Grist Mill Lake Reflections


January 27, 2018

     Today proved to be the warmest in a while, and the ice-free lake gave testimony to that. The work inside continued with everything progressing nicely.

     More ply-bead was added in the grand room, three sheets to be exact. Two more beams were also lifted and attached. This is so simply written here, but there is so much involved-measuring, sawing, aligning, lifting, maneuvering. And then there is the continual sweeping to try to maintain some sort of law and order.

     As we move along, Johnny keps adding extra furring strips. This makes the ceiling uniform and also gives solid wood to which to screw the ply-bead boards.

     The ducks are thriving here. Once again at least 200 were in attendance today. The savory vegetation in Taz' field and the cove seem irresistible, and today they were even in the waters where the island used to be. They all left at dusk, filling the evening sky at the same time as the incoming geese. There were so many birds in the air! 

     The geese came differently today. Some came in pairs, not as part of a large group. Others came normally, in their loud groups. It is interesting that regardless of how they arrive, they always quickly intermingle, seemingly pleased to be back together.

     In midafternoon today we saw a red-tailed hawk, perched in one of the mimosas, visually proclaiming its own majesty. Three beavers were seen cutting through the deeper water, right in the midst of the geese.

     And in a most surreal way, we heard the chorus of peep frogs right at dark. Peep frogs in January! The wonders of here never cease to amaze us!


January 26, 2018

     Anticipation leads to great joy upon the completion of the task, as today demonstrated. Finally, finally, finally! The electric company put the power line underground.

     The overall electrical system was upgraded to 200amps. The workers also moved the overhead power line, which ran from the power pole to the front gable, burying it underground. Relayed here in a few words, the process took most of the morning.

     Inside Johnny tranferred the power from the old box to the new. After this rewiring, he removed the old electrical box.

     He attached new furring strips to the ceiling in the living room part of the grand room. The purpose is to eliminate the uneven ceiling sections, so that when the sheets of ply-bead are put up, the ceiling will be one smooth surface.

     A most unusual event occurred on the lake this evening. The ducks and the geese were on the water at the same time. Normally, the ducks depart when the geese arrive, but not this evening. The twilight air was filled with a melodious blend of honking and quacking, nature's perfect harmony. In the midst of the avian togetherness, one beaver emerged and made its silent way upstream.


January 25, 2018

     Progress marches on, and today was industriously spent. While the cold continues to hold the outdoors captive, inside the kitchen section of the grand room it is becoming warmer and more inviting with its honey-glow ceiling.

     Most of the already-prepared special ply-bead was properly cut and then screwed into place. The challenging part was in lining up the pieces so that the inset grooves were continually straight. Johnny wisely added extra "hands"to the endeavor by attaching strips of furring to the walls and by making wooden button strips to the center of the ceiling. These temporary attachments gave just enough extra support to allow for the permanent fixations.

     The stenuous part of this day was placing three of the beams in their rightful places. Each beam weighs about 200 pounds and is 16 feet long, so these maneuvers were simple in concept but not in application. Once again Johnny's ingenuity saved the day, and this seemingly impossible task is now mostly done. The connections holding the beams to the walls are still temporaries, but the beams are in position, simply waiting for the permanent supports. Let it suffice to say the process involved a scaffold, two-by-fours, and miscellaneous pieces of wood, all of which gave support in one way or another.

     One lone goose was here this morning after 10:00, but it flew away eventually, no doubt going to the usual day-spot for the geese. Two geese had returned to the peaceful lake before dusk, but after dark others could be heralding their way in with their unique song.

     The ducks were here today in an uncountable magnitude. They seemed to feasting on the old vegetation in the new parts of the lake. They are a chattering bunch, but their vibrant colors add beauty to the winter-gray of the lake.

     A beaver was also spotted near the trail-side of the water. Its wake was such a clean cut through the calm surface of the lake, as it swiftly made its way into deeper depths.

     So much happens here, and every day is a different adventure. Yet, the peace and tranquility of Grist Mill Lake remains the same.


January 24, 2018

     The warmness of days past has caused us to yearn for a continuous stream of such weather, but, alas, that is not to be right now. Still, life flows on here, and at least the lake waters have ben released from the sheet of ice.

     Yesterday, Johnny and JR planed the pine beams for the grand room ceiling. The four-by-eight inch beams are going to add such a rustic elegance to the main room. A bit of minor planing is still needed, but overall these sturdy timbers will beautify the room so nicely.

     Today's Lowes' purchases consisted of the last eight sheets of ply-bead boards, new belts for the hand sander, and a new pair of knee pads. Lowes seriously should start featuring Johnny in their commercials.

     Small tasks completed included seting up the scaffold on wheels, which should prove to be invaluable in handling the beams. Johnny also took down the ancient light fixture in the kitchen. So many things done thus far have been in preparation for tomorrow's work-putting up the new ceiling in the grand room.

     The ducks and the geese were all here today, although not at the same times. The ducks especially seem to be pairing themselves, male and female. Every single day has revealed at least one unique feature, and today was no different. Yet, the peace is constant, always the same.


January 22, 2018

     It seems to lessen the day by saying today was mostly more of yesterday, but that is the case. Then again, a copy cat is the greatest compliment, so maybe today and yesterday will be content to stand together.

     The floor repair marched on, and at the end of the day, thankfully, it was completed. Fixing wooden puzzle pieces into small designated places is much, much easier said than done.

     Putting the poly on the ply-bead boards was also a slow, but steady, task. Now eight pieces are done, ready to become a section of the new ceiling.

     Ice once again has residence on the lake. It's not a thick sheet like before, but it is a hindrance to the geese. They circled overhead several times, clearly desiring to land, but not able to. Sadly, they flew over the ridge, presumably to land on the creek. Their discontent was evident as their honking floated over the ridge back to the lake where they longed to be. It is no wonder, for Grist Mill Lake must be one of the most tranquil spots on earth.


January 21, 2018

     Today was a necessary workday, needed after many continual days of wintry weather. The tasks were menial but so important.

     Johnny diligently and painstakingly repaired the small sections of flooring missing in the grand room. This involved carefully measuring the open spaces and then cutting matching pieces from extra floor boards. The challenging part was then getting these pieces into the floor so that everything would fit together. Seriously, it was similar to getting puzzle pieces, made of wood, to interlock while maintaining a smooth surface. Easy to describe, difficult to do!

     Polyurethane was rolled onto poly-bead boards, and then the boards were set aside to thoroughly dry. These boards will later become a main component of the grand room's new ceiling.

     Life on and around the lake continues to abound. The ducks and the geese are daily occupants, but there are so many signs of so many other life forms. The amazement of it all astounds and mystifies the sincere observer.


January 13, 2018

     The cold continues, and the ice on the lake prevails. Even thoughthe frigid grip of winter remains, the peace of Grist Mill Lake is constant, never faltering in the frosty land. 

     Today the primary work focused in the kitchen. Johnny took up the narrow section section of rotten boards that were under the now-removed old cabinets. This was probably from a water leak in bygone days, but that, of course, is pure speculation. Pieces of water-proof subfloor have now been cut to prefectly replace the removed flooring,

     We saw several pairs of bluebirds flitting about in the Rock Garden. Their intense hues of blue, red, and white were so beautiful and refreshing. Nuthatches and one chickadee added to the songbird collection, and the wonder of their survival abilities in the harshness of life amazes me. They are such tiny creatures that give such great joy!


January 10, 2018

     The ice on the lake continued its slow melt today, although it is still solid enough to walk on in many places. The fierce grip of icy winter is still visually evident, even though the air's fongertips are warm.

     We mostly worked indoors today, focusing on the floor in what was once the kitchen. We moved everything out, including the refrigerator, which we rolled into the living room side of the grand room.

     The old linoleum came up fairly easily with the more difficult task being pulling up the plywood underneath. The plywood had been screwed into place, and many of the screws stayed in the floor. Since they were too rusty to get out with a drill, we manually removed them with vise grips.

     What a treasure we discovered! The original floor looks splendid! With some light sanding this beautiful heart pine flooring will be ready to be refinshed and will then add tremendously to the overall warm honey feeling of this great room.

     There was some wildlife out today. In Taz' field we saw a muskrat scurrying across the ice surface. I hope it found some food on its excursion.

     We also saw the beaver, who was obviously enjoying a snack from the stash of limbs previously placed near the lodge. Interestingly, the lodge itself has been refortified with a massive collection of small limbs piled on it. I took a picture of the lodge just this past Saturday, and the mud forming the den was so evident. Now the addition of the new supply of branches makes it appear twice as lage as before.

     What does this mean? Do the beavers know of impending weather, soon to be their reality? It certainly helps us as humans to realize that we actually know so little, that in the universal picture we ourselves are only small threads in the magnificent tapestry of life.


January 9, 2018

     The icy wonderland continues to maintain its fierce hold on the lake.  Much of today's endeavors centered around coping with the results of the arctic temperatures.

     A major concern has been how the ice will melt and how, if they exist once the melting begins, the slabs of floating ice will affect the dam.  Today we took action to hopefully alleviate a pile-up of ice on the far-shore side of the dam.  To create a better exit portal, Johnny removed the top two wooden beams on the near-shore side.

     The original plan was to put a chain around each of the bridge timbers, which date back to when the dam had been repaired in the 1960's, and then, using the tractor to pull them, one-by-one, from the concrete structure.  But, alas, it wasn't to be this simple.

     The end that connected to the next section of the dam was somehow firmly and invisibly attached. To solve this hindrance, Johnny sawed each timber, separating the majority of it from the portion held securely to the next pier.  Then they were pulled to shore.

     The good news is that, with slight restructuring, these two old but sturdy timbers can be repositioned. For now, there is a section of the dam more open than the rest, one through which the ice slabs can more readily float over. In the future, it will be handy to have this feature about the dam-a gateway that can be opened or closed with relative ease.

     Since we already had the tractor at the dam, Johnny used it for a bit more work. With quite a lot of chain maneuvering, an old log was pulled further up the bank and then placed in a position for future final retrieval. This ancient log was at least twenty feet in length with the larger end having a diameter of about thirty inches. A small sapling was also removed. The two tree removals more fully revealed part of the original concrete slab of the mill.

     The other major undertaking of the day was replacing the water pump in the cottage. The extremely low temperatures of the two previous weeks had caused the other pump, itself just installed two months ago, to freeze and crack. Now, though, the water once again flows with great power into the cottage! A joy of life!

     At dark the geese flew over the lake, and their plaintive cries seemed to express a true desire to land. The lake, however, is still solidly frozen almost from shore to shore, and they continued onward. Soon maybe they can return to their chosen watery kingdom.


January 6, 2018

     Today was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for how often does one get to walk on the surface of a lake?  The extreme cold of the past two weeks has turned Grist Mill Lake into an ice wonder.

     The lake is frozen from shore to shore, with a solid surface of at least four inches.  We walked over the ice in many places, going out to the middle in some areas.  Of course, we moved slowly and cautiously, careful to test each area as we progressed.  I was more mindful of avoiding a broken hip than of going through the ice, although both would have been disastrous.  

     There are no words to capture the sense of what it was to walk on the surface of water, even if it was in the frozen form.  It was actually like walking on glass with the world below so visible from above.  The lake grasses underwater were very visible, and the large rocks in the deeper areas shown through clearly.  There was a feeling of the surreal when I focused on the thought of how deep the water was beneath the solid surface.

     The visual beauty was also outstanding.  There was such clarity overall, giving the appearance of having a sheet of glass underfoot.  Sporadically, conical snowy white shapes would be under the ice, spiraling upward toward the surface.  I can only wonder what caused these formations, each unique in its own way.

     In other places the ice was translucent, not clear at all but white.  Underneath, tiny circular spears of ice radiated upward, splendid whorls of frozen water pointing toward the surface.

     Also all over the lake, both in the glass ice and in the white ice, great cracks spread everywhere and seemed to extend through the entire depth.  Each fissure stretched for a distance and then would shoot off in another direction.  Miraculously, this multitude of splits and cracks did not weaken the strength of the firm surface.

     Auditorially, the lake was different today.  There was a consistent, loud sound, almost like a moaning.  It was impossible to determine specifically from whence it came because regardless of where we stood, the sound always seemed to be "over yonder."  It was a most eerie sound, but still we continued with our ice ramblings.

     The cove became accessible today because we easily walked over Frying Pan Creek-yes, it was frozen solid too.  Our long-time question was finally answered.  The cove extends all the way to the base of the upper ridge.  We had no trouble roaming over what is normally covered in water.  With its bunches of grass and small trees this is the perfect haven for the ducks and other types of wildlife.

     With its frozen cascade, the view from the backside of the dam was spectacular.  Nature so artistically has sculpted the spill-over into works of great beauty and elegance.  This artwork is beyond compare.

     Songbirds were present in abundance today, especially the bluebirds and the nuthatches.  We left crumbled crackers in the Rock Garden in hopes they would dine there.  The ducks and geese were not on the lake, but since the lake was a completely solid sheet of ice, this was no surprise.  There was evidence of recent beaver work, chips on the ice beside a fairly large gnawed-down tree, but the beavers were home, safe and warm in their impressive lodge.  In Taz' field we found many stumps, reflecting their continued enterprises on Grist Mill Lake.

      These meager words here do not adequately express the wonder of what today was.  To actually walk over the lake, to look down into the world underneath, to feel the shivery, biting cold of this ice-bound creation-there are no words that fully capture what this was.  It is accurate to declare that it was another representation of the marvelous workings of Nature, clothed now in her imperial icy frostiness, royal in her coldness, beautiful in her frozen glory.


December 18, 2017     

     Today was marked with resupplying for another week's work. A fierce determination to accomplish tangible results were also a driving force.     

     Johnny once again made a faithful visit to Lowes with some positive results. He purchased a jigsaw, which will be used to cut round holes in the plenum. (The plenum is a structure made of sheet metal, and it is used to direct the air flow from the furnace into the ducts to then travel throughout the house.) There are three ducts to connect to the plenum, so there will be three holes to cut with the jigsaw. The wonder and power of tools!      

     We covered the remaining water lines in the creek with the black drain tile. Johnny sliced each one, using the disc grinder. Then we slipped the water lines inside, providing the needed insulation against obstacles and cold.       

     Johnny used the hammer drill to break up the rest of the old chimney. The pieces of broken chimney concrete blocks will be relocated to the creek below the spring box, providing essential traction in the creek. This is a perfect example of the benefits of repurposing. It is nice to bring the chimney removal to a close.     

     The ducks enjoyed the shallow lake waters today, and the dabbling, or paddling, (words for a group of ducks on the water) floated serenely but with quite a few outbursts of quacking. The geese came in right at dark, and the ducks remained. Their unspoken system seems to have taken a new turn. Daylight should reveal if the two avian species coexisted all through the night.


December 15, 2017     

     A few menial chores absorbed the morning, necessary but unspectacular. The astounding gift of the day came from nature herself, the best of all for providing the glory of each day.     

     There was quite a bit of trash that had collected around the cottage. Today seemed like the perfect time to load this on the truck and cart it away to the dumpster.     

     We also added new Posted signs along the highway, coming from the bridge to the house. So many people slow down, sometimes stopping completely in the highway. We are pleased to share the beutiful view with all, but we want it clear that hunters and fisherpeople are not welcome here. The critters choose to be here, and we sincerely respect their need for safety.     

     Our gift for this day was a magnificent demonstration by the otters. Two otters played so freely in the water right in front of the mimosa quartet. Their sleek bodies glided so gracefully through the cool water. Their cheerful cavorting was a representation of true joy, a gentle reminder of the necessity of laughter and lightheartedness in our own lives.


December 14, 2017     

     Work inside continued today, and the warmth outside made a slow but steady reappearance. Each day marches on, and progress continues.     

     Johnny put up the boards on the last wall in the grand room, except in the corner where the electrical boxes are. The grand room is much grander now with the honey-colored walls all around. The room ha such a cozy feeling about it now, and this creates a desire to stay here, basking in the natural peace.     

     He also worked on certain light switches today, handily refiguring the wires. Now the light switches are in the corresponding rooms, no longer in strange places. This is a new luxury for sure.     

     Even though the ice was still on the lake, the temperatures outside gradually increased. The wildlife moved about, its life a bit less severe.


December 13, 2017     

     Cold, cold, cold-everywhere! The lake is frozen in huge sections in the main part, in the more shallow places like Taz' field, and as far as one can see into the cove.

     The water into the house was frozen this morning, with the culprit spot being where the pipe comes out of the reservoir. While waiting for the sun's heat to thaw this, we worked inside.     

     The doorway into the small bedroom has needed widening, and today was the day. Johnny used a skill saw with a masonry blade to cut the cinder blocks away. This was done relatively easily, except there was quite a bit of concrete dust.     

     To minimize the spread of the dust all over the room, Johnny constructed a small plastic tent around the area. Made from a sheet of thick plastic and three furring strips, this simple structure helped tremendously with containing the dust. Reaching from the ceiling to the floor, it captured most of the dust generated by the cut concrete blocks. A second sheet of plastic was attached on the other side of the door, blocking the dust from going on the other side. It was all a dusty mess, but Johnny's tent certainly minimized the concrete cloud. The end result of a wider door was well-worth the effort.     

     Johnny also hung a new door for the new doorway. The door was too long for the available height, so he used a skill saw with a wood blade to remove a portion of the door's bottom. Now the new entrance has a new door, a wonderful transformation.

     The bitter cold's grip on the land and the lake is fierce, but the power of the sun brought some relief today, especially in the form of thawing the frozen pipe. Once the water was flowing freely and Johnny verified there was no damage done, he covered the house-supply pipe coming from the reservoir with dirt. This will give the necessary protection from the cold.     

     Life here continues on in the most amazing ways, clearly demonstrating the wonderful perseverance of nature. Tiny song birds still flit about, obviously searching for food but so graceful as they do. There is continual evidence of the beavers' work, and the ducks and geese continue to adorn the lake's surface.


December 12, 2017     

     The promise of an even deeper bitter cold inspired us today to work quickly. Insulating the water pipes was the primary focus.     

     Segments of black drain tile now cover most of the lengths of the water lines in the creek. Johnny sliced the drain tile with the disc grinder, making an opening in each that was just enough to slide the two water lines inside. These segments of drain tile, now joined together and enclosing the water lines, provide the perfect conduit of insulation.     

     Johnny also replaced the weaker, thinner-walled water pipe. Now this section of the water pipe that comes into the house is better, thicker, and more secure.     

     The water line coming into the house was covered with dirt today. This will provide insulation, a protection against obstacles and cold.     

     Inside the house Johnny installed new receptacles and covers for both light switches and electrical outlets. These features give the rooms a sense of completion, while providing a quiet elegance with simplicity.     

     The temperature dropped steadily and severely throughout the day. The night life outside seems to be in a huddled state. On the lake the geese tucked their heads down against their backs, holding their body heat close as long as possible. A step outside makes one glad to be inside out of the frigid wind, grateful to not be tent camping tonight.


December 11, 2017     

     Winter has rushed in with a fierce swiftness, felt by all. The weekend's snow is still evident, and the lake world is hunkered down.     

     Work today was inside. Johnny worked on the electrical outlets, making the transition from the old power supply boxes to the new 200 amp breaker box. The new full circuit in the grand room has now been connected to the new breaker box.

     The wildlife here still flourishes. The ducks and the geese, both in outstanding numbers, continue to coexist on the lake. The ducks spend their days here, and the geese domineer the nights. The scheduling seems to suit both sets of feathered lake-dwellers.     

     Two beavers were spotted on the lake this evening. In silence they roam the tranquil waters, always searching for tasty trees. Their lodge stands across the lake from the rock garden. It is a testimony to the carpentry skills of these animals, the resourceful beavers, masters of wood and mud.


December 7, 2017     

     It was so nice to enjoy the new water system today, almost completely finished. Everything seems to be working properly!     

     We covered the pipes in the two short trenches, one for the house supply and one for the overflow. It was such a nice feeling to be this much closer to completion. 

A trip to Chatham for other land business took a big part of the day, but we did take some time to stop by the local historical society. The elctrical inspector had suggested this would be helpful with the history of this property. We did find several local history books with specific information for this particular parcel of land. It was most interesting and helpful. More on this will be written here later.     

     We saw bluebirds and goldfinches in the Rock Garden today. Their bright colors gave promise of warmth amd cheer in the days to come. Tiny and seemingly so fragile, they must possess an inner strength, which gives them the necessary grit to survive. Their mere presence gives joy and hope to all who stop to appreciate the display.


December 6, 2017     

     Even though our human nature wants microwave results, rarely do we get them. We worked on the dam for six weeks before we were close to completion. The water system improvements hopefully won't take that long, but the task has expanded to quite a few days. Today was mostly devoted to drawing closer to the end.     

     Johnny unrolled new water line, which sounds easy but is actually aggravating because it wants to go every way but the right way. We confirmed that the new line, an inch and a quarter in diameter, was going to work, and it did! Praises be! The extra quarter of an inch made all the difference.     

     The old water line was rolled up for future use. It is still functional and may be needed in another place at another time. It was a bit of a struggle to arrange the 200 feet of old pipe into some resemblance of a circle. Taping the sections helped.     

     The water line that supplies the house was connected to the pump. This worked too and allowed for increased water pressure in the house. Yay!!!     

     The electrical inspection went well, and everything was approved. Now we await the arrival of the electrical company to bury the line.     

     After installing the house supply water line to the pump, Johnny put that section of the floor back in place. The pump room was then organized and cleaned.     

     The birds continue to enjoy the lake, the ducks by day and the geese by night. Song birds fly from tree to tree, somehow sustaining themselves in the cold, seemingly barren surroundings. They obviously are wiser than we.


December 5, 2017     

     Today was busy, and the end result was uplifting. Some days creep along, but not this one.     

     Overall the electrical inspection went well. Almost all the components were properly done, so only a couple of adjustments are needed.     

     An antioxidant paste needs to be put on each end of the three main entrance cables. This is because the wires are aluminum, not copper. Copper wires do not need this. (I write this here because I had no idea. Every day is one of learning.)     Also, a new guideline requires the neutral cable in the breaker box to be color-coded a certain way. This has to be redone. The inspe The inspector will return tomorrow to ensure that these changes have been done.     

     The connectors were added to the in-coming and out-going pipes at the water reservoir. The in-coming pipe, from the spring box to the reservoir, worked well. The out-going pipe for the house also worked well, but the other out-going pipe, the one for the overflow, did not. This out-going pipe was too constricted by the couplings, so the pipe will have to be replaced with one with a larger diameter. This is a bit of an inconvenience but also a blessing, as it is the result of the excessive strength of the spring itself.     

     We started hand-digging the two short trenches near the house. One is for the house-supply pipe, and the other is for the overflow pipe.     

     We also put up the new gutter on the front porch. A temporary black gutter pipe was added to the downspout on the side gutter too.     

     Then we made a quick trip to Lowes to purchase the needed elecrical supplies. A downspout for the front gutter was also bought.     

     Days like today are so busy, but the serenity of the lake remains constant. The wildlife continues on, mostly oblivious to our presence. In many ways, this is a tremendous compliment.


November 30, 2017     

     A day of joyous discovery unrolled itself today! Not a lot of progress was made on this short workday, but the discovery was such a pleasant surprise.     

     The major undertaking for the day was to mostly finish the water hookup. Everything continued along with this plan, until it all suddenly came to a stop. We lacked two necessary couplings at the reservoir. The best laid plans often change, and there was nothing to do but put all of the water system improvement on hold.   

     Since the water work halted for the day, we went out on the lake on the dock. This was much more fun and rewarding.     

     We had been wondering where the beaver lodge had been constructed, deciding it must be upstream, probably in the cove beside Taz' field. Today, though, we realized it's right here, just on the other side of the island.     

     If we had not previously traveled that section of the lake so much, we probably would not have noticed it. The pile of limbs at the edge of the water was so out of place, though, that it really got our attention. Then we saw the dome-shaped mud structure attached to the land-side of the limbs. The handiwork of these master craftscritters is so beautiful and functional, and it's right here, straight across the lake from the Rock Garden.     

     There's another stash of limbs nearby. Time will tell if this is for a future lodge or for midnight snacks.     

     The wonders of nature here daily amaze us. Our gifts are revealed all the time, especially the peace that we receive.


November 29, 2017     

     Another abnormally warm, so beautiful, day revealed itself again. Life here continues on with much progress and daily gifts.     

     The first project today was to pour a concrete base in the reservoir put in yesterday. One hundred fifty pounds of cement mix were mixed with water in the mud pan and then poured carefully into the reservoir. This involved much stirring with a hoe first and then a transfer from the mud pan to a small bucket. Even seemingly simple tasks often require multiple steps.     

     After the base was poured, Johnny cemented to the reservoir the connections for the inlet, outlet, and overflow pipes. This was all to create seals to protect the purity of the water.     

     New water line was put into the already-prepared ditch, running from the reservoir to the house. This line is made of a thicker plastic and has a greater diameter than the old. The extra thickness will reduce the risk of puncture by rocks, and the larger diameter will logically increase the water flow. Theamount of available spring water is an exceptional treasure.     

     The wall that received boards last week was stained today. The rich honey color of the preservative adds such a glow to the cottage.     

     A quick trip with the tractor to the lake shore allowed us to easily gather the rest of the supplies brought from the old docking area. Organization, of our thoughts and of the supplies, is an important, ongoing process.     

     Inside, Johnny started the procedure of installing the new breaker box. Not completed but definitely begun, this is a complex procedure to be done only with prior knowledge. Thankfully, Johnny is wise in many ways, including electricity.     

     The mallards were back this morning, after their departure last evening. Their boisterous quacks have become a common part of here, and it is our gift that here is where they choose to be.     

     A new creature was seen this morninin the lake-a lovely otter! Watching it cavorting in the lake water brought us joy. It swam quickly, arching in and out of the water, obviously enjoying itself in the warm sunshine. It was such an uplifting sight to behold.     

     We received another special gift at the close of the day. In the approaching twilight the three groups of geese came, one right after the other. Our gift was that their splash-downs were close to the trail, so we were near all three groups. It is such an intensely touching emotion to realize these wild creatures choose to be here with us. It is humbling and uplifting.


November 28, 2017     

     Another sunny, beautiful day at the lake is what this day turned out to be. The gift for today was that all the work went mostly smoothly.     

     Once upon a time a few months ago it felt like all our lives were and forever would be revolving around the dock and its mooring spot. Today we cleaned up that area, loading everything onto the dock and transporting it to the other shore, ready to move to storage. So much work has been done here, and so much of it from the past months was launched from this little spot on the trail. Now that chapter is done.     

     More work was done today on the spring. Specifically, a section of corrugated black plastic pipe, called drain tile, was split and then placed around a section of the water line. The purpose is to provide extra insulation from the  rocks to this part of the water line.     

     Johnny cut the top and the bottom from a thick plastic black barrel. Then another bit of the barrel was cut off so that the cut-off top would once again fit as an easily removable lid. This open-ended plastic barrelwas placed over the first settling tank. First the muck and mud around the settling tank had to be dug away, some with a trowel. Once the mud was cleared away, the plastic barrel went around the tank with no problems. Quick-dry cement was carefully poured between the tank and the barrel. As the water quickly seeped in, the dry cement  mixture rapidly became concrete grout. More was placed around the outside of the barrel, providing more concrete grout. The purpose was to seal the pipe coming into the tank and the water line going out, preventing debris from entering the water.     

     Thankfully, the tractor was able to life the concrete riser from the trailer, with the help of chains. A precut square of plywood was placed into the already-dug holeat the end of the first 600 feet of water line. With careful maneuvering by Johnny, the round concrete structure was placed into the hole, onto the plywood. Future work will turn this into an underground water reservoir.     

     Inside Johnny continued working on the ducts, and the shiny new heat-carrying channels are now in place. He also spent energy breaking away the old chimney in the pump room. It has been a productive day.     

     This morning we saw the beaver for the first time in the early hours. There was also fresh evidence of recent tree cuttings, including a ten inches white oak! Wow!     The ducks were here today. Many mallards were observed, and I also saw three hooded mergansers. The mallards flew away at dusk, probably prompted by the reappearance of the beaver.     

     And the geese! So many of these regal birds came in this evening!


November 27, 2017     

     Mondays are so often the resupply day, and such was today. It was a beautiful day with sunshine and winter warmth.     

     A concrete riser now awaits being put in as a water reservoir. It will go in the hole already prepared at the end of the first 600 feet of new water line. Holding an estimated 100 gallons, it will serve as the second settling tank, ensuring that the already crystal-clear spring water will be even more pure.     

     To allow access to and protection for the first settling tank, a plastic barrel, with the bottom removed, will be placed around the tank. This will allow for inspection of the settling tank, inside and out, while also giving a layer of protection.     

     More wodd boards for inside were purchased today. The tongue and groove pine boards should be enough to finish the grand room, a long-awaited event.     

     The last two needed kitchen cabinets are now here. The entire set is stacked neatly in the middle of the kitchen area and will soon be installed properly.     

     Johnny put in a part of the new duct work. The shiny air passageway will allow the warmth from the electric furnace to flow into the grand room, adding to the coziness of the cottage. The tedious, dreaded process of replacing the ducts has begun.     

     The geese came in right before dark. The quiet small group arrived first, splashing down in silent grandeur. Shortly after, the other two groups joined the first. Their soothing voices soon filled the evening air, a most welcome sound.     

     Two beavers were observed this evening also, both swimming swiftly, their silent wake causing ripples on the lake. Freshly gnawed willow stumps give evidence of their recent work.


November 22, 2017     

     Sometimes the more a person works, the more energy that person has. Such is the case here. The land and the water fill us with a life force that invigorates us to do the necessary improvements.     

     The day started with rock gathering. Taz' bucket was most useful, giving us a handy tool for transporting rocks to the place where we cross the creek to get to the spring box. The more the heavy equipment crosses over, the worse it gets. The rocks will help this tremendously.     

     Taz was also used to smooth the spring road up a bit. Laying the water line made quite a mess, but Taz did a spectacular job with the clean-up. Now the healing of the land can begin.     

     The wood boards were put in place on the small side wall, so now that corner is mostly done. The new look is amazing and will be even more so once the stain is applied.      

     The wildlife here continues to abound. I saw a chipmunk today, darting here and there in the woods around the spring box. The geese and the ducks, both in large numbers, cruised around the lake with their honks and quacks blending in the autumn air.     

     To begin the holiday season the eagles were appropriately and prominently seen. While walking on the upper lake trail, we saw one eagle sitting in the shallow water across from Taz' field. It soared into a treetop, landing on a limb with an equally outstanding mate. The two stayed perched on this limb for some time, giving us the needed minutes to dash back to the cottage for the camera. We were able to capture one decent photo which shows their bold features. Then they flew majestically into the evening sky. This sighting was such a gift to us, treasured for sure.


November 21, 2017     

     Warmth in the late fall is always a pleasant gift! We accomplished a lot today, at least in part because of the nice weather.     

     Johnny cleared the mud away from the settling tank. He also redirected the water away from the tank, not the captured water but all the rest. The land is so rich in water here. Water from three different springs feed into the spring box, and another is below the spring box but above the settling tank. Other streams of water are bursting from the earth all around this area-such a rich treasure!     

     A tank of some sort is underground in the front corner of the house. Johnny cut two protruding pipes from this. The rest of it will be left as it is, at least for now. The meter base somehow became lose from the wall, so we were able to add Tyvek and furring strips to the wall, in preparation for the wood boards.     

     For the latest installed window, Johnny built the outside frame, giving it a much needed permanent stability. It has also sealed it tightly, and the lack of creeping cold air coming into the cottage is wonderful.     

     What a sight there was on the lake today! I counted fifty-four ducks, happily swimming on the water. Through the binoculars, I could easily see the mallard males' bright colors and the females' reserved hues. Fifty-four! Wow!      

Note: A group of swimming ducks is called a dabbling of ducks or a paddling of ducks.


November 20, 2017     

     Today has been another superbly productive day, although differently so than the previous days. That's what keeps life interesting, the differences in our days.     The mini excavator was returned this morning, bright and early. The weekend's accomplishments would have never transpired without it, and its contributions add to our continual marvel at modern machinery.     

     Lowes received another visit, and its most faithful customer made another outstanding purchase. The good news in this expensive story is that all the new cabinets are now in our possession. A commendable sale gets at least some credit for today being the day of acquisition. A new door for the blue room and the last needed window rounded out the purchases, along with a new supply of furring strips.     

     Once back at the cottage, we made another trip to the spring, using Taz to add two more layers of gravel. Then a mound of dirt was put atop the gravel blanket, thus protecting the water's clarity even more. Taz so willingly smoothed the roadway to the spring, and the normalcy of this area is slowly returning.     

     Johnny continued his pump repair, endeavoring and succeeding in eliminating the air in the water line. He installed a larger check valve and replaced the push fittings with an improved form of fittings, which are connected with a solvent glue. The initial test indicates a vast improvement, meaning an elimination of air in the water line.

     And now for the true joy and wonder of the day! There has been a tremendous immigration of mallards! I ounted twenty-four, which implies there are twelve pairs. They, like the geese, have made the shallow waters of Grist Mill Lake their chosen home. Their melodious quacking ads to the overall serenity of this unique place, and their presence is certainly a pleasant, desired addition. Their elegance and beauty are equal to but different from that of the regal geese. The two bird species do not seem to be in competition but are coexisting peacefully, intermingling quite well. What a powerful lesson!


November 19, 2017     

     Another day of busling activity resulted in another bit of great progress. Sometimes a tremendous mess has to be created in order to have a beautiful outcome.     

     Johnny used the mini excavator to reshape the banks of the small stream that comes by the backyard. What a difference this made! The banks are now higher, which means a heavy rainstorm won't push the creek up into the backyard. Of course, there is now a jolly mess of mud everywhere, but I assured Johnny this will smooth out with time. The grass will grow back, and all will be beautiful again.     

     The mini excavator also handily carried one of the old cisterns from the spring hollow down to the backyard. The cistern is impressive in size and can surely be repurposed for some useful task.     

     On the ridge behind the shed Johnny used the mini to dig a whole, checking to see if it's worthwhile to bring in an official to check for perk. The place would be a beautiful home sitewith its spectacular view of the lake below and the mountains blue in the distance. All seemed well, since there weren't many rocks in what he dug.     The mini was also most helpful in digging around an old tank buried in the corner beside the front porch. Enough was unearthed to determine the tank should not be in the way of burying the power line in the near future. The grueling task was so much easier with the mini excavator.     

     The progress with work was remarkable today but equally momentous was the wildlife activity. The geese were here all day, and their stately elegance serenaded the lake. Three wood ducks were clearly seen through the binoculars, and this was a most impressive sighting. Their flight was a concrete verification that they are the same ducks that have been here all summer. The precise binocular observation revealed they are specifically hooded mergansers, a duck similar to but not the same as a wood duck. The outstanding black and white coloration of the male is most unique. Also seen today for the first time was a pair of mallards. How exciting it is to have these stunning ducks here too!


November 18, 2017     

     What a busy day this has been! At the end of it, there is a definite bit of accomplishment. Every day we appreciate our gifts received from above for that day. Today's grandest gift was that it did not rain.     

     The mini excavator was the highlight of the day, making all the progress possible. Johnny used it first to dig around the spring to locate the most likely place it bubbles up from the earth. The location was basically where the last cistern had been. Once this was known, he dug out a square of space to the sides and front of the water spout.     

     Then this area was lined with a thin layer of new gravel, brought to the site by Taz. Two sections of corrugated drain tile, covered with geodesic socks, were placed into this square. The two lower ends of the drain tile were connected to a Y piece of heavy plastic, a Y connector with the leg of the Y being a nonperforated drain tile (a heavy plastic black corrugated pipe).     

     The leg of the Y was placed on a downward slope, and the lower end was run into a plastic sump tank. An inch diameter water line was run from the sump tank, and this water line continued 600 feet to be connected with the water line coming from the house.      

     Two more layers of gravel, six to eight inches, were placed on top of the arms of the Y. The water line itself on the other side of the creek was covered with dirt. This will protect the water line from extreme temperatures and will also mean the road is now functional again, as the water line is now in the center of the road leading to the spring from the house.     

     Why was all this done? The simple explanation is this. The water will bubble from the spring into the prepared square. The arms of the Y will absorb the water through the perforations on one side, which is now lying flat on the layer of gravels. The geodesic socks on the drain tile (the black plastic pipes) will act as the first filters, blocking incoming debris. The water will then flow into the leg of the Y and from there will flow into the sump tank, where any remaining sediment will sink to the bottom of the tank. The twice-filtered water will then travel through the water line to the house, where the spring water will pass through another filter before being dispersed throughout the house. It's a wonderful design that is already working exceptionally well.     

     The spring is extremely strong. The overall output of this amazing gift from the earth seems to be between twenty and thirty gallons per minute. Each component became effective immediately upon being put into place. The siftness with which the water began flowing in the right direction was actually a surprise, pleasantly so but still a surprise.     

     All of this continued long past dark, but having running water back in the house at the end of the day was another gift. It was a long and tiring but very good day.

     The geese never left the lake today. In spite of all the machinery noise, they floated placidly on their claimed lake. Their presence helps maintain the peace of this place.

November 17, 2017     

     Another day of small tasks has been completed. Yet, all of this is necessary for the days ahead.     

     The mini excavator was picked up without incident and is now waiting for a full weekend of work ahead. The wonders of modern machinery are amazing. The next couple of days will be an example, for sure.     

     Lowes received a lengthy visit today, and many supplies were purchased. This is a convenient place to shop for construction materials, but the layout of the store could be done more effectively. Much time is spent walking from one end of the store to the other. There must be a reason for the way it is, and I am sure this will be revealed by future visits.     

     The wildlife at Grist Mill Lake continues to abound. The creatures add so much to the peacefulness of the place, in part because this is where they choose to be. What a thought! This is where they choose to be.


November 16, 2017     

     Today was mostly a time of organization and planning. There's not a lot of visible progress on days like today, but still forward steps have been taken.     

     Johnny moved some things around in the shed.This seems to be a constant task. One reason is because supplies and items for storage are constantly flowing into and out of this essential building. Yesterday's trip to the dumpster eliminated a pile of rubbish, which in turn opened up more room for supplies.     

     We also moved the supplies needed to the spring. This is in anticipation of the work this weekend. Tomorrow the mini excavator will be rented until Monday, hopefully providing enough time to fix the spring box and lay new water line.   

     Today was warm enough for the turtles to enjoy their time on the Turtle Log. This log has relocated itself several times, as the water depths have risen. It needs to be secured in a permanent place, especially since a multitude of the shelled reptiles so relish their time in the sun on this log.


November 15, 2017     

     Small jobs are still important and require time. Today was a day for such as this.     

     The man from the local power company came early this morning. Thankfully, he confirmed that the overhead power line can be buried and at no cost. There will be a wait of a couple of weeks, but soon the front gable will be cleared of the gawky power line that is now attached.     

     We took a drive into the nearby community of Gretna, primarily to pick up the meter base from the power company but also to see the area. It was most interesting to take a scenic drive and especially to see the homes of some of the vehicles that perpetually drive by.      

     Johnny started work on the demolition of the old, unused chimney in the pump room. At some point, this must have been such an important part of the cottage, but now it serves no purpose. It did come down fairly easily, at least the half that he tore down today. The broken pieces have been repurposed, now improving a watery section of the road leading to the spring.     

     One group of geese seems content to stay here during the day. The increase in the lake's boundaries seems to suit them quite well, and they float peacefully from place to place, sometimes in the deep parts and sometimes in the shallow.     

     The beaver is still at work. Evidence of his gnawing pleasures is all along our walking trail. It is extra nice that he is removing saplings that need to go anyway.     The ducks and the heron are here too. Many small birds dart in and out of the trees, and one of the groundhogs made a brave appearance today. I was able to move close to him before he scuttled under the rock ledge on the bank above the crab apple tree. Based on his plumpness, it may be a long winter.


November 14, 2017     

     Much is accomplished when the heart is in it, and today was a representation of that thought. Steadily, the work continues, and each day's end bears witness to the progress.     

     Johnny added a check valve to the new water pump. Replacing the old pump with a new one has made such a drastic improvement. Running water is such a luxury that is often not appreciated until it is gone.     

     A phone call to Jack's Mountain Quarry led to a gravel delivery today. Purchased at a reasonable price, the eight tons of small rocks will soon be used to redo the spring and the water line. It is nice to have discovered the nearby quarry, especially since it seems to be a business that is easy to work with to get a satisfactory product.     

     A major accomplishment today has been the addition of a third window in the living room. Johnny took out the air conditioner and then enlarged the hole in the wall. To cut through the concrete blocks he used a diamond blade in the electric skill saw. The process went fairly smoothly, except there was a lot of concrete dust. We created a plastic tent on the inside, and this simple structure, made of four furring strips and a roll of plastic, greatly reduced the amount of dust that seeped into the whole room. Instead most of it remained inside the tent.     

     Now there is a new window in the living room, and the amount of sunlight in the room will be so much greater. This new addition required a lot of strenuous work, but the end result is definitely a much-needed inclusion.     

     Vacuuming took on an intense importance today. The power of a Shop-Vac was impressive, a sight to appeciate as the fine layer of concrete dust disappeared into the mighty little machine.     

     This morning the geese remained on the lake longer than normal, serenely floating near Taz' field. One group returned in late afternoon with a dramatic splash-down. As they came down, the beaver could be seen swiming directly into their path. Thankfully, all the critters made space for each other, and the peace of Grist Mill Lake endured.


November 13, 2017     

     Mondays are always the getting started days with organizing and resupplying. Much is accomplished, although to the casual observer this is not obvious.     

     Johnny has to be the most dedicated customer at Lowes. Today's resupplying visit was a success. Now two new treated fascia boards are waiting to be added to the latest outside section that received siding. Furring strips await being attached to walls, and a new batch of paint brushes are anticipating their task of applying polyurethane to the new walls. Other miscellaneous purchases were made, reinforcing Johnny's status as Lowes' most faithful buyer. New, new, new! The results are impressive!     

      The new pump has now been installed, and the improvement in the water pressure is outstanding. Water, especially in the house, is such a luxury, and sadly, we take it for granted until it is gone. There is a life lesson in that. Nothing and especially no one should be taken for granted because often life brings changes in the twinkling of an eye.     

     This evening the beaver made an appearance, swimming downstream with an amazing speed. He was most definitely on a mission, as his watery path never wavered. He darted into one of the channels that has cut through former grassland and quickly disappeared into the remaining dying vegetation.     A small group of geese flew overhead but did not stop. They are such elegant creatures, and I always watch in awe. Their presence adds such a feel of royalty to the lake.


November 10, 2017     

     Such a cold night last night created the spectacular frost seen this morning. The first frost here of the season, this so beautifully gave the reminder that cold weather is on the near horizon.     

     The living room door is now bordered all around by fresh wood. This is such a stately, yet rustic, refashioning of the room. Cozy safety is our goal with this cottage, and the crisp cleanness of the wood lends to this uplifting atmosphere of the interior.     

     The beginning steps to installing a much-needed new water pump began today. One major reason for doing this today was to determine if any parts need to be purchased. Sure enough, a larger reducer is necessary. Next week will include the completion of the new pump installation.     

     In expectation of frigid weather on the near horizon, a pile of logs has been placed near the Rock Garden. This will host the warming event of a bonfire, complete with sizzling steaks and toasted marshmallows. This is absolutely one of the pleasures of life, simple yet extravagant.


November 9, 2017   

     Rainy days make the sunny days even brighter. Today it has been the rain, so the reappearance of the solar rays will be even more beautiful.     

     Today's major victory has been the completion of one of the long walls in the great room. Again, this is quickly written but painstakingly conquered. The boards are now in place, secured with screws. Once the coat of polyurethane is applied the wall will have its shiny, warm honey color. Everything went well. It just took time to finish.     

     Tomorrow's work is now off to a start. The boards above the front door were put up today. Now the rest of the wall excitedly anticipates its makeover.     

     When a cold rain is falling it seems that the majority of the wildlife chooses to stay in the warm, dry shelters. Little animal traffic was seen today.


November 8, 2017   

     Work continues, and visible progress is being made.Slow and steady are proving to be the key factors in the beautiful transformation.     

     Sometimes the dreariness in life is needed to provide a much needed revelation, especially in relation to the weather. The recently installed gutters and drip rails are working splendidly, as today's rain demonstrated. The fascia remained dry, so it seems that all is well with the rain-shedding additions. It is always a joy to have the reassurance that something is working properly.     

     Quickly written but painstakingly accomplished, the last wall in the kitchen was completed today. All three walls in the kitchen area are now encased in the warm honey-colored wood boards. The last step of applying the polyurethane will come to pass in the near future.     

     The old trim in the living room was taken down, marking the continuation of this area's revitalization. Soon the entire grand room will be visually warm and inviting.     No birds were observed today. It seems all the feathered lake residents decided to stay in their nests today, showing no desire to be out in this dreary weather. At least that's how it was in the early part of the day.     

     By evening, though, there was evidence of the wildlife venturing out. One group of geese came in, making its customary splash-down with grace. Four ducks flew across the lake with their own distinct pattern, and the beaver swam strongly, pulling a limb.     

     The lake and surrounding land are the home to so many, each fulfilling its own unique niche in the habitat as a whole. It is such a special treat to be a part, even as an interloping human making casual observations from the sidelines. To feel this primal connection is a gift and a joy, not to be taken lightly.


November 7, 2017

     What a day of industrious productivity! Some days turn out to be ones of tremendous progress, and today was such a day.     

     Johnny moved the bridge from the front yard to its new resting place in the upper bottom. Pulling it with the truck proved to be relatively simple. Now it will wait in the upper bottom until its final destination is decided upon. The yard seems twice as large now that this massive structure has been relocated.     

     The ridge to the left of the cottage also received attention today. Johnny mowed the area, making it so inviting. This part of the property with its superior elevation provides a spectacular view. It will be a wonderful place to possibly build a home someday, complete with an unhindered panorama of the lake. The blue heron flew overhead while Johnny was mowing, swooping down over the creek and then landing on the far side near Tipsy Turn.     

     A great deal was accomplished inside today too. Johnny drained the water line and then disconnected the kitchen sink. The bottom cabinets were taken out. He ran a new electric circuit, which will be very beneficial in the future. The new boards on that kitchen wall were started.     

     There were only two geese here this morning. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when they will or won't show up. When the geese crowd is here, they are certainly a glorious sight. The solitary two, though, have their own regal presence about them, and maybe a stronger statement is made by their desire to not be a part of the majority.


November 1, 2017

     Perspective is everything, including how a dwelling is viewed. The advances of today most certainly boosted the positivity of this welcoming cottage.

     The fascia on the living room short side wall was put up. This first involved taking down the guttering already there. After the fascia was screwed, not nailed, into place, new guttering was secured in preparation of liquid weather.

     The small side wall that is visible from the front received boards today. The wood went up fairly easily, and the transformation is striking.

     Prominent change in the kitchen was also accomplished. The upper cabinets were taken down, paving the way for that wall's new board facelift. These cabinets are solidly built and will soon experience a new life in the shed.

     Unusually warm air prevailed today, so being outside was a joy. The tranquil spirit that encompasses this place soothes the soul and enriches the flow of creativity and peace. A bright portion of the earth, this bit of land and water possesses the power of restoration-in mind, body, spirit, and soul.


October 31, 2017

     The beauty of nature is all around use here, making each workday both progressive and uplifting. Today was one of accomplishment.

     Johnny devoted most of the day to front porch improvements. Both corner posts are now in place. A sturdy beam rests between the two end pillars, secure in notches cut in the posts for this purpose. The porch now appears twice as large as before, and the view is so much better. It is amazing how simple changes create vast improvements. That is certainly true for the front porch.

     Preparations were also begun to remove the kitchen cabinets. They will be taken down, so the wall can receive new boards. New cabinets will be installed in the future, adding to the comfort and upgrading of the kitchen.

     The geese had left early this morning, but we did see five ducks floating peacefully on the lake. The ducks reside in the cove beside Taz' field, but they are often seen around the deeper parts of the lake too. Their role in the habitat seems to have been either unaffected or improved by the expansion of the lake.

     The geese returned early this evening, arriving in three groups, one right after the other. The grop smallest in number always comes in with such quietness, needing no pomp and circumstance as an announcement. This makes them the most majestic of all.


October 30, 2017

     Cool air dominated today, but the work continued on. The brightness of the sun and the crispness of the air so blue drove away the chill of the air. 

     Johnny started replacing the posts on the front porch by installing a temporary brace on the left corner. He then removed the old post. The new posts will be six-by-six treated southern pine pillars, and the first one installed, on the left, looks wonderful. A little planing took away the rough edges,and now this beautiful wood column gives a hint of how stately it will be when completed.

     One set of geese spent the entire day here, tranquilly floating on Taz' field. The other two groups came in earlier than normal, one right after the other. An hour before dark the first bunch arrived with much noise and show, and then shortly afterwards the last gang flew in with stealth and silence. Obviously, even in the world of geese there is individuality and uniqueness.

     After dark there was quite a commotion in Taz' field. The geese were relatively calm, but some other birds were really making noise. Then we heard a loud splash and saw an animal of some type swimming upstream. By the swift speed and impressive wake in the water, it is most likely that the mysterious creature was a beaver of significant size. A true king of the water, for sure!


October 27, 2017

     The weather so often dictates the day's activities, and that was true for today.  In anticipation of the incoming rainy weekend, measures were taken to prevent catastrophes.

     We poled up the creek, removing several overhanging trees as we went along.  The dock was needed to serve as the base from which to secure a chain around each tree.  Then Taz did the actual removal, pulling clear the trees with their roots.  Taz was also used to pull several water-logged timbers from the creek.  Now these pieces of wood with their immense weights will not pose a threat to the dam.

     Johnny also used Taz to move several huge rocks to the Rock Garden.  These impressive chunks of stone can be used as seats or tables, natural features that will make the picnic area even more enchanting.  The view of the lake from here is spectacular, and the added rocks augment the uniqueness of this area.

     The great blue heron is still around, although now we are mostly seeing it in flight.  It too, like the geese, now prefers the shallow water in and around Taz' field.  The changes in the lake have created some adjustments in the animals' behaviors, but overall, everyone seems to still be present.  There is a solid hope that they are experiencing more improvements than set-backs.


October 26, 2017

     Today became Gable Day!  Perseverance paid off, though, and this highly visible part of the cottage is now so much closer to being complete.

     The wood siding itself went up fairly easily.  Each one was put into place with the intention oif an easy dismantle.  Electrical revisions will be done in the future, and entry through the gable will be the simplest way to accomplish the rewiring.

     Determining where to place the louvre and then cutting away the siding to accomodate this feature were a bit more difficult.  The necessary preciseness required time, and this was a part of why the gable took the majority of the day.  Finally, everything was in place, including the stately white louvre, which adds such a nice touch to the front of the house.

     The live power line had to be removed from the wall while the wood siding was installed.  Then it had to be reattached.  We won't think of the danger involved.  Instead, we will just report that all was successfully accomplished.

     The application of stain to the new wood created the warm honey color to the gable, blending it with the rest of the cottage.  Completing the staining was a race against time, but it was finished as the last rays of light closed the day.

     Each evening the geese come in, arriving in three groups but usually simultaneously.  They prefer the less deep water in Taz' field, and here they spend the night in relative safety.  This is a joy of life, peaceful sleep.


October 25, 2017

     The new day was heralded in with bright sunshine and a refreshing crispness in the air.  The sharp cry of the eagle filled the early skies, and the majestic flight over the lake gave a reminder of nature's power that surpasses human control.

     There was an abundance of geese, at least fifty.  They stayed quite a while into the morning hours, floating tranquilly in the creek at Rock Garden and even in Taz' field.  These feathered foul represent peace so easily, as they float on the smallest scrap of water while being so regal.

     The front gable got the attention today.  It is interesting as to how such a small area requires so much time.  All the old had to be removed, including a multitude of pesky nails.  The flashing that replaced the old is a striking copper color, and this small detail will set it all in a new light of classy and clean.  Furring strips and Tyvek are securely in their places, and one piece of wood siding has been added.  More progress should be made on the morrow.

     We poled for a while, mostly to admire with wonder and amazement the tremendous increase of the lake's boundaries.  We were able to ride over some grasses, especially on the island.  This will help open the view by eliminating the vegetation.

     Ducks are in an abundance now.  They seem to be thriving in the revised, better habitat.  These wood ducks are outstanding in their flight especially, and their sudden appearances add joy to the lake.  One can't help but smile when observing these unique creatures with their quietly spectacular characteristics.  Such splendor!


October 24, 2017

     Grist Mill Lake continues to increase in both size and beauty.  Today revealed water in formerly dry places.  Whether this is from yesterday's rain storm, from last week's timber additions to the dam, or from both has not yet been determined.  The expansion of depth and breadth, though, are undeniable.

     Johnny took Taz to the upper bottom, but along the way, Taz paused to munch up the cut poplars deposited at Rock Garden (the picnic area).  Johnny moved some other logs to a pile in the upper bottom and cleared some overgrowth there.  Preparation is being made to clear a place to move the bridge to.  It is time to give the bridge a new resting location until its final destination over the creek is decided upon.

     Progress here is steady.  Each day brings new developments and new plans.


October 19, 2017

     The morning light revealed yet more of an increase in the water's presence, everywhere.  Only eight geese had stayed the night, and they departed in one swift flight.  It was evident, though, by their harmoniuos departure that the night on the deepening water had been a pleasant one.

     Johnny finished putting up the wood siding for the front, and then stain was applied.  He started the needed work on the gable above the porch, so this part should be somewhat simple to complete next week.  The description here doesn't take much space, but the time span was actually most of the day.

     Observing the dam from a distance gave evidence of the rising water.  The lowest board, on the far left section, did not have much wood still showing.  In other words, it will not take much more of an increase before the water is rushing over that portion of the dam.

     One interesting development has been the relocation of the turtles.  They have found a new place to bask in the sun.  A long log has floated into the area in front of the mimosas, and at least twenty turtles have been enjoying soaking up the solar rays.  Their silhouettes on the log give it the shocking appearance of being a long, thin crocodile.  Thankfully, that is just a visual illusion.

     The smaller heron was also there, stalking the shallow water in front of and beside the mimosas.  In the dwindling light of the early evening, it could be seen huddled like a ball, either resting or waiting for a tasty meal.


October 18, 2017

     The forces of nature never cease to amaze me, and water must be one of the most powerful forces.  This project has certainly been an educational experience, to be able to witness the expected and unexpected maneuvers it has made.

     This morning we poled to the dam and added another row of timbers all the way across.  Where the water was flowing over the tops of the boards, the additions not only stopped the overflow but caused an immediate rising of about two inches.  It was an astonishing sight, for sure.

     We poled over the grass in front of the mimosas, and this went well with the dock floating easily.  We did notice some small willows had been delimbed with gnaw marks evident.  Further investigation revealed that the beavers had merely eaten the bark, stripping the tiny limbs down to shiny wood, which they left behind.  It was a most interesting find.

     Johnny finished putting up the wood siding on the left side of the front door.  Hopefully tomorrow will allow for applying the stain.

     Mowing today was mostly just trim work around the house.  After the past two weeks of weedeating with all its required vigor, T-roy barely woke up for today's event.

     The geese were here for longer than normal, seemingly content to linger.  When they finally departed in their three groups, they created a spectacular sight.  Each departure was preceded by a lot of honking, as they lined up in some predetermined pattern and then lifted into the mid-morning sky.  Within ten minutes the fifty-plus flying beauties were gone.


October 17, 2017

     Another day of warm sunshine led to productivity outside, and much was accomplished.  The crisp air was refreshing after all the sweltering summer days spent outside.

     The front of the cottage now sports a new window to the left of the door, matching the one on the right.  Furring strips and Tyvek were put upof to the left of the door, and Johnny started adding the wooden siding.  More of this, hopefully all, will be done tomorrow.  The appearance of the house front is drastically improving.

     The yard received a mowing today, which always helps the place look better.  A lot of the roughness has gone away, and the mowing becomes easier each time.

     We poled over quite a bit of the grass on the island.  This helps flatten the grasses.  Since the water is becoming increasingly deeper, the task is not as difficult as it once was.  There is still, though, so much more to do, as the arms can only endure so much.  Poling is most assuredly physically demanding, but it is so much easier than weedeating.

     The geese were here quite late this morning, not doing their lift-off until some warmth had crept into the morning coolness.  One group was in the area right above the picnic place.  They seemed to be enjoying the new area of the lake and were floating serenely where the creek and the lake are merging beside Taz' field.

     We also saw the eagle this morning, swooping with quick turns over the surface of the lake.  Apparently, it was searching for fish, but no dives were obsered.  Then this afternoon late it was back.  It is a relief to know the change in the lake has not caused it to relocate, for the majestic flyer is one of the property's highlights.


October 16, 2017

     Water has a way of going where it chooses, seeping and surging, flowing and flooding.  The boundaries of the lake continue to expand, and daily we are impressed by its growing magnitude.

     Near the picnic area the water depth has increased, and the field where the tractor mowed not long ago could be traveled over with the dock or the kayaks.  Here the lake has joined with the creek, and soon these waters will be one with the water pooling in Taz' field.  It is also visually evident that the far cove has also extended beyond where it was before.  Exploration with the dock will clarify how much.

     Johnny cut eight poplars from the new water's edge near the picnic area, since they will die anyway from the saturation.  They are now waiting in a pile on the trail, waiting to be munched up by Taz so they can replenish the soil with their nutrients.

     Johnny had to refortify the door frame in the little raccoon's room.  She figured out how to climb the other side, straight up smooth paneling.  Roxanne is extremely smart and so human-like in her mannerisms.  She helped Johnny add the flashing and the extra screws, riding on the top of his cap most of the time.  Now we will have to be careful and not leave the drill in the room with her, or she will quickly undo all the work.  She is a joy.

     The geese came in tonight, right at dark.  There are three groups now, not just two.  It seems that the geese are pleased with the lake improvements.


October 12, 2017

     A dreary gray sky provided the perfect motivation to continue working on the cottage.  Outside and inside rennovations brought the little house closer to being the envisioned cozy cottage.

     Polyurethane was applied to new walls that had been put up earlier in the short hallway.  The ceiling and walls now shine with the beautiful coating of preservative.

     Johnny put up the wooden siding on part of the cottage's front, and this is giving a completely new look to the house.  The siding, now stained with a honey-colored glow, also showcases two new windows.  Completely finishing the front is now an uppermost desire.

     Johnny also used Taz to clear part of the area to the left of the house.  High on the bank, this part of the property was overgrown with saplings and other types of unwanted growth.  For Taz to clean it all out was a huge step toward creating a more appealing piece of land.

     We are seeing more ducks around the lake, hopefully indicating that they are pleased with the increasing water levels.  The heron is now stalking its prey in newly saturated grounds where Taz cleared last week.

     The scope and depth of the lake continue to rise.  The creek and lake are now flowing together, mostly in places that used to be dry.  Next will be putting another row of timbers across the dam, so the miraculous transformation should continue.


October 11, 2017

     The humidity was here once again this morning, ready to make another tough day for working outside.  Then, like a gift, the sky became cloudy, and a brief, refreshing shower fell.  This helped cool the air to a bearable temperature.  Most of the time, it is the simplest moments that bring the most real joy.

     There is now one new window in the living room, thanks to Johnny's dedication to the task.  Removing the old window, complete with its metal frame, was a bit of a challenge, but it eventually let go.  Windows from seventy plus years ago were actually much more sturdily constructed than the windows of today.

     The front of the house received its first pieces of wood siding today!  There's nothing like the getting started moment, and it was a great time, the beginning of the front remodeling.

     Weedeating today was just around the house, which seemed like absolutely nothing after last week's battle against the waist-high wire grass.  It looked like the entire yard had been mowed after the bit of today's weedeating.

     We also poled around the lake, going through large sections of grasses as we went.  The dock went wherever we directed it, and land that hadn't been underwater for years now had a floating boat traveling over it.  We made a wide path over the middle of the island.  There is so much more of the island that needs to be gone over, and this shouldn't be too difficult, as the water is now everywhere.

      I will say poling a dock through grassy water must be the most comprehensive exercise program of all.  One can actually use all the muscles with whatever exertion one wants to give.  It's also a terrific cure for sleeplessness, as acute tiredness is sure to follow.


October 10, 2017

     This day has been one of such intense humidity.  The heat held so much moisture in it, turning the air into a tangible creature.

     We pled over quite a bit of grass this morning.  It is continually amazing as to how much the lake has changed.  The dock easily floated over grasses that were growing back from when I weedeated two weeks ago.  Places where the tractor was a short time ago can now be traveled over with the dock, and we had no trouble today poling right to the four mimosas.  By knocking the grasses over with the dock, we are able to hasten their demise.  

     Johnny spent a good portion of the rest of the day putting in a new door in the mud room.  There was a space under the old door, not very comforting when one remembers that snakes don't require a large port of entry.  He had to widen the existing opening, since the new door is larger.  The mud room is now much safer with this attractive, much more secure white door.

     I cleaned quite a bit in the cottage, glad to have time to get this done.  Small chores still need to be taken care of before they become monumental tasks.

     Roxanne is such a strong, intelligent raccoon, and today she demanded so much attention.  She so wants to be with her humans all the time, and today she discovered how to climb the door frame, straight up, so she could then cral through an opening at the unfinished top.  After a couple of unsuccessful preventative measures, the idea of adding a band of flashing to the edge of the door frame was quite perfect.

     She continues to be a fascination.  Her human characteristics are astounding, including the temper tantrum she threw this afternoon.  She is so loving too, and when I give her kisses on the head, she gives them back to me.  Roxanne is the highlight of the days, and she is so easy to love.


October 9, 2017

     Wow!  There just isn't any other word of exclamation for the lake's transformation from last Thursday until today.

     All the land that was weedeated last week is now underwater, inches under in most places.  The creek, the lake, and the prior shoreline have now merged into one body of water in several spots, and as the lake continues to flow inland, this merging will be even more common.

     The huge area of land that Johnny went over with Taz also seems to be saturated with large patches of standing water visible from a distance.  Tomorrow we will explore to see how far into the land the water has infiltrated and how deep the patches of water are.

     Why has this happened?  Is it because the mowing released the water from underneath the soil?  Is it because of the heavy rains that fell during the night?  Is it because of the wise, effective construction of the dam, which now has water pouring over the lowest row of timbers?  It's probably a combination of all three, but whatever the case, the range of the shoreline and the depth of the creekand lake have increased tremendously.  More will surely come. 

     Time was also spent today clearing out and cleaning up the blue room.  It had become the storage area for a compilation of supplies and trash.  Now the long-dreaded chore has been completed, and the room is presentable.

     The baby raccoon that Johnny found last week is now doing very well, full of life and curiosity. Roxanne is such a dear creature, and she has become quite attached to her human friends.  She is so adept at climbing, and she mastered drinking from the baby bottle quickly.  Today we started her on baby food, which she does not prefer over the milk.  Affectionate and so human-like, it has been impossible to not become attached to this little darling.  It's also been difficult to not appreciate life a bit more, just by being a part of Roxanne's wonder and joy over simple discoveries.  What pleasure she adds to each day!


October 5, 2017

     It is truly astonishing how much difference mowing can make to the appearance of the land.  There is truth in the idea that a bit of grooming never hurt anyone.

     Johnny spent the majority of today working with Taz.  He cleared so much of the property on the other side of the creek, and the revelation of land was surprising.  What had been a tangled mass of saplings and wire grass turned into open flat land with endless possibilities.  He left certain trees here and there, so now this expanse of land looks like a park too.

     The weedeating adventure continued today also.  Water had already infiltrated what was done yesterday, so the new trim work will probably be soggy by tomorrow.  Trim work is an understatement, since the waist-high wire grass, in its many layers, actually required much swinging and hacking with the tough Troy-bilt mower.  Part of the weedeating was accomplished more easily by standing in the lake itself.  The good news is that now this part is done, keeping it under control should be manageable.

     Of course, there is still so much to do, both with Taz and T-roy.  That's what the future is for.

     We also poled to the dam.  The water was so close to the top of the timbers, and the two troughs constructed earlier to hold cement were underwater.  An informal measurement of the water depth at the dam revealed over six feet, definitely more than before.

     The EZ dock has now acquired another oh-so-important role.  Not only is it invaluable as a work base and a boat, but it also makes the perfect bridge.  Yesterday and today we tied it from each side of the creek at the picnic area, and it made the ideal walkway from one shore to the other.  It also provided the perfect place for one of the pleasures of life, dangling one's bare feet in cool creek water on a hot day.  Everyone should be able to do this at least once.  Such a simple, yet extravagant, delight!


October 4, 2017

     When the majority of the day is spent mowing, there isn't much to write.  It was a successful day with much accomplished, and the weather was perfect for being outside.

     Johnny was able to use Taz on the other side of the creek, and this seemed like a gift after yesterday's struggles.  The transformaion in the land was miraculous, the result of Taz so thoroughly turning trees and undergrowth into mulch.  The amount of land that is now cleared and useable is suprising and a welcome sight.

     The weedeating in the lower soggy bottom also went well.  The grasses, for the most part, are so dense and overlapping that mowing is intense and time-consuming.  Some parts were easier than others, but weedeating like this is not for the weak of heart.

     It has been fascinating today to notice how the texture of the earth has changed from the time of premowing to the time of postmowing.  Land that was solid during weedeating became soggy and saturated shortly thereafter.  The entire lower soggy bottom that has been weedeated is now truly soggy.

     The same is true for the areas that Taz mulched.  A couple of hours after the work, water was starting to sturate the soil, seeming to be soaking up from underneath.  Watching this happen has been the most interesting part of the day, primarily because it has been such a surprise.


October 3, 2017

     Unsticking a stuck-in-a-strange-place Taz is always an interesting, creative process.  Today's plan was to make a Taz-size opening in one side of the trail, creating a road down to the creek's sandbar, cross the shallow spot in the creek, and then clear a similar road on the other side.  Plans are made to be changed.

     All went well on both sides, until it was time to bring Taz back up the trail-side bank.  Then the right track, against the bank, started sinking.  Taz sunk so deeply into the thick, thick mud with the entire track under mud.

     Then came the hours of trying to raise 14,000 pounds of mechanized Taz back to solid ground.  The success came after we put several large rocks and many old bricks under the track.  This gave enough traction to bring Taz up to a solid oak board, placed carefully to provide a solid foundation for Taz to crawl out of the mud.  A chain on the tractor also helped, and with the tractor's steady tugging, Taz slowly emerged from the life-draining clutches of the binding mud.  This all sounds so simple here, but nothing would have been resolved with Johnny's smart ideas and skillful determination to liberate Taz.

     After all this, the day's original plans were underway.  Johnny was finally on the other side, and he was able to clear heavy undergrowth, moving down to the point above the place where the picnic area will be.

     The weedeating continues.  The primary focus is where I had weedeated some earlier in the summer, along the creek near the picnic area.  There is so much water here now.  The trick is to keep moving, to not stand in one place too long to avoid sinking.

     I saw the ducks both yesterday and today.  Yesterday there were eight or nine along the upper creek, and today there were two I saw up close.  I am fairly certain they are wood ducks. 


October 2, 2017

     And the water continues to rise!  The depth is greater than just the other day in both the lake and the creek, and the expansion of the water line is continuing.

     The creek itself is significantly deeper, deeper than the lake in some places.  The stream is also so clear with easy visibility to the bottom.  Watching the daily changes to the creek features has been as fascinating as observing the lake.

     We did weedeating today, clearing some of the thick growth across the creek.  This is slow, tedious work, mostly because the grass and other plants are so dense.  It takes two or three passes over the same area to make headway.

     We also walked past the upper bottom, looking for a place to cross the creek with Taz.  There seems to be a place, and this will be tomorrow's task-to get Taz over and then clear a section of thick grasses.

     The geese came in before dark in three groups.  Then, surprisingly, they took off, frightened by something.  Later, as the sky gave way to nightfall, one group returned and continued the serene cruise around the lake.  Such beauty!


September 28, 2017

     There was a tumult in the air today, as the struggle between the already-present summer hot air battled with the incoming much cooler fall breezes.  In spite of the strangeness in the weather, much work was accomplished.

     Early in the morning Johnny mowed the upper bottom, quite successfully.  Later in the day I was able to weedeat the sides of the small stream in this bottom, the stream that comes from the spring on the other side of the highway.  Johnny was also able to mow a lot of the soggy bottom, thankfully conquering so much overgrowth there.  All of this was a valiant effort to get mowing done while it all is so dry.

     Before lunch we poled the dock to the dam to see how the barriers were holding back the water.  All was as we expected, and we added another row of timbers between the interior piers.  The water in the lake is getting deeper.  But, more amazingly, the water is spreading inland.  Once dry spots are now underwater.

     Johnny also trimmed the small trees along another section of the trail.  Eliminating these saplings really opens up the view from upper path across the lake to the dam.

     Taz also got to play a bit today, and he demonstrated his abilities as the outstanding machine that he is.  Johnny used him to easily move several brush piles to higher ground, where they await being munched into mulch later by Taz.

     Finally, we took the kayaks out to inspect the water routes in a close up and personal way.  The water is deeper everywhere-in the lake, over the island of grasses, and in the creek!  There is so much more water now, deeper where it was before and more invasive in new places.  It was pleasantly surprising to see how far up the creek the depth changes were.  Obviously, the dam is working, especially in light of how dry the land is.  The kayaks skimmed right along.

     We have known that sooner or later one of us would end up in the cool waters, and today was the day.  One bend in the creek is now named Tipsy Turn.  The kayaks are so easy to maneuver, and they will go almost anywhere smoothly.  Balance, however, as proven today, is extremely crucial to staying dry.


September 27, 2017

     It has been such a beautiful day today with blue skies, a warm sun, and a cooling breeze.  It was a gift of a day, one we endeavored  to use completely.

     Johnny was able to mow some on the section of land right at the head of the lake.  This helped so much, opening the view to the dam, while saving so much time by eliminating some weedeating.

     There was still plenty of weedeating to do, though, the kind that requires a lot of arm motion and determination.  The grasses, different types, were so dense in places that it was a slow process.  The weedeater persevered, and some headway was accomplished.

     With the mowing, the weedeating,and the blade cutting by Johnny to clear the last stand of willows, there is now a clear view of the dam from the upper trail.  The dock itself is visible all the way from the upper bottom.  The area is looking more and more like a park with every passing day.

     We poled to the dam and actually witnessed the water going over the lowest boards.  So exciting!  Three sections of the near-shore side received new timbers today.  Johnny also added a cut-to-fit piece of plywood to the far-shore section.  It can't hurt anything, and the thin sheet of wood may actually stop some of the water that is still gushing through.

     Laying the grasses in the lake over by poling the dock over them is working well.  We poled around the lake, checking the depth of the water and knocking over as much grass as possible.  There are no words for the amount of muscle expenditure this requires.

     The lake waters are rising and creeping inland.  We can see the differences hour by hour.  It is all so fascinating to be a part of and to observe first hand.


September 26, 2017

     Too tired to write but the story needs to continue.  To say today was busy would be an understatement, but it was a beautiful day for outdoor progress.

     The geese left the lake this morning about 8:00.  They came floating down down the channel on the backside of the island, single file with everyone focused.  In a prearranged format they lifted from the lake's surface in a continuous line, honking in beat with their wings' flutter.  Then they were gone.

     We poled to the dam, after noting more water in new places on the shore.  Carefully, we assessed the water still flowing under and around the beams and the timbers.  We added four hundred pounds of cement in the most obvious spots, or I should say, eight fifty-pound bags.  This seems to have made a difference, as all through the day today, the depth and width of the lake have continued to increase.

     After th endeavors with the cement, we poled the dock over more of the grasses in the lake.  It was amazing as to deep and how far inland the lake now is.  Poling over the grasses seems to be making a difference.  Once poled over by the dock, they immediately begin to turn brown and are soon permanently underwater.  Visually, this grass elimination is changing the lake's surface, making it appear even larger.

     Johnny had already mowed the upper bottoms this morning, and he continued mowing this afternoon, getting one last chance to mow with the tractor in the area around the mimosa trees.

     Later when I used the weedeater around the edges, I stepped in a tractor track and immediately my foot sunk into a watery spot.  He also used the weedeater with the blade to cut some small trees along the bank, and again we noticed water in new places.

     The yard around the cottage was also mowed today.  It looks so much better after being mowed.  It also is so much more like a yard than it used to be.  Continual mowing is helping this. The land is still somewhat uneven, but slowly it is improving.  It is a steady, unhurried healing after such a long time of neglect.


September 25, 2017

     The lake is moving inland!  Today when we poled to the dam, we discovered the water is not yet washing over the lowest boards, but the shoreline is most definitely pushing inland.

     Six hundred more pounds of cement are now nestled atop the dam, placed to fill the crevices where water is persistently seeking its rush over the falls.  More clearly I should say, we put twelve more fifty-pound bags of cement into the places along the dam where water is still finding its way through the steel beams and timbers.

     We also poled around the lake, checking the depth of the water in places.  Amazingly, the lake is both deeper and wider. The grasses that we poled the dock over Saturday are obviously dying.  We poled over even more today.  This has proven to be easier and more entertaining than weedeating, for sure.

     Seriously, as a precautionary measure, we moved the leftover twenty-feet beam, a shorter steel beam, and the angle iron back to the cottage yard.  The tractor trail to the dock may soon be closed, due to the encroaching water.  This evening in one spot there were only twelve inches of dry land between the water's edge and the tractor's rut, hence the reason for moving the steel beams.  Everything else can be carried out by hand, if necessary, from the docking area, but the tremendous weight of the steel and iron require tractor power.

     A new site for the dock is also being considered.  One on the other lakeshore trail is looking better all the time.

     On a humerous note: It seems the curious heron walked in the loose, dry cement left around the dam piers the other day.  Such an inquisitive feathered friend!


September 23, 2017

     For a Saturday, much has been accomplished.  Upon arriving at the lake's edge, we could immediately tell the water had risen.  It was higher but had also spread out more, coming farther inland, seeping through the grasses.

     After poling out to the dam, we saw that the water had almost, but not quite, reached the point of washing over the lowest boards.  On the far-shore section there was so much water rushing under the beam underwater, so we added more cement, ten fifty-pound bags, to better fortify this section of the dam.  The lake water immediately began to rise!

     We also added another timber to each of the three sections that only had one board.  This is a reflection of our faith that the water will continue to deepen in the lake.

     Another new trick was tried today and was quite successful.  The water had infiltrated the grasses so thoroughly that we were able to pole the dock over large areas of lake grass, knocking the lush, green plants over, completely submerging some.  I am curious as to how this will affect the plants, and I foresse our arm-tiring endeavors as a fairly quick and somewhat easy of eliminating unwanted grass.  It was certainly simpler and much more fun than weedeating.

     A bit of the work today was lighthearted and relaxing.  We put the kayaks in the water and had a lot of fun paddling up the channel.  It was amazing how smoothly the efficient boats glided through the water.  Even the most shallow places were not problems, since the kayaks sailed along regardless of the depth, propelled by paddle power.

     Before coming back to dry land, we kayaked to the dam, happy to discover the bags of cement were already making a difference.  The water was higher on the dam.  The great blue heron was on the dam, and it was stunned to see us in the kayaks.  There's no word but shocked to describe the look on its face.  So funny!


September 21, 2017

     To finish with the torches!  A long-awaited dream!  Without the torches none of the steel work would have been possible, and I certainly do not mean to be ungrateful.  There was today, however, a certain bit of joy in finishing the torch-related work on the dam,  

     The final steel work consisted of attaching the two bracing legs to the main beam on the near-shore side with brackets made from the angle iron.  This all went amazingly smoothly, so in no time at all the torches were enjoying their final sail across the lake.  It was a joyous event!  Four weeks of adventures with stell and flames!

     Next on this was the construction of troughs, needed to hod the dry cement while it hardened around the bases of the two interior piers.  For each trough, scrap pieces of exterior wooden siding were cut to make the ends, and a longer piece was used to make the front.  These three pieces of wood were screwed together, and then the entire form was screwed to the timbers on either side of the pier.  It then took three bags of cement to fill one and two bags to fil the other structure.  But, everything held together and should hold the cement in place until the water seeps in, forming a concrete band along the lake-side base of the interior piers.

     A few other bags of cement were strategically placed, with the intention of hindering water flow over the dam.  Placing hundreds of pounds of cement may be the simplest part of the dam repair.

     And then it was on to weedeating!  While trees fell under the power of the chainsaw, weeds met their end due to the weedeater.  The lives of the blooming bachelor's buttons were spared, as were those of some beautiful wildflowers, saved by their vibrant colors.  They can continue in their beauty, at least until the rising lake water becomes too much.


September 20, 2017

     Much was accomplished today, although a mere glance would suggest otherwise.  Final anchoring legs and cross-pieces were secured, a tedious but crucial process.

     The long anchor leg on the far-shore side was locked to the corresponding beam with an L-shaped bracket cut from the angle iron beam and then bolted into place.  In the same section of the dam, a much shorter anchoring leg was fastened to the corresponding beam, held in place with bolts, L-shaped angle irin brackets, and a cross-piece.

     On the near-shore side the anchoring leg that was placed yesterday was attached to the beam by being wedged into rock at the base of the leg, but the bolts have not yet been placed.  Another leg has been added to this section, but it too is waiting to be bolted.

     Several lessons were learned today. The taller cylinders of oxygen and acetylene must be standing to work properly.  No lying around on this project!  Also, when angle iron is heated to an intense temperature, it can be bent; however, the bending is easier if the iron is placed between two piecesof steel and then hammered downward, as opposed to simply hammering the hot metal.

     A small thunderstorm came in this afternoon, which we waited out inside.  When we returned to the dam after the stormwas quickly over, the great blue heron was there, on the dam, checking out the progress.  It is certainly the most curious bird I have ever observed.

     The geese came in at dark, two groups with the larger coming in first but closely followed by the less numerous bunch.  Shortly thereafter, another large group arrived.  Their presence adds such a grandeur to the lake.  They are so majestic.


September 19, 2017

     Steel beams again!  This morning saw another trip to Steel Services to buy two more twenty-feet long beams, needed for legs and cross-pieces on the backside of the main beams, braced along the top of the dam.  A twenty-feet angle iron was also purchased to torch into the needed lengths for the third sides of the bracing triangles.

     The brace for the end of the beam at the near-shore pier went fairly easily.  At a length of only forty inches, this leg was easy to handle.  After Johnny torched the necessary slices along the top part, this anchor slid fairly quickly into place with the lower end wedging into a crevice at the side of the pier.  A little pounding persuasion from a small piece of steel was necessary, though.

     The far-shore section of the dam was a bit more difficult.  Part of this struggle was because the leg was a bit over eight feet long, more than twice the length of the other.  Another problem was that the lower end of the leg had to be jammed into a crevice of the rock face of the waterfall on the backside of the dam.  The water here is still flowing swiftly here over a slick surface of solid rocks.  Needless to say, this anchor endeavor involved, besides the cutting torch and bolts, chains and rope.  These were needed to help with the massive weight of the beam and also to secure Johnny to the stable beam,

     The eagle briefly soared overhead, and both herons fished industriously.  I think the wildlife, at least the birds, turtles, and dragonflies, have become used to our presence.

     On a fun note: Kayaks were also bought today,  Now the exploration of the miles of shoreline will be easier.  The possibilities of discoveries are boundless.


September 18, 2017

     The water is definitely higher.  We are starting the fourth week of dam construction, so this positive result is encouraging, that all the hours of intense planning and strenuous work have not been in vain.

     After inspecting the dam and planning the last stages of construction, we poled around the lake, inspecting.  It was excessively interesting, especially the observation of how the lake bottom changes.  From the mooring spot for the dock to the dam, the bottom is thick mud.  Going toward the head of the lake, a difference is quickly noted.  The bottom is firm, which makes poling the dock so much easier.  The algae on the bottom of the upper part is also a different type.  Here the algae is green, not the thick mats of black algae that grows on the way to the dam.  

     We got some weedeating done on the "island" in the upper part of the lake.The grasses here have grown so thick and tall, and we need to mow them before finishing the dam.  The rising lake waters will surely cover this strip of land visible now.

     The geese came in, right at dark.  Three separate groups came, one right after the other.  Their brassy song and exuberant splash-down once again gave nature'sregal touch to the lake.  Even in the deepening darkness, I could see their distinct silhouettes cruising around the mowed point.  I am sure they conversed extensively about the changed landscape, so human-like in their curiosity.


September 14, 2017

    The greatly anticipated day finally has been fulfilled.  The majority of the dam is now in place with just the final details left to complete.  It was a most satisfying day.

     Securing the last vertical beam at the top of horizontal span was done so quickly and easily.  Havinf full tanks of oxygen and acetylene made all the difference, and yesterday's unfinished task was brought to completion so swiftly.

     Two-by-four boards were placed underwater between the sections of the last part of the beams.  These boards gave the needed support to the geotextile cloth, which in turn supported the bags of cement.  We placed bags of cement at the edge of the dam, between the vertical beams, to seal the water flow.  Sand bags were carefully placed to hold the cement in place until it quickly hardened into concrete.

     Lunch, along with gathering more supplies at the house, took an hour.  It was amazing how much the lake water rose in the short amount of time-at least a couple of inches!  A stepping stone at the water's edgewas covered, all the mudflats disappeared, and the favorite log for the turtles was underwater.

     We spent the rest of the afternoon cutting timbers and placing them in a few of the dam sections.  The lake seemed to continue rising, even though there are still plenty of openings.  One significant change is that much less water is now cascading down the waterfall's rock face, and the sound of the water's rush has lesened.

     No eagles were observed today, but the great blue heron had to check out all the new developments.  It is as curious as a cat!  It was quite close to us, hidden under some bushes along the shore, or so it thought!


September 13, 2017

    Finally!  The heavy work of repairing the dam is behind us.  Today we secured the verticals to the horizontals in the last section.

     Overall, the day went smoothly.  There was a complication with the first vertical, the one in the deepest water.  We could not get the hole in the vertical to match the corresponding hole in the horizontal beam under the water.  Finally, after trying but failing to use a stick to create the match, we poled back and got a screwdriver.  This tool was strong enough to move the vertical just the right amount to allow the bolt to go through both beams.  It was also helpful to use the spotlight, which gave the extra illumination needed.  Success at last!

     The other verticals were much easier, mostly because the holes were out, or almost out, of the water.  They are all done now, tops bolted to corresponding tops and bottoms bolted to corresponding bottoms.  It all looks neatly done and symmetrically balanced.

     Well, almost all of it is done anyway.  On the last vertical beam, top to top, the length of the beam still needs to be adjusted, the interlocking slice must be done, and the holes for the bolt must be torched.  Why?  On the last thing to be done, the oxygen in the tall cylinders ran out, so the torch would not work.

     We poled back to shore and got the small torches from the cottage.  We went back to the dam, thinking all was well.  Then the acetylene ran out on them.  We poled to the shore, retrieved the tall cannisters, and connected the two, so we had oxygen from the small torches and acetylene from the tall ones.  To no avail!  The oxygen then ran out on the smaller set.  The last vertical needs to be bolted, but otherwise, the beams are finished.

     It was a wet endeavor with lots of water in our boots and on our shirt sleeves.  I also almost fell off the dock, something I do foresee happening before this project is finished.

     Finalizing the heavy, awkward beam work certainly is a treat, but the real joy came from the eagles today.  Yes, that's right!  Eagles, as in two!  Earlier this morning I found a second eagle's nest, high in another tree, a pleasant discovery.  Then later, while we were working on the dam, two soared so majestically over our heads.  I was blessed to be able to record them on video.  Such a beautiful sight!


September 12, 2017

    What a cold, dreary day!  It has mostly been a day of steady rain or heavy drizzle, definitely a time to work in the cottage.

     Johnny spent most of the time putting up the tongue and groove boards in the little hallway and in the bathroom.  The kiln-dried wood now awaits my attention with the brush and the polyurethane, or "poly" for short.

     He also hung the new bathroom door.  Now the cottage has been transformed to the status of a castle.  A new bathroom door has that kind of redeeming power.

     I spent most of the day entering the blog information for each workday since August 16.  So much to rewrite, but it also gave me the chance to edit and revise a few bits and pieces.  I hope everyone who visits the blog enjoys the random reflections as we work on this project.  I hope the readers feel a portion of the excitement we feel as we seek to restore this piece of land and water to a degree of the glory it once had.  The natural uniqueness of the place still carries the healing virtues of peace and creativity to the soul.  This is what we strive to portray in all we do here.


September 11, 2017

    A race against the rain!  It is amazing how much can be done under pressure!

     The last section of the dam is now under serious construction.  Everything went fairly smoothly, mostly because the two previous weeks of dam repair have refined our maneuvers.  A twenty-feet-long beam has been placed horizontally as a top piece, and it has been bolted with two bolts to the capping beam in the section to the right.  A sixteen and a half feet beam has been placed horizontally across the bottom, submerged under water.  Holes for bolting in the vertical steel beams have already been torched into the bottom piece.  The holes in the top beam will be done the next day of work on this massive structure.  At least it feels massive to human muscles, which will mend.

     And now we await the rain.

     It was such a busy day I didn't see many animals.  It was so cloudy and dreary that the turtles were not out.  The lesser heron made a brief appearance, and the geese did their splash-downs in two groups about dark.  I didn't even see or hear any frogs or toads.


September 7, 2017

     What a day!  The eagle soared in this morning, circling the lake several times before landing in a water's-edge tree.  It flew again, disappearing until suddenly it reappeared, striking the water hard, catching a fish.  The meal was enjoyed in its nest, high in the sycamore tree.  Later it soared again, perched in another tree for a while, and then glided so majestically away.  I was able to capture a few perching photos and a soaring video.

     The turtles were out and about today, soaking in the sun while reclining on logs or floating on the lake's surface.  They seem to be social creatures, since they don't mind piling up on each other.

     Thirty bags of quick-setting cement now fortify the dam.  They have been placed strategically along the edge of the dam, behind the beams.  Most of the bags were simply laid as they were, still in the bags.  The water has already saturated the bags, and the cement has become concrete.  A few bags were o[ened and poured into the nooks and crannies at the corners.  Geotextile cloth was placed under and around the cement, creating a flexible, but highly effective, base.  Eighteen hundred pounds of concrete are now sealing two sections of the dam. 

     Note to those, like myself, who didn't know: It's cement mix in the powder form. When water, sand, and gravel are added, then it is concrete.  Every day is a day of learning!

     Paw paws are here!  They come from the largest native fruit-bearing tree in North America.  The fruit tastes different, somewhere between a banana and a mango, with the most tasty bits being right around the seeds.  There is so much history around paw paws, and documentation of human enjoyment of this unique fruit goes all the way back to Native Americans and early explorers.  And, they are deliciously here!


September 6, 2017

     A rainy day for sure!  Either it was raining intensely, or there was a fine, saturating mist coming down.  It was a day better spent working inside.

     We put up boards along the sixteen-feet wall in the kitchen.  The required lengths were sixteen feet and twelve feet, so no cutting was required.  What a gift!

     The remaining small walls in the hallway were more challenging.  The tinier the lengths and spaces, the more time-consuming it all becomes.  But, most of the hall is now under new boards too.  There are no words for the warmth and beauty added to a room by new boards.

     A steady rain has fallen all day, cold and dreary.  It doesn't seem possible, though, that it has been enough to raise the water three or four inches at the dam.  That is what has happened, in spite of the unlikelihood.  Maybe there was more of a downpour upstream.

     Tomorrow, hopefully, will be the day for pouring the cement at the top of the dam, with the desired result of sealing the beams.  Having a decrease in the extra depth of water will be a blessing.

     Being inside most of the day hindered observations of the animal kingdom.  The geese were here early this morning, so I think they spent the night on the lake.  They flew over early this evening, but only one lone goose landed, at least while we were watching.

     Sunbeams were breaking through the clouds at the end of the day, so maybe tomorrow will be friendly for outside work.  We desperately need to get the dam repairs under control.


September 6, 2017

     A rainy day for sure!  Either it was raining intensely, or there was a fine, saturating mist coming down.  It was a day better spent working inside.

     We put up boards along the sixteen-feet wall in the kitchen.  The required lengths were sixteen feet and twelve feet, so no cutting was required.  What a gift!

     The remaining small walls in the hallway were more challenging.  The tinier the lengths and spaces, the more time-consuming it all becomes.  But, most of the hall is now under new boards too.  There are no words for the warmth and beauty added to a room by new boards.

     A steady rain has fallen all day, cold and dreary.  It doesn't seem possible, though, that it has been enough to raise the water three or four inches at the dam.  That is what has happened, in spite of the unlikelihood.  Maybe there was more of a downpour upstream.

     Tomorrow, hopefully, will be the day for pouring the cement at the top of the dam, with the desired result of sealing the beams.  Having a decrease in the extra depth of water will be a blessing.

     Being inside most of the day hindered observations of the animal kingdom.  The geese were here early this morning, so I think they spent the night on the lake.  They flew over early this evening, but only one lone goose landed, at least while we were watching.

     Sunbeams were breaking through the clouds at the end of the day, so maybe tomorrow will be friendly for outside work.  We desperately need to get the dam repairs under control.


September 5, 2017

     Today was another successful day of working on the dam.  Johnny had the terrific idea of capping each section of vertical beams with a horizontal beam, thus adding a tremendous downward pressure to securely hold the verticals in place.  It works!

     Of course, there are details.  Each of the verticals had to have a slice torched into its top.  This allowed the horizontal beam to be lowered down into the slices, which locked the horizontal and all the verticals together.  Holes were also torched into all the connecting segments, and bolts were inserted, creating very strong bonds.  It all sounds so simple here, so please add the hoist, chains, sparks, and hours of effort.

     I saw the ducks this morning, two of them!  I was so excited to see two.  I was going to capture them in a photo, but they took to the air with their beautiful duck silhouettes framed in my mind.

     There were two small herons on the lake, the first time I have seen two. At the end of the day there was a noisy crane squabble, and the newcomer finally flew away.  I'm not sure how territorial a single crane is, but these two did not seem interested in sharing the same mud flat.

     The great blue heron came to inspect the new developments on the dam.  It was so evidently captivated with curiosity, just like a cat!

     I saw the eagle again today.  It came soaring in and landed high in the tiptop of a tremendous tree.  It stayed a short while, and then it left as it had arrived, proclaiming to all who would listen with its high, keening cry.


September 4, 2017

     The dam reapir continues, all steps moving forward.  Today involved much preparation-more planning, purchasing plywood, and obtaining more cement.  More, more, more!  But, it is crucial to have everything in place prior to the actual stages.

     We spent quite a bit of time moving everything from the yard to the dock area.  Beams, cement, torches, geotextile cloth, and some of the prepared forty sand bags are now waiting on the banks of the lake, ready to fulfill their individual purposes on the dam.  The transports went fairly smoothly, with the most challenging being the twenty-feet-long steel beams.  This job could never have been done without the dependable tractor!

     We did pole out to the dam to get the exact measurement for the steel beam that will be placed across the tops of four vertical beams already in place between two inside piers.  And what a surprise we found!  A pile of fish scales and one thin white bone!  Obviously, one of the herons has dined well since last Thursday.

     The work on the dam was so intense today that I made minimal animal observations.  The smaller heron, our constant but not too close neighbor, was strolling through the lake's mud flats, and the geese did swoop in right at dark.  Hopefully tomorrow the eagle will show herself.


August 31, 2017

    What a special day!  The eagle flew across the lake and perched in a tree on the far shore!  It was our gift that her grand flight was while we were walking along the shore trail.  In watching her perched on a high limb I saw her nest, thanks to the way the sun illuminated a nearby sycamore.  Once I saw the nest, it was so obvious.  Having binoculars with a fairly intense magnification was so beneficial, allowing for the verification of the grandiose bird. The national emblem of freedom is right here!

     Both herons were present today.  The great blue heron was on the dam early, but it made a quick escape to the far shore when we poled over and started working.  At one point, it flew by, traveling from one side to the other, showing the slate-blue bands on its wings.  The smaller heron was around all day, stalking the water along the grassy shore.  It is our constant, but not too close, neighbor.

     A lone goose flew over at midday.  Its sad call filled the humid air, mourning for we knew not what.  The lonely sound was so humanlike, the sorrowful cry heard through the ages.

     And then there were ten.  Ten steel beams that is!  Most of today was devoted to putting the tenth beam into place and to driving all ten deeper into the muddy bottom.  The tenth beam, on the far side of the second inside pier, went into place easily.  The hoist works wonders, making the beam placements manageable.

     Sometimes wood is better than steel, especially when it comes to creating a lever controlled mostly by human hands.  This was so much less stressful than yesterday when we tried to use a steel beam as the lever.  Today we used a two-by-four oak board, seasoned and over forty years old, placing it on the top of the beam being driven downward.  Spare steel beams were placed in the water across the top of the dam, wedged under crevices in the piers, and then connected to the oak beam with a length of chain.  The two beams in the water, chained together, served as the counterweight, opposing the downward force.  Without this opposition force, the lever would have been useless.

     Johnny torched a hole in the top of each vertical beam, and then we inserted threaded steel rods all the way across.  The rods were joined with couplers, and now each beam is tied to the neighboring beams, adding strength and structure to the whole.

     Praises be!  Thanks to Johnny's smart thinking, the dam repair is progressing nicely.  Thankfully, we have a better, safer plan, and I am grateful no one was knocked unconscious or lacerated by an out-of-control steel beam.

     This concludes Dam Week I.  More adventures of living on the edge will be forthcoming.

August 30, 2017

     The sound of the water flowing over the dam has changed.  Now the rushing is more pronounced, louder, filling the air.  This is probably because the opening in the dam on the far shore has been cleared of both the two old timbers that were there and of the conglomerated mass of tangled roots, rocks, and trash.  The lake water now escapes unhindered, creating a new melody as it cascades down the rock slope on the other side of the dam.

     Nine steel beams are currently in place, basically leaning against the dam, nestled in the muddy bottom.  The beams on either side of one of the interior piers have been secured to each other.  Johnny torched holes in the top and the bottom of each of these beams, and then threaded rods were run through, horizontally, top to top and bottom to bottom.  Washers and bolts secured the rods in place.  This adds even more structure and strength, and all the beams will eventually be connected to their neighbors in a similar fashion.

     This morning we moved the beams, three at a time, with the tractor, chaining the threesome bundle to the bucket and then transporting them to the dock.  From the bank we slid and lifted the beams to the dock, chained everything into place, and poled the dock to the dam.

     Using the hydraulic lift, we were then able to place the beams into position with relative ease, and this turned out to be the simplest part of the day.  Removing the timber and hacking away the root mass with the axe were a bit challenging but doable all the same.

     The most complicated part was trying to use the hoist to raise a steel beam, balance it on a beam already in place, and then lower the hoist, forcing the beam in the water deeper into the mud.  The steel beam being used as the lever was like a loose cannon, unpredictable and ponderous, with edges sharp as swords.  This part of the plan is currently being reevaluated for both safety and peace of mind.

     Animal life on the lake seemed to be at a minimum today, at least as observed.  The great blue heron was here.  I found a tiny dead fish on top of one of the piers, left there by the heron, I am sure. It was not there yesterday.  I also saw three turtles basking on two logs  at the lake's edge.  I snapped a few pictures before they became camera shy and disappeared into the mud.


August 29, 2017

     What to do on a rainy Tuesday?  Time to reevaluate and resupply!

     Johnny and I decided the dam needs a total of fourteen steel beams with most of them anchored on the drop-off side with a steel leg and all of it sealed with cement.  This meant another, and hopefully the last, trip to Steel Services in Roanoke.  Since we didn't have the torches needed to cut the steel, JR met us in Rocky Mount with those, along with the wheelbarrow and the hoe.  We also had to stop at Lowes in both Roanoke and Rocky Mount in order to buy twelve more threaded rods.  Oh, the supplies this is taking!

     Our goal was to get two more steel beams in place; on either side of the next inside pier we did just that!  The beams are going in rather simply, surprisingly!  Today's two will need some tweaking, of course, but they did settle nicely into the lake-bottom mud, as they were lowered by the hydraulic lift.  Once again the dock proved itself to be the perfect work base.

     There has been a timber below the water between the last two piers, probably there since the last flood took so much of the dam away.  Today we used the lift to raise it from the lake, resting one end on the inside pier.  It was amazing as to how much water rushed past, roaring down the waterfall on the stream-side of the dam.  If one timber made that much difference, then how much will change when we get layers of timbers between the beams all the way across?  Our dream of a respectable lake will surely come to be.

     A downside of the overnight, early morning rains was the mud, enough mud to cause the tractor to slide precariously close to the lake's edge.  Thanks to Johnny's boundless knowledge, a couple of sturdy trees, and one tried-and-true wench, we were able to get the tractor back to stable ground, ready for a long day tomorrow.

     The wildlife sightings were small in number today.  The great blue heron was stalking the waters this evening, and the geese flew over but did not stop.  The butterflies, different types, are still enjoying the purple blooming ironweed, and the tiny rosebush in the front yard has two new buds!  Life perseveres, and the natural beauty flourishes for the eyes that take the moments to observe.


August 28, 2017

     Today finally arrived!  After weeks of contemplation, discussion, and studying various dam constructions around the world, repair on the dam here actually has begun!  Such anticipation before the plunge into the effort!

     The EZ Dock has proven itself to be the perfect work base.  We covered the middle of the dock with plywood to prevent scarring and then strapped to the center a hydraulic lift specifically designed for hoisting engines.  The lift weighs several hundred pounds, but maneuvering it with the tractor worked wonders.  The tractor had already been used to partially pull the dock from the lake in order to get a ratchet strap under the dock to secure the plywood.  Before putting the hydraulic lift on the dock, we pushed the dock back into the lake, wisely since the weight of the lift caused the dock to sink a bit.  A little, but not a lot!!

     What a treasure!  The dock easily floated the lift and two steel beams, each weighing 165 pounds.  Johnny poled the dock, loaded with the materials to the dam, and the dock did not tilt or sink!  It did not matter where we stood.  Nothing got off kilter, and the dock seems to be the perfect base from which to work.

     Johnny used the lift to raise each beam, allowing him to maneuver the steel into the desired positions.  Each of these two was placed on the side of the middle piers, one on the left and one on the right.  By slowly lowering each beam into the water, it sank steadily, wedging itself into the muddy bottom.  The bottoms had already been torch-cut at forty-five degree angles, making it easier for the pointed ends to sink solidly.  It worked quickly and without a lot of human exertion.

     The beams are leaning backwards, as intended. Timbers will be placed between the beams, held in position by the existing channels on the sides of the steel beams. The point is for the backwards slant and strength of the steel and timbers to absorb the power of flood waters and heavy debris.  Johnny has invested so much time and energy into creating the most efficient, realistic dam possible.  His careful studies and ingenius creativity are going to work!

     The geese returned this evening!  They seem to always travel in two groups, one right behind the other.  It is so humbling to watch their grand entrance, complete with their boisterous music and showy splash-down.

     I only saw one duck today, but along the shore I found a multitude of feathers.  I fear one of the paddlers has met an untimely end.  In the midst of the beauty, sadness abounds.  The valley of the shadow of death is found everywhere, often in the most unexpected places.


August 24, 2017

     Today the mystery paddlers were not to be seen on the lake.  Maybe yesterday's binocular observations made them shy today.

     The eagle also did not make an appearance, nor did the great blue heron.  The smaller heron, however, stalked through the shallow water most of the day, diligently fishing, and was still there in the early evening when we left.

     The majority of the day was devoted to working on the outside of the house.  I stained the siding that we put up yesterday, and Johnny replaced the window in the front bedroom.  He also started preparing the front wall for siding by adding two-by-four boards to make the upper section of the wall flush with the lower section.  It is an oddly shaped wall, one that had an inset in the upper section where customers to the cafe could walk up to retrieve their orders.

     We learned a new trick today, thanks to Johnny's ingenuity.  He used the saws-all to cut sheet rock away from the window opening, and I followed below the saw with the vacuum.  Very clever!  Most of the sheet rock dust was immediately drawn into the vacuum.

     Yesterday we mastered another innovative saws-all move.  As he cut the ends from the rafters to make the roof line straight, Johnny guided the blade while I activated the saw.  This worked well because of the awkward positioning required.  Teamwork!

     As we left today, we had a treat!  Three small bear cubs crossed the paved road ahead of the truck!  Mama bear must have been in the front.  They had to have just come up from the upper bottom of the property.  Wow! We had just been within easy walking distance of each other!

     The wildlife abounds.  It's such a special privilege to be in the midst of so much diversity! 


August 24, 2017

     Today the mystery paddlers were not to be seen on the lake.  Maybe yesterday's binocular observations made them shy today.

     The eagle also did not make an appearance, nor did the great blue heron.  The smaller heron, however, stalked through the shallow water most of the day, diligently fishing, and was still there in the early evening when we left.

     The majority of the day was devoted to working on the outside of the house.  I stained the siding that we put up yesterday, and Johnny replaced the window in the front bedroom.  He also started preparing the front wall for siding by adding two-by-four boards to make the upper section of the wall flush with the lower section.  It is an oddly shaped wall, one that had an inset in the upper section where customers to the cafe could walk up to retrieve their orders.

     We learned a new trick today, thanks to Johnny's ingenuity.  He used the saws-all to cut sheet rock away from the window opening, and I followed below the saw with the vacuum.  Very clever!  Most of the sheet rock dust was immediately drawn into the vacuum.

     Yesterday we mastered another innovative saws-all move.  As he cut the ends from the rafters to make the roof line straight, Johnny guided the blade while I activated the saw.  This worked well because of the awkward positioning required.  Teamwork!

     As we left today, we had a treat!  Three small bear cubs crossed the paved road ahead of the truck!  Mama bear must have been in the front.  They had to have just come up from the upper bottom of the property.  Wow! We had just been within easy walking distance of each other!

     The wildlife abounds.  It's such a special privilege to be in the midst of so much diversity! 


August 23, 2017

     The eagle flew in this morning, soaring so free and grand over the lake water before landing in a tall, shoreline tree.  It stayed a short while and then disappeared from view.  Hopefully, tomorrow will bring another sighting.

     The question of the duck identity remains unanswered.  I was able to get a clear sighting of them this morning with the binoculars.  This raised more questions.  My current conclusion is they must be juvenile mallards, colored very similarly to the female mallard.  It's possible the pair is a female and a juvenile.  The mystery continues.

     Today a small heron was again on the lake and was still there this evening in the deepening twilight.  I'm not sure if it's a young blue heron or a smaller type of heron, such as the green heron.  Whatever it is, it is a very solitary bird, silent and content in its own company.

     Johnny mowed early this morning, getting quite a bit done on the upper end of the property.  He was especially pleased to get one part done that gets too soggy for the tractor when the rain comes.

     The work on the cottage continues.  Today we finished the wood siding on the shed-side of the house.  Johnny straightened the roof on that side too, which sounds simple but actually requires a lot of tedious maneuvers with the jack and wedges, cleverly done.  A new gutter is now also in place, ready for future rains.

     Speaking of future rains, they have just arrived!  Maybe they will wash away some of this sweltering heat!


August 22, 2017

     I must get a closer look at the ducks on the lake, mostly now because I am now not convinced they are ducks! From a distance the two definitely duck-like birds appear brown.  This rules out the wood duck with its beautifully colored male and the mallard with its intensely emerald-headed male.  The pied billed grebe, on the other hand, is a brown bird for both genders, so the ducks on the lake may be grebes after all.  I truly need a close-up peek at these two elsuive pond paddlers!

     The drive down took a circular path today, by way of Salem to purchase three steel I-beams from Steel Services.  The plan is to cut each beam in half, creating two beams with each weighing 165 pounds.  These will be used to create channels in which to insert timbers, with the end purpose of fortifying the existing dam and raising the level of the lake.  More details on this project will follow as we progress with the plan.  For now we have three I-beams, soon to be torched into six.

     The grasses, all varieties, are growing so rapidly!  Johnny mowed some late this afternoon, and I attacked the edge of the lake with the weedeater.  The assault was much less aggressive than when I mowed the same area two weeks ago.  Today was more like easy trim work.  But, oh how quickly it is all growing!

     The outside wood siding that we put up in the back corner and along the shed-side of the house and then stained last Wednesday and Thursday looked fine today.  The warm honey-colored wood adds such a welcoming, friendly feel to the cottage.  That's our goal-to create an inviting bungalow that is in sweet accord with the natural beauty of the land and the lake.


August 16, 2017

     The geese came in again this evening, right at 8:00.  This is the third straight evening their beautiful honking has preceded their graceful splash-downs onto the lake.  They came in together but in two groups, one flying high and one flying low.  They landed separately, but then, by some predetermined plan, the two groups merged as one.  Tonight they made a single line and swam up the channel between the island and the far bank, quickly concealed by the tall grasses of the island.

     I saw the larger blue heron in flight today, so close I could see the blue-slate band of color on each wing.  Yesterday a smaller heron was here, stalking stealthily through the shallow waters, but I couldn't tell if it was the offspring of the larger one or if it was a juvenile from another body of water.  There is also the possibility it was a lesser heron, naturally smaller than the great.

     The work continues.  Monday afternoon and yesterday were devoted to stabilizing the shed.  This nvolved pushes with the tractor and pulls with the wench and chains.  The jack was used over and over, but eventually all the piers were stabilized and the structure is now level and firmly anchored.  We started putting up the plywood on the inside, adding to the solidness.

     The back corner is now under siding!  Yay!!  Johnny finished it this evening, and now all it needs is the stain.  We have started the house wrap up the side closest to the shed, and hopefully, tomorrow will see that side covered in siding too.  I am excited to get the stain applied!

     Weedeating continues!  There is so much to do!  It is slow, especially since the grasses are so tall and so dense!  I saw quite a number of the preying mantis species in there today.

     The chiggers and mosquitoes abound, as do the blisters.

     Note:  Chiggers are mites.  The larvae have six legs, while the adults have eight.  Only the larvae bite, dissolving human flesh.  Gross!