The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

When you take on a new house project – especially a fixer – your tip list grows quickly. Despite bouts of fear and sticker-shock, we are still on the road to a home we already love in a town we are quickly growing more and more attached to.

Let’s get right to the tips – based on our missteps, lessons learned and a sprinkling of luck.

  1. Three Ps remain the mantra: patience, persistence and perspective – making measured, informed  decisions result in the project moving along at a pace that works with your budget and schedule. Trust your gut – if you have a shadow of a doubt on a decision, think it through again.
  2. Stick to the plan: we decided to work on this house from the outside-in. While we continue to talk about the ultimate interior renovations, other than some paint and a few window treatments, we are not planning a major investment on the interior until the outside is in shape – or close to it.
  3. Under-play your fixer – your family will be pleasantly surprised. We have told our families that we have a lot of work ahead; deferred maintenance are the words the Realtors used in describing the house (former owned didn’t do much at all to improve or even maintain the house). When our families visited the house this past month, they practically scolded us for describing the house as we have. They, too see the possibilities and  good bones of the house. Their collective responses amount to, “You made the house sound awful; it’s really lovely.” Of course, it’s not their project – but it is good to know we are not crazy and we have their support!
  4. Small-town, small steps. Figure out your possible DIY projects. In a small town – or any town – you can find someone to do anything for you – but you will pay in time and of course, money. Getting on a contractor’s small-town schedule takes finesse; be flexible and communicate with each contractor.
  5. Be specific: when  dealing with your contractor’s estimate continue to do research and ask people for help and advice. Doug reached out to his brother for advice since he had done major remodeling; we compared and contrasted details in estimates and asked contractors to provide more details. Be sure you have a timeline – or at least a finish date. Your two month-long project can stretch to months and months if you do not stay on top of details.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say, “No:”we nixed one project one of our contractors quoted because of price and the cross-over with another project and contractor. When in doubt put the brakes on.
  7. BREATHE: remember why you started this journey. Every day I love and enjoy this house and this town more. Every little DIY task or decision leads us to what will become our very special place. We continue to enjoy the lake, hiking, biking, boating. water-skiing, sailing; town concerts and cultural events; the local gym and shops; amazing lobster, ice cream and food that just tastes better here; getting to know people in town and spending time with them and becoming part of this community.

Those are seven tips for now; there are probably many more to come. With a full month under our belts here, we are heading back to our other home shortly. That will bring the inevitable culture shock (I haven’t waited a traffic light or been in a traffic jam for weeks!). We have a better idea of what to expect at this Happy Place; we have some big projects coming up at this house and we’ll be popping up for brief stays throughout the coming months. Being on this journey with an amazing husband and great family and friend support leaves me content and ever-hopeful of what this home will be in a few years.

View from the Lake – Updated

View from the Lake – Updated

Our annual sojourn to Lake Winnipesaukee is underway. It occurs to me I have

Sunset from Tuftonboro

Sunset from Tuftonboro

amassed many stories and listened to others’ tell their experiences about this magical place – my happy place.

Since the author of the splendid piece – who I gave credit to in the earlier version of this post – does not want his story told, I update this post today to share a few words about bucolic Lake Winnipesaukee.

Everyone should have a place in this world where they feel true happiness; whether it’s relaxing with a beverage on your back patio or on a white, sand beach somewhere – happiness is a fleeting commodity.

Author; from Abenaki Tower with view of Lake Winnipesaukee

Author; from Abenaki Tower with view of Lake Winnipesaukee

Now that we’ve been home for three weeks, my perspective is every so clear: life will be better, happier, more content with long stays living by (or near) the lake.

During our two weeks this year, I enjoyed a vacation schedule with some work continuing. My husband and I have home offices; even though we were by the lake, we created a ‘home’ office in our vacation house which included a table, chairs, our computers and solid internet connection. During times when we had to get some work done, the view was spectacular. Work time motored along. We were rewarded for our efforts by being able to step into the boat and onto the lake.

The Post boys jumping from the amazing rock off Moultonborough, NH

The Post boys jumping from the amazing rock off Moultonborough, NH.

My gym time – normally two or three mornings a week – was not interrupted on vacation. I joined the local gym in Wolfeboro for two weeks (at $25 -it was a huge bargain) and kept to my routine. That routine was supplemented  by the short walk up to Abenaki Tower with a view that hugs your mind and soul.

Breskin, Kardon and Friedman families in NH - courtesy Sean Kardon

Breskin, Kardon and Friedman families in NH – courtesy Sean Kardon

While making the move to New Hampshire will be a process; the goal will be to choose a home and site that will fill our hearts and minds with the love we feel for each other as well as for the place known as the Lakes Region. This adventure will be about discovering the community; getting to know the people and further exploring the lake and splendid nature that stretches for miles and miles.

What really happened for us during this vacation was the realization that we can indeed make the move to the Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro region. After enjoying wonderful moments this time with our friends, the Posts from Connecticut and our family from Pelham, NY, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, we know that home for us is wherever we are together. So why not be in a place where we can enjoy nature, people, family and friends? While we may or may not be finished with working full-time when we find a home and settle six months a year in New Hampshire, one thing is for sure the feelings of happiness and joy that fill our days and nights when we’re there – will hug us until we can breathe no more. The timeline is evolving – but the goal is clear: New Hampshire will be home for at least six months out of the year.

When You’re Away, Are You Really Gone?

I’m bbaaaackkk. Vacation is a beautiful thing. It clears the mind and refreshes the soul. The question is, how can you maintain that vacation state of mind once you get back to your life and work? I wish I had a great, insightful answer. I’m sure if I did, I’d be depositing a lot of checks and signing book deals.

The best I can offer is: try to add scenes from your vacation to your list of happy places to help you get through the day. Your happy place is where you go when life and work start closing in on you. The back of your neck gets tight. Deadlines abound and you feel as though you never went on vacation. Just stop;IMG_1877 close your eyes and remember something special from your vacation. For me it will be the sight of the clear, blue sea and the feel of the soft, white, warm sand under my feet. Also, my husband taking on the Flowrider and our encounter with Carlos the dolphin will be happy places for me.

Remembering all the happy places throughout your life help you get through the tough times. Think about the serenity, smiles, laughter and beauty that you see in all the places you visit.

It is those thoughts that help me tackle work as I get back to the routine this week. Normally, I will blog on Tuesdays and Fridays. So, I missed Tuesday and blogged today, Wednesday. The sky did not fall; no blood was shed; no lives were lost. I ended up working ten hours today and did get a lot done. Tomorrow is another day. Now, I rest and visit my happy places.

All Good Things

The cool wind shifts in Moultonborough

The wind in New Hampshire has taken a noticeable turn. While the breeze is still refreshing and clear, the 10 to 20-mph gusts are creating white caps on our little piece of Lake Winnipesaukee. The sky is crystal clear and the greenery vibrant and whooshing in these winds. The sun is warming things up a bit, but there is a slight chill letting us know that it is time for a change.

While the boys and men hike Mount Major about an hour from our vacation house, we are enjoying a bit of quiet while starting to pack our things for the long ride home tomorrow. It is always bittersweet ending a vacation. The memories are countless: discovering the simple

Simple pleasures 1

pleasures of swimming and floating on a calm lake with two families tossing balls; heading to Smitty’s Golf to hit a few buckets of balls and discovering – we’re not bad at this;

Simple pleasures 2

enjoying a local classic car show and gobbling pizza and salad at Pizza Barn in Ossipee; canoeing and rowboating out to an isolated, tiny island in the lake and building a small fire to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. Earlier in the week, we again enjoyed Rocky Gorge, nature’s swimming sight that Disney could never replicate, along the Kancamagus Highway around Conway, NH.

Simple fun at Rocky Gorge

The simple pleasures also include one of the boys thanking me for the great ideas that filled our second-to-last full day on vacation. We had to improvise given that our boat decided to konk out Wednesday afternoon. The fix could either be simple or more complex, but my husband reminded me we have boated more in these past two weeks than we ever have on vacation here in New Hampshire. We discovered new parts of the lake where we had never been before and I got to drive our boat several times enjoying how it glides across the waters and seems to have been made for this area.

The loon have been so incredibly active during these two weeks. In the past, there have been vacations when we did not see or hear a loon once. Nearly every night and morning, the call of the loon reminded us how

precious nature is. The lack of car and airplane noise and the vivid scenery that is present always in this

Simple pleasures 3

Sunset from "S'more" Island

place let me know that I will return often to find peace and joy.

I have said often that I find myself here in New Hampshire. That has been reinforced once again after a two-week respite. I have managed to get a little work done and enjoy restful, stress-free days and nights. We realize reality will face us with work and school in the days ahead. But during those stressful moments that will inevitably strike, if only for a second, I can close my eyes to find my happy place – a scene in New Hampshire frozen in time in my mind’s eye.

Water Pumps, Saxons and Tubing

They say you can survive without food, but not without water. We have now survived just about 18 hours without water at our lake house and all is well (or is it water well). The water for the lake house is pumped from a well and the motorized pumping sound is sort of like an air conditioner hum – you know it’s working well – until it’s not. Around midnight Monday, the pump kept cycling through with the “contractions” getting closer and closer until I knew something was wrong. You see, at that hour, no one was using water, so WHY would the water pump be operating? Turns out there was a crack in the housing and water sprayed all over the basement creating a 1/4 inch deep pond. Our attentive house owner was contacted and he arrived around breakfast time to begin cleanup and let us know the plumber was on the way.

The day was not lost. Even without a shower (we showered before the pump had broken), we managed to brush our teeth with bottled water, ate breakfast at a nearby diner, then packed up the boat for Doug’s treat for the Camp Robin Hood Saxons- a jaunt in the boat and tubing. I had decided to treat the Saxons to pizza so the day became a lunch-time, afternoon event.

The Saxons at the Friedman's camp on Lake Ossipee

After picking up $125 worth of pizza, I drove to the home of Jack & Jane Friedman and their son, Myles and wife Virginia. Jack is a cousin of my mother-in-law. Jane’s family has owned the Lake Ossipee property for well over a century. I arrived with the pizza just as the Saxons arrived at the dock. They were hungry and grateful and dug right in. I spent nearly two hours talking with the Friedmans about family history and listened to stories from the past.

The weather was hot, with a light breeze. The Saxons swam and tubed for a while, then collapsed in the beach area outside. I ventured back to our cottage to check out water pump progress. The owner was continuing to wet-vac the basement and dry out belongings that were soaked. Rich, the plumber from Federal Piping in Freedom was just about finished by 3:30 p.m. We had water and a new pump once again.

Doug was exhausted from the Saxon jaunt. I prepared a simple grilled chicken and vegetable dinner with a salad. I watched the Phillies get clobbered by the Dodgers (though they tried to claw their way back), and it was lights out by 11 p.m. Another day at the lake with an adventure in water pumps.

A classical vacation..almost interruptus

A visit to Tanglewood

A visit to Tanglewood

Do you remember that commercial where a group of friends around a lake, presumably on vacation, throw their cell phones in the lake? THAT’s what I need to do over the next week: silence my phone and NOT take it with me when I’m out supposedly ON VACATION.

This final prelude leading to a week in New Hampshire included seeing off some family going ahead of us to their vacation rentals in NH, a bit more laundry and a walk in Great Barrington with my husband.

Tonight, Doug, Adam and I had dinner at Tanglewood with my mother-in-law and her concert friends. The site there is gorgeous and serene in the hills of Lenox, MA. Mostly adults, but some families and 30 somethings choose their patch of grass or a favorite tree to have a picnic supper in the twilight before tonight’s concert led by conductor Andre Previn and the Boston Symphony

Grounds of Tanglewood

Grounds of Tanglewood

 Orchestra. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performed Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2 in A which was preceded by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat.  In reality, Adam didn’t find enough around the grounds to interest him, so we took him home after dinner and a walk around the grounds. While the three of us were on that stroll, my cell phone rang. We have caller ID for a reason. And I reacted, rather than realize WHO was calling; WHEN they were calling and that I probably couldn’t do much about what would be on their mind. Ten minutes later, I had to handle this situation; make an executive decision and execute it. Fortunately, it did not ruin my evening. Live and learn.

Now, after the serene and classical evening, the temperature has cooled down; windows are open, there’s a book to read. Despite the work-related drama a few people tried to create earlier today, the world will turn, no lives will be lost and life will go on. So will this vacation. Cheers!

You know you’re on vacation when…

Waiting for a great lunch at High Tide Take Out

Waiting for a great lunch at High Tide Take Out

You know you’re on vacation when:

  • You can’t remember your home phone number.
  • You can’t remember WHY you were so stressed out just before you left for vacation.
  • The red wine with dinner tastes extra mellow as you swish it around with a great meal of grilled pork tenderloin, fresh corn on the cob and salad.
  • Cleaning up after dinner isn’t such a drag.
  • You stop to watch the sunset and smell the evening dew on the green slope.
  • You’re happy to see your mother-in-law.

All these things are true for me today. We’ve had an interesting 36 hours. About 16 of those hours were spent driving. Fortunately, not all at once. The trip to Western Massachusetts to stay for a few nights with my mother-in-law wasn’t stressful, despite the usual North Jersey traffic. It was especially not stressful after a I made a phone call to my neighbor to ask if she could go into our house and make sure I turned the upstairs fan in my office off. Don’t you hate when that happens?  I remembered just about every detail in planning this trip away, but couldn’t remember if I turned the fan off.  Arriving at my mother-in-law’s after dinner was pleasant, though we were exhausted. Both of us worked and packed at the same time up until the time we walked out the door leaving South Jersey behind for a well-deserved respite. I’m just waiting for the respite part. The first part of this break involved a day trip from Western Massachusetts to the Lakes Region in New Hampshire and back. We picked up our son from camp where he spent the past three weeks. I swear he’s a little taller; his voice a little deeper his descriptions about what he did with his camp buds the past days a little more detailed. The best part of the day was when he asked me if I wanted to walk to his bunk with him while Doug brought the car down to pick up Adam’s gear. It’s nice to be asked to do something by your 15-year-old son.

Our stop for lunch at High Tide Take-Out in Hillsborough, NH was also a big highlight. There’s nothing more typical of New England than a great roadside clam bar. High Tide steps it up just a little with a huge screened porch dining area. Outside there’s a playground for the kids and some tables and umbrellas under the trees. On this day, it was a bit cooler after morning showers. We arrived during lunch hour and there were others joining our zest in a awaiting a High Tide meal. I noticed the specials before Doug asking him if he wanted a lobster roll, or better yet the lobster “lunch” for $13.99. The lunch was a 1 1/4 pound steamed lobster, cole slaw like no other cole slaw you ever tasted and onion rings, done just right in fresh oil and lightly breaded. You have got to be kidding–a lobster dinner for $13.99? My husband can tear through a lobster and never get one squirt on himself. He does NOT wear a lobster bib. There’s nothing like watching someone enjoy a great meal. I settled on the cup of clam chowder, a BLT and cole slaw. Adam dug into a cajun salmon roll (very tasty, he said) and french fries, again done in that clean, fresh cooking oil. Adam and I treated ourselves to dessert. Adam enjoyed a cookie dough ice cream cone; me, a cup of chocolate-peanut butter yogurt. Unbelievable. High Tide ice cream cone on the porch

High Tide ice cream cone on the porch

Now after that nice dinner back in Massachusetts, my son’s days of camp crud is being washed away in the laundry and I sense we may be turning in early tonight. The respite will surely begin as we move toward the weekend and the journey back to New Hampshire for a week by the lake in Freedom.