Monday, July 31, 2017

Postcards from the Lake: A Pretty Little Garden

I've been going to Gaylord, MI and Otsego Lake since I was a baby. In fact, my mom went there when she was a baby. You'd think I'd know every nook and cranny. But things change. (Boy, do they change -- but that's for another time!) I remember when downtown Gaylord looked like this.

Now it looks like an Alpine Village. I don't know if that's progress or not but it is a change.

And sometimes the changes are good ones. I have discovered the Demonstration Garden.

I had no idea this was there until I saw a sign for an art fair there. (I'm not sure I'd call it an art show, personally. It was about four booths, I think -- unless I missed something, but I looked pretty hard.). But the garden was delightful.

There is a maze (impossible to photograph unless you are above it!) and all sorts of pretty flowers.

I liked the hummingbird garden with a variety of flowers to attract plants.

Quite possibly, my favorite was the children's garden with their ABCs...

...colorful crayon markers...

...and a fun caterpillar.

This sun dial lets you stand on the month, put your arms straight up and the small stones in a semi-circle above it tell you the time. It works!

And I thought this was fun -- a washboard and bin to make some noise!

The raised beds and herbs were wonderful. There was even a grassy ground cover of thyme and yes, it smelled wonderful!

It's in a countryside area (well, not really, just seems that way) so you have some wonderful views.

I can't resist a trellis!

All the plants are well marked and the paths easy to walk on. There is also a greenhouse.

In all, a nice find! And it's fun to have something new to discover.

Who knows, maybe I'll take my watercolors there! Now that would be a first!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Celebration!

After that very depressing and sad last post about the house next door and the trees, I figured it was time for something a little happier. I came home from the lake last week for several reasons, including doc appointments, book club, a gallery opening and a massage. But the main reason was that it was Rick's birthday.

Now, this wasn't a "five" or a "zero." But I'm a firm believer of continual celebration till everyone is tired of it! We started with just us on Birthday Eve. Rick wanted to cook out so we had a really good bottle of wine...

...steaks, potato salad and toasty roasty tomatoes! I made carrot cupcakes for dessert -- his fave and by making cupcakes, we'd have treats ready for the upcoming celebrations!

The next morning he did a birthday ride with friends, followed by beer and snacks on the patio.

And that night, a celebration with friends. We met at one of Rick's fave brew pubs.

Our gang included Cork Poppers and other good friends. We munched on pizza and paninis.

I had sheets of old photos of the birthday boy to pass around for some good grins.

Everyone took home a cupcake with a complimentary baby picture!

And Rick loved it!

But if he loved that, he loved Celebration Three more -- because it was the kids and our Baby Grand.

Rick and little Carson seem to have a thing going on.

One thing is sure, he adores the little guy -- and so do I!

And so does Uncle Greg!

Kevin managed the grill -- wonderful ribs.

We enjoyed salads and yes, more cupcakes!

We tried to get Carson to nap. Even his pretty Mum couldn't make him go to sleep. You can tell these two are really bonded!

And of course, Dad and Sons photos are a must!

Best part of it? Seeing loads of smiles on Rick's face for three days!

And smiles on mine, too!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Postcards From the Lake: It's Hard to Accept

Blogger Lisa asked in a comment about what had happened up at the lake to the place next door, which I wrote about last October in THIS POST. I'll tell all, but first, here's a little background and the rest of the story for those who aren't familiar with this or have forgotten.

Last year, in late September, we headed north to the cottage, arriving late after a wedding. We've had this house for more than 50 years. I was 13 when my parents decided to get a place down the road from the family cottage, which my cousins still have. (I consider that the "ancestral home!")

It was a small cottage but on a lake and on one side, next to a vacant lot. The woman who owned the lot, my neighbor Eulah, lived in a small house on the lot next to it, so basically, Eulah's property was a double lot.

And it was beautiful. Pine trees I would guess were at least 100 years old. Huckleberry bushes where we could eat our fill and make plenty of "Eulahberry" bread.

It was a little haven, an almost-woods right on the lake.

And Eulah was wonderful, one of my "Ladies of the Lake" who knew all the stories and history of the area. She and my parents were great friends. When she died at 102, it was a sad day.

Now, to fully understand this you must realize we aren't on what I call the "fancy lakes." There are many lakes in the north (and area around the bays and Great Lakes) where the property is exceedingly valuable and when you visit them, you see very large, almost palatial houses. We're not that kind of a lake. Most of the homes are older -- there has been some but little building on the lake in the past 20 years because there just isn't land. And those who did build or revamp, for the most part, did it in a lake-oriented style. A log cabin, landscaping, cottage-style.

Now, with Eulah's death, her property went to her heirs who lived there for three years (it was a year-round house) and then the lot was sold. When we arrived on that weekend last fall, this was what we found.

Every tree was clear-cut. Every bit of foliage, every bush, every twig. It wasn't just for the footprint of the house or driveway or even to make a beach. That I could understand. But every single tree? It was what made it "up north."

These trees were enormous and all tall white pine. If you look in the photos showing from the lake looking in, you can see how tall they are. And Rick can show you how wide they are.

Where once you couldn't see across the way, you now could see three lots down.

When we returned this spring, we held out hopes for landscaping. (Not a lot of hopes, but a few.) What we found was a big house that belonged in the suburbs with a three car garage and enough blacktop to make a helipad. (I have considered slipping over in the dark of night and painting a big "H" on it but I suspect they have a burglar system and probably guns.) And don't be fooled by the trees on the right -- those are the neighbors on that side.

The trees you see on the far side? Those are on our side.

If that wasn't bad enough, to make it worse, they tore down one of our birch trees and brush/shrubbery to make room for their septic field. (Like they couldn't have moved it eight feet?) The picture on the left is before and the one on the right is after. Where Rick is riding in the photo on the right is where my car was parked in the photo on the left.

Mark and Katie, parked in that spot where you see my car above, last summer.


This is a view of the same spot looking "into it." You can see the angled birch tree. Some of those in the "second row" back may be on their side but the birches in front and that other, on ours.

And looking at it from the other direction, Rick last summer.

That bare spot on the septic field with the stick in it is where the surveyor we hired last week marked the property line. They didn't take a lot but it changed the character of the drive in.

To say we are heartsick does not begin to cover it. Broken hearted? Indeed. Angry? More than a little (at least about the stuff of ours that went). And baffled? Definitely baffled. Why anyone would want to do this to the land escapes me. Why not build this in town if you want no woods?

It isn't that the house is horrible. Like I said, lovely in the 'burbs. But it just doesn't fit.

Although the thought entered my mind of making that side of my house the ugliest thing that ever lived -- lime green portapotties on the property line, offensive political signs, and such -- I have come to terms that my best solution is to not look at it. But we also feel a little lost on what to do. We might have a case for some financial restitution on the trees that were taken down from our property. Is it worth hiring an attorney? Probably not.

So, as I said, I try not to look at it and instead am investing my energies into finding things that will grow really big and really fast in the lightweight, somewhat sandy soil. No birches. Maybe some tall hydrangeas or lilacs (because after the leaves go, we aren't there anyway).

I know Eulah, who loved the land fiercely and her dear husband Bill, are both turning over in their graves. I almost feel there with them.

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