Sunday, June 8, 2014

For the Birds

I just want to start out by saying how exhausted Norman is from being a complete jerk of a dog today. He started out the early morning by going for a hike with me on the Barn Island Trail.  We decided to not do the 'loop' which ends up at the end of our road because our neighbor there has several roaming dogs that Norman immediately tries to pick a fight with.  Trying to avoid that scene, I opted to walk the trail 2 miles in one direction then double back.  May I say Sunday @ 7:30 am seems to be take your dog(s!) on the trail without a leash day.  I did not get the newsletter since I spent one hour fending off unleashed dogs from Norman.  One woman, as her dog was galloping at full speed toward us, yells 'he's ok, he is a puppy'...and I say 'he's not, he is dog aggressive' -  needless to say after holding Norman back with the strength of Hercules while he was snarling and she unable to catch her dog as he danced around Norman (no leash and none with her), I did give her a bit of flack about not even having a leash with her ( it was at that point my third unleashed dog encounter and I was exhausted). In the house with another dog Norman is fine.  On a leash, crazy.  

Despite the crazy dog, it was a spectacular weekend weather wise.  I saw egrets in the marsh, a hummingbird in our flowers and Irv and I saw two Baltimore Orioles in our backyard.  

Later in the day, we got to launch one boat then watch our septic system overflow.  Let me explain.  First, over a year ago Irv built a wood dinghy.  Beautiful small boat that until this weekend never saw water.  We brought it over to my parents where we got to give her a maiden voyage- yea!  She floats and no leaking!

She is light and fast and most important seaworthy!   Then we went home.  I was doing several washes since our washing machine in Princeton went bust when Irv saw sewage coming out of the overflow valves.  Ugh!   We had to call 'a guy' immediately.  Good news, it wasn't the cesspool failing.  Bad news, the pipe to the septic was clogged and is caving in.  More $$$$$.  There is nothing worse than septic problems.  They stink!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tashtego's launch and Norman's Seafaring Adventure

"This past week was quite momentous for us.  First, Tashtego (Irv's beloved Bristol Skiff) finally saw water for the first time in over a year.  When we returned from England Irv got the good news that there was a slip available in a marina close to the Hippie House.

It is small, clean, has really nice owners and is the last marina on the Pawcatuck River as it opens into Little Narragansett Bay - a 5 minute drive from the house. Saturday we took a boat ride.  What a beautiful day.  It was good to see Irv 'back at the helm' - especially because it has been 12 months since he was in the hospital for his heart valve operation and that long since he has been on a boat.

Very exciting as this was also Norman's first time on a boat.  We are giving it a try.  Thank goodness we bought him a life vest as it served as a double restraint keeping him in the boat when a flock of swans came swimming by.  As a Pointer,  he loves his birds, rabbits, and wood chucks.  No rabbit is safe In our yard (poor things).  He is quite a birder!

He was mesmerized!  And he loved the ride! Note my restraining him.  He just wanted to push the envelope.  

As for the gardening, 35 bags of mulch later Irv and I finally weeded, mulched and planted (for now) the garden in front of the house.

Gardening is an act of faith and love.  I am looking forward to seeing how (or whether) it fills out like the gardens we saw in England.  

Footnote:  I should note that someone did take the Buddha statute on the trail (sad!) but we did get to meet the person who manages the Boy Scout camp who stopped  to introduce himself while we were gardening ( Fran, the Boy Scout man).  He gave us permission to walk on the camp grounds and all he wants in exchange is for us to  keep an eye on the place.  Deal!  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hummingbirds and Hostas

It is Memorial Day weekend and we have been at the Hippie House 9 months.  Where did the time go?  We haven't been here for weeks.  We are in the process of trying to put down our paint brushes ( at least for a while) and focus on putting a boat in the water and taming the wild yard that is emerging.  The weather is not cooperating with forecasts of showers on and off all weekend.  But after spending 10 days driving through the English countryside, it is hard not to want to get our gardens to look like these English beauties:


 We saw wisteria and clematis draped cottages, gardens filled with blooming columbine, bleeding hearts, iris, artichokes, lettuce and onions.  I will give it a try.  I am hoping this is the 'before' picture of the front garden.  Let's see how it looks in August.  

 The yard has some things going for it.  First, the Hostas.  There are tons of very mature Hostas all over the yard.  Second, we are starting to see some of the perennials emerge - bleeding hearts, columbine, perhaps phlox.  I saw one hummingbird yesterday and another on the pink columbine this morning - a ruby throated hummingbird.  And finally (not a plus but a fact of gardening life) the weeds!  There are tons of weeds-everywhere-in every patio paver crack, throughout the gravel walks and taking over every bed.  Back breaking, hand pain weeds.  Ugh.  But today we are going to visit a couple of plant nurseries and see what we can find that doesn't break the bank account!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lewis- a great dog

On Monday, our beloved 15 year old dog Lewis passed away - leaving us with joyful memories but a bit of a broken heart.  He was such a sweet boy and he was the last of the marauding Gang of Four ( Cody, Clifford, Ernie and Lewis) when we were insane enough to have four dogs at once.  

When we first saw Lewis it was love at first sight.  Irv and I were watching a local TV show when 'Homeless Tails' came on promoting Lewis ( then Winston) for adoption.  He had been neglected to a point that the shelter had to surgically remove his collar.  We called immediately and drove down to south Jersey to pick him up and whisk him home ( he took one look at Clifford and immediately ran back into the shelter but they quickly became dog pals).  

A year later Irv tells the story that he and Lewis were watching the same local TV station when there was a year in review of Homeless Tails showing pictures of all the dogs that had been adopted. Irv says that when Lewis's picture came up he got off the couch and sat in front of the TV.  When his picture passed he returned to the couch.  

For 15 years he has been a joy - a dog who always gave kisses and wagged his tail when he saw you -- even at his last moments on earth.  He loved life and despite the vet telling us the last four years that he was dying he persevered.  We are grateful that on Sunday he did what he loved to do - walk the yard, bark at neighbors, eat roast chicken and lay in the grass on a sunny spring day.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Goat on the Goat House

While the days seem to be warming up in Princeton (Ptown) , this spring in Ptuck (as Irv likes to call the Hippie House location) is still a bit cool and damp.  We have been up in Ptuck the last two weekends trying to get the 2 guest bedrooms and bathroom finished before Memorial Day.  I think it is fair to say they are 'guest ready' for the most part with the exception of the bathtub plumbing (which is currently operating on plumber time which is not like our time but more like 'whenever').

The yard is now cleaned up and seeded thanks to Jim, George and Dave referred by my Dad.
Now the detail work (weeding, edging and planting) is up to me and will be my summer and fall project ( along with some clean up of 'the doll house' and 'the goat house'.)  Irv surprised me with a permanent 'goat on things' (see ' gift - a goat weathervane so a goat will always be on the roof

The dogs, however, have not been as energetic about pressing to get things done.  Their days consist of trying to get up on the furniture, scaring the neighborhood horses, barking at other dogs and sleeping

Caught in the act.

The horses ignoring me after Norman scared them.  

Irv's friend Linda from Nova Scotia stayed for an evening visit with her lovely dog .  Irv enjoyed catching up and I finally got to meet someone I have heard so much about.  She didn't even blink when we talked while running around trying to kill the giant flying ants that started to emerge in the library.  Nice!  And I had been just thinking how this house was (or so I thought) bug free versus Ptown ( ants and moths are hatching).  Reminder #1 of what I do like about Winter: no ants, snakes, moths, dead baby rabbits ( thx Norman), skunks or dead birds (again thx Norman).  

This week, we start to prepare for Irv's birthday trip to the English coast and savory pie making class!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beautiful Spring Weekend

Eight months at the Hippie House and we are still painting - it seems to never end!  It is Monday morning and this is a first.  Irv is staying in CT for the week - with both dogs- and I am taking an early morning train from Westerly RI so I can get to work in New Brunswick by noon.  It has been a quiet ride up to New Haven where the train filled up quickly.  A beautiful morning chugging against the coastline.  I was able to get a glimpse of the Coast Guard Academy's tall ship Eagle which is docked next to the New London train station.

Lots of nesting Osprey on telephone polls along the tracks.  Irv is spending the week painting (what else?) trying to get the bathroom to near completion.  And today we have a landscaper coming to do some general clean up and later in the week our new friends Dave and his father Jim will start the heavy duty cleanup of the debris and fix the stone fences.  There was a point over the weekend where I felt a bit overwhelmed with it all but we decided we needed to set some priorities, break down projects into small pieces, remember to relax and enjoy the area, house and family nearby, and remind ourselves how fortunate we are to be both here and in Princeton.  

Our weekend relax moment was to visit one of my father's favorite places -the Westerly Packing Company-which is basically an Italian market near the Pawcatuck River that specializes in meats especially the local sausage called 'soupy'.  

 They also sell wine and beer making  supplies.

Irv was looking for a ham for Easter and they did not disappoint.  The owner just happened to be finishing up cooking a few of their own - yeah, one ham down.  We then decided to check out the local Saturday farmer's market in Stonington where our neighbor sells bird houses.  The winter location is in a former Velvet Mill that has a brewery and art studios.  

Drink beer and buy art.  Artists and bars go together like ham and cheese.  The market is not big but we were able to get some local eggs from the Davis Farm (which is close to us) and some bread.  People love their chickens here as the local garden stores all had chicks and ducks for sale (they just passed an ordinance limiting the number of chickens based on property size). 

I will be in the Princeton house without man or dogs - the first time in say 10 years!  I am looking forward to getting some birdhouses and furniture finished and visiting the Studio to see if the Ox has arrived.  Today is supposed to be the day!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Buddha, Boy Scouts and a Bathtub

Spring is finally here and we spent the weekend at the hippie house  ( I hadn't visited for a month) assessing the state of the yard and ( of course) painting.  We managed to get in touch with a few landscapers so April we will see some serious yard and garden clean up - yea!  

We are making some progress on the two upstairs bedrooms and bathroom.  It seems the trim painting is endless but 'Abby's' room as we call it is nearly done.

The room has a loft.  Irv installed a ladder so I was able to get up there and clean and paint.  I love the spot.  Great 'girl cave' for reading and napping.  I just have two doors to paint ( must wait for warmer weather so I can do those outside) and some curtains to buy or sew and done!  

In the tiny front bedroom we finished the wallpaper.  Irv needs to finish installing trim and also put a shelf in the closet.  I need to figure out shades (I am seriously window treatment challenged, for sure).  We just have to figure out how to get a full size mattress up the narrow staircase.

Most exciting was getting the claw foot tub re glazed over the weekend.  This is our version of excitement.

BEFORE, and........
AFTER!  Irv will paint the outside of the tub this coming weekend then sand and paint the floor.  It seems endless.  And we need to hire a plumber to put in the tub hardware.  So many little details, but we love this stuff.  At least you get a sense of accomplishment.

This weekend we noticed that a group of Boy Scouts were camping almost in our backyard.  There is a camping site cleared on the Scout property behind our house- in the summer you can't see it but Irv and I have walked up there.  It's a nice spot with a campfire and log seats.  They set up tents and sat around the campfire ( I know because I could see them with the binoculars!). They had a soggy night but were out and about hiking the next morning banging on pots and pans and singing as they hiked (here is a pix of the merry scouts).

I ran into them as I walked up the road to the trail behind the house.  I have been going up there at times to pick up the garbage (as you can imagine, mostly beer and soda cans, cigarette wrappers and condom wrappers.  As the young man who is doing our landscaping said 'I used to go up there to party'!  And I said that now I pick up your garbage and spy on you with my binoculars.' ).  Someone at the trail head left a Buddha statue - sad but our first thought was that we hope no one steals it. But I love the fact that some one did this.

Finally Sunday was such a beautiful day that Irv and I managed to get a walk in on the trail.  Lots of nesting Osprey and bluebirds.  

Irv in the trail with a curious Norman.

 One of the many Osprey nests on the trail.

I almost forgot.  I met another neighbor - Tim.  He is a carpenter who likes to build picnic tables and bird houses and sell them at the Stonington Farmer's market on Saturday mornings.  We bonded over bird houses and within one hour of talking he left me a newly made unfinished pine birdhouse on our front step.  I ended up buying a few from him.  It seems there is a thriving cash economy in the area with lots of folks doing odd jobs or making things to bring some money in.  We feel right at home.