Real Estate Daydreaming: Powerball Edition

Last Wednesday, I’ll admit, my husband and I joined the legions of people who bought tickets for the billion dollar powerball drawing and indulged in some hardcore daydreaming. Mostly, we were thinking about how instantly having that kind of money would allow us to move the needle on preserving/protecting/restoring the Great Lakes watershed and other charitable ventures. But we also found time for some real estate daydreaming. It was great fun falling down the rabbit hole that is http://www.lakehouse.com. We narrowed it down to 2 favorites.

First up? Look at this lovely slice of Lake Michigan coastal living: (the following pictures are from the listings and are not my own)

http://www.lakehouse.com/page-422599.html

Located on 19 acres, this mid-century gem caught our eyes. The listing touts the investment/development potential, saying one could parcel the property out for 4 additional houses. Forget that! I’d want to leave the property/land/coast as untouched as possible. It’s along both the coast of Lake Michigan and a river that feeds into the lake. Look at these views:

Yes, please!

Door number 2? A total wild card pick in Wyoming:

http://www.lakehouse.com/page-427123.html

This 55 acre spread backs up to a river and is bordered on 2 sides by the Shoshone National Forest. Heart stopping.

Right??? That’s a lot of “wow”.

Fun stuff. Where would you live if money was no object?

 

 

 

Moments of Grace

308Kind of a goofy story: I happened to spot this Cyripedium pubescens or Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid while I was having a bad moment during our trip to the Smoky Mountains this spring. The sight of it changed my day for the better.

As we were driving out to bike at Cades Cove, I suddenly had to GO. Funny thing about being in the mountains: there were no restrooms anywhere nearby or even any good stopping points. Too bad. I made my husband pull over and I just bounded out of the car before it had even come fully to a halt and bolted off into the woods like a startled and slightly frantic deer. (Which basically sounds like the setup to a not-so-creative horror movie and is not a course of action I would generally recommend! It’s easier than you might think to get turned around or lost in the woods when you aren’t on a trail.) I was  feeling frantic, embarrassed, and worried that I was ruining our planned schedule for the day,

At any rate, seeing this flower stopped me momentarily in my tracks and changed my whole mood/mindset. I noted where it was, bounded much deeper into the woods to take care of business, made it back to the car, we did the bike ride, it was great, and then afterwards, I somehow navigated us back to this flower so my husband could see it and we could take some pictures.

You see, this variety of lady’s slipper is fairly rare. I’ve been to the Smoky Mountains about a dozen times, have hiked miles and miles of trails, and this was the first time I’ve ever seen one. They are fussy about the elevation they grow at, they need exactly the right amount of moisture (not much), and they like acidic soil. They aren’t found in gardens because they don’t like to be disturbed and they are nearly impossible to propagate. They also don’t tend to grow in big masses or clumps, aren’t very large,  and have a fairly short bloom time.

273Seeing one so unexpectedly was a quiet moment of grace. I can be prone to running around in the hamster wheel of my mind. The sight of this pulled me out of my head and put me right back into the moment. It made me stop and appreciate the simple wonder of a flower blooming in the forest. I felt very fortunate to have the life that I do, and realized how lucky I was to be there at that moment.

271May your upcoming year be filled with such moments. Remember to slow down enough to take them in when they come to you!

Cades Cove

Bucket lists. Creepy and unattainable, or optimistic reminder to live life to its fullest? I don’t personally have a formal one, but I certainly have ideas about things I’d like to do. This spring, I did one:SmokyMts2014 001My husband and I biked the loop at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park! During the spring and summer, the park shuts down the 11 mile auto loop that winds through the cove to all motorized traffic twice a week for about 3 hours in the mornings. For those precious hours, only pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed. We got up very early, rented bikes, and biked it on the first day it was closed to cars during the 2014 season. It was awesome.

SmokyMts2014 101With views like this, it’s easy to see why the auto loop is very popular. During high season, the one-way road through the cove often resembles a parking lot with cars inching along it, lined up bumper-to-bumper. Which sounds miserable, but even with all of that, I’ve always managed to see a stunning variety of wildlife the times I’ve been viewing the cove from a car. There are old homes, churches, and barns from back when folks lived in the cove that can be toured, and there are plenty of places to park so you can access the several trail heads found along the loop at various points.

But from a bike? What a difference! It was so peaceful and beautiful. We saw several black bears, lots of deer, wild turkeys, and heard so many song birds. It was just magical, biking along as the fog that gives the mountains their name began to clear.

SmokyMts2014 104 SmokyMts2014 123And look at all of these empty parking spaces!SmokyMts2014 112I’m ready to do it again. 🙂

SmokyMts2014 128

Hocking County Cabin

cabinza!2014 065Along with 8 friends, spent the weekend relaxing and celebrating a dear friend’s birthday at this lovely cabin in the hills of Hocking County. It was situated in on 11 acres and had pretty views all around.

cabinza!2014 057 cabinza!2014 032cabinza!2014 043Although there are some great hiking trails and state parks in the area, we contented ourselves with short rambles around the property. It was pretty darn cold, albeit sunny. It was a weekend of eating, loafing, and laughing.

cabinza!2014 069 cabinza!2014 075We made VERY good use of the hot tub, fireplace, and the fire pit. Made lots of s’mores over the fire. Between those and the bunk bed I slept in, I kind of felt like a kid again (in the best way possible.)cabinza!2014 031 cabinza!2014 089Good times with good people. I feel very lucky. 🙂

 

Get Out There

I’ve thought about the common thread that ties together the many very different people in my life whom I admire, and this seems to be it: they get out there and try new things. They are engaged. They geek out over what they love and do those things balls-out. I’m prone to being in my own head too much, but I’m trying to be better about getting out there and doing things that scare me. In the spring, my husband and I tried one such thing: we went zip lining.

009It was fun, I felt like a kid on the playground again. Recently I attempted something in another realm of my life, and it didn’t work out the way I hoped it would. But I’m glad I took the risk, and need to remember to get on out there more.

Malabar Farm

Malabar 088Malabar 092 About 80 miles northeast of Columbus in Lucas County lies the exotically named Malabar Farm. This 1000 acre farm was the home of writer Louis Bromfield. In his time, Bromfield was a Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author and screenplay writer. He was also an early environmentalist who advocated sustainable farming practices.  Additionally, he was world-traveler (the farm is named after the coast of India) and a bit of a gadfly who hosted loads of celebrity friends at the farm. Apparently he made his guest work when they visited, and James Cagney liked to run the produce stand (produce stand sign is the first picture) when he was at the farm. Most famously, Bromfield and Malabar hosted Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s 1945 wedding. Because why wouldn’t Hollywood royalty want to get married on a gorgeous Ohio farm? 🙂

A friend’s master’s practicum involved archiving and cataloging 9 boxes of photos from Bromfield’s estate for OSU. For that friend’s birthday a few weeks ago, we went on a trip with him to tour the farm.

Malabar 084 Malabar 054We toured the “Big House” and it was interesting. The tour was pretty chill and I felt like the access guests were given was unusual -we could pretty much poke around most of the house as we worked our way through with our knowledgeable guide. Built by Bromfield in the late 1930’s, the 32 room house is large but relatively casual. It was clearly intended to both be the main residence on a working farm and to host scores of guests.

The main entrance was the fanciest bit, here’s one of the double staircases in it:

Malabar 034Otherwise, it looked like a fairly modest, lived-in, well-loved place. Malabar 047

I especially enjoyed seeing Bromfield’s office. The giant semi-circular desk was pretty sweet:

Malabar 044Apparently, Bromfield’s neighbors weren’t quite sure what to think of the fact that the home was built with a bunch of bathrooms rather than having an outhouse! Here’s one of them, hard to imagine something so mundane was a sensation to the area farmers at the time.Malabar 045

Bromfield was well know for his love of his dogs, boxers. They were even featured in a liquor ad, the art for which was hanging in the office:Malabar 043

Other notable art found in the house included 2 Grandma Moses pieces. Also? His eldest daughter painted this:

Malabar 046After the house, we toured the barns and took a tractor-pulled tour of the farm, all of which was lovely. Malabar 052

Malabar 055Malabar 074Malabar 072Malabar 056The Lucas County Ohio Bicentennial Barn was located on the property:

Malabar 060Malabar 095Malabar 096

This pretty much says it all:

Malabar 050An absolutely lovely day-trip!

Berry Lovely

Although our trees haven’t changed as vibrantly this fall as they have other years, their more muted show has allowed me to appreciate all of the color provided by berries, crab apples, and rosehips. While hiking out at Dawes, I loved seeing the hazy splashes of color in the distance coming from things like crabapples, winterberries, and serviceberries:035and look at the berries on this Sparkleberry winterberry shrub in their collection:

053While we were there, we browsed the selection of plants for sale at the visitor’s center. We found a white-berried version of a shrub already in our garden at home, the Japanese beautyberry, so we had to add that to our collection. Here’s a peek at the berries and such coloring our garden at the moment:

2013-10-24

clockwise from top: Japanese beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica), Golden raindrops crabapple (Malus transitoria ‘Schmidtcutleaf’), white Japanese beautyberry (Callicarpa japonica ‘Leucocarpa’), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), Sugar tyme crabapples (Malus ‘Sugar Tyme’), and center, hips on our Scotch rose bush (Rosa spinosissima).