Narrowing down the possibilities

Leah and I have found four potential building sites in this general area. Two are on Lavender Mountain within an easy walk of our current house, one is about a mile and a half away at the bottom of Lavender Mountain in Little Texas Valley, and the fourth is about five miles away in Big Texas Valley. Each of these sites has advantages and disadvantages. We have managed to winnow the choices down.

The first we rejected is the land on Big Texas Valley Road. It looks buildable, but the road it faces is not pedestrian friendly. Is it ridiculous to reject a potential home site because I can’t walk dogs on the road it faces? That’s what we did.

The second we rejected is the land at the bottom of the hill. Its biggest problem is that it slopes gently from each end to the middle, where there is a drainage ditch. We would want the house roughly centered on the lot, but that wouldn’t be possible here. It’s also generally kind of ugly land and it would have no view at all.

That leaves two possibilities. The one we prefer is the closest. It’s roughly square, it has some nice, mature trees, and it might have a view, depending on how high the house site would be compared to some tall trees across the road from the lot. The biggest drawback for this one is that it’s too expensive. We have set a limit on what to spend for the lot, and this one exceeds it by a good margin. We asked the real estate agent, who lives up the street from us and who handled the sale of my mother’s house, to ask the owners if they would consider an offer. We haven’t heard back yet, but we don’t expect good news.

The other issue is that this land slopes enough that a house would have to have a basement. That’s OK with me, but Leah prefers no basement, and, of course, a basement adds to the cost.

That leaves the other lot on the mountain. This one is a close second. It has a good building site and, again, potentially a view if enough trees are cut. This site is actually three lots offered separately or as a group. Any one of them is well within out budget, but the three of them together are slightly over, although that might be negotiable. The building site here is on a rounded hillock that slopes gently away in all directions.

The biggest problem with this site is that my cell signal goes from LTE (Verizon’s 4G), to 3G, to 1X as you approach the site along Fouche Gap Road. That might be a big “so what?” for making voice calls, but we have to use Verizon’s cellular service for our internet access, and 1X is essentially unusable for data. That would mean switching to satellite internet service, because there is no other way to access the internet up on the mountain.

Both of the rejected lots have access to DSL (Verizon’s LTE service is about as fast as the fastest DSL service that AT&T offers, as far as I can tell). Here’s why DSL isn’t available on top of the mountain.

our phone lines

That “Bell cable” lying in the ditch is our telephone line. It’s mostly buried but is right out on the open in other places. The cable was marked to make sure a county crew didn’t cut it when they did their annual weed mowing.

Cable television is, of course, out of the question.

DSL is fairly slow, but as far as I can tell, the data limits for most DSL plans is about 30 times higher than our cell data limit or a reasonably-priced satellite plan (150 G vs 5 G for our current plan).

So right now we are waiting to hear back from the real estate agent, and expect the news to be negative. If it is, we’ll make an offer on the second choice, and I’m pretty sure we can manage one or possibly two of those lots.

Assuming we end up buying a lot, we’ll probably use what’s left from our land budget, if there is any, plus whatever we end up getting after the sale of my mother’s house to start construction. We should be able to get a good bit done. I think we could get the site preparation done, a well drilled, and a septic system installed. Depending on how much we have, I hope we could get at least the foundation completed. At that point, we will need to sell our house. Our current plan is to live in our travel trailer on the building site until the house is done. That might end up being kind of stressful unless I can really expedite the process.

In the meantime, I am doing all the work on the house that convinced me we needed to move in the first place. Once I’m finished with the outside I’ll have to complete the basement by installing floors, bathroom fixtures, doors and trim. I don’t look forward to it, but I’ve done most of that before.

And now for something else. When we took the dogs for a late walk Wednesday night, a state patrol car drove past us up Lavender Trail, and then down Wildlife Trail. When it came back by us, it stopped and the trooper talked to us for a while. It turns out that he recently moved up to Rome from the Atlanta area and was looking for some land for sale on Lavender Mountain. He specifically asked us about the land that is our second and mostly likely choice. We learned that his wife has cancer, and they have a daughter. And we learned that he makes about $35,000 a year. That’s the standard for a state trooper after finishing trooper school. Leah and I both felt sorry for him, and I personally feel a little ashamed that the state of Georgia can’t do better by its employees.

Friday Felines

The front walk is a popular place for the animals to sun themselves. On this day, most of the cats wanted to sun themselves.

four on the walk

This is Rusty, Chloe, Smokey and Dusty.

Usually Zeke is out there. You can see the leash we use for him. When Zeke is out, we also close the gate. All four of these cats can get though, but Smokey catches his stomach on the way out. Zoe won’t even try.

A hint of fall in the air

When I walked the dogs Wednesday morning it was possible to believe that it was not going to stay hot and humid forever. Although we have had a few relatively cool nights this summer, this felt like the first real hint of fall.

We’re used to July and August being hotter than June on average, but it does seem odd when you think about the fact that the days have been getting shorter since June 21.

I made a plot of average monthly high (in red) and low (in blue) temperatures for Rome. I made it for two years so you can see how the ups and downs cycle through the year. The green line is an arbitrary number that shows how the incoming sunlight varies through the year, normalized so that the values are similar to the temperature values. What this plot shows is that temperature lags the change in heating caused by the change in incoming sunlight, both in summer and in winter.


So, the warmest days are not the longest days and the coldest days are not the shortest days. That’s because the Earth acts like a pot of water being heated on the stove; it takes a while to bring it to a boil. But in July, even with days that are shorter than in June, we’re still getting so much sunlight that the Earth wants to be warmer than it already is. We’re lucky the seasons are as short as they are. If they were longer, it would be so hot that we’d probably all have to move further north. But we’d still have to keep a winter home somewhere even further south.

In the meantime, we have opened all the windows in the house, because it’s finally cooler outside than inside.

They’re back

The two persimmon trees next to the road are heavy with fruit now.

persimmons on tree

A few days ago the fruit was almost all green, but there were a few that were getting close to ripe Here’s one that something tasted.

eaten persimmon

You might remember that I found possums pruning our persimmon tree last fall. They’re back.

This branch lying under the tree was the first indication.

branch on ground Here’s the end of the branch. This branch is about a thick as my little finger (in fact, you can see one of my little old fingers at the left). It looks like a miniature beaver chewed it.

cut persimmon branch end

The green persimmons are now starting to turn slightly yellowish. If things go like they did last year, there will still be persimmons on the bare branches even into December. But I expect to find a possum up the tree any night now when I take the dogs out for their walk. Zeke will let me know.

Friday Felines

Smokey and Sylvester start playing and then one of them get too rough. That’s what happened here. Sylvester jumped up on the back of Mark’s truck but Smokey can’t get to him because Smokey doesn’t jump. Sylvester is lean and mean, so he doesn’t have any trouble.


Smokey stared at him for a while like he was going to get him, but when Sylvester jumped down, Smokey ran.