Creating Life at the Villa Coro di Rane

This blog is about being in the moment - creating life one instant at a time, whether in the flesh or on paper.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


There was a green shed at the back of the barn, on one side. It wasn't causing any trouble, except that it was in pretty bad condition and prevented reaching the back of the barn to paint it. So...
Now You See It

Now You Don't - Taking Down the Shed

Removing Nails

All Gone, Shed

Taking it to the Dump

We actually took it to a recycling dump and made $25 on the metal! We even got to watch this huge machine with a gigantic claw. It reminded me of one of Nicholas' "Mighty Machines" videos. I will definitely have to take him there in July when they visit.

Picks Up Objects Great and Small

Really Swings That Claw Around

Coming Straight for Me!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


The insurance company was afraid that critters of any persuasion or number of legs could get into the holes in the outbuildings and cause damage. They also didn't like the unfinished wood. So, I decided to start with the biggest offender - the barn. With Charlie fixing and me painting and assisting (mostly handing him a hammer or a drill), here are the stages of what happened over the next week and a half:

Front View Starting Out

Side View Starting Out

Old Broken Siding Removed

Framing North Side to Hold Siding

Broken Siding Replaced on South Side

New Siding from a Distance

Putting in Front Panels and Starting to Paint

Those are Windows, Not Holes!

New Front View

New Side View

Now scroll back up, and look again at where we started!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I decided that to live alone at The Frog I would first need a well, so as to do away with hoses, rain barrels, and rain dances. I scheduled the well drilling (as you have seen below) and bought a washer and dryer to celebrate. The rest of my projects, including updating the electricity, formed a long list in rank order.

Then I got a letter from the insurance company, saying that to keep my policy I would have to repair and finish the outbuildings and replace the boarded windows in the house. The windows were at the top of my list anyway, so that was no biggie. But I had not planned to do anything immediately with the outbuildings.

I decided that the best place for the washing machine would be the cistern porch. The main disadvantage was that there was no existing hook-up or plumbing. My sainted friend, Charlie Rhett, from my yoga class, agreed to help me with all these repairs. He gives me a good rate and he actually enjoys working on this old house, where nothing is as you might imagine it would be. He got started on the plumbing and also recommended an electrician, since there was no room in the breaker box to connect the washer and dryer. The plumbing meant emptying the bottom cabinets and moving the stove out of the way - in other words, total mess!

Kitchen Mayhem

Where's the Stove?!

Charlie Fitting a Pipe

Chan Cutting a Pipe

I decided to put this job on the back burner so we could get to the insurance items right away. I did go ahead with the electric, though. I now have a breaker box that can accommodate anything. Later on I'll go back and have all the outlets checked.

The Spaghetti Box

Deciphering the Spaghetti Box

Disconnecting the Old Wires

In the end, I put in a whole new box, had it inspected, and now that part is up to code. So much for my rank ordered list!

New 200 Amp Box

The end of this story was that on Friday I called the power company to see when they wold turn the electricity back on and, while holding for them, I was multitasking by painting the barn. In a blank moment, I switched hands and in doing so, dropped my phone into the paint tray! Glad I wasn't using my new iPad. I drove straight away to AT&T and got another phone, which I now leave inside the house when I am painting.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Over the past couple of months I have had an opportunity to visit the homes of 2 new friends. They make a wonderful contrast - the friends as well as their houses. One belongs to my friend, Jackie, a native of this area. She lived for many years in MA, then for 15 or so in Floyd, raising Percherons with her husband. She now lives alone on a mountaintop in the 200+ year-old log cabin that she inherited from her family. It needs even more work than The Frog, but is a gem. Jackie heats the cabin with wood, in the 3 huge original fireplaces. She even cooks on a wood stove and has a wringer washer. Did I mention that she's still a hippie?!

The Kitchen

Side Entrance

Jackie by Living Room Fireplace

Wringer Washer

Living Room

View from Kitchen Window

Wood Cook Stove

The other friends live in Draper. Steve is a retired paleo-botanist, who taught at VA Tech for 30 years. Rebecca has a PhD in computer science and still teaches at Radford U. They wanted to stay in this area, so took all their savings to invest in land instead of the "market". After a long search, they found 40 acres of gorgeous forest overlooking a lake in Draper. They designed the house themselves. He raises orchids as a hobby, and they are all around.

One of the Many Orchids


View to Lake

Living Room

Soapstone Wood Stove Between Living & Dining Rooms

Dining Room

Rebecca & Steve in Kitchen

Island Gas Stove, Sink & Pot Rack

Birds Everywhere - Outside!


The "Merc" recently had a concert with the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers. It was a fun evening and I even did a little flat footing. I had never seen the washtub played as an instrument! She played it like a bass, and made amazing sounds by just moving her hand up and down that one piece of ordinary string.


I am delighted to have the well. The water has cleared up beautifully and I am getting ready to have it tested for quality. The rest of the clean-up will take some time. The "Ditch Witch" machine cut a long trench to carry pipes from the well to the house, destroying grass and generally wreaking havoc to the yard. The mud and gravel on the grass are another issue. That brown river in the photos below is mud, not water. The well drillers said it's best to wait until it dries out, when it can be cracked up and raked out. But, all in due time!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I left on Tuesday to drive to McLean, so I communicated by phone with the well drillers, the brothers Eversole, Terry and Mike. The drilling on Monday and Tuesday got them down to 140 feet, where they began to encounter gravel. There was water there, but it was "nasty", and the gravel fell in on itself, making it impossible to keep the hole open. They decided then to line the hole with galvanized metal and drill a little deeper before abandoning the hole. This was the report I got on Wednesday.

So, imagine my surprise when during a break in my class on Thursday I looked at my phone and found a message from Terry. He called to say,"Hey, Ms. Lewis, I thought I would touch base with you to let you know we've got your well lookin' pretty good!" That extra 5 feet made a huge difference. They found a huge vein of water and were able to pump it clear. Terry says there's enough water there to supply 3 or 4 houses. They "shocked" the well with chlorine to clean out the whole system, including the existing pipes in the house. It was a nail biting, but exciting, process and the best part is that I have water! No more naked rain dances.

Here are 3 video clips that show the guys bringing in the big drilling rig and getting it in place, raising the boom, and starting to drill.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Well at the Frog!!

I am well indeed, but what I'm really hoping for is water! Apparently, hitting a clear vein of water here in the holler is a 50/50 chance because of the rock formations under the ground. The well drillers arrived on Friday, March 2, and it was a very exciting moment. I applied for the permit in January, then had to make an appointment to have the environmental health representative come out and map the area to indicate the allowable drilling area. "Allowable" is determined by the location of septic fields. It's necessary to be prescribed distances from them.

I interviewed and got estimates from 3 companies - all good ole boys. They described how they would do the work, what kind of electrical access they would need, how much ground they would mess up and how many tree limbs they would have to cut off, etc. I chose the one that seemed most grounded, so to speak, and who took time to describe all the contingencies.

The drillers are very likable brothers with slow drawls, from a nearby town called Max Meadows. They have been very considerate in trying to edge the equipment in while cutting a minimum of vegetation.Based on what they told me, I took pictures of the area before the destruction. Here is the fence before the posts were taken out.

This is the "allowable" drilling area - at least 10 feet from the side fence and 50 feet from the back fence.

The guys came in first to prepare the area by cutting limbs and rolling back the fence.

Once the area was prepared, they used a forked twig as a dousing rod to locate the best spot to dig. The twig bending down indicates the presence of water underground. Go figure!

Having located the best spot, they brought in the big gun - the 60,000 lb. drilling rig. They backed in to be able to locate the drill more easily over the chosen spot.

After lining the truck up the way they wanted and making sure they had cleared the overhead electrical lines, they raised the boom.

Then, shortly after they got everything in place it started to rain! So, nothing else happened on Friday. I'm hoping they will get an early start on Monday and find water in no time at all.

In the meantime, the daffodils are waking up and the little Christmas tree seems to like the place we found for her home in the yard.