“When I’m old and gray, I want to have a house by the sea. And paint. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in.” ~ Ava Gardner

Let's set the record straight right from the get-go. I don't consider myself old and gray nor do I have a house by the sea. However, for a few days this week, I could live the illusion if I wanted, that the sea was just out the back door. A friend invited me to her cottage by a quiet lake only one hour away from home.

Did we have music? Check. Booze… wine counts as booze doesn't it? And lots of chatting? Oh, yes! I would add mouth-watering dips, cheeses, stick to your ribs soup, and finger foods to the list of essentials needed for a wonderful time and we had all that as well.

Our days were of the lazy kind...taking long, leisurely walks up and down the road with the dogs, listening for the haunting call of the loon, going out in the dark, eerie night to see the full lunar eclipse, reading, and watching movies when rain forced us inside, and drinking more wine.

So I thought I would share some of the delights of this retreat with you.

As you can see, the owners have thought of the minute details that make their country home worthy of being featured in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

The logs and all the wood are from the area. The gleaming kitchen has been lovingly updated with granite counters and new handmade cupboards.

But it is the carved door that immediately caught my eye when I entered the home. It is located in the middle of the great room and is a visual point of interest from the entryway. It makes a statement: the warmth of the wood, the sinuous lines of the carvings, the polished finish all tell the story of the loving care that has made my friend's beautiful house into a home.

This charming country retreat invites guests to stop and smell the coffee. Even Cody, my friend's Sheltie, relaxed and enjoyed sitting in the afternoon sun.

The hand-hewn railings in front of the log house and all along the deck at the back were made by local carpenters and craftsmen to meet the owners' intention of having their house blend in with its surroundings.

The owners have meticulously planned all the details outdoors with native flowers planted around the house and by the shore, pots of herbs only a few steps from the kitchen, easy access from the front of the house to the shore, and trees planted for special occasions labelled by plaques. The natural shoreline has been preserved with rocks trucked in from a local quarry.

As it was too cold to sit outdoors and draw or paint, I used my photos to create this version of the wildflowers by the shore.

Cody is so photogenic that I took many shots of him. We didn't know it at the time, but he must have found some delicacy in the nearby woods which became obvious by his odd behaviour the night before we were to return to the city. If you are a pet owner, you know how worrisome this can be. Sure enough, the morning of our departure, he was sick by the beach, and had to be brought to the vet later in the day.

Isn't he adorable? He has a sweet disposition too!

I found myself reaching for my iPad time and time again. I took videos of the loons on the lake, and of the geese flying south in the grey fall sky. I took close-ups and panoramic shots. Thankfully, my friend indulged my hobby as she herself loves to take pictures. She even caught me in the moment and I am posting the best of the two shots she took of me.

The other photo is not for your eyes as I would be the laughingstock of the Internet for sure!

A few days after I returned home, I used my coloured pencils to paint the 1966 pick-up truck that was parked in the front yard at the lake. I had never drawn a truck or car but this vintage Chevy, in excellent condition, had me reminiscing. I seem to recall that Dad had a similar truck when I was young. I will ask him about it next time I see him. Was that the reason I felt compelled to draw this beauty? Maybe.

I took many photos which then became inspiration for my art.

"Reaching out"

This is my favourite art from the cottage. I love the colours and I am thinking of having it reprinted to a large canvas to display in my home.

Other art might be suitable for cards.

My friend is encouraging me to post my work on redbubble and shopify. I am still thinking about it.

In other photos, I was fascinated with patterns and I don't yet know how I will use them if at all, but I am posting them just so you can see the subject of interest and the texture.

Between walks outdoors and taking photographs, I found the time to finish this shrug which has been sitting in my cupboard at home for close to two years. I not only have lots of material for my art, but I also have a Christmas gift ready two and a half months ahead of time. Woooo hoooo!

With a touch of sadness, I left the quiet comfort of the cottage to return home. At heart, I am a city girl. I love all that Ottawa has to offer, a beautiful place at any time of the year. However, a little vacation by the sea or by a lake is a wonderful opportunity to drink wine, chat with a friend, and take long walks. It is also needed to feed my artistic soul. What feeds your soul?

2 Responses

    • This was in the province of Quebec, just an hour north of here in the Gatineau hills. Remember we visited Gatineau Park during one of your visits so we were in the general area at that time.

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