My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Groundbreaking news!

I'm taking a break from packing, moving, and spending inordinate amounts of time in various home design/improvement establishments, armed with notepads, house plans, color swatches and an expression of overwhelmed befuddlement, to share some groundbreaking news ~ literally, as our builder broke ground on the lot yesterday!

Here is the lot (facing east) as it looked in early February, before we signed the contract...

And here it was yesterday as they were excavating for the water and sewer lines...

Our builder, Todd, said they'll start digging the foundation today and should be pouring some concrete this week. The weather forecast is perfect for it. Yay!

This is the house we're having him build, with a few small changes inside and out (like adding a third post to that oddly empty stone pillar!)...

The windows will be white and there will be various siding textures, including stone (on the porch's post pillars and low stone wall as well as on the front of the garage) and weathered grey shingles in the gables. But the predominant fiber cement siding (a mix of narrow lap and board and batten) will be painted Sherwin Williams Svelte Sage with trim in Ancient Marble and the front door painted Eclipse. So at least all of those decisions have been made - just 78,429,513 decisions to go! :-)

You can see more pictures and the floor plan here (we're building the reverse plan).

Going through this new construction process is interesting but living there will be too, as it occurred to me this morning that this will be the third home I've owned but the first home I've ever owned in town. And except for the temporary rental we're about to move into, it will be the first time I've lived in a regular "suburban" type neighborhood house since I was 15! Since then, it's all been apartment complexes, owned or rented houses on acreage in the country, or - here at Dragonfly Cottage - beside a creek and between two large parks right in the heart of downtown. Oh well, it's good to shake things up and try something different from time to time. We'll have had a taste of a variety of housing experiences before BW retires and we decide what we want to do next.

In other news (of the ground-pounding rather than groundbreaking variety), I finally had to bid a fond farewell on Monday to my trusty old LL Bean hiking boots. I'd had them since early 1998 (my pre-vegan days), and I only wish I knew how many miles I'd put on them. They certainly hiked all over the Big Horns, but also logged trekking miles in other states as far away as California and Alabama, as well as in England and Scotland. After pounding all that soil, they finally bit the proverbial dust. Happy trails, old friends!

Before ditching them, I took this photo of them beside my new vegan "Veggie Trekker MKIV Hikers" by Vegetarian Shoes (got mine from Vegan Essentials during one of their monthly discount specials). BW has worn Veggie Trekkers for years and is on his third pair. He wears them for hikes, walks and work as a UPS man. They do require breaking in, and my first few walks in them made me dubious about his ardent promises that they would become extremely comfortable. But although they have a bit of breaking in still to do, they have become quite comfy and provide great ankle support, and I look forward to covering lots of ground in them. I wonder where we'll end up going together and what adventures we'll share? Wherever and whatever they are, I promise to bring my camera along. :-)


  1. A brand new house,your colour scheme...nor grotty leftovers from someone with no taste! Have you done the "new house happy dance" yet?
    Jane x
    PS When our last house was built we snuck in and put our handprints into the concrete base.

  2. Congratulations on breaking ground! You know, I don't think I'm capable of making that many decisions (78,429,513+) in such a short time. Being an indecisive Libra, it would probably send me to hide under the covers. Good luck with all the moving and sorting. Even now, there are things I can't find after our moves. Where are my garden clogs?

    Your new boots sure look impressive and substantial, and I hope BW is right about them breaking in. After three pairs, though, his opinion is based on experience. I just hope your feet agree! :)

  3. Some snazzy looking new boots..:-)

    Good luck on the building!

  4. Hurrah for the new house! It's been a long haul to get to this point but you're getting there... Svelte Sage is a great name for a colour - and it's exactly what I thought it would be. The decisions you've had to make ref the house would be a lot easier here - for a start it would be a choice of brick or brick :O)

    And farewell trusty boots! Can I just add that from this angle your new boots actually look a bigger size than your old ones? Has all that trawling through inappropriate housing in search of the right home done something strange to your feet? Happy hiking anyway! I could have probably done with something similar yesterday in Bradgate Park when we were clambering over rocks for that perfect photo - although they probably wouldn't have stopped me tripping over a bollard in the car park, thwacking one knee and falling and grazing the other. I'm pretty rubbish!

  5. Okay, they have vegetarian shoes? How am I always the last person to know these things? I'm nearly speechless.
    Glad to hear things are under way at your new home to be. How exciting. You'll be amazed how quickly the foundation goes in, the framers frame, the roofers, roof....and then the wiring and plumbing stuff seems to take longer as the changes are visual-but are totally necessary. You'll be looking at an empty shell and then "sha-zaaam", all those wonderful cabinets, fixtures, appliances, counters, etc will be in and they'll take your money. It's great! Enjoy the ride, tho' it is stressful too.
    Happy trails.

  6. That's so exciting about the house! It seems like it would be fun to watch the progress and see how they do each step. Golly, what a feat it is to build a house.

    I can't wait to see it when it's all done!

    Bye bye boots! LOL

  7. So exciting that you broke ground! It looks like you're going to have a lovely home.

    The hiking boots look quite nice!

    I hope your arm is healing up well and everything else is going smoothly lately. :)

  8. Jane ~ LOL - no, we haven't done the "New House Happy Dance" yet... I think once it's more than a hole in the ground we'll feel more inspired to don our boogie shoes, though! :-)

    I thought about putting our handprints in the concrete! But what we decided to do instead is put a mini time capsule inside one of the walls (maybe the kitchen wall - probably the most likely room to be redone someday by someone else). Maybe a piece of paper with our names, the name of our builder, the date, and a few goodies from 2012. Wouldn't it be fun to discover something like that in a house you'd bought someday?

    Andrea ~ Thank you! Yes, I imagine having that many decisions dumped on your Libran plate would be a lot to contend with. Some of our decisions have been easier and faster than others, I think in part because of all the remodeling we did on our Big Horn house. In other cases our budget "helps" us make the decision! In many cases, we've merely narrowed the contenders to two or three candidates. Some choices will have to wait until the house is pretty far along.

    I know what you mean about still being unable to find things - I'm missing some stuff from our first move too, and with everything now scattered between two houses and two storage units, there's no hope of finding it all till I can unpack everything in the new house!

    BW's got a lot of street cred when it comes to the comfort of those boots. We're having such warm, dry weather now, though, that I switched to my New Balance tennies a couple of weeks ago and so the breaking-in of the new boots is on hiatus for now.

    veganelder ~ Thanks, they are nice looking, aren't they? BW gets compliments on his all the time, and delights in telling people that they're vegan! :-) And thank you for the good luck wishes on the new house!

  9. Barbara ~ Ah, but even the "brick or brick" decision is not so simple! What color of brick? What pattern of brick? And what of trim colors? :-)

    It's not just the angle of the photo, my new boots are a half size bigger since they didn't come in half sizes (I'm an 8 1/2 in American sizing), and I was advised by Vegan Essentials to order the next size up. But they do appear quite a bit bigger even than that, which I think is due to my old boots being so faded, shorter and rather scrunched and floppy after all these years. :-)

    I've had my fair share of prat falls, even in great boots! I hope your knees are feeling better by now... but more than that, I hope you got the perfect photo you were willing to sacrifice your body for!

    Susan ~ But of course they do! Did you think we vegans all went barefoot all the time? :-) There are several companies and stores dedicated to nothing BUT vegan shoes. Moo Shoes, just for example. I've never ordered anything from them (I'm not much of a shoe person), but I do love the name! My other shoes are my aforementioned beloved New Balance cross-trainers (nearly all NB shoes are vegan), my flip flops, and my wonderfully comfy Sanuks. There you have it: The Story of My Shoes by Laloofah. :-) I'm obviously not one of those people who needs a giant walk-in closet just for her shoes! But my main point is that we vegans are deprived of nothing, including snazzy footwear. So now you know! :-)

    Rose ~ It is, and I'm going to try to photo-document it as much as possible. I drove by the site today on my way to my ortho appt, but there were too many workers and too much activity to get a photo so I'll do that tomorrow. It looked to me like they had the foundation walls (footings?) poured, so I'm not sure what they're up to now! I agree, it seems like an overwhelming feat to build a house to me, too. And how does one ever go about trying to estimate the cost? There are a bazillion variables! I find it terribly intimidating, so it's a good thing I'm not having to assist. :-)

    I can't wait either! :-)

    Molly ~ It is, and I think it will be. I've been tempted to hang around and watch, but figure it's better to leave Todd and his crew alone to do their thing at this stage. BW is by there twice a day on his route, so he reports their progress when he gets home. And my eye doctor has taken to riding his bike by there in the evenings to watch it go up (he loves that sort of thing), so it's definitely under frequent scrutiny! :-)

    Thanks, I like 'em, and it's good to have boots that aren't collapsing like wet cardboard when I put them on and walk in them!

    I got a good report from the ortho today - despite my naughtiness I am healing really well, am virtually pain-free (he was really surprised when he poked and prodded and bent my arm that I felt no pain) and am now out of the brace (yay!). I'll be doing some simple flexing and extension therapy at home, so I was glad not to have to deal with PT appointments on top of everything else. He told me to still not lift anything heavier than a coffee cup, and I must have shot him a look because he said, "But you've probably been lifting things heavier than that for some time now," to which I replied, "Shh, just don't tell my doctor!" :-) I have GOT to find time soon to catch up on your blog and see how things are going with your elbow, your shoulder, your critters, your weather - just another couple of weeks and hopefully things will be much more settled down for me and I can do some serious catching up! Thanks for sticking with me. :-)

  10. You two will be experts by the time you enter retirement. Experts of housing for sure! The house, to be, that you show on your post is really a nice design. I know you'll be comfortable there as now you can pick out what you want in a house. -- barbara

  11. I had no idea about vegan boots (or NB being vegan!)
    I love your colour choices - that sage is divinely svelte. It will be quite exciting to have a place that is all shiny and new.

  12. Barbara (KY) ~ LOL, well, we'll certainly be experienced if not experts! I think it helped to have lived in so many different houses growing up - I had a pretty good idea what I did and didn't like in a house at a young age, and in college would save magazine clippings of rooms and houses I particularly liked. But it does seem like the abundance of choices on fixtures, fits and finishes is overwhelming these days.

    I think it would be an interesting experience to live in as many different types of homes as possible - not just different styles of houses in different types of locations, but different types of dwellings. I'd love to experience living in a yurt, a houseboat, a treehouse, a cave house, a cob hobbit house, a lighthouse, a straw bale house... well, you get the idea! :-)

    Lesley ~ After reading yours and Susan's comments, I'm really glad I posted about my new vegan boots! :-) When it was time for a new pair of NB sneakers, I wrote to them to ask them which of their current shoes are vegan, and they wrote back that it's much quicker to tell me which ones AREN'T, because there are only 1 or 2 of them! The ones I got are also made in the US.

    I'm so glad you like our color choices! I've always loved shades of sage green, and love houses that color (my second favorite color for a house exterior is probably a soft, cheerful yellow, with white trim). I think you're right that a brand spanking new house will be very exciting (but we won't have anyone else to blame for any dirt or dings or stupid decisions! LOL)

  13. Well, I have been atrocious about keeping up and I have now read your last three posts and my you have been having a lot of fun. The elbow brace does look quite diabolical. I didn't go back far enough to find out how you broke it, but I am glad it is healing. And your housing saga is unbelievable, but I know you will be happiest with the one you can build yourself although I agree that there will be an extraordinary number of decisions--I know how many I had just with remodeling! Anyway, I have been thinking of you and glad to catch up a bit anyway. Take care and hopefully you will stop moving soon!

  14. Daphne ~ Well at least we've been simultaneously atrocious! :-) It's great to hear from you, and I appreciate your stopping by and catching up!

    I broke my elbow during Olympic qualifying trials, when I failed to nail the landing on my quad. LOL Actually, it was just an ungainly pratfall on some sidewalk ice, but I've been mending well.

    I think all the remodeling seems to really help when it comes to building new, but doing every room at once is pretty overwhelming! We met with our builder on Monday to go over some stuff, and it seemed most of our decisions had been made on rooms on the first floor while we've pretty much ignored the upstairs so far. I told him I've been doing it that way because I figure he has to build the first floor first, so the second floor stuff can wait. ;-) it's hard to make him laugh, but that got a chuckle out of him! (He's a great guy, we're lucky to have him!)

    I can't promise when I'll get a chance to catch up on your blog, but one of these days... :-)

  15. I'm going to sneak in and do the house posts first but do intend to get to all of them. I just have a thing for houses as you. And for excavators - they are such fun boy toys and I got to play on one once. By the end I could touch a cone - so not all that impressive - but very fun.

    I love that at least for now the view from you lot looking East looks at least a bit distant from your neighbors so even though you'll be in town, you won't be shaking hands with your neighbors through the windows!

    I had never noticed that third empty stone pillar on the house elevation - how weird is that!!

    Your Veggie Trekkers look bigger than your old boots as though you're feet have grown!! Here's hoping they are totally broken in before long! Looking forward to the photos they take you to see.

  16. Jo ~ I'm glad you got a chance to pop in between your trips to New Zealand and New Orleans! (Be funny if a trip to New Hampshire to visit your family was next on the travel agenda!) :-)

    I got to monkey with a backhoe once, and they definitely take more finesse and practice than one would think! I doubt I could have touched a cone on my first attempt (there were no cones about to try it with, though - just rocks and dirt!)

    That land behind us to the east will be developed some day and there will be a neighbor over our back fence, but hopefully that is still years away and we can enjoy the big fields and pond that are there now for some time to come. Our house is being built closest to the neighbor to the north, but there is only one window on that side (not counting the breakfast nook), and that's upstairs in the bonus room. We have a pretty good buffer between us and our neighbor to the south and plan to plant trees and shrubs on that side so we can look out the windows at leaves and flowers instead of at the side of their garage. Their house is the one I think is really cute, though.

    Isn't that empty stone post weird? I've seen several authentic Craftsman style houses with that feature, but in every case you can tell that a post on that pillar would have blocked a window or the front door, which is not the case with this house we're building. I'm glad we're having Todd add a post there. We're going with "elephant" or tapered posts - I like that look on a Craftsman house.

    My Veggie Trekkers are only 1/2 size larger (since they don't come in half sizes) than my old boots, but I agree they look larger than that. I think my old boots were just beaten down and scrunched so, plus they weren't as tall to begin with. My left Veggie Trekker is very comfy, but the right one still needs some breaking in. BW said it was the same with his boots! I haven't had a chance to wear them for a while, we've either had no time for any significant walks or it's been hot tennis shoe weather. Soon I'll get to wear them out at Perk's, where we board Mocha and can go on long hikes with the dogs (remember my post with all the sunflowers late last summer? Those were taken on that hike out there).

  17. ¡hola!
    i'm looking for some comfortable/durable vegan hiking boots and i'm glad i found your blog.

    how do you feel about your boots? do you still have a strong good opinion about them?

    thank you, sonia

  18. OzSo ~ Hi, Sonia, sorry it took me this long to reply to your comment!

    I do still like my boots, though I haven't worn them much (it's been so warm and dry I've been wearing my sneakers on my walks, and haven't done any hiking since I got these), and am still breaking them in. They're a comfortable boot, except for being quite stiff at the back of the "cankle" - where the calf meets the ankle - and they stay that way for quite a while before that softens up and gets comfy, according to my husband who has this same pair of boots but has had them longer and wears them at work. It can get pretty uncomfortable at times (though not always), and I'll be glad when they're broken in. I hope to wear them a lot this winter.

    My only other complaint about them is that the laces that come with them suck! They're round and slick and are always coming untied almost immediately. I plan to replace them with some better ones.

    Best of luck getting a pair of vegan boots you'll enjoy, and happy trails! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
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There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
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That Nature is a community to which we belong
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