Their plans for life on the lake didn't turn out as they had hoped, but the Blakes draw comfort from the beauty of the water and the gardens at their Lorain home.
Lottie Blake opens the door off the kitchen of her 1920 bungalow to an expansive view of the lake. "This is why we bought the house," she says, stepping onto the deck, which is edged by pots of geraniums, sago palms and coleus. When she and her husband, Richard, moved in four years ago, they built the deck and refinished the gazebo, where Lottie likes to read or share a drink with guests. The couple had planned to winter in Florida and spend the rest of the year here, but shortly after they moved in, Richard's Parkinson's disease worsened. Lottie spends her days caring for him and, when she can, tending her flowers. She pauses by the roses in the front of her house. "This keeps me going," she says. "It's therapy."
Favorite flower: Calla lilies used to be, but they don't grow well in Ohio. "I tried so many times," Lottie says. Now, she plants roses instead.
The challenge: After buying the house, Lottie gave her daughters and some of her friends $500 each and a room to decorate. "We put the house and everything together in a month," she says. "And we had so much fun doing it." Each room has a plaque dedicated to the person who decorated it.
What a great granddaughter! When they moved in, the porch was covered in carpet. Richard and Lottie's then-23-year-old granddaughter, Chelsea, stripped it off, rented a sander, refinished the floor and painted it — all by herself. "She had never done anything like that before," Lottie says.
Plumbing too? Chelsea and her cousin Tamara added a small bath in the basement for Richard. They decorated it with old fishing poles and pictures and named it Horwood Lake after their grandfather's favorite fishing spot in Canada.
On the neighborhood: "This quaint street is revitalizing," Lottie says. This spring, she and her neighbors replaced the stone down by the water with grass and a spot for picnic tables. "The grass is coming up beautifully," she says.
The lake's effect: "When we bought this place, we thought that my husband could just walk down to the lake and fish," Lottie says, breaking down, then pausing to regain her composure. "He can't fish anymore, but he can look out at the water and the boats and the other fishermen, and it makes him happy."