Gristmill Lake Reflections

 

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!

 

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

 

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.

 

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 lso bought today,  Now the exploration of the miles of shoreline will be easier.  The possibilities of discoveries are boundless.

 

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

 

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!

 

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 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 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 9, 2017


     Wow!  There just 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 24, 2017


     Gristmill 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 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 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 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.