Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dad's Dahlia's

My dad has a green thumb.  He always has.  For the past few years he has been using it to not only grow a bountiful vegetable garden but to grow dahlia's too.   Dahlia's are not for the faint of heart.  They aren't easy.  They take care and doting and work.   Perfect for my dad.  He is a scientist.  And in the garden he is constantly trying out different solutions to keep the animals at bay.  I can attest that they LOVE to eat dahlias.  Very few of mine made it this year.  The bunnies munched them down to the ground to the point that I thought I was losing my mind and hadn't really planted them there.  My dad is Mr. McGregor in the garden.  He has all sorts of traps and netting and wire to keep the animals at bay.  And his dahlias thank him for it.  An entire corner of his yard is dedicated to the dahlias.  They are planted and staked and protected more than Fort Knox and left to their own devices with a little watering and pruning and futzing by my dad.   

Dahlias are not annuals and they are not perennials either.  You need to take the tubers out of the ground in the fall after the first frost when the gorgeous blooms finally stop producing.  Then you have to split the tubers up, throw away the biggest one, and save the rest in a cool dry place over the winter.  In the Spring some people just plant them right outside.  Not my dad.  He plants them in pots inside so they get a jump on growing before it is safe to plant outside in New England.  Thus his huge dahlias.  Many grow taller than him!  Of course he grows so many that he shares the small seedlings as well.  We bring them home and plant them in our gardens and our containers but they don't seem to have the impact that they do in his garden.  They don't grow as tall or fill out with as many blooms.  And if they survive the rabbits munching they bloom too close to frost to get a bounty of blooms from them. 

He married the right woman for many reasons.  One being that Penny is an extraordinary flower arranger.  His flowers and all their beautiful colors are her palette to create her art.  Come August the two of them arrive everywhere with buckets of flowers to share.  There are so many they couldn't possibly keep them all for themselves.  He has 30+ different varieties of flowers from small tight blooms to large "dinner plate" dahlia's that are literally the size of a dinner plate.  They are all gorgeous.  We are so lucky to be the recipients of their gardening generosity.  I would like to learn how to overwinter dahlias.  Hopefully this year he lets me know when he is going to bring them in and do his magic.  This is a skill I would like to inherit from my dad.  The gift of gardening and patience and creating and giving beauty.  They have given away the flowers for their nieces fall wedding, for church displays and for countless neighbors tables.  What a gift it is.  Thanks Dad!  

Pies & Penny in their Dahlia Patch.  

Snapple jar displays in the cottage window. 

A water jug full of their summer beauty. 

A touch of color to add to the coffee station.  What a nice way to wake up!

A little beauty added to washing dishes.  We don't have a
dishwasher at the cottage so we spend a lot of time at that sink! 

The view out the back window.  Sunflowers and Dahlias mixed together. 

My favorite wall vase filled with dahlias.
Flower design by L! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ch ch ch changes...

I found this picture on the Crescent Lake Facebook page.  It looks like a painting.  I loved it.  Even more when I realized that our cottage was right below the cloud.  

The leaves are starting to change already in New Hampshire.  Not all of them but enough to make it feel like it's almost fall.  Because it is.  Tomorrow.  The air is cold in the mornings and at night and the warm sun warms up the cottage during the day.  It makes for a beautiful drive to and from the lake.  There are a few leaves changing around the lake as well but the majority are in the low lying areas on our drive where it is swampy and the roots of the trees are wet.  I love fall.  It could possibly be my favorite season.  It is growing on the girls too.  They were oohing and aahing over the colors on our drive to and from NH this weekend.  Rod and I made the trek up and back two times this past week.  

We were up from Thursday to Friday last week.  My mom came and stayed with our youngest and oldest for the night while our middlest was at Nature's Classroom.  They had a great night baking and cooking for Grandma and barely noticed our absence.
Welcome home hug from her little sis!
There was not a lot we wanted to change about Duckhead.  We had a few new pieces of furniture and a few new decorations but the bare bones of the place we loved.  Of course we have made a few changes to make it our own.  We painted the ghastly pink room a more neutral vanilla and last week we painted the living room from green to gray.  Rod was heading up anyway to check on the construction of the room under the house.  We decided in order to use the house in the winter it needed a little more winterizing.  We had Norm build out a room under the house that is big enough to encompass all the pipes and things that can freeze under the house.  He was just finishing up as we arrived.  Rod worked under the house to hammer in hangar nails that some previous worker forgot to add to the addition.  I was nervous all summer that our front porch could collapse if too many people were in that room.  Rod ensured me it wouldn't.  He and Haley added some nails at the beginning of the summer and he finished the job last week.  He also got all the heaters ready to install around the house.  So much for this place already being winterized. The tales of freezing pipes and having to turn off water made us a little leary.  Hopefully all of this works and we can use the place all winter long.

One of the many new heaters. 
Meanwhile I was upstairs painting the living room and making a mess.  The green was fine and goes with our Duckhead colors but I wanted something more neutral.  Since Rod was going up anyway, we had already bought the paint in the spring, and it was starting to get cooler in the house, I decided it was now or wait till the spring.  I wanted a warm gray living room.  I liked the idea of the color not competing with the bright color palette in the kitchen.  Neutral walls let me have more fun with the artwork and pillows too.  When I started painting I worried that the color was too cool.  I love gray but at home I usually paint with more tan or beige colors so this gray seemed very cool.  Especially in contrast to the green I was covering up.  But once I was done painting the whole room I decided that I loved it.  I love the neutral walls.  They help make the scenery of the lake and the green hill and woods out the windows stands out.

The green was fine. 
The gray is better!
This photo shows the contrast between the two colors. 
And this one the mess on the way to getting the job done. 

We also came up for one night over the weekend with the girls and the dogs.  The girls are getting really good at packing up and hopping in the car.  There usually aren't any complaints about the drive either now that they are older.  Although they do seem to fall apart the last ten minutes of the drive home.  Our friends asked if they could stay in the cottage while their son had a golf tournament in nearby Keene.  They hadn't been up this summer so we were excited to come up and share the lake with them, even for just a night.  We went for an afternoon paddle in the boats and did some late summer swimming.

That night we had a delicious bbq dinner complete with a quac off.  Haley against her uncle Rob.  Haley won! 

That night we shared a lot of laughs around the table and the fire while looking at the Milky Way.  We had a lazy Sunday morning just talking and drinking coffee.  We had their daughter on Sunday while their son went to his golf tournament and we took her to our favorite new hot spot, the falls.  Despite the chill in the air the girls opted to jump in.  After they rescued a GIANT bullfrog they had found who accidentally ended up in the huge pool, swirling in an eddy made by the waterfall and trapped for what seemed like forever.  Once he got out of the pool and was resting comfortably on a rock they decided it was safe to jump in.

We came back to the cottage to warm up by the fire with a little lunch with our cousins. Later the girls had s'mores and did a little more boating.

mac n cheese and cantaloupe smiles

s'mores and warming up by the fire
Meanwhile Rod and I were cleaning up.  We have been changing sheets, emptying the fridge and cleaning the house each time we leave since we don't know who will be up next.  This adds a bit to the stress of leaving and makes the last few hours a little less enjoyable for Rod and I.  We need to make some changes.  We need to have a calendar in advance so we know who will be here and when.  If we will be the next ones up it would be nice not to have to clean and just enjoy every minute we have there.  Worry less about everything being spotless.  And the funny thing is we know our friends and family won't care.  They'll be looking at the lake and not the dust bunnies.  The perfectionistic cleaning kind of puts a damper on the end of our trips.  And we don't want it to.  We have to lighten up a bit.  We don't want to get burnt out from coming up for these spur of the moment trips.  We love it so much.  We need to remember to relax more and clean less!   Luckily once we get in the car we get to enjoy the long drive home through the NH mountains and the changing landscape.  It's always worth the trip!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Baskets, Barks, Bangs & Boosters

So our wonderful first summer at DuckHead ended with a bang.  Or actually quite a few bangs.  We had a terrific labor day weekend complete with a good old fashioned lake picnic with kayaking and canoe races, a picnic, gift baskets made and won and a road race.  We participated in the canoe and kayak races or rather Rod, L and H did.  K and I double kayaked down to the start line for moral support and cheering them on!  H came in first in her age category.  She was the only one her age out there in a kayak.  L and Rod came in a solid second in their family canoe race.  Rod is very competitive.  I knew he would never let them come in last.  No matter how hard he had to try and K and I were chuckling at just how hard he was trying.  His shoulders even hurt the next few days!  They all won shirts.  Later we found out that K and I could have entered too as one of two double kayaks and placed too.  Next year!

H with the other first place winners!

Later in the day we headed to the same sandy beach for the end of the summer lake picnic.  As newcomers we had to don funny hats and sell tickets for the basket raffle that helps pay for the picnic.  They supply burgers, hot dog, corn, rolls, condiments, drinks and desserts and everyone brings a side to share. It is quite a spread.  There are also loads of baskets so everyone enters the basket raffle in the hopes of winning.  We had a couple themes in mind for ours including a dog basket or a margarita and cowboy caviar basket.  We ultimately decided on a banana split basket and had fun shopping as a family at the local walmart to fill up a bowl with these sweet treats.  Maybe the family that won it made a good old "Vermonster" and filled the bowl with ice-cream, toppings and whipped cream, grabbed some spoons and sat around and enjoyed it all together.  (That was one of our favorite ways to celebrate friends birthdays in high school!)
At first I got away with H wearing my hat. 

Our sister in law is new to the lake too!

Our cousins playing with their other uncle on the sandy beach.
Beautiful spot.  Big turn out!
We ended up winning a basket but at first only because the woman next to us won so many that she was starting to feel bad and gave her winning ticket to our girls.  The girls went  up and picked a baking basket filled with a dish towel, flour, baking mixes, cookie cutters and frosting mix.  Yum! Low and behold we won ourselves a few minutes later.  The girls chose an arts and crafts basket for younger kids and proudly carried it over to their cousins.  We decided if we won again we would give it to the little girls sitting in front of us who hadn't won yet.  Well we didn't but the same woman who gave us our basket won again (all in all I think she won 7 baskets and gave away 3 of them).  We kept telling her to go play the lottery because her luck was so good!  She only bought 40 tickets.    And there were hundreds of people there.  It seemed like every group had at least one winner.  A fun way to pay for the picnic and end the day!

The magic ticket spinner.

Girls waiting to see if they won.
We got home about 10 minutes before my cousin and her husband and two of her sons arrived.  Rod started mowing the lawn and before we knew it we were meeting and greeting Summer.  They are one of the most wonderful families that have chosen to train Summer for the Guiding Eyes Program.  They get to potty train her and sleep train her and train her how to be the best dog for someone that is blind and then they have to give her up.  But they are doing this knowing that she is not their dog. That this dog will help another person live more independently with the security of a seeing eye dog.  She is an amazing dog and got along wonderfully with our two labs once she finally calmed down enough from meeting them to walk down the stairs.  She swam and boated and finally conked out.  She did a bit of barking too.  Apparently with guiding eyes dogs you have to ignore the bad behavior know matter how long it persists and praise the good behavior.  They don't ever want her rewarded in anyway for barking or not settling so they have to ignore her when she is doing either of those things.  She only barked when she was tied up and wanted to be with our dogs who liked to stay just outside of her reach on her tether.   We got to enjoy dinner and a fire and the lighted boat parade and fireworks that are part of the weekends celebration.   Our dogs bark after each and every firework as if they are answering the boom with their barks.  Summer was peaceful and not bothered by it at all.  Such a great visit.  It was a wonderful time to connect, chill out and cohabitate together.  Our kids don't know each other that well but they are second cousins and they got along great jumping in the lake, boating together and playing card games around the coffee table.  It reminded me of growing up going to Camp Becket with Alice and my other cousins and just hanging out all day.  Such fun time together!

A paddle around the lake. 
Cards with cousins
Sunset Paddle. 
Family pix minus 1. 

Lighted boat parade.
My dad and Penny arrived the next day for the start of their On Golden Pond week.  So happy to have someone taking us up on our offer to come and stay while we can't be here!  They got to cross path with my cousin and her family which was nice.  We all met at the falls that we have come to love so much and had a nice lunch together.

Going nowhere fast fishing shirt.  
Dad and Penny's Dahlia's and flowers added some color to the house. 

An afternoon nap on a rainy afternoon at the cottage.
That night it was raining and we tucked the kids in bed for their last night of Summer.  We woke up in the middle of the night to loud banging on our wall!  The girls were yelling and banging and woke us up out of a sound sleep.  We were so confused at first wondering what in the world was going on.  At first we thought they were fighting but about what in the middle of the night.  Then we thought we heard K yelling about a spider.  I was so annoyed that she woke up the entire house over a BUG!

She was dreaming away that she had crumbs in her hair and a chirping bird was eating them.  She woke up to realize there was something in her hair and first thought it was a mechanical bug!  Don't ask?  She was asleep and apparently this was her first thought.  It was even confirmed in her mind when she reached up and felt a rigid mass and thought that yes it was something mechanical.  Until it moved.  Then she swatted it away like you would a bug that you felt crawling on you.  She had her phone next to her and turned it into flashlight mode to see if she could figure out what exactly had been in her hair.  That's when she saw a BAT flying around the room.  She was smart and started yelling to wake up her sisters and tell them to get under the covers so that the bat didn't land on them. They then started banging the wall to our room which is right next to their bunk bed at the cottage and yelling to wake us up.  That is when we woke up to the bang, bang, bang on the wall.  We got up pretty quickly to figure out what was wrong and try to quiet them down so they wouldn't wake up my dad and Penny if they hadn't already.  The girls were hiding under their covers telling us hysterically that there was a bat in the room.

Rod kept an eye on the bat while I got the girls safely to the bathroom.  They were all completely confused and upset to be woken up from such a sound sleep to this.  L realized we might need shots (we had them about 5 years ago b.c we found a bat in our antique at home).  She was hysterical at 3 in the morning not about the bat that was still in our house but at the thought of having to get a shot.  I quieted them down and Penny and I made up the bed in the captured bedroom off of their room to give them a place to lay down.  There was no more sleeping for the girls the rest of the night.  I checked in on them periodically to K telling me she read on the internet that she needed to seek immediate medical attention, less than 1 % of bats have rabies and other fun facts she was gleaning off the internet in the middle of the night.  Rod and I worked on getting the bat out of the house and eventually used a fishing net that Penny reminded us we had.  Of course the first time he captured it the bat immediately found the hole in the net and climbed out.  I tied the net so there was no more hole and we captured it again but then couldn't figure out how to get it out of the house as it was under the net.  We eventually used a game board and managed to squeeze the bat between the net and the board and throw the whole set up out the window.  Turns out we should have saved the bat.  Ugh. Now we know for future occasions which hopefully never happen.  We've had our fair share of bats in our lives!

The next day I tried to call the CDC who is not taking calls at this time.  And Rod and Penny did a little research online.  Looked like we were going to each need two boosters.  We didn't need to start the whole rabies series over again but we needed boosters to ensure that we were safely protected from rabies.  I teared up when I found out.  We are all still traumatized from our last rabies shots experience even though it was 5 years ago.  The thought of my kids having to endure more shots just felt so unfair to me.  I had to have Rod tell them so I didn't get teary eyed.  But first we packed up the cottage, went for a swim with our cousins and went for a boat ride with our grandparents.

When we hit the road we told them that we thought we'd need two boosters but that we were going to call the doctor's office to find out.  The doctor on call was not much help and asked if Kelsey was feeling ok or felt sore anywhere.  Most people do not know they were bit by a bat.   The saliva in their mouth numbs the spot and the bite is so small that it is virtually undetectable or looks like a scratch.  I was not going to take any chances with my babies.  If you start showing signs of rabies it is too late.  The only way to prevent rabies is to get the shot before you show any signs.  So on labor day, our last day of summer we drove home and stopped at the nearest hospital where they determined that not only would all three girls need 2 boosters because they were asleep in the room with a bat but that we would as well since we handled the bat and were the ones that got it out of the house.   Kwas a good sport and was joking that she has super bat powers and worships bats.  She did everything to bring a smile to L's face.  L cried for almost 2 hours and was miserable before the shot.  H tried to hold it together to make things easier on her older sister.  Once she had the shot she said "Oh that wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be!"  The booster shots 3 days later were much easier on all of us!  I got a fever and was sore and had body aches after the first shot and  was coincidentally diagnosed with golfers elbow that started the day after the second shot.  So glad the kids had no adverse effects from the shots as they started school that week.

We are off to the cottage this weekend to plug up any and all holes before we have an exterminator come to eradicate them from the cottage.  We want them going out and not into the house!

This statement is so true!  Except the bats
and the skunks...