Monthly Archives: October 2010


I’ve always loved Stephen King.

Even when he was Richard Bachman.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s King wrote under both names, publishing magazine horror stories as Stephen King and writing novels as Richard Bachman that sold to no one.

Then, later,  as his star streaked meteorically skyward and publishers were clamoring to publish anything and everything he wrote and since there was only so much Stephen King to go around- the Richard Bachman novels slowly started leaking out.

Like Running Man.

Like The Long Walk.

Like Rage.

Like Thinner.

Blaze is the last of them and actually pretty damn good. Stephen King always tells a really good story and has that knack for making you care for his characters whether you like them or not and Blaze is no exception.

In Blaze, King’s homage to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Blaze and George are cast as shitheel, low-rent losers who hatch a plan to kidnap the kid of a rich family. Unfortunately George is dead and Blaze is fumblingly going ahead with the plan alone, even though he’s bull-simple. (George’s words, not mine)

It’s classic Stephen King, albeit younger and rawer and less polished.

If you have a chance, pick it up- you can read it in an afternoon and won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time.



I found out a coupla days ago that we have to get a CAMA permit on top of everything else. CAMA addresses waterfront property and our shitty little addition to global warming, as near as I can tell.

I think it’s just another hand held out, sweatily grasping.

But it made me look at the whole project and try and get a handle on costs so far. I’d originally budgeted $55-$65 grand to build our tiny 1600 square foot get-out-town-doggy-dreamhouse.

And I was amazed and saddened-

Land Disturbance Permit- $150

Engineered topographical site plan- $1060

CAMA- $100

Health Evaluation- $225

Septic Permit- $225

Well Permit- $400

Fill required by the Health Evaluation- $10,800

Operator to push the fill around- $600

Dominion Power to bring electricity to the budding burgeoning little house- $5000

Total- $18,560 to have a site that we still need to add-

Septic- $3000

A well- $3500

And pilings- $4680

New total for a humpy landmass with sticks sticking out of the ground ready to build the doggy dreamhouse on- $29,740.

$29,740 dollars to get to the starting gate.

Dreams die a hard, ugly death. They don’t give up easily. They grasp at your arms and caress your face and soul and want to sit in your lap and smile up at you. They want to breathe the fresh air and gaze up at the sunny blue sky with you and stroke your hair and whisper in your ear.

But I don’t know.

I’m not so sure anymore.


Yeah, so this weekend was our annual Big Chill- our fishing fueled, alcohol drenched, memory erasing, bikini-clad romp back into adolescence.


I LOVE Beaufort

Every year about this time we all converge (we all being a group of decades old friends) on a little cottage in Beaufort NC and hang out and wish we’re younger than we are.

And mostly we succeed. Mostly ’cause we try hard.

Each morning the women make sandwiches while the men drink bloody marys and stare at the Weather Channel wondering what it’s gonna be like offshore.

Then we load everything and everybody up and head out. We drop the women off on an island so they can hunt shells and gossip and suntan and we head out to do manly fishing things.

And it’s cool and it’s fun and it’s one of the best weekends of the year.

But ya know what? Getting back home and having Cutter and Tug proudly jerk and yank me kicking and screaming and cursing around the block makes me realize how much I love home.

Home Sweet Home baby.

See? Told’ja.

After drawing our little home a bajillion times, I started drawing the floor plan into elevations and found out that windows were in really weird places and the the roof line was REALLY getting helter skelter.

I suck.

But at least it stopped me before we were left with the new house version of a red-headed step-child or negro spaceship. I tried moving things around to accommodate symmetry and shit just got worse and worse and looser and looser.

So I started all over again. Beach Box. Simple. Small. Condensed. Focused.

And this is what I came up with.

It matches all the criteria we need to meet, it’s simple and small and hopefully Miss Carol won’t find too many things to change.

We’re still waiting on the engineered drawings for our septic system that’ll allow us get the Soil Disturbance Permit, which’ll allow us to get the Septic Permit, and the Well Permit, and hopefully, at some distant point on the horizon, our personal Holy Grail- The BUILDING PERMIT.

Can it possibly ever be true?

Oh, and then shit, I just found out we may need a CAMA permit. Not quite sure what that one is yet, but I’m guessin’ it’s more folks wantin’ some money.

My head reels.

So on Saturday I went down and mowed the lot and I was feeling sorry for myself and wondering when, if ever, we would begin construction, thinking back to my overly optimistic summer prediction that we’d be under way by mid-October.

So I mowed, spittin’ grass, kinda pissed that the world wouldn’t adhere to my timetable, when all the sudden, a thought bubble burst -I wasn’t JUST mowing- I was doing preliminary SITE WORK.

The warm channels of my brain lit up and just like that I was back on track.

Update and some details?

While the increasingly numerous permits wind themselves through the system that is North Carolina, seeking a goal, an end, I wait.

And while I wait, I’ll update, ummmK?

Dominion Power has cancelled the work order for construction temp service because they need to see the house coming out of the ground before they’ll extend primary service down the street and since primary would have to be constructed before temp service, it means I’ll hate them ’till I draw my last labored breath, but, HEY- at least I finally got a good explanation about the costs.

Get this- when lots are laid out, but no development is planned, the power company has to guarantee service at some kinda price, and since they can’t possibly extrapolate that cost over decades ’cause that would be silly, and knowing that feeding my house would eventually break the back of the company and millions would be left in the cold and dark they have to protect their profits.

So they put a number out there, a ridiculously silly number representing utility construction in the 40’s- and then contractually force the customer to pay the difference. I gnash and growl but unless I want to live by candlelight I have no choice. They are the monopoly and I’m the yearning. So WTF?

Kinda like the government- but don’t get me started.


Some details on our little house. If your eyes glaze over, um, come back tomorrow?

Over the years, I’ve probably drawn and re-drawn our doggy dreamhouse about a bajillion times. We’ve gone from 4000 sq ft to 900 sq ft and everything in between.

It was ridiculously time wasting fun. But when we finally, really started talking about what it was we REALLY wanted, what we REALLY needed, it turned out that it wasn’t that much, that it was much less the more we thought about it.

We wanted a view.

We wanted an open kitchen/living area.

And we only wanted two bedrooms and bathrooms ’cause  we’ve learned after decades and centuries of living at the beach that small is good. We love entertaining but really love being able to visit with the folks that come and stay with us. Too many bedrooms and you have a crowd, a horde, and you end up cooking and cleaning and not really being able to rub up against your guests.

And rubbing up against is good, right? ooh baby, baby.

Another reason for smallness is the funny thing about space- it’ll fill up before you know what’s happening and then you have a whole buncha stuff you gotta take care of. So we kept doggydreamville small.

Now if I can just get it built someday.

Stumbling forward.

So come to find out, this is how it works.

At first you go to the Health Department so they can do soil samples and tell you what you need to do to improve your lot for septic, ’cause you don’t want turds floating around in your backyard and hey, I get it.

Then, when the Health Department comes back with their site evaluation-saying you’re gonna have to truck in 70 or 80 truckloads of sand and fill to make your home the turd-free place you want it to be and you say, shitmotherfucker- OK?-’cause you don’t have any choice, right?

So then you say- can I pay for my septic permit ($225) and well permit ($400) now? Please?

And they say-


And then they laugh their big hearty laughs- HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

They say- first you have to go to the newly formed Soil Conservation Office, ’cause you’re, you know, adding soil and stuff, and so you go to the newly formed Soil Conservation Office and when you do, they tell you you’re gonna need one of their newly formed Land Disturbance Permits.

And so you ask- swallowing hard and choking back dirty words- ’cause you’re gonna have to work with these folks for the next several months, you say- umm, err, (trying to be respectful) what is it I need to do, to get a Land Disturbance Permit?

And the man, who I am sure was the previously unemployed half-brother or uncle or friend of the guy at the Health Department, says you gotta get an engineered site plan and submit it to me, the newly formed Soil Conservation Department, prior to getting the septic permit that’ll allow you to get the building permit that’ll allow you to actually BUILD something that, you know, looks like a HOUSE.


And you wonder why there’re people in towers with rifles.

So anyway, that’s where we stand- or sit- on a bulldozer with the motor gently idling, a long line of sand-filled dump trucks stretching out to the horizon and wondering why they gotta make it so hard.


On the perfect day of the year I finished the most perfect book I’ve read in a long while.

The History of Love is amazing.

But when I was trying to tell Miss Carol about it and why it was so excellent, I couldn’t think of why it was so perfect.

Did it have bombs and action and car wrecks? Miss Carol asked.

Nope, none of that. I said.

Were there a buncha love scenes that gave you a woodie? Miss Carol purred.

Nooooo, none of those either, I said, blushing.

Then what was it that made soooo great? Miss Carol shrieked, angrily flipping up her hands.

I don’t know. I said.

And that’s when Miss Carol looked at me the way she does when she can’t figure me out or like we’d just met or something, and said- Hmmm, like maybe I was lying or had done something wrong.

But it’s true and I can’t figure it out- it’s just one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s not gonna change the world, it’s not the sorta book that would be a box office hard charger- were anyone ever to make a movie out of it- It’s just good.

It’s good like your first kiss. It’s good like hugging a puppy.

It’s a ten- I loved it.


I’m not an expert. But I did have creds, you know, before I left the industry.

And I’m not basing any of this on hard fact or statistics, mostly because I’m too lazy and busy with other shit to gather it or them.

So call all of this woolgathering. It’s an old word meaning an indulgence in aimless thought.

Which is what this is. Aimless thought- so indulge me.

IT. Information Technology.

Over the last several years, I’ve been working and thinking and listening to people and watching the news and reading stuff and today it all kinda coalesced into this-

I think we’re at the BEGINNING of a new age. A technological revolution. Call it the IT AGE, call it the March of Technology, call it whatever you want. I realize, I know, we’ve had computers and IT for years but the paradigm has shifted and grown ominous.

This isn’t about the happily texting and sexting.

It’s more about the Industrial Revolution that shoved us as a people from agrarian farm folk into towns and factories and office cubicles.

I think the IT AGE revolution is gonna completely strip the gears and bitch-slap our lives as we used to know them.

And I think it’s gonna hurt more than we know.

Smaller, faster, and more portable means no reason for a fixed address. Why have an office building when all your employees can work from wherever via laptop and internet teleconferencing? And let’s don’t forget IM and tweeting.

If you think the residential collapse was bad, wait for commercial real estate to tank. That’ll be a fun ride.


Besides office buildings standing empty, think about the way you shop. Amazon and the everything stores online, self checkout at the grocery store. They all add up to more for less. More shopping and less employees.

And as those jobs go away, they ain’t comin’ back. Not never.

So what’s the answer?

There isn’t one. Like the farmers generations ago standing in their fields and staring at the factories and cities they didn’t want to live in and wondering what was gonna happen, we’re caught up in something way bigger and massively more generational than we could possibly hope to alter or change.

So anyway.

Aimless thoughts, woolgathering really, on a really pretty day working outside building a deck.

Forgive me


After months and months of trying and hoping for a little one, it was surprising how fast it happened.

It looks like we’re pregnant with a little bitty house.

On Friday, I found out that the 20-some odd windows we’d been given for free, that I’d designed the house around, didn’t have the required coastal DP rating so we can’t use them. So for the umpteenth bazillionth time, I redesigned our tiny touron hideway, and it’s DONE.

And this time I drew it in INK and I’m posting it so it’ll be harder for me to want to change it.

It sounds goofy but you guys need to thank your lucky stars I didn’t include all y’all in the endless iterations. Trust me. I make MYSELF crazy with the constant changes and endless indecision. It’s something I seem to do well.

Miss Carol can somehow just blow me and my vagaries off with a flip of the wrist and a toss of her hair, but most everybody else would be scratching their eyes out.

But this it. I SWEAR.

This is our little 1200-something square foot touron escape pod. Our bungalow of loooove.

And it’s a done deal. Really. Honestly. This is IT.

I’ve (OK, WE’VE) designed the house around nominal lumber sizes. Each square, if you care, represents two square feet. So if you’re really bored and still reading this and want to count, you’ll see that the rooms are built on 16’s and the walls are all 8′- hopefully minimizing waste, ’cause I’m green like that. And, ooh, so, cheap like that, too.


Am I becoming a turd? Is this ALREADY turning me into something I don’t want to be?


I’m hoping to hear from Dominion Power tomorrow that they won’t abort our little one ’cause I’m an optimist like that and then we can start building.

‘Cause building’s fun, right?

C’mon, let’s GO.

Nice pair.

Nooooooo, nooooo, noooooooo. Not THOSE.


Cute, right?

But and what you can’t see, what the camera couldn’t capture, was the twin thin lines of wind blown drool streaming horizontal from their lipless mouths while Cutter and Tug hone in on Miss Carol’s pocket-o-biscuits.

Holy Haysoos. What a pair. You’d think we never feed them.

The dogs, I mean.