Heaven’s Where You Find It

Life is experienced in each moment. For sure. But it feels richer when there is contrast between the moments. Different experiences. Different vibes. Foods, smells, tastes, views. People watching. Solitude and camaraderie. Family and friends. Experiencing nature and urban life. It all matters. It all adds up to who and what we are.

Time is of the essence now. I find myself once again busier than I should be. Moving, changing jobs and now, massive upgrade on the WV property. I am not patient. I want the remodel done post haste. So I’ve been here the past 3 weekends and the past 7 days. Brittany was good enough to hang out with me last weekend even though it was a working trip.

Rain has halted my progress on the bath house, so I came to town to get a few things and steal some internet. I wanted to get a hike in, but time is not enough.

I drove across early Friday morning two weeks ago–leaving Easton at 4:30. I met the guy from the power company at 10:00 and he confirmed that they can provide power to my little cottage. But only after I get an approved septic system in place. I met with the excavator then at 6:00. He can do the digging as soon as I get a permit from the county. He knows the inspector and is going to start the dialogue.

There is a gentle dance that happens in rural areas when local government must be involved. If I called the inspector and said I was from out of town and was going to do this work myself–work that I certainly could do with some time on YouTube and a few other resources, the inspector would likely get the book out and go right down the list of requirements.

But if a local calls, someone the inspector knows and trusts, then the requirements morph into guidelines. And guidelines are a little malleable. A guideline is negotiable to some degree. Requirements are binary and rigid.

Barry, the excavator, is a local and has done this before. He knows the inspector (Chad) and has worked with him. Karl, my neighbor, also knows Chad and has done this before. I trust that we will find an arrangement that meets the needs of all involved.

I’m borderline consumed now with this new personal project. All other thoughts fade to a distance now as I ponder what to do with this little slice of paradise I’ve found.

Here is what I have so far. Phase 1 of Black Dog Ridge involves the following upgrades:

  • Electricity to the cottage
  • DSL line for high-speed internet
  • Water (cistern) installed and a septic system
  • Bathhouse with toilet, indoor shower, outdoor shower, and washer/dryer cookups
  • Outdoor fire pit and party area
  • Propane tank
  • Propane refrigerator
  • Propane heater installed
  • Close in the outbuilding and put in a floor

Phase 2 ups the ante:

  • Lift the house and put in a proper foundation
  • Add a bedroom on on the south end
  • Add a sunroom on the north (take over part of the deck)
  • Rebuild and expand the deck
  • Metal roof all around
  • Small covered porch off the side door

And, some other possibilities and considerations.

Rooftop Bar? Wine cellar under the deck? Mountain bike and hiking trail on the property?

So, work to done. Money to be spent. I need to think through the additions to the main structure. Karl presented a very different idea. So not sure where I will come down. I want simple and functional but also a little unique and nice. I would like to keep the local, woodsy vibes but mixed with a little progressive. Some mixed mediums. Glass and light and space, to dilute some of the wood.

A good part of this late summer and fall will need to be dedicated to being here. So I will put off European travel for a bit. Besides, it seems a return to rigid COVID protocols is inevitable now. The non-vaxxers have asserted their willful disobedience to such an extent that we must now all return to draconian measures to be protected from their ignorance. But what can be done? We must do what must be done and hope that we don’t lose too many more people.

I stopped at Walmart after a couple of beers and a brat at Briergarten–quickly becoming one of my favorite places. As I was checking out, I was chatting with the checkout lady. She seemed roughly my age, but somehow seemed older. Maybe everyone feels that way. But she was pleasant. She asked me if I wanted bags and I said no, that I was saving the planet on my own. I then conjectured that the generations behind us would be inheriting a very different earth than our generation.

She replied ‘just before he died, Stephen Hawking hypothesized that there were a multitude of universes besides our own. So if I am reincarnated, I am sorta hoping to get a different universe next time.’

So, at a Walmart in West Virginia I was talking astrophysics and reincarnation with the checkout lady. Interestingly, I have made similar comments myself, on this medium even. Something akin to ‘if I get re-incarnated, I am sorta done with this planet and our particular flavor of intelligent (or not) species. Let’s see what the others have done with their enlightened consciousness.’

So now I’ve lost two weeks since I started writing this. I started this post at Black Dog Ridge two weekends ago. And now it is Tuesday, two weeks past. Brittany and I were here last weekend. A productive trip.

We got the 1,500 gallon water cistern installed on Saturday. We had a semi-supply chain crisis and Brittany and I had to make a run to Roanoke to pick up the tank. It happened that the supply store was just a mile or so from her Aunt’s house, so we stopped and visited her Aunt and cousin. Which was cool.

So a lot of road time, but we are underway.

Before leaving town last weekend I had a terrific lunch of chicken salad and Caprese salad at EpicErie. Terri’s chicken salad really is amazing. That morning I tore into my storage unit and literally had to touch and re-arrange every item and box to get what I needed. My tools were the very first thing placed in the storage unit and so were at packed in and surrounded by every heavy thing I own.

But I got through it and drove across last Monday night. Tuesday Karl and I milled wood most of the day. Wednesday I did the perc test, an all day affair, and also made a mammoth Lowe’s run to get supplies. Progress has been reasonable. Not as much as I would like but I am impatient and expect the world to run on my schedule. It rarely does. We had a few snags. Karly got very busy all of a sudden and we had to transition some roles to offload activities from him to me and Barry.

But the cistern is now in as is the specific system. We just have a few final connections on the septic and those parts should arrive tomorrow or Wednesday. The platform is built for the bathhouse, but I cannot proceed on that now until I return. I need to finish the design and make a new plan since my main builder is now unavailable.

Next week Brittany and I are in Idaho and Utah for Abel’s wake. Then I will return here the weekend after to keep working. I will relax (a little) when the bathhouse is at least functional.

But as noted; patience is not my thing.

Writing fast and furious in the Wild Bean but need to get back up the hill to meet another contractor. So apologies for mistakes.

No other news of note.

Humbly Submitted.

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