Archive | June 2012


As time is running down before retirement, I am feeling a sense of loss already – I have lived in Roanoke for half of my life and feel very established. I have people I will miss from work, and other friends outside of work. I will have to start over with professional people in a new city, which can be daunting, but I am already getting good recommendations from friends in my new city. I have lost a few of my professional contacts lately, one retired, one passed away, one had a family need and moved across country. Life is a constant change, and before I settled here, I had made a number of moves between states. I learned to look ahead in anticipation instead of back with any regrets. I can keep memories, and it is not too far to travel back for visits.

I do plan to take a lot more pictures before I leave. This is a beautiful little city just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I need more shots of the variety of seasons. I have been taking pictures of the new place lately, neglecting the old one. Both deserve equal time.

I spoke to one of the owners of AI Domes today, clarifying details for the Energy Report they are completing for my new dome. That really got me excited about moving, my mind would not concentrate on much else. My plans are moving ahead. Life is good.

View from cottage east across meadow

This will be the view from the front of my cottage, toward the site of my future larger home – it’s a big place.



I have long been a fan of recycling whatever I can. I don’t know who might be familiar with the concept of Freecycling – it is an online group ( ) that tries to keep things out of the landfill. We join a local group and advertise items that we no longer want, being honest if things are no longer functioning. I have been able to get rid of things that people advertised they wanted, and I had forgotten I had. I friend convinced me to sign up after she told of rapidly getting rid of a bag of dryer lint she had been saving for making paper. You never know what people may need.

I am not a yard sale person, so this appeals to me, no cost and little time spent on it. I don’t feel the time I would spend on a yard sale is worth any money I would make. This is a way to pass along things someone wants and you do not. Examples: old screen doors that had been replaced, an old clothesline pole, plastic cat litter buckets are very popular, books, furniture, coupons, even scrap metal.

I plan to start going through my house and getting rid of a lot of things I no longer use, via Freecycle. Since I plan to move to a new state, there is no reason to keep a lot of things I will not use. Retirement means a big change of lifestyle, too. Although I have been working in a business casual office, there are things I will no longer be using and will pass along.

I have already been going through my books – I come from a family of readers – but a discussion among friends made me realize I would not be re-reading very many, so why keep them? I passed many mysteries to my sisters and will be Freecycling other books. I will keep some for a guest pass-along library in the future.

I do have a couple of current hobbies for which I keep stashes for future work – knitting and beading. I keep hoping I will use more, but am not ready to unload any of it now. These are still potential projects. I also expect to add to this, as I have been promising myself when I retire I can take time to learn to spin yarn. It fascinates me.

I found that having a place for an item makes me put it away when done. I am neater if I plan ahead this way. Moving into a small cottage, I will have to plan for extra storage wherever I can find it – under the bed drawers, well-organized closets, tucked into the laundry room, and I could put up an out-building to hold odds and ends that I have not given away.

Large outbuilding already on the property, but we’ll need more.

Souls Ease – The House

Somewhere in the latter part of June will be the one year anniversary of my taking up residence at Souls Ease. People who have read the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen Donaldson may recognize the source of the name.

DonnaW and I found this house the second day we looked in Seneca. The rooms are huge; I later found out the man who built it was in the Navy and was *not* going to be cramped like he was on-board ship. The bedrooms are 16×16 and 16×14 respectively, while the living room is 20×15. I was quite surprised to be able to keep all of my furniture.

Before move-in there was a frantic rush of remodeling. We exchanged a double set of LR windows for French doors, opened the LR to the DR and installed a larger kitchen window. All of these changes greatly improved the amount of natural light on the north end of the house. The (vivid!) royal blue carpet was removed and the original floors in the bedrooms and LR refinished. They turned out to be cedar and look quite nice with the reddish and blonde hues.

The original, dark, north end of the LR.

The improved LR, showing the new french doors and opening into DR.

The new, larger and lower, kitchen window.

This is my first domicile without any carpet. I had childhood memories of using a floor buffer on the seemingly endless hardwood in our home. It took the dogs a couple of weeks to quit barking every time I tapped my feet or dropped something. LOL, much less they lose traction and spinout when chasing each other around the house. I have come to prefer it to carpet, just for ease of cleanup.

My top priority was getting a portion of the back yard fenced for a dog run. I have 2 mini schnauzers and occasionally serve as a foster mom for rescued schnauzers. The highway in front has a lot of truck traffic , as it is a direct shot to I85. It took several iterations to escape proof the fenced back yard and the porch door. The gate in the back is wired shut while the porch door has a gate latch on it and a very strong spring to assure that it fully closes and latches.

The herd-let as of June 2012.

I gave away 5 bookcases and a ton of books before the move. In my previous home I had had one room for fiction and another for nonfiction, with a full set of bookcases in each. In retirement I find that I use my library card a lot more than I ever did previously.

As the remodeling progressed, we discovered that the almost 70 year old house was concrete block, with a stone veneer. Not only were the walls thick, concrete had been poured in the openings in the block. My handyman was muttering and threatening to never work on the house again, because of the effort required to demolish parts of 3 walls. Hanging pictures has proved interesting as well. An upside is that I am not in the least worried about any tornado level winds we might have.

This has proven to be the only place in the South where my winter heating bill is higher than the summer air-conditioning – quite a turnaround. The 2012 winter was mild here; Zone 9 temps instead of Zone 7. If the house was that cold during a mild winter, I should not care to go through a regular one with these un-insulated walls and floors. Insulating the attic better, and adding under floor insulation should help tremendously, as will replacing the windows.  One of these years I should like to install a ventless gas fireplace – all in good time.

I didn’t really start to feel comfortable here until we got some COLOR on the walls. The entire house had been recently painted with a supposed light gold. It was OK in daylight, but night was a different story. Do you remember the politically incorrect Crayola crayon called “flesh?”  Bleeh.

I am quite comfortable here now. I still need to get around to some window coverings, but I have been quite busy re-doing the grounds to support my gardening passion.


Orchard Plans

I am disappointed, my current favorite apple is Jazz, and I found there are no sources for a tree. It was developed in New Zealand as a cross between a Gala and a Braeburn. It is juicy, has great flavor, and is firm enough to keep a long time. But apparently it is too new to be available for home orchards. I have always liked McIntosh, but they do not keep long. I guess I will try planting Fuji, as I do like those.

My plan was to plant two apple trees, two peach for early and late ripening, one or two sweet cherry, and at least half a dozen blueberry bushes.

I am not a big fan of apricots or plums, but one of each tree, and the harvest could be traded or passed along. One fruit I want to try is a pawpaw. even though I’ve lived in the South for 35 years, I have not run across one. It might be another addition to our orchard if I like it.

I will have to see if I can get a raised bed for strawberries, do not want to harvest from ground level. As much as I like kiwi and understand it is not hard to grow the vines, I think I am developing an allergy to it, so am afraid to try that. There are blackberries on the property, but we may pass on those and plant red raspberries. They are not so heavily seeded.

When my parents retired to SW Virginia, the property had lots of blackberries. We only tried one time to harvest and found the place was loaded with chiggers. That was a miserable discovery, and discouraged us from further attempts.

shady backyard seating



Combining Resources

One thing we’ve been discussing about Soul’s Ease, and probably started with the original bunch of us, is pooling resources. Once we had thought it would be a good start to find an old elementary school with a cafeteria and an auditorium. It could be turned into condos and we could have communal meals down the hall. The auditorium could be used to hold functions, a source of income. Two of the group were experienced party organizers, so it was a solid idea. No school was found and as I said, our circumstances changed over time.

We talked about combining libraries and music and movie media, but even that is changing fast. eReaders and DVRs, even Netflix has easy access and no need to take space storing video tapes or dvds. We still need a good entertainment center.

We do plan to combine tools – both Sharon and I had fathers who worked with their hands and taught us about tools. We are keeping a list and making sure we don’t duplicate power tools.

We still hope to combine many meals. Neither of us likes to cook for one, plus we both want to improve our diets, so we will work on it. I don’t expect we will become gourmet cooks, but just developing healthy habits is good. I have hopes of having a decent vegetable garden one day, and Sharon hopes to acquire a taste for more vegetables. She has admitted to being averse to green stuff.

Combining our automotive needs is in the plan, as long as we have 2 vehicles, we are okay, and now we have 3 between us, so downsizing will save. We are considering renting a car for any road trips, to save wear on our own. I read a recent article about studies showing that was cost-effective in the long run. It will help to use the same medical providers and schedule visits so we can carpool.

We will do bulk purchases and split things. We would like to set up a wi-fi on the property, if that could save us money. There is an old well on the property, although we are on a city waterline, and if we could get it restarted, it would make a good source to irrigate gardens. It is sad during droughts to see your hard work fade.

We are looking at many ways to maintain a comfortable but not lavish lifestyle. Having company to help is great, and we will do a lot together, but having a home to retreat alone is a good back-up to remaining friends.

Here’s another project Sharon is doing to gain privacy from a neighboring house, a screening hedge along the lot line.

Sharon’s boarder, Andrew, planting wax myrtles along the driveway

An Additional Author

Sharon, my co-founder of Soul’s Ease and current resident, may also be posting to the blog.

Donna and Sharon – happy after making the offer on the place

Important Day

Today my retirement forms were submitted.  It is 7 weeks until August 1.  I am getting excited.