Posted by Lorraine Bartlett

In the summer, I lead a double life. From Monday through Thursday, I live in the biggest suburb of Rochester, NY. We have a nice house, a money pit (that's an in-ground pool, which by the way, we almost never use because we don't swim--it was here when we bought the place), and four "snug kittens" (for those who used to read Country Almanac and Jo Leonsky's "Country Musings" column, you'll get that reference).

Deck But Friday through Sundays we live at our "summer home." This is the cottage my parents bought in rural Wayne Country. It's peaceful. We have terrific neighbors (much friendlier than here in "the city"); I'm having a wonderful time redecorating on a dime, and this year we have the added treat of municipal water. Not only can we drink the water right out of the tap, we no longer have to fear power outages and being unable to flush the toilet. (Believe me, that's a BIG DEAL for someone who drinks as much tea as I do.) The only drawback (besides the ridiculously high taxes): being on the water, we have a lot of spider webs (and big, juicy spiders--ick poo!).

We look forward to Saturdays because that's when we hit the garage sale trail. Thank goodness my husband is a cartographer, because I never know where the heck we are. I don't remember the roads, but I remember the houses and what I bought and how long ago it was. (And lots of these people have a yearly sale.) I buy for my booth at the Craft Antique Co-Op, and a lot of stuff I buy for me. (Can you ever have enough vintage Tupperware at 25 cents a piece?)

There are lots of events we look forward to: The Wolcott Strawberry Festival in June (except I can't stand strawberries (one of the few humans on Earth who hates them, according to my hubby--I eat the salt potatoes and fried bread); the Red Creek Community Garage Sale (where the local church has the best stuff and the cheapest baked goods--and we almost always buy a hot dog, too!); The Ring Of Fire (sans Johnny Cash signing) on 4th of July; Friday night fish fries from Bob's Big M in Wolcott; hitting Coleman's Irish Pub in Syracuse (or Oswego) for a Guiness and a shepherd's pie lunch; and we visit the world's best Mennonite grocery Store (Sauders), located in Waterloo, where you can buy the most wonderful things (all kinds of candy, the best smoked pork chops, oatmeal, trail mix, nuts, Pennsylvania pretzels) for dirt cheap. (They also carry my hubby's maps!)

Yet with all these wonderful delights, my favorite part of cottage living is having the freedom to just sit on my butt and READ for hours and hours on end. I collect books from October through April (usually when I do most of my writing) and take my HUGE To Be Read pile to the cottage for a summer of pure delight. I'm not just talking mysteries, but travel books, cookbooks, women's fiction, romantic suspense and even a few decorating books. I average reading two books of fiction and several English decorating magazines a weekend. I so look forward to parking my butt on an Adirondack chair, drinkee-poo in hand, and losing myself in the pages of a good book. Since this past weekend was week one of the cottage season, I did more cleaning than reading (only three chapters), but next weekend I intend to make up for it.

Sodusbaypainting2 And I also find the fantastic view, the rustle of the wind in the trees (the windsocks and wind chimes) to be conducive to writing. I'm about ready to start the second book in my Booktown Mystery series (the first to be published next April), so next weekend I'll take my synopsis and a yellow tablet as well. Who knows...I might even get more writing than reading done.

(P.S. The above picture is actually a painting, done by my hubby, of the view from our deck, overlooking beautiful Sodus Bay.)

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