Asheviller: Ron and Valerie Move to Asheville…

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Mar '11

What are Black Bears, Delinquent Teenagers, and Abandoned Puppies?

That’s the Jeopardy question to the answer: Three things you find along Vance Gap Road.

Over the last year I’ve written about the bears, delinquent teenagers, and abandoned puppies found along our new street. This past weekend we were back around to abandoned puppies. On Sunday morning Valerie was walking Serena and came across a scared, timid puppy (about 6 months old) hanging around the fire hydrant about 1/4 mile from our house. It took a while but with some water and food Valerie was able to get it to come to her and she was able to leash it and bring him home. [Disclaimer: No, we are not adopting it!]. It was obviously abandoned because it had no collar and was starving and thirsty. Because it was Sunday and county animal control was closed Valerie contacted Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. Typically, no-kill shelters don’t take strays, they normally need to go through the system – a three day hold at animal control to see if they’re lost, evaluation for adopt-ability, spay/neuter shots, and then moving to the Humane Society. Several times a week rescue operations such as Brother Wolf make the rounds through the shelter to get animals they think would make good pets or ones they think would eventually make good pets with some TLC. Somehow Valerie sweet-talked Brother Wolf into taking the puppy – it could have been the situation, the fact that the puppy was very timid, Valerie’s schmoozing or her $ donation.

Meanwhile, back at the Vance Gap…I get a call from Lisa who owns the other house on our street. She had guests staying the weekend. When they left they called her to say that a stray dog had been hanging out around her house. I said, “no problem, we’re already on top of it” and told her the story about Valerie and the puppy. Case close.

In the eveing I take Serena for her walk. We head on down to Lisa’s and I make a loop while Serena snorts around. I get about halfway back up the hill and notice that Serena’s missing. I call and call. No response. Weird. So, I walk back down to Lisa’s calling Serena along the way. Nothing. I walk on Lisa’s deck, peer into her screened porch and see two giddy playful dogs staring at me – Serena and puppy #2. It’s now 7:00pm and past closing time for Brother Wolf. We aren’t really setup for a rambunctious puppy to spend the night but luckily Cindy and Dave our neighbors walk by and offer their large dog crate so puppy #2 can camp in the garage.

This morning we head on down to Brother Wolf expecting to “donate” puppy #2. The drive down was an adventure. Puppy #2 pees whenever he gets excited and he’s excited 100% of the time. A brief attempt at corralling him under the tonneau cover and blankets in the back of our Jeep failed in under 10 seconds. I ended up riding in the back (not the back seat, the back back) and holdingcontaining him for the short ride to Brother Wolf. I half expected what occurred when we got there. Since it was now normal business hours and the county pound was open they wouldn’t accept puppy #2 and, to make it even better, said…”would you mind taking puppy #1 with you?” Sure, the more the merrier, right? They did let us borrow a crate that fit in the back of the Jeep which made the trip much easier and pee free.

Brother Wolf promised to ”rescue” the puppies from the county after the three day waiting period and the county will neuter and vaccinate them so Brother Wolf won’t have to. Valerie checked in the puppies and got their ID numbers and later returned the crate. She also filled out a volunteer application for walking dogs. The circle is complete.

P.S. Although we’re super busy unpacking and moving into our new house we thought nothing of taking the time to care for these dogs and making sure they go to a good place for adoption. It would have taken the person who abandoned them probably 30 minutes more to do the right thing vs. dump them on our street. I can’t comprehend the thought process of such a low-life person…probably related to the flag thief.

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Mar '11

“The mountains have always been here, and in them, the bears.”

Last night about 8:30 I walked from the living room to the stairs to carry a box up to our bedroom. There’s a window in the stairwell that looks out to the front yard and the street. As I rounded the corner something caught my eye. It was big, black, and moving. What is that? It’s a bear! I yelled to Valerie in the living room, “Hey, there’s a bear out front!” Oops. Wrong thing to say. Serena knows the word “Bear” and she proceeded to go nuts, running to the window, barking and growling. Just as Valerie got to the window another bear showed up, then another. They are the mother and year-old twins that live in the neighborhood. It was garbage night and they were out scavenging. Serena’s barking made them leave without making a mess (next week I’ll put the cans out on Wednesday morning). Unfortunately, my security cameras were set up to only record movement in the yard, not in the street, so I didn’t get them on camera out front. But I did catch them when they left and went around the house and under the deck. Needless to day, I’ll be careful and be singing a song when I take Serena out for her evening pee. I’ve changed the front cameras to record everything so next time I’ll have better video. Welcome to the neighborhood!

"The mountains have always been here, and in them, the bears."
Rick Bass - The Lost Grizzlies

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Mar '11

“There’s still blood on my number two”

That’s what Valerie told me at dinner tonight when she pulled out her cell phone to check the time…to see if we should leave Luella’s BBQ and get back to the vet to pick up Serena. Say what? Vet? Serena? Let’s back up a couple hours. Valerie was out walking Serena in our new, one-day-old, neighborhood. Serena is off-leash most of the time since Vance Gap Forest is relatively quiet and she can burn off lots of energy running through the woods. This time, though, she came back limping and bleeding – a lot. She apparently stepped on something, probably a broken bottle. Valerie called me on the phone (I learned that I’m Speed Dial #2) and I drove down to see what happened. One look at all the blood and a quick glance at the open gash on her paw and we were off to the vet, blood soaked towel and cell phone in hand. Thankfully it was before 7:00 and the vet was still open. We got in quickly.

As the vet said, “there are paw cuts that don’t require stitches and those that do.” Serena got stitched up. The vet said that when she got the wound cleaned out she could see a major vein (she called it the suicide vein) running right along the cut line, untouched. Just a teensie bit to one side and it would have been a whole lot messier than it was. Serena’s very groggy and disoriented from the anesthesia but one week of bandages and calm on-leash walking, and she’ll be fine.

My question is…who’s Speed Dial #1?


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Mar '11

“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”

Ah, the famous line from the movie, Jaws. But, we didn’t need a bigger boat…we needed a bigger truck. Our movers, Dave, Mitch, Brian, and Thomas arrived at 8:30 this morning. They brought one large truck and one small box truck. After a quick walk-through of Camp Bell and especially Warehouse 13, our basement long-term storage area, they called back to the office to swap out the box truck for something bigger.

Loading was quick and painless. They tackled the upstairs first then moved to the garage and Warehouse 13 on the lower level. They loaded the piano at the end of the first truck so they could unload it first at the new house. Camp Bell was emptied (except for the plants and some living and dining furniture that we’re leaving for staging) in just over three hours.

While I was supervising the load, Valerie was at the house (after dropping off Serena at Happy tails) putting down protective paper on the floors and unpacking some of the boxes we moved ourselves.

Our caravan, or is it a truckavan, arrived at 12:30. We had a quick lunch delivered from Two Guy’s Hoagies and by 1:00 our four guys got back to work. After moving a few dolly loads of boxes to clear a path in the truck they moved out the piano. It was dicey, I was worried, but they made it down the deck stairs with only one smashed finger (Mitch’s), some paint scrapes on the interior doorway, and a couple broken stair treads. No broken bones or gouged oak flooring. There is no way the piano would have made it down the interior stairs. I’m glad we designed and built the deck stairs just for this one-time event.

The rest of the move went without a hitch. The pinball machine, jukebox, poker table, furniture, and hundreds of boxes all got moved in by 5:30.  The last item off the truck was a box labeled “SHOP”. Nine hours of labor, one hour of travel and four exhausted guys added up to 40 hours, one man-week, of labor to move all of our stuff. No, we don’t need a bigger house. If it doesn’t fit, it’s getting donated or sold, and for every new thing we buy we’re getting rid of two.




Mar '11

Going Dark…Camp Bell Unplugged

Tomorrow is moving day. We won’t be on email, Internet, Facebook, blog, etc until maybe Thursday when I get things set up at the new house. Our cell phones are intermittant there, too (we have AT&T so that’s no surprise). If you call and get voicemail just leave a message and we’ll get back to you, eventually. See you on the other side…

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Mar '11

Select Permanent

Last night I filled out the USPS online form for changing our address. I emphatically checked this box:

 √  Select Permanent if you have no plans to move back to your old address
Mar '11

Heart vs. Head

Here’s a snippet of script from near the end of the movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse

BILL (Jim and Muriel's lawyer) 
     Mind if I say something?
[ Jim and Muriel look at him curiously. ]
     You know, I've kind of been the voice 
     of doom about this whole project. 
     Every step of the way I was firmly 
     convinced you were getting fleeced, 
     bilked, rooked, flimflammed and 
     generally taken to the cleaners. And 
     maybe you were. Maybe it cost you a 
     whole lot more than you thought it 
     would. Maybe there were times when 
     you wished you'd never started the 
     whole thing. But when I look around 
     and see what you two have here -- I 
     don't know.
     Maybe there are some things you should 
     buy with your heart and not with 
     your head. Maybe those are the things 
     that really count...

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Mar '11

On March 3, 2011, Valerie Screamed

Today, at 4:30pm, we received our CO. The landscapers weren’t yet finished backfilling the top most wall but Steve called for an inspection anyway. The grading inspector came out, carried his level from the truck (uh oh), peered over the abyss (his feet never left the street), had some small talk with Steve, said “looks like you’ll finish it, I’ll okay it,” and left. He emailed in his approval and Steve picked up the CO 30 minutes (and 92 landscape timbers and 80 man hours) later.

Steve called us to let us know. Valerie screamed! I’m happy, but after this week’s unexpected and unnecessary fire drill I’m more relieved than anything else. When I get confirmation from the bank that we didn’t miss our deadline I’ll feel much better. Time to get packing and get those doggies movin’. Two trucks and four big guys arrive Tuesday morning.

Twenty-one years and 50 weeks ago we spent the first night in our new house in Johnson City. March 17, 1989.

Mar '11

Duet Material? Not!

We spent the day packing (I couldn’t bear going out to the house to watch the retaining walls being built). I was busy in the basement and Valerie was in the kitchen. Towards the end of they day we found ourselves singing and humming tunes…but they were noticably different.

I was locked into The Final Countdown and Valerie was tapping to I’m Walking on Sunshine. (The links will take you to the songs so you can listen for yourself.) Maybe you armchair psychiatrists can weigh in on what our song choices mean…or maybe it’s obvious.

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