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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

Well...we're into that phase of construction where the excitement of the initial movement of dirt has been replaced by the anxiety of the lack of rapid progress. Last week was a bit of a wash (in some ways one can take that comment literally...there were daily storms of biblical proportions). Not much happened. It's a sign of the times...the excavating contractor has laid off so many people that when the fellow digging our basement took off on vacation there was nobody to take his place on our job. He worked hard right up to the bitter end (including a long, hot Saturday)...then the earth moving machines sat silent for the better part of a week.

Not all was lost. The driveway got "cleaned-up" as did all the brush, tree tops, tree stumps, etc. We're hoping for actual gravel on the driveway today (although the monsoon doesn't seem to be abating). On Saturday evening we drove down our driveway for the first time and parked in what will eventually be our garage! That was pretty exciting and almost made up for the lack of progress.

Let's hope for a better, more productive week this week! I'm ready to move in and the hole in the ground isn't even finished yet!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Turtle

I'm normally not much of a believer in omens. But, I'm starting to look for some meaning in our encounters with a box turtle EVERY time we visit our construction site. The first time we saw her we just thought it was cool. Every wildlife sighting is awe inspiring for us regardless of how big, small, impressive, or understated. She was standing in the midst of the recently excavated driveway and appeared far less impressed with us than we were with her.

The next day (Friday), there she was almost the same spot. Knowing there would be large machines moving large amounts of dirt/rock early the next morning I moved her into the woods for her own protection.

On Saturday morning our builder brought his son to the site. He found the old turtle and moved her into the woods yet again.

And last night when I went out to begin the process of turning fallen trees into next year's firewood...lo and behold there she stood again.

Hopefully this doesn't just mean that we've plowed her home under during the excavating process and she's looking for it. But, what does it mean?

It brought back to mind a children's book tucked away on our bookshelf and mostly forgotten. So, last night I pulled it out and re-read it. Old Turtle is the voice of reason who convinces all the people and all the elements of the earth to respect one another and to find God in everything. Pretty profound for a silly little children's book.

Pick it up's a great refresher course in the way we should view the world and each other. And, hopefully it's a good omen, as well!

P.S. The rhododendrons are blooming and they are quite a sight! It was too dark for a great photo, but I'll try to get something a little better on my next visit.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Update

While it may not seem like anything to get that excited about... for us having a hole in the ground and a driveway made Saturday feel like Christmas! After the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra concert in Cades Cove to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we drove back up to Saddle Ridge and were besides ourselves with joy. Dirt and rocks had been taken out of what will be our basement and had been placed on our brand new driveway!

OK...sorry...I promise no further updates until there is something a little more thrilling for the rest of you to read!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Path of Destruction

We've tried pretty hard to send our builder over the brink by discussing each of the trees on our property as though they are our children. It feels a bit like deciding which ones get to stay in the life raft and which have to be tossed overboard to keep it from sinking. After much debate, many trips to Saddle Ridge, and umpteen walks down the proposed path of the driveway...we're off and running.

The excavating crew started work on Wednesday (6-10-09). We have a "driveway"...well, not really a driveway, but a path of destruction representing progress! We were able to snake out a path between ALL the large hardwood trees. Several smaller ones and a few stands of mountain laurel gave their lives for the cause. And there was one pine tree, but for some reason it's really hard to get worked up about a pine! Why do you suppose that is? Am I some sort of tree bigot? The result is a meandering drive through the woods to our as yet invisible dream home. Way more fun than some boring straight shot driveway established with total disregard for the land and the trees!

The spot where the house will eventually be built is almost completely cleared, as well. There is a substantial oak tree graveyard on the property. I think the count stands at 7 mature trees that had to go. But...the good news??? Looks like we'll be able to have the oak logs milled into lumber to use for kitchen cabinets or other projects within the house itself. Makes Ann and I both feel a little better about having to sacrifice them.

Jason, our builder, thinks we're looking at about three days total for excavating. Thanks to lots of rain and some really scary storms, the three days may stretch across a span of several more days. But, it'll get done.

Progress is exciting. After walking that little piece of land for more than three years it is surreal to see things happening now...and happening relatively quickly! I called my bro-in-law last night from the muddy path of destruction just to make sure it was really happening and that I wasn't just having some sort of fatigue-induced out-of-body experience!

The photos will still be boring to most folks for now. Unless you are intimately familiar with this piece of ground, they won't mean much to you. I think my favorite depicts the "air-space" above the home site. Instead of the blue sky being filtered through treetops, it's wide open! Strange, but beautiful in its own way.

Stay tuned....