Archive | July 2012

A Pleasant Surprise… and History

Answering the front door yesterday found one of our across-the-highway neighbors – SusanM – and 2 women I did not yet know. One of the women, Joan, was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Shirley who built my home back in 1946; and the other was Ivy – a niece of Joan’s. I was delighted to welcome them for a tour of their old homestead and ecstatic when they shared 1950s era Polaroids of the house and grounds.

1959 front of house

I was blown away by the fact that the “mature” trees I am so fond of can only be 50 years old at the most.   Note the current lack of foundation plantings and the addition of the side screened porch. I am still debating what color I want the front door – it came over from my previous home.

The mystery fish pond in the center traffic island was finally revealed as well as a glimpse of a house.  It is the Rice’s home across Hwy 59, which has had a brick veneer added since the photo.

Pond and Rice home

The interim owner Mr. Madden apparently filled in the pond. We do not know if the concrete was taken out. As I believe in building *up* for flower beds, we may never know. (you try getting a shovel into rock hard clay sometime.)

The biggest interior change for Joan and Ivy was probably the kitchen.  The kitchen and DR used to be one large room, with a bar between them.  Ivy had fond memories of being seated there for treats from the kitchen. The closet that now houses my washer and dryer was the pantry, and contained a trapdoor for access to the basement. Originally, the washer and dryer were in the basement, as well as Mr. Shirley’s workshop.

Joan shared that her mother was a superb gardener. She actually installed the stone edging for the flower beds, that I have so admired. She also agreed that her father had something of a concrete fetish – the front stoop is a very solid 18 inch deep monolith. And the walls – the house is originally concrete block with concrete added to fill the voids. My handyman almost quit over the effort involved to remove the walls during some reno work. The upside is that if we ever have a tornado, I am not worried in the least.

The rooms are all oversized because her father had served  in the Navy and was not going to be cramped in his new home.  After the stakes were placed for the original house layout, Mr. Shirley had 6 to 8 feet added to every dimension. The bedrooms are 16×16 and 14×16. The bathroom is so large that I am easily going to have room for a separate shower and whirlpool tub when that remodel happens.

Joan and Ivy were pleased that we love the home and that I am working to have flowers planted everywhere outside. I was grateful to have a glimpse of the home and family that built it.

In a later conversation with Joan, I discovered that she has iris, day lilies and a rose that her mother transplanted from here to her home in Fairplay.  Come fall, Joan has offered to bring some of them back home. Her mama would be proud.

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Getting Acquainted

Sharon has been living in the existing house on Soul’s Ease for a year now. She has met some very nice people in the neighborhood. We are on a major road 15 miles from the interstate, and less than 2 miles into Seneca. Many of the neighbors are related and were related to the people who lived there before Sharon. She has put so much hard work into the landscape transformation and it has been noticed. She also had some work done on the house to improve the flow, and those who remember it have noted that, too.

Small Southern communities can be so welcoming. My parents discovered that when they retired to a small town in Virginia, and I am glad to see that in my new neighborhood. I have found it hard to put time into meeting neighbors when I work full-time and more, plus have a house and yard to maintain. I do look forward to having more time to socialize.

We are chuckling over what people will be saying about us when the geodesic dome goes up. It is outstandingly different, but when they see the inside, I think they will be surprised at the space and normal look. We will probably hold an open house after it is completed, to let everyone see what we are doing, and to talk up what a great deal domes can be: safety in weather and low on utility costs. In my mind, perfect for a retiree.

example of cottage

Cottage site

Getting Closer

I sent in one more set of papers for my retirement. I have 12 more days of work, and I just finished my last week on call (I am in computers and we rotate 24×7 responsibility). Now I can concentrate on the cottage, getting the permits so the kit will be shipped in August. I will be consulting with my general contractor and getting things started for the slab. I would like to see concrete poured and ready to start building sometime in October, if I hope to move in before the end of the year.

My Buster, ready to go

Some Progress

Still clearing a week after the windstorm

As you can see in this example, the crews are still working very hard over a week after the windstorm to clear trees, branches, and restore power. Things are calmer around here – everyone in Roanoke is expected to have power back by some time this weekend. It took almost a full day with air conditioning to reduce the inside temperature in my house to a normal range a little under 80 degrees. I have long known about thermal mass, but did not realize how much walls and furniture held it when not even in direct sunlight. Interesting experiment that I do not wish to retest.

more damage

Things are moving along now for getting approvals for construction of my cottage. I have sent off the form to request a septic system permit from the Oconee County Health Dept. One more bit of info, a copy of the plat, is being sent to them. The final building plans have been sent to the engineer for a seal of approval before heading to the county Building Codes Dept. I will start in August, after I am retired, to set up things for construction – the first item after a general contractor (I have someone in mind) will be the slab and all the pipes and things which have to go in place first. I also need to get in touch with the utility companies and my insurance company to see what I need to do for all of them. This is quite a learning experience.

My dome kit will be delivered in August after I have my permits. I don’t expect to get the slab poured until Sept, probably after my family get-together. There is a lot involved in what goes under the concrete, not to be rushed. I have a lot to learn.

Things we take for granted

I am very happy today, not necessarily for the holiday, but for the return of power.

I was one of the unfortunates who lost power on the hottest day in almost 30 years, with the 87 mph wind that preceded a thunderstorm on Friday evening. It has been difficult to cope, but by adjusting windows and blinds to protect from sun and hot breezes, I was able to stay in my home for the almost 5 days. I do have a cooler basement, but it was getting pretty stuffy, and required a flashlight at any time of day. I did a lot of reading and napping. At least I had water and a gas water heater. Friends on wells really had it bad.

I think my favorite thing, beyond air conditioning, is to be able to run my washer and no more clothing rinsed in the sink. Getting back online feels good, too.

People have been so chatty everywhere I go – fast food restaurants (who had power) on Saturday had very long lines, but what a nice thing to actually talk to people around you. No one was obnoxiously impatient. Yesterday I was at the hospital for some tests/procedures prior to retirement and everyone was talking about their or friends’ or relatives’ situations. Best of all, the sense of humor is intact.

This goes into the planning of the future home, how to handle emergencies in both hot and cold weather.