libby's Rose", and I really hope it blooms this year.

Our Oak Leaf Hydrangea is just lovely. It has spread very wide, but I see I didn't get all the Wisteria cut out of it. There are still a few very large branches poking out. I'll have to hone my sights in on them soon with the saw.

Lastly, the little White Star Jasmine vine is blooming beautifully. It smells so sweet. I thought it was dead a few years ago when large branches of the Red Bud tree it's growing up died and broke off, but it came back just fine. It makes me so happy to stop and smell the lovely little blooms each time I head to the dock.

As far as critters go, we've been visited daily in the house by little green lizards that change color depending on the wall they sit on. While vacuuming spider webs and poop out of window sills, I almost sucked one up that was grey and sitting on the window screen with a little lump of dusty-filled spider web hanging of his little paw. I said, "You bet scoot up high little buddy before you get sucked up for good!" As he scooted up the screen, I snatched the dust from his paw. He was very cute. These critters don't bother me at all.

One of the most interesting outdoor spider webs we have here is a tunnel web. The spider who makes them is pretty large and I have not yet been able to catch her on camera, but Larry got a good shot of one on our hose outside the front (and only) door. He wiggled the sprayer a little and got her attention. She scampered out to the top of the tunnel, only to realized his trick and before he could get a shot of her, she quickly scampered back inside. She didn't fall for that trick a second time.

The beavers came back and marked the pine tree next to the dock for cutting. They don't usually like pine, but we figured they cut down all the other good-tasting trees, and are just settling for the dregs of pine meat. They must be very desperate. And since this tree is mostly dead and has been earmarked for cutting proactively by us, we better get to it soon before they do, so we can control where it falls. It's about a forty-foot tall tree.

The heron are flying all over the place right now, and Jackson has been having a fine time barking at their antics. He and Mattie Grace just love the lake. Now that the lawn has been mowed, maybe they'll venture in for a swim soon. They turn into real country dawgs down here and love to go for long walks on the dirt roads.

The daytime temperatures have been in the low eighties this week with nighttime temps in the sixties. We've been grateful to be able to keep the windows open. This house gets very stale smelling with all the mouse urine that's probably under the dark panelling on all our walls, It can be stinky in here. Which leads me to our latest renovation plans for The Lakehouse.

Since we didn't make any money like we'd hoped from selling our Lexington, Massachusetts house, we now don't have any money to renovate the lakehouse like we'd originally planned. So, we're trying to find more basic ways to make it more comfortable and upgrade it. We bought three window air conditioners for each bedroom the other day. When I told my friend, Mary Pat, about this purchase, she immediately texted all her family and friends with excitement. They use the house when we're gone, and it can get pretty uncomfortable here in the summer months. We'll be here some this summer, and I'm spoiled with our central air in Rhode Island. Ceiling fans just don't cut the extreme humidity and heat of August.

We will still have to change the living room roof structure, which will be the largest investment. The flat roof on it now cannot be patched or fixed anymore. Larry has done a wonderful job patching it and stopping the leaks that badly stain the ceiling, but these patches will not hold much longer. It's time to think of a more long-term solution. Creating another pitched roof to match the one over the kitchen will be the way to go. All we have to do is consult with friends here who know somebody to do that work. Larry can stay while the work is being done and supervise along the way.

Once the roof is recreated, we can either pull off or just paint the dark paneling on all the walls, paint ceilings, and replace all the windows. We need a new screen door on the front, and Larry will create a second egress in the living room. We'll tear out the garden in the "L" of the house, and build a new deck onto which the new door will open. Then we'll get a power awning installed over it. The big thing here in the south is the need for shade.

We have to re-roof the pump-house and replace the current water system. Our water is high in iron and manganese. It turns everything orange and black. We change the multiple filters often, but I can't wash clothes here without replacing the system with a more reliable one. Larry has been doing research and has a plan for this. Once this has been completed, we'll buy a small, apartment-sized, stackable washer/dryer system. We looked in Lowe's and Home Depot, where they used to be, but none were on the floor. Hopefully, they are still sold online.

We're not sure how much this down-scaled renovation will cost yet, but it is in general cheaper to do construction down here. Hopefully, we won't have to drain our retirement too much to get it done soon. We're making do just fine as it is, but with some workers and sweat equity, we can make it even better. I'll keep y'all posted.