Happy Spring! Although, it feels like we’re quickly approaching summer here in North Carolina. The trees have been fully open for nearly two weeks, and the flowers began blooming in early March. Seed planting still doesn’t occur until after Easter though because we get 20-30° splits between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
Quite a bit has happened since my last update in mid-February. In the interest in saving time, mine and yours, this post going to take a different format. Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last three-months:
- Annual Ski Trip to Colorado
- It was so fun to spend time with my adventurous and carefree friend, Heather. I love seeing her because she brings out my fun, fly-by-the-seat of my pants side. We always pick right back up where we have left off as well, which is the sign of a great friendship. I was so happy to be able to meet her 1-year old for the first time too.
- I really improved my skiing this year, and I’m excited to get back out there next year.
- We also finally visited the Breckenridge Troll.
- A New Hobby
- I began stationary swaps and writing to penpals in Sweden, Switzerland, Scotland, and New Zealand.
- Kitchen Tile
- Andy began the arduous process of stripping the wax off the ceramic tile in the kitchen. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do it that doesn’t involve harsh chemicals and a ton of elbow grease with a paint scraper. I lost count of how many different ways we tried to remove the wax. We even went to Home Depot looking for a machine to rent to speed up the process. If anyone has suggestions, throw them our way! Also, let this be a lesson to never use Mop & Glo. I’m not sure what the past owners were thinking.
- Driveway Repairs
- Between February and March we had a couple repairs done to the main driveway that we share with our neighbor. The road had gotten pretty rough over the past year. It had a few large potholes and some deteriorating edges. We also wanted to improve the drainage. We had the drains cleaned out, and riprap installed all along one side. Prior to that, we had the edges and patches filled in. It’s much better now, though we still would like to repave it.
- More Electrical Work
- In re-configuring the electrical panels to re-balance the load and add a generator, the electrician and Andy discovered the house had no main electrical shut off. It took a bit of time to gather all of the parts (two new panels, wiring, breakers, etc.), and align everyone’s schedules. We had to schedule the power company to shut off the power in the morning, have the electrician complete the work, and then have the county inspector give the go-ahead for the power company to turn the power back on – all the day before we had company arriving!
- During this process, we really saw how much power the vintage 1970s hot water heater was consuming. While testing the generator, the heater killed the generator all on its own. More on that later…
- I took Andy to our local Waffle House after I found out he had never been to one. I know. I was shocked too.
- Foothills Humane Society
- I’ve continued to volunteer at FHHS. It has been incredibly rewarding to walk, work, and spend time with shelter dogs.
- Meg came to visit us all the way from Vermont! I tried to pack a lot into her visit. We took her to Greenville for dinner after picking her up. The first night was eventful as storms rolled in, we received an alert to shelter in place for a potential tornado, so we all sat in the basement for a bit. We visited an Landrum Eclectics antique shop, where she got to meet Iggy – the first dog I walked when I started volunteering at FHHS. We painted pottery, and I showed her around my new town. We also visited two wineries – there are quite a few, and we hadn’t explored any yet. And, of course, we took her to the top of White Oak Mountain in our backyard for the spectacular views.
- Silver Twinkies
- An Airstream rally trotted into Tryon, and we got to tour several, which was really fun.
- Concert at The Spinning Jenny in Greer, SC
- To kick off the season, we chose to stay somewhat locally since we hadn’t been out in the RV since last summer. We camped at Twin Lakes Campground near Clemson University in South Carolina. Unfortunately it rained quite a bit, and was too cold to take the kayak out. We ended up cutting the trip short a day due to a forecast for severe storms with hail and tornado potential. We had a beautiful site though. I’d definitely go back.
- For our second trip, we went to Ragland Bottom Campground in Tennessee. This campground is a hidden gem to many locals. It’s very clean, scenic with lake views, a boat ramp , and a swimming beach, but unfortunately, unless you can get on/in the water (it was still too cold), there’s not much else to do. We had an evening storm one night, and it got down into the 30s most of the time we were there. We enjoyed some down time away from house projects though.
- Homie Roam-o (RV)
- We deep cleaned the RV inside and out after our last camping trip.
- Prior to the second trip, Andy installed a soft start for the AC.
- Another Concert
- Goodbye Water Heater!
- Andy removed the dinosaur of a water heater we had, and replaced it with an instant hot water heater. We’re already seeing a HUGE difference in our energy consumption.
- Yard Work, Yard Work, and More Yard Work!
- Now that most of our interior projects are complete (for now), we really began focusing on the yard and flowerbeds.
- We have aerated and over-seeded the lawn. Andy diagnosed and fixed leaks in the sprinkler system. We started planting flowers, seeds, and some shrubs. We also put down a lot of river rock along the side of the garage, and also on the other side of the sliding glass doors in the breezeway. We did a lot of leaf clean up ourselves, but found old stashes of leaves pushed under trees & bushes, so we hired a landscaping company to help. We have both done lots of weeding, and Andy’s been attacking invasive species on our property such as the English ivy, kudzu, and muscadine grapes.
- We had 3 cubic yards of dirt delivered, and began putting it down in the built-in flowerbeds, as well as filling in low spots in the yard.
- We just ordered 20 tons of river rock to begin building our back patio.
- Andy built a nice partition around our visible AC unit.
- After hearing from the contractor who installed our garage doors that our house looked like it was designed by locally famous architect Rufus Holland Brady Jr. (1925-2013), we did some research online about the architect and his work. We saw many similarities in our house and the homes we found online. I emailed the historical society months ago to see if they had a list because they have honored Brady both many times in life and death and seemed well apprised of his work. However, I didn’t receive a reply. In a chance encounter over a beer at The Bottle in Tryon, we met Brady’s nephew and a real estate agent. After talking to both gentleman about the house and showing them pictures of our home, they both were pretty confident it was one of Brady’s designs. The real estate agent directed us to Brady Trakas Architecture just a few blocks away. We recently visited the firm, and they confirmed our house was on their internal registry of Brady‘a work. They promised to pull the plans and call us so we can look at them ourselves and have re-prints made.
- Flora & Fauna
- We’ve spotted quite a few new (to us) birds on our property like the rose-breasted grosbeak, ovenbird, eastern towhee, and blue grey gnatcatcher.
- Stevie also alerted us to a coyote up near the house one morning.
- We had our first hummingbird of the season on 31 March.
- The Carolina chickadees and the eastern blue birds fought over the nesting box for about a month. We thought the chickadees had won, but then the blue birds recently swooped in and stole it. The female just began laying eggs earlier this week. We just picked up another box at the Earth Day festival hosted by Conserving Carolina, the organization under which much of our property is protected through. We may decrease the size of the hole, so that it’s primarily for the chickadees.
How’s Stevie Mix?
Stevie is doing great! She really enjoyed both camping trips, and has been enjoying the beautiful spring weather. We have a small bird feeder out back – something cheap I picked up from the Dollar Store in case the bear comes back and destroys it. So, the increased activity, and close proximity, of the chipmunks and squirrels have really kept her on guard. Though, she was VERY disturbed by the presence of a luna moth recently.
In mid-April we did have a bit of a scare though. Stevie’s left shoulder swelled pretty significantly after a lyme vaccination. I was pretty worried, but the vet advised the swelling should subside, to give it some time, but continue to to monitor it. It took about 3-weeks to go away, and it didn’t seem to bother her at all while it was swollen.
In the coming months we have more visitors scheduled, a trip to see my brother and his family, as well as a fall trip to Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.