Chapter 13 – Summer vacations and more rain!

Chapter 13 – Summer vacations and more rain!

Fortunately for the crew at Blue Ridge Energy Systems, summer vacation time has rolled around.  Some of the crew enjoyed the Outer Banks with sailing, cookouts on the beach, and bicycling.  (Can you believe the rain followed them there in the form of tropical storm Andrea?!)  Other vacation destinations included a Bahamas cruise and camping.  The guys work really hard all year long so they deserve this break, but I confess I have been rather impatient without them all on the job site!!

Nevertheless, there is progress to report.  First, we have had rain of Biblical proportions!  I immediately drove to the job site during a gully washing thunderstorm to witness my roof drains and pond in action.  The good news is that it is all working as planned!

Waterfall created by roof stormwate

Managing stormwater with the roof drains & retention pond











I worried a bit about whether or not the 6 roof drains could actually handle such a large volume of water without overflowing, especially in the butterfly section where there is twice the volume of water as in the sawtooth sections.  Not a drop overflowed!  And the man-made waterfall held up to the intensity of the water.  I certainly didn’t want to find myself toting more rocks if they had been washed into the pond!!

Robinson Creek with stormwater sediment

The disappointing sight was the sediment flowing through Robinson Creek!  I gasped and immediately followed all the culverts and ditches in Greenwood to see where this mess could possibly be coming from.  I found nothing but clear water running throughout the property. The hard rain had stopped and I moaned that it would take another storm to look for the source of the runoff.  Well, I got my wish the very next day as we had another major downpour.  This time I started my search of Robinson Creek along Pinners Cove Road.  The water running there was indeed red.  Up from the culvert emptying into the creek is a house under construction by Jade Mountain Builders. Hans Doellgast, owner and green builder with a wonderful track record, immediately took action when I called him to report my concerns.  Had a silt fence been breached in such heavy rain?  He assured me that his grounds crew would take action and remedy the problem.  It’s reassuring to know that my neighbors and their builder are also committed to reducing the effects of stormwater erosion and sedimentation because each of our actions ultimately impact everyone downstream.

The crew who were working brought me great joy because they have been busy installing the soffitt and fascia.  Normally they are not a home’s defining element but in my case they are significant to the overall design of the hosue.  The soffitt is the underside of the exterior overhanging roof and in my case, it’s RED!  The overhang is 3 feet at the ends of the sawtooth roof and 2 feet along the sides of the house.  So that’s a lot of RED!  The fascia board is a band that runs horizontally under the roof edge and in my case, it’s BLACK.  Both the soffitt and fascia were pre-painted before installation and then got a second coat of paint.  A touch up coat will be applied after the roof is installed should there be any nicks or chips.

The soffitt and fascia material is LP SmartSide.  SmartSide is green:  it is made from wood, a renewable, natural resource.  Their no-waste manufacturing process also generates points for many green building programs.  Many builders use HardiePlank which is a look-alike fiber cement material but requires special tools for cutting and protection from airborne silica when cut.  Furthermore, SmartSide is less likely to break or crack and is lighter than fiber cement products.  This means quicker and easier installation!  A proprietary Smartguard manufacturing process using zinc borate helps protect against termite damage and fungal decay.  I like the beauty of the wood and the durability of the engineered wood.

Soffitt and fascia completed

This photo just doesn’t do it justice!  I can’t wait for the dark grey stucco to make the red and black pop!!

Another task accomplished:  Andy Presley and I went to Best Buy Metal Roofing to order the standing seam metal roof.  Did you know that the Energy Star program even addresses roofing materials?  I chose the Ash Gray Cool Metal Roof.  This specialized paint produces a solar reflectance of up to 70% whereas an asphalt shingle roof only reflects between 10% – 20% of the sun’s rays.  This means that the heat of the sun is significantly reflected off a Cool Metal Roof and will reduce my cooling costs by 20%.  I’m not a scientist but I encourage you to watch this short video about the energy efficiency of a Cool Metal Roof (click on Energy Savings Video on the right side of the screen after you click here).

Another project begun:  I met with Nancy Duffy, owner of Muddy Boots, in her spectacular gardens (on a morning without rain!) to begin the landscape design process.  Her gardens inspired me and gave me confidence that my landscape could be unique and gorgeous as well.  We thumbed through books for ideas, I gave her some must-have species and color preferences, and we talked about container gardening as well as accenting with stone and garden sculpture.   I have collected contemporary art and craft for years and have decided that this garden will be the background for several of my pieces.  Here are some things that I already have that will be used in the garden.

Grace Cathey sculpture

Paul Knoblauch garden bench


Norm Schulman "Orpheus and Eurydice" stele


Mark Hewitt pot


Now the problem is that I am a collector, so that means new things need to be added in this budding sculpture garden.  Here are my latest additions:

Joseph Sand pot

Another Joseph Sand pot

Dale Rogers "Cherry Blossom"


For any of you looking for craft for the home or garden, make your way to the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC and Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville, NC.  These folks really know how to help you with a wide variety of work at a wide variety of prices.  You simply can’t make a bad choice there!!

Matt Jones planter - NC Arboretum

When I saw the variety of containers used in Nancy Duffy’s garden, I knew I wanted some artful containers as well.  I plan to have potter Matt Jones create a planter for me.  You can see (and purchase!) Matt’s work at the NC Arboretum through September 22, 2013.  Another container will come from Alex Matisse at East Fork Pottery.  From July 1 – August 31, 2013 you can purchase a piece of his work at the Crimson Laurel Gallery.  I promise you will be inspired!

Alex Matisse at Crimson Laurel Gallery

Thank goodness for neighbors who are willing to share their perennials!  Beth Eckstein has been so kind to dig lupine, lambs ear and mint for me.  I have the lupine in pots where I can more easily tend them for the summer before planting this fall.  However, the rest of the bounty has been planted on my boulder wall.  I also dug sedum and some trailing vines that I have in my garden at Southcliff and planted them on the boulder wall.  Just can’t let the season go by without planting something!! What do you think?

Lambs ear on the boulder wall (thanks Beth!)




So, building a house without a construction crew seems to have given me lots to do! I cherish the time of reflection as well as the time of creativity.  I’m grateful for the entire team who are helping me.  I’m enjoying summer and all that Mother Nature has to offer.  I’ll close for now with Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day”:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?                  


Mignon Durham is a retired computer consultant, avid art and craft collector, founder of Toe River Project Access, and founder of Toe River Valley Watch. She has always been fascinated with what makes a place feel like home, and she hopes this blog will enlighten your own personal journey home.