“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Call me moody, but I’m in love with this place. I know, I know. Yesterday it was completely overwhelming and I’m sure it will be again tomorrow, but today was a crystal blue and green day with amazing progress. Our contractor returned from a weeks vacation and just like magic, the builders had the lot cleaned up. I did a whole lot of phoning yesterday and when I arrived early this morning, the garden was being tilled, ice-damaged and fallen trees cut and cleared and a truckload of additional dirt was on it’s way. Habitat was scheduled to pick up the old cabinets, windows and vanities first thing tomorrow and a new dumpster and johnny-on-the-spot showed up before lunch.

The main reason for the quick turn around in my mood is the dirt. As absolutely breathtaking as the view is, I still expected the dirt to be crummy. All clay and unworkable. But lo and behold! I have really wonderful dirt. It’s soft and crumbles finely and clearly has been used for gardening for many years. The more time I spend walking around the lot, the more I find evidence of previous garden love side-by-side with wildflowers, dogwood, rhododendrons and azaleas. The yard is abloom with 3 different colors of violets, trillium are up by the creek, daffodils everywhere. There are two incredible wisteria, both getting ready to bloom. I’m moving lots of iris and there are large patches of day lilies that appear to be specialty types as opposed to your basic orange (they have lots of different leaf formations).

I had worked hard to locate a load of really good garden loam full of compost and when that arrived late afternoon I was delighted to see that it was, well, full of shit. Because really, nothing turns me on like good dirt.

I’m missing Rich a lot this trip, despite my friend’s good company and assistance. As things take shape I want to share our new view and my excitement over our future life here. I think we will be back here together in a couple weeks- maybe the windows will even be in!

The hotel internet is hopelessly slow, taking forever to upload and open pages so it’s difficult for me to share all I would like and to get around to visit (and to beat Kenju Judy at Lexulous). I’m looking forward to posting lots of photos when I get home on Friday. Tomorrow is garden planting day so I’ll be up bright and early before the sun gets too high. This is the last time I will stay in a hotel while working on the home remodel; next time the HVAC and all systems will be up and running and even if finishes aren’t done or kitchen installed, we’ll stay at the house on an air mattress. I’ve been lucky that Abby’s college barista and catering job at the Hilton have gotten us rock bottom hotel rates. We’ve joked that no matter what else she does, she has to keeping catering at the Hilton so we can travel in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed. But as of today, I’m guessing her catering days are behind her because…


Abby was accepted to the PhD program in Marine Science and Conservation at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment with a full five year financial support package, including all expenses, travel and health insurance. She will spend her first year in Durham beginning this fall ( a mere 225 miles from Asheville) and then she will be off to the lab on Pivers Island in Beaufort, NC, right next to the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. Really, she will undoubtedly be spending much of her time continuing her research in sustainable coastal ecology in the Yucatan and elsewhere. Misha will join her as soon as he finishes his degree in business next December; in the meantime we will be sure to have him to dinner several times a week while we’re in Florida and we’ll look forward to frequent visits in NC.

Duke’s program is highly competitive and she was so focused on going to Duke and only Duke, that in true Abby style she didn’t bother applying anywhere else. I thought this was risky business; she was determined. We are absolutely delighted for her and with her. But then, I thought she was pretty great in the old days when she was working for Student Painters and jello wrestling…


15 responses to “Dirt


    And momma, I’m glad to see things shaping up so beautifully at the house. So exciting!

  2. Congrats on the dirt and on your brilliant daughter!

    • Dear Vicki,

      What wonderful news about Abby! It brought tears to my eyes when I think of your talented daughter, and son being step sister and brother to Melissa and Anna. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. Not only that but all of the love you have given our girls over the years is so special, but not as special as you.

      I love your dirt log because there is nothing like good dirt to work with making gardens grow. Here in MO we have had to put mulch and sand into our dirt to make it now rich and useful for our gardens. We also have a compost for our vegetable garden.

      There is nothing like Spring to make flowers grow. Here in MO Spring has within a week mushroomed into looking like Summer. Our Wisteria is already in full bloom and our Lilies of the Valley are also starting to bloom! Normally they don’t get to this stage until May 12th.

      For some reason I thought you already had a house in Ashville so … are building something else on your property? It looks great whatever it is going to be.

      Enjoy that dirt!

  3. HEALTH INSURANCE!! That’s all I care about.

  4. Congratulations Abby! How good news about our children makes the whole world seem right. Throw in a truckload of good dirt, and well, there’s almost nothing better. Except having your special someone sleeping beside you in a house with an incredible view. Air mattress or no air mattress, Rich better get himself to Asheville. I am SOOOOO happy for Abby! Great news!

  5. Congratulations to Abby!!!! And to have her at least that close to Asheville! Nyssa successfully defended her Master’s thesis so she will graduate (again) and be off to her Phd. program out in Nevada. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes and blizzards…..

    Love that dirt. Here with the recycled yard waste and from other “sources” the waste treatment facility makes this magnificent compost…. it makes the clay soil so lovely and smells so… well, earthy. Yes, lousy description. I am asking everyone who mentions wisteria… do you have the asian forms out there in the forest or are their any American forms around… like Amethyst Falls or Kentucky Blue Moon. I planted the latter to go up to the trellis on our sunroom but still have a bit of fear and trepidation about the choice. I have also thought about Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), as the native variety has medium sized trumped blooms that are red on the outside and yellow in the center and it is more well-behaved. Also the hummingbirds and butterflies adore it. So many plants, so many varieties… so little time and not enough room to plant.

  6. Oh… good luck with the windows. Anderson? Takes at least eight weeks after ordering… that was the very first thing our contractor did when we knew the HOA approved our project and it still took a month longer than he expected to get them.

  7. HOORAY for Abby – and just think how close she is to ME!! (25 miles) Which, I hope, will bring YOU close to me often!! I can’t wait!

    The new home is really shaping up; you have done more there already than I have done in the last 10 years here. My yard is pitiful and you would find no evidence here of past or present garden love or wildflowers – just deer and coons and foxes and frogs and squirrels, etc., which I am sure you have in abundance as well.

  8. Good dirt and a brilliant daughter!! You have hit the jackpot. I can’t believe how lush and green your yard is already. Oh the food you will grow there… I can’t wait to see your garden take shape.

    I love what Abby is studying, and I am impressed by her determination. Duke it is!

  9. Well, ditto to all the other posts. It sounds like a zip-a-dee-doo-dah day.

  10. Go Abs!!!!! Fantastic!!!!!!
    ( garden envy)


    That is wonderful Abby news and we are all super proud of her!

  12. Great news about Abby and the house in Asheville. It looks like a gorgeous site. Robin is working on a degree in Environmental STudies. Let’s hope the next generation can save the earth (with Sarah Palin around, we need all the help we can get!!!)

  13. Way to go, Abby! There are some nature bloggers up there at Duke, in marine science, no less.

    Congratulations to you, too, VB. I’m not at all surprised you have a brilliant and successful daughter. Your NC home will be as charming and lovely as the one in Florida, and you’ll have a never-ending succession of visitors. Including me, to test out that already-famous swing. And remember, I can bring you stuff from Zingerman’s.

    Awesome all round.

  14. Ditto with what Cathy said! According to Margaret Atwood I smell great!

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