We are in the midst of some uncertainties here, so I’m not sure what kind of posting I’ll be able to do — maybe none in the immediate future. I hope things get enough better that posting can resume before too awful long.

This is one reason we’re moving

We have been working on routine maintenance finishing our downstairs for some time now. I finally got around to painting the roof overhang. “Got around to” is not really right. Faced up to is more accurate. Some of it is not hard to reach, but some of it is. This is where I was on Saturday afternoon.


When I built the house, I wanted the farmhouse look, so instead of soffits, I kept the rafter tails exposed. I still like the look, but I would never do it again. It was more work to finish than soffits, and now it’s more work to repaint. I painted two rafter bays at a time and then had to move the ladder. When I got to the last pair of rafters, I painted some and then saw some debris inside the vent. The attic vents are just holes drilled into a two-by-six that spans the rafters. I stapled screening to keep insects out of the holes, but spiders and other things sometimes get in. I assumed what I saw was old spider webs, so I stuck my finger in and dragged some out.

That’s when I saw the wasp I had almost touched.

I climbed down the ladder with all due haste and gave up on painting that part of the roof overhang for the day. I planned to paint it later at night, when the wasps would be dormant. Unfortunately, I found them at still active, possibly because of the floodlights right outside their nest. So I climbed up with some wasp spray and gave the vent hole a good dousing. Wasps kept coming out, so, once again I retreated.

I found another wasp nest just under the outside of the handrail on the front walk. At the time I was propping a ladder on the edge of the walk, on the outside of the railing, and painting the garage overhang. I saw that nest just as I was preparing to move the ladder right next to the nest. That meant another delay in painting. Later Saturday night I sprayed that nest. It was easily accessible, so I eliminated it.

I did not, however, eliminate the nest in the attic vent. This is what that looked like Sunday afternoon.

wasps on the overhang

You can see how far I got with the painting, and you can also see two wasps, one at each rafter vent. You can also see something else that is going to force me to climb up again — I knocked one of the floodlights out of alignment. That means another climb up. I’m going to be as stealthy as I can. I’ll adjust the light and then give the vent hole another good spray. I haven’t been stung so far. Maybe my luck will hold.

I think I’ll wait to paint that part of the overhang until cooler weather.

Muscadine crown

There is a tremendous amount of muscadine growing on the mountain here. I looked up and saw this on Tuesday while walking the dogs.

muscadine crown


This is actually a dead oak growing right next to the road. Its crown is a clump of muscadine vines.

The wikipedia article says that muscadine grows “wild in well-drained bottom lands that are not subject to extended drought or water logging.” But they seem to be doing quite well up here in the highlands. A few years ago I cut my way along our rear property line so I could find our interior property corner. A short straight section of the boundary had been staked at some time, so I used it to set my course through the woods. I had to cut a number of thin but tall trees to get a clear view up the property line. The trees are very thick there, so even in the best of circumstances it would be hard to get them to fall, but many times the crowns of the trees were intertwined with muscadine vines so the trees actually couldn’t fall.

I have tasted only a few of our native grapes. They are small, deep purple grapes with a strong flavor but very little flesh. The skins are very thick and tart.

The muscadines seem not to have produced much of a crop this year. I have been seeing unripe green grapes on the road and very few, if any, ripe or even ripening ones on the vines or on the road. Although, according to Wikipedia, some muscadines are green when ripe, as I mentioned, our muscadines are dark purple when they are ripe. The plants look fine, but they just seem not to be producing ripe grapes.

A septic system

Monday morning the septic system installers showed up and began work. I met them at the site and we decided where to put the tank and the lines. I have been impressed with this installer. Before he even met with me the first time he had already called the health department to talk about what kind of system should be installed. After I hired them, they continued to talk with the inspectors, finally convincing them that a fairly conventional system could be used, even if installed at a shallow depth because we had plenty of topsoil to to cover the lines.

I was afraid they would need a jackhammer to get the septic tank in, but the backhoe did the job.

digging for tank

This equipment is actually called a track hoe. They’re compact and powerful little machines.

The tank itself came from a company up in Summerville. The driver arrived just at the right time. Here they are dropping the tank into the ground.

setting tank

I came back periodically to check on progress. Here they are installing the leach field drain lines.

setting linesThe lines are roughy half circles in cross section and made of plastic.

This depth would not be sufficient without additional fill, which they are adding in this picture.

covering the lines

The job was inspected and completed by late afternoon. The entire crew left with all their equipment and a check before we ate supper.

The installer warned me to keep any vehicles off the leach field because the drain lines are so near the surface. The health department inspector called me later in the afternoon to tell me the same thing. I made a “KEEP OFF” sign Tuesday and put it at the edge of the installation, and then I put yellow caution tape around the entire leach field.

The top of the well driller’s rig is visible just above the foundation walls in the last photo. The driller hadn’t worked on the site for the last two weeks, but he came back on Monday. The well is now at about 170 feet. They have hit water but only with a very low flow. I expect the well to end up at least twice as deep as it is now.

There is no real hurry on the well, which is a good thing since patience is necessary when the driller is using an old cable rig.

We hired a framer last week. He should start work in early August. If things go well, it should take only three to four weeks to dry in the house. So, by sometime in September we will probably be able to see the house in something other than our imaginations.