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Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Morning In Pokeberry

Well its quieter here, our guests left and I am sitting enjoying a cup of Joe and listening to a lone song bird calling its mate from one of the tall dark hedges in the backyard. It is 53' this morning here in Charlotte. Not quite as warm as yesterday morning,61'. but all in all quite nice. We're overcast, cloudy and misty again as we were most of the past few weeks.

My breathing is significantly improved but my airways are crazy sensitive. I am coughing over little odors now--frying oil, fabric softener... My nose seems very sensitive on steroids--I could actually smell the water in my shower from outside the shower curtain! I've never smelled so well. I guess my nasal pasages must be improved by the steroids--what is funny is the little pang in my side that was the original cause of all the crazy testing I had done last summer--which they never really pinned it down-- has also improved dramatically on the prednisone! What a funny thing. I was thinking all along it was a sort of inflammation and although they never found it in all the tests, instead finding other things.. I always still felt it there.Well my RX is used for inflammation--and by golly it worked. Now it is improved accidentally--and I guess temporarily as I know I won't be on this medication long. Sigh.. well that's a little frustrating I guess.

I'm still coughing some--still not all I'd like to be--disappointed that I can't go traipsing around in a new construction building all day with all the dust and such like in the air. Actually I am :( Pouting even over that.

At the same time I am very happy with what has been done the past week. The house looks 100% better with the foundation cleaned up and a coat of paint in the basement and the Seller has been there with some help the past two days actually making a dent in his mess! His son tells me they do expect to get it all off there--but boy--its still a bit difficult to believe that. I'm thrilled by every bit that is moved away. Perhaps we were too hasty to think he was going to leave it all--but it took him an awful long time to get this going, so it seems reasonable for us to have been concerned.

I have some small chores to do today--one is to figure out who does the electric service for our new place and get it put it in our name. The other is to get a few groceries--or at least a menu plan for the week and know if I need anything--as I may not. Well I do need a new bottle of Tide--but other than that--I think I'm in pretty good shape. I also need to have a good dinner on.

Besides my small chores and regular pick up, I am going to spend time today planning what to grow at the new place. I need to find some plants that I could wintersow from seeds and use as ground covers to slow down erosion.

We have some drainage issues we need to work out eventually--there are some temporary fixes in place that the Seller has done. The house is on a hill and slope and the entire neighborhood shows some erosion as does our lot. There is alot of water and the red clay shows through in too many places.

I need some good soil grabbing aggressive groundcovers that can handle Southern Summer heat,and possible drought, as well as red clay/sand soil and lots of water coming downhill at them. I also want the plants to be attractive and low growing mainly and possibly able to hold their own against things like wild blackberries, and also to maybe be aromatic--herbal in nature--so as to deter some insects and just be pleasant to walk through.

Eventually I want to make some paths and do more with gardening the slope, terracing maybe and such like--but for now I need some roots in the ground pronto and at as little cost and work as possible. So I have some homework to do.

That will be pleasant to do. I got a little start last night and was pondering using some plants in the mint family. Maybe pennyroyal, lemon balm, tansy... things that also deter mosquitos and ants--'maybe'. (I take that insect deterring ability with a grain of salt--I know those bugs aren't that impressed by mints in reality)

If I am not too busy and up to it I may drive out to the new place and bring some of my plants there. I was thinking I could plant my gardenia and my camellia there. :) Dunno.

It may not yet be time for me to do that. I had a better night but was still up coughing some--but I was at least in my bed not in the recliner--so things are improving.

In any case I think a quiet at home day is good, tomorrow I work and although it was great to have company its also nice to have the place back to normal, perhaps I will just enjoy that. ;)

It seems as if winter is calming down for us, I know that's premature--but I am heavily thinking of planting. I'd like to get some plants started in milk jugs and pop bottles--as mini-green houses. That is the winter sowing way. I did that a couple years ago and it worked very well. Here in the Carolinas I could literally start most of our garden in the next two months that way. Then when planting time comes I'd have a huge amount of inexpensive seedlings grown in containers outside to transplant into beds or on the hillside.

I really can't do much at the house right now, it is not time to do the insullation and dry wall--but we are getting closer. I'm worried that I may not be much help with that either--if my lungs don't cooperate. If they are well enough I will use a mask and do my best to help when the time comes.

We are on the way, well on the way. Hubby and #2 Son have the plumbing just about finished and are nearly done with the wiring too--but they have also been fixing problems. Its like peeling an onion when you get going- of course. There were problems that the inspectors missed--things Hubby wants to fix now before we get wallboard up.

They've added a new support in the basement, they jacked up the house and actually replaced a board with a more substantial one. On the first floor a window has been straitghtened and a section of wall reinforced and another window and a door are in line to have the same treatment. There was some bowing--possibly due to weather but Hubby thinks the Seller/builder just didn't put quite enough support in some spots to prevent it.

The framework for a large closet has been removed from the Master bedroom--as we just wanted a big tub not an extra closet in there. ;) (a garden tub with jets! for me!)

They have just 'gone to town' getting things done--I'm amazed. They insulated and sealed with wood peices all along the top of the basement wall and did some repair to the large walkout door in the basement. They also did some repair on the front of the house, trimming the tyvek (?--that stuff you put up under the siding for weather protection during construction--we have some siding up, but also some 'tyvek')
The wrapping (tyvek) was kind of ratty looking across the front of the house--having been there a while. They also added in some boards that were missing. I'm just amazed. I forgot to take my camera when I was there yesterday though!!!! UGH!

There have been quite a few burn piles on the property--each one clearing a great deal of dead brush and old wood. It all just is looking much tidier--though behind the house the Seller still has much to do on his part, thankfully it does appear its getting done.

Even with all this done however I am struck that there is a LOT of work left to be done and I am ever mindful of the budget. The big bad B word. We need to bring this in on a pay as you go basis.

Some ways we are cutting our upfront costs is we are going to compromise for a while on the furnace. We will buy the least pricey furnace we can for now and hope to get something better later. That means no central air for now. So-- window AC units will need to be used. Hopefully we'll find a good deal on those--maybe on Craig's list where I expect to buy all my appliances. I'm not worried about this. We just need to do it this way. Once we move into the house we will not have to be paying out over a $1000 a month on rent--that will then be put toward improvements on the house. Another thing we will do without for a while is probably nice flooring. So be it.

Evenutally this will all be nice, it will be a long time though. I'm fine with it. It is mine!

Something we noticed out in our neighborhood is one of the neighbors has been piling up a HUGE amount of wood furniture and boards and such like. At first I was a bit concerned about it. I thought this neighborhood looked pretty tidy so it seemed much nicer than most of the places we've looked at in the price range we could afford--this giant pile gave me a start. I am relieved though now as I have found out that it is a Tradition in South Carolina to celebrate the New Year 'Hogmanay' in a Scottish fasion with large bonfires and torch light parades. That's kind of interesting. Looking about I noticed that there are piles in various other yards along the highway too--though none quite as large as my enthusiastic neighbor. I wonder what sort of blaze that will be. Luckily the fire department is less than 2 miles down the highway. ;)

There are many people in the south that have Scotch or Irish roots also South Carolina has lots of folks who descended from folks that came from Pennsylvania. They even named places after places in Pennsylvania--like Lancaster. I always love to learn about new places I'm going.

One of my old favorite quotes that I have kept for years and wrote in my journal the winter we moved to Fargo North Dakota was this:


"The surest road to contentment would be by gaining friendly acquaintance with the new environment." ~Melvin Gilmore, author of 'Use of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region', 1914

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