My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Houses, Dogs, and Chocolate

Holy cannoli! The past few days have been very full, with lots of meetings with kitchen designers and shopping for flooring, straddling two houses and lawns (despite not living there anymore we're still being held hostage responsible for the cleaning and upkeep on our former rental till May 1 and since it's still being shown despite being under contract, that's a burden we could do without!) And we're at that awkward stage of most moves where we've got most everything unpacked and stuffed somewhere, but rarely remember the where part, so there's lots of "honey, where's the tape measure?" and "have you seen the corn meal?" It doesn't help that the kitchen is so tiny we're having to use a bookcase, stereo cabinet and hutch, plus garage shelves, to store most of our food and several kitchen gadgets. And then we had the added excitement of coming home from errands yesterday to the shattered remains of a lightbulb all over the freshly cleaned and dusted dining room (the overhead light fixture it was in wasn't even on, and why the bulb exploded is anyone's guess!), and a phone call from our contractor first thing this morning needing to know pronto what size windows we wanted on either side of the fireplace (a custom addition we'd requested a while back that will look something like this) and where on the walls we wanted them placed. YOU try figuring that out early in the morning without being able to see the windows or the yet-to-be constructed wall they'll go in! (I'm a visual person so I need to see what I'm talking about, so thank goodness for the brilliant Houzz and their bazillion photos of house interiors and exteriors, landscaping and products!) After finding the right sized windows on the manufacturer's web site, getting entangled in the ("honey, where's the") tape measure, and checking some photos on Houzz, we came up with an answer that we ended up changing about 20 minutes later, but are pleased with now. We think. :-) Whew!

Anyway, I guess now it goes without saying that they've started framing our house. Here's how it looked last Saturday, with the crawl space framed and the sill plate (the boards bolted to the top of the foundation walls) installed and ready for floor joists...

It was a dark and stormy day, as you can see from the view of the mountains from our lot (for you, VioletSky!), and we ended up with some real gullywashers over the rest of the weekend. If it's going to rain, then let it be when they're not working on our house!

Yesterday dawned cloudy and raw but turned beautiful by mid-afternoon. We were in the area dropping off a wedding present so drove by building site again, snapping this photo on the way a couple of blocks from our lot... 

And then we turned the corner and were amazed to see this! Our garage was nearly framed!..

As was the chimney, off to the right behind the red dumpster. I think there's something inexplicably charming about that chimney standing there by itself, seeming to supervise the building of the garage while it waits for the living room walls that will keep it company. It obviously wasn't lonesome long, since one of those walls was what required the quick window decision this morning...

And this is how it was looking about two hours ago. The windows on either side of the fireplace that were merely theoretical this morning are now manifested (or at least framed) - if you know where to look, they're both visible in the second photo...

Took this from the elementary school parking lot,
hence all the cars. Kind of looks like our house construction 
has drawn a crowd of spectators though, doesn't it? :-)

In dog news, Josie got a clean bill of health at the vet last week when she had her annual heart worm test and a follow up urinalysis, about 5 weeks after her last dose of antibiotics to treat the urea plasma infection our vet thought might be the underlying cause of her years of recurring bladder infections. We'll have her checked again in early June, but this is a good sign!

I sometimes (especially lately) feel like the last person on earth to see some things, so some of you may already know about this viral video of Fiona the rescued blind dog that I just learned of this morning from the Freekibble site (where you can answer free daily dog and cat trivia questions to raise money to feed shelter dogs and cats). It has the most heart-wrenching beginning but the most heart-warming end - keep a hanky ready, you'll most likely need it!

Major kudos and good karma points to Hope for Paws Animal Rescue

And also to the makers of Rescue Chocolate, who donate 100% of the net profits from sales of their vegan chocolate bars to animal rescue groups! I also learned about them just this morning, from the wonderful folks at Vegan Cuts who are currently offering a sweet deal on a variety six-bar pack...

So there you go! You can provide a loving, forever home to a furbaby from your local shelter if you're able, play Freekibble every day to help feed critters in need, reward yourself for your good deeds with some vegan Rescue Chocolate and help even more critters, and make everything else you eat (and wear) vegan too, to help billions more critters! Talk about a sweet deal!

Mmm, a chocolate lab! :-)

Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone, and I'll be back as soon as I can with more house updates and other goodies!


  1. You're so busy I get tired just reading about your activities! :-)

    The mountains look exquisite.

    I'm glad the fur people check out ok.

  2. What progress! Just from I see, it looks like a well-constructed home. You guys are going to love it...someday ;-). Glad Josie's doing well. How are you two holding up? xoxo

  3. The house seems to be going up right before our eyes! I love seeing the progress. Too bad, though, that you're having to clean and organize two other living spaces, neither of which feels like your own. Soon, you'll be happily decorating your new home, and appreciating it all the more because of the small space you're temporarily in.

    I posted the blind dog on fb some time ago, and I've watched it several times, but don't think I can bear to watch it again. The pain some animals are made to endure is unconscionable.

  4. I am so excited half a world away as your home goes up that I cannot imagine how you must be feeling.

  5. Wow that house is coming along so quickly - I would have been completely flummoxed about the windows by the way! I think it a complete bummer that you're responsible for the upkeep etc on Dragonfly Cottage when you're not there any more!!!

    You were right about that video - it made me cry, but what a happy ending, sniff sniff.

    Love that picture of the cow and the chocolate lab - LOL!

  6. Thank you for more mountain views!!!

    I thought at first that all those cars belonged to the workers and thought wow, this will be done in record time, or else they will all be tripping over each other!

  7. Good post. Your house is going up fast. Your life will run smoothly again once you are in the new house. Wonderful story aobut the dog that was saved! Your mountain view is beautiful. -- barbara

  8. veganelder ~ I know, me too! :-) It's supposed to be cool and rainy today, so I'm hoping for a quieter, more relaxing day curled up with a book and cup of tea. Hey, a girl can dream! :-)

    I think the mountains are especially pretty on sunny days at this time of year, with snow still in the high country and green grass and new leaf buds in the foreground.

    Spud ~ The framing part does go fast! BW was by there a couple of times yesterday (nice that it's on his route!) and said there were about a half dozen guys working on it and more progress was evident, so I look forward to getting another look at it this weekend. It'll be exciting when the second story goes up! I think it's going to be very well constructed - Todd has a sterling reputation among everyone we've talked to over the past year. People who bought his spec houses, people he's built custom homes for, realtors, members of the building trades, even former employees. Haven't found a person yet who had anything but glowing praise for him and his work, so we're hoping to join our voices to theirs when we're living in one of his houses! He loves building this style of house, so it seems like a good match.

    We're holding up okay - there have been stressful days and moments, but hopefully things have started to settle down and a lot of the big decisions and budget challenges on the new house will come together soon, and our responsibilities for Dragonfly Cottage will be a thing of the past and we'll get our security deposit back! Thanks for asking, Spudly, and for caring about us! :-)

    Andrea ~ It really is taking shape quickly - feels like time lapse photography every time I go take pics of it! :-) Seeing it make such satisfying progress helps us deal with the burden of two rentals, psychologically at least. At least half that burden will be mostly behind us on May 1 (our scuzzbag landlord is requiring that we produce proof that we paid our final electric and water bills before he'll refund our security deposit, which will mean a delay of 3 weeks or so. Hey, he's the one with a history of bankruptcy and absconding with other people's money, not us!) As for our current rental, we're pretty much just camping. Feels like we're living in a Motel 6, only without maid service. :-) We seem to be getting into a comfortable routine, adjusting to some of the inconveniences and enjoying our new surroundings and the relative simplicity of living here. BW even rode his bike to work yesterday, which he really enjoyed!

    I only viewed Fiona's video once so far. That beginning part is so tough to watch. And I couldn't agree more that the suffering - physical, emotional and psychological - we inflict on our fellow animals is utterly unconscionable. I wish Fiona were the last critter who had been made to endure loneliness and pain, her rescue and happy ending would be so much more joyful than it is. People and organizations like Paws for Hope and Rescue Chocolate - and fellow vegans like yourself - give me a lot of hope and comfort, though!

    Ellie C ~ Aww, thanks Ellie! I'm excited but still overwhelmed by all the decisions and choices we have to make. I'll be glad when the kitchen and flooring portions of it are settled, at least, but that won't be for another few weeks. We seem to be good at whittling down the seemingly infinite array of choices to just two or three fairly quickly, but making that final choice is more challenging, as is having champagne tastes on a beer budget! :-)

  9. Barbara (UK) ~ It sure is, and I hope they don't need to know our cabinet, flooring and paint color choices TOO soon! :-) Thanks for your solidarity in the flummoxed department. Yesterday morning the call was about the door into the study. Did we want French doors as the plans call for or a single door like we'd mentioned weeks ago? Luckily I'd done my homework and found that French doors aren't as expensive as I'd feared, so I was ready with the answer. Then he wanted to know how wide I wanted them and I was suddenly unsure of myself. Again I went with what the plans called for - a pair of 2-foot doors. Figure that's wide enough to get our desk through, but won't take up too much wall space for that room's size. But I can tell it will be difficult for me to not second guess myself a lot if he keeps asking me these trick questions! ;-)

    Me too, and what especially pisses me off is he's holding us to the minutiae of our lease for the last two weeks (out of nothing but spite), but felt no obligation whatsoever to keep his word about addressing that stupid trap door to the basement or not listing the house till May 1! Hate to say it, but he's a stereotypical rich man. And a total booger.

    Thanks for watching the video - seeing her amazing transformation was worth the teary first part, wasn't it? And aren't that sweet kissy cow and her chocolate lab friend the cutest?

    VioletSky ~ My pleasure!! :-) LOL about all those cars belonging to the work crew!

    Barbara (KY) ~ Thank you! "Smoothly" would be wonderful. It feels like a long time since life ran smoothly and I'd loved to be reacquainted with that feeling! :-) I'm glad you enjoyed Fiona's remarkable story, and the mountain views!

  10. I was dismayed to find that Rescue Chocolate, which I always liked buying, is on the "not recommended" list of Food Empowerment Project's Chocolate list. What do you think?

  11. I think greedy people have made it unnecessarily hard to be a good and conscientious citizen, that's what I think! Grrr.... slave labor in the 21st century. Why must people be so wicked?

    I hadn't checked the Food Empowerment Project site, and I'm chagrined to hear that Rescue Chocolate doesn't have a gold star by their name, but was somewhat mollified to see that they're on the "but are working on the issues in various ways" list. Maybe an email to Rescue Chocolate, thanking them for what they're doing and encouraging them in their efforts to source slavery-free chocolate, wouldn't be a bad idea.

    Sure am glad to see Endangered Species and Teeccino on the Recommended list, since I just enjoyed a Chimp Mint and a mug of Teeccino Organic Maya Chocolate this morning! :-) Not surprised to see Edensoy on that list too, that is one company that seems to do EVERYTHING right!

  12. Andrea ~ I forgot to thank you for pointing that out. And I also made it sound like I ate a Chimp Mint for breakfast, which sounds like a splendidly self-indulgent idea, but in fact I ate it for dessert after my lunch out at The Health Nut yesterday, where Robyn and I now eat since Tumbleweed is Tango Uniform.

    ANYway, I read about Rescue Chocolate's stance on fair trade and chocolate sourcing on their FAQ page, and then I read more on the Food Empowerment's web site about what it means to be on each list, and then I emailed Rescue Chocolate and told them I was confused and to please explain. We'll see what they say.

    And I did all this while fielding and making phone calls to and from Todd and BW about our master bedroom windows because those speed demons are already framing the second level! EEEEK!! I'll need to scoot over there later today or tomorrow and get some new photos!

  13. Oh Laurie,

    You made me cry with the video about Fiona. God bless her! I'm so happy they saved her; what a darling! It's so good for the heart to see that!

    Then you made me laugh with the cow and the chocolate's been an emotional roller coaster ride over here!

    Anyway, the house looks like it's coming along well: very exciting!! Those sky shots are very beautiful too.

  14. Andrea ~ I got a very lovely, prompt reply to my email from Sarah, the founder of Rescue Chocolate. Here's an excerpt:

    I'm not quite sure how the Food Empowerment Project decides to put companies in its various slots. They used to have us in the un-recommended slot. I contacted them and explained how we use couverture from Callebaut, which really is completely responsible in its production processes around the globe. That prompted the FEP to move Rescue Chocolate up a notch, but not any higher. I can only theorize it is because my labels do not carry a fair-trade logo (for the reasons you saw on my website).

    I would stop producing Rescue Chocolate in a heartbeat if I thought there were human beings harmed or exploited because of it. Even though Rescue Chocolate's mission is to help animals, I happen to believe that we are all part of the same web of life.

    (I couldn't agree more!)

  15. Rose ~ I'm not the least bit surprised at your response to Fiona's video, and I'm glad you watched it and it gladdened your heart! You do so much to rescue so many animals from dire circumstances and give them such safe, comfortable, happy homes and tender, loving care that I imagine a video like that would be especially inspiring to you. Abundant blessings also to you and your critters, Rose! :-) xoxo

    Happy Friday!!

  16. I actually read this post on Monday but it was so long to read (that's a good thing) that I didn't have time to write before lunch was over and yesterday - no lunch. So here I finally am.

    First of all, I have to comment on the crawl space. Here all homes I've ever seen (and in NH) have full basements so I'm not familiar at all with crawl space so I'm VERY intrigued by the walls being built in the crawl space. Do they serve a purpose in the crawl space or are they meant to provide some structural support for the floor above. If they are structural support, it's an odd configuation but if they serve some purpose in the crawl space, it eludes me what that could be. Very interesting!!

    I loved your description of the chimney supervising the site. Very true! Framing always seems to go up fast but that is REALLY fast. I imagine it's hard to keep up with.

    I watched the blind dog video and it was so heartwarming. I would have never guessed that was a white dog! Poor baby and hooray for the Rescue folks.

    I LOVED the chocolate lab joke at the end. A perfect way to tie in your chocolate and dogs stories together. Too funny.

  17. Jo ~ Although we discussed the baffling interior framing in this crawl space on the phone, I still wanted to respond to your comment here! We thought it looked funkily interesting too, and our best guess is that it's a support system that allows full access to the entire crawl space, but we don't know the actual answer. Todd (our builder) is known for building very stout houses, and also for incorporating the latest techniques and products (for instance, his spec houses around the corner both use epoxy grout - no sealing required - and timers on the bathroom fans, since most people don't leave their fans on long enough for adequate moisture venting after a shower). So I'm wondering if this is a new building technique. I wish I could have asked him by now because we were curious too, but given how busy he is and how many more pressing questions we have for him when we get a chance to talk to him, that question will have to wait till closing! :-) Meanwhile, let's pretend it's a state-of-the-art wine cellar. :-)

    The framing slowed down a bit due to weather delays and demands from his other construction projects, so they haven't framed our walk-in closet or laundry room yet (both were spaces we re-designed from the original floor plan), but they do have it sealed against the weather now. Well, as best they can given there are no doors or windows yet! I'm hoping things will start clicking along quickly again soon, since our current lease is up on Aug 1 and I know that date will roll around quickly, and we have to fit our move in there somewhere, too!

    Thanks for taking the time to watch the video. I know, wasn't her transformation amazing? From frightened, miserable, sad and dirty-grey to playful, healthy, happy and sparkling white! Hooray for the Rescue folks indeed.

    I was so glad I had that sweet (no pun intended) picture in my stash of the cow licking the chocolate lab! I was quite tickled to find it, and agree it did a perfect job of tying chocolate and dogs together (two things that normally don't work well together at all, since chocolate is toxic to dogs!)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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