Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Dec '10

Boys without dates for New Year’s Eve

A couple weeks ago I got our security cameras working at the house. I have the system set up to send me a text message when the cameras detect motion. So far I’ve been getting lots of pictures of blowing and melting snow. But…just after 10pm tonight I received a text message that the cameras were seeing something. Hmmm. New Year’s Eve. Dead end street. House under construction. Time to log in and take a look. What to my wondering eyes should appear…but three teenage boys (as Valerie said, “apparently without dates for New Year’s Eve”) wandered around our house. The cameras caught them walking down the street to the I-240 cut, coming back 40 minutes later, trying to go in our house through the front door, walking  around to the garage and onto the breezeway (where they saw the camera and decided to skedaddle), and then leaving down the street. No harm, no foul. I don’t think they meant trouble, they were just snooping, but it was dark and it’s a 35′ drop off the back of the deck. I’m glad they saw the camera and left before testosterone poisoning set in. We could have had a 911 call for an ambulance and not the police. Check out the reaction of Guy #3 when Guy #1 points out the camera. Gotcha.

Dec '10

Valerie is Ready to COOK!

We reached a major milestone, today! The countertops were installed! The oak floor is still heavily cupped from the water leak but Clyde from Asheville Hardwood says that it can be sanded and will be just fine. “Trust me,” he said. I asked Steve to ask him to come out one more time before we installed the countertops just to be absodamnlutely sure that we’ll be okay. Clyde’s the expert so I gotta go with his call. Bring on the countertops!

Valerie is super excited. Her kitchen is finally taking shape. All that planning and material selection and agonizing over product choices is over. When they set the final piece of the counter she put her hands on it and said, “Now, I’m ready to cook!” Below are a few pictures of the tops being installed. The kitchen is a quartz product called Cambria Blackwood. It’s black but has touches of brown that really go with the cherry cabinets. It’s heavy massive stuff and the guys (DJ, George, and others) from Reflections Granite and Marble had to really work to wrestle it into place. The fabrication detail of the seams, corners, and where it runs into the windows to become the window sills is perfect. It caps off the great job that Thomas did installing our cabinets. Nice work, all! Check that milestone off the list.


(Excuse the dots in the pictures. They are condensation droplets on the lens.)




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Dec '10

Merry Christmas from North Carolina

Valerie, Ron, and Serena wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to good friends, good health, and…moving into our new home in February and the sale of Camp Bell soon after! Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

“Drop in and see us sometime.”

P.S. It started snowing early this morning and it’s still coming down.

P.S.S. Our dog is scary smart. Her Christmas gift, a stuffed fabric tug thing, has been wrapped and sitting on the fireplace hearth for several days. Untouched. After dinner Valerie carried one of my gifts up from the basement, Serena close behind. Halfway up the stairs Valerie said something about ”time to open gifts” and Serena ran to the hearth, grabbed her package from the pile of all the other gifts and began ripping it open. We just watched, jaws open, in disbelief. Totally true story. We didn’t prompt, we didn’t point, we never showed her which gift was hers. Dang dog understands English, somehow knew her gift, and exercised restraint in not opening it until we gave the word. Yikes.



Dec '10

Progress Pictures

Wow. We’re making progress. The first picture is of my nearly completed wiring “patch panel” in the mechanical room where the phone, internet, satellite TV, whole-house audio, security cameras and sensors, and doorbell wires terminate. There’s one, yes one wire, out of about 200+ that I don’t know where it goes. It wasn’t labeled and was likely an extra one that I pulled towards the end of our pre-wiring. I’ll figure it out…or just cut it off. The next picture is of the scaffolding set up to do the stucco on the back side of the house. It’s 35′ from the deck to the ground. You can do the math to the top of the scaffold. Check out the legs and what they’re sitting on. I was up there on Saturday installing a box on the wall for our internet panorama cam. Valerie didn’t know…until now.


Here are some deck pictures. The first is looking east, then our screened porch (no screen or doors yet), and our breezeway. 


Steve’s making quick progress on our window trim—simple craftsman style.

And, our stairs are complete. They are too beautiful for words. Awesome craftsmanship.


Pictures of our tile and more coming soon.

Dec '10

Christmas Trees at the Airport! Oh the Humanity!

We’re not in Seattle anymore, Toto. Today, the Asheville Regional Airport announced the winners in their fifth annual Christmas tree and Menorah decorating contest to benefit local charities. How very different that is from the fiasco at Seattle’s SeaTac Airport in 2006 when, in the spirit(!?) of political correctness, they removed all their decorated trees instead of adding a menorah. And then, after a huge public outcry, put them all back… I don’t know what SeaTac’s current policy is (maybe they don’t either) but last November, Washington State trumped them all by banning any and all “Winter Holiday” displays inside the capitol building. Scrooge wins.

Merry Christmas from a much more sane and tolerant state.

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Dec '10

Steve’s Back – Yea!

Steve’s back from his short vacation in Florida. Thank goodness. I’ve been at the house every day this week ”keeping the fires stoked” and terminating all my wires in the mechanical room. I’ve been arriving at 8:00 and leaving after the last sub packs up around 4:00. The stair guys have been there everyday and are making great progress on the stairs. Woody, the painter, has been “cutting in” around all the ceilings. Thomas did some work on the kitchen cabinets and set the guest vanities. Gary came in yesterday and did some grouting in the master bath. We had the countertops templated. And, Clyde, the floor guy came in to look at our Kitchen Disaster…

He put his digital hygrometer on the kitchen floor. It showed 11%. He tried it in several different places throughout the main level and it showed 8%. He said that he wasn’t concerned and felt that that the floor would “settle down” over the next week or so if we continue to run the heaters and the dehumdifiers. And, he felt that the floor would be then be sandable. Call me a skeptic, but I’m skeptical. Clyde will be back next week to recheck. I’m going to put him on the spot before we have the countertops installed because once they’re done, there’s no going back, we won’t be able to pull the cabinets. We’ll see. Hope he’s right.

It was so cold this week that the framers weren’t able to work on the deck. It’s not quite done, there are still just a few more deck boards to go. Unfortunately, I think we’re going to run out…and this is the Cambia decking that we ordered and had delivered from Manassas, Virgina. I see a trip in my future. We need to go to Charlotte, anyway, to get slatboard for the shop and pick up a few things at IKEA. What’s another couple hundred miles? Hello, UHaul!

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Dec '10

Electricity, Kerosene, and Propane

As I type this at 8:15pm it’s currently 14° outside with 30mph winds and gusts to 50mph. Wind chills are below zero. It hasn’t been above 18° all day. Yesterday didn’t get above 25° and we got 4″ of snow. Oh yah, and our house won’t have a working furnace for another six weeks!

Last night, two ceramic Microfurnaces and a quartz space heater kept the whole house above 50°.  I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at 9:00am and it was comfortable inside. I guess we did build a Thermos bottle with all that foam. Since the painter was there and I had some wiring to do I ran a kerosene heater throughout the day and occasionally fired up the jet-engine propane heater. Together, they made it even more temperate and, hopefully, built up some stored heat for tonight. [Little factoid: Those Microfurnaces are 23 years old and kept Valerie and I (semi)warm when we built our house in TN!].

I ran a few errands this afternoon and came home for Serena’s walk. Given the forecast for the night I didn’t feel that the three electric space heaters would do it so I drove back to the house and fired up the kerosene heater. Those things make me nervous but…there wasn’t a good alternative. I filled it up and set it in the center of the foyer’s tile floor hoping that if it burst into flames maybe the result would be better than if it was sitting on the oak. When I returned I told Valerie one of three things will happen: The house will freeze, everything will be okay, or the house will burst into flames. I have considered looking for my sleeping bag. Seriously. I’ll be back in the morning and probably need to do this all again tomorrow night. Stay tuned.

On a lighter note, Valerie built a construction snowman on the sand pile in our front yard. Love it.


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Dec '10

Kitchen Disaster

Today’s blog was supposed to be a catch up of everything that’s gone on over the last week or so. It’s been pretty boring…siders are siding, painter is painting, tiler is tiling, deckers are decking, etc. I’ve been busy terminating all those hundreds of low voltage wires that come into the mechanical room. More about that in a future post.

But, the big news is our kitchen disaster. First, some backstory. It’s been cold here; in the mid teens at night. Our only water at the house is in the garage with the cutoff/drainback in the crawlspace two levels below. Because the deck stairs aren’t yet built, it’s a feat of mountain climbing to get to. Steve’s been turning the water off in the evening and back on in the morning and draining the lines so they don’t freeze. He explained to the subs how to do it in case they arrive and/or leave and he’s not around. There is a main valve in the house’s mechanical room but it’s for the house, not the garage, and nothing is hooked up SO IT SHOULD NOT BE TURNED ON!

Earlier this week I noticed a dehumidifier in the house. I figured that Steve set it up because he was using propane heaters and they put a lot of moisture in the air. He said it quit working so I brought ours out to replace it. I didn’t give it any more thought. Yesterday afternoon I talked to Steve to get instructions for caring for the house while he was away on a Florida canoeing trip through next Wednesday. He mentioned, almost in passing, that a couple days ago one of the subs (he didn’t say who but I can narrow it down to three people) was trying to get water and didn’t know or forgot his instructions for getting water in the garage. Apparently this un-named person went down into the mechanical room and started turning valves in an attempt to turn on the water. He went upstairs on his way to the garage faucet and was met with a flood of water spraying out of the wall at the kitchen refrigerator ice-maker hookup. That valve was left open or bumped open by the drywallers. Steve didn’t make a big deal out of it so I just let it go. I assumed this person ran back down, turned off the valve, and cleaned up the mess.

Well, this morning Steve left for his trip. I spent the day at the house working on my wiring. In the later afternoon I strolled across the kitchen to look out the window and almost tripped. The virgin oak wood floor throughout the entire kitchen is cupped and buckled, so much so that I think the staples have pulled out and it’s a trip hazard! This was no little bit of water and, in my opinion, our oak floor, about 200sf, is ruined and needs to come up. I think it’s way beyond sanding. If it’s cupped, it might return to normal, but buckled? Beyond repair. Worse, all the installed kitchen cabinets are sitting on the floor. They will all have to be de-installed then the floor pulled up (carefully back to the rest of the wood floor in the dining room that’s not affected), then re-layed and spliced into the good floor, and then the cabinets need to be re-installed. The countertop templaters were schededuled for Tuesday. That will have to be cancelled because we can’t template for the countertops and then rip up and resinstall the cabinets. I’m so mad I could spit and there’s not a thing I can do until Steve gets back on Thursday. And, who’s going to pay for this mess? We’re talking thousands of dollars and a couple weeks of schedule. It’s time for a stiff drink and then bed. I can’t deal any more. Good night.

Dec '10

Valerie and her Pizza Oven

One day every week or so, Valerie’s been going to Flicker Artisan Works to work on her wood fired pizza oven. Here are a few pics, taken sequentially over a couple months, showing her in action. It’s really taking shape and she’s having fun making it. We’re staking out a place for the oven in our front yard and will landscape around it—really. Saturday evening pizza parties coming soon.




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Dec '10

The Gate’s Gone

I arrived at the house this morning around 8:00. As I pulled up I saw a City of Asheville truck and a backhoe. Steve was talking to the workers and I noticed that something was missing…the gate that used to be across the entrance to our street was gone and was laying against the guardrail. The time had come, the time we had hoped would not come until after our house was complete. The City had removed our gate.

Now, we knew this was going to happen. The gate was installed over 20 years ago and was left up to keep the local delinquents from hanging out at the the cul-de-sac and climbing the fence to get to the I-240 cut. There’s been a history of “problems” and the City planned to leave the gate up until houses were built, probably hoping that normal (upstanding) activity would keep the rif-raf away. I guess our mostly completed house was close enough to being built.

As it turns out, that rif-raf  is what hurried the process along. I didn’t know this, but found out today that a couple weeks ago a few kids started a fire over the cut. Someone called the fire department when they saw the smoke. The fire department and police responded and had a “hey, we need to take this gate down so we can respond faster” epiphany. Hence, the backhoe this morning.

I stopped by the fire department’s main office, today, and talked to the Fire Marshall. He’s the one who ordered that the gate be removed. He understood my concern that now that the gate’s down, the kids can drive all the way to the cul-de-sac to party and we no longer have “they can only steal what they can carry” security. No gate may make the problem worse but he’s coming at it from a public safety, not a public nuisance perspective.

He does plan to help, though. He’s going to have the cul-de-sac signed with “No Parking – Fire Lane” signs and gave me a number to call if we or the neighbors see cars parked there. He promised the no parking rule would be enforced. We’ll see. For our part, I’m installing security cameras on our house this weekend, and, once we move in, I’ll install a wireless camera at the end of the street. Yeesh, you’d think we live in the hood.

Dec '10

Plugging Along

Our construction crews, except for Woody our painter, were on vacation over Thanksgiving. Woody worked Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and, with no one else in the house, made great progress on our windows and walls. On Monday, everyone was back – siding, decking, and tiling. The rock masons are done except for covering the bridge footings. The wood floor is complete. And, Thomas has started the cabinets. So far he has all the kitchen, living, and master bedroom cabinets set (that means put in place, fastened down, but not trimmed) and has started on the office. He’s caught up to Gary, the tiler, and will likely have to work a few days back on the deck before he can set the bathroom vanities. As soon as those are done we can schedule for the countertops to be measured and templated. Later, after the walls get their final coats of paint and the wood floor is finished, Thomas will return to install all the moulding.

I spent a few hours today adding and moving a few outlets. We decided to push the bookshelves in our master bedroom flush against the wall instead of setting them in front of the baseboard. That meant there was no room behind the cabinet to run the power and cable for the TV we planned to set on an upper shelf. I moved them up to 6′ and Thomas cut holes in the cabinet back to match. I had to do something similar with the office shelves since we pulled them 3″ off the wall. My big oversight was forgetting about my Telephone light that goes over the phone booth. Oops. Luckily I was able to tap into the phone booth’s power and run a new line up, over, and through the wall. I had to hack up the drywall under the stairs but it will be covered (and never to be seen again) once the phone booth is installed. And, that’s happening as soon as the deck stairs are done. Can’t be soon enough.

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