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Archive for March, 2010

Mountain Flora

I know I wrote before about landscaping.  We have a landscape designer lined up and she and I have had several wonderful conversations.  But, it is that time of year (spring) when a young (poetic license) gal’s fancy turns to flowers.  So with that, I shall be dedicating this installment to thoughts on incorporating flowers into our landscape.

I love flowers.  When I hired a landscaper for our current home (the one we live in now, not the one we are building) I told him I wanted something blooming all season long.  He did a marvelous job of that.  I have clusters and groupings of plants that give me something blooming all season.  And that’s what I’d like in our new home.  Thing is, I don’t know much about what will bloom in Grand Lake, when the growing season is, how early something will bloom or mountain landscaping at all.  That’s why I have a landscape designer.  Her charge is to come up with the clusters and groupings but I’d like something blooming all season.

I was in the CO mountains a couple of 4th of July’s ago with my sister and we spent a day surrounded by lovely mountain vistas and landscapes.  It was the annual Leadville Heavy Half Marathon and my sister (God bless her) agreed to do this with me.  It starts in Leadville (which is about 10,000 feet in elevation), goes all the way up to the top of Mosquito pass (13,000 + feet) and back to Leadville.  There is a marathon involved too, but we were not that ambitious, so we just did the heavy half.  Called the Heavy Half, btw, because it was about 15 miles rather than 13.1.  She and I walked this.  Along the way the wildflowers were spectacular and one such picture is below.  I would LOVE my yard to look like this–i.e. have such a fabulous variety of wildflowers.

Well, you probably cannot see the lovely wildflowers in this picture (but ya gotta admit, the view is spectacular!).  So, here are a couple of close-up shots of the flowers.  I found some of these online but the first one, I took during the race.

These are the classic Columbines.  I believe this is the state flower of Colorado and one flower my husband just loves.  I’m able to grow them just about anywhere, but when they are in their natural surroundings, they are gorgeous.  And this one was in a dirt and rock-filled area so as you can see, they grow well anywhere.  I think this is a must for our yard.

What other flowers were blooming on our trek up Mosquito pass?  One was the Scarlet Paintbrush.  Beautiful red color.  Is it native?  I think so, but I’m not sure.  (Note: I do not now, nor will I probably ever, know the Latin names of any of the flowers.  Oh sure, my sister can rattle those off like nothing, but not me and I’m not gonna try even for this blog).  A lovely picture is below.  This one I did find online.  I don’t know what the yellow flower is in the picture, but who cares?  If it’s native and my husband isn’t allergic to it, well, I’m game!

If anyone knows what the yellow flower is, please let me know.  Also, the blue one.  It’s a bit blurred, but it almost looks like a Larkspur.  That’s a pure guess on my part.  I’m just trying to impress you with my knowledge of CO wildflowers.  And, unless I have a guide book handy (which I do while writing this) complete with pictures (which it is) I wouldn’t be able to tell you much of anything!  What other pretty pictures have I come across on CO wildflowers?  Below are just a couple, but boy do they make me smile.  As I said, I just love flowers.

Breathtaking, aren’t they?

What else did we see?  I was constantly pelting my sister with “What’s that flower?” questions.  She was quite patient with me and was able to identify almost, if not all, the flowers that were out.  I will admit, the higher we climbed, the harder it was to understand her answers.  Although she is used to the altitude, having lived in CO for many years, she wasn’t used to walking 13.1 miles, let alone 15 miles all from 10,000 to 13,000+ feet!  There were several times when I think she wanted to kick me as I kept asking about the flowers and she was gasping for air!  Tee, hee, luv ya sis!!  (And, yeah, she’ll probably get me for this).

So, I have this wonderful vision of lots of wildflowers growing in our yard.  I hope we can come up with a fabulous selection and one that the local wildlife won’t want to eat entirely.  But, that’s fodder for another blog.

Did we finish the race?  Yup.  I’ve always been able to run a half-marathon in ~2.5 hours.  I even ran a marathon once; came in under 6 hours.  This one took us around 6 hours 42 minutes if I remember correctly and I cannot think of a better way to spend a day.  Walking and talking with my sister in the mountains of Colorado on a gorgeous, bright, sunny day surrounded by beautiful vistas and wildflowers.  Heaven.

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Improving On Perfection

I didn’t know it was possible to improve on perfection.  Well, in my eyes, our floor plan was perfection.  However, after our architect went up to view our lot for the first time, he did just that–he improved the floor plan.

I will admit, I was quite concerned when he said they had been up to view the lot and he wanted a conference call.  He had some suggestions for changes based on the positions of the neighboring houses.  My mind immediately went to worst-case scenario.  I had visions of splitting the bedrooms, changing the lovely front courtyard, eliminating all the things I loved about the plan.  I really should learn to trust him.  Dave has never steered us wrong; his ideas have all be fabulous and this was no different.

First, let’s review the original plan.  Below is that plan.  Notice the back of the house and how it steps down from the family room to the living room to the master suite.

Now, notice the layout of the master bathroom and the bedroom wing of the house.  It’s a bit wider.  But, after Dave and Teresa visited the lot, he thought it would be better to have a bit more privacy for the house.  He’s suggested, in essence, stretching the bedroom wing to frame the living room view.

This is the newly proposed back of the house.  The middle is the living room and breakfast nook.  To the left is the family room, to the right the master suite.  Can’t you just see me sitting at the breakfast nook gazing out on the marvelous view?  Oh yeah.

This is the newly proposed bedroom wing.  Notice how the wing is stretched.  To get to the bathroom, we will go through a short hallway between the closets.  The toilet and shower are separate and the sinks are at the back of the bathroom.

There are a couple changes to the guest bedrooms.  Can you spot them?  The hot water heater, etc is in an alcove just before the middle bedroom.  That bedroom also has access to the sink outside of the guest bathroom.  I like this arrangement.  We’ll move the door to the middle bedroom to be flush with the wall so access to the hot water heater is not inside that bedroom.  And the front bedroom will be bigger than pictured here.

So, what do you think?  Well, it doesn’t matter, because I love it.  And I gotta say, having Dave and Teresa visit the lot was like having an advance team–I’ve got an entourage!  They made all kinds of contacts for us, getting names of builders, interior designers, etc.  I feel like some kind of very important person with my own people!  Hee hee.  We’ll be there at the end of April to visit places in the valley and meet up with Dave and Teresa.  I can’t wait!  I’m counting the days.

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Entry Elevations

About once a week, we get another sketch from our architect.  It’s like Christmas.  Something new to open and I just know I will love it.  It’s usually a couple of variations for a single feature on the house.  This week, we received entry elevations.

This is the elevation A.

Now, this shows the gable over the dining room with the front door to the left of the dining room.  Keep in mind that the front bedroom will block part of the front porch.  The garage is to the right of the dining room.

This is elevation B.

This one shows the gable over the front door with the dining room to the right of the front door.  So, the position of the rooms hasn’t changed but the location of the gable has.  This one also shows some more window features than A and more stone work (like at the base of the pillars).

So, which do you like better?  What features of each do you like?  Do you have a gable at the front of your house?  What does it look like?

On another subject: let’s talk windows.  These elevations also capture some of the variations and possibilities for windows in the house.  I will confess that I haven’t started thinking about window options.  We rather like the idea of those art deco square glass blocks in the bathroom like the ones shown here.  This would look really nice on the wall where the bathtub in the master bathroom is located.  Has anyone used these before?  How much privacy do these glass blocks give?

What other windows are used in mountain homes?  Can anyone give me some websites to peruse or examples of homes to look at?  I’m looking for something that is appropriate for the home and that will have good insulation.  Got any ideas?

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I’ve been doing a lot of research on the use of “blue” pine specifically for flooring.  I’ve learned a whole lot more than I ever thought I’d know about this.  And I’d like to find out if anyone out there has blue pine in their home.  If so, how are you using it?

For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon (and unless you live in an area that is infested with this you probably are not aware of it), the Mountain Pine Beetle is a tiny little beetle that lives on pine bark.  I’m by no means an expert–and I will try to get the facts correct (my disclaimer)–but this particular beetle is responsible for ravaging the forests of Colorado.  Below is an example of the damage the beetle wreaks on the forests.

See all that brown?  Those are trees that have been killed by the beetle.  In addition to eating the pine bark, the MPB injects a blue tinted fungus into the tree that eventually kills it.  It has caused bilions of dollars in damage.

So, the question becomes, is there a way to make something good out of this situation.  The answer is, apparently, yes.  They are using this “blue” pine wood to make furniture, cabinets and flooring.  From the pictures I see on the internet, this is really beautiful wood!  Below is a picture of hardwood flooring using this wood.  This is from the Be Green Build Blue website.

I think this is gorgeous.  I really like the blue striations and the contrast between the regular wood color and the blue color is fabulous.

So, here are my questions:  does anyone have this wood in their house for flooring?  How does it hold up to regular traffic patterns?  I’ve heard that pine wood, in general, is softer wood and therefore is not the best for flooring.  Anyone want to comment on that?  What about other uses for this wood–cabinets, stairs, etc.  I’d really like to explore its use.  Let me know how you are using this in your home.

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