All posts by Laura

My husband and I are sculptors who work primarily with metal. We specialize in creating 3-D images of the world around us in that lasting medium.

Gatlinburg Fire

So I know it’s been a while since the Gatlinburg fire, but the damage is still very evident in the forests surrounding it.  It was scary to see just how close the fire came to the main strip… just like the hill behind the Aquarium… fire was right there.

This is taken from the rise right above Gatlinburg.  You can see the damaged trees.  Nature always amazes me.  It just comes back and grows… maybe even stronger then before.

I guess that’s how the people of this region are too.  As we’ve meet a few of them and listened to people talk about the help that people received after the fire.  It is amazing.  Stronger then before as they banded together, plus people who didn’t even know them before giving help to total strangers.  Kind of gives me hope for humanity.

Smoky Mountain Cat House

Ok, we saw this place yesterday when we went to the Pottery House for lunch.  But we were in the hurry to get back so didn’t stop in.  Today I made Scot go back there after doing some business cold calls and stop in to see what it was all about.

This is how we roll..

OMG! Cat lovers everywhere should make the trip down here to see this place.

Kitty Purses!

It is packed full of all sorts of stuff… kitty clocks, kitty jewelry, kitty t-shirts

… toys for kitties.  And much more… even some dog lovers things.  Of course they also have some cool kitties that hang around in the shop.. some even are up for adoption. 

Check them out online at www.SmokyMountainCatHouse.com

 

Horse Shu Kru Adventures in Sevierville, TN

We managed to sneak away to another rally with the Horse Shu Kru.  This time to Sevierville, TN.  We are staying at the Two River Resort right along side the French Broad River.  I mean right along side it.  The view in front of our RV is the gentle river. 

Callie is thrilled by the view, she sits on the dashboard and keeps watch on the river and the trees for birds.  Then she alerts us with her “chirp” meow in case we aren’t watching.   Frau got up on the dashboard one day and a little chickadee landed on the mirror outside and did a stand off with her.  She wasn’t sure how to take it and has confined her lounging to the bed now.

This time we decided to be brave and took Kismet, our Australian Shepard with us.  She is a sweet girl, but timid with noises and very dizzy when it comes to instructions and rules.  Now that she has gotten older, (Think she’s around 11 now), she has calmed down a lot.  She has done really well.  Enjoying meeting all the new people and some of the dogs.. though she could do without them.   I’m very happy with her behavior, so think I will just take her with us if we are able too.   I used the belt from the couch and run it underneath and belt her seat belt to it when we travel.  Gives her security and keeps her in a safe location.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about the campground.  It’s right at the beginning of Sevierville  just a few miles south of interstate 40.   It’s a small RV park only 55 spaces.  All the spaces are concrete and double wide, so no problem parking your toad or towing vehicle in your space.  They have a small pool and small playground for the kids. 

There is the usual amenities of laundry and bathrooms.   It’s just one street with RV spots on both sides.  There is a club house with an exercise room and a gathering area.  They are currently looking for campground hosts.  6 month time slots – May-Oct, Nov-April.  So if you want to spend an extended time in the Smokies this would be a great place.  It’s close to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Check them out www.TwoRiversRVResort.com

Scot and I have really enjoyed the time down here.  We have done a little cold calls to see if we can pick up a wholesale client in this area with our orbs.

Black Bear.. perfect for the Smokies

We sell to the some of the KY state parks and several visitor’s centers.  Thought TN might be a good expansion.

We have gotten to do some socializing with the great Horse Shu Kru, meeting several more members.  And spent countless hours reading, walking the dog.. and even napping.  OH MY Goodness.. you heard me right, NAPPING!  Yep, life is good.

Sevierville Moon – ain’t it grand?

 

 

Horse Shu Kru

Things have been crazy at my home.. we are trying to put in a building to house the RV and organize a few things around here.  Plus do art shows and make money to afford the building and stuff we are doing to make the house we are living in more marketable…ie: put in it’s own driveway and paint etc.  So in April right the weekend before one of our biggest shows, we were going ten different directions as we were getting the pad put in for the building, try to build inventory that should have been done ages ago and just live.  So what did we do when the plumbing inspector invited us on a camping rally with the local group of the Family Motor Coach Association.. The Horse Shu Kru?  We made some cool Horse Shu Kru orbs and threw some things in the coach and took off for 3 days.  Luckily Georgetown is only about 45 minutes from us.  Scot took the coach and I followed after making a stop into the post office to mail some orders out.

We stayed at the Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown area.  I highly recommend it as it’s nice and inexpensive.  http://www.whisperinghillsrv.com/. Lots of amenities and large easy to get into sites.  Beautiful Pond with the Canadian Geese swimming.  There was even 6 goslings.  whisperinghills

Anyway, it’s nice.  But the nicest part of the whole experience was the Horse Shu Kru.  Made of mostly retired folk, they were welcoming and just awesome.  For 3 days, I spent most of my waking hours chatting, playing card games, eating group meals and more playing card games.  I haven’t socialized that much since college.  We had some much fun, that we joined the Kru and are planning on doing their monthly rallies as often as we can.  Wise decision?  Who knows, we probably should be working.. but sometimes you just got to play a little.

Home Woes

Many of you have ask about our journey in downsizing to a smaller place.  I posted back in July about some of the woes we were having with our purchase of a Clayton home, built by Norris Homes.  This is an update of the problems we still continue to face as a headups to someone considering purchasing a home from them.  Buyer beware is probably not strong enough warning…  In the words of my husband :

“First, a little background.  I have been in construction on and off my entire life.  First as a Carpenter and Roofer, then later, during my 21 years with the U.S. Army, I worked with the Corps of Engineers in Construction Quality Management, overseeing bid specifications, contracts, and construction.  I have a better than average understanding of construction techniques, contracts, and building.  I know what right looks like, and what wrong looks like as well.

Our reasons for desiring to purchase a new home are twofold:  First, we have only one child at home now, and our current home is WAY too large.  Secondly, our current home has 4 floors.  Our son is disabled and has increasing difficulty navigating stairs.  Hence our decision to purchase a smaller single floor home.

After months of research and shopping, my wife and I signed a contract with Clayton Homes of Louisville, Kentucky on 4 January, 2016 for a modified Kennesaw design modular home.  The sales gal was great, very knowledgeable, yet willing to admit when she didn’t have the answer, but willing to tell us that, and find the answer out.  The house was to be built on our land, with an estimated completion date at the factory of 31 March, 2016, and an estimated “Completion of Retailers Responsibility 31 May”.  It is now 2017, over a year since we signed our contract, and the house is still not completed.  The major halves did not even arrive on our property until 1 June.  Following is a by no means comprehensive list of problems we have noted.  Where noted deficiencies have been corrected, I have stated so:

  • The roof leaks.  Numerous damaged shingles are present all over the roof.  There have been a minimum of three attempts to repair the roof where it was damaged when they brought it to our land.  On one occasion, my wife observed the workers cutting small pieces of shingles, piecing it in over damaged spots, and then GLUING THEM DOWN WITH ROOFING CEMENT!  I can only speculate that the pieces were too small to hold a nail?!?  The roof still leaks.house-delivery-211
  • The architectural shingles do not overlap the drip edge in numerous locations, sometimes being ½” short of the edge of the drip edge, when they are supposed to ¼” to ½” PAST the edge.
  • Numerous interior wall outlets were not properly installed.  At least seven plugs pulled of the wall when the Clayton repairman attempted to unplug tools.  (This issue has since been corrected).
  • In the process of straightening one wall, a damaged wire was discovered to one of the outlets.  One of the conductors had exposed copper.  Clayton’s electrician repaired it by putting in a wall plug where the wire was damaged . . . . half way between the floor and ceiling . . . . . half up the wall . . . . . .
  • Circuit breakers in the main panel were improperly labeled.  What ended up turning out to be wall outlets in the Master Bedroom was just labeled as “hot”.
  • The circuit breaker labeled Master Bedroom outlets turned out to be one of the back bedrooms.
  • The drip edge was bent and damaged in numerous locations.  Clayton Homes replaced several times.  They scabbed small 1 foot to 4 foot long pieces in where the original drip edge was damaged.  When we told them that was unacceptable, they replaced with longer pieces, in one place on one gable end, they overlapped the LOWER pieces ON TOP OF the upper piece, thereby channeling any water UNDER the lower piece of drip edge . . .  When we pointed out the overlap, as well as the general bent up condition of the drip edge they installed, their solution was to screw the drip edge in FROM THE SIDE! wherever it was bent out, straight into the Hardi plank fascia .  . . instead of fastening it from the top as the manufacturer recommends.
  • The Atrium doors leak.  We are on the THIRD door, but it still leaks.  When they had the first door out, I pointed out that the opening wasn’t square, it is crowned up in the middle about 3/8”.  I even put a 4 foot level on it and “rocked” it back and forth to demonstrate.  They installed the 2nd door.  It leaked of course.  When they install good square doors in non-square openings, they have to “deform” the “new” doors causing the seals to not seal. . . .  They installed the 3rd door without addressing the root cause .  . . .  It still leaks.modular-147
  • The outer vinyl siding on the gable ends sags as much as two inches in some locations (as measured by snapping a chalk line).
  • The soffet at one corner of the house is pushed up about two inches, present since day one, no corrective action taken.
  • The bottom rows of siding around the house are not straight, with multiple “wowwies” visible to the casual observer.modular-103
  • The flooring is damaged in multiple locations, some possibly during the “re-construction” on site when 9+ walls were rebuilt to get closer to the standards specified in the Residential Building Code (RBC).  The Chop Saw was set up in the middle of the living room.  One of the walls was 1 ½” out of plum from top to bottom.
  • Other places in the flooring have holes where the temporary walls, installed during transport, were lag bolted down through the flooring. Lag bolts were removed, holes remain.
  • One wall was crooked over 2 ¾” (bowed out) in 11 feet.  Numerous other walls are also not straight.walls-not-square-7
  • Base molding had gaps of up to ½” from end of base molding and door trim.  (since mostly corrected)
  • Crown molding has gaps of up to 1/4″ at corners where joints were mitered incorrectly.  Gaps were filled with caulking.
  • There are gaps of up to ¼” between straight adjoining sections of crown molding throughout the house.  You can count the total number of sections used in any given room in about 10 seconds just by turning a complete circle, it’s that bad!
  • There are numerous locations where construction debris is present under the flooring, creating a “high spot” in the flooring which will be damaged by walking on it.
  • The countertops are damagedmodular-033
  • They installed the wrong tub in the 2nd bath.  It has since been replaced with a compromise, but the installation is still not complete.
  • The master tub wasn’t even fully plumbed when it arrived.
  • Present in ALL rooms, the final paint we chose doesn’t cover the primer in many locations.  General Manager Jason Atcher of Clayton Homes of Louisville stated on TWO occasions that most buyers repaint upon moving in, and the paint provided is more of a “starter” coat rather than a “final coat”.  Seriously?  Why does our contract specify “Final Colors”?
  • The door into the master bedroom is warped about ¾” from bottom to top.  Instead of replacing the door with a straight one, Clayton’s solution was to relocate the center trim on the door jamb, bending it the same amount the door is warped so it is less apparent to the eye.
  • The kitchen cabinets were noted to be damaged upon delivery.  7 months later, still not replaced, not even sure if they were ever ordered.
  • The kitchen cabinets are off level 3/8” in 5 feet.
  • The dishwasher was installed incorrectly, sticking out into the kitchen so far you can see the white sides with the insulation.  It also leaks water out the door seal. The warranty repairman said it’s not the dishwasher; rather the dishwasher was improperly installed.  The dishwasher is supposed to be tipped back a little to allow the water drain into the center bowl and not stand directly against the seal.  That’s what the installation instructions say that came with the dishwasher too!  The warranty repair guy wouldn’t correct the installation failure unless I paid him myself, and Clayton won’t address the problem.
  • The house was delivered with a main electrical panel with inadequate remaining open spaces to allow installation of the HVAC (heat pump).  We had to pay $1,600.00 out of pocket to have a supplemental 100 amp service panel installed so we could hook up the heat/AC.
  • The insulation in the attic was not up the standards specified in the contract (that has since supposedly been corrected, but not yet verified)
  • Numerous walls are STILL out of square/plump/straight, not meeting standards.  Jerry Tackett, Vice President of Clayton Homes, Maryville, Tennessee stated on 21 December 2016, during a walk-thru of the house that he felt that we would never be happy with this home, and that NO home could possibly meet our standards because our standards are unreasonable.  (The standards we were referring to were obtained from perusal of the International Building Code, the Residential Code, and those generally accepted by the residential housing industry)
  • The floors squeak, pop and flex.  When you go into the crawl space, you can see where entire lines of ring shank nails that are supposed to attach the sub-floor to the floor joists completely missed the joists.
  • The interiors of several closets were not completed, lacking drywall tape, drywall mud, and trim strips even though it was expressly required by contract, pointed out in June of 2016, still not addressed.
  • The front porch safety railing wasn’t fastened.  I don’t mean it wasn’t fastened properly, rather, the bottom support piece for the vertical pickets wasn’t even attached at one end!
  • One of the corner security lights, on the corner of the house that was broken off during or prior to delivery.  It is still broken, with the electrical socket hanging from the electrical wires.  It has been that way that way for over 7 months, still not fixed . .
  • The siding on the front of the house is damaged in multiple locations, parts have been present in the house for months, still not replaced.
  • The back utility door was damaged during shipment, still not corrected.
  • The HVAC Thermostat is apparently defective, it will turn on the heat, but won’t turn it off, the emergency heat strips are on constantly, and the temperature in the house is over 80 degrees.  (We were responsible for installing the heat pump, but the thermostat and wiring were installed by Clayton).  My service tech has done the troubleshooting and it is the thermostat.  Still waiting for Clayton to install a new thermostat.  In the meantime, we are on the hook for the ongoing monthly utility bills.

All the discrepancies we have noted have been reported to Clayton in writing shortly after we discovered them.  Since 31 May, the estimated completion date of the house, 231 days ago, Clayton Homes has had workers working on the house a total of only 35 days.

Since 28 August, 2016, Clayton Homes has had workers out on ONLY ONE DAY!  That was 14 September, when independent contractors finally came out and finished the insulation.

We refuse to accept the house until all the major issues are corrected, and have had to hire an Attorney in order to try and get Clayton Homes to complete the house.  Our last meeting on the house was on 21 December with Jerry Tackett, Vice President of Clayton Homes in Marysville, Tennessee, Jason Atcher, General Manager of Clayton Homes of Louisville, and Robert Heath, General Manager of Clayton Homes along with our attorney.  At that time, Jerry Tackett, Vice President of Clayton Homes, in face to face conversation promised to remove the home and reimburse us for our documented expenses.  The next week when speaking to our attorney, he recanted, going back on his promise, and refusing to remove the home.  We still have no resolution in writing on what will occur to resolve the issue and conversations between our Attorney, and Jerry Tackett don’t sound very promising.

At the start of this whole fiasco, 1 year and 13 days ago, we, per contract, were fully expecting to occupy our new home no later than 1 June, 2016.  231 days have passed since that date, we are no closer to moving in, the roof still leaks, the doors leak, etc, etc, (see above).

I would recommend that anyone considering purchasing a home through Clayton Homes cut their writing hand off in order to prevent them from signing a contract with Clayton Homes “

Sunriver Art Faire

Sunriver Art Faire

August 12-14

Jury $25

Booth $300

Held in the resort town of Sunriver near Bend Oregon. Saw a lot of advertising on facebook and around town. Don’t know about other advertising as we are out of state. We did this show in combination with a vacation to see family in Washington. About 70 artists at the show located in a shopping center area with restaurants, tourist shops and bike shops. Friday, Saturday and Sunday show .

Weather was beautiful on Friday though hot for this area. Crowd was light, but our sales were ok for a Friday. Saturday was hot… everyone was down at the river and not here. No crowd at any point.. just a few people wandering in and out. Sales were dismal for a Saturday. Today the weather is supposed to be a lot cooler. People are already here thought it’s early, so we will see what the day brings.

The sales (Some artists had great sales, some okay and some not at all) weren’t as good as we hoped for, but still good considering the crowd.   It was down from previous years.  I think weather was a big factor.  We’d be willing to do the show again if we get juried it.

The staff and volunteers all absolutely wonderful  Booth sitters are plentiful and there through out the day.  They provided small breakfasts and wonderful lunches (one per tent) for the entire 3 days.  The last day is was catered by the local Italian restaurant… delicious.

It was an easy set up and a wonderfully controlled tear down.. they make sure not to let people in before they are broken down so no one gets stuck.  Most of the time every one is out of there by 6.  Really enjoyed working with the people.  Beautiful area.

Sunriver-Bend RV Park – Thousand Trails

Sunriver Oregon Thousand Trails Bend-Sunriver RV Park

We arrive Sunriver, a resort town in the high desert in Oregon. Reservations had been made for the dates for the show about 3 months ago. We added two days in the front of the reservation about a week prior because we were arriving early. We arrived to the RV park. They would only let us check in for the two day stay because they won’t combine reservations. They do not reserve a specific spot for you. You have to drive around and find a spot. The campground is really full and it was really frustrating to try and figure out where to we would fit.

They don’t have sewer hook ups either. Most of the spots available were too small for our RV. But we finally found one on the back part of the campground.  The fact they don’t reserve a specific spot would have been enough to make me not stay here again.  We did find a new spot closer to the front and bigger the next day.

The kids left on the second day to go to their Aunt’s in Washington, so it’s just Scot, me and the cats while we do the Sunriver Art Festival.

We have been taking the grey water in the sewer caddy every other day to the dump. There is only 2 dumps and every time we have been there they are over flowing.  No one seems to care that there was a problem.  Trash was also over flowing at some areas.

This is our first experience with a campground in the thousand trails, but we are not impressed and can’t understand why you would buy into it if this is an example of the type of facility.  The miniature golf area was in bad condition with carpeting being torn etc.  Pools looked fine though.  They did have a large community area where you could hold an event.

Sunriver is a pretty place. I would like to have more time to explore more.

Www.thousandtrails.com/oregon/bend-sunriver-rv-campground/

http://visitcentraloregon.com/sunriver