Sunday, June 26, 2011
I don't know how readable this is, but this is his plan.
The direction he got from me was minimal—as little lawn as we can get away with and still meet the HOA requirements, low maintenance, things that bloom throughout the year, and stay within the budget. We'll have a lot of deer, so that's a concern too.
I think he's hit the nail on the head as far as low maintenance goes, but I can easily see ways to limit the lawn (like planting beds at the front of the yard). But, if we actually wanted to put something in those beds, I can see that we could have gone over budget, so I guess he opted for lawn instead.
One of the things I'm not thrilled with is the abundance of holly in this design. He's used 4 types of holly—Nellie Stevens Holly (the traditional spiky-lobed kind), Carissa Holly, Dwarf Burford Holly, and Compacta Holly. Hollies in general are deer resistant and low maintenance, and I like the Dwarf Burford Holly as a property line border along the driveway and the berries will be pretty in the winter, but I do not want to deal with that Nellie Stevens Holly. I've had to trim one before, and believe me, it's not an enjoyable task.
I'm going to ask to change the Nellie Stevens Holly to a Sioux Crape Myrtle, which is also deer resistant. And instead of an evergreen with colorful berries in the winter, it would have summer blooms and beautiful fall foliage.
I'm fairly ambivalent about the other 2 hollies, but I do want to change out the 5 Compacta Hollies he has drawn on the side of the house next to the driveway. When I see pictures of these shrubs they remind me of formal hedges, and I really don't want that look. That, and they're fairly plain. I'd like to have something with a little more visual interest right there since I'll be looking at it every time I leave or return in the car.
My thought was Bear's Breeches—but I have read that these can be invasive and difficult to get rid of if I change my mind, and certain varieties are thornier than others. I do, however like the bold foliage and the architectural interest the blooms provide. Still looking at possible alternatives there.
Now, right next to where I'm thinking of putting the Bear's Breeches, the landscaper has placed Gulfstream Nandina. Oh, good heavens, I love this stuff! If I can't come up with a good alternative for Bear's Breeches, I may just have him swap the placement of the Compacta Holly and the Gulfstream Nandina. I'd also like to put the Nandina on the front of the house in place of the Indian Hawthorne he's drawn directly in front of the porch.
Indian Hawthorne blooms in the spring and is a good alternative to azaleas in areas that get full sun, so it's a good plant for the front of the house, but deer apparently love Indian Hawthorne. I might as well ring the dinner bell if I plant this stuff. Gulfstream Nandina is deer resistant, and even thought it doesn't technically bloom, it does provide visual interest all year long. It's supposed to have a bronze foliage color in spring, a deep blue green in summer, and color can range from orange to red in fall.
The landscaper also placed some Indian Hawthorne around a Kousa Dogwood where the driveway and walkway join up. I had been thinking about Hypericum (mid-summer bloom) or Peonies (late-spring bloom) here instead, but the more I read about Peonies the less they seem like a good alternative. Other options might be a Beautyberry (summer bloom with purple fall berries) or a sterile Lantana (spring, summer, fall blooms, and attracts butterflies). I'm still pretty stumped about this area, though all of these options are deer resistant.
The Blue Star Juniper he has in front of the dogwood and along the driveway next to the Dwarf Burford Holly is a concern. We had some kind of juniper monster in the front yard of my childhood home and I hated the stuff. There were always spiders nesting in there and it left some nasty scratches. Not to mention it overtook the entire planting bed. I remember when my parents finally tried to pull it out; between chainsaws and winches, they finally got them out, but it was not fun. Anyhow, if these remain low-growing mounds that won't spread, I'll go with it, otherwise I want to change them. Maybe some Glacier Blue Spurge.
Then there's the Emerald Green Arborvitae he has drawn as foundation plantings on the front corners of the garage. I'm a little concerned that these could get out of control and become too big. That, and they're deer food. I'm thinking Black Lace Elderberry. Mom has one of these in her yard and it is gorgeous! It's deer resistant, the huge clusters of tiny summer blooms are lemon scented, it gives edible fruit, and birds and butterflies like it. It may be too bushy for a corner planting though. Oh! I bet this could be a good alternative, instead of the Bear's Breaches, for the Compacta Holly I want to replace!
He also has several Camellias Sasanqua around the house. Camellias are beautiful, but I'm not sure I want them in my yard, or maybe just not so many. Particularly the 3 clustered at the corner of the kitchen next to the Gulfstream Nandina. I don't have a suggestion for an alternative, though. And they do tend to flower in winter/spring, so that color would be nice.
Other plants that the landscaper has included in his design: George Tabor Azalea, Endless Summer Hydrangea, Ruby Loropetalum, Pink Muhly Grass, Knock Out Rose, Bonanza Gold Barberry, Kleim's Hardy Gardenia, Purple Coneflower, Becky Daisy Mix, and Dianthus. I like all of these, though I could easily plant the last 3 on my own.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
But as I sit here, listening to children from 4 families using the street on each side of our house as a playground—ringing bicycle bells, blowing whistles, squealing, complaining, crying, and even occasionally laughing—I'm thinking that my home looks pretty darn move-in ready to me!
Monday, June 20, 2011
One of the things that charmed me about this area, aside from all the greenery and trees, is the proximity of water. There's a certain loamy, rich, fecund scent about freshwater areas that I love, and I almost instantly relax when I smell it. Probably because almost every place I've called home (and meant it) has had it.
Oregon City, OR—home for essentially the first 20 years of my life—had the Clackamas, the Willamatte, the Molalla, and of course the Columbia Rivers nearby. Long summer weeks and weekends spent camping on the Chetco River near Brookings, OR—where dad called home, and I visited during school vacations until my teens. And hot summer days spent swimming in the Umpqua River after dad moved to Myrtle Creek, OR. I still get to visit the Umpqua when I travel to Roseburg see mom; even though I don't swim in it any more, I still enjoy the smell of it as I roll into town.
Then there's the Bay Area. I've been here for the last 19 years. And that smell is hard to find. Sure, there's the Bay, but that's marshy saltwater; an altogether different smell. And not always pleasant. There was a brief period when I lived in West Sacramento and attended school in Davis. Back then my apartment was near the banks of the Sacramento River and the Delta. Summer evenings when the breeze would carry the smells of the river in through my window were the best.
At any rate, I've been wanting to explore the Haw more on previous trips but didn't really have the time and the weather wasn't particularly cooperative in January and April.
There's a weir on the Haw that's visible and accessible from the highway and I decided to go for it. I'm sure some would call me a fool, setting off alone on a 95° day, in the afternoon sun, wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to explore a new area. But it was worth it.
By this point I was doing some serious sweating, so I decided to take off my shoes and socks, roll up my pant legs, strip off the long-sleeved shirt (I had a tank top underneath) and wade out into the river. (Partly to cool off, but also to get a different perspective.)
I had a little internal dialog with myself about wading out into the river. Should I? Shouldn't I? It's filthy. My feet will get all muddy when I get out. What if I slip? This is the second time I've had one of these internal dialogs with myself while in NC. On our last trip I was debating about walking across a deadfall over the little stream behind the house.
These conversations with myself are more than a little annoying. Growing up I wouldn't have hesitated to ponder the what ifs. And if the log broke or I slipped into the river? What of it? I may end up with a couple scrapes ad bruises, but nothing disastrous would happen. (Okay, I might completely toast a camera, but other than that...)
I've never really thought of my younger self as particularly fearless, but that was what crossed my mind during these conversations. And what would eventually propel me to do what I was considering. And conquering those moments of doubt was awesome. (It also helped that no one was around to see me if I screwed up!)
So I've been having another ongoing conversation—what is it exactly that I'm doubting or afraid of?
Am I afraid of failing if I try something? Yes, I know that's a part of it. It's been a big part of my life actually. Fear of failure has kept me from attempting many, many things. Fear of what other people think of me is a part of it too, though not as big. Other than the people closest to me, I don't really care what other people think.
Do I doubt my abilities? Yes, I do. My body is simply not the same as it used to be. I definitely have doubts about whether or not I can depend on it to do some of the things I want to do. Part of that is just age, but a bigger part of that has been me not taking care of myself.
I do not want to doubt my body. I don't want to hesitate to cross a stream because I don't think my body can make the 3 foot jump. I don't want to not try kayaking because I don't know if I have the upper arm strength to paddle back. I don't want to not try to climb a boulder because I don't know if my legs will support me.
So, on that note, I'm going to go get on my elliptical machine and go nowhere fast, for about 30 minutes. I am tired of doubting myself. And I am tired of not trying new things.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
And all the daddies of four-legged critters too. Tank and Dozer are making today very special for Scoob—no barfing, no peeing on the floor, and no dingle berries to clean up, and lots of kitty cuddle time. They were not as conscientious (though just as cuddly) on Mother's Day.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Since I kept mentioning that they had been painting the house when I was leaving North Carolina, I figured I had better at least let you see it! What do you think?
Funny story. While we had been decided on the shade of green we wanted for months now, Scoob and I never talked about the trim. And when the builder asked me what color I wanted the trim to be, I thought he was referring to the interior trim work since I had just met with the trim guy that day. I chose a white called Snowbound, by the way. (I think I may have been trying to play a psychological trick on myself by choosing such a cold sounding name in that heat.)
Imagine my surprise when I pulled up to the house and the painters were finishing up work on the exterior trim... in Snowbound.
It's a darned good thing I like it.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Our housing development was having a pool opening social today and I went dessert shopping with a friend last night. Actually, I stayed at their house last night. Our builders needed to leave their house around 3:30am today to catch a 6:00 flight for Seattle and it just made for sense for me to stay the last night with them. I'm very happy that our schedules synched up at the end of the week.
Guess what I learned last night? Fireflies continue to glow after they're dead. Only for about 5-10 seconds, but still. I hit a bunch of them on my windshield last night, that's the only reason I know that. Also got bit by my first fire ant and had a nice conversation with a decent sized frog.
I made one last stop at the house before leaving today. I wish I could stay because it is changing day by day. The exterior paint and trim is done, stone will go up next week. The hardwood floors are about 2/3 done with installation and all the permaboard for tile is in and they can start tile as soon as it is delivered.
The only decisions I really have left are a couple of clarifications on trim work and then paints. I ended up liking very few of the paint colors I picked up earlier in the week. Since we'll need to coordinated paint with that rock wall I'm actually packing a 6"x24" tile of the stone and granite samples home with me. Yeah. Heavy. But our friends loaned me a larger carry on and I redistributed a few things so nothing triggered overweight charges. I just hope it doesn't break.
Spent some time strategizing the move with our friends last night and I'm really liking the plan we came up with. We're all going to work on Scoob and try to talk him into it.
Scoob wants to pack our condo into a Pod, ship my car, and fly to North Carolina with the cats in cargo. Last night I was kicking around packing the condo into a Pod and renting a small RV with a trailer for the car. Having an RV means the cats could come with us and be comfortable, we could make our own eats and not have a lot of food expenses, and no hotel expenses. I'll have to do some research and look at the math, but I'm really liking that idea.
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, June 10, 2011
The bid for the trim work came in for the work that's above and beyond what's included with the house. The build price included organization units in the closets, chair rail in the dining room, 7" baseboard, crown moulding, and mantles (within reason) for the fireplaces.
I just about hadf a heart attack when I saw the bid. Then, he forgot and left a couple items off the bid. When I asked about them ("I assume since you didn't include dollar amount for the other trim work we discussed that those items are included in the cost of the build") he quickly sent the other numbers, which prompted me to have another heart attack.
Some of the items, like 2 built-in bookcases, would be nice, but at $700 each I think I can do without. It's always something that could be done later if we decide we really, reallly want it.
Also got an almost final bid on lighting, but I think I can shave at least $400 off of that if I source a few lights myself. I never really, truly liked any of the island pendant lights and I saw something at Lowe's that I like at least as much as what I ended up picking at the show room. When I figure that the showroom wants $150 per pendant and I can get the ones at Lowe's for $40–50 each I said I might as well get the ones at Lowe's. There was also a light in the laundry room for $185 from the showroom and I found something similar for $70. Home Depot is currently having a sale on ceiling fans too, so I'll need to check those out and see if I can't save some more there.
And once we get a final sqft on the living room fireplace and know how much stone tile we'll need for it I should be able to salvage some of the mantle allowance to shift to another line item. I'm hoping I can pick up $600 there.
They started painting the exterior today and the painters also put up color swatches for me on the interior. I'm heading over to the house first thing in the morning to see the swatches in different lights. The build price includes 3 colors on the interior, but I was talking with the builder and I can have 2–3 more colors if I want them at no extra charge for the labor. So I am looking at more colors. The exterior color is perfect. The artichoke green perfectly matches some of the foliage in the trees behind the house, which is exactly what I was going for. I'll see what it looks like with 2 dry coats in the morning. I may change my tune on that.
Met with the new landscaper today. I don't know how productive that meeting was, but he got a sense of what I like (cone flowers, seasonal color, don't you dare touch my dogwoods, ornamental grass, lots of contrasting color and texture, must stay on budget) and what I don't like (as little grass as possible, nothing that's overpoweringly fragrant, holly), so we'll see what he comes up with.
One of the couples we met on a previous visit just bought a house down the street from us. So yea! More friends in the neighborhood! After I meet with the builder at the site tomorrow morning I don't have any appointments all day, so going to hang out with a good friend and we'll meet up with another friend and our new neighbors for dinner.
Then it's Saturday and I'm on a plane. I can't believe it's time to go home already. This week has gone by so quickly, but I feel like a lot has been accomplished. And my hosts have been incredible. I thought it would be awkward staying with the builders, but they're so genuine and laid back it hasn't felt the least bit awkward. Even hanging out with their kids has been great. (Hope they feel the same. :))
Anyhow, was trying to get Scoob on the phone a bit ago and couldn't get through to him in his cell or at the house. It's late on the west coast and I have to admit I'm a bit worried. I hoping he was just in the shower when I called. Going to try him again. Toodles.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
I wasn't very optimistic that I would find anyone else that carries it because I have found absolutely no one who carries the crackly accent tile for the bathroom that I also found at Tile Shop. But I called a few places and found a couple leads. I decided to look at it as a scavenger hunt and an opportunity to become more familiar with Raleigh as I was driving around.
As I was on my way to the first store, I passed a place called Best Tile. Even though I hadn't called them, I figured I might as well stop in, so I turned around. Well, that was quite possibly my best find of the day. Not only did the salesperson immediately recognize the sample I was packing around, she had just completely redone her own fireplace with it. And she had pictures of the finished project!
Scoob and I had been debating about doing the fireplaces in some other stone thinking it might be too much if we did it all the same, but her pictures were so stunning that all doubts flew out the window. And guess how much they charge? $6.99/sqft retail! Their retail price is substantially lower than the other store's heavily discounted price! Once the builder sets up an account with them the price should come down from that even.
Needless to say I was stoked.
Although, when I brought in my granite sample the salesperson was very critical, "That's going to be way too busy." She thought people would be uncomfortable in the kitchen because there's a lot going on in the wall and she thought the granite would make it too busy and set people on edge. "Can you change your granite?" No, the granite is already paid for, and besides, I like it and think they really complement each other.
When I told her that the rock wasn't a backsplash but would cover an entire expanse of wall from cabinet height to ceiling on a 17' wall she changed her mind, "Oh, in that case, no one is even going to notice the granite."
I stopped at two more tile stores after that. One store had it, but didn't have a sample in store that I could see. They were asking $8.95/sqft. The last store had something very similar, but not all the tiles were long and horizontal, a few were square. They wanted $6.80/sqft, but Scoob said no to the squares.
So, here's a picture of the original tile, and 4 sample tiles from the first tile shop. Can you tell the difference?
In my opinion, the only thing that gives away which is the original is the fact that it is not mounted to a black board.
You want to know the best thing about the heat? In the late afternoon, just as the sun begins to dip behind the trees. There are lots of long grasses and hay fields around here and the smell they give off as they exhale after holding their breath through the heat of the day is just amazing. Oh! And last night I saw my very first firefly!
But enogh about that. Yesterday was tile and carpet day.
I expected it to be a long, grueling day. But it actually went very quickly. Scoob and I had met with the tile rep during our January trip and picked out several tiles we liked. She pulled all those out again and since I now have cabinets, granite, and decorative tiles picked out, eliminating previous selections was super easy. Honestly, picking grout colors was the most difficult. Who knew there were so many choices when it comes to grout?
Anyhow, here are the latest combinations. Unless these end up being way over our allowance (and they shouldn't be), these should be final.
I actually like this floor tile better than the one we picked out on our last trip. This one is creamier and complements the browns and creams in the accent tiles where the other one was more white and really only went with the grays. The floor tiles will be 16"x16" and installed on the diagonal, making the room seem larger and we'll use the complementing 8"x12" wall tiles for the shower and bath. The tile rep made a sketch of the shower for the installation crew:
I think I mentioned before that we decided to pull the tub and shower out of the second downstairs bathroom and make it more like a powder room since we're going to use that downstairs bedroom as an office. I decided on a darker tile here to give it a richer feel and if we decide to go with a really saturated color on the walls, a lighter floor would have just looked off.
Then there's the upstairs bathroom and the laundry room. Since they'll both have white thermafoil cabinets and the granite remnants are coming from exactly the same lots, I decided to keep it simple and use the same floor tile in both areas. (The white sheet of paper is supposed to represent the cabinets.) What's not pictured here is an accent tile. To save money I decided to put the floor tiles on the wall in the shower as well and add a small metal sunburst accent tile. Here's a relatively close example, just imagine this as 2"x2" instead of 4"x4" and take the face off the sunburst.
Here are a couple of sketches for installation options in the upstairs shower. Right now I'm favoring option 1. I showed these to the builder to get his input since his specialty is tile. He thinks the diagonally set tiles should be 6"x6" instead of 12"x12" and he is going to contact the supplier and see if they're available.
You may have noticed that there's no kitchen tile. Well, the build price for the house included hardwood in the kitchen with a $2.50/sqft allowance for the materials. Tile also has a $2.50/sqft allowance. Scoob and I mistakenly thought we could swap these out in the kitchen as long as we stayed within our allowance. Turns out there's and addition $3/sqft cost for tile on the labor and materials (sub-flooring, grout, etc.) side. So I had a minor panic moment when I realized that the floor stain would totally clash with the cabinet color in the kitchen, but I think we've got that all worked out now.
Today was supposed to be landscaping, but apparently the landscaper that was working on a bid for our lot went out of business. We received a quote from a new landscaper today and I should be meeting with them tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Did any one bother to tell me about the cluster of zits on my nose? Or my chin, forehead, or cheeks? Of course not. Blech. Tomorrow I'm going to try going out without foundation at least. My skin is just so uneven and splotchy and you know what, I think the world can just deal with it. Scoob, on the other hand, wasn't too thrilled when I told him on the phone that I'll need to learn to be okay without makeup. Bite me.
Can I just tell you how thankful I am that I shaved my pits before leaving California? It's so hot and I've been wearing nothing but sleeveless shirts. And so I'm learning to love my arm flab, too.
I'm going to need to become reacquainted with my razor, 'cause dudes, my jeans are going to be the death of me. I don't really remember when my legs last saw day light, but I'm going to have to find some comfortable shorts and buy about 6 pairs of them. At least I took a swipe at my legs with the razor when I shaved the pits. It wasn't a very thurough or close shave, but at least the fur mat is gone.
I'm also going to have to find a good hat, which really could end up being a blessing for everyone. No make up and frizzy hair... now I know why southern women prefer floppy, wide-brimmed hats.
Monday, June 6, 2011
And I don't know if the guy at the Avis counter was trying to kill me or just play a prank on an out-of-towner or what. So I checked in for my rental car and he gave me my receipt and said my car was across the lot in spot 829. So I hike out across the lot, pulling my luggage in 90 degree heat only to find that spot 829 is completely blocked in. I can't even get to it with my luggage let alone drive the car out of there. So off I go, dragging my luggage and wheezing back across the baking asphalt. Did I mention I was also wearing heels?
Dude must have thought I was going to have a stroke my face was so red when I made it back to the air-conditioned office. So he finds another compact car for me in space 10. 10? Right next to the office? Crap! Why couldn't you have given me that one in the first place!?
So after leaving the rental counter the second time, my first stop was to check in on the house. Okay, my first stop was a grocery store for some water, but after that I went to the house. We're really going to be thankful we sprung for the spray foam insulation.
I don't have a cell phone signal where I'm staying and since Scoob didn't come with me this trip, I don't have a computer either. So I'm feeling very cut off, but I'll try to send updates.
Friday, June 3, 2011
I did get up north for Memorial Day weekend (different north) and stayed with my sister. Staying up until 2:00–4:00 am every night was tiring, but we did get some quality sister time and it was nice.
The family usually heads up to the ridge to maintain the family graveyard and make additions whenever necessary. The ridge is great-grandma and great-grandpa's original homestead. And we'll usually follow that up with a mini-family reunion/cookout at the ridge house.
This year there was an extra treat—one of the cousins has been running cattle at the ridge and the herd had a few calves this spring. And Memorial Weekend just happened to be when the calves were getting branded and the male calves were being..."fixed."
It's not the best subject, but the light inside the house was gorgeous.
It seems like someone should be sitting in this chair.
Heading back to Raleigh on Sunday by myself and I just don't like it. It's not the going or being there or being alone that I don't like, it's the lying—I've been telling my boss and co-workers I'm going to Oregon to see my mom. I'm really looking forward to September when I can come clean with everyone.
In the meantime, I hope nothing happens while I'm there, because it'll be hard to explain if something bad happened (tornado, accident, etc.) to me in Raleigh when I was supposed to be in Oregon.