Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carl Rice makes me want to blog

I'm sure he hears that all the time. Sike. The man has neither a cell phone, nor an answering machine, nor a listed phone number. If you need to talk to him, you either need to catch him first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening, or you need to go find him, which is the best option. He tells a hilarious story about a lady who came to find him once when he was running his sawmill, as he frequently does, up on Spring Creek. The lady needed some logs milled, and she asked Carl for a business card. "Ain't got business cards," he told the her. She decided that was OK- she would just look up his number in the phone book. "I ain't listed in the phone book," he replied. The lady got all aggrevated and bothered by this. "How am I supposed to get in touch with you?" she demanded, to which Carl informed her that she had already managed to find him and was indeed standing there talking to him right there. The lady didn't like something about that and stormed off in a huff, never to return again. The man is, respectfully, old fashioned and probably not worrying himself with the lastest communication technologies, like blogging. And he tells the story about the lady with a special twinkle in his eye.

Lady luck smiled upon me yesterday evening when I arrived from Asheville hauling a trailer load of large black locust logs. Let me mention that I have never hauled a trailer load of anything before, let alone in a trailer loaned to me by a man I only met twice. But, thanks to the generosity of "BL" (one of our favorite landscaping clients) and Lee's Trees, I was hooked up with some awesome logs and a trailer to haul them on after Lee and his crew took down "BL's" tree. Lee's guys cut it and loaded it all up for me with their machine and Lee himself helped me hitch the trailer onto the rusty ball of Dad's truck*, and I was off (crossing my fingers and driving very slowly). (*There was some question for a few minutes as to whether the size of the ball matched the size of the hitch. A climber named Rick said to Lee at one point, "Her ball's too big!". Lee paused a moment, looking through his reflective sunglasses, and replied, "Sounds like a personal problem.")

Lady Luck escorted me to Sapling Mountain, where I was fortunate to find Carl and JD, who were standing by the barn like angels in the evening sun. I exhaled my tension from the drive, and settled into feeling comfortable and lucky and relieved. Carl and JD gave me an appropriate amount of teasing, whilst aptly unloading the logs and staging them for Carl to mill next week. I am thinking of 6x6s for deck posts, or something along those lines.

The afternoon sun graced the golden brown cows, which Carl said were "Limosines," as well as the hay barn and the church.

Later I went up to my place to unload the rest of the smaller locust poles, and I discovered a spider on the forehead of the blessed virgin. Wowzers!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Spring has entered as a lion this year (maybe like that yellow mountain lion my neighbor saw walking through his yard a month ago). For me it started with the sudden and unexpected passing of my dear friend David "Stewball" Ackley, who I considered like a brother and who is missed terribly. My mom and I travelled to Des Moines, Iowa the last week of February for the memorial, leaving behind early spring-like weather here in NC to journey into the wrath of Midwestern late winter. We travelled through driving, blinding rain, snow and icy roads, wind, lightening, more rain, and the densest fog I have ever experienced in our 3 1/2 day trip to and from Iowa.

The reason for the expedition was very sad and tragic, but there was a bright moment in the whole thing, which was a firsthand visit and private tour of the workshop of the nation's best Braille writer repairman, who happens to be the father of my friend who passed.

Braillerman (aka Alan Ackley) is a special someone who knows his stuff. You can read all about him and his story (which I highly recommend that you do) by clicking the link attached to his name. Basically, in a nutshell, he began his career in 1974 in the accounting department for the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Part of his training was to learn Braille and to learn how to use Braillers. (Another part of his training was to become "blinded" with a blindfold and go through the day that way for several weeks- he even walked to work with his blindfold on!) He immediately took an interest in the mechanics of the Brailler, and took his loaner Brailler apart one night. The next day he returned it, but he had put it back together a little wonky, and the librarian noticed (and became a little aggrevated.) However, he was given that Brailler to learn on, and allowed another to do his assignments on, and thus began the lifelong career of Braillerman! Alan has been repairing Perkins Braillers from his home for over 35 years now, and he is the best there is.

The thing that touched me the most about Alan's (Braillerman's) operation was the passion and integrity he brings to his work. He has been servicing Braillers from all over the country and beyond for years and years, and I can tell he treats each one with equal care and respect. He is kind and generous with his clients and simply loves what he does. It is so very specialized almost seems random for a man who is neither blind nor has any blind family members, but knowing Alan, I know that he is one of the fortunate humans among us who has found his perfect niche in life. Being the nation's best Braillerman is a job that seems custom-designed for Alan, and he does it oh-so-well.

It is my wish for myself and for all those I love that we may be lucky enough in our lifetimes to find what it was that we were made to do. When I meet someone who is doing something perfectly fit for him or her, it gets me really pumped up and inspired.

Thanks many times over to Alan for opening his home and AWESOME Braillerman shop to me!

Friday, March 11, 2011

You'd think it would be simple

For the sake of partnering natural light maximization with energy efficiency, I spent an arm and a leg on new windows for the house. For that reason, I find myself pig-headedly determined to preserve my so-called other arm and other leg by acquiring doors for the house at a discounted price. For the past two rain days, I have hit up salvage and overstock building materials places such as the Habitat thrift store, Blue Ridge Salvage (on Johnston in Asheville), and Home Discount Warehouse (discount, my ass...) Yesterday I fueled up the Lil' Nugget and drove her on over to Greenville, TN to pay a visit to locally renouned "Bargain Salvage."

I'll stop the story here for a little commentary. You'd think it would be simple. Just drive over to Greenville, enjoying the scenery along the way, march into the warehouse, look at the doors, see if any of them fit the description of what you are looking for, and buy them or not...

Well, the drive over was pretty simple. I enjoyed the scenery, cruising alongside the rushing and muddy Little Laurel River on 208. I saw an otter standing on a tiny section of rock sticking out of the rushing river. It braced itself with its head down and then dove into the rapid. Bottom fields lay dormant along the road, but not for long as the weeping willows have already leafed out and everything else is budding strong. I stopped and marvelled at raging chocolatey water rushing over a dam as I entered Greenville; mist hovered over the powerful whirlpool below, and the whole thing was scary and lovely. I detoured through downtown Greenville, enjoying the rain and the weird little aspects of the small east Tennessee city.

I found my way to Bargain Salvage and purused the ample door selection, taking note of the sizes and whether they were left or right handed. I realized I didn't quite have quite the mental grasp I wished I did of what right or left handed doors meant, so I had to stand there for a long time walking and talking myself through the mechanics of it all, while trying to visualize the house and its doorways. I mean, I did that for kind of a long time. I got myself good and hungry and anxious and all turned around. I mean, after all, what do I know about doors and which ones to buy? Somehow, the whole thing didn't seem very simple at all anymore. I decided to go sit in the truck and eat my bag lunch and study on the whole thing for a while.

I sat in the truck for a good long while, ate the food and thought on the doors. Even after infusing my blood with good sugars from my cold spaghetti, and making a couple of cell phone calls to consult with trusted North Carolinians, I still didn't know which way was up when it came to those darned doors. It's funny, both "ha ha" and "peculiar," how a little hunger coupled with some old fashioned decision making can turn a simple situation into something downright complicated and confusing. All kinds of questions swirled themselves into tense, stressful knots in my head, causing a head ache and a bad mood to ensue. I sat in the car asking god: What is a crappy door? What is a good door? What is a steel door? What is in there? Will the window in that door suck? Where was the door made? Can you paint a door? Does a painted door look stupid? Can the door be trusted? Will the windows in the doors break on the way home if I buy them? Will the doors be open a lot in the summer? Where will the people be sitting when the doors are opened? Who will the people be?

This is the point where it is wise to step away. Just pack up the spaghetti stained tupperware and call it a day. When the questions start swirling around like that, and a lot of them are irrelevant to the situation, and the others can't be answered on site, it is best to leave it alone. Luckily, the Bargain Salvage employee man, although he couldn't give me a brand name or a source of the doors in question ("I don't know ma'am- our framer guy just gits 'em and frames 'em up for us"), allowed me to place a hold on the items for a few days. That way, if I so choose, I can return soon, with a clear mind and padded blankets, to purchase the steel doors of mysterious origin, which CAN be painted and WILL NOT look stupid.

My neighbor Greg, who recently moved into the house he has been building for years, is fond of informing me of some average number number of decisions a person makes when building a house. It is in the tens of thousands. God help me Daniel Boone, I'm chipping away at them one by excrutiating one.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Because you asked so nicely

I started this blog to practice using my words, not my camera, but here I go today, relying on the beast which is digital technology to relay to you, my fine readers, the latest on the home front. The windows are in, and the upstairs lofty bedroom/office/awesome hang out room kicks arse! I will write again. I repeat, I will write again. But I leave you, for now, four pictures:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jack, the Baron, and some liquid gold

You know, I'm partial to a little hot toddy anyways this time of year, but yesterday, when one of our landscaping clients gave us some of the honey from their well loved and tended bees, I couldn't help make an evening of it. I was tickled pink to be able to formulate a special tonic from the pre-digested and potentized amber gold, the product of the combined labors of the honeybees and their human accomplices, the flowers, the Dirty Hoe, and Mother Nature herself. It was very gratifying to eat the honey from the flowers that we planted and tend. So, while I was at it, I went whole hog- cooked me up a 4 cheeser from the Red Baron, which I know isn't the finest quality frozen pizza, but I have what you might call a "thing" for them. My definition of a tonic is broad- something that promotes health of body and spirit. Sometimes just settling in and eating dinner the easy way (aka a gross but enjoyable frozen pizza) is more relaxing and restful and just what Doctor D ordered. And topping it off with a local honey toddy with a squirt of lemon and 2 jiggers of Jack- now that's what I was talking about last night. Bona fide tonified.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pretty Exciting

I'm too tired to write, although I have plenty to say. For now, I will leave you with a picture of the house at it's beginning of spring stage.

Also, I never tire of gazing upon this fine lumber that Carl cut for me...

Before too long this siding will go up on the house. Imagine that!