Saturday, March 31, 2012

What a Dog.....

Sixteen years is quite a while to spend with someone 
and be able to say that they've never disappointed you or brought anything negative into your life.  

Oh sure, I was exasperated with him more than once and challenged by his stubborn streak a few times but disappointed in him?  Never.

And his choices and actions have yet to give me one speck of sadness, worry or heartache.  What a difference that is from the emotionally charged relationships we have with human loved ones!  

I've often said that the little arrow on top of his head points the way for him.  
Straight ahead. 

Never one to back down or turn away, 
he'd forge ahead with his jaunty step under that white arrow,
 but in recent months he's increasingly unsure of his direction and wobbly. 
Snoozing under the card table

Joe and I have finally come to the decision that we need let him go 
and help that little arrow point him on a path to somewhere that we won't be following right away.   

We'll selfishly take another weekend to delay our heartache.  

Our family will be smaller by one member, 
but oh what a treasure this little bright-eyed fellow has been!  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Handmade Sink from Etsy!

The garage at our temporary home is beginning to bulge with items for the new house.

Yesterday an 18 wheeler brought the Sanijet tub for the master bathroom.

We'll be missing Mr. Biggs for more than just his companionship, because Attagirl couldn't bother barking to tell us that a strange man was wheeling a 6' tub down the gravel driveway and had left his diesel idling on the road in front of the house.  She thinks that every man exists solely for the purpose of throwing tennis balls and rubbing her stomach!  When Mr. Biggs had his hearing he'd never have let that sort of thing slide by without putting us on full alert!

But back to the bathtub, I've never had a whirlpool type tub before so this will be a treat.  The advantage of the Sanijet is that there is no piping to get cruddy since the jets work as sort of venturi nozzles and can be removed and cleaned from the inside of the tub.  I'll let you know how it works after the first bath next fall!

A while back I posted about the oak sideboard that will become the vanity for the hall bathroom and I was psyched when the sink which I had made for it arrived last week!  It's drop dead gorgeous!!!  I may go down to the basement just to wash my hands on a regular basis!

It was made by Diane Simon aka Ceramic Goddess over at Etsy and is prettier than I had thought possible.  Plus she packed it so well that I now have enough spare bubble wrap for the next move!  :)

If you aren't familiar with Etsy, it's a clearing house/marketplace for artists and crafters to sell their handmade items.  Sort of like a craft show via the internet;  the goods range from pottery, quilts, photography, paintings, knitted goods etc.... just about anything handmade you can imagine and also a great deal of vintage goods.  The percentage and listing fees for the sellers are much less than eBay so it seems that more independent artists sell at Etsy than eBay.

It's after midnight and Mr. Biggs is pacing to let me know that it's past his bedtime.  His internal clock is still working fine and he's being pretty insistent!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stone Details.... We're a Small Fish in a Big Pond!

Apologies (and thanks) to friends and family who've been asking why I'm not posting much this month. I've been feeling overwhelmed about house decisions and dreading putting Mr. Biggs to sleep any day now, so it's been easy to put off the blogging.  It's nice to know that people notice and so I'll get back to the grind a more regular routine!

A few weeks ago when Asher was in Italy and Owen was in China, we decided not to let them have all the fun so Joe and I went to Vienna.  Biggs and Atta came along and in three hours we were there.

Vienna, Virginia ..... just west of Washington DC!!!

We drove up to select caps for the tapered column and chimney detail:   the cultured/veneer stone didn't offer anything in the right size and shape, so we needed to use the real deal.

We had thought that the back porch was the only thing stopping progress on the roof, but no sooner was the back porch finished than we realized that until we found the stone for the top of the chimney, the roof still couldn't be completed!  Gracious why didn't any of us foresee this?  Live and learn!

We could have continued the ledgestone all the way to the top,  but if at all possible we wanted to keep the detail that Kevin Harris, our architect had drawn into the plans.

We googled and scoured the internet but found only few sources scattered across the country and these all required a 6 week wait minimum.  Then our internet searches finally led us just up the road to Easy Stone Center in Vienna VA who not only could cut the pieces we needed but were willing to do a quick turn around and have them ready for us in a week.

Afraid to trust the color of our laptop monitors on something so critical, we decided to drive on up and look at the various possibilities in person.
Part of the stone yard.... plus a monster forklift

It was a pretty unassuming place.

But they had some big toys.... this saw blade was over 15' in diameter.

I walked in pleased that we were able to do business in state and thinking that Easy Stone would probably be pretty darn glad to get our custom job.  

With the slow economy and weak building numbers, I assumed that we'd be a fairly decent sized job for them.

Was I ever wrong!   I'm surprised that they even gave us the time of day!

Remember the Virginia earthquake of last summer?  Did you hear about the 22 million dollars of damage to the stonework of the National Cathedral?

Yes, that's one of the many pieces of the Cathedral that Easy Stone is currently working on recreating.

Their robotic carving arm can make a copy within 1/16" tolerance of the original and then the Cathedral stone masons will be able to do the fine finish work.

Despite the fact that our job was small potatoes, we were treated with care and concern.  And true to their word, the stone was ready for us to pick up the next week.

Eighteen pieces of stone weighing 200 pounds EACH needed to be manhandled into place, so the metal roof panels hadn't been installed around the chimney "just in case."

Here's the first course going up.....

And the final reveal.....

And then......  
The final pieces of the roof!!!  
After 10 months, the house is finally watertight!!

It's a mere 12 inches (and "only" 2 tons!) and we may be the only ones who notice, 
but to us it's a crowning touch that says this is a special house!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A New Bed For Atta

I succumbed to the thrill of the deal and bought Atta a new dog bed on the flash sale site
Joss and Main.

I'd never heard of a Luca dog bed before, but the prints were snazzy
and the covers go on and off like a fitted sheet.

At 45" by 33" it's plenty big for our 95 lb sweetheart of a German Shepherd.

That is when she gets to lay in it!

Not that she doesn't want to, but someone else has laid claim. 

And Atta won't ask Her Highness to move!  
Pitiful isn't it?  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

House Progress: A Garage!

After a few days of rain delay last week, we finally bid farewell to the last of the blue film as it disappeared under the metal roof.
Standing seam roofs aren't seen very often in Louisiana, but they're common here.  We aren't building the typical VA farmhouse, but at least we're following tradition with the roofing material!  It was pretty fascinating to see them crimp and join the sections together. 

And joy of joys..... look at the garage going up!!

We had decided to delay the garage construction until we were farther along on the house and had a grasp of how the budget was holding up.  
Of course, we've grasped that we're a bit over budget,   
but there wasn't much sense in waiting, so the walls began to go up!

The detail and architecture of the garage are awesome!  The minute I saw the first sketches of it, I was crazy about it and had my fingers crossed that I'd see it built.   

I'll go so far as to say that I like the exterior of the garage "better" than the house!  It'll be 3 bays with the one on the left for the dually 1 ton truck.  Bernard the Mini will be able to share his space with the lawnmower!  

We never could figure out a way to tie the two structures together.  Between the hillside and the lines of the house, it detracted from both to try and join them together with a covered walkway, so we'll be braving the elements to get from the garage to the house and vice versa.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jordan Road Ride

Today was a balmy day in the 70's with sunny skies and a shimmer of green on the trees about to bud out.  Yesterday I drove an hour south to Roanoke to run some errands and got a sneak peak at the crabapple blossoms which will be headed our way any day now.  The clocks sprang forward at the same time that spring is bursting forth!

Although it was warm today, last week we had our second snow of the year!  It melted quickly and the next morning was bright and clear, crispy but not cold.    

A perfect morning for meeting with friends and riding good horses! 

 We made our way along old Jordan's Road,
climbing gradually for almost 4 miles toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Wendy and Patty used their saws to clear away this tree while Barb and I supervised! 
(Joe and Sarge weren't invited along on this "Ladies Only" ride!)

As we got higher the spotty snow got thicker 

until it was a shallow carpet.   

Up we went until we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway, 
where we stopped to visit and eat lunch in the middle of the pavement. 
We weren't tempting fate:  the Parkway was closed to traffic because of the snow!  

Did you notice what a fine level "trail" we were following?  
Can you see the perfect grade and how it's cut into the hillside so neatly?  

Here's a view showing old Jordan Rd silhouetted across the hillside.  It makes such a gradual climb and is so well constructed that it's hard to believe that it actually makes an ascent up to the top of the Blue Ridge in just a few miles.    

When the road was built in the early 1800's by Colonel John Jordan, it was considered a fantastic accomplishment:  one previously thought to be impossible.  It opened up trade between Lexington and points to the east which had been so close and yet so far away. 

Trade routes were important to Jordan who was involved in nearly all aspects of commerce in the county.  Grist mills, saw mills, foundries, mines, blacksmith shops, etc were all part of his "portfolio" and to further his profits from these businesses,  he built not only several mountain roads but also canals and locks. 

While we were enjoying our ride back down the to our horse trailers, I thought about Colonel Jordan and admired his road building abilities.  And of course, that evening I had to Google him!  If a man could build a road that had survived clinging to the side of the mountain for 200 years, he probably had built a few other things!

Indeed, roads and commerce were secondary to his passions of  architecture and construction. A self taught craftsman, many of Jordan's homes and public buildings are still standing.    

Oh the things you can learn when you Google! 

The literal and figurative heart of Washington and Lee's campus is the iconic red brick and white columned Colonnade, and Jordan was the designer and builder of Washington Hall which stands at its center!  Built in 1824, it was the first Revival style building on campus and it set the tone for the future architectural style of not only the university but also the town.  

Washington Hall is a vital thriving place while old Jordan Rd has become an obsolete pathway.  

I'm grateful to have experienced both places. 

Thank you Colonel Jordan!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

No More IHop!

No longer will the new house be confused with an IHop!  
No strangers knocking on the door at 7am expecting a stack of pancakes!  
See that brown stuff going up over the blue film?  

It's a roof!!

It's been 10 months since the bulldozer began moving dirt and so it has been a long time coming.  

It won't be water tight around the chimney for another week or so since we've had another delay finding stone banding to go around the chimney top.   
But it's progress!!

The Englert metal roofing comes in sheets and is crimped into a standing seam roof.  It's their Dark Bronze color and looks like the copper roofs in the area that age to a dark brown.  

Too bad that we couldn't use copper but it's out of our league price wise... we're doing good to spring for the copper gutters!

Now that the roof is extending out across the back of the house, it looks massive!
Without the porch.... (okay, veranda) it's a nice sized house but not crazy.  
Add on the porch and whoa.... it's big!