Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Gentle Wind

Was rip roaring over the mountain from the less frequent south easterly gale force direction yesterday ahead of the current weathers. Morning light revealed the top of another mighty dead Hemlock placed in the burn pile. I thought I heard something go pop last night. Coming down in pieces may be better than the 80 to 100 foot tall mighty dead Hemlocks toppling over intact. I might want to walk off their distance from the cozy cabin for some peace of mind.

It was a day of foul weathers so I went to the Depot in Asheville to order my thermoplastic 'Fasade' kitchen counter back splash and attend to a few other items. There are numerous minor processes that crop up in the march towards a finished home.

Come spring one of them will be to sort through and eliminate the leftover piles. I am kind of hoping that a small 6 x 8 storage shed will be revealed when I go through all this crap. It could even have a nice tile floor.

Once the finished grading was done I was ready to re-contemplate the first landing on the way to the service entrance. Two more stepping stones will make the landing balanced and another bag of base sand will help with the settling of contents that has occurred over time. The rock steps will also need some reconfiguring.

My stove pipe sewer line also needs some thought. Should it be camouflaged or utilized as a part of a decorative display? I don't really mind its form, color or oddness. The thing about this space the inspector man might object too is the drop off on the left side from the landing level. I don't want a railing. It needs more thought.

Details, details, so many details.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Forgotten Stroll

With such short days and numerous tasks to accomplish the late evening stroll has been neglected of late. I may have also lost interest when everything turned a crispy brown.

The "cherry" brown Minwax wood stain of all the new trim is looking rather fetching though. This process is moving faster than I had anticipated.

So yesterday evening there was time for a short stroll to look at the ridge top garden in its winter decline. Today the weathers are turning and there may be some snow headed this way. The ground is already being littered with storm dropped branches. Now is a good a time as any to start picking them up.

I don't like the thorny Barberries. I prefer not to be stabbed in the garden. I have also learned over the years that if there is one small thorny stem in a huge pile of rubbish, the thorny stem is what you will grab when you pick up the pile of rubbish.

The berries are kind of interesting the way they hang on the stems though. Still, no barberries in the garden to be.

The biggest, oldest and first planted rhododendron in the garden is loaded with flower buds. It is the sole survivor of a boy scout camping incident.

The Pulmonaria is still looking good. This will make a fine plant for early winter interest in the shade garden. Planted in larger drifts it would make a nice showing. By spring they look pretty battered.

Now you can look over and into the back forty. This section of ground could prove most important if the Time of the Potato should arrive. The soil is so soft and full of humus you sink right into it. It also has a very good east/west sun exposure.

Bulbarella has gotten ambitious and starting flinging seeds into the sunnier parts of the back forty. It well could be part of the wild cultivated garden before the Time of the Potato arrives.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Steady Progress

On a frigid day.

The tiny electric heater was maintaining a comfortable 60 degrees inside the cozy cabin. I set the thermostat function at that temperature. Sixty is good. Even going in and out, in and out, cutting, sanding and staining trim, the solar assist today raised the temperature inside to 64. It stayed rather frigid outside.

The little gas furnace intended for the permanent heat source won't have any problem keeping the cabin nice and warm.

Look at that. There are cover plates on some switches and outlets.

Another window is trimmed. And look at that. There are cover plates on some switches and outlets. I'll be ready for lighting in no time. The back splash for the kitchen counter is the next likely process. The back splash is going to be Fasade thermoplastic panels in the Ripple pattern with the Brushed Nickel color.

It's like I am almost finished. It's kind of freaky.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Feel Rime

It turned cold quick when the rain was through. The low clouds, sitting on mountain top clouds, have lingered. Now it is freezing cold. Definitely long underwear cold with the high humidity. Rime is in the air.

When I wake in the morning will the mountains have a white sugar frosting on top?

Either way winter returned today.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Little Art

In the bathroom window. I'll be needing some shrubberies around that gas tank.

A little trim around another living room window. All those outlets in the wall are for the communications center that will live in this corner.

And a big chunk of ham with all the fixins for Thanksgiving dinner with my tree clearing neighbors. I brought roasted beets and parsnips pulled from the roadside vegetable garden this morning. The parsnips were gone before dinner was served. I think they liked them. The golden beets were also very well received.

There is much to be thankful for today and most any day that you take the time to notice.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Home Like

A new morning dawns. I keep plugging away at the list that does not exist. Maybe when the list is potentially shorter, I will have a list.

I just do things that seem reasonable at the moment. On a warm and sunny day it seemed reasonable to remove the giant hornet nest attached to the side of the cabin and caulk under the main girder. The caulk will further seal the cabin's floor from air infiltration aiding the insulation. It will also help keep the small bugs and varmints out.

This was what was inside the hornet's nest turned upside down. It looks like a frosted wedding cake.

The main girder was sanded to prepare it for a coat of primer, but you can see the residue of the hornet nest on the siding above and the column below. The girder is nine and a half inches tall. It was a big nest. Thank goodness nobody was home. It was actually filled with ladybugs who had decided to move into the abandoned property. To bad for them. They'll just have to find another crevice in the cabin to shack up in.

There was cutting, sanding and staining of trim on a nice sunny day too. It was even so warm and pleasant the stain was dry enough in the late afternoon that some of it was put into place. Another window is done.

It's actually looking very home like. Not only that it is looking like I imagined it should so many new mornings ago. I might just be deliriously happy with the results.

The finished electric fixtures, major appliances and kitchen counter are about all that is left before a final inspection for the occupancy permit. Maybe the list is short now if you don't count all the odds and ends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Were They Thinking

I was asked to have a look at a landscape problem at a house on the market from a potential buyer, ie can you plant a vine over this eyesore? I need to know more before I make an offer.

Wow! I have never seen anything like it. A double row of five by five interlocking cement slabs with a texture like tree bark were laid against the slope that was cut for the house construction.

Now a slope and cut like this one is as common as dirt in these hills. And this here is some crummy looking saprolite dirt. Even so, properly mulched and planted it won't go anywhere and I just can't see how these half done huge blocks of cement can be serving any legitimate purpose. The ninety degree cut in the foreground of the slope needs attention. Why aren't there more slabs of concrete there?

I pondered these mysterious blocks of concrete for a while and think I know what can be done with them. The hillside can be saved from this "What were they thinking?" hideousness without just planting a vine over it.

What do y'all think I should do with these huge slabs of cement? I have a plan for them.

It's not unusual when a person is asked to renovate, repair or re-landscape an existing situation to come upon something and ask "what were they thinking"? But that is usually something like why did they plant this tree so close to the house or why did they do the irrigation valves like this or why did they pick that hideous color? I have learned over the years that trying to figure out what a long gone person was thinking is futile and a waste of effort. Other people's thoughts are so much mysterious fog.

But 40 half ton cement slabs plopped on hillside is very unusual. Someone went to a lot of effort to create this monstrosity. What were they thinking?

As long as I will be able to remember and for many of you, my thoughts in building a cabin and planting a garden are there for all the world to read. Hopefully with all your feedback we have avoided any egregious mistakes. There have been compromises and adjustments along the way to deal with circumstances. You aim for perfection and get as close as reality allows. When the time comes to fix something I will know how and why it was made that way.

Two of my doors have some 1/4 inch shimming between the door trim and door frame because the drywall didn't quite match the plane of the door frame. I didn't want to look into the gap at the nasty edge of the drywall so I closed it off. Not perfect, but it did the job.

At least I don't have 20 tons of concrete slabs slapped against my road cuts.

It has been a slow and steady path to a completed cozy cabin high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

What I have been thinking the whole time is soon, soon I will be able to really concentrate on my garden.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Does this Picture

Make the door look fat ... er I mean less white?

What about this choice? I love it with the wall color but what about the white bathroom door?

Here is a better look so you can see what it actually is. This little exercise made the need for some window shades pretty apparent.

The window reflections on glass were pretty bad. I hung this particular Zeszut picture because I have been carrying it around for a friend for at least a decade. I figure if I lay claim to it, he will come a calling and want it back. That will be fine. I am very very short on wall space for the art I have.

Mostly this was a day of errands and paperwork, but I had time at the end of the day to attach the stained trim that was dry. I am loving the trim on the window. It's odd how it can look off on one door, fine on another and gorgeous around the window. Maybe uniformity and matching all the elements of the cabin is good in theory and only 80% effective in practice.

But ya know I am in the total cosmetic phase of the building process now. All of this is as changeable as the plants in a garden.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Between Processes

The stained trim must dry before I nail it to the walls. Twenty four hours is just barely long enough. It is still a bit tacky then, but I am on a mission to cut and stain as much as I can before the weathers turn. I want to avoid staining the trim inside if at all possible. I have a feeling it won't be.

There was extra drying time because the inside portion of the door frame had to be cleaned and painted white first. Strange how this white door with the two windows is not as annoying as the white bathroom door on a painted wall.

Each new detail is often a bit shocking at first. Is this what I wanted? After looking at the cabin one way for so long, a new element takes some getting used to. The trim is rustic to say the least. It is prime choice 1 x 3 sanded and stained cherry to match all the other wood elements. I didn't want any of the thinner, finely milled or fancy trim pieces you can buy off the rack. I hope. I was sticking with the simple clean line concept.

The bathroom is near complete except for the window trim.

That window trim is drying on the rack with the back door trim and some base boards.

In a spare moment, ha, I decided to paint the main girder and short columns - it will be the same Molera Vaquero Red of the main columns - on the driveway side of the cabin only to discover that the damn varmints have been chewing on the wood trying to get inside my house. Damn varmints!! Then I also remembered I need to do some caulking on the seams under there to help keep the damn varmints out.

I looked closer and found some varmint entry holes around a gas line and a ceiling light box under the cabin for the basement patio. They had chewed right through big globs of spray foam insulation in addition to the wood beams they have been gnawing on. Damn Varmints!!

I have a lot of caulking to do that will need to dry before I can paint the main girders. I knew it wouldn't be difficult to find things to do while I waited for the stain to dry.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Should This Door Be Painted?

The interior trim work is now underway. It is a bit tedious requiring several processes to arrive at the finished product. Unplumb walls around two door frames are making a need for some special wood shims that also need to be stained. The doors have to be plumb to open and close correctly. What happens is the frame ends up not being flush with the drywall and big gaps are showing up. The gaps need filling.

Even before the trim can go on around the doors, the door frames need to be cleaned and painted. It is always easier to paint before another layer is added that needs to be painted around.

So I painted the bathroom door frame white like someone wanted. They wanted the bathroom door to be white because the front and back doors are white. They are white now anyway. Now the new white door frame has black fingerprints on it from attaching the trim.

But I wonder, should this door be painted another color? What do you think ? Yes or no? If yes what color? There's another poll in the right sidebar.

The Poll Results were:
Yes 19 votes
No 4 votes
You need to get a life 2 votes

I may be just a bit cranky and tired. All the processes yet to come are rolling around in my head and making me feel a bit overwhelmed and that is just ridiculous at this point. I'm almost done big picture wise.

Lately I have also been busy raking acres of leaves and that is the likely cause of being a bit tired. There are people who do not like leaves on top of their clean mulch. I get paid to move them elsewhere. This garden alone approaches a full acre top to bottom and is surrounded on all sides by forest.

There are far too many leaves to effectively blow them away. A five foot swipe with a rake creates a pile too big to really blow. Being wet doesn't help either. So I rake big piles, gather them in a sheet and dump them back in the forest. The blower comes out for the final attempts at spic and span.

In between leaf rearrangement and fall cleanup of shrubs and perennials for the clients I cut, sand and stain wood trim starting with the difficult doors. It will get easier with the windows, baseboards and ceiling trim.

This side of the door can stay white. Or I should say this side of the door can be painted white. Yes it needs to be painted. My perfectionism requires all dings, dents and imperfections to be well hidden. I have to wear glasses to see what I am doing so I see every little imperfection during the building process. Once it is all put together I don't need glasses to walk around. Then it will all fade away into perfection.

Like a perfect sunset. There must be infinite ways for a sunset to be perfect.

There are bound to be few ways to make the trim work perfect enough for eyes without glasses.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Those Mums I Mentioned

Back on a wet, cold and rainy Bloom Day there was mention of some mums spotted in full bloom down in the sunny utility meadow. The sunny utility meadow currently looks mostly like this so those mums were like beacons of color.

A couple of years ago the resident gardeners went to the Arboretum when the Mum Festival was being held and came home with an assortment of unknowns to plant.

They have survived two winters now and the plants do seem to be increasing in numbers.

There are some interesting blooms in the lot. Sadly they are behaving like long stem roses sending up tall long stems with mostly single blooms that proceed to fall over long before they even open. I pinched them in the spring. Once was obviously not enough.

The new assortment of mums in the sunny utility meadow are of the ultra fancy show variety and definitely need more care than they are getting in a wild cultivated garden.

They are still here and blooming though. That is something that can be said for them.

So I looked at mums while waiting for wood satin to dry. Here is the trim for inside and outside of the bathroom door and most of the baseboard and ceiling trim in the bathroom. It got cut. Then made sure it fit. My unplumb wall means the bathroom door trim needs some stained shimming too. Then it was sanded and stained.

Now I wait for it to dry before putting it up. I suppose that takes at least 24 hours. I can cut and sand more boards. I just need another drying rack or another process to work on while waiting for wood stain to dry. It shouldn't be hard to come up with something. Uh oh, multi-tasking. That could be a problem.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just One Puff

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The weathers have been cold and wet and very, very windy - totally miserable. It may even be time for long underwear. It is perfect weathers for planting new baby trees however and that is what I did this morning before making the first steps at trim work inside the cabin.

This is one of two Redbud trees that fell out of the ground at work yesterday. I tagged all the new trees just to be on the safe side for the logging cleanup work that still needs doing. And so I wouldn't forget where they were.

Two small Dogwoods were also dug up from the ridge top garden and moved to new homes.

My new Bosnian Pine, Pinus leucodermis, is looking perky. I went to get another. I want to avoid the one of this and one of that kind of garden and they were all gone. I'll have to wait until spring when they get more in. Boo and hiss.

I am reforesting the garden to be with the intent of some evergreen screening from the scenic byway. Winter interest will be an added bonus of that. The Dogwoods and Redbuds will add an understory canopy to the taller trees and bloom in the spring, something that had been lackluster before with the short lived apples and nasty, thorny Hawthorn in this section of forest.

Like I need more trees. But this is the forest and it will be a forest garden. DW is where the Dogwoods are. RB is where the Redbuds were planted. P is for pine. I need one more at this end and at least two more in the overall garden space. BB is for bamboo and three pots of a clumping type, Fargesia rufa, were planted at the base of the slope below the byway earlier this year. There are also three rhododendrons in there and perhaps a few other things as well. There's still room for more.

Right where that big pile of brush is that needs to get burned is where I am thinking of a grouping of the Lacebark Pine and I'm just going to have to see if Ilex opaca, American Holly, will survive up here. To the right just out of the picture is where the Curly Willow will go. There will be room for more all around this evergreen grouping. I want evergreen screening, I just don't want a hedge. I'm going for strategic placement coupled with patience and the thought that my hardy peasant stock will increase the chances that I live to see this screen grow in.

That's how a garden grows in mid November high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

Excuse the raindrops in The View. The wind was howling and I took the picture from inside. But it didn't snow and the grounds not froze. I may get more planted before the year is done. Now let's see, there was that Viburnum and a Deutzia. I bet I could find more rooted rhododendron stems and ......