Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Sat
31
Dec '11

Western North Carolina Report – Our Yearly Christmas Letter

 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

March 8, 2011 was a very good day. That afternoon, with the aroma of fresh landscape bark and drying paint wafting through the air, the moving vans arrived at our newly completed home and after a long, arduous, twenty-six months, our relocation from Seattle was complete. Okay, okay, it wasn’t quite complete (more on that, below) but it was close enough to declare victory. We were officially moved in!

The whole construction process went very well. There were a few gotcha’s and a few coulda-shoulda-woulda’s and we ended up taking eleven months instead of the planned ten, but all-in-all everything turned out great. Valerie still calls it “Ron’s house” but she kinda likes her mega-sized pantry, great kitchen, and outdoor pizza oven. We both especially love the screened porch and spent nearly every summer evening out there reading, watching TV, and listening to the cicadas.

Camp Bell – We Hardly Knew Ya

Although March 8 was a milestone for moving into our new home, we did have the little matter of selling good ol’ Camp Bell, our temporary fixer-upper house on the other side of town. Although Camp Bell had good bones, it was vintage 1975 and was fairly rough around the edges. We spent a year-plus in remodel hell (there, I said it) painting, grouting, spackling, flooring, fixing, wiring, plumbing, landscaping, etc. Our goal was to make Camp Bell spotless and move-in-ready so it would stand out from the many other comparable houses for sale in the area.

Over the year we watched the real estate sales numbers decline and cringed at our prospects. The move didn’t kill us, the construction didn’t kill us, the remodel of Camp Bell didn’t kill us, but sitting on an unsold Camp Bell in a tanking market for who-knows-how-long might do us in.

Well…Camp Bell went on the market on Monday, April 11. There was a showing on Saturday, April 16. We had an offer on Sunday, April 17. And, we closed the deal on Tuesday, May 17, five weeks after Camp Bell went up for sale. With the right house in perfect condition in the right neighborhood at the right price being marketed by a super real estate agent it is possible to sell a house in today’s tough market!

Unfinished Business

We’re not sure what took longer, packing 369 boxes or unpacking them. Needless to say, you know what we’ve been doing since we moved in. The phrase “Hey, do you remember this thing!?” has been said too many times to count. As of last week there was still one unopened box under the living room bench seat. It has a label on it so we could look up what’s inside, but, as they say, if we haven’t needed it by now…

One thing that contributed to our long unpacking process was that we chose not to finish the workshop when we finished the house. Ron had planned to work on it, himself, but March became July became September and he finally (with Valerie’s prodding) decided to just let Steve, our builder, finish it. Wow! That was a great decision. Steve does awesome finish work and the shop came out way better than we expected! We’ve spent the last few weeks unpacking those boxes, putting away long lost tools, and getting ready to be crafty, again.

Our Local Fauna – Bear and Delinquents

Although our house is just one mile from downtown Asheville we live in the woods. Lots are large and homes are sparse and the further you go up Town Mountain towards the Blue Ridge Parkway the fewer people and the more wildlife you see. Turkey, fox, coyote, bobcat, and black bear are common sights. In the late summer and fall as the bear search for food they become a bit too common. We had bear within peach-throwing distance of our house or along Serena’s walk nearly every day. Ron had to shoo one away that was sitting in our front yard eating berries off a bush, and Serena, on two occasions, chased one down the street. They are skittish and will respond to yelling and hand waving but it is a bit unnerving to walk out the door or round a bend in the road and happen upon a 250lb bear sitting there staring at you.

While the bear come from the woods, our other local fauna, delinquents, comes from downtown. We live in the only house on a dead-end street about 500’ from the end. The dead-end was created in 1977 when Interstate 240 was cut through the mountain and split Vance Gap Road. Our neighbors tell us that since then our street has been a magnet for mischief-makers. Luckily, we only had one incident during construction when someone stole the American flag from our front porch.

Wait, what? Someone stole your flag? Yep. It was a she, last January, in the dark of night. She ripped it from the flagpole and ran back to her car. We caught the whole thing with our security cameras. Ron reported it to channel 13 and sent them the video. Next thing we know the news crew is out front and Ron is being interviewed on TV to tell the sordid tale. They ran the story, “Our Top Story, Tonight”, for several days. The thief was never caught, but hopefully, with her picture splattered all over the TV, she and her family were thoroughly embarrassed.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Our neighborhood is not all bear and delinquents. The people who live here are fantastic and are a good match for us. Everyone’s laid back, friendly and inviting. Being on a quiet street, we have dog walkers going by the house throughout the day – Serena likes that. Wayne and Sally hold fantastic, over-the-top, dinner parties. We held a tamalada (a tamale making party) and have had neighbors over for ribs and pizza. Ron’s found a couple BBQ buddies and Valerie will be looking at starting a Town Mountain Book Club.

A Walk in the Woods

With our relocation fun behind us and our hiking boots unpacked we were able to get out and explore the area this summer. Every Friday the Blue Ridge Parkway rangers hold guided hikes on trails along the parkway and we made it out for at least a half dozen. The rangers talk about the history of the area, the geology of the region, and the plants and animals we might see. This was a great way for us to learn about the mountains of North Carolina and to get some exercise as well. We also went hiking several times on our own. One of our favorite hikes was on the Laurel River Trail, and old abandoned railroad bed, near the North Carolina/Tennessee line. On that hike we got to check something unique off our bucket list: “Saw a live rattlesnake in the wild!”

Other fun things we did…Asheville Tourist Baseball, Brewgrass Beer Festival, Texas Instruments/Siemens reunion, Ribfest, Asheville Food and Wine Festival, Western North Carolina Chef’s Challenge, Biltmore House, Grove Park Inn Gingerbread Festival, Belle Chere Summer Festival, Southern Highlands Craft Guild Show, Big Crafty, numerous plays and shows at the Diane Wortham Theatre, and last but not least…Discount Shoes! Hey, even Ron has been seen shopping there!

Miles and Smiles

It had been a long long time since we had been on a vacation so we made it a point to get away this year. Our first trip was to visit Cara and Mike in Phoenix. We had a great time doing the educational-tourist thing visiting Meteor Crater and the Titan Missile Museum (two must see sights). We got our vortex spiritual fulfillment walking around Sedona and, Cara and Mike, being fellow foodies, took us to several great restaurants for hot and spicy Southwest food.

In November we returned to St. John, USVI, for ten days. It was our fourth visit! We love the place for the views, beaches, snorkeling, food, and relaxation. It’s so much easier to get to now that we’re on the east coast. We rented One Particular Harbour, a house that we stayed at in 2004, high on the hill overlooking Coral Bay. On this visit we found a couple new bays to snorkel (glad we had a Jeep) and we sampled true local food at two hole-in-the-wall restaurants – Clean Plates (love that name) and Vie’s Snack Shack. We had a surprise, but very welcome, guest this time. Valerie’s sister, Pat, called the day we arrived and said she was coming, too. To quote Southwest Airlines: “Gotta Get Away!”

In June we attended a mini-reunion of a bunch of the people we worked with at TI and Siemens. My how we’ve grown up. We were just kids back then. It was great fun reminiscing old times and hearing what everyone has been doing for the last twenty years. The common theme seems to be that they’re all very ready to become empty-nesters.

Living closer to family we had lots of visitors this year: Mom and Dad Patton (twice); Linda, Steve and Sarah; Pat and Jack; Cindy and Jeremy; Aunt Edith and Cousin Denny. We also made some family visits: Ron to San Antonio and Pittsburgh and Valerie to Indiana.

Next Year

What’s in store for next year? Hmmm…Making a trip to Seattle. Crafting in our new shop. Celebrating Ron’s big Five-Oh birthday. Volunteering. Taking classes at Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Chasing Bear. Europe? Ron might even look at finding a paying gig…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Ron and Valerie

Fri
20
May '11

I Won’t be Needing this Anymore

We moved nearly everything out of Camp Bell in preparation of today’s 5:00pm closing. We did leave behind a few little things: a half bucket of moisture-proofing concrete paint, a couple ratty window blinds, an empty beer keg, and an old ironing board. We also left a “Side Swiper II” hanging on the wall. A Side Swiper II (no doubt an improved version of a Side Swiper I) is a tool that I purchased specifically for Camp Bell, a tool that I used to make several repairs, and a tool that I don’t plan to ever use again. Stumped? Never heard of it? A Side Swiper II is a vinyl siding removal tool. It’s specially shaped to reach up underneath vinyl siding and pop loose one piece from another. You can then slide it along the length of the siding and separate the pieces so you can remove them for replacement. I won’t be needing it any more, but the new owners will. So long Camp Bell and my Side Slider II.

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Tue
17
May '11

We’re In!

Yesterday the movers spent three hours moving the last bit of furniture from Camp Bell. The most important pieces were the dining room table and the buffet. Our new dining room that Valerie feared was way too big – several Parade of Homes visitors thought it was the living room – is not. Our 5′ square table, 10′ square rug, and the buffet fill it up perfectly…and it all looks pretty good, too. Let’s eat!

Today we signed our half of the selling paperwork and Friday the buyers sign theirs. The lawyer has the check in-hand from the buyer’s bank for the down payment. Later today we’ll move out a couple plants, vacuum, and grab a pickup load of apple wood sticks from Camp Bell’s tree (for the smoker and pizza oven). We’ll leave the keys and garage door remotes on the kitchen counter and lock the doors on Camp Bell for the last time. We’re out. We’re in!

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Sun
15
May '11

Moving Day – Part 2

Tomorrow is Moving Day – Part 2. At 8:30 the movers arrive at Camp Bell to load up the rest of our furniture that we left behind for staging. There’s not much left, but the biggie, both figuratively and literally, is our dining room table, chairs, and buffet table. When that gets set up in our new dining room we will be officially moved into our new home. 

Unfortunately, since we did downsize from our McMansion in Woodinville, we have extra furniture. Our two big beautiful, essentially new, living room chairs have no place to go, nor does our huge umbrella plant. We’ve decided to donate them to Pet Harmony. They’ve recently remodeled and updated their store and could use them in the entrance reception area. We hate to get rid of them but we just don’t have the room. We’re also donating our mirrored dresser to Goodwill so the movers will be making multiple unloading stops on their way to our new house. After we get settled and determine exactly what we have and where it will go I think the plan is to sell a few more pieces of furniture and buy a large, comfortable, sectional sofa (with recliners) for the living room.

On Tuesday morning at 10:00 we sign the closing paperwork to sell Camp Bell. We’ll also turn over the garage remotes and keys to the lawyer. The new owners sign on Friday and at 5:00pm that day when the proceeds from the sale are wired into our account we will be – at long last – DONE relocating.

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Fri
22
Apr '11

Just this one little thing…

The buyers of Camp Bell had their home inspection performed today. The inspector climbed all over the house for several hours looking for problems. The inspection report we received when we bought Camp Bell was about 60 pages long, much of it a long list of issues ranging from chipped porcelain in the bathtubs to dangling outlets to “the front deck is totally rotted through and unsafe” to damaged vinyl siding to a cracked chimney.

Shelle called this afternoon. The written report won’t be done until Monday but the buyers told their agent to relay to us that the inspection revealed something that needed to be fixed. Something. One thing. Wait…just ONE thing?! I took a deep breath. What could it be? How bad could it be? How much would it cost? 

Well, we had a portable dehumidifier in the basement. I didn’t want to dump the tank all the time so I connected its drain to a garden hose. Luckily there was a rough-in pipe coming through the concrete floor for a future toilet.  There was a cap on it and I had drilled a hole just big enough for the end of the garden hose to fit through. When I removed the dehumidifier from the basement I pulled the garden hose out and didn’t plug the hole. The ONLY thing that the inspector could find wrong in the entire 36-year-old house, the only thing that the buyers want repaired, is this quarter-sized hole—and it wasn’t even there when we bought the house, I put it there. It’s a legitimate concern as methane gas could leak out into the basement and I give him credit for being thorough and having a good eye. We’ll be into Camp Bell another $5 and 15 minutes of my time to buy and install a rubber cap…but then she’ll be perfect!

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Mon
18
Apr '11

Deal

This afternoon, just a few minutes shy of Camp Bell being on the market for one week, we signed around an offer with prospective buyers. I can’t elaborate online because the buyers are computer savvy and could find and read this blog, but I can say that we feel pretty good about the deal. We think it’s fair. Did we get back every $ we put into Camp Bell? No. Did our improvements (and even the original choice in the house) make it so we could get an offer within just one week when hundreds of other Asheville houses are languishing? Did our crazy good agent, acting on a hot-tip, set the wheels in motion on this deal weeks ago? You betcha’. You make your own luck in this world. Now we need to wait six weeks for closing (their loan approval, home inspection, appraisal, etc). By June 1 we could, finally and happily, be out of the land baron business!

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Mon
11
Apr '11

Beautiful Camp Bell

After over a year of blood, sweat, and tears (really, there were all three) rehabbing Camp Bell, we put her on the market today. We treated ourselves by paying professionals to give her a good thorough spring cleaning. We just didn’t have it in us to go back and do it. Now the carpets are clean, the windows sparkle, everything is bright and fresh, and there’s not a thing in need of repair. After seeing the real estate pictures this morning I think she cleaned up pretty well. It’s not the same house we bought two years ago. It’s a truly remarkable transformation. Hopefully a young family looking for a nice little house in a great neighborhood will appreciate what we’ve done and make it their home.

Here’s the link to the realtor’s website…

And, the video tour (complete with jazz nightclub piano music)…

 

 

P.S. It better sell quickly…not only because we need the money, but because we want our dining room table and buffet!

P.S.S. We see much more sun and blue sky in Asheville than we did in Seattle and although it was a sunny day when the pictures were taken, the sky wasn’t as pretty as it is in the first picture, above. That would be called Photoshopping…

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Sat
1
Jan '11

Happy New Year and Ta Dah!

There’s an old saying about what you’re doing on New Year’s Eve (or New Years Day) is what you’ll be doing the rest of the year. Gawd I hope not. Last night at 9:30 I was re-installing the toilet in Camp Bell’s master bath and at 11:30 Valerie was painting the baseboard in the kitchen. We were on a mission to “finish” the last major work on Camp Bell by the stroke of midnight. We did! Yeah! Bow and wave to the crowd. It’s a huge accomplishment and we have truly transformed (“lovingly updated” in realtor-eze) Camp Bell in the last 12 months. The word “finish” is in quotes because although we can claim that the major projects are done there are still several little things left to do…putting a fresh coat of paint on the front and back door, installing new cabinet knobs in the kitchen, properly venting a pipe in the attic, and setting some popped nails on the deck, etc…but the big projects are history. After we move out and before we put Camp Bell up for sale we’re going to have all the windows and the carpets professionally cleaned, give the kitchen cabinets a good scrubbing, and then ride off into the sunset (okay, actually to the north) to our new home. Happy New Year! Anyone want to buy a “lovingly restored home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Asheville’s highly desirable Ballantree subdivision”?

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Sun
31
Oct '10

I Cannot Tell a Lie, Father…

It’s been a busy week for us at Camp Bell. We finally cut down the cherry tree in the front yard. It was pretty beat up, having lost a couple large branches in a storm last fall and having several other dead branches about to come down.  We felt bad, but it had to go before we put Camp Bell up for sale next spring. I started the task with my 16″ chain saw but it got lost in the tree’s 24″ trunk so I rented a 20″-er that, with a little work, took it down. Later in the week I had a guy come by with a stump grinder to remove the last remnants. Valerie bought a new weeping cherry tree (50% off at BB Barns) and we planted it in the same spot. It’ll take a few years, but eventually it will grow and fill in the yard, nicely. The old tree didn’t die in vain, though, as we saved most of the branches for burning in my BBQ smoker and Valerie’s pizza oven.

Valerie’s been working on her pizza oven at least once a week and she’s currently painting (more like total rehabbing) the five windows in the kitchen. She took a break from working on the master bath because with winter coming, the windows rose higher on the priority list. After painting, they need to be left partially open for a few weeks to dry (so they won’t stick). Camp Bell is drafty enough, without open windows, so this way we’ll be sealed up again by December.

I just finished repainting the garage doors and the iron railing on the stairs. I also replaced the severely weather-worn lights on the front balcony and at the front door. On the back of one of them someone scrawled the date that it was installed…11/1974. The music hits of that year…Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas), Seasons in the Sun (Terry Jacks)Waterloo (ABBA), and The Joker (Steve Miller Band). It was time for new lights.

Next up, weather permitting, is to scrub the front of the house. Our white vinyl siding is quite gray with dirt. Gotta make it Spic-n-Span. Valerie will switch back to the master bath. The final job (if there ever is one) is the kitchen — painting the walls and trim, putting down a new vinyl floor, and scrubbing the cabinets. I can see the FOR SALE sign in the front yard!

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Thu
5
Aug '10

Meanwhile, Back at Camp Bell…

I’d like to say that while our new home is being built that we’re sitting around, enjoying lots of free time, and leafing through magazines picking out paint colors and faucets. Sadly, we’re not. Good ol’ Camp Bell is a fixer upper (we knew that) and we’re heavy into manual labor to get it ready to sell after we move out.

Valerie is working through the windows and doors, one by one. They’re in sorry shape—after 35 years, the polyurethane (or probably varnish) has deteriorated and the wood is water stained and ugly. She’s meticulously sanding and wire brushing all the sashes, sills, jambs, mullions, aprons, stools, and who knows what other window parts. She then primes the wood with Zinsser BIN Primer, a shellac and alcohol based paint that is the ONLY thing she’s found that covers the wood, and then applies a couple coats of white enamel paint. Add a few hours to carefully scrape off the paint from around each of the panes (or is it pains?) and re-hang new blinds and it’s a three-day job to “fix” a pair of windows. But, when she’s done, WOW, do they look nice. It’s a huge improvement and will definitely help sell the house. The last few days she’s needed a break from the monotony of doing-yet-another-window and has rehabbed the back door and is now working on the front door.

I’ve been working in the basement and garage. Camp Bell is a two-story house but the main living area is on the second floor. When you pull into the garage (under the living room and kitchen) you enter the house through an unfinished basement. You walk down a long dark hallway, turn, open a door, and go up stairs to the family room. Until recently, that basement hallway had a single light bulb and a single light switch on one end, the sheetrock was in terible condition (the basement had been flooded at some point), there was zero insulation in the walls, the floor was bare concrete, the door at the bottom of the stairs opened into the hall and would shear off the light bulb unless it was a mini, and on and on and on. Oh, and you had to have the exterior light turned on for the garage door openers to operate. A potential buyer would walk in there and instantly have a negative impression. My job is to fix it. I just gutted all the moldy sheetrock, cleaned up the electrical, and hung 12 sheets of new sheetrock. I’m also framing up a space for a potential/future bathroom/laundry. I am going to pay someone to tape/mud/finish the sheetrock. Ron don’t do that.

Also going on…the stucco is peeling off our chimney and I’ve hired a stucco guy to refinish it. I’m also getting someone to come out and rebuild the top of the chimney which is totally deteriorated and is the reason that water is seeping in and causing the stucco to come off.

Other stuff to do…scrub the vinyl siding (it’s supposed to be white but is more like a light gray from dirt), paint the garage doors and railings, paint under the front balcony, cut down a dieing cherry three in the front yard, plant a few shrubs, completely redo the master bath, paint the kitchen and give it a new vinyl floor, and probably a few more things I forgot. End of October is a good goal. I’m gonna go cry now with Valerie.

Fri
30
Jul '10

Valerie’s Maters

Valerie has a little garden here at Camp Bell and we’re celebrating something that we haven’t been able to appreciate in many many years — homegrown tomatoes! If you’re checking in from the Pacific Northwest, those are the red things in the pictures, below. Mmmm Mmmm Good!

  

Tue
18
May '10

Serenadipity

Valerie wasn’t due back from Indiana until this evening so Serena and I still had several hours to fit in a few ”Boy and His Dog” things. Over the last couple days I’ve been replacing the interior doors at Camp Bell. The old doors are flat, hollow core, luan/mahogany that at some point in their 35 year life were painted (poorly) a dull white(ish) color. They were cracked, warped, and several had roughly patched holes. None of them closed properly. They looked terrible and were really bad for Camp Bell resale. The new ones are just cheapie $25 models from Home Depot, but at least they’re modern 6-panel style and are flat and straight. Once professionally painted, by Valerie, they’ll look great. Unfortunately, I discovered that just like the old doors, the existing door frames weren’t straight either. What I had originally planned to be a one-day task of routing out the hinge recesses and hanging the new doors turned into 2+ days of cutting and sanding each new door to fit into a crooked frame. Oh, and I was doing this on the back deck and it intermittently rained all weekend. But, the job is finally done and today I needed to dispose of the old doors.

My first stop was the Habitat for Humanity store. I thought I had scored when Worker #1 came over and said “Sure, we’ll take them” and we started to unload. Just then Worker #2 ran over and said, “We don’t want those. They’re hollow core and flat” — which is exactly why I didn’t want them, but I guess even Habitat has standards. Worker #2 couldn’t offer any advice on who might take them, so…off we went to the Buncombe County Landfill.

Our landfill is out in the sticks at the very western edge of the county. It’s about 12 miles off the interstate on a curvy country road. The only traffic heading west was loaded pickup trucks and garbage trucks and the only traffic heading east was empties. I can now tell you where not to live in Buncombe County. As I pulled in I realized that in my nearly 48 years I don’t think I’ve ever been to a landfill. I’ve been to transfer stations, many times, but never to a real, live, stinky, smelly, open pit, seagulls (or whatever) circling overhead, Trashmaster packing it down, landfill. Serena sure knew where we were going. Maybe she lived in a landfill when she was a puppy. She caught wind of it at least 10 minutes before we arrived and spent the entire visit with her nose out the window taking in the “aroma.” It was a little much for me so I did a quick dump and run but did take time to snap a few pictures—to prove I was there and didn’t just throw the doors over a hill somewhere.

  

On the way back, I made a great accidental discovery. Serena LOVES to swim and used to spend nearly every morning with Valerie at the Marymoor Park Off Leash Dog Park in Redmond. She’d take running leaps off the high bank and bellyflop into the Sammamish River to fetch sticks and toys. I actually felt bad when we moved because I knew there was no other dog park like it in the US (really, there’s not). Well, about a mile from the landfill is a Buncombe County Park right on the French Broad River. We’re not talking much. It’s basically a 100′ swath of land between the main road and the river, bisected with a dirt road for access. There are individual picnic sites for several hundred yards. But, there were a few people; with dogs; off leash; playing in the river! Yes, the sign does say that dogs are supposed to be on leash, but every dog I saw was running free so…in Serena went. She had a blast. We were only there for about 30 minutes but she’s not swum in a long time and the current was a little swifter than at Marymoor. She wore herself out and slept, with a smile on her face, all the way home. Serendipity? More like Serenadipity.

  

Sun
9
May '10

So, What Else is Going On?

Here’s a rambling list of what else has been going on while we wait for our foundation to be completed.

We finished up the guest bathroom a week or so ago. We didn’t gut it down to the studs, but in retrospect, maybe we should have – it might have been easier. Valerie removed all the loose floor tile then scraped the deteriorated grout and caulk from between all the tiles surrounding the tub and regrouted it. She rebuilt the disintegrated sheetrock around the edges of the tub, removed the painted over wallpaper (two layers of paint over two layers of paper, I think), then skim coated, sanded and painted the walls. I put down a new oak-look vinyl floor, reset the toilet that I had removed, earlier, replaced the light fixture, mirror and accessories, hung a new 6-panel door and installed baseboard. Valerie painted the door and trim, put a semi-permanent matt in the tub to cover the rusty worn-through spots, and ta-da, we have a cute, usable, guest bath.

Valerie’s been working on a little garden. She took a few of the un-rotted joists from the balcony I dismantled and made a raised bed out of them. She has heirloom tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, garlic, snap peas, mizuna and more. She started most of the plants from seeds several weeks ago and this past week transplanted them to the bed. Mother’s Day is the safe planting date in Western North Carolina so fingers crossed, they should be good.

I started cleaning and repairing Camp Bell’s vinyl siding. Under all the dirt and grime we do have a white house, but in some places, it’s hard to tell. I bought an RV cleaning pole, the kind with a brush on one end and a hose attachment on the other. I’ve completed the back and it came out pretty well. There were a couple tough spots that Valerie had to scrub with a concoction of borax, bleach, and Mrs. Meyer’s liquid soap, but most of the nasty film came off. I’ve also replaced several damaged sections of siding. I bought a handy-dandy $5 vinyl siding tool that gets under a panel’s lip and unlocks it from the panel above and below. With that, and a few 12′ pieces of siding from Lowes, it’s been trivial to make the repairs.

  

Last week I broke out the smoker for the first time since we moved! We haven’t yet found a source for big chunks of apple tree (my preferred wood to smoke with) but Valerie found small bags of apple wood chips at Earthfare. She made burgers from scratch with her meat grinder and seasoned several chicken breasts. I smoked them up with some miscellaneous vegatables. Mmm. Mmm. Good.

We went to the Asheville Herb Festival where Valerie picked up a couple plants for her garden. We also went to the Home and Garden Expo and through blind luck stumbled upon the perfect color for the cedar shake sections of our new house. We are planning to use pre-painted fiber cement siding and have been wrestling with what color to paint it. At the show we saw that Certainteed sells a vinyl shake that’s a dead ringer for a real cedar shake and their Rustic Blend color is exactly what we’ve been looking for. We got a sample piece from our lumber supplier and will be taking it to Carolina Colortones to see if they can match it…if not, we may be going with these vinyl shakes – don’t tell our developer.

The torsion spring on our garage door broke a few days ago. Replacing one is not a DIY kind of thing but that’s never stopped me. It’s not overly complicated, just dangerous if you’re not careful. If you don’t buy the correct spring, unplug the opener, clamp the door to the track, clamp the bar from turning, and wind the spring properly “you could be severely injured or killed” (to quote the bright red warning tag on the spring). I ordered the correct spring off the web, watched an installation video, and completed the job in about 45 minutes. No problemo. Fixed. And, I saved at least $100 in labor costs.

Now that the guest bath is done, Valerie’s moved on to painting the door jambs. They’ve seen better days, actually 35 years of dings, dents, and scratches. They’re requiring much more than just sanding and she’s spending a lot time patching and filling before priming and painting. It’ll be nice to start checking entire rooms off as DONE!

This coming Thursday, Valerie will be going to Indiana to visit her family and to see the Dalai Lama with her sister Pat. She’s been watching flights for good deals. If she can snag a last minute discount she’ll fly, if not, she’ll drive – probably to Indianapolis on Thursday and back to Asheville on Tuesday.

We’re looking forward to our vacation at the Outerbanks the first week of June with Pat, Mike, Abby and Jack. It’s nice that we can now drive there and take what we need and not have to fly for two days with just a bag or two. We probably won’t miss much of our house construction…they’ll probably still be working on the foundation!

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Thu
6
May '10

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

Our future neighbors at Vance Gap have been telling us about a mother bear and two cubs that live in the neighborhood. We figured that’s where we would eventually see “urban beer”…however, last night at 1:00am, here at Camp Bell, Serena woke us up barking like crazy. Now, Serena doesn’t bark like most dogs. Mailman, nothing. Passing kid, notta. Strange sound, ho hum. Other dog, yawn. Raccoon, woohoo, look out! Bear (a new word for her), yowza, defcon 1, sound the alarm!

Last night was garbage night. Need I say more. At 1:00am a mother bear, two cubs, and what looked like another, but older, cub were on the prowl. Serena caught a whiff of them and let us know about it. I got up to look out the window and, sure enough, there they were, working on our trash can out front. Valerie got up and we all watched them from the living room. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a picture because the only light was from the street light. I ventured out onto the balcony to get a better view. When I did, I spooked them and they ran—towards the house!—one climbing the large pine tree next to us! Needless to say, I jumped through the door and Serena let them know that bear entry into Camp Bell was not permitted.

We watched them for about 30 minutes. Luckily, for us, they only knocked over our can and carried away one bag about 50′. I guess our trash wasn’t too tasty. But, they must have scored big-time two houses down. They knocked that can over, spread the contents all over the street and driveway, and literally camped out and ate under a tree in the middle of that yard for at least 30 minutes. When they moved on down the street and out of view we went back to bed.

This morning I cleaned up our mess. The neighbors had already gotten to theirs. Serena ran around and sniffed everything. She was hackled and growling the whole time. She just learned a new word that I think will garner an even stronger reaction than “raccoon.” Bear!

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Wed
28
Apr '10

Ding Dong the Deck is Done

Although my balcony/deck project has been done for a couple weeks, we just recently got around to taking pictures. It wasn’t that big of a project but I did use some products I’ve not worked with before (Trex decking, Deckorator metal pickets) and had to learn how to do a few new things (remove and replace vinyl siding). The blister I got from driving 300 deck screws has long since healed and it’s nice to be able to walk out of our front sliding doors without fear of falling through to the concrete driveway, below. It came out pretty nice, especially the black rails and round black pickets. The original was white and I think that black makes a nice accent. The only thing left to do is to paint the underside white, but that has to wait a couple months until the pressure treated joists dry out. On another front, we’re nearly done with the remodel of our guest bath—Valerie’s been the primary effort behind that project—and pictures are coming soon.

 

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Fri
16
Apr '10

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

The word tonight is that President Obama, the first lady, their two daughters, and his mother-in-law are coming to Asheville next Friday for a weekend vacation. They’ll be staying at the Grove Park Inn, just down the mountain hill from the future Patton homestead. The last time he was here he ate at 12 Bones.  If he wants ribs again he’ll have to do some searching. The 12 Bones closest to the Grove Park is closed on weekends, but the one just down the road from Camp Bell is open on Saturdays. We’ll be looking for the motorcade on Sweeten Creek Road…nah, probably not.

Here’s the link to the local TV station’s website…

President Barack Obama’s visit to Asheville gives city ‘priceless’ publicity…

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Tue
6
Apr '10

Rotten to the Core

 While Valerie is working on the guest bathroom (regrouting the tub walls, skim coating and painting the walls, redoing the floor, and more) I’ve decided to tackle replacing our sagging front balcony/deck. Let’s just say that if I knew how bad it was, how rotten the wood was, I never would have walked on it. You hear stories about decks collapsing and people getting severely injured or even dieing…this one was days away.

A Screwdriver Sticks Right in the Beam Rotten Deck Boards The Beam Broke In Half

It took all of four hours to completely dismantle it (thank you Mr. Sawzall). As you can see in the pictures, the deck boards and the main support beam were severely rotted. When I made the final cut to free the beam and let it fall, it broke in half when it hit the driveway. Yikes! The Lowes delivery truck arrived this morning with a load of 12′ pressure treated lumber, cedar posts and rails, and white vinyl siding. Weather permitting (and that includes if it’s too hot, like today) I should have it rebuilt by the weekend.

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Mon
15
Mar '10

It’s Gonna Be Fun Fixing It Up, You’ll See

One of our favorite movies is The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. It’s about a young couple who buy a fixer-upper house in hopes of making it their dream home. On the surface everything looks fine and they think they got a great deal. Once they start renovating, though, it turns out that looks can be deceiving. What should be simple repairs turn out to be much much more (ridiculously so) and every problem costs $5000 and takes two weeks to fix. Watch this movie trailer before you read on:

When we bought it, we knew that Camp Bell needed some work. We had it inspected and we knew (mostly) what we had going in. But, in the spirit of The Money Pit, we are discovering a few surprises. Today, Valerie started work on the guest bathroom. We expected to recaulk the tub and refinish some rust spots. We also planned to repaint the walls and ceiling and replace the mirror and light fixture. We also knew that the wall and floor tile needed to be regrouted and that one or two loose tiles needed to be refastened. Nothing major was planned, until Valerie popped up one loose tile, then another, then another, then another – using nothing but a thin blade and two fingers!

 

To quote Tom Hanks when the bathtub falls through the floor, “HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAA HA HA HA HA HA HEE HAW HE HAW HE HAW HA HA HA HA!”

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Fri
5
Mar '10

Little Pink Walls

Pink WallsI think I mentioned a while back that we were repainting the entire interior of Camp Bell. We did the ceilings and many of the walls before our stuff got moved here but there is still a lot left to do. Why repaint? Well, besides the paint being dirty and worn, much of it is PINK! Apparently, in 1992 (when we think the house was updated) pink was the hot color. In this house everything has/had a pinkish tone to it – even the off-white baseboard and trim and the kitchen countertops. Eventually it all has to go. Valerie is now working on the family room which has painted wood paneling walls. Back in 1975 it was dark walnut, the rustic type with knot holes and rough grooves between the panels. Sometime in the past it was painted over in, yes, pink. Sure, it brightened up the saloon-ish looking room, but in a Brokeback Mountain kinda way. Just repainting it with a neutral taupe would help but we’re taking the extra step of filling in the dozens of knot holes and smoothing out the grooves with plaster. After also painting the trim and windows with a snappy white it will look much more like an up-to-date sunroom. Gotta consider resale. I don’t think pink walls have wide appeal.

P.S. Nothing on construction this week. The snow is slowly melting. It’s supposed to hit 60 on Monday. Maybe we can break ground soon.

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Tue
2
Mar '10

Science Fair Project – Time Lapse Camera

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been working on a little science fair type project. I thought it would be nice to have a camera set up that would take daily snapshots of our house being built. At the end of construction I could put them all together to make a time lapse movie. To make this happen I had (at least) two big problems that needed to be overcome. First, the camera needs to be in exactly the same spot for each picture. Second, the pictures need to be taken every day, or maybe even twice a day, which means that I’d be committed to daily trips to the lot for the next ten months (no vacations, no sick days, etc).

I did some research and found that there are several pre-packaged automatic time-lapse cameras ranging from $79 to $2000. Although any of them would do the job, they all had problems that would require minor to major modification to work for our application. Our street gets frequent teenage walkers (they go out to look over the I-240 cut) so whatever camera I install would have to be camouflaged to prevent vandalism or theft. It would also need to have batteries that could be recharged or replaced without moving the camera. And, it would need to be easily accessed to periodically download the pictures – again, without moving the camera. There’s also the difficulties of where to put the camera to get a good view of the house, keeping it weatherproof, etc. There was just a long list of issues.

As cool as it would be, I didn’t think there was an easy, cheap, solution. I was going to give up but Valerie kept telling me that it was her my #1 priority. She thought that I would be sorry if I didn’t do it. So…we put our heads together, walked the isles of Lowes for inspiration, and came up with a pretty dandy solution. It came out better than I thought possible.

Unfortunately, because this is a public blog, I can’t show you the final solution without giving away what it looks like. I can tell you that it involves an eleven year old Kodak DC-290 digital camera (chosen because it has a time-lapse mode and has enough pixels for HD), a lens adapter that lets me put a wide-angle lens on the camera, a motorcycle battery, a discontinued 12volt to 7volt converter from Radio Shack, a small solar panel, and several 2×4′s, plywood, screws, and paint. Valerie dressed up its “cover” (her brilliant idea) so that it will hopefully be inconspicuous to the casual passer-by.

I had planned on going out to the lot today to “install” our contraption but IT SNOWED AGAIN! We got another 8 inches! Since I couldn’t install the camera I decided this was a prefect opportunity to test it. I set it up on the Camp Bell deck and had it shoot a picture every 10 minutes from 10:30am to 6:30pm. It captured the day’s snowfall from a trace to 8″ when it finally got too dark for a picture.

 

Maybe Friday when things warm up and the snow melts I’ll get it installed at the lot. Imagine two pictures a day taken at 10am and 2pm over the next 10+ months spliced together for a Hi-Def movie. That’s the plan. We’ll see if it works.

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Mon
22
Feb '10

Drafty No More

The first big project (relatively) on Camp Bell is done. I replaced the door on the side of the garage. The original 1975 vintage wood door was severely racked, so much that there was a 1″ gap at the top and bottom. There was no threshold which meant that rain water would run underneath. One of the glass panes was broken and the wood frame was rotted where it touched the concrete floor. All in all, it was in sorry shape. After a trip to Lowes for a new insulated steel door and the lumber necessary to reframe it plus a couple hours of work, we now have a functional airtight door. No more hanging a bath towel over it to keep out the draft and prevent the pipes from freezing. After another trip to Lowes for a few trim pieces and generic white paint and the door looks like it’s always been there, only better. The next project is to replace the door that goes from the garage into the basement. Most of its bottom is missing. We think that sometime in Camp Bell’s past a pet dog tried to escape by digging through the door. No one, prior to us, has been motivated to fix it, but it will get fixed now!

Old Inside Old Outside

New Inside New Outside

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Fri
19
Feb '10

Camp Bell Becomes Livable

In the last week Camp Bell has become pretty livable. Since we’ve gotten back from our road trip, Valerie has been on a mission to unpack the dozens of boxes still scattered around the house and make Camp Bell less of a camp and more of a temporary home. One of the two guest bedrooms is now box-free and actually looks like a bedroom with a bed (and bedspread and pillows), chair, and nightstand. Our master bedroom and bath is completely unpacked and functional. The other bedroom is 75% there but it’s doubling as a storage room/pantry overflow with 8′ of wire racks. We’re also using its closet as our painting supply storage area. The bed is set up so it could be used as a second guest bedroom in a pinch.

The family room, our primary living space, isn’t really the right dimensions for our furniture but we’ve made do by putting the TV on top of an end table and by sticking my recliner in the corner next to it. (I now share the couch with Serena who seems to have abandoned her dog bed now that the couch is here.) We didn’t have time to paint the family room before our stuff arrived and the earthtone fabric and leather of our furniture doesn’t exactly go well with the pinkish color of the walls. But, we’ll remedy that soon. At least with all the boxes gone, it’s a real usable family room.

Valerie has the kitchen unpacked and she’s been able to use it for cooking. A small kitchen really reveals how many counter-top appliances you have and this one is tight. That’s why she’s resorted to using the racks in one of the bedrooms for overflow. She won’t have that problem at Vance Gap! The breakfast area has become the office and has a 4′ table for a desk and two half-height wire racks for “open” storage. Did I mention that the washer and dryer are in the closet in the breakfast area/kitchen? We fold clothes on the kitchen counter! Weird.

The living/dining room still needs a bit of work. Today we’ll move the table and chairs into place and over the next week or so attempt to tame the jungle of plants sitting on a camo tarp in front of the sliding doors. Our poor plants need some TLC to help them recover from the move. They’re looking a bit haggard but will hopefully recover after some pruning, fertilizer, and maybe some repotting.

The basement storage room is wall-to-wall boxes. It’s embarrassing to know that we have that much stuff that we don’t need day-to-day. The shop area is usable and Valerie has grouped the tools on the workbench in a logical fashion so finding a wrench or a staple gun isn’t difficult. The garage is the overflow and one bay holds the jukebox, pinball machine, extra couch, chairs, living room shelves, etc. I hate leaving this stuff out there, but there’s no where else to put it. Hopefully once I replace the severely aged exterior door (pictures of that project to come) the garage will not be so open to the weather.

I think that’s the tour. Camp Bell has become livable. I can’t throw my granola bar wrappers on the ground floor any more.

Sat
30
Jan '10

Our Lot is Staked, But You Can’t See Them

The surveyor came out this week to stake the proposed corners of our future home. The problem is, WE GOT 9+” OF SNOW and you can’t see them. After the last snow all the old-time Ashevillers were telling us how rare it was, that it never snowed like that here, that Asheville only got a couple inches now and then and that it melted off quickly. Liars liars pants on fire! Yep, we’re snowed in again. It started yesterday about 3:00pm and by 8:00pm there was Let's Go Out and Play!over 7″ on the back deck. Luckily it tailed off and overnight we only got 2″ more although the prediction was for a total of over a foot.  We were prepared and didn’t go out at all today except for Serena’s walks. When I went out at 4:00 I noticed that not one car had left a driveway on our street. The main north-south route, Sweeten Creek Road, was slushy but had been plowed and salted. There was the occasional car going by but people were smart this time and stayed home. But, it was beautiful – again.

We decided to not go to the David Sandborn jazz concert at the Grove Park Inn. If it was during the day I probably would have braved it but being that it started at 8:00pm and we wouldn’t get home until 11:00 and the temperature was dropping and the snow was falling again, it was better to be safe. Best not to become a statistic. Perhaps next year. We also decided to postpone our triangle trip to Pennsylvania and Indiana by one day. We’ll be leaving Monday morning, instead. The plan is to spend several days with my parents then drive to Indianapolis to visit Valerie’s family and have a big Superbowl party with all the Colts fans. We should be back in Asheville by Feb 11 or 12 — just in time to start getting serious about construction of our house.

Sun
3
Jan '10

Once-in-a-Generation Cold Snap Hits NC

Last week was record snow. This week starts a once-in-a-generation cold snap.  It was 13° this morning—but it is sunny. BRRR. What’s up with this place? It’s supposed to have weather similar to Seattle. Good thing we’re heading back there on Wednesday. A little rain might be nice. Did I really say that?

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Thu
24
Dec '09

No Popcorn for Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through Camp Bell, not a kernel of popcorn ceiling was unpainted, not a single shell. We finished painting our ceilings today! A Christmas miracle! 1800 square feet of popcorn ceiling is done, kaput, vamoose, not to be repainted again until the year 2045. Once every 35 years is more than often enough for that thankless task. It does look good, though, especially in the family room where the soot from the fireplace had darkened it. Worth doing. Once.

We finished about 3:30 and got cleaned up hoping to find a place for dinner on Christmas Eve. Oops. Every place Valerie called was closing at 4:00. We thought that the new southside Thirsty Monk might be open but when we got there it turned out they were only open for beer, not food. Luckily, Five Guys Burgers and Fries across the street was open, so that was our Christmas Eve dinner. That’s okay. We were starving and it was good! For Christmas dinner, tomorrow, we’re doing something special, going to the Grove Park Inn for their Grand Buffet. Of course, the weather forecast is for freezing rain and a buildup of ice overnight. Hope we can get there.

Merry Christmas Eve to everyone! 

Oh, if anyone wants to buy a used Wagner Power Roller, ours is for sale. We’re never painting another ceiling, ever, ever, again.

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Sat
19
Dec '09

Snow Days in Asheville

The Christmas weather in Asheville is just like Seattle’s. Last year we had a freak snowstorm (actually a series of snowstorms) hit us in Seattle during Christmas week. It pretty much shut everything down. On Friday, the same thing happened, here, in Asheville. We had 10″ of snow dump on us Friday and Saturday. And they all told us that it hardly ever snowed here, and when it did, not so much…Huh!

Snowy Camp Bell There's a mole in here, somewhere! 

A couple of observations in the differences between Asheville and Seattle…

1. Within 24 hours we had a city snowplow clearing and salting(!) our street — and our street is a dead-end, not a through-way. We didn’t see a snowplow in Woodinville for over a week. And, how dare they use that poisonous fish killing chemical on the roads to speed up the natural process of melting.

2. Our neighbor ran out while the plow was circling our cul-de-sac and gave the driver a Christmas baked-good wrapped in foil and a bow. Southerners are friendly (hand deliver holiday gifts to people doing good deeds). Seattleites are polite (wave at them through their window).

3.  The mailwoman, unable to get her truck up our street before the plow came through, WALKED her route and delivered our mail on foot. Given that last year we didn’t receive mail for 10 days because of the weather, I think the postal union steward in Seattle may want to have a talk with her and her peers.

What did we do through all this? We didn’t go out (Southerners look to be just as crazy on the roads as Seattleites). We stayed home and painted. Still lots to do but we’re making progress.

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Sat
12
Dec '09

A Little of Everything

Our friends Luis and Jolie visited Tuesday evening through Saturday morning. Luis’ mom lives in the Raleigh area and they visited her for a few days before coming over to Asheville and then heading back there for a few more days. While they were here we checked out the Gingerbread houses at the Grove Park Inn. The top 10 finalists in each category were simply amazing. Valerie was considering entering next year until we learned that many of the entrants spend 600+ hours working on their houses. That’s a bit much and hard to compete with. We also went to the Biltmore to see the decorated house. It was nice but I don’t think really remarkable – except for the 35′ tree in the banquet hall! Now, that’s a tree. We’ll try to go back for the Candlelight tour where they have choirs singing European carols, vintage ballroom dancers, and dramatic Christmas readings. That’s the nice thing about the annual pass, we can go as often as we want.

Today. we’re back to painting the bedrooms, hallway, and bathrooms of Camp Bell.

The escrow company has FedEx’d our closing paperwork. It should arrive on Monday. We sign and FedEx it back. The buyers sign and on the 21st we become renters of 13404 184th AVE NE. Incomprehensible.

We met with Steve Farrell, our architect, and Steve Williams, our builder, to knock out a few details and discuss the path forward. We may go for permit this month just to get the ball rolling and could start construction in late January. We need to meet again early next week. Still lots to do. 

We stopped in at one bank that our builder has worked with. I wasn’t too impressed with them and will talk to a couple more this coming week about their construction/mortgage programs. Interest rates are at an all-time-low and we’ll never see money this cheap again. Need to take advantage of it and lock in before rates go up to pay for TARP and Obamacare.

We and Serena have an appointment on Tuesday morning at Happy Tails Country Club to see if Serena would be a good fit to stay there while we go back to Seattle in January to pack and move. They seem to be pretty thorough and don’t take just any dog – and that’s a good thing! Our decision as to where we leave from and where Serena stays for our 2-week Seattle trip will be made after our visit.

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Mon
7
Dec '09

Wagner Power Roller

We’re painting the interior of Camp Bell and are beginning with the bedroom and hallway (popcorn!) ceilings. Valerie and I spent the last few days prepping (scraping, filling, sanding, caulking) and yesterday I started painting with a Wagner Power Roller. I bought it because I knew the popcorn was going to require lots of paint to properly cover and all the dipping in the pan with a regular roller would be very messy and time consuming. Well, this thing does make painting a ceiling much easier. When you need more paint you just press the button and it sucks more paint out of the can and pushes it into the roller. That makes it very easy to properly cover a rough surface such as popcorn.

But…any time that you might save doing the painting you lose in cleanup. What a mess. You have to hook this thing up to a garden hose and run water through it, then you have to have it suck water through it in two directions, then you have to disassemble it and manually clean all the parts. It took me over an hour to get all the paint out.  I almost gave up and threw it (and $80) in the trash. The best approach is to not do your painting over multiple days. Prep everything and then paint and paint and paint until you’ve done all you’re gonna do. Then do one cleanup. That’s what we’ll do when we paint the living, family, and kitchen ceilings. For the walls I think we’ll paint with a regular roller the old fashioned way and sell the Wagner on craigslist.

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Thu
3
Dec '09

You Know You’re an Asheviller If…

We bought our annual passes to the Biltmore, today. I also stopped in at Asheville Cardiology, filled out the new patient forms and scheduled an appointment with my new cardiologist for December 29.  We had our heating oil tank filled, subscribed to the daily paper, and have been busy working on Camp Bell. I think that makes us Ashevillers.

Oh, Asheville Cardiology is IMPRESSIVE! It encompasses an entire building. There are 29 cardiologists and they do everything heart related including stents, nuclear imaging, and pacemakers. They even have an ambulance entrance. It’s one-stop shopping for heart care. There were at least 40 people in the waiting room (as is typical, I was the youngest and most in-shape looking). Their location is now programmed into our Jeep’s GPS.

Wed
2
Dec '09

Millions and Millions of Pine Needles

We spent all day, yesterday, blowing and raking pine needles from our back yard. The resulting pile at the street is at least six feet high and twenty feet around, and we still have more to add. We have ¼ acre of yard and most of it’s grass but the back third is covered with branches from our neighbor’s pine trees. They’ve been dropping needles and pinecones for many many years and there were several inches of them built up with this year’s fresh layer on top. The City is scheduled to come by our neighborhood on Monday to vacuum up fall yard debris (last time for the year) so we needed to get this job done asap. We ran out of daylight and energy and didn’t finish but, wow, what a difference! Our yard is now significantly larger and we got some good outdoor exercise. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and snow (WHAT?!) on Saturday so maybe we can finish up on Friday.

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Mon
30
Nov '09

Settling In

We spent lots of yesterday unpacking and shopping for necessities. Dog food, a broom, and beer were high on the list. With what we moved here in May and brought with us in the Jeep we have most everything else we need to live day-to-day. We had a great brunch at Limones, an upscale but informal and inexpensive Mexican restaurant. The food was fantastic and our bill was half what it would have been in Seattle for a similar meal. We also visited our lot and let Serena have some fun playing in the woods. She loved it. It’s like she knows it’s her new future home. She’s also adapted quite well to Camp Bell, although she seems to have claimed the bedroom with the giant featherbed as “her” room.

Today we made a trip to Lowes for 5 gallons of ceiling paint and painting accessories. Tomorrow, Valerie’s going to start trimming the edges of the ceiling in the master bedroom. It’s an ugly job because of the less-than-professional popcorn texture that was sprayed on 35 years ago. She going to scrape off the popcorn that’s stuck in the corners and on the walls to make our later painting of the walls easier. When she’s done I’ll paint the ceiling with a Wagner Power Roller. I splurged on it because I didn’t think there was any other way to paint a popcorn ceiling while staying sane and paint-free. The weather is supposed to be good so while Valerie is working on the ceiling I’ll be outside raking/blowing the thousands of pinecones in our yard. Did I mention that our yard is surrounded by pine trees?