Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Sun
24
Apr '11

Easter Pizza

We celebrated Easter by having our first pizzas from Valerie’s pizza oven. She’s in practice mode, like I was with my smoker a few years ago. It ain’t as easy as it looks as there are lots of tricks and techniques to learn. How much fire should be burning, how much flour needs to be on the peel, how best to jerk the pizza off the peel so that the toppings don’t fly off and leave the dough behind, etc. The pizzas got progressively better and by pizza #4 she had a pizza that looked and tasted like something from a professional pizza parlor. Mmmmm. Valerie made some notes of what worked and what didn’t (baking is science after all) and she’ll give it a try again, soon.

However, the baked bean experiment from last night didn’t work out quite so well. The recipe called for leaving the beans in the hot oven overnight. It was a bit unclear as to how “hot” hot should be. We’re talking lots of mass here with all the bricks and concrete and once all that gets hot, it stays hot. Well, this morning Valerie went to pull out her cask of beans and knew immediately there was a problem…because it was very light. Let’s just say they smelled really good but the pizza oven proved to also work very well as a crematorium. Dust. Valerie’s trying another pot of beans this evening using just the residual heat from baking the pizzas. What I have for breakfast will be determined overnight.

 

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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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Thu
21
Apr '11

Brilliant…GPA Redistribution

I’ve tried to stay out of religion and politics in this blog except for the occasional rant about local government bureaucracy in selling and building our house. However, I saw a brilliant video on Neal Boortz’s website that I just have to re-post here.

Lately there’s been lots of talk in the news about taxing, spending, and redistribution of wealth — raising taxes on “the rich” and giving more of their money to “the poor” as tax breaks, welfare, extended unemployment, etc.  Those who would be additionally taxed feel that they’ve worked hard to earn what they have, they’ve made their own luck in life and they deserve to keep what they’ve made. Those on the receiving end feel that the rich have too much money and it’s just not fair that they keep it all to themselves, that they should spread it around.

This video is about a proposition to do the same thing with college students’ GPAs. If you’ve studied hard, made smart choices, and sacrificed your social life to earn good grades then why not take some of your high grade point average as a tax and give it to someone who has a lower GPA? If  redistribution of money via taxes is right, then why not of grades? Who really needs a 4.0 GPA? That’s really excessive. You could get by with a 3.8 or 3.9. You wouldn’t miss a few percentage points and someone who was less fortunate with a 2.0 would be greatly helped by nudging up their GPA a little bit.

Guess what the college kids, the same ones who believe it’s okay to increase taxes on the stinking evil rich, think about this proposal?

Click to see the video…

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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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Wed
13
Apr '11

“Cut me, Mick!”

We’ve had a spate of oopsies and owies lately, nothing major, just some out-of-the-ordinary minor bad luck for us. The first instance was Serena’s cut paw just after we moved in.  Then, two weeks ago when my parents were visiting I got a nice shiner under my right eye courtesy of my BBQ smoker. It was a close call, 1/4″ away from disaster. I was laying on my back underneath the smoker removing the propane tank hose and replacing it with a a permanent connection hose. It was breezy and as I lifted my head the door blew in front of my face. I caught the sharp bottom corner of the stainless steel door just under my right eye; hard. Good thing I was already laying down or I would have dropped. I wasn’t sure exactly what happened and kept putting my hand in front of my eye and taking it away to confirm that I could still see. Things were blurry, it hurt like hell, but I was okay. Luckily I just came away with a nice shiner which is only now fading away.

That same morning Valerie backed the Jeep into a telephone pole while maneuvering around a garbage truck picking up trash. She managed to hit the sweet spot that included the rear bumper, tail light, hatch, and fender. Her words when she told me were, “It’s worse than it looks.” She was right. It wasn’t a lot of damage but it was multiple parts. The kicker is that there’s no “accident forgiveness” in North Carolina. The insurance industry is highly regulated by the state and you get points based on the dollar value of the accident (or traffic offense). Your rates go up for three years no matter what. I ran the numbers and it was cheaper (by about 50%) to report it and pay the increased rates than pay out-of-pocket for the repair. Oh well.

And, this week, Valerie was the first of us to visit the Urgent Care clinic (I had the first ambulance ride to the hospital). She was walking Serena and brushed up against one of the large timber guard rails in our neighborhood. She got the splinter of all splinters. It was several inches long, poked through her jeans and into her leg. She pulled it out but a chunk of it broke off below the skin. She tried to remove it but it wasn’t coming. The next morning she went to Urgent Care. The doctor tried to remove it but he couldn’t get hold of it either and was afraid that, even if he did, he wouldn’t get it all out. Old dirty pressure treated wood buried in your leg is not a good thing so, to quote Rocky Balboa, “Cut me Mick. Go ahead, cut me.” The doctor used a scalpel to cut along the splinter line, removed the log, cleaned the wound, stitched it up with four stitches and gave Valerie a tetanus shot.

That’s enough drama for a while.

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Tue
12
Apr '11

A Sleuth of Seven Bear

I did not know this but a group of bears is call a sleuth (or a sloth) unless it’s polar bears and then it’s a pack.

This morning about 7:30 I was sitting in the office. The desk wraps around the corner with windows on both sides. To the left I can look out to the hillside and down the street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a moving black blob, then another, and another, and another. Four bear were coming up the hill. They crossed the street and went up to the neighbors. I went to get the camera but by the time I returned they were too far for a picture. But then, just as I sat back down, three more bear started up the hill. I managed to get a couple pictures of them before they crossed the street and continued on up. I apologize for the blurriness. The camera was attempting to focus on the window screen. You’ll get the idea, though :-) !

 

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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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Wed
6
Apr '11

Come on in!

One reason we moved to Asheville was to be within a day’s drive of family. We’re entering that stage of our lives where being that close will become more and more important. Looking at it from the other direction, we’re only one day’s drive for our families to come visit us. Asheville and the WNC mountains are a prime tourist area with lots of natural beauty and activities so our new home makes a great place to stay for a vacation or as a stopover en-route to somewhere else.

Last week my parents were our first guests and this week Valerie’s sister Pat, nephew Jack, and friend Maddie are here. Valerie’s sister Cindy and nephew Jeremy will be here for a night next week on their way back to Indiana from Orlando. We aren’t 100% unpacked, yet, but the house is definitely livable and guest friendly (once we moved the shower curtain rings from Camp Bell). Valerie and Mom broke in the new kitchen making stuffed cabbages, baked beans, and several other goodies to stock “Gi-gan-tor” (Valerie’s behemoth freezer in the pantry).  Dad and I unpacked the garage and made several trips to the cardboard recycling center. We did a WNC Chef’s Challenge with Pat and the kids (the secret ingrediant was mustard). And, were forced to eat happily ate at 12 Bones twice in two weeks. Yum.

Unfortunately, we really didn’t have time and the weather wasn’t ideal to do any real tourists things. Although we’ve been in Asheville for 15 months there’s still lots we haven’t seen or done (trolly tour, chimney rock, zip lining, etc) because we’ve been so busy. We’d love to play touron this summer and experience Asheville at a more relaxed pace. When you come visit don’t be shy about asking us for suggestions on things to do and, if you don’t mind, inviting us to tag along with you (just not on another walking tour of the Biltmore house :-) .)

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Tue
5
Apr '11

Where Oh Where has my Portafilter Gone?

It’s been a month since moving day and Valerie’s super happy because she finally (and accidentally) found her espresso machine’s portafilter. It’s been missing since we packed up Camp Bell and she’s been reduced to drinking homemade drip coffee (oh the horror) or sneaking out to City Bakery or Starbucks for a latté fix. I can’t understand how she feels because I don’t drink the stuff – just three cups ever in my life – but if you’re hooked you’re hooked.

Now, we were super organized movers. We had to be given that we moved twice and in stages over two years. Everything was boxed and labeled, color coded and numbered, and entered into a spreadsheet. If we needed something that wasn’t unpacked we looked it up in Excel, got the label color and box number and found it deep in Warehouse 13 without a problem. But, when we moved from Camp Bell last month we loosened up our standards a bit because we would soon be unpacking everything. Why carefully box and inventory something (like the coffee maker) when we’d be unboxing it in a couple days? Plus, there was no need to box 100% because we knew we’d be back and forth for several weeks and could pack the remainders in the Jeep or pickup as needed…except for the portafilter.

Apparently the day of or the day before our move Valerie made a latté, packed the cappacino machine, washed the portafilter and ”put it someplace special” so she wouldn’t forget. She put it where she “knew it would be unpacked first.” Well, after we got to the new house she unpacked all those “open immediately” boxes. Then she unpacked all the green labeled “open soon” boxes. Then she unpacked all the pink labeled “open eventually” boxes. No portafilter. Every last box with a Kitchen or Pantry label was emptied. No portafilter. Perhaps it got mixed in with some packing paper or garbage and tossed. Maybe we left it in the dishwasher, or cabinet, or under the seat of the Jeep. Nope. Gone. We were about to order a new one (yah, you coffee addicts are thinking, “I can’t believe she waited that long!”) when Valerie went to Camp Bell to do some paint touchups.

Underneath the guest bath vanity, in a plastic tote of cleaning supplies, mixed in with soap, sponges, and Windex, was…the portafilter. Flash. It’s all coming back now. On moving day morning it was sitting on the counter after drying from being washed. She remembers putting it in the tote because she knew she’d be using those items soon and probably bringing the tote out to our new house. Somehow the tote ended up under the vanity (I didn’t do it) and there it sat, for 30 caffeine-free days. Never did it cross our minds to look there…until it was accidentally rediscovered. Oh happy day.