Friday, August 23, 2013

Moving Forward

Front Facing the Lake
Plans continue for renovating The Lakehouse. We just need the bank to give us the money! We cannot seem to quench their thirst for personal, financial data. We keep waiting for a banker to show up with a phlebotomist. They better approve our loan soon because a dumpster is being dropped off next week.

Sunday is our twelfth wedding anniversary. We've decided to do an afternoon movie, Elysium, and have a very nice Italian meal at Roberto's in Bristol, RI. We have been wanting to eat there for years, but they are never open when we meander across the bridge. This time we have a reservation. It will be a lovely day, then on Monday, Larry will head south for three weeks. This will be the longest we've ever been apart!

Our eighteen-year-old friend, Darren, insists he wants to go with Larry and help him clean out our garage at the lake to get ready for the build. We have to make room in there to empty the house. So, the two of them will leave early Monday morning and drive down in one fell swoop. They should make it to the lake by midnight. Darren will fly out of Columbia the following Saturday to get ready for the start of his freshman year of junior college. It'll be a big help to Larry and a "last hurrah" for Darren before school starts. He's been working hard all summer, so this little vacation will be well deserved.

The pups and I will remain in Tiverton, lonely for our man, but we'll head back to the lake in October to start packing up the house. Things are beginning to move forward with this project at last.

Here is Larry's design: for the new and improved lake house.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Onward and Upward

The buyers who threw us for a loop by visiting a total of four times, letting us believe they were interested in making an offer to buy The Lakehouse said they are not interested after I prodded them in an email. I just can't continue to say, "Why did they waste our time then?" They all needed to see it to decide that, so now we know the path we will take. We will make it new again and keep it for a few years until the market comes back. Until that time, we will enjoy a newer version of it's charming self. And, I will trust that we will have all the money we need to live the life we choose. Amen.

Now, it's "onward and upward". I called the "rip rap" guy this morning and arranged another meeting with Larry for some time during September 9-11 to finalize details of reclaiming the shoreline we lost this past year from erosion. Larry will head down there alone next week and stay until September 12th. A huge dumpster will be delivered, and he can begin to clear out the garage to make room for our furniture. Because the roof will be torn off and replaced, we have to completely move out. My sister-in-law is collecting boxes for us, and in October, we'll head back to pack up the house.

It looks like, realistically, the demolition of the roof will not begin until later in October. Until then, the driveway entrance will be widened and the driveway itself will be resurfaced and leveled with "sitepak" or "crusher run" (a mixture of small rocks and bluestone, which when compressed will provide a firmer-than-dirt surface to prepare for big trucks to drive over it). A garden will be torn out where a new porch will be added and the concrete pad and "knee walls" for that porch can be built. Also, the laundry room addition can be built in preparation for a roof to cover the entire house, eliminating the flat roofs that cause us problems now.

There will be lots of chaos coming our way this fall. Stay tuned for our next big adventure. Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What the... What???

Will the Universe please stop playing with us? What is this test? To see how flexible we are? To see if we are really willing to sell our lake house? My head hurts.

A week went by and the prospective buyers never called back. So, yesterday, we're at my brother-in-law's house and at 2:13pm, I get a call. "Hello?"

"Hey, Ms. Gardner, this is Oakley." "Oakley? How are you?" "I'm fine. I just called to see if we can come see your lake house this afternoon. My parents came to church and have some time." In my head, I'm telling him to go f*&!k himself, but instead I say, "I'm surprised to hear from you. When we didn't get a call this week, we thought your dad wasn't interested." "He just couldn't get time until today," he tells me very matter-of-factly. In my head I'm saying, "You inconsiderate pr*&K!" Instead I say, "Hold on a minute while I talk to Larry. I'm in Chapin right now." After a minute of consulting with my husband, I get back on the phone. "OK, Oakley, I can be at the house at 3:00." "Great. My dad said that works for him too. See you then." Really? I think to myself. It works for him, huh? Just because he's a judge doesn't mean he can waste our time or leave us hanging. But, I got in the truck and drove home.

All the way home, my stomach was filled with butterflies. What does this mean? Are these people really serious? Will we end up selling just when I turned the key in my head to keep the lake house? I just let myself get excited about redecorating and thinking about what new things to buy: lighting fixtures and cabinet hardware. Just this morning I allowed excitement to enter my heart. Now what? What kind of sick joke is God playing on us? To the extreme, I'm thinking, "Is this like: Oh Abraham, kill your only son to prove you love me...Just kidding!" God. I know this is blasphemous, but that's where my head is going with this stuff.

Anyway, I arrive at the house and there are two trucks already in the yard. Holy crap I'm thinking. Well, I have time to get the key and open the house. I waved to the young wife sitting in her truck (the one I was sure wasn't interested in living here). She waved and smiled back. What kind of double agent is she? I unlock the house to two screaming, barking, crazy dawgs and smell this god-awful smell. I didn't want to seem presumptuous by hurrying up and lighting candles to mask the smell because I couldn't find dog pee or anything in a quick scan. So, I just said, "F*&!k it", and walked out to meet them.

Oakley's oldest son and daughter were running around and his parents were just lovely people. They were normal, country folk: very open, happy-seeming, friendly people. The judge even showed me a picture of a little bunny he caught for his grandkids when he was bush-whacking in his yard. Very sweet. The oldest little girl said, "I just love this space." Really? I'm thinking. What a grown up, cute little thing. So I offered, "Really? Well let me show you something." I led Grandma and the two kids to my hideaway under the Camilia trees. I told them I created it for our kids, but they weren't interested. In the end, I fessed up that I really created it for the child in me. They loved it. The boy's imagination just shot off like a jet creating games they could play under there. Grandma said it was just like the places they played as children. She was about my age. They touched my heart!

In the end, we still don't know if they will offer to buy it. We had a wonderful conversation, and the judge said the place had great potential. I told them it was a place filled with Love, and that Love lived here. It will take a very special person to recognize it's potential and to live in that Love to buy it. And, I told the judge that if he was really interested, to make us an offer to give us something to think about. I stressed that time is off the essence because we have a refinance package in the works and we don't want to get caught up in that and not be able to get out of it. If his gut told him he should buy it, he should make us an offer fast.

They left, and I sat reeling. I called Larry and relayed what happened. We're both scratching our heads, but I told him, "I can't go here. Let's just forget this ever happened and move ahead with our plans. I can't stand this see-saw anymore. I have to let this go and move on. If they come back, great. If not, then "no harm, no foul." What else can we do? We're leaving for Rhode Island tomorrow. He said, "If they make an offer after we're in deep with this refinance, then the price just went up." I said, "OK."

I'm calling the builder for a meet this morning.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It's Official!

The prospective buyers we met last week disappeared after coming to see the Lakehouse. I kept trying to give him an out, because the body language on his wife told me there is no way in hell she'd live here (it's a cottage that needs work), but he wouldn't take the out. I have to say here (because my friend, Mary Pat, convinced me that [spiritually] it doesn't help anyone to send a nasty email trying to force him to admit what an asshole he is) that we are very disappointed he didn't contact us in any form to let us know our property was not for them. I, personally, had much higher expectations of a Baptist preacher and his criminal court judge of a father to exhibit more consideration to people who have been up front and straight with them from day one of their insisting they wanted to come see the place. I asked him to let me know one way or another, but he didn't. Shame on him/them. Ok. That's enough venting. Thanks for listening. On to the plan.

I contacted our builder and left a message with his daughter that our project is "a go". We hope to talk with him or preferably meet with him on Monday to formulate a timeline. Our refinance package is in processing, but may take another month to complete. We've decided on a budget with contingencies factored, so here we go. Another build. Craziness is coming.

First, the entrance to our driveway has to be widened for big trucks and a dumpster to come in. The driveway itself needs stone and "sitepak" to support it for when the trucks come. We will have to cut back the Forsythia and other shrubs that have grown into the driveway and find/protect the sprinker heads that have since disappeared under those Forsythia before the stone gets layed. Opening the entrance means losing our chainlink, usually locked, gate. For now at least.

We hired a guy to lay "rip rap" on the shoreline for two hundred feet. We've lost a lot of shoreline this past year from storm-wave action. That should probably also be done before the build begins. And, we need to move the pontoon boat and trailer. Leave it moored against the dock while all this is going on? Haul it out of the water and pull it further into the yard? Have Larry's brother bring it back home until the work is done?

We will now need David and Mary Pat's pop-up camper to be parked next to the garage for electricity and to live in while we do the build. It gratefully has heat and air conditioning. That means moving a small log pile out of the way to make room and maybe cut some trees up and out of the way.

We think we should move out before the build starts. How much room can we make in the garage and will it all fit in there? We think so if we get rid of stuff in the soon-to-be-delivered dumpster. This will be a good time to weed stuff out from the past, and make room for new stuff once the build is done, like area rugs and ceiling fans.

This is becoming real very quickly. I am filled with just a little dread because of the increased debt and the huge inconvenience of getting ready. But, excitement is building in my heart too. It will be very nice to have a new-looking-and-feeling house here at the lake to live in for our five-to-seven-year plan. And, I will love having good water that won't stain everything orange, and not have to go to a laundromat or haul laundry to a friend's house.

I will express my greatest fear here, and this will be the last time I give it any energy. After this, I will let it go once and for all. Really. Here is my prayer:

Dear God,
     Since you have seen fit to let us keep the Lake House and make it new again, I trust that you will give us all the money we need to complete this project. Further, I pray that you will also continue to grant us all the money we will ever need to live the life we choose in the manner to which we have become accustomed. I will further trust that abundance will continue to fill our lives, and we will be given everything we need to live our lives well until our death. I know that giving means receiving, and we will continue to share our blessings to keep the energy of abundance healthy in our lives and in the Universe. I trust that I need never fear having to eat dog food to survive when I'm eighty or older, and will never have to become a greeter at WalMart to make ends meet.  Thank you, God. Amen.

Play ball!!!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Critter Magic

Larry and I were "noodling" in the lake yesterday afternoon, when something spooked a vulture in the trees high above our cove. Once that one bird started from its tree, many others followed suit. There were at least two dozen huge birds circling around the tree tops above us. It was really creepy and we both felt like we were playing a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's, The Birds, movie. We were mesmerized and couldn't stop watching them swoop and sail through the air; landing on branches above us or disappearing behind a tree top.

There have been lots of dead fish floating on the lake recently. And, there was a smell of dead fish in our cove. We saw a filleted fish left behind the other day. But, why so many huge birds in one small area? There were not that many dead fish around. The majority of fish floaters were in the deep water area near the dam. My brother-in-law told us when a fisherman catches a deep water fish and brings it to the surface, letting it go will kill it because it cannot handle the temperature change. "Catch and release" is not a healthy thing in this circumstance. It would be kinder to keep it and eat it.

This morning we sat on the pontoon enjoying our coffee. As we talked about the night before and our coming day, a May fly was doing Yoga on the little table. At least that's how I interpreted it's movements and its holding positions. It's supple body, elongated as a narrow worm, was curved in  a "U" shape to the tip of its slender tale from its outstretched front paws, held together in perfect alignment with the rest of its body, completing the "U" shape. Amazing. I wasn't even high to be able to appreciate its beauty. Then, all I had to do was look up and everywhere there were caught or dead May flies. Everywhere. Dead bodies floating on the surface of the lake and filling spider webs all around the boat canopy supports and in the dock railings. It is pretty gross to see that many just hanging there obstructing the view. But there you have it. The flies must have a second hatching. That's all we can figure. Usually they are around the end of May or the beginning of June. We've never seen them in August.

One last annoying critter thing. We have little black worms that I believe are tiny millipedes everywhere. I thought all the curled up little things on the floors everywhere were spider turds. But I realized recently that they are really dead worms. They appear seemingly from nowhere and are everywhere. We don't remember having them before. We've been at the lake house eleven years, and don't remember them. They don't hurt you, they are just annoying to have crawling all around, so we kill them or flush them. Why can't they just stay outside? It has been so wet around here. We've decided it's because of the intense dampness. The house has a pervasive mildewy smell. I hate it. I've seen a bit of mildew on the dark wall paneling also. It's pretty gross, and even running the air conditioners for two weeks hasn't helped the smell much. I burn lots of Yankee Candles. What else is a smell sensitive woman to do? This is part of country lake livin'.

Where's the magic in this story? It's in the "now you see 'em, now you don't".

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Life as a Catfish

Larry and I launched my brother-in-law's pontoon on the lake the other day. I was in the boat as Larry backed it into the water down our ramp with the truck. I was looking over the stern, watching to make sure the wheels stayed on the ramp when I spied a very large catfish swimming onto the boat ramp...very slowly. I yelled to him, "Better get a move on, Catfish, or we'll run you over!" He just kept crawlin' along.

I yelled to Larry, "Pull up! You're gonna go off the ramp." So he pulled up just as we got very close to the huge fish meandering across the ramp under water. I was relieved. This fish was huge! It was the biggest catfish I've ever seen. The feelers on his nose were actually thick as well as long. He was a big boy! Larry pulled up and we started to back down again.

As we backed down the ramp, I saw the fish in the center of the ramp getting very close to the trailer wheels. "Hurry up fish. You're gonna get squished!" I was getting very concerned and realized I was in the middle of a moral dilemma: do we just say to hell with the stupid fish and run over him, or wait until he crosses the ramp and out of harm's way. My first thought was to keep going to let Darwin take care of the fish. My second thought was guilt about thinking the first thought.

"Pull up one more time, Larry. You're almost there," I yelled once more. The fish moved so slowly across the ramp. "Will you get a move on, please, Mr. Fish?" I can't take this any more! Larry pulled up to straighten the trailer once more, and began backing down the ramp again. I noticed this time that as we got to the water's edge, Mr. Catfish was just passing over the other end of the ramp and out of our way. Thank God, I thought. I would have felt really bad about squishing such a huge fish. What kind of mess would it have made on our shoreline? Then, I couldn't believe I would have considered just running it over...again. What kind of person am I?

We backed the boat into the lake, and I maneuvered it up next to our dock the most successfully I ever have. Because my docking was so smooth and efficient, I felt rewarded for sparing the life of that catfish. Is this the Buddha in me? I don't know. I just felt grateful he saved himself and we didn't have to deal with cleaning up fish guts.

P.S. I just realized after writing this piece what really bothered me about the catfish. He must have heard the wheels coming toward him underwater, but the sound didn't startle him a bit. He just took his sweet time searching for whatever morsels of food he could find on the ramp. I'm sure he could swim fast if he needed to, but he didn't bother to do it even when I could no longer see him under the outboard motor. Didn't he care? Or did he just know he'd get out of the way in time if he had to. Searching for food on that ramp was the most important thing to him. I don't know if I could take such a risk in life. Maybe that's what bothered me. Does he have more faith than I do that everything will be ok no matter how dire things appear?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Enjoy Our Time

Crepe Myrtle we planted years ago.
We are spending time at the lake this trip just enjoying it. Yes, we met with our builder. He agreed that until we know if we're selling the place, we should put our plans on hold. A prospective buyer and his father are coming to see us Sunday afternoon.

We straightened out our credit report issues. Equifax and TransUnion had Larry's primary address wrong. Can you believe it? Our prospective lending bank representative couldn't believe an address could affect a social security number. Oh well. That's where we are as a society. The credit bureaus run your life, but you have to do their job. Unbelievable.  Anyway, the refinance is on target with an appraiser is coming Monday afternoon. If our buyer wants to buy, we have until Monday to cancel and get our application fee back. Let's see how this all plays out.

In the meantime, the pups and I went for a nice walk around our country loop. The sky was overcast, so it was not too hot or sunny for the walk. But, Mattie Grace pooped out early nonetheless, and I carried both pups up the last bit of a hill before making them walk the rest of the way home. The loop we walk here is about two miles around and they are out of shape. I've been lazy about walking them lately.

Then, I went food shopping. The Lexington Farmer's Market was in full swing, so I picked up some southern fresh produce: purple-hull peas, butter beans, "Hoppin' Johns" (black-eyed peas), boiled peanuts, peaches and corn on the cob, plus a nice looking watermelon among other things. After stopping at Publix supermarket, I took my booty home and crashed for the day. We sat on the dock looking at the "cooters" in the water and listening to the myriad of bird song over a cold beer. What a life.

This morning I "stripped" the hulled peas over coffee and now I'm getting ready to cook. We're having a lake party tomorrow with friends and family starting around noon. Tonight, we're going to a friend's house for ham and hash-brown casserole. I expect the "Cosmos" will be flowing as well. And, I'm bringing laundry. Thanks goodness for friends who invite you to bring your dirty laundry. Love you, Mary Pat!

Larry's out mowing the lawn right now, and I'm about to get started at the stove. My legs ached terribly all night, so I put on my new thigh-high compression stockings for the first time. Let's hope they help with the throbbing aches derived from my newly acquired varicose veins. Argh.

The sun is shining and it's a lovely day on the lake. Enjoy yours, Y'all.

Small Bee