Monday, September 27, 2010

We've only just begun. . .

OMG! In just one week, all this was accompolished and it is mind boggling. Mind you, I thought everything was moving fast when we returned from the beach and saw all the trees and brush that had been removed in one week! (Take a look at my last post to compare, if you don't believe me.) This is what we saw on Saturday, a mere five days later!

     I had originally thought all the trees surounding the point were to be taken down but H and I decided we didn't think all of them needed to go as long as the view wasn't obstructed. So, in order for us to make the final decisions about trees, before all the tree removing equiptment left the site, I had to "don" my new site walking boots to be able to go down and physically see which trees still needed to be removed.

Wal-Mart's best!
      I must say that it may be hard for you to really get the perspective from my quality of photography because, I too,  find it hard to comprehend the size of things. Everything still looks out of whack for me and really small from where I took theses photos.  Even after walking down the grade and onto the staked out house, I still didn't see the true size.  Dennis says, later this week, when the footings are poured, and the foundation laid, I may be able to visualize it better. We'll see. Maybe these photos can give YOU a better viewpoint.

Lower level greatroom view

     For obivious reasons I have not been able to take pictures for you to see the view from the main level great room, but never fear, when I can, I will! While I was down in the red dirt, I decided to show you a picture from the ground up (no pun intended).  This is looking back up to the main road which is the end of the cul de sac in front of our home.

            Believe me, compared to all the other lovely properties on The Ridge,this IS a gentle slope!

     So this was what was happening at the site this past week.  Meanwhile H and I have been burning up the highway from here to Birmingham for a couple of days looking for brick, stone, and house paint colors. Most of our new friends have told us to be at least one step ahead of the builder so when he is ready for these decisions, we will be ready. (We had just put on a new roof on our home in Virginia, so we pretty much know what we want for the roof). Been there, done that! We may not have made the final decision for the stone work and brick, but we have at least got at idea. Dennis will go with us when we are ready to purchase these things, thank goodness!  We have pretty much decided we want white trim! Check! 
     Since we have never built a house anywhere else, I don't know how much of this true, but every place we have been i.e. brick and stone place, rug place, furniture place, we have found that if you purchase from these places, you have the services of a designer to help you with colors, placement of furniture, picking out tile and granite, etc.  One place will load up all their oriential rugs, lay them in your room and take back what you don't like.This is very exciting to me as I don't have a clue!

     To end this house building whirlwind week, as I had previously mentioned, The Masons held a lovely brunch in their home for us on Saturday.  We can now say we have met just about everyone on The Ridge, full timers and frequent visitors alike. They are all lovely people and we are so excited about getting to know each one of them better. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I found out there are other "crafters" as well as bridge players living on The Ridge! H had already found other boaters and fishermen, not to mention other retired military men. What more could we want?
    We spent the rest of the day with Jane and Ralph and their son David (our new banker) and his wife and family watching the Crimson Tide. (It was a nail biter.) What a thrill it is to blend our families! We are so blessed to have the Masons in our lives!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let Us Break "Ground" Together. . .

Are you ready for some pictures? Finally the day has come when all papers, permits and money are in order and we can officially begin our new home!  But first we have to have the BEFORE pictures. . .these photos were taken on Sept. 13th. This is all I have seen (pretty as it is) since we bought our property and even though you can see the lake through the trees, I have still had a hard time visualizing the view from our home. Hopefully when the trees are gone I can start to get the big picture.

 We met with our builder, Dennis on site September 13, 2010 so that H could walk the around with him, see the layout of the house and how it will be "sited" on the property.
H with our builder, Dennis Carlisle
I was unable to go (this time) because it seems one needs the proper attire to do this. First you need the correct footwear to walk around in the under brush because you don't know what will be crawling around in the under brush.

Dennis told me it was because I might turn my ankle in the flip flops that I had on if I were running back up the hill. . . but I know that was his way of not mentioning the "S" word. (H had already debriefed  him about my phobia)

Prior to and for this official day, I had a special hat made for H to wear on site. The front of the hat has the initials HSA for, you guessed it, Home Sweet Alabama! The back of the hat has H's official title for this project. . . CFO! I have no problem with his new title because y'all  know who the W in C  (woman in charge) is!

H and I left on Sept. 15th for a vacation to go to our favorite spot on the Gulf. We left Dennis along with a bobcat, a bull dozer, some chain saws and truck to start clearing the site. I guess you could say ground was officially broken on Sept. 17 which, coincidentially, was the date H and I met 43 years ago! We were on the beach on that day and raised a glass to the occasion!  That date now holds two very special  memories for us.


If you are lucky enough to be at the beach, you are lucky enough!
Before I get to the AFTER pictures, just  a little about the Gulf (in case you are wondering).  As some of you know, we have been going to Orange Beach for over 20 years and it took us two days for this 18+ hour trip! This year we were in no hurry to get started because we are barely 4 hours away and could leave when we wanted! The weather in September was terriffic! No crowds, no waits!  These 5 days were completly restful and relaxing which we did not realize was so badly needed. We have pretty much been on a roller coaster since February. RECAP: We have renovated a house, sold a house, I retired, packed up, moved to Alabama, moved into a rental, unpacked, visited family in Georgia twice, and once in Memphis, gone to Chattanooga twice (July 4th and Labor Day), bought a boat, went to the beach and are now breaking ground on our new home!  In less than two weeks we will be making a "road trip" with our friends The Masons back to Virginia to attend a wedding.

      We stay in a condo at SeaChase on Orange Beach. This beach is in Alabama and is part of the so called "Redneck Riveria" which includes beaches in Florida such as Destin, Pensacola, Fort Walton as well. The "pink" condo on the left side of the picture is where we stay and from where this photo was taken. This beach really took a hit this year with the oil spill scare.  Many families cancelled their vacations mainly due to the media.  I guess if this was your only chance of a summer vacation, there could be some doubt as to how you would be affected. Bet DisneyWorld was busy this summer! This beach was affected to some degree but not so you would notice.  I probably would not  have thought much about it if not for the BP clean up crews on the beach each day.  The tar balls I saw were about the size of a pea and you really had to look for them.  The water was free and clear of anything other than a little seaweed and I was in the water as usual. H documented this with a photo but I will spare you that visual of me in a swimsuit.


 I can say it is the first time I was not entirely sad to be leaving the beach because there was so much to look forward to when we get back. We left the beach on Monday and drove directly to the site. While at the beach, we had a phone call telling us that there had been truck loads of trees, etc. leaving our property daily and we couldn't wait to see. This is what we saw when we arrived.

The trees you can see are down by the waters edge could not be removed without a permit from the Alabama Power Company. The permission to cut these came yesterday and may all be cut down as we speak.  There is a lot of dust flying around on the lake due to no rain, but I'm sure the dust is much better than mud would be!


H left this morning to go to the site and meet with Dennis.  I will be back on site on Saturday when H and I will be attending a little Brunch hosted by the Masons to meet more of our new neighbors on The Ridge.  In fact, the neighbors from Texas on the other side of us will be in town for the weekend and will join us as well.  I am not sure when they are planning to build. They should be surprise to see the progress on our place.  They had no idea we would be at this stage when they contacted us to meet us. Needless to say, we are so excited and can't believe  how quickly things will begin to go once the property is cleared.  Before we know it, we will hear Dennis ask, "What  color do you want your roof?"
Now that's exciting!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We are Fam-i-ly. . .

 Sorry I was unable to post last week, but as most of you know,every Labor Day since 1997, H and I and have flown to Atlanta to join my two sisters and brother with  their spouses for a family weekend of boating with NO children allowed! For quite a few years this event took place on Lake Lanier in Georgia. About three years ago, due to a draught in Georgia, Lake Lanier almost dried up and the boat is now docked at a beautiful marina in Chattanooga on the Tennessee River.We have always had so much fun on these weekends most of which I can't put on the internet. It is a time when we all can truly be ourselves and in doing so our family bond continues to get stronger. Now, even thought our children are grown, married and some even have children of their own, it is  still a sacred weekend just for the siblings and their spouses.
Jane and her husband have hosted this event mainly because they are the only ones with a boat. Let me describe this boat. . . It is fifty-three feet long, can sleep up to ten people, it has two bathrooms (one has a tub), a fully stocked kitchen complete with a microwave/confection oven, a sub zero freezer/refrigerator, a double drawer dish washer, a full size washer and dryer in the master stateroom,
and two or three flat screen TV's  scattered throughout so no one will miss any of the college games played during the weekend.
Water Dancer III (Jane and Bill's boat)
So, here we are, having a wonderful time on the dock just enjoying everyone's company, telling all of Jane's friends about our recent move to Alabama,  our plans to build our retirement home on a beautiful lake and that we someday hope to have a boathouse and boat of our own. . .when lo and behold someone said, "I hear that a deck boat owned by Peyton Manning's wife (we are in Tennessee, after all)  is For Sale at the Marina!"  Even though H and I had talked about a pontoon boat, H's interest was peaked and he started asking questions and before I knew it, he had gone up to the marina to take a look (along with several "seasoned" boat friends). It didn't take long when H sent word to the dock that I needed to join him and take a look... and oh yeah, bring the checkbook! I must admit, this boat was in pristeen condition and had very few hours on it. There was a lot more info about the boat that H proceeded to tell me but during this entire deliberation, another buyer made an offer for full price just because it had Peyton's autograph to go with it, and so of course, it was Sold. It was probably a good thing...not sure how our new Alabama friends would feel about that boat on the lake.
Meanwhile......another boat popped up on the scene, same exact boat in even more pristeen condition plus it had less hours on it and most of it's "equiptment" had never been used for LESS than the Manning boat asking price! With all our experience boat owner friends, a deal was made and we now own a 26 ft Sea-Ray deck boat! Ta-Da!

On Lake Mitchell, there is an association which we have been paying dues to for three years. It is for Home Owners and Boat Owners on the lake called HoBo.  I guess this means we have become a Bo before a Ho!
Her maiden voyage with us as its new owners was to a little cove where we tied up over night next to the Big Boy Boats and we felt right at home and proud! (We slept on Water Dancer). We had  followed in the wake of the other boats to the cove the first day but we lead the fleet back to the dock the next day!
She may look like a Baby Boat next to all the Big Boy Boats but I can at least get up on her swim deck with a lot more dignity!!
She will remain docked in Chattanooga (3 hours away) until our boat house is built....sooner rather that later now. We plan to take her out a couple more times before colder weather sets in and hopefully Liz and Jarrett will join us!
We leave for our beloved beach next week which is now three hours away instead of eighteen, so I won't post again until we return the week of the 20th when......are you ready for this??...we may be breaking ground. Yes, we are loving life!