Saturday, December 19, 2009

"PRIME" Time
Seems like yesterday we were excited by the first swath of the bulldozer through the pristine wilderness we'll soon call home. Then there was a big hole in the ground that became a walk-out basement. When framing began we were almost ecstatic!

Now 90% of the exterior is finished! As soon as the water line is run from the well to the house so the stone will be installed. When the railing is put on the deck and the screening is put on the porch, the only thing remaining will be landscaping.

We're inside now...and just in time. We just had the second measurable snowfall of the year which is two more than we experienced all last winter. Interior stuff has gone very quickly. Not only is the sheetrock on the walls, it is finished and PRIMER has been applied to the entire main level. The ceilings throughout the main level are primed AND painted.

We're in the final stage of selecting all the flooring...a bit behind schedule, I might add! The first quote was breath-taking...and NOT in a good we had to drop back and punt. The only other major decisions will involve light fixtures...and then there will be a long list of "minor" decisions.

Enjoy updated photos above and I'll try to update the blog a little more often. Happy Ho Ho, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


There is so much for which I am thankful this year that it's tough to begin to enumerate it all. First of all, another year has come and nearly gone and the people I love are all relatively healthy and happy. My family in Knoxville, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York and points beyond are all faring better than most in this screwy economy. We are so thankful for our friends near and far who enrich our lives even when we don't see them nearly often enough. One of the gifts we've been given as a result of moving around a bit to chase job opportunities is that we have friends in all corners of the US (and a few beyond the borders). You know who you are and please know how blessed we feel to have you in our lives.

In June of next year we'll have our first grandchild and we're more than just a little excited about that! We got to see the little guy waving his arms on a recent ultrasound...and what a strong little heartbeat he has. No, we're not sure he's a "he", but my gut thinks so. Doesn't really matter...either way he/she will be the most spoiled, adored child ever to grace the earth.

And, while Thomas and Cheri will be raising their first baby, OUR baby will be tying the knot. In about a year and a half, we will welcome a new son-in-law to the fold. He's already met the "Fockers" and hasn't run screaming into the night yet. Erica and William (or "Cooper" as he's affectionately known by me) will be married in May of 2011. Alexis is still loving life in sunny southern California and was a little taken aback by the rain we got on her visit home for the Thanksgiving.

And...the house...

The house is coming along very quickly and feels more and more like OUR home every day. This week the bulk of the sheetrock was hung on the main (upper) level. Almost all the siding and trim has been finished on the exterior. We're waiting for the final little bit of siding, the garage doors and the stone for the foundation and columns and then all attention shifts to the interior.

My favorite t-shirt says: "I wasn't born in the mountains...but I got here as fast as I could!" Can't wait!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Somehow, having a front door makes the new house seem a whole lot more like a "home". That's the thing we'll open for guests, although most of you will probably use the side door and come through the mudroom like family. That's where we'll hang a wreath at Christmas time. That's where the welcome mat will be!
In addition to the new front door LOTS has happened since my last posting. Most of the siding is in place on the front of the house. In addition to the Bunglehouse Grey covering much of the exterior, we've now added the accent color, Roycroft Bronze Green, to the high peaks. If I do say so myself, I think the Arts & Crafts color combo is quite becoming! The peaks are covered with faux (Hardie board) shakes which is a nice contrast to the lap siding.
Both the interior and exterior fireplaces are in position. The big deck on the back of the house is framed and ready for decking. Most of the plumbing and electrical work has been completed. I am extremely excited about our shower. Showers are now called "vertical spas" and mine has four body sprays, a shower head, a hand-held shower AND a 12" rain head mounted overhead right in the center! If I can find a waterproof laptop, I may start working from the shower when we move!
The central vacuum has been installed. I don't know what we'll do with the Dyson when we move...I feel like we're cheating on it!
We have made a few big choices recently. The floors will be mostly a distressed hickory...awesome! We brought home the sample and tucked it under various pieces of furniture and lived with it for a week. Love it. We selected tile for the mud room and the guest bath...also awesome. Still LOTS of decisions ahead, but that should be the fun part, right?
I'll try to get more photos posted soon...things are changing so quickly right now I can't keep up with the progress!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

From Raw Wood to Bunglehouse Green!

It's been a banner week for construction. The siding has started going up and portions of it have already been painted. We're going with several choices from the Sherwin-Williams Arts & Crafts Collection. The body of the house will be "Bunglehouse Grey" which is more green than grey. The Trim color is called "Vellum" and is a yellowish off-white. And the accent color that will be painted on the faux cedar shakes at some of the high points on the front of the house will be "Roycroft Bronze Green"...a dark tealish green. The TREK material has been laid on what will be the screen porch and breezeway. Much of the wiring has been completed. Fan/light combos have been installed in bathrooms. Plumbing for the upstairs has begun. The fireplace and kitchen bar areas have been framed. We made a few big changes to the original floor plan. The rec room in the basement has increased in size by about 80 square feet and there is a nook under the stairs where we will have a "refreshment" center for guests. I spent a little time selecting faucets and we shopped for stone for the foundation walls. One of the most fun things was looking at fixtures for the "vertical spa". I've been out of touch for a while, apparently, and still mistakingly called this a "shower". But that really doesn't touch what it will be! It's more like a carwash for humans. There will be four body sprays, one shower head, one hand-held shower and a 12" rain head overhead in the center. Choosing locations for various light fixtures was fun and a little stressful. Lots more decisions coming down the pike and all at a time when I've got a busy travel calendar ahead...stay tuned!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Putting a Lid on It!

Despite 5 straight days of steady rain, the past week brought lots of milestones:
* shingles on the roof!
* stairs in the stairwell!
* showers in the 3 guest bath rooms!
We also got two more exterior doors installed and lots more framing on the interior. The framing for the fireplace in the great room is in so a fireplace cannot be far behind. We've made decisions about the decking material, the exterior colors and the kitchen appliances.
And on the "other" home front, we got just about everything marked off our list in preparation of putting the house on the market.
Stay tuned! This is bound to be a busy week...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We Do Windows

Our beautiful red Pella windows and doors have been installed and what a difference they have made in the outside appearance of the house! We're two exterior doors and a little sheathing away from being totally enclosed.

Trim carpentry has also begun on the front (especially the front of the garage) and the shingles for the roof have been delivered and should be going up shortly.
Anybody want to buy a house in west Knox County?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall is Here!

We're experiencing our first little cool snap of the year...a bit early! We had to wear jackets out to the home site last night...a sure sign that summer made a quick getaway this year. The good news is, by the time really cool weather gets here, the house should be completely under roof and mostly enclosed! These are front and rear views as of 9/30/09! With the progress on the roof and most of the windows and doorways being cut-out, it's starting to look more and more like a house and less and less like a box. The shingles and "tin" will go up within the next week or so and windows are due to arrive any day. Fireplaces have to be selected so ductwork can be included through the roof for chimneys. Time to pick colors for the outside so we can pick decking material!

We're right on the verge of needing to make lots of decisions...and to make them FAST.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Raise the Roof!

The roof of the house is, quite literally, being raised! The framing/walls happened so quickly that I didn't have much of an opportunity to keep you all updated! Tonight I went out and was blown away to see the beginnings of a lid on the place. Suddenly it looks like a real house!

I got to stand in what will eventually be my new office and see the height of the vaulted ceiling and the incredible view from the double window! Can't wait to be working from THERE every day.

The subfloor for the great room has been completed and it's time for us to select fireplaces and the deck/porch floors. Who knew that Trex made som many different styles and colors! Stay tuned for updates...progress is fast these days!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Most Important Room in the House

You thought I was going to say it is the kitchen, didn't you? Well, that one ranks mighty high to those of us who like to cook and who LOVE to eat. But the most important room to which I refer is the MASTER BATH! Ours took shape fact, I was able to stand at the "windows" and get some idea as to what the view will be from there.

I also stood in the master closet and could've jumped on my bed had it been in place. I made a cell call from my "office" to make sure I'm still getting service from that spot!

The framing for the basement level is pretty much completed and the space is actual mostly enclosed. The floor joists that were in place on Sunday are now covered in plywood subflooring.

The window selection process was completed today so that our builder could get the Pellas on order. They are BRICK RED with the grilles between the two panes of glass on the front of the house. On the sides and back, there are no grilles at all...just a clear view into the verdant surroundings! Won't be long till we're picking out all sorts of finishes. Heck, I've already got furniture placement fairly well settled in my mind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Skeleton Takes Shape

Despite the periodic downpours and gullywashers ( should see what the weather did to some of the roads in Saddle Ridge last week!), significant progress continued! I drove out yesterday afternoon with low expectations and was more than pleasantly surprised. As we approached the house, we were struck by a sea of floor joists. So many, in fact, that we could no longer stand atop the foundation walls and see clearly down into the basement. Nearly all the framing for the lower level has been completed and nearly all the joists are in for the second (main) level! The place is actually starting to look very much like a house.

We are close to our window color selection. I'm pushing for red windows. Yes, RED! The exterior needs to blend with its natural setting so will be very earth-toney. So, I think we need a little punch of color (yes, too much HGTV again). We'll see.

No camera yesterday, but I will go back and get some updated shots this week. Stay tuned....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We've Been Framed!

Much happened during our vacation last week. The lack of progress has been replaced by steady work in the right direction.

Milestones to report:

1) We have water! LOTS of water! The well is only 300 feet deep and water is flowing at a rate of 30-40 gallons per minute. So, you guests-in-waiting...the shower will be up and running next Spring.

2) We have power! The power line has been run from the pole at the street down to the house. All that construction equipment that has been run off a generator can now be plugged in!

3) Framing has begun! There are studs encasing the exterior lower level and some in place for some of the interior walls.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Just a few final images from our little getaway to paradise and then I promise to stop gloating! If you've never had the chance to visit Maui start making your plans today. It is a magical place with everything to offer...rainforests, volcanoes, beaches, fabulous food, wonderful people...I could go on for days/weeks, but I'll spare you that. The trip from East Tennessee is no day at the beach, but it's worth the effort!

We spent a day taking the "road to Hana" which is a 52 mile stretch of curves, switchbacks and unbelievable views. Then we went snorkeling to Molokini crater and saw the most incredible creatures at home on the coral reefs. Followed that up with a swim with the Green Sea Turtles in the altering, really. This was not a lounge-on-the-beach kind of trip. I didn't finish my first book...we were just on the go constantly.

Later this week we'll get back to the nitty gritty of this blog...THE HOUSE. I haven't been out to the site since we got home so I don't know what to expect. I'll give you all a full report as soon as I have an update. In the meantime, one final Aloha to you all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Days 3 and 4...just your typical Tuesday and Wednesday in my world....only COMPLETELY different! We dodged a bullet when Hurricane Felicia was downgraded to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression. Even the tropical depression missed us, much to the dismay of islanders who desperately needed the rain. We spent most of Tuesday in Lahaina which was sunny and gorgeous even though it was a bit rainy at our condo. We even got a little touch of sunburn! Today was rainy in the morning, but we missed most of it by traveling to the windward side of Maui. After a quick meeting with the awesome folks at the Maui Humane Society we had lunch and went shopping in the surfer/hippie town of Paia. We then drove into the upcountry where the temperature dropped by over 10 degrees in the span of 3 miles! We found lots of great local art galleries and chatted with lots of nice folks before driving back to the condo for gin and tonic on the lanai. The palm tree photo that accompanies this posting was taken from that vantage was tough to put that drink down to take the picture, but I felt obliged.

More to follow. Hold down the fort in East Tennessee...and, know that even though there are lots of wonderful places in this world, there really is no place like home....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

From a Rain Forest to a Volcanic Crater Above the Clouds

Lest our readers fear they have been forgotten, here is my installment for day 2 of the escape to Paradise. The day began with a 5-mile walk along the pristine beach of Ma'alaea Bay. By mid-day we had driven to Iao Valley State Park, home of the Hawaii Nature Center. The park is part of a huge rainforest on the eastern side of the West Maui mountains. It is a breathtaking experience each time I visit. Lunch at Kula Lodge followed and then a truly spiritual experience...a visit to Haleakala Crater. This National Park is akin to Stonehenge in terms of the "energy" instilled in every grain of sand, every volcanic stone, every plant, every bird, every cloud. I have declared that a portion of my cremains be scattered here at some point after my demise (whenever THAT may be!). Awesome. Just, awesome.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program...

Need I say more...there may or may not be any progress being made on the house and at this moment I can't seem to muster up the least little bit of "give a damn"! These are just a few images of the first day on Maui...beginning with sunrise from the lanai and culminating with sunset over the West Maui mountains. There was some great food, lots of stunning vistas and a rainbow or two in between. And now it's a glass of outstanding cabernet on the lanai before turning in for the night. Tomorrow we have to do it all over again...Aloha, y'all!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"It Don't Look Like Progress to Me"

In the immortal words of our friend, singer-songwriter, Jay don't look like progress to me! That's a melodious way of saying we seem to be at a bit of a standstill. All of my friends who have been through this process warned me there'd be weeks like this...weeks in which the milestones were replaced by lots and lots of NOTHING!

We're expecting an electric line, a well and maybe even some framing this week...but as of last night, just before the storm of biblical proportions hit, this week looks a lot like last week...NADA, ZILCH, ZIPPO progress.

I'll attempt to ease the pain with a breif respite on the beautiful island of Maui. There I shall drown my "No Progress Blues" in mai tais and every other rum-filled, paper umbrella laden concoction I can get my hands on.

And when once again I am returned to the doldrums of the mainland, let us hope and pray that progress has resumed.

Meanwhile...aloha to you all!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Floored

Literally....I'm floored! Both the basement and the garage floors are now covered in smooth, beautiful concrete! Here I go again...getting excited about the simplest of things. But every step gets us closer to living in paradise.

Otis and I spent an hour or so out at the site last night and never heard another person or vehicle. As a kid I was always taught to not wish time away, but can next Spring get here any sooner? There are times when life really could use a fast forward button. But I suppose there's something to be said for the beauty of anticipation. So we wait....and wait.....

With concrete in place can framing and a well be far behind? Stay tuned!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Footprints in the Hills

We have rather impressive foundation walls...and plumbing in our basement floor! It's pretty cool to be able to actually see the footprint of the know where my office will be situated and where the bedroom closet will be. The photo to the right shows the front of the house from the "inside" the "T" shape is the front porch and to the left of that is my office.

To appreciate just how impressively high these walls are, take a look at the photo on the left. Ann is only 5'2", but the wall is high. Some of this will be underground (note the waterproofing). But, when you think in terms of our bedroom floor sitting on top of this wall it gives you an appreciation of our treetop view!

Otis enjoyed running around in the "garage", but not nearly as much as he enjoyed running around in the rain and mud (much of which he transferred to the back of my car where I could now plant crops).

We've picked out tub/shower units for the guest bathrooms so y'all can begin making your reservations now! Still much to do...we're looking at exterior paint colors now so we can pick windows, soffits and roofing. Then it's on to all the really tough (but fun), plumbing fixtures, appliances, etc, etc....
Hope to report back next week...looking for a basement/garage floor, a well, and maybe even the beginning of some framing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Wall

It's been a couple weeks since I've provided an update. I had an extended business trip that took me to Wisconsin, Green Bay to be more specific and to Lincoln, NE. After my week in the nation's heartland we took a few days over the holiday weekend (Happy Birthday, Independence!) to travel to the Elk River nestled in the Cumberland Mountains near Winchester, TN. We spent a couple nights camping and a couple days floating down the Elk in a canoe. It was a beautiful part of our state that we had never seen. Really mesmerizing. We saw all sorts of wildlife including a mink who we followed along the bank of the river for several hundred yards. He was a little guy...made me a little sad to think about how many of those it would take to make a damn coat...a coat that looks way better on its original owner. But, I digress...We also got to see some friends and meet some really nice new folks. There was a lot of musical talent in the group so the campfire at night was an experience we won't soon forget.

After more than a week and a half away, I dropped by the home site yesterday afternoon. Amazing! The forms are in place for the foundation walls (house and garage) which will be poured this week. At the far end of the house (the left end if you're facing it) the wall must be 18 feet high! some of that will be underground, of course, but it's impressive how tall the final structure will be. The master bedroom will literally overlook treetops.

It's time to start making some decisions. Tomorrow it's bathtubs for the guest rooms! We have to pick them now so the drains can be roughed in before the basement floor is poured sometime later this week. Shouldn't be too tough, but I have this fear we'll get there and find that there are 75 options. Imagine how tough it will be once we get to the real detail...cabinet hardware, wall colors, faucets, light fixtures...

It's not too early to start praying for water. No, not rain...I know we've had enough this Spring and Summer to last us a while. The well diggers will be coming next week. Wouldn't it be most unfortunate at this late stage of the game to find that we have no water?

Watch for more photos soon! I have to get a new camera to replace the one that went swimming with me in the Elk River on Friday afternoon! Note to self....self: put electronics into sealed plastic bags when floating down ANY body of water.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Getting Excited about the Strangest Things

Never thought I'd get absolutely giddy over a septic tank...but I sort of did.

The lack of substantial progress last week has been completely surpassed by the rather dramatic progress in the first half of this week. Not only has the excavation of the basement been completed (and a substantial, impressive hole in the ground it is -- in the photo to the left, my car is parked in the approximate area of the garage and I'm standing in the basement), but we have drain field trenches and an absolutely breathtaking (in a good way) septic tank! It's like Christmas time...only different.

Now...confession time. It was dusk when we wheeled down the country roads leading to Saddle Ridge so, in the interest of safe, defensive driving I illuminated the headlights on the car. When we arrived at the construction site, I leaped from the car to study the progress and forgot to turn off said headlights. The car is approaching 5 years of age and still cranks with the original battery...well, USUALLY cranks! Last evening the ten minutes of headlight usage pretty well did the old gal in. We were rescued by my daughter and my late father-in-law's jumper cables (he's still looking out for us even though he's been gone these two years). The thought of trying to tell AAA how to get to us was more than I could handle at that hour and, thankfully, Erica called at just the right moment. Within minutes she was on the scene, the car was running and all was well with the world.