Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Sep '10

While I Was Laying in a Hospital Bed

While I was laying in a hospital bed, lots was going on at the house. The electricians were wiring, the plumber was plumbing (more on our plumbing adventure in an upcoming post), the roofers started, the stucco guys applied a scratch coat for under the stone, the framers worked on the lower deck, the propane crew installed the gas lines, and the siding and siding crew arrived and started setting up. There’s no going back, now! Since I missed out on much of it, here are some pictures that Valerie took.




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Sep '10

The Big Pull

The low-voltage wiring is done, almost. Dad is back home (happily, I’m sure) after extending his stay and there is at least 6000’ of TV, phone, network, audio, video, security, and other wire in the house. The job wasn’t as bad as I had feared but it was a lot of work – the kind of work that will put you in the hospital if you’re not careful! Thank you Dad, for helping!

So where does all that wire go? Each of the four bedrooms has two TV coax and two network cables run to a TV location and a phone/network pair run to the side of the bed. There are also TV/network cables run to the screened porch, kitchen, basement, living, office, and shop and a few phone/network pairs to various places such as the dropzone in the mudroom. There are audio runs (speaker and control wires) to the deck, screened porch, kitchen, dining, living, basement, master, and shop and there are eight pairs of speakers in the ceilings. Alarm sensors and control panel wires are scattered around. There are eight video security camera cables to exterior doors, eaves, and the garage. There are doorbells on all three floors. Several miscellaneous two and four conductor wires are run here and there, just-in-case. And, four coax cables are run all the way from the mechanical room to the roof of the garage for a satellite dish.

The most difficult runs were to the shop under the garage. It’s about 60’ from the mechanical room and the cables needed to go outside, under the breezeway. We needed to run each cable, times two, and did it in what we called “big pulls” – line up all the different boxes and spools of wire, grab one of each in a bundle, duct tape the end and PULL!, up to the ceiling, into the trusses, and up and over the duct work and plumbing across the ceiling. Dad would pull out several feet then climb the ladder to feed it into the truss. I would snake it across, pull it down, move the ladder, grab the end and repeat the process. When we got to the outside wall that leads to the breezeway we drilled a 2” hole and pushed the wire through. Later we fished the two bundles into 16’ of 1½” conduit that we strapped to the underside of the breezeway (they barely fit), drilled a 2” hole into the shop and dropped the wires in for a secondary panel.

The electricians who were working alongside us kept joking about how much wire we were running. I told them I was an Internet spam king and was going to install a server farm of several hundred computers in the shop. I think they may believe me.  The funny thing is, once we were all done, when I looked around, it didn’t seem like a lot of wiring. There’s a TV jack here, a network jack there, a couple speakers in the ceilings. But, it all added up. I read a lot about pre-wiring and future-proofing your house for technology. The opinions on how much wiring is needed run the gamut, but one school of thought is to run network and TV cables to EVERY electrical outlet – just in case. Those people have to be crazy. There’s no way. As it is, I have over 130 cables running to the media closet. The bundle is at least 4” in diameter. Yeesh. I’d better start terminating those 260 ends, now, if I want that task done by the time we move in!

At the beginning of this entry I said that we were “almost” done. I still have the screened porch and deck speakers to do. Since there currently is no deck (maybe in a couple weeks) we just ran the wires to the mudroom. When the deck and porch are finished it’ll only take me an hour or so to get the wires where they need to go. I also need to run the wires in the garage attic for the satellite dish and the security cameras. The garage is filled with siding so we just coiled up extra wire and hung it from the ceiling. In the grand scheme of things, this is minimal, but it’ll need to be done before the foam insulation crew arrives because once they do their thing, there’s no more wiring, now or ever.

The big pull is DONE! Thanks Dad. You were a GREAT help. I hope you enjoyed working with me as much as I did with you!



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Sep '10

Valerie and Serena are Grand Prize Winners

Mom entered Valerie’s picture of Serena herding sheep at Ewe-Topia in the American Sheep Industry Association’s photo contest. And, drumroll please, we found out, today, that she won Grand Prize in the action category. The picture will be in the October issue of Sheep Industry News and will be on their website October 1. Yee Haw, Little Doggie! Anyone know of a newstand that carries the magazine? It’s a bit outside our normal circle of reading material…ha ha.


Sep '10

I Used My “Be Stupid One Time” Card

It’s Friday morning and I’m still here at Mission Hospital. Overnight has turned into three days! My cardiologist really thought it was just a dehydration episode but he referred me to an electrophysiologist cardiologist (expert in the heart’s electrical signals) just to be sure. He’s ordered a battery (pun intended) of tests and, unfortunately, with the time it takes to get scheduled for one test followed by the time it takes for a doctor to look at the results…well, that’s why I’m still here. Sort-of.

Actually, I passed my regular echocardiogram and my stress echo (13.7 minutes jogging on the treadmill with 75% ejection fraction thank you very much) and my carotid artery test, but they found a little blip on my 15-lead EKG. It’s called an inverted T-Wave and having one usually means that you’ve had some sort of catastrophic event occur to your heart. (Hey, doc, I had open heart surgery a year ago to repair a bad valve–that might be the reason.) Unfortunately, that message fell on deaf ears and I became an episode of TV’s Houseobscure medical condition relentlessly investigated by genius doctor. So, 2½ days later, here I sit, after a battery of Microsoft Alumni insurance busting tests, waiting to see if I need just one more test to discover why my T waves are upside down…more to come…

At 11:30 this morning (Friday) last night’s cardiac MRI came back negative for a rare, but dangerous, heart condition. At noon, today, I was given an all-clear, no limitations, discharge notice. I was also given a copy of my EKG to show to any future emergency doctors. Valerie will be giving me bottles of water to drink and I’ve been told that I’ve used up my only “Be stupid one time post heart surgery” card. On a positive note, at least I know, without any question, that my heart is A-OK.

Back to wiring, tomorrow!

Sep '10

Wiring Problem (?)

Ah, nothing is ever simple. On Saturday, Dad flew down to help me do the low voltage wiring on our house. It’s no small task with me trying to “future-proof” by running wires for cable TV, satellite, network, telephone, alarm, security camera, whole-house-audio, doorbell, even a weather station. We worked all day Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday pulling bundles of wire from the mechanical room to each room in the house. Dad mostly worked at the spools of wire, feeding wire to me as I routed it across the ceilings and through holes I drilled in the walls. It was hot (mid 80′s) both days and I was soaked with sweat from all the trips up and down the ladders and back and forth to the subs answering questions. We made good progress and called it a day about 5pm on Tuesday.

We returned to Camp Bell, got cleaned up, and Valerie, Dad, and I went to Marco’s for dinner on their outside patio. Dinner was good, I had a hot Italian sandwich with potatoes and a Wedge IPA beer. Dad paid the bill and we sat around for a few minutes planning our work for the next day.

I began to feel light-headed and started to get tunnel vision. I put my finger to my neck to feel my pulse, leaned over to Valerie and said, “I’m not feeling well,” and passed out. I awoke on the ground staring up at people leaning over me (Valerie apparently caught me and guided me slowly to the ground). A short time later, out I went, again. The next time I woke I was covered in vomit and heard sirens. The EMT’s arrived and started checking me. I was woozy but was able to answer their questions and passed their stroke tests. Then, I remember saying, “I’m going out again,” and out I went. I awoke the third time covered in more vomit and hearing talk of loading me up in the ambulance. A few minutes later I was wisked away to Mission Hospital.

I was awake for the entire trip and was starting to feel “better.” They were in the process of moving me from the EMTs gurney to the ER bed when I said, “I’m going again” and bam, lights out. I awoke covered in even more vomit (it was a big dinner) and a flurry of ER activity. But, I could tell that, this time, I was awake and feeling better. No more passing out.

After lots of poking and prodding, answering questions, and some quick tests the doctors declared, “We don’t know.” The thinking was that I overworked myself, didn’t drink enough liquids and became dehydrated, took my heart pills on an empty stomach before dinner, and had a beer (mission failure is never caused by just one thing). My heart rate and blood pressure dropped and out I went…and again and again and again. But, because of my heart history—once a heart patient, always a heart patient—they had to admit me for evaluation.

To be continued…

Sep '10

My, What a Long Boom you Have

On Thursday, our drywall was delivered…directly into the house using a boom truck. After personally hand carrying dozens of sheets down into our basement in Woodinville, I can appreciate how these guys did it…but it sure was scary to watch. For the lower level, they boomed it up and over the breezeway, down onto the deck, then slid it off onto a cart and rolled it in. For the upper level, they boomed the sheetrock—and the cart—up to the shower window (conveniently and intentionally left uninstalled for this purpose), unloaded the cart, then slid it in and stacked it up. In the pictures, below, you’ll see a guy standing near the boom with his hands down in front of him. He’s controlling the boom using a remote control joystick. So…yes, Virginia, there is a future for all those teenage boys who are good at video games!



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Sep '10

We’re #10! We’re #10!

We’re officially listed as House #10 in the Asheville Parade of Homes:

Home Description:
Custom design by Stephens Smith Farrell Architecture
Engineered to meet steep-slope guidelines
Stone and wood exterior rustic elements
Long lasting and recyclable metal roof
Natural wood interior
Lincoln push-out casement windows w/retractable screens
Solid surface countertops throughout
Master bath steam shower
Home workshop under garage
Convenient location 3 minutes from downtown

Directions to Home:
From College Street, take Town Mountain Road .9 miles. Turn right on Vance Gap Road and continue on paved portion for .3 miles to entrance to Vance Gap Forest Subdivision. Home on left.

Builder Details:
Steve and Suzanne Williams began Steve Williams, Builder in Florida in 1982. Re-locating to Asheville in 1992, we have constructed over 30 custom and spec homes in addition to both large and small remodeling projects. As hands-on builders, we limit our projects to 1-3 homes a year in order to maintain a high degree of quality and allow Steve to concentrate on interior trim and built-in features in almost every home. Energy efficiency and reduced waste and recycling along with “healthy-built” guidelines help keep each project as low–impact as possible. Member of the Green Building Council and Better Business Bureau.

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Pizza at the Patton’s

Valerie worked really hard to stay within her appliance budget for the house. She still got what she wanted (placed the order last week) but with careful shopping, going out for bids, and taking advantage of rebates she was able to save enough money to get one additional appliance…if you could call it that…an outdoor, wood-fired, pizza and bread oven.

They can be a bit pricey, but she’s going to save some $$ by building her own at Flicker Artisan Works. We picked up some information about them at the Food and Wine Festival and, yesterday, Valerie visited Dave and Mimi at their shop to see their operation. There’s no doubt about it, we’re getting one, and it’s going in the front yard! Front yard? Well, remember, our back yard is a 45 degree slope—the toppings would slide off the cheese! All those bricks would be too heavy for setting it on the deck so the front yard is the best place for it. We’ve been talking about landscaping our front yard with a fire pit and sitting area and this would be the perfect solution. Pizza at the Patton’s on Saturdays!




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Sep '10

Wolfgang C. “Ted” Heib III

The world lost a gentle, loving soul when Ted passed September 9, after a long battle with heart disease. He died at home in his wife’s arms. He is survived by his wife of 47 years Gwendolyn; daughters Jennifer Heib, Christina Scheibe, and Carrie Antrim; sister Sharon Boyce; 5 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; and his beloved dog Shiloh.

Ted was born in 1932 to W. C. “Charlie” and Madeline Heib, who await him in heaven. He grew up in the Wallingford area of Seattle, attending St. Benedict’s school, Lincoln High School, and Seattle University. He retired in 1992 after 20 years with the City of Kirkland. During retirement, he and his wife traveled in an RV throughout Canada, the U.S. (all but five states), and Mexico. At Christmas and throughout the year, many children firmly believed he was the real Santa Claus, with his jolly manner and appropriate physique. He was able to indulge in a life-long desire to act by appearing as a featured extra for 4-1/2 years on Northern Exposure and in several movies shot locally.

He was a frequent sight around Kirkland with his snowy white hair and beard, wearing a jaunty hat and a dangling earring. He was well-loved by all who met him because of his sense of humor and positive outlook.

As a child, Ted spent most summers at his aunt’s resort at Holly on Hood Canal. Although his name is German, he was three-quarters Irish. His last wish was to have a traditional Irish wake, which will be held at the Holly Community Club at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 18, after which his ashes will be scattered in the canal. Come and tell us your memories of this wonderful man.

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Sep '10

It’s a Series of Tubes

In honor of the late Senator Ted Stevens who described the Internet as a “series of tubes”, I’m posting a few pictures of the HVAC and plumbing work at our house. It’s a series of tubes, too, and it’s like no house we’ve ever lived in. Every HVAC pipe, even the cold air return, is insulated and taped with foil (not duct) tape so there won’t be any air leaks or condensation drips. The work is all organized and neat and clean. And, check out the advantage that open floor trusses give you. All those pipes can be run within them so there are no bulkheads or chases. Nice. The last of the four pictures is of the overhead vent pipe for Valerie’s kitchen exhaust fan. It had to be perfectly placed so that it’s centered over her future cooktop. I think we got it. We’ll know in a couple months when the cabinets arrive…



These two pictures are of Serena after we were at the house measuring for cabinets for a couple hours. She eventually got bored and decided to take a nap right in the middle of a pile of sawdust.


On the schedule for this week is more HVAC and plumbing work and, hopefully, electrical. The HVAC on the main and lower levels is done but the furnace and duct work in the master still needs to be installed. I figure that’ll take the rest of this week. Plumbing is going slowly. Because of the recession the plumbers are working at Mission Hospital during the day and doing our house (which would normally be their only job) in the evenings. There’s a pipe here, a pipe there, but nothing completely done. Maybe this week they’ll turn it up a notch. The electricians were supposed to start last Friday but there was no evidence of that this weekend. Hopefully they’ll start, today. On Saturday, Dad is flying down to help me do the low-voltage wiring (TV, phone, network, alarm, cameras, whole-house audio, and even the doorbell). We plan on starting that on Sunday. Gonna be a lot of guys in the house tripping over those tubes and pipes…

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Sep '10


Oh, man. It is coming at us hard and fast. With all the ordering and receiving of the rough-in stuff, trying to make the kitchen, basement bar, vanities, and window seats fit (in the space and the budget), and working with the HVAC, plumber, and electrician to identify where everything goes, we’ve been in Crazyville.

Valerie is buried in appliance selection and kitchen design. We’ve switched (unofficially) to Thomasville cabinets through Home Depot. We had “issues” with our previous supplier, Nova. The first person we were working with changed jobs, the new one seems indifferent to us and is slow to respond, and the quote, when she finally got it to us after two weeks, was twice our budget! Valerie has regrouped and is nailing down a new plan. Since the kitchen layout drives where the plumbing and electrical and even the floor registers go, even a few inches matter—and we need to know those locations, yesterday. Unfortunately, she discovered last night (after investigating one of those “sneaky suspicion” moments) that her selected oven won’t fit by ¼” into the wall cabinet. So, she needs to spend, today, figuring out a solution; different oven, shave the cabinet, or move a wall. Yuck. The good news is that her kitchen sink, in all its perfectly shiny virgin stainless steel splendor, just arrived from! Everything but the kitchen sink…eh?

I’ve been out at the house every day this week meeting with the HVAC guy, plumber, electrician, and Steve. I spent four, yes four, hours with the electricians on Tuesday going room by room, wall by wall, IDing where each and every receptacle, light, and light switch will go. I’ve decided that you can’t get what you want unless you know what you want, and knowing exactly what you want is HARD, especially when you ask for something and three electricians stare at you like you’re crazy. Hey, we don’t want umpteen switches everywhere each controlling who knows what lights. Put the entire kitchen, everything, all the overcounter lights, area lights, and undercabinet lights on a single switch. You go in the kitchen, you turn it on, you leave, you turn it off. If all of them being on is too bright we’ll make it a dimmer switch. Uncomfortable silence. Looks around the room. “You’re sure that’s what you want?”  “Yes.”  “I guess that’ll be okay.” On to the next room.

I only have one picture, today, and that’s of our new water heater about to be unloaded. I basically told those solar energy and tankless water heater guys to go scam someone else. I decided to get a 96% efficient A.O. Smith Vertex 100 water heater. If it’s good enough for Ed Begley Jr. (an actor and environmentalist who actually practices what he preaches, unlike an exVP named Al) then it’s good enough for us.

My new Vertex 100 Water Heater, Baby!

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Sep '10

We have a Dry House (and that doesn’t mean no liquor)

Yesterday, at approximately 3:00pm, we were officially dried-in! Yah! The roof is covered in plywood and water proof membrane, all the windows are installed except for the master shower window which will be used to get sheetrock into the second floor, and all the exterior doors are in except for the screened porch (which isn’t built yet) and the front door. What a relief. Now the craziness really begins.

The plumbers and HVAC crews are busy drilling and cutting holes in our pristine walls and floors and they expect to be completed by end of next week. We meet with the electrician on Tuesday for a walkthrough and he starts work on Wednesday. I’m thinking, now, that the low-voltage wiring (which is my bailiwick) will start around the 16th, a couple weeks earlier than I anticipated. That means the foam insulation could happen on the 27th and sheetrock right after. And, between now and then, the framers still have several interior walls to complete and there’s that massive two-level deck and screened porch that needs built. Once that roof is on, look out! We might have a safe, dry, decent looking house to show for the Parade of Homes on October 10.

Other stuff that happened this week: The front yard (AKA “the tub”) was filled with compacted gravel for the driveway and subsoil/topsoil for the landscaped area. The boulders were placed on our sloped front yard. The propane tank was delivered and buried. And Steve built the bridge to the front door (less railings). Wow.




Sep '10


So far this week, things have really kicked into overdrive. The windows were delivered on Monday and installation started on Tuesday, the HVAC guys are cutting holes(!) in our floors, the plumbers are bringing in pipe and cutting more holes, and Jeff has started placing rocks and boulders on our front yard bank and filling in our tub with dirt, and Steve has started building our bridge. Oh, and the framers are still, yes still, working on finishing our roof. Wow! Things have shifted into overdrive.

Valerie has her bids back from three different places for the appliances and is ready to select…drumroll…Haywood Appliance to provide most of our appliances. They were the most responsive and have the best prices, except for a couple things that we’ll get at Lowes. We still have not received our cabinet quote. Valerie called about it, today, and we expected a reply but, nothing. Maybe they’re afraid to tell us?  I’ve been playing in the dirt with Jeff, moving rocks by hand to places that he can’t get to with his trackhoe and just being on-site to answer the sub’s questions about where things are planned to be located. UPS delivered eight rolls of wire (cat5, speaker, alarm, video) and I ordered two more of TV coax. I think by the time I’m done I’ll have nearly two miles of wire…

Our windows. Very nice! The dark brown color is perfect and two features we got on our casement windows were worth every extra penny: They are push out, meaning no crank. You just flip one latch and push the window out or pull it in – just like casements of 100 years ago before engineers overly complicated it with a crank. And the windows have built-in retractable screens. You just reach up and grab a wooden bar and pull down until the screen snaps in at the bottom. Unsnap it and it rolls back up. Neat.

Finally, Serena has a new best friend, Mika, the puppy that Caleb rescued from the litter that was abandoned on our street. They play for HOURS together. Although she looks like she’s killing Mika in the picture, below, they were just having fun, really, seriously.

Onto the pictures…





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