It DOES take a heap of living

(If you know that reference, you’re in worse literary shape than I thought.) It might seem that I am flighty and fickle, making big decisions hither and yon. Not true, although my writing about them is the most scattered, air-brained journaling imaginable. (Oh. An aside. This made me laugh. At the zoo, the lead curator was telling us Monday about how all the flamingo eggs this year ended up being duds. We were musing about the nest-tending skills of the flock and she said, “Well, since they share one brain cell among the lot of them…” It’s true that flamingos are highly daft in unison- it’s like synchronized stupidity. Okay, enough about politics.)

So. The new home. It’s part of a carefully crafted five year plan and we are now in year two. The plan is for Rich to work like a demon while I manage our personal affairs and between us, we’ll be situated to retire while we are still young enough to enjoy mountain hikes, fly-fishing, time with friends, volunteering, kayaking in the bayou and so on. This will be possible because, other than real estate, I shop not one wit (okay. fiber. I buy fiber. You got me there.) and Rich can’t imagine a time when he is not consulting and speaking parttime. We knew already that we were interested in the mountains, staying east to be near family and not so far from our Florida respite and friends. We need to be near some smart culture, good food farms, medical care if necessary, lifelong learning opportunities and still feel as though we’re living side by side with the natural world. Rich and I have been blessed with work that we love and professional lives that have sustained us but after four decades of that, we’ve been thinking seriously about a time when work is not the focus. Okay, I have been thinking about that. Rich still sees his best work coming in the next few years. But it wouldn’t be a stretch to say we have each, individually and together, done a heap of living to get close to this home.

In any case, this trip to Asheville was not out of the blue but rather a part of a lot of research and inquiry. We looked at property now because it is clearly a buyer’s market and Wit’s Ends funds had been earmarked for this purpose. Who knew that we could trade one small piece of heaven for a whole hillside of it? We found the house about 15 miles outside of Asheville, to the southeast. The drive to town is very pleasant and relatively traffic free, passing along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is in an area of nice homes mixed with attractive small farms all with ample acreage. I vowed the day would come when I couldn’t see my neighbor’s lights and this place fits the bill. We purchased the house now and I think, I hope, we’ve found a lovely woman to rent it for the next couple years. She is a writer and a gardener and lives alone so I said she could have a dog. (Insert smile.) It will be hard not to be there, but I have a hunch it’s going to be well loved in the interim.

The house itself is humble and modest, clean and bright. It’s a 1956 cottage. Excellent vintage. It is less than 2000 square feet with only a few rooms, each large and full of light. Two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room/dining room and a study with glass doors onto a deck hanging over the hillside. The stone work outside is extensive and solid and moss covered and delicious. There’s a 20 x 50 full sun garden wrapped with a lichen embossed picket fence and lined already with chicken wire. There are woods and rhododendrons and azaleas and dogwoods and an apple tree.

Also, there are bats. What do you know about getting rid of bats? I mean, not rid of them, but out of the house rid of them. They have come in up at the attic vents. I suspect they have some young amongst them; it’s that time of year, but they should be mostly full grown. I need to come up with a plan where the bats can get out but not back in. Here’s the other thing I want to know: if I put up bat houses in the trees, say half an acre away, will they go find them and be satisfied? That would be the very best thing.

22 responses to “It DOES take a heap of living

  1. Very, very lovely…how about Notre Dame beating Michigan today?!

    You certainly will have the best of both worlds with a home in Florida and another in North Carolina.

  2. Let me tell you what I know about bats in the attic. First of all, yes they would be satisfied with many houses and yes they will find them if you make it easy for them. The reason they are in the attic is because they just needed a place to hang out. They looked very hard to find a space to get in, so if you leave the houses high in the trees….they will like that. But…..(there is always a but) the main concern that you would have is their droppings in your attic ……they are very toxic!!!! In my case, all the insulation had to be removed and some bleach type product on the floor, walls, etc. I would recommend that you find a company trained in cleaning this out, and they would also have live traps and they will fill in the spot where the bats are getting in.
    Good Luck!!!!

  3. Your new home looks lovely. I don’t know about keeping bats out of the attic — I know that with the skunk that moved in under our house, we had to wait until we KNEW it was out from under there and then plug all the holes that led under the house before it could possibly have come back. Can you be up in the attic and see that they have all left?

    I hope this home brings you and Rich much joy.

  4. It looks and sounds beautiful. As to bats, I know nothing. (although I do sometimes feel that I have “bats in my belfry”) Congrats on the new home-to-be.

  5. You know, bats eat mosquitoes, so I’d consider keeping them. Maybe not in the attic, but close enough to the house to keep the bugs at bay.

    We have a tiny attic crawlspace that we currently use for storing extra roof tiles. I was thinking about converting that into a bat-house, until I found out that we have to move. We might have trouble finding renters if the attic’s full of bats…

  6. The house sounds lovely. And I know that piece of heaven you describe. I sigh with contentment thinking about it and try to ward of jealousy. You are very blessed.

  7. We have had squirrels in our attic and wanted to find the least awful solution. In talking with people here in Maine and then Googling, mothballs were most often suggested. So we scattered mothballs in the attic and no more squirrels up there. I just looked and it seems the same solution is suggested for bats. It is an inexpensive solution and worth trying for starters.

  8. Ditto Cathy’s advice.

    Your ducks are really lined up.

  9. I’ve read that one-way exits are the best — the bats fly out and can’t fly back in. Here’s one link:

  10. First, lovely house. I can’t wait to see all that you do with it once you’re living there.

    Bats: I have the same problem. The excluders (one-way exits) followed by disinfection of the space and sealing the entry points is the solution recommended by wildlife-friendly folks. Also highly recommended: hire a wildlife-friendly licensed critter controller to do this, especially since you won’t be in residence. Our eviction and repair was reasonably priced and came with a six-year guarantee.

    Like you, I like bats, but I’ve discovered it’s really not healthy to share your home with them. Now is a good time to address the problem, as the babies are grown and able to fend for themselves. In spring, you have to wait out the nursing period before you can get rid of them humanely.

  11. …to make a house a home. Call me a literary naif, but I like Edgar Guest and have more than a few old Ideals magazines around my home.

    Even with your knack at perfect planning, life will include a few fumbles.


  12. One relatively simple way to move the bats out of the attic — it worked for my mother — is to leave lights on in the attic. None of the other things we tried worked, but this did. Best of luck!

    P.S.: Do you know about the music center in Brevard, NC? I understand their summer series of presentations are very special.

  13. Aw. It’s too bad you already found a renter. 😦 BUT, what a wonderful bit of luck! And gorgeous place! And that synchronized stupidity bit was HYSTERICAL in a very sad way…

  14. I like that moss-covered walkway. You will make that home a haven in short order. Good luck with the renter. I hope you are able to rid the attic of bats better than we have rid our house of bees.

  15. It’s sad, but I could recite the words of the Edgar Guest poem. It’s one of those I had to memorize in grade school and it just stuck with me.

    I know for certain you will be happy here in the Western NC mountains. Life is good here and Susan is correct, we have a marvelous music center here in Brevard. And Asheville offers wonderful plays and concerts.

  16. I have no advice regarding bats, but I know you will find a humane way to deal with them.

    You know, I rather preferred the flighty-Vicki version of this story rather than the well-planned-Vicki version. The thought of you suddenly plunking down money on a cottage in the NC mountains was very romantic and appealing somehow. Either way, though, it all sounds good.

  17. Your next home is beautiful.

    RE: Bats – I assume you will appreciate this bit of a bat story…lover of animals that you are.

    At the lake we have a couple bat houses hanging high up in the trees, hung specifically with the intent of keeping the bats away from the cabin. And, although we no longer have bats hanging from the eaves we have discovered they are not using the bat houses. Instead they have taken to a now partially hollow tree (I suspect more hollow than not) with a hole way up in the canopy; and every evening, just at sunset, you can sit on the beach and watch the bats exit the tree. There are a lot of them, 20+ for sure, and I cheer silently for them to have a good mosquito hunt.

  18. Now that’s a well-told lovely story about house-hunting/finding.

    I am surprised that you opted for a space where there are no “seeable” neighbors, for I know how much you like people. But not terribly awfully surprised, just sorta, you know?

    Thanks for the fine story, Vickster. You’re an ace.

  19. It looks lovely…. and much closer to VaBch than Chicago… hmm.. Brevard is where our two ragdoll cats come from…

    It looks so peaceful and I could do with some of that right now!

  20. What a beautiful home and lovely land. Looks like a great place to spend retirement years, grow some veggies, and watch the sun set.

    Good luck with the bats.

  21. I can definitely see you in this sweet little house, Vicki. I look forward to seeing what native plants and flowers you bring to this little bit of heaven in the next couple of years. Great choice of location.

  22. It’s lovely. Congratulations.

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