Changing the Katrina Cottage

October
13
2016

Little Choptank Nov.5 to 7, 2011 078

Lots going on around here in real-time.  We are packing up the Crab Shack, the kitchen and bathroom and mudroom that is, because the builders are starting in here on Monday.  We’re going to live in John’s office, which is above the garage.  It also serves as a guest suite – it has a daybed and a bathroom of course.  So we’ll be living up there for as long as it takes them to finish up in here. (Hopefully a week to ten days.)

Plus it’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and we are going to VA for a day trip to celebrate!  It’s also my cousin Irene’s birthday – so it’s a double celebration! Busy, busy, busy.

Little Choptank 2015 J October 262

The plans call for them to break through in the mudroom and add double doors into the back hallway of the “addition” a/k/a the house.  This was the requirement to make it an addition….only the one entry.  Then, they are tearing down the wall of the bathroom in the Crab Shack where the sink is now and re-configuring the bathroom (except for the shower) to make it bigger.

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 500

We’re also adding a tub – which actually was the cause of much conversation as to what tub we would get.  We were going to get one of those beautiful stand alone tubs, that was our decision for a long time.

Capture.2

Then we realized that a lot of the guests who would actually use the tub would not find it that convenient to get into and out of.  So then we went to a drop in tub.  They are also beautiful and we’d have the tile surround and have Fernando (lead builder) make wainscoting to go in the front.

Here was my vision – not the tile all the way up to the ceiling, but maybe a third of the way.  The shower and tub placement are like they will be in the Crab Shack:

 

Capture.4

 

So we went to Seaford, Delaware where the plumbing showroom was (had great Pizza there at Sal’s by the way) and gave Karen from Elegant Designs Showroom our plans to make sure everything would fit.  Well, surprise, surprise and not in a good way….we don’t have room for a drop in tub!!  So if we want to completely change the floor plans (a definite NO) then we had one choice – a slide in tub.  A plain old tub.  It’s a little fuzzy but here is a picture of the new configuration of the bathroom and closet – where our kitchen is now:

Capture

I was a little disappointed – a “little” in this case meaning “very.”  There’s no room for a tile surround or the wainscoting, although we’ll still have tile around the three sides of it.  But let me tell you, by this point in the project, even though it’s been a very good experience and we’re still happy with the workers and the work, we’re a little tired of it all.  So, we bought the tub and moved on.

The rest of the project is moving along – although slowly it seems.  Everything takes longer than you think.  Everybody says it on a building project as large as this, and it’s so true.  When the actual building started – in March – John thought they’d be done by his birthday – early August.  There’s a reason why we say he could be the president of the optimist club.  I thought they’d be done by my birthday – early October.  But now, we’ll be “thankful” if we get in the house by Thanksgiving!  We’re going to spend it at Chrissy’s in Virginia anyway.

So, next time we’ll be back to the progress as it moved along in July – putting on the metal roof.  Meanwhile, enjoy our sunset.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 089

 

 

Living in our Katrina Cottage

February
13
2015

 

We finally made the move!  And this beautiful site – taken from my front porch – greeted us two days later!  An omen you say?  I think so.

An all out Full Rainbow!

An all out Full Rainbow!

It’s been a long road moving down to our beautiful “designing our retirement” property. We’ve owned the property eight years now, and have been building things little by little – the garage, the Crab Shack, (see the inside here),  the metal building, the bocce court, the wind turbine and let’s not forget the fence (more on this in a future post) -  till we culminate with the Dream House!

We needed to fix up our house, and it needed a lot more work than we realized!  When you live in a place for 22+ years, you don’t notice how dated things have become.  We actually worked on some part of the house for over a year!  One of the first things was cleaning out the attic.  While I was recuperating from knee surgery, John and Jackson brought down boxes, and I was able to go through them a few at a time. We cleaned it out and brought the bins down to Maryland.  That was “Truck Number One” as it’s called around here.  Just FYI, we went up to “Truck Number Four.” Then we started updating.  And updating.  And updating some more.  Here’s an example:

Before update

Before update

 

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a future post I’ll chronicle more of the work we did on the house and give you a few suggestions based on things we’ve learned.

 

But as I take a quick look back at last year – February 13, 2014 – here is what was outside my door:

snowstormsnow2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And thankfully, here is what is outside my door today:

Little Choptank 2015 B February 215      Little Choptank 2015 B February 216

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, today it’s cold, and I won’t say we’ll never get snow.  But it’s always warmer than where we lived in NJ, and there will be less snow.  And that – for sure – is a good thing!

 

What’s Going On

July
9
2014

 

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t written in a month or so. And by “month or so” I mean since May. Our move is getting closer, and we are getting busier.  But here’s a run-down of what we’ve been doing.

We took a little vacation in May, and went to one of our favorite places, Montauk.  It was our anniversary….35 years!!…so amidst all our other work, we decided to take the time to celebrate.  It was wonderful!  It was right before Memorial Day, so the crowds hadn’t arrived yet, everything was open for the season, and best of all, the prices hadn’t gone sky-high yet!

Here's the view from our room

Here’s the view from our room

We stayed right in town at the Royal Atlantic, and truthfully, I’ve never seen Montauk so empty!

The view to the left

The view to the left

The fishing was a little off due to the long winter we all had, but the weather was just great, cool in the mornings and nights, and hot during the day.  Just what we wanted.

View to the right

View to the right

Here is a view of the place from the beach…..

Royal Atlantic on the beach in Montauk,  Long Island

Royal Atlantic on the beach in Montauk, Long Island

 

We saw the world’s biggest flip-flop in town:

Montauk Anniversary Trip 049

Here’s the famous Montauk Lighthouse:

Montauk Lighthouse

Montauk Lighthouse

We also walked around the outside of the Lighthouse on the water side, the large boulders placed there for that purpose are really amazing!  That was some good planning there!

Boulders surrounding the Montauk Lighthouse

Boulders surrounding the Montauk Lighthouse

And here’s a familiar sight when you gaze out to sea:

Fishing boat

Fishing boat

And if you were more adventurous:

Shark Cage Diving

Shark Cage Diving

We weren’t.  We spent our time fishing from the safety of the beach and drinking margaritas.  We also ate out every night.  There’s a Chinese Restaurant in Montauk called Wok and Roll.  If you bring them the fish you caught that day, they’ll cook it for you.  They offer about 10 different ways they’ll prepare it, the place is very popular.  We didn’t have our own “catch” to bring them, but the dinner was delicious anyway.

Earlier in May, I was busy helping our tenant move out.  We have a little condo in town where my mom lived for six years before she passed away.  Our tenant was pretty good, we had a few bumps along the way,  but she’s on state aid,  she doesn’t drive and she needed some help getting around to look at new apartments.  The state also cut her rent allowance, and finding something acceptable was a little difficult.  So, I’d take her around to look at apartments, and finally when we finally found one, we had to go back and forth for her to look inside the apartment, pick up paperwork, drop off her state papers, sign the paperwork, get back the paperwork for the state to look at, and pick up the keys.  Could these things have been done in fewer trips??  I would have thought so.  But no.  All different trips to the apartment, which is not that close by,  and we had to make “appointments,” we couldn’t just pop in for them to hand her the keys.  Anyway, when she finally moved,  we had to clean up the apartment to put it on the market.  It’s a cute little place, it’s the first floor unit at the end on the right side…. and there aren’t that many condo places in this town, so hopefully it’ll sell soon.

Condo

Condo

My mom had wall to wall carpeting,  so we actually never saw what floor was there.  We were happily surprised to find a wood floor, which we had refinished!  It’s looks really nice!

Bedroom

Bedroom

Our tenant was a smoker, so the kitchen cabinets were kind of messy.  They cleaned up pretty well, I think:

Kitchen

Kitchen

Our realtor was very happy with the before and after, so she’s optimistic it won’t be on the market too long.

Also, in May and June, we made trips to Maryland, bringing down some “stuff.”  Stuff you don’t want to pack up and take the chance it’ll get broken.  But of course while we’re there, we get to enjoy the place!  Our daughter Chrissy even came to visit during one of our trips there, and that was a treat!   We all went fishing, and Chris wound up catching this stingray, which we later learned is one that they are trying to get rid of!  It eats the crabs and oysters that are the livelihood of the watermen down in the Chesapeake and it’s tributaries.  We didn’t know it at the time… we let him go.

Chrissy caught this ray

Chrissy caught this ray

We fished a couple of times.  One calm day we spent out in the Chesapeake.  We caught a few fish, some were small and we threw them back, but we had a few keepers.  There was some interesting boat traffic:

The tanker and the fishing boat - sounds like a children's book

The tanker and the fishing boat – sounds like a children’s book

 

John found a terrapin in our driveway, so he brought him down by the beach to show me.  He sat there for a minute all tucked in his shell, and then ran as fast as he could to the water.  It was hysterical! I didn’t think a turtle could move that quickly!

Turtle

Turtle

Run....run for your life!

Run….run for your life!

Safe at last

Safe at last

We enjoyed our sunsets:

Little Choptank Sunset

Little Choptank Sunset

Afterglow

Afterglow

sunset

And we enjoyed our dinner:

Fish cooked on a plank, farmer's market tomatoes and corn, and mini potatoes roasted on the grill

Fish cooked on a plank, farmer’s market tomatoes and corn, and mini potatoes roasted on the grill

And of course, we’re also packing up and getting our house worked on.  We just had the garage painted and epoxy put on the floor.  It looks terrific, I wish we’d done it years ago!  And…my cousin finally sold her house, so they’ll also be moving down in a month or so.  Such excitement!  Such a new adventure for the four of us! We can hardly wait!

choptank sunset

Finally Moving Forward Again

April
16
2014

 

We will be heading to Maryland this weekend and will finally be moving forward with our plans once again.  As you know, the Metal Building took a long while, and we haven’t been down there for a couple of weeks.  Since then, however, Kyle has been fixing up the sides of the building inside as well as outside, and also fixing up the floor inside so we will be able to start bringing our stuff inside. He’s using some kind of composite made with asphalt so it will pack down and eventually become very strong like a road.  So we will bring in the boat trailers, the tractor, the ATV, the crab pots, etc. Then – next week hopefully – we will rent a truck and start moving out all the bins and boxes I’ve been packing up here.  And we have a lot!  It’ll be nice to clear out the garage up here at the house, as well as get part of my living room back.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Last week John had a business trip to Prague, so I went to VA to visit my daughter.  She wants to buy a townhouse soon, so we spent a lot of time looking at them.  I’ve said many times that DIY is for the young – and now I also think townhouses are for the young!  Those stairs!  I guess it’s good exercise but it got tiring going up and down three or four sets of stairs.  But we both love looking at houses, so we really enjoyed ourselves.  Plus, we got to enjoy ourselves eating dinner at Ozzie’s in Fairfax Corner!  Have you heard of them?  They are part of a chain, and yes, sometimes the food is fantastic and sometimes is it so-so.  But it’s a fun place, the wait staff and managers are very friendly, and we always enjoy ourselves there. Plus, they have Ozzie rolls!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

Ozzie rolls! Yum!

And the perfect Margaritas!

Delicious!

Delicious!

Last year they started a new spring appetizer, hickory grilled artichokes with garlic lemon aioli, and it’s been such a hit they brought it back this year.  We had it last year and loved it, so of course when we heard it was on the menu again we were very, very happy.

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

Grilled artichokes with garlic aioli

And, in case you’re wondering what I had for dinner…..  short ribs, with garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and frizzled onions.  Not a dietic dinner I admit.  But yummy!

Short ribs

Short ribs

We will try and take a boat ride also this weekend, if the weather and water cooperate.  But it will mostly be a working weekend, and then we can truly say we are moving forward again, to designing and building our dream home! Stay tuned!

Back to Work

January
15
2014

 

I’m thinking it’s about time I get back to blogging.  With the holidays, and packing up for our move, writing has kind of fallen by the wayside.  But now there’s a little bit of progress to report, so hopefully you’ll see consistent articles in the future.

(I write that as if I’m not the one in control.  Hahaha.  Hopefully some blogs will get written, let’s look at the page and see if something magically appears.) 

We always go into the city to see the tree

We always go into the city to see the tree

We had a very nice, if low key holiday. We took our annual trip into New York City.  We went to the Shake Shack for the first time, then to Rockefeller Center, to the store in the N.Y. Public Library, and then to Bryant Park.  The weather was good and the four of us had a great time. 

This year I decided not to take down every single Christmas decoration since we weren’t hosting Christmas and, well, because I just didn’t feel like it.  Our plan over the past few months has been bringing down boxes from the attic, cleaning them out, and then packing them up for the “move” by putting them in the garage.  And our attic was stuffed.  So now it’s the Christmas boxes.  I actually still have them in the living room, some still need to be weeded through.  It’s hard getting rid of some of the old decorations.  They go back a lot of years, and even if I don’t decorate with them anymore, they still bring back memories. It’s not easy letting go. 

St. Patrick's is getting a makeover

St. Patrick’s is getting a makeover

We thought our metal building would be done by now, and we were going to bring down lots of our stuff, so that when we put the house on the market (target date is this May) the house will be somewhat empty, and when the actual move happens, there won’t be that much to take.  I’m not taking a lot of the furniture.  It fit in this house, and I’ve had it for 20 years but we’ll get new stuff for our waterfront house.  Which, you will probably remember, isn’t even built yet.  We will be moving into the “Crab Shack.”  Then, hopefully in the fall, after interviewing builders and finalizing our house plans, we will start to build!  It’s so exciting. It’s THIS YEAR that we’ll be building our new house!  I can hardly believe it!  It’s been 7 years since we bought the property, and the time is almost here!  Of course living in 1000 sq. ft. cabin for a year will be a bit challenging.  Especially because I’ll want to bring a lot of my “stuff” into the Crab Shack with me. (Winter clothes, small kitchen appliances (and I have a lot), all the stuff from my office!)  But I have a feeling most of it will be in bins in the garage.  I plan to mark them well, with “things to leave in front” actually placed in the front of all the other bins.  Will that actually happen? Eh, it’s a toss-up. 

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Skating is FREE!  You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it's totally free!

Skating is FREE! You can rent skates, but if you have your own, it’s totally free!

So, on to the metal building update:  we met with Nick from Diamond State Pole Buildings in October.  That’s OCTOBER, over three months ago!  We thought the building would have been up before Christmas.  And it was no fault of Nick’s.  He sent his guy to our town hall to apply for the permit, a service they provide when you buy a building.  But here’s the catch.  When you are building anything on the water, there are rules and regulations and protocols you must follow before anything gets approved.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it's lights.

The Chrysler Building had just that minute turned on it’s lights.

So did the Empire State Building

So did the Empire State Building

We needed to get a surveyor down to the property to map out the surrounding area, and presumably to draw in where the building would be.  But, this area has parts that are in the “buffer zone.” Yes, the dreaded “buffer zone.”  You are discouraged from building in the buffer zone, it would be a whole other rigmarole to get approval, and we had enough property that the building could be moved a little to make sure it was in the safe area. (Yes, maybe some of the regulations are warranted, it saves the shoreline from erosion and the Bay from pollution.  We get it.)

The water around the boat froze.

The water around the boat froze.

Brrrrr

Brrrrr

However, we now needed another guy to come down and draw up where the buffer zone actually was, and to test the soil to make sure it could hold the weight of the building.  And this is where we lost track.  That person was unknown to us, it was around the holidays, and nobody but us cared about the time factor.  We lost a month waiting for him to get down to the property and submit his drawings.  When that finally happened (two weeks ago) we realized that we now had to add plantings (trees and shrubs) to the property in the amount of square footage of the building.  You take away with one hand; you have to give back with the other.  So I researched plants native to Maryland (a requirement) and drew up a map of our property placing the trees, large and small, and the shrubs, and we went down to Maryland to our town hall to submit our plan.  After meeting with three different people in two different parts of town, we got verbal approval.  However, the actual permit won’t be issued for two to four weeks, at which time Nick will order the building, taking another two weeks to get delivered.  Seeing the pattern here?  SLOW.  Everything is slower than you want, and you need a lot of patience!  I said to John that when we move down in May we should start applying for our building permit for the house, which we won’t need until October.  And hopefully we will get it in time!  

Lots of geese flying in

Lots of geese flying in

Ice is gone, all is well

Ice is gone, all is well

 

Cleaning Out the Attic

October
31
2013

 

As you know, we’ve been getting our house ready to be put on the market (next spring) and we will move down to our “Crab Shack” in Maryland where we will be building our (semi) retirement dream home.

And as you also probably know, cleaning out the “stuff” from some 20 plus years in one house can be daunting!  John and Jackson (our son) have been bringing me down boxes from the attic, so that I can go through them a few at a time.

Boxes from the Attic

 

Some, over the past couple of weeks, have been easy to go through.  Old clothes that (sadly) I will never fit in again.  Or old shoes that I wouldn’t want to fit into.  Today, I came upon three boxes of photo books. Three Boxes.  From the time before the digital camera.  Can you imagine how many pictures didn’t make the books?  Probably thousands!  I spent more time looking at pictures yesterday and today than I did packing.

Wedding Book

Do couples today still have a wedding album?  Or is it all on a CD.  Or a DVD?  It makes sense, since we all look at our pictures on our computers and devices now.  But still, there is something nice about sitting with a big, heavy photo album in your lap.

Photo Books 032Here’s my sister.  She passed away, it was 11 years this month!

Photo Books 030It was such a happy day for our parents too.  Sadly, the four of them are no longer with us either.

Photo Books 034And the priest let everybody come up to watch us say our vows.  It was pretty special.

Jackson's Baby BookHere’s Jackson’s baby book.  I know, it’s kind of dirty.  And the pages are falling out!

Jackson's one year book

Look how big it is.  And this is only up to his FIRST BIRTHDAY!

Jackson

Here’s Jackson on his second day of life.   Look at that head of hair! The nurses were parting it before the week was out.  Big baby, 10 lbs. 14 oz.!  I was happy about it, since I never handled a newborn before.  I didn’t feel like he was going to break every time I picked him up.

Jackson first birthday         Photo Books 012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here was one of his first birthday cake celebrations!  (He had four that year, we didn’t live close to our family and friends and they all made separate trips up to celebrate with us and him.)

Photo Books 008Here’s his “formal” one year old picture.  We did that every month, went to Penney’s or Sears and had a professional picture taken for his birthday.  Like we didn’t take enough of them ourselves!  Such a cutie!

Photo Books 013        Photo Books 016

This one on the left is his next photo book.  But at least it’s from age 2 to 4.

The one on the right is from 4 to 9!

 

I was slowing down I guess, since when Jackson was 4, we had Chrissy.

 

Photo Books 018         Photo Books 017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are her three early photo books, again, up to a year, from age 2 to 4, then 4 to 6.

Photo Books 025

Maybe a little smaller.  But not tooooo much, right?

Photo Books 021               Photo Books 022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her first birthday cake celebration.  I guess we kept that high chair for a while, huh?  And the rattle!  It’s the same one!  I guess I really held on to things.

Photo Books 024 Now I ask you, who’s cuter?  Them, or the stuffed animals?  It’s them, I know it…. you don’t have to think about it.

Photo Books 026

 

So here are some of the boxes that we will be putting into storage in the garage in Maryland while we are building the house.   And I not only hold on to things for a long time, I’m also prepared for the future:

Photo Books

Neither one has children.  Yet.  Be prepared.  That’s my motto.  (Well, I guess it is now.)

Here they are, cute as can be.

Chrissy GW law....cropped

Those were some interesting boxes!